Friday, October 29, 2010

World Series: View From the Knothole

It's not too often that San Francisco has had a chance to set the baseball world on its ear. That accomplishment was done by Oakland in the 1970's and 80's, because it has the cooler ball park that's also near a BART train stop.
1962. 1989. 2002. Those were the three chances the Giants had to bring a World Series win to the Golden Gate. In order, they came within a line drive of beating the Yankees, got swept after an earthquake, and was beaten by a rally monkey from Anaheim.
I never even got the chance to get close to a World Series because I was too far away, or I had to work. I finally got lucky when a day off on October 28th, which I requested to see a Rifftrax movie, got turned into a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
I got to see the middle innings of game 2 through the famous right field Knothole. About 450 people got that rare chance to step inside and see a very important game, or part of it, for free.

Being behind Cody Ross

Sure, people could have gone to the Public House to see it on HDTV, or at several nearby bars, restaurants and small grocery stores. Still, being just a few feet away from Edger Renteria's homer in the fifth is still something special, even under the bleachers separated by a fence.
In fact, people waited for hours to get a wrist band to get in for three innings.

It ain't Comic-Con this time

Thanks to my Comic-Con training, and a filled iPod, I managed to get a writsband to see the game in the middle innings after waiting two hours. People who wanted to get into the first game waited since two a-m for their wristbands.
Looking back, I should have gotten some kind of World Series souvenir, but I bet one will be in my hands sooner than later.

Here's another view from inside the Knothole....

New Knothole Gang

For those who could not get in, that didn't matter...

But then who needs to see the game?

As long as got a glimpse somehow of the action, that was enough....because this was the World Series, and it's only the third time it's come to San Francisco since 1962. At AT&T Park, it's a very special atmosphere. Even if you couldn't get inside, being around the place, and watching the game at the bar outside the park is good enough.
Otherwise, just sail on McCovey Bay, and hope a home run ball comes your way, like these guys...

Traffic Jam At McCovey Cove

Since the game came just before Halloween, a lot of people came in costume, from kids whose faces dressed like Brian Wilson to a guy named the Rally Pumpkin....

It's the Rally Pumpkin, Charlie Brown

Brian Wilson Jr.

Here's a link to the entire set of photos I took. I might add more from a sports bar in Sacramento, but that depends on what happens this weekend.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Why Being A Giants Fan Is Blissful Torture

It was a difficult Saturday night for me, wondering if I was actually going to check off something from my ever-changing Bucket List: being near a World Series.
C'mon, you know how much tickets costs? You need to win Fantasy 5 at least twice.

Anyway, while the Giants were battling the Phillies in Game 6, I watching many things besides that game.
Why? Well, I kind of blame Marcos Breton of the Sacramento Bee.
When PBS aired Baseball: The 10th Inning last month, he was a featured commentator. He talked about how he waited for years to see the Giants get back to the World Series and win it all, and that Barry Bonds would lead the way. He also recalled how the Giants were six outs away from doing just that in the 2002 World Series.
Of course, the Angels and that Rally Monkey ruined that.
Then there was a column he wrote last week after the Giants lost game 5 at home. He talked about how the Giants failed to win the 1986 NLCS and 2002 Series after leading three games to two. He sounded very print.
AND...the Phillies were practically expected to dismantle Texas when the Series starts Wednesday. These were the Phillies of the 21st Century, far more advanced than their ancestors.

So, I wound up watching the NFL Network, seeing a show about why there are a handful (literally) of left-handed quarterbacks that had good careers. I saw a Ken Burns documentary about radio. I kept checking on the Oklahoma-Missouri football game.
Occasionally, I watched the Giants and Phillies, fearing the worst.
I also started working on my Whedonopolis story about Amber Benson doing a book signing at Borders in Sacramento the night before.

Finally, I committed to watching the game around the sixth inning. I wondered what happened to Johnathan Sanchez, but that was before I heard about him hitting a guy with a pitch, and how that sparked a near-riot. The Giants bullpen kept the Phillies at bay, and it stayed tied at two.
Then came Juan Uribe's homer in the 8th. I was hopeful, but not confident.

Torture. Giants fans were feeling it again.
That included Breton, whose comments in the Baseball documentary suggested that the Giants were the West Coast version of the Red Sox. Every few years, they get to the World Series, yet fail to bring a world title to Northern California.
The A's did it several times, even against the Giants in 1989.
Not the Giants. Six outs away, then looking forlorn as the Angels celebrated in 2002. So similar to what the Red Sox felt in 2003 against the Yankees, or 1976 and 1986.
Sure, Boston finally got that World Series title in 2004, then another in 2007.
But the Giants are not the Red Sox. They were not supposed to be pennant winners in 2010. The Phillies would come back, then win game seven the next night, and clobber the Texas Rangers a week later.
It all came to this: Brian Wilson against Ryan Howard, who was due to drive in some runs and end this silly idea of the Giants beating the Phillies.
3-2 pitch. Howard didn't swing.
He should have.
The Giants won the pennant. The Giants won the pennant!
Breton, of course, wrote a much happier column, and an even happier one will likely follow that.

Wonderful news for Northern California fans, but not so much for Fox TV executives who were hoping for a Yankees-Phillies rematch. Even a few web reporters are predicting a Giants-Rangers World Series will attract fewer viewers than Lone Star, the show that lasted all of three weeks against Dancing With The Stars.

Well, so what? People wondering whose these guys are will attract enough interest and fans.

This also changes by plans for this week. A while ago, I asked to have this coming Thursday off so I can see the annual Rifftrax (or MST3K 2.0...Cinematic Titanic is MST3K 2.1) Halloween Movie Barbecue. Mike Nelson and the guys were going to riff on the original House on Haunted Hill, which would be colorized.
My request was granted, mainly because I was piling up some vacation time anyway.
Now, with the Giants playing on Thursday at home, should I choose between Rifftrax and the Series?
Let's see...Rifftrax is 12 bucks, and they're likely going to do another holiday spectacular in December. The World Series is five zillion dollars a ticket, and that's in the bleachers.
Well, naturally, I'd go to Rifftrax, but it doesn't cost that much to stand outside AT&T Park while the Series is being played. There's also bound to be a lot of activity before the game itself. That's reason enough to go.
I'll hang around until about seven p-m, then I'll head to the Century Theater at Market, and see Vincent Price's mustache be mocked.

Of course, if for some reason, I actually get a real ticket...welll.....
I doubt it, naturally. I was at the Citywalk outside the MTV Music Awards last year, and was glad about that after the fact since Twilight swept everything.

So, we'll see what happens. I'm glad this blog got published at all, since heavy rain and some blown transformers cut off power twice in 30 minutes. Thank goodness for auto-save,

Sunday, October 17, 2010

RED Almost Lives Up To Hype

When I saw the previews for RED at Comic-Con more than two months ago, I thought ths would be one cool movie.
I'll admit it. Helen Mirren with a machine gun was really the selling point. What other reason would get her there, considering her past roles?

Saw RED yesterday, and it was a solid action movie. With some tweaks, it could have been more awesome, such as more Mirren.
The plot, of course, is that some retired CIA agents are marked for death by someone. Bruce Willis does a heck of a job as Frank Moses. Even at his advanced age, which isn't that advanced, he kicks butt. Mary-Louise Parker as his reluctant sidekick, Sarah, is really quirky. I just wish she was allowed to fire a few shots at the bad guys. Morgan Freeman and John Malkovich are also good. I think John's response to someone trying to kill him with a rocket launcher should be on a t-shirt, sold by the AARP.
I am kind of torn about Karl Urban, as Cooper, the CIA official sent to kill Frank. When we first meet him, he is seen as ruthless, but also talks to his kid on the cell phone. That's supposed to show he's not totally without a soul, like his supervisor. From then on, he's ruthless and rather arrogant in his efforts to bring Frank down. His fight with Moses enlightens him a bit, but not enough to realize he's being used by the real bad guys. Either they make him soulless, or have some compassion and sense. He and Frank would have been very scary as a team. However, that would have gone against the comic that the movie is based, which, again, would have been reason to make him ruthless.

Also, did you know Bran Cox is in this movie? He plays Ivan, a Russian agent who's also been put out to pasture, and is asked by Frank to help out. Maybe the trailers sould have mentioned this.
And speaking of the trailers, they spoil a plot point when it appears someone has the drop on Freeman's character, but they don't reveal what eventually happens and why.

The movie hasn't been as well-received as most action movies right now. It could be because of the reasons I mentioned. It could also be due to the fact that it came after The Expendables and Machete, which were both action packed and bloody. Maybe people were hoping RED would be just as insane as The Expendables, which also include aging block ops guys. Well, it isn't, but it's a good movie that could have been better with a few more Killer Helen Mirren.

So, what's next? If Let Me In is still in an AMC theater in L-A next month, I'll get to that. I still regret not seeing Toy Story 3 when I had the chance. I will get it soon, like maybe when it's released on DVD. If I buy that and The Shepherd's Tale, I save on postage. From the trailers I saw yesterday, Dwayne Johnson looks like revenge on two legs with Faster. I also expect the GOP to demand that everyone connected with Fair Game (the Valerie Plame movie with Naomi Watts and Sean Penn) be charged with treason. It'll keep Fox News busy for a month, that's for sure. I think it's time to find an indie to see, like Nowhere Boy or It's Kind of a Funny Story.