(Insert Your Own Title Here)

Much as I suspected in last week’s episode, a less-than-desired number of readers submitted any thoughts for the You Speak edition of Pocket Aces. Actually, only one person submitted actual thoughts while another might have, but I couldn’t tell if his email was just another chain in an ongoing series of inside jokes. In any case, the readers have spoken (or not in this case), so that’ll be the last request I make. Why so silent, people?

With a week to go before the big holiday that honors just how much money you can spend on friends and family, I’m going to avoid the a-typical “I hate holiday shopping” stream (I haven’t bought a single thing yet, honest) and will go in a completely different direction. That’s right my friends….let’s go to the movies!

As a public service, here’s what to expect at your local cinemas within the next year. Some of these, you may have heard of but I’m guessing unless you’re a movie trailer/teaser freak – much like The Roomate, who helped inspire this piece by an IM conversation last week during one of his study (insert dubbed laughing here) sessions – you probably don’t know what’s coming up. You can find all of these online by doing a Google search, but check out www.themoviebox.net for one-stop shopping.

Nason’s Movie Preview – 2004 Edition

–Batman Begins: I’m a huge fan of the comic book genre of movies, so I am definitely looking forward to the revamping of the Batman line with this June 2005 release. A nod to the darker side of the character, this will be nothing like the final two releases (Batman Forever and Batman and Robin) that almost ruined the franchise. In other words, there’s no Ahhhhnold or George Clooney. Starring Christian Bale, Michael Caine, Katie Holmes, Morgan Freeman and more, it will be filled with big names but presented in a form similar to the first two Batman films. I can’t wait. And yes, I am a comic nerd.

–Kicking and Screaming: The master of low-brow comedy, Will Ferrell, returns in this 2005 release. Ferrell plays a youth soccer coach that gets a bit too excited about running the team of six-year-olds. Much like Elf, this could either be really funny or a bit too watered down for hardcore Ferrell fans. I will say that the trailer features Ferrell in a tiger-striped blue windsuit. Enough said. On a side note, one of 2004’s funniest movies Anchorman, comes out on 12/28. Ferrell SHINES. You’ll never hear the word ‘trident’ the same way again.

—Million Dollar Baby: Can I use the term ‘an all-star cast’ now? Due in late-January, the film stars Hilary Swank as a female boxer who is seeking to be trained by Clint Eastwood, a hard-nosed trainer who doesn’t want anything to do with her. Morgan Freeman also stars as, well, the Morgan Freeman character that he plays in most movies. A predictable plot/ending? Probably, but anything with Clint deserves a shot.

–Mr. And Mrs. Smith: A spy movie with Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie that looks like an updated version of True Lies. The two are married and are having troubles because they’re both spies and can’t tell each other. By the look of the trailer, they figure it out and start doing missions together. The action looks good, but the plot’s been done before. Methinks this is one I’ll catch on DVD, although the thought of Jolie on a big screen is intriguing enough. But then, I remember she was all about Billy Bob Thornton at one point, so that previous thought just went away.

–XXX 2: Ugh. The first one was bad enough, but when did anyone decide that putting Ice Cube as the lead in the sequel was a good idea? Just another collection of one-liners, explosions and wasted money. I could go on, but it’s just wasting time like this movie will.

–Hostage: I know, I know. You might be saying, ‘Another Bruce Willis action movie?’ This January 21st release looks really good though. Willis plays a cop who comes onto the scene of a hostage situation inside a locked-down house. But as the trailer says, “The house holds a secret.” Apparently, there’s some important information on a computer that a super bad guy needs to get. He tells Willis that in order to save his own family (whom have also been taken hostage), he needs to get that data, even if it means sacrificing the family inside. High drama ensues. On the Clyde Special scale, maybe two of four sammiches. What is the Clyde Special, you ask?

