Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Farewell, Tommy G

A few words from Mr. Glavine on his final game as a Met. The game where he had the worst statistical start of his career, and the historic Mets collapse of 2007 was made complete:

"Looking at it from a baseball standpoint, there haven't been too many, if any, lower or more upsetting moments in my career," Glavine said earlier this month. "I was angry how it went, extremely disappointed ... upset, embarrassed. You name it."

But he wouldn't allow for "devastation." Not in the world he knows.

"My parents always taught me to have perspective, to recognize where parts of your life really fit in the overall picture," Glavine said. "When you become a parent, you see things differently. The health and welfare of your family comes first. Maybe I wasn't prepared to hear that word -- devastated. As disappointed as I was, I didn't think about devastation, not because of a baseball game.

"My son is 11, he has a friend who's going to lose his leg to cancer. That is devastation. That was an awful game, a terrible outcome for us. But it wasn't life and death. What I said -- how I answered that question after the game -- was a reflection of how I was raised, that the game is fun and important and sometimes disappointing. But there is a point where your disappointment ends.

"We lost that game, and I wish we'd won. I know a lot of people were disappointed by how it turned out. I'm not happy they're disappointed. But anyone who thinks I took it lightly or questioned my desire to win knows nothing about me."

This was taken from a Newsday article.

I always liked Tom Glavine, and still do. It stinks that he had such a terrible game in the most important start of his Mets career, but so be it.

I dig what Tommy G has to say here. That's all.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Job Searching in this Day and Age

I'm sure other people before me have commented on what I'm about to say, but it's a train of thought I haven't been able to shake today.

I'm currently on the lam from the long arm of employment. I'm doing the song and dance with unemployment insurance while I look for a new job. It's not much dough, but as soon as I actually get through to a person at the unemployment office, I should be OK for the time being. So that's not the problem.

The problem is finding a new job. There are available positions out there that I am qualified for, and in some cases, more than qualified for. I have submitted cover letters and resumes since early December 2007, all at companies that I have selected as establishments I'd like to work for, I'm not just throwing resumes out there left and right. They are in most cases large corporations, TV networks, film studios, and video game companies. I have yet to receive even one call back.

That fact is discouraging and on some days absolutely kills the confidence. I often wonder what it takes to get just an interview anymore I more often than not get this response when I talk to people about this very subject:

You have to know somebody where you're applying. Most likely, you're resume isn't even being looked at.

This leads me to wax poetic about the olden days. When I was growing up, as in 'pre-the internet is my lifeline' days, people would follow a pretty straight forward method to finding a job -

Grab the newspaper, check the classifieds, mail out resumes and cover letters, call the companies and touch base with their HR persons, wait for the interview calls.

There is a pivotal step that the internet has eliminated in the job search sequence. Call and touch base with the HR person. Everywhere in my job search so far requires an on-line, pre-set resume application process where whether you're looking at Monster, Craigslist, or individual company websites there are words that almost certainly spell 'good luck ever getting an interview, kid'-

No calls, no drop offs. On-line submission only.

How much more impersonal can you get? When I consider how paramount it is in the work environment to have solid interpersonal communication with your peers, and you can't make your own first impression to establish what you can bring to the table, I get frustrated. Think about it, when you're making those HR calls, you're ready, focused, and are in a position to read and react to the conversation you're having with the person who will decide whether you get an interview or not. As it stands today, I never know if or when I'll get a call. I can't wait to be washing the dishes, or be stepping out of the shower without having had coffee or a meal yet and get a call from an HR person I submitted a resume to a month ago. That will go REAL well. The reliance on the internet as a tool to find employment has weakened the position for the individual looking for a job. All of the chips are in the hands of the would be employer now, and that has fostered some cynical feelings in ol' Phil's gut.

Going back to what folks say about how 'your resume probably isn't even being looked at', I believe it. How do I know that someone isn't looking at my cover letter and saying 'This sounds too BS'y' or 'too standard' and off it goes into the to be 'filed for corporate regulations' folder. I don't, and that really fries my ass.

