Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Rangers Baseball

Today is a very special day in the life of a Texas Rangers fan. No, I don’t mean those greenhorn sorts that started wearing a Rangers’ hat 2 weeks ago. I’m talking about those of us who have truly LIVED life as fans. Those of us who have grown up with the Rangers in our homes and experienced the anxiety of waiting for a World Series. And, coincidently, wondering if it would ever happen in our lifetimes. As any sports fan will admit, there is a certain level of nostalgia that accompanies their “team’s” road to victory. After success, it is only natural for fans to acquire a sense of entitlement in their belief that they somehow contributed to the triumph. And, yes, I too am going to go down that road. Well, not just myself, but also my family. See, I grew up with two younger brothers and 7 close knit cousins, all of which were Rangers fans. The “Cousins”, as Toby Harrah labeled us, were staples of every Texas Rangers event during the mid-80s to early 90s. Countless miles traveled to games, baseball card conventions, and autograph sessions have attributed to oodles of stories, and coincidently die-hard fans. I feel that this World Series is for the “Cousins”. We earned it because we LIVED it.

Let me start by stating my belief that baseball is a dying sport. Don’t believe me? Ask any 5th grader who Joe Maurer is and see what you get. Hell, ask them who won the batting title in the American League last year. Follow it up by asking to see their baseball card collection. In a world where we have a million different components competing for our attention, the game of baseball seems to have fallen behind. We live in a fast paced society, with short attention spans, and a general desire to appreciate only what is sexy. Baseball is not sexy – but it is beautiful. I don’t need to go into a melodramatic description of why, but it is. And I believe that the only way to find beauty in the game is to LIVE it. Well, the “Cousins” have certainly done that and my Top 5 Jive will examine some of the moments.

On July 31, 1990, Nolan Ryan recorded his 300th victory against the Milwaukee Brewers. I don’t need to look up any of the details of that particular game because I remember it crisply. I watch the game with all of the “Cousins”. See the day before, our Grandfather had passed away and we had come together as a family. Like most kids, we all had different emotions and were dealing with them in our own certain ways. But there was a brief moment where we were able to escape reality. None-the-less we came together, as a family, amongst the mounds of food that neighbors from the community had brought over, and cheered for Nolan to get the victory. He did, and in a way it felt like he did it for us.

I tell the previous story, not to dramatize, but to paint a picture of how important a singular game was to me. How important it was to the “Cousins”. And there are more. Many of which are extremely insignificant to most, but not to us. In ode to the Top 5 Jive, I have comprised my top 5 list of fondest Rangers memories. Coincidently, they all revolve around the “Cousins”. Funny how that works.

1. How Frank nearly changed the history of baseball by trying to get an autograph.
On the day that Nolan Ryan was expected to record his 5000th strike out, Arlington Stadium had the fortune, or misfortune of having the “Cousins” in attendance. After several attempts to get Nolan’s attention while warming up, Frank decided that he would throw the baseball that he wanted autographed. Without warning it one-hopped from the outfield bleachers and hit The Express in the shoulder. No harm was done, but crazier injuries have been inflicted. In typical, stoic, Nolan Ryan fashion he picked up the ball and threw it back.

2. Advise from a former Knuckleballer.
While getting an autograph from Bobby Witt, Jimmy Ray Kostiha, who had experienced glory as a Gordon Longhorn baseball pitcher in the 60s, sat the struggling pitcher down and gave him a motivational “talk”. We have all had the “talk” with JRK and know that there are no boundaries that prohibit the conversation. No one knows exactly what was said, but Bobby Witt went on to win 12 and 17 games the following two years. He also experimented with a knuckleball to no avail.

3. Showing Love for your favorite Ranger with a Mullet.
Idealizing your favorite Ranger is normal for a 10 year old kid to do. Until you look back and realize that you cut your hair into a Mullet, because of Steve Buechelle. Certainly the history of baseball will not show in influx of mullets because of this particular player, but any photograph from 88-91 will show myself proudly supporting one. BTW – I also named my first dog after him.

4. $25,000 Grand Slam
When Frank’s name was called during the Sonic Grand Slam inning, there was a certain feel that something crazy was going to happen. It was midday on the 4th of July and we were watching the game at our house. The Chamberlains were watching at theirs, which was just down the block. What I can remember is running down the street screaming like a banshee all the way to Frank and Chris’ house, where we proceeded to dance in the middle of the living room. You would have thought “Crazy Game of Poker” was playing.

5. Juiced gives Lyle a game ball.
Every kid who has the fortune of catching a ball at a baseball game will never forget it, especially when it is from Jose Canseco. In the center field bleachers Canseco saw a joy-filled little guy pleading for a ball and made it a point to throw him one. A bully, who was at least twice his size, jumped in front of Lyle and took it away. Canseco could see the disappointment in the young fans eyes and sternly told the bully to give it back, which he obliged. I’ve always though a lot of Canseco because of that moment.

