Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Random Thoughts of the Day

Normally, this is where I would put my thoughts on the movie I watched the previous evening...or at any point prior. However, I decided to pocket my thoughts on Dead Alive for Metal Psalter, so keep an eye out for that sometime soon. Naturally, this leaves me scrambling for something to talk about, and since I am drawing a blank on a different movie to talk about right now, today's piece is going to be another one of those random thought segments. Unlike last time I did one of these things, I promise to keep it to one thought this time.

Only five more days until Opening Day in Baseball. Time sure flies, and so does the amount of storylines, so what will I look out for? How many Cardinals players suddenly look bigger, for one. Just sayin'. Or how about the over/under on how many wins the Royals offense costs pitcher Zack Grienke. There's also the usual East Coast bias towards teams like the Red Sox and Yankees. In case you couldn't tell by that last sentence, I'm a West Coast guy stuck in the Midwest until further notice, but I digress. And perhaps this is finally the year that the Nationals finally have media attention for something other than a jersey mishap that saw two players don the "Natinals" jersey one game last year.

It's going to be a long season and I'm fairly sure that my fantasy baseball teams are going to bite it at some point during the season, but that doesn't mean there won't be any shortage of interesting things happening.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Blood Feast

So, in keeping with the horror fest that I am going to try up until I head to Portland, OR in late April, I have found that a fairly limited selection in the ol' DVD collection has me trying to improvise. Fortunately, the fact that I haven't really watched most of the films in the collection in their entirety helps here, as does this blog that you are reading right now.

Earlier, I covered a Herschell Gordon Lewis film in The Gore Gore Girls. Today, I will cover an earlier film that he did that is considered one of the first gory films in movie history in Blood Feast.

Blood Feast is about women getting killed in gruesome ways and the idea of preparing a feast for the Egyptian goddess Ishtar. Before I continue, Ishtar is actually a Babylonian goddess, but considering that this is a B-movie, all logic should be thrown out the window. Unfortunately, some of that logic could have easily been used, especially for the detectives that are trying to solve the particularly gruesome killings (more on this later). Immediately, the killer is known to the viewers, as the old man Fuad Ramses kills a woman in her bathtub and hacks off a leg. Soon, it is revealed that Ramses runs an exotic catering shop and is asked by a mother to help cater an Egyptian style feast for her daughter. To help prepare for this feast, Ramses kills another woman on the beach and takes parts of her brain, but not before knocking her boyfriend unconscious. Another killing sees Ramses pulling out a tongue of an anonymous woman staying at a hotel. More killings happen until the feast, when Ramses tries to offer the daughter as a sacrifice to the goddess Ishtar. Before he can, he gets run off by the screaming mother and eventually meets his fate by trash compactor.

The murders are particularly gruesome, which while it may not be as spectacular as say, Suspiria, the murders in Blood Feast did set a standard for subsequent horror movies to follow. For most of the movie, the viewer will likely find themselves screaming at the detectives. Despite the fact that the victims had some link to a "book club" and one victim describing the murderer (accurately, I might add) and mentioning something that sounds like "Eethar," which sounds similar to "Ishtar," the detectives still can't put it all together. Acting isn't all that great, either, but what would you expect from a B-movie? Those inconsistencies aside, Blood Feast is recommended for those who enjoy campy 60's horror and gore.

Monday, March 29, 2010

2010 MLB Preview: Part 3

It is now only six days away until the first regular season MLB game, and today is a look at the West Division of both the American and National Leagues. So, here we go...


Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim: In addition to the most confusing team name ever, the Angels are also the favorite to repeat...barely. No clear cut ace in the rotation, and they don't have a real intimidating hitter in the middle of their lineup. However, these are the Angels, so don't count them out.

Oakland Athletics: Lots of youth, but not much experience. They will certainly be in games, but thinking that they will compete for a playoff spot would be foolish.

Seattle Mariners: The best threat to the Angels' throne, it will have to be all about pitching, something that they have in bunches. However, the walking time bomb that is Milton Bradley is also on the team, so anything can happen there.

Texas Rangers: Every year, it's the same story with this team: great hitting, not so good pitching. This year just might be the year that the pitching becomes decent, and that may be enough to at least, make the playoffs.


Arizona Diamondbacks: Young team that can hit, but strikes out way too much. Pitching that is trying to pick up the pieces, especially the bullpen, and of course, the health of Brandon Webb is something to keep an eye on.

Colorado Rockies: If they can avoid the traditional slow starts, they would be the favorites to take the division. Solid pitching staff that can pitch as well at home as they can on the road, and an exciting offense that isn't going to remind people of the Blake Street Bombers anytime soon, but it doesn't need to be that way...much.

Los Angeles Dodgers: Ownership drama will likely overshadow the on field product, which has its share of drama in the form of Manny Ramirez. Other than that, they still have a chance to win the division. In short, they are the Colorado Rockies with more drama surrounding it.

San Diego Padres: They are just now getting out of the rubble of the front office mess, and they don't have much going for it now. If the team could build itself to fit its home ball park, that would be a step in the right direction.

San Francisco Giants: Great pitching, but subpar offense. At least they have people that can be difference makers in Tim Lincecum and Pablo Sandoval.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

2010 MLB Preview: Part 2

Today, I will look at the Central Division for both the American and National Leagues. Without further ado, here goes:


Chicago White Sox: The favorites in the division, which isn't really saying much. Strong pitching will carry this team because the offense isn't going to be that great.

Cleveland Indians: In rebuilding mode, they aren't expected to make much noise this year. Pitching is certainly going to be an experiment that could potentially spell disaster.

Detroit Tigers: So, what will this team do to get the bad taste out of their mouths? Well, a right Miguel Cabrera would be a good start, as would some bullpen help.

Kansas City Royals: Great pitching at the top of the rotation, but not much offense, and the bullpen is a mess. Bad decisions in free agency and trades have also hurt.

Minnesota Twins: Before closer Joe Nathan went down, the Twins were the favorites. At least they still have Joe Mauer and Justin Morneau.


Chicago Cubs: Pitching is an issue, and so is hitting. Of course, fans will think curse, but that doesn't explain Soriano's half-hearted effort or Zambrano's meltdowns.