The Clyde Special: Some of you on familiar with Pocket Aces are probably also familiar with Clyde, a blond-haired, unintentional one-line spewing dynamo. On his best day, Clyde is a comedy gem. On his bad days, weeelll, we won’t talk about that right now. Clyde has a certain affinity for movies that fall into the same general genre which is basically anything with Steven Seagal, Jean Claude Van Damme, Sly Stallone, or any black guy/white guy combo that you’ve seen in most buddy cop movies (think Blue Streak, Rush Hour 1 and 2, Exit Wounds, etc.). Sitting on an afternoon while Clyde scans the channels is an exercise in exactly how many obscure quotes one man can remember from so many obscure movies. It’s heart-warming, really. Every circle of friends needs a guy like this and Clyde fits the bill, even if you have to sit through Rocky III for the 32th time.

So when I refer to a movie as a Clyde Special, you know what movie you’re going to get: a big action star, some semblance of a plot and some violence – most times featuring a Chinese gang. And sammiches? It was a pronounciation of the traditional term ‘sandwich’ that he or someone else made. It just kind of stuck. Not one of his all-time greats, but still worthy of second-team status. Sammiches will replace the traditional star system that we know and love. Get with it people…it’s new for 2005.

–War Of The Worlds: A remake of the well-known H.G. Wells books on a Martian invasion, Steven Spielberg directs Tom Cruise in one of 2005’s most anticipated movies. This is another movie I’m looking forward to as most anything from SS is pretty damn good. And man, he does love alien movies. You’ll see this one in late-June.

–Constantine: Keanu Reaves returns! Rejoice! Another comic adaption, Reaves plays a supernatural detective that is helping another policewoman solve the suicide of her twin sister. Reaves is wanted by Hell but cannot return to Heaven, having made a deal years prior. Supernatural sh*t ensues. This also looks good, but I’m guessing a lot of people might stay away because of the plot line. Myself and others are still awaiting a reunion of Bill and Ted but alas, we’ll wait.

Willy Wonka And The Chocolate Factory: Grab your sheets of acid and bags of dope it’s a Tim Burton remake of one of the influential movies of our generation’s lifetime. A free ticket to a candy factory? Colorful characters that die from ingesting too much candy? Oompah-loompas? Throw in one of the best character-actors we’ve seen in a while – Johnny Depp – and a big budget and that equals success. Depp’s pulled off playing a pirate to the tune of kabillions worldwide. This will become a favorite of late-night college kids under the influence of some sort of illegal substance everywhere. Sign me up!

Side note: Where do you get the job of movie trailer/teaser voice guy? There’s like three guys who do it with that dramatic deep tone or happy-go-lucky fun movie voice. Imagine doing this voice at parties? “Bill has one shot….just one shot…to get a beer from the cooler” or “It’s Christmas time…let the present opening begiiiiiiin.” Just fantastic.

The New World: Colin Farrell – continuing in his ‘Let’s make some average heady films for a year or two’ stage – brings us this film about discovering America. There’s some Indians, some white folk, a beach, an Indian girl that Farrell will eventually fall in love with, blah, blah, blah. We already saw this movie when it was called Dances With Wolves.



The Life Aquatic: A subject that will causes much controversy and ill will in the Nason household is debating Wes Anderson movies. Anderson is a filmmaker that directed Bottle Rocket, Rushmore and what I consider one of the worst movies ever made: The Royal Tenenbaums. I consider myself a pretty open-minded guy when it comes to most anything (except eating onions or most green vegetables), but this movie sucks. One of my roomates considers this to be a great movie which means that I might be living with a crazy person. (Clyde Special rating: negative 18 sammiches. He hates this movie as well.) The thing with Anderson movies is that while liking them is supposed to mean you’re an intellectual savant, they all have that same feel – same graphics, same style of music, same actors. If Anderson is such a gifted director, why not branch out a bit? Anyhoo, this is Anderson’s latest effort about a family of Jacques Cousteau-types that try to rebuild their family as the father attemps to avenge his friend’s life being taken by a shark. I know…I know. You can’t wait to sit alongside wannabe Ivy Leaguers that refer to movies as pictures and enjoy the one-laugh-per-hour stylings of Anderson and company. In case you can’t tell, I can’t stand Wes Anderson movies.

