Monthly Archives: December 2013

Review: Grudge Match

Formulaic, totally predictable, outrageously unrealistic, kind of creepish in places — but sort of fun.

Two aging (aged? — De Niro is 70 and Stallone 67) boxers have a 30-year-old score to settle, and where better to put things to rights than in the ring, yes? Add into the mix a complicated past relationship (Kim Basinger, looking all awkward and basically unlikable with her potty mouth and constantly bewildered/angry facial expressions), a grown son and his 8-year-old boy (insert standard-issue, precocious, smiley-faced, sing-songy-voiced cherub with the vocabulary of a Harvard grad), and you have what most critics are calling a dismal failure.

But, as usual, what the cinesnobs pan, we generally enjoy. Ha. Go figure.

Maybe it’s because we’re “older” and these two actors were very much a part of our young adult lives. Rocky and The Deer Hunter were the first memories I have of these former box office giants. I still think they’re great, and maybe I channel too much of that nostalgia into my overall opinion of their more recent work, which, by many barometers in the business, has been labeled substandard.

But hey — qui s’en soucie? Psh. We like what we like. So what if they should’ve hired Chris Rock to “do” himself onscreen, rather than the poor imitation floated by Kevin Hart? So what if you could have seen Alan Arkin playing the curmudgeonly old trainer with a heart of gold trick from a hundred miles away? So what if it was borderline creepy to watch two rather leathery, wrinkled dudes go at it in slo-mo in the boxing ring? (I always look away on the slow-motion punch shots…eww…)

Rocky Balboa and Jake LaMotta they weren’t, trust me. But the premise was kind of kitschy and throwback, you know? Like a private joke between them and those of us who remember going to the theater to see Rocky and Raging Bull back in ’76 and ’80, respectively. Both men retained part of their boyish charm, even if some of the obviously improvised patter in a few of the scenes seemed a bit forced.

Could have completely done without Kim Basinger, however. First, she struck me immediately as too young for the part she played (former lover of both men), even though she is only seven years younger than Stallone in real life. Second, her face rarely changed from appearing honked off or confused. Come on, people; show us at least one redeeming factor to make us want these two to end up together.

OK, enough snarking already. It was what many movies are designed/destined to be: a harmless romp with some laughs for an afternoon at the matinee. We liked it. Oh, and that guy from Walking Dead  is in it, too.

On the Rat-O-Meter scale of five cheeses, I give Grudge Match:

Read, read, read


Honestly, that’s about all I did yesterday. I said I was going to do a whole lot of nothing, but it ended up being a great deal of Fabs — all the live-long day, and into the night.

I’ve mentioned before that I am working my way through a rather hefty treatise on the Beatles’ early years (Tune In). Clocking in at 1250 pages, I’ll be at it a while, seeing as how I’m only 200 into it. But I’m enjoying it completely, as I’m learning so much more about their pre-fame days (the book starts when their parents were born, and works slowly and meticulously forward).

Fortunately for me, I won’t be done with the Lads when I’m done with Tune In. For Christmas, Santa brought me these as well. I look forward to starting them around, oh, March, when I finally make it to the page in Lewisohn’s book where they stepped off the plane in New York, in February 1964. Man, I wish I’d been there.

I’m relatively knowledgeable regarding the Beatles’ public life, their effect on society and pop music in general, and the basic chronology of their adult lives and how and why the band finally broke up. All good fans should know that stuff. What I’m really enjoying now is the off-the-beaten-path information; the backstories and little-known facts about where and how they began. I mean, I knew about the fateful July 1957 Woolton church summer garden fete (where John met Paul, and Paul impressed him — which was near impossible to do — with his Little Richard and Elvis songs, and actually knowing how to play a real guitar), and about the Hamburg days and Pete Best and Stu Sutcliffe, etc. But their private studio experiences, as well as all the stories behind all their songs…well, that’s mighty delicious, and I’m keen to get started on it.

But first — we need to watch the Browns lose their final game of the season. I just wish it wasn’t going to be at the hands of the filthy St*****s. Blah.

Happy Sumday, fiends! Rest easy.

Out from under the carpet

To my readers: Still waiting to see what the dev says about the comment count issue. Until I get it sorted, please click on the title of each post to see if there are any comments. Thanks!

This last week has flown by pretty fast. Too fast, like most vacations do. Already I’m planning my strategy for next week, as Christmas break ends and second semester kicks in. Lots on my reptilian brain at the moment.

I had a great Christmas with my family, and I hope you did with yours as well. We had our rescheduled family dinner and gift opening last night, and it was wonderful. Trouble is, while I’m over the nasty flu I had on Christmas Eve day, the exhaustion part has kicked in and I am pretty much wiped out. Yay for this weekend, when I have resolved to do absolutely nothing. Yay for having a good job that allows me weekends off, and some vacation time to re-energize. Yay for Christmas vacation. Yay.

The only downside of extended breaks like this is that the time off has me thinking and planning and worrying about an upcoming grueling rehearsal schedule. I hate that about me. Why worry? Stuff’s going to happen as stuff’s going to happen; no use in fretting about it. So I work on not fretting. It’s a process. :-)

Anyhow, for today — nothing on my plate whatsoever, and I like that. I haven’t even made the coffee yet. But I should probably do that.

Here’s to a quiet day. I hope you can have one, too.


The stockings are hung by the chimney

Actually, no, they’re not. We have neither stockings nor a chimney.

Now isn’t that funny? An American family that doesn’t “do” the stocking thing. It’s a wonderful tradition, but it was never observed by my family growing up. We had great Christmases, and we lived in a couple of houses that had fireplaces, but they just never included hanging stockings. Why is that? I never asked my mother, even though I thought it was a cool idea to have extra little presents waiting in a hanging sock.

We did it a few times when the boys were little, but never really stuck with the tradition. Hmm. Not a huge deal to me now, especially since it’s just the Thriller and me in the house, and our children do stockings for their own kids.

Whatever your Christmas plans and traditions, I hope they’re wonderful tonight and tomorrow. I’m feeling a bit tired…I think I’ll hold the couch down for a while this morning before getting busy for my gathering later on tonight. We’re down one family, unfortunately (Jake has the stomach flu, poor baby).

Merry Christmas, fiends — relax and enjoy your families today!


Hey, guess what. :-D

It’s funny that choral directors talk about the Christmas season in past tense, when Christmas hasn’t even arrived yet. But there you have it. Done and done, and now it’s all — wait. It’s all arrange music for spring, choreograph a tap routine…but truth be told, I love it. It’s a good way to spend some time off.

Yesterday, I ran around the town with 12 awesome teenagers who sang in three different locations, then came back to feed them at my house. It was wonderful and special, and fun was had by all.

And now we rest. Christmas Eve is the next gathering, and I’m looking forward to that.

So, the new RtB digs. What do you think? There could be more changes; I’m not 100% sold on this one, although I think it’s pretty. Not sure it’s me, and not sure how I will incorporate my new logo on it. I will be goofing around with it over the next couple of weeks, so if you happen to check in and everything looks helter-skelter and higgeldy-piggeldy, you’ll know why.

But for now — Christmas is coming! The goose is getting fat! (So are the Fink and the Thriller, yikes…gotta get back on the wagon.)

Holiday hugs to all my fiends this day.