Saturday, February 28, 2009

Abundance(over done), Movie Reviews

Abundance is simply defined as, "more than is needed." Now that means more than is needed to accomplish something or anything, display something, carry out something, play something, write about something, accumulate something, say something, show photos of something, or just whatever in the world one might what to do. As a person who has been around for a few years I have proclaimed that this world is now made up of an OVER abundance of just about anything you might imagine, and way more than we need in most instances. What has really prompted me to bring this to light came after going through some of the current AOL news(which we have way too much of and is definitely in OVER abundance) and found some interesting photos of the First Families two daughters. The event that was being photographed certainly was not something that will go down in the history books or is even really noteworthy; however, the media has become so obsessed with every move the Big O family does we are now being inundated with an OVER abundance of subjects about them that seems to being very useless to me. The photos I am referring to today concern photos taken a few days ago concerning the two Big O children being flown across town from their school to their new digs at the White House, the multi-million dollar Helicopter One. Now it is bad enough that we have to spend millions to taxi these little darlings across town, but then the media actually took over 500 photos(that was just on AOL, so who knows how many actual photos were taken that day) of this event, I went through about 15 of them and they were actually many of them that looked like they had stepped off of the copter, had their photos made, then moved another two steps and had their photo made again. Since this went on and on I just figured I had seen enough after 15 and discontinued my viewing. Now I know the magic of the new president is of interest to the country, but more importantly I think more time should be spent on real news and leave the first family with a little privacy. Isn't it enough that we go into grocery stores to shop and every magazine on the racks have the Big O and wife on the covers and every where you look there are t-shirts, baseball hats, etc., with him image on it. Kind of like big brother is watching, or maybe even the main character from the popular "Left Behind" series. While I know that this is an OVER abundance of the media in action and not the fault of Big O I really wish we could get back to some kind of normal and let the new president do his job on fixing the things that need fixing. Lord knows that since the election he has reminded us of how bad it is and how bad the previous administration left us, so I know he has plenty to do. While I see OVER abundance in just about every area of life in these United States what I see the in the professional sports world, and in some cases the college athletic world is enough to make you want to puke, and then continue to drive heave until you faint. JJ builds a $1.1 billion football stadium for his Dallas Cowboys to play in when they still had a real nice stadium, then he spends millions on criminals to play for him and to add insult to injury he actually has to hire full time baby sitters for the criminals(football players) to keep them out of trouble and on the field. Then the criminals go out partying and get in a fight with THEIR baby sitters, and end up in suspension. Now is this an example of OVER abundance or what? What they don't have is an OVER abundance of winning and going into the playoffs, maybe that comes after the next San Quentin class is signed for the coming year. Another event that reeked in OVER abundance was the half time show at the Super Bowl, "The Boss(Springsteen)" was hired to do the 12 minute half time show and did one helluva great job. But, was it really worth a $1 million that he charges for such concerts? What ever happened to the marching bands and beautiful baton twirlers? Why not just use the Cowboy cheerleaders who are blessed with great bodies and good looks, not to mention their obvious, OVER abundant cleavage. Give me football on the grass and great half time marching bands, that is football!! In college football with also have some extreme examples of OVER abundance, like the most recent drama in Lubbock concerning the extended contract of the head football coach at Texas Tech. Mike Leach has been at Raiderland for nine years now and has done a very good job of building the football program and has won a few games(average of about 8 wins per year, no Big 12 Title, no Big 12 South title and no National title, but (1) ONE really big year in 2008 even though they lost in the Cotton Bowl, again) while doing it. Mostly though his teams have led the nation in individual categories that are related to his well executed wide open passing game. He has also won over a lot of fans in this area with his eccentrics, etc. While he still had two years left on his contact of $2 million a year and some incentives, he wanted a new 5 year extension with more money. So much more that it would have put him in the same income category as some of the National Champion winners, i.e. Stoops at U of Oklahoma, and Brown at The U of Texas. While his team did very good in 08, it was not that good. So, after all kinds of media drama(OVER abundance) for about a month there were some compromises made, Coach Leach got a nice raise, an extension of his contract for five years, some new incentives and so now all the fans of Lubbock are mighty happy with this OVER abundance of a college coaches income. While I realize that the current major college football programs are multi-million dollar endeavors it just seems to be a prime example of abundance. The team of 2008 is to be commended for their winning ways and for all of the publicity that they brought the Raiders and Lubbock. Here is hoping that they don't come in with a 6-6 team in 09, and are invited to the Non-Significant bowl(all teams with any kind of 50-50 record or better get to go to bowl games now, since there are 32 of them), and lose. Whoops, can't believe I said that!! On the other hand they could win the Big Championship and go to the National Championship BCS bowl and win it all. Go Raiders, Guns Up, Gig those aggies, romp over those Longhorns, bring those Baptists to repentance , tame those Tigers and Wildcats in Missouri and Kansas, and smear me some Jayhawks all over the artificial grass, !!! Let's win in OVER abundance in 09!!!

