SIDEBAR
»
S
I
D
E
B
A
R
«
Dragon Quest IX and Inception [GO/FB]
Jul 20th, 2010 by Dan

Dragon Quest IX: Sentinels of the Starry Skies - Nintendo World Store launch pictures slime

What a weekend!

It started with a craving to see Inception on an IMAX screen and was filled with slime and questing. Some quick words on both.

Inception

I don’t think it has quite enough to supplant The Dark Knight as my favorite Nolan film, but it’s certainly up there with his best work. The less you know about Inception, the better. Seriously. I’ll have something more substantial up later, but for now I want to stay relatively spoiler free. All I’ll say is that Tom Hardy is now definitely on my radar, Ellen Page did precisely what I love in her movies without being a pretentious-seeming teen like in Juno, Joseph Gordon-Levitt was fantastic and hilarious in a role much better than in (500) Days of Summer, DiCaprio continues to impress with his post-Titanic roles, Marion Cotillard has, like Tom Hardy, become one of my new favorites, and Ken Watanabe was also fantastic, if unintelligible, in the movie. Special mention to Dileep Rao for bringing humor and eccentricity to an otherwise tiny role. His tiny quirks made Yusef a funny character to witness.

The movie plot is brilliant and the concept is so meta that it makes me love it even more. You should definitely see this in theaters, it will wow you, especially if you know next to nothing going in.

Dragon Quest IX

It doesn’t have the stronger narrative ties of V because the characters are supposed to be ciphers, but I don’t think that Horii has sacrificed much in the way of his storytelling ability. The quests and experiences seem relatively trite to the uninitiated, but the thing about DQ games is that there is skillful storytelling in even the most basic of stories. I can see the emotion and the attention to detail that remains and I love the puns introduced by the localization team. So far so good, just gotta find more time to play it.

In the meanwhile, enjoy a nice bit of Dragon Quest cosplay.

Cute Dragon Quest cosplay

Mother 3 Review [Big N]
Jan 12th, 2010 by Dan

Great Mother 3 art

Wallpaper courtesy Pet-Shop on DeviantArt

Ruminations on video games as an art form – this could very well become a Mother 3 review. There will be spoilers here. Seriously, don’t read it if you want to play Mother 3 and not have the plot spoiled.

There’s a trite comparison that floats around the internet almost every month that always gets my eyes rolling. Inevitably, someone will call such-and-such the Citizen Kane of video games or ask what the Citizen Kane is or claim that the medium is immature because we’ve yet to hit our Citizen Kane. It’s exhausting and, quite frankly, futile and stupid. To begin with, Citizen Kane opened with good reviews and was generally well-received, but it didn’t start to gain notoriety for ten years. It didn’t even make #1 on a top movies list until twenty years had passed. When the Citizen Kane of gaming hits (god I hate that phrase), we probably won’t know it for quite some time. The more important point is that movies and games are apples and oranges.

The day that we stop worrying about whether books or movies are better than games at expressing a particular artist’s point of view is probably the day that we’ll realize that we’ve already got fine examples of games that are reflections of authorial control already. Brütal Legend was not a great game, but Tim Schafer’s hands are clearly evident all over it. Anyone who’s ever played one of Fumito Ueda’s games knows precisely how a game can effectively be used to bring out your emotions through simple mechanics. Goichi Suda (AKA Suda 51) has been making games that show clear, artistic direction through his use of bizarre symbols and incomprehensible plots for years. My point is, we’ve been here for a while.

You may have heard of Shigesato Itoi, but chances are, you have no clue that he’s one of the most famous and respected men in Japan to such a degree that his dog was probably the most recognizable animal in the entire country for a few years. In America, we know him as a video game designer, specifically the man behind Earthbound, but not much else. Interestingly enough, Itoi is actually more famous for being an essayist, interviewer, and slogan generator than his work for Nintendo. His association with Hayao Miyazaki is well known enough that he’s famous for the Kiki’s Delivery Service slogan (“Ochikondari mo shita kedo, watashi wa genki desu” — “I was a little depressed for a bit; I’m okay now”) and he even voiced Mei’s father in My Neighbor Totoro (a role that went to Phil Hartman (rest in peace) when the movie was dubbed in English).

In his younger days, Itoi found himself sick and unable to do much but play Nintendo as he recovered. It was in this state that he discovered Dragon Quest, which set the wheels turning in his head. This experience was the impetus behind the Mother series and led to Itoi’s long, fruitful relationship with Nintendo. In case you were wondering (protip: you probably weren’t), Shigesato Itoi is the guy who came up with the name for the Game Boy. True fact.

It’s not surprising to me that most of the names I’ve mentioned were not always video game designers. The most bizarre of the bunch, Suda, was an undertaker before he tried his luck in the video game industry while Ueda was an artist and the aforementioned Itoi was a…well there’s no easy word to describe someone like Itoi. He was (and is) a cultural personality.

“If you immerse yourself too single-mindedly in your chosen art form, whether it’s video games, movies, comics or whatever,” he continues, “your work can easily become just a reflection of what others are doing in that field, rather than breaking new ground.”

Jordan Mechner

Now, Schafer is, himself, a product of the industry, having held no other jobs, but he’s the exception, a true creative mind that is not crippled by his feedback loop of doom. Monkey Island, Day of the Tentacle, Psychonauts, and Brütal Legend could not be more different from each other, but just think of how rare this is. For every Schafer or Ken Levine out there trying to bring new influences into the industry, there are tons of Star Wars- and Lord of the Rings-inspired games produced each year retreading on the same, tired stories game in and game out. How many World War II games do we really need?

BOING!

In 1989 Shigesato Itoi looked at the video game industry and said “How many sword and sorcery RPGs do we really need?” 2009 just passed us by and I’d say we’re still mostly mired in these medieval locales in 95% of all RPGs. Mother, Itoi’s freshman attempt at a video game, was set in “modern day” America. Earthbound (Mother 2) wasn’t exactly breaking with Itoi’s norm by being set in America yet again (in 1994), but it’s still a light among the sameness that pervaded the industry. Mother 3 is ambiguous about its timeline, but it feels like a scaled back modern day. In any case, like in the other games of the series, the weapons aren’t swords and bows, but sticks, yo-yos, and baseball bats. It’s really only a cosmetic and tonal shift, but it makes all the difference.

That’s exactly what makes Shigesato Itoi so great as a game designer. Perhaps it’s his outside status or maybe it’s just his brilliance, but Itoi understands video games to a scary degree for a man who only undertook them on a whim. I applaud him most for understanding that a game is an interactive piece of art and reflecting that with his systems. To wit, every Mother game revolves around music. The first game had the character searching for the Eight Melodies while the second repeated that idea with Eight Sanctuaries (each with a musical theme associated with it). Earthbound’s instruction manual (in Japanese) contained a little song that Itoi wrote for the player to sing as the main melody played on the overworld. Every line of text in the Mother series is written in kana (katakana or hiragana), so that the person has to vocalize Itoi’s often lyrical writing style. Mother 3’s focus on musical themes and leifmotifs (from the Masked Man to the Magypsies) is also emphasized through every character’s attacks in the battle system.