As you can see the Texas Rangers hold a special place my heart. You ask if I’m excited that they will be playing in the World Series. Damn right I am!!! But for reasons that supersede the normal fandom that follows a winning hometown team. Win or lose, we have LIVED Rangers baseball.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

"That's Not Justice"

If it is true that The Godfather is the sum of all wisdom, refer to the opening scene of Francis Ford Coppola's 1972 Masterpiece. In it, the local undertaker looks to Vito Corleone for revenge on the two guys who raped his daughter and left her for dead. As he whispers into the Don's ear, we deduce that the guy wants The Godfather to have them killed for what they've done. "That I cannot do", says Corleone. "Your daughter is still alive. That's not justice."In A Time To Kill,the offensive, morally objectionable, sweaty movie from Joel Schumacher starring Matthew McConaughey, Sandra Bullock, and Samuel L. MF'n Jackson, the The Donald Sutherland character says, "If you can win this case...justice will prevail...but lose and justice will also prevail." Nuh-uh. This philosophy certainly contradicts the sentiments of one of the greatest movie characters to ever grace the Silver Screen. This is enough proof that A Time To Kill's logic is flawed.

Here is a movie that is so well-crafted that it successfully fools the movie-going public into thinking that the beliefs held by its characters are shared by your average American living in the Southern region of the United States. "Everybody knows that a black man can't get a fair trial in the South", this movie suggests. Oh really? I wasn't aware of that. But then again, if I was a juror, race would not weigh in on my decision on guilt or innocence. I would analyze other factors such as eye-witness testimony, the defendant's courtroom demeanor, and the indisputable evidence presented in court before choosing a verdict. This movie tries to make it perfectly clear that if the Black defendant draws an all White jury, he is sure to "hang". If he draws an all Black jury, he is sure to "walk". Nobody in this movie seems to disagree with this ignorant generalization about racial predjudices in the South. You mean to tell me that there would not be ONE sensible juror who happens to live in the South who would judge without prejudice?

The Plot (in case you have not seen the movie):

After his daughter is raped and left for dead by two rednecks, Carl Lee Hailey (Samuel L. Jackson)takes matters into his own hands and murders the two degenerates in cold blood. Hailey felt like he had no other choice but to blow them away with a machine gun in a crowded courthouse...while their mother looked on in horror. Apparently he thought that since the two suspects were white...and despite that there was so much evidence against them that even Chris Darden and Marcia Clark could score a conviction, they would still "Beat the Wrap" and be found innocent. He then enlists the services of a Hotshot, young, sweaty lawyer named Jake Brigance (McConaughey)in hopes of him being able to sway a jury full of buffoons that Carl Lee should not be punished at all.

Not to "put on airs" like I'm Steven Seagal or anything, but if I ever find myself in a similar circumstance, I hope that I could find my way to the perpetrators and provide Swift Justice with a pair of plyers and a blow-torch (shoutout to Pulp Fiction) before the cops can lock them up. If I decided that their horrible crime against my family deserved the ultimate punishment, I would understand that my murderous action would undoubtedly reserve me a room at the Grey-Bar Hotel for an extended stay with no check-out day in sight. I would know that goin' in. I would not go to trial and proclaim my innocence when half of the town witnessed me committing the crime. If I was the Judge in this case, after asking the defendant how he pleads, I would find it very difficult not to respond like Michael Corleone did after informing Carlo that he had to answer for the death of Santino - "Don't tell me that your innocent. It insults my intelligence...makes me very angry".

The most offensive scene in the movie takes place near the end of the picture as The Sweaty Young Lawyer gives his closing argument in defensive of his client. Here is an exerpt of his speech:

Jake Tyler Brigance: [in his summation, talking about Tonya Hailey] Now comes the hanging. They have a rope. They tie a noose. Imagine the noose going tight around her neck and with a sudden blinding jerk she's pulled into the air and her feet and legs go kicking. They don't find the ground. The hanging branch isn't strong enough. It snaps and she falls back to the earth. So they pick her up, throw her in the back of the truck and drive out to Foggy Creek Bridge. Pitch her over the edge. And she drops some thirty feet down to the creek bottom below. Can you see her? Her raped, beaten, broken body soaked in their urine, soaked in their semen, soaked in her blood, left to die. Can you see her? I want you to picture that little girl. Now imagine she's white.

WHAT??? Imagine she's WHITE? WHAT? If I were a juror, I would be held in contempt of court after my violent outburst after being treated so disrespectfully. It is offensive to me that someone would think that the race of the victim would play any part in my decision. I would have to demand an apology.

