Archive for February, 2009

Random Gibberish For Friday

Posted in Cartoons, Movies, News/Current Events, Sports, Television, The Wrapups on February 20, 2009 by thelasthonestman

There’s a lot on my mind as we head into the weekend, so  I figured I’d touch at brief length on a bunch of subjects rather than try to narrow them down to just one — it’s quantity over quality, baby!

That said, off the top of my head today we have:

Senator Roland Burris needs to resign — now.  I won’t say more about this today, but I’ll let this cat out of the bag now for people who’ve been reading here regularly.  Barring something happening in the next two or three days, I’ll have plenty to add about him on Monday — if you know what I mean.

— I had looked more favorably towards Alex Rodriguez earlier, giving him credit for coming clean regarding his steroid usage.  Now, I’m feeling more and more that getting the complete truth from him is going to be a futile endeavor.  So all your years with the Yankees were “clean”, Alex?  Isn’t that what you claimed?

— The Oscars are this weekend.  I usually don’t watch the telecast, but I will be checking in this year to see the results of two specific categories.  If Heath Ledger doesn’t win for his role in The Dark Knight, there needs to be an investigation.  And the same probably goes for Mickey Rourke’s turn in The Wrestler.

— Speaking of movies, I never did see the new Friday the 13th movie last week.  Read the reviews, and I probably won’t be going, but instead I’ll just wait for it to hit DVD/television.  It’s not that I expected the flick to get good reviews, but I’ve read reviews from horror fans who didn’t really like it, so that swung my decision. If people who have a predisposition to like the movie don’t really care for it that much, then that’s definitely not a good sign. Next up on the “I’m waiting anxiously to see it” train — Watchmen.

— Speaking of Watchmen, Malin Akerman is in it, and she’s pretty hot, if you hadn’t noticed.

27_dresses_malin_akerman-2

— Last week, I wrote about two shows I’ve been trying to keep up with.  After another episode of each, I’ll update with the following:  Last week’s episode of Flight of The Conchords was awesome, and the song “Carol Brown” — featuring Jemaine’s chorus of ex-girlfriends– is an immediate classic.  It’s the best episode of the new season so far.

Meanwhile, the 2nd episode of Important Things With Demitri Martin was a little disappointing, as it wasn’t as funny or as well-focused as the premiere, though there were still some good bits.  It’s only been two weeks, though, so the jury is still out on this one, and I’ll still keep checking it out for a while.

— Speaking of the jury still being out … well, it’s not out for me on the new layout of ESPN’s website.  I hate it.  I can’t find half the stuff I’m looking for anymore, and as a friend of mine pointed out, half of the content is in video form now, it seems.  Isn’t watching video on sports why I own a television and get ESPN, the network?  It’s also not helping matters that there seems to be less written content now from Bill Simmons (The Sports Guy), one of my favorites, in favor of pod casts from him.

— Two of my favorite, must-see websites to check out every day:  The Comic Curmudgeon and Medium Large.  If you’ve ever read the comics strip in the newspaper, you need to check out the former — and if you like funny, well-written comic strips period, then check out the latter.

Hope everyone enjoys their weekend.  I’ll be back on Monday at the latest.

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Scarlett Johansson Joining The Cast Of Iron Man 2?

Posted in Comic Books, Entertainment, Movies with tags , , , , on February 19, 2009 by thelasthonestman

Frankly, Scarlett is damn hot.

But is she going to be playing the role of Natasha Romanoff, aka the Black Widow, in the upcoming Iron Man 2 film?

Entertainment Weekly says maybe.  According to Hollywood “sources”, Marvel is in discussions with several actresses, Johansson the most prominent, to replace their first choice, actress Emily Blunt.

Blunt is currently committed to the upcoming Gulliver’s Travels, and her work on that film may conflict with the Iron Man shooting schedule, booting her from the film.