And finally, what ever happened to Patrick Swayze?

Have a great holiday,

nason

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Liars and cheats, cheats and liars…

How often do you lie?

Think about it: how often do you tell a story to either a) get out of a situation, b) get into a situation or c) maintain a situation? A lot? A little? Everyday? Never (liar)? Just think about for a quick second…

One.

Two.

Three (ok, we’re back).

In the recent fallout of the BALCO investigation in California and the parade of bullsh*t that is our political process, I’ve been thinking about lying and exactly where it fits into our daily lives. I mean, it must, right? People tell fibs or ‘white’ lies every single day: to sell people on an idea that doesn’t really exist or lacks the luster of what they’ll actually accept. Hey, I run a sales department. It’s practically on my resume.

To me, I think it’s perfectly acceptable to bend a truth a bit, so long as the ends justify the means. If the result of a little bit of knowledge could really mess up someone’s life, then I think it’s ok to not exactly put that out there. This actually happened to me a few years ago and after much conversation, I kept my word to myself that I’d never talk about a certain incident again because it could be potentially damaging to two people. (I’ve got you now, right? Drama…) But on that same vein, there also comes a point where doing the right thing should supercede everything. I leave this up to the moral conscious (sp?). Within each person is a little switch that tells them what to do…it’s up to everyone to decide whether or not to turn the switch on. Doing that may not be easy, but if it’s the right thing to do, as Wilford Brimley said, ‘it’s the right thing to do.’ What could then be debated is whether moral ‘switches’ are different, i.e. if someone doesn’t believe in homosexuality and chooses to out someone, is that good? There are so many levels to this that I need at least two more degrees to properly put it in its place.

On the flip side, it sucks to be lied to and then to know about it. C’mon, we’ve all felt it: that uneasisness that you know something you’re not supposed to and that the person next to you believes their facade is intact. It could be information about their future at work, something about their significant other or the truth about a situation they’ve lied to you about. The $64,000 question is whether it’s your responsibility to erupt with the truth or do you perpetuate the lie by not saying anything? (My head is starting to spin…) Can you make someone else’s life better by admitting you know they didn’t tell you the truth? Will it change that person for the better? I’m still struggling with this one, but I think you use that same thought I had above: if it’s the right thing to do, do it. As you all do, I find myself involved in these scenarios way too much which definitely carries a burden with it. But as long as those ends keep justifying those means, I, and you, keep on truckin’.

I won’t even get into Santa Claus, the Tooth Fairy, the Easter Bunny, the Trix Rabbit, etc., etc. Mythical characters are one of the biggest lies of all and are protected almost to national proportions. You know the joke, “Oh yeah, the Easter Bunny is fake too.” What kid doesn’t remember that moment when their whole childhood just seems like a sham after finding out none of these figures exists? It’s almost like lying is part of our natural framework and to fight against it is futile. We practically teach it!

I guess the point is that we’re surrounded by fantastic liars everyday: our bosses, our legal system, our friends/our family, our churches, our government, etc. to the point where nothing’s real. The Matrix was based on this belief that everything is know is really not everything we know. While kind of far-fetched, the idea is solid just in a less-than-Keanu sort of way.

What sparked this topic by the way? Oh, I don’t know….

(See, I can do it too!)

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We’ve been doing this little weekly get together for almost four months now and aside from a few comments on each one, there’s really no easy forum for you to chime in on. Until now…

Next week, this column is all yours. That’s right – I’m handing over the keys to you. What I ask is that you write a paragraph or two on anything you want. It doesn’t have to be a subject covered here or related to anything. Just write something. Of course, some of you are thinking you’re not talented enough to write something or you have nothing to say.

