RIP the DeVanzo Shift, you bunch of one-dimensional pussies

Ain’t that a crock: MLB votes in favor of several rule changes that will be implemented starting in the 2023 baseball season, which includes effectively, the banning of the shift

In all fairness, some of the other rule changes are fine.  The pitch clock, limiting pick-off attempts and widening bases.  The gradually increasing ADD nature of humanity can’t sit through three hour games anymore and are demanding change, and adding three inches to bases won’t really be that noticeable except to players who might not get their ankles kicked in or stepped on as much.

But the banning of the shift?  Now that’s booty.  Such a cop out.  Result of a bunch of bitches being, bitches.  The supposed greatest baseball players on the planet all suck so much at baseball and are incapable of hitting the other way so they collectively complain so much that it forces MLB’s hand to outright ban the defensive strategy that has owned them for the last decade.  Total bullshit.

I dislike this immensely.  Instead of trying to raise and develop players to spray and hit to all parts of the field, MLB has basically doubled down its catering to power hitters and is instead modifying rules to benefit them instead of telling them to suck it up and evolve their skillset back to when they were kids and probably told to use all parts of the field.

This is why on a global level, Japan still ranks above the United States in pure baseball talent.  When it comes down to it, they might not have guys who will clobber 50 homers in a season, but pretty much everyone in NPB is capable of hitting the ball to opposite field, and their collective batting average is probably noticeably higher than MLB’s collective batting average.

I still remember back in the 2009 World Baseball Classic, there was a Japan vs. US game; Roy Oswalt started for the US, and he absolutely got slaughtered by Team Japan who hung like six runs on him, without a single home run.  The Japanese hitters were basically just consistently plopping singles the other way, and Team USA just had no answer for it, and ended up losing 9-4 in an embarrassing elimination.

This, is the power of being able to hit to all parts of the field, but this is also something that we’ll probably never see in MLB, because instead of challenging players to adapt to a staunch defensive strategy, they’re just prohibiting the strategy and making it easier for players to remain fat talentless sluggers.

But most of all, I’ll never be able to proclaim “the DeVanzo Shift” again whenever an oaf like Joey Gallo steps into the box and gleefully watch a third baseman position themselves on the right side of second base, before he stupidly clubs a grounder into the teeth of the shift and gets thrown out at first with minimal effort.  In fact, Joey Gallo is probably the odds-on favorite to win an MVP award next season with the shift being neutered, and guys like Brian McCann and Jay Bruce are probably back in the cages right now, getting ready to make a comeback, knowing they won’t have to face the shift starting next year.

When the day is over, I haven’t paid hardly any attention to the game since my children have been born, but I still keep my ear to scuttlebutt.  And it bugs me that rules are being changed in this manner, not just in defiance of change, but because of the sentiment that bad behavior is being rewarded instead of inspiring improvement and betterment of the players’ skillsets, and that’s just pathetic.

I love Luis Guzman, but I can’t get over him as Gomez Addams

Apparently because I live under a rock, I had no idea that there was an adaptation of The Addams Family on the slate for revival.  And very recently, some stills dropped to release the initial promotion for what is apparently going to be a Netflix series.  Obviously, I know nothing about it at all, but seeing the above image, was enough for me to be intrigued.

To no surprise, Catherine Zeta Jones is still gorgeous, and there’s little doubt that she’ll visually portray Morticia Addams probably very well.  The kid playing Puglsey doesn’t look nearly as fat or creepy as I always remembered the character to be, and I don’t think I need any synopsis to read that based on the promotional imagery, the show is probably going to lean heavily on swirling about Wednesday Addams, because the point of all revivals and reboots today are typically geared towards drawing in the next generation, while using easter eggs and nods to the past to satiate us olds.

But for me, it’s all about Gomez Adams, who is laughably portrayed by Luis Guzman.  Now I’ve been a fan of Guzman since I saw him in The Count of Monte Cristo, where he played Jacopo the Maggot, Edmond Dantes’ sworn-for-life right hand mate, a role that endeared me to him forever, because few characters have ever portrayed selfless and die-hard loyalty than Jacopo did.

But let’s not sugar-coat it; Luis Guzman isn’t exactly the most stereotypically handsome man in the history of Hollywood media.  He’s a stumpy, pug-faced runt of an actor that so often times gets pegged as some cholo Los Angeles gangbanger named Hector or something as stereotypically bad.  And here he is, slated to be the suave, debonair, romantic love machine, Gomez Addams that was so brilliantly and famously done by Raul Julia in the 1990s.

