Wednesday, October 18, 2017

MOVIE REVIEWS - In Theaters Now!

Only The Brave

This is a movie that is a great example of a story that should be told, and takes you somewhere you have never been before.  Both are huge checks in the plus column.

Toss in a GREAT cast,  lead by Josh Brolin, Jeff Bridges, and Miles Teller, and you have a really strong early fall flick. This movie makes us all pause and again give thanks for the fearless folks who fight fires of all kinds, including suburban, city and wildfires.  This movie is the true story of the Arizona Granite Mountain Hot Shots.  All were lost in a terrible wildfire a few years ago.

I won't give too much away, but this tells you exactly who these guys are, and who their families are, as they are all in the lifestyle together.  These are truly the Navy Seals of firefighters.  They fight fires without water, and go places that most would never dream of going daily, putting themselves in incredible danger.

Brolin and Bridges are terrific, and the story is powerful and on point.  To this movies extreme credit, this movie is far more story and substance as opposed to special effects.  This movie is very careful to get it right, and spends far more quality time on what they should do...and not what they could do. 

Only The Brave.  I loved every frame of this movie. 


The Foreigner 

It is so good to see Jackie Chan back making movies.  With all due respect to the half action, half comedy movies he has made and had great success with.  This is the Jackie Chan I really like. 

This is the story of a very sad man, (Chan).  His entire family has been killed over the years all by political means.  After his youngest daughter is killed in England, our hero decides he has had enough and sets out to avenge years of horrible events.  The last killing has ties to the political wars in Ireland and England, and this is backdrop of our story.

Chan is still remarkable as he continues to amaze us with his physical talent, and his overall charm and likability.  This also stars Pearce Brosnan, who I thought was terrific in this movie.  This has action, and a strong story, and more than that, it marks the return of the Jackie Chan we have been waiting for.

The Foreigner.  Very good, and is set up for more!

Monday, October 9, 2017

I Will Miss Tom Petty

It's been about a week since Tom Petty died. And because of recent events, it's now I am more comfortable about sharing this. And why not, as you will hear a Petty song covered at about any Country concert you go to, and have for years.

I was a fan.  I'm not the fan that can tell you song 3 on album 4, and its length. But a fan nonetheless.  I was a big fan of his music, and of who he was.  He was just a guy with his crew that simply recorded good music. When he hit in the 70's everything was simpler, and musically it was a very good time especially for rock music.  The music was where the sole emphasis was.  Straight out of the garage, to the bars, and to hopefully better days ahead.  And he went up against the big boys on the charts and did very well.  Somehow we didn't view him as such. But now we know he was one of the big boys, and so do those who are still around, at long last.

I feel Tom Petty maybe the most underrated rock star of all time.  We all just thought he'd be here forever.  He never became dated, or a caricature of  himself.  It never became hard to watch him on stage, as it has many others. He aged well, and never left his musical roots so far behind we didn't recognize who he was. I respected that. He remembered he was Tom Petty.

If Tom Petty came out today, he probably would not be a star.  He was not a heartthrob. His shows were good, but there were no dance routines, no fluff, nothing that distracted you from the music. They were playing music, and not relying on ancillary diversions making you think the music and the stars were better than they really were. 

Petty's music stayed relevant till the end.  For every reason there is, when his music was introduced to new and younger audiences, they loved it. Jerry MacGuire gave Free Fallin' a huge resurgence.  As did a terrific Superbowl Halftime show.  I'm not sure anyone got more out of, or appreciated an appearance there more than Petty.  By the iconic picture of he and his Heartbreakers at shows end,  they understood the moment clearly, and climbed a mountain they never thought they would.  The word was they were not the first choice that year by a long shot, and they knew it, and they didn't care.  They played with incredible confidence and joy.

Petty was a heavy influence as well on many of today's Country Stars clearly.  Although Petty's recorded music and vocals are more aggressive than even the most rockin' country stars, the beat and the Petty idea of many songs is apparent.  Petty even wrote a top 20 country hit years ago recorded by group Southern Pacific called, Thing About You, that featured Emmylou Harris.  Cool song.  Being from Gainesville, Florida, Petty understood Country, and in he end, had the Southern Rock feel to much of his music, that is clear in much of today's Country.