I’ll be the first to admit that, like Johansson, Blunt would be bringing a number of … er … assets to the role.  But for my tastes, Blunt has a more youthful looking face than Scarlett does, and I’m not sure that when I see her, I see the  “veteran superspy” that the Black Widow is supposed to be.  Of course, Johansson’s countenance doesn’t exactly scream “older and experienced” either, I’ll grant you — and she’s actually younger than Blunt — but I think she’ll be able to pull off the sultry, intelligent, and strong-willed personality that Natalia has better.  Like all comic fans, I have my opinion and I’m sticking to it — ’cause it’s the right one, of course.  How could you expect anything less from a die-hard comic geek?

One thing that isn’t up to debate is that, like every other issue that’s been associated with a big-screen release, certain comic gems are going to be the “must-have” grails for the serious comic collector to get their hands on.  For this movie, in addition to seeing a jump in the prices of Tales of Suspense #39 and Iron Man #1 (which both were red-hot leading up to the release of the first Iron Man film), the two books that will see the most interest will be Tales of Suspense #52 (featuring the 1st appearance of the Widow herself) and Tales of Suspense #46 (with the 1st appearance of the rumored villain, The Crimson Dynamo.

Tales of Suspense #52

Tales of Suspense #52

Tales of Suspense #46

Tales of Suspense #46

I already own a TOS #46 — but am still looking for the elusive #52.  Now’s the time to grab it if you can, but that may be easier said than done, as most of the on-line sites I frequent haven’t had it in stock in a high grade, making it one of the books I’ll probably end up having to try to hunt down in person in 2009.

Putting Things Into Perspective

Posted in Fantasy Baseball, Personal on February 18, 2009 by thelasthonestman

So I got the word earlier this afternoon that I officially wasn’t being invited back to a fantasy baseball league I’d been a member of for nearly a decade.  It’s not my main league, but I’ve certainly had fun in it over the years (and having won it twice, I was ahead so far as my monetary investment in it went).  I can’t say that the news came as a surprise to me, as there had been rumblings about the move being made since the new year began;  the conspirators behind the scenes of the move probably thought that I’d be shocked at the news, when I’d only have been so if their intentions had actually been better disguised instead of the clumsy cloak-and-dagger approach that ensued.

I’ll confess to having no real idea as to why I’d gotten the boot now, and after so many years with the group.  All of the league’s participants had played in various fantasy leagues I’d run, and while we weren’t what I’d call “close” friends, we were — or so I thought — more than just disposable acquaintances.  The guy who is in my eyes the father of the league was the one who informed me, and assuming he reads this at some point, I can again say how much I appreciated his going to bat for me in vain when the vote was cast.

Was I bummed about the news?  I guess I was  — like I said, it wasn’t my main league, and I’d prepared myself for the eventuality anyway, so my main “disappointment” came in wondering why the decision had been made.  Considering that I’d never done anything remotely warranting expulsion in any league I’d been a member of (and certainly not this one) meant that the decision had been a personal issue for those involved — again, mystifying since I’d never had anything but positive interactions over the years with the conspirators until now.  And worse yet, what does that say about the world we live in when people make matters “personal” over a fantasy baseball league?

Anyway, another league member who had lobbied against the move called me earlier tonight to offer his own condolences.  After a half hour or so chat on the phone about that and other various news of the day — and my thanking him for his support and friendship — I hung up and went about my business around the house.  For a moment.

Until the phone rang about ten minutes afterward.

This call was unexpected.  An aunt, close to me and beloved by all the members of our family, was diagnosed with breast cancer today (this isn’t the aunt I’m almost always talking about, for those who know me, but it’s someone I’ve always been close to nonetheless).  Unfortunately, the cancer isn’t being caught early, and needless to say, the prognosis I heard tonight is not optimistic.

