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August 31, 2009

Avatar and the Fanboys

One movie that the fanboys have been geeked out for years now is James Cameron's Avatar. It's Cameron's first movie since Titanic and has been discussed, debated, and widely anticipated on-line for nearly 10 years. Cameron has done nothing to tamp down the discussion as he has promised eye-popping special effects and the use of I-max and 3-D technology like it's never been done in the past. He effectively delayed filming until he was comfortable that the technology was equal to the vision (or at least that's what he has said publically). Given his past track record with Terminator II and Titanic, most have been giddy with anticipation over the eye-gasm's that Avatar promised.

A release day was finally set for mid-December and 10 days ago the first trailer was made public on-line and then attached to Inglourious Basterds. Unfortunately the reaction from the fan boys was Holy Crap, that looks really lame! To be sure, the film effects look amazing. Maybe a little too CG at parts, but colors that are extremely vivid and other worldly. The problem lies with the fact that the movie itself looks like a remake of Ferngully, the Last Rainforest. Cat people and lush jungles predominate and there appears to be a strident eco-message. The movie looks like it would appeal more to 10 year old boys and girls than to a 30 year old fan boy still stuck in his teen age years. The infamous trailer is below.


Fortunately fanboys are pretty funny too and while the reaction has been overwrought, at least one person was able to capture it in this very funny spoof from the Hitler movie Downfall. Now people have been using this scene from Downfall to spoof current events for a good 18 months now (there's a nice one about Hitler's reaction to the Vikings signing Favre) but this is one of the better ones. It captures fanboy reactions to the trailer perfectly. Enjoy.


Admittedly the Avatar trailer has me a little worried too. Undoubtedly it will be amazing to see on the screen. I just hope the story can at least come close to matching the scenery. Fortunately a trailer doesn't make a movie, let's hope that James Cameron realized that amazing effect only enhance a story, it doesn't make the story. I'll be watching how this progresses as it will be a major popular culture story from here to the end of the year.

August 28, 2009

Friday Random Top 10

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Had to include one last pic, with the Target Field infield grass in place. Sure looks purty. How about a Random Top 10?

1. Deep -- Pearl Jam
2. Spaceboy -- Smashing Pumpkins
3. Space Monkey -- Patti Smith
4. It's Going to Take Some Time -- Dishwalla
5. I Shot the Sheriff -- Bob Marley and the Wailers
6. Grow Old with Me -- The Postal Service
7. Panic -- The Smiths
8. Reason to Believe -- Bruce Springsteen
9. Galaxy Gramophone -- The Soundtrack of our Lives
10. ODE -- Soul Asylum

Bonus: Psalm 69 -- Ministry

Had a little space theme going there for a bit but them settled down. Psalm 69 is one scary song off a scary album.

August 27, 2009

Here Comes the Grass

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The big news this week at Target Field has been the grass. Every night since Monday, semi trucks of sod has been delivered to Target Field and installed over night. It's been 27 years since professional baseball has been played on grass in Minnesota so this is a big deal.

As of this morning, the outfield has been completely sodded and tonight the infield will go in. It's starting to looking like a real ballpark out there. Want to watch the progress, be sure to check out this webcam. Also take a close look at that last picture, it was taken from a spot pretty close to where our seats are located.

August 26, 2009

Edward (Ted) Kennedy 1932-2009

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For liberals of a certain age too young to remember John or Robert Kennedy, Ted Kennedy was the man. Maybe he didn't soar to the heights of his brothers, but he probably accomplished a whole heck of a lot more. Below are two meaty articles about Ted Kennedy, his life, and lasting impact.

The New Republic

New York Times

August 24, 2009

Bike Ride to Siren, WI

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On Friday I rode my bike 97.4 miles to a friend's cabin a couple of miles outside of Siren, Wisconsin. I had been planning this trip all summer and in fact was thinking of taking it in early June. I wasn't ready and spent the last couple of months training by going on rides ranging from 30 to 70 miles. The training definitely helped as I had plenty of energy as I finished the ride. My ass was (is) sore from sitting on a bike for 9 hours, but I definitely had enough gas to go even further. Here are some other thoughts as I spent nearly 11 hours going from Minneapolis to Siren on a bike:

There is a huge shift in the neighborhoods around the state capitol. One moment one is riding by mansions of former railroad, lumber, and milling barons and then next riding by tired old single family homes, public housing barrack-style housing, and rough looking bars. All in less than 10 minutes on a bike.

