Thursday, December 11, 2014

Sunday, January 27, 2013

THE SUN ALSO RISES a book review



Jakes Barnes is our narrator and main character and yet the book revolves around the machinations of Lady Brett Ashley, a beautiful young woman that has everything and yet only wants what she cannot have.  The result of Lady Ashley is that most every man in the book is thrilled and miserable for her existence.  There is a lot of drinking in THE SUN ALSO RISES, that mirrors Ernest Hemingway’s own adventures in France and Spain during the 1920s.   Although Hemingway just liked to drink you get the impression that Hemingway’s characters drink to rid themselves of the pain caused by the oblivious Lady.  

The conventional wisdom of the book seems to be that Jake and Lady Ashley are in love, but unable to consummate their relationship due to Jake’s unspecified war injury.  But it seems to me that Lady Ashley’s love for Jake is precisely because his injury allows her to see herself as some sort of tragic heroine.   For his macho reputation, Hemingway writes very sensitive and complicated men that hide their emotions in booze.   The most outwardly macho of them all, Robert Cohn, is treated as a bully and loathed by everyone by the conclusion.
 
Although Hemingway’s personal adventures in Paris get much ink, I feel that the novel only offers a glimpse of that location.  The sequences in Spain are much more vivid.  You’ll learn how to fish for Spanish trout or how the bulls are herded through town rather than how to get from the Champ Elyse to Notre Dame.   The reader comes away understanding why Hemingway was so invested in the Spanish Civil War.  He really loved that country.  

I don't know whether I would recommend the book to just anyone.  I think you'd need to have some interest in the locales or activities, because the characters aren't exactly inspiring.  Hemingway's short stories from this period seem more thought provoking.

Saturday, October 06, 2012

WILD CARD GAME



The new wildcard format is a ridiculous idea destined to make the World Champion even more random than previous years.  There should never be a one-game playoff except when two teams have identical records at the end of the season.  Baseball has a 162 game schedule and you can't learn anything about the quality of those teams with a one game showdown.  Even the first round of the playoffs should be 4 out of 7 instead of 3 of out 5. 

Last night in Atlanta the umpire made a late call for the infield fly rule and the crowd was livid throwing bottles and other debris onto the field.  Joe Simpson led the announcers in denouncing the crowd.  He called it embarrassing.  That is an easy response watching for the free up in the skybox.  Imagine being a fan spending thousands over the course of the year to support your team and the game all comes down to a questionable call that is never properly explained to the crowd.  Football refs explain every penalty and the umpires would have benefited from the same practice last night.  A call such as that might make a crowd angry in a 4 of 7 series but in the 8th inning of an elimination game it naturally creates mayhem. 

Wednesday, October 03, 2012

1986 World Series and Bill Buckner


I was watching the MLB network over the summer and they were doing the show where Bob Costas looks at Classic Baseball games by showing key moments and interviewing the players in those moments.  There is something about the Game 6 episode of the 1986 World Series that keeps replaying in my head that I wanted to put down for posterity.

A lot of things went right for the Mets in the bottom of the 9th, but they key moment that history remembers is Buckner booting the Mookie Wilson grounder.  Buckner has had to live with that his whole life and it overshadowed his 2700 career hits.  To his credit he doesn't avoid the subject and his honesty about it reminds people that there are things more important than baseball and people who are better men than fielders. 

But this episode also revealed the shortcomings of then Boston manager, John McNamara.  Despite the fact that Mac subbed Dave Stapleton for Buckner in the late innings all through the season and playoffs, his explanation for Buckner in the game at that point was ridiculous.  It’s not hard to speculate that Mac wanted to allow Buckner to be on the field for the final out, but Mac’s explanation (pre-recorded) was that Stapleton was a horrible fielder with the nickname of “shaky.”  The players in the studio were incredulous.  They had never heard Stapleton called that.  And it doesn't explain why Stapleton subbed for Buckner so many times before that.   Whereas Bucker has always taken responsibility and still feels guilty over it, McNamara invents pejorative names for Dave Stapleton.  The contrast between the two is so great that I haven’t been able to forget it since.

