Friday, May 24, 2019

2019 Home Opener for Goldeyes Tonight

The usual long road trip to start the season for the Goldeyes has ended and they return to Winnipeg tonight, May 24, 7:00 PM to start their home opener weekend of three games against the Kansas City T-Bones. The 5-2 Goldeyes have been seeing some hot pitching and their bats are just getting warmed up when they face T-Bones who are 2-1 to start.

Might be some rain tonight so prepare accordingly but the weather improves as the weekend continues.

As with every year the Goldeyes return with fan favourites such as Reggie Abercrombie and perform in one of the more beautiful independent league ball fields in North America. Not to mention some of the tastiest food and off field ambiance. Who hasn't adored a train circling the grandstand?

The Goldeyes have consistent delivered the goods even though they were three-peat champions last year. But they are generally always play-off strong and regular season produces some of the best family entertainment on offer.

Look forward to a new season!

Monday, May 20, 2019

Movie Review: Avengers Endgame

In Hollywood history there is nothing really to compare to Marvel's 22 movies over a ten year period leading up to a crescendo finale with the stars of all the previous movies in it. The budgets generally were in the hundreds of millions and the box office would eventually grow to $21 billion. Actors, directors, writers and the best crews in the business collaborated on something called the Marvel Cinematic Universe on a story that originally was told in a comic book.

It could have all gone so wrong.

Marvel knew the only sure way for the business plan to work was to go back to their expansive cast of characters and work with material they exclusively held the rights to. This was no easy task as the company has already licensed Spider-Man, X-Men, Fantastic Four and others to Columbia, New Line and 20th Century Fox, It was unlikely any of those studios would want their own movie franchises hurt by a competing Marvel Studios.

It would all start in 2008 with Iron Man and the casting of Robert Downey Jr. in what was supported to be the start of a new self-financed series of movies. It might have seemed like a slam dunk at the time but there was nervousness about Downey and of the story itself connecting. There was no real telling if acceptance of the whole franchise would be forthcoming. In the end, Marvel's decision and the work of some key people and a whole lot of collaboration made the whole thing seem flawless.

To view Avengers Endgame as a stand alone movie would be like turning to a book and reading the last chapter and understanding all that came before. This became the fun in each movie over the last ten years. A thread of storylines, clues and previews were intertwined and some characters would appear in a number of movies whether it be Nick Fury or Black Widow or Hulk himself. To this end all of the characters would unite as the Avengers. This happened over four movies. The best way to think of Endgame is to think of it as part 2 of the previous Infinity Wars. Endgame takes place three weeks after the events of that movie.

Since the movie is entering just shy of a month in theatres, most of the spoilers are now out of the way but for those that have not seen it stop reading now.


The Russo Brothers as directors and Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely as writers continue from Infinity Wars into Endgame. The two movies were shot back to back but the snap of Thano's fingers has cut the universe's population in half. It also means half the Avengers are gone and we have a defeated and demoralized group of superheroes left. Some of the questions of why some characters were missing from the last movie are answered. Captain Marvel played by Brie Larsen, Ant-Man played by Paul Rudd and Hawkeye played by Jeremy Renner have their absences accounted for. In the case of Hawkeye, choosing to be with his family instead of the Avengers cost Clint Barton his whole family and turned him to a man wracked with grief and anger.

Tony Stark/Iron Man played by Robert Downey's Jr. is nursing terrible physical and mental wounds while marooned on a ship with Nebula played by Ken Gillan. They are the only ones left after fighting Thanos and losing. Tony is full of regrets over his love with Pepper Potts and of losing teen Spider-Man to the snap that also took Dr. Strange and most of the Guardians of the Galaxy. Only Captain Marvel's rescue after three weeks of drifting brings Tony and Nebula back to Earth.

The rump of Avengers and left and Nebula include Thor, Hulk, Black Widow, Rocket Racoon, War Machine, Captain America and Iron Man quickly locate Thanos and pursue him only to find he had destroyed the Infinity Stones. Nebula says Thanos would not lie on such a thing and his injuries indicate he was exposed to great energy, presumably when the stones were eliminated. Thor, knowing there is now no way to undo The Snap, kills Thanos in a rage.

Five years jump in the story and back on Earth, the devastation of losing half the population brings an relenting mourning for some. For others like Tony, he still has Pepper with who he retreats with and builds a life away from grief and guilt, particularly of Spider-Man who he was extremely fond of. The opposite side the coin in Clint Barton/Hawkeye who did not take part in the Infinity Wars yet loses his entire family to The Snap. His rage turn him into vigilante killer of all those deemed evil who remain alive.

The arrival of Scott Lang Ant-Man from the time realm changes the course of the Avengers. He too was not present during the Infinity Wars but his safe and successful trip through time shows a possible way to reverse what Thanos has done. This raises a lot of questions as well as resistance from the group. For Tony Stark who has carved out some happiness with Pepper as well as having a child, it could reverse all that. He only agrees with Pepper's blessing and the promise that restoration will only happen doesn't erase the past five years.

The last five years have been hard ones for others. Natasha Romanoff has basically been head of Avengers/Shield and doing what she can with Captain America, Rhodes and Rocket along with Captain Marvel. She is exhausted, especially since Hulk, Thor and Iron-Man have taken leave.

