Monday, February 28, 2005

The Incredibles Wins the O-dogg Oscar for Best Picture. Period.

Forget best animated feature. I feel this movie was the best flick of the year. With all due respect to "Million Dollar Baby," "Ray," and "The Aviator," all of which I haven't seen yet, "The Incredibles" was the best movie this fanboy saw all year.

This movie had what every comic book, cartoon and action movie fan needs:

Superheroes with awesome powers; super villains with the locquatious power to monologue; a high-tech villanous strong hold on a private island; sophisticated guard goons with guns; a volcano with bubbling hot lava flows and creepy caves; cool espionage devices; high tech weapons and vehicles; destructive, evil robots; and an awesome climax amid a concete jungle of a modern metropolis. Best of all the story kicks ass, it had a smokey-jazz-cool historical perspective ala "Sky Captain & The World of Tomorrow," the humor was perfect and the CGI animation was the best this blogger has ever seen.

Bay Area viewers will notice the movie's opening chase sequence takes place in downtown Oakland complete with San Pablo Avenue (sans hookers), Adeline Street (sans the gang bangers) and Park Avenue (sans the skeevy stoners from Alameda). This must be a tip of the cap due to Pixar's headquarters in nearby Emeryville.

The story takes time for a jab at the greedy insurance industry, showing more concern over its stock prices than of taking care of the claims of helpless old ladies. I used to do PR for the insurance industry and it was hell because that portrayal is true. The big companies literally hated hearing about the grandmas with claims that cried to the newspapers and consumer reporters. I was glad to see Mr. Incredible trying to do the right thing and standing up to those greedy pencil pushing insurance professionals. For that alone, the story gets my thumbs up.

The real heart of "The Incredibles" is the family. Mr. Incedible, his wife and kids really show the controlled madness that is a marriage with children. As a new father, I was really sucked into this part of the story. It was touching, funny and action-packed all at the same time.

Can't wait for the DVD. If you haven't seen it, catch it a super-saver theatre while you still can. Trust me fans, you will cherish this movie as much as "The Lord of the Rings," "The Matrix," "Spider-Man," and "X-Men." 'Nuff said.

Saturday, February 26, 2005

Canseco receiving death threats over "Juiced."

Once upon a time Jose Canseco was my hero - he was the sole reason I became interested in baseball and started following my hometown team, the Oakland A's.

It's sad to see that he's become a caricature of himself. A once larger-than life athlete is now a larger-than life tabloid story. The man has serious issues: a bad case of myopia, jealousy, anger and a desperate need for the limelight. All that aside, there has to be some truth to what he's saying regarding the use of steroids in baseball - he is the expert, after all.

Remember true believers, two things can be equally true. Just because Jose Canseco has questionable character, doesn't mean that some of his teammates didn't take steroids. For example, just because the L.A.P.D. did a lousy job handling the case of the murders of Nicole Brown and Ronald Goldman, and detective Mark Fuhrman was a racist, doesn't mean O.J. Simpson didn't kill two people. For goodness sakes, their blood was found inside O.J.'s Ford Bronco. Do we have to find a steroid needle sticking out of Barry Bonds' butt cheek to suspect him?

The mistake he made was to call people out. McGwire. Giambi. Palmero. Gonzalez. Rodriguez. Clemens. Now somewhere some big guys were hired to put the hurt and maybe a hit on Canseco's life. What he did to his fellow players wasn't cool. But threatening his life for trying to shed light on a deep, dark secret is even more appauling. Maybe baseball didn't call for the threats, but I'm sure it doesn't mind that someone out there is trying to silence Canseco.

Someday, somehow Canseco may be viewed as a tragic hero - a Darth Vader-type guy that had to become a monster in order to slay the larger moster that is cheating in baseball. Time - and history - will tell. Maybe someday I can look at Canseco in a different light, but it will never be like the summer that I fell in love with the game of baseball. If nothing else, the man introduced me to a wonderful sport.

