Archive for the 'MUSIC' Category

The 2017 Biggie Awards (and my Top 10 & Bottom 5 of 2016)

The 28th Annual Biggie Awards

for the love of movies.

Celebrating achievements in film for the year 2016

So 2016 has come and gone. A year I had big hopes for about 15 months ago turned out to be quite a dud in the grand scheme of things. It was even worse than 2015. For the second year in a row, I rated no theatrical release a ‘9’ on IMDb. There were no masterpieces, no all-time greats. There were some really good movies, and I put almost 20 more films on my “Movies I Love” list, but in terms of quality and the ability to stand the test of time, even the second or third-best movies of most past years would have easily won my Best Picture award over this lot.

Lobster Farrell bury
Me waiting for 2016 to be over.

2016 also broke a pretty long streak of spectacular even-numbered years. It was such a mediocre year that it even gave us a Steven Spielberg movie I couldn’t bring myself to watch (The BFG). General cinematic malaise aside, there were, as always, some highlights…

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You Know What I’d Like to See?

I’ll tell you what I’d like to see. A lot of things. But let’s start with these random 25 things, in no particular order. We’ll cover sports, movies, television, politics, current events, and one sexy automobile.

WARNING: Since many of these turned into their own mini-rants, this post is rated R for language.

-I’d like to see the Boston Red Sox win their third World Series in 9 years, with the most likable team since 2004, and have them win this one at home at Fenway Park. What’s that? DONE, DONE, AND DONE? Excellent!


Continue reading ‘You Know What I’d Like to See?’

The 2012 Biggie Awards

The 23rd Annual Biggie Awards

aka The Biggies

for achievements in film for the year 2011

MMXI (that’s 2011 in Roman numerals, noobs), it was a strange year at the movies. Very strange indeed. For the first few months of the year, I thought it might end up being the worst overall year for the number of quality films in my adult life. Though there were a couple nice surprises early on (The Lincoln Lawyer, The Adjustment Bureau), it wasn’t until April that I finally saw a movie I truly loved (Hanna). After that, we went most of the rest of spring and almost the entire summer without a truly great movie, which instead was an unending string of disappointments and bland sequels. And I mean real bland, bland by even modern Hollywood standards (I mean, even Pixar made a subpar movie this year). That includes almost all of the major summer “tentpoles”. The big Marvel Avengers tie-in comic book flicks (Thor, Captain America) were both okay, but just okay. Then there was Green Lantern, which can only be described as godawful. I’m still having nightmares over the fact that a giant cloud of diarrhea was a villain in a movie that cost more than $250 million. Michael Bay continued crushing the memory of my childhood heroes with another shitty mess of a Transformers movie (Dark of the Moon, which was only 8.2% better than that atrocity Revenge of the Fallen), while Todd Phillips followed up one of the greatest comedies ever made (The Hangover) with an offensively lazy sequel that was almost literally a carbon copy of the first. I wanted more from J.J. Abrams‘ much-hyped Super 8 (hated the creature design, hated the ending), and although I enjoyed X-Men: First Class, it didn’t hold up as well upon a second viewing recently on Blu-ray.

Continue reading ‘The 2012 Biggie Awards’

Retroactive 2011 MTV VMAs Live blog

Hello there! I didn’t expect to be doing this, but as happens with most of my entries on this site, the inspiration came from out of the blue. In this case, the blue channel guide on my cable box.

I was flipping through the guide the other night, and when I got to MTV, I saw that the Video Music Awards were about to start. I had no idea until that moment when they were, because I haven’t cared about the VMAs in 9 or 10 years, and haven’t watched an entire VMA show in probably that same time frame. As I sat there, staring at my channel guide, I started thinking about just how out of touch I’ve become with modern music. 10 years ago I watched MTV all the time, read Rolling Stone and followed music news online. Nowadays, the only music I’m really on top of is electronic music (via the many podcasts I listen to) and film scores. I haven’t been inspired by any pop music in years enough to get back into following it, and I don’t EVER listen to the radio, so even songs that are huge hits right now often go unnoticed in my little world.

I decided right then and there I wanted to see just how out of touch I am with pop music in 2011. I didn’t care enough to watch the show live, but I did DVR it, and I was going to force myself to watch the whole thing later. I was even able to avoid almost all spoilers for the show in my internet travels the past couple days (an extremely difficult task these days). I didn’t really want to watch it, but then I came up with the idea of watching it with my laptop open and turning the whole experience into a blog post, taking notes and commenting on things along the way. Because what good is watching something like that if you can’t share your opinions of it with the whole wide world? Today, I sat down and watched all 2 and a half hours of the show, INCLUDING most of the commercials (I’ll explain why as we go), and here is what I thought.

In case you’re a complete idiot, the numbers before each comment are time stamps, i.e. how far into the show each thing occurred. 08:00 means 8 minutes in, 1:24:00 means an hour and 24 minutes in, etc. Did I really just have to spell that out?