Movie Review: "The International", ***, Clive Owens carries this movie of international intrigue, concerning the crooked owners of an international bank and his quest as an Interpol agent to put them out of business and in the local jail for the rest of their natural lives. It has one of the most outstanding shootouts you will see in a movie that happens inside an excellent reproduction of Manhattan's Guggenheim Museum. Owens is totally intense and dedicated to getting the bad guys, he doesn't take time out for any sex, drinking or anything that would prevent him from achieving his goal of taking the bad guys down. Rated R-for some sequences of violence(understated), and language(couldn't hear the bad language for the extreme violence).

"Paul Blart: Mall Cop", **, Okay I know I am scraping at the bottom of the barrel since I haven't been to more movies in the past few weeks, but I like Kevin James. He is really a good actor but sometimes just gets caught in these kind of movies. He is literally a 10 year veteran mall security guard that has flunked out of the state police academy a few times, but he takes his job very seriously. When some real crooks take over the mall while carrying out this cool scheme to rob some of the major stores. Now the James character has the opportunity to become the hero and save the day. While this is not a heavy weight movie of any kind it is worthy of the matinee price tag. Rated PG-for some violence, mild crude and suggestive humor, and language.

"Slumdog Millionaire", **, This movie won 6 academy awards of one kind of another, including Best Film of 2008, I just don't agree. Okay it was brought in on a $12 million budget and had a unique idea, it just wasn't that good in my mind and even boring. When considering all of the other real good movies that it beat out, being Best Film just didn't register with me. This movie is about a lowly, slum dwelling type kid who gets on the "Slumdog Millionaire" television show and has a chance to win a million dollars. As he is ask each question there is a flash back to his surroundings and then he answers the questions. While it is all filmed in India I guess that was supposed to make it cute or something. The closing scenes feature a musical re-gathering of the entire cast in a true Bollywood fashion. Parts of the film are in Hindi with English subtitles. Rated R for some violence, disturbing images and language.


Sunday, February 08, 2009

JD's Revisited, Big O Doesn't Salute, Movie Reviews

It seemed like it had been forever since I had made the short trip through the canyons, foothills, cactus, snakes, empty beer cans and deer to partake of some friendly atmosphere of the infamous JD's Bar and Grill. Let me remind you that this is truly a sleazy, smoked filled bar that is only good for a few things, i.e. drinking beer and eating the best burgers this side of the Mississippi. The clientele would be the biker folks that ride down to partake, and the locals who come in to swap lies about lack of rain, the price of oil dropping, their latest divorce, riding horses and branding cows, and who is screwing who in town. Not a real shady bunch but they do have their priorities. What I found today was a little different than my trips before, oh yea they did have some cold Coors Light draft handy and the burgers were waiting to be cooked, but I noticed that JD was back at the bar in his familiar seat(right in the middle of the bar). This kind of took me by surprise since the rumor was that he had taken to drinking so much he couldn't even come to the bar anymore, just stayed home and drank according to the stories. But there he was in all his glory and when I took note of what he was drinking it looked like he was drinking some Sprite without the customary Crowne Royale. Not wanting to ask him the real story or butt into his business I continued to nurse my beer and speculate that he had been successful in his re-hab and was back at the bar not to drink, but to watch over his business. Then this smaller bottle of Crowne appeared by his Sprite and then it found its' way into the glass. What I gathered was that during re-hab he was introduced to the smaller bottle meaning he would consume less of the hard stuff. What I can say is that he looked healthy while chain smoking and sipping the Crowne and Sprite. O thank heaven for re-hab!! The other notable difference I noticed was a big jar on the bar with a picture of a guy who had just died and the family needed contributions from the local patrons to pay for his funeral. The bar maid told me that ole Paps, who used to sit at the end of he bar, had died a week ago from a stroke and the family couldn't pay for the funeral. In addition to the jar there was a white cowboy straw hat sitting on top of it with some messages written on it from the local patrons, like, "A Paps we miss you", "Can you see my cleavage, Flo?"(Flo happened to be there and she was blessed with lots of the c stuff), "Paps the horses miss you," "The end of the bar will never be the same without you Paps," and on and on. While I did drop a Lincoln into the pot I didn't write anything on the hat. Since I really didn't know this guy I thought his family would enjoy a $5 spot better than some stupid, "We're thinking of you Paps," type thing. The good news about JD's is there is always a story. I have met some locals who say they wouldn't go in that place with a shotgun to their head, but I have found it to be a great getaway from the big city folks of Lubbock. After all how many places can you go to that has a bullet hole in the main window and they don't plan on fixing it any time soon. The good news about the bullet hole is that some of the smoke escapes out of the building and we can breath easier. Another good thing is that they never forget you, no matter how long you are gone, so you always have a place to go to be appreciated. When I walked in the bar maid said, "Well where have you been?" It kind of surprised me since I really didn't know anyone would miss me, but then I replied that I had been traveling, just not to Post, Texas. Since I hadn't noticed her there the previous time I was there I countered back with, "Well where have you been?" Turns out she had been taking care of her sick brother in Cisco, Texas so she hadn't been around for about 6 months. This is the same lady who told me that she tried to move away from Post(population 2,000) one time(about 200 miles away) and just couldn't stand being away from it. But, she returned and does a great job keeping us weary Hog riders full of beverage and burgers. O thank heaven for JD's, a legend in the oil and cattle country.