So I’m resolving to say a prayer tonight for her well-being and recovery — and for those of you who believe in such things, I hope you can offer your own for her as well, as they will be greatly appreciated by not only myself, but my entire family.  I’m going to try to be optimistic, but I’m somber at what might lie ahead.  I come from a very large family that has a number of members advancing highly in age;  two uncles of mine were buried last year, and I’ve had to come to grips with the fact that more sorrow is inevitable.  Considering that I’m approaching the big 4-0 myself and grappling with thoughts of my own mortality lately, I’ve had to take a deep breath tonight and gain some perspective.  Perspective I don’t think I really needed, but that it never hurts to be reminded of.  Perspective about what really matters in our lives, and what we really think — or should think — is important.

Perspective, I would imagine, that a group of egocentric people I know of could use a dose of themselves.  Hopefully, it won’t take a call like the one I got tonight to give it to them.

I Ran Out Of Gas! I Had A Flat Tire! I Didn’t Have Enough Money For Cab Fare! My Tux Didn’t Come Back From The Cleaners! An Old Friend Came In From Out Of Town! Someone Stole My Car! There Was An Earthquake! A Terrible Flood! Locusts! IT WASN’T MY FAULT, I SWEAR TO GOD!

Posted in News/Current Events, Rants, Sports on February 18, 2009 by thelasthonestman

Did you forget any other excuses, Bud?   Or do you think I covered about all of them for you?

The first person I thought of when I heard Bud Selig with his lame “Don’t blame me” pity plea he delivered to the media Tuesday was  John Belushi from The Blues Brothers.  To my knowledge, Selig wasn’t wearing sunglasses at the time of his statement, nor was he 106 miles from Chicago with a half a pack of cigarettes in his possession.  A full tank of gas?  More like a tank of hot air, courtesy of the PR firm “Bullshit By Bud”.  Where’s Carrie Fisher and a gun when you need one to get to the truth?

Okay -- it's not from the right movie, but admit it.  THIS is the picture you were hoping to see, right?

Okay -- it's not from the right movie, but admit it. THIS is the picture you were hoping to see, right?

Selig is quick to come to his own defense, claiming that under his direction as Commissioner, baseball has “come farther than anyone had ever dreamed possible.”  B.S. Bud  is equally quick to point an accusatory finger at the player’s union, stating, “I tried to institute a steroid policy.  Needless to say, it was met with strong resistance. We were fought by the union every step of the way.”   Well, that’s just tremendously reassuring to me — isn’t it to you?

Of course, Selig isn’t going to mention that, while the players union was hostile to the idea of a steroid policy being implemented, the owners and the Commissioner himself weren’t exactly bending over backwards to make such a policy a top priority.  And why would they, with the game only just recovering from the incredible greed of both parties during the strike that killed the 1994 season (and nearly the whole game)?  They weren’t going to, not with that recovery planted firmly on the larger-than-life, artificially-enhanced shoulders of Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa — and their home-run hitting brethren.  As long as the money was pouring in, Selig — like everyone else in the game — was interested only in knowing as little as he could, thereby avoiding having to take any accountability later.  Just like in this case.

The only real progress in the steroid issue came when Congress — for better or for worse (and I’m one who won’t disagree that the government has bigger fish to fry than sports’ drug issues) — put the hammer to MLB and essentially forced the game to start cleaning itself up, with the players and owners grudgingly going along in public with an undertaking they’d probably wished they’d never have to see — and despite what he claims, never would have seen with Selig in charge if the feds wouldn’t have gotten involved.

The sad thing is about Selig’s childish finger-pointing is that the only way there’s going to be real progress in testing for performance-enhancing drugs in MLB will be for the owners, Commissioner, and the players union to — gasp! — work together on the matter.  Good luck with that now, after this divisive nonsense by the Commissioner, who has once again proven that he’s a poor substitute for real leadership in a role that requires it.   A real leader would have taken the responsibility for the problem that occurred on his watch, but like A-Rod’s 2003 steroid tests, “Don’t-blame-me-Bud” gets a failing grade.  Color me unsurprised.

Respect My Authoritah!