I will miss the music, and the kind of guy we knew.  Where he was out front of his band, where the music he made was the star  - and it was out in front of him.  Guys like him in music just don' really exist anymore.

I will miss Tom Petty. 

Saturday, October 7, 2017

The TRIBE - The Right Way

This Tribe ride we are all on is simply amazing.  Last nights unimaginable win has electrified our area - yet again.  As they have many times this summer.

Why is this team so fun? Why are they so successful? And why is this happening?  The reason, to me, has become clear as glass.   They play the game, and handle themselves the right way.  Granted you need talent to get to this point, but to win this way and possibly climb the tallest mountain in sports, the intangibles are what gets you there. 

These guys are not outwardly worried about being on Sportscenter, and they don't care the Cubs have a huge following.  They don't mind where they play, who they play, or on what obscure network or what time. They don't care who gets the credit, and they go out every day with the idea of going on.  All of this is pretty unusual in today's modern sports world with today's modern pro athlete.  Isn't is funny, when you watch the Tribe play, it's not like watching sports, it's like watching life.  A bunch of guys that clearly care for each other, relish each others company and celebrate each others contribution. 

They play with a Little League like enthusiasm, they run out ground balls, they never give up, the bench is into the game.  As a season ticket holder I have been to a bunch of games, and this fact alone you can clearly see, has other teams in this league befuddled.  They just don't get it, it's all over their faces. They play positions and take on roles that Tito asks them to, and it works. Sure, Tito looks like the genius, and he is. But the guys have to buy into him, and give it all up on the field for him, for them and for us, and get it done.

What a great lesson for all us of in what we do, at work, or in life.  When we believe in what we are doing, who we are with, and where we are going, it makes a difference. When you do something the right way, the right thing has the best chance of happening.

Go Tribe!

Thursday, September 14, 2017

TRIBE - Don't Poo Poo The Steak

OK this is fun, this right now record 21 game winning streak the Indians are riding.  But conversely there are some detractors, and I sort of get it.

I have heard some in the National and Local Media, and even some chat around the office that says this. "Yeah this is all well and good but it won't mean a thing if the Tribe doesn't win the World Series."  I sort of get that too, and I do understand where that comes from.  But for me, they are not separate issues. They are one of the same.

I won't lie, I hope we win 25, 26 or heck, even 30 in a row.  What a streak like this does is so valuable to a team and the area, it makes winning it all even more attainable.  If this streak, whether is ends tonight or goes on for 10 more games does, is put the Tribe in a better position to win the World Series. 

First, it completely galvanizes the fan base, it gets everyone on board. And that is crucial down the stretch to re-energize a team that has played over the course of 6 months.  Second, if winning so many in a row helps us track down the Astros and have the best record in the American League, and make everyone come to our re-energized stadium to get through us?  Again, I am all for it. If this streak runs down the Nationals and Dodgers in the National League record-wise, and makes them come here to play a World Series first?  Again - FOR IT! 

You see winning a World Series is the hardest title to win in sports.  In the NBA, you can out athlete people to a title.  The NFL, is one and done, anything can happen in a one game situation.  Baseball is at least three series, against great teams and pitching only  - playing the hardest team sport there is to play in the world.  So I will gladly take anything that gives us a leg up on any team from either league. And if this streak plays a part in it, I am all in.

I have even heard some say they hope the streak ends so we can concentrate on the rest of the season. WTH?  Get a grip!  On opening Day every year, I want the Tribe to win every game! And right now, they are.  So let's go get the Giants now from 1916, and really leave no doubt.

The Streak. Is it everything?  No, but it's a real thing, and it's here and it is something that none of us will never see again.  GO TRIBE!


Saturday, September 9, 2017

TRIBE - Tito's Hand Made Roster

The Tribe is rolling along right now with a 17 game winning streak and are the talk of the town.

This incredibly likable team have become the darlings of the area, and are doing what only a winning Major League Team can do.  Re-energize an area like nothing else can. I, like you, never saw a 17 game winning steak coming, but no one should be surprised the Indians are 30 games over .500 with about 20 to go.  If you say you're not surprised at the streak, I'm not buying it.  It's happened a couple times in about 100 years.

