June 17, 2009

You make-a my dreams come true.

I foresee this taking Keyboard Cat to a whole other level - session musician on videos from the past. I can't fucking wait.

June 9, 2009

Up.


I dare 2009 to bring me a better movie than Up.

The argument I've heard most often against Up (rarely, but enough to note) is that it's an animated movie, and animated movies are for kids. Now, you'd think after Ratatouille and Wall-E, two films that got more than a little talk about Best Picture Oscar nominations, most people would wise up to the fact that Pixar's animated flicks are works of art in both style and substance. But apparently not. And you'd think that the 98% Rotten Tomatoes rating it has would sway almost everyone - I know most people are stupid, even movie reviewers, but it's hard to argue with across-the-board praise like that.

And the thing is - it's entirely justified. Some things in Up come out of left field - animated or not, I didn't walk into this particular movie expecting to see talking dogs. But, like most other things Pixar does, it just works. They're able to mix the real emotion of an old man fulfilling a promise to his wife with the absurdity of a giant, screeching bird and a dog telling a dead squirrel joke with such ease that it's impossible to not be enchanted.

The first 15 minutes have been talked up enough as is - yes, you will at least tear up - but I'd like to emphasis once again what has proven to be one of Pixar's major strengths: Telling their stories without words. Much like the first half-hour of Wall-E, the entire montage sequence in Up that's bringing audiences to tears is a light musical composition over a collection of silent scenes. Yet it's absolutely gut-wrenching, and it perfectly illustrates the problem with other animated movies - the palette these directors and writers have to work with is unlimited. A skilled director in this medium should be able to paint the most beautiful pictures, draw out extremely elaborate emotions and tell the most complex stories of all, because only the sky is their limit. But they don't.

Over the course of time, someone decided to make animated movies strictly for kids. Even though many of the Disney movies from the past hold up as terrific features, in the mid-90s it seems like dancing and singing animals, painfully cliched love stories and celebrity voice-acting officially became the standard template that every animated movie had to follow.

And again, therein lies the beauty of Pixar. They work within this template to a certain extent (although they lampoon it a bit with Up's brand of talking animal) - no matter how many adult themes they manage to slip in, these are definitely movies that your kids will love. But at the same time, instead of casting Brad Pitt as a voice, they cast Craig T. Nelson. Or Ed Asner. Or Jeff Garlin. Instead of talking down to kids, and making movies with fart or poop jokes (if you've seen the G-Force trailer before Up, you know what I mean), they make movies, and characters, with real emotions, and it seems like kids are still able to respond.

When it comes down to it, there is no more reliable studio in American filmmaking than Pixar. Not only are their movies extremely popular, but they are extremely terrific. I saw Up for the second time in a week last night, and I appreciated the humor or emotion just as much. In fact, I even caught some jokes I'd missed the first time around. At this point, it's no fluke - Pixar knows how to tell (and illustrate) a movie better than anyone. If you want to see a brilliant, dazzling, heartwarming film, go see Up.

June 7, 2009

Don't stop thinkin' about tomorrow.

If you like Fleetwood Mac, and if you like marching bands, you'll LOVE Fleetwood Mac WITH a marching band.

In all honesty, this is awesome. Every good song should break down at the end into a horn-and-drum clusterfuck.

June 3, 2009

Does Ray = Jay?

According to CSNPhilly.com, the Philadelphia Flyers have signed Ray Emery to be their starting goaltender in 2009-2010.

Everyone seemed to think the Emery rumors were a bargaining tactic, designed to get Marty Biron to drop his asking price. Well, that doesn't appear to be the case, as the once-troubled Ottawa Senators goalie/martial arts expert looks like he'll be assuming Biron's spot between the pipes.

The knock against Emery has never been that he's unskilled - it's been that he's unbalanced. Tim Panaccio, in the same CSNPhilly story, reminds us that set a junior club record for fighting (as a goalie!!), and he got in loads of trouble in Ottawa for various misdemeanors. In fact, he was out of the NHL last year, seemingly shunned by all 30 teams.

But this is more than just a talent-based decision. Being that we spent the entire last season pressed as close as possible against the salary cap, I'm not too surprised that a cost-cutting move was made somewhere on the roster. At the same time, though, I'd be extremely surprised if this didn't lead to a gigantic push for Jay Bouwmeester or a Jay Bouwmeester-esque superstar defenseman.

