Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Happiness is...

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

BOP co-founder Kim Hollis and I got married last week, fittingly enough on Friday the 13th. This semi-impulsive decision had been in the planning stages for, no joke, almost ten weeks now. We had initially determined we would elope and catch a Braves/Cardinals spring training game at Disney World on March 20th. The Cardinals won this outing, 2-1, presumably due to heavy cheating on their part. 11,421 fans bore witness to this, but we were not among them. Our original plans proved a bit too ambitious, so we wound up falling back to the third week of April.

The new plan was to go to Florida when it would be nice and cool. We would enjoy Disney World as well as their numerous water parks. It was a nice compromise of rest and relaxation for Kim as well as a nice way to work off the constant caffeine rush for me. She had envisioned bikinis and fruity drinks while I had anticipated thrill rides and $17 cheeseburgers. Disney World could accomplish both goals. The flaw with the plan was that we had too much going on with the site. We moved our plans back again, this time looking toward the start of May.

In the interim, we headed over to the friendly confines of the local municipal building, and we tried to pick up a marriage license. One would expect that this proudly red state would have any number of employees there, ready and willing to marry any nice, young couple, thereby promoting these marvelous values I've heard so much about. To our surprise, there was no one in the office capable of filling out a marriage license, because the only person capable of performing such a complicated task was at lunch. We wound up having to come back later, only to find an elderly woman choosing that day to try to master the technology of the computer and its adjoining QWERTY keyboard. After an hour of hunt and peck typing followed by a profound silence as she tried to figure out how to print copies of legal documents, this nice 108 year old woman handed us our license in a lovely manila folder and we were on our way. We had all the way up until May 16th to get married. No problem, right?

There was, however, an unfortunate choice made in the interim. With our lease at the current place almost up, we decided to look at a condo as well as the other nice apartments in the area. We received a couple of sales packets, which seemed like no big deal at the time. A few days later, I entered into a cleaning phase, a mood that strikes me about as often as Leap Year's Day Babies have birthdays. I threw out some trash, an innocuous enough tidbit on its own. A couple of days afterward, I asked Kim to go down to the car and pick up the marriage license in order for us to contact a minister and set a date. Confused, she said that the last she had seen of our rather important legal document had been its sitting in the floor underneath the condo paperwork. A chill went down each of our spines. Somewhere, an elderly bureaucrat with a crippling computer phobia was heard enjoying the last laugh at our expense.

After the wave of panic had been momentarily suppressed, an event that only took a few days, Kim and I came to terms with the fact that we had become quite possibly the first couple in the state of Tennessee to ever unintentionally dispose of their legally authorized marriage certificate. A priceless moment occurred as we contacted a clerk of the city and informed him regarding what had transpired. Everything in his tone of voice made it clear that he no further believed our story than he accepted the existence of the Tooth Fairy. To him, we had gotten into a Jerry Springer-flavored knockdown drag out brawl and then dumped the license in a fit of fury. After a bit of cajoling and no small amount of begging/bribery, we were informed that we could pick up a copy in a couple of days after the original had made its way to main office and back again. This was semi-great news in that it was nice to have the license back in the proper hands. Plus, we got to see Grandma Moses the computer-phobe again as she once more methodically attempted to conquer the great Xerox Printer Beast. The downside was that our accidental license disposal created a delay in our honeymoon plans from the start of May to the end of it. That was the next spot on the schedule available to each of us.

At this point, everything seemed fine and dandy for a change. We had a freshly minted marriage license, and one that lacked anything resembling garbage stains at that. Sure, Disney was out because the last thing in the world we wanted to do was fight Memorial Day crowds at the mecca of family entertainment, but beaches are a nice plan B (plan A for Kim, in fact). A quick re-scheduling of our vacation itinerary seemed to have everything lined up. There was but one problem.

If we left on our honeymoon as planned on May 20th, our marriage license would have expired four days prior. Having already dealt with the 108 year old woman twice now, seeing her a third time was something we viewed as *ahem* unappealing. As such, we needed to get married well before leaving for the honeymoon. We realized this last Thursday, meaning that we could either have the ceremony performed last Friday or today. Nobody wants to get married on a Monday; therefore, there were some speedy decisions required. Our previous choices, getting married at a small ceremony in Pigeon Forge or getting married by the minister at the church next door, were no longer feasible. Instead, we rushed over to the justice of the peace Friday afternoon. Had there been a marital rush, we would have been in a world of hurt. Fortunately, the superstitious Friday the 13th calendar configuration chased away most of the competition.

