Friday, May 28, 2010

Feast Time!

The year is 1980 and the zombie movie bug has spread in earnest. Dawn of the Dead in 1977 and Lucio Fulci's Zombi 2 in 1980 are the biggest names out there at this point in time. It is around this time that the cannibal movie subgenre begins to take shape. Okay, that's a lie, but considering that two movies with the word cannibal came out that year, there is something to it. Everyone seems to know about Cannibal Holocaust, widely deemed one of the most controversial movies of all time. However, there was a lesser known cannibal movie released that same year called Cannibal Apocalypse, which is somewhat odd, since the movie features John Saxon (the Nightmare on Elm Street movies, which I think are overrated) and Tony King (from Shaft).

Cannibal Apocalypse centers around the premise of cannibalism being a disease. It begins in Vietnam, where one of the three soldiers gets the "disease" and bites the squadron leader. Fast forward to present day Atlanta and the leader is at home with his wife when he gets a call from the guy who bit him. He turns down the invitation for a drink, and the guy on the loose from the institution sneaks in a late night "snack" at the movie theater. He gets chased into a store and barricades himself inside with a shotgun. Soon, the trio is reunited and goes on an eating rampage with a doctor's assistant.

I have to say that I was disappointed with the movie, as there wasn't enough cannibalism in the movie. In fact, Cannibal Apocalypse plays more like a bizzaro world Dawn of the Dead, where the eaters are the hunted and the majority are a bunch of idiots. The actual premise and plot are pretty good, but as someone who likes excessive violence, I was disappointed by it.

Thursday, May 27, 2010


As you probably have figured, if you haven't been living under a rock for the past month or so, the NHL playoffs are about to hit the high point. The Stanley Cup Finals begin Saturday between the Philadelphia Flyers and the Chicago Blackhawks. In short, this is the matchup of the preseason favorite Flyers that had to literally wait until the final day of the regular season to find out if they would make the playoffs and the Western Conference favorite Blackhawks, who have held up their end of the bargain despite some shaky goaltending. Seemingly, both teams have found their go to guys, with the Flyers having Simon Gagne and Michael Leighton and the Blackhawks having Patrick Kane, Jonathan Toews, and Antti Niemi. In the end, I think the Blackhawks will take it in seven. Why? They have the one guy that can put them over the top: Dustin Byfuglien.

To Hell and Back

I haven't done a book review in a while, and since I finished reading one yesterday (in just a hair over a week, which is a record for me), the time has come for one. The book in question is what you see to the left, and is an autobiography about a former hockey player that was practically on top of the world, yet never felt happy. Playing With Fire is the life story of Theoren Fleury (who co-wrote the book with Kirstie McLellan Day), the former Calgary Flame who also played with Colorado, New York Rangers, and Chicago during his career. However, the hockey career is only a small aspect of the book, as he talks about his vices during that time, as well as the sexual abuse that he endured as a child by one of his coaches and the near ending of a life that was out of control.

The first chapters of Playing With Fire detail Fleury's childhood and a father who was an alcoholic and a mother who had been hopped up on medication. It was through hockey that he found his calling, but also within that was another chapter in the nightmare, as he also talks about his relationship with coach Graham James and the sexual abuse that followed. Once he reached the NHL, it was there that the drinking started in earnest because as he notes, he had been drinking before then to forget the Graham James saga. As all things seem to do, one thing leads to another, and with the drinking comes the promiscuity, as he had been married twice before the marriage to his current wife, and seeing other women while this was going on, sometimes at strip joints. Later in his career, he found out about cocaine, and when alcohol wasn't available, he turned to that. All of this would eventually catch up with him when he went to the New York Rangers in 1999, and as money and the bright lights of the city often do, they change a small town kid dramatically. Fleury ran into trouble with the NHLPA drug testing system, and when the drugs and alcohol were unavailable, he turned to gambling, often under an alias. Things would get worse for him when he signed with Chicago prior to the 2002-2003 season, when he was actually suspended for the first 25 games of that season for violating the drug policy. It was during that season that he was involved in an altercation with a bouncer at a strip joint, and at some point during the season, he just walked out on the sport altogether. A couple of years later, Fleury's life hit the lowest point possible when he bought a gun and a bullet from a pawn shop in New Mexico and nearly took his own life. It was from that point that things slowly, but surely, turned around for him.

