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Posts tagged “Royals

An Open Letter to Cubs Fans

Dear Cubbies Fans,

So that was pretty exciting, huh?! Congratulations on seeing a century of loyalty and enthusiasm finally pay off. This was a really fun team to watch, and you all should be very proud of them, your season and your fans!

Before last year, I was a Kansas City girl who was just a toddler the last time the Royals took the World Series championship in 1985. The unthinkable happened in 2014 when we seemingly fluked our way through the playoffs and into the Fall Classic. We found ourselves inexplicably evenly matched with the Giants and our young team fought hard through game 7.

Do you remember how you felt last night in the bottom of the 5th when Hendricks was pulled out in favor of Lester and things got a little scary? Or worse, when Lester was pulled in favor of Chapman and the game tied and things got a lot scary? That gut-wrenching feeling of having victory so very close only to have it snatched away… that’s how Royals fans felt when we lost game 7 in 2014.

I’m so glad that feeling was fleeting for you. By forcing extra innings (and apparently having a “come to Jesus” moment of pulling themselves back together during the rain delay), your boys got the job done! The thrill of that moment simply can’t be matched.

The Royals came back in 2015 to settle unfinished business and hammered the final nail into the Mets’ coffin in game 5 of the series. Your own Ben Zobrist was our own Ben Zobrist then; it’s like the guy is good luck or something. Now I know 30 years is a far cry from 108, but the overwhelming elation we felt was like yours. So having been there fairly recently, I have a little advice for you…

• Accept that bleary eyes and pinch marks are part of your existence for the next week or so. Whether from physical and mental exhaustion or sheer bliss, you’ll probably have shed some tears and lost some sleep. That beautiful, delusional state will make you wonder if this is real life. It is!

• Realize that the crash is inevitable and it will burn a little. Adequate rest is essential to the next 24-48 hours of celebration. Power naps will help tame the cranky little bear inside of you. And for Pete’s sake, eat a Snickers or something.

• Learn to be okay with wearing the same thing as everyone else. You’re all rocking virtually identical WS gear right now, own it. Odds are you’ll be standing in line at the supermarket behind someone sporting the exact same shirt at least a dozen times over the next year.

• Finally, enjoy every single moment of this. Take pictures of parades and parties, but get out from behind the screen or viewfinder and capture mental images too. The sense of community and pride amongst your fellow fans is intoxicating; drink it in.

The Cubs might roar next season for back-to-back appearances (maybe even against the Royals), or they might decide to hibernate a little sometime next summer and blame it on a shortened off-season. You never know when you’ll see your boys in the World Series again, so savor it!

Congrats, Cubbies! Thanks for letting us celebrate history with you. Oh, and somebody hug Bob Newhart for me if you see him around town!


Royal Surprise

Good day, fellow web-surfing henchpersons! I’m sure you’ve been quivering with anticipation for my reappearance here. Would’ve posted sooner but life has been strange and busy of late.

First topic of business—a smattering of updates from Howdy, Strangers!. My MacBook is back up and running with a new hard drive. Even so, I’ve grown somewhat accustomed to my new ‘weaned’ state so I’m not online quite as frequently as before The Great Hard-Drive Crash of 2014. As such I have managed to edit only about 1/3 of my September vacation photos.

Vampire Kitty, aka Storm, continues to face a health crisis. She refuses to eat and, as I type this, is at the veterinarian’s office for colon troubles and extraction of a (likely) cancerous tumor on her leg. Prayers and good vibes are still very much appreciated.

But something else has been keeping me preoccupied. Something wondrous and rare and magical. Something so remarkable that I wouldn’t have believed you even a month ago had you told me it would come to fruition… My Kansas City Royals are playing post-season baseball!

Every time I think it’s safe to go back to enjoying unplanned evenings, they win again and add more games. The end is near, of course, but the excitement can’t be denied. Even with the Giants leading the World Series 3 games to 2, we are thrilled to cheer on our boys in blue.

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If you’re watching the World Series on Fox, you’ve probably seen some commercials for the MasterCard Priceless Surprises campaign with Apple Pay. If you’ve seen said commercials, you’ve probably seen me and Severus! That’s right, we’re on national TV with big, cheesy smiles—in not just one ad but TWO.

We’re the giddy fans holding tickets at the 13-second mark here: http://www.ispot.tv/ad/7u1n/mastercard-priceless-surprises-george-brett

And the ones holding up the framed jersey in this one: http://www.ispot.tv/ad/7uBq/mastercard-2014-world-series-feat-george-brett

“So how did this all happen?” you ask. Well, let me tell you.

