Thursday, June 28, 2007

Billy Ball

Congratulations to Morris' Billy Petrick, who made his major league debut Wednesday afternoon in the Cub's 6-4 win over Colorado. Petrick was called up earlier in the week from Double-A Tennessee.

Petrick pitched better than his stats indicate. He went 1.2 innings, allowed 2 runs on a hit and a walk. The hit was a home run by Garrett Atkins, which also scored the man he walked, Kaz Matsui.

It had to be a nice moment for Petrick, who exited the game following that home run, as he received a standing ovation while heading to the dugout. The fans must have been thinking back to the previous inning when Petrick retired the Rockies in order, including the last two on strikeouts.

"I wanted to scream after I struck that last guy out," Petrick said in Paul Sullivan's Chicago Tribune story. "It was an awesome feeling."

I had the chance to call several of Petrick's games when he pitched at Morris High School (he graduated in 2002). Although it's hard to predict if, or when, a high school player will make the jump to the big leagues, there was no doubt from watching Petrick that he was certainly going to have a great opportunity.

He's a good kid, too.

So, best of luck, and continued success, Billy. I'm certainly not going to become a Cubs fan all of a sudden...but I'll be watching a little more often.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Tony's Last Supper

Just when I thought I was out...

Speculation continues at a feverish pace as to what happened, or what was inferred to have happened at the end of The Sopranos' final episode. I'm still stumped. I go back and forth between several theories:

* Tony gets killed at the exact moment the screen goes black
* We, the audience get whacked at the final moment
* The show simply stops because there is no ending. It's simply life goes on for this family, and we don't get the chance to see the "end".

These are the three theories that seem to carry the most weight, and depending on what time of day you ask me, I'm likely to lean towards either of these choices.

I wouldn't have even bothered with this post, had I not stumbled across three separate websites that have offered more detailed analysis of that final scene, and many so-called clues from previous episodes as well, that I feel obligated to share with you.

So, if you have some spare time -- and you must, if you're reading this -- check out these for kicks and giggles...

- Bob Harris offers many clues that we didn't just witness Tony's death, but his funeral as well.

- The Washington Post's Michael Cavna agrees that Tony has been clipped. (Stick with this post through all of the comments -- including some additional ones from Cavna).

- A shot-by-shot breakdown of the now famous Holsten's scene provided by the blog "A Lesson A Day".

All are fun reads...if you don't mind the throbbing headache that comes with it.

Monday, June 25, 2007

The Vaughn Murders: Was There Any Doubt?

I still shudder when I think of what happened recently to Kimberly Vaughn, and her three children, Abigayle, Cassandra, and Blake. The fact that the murders took place in nearby Channahon forced me to pay attention a little more than I normally would.

As a father of two young girls, it's hard to imagine what kind of situation would lead a dad to do something so horrific. It seemed pretty apparent from the beginning that Christopher Vaughn -- the father of the children, and husband to Kimberly -- was the killer. It just seemed too fishy that he somehow survived what he claimed to be his wife's attack, only suffering a shot in the thigh. Maybe he went for the fleshy part of the thigh, like Bobby Bacala tried to do in a season six episode of The Sopranos.

All anyone had to do to know who committed the murders was to know who was driving the van. Look at the picture above. This is where the van came to rest, and the murders took place. Looks like the driver/shooter wanted to hide a little, don't you think? If you need to adjust luggage on top of your car -- Christopher Vaughn's reason for stopping -- you usually don't need to go driving well off the interstate to find a driveway that just happens to be surrounded by some trees that will keep your vehicle out of sight to everyone not in a helicopter.

Maybe now that the Mancow look-alike has been arrested, he'll tell investigators why he did what he did. Let's hope there's more to this story than just "dad goes berserk for no reason whatsoever and kills his family."

Maybe he never loved these people, felt trapped, and this was his only way out. Possibly there was another woman. Maybe the guy had mental problems, was depressed, had been in a huge ongoing fight with his wife. Something.