In the film's climax, a kid busts out of the courtroom and exclaims, "He's innocent"! What? The closing argument worked with those 12 Bozos? What? No second-degree murder, no involuntary manslaughter, or not even reckless endangerment? Whaaaaat? If I were the Keifer Sutherland character (who's brother was murdered), I would be floored with disbelief and filled with anger and hatred. I would be Fred Goldman - mad. I would be madder than Hall of Famer George Brett in the Pine Tar Incident* - mad. I'd be madder than Chris Farley after finding out that someone switched his coffee - mad. Mad. I would have to be escorted out of the courtroom like DeNiro in the Untouchables (1987). Realizing that American Justice had failed me, I would be forced to incur it on my own. Carl Lee Haley just got away with it so why couldn't I? This is the irresponsible message that A Time To Kill gives us.

Even though I disagree with this film's message, I must point out that it is a very entertaining movie that engages the audience from start to finish.It definitely has its opinions. Just remember that The Godfather always knows best.

I'm a fan of Charles S. Dutton who plays the local sheriff/chief of police in this movie. Here are my Top5 Movie Sheriffs...

5. Tommy Lee Jones as "Ed Tom" in No Country For Old Men

4. Roy Scheider as "Chief Brody" in JAWS

3. Denzel Washington as "Alonzo" in Training Day

2. Michael Parks as "Earl McGraw" in From Dusk 'Til Dawn among others

1. Gene Hackman as "Little Bill" in Unforgiven

*This is just about as mad as anybody can get...

BTW, You might wonder why I decided to voice my disdain on a movie that was released over 14 years ago. Well....recently I was rummaging through the $5 pile of DVDs at Wal-Mart. I found it, bought it, watched it, and hated it. Then I just decided to write about it. (In Forrest Gump voice) I just felt like writing....

Demand Satisfaction

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Translating the Indecipherable

I know what Bill Murray whispered to Scarlett Johansson at the end of Lost In Translation.

After the end of a grueling work week, I sometimes choose to stay at home and "knock back a few" instead of going out. I realize that I can get "just as happy" chillin' at home listening to music and watching my favorite scenes on DVD. I know it sounds depressing but it's actually kinda fun. Sure, there are nights when I brood like Bogart, but usually I'm having as much fun as Alfred Molina in Boogie Nights.

During one of these nights alone, I watched the ending to Lost In Translation for the 20th time. Maybe it was the fact that I altered the settings on my surround sound and positioned the speakers at a perfect angle. Or maybe it was that, coupled with the right amount of bourbon swimming through my bloodstream. Either way, I was able to Translate the Indecipherable.

As Murray sits back in the car after saying sayonara to Johansson, notice his expression. His mind is racing. He is so emotionally charged and relieved that he was able to bid her a proper farewell, that his eyes cannot focus on any one thing in particular. This is a nuanced performance that only Bill Murray could deliver.

So what did Murray whisper to Johansson at the end of the movie? That's between Bill, Scarlett, Sophia.....and Me.

Here's to feelin' good....all the time.


Top5 Performances 2000-2009

5. Phillip Seymour Hoffman in Owning Mahoney

4. Daniel Day-Lewis in (tie) Gangs of New York and There Will Be Blood

3. Nic Cage in Adaptation

2. Jeff Bridges in Crazy Heart

1. Bill Murray in Lost in Translation

Shoutouts to Clive Owen in Closer, Gene Hackman in The Royal Tenenbaums, and the little girls from In America

Friday, June 25, 2010

Some of Top5's Favorites

I always thought it would be fun to work at Blockbuster for the sole reason of having the opportunity to suggest DVDs for the movie-loving public to rent. So I got to thinkin', I have the forum to do just that (sorta) right here at Top5.

Here's the plan: I want to offer my suggestions to those of you who want an entertaining movie to watch but don't really have an idea of what to choose. And don't worry, I'm not going to recommend some "Artsy" film such as Fellini's 8 1/2 or Gus Van Sant's My Own Private Idaho. Instead, I want to turn you on to Great Films (IMHO) that I'm pretty sure most everyone would enjoy.

I've selected my first two choices b/c they are fresh on my mind. My suggestions are...

1. A Simple Plan (1998) Starring Bill Paxton, Billy Bob Thorton, Bridget Fonda, and Brent Briscoe

Three men come across a downed plane in the snowy woods of Minnesota. They find a duffle bag with over 4 million dollars inside. Finders, keepers? Maybe. But first they'll need a foolproof plan. So the three men start out with a scheme that's perfect in its simplicity....and lethal in its miscalculation of the human heart. Mistrust, murder, intrigue- are all soon at work in this stark, twist-filled thriller. (almost copied verbatim off the DVD)

This movie hooks and reels you in the first five minutes. Billy Bob is brilliant in his role as a slow-witted bumpkin in which he was nominated for the Best Supporting Actor Oscar. Even "Fort Worth's Own" Bill Paxton, who I don't consider to be a good actor, delivers with a fine performance as well. However, I was mostly impressed with the performance of Brent Briscoe, who plays a Town Drunk so convincingly. It was an underrated performance by an actor who is still a virtual Unknown to most people.

