Thursday, July 24, 2008

Review: The Sprint Center

Kansas City has been without an NBA or NHL team for decades. One of the reasons for that has been the lack of a large enough arena to make the revenue streams attractive. Finally, after the city decided the mostly dead downtown Kansas City was in need of rejuvenation, The Sprint Center was commissioned. The concept of the "if you build it, they will come" mentality would surely result in a professional team being lured to a new home. As of last year, after all of the preparation, the decision of the location, the design of the structure, the securing of funds, the construction, the finishing touches and, as of last year, the opening of Kansas City's glorious new arena... no team has taken the bait. Instead of just having a brand-new, state-of-the-art venue sitting vacant, The Sprint Center is used for concerts and the crappy Arena League Football team, the Kansas City Brigade (which I believe went 2-6 this season, but no one ever talks about them, so I'm not entirely sure they even exist).

Vagrants and police officers were once about the only movement on the streets at night in downtown KC ten years ago. With the rejuvenation project now mostly complete, people live downtown again in "lofts" and there are trendy restaurants and second floor bowling alley/martini bars and open air concert venues. That's right, the homeless people have all been replaced by yuppies and douchebags. Improvement? I'm not necessarily sure. Instead of having to defend yourself from beggars, you just want to beat the morons wearing their polo shirts with the "popped" collars and sideways visors. In effect it's just replacing a defensively violent mindset... with offensively violent thoughts.

Anyway... My old route into work would take me right by the construction site for the arena, so I got to watch the progress. Two years later (a year after opening) my first opportunity to see The Sprint Center from the inside presented itself. The event was my Valentine's Day gift to Megan - tickets to Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers (review of the concert is on the way). From outside, the arena is quite striking. The 360 degree glass-covered structure looks as though a UFO landed smack dab in the middle of downtown. We arrived at 730, the time the concert was supposed to have started... but thousands of people were lined up outside. When they finally started letting people in, the lines barely moved. Twenty minutes later, as we approached the doors, we realize that it is because they have metal detectors installed at each door, so everyone has to empty their pockets and pass through one at a time. I guess it makes things safer (theoretically), but what the hell? I just want to get in the place quickly, get something to drink and find my seat before the event is supposed to start.

The concourses are nice and wide, and there are plenty of concession stands. The appearance is quite pleasant, falling somewhere between an indoor mall and say the airport. Not that either of those choices are considered to be "pleasant", or "comfortable". You're not really going to be living here, it's not supposed to be that inviting. It is somewhat difficult to figure out how to get up to the upper tier, so Megan and I end up walking half way around the arena before we come across the 50 story high (only a slight embellishment), open air escalator into oblivion. Have I mentioned that I don't like heights? The 62-minute slow assent into the clouds was particularly unpleasant for me, as my knuckles were turning white after we approached the altitude of the moon, but most people didn't seem to mind (we took the stairs down, thankfully). The balcony level, is extremely steep and made me feel a little unstable when descending the stairs to our row, but the seats were quite comfortable even being somewhat narrow.

We were seated about as far away from the stage as possible, but the acoustics were quite great. The crowd noise was impressively loud and should create a real home-team advantage for whomever chooses to claim the center. The biggest drawback I noticed was the lack of preparedness of the concession stands. By the mid-point of the concert, the stand nearest my location was out of just about everything. The concert was sold out, they should anticipate that those people are going to want to eat and drink while they are there. Hopefully, they are still working out the kinks as to how simple things like that will function more efficiently.

All in all, The Sprint Center looks and feels like it would be a fantastic venue for sporting events, but smaller arenas or outdoor locales seem to be more enjoyable settings for concerts, in my opinion. They have already announced a pre-season NHL game between St. Louis and LA to be hosted by KC (probably an audition for the NHL management in choosing potential expansion cities) for this September. I have purchased tickets to show my support. Thankfully, I managed to acquire seats in the lower deck... no escalator!

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Movie Meme Via Mo

I am just blatantly ripping this off from Megan, but I'll put a slightly different twist onto it. So, it's exactly the same, but totally different. According to Megan (if you can trust her as a source), this is the list of Entertainment Weekly's top 100 movies of the last 25 years. As she has done, I have placed the films I have seen in bold font, but I have given a rating for each film of one to five stars based on my personal taste as opposed to her marking of the movies she liked. Yup, I'm claiming that I've made it totally different based on that minor modification.

