Monday, December 17, 2012

Am I getting through......

    Hello Grandma,

       I guess it's been a little longer than usual since we talked. I'll take the blame for that, but I have been busy. It's nice being close to you and Grandpa and I promise to bring you guys flowers before Christmas. I don't know where to begin this letter, but I figured it would be easy to talk to you. You always said that you were from the "old school," and it sure seems like this world could use some of that. It's no secret that I haven't been much of a fan of Christmas since you passed. It just feels like a reminder of the fact that you're not here anymore. A little selfish, but sometimes you can't help how you feel.

      After this past Friday, I am sure there will be a few people who feel the same as me. I am not sure if you know or not, but a group of innocent elementary school kids were killed by a lunatic. Teachers did their best to protect them, but there wasn't anything that they could do. I remember when you would walk me to school from time to time. Back then I don't think anyone would even consider something like this happening. The small town removed their Christmas decorations and have been trying to make sense of the madness. I don't know if they will ever be able to.

    I am not sure you would like the world that we live in now. Schools have plans in place in the event someone goes crazy and starts shooting. The only plans the used to need were tornado and fire drills. I remember begging you and grandpa for G.I. Joe toys and now kids beg for Facebook accounts and cell phones. I forgot, you probably don't know what Facebook is. It was meant to be away for people to interact with each other, but these days it seems more like a place for people to act more immature than school kids.

  I remember you watching the news when you woke up and before you went to bed. These days the news is reported faster by the average person with a cell phone than any television network. I know, it's pretty scary. I don't think you would like the news. Negative stories seem to sell more and it feels like we don't care about "feel good stories" anymore. We are constantly being told about the economy being bad, wars around the world, and now children being massacred. I don't know if you would watch. Reporters frantically tried to track down parents and friends of dead children to get a story. I work in the media and have never been so ashamed. Human decency sometimes takes a back seat to better headlines. When did that become the norm?

  You would say that "it's a shame," and you would be right. I don't know if it's the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary or the time of year that made me think about my childhood. I remember walking the streets of Cincinnati and we went to stores and were happy to have simple things. I am not sure that the new generation understands what simple things are? The world has become a place where we are judged by our material possessions. I am not sure that people know how to treat each other anymore. I remember you used to talk to everyone when we were out. I never understood why, but when I was at your funeral I met the lady who served you your cheese coney for lunch and the grocery workers who knew you from Kroger. It's sad, but I am not sure people in the world talk to strangers very much. People now a days would rather judge them without really getting to know them based solely on the way they look.

  I remember we always tried to buy you knew clothes but you never wore them. I realize now that you always felt like there wasn't anything wrong with what you had. You wouldn't like the fact that we are judged by how good or bad we look. It's a shame. I am willing to bet that kids are more confused than ever. I had friends from all walk of life. Some were poor and others were rich. We were just kids and how we looked wasn't really a top priority. We played with sticks, we laughed, were home before the street lights came on, and sometimes we fought. We disagreed. We fought and we made up. We were occasionally bullied, but never once thought about shooting or killing the bully. Times have certainly changed.

  You and grandpa put up with a lot. I remember the only time in my life that He spanked me. I must have really been bad because he was too much of a gentle giant to ever raise a hand. You wouldn't like today's world. People don't discipline their kids the same. Parental experts will tell you how to punish kids properly, and who knows they might be right. I am no expert and neither were you, but the world was a lot safer and kids understood the concept of respect when the "experts" minded their own business. Maybe there is something to be said for picking a "switch" from the backyard.

   It is certainly a different world. There are people who are considered celebrities for reasons we will never know. When people need attention they post videos of themselves regardless of how ridiculous they look. You never even used your VCR. The world is different and even though you wouldn't like it, I would sure give anything to have you in it. I wish everyone would've experienced the simple joy that a little boy felt riding the bus with his grandma. The time spent together being worth more than any toy or materialistic thing. Coming home has made me a better person. I look at the world through eyes that have become more humble. I don't know why that is, but I have learned to be less judgemental. If I can, so can anyone. 