On the ride back my mind raced through a bunch of conclusions concerning riding a motorcycle(especially if it is black, big, loud, and has lots of chrome on it). When you ride down the city streets of anywhere USA men will turn their heads and look at the machine with more lust than they would for a woman with 36D cup breasts, tiny waist, and great legs. I have also noticed that women look with the same passion and lust, but they seem to be looking at something a little different, like maybe tight jeans, lots of leather, and okay throw in the loud pipes, but with definitely a little different priority. Regardless, I love riding the Hog and have found that it has some similar comparisons to sex. You can go just so long without riding and then you have to ride, duh!! See what I mean?

Well the Big O is really making some changes, even though some of the changes are typically political and status quo. This past week a couple of things caught my attention, and they are very trivial, in that he has relaxed the dress code in the White House and allows the worker bees to take their coats off during working hours, but they still have to wear their ties. In the w. years this was never the case, always coat and tie. Also this past week he took his first trip on the helicopter which took him to Air Force One for a meeting somewhere. It is a custom for there to be a military guard at the steps of the helicopter and they salute the President as he walks up, and since he is the commander in chief he normally salutes back; however, Big O decided to wave and shake hands with the guard. It startled him completely and he didn't know exactly what to do. To me this was sort of an insult to our armed forces since the salute is the proper custom used in a greeting. So, we had the w. for 8 years trying to look real military in his flying apparel, saying "mission accomplished" to the Big O who doesn't have a clue about the military that he is the commander in chief of. Hey forget the traveling and let's get the financial affairs of this country going big time!!

Movie Reviews: "Taken", ****, When his estranged daughter is kidnapped on the very first day of her vacation in Paris, a former spy, played by Liam Neeson, travels overseas, determined to find her at any cost. This just tells part of the story since it is a very graphic movie about the abduction of beautiful young women, 17-25 year of age who are first drugged, then sold into prostitution with no hope of return. Some are sold for as much as $500,000.00 to rich oil Sheiks. Neeson does a great job in playing the concerned father, but also the very professional ex-spy. With his former spy partners he is able to put together the information needed to pursue the rescue of his daughter and only has 96 hours to do it, or she will be lost for good. Rate PG-13 for intense sequences of violence, disturbing thematic material, sexual content, some drug references and language(all of this description is understated).

"New In Town", ***, Renee Zellweger stars as an ambitious businesswoman climbing a corporate ladder in Miami. When given a temporary assignment in what she considers to be the middle of nowhere, she jumps at the opportunity to pursue a big promotion. Turns out the middle of no where is in very cold and snowy, Minnesota. In addition to the cold she meets resistance from the locals and a sagging business. But, then lo and behold love takes over. She meets the man of her dreams and the local union representative for the plant she manages, played by Harry Connick Jr. J.K. Simmons and Frances Conroy co-star. While I only gave it a three star, I would recommend this as an entertaining movie and a feel good movie. Go see it is worth the price of prime time admission. Rated PG for language and some suggestive material.