The autobiography is an honest and personal assessment from Fleury himself and holds nothing back. From the first page of the book to the very end, I found this to be one of the best reads that doesn't sugarcoat the issues that he went through. From a rough childhood to the adult years, he covers everything and even offers some words for those who went through some of the same things that he experienced. Playing With Fire is a must read for Theo Fleury fans, people who are looking for encouragement in trying to meet their demons head on, and for hockey fans in general.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Gangsters, Zombies, and Ridiculously Big Guns. Oh, My!

For today's movie adventure, I will be taking a trip to Japan. No, I'm not going there physically, although that would make for an interesting chapter in the Tito Martel Saga. Rather, today is about the movie Versus.

Here's all you need to know about Versus: don't bother with remembering names of characters, as they don't have any, aside from the main character, who is given an identifying code similar to a prisoner (which he was in the beginning of the movie), don't try mushrooms while watching this movie (not that I recommend it), and there are lots of sword fights and ridiculously large guns. The plot? It's your basic good vs. evil plot, except that one of the characters has trouble remembering what side he is on, and a mysterious girl has to help him remember. Meanwhile, the other half of this equation is seemingly invincible, and "recruits" the dead to do some of his bidding.

The plot is kind of paper thin, and the dubbing into English sounds rather unconvincing, as both main characters could be in the path of a tornado and both sound as though nothing is happening. The fights put the entire House of Flying Daggers and Mortal Kombat movies to shame, and the zombie action isn't huge, but the blood factor is enough to satisfy horror fans. The Japanese won't be challenging the Italian horror community anytime soon, but with movies like Versus, Japan just might be worth checking out for horror movies, after all.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Breaking Shakespeare

Take a very good look at the picture to your left. Now, tell me what you're thinking as you see what amounts to a bastardized take on a classic William Shakespeare play. Yes folks, the fine folks at Troma have their sexed up version of Romeo and Juilet titled, appropriately, Tromeo and Juliet.

If you have read the Shakespeare play at all, and don't lie, I'm sure your high school English teacher made you read it at some point, then you know the basic plot of Tromeo and Juliet. So I won't waste any time here. What I will regale you with is that the movie is narrated by Lemmy (You've probably heard of him), and it becomes obvious that Lemmy is reading from the cue cards. The conflict between the Ques (Troma shortened it from the Montaques) and Capulets centers around one group stealing a movie production from the other (Take a good guess what kind of movie production it is and you win absolutely nothing). The story here follows the Shakespeare version, except that we are intorduced to numerous freaky people and strange things that Troma is known for (the popcorn scene being the best example here).

As someone who isn't greatly into either Shakespeare or Troma, as both require patience and some discipline, I found this to be quite an interesting take on the classic play. The younger set should stay away from this though, as like all Troma films, there is a fair share of nudity and violence.

Monday, May 24, 2010

I Can't Believe It's Not Horror

Today's movie isn't really a horror film by any means, but there is enough violence and blood for me to constitute a write-up for this movie. As a matter of fact, this is one of the most ridiculous movies that I will have ever seen, which is a good thing. Yes, that movie is Riki-Oh: The Story of Ricky.

People who have seen The Daily Show before Jon Stewart became host of the program will remember a scene that is shown on the program. You know the one, the head crushing scene where some poor sap gets his head crushed by what can be the strongest clap ever. Back to the matter at hand, the story is about Ricky, a man with some serious powers that gets thrown into a prison run by corporate folks. Naturally, the place is corrupt and the only means of survival is to kill or be killed. Sounds simple, really, as the rest of the movie practically writes itself. Blood, violence, and martial arts action: that's about all you really need to know about the movie, as the plot only really is there to have a movie in place.

Mindless violence combined with some incredibly ridiculous characters (The Big Four, which includes one guy that pulls out his guts and still fights, and the Warden himself, who turns into some weird creature) and even more ridiculous ways to kill people. If you can push logic off of a cliff for this movie, then this is a perfect movie for the violence starved.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Hockey thoughts

In an effort to fulfill today's obligations, I will write about something that came up yesterday. No movie today, as I have yet to catch up on a lot of music reviews. Today is a time to talk hockey, and as many who have read some of my musings since I started this blog know, I am a hockey fan. There is more to that, though. For instance, the team that I grew up rooting for as a child was the Edmonton Oilers, who at the time that I gained my first exposure to the sport, were in the post-Wayne Gretzky era. But it isn't about me as much as it is about those who have followed their dreams of being a professional hockey player, whether it is in the NHL, the KHL (Russian League), the Swedish league, or any other European league. However, those dreams have to start somewhere, or at least, have a place to develop.

