I went to see “Coraline” with Mel & Helen today; it was one of the best times I’ve had at the movies in a long time. The trailers I’d seen for “Coraline” over the last few months had me really interested to see the movie, but they really didn’t do it justice. It’s an amazing film in all aspects: it’s visually remarkable, the voice acting is superb, the story is compelling, and it has a fantastic soundtrack.

It’s a very dark movie in parts, and if you’ve got very small children you might want to consider their penchant for fright before taking them. Helen’s just turned four and she did pretty well, but there were certainly some parts of the movie that freaked her right out. The imagery in the movie can be genuinely creepy; it’s not “hey, something jumped out and solicited a scare” style fright, but the basic atmosphere and feel of the film that gives the scare. It’s incredibly well-done. Helen loved it, and I don’t regret taking her in the slightest; but if your kids are easily scared, you might want to weigh that when deciding whether or not to see this.

Also, keep in mind when you’re watching “Coraline” that every single thing you’re seeing on screen is an actual, constructed object – there’s no CGI in this movie. It’s completely hand-built, sets, props, backdrops, the whole works, shot in stop-motion. It’s a remarkable technical achievement.

I’ve left plenty of movies wondering why I wasted the $20-30 that it takes to get tickets and snacks for a movie at the theaters; this was not one of those movies, not by a long shot. The experience of seeing this on the big screen was worth every cent

My only regret: not living in a city where I would’ve been able to watch “Coraline” in 3D. I’ll bet that’s an amazing experience. Comment if you’ve seen the 3D version and let me know what you think.

A-Rod won the 2003 MVP award on steroids

Alex Rodriguez was named the MVP of major league baseball in 2003 after winning his third consecutive American League home run title with 47.

He was apparently on steroids when he did it. Four sources have independently told Sports Illustrated that Rodriguez tested positive for two steroids in 2003 – the last year in which Major League Baseball claimed that steroids were a banned substance, but offered no penalty whatsoever for testing positive.

Isn’t it about time to just say, “Fine, everybody did it,” officially dub the entire 1990s and early 2000s The Steroid Era, and just quit worrying about this? I guarantee there won’t be a similar witch hunt over A-Rod to match the one being unleashed on Barry Bonds — you won’t hear a clamoring of baseball writers wanting A-Rod’s MVP season asterisked or vacated the way you hear some people say Bonds should lose his home run record.

Punish everybody, or punish nobody — but either way, just move on.

A-Rod wins ’03 MVP award on steroids – Sports Illustrated

As a comical footnote to this story, ESPN — the self-proclaimed “World Wide Leader” — has apparently been scooped *hard* on this story. It’s currently the lead feature story at Sports Illustrated and at CNN.com, and as of 9:45 a.m. there’s no mention of it whatsoever at ESPN.com. Awesome.

“We have chosen hope over fear.”

Remember that? Fast forward to Feb. 4…

“A failure to act, and act now, will turn crisis into a catastrophe.”
— President Obama, Feb. 4.

WASHINGTON — Catastrophe, mind you. So much for the president who in his inaugural address two weeks earlier declared “we have chosen hope over fear.” Until, that is, you need fear to pass a bill.

read on

Twitter words during the Super Bowl

This kind of thing just amazes me. A nationwide map (of the lower 48) showing the frequency of words that flitted across the Internet on Twitter during the Super Bowl. Astonishing to watch.

Map of Popular Super Bowl Words Used on Twitter – Interactive Graphic – NYTimes.com.

Ben Roethlisberger’s place in history

Coverage of yesterday’s Super Bowl XLIII was very interesting. From his “NFL Man of the Year” honor during the pre-game up through the coverage of the contest, it seemed as if everyone involved with NBC’s broadcast of the contest was ready to finally bestow football legend and savior of humanity status to Kurt Warner, if only he’d do what he was supposed to do and win a second Super Bowl ring with a second team.

