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SPORTS - More Ice in Vegas than in the Drinks

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STRIPLVSPORTS

MORE ICE IN VEGAS THAN IN THE DRINKS
By Jeff Alexander

I don’t know shit about hockey! Well, that’s not quite true. I know a few things, based on the few times I’ve seen it on TV. The game is played on an ice “rink” that is kept smooth in between “periods” by a machine called a “Zamboni.” The players wear heavy protection and slap a “puck” around the ice until one of them slams it past a “goalie” into the “net” or “goal.” The puck is made of plastic so hard that most players have very few teeth as a result of having been hit in the mouth by a puck flying off a “hockey stick” at 100-200 mph. They skate on razor sharp blades that can cut and maim. They bang each other into the clear plastic walls that encircle the rink, and players are allowed to go at each other much like boxers when a particularly hard “check” occurs. I know the games are low-scoring, since it takes incredible skill to slap that puck past a goalie guarding the net. I know that hockey players’ wrists are so strong from the years of swinging their hockey sticks, that they usually can hit a golf ball a country mile. Remember Adam Sandler in that golf movie, Happy Gilmore? He slapped that golf ball to kingdom come!!

I do know it’s a game that requires great athleticism, hard work and determined dedication. The excitement of fans attending a hockey game is exhilarating, electric, loud, and almost unparalleled in any other sport; all this in a really cold arena. But probably not as cold as the freezing winter areas of the world where this sport was first played on outdoor rinks.  

And now hockey has arrived in Las Vegas! The as yet unnamed team will compete in the Pacific Division of the Western Conference of the NHL against Anaheim, Arizona, Calgary, Edmonton, Los Angeles, San Jose and Vancouver. Of course, if Las Vegas gets into the playoffs, they will also get to see games against great Eastern teams like the Detroit Red Wings! The Vegas team plans to be competing by the October 2017 season.

Many, many people thought it couldn’t be done. That is, a major sport franchise in Las Vegas. But thanks to the passion and love of sports of two icons, Bill Foley (the billionaire visionary) and the Maloofs (well-known casino and basketball team owners), the dream has become a reality. The rabid Las Vegas sports fans will soon have their own major league team to root for, idolize, and die for. The season hasn’t even begun and fans are talking NFL next. Let’s hope our team gets to the playoffs, long before hell freezes over—‘cause if hell ever freezes over, we all better know how to skate!

Hockey Vision Las Vegas – Bill Foley and the Maloof family are the driving forces, behind the Hockey Vision Las Vegas, LLC., and bringing a NHL hockey team to this city. 

Foley – Bill Foley is the billionaire behind the Las Vegas bid. He spent his elementary school years living in Ottawa, Canada. He grew to love hockey, and his passion led him to bring the first-ever NHL hockey team to Las Vegas.  

Maloofs – The Maloof family’s passion for sports ended up with professional sports ownership of the NBA’s Houston Rockets and Sacramento Kings, including hockey.  

GM – Washington Capitals’ General Manager, George McPhee, has been named the Las Vegas team’s GM. McPhee is known for drafting one of the game’s elite players, Alex Ovechkin, to the Caps, which helped the team reach the 1998 Stanley Cup Finals.

$500 million – the cost of the Las Vegas franchise, purchased by Foley.

$4 million – the amount of merchandising revenue Foley expects to make year one.

$75 million – maximum spent per year on players’ salaries (23 players per team).  

$20 million – the cost of the team’s practice facility to be built by Foley near Downtown Summerlin, which will include a locker room, coaches’ offices, and rehab center.

Season – runs from October to April and includes 82 games.  

Team Name – Black Knights, Neon Knights, Mob, Outlaws, have all been thrown around. Foley may announce it at the T-Mobile Arena party for season-ticket holders.

Coach – not to be hired until spring.

Draft – begins June 2017.

Stadium – Games will be played at the T-Mobile arena, which has a seating capacity of 17,500 for hockey and has 44 luxury suites.

Season Tickets – 15,000 of the 17,500 seats already have season-ticket deposits. Some seats are being saved for single-game buys at an estimated cost of $20-$220.

17 years – since the NHL has added a franchise.

Winning Goal – Foley’s incredible goal: to have the Vegas team make the playoffs in the next three years and then to go on and win the Stanley Cup within eight years. 