An indescribably tender and pious reverend was all too happy to quickly perform our ceremony since none of the justices were around that day. Obviously frustrated by firm guidelines separating church and state, he constantly probed the boundaries of Kim and my religious standing in order to determine whether he could do the ceremony that was in his heart. Happily discovering that we were both of faith, he got to be every bit as preachy as he wanted, making him consider us the finest couple he would have the honor of marrying that week. I cannot describe in words how happy he was to not have to leave God out of the conversation. This was a man who considered public ceremonies something of a mixed bag due to the enforced neutrality. We found this passion charming.

For our part, he scored huge points with us when he pointed out that he had seen us coming while having dinner in his car with his wife. He said in all sincerity (or at least I would hope so since he is a man of the cloth) that the couple had seen us coming. He had told his wife that we must have been looking to get married because we were far too happy-looking to be walking into the building for any other reason. We were deeply flattered by this assertion, one that confirmed our emotions about the event despite the troubles in getting to the fireworks factory. Of course, those of you who have traveled with us know that it wouldn't be Kim and I if there weren't a significant amount of trouble getting to the finish line.

We have spent the body of the weekend enjoying a non-honeymoon celebration in anticipation of getting oceanfront Saturday evening. Having dated for almost four years now, this was a long time coming as well as a moment of pristine satisfaction. We wanted to take this opportunity to thank each of you who have had a hand in helping our long shot candidacy of a relationship develop into a permanent one consisting of overwhelming love and joy.


Monday, May 16, 2005

I'm going to start doing baseball power rankings just as I did with football last year. There is going to be a slight variation in that I'm only going to do a top five and a bottom five list each week along with occasional honorable mentions. This liberates me from having to come up with 32 quips a week while getting more detailed about the why of my opinions. This format may or may not carry over to football season depending on how well I like it.

1) St. Louis Cardinals

The teams I had considered the top three heading into last week were all middling. St. Louis was the only one of three with a winning record, so that's good enough to bump them up to the top spot during a week of mediocrity for all the frontrunners. St. Louis continues to combine potent offense with stellar pitching. With Jason Isringhausen's return, they are the most complete team in baseball.

2) Atlanta Braves

Taking two out of three from the previous NL West leaders is counterbalanced by losing two out of three to the Rockies. On the plus side, the Braves have a positive run differential (runs scored vs. runs allowed) of 55, the largest in the majors.

3) Chicago White Sox

They failed to win a series last week. The split with Baltimore was fine, but the loss to TB was bad. Also, they were utterly incapable of getting someone named Jeff Fiorentino out.

4) Baltimore Orioles

Seriously, who in the blue hell is Jeff Fiorentino? He hops from A Ball and starts off hitting .600 in the bigs. That's like a Pujols redux. Orioles are +40 in run differential on the year, indicating that they are for real.

5) Arizona Diamondbacks

This is a nod to a surprising start so far as well as an amazing ability to win close games. The D'Backs have a negative scoring differential of 20 yet they have somehow managed to pull off the fifth best record in baseball. They're a mirage, but this ranking is a tip of the cap to their plucky spirit thus far.

Special notice: New York Yankees.

The team is still only .500 but going undefeated on the week will always merit at least special consideration. The reality is that while the start of the year was fun for people who resent the Yankees for their bankroll, NY has turned it around. I still worry about their pitching (across the board), but the worst is over for the Bronx Bombers.

Bottom five:

5) Houston Astros

This is the flip side of the D'Backs vote. The Astros are only down 15 runs total on the season. How then are they 14-23? Oh yeah, it's that 2-16 road record combined with the third lowest scoring team in baseball. Since Houston plays in a hitter's park, this is all the more troubling. The scary thought is that Houston is 12-7 at home, further exemplifying how inept their road offense is.

4) Colorado Rockies

They have the worst record in baseball by four games, but it feels wrong to kick them after going 4-4 over their last 8. It's not much, but it is forward progress.

3) Kansas City Royals

Like the Rockies, they are 4-4 over their last 8. The difference is that the Rockies beat a good team while half of KC's wins came against the Devil Rays.

2) Tampa Bay Devil Rays

Spotting them in the bottom five is a bit tricky. The good news is that they took two out of three from the White Sox. The bad news is that they lost two out of three to KC. I want to reward them for the good wins, but they also should be punished for the bad losses. More to the point, I can't rank them above the team that just took two out of three from them. Also, they have the worst pitching in baseball by almost 20 runs. That feels like a bottom of the barrel team to me. But at least they didn't go 0 for the week like...

1) Oakland A's

Rich Harden's injury is scary enough. What's more troubling, though, is that negative scoring differential of 60. Believe it or not, even the Royals and Devil Rays are better than that. What's killing them is a total inability to score runs. They're the worst in the game right now. Oakland is getting thumped worse than anybody else in the bigs. Mired in an 8 game losing streak, they need to right this ship fast before all hope is lost.


Sunday, May 08, 2005

The only solace I get from not picking the Kentucky Derby winner is that nobody else did either. I'm not a horse racing fan, but I do find the Triple Crown races to be ten fun minutes of television each year. I'm not the aficionado that Hollis and Hyde are, but I do understand why they have so much fun in tracking their stables each campaign.