From Lucas to Salsa the Monkey, every character has a musical instrument associated with his attacks. So does every enemy. Each enemy also has a musical theme that plays in the background. Once you attack, you can continue to press the ‘A’ button to extend your combo to 16 hits if you can keep time with the (sometimes fiendishly difficult) beat. Just like that, something Itoi has always wanted the player to do (become musically involved with his world) becomes integrated into the activity the player does most in the game, battling.

Itoi also loves to toy with player perception to a hilarious degree. In an early sequence in the first chapter of the game, Flint becomes covered with soot after saving a friend’s kid from a fire. Why? Because that’s what would happen if you were running around in a fire. As he makes his way back out of the woods, you can bet that every person you talk to will question why you are covered from head to toe in black soot. Even better, if you hop into a hot spring to recover, the soot will wash off of your character from the neck down, since the Mother 3 hot spring animation always leaves the head exposed. It’s not until much later when it starts to rain that the soot washes off Flint’s face, this time to emphasize that we’re not joking around anymore, Flint’s family was still missing after the fire and they were almost certainly in danger.

An even more brilliant sequence comes much later in the game when the player is washed upon a tropical island with 1 HP and no equipment. The only way to progress through the jungle without dying is to eat one of the psychotropic mushrooms growing on the island. A bizarre sequence of events follows as you make your way to the next Magypsy with your perceptions completely torn asunder. Replicas of your family and friends attack you, which isn’t that unique for an RPG, but the way the narrative is presented and the visuals are warped, it becomes seriously unsettling. The one moment of calm comes when you arrive at another hot spring and recover, only to continue back into the horrors of the jungle.

Once you get to the Magypsy’s house, you’re constantly bombarded with insults about how bad you smell. It makes no sense though, because the player has done nothing different that would cause such a foul smell. Still, when your perception is returned to normal, there is a visible stench rising from Lucas and his compatriots. A quick dip in the bath follows and you’re no longer “smelly”, but, as a curious player, I wondered what had happened in the first place. Instead of continuing forward, I dove right back into the jungle to get to the bottom of it. halfway through, I was feeling a bit fatigued, so I popped on over to the hot springs and it all made sense. In my hallucinogenic state, I was unable to recognize that the pond I dove into for recovery was a festering, toxic-looking garbage dump of a pond. Off to the side, where no conceivable player would ever go, was a door into the real hot spring.

I couldn’t believe that some players would never find out the mystery behind why they were so smelly. Returning to that hot spring is hardly mandatory. Maybe that’s why it felt so amazing to see these little narrative games played with my perception of what was going on in the Mother 3 world at the time. It’s also interesting to look at from a player trust perspective, because when I saw that disgusting pond, rendered in all its GBA, low-fi glory, I felt nauseous and I know it was partly due to a feeling of betrayal. I have a feeling that this was exactly how Itoi wanted me to feel at that point.

Shigesato Itoi admits that the original draft for Mother 3 was way darker than it already is. It was written shortly after his divorce was finalized, which I think has a lot to do with the emotional betrayals of even the finalized version of this game. However this game was very nearly vaporware that was never released. Its development started for the SNES in 1994, but was quickly shifted to the N64 and the ill-fated 64DD not long after. Anyone familiar with the 64DD peripheral knows that this was going to prove troublesome for Itoi and his team. The game was even canceled at one point, but it was eventually decided to put it on the Gameboy Advance and announced around the re-release of Mother 1 + 2, no doubt to help drum up sales.

No one but the team knows just how dark the original narrative was, but Itoi claims that the story that eventually made it to print was the result of him finally becoming a good person. It boggles the mind to realize that it could have been any more dramatic, especially for a game that looks as friendly and cute as this one. In fact, this is the reason why Nintendo of America claims it will not localize the game. They claim the narrative is too mature and depressing for the way it looks and, really, the tone and the subject matter are alternatively irrelevant and deathly serious, so I kind of get what they mean. At one point you have a guy telling Flint that he’s got good news and bad news. The good news is something irrelevant and stupid while the bad news is that Flint’s wife, Hinawa, is dead. What follows is a scene that is so emotionally gripping that my little brother was affected even without hearing the music and sound associated with the scene. Flint completely flips out and starts beating on the guy who gave him bad news and even starts lashing out at the townspeople who are trying to calm him down. He is knocked out by a friend and put in a jail cell that has never before been used in the town’s existence.

It’s this weird juxtaposition of the inane and the deathly serious that creates the dissonant feelings I mentioned before with the hot tub scene and makes the player feel uneasy about what’s going on. When Hinawa’s father, Alec, is trying to tell stupid jokes to help Flint not be so tense about the certain danger his son is in. I wanted to tell him to shut up and let him focus, but I could also see that Flint was obsessing to a dangerous degree and that Alec was right in trying to calm him down. You also have the lighthearted love story of Salsa and Samba being ruined by the brutal and sadistic torturer Yokuba (Fassad in the fan-translation). It’s like Itoi is trying to say that the world is a screwed up place, but you can’t let it get you down.

I’ll tell you right here, I’m a huge sucker for any story about brothers. Later on in the game, it becomes fairly obvious that Mother 3 starts to center around the struggle of twin brothers Lucas and Claus as they attempt to collect more plot coupons than the other. The game series is called Mother for a reason and this one in particular focuses on the differences between each of Hinawa’s boys and how they came to deal with her untimely death. While Lucas comes out of his shell and becomes a healthier, more assertive and confident boy despite his absentee father, Claus foolishly rushes out for vengeance and finds himself enslaved by the Pig Army in its quest to end the world. The climactic final battle reunites the family once again, but the reunion is bittersweet. Claus has almost killed Flint and Lucas must face him alone to the death, even though he’s yet to realize that the Masked Man is his brother. Once the mask is knocked off and Lucas is staring into his own face (they are twins after all), the battle becomes a masterpiece. Selecting attack will cause Lucas to intentionally pull his punches or miss his attacks completely. Sometimes he’ll even refuse to comply. Claus, having lost most of his humanity, will continue to attack until Hinawa begins pleading for him to stop. Eventually, Claus comes to his senses and realizes that Lucas is his brother and that he is no longer anything close to himself. At that point, Claus commits suicide in a peculiar way. It becomes apparent that the Courage Badge that Flint gave to Lucas (via a Mr. Saturn in another example of absentee parenting) is actually a Franklin Badge, an item that repels lightning in the Mother world.

The heartbreaking thing about this whole sequence is that there’s nothing the player can do once Claus decides that he must kill himself to save the world. Lucas may not be physically (or psychically) killing his brother, but there’s nothing he can do but watch his brother kill himself using an item that he is holding. When it’s all over and Claus is dying in Lucas’ arms with Flint nearby and Hinawa’s ghost above them, the reunion is finally completed and the family is happy for a brief second before both Claus and Hinawa depart the world leaving Lucas to pull the last plot coupon. The world literally ends and it all fades to black. Everyone (who was alive before) is still alive in the finale, but the world is darkness and it’s not made clear what the true outcome of the whole battle was. We do know that the world is safe and everyone makes it, but not much else beyond that, it’s left to the player to decide, I guess.