From what I’ve heard, this reboot is supposedly aiming to harken back to the original Addams Family comic strips from way back when, where Gomez was always portrayed to be kind of stumpy, way shorter than Morticia, and in fact, a little ugly, compared to his bombshell of a wife, adding to the situational humor of the pairing.  So I guess that if that is the objective, than a guy like Luis Guzman isn’t a bad pick, but at least for olds my age, who grew up seeing Raul Julia flipping around and stealing the scenes with his portrayal of Gomez, it’s going to be a really, really hard sell to see Luis Guzman try to ooze the machismo that his predecessor did.

All the same, I do love Jacopo, and for him alone, I would consider giving this Netflix Addams Family reboot a flyer.  Sure, it’ll sit underneath tons of other titles that are in my queue, but if the conditions are right, I’m definitely willing to give it a shot, because as hard of a pill it’ll be to swallow, my appreciation for Luis Guzman would make me take a chance on the new Gomez Addams.

I am all in for Gus Fring as Professor X

Impetus: Giancarlo Esposito reveals that he has had meetings with Marvel people for a future role, expresses desire to be Professor X

My knee-jerk reaction to the idea of Gus Fring being Professor X, was absolutely all aboard the train.  I get that aside from Captain Picard, the role of Charles Xavier was basically designed to be for Patrick Stewart, but in the age and in light of pursuing change and pursuing the future, I’m hard pressed to imagine anyone more succinctly qualified for the role of Professor X than Giancarlo Esposito.

Like many, my first real exposure to Esposito was him playing Gus Fring in Breaking Bad, and as far as characters go, he’s easily up there as some of my all-time favorites, because I love characters that are cerebral, command respect, and play the long game like a chess grandmaster.  I get that throughout his career since, he’s basically been bad guy after bad guy after bad guy, but there’s absolutely no reason to believe that he wouldn’t be capable of playing the cerebral, respect commanding, long game-player like Professor X, plus it’s not like Xavier didn’t make some fucked up choices in his life either.

Esposito is polished, annunciates intelligently and in the manner you’d expect to hear from Professor X, and has been entrenched in sci-fi/comics long enough to where it probably wouldn’t feel inorganic or phony on his part when playing the role.  There is absolutely zero reason why he wouldn’t make an excellent Professor X.

Unfortunately, to no surprise, there are plenty of people out there that don’t agree with my enthusiasm for the idea of Gus Fring as Professor X.  And the funny-not-really-funny thing about the internet and social media and how we’re spoon-fed occasional comments, is when you see the remarks from people you know, and you’re reading words that don’t really sound that intelligent or, in the case of what I saw, were good examples of peoples’ white privilege soaking through the sponge.

Because in spite of many peoples’ best attempts to try not to be racist but not doing a very good job of doing it, the seemingly number one reason for any sort of opposition of the idea of Giancarlo Esposito as Professor X, really boils down to the fact that he’s not white.  I understand that there’s an expectation set by decades of seeing a lily-white Caucasian Professor X in comics and FOX properties, but we live in a world where change is inevitable and is happening very rapidly.  But you could go back to 1963 and change the skin tone of Professor X to absolutely any color at all, and it wouldn’t have altered the course of history one bit.

He’d still have has had his legs crushed by the Shadow King.  He still would have gone toe-to-toe with Phoenix on the psychic plane.  He still would’ve gotten shot by Stryfe and been the first guy to have the Legacy Virus.  He still would’ve mind-fucked hundreds of people and become Onslaught.  And so forth and so forth.  A black Xavier, Hispanic Xavier, Asian Xavier wouldn’t have changed the course of the character’s history one bit.  Just because he was white in six decades worth of comic books doesn’t mean he couldn’t be presented as non-white in what would be at the very most, a series of films.

But seeing people take shots at his polish, his acting ability and other reasons to criticize the guy when they’re really just objecting to the fact that his skin tone doesn’t match Ben Affleck’s, is insulting and is bullshit.  When the day is over, the right performer should be the one to get the role, regardless of the color of their skin.  I mean, look at the shitty 2003 Daredevil speaking of Ben Affleck.  The film was horrendous, but one of the few things they did get right was casting a very black Michael Clarke Duncan as the role of the historically very white Kingpin.  Regardless of skin color, Duncan is a tank of a man who commands a room, has swag and is convincingly physically invincible, much like the character he portrayed.  Naturally, there was much complaints about that as well, but to its credit it still came to fruition.