Cincinnati Reds: Young team that has good pitching at the top, and not a lot of experience in the lineup. They also need some life on offense.

Houston Astros: Ownership is delusional in that they believe that the team can still be competitive. Fact in the matter is that they need to rebuild...big time. Little depth will be their downfall.

Milwaukee Brewers: Good offense, but stone hands on defense. Starting pitching can also be an issue, but the bullpen can cover some deficiencies.

Pittsburgh Pirates: Move along, nothing to see here.

St. Louis Cardinals: The favorites, and admittedly, the team I hate worse than the Yankees. Over/under 4 on how many needles Mark McGwire injects into the hitters.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

2010 MLB Preview: Part 1

Before I begin the Major League Baseball preview, I'd like to say that the picture included has nothing at all to do with this, I just happen to find it funny.

I can't believe that it is almost a week away until Opening Day of the baseball season. And with the baseball season comes the inevitable storylines, such as performance enhancing drugs, the Evil Empire known as the New York Yankees, and of course, mascots firing hot dogs into people's eyes. Okay, so the last one only happened once...that anyone knows about, anyway. And since I have to at least, start relating the pieces to the "Rocks" part of the title one way or another, I suppose I should begin talking baseball, and what better way to do that than a preview of all 30 teams. Since this may take a while, I will break it down into three segments, with the East of both leagues getting the treatment today. Tomorrow will be the Central and Monday will be the West. Now that I've made all that clear, let me bore you in three sentences or less about each team in the East division from both leagues.


Baltimore Orioles: In rebuilding mode, they have the pieces to eventually be a respectable club. However, pitching will have to learn on the job, and it remains to be seen if catcher Matt Wieters can follow up his solid rookie campaign from last year.

Boston Red Sox: They are quickly becoming what they've hated for years: The Evil Empire. Only this time, they still have holes to fill, like center field and someone that scares pitchers, and I don't think David Ortiz will regain his former form. At least the pitching will be better...if Daisuke Matsuzaka rebounds.

New York Yankees: The real Evil Empire, they finally made their investments pay off last year. This year looks just as promising, as they got younger in the outfield and maintained the talent level there. Anything short of a title will be a disappointment.

Tampa Ray Rays: They snuck up on no one last year, as they finished a distant third in the division. However, they have the best chance of unseating the Sox and Yanks in the division, and they also know what it means to win when it counts, as 2008 attests.

Toronto Blue Jays: No Roy Halladay, no real offense, what is there for the Blue Jays to hang on to? Well, they will be 2012.


Atlanta Braves: Great pitching staff, decent offense, and motivation to win for a manager that is stepping down at the end of this year. Sleeper team that could surprise many in the division.

Florida Marlins: Every year, they get written off as a team that can't compete, and every year, they prove everyone wrong. I would not be surprised if they are still in the playoff race by the end of the season, but stone hands in the infield may be their undoing.

New York Mets: Questions abound, such as whether they can figure out their ball park, health, and the sudden power outage on offense. Mets fans can forget about playoffs this year.

Philadelphia Phillies: All that stands between the Phillies and a three peat of the National League title is their bullpen. The acquisition of Roy Halladay should save the bullpen every fifth day, though.

Washington Nationals: Move along, nothing to see here...until Stephen Strasburg makes his MLB debut this season.

Friday, March 26, 2010

The Playoffs are so near...and Other Random Thoughts

It is now a little over two weeks to go until the NHL playoffs begin and the chase for the eight spot in the Eastern Conference is heating up. The Western Conference is all but set, as the only thing to settle there is the seeding. So, what is there to talk about? How about a little travel through the nostalgia machine.

Thought #1: Take a good look at the Buffalo Sabres Jason Pominville shirt in the picture because it will likely be the last time that you will see the "Buffaslug" adorning anything Sabres related after this season. Widespread rumors have the Sabres going back to the original looks, with their current third jerseys becoming their home jerseys. I say that the change is overdue, as this was a pretty horrible look to begin with.

Thought #2: Since I now have both the old and new Phoenix Coyotes jerseys (both white, thanks for asking), and by new, I mean the logo, one has to ponder whether I should go after the old Winnipeg Jets jersey. After all, the Coyotes were once the Jets before 1996, and having a Teemu Selanne Jets jersey wouldn't look too bad on me.

Thought #3: Suppose Kansas City gets an NHL team because an existing team decides to relocate. Who would be the prime candidates?

New York Islanders: With their arena situation in flux and with an owner that has mismanaged the team, one would think the Islanders would be the prohibitive favorites to move to the Midwest. However, with a fairly rich history, as in they have won four Stanley Cups, I would not be surprised if the Islanders stay in New York.

Nashville Predators: Another team that has talked about relocation in the past, they don't have nearly the same history as the Islanders, nor do they really have any star power. Has it been any wonder why the Predators rank near the bottom in attendance? Of course, not having a star could hurt Kansas City in that the team would have to get really creative in marketing the team, and Kansas City hasn't exactly been creative in promoting itself.

Phoenix Coyotes: Currently, they are owned by the NHL, pending approval of whoever decides to buy the team. They are also in the playoff hunt this year, which would obviously cause a spike in attendance most of the time. One reason why I don't think the Coyotes will move is because the NHL is insistent on making hockey work in Phoenix, and certainly, the playoffs will be a good barometer on whether the league is right in that regard.

Florida Panthers: Early on, it looked like the Panthers were going to have a long run in the Sunshine State, having reached the Stanley Cup Finals in their third year of existence. However, they haven't reached the playoffs in a decade and with attendance dwindling, they would appear to be just behind the Islanders as a relocation candidate. The question here is how you would sell a city on a team that hasn't made the playoffs in a decade, one that not even a city like Chicago or New York could answer easily.

Atlanta Thrashers: Of all the teams that entered the NHL in the late 90's, the Thrashers have had the least amount of success, in both the playoffs and attendance. Having only one appearance in the playoffs will do that for you. I am sure that you are saying that the Blue Jackets have the same problem, but the difference is that the Blue Jackets are the only pro game in town, whereas the Thrashers have to compete with the Falcons, Braves, and Hawks, all teams that have experienced success recently. A potential hurt as far as promoting the Thrashers is who you can sell the city on, as they traded their face of the franchise, leaving no one to really be that guy.

