Tales from the West Side
Thursday, January 24, 2008
Tuesday, January 22, 2008
Wearing Out Netflix
Between the holidays and the writer's strike, this has been a good time to get in some movie watching.
Superbad - It's not hard to believe that this was based on writings by Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg while they were teenagers. The two of them were lucky enough to make so much money in similar themed movies later in life that they were able to bring this to the screen with the same success. I am admittedly immature and can be quite a fan of foul language and sexual humor, so this movie was right up my alley and I enjoyed it. I'm sure many guys can relate to the story of best friends in high school dealing with the anxiety of trying to get drunk, laid, while trying to sort through the upcoming biggest change in their relationship. There were so many moments in the movie that brought flashbacks of my youth. I remember hiding in the bushes while the cops are chasing me, going to parties of school mates with parents out of town, buying liquor with a fake ID, and talking some serious shit about sex. Ah, good times.
Layer Cake - I was able to catch this on HDNet. It was similar to other British crime capers. In fact like most of these British movies, I probably missed 10% of the dialog due to accents or phrases that I don't know what they mean. It wasn't as flashy as Snatch or have as much catchy dialog, but it had a good story and it was well done. I think Daniel Craig would have looked better in his first Bond movie if he was still built like he was in this movie. He was muscular, but not bulky.
Talk to Me - I will watch just about anything Don Cheadle stars in except more Ocean's movies, and that's not because of him, I think he is the funniest character in the crew. This is a story loosely based on "Petey" Greene, a bold, black ex-con radio host in 70's era Washington D.C. and Dewey Hughes, the man that helped him launch his career after he served his time in prison. These 2 were a great team because they each had strengths that the other lacked. Dewey had vision and "Petey" had the voice of the people. As a white kid growing up in south Alabama, I don't have any memory of any of the things that happened in the movie and couldn't relate to much of it. I thought the movie was OK, but it was great to see Don playing this character.Amazing Grace - This was a good family film (as long as the kiddies are old enough to discuss slavery themes / death) that gives some background to the ending of the slave trade and abolition of slavery in England. You can see references that William Wilberforce also founded the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. Until I saw this film, I never even thought of how much of a financial impact that abolition was to cause the British nation. Of course the human life of African slaves was worth more, but I see how difficult it would be to get the support of certain people and business interests. I see similar problems with our elected officials today. Many times, there is too much money being made doing bad things to encourage change. It takes strong people with conviction that are also charasmatic to get things pushed through our government and social conscience.
Eastern Promises - This was a great movie that was not family friendly but written by the same guy that did Amazing Grace. Some of the team that did A History of Violence got together and brought us this story of a the Russian mafia in London and their interaction with a British midwife. If you've got a strong stomach for blades and cutting, you will see a great performance by Viggo Mortensen. You can tell he really was dedicated to his character and you never knew what to expect. This movie is high on my recommendations list.
War - This was an OK movie that got a little better as it progressed. I'm a fan of action, Jet Li, and Jason Statham movies so this should have been much better.
The Kingdom - Peter Berg makes some great "guy" movies. He does more work as an actor, but every now and then he gets behind the camera (Very Bad Things, The Rundown, Friday Night Lights) and it is a treat. I really enjoyed this film and thought it was very well done. It has a great cast and action was intense. I can't speak to the validity of "facts" that are presented in the film since I am a idiot when it comes to the state of affairs in the Middle East but I'm sure there is a bit of some ugly truths shown.
The Last Legion - If a movie or TV show has to do with Excalibur or King Arthur, I will attempt to see it. I've always enjoyed these stories along with Greek mythology. This was not one of my favorites and the only reason I would even consider telling you to watch it is to see Aishwarya Rai. I had never heard of her before, but man is she beautiful. Apparently the rest of the world knows who she is, just not this silly 'merican. She was Miss World 1994 and is known as the Queen of Bollywood. Colin Firth is in the movie if any of you ladies are in to him. I actually liked the premise of the story, it just felt very "B" movie grade despite the quality of some of the actors involved in the project.