Warner’s story is compelling; his wife used to be a Marine, he was stuck as a grocery bagger and toiled in Iowa in the Arena Football League, was cut by the Packers after getting only 16 plays to show his stuff, etc. You can actually read the whole tale at Warner’s Web site. His on-field performance has been impressive during his career; you can’t doubt that. This season, he threw for 4,500 yards and 30 TDs, and had three 1,000-yard receivers; in other words, he basically posted Playstation numbers.

But leading up to the Super Bowl, the media love-fest surrounding Warner became a bit much for me to take — particularly when the discussion turned to the fact that a second Super Bowl ring would cement Kurt Warner’s status as a Hall of Fame quarterback.

Again – Warner has been impressive, a fact neither I nor any other follower of the NFL can deny. A Hall of Famer? Based on two Super Bowl rings? And what else? He has five 3,000-yard seasons, including three seasons of 4,000 or more yards, has completed 65 percent of his passes for his career and sports a 182-114 touchdown-to-interception ratio.

He’s put up ridiculous numbers in his three Super Bowls, as well. In his three Super Bowl appearances Warner established the three highest single-game passing yardage totals in Super Bowl history. He has six touchdown passes against just three interceptions.

But quarterbacks are supposed to be defined by victories, and in those three Super Bowls he’s 1-2.

In the regular season, Warner has missed nearly as many games as he’s played. He’s played 16 game in a season only three times, and has seasons in which he’s played two (2003), six (2006) and seven games (2002).

Of the 23 quarterbacks currently in the NFL Hall of Fame, Warner’s 182 career touchdown passes would put him in the bottom third, as only seven of the current inductees have fewer than Warner. Of those seven, Troy Aikman won three Super Bowls, Roger Staubach won two, and Bart Starr won five NFL titles and two Super Bowls.

There are 12 players with 200 or more career touchdown passes who are not in the Hall of Fame, although two – Brett Favre and Peyton Manning – will be. The other 10 will not. I don’t see 275 touchdown passes getting Vinny Testaverde into the Hall of Fame, nor do I think Dave Kreig’s 261 are going to do the trick.

The only thing in Warner’s favor – all but one quarterback who has played in three or more Super Bowls is in the Hall of Fame. The only exception – Tom Brady, and he’s all but assured a Hall of Fame berth during his first year of eligibility.

So, if Warner doesn’t belong in the Hall of Fame, and if his career truly is over and he retires as has been speculated I believe he does not, where does that leave Pittsburgh’s Ben Roethlisberger? After yesterday, he’s now the owner of two Super Bowl rings, and that second ring was supposed to be Warner’s Yellow Brick Road to Canton.

Is it time to keep an eye on Roethlisberger for the Hall of Fame? After all, he’s now only the second quarterback in NFL history – joining Brady – to win two Super Bowls before his 27th birthday. He’s now just the 10th quarterback, total, to wear two Super Bowl rings. Of the previous nine to accomplish this feat, only one – Oakland’s Jim Plunkett – is not also in the Hall of Fame.

Roethlisberger is also now 2-0 in the Super Bowl; it took John Elway five appearances to get his two wins, Roger Staubach four to get his pair of rings.

Big Ben has only been in the NFL for five seasons, and it would be difficult to argue that he has the statistical performance to warrant a Hall of Fame discussion… Save for those two rings.

In fact, there are only six quarterbacks other than Roethlisberger who have played in two Super Bowls and are not in the Hall of Fame – Brady (4), Warner (3), and a group of four players who played in the big game twice – Favre, Plunkett, Joe Theismann and Craig Morton. Brady will be inducted; Favre will be inducted. That leaves four.

Roethlisberger appears to be a player who will be in the NFL for a long time to come. Pittsburgh will be a contender in the AFC again, and should he get a third ring it will be difficult to make a case against him being anything short of a mortal lock for Hall of Fame induction, regardless of his regular-season statistics.

Should he have the longevity to get into the 200-touchdown club (he already has 101), it may be difficult to keep him out of the Hall of Fame even if he never reaches another Super Bowl.