Bullsh*t. Everyone has something to say and this is your chance. You don’t even have to put your name. Just reply back to joshnason@hotmail.com and I’ll be the only one that knows and it’ll be our little secret. There’s at least 30-40 people on this list that have a voice that don’t even know each other…I want to hear it!

Honestly, I fully expect like five people to write something. Prove me wrong….please?

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A lil’ Sox talk, if I could?

With one of the best weeks in the year upon us – the baseball winter meetings – it’s no big shock the Sox are involved in so much bizness. But this much bizness? Crazy…

1) The David Wells signing. I like it, but this staff is getting very old, very fast. If Pedro ends up returning (doubtful at this point) and joins a rotation of Schilling, Wells, Wakefield and Arroyo, along with old dogs like Mike Timlin and Alan Embree in the pen, shouldn’t there be a bit of worry there? Whatever happens, Wells in Boston should be something that will be remembered for a LONG time. But hey, we won a World Series right? Who cares?!

2) To Rent-eria or Not Rent-eria: Saturday night, ESPNews was reporting that Edgar Renteria was inked to a four-year/$40 million contract pending a physical. Apparently, that was a bit premature and St. Louis, Detroit and a few others are still interested. This made me think though: why wouldn’t they just ink Orlando Cabrera for the same (or even a bit less)? And what about Hanley Ramirez, the shortstop prospect for the future? Eventually, the Sox would like to get some lower-priced talent playing in the bigs but their options are to 1) convert Hanley to 3rd – 2nd base or 2) deal him for a younger starting pitcher that will fill a potential void in two seasons. I guess anything’s better than Nomar though…thanks beautiful.

3) Other news on the rumour mill:

–Manny to the Mets: They’re looking to overpay for a slugger and Manny hasn’t been suspected of ‘roiding yet. But the amount of cash still owed to #24 probably will not let this happen. The Sox reportedly want Kaz Matsui to fill the shortstop void (negating the Cabrera deal) and would have to take Cliff Floyd to help out the Mets. Probability: doubtful.

–Carlos Delgado to Boston: Apparently, Theo’s met with his agent for two days straight. Wow. This came out of nowhere. A few things would have to happen here: Manny getting moved, either Kevin Millar/Doug Meinterdvl;wicz getting dealt and Theo to bite on what’s being called a four-year, $64 million asking price. Damon, Mueller, Ortiz, Delgado, Floyd and Nixon as a top six? Mmmmm….this feels too much like the ‘What about A-Rod’ talk that dominated our 2003-2004 winter months. Probability: doubtful.

Man, this is fun though. Baseball’s offseason is the best because the ability to trade is easier that most other sports and there are many other players (top minor leaguers) that come into the equation. This is the best week ever!

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Don’t forget…I want to hear your thoughts! Send everything to me by next Sunday.

Fo shizzle,

nason

Health, Requiem and Lavar!

I think one of the scariest things about growing older is how your body changes with time. A couple pounds here, a few wrinkles there, a few less hairs, a few more gray hairs…you’re picking up what I’m puttin’ down here.

What’s even scarier is when you things happen that you’ve always associated as bad – like chest pains. About three weeks ago, I got random strikes of pain in my chest at random times and with no real reason why. A couple people told me it was probably just stress, but I kept asking myself, “What if it’s something else?” Nevertheless, it freaked me out. The normal everyday mentions of heart attacks and heart disease started striking home a lot more, topped off by an episode of the Simpsons which I randomly caught. The main storyline? Homer getting a heart attack. I made an appointment bright and early the next day. When a giant yellow cartoon starts making you think about your own health, it’s time to seek a professional opinion.

After running a few tests, there was no real danger listed other than something that every American hears these days, “You should probably drop some weight.” While certainly not obese, I could stand to get a bit healthier with my eating habits as I’m at a higher risk for diabetes (thanks to heredity) than most. It’s something that I’ve always known was coming, but to hear for this first time that I’m at risk for a disease like that is a bit unnerving. What’s amazing is what else that my going to the gym three times a week is supposedly more than 99% of what Americans do today. That was shocking.