The ride took about 45 minutes longer than I had conservatively hoped. There were a couple of reasons for this: 1) My calves started cramping early in the trip. In fact after only 12 miles or so. I did lots of stretching but was never able to fully shake the cramps. I will need to talk to a doctor about how I can overcome this issue. 2) I was going against a steady head wind the whole trip. Look at the map above, it is primarily a north-east route and the wind was coming out of the north the whole day. 3) The Gandy Dancer Trail which I took from St. Croix Falls to Siren was crushed limestone, which I knew, and it slowed me down more than I thought. Also it was primarily uphill for 24 of the 32 miles on the trail.

Of the 97 miles. I would say less than 30 was not on a designated trail and a lot of that was on back country roads with wide shoulders so I felt pretty safe as far as car-bike relations went. The Gateway Trail from St. Paul to north of Stillwater is a very nice trail and quite interesting as one moves from inner city to suburban sprawl, to exurban development, to farmland. The Gandy Dancer Trail in Wisconsin is mostly through farmland and woods and is adequately maintained and quite empty. I saw no other bikers on the Gandy Dancer. Since it was Wisconsin, every time the trail entered a town, there were helpful signs letting me know where to find the local tavern.

When one is on a back country road and with no one else in sight with an I-Pod blaring in one's ears, it is natural to start singing out loud like one does alone in their car. If the woman who was getting her mail south of Scandia is reading this, I was singing the Talking Heads Building on Fire as I rode by, just in case you were wondering.

For the second year in a row I was able to accomplish a goal I set out early in the year for my bike. Which means I need a new and tougher goal for next year. Right now I am thinking of a bike trip to Duluth or Two Harbors, maybe with an overnight stay. I am open for suggestions however.

August 21, 2009

Friday Random Top 10

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If you are reading this on Friday, hopefully I am on my bike well on my way to Siren, Wisconsin for weekend stay at a friend's cabin. The route is shown above and is approximately 100 miles. The longest I have ridden is 72 miles so today will be nearly 40 percent longer than my longest ride. I plan to ride about 65 miles to Taylors Falls, have lunch and then ride the last 35 miles to Siren (actually a few miles past). This being 2009, I may tweet my progress (#freealonzo). To celebrate here is my Random Top 10, unfortunately I won't be able to cross post.

1. They - Guided By Voices
2. Sex on Fire - Kings of Leon
3. Sing for your Meat - Guided By Voices
4. Is There Anybody Out There? - Luther Wright and the Wrongs
5. Fell in Love with a Girl - The White Stripes
6. What Do I Want - Husker Du
7. Nowhere Man - The Beatles
8. The Boy Wonders - Aztec Camera
9. Highway 29 - Bruce Springsteen
10. No Sky - Guided By Voices

Bonus: All You Fascists - Billy Bragg and Wilco

Wow, another GBV triple play. All in all a nice list, hopefully I will hear something just a good on my trip. That Aztec Camera tune is a lost classic. What's your top 10? P.S. Someone today may provide LFAD's 2000th comment!

August 19, 2009

#4

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Old time readers of LFAD know I used to have a Brett Favre Interception Watch located on the right side of the page that was sadly lost with the re-design. So as with most Minnesota fans, I've had a love-hate relationship with Brett Favre. I love that he was a great quarterback on the field and hated the fact he played for the Packers and was such an egotistical drama queen. But I now love the fact that Favre is a Viking.

I love how this just burns Packer fans. I love how they have to choke back 16 years of Favre worship and now say he's washed up or that it's no big deal. I love that Packer fans have to admit what everyone else has said for years: Brett Favre is a diva who cares only for himself. I love the media circus and that KSTP followed Favre's car from the airport to Winter Park from a helicopter. I love that hundreds of rubes stormed Winter Park just to get a glimpse of Brett Favre. I love the fact that is a high-risk/high-reward gambit that will either be a glorious success or a spectacular failure and which ever way it goes it will be a blast to watch. So welcome Brett Favre. Let the spectacle begin.

August 18, 2009

Guns at Town Hall Meeting

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Besides yelling out half truths and hatred, the angry right now feels like it's o.k. to bring guns to town hall meetings, especially ones where President Obama is speaking.

Now the states where this is happening people have a right to carry firearms and the Secret Service is well aware of the gun toters and insist that the President is in no danger. But still is sends a chilling message. The gun slingers claim they have the right to free speech but doesn't everyone else? And can you think of a better way to suppress speech than by waving a gun in someone's face?

