January 15, 2014

Re-ranking my favorite Coen Brothers movies

Inside-Llewyn-Davis

I saw "Inside Llewyn Davis" last night and it was good and interesting and funny and charming and weird, just like you'd expect from the Coen Brothers. I was out too late and drank too many Old Fashioneds to write a proper batch of mid-week Twins notes for today, so instead here's an updated ranking of my 10 favorite movies directed by the Coen Brothers:

1. "No Country For Old Men"
2. "The Big Lebowski"
3. "Fargo"
4. "True Grit"
5. "Inside Llewyn Davis"
6. "Barton Fink"
7. "Raising Arizona"
8. "Miller's Crossing"
9. "A Serious Man"
10. "Blood Simple"

I kind of want to see "Inside Llewyn Davis" again to think about it rather than just enjoy it. Oscar Isaac was exceptionally good in the leading role, singing his ass off and also somehow remaining likeable against all odds, and John Goodman stole the show in a supporting role. Go see it.

Also: Old Fashioneds are much better with bourbon than rye. I'll listen to arguments regarding the above movie rankings, but will not budge on that being a fact.

May 10, 2013

Link-O-Rama

• I'd say Otis Nixon's mugshot is a pretty compelling argument against using crack cocaine, but even in his baseball-playing prime he always looked 60 years old.

Glen Perkins' sabermetric legend continues to grow. Not only did he go through his advanced stats one-by-one and explain them all, he's trying to convert other Twins pitchers into stat-heads.

• Like that old saying goes, be careful whose urine you borrow.

• See, now this is why I'm scared to sign up for J-Date.

Science is cool and all, but I've got about 15 years of personal evidence to the contrary.

• Who were the best Twins prospects of the 2000s and how did they turn out?

• Growing up my friends and I probably watched/rented "Kids" a dozen times, so 18 years after the controversial movie was made it's fascinating and also sad to read about the actors' lives.

• Speaking of movies I loved as a kid, "Hoop Dreams" co-star William Gates' son is going to play Division I college basketball.

• On a related note, I was talking with people on Twitter about my favorite movies and came up with this preliminary list:

1. "Seven"
2. "The Godfather"
3. "No Country For Old Men"
4. "Pulp Fiction"
5. "Boogie Nights"
6. "Blue Valentine"
7. "The Shawshank Redemption"
8. "Memento"
9. "Dog Day Afternoon"
10. "Hoop Dreams"

I'm probably forgetting one or two because I didn't put a whole lot of thought into the initial list, but I might spend a little more time on it and come up with a top 50. Also, looking at those 10 movies apparently I only like comedy on television.

• On this week's "Gleeman and The Geek" episode we got kicked off the radio.

• If you like "Between Two Ferns" with Zach Galifianakis you'll really like "Between Two Ferns" with Zach Galifianakis when his James Franco interview turns into a Lonely Island video:

"Of all the art projects that you've done, what has made people roll their eyes the hardest?"

• In addition to being a former Official Fantasy Girl of AG.com, Elisha Cuthbert is a world-class eye-roller at hockey games.

• I'm one of those Blackberry-using weirdos, but this may finally convince me to get an iPhone.

• Setting aside the fact that he didn't actually tag the runner, this is a pretty amazing play by a 6-foot-5 catcher.

• As someone who recently lost 150 pounds strictly through diet/exercise and is now struggling to keep the weight off I'm fascinated by Chris Christie opting for surgery. I don't blame him, since I considered doing the same at times when obesity felt impossible to conquer, but the relapse rate for surgery is frighteningly high and trying to keep the surgery secret suggests he's not thrilled with what the choice says about him. Beating obesity sadly isn't as simple as losing weight.

• How did nachos and cheese become a ballpark staple?

• Wearing glasses is increasingly popular among people who don't actually need glasses, but as someone who's been wearing them since ninth grade I nodded along to almost every item here.

• Did you know that Twins Daily blogger Parker Hageman was in "Tiger Beat" magazine?

• During my weekly appearance on KFAN with Paul Allen we discussed the Twins, but also the etiquette of following and unfollowing people on Twitter. And also how my mom is stalking him.