It's an old cliche, but in this process so far I sometimes find myself thinking I actually AM just a number. And I have to wait for resume number XJ6795 to be looked at by the right person at the right time.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Joe Buck, Chapter 1

This is the first in what will be a series of Blog posts about why I dislike Joe Buck so much. Below is a response I wrote on a friend's blog: www.thestabbingpen.com

"I know a lot of people dig Joe Buck, but I’ve never been a big fan. When I talk with people about why I hate Mr. Buck as an announcer, I always blank on specific reasons and usually revert to lame insults like ‘he’s not good’ or ‘he sounds like an asshole half the time.’

I do remember an instance from these 2007 NFL playoffs that can be used as an example as to why I dislike Joe Buck so much.

In the first quarter of the Tampa Bay-New York Giants game, after the Giants failed to move the ball on their first two drives he said this:

“The Giants have got to establish the running game or they have zero chance at winning this football game.”

Again, this was in the first quarter, after 2 drives by the Giants offense. What happened after this statement by Mr. Buck? Eli Manning played one of the most efficient games of his career, with 2 TD passes and the Giants dominated the game.

Everybody knows the importance of establishing the run in the NFL, but to make the statement like Joe Buck did so early in the contest, and to claim that the Giants had ‘zero’ chance of winning the game if they didn’t get the run going early, shows ignorance of the ebb and flow of an NFL game(especially a do-or-die playoff game) and his inability to consider the placement of his statements within the context of the game he’s watching. It’s way too early in the game to jump to that kind of conclusion. He does things like this during baseball games all the time.

Thank you."

There will be more Joe Buck related posts as the months go by, and hopefully I will be able to put to rest why I hate him so much as an announcer. When all is said and done, maybe it will turn out I've been too hard on the man, or maybe it'll turn out that he really is a worthless piece of crap. We shall see, and I look forward to the journey.

Happy Painting, and God Bless.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Eastern Promises

Eastern Promises is the latest David Cronenberg film starring Viggo Mortensen. This director/actor combo teamed up previously on 'A History of Violence' and there are many parallels between the two films.

For starters, each movie received very little ad support and media hype before their theatrical release, but did garner excellent critical reviews across the board. Both films received Golden Globe nominations in the Best Movie - Drama category in 2005 and 2008 respectively. Viggo Mortensen received widespread critical acclaim for his work in A History of Violence, but did not receive a Golden Globe or Oscar nomination that year. In 2008, he has received the same acclaim for his role in Eastern Promises, and was finally rewarded with a Golden Globe nomination for the Best Actor - Drama category, however he lost out to Daniel Day-Lewis who seems poised to take home an Oscar as well. I became a fan of Viggo Mortensen of course after he played Aragorn in the 'Lord of the Rings' trilogy. He has become one of my favorite actors, and I do look forward to checking out whatever films he ends up playing a role in.

So we have two films with the same lead actor and director at the helm, which receive overwhelming critical acclaim and award nominations while flying under the radar of your typical big budget, Hollywood Oscar-hyped drama. They are also both mafia movies. This equation looks great on paper, but in application both films missed the mark for me. In A History of Violence, you had great potential with a storyline focusing on an ex-mafia hit man finding peace and a family life away from the city, only to be discovered by his still corrupt brother and his old stable-mates. Sure, it has the makings of a soap opera story, but it doesn't need to play out like one. In the case of 'Violence, it did unfortunately seem like Agnes Nixon came up with the third act. Though I did not hate 'Violence, it failed to pull a positive emotional response from me due to the unrealistic decisions some characters make, and the role the son plays in the climax of the movie. I found myself mildly frustrated at the end as opposed to satisfied with my movie watching experience.

In Eastern Promises, we have more of the same, though they did get closer to the mark than in 'Violence. The whole cast did very well, and once again, the first 2/3 of this movie are very well done. I must say though, the violence in this film is brutal. They pull no punches, and it's not for the squeamish. I can't help but think about when 'Kill Bill' was first in theaters that people cried foul over how 'gory' it was. When I saw Kill Bill, I in turn could not believe that people actually found the obviously over-the-top, cartoonish violence to be 'gory' when in reality it was just silly. Think back if you need to, the scene where The Bride chops off Sofie's arm, and Sofie is left flailing around on the floor while a tube of fake blood is spewed out from her stump. That's hilarious. In Eastern Promises, there are scenes that I had to turn away from involving necks, eyes and knives. It was uncomfortable to watch at times. This movie would be listed as having 'realistic gore' if I were on the ratings committee. It in fact made me not want to look at the knives on the kitchen counter, and I now scrunch my face up as I type and think about it. Cronenberg you bastard!