My love can do no wrong.

00:00-8:00: The show starts with Lady GaGa in drag as her “alter ego” Joe Calderone, who gives this stupid, strange performance art monologue that makes no sense whatsoever. Then she/he/it performs a song I can’t identify. But at least she sings live, and does it well. So kudos for that. Various cuts to other artists in the crowd and HOLY SHIT when did androgyny become so popular? Between GaGa and cutaways to Bruno Mars and Justin Bieber, I don’t know who is male, who is female, and who is neither or both. Why is it so hard for these people to appear distinctly masculine or feminine? Weezer guitarist Brian Bell makes a cameo appearance, and of course most of the 20-somethings in the fan section next to the stage have no clue who he is. Cut to Taylor Lautner, who also appears clueless. But at least I can tell he’s a guy! Despite being named “Taylor Lautner.”

9:00-13:00: They cut to a wide shot of the venue and stage, which looks like the head of one of the alien machines in the 1953 War of the Worlds. Some guy named Kevin Hart (who, of course, has a movie to plug) is apparently the host. Or not. He declares he’s not the host and is just there to deliver an opening monologue. If that was his sole task, he probably should’ve made a better effort at making it funny. He curses a bunch of times, all of which are bleeped. Attention MTV: It’s cable. Either let people curse openly or insist that they don’t curse at all. The bleeping (it’s really temporary muting) is distracting. Cue obligatory Jersey Shore cast STD joke. Hardy-har-har!

13:00: Nicki Minaj (dressed like a complete idiot) and the newly emaciated Jonah Hill present Best Pop Video. It really is alarming seeing Hill, who seems to have literally dropped half of his weight. I don’t see how he could have possibly done that so fast without surgery. Good on him, though. He jokes about the people who have been saying that now that he’s not fat he won’t be funny anymore. I like that self-awareness. He then drops a quick plug for Moneyball (September 23!). I’m guessing no more than 14 people in that room have any idea what Moneyball is. Old Lady Spears beats out Katy Perry, Adele and…other people. Good to see Britney looking presentable again.


-This girl Jessie J is the house band playing during commercial breaks. It looks like she broke her ankle or something, so she’s performing in a chair with a boot on her foot. I’ve heard of Jessie J, but if you asked me to pick her music out of a lineup, I’d fail.

-I decided to watch the first commercial break, because I want to see what’s being advertised to teenagers these days. Nothing out of the ordinary during the first break. Wait, a commercial for A Very Harold & Kumar 3D Christmas. And now I want to cut my wrists. Why are they advertising a B-movie that comes out at the end of November now? Stupid. Needless to say, since I haven’t yet seen a Harold & Kumar movie, I’m probably not gonna start with the one that’s in 3D.

23:00: Jay-Z & Kanye West perform “Otis” off their new collaboration album Watch the Throne. More bleeped out cursing. Kanye is wearing skinny jeans and a denim shirt. Another cutaway to Justin Bieber, who can’t be bothered to even clap once the song is over. The song is pretty cool, but it’s not close to the best work from either of them. I’ve only listened to the whole album once, but it’s solid.

Which gives me an idea for our Recommended Listening today. This is my favorite track off Watch the Throne, track #1, “No Church in the Wild”:

26:00: Miley Cyrus and Shaun White present Best Rock Video. I don’t know anything about 3 of the nominees (Foster the People, Mumford & Sons, Cage the Elephant), but a band I have heard of (Foo Fighters) end up winning. Goodie for them. Dave Grohl gives a shoutout to Joel Schumacher and Falling Down, which apparently inspired the video for whatever song they won for.

-They show a commercial for Moneyball during the second break, in which Jonah Hill is still pudgy. It’s gonna be weird seeing him in red carpet pictures for Moneyball and The Sitter (the two movies he’s in this fall), where in the posters and clips you’re gonna see him where he’s twice as big as he is now. He literally doesn’t look like the same guy anymore. Freaky. Anyway, I enjoyed the Moneyball spot, but wow is this the wrong crowd to be advertising that film to. Way to waste that marketing money, Columbia. That was probably $75,000 down the toilet. Next time you guys wanna throw away that much money, give it to me instead. How’s that sound? It’s a shame nobody is going to see this movie. I just don’t see any way this is a hit at the box office, though with the pedigree involved (Capote director Bennett Miller, a script by Aaron Sorkin and Steven Zaillian, producer Scott Rudin, stars Brad Pitt and Philip Seymour Hoffman), it’s already being touted as one of the early Oscar contenders.

30:00: They cut to some stupid thing called the Twitter Tracker, showing how many VMA-related tweets have gone out since the start of the show and which artists are being talked about the most. I suppose this is interesting to…who the fuck does find this interesting anyway? Social media OMG!!!

