The Blog in Black

I caught Walk the Line last night and though it wasn't the most awesome biographical movie I've seen, I would still recommend it to anyone who has a passing interest in Johnny Cash, or even a passing interest in bad-assery -- because that's what this movie proves, he was just a plain bad-ass.

He grew up poor, fought hard, wrote like he fought even harder, and touched a nerve with his audience like no other performer before him. The movie does great justice to the lyrics that Johnny wrote by showcasing several complete songs (and sometimes more than once).

The film will no doubt draw some comparison to Ray, the 2004 biopic of the late Ray Charles. Both films were released relatively soon after their subjects' deaths (Ray a few months, Line a couple years), both were sanctioned by their subjects (Line is based on two Cash autobiographies), both deliver strong performances by their actors. However, that's where the comparisons should stop because Walk the Line is simply a much better movie. Whereas Ray seemed aimless and plotless, simply chronicling the the rise, fall, and redemption of Ray Charles like it's all in a day's work, Walk the Line sets its sight on the near self-desctructive love that Johnny Cash had for his future-wife June Carter and allows the relationship between the two characters to take center stage, rather than musical performances (which are still fan-friggin'-tastic).

Like I wrote above, Walk the Line is a far from perfect biopic, but what really is? Do audiences want a dry, straight-facts PBS special, or do they want a well-dressed story in the style of (yet another biopic subject this season) Truman Copote? I'd rather have the latter.

The film fails somewhat in making this a JOHNNY CASH movie. Replace the names of the characters with Joe and Jane Somebody, and we have basically a story that could be told a thousand times over, but for those who are knowledgeable of the personalities and relationship of John and June can take joy from the what shows up on the screen. But really, who can play Johnny Cash except for the real Johnny Cash? I almost feel that this should be turned a trilogy -- the Johnny Cash story, the June Carter story, and the Johnny Cash and June Carter story.

I'll avoid the nuances of the film and just finish by saying it was a great, enjoyable film that didn't give much insight for someone who already knows something about its subject, but that's not what I went for in the first place anyway.


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Red Sox Do It Right

Bravo to the Theo-less Red Sox for making a couple outstanding moves this week. Josh Beckett and Mike Lowell (and more recently Guillermo Mota) for a handful of prospects is an exceptional deal. The team is essentially getting upgrades in the starting rotation, bullpen and at third base. There are a few issues, however. Calling Josh Beckett the team ace is ludicrous. The kid (all 25 years of him) has never pitched more than 200 innings in a season, and been on the DL nine times with a Derek Lowe-like blister problem. After reading a couple profiles on him, he also has a Derek Lowe-like tendency to get hung up on bad performances that could affect his every pitch. If this were Derek Lowe, would you call him the team ace? Wasn't Matt Clement supposed to be the ace of 2005?

Derek Lowe redux?
Now here comes a series of "ifs" -- If Schilling returns to form, if Tim Wakefield stays the course, if Matt Celement can refine his form, if Beckett fulfills his potential, if John Papelbon doesn't succumb to full season-rookie pressure, and if Bronson Arroyo steps it up a little more, the Red Sox look to have a great, young pitching staff with enormous potential, anchored and mentored (more importantly) by Curt Schilling. Think of it as the entire Celtics team (something like nine rookies and second-year players) in a pitching rotation. The icing on the cake is that Beckett is slated to make less than $5 million a year on his contract (even after arbitration).

Another big "if" comes in the form of Mike Lowell. In order for the Red Sox to get Beckett for what's considered a great deal, they had to take on Mike Lowell's contact, which could best be described as cumbersome. He certainly did not play a season worth $7.5 million for the Marlins last year. If Mike Lowell can regain 2003-2004 form, any criticism will fade into the background. With no disrespect to Bill Mueller, I think 2006 will be the year of Mike Lowell. That's right, the Mike Lowell reclamation project starts here on the Angry Bostonian -- ingredients include a new team and new ballpark. You heard it here first -- Mike Lowell will lead the league in doubles. Thank you Green Monster. It's the least I can do for the player who anchored my fantasy team in the first half of 2003. Plus, with the vacuum caused by Manny Ramirez's contract when he gets traded, there's plenty of room for Mike Lowell's $9 million for the next two years.

And the wheeling and dealing Red Sox are not done! Unsatisfied with the shaky health status of Josh Beckett, the Sox were able to pry away Guillermo Mota from the Marlins for a prospect no one has even heard about. He didn't have a spectacular 2005 (and here's an "if", albeit a small "if"); if Guiellermo Mota can show the flash he had as a setup man to Eric Gagne in 2003-2004, the Sox bullpen can easily match the bullpen of the 2004 World Series team. Even if Mota has a year similar to last year, it's worth it to have an experienced bullpen arm, rather than a prospect that's several years away from the big show.

Former Red Sox prospect... and Rockies prospect... and Devil Rays prospect...
and Mets prospect... and Reds prospect...