Posted in News/Current Events, Ro-Sham-Bo Award, Sports on February 16, 2009 by thelasthonestman

cartmancop1

So it was a pretty busy weekend for me:  there was the entertaining NBA slam-dunk contest, the not-quite-as-entertaining-as-I’d-hoped-but-still-pretty-decent HORSE competition, and of course, the All-Star Game.  There was also work to be done on the house, there was Valentine’s Day and my attempts to spend some quality time with the wife (who had to work most of that day), and there was writing to be done for my fantasy league’s Media Guide for 2009.  Whew!   All of this left me with less time to spend on the Internet, and in turn, on this site.  However, since I’d set my goal as putting up at least three updates or articles a week, and having posted at least that many every week since the blog started, I felt pretty good about having maintained that schedule, even if nothing new went up over the weekend.

But, it’s Monday — and that means it’s Ro-Sham-Bo time!  I had a few candidates I could have run with, but nothing really jumped out at me until I saw some of the headlines today.  Having been in a NBA-frame-of-mind all weekend made it easy to keep up the them when I saw one particular bit of news flash by on the ticker.

For the record, nothing infuriates me more (okay, that statement’s not really true, as most of what infuriates me does so at a pretty consistent level, but it sounds good anyway so I’ll keep using it) than drivers on the highway who put my life at risk with their actions behind the wheel.  I’ve never understood why you have to jump through hoops to get licensed to operate, let’s say, an aircraft — but to get a driver’s license, you need — in the words of Jerry Seinfeld — nothing more, apparently, than a face.

And there are a ton of drivers out there on a daily basis putting your lives at risk, make no mistake about it.  If you live in Scottsdale, Arizona, one of those drivers, apparently, is Jason Richardson.  If you missed it, Richardson was arrested Sunday night after driving at one point 90 mph in a 35 mph zone.

This isn’t the first instance of questionable judgement behind the wheel for the Suns’ guard;  in December, Richardson had been cited in suspicion of driving under the influence.  He called the incident as “one stupid mistake I made” — apparently, his actions on Sunday seem to suggest that he was looking to add on to his record with “Stupid Mistake No. 2”.

But speeding alone wouldn’t get Richardson this week’s Ro-Sham-Bo award;  the highways are filled with plenty of people who put their own lives at risk by trying to shave a few seconds off their daily commutes, and sadly, risk in turn the lives of the people who cross their paths (or lanes).  What makes Richardson award-worthy is that his 3-year old son was not only in the car with his when he was doing his Dale Earnhardt impression, but he was in the vehicle unrestrained.  No car seat, no seat belt — no helmet either, I would imagine.  Not that any helmet would have done any good if Richardson had seen his speeding jaunt come to an end against a telephone pole or another car, and if his son had gone flying through a windshield at 90 mph.

For the record, automobile accidents represent the number-one cause of death for children in the United StatesNumber one.  And it’s not because they’re behind the wheel, either.

Risking your own life is one thing.  Risking the life of someone who’s not old enough to have any say in the matter?  Inexcusable, and worthy of this weeks Ro-Sham-Bo Award.

Things I’m Watching When I Should Be Working Instead

Posted in Television on February 12, 2009 by thelasthonestman

I don’t watch nearly as much television as I used to, and I definitely have trouble these days following any show in a consistent fashion.  My schedule has always either been too busy or too inconsistent to block off a portion of the same day every week to dedicate to the tube (that, and once baseball season kicks in, with the Extra Innings Package I pretty much have a game on non-stop nightly from 6:00 CST to midnight);  I thought getting a DVR would help me solve that issue, but I find I just don’t use it the way I’d envisioned I would when I first got one (though my wife has completely taken to it).  The last show I tried to watch on a religious basis was The Sarah Connor Chronicles last year, and while I managed to make it through most of the first season, I missed this year’s entry entirely.

