Thursday, October 31, 2013

Like the night before Christmas, only better...

Our Beloved Redman Mascot -
torn away by the PC Nazi's
Excitement abounds on the online message boards as the 2013-14 college basketball season is about to tip off.  There are high hopes in St. John's Redmen, I mean Red Storm land (old habits die hard...).  The Big East conference has been reshaped and those nasties from UConn and Syracuse booted out.  What is left is largely the old Big East Catholic schools: SJU, Seton Hall, Gerogetown, Providence, Marquette, Seton Hall and DePaul.  Also coming in are two Jesuit centered schools Xavier and Creighton.  The tenth member is Butler, who are agnostic except when down by seven with less than a minute to play.  Fox Sports is carrying almost all of the games to a nationwide audience. These are truly exciting times for college basketball.

Compounding the eager anticipation is the fact that the Redmen, I mean Red Storm, look very good on paper.  Leading scorer from last year, D'Angelo Harrison is back and is vowing to keep his brittle temprament in check.  Our big blocker, Obekpa is back.  Big East Rookie of the Year, Jakaar Sampson is back.  We have recruited a blue chip point guard, Rasheed Jordan (yeah, like anyone named Jordan can be any good).  We have the great names of God'sGift and Sir'Dominic coming back.  The 24 year manchild (but not yet professional, really) Dominican Sanchez has been cleared to play.  And finally, we have a redshirt transfer from Harvard with the greatest name in all of basketball: Max Hooper.  His job is to shoot threes and threes only.  The headlines will write themselves!

SJU has two exhibition games this weekend before heading west to take on the Badgers of the University of Wisconsin (preseason rank # 20) on Friday Nov 8th.  We don't need no stinkin' Badgers...

Let's hope this talented group of Redmen Johnnies can emulate the past greats of Mullin, Berry, Jackson, et al.  LET'S GO ST. JOHN'S!!

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Book Review: Ethan Frome

An oldie but a goodie. This one and was laying around the house practically begging to be read and being more novelette than book was quickly devoured.  Written by Edith Wharton and published in 1911, it is a dark unsentimental story almost Gothic in style and set in the snow covered hills of New England.  Here, one cold winter, the narrator comes across the protagonist, the quiet, unassuming and partially crippled, Ethan Frome.  Despite pressing the townsfolk about his past, they are generally tight-lipped about what brought the middle-aged Frome to this state, other than he has endured hardship and some sort of terrible accident in his youth.

The narrator, a visitor on a work assignment, needs a daily taxi (horse and carriage) to the next village and hires Frome,  gradually befriending him.  One night, during a bad snowstorm, Frome invites the narrator into his home and there inside are two older and worn women.  From this point on, the tale switches to the third person and the details of Frome's demise and present state are revealed.  Let's just say he had women (plural) problems.   And he was weak willed.  A poor combination, exacerbated by being housebound in a long Massachusetts winter...

Edith Wharton went on to win the Pulitzer Prize in 1920 for The Age of Innocence.  Based on her own chequered marital history, there may well be some basis for fact in Ethan Frome.

As mentioned, Ethan Frome is a quick read but a fine book and worth seeking out.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Movie Review: Gravity

The human stars of Gravity are Sandra Bullock and George Clooney; however the real star of the show is the special effects department.  It is hard to believe the action and effects are computer generated and the filming did not actually take place in space.  We watched it in 3D and for once the 3D effects actually enhanced the film.

While we hear the voices of mission control, there are really only two characters in the movie: Ryan Stone (Bullock) and Matt Kowalski (Clooney).  The story takes place almost entirely in space and the time frame is only a few hours.  Kowalski is leading his last space shuttle expedition and Stone is on her first.  While she is on a space walk, working on the Hubble telescope and Kowalski is clowning around with a jet pack, they get news that the Russians have purposefully destroyed one of their satellites and the debris is heading their way.

From this point on, all hell breaks loose.  The space shuttle is badly damaged by the debris.  Kowalski and Stone must defy the short odds and use their experience and training (and in Stone's case, lack thereof) to survive.  There is not much of a story / plot but the action sequences are terrific and as mentioned, the effects are first rate.  Both actors are tremendous and Bullock will probably get an Oscar nomination.

Overall it is not as good as Apollo 13 (1995) and it makes you realize how brilliant the effects were (for their time) in 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968).

I rate Gravity an A-.