Speaking of those prospects, the Boston Sports Guy had a terrific few paragraphs on his page about prospects and exactly how many actually pan out. Besides the Jeff Bagwell-for-Larry Andersen trade in 1990 (which wasn't a bad trade, since it was made so the Sox could make a playoff run that year -- and they did win the AL East), what former Sox prospects are we crying about? Who remembers Brian Rose or Casey Fossum?

A well-run major league team farm system is like a dot-com company in the nineties: tons of potential is being created to the point when some investor will give you millions of dollars, all based on what is essentially written on paper, with very little result or proof of results. It's like practically printing money! Even though Theo is gone, I hope that one of his most remembered legacies (after the World Series win) is his rejuvination of the Red Sox farm system -- his handiwork in that part of the organization will provide assets for many years to come, if done right.

The Red Sox might not go all the way in 2006, but they are filling their roster up with a lot of big and little "ifs" that could limit them or enable them. Maybe all the pieces will come together in a Patriots 2001-02 Superbowl sort of way. Either way, it looks to be an enjoyable ride.


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Massachusetts Puts Kibosh on Capitalism Once Again

What's the big deal with allowing supermarkets to open their doors on Thanksgiving? Earlier this week there as a story in the Globe that reported Whole Foods (which only wanted to be open on the morning of Thanksgiving) was served notice by the State Attorney General's Office that it was violating Blue Laws by being open for business. Today there was a story about the Super 88 chain being served notice yesterday morning at a few locations.

To paraphrase the Globe, "You have willing employers, willing employees (who are getting paid time and a half for their efforts), and willing customers. Capitalism wins." For a state that prides itself on being at the forefront of liberalism, why are we still handcuffed by Puritan-based laws that are several hundred years old?


Blogger Elliott complained...

These ridiculous blue laws are the reason bars close at 2:00, the T stops at 12:30, you can't buy beer except at the packy store (for the most part), and why we don't have any world class strip clubs. Is it too much to ask that I be able to get lap dances until 4 in the morning, then hop on the T, make a pitstop at Stop & Shop for some Miller Lite, and then call it a night? The indignity of it all.

12/08/2005 3:16 PM
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I used to laugh at those fools who had jobs that required them to work on semi-holidays such as the day after Thanksgiving. Now I am one of those fools. Damn.


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"Productivity Issue"

The link in Elliott's latest post is blocked by my company, so I can't see it. What really gets me is the category the web-blocker says his link falls under the "Productivity Issue" category. Isn't the whole Internet just one big productivity issue?


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RIP Theo

Thought I'd weigh in on the Theo Epstein tragedy...

What's that? He's not dead? All the newspaper columns have made it sound like the Pope died all over again.

Theo Epstein was a great GM who's impact on the Red Sox was in the same vein of the impact that Curt Schilling and Keith Foulke had on the Red Sox in 2004. 90% of the pieces were in place for championship and Theo (in the front office) and Curt/Keith (on the field) were that 10% the Red Sox were looking for.

Oh, and the Red Sox have not made a single off-season action or played a single game since the Theo apocalypse.... so it's only natural that everyone thinks the 2006 season has gone down the toilet.

If anything, I hope these series of events shed a little more light on the obvious conflict of interest that is growing between the Boston Globe and the Boston Red Sox. The New York Times, which owns the Globe is also a part-owner of the Red Sox. How is it possible that the Globe can be impartial and objective to another business unit in its organization. The whole story blew up in its face when Dan Shaughnessy reported that Theo had decided to stay.

The Sox also own their own television station and are in bed with the second-most popular AM station in Boston. Who's the gatekeeper of information now? We're getting down to "unethical" territory when it comes to sports news in this town and who controls it. It not only hurts other media players, but also other sports franchises that want a piece of the cake.


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Prison Break. Damn.

I was probably the first to raise my hands when the question was asked, "Do you think Prison Break will be cancelled after two episodes?"

Obviously I was wrong. I was even more wrong in my original opinion that I would not enjoy the show one bit. I love it. It's so ridiculous that it enters 24's suspend-disbelief-and-you-will-enjoy the-hell-out-of-it territory. Let's just say that it moves up on my TiVo's season pass list.

The acting is terrible. The one-liners are so predictable. Characters (which are so cliche) that you think are "regular" end up dead with little warning. It's great. I highly recommend it.


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The Return

Hey-ho bloggerinos -- I know it's been a long time since I last posted anything. Life's been busy, that's all I can say. Work has been very busy, which is rather refreshing since at my last job I'd have several opportunities a day to post my thoughts. Now all I think about it TPS reports. I also moved in with my ladyfriend; the unpacking/organization has been almost non-stop for the last two weeks. We're almost done.

Anyway, I'm sick today and stayed home from work, so maybe this will be the first of a few posts today (or maybe this will be the only one you get, you lucky bastards).


Blogger Coolhand complained...

HE's back. The man who got me into the game is back! The crowd goes WIIIILDDDD ::clasp hands together and makes static noise:: Haaaahaaazzzssrzzzz

11/17/2005 12:09 AM
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