I've exhausted my trip through nostalgia (and hypotheses), so I suppose that I should end here...for now. Until next time...

Thursday, March 25, 2010

The Omen (1976)

Day two of the horror-fest brings a gem of a movie in The Omen. No, I am not talking about the remake of a few years ago, which brought absolutely nothing new to the original story, nor was the Damian of that movie convincing. I'll get back to my soap box on remakes later, but for right now, I'll focus on the original version.

Originally made in 1976, The Omen was known just as much for the scare factor on screen as it was for the scare factor off of it. Incidents that were supposedly linked to the making of this film have had some fatal consequences, natural or something outside of our control. The on screen product is widely regarded as one of the very best horror films, and one of the few that doesn't rely on heavy amounts of gore to do so. Aside from the priest getting impaled by the church spire (while still standing, no less) and the photographer getting decapitated by a pane of glass (top five as far as death scenes go), much of the movie focuses on the scare element. This is clearly where The Omen succeeds as a movie. Even with Gregory Peck in the movie, it is Harvey Stephens who shines in the movie as Damian, as it showcases the deception of the son of Satan inside of a little boy. Peck is alright in his role as Robert Thorn, but he has been in better roles (see To Kill a Mockingbird) and most of the other characters are not spectacular, but that wasn't what they were there for. Those looking for buckets of gore will be disappointed by The Omen, as it is there to primarily scare the viewer.

SOAP BOX ALERT: I generally hate the idea of a movie being remade, especially something like The Omen. Remakes come off as homogenized, lesser versions of their original cousins. I bring this up not only because of this movie, but also for the fact that there are rumors that there is a remake of Suspiria in the works. Until that gets confirmed, I will still consider this a rumor. I hope this isn't true, as the movie is great as it was made in 1977, and I fear that the possible remake will be devoid of the things that made it great.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Killer Cars

I decided to try and start my own little horror-fest, which will run up until the day I leave for another metal weekend in Portland, OR. It began yesterday with a movie that I felt compelled to watch after reading the novel of the same name. If you're guessing along the lines of a Stephen King novel, then step on up and claim your big ol' prize of absolutely nothing. The adaptation in question is one movie called Christine, and in case you have never either read the book or even bothered to take a peek at the picture above, the plot centers around a possessed car.

Before I get into the nuts and bolts of the movie, I would like to say that some of the changes between the book and the movie drove me nuts, particularly the fact that the movie took place in California as opposed to Pennsylvania, as it was in the book, as well as some of the character deaths (more on that later). The main characters in the movie are Arnie Cunningham and Dennis Guilder, who are an inept nerd and star football player, respectively. Early on, we are also introduced to the school dickhead Buddy Repperton and his goon squad, namely Moochie Welch and Richie Trelawney. Even though Christine (and yes, she is a car, thanks for asking) is introduced in the beginning as slamming the car hood on some worker's hand and killing another that stepped foot inside her, the formal introduction doesn't take place until Arnie spots her all broken down and urges Dennis to stop so he can take a look and eventually buy her. Naturally, Dennis, Arnie's parents, and the local junk dealer Will Darnell are not pleased. However, Arnie somehow makes Christine almost good as new and eventually scores a date with new girl Leigh Cabot. However, something is amiss, as Christine seems to gain control of Arnie, which concerns Dennis and Leigh. Dennis gets taken out during a football game and gets holed up in the hospital for a good part of the movie and Leigh almost chokes to death in Christine at a drive-in movie. Buddy and company trash Christine as she is sitting in Darnell's garage, and Arnie swears revenge. Soon, one by one, those who get in the way of Arnie and Christine are cut down, and it is eventually up to Dennis and Leigh to stop Christine.

The good parts of the movie are Arnie and Buddy. Throughout the movie, we get to see the slow transformation of Arnie from the nerd who can't buy a date to someone who somehow scores a date with Leigh to eventually a monster who gets possessed by Christine, all while still looking like himself. Buddy is the classic 50's throwback greaser-type who fits the dickhead persona perfectly. I was disappointed that there wasn't much gore in the movie like there was in the movie. Two that bothered me in particular were the deaths of Buddy and Will Darnell. They didn't even show Buddy's death, as they cut from the scene just as an on fire Christine was about to run Buddy down, and Will Darnell just asphyxiated in the car as she came back into his garage and he stepped inside. Compared to the book, that's like having sex with Mariah Carey and passing out before you spunk inside of her. Overall, Christine is a pretty good horror movie, but those expecting gore will severely disappointed.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Coyote Ugly

No, I am not referring to the movie of the same name as today's piece. Today's jersey is the bizarre looking third threads that the Phoenix Coyotes broke out in the late 90's. Take a good look at the jersey you see here for a second and tell me if any of this looks like something you would expect a professional hockey player to wear. (allows time for pause) I didn't think so, either. The jersey itself is a dark green with the traditional desgin of the coyote head that was part of the team's logo at the time and the cuffs were black with what looks like a desert scene, complete with cacti and the crescent moon, if said scenery was designed by someone on acid.

Truth be told, this was a bizarre looking jersey, but when you look at the Coyotes' home and away uniforms at the time this was introduced, is it any surprise at all that this was what they came up with as their third jersey? Points for the effort, but that's about it.

PS: now that I think about it, perhaps the home and away threads that the Coyotes wore from their debut season up to 2004 ought to be included in this discussion (see below for home jersey).

Monday, March 22, 2010

Sea Sickness

I haven't done one of these in a while, but the return of the bizarre and unusual jerseys can only mean one thing: grab your shades or barf bag. Today's piece is about the jersey that you see to your left. Now, before I get into the history of this mess, ask yourself this: would you want your team's future superstar wearing that while playing any sport?

