If you read only one blog full of ranting and raving about sports (local and otherwise), movies, TV shows, miscellaneous pop culture, life and other assorted flotsam and jetsam, make it this one!

Friday, August 28, 2015

City Hall Courtyard

The compass mural in City Hall Courtyard was recently restored by -- who else? -- the Mural Arts Program after years of being worn down by foot traffic and the elements. These pics really don't do it full justice. If I could get to one of the windows on an upper floor inside City Hall...

My Sports Tees And Miscellaneous Caps, Part 4

Time for another chapter. And something embarrassing if you get to the end. Let's start with caps. Other that the first cap, this entire post is an all-Phillies edition.

From the Hockey Hall of Fame. Pretty sure this was from my epic trip in August-September 2004 to Montreal and Toronto for the World Cup of Hockey (an Olympic-style tournament, won by host Canada that year), but possibly I bought it on a later trip.

This is old. The Phillies added the blue cap option to their uniforms for day games in 1994. The defending NL Champs lost their first two games wearing them and the players were up in arms. Some fans didn't take kindly to them, either, although they sold rather well. The compromise for the players: they'd only wear them on weekday "Businessperson's Special" afternoon games. I think it's a nice-looking cap, but the jinx theory (final record: 1-6) won out.

You can probably guess that this was a giveaway item.

Aaron Rowand will be remembered forever for this catch and his comment a day or two later in reply to a question about the famous Ricky Watters "For who? For what?" quote when Watters short-armed a ball to avoid being hit in his first game as an Eagle.

The Flyin' Hawaiian! And a rare Harry Kalas home run call in which he did NOT use his famous "Outta Here!" Victorino, no ka oi!

Just looking at the condition of this shirt, it's very old. Steve Carlton's first year as a Phillie, 1972, when he went 27-10 (including a 15-game winning streak) for a team that only won 59 games, was what got me interested in baseball.

Greg Luzinski. The Bull. What a hitter in the mid-70s. Then injuries and slumps took their toll, but at least he was part of the 1980 World Series Champions.

Roy Halladay! First of three. This one was something the MLB Players Association did to raise funds for the Wounded Warrior Project.

This one might have come from a store like Walmart or Kmart or something.

On this night, the Doctor was definitely in. In the middle of the glory days, when it seemed like multiple World Series wins were the Phils' destiny. Sigh...

...and speaking of World Series wins...

 ...and finally...the right pic turned out a little blurry. It commemorates All-Star games hosted by the Phils as well as some of the NL and WS championships through 2010.. I wanted it badly but it took a while to be marked down to a price I was willing to pay.

There is only one problem with this t-shirt:

I somehow ended up with TWO of them. The exact same shirt, even the same size. And I only discovered this the other day when I was choosing the t-shirts for this post. I have no idea how this happened!

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Quick Review: Amy

Amy Winehouse, gone way too soon, and the worst part is that her death didn't have to happen. Using never-before seen footage as well as interviews with people in her life (for better or worse), Amy documents her early life, career and, ultimately, her demise. And to see how so many people in her life used her, or otherwise utterly failed her -- her father, ex-husband and manager, in particular -- is heartbreaking. If there is such a thing as karma, they will someday, somehow pay for their transgressions. Her drug and alcohol abuse turned her from an incredibly talented singer-songwriter into a target for comedians and the paparazzi. I left the theater angry that we can no longer hear her voice. There should be a class for any young performers who are either attracting attention, on the verge of potential stardom or have gone the route of American Idol, The Voice, etc., and said class should consist almost entirely of this documentary. My grade: A.

Monday, August 24, 2015

Quick Reviews: Gift For Ricki's U.N.C.L.E.

Fun with post titles...