Friday, February 25, 2005

Who is the greatest hero not on the silver screen? Captain America, that's who.

Heads up heroes, the sentinel of liberty needs his just due on the big screen.

The living legend of WWII has recently been updated with a modern uniform and great story lines in Marvel's The Ultimates. So why are b-list heroes like Hell Boy, Ghost Rider, Namor and Blade getting movies made before Cap? Part of the reason is that the complete rights to Captain America were tied up in courts for years. Two years ago Marvel finally settled with the estates of the original creators and vowed to start mass marketing Cap alongside other flagship heroes like Spider-Man and the X-Men. Let's hope Marvel and Lions Gate Films make good with a Captain America movie that is due around 2007. As with any comic book movie, if it's believale and based mostly in reality, it ought to do well. The casting and costume design will be positively crucial to this flick's succes. Take that one to the bank, true believers.

Are UFOs among us?

I think UFO sightings can be both extra terrestrial and the product of human error, but make no mistake: they are among us. When I was young, my Dad's interest in UFO's used to freak me out. He read books like "Communion," and I wanted nothing to do with it. As I get older - and more interested by things like power tools and the military - I find myself following in his footsteps. I'm totally fascinated by UFO phenomenon.

After ABC's Peter Jennings special last night, I don't see how skeptics can blow off credible sightings made by military men, police men and commercial pilots. Many of them didn't say anything about aliens, but they did say the things they saw were not illusions, hallucinations or man-made aircraft. From the 1940s to now, you can't deny credible, straight-shooting people who have no agenda or anything to gain.

I don't believe in abductions. I do believe that sometimes UFOs can be explained as earthly phenomenon. I also believe that if hundreds of people see a UFO up close, that moves like nothing of this earth and is totally silent, it could be a secret craft made by the U.S. government. But I also believe that the U.S. government is able to make these craft by reverse-engineering UFOs that crashed here at some point.

Not to sound like a conspiracy theorist, but there is more to this story than the government is leading on. I just hope those secrets don't put us in danger some day.

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Randy Moss to join Oakland Raiders - Flippin' Sweet, Dang!

OAKLAND - So on March 2nd, the most controversial, most intrepid, most game-breaking wide receiver in the NFL is going to join the greatness that is the Oakland Raiders. Hell yeah. Screw all of the haters. The Raiders got the better end of the deal, giving up underachieving linebacker Napoleon Harris, the # 7 pick this year's first round of the NFL draft and a late-round pick that is TBA. Truth is, this is a deal that's been seven years in the making.

On draft day 1998, Al Davis and the Raiders selected Heisman Trophy winner Charles Woodson out of Michigan to solidify a corner spot opposite Eric Allen. Woodson was Jon Gruden's first draftee as a head coach. What most don't know is this: Davis coveted Moss and was tempted to pick Moss with the # 4 overall pick instead of Woodson. Cooler heads prevailed, because at that time, Moss was a great unknown compared to Woodson. Davis desperately tried to trade back into the top 20 to select Moss, but New England killed a potential deal that would've netted Emperor Davis Woodson and Moss in the first round of 1998. Instead, the Raiders ended up with Woodson, Mo Collins and Leon Bender - who died before the season started - all in the first round. New England screwed Davis that day, they screwed Davis again on the Corey Dillon trade by offering a higher draft pick to the Bengals, and the refs screwed the entire Raider Nation in England with the infamous "tuck rule."

Davis wasn't going to let Moss get away again. Good for him. Now Davis has prevailed like the champion that he is. His stable now boasts Woodson, Moss and Jerry Porter to boot! The Raiders now own the best passing attack in the league when you consider that Ronald Curry, Doug Gabriel, Teyo Johnson and Courtney Anderson will be secondary and tertiary targets for Kerry Collins. Speculation and this blog says the Raiders won't stand pat. If all goes according to plan, they will pick up running back Lamont Jordan from the Jets. He may make a nice one, two punch with Justin Fargas. But what happens to Ty Wheatley and Amos Zeroe? Who cares, the Raiders got Moss today!