I am particularly happy that Pulp Fiction was chosen as the #1 film since it was one of the few movies that I considered to have changed my life (along with The Rock - I wouldn't be a biochemist if it weren't for Nicolas Cage's Stanley Goodspeed).

Feel free to give me loads of crap for my poor ratings of Moulin Rouge, Jerry Maguire and The Unforgiven (three of the most liked movies of the last 15 years that I have little to no appreciation for) or for the fact that I haven't seen Goodfellas, Scarface or Dazed and Confused (three of the most talked about movies of my generation).

NOTE: This is a rare occasion because I can say that I have seen nearly (67 to her 78) as many films from a list compared to Megan. I believe that the only list I can claim superiority would be the list of DVDs... I currently own. Ha! That's right, Moflo, let's see who's seen more of those movies (watch, I'll publish a list and still somehow manage to lose).

1. Pulp Fiction (1994)*****
2. The Lord of the Rings trilogy (2001-03)*****
3. Titanic (1997)**
4. Blue Velvet (1986)
5. Toy Story (1995)***
6. Saving Private Ryan (1998)**
7. Hannah and Her Sisters (1986)
8. The Silence of the Lambs (1991)****
9. Die Hard (1988)****
10. Moulin Rouge (2001)*
11. This Is Spinal Tap (1984)
12. The Matrix (1999)*****
13. GoodFellas (1990)
14. Crumb (1995)
15. Edward Scissorhands (1990)*
16. Boogie Nights (1997)*
17. Jerry Maguire (1996)*
18. Do the Right Thing (1989)**
19. Casino Royale (2006)****
20. The Lion King (1994)***
21. Schindler's List (1993)***
22. Rushmore (1998)***
23. Memento (2001)****
24. A Room With a View (1986)
25. Shrek (2001)**
26. Hoop Dreams (1994)**
27. Aliens (1986)***
28. Wings of Desire (1988)
29. The Bourne Supremacy (2004)**
30. When Harry Met Sally... (1989)**
31. Brokeback Mountain (2005)
32. Fight Club (1999)***
33. The Breakfast Club (1985)****
34. Fargo (1996)***
35. The Incredibles (2004)
36. Spider-Man 2 (2004)**
37. Pretty Woman (1990)**
38. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004)
39. The Sixth Sense (1999)***
40. Speed (1994)***
41. Dazed and Confused (1993)
42. Clueless (1995)**
43. Gladiator (2000)***
44. The Player (1992)
45. Rain Man (1988)**
46. Children of Men (2006)
47. Men in Black (1997)***
48. Scarface (1983)
49. Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (2000)*
50. The Piano (1993)*
51. There Will Be Blood (2007)
52. The Naked Gun: From the Files of Police Squad (1988)***
53. The Truman Show (1998)**
54. Fatal Attraction (1987)*
55. Risky Business (1983)**
56. The Lives of Others (2006)
57. There’s Something About Mary (1998)**
58. Ghostbusters (1984)***
59. L.A. Confidential (1997)***
60. Scream (1996)**
61. Beverly Hills Cop (1984)***
62. sex, lies and videotape (1989)
63. Big (1988)**
64. No Country For Old Men (2007)****
65. Dirty Dancing (1987)*
66. Natural Born Killers (1994)*
67. Donnie Brasco (1997)**
68. Witness (1985)***
69. All About My Mother (1999)
70. Broadcast News (1987)
71. Unforgiven (1992)*
72. Thelma & Louise (1991)
73. Office Space (1999)****
74. Drugstore Cowboy (1989)
75. Out of Africa (1985)
76. The Departed (2006)
77. Sid and Nancy (1986)
78. Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991)**
79. Waiting for Guffman (1996)
80. Michael Clayton (2007)
81. Moonstruck (1987)**
82. Lost in Translation (2003)**
83. Evil Dead 2: Dead by Dawn (1987)
84. Sideways (2004)**
85. The 40 Year-Old Virgin (2005)***
86. Y Tu Mamá También (2002)
87. Swingers (1996)
88. Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery (1997)****
89. Breaking the Waves (1996)
90. Napoleon Dynamite (2004)***
91. Back to the Future (1985)***
92. Menace II Society (1993)**
93. Ed Wood (1994)**
94. Full Metal Jacket (1987)*
95. In the Mood for Love (2001)
96. Far From Heaven (2002)
97. Glory (1989)**
98. The Talented Mr. Ripley (1999)
99. The Blair Witch Project (1999)*
100. South Park: Bigger Longer & Uncut (1999)***

Preparation For The Flood

Apparently, I have taken a week off from blogging. There has been so much to do at work (where I end up doing most of my blogging) and my evenings and weekends have been pretty booked up (not complaining). I keep coming up with ideas for blog posts, but then just never write anything. Well, that's about to change. Beginning right now and extending into the weekend (or further), new content will be appearing staggering quantities.