2. Coal Miner's Daughter (1980)Starring Sissy Spacek and Tommy Lee Jones

From - At only thirteen years of age, Loretta Webb marries Doolittle Lynn and is soon responsible for a sizeable family. Loretta appears destined to a life of homemaking, but Doolittle recognizes his wife's musical talent, and buys her a guitar as an anniversary present one year. This gift sets Loretta Lynn on the gruelling, tumultuous path to country music greatness.

I usually enjoy Biopics about as much as Allen Iverson likes PRACTICE, but this movie is an exception. Sissy Spacek is terrific in this Oscar winning role. She sings all the songs on her own. Jaime Foxx didn't do that.

Anyway, Loretta and her husband Doo's relationship is what makes me love this movie. I laughed everytime Doo called Loretta "ignorant". "Are you so ignorant that...."

Usually if Tommy Lee Jones is in a is worth watching. Well...unless we're talking about Volcano.

Anyway, those are some of Top5's Favorites. If you decide to watch one of these movies and feel the need to discuss it with somebody, feel free to email me. We'll converse.

Loretta Lynn Rocks!

Top5 performances by Tommy Lee Jones

5. Warden Dwight McClusky - Natural Born Killers

4. Ed Tom Bell - No Country For Old Men

3. Samuel Gerard - The Fugitive

2. Woodrow F. Call - Lonesome Dove

1. Pete Perkins - The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada


Demand Satisfaction,

Friday, June 11, 2010

A Nashville Nostalgia Trip

I've stopped making mix Cds and if you are a reader of my Jive, you probably know why. I still love technology even though it has eliminated the art of making a mix tape. I've started making "playlists" to be added to the Franketeria, which is the largest gathering of MP3s ever stored on a CPU. If you know anything at all about gigabytes and/or storage space on hard drives, know takes a Terabyte to accommodate the Franketeria. If for some reason you have the urge to listen to Mantras and Chants of the Dalai Lama, you will find it here. Got a hankering for some Music of Zimbabwe? Fear not. We've got Daindiine Mukoma by Oliver Mtukudzi that will scratch you right where you itch.

My new playlist, "Christopher's Nashville Nostalgia Trip", is a musical testimonial on how diverse my tastes can be. How could someone who has a Waylon-esque hatred for Nashville Country create a playlist celebrating that same genre that he despises so much? To answer this question.....

A few days ago, I ate at Toby Keith's I Love This Bar and Grill somewhere in Oklahoma. This place celebrated it's namesake's entire catalogue by Only playing songs by Toby Keith himself. If you find yourself having difficulty getting a waitress to take your order like I did, you can be compensated with that much more of Toby. I'm pretty sure I heard Dream Walkin' twice.

Anyway, as I was having the Sirloin and Catfish (apparently a TK specialty), I realized that his songs of the 90's were vastly superior to his songs from this past decade. In the 90's, a mulleted Toby lamented that he Should've Been A Cowboy while last decade, he just wanted to Talk About Me. I think this is a quality relation when comparing the "country" music of these two decades.

Great song. Bad video. Beautiful Mullet.

So without further ado, and with my head held high, I give you "Christopher's Nashville Nostalgia Trip"...

1. Blame It On Your Heart - Patty Loveless
2. We Were In Love - Toby Keith
3. No One Needs To Know - Shania Twain
4. Just To See You Smile - Tim McGraw
5. She Don't Know She's Beautiful - Sammy Kershaw
6. Small Town Saturday Night - Hal Ketchum
7. Some Girls Do - Sawyer Brown
8. Straight Tequila Night - John Anderson
9. Carrying Your Love With Me - George Strait
10. Little Bitty - Alan Jackson
11. Two Pinacoladas - Garth Brooks
12. Strawberry Wine - Deana Carter
13. Time Marches On - Tracy Lawrence
14. I'm Alright - Jo Dee Messina
15. Goodbye Says It All - Blackhawk
16. God Blessed Texas - Little Texas
17. Down Came a Blackbird - Lila McCann
18. She's Not The Cheatin' Kind - Brooks and Dunn
19. Who Needs You Baby - Clay Walker
20. Better Man - Clint Black
21. I Can Still Feel You - Collin Raye

Where's Dwight Yoakum? Dear reader, I didn't have the heart to include him on this playlist. I couldn't do that to one of my all-time favorite artists.

I'm reasonably confident that your average music appreciator could listen to this playlist and enjoy it. I'm not as confident as I would be if I was presenting someone Chris Chamberlain's Musical Journey Through the 90's but how could I be? When I give someone that compilation, I do so with the same confidence that I'm sure the Epstein brothers shared when presenting Michael Curtiz their Casablanca script.

Great song. Good video. Beautiful Canadian woman;)

I'm reasonably confident that you will enjoy this playlist. The question is...will you admit it? I wouldn't blame you if you choose not to.

Top5 Worst Songs that I have ever heard:

5. Walk A Little Straighter Daddy (Billy Currington) Shudder...

4. Before He Cheats (Carrie Underwood) Besides being abused at every karaoke bar across America, this song glorifies its violation of Rule #3 in Video Joe's Code of Ethics.

