Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Mid-Life Crisis!

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In less than a month, I will hit my mid-40s - the proverbial "mid life crisis". I'm already cranky and look back more than I look ahead.

I do find society to be rather crass - I work among the public every day and see just how self-centered we as a society have become. It's all about "me" and what can you do for "me"? There's no chivalry in every day interactions. Kids are even worse - there's just no standard being set for them by their parents.

I find I am losing touch with the latest in technology - even though at one time I was a programmer and had my eyes and ears open to what was happening in the industry. I had a previous blog entry about Facebook/My Space, but I can easily write about iPods and iPhones (though I am impressed by the iPhone commercials highlighting some of the apps available) being beyond me and my needs. I barely had time to embrace Web 1.0 before they started foisting Web 2.0 on me.

All my favorite TV shows ended years ago (some decades ago!) - I hardly follow much these days except a few game shows and a smattering of reality shows. I'll either watch re-runs of favorite shows (thanks Lifetime and Retro Television Network) or plop in a DVD of a favorite series from yesteryear. While some of the newer movies are enjoyable and I look forward to them (see previous entries on this year's summer releases), I find that today's movies are just too action/special effects oriented. There's something about them being too realistic looking that makes me yearn for a 1930s/1940s film.

And I've already lived long enough to realize that all politicians, from the left to the right, are full of crap. If there are any under-30 Obama supporters reading this entry - you'll know exactly what I mean in a few years.

Of course, I'm not a total curmudgeon - I consider myself a futurist actually. I find the Internet not only highly enjoyable but highly useful. Paying bills online, moving money around with the click of a mouse and the myriad other things one can accomplish is simply spectacular. As we move more and more online, we should see total costs to society being reduced significantly.

I overly embrace DVD technology (though I don't see myself moving to Blu-Ray any time soon). Being able to watch a favorite series or movie anytime I want still boggles the mind on occasion (realize children that the VCR wasn't popular until the early 80s - I wasn't able to record all my childhood favorites like you can now!)

Even though the auto industry is currently in a "funk", they have made vast strides in safety and economy since I last purchased a new cars years ago. I wouldn't want to go back to the old days there!

The same is true for health care - for every story about a botched operation, there are more about successes.

These are indeed interesting times - let's see how the next 45 years go!

Have you hit mid-life? Soon going to be? Your thoughts on it all? Leave your comments below!

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Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Moon Landing - 40 Year Anniversary!

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On July 20, 2009, we'll be celebrating the 40th Anniversary of the first Moon landing. I thought it would be nice, every week, to highlight books, DVDs, etc. that capture those magical days of the Apollo moon missions.

This week's entry is the highly recommended Tom Hanks' HBO production From the Earth to the Moon. This is a 12 hour miniseries covering the Apollo missions. I saw it when it was first released on DVD. I remember it being very well done (it was nominated for 17 Emmys, winning 3, including Best Mini-Series). I found it very emotional - for some reason, I'd get choked up watching it. I should watch it again soon...

One thing to be aware of: HBO released this twice - once in 1998 as a four disc collector's edition and again in 2005 as a 5 disc Signature Edition. While the Signature edition's fifth disc does have some impressive featurettes (I have the original release so have not seen this disc), HBO remastered the episodes themselves to be in 1.78 widescreen format. From the many reviews on, it appears this remastering was a "cheat" and ended up cutting off parts of the picture to create the widescreen effect. This also had the apparent side effect of diminishing some of the special effects sequences (according to reviewers).

I'm hoping HBO will release this again in July (though there's no word it will be) in its original 4:3 aspect ratio along with the extra fifth disc.

In any case, I can strongly recommend viewing this series.

Have you seen From the Earth to the Moon? If so, share your thoughts below!

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Saturday, May 23, 2009

Memorial Day Weekend

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Well, it's a long weekend here in the United States - the unofficial beginning of the summer season (which will end unofficially Labor Day weekend in September).

Monday is Memorial Day - a national holiday we set aside to remember the dead, especially those who died in the armed forces serving our country, from major conflicts like World War II to anti-terrorist strikes in Afghanistan and peacekeeping in Iran.