Plus, Patrick Stewart isn’t getting any younger.  Y’all remember seeing his cameo in [spoiler redaction]?  Eyes all sinking in with age, not entirely sure the wheelchair was just a prop.  When he was a layup for the role of Professor X, those Bryan Singer X-Men flicks were literally two decades ago.  Stewart is 82 years old.  Eighty-two years old.  At the very most, Professor X was probably in his early fifties in the comics, in “present” canon.  Absolutely no disrespect to Picard.  He is the living embodiment of how Professor X was originally portrayed.  But my man is getting old.  He is old.  He doesn’t need to be continued to be trotted out, and then get the digital Luke Skywalker treatment.  Let the change happen.  Change.  Is.  Needed.

Hopefully the stiffs at Disney/Marvel/ESPN/FOX will be capable of not caving into their white racist brethren when it comes time to eventually start casting for the introduction of mutants into the MCU, and make the right fucking call: Giancarlo Esposito as Professor X.

One step closer to Demolition Man

Impetus: Taco Bell opens a state-of-the-art, two story Taco Bell restaurant in Minnesota that prioritizes app and mobile pickup via drive thru lanes

And just like that, we’re one step closer to entering the world of Demolition Man.  The world is already full of pussies, the police are pretty ineffective at their jobs, and although not contained to one singular Simon Phoenix, there are insane sociopaths that run rampant who never seem to be brought to justice.  It only seems fitting that the time has come for Taco Bell to execute a preemptive strike at fulfilling their destiny of surviving the franchise wars, thus making all restaurants in the world, Taco Bell.

I eat way more fast food than I care to admit.  My excuse is that it really can’t be helped, because I’m still very much in daily survival mode with my two kid girls running rampant in my life, and by the time they’re fed, bathed and in bed, it’s already getting late, I’m hangry, and I just want something fast and delicious, regardless of the health detriment fast food is known to be.  All the same, I know what I like, and I would say that I know my way around the players in the franchise wars pretty decently.

I love Bojangles, I think Chick Fil-A’s app is the gold standard, and Zaxby’s is always a good way to break up the monotony.  Freddy’s has entered the market around here, and I hear that a Whataburger has opened up near Kennesaw State University, which isn’t an unreasonable drive if I actually had the time and patience to go there.  Wendy’s and Taco Bell are also welcome options, but with more of a gambler’s mentality, because you just don’t know when one of them will light a stick of dynamite in your digestive system, as satisfyingly delicious they reliably are.  I have no qualms with McDonald’s, and for whatever reason, Burger King doesn’t seem to do to well in the Atlanta market, but I’d consider them if there were one within a reasonable distance.

The thing is, at this current juncture of my life, and well fuck, at any juncture of my life, I tend to favor convenience and ease of getting my food, and hoping it’s accurate, above all else.  I know there are many who don’t like Chick Fil-A because of the original owning family’s religious anti-gay believing, but goddamn is their app good, and their restaurants loaded with hard-working brainwashed teenagers who get shit done fast, well, and like efficient machines.  So I go there above all else, because they’re reliable to get shit fast and consistent.  Bojangles and Wendy’s are like playing craps, because there’s like a 1/3 chance that the drive-thru line will be not be shitty.

But if this two-story Taco Bell in Minnesota goes gangbusters and inspires all Taco Bells around the country to adopt, that would be a game changer in like two seconds.  As efficient as all the Chick Fil-As are, their Achilles is usually the limitations of the sizes of their lots, and there are often times more cars hogging up space there than can be handled, so even if some of them have adopted app-only lines, if cars can’t get to them, they’re not really any better.

It looks like Taco Bell Defy’s saving grace is the fact that the mobile-only lines have independent entrances, and the most intriguing things are the way that the restaurant is literally built above the pickup area, so people are basically getting their food from a teller tube.  It does sound a little outlandish, but you know it has the capability of working miracles, and this is why that a Defy store is being tested in the first place.

What I’m really getting to is the fact that if Taco Bell Defy restaurants start popping up in other places, I have no doubt in my mind that they would rise up in my rankings if they were anywhere convenient.  As much of a luddite I can be sometimes, if there’s one thing about modern technology that I do love, it’s mobile food ordering, and I very much favor those companies that adopt it in well-functioning, logical and efficient manners.

I’m really rooting for this Defy, to defy the odds of surviving in the food industry, to where this can be somewhat of a standard throughout the world.  It would definitely inspire me to go to Taco Bell more, as long as they didn’t liquify my insides with their squirrel meat too frequently.  And then it would force other competitors to start trying to compete and copy, and hopefully we can embark in a world where more fast food joints are two stories and have mobile-priority lines for us gluttons who need our shit quick and efficiently.

The forced watching of Doctor Strange 2

The worst part about big blockbuster and/or Marvel films is the feeling that if you don’t see it immediately, as in opening night immediately, you will inevitably get spoiled in some capacity within the next 24 hours.  Be it some passing graphic on social media, a news feed analyzing a massive spoiling plot point, or some rando internet friend who thinks they’re way more clever than they actually are and giving away something critical, if you don’t watch the film with some sense of urgency, you will without uncertainty, have something ruined for you.

Ironically, I’m not even really that big of a fan of Doctor Strange.  I wasn’t ever a fan of his in the actual comic books, despite knowing he was something of a big deal considering just how many crossovers he ended up in.  The MCU, as it has demonstrated on numerous occasions, made him somewhat cool and digestible, and I think Benedict Cumberbatch has breathed adequate life into the character. 

The first film, I didn’t even see in a theater and instead watched it on an international flight, since I had 8-13 hours to kill in the air, which wasn’t too bad.  The funny thing is that he’s way more interesting in other characters’ films than his own, but obviously for the sake of moving the entire MCU phase plot along, of course he’s going to get his own film(s) from time to time.

Spider-Man: No Way Home was a no-brainer of a film that had to have been seen with urgency and I’m glad that I did.  And Doctor Strange was pretty good in that film as well as an extremely critical player in the grand spectrum of the plot.  But ultimately, it ended up being more obnoxious and feeling like a sense of inconvenience that I had to put forth the same effort in order to see Doctor Strange 2, even if it seemed like this was going to be a critical film in the overarching MCU phase storyline; it’s still Doctor Strange, a character that I’ve always been kind of ambivalent about, in general.

Regardless, mythical wife and I made a point and made some arrangements to where we were actually able to go out for a night and watch Doctor Strange 2: The Multiverse of Madness.  My general theater experience was tarnished by the shitty quality of service we had and I never got my actual fucking entrée and they had the audacity to try and get me to pay for it, but as far as the film itself went, it wasn’t that bad.

Cumberbatch once again makes Doctor Strange not so much of a square, and injects some actual personality into the character.  And I suppose it’s not too much of a spoiler to say that the film basically ends up becoming the film sequel to WandaVision, seeing as the Scarlet Witch was primarily featured in the post-credit preview of the film after Spider-Man, not to mention Elizabeth Olsen is very predominantly featured on all film advertising.

As predicted, the film does kind of blow open the MCU in general, and between this film, the events from the Loki television series, and a lot of the shit alluded to in No Way Home, it’s almost brain-bending on how Marvel is even going to proceed from here, not to mention they’ve unlocked the ultimate plot devices that effectively allows any and all properties to be retconned and revised at a moment’s notice.

But as a standalone film, I’d say that DS2 is about a 6-7 out of ten.  A lot of crowd-popping cameos and ah-ha moments don’t really mask that the core plot of the film was a little on the weaker side of things, and there’s some pretty big plot holes that are poked open in WandaVision that beg to be asked.  The film effectively acts more like a vehicle to the overarching phase and tends to lose track of the fact that it’s still supposed to be about Doctor Strange, but all in all, I was still entertained and walked out of the theater ready to discuss and try to suppress excessively mansplaining anything that mythical wife might not have been familiar with.

However, back to the original hypothetical, on whether or not Doctor Strange 2 is worthy of being a must-see on an opening day?  I wouldn’t say so.  But solely because of the fact that I didn’t want to be spoiled to any MCU-isms and ah-has, I still felt like I was forced to do so, which makes me feel a little bit resentful of the way social media and the internet has created such a dynamic.  Fuckin’ ruins everything.

Morbius bad film??  How can that be??

Shocker of the century: Morbius starring Jared Leto is not garnering favorable reviews

Who would’ve imagined that??  (Me)  That a film based on Morbius the Living Vampire, a D-class Spider-Man villain would have any modicum of success, especially in a film universe where it will have nothing to do with, Spider-Man?

I mean Jesus Christ, this was about as predictable as the internet exploding over Will Smith slapping Chris Rock at the Oscars.  Anyone who had any inkling of idea of what these properties originated from, or even just followed comic books or movies in general probably knew that Morbius was a terrible idea from the start. 

It was the very definition of scraping the barrel looking for ideas to make into films, and someone over at Sony was probably like, “eh, who’s this Morbius guy?  He’s in Spider-Man, and he’s a vampire!  People like Spider-Man and maybe people are still into shit like Twilight, so let’s green light this!”  But having zero idea that Morbius is a fifth-rate villain and basically was more of a vehicle for Blade to come in than anything else.

Regardless, the project survived the pitch and concepting and actually came into fruition.  And to nobody’s surprise, the reviews are not doing so hot, and are currently at the time I’m writing this, on a historically bad pace, but again, it’s more surprising that gas prices have actually dropped below a leading 4, than finding out that Morbius is garbage.