-A promo for the upcoming Real World: San Diego. I love how they’re just redoing all the previous Real World cities. This cast doesn’t look all that interesting. It looks like they have a gay guy AND a genderbender. Whatever, I’ll probably give it a chance. The Real World has long been one of my guilty pleasures, and this last season (where they revisited Las Vegas) was pretty damn entertaining, which makes them 2-for-2 in Sin City. Maybe they should just do Vegas every season. But are we really out of cities we can visit? Come on. You wouldn’t watch The Real World: Worcester? Real World: Compton? I’m betting you would.

-Oh look, they found a way to incorporate Rebecca Black into the VMAs! Yay!!! Moving on…

35:00: Jack Black, Seth Rogen and Will Ferrell come out as “The Beastie Boys of the Future”, which is utterly dumb and unfunny and pointless, but leads to the introduction of Best Hip Hop Video. Nicki Minaj wins, and she still hasn’t changed out of that stupid outfit. Nicki, you’re fucking gorgeous. Dress like it.

Is there a category this year for Best Hip Hop Song with a Subpar Trendy Electronic Dance Beat?

45:00: Best Collaboration goes to my baby Katy Perry & Kanye West for “E.T.” It’s sad that Kanye West seems to be done interrupting people on stage and going on douchey, selfish tirades.

SIDE BAR RANT: Chris Brown was one of the collaboration nominees. I love how this complete piece of shit has no problem finding people to work with him. Is there NO ONE in the industry who looks at him and says, “Nope. Can’t do it. Don’t want to be associated with him.” No one has those moral principles, I guess. At least not publicly. How quickly we forget and dismiss. It’s like all his fans and the media and other musicians wanted the whole thing to go away without the guy suffering any real consequences. It’s pathetic, really. “Forget Rihanna! She’ll live! We need Chris Brown to get back to making misogynistic music we can shake our asses to!” This is basically what his female fans are saying. This dude can beat the shit out of an equally popular female celebrity and be back to work almost immediately, but we still have people whining about Michael Vick and dog abuse, even though Vick went to prison. No no, we can’t let go of THAT! Meanwhile, Chris Brown merely has a restraining order against him, which may or may not even still be in effect. For shame.

47:00: Paul Rudd & Rick Ross do the “We’re presenting together but we’re so different!” routine and introduce this Pitbull/Ne-Yo performance. Where did this Pitbull guy come from, anyway? He sounds like Sean Paul but looks like a Latino Vin Diesel without the muscles. A weird looking fellow, whose sole purpose in the industry seems to be to perform backup vocals and hooks for party songs. I guess that’s one way to make a living. Actually, this song should win “Best Hip Hop Song with a Subpar Trendy Electronic Dance Beat”. I do genuinely like Ne-Yo, though. He’s a damn good singer with several really good songs, and he was pretty good earlier this year on the big screen in Battle: Los Angeles.

-They just showed a promo for a new MTV series called I Just Want My Pants Back. WHAT?!

57:00: Katy Perry introduces the Adele performance. It’s nice when an artist is known only for their talents as a musician. I admit I’m late to the Adele bandwagon. Actually I’m not even on it. I’ve yet to listen to her album. But I know who she is, and that she’s known for being a damned good singer, not for what she wears, who she’s dating, or for any kind of outrageous behavior or other controversy. That’s always refreshing. And she’s British, which is cool. As expected, she gives a great performance.

-MTV shows an alarming amount of birth control/pregnancy test commercials. I suppose they have to after making a bunch of pregnant 16 year olds famous because of that stupid reality show, Teen Mom, which may be the most exploitative show in television history.

-It’s always interesting to see a commercial for a movie you didn’t even know existed. I just saw a spot for Bucky Larson: Born to be a Star, which is the latest attempt by Adam Sandler to produce a movie starring only his buddies. See for yourself. Further reminder that mid-August thru mid-September is the absolute worst time of year for movies.

1:10:00: Kim Kardashian (who, again, is famous because of a SEX TAPE, having a HUGE ASS, dating mid-level celebrities and being the daughter of one of the guys who got O.J. Simpson off) presents Best Male Video. And the winner is Justin Bieber, who can only barely be described as a male, and is only famous himself because of YouTube. These are America’s stars. Aye vai!

1:13:00: Chris Brown performs a dance routine, surrounded by fawning women, all of whom have conveniently forgotten what this asshole is capable of. They carry him above the stage on wires a few times, and I openly wish for the wires to snap. Kanye West gives him a standing ovation, as does Justin Bieber. Bravo. Is it clear yet how much I despise Chris Brown?