Sunday, February 01, 2009

Discovery, The Big O, The little w., USA Triathlon, Movie Reviews

On a recent trip to Carlsbad Caverns, New Mexico, I became enthralled with the caverns and the majestic sites that they give you over 800 feet underground. As we were entering the caverns the hard way, by foot, my friend Mark(Balls to the world) and I commented on what it must have been when Mr. Jim White had the courage to enter these caverns initially all alone. Between the darkness and no keen walking paths like they have now, just one misstep and he was a goner. While Mr. White did not actual discover the caverns he was the only person at the time that had the passion to enter the caverns at his own risk to explore them and prepare the caverns so that others could enjoy them. When he first went into the caverns in 1898 he became totally overwhelmed with the passion to develop them, it was truly a miracle that he was able to survive for so many years in this development. But really the cool story is that he was doing this for no pay or any motivation to make the caverns a cash cow for himself. He just wanted the world to come to see the caverns and enjoy their natural underground beauty. That was his pay check. In the same time as he continued to discover new aspects of the caverns he was able to convince the Federal Parks department in Washington, D.C. that the caverns should be a National Park and this did happen officially in 1930. Along with this designation goes the recognition of being a National Park but other perks involved Federal funding for further development. Mr. White continued to lead the discovery teams into the caverns and help develop it for future generations to visit. He also established a "guano" mining operation for a company out of California, after learning that bat guano was the most valuable fertilizer known, and the fruit growers in California were clamoring for it. So, Mr. White was hired to figure out how to get this valuable bat "s..." out of the caverns. This he did for over 20 years, and as long as the bats produced everything was fine(which wasn't a problem since they ate foods rich in fiber). This also gave him the opportunity to continue exploring the caverns. So, what we have here is a case of discovery beyond reproach and when I started thinking about it I couldn't come up with any major discovery that has really happened in our country since that time. You say well what about the moon walk, well sorry about that but we knew the moon was there so there was really discovery, just some moon walking dudes called astronauts. Now we did have a major health discovery in 1955 when Dr. Salk discovered the Salk vaccine that cured and prevented polio. Since that time there has been no real discovery of a cure or prevention for any major disease(I believe that is the case because the medical profession does not want real cures, after all it would put them out of business if the medicine they prescribe prevented the illnesses that they make billions off of) Their motto is cut and remove, then patch it up with some kind of prescription drug, then when that goes bad, cut again). Yes there are some drugs that may help a person to live longer, but not necessarily with a great life style. Bottom line here is that I am really impressed with those people who stick their necks out to help discover new enjoyments for our life style.

Well it has been 10 days since our new President of the United States has been sworn in(actually two times) to office. Has he made any changes in this short time? The answer is yes, even though some are very subtle and really mean nothing to the every day citizen, i.e. the new dress code that does not require everyone that works in the White House to keep their suit coat on during business hours(a rule of the W. man). Mr. O has even been seen and photographed at his desk without a coat on. Now does this really matter to the citizens of the USA? I don't think so, what I am interested in is the financial crisis we are in, what about the two wars we are in, what about the scum bag CEO's of major corporations that are taking billions of bonus money while their companies lose money and lay thousands off from their jobs. Or get this one, one of the reasons for the billions of dollars lost by the auto makers is because of the huge amounts of money being paid to the unions for the union employees. Now get this, one of the annual payments in their health care plan amounting to $19 million is for Viagra, or called by some as the "get it up pill". So, this is what I want our president to be concerned with and I don't care if he corrects it in his birthday suit!! The obsession with watching the President of the United States has always been a big deal, but with this one it has gone over the edge. Let's hope that he can deliver all that he has promised and the fact that he comes from the most corrupt state in the union should have no bearing on his service, after all Honest Abe was also from Illinois.

The little w.(now so because he is no longer the President of the USA or Commander in Chief) made a flying trip to Midland, Texas in a big jet but not Air Force One, after the inauguration to tell the locals of how good it felt to be home(25,000 showed up for this proclamation). Then after about 30 minutes in the Tall City he loaded up in the multi-million dollar jet and flew to Dallas where he will actually be living in a $2 million house. You didn't think he was actually going to live in the Tall City did you? Can't wait for his book to tell us the real story. The first chapter might be headlined with something like this, "Slick Willey handed me a budget surplus of $128 billion and through my due diligence as president for the next 8 years he grew it to a whopping $438 billion(deficit), but could actually be $750 billion". Then on the other side of the scale the national debt was $5.7 trillion when he took office and when he left it had grown to $10.6 trillion. Are we going backwards here or what? Wow, what success and quite frankly it is giving me a headache. The problem with the national debt is that we owe this to foreign countries and the annual interest is over $660 billion and counting. What a first chapter!!

We just returned from USA Triathlon Regional and National annual meetings that I can proudly say saw our National Federation in excellent financial shape and membership still growing. Many have ask how this is happening with the financial condition of our country. My only comment is that triathlon is a life style sport and no matter what the triathlete is going to swim, bike and run no matter the conditions of the world. They have the same dedication and obsession that Mr. White had when he went below the surface of the earth in a lonely dark cave, just so the rest of the world could follow him. There is no substitute for passion!!

Movie Reviews: "Body of Lies", *, Waste of acting talent(Dicarpio and Crowe) on a story of the Middle East. Enough said, go see or dial into pay for TV at your own risk. Rated PG-for some violence(after all it is the Middle East), and some language.

"Bride Wars", *, a real waste of time. It gets one star because the popcorn was fresh and the coke was cold. Boring, and stupid!! What a combination. Rated: PG-for what reason I don't know, probably because it was so stupid.