There is a White House Commission on Remembrance which is tasked as follows:

"The White House Commission on the National Moment of Remembrance was established by Congress as an independent government agency. The Commission encourages Americans to honor the sacrifices of America’s fallen and the families they left behind. It promotes acts of remembrance throughout the year and asks Americans to pay our debt of gratitude in memory of our fallen by giving something back to the Nation.The Commission is also tasked to unite the country in the National Moment of Remembrance at 3 p.m. on Memorial Day.

The Commission is dedicated to educating this and future generations of Americans to remember the sacrifices and costs in human life made to preserve our liberties, and to instill in them an understanding of what it means to be an American."

So, Monday, at 3 P.M. local time, please take a moment to remember all the men and women who have sacrificed their lives so we could live freely -- even to create silly blogs like this one!

Happy Memorial Day!


Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Speaking of the Star Wars saga...

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I'm surprised at myself for not ranting about this much earlier!

Am I the only one that thought the Star Wars "prequel" Trilogy was a bunch of bullshit? And that Lucas' continuing attempts at modifying the original Trilogy each time they are released is bullshit? I can't wait to read about his changes for the inevitable Blu Ray release - and when I say 'read about' I mean it as I won't be buying the films on Blu Ray.

He butchers the original Trilogy with new SFX and changes sequences for whatever warped reason he has THEN has the gall to release the original films (untouched AND un-remastered for DVD) on yet another DVD release. All of this after saying he wouldn't even release the Star Wars series on DVD in the first place! My, what buckets of money does to change one's mind!

I waited 28 years to see the final installment of Star Wars and what do I get? Crap. Layers and layers of it. It wasn't as bad as the first two prequels that Lucas foisted upon us, but still crap nevertheless. I think it was a HUGE mistake on Lucas' part for waiting 20 years to create the first prequel. One doesn't have the same mindset two decades removed from his creation. And the lame excuse that he was waiting for SFX to get better so he could really make the films he wanted is bullshit! Every time I think about these films, it makes my blood boil! I can't even write a coherent blog entry about it, I'm so pissed off!

That little boy in Phantom Menace. Padme Amidala? Jimmy Smits? I loved Smits in L.A. Law, but in the Star Wars saga?? Trying to connect the original Trilogy with the prequel Trilogy was nonsense! I didn't get it.

The new SFX completely ruined the movies for me. They were too far out - too overused. And speaking of bullshit - was making Darth Vader Luke's father (and Leia his sister) something Lucas pulled out of his ass? Or was it there when he first wrote Star Wars - A New Hope all those many years ago?

And does anyone remember that Star Wars was supposed to be a Trilogy of Trilogy movies? Or am I the only one?

I best stop now - I'm foaming at the mouth and becoming more incoherent as time moves on.

Share your thoughts below! I can't be the only one out there that's this pissed off!

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Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Star Wars 'A New Hope' stamp

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This post appeared in our sister blog Just Stamps. I thought it was a neat stamp for those of us who grew up with the original Star Wars saga. It's real postage that you can order using the links below. Enjoy!

Here's the classic Star Wars logo that started it all over 30 years ago! Use this stamp to let everyone know you're a fan!

For more Star Wars stamps and merchandise, shop Star Wars's Gallery.

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Monday, May 18, 2009

The Cycle

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I thought I'd share this piece of fiction I wrote for a high school English class.

Edenville was a typical American town. As a matter of fact, towns like it were spread all across the globe...

The meat clever floated effortlessly through the air to its destination.

"No! Please, please, stop it!!" pleaded the officer. He moved backwards towards the wall, frantically waving his hands in front of him. "Nooooo......!!!!"

The cleaver plunged into his chest. The lifeless mass slumped to the floor as blood spurted wildly, staining the surrounding furniture.

Quint moved toward the body, laughing almost uncontrollably. He dipped his finger into the fresh blood and scrawled the words "devil’s domain" on the wall. He licked his finger clean and left.

"The third mysterious murder of a police officer within the past two days continues to puzzle police. A police spokesman says detectives are working on the assumption that these recent murders are in some way related to the mysterious murders of seven policemen three months ago.

