Monday, March 31, 2008


PETER & THE WOLF won the Oscar for Animated Short this year. It was run on PBS's GREAT PERFORMANCES last week. I hope it reruns, because it is a fantastic piece of stop-motion animation. Needless to say, the music is wonderful. Prokofiev wrote a brilliant piece of music that just happens to explain the concepts of orchestration to children (and, in passing, also explains leitmotivic development).

Unfortunately, the narration is written for the youngest of children, and not only gets in the way of the music, it talks down to the audience. On top of that, the original story isn't very good. This film quite smartly dumped the narration and used the visuals of the animation to tell the story instead. The character animation is absolutely astounding, perhaps some of the best I've seen in stop-motion. They completely rewrote the ending to make the story much more intelligent and involving. It's a little more scary for the young children, but (MILD SPOILER) I think kids need to know that something that's dead STAYS dead.

In order to fill out the hour, there is a "making of" video that is almost as interesting as the film itself. It took them 5 years to make the film, and they used a lot of seamless visual effects to smooth out the problems with animation, while remaining true to the look of the stop-motion animation.

I don't think this is scheduled to run again soon, but if you get the chance, check it out. It's well worth it.

Dodgers Sweep Giants on Opening Day!

The Dodgers began celebrating their 50th anniversary in Los Angeles by introducing many stars of the past immediately before the game, and it was pretty breathtaking seeing everyone from Don Newcombe and Sandy Koufax to Fernando Valenzuela walk out onto the field, most of them in uniform. The crowd of 56,000 was suitably impressed. You couldn't have asked for a more beautiful day for baseball, with sunny skies and a starting temperature of 62 degrees.

They celebration continued in the first inning with a 2-run homer from Jeff Kent, allaying any fears that his hamstring injury would hold him up this season. That would have been enough to win the game, with Brad Penny pitching very well into the 7th inning. Proctor got the last out in that inning, followed by perfect innings from Joe Beimel and Takashi Saito, to complete a shutout of the hated Giants, 5-0.

Offensively the Dodgers did well. Leadoff batter Rafael Furcal got 3 hits, and RBI and a run scored. Batting 7th, lucky #7 James Loney got 2 hits and a walk, and a run scored. Rookie Dewitt got his first hit in his first major league at-bat (and scored as well) after initiating a 5-4-3 double play in his first play in major league baseball.

The kids look very good. Delwyn Young needs to redevelop the plate patience he had that helped get him to the major leagues. He seems very anxious to swing.

If there's anything hollow about this victory, it's how terrible the Giants looked. Barry Zito's fastball sat at around 84 mph throughout the game, and it took him a lot of pitches to barely make it through 5 innings. Their geriatric team looked weak in every way, from pitching to hitting to fielding (although there were no errors).

But the Dodgers could not have asked for a better way to start the season!!!

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Red Sox Beat Dodgers at Coliseum

(Photo copyright Kevin Delin, taken with iPhone)

It was an amazing sight, yet an eerily strange feeling to see the Dodgers playing where I usually see USC football. They did an amazing job turning a football stadium into a baseball stadium for a one-night event! The atmosphere was absolutely electric.

Unfortunately, the Dodgers did not look good. Fifth starter Loaiza did nothing to encourage keeping him in the rotation, except for the fact that he has a contract. Although only 2 of his 5 runs were earned, he pitched a scant 3 innings and threw an awful lot of balls, and the 5 runs all came on 2 homers over that tall left field net.

At the plate, Juan Pierre went 0 for 2 with a strikeout. I can't imagine him in the starting lineup. If Torre does not have the cojones to bench him, then I don't understand why we bothered hiring him. This is the exact situation an experienced manager was hired for. Having dealt with the Yankees egos for over a decade, he should be able to deal with Pierre.

Kemp got 3 hits and Loney got 2, including a home run.

Blake Dewitt looks like a keeper at 3rd base, hitting a 2-run homer and making 2 great line drive catches at third. He also made a high throw to 1st for an error, but here's a kid who has never played above AA ball, and suddenly he's in front of a 115,300 person crowd at the Coliseum. The kids are alright.