The witticism “Sports do not build character, they reveal it” was never so well demonstrated than in the person of John McNamara.  

Friday, April 13, 2012

BEN FRANKLIN SERIAL KILLER OR????

Was our beloved founder a Serial Killer??

"Did America put a serial killer on the $100 bill? Almost certainly not. Continued study of the bones revealed that some of the bones had been sawed through. Others bore the marks of a scalpel. A few of the skulls had been drilled into. The evidence pointed not to murder by Franklin, but anatomical study by his friend William Hewson."

Read the full text here: http://www.mentalfloss.com/blogs/archives/123480#ixzz1rypt3R3v
--brought to you by mental_floss!

Wednesday, April 04, 2012

REAR WINDOW TIME LAPSE


http://www.slate.com/blogs/browbeat/2012/04/03/rear_window_time_lapse_video_watch_jeff_desom_s_brilliantly_remix_of_the_hitchcock_classic_video_.html

OBAMA v SUPREME COURT


I haven't heard anyone in the media mention the significance of Obama not understanding the difference between judicial review and judicial activism. The former is taking a law and weighing it through the words of the constitution and the latter is deciding a law should be written in a way that suits a court. Roe v. Wade was classic judicial activism because it found a federal right to abortion notwithstanding the 10th amendment.

For this to be judicial activism the court will have to mandate a single-payer plan or some other form of healthcare law they approve of in place of the current law. Striking it down isn't activism but review. If they can't do that then for what reason do we even need a supreme court?

Obama's presentation of this issue is significant because he became president with no personal life accomplishments. When I pointed it out it was argued that he was a respected law professor at the University of Chicago. So his most important life accomplishment reflects his inability to explain Marbury v. Madison to his students.

He's a pilot that can't land a plane. But he sounds great calling it in to the air traffic controller.

Saturday, March 31, 2012

100 Skills Every Man should Know

100 Skills Every Man http://www.blogger.com/img/blank.gifShould Know: 2008's Ultimate DIY List from Popular Mechanics Magazine

I was surprised when I read this recently how many of these my grandfathers and grandmothers taught me. Those really were priceless relationships. These skills are most excellent to know. I am still learning many of these and mastering others. Some I have mastered like: carving a turkey, cutting firewood, and shining shoes. It's taken me 42 years to finally feel fully comfortable with being a man. I can't tell you how happy I am really knowing myself now.

TEN THINGS I WISH I COULD TELL EVERY TEENAGE BOY

1. Girls are not a rare commodity. I know it may appear that way right now, but there will come a time when they shall chase you. Then you’ll scratch your head and wonder what happened. Just wait. You get more desirable.

2. Success and confidence are very sexy. The smarter you are, the more consistent you are, the more employed you are, the more creative you are, the more educated you are, the more amazing you become and the more attractive you’ll be.

3. Dress classically. Your friends will tell you to dress trendy. That will fade. You’ll look back at yourself and wonder why you were dressed like such a douche.

4. Society will tell you to avoid being masculine. Our culture continues to clamp down on the masculine as it over exalts the feminine. Just be yourself. Be who you are at your core. Don’t worry about what society tells you. Being a powerful man is a good thing. Being a powerful man is not a crime.

5. Playboy, GQ, MAXIM, Men’s Health, and Penthouse will not tell you how to be a powerful man. Neither will online porn. However, Popular Mechanics and the Bible will. Read both. It’ll help.

6. Speaking of Popular Mechanics, read over their list of 100 Skills Every Man should Master: http://www.popularmechanics.com/home/skills/4281414 Knowing how to do plumbing, a little electrical, build something, and fix minor car issues will have your future spouse drooling over you (in a good way). Having the skills is very impressive to the ladies and to your pals. And it will help during the Zombie Apocalypse.

7. True friends are 4 in the morning friends. Do you have a friend who would get up to help you with almost anything at 4 in the morning? Would that friend help you move? (REMEMBER: Helping you move in the male-friend world is like going “all the way”). Will that friend stand up for you and love you despite differences in belief? Will that friend respect your girl? Is that friend nice to your mom? That’s a true friend. Everyone else is not. Cultivate true friends.