Our country and culture have gone the way to excess in a fashion we’ve never seen. Obesity is the no. 1 killer among Americans today (somewhere above Masschussetts drivers, ice storms and Flavor Flav) and it’s the most preventable. But eating and being healthy is HARD. Fast food seemingly has never been cheaper and more readily available. Supermarkets now flow with healthy sections of their stores, but the prices are almost two-three times as expensive. We work longer and harder, taking more of a toll on our bodies and our free time to do things like visit a gym or go for a walk/run. We have no one to blame but ourselves…we’ve created a culture in which being healthy is a luxury.

So I’ve made the choice to get out of the shadow of statistics and re-assess everything in terms of my health. I’m only 26, but why not get back to basics? I don’t want to be one of the unhealthy more, another sad story that you see everyday. I want to live, damn it!!! (okay, that went a little too hokey/Varsity Blues locker room scene, I know.) But seriously, I want to feel good again and it starts this week. No waiting until New Year’s to make resolutions that won’t ever be realized. No crash diets. No unrealistic ideas of short-term..it’s long-term planning from here on out. It’s going to tough, but with a little help from my friends, I’ll make it happen. I don’t really have a choice.

Other random notes of interest or non-interest:

–I guess the word ‘blog’ was Merriam-Webster’s number one word of the year in terms of being looked up on the internet, besting worthy contenders like incumbent, partisan, hurricane and cicada. Interesting. I will tell you that from reading some other blogs out on the Blogger.com site, there’s a lot of writing out there that brings another top 10 word to mind – sh*t.

–I went to the shoe store on Friday and asked where the shoelaces were. The lady behind the counter looked at me, almost befuddled, and said, “We don’t have any.” A shoe store that doesn’t carry shoelaces? Isn’t this like a crack house not having syringes?

–After attending the first of what will be a few holiday-theme parties this weekend, this will be a busy few weeks leading up to XXX-Mas. I have the office holiday party this week, which is following suit with many others across the country – tamed down and thrown on a weekday with no late work day to follow. Re-donk-ulous! Companies are so worried of reprecussions from these events (the office drunk making a scene, one night only romances, drunk driving) that some are not even bothering to host parties because they don’t want the responsibility. When did we start becoming such a scared and frightened society anyway? I would say to stay tuned for good details coming from Tuesday’s party but with it ending at 10 pm, I think I have a better chance of making it home for the 11 pm SportsCenter than having anything worthy to write about that’s worth reading.

–Let’s throw out a scenario here: a guy that loves hard rock of all sorts pops in a CD. On this CD is new track by pop diva Kelly Clarkson. The rocker skeptically listens and (gulp) actually likes it. To the point of hitting repeat on the CD player. Twice. The thought of slipping further into full adult contemporary radio status almost as scary as the chest pains, to be honest.

–To close out this week, this Tuesday marked quite a night for me. I went into the basement to do a little laundry and my newest nemesis, the Requiem For A Dream dvd, again started taunting me. Having nothing else to do at 7:30, I decided to commit myself to 30 minutes to see how freaked out by this movie I was going to be. Remember, three people had mentioned what a ‘disturbing’ movie this was so I was prepared to hit pause at several points. Two hours or so later, I finished the movie and was thoroughly impressed at what I had seen. I’m a big fan of filmmakers delivering stories using camera/special effect techniques that you haven’t really seen before. This film about four lives affected by drugs is amazing at some points and sad at others. While I wasn’t as put off as some of my compadres, the music used, combined with the images paint an ugly portrait of what is happening in America every single day. For innovative filmmaking, I’d highly recommend Reqiuem.

-Hey, whatever happened to Lavar Burton from Reading Rainbow anyway?

Thanks for reading,

nason