Most of my TV viewing tends to now be things I can catch repetitively on a nightly basis, usually a show I missed the first time around that’s now made it’s way to syndication.  That doesn’t mean, however, I don’t still try to sample the occasional new offering when I can.  One of the shows I’m trying to make an effort to check out is Important Things with Demetri Martin, which premiered on Comedy Central Wednesday night.

Martin’s style of comedy isn’t going to be for everyone, but I thought the first show went pretty well, all things considered.  The comedian is probably familiar already to regular watchers of The Daily Show — but to those who haven’t seen him, the comic I thought of when I first saw him was Steven Wright (who Martin has cited as a major influence on his work) — so if you enjoy a dead-pan style of comedy, Martin will probably be to your liking.

I don’t know how his show will end up faring; stand-up success doesn’t always translate the same on the small screen (remember what a disaster Frank TV turned out to be?).  I hope to not be disappointed, and at least for one week, I haven’t been.  Clips of the first show can be seen here on Comedy Central’s website.

Another show I’ve been trying to keep up with has been Flight of the Conchords, currently in the middle of a very-abbreviated 2nd season on HBO.  Again, for those who haven’t seen it, the show follows the struggles of “Formerly New Zealand’s 4th most-popular folk comedy band” as they try to make it big in the Big Apple.  The show is filled with dry humor that, like Martin’s approach, isn’t going to hit the right chord with everyone.  Personally, I found the show to be different than anything else you can find on TV now — and that alone made me an early fan (the aforementioned Martin’s appearance in the first season’s finale is one of the show’s highlights).  While the 2nd season has been a little disappointing so far (the Conchords themselves have had fewer musical numbers that have been solely theirs), the show still has been a must watch for me on Sunday nights and better than a lot of the usual, “safer” fare to be found on the dial.

For a good selection of their musical numbers, you can check out their MySpace page — or, you can watch this hilarious video taken from one of their first season episodes.

I hope to catch them live in concert this year (they’ll be touring the U.S. this summer) — if I can tear my wife away from the DVR, that is.

“Regular” Size Apparently Doesn’t Fit Into The Idea Of “3conomics”.

Posted in Personal, Rants on February 11, 2009 by thelasthonestman

So I’m picking up lunch at Wendy’s this morning, ordering my usual for there — a #1 combo.  Simple enough.  The woman taking my order asks me in return the following.

“Medium or large?”

I bit my lip for a second and then answered back, “Uh … neither?”

You see, there is a regular size for the combo meals at Wendy’s — the medium and large sizes are upgrades that cost additional to the price of the combo meal.  I’ve been used to hearing the popular phrase, “Would you like to upsize that for only an additional X amount” — or something close along those lines when I’m ordering food, but only recently have I been met with the request to simply choose how much I want to upsize, with the implication that I don’t have any choice in the matter as to whether or not to spend the extra 50 cents or so.

I’m not a big guy, and my appetite isn’t one for huge extra-value meals anyway, so I’m just fine with my regular-sized drink and fries, thank you very much.  While it’s a smart sales technique on the part of the person taking the order, there’s something misleading about giving the customer the impression that medium is the smallest (and cheapest) default order size you can get with your combo.  Most customers, I gather, don’t even catch the fact they’re getting the more expensive order size, as I’ve never heard anyone else in line with me (when I’m inside) correcting the person taking their order.

What piqued my curiosity today was that I heard this sales-pitch for the first time at the Wendy’s near my house — all of my previous experiences had been at the store near my wife’s former job.  I had assumed that the tactic was something only being taught in that store — but today’s experience makes me wonder if Wendy’s is teaching the technique to all of its employees, in a somewhat shady attempt to raise revenue.  Anyone else around the country like to weigh in if they’re hearing the same practice near them?

Up-selling is perfectly okay — so long as you’re upfront to the customer about their options.  This technique doesn’t fit that description, and as silly as it might sound to you, it’s enough of an irritation to make me think of looking elsewhere when I get lunch on the go.  It’s not like there’s not a lot of other options out there.