Up first, a movie meme via Megan, followed by reviews of recent activities ranging from baseball to movies to concerts to... the DMV! I'm sure everyone will be looking forward to a review of the DMV. I've been pretty busy, so there is plenty of material to work with.

Note: The term 'staggering quantities' is relative to the last two months, so anything more than about three posts in a week would be considered staggering.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Post All-Star Game

Finally, after 15 innings, the All-Star Game has come to a close. The AL scored the winning run on a very close play at the plate after several exciting near ends to the game. Honestly, I think the home plate ump just wanted the game to be over and he intended on calling Morneau safe no matter what happened.

Typically, I hold an All-Star Game party ever year and have a group of friends come over, eat snack food, pizza and brownies throughout the entire game and make fun of the announcing duo of Joe Buck and Tim McCarver. Now that I'm in a different city it was time to start a new tradition - a unique tradition that I would have to guess there were very, very few people in the entire world that can say they did this. The beautiful and ingenious, Ms. Florance, came up with a way to combine three of America's favorite past times - drinking, swimming and baseball. That's right, we pulled a TV out onto the patio, consumed a few tasty beverages (woah, woah, we're not alcoholics, we had like two drinks during the course of the game) and watched the game while chillin' in the pool. Hell yeah! Seriously... the perfect woman!

Here's the recap of how I fared on my predictions:
Final Score: AL 9, NL 4 - the AL did win, although the final was less lopsided.
MVP: Hamilton - he did go 1-3 with a stolen base, but didn't factor into any of the runs. JD Drew deserved the award with the 2-run homer, stolen base and getting on base in extra innings three times.
Win/Loss: E. Santana/Sheets - I didn't really expect the game to go 15 innings, so I was way off on this one.
Bold Prediction #1: - Joakim "The Mexicutioner" Soria would appear in the game - This may not have seemed very "bold", but Royals players have a tendency to not make appearances in All-Star games. The east coast bias tends to leave the KC players on the bench, no matter how good they are, but since the game went to extra innings, Soria did get to pitch. Unfortunately, McCarver and Buck blah blahed all over his impressive knee-buckling strikeouts and general nastiness. He didn't have his best appearance, but he didn't give up any runs and he got out of a couple tight spot. Could a better nickname than The Mexicutioner even exist?
Bold Prediction #2: - McCarver bursts into flames - I didn't witness this happen during the game, but I'm sure it was on a time delay because of the live event, so I'm sure FOX would have covered it up if it did. I'm going to assume that it did happen, there isn't any evidence otherwise, so I'll call it good.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Pre-All Star Game

As following a long standing tradition, I will make my annual Major League Baseball All-Star Game prediction. Since this is the first year that I have operated a blog, I will make my prediction available to the entire free world (or the eight people that will read this).

Final Score - American League 9, National League 4
MVP - Josh Hamilton (everything else good happens to this guy now, he's a shoo-in - I think he sold his soul to the devil)
Win/Loss - Ervin Santana will receive the win and the loss will go to Ben Sheets
Bold Prediction #1 - Royals representative, Joakim Soria, WILL appear in the game
Bold Prediction #2 - Tim McCarver will say something so inane and ridiculous, that he will spontaneously burst into flames on live television.

I know that my second prediction is rather... out there. I can hope, right?

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

HD-DVD Offer

I purchased an HD-DVD attachment for my Xbox360 late last year. Yes, I know the format is now defunct, and new movies are not going to be released for it. But, the player was cheap and it came with Season 1 of Heroes and a five free movie rebate deal. In my defense, I did purchase the player before Blu-Ray won the format war. The way the rebate offer played out was pretty amusing. At the end of February, I sent in my selections for my free movies. They gave three choices for each of the five slots and these films were what I considered to be the best of each category:

The Italian Job
Pitch Black
The Frighteners

About a month after I sent in the offer, they sent it back with some problem and asked me to re-fill out the form. I did so and returned it. They arrived on Saturday with a note saying "some of the movies you requested were no longer available" and they hoped that their alternates (that were not even on the original list) were acceptable. Here were movies I received:

