Saturday, January 17, 2009

Damn Good Seats

I went to the Washington Wizards / New York Knicks game last night with Doe, my brother and my sister-in-law.  The photo above is a view from the swanky upgraded seats we had for the game.  Nate's season ticket contact gave him the free upgrade for birthday gift.  He usually sits in section 107 in the corner of Verizon Center.  These seats were Row B and we had a great up-close look at just how tall these NBA players are.  It was also easy to heckle the Knicks from this close.  I didn't get to stay in the seats the entire game as Doe and I swapped out with my friend Josh and his girlfriend at halftime. 

After blowing a halftime lead, the Wizards came back on a 15-0 run during the last few minutes of the final quarter and sent us all happily on our way to Nate's birthday party at RFD.  Big thanks to Doe and Nate for the ticket hookup and suprisingly my record at Wizard games this season is a winning one (2-1).  Unfortunately during this disaster of a season, the team only has 8 wins altogther which puts them in a tie for the lowest win total in the NBA.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Scan and Bag in the Aisle at Giant?

Walking into Giant this morning to pickup a few things I noticed a new fancy docking station for numerous hand-held bar code scanners. As with all "new" things/products, I was instantly intrigued and stopped to read the particulars. Apparently with Scan It, you scan your Giant card and grab one of these things (and some bags) to take with you on your shopping excursion. You can then scan your items on-the-fly and put them in bags in your cart. Once you get to checkout, the system sends all your scanned info to the cashier station and you pay with your card and get out of dodge.

Again like self checkout, Giant is putting you on the honor system to scan exactly what you put in your cart. I can see people making more "mistakes" this way though. It does seem like it would speed things up for a large shopping trip. I was only buying a couple things so I did not attempt to holster the scanning weapon this time around. I'm curious to see if any of the shopping experts out there (my wife for example) believe that this technique would save time. Essentially you don't need to take your items back out of your cart until you get to the car. No need to use the conveyor belt at checkout.

On a side note, I'm still getting used to the new Giant logo (left side below) vs the old one (right side) which I've become very accustomed to over my lifetime of living in this area.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

The Basketball Diaries Featuring Josh

One of the top questions I get from strangers I meet is "you're tall, did you play basketball?" Sometimes I want to lie and say I played a few seasons at Syracuse but I always end up telling the story of how I can really only block shots and never was much of a force on the basketball court and that my freshman brother was the star of our team when I was a senior. Now my son Josh (who doctors say may get close to his dad in height) begins his basketball "career" at age 4. Josh is already a soccer wiz and we're trying to branch him out to other sports to see where his interest lie (he goes to the driving range with me also). We enrolled him in an introduction to basketball class for 4 and 5 year-olds at the Fairfax County Parks and Recreation program. Every Sunday at 4 I'll be taking him over to the Braddock Road facility. Our first class was this past Sunday. The class consisted of the following basic skills:
  • Bounce passing
  • Chest passing
  • Overhead passing
  • Dribbling around the edge of the court
  • Taking turns standing in line and shooting shots at a lowered basket
Josh did well overall especially in the passing department (although his "partner" during his drills was scared of the basketball and kept getting out of the way resulting in a long run and chase to get the ball and get back in position). Towards the shooting portion of the class he kept coming up to me and saying he was tired. I finally realized this was due to the fact that he had on a t shirt and a mini Gilbert Arenas jersey. After I took off his Agent Zero jersey (hey the real Gilbert isn't even wearing his jersey these days) he was good to go and finished up strong. Not surprisingly, the best player there was the only African American boy enrolled in the 20-kid class. I found the inner coach in me coming out during the class as I would try to tell Josh to step into his passes and to watch the ball into his hands while catching. I tried to hold back a lot though as to not be viewed as "THAT dad" that pushes his son too much. I definitely enjoy taking him to class and watching him develop though. This has always been one of the highlights I imagined 4 years ago when he was born.

(I apologize for the terrible lighting here)

The day before his first class, I took Josh with me to a George Mason University basketball game at the Patriot Center. This is the 3rd sporting event Josh has been to with me (we went to see Tiger Woods play in the AT&T National a few years ago and also saw a Nationals game at RFK Stadium). I wanted to expose him to the game and see how he enjoyed it before we step things up and attend a Wizards game in a few months. He definitely enjoyed it overall, but was a little leery of the loud noise at times (especially the PA announcer). He is very interested in the scoreboard and likes to follow how the score of the game progresses. If Mason (who won by the way) was up by 8 or more points he would claim that George Mason was "smoking" the other team. I believe he'll have more fun at the Wiz game in March as they have much more entertainment during the breaks in action.

Hopefully in a year or so we'll get Alex in the mix with these sporting events although I'm not sure if my wallet can handle buying three tickets to a game.