-Oh yay! Another Twitter Tracker update! #YOUCOULDNTPAYMETOGIVEAFUCK

1:24:00: Lady Gaga comes out, again dressed like a man, and presents the Michael Jackson Video Vanguard Award to Britney Spears. Shouldn’t GaGa be wearing a bear suit or a dress made of tampons by now? It’s sad looking at these video clips, remembering just how hot Spears was 7 years ago. GaGa can’t force her ego down long enough to stand back and allow Spears to say anything. And then Spears’ acceptance speech turns into another introduction, this time for a Beyoncé performance. As it turns out, Beyoncé announced on the VMA red carpet that she’s pregnant, which instantly detonated the internet. Beyoncé pregnant! 40-somethin people just died because of Hurricane Irene, but who gives a fuck! Beyoncé is pregnant!!! The 10th anniversary of September 11 is coming up. Who gives a fuck! Show me pictures of Beyoncé’s belly!!!

Kanye West shoves Jay-Z around in the audience, as if it was a surprise to him that Jay-Z is the father.

-A TV spot for Abduction, in which Hollywood tries to turn a 19-year old kid into an action star. God help us. And god help John Singleton, who used to be a real director. How did it come to this, brotha?

1:40:00: Selena Gomez and the aforementioned Taylor Lautner out to present Best New Artist. U Mad, Bieber? The winner is some guy named Tyler, the Creator. I haven’t heard a single thing this guy has done, but I’ve actually heard his album is decent. He comes on stage and bleep-curses up a storm. Stay classy, Tyler.

1:43:00: Jared Leto and Zoe Saldana introduce a performance by another band I’ve never heard of. The lead singer of this band is holding two microphones and alternating between them. Whatever, bro. I stopped listening to their performance to preview some Tyler, the Creator songs on iTunes.

1:53:00: Obligatory presentation by Jersey Shore cast for Best Female Video. God that was fucking awkward. Please don’t put any of these people in scripted television or films. GaGa wins, and completely ignores the Jersey Shore cast once she gets to the stage. This amuses me.

2:03:00: Russell Brand comes out to do a dedication to Amy Winehouse, who was apparently his friend. He does a nice job, though calling her a genius is probably a stretch. Tony Bennett comes out and introduces a clip of a duet he’d just recorded with her, and Bruno Mars covers one of her songs. Mr. Mars, love ya, but that haircut has got to go. He looks like Lady GaGa’s lesbian girlfiend. Anyway, he does a very nice job.

What the hell is on your head?

2:17:00: For some reason, Lionsgate decides to show the first footage from The Hunger Games on the VMAs. Jennifer Lawrence introduces the clip via a video recorded on set. And they may as well have not shown anything. It’s less than a minute, and pretty much just Lawrence running through the woods, then she shoots an arrow at the screen that becomes the film’s logo. Totally pointless. I’m still dumbfounded by the hype around this Hunger Games shit. If it was such a huge series of books, why did I not know anything about it until the movie was announced?

2:20:00: Katie Holmes, of all people, presents Video of the Year to Katy Perry. And Perry has placed a giant yellow block on her head.

I’ll tolerate it because I love you!

2:25:00: Featuring Drake (this is his new name, says me) presents the final performance from Lil Wayne, who has Auto Tune preset in his mic for “How to Love.” Umm, I don’t go to a lot of concerts, but just from watching this, I declare that Auto Tuning does not work live. In fact, it sounds so bad that I’m fast forwarding. He performs another song, but I have no clue what it is because he’s swearing so much that 70% of it is bleeped out. Brilliant planning. “Hey, Wayne, why don’t you perform a song that we can’t air?” “Great idea!” Somehow, I don’t think the skinny jeans look is gonna catch on with his black fans.

And that’s it! Yippee! It wasn’t as painful as I thought it might be. I recognized more of the artists than I thought I would, and almost all of the live performances were pretty good. That said, it was nothing special. I didn’t see any new artists that scream to be listened to, and I didn’t see any bands that look like they’ve got any staying power, either. Nor were there any truly classic songs performed or nominated in any category. There also weren’t any true superstars. If Justin Bieber is what counts as insanely popular these days, than the music industry truly is hurting. And yes, I realize the VMAs are not an ideal place to discover new music, but if I haven’t really been following new music for a few years, it should be a place where I see something new that I might like. Right?

It’s clichéd to sit back and say that the music of “today’s generation” is terrible, and that music was much better when I was 21. It seems every adult has said that for the last 50 years. So I won’t go there, mainly because I don’t want to sound like one of the people I despised when I was younger, when old, out of touch farts would complain about Eminem‘s lyrics. Sure, 10 years ago we had the Backstreet Boys and NSYNC and other such sugar pop, but we also had Green Album Weezer, OutKast, Dr. Dre, the emergence of people like Alicia Keys, The Strokes and Coldplay (back when hipsters liked them), to name a few. U2 (All That You Can’t Leave Behind) and Bruce Springsteen (The Rising) put out some of their best work 10 years ago. We still have guys like Jay-Z today, but he doesn’t belong to this generation. He belongs to my generation, who have been fans of his since the 90’s. Same thing for Eminem. He may have put out a great album last year that these kids are into, but he broke through in 1999 and put out his true masterpiece (The Marshal Mathers LP) in 2000. I see a lack of true greatness in modern music. Is there any album in the past 3 or 4 years you’d call a masterpiece? There are a lot of good artists who have come up in the past few years, but where are the legends? Where are the legendary songs? Where are the people who actually have something to say? Something other than, “Fuck you!” or “Let’s party!” Where is the substance in today’s music? Is there any? Is there anyone in rap/hip-hop interested in anything other than party songs that will sell a bunch of copies on iTunes that white people can grind to in the club? Sure doesn’t seem like it.

