Saturday, December 27, 2008

Going South, Movie Reviews

During December there were three topics for conversation that seemed to slap me in the face ever time I was around 1 or more humans(Buffman & Squeaky don't really care, they are just good dogs that watch over their triathlon, poop, pie, eat, bark, and sleep a lot) three topics of conversation always came up: 1. My birthday on December 16th proclaiming me officially 70 at 6:38 a.m., 2. The election of President Elect Obama, 3. The economy going South. Well the birthday thing has come and gone, the election has come and gone as we watch the New administration take shape, but everything in the economy is going South. As I watch this happen it makes me a aware of other things that are going South around me. It seems as though every time I eat something it goes South directly to my ever growing love handles. Now I guess I should be happy since love handles are there for a purpose, not that I really understand what they are far except to aggravate me and protrude over my pants and look stupid in the mirror. When I weighed 149 lbs. playing football in High School, I had love handles, when I played college football weighing 180 lbs. I had love handles, but they didn't seem to be heading South. They are supposed to be some kind of muscle and look good on some people but I have never grown to love them at all. It appears that the Oreo's that I eat have a direct path to my love handles and seem to get there with 100 mph speed. Then I look in the mirror when I get up in the morning and right around my chin there seems to be some natural reconstruction work going on with my lower jaw and chin going South. What the hell is going on here? It is one thing for the economy to go South, but leave my body alone and let's keep that level bubble in the right position. Today while I was riding my bike trainer I looked down and the lower part of my gut looked like it was heading South. So, what I have planned for January 1 is to declare WWIII on my love handles and take charge of those little pests. I will cut my Oreo's down, along with my beer(which now is only a 6 pack a week at the most), increase my exercise and do more work on shaving those two dudes off. I keep thinking that along with the e-mail solicitations that come in to enlarge my penis there will be something on getting rid of disgusting love handles. Surely the same technology would work, even though I really don't know if the penis enlargement works or not since I haven't tried it. Thank God the penis hasn't headed South permanently so I will leave that be, for the time being. But, all these smart folks that shave off fat from fat people, enlarge breasts, remove wrinkles, and make you look like a China man with the eye jobs could take care of my every loving love handles. Of course I also realize that they got that name for a reason, supposedly your love partner will grab hold of those things during wild times of passion and hold on for dear life. Makes sense to me, so why am I complaining, I got a good thing going so now I should love those dudes and make the most of it. Off to exercise !!

Movie Review: "Bedtime Stories", *(For adults), ***(For 6 year olds), Adam Standler plays the lead is this totally kid movie. While I can't say it was a bad movie since it was geared from kids, I did just say that when it was finally over. Rated: PG for some mild rude humor and mild language(this was a Disney movie, so maybe they did say "gosh darn" a few times.

" The Curious Case of Benjamin Button", ****, Brad Pitt, Cate Blanchett, Taraji Henson and Tilda Swinton play in this very unusual movie about a man who is in his 80's when he is born and ages backwards. It is a very well done movie and interesting to watch. Pitt and Blanchett are excellent in this movie. The movie opens in 1918, at the end of WW I, and progresses into the 21st Century. A very good love story, a must see. Rated PG-13 for brief war violence, sexual content, language and smoking.

"Doubt", ***, Set in 1964 at the Catholic school St. Niclolas in the Bronx, the story finds a nun and school principle, played by Meryl Streep, growing suspicious when Father Flynn, played by Philip Seymour Hoffman, begins taking interest in the life of the school's first black student. Without any proof other than her moral certainty, the Sister locks into a battle of wills with Father Flynn. It is a well done movie, possible boring to some, with great acting. Not enough for the fourth star but could get some nominations. Rated PG-13 for thematic material.


Monday, December 22, 2008

Hot Movie Review

Normally my movie reviews come at the tail end of a goofy story; however, after seeing "Seven Pounds" last night I had to write my review NOW!! This is truly a great movie and is presented in such a way that I had to get on this keyboard and tell you about it. If you happen to read the GO!MOVIES section of the Lubbock Avalanche Journal please disregard the description of this movie, since it is not accurate and will completely confuse you. While Kerns has not reviewed it in person yet, he just uses whatever the studio sends him about the movie and publishes it(I know this for a fact since I have complained to him that these studio reviews are not really what the story is about, and he says he puts them in there until he is able to review it). Here is my review of a really outstanding movie: Will Smith stars as Ben Thomas, a guilt ridden, very smart guy with a secret that is driving him to suicide. He embarks on an extraordinary journey of redemption by changing the lives(with some life saving gifts) of seven strangers. Of course along the way there is a love interest(one of the seven recipients), played by Rosario Dawson. Woody Harrelson portrays a blind piano player who is also one of the recipients. The movie is presented in such a way that you will be intrigued by the minute and will appreciate the outstanding acting of Mr. Smith. Of course with this type of narrative description I would have to rate it ***** five stars. Rated PG-13 for thematic material, some disturbing content and a scene of sensuality(all in good taste). A must see and will probably be nominated for something.