It makes me laugh every season.  Twitter, Facebook, and even Sports Talk Radio are a buzz about how terrible this guy is, or how they need to send this guy down, or let's trade this guy, or go get this guy.  "Experts" of so many kinds who have a fundamental non-understanding of the game.  Many in this area continually get the Indians and the Browns confused and they are two completely different stories in every single, solitary way imaginable.  While the Browns have struggled with virtually every aspect of building a winning franchise, the Tribe has been brilliant in same.  The Indians these days are not "Typical Cleveland"

Terri (Tito) Francona is the main reason why.  One team can say they have the runaway best manager in the Major Leagues -  and that's us.  And it's not even close.  He has been the reason that players play as hard as they do, the reason free agents want to come here, and the reason top prospects break their butt to get up here and play well for him.  His managing hand and style are that of legend.  He's going to the Hall Of Fame as a manager, and few will be more deserving. 

Baseball is a very long season with 162 games played roughly over 200 days.  You are going to have your great patches, your rough stretches, your injuries, and disappointments. That is why we love the game so much.  It so mimics life, that we relate to it completely.  It takes patience to be a baseball fan, a good one anyway.  And Social Media has made it so easy to vent emotions quickly without putting a great deal of thought into it.  As to where some have to devour a bushel basket of crow with a shovel for dinner.

Ever notice that at years end, the guys that many fans scream about in May, end up being the reason your playing in October?  And of course the reverse can be true, as many times the "Blossoms Of April" ending up being "The Weeds of September."   The Indians are doing this area such good, no matter what happens with this streak, or from now on, enjoy this amazing ride.

I admit, my patience wears thin sometimes too, but not at Tito's Hand Made Roster, but when you're going great, I have a hard time waiting till the next day to play. 

Go Tribe!

Remembering - Glen, Don and Troy

The past couple of weeks have been tough for long time and newer fans of Country Music.  The deaths of three long time artists that were loved by millions.  Glen Campbell, Don Williams and Troy Gentry of Montgomery Gentry.

Glen - 

Glen passed a couple weeks ago after battling a long term fight with Alzheimer's.  It was an incredible story that showed me that life is a series of phases.  Campbell lived them all.  First, in the 1960's and 70's with his amazing run of classic songs still loved today.  Wichita Lineman, Galveston, and dozens more, leading up to a song all of the world knows, Rhinestone Cowboy

Glen was the kind of entertainer that really doesn't exist anymore.  Singer, actor, performer, amazing guitar player, Vegas act, TV star, and during the height of his run, was seemingly everywhere, and everyone loved him.  He sung in one way or another virtually everyone there was to sing with, and they were lining up to do it.

By his own admission, he always tried to bridge the river between Country and Popular Music. And he did it. The greatest songwriters in America were lining up to give him songs so he could sprinkle his magic dust on it, with this unheard of five octave range.  He knew a good song when he heard one, and knew how to sing and arrange it so neither side was offended.  He did this more effectively than anyone I have ever seen.  What a gift.  His songs perfectly blended the genres, they were just...good songs.

His final gift was his public battle with Alzheimer's.  Touring, and singing while the disease was in full force, he gave hope to thousands and awed millions with remarkable bravery.  When his battle ended, his music sales soared and I was glad to see that. He earned every reason to keep his incredible music alive.

Glen Campbell.  There were few like him. 


Don - 

If you are reading this here, there is every possibility you are not very familiar with The Gentle Giant, Don Williams.  His run covered a long period of time, and he successfully bridged and survived many changes to the format itself.  Williams' list of hit songs is a mile long, and awards and nominations same. 

Williams rose up in the 1970's with great songs like Tulsa Time, Amanda and others.  Rode the wave of the Urban Cowboy craze in the late 70's and recorded amazingly huge songs like, I Believe In You and tons more.  But he did it differently than many others.  At the time, there was Conway Twitty, Kenny Rogers, George Jones, Waylon, Willie and Hank Jr.   Williams was way outside of all that. He was not the heartthrob like Rogers, or Twitty, and had no headlines like Jones.  His music was not reminiscent of the Outlaw Movement of Jennings, and Nelson, or the southern rock influence of Hank Jr.  He just quietly recorded hit after hit.  Williams style.