And if you can answer any of the questions I just posed about the artists of 2011, please point me to them. I’m desperate to discover new music, but it seems to be very difficult to find anything worth a damn right now. Shit, I just went there, didn’t I? Well, I am 79 years old. Fuck’em.

Large with Extra Cheese: #10

Welcome to my new and improved blog, Biggie’s Place. The name is a reference to the oft-used nickname of the apartment in Natick, Mass that my friends and I lived in from September ’05 to October ’06 when I left for L.A. In an effort to make my Facebook page less cluttered with my random and frequent opinions, and because I’ve had a lot of various topics on my mind recently, I felt it was time to bring back my semi-regular column, Large with Extra Cheese. I’ll also be going back to the more random, any topic any time blog entries that were a staple of my writing for several years, most of which was done on the blog section of my MySpace page. I hadn’t logged on to MySpace in literally months, and when I did a couple of weeks ago, the site looked completely different, and they’ve made the blog section a very small part of what you can do on the site, so as if there were any doubt before, I’m officially done writing on my old MySpace blog. I’ll have to dig through the impossible-to-navigate blog section to find the old posts that I’m particularly proud of before deleting my MySpace page entirely, but that will take a while. I absolutely hate what it looks like now, and I couldn’t even figure out how to edit the blog layout, so yeah…MySpace is dead to me, but I had fun writing on there for almost 4 years, and I think some of my best stuff was in some of those posts.

I’ve been working on this WordPress page on and off for about a year now, and since I was inspired to start writing again recently, I spent a good 3-4 hours last night getting the layout to the way I want it. Although it’s not perfect and there are surely modifications to come, this is basically what you’ll be seeing going forward, and I’m glad to say I now have my own site. You can bookmark it if you like, subscribe, “Like” it (though I wish I could figure out how to integrate the Like to Facebook link), anyone can add comments, and it even has the Facebook/email/etc. share buttons. So spread the word if you like or agree with what I have to say. Or even if you don’t. Some of the best debate stems from people who vehemently disagree. And I finally have my tags, which is something I’d been praying MySpace would integrate for years. AND…I can write the entries in Word and upload them directly to WordPress with formatting intact, which is awesome good times. So welcome, and without further ado, here’s what’s been grinding my gears this week.

“The Red Sox are now the Yankees.” No, they’re not.

In the past week, the Red Sox have spent close to $300 million on contracts for two players, Adrian Gonzalez (a reported 7-year, $154 million extension on top of his $6.5 million 2011 salary, and a 7-year, $142 million deal for free agent Carl Crawford), reminding many of the 2009 offseason, when the Yankees spent more than $400 million on contracts for CC Sabathia ($161 million), Mark Teixeira ($180 million) and A.J. Burnett ($85 million). This has prompted many critics, both in and outside of Boston, to proclaim that the Red Sox can no longer complain about the Yankees’ spending, and that any World Series the Red Sox win are just as “bought” as the Yanks’ 2009 championship.

As happy as I am at my team acquiring two excellent players who are both still in their prime, I admit I’m conflicted on what I think of all this spending. Crawford and Gonzalez should both be earning their megasalaries until at least 2015, and I actually think Gonzalez will earn his for the entirety of his deal, based on his position and skill set. However, I’ve said for years that if I were a Yankee fan, I’d be ashamed at what my team had to spend to win division titles and 1 World Series, regardless of whether or not they were turning a profit as an organization. Do I feel that way now as a Red Sox fan? Do I feel bad for the majority of MLB teams who can’t spend anything near what the AL East powerhouses do? Yes and no. No, because like other sports, some teams will never sign big name free agents, whether there’s a salary cap in place or not. For example, the Buffalo Bills have no better chance of getting a blue chip free agent in his prime than the Pittsburgh Pirates do, even if they could match the offers of a team from Boston, New York, L.A. or Miami. At the same time, I don’t like that every free agent in baseball is presumed to be going to the Red Sox or Yankees. There IS something wrong with that, and as a Red Sox fan I do feel a little guilty, but still not as guilty as I believe Yankees fans should.