Halleluiah, Raider Nation, halleluiah. Now if only all that money Moss is owed could be restructured so that the silver and black can pick up a pass rushing end/backer and another impact defender that lines up in the box. Rumors say that Derrick Brooks of Tampa Bay will be available. He's not an edge defender, but look what John Lynch did last year ... then again, look what Warren Sapp didn't do last year.

I'll end with this: the Raiders now have tradeable commodities in Gabriel, Johnson, Philip Buchanon and Doug Jolley. Wheatley, "No Play Ray" Buchanan and Sapp are just untradeable at this point. If the Raiders can somehow parlay those commodities into picks that get them back into the first round of this year's draft, they could be in business on the defensive side of the ball. I just hope it doesn't take someone signing C-Wood to an offer sheet to make that happen. Otherwise Davis will be back to the drawing board with trying to have the best WR and best all-around CB in the game on his pimped-out roster.

War Silver and Black. Out.

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Can Iraq pay us back in oil or some other natural resource?

The rallying cry of many hip, young, well-fed, well-scrubbed Iraq war protestors from San Francisco to New York is "No war for oil!" Clearly, this is not a war for oil, otherwise those newly liberated and democracized Iraqis would be paying the U.S. and its coalition allies by the barrel for all of that lovely freedom. Wouldn't it be nice to send them a bill for all of the blood, sweat and cash that we've spent over there?

Hold it right there, I'm not suggesting that money would soothe the loss of over 1,000 soldiers that have died in Iraq. Nor am I suggesting that freedom has a price tag, or that for the low, low price of $200 billion, repressed people could contract us to liberate and democracize their corrupt governments. What I am saying is that it would be nice to have some tangible form of appreciation from the Iraqi people. When it's all said and done, do you really think that they'll be grateful for what we've done? I say no, and it's not because they're not polite, it's because they're too busy fighting among themselves to raise themselves up from third-world status. It seems the men that run Iraq seem too busy opressing women and practicing acts of corporal mortification to notice what the U.S. has done. But what has the U.S. truly done in Iraq?

What makes the coalition forces think that simply getting rid of Sadaam and holding democratic elections will equal a stable Iraq? The different sects of the Islamic religion have been warring for hundreds of years. If and when coalition forces pull out of that country, those sects will probably continue to wage war for another milenium. There is no taming or liberating of the intense hatred those people have for each other, and for America for that matter. Back in the cold war days, we played nice with Afghanistan in order to battle the Russians. We trained the Afghani soldiers and freedom fighters, including a young Saudi named Osama bin Laden. Guess where all of that good training and all of those weapons went? They went straight into the hands of modern-day terrorist groups. Guess where those rifles are pointed now? That's right, true believers, those guns are pointed squarely at the U.S.A. Did we need the Afghanis at that time? Yes. For the short-term it paid off. I would venture to say it stopped paying off the minute the Russians were no longer a threat. Is hindsight 20/20? Yes.

So, we trudge on in Iraq, looking to help stabilize and rebuild the country at the cost of billions of dollars and the lives of young soldiers simply doing their duty. What will the U.S. gain for all of this extra effort and prolonged assistance? I hope it's a not a rifle pointed back in our face several years down the line. Does a liberated Iraq make a war widow or grieving soldier's parent feel any better? I honestly don't know. You'd have to ask them and I can't speak for them. What I can say is that there doesn't seem to be much in this for the coalition forces if Iraq defaults right back into its unstable self. What will hindsight and history say? Time will tell, my friends.

The latest speculation centers around a shiite-run Iraq that will partner with shiites from Iran, creating a modern-day Persian Empire. Greaaaaaat. As if we didn't have enough to worry about without strengthening a potential mega-enemy.