The history of this rather unusual jersey dates back to 1996, or about the time that the NHL decided to break out the third jerseys for some teams. Tampa Bay was one of those teams, as they debuted what is dubbed "Sea Sickness." The name fits the jersey design perfectly, as the black and silver "rain drops" on a blue background, combined with what is supposed to be lightning bolts on the sleeves and bottom make this one of the most chaotic looks of all time. Throw in the silver shoulder colors to go with the primary blue and black, and the number designs, and it gets even worse. Not helping matters much would be the patches that the team would be putting to the right of the logo, the number 12 in a shamrock as a tribute to John Cullen as he was fighting cancer at the time being the first, and the all-star logo following. And did I mention that the Lightning were terrible during that time period?

In the early days of the third jersey in the NHL, there were some horrific designs. The Lightning "Sea Sickness" jersey is no exception; in fact, it is the poster child for what not to do when designing jerseys. Thankfully, it was killed off before 2000, and the current third jerseys the Lightning sport are much, much better...and less chaotic.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

The Gore Gore Girls

Yesterday, while trying to decide what movie I wanted to watch while the snow came down, i came across a DVD case that had no cover. So, in my curiosity, I decided to check out what I had in there and lo and behold, something that I forgot I had from the same friend from college. It was a burned copy of the French film Living Dead Girl coupled with a Herschell Gordon Lewis flick called Blood Feast. Both will be covered here at some point, but the latter got me to thinking about another Lewis flick that I had to watch a few years back in The Gore Gore Girls. Basically, it is a stripper film wrapped into a horror film that lives up to its name.

If you're looking for the premise of this film, it's actually quite simple: female adult entertainers are getting killed left and right, and it is up to a detective named Abe Gentry to figure out who is committing the acts of murder. Along the way, Gentry also has to deal with a female reporter, who he reluctantly lets help with the case. I won't bore you with the details of the story, so it is on to the various ways in which the victims are murdered. For instance, one victim gets pounded on the ass with a meat tenderizer while in another scene, two women meet their fates in odd ways, with one of them being drowned in hot oil used for french fries while another gets the ironing treatment. Say what you will about this film, but the death scenes are as gruesome as they are hilarious. As for the actual murderer, this would be one of the classic Vince Russo SWERVES that only pro wrestling fans would know about.

The Gore Gore Girls is by no means, a classic film. However, it has a pretty good sense of humor in its killings and plays out like 60's television show, which brings out the "way back machine." Horror fans should check this out, but the real horror is the bad acting by the adult entertainers, not that they were good actors to begin with.

Friday, March 19, 2010

More jersey talk

As a general rule, I like to keep this blog as strictly a personal opinion piece for anything that I may have something to say. However, there was a piece that I thought was too fascinating to pass up. In keeping with the theme of bizarre looking jerseys that I have written about here, I figure that this piece, originally posted by a gaggle of writers under the Puck Daddy blog on the Yahoo site, fits in with the unusual and sometimes, just plain wrong jersey designs. Except that it isn't about jersey designs, but about rules for jersey customizations. Before I begin writing about the particular part that caught my eye, I'd like to give a quick explanation about customization: it basically is putting a name and number on the back of the jersey. Many of the baseball and football jerseys also do this kind of thing, so it isn't limited to just hockey. That said, there are some people who take that liberty too far, and since the Puck Daddy blog already covered a good part of that, I won't delve into that too much.

The part that grabbed my attention, as described by the blog:

The Mario Lemieux Chicago Blackhawks sweater, provided by Scott A., is even more atrocious. Not only because the Blackhawks have, oh, a few Hall of Fame players in their history worthy of a jersey, but because Mario won the Conn Smythe in the 1992 Stanley Cup finals when the Pittsburgh Penguins owned the Blackhawks in a 4-game sweep.Is this some kind of perverse hockey masochism?

This line is in reference to the Chicago Blackhawks jersey that somehow had Mario Lemieux as a member of the Blackhawks at some point in his career (Picture is in the blog, so go there to see it). The description above is spot on, since the Blackhawks do have quite a few legendary players and as an Original Six team, shouldn't have to stoop that low to boost jersey sales. I'm not here to pile on though, as the thought occurred to me that the 1984 draft had some far-reaching consequences. Everyone knows that the Pittsburgh Penguins had the number one overall pick that year and drafted Lemieux. Everyone also knows what happened to the Penguins for the next, oh, ten years or so. At this point, you're probably asking what this has to do with the Blackhawks. I'm getting there, so be patient. Anyway, the second pick that year was the New Jersey Devils and they picked Kirk Muller, who had a decent career and won a Stanley Cup with the Montreal Canadiens in 1993. The third pick that year belonged to the Blackhawks and they picked Ed Olczyk. He ended up being a journeyman, since he was traded many times throughout his career, but had a respectable career, scoring 342 goals. Having said that, his best years were with the Toronto Maple Leafs and Winnipeg Jets.

Now, imagine if the Blackhawks had somehow gotten the first overall pick and drafted Lemieux. Would he have gotten the Blackhawks a Stanley Cup? We will never know, although given the Blackhawks' history of letting great players go, I wouldn't be surprised if the answer was still no.

Original blog post:,228253

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

The Body Cartel

Cannibalism, drug cartels, strippers: these are the things that you can expect from The Body Cartel. The book from newcomer Alan Spencer is a story about a couple, Jericho and Maddy Healey, who move to Arizona to start a new business venture. While moving into their new house, they hear sounds from the basement that ruin their house warming festivities. A couple of days later, Maddy disappears and Jericho finds that a couple of policemen are sealing the basement where the couple had heard the sounds. Convinced that the cops are hiding some secret, he enlists his cousin Alex, who is also a cop, to find out about Maddy's whereabouts. What they find is that there is much more than meets the eye, as eventually, both discover a drug cartel that operates from a strip club, and soon enough, it turns into something more, as it eventually leads to a cavern where bodies are dumped, only that some of them are actually still alive, with many of the denziens turning to cannibalism. Do Jericho and Maddy survive the ordeal, or are they eaten alive? What happens to the others involved in the operation? Read the book if you wish to have answers to the questions.