Yesterday would have been my Dad's 90th birthday. It was nice spending it at the ballpark, watching his favorite team win.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008


With the exception of a 10-minute ad for iTunes (showing the Idol wannabees downloading their own songs on iTunes!?!), the show had nothing more than expected. The call-in spots definitely have to go. Thank god for Tivo!

Syesha did not belong in the bottom 3 based on last night's performance, but Chickeze has been among the worst for weeks now. I shed no tears over his loss.


A mixture of terrible and pretty good this week.

Ramiele was weak for the second week is a row (although the judges loved her last week) and she may be among the bottom 2 this week.

Syesha did her best yet. She has been borderline for a few weeks now; if there's any justice, she'll be fine this week.

David Cook and Michael Johns both kicked ass tonight. They both look like the people to beat.

Chickeze and Carly Smithson were both good but not great. Considering Chickeze's track history, I'd say he may still be in trouble.

Kristy Lee Cook made a brilliant song choice which will save her ass. Every redneck in the country will be voting for her for singing PROUD TO BE AN AMERICAN. Her performance wasn't terrible, but she's definitely the worst singer left on the show.

Jason Castro was forgettable, which is often dangerous, but this week there were clearly some worse singers. Brooke White and David Archuleta are both safe as well.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Angels 8, Giants 1

The Angels looked great and the Giants looked equally weak for a second day in a row.

Angels prospect Nick Adenhart pitched 6 shutout innings. That, combined with a whopping 17 hits from the Angels was enough for a good win. The hits were well-spread amongst the Angels. Eric Aybar hit his 3rd home run of the season. Catcher Mike Napoli upped his average with 2 hits, plus 2 runs, and an RBI. Chone Figgins got 2 hits and an RBI.

The Giants got a paltry 4 hits during the game. Bonds' departure has left them with no pop.

Tempe stadium is nice, but there's virtually no shade. Today's game was a sellout. The temperature only hit 83, but the Phoenix sky is crystal blue, and the sun beats down heavily. Several people seemed to have problems with the heat and needed medical attention. They did a minor upgrade of the stadium a few years ago, they need to add more shade coverage like the other parks.


With the week off, I have decided to spend some time in Phoenix watching a few MLB Spring Training games. The weather is beautiful, and spring training is a great time to see both up and coming players and some old favorites. Since we're getting late in the training period, the games are getting more and more like real games with starting pitchers going deeper into the games, and the lineups starting to resemble opening day.

The first game I saw yesterday had the Angels playing Oakland at Phoenix Stadium, the A's local park. It's an older park that keeps the small size of the field and park so even the worst seats are very close to the field. There's a beautiful view of the Arizona skyline, and with a 72 degree temperature at first pitch, it was cooler than many spring training games. And with no TV coverage, the games fly by very quickly.

The Angels looked very good. The first four innings were scoreless. Erwin Santana looked like the young ace he should have been years ago, going 6 scoreless innings.

Rich Hardin for the A's looked OK, giving up 2 runs in 6 innings. Keith Foulke has returned to the A's, after leaving Boston as their closer, then taking a year off after surgery. He gave up a grand slam to Vladdy in his one inning of work, so he clearly has not returned to form.

Gary Matthews went 4-for-4 and Howie Kendrick went 2-for-3 in the 6-1 victory. The lone run for the A's came in the 9th when Serrano came in for the final inning.

The second game I went to was a rare evening game in Scottsdale, where the Cubs played the Giants in their local park.

I've been to Spring Training several time before, but this is the first time I made it to Scottsdale. It's really beautiful. Tempe, where the Angels play, is very nice, but Scottsdale is truly gorgeous. Unlike most areas, there's tons of free parking for the game, and the "Old Town" district has many good restaurants and clubs. Even the City Hall area is beautiful.