I live in Kansas City, which would explain a couple of articles about how hockey in Kansas City hasn't thrived. For all of the failures that have happened in Kansas City, and this goes for sports in general, not just hockey, there have been some successes, however long ago they are now. Most people know about the Royals baseball team winning it all in 1985 and the Chiefs winning it all in 1970, and I am sure many people who follow baseball know about the Monarchs in the old Negro Leagues and their run of success. What most people don't know is that hockey did have a fairly lengthy life span in Kansas City in the 1990's.

The longest tenured hockey team that existed in Kansas City was the Blades, who played in the International Hockey league from 1990 to 2002, when the league folded and the team was not retained when the owners at the time decided to move the Grand Rapids Griffins to the AHL. In the time that the team existed, they were the primary farm team for the San Jose Sharks for about five years and were the farm team of the Vancouver Canucks in their final year of existence.

In contrast, let's look at a team that despite never having a professional hockey team, has seen hockey thrive for many years. I'm sure you're asking what that first picture has to do with hockey. That would be the mascot for the Portland Winterhawks of the Western Hockey League. And yes, that logo on the mascot's jersey does look a lot like the Chicago Blackhawks' logo. Some history: the team has been in existence since 1976, when the team moved from Edmonton to Portland and the team switched its name from the Edmonton Oil Kings to the Portland Winter Hawks. Since then, the team name was modified to be one word. While the team is not as well known as say, the Calgary Hitmen or the Moose Jaw Warriors, the Winterhawks have had their fair share of players that would become NHL stars. Among the most notable players that have seen considerable success include Mike Vernon, Glen Wesley, Marian Hossa, and Mark Messier.

The common thread that both the Blades in the early 1990's and the Winterhawks have is that when you go to a game for either team, years from now, someone that hits the ice for that team will likely be in the NHL and who knows, maybe that player becomes the next Sidney Crosby.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Zombies and Hippies

Here's a little history lesson for you: Every knows about the multitude of Dawn of the Dead ripoffs that occurred since the release of the original, including that 2004 remake. What you may not know is that the first George A. Romero offering Night of the Living Dead spawned its own copycats. The most notable of these (and by notable, I mean the only one people really know about) is from a Spanish director named Jorge Grau. The movie in question bore the title of Let Sleeping Corpses Lie, and much like Night of the Living Dead, it had the same socio-political message of not screwing with the environment or bad things will happen.

The movie begins with George closing shop for Holiday, which is the equivalent of a vacation in Europe, and meeting Edna at a gas station after she crushes his motorcycle while trying to park the car to get some gas. He hitches a ride with her as she is on her way to see relatives. However, the living dead begin to surface and soon, the two are fingered for murders that the recently zombified folks committed, namely eating the living. The couple try to clear their name while fighting off the zombies. That's the basic plot in a nutshell.

As for the movie itself, it is very strong on its own, and considering that it copies NOTLD, the movie actually is quite underrated. In addition to the environmental message being sent through the movie, it also touches on the conservative/hippie clash, as George and Edna represent the hippies and the cop that is chasing them represents the tight-butted conservative. There isn't a great deal of violence, but the one that stands out is when a receptionist gets cornered by a trio of zombies and gets her boob ripped off. Overall, this is one of the more under-appreciated movies to have come out of the 70's. A ripoff done right, Let Sleeping Corpses Lie is one of those must see movies if you consider yourself a zombie movie fan.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

The Curse of Shakespeare

Ever wonder why there haven't been many stage productions of William Shakespeare's Macbeth? Here is one such theory on why this is:

In 1604 Will Shakespeare in his zeal to please King James I, an authority on demonology, cast caution and imagination aside and for the opening scene of Macbeth's Act IV he reproduced a 17th century black-magic ritual, a sort of how-to to budding witches. Without changing an ingredient, Old Will provided his audience with step-by-step instructions in the furtive art of spell casting:

    "Round around the cauldron go;
    In the poison'd entrails throw.
    Toad, that under cold stone
    Days and nights has thirty-one
    Swelter'd venum sleeping got.
    Boil thou first i' the charmed pot"
    ...And so on.