Also let's face it, there are a bunch of right-wing looney's out there who would love to get a shot at President Obama. Seeing this just fuels that, even if the Secret Service insists everything is under control.

One last thought, what do you think the reaction would have been during President Bush's term if someone had brought a semi-automatic rifle to a town hall meeting? Heck two guys got arrested in Denver for wearing T-shirts that said "No Bush." If a gun toting Bush Town Hall protester had brown skin I somehow think he'd be residing in Guantanamo right now.

August 17, 2009

Weekend Recap

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A few thoughts from the weekend...

District 9. Saw this movie on Friday and thought it was pretty good. Was it the best sci-fi movie since Bladerunner? Well no. It really took a while to get moving, specifically the faux-documentary portion of the first 30 minutes didn't quite work. The last 30 minutes was a thrill ride however. Couple of plot holes, but definitely recommended if you are into that kind of movie.

Pillars of the Earth. I am not a big fiction reader but enough people had read this book with glowing reviews that I thought I would spend part of my summer with this sprawling book. It is an enjoyable breezy read and I got through it's 980 pages in a relatively quick two weeks. It was a little too "soap operary" for me but there were some good page-turning moments as well. Lots of good detail on the architecture of 12th century cathedrals and how they were built. Oh and Ken Follet is obviously a boob man as practically every female's breasts were described numerous times in excruciating detail.

Dinosaur Jr. - Farm. Actually I have been listening to this for a good 6 weeks or so and never did a full review. Let's just say if you like Dinosaur Jr., you're gonna like Farm. With the classic J. Mascus and Lou Barlow line-up, it feels like 1988 all over again. Great guitars, this album is a blast.

Gran Torino. We rented this movie and I thought it was excellent. I don't understand how it didn't get any love from the Academy. Definitely worth checking out.

SBG Convention. The 3rd annual SBG convention was held at Minnehaha Park this weekend and I was finally able to attend. The Twins game was a buzz kill but we did get to see Delmon Young actually walk (and take the 1st pitch in three consective at bats). It was good to meet a couple of SBG citizens and I am looking forward to future conventions.

PGA. Tiger choked. PGA might be a little worried. First at least 50 percent of its popularity is tied to Tiger Woods. If he doesn't do well then the PGA doesn't do well (ratings, attendance wise). Also while it's great to see new faces win, a South Korean who doesn't speak English can be problematic. The LPGA has suffered greatly as it has become dominated by the South Korean's who aren't able to promote the game and the LPGA is losing sponsors left and right. PGA will have to worried whether it will experience the same on the men's side.

Kind of Blue. Miles Davis' Kind of Blue was released 50 years ago today. This article describes how and why it is the greatest jazz album ever. A must read.

August 14, 2009

Friday Random Top 10

I think we can safely stick a fork in the Twins, because they are done, heck they might be a little over-done, brush off the ashes before you dig in. How about a Random Top 10 to go with it:

1. Revolution - Grandaddy
2. Hand in Glove - The Smiths
3. Don't Let Me Be Misunderstood - Nina Simone
4. White Rose - Fred Eaglesmith
5. Glowed Like Stars - U-Joint
6. Faraway Eyes - Handsome Family
7. Folk Star - Paul Westerberg
8. Tobacco Road - Blue Magoos
9. Privately - Guided By Voices
10. Ever After - Neil Young

Bonus: Drug Train - Social Distortion

Wow a bunch of obscurities and covers. What's your Top 10?

August 11, 2009

Timberwolves Hire Kurt Rambis

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Admittedly I wasn't very happy when David Kahn was named GM of the Timberwolves. He was out of the game for a while, had experience at the business side -- not the player evaluation side, and seemed like a reclamation project. So far I think I was wrong in the assessment.

Kahn has understood that he had to blow up the Timberwolves and basically start over. So goodbye Kevin McHale. Goodbye Randy Foye, Bassy, and Mike Miller. Hello banking draft picks, younger guys, and expiring contracts. The Ricky Rubio gambit may not work but I think Rubio wants to play in the NBA and even though there will be a lot of machinations, we will see the Spanish teen in a Wolves jersey this coming October.

Finally hello Kurt Rambis as coach. Rambis is definitely one of those rising assistants. He's coached alongside two masters: Riley and Jackson and was credited with improving the Lakers' defense this past season. He's been a winner at every level of basketball whether a player or a coach, even if it was a supporting role. Also he's a name that casual fans know and can get excited about.

Don't overlook that last point. Due to soul-draining suckiness, the Timberwolves have virtually no buzz right now in Minnesota. It's really too bad as this could be a rabid basketball market. High School basketball has never been played at a higher level and more kids are going on to D-I basketball than ever before. Gopher hoops and Tubby are always a tough ticket. Rambis, Rubio, Big Al Jefferson, Kevin Love won't win a lot of games this year but could create some excitement, some hope for the future. The fact that Kahn has put these first pieces into place has demonstrated that maybe he was a good hire. He has a plan, will it work out? Time will tell (See Minnesota Wild 2005-2009) but it at least it will be interesting to find out if it will.

August 10, 2009

Ballpark Twins Sign

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The image above popped up on the Ballpark Magic site a couple of weeks ago. It is from the model of the new Twins Ballpark and is a close-up of the "signature" signage that will be located in centerfield at Target Field. This sign was a late addition to the ballpark design and I think will be an awesome feature. The supporting infrastructure for the sign is now up at the ballpark and I am guessing we will see the sign soon so I wanted to call this out.

The logo comes from when the Twins originally moved to Minnesota in 1961 and signifies the cooperation between Minneapolis and St. Paul to get a professional baseball team to the Twin Cities. It's one of those quaint 60's designs that time has been kind to. It's gone past the cheesy stage and is a now retro classic. Apparently the sign will be lit up. Unfortunately rumors that the "Twins" would shake hands animatronically whenever the Twins hit a homerun has been debunked as wishful thinking.

As you can see from the picture in this post, I love this logo and I really can't wait to see it at Target Field. I am really happy with what I am seeing at Target Field so far and think it will be a classy ballpark that will be a joy to spend a sunny summer day watching a game. Now if only the Twins could put a little more effort into developing a top notch lineup!

August 7, 2009

Friday Random Top 10

After a week of driving a 33 foot behemoth through the woods of Michigan I am back and desperately in need of a Random Top 10:

1. Don't Stand So Close To Me - The Police
2. Leap Frog (Breakdown Take 4) - Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie
3. All Blue - Miles Davis
4. Wishful Thinking - Wilco
5. Tiny Steps - Elvis Costello
6. Shaky Ground - Uncle Tupelo
7. Heart of the City - Nick Lowe
8. Redemption - Johnny Cash
9. Shake Your Booty - K.C. and the Sunshine Band
10. Gary's Tune - Lou Riegert & the Troops

Bonus: Maxwell's Silver Hammer - The Beatles

My secret's out! I have K.C. and the Sunshine Band on my I-pod!! The shame, the shame. What's your top 10?

August 6, 2009

500 Posts and A Walk in the Woods

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This is my 500th blog post which I guess is some sort of milestone. Probably speaks more toward longevity than anything else. It does mean that I have made a post almost every other day for three years. Some of it crap, some of it well thought out. Most of it important only to me. I've long since come to grips with the fact that some of my posts that have the most critical thinking and writing get no comments, while others I blast out in 3 minutes receive a bunch of comments. I guess it's the nature of the blog beast.

I was thinking about this milestone as I finished reading A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson. It's a true account of Bryson's attempt to hike the Appalachian Trail in the late 1990's (1996?). He starts off in Georgia with his friend Katz who is woefully unprepared. They don't quite get through Tennessee when they abandoned their efforts to walk the entire way and catch a ride up to Virginia to walk the Shenandoah Mountains. Later that year Bryson does some other side trips and the both of them attempt to walk the 100 Miles of Wilderness in Maine. They abandon that effort after a couple of days and call it quits.

The book is an easy read and quite amusing with some serious side notes about Forest Management, the Environment, history of the Trail, etc. Even though they walked approximately only 800 of the Trail's 2,200 miles, they feel successful. As Katz puts it, they walked in the south, they walked in the middle, they walked in the north. They walked in snow and oppressive heat. The book is somewhat credited for increasing interest in the Appalachian Trail and I have to admit there is some appeal to making an attempt myself.

For me I guess in a way one could consider blogging a little similar to hiking. You can prepare the best you can but the most important thing is to just put one foot in front of the other and go out there. Don't worry so much about you'll find go out and see what's there. That's what I did with my first 500 posts, let's see what the next 500 posts bring.