Review: Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull

On our way to the theater to see Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, Erica mentioned that she had recently seen Harrison Ford on a talk show. When asked about the plot, Ford just laughed. It was an appropriate response, but don’t be worried that this movie tarnished the original trilogy, something that George Lucas was accused of doing to another trilogy he created. Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull is delightful romp that has fun with itself and does not try to go too deep. Granted, the Indy series never did aspire to be much more than a fun trip to the movies and neither does this one.

In the first reel of the film, Indy finds himself and a long-time British colleague named Mac (Ray Winstone), kidnapped by Soviets in 1957 Nevada; Area 51 is implied. Led by Col. Irina Spalko (Cate Blanchett), one of Stalin’s favorite scientists and someone obsessed with mind control, the Soviets force Indy to find what they are looking for — a box with Roswell, N.M. marked on it. Indy finds it and then manages to escape not just the Soviets but Mac , who has defected. An even more implausible, but creepy and funny at the time same time, escape follows.

Indy finds himself in hot water with the government following his actions in Nevada and loses his job as professor of Archeology at a college that looks suspiciously like Yale (except for the women in the classroom). On his way out of town, a young motorcyclist, Mutt Williams (Shia LaBeouf), catches up with Indy with news that a former colleague, Ox, is in trouble in Peru. The KGB catches up to both of them, sending them on a motorcycle chase through New Haven and campus. Indy changes his plans to head to England and joins Mutt on a trip to South America.

Indy and Mutt find their way to Peru where Indy is reunited with Ox (John Hurt) who went gone crazy after acquiring the crystal skull and an old flame, Marion Ravenwood, again played by Karen Allen and Mac, who reveals himself to be a double agent a joins the group on the quest to return the crystal skull. Indy and Marion spar with each other upon sight — just like old times.

The middle portion of the movie is generally a series chases through the jungle that include the typical humor, choreography, stuntwork and grossouts of the Indy series. It is great fun and if if the best log flume ride of all time is not developed out of one of the scenes I will be surely disappointed.

After surviving the chase, Indy, Marion, Mutt, Ox, and Mac find their way into the cave only to be followed by the Soviets. There is a convoluted climax that seems logical by the standards of the previous films with similar results. The end ties everything in a little bow and seemingly ends the series for good.

Overall, the movie is a lot of fun, though the beginning is a little uneven as it seems we are being beaten over the head by the fact Indy is old and that the movie takes place in 1957. I also got the feeling that Lucas and director Steven Spielberg enjoyed making LaBeouf look stupid though they might have just been playing “old guys still have it” card; it worked. Ford acts the way he always acts, Allen is delightful and LaBeouf gets the job done. Blanchett was silly in her awful Katie Holmes haircut and Natasha from Rocky & Bullwinkle accent. Hurt’s Ox was not much of a part Winstone is fine as the duplicitous Mac. I also enjoyed one particular line that was uttered not long before the climax and the use of the Wilhlem scream.

The movie should satisfy (and probably already has) all but the most uptight, miserable fanboys. I don’t think I will see it again in the theater, but on DVD it would be a lot of fun.

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R.I.P. J.R. Simplot

J. R. Simplot, Farmer Who Developed First Frozen French Fries, Dies at 99The Times

J. R. Simplot, a billionaire who grew up in a sod-roofed log cabin and dropped out of school at 14, then marshaled luck, spunk and inventiveness to fashion an entrepreneurial career that included developing the first commercial frozen French fry, died on Sunday at his home in Boise, Idaho. He was 99.

I paid tribute this American hero last night with some tasty Ore Idas. If he only knew how much I appreciate his innovations.