During the ALCS clincher game, MasterCard promoted a tweet (on Twitter) soliciting #PricelessBaseball memories. I replied with “Waiting 29 years to see your team play October postseason #PricelessBaseball” and before long got a direct message about having won a $25 gift card. Great surprise!

And then the phone calls started.

I assumed the good people at MC saw that I hadn’t carried a balance in years and wanted me to transfer one to my account or upgrade services. Eventually, though, I answered and found that it was much, much more interesting.

After answering some routine questions confirming my information, the conversation went something like this:

“Do you have an iPhone 6?”
<strange question> “Yeah, actually, I do.”
“Great! Then I have even more surprises for you. Are you available to attend an event at Kauffman Stadium on Monday, October 20?”
“Well, I have a couple of meetings that day; do you know what time?”
“We don’t have those details yet. This is a once-in-a-lifetime event, and I’d hate for you to miss it.”<at this point the gears in my head start cranking to think of ways I can have coworkers cover my meetings>
“Sign me up.”

I received an email attachment of waivers and forms that I had to return before learning any event details. Either I agreed not to talk to the media or I signed my life away; it was all very hush-hush.

And so we arrived at the K around 11:30 Monday morning to face our destiny…which included a dozen or so more waivers and forms, including what might or might not have been an application for the Screen Actors Guild. That was explained away by the fact that it was media day at the stadium and we “might end up in the background of somebody’s video.” For the record, we did actually end up in some news footage on our local ABC affiliate.

Once the formalities were done, our group of 30 or so was escorted to a suite for lunch with a view of the ballpark and a crash-course in downloading the latest iOS to use Apple Pay. Yep, it was Apple Pay launch day.

We were surprised by a visit from Royals veteran all-star Willie Wilson. His engagement with our group was unwavering, his storytelling wholly entertaining. The experience—just the beginning.

Next we joined dozens of photographers and media correspondents down on the field for batting practice. We stood literally on the warning track behind home plate and watched the Royals warm up. Several of the players acknowledged us, though we weren’t really able to interact with them.

After BP, we toured the Royals Hall of Fame. This is open to the public, and I highly recommend a visit if you find yourself in the Kansas City area.

From there we were split into a couple of groups; our gang headed for the concession stands to experience Apple Pay firsthand. I will be completely honest and admit that my initial thoughts on said payment method were almost unanimously negative. Paying with nothing more than your cell phone and fingerprint seemed like a really terrible idea. Until I tried it.

You guys, it’s cool!! Like, ‘I want to only shop at places that have the technology in place because it’s a really satisfying experience’ cool.

It was then that we definitively learned they were filming a MasterCard Apple Pay commercial. There were extras, wardrobe racks, lights and cameramen galore. Severus and I were asked to approach the register and order something, paying with Apple Pay. So we did (while trying not to appear as nervous as we felt) only to have the  cashier step aside to have a MasterCard representative hand us tickets to World Series Game 1!!!!! What you see in the first commercial is our genuinely thrilled reaction in that moment.

Just after that, we were treated to a little meet-and-greet with Royals legend George Brett. That time was a little rushed, but it was unforgettable.

Finally, we filmed another Priceless Surprises promotional clip with a signed George Brett jersey (which made it into the second commercial). While we didn’t get to keep the jersey, we will hold onto the memories forever.

More pictures posted over on my gallery page (link).

GO ROYALS!!!


Miley vs. the Mayor

Living in the Kansas City area isn’t always the epitome of cool…I know you are all shocked by this revelation. Think about your own mental image of KC, or even Missouri/Kansas in general.

We’re mostly known for our barbeque, which is amazing. Truly, deeply a-maz-ing.
Many are familiar with our professional sports teams that tend not to win championships (Sporting KC notwithstanding), though the MLB Royals do have a current chart-topper as a sort of anthem.
We’ve been somewhat infamous recently thanks to a nutjob who decided it would be fun to shoot at other cars on the highway—a suspect was just apprehended yesterday.
We can’t boast breathtaking natural surroundings or the best-maintained infrastructure. And if we’re being honest, middle-of-the-map folks aren’t traditionally known to be the trendiest, though there are some very hip and stylish people if you know where to look (I’m not one of them).

There is one surprisingly cool thing, however, that Kansas City can claim… its mayor.

I’m a professional commuter—I don’t live in this municipality or even this county—so my vote did not help elect Mayor Sly James. In fact, there’s a good chance I wouldn’t have voted for him even if I were in the voting district. That doesn’t change the fact that he’s a pretty rockin’ guy.