This Blog goes Global

Checking my Google Analytics stats this morning I notice a new search people are using to find my blog: "individual meat pies". With a little geographical investigation I find that the search was performed yesterday by someone in Wiesbaden, Germany! My first international hit on my blog. My dad can correct me if I'm wrong, but I believe the meat pie recipe referred to in my earlier entry originates from the hinterland. I think my goal now is to get hits in each continent.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

30 Gayest Moments in Sports History

The good people at the Chive bring us this post today with a few hilarious photos of "gay" moments in sport frozen in time. My favorite has to be the gay congratulatory "handshake" from Jim Edmonds of the St. Louis Cardinals shown below (which may or may not be photoshopped). A few do look to be photoshopped in general though but still very humorous. Enjoy.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Prison Broke

I used to be a fan of Fox's Prison Break. The series produced by Director Brett Ratner chronicled the plight of Michael and Lincoln Scofield. I was engrossed in the series for the first two seasons but after breaking out of prison a couple of times, the whole concept became ridiculous and tedious to follow. With so many characters and conspiracy plots (hello Heroes!) to keep track of, it just wasn't worth the space on my DVR anymore. I tapped-out for good at the beginning of this season.

Today we get news that the series has (finally) been axed. Looks like only a few more episodes are left in the queue. I know Doe will be sad, but now he can concentrate on a much more polished show like *cough* *cough* Fringe. So it seems that the creepy actor who plays T-Bag will need to find some work.

When you think about it, 24 (which is back and kick-ass as ever) really is the only series that has been able to sustain a recurring theme (one real time day = a season) through multiple seasons.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Fringe: The Observer Watches Football

After Jack Bauer returned with a bang last night on Fox, I'm still awaiting the returns of my other favorite shows: Lost, Battlestar Galactica and Fringe. Well it looks like The Observer is a fan of the NFL playoffs. I'm bitter that I missed this live (my lame gym doesn't show Fox) but the video below is pretty cool. I think it's bad-ass how Fox is marketing Fringe this way.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

The Curious Case of Oscar Bait

Each year I make it a point to see all 5 nominees for Best Picture in the lead-up to the Academy Awards.  Last night I saw The Curious Case of Benjamin Button which was brilliantly directed by David Fincher.  At a run-time of over two and a half hours, I was worried that I would be looking at my phone checking what time it is and constantly thinking about the movie's pacing.  Boy was I wrong and I have to give Fincher and screenwriter Eric Roth credit for putting together the quickest two hours and fourty-six minutes in cinematic history.  This is an astonishing film that seems to be tailor-made for Oscar in February.

NOTE:  Spoilers are listed throughout the next few paragraphs so if you haven't seen this film yet, don't read below until you have.  You have been WARNED!

For the first half of the movie I kept thinking about how it seems to mirror the tone and plot of Forrest Gump.  The story arc was very similar throughout and it was a little hard for me to distinguish this movie on its own.  That all seemed to go out the window when Benjamin (Brad Pitt in a unique role that has him aging in reverse) started becoming younger than Cate Blanchett.  The plot almost reverses itself at this point and the ultimate demise of Benjamin is what makes this film most powerful.  I honestly have not felt as emotionally drawn into a movie since Return of the King (my favorite movie of all-time) in 2003.

To be honest, the performances were not outstanding overall.  Pitt was very good, Blanchett was OK and the supporting cast did a good enough job.  The real stars of the film (outside of the brilliant Taraji P. Henson who played Benjamin's adopted mother) were the visual effects and the directing.  The makeup and aging effects are done so seemlessly that you really believe Brad Pitt is a short little old man for the first third of the movie.  The narrative decision by Fincher to move back and forth between the present-day and flashbacks worked extremely well in moving the story along.  The pauses to focus back in on present-day Daisy (Blanchett) in a New Orleans hospital let the viewer take a breath from the wide arc of Benjamin's life and help ease the transition for the aging of the main characters (which is the absolute emotional core of this firm).  I think about aging in my own life a lot and this film really spoke to me in that regard.

I do think that the eerie similarities to Forrest Gump may actually hurt this movie come Oscar time.  You can draw so many parallels:  Henson's Queenie to Sally Field's role, Brad Pitt to Tom Hanks,  Cate Blanchett to Robin Wright-Penn.  Even the tugboat captain seems awfuly reminicent of Gary Sinise's Lieutenant Dan.  I can imagine many voters may not want to award a film that has so many thematical comparisons to the 1994 Best Picture winner.  I do hope that the voters can look past that and recognize the incredible visual effects and cinematography that paces this movie perfectly.  Fincher deserves his first ever Oscar for Best Director and he's completely made up for the mess that was Alien 3.  We'll see the first steps towards Oscar for the movie when the Golden Globes are announced tonight.

The one really glaring mistake I though that Roth and Fincher made with this film was to incorporate the Hurrican Katrina subplot.  It didn't really fit in at all and seemed to draw unneccesary attention away from the overall plot.  Bottom lin ethough, everyone NEEDS to see this movie.  It may be too Gump-like for your tastes but if nothing else you'll witness a masterpiece in technical achievement. A perfect 5 out of 5 JRs!