Tuesday, April 30, 2013

So, Okay, I Can Admit to a Grudging Admiration.

I have posted before about my dislike of the University of Nebraska joining the Big Ten.

But after seeing this, I can admit that they have moments that I can admire.

Friday, April 26, 2013

From the What. Were. They. Thinking. File. Cont.


Speaking as someone who knows someone who knows someone who killed themselves this way, I can only say that this couldn't possibly be in more shockingly poor taste.

Update: Video no longer available. Sorry about that.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

I've Never Been a Real Fan...

...of Neil Diamond, but I have to admit that even at his advanced age, he still has the chops to entertain a crowd.

Reportedly, Diamond flew into Boston on his own dime, and about 40 minutes before the game started, Diamond called the Fenway switchboard and asked if they would like him to come to the stadium and lead the crowd in the song. Of course, they said yes, and so it happened.

Terrorists can't possibly comprehend what this country can withstand without giving up. It's going to take a lot more than a couple of bombs to destroy America.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Movie Review: "42"


Chadwick Boseman as Jack Roosevelt "Jackie" Robinson
Harrison Ford as Branch Rickey
Nicole Beharie as Rachel Robinson

My rating: 4 stars (out of 5)
(Advance warning: This review contains some outdated terms that some of the 3 readers of this blog may find offensive. If you do, I apologize in advance)

The following is a paraphrase of a brief conversation with my dad:

Me: Do you want to go see "42" with me?
Dad: What's that?
Me: It's a baseball movie about Jackie Robinson
Dad: Sure!

When it comes to my dad, if it's a baseball movie, he's there. So naturally we went to see this movie.

As it opens, Branch Rickey (Ford), a baseball General Manager and part owner of the Brooklyn Dodgers, is itching for "dem Bums" to be the first MLB team to break the so-called "color barrier". After examining the best prospects from the Negro Leagues, he settles on Jackie Robinson, a player for the Kansas City Monarchs. We are first introduced to said player during and after a Monarchs game. While the team's bus is on the road, they stop for gas, and the station owner refuses to allow Jackie to use the "whites only" bathroom. He threatens to take their business elsewhere, and the owner relents, proving that the universal rule that "Money Talks" trumps everything, even racism.

Jackie meets with Rickey, who offers him a standard contract, but warns him that he must do one thing: Control his temper. He can't respond to any verbal abuse that is thrown at him, and, most importantly, he can't respond to any physical abuse. If he does, all anyone will remember is that "The negro lost his temper" (paraphrase).

It's hard for Jackie, obviously. During spring training in the South, he is the target of everything from racist insults to death threats, but manages to stand out during his stint. Things only get worse when he earns a place on the Dodgers. He faces enemies both inside and outside the clubhouse. Half the team threatens a boycott if they have to play with him, but this is quickly and ruthlessly squashed by team manager Leo Durocher (Christoper Meloni). Unfortunately, Durocher is suspended by the League for his off-field affair with a Hollywood actress (Those were the days, huh?), and there is no one to defend Robinson from the abuse he receives from other teams.

That abuse is brought into sharp display when his team plays the Phillies, with its incredibly racist manager (Alan Tudyk, playing wildly against his usual character type) constantly hurling racists epithets at Robinson during every at bat. Robinson nearly reaches the breaking point. Finally, however, Robinson's teammates come to his aid, realizing that winning games is more important than any personal prejudices they may have.

That's the movie in a nutshell, folks. The overriding theme of the movie is that you have to look beyond what a person looks like and look at what he or she can do!

And do he did! Jackie Robinson finished his rookie season with a batting average of .297, an on-base percentage of .383 (some of that, admittedly, was due to being hit by pitch deliberately, unfortunately) and 12 homers. This, combined with other stats, led him to MLB's first award for Rookie of the year.

Look, I realize this movie contains every possible cliche. But it also contains some great moments, including one brief moment where, during a game in Cincinnati, as the crowd is hurling racist slurs at Robinson, a young boy--sitting next to his father--looks around nervously at the others, and then joins in--until he watches as Pee Wee Reese (Lucas Black) drapes an arm around Jackie to show his support.

It's small moments like that, from minor characters, that make this movie something special to watch. This is probably due to the direction of Brian Helgeland, who apparently threw his heart and soul into coaxing great performances out of all the actors involved. And it's impossible to overlook some the outstanding performances of Harrison Ford and Chadwick Boseman. Ford deserves at least an Oscar Nomination for best supporting actor. Boseman is a relative unknown right now, but I have a feeling that might change after this movie. Most of the rest of the performances (with the exception of Black's) are largely forgettable. But it is the movie's exploration of the relationship between Rickey and Robinson that sits at the heart of the picture. Rickey was a deeply principled man, who hated the segregation of baseball, and the opportunities that were denied to black athletes. And Robinson, whose own father abandoned his family when he was still an infant, looked at Rickey as a father figure.

This is quite a good movie. It's not without its flaws, and I'm sure it will get buried in the flood of summer releases, and ignored by the Oscar committee come next year. But that doesn't mean it's not worth seeing.