If you want to really see a strangely tragic, chilling ending for a character, consider the fate of Porky, the antagonist in the game. The conflict in this game is motivated by his desire to see the world end. Porky’s mind was so warped by Giygas in Earthbound that he has remained in a permanent immature, childlike state even though he is now hundreds of years old. His influence corrupts and nearly destroys everything about the idyllic and peaceful Tazmily village and he is the one responsible for sapping Claus of all of his humanity. In his final encounter with Lucas, when it becomes apparent that he will not win the battle, he encases himself in the Absolutely Safe Machine, a capsule that renders him absolutely safe from all attacks both interior and exterior. Because it was just a prototype, there was no way to escape it, meaning that the ageless Porky can never die, but he can never leave the capsule nor can he communicate with anyone on the outside. For someone like Porky, an agent of entropy like the Joker in The Dark Knight, this is truly an ending worse than death. When all is dead and gone, when the universe dies of heat death, when existence is nothingness, Porky will still exist, alone in that capsule. It gives me chills just to think about it.

There’s so much about this game that just doesn’t quite add up and leaves the player feeling strange about the relationships they are seeing. Duster, the limping thief, is very clearly verbally and probably physically abused by his father, Wess, yet they seem to be a team and there does seem to be some love there. It’s unsettling on all levels because Itoi wants to take the player from comfortable and happy to uneasy and sad throughout the whole game.

Games like this, they make me appreciate things, like my family and my life, and think about things, like the nature of society and happiness. I’m being simplistic here, but my point is this, what is art? Wikipedia calls it, “…the process or product of deliberately arranging elements in a way that appeals to the senses or emotions.”

So I say yet again, why are we questioning whether or not video games are art? Wake up and smell the sunflowers.

One of the most interesting and artistic chapters of the game.

The Best Movies of the Decade [Filmmakers Bleed]
Dec 29th, 2009 by Dan

In no particular order…

Memento (2000)

Guess what readers, this post is more or less one giant love letter to Christopher Nolan. With the exception of Insomnia, this list contains every movie the man’s directed since Memento (NOTE: Insomnia is not bad, it’s just not best of the decade caliber). Memento does what Christopher Nolan is known for doing very well. It shifts time and perspective (since each time episode is essentially a different Leonard with no memories of the previous events) just as well here as in future Nolan movies like Batman Begins and The Prestige. If you’ve never seen this crazy exercise in perception and memory, you’re doing yourself a major disservice. Go rent it.

WALL-E (2008)

Pixar really has a way of making you care about inanimate objects. Toys, cars, and now a robot. WALL-E has so much charm and character that it’s impossible not to love him (although I know people who do). In what is both a cautionary tale about waste and a love story between two robots, there are genuine characters who speak maybe three or four different lines of dialogue and get the audience to care about their plight like it was an Oscar-bait drama. Pixar’s best work to date.

Kiss Kiss Bang Bang (2005)

You probably didn’t see Robert Downey, Jr.’s best movie of the decade, but you can bet that this movie pushed him front and center for what you might think his best movie was (Iron Man). KKBB doesn’t seem like it should be so good. Its name is kind of generic and I don’t even remember hearing about it before it came out. In fact, I have no idea how it ended up on my movie queue, but it was an instant favorite that I had to share with my roommate. Bonus points to Val Kilmer for his brilliant acting as a sarcastic private detective.

Ghost Town (2008)

My favorite romantic comedy of the decade stars a pudgy British comedian and does not feature one kiss between the two leads. Ghost Town is different, but in all the best ways. Ricky Gervais’ character experiences the same clichéd character development that you’d expect in a role like this, but it still feels fresh thanks to his odd sense of humour. It also features a romantic rival who is not that bad a guy and is one of the few Gervais projects that doesn’t feature extended, super-awkward scenes. Definitely worth watching.

Mean Girls (2004)

I know, it seems really lame for a guy to love this movie, but Tina Fey’s writing is so sharp that this movie can’t help but be good. Sure, it meant that we had to deal with Lindsay Lohan for a long while after, but that’s mostly done with now and we can enjoy Tina and Rachel McAdams and everything else about this movie that’s so well put together. As an added bonus to me, the book the movie was based on was written based on the behavior of girls at the National Cathedral School, a rival all-girl private school to Holton-Arms, which some of my good friends attended, so I’m glad it gives them some bad press.

The Prestige (2006)

Oh? Is it time to praise Christopher Nolan again? How often do you see a movie based on a book that is far superior to its source material? This tale of dueling magicians in 19th century England is engaging and interesting to the bitter end. Most people’s only complaints with the movie have to do with its sci-fi plot twist, but I guess it’s probably because they don’t realize that this movie is not firmly based in reality until about 4/5 of the way in. Regardless, it’s a fantastic story and all of its roles are spectacularly acted. The narrative structure is also unique and interesting as the magicians invade the personal lives of their rivals through their diaries. A definite must see.

Snatch (2000)

There’s one thing that Guy Ritchie does well and it’s gangster films, but, given the choice, I’d say Snatch takes the prize for his best work. It’s funny, has great plot twists, and great, quotable characters.

Rent (2005)

Should this even count? It may come from the ’90s and portray NYC in the ’80s, but this musical made the transition to film quite nicely, preserving most of its atmosphere and earning its place as one of three musicals on this list.

Slumdog Millionaire (2008)

Who said that fairy tales were dead in modern society? Slumdog Millionaire is just a great movie. The narrative structure that revolves around the interrogation of Jamal Malik and his answers on Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? works beautifully and the trials and tribulations of the characters make for great drama. Will you be surprised by the ending of the film? Of course not. Will you be able to resist tapping your toes to the music of the closing number? Only if you lack a soul.

Batman Begins (2005)

Talk about a challenge. Batman movies were absolutely dead before Christopher Nolan’s adaptation. In fact, I’d go so far as to blame Batman and Robin (1997) for killing superhero movies until Spider-Man came around in 2002. All it took was hiring a real director and a close look at the source material to come up with this fantastic adaptation of one of the oldest superheroes in the business. Nolan was right in getting rid of the cheese factor and trying to make the character seem more realistic than he’d been portrayed before. His choice of antagonists, Scarecrow and Ra’s al Ghul, were great choices in establishing a world based more in reality than the earlier movies created by using Penguin, Mr. Freeze, and Poison Ivy and paved the way for the amazing direction he took for The Joker. Batman Begins is proof that a superhero movie can be as great as other movies.

City of God (Portuguese: Cidade de Deus) (2002)

Powerful in the same ways that Slumdog Millionaire explored its slums, City of God is unapologetic in its portrayal of favela life in Brazil. Splitting up the story into arcs and showing how one man can seize power and create hell through the eyes of an outsider proved to be an effective narrative technique. This movie is heavy, but it’s also quite good.

21 Grams (2003)

Another hyper-depressing movie, this time centered around a car crash with three fatalities and the fates of the people involved: the man who killed the three people, the wife and mother of the two boys and man who died in the crash, and the man who received a heart in a transfusion. I haven’t seen it in years, but it’s quite good (far better than Babel).

Juno (2007)

Yeah, no high school kid talks like her. Sure, this movie made being a hipster seem cool and caused your friends to act like insufferable idiots. Yes, Michael Cera has gone on to be pretty annoying since this movie and Arrested Development. Beyond all that, it’s still a funny movie with witty, fun dialogue. Bonus points awarded for having Jason Bateman in it.

Garden State (2004)

While we’re on the subject of movies that spawned annoying indie-ness, Garden State did it first back during my freshman year of college. I admit, part of why I like this movie so much has to do with my trek down to Cinemopolis in downtown Ithaca, but I actually enjoyed this movie. I might have a different opinion if I watched it now, but it always seemed to me that Zach Braff didn’t overdo it here with the pretentiousness. It’s also worth stating that Peter Sarsgaard is a fantastic actor in almost everything he does and that this movie proves that Natalie Portman is not as bad an actor as the prequels might lead you to believe.

Casino Royale (2006)

I don’t care what you say, but old-school James Bond was stupid. More of a superhero than a spy, he had ridiculous gadgets and was just plain campy. I think it took Austin Powers for me to fully understand how dumb the whole thing really was. Funny thing about Casino Royale is that its reinvention of the wheel stems instead from a return to source material. The Bond of CR is a brutal killer closer to a sociopath than the suave secret agent that we grew up with. Unfortunately, the second in this new series went and screwed it all up with poor casting and poor cinematography, but I like the direction this new Bond is going and I have high hopes for the future of the series.

Up (2009)

Pixar just keeps hitting them out of the park. WALL-E was fantastic and Up came along right after to prove that a movie for children can be just as mature as a movie for adults. I won’t spoil the plot too much, but let’s just say the opening 20 minutes or so will break your heart, if you’ve got one. A truly great cartoon about a man dealing with regret and clinging to his past, but eventually moving on.

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004)

The best way I’ve heard this movie described is “A love story that starts after the love is gone.” ESofSM does many things well as it examines the memories of this failed relationship as they are yanked away from Jim Carrey’s mind while he struggles against that very darkness he hired them to create. Another great movie that I haven’t seen in too long. I should pull this out sometime soon.

Forgetting Sarah Marshall (2008)

Since we’re talking about movies that deal with relationships ending, let’s push right on into a completely different type of movie. FSM is on my list because I think that, despite all the ridiculous exaggerations of the peripheral characters, the way that all of the actors interact with each other seems real. It’s a genuinely funny movie with good acting and hilarious situations.

Children of Men
(2006)

With a plot remarkably similar to Y: The Last Man in many respects, this post-apocalyptic look at a world scarred by a lack of childbirth is just awesome to watch. Fresh off the success of Sin City, Clive Owen, this time with his natural accent, stars and kicks ass in all kinds of believable ways as he escorts the first pregnant woman in ages to a research vessel. This movie makes the list more for its look than anything else. That last scene in the refugee camp where Clive Owen is chased by the military and the terrorists is stunningly shot. The end scenes also remind me a lot of Half-Life 2. Great movie.

Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog (2008)

Strangely enough, I’d never seen anything by Joss Whedon until I saw DHSAB. I wouldn’t quite call myself a browncoat yet, but this movie inspired me to start checking out and loving his work. Neil Patrick Harris and Nathan Fillion really need to start alongside each other in more things, because they’re dynamite on screen. This is my favorite musical of the modern age and you should watch it if you haven’t seen it.

The Dark Knight (2008)

One man is responsible for making this film truly great: Heath Ledger. His portrayal of The Joker was beyond amazing. The interrogation scene (and the rescue that follows) still gives me chills every time I watch it. Like no other man in film or comics, Ledger really understood that The Joker is a force of chaos and entropy. It really is too bad that it will never happen again due to Heath Ledger’s sad death. The Dark Knight is the greatest superhero movie of all time.

Insomnia Review [Filmmakers Bleed]
Jun 25th, 2009 by Dan

I’m a huge Christopher Nolan fan, but I somehow missed out on his third movie, Insomnia, back when it came out in 2002. Now that I’ve seen it, I can now say that I’ve seen all but one Nolan movie, the sole movie that escapes me being Following, which he made in 1998 and is way indie. So, needless to say, I’m about to tell you all about how much I enjoyed this movie and why. Turn back if that’s good enough for you and just go and rent the movie. The rest of you, spoilers are coming.

The plot revolves around LA cop Will Dormer, expertly played by Al Pacino, who is sent to Nightmute, Alaska with his partner Hap Eckhart (Martin Donovan) to investigate a murder. Why do LAPD need to be sent up to wipe up an AK mess? It seems that Dormer planted some evidence to force a conviction, causing Internal Affairs to come down on him and Hap, who presumably do this fairly regularly. Their boss sent them out there to get away from some of the heat. It also seems that Hap is on the verge of turning Dormer in to win immunity for him and his family. Things are tense. They get a lot more tense when Dormer accidentally shoots Hap in the fog and feels he has to cover it up, lest IA come down even harder on his ass.

It’s kind of a birds-eye view of the plot, but I think it’s good enough. The other main characters are played by Hilary Swank (the earnest, honest small-town cop), Maura Tierney (the proprietor of the lodge that Pacino is staying at), and Robin Williams (the murderer). There are a few other important parts, but these three round out the already brilliant cast and really contribute a lot to the movie. Robin Williams can be…overbearing in a lot of his parts, but he rightly plays this one with just the right amount of gravity. His character, Walter Finch, writes crummy detective novels and acts like you’d expect a murderer novelist living in Alaska to act. Quiet, calm, creepy, rational, and slightly manipulative. Swank’s Ellie Burr is just what you think she is. She idolizes Dormer and wants to be big time. She’s a touch too naïve. She can’t quite get the respect she deserves. Maura Tierney’s character just has a quiet dignity to her as you realize that she, too, is in Alaska to escape something, but, guess what, it’s not important what it is.

Insomnia is the movie’s title for a reason. See, in this part of Alaska, the sun never goes down during the summer months. Dormer, already having toruble sleeping due to his IA-related stress, is troubled even further by the perpetual daylight, causing him to go for six straight days without sleeping. While Nolan uses this to some effect, cinematically, I think that he could have gone much further with artistically expressing the exhaustion and stress caused by Dormer’s affliction. Some might argue that this would take away from the strength of the narrative and make it into a gimmicky movie, which is possibly why Nolan did not do this, since it immediately followed Memento.

Light plays a strong symbolic significance, as you might expect, standing in for the pervasive truth, while the fog goes and represents the lies and Dormer’s misdeeds. Since all of the movie takes place in the light, one would think that there would be no suspense or danger, but the exhaustion of Dormer is so well-represented and Alaska is so empty most of the time that there is actually an acute sense of claustrophobia in some scenes. One particular standout is when Dormer gets trapped underneath logs floating down a waterway. The logs keep him underwater and there is real fear from the lack of air combined with one of the few instances where light becomes scarce in the movie.

Nolan did a fantastic job with this movie, as he always does, but I can’t help but feel that this movie was a little too safe, especially considering some of the daring narrative choices that he’s made with Memento, The Prestige, and even The Dark Knight. I’m actually kind of surprised that this movie didn’t come before Memento, because of how normal it seems. That’s not to say that it’s bad, it’s definitely a top-notch, well-acted crime drama that’s worth watching. Rent it or buy it if you can.

Dark Knight, MGS5 [Filmmakers Bleed/Game Overview]
Dec 18th, 2008 by Dan

The Dark Knight

I saw The Dark Knight twice on Blu-Ray this week and after three viewings, this movies still undoubtably holds its own as the best movie in the summer and even fits into my top five of all time.

What Christopher Nolan did with this movie was incredible, creating a superhero movie that feels decidedly not like a superhero movie (in that nothing that happens in it is that far beyond what you’d see in any action movie), and still retains a sense of cinematic integrity and depth beyond any Batman movie before it (save, perhaps Batman Begins).

A superb piece of cinema. I cannot wait for the sequel, especially if Nolan directs again.

MGS5?

It really is a surprise, considering how much of the early life of this blog was devoted to Metal Gear Solid 4, that I haven’t mentioned this yet at all. There’s a teaser site out there about about Metal Gear hinting at some sort of new product. I would get the link for you now, but I don’t have access now, so I’ll do it later on, perhaps tomorrow. The general crux of the teaser is that it’s an all black site with an upside down exclamation point (or an ‘i’) plus an exclamation point is equal to a power sign, with the power sign part being an exclamation point. It looks something like this:

i + ! = power sign with exclamation point instead of a vertical dash

Underneath it says “A NEXT METAL GEAR IS” or some other Engrish-y sounding phrase. Speculation is rampant as to what this might be. The fact that the writing is all in green makes it look like it could be MGS4 on the Xbox 360. The ‘i’ and ‘!’ makes it look like it might be a sequel to Metal Gear Ac!d. No one knows yet and we’re all anxiously awaiting (unless the news has spread by now and I’ve missed it since I’m behind on gaming news).

A 360 announcement would be devastating to PS3 loyalists, but untimately intelligent for Konami, a company that probably loves to make money.

I’m hoping it’s for a new Metal Gear game, although I do hope that there’s no Solid Snake in it, his story is over.

Uncat: Back!
Aug 5th, 2008 by Dan

Well readers, I’m finally back from Florida where my friends are getting married and so I thought I’d let you know a little bit about upcoming coverage on the site.

While I was down in Tampa I managed to get myself out to a Rays game against the Tigers courtesy of my younger brother. I’ve been to Tropicana Field before, but not since the name/uniform change, so it was good to see the stadium again. Expect a stadium review (the first of many) tomorrow with the sports update.

MLB Power Pros 2008 is awesome! I’ve been mainly focusing on constructing what will become my expansion team: the Alaska Yetis, so I’ve created 12 of the 25 men on the active roster. Expect crappy screenshots of my team (I’ll probably use a digital camera, since I don’t know how to take screen grabs) and season updates once that team actually gets off the ground.

The new game appears to have made considerable improvements and tweaks to the old formula. Once I’m done exploring the Success mode and I start to delve into the rest of the game, expect a review.

News doesn’t stop and I’ve missed tons of it, expect coverage of the bigger stories I might have missed.

I should actually get around to watching The Dark Knight this week, so expect a review once I’ve seen it.

Most importantly, you may have to expect another short hiatus as I have yet another wedding to attend this week that I’m actually a part of. Good to be back in the meanwhile and I’ll do try and get some advanced articles written to avoid another hiatus.

Grand Slam: The MLB All-Star Game
Jul 16th, 2008 by Dan

This will be in a sort of liveblog fashion.

First off, let me state that I hope we’ll get a NL win this year, I’m so tired of seeing the NL lose to those AL jerks…

Lineup announcements:

Slight cheering in the NL until they reach Mets players, then booing. How great is that?

In AL, booing at the Red Sox players. Yankees fans can do something right, I guess? If only I can get them to boo the Yankees too.

First commercial break:

I’ve said this time and time again, Flomax commercials are like the male Tampax commercial…

House, M.D. has new doctors. Not sure if I like them…

Back to the game…More Lineup Introductions

Rollie Fingers has a great mustache

So does Goose Gossage, just not as ridiculous.

The whole Hall of Fame thing with the positions is actually really cool. In case you didn’t see, they’ve got a whole lineup of Hall of Famers standing at each position. They announce all of them and then the All-Star voted in goes up to that position and stands next to them.

I didn’t know Cal Ripken, Jr. was originally a shortstop. I guess as he aged they moved him to a less demanding position.

FUKUDOME! Yeah, expect to see a lot of that if he does well tonight.

Josh Hamilton kicked some major ass in the home run derby last night, it’s too bad he didn’t win.

Yogi Berra is way shriveled up. Got a lotta cheering though.

Second Comercial Break:

I’ve got to see Sarah Connor Chronicles one of these days.

National Anthem/First Pitch

Sheryl Crow was ruined for me by a work CD when I was at Busch Gardens. She plays it safe. I wanna see a José Feliciano type event. Stealth bomber flyover is cool though.

Goose Gossage, Reggie Jackson, Yogi Berra, and one other guy (I missed his name) pitch to a bunch of other Yankees. Neat event.

More Commercials

Can it really still be called Prison Break if they’re not in prison? Maybe they’re trying to make a statement about the free American life being a prison itself? Maybe I’m over thinking this…

More Pre-Game…Sheesh, Start it Already…

I really wish they weren’t tearing down Yankee Stadium. It’s got so much history and awesomeness…What a crazy choice by the Yankees.

Frutista Freeze

The Diamondbacks Taco Bell Frutista Freeze commercial is HILARIOUS. I hope it’s on Youtube later…

Game Time! Top of the 1st

Hanley strikes out =[

Cliff Lee is burning through the NL so far. Two strikeouts now in under ten pitches. Too bad Chase…

Berkman flies out to center. Sheesh…1. 2. 3 first inning.

No more commercial counting…

I’m pretty sure the new Mummy movie is gonna stink…

Lou Piniella fake screaming commercial is great. Maybe I’ll reference these commercials tomorrow? (SEE BELOW FOR EMBEDDED COMMERCIAL)

Bot 1

Ichiro flies out on like the first pitch.

Ugh…Jeter…He gets on with a hit that basically bounces against Utley’s face. Should have let Uggla start instead.

Bah…Jeter steals…

Hamilton strikes out. Two outs.

Now it’s A-Rod who pops out to Soto. That wraps up the first, with Soto slipping on a weighted bat getting that pop up.

Top 2nd

Pujols to A-Rod who tosses him out.

Chipper Jones gets a single. Man do I hate the Braves.

Matt Holliday moves Chipper to second, but is out at first.

Ryan Braun, the Hebrew Hammer, strikes out. Three outs.

Bot 2nd

Manny, Manny, Manny…almost hits a home run. Foul ball saves us. Chases one into the dirt and strikes out. Way to go Ben Sheets.

Milton Bradley, whose name is a board game company, steps up. By the way, I like seeing the players in their own team uniform instead of league uniforms. Sheets walks Milton. Camera spots him mouthing a giant F-bomb.

Kevin Youkilis, one of seven Red Sox involved in the game tonight. Shameful…Bradley steals, Soto fails to stop another stolen base. Youkilis’ batting stance is so stupid. Sheets strikes him out.

Holy cow, Ben Sheets got himself a $50,000 bonus for starting tonight.

Joe Mauer steps up. Draws a walk.

Another Red Sox player up to bat, it’s Dustin Pedroia. He has the most annoying batting glove adjusting routine between pitches. Without fail, he will adjust his gloves between each and every pitch. Drives me mad. He flies out to FU! KU! DO! ME!

Top of the Third

Joe Saunders comes out to pitch for the AL. Fukudome up to bat. He almost hits a homer, it goes wide left. FOX is being cheeky, Fukudome’s name and stats appear in Japanese. Ball goes to Youkilis, Fukudome is out.

Soto flies out to Hamilton. No good.

Stop interviewing Yogi Berra, you’re not calling the game very well when you do that.

Hanley’s back up! Hanley gets a base hit with a ball to right field.

Chase is back up for his second round. He hits a bouncer to Youkilis and is out.

Holy cow, Berra is short. I saw a highlight of him in his prime as a catcher, he’s a short kid.

Bot 3

Oh man…Step Brothers looks so stupid. Why do people pay Will Ferrell to be such an idiot?

Carlos Zambrano comes out to pitch against Ichiro. Ichiro gets a base hit to right on the second pitch. This is his 8th All-Star game and he hit the first ever inside the park home run in an All-Star game last year.

Jeter hits into a 6-4-3 double play. Two outs.

You know, nice work on kicking drugs and making your life get in line again Josh Hamilton, but I’m getting tired of hearing the story so often. I think it’s just cause I’m keeping on top of baseball coverage, so I’ll be soft on this point for the rest of the night. Hamilton hits into an out.

Top of the 4th

Roy Halladay takes over pitching duty for the AL against Lance Berkman. Sheesh, another strikeout.

Pujols is up. He hits a long one into the corner, but the slowpoke gets greedy and Ichiro tosses him out at second with ease. Slow motion shows that Pujols was actually safe, but no big deal.

Chipper hits out to Jeter. That’s three.

Bottom of the Fourth

Zambrano is still in the game against A-Rod. He strikes out. Yay!

Carlos almost hits Ramirez in the head with a breaking ball that gets loose. I like their neat little breakdown of the strike zone batting averages. Ball goes to Utley, he manages to catch it this time and tosses him out at first.

Milton Bradley up to bat again. He’s safe as Hanley’s toss is high. Hanley ends up getting an error.

Youk is up. Whoops, Bradley gets thrown out at first.

Commercials

I’m excited for Pineapple Express It’s gonna be funny. I haven’t seen Judd Apatow fail yet.

Upper 5th

Josh Hamilton is now in left field, Grady Sizemore is in center, Ervin Santana is pitching.

Matt Holliday is up to bat. HELL YES! Matt Holliday homers. At this point I’d like to mention that Matt Holliday is the top home run hitter of my fake MLB Power Pros team. He even broke the MLB record with somewhere around 150 homers in fake MLB land. Nice work Matt!

Braun hits it to Pedroia.

A-Rod comes out of the game for Joe Crede at third. My man Fukudome comes up. He strikes out with an uncharacteristically undisciplined swing. Wow, that was ugly.

Useless stat: There are 41 players on the All-Star lineup whose salaries are more than what it cost to build Yankee Stadium back in the day ($2.5 million)

Geovany Soto strikes out. That’ll be the end of that half of the inning.

Bottom 5th

Dan Haren on the mound, Nate McLouth in Center, and Russell Martin at the plate

Youkilis up to bat.flies to Holliday.

This was the first game since 1990 that was scoreless into the 4th.

Joe Mauer comes up to bat. He hits one over Haren, who knocks the ball slow and kills the play. Mauer at first. Ian Kinsler comes in as a pinch runner.

Dustin Pedroia up to bat. He’s doing that stupid glove thing again. Kinsler steals because Martin’s throw is too high. They could have had it if it was lower, I think, contrary to the announcer’s comments. Pedroia walks with Ichiro coming up. Bad move Dan Haren

For someone who is 43 years old, Sarah Jessica Parker’s kind of a hottie when she’s not in her ridiculous Sex and the City getup. She gave some presentation with Sheryl Crow and another dude about cancer before the game.

Ichiro strikes out (whew), but now Jeter’s up (uh oh)

He’s showing some discipline in the count, racking it up to a full count with two outs. It’s go time now Dan. Jeter hits it back to Haren, he catches it this time, tosses him out on first.

Piniella commercial again, I love it.

Couldn’t find

Top of the 6th

Justin Morneau on first, Ian Kinsler on second, Pedroia out, J.D. Drew in right, Jason Varitek at the plate.

Justin Duchscherer is pitching. What a long name. He pitches a great pitch to Hanley who gets a base hit with a ball to Left field.

Utley up to bat with Hanley on first. Apparently there are twelve players in the game who have never played a game in Yankee Stadium. This is Chase Utley’s first. Hit and run play, Utley gets a base hit to Right, Hanley gets himself all the way to third base with the cleanup hitters of the NL coming in. This means trouble for the AL.

Berkman up to bat. He hits one all the way back to the warning track. Sac fly for Berkman as Ramirez runs in. 2-0. Gross…Hanley gives Chipper a high five. I guess they’re on the same team, but still.

Derek Jeter comes out for Michael Young of the Rangers. Pujols comes up to bat. He doesn’t swing at a beautiful first pitch, but that’s ok. Base hit into center up the middle. Utley to second, Pujols to first.

Laaaaarry is up to bat. Chipper may have the highest batting average in the Majors and play for the National League, but I can’t put my Braves hatred aside. I silently pray that he gets out. Chipper strikes out. I am happy.

Holliday back up to bat. Pop fly to Kinsler. End of inning.

Bottom of the 6th

“You either discover a star or you don’t. You arrogant punk”

Adrian Gonzalez now at first. Dan Uggla at second. Miguel Tejada at short. Aramis Ramirez at third. Corey Hart in right.

Hamilton gets a base hit. Holy cow, I remember this guy’s story now. Back after the Marlins world series win there was an article in Sports Illustrated about how the Tampa Bay Devil Rays picked Josh Hamilton over Josh Beckett. Back then he was so stoned and suspended from baseball that it looked like a really stupid idea. I’m actually now really happy about this guy’s story. Too bad Tampa lost him, he’s really producing now. Good work dude.

Crede up to bat. Pops out to Uggla. What defensive work =p

Sizemore up to bat. Hamilton steals. Martin throws a WILD ball to second that goes into center. Fourth stolen base for the AL. Grady racks up a full count. He strikes out on a ball to the corner. You gotta swing at those buddy.

Bradley up to bat. He’s caused lots of trouble, but he flies out to McLouth in Center.

7-Up

Carlos Quinten in Left, Joe Nathan pitching.

Ryan Braun steps up to the plate. Things are gonna get tougher for both teams now with closers coming in to pitch. Ryan Braun has a really terrible check swing and strikes out.

Nate McLouth up to bat taking over for Fukudome (boo!). Fly ball to Grady Sizemore in Center. Two out.

Up to bat is Russell Martin for his first at bat. Another fly ball to Sizemore. 7th inning stretch time.

Josh Groban comes out to sing “God Bless America.” Whatever happened to “Take Me Out to the Ball Game”? This lanky kid has a deeper voice than one would expect. I guess the song is a classic, but I find “God Bless America” boring. What a voice Groban’s got on him though. Good stuff for a small guy.

Can’t wait to see Heath Ledger’s Joker soon. The Dark Knight should rock.

7-Down

Ryan Ludwick in Left. Edinson Volquez on the mound.

Justin Morneau at the plate. Hits one past Corey Hart in center to get a double.

Ian Kinsler up to bat. Grounder to Tejada. Morneau to third, Kinsler out at first.

Dioner Navarro of the Tampa Bay Rays comes up to bat for Jason Varitek. He stays at the plate for a while, racking up six pitches before striking up looking. Two outs.

J.D. Drew up to bat now. Damage control time Volquez, keep Morneau from scoring. Camera cuts to show former catcher Joe Girardi catching in the bullpen. That’s crazy to see a GM catching in the pen. J.D. Drew hits a homer to right. Tie game against the pitcher with the lowest ERA in the majors. Barely makes it over the fence too. Too bad the Yankees fans cheered this Red Sox home run.

Now up to bat, Michael Young. I’m starting to worry now. NL hasn’t won an All-Star game since 1996. I’d like to see this streak end. Young strikes out.

Top of the 8th

Dioner Navarro is catching now. Jonathan Papelbon is pitching. Greeted with boos. He supposedly said he should close the game, so the Yankees hate him.

Tejada up to bat. Single to Right field.

Dan Uggla up to bat. Strikes out on a terrible pitch.

Adrian Gonzalez up to bat. Tejada steals second and a bat throw gets him to third. Sac fly brings Tejada in. That could have been bad, but how awesome is that? NL has the lead.

David Wright up to bat for Pujols. He strikes out. Yankees fans boo Papelbon off the mound. I love it. If only there was another stadium full of people to boo Yankees fans tonight.

Bottom of the 8th

Roommate just made some cup noodles. He’s making me hungry for some cheap, salty noodles.

Carlos Quinten up to bat. Brian Wilson up to bat. NL leader in saves. He’s pitching poorly on his first two pitches. Fly ball to Nate McLouth in Center. One out.

Carlos Guillen pinch hits for Joe Crede. Francona out of bench players at this point. He’s supposedly the last substitution. What about Evan Longoria? Guillen gets up to a full count on seven pitches. He strikes out. That’s two.

Billy Wagner comes in for the last out in this inning. Sizemore up to bat. Longoria on deck. I saw Giuliani in the stands. Sizemore singles to right.

Evan Longoria up to bat for Milton Bradley. Was this wise? Bradley’s done one of the best offensive jobs in this game, but I guess they wanna give Evan a chance to hit. Sizemore steals second, this is bad…Martin doesn’t even throw. Longoria hits a double down the left field line. As much as I love the kid, I can’t help but be upset about the RBI ground rule double.

Morneau taps one to Wagner, Morneau out at first.

This is upsetting since Papelbon won’t get the loss and now the NL win is looking like it might be in dire straits, what with Mariano Rivera coming in to pitch.

I like the Cubs girls in that BoA commercial.

Top of the 9th!

Huh, I was wrong. K-Rod comes in. Francisco Rodriguez is pitching for the AL.

Aramis Ramirez up to bat. Aramis is taking some terrible swings. He takes it to a full count. The walk goes to Ramirez.

We watch Tejada’s stolen base again that brings the NL to three runs and then Sizemore’s run and Longoria’s hit.

Cristian Guzman pinch runs for Ramirez. Hart flies out to right.

Ryan Ludwick up to bat. K-Rod goes out of the game, Mariano Rivera comes in. They play “Enter Sandman.” Great music to come in on. Flashes all around the cheering stadium.

One on one out. Rivera has never missed a save opportunity this season…

Ludwick will have to do his best to get a hit. He’s having a disciplined at bat when he whiffs and brings the count up to 2-2. Cheers erupt from the crowd. You’d think he struck out. Full count. Strikes out. Guzman caught stealling at second by Navarro. End of the inning with a double play. Talk about dramatics. Wish it would have gone the other way.

Bottom of ze 9th

Is Bones any good? Saw a funny commercial tat makes me curious.

Ryan Dempster pitching to Ian Kinsler. He’s got a crazy pitch with wavy glove motions designed to confuse the batter, I guess. Francona’s kind of in trouble if this game continues, what with no position players left on his bench. Kinsler strikes out.

Dioner Navarro comes up to bat. That goofy glove motion is really strange to watch. I’m gonna have to see if they try to reproduce that in MLB Power Pros 2008. Dioner racks up a full count and then strikes out.

J.D. Drew comes up. Dempster will have to be careful. Full count again. Drew watches strike three. EXTRA INNINGS! Way to go Dempster! Three straight strike outs.

10p of the 10th

Nate McLouth up to bat. Rivera still pitching. How long can he hold out? Doesn’t really matter, since Francona has plenty of pitching left. He racks up a full count. Strikes out looking.

Russell Martin is up now. Interesting fact about Rivera, he only throws one non-fastball pitch, he just can move it in two directions. Martin is staying alive in this at bat with four foul balls and seven pitches before a base hit past Kinsler to Drew.

Miguel Tejada steps up to the plate. Let’s make something happen NL. Tejada gets a base hit down the middle past Young. I can see Rivera’s sad face as he sees the situation he’s in: runners on first and third.

Dan Uggla up to bat. Can he make a difference? Man I hope so. Marlins having a decent showing tonight, it would be sweet to see more. Uggla hits into a double play. Dammit…

Rivera gets lucky.

Bottom of the 10th

If Tejada had slid in, would we have seen a slower throw keep Uggla safe? Michael Young hits one to Uggla, it bounces out of his glove. Error.

Carlos Quentin up to bat. By the way, Aaron Cook is pitching. Ball smashes to Uggla under his glove. Runners at first and third. Error.

Uggla doesn’t get pulled from the game. He’s gotta feel terrible right now. I feel bad.

Cook intentionally walks Carlos Guillen. This is looking way dangerous.

Grady Sizemore up to bat. Outfield and infield playing in. No outs. Sizemore hits to Uggla. Dan catches it, tosses it home, gets the out.

Evan Longoria up to bat. Uh oh. Infield plays back for double play. Evan looks like this is the easiest thing he’s ever done. He’s laughing at the plate. Longoria to third. Guzman gets it, throws it home. Two outs. Come on NL, you can get out of this yet…

Now we see Morneau. My heart is beating rather quickly now. They keep showing Dan Uggla. Slow roller to Tejada who barely gets the toss off to first. What a save! Uggla is thanking the baseball gods right about now.

Let’s finish this up, please NL. I’ve got to go to work in the morning.

Top of the 11th

I’m pretty sure we won’t see Rivera when the 11th starts. We’ll probably see George Sherrill of the Orioles.

I’m wrong, Joakim Soria of the Royals is pitching instead. Adrian Gonzalez is up to bat. Base hit to Sizemore in center.

The announcers are talking about a potential Tie. I was pretty sure that baseball wasn’t gonna ever do that again.

David Wright steps up to bat. Whiffs his way to 0-2. Strikes out. Thanks dude.

We’re now up to Cristian Guzman with one out, man on first. He takes two quick strikes before popping out to Sizemore and getting the second out of the inning.

Corey Hart is now batting for the NL. Hart misses a pitch down the pipe. Misses another for a 2-2 count. Pops out to J.D. Drew in Right.

:sigh: Bottom of the 11t

Ian Kinsler lines to center for a base hit.

Dioner Navarro. Looks to bunt, but abandons on the next pitch. Martin FINALLY throws someone out as he catches Ian Kinsler. Replay shows it’s a miss. Navarro walks.

Drew gets a hit down the center. Runners on first and second.