In international news, the Falkland Islands war...."

Clyde clicked off the television and turned to the small congregation of black-robed businessmen seated on benches.

"Brothers," he began, "we are beginning to win our war. The Lord Devil himself shall rule the world, as was meant to be."

"Amen," came the response.

"Let’s be seated."The men moved to a large, circular glass table and sat at their respective seats. Clyde brought forth a large black book and opened it to a section of chants.

"Almighty Devil, hear us. You have given us prosperity; we have sacrificed for you. Help us."

The group began to chant. From the middle of the table, a bright red light began to form. From the depths of the light, a face appeared and then a body. The men bowed their heads in respect.

"You have done well, my disciples. But, you are not alone in this conquest."

With a sweeping motion of his hand, the sacrificial altar on the far wall disappeared. In its place a viewport appeared. On it, pictures and news reports from around the world appeared in a massive collage. The reports told of murdered officials from the local level up to and including the national level. The viewport disappeared as suddenly as it had appeared. The altar reappeared in its former place.

"Tomorrow, my disciples, the world shall be ruled by me. Tomorrow our work shall be over. The day of salvation is near!!"

The image disappeared.

Mass-slaughter occurred on the day of salvation. The resistors were torched and killed. The world was in the Devil’s hands!

The Creator looked upon his world in dismay.

"The non-believers have won. I have tried; my Son has tried, but they refused to believe."

"Father, you must save them for they are one with us."

"You are right my Son."

"Devil, you have had your last laugh."

"No! You shall never destroy me! The people believe in me and through their strength, I live!"

With that, the Creator raised his hands and brought forth a force unknown in power.

The Devil took the force and then delivered his own force.

This continued for forty days and forty nights.

And in the end, there was nothing.

The devil grew weak and fled to another dimension.

The Creator looked about.

He raised His hands and created a world in six days and on the seventh day, He rested.

And on this world He created the animals and the plants. And then He created man.

"Perhaps this species will listen," He commented as He looked about.

So - what did you think? Let me know by leaving some comments below!

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Thursday, May 14, 2009

Stressed Out? Try this video game!

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Stressed out?

Worrying about your next date or the big presentation to your boss? Feeling low? Instead of running to the closest book-store to find a trendy self-help book, get MindHabits. Find relief at the click of a mouse. A video game that is actually good for you? Now, that's a concept!

Based on social intelligence research conducted at McGill University, these stress busting, confidence boosting games use simple, fun-to-play exercises that help players develop and maintain a more positive state of mind.

I downloaded the demo - it's pretty interesting. They explain each game's scientific basis. You can keep track of your progress with the Progress Tracker.

Click on the banner below to check it out!

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Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Who's your Batman?

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As a child of the '60s/'70s/'80s, I was first exposed to Batman via the 1966 TV series starring Adam West and Burt Ward. I thought it was the greatest - a comic book come to life. Full of bright colors and colorful Bat-villains, the series never failed to entertain me - over and over again. I loved the addition of Batgirl in the third season and wished it had continued for a few more seasons. Watching it as an adult, the writing is clever and sharp. It's great!

Even though I've seen the Tim Burton/Joel Schumacher films and Chris Nolan's The Dark Knight (I haven't seen Batman Begins yet), the true "accessible" Batman will always be Adam West.

I know the diehards detest the 1966 TV series, but it's their loss as the saying goes. So my question today is: Who's Your Batman? Which Batman do you connect with most? 1960s TV? 1980s movie series or 2000s movie series ... and why?

Let us know by leaving your comments below!

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Monday, May 11, 2009

DVD Marathon Viewing - Your Style?

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As you know from a previous entry, I have a collection of DVDs. Many of them are TV series along with the James Bond movie series.

I usually enjoy doing the Bond movies in chronological order. I tend to do the same with TV series though there are some TV series (Space:1999) that I like to watch favorite episodes in any order.

For movies (Bond in this case), I'll watch one a day -- perhaps 2-3 per week till I finish off the series.

For TV, I tend to watch several episodes in a day and sometimes get through a series within a week or so.