The ritual's practitioners were not amused by this detailed public exposure of their witchcraft, and it is said that as punishment they cast an everlasting spell on the play, turning it into the most ill-starred of all theatrical productions. It is so unlucky that by comparison to Macbeth's nearly 400-year history of unmitigated disaster, Murphy's Law appears exceedingly optimistic.

So, what does that have to do with today's piece? This piece of information was used in making a Dario Argento movie called Opera. In the movie, while it isn't the central part of the movie, it does get touched upon for the first part of the movie. The movie begins with a rehearsal of the Macbeth play with a temperamental star getting fed up with having to share the stage with ravens. As she leaves the building, she gets run over by a car. This leads the director of the play to summon her young understudy Betty to take the role. We cut to a scene where Betty is listening to a part of the opera when she gets a mysterious phone call. It is soon that she gets worried about bad things happening surrounding Macbeth. Opening night rolls around, and the play goes off without a hitch, except that the voice becomes Betty's stalker and he rams an attendant's neck repeatedly into a coat hanger (How's that for meeting your demise?). In the midst of that, a light gets knocked off of a balcony and causes a brief interruption. The play finishes, and things are going well for Betty. Later that evening, this is where things start to go wrong, as the stalker ties up Betty and puts needles under her eyes, making her watch him murder her lover. Said stalker is wearing a brown raincoat and a hood, so no one gets to really see who it is. The same thing happens later in the movie, only this time, it is in the sewing room and the victim is the wardrobe designer. The most famous death in the movie without a question is the bullet that navigates through the door's peephole and through Betty's assistant's head.

As a whole, Opera is typical Argento, in that he creates some fairly elaborate scenes and the victims often go out in spectacular style. The movie tends to drag a bit, or at least feels that way, and the ending is tacky and unnecessary. Of all the movies that Argento released in the 1975-1987 period, this would be in the middle of the pack.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

A Legacy of Metal

Today is yet another day of mourning. As I was getting ready to sit down and watch some hockey playoffs, I decided to check on these reports of Ronnie James Dio's death. The worst fears were founded when I read the following on the official RJD website:

"Today my heart is broken, Ronnie passed away at 7:45am 16th May. Many, many friends and family were able to say their private good-byes before he peacefully passed away. Ronnie knew how much he was loved by all. We so appreciate the love and support that you have all given us. Please give us a few days of privacy to deal with this terrible loss. Please know he loved you all and his music will live on forever." Love, Wendy

And just like that, there is yet another eulogy that has to be written. However, there just simply isn't any words that can do justice to a man who leaves behind a legacy of metal, from Rainbow to the band bearing his namesake to being a vocalist in Black Sabbath (post-Ozzy) and most recently, fronting Heaven and Hell, which was Black Sabbath plus RJD on vocals. Most people couldn't even begin to dream about accomplishing what Dio did in his sixty-seven years on this planet, and when you throw in the fact that he was willing to poke fun at himself, as he made an appearance in the Tenacious D movie "Tenacious D and the Pick of Destiny," the accomplishments are even more amazing.

As we mourn the loss of a true metal legend, the following words should be taken to heart for all: Long live Rock N' Roll!

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Conference Finals time!

Most of my predictions went bust, and the one pick that did get right had to come all the way back from a 3-0 series deficit just so I could avoid the big doughnut. The Western Conference will pit the two highest seeded teams while the Eastern Conference will see the two lowest ranked teams face one another. So, here are the predictions, and let's hope for better luck this time around.


Montreal Canadiens vs. Philadelphia Flyers (3-4)


Chicago Blackhawks vs. San Jose Sharks (4-2)

Friday, May 14, 2010

Eulogy for the 2010 Kansas City Royals

I know that it's only May, and I haven't been paying much attention to the 2010 baseball season, since the NHL playoffs are still going to much delight, even though my Canucks were eliminated a few days ago. Yesterday, though, there was a break in the NHL playoffs, as there was no game scheduled. So, baseball had a day to take some spotlight, and surprise, the Kansas City Royals make news not for losing, as that's been rather common lately, but for firing manager Trey Hillman. Even before the turn of events yesterday, the writing was on the wall, for both Hillman and the Royals. This is not about Hillman, however, instead, this is about yet another lost season for the Royals.

