In many ways, 2015 was pre-ordained to be a massive year. After a down year at the box office in 2014, pundits predicted 2015 would be huge, given the releases of “Star Wars: The Force Awakens,” “Avengers: Age of Ultron,” the final “Hunger Games” movie, and “Jurassic World.” And (for those that have been released), those movies delivered well at the box office (including “World” setting an opening weekend record, and then, you know, “Star Wars” demolishing it.). But there were a number of pleasant surprises that pundits didn’t see coming, and that’s what made 2015 quite an impressive year for entertainment. These are my favorite pieces of entertainment from 2015, presented in no particular order, but, for sake of readability, I’ve broken my list down by categories. Let me know what I missed, or what you enjoyed, in the comments. And, as always, thank you for reading this blog – and I hope you’ll stay with me in 2016. Continue reading
As I’ve said before, I usually try to keep sports separate from this blog. But, as I’ve also said, it’s my blog, and I’ll post what I want. With that in mind, I’ll share with you what I couldn’t get out of my head last night: the idea that, so far, the big summer movies all seem to match up well with one Major League Baseball team. Will the trend continue? Who knows. For now, let’s take a look and see which movies are which teams.
1) Furious 7
Team: St. Louis Cardinals
The Cardinals keep putting out winning teams on the field, doing better than most pundits would expect, even when they have to deal with tragedy, like a sudden death from a car crash (Oscar Taveras). Sounds a lot like a Vin Diesel/Paul Walker led franchise to me.
2) Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2
Team: Oakland Athletics
No one understood what Oakland GM Billy Beane was doing this off-season, and nobody understood why a sequel to the heinously unfunny original was necessary. Both movie and team performed poorly, at the box office or on the field.
3) Avengers: Age of Ultron
Team: San Diego Padres
San Diego GM AJ Preller put together what looked to be an all-star roster: adding Matt Kemp, Justin Upton, Wil Meyers, Derek Norris, James Shields and Craig Kimbrel should have made for an easy cruise to the division title. But putting together all that talent doesn’t make for a workable on-field product, and the same can be said for the re-teaming of Iron Man, Thor, Hawkeye et. al.
4) Pitch Perfect 2
Team: Houston Astros
Led by a pint-size box office darling (Anna Kendrick/Jose Altuve), the movie/team followed the same blue print as last time/last year to even bigger success.
Team: Toronto Blue Jays
Toronto traded for Josh Donaldson, signed Russell Martin, and got rave reviews by many baseball pundits. Feels a lot like what Paul Feig assembled for his Bond-spoofing film. Both team and movie got better ratings than what the box office/win column may show, but both appear to have legs (especially given Toronto’s recent winning streak).
Team: Chicago Cubs
Living in the present but constantly focused on the (hopefully-promising future), the Cubs have assembled a ton of young talent in the hopes of winning an elusive World Series before another century passes.
7) Mad Max: Fury Road
Team: Washington Nationals
Led by Max, the best reviews of the summer haven’t led to as great a box-office haul as the movie producers would like. But don’t be surprised if this movie is in the conversation for Best Picture at the Oscars….and if this team wins the pennant (and more) this October.
Team: Boston Red Sox
Cameron Crowe put together an all-star cast, with Bradley Cooper, Emma Stone, Rachel McAdams, Alec Baldwin and Bill Murray. Ben Cherington did the same with Pablo Sandoval and Hanley Ramirez. The results? Putrid.
9) Jurassic World
Team: New York Yankees
Nobody thought the dinosaurs would do this well at their age, and Jurassic World also fared pretty well at the box office.
10) Inside Out
Team: San Francisco Giants
The Giants started off the season woefully underperforming, especially after the team’s championship performance last year. But once it was able to bring Joy, Fear, and Disgust into balance (i.e. bringing back Hunter Pence and getting its clubhouse chemistry in order), the team is again a force to be reckoned with in the NL West.
Team: Kansas City Royals
This team has wayyyy more swagger than most people think it deserves. Yes, it went to the World Series last year, but the Royals have brawled with multiple teams this season, and its fans have alienated casual baseball fans by stuffing the ballot boxes online so that the Royals will start a player at nearly every position for the All-Star Game. This is a team full of Johnny Dramas.
I may update this as the summer season rolls along, but for now, let me know what you think in the comments.
I’ve tried to keep sports out of this blog, despite my rabid fandom for the Yankees, Knicks and Jets. That said, it’s time for the baseball playoffs, and because my beloved Yankees failed to qualify, I have to determine which team I will support. So, I came up with the only scientific metric I could think of: Judge each team based on the most famous television show that took place in that city, and crown a winner. Spoiler alert: TV shows that took place in LA are far more plentiful than those that took place in Kansas City, as you’ll see. Without further ado, my 2014 MLB Playoff Picks: Continue reading
In honor of March Madness, I thought I’d take a look to determine, bracket-style, what really is the best TV theme song ever. Rather than a full 64-song bracket, I started with a top 32. A few caveats: Obviously, I’m biased more on recent shows, although the art of the great TV theme song is vanishing. Also, I tend to favor songs with words (plural), so no Batman, Parks and Recreation (even with Star Wars references), or The Office (US version). Lastly, these had to be opening theme songs, so the chung-chung from Law & Order doesn’t count. (And I was torn whether to include the Jeopardy! music as well).
To me, the ideal theme song conveys enough of what the show is about to catch up casual viewers (i.e. blatantly spelling out the plot, like in The Brady Bunch or Green Acres). But it also has to be a good song; that’s crucial. Catchy, but also good enough that you won’t mind hearing it, say, 400 times. Continue reading