Hockey Culture - Vegas hasn’t been a hockey city, but Foley’s positive vision includes having youth leagues and educating a younger generation about the sport.

HELL OR HIGH WATER Movie Review by The Commander

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HELL OR HIGH WATER
CommanderAvatar-mosaic
BY THE COMMANDER
3-1/2 (out of 4-stars)

If you loved the movie, No Country for Old Men (2007), then you are going to be pleased to see this movie.  Director David Mackenzie (Starred Up) brings us a great dramatic piece examining the actual lives of individuals caught up in today's financial meltdown.  The powerful screenplay is penned byTaylor Sheridan, who also stars in the film, and who’s known for writing Sicario, and starring in White Rush and Sons of Anarchy.  If you’re a fan of the TV series, you know what to expect:  a very powerful drama.  In West Texas, two brothers (a divorced dad and an ex-con) resort to a desperate scheme in order to save their family farm from a bank foreclosure.

Midland State Bank was a leading lender of mortgages and reversed mortgages in areas such as Lubbock and Midland Texas.  While they would squeeze their customers for fees, they cared little about their livelihoods. Caught up in this meltdown, the brothers decide to become Robin Hoods who steal from the bank (in small amounts) in order to pay off the bank.  Their antics come to the attention of Sheriff Marcus (Jeff Bridges) whose goal is to stop them in their tracks.  After a long game of "cat and mouse," Marcus faces off with the brothers for an unlikely ending.

 

Jeff Bridges delivers a great performance as an old retiring sheriff on his last case, and Chris Pine, as the divorced brother struggling to make things right. Ben Bishop is fabulous portraying the out of control ex-con brother, who’s a comedic, psychotic, and terrifying individual.  Not someone you want to meet in a dark alley.

While this film is slow moving, its intensity never lets go of your attention.  I highly advise seeing this movie.  While it may not be for millennials, the intelligence level of this film makes you remember why you want to go to the movies.

FLORENCE FOSTER JENKINS Movie Review by The Commander

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FLORENCE FOSTER JENKINS
CommanderAvatar-mosaic
BY THE COMMANDER
2 (out of 4 stars)

Meryl Streep is one of my favorite actresses and has been cast in every type of character possible within a movie.  She has performed wonderfully as evidenced by her numerous Academy Awards and nominations.  Florence Foster Jenkins is yet another one of these iconic rolls.

The movie takes place in the 1940’s during World War II.  A war rages in Europe and the economy is suffering throughout the U.S.  Especially hard-hit are the arts, theater, music, Broadway stage, and Carnegie Hall, to name a few.

Florence is an heiress in New York who owns a music club and lives for music.  She aspires to become an opera star, despite her inability to sing.  She still has money during the depressed times and is called upon constantly to be the benefactor for the arts, specifically music.

She runs a social group that performs operatic music at a small concert hall.  She is married to St. Clair Bayfield (Hugh Grant), her estranged husband, (they live separately, due to her contracting syphilis from her first husband) and meets daily with her ladies for lunch, in their flowing gowns and hats, as if they were going to the Kentucky Derby.

Florence often sings at her social functions to the dismay of her friends, but since she is the matriarch who’s financial backing keeps the doors open, they endure her tone-deaf singing. 

Next, Florence decides that due to her fabulous performance, she wants to elevate her stature by performing in front of a large audience at Carnegie Hall.  Florence hires the great singing coach Carlo Edwards (David Haig) and a young pianist, Cosme’ McMoon (Simon Helberg), whom shall sharpen her talents, to no avail.

To announce her upcoming performance, Florence decides to cut a record as a gift and distribute them along with the tickets to the social club members she has invited, though her husband tries valiantly to stop.  Much to her husband's dismay, one record gets sent to a radio station, which is played over and over again.  The singing is so bad that it becomes a big comedy hit with soldiers overseas.  Her husband tries to keep prying eyes of the legitimate media from attending the concert and paying for favorable reviews, but is not successful.  There’s a major turnabout in the actual recording, but I guess you’ll just have to see the movie to find out what happens.

This film is not fiction.  It is a real story about Florence Foster Jenkins.  Unfortunately, it's very slow and not very entertaining.  It would've been much better off as a documentary instead of a fictional featured film.  I don't see today's audiences flocking to theaters to see this movie, but it would gather a larger audience if it were a documentary on TV, PBS, etc.