What does he have to lose? The evidence is in, it wasn't the wife, or the kids, or some random drive-by. They've got him. So, go ahead and tell us the story of why you did what you did. If nothing else, maybe it would help establish some kind of pattern of events that can be applied to other people that might be going through similar feelings, so hopefully something like this doesn't happen again.

Then, after you've told us the story, the cops can sit you in a car and drive you to all of the other wonderful places to hide along I-55 frontage roads in and around Channahon, and give you much more than a thigh wound to worry about.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Plane Sanding, Um, Landing

As I mentioned on the show Friday, here's the initial video I saw of a plane landing at St. Martin Airport near -- make that VERY near -- Maho Bay Beach in St. Marteen.

No, it's not a fake. It's actually a tourist attraction. Check out other similar videos here, here, and here.

And, check out this ultra-cool video of a landing at the airport from the view of the cockpit.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Happy Birthday, "Jaws"

On June 20, 1975, the movie Jaws was released. I actually saw this movie in the theaters. I remember it being a spur of the moment decision by my folks after looking through the newspaper on a lazy summer evening. "Let's go see Jaws," my mom said.

I was 5.

Loved it.

It's simply a great, great movie. Was there ever a better casting decision than Robert Shaw as Quint? And, historically speaking, this is widely considered to be the first summer blockbuster. It screened so well with preview audiences that it was released to many more theaters than originally planned.

It was also the first movie to gross over $100 million, and was the highest grossing movie of all time until Star Wars was released two years later.

Part of what makes the movie so exciting is what director Steven Spielberg decides not to show us. Suspense is heightened by the music and sound you hear, plus the sparse amount of time that you actually see the shark.

Of course the reason the shark was on screen so infrequently was because the mechanical sharks created for the production of the movie rarely worked, and in some cases, sunk to the bottom of the sea because they were rendered useless by all of the salt water.

Hey, sometimes it's better to be lucky than good.

Some fun Jaws related clips...

Who knew that the Jaws theme had words?

Jaws, recut as a gay love story

Holy Sharkbite, Batman!

Monkeys never fail to bring the laughs

Robert Shaw gives chills in a scene that he helped write

Ron "Jaws" Jaworski hands off to Wilbert Montgomery for a 42 yard touchdown run in the 1980 NFC Championship Game. Couldn't resist.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

The Sopranos Finale: Were We Whacked?

There are so many theories out there regarding the final scene of the final Sopranos episode, that my head is starting to feel a bit like Phil Leotardo's must have felt -- even after getting shot. You think the folks at Ford liked that scene?

* Tony got whacked, and the screen going black is his perspective at his final moment. The whole "you never see it coming" angle that was mentioned several times this season.

* The screen going black is series creator David Chase's way of whacking the audience.

* Life goes on. There is no "ending" to the story. Tony and his family are having a meal together, and that's that.

* Choose your own ending. Chase sets up tension with the shady guy in the Members Only jacket (possible hit man?), and the extra time showing Meadow trying to parallel park (to purposely make her late as to avoid tragedy), while never paying off with showing us any real conflict. This way, when the screen goes black, if we want to believe Tony gets whacked, we can. If we want to believe they simply had a delightful order of onion rings, we can. If we want to believe that Tony was about to be offered the job as host of The Price Is Right, we can.

* The ending was left ambiguous in order to set up a movie down the line.

Lots of theories. Even the cast members are a little confused. Apparently there was more footage from that final scene that was left on the cutting room floor. Interesting comment from actor Matt Servitto (the FBI guy) in a story on
''In the script, the scene in the diner went a little further,'' Servitto
revealed. ''The gentleman sitting at the counter was much more mysterious, almost like he's walking to the table to shoot Tony, and then end of script.?
Interesting. And what about the Members Only guy? He indicates that his character had a motive, but wouldn't elaborate. An AP story says that
He claims to know definitely his character's intent and what happens following the episode's conclusion, but won't divulge it. "I do have an idea, but I cannot really talk," says Colandrea, who was discovered by a casting agent. "I have papers signed that I can't make any comments on that."
So, what is he hiding? All a ruse?