Michael Young at bat. Ball up the middle, base hit. Navarro comes around third, but Nate McLouth throws him out from center. Great out.

Last out of the inning. Runners on second and third. Aaron Cook is having a crazy night. Announcer states that three of the last five NL outs have come at home plate. Quentin is up to bat. Ball to Guzman who makes the play at first. Three blessed outs.

Top of the Twelfth

OK NL, it’s 0026, make it happen tonight.

Ludwick at the plate against Soria. He walks to first base.

Nate McLouth puts a bunt down and MAKES IT TO FIRST SAFE. What a good call by the first base ump, that was really close. No outs, runners at first and second.

Russell Martin up now. Pushes a bunt to first, runners at second and third. One out.

The hot bat of Miguel Tejada is up, Soria intentionally walks him to load up the bases for the double play. This will put Dan Uggla up again. Oh man do I hope that the last double play was just setting up for this great game-winning hit. Uggla’s great at the walk-off in Florida, please let us take this now.

Dan steps up. Swinging strike one. My heart thumps yet again for this game. He watches a beautiful strike two. Uggla strikes out. Damn.

Francona comes out to swap in George Sherrill for the Adrian Gonzalez at bat.

Man…I was really hoping Dan Uggla would be able to redeem his errors. I didn’t want him to feel bad about this game. At least Hanley did a great job tonight.

Francona’s only got one pitcher left: Scott Kazmir. Gonzalez is up to bat. Two strikes right off the bat (ha ha). Strike three. We move on to the bottom of the twelfth.

Bot 12

“The Most Interesting Man in the World on Rollerblading:”

“No”

Carlos Guillen comes within two feet or so of being a game-ending home run. Guillen gets to second.

Sizemore’s dangerous bat comes up against Cook. Aaron does a questionable balk move. Ball goes to Uggla who can’t catch it, but knocks it down and sends it to first. Guillen is at third. Normally a great defensive player, I think Dan is just feeling the pressure of the game, but then again, every error on the NL team has come from the Marlins, one of the weakest defenses in baseball.

Now we see Longoria at the dish yet again. Martin makes another great defensive play on a foul ball. Longoria strikes out. What luck for Aaron Cook’s first strikeout.

Cook now faces Aaron Morneau. who is intentionally walked for Ian Kinsler.

A perplexing choice, but will they also walk Kinsler? Runners at first and third for Ian. Morneau steals second. Doesn’t get a stolen base due to indifference. Ball to Guzman, tossed out at first.

Wright, Guzman, and Hart coming up.

Top of the Unlucky 13th

David Wright picks up a stick against Sherrill. Base hit on a shattered bat pop fly into center that no one can reach.

Now we see Cristian Guzman at the plate. He signs bunt, but Guzman bunts too far to Sherrill who is able to take out Wright at second.

Corey Hart steps up. Whiffs and strikes out for the second out.

The lineup gets us back to Ryan Ludwick. Sherrill runs the count to 3-0 before he throws his first strike. Ludwick wisely doesn’t swing at it, but it’s a clean fastball down the pipe. Pops up to Kinsler. Time for the bottom.

We’re Still Going? Bottom of the 13th

Here’s hoping for a 14th, even though I need to go to sleep. New Yankee Stadium is gonna have the same dimensions, which I think is pretty cool. Hopefully the feeling doesn’t change much.

Carlos Marmol gets on the mound against Dioner Navarro. Ball goes to Uggla who tosses Dioner out at first.

J.D. Drew against Marmol now. He works to a full count. Bad hop ball to Uggla, Drew makes it to first. Jeez that looks bad. Error again for Dan. All four NL errors against Marlins, three against Dan. It’s a tough break for the guy, but we all know he’s good.

Dan has set the record for most errors by any one player in an All-Star game.

By the way, Michael Young has been up to bat and he’s at a full count. Young strikes out, Drew steals second on a bad toss to Uggla. Martin tosses out a few profanities.

Carlos Quinten at the plate. This guy is dangerous. He thankfully strikes out. 14th, here we come.

Time-Wise Longest All-Star Game’s Top of the 14th Inning

I’m afraid to say it, but I can’t stay up longer than 0200 tonight. I hope it doesn’t come to that.

Sherrill pitching against McLouth. Goes back to the track, almost fools us into believing it’s a home run. He’s out.

Russell Martin up again. Pretty soon some of these guys are gonna be approaching a real nine inning game. Rest-wise it’s way better to be a starter in the All-Star game, I guess. Martin knocks one almost to the warning track getting everyone’s hopes up again.

One of the better players on the NL team steps up with Miguel Tejada. The out comes with a hit to Young tossed back to first.

Bottom of the Gruelingly Long All-Star Game’s 14th Inning

I can’t hate Evan Longoria, but I can be annoyed that he’s made me stay up this late.

Brandon Webb takes the mound for the NL against Carlos Guillen. Tejada catches a nice line drive for the first out.

So many dangerous bats on the AL. Grady Sizemore comes up against Webb. Funny thing about saving starters for the end of the game is that I feel they lack a lot of the oomph that a closer brings to these games. Starters are about the stamina, not taking these hitters out with stellar stuff. Webb totally makes me look stupid by sinking a ridiculous pitch against Sizemore and scoring the strikeout.

Webb vs. Longoria. If anyone was gonna end this, I wouldn’t mind it being him. He strikes out on a pitch in the dirt.

15th Inning…Wow. The Top

Longest ever All-Star game goes to the 15th. Will this game beat it? After making home field advantage such a huge part of the game, will Selig end the game in a tie again if Kazmir pitches too many innings?

Uggla up again against Kazmir. I don’t think Dan has historically hit well against Kazmir. Stirke out again.

Adrian Gonzalez up to bat. Francona has gone through his pitching too fast. What will he do if Kazmir racks up a huge pitch count? Fly ball to Quinten.

David Wright! Can he do it? Walked.

Guzman. Grounder. Game continues.

Bottom of the (Yippee!) 15th

Still amused by the Piniella commercial.

Brad Lidge up to pitch against Morneau. I’m seeing the wear of the long game start to take its toll against the hitters who have been in the game a lot longer. Base hit into center.

Sportscasters tell me to expect Kinsler to bunt, but he swings away. Two strikes, his bunt chance is more or less eliminated. Ryan Ludwick makes an amazing diving catch to keep the game in check. One out.

What’s gonna happen now with Navarro at bat? Base hit into Center. Men on first and second.

Oh no. J.D. Drew up to bat. Lidge seems to be pitching outside of the zone. I’m not sure I can watch another inning, my eyelids are getting quite heavy. Wild pitch kept down by Brian McCann whose entrance into the game I completely missed. Lidge issues a walk. Bases loaded.

Michael Young up to bat. Pops up to right. Will this be a sac fly? WHAT! He was totally tagged out, but he’s called safe. The streak continues with an AL win.

The ASG MVP has been named to be J.D. Drew. I, quite frankly don’t buy it. Evan Longoria’s tying RBI was way more valuable than Drew’s 2-run home run. I guess he had a lot of things happen with him throughout the game, but I just don’t see it for him. Oh well, he gets a car.

Night guys, it was a wild night. On replay, the tag was late. It was a clear win. Nice work AL, I hate you guys. See you guys tomorrow.

»  Substance:WordPress   »  Style:Ahren Ahimsa