Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Catching Up

I've been a bad blogger lately and haven't been posting as much as I should. This could be a long post, so consider yourself warned. (The boss is on vacation today...what else am I supposed to do?!)

Last few days have been busy with soccer games and softball practices for K. Tonight she has dance which means it's pizza night. I'm hoping I can sit back and enjoy a $.75 beer while I wait for her tonight....all depends on if I need to come back home or not during class.

Speaking of beer, today I called on a prospect located in Latrobe, PA...that's the home of Rolling Rock beer which I happen to like. I'm thinking a definite sales trip will be required for that one.

Baby M started cutting her first tooth this morning, so let the teething pains begin! I hope it's not too bad for her.

In sporting news, I want to touch on two subjects, so I'll start with baseball. No big shock that the KC Royals are sucking this year. They lost the home opener which I attended and I think they've won maybe one game this entire homestand. What is surprising though is my Baltimore Orioles (I've been a fan since I was 5 even though I've always been here in Kansas.). As of yesterday they were in first place in the American League East....ahead of both the Yankees and the Red Sox. Go Birds!!!!

Sporting topic #2 is the NFL and the HUGE money they got for the latest round of television contracts. ESPN alone has to pony up around $1.1 BILLION for the rights to Monday Night Football which will go to cable for the first time ever away from ABC. (Both ESPN and ABC are owned by Disney.) NBC is back in the NFL broadcasting business after an 8-year hiatus as it takes the Sunday night game package for an estimated $600 MILLION. (ESPN previously had the Sunday night package.) The NFL looks to make more money as they plan to add a separate set of Thursday and Saturday games late in the season. CBS and FOX will continue to air the Sunday afternoon games.

I'm thinking I need to start my own pro sports league and get my cut of some of this money!

And with that, it's time for some reviews!

BOOKS

The Broker by John Grisham

Definitely not his best work. I've yet to read anything of his that tops The Firm. The best part of the book is the Italian setting and the descriptions of the main character's surroundings. It felt like Grisham was trying to cross over into Tom Clancy territory with all the cloak and dagger spy stuff and it just didn't work that well. It was an easy read and passed the time, but ultimately not very fulfilling.

Rating: 2 out of 5 "plays" (If anyone has a better idea for a rating system that can play off of this blog, post it in the comments.)

Sideways by Rex Pickett

This is the novel that the movie was based on and I really enjoyed this book. I read the final 200+ pages on my flight from Denver to California last Thursday and never lost interest. Even though there's a huge focus on wine and the unique vocabulary that goes with that culture, I was still able to enjoy it. I like wine, but don't know a thing about tannins or how to define the scents that make up any particular vintage.

All that being said, it is at its core a buddy novel. I read the book before I saw the movie so those comparisons will come in the movie section of today's reviews.

The book was well-written and I enjoyed the relationship between Miles and Jack. Even though Jack has some questionable morality and character traits, I found it hard to dislike the guy. For those of you that know the story, I'd be curious to hear your perspective on Jack.

Rating: 4 out of 5 plays

MOVIES

Sideways

I can't think of one time where I've enjoyed the movie version of a story better than a book. Sideways is no exception, but it was still enjoyable and did a better job than most.

One of the first things that really bugged me about the movie was the casting choices for the two lead female roles...especially Sandra Oh. Virginia Madsen was no great shakes as Maya either, at least not as she was portrayed in the book. But Oh just doesn't strike me as the type of girl that Jack would go nuts over.

Ever since I had the thought about the casting, I've been struggling with who I would have cast in their places and I really haven't come up with anything good yet.

For some reason, Angie Harmon keeps popping into my head for Maya, but I don't think she's quite right either. Teri Hatcher might be able to pull it off too.

As for the Stephanie character (played by Oh), I'm thinking maybe Tea Leoni (the younger, hotter version...not the Spanglish version) or maybe Charlize Theron (yeah...I think that would work, but she's a little taller than I'd envisioned). Maybe even Joey Lauren Adams or Mira Sorvino.