Maybe this was Chase's plan all along. Give the audience nothing, make them think about it for themselves, and have the debate rage on forever.

Personally, I wanted an ending. A legitimate ending. I'd rather have something I can agree or disagree with, than something I have to make up on my own.

Would you read a book if at the end, there was a blank page instead of the text telling you how things end? I wouldn't. I don't care about how "brilliant" David Chase is, or how unconventional his style is, or how we should expect nothing different than what Chase gave us, becuase "that's just how David Chase is".

I wanted more finality. And a Meadow nude scene wouldn't have hurt, either.

Now, pass the gabba-gool.

Saturday, June 09, 2007

The Sopranos Is Fergalicious

Yes, it's a sad weekend for me. The Sopranos is ending its run with a final episode Sunday night. What a ride. I remember when the show first came out on HBO, I didn't have a lot of interest. Then, after hearing the incredible amount of buzz surrounding the show, I watched the rerun of season 1 that led right up to season 2's premiere. Wow.

After Sunday night, the show will of course live on thanks to DVD and HBO reruns.

The show also airs on A & E, and since it's not quite the same as being on HBO, there are countless amounts of edits to clean up the language, sex, and violence.

With that in mind, check out this parody of what it would be like to be an actor on the show, having to deal with all of the dubbed dialogue that would be needed to make the show airable.

Whether you're a fan of the show, or not, this is some funny stuff.

Obligatory Paris Hilton post

This is the same reaction I get from my 10-month old daughter, Sarah, when I take the remote control from her before she shoves the whole thing in her mouth. The only thing missing is that she hasn't perfected the shouting of, "Mom!!!" when things don't go her way.

Poor, poor Paris. Now, to be fair, what happened to her yesterday should never have happened in teh first place. She should have never been released from jail. There aren't too many arguments on that point.

However, I was completely surprised by her reaction to having to go back to jail. At the point this picture was taken, she had to know that this was a possibility. As upset as you might be, Paris, sheeesh, pull it together until you get out of the camera's view. We know you love all of the attention, but is this the last image you want us to see for the next few weeks?

Then again, maybe she feels if she lets out all of this emotion, she'll find some other dope that will feel sorry for her, and try to let her go home early.

Look, I don't dislike Paris Hilton. I'm mystified by her celebrity status, but I don't dislike her. Kudos to the judge for rightly sending her back to jail -- for a sentence that has already been reduced in half. Paris, it's simple, you get caught breaking the law, you pay the consequences. Mommy can't help you. Even the star-struck sheriff can't do anything for you. Just deal with it, and in a few weeks, you'll be out and more popular than ever.

Besides...a hottie with a ton of money that likes to party all the time AND is an ex-con to boot?

That's hot.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Bob Barker('s Retirement), Come On Down!

After 35 years as host of The Price Is Right, Bob Barker is retiring. He taped his last show on Wednesday (it will air on June 15th). Apparently, after receiving a standing ovation from the crowd, the actual show went off like many of the others he has hosted since 1972.

I can't say that I've watched The Price Is Right all that much since I've been working for a living, although back in the day, it was certainly on my list of morning game shows to watch, right up there with Press Your Luck, Sale Of The Century, Family Feud, and Card Sharks. Of course, I was mainly watching The Price Is Right to see Dian, Janice, and Holly. It was always a good show when during the Showcase Showdown, one of the prizes was a trip to a warm weather destination so Dian could appear in a two-piece bikini.

No disrespect, Bob. Hey, what am I talking about...Bob knows exactly what I mean. After all, he was able to hook up with Dian (always my favorite Barker Beauty). Although, it wasn't all hearts and flowers with those ladies. Not one, not two, but eight women from the show have brought lawsuits against him.

Was the price right on some of those settlements, Bob?