8. Nothing Bad ever lasts. Ever.

9. If you can get through High School, you can get through college. It’s all about picking the major for you. The right major leads to the right career. But remember, you are NOT your career. Work is good. Work is fine. Work will help and work is awesome. BUT, Your work is not who you are. Know who you are as almost anything other than your work. Your 45 year old self will be so grateful.

10. Words are the most powerful things written or spoken. Learn how to master words. Knowing what to say will save your life in love, work, and friendship.

Friday, March 30, 2012

BYE BYE OBAMACARE

Whatever the Court's Ruling, the Political Battle Over Obamacare Has Already Been Lost

I hope so!!

I've gone back and forth over the last couple of years as to what the real thought was behind Obamacare. For all the "Commie" talk about President Obama, the truth is that Obamacare was a pragmatic lefty bit of legislation. They thought by embracing what was originally a Republican idea, "forcing all to buy Health Insurance just like the States do for car insurance will force down over all costs." As many have said, it's a silly solution to a serious issue. The federal government have forced states and any hospital that accepts federal funds of any kind to accept patients who cannot pay. That means we all must foot that bill. The Libertarian response would be to deny everyone free care. Ask yourself this, how many insurance policies would be sold if the states and all hospitals were allowed to turn people away. Much like food, clothing, and shelter, people would find a way. Further, private charities and private donations would certainly cover the costs of many of the very poor. Should there be a real safety net? Certainly. But what Obamacare (and most of Obama policies ensure) is enslavement and dependence for the middle class. President Obama wants to convince the middle class they too are part of the great "unwashed masses" and therefore must vote democrat forever.

The Liberal media has been fun to watch through all this. They are shocked SHOCKED that the Supreme Court will likely strike down all or part of Obamacare. Shocked that their lefty central planning isn't actually what the founding fathers wanted after all. They are shocked that the 7/10 people are actually quite satisfied and happy with their health care. And shocked that all their work to take over 1/5 the nation's economy may soon go up in smoke. Regardless of the election out come in November, the American people and SCOTUS have simply rejected lefty micromanagement of our lives.

Thursday, March 01, 2012

February 2012 Media Log


All Caps, bold:  MOVIE
All Caps, TV SERIES
Italics: Book
Quotation marks “Play”
Italics, quotation marks:  Short Story
-------------------------------------------------------------------


FEB 1BRIDESMAIDS
Surprisingly funny and only over the top in a few places.  Superior to farces like THE HANGOVER.  

FEB 3WALLACE AND GROMIT CURSE OF THE WERERABBIT
All ages can enjoy these characters and the latest may be the best yet.  

FEB 4CHICKEN RUN
Entertaining although I remember it being a bit better on my first viewing.

FEB 5To Have and Have Not by Ernest Hemingway

The first half of the book is a classic and the movie used the best scenes.  The second half of the novel is less interesting although the key moment with Harry Morgan was borrowed for the 1948 Bogart film, Key Largo.  A better ending could have made this another Hemingway classic work.

FEB 6BIG LEBOWSKI
Still funny after all these years.  Quotable to the end.  I saw it for the first time with Sir Saunders on my 29th birthday, a doubleheader with PRIMARY COLORS. 

FEB 11 GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATOO  (U.S.)
There aren't a lot of differences between the Swedish and American movies.  They both hit the big plot points.  I think the main difference is the relationship between the Lisabeth and the mukraker.  Daniel Craig seems more self-assured than the Swedish actor.   Both are worth watching.

FEB 12EX MRS. BRADFORD
Classic William Powell detective novel with Jean Arthur in the Myrna Loy role.  Powell is Dr. Bradford, the suspect forced into clearing his good name.  Jean Arthur is the title character trying to worm her way back into Powell's heart.  Fun all the way through.  

FEB 14This is a Book by Demetri Martin
The closest thing to Woody Allen's early prose than anything I have ever read.  Each chapter is a stand along story of comic inspiration.  His Genie FAQ was especially funny.  