• As far as Ron Gardenhire quotes go, I think I like "we're heroes on the internet" even more than "fire it through the internet." Also, he's officially too self-aware now. Not as much fun.

• I'll watch any video in which comedians make jokes while drinking too much, especially if they star Kyle Kinane:

"Just a case of the spits."

Todd Barry's podcast is only three episodes old, but it's already become one of my favorites. Good, laid-back conversations with funny, interesting people who aren't regulars in the comedy podcasting world. This week's chat with Julieanne Smolinski was particularly enjoyable.

• "Community" fans should definitely check out "WTF" with Marc Maron this week, because he talked to Gillian Jacobs one day and Alison Brie a couple days later. They were both great.

• If you've never listened to "Comedy Bang Bang" before this week's fourth-anniversary episode is a perfect representation of the show.

• Netflix documentary recommendation: "The Restauranteur" about businessman and restaurant mogul Danny Meyer, featuring "Top Chef" judge Tom Colicchio with hair.

• "Parks and Recreation" creator Michael Schur, who's also known as Ken Tremendous from his "Fire Joe Morgan" blogging days, has created a new FOX show co-starring Official Fantasy Girl of AG.com candidate Chelsea Peretti and the always great Andre Braugher.

• Oh, and NBC renewed "Parks and Recreation" for another season.

• My favorite cheesy reality show, "Bar Rescue" on Spike, is back for another 20 episodes.

• "The Sportive" was good this week because Holly Manthei was such a great guest that she carried everyone else.

• Some of this week's weird and random search engine queries that brought people here:

- "Jay R. Ferguson shirtless"
- "I love Bob Einstein"
- "Scott Diamond Jew"
- "Casey Fien Jewish"
- "Ryan Doumit Jewish"
- "Jon Taffer hair transplants"
- "Where is Drew Butera playing baseball?"
- "Where can I find naked picture of Scott Conant?"
- "Matt Capps dating"
- "Matt Harvey's sister"
- "Mae Whitman monologues"

• Finally, this week's AG.com-approved music video is "Still Not a Player" by Big Punisher:


This week's blog content is sponsored by Curt's Salsa, a locally owned salsa company that believes in fresh ingredients and rooting for the little guy. Please support them for supporting AG.com.

March 18, 2011

Link-O-Rama

• Being a millionaire doesn't mean what it used to, or so all the millionaires say.

Summer Anne Burton is drawing all 295 baseball Hall of Famers and her work is pretty cool.

Jeff Van Gundy is my favorite NBA announcer, but this is still pretty scary.

• Congratulations to my main man Darren Wolfson for becoming a father Saturday. I predict they'll have a father-and-son television or radio show before the kid is out of kindergarten.

• Call me crazy, but I vote for Padma Lakshmi doing more "Top Chef" episodes in a bikini.

Bryce Harper's minor-league at-bats will have a sponsor.

• After five years as the Twins beat writer for MLB.com Kelly Thesier has left the job for a new gig as a communications manager with the LPGA. I was (too) tough on Thesier when she first started at MLB.com, but her improvement over the years was remarkable and she always took my criticisms in stride, or at least managed to act very friendly the few times we met in person. Best of luck to Kelly in the golf world and thanks for five years of Twins coverage.

Thesier's replacement is Rhett Bollinger, who's been helping to cover the Angels and Dodgers for MLB.com since graduating from USC in 2008. I don't know much about him beyond that, but I definitely recognize his name from various MLB.com bylines over the years. Actually, that isn't entirely true. I can also confirm that Bollinger has exceptional taste in bloggers and/or is smart enough to suck up to the jerk who was often critical of the person he's replacing.

Either way, welcome! You can follow Bollinger on Twitter.

• I'm sad to note that Nate Dogg passed away at age 41. His mid-90s peak coincided perfectly with my getting into music and after my dad got me a CD player boombox for my 11th birthday "Regulate ... G Funk Era" was one of my first purchases. Seventeen years later I still have all the words to "Regulate" memorized and marvel at Nate Dogg's ability to turn the phrase "and it's going real swell" into a viable rap lyric. Hopefully his next stop is the East Side Motel.

Terry Ryan and Bill Smith may provide some insight into why only three current MLB general managers are former MLB players.

