Pop Culture Junkette

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Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Quite a Double Feature

Last night, Mrs. Bartender and I decided at the last minute to see David Cronenberg's Eastern Promises. Needless to say, scoring tickets was not a problem as there were only 5 of us in the theater. Regardless of crowd size, the movie was excellent: Extremely well acted, extremely violent, and extremely clever. Viggo Mortensen is fantastic as a Russian mob cleaner with his physical transformation from other roles being uncanny. While there are a few scenes that will make the squeamish turn away, I highly recommend this film and thought it even better than A History of Violence.

(SPOILERS) The story involves Anna (Naomi Watts), a midwife, who delivers the baby of a dying girl who, as her diary reveals, has been brought from the former Soviet Union as a sex slave. Anna, who is half Russian, is drawn into a world that fascinates her but of which she understands little. Semyon (played by the excellent Armin Mueller-Stahl) is the head of the mob family, but his biological son, Kirill, is, for various reasons, ill fitted to the mob life. Ultimately, it is his son's "perversions" that prove fatal to Semyon for a variety of reasons. Not only does Kirill respond to gossip about his sexuality to kill a mob captain igniting a bit of a mob war, but his inability to rape the sex slave leaves this job to his father. The resulting pregnancy ultimately proves his undoing. There is even more cleverness that I will not bother to touch. (SPOILERS END)

After returning home from this excellent movie, I planted myself in front of the TV (thankfully, TBS HD miraculously appeared yesterday) to watch the Padres/Rockies epic. When I tuned in it was 6-5 Rockies, but the Padres quickly tied it up on a misplay by Matt Holliday. Ultimately, as any baseball fan knows, the game stayed tied until the 13th, when the awful Jorge Julio unsurprisingly gave up a two run homer, seeming to put the Padres in the playoffs. In comes Trevor Hoffman (no Hells Bells in Coors Field) to wrap up the game, but before you could blink, the Rockies had hit two doubles and a triple (Holliday, redeeming himself and perhaps winning the MVP), and had tied the game. One pitch later, Jamey Carrol hit a sacrifice fly, and the Rockies had won (although Holliday probably never touched home plate but was ruled safe). (Now is not the time for the instant replay debate, but (1) other than HR calls, I think it is a very bad idea and (2) it would not have made a difference here because the replay is not conclusive that he did not touch the plate; he most likely didn't, but he might have.)

That game was baseball at its finest. It was the first walk off win in a single game tiebreaker, a claim that is somewhat misleading because the NL used to play a 3 game tiebreaker, and Bobby Thomson's HR was certainly a walk off.

With the Rockies making the playoffs, only the Yankees were in the postseason in 2006 and 2007; for a sport that is often attacked for lack of competitive balance, half of the teams have made the postseason in just the past 2 seasons. What happens from here is anyone's guess (I still can't fathom how a mediocre Cardinals team won last year), but the next 4 weeks will be a lot of fun. Just for the heck of it, I will pick the Cubs and Rockies in the NL and the Yankees and Red Sox in the AL. And as a Yankees fan, I dread another Yankees/Red Sox battle; I can't handle all the stress.

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