I think they did a great job casting Miles (Paul Giamatti) and Jack (Thomas Haden Church), though.

Rating: Movie on its own merits: 3-1/2 out of 5 plays; Movie compared to the book: 2-1/2 out of 5 plays

Dodgeball
OK...I didn't have huge expectations for this movie. I couldn't get past Ben Stiller's ridiculous get-up from all the previews I saw, but I generally like his stuff and tend to like Vince Vaughn's films. (He was one of the best parts of Be Cool.)

If you enjoy slapstick humor and seeing guys getting hit in the balls or in the face, then this is the movie for you. Rip Torn is AWESOME in this film.

And...SPOILER ALERT...there's even some girl on girl action. Can't go wrong with that.

I laughed a lot during this movie. It's not great cinema by any stretch of the imagination, but it sure was fun to watch.

Rating: 4 out of 5 plays

MUSIC

AWARE 9 Compilation

Not a lot of people know about the AWARE record label. Quite simply, they rock. (Not in a headbanging way...just in a 'they're real cool" kind of way.) For a decade, the good people over at AWARE have put together CD compilations of some great, but unknown (at the time), bands.

Some bands have appeared on earlier AWARE compilations that you may have heard of are:

Hootie & The Blowfish

Better Than Ezra
Train
John Mayer
Matchbox Twenty (then known as Tabitha's Secret)
Guster
Howie Day
Vertical Horizon
The Verve Pipe
Five For Fighting
Jack Johnson

As you can see, there have been a lot of great bands that you've heard of and a lot more that you haven't heard of but are worth a listen. (My personal favorites are JACKOPIERCE and Pat McGee Band.)

(Holy crap that was a lot of linkage!)

Rating: 3.5 out of 5 plays

I'm Good Now by Bob Schneider

This CD gets off to a good start with Come With Me Tonight, but starts to slow down a little bit from there. It's a pretty mellow disc and that's not necessarily a bad thing. Overall, I do wish there were a few more upbeat songs on there.

I've only listened to this once or twice, so I reserve the right to change my rating later.

Rating: 3 out of 5 plays

Win A Date With Tad Hamilton Soundtrack

OK...before all my guy friends start giving me shit for this one...it came free with the purchase of the AWARE 9 compilation. This soundtrack was put out by AWARE and, I have to say, it's my favorite of the three CDs that I got.

With solid tracks from John Mayer, Five for Fighting and Liz Phair, the rest of it is very good too. I especially like the band Wheat's contributions as well as Soul Kid #1's "More Bounce In California."

Rating: 4 out of 5 plays

FOOD

Cape Cod Sea Salt & Cracked Pepper potato chips

OK...so these chips aren't healthy...but DAMN they taste good!

Rating: 4-1/2 out of 5 plays

Maloney's Bar & Grill

No link available for this one, but it's located on 79th Street near Metcalf in Overland Park. It used to be an Einstein Bros. but is now a bar and grill.

Went to lunch there with a former co-worker today and opted to sit outside on the patio. It was a wise decision because it was smoky as hell in the restaurant.

I immediately made an unhealthy choice by going for the mozzarella sticks. (They've just sounded too good to pass up lately!) They were very good, but since my friend behaved herself and didn't share, by the time I got to the end of the basket, the cheese had started solidifying and definitely lost a lot of appeal. In the early stages though, they were quite good.

We both got salads...hers with tomato, pepperoni, mozzarella cheese and black olives and Thousand Island dressing. The salad was good, but her dressing was a little too thick for her taste. Overall, it was pretty good. I thought I'd be getting the same things, but apparently since I opted for the caesar dressing, they stripped all of the good stuff listed above from the salad. Not a great caesar, but I've had worse.

For the main course, she went the Philly Steak sandwich which she said was really good. I opted for the chicken pesto sandwich that had provolone cheese and tomato on it...also very good.

Once we overcame the salad portion, the rest of the meal was good and the service was also very good considering we were one of only two groups out on the patio.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5 plays

OK folks...I'm completely reviewed out. Hope you weren't too bored.

Until Next Time...

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