A key plot twist in The Gift was somewhat spoiled in the trailer. This seems to be happening more and more, and I find it a terrible way to sell a movie. The good thing about this movie, at least, was that there were twists following it. Married couple Simon and Robyn (Jason Bateman, Rebecca Hall) have relocated to Los Angeles because of his new job. While shopping they run into Gordon (Joel Edgerton, who also wrote and directed it), aka "Gordo," a (barely remembered) former high school classmate of Simon's. Gordo begins dropping by their home unannounced, usually dropping off gifts. Robyn thinks he's just socially awkward while her husband thinks it's creepy. Things begin to deteriorate. As I said, there were a surprising number of twists and turns that kept me entertained to the end. But the reveal in the trailer, that Simon knows more than he lets on, took away some of the thrill. Plus, Simon -- even at the very start -- comes off as kind of a dick anyway. My grade: B-plus.

Then there's Ricki and the Flash -- which is, sadly, not about this guy...

...but about Ricki, an aging rocker (Meryl Streep) who left her family to take a shot at stardom and ends up playing a regular gig with her band, The Flash, at a little bar in California and working checkout at a market. Then she's summoned home to Indianapolis by her ex (Kevin Kline) due to a crisis involving her daughter (Mamie Gummer, Meryl's daughter). This just strikes me as a vanity project so Meryl and her daughter could play mother and daughter, and so Meryl could sing (both classic stuff and modern hits such as "Bad Romance" -- Meryl does Gaga!) It has some good moments but it's pretty predictable fluff that all wraps up in a neat little bow at the end. And if I'm being honest...which I am, so why do I need to say that? I blame Simon Cowell for saying it on "American Idol." I got it from him. Anyway, I'm rambling...the best acting in this film was done NOT by Meryl but by Rick Springfield, as Ricki's bandmate and would-be lover. My grade: C-plus.

As for The Man from U.N.C.L.E., the big-screen adaptation of the TV series which ran for four seasons from 1964-68, my big question is...why? A TV series that hasn't been in prime time in nearly 50 years is made into a movie and fell well short of the rather modest box office predictions. Did the studio really think anyone under, say, 40 (to be generous) would go and see this? It's set in 1963 and features, just like the TV show, a team-up of American (Henry Cavill) and Soviet (Armie Hammer) spies to thwart a nuclear threat from Nazi sympathizers.

Pick your favorite tag line:
a) A Brit playing an American and an American playing a Russian!
b) Superman and the Lone Ranger save the world!

It's not a bad film. It breezes merrily along, the banter is witty, there's some action and some humor and the boys look good and eventually learn to trust each other. I just can't wrap my head around why it was necessary. My grade: B-minus.

The El Rides Into The Sunset

Another repost from the photo blog...

This was taken from the Allegheny station of the SEPTA Market-Frankford line on 11/04/11 (on the crossover between the eastbound and westbound sides).

Thursday, August 20, 2015

The Paparazzi Got Baldy!

Found this on page four of last week's PGN...note the handsome bald gentleman perusing the photographs on the table...

And, because paparazzi...

(Oh, and in case you're not keeping up on Facebook/Twitter, I'm currently shaving my head since the radiation treatments and/or chemo pills led to my hair starting to fall out.)

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Downtown From Ben's Bridge

Another post moved from the photo blog. A pic of Center City from the Ben Franklin Bridge, taken during the Walk for Hope, a fundraiser to fight cancers affecting women, on 9/23/2012. I walked that year in honor of Mom. I guess I have to do one of these walks for myself now...

Monday, August 17, 2015

Sunset After Showers

Larger versions of what I posted on Instagram earlier. Some showers and a brief bit of thunder had moved through. Once the rain was finished, I went to pick up some prescriptions and noticed the sky. I took the first pic at 7:01 pm before I got to the pharmacy. The second was on the way back, at 7:19 pm. Click on each pic for the larger versions. No filters or other editing other than a little cropping.

Two notes: 1) I am still going to move posts from the soon-to-be-defunct photo blog over here, so expect some links soon. 2) I need to do a better job of sharing these photos right away. I have so many photos that are just sitting on my hard drive or in the cloud. So, again, expect more links soon.

