Monday, July 13, 2009

Movie Weekend with Row N!

So this past weekend, the Row N folks within the Timbers Army held our latest gathering of the troops, the Row N Movie weekend. Girl and I hosted the festivities at our house, which meant us spending a lot of times cleaning, organizing, cleaning, moving stuff about, cleaning, and getting the room of cats ready to go for them to spend the weekend away from the guests. We love our cats greatly, but some of them don't deal well with strangers, so putting them in a room helps them out as much as it helps a few of our friends that are allergic to felines. We wanted this weekend to follow the trend of events for Row N, which started with gatherings at Edgefield, the Row N Wedding, Row N Camping at Cape Lookout, and our last trip, the Row N Road Trip to Bend. I'll provide some highlights from the weekend by day:
Friday - The festivities started up at 7 pm, or so, as folks began to gather around at our place. We had locked up the cats early that morning, and they had been screaming to get out, until they started hearing voices they didn't recognize. We had the bar stocked, the snack foods ready, and we had also prepared rooms around the house for people to stay if they wanted. By the time everyone had gathered, we had about 15 folks ready for the first movie of the weekend, the Room. Girl and I had heard about the Room, and how it had inspired viewings around the Los Angeles area, and how some of the viewings were as spirited as old Rocky Horror Picture Show, and then finally got to see parts of the movie on Adult Swim on April 1st this year while also seeing the director on Tim and Eric, Awesome Show. After seeing this, we had to see what the fuss was about, and so this was the first choice of the weekend.
The best way to describe the Room is simply that this is a movie to watch to learn about what not to do when making a movie. The script is nonsense, the acting is terrible, the camera work is horrible, the music trite, and the pacing is all over the place, but it's so terrible that it's hysterical to watch. As the movie went out, the quotes of bad lines kept popping up, and by the end of this train wreck, well, we can say we've seen what some people are calling the newest cult classic. Apparently, the interviews and deleted scenes are even more hysterical, and so we'll have to sit down and watch them at some point.
For the second movie, we watched Delicatessen, a French movie set in an apocalyptic world where people eat other people. It's an extremely quirky, dark, black comedy, but it's visually stunning and extremely interesting to watch. Even the smallest details on screen translate into other things later, and it wraps up into a rather satisfying ending. I wasn't sure what to expect from a movie like this, but I rather enjoyed it in a quirky way, and even with some of the more gruesome subjects of the film, it was done in an interesting and fun way. I have to say I enjoyed having my mind opened a bit. After this, everyone was fairly tired, so we closed up the theatre for the night, ready to resume things in the morning.
Saturday - We woke up and had breakfast of eggs and bacon, and some rather tasty bacon supplied by S3K. The first movie on Saturday was Beerfest, which isn't the most challenging movie to watch, but it had some rather funny moments and was a lot better that I would have expected. The whole concept of the film is beer drinking competition, so it brought back some memories of bad drinking games from my college days. And since I'd had a bit to drink the previous night, the first beers of the day on Saturday were bringing back flashbacks of college days. And yes, Cloris Leachman is really hysterical in the movie.
We also watched the documentary, Once in a Lifetime, about the old New York Cosmos. Being a youngster during many of the days of the North American Soccer League and not living in the area, it was great to see pictures of the old Civic Stadium and the huge crowds that were present during the old days of the Timbers. The documentary really showed the true love one guy had for soccer in America, Steve Ross, and the lengths he went to in order to turn New York into a soccer hotbed. The Cosmos were huge, and they were outdrawing other more established teams in the area through the 1970s, and it was fascinating to see the excesses that it took to keep them on top. Ross spent money hand over foot to bring talent in, much like another team owner in the area of a certain baseball team, and the crowds followed. But, the NASL collapsed around the same time the Warner Brothers communication giant was struggling, and so the Cosmos are now nothing more than history.
The Timbers played in Austin that night, so we were able to set up a viewing on the big screen. We needed to follow our team, and this fit to within our schedule. Nelson Field is a football stadium, and the fact that gridball lines were all over basically showed that while it might be a nice stadium, you know what rules down there. The telecast of the game was rather odd, considering the camera angle chosen for the telecast was very, very, high over the stadium and so there were some vertigo inducing moments. The sound was pretty crappy, and there were dead spots where the camera couldn't follow the ball because of angles, but hey, it's a free broadcast, and at least when it was on screen, it looked impressive in HD.