So what's your DVD Marathon Viewing style? Do you watch a group of TV episodes at once or spread them out? Spread out a movie series (any series) over a few weeks or gulp them down in an afternoon?

Let us know by leaving some comments below!

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Sunday, May 10, 2009

Yea! Patriots are Number 1!

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Well, it's only May, but CBS Sports has decided to publish an NFL "Power Rankings" for the upcoming 2009 season.

And, with the predicted return of Tom Brady, the Patriots snag the number 1 spot along with a Super Bowl favorite endorsement. Of course, we all know how these things can turn out.

But, it's fun to think about in May.

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Happy Mother's Day!

Welcome to my blog!

Just a warm wish to mothers every where:

Happy Mother's Day!

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Thursday, May 07, 2009

Have Unions caused the Great American Decline?

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From Airlines to Newspapers and everything in between, once great industries and companies are collapsing in America. If you look at one of the common threads you'll usually see that each of these industries is heavily unionized. Is it a coincidence or a cause?

Right now, as I sit here writing this entry, General Motors and Chrysler may be near bankruptcy and an iconic newspaper, The Boston Globe, may be shuttered for good. Each of these companies is highly unionized, driving up costs unnecessarily. While the auto unions seem to be understanding the need to make concessions, it seems the newspaper union is "out to lunch". They'd rather their members be out on the street than work for less pay or benefits. Actually, it's only one of the newspaper unions that seems to be stalling on certain benefits (lifetime job guarantee). But either way, it's possible The Globe could go the way of the Model T.

For sure, it's not only the Unions that are creating issues - for example, the auto companies produced cars that nobody wanted. And, of course, the Internet (along with 24 hour news channels) has played a large part in the decline of newspapers all across the country. But, by driving up fundamental costs (wages, benefits, work restrictions), Unions have certainly ushered in a faster demise for their particular industries.

You may think that I want to destroy all unions and allow "unfettered capitalism" to run amuck. Well, not quite. I think unions do have a purpose - safety and health of their members. But that's really the only area, in my opinion, that unions should meddle in. Not wages, not onerous work restrictions or divisions of labor. Fight for, create and preserve a safe, healthy working environment for your members. Then, move out of the way and allow management to set wages and work priorities.

Together we can rebuild America.

What are your thoughts on unions - good or bad for America? Let us know by leaving a comment below!

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Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Summer Movies I Wanna See - July 1 & 15

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Well, this will probably wrap up my Summer Movies postings for a while (at least until I get to see the movies listed!).

For July 1, it's Public Enemies with Johnny Depp:

For July 15, it's Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince:

I'm not a huge Harry Potter fan, but these types of special effects movies should be seen on the silver screen.

What are your picks? Leave a comment below and let us know!

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Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Summer Movies I Wanna See - June 19

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From June 5th - 19th, there's really not that much I care to see at the theater.

For June 19th, the silver screen pick is Food, Inc:

Also, Moon which was previously discussed.

What are your picks? Leave a comment below and let us know!

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Monday, May 04, 2009

Summer Movies I Wanna See - May 29

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May 29th's silver screen choice is Disney Pixar's "Up". Enjoy the trailer!

What's your May 29th silver screen choice? Let us know by leaving some comments below!

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Sunday, May 03, 2009

Summer Movies I Wanna See - May 22

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May 22nd's silver screen choice is Mystic India. Enjoy the trailer!

DVD choices:

Country Teacher
Summer Hours

Once again, share your choices for May 22nd by leaving some comments below!

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Saturday, May 02, 2009

Summer Movies I Wanna See - May 15

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The silver screen movie of choice for May15th is the controversial Angels & Demons. Enjoy the trailer!

What's your silver screen pick for May15th? Let us know by leaving a comment below!

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Friday, May 01, 2009

Summer Movies I Wanna See - May 8

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For May 8th, the silver screen movie of choice is, of course, Star Trek! I'm no Trekkie by any means, but it looks kinda interesting. Enjoy the trailer!

What's your silver screen movie for May 8th? Let us know by leaving a comment below!

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