Where to begin? The offense hasn't been great, especially when ace pitcher Zack Grienke is on the mound. Grienke certainly deserves better than just one win by this point in the season. Errors in the field such as the failure to notice that a runner didn't tag up after a catch and bullpen troubles had a lot to do with this being yet another lost season. Free agent signings that didn't pan out also have something to do with it, as does the failure of developing talent on the minor leagues on a consistent basis, although the latter is being rectified a good deal.

This kind of eulogy is getting old, and given that the Chiefs aren't likely going to be competitive this coming season and the Wizards are pretty much persona non grata, it looks like yet another long year for the Kansas City sports fan. Thank fuck for the NHL playoffs and an intriguing underdog story, no matter who comes out of the Eastern Conference.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

History repeating itself?

With the improbable run that this year's Montreal Canadiens are having, knocking off the heavily favored Washington Capitals and the defending Stanley Cup champion Pittsburgh Penguins in back-to-back series, it reminds me of the 2006 playoff run by another 8th seed in the Edmonton Oilers. The comparisons are there, aside from the obvious both teams were 8th seeds. For one, the Oilers knocked off the Presidents' Trophy winning Detroit Red Wings in six the year they made their run. This year: Montreal knocked off the Presidents' Trophy winning Capitals in seven. There's more:

*The Oilers rode the hot goaltending of Dwayne Rolosson through the playoffs. The Canadiens are riding the hot goaltending of Jaroslav Halak this year.

*Despite the offseason acquisitions of players such as Chris Pronger and Mike Peca, the Oilers largely underachieved in the regular season. The Canadiens underachieved, despite lower expectations. Keep in mind that the Canadiens play in Montreal, where a "Stanley Cup or Bust" mentality always exists.

*Both teams are from Canada, and there are some fans that would love nothing more than a Canadian team winning it all just to stick it to commissioner Gary Bettman.

Even though the Canadiens are only halfway to the championship, they've already proven that anything can happen with some great goaltending, a goal scorer stepping up when it counts the most (Mike Cammalleri), and a little luck. Maybe those ghosts of the old Montreal Forum have finally settled into the new Bell Centre after all.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010


I tried putting this one off, but can no longer do so. In light of the Mother's Day piece that I did on the Three Mothers, and because I need something to do to take my mind off of my Canucks blowing yet another chance at a championship, today will be about the movie that started my taste in horror movies. Dario Argento's Suspiria is either the most brilliant movie ever or the most overrated movie ever: it all depends on who you talk to about this movie.

The plot of Suspiria is based on an experience that Daria Nicolodi's grandmother had about going to a school that secretly housed a coven. Nicolodi, as you may recall, was Argento's girlfriend at the time, and obviously had a hand in the screenplay. As for the movie, the story begins with Suzy Bannyon travelling to Germany to attend a ballet school there. Before she could be let in, she witnesses a woman bolting from the school in terror. Soon, that woman and a roommate both meet their demise at the hands of a mysterious force in what is undeniably one of the best death scenes ever. The next morning, Bannyon eventually enters the school and things are normal, for a little while. Soon, things begin to get suspicious, as Suzy meets Sarah, who suspects that things aren't what they seem with the school. Except for the death scenes and the last ten minutes or so of this movie, the movie kind of drags a bit. The set pieces for the movie are extraordinarily eye-catching, which makes up for the slow pace of the movie to a degree. Even the paper thin plot, despite the inspiration, doesn't hurt the movie much. This is one of those movies that should never be remade, for scenes such as the first death scene, as well as the use of colors in the set pieces, can never be recaptured without much bastardization.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Frank Frazetta 1928-2010

I realize that I wrote about something earlier today, but this just simply cannot be ignored, so consider this an emergency write up. It's really another eulogy, but that's not the point.

Confirmed a few hours ago, legendary artist Frank Frazetta died today at the age of 82. Odds are that if you are familiar with some of his works, even if you didn't know that he did something that you have seen. From album covers, notably with Molly Hatchet, to movie posters, there wasn't much of a chance that you didn't by chance stumble upon a Frank frazetta work. Rather than keep mumbling on about the guy, the picture you see should say everything that you ever wanted to know about the guy: immensely talented artist.