Sunday, December 21, 2008

Possessions, Movie Reviews

During my triathlon travels over the past 3 months(14,000+ miles), that included Florida, Hawaii, Colorado, and Arizona I have noticed that these areas seem to have a larger population of homeless people than the colder states. Even though it does get very cold in Colorado Springs there seems to be a large group of homeless that live next to the downtown park and jogging area. Since it is that time of year that we become obsessed with our possessions or how we can even acquire more possessions through Christmas giving and receiving, I started to take inventory of how possessions are important to everyone, whether we are homeless or live in a 10,000 square foot home. The homeless will usually have a back pack or an old Army bag that they carry their life possessions in, or you will see the shopping cart that has become famous by the local bag lady that pushes it around with all of her possessions. While this might seem very trite to the person who has everything, I suggest that it is not to the homeless. The backpack is very important in that it is the closet, the chest of drawers, the garage, the pantry, for storing all of the possessions that the homeless person has and is taken for granted by those who have a nice home to live in. During this time of year as we head to the mall to fight the crowds to "buy" more possessions I wonder what do the homeless do during this time of year. While I watch the owner of the Dallas Cowboys build a $$billion dollar football stadium, then move out of a perfectly good stadium so his $$million dollar mediocre players can play a stupid game of football, I wonder how many homeless people could have been helped with this money. Another point I guess I really get out of all this is that everyone is where they are for a purpose of life. I do know of a billionaire that has taken on the homeless as his pet project and benefits them through a national organization out of Denver. I also noticed where the very successful author, Danielle Steel(her pin name) also benefits the homeless. My point of all this gibberish is that we should be thankful all year long for our possessions and remember that life goes on 24/7, 365 days a year and not just during the holiday's.

"The Day the Earth Stood Still" *, A very boring movie that is a reinvention of the 1951 classic concerning an alien whose arrival on Earth triggers a global upheaval. Keanu Reeves yawns his way through the part of chief alien Klaatu. He is the messenger that illustrates to the earthlings that they have ruined the planet and they are to become extinct. Sounds like it would be a good movie but really loses it somewhere in the translation. Jennifer Connelly plays the earthling scientist that saves the day. Go see if you can get in free or at a very discounted price(I paid senior fare). Rated PG-13 for some sci-fi disaster(they destroy the New York Giants football stadium) images and violence.

"Australia", ****, If you like long movies you will love this. Starring Nicole Kidman and Hugh Jackman filmed in Australia featuring the past racist treatment of the Aboriginine people and of course the romantic possibilities between Kidman and Jackman. However, never fear because the sparks do finally fly off that screen and we are all relieved. Go see, but be patient with the length of the movie, kind of like "Gone With the Wind." Rated PG-13 for thematic material(very tame).

"Punisher: War Zone" ***, Waging his one man war on the world of organized crime, ruthless vigilante-hero Frank Castle(played by Ray Stevenson) now sets his sights on overeager mob boss Billy Russoti(Dominic West). Castle's motivation stems from the fact that the mob murdered his wife and daughter, so he is out to get all of them. Lots of action and killing of the bad guys. Rated R for pervasive strong brutal violence, language and some drug use.

"Yes Man" ***, If you like Jim Carrey you will like this. Carrey stars as Carl, a man who is in a deep funk, signs up for a self-help program based on one simple principle: say yes to everything and anything. He soon discovers that opening up his life to endless possibilities can have its drawbacks. While not on the list to be nominated for anything it is enjoyable to watch. Rated PG-13 for crude sexual humor, language and brief nudity.


Sunday, December 07, 2008

Leaf blower, Contracts, Team of Rivals, Movie Reviews

When a neighbor uses their leaf blower where do the leaves go that they blow? Well I can tell you for sure they go to the only place possible for them to go, they go into the other neighbors yards, driveways, and curb drain areas. For seven years now I have watched my neighbor from across the street take out his magical blower, fill it with gas, mount it on his back and commence to blow the hell out of the leaves, dirt, weeds, and whatever else is in his yard to the other yards on the block. Of course one might say, “Well the leaves only fall in November so you only have to put up with this once a year for a couple of weeks.” Wrong, this goes on all year and in the summer due to the mowing of the grass and it happens right after I have gone on a long bike ride and would like to take a little rest break(nap) to help recover. As I lay down to take this break I hear the monster across the street crank up and then blow grass, weeds, dirt and whatever else is in his yard across the street to my yard. So, now I guess I have another irritating thing that goes on in my life that I really can’t do anything about and must endure to the end, while this stuff is blown into my yard. So, I have developed some possible solutions to the problem and will consider taking some action in the following ways: First, I could just go out and buy and bigger blower and blow it all back into his yard. After all that is where it all came from and belongs back with the original owner. Second, I could install a giant alarm signal, kind of like a fire alarm, and every time the blower starts blowing the stuff across the street from his yard this thing would go off. Third, I could have a big leaf burning party and just burn it off either in his yard or in my yard when it comes over(this one is not really a good idea, but just thought I would throw it in), Fourth, I could petition to the legal authorities that this is really a big nuisance to me and the neighborhood and I want it stopped, Fifth, I could present a resolution to the state of Texas that would require all blowers to have a permit and license when they are bought and before they can be used. Now the good news here is if this were to be done then the government could create a new agency under the Homeland Security Department of Justice, called The Leaf Blower Control Affairs. The other good news is that this would create a whole knew industry for the country and another place for the bureaucrats to work, since you would need a Secretary of Leaf Blowers and numerous assistants, plus a staff to watch over the vast abundance of spending of the $1 billion budget that would always go over to about $2 billion. The regulators would need to be trained, and new uniforms would have to purchase for them, plus some form of transportation and expense accounts would be needed. So, you see as my problem is solved and there will be many other opportunities come to pass for our economy, after all this is the land of the free and the brave and we thrive on the free enterprise system. Don’t be surprised if this doesn’t show up on Ophra and she champions all of the offended citizens of the world who have leaves and grass blown on to their yards. Well it is Sunday in December, just days before my birthday and guess who is across the street blowing leaves?