Avengers Endgame explore how grief has strained the team to the limits and who has stepped up, almost unexpectedly so. However, Ant-Man's return brings a new enthusiasm  as well as some humour to the prospect that the The Snap can be undone. Funny discussions related to time travel and pop culture were particularly noteworthy.

The explain the plot surrounding the actual time travel and retrieval of the Infinity Stones and the renewed battle with Thanos really defies description. But a Smart Hulk, an overweight and distracted Thor and too smart for his own good Iron Man make for a lot of fun, if confusing, action pieces. The Snap is reversed and Hulk wounded badly but the battle is not over as Thanos travels from the past into the future to stop the plan. This time though he faces a full restored Avengers and allies team that tips the balance. Captain Marvel is a difference maker in the fight but it is Tony Stark as Iron Man who makes the sacrifice for them all.

It is a satisfying ending to ten years of filmmaking. Even if a character is brought back (does anyone ever really die in comics?) it will probably not be the same actors we have grown to love. But this might not be a bad thing. How many actors have played Spider-Man, Hulk, Rhodes? Audiences have shown a willingness to go on. And so the series will. At the end of the movie was a trailer for the new Spider-Man that picks up right where Avengers leaves off.

Here's to the next 10 years.

Sunday, May 5, 2019

Winnipeg's Valour FC Opening Night May 4, 2019

It was about 13 C for field conditions, some sun and fairly gusty when the game started at 5 PM on Saturday, May the Fourth. The fan club Red River Rising led a procession from a nearby bar to Investors Group Field and took their seats in The Trench even before the anthem was sung. A small fan group from FC Edmonton was present and was fairly focal too. However, the hometown crowd of 9,699 was in full and loud support of Winnipeg's Valour FC. After nearly three decades professional soccer has returned to Winnipeg.

We'll let photographer Matraisa Klippenstein tell the story of Winnipeg's season opener that ended in  2-1 loss. The score did not really tell the story of the team's on field dominance.

Matraisa's site:

Friday, May 3, 2019

Movie Review: Long Shot

Long Shot as a romantic comedy is definitely going to be different if Seth Rogen in it. No amount of personal humiliation limits him. Charlize Theron has a wide range of material which includes some romance stuff but in recent years her fare has leaned towards action and drama befitting an Oscar-winning performer. It is not surprising that the script by Dan Sterling (The Interview) and Liz Hannah (The Post) had them both come aboard as producers and stars since the roles play to each of their strengths. Directed by Jonathan Levine (50/50) the story is of a U.S. Secretary of State slowing falling for a lefty journalist who is brought on to write for her in the lead to a potential presidential run.

Charlize Theron channels her inner Veep, Clinton and Madam Secretary to make for a compelling single and earnest Secretary of State. The President played by Bob Odenkirk is a ridiculous Trump-like cutout of a man who gained office via acting in television and wants to leave the presidency after a single term to pursue an acting career in the movies. This opens the door to Theron's character making a run for the president.

There is some political satire in watching Theron playing Charlotte Field running for president but it is Shallow State versus Deep State. It is likely many women will recognize the standard for them is different than for a man. In a meeting looking at her strengths it is revealed none of it is related to her policy but on perceived likability. It is there that she finds that polls say her weakness is humour.
This information is related to her by a very funny Lisa Kudrow in all to short appearance.

Seth Rogen plays Fred Flarsky  a recently unemployed journalist who quit when a FOX-like owner played by Andy Serkis buys his publication. His best friend played by the very funny O'Shea Jackson Jr. drops everything to commiserate with Fred and take him to a swish part featuring Boyz II Men. Little does Fred know that his former babysitter and girl crush Charlotte will be there.

There is good chemistry between Rogen and Theron that comes from mostly good writing, acting that throw it all out there and good foils in supporting cast. In Theron's case, some of the funny moments to work off comes from her assistants June Dianne Raphael and Ravi Patel. When Charlotte sees Fred at the party as well as his encounter with the man who caused him to quit journalism, she is amused and intrigued. Despite strong misgivings of her staff she looks at his writing and sees in Fred a person that might be able to find a relateable and funny voice she can communicate policy.

Fred is not interested in the job unless it is full out policy change and not the typical politician program than means nothing. She agrees and soon it becomes clear that he is the right man for the job and helps her connect and make real progress on a world-wide tour the get an environmental agreement. The Canadian prime minister played by appears throughout as a genial, handsome empty suit with an unfortunate laugh. It is hilarious as a send up of Trudeau.

Theron is an exceptional actor who makes you believe that she is a real person trying to make it in a fake world. In the movie she swears, fills her face, wants to have rough sex and take drugs. With Fred she feels she can let her hair down although her and she knows that her image can't show this. Despite all this they fall in love.

This is a romantic comedy at its heart and while it is some politics, lots of raunch and quite a bit of satire, it has a sweetness about it that wins the audience over. The continued dominance of superheroes in the movies might just leave a window open for some funny entertainment mixed with a 90s nostalgia vibe. But this isn't your momma's rom-com unless she liked to be spanked. Also, there is one Seth Rogen moment right out of There's Something About Mary that had the audience laughing for several minutes afterwards. A sweet movie...yes, but be prepared for outrageous moments that are as crude as you might find on the screen anywhere.