Exhibit A: He frequently sports a bow tie. james

Exhibit B: His ‘state of the city’ address last year was interrupted by a very angry dude. His unflappable response, “Well, that was unfortunate.”

Exhibit C: Miley Cyrus. Ms. Cyrus is making an extended stop at one of the hospitals here after an apparent allergic reaction to antibiotics on Tuesday. But what does Miley have to do with Mayor James?

Sly conducted an (unrelated) interview on a local radio morning show today. At the conclusion, one of the hosts asked if Miley was really sick.

Without skipping a beat, Sly replied “You mean physically?”

My respect = earned.

**UPDATE: Mayor James is now following me on Twitter. You should, too!**

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Man of Steel—Revisited

After a second screening for Man of Steel last night, I wanted to supplement my original review.

This time around, I got to see the film in 3D. While there aren’t any eye-popping effects (it was post-converted, not filmed in 3D), the overall quality did seem significantly better. I’m not sure if I should attribute this more to the format or the venue, as our second viewing was at Alamo Drafthouse in Kansas City. In spite of the dine-in theater distractions, Alamo provided a much more immersive experience than AMC’s 2D presentation. If you value a movie with booming sound that is effective rather than just loud—and you’re near one of the few locations—I highly suggest you make Alamo Drafthouse Cinema your theater of choice. Bonus: the modified 3D format also alleviated much of the dreaded lens flare.

The combined presentation and my somewhat dulled expectations made the second viewing an absolute joy!
I stand by my original criticisms but feel this flick deserves a more positive spin than what I offered. It leaves a better aftertaste than the bitterness that I first implied.

I remain disappointed by the opening Krypton scenes, though I wasn’t nearly as perturbed this time around. My biggest complaint is that it just reminds me too much of a Star Wars prequel. And I’m a Star Wars girl, so you’d think that would be a good thing but it really isn’t so much.

I also maintain that the flashbacks are somewhat disjointed, though they aren’t terribly detrimental to the overall pace or storyline. This is due in large part to the strong performances by Costner, Lane and Cavill (and the brilliant young actors who represented his early years). For a film about a man who can fly, this is solidly grounded with a big, big heart. And again, our midwest audience was giddy over the Royals and KU references—that in itself is pretty darn cool and worth the price of admission in these parts. And in case I didn’t mention it before, Henry Cavill is absolutely 100% without-a-doubt perfectly cast.

A second chance for Amy Adams yields no more likability than my first impression, though I found Michael Shannon’s General Zod and Russell Crowe’s Jor-El more compelling. I can also report that after a few days mulling over the Zimmer score, I don’t hate it. Still feels an awful lot like that of Inception, and I would have loved even the slightest nod to the original theme, but it grows on you.

I may have been too quick to pit Man of Steel against the cinema-giants of Marvel. They’re very different animals, really. Though DC and Warner Brothers lost ground over the last twenty or so years with their failed recasting and attempted reboots of both Superman and Batman franchises (and we won’t even discuss Catwoman), they’re fighting their way back into the game. These are particularly timeless characters that need the right stories and the right actors—in many respects, Man of Steel answers the call almost as well as did the Dark Knight saga. Almost.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I can’t guarantee that you’ll enjoy the film, but I certainly did. Even more so the second time around, in fact, so I’m already planning to see it at least once more!


Man of Steel

I’m happy to report that I made it to the Man of Steel screening last night along with about 420 other lemmings. I’ll do my best not to ruin anything here, but I read a lot of geeky websites so I’m not sure what qualifies as a spoiler anymore.

The film opens with an excessively lengthy scene on the planet Krypton. First we see Lara-El giving birth to a son as her husband, Jor-El, frets over the future of Krypton. I’m not sure why anyone thinks the birthing process needs to be dramatized and documented on film. Ever. In this case, seeing the natural birth is central to a plot point, but still.

It’s here that we first glimpse Kryptonian technology, specifically a sort of communication device that works by displaying images not unlike the impression from your hand or face in one of those boxes that’s full
of pins (“pin art”). Except in this case, the box of pins looks more like a soot-covered lacrosse head filled with pulsating caviar. We also learn that Kryptonians utilize flying creatures reminiscent of meatier Can-cells from the Star Wars prequels.

After baby Kal-El is born, Jor-El gets into some heated political debates and we’re introduced to General Zod. Jor-El and Lara make haste in getting their baby boy off the god-forsaken planet. But not so fast! Zod isn’t about to let that happen without a struggle. Said struggle ensues then he’s exiled and Kal-El is sent on his merry way.