The Flyers are constantly mentioned as pursuers of Bouwmeester, and rumors have already started swirling of a move similar to the one that bagged them Kimmo Timonen and Scott Hartnell pre-free agency in 2007. A major upgrade on the young-but-talented defensive line would certainly make the Ray Emery reclamation project much easier to swallow.

As more information comes out, I think we'll get a better handle on A) Holmgren's intentions and B) Emery's demeanor, both of which will impact how Flyers fans accept this signing. Still, you can't help but feel that this is the start of something big, a major push by the Flyers to get over a hump named the Pittsburgh Penguins. If that's true, if this is Step 1, it'll be hard to find an unsatisfied Flyers fan amongst the mix.

P.S. As a Flyers fan, the psychopathic smile on Ray Emery's face in this video is also encouraging (...maybe?):

June 2, 2009

We like Roy.

The Philadelphia Phillies need a starting pitcher.

How badly they need one depends on who you ask, and when. A few weeks ago, Brett Myers was rolling and Cole Hamels appeared to be returning to form, while Jamie Moyer and Joe Blanton were floundering. Now, Moyer is coming off three solid-to-good starts, Blanton is rolling and Myers is out for the season with a hip injury. Meanwhile, J.A. Happ has locked down the no. 5 spot in the rotation, a change most fans clamored for the day Chan Ho Park was announced as the original fifth starter.

To put it simply, starting pitching, a strength when the games started to matter last year, has turned into a question mark. Hamels has yet to dominate, Happ is too young to be considered a known quantity and the other two have already had truly horrific stretches. Meanwhile, the team will most likely turn to names like Antonio Bastardo, Carlos Carrasco and perhaps even Kyle Kendrick in an attempt to catch that elusive "Kendrick in 2007"-esque lightning in a bottle once more.

In all likelihood, though, that won't work. What will work is a trade for a co-ace, and I can't recall a better time in the last decade to go ace shopping. Names like Erik Bedard, Jake Peavy, Roy Halladay and Brandon Webb are rumored to be available; acquiring a pitcher like that would not only make up for the loss of Myers, it would instantly elevate the team to "favorite" status.

But can we bring on one of these pitchers? Just because they're rumored to be available doesn't mean you can have them for a song. In all likelihood, getting one would require the rape and pillage of our farm system, including a few of our top, borderline-untouchable prospects like outfielder Dominic Brown and pitcher Kyle Drabek. This is not always the best way to go; however, when you look at how the Phillies positioned themselves this offseason, it's practically a no-brainer. It's time for the Phillies to go all-in.

The Phillies have basically locked up everyone that matters until 2011. That means this core will have three more years to win another World Series, including this one. Three more years where they'll most likely make money hand over fist, three more years with several of the top players in all of baseball, and three more years to show that 2008 was not a fluke. When you put a team together with this in mind, it's practically criminal if you don't explore any and every avenue to success.

So it's time to invite all of Major League Baseball to Reading, to Lakewood, to the Lehigh Valley. It's time to showcase Jason Donald, Lou Marson, Vance Worley. And in my opinion, it's time to go, hard, after Roy Oswalt.

Out of all the starting pitching possibilities, Roy Oswalt would be the best Phillie. Webb has been out for most of the season; he'd be a big-time risk. Peavy has already proven himself to be a bit of a whiner, possibly because he knows pitching in Petco Park is a starter's dream come true. Halladay is almost perfection personified, but he would probably require three premiere prospects AND Shane Victorino/Jayson Werth. Perfection doesn't come cheap. And Bedard, while talented and only under contract for the remaining 2009 season, is a walking calamity. No sooner would we trade for him than his arm would fall off, Freddy Garcia-style.

No - the play has to be for Oswalt. Everything I've read about him indicates a hard-working, down-to-earth player who rides a tractor in the offseason. He seems to have the grit and determination necessary to succeed in Philadelphia, and if he has any questions about his future home, former teammates Eric Bruntlett and Brad Lidge are only a phone call away.

Oswalt's contract goes through the 2011 season - exactly when our "window" looks like it'll close. Will he cost an arm and a leg? Yes - he's due to make $15 million in 2010 and $16 million in 2011. But the Phillies have been selling out every game, riding high on their World Series victory, and they still have enough ammunition to make another deep run. Oswalt would set the city on fire again, making another playoff run seem like a lock, and only endear the franchise to its fans even more. Rube, I think's a no-brainer. We like Roy, and we want him in Philadelphia.