As far as the game itself, the Timbers looked good early, getting a goal by Mandjou Keita in the first half to take the lead, and then they went into defensive mode in the second half while Austin began attacking and getting some chances. Perhaps it was the heat, but I think it was more of the strategy that the Timbers have been following all year, get ahead early and then hold them off. Sometimes it works if you get up big early, but in other times like the past game in Minnesota, it bites you in the butt when you can't get the big lead and you are only up a goal and the other team gets a late equalizer. And sure enough, even after playing well in stretches and dealing with the heat and humidity, the Timbers gave up a late goal to allow the Aztex to pull the game level in stoppage time. However, tonight would be different, as Tony McManus made an aggressive play for the ball in midfield, hit Johan Claesson with a nicely threaded pass, and Claesson buried the ball in the net past current Aztex and former Timbers goalkeeper Sam Reynolds, giving the Timbers a 2 to 1 lead, which is how the game ended.
After the match, it was time to cook barbeque and set up the dance party. The food was great, and the desserts were tasty, although it took a bit to get folks to eat some foods. I mean, Ok, it was a creepy dead clown cake, but it was very tasty and lacked gluten but had plenty of goodness. The dance party got off to a bit of a slow start, until it was gradually turned into karaoke and video time for a bit. I felt a bit bad, because girl really wanted to boogie down, but it appeared the energy level was a bit waning after the match and massive foods. We did put in some short films later inspired by H.P. Lovecraft later on, which I found interesting. I don't know much about Lovecraft and his work, but apparently, he's quite revered in some circles with some unusual takes on life and death, and is considered a horror mastermind. I'm looking forward to seeing more of his work at some point. We did finally get to bed later, and it was time to move to day 3.
Sunday - As I woke up, Hornman and dublinx had already started cooking french toast and bacon for the folks staying, which was appreciated, and we did watch a bit of the Soup and some infotainment for a bit. The crackens, er the cats, were released about 11 AM, and they got a chance to meet the guests that were remaining. Some of them were happy to see the fuss, while some of our more scaredy cats decided it was better to hide until the house was clear.
We did throw in Robin Hood - Men in Tights as sort of a wind-down, and it's one of Mel Brooks' really good films from his late period. Like Space Balls, it maintains some fun and corny jokes while not taking itself too seriously, and it's easily watchable. It's fun to watch a movie that the actors are enjoying themselves in, and so it capped off the weekend quite well. By 2 PM, the house was clear, and the movie fest was complete.
Overall, it was great to see everyone, and I think overall, it was a great success. There are some things that I think I'd do differently for the next time we gather for movies, but at the same point, it was a good time and I'm glad that those attending seemed to have fun. And we'll always remember the epicness of Friday night, watching four guys throw a football around. You are tearing us apart!!!!!!
Other random thoughts -
There is a task group that is reexamining the uses for the Memorial Coliseum and see what can be done to revitalize the area. Since the Rose Quarter was built, not much has happened while restaurants have come and gone until the idea of putting baseball there was brought up. Although Sam Adams has said the idea of bringing baseball is dead there, some people are still wanting to consider putting a ballpark there. It should be an interesting discussion over the next few months as this process continues.
My newest hero in sports is Dustin Pedroia, who is taking off the All Star Break to be with his pregnant wife. She is dealing with a potentially complicated pregnancy, and so Pedroia is making the choice to be with her during this time, instead of playing in the midseason classic. I understand these guys are professionals and it's an honor to be chosen to play, but a player's family is the foundation of getting these guys to the next level, and I admire someone who chooses to support his family when he can. I know some guys can't understand why he would make this choice, but at the same time, it's important to be there for your wife which can't always be the case in a job like a professional athlete with all the travel and obligations. The Red Sox are a team that I enjoy watching, and now I have another good reason to support these guys.
Finally, girl and I will be taking in the Triple AAA All-Star Game from PGE Park over the next few days. We'll be going to the home run contest tonight, and the game itself on Wednesday night. I'm actually looking forward to seeing some of the best baseball talent around up close. While I'm extremely supportive of the MLS effort, I understand why some people might view this game as a reason why baseball should stay in PGE Park. Yes, it will be a big crowd, and yes, it will be good to see Portland in the spotlight, and I'm happy to see folks support Merritt Paulson in this, but the best long term thing that can be done to help baseball in Portland is get it a stadium that works for now and the future. That means a 10 to 12 thousand seat stadium with seats along both baselines, and a more intimate feel with closer seats to the action. PGE Park is a decent ballpark, but baseball here deserves better.

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