There use to be a time in history when a contract was made between people that just required a handshake and their word. But now a 20 page, single spaced contract written by a team of 20 New York lawyers is just a bunch of words printed on paper, signed by all parties concerned has very little meaning. A good example is the way big time major college football coaches receive the largest amount of money and the best contracts money can buy, but they invariably mean nothing. Fact is they are really just one sided for the coach, not the institution, students, authorities or anyone else on the other side of the fence. A coach can be given a multi-million dollar contract but if he decides to go some where else to coach he is let out of the contract very easily or he gets a raise and extension. Case in point is our local head football coach at Texas Tech. Due to the tremendous success of the team this year he was of interest to some other major schools, but of course he was under contract with two years remaining. So, in the olden days he would have stayed on the local campus until that contract was fulfilled. But, now what happens is he looks at another job, but is not offered the position, then Tech officials offer him a pay raise, a three year extension and his off and running with a $12.1 million package. Wow, what a deal!! But, I would like to take the time to congratulate the team on a great season and the job that all of the football staff and players have done to really put Lubbock, Texas on the map. Even though this will be short lived if they don’t repeat it every year, I promise!!

Team of Rivals is a great book written by Doris Goodwin that tells the story, in detail, about how President Abraham Lincoln put together his cabinet after being elected to the presidency. Since he was the dark horse in this election and was given very little chance of winning, the steps he took in assembling his cabinet were very un-conventional. He went to his biggest rivals and asks them to serve in his cabinet, then with his tremendous management skills he was able to have one of the most effective cabinets in the country’s history. These were the most prominent men of their time, which was quite the contrary when it came to President Lincoln. He was just the opposite, since most of these men had considerable wealth for the times and were well educated, again all attributes that the President did not have. But, by enlisting them to serve with him he provided the country with the best possible leadership that was available for the country. Especially with the future trying times that lay ahead, i.e. the slavery issue, possible war, the economy, etc. (does any of this sound familiar?). Now we have a new President Elect that is putting together a cabinet that is certainly non-conventional and is a reflection of his desire to provide diversified leadership for all the people of our country. While I did not vote for him, I do respect what he is trying to do. Today it was announced that he has ask retired General Eric Shinseki to serve as the Secretary of Veteran Affairs. While Mr. Shinseki served as the Army Chief of Staff during the Bush administration he was at odds with Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld on a daily basis. He got into hot water with the administration when he said they would need at least 200,000 soldiers to do the job in Iraq, so the administration paved the way for his exit. You know the deal, disagree with this closed administration and you are gone, but it turned out he was totally right and the egg is on the other face. So now let’s take a quick count on the diversity of the nominated members of the new cabinet: 2 white males, 3 women, 1 Afro American, 1 Hispanic, and 1 Japanese American. It even has some rivals in it!! This next year is going to be very interesting to say the least.

Movie Reviews: “Twilight”, **, If you like vampire movies you will probably like this, even though it is not really typical. It happens to be a love story between a human (high school girl Kristen Stewart) and a fellow classmate who is a vampire (Robert Pattinson, age not really known since they don’t age but he appeared to be 17 or so). This vampire family lives in the community as a fairly normal family and the story evolves around this mis-match of human vs. vampire. Then of course there are some bad vampires who come into to fill their tanks on human blood (the good vampires fill up only on animal blood). Worth maybe a matinee ticket or the dollar movie house. Rated PG-13 for some violence and a scene of sensuality.

“Four Christmases”, **, This comedy had some potential but really never hit the right spots. An age old subject of being around the families during Christmas and the drag it can be. Plenty of star power here with five Oscar actors, and two chart topping country recording stars, plus Vince Vaughn and Reese Witherspoon as the couple who have created a plan to not visit their families every Christmas. Don’t let the star power draw you in, but I guess it is worth a matinee ticket if you don’t have anything else to do. Rated PG-13 for some sexual humor and language.

“Lakeview Terrace”, *--, Actually a terrible movie staring Samuel L. Jackson as a control freak police officer that doesn’t like it because an interracial couple move next to him. The husband is white and the wife is black, so the next door neighbor Jackson (who is black) does not like this and gives them hell until the movie ends. A waste of time and money. Rated PG for intense thematic material, violence, sexuality, language and some drug references.