Every. Simpsons. Ever.

So as you may or may not know or remember, I am a huge Simpsons geek.  It is my all-time favorite TV show.  I own the first 13 or 14 seasons on DVD.  So when FXX got their own rights to the library, it wasn’t really that big of a deal to me.  However, for a few weeks now, they have been running advertisements for their 12 day, 552 episode marathon of EVERY.  SIMPSONS.  EVER.  And I got really excited.  It started this morning, and damn it, I started watching.

I didn’t get to watch the entire thing, because with my daughters, I didn’t want to have it on all day.  But now that they are in bed, it’s back on.  I am watching “Oh, Brother, Where Are Thou?”  It’s still season 2.  Some really funny stuff, but still before it gets hilarious.  I will admit that I have emailed my buddy Fez a few quotes from the last episode I was able to watch.  “Bart!  You’re not in Sunday School anymore!  Stop swearing!”

My opinion is, the best season is season 8.  I can be talked into season 9 maybe, but right around there.  I doubt I will buy any other seasons.  My sister asked me once about it.  I have been debating.  If I buy them as they come out, it would simply be to have the complete series.  I can’t ever see myself watching these newer episodes.  They just don’t hold up.  I think I am good with my 14 seasons.

I am going to take the Jeopardy! test this year.  I don’t think I will do very well, but it has been a goal of mine for a few years.  It is something I HAVE to do.  I asked my wife, “How crazy would it be, if Final Jeopardy was a Simpsons question?!  What if I were winning and couldn’t be caught?  I’d still bet it all.”  She said “You’d better not!!”  My vast knowledge of Simpsons trivia ends at around that season 13 or 14 area.  So there are another 11 years I wouldn’t do well.  All it takes is one question I don’t know.

Anyway, I’m going back to my marathon.  If you’re curious, Sunday at 1:30pm PST is Bart After Dark.  The best episode ever.  Watch it.  You’ll see.  Also, if you’ve never seen this, it’s the full McBain movie.  You’re Welcome.

Tonight

I have two alerts on Ticketmaster. One is for Gary Allan, the other is for The Mighty Mighty Bosstones. So imagine my surprise when I got an email on Monday saying “Don’t miss out! The Bosstones are coming Friday!” How did I miss this? Did I not get the alert? Did I delete it, thinking it was spam? They are playing tonight in San Francisco at The Fillmore!!!

I’m pretty sure I’ve told the story about how they came to SF in ’01-’02 (ish) around my birthday and I skipped going because of work and figured they’d be back soon. Then went on hiatus.  I was crushed.  I hadn’t seen them since high school, and even that was during the Warped Tour.  So they did a quick set and were gone.  I hadn’t yet fallen in love with them as I had by the time of the hiatus.

So normally, it wouldn’t be a huge problem.  Yes, I would have to beg and beg to be gone all night with that little notice, but whatever.  I have no more pride or shame at this point.  I would drop the girls off at my wife’s office, and drive down all by myself and see the show.  Part of the joy would be all the time I would get by myself.  I hardly ever any time alone anymore.  It is one of my favorite things, but it’s so rare.  I still occasionally get out to the movies alone, but not as much as I did in my early 20’s.  Back then, I’d even get out to Kings games, or go down to Oakland for A’s games alone.  I enjoyed getting out of town and enjoying the silence and meeting the people tailgating.  Alas, those days are over.

So why am I not going?  Well of all the damn weekends!  I have fantasy football drafts both days.  I will be with Phil all Saturday afternoon, and running my parents league pretty much all day Sunday.  I couldn’t be gone all weekend.  It’s very selfish of me.  Any other weekend.  So I actually have been going back and forth on whether or not I want to skip both my drafts and go tonight.  I’ve been planning and researching for two months, and I’m going to skip them just to see a band that I’ve already seen twice?  And let Phil pick my team?  Can’t let that happen.  But it was a very serious discussion I had with myself.

I should have known something was up.  My wife busted out her Bosstones shirt last Sunday.  She never wears it.  Just casually throws it on?  The universe was trying to tell me something.  Today, I wore my “Back in Plaid” concert T from ’08 when I saw them in Clear Lake.  I wonder if the wife will notice, and what she will say.