Knocked Up
Blood Diamond
Bourne Identity

You might have noticed that none of the movies I requested were actually received. Realistically, I am happier with the random HD-DVDs they sent me than the ones they allowed me to choose from. Why did they even allow me to "choose" if they didn't even send me one film from my list? Also, why did it take five months to put those movies into a container to ship? Anyway, maybe now I'll be motivated to plug the HD-DVD player into the 360. It's just been sitting there for months.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Sunburn Is A Bitch

When I showed up at Megan's place on the Fourth, the first question I hear is "Why aren't you wearing red, white and blue?" Crap, why didn't I think of that when I got up in the morning? "I guess I'm just not that patriotic" was my response (Honestly, I just didn't think about expressing my patriotism through my clothing. I thought that was always done by how much shit I chose to blow up after dark). I could have driven back to my place and changed or bought a different shirt from the mall that is a mere three blocks from Megan's place - but being the resourceful problem solver that I am, I decided to make up for my faux pas by somewhat unconventional methods. I had blue and white in the shirt I was wearing... so I was just missing the red. I chose to spend the entire afternoon out in Megan's above ground pool to change my skin to a bright shade of red... which officially completed the color trio. Bam! Problem solved!

It has been years since the area the common t-shirt typically covers has been exposed to the sun, so this has become quite the ordeal, even now, three days out from the inception. Raising my arms above my head, putting on a shirt and carrying my laptop bag, are all things that I have to now consciously consider before just doing them. It's mostly just a nuisance and it is improving, but if I don't gripe about it now... it will be too late. I couldn't possibly miss my window of opportunity to bitch about something, could I?

Thursday, July 3, 2008


Last night, I arrived back at my apartment building to find that the thunderstorm had knocked out the power. The entire building was dark from outside, so I knew before I got inside that things would be somewhat interesting. I pulled into the parking garage, which was pitch black, and found a parking spot and carefully walked into the building. The elevators would surely be off, so I took the stairs. The emergency lights were on to light the stairwell... until I reached the 4th floor.

I consider myself to be resourceful, so I quickly whipped out my cell phone and used the backlight to illuminate my path. When I got to my floor, I again used my phone to find the proper key and went inside. Normally, my routine would be to change clothes, plop down on the couch, watch Pardon the Interruption (my favorite sports commentary show with hosts Tony Kornheiser and Michael Wilbon), fool around on the internet (checking sports scores and whatnot), then play an Xbox360 game until it's time to turn in. With no power, my usual routine was completely shot.

I found my stash of candles buried in a closet (with the use of the handy cell phone) and lit them with my torch lighter - which I normally don't carry, but have recently been, so it really came in handy (otherwise I would have been out of luck because I don't think I would have had any way to light them - no matches, maybe the gas stove would have worked... but I didn't need to try that). Then came the shocking part... I sat down and started reading a book. WTF? And not the Jon Hodgman book, or anything published by The Onion... but a real book - a Pulitzer Prize winning novel even - Cormac McCarthy's The Road, which was lent to me by the lovely Ms. Florance. I'm sure that I will post a review of some kind when I finish it next year. Ha! It's just too easy to watch television than to sit and read. I just try to make reading into a habit. The book is rather interesting so far, so I am sure that I'll work through this book on occasions other than blackouts.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

If Only...

This is an excerpt of a conversation between Megan's brother and his daughter, Lillian, from two weekends ago. I found the question to be absolutely hysterical... and the answer to be adorable. Lillian (the most adorable two year old little girl) had only moments ago, tipped over in a chair on the patio. She was probably just startled and scared, but was screaming. She had been rushed into the house and into the arms of her parents. After they had determined that she was going to be fine... this was the end of the conversation:

"Would some sort of frozen confection or cookie help to ease the pain?"
Lillian's tiny wavering voice barely cut through the tears "yes."

Once the frosted sugar cookie was in hand, everything was fine.

I am reminded of a time that I was playing basketball as an undergraduate and I had jumped up (the term "jump" is used loosely) for a rebound and I came down onto another player's foot. My foot folded to the side and my ankle actually touched the gym floor - in other words... I rolled my ankle. I remember the intense immediate pain and trying to "walk it off", which I did and continued playing. If only I would have had someone there to offer me a cookie and have the pain alleviated immediately. Maybe we should all carry cookies or some sort of frozen confection with us at all times.