I thought I’d go in a different direction today because, well, we’re hoping our weather goes in a much different direction today. Yesterday was miserable in central New York.
The temperatures were initially predicted to get into the mid 50’s. Instead, we had periods of snow all day which brought along these very high winds. And it wasn’t that fluffy snow that people look at and say “awwww”, it was hard, beady snow that hurt. Most of us complained loudly; yeah, I was part of that crowd. It’s just the kind of day that makes us all miserable, even though we’ve had snow later in the season than this.
However, even with that misery there was some joy to be found. If you look to the right there you’ll see that I wrote a post on my business blog titled “Think Like You’re Awesome”; I think that’s a post you might enjoy checking out, and it’s something that made me happy.
In general I think it’s easier to be sad than happy, yet sometimes it doesn’t take much to get us laughing or smiling. For instance, I posted a video of a puppy falling asleep that people seemed to like a lot, and I posted a video of laughing babies, this first one having quads laughing, the second one on New Years Day with lots of videos of babies laughing.
Sometimes all it takes is someone else or something else having a good time. And to me, Fridays are the day for that type of thing, when we’re all hoping to unwind from what might have been a tense week of work or issues. To this end, I present Cookie the Penguin. Make sure you watch until the end, then try to tell me this didn’t make you smile:
By now, those of you who have read this blog understand that I love my animation. I love old Bugs Bunny cartoons the best, but I have to say that there are some modern cartoons, rather animation, that I’m just drawn to (hey, a pun!) for reasons I never really understand. But like most everyone else, if I see a preview that captures me, I already know I’m going to like the movie heading in; for the most part, that is, Skyline notwithstanding. lol
The premise of this movie is simple. A career super criminal has the ultimate plan; to steal the moon. In order to do that, he needs to steal a shrink ray that a young and upcoming super villain stole from him after he stole it from someone else. He finds these 3 little girls that the other villain has ordered cookies from and decides to adopt them and use them to help steal the shrink gun. What he doesn’t expect is that he’ll fall in love with the girls as things move along, and thus we have our story, with me leaving out all the details and ruining it for you.
Our super villain, named Gru, has helpers along with way. There’s Dr. Nefario, his elderly main scientist who sometimes hears the request for a specific item incorrectly, and there’s the Minions, these little yellow weeble looking creatures, some with one eye, some with hair, many that look exactly alike, that are the workers and friends of Gru; he knows them all by name and can tell them apart, even if we can’t. They’re the great innocents in this movie; they do whatever’s asked of them, and when they’re not asked to do anything they just, well, do something; funny as sin.
Of course, it’s the relationship Gru ends up having with the 3 sisters, Margo, Edith, and the youngest Agnes, with the big brown eyes and, if you’ve ever seen any of the commercials, the one who utters “It’s so fluffy!” He’s really frustrated early because he’s never been around kids and could care less about being around them now, but as time goes on and he starts having fun with them that he never had in his life before, he starts to realize the value in sharing one’s love with others.
This is the cutest movie and very funny as well. The music was done by Pharrell Williams, which gives it a much different quality than any other movie, as it was his first time working on a movie. As you can tell, I’m recommending this movie, and I’m sharing this little clip, doctored and chopped up, as a mini-teaser. Buy this movie; I’ve seen it more than 40 times by now.
Merry Christmas to those who celebrate Christmas, and happy holidays to the rest of you. Although Christmas isn’t overall my favorite holiday, one can’t dispute that some of the best specials on TV are due to Christmas.
One of my favorites ever was John Denver and the Muppets – A Christmas Together. Strange thing is, it’s never come out on video in any fashion, for whatever reason. I have the album, which I’ve always loved, but of course now I don’t have a record player so I don’t get to play it anymore.
Anyway, part of that is solved here. Here are videos from that special that others have uploaded; great stuff! I hope you enjoy them.
The day before Christmas, and I thought I’d go in a much different direction than normal. I wrote this poem back in 1993, probably the last poem or anything like it that I ever wrote. I’ve had it for years, but can’t say that I’d thought about it in awhile.
Me being me, it’s probably not a traditional Christmas poem, but it’s my style. I hope everyone is going to visit someone they care about this holiday season, regardless of what you believe, and if not, I hope you have some peace during this time, even for only a few days if that’s all you can get. Happy Holidays to all.