Williams was a real fan favorite singing truthful songs, with a voice that was as smooth and honest as anyone at the time, or any time  His hit making  survived the first real crush of New Country acts that appeared about 1982, with George Straight, Ricky Skaggs and John Anderson.  And then the next crush about 1985 with Randy Travis, and Dwight Yoakum.  But when Country turned to the higher profile presentations of Clint Black, Garth Brooks, Alan Jackson, and the Tracy Lawrence types in 1989, Williams and others found that the tide had turned for good.  Ironic, the Traditionalist that was Williams, was replaced by the New Traditionalist Movement on the radio. Especially after Williams never sold out to the "pop" sound of Country that was attempted early in the decade by many.

But Williams continued on with his chronic bad back, and toured and pleased thousands of fans for many years after falling of the charts.  He embraced the new world and has about 800,000 Facebook fans, and this week, we lay him to rest.  For many, including me, he helped forge a love for Country Music that we all still enjoy today. 

Don Williams.  He just did it quietly.


Troy -

When we all heard the news of Troy Gentry being killed this week, we all stopped and caught our breath.  50 years old, and dying a tragic death.  Being half of the duo Montgomery Gentry, they helped pave the way for a new era of country.  When you listen to an MG song, there is no doubt it's country. And there's no doubt they had the right idea about the music itself.  They understood that many times in our format, we take ourselves musically way too seriously.

MG had no interest in singing formula songs about lovey-dovey relationships.  I interviewed them once and they laughingly said that the song, She Don't Tell Me To, was as close to a love song as they would ever sing. They had no time to sing about sap. Their music simply made people happy.  From Hell Yeah, to My Town, Speed, Somethin' To Be Proud OfHillbilly Shoes, and my favorite, She Couldn't Change me.  And there were many more.  What a gift to give, the gift of music giving happiness, making fans move at a show!

They came of age in the era of Brooks And Dunn dominance and that was tough to do.  But they held their own, and separated themselves as their own act, with a look, sound, and attitude that was different from B&D.  They were the Florida Georgia Line of the time, and helped pave the way for what would be known as Bro Country.  In my ear, they were Bro, we just didn't really have a name for it then.

This duo faced some tough challenges in real life off the stage as well, and somehow survived and made it all work.  And even after the songs stopped being played on the radio every 3 hours a few years ago, their fans never ever forgot them.   And they never will. You see, MG made Country cool for many, and that's a gift all of us will benefit from for years to come.

Troy Gentry. Too young.  Far too young.


Friday, September 8, 2017

MOVIE REVIEW - IT

At last!  THE movie adaptation of Stephen King's 1,100 page thriller IT, comes to the big screen this week, and it is terrific.

This story, and the slightly under budget early visual attempts have ruined clowns for countless people, and this will only make it worse.  But I'm good with that, as this movie is adapted well, acted well, and overall captured well.  And will... well, give you a jolt or two.

Pennywise, the well, whatever IT is, clown demon thing, is terrorizing the fictional town of Derry, Maine where children are disappearing at an alarming rate.  And as the town keeps ignoring this fact, a group of brave kids decide to take IT, straight on.

This movie is very rare in the essence that it virtually has no adult actors in it.  This is basically all kids, who are casted well, and are all very good, in a bevy of large roles with tons of difficult dialogue.  The direction is terrific as the emphasis is placed on being a cruel mind game for you, as opposed to tons to loud jolts and crashes. There is a lot of slow burn suspense here, and the payoff is quite good in most scenes.   This is like the roller coaster you have never ridden because of one thing or another.  But you should ride this one as this is worth seeing, even if scary movies are not your thing.

Much of this is classic King. Knowing what scares you, and preying on your fears from your childhood.  And also giving you the epiphany of having things scare you that you didn't know you were afraid of when you walked into the theater.  About everything about this is really great, and this is head and shoulders above most sellout "scary" movies that hit the theaters this time of year.

IT.  A King Classic, that movie goers should not miss. This is the version you have been waiting for.