I Know Pronounce You Chuck and Larry - A good but not great comedy with Adam Sandler, Kevin James, and Jessica Biel. It is worth a spot in your rental queue for some laughs and Jessica looks great in some of the scenes.
Reign Over Me - Don Cheadle and Adam Sandler do a great job in this. It is a well conceived story about 2 men who hadn't seen each other since they were roommates in dental school. In the time that has passed, Adam's character has lost his wife and children during the attacks on September 11th and has withdrawn from society. While helping his former friend, Don's character is able to realize that his life is in need of some repair as well. This is a must see movie when you are in the mood for a good drama that will make you laugh and cry.
The Bourne Ultimatum - Sweet Baby Jane! If you haven't seen this one, go get it. Matt Damon does another great job and the action stays strong from beginning to end while remaining a smart story. Our hero is still searching for answers and we see some characters from the past return to possibly assist him. Sequels and trilogies have a way of sucking, but this one is still going strong. I don't know if it will go as long as the Bond series, but I think it it is this generation's version of our Indiana Jones.
OK, now grab some popcorn and a Coke (I do live in Atlanta after all), dim the lights and fire up the movie box.
Monday, January 21, 2008
Winter Wonderland and Tournament of Champions
Our 2007 Neighborhood Poker League Tournament of Champions was on Saturday. I started the morning by getting a massage at Village Health and using the gift card that Stacie gave me for Christmas. When I left the spa, it was starting to snow for the second time in a week and it continued for about 6 hours. The beautiful snow storm prevented only 1 of the 13 qualifiers from making it. The weather never got bad, but there was the potential to have some slick roads by the time the game ended.
With 12 players, we paid top 3 and started with 2 six handed tables. We consolidated when we lost 2. Our Gigli was "Main Event" Mike, the 2007 points and money leader. He had a bad case of good, but second best hands to kill his stack pretty quick. If he had 2 pair, someone had trips. If he had trips, someone had a straight or flush. His top pair no good because I had the better kicker. I hated to see the host go out first, but if you've seen how much he's thrashed us throughout the year, you'd know that he's taken plenty of our money and aint hurtin'.
I played a pretty good game and felt like I had recovered from my bad play the week previous at Kaj's. I played my monsters a little slower with safe boards and didn't let anyone catch up when it looked dicey. I never put all of my chips at risk until we were 3 handed and I was the shortest stack but fairly close to even. The button / chip leader limps (300), small blind calls, and I check with 7,8. The flop comes out 5,6,7 and I bet 1000 which was a little over the pot after the small blind checks. The button then raises 3X my bet and I think for a few moments and then push for the remainder of my chips (about 4K more on top). He starts wondering aloud if I had flopped a straight or 2 pair. After a few minutes, he finally folds his hand face up. Since he showed his pocket Aces and it's a friendly home game, I showed him my top pair with the open ended straight draw. At that point, he was not pleased with his fold. To make it worse, we ran rabbit and I wouldn't have hit my coin flip. This knocked him down a good bit and put me in the lead. He only lasted a few more hands and now we are heads up. I played it very aggressive and kept taking pots until we both hit good hands on the flop. Unfortunately, his was better than mine. I'm in the big blind with Ace, rag and check after his call. The flop comes out A,7,X and he bets out at it. I have him covered and push all in. He calls and flips over pocket 7s for trips. Whoops! He continued on a roll with good cards and finished me off a few hands later.
I cleared enough with my second place finish to put me back ahead for the year and give me some cash for the ATL bloggers cash game tour. I won't be able to make the first one, but I should be good for a game in February.
Tuesday, January 15, 2008
Is Shana Hiatt Pregnant?