Would it be too much to ask for $200 billion in oil in return? Maybe we can soothe the protestors by asking for $200 billion in camels instead. No? Okay. How about $200 billion in sand? No again? Boy, it's hard to think of something valuable that Iraq can give us if they can't pay in actual money ... or actual peacable prosperity and stability.

Sunday, February 20, 2005

Teaching kids about the birds and the BEASTS?

I saw blip on the news last night about teaching sex ed to junior high students that will now include homosexuality, masturbation and beastiality. I don't know what school district this is in, but I assume it's here in California.

Let's take these on one by one:

1. Homosexuality. In today's news media and pop culture enviornment, there is enough about gay and lesbian lifestyles to sufficiently educate kids about alternative lifestyles. Why do we need to jam it down their throats - no pun intended - in schools? I'm sorry, but a 12 or 13 year old kid doesn't need to see pictures of anal sex, oral sex or strap-on sex. Let that kid turn 18 and then he or she can make their own choices. Leave it out of schools. Please.

2. Masturbation. By the time a kid gets to junior high, they know what masturbation is, okay. Why teach kids that may not be inclined to masturbate how to do it? They may see it as encouragement. As someone that went to strict parochial schools all his life, I was taught not to masturbate and it worked. I'm glad I was taught this way ... plus it led to a lot of exciting dreams in order for my body to get its natural release. TMI, I know. Moving on.

3. Beastiality. Why in God's name would anyone want to intoduce sex with animals to an impressionable young kid? That is sick. I'm almost 30 and I don't want to know about beastiality. Again, let a kid turn 18 and let he or she make choices on their own, but don't fill their head full of stuff they aren't ready for at such a confusing age when hormones are raging like crazy.

This is disturbing to me and it should be to other parents as well. If a parent really wants their kids to learn this stuff, then they can teach it in the privacy of their own homes, but tax dollars should not be used to teach these perversions. The kids aren't ready for it. Take it from me.

In ninth grade, I attended my first sex ed class. I was seated next to the girl all the guys thought was the hottest thing in a plaid catholic school skirt. The teacher started educating us on the female menstrual cycle. My palms began to sweat. I felt dizzy and nauseous. I felt so sick that I got light-headed and had trouble concentrating. My sheltered mind wasn't ready for all of this new information about bleeding and PMS. I was embarrassed because I wondered if the girl next to me noticed that I was so ignorant about a woman's body. In later years she and I became friends, but I never asked if she noticed my total sex-ed meltdown. Imagine if the teacher had shown us pictures or videos of men having sex, or women masturbating with sex toys, or anyone having sex with a dog? I probably would've barfed up my Cocoa Crispies and never would've made a single female friend all through high school. Thank God I went to private school - the most shocking things I learned about were maxi-pads and condoms and that was enough for me.

So for today's youth, I beg parents to protest the teaching of things like beastiality and masturbation in sex ed class.

Saturday, February 19, 2005

Hang on to your hat world, here comes the original, Web-slinging O-dogg

Welcome, true believers. In the coming days, weeks, months and years, you can look forward to the commentary stylings of the O-dogg.

I'll talk about everything from international politics, to sports, to food, to pop culture, to comic books (yes, they get their own category), to my beautiful family, my friends, my softball team and everything in between. I may even chat about mudane topics like the weather, the maddening traffic here in the Bay Area, the overuse of the exclamation point, house chores, work, death and taxes.

Just about the only thing I won't post about is religion - even though I consider myself a fairly religious and spiritual person. I believe in this great country's freedom of religion and expression ... unless religion is used to hide behind hidden political and fanatical agendas. In that case, the O-dogg may just have to put in his two cents. If your heart is pure and your religion and/or spirituality inspire you to be a good person and citizen, then I say to each his own.

So, on the eve of my brother T's 26th birthday, I hereby complete this historic first post. Keep tuning in my fellow bloggers!