In the past, I used to makes jokes about how I wouldn’t see this thing even if it were pirated, or I’d watch something pirated and state how I wanted my money back despite seeing it for free.  But with as little time I have these days, it would be a tremendous offense for me to even consider wasting any bit of my precious free time on a turd like Morbius.

But this post still must come to fruition to point out the obvious fact that I called this two years ago when it was announced, but Hollywood most certainly doesn’t let perception, facts or just plain bad ideas stand in their way of their pursuit for a buck here and there.

Just because it’s a Marvel property doesn’t automatically make it a key to the money printer.  And as more and more major properties get gobbled up by the film industry, there are bound to be more and more Morbius-shaped turds to come into existence in the future.  The bar appears to have been re-set by Morbius and it’s anyone’s guess to what the next shitty Marvel installment will be; but at least Jared Leto is off the table for a little while.

I feel as if I’m being disrespected

True to my word, I have begun hitting the gym again, beginning the journey to combat the give-up-on-life body that I have transformed into over the last two years to hopefully get to a point where I can have the less flabby dad bod that I had back in 2020.

The fitness center in my building is fairly bare, with mostly machines, but there are still enough dumbbells and other tertiary equipment available for me to still have adequate workouts and work on getting back in shape, regardless of the fact that I won’t really be able to do the true squats and deadlifts anymore without there being any barbells available.  But it doesn’t cost me anything, towels, shampoo and soaps are all included, which makes is super convenient for me.

The best part about it, though, is that the place is practically deserted.  Whether it’s the pandemic, the hybridized schedules that the company is utilizing or perhaps a combination of both is that there’s hardly anyone in the gym, and in just the few times I’ve been inside it, I’ve had plenty of time in which I’m literally the only one in there, free to workout in solitude.

However, I use phrases like practically and hardly, because in the two workouts that I’ve done to shake the rust off and go through the requisite soreness of exercising for the first time in an eon, despite the general quiet of the fitness center, I’ve still come across other human beings.

The first day, a duder walks in, about a half hour into my own workout.  Our eyes meet, and I give him a nod.  The nod is not reciprocated.  He changes clothing and comes back out and promptly begins his workout on the rower, which I think is very appropriate seeing as how he looks like Donald Trump, Jr. and is about as white.  As I’m changing in the locker room I can hear weights being dropped, confirming the douchebag I thought he was for not returning my nod.  He was also unmasked.

Day two, I enter the gym, and there’s a different guy, limbering up, prior to getting onto the treadmill.  As I begin lifting, he has an even more pitiful adventure on the treadmill than I had just days ago, and I don’t think he even ran more than five minutes, and had to take numerous breaks.  He then proceeds to get on a mat, and do some crunches.  As he heads back to the locker room, our eyes meet and I give him a nod.  The nod is not reciprocated. 

He emerges minutes later, back in work clothes, and the time it took indicates that he also didn’t shower.  This guy is also white as Reindeer Games.  He too was unmasked.

At this point, I’m feeling like I’m being disrespected by these guys that aren’t acknowledging my acknowledgment.  This is the epitome of a first-world problem, but at the same time, I don’t think I’m asking for a corporate bailout or anything, I’m just trying to be polite and acknowledge the respect for other people trying to better themselves through exercise.

It doesn’t happen often, but I’ve got the opportunity to organically relate to Gordon Liu and the entire aesthetic of my brog, because this treatment over the last two days has made me think about the scene in Kill Bill, where David Carradine waxes poetic about Pai Mei, and how he murdered a Shaolin temple solely based on the fact that a monk failed to reciprocate a nod when crossing paths.

Pai Mei…in a practically unfathomable display of generosity,
gave the monk the slightest of nods.

The nod…was not returned.

Now, was it the intention of the Shaolin monk to insult Pai Mei?
Or did he just fail to see the generous social gesture?

The motives of the monk remain unknown.

What is known…were the consequences.

The next morning, Pai Mei appeared at the Shaolin temple…
and demanded of the temple’s head abbot that he offer Pai Mei
his neck to repay the insult.

The abbot, at first, tried to console Pai Mei.

Only to find Pai Mei was…inconsolable.

So began the Massacre of the Shaolin Temple,
and all sixty of the monks inside, at the fists of the White Lotus.

I like to think these two clowns didn’t acknowledge me because they’re racists, or because I was wearing a mask which is still kind of a little racist in a way, but there’s also the possibility that they’re just being territorial pricks and annoyed that their gym is needing to be shared with someone else.  Joke’s on them though, there’s literally nobody more dedicated to going to the gym than I am, and they will be seeing me just about every single office day I have, health and schedules permitting.