A tribute to J.R. Simplot
Rest in peace Mr. Spud

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Padres win on 3 run homer

SAN DIEGO 5 Washington 2 (ESPN Boxscore)

With Manning, Game Is Going, Going, GoneThe Post
Homers deadly to Nats’ rookieThe Wash. Times
Gerut HR something to cheer forSan Diego Union-Tribune
John Lannan pitched six innings and gave up two runs, a solid outing. The Nats offense manufactured two runs with aggressive baserunning, but otherwise wasted opportunities at the plate. Ryan Langerhans robbed Kevin Kouzmanoff of a home run in the 8th, but Saúl Rivera put two other runners on and Charlie Manning gave up the Jody Gerut homer that sent them back to the dugout via the plate. Rivera gets the loss, but Manning is the goat, for the second time in the three days. Manning, a 29 year-old rookie, also gave up a game winning homer on Tuesday.

Ayala Shows Durability, ResilienceThe Post
RHP Luis Ayala leads the majors in appearances with 31, two years after hving Tommy John surgery.

Langerhans catches break in San DiegoThe Wash. Times
Langerhans got his first hit of his MLB season yesterday with a RBI single in the 7th that tied the game. That was followed by the aforementioned Kouzmanoff robbery at the 357 sign in left centerfield.

The Nationals have never won a series at Petco Park. Don Sutton is still day-to-day with laryngitis. Chad Cordero and Paul Lo Duca joined Johnny Holiday in the booth. I don’t know when Bob Carpenter will be back, but tonight is a good bet. He had taken some time off for his daughter’s high school graduation. Ryan Zimmerman could be back tonight as the Nats face the Diamondbacks in Arizona.

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Badges? Badges? We need stinkin’ beach badge?!

Life, death . . . and beach badgesAPP
I just can’t get worked up about beach badges. Perhaps that is because I just accept them, not having known another way, but it strikes me as a preferable way to support lifeguards, waste management, etc. than using taxes. Badges are a user fee that only impacts those who choose to use the beach and not regular taxpayers.

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Flores slams Padres; Zimmerman still out

Washington 6 SAN DIEGO 4 (ESPN Boxscore)

Flores Helps Nationals Slam Down a VictoryThe Post
Perez brings the pain to PadresThe Wash. Times
Padres yet to win three in a rowSan Diego Union Tribune
C Jesus Flores hit a grand slam in the fourth to put the Nats ahead. CF Lastings Milledge hit a solo homer too. Aaron Boone had a sacrifice RBI to complete the scoring.

Odalis Perez pitched after an emergency root canal in the morning. He didn’t have his best stuff, but somehow got through 6 1/3 with 3 ER. It was only his second win of the year, but his pitching has been much better than his record indicates.

Zimmerman Continues to Wait and SeeThe Post
So, am I the only one who can’t help but be worried that 3B Ryan Zimmerman is still out with a sore shoulder?

I didn’t think so.

Reliable relief help is hard to come bythe Wash. Times
The bullpen, expected to be the team’s strength this year, has struggled outside of Jon Rauch, Luis Ayala and Saul Rivera. Losing Chad Cordero has hurt this team more than may be appear apparent as depth is an issue now.

Taking Them Out to the BallgameThe Post
The Nats are reaching out to black and Latino youth.

Nats fall into slump on field, in revenueThe Wash. Examiner
This just in — David Catania (I, At Large) is still obnoxious and wrong. Despite the lower than expected attendance (overpriced tickets!), the ballpark is still going to generate $20 million more than needed to pay off this year’s bonds.

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Blue White Roundtable: Three months until football

Blue White Roundtable makes a early summer appearance with questions from The Big Eleventh.

Of the PSU players who went undrafted but were picked up by NFL teams, which one has the best chance of actually seeing playing time in The League?

Austin Scott (Cleveland) I guess, I doubt Anthony Morelli (Arizona) can even be a holder. Has Rodney Kinlaw signed anywhere yet?

My office recently installed those vending machines that keep the coil spinning when your selection gets snagged by the oversized potato chips in the next slot over, usually resulting in two treats for the price of one. This has improved my occasional afternoon snacking 250%.

What football technological improvement has most increased your afternoon football enjoyment the most in, say, the last five years?