The park is modern, which has its benefits and drawbacks. It's much larger than most spring training parks, especially the outfield, which has a gazillion restaurants. It's still intimate, but there are a lot more people than other parks. Phoenix Stadium has no outfield seating at all, while many others have a lawn where you can bring a towel and lie in the sun while you watch the game. This park is like a small major league park. You're still close to the action, but the ticket prices are higher than smaller parks, and although I had a great seat between home and first, it was bench seating, which was not very comfortable.

The Cubs were playing a split squad, so most of the players were scrubs, and manager Lou Pinella was not even present. The Giants looked terrible, as expected, with the Cubs scrubs beating the Giants 4-2.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008


I didn't see the whole show on Tuesday, I only saw the end. (I Tivoed the opening, but won't get to watch it until I get back in town.)

The women looked weak, and I'm not surprised one went home. I still stand by my original sentiment that the winner will be a woman; there are two, maybe three women capable of winning.

Vote For the Worst continues to show its ineptitude by picking another person sent home. Not only were they wrong, yet again, but they also picked someone who clearly is not the worst. She has no stylistic range, but there are several women worse than her.

Saturday, March 15, 2008


USC lead at halftime by 6 points, then let UCLA score 11 unanswered points to take a commanding lead in the second half. USC rallied at the end with a good performance by Mayo, but it wasn't enough.

USC will go into the NCAA tournament with 3 other Pac 10 teams seeded higher. Last year they made the Sweet 16, and there seem to be expectations that they will repeat, but this team will not do this if they continue to play like they did tonight.

Thursday, March 13, 2008


The first few songs weren't too bad, but the top 12 butchered the Fab 4 pretty badly overall. I was out of town so I watched the show and results in a row in Tivo. Thanks to Tivo the results show is cut from 60 minutes to 30 seconds. Dave Hernandez was not the worst singer of the bunch, but he's the easiest target.

Saturday, March 08, 2008

Tony Bennett: The Music Never Ends

AMERICAN MASTERS on PBS recently presented "Tony Bennett: The Music Never Ends," produced by and featuring Clint Eastwood. It's pretty good. Bennett is not my favorite singer, stylistically, his bel canto is a bit old-fashioned, and he never could swing the way Sinatra did. But he's pretty much the last of his generation now.

Perhaps the most interesting thing in the doc is seeing Alec Baldwin doing Tony on SNL. His impression is frigging amazing. They did the hair and nose makeup perfectly, and Baldwin does his voice and moves perfectly. It's eerie.

Worth watching.

Friday, March 07, 2008

USC Beats Cal

It was a surprisingly close game, with USC winning in overtime.

This game symbolized the whole USC season thus far. They started out looking weak against a weak team, then came from behind in the second half to take a commanding 10 point lead, then gave it all up in the last three minutes to end in a tie. But in overtime they managed to win.

We can only hope that they do well in the Pac-10 Tournament next and make it to March Madness.


Well, A.I. voters got it half-right on each gender.

Luke Menard was hoisted by his retarded petard, and Kady Malloy says "Ahoy" for the last time.

Unfortunately, instead of sending home Kristy Lee Cook, Asia'h goes home. Not her best performance last night, but she was a better singer than several who remain. Unfortunately minorities generally do not do well on the show.

Even worse, Jacuzzi is still around, and Danny Noriega gets voted off instead. This shows how little effect Vote For the Worst has, even with them voting for him, he's still gone. It's too bad, as he was entertaining to watch.

Next week... the Beatles.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008


It's pretty clear who the two worst girls are: Kady Malloy, and Kristy Lee Cook. Unfortunately, Kristy is an attractive white woman so we may see Syesha or Ramiele, either of whom are much better singers, go home instead.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008


Things are finally getting interesting on A.I. as we go to the top 12 next finalists week. has picked Danny Noriega, but as is usual for them, he's clearly not the worst, just the most effeminate, which makes him an easy target. Luke Menard was by far the worst, and more importantly, the most forgettable (and had the misfortune to go first as well). Chikezie "Jacuzzi" was also quite awful (and consistently sharp), although the judges liked him.

Luke will be hoisted by Menard's retarded petard on Thursday.