Quick Review: Vacation

I saw Vacation a week ago, but didn't quite know how to feel about it. I know it comes from the National Lampoon series of films starring Chevy Chase and Beverly D'Angelo as Clark and Ellen Griswold, but I've never seen any of them. I was aware of the general plot and a few of the jokes of the original. In the new one -- which is a combination of a remake, sequel and reboot, a tricky thing to pull off...wait, I have it: it's a resequeboot! -- Griswold son Rusty (Ed Helms) takes his wife (Christina Applegate, so good at comedy) and their sons on a road trip to Walley World in California, essentially recreating the trip he, sister Audrey and his parents took years before. So I decided to watch the original (unfortunately, just an edited version on basic cable) and compare and contrast. Maybe you may think that's unfair to the new film, because why shouldn't it be judged on its own merits? Well, too bad. My blog, my rules!

Many of the scenarios are basically the same. Both Griswold families have encounters with strangers that end up in their losing money and having their already-inferior vehicles wrecked, both include a stop to visit family, both feature ongoing encounters during the trip with young women. But there are tweaks: for example, while Clark gets attention from a bombshell (Christie Brinkley) in a convertible, in the new film it's Rusty's shy older son James (Skyler Gisondo, who's actually pretty good) who is infatuated with a girl his own age. BTW, the gag that involves a new version of Brinkley's drive in the convertible is brilliant. Too bad it was given away in the trailers.

For me, the new Vacation usually, though not by a large margin, fell a little short of the original in terms of plot. Still, the new one started more slowly but got stronger during the second half. One major failure that lowers my grade a bit: both Chase and D'Angelo appear near the end of the resequeboot (can we make my new word viral, please?) but he gets some funny stuff to do and plays a bit of a role in helping Rusty and family get to Walley World. She gets maybe a couple of inconsequential lines. I think one was "Oh, that's too bad." Tsk. Let's hope that in 30 years, when James Griswold takes his family on the very same trip, Christina Applegate gets more do to in her cameo. My grade: C-plus.

Saturday, August 15, 2015

My Sports Tees And Miscellaneous Caps, Part 3

A mix of shirts and caps, mostly pretty old. In fact...

...this may be my oldest cap, even older than the Hare Jordan/Air Jordan cap from my last post. I worked here from 1987 to 1991. Each year they held sort of a company picnic-type event on their grounds and I'm pretty sure it was during one of these events that I got this. Haven't worn it in forever, but maybe I will soon?

...and these shirts (official locker room editions from the 1993 NL East and National League Champions) are almost 22 years old! The first one looks it, from the sweat stains on the neckline and armpits. I have an idea of getting a clear (unwrinkled) picture of the logo and having a new shirt made.

I can't remember exactly when or how I got this. I'm guessing it may have been part of some TV-related prize package I won. This is the latter-day PRISM logo, not too long before it was finally shut down. Here's the network's Wikipedia page if you don't remember (or weren't born yet) when PRISM carried some Phillies, Flyers and 76ers games for many years before Comcast Sportsnet was created, or if you just want to see the old logo.

For a short time there was a Spencer's Gifts on South Street. When the store had its going-out-of-business sale I stopped in and bought this for, at most, $3.00. Why? 1962 is my birth year and I am both vintage and an American Classic.

I stayed at this hotel off the Las Vegas strip in 2006. Not sure if I was given this as part of some promotion or if I actually bought it. It's since been renamed. Not a bad place, other than being off the strip.

This is my newest cap, bought recently at Dick's Sporting Goods when I was out in the sun and desperately needed a cap to keep the sun off my recently opened-up skull. Some of the proceeds go to the Wounded Warrior Project, obviously.
And finally, my three Chase Utley t-shirts. He's hitting .500 since coming off the disabled list recently, and he could be traded any day now. What I'd do in the off-season is dump Ryan Howard -- release him if no one wants to trade for him, and when Utley is a free agent after the season (and assuming he's healthy the rest of the season) I'd see if he can be enticed back to the Phillies at a reasonable salary to play first base semi-regularly and a few starts at second. I doubt it will happen, though...