Front

Front

Back

Back

Last year I missed Gary Allan in Reno THE DAY AFTER MY BIRTHDAY.  For those unfamiliar with the geography of Northern California, Reno is two hours one way, and San Francisco is two hours the other way.  It’s great living in Sacramento.  Gary will come back.  He always does.  The Bosstones?  I don’t know that they will.  I don’t want the last time I saw them to be the last time.  I really hope they come back and I see them again.

Hey at least they were on Jimmy Kimmel Live the other night.  Eh.  I’m sure they will be back.  But, I said that once before.  Then they stopped playing together for five years.

Robin Williams 1951-2014

I’ve been sitting here staring at the screen since late last night wondering how to write this post.  I hate seeing people die.  It makes me sad.  It makes me even sadder when people choose to take their own life.  On Twitter, everyone is posting YouTube clips of their favorite Robin Williams movies, which I thought was great.  I am a firm believer in celebrating someones life, not mourning their death.  I do not like being sad.  Everyone mourns differently.  I choose to tell funny stories, or try to lighten the mood.  That works for me.  Doesn’t work for everyone.  But showing movie clips is a great way to remember how Williams made other people happy.

I remember the first time I saw Good Will Hunting.  Surprisingly enough, as a HUGE fan of Matt Damon and The Batfleck, I had no desire to see the movie.  I didn’t see it right away, and felt the hype for it was way too over the top.  My friend Patrick and I were on a road trip and were staying with my friend Marissa.  They convinced me that it actually was good.  It was.  It was so damn good.  I was mad at myself for not seeing it sooner.  Williams was brilliant.  I saw Toys with my Aunt and Uncle in the theater when I was younger.  They took me when I was staying with them after my cool older cousin took me to my first Kings game.  When I went to Boy Scout camp, one of the other guys had the soundtrack to Good Morning, Vietnam.  I had never seen the movie at that point, as I was only 9 when it came out.  But after a week of listening to nothing but that tape, I HAD to see this movie.

I still have my copy of Popeye on VHS, and even though it’s not very highly rated, I love it to this day.  My sister and I used to watch it when we were children.  The one that I still think is my favorite though is What Dreams May Come.  It’s a little heavy today, and I don’t think it did very well at the theaters, but I really love it.  It’s on the darker side of Williams’ roles and just showed how far someone would be willing to go for the one they loved.  I remember seeing this movie in the theater all by myself.  I couldn’t have loved it more.

That doesn’t even begin to cover his body of work, like Mork and Mindy or what is for me, and incredibly difficult role, Peter Pan.  Peter Pan is in my top 5 all-time favorite movies.  TinkerBell is my favorite Disney character.  The way he was able to  play Peter at his age in Hook was awesome.  If you didn’t read what Dante Basco had to say about Robin’s passing, you really should.

I remember so many specific moments about Robin Williams’ movies and where I was when I saw them.  That’s what I will remember most about him.  I am going to see my friend Patrick in 3 weeks in Portland.  If the subject comes up, I will be able to say, “Hey remember the trip in college when we drove to L.A. and did all the big theme parks?  Then stopped in San Luis Obispo and saw Ryan on the way back?  I saw GWH during that trip.”

The other part I’ve seen is people questioning how someone who seemed to have it all could do something like this.  It is so hard to try and explain to someone who has never dealt with depression.  For those who have gone through it, or know someone who has, it can be a life long struggle.  It can also seemingly come out of nowhere.  As it appeared to in this case.  As someone who has dealt with it for nearly 20 years now, it really breaks my heart when someone loses their battle.  Mine started in college.  It’s the reason I never finished.  It almost got the best of me, but thankfully I had the right support around me.  I feel terrible for Robin.  Most times, people feel like they are going through this alone and have no one.  I feel just as bad for his friends and family.  Those who knew he was dealing with this and those who didn’t.  They will spend the rest of their lives wondering what they could have done to help and why they didn’t see it coming.  And that’s a horrible empty feeling.

I ask you take two things from this tragedy.  Remember Robin Williams for the wonderful comic he was, and all the great movies he made.  And please look to your friends and family and look for the signs of depression.  If you see someone that needs help, speak up.  Try to do something.  Everyone needs a friend.  And if you’re the one going through it, there is always another solution.  I’ve found the hardest part is the embarrassment of asking for help.  But, it’s better than the alternative.  Here is the link to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.  There is lots of good information.