In terms of the story I won't reveal much for those who wish to see it, but I will set it up for you. The movie starts with a gruesome barber shop murder(yes, it starts with some gore) and follows that right up with a bleeding, pregnant, 14-year old girl passing out in a pharmacy looking for help. I was pretty shocked from the start, I squirmed in my seat twice within the first 4 minutes. That's rare for me. We then see the girl being wheeled on a gurney in the hospital where Naomi Watts' character is a nurse in the labor ward. The baby is born, but the mother dies and Naomi finds a diary in the mother's purse. In the diary, she finds a card for a restaurant where she goes to see if she can find someone to identify the dead mother(she had no ID and was passed out the whole time). The restaurant is run by a kindly old Ukrainian man who offers to translate the diary for her, and the story unfolds from there. Like in 'Violence, Viggo is a part of a mafia family and he is forced to choose between being a cold hearted killer or be a nice guy stuck in the middle of a violent, twisted situation. That's all I'll say about the story.

The plot is uneven unfortunately. Just like in 'Violence, there are plot devices that are a bit of a stretch for me to suspend my disbelief for. And again, main characters make questionable decisions, and one of the final scenes just makes me shake my head and say 'Why?' Just like 'Violence had its bit of 'cheese' at the end, so to does Eastern Promises.

For both films, I've settled on a 3 out of 5 star rating on Netflix. It seems weird to write this based on what I've written so far, but I do recommend these movies if you're looking to see them. They are worth watching. They just didn't click for me as much as I wanted and expected them to.

Maybe a third team-up for Cronenberg and Mortensen will net a better result as there was improvement in Eastern Promises.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

The Primary Season

Hiya Folks,

With the 2008 Presidential Primaries in full swing, and a wee bit of free time on my hands, I decided to look deeper into the 3 candidates I find myself most drawn to in the upcoming election. I will not address my thoughts on each candidate, this is merely an investigation as to what kind of answers they have given over their political careers. Enjoy?

Barack Obama -

2002 - "I don’t oppose all wars. What I am opposed to is a dumb war. What I am opposed to is a rash war. What I am opposed to is the cynical attempt by Richard Perle and Paul Wolfowitz and other armchair, weekend warriors in this administration to shove their own ideological agendas down our throats, irrespective of the costs in lives lost and in hardships borne. What I am opposed to is the attempt by political hacks like Karl Rove to distract us from a rise in the uninsured, a rise in the poverty rate, a drop in the median income, to distract us from corporate scandals and a stock market that has just gone through the worst month since the Great Depression. That’s what I’m opposed to. A dumb war. A rash war. A war based not on reason but on passion, not on principle but on politics."

2004 - "The [Bush] Administration's failure to be consistently involved in helping Israel achieve peace with the Palestinians has been both wrong for our friendship with Israel, as well as badly damaging to our standing in the Arab world. I do not pretend to have all the answers to this vexing problem, and untangling the issues involved is an appropriate topic for a separate speech. What I can say is this: not only must we be consistent, but we will not succeed unless we have the cooperation of the European Union and the Arab States in pressing for reforms within the Palestinian community."

2004 - "In the end, that's what this election is about. Do we participate in a politics of cynicism or a politics of hope? I'm not talking about blind optimism here... No, I'm talking about something more substantial. It's the hope of slaves sitting around a fire singing freedom songs; the hope of immigrants setting out for distant shores; the hope of a young naval lieutenant bravely patrolling the Mekong Delta; the hope of a millworker's son who dares to defy the odds; the hope of a skinny kid with a funny name who believes that America has a place for him, too. The audacity of hope!"