Do I like how much money the Red Sox have spent recently, despite the talent we’ve gotten and how potent our 2011 lineup should be? No, but a lot of it, unfortunately is a necessity, and a lot of that necessity is based on what the Yankees are doing and can do, which apparently makes the Sox guilty by association. I think the Yankees would have a $200 million payroll no matter what division they were in, and the Red Sox would not spend $150 million+ if the Yanks were not in their division. I hate that we’re paying John Lackey $18 million a year, and the Josh Beckett extension looks pretty foolish at the moment. I’m concerned that we’ll be paying Carl Crawford, whose most valuable asset is his legs, $20.2 million at age 34, 35 and 36 when he probably can’t steal 40+ bases anymore and still won’t have big money power numbers. But unfortunately, the Sox have to add those extra couple of unreasonable years, because if they don’t, the Yankees will. That’s a fact. And now the list of big spenders extends to the Phillies, Angels, Cubs and Mets as well. Bad contracts are not exclusive to baseball, but the numbers are the biggest in baseball, so these huge deals get put under a bigger microscope.

Now, let’s do some more payroll math. This offseason, the Red Sox had almost $40 million come OFF the books before these signings (Mike Lowell‘s $12 million, Adrian Beltre’s $9 million, Victor Martinez‘ $7.5 milion and the last year of paying off Julio Lugo‘s horrible deal). In 2011 they will still be under the luxury tax, and will still spend almost $40 million less in payroll than the Yankees. They may have their highest payroll ever, but we won’t be spending anywhere near $200 million anytime soon. And keep in mind that in 2012, we’ll have David Ortiz, J.D. Drew, Jason Varitek and probably Tim Wakefield saying goodbye to Boston, which will free up about $35 million more, or in Yankee terms, just a little more than 1 year of A-Rod money. This year, the Yankees MIGHT lose Andy Pettitte, and will make Derek Jeter take a $4 or 5 million pay cut. If they add Cliff Lee (whose offers, if they’re to be believed, are approaching $25 million a year), their payroll will easily exceed what it was in 2010. Look, I’m not making excuses. The Red Sox are spending obscene amounts of money, and I wish they didn’t have to. That said, I refuse to accept the premise that we’re the “same” as the Yankees. That’s simple-minded and ignorant.

Speaking of wild spending, watching the Yankees pursue Cliff Lee has been nothing short of hilarious, because it clearly demonstrates that Lee does not want to go there. Ironically, the Red Sox signings have actually increased the Yanks’ desire to get him (really, they NEED him to help combat a Sox lineup that now has 5 lefties or switch hitters), which makes life good for Lee as they continue upping their offers. If you’re a Yankees fan, how does it feel to know that your team has to grossly overspend to get the players they want? They’re having to offer Lee 7 years to have a chance at him (in a rational world, he’d only get 4 or 5), which means they’ll be paying him more than $20 million at age 39. And because they have a reputation for overspending, they can’t get anybody for reasonable money, even if that player would accept reasonable money to go somewhere else. Cliff Lee does not want to be a Yankee and be in New York for the next 6 or 7 years, but if the Yankees end up offering, 10, 20, 30 million more than the Rangers are willing to go, at a certain point you can’t turn that down if you have any common sense. Then again, he’ll lose that extra money to New York’s absurd, myriad state taxes, which I’m hearing is something the Rangers are trying to get through to him. A wise move by Nolan Ryan and his team. This was supposedly exactly what happened with CC Sabathia, who only agreed to become a Yankee after they offered him the biggest contract ever for a pitcher. Now Sabathia is trying to woo Lee to New York, but mostly because they’ve been close friends since their Cleveland days. Sabathia may like it there now (his paycheck and the World Series ring will have that effect), but he wasn’t thrilled about it at the time, and no one else was offering anything close to what New York did. Cliff Lee is from Arkansas and still lives there full time. All things being equal, he’d rather stay with the Rangers. (He seemed to brush if off at the time, but one wonders if Yankees fans SPITTING ON HIS WIFE would affect his decision in any way.) But again, it’s a matter of how high the Yankees will go, and at a certain point it may become irresistible. If they get him, like all their other mercenary free agents, they’ll do a press conference and Lee will say how proud he is to be a Yankee, how much he’s always respected and admired the organization, yadda yadda crapola, and it’ll all be bullshit. You think A.J. Burnett wants to be in New York? No, but the idiots offered him $85 million.

On the flipside, the Sox’s biggest acquisition, Adrian Gonzalez, has repeatedly and credibly said that he’s been a fan of the Red Sox since he was a kid, and that if he couldn’t stay with the Padres, Boston was his preferred destination. The Red Sox have to overpay some guys simply because they’re competing with the Yankees. Does any of this matter when both teams are paying more than one player above $20 million a year? Maybe not, but I’m making the case there is STILL a difference between the Red Sox spending and the Yankees’ spending.