The Three Roses of Christmas
There were three roses of Christmas
Discussing the coming day
The trip they were to undertake
And what they were supposed to say
The first one was a cynic
Said “Man, we’re being used
This cat’s afraid to speak his mind
So we’re to plant a clue
I looked into the brother’s eyes
I’ve seen the signs before
He figures that by sending us
He’ll get a foot in the door
This dude will freak when she reacts
Cause this stuff never works
The ladies like a man who’s strong
Not one who acts a twerp
Man, this way’s a cop out
The girl will see right through
Got too many eggs in the basket
This Christmas he’ll be blue”
The second was a romantic
Said “You’ve got this thing all wrong
It’s such a lovely gesture
Like writing someone a song
Every Christmas love’s in blossom
It’s a perfect time of year
When an exchange with someone special
Brings a sentimental tear
I think our overt statement
Sends a message very clear
It’s sent from someone special
To one that’s very dear
You and your misgivings
Open up and see
We’re the symbol of Christmas love
Like the tree’s for family unity”
The third one had been quiet
Taking in every word
He listened to the argument
And thought it quite absurd
“Why of course we’re a sign of love
We’re not a sign of hate
But love has many levels to which
I hope you can relate
There’s love of just one person
There’s love of family
There’s love of all mankind
Though for us intent’s the key
We can’t be sure of one’s motives
For human’s are a sensitive lot
They never seem happy for very long
When they can’t get what they have not
You two just can’t see how close you are
On the feelings the season brings
You probably see different reasons for
So many Christmas wedding rings
For the cynic, why not send a dozen?
For the romantic, why not send just one?
So many relevant theories are born
With each rising of the sun
And what about the religious
Who know why the day was named
If believers were our destination
Would our meaning be perceived the same?
I think we should be happy for
The feelings we hope to impart
An outward reaction of a smile
And a touching of the heart”
Finally the three were silent
It was time for them to go
There are so many different meanings
That they may never know
Though flowers may enhance someone’s feelings
It’s the receiver who has to adjust
So a specific message may not be conveyed
By any three roses of Christmas.
Three weeks ago I wrote a post titled 100 Greatest Sports Movies?, where I took a look at the top 10 of someone else’s list of sports movies and had some commentary on them. At that time I said I was going to have my own top list of my favorite sports movies because, well, I just felt left out of that other list.
When you put together a list like this, you have to take certain things into concern. First, you have to select movies that you’ll watch more than once; I’ve done that for every movie on this list except one, and I’ll explain that one. Second, it has to have some kind of meaning for you. And third,… well, third is that you just had to enjoy it, whether it was important or not. For instance, I’ll tell you early on that the first 3 Rocky movies are on this list, but you’ll be stunned at the order I put them in and, after putting my list together, I even surprised myself that the first Rocky movie isn’t the highest rated one for me.
Does this movie lean American; oh yes, yes it does. No soccer, no Olympic sports, though there is one movie here that’s not quite a sports movie, yet it portrays something that was supposed to be a sport so I’m including it.
Without further ado, let’s get this debate on!
20. Rollerball – Rollerball isn’t really a sports, but it was supposed to portray a futuristic version of roller derby, which some still don’t think is a sport. I’m talking about the original version here, with James Caan, and this was just great movie making that was compelling for a nonexistent sport. They don’t put this one on all that often, but if I’m ever lucky enough to catch it I watch it every time.
19. Bad News Bears – This was a movie I could identify with because I was young at the time it came out, though older than most of these kids. It was funny as sin, about baseball, and starred Walter Mathieu and Tatum O’Neil.
18. North Dallas Forty – Folks missed the reality of this movie, thinking of it mainly as a comedy. Some thought it was loosely based on the Dallas Cowboys, and that could be somewhat true, but it was really an indictment of what professional football is really about. If any of you read Tim Green’s book The Dark Side of the Game, you’ll realize just how true that movie was to reality.
17. Fear Strikes Out – While most people thought the crowning glory for Anthony Perkins was his performance in Psycho, I went a different direction and thought his portrayal of Jimmy Piersall, a baseball player with immense talent who had a mental breakdown because of the pressure put on him by his father, was some of the best acting I’d ever seen.
16. The Longest Yard – Forget the Adam Sandler version of this movie and look for the Burt Reynolds performance instead. This movie came out of nowhere and instantly became one of my favorite movies. It’s about a former professional football player who was thrown out of the game for accepting gambling money to throw games, ends up in prison for stealing a car, creates a prison football team to play against the guards, then has his integrity tested again for a chance to earn himself some favors. It’s gritty and sexy and way before its time.
15. Ali – Man, who know Will Smith could pull this off? His performance garnered him an Oscar nomination, and many people saw a side of Muhammad Ali that they may never have known existed. But there’s a surprise on this list; wait for it.
14. Space Jam – Okay, it’s Michael Jordan and Bugs Bunny, but it’s still basketball and, well, it’s Michael Jordan AND Bugs Bunny!
13. Rocky – This movie was great, gritty, realistic, and no one saw it becoming as popular as it did. It was based on a true story that many people didn’t recognize, that being the life of Chuck Wepner, who had a shot at fighting Muhammad Ali for the championship. That a movie this great ended up at #13 on my list, as much as I enjoyed it, means that the movies ahead of it must mean something more to me.
12. The Hustler – This movie starred Paul Newman and a different Jackie Gleason that people didn’t recognize had this kind of talent at the time. It received 9 Oscar nominations, and for a movie about two pool sharks going at each other, that’s just phenomenal. It was also strange that Jackie Gleason’s character was based on and named after the real Minnesota Fats, who used to be on TV all the time back in the day doing all these trick shots.