Colorado Rockies hockey

Long before the Colorado Rockies became a baseball team, there was a hockey team with that name. Unlike the baseball team however, the original incarnation didn't fare so well and were eventually moved to New Jersey and became the Devils. Some back story on this team, the Rockies came to be in 1976, when the team relocated from Kansas City and were the Rockies until 1982. They only made the playoffs once, after the 1977-78 season, when they were ousted in the first round. That year, the team amassed their highest point total with 59, but had their highest win total in 1980-81 with 22. The franchise is best known for having a coach by the name of Don Cherry during its existence, and his tenure was summed up best by his clahses with goaltender Hardy Astrom. Ultimately, unstable ownership forced the team to move from Denver, and the franchise is all but forgotten due to the rise of the baseball team that has the Rockies name now and the Colorado Avalanche hockey team that has had success in the past.

As for the Rockies' jerseys, they kept the color scheme that the Scouts had during their two year run. Unlike the Scouts' jerseys, the Rockies' jerseys weren't a giant mess of the primary colors. The logo had its take on the Colorado flag, and the overall jersey design was rather simple. This was a marked improvement over the Scouts jersey that was deemed one of the ugliest jerseys in a poll a few years back.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

The Three Mothers

In honor of Mother's Day, today will be a look at the Three Mothers, which inspired Italian film director Dario Argento in making a movie version of the Three Mothers. Although this is where I would normally talk about the movies, I will not do so here, as each movie should be covered individually, so as to give some fairly detailed information about each film. Instead, I will be giving some information about each of the three mothers that inspired the movies. So, without going on a further tangent, here goes:

Mater Suspiriorum is also known as the Mother of Sighs, and was part of the inspiration behind Suspiria. This mother was considered the oldest and wisest of the three and held residence in Germany. Suspiria didn't cover this one too much because at the time of the movie being made, Argento didn't have an idea that it would eventually turn into a trilogy, but the success of the movie eventually spawned two movies that covered the other Mothers.

Mater Tenebrarum is also known as the Mother of Shadows, and was covered in Inferno. This mother was the youngest and the most ill-tempered of the three and resided in New York. It was in Inferno that the Three Mothers trilogy began to take root, and it was also in that movie that a glimpse of Mater Lachrymarum hinted at a third movie.

Mater Lachrymarum is known as the Mother of Tears. She was the most beautiful and most powerful of the three and was covered in La Terza Madre. In many ways, the movie attempted to wrap up the loose ends by tying this with Suspiria. She takes residence in Rome.

For further information about the Three Mothers, here's a piece to read:
Levana and Our Ladies of Sorrow by Thomas De Quincey

Friday, May 7, 2010

They're Coming to Get You, Barbra!

No discussion of horror films, and zombie movies in general, is complete without talking about the original Night of the Living Dead. In many respects, it was the beginning of the zombie movie subgenre, but it was also the film that catapulted a young director named George A. Romero into the spotlight. While he is best known for the 1978 film Dawn of the Dead, in which he established some general rules for dealing with zombies, it is the 1968 debut that brought to mind a "what if" situation in which the dead suddenly come back to life.

The movie begins with a brother and sister driving out to the countryside to lay a wreath on their mother's grave. Before I continue, I'd like to make a joke here, but this sounds like the drive that I would have to make if I was to visit the grave of my grandmother on my mom's side of the family, so I won't do it. Back to the movie, before the siblings can get back to the car to go home, a man with some serious skin and knee problems comes ambling along and gets his hands on Barbra. The brother tries to to save her, only to meet his fate after getting his head rammed against a rock. This leads to Barbra trying to find shelter in an abandoned house. Soon, she is joined by Ben, who is definitely taking this zombie invasion seriously, as he not only tries to board up the house, but also sets fires to keep zombies away. At the time of this movie, there wasn't a set way of dealing with zombies, so fire was the best way to keep them at bay. That duo is joined by a mother and father, and a couple of teens/young adults. Let's just say that they don't make it to the end of the story. I'm not telling you how that happens, so you'll just have to see it for yourself.

George A. Romero made his name with Dawn of the Dead, but it was Night of the Living Dead that ended up being the beginning of all things zombie related. With both films, he brought some subtle, yet clever social commentary to the horror genre and at the same time, inspired others to make such films, however horrible most of those are.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Ernie Harwell 1918-2010

It isn't very often that I choose to make some kind of eulogy for people, but since I have had some practice as recently as the Peter Steele tribute a few weeks ago, I figure that I have enough of an idea on how to do this kind of thing. Even then, it's not something that I would like to put into practice very often, for there just simply aren't enough words to do justice for the subject.