Review: Guardians of the Galaxy

guardians-of-the-galaxy-hed-2014

This has been a pretty tepid summer for blockbusters. Very few films this season have compelled me to plunk down my hard-earned cash, and those that I have seen were hardly inspiring. Enter Guardians of the Galaxy. It would be easy to describe Guardians as merely The Avengers in space, but doing so would be lazy and not giving James Gunn (whose previous film credits include Slither and Super) his just due. While Guardians includes some of the standard tropes we see in modern superhero movies–a villain threatens to destroy life as we know it; a ragtag bunch of heroes join forces to stop said villain; the heroes squabble, but eventually learn to work together; etc.–the delivery is far less ponderous, and in a zero-gravity setting, is free to explore the possibilities that a hybrid space opera/comic book movie has to offer…

…and oh the possibilities. Gunn should receive plaudits for tackling a story that features, among other oddities, a sentient tree; a talking raccoon; and a space station made from a giant floating head and imbuing these characters and sets with so much personality that I never once stopped to consider the silliness of it all. Of course, the film is only willing to stretch the audience’s imagination so far; therefore, we still end up with a white, heterosexual, male, lead protagonist: Peter Quill (aka, Star Lord), who is played with glee by Chris Pratt (Parks and Rec).

Pratt’s Quill (subtle euphemism intended) is a cross between Han Solo and Captain James T. Kirk: he’s a scoundrel with a heart of gold who reluctantly learns to lead others to places other than just his bedroom. When we first meet Quill, he’s a young boy grappling with the loss of a family member. Feeling abandoned and alone, Quill rushes off into the night with little more than his Walkman and a mixed tape of groovy 70’s tunes, but he doesn’t make it very far before he’s abducted by aliens. Fast forward 20 years and Quill has grown into Star Lord, an “obtainer” of things for those willing to pay for them. When the audience rejoins him, Quill is on the job as he hunts for a mysterious orb. Of course, Quill is not the only one after this macguffin; the film’s main baddy, Ronan the Accuser (Lee Pace), also seeks this item for his own nefarious means. Quill makes off with the orb, but doesn’t get very far before he’s confronted by Gamora, a green-skinned assassin played by Zoe Saldana, and Rocket and Groot (the aforementioned talking raccoon and tree, voiced by Bradley Cooper and Vin Diesel, respectively). Their clash lands them all in jail and sets them (and the movie) on their main path.

Everyone seems to be having fun with their characters, especially Pratt, but the surprise of the movie may be real-life pro wrestler, Bautista, who plays Drax the Destroyer with the perfect amount of deadpan gravitas that the role requires. The film also features Glen Close and John C. Reilly, the latter of which I wish had been given more to do in his brief scenes.

Guardians runs at a brisk 120 minutes; whisking the audience from one exotic locale to the next. With so many confusing names and places, it probably would have been easy for Gunn to let the film get bogged down in unnecessary or confusing exposition, as has been criticized of its predecessor, The Avengers, but the director ably avoids that trap. Though perhaps the story could have used a smidge more explanation as to Ronan’s motivations. All we really ever find out is that he’s “the Accuser” and he’s found the planet of Xandar guilty of…well, being guilty and deserving of his wrath. In a world with so many real life villains that deal in absolutes, perhaps Ronan is the quintessential movie bad guy for our times, but I personally like my movie antagonists to be a bit more nuanced. I think it would be fair to say that Marvel has yet to find that sweet spot where their heroes and villains both get equal treatment.

This is but a minor quibble, however, as Guardians packs more interesting characters, story, humor, and action sequences than just about any Marvel movie before it. In the end, I don’t really care how this movie fits into Marvel’s broader comic universe/movie phasing; I just know I had fun watching Guardians of the Galaxy. And when it comes to movies like this one, isn’t that the whole point?

Summer Clean Up

Wow, has it really been almost two months since I posted?  That’s crazy!  Time flies.  So here’s the skinny.  I have been off the grid for a while setting up and planning for my fantasy football draft.  What’s that you say?  Two f**king months for stupid ass fantasy football?  You don’t get it.  That’s fine.  But yes.  Two months.  Also I’ve been incredibly lazy.  I could blame it on other stuff.  Have I been doing super fun stuff?  No not really.  Just lazy.