As for the particulars, through much of the book, Spencer seems to be just trying to find an identity, as some of the story leading up to Maddy's disappearance is mostly just building up to that point. In addition to the Healeys' story, there is also the story of Amado and Quentin, the guys who run the strip joint and the body dumping operations, as well as Officer Hernandez. The stories are sometimes hard to follow in the beginning, a point that is further driven by the climax when all of the participants are in the cavern trying to find what they are looking for, as well as an escape. The scenes in the cavern are particularly exciting, as it offers a great sense of danger and suspense. The points where the former humans turned cannibals eat their prey are especially gruesome, with every detail pointed out. Those with weak stomachs need not apply, as The Body Cartel leaves no bloody detail behind.

Overall, there are points in The Body Cartel where it drags, but reading through the book will reap some rewards. At times, it can be difficult to keep track of who's who in the story, but once the cavern parts come up, it is as easy to discern as it becomes more chaotic, in the literal sense, as everyone tries to either eat the others or try to find a way out. This is recommended reading if you like gore, but be prepared to pace yourself, as running through the book will lead you to miss some things.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Heading into the Home Stretch, part 2

And now, here is the Western Conference, with some notes about each of the 15 teams.


Chicago Blackhawks: The clear front runners in the division, their playoff run could be undone by the goaltending. It looks like Cristobal Huet is not the team's long term answer, and the backup goaltender hasn't played enough for the team to really count on him. Then again, the same could have been said for Simeon Varlamov in Washington last year.

Columbus Blue Jackets: Last year seemed to be an abberation, as this year sees them out of the playoffs and possibly looking for a coach at the end of the year, unless they decide the interim is good enough.

Detroit Red Wings: The free agent defections, injuries, and shaky goaltending have the Red Wings on the verge of not making the playoffs. The million dollar question here is whether they can fend off Calgary for the final playoff spot.

Nashville Predators: Every year, it seems like the Predators are slated to not make the playoffs and every year, they either come close or somehow sneak in. This year is no different, as they currently hold the seventh spot in the playoffs.

St. Louis Blues: No, they aren't going to sneak up on anybody this year, and no, they aren't making the playoffs, either.


Calgary Flames: So, they traded away Phaneuf and Olli Jokinen and somehow they remain in the playoff chase? Yes, and no, they aren't going to have a deep run, so don't get too excited.

Colorado Avalanche: Surprise team of the year, and it all begins with Craig Anderson in goal. The best signing of the offseason, he will have to be lights out if Colorado hopes to have a decent playoff run.

Edmonton Oilers: They stink, the end. And considering that I grew up an Oilers fan, this is one of the more depressing stories. Nothing has really worked out, but with the possible number one overall pick in the coming draft, it is possible that things can change. Then again, it is the Oilers, so I'm not getting my hopes up.

Minnesota Wild: Another disappointing year for the State of Hockey, I would hope that the Wild can put up a more consistent season next year.

Vancouver Canucks: They could be representing the Western Conference if Roberto Luongo is Roberto Luongo, the Sedins play lights out, and the defense is competent enough. In short, I believe this is the team that can make it all the way in the conference.


Anaheim Ducks: They're not making the playoffs, and given that they need to start getting younger at key spots, I think next year will include more growing pains. That means guys like Ryan Getzlaf, Corey Perry, and Bobby Ryan will have to take on more of a leadership role. At least they have a guy that can man the nets in Jonas Hiller.

Dallas Stars: Another year of not making the playoffs, and no real clear plan on how to get there, I don't see them making a run next year. And no, I don't see Kari Lehtonen as a long term solution in net.

Los Angeles Kings: Another surprise team in the Western Conference, they won't win the Cup this year, but playoff experience is what counts. Guys like Anze Kopitar and Jonathan Quick will benefit greatly from this run, even if they don't get far.

Phoenix Coyotes: Like the Los Angeles Kings, they are young and will benefit greatly from the playoff experience. Now if only they can finally sort out the ownership issue, then things could look up for the team.

San Jose Sharks: Remember when I labeled the Hurricanes as the decade's ultimate tease? I take that back, as the Sharks are the decade's ultimate tease. Every year, they make the playoffs as one of the top seeds and every year, seemingly, they fall in the first round. Until they can make a run in the playoffs, I won't be holding my breath on them making that run.

Heading into the Home Stretch, part 1

With the NCAA tournament bracket all set, soon Opening Day in Baseball will be here, along with the playoffs in the NHL and NBA. While my beloved Portland Trailblazers limp into the playoffs, literally, I might add, the NHL playoffs offer some solace, if only for the fact that there may be games where I stay up late to watch. With that in mind, I think it would be a good idea to take a look back at each of the 30 teams and see how they progressed (or regressed) throughout the season and possibly into the playoffs. Right now, I will look at the Eastern Conference teams and see how they have fared, and will have the Western Conference up later.


New Jersey Devils: They're in good shape as far as getting into the playoffs are concerned, but I would not be surprised if they bow out in the first round like they have in recent years. Martin Brodeur isn't getting any younger, and the Devils aren't doing themselves any favors by playing him for 70 games or so.

New York Islanders: Don't bother penciling them in for the playoffs, despite being seven points out of the eight spot at the time of this writing. Not enough to make it this year, but a nice learning experience for the young guys on the team to at least have a chance at making the playoffs.

New York Rangers: Despite having one of the leading point getters in Marian Gaborik and one of the very best goaltenders in Henrik Lundqvist, this team has underachieved. Just a point out of the playoff picture, don't count them out, though.

Philadelphia Flyers: Should be able to make the playoffs, but early season expectations have proved to be way too much. Not trading for a proven goaltender at the trade deadline will come back to haunt them worse than not trading for Nashville defenseman Dan Hamhuis.

Pittsburgh Penguins: They know the playoff song and dance by now, so it should be no surprise that they look like a team ready to make another run at the Stanley Cup.


Boston Bruins: Early season favorites have stumbled through the season. Lack of offense has been the main culprit, and they did nothing to address that need at the deadline. Don't be surprised if they are swept out of the playoffs, that is if they even make it to that point.

Buffalo Sabres: Simply put, everything falls on Ryan Miller. He has the big game experience, which will serve him well, and will even cover up some of the team's other deficiencies. Sound familiar? Those who have lived through the Dominik Hasek era in Buffalo would be happy if this was the case.