• For years Jon Krawczynski has been the most underrated sports writer in Minnesota while covering the Twins, Timberwolves, Vikings, and seemingly every other local team in the relative obscurity that comes with being part of the Associated Press content machine. Now he's finally getting some attention, but unfortunately it's because NBA referee Bill Spooner filed a lawsuit against Krawczynski for this January 24 post on Twitter:

No one will ever confuse me for a lawyer, but I can't imagine how someone could win a lawsuit over that. How does Spooner prove he didn't say that, let alone prove damages and whatever else is required to win the case? Beyond that, by suing Spooner has ensured that thousands and thousands of people read Krawczynski's original tweet, which was initially seen by at most his 2,000 followers and was only re-tweeted a dozen times before the lawsuit news broke.

• Speaking of the Associated Press, they'll now be asking Krawczynski and other MLB writers to pen "hometown" versions of game recaps in addition to standard stories so local newspapers not staffing games with their own writers can better use the content. That helps newsrooms that have suffered through big staff cuts, but it'll also lead to even more cookie-cutters recaps. Or as AP sports editor Terry Taylor said: "They were more concerned with just getting it fast."

• Everything you ever wanted to know and more about Adrian Beltre and head rubbing.

• My latest podcast discovery is "The Best Show On WFMU" hosted by Tom Scharpling, who is somehow consistently entertaining and funny while doing a three-hour show with zero breaks. He rants about various topics, takes calls from an odd and amusing cast of regulars, breaks in and out of an ultra-sarcastic persona, often has big-name guests from the comedy and music worlds, and sprinkles in fake guests played brilliantly by Superchunk drummer Jon Wurster.

"The Best Show" is truly unlike anything I've ever listened to before and I'd probably classify it as an acquired taste because of the quirkiness and many inside joke-like aspects, but I've very quickly burned through two years of the decade-long archive and am convinced Scharpling is a genius. Along with hosting my new favorite podcast, he was a "Monk" writer/producer, wrote NBA articles for Slam magazine, and is doing a new television series with Paul F. Tompkins.

• In a rare trip to the movie theater I saw "The Adjustment Bureau" last week. I'm a sucker for that type of science fiction plot and the overall conceit of the movie was very intriguing, but the actual execution was disappointing, especially in the final half-hour or so. Despite some solid performances from Matt Damon, Emily Blunt, John Slattery, and especially Anthony Mackie it left me feeling like Philip K. Dick's story had been wasted. Grade: C-plus.

• This guy must really hate Fan Graphs.

Jim Nantz may be CBS' lead announcer, but for me there's no question that Gus Johnson is the true voice of the NCAA tournament and Greg Bishop of the New York Times penned a very good profile of the undisputed king of exciting calls.

• Also in the New York Times this week, Grant Hill wrote an excellent response to Jalen Rose regarding the portrayal of Duke players in ESPN's new Rose-produced "Fab Five" documentary. Hill's entire piece is really good, but the last line is spectacular.

• I'll be rooting for Tim Collins this season, at least whenever he's not facing the Twins.

• I don't watch many network television shows at this point, but four of the spots on my DVR are filled with Thursday night NBC comedies and I'm thrilled that "Community" and "Parks and Recreation" have both been renewed for next season along with "30 Rock" and "The Office."

Tim Lincecum spent the offseason trying to put on weight and revealed his methods, which led to a whole bunch of baseball scribes writing articles about how he often got three double-doubles, two orders of fries, and a half-chocolate/half-strawberry shake from In-N-Out. I guess that's a lot of food for someone listed at 165 pounds to put down, but as a longtime fatboy it hardly seems worthy of such shocked coverage. On a related note, I've started another diet.

• I'm writing some lengthy season preview articles over at Hardball Talk, including this one on the AL Central's worst team and this one on J.J. Hardy's new team. Check 'em out, please.

• Finally, this week's AG.com-approved music video is "Regulate" by Nate Dogg and Warren G:

http://www.minnpost.com/braublog/2011/03/14/26601/nba_ref_sues_ap_sports_reporter_over_twitter_tweet

February 4, 2011

Link-O-Rama

• If you don't think this will soon be hanging on my wall, you clearly don't know me very well.