Above: The Top 10 Things Bob Barker Can Say Now That He Is Retiring.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Now THAT'S A Meltdown

Things are going so bad for the Cubs this season that manager Lou Pinella can't even lay claim to the week's best managerial meltdown.

Nope, that title belongs to Phillip Wellman, minor league manager of the Mississippi Braves.

Here's the video, for the three people out there that haven't seen it.

Saturday, June 02, 2007

The Crowning Of King James

After discussing the wild and wacky -- and not in a good way -- recent events in baseball, it seemed fitting to offer up a post celebrating something that was truly magical. Of course, I wasn't watching at the time.

LeBron James scored 48 points -- including his team's final 25 points -- in a breathtaking performance that gave Cleveland a road win in Detroit, and has them one win away from a trip to the NBA Finals.

It's a game that will be talked about forever.

Of course, I missed it.

In all fairness, I'm not really an NBA fan. I do like to catch some occasional playoff games, but that's about it. Plus, these days, with two young kids in the house, I'm either too busy trying to keep up with them, or the TV's have Disney Channel, Jack's Big Music Show, or some DVD playing about 96% of the time.

Sure, I could go to a different room and watch games in there, but by the time these playoff games get to halftime, I'm having a hard time keeping my eyes open. Waking up at 3:15am everyday will do that to you.

But, after James' performance, I might just have to pay more attention to anytime I have a chance to watch him play. We all knew he was a tremendous player, but his performance in Game 5 has placed him on a higher level. Plus, he's only 22. Imagine if he ever gets halfway decent players around him on the Cavaliers.

LeBron "King" James has now taking his rightful seat on his throne.

I'm not planning on missing his next performance tonight.

If You Can't Beat 'Em, Beat Up Each Other

I'd be enjoying the implosion of the Cubs a little more if the team I root for was having a good season. However, even after sweeping the Braves -- the current opponent of those wacky Clubs, I mean, Cubs -- my Phillies, I mean Phollies, have dropped four straight at home (13-0 last night to the Giants) to squander any momentum gained from that series in Atlanta. They're now two games under .500, so I don't take a lot of pleasure from the struggles of Lou's crew.

As far as the scuffle that took place in the Cubs' dugout yesterday, it shouldn't be much of a surprise. Carlos Zambrano has always been a bit of a hothead, who always seems to have trouble when his teammates screwup behind him -- or I guess in this case, in front of him -- wearing his less-than-pleased-emotions on his sleeve.

As far as Michael Barrett is concerned, well he's just one year removed from the infamous punch to the face of A.J. Pierzynski in a crosstown matchup at U.S. Cellular Field. Two combustible personalties, in the midst of a game where they are both contributing mightily to yet another Cub loss, in a season where the team has spend 300 million dollars to try to turn things around, and are currently eight games under .500...again, not a big surprise.

It's been a strange few days in baseball:

* Mr. Pierzynski was involved in yet another altercation, this time with his former team.

* Yankees' third baseman Alex Rodriguez shouting "Mine", "I got it!", "Noonan...miss it" or something to that effect in a game against Toronto, causing two infielders to misplay a popup.

* Rodriguez' teammate Jason Giambi hurt his foot during one of those grueling homerun trots.

* Another ho-hum Yankees-Red Sox game with ejections, hit batters, and brushback pitches -- oh my.

Crazy. We're almost at the point where we need a new steroid scandal just to calm things down.

It's even weird at the little league level. Remember this story from a couple of weeks ago about the coach that's being sued because some klutzy kid didn't know how to slide into second base?

First of all, this happened three years ago, and the lawsuit is just coming about now. Secondly, why would you want to draw more attention to the fact that your kid is, um, athletically challenged? The injury, and the fact that the kid doesn't know how to slide is embarrassing enough, but to have the single mom bring even more attention to it with this ridiculous lawsuit, is crazy.

Instead of making a big deal about this, three years later, she should have taken her kid out of the baseball league, and quietly signed him up for the Chess Club, and be done with it.

Remember, there's no crying in baseball.