Montreal Canadiens: Fans will never be happy until the team wins another Stanley Cup. Well, sorry to disappoint the Canadiens fans, but it's not happening this year. This year looks a lot like last year, which is to say the more things change, the more they stay the same.

Ottawa Senators: Surprise entry into the playoff picture, especially after the Dany Heatley mess during the offseason. They could sneak up on some teams in the playoffs. The real question is whether you can name the starting goaltender on the Senators. (For the record, it is Brian Elliot.)

Toronto Maple Leafs: They stink. Bet you didn't see that coming. Good news is that they have nowhere to go but up, especially since they now have a proven goaltender in Jean-Sebastien Giguere and a defenseman that is out to prove himself in Dion Phaneuf. They're still going nowhere next year, though, so don't get your hopes up, Maple Leafs fans.


Atlanta Thrashers: They traded away the face of the franchise in Ilya Kovalchuk and somehow remain five points out of the playoffs. Go figure. They're not making it, but there's always a chance that the people they got in return will pan out (or not).

Carolina Hurricanes: The decade's ultimate tease, they make one really good run in the playoffs and follow it up with absolute stinkers. The trend continues, with a conference finals run last year, only to follow it up with a near dead last standing as of now. Nothing on the blue line is to blame for that.

Florida Panthers: No, they aren't going to break the drought of consecutive years without a playoff berth this year. Blame the loss of David Booth for a few months for that, as he was pretty much the team's offense.

Tampa Bay Lightning: Four points out of the playoffs, they likely won't make it, but with offensive firepower, it would not be wise to count them out. If they make the playoffs, they would not be a team I would want to face.

Washington Capitals: Along with the Penguins, the favorite to represent the Eastern Conference in the Stanley Cup finals. Goaltending and defense could potentially trip them up, but having Alexander Ovechkin on the ice can cover up a lot of deficiencies.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Flying Zombie Heads and Other Things

I'm sure that you're saying that there is a safe country from the zombie epidemic, that there is no possible way that zombies can surface in certain places in the world. Well, that is where you are wrong, and as Zombi 3 shows, it can happen anywhere. Okay, so that point was "proven" already with Hell of the Living Dead, but that movie was really shot in Spain and not where the movie claims to have taken place.

Zombi 3 takes place in the Philippines and begins in a science lab, where some scientists are experimenting with something called the Death One virus. Now, stop and tell me if this sounds familiar to you. Yes, this movie is ripping off Hell of the Living Dead, which should figure to some degree, since the guy who directed the Dawn of the Dead ripoff Bruno Mattei, also had a hand in Zombi 3. Before I go any further, it should be noted that the movie began as a Lucio Fulci film, but he left halfway through and Mattei finished the directing responsibilities, though the official directing credits go to Fulci. Back to the story, the experiment goes awry, the scientists head to the waiting vehicle with the virus secured inside a case, only to be met by some eco terrorists, and one of them runs off with the case. During the chase, the case gets shot, the man who had the case gets infected by the virus, and he begins to look worse before dying, but not before biting one of the bell boys and killing a maid at a hotel in which he took refuge. The army finds him, burns him, and the result is that it releases the virus into the air. Long story short, it affects the birds, which will affect the people who are central to the story.

Now, for the good, bad, and ugly of the movie. First, the good: the flying zombie head that attacks one of the people that were in the party van and the zombie baby that attacks a woman who was also part of that convoy. The bad: zombies should not be able to speak in complete sentences, let alone, in a coherent manner when it is clearly established that said infected person is a zombie. Also, zombies should not be able to move all. Period. The ugly: the makeup that is used on the zombies in the making of the film. To clarify, that is also a good thing, since it shows a marked improvement from the early days of zombie movies.

Zombi 3 commits a lot of sins when it comes to the "rules of zombie movies," which for the most part, equals disaster. Some comedy relief comes in the form of the radio DJ, who provides a smooth voice to the chaos within the movie, as well as some social commentary on the environment. Logic flies out the window with regularity for no reason on Zombi 3, so those who expect even the slightest hint of such an idea should stay far away from this movie.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

The Next 40 Days...Or Thereabouts

So Winter is about to hit the bricks for nine months, and I can say without fear of retribution from the warm-minded that this was quite possibly, the best Winter that I've ever experienced. From Christmas Eve up to just recently, there had been some snow on the ground. I know most people hate it, but Winter is my favorite season. There was also the Winter Olympic Games, complete with some of the best hockey this year.

So, where does that leave Spring? Well, there is the NCAA tournament, which means agonizing about brackets and having some team screw up the entire thing, the NHL and NBA playoffs are just around the corner, and hopefully, the Canucks and Avs can put on good showings. Also, I hope that the Trailblazers can avoid any more injuries as they limp towards the stretch. Baseball season is near, too, which means the "Pucks" part of the blog will soon turn over to "Rocks," as well as some new complaining. There is also the semi-annual trip to Portland, OR, which may be the last trip there before I move out of Kansas City, with Portland being the likely destination. Yes, sir, these will be a fascinating 40 days or so with a possible bang to the beginning of Summer. Stay tuned.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Hell of the Living Dead

Two years after the release of Dawn of the Dead, which was known in Europe as Zombi, the beginning of what is certainly a spate of imitation zombie movies in that ilk took place. Italian director Bruno Mattei decided to do his version of a zombie movie in the form of Hell of the Living Dead, which itself has had different names, including Night of the Zombies and Virus. By any name, this is quite possibly the unintentionally worst zombie movie of all time.

The movie begins at a power plant in Papua New Guinea where an experiment goes wrong and a mysterious gas is released that turns people into zombies. In the next scene, some eco terrorists threaten to shoot hostages if the experiment is not stopped, only to be shot down by leftover soldiers from the Dawn of the Dead movie. The next scene cuts to a couple with a child and a reporter and cameraman in a deserted camp. The reporter and cameraman head to the lake while the child, who turns into a zombie a few minutes later, eats his father while the mother gets attacked by a zombie while searching for help for the child. The surviving reporter and cameraman meet with the leftover soldiers after encountering their own zombies by the lake. If all of what I just said makes your head spin, just imagine how this all plays out on film. The only other "highlights" of the film are the reporter stripping from the waist up and throwing on paint to fit in with the natives, stock footage from National Geographic being thrown in to make it look like the movie really is in Papua New Guinea, and the repeated idiocy of the soldiers not aiming for the zombies' heads despite the fact that the advice gets repeated throughout the movie. Besides all of the complete idiocy of the characters in the movie, there is the matter of the soundtrack, which is in fact, the Dawn of the Dead soundtrack. Ah, lazy movie making at its finest.