It's a fascinating story, but it just doesn't play up well on the big screen.  However, Meryl Streep delivers another Oscar-worthy performance and will probably end up getting another nomination.

ANTHROPOID Movie Review by The Commander

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ANTHROPOID
CommanderAvatar-mosaic
BY THE COMMANDER
3-1/2 (out of 4 stars)

As Adolph Hitler continues his storm trooper march to occupy Europe, it is not without resistance.  In December 1941, two agents from the Czechoslovakia government in exile, parachute into their occupied homeland.  Their mission, dubbed Anthropoid, (a term resembling a human being in form), was to assassinate Reinhard Heydrich, the third man in charge of the Nazi regime, directly behind Hitler and Himmler, and the man who was considered the main architect behind the final solution (extermination of all the Jews in Europe).

This is one of the best films I have seen all year.  While slow and methodical with a quick pace towards the end, it is a sensational espionage thriller that should not be missed.

Cillian Murphy (Joseph Gabcik) and Jamie Dornan and (Jan Kubis) are the two Czech Republic assassins, whose job it is to parachute into occupied territory, hook up with their intelligence counterpart, Uncle Hajsky (Toby Jones), and assassinate Hendrick.  They assimilate into society sharing an apartment with a local family and fall in love with their female companions, Marie Kovarnikova (Charlotte Le Bon) and Lenka Fafkova (Anna Geislerova)

On May 27, 1942, their attack is carried out, but does not go as planned.  The Germans have an all-out manhunt for the would-be assassins and start executing the population as retaliation for the attack.  This was an incredibly powerful and moving film, showing the Nazi regime in its full brutality.  The depictions of war torn Czechoslovakia are as real as it gets.  I found myself watching in horror and holding my breath during many of the scenes.  It was truly a frightening era in our history.


While this film may not be for everyone, it is an important and significant film to watch.  Unlike the World War II movies from the 1950's, this modern day film depicts an era with incredible detail.  If you were moved by the films, Schindler's List (1993) and 
Valkyrie (2008), you will love and appreciate this film.

KUBO AND THE TWO STRINGS Movie Review by The Commander

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KUBO and the TWO STRINGS
CommanderAvatar-mosaic
 
BY THE COMMANDER
3-1/2 (out of 4 stars)
 

There's a short documentary by director Travis Knight prior to the screening of the film Kubo and the Two Strings.  It covers the method of animation filming known as Stop Motion photography, which he states: "…has this sort of weird magical charm and energy that reminds us what it was like when we were kids."

 

That one sentence is a wonderful explanation of the movie.  It is a tale, where in ancient Japan, a young boy named Kubo (Art Parkinson), cares for his sick mother in a village, earning a living by telling stories to the town folk with the use of his shamisen (a three-string Japanese lute).  The instrument causes paper to fly around folding itself into origami forms.  He starts each story with the phrase:  “If you must blink, do it now!”  His mother states:  “Always be home before dark.”  One day, he arrives late and a spirit turns Kubo’s life upside down, creating havoc.  In order to survive, Kubo must search for a magical suit once worn by his father, accompanied by his mystical friends, a paper Samurai Soldier, a beetle (Matthew McConaughey), and a monkey (Charlize Theron), in order to defeat a vengeful spirit.

 

Understanding the intense labor required for stop motion photography, I was absolutely blown away by the quality of this film.  The countless number of hours it must've taken to generate all of the models, props, scenes, frame by frame, was just mesmerizing to watch.  Unlike CGI, every object in the camera’s frame was manipulated millimeter by millimeter and shot in sequence, in order to achieve fluid motion to the film.  The work is precise.  It requires a computer-controlled camera in order to capture every detail for this amazing story.

 

While the story is simple, it has a deep philosophical meaning at its core.  Kubo’s shamisen has three strings.  So what are the two strings, you ask?  Well hopefully by the end of the movie you'll have figured it out for yourself.

 

I recommend this movie to everyone—especially children of all ages.  It is heartwarming, emotional, and should bring tears to your eyes.  Don't miss it, as it may well end up being selected best animated film at this year's Academy Awards.  I’d give it my vote.

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