• NHL goalie fights are pretty funny to begin with, but NHL goalie fights ending after one punch are hilarious.

Henry Abbott of ESPN.com took a very interesting look at the difference between perception and reality when it comes to Kobe Bryant and "clutch."

• An army of Christina Hendricks look-a-likes sounds fine to me.

Rob Neyer is for me what Bill James was for many baseball fans in the 1980s, shaping the way I watch and write about the sport to the point that I've basically been attempting to do a semi-passable Rob Neyer impression for the past decade. He's the first online writer I read on a regular basis and I remain a huge fan, so much so that I've never really gotten over being starstruck when I see him each year at the Society for American Baseball Research convention.

When it comes to bringing sabermetrics to a mainstream audience Neyer has been the single most effective baseball writer of all time, and that includes James. This week, after 15 years of great work at ESPN.com, he decided to make a change and is now the national baseball editor at SB Nation. And not only didn't he take even one day off between jobs, Neyer is churning out more content than ever at his new home. Congratulations and good luck to one of my heroes.

Justin Kubatko of Basketball-Reference.com wrote a guest column for the New York Times on Kevin Love's unique brand of greatness this season. And somehow he's not an All-Star (yet).

• I'm willing to help Official Fantasy Girl of AG.com candidate Jenna Fischer reach her goal.

• An unlikely radio partnership between friend of AG.com Phil Mackey and longtime Minneapolis Star Tribune columnist Patrick Reusse has been so successful that 1500-ESPN has decided to expand their show by another hour each afternoon. In addition to more Mackey they smartly also lured Judd Zulgad away from KFAN, where the fantastic Star Tribune reporter had been an exclusive Vikings analyst. It almost makes up for the times they mistakenly put me on the air.

Least surprising news of the week: A.J. Pierzynski is friends with the guys from Creed.

• As a lifelong Minnesota it takes a lot to impress me regarding winter driving, but this did it:

If you look carefully, I think the other car has a "Geek Squad" logo on the door.

Eric Stonestreet is outstanding on Modern Family, but his greatest contribution to society will always be snapping a picture of Minka Kelly and Sofia Vergara posing together at the Golden Globes and posting it on Twitter.

• Twins president Dave St. Peter is now on Twitter, so you should probably follow him.

• Based on this lengthy article in New York magazine I clearly picked the wrong type of website to start nine years ago.

• I finally saw "The Social Network" this week. I liked it a lot, and the script and acting were so good that I would've happily watched it go on for another five hours, but for whatever reason it struck me as just short of being great. My primary takeaways from the film: 1) Rooney Mara is responsible for everything, ever. 2) Guys named Zuckerman should never interact with Aryan twins. 3) Don't throw beer. Grade: A-minus.

Apparently the Official Fantasy Girl of AG.com liked "The Social Network" too.

• Now that he's dropped the price, I think we should pool our money together and buy Shawn Green's house.

Seth Stohs' annual "Minnesota Twins Prospect Handbook" is now available for purchase and you should buy it. Seriously. I can't stress this enough: You should buy it. Not only is it a great read and an amazing value at $14.95 for 170 pages, Seth has spent thousands of hours and most of the past decade churning out good baseball writing that can be enjoyed for absolutely free. Paying him 15 bucks for a good product seems like an easy way to show support. Do it.

• My latest podcasting discovery is "Pop My Culture" with Cole Stratton and Vanessa Ragland, which is basically hour-long, mostly silly conversations with various comedians and actors. For instance, here's one with longtime Official Fantasy Girl of AG.com candidate Linda Cardellini.

• If you have Netflix streaming and are as into offbeat documentaries as me, check out "I Like Killing Flies" and "I Think We're Alone Now." Both are equal parts engrossing and weird.

• Last weekend I had dinner at Mix Fusion Bistro in Eden Prairie and the food was every bit as good as when I reviewed the restaurant after it opened in July, with an added bonus that lots of people were there this time. Chalk one up for customers eventually finding a good product.

• I've done a 180-degree turn on the Super Bowl, going from initially believing in the Steelers as small underdogs to now thinking the Packers will win and cover the 2.5-point spread. For a slightly more comprehensive analysis of Sunday's matchup, read this.