Moving along, another Rank & File is in the books. You seem to feel that Nicole Kidman's films are ordered like this:

...and here are the results from the other BOP readers:
1) Moulin Rouge!
2) The Others
3) To Die For
4) Dead Calm
5) The Hours

The BOP staff is almost right on this one. They see the films ranked as:

Here are the results from the BOP staff:
1) Moulin Rouge!
2) To Die For
3) The Others
4) Dead Calm
5) The Hours

In actuality, the films should be ranked and filed as:

1) The Others
2) Moulin Rouge!
3) Dead Calm
4) The Hours
5) To Die For

The Sixth Sense gets all the hype, but Alejandro AmenĂ¡bar made the superior film in 2001. Kidman was runner-up for Best Actress in the Calvins that year, and I maintain that it is her finest performance in addition to being her best film. Once the big twist is revealed, the movie becomes an even better experience, an amazing accomplishment for an already great film.

With regards to Moulin Rouge!, I am not the diehard fan of the flick that some of the BOP staff members are. Dan Krovich, Kim Hollis, and Kyle Kunitake get starry-eyed just thinking about it. Me, I like it just fine and think the music is great. I do think the film falls apart a bit at the end, and that's reason enough to not put it above the perfect film, The Others. Simultaneously, it's not quite enough to dock it to a spot under another great film, 1989's Dead Calm. That thriller was one of the best films of the decade, but it tends toward the minimalist side. Were there more meat to it, Dead Calm might be a less enjoyable experience but as is, it doesn't have the full impact of emotion that Moulin Rouge! does. Of course, the scene where Kidman gets a grimy hands shampooing from Ben Stiller's good friend, Bily Zane, is one of the best creep-out moments of the last quarter century. Dead Calm is a solid 8.5 out of 10 in my book.

There is a decent gap between third and fourth place from my perspective. Despite the presence of one of my favorite actresses in the world, Miranda Richardson, I found The Hours lacking as a whole. It just didn't move me much. And that film is still superior to her breakthrough role in the vastly overhyped To Die For. All the media attention the movie received for being all-too-similar to a real life story glosses over the fact that the film is deadly dull. For my part, I lobbied for the inclusion of Flirting, a 1991 early Kidman outing which co-starred the goddess of love, Thandie Newton. It's an underrated masterpiece of moviemaking, but nobody involved with publishing this edition of Rank & File felt the majority of our readers would have seen it. I find that thought rather depressing. Get thee to a Netflix queue!


Friday, May 06, 2005

Since it's almost Kentucky Derby day and I'm tired of Chris Hyde and Kim Hollis crying because they never pick the winner, I thought I would help them out. Here is your winner:

Greeley's Galaxy is the horse to put the cash on, people.

No, I don't know anything about horse racing.

Yes, I just like the name.


Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Okay, first things first. The site addition I mentioned the other day has been delayed until next Monday. We are locking in that date to debut it. It almost launched today, but we decided it could use just a bit of glossing up. In addition, monthly forecasts are Friday, so the end of the week is going to be a bit congested with Survivor and TAR recaps and box office analysis to clog it up further with a new feature. We are working hard behind the scenes to get it ready for your perusal and expect it will prove to be one of our most popular features once finished.

On a note unrelated to BOP but of note for movie lovers, the EZ1 Productions summer box office game is about to start up again. Anyone familiar with the old Mr. Showbiz game knows how this game works. If you are unfamiliar with it, the concept is simple. Players are given a bankroll to invest on upcoming summer releases based on pre-set strike prices. If for example you bid $37 for a movie that opens to $50 million, you earn $50 million worth of box office dollars at a cost of only $37 million. Conversely, if the same film opens to only $20 million, you have paid roughly a dollar for something worth fifty cents. It's a fun game concept that several members of the BOP staff play from time to time. I highly recommend it if you are inclined to check it out. If so, click here.

Now then, let's talk Rank & File. You seem to feel that your favorite book-to-movie adaptations are:

1) The Lord of the Rings trilogy
2) The Shawshank Redemption
3) The Godfather
4) Silence of the Lambs
5) The Wizard of Oz

The staff indicates that they see it as:

1) The Godfather
2) The Shawshank Redemption
3) The Lord of the Rings trilogy
4) Silence of the Lambs
5) The Wizard of Oz

I am of the opinion that you are all nuts. I see it as:

1) The Shawshank Redemption
2) The Godfather
3) The Wizard of Oz
4) The Lord of the Rings Trilogy
5) Silence of the Lambs

Choosing between first and second place here is difficult. These are two of the finest cinematic experiences ever. The shocking brutality of The Godfather's family of anti-heroes creates one of the most quotable movies of all time. For me, though, the power of its violent story falls just a bit short of the magnificent relationship between the Tim Robbins and Morgan Freeman characters in Shawshank. Never has a friendship been so beautifully enacted onscreen.