FEB 16Up in the Air by Walter Kim
A rare example of a decent book turned into a better movie.  They share the premise of a man trying to reach his frequent flyer milestone, but the book is more slice of life and about how he is looking forward to a life without flying whereas George Clooney lives to be in the air.  The other characters are drawn much better in the movie, which says a lot for Jason Reitman.  

FEB 22THE THIRD MAN
The real challenge with this film is whether you get a clean print with synched audio.  Thankfully Turner Classic Movies provided it.  It hardly gets any better than the Orson Wells reveal.  Great film making. 

FEB 24 – THE GODFATHER
Tricia's first viewing was courtesy of HD.  The three hours really flew by.  A great great movie every time.  I love the scene where Sterling Hayden punches Michael, because I already know the revenge.   

FEB 25 – LIFE’S TOO SHORT
Warrick Davis plays the title Dwarf to great humor.  Ricky Gervais and Steven Merchant play themselves. Liam Neeson guests stars as himself in this episode where he asks Ricky to help him become a comic.  Hilarious Stuff.  

FEB 26 - The Empty Copper Sea by John D. MacDonald
One of the later Travis McGee stories has Travis and the ever-ready Meyer travel to the gulf coast to clear the name of an old friend.  Unlike other private eyes, there are hints that McGee is aging and his hi-jinks can't last forever.  Every one of these novels has a sort of political statement, but the one he drops here has me shaking my head.  McGee laments that county sheriffs are elected rather than appointed and labels it a right-wing thing.  He'd rather have a boost to the "good ole boy" network by letting them decide?  

FEB 28 - Meltdown by Thomas F. Woods Jr.
Thomas Woods lays the blame on the housing crisis on the doorstep of the Fed.  Their cheap money through low interest rates set the table for the shenanigans.  Taking us off the gold standard not only devalued our money but allowed the government to control the money supply at will.  He makes a decent case that the Fed has been more trouble than it's worth.  It's been robbing us for years and making our savings worthless.  We are either better off spending what we have or risking it in a volatile stock market because inflation with eat it away otherwise.   But I didn't come away totally convinced that the government couldn't have caused the housing problems with a Federal Reserve system.  Politicians still would have pressured banks to make bad loans and those bad loans still would have skewered the market.   

Monday, February 13, 2012

POLITICAL MODERATES

POLITICAL MODERATES

Among candidates, pollsters, and the media, the holy grail of winning elections is winning moderates.  Yet I think the conventional wisdom of the experts misses what is significance about moderates.      

The media tends to see all elections according to ideology and they thus see independents and moderates as people looking for the middle ground.  I tend to think it's probably true for a percentage of moderates, but I think the majority of true moderates (Or at least enough to swing an election) are that way because ideology isn't a big concern.  By not feeling strongly about the issues they can instead focus on the human beings running for office.  That is consistent with how the electorate rarely chooses the President with the worst personality.  You have to go back to 1972 to find the more affable guy losing.   

It also explains how a media cultivated moderate like John McCain could lose to a community organizer and friend of radicals.  I think the real swing voter doesn't care where you stand on any particular issue, but knows that he'll have to hear you talk for the next 4 years and wants the guy who is the least grating.  Maybe candidates, pollsters, and the media know this at heart, but also know that their work would be meaningless if they embraced it.  It also explains how hard the Left comes down especially hard on likeable candidates like Sarah Palin or Herman Cain, either of which could match Obama in the personality department.  Considering who the Republicans have left, if Obama loses the election then it will be bucking the personality trend and that would say a lot about how worried people are for their future. 

Friday, February 10, 2012

NO CHILD LEFT BEHIND

I was talking to a co-worker yesterday whose wife is a teacher and he was complaining about NCLB.  From what I have seen on Facebook it's almost universal among teachers that NCLB results in teachers spending too much time doing things that aren't teaching kids.  I am immediately sympathetic to the idea that it mismatches priorities.  And then I think about it and I realize that although I am producing a weekly TV show I spend far less time working on content and far more time keeping track of budgets and reporting progress.  It's sort of like the question of whether a tree falling in an uninhabited woods makes a sound.  It doesn't matter if no one hears it.  In the corporate world the decision makers want to see the process unfold through a series of guidelines and measurements.  This is especially true when the decision makers have no intimate knowledge with the actual work.  Taxpayers are increasingly demanding the same kind of accountability probably due to their own experiences of living in this kind of world.  