After a rocky start, I now look forward to Poker After Dark each week. "Ali" doesn't talk as much but I enjoy what he says more. I also like Shana more after seeing her deal with difficult people like Hellmuth. Her facial expression during his post game tantrum was pretty funny. She hasn't been on the last 2 weeks and I saw they changed "Shana's Bloopers" to "In The Muck". This further increased my suspicion that she is pregnant. I noticed about a month or 2 ago that Shana was starting to look even more "healthy" and wearing outfits that accentuate a visual advantages of becoming pregnant. Then she started wearing stuff that hid where a baby bump would show and now the have some new chick. They are still showing her on the website, so maybe it's just a temporary absence. I was right about Daniel N getting divorced, so let's see if I'm 2 for 2.
*Update* On a different NBC site, it appears that Shana has been replaced for the new season. The "official" site still shows her, but when you go under NBC Sports, they show Marianela. I am still baffled at how bad NBC's web navigation is. I mean, the same show has 2 different sites with different info depending on how you start searching.
Monday, January 14, 2008
2008, Not So Great
Poker wise that is. I joined Kajagugu, Weak, and Surf Friday night and played some of the worst poker I've played in quite a while. I wasn't very patient and didn't think about my actions enough. In the past 2 weeks, I have given back a big chunk of my winnings from his neighborhood. Not all of it went back to his hood though. I donated a buy-in to Weak when I pushed with Jacks right into his Kings in the cash game. Brilliant! I was mainly just bad decisions on my part. I over played too many hands that either got me stacked or winning very little. I slow played my monsters all the way to the river and let people catch up. I have really got to get my head back in play before our upcoming Tournament of Champions. A good cash in that could catch me back up and fund me for the next few months.
Friday, January 11, 2008
Uh Oh, Next Season Could Be Interesting
Just great! first our Off Coord gets canned / left before the bowl game and now one of the best Defensive Coordinators is lost due to a contract "misunderstanding." This is the kind of enthusiasm that will be hard to replace.
Texas, stop poaching our DCs dangit!
Thursday, January 10, 2008
Did You Know - Family Edition
I know entirely too much entertainment trivia so I thought I would release some fun facts to ya. Today's theme is "family."
Tom Cruise and Ethan from Lost are first cousins.
Paris Hilton / Nicky Hilton are nieces of the girl from Escape To Witch Mountain and other 70s programs.
George Clooney and Miguel Ferrer are first cousins.
The cute twins from the 80s teen comedy show Double Trouble are Peg Bundy's sisters.
Joely Fisher didn't even know Carrie Fisher until after she saw Star Wars and was told that Princess Leia was her half sister.
Nicolas Cage is a nephew of Francis Ford Coppola.
Now aren't you glad you stopped by?
Wednesday, January 02, 2008
Happy New Year
Man, what a great holiday break we had. We only worked 2 out of the last 11 days with very little travel. We went to Greenville for a few days but had to drive back to Atlanta on Christmas day to be able to work the 26th and 27th. We then enjoyed the next 5 days of no work.
Over the break, I did something I hadn't done in quite a while. I set out to get my drink on. Last Thursday during lunch, I went out and got a fifth of Patron Anejo with the sole intent of doing shots while playing cards at a neighbor's house that night. Mission accomplished! I don't know who won that night, but I only dropped $2 while playing for about 5 hours, so I call that a victory. We had lunch plans with our friends on Friday and although I was sure I could make it, who knew noon came around so fast? I wasn't my normal talkative self until around 1. My lunch just sat on the table looking at me and I just got it to go. A quick stop by McD's later and I was in better shape.
On to football. Ahhh, the Auburn - Clemson game. I was screwed going in to this one. No matter who won, I lost. If Clemson can get a decent kicker, they have got a great shot at being the ACC champs and more next year. Auburn is in for an interesting year with their "me too" spread offense. It's funny how things change so quickly. When they brought in Al Borges a few years back, they were so psyched to have a "West Coast Offense" but when we lost our stable of running backs, now we start looking for the scrambling QBs.
Here's to a great year for everyone. See ya at the tables.