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Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Movie Review: Creed

Creed debuted in theaters in November, stirred up Oscar talk in February and was released to DVD in March.  Inexplicably, it took me until April to see the film.  With Creed, the seventh installment of the series, the Rocky franchise takes a leap forward while keeping a firm grip on the past.  It's a winning combination that will satisfy old fans and win over a new generation.

Creed begins in a California juvenile detention center where an orphan boy with a penchant for fist fights is given a second chance at life when he learns that he is the son of the legendary Apollo Creed and is adopted by Creed's widow.  As the plot unfolds, an adult Adonis, played by Michael B. Jordan, learns what it truly means to be a fighter and what it means to bear his famous father's last name.  Along the way, Adonis makes his way to Philadelphia where he convinces Rocky Balboa to come out of retirement to train him in the ring and in life.

Creed is a standalone movie, but it is a far richer experience for viewers who are familiar with the original films.  Despite this connection to the past, the franchise took a leap forward by injecting young and talented blood into the mix with writer-director Ryan Cooler and leading man Michael B. Jordan.  Acting alongside the young Jordan, an aging Sylvester Stallone delivered a performance worthy of his best supporting actor nomination.  But, at the end of the day, Creed is still a Rocky movie with all the melodrama and predictability that has characterized the franchise since Rocky III.

Creed is a perfect next step in the Rocky saga.  It is uplifting and entertaining and an all-around fun two hours of entertainment.

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Saturday, April 16, 2016

Book Review: Calico Joe

calico joe review
Baseball season is upon us.  In order to get in the mood, I decided to read Calico Joe by John Grisham.

In Calico Joe, Grisham departs from the world of legal intrigue and delves into the world of baseball.  The narrative bounces back and forth between modern day and the summer of 1973.  In both settings, the story is told from the first person perspective of Paul Tracey, son of fictional, major league pitcher Warren Tracey.

The clarification that Warren Tracey is fictional is an important one because the action in 1973 is set within the context of a real baseball season.  Real teams, real ballparks and real players serve as the backdrop for the fictional action.

This interweaving of real baseball references led the Washington Times to declare that Grisham "knows his way around the ballpark as well as he does a courtroom."  The trouble is, Grisham doesn't actually know his way around a courtroom all that well (I am a lawyer, I get to say these things).  What normally sets Grisham apart from the competition is not legal realism.  It is rich characters and detailed southern settings.  Calico Joe lacks both of those characteristics.

Die hard baseball fans will likely find the baseball storyline fantastical and irritating.  Fans of a good yarn about a father and son will likely find that storyline lacking depth and insight.  If you are looking for an audio book to distract you on the treadmill, then Calico Joe might fit the bill.  But, if you are looking for the baseball version of A Time to Kill, you will be sorely disappointed.

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Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Anniversary Flashback: Sports are Hard

I love sports.  I love everything about them.  The whole reason I created Banshee Sports was to share that love with as many people as possible.  One of the reasons I love sports is because even the most mundane aspects of our favorite games require a high level of skill and excellence.  This post from April 26, 2014 explored some of the hard things in sports that we take for granted when we watch and criticize from our couches and barstools.

Sports Are Hard

Busy pit road in NASCAR
Are you kidding me?  How can a pro mess that up?  We've all heard ourselves yell something like this at our television as we watch world-class athletes mess up something they usually make look easy.  Well, the answer to those questions is simple:  Sports are hard.

I have compiled a list of run of the mill athletic activities that fans take for granted every day.  This is not a list of the most difficult things in sports.  I think we all acknowledge that we could not perform hand stands and flips on a balance beam.  We acknowledge that we could not dunk from the foul line.  And, nothing from hockey appears on this list because everything those guys do looks extremely hard.

The list below only includes actions that we watch the pros do effortlessly everyday.  The actions that make us incorrectly scream, "Come on, I could do that!" when a pro fails.  Click here to continue reading.

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Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Banshee Bracket Winner

Villanova and North Carolina gave us one of the most thrilling national championship games of all time.  Likewise, the Banshee Bracket Challenge came down to the wire.  As the Tarheels and the Wildcats traded baskets, Jason Todd and Tyler Skeeters were trading the bracket championship back and forth.  When Villanova finally clinched the title on Kris Jenkins' buzzer beater, Tyler Skeeters clinched first place and the grand prize subscription to Tailgater Magazine.

Heading into the Final Four, five competitors had a chance to win the Banshee Bracket Challenge.  Out of that group, only Mr. Skeeters picked Villanova to win the championship.  Tyler was in fifth place heading into the final weekend, but stormed to the top thanks to 'Nova's gritty defense and amazing shooting.  For Tyler, this was not just a head pick.  It was also a heart pick.  Tyler is from the Philadelphia area and was rooting for the Wildcats even if there was no prize on the line.  So, it was just a bonus to Tyler that he also won a subscription to Tailgater Magazine.

Thank you to everyone who participated in this year's competition.  I look forward to seeing you all in future Banshee Sports competitions.

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