Rule#3 states: Thou shall not *mess with another person's automobile.

Just so you know...

Rule #2 states: Thou shall not tamper with another person's food.
Rule #1 states: Thou shall not push someone in a pool who is fully clothed. Shoutout to Kirk Mike.

I'm not confrontational but if I catch anyone in the act of breaking these three rules.....


3. Hell Yeah (Montgomery Gentry) I worked at Rent-A-Center very briefly in the Fall of '05. I had to go to people's homes and repo their furniture while they looked on. Many of them were drug addicts. It was also a hostile working environment in that the assistant manager looked at me in the way Waylon Smithers might gaze upon Mr. Burns. As I was loading a refrigerator in the store, I heard and saw this song playing on all 50 or so televisions in the store. It was too much. I left the fridge on the dolly and bailed...mid-shift. I could take a lot of things but Montgomery Gentry pushed me over the edge.

2. Honky Tonk Bedok...I can't even write it. (Trace Adkins) I copied this directly from Wikipedia - As a youth, an automobile accident where Trace slammed his head on a bus and left both his arms, a leg, and some ribs broken as well as his nose partially torn off. Trace Adkins has also experienced a number of serious injuries as an adult. He had the pinky finger on his left hand partially severed and surgically re-attached. He was involved in a number of bar room incidents, and was also shot in the heart and lungs by his second wife.Adkins denies abusing her but comments that the relationship was marked by excessive alcohol use.

My point could a musician who has lived such a hard life perform songs like this?

1. Have You Forgotten?(Darryl Worley) I like to imagine Darryl Worley driving cross-country with Bruce Springsteen in the passenger seat. They are listening to the radio when all of a sudden, Have You Forgotten? comes on. It is the most uncomfortable three minutes of Worley's life as he senses The Boss trying hard not to laugh. After the lyrics, "And you say we shouldn't worry 'bout Bin Laden Have you forgotten?", Worley cringes and turns to Bruce. "O.K. so what? I'm not nearly as gifted as you.", I imagine Worley admitting.

That was fun.


Thursday, April 29, 2010

Me Hungry.

If these "trying economic times" become too trying and almost every restaurant was forced to close, what are the Top5 establishments that I would hope could remain open? Hmmmmmmmm...........

5. Storm's (Lampasas, Burnett, etc TX) - Because of the grim circumstances in which I find myself having to choose, it would be wise to find a Hamburger Joint that I really like. Let's face it, everybody craves a good burger every once in a while. I've never tasted a better burger than the one this grease pit has to offer. The extreme danger involved in pulling in/pulling out of this establishment's parking lot is rewarded after you feel the grease from the initial bite pouring down your chin. But seriously, exiting the parking lot is extremely dangerous as the traffic from H183 whizzes by. It is like what Indiana Jones had to go through in his attempt to nab the Cup O' Christ in "The Last Crusade."

4. Olive Garden (anytown, USA) - If I can only eat at 5 restaurants then I'm gonna have to choose one that serves Italian. I love a salad and no place makes a better one IMNSHO. Something to try: When they serve the house salad accompanied with the Italian dressing, ask for some Ranch on the side. Mix it in. Gastronomic Nirvana.

3. Mary's Cafe (Strawn, Texas) - Eating a Chicken Fried Steak at Mary's was ranked somewhere in Texas Monthly's list (Bucket List) of things you must experience in Texas before you die. Surprisingly, in my 200+ visits there, I cannot recall ever ordering the Chicken Fry.


Hear me out. First of all, Chicken Fried Steak is not one of my favorite dishes. It took all I had just to order one from the Bull Nettle in Stephenville, TX after it was advertised that the beef came directly from Nolan Ryan's ranch in Alvin. Second, Mary's has nightly specials throughout the week such as All U Can Eat Catfish, Chicken Fajitas, Sirloin Steak, and I believe Chicken Fried Steak. This restaurant would be a very wise choice for someone who was facing the possibility of only having the opportunity to eat at 5 restaurants.

2. Lowake Steak House (Rowena, Texas) - Not only is this small West-Central Texas town the birthplace of Bonnie Parker (Bonnie and Clyde), it is also home to the first sirloin steak that made me cuss with satisfaction. "SONUVAB**CH, THIS TASTES SO FU#*IN' GOOD!", I exclaimed a little too loudly as a family of four looked at me with agreement yet disproval of my offensive outburst. I ate so much that I had to be escorted out like John Candy in The Great Outdoors." Thinking about that well-seasoned piece of meat, cooked medium to medium-well with french fries and A-1 sauce still makes me drool like Homer Simpson.