The drop from second to third place is relatively dramatic for me. I have never been a huge fan of The Wizard of Oz. I do, however, appreciate its impact on cinema as well as its lasting appeal. The brilliance of the introduction of color to the storyline as well as the revelation that there might be no one behind the curtain is what I love best about Oz. But it's not much to hang my hat on.

Meanwhile, The Lord of the Rings trilogy doesn't even get that. I got dragged to all three of these and I swear to God that it feels like I am still watching Return of the King. How many freakin' endings does one movie need? The Energizer Bunny doesn't have that degree of endless repetition with nothing in the way of storyline advancing. And did nobody but me see the freaking hobbit dancing and singing on the table? That's an SNL skit, not a powerhouse cinematic segment.

As for Silence of the Lambs, this is a fine example of how the entire world can find a film to be a revelation while a single person finds it loathsome. Jodie Foster's accent alone is enough of an abomination to make me turn on the movie completely. She is woefully miscast in this part and I despise her performance as much as any in the history of film. Buffalo Bob is a better actress than her and more feminine to boot. Ignoring the "it puts the lotion in the basket or it gets the hose again" line, there is no redeeming value whatsoever in this movie in my opinion.

So, *ahem*, we disagree a bit on the rankings this time. I am, however, more than willing to accept that my opinions are in the profound minority here. Speaking ill of Peter Jackson at this point is only inches short of hating the Beetles these days. Speaking of which...nah, I'll save that rant for another day.


Sunday, May 01, 2005

Here are a few quick site notes for you. There have been some issues raised about the number of times we update Rank & File. As a point of clarification, this will occur about once a week. That's the same period we give the front page poll, so it seems like an appropriate time frame. Unlike the rest of Today, we're not interested in immediacy on those results. Your thought processes are a point of interest for the BOP staff, so we want to give all of our regular readers every possible opportunity to chime in.

With regards to what's next, legendary codemaster Tony Kollath aka Q (apologies to the three of you who have never seen a Bond film) is working on a big project that might be finished by the end of the summer. It will effectively revise everything we post on the site in order to maximize your one-stop-shopping experience at BOP. In the interim, we are going to be unveiling a fun little item in the next 48 hours or so. This was also Tony's idea, and it's something we like so much we have toyed with the notion of making it a stand-alone Web site. If you enjoy it even 10% as much as I do, you will love it. It's quite possibly my favorite thing we have done since the redesign.

Also, for those of you who don't get the newsfeed of BOP and don't read BOP Today (for shame!), my Big Board has received some much needed attention. I still need to clean up my 2004 results a bit, but all of the 2005 titles I have seen save eight are now listed. I will catch up on the others this week. There are currently about a dozen wide releases from the 2005 calendar I haven't caught yet. Three of them hit DVD in the next two weeks and all of the others save two are still in theaters, so I should be almost completely current in another ten days or so. Suffice it to say that the cinematic year to date has been brutal, but there are recent signs of hope. Even a film starring Jimmy Fallon was above average. That alone gives me confidence as we move into the summer season.

Speaking of summer, now that the BOP 25 results are in, I can let you know how my ballot looks. I have already seen (and been amused by) my top selection, Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. My love of that project goes back to my early Commodore 64 days when I was obsessed with all things Infocom. I used to love playing that game with my brother, and have gotten a kick out of being able to play it again thanks to the BBC. I was also a huge fan of the original BBC series. The rest of my ballot is as follows:

2) Mr. and Mrs. Smith
3) War of the Worlds
4) The Longest Yard
5) Fantastic Four
6) The Bad News Bears
7) Skeleton Key
8) Howl's Moving Castle
9) Land of the Dead
10) Domino

Domino had been above everything except for Mr. and Mrs. Smith before the trailer came out. The Lonest Yard is my fastest riser here. All of the signs for that one are positive. Skeleton Key has me skittish since it's been such a terrible year for horror movies, but I love the teaser. As for Fantastic Four, I am someone who has never cared for comic books the way a lot of men do. This is my one exception. I used to find the idea of the cerebral Reed Richards and the brutish Thing to be a marvelous combination and Dr. Doom has always been the one super-villain who did it for me. Having said all that, I am fully prepared for the movie to bomb. It looks worse than The Hulk (but with better trailer music).

My next blog entries will be a pair of Rank & File results and maybe a couple of sports-related posts in the baseball/football vein.


May 2004
June 2004
July 2004
August 2004
September 2004
October 2004
November 2004
December 2004
February 2005
March 2005
April 2005
May 2005
June 2005
July 2005
August 2005
September 2005
October 2005



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