2004 - "That is the true genius of America, a faith in the simple dreams of its people, the insistence on small miracles. That we can say what we think, write what we think, without hearing a sudden knock on the door. That we can have an idea and start our own business without paying a bribe or hearing a sudden knock on the door. That we can participate in the political process without fear of retribution, and that our votes will be counted-or at least, most of the time."

2007 - " We've been told that our crises are somebody else's fault. We are distracted from our real failures and told to blame the other party, or gay people, or immigrants, and as people have looked away in frustration and disillusionment, we know who has filled the void. The cynics, the lobbyists, the special interests, who've turned government into only a game they can afford to play. They write the checks while you get stuck with the bill. They get access while you get to write a letter."

Ron Paul -

2004 - "America was founded by men who understood that the threat of domestic tyranny is as great as any threat from abroad. If we want to be worthy of their legacy, we must resist the rush toward ever-increasing state control of our society. Otherwise, our own government will become a greater threat to our freedoms than any foreign terrorist."

2007 - "Liberty once again must become more important to us than the desire for security and material comfort. Personal safety and economic prosperity can only come as the consequence of liberty. They cannot be provided by an authoritarian government... The foundation for a police state has been put in place, and it's urgent we mobilize resistance before it's too late... Central planning is intellectually bankrupt – and it has bankrupted our country and undermined our moral principles. Respect for individual liberty and dignity is the only answer to government force, force that serves the politically and economically powerful. Our planners and rulers are not geniuses, but rather demagogues and would-be dictators -- always performing their tasks with a cover of humanitarian rhetoric... The collapse of the Soviet system came swiftly and dramatically, without a bloody conflict... It came as no surprise, however, to the devotees of freedom who have understood for decades that socialism was doomed to fail... And so too will the welfare/warfare state fail... A free society is based on the key principle that the government, the president, the Congress, the courts, and the bureaucrats are incapable of knowing what is best for each and every one of us... A government as a referee is proper, but a government that uses arbitrary force to direct every aspect of society threatens freedom... The time has come for a modern approach to achieving those values that all civilized societies seek. Only in a free society do individuals have the best chance to seek virtue, strive for excellence, improve their economic well-being, and achieve personal happiness... The worthy goals of civilization can only be achieved by freedom loving individuals. When government uses force, liberty is sacrificed and the goals are lost. It is freedom that is the source of all creative energy. If I am to be your president, these are the goals I would seek. I reject the notion that we need a president to run our lives, plan the economy, or police the world... It is much more important to protect individual liberty and privacy than to make government even more secretive and powerful."

1987 - "The moral and constitutional obligations of our representatives in Washington are to protect our liberty, not coddle the world, precipitating no-win wars, while bringing bankruptcy and economic turmoil to our people."

1987 - "It's a mistake to think that poor people get the benefit from the welfare system. It's a total fraud. Most welfare go to the rich of this country: the military-industrial complex, the bankers, the foreign dictators, it's totally out of control. [...] This idea that the government has services or goods that they can pass on is a complete farce. Governments have nothing. They can't create anything, they never have. All they can do is steal from one group and give it to another at the destruction of the principles of freedom, and we ought to challenge that concept."

2007 - "One day I walked into an operating room, to just be an observant, which we would do generally, as a medical resident. They were performing this hysterectomy, which was a caesarean section. And they lifted out a fetus that weighted approximately 2 pounds, and it was breathing and crying. And it was put in a bucket and set in the corner of the room, and everybody in the room just pretended that they didn't hear it. And the baby died. And I walked out of that room a different person... Roe v. Wade is a reflection of the moral climate of the country, because the law was being defied, and then the law was changed, the law sort of caught up with the culture. So even though we work in the legal area, and work politically, ultimately I believe it's an issue of personal morality, and is a reflection of the country, more so than just the lack of laws. Just changing the laws won't be enough, we will ultimately have to have a society that's moral enough, where the fetus deserves legal protection."