1. BJ's (Mingus, Tx) - Yes, that was my hometown for 18+ yrs. You can't wash Mingus off either.I've tried. And until "Anything for a Shot: The Life and Times of Video Joe" hits theaters, Mingus will always be known as the town that has the greatest pizza that I...and everyone I know have ever eaten. still maybe known as a town of 212 that at one time hosted 10 bars, but I digress...
If I was to be executed tomorrow, after my "Plea of Ignorance" fell flat, a large pepperoni pizza with a cold Miller Lite (6) would be my last meal. I don't wanna hear it, Waits. The pizza is delicious and the beer is Ice Cold. Well...that is until my friend, Terri S.(shoutout) decides you've drank to the point of not caring if she replaces your glass or not.

Shoutout to Smokestack Restaurant (Thurber, TX) - Great food...great people.

Stay Hard, Stay Hungry, Stay Alive


Thursday, March 25, 2010

A Small Price to Pay...

Five years ago next month, I walked into the ER at Harris Methodist Erath County hospital with a horrible right shoulder dislocation. After about four or five injections of anesthesia, I finally blacked-out long enough for the doctor to thrust my shoulder back into place.

I had broken the ball in my right shoulder (a knob-like "capitulum" on the lateral side - thanks that helps the arm rotate. I remember seeing my bicep muscle displaced somewhere near my armpit. I was told that I could never do military presses again but was shocked when even after five years, I still could not do proper bench presses or even throw a baseball. Ask K. Pevey (shoutout) how embarrassing it is to have an infielder on your team who has to throw under-handed from base to base. Up until three weeks ago, I sometimes even had discomfort sleeping on my right side.

So what happened three weeks ago?

As I was reaching for my toothpaste for my morning brush, I heard a "pop" and felt a slight shift in my shoulder. Something felt different. Was my shoulder somehow fixed? It felt like it. As I looked in the mirror, I strummed an Air Guitar; mimicking Pete Townshend's windmill motion with full painless rotation. I threw a right-cross and a haymaker to a fictional opponent as if I was Soda Popinski. No Pain. After I went into the full wind-up and hurled a fictional 100 mph fastball w/ a loud grunt, imitating Nolan Ryan, I knew that I'd been healed. At that moment, I realized that I had been living my life for the past five years with my shoulder somewhat out of place.

Last week, as I headed to SXSW in Austin, I was looking forward to a few days of chillin' in the home that my buddies had rented out for four days; not caring as much as they did about seeing the Indy Rock acts who would be showcasing their talent on 6th Street. On Wednesday night, I began hearing rumblings about the possibility of Hard Rocker, Andrew W. K., appearing at Buffalo Billiards. I had been a huge fan of his since my days as an Under-Grad. After I earned my Masters, I went as far as inviting the White-Jeaned Party Machine to my graduation party.


To digress like I've been known to do.....

Back in '04, fans could email A.W.K. with party invitations. He would often choose a party to crash, while bringing along a camera crew for a show he had on MTV (If my memory serves me correctly). I thought that it would be cool for him to attend my "Graduation Bash" with me and a couple other guys. Shockingly, I never got a response.

Anyway, I wasn't positive that Andrew W.K. was really going to be there. I heard rumors that he was going to "make an appearance." Beyond that, there was only a $5 cover charge. However, I began to suspect that the rumors were true when over the loud speaker, a voice recording repeated: Party, party, paRTY, PARty, PARTY, PaRtY at different tones and volumes for well over 5 minutes in preperation for the night's Main Event. As Andrew W.K. hit the stage like a hurricane, the crowd went nuts....some more so than others.

It was some time during this awesome two-hour Rock Show that I decided to try something I've always wanted to do...Stage Dive and Crowd Surf. I've since learned that there are some things a 200+ pound man should only dream about and not actually attempt.

As the Mosh Pit overtook the stage, a few fans hoisted Andrew W.K. on their shoulders as he sang/yelled "She is Beautiful". At this moment, I found myself at Center Stage with the spotlights shining down on me. This was my moment. With both arms raised in the air, I gestured to the crowd - much like Jimmy "Superfly" Snuka before his famous aerial theatrics from the top of the steel cage in his match with Don Murraco at Madison Square Garden in '83. I then executed my own version of the "Superfly Splash" on to the crowd of headbangers below. With all of their strength, they managed to hold me up for about three seconds until I was callously dropped to the cold, hard concrete floor.

My first instinct was to ask a friend to call for an ambulance. Feeling as though I might be horribly injured, I imagined what the doctor's reaction would be after I was stretcher-ed out of the muck and into the emergency room. "Son, you must have sh*t for brains to go out and pull a stunt like that", I figured the Doc would say to me in the most condescending way imagineable after I told him how I'd managed to break my back.

After I realized that I was being trampled like D.F. at the Boars Nest circa 2001, I managed to get to my feet. Maybe it was A.W.K.'s "I Love NYC" where he changed the lyrics to where he loved Austin, TX that brought me back...I dunno. Regardless, I jumped to my feet and back on the stage as fast as Jack Nicholson could in "Wolf". Suprisingly, I wasn't as hurt as I originally thought. However, as I began double fist-pumping again, I felt a sharp pain in my right shoulder. It was a pain that I had felt before.