This is particularly true for today because the eulogy is for the man who was not only the voice of the Detroit Tigers, but also the voice of the state of Michigan. Longtime Detroit Tigers baseball announcer Ernie Harwell passed away last night at the age of 92. And just like the way he was accepted by the Tigers fans for his calm demeanor and friendly attitude, he accepted death with dignity, even as he found that the cancer he had was inoperable back in September 2009. Tigers fans, and baseball fans in general, should not mourn the passing of a legend, but celebrate the life of a man who brought the game to life for the people of Michigan in a time when announcers were part of the baseball team as much as the players themselves.

As a bonus, here is an audio sample of Harwell's Hall of Fame induction speech in 1981, when he received the Ford C. Frick award:

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

The Oil Drop Comet Jersey

When one thinks of the Edmonton Oilers, the first thing that pops into mind is the logo. You know, the orange oil drop that hovers over the OILERS in odd lettering. That logo became famous when the Oilers had their dynastic run in the 1980's, led by the likes of Wayne Gretzky, Mark Messier, and Jari Kurri. That team was not without its share of characters, as Marty McSorley and Dave Semenko were willing participants in dropping the gloves to protect the star players. The pieces of that team began to fall apart with the Gretzky trade in 1988 to the Los Angeles Kings, and even though the Oilers would go on to win another Stanley Cup in 1990, the pieces continued to crumble, as eventually, most of the team was broken up due to financial issues. The team hit bottom in the mid 1990's and for the most part, have always struggled to make the playoffs since. The exception to the rule was 2006, when they made it all the way to the Stanley Cup Finals, only to lose to the Carolina Hurricanes in seven games.

Feeling the need to add to their look in 2001, the Oilers broke out a third jersey. It was a radical departure from the Orange and Blue, or as the look was at the time, copper and blue, in that the logo was an oil drop encased inside a metallic comet with five rivets each representing a championship that the team has won over the years. The color scheme for that jersey was navy blue, silver, and white, which further symbolized this departure. These jerseys are actually a favorite of mine, as it provided a slick look for the Oilers to go along with the traditional design that I have been familiar with since childhood. The jerseys were retired in 2006, and are a sought after item. This was the definition of third jersey, in that it provided a true alternative for the team's usual logo. On a side note, the retro jerseys that were introduced last season as third jerseys are now the home jerseys, which proves that you can indeed, go home again.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Profundo Rosso

I'm still trying to catch up on my Metal Psalter stuff, as well as get through the CDs and DVDs that I bought from another weekend in Portland, but somehow today, I managed to find something to talk about other than really bad hockey jerseys. And let's face it, no matter how bad some of those jerseys look, odds are that if I have a chance to grab one of those and wear them, I just might go for it.

Today's piece is a Dario Argento classic in Profundo Rosso, which is better known here in the United States as Deep Red. This 1975 film was his first film after the "Animal Trilogy" of giallo films that had some mixed results. Judging by what he did on Profundo Rosso, it is obvious that Argento learned from all three of those films because this ended up being his best film ever. I know you're probably saying that Suspiria should be mentioned in the same breath, but there's a difference between being the most well-known film and just simply being the best film, and Suspiria is in the former, although it would be hard to argue that the film had some great moments.

For reference sakes, I will be referring to this film under the Italian name instead of the English name, so if you're confused at all, just remember that Profundo Rosso and Deep Red are the same movie. The basic plot of the movie is that a medium that feels a murderer gets killed that same evening and it is up to an American music teacher who saw the murder to figure out who that murderer is, and he gets some help from a nosy reporter. While trying to find clues, those who try to help out are picked off one by one by the murderer, whose infatuation with children's songs and other things are driven home by the song that plays prior to the murders and a close-up view of all the dolls lying around. The murders are done in a stylish manner that relates to the viewer in the sense that one would know about the feeling of being scalded with hot water and running into an edge of a table. The movie actually runs a little longer than it should, but this is one of those films that leaves no detail behind, even if it leads to a dead end. Profundo Rosso is the definitive Argento giallo, and that is saying a lot, considering that The Bird With the Crystal Plumage and Tenebre also had his fingerprints all over them.