So let’s get caught up on what I’ve been doing.  Have I seen any good movies?  Depends on what you call good.  On DVD, I swore I was going to clean up my Netflix Queue.  Didn’t happen.  I saw The World’s End.  That was pretty good.  I didn’t like it as much as I liked Shaun of the Dead or Hot Fuzz.  But still pretty good.

I saw the Carrie remake.  I had been wanting to see this since it came out, but never got around to it.  Carrie was much better than I thought it would be.  I am big fan of Chloe Grace Moretz.  Well, I am a fan.  I’m too old to be a big fan.  She was awesome on 30 Rock, and in Kick Ass.  Kick Ass 2 was such a horrible let down, I don’t even remember if she was good or not.  I was just glad it was over and I could stop watching it.  However, I am not too old to be a big fan of Judy Greer.  I am all about Judy Greer.  She has a nice part in Carrie, but for me, every second she’s on screen it’s pure gold.

Also, I saw Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter.  Um.  Moving on.

Nothing in the theaters.  I just realized that.  Wow, that makes me sad.  Hopefully next week I will go see Guardians of the Galaxy and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.  Then on the 19th I have a date with my niece to go see As Above, So Below.

So a couple weeks ago, Phil and I went to a poker game/whiskey tasting party at the home of our friend Jeff.  You may remember Jeff from the Brew Fest post I wrote a couple months ago.  It was for Jeff’s birthday.  He loves whiskey.  Phil and I do not.  But we took a shot, and then went back to beer.  We had cigars, played some cards and had a good time.  Jeff is also in our fantasy football league and is our defending champion.  He beat me in our super bowl, and it wasn’t particularly close.

Phil, Me, Jeff

Phil, Me, Jeff

Last night, I was visiting some of my wife’s family that was up from Los Angeles.  My wife’s cousins husband went on a beer hunt for a local beer that is a bit like an alien contact story.  When someone tells you they had one, you roll your eyes and don’t believe them, because no one has really ever seen one.  I’m not sure how popular this beer is elsewhere, but here in Northern California, it’s the Holy Grail of beers.  You have to follow bars on Facebook just to learn when this beer is on tap and if you aren’t there within an hour or two, you’re shit out of luck.  And no place ever has bottles of it.  Ever.  The beer is called Pliny the Elder.  I think I’ve mentioned it before, as it is Phil’s favorite beer.  I’ve tried to get him some every year on his birthday, because that’s how amazing a friend I am.  I doubt Phil’s other friends even remember his birthday.  (I’ve met some of his other friends).  But I can never find it.

Pliny the Elder

Pliny the Elder

A very happy Eric

A very happy Eric

ANYWAY, this guy finds it a random liquor store down the street.  I don’t like super hoppy beers normally, which this is.  But I will say this.  If you can ever get your hands on some of this, do it.  I loved this beer and I get why it’s Phil’s favorite.  Damn was it good.  I cannot oversell it enough.  Whatever you’re doing, see if someone in your area sells this beer.  Next Sunday I will be in the area again without the family.  I am going to see if I can find whatever rabbit hole he went down and get some for myself.  If Phil is nice at our draft, I’ll get him a bottle.

As I said originally, I’ve been spending most of my time getting ready for our fantasy draft that is this upcoming Saturday.  I can’t believe its actually here.  (If you hate fantasy football, you can skip ahead).  We have a keeper league.  Phil kept Lesean McCoy (round 1), Jimmy Graham (2) and Zack Stacey (11).  I kept Matt Stafford (4), Percy Harvin (5) and Fred Jackson (9).  I think I am ready.  I hope I am ready.  I swear every year I start earlier and earlier trying to prepare.  Every year by the end of the season I am so exhausted from all of it, I swear I am never even going to play again.  Then I take 2-3 months off, and I start all over again.  So wish me luck!  There a couple of guys who share a team.  My buddy Greg, who I’ve been friends with since I was 7, is too damn cheap to pay for the league himself, so he conned our friend Patrick to pay for half of it.  Even though Patrick lived in North Carolina until about a year ago.  Now he lives in Portland.  He is like a silent owner.  He never comes to the draft, he knows nothing.  All he does is pay and never sees a return on his investment.  Here is a picture of them sharing an ice cream cone.

Greg and Pat

Greg and Pat