The next day, I heard the same popping sound in my shoulder that I felt on that miraculous morning three weeks prior. Only this time, pain followed the "pop." I tried the Townshend Windmill and only made it half-way around before I writhed in pain. Yep, my shoulder was back to "normal." Back to having to toss baseballs underhanded like a girl, back to having to throw Ric Flair chops instead of haymakers (w/ all due respect), and back to not quite being 100 percent.

But hey, it only cost 5 bucks and I partied hard w/ no regrets. My re-injury was a small price to pay to see Andrew W.K.....

Top5 songs by Andrew W.K.

5. It's Time To Party - In this song, A.W.K. wants you to get ready to PARTY

4. Party Hard - In this song, A.W.K. wants you to PARTY to the best of your ability.

3. I Love NYC - In this song, A.W.K. loves to PARTY in a city so much that he writes a song about it.

2. Gotta Do It - In this song, A.W.K. lets us know that even though you may have partied too hard, you need to suck it up and continue to PARTY at the same speed.

1. We Want Fun - In this song, A.W.K. lets you know what his mission in life is - to PARTY!

Party Hard,

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

A Jive For The Weary Kind

As I sat frozen in my '04 Acura listening to "The Weary Kind" for the first time off of the Crazy Heart soundtrack, I knew that I was gonna love Bad Blake before I even saw the movie. After listening to the lyrics, I also realized that Ryan Bingham had written the perfect country and western song...and I felt obliged to Jive about it here at Top5. It is nominated for an Oscar and in my mind, no song has ever deserved the accolade more. Keep in mind, I say that knowing that a Springsteen song won the Oscar in the '93 season and another deserving tune by The Boss was later snubbed in '08. I think that the theme to Crazy Heart is better than both of those songs.

Over the course of the last month, The Pop-Culture Know-It-Alls and I ( Pontification Nation?) discussed our favorite movies of the decade with a lot of talk on the greatest performances. I cannot imagine a discussion without mentioning this fantastic, captivating, and charming performance by Jeff "the Dude" Bridges. I wondered if Kris Kristofferson was considered for the role but then guessed that the producers thought that Bridges could play Kristofferson more convincingly than Kristofferson could play himself. They were right.

Every performance chosen by the Academy has that one scene that justifies or solidifies the nomination. It's usually shot in Close-Up. Last year had Mickey Rourke's "I'm a broken down piece of meat." That same year there was Richard Jenkins' "Do you hear me...I mean DO YOU HEAR ME"? A few years before that we had Virginia Madsen telling Paul Giamatti that wine tasted "so f**king good". Bridges and his co-star Maggie Gyllenhaal have that scene too.It takes place in her doorway as Bad Blake's words are delivered with hurt, confusion, and above all...simplicity. It's a brief but emotional scene.

If you're in college and are looking for a fun drinking game with your sorrority or fraternity...when this movie comes out on DVD, try taking a shot every time Bad Blake has a nip. Much like Doc Holliday in Tombstone, Blake will make sure you aren't awake for the Third Act. He drinks a lot of booze....

And speakin' of booze....

I've been reading the autobiography of country music legend, George Jones. If drinkin' was an olympic sport, "No Show" Jones would certainly win some sort of medal. I read that he drank so much that he developed multiple personalities. One was "DeDoodle Duck" and the other was "The Old Man". He would talk like each one of them and argue back and forth. Insanity.

For Jones to win a medal in this "sprint to the grave", he would have stiff competition from other famous artists, writers, musicians, actors, politicians, athletes, etc. He would have to win out over such accomplished booze-hounds (in no particular order) such as Humphrey Bogart, Lee Marvin, Jack Keruac, Edgar Allen Poe, Dean Martin, Vincent Van Gogh, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, David Crosby, Johnny D., Boris Yeltsin, Winston Churchill, John Barrymore, Ernest Hemingway, Mickey Mantle, Babe Ruth, and John Daly. Let's not forget the women such as Calamity Jane and Judy Garland. George Jones would probobly defeat John Bonham (Led Zeppelin), Bon Scott (original AC/DC) and William Holden (The Wild Bunch, Network) by disqualification since their alcohol consumption directly contributed to their demise. Just for fun, we could have Jones compete with fictional boozers such as Homer Simpson, Barney Gumble, Norm Peterson, and Otis Campbell. To be certain, George Jones could probobly win out over many of these notorious lushes. However, there is one man...I mean one Giant that Jones, nor any other human in the history of mankind could defeat in the Battle of the Booze; that would be Andre the Giant.

Don't believe me? Check out this link at . I have a well thought-out theory as to why Andre is The Greatest Drinker in History. If you want to know, ask me in the Comments section and I would love to tell you.

Anyway, back to the country singers....