-I was browsing one of my favorite blog sites Friday, The Daily Beast, when I came across THIS article, by one Ben Crair, who uses the release of The Fighter as a basis to proclaim there have been too many “Boston movies” recently. Needless to say, that set me off instantly. Basically, he says he’s tired of seeing the same kind of people with the same accents, from the same neighborhoods, Fenway Park/Red Sox references, etc. He even vaguely tried to pull the “Boston is racist” card. I considered writing a lengthy response to him, but there’s no point trying to educate that kind of ignorance. My counter is this; so we should go back to the 80’s and 90’s when 95% of the movies out of Hollywood take place in Los Angeles and New York? I don’t fucking think so. Now, I’ve been saying for years that I want more movies set in and around Boston, but that I also wanted them to take place outside of South Boston, and that they didn’t need to prominently feature Irish Catholic characters. Those of us from the area know just how diverse it is now, and you could realistically set almost any kind of story there. I’ve also been saying that it’s okay to shoot a movie in Boston and not have all your actors use Boston accents. In these senses, Mr. Crair and I agree. And no, you don’t have to have characters talking about the Sawx or Fenway Park, but anyone from Massachusetts will tell you that conversations about our sports teams find their way into everyday conversation no matter what’s going on around us, and seeing people in the backgrounds of Boston-set movies wearing jersey t-shirts is accurate to the area, not just shameless promotion. I could list dozens of clichés that relate to L.A. and NYC-based films, but that doesn’t mean you can’t continue shooting good movies there.

The primary reason more movies have been set in Boston over the past few years is because of the tax incentives Massachusetts recently passed. This is the same reason a lot of films are being shot in New Mexico, Louisiana and Pennsylvania. I don’t even know where I’m going with this except to say it’s a GOOD thing some of Hollywood’s best movies are being shot outside of the L.A./NYC. I love that M. Night Shyamalan shot his movies in and around Philadelphia, that Robert Rodriguez does all his stuff in Austin, Texas. I love that The Next Three Days took place in Pittsburgh. I love that Christopher Nolan shoots his Batmovies in Chicago. A variety of scenery, locations, and culture is a good thing in art, and definitely in visual arts like cinema. I suppose it’s no coincidence that Crair is from New York. His whole argument just sounds bitter. He whines about seeing Boston too much, but admits that Good Will Hunting, The Departed, Mystic River, The Town and The Fighter are all very good movies. But like I said, I’m also getting tired of some Boston clichés, but that doesn’t mean other kinds of stories can’t be shot in the city. That’s precisely what I hope to do as a filmmaker.


-The Red Sox get an A for the Adrian Gonzalez trade-and-sign, and a B for the Carl Crawford deal. Points off for Crawford because 7 years is too long, and he is not a $20 million player. But you give them some benefit of the doubt because they simply weren’t gonna get him for a reasonable price.

Since I post my movie reviews straight to Facebook through the Flixster Movies app, here are a few music suggestions for ya…

Kanye West‘s new album, My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, is really damn good. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, though West is a complete douchebag, he is also a true artist. And he’s one of the few mainstream rappers who can ably rap about real issues and not just party song after club song after party song. An excellent example of this on the new album is my favorite song off it, “So Appalled” which is truly exceptional. It’s got one of those dark, pounding, moody beats that I prefer in rap, no real hook, and 5 verses (each by a different artist) , which reminded me a lot of old school Wu Tang (which is perfect given that RZA is one of the guest artists). There’s even a Dark Knight reference in Jay-Z‘s verse! A perfect example of what I referred to earlier comes from Kanye’s verse, where he goes;

“Niggas be writin bullshit like they gotta work/ Niggas goin through real shit, man they outta work/ That’s why another goddamn dance track gotta hurt/ That’s why I’d rather spit somethin that got a purp”

Just a great fuckin track, easily one of the best rap songs of the year. Other highlights from the album include “Power”, “Runaway”, “Monster” and “Blame Game.”

I’m also going through the new albums from N.E.R.D., the omnipresent Nicki Minaj (the track “Roman’s Revenge” with Eminem is awesome), and Kings of Leon, but I have to listen to em more than once before giving a general opinion. As always I welcome your music suggestions, particularly for indie stuff I’m not normally exposed to in my cave here in Myrtle Beach. I haven’t heard the entire new T.I. album (No Mercy), but the song “That’s All She Wrote”, also with Eminem, is excellent. It’s been a damn good comeback year for Mr. Marshall Mathers.

-While we’re on the topic of music suggestions, Chris, one of my friends in L.A., recently suggested I check out a band called Austrian Death Machine, which makes songs based off of Arnold Schwarzenegger one-liners. LOL, you read that right. Some of the names of their songs include “Get to the Choppa”, “Who Is Your Daddy, and What Does He Do?” and “I Need Your Clothes, Your Boots, And Your Motorcycle.” I checked them out, and…they’re damn good! Not only is it hilarious listening to a guy rage scream “It’s not a tumor!” in a heavy metal song, but the songs are actually pretty damn good (and feature some sick guitar solos). Check it;

– Remaining 2010 movies I MUST see before putting together the Biggie nominations; Alice in Wonderland, The Fighter, 127 Hours, Black Swan, Fair Game, The King’s Speech, The Company Men, The Way Back, Buried, Winter’s Bone, Blue Valentine, Never Let Me Go, True Grit, Tron Legacy. Unfortunately, I’m gonna have to wait for a few of these to come out on Netflix, since some have already come and gone or definitely won’t open here. Grrr. I give the Myrtle Beach area’s ability to acquire smaller movies a D.