Monday, March 8, 2010

The Toxic Avenger

Around 1984, the Troma Corporation was just a fledging film company. That year, they stumbled upon what is undoubtedly their biggest success to date in The Toxic Avenger. Nowadays, it is hard to imagine the Troma Corporation without what is the face of the movie company.

While there are in fact four movies that make up the Toxic Avenger series, it is often difficult to top the first movie. The first Toxic Avenger movie begins in the town of Tromaville, New Jersey, where the town's health club janitor Melvin is often the target of abuse from the people who regularly work out there, with Bozo, Slug, Wanda, and Julie being the primary tormentors. One day, the four play a joke on Melvin that causes him to eventually fall out of a window and into a vat of chemicals. Instead of killing him, the chemicals somehow give the 98 pound Melvin some much needed bulk and a horribly disfigured look. One of his first heroic acts since the transformation is saving the blind girl at a restaurant from some robbers, and it is there that the comedy ensues. Along the way, Toxie (as the former Melvin is now known) takes revenge on his tormentors, shaving one of the women bald, making another woman sit on hot coals, and killing their boyfriends. Toxie also cleans up the town of the other thugs and eventually, the corrupt mayor himself. The death scenes are hilarious, with one of the robbers in the restaurant being stuffed into an oven, while in another sequence, an old lady being given the dry cleaning treatment. The romance between Toxie and Sara (the blind girl) is also hilarious, especially when it is revealed that Sara keeps a stockpile of walking sticks that blind people carry when they are trying to not run into things. Yes, there is a fair share of gore, too, as the mayor's death is particularly gruesome.

The Toxic Avenger is the ideal movie for people who seek some humor and some gore. Neither is really in abundance, but there is the right amount of both to satisfy people who like one element over another.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

The Flying V

It's a fairly well known fact that the Vancouver Canucks have had more makeovers than any other team in the NHL. The first makeover in the late 1970's involved the change from the colors of blue and green to the colors of black, orange, and yellow. Obviously, the new color scheme would not mesh with the logo they had at the time, so it would have to be a complete makeover, for sure. The result is the infamous "Flying V" jerseys. For much of the early 1980's, that was the jersey of the Vancouver Canucks, and while the road black versions of those jerseys were acceptable, at best, it was the yellow home versions that would cause blindness to even the most sharp sighted person. You have to give the people responsible for the design some credit for having the balls to come up with something different and even going so far as to have a back story behind the jersey design. Luckily, no one else has tried this design, although there have been quite a few jerseys that have clearly looked worse than what Vancouver donned in the early 1980's.

Friday, March 5, 2010


From the people who came out with releases such as Cannibal: The Musical and The Toxic Avenger comes a rather silly movie with an absolutely absurd premise. Imagine a lawnmower that mysteriously gains a mind of its own and decides to cut down people who think having sex on the golf course at night is a good idea. Well, leave it to the folks at Troma to put that idea into practice.

Stop and read the opening paragraph again for a minute. That is about all that needs to be said about the plot for Blades. It couldn't be any simpler than that, so why would I want to be talking about this movie then? Like most of the movies talked about here, I had this one force fed to me, and being that I have a fairly high tolerance for blatantly dumb movies, I figured that it wouldn't be too bad. Well, what was a bad idea on paper was actually bad in practice, although it wasn't quite as bad as I thought it would be, and that is where the disappointment sets in for me. I was hoping that it would be completely over the top and in some ways, it is (e.g. lawnmower is on fire and jumps into the lake to put itself out, only to be running again afterwards). The murder scenes could have easily been much better, but given that it's hard to do so for a lawnmower when it is severely limited, I can understand. Really though, all logic should be thrown out the window with Blades because when an idea is stupid on paper, you shouldn't expect anything remotely intellectual to begin.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

The Burger King jersey

Ever wonder what it would happen if Burger King started marketing hockey jerseys? Well, it would probably look a lot like what you see above. Back when the concept of third jerseys was just getting started, five teams decided to go with such jerseys in 1996. One of those teams was the Los Angeles Kings, who were in the midst of another losing season and at the time they were introduced, about to trade Wayne Gretzky to the St. Louis Blues. As for the jersey in question, the incredibly wacky design didn't do much for the team's image, let alone their record. The logo that adorns the jersey looks eerily similar to the Burger King mascot, which is not such a good thing. In fact, I believe this jersey was the inspiration behind the Burger King mascot. The fading grays that swooped from one corner to another of the jersey didn't help matter, nor did the lettering that would have felt more at home in a Mardi Gras parade. Simply put, a bizarre idea for a team that was about to lose its superstar. Rumors that this jersey made Gretzky ask for a trade are unsubstantiated.

Zombie Doom

Do you want to see blatant false advertising at its best (or worst)? Well, look no further than the movie Zombie Doom. This German "horror" film is 75 minutes long, yet only has about five minutes worth of zombies. So, why the name? Well, if I was to market this movie to the younger set, I would not want to have the parents see that movie was called Violent Shit III, which was in fact, the original name of this movie, though one has to wonder why anyone in their right mind would want to market it to the youth in the first place.

The basic plot of the movie is that three people get stranded on an island that houses a mysterious cult of people that wear masks that they get from what looks like a Radio Flyer wagon. The leader of the group is a guy that calls himself the Meister, who looks for all the world like a poor Hulk Hogan impersonator. Also in this group is Dr. Senius, complete with the Hitler 'stache and the Meister's father. The three castaways find themselves at the mercy of this horde and while two survive, the other gets killed before what the horde calls the "Pig Hunt." It is there that the two remaining survivors are joined by the horde's castoff Leon, and last time I checked, I don't know any Asian people named Leon. The trio does fairly well for themselves for a few minutes before the castaways run as the zombies begin to surface. Meanwhile, Leon is joined by a couple of his friends that were also cast off from the horde. It should be mentioned that the two remaining people from the beginning of this film get killed off about halfway through the film. Somehow, there is a longer sequence with ninjas (!) than there are zombies, and at the end of the movie, the only people left standing didn't even join in until halfway through the movie.