The resulting anger over NCLB is really a result of differing expectations that can't be resolved with one another.

1.  Most agree that children need an education that will prepare them for the real world.
2.  Politicians promise with enough funding government run schools can reach 100% competency among the youth.
3.  Tax payers expect to know whether the money and teaching methods are producing measurable results.

For most of our history people have expected the first and believed the argument of the second.  As literacy rates have fallen and our schools have become dangerous and the rest of the western world beats us in competency, taxpayers have invoked #3.  

Rather than address the cause of our education problems, school systems have spent the extra funding to game the results by teaching the methods of the measurement rather than the content.  It seems perverted if you think that we are all in agreement of the importance of #1.  But what this process has taught us is that school administrators are not focused on #1.  They are focused on competing with other bureaucrats over their measurement numbers.  They are typical careerists like so many others.  It's a good reminder when someone tells you that the government should run healthcare because it's too important of a thing for someone to profit from.  Because of NCLB, the school systems have showed that you don't need the profit motive for organization leaders to put self-interested over children.

The best way to improve education is to make everyone focus on #1.  What incentive could you give government bureaucrats to make that their focus?  The only one I can think of is the portability of education dollars.  When parents can put their kids into schools that share their goals, schools management will align themselves with the expectations of their customers.  Until they are forced to do that they will put their energy instead toward competing with other bureaucrats.  
    


Wednesday, February 01, 2012

JANUARY 2012 MEDIA LOG


JANUARY 2012 MEDIA LOG

All Caps, bold:  MOVIE
All Caps, TV SERIES
Italics: Book
Quotation marks “Play”
Italics, quotation marks:  Short Story
-------------------------------------------------------------------


JAN 2 – THE HELP

The good guys and bad guys reveal themselves early on and only allow for a nuance or two through the film.  The acting is better than the other typical Hollywood productions and that's where its legacy lies.  Although Jessica Chastain seems to be a bit overpraised for a character I have seen so many times.  Maybe I will appreciate her more when I have this to compare to TREE OF LIFE.  

JAN 3 – Hemingway’s Boat by Paul Hendrickson

A biography of Hemingway using his boat as the unifying force in his life.  The boat device would give you the idea that the book has a thin premise when it's really a pretty thorough biography of those twenty yeas of his life.  It was refreshing to read a biography where the author enjoys Hemingway's writing enough that he doesn't spend the lion share of the book trashing him.  Faults?  Yes.  Monster?  Hardly. 

JAN 7 – CONTAGION

Another solid effort from Soderbergh.  It reunites that Cast of Talented Mr Ripley and then some.  I like it most for surprising us about the characters.  Big stars die and the kinds of characters that might portrayed as sages in other movies are shown to be charlatans here.  

JAN 8 - IDES OF MARCH

Clooney takes the risky chance of directing himself as a not so idealistic politician.  Gosling carries the film more or less with great efforts by Giamatti and PS Hoffman.  

JAN 15 - DRIVE

Stylistic fun amid the grime and dirtbags in the city. Gosling's proves here that he can be play stoic in the vein of McQueen or Russell Crowe.

JAN 16 – BEAUTY AND THE BEAST (Disney)

I took Abby to see the re-release in non 3-D. 

JAN 18 – CALIFORNICATION (2)

The show does characters and dialogue as good as any show on TV, and yet it strives for unnecessary shock value every week.  Like NIP/TUCK they seem to want to touch upon every degradation before they finish.  

JAN 22 – XMEN 4

I can appreciate that it was better than the third film, but I'm getting so tired of comic book movies I was happy when it ended.  