-I was flipping through HBO channels one day last week and happened upon It’s Complicated, the Nancy Meyers-directed romcom from last year with Meryl Streep, Steve Martin and Alec Baldwin. I didn’t see it in theaters and was curious about it, so I watched about 45 minutes before I had to leave for work. I tried to follow the story, but I couldn’t stop thinking about how annoyingly pretentious it all was. There was absolutely NOTHING I could relate to in the film. I’m not sure there was a single non-white person in the entire movie (there may have been one black guy picking cotton serving drinks in the background of a scene at some fancy restaurant). This is the epitome of hypocritical Hollywood elitism. The title of this movie should be It’s Awesome to Be Rich and White in California. I mean holy shit. The whole movie is just a bunch of well-off white people having relationship issues while doing things rich white people do. Oh whoa is them! Should Alec Baldwin fuck his hot, 20-something trophy wife, or go back to his rich, older ex-wife?

I wondered who the audience was for this movie, but it somehow grossed more than $120 million in the U.S. And then I read that the damn thing cost $85 million to make. WHY?! I give writer-director Nancy Meyers‘ grip on reality an F. Meyers is considered one of Hollywood’s elite female directors, yet given her resume (The Holiday, Something’s Gotta Give, What [White] Women Want, The Parent Trap), it seems she’s never seen a black, Asian or Latino person, despite living in Southern California. But, I guess you gotta write what you know, and she knows a lot of rich white people. Good for her. I guess.

And now comes a report that another whitewashed romantic comedy, James L. BrooksHow Do You Know, had a $120 million production budget. WHAT!?! How the fuck does a romantic comedy cost $120 million? To put that in perspective, Gladiator cost $105 million. A Reese Witherspoon, Paul Rudd, Owen Wilson, Jack Nicholson romantic comedy cost more than Saving Private Ryan. Holy shit. You’d think for all that money they could afford a better title.

THIS cost $120 million. There better be an alien invasion in the middle of this movie.

-Finally, switching gears a little bit, I’d like to give an A+ to girls who know how to look good when the weather turns cold. Seriously, in my view, girls who can rock the tight pants and boots combo are just as attractive as a girl in short shorts and a tanktop during the summer. But that’s me. Ladies, you’re killin it this winter. Keep up the good work.


-I’m late to the Olivia Wilde bandwagon, but she was finally in something I’ve seen (The Next Three Days), and she wears a superhot little outfit in Tron Legacy, so…OH HAI, Olivia Wilde;

She’s moderately talented, too. So there’s that.

I label attractive women under one of three primary categories; beautiful, hot, or cute. One is not necessarily better than another, but there are differences. Olivia is just plain beautiful.

-And because it’s been awhile, here’s another pic of my current It Girl, Katy Perry. Damn you, Russell Brand.

She wears latex like I eat cheese; as if our lives depended on it.

Katy Perry…is hot. But because of her persona, she’s got some cute sprinkled in there, too. Probably 80% hot, 20% cute.

Quote of the Week

“Whether by the sword or the slow decay of time, Aragorn will die. And there will be no comfort for you, no comfort to ease the pain of his passing. He will come to death an image of the splendor of the kings of men, in glory, undimmed before the breaking of the world. But you, my daughter, you will linger on in darkness and in doubt, as nightfall in winter that comes without a star. Here you will dwell, bound to your grief under the fading trees, until all the world has changed and the long years of your life are utterly spent.” – Hugo Weaving as Elrond in The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers

I know it’s random, but I was listening to some of Howard Shore‘s Lord of the Rings score this week (the Complete Recordings versions, which are a must have for fans), and you can’t help but picture scenes from the movies while listening to the music, and I was thinking about this scene in particular from The Two Towers, and about how much I love that Elrond speech. Long story short, the quality of the language in the specific line I bolded is stunning. Whenever I’m writing, and I think of how something could or should be better, and whether or not I’m capable of truly great writing, I often instinctively think of that line, as if saying to myself, Remember, THIS is what you’re aspiring to accomplish. THIS is great writing. In fact, it may be the single most beautifully written sentence I’ve ever heard (and I say heard because of how amazingly Weaving delivers it). If you can’t place the quote in context, just watch this clip on the Tube [Arwen’s Fate, “Evenstar”]. There are no perfect films, but that is a perfect scene, and it’s as good as it gets with regards to dialogue.