"And Ol' George Jones I'm Glad To See Is Finally Gettin' Straight"

Anyway...back to where I began. I strongly recommend Crazy Heart for those of you who dig a Strong Character Piece. You are not going to find a better performance than this one. This movie really struck a chord with me (pun!). My favorite line of the movie comes when Bad Blake is asked where he gets the ideas for his songs. "Life, unfortunately", he says. Now that's a great title for a movie I wish I could write - Love Actually's Evil, and Realistic Twin.


BTW, Collateral has been knocked out of my Top 10 of the decade.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Love This Song

After Johnny Cash covered Nine Inch Nails' version of "Hurt" in 2003, I remember Trent Reznor saying that (paraphrasing) after The Man In Black covers your song, it no longer belongs to you. Not that my opinion means anything, but I would have to put Eddie Vedder in the Exclusive List of Two who can take any popular original and make you forget that another version exists.

I've often stated that I first became a music fan at the age of 12 after listening to Nirvana. I have neglected Pearl Jam's contribution in my Musical Journey. I may have heard "Smells Like Teen Spirit" first, but "Alive" came maybe a week later. I still remember watching them on SNL in '92 and being blown away as Eddie Vedder "headbanged" right out of his cap. Anyway, "I Am a Patriot", written by Stephen Van Zandt and performed by Eddie Vedder is one of my all-time favorite songs.

Top5 Pearl Jam songs are:

5. Alive

4. Yellow Ledbetter

3. Here's to the State of Mississippi (live)

2. Corduroy

1. I Am a Patriot (live)

Shoutout to Who You Are and Better Man (live)


Sunday, January 10, 2010

Top 10 Movies of the Decade

What are my Top 10 movies of the decade? I've been looking forward to starting this discussion. Let's do this.......

10) Collateral (2004) - This is an underrated movie in my opinion. Tom Cruise was great as a grey-headed hitman and Jamie Foxx's performance was better than his Oscar winning role as Ray Charles that same year.

9) The Royal Tenenbaums (2001) - Gene Hackman talked Jive like you never heard in this role that was written specifically for him. It is very rare that I laugh out loud when watching a movie. I might smile a lot and say "that's funny", but that's about it. I laughed like DeNiro's Max Cady in this one.

8) Closer (2004) - Julia Roberts, Jude Law, Natalie Portman, and Clive Owen give heart-felt performances in this very "adult" film from director Mike Nichols. When the movie, "Anything for the Shot: The Life and Times of Video Joe" gets the Greenlight, I want Clive Owen to play me.

7) Almost Famous (2000) - For a long time, I thought that this "Coming of Age Story" could possibly move Goodfellas out of the no. 1 spot on my all-time list. Over the course of time, I started to be really annoyed by the Kid (Patrick Fugit). But then again, I usually dislike performances by kids in most movies. The cute little girls from In America being the exception. They were unbelievable. Anyway, this "Love Letter to RocknRoll" still stands the test of time.

6) Adaptation. (2002) - This is a "Cinematic Tour de Force". Besides Nic Cage giving one of the greatest performances in the history of Cinema, I was more fascinated with the John Laroche character played by Chris Cooper (in an Oscar-winning role). Laroche's passion is finding Orchids, which is a very rare flower. His obsession is very strange but I respect it. He reminds me so much of my friend Larry B. (shoutout), who's passionate about ham radio and renewable energy.

5) Lost in Translation (2003) - "An Actor's Showcase". The ending made the movie for me; it was such a great ending. Bill Murray should have won the Oscar instead of Sean Penn that year. Murray wrote the book on subtlety. Tell 'em, Brent.....

4) Sideways (2004) - "No turning to the Dark Side", "Do not sabotage me"...just two of the phrases that I've lifted from this "Buddy Film" from Alexander Payne. This movie gave me the not-so brilliant idea of planning an ambitious trip across "the Texas Beer Country". The voice of reason prevailed and we didn't go.

3) No Country For Old Men (2007)- This was a perfect movie that had one of the greatest villains ever. Javier Bardem was as frightening as the shark in JAWS. When the movie first came out, I was unaware of who Bardem was. I think that this lack of knowledge made his character more real to me.

2) High Fidelity (2000) - No suprise here. In the "what movie character is most like you" conversation, I like to think people would automatically link me to Alonzo from Training Day. Too bad that's never gonna happen. Instead, I would no doubt be linked to Rob Gordon from High Fidelity. It's a sad fact of life. I will say that I was making mix tapes and listing Top5's long before that movie came out. However, I have to give credit where it is due. Ever wonder where I came up with the name of my business? Watch this movie.

1) Before Sunset (2004) - This movie may very well be considered a "one-watcher". However, that does not take away from it's greatness. After seeing Before Sunrise (1995), I was emotionally invested in these characters from from frame number one. The movie is completely dialogue-driven and I clung to every word. Many have asked themselves, "What might have been" once or twice with no real chance of ever finding the answer. These characters get to do something that few ever have the opportunity to do - reconnect with The One That Got Away.

Shoutout to Ocean's Eleven for being pure entertainment.

What do you think about my Top 10?

"Anything for the Shot"