• Here are some highlights from my NBCSports.com blogging this week:

- Red Sox want David Ortiz to continue facing lefties even if he can't hit them
- White Sox GM after making 1984 trade for Ozzie Guillen: "I think we just signed a jockey"
- Andy Pettitte's retirement (and Jamie Moyer's injury) means no active pitcher has 200 wins
- Chris Carter is going to be disappointed when the A's send him to Triple-A
- Lance Berkman criticizes the Rangers in explaining why he chose St. Louis over Texas
- Royals' projected 2011 payroll is $33 million (or $2 million more than Alex Rodriguez's salary)
- If healthy, Jesus Flores could be trade bait for the Nationals
- LaTroy Hawkins expects to be ready for Opening Day after shoulder surgery

• Finally, this week's AG.com-approved music video is Little Richard singing "Long Tall Sally":

January 7, 2011

Link-O-Rama

• In what can't possibly be merely a coincidence, my 28th birthday was Monday and that same day Official Fantasy Girl of AG.com Mila Kunis announced her breakup with longtime boyfriend Macaulay Culkin. The wheels are in motion, people!

• Speaking of Kunis, her co-star Natalie Portman gave an accurate answer when asked what the makers of Black Swan did to ensure that both women and men would want to see a movie about ballet: "A lesbian scene. Everyone wants to see that." And sure enough, the movie has already grossed over $50 million after being made on a $13 million budget.

Adrian Beltre really, really hates it when someone touches the top of his head, so naturally his teammates do it constantly.

• My house smells like this 24/7 anyway, so I guess I just saved $13.

• A sixth-grade Aaron Gleeman would've been thrilled with this news. Better late than never.

• One of my favorite podcasters, Marc Maron, was profiled this week in the New York Times.

• After seeing True Grit last week, I was shocked to learn what Mattie Ross actually looks like.

• My fellow Louis C.K. fans will enjoy this 11-installment series of 15-minute clips from the time he hosted a three-hour radio show by himself. It was part stand-up comedy and part Loveline.

Jon Paul Morosi of FOXSports.com tells the story of how a baseball blogger helped get Bert Blyleven into the Hall of Fame after 14 years on the ballot. I'm guessing there's a good chance Blyleven will thank Rich Lederer in his induction speech.

Hurley Reyes won $114 million playing 4-8-15-16-23-42 in the lottery on Lost, but in real life so many peopled used his numbers that they each got just $150.

• If you watch only one video this week starring a man with "a head like a f***ing orange," make it this one:

That's what genius looks like.

• After winning the bidding for Tsuyoshi Nishoka and finishing runner-up for Hisashi Iwakuma it'll be interesting to see if the Twins make a legitimate push for Japanese superstar pitcher Yu Darvish next offseason.

Salma Hayek is a 44-year-old mother. That's all.

Robert DeNiro has been agreeing to star in almost exclusively bad films for the past decade, so at this point you'd think it wouldn't cost so much for him to make another one.

• I'd been holding out to keep my chance at the Gophers job intact.

Brad Radke is one of the biggest names among the first-timers on next year's Hall of Fame ballot, which is hopefully good news for Barry Larkin, Jeff Bagwell, and Tim Raines.

• Now that Andrew Luck has decided to stay in school for his senior season, teams at the top of the draft should really consider making Maria Menounos their top quarterback target, if only because the old "she'd look good in a [fill in the blank] uniform" cliche applies to all 32 teams.

Good for Boston Herald columnist Steve Buckley, although I'm still curious how long it'll take before one of the players he writes about does the same.

• I haven't seen the whole movie, but Let Me In contains one of the most interesting scenes in recent memory.

• I finally signed up for Netflix steaming and highly recommended it for $8 a month, especially if you use this website to help find stuff worth watching. Some early recommendations: The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, Exit Through The Gift Shop, Super High Me, Restrepo, King of Kong, I Am Comic, Hard Eight.

• Finally, because I'm slowly but surely starting to appreciate Bruce Springsteen in my old age this week's AG.com-approved music video is The E Street Band with a live version of "Rosalita" from five years before I was born: