December 4, 2007

Boston looks to acquire another Minnesota sports icon

First David Ortiz, then Randy Moss, then Kevin Garnett, and now it appears, Johan Santana. With the New York Yankees having made it quite evident that their offer is no longer on the table, it seems quite imminent that the Boston Red Sox will snag Santana, according to ESPN's Jayson Stark, although nothing has been made official. The possibility that Santana is a member of the Red Sox and is reunited with Big Papi, aka David Ortiz by the time I finish this post is very possible. Jon Heyman at Sports Illustrated concurs with Stark's reporting, as he says that "The Yankees self-imposed deadline has been met." As I wrote before, I don't mind the trade from a business standpoint, and Twins fans really need to stop being so emotional. If they feel so lost without their sports heroes, I suggest moving to New England, you'll feel right at home with all the familiar company. (“F@#% Boston,? I secretly mumble underneath my breath)

Minnesotan Cody to appear at Walker for "Juno" screening

"Juno," the film that everyone on the film scene seems to be buzzing about, has a screening at the Walker scheduled on Dec. 13, according to The City Pages. The film, which is being hailed at this year's "Little Miss Sunshine," is a snappy romantic comedy written by local screenwriter (and former City Pages columnist) Diablo Cody and is about a pregnant teenager trying to find the right parents for her child through adoption. Both Cody and the film's star, Ellen Page are receiving Oscar buzz already. Entertainment weekly has an article about the film and writes a lot about Cody's life story, which includes time working as a stripper and a name change. The article made me even more compelled to see the film, and as Cody is scheduled to appear at the Walker screening, maybe I will get in on some Q & A. Tickets are sure to sell-out.

Rapper Pimp C found dead

Chad Butler, better known as rapper Pimp C, or half of rap group UGK, was found dead in a California hotel room Tuesday, according to Hip Hop Game. Butler was 33 years old. According to the same site, L.A. County Fire responded to a 911 call at the Mandarin Hotel, located on trendy Sunset Strip in Hollywood and when they arrived at his hotel room, they found him dead in his bed. No cause of death was specified on the site. the is a big hit for the southern hip hop community, as Butler and partner Bernard Freeman aka "Bun B" made up the rap duo, UGK (Underground Kings) that very much was a reason for the explosion in popularity of southern rap music. Their biggest hit to date was a collaboration with Jay-Z, titled "Big Pimpin," released in 1999. Butler is known almost as well for his music as his "Free Pimp C" t-shirt campaign for when he was incarcerated for failing to complete a community service requirement stemming from an aggravated assault charge. I remember many people wearing the shirts that didn't even know his music, but wore the shirt because it was "hip." Butler' full background can be read at his wikipedia page, which has not updated it since the news about his death broke.

December 2, 2007

Chavez threatens to sue CNN

CNN reports that Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez is prepared to sue CNN regarding their mishap this week. The network ran a picture of the 53-year-old Chavez on Tuesday with a caption below it reading "Who killed him?" The caption was meant to be run with a picture of murdered Washington Redskins player Sean Taylor, who has also been in the news all week, and it was certainly irresponsible broadcasting journalism. Despite the error, Chavez has been in the news frequently about his turning Venezuela into a socialist regime. What I find more concerning in this article than the fact that Chavez is threatening to cut CNN affiliate Globovision from the air is that the report says that Venezuela is the fifth largest supplier of oil to the U.S. This number is very alarming as Venezuela has some leverage with their resource and the U.S.'s dependency on foreign oil continues despite the fact that it could lead us to some serious international disputes in the near future.

It's starting to look a lot like... not Xmas, but car headaches

There really is nothing like the first blissful snow of the winter season, as people can look forward to making snow angels with their daughters and having snowball fights with their sons. Meanwhile, George Fiddler struggles to scrape a thick layer of frozen rain off his windshield after brushing off a foot of snow off of it before that so he can get to work at 5:45 a.m. Sunday morning. It makes me feel a little better to know that a client that he works with just drove from Wisconsin and helped some lady get her Camry out of a ditch, nothing like getting satisfaction out of other people's struggles. Then I read this Strib article and I read about how a woman loves the first snow and really enjoys cozying up by her fireplace and makes me want to throw her in the fire. The Twin Cities weather report reports that only flurries are expected later this week, on Tuesday, which I can find some solace in, but then I glance out the window of my cubicle office and see the sun come up, and think that making snow angels with my daughter might not be so miserable.

I wake up this morning and Santana is still a Twin

Another day passes and star Twins pitcher Johan Santana is still with us, but boy, is he hanging on for his dear Twins-life. After reading this ESPN article I am as anxious as ever regarding the two-time Cy Young award winner's future with my hometown team, for it declares that trade talks have reached "an apex," and that if a trade doesn't occur within 48 hours, all trade offers may be pulled from the table. The site reports that the AL East rival New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox have made their final offers, with the Yankees now willing to add young phenom Phil Hughes to any package for Santana, and The Red Sox staying pat with their offer of centerfielder Coco Crisp, pitcher Jon Lester and two other prospects, refusing to add coveted centerfielder Jacob Ellsbury or prospect Clay Buckholtz, whom the Twins badly want added to the deal. I am reluctant to say whether or not I am anticipating the trade or dreading it, for either way seems to weigh heavily on my emotions. This article, by the Strib's Joe Christensen, makes me sleep a little easier at night, as he says that trading a franchise star has paid dividends for the team in the past, and that it might be wise to get some value for the star while we still can, seeing that we will get nothing when he walks as a free agent next summer.

What a BCS mess..

Just when things seemed like they couldn't get any more chaotic.. chaos occurs. In the only proper way to cap an extremely unpredictable college football season that has had more upsets and surprise victories than any season in recent memory, #1 Missouri fell to Oklahoma 38-17 and #2 West Virginia lost at home to struggling rival Pitt 13-9 Saturday, according to Sports Illustrated's website. Now what? Well, a playoff system would've been nice for this tumultuous implosion of a season, but then again, who would even be in the playoff, with so many qualified, or maybe un-qualified teams for that matter and so much ambiguity? Expert analyst Kirk Herbstreit didn't even have any insightful conclusion. "The BCS is going to implode," he said. As many as ten teams can probably make their justified case for being in the Championship game, but it is going to boil down to those damned computers, bless their reasonable hearts. Ivan Meisel, of ESPN said it likely looks like LSU and Ohio St. will get bids, on their website, but then again, maybe all of college football should just boycott the BCS bowl games this season in hopes of being rewarded with a playoff system that could be maybe offer some stability. But with this frenetic season, even being stabilized would've still left the scene open for a confusing, unprecedented debate forum.

November 25, 2007

Romanian film wins top award at Stockholm international film festival

The Romanian film "4 month, 3 weeks and 2 days" won the top prize at the 18th Stockholm International Film Festival Saturday, according to the news site, China view. The film, which also won the top prize at the 60th Cannes International Film Festival earlier this year, was awarded the Bronze Horse for Best Film 2007 at this year's 10-day Stockholm film festival which ended Sunday. The film is about illegal abortion, with commentary on the Roe vs. Wade case, and involves young Romanian characters. The film critic at IMDB describes the film as being "as uncompromising as any film I have seen in recent memory," a critique that certainly stirs up anticipation in a film buff like myself. The film was directed by Romanian director Cristian Mungiu. The information that I sought in the article at China view was of confirmation that the festival is indeed a credible festival, worthy of giving such praise to a film. I then ran across how the festival awarded "Requiem for a Dream" in the past, a film I consider compelling, and it also said that the festival is considered one of the 10 biggest film festivals of the year, but I wonder when they say that, who is the "they." The fact that they mentioned it as linked to Cannes film festival gave it all the credibility I needed.

Celtics surge to 11-1, and I secretly weep tears of nostalgia

Ray Allen hit a buzzer-beating three-pointer for Boston Saturday to defeat the Charlotte Bobcats 96-95, according to Sports Illustrated's website. The Celtics have now won 11 of 12 to open the season and seems poised to make a strong run with their dynamic trio of Allen, Paul Pierce and Minnesota' most missed athlete, Kevin Garnett. Bill Simmons writes on his blog that Garnett "is a man on a mission. He's possessed. He's a borderline lunatic," and it really is ambivalent for Twolves fans to witness. There can be no hostility towards Garnett as he gave his all for our franchise and it wasn't his fault our front office ran the team as well as 4th graders could, like "hmmmm.. bananas and peanut butter taste especially good on tortillas, we should order mom to make that every day for four years," like GM Kevin McHale seemed to act like with free agents to surround KG. Garnett really does seem like a man possessed and plays exhibition games like game seven of the NBA Finals. We can only root for him to succeed, but deep down be hurt that the Timberwolves organization couldn't have been run by at least 5th graders.

Dylan biopic opens at Uptown Theater

"I'm Not There," the new Todd Haynes-directed Bob Dylan biopic opened on Friday on limited release at the Uptown Theater, according to the website I saw the film this weekend and I was very intrigued, but a popcorn-flick it is not. The whole concept of using six actors to portray one man, although none of the actors are actually named Bob Dylan and only three out of the six have even a little resemblance to the man is what dragged me to the theater, as well as Cate Blanchett's portrayal of Dylan. I am a casual Dylan fan, not a hardcore, and my overall knowledge of Dylan's life and tendencies certainly played a role in how I watched the film. The review at the same site gave it an 'A' and said that it didn't really matter if you are totally familiar with every step in Dylan's life. I don't necessarily agree with that analysis, as I was lost at moments when others in the theater where laughing. The film does not move in the typical type of linear form of narration that you will see in biopics like "Ray," and "Walk the Line," and the choppy style of storytelling is certainly unique and takes some guts to attempt, let alone execute. I have to say that the Blanchett performance was amazing, as her mannerisms, speech and body language were pretty much dead on, but then again I am not the biggest Dylan-historian there is. I recommend seeing this film, but I do warn non-Dylan fans and those who need linear transgression to be prepared for a few scratches of the head and to be partly blowin’ in the wind.

Hunter leaves Twins for lots of cash

Torii Hunter officially became an ex-Twin on Thursday when he signed a five-year contract worth $90 million with the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, according to The Star Tribune. Talk about a having a lot to be thankful for on a Thanksgiving that Hunter and his family will be giving thanks for for many Thanksgivings to come. The Twins' offer of three years and $45 million didn't even end up being in the vicinity of what Hunter got, and like the paper emphasized, I am shocked he got that much money. The Angels are now on the books to owe Hunter upwards of $18 million for his services in 2012 when he will be 38 and surely to have had his physical capabilites substantially diminished. $18 million for a gimpy center fielder with moderate power numbers is quite pricey, and the paper made more of a deal about how the Twins organization cannot be blamed for not coughing up that much dough than how much he will be missed. ESPN actually has more coverage on its website regarding what the Twins will do now with their other high profile star, Johan Santana. The coverage is on the front of the MLB section on the website, that can be seen here. I would not be surprised to see Santana go, and I agree with ESPN, when they say that the Twins should get what value they can for him now through a trade, than later when he will sign for a number that completely obliterates Hunter's gigantic contract.

November 18, 2007

Federer wins Masters Cup title in Shanghai

Swiss Roger Federer defeated David Ferrer 6-2 6-3 6-2 for his 53rd career victory and fourth Masters Cup title Sunday in a battle of Fe- namesakes, according to CNN. The tennis great earned his eighth victory this year in a relatively easy performance, which is what his work has pretty much consisted of lately. He took home $1.2 million and a new Mercedes-Benz for his win, not bad for a few days work. The man has accomplished so much in his career, and the alarming fact is that he is still only 26 years old, with a ton left in his tank. His rivalry with Spaniard Rafael Nadal has made a fan out of a non-tennis fan, in myself, and has surely done the same for many other observers. ESPN's coverage of the match was pretty much identical as the AP story for the first few paragraphs until they put more emphasis on just how great of a season it was for Federer. His winnings exceeded $8.5 million this year and brought up the question of whether or not he is more talented than Tiger Woods, a question that a very select company can even fathom hearing. ESPN also wrote more casually, giving their own input, and it was obvious where they broke for the AP coverage and began their analysis.

Report finds most homicides in Twin Cities committed with guns

The Pioneer Press published a story this week that caught my eye for no other reason than that it was sad, and sad because it was not surprising. The paper reports that a vast majority of the people who died in Minneapolis homicides last year were killed with guns, which was according to a new report by the Department of Justice's Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. The report showed that the Minneapolis homicide rate decreased significantly in 2006 from 2005, but more than three-fourths of those murders were committed with a gun. The article used a lot of statistics, and they did a good job citing the unfortunate news. I was studying another report online entitled Death by Murder and it reported that Minneapolis was neither one of the most dangerous cities, nor one of the safest. Washington D.C. was listed as the region with the highest rate of murders by guns, and Maine was listed as the state with smallest rate. I was not surprised by either reports, but every time I come across a gun related article, I just hope it is something positive, something for change; neither was the case here as the mood remains bleak. The Virginia Tech tragedy last year, along with the preposterous annual murder rates should be blaring signs that something needs to be dome about the gun control laws, but I know all too well how large of a battle that issue is to fight. The question remains: How terrible of a crime or staggering of numbers is it going to take for changes to occur?

Twins sign Monroe in hope of pleasing Hunter

The Minnesota Twins traded for Cubs outfielder Craig Monroe Tuesday, according to The Star Tribune. While Monroe is known as a "Twins killer" from his performances against the club when he was the Detroit Tigers, he struggled last year with Detroit before being traded to the Chicago Cubs midseason. To show how a local paper will cater a story towards their audience, the fact that Monroe is friends with longtime Twin Torii Hunter is almost just as big of news as they signing itself in the coverage, as the fact even made the headline in the "Strib." All other national coverage of the trade may have mentioned the fact that the two are friends near the end of the story, as ESPN did, or maybe not even mention it all. The fact that the two are friends is a big deal to locals in the Twin Cities because they can have hope that the acquisition may play a role in the team resigning Hunter, who turned down the team's three-year offer of $45 million. I doubt that the trade will change Hunter's decision at all, as he is looking for the contract that will be the largest of his career and he wants to maximize his intake, which is very much his right to do, despite the fact that fans will be possibly be bitter towards him if he bolts for more money. At least we have Craig Monroe, and we may have hope in signing aging Arizona Diamondbacks slugger Tony Clark, a very typical Twins prospect, a low-cost, low-reward guy.

Bonds indicted on perjury charges

Barry Bonds, who passed legend Hank Aaron on the all-time home-run tally this year and has undergone some of the harshest treatments from fans in the history of sports, due to the suspicion that he was linked to steroids, was indicted by a federal grand jury Thursday. The grand jury in San Francisco returned a five count indictment against Bonds, which includes four counts of perjury and one count of obstruction of justice and accuses him of lying when he said he didn't knowingly take steroids, according to CNN. These charges come after roughly four years of speculation and refusals by Bonds to admit that he had taken steroids. The perjury convictions carry possible prison terms of up to five years, while obstruction of justice can bring a 10-year sentence. This certainly will end the major league star's career, as the limited number of teams that were willing to sign him and all his baggage have surely vanished amidst these convictions. It truly is a sad story, as before the whole issue of steroids in baseball began, Bonds was a legitimate talent, but he was a different player. The sleek, base-stealing centerfielder transformed over the years, notably since 2001, as his weight and muscle mass mysteriously got larger and larger. People can ridicule him all they want, but it is hard to deny the reasoning in him taking steroids. He saw Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa revitalize the game in 1997, a season in which it is highly assumed that they were both using performance-enhancing drugs, and Bonds wasn't getting any love. Think about it? You are better than everyone in your profession until all your peers are cheating; which helps them give better performances; wouldn't you be a little ticked off? Well, certainly everyone would be, and Bonds decided to prove that he was still better, as he took steroids and escalated his status past all his peers that he was outperforming prior to the usage, not to mention receiving double his salary because of it. A lot of people would have gone this route, as much as people will deny it, and a good perspective on the matter is written about at this blog, called Media Appetite, authored by a familiar writer.