So, obvious logical errors aside, there are absolute signs that Zombie Doom was indeed, made on a small budget. When the people get decapitated, it is blatantly obvious that the mannequins of the victims are the ones taking the fall. The English dubbing is quite bad, ranging from the inability to sync sound effects with the proper actions to the "one sound effect at a time" idea to memorable lines that have people saying that others make them want to puke. There is lots of gore, lots of explosions (from Nerf guns posing as rocket launchers), and a bunch of stuff that would have been more at home on a low budget martial arts flick. If you're looking for gore and lots of it, Zombie Doom is the movie for you. If you're looking for any semblance of logic, then stay far, far away from this movie.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010


While Italian director Lucio Fulci has had some great moments such as Zombi 2 and The Beyond, he had directed his share of horrible movies, as well. In fact, he left one of those movies while it was still in production mode (Zombie 3). His later years were especially unkind, and nowhere was that more evident than in one of his last directorial features in Demonia. I had bought the movie for about three bucks, so I thought of it to be a low risk deal. Boy, what that a mistake, even at three bucks.

The main story of the movie begins with some nuns with a mysterious mark on their forehead getting crucified some time ago. Fast forward to modern times in Toronto, where a teacher and his student are in the middle of a conference with other members of their archaeological team. That group travels to Sicily, where they accidentally release the ghosts of the nuns who were executed years earlier. Now, the ghosts set out on a killing spree, with one person getting killed in the meat freezer while his tongue is spiked to a chopping block while another ends up falling to his death, presumably pushed by one of the ghosts. The entire story line of the movie is one big mess, which often leaves the viewer clueless as to what the hell is going on in the movie. Despite some pretty decent murder scenes, the gore is somewhat hokey and hardly makes up for the total lack of...well, just about everything.

NHL Trade Deadline

I want to talk about the trade deadline in the National Hockey League that is now only a few hours away. However, it seems that all of the major fireworks surrounding this have already gone off. For starters, let's look at the supposed fire sale that the Calgary Flames had back in late January/early February. First, they trade defenseman Dion Phaneuf to the Toronto Maple Leafs (along with a couple of other players) and in return, get what can be best described as (three) role players and a prospect. Granted, Phaneuf was underachieving the last two years and essentially forced his way out of Calgary with his play, but there is always the risk that he could rediscover his game in Toronto or anywhere else he may end up (Remember Patrick Roy back in 1996?). A few days later, they trade yet another underachiever in center Olli Jokinen along with pesky winger Brandon Prust to the New York Rangers for wingers Ales Kotalik and Christopher Higgins, guys who also underachieved. I think Jokinen was on the downside of his career, which may sound unfair given that he's still relatively young enough to produce good numbers, but the real loss for the Flames was Prust, who was an energy guy that could drop the gloves when needed.

The real fireworks, though, happened in Atlanta, where it was widely talked about what would happen to superstar forward Ilya Kovalchuk. On February 6, he ended up getting traded to the New Jersey Devils along with another player in exchange for a defenseman and a couple of prospects (read: a song and a dance). I talked about this trade earlier, so I won't go into details, other than to say that even if Kovalchuk is nothing more than a rental to the Devils, they didn't lose much in the deal.

So, as the deadline approaches, it is now just a matter of teams who are in line for playoff spots to really just tweak their rosters and acquire the potential missing pieces for the run to the Stanley Cup.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Dallas Stars' Mooterus jersey

I have wanted to write about the infamous Dallas Stars' third jersey since I began this blog, but have put it off for various reasons, whether it was something else got my attention or I really dreaded writing this piece. However, here I am writing about it, so I guess there is no turning back now. Originally introduced in 2003, the logo used for the jersey was supposed to be a bull with the constellation inside of it. However, fans thought of it differently, as it earned the nickname "Mooterus," so called because it resembled the female reproductive system. To be fair to the folks who came up with the idea for the logo, this wasn't intentional. However, the inexplicable inclusion of the color red to the design made this more of a mess, which gets further muddied by the supposed comet-like design on the bull's left horn. So, to say that this jersey didn't last more than a year would be correct, but to say that this was a total disaster would be an understatement to the likes that only the Islanders' fisherman jerseys of the mid-90's and many of the third jerseys of 1996 can match.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Canadiens 100th Year Anniversary Jersey: 1912

Do not adjust your screen: this is really one of the jerseys that the Montreal Canadiens wore as part of the 100 year anniversary last year. This replica of the 1912 jerseys that the Canadiens wore is an assault on the eyes. Obviously, the team was paying homage to their lineage, and if this was still a black and white world, this jersey wouldn't be as blinding. Thankfully, the 100 year anniversary only comes once in a lifetime, and this jersey doesn't show up for any more than a year tops.

Zombie Bloodbath 3

I can remember seeing Zombie Bloodbath 3 on something that used to be the video format of choice called VHS (maybe you have heard of it). As you may remember, during my college days, I used to borrow some horror movies from a friend of mine to watch for a few days. This was one of those movies that I wish that I hadn't watched. Terrible in just about every way imaginable, yet just as much of a train wreck that I can't simply turn away.

Zombie Bloodbath 3 was part of a trilogy of films directed by Kansas City based director Todd Sheets. Locals will know him as the guy who owned a few haunted houses back in the day, which explains some of the settings for the movie. What is not explained is the incredibly shoddy "space" sequences, or the fact that the "high school" looks a lot like an elementary school, or the fact that zombies can talk and somehow play the piano, or just the incredibly lazy editing that sees the ending mirror the beginning. Saying all of that, there are some pretty good gory scenes for what it's worth, and the dialogue, though not intellectual, does provide some laughs every now and then. There is even a bloopers segment at the end of the movie, which at the very least, shows that Zombie Bloodath 3 doesn't take itself seriously.