11. Brian’s Song – This is the movie on the list that I’ve never been able to really watch ever again after the first time, yet it affected me so much that it had to be on my list. This was the first movie that almost made me cry when I was a kid, the true story of both the friendship between Gale Sayers and Brian Piccolo, the first time a black and white football player ever shared the same room, and of course Piccolo’s losing battle with cancer. Man, there was a lot of guy crying in that movie; I just won’t go there again, and I almost feel like crying writing about it, which shows how powerful a story it was. Man, was that really more than 30 years ago?
10. The Jackie Robinson Story – This was an important movie and an enjoyable one as well, but no one would ever say it was well acted. That’s because Jackie Robinson played himself, and as the guy who integrated the major leagues, that was a pretty great accomplishment. It was about a real as it could be for its time; if they’d put the language and abuse that he really had to deal with… well, there isn’t a theater in the country that would have shown it back in the day.
9. A League Of Their Own – “There’s no crying in baseball!” Who doesn’t know that line that lives in the United States? After all, it’s “only” the 54th rated line ever in movie history. Women baseball players during World War II, and they were talented as well. This was based on a true story, and I watched this movie over and over. That neither Geena Davis or Lori Petty were nominated for Oscars from this movie was a travesty.
8. Million Dollar Baby – This movie got, and won, lots of Oscars. I wasn’t ever going to watch this movie because, well, I just wasn’t interested. Then one evening I did sit down and watch it, and it’s great. Women boxing was just the subtext to the entire thing, as it’s mainly about an old boxing manager who gets a shot at redemption. I never saw the ending coming, and truthfully, to this date I’ll only watch the movie up until the time she gets injured; those of you who’ve seen it knows what happens, and those of you who don’t… you need to see this movie.
7. Rocky II – Here’s the second Rocky movie, and it was great theater. It wasn’t as gritty as the first one, since this time around he got real money to clean it up some. But it was a very compelling movie, and I like how they highlighted the angst of Apollo Creed trying to deal with the fact that he just couldn’t figure out why he couldn’t beat a club fighter the first time around. That Sly Stallone would share the stage that way with another actor was one of the best things he could have ever done.
6. The Greatest – Here’s the surprise; Ali playing Ali and doing the same things Will Smith did in the second movie first. Both movies were based on Ali’s autobiography called, what else, The Greatest. I will say that this version left out some of the, well, naughty things that Ali did, but otherwise it was a truthful representation of his book. And Ali really wasn’t all that bad, as this clip shows.
5. Pride of the Yankees – You’ve all heard of Lou Gehrig’s disease; this was the movie about Lou Gehrig. Gary Cooper was the perfect every man actor, and I just can’t think of anyone else who could have played this role and made it believable from that era. From what I hear, Lou Gehrig really was as nice as this movie portrayed him to be, and of all things, the movie has Babe Ruth in it as well. Talk about movies that almost made me cry; add this one to the list. But I can watch this one over and over and do okay with it, maybe because it doesn’t linger as much on his illness as Brian’s Song did.
4. The Great White Hope – Did I ever mention that there are a lot of people who think I look like James Earl Jones? I’m missing it, but this movie is one that was so controversial when it came out that it didn’t play in many parts of the country. It started out as a show in NYC, where you can do anything, and it’s the story of Jack Johnson, who just might be the best heavyweight fighter in history, a black man with a white wife who decided to throw things in the face of white America as opposed to trying to be a good example. It got him thrown in jail, probably throwing a fight, and in the end the first millionaire boxer left this earth penniless and ended the opportunity for black fighters to compete for a championship for almost 30 years.
3. Rocky III – Yeah, I know what some of you are thinking; why is this movie rated by me so high. Because it entertained me more than you could imagine. It introduced Mr. T to us, and is had some of the best lines that I still use to this day. No, it wasn’t great theater like the first two, but it was cut well, very entertaining, and introduced a lot of the world to Hulk Hogan. It outgrossed both of the previous Rocky movies at the theaters, was considered one of the best movies of 1982, and taught us all the line “I pity the fool.”
2. Raging Bull – What’s this, 3 boxing movies in a row? Hey, that’s just how it goes. And this one was the king of them all, about Jake LaMotta, a bad guy who, for some reason, was very compelling to the public. He had 5 fights with Sugar Ray Robinson and won one of them to become the middleweight champion of the world. This movie was shot in black and white, and Robert DeNiro, who won the Oscar for his performance, had to gain and lose significant weight for the role during the movie; that just rarely ever happens, even now. It also really introduced Joe Pesci to us; man, I love his movies!
1. The Natural – As I said in the first post, this is my favorite sports movie of all time, and is in my top 5 movies of all time as well. It’s a beautifully shot movie of old baseball. It was nominated for 4 Oscars, including the score by Randy Newman. Robert Redford didn’t get a nomination, which is a travesty if you ask me. At this stage it’s considered one of the most beloved movies of all time, earning a 83% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Yeah, they changed the ending from the book; they better had!