SMOKEY AND THE BANDIT

The comedy that launched numerous imitation especially by Reynolds himself.  The movie is a classic and yet the cause of Reynolds uneven career thereafter.  

JAN 23 – THE DESCENDANTS

I haven't seen the Artist, but it would surprise me if I liked it more than the latest Alexander Payne effort.  Payne has an unusual talent for mixing realism and comedy.  He strikes gold again here.  

JAN 24 - Piece of my Heart by Robert Wagner

RJ tells us about his life spent in and around Hollywood.  I was most interested in his description of the Spencer Tracy mentorship and the strength of the story made me stick around and read the rest.   

JAN 25 –CASINO JACK, CALIFORNICATION (1)

Kevin Spacey plays Jack Abrahamoff in a sympathetic manner placing most of the blame on his partner Barry Pepper and Republicans in general.  I'm sure Spacey is dying to bring a Tony Rezko movie to the screen.  

JAN 26 - Rendezvous with Destiny by Craig Shirley

Shirley's in-depth description of the 1980 campaign and Reagan's journey is one of the best political histories that I have read.  On that same list is Shirley's book on 1976.  I was too young to follow this campaign day to day and the seeing how it came about explained a lot about the personalities that came to national light here and would remain in the spotlight into this century. 

JAN 28 - THE D.I.

Dad saw Jack Webb present this movie in a Chicago Premiere back in 1957, but it rarely comes on television so this was my first viewing.  Webb starred and directed this story about a marine Drill Instructor and how he turns a bunch of kids into Marines.  Webb is surprisingly effective as the sergeant.  I was expecting the campiness of his latter day Dragnet, but the opposite was true.  You can trace R. Lee Ermey's performance in FULL METAL JACKET back to this.  In fact, Ermey may have very well used Webb as a guide to his own days as a Marine Sergeant.  The movie doesn't look down on the military or have any sassy Mathew Modine characters.  It really makes you admire the men who make the Marines.  

JAN 30 – Pauline Kael:  A Life in the Dark by Brian Kellow

Pauline Kael is fun to read even if you disagree with her views.  And I frequently thought she missed the boat.  One thing she wrote that I thought was right-on was her assessment that when you are young you like everything you see because it's all new to you.  As you get older and more discriminating you start to judge movies and genres by your overall film knowledge.  This book is a good comprehensive biography of her life mixing her writing and its impact with her personal trials along the way.  I was surprised that her famous feud with Andrew Sarris was something Kael ignored after she wrote one article attacking the auteur theory.    Like a lot of celebrity biographies you come away glad you didn't know Kael personally while happy that she left her film reviews to history. 

Sunday, November 20, 2011

GOSSIP by Joseph Epstein ( A Book Review)

As the subject for a full length book, Gossip doesn’t hold much interest for me. But I read everything Joseph Epstein writes and I have not yet been disappointed. Epstein doesn’t tend to write definitive books on subjects, but thoughtful ones. He explores his experience with a topic and the history of it. Why do we like gossip? How is gossip beneficial and how is it hurtful? How has it been used for good and bad. Sprinkled through this history of gossip public and private are personal anecdotes, some involving notable figures.

 To summarize the section involving gossip in America, Epstein quotes Ben Franklin, the original gossip columnist in his opinion, “…if any are offended by my publicity their private vices, I promise they shall have satisfaction, in a very little time, of their good friends and neighbors in the same circumstances.” Later Epstein shows how high society in 20th Century America sought out the attention of gossip columnists and how Hollywood moguls fed gossip to Hedda Hopper and Louella Parsons to promote their films and worry their wayward stars. He shows how Walter Winchell used his gossip column to become one of the most power private citizens in the country and how that hubris eventually led to his downfall. What about modern gossip? 
Like me, Epstein doesn’t recognize most of the names in The New Your Post’s Page 6 Column, but he can see that gossip isn’t about to go out of fashion.

 You come away not sure how much Epstein endorses gossip or dislikes it. But you have a much fuller knowledge of the subject before you began the book. Even if you are not interested in gossip pick up a book of essays by Joseph Epstein and enjoy a great mind at work and play.