In an awkward turn, we’re ushered ahead some thirty years where we encounter a young man demonstrating superhuman strength by rescuing workers on an exploding oil rig. Said young man escapes unharmed and moves on to work as a bartender (or maybe a bus boy?) in a lumber town before moving on to an ice field where the government is investigating something buried in the ice.

During our time with this young man, we learn through flashbacks that he is Clark Kent from Smallville, KS. You’re shocked, I know. I’ll wait while you regain composure from this astonishing disclosure. Okay, ready?

The memories of Clark’s formative years are where the film finally finds its footing. Martha and Jon Kent (Lane and Costner, respectively) beautifully demonstrate the burden and range of emotions one might expect from a couple raising a child who’s altogether extraordinary…and not biologically theirs or even from their planet.
You’ve probably seen in the trailers that Clark intervenes in a school bus accident, earning the seeming disapproval of his earthly dad and making Kevin Costner look like a big jerk. Yeah, that happens, but there’s a slew of other factors that tie it all together masterfully. You’re left with a strong sense of both sadness and wonderment. So, so many feels!

Aaaannd then you’re whisked back to the ice fields of the present. Amy Adams shows up as Lois Lane, which is essential to the story but a little yawn-inducing. Don’t get me wrong, I like Adams, but she’s the same plucky girl in every role; Julie & Julia, The Muppets, Leap Year, Enchanted, all the same. Is she an improvement over Margot Kidder or Kate Bosworth? Pshhh. Does Superman wear a red cape?

Also, Gaeta from Battlestar Galactica is in on the military operation looking at computer screens and analyzing data…sounds about right. The guy from Law & Order: SVU is there, too. It’s a veritable who’s who of television folks working for the military/government in this flick.

Anyway, Lois figures out that Clark has special abilities at essentially the same time he discovers why he has them. This seemed like a premature plot development initially but ended up making sense. General Zod resurfaces, bent on destroying Kal-El and Earth, as does Jor-El; I think Russell Crowe must have been contracted for a certain amount of screen time. The remainder is a lot of fast-paced action with relatively little furthering of the story. And not much more that I can say without being one of the spoiler-y types.

Graphics and effects are crisp and engaging, easily better than some other superhero romps, though not overly spectacular. Our screening wasn’t in 3D, but I do think it might lend itself to the format.
I was surprised by the copious amount of J.J. Abrams influence (lens flare) and pleased with the couple of same-universe references I noticed (a nod to Mr. Luthor, among them). Disappointingly, I detected no hint of the original John Williams Superman fanfare woven in for nostalgia’s sake. Just a lot of dissonant power chords that sound like they’re lifted directly from the Inception soundtrack. Thanks for rehashing that, Hans Zimmer.

Overall, this is a good film but not an altogether outstanding one. The flashback technique makes for a somewhat disjointed experience that is quickly forgiven when the focus rests squarely on Clark Kent. His struggle, adjustment and eventual acquiescence are gripping and perfectly played by Henry Cavill. I firmly believe that he is superb and will easily carry this franchise to new heights.

Now having said that, it’s impossible to ignore the massive hurdles that lie ahead. Man of Steel stands head and shoulders above 2006’s Superman Returns, but it isn’t quite the epic that Christopher Nolan fanboys had hoped. I doubt that it will do for Superman what the Dark Knight trilogy did for Batman, though Superman’s track record is better proven over time.
Moreover, the Marvel stronghold shows no signs of weakening, particularly with the next wave of films fast approaching. I’ve never seen so many people stay until the very last of the credits rolled across the screen, all hoping for an Avengers-esque nod to the next film (don’t bother waiting around).

This, I’m afraid, is not the DC Comics franchise savior that it so desperately wants—and blatantly claims—to be. Indeed, the messiah references get a little heavy-handed at times. There’s a church scene where Clark is framed by stained-glass images of Jesus. His age, 33, is mentioned on more than one occasion. He takes the not-so-subtle crucifixion stance when committing himself to the task of protecting earth. Oh, and he rose to greatness from humble beginnings on a farm in Kansas, which hearkens to Jesus’ upbringing in Nazareth (“Can anything good come from there?”).

And speaking of Kansas, producers did a great job of tying in regional references. For instance, Clark sports a Royals t-shirt and watches a KU football game…though a basketball game would have better represented Jayhawk nation. Regardless, as a midwesterner born in the Sunflower State, it made me pretty dang proud. Of course, it was filmed in Illinois but whatever.

In sum, I will not be so bold as to guarantee you will like it but I certainly did.