The US Open

For anyone who doesn’t pay attention to tennis, the US Open starts today.  This is looking to be a great tournament.  Serena Williams is trying to win a Grand Slam (again, for anyone who doesn’t follow tennis, that is winning all four majors in a calendar year).  If she does it, it will be the first Grand Slam since Steffi Graf did it in 1988.  If Williams wins, she will also tie Steffi Graf with 22 major victories for the most in the open era.  Needless to say, all of the pressure is on Serena, but I really hope she does it.

On the men’s side, it is really Novak Djokovic’s tournament to lose.  Barring some kind of weather or injury craziness, Andy Murray is the only one with a realistic shot of beating him.  I like both of them, so I would be fine with either of them winning.  I’d also be happy to see all the cards land right for Roger Federer to win one more, but I’m not optimistic about that.  What I’m really hoping for, though, is to have some 20 year old that I’ve never heard of have a magical two weeks and win this thing.  Like I said, I like the favorites, but the past decade of men’s tennis has been so dominated by a handful of names that I’d just love to see someone new.

I look forward to the US Open every year because it is the only major that lands in my time zone, so I can actually watch the matches.  It is also a different kind of tennis, though.  It is louder.  The crowds play a major role.  And it’s just plain fun.  Even if you are not a tennis fan, this is a fun tournament to watch.

A Quick Thought On A Couple Of Old Movies

I have always liked movies.  Really the only complaint I have about having a kid is that after she was born, I went about two years without seeing any movies.  Even now, I rarely see movies, but, thanks to TV and Netflix, I’m starting to catch up on all the movies I’ve missed.  And I’m absolutely delighted that she is able to watch movies with me now.  She’s a big fan of Disney movies, which is fine with me because they’re great.

In 2012, a couple of Disney movies came out that I wanted to see, but didn’t.  One was Disney Pixar and the other was Disney Disney.  The Pixar one was Brave, and the regular Disney one was Wreck It Ralph.  I wanted to see them for different reasons.  Brave looked like a very good movie.  Wreck It Ralph looked like a nostalgia trip for a child of the 80s.  But, I was disappointed to miss both of them.

An odd thing happened after the Oscars.  Joe Posnanski wrote this:

. . .Wreck-It Ralph is better. I’m not saying I think it’s better the way I think Peanut M&Ms are better than regular M&Ms. I’m saying it’s better the way Lou Gehrig’s .340 lifetime batting average is better than Tony Gwynn’s lifetime .338 batting average. It’s just BETTER. I mean no offense to the geniuses at Pixar, who make amazing movies, I’m just saying that Wreck-It Ralph was funnier, smarter, more touching and it had a better story. I’m saying our girls liked it a lot more than Brave. I’m saying we adults liked it a lot more than Brave. I’m saying it’s a better movie on every single level. Brave was fine. Wreck-It Ralph was better.

I probably would have completely forgotten about it, but over the past couple of years, he has kept harping on the fact that Wreck It Ralph is a better movie than Brave.  I like Joe Posnanski quite a bit.  I first started reading him when he started writing for Sports Illustrated.  I certainly don’t agree with him about everything, but I respect his opinions about sports and I enjoy his writing.  I also like his idea of a movie plus-minus system.  You can read his post about it here, but in a nutshell it is a way of factoring expectations into movie ratings.  If a movie is better than expected, it is a positive score and if it is worse than expected, it is a negative score and a zero would be a meets expectations.

I have finally seen both Brave and Wreck It Ralph.  Based on the movie plus minus system, Wreck It Ralph should have been the clear winner.  All I was expecting from it was a bit of pixelated nostalgia.  That means if it had the nostalgia and was even decent, I would have been thrilled.  And for Brave, I was expecting a good movie.  I know Pixar isn’t perfect, Cars was terrible, but most of their movies are great.  If Brave was anything less than great I was going to be disappointed.

I turns out that Brave was even better than I expected, but Wreck It Ralph was hugely disappointing.  Not only was it a bad movie, with a bunch of miscast voices, but the nostalgia completely missed.  It’s better moments were boring and the rest of it was annoying.  I felt like they had seen Finding Nemo and liked the scene with the vegetarian sharks so much that they decided to make a whole movie about it, only instead of sharks they would use fake video game bad guys that were kinda sorta like 80s video game bad guys.  I’m just glad I didn’t pay to see it.

The other disappointing things is that I no longer know what to think of Joe Posnanski.  If he can be so wrong about Wreck It Ralph and Brave while being so confident that he is right, I don’t know if I can trust his opinions on other things anymore.  Maybe RBIs are the best way to judge a hitter.  Maybe pitcher wins are the best tool for evaluating a pitcher.  On base percentage is probably overrated.  And Cleveland probably deserves its title drought.  It’s sad to say, but if those things are wrong in a bizarro world where Wreck It Ralph is a better movie than Brave, then they must be true in the real world, right?

Some Things I Don’t Understand

There are some things that people say that I simply do not understand.  I would love it if someone could explain them to me.

  1. Babies prefer people who look like them.  Do babies know what they look like?  I know I didn’t give my daughter a mirror first thing.  Did I do something wrong?  Besides, I don’t look much like my daughter at all (lucky for her), but she seems to like me fine.  What do people mean when they say that?
  2. People are vulnerable because they don’t have claws or sharp teeth.  In the scheme of things, people are huge.  We are bigger, stronger and faster than almost every other land animal.  And most of the larger land animals are herbivores.  What predators do we have to worry about?  Big cats, wolves, bears, crocodiles and a few snakes.  That doesn’t seem so bad.  What do people mean when they say that?
  3. Opposable thumbs are the reason we were able to get so smart.  Really?  Why aren’t squirrels just using maps to find their nuts?  Wouldn’t it be easier for chameleons to set a trap rather than wait all day for their prey?  A whole bunch of animals have opposable thumbs, but we’re the only super smart ones.  So, what do people mean when they say that?

Whenever someone says one of these things, it leaves me baffled.  So, if anyone could explain them to me, that would be great.

Thanks.

Jimmy Fund Radio Telethon

The 14th annual WEEI/NESN Jimmy Fund Radio-Telethon starts Tuesday, August 18th and runs through Wednesday, August 19th.  As an avid Red Sox fan, I have watched and/or listened to all 13 of the previous efforts.  It is truly extraordinary what they manage in two days.  Last year they raised $3.3 million and they have raised more than $37 million since its start.  In case you don’t know, the Jimmy Fund raises money for the Dana Farber Cancer Institute.  It is consistently rated as one of the best charities both in terms of transparency and the percentage of funds that gets to the cause.  The Red Sox have been involved with the Jimmy Fund since 1953.  They do amazing work.  I don’t have much else to say.  But, if you don’t watch a lot of baseball, Tuesday and Wednesday would be excellent nights to check it out.  And, if you have anything to spare, it is a great cause to give to.

Energy

It’s been a long time since I posted anything here. This has been a crazy and draining summer. I haven’t really had the energy to do anything. It might not seem like it, but writing, even silly 500 word posts, requires a decent amount of energy. Since what little energy I have is going to my family, I’ve been ignoring the rest. That’s kind of too bad. A lot has happened since I last posted that I would have liked to comment on. But I think everyone will survive without my commentary.