Improvements to highways on the way to Happy Valley have most increased your afternoon football. As for the actual game, technology — if you can call the Big11Ten Network and Guido D’Elia’s sound system that — have lessened my football enjoyment. The first down line on TV is helpful, but that is about ten years old.

List the top 5 Penn State games, in order of intrigue, that you would like to attend. For bonus points, include an away game.

1) Oregon State — A potentially competitive intersectional game with an opponent from a name conference rarely happens anymore, so this would be a good one.
2) Syracuse — old rival not too hard to get to with a likely layover with family/friends somewhere in Pennsylvania. This would be #1 if they actually played outside, on grass.
3) Michigan — I love Homecoming and was disappointed I missed it last year. I’m skeptical of the game though.
4) Wisconsin — I have understand Madison is a great town, particularly in October. I am disappointed I could not take advantage of someone’s hospitality there the last two times Penn State played there; that friend finished law school this month and is moving back east.
5) Coastal Carolina — I love the first game of the season and have never missed it.

Penn State hasn’t played a team from the Pac 10 in eight years (USC in the 2000 Kick-off Classic). Oregon State adds a little flavor to an otherwise very standard schedule. How do you think this season’s matchups compare to prior years?

Oregon State replacing Arkansas State improves the schedule dramatically, putting two name teams from BCS conference on it. Syracuse is down, though they doing fine when the schedule was signed, while Oregon State is respectable. I don’t have a problem with Temple, since Penn State is doing them a favor by playing them. I am not thrilled about Coastal Carolina though.

Night games appear to be a growing trend in the Big Ten. While the 2005 Ohio State game was as good as it gets, the following year’s Michigan game seemed overhyped and we all know about last season’s Ohio State outcome.

This year’s Penn State night schedule includes Illinois at home and tough ones in the dark at Wisconsin and at Ohio State. (I’m not sure what to make of the 4:30 kick-off against Michigan)

Here is the three-parter: (1)Does this mean that all of our big games will be played at night from here on out? (2)Do you enjoy the 8:00 or still prefer 3:30? and (3)Do you think a night kickoff actually increases home field advantage or does it simply look cooler on TV?

1) If ESPN/ABC gets good ratings, yes.
2) I prefer 3:30. Night games are not worth it unless I can walk to where I am sleeping. Getting out of the parking lot after 1 is no fun, even if only driving to Bellefonte.
3) It gave a home field advantage exactly once, 2005 vs. Ohio State. Since everybody in the Big11Ten plays at night now, it doesn’t matter.

Lighting Round:

How would Penn State finish with Iowa’s 2008 schedule (substitute Iowa in place of the obvious difficult situation of playing yourself)?

11-1

Which RB gets the most carries this year? The most TDs?

Evan Royster. Stephfon Green.

How much would you pay for this fall’s Michigan ticket? What is the most you’ve ever paid to attend a PSU game?

Face value — the days of paying a premium for tickets are over for me. I paid $155 for Nebraska tickets because they were part of a tour, but I conveniently “found a place to stay” and I skipped the bus.

The ever-growing roundtable:

Black Shoe Diaries
The Nittany Line
There Is No Name On My Jersey
Tangled Up In White and Blue
The Nittany Notebook
Run Up The Score
Nittany Whiteout

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Nats fall in San Diego

SAN DIEGO 4 Washington 2 (ESPN Boxscore)

Nats’ Loss Is Out of Hill’s ControlThe Post
Offensive woes sink Nationals againThe Wash. Times
Padres unload 1-2 punch in victorySan Diego Union-Tribune
Shawn Hill labored through 5 painful innings, but left with the game tied. Back-to-back Padres home runs off of two different relievers proved to be the difference in the game.

Zimmerman Misses 2nd Straight GameThe Post
3B Ryan Zimmerman missed his second consecutive game. Apparently, he could have played last night, but it was decided to rest his shoulder a little more.

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