Hillary Clinton -

2006 - "The lost opportunities of the years since September 11 are the stuff of tragedy. Remember the people rallying in sympathy on the streets of Teheran, the famous headline — "we are all Americans now." Five years later much of the world wonders what America is now. As we face this landscape of failure and disorder, nothing is more urgent than for us to begin again to rebuild a bipartisan consensus to ensure our interests, increase our security and advance our values. It could well start with what our founders had in mind when they pledged "a decent respect for the opinions of mankind" in the Declaration of Independence. I think it's fair to say we are now all internationalists and we are all realists. This Administration's choices were false choices. Internationalism versus unilateralism. Realism versus idealism. Is there really any argument that America must remain a preeminent leader for peace and freedom, and yet we must be more willing to work in concert with other nations and international institutions to reach common goals? The American character is both idealistic and realistic: why can't our government reflect both?"

2007 - "...freedom is never granted. It is earned by each generation... in the face of tyranny, cruelty, oppression, extremism, sometimes there is only one choice. When the world looks to America, America looks to you, and you never let her down... I have never lost faith in America's essential goodness and greatness... I have 35 years of experience, fighting for real change... the American people and our American military cannot want freedom and stability for the Iraqis more than they want it for themselves... we should have stayed focused on wiping out the Taliban and finding, killing, capturing bin Laden and his chief lieutenants... I also made a full commitment to martial American power, resources and values in the global fight against these terrorists. That begins with ensuring that America does have the world's strongest and smartest military force. We've begun to change tactics in Iraq, and in some areas, particularly in Al Anbar province, it's working... We can't be fighting the last war. We have to be preparing to fight the new war... We've got to be prepared to maintain the best fighting force in the world. I propose increasing the size of our Army by 80,000 soldiers, balancing the legacy systems with newer programs to help us keep our technological edge... I'm fighting for a Cold War medal for everyone who served our country during the Cold War, because you were on the front lines of battling communism. Well, now we're on the front lines of battling terrorism, extremism, and we have to win. Our commitment to freedom, to tolerance, to economic opportunity has inspired people around the world... American values are not just about America, but they speak to the human dignity, the God-given spark that resides in each and every person across the world... We are a good and great nation."

1997 - "We are here to advance the cause of women and to advance the cause of democracy and to make it absolutely clear that the two are inseparable. There cannot be true democracy unless women's voices are heard. There cannot be true democracy unless women are given the opportunity to take responsibility for their own lives."

Believe it or not, I'm having the most trouble finding actual quotes from Hillary. Obama and Paul have numerous quotes listed on wikiquote.org, but Hillary's section is scant at best. Google searches for Hillary quotes went poorly. I did not expect that.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

The New York Football Giants

Since the Giants picked apart the NFC South Champion Tampa Bay Bucs, there have been rumblings that these Giants are "peaking at the right time" and "it's not absurd to think they can make it to the Super Bowl."

Bite your foolish tounges, sports pundits! Do you know what this will do to Antonio Pierce's ego, and the subsequent garbage that may flow from Mr. Pierce's mouth heading into Sunday's bunkhouse brawl with the Cowpokes?

Oh sure, Antonio as recently as Sunday after the Giants impressive win spoke about how these Giants learned their lesson last year about running their mouth...

Silly Antonio, then why did you run your own mouth on the Friday before the last meeting between the Giants and Cowboys while at a Knicks game? Antonio at that time basically said Tony Romo should be scared. It worked Antonio! Romo was so scared, he torched the Giants secondary and made you guys look like chumps.

This is a plea. Sports pundits, stop the knee jerk reactions! Please provide meaningful, analytic, professional feedback after these games. If you keep jumping on bandwagon after bandwagon, players like Antonio Pierce can't help but say 'Hey, you're right, see you in Glendale!' Then Romo and the 'Boys lay a hurtin' on Big Blue, and I cry.

Having watched the Giants every year, almost every game, for the last 7 seasons I can say with honesty that no-one can predict what will happen in the game Sunday. No-one! Not Sean Salsbury, not Mark Schlereth, not Chris Collinsworth, not 'Asshead' Joe Buck, nobody can! And nobody can say with certainty which Giants team will show up to play either.

So all this Superbowl talk needs to stop, pronto. If I have to squirm through another Anotnio Pierce soundbite, I'll be very upset. Who wants that?