   Mom seems to be well and Diana is taking things day by day. I don't think I will ever look at the holidays the same. A little boy I met a couple of times lost his battle with cancer recently. He had this thing about paying it forward. I have been trying to do that. I hope you are proud of who I have become. I am certainly not perfect, but I haven't grown up yet. Seeing the city reminds me of all the good times that we had. I would trade all the presents in the world for one of those days. I might even make a video and post it on You Tube. It wouldn't mean much to other people, but it would generate a million hits from me alone. You probably don't understand what I am talking about and that's OK. We could learn a lot from the "old school." They certainly have plenty to teach us if we just take the time to listen and pay attention. Listen. Now that is an interesting concept.

   I don't know if I have ever told you thank you, but I meant to everyday. I hope you and grandpa are in a good place. Please feel free to look in on me time to time. I have a pretty good life. I am still the little boy who walked to the bus stop at the end of Ferdinand Place. The little boy who ate two cheese coneys on a plate and begged for a quarters to play video games. The little boy fought with his sister, cut your grass, and somewhere along the way learned a little bit about responsibility. I am not fine, but I'm doing OK.

Your loving grandson


Friday, December 7, 2012

Is this thing on ?!!

  Once again people lost their jobs in the industry that I love. It is my sincerest hope that they all bounce back quickly. We are all only as good as our last show.It truly sucks that people continue to lose jobs. I am thrilled to have been able to keep mine and I still believe in this medium. I am not sure people really understand the industry and the jobs that a lot of us do. On the outside it's glamorous. We talk to celebrities from time to time. We are part of very cool events. We play music and rarely purchase our own. We grant people huge prizes and converse with a wide variety of lifestyles. All of this while only working a few hours. Everyone wants to be a DJ right?

 There was a time a few years back when it was a true privilege to be able to "crack a mic." I still believe that it is. This industry was hard to get into. Stations ran fast and furious and clothed entire families with their logo t-shirts. We broke the artists we wanted and shelved the ones we didn't. As an industry, we were on fire. The cool thing about radio was the fact that everyday people could talk to who ever was on the air. One phone call to request a song or to weigh in on a discussion and you became part of it. Something that is hard to do with television. Radio is show business. The stuff between the records, the events, and the fact that we are the link between the everyday person and the stars. It's a cool job and I get excited talking about it still.

 People rarely get to see the people behind the music and the microphones. On the record side, the people who "push spins," constantly travel. They take calls day and night. They are always feeling like they are in the middle of a closing vice because the industry needs the next hit. They get pulled in a thousand different directions and sometimes are greeted with "what can you do for me now," instead of  "thank you."

 When the microphone gets shut off it's a different story. We all work more than 4 hours a day and our job does tend to become out lives. People believe that we make a million dollars a year when in fact, most are grossly underpaid. Some of us have lived in 5 cities in four years and others are "lifers" in the same place.
There are those of us who are paid substantial amounts of money to literally read from a piece of paper and then there are those who sweat it out for next to nothing for the love of the game.

 In 2008 the radio industry really started cutting back. Fewer people and lots of job loss. Nearly every company is guilty of it. Many do not realize that radio is a advertising business. People hate commercials, but if we don't sell enough then we don't make money. Simple formula. Radio companies made massive cuts a few years ago and they have continued. The record industry has suffered for awhile as well. Napster didn't revolutionize the industry. It mostly hurt it. I-tunes is doing the same thing. People somehow developed this attitude that music should be free or close to it. We don't buy Cd's anymore. We download songs. The record industry to is shrinking. Leaving both sides with one dreadful thing in common. Fear. We all work realizing that it could all go away at anytime. That is the reality.

 We have the honor of being let into people's everyday lives. We are ,if nothing else, disposable. It's hard for people to see what our world is like. There are plenty of haters. People who either used to work in the industry or those who never got the chance. We are sometimes told that we suck. There are always those who don't mind letting us know that they could do better. They tell us we aren't as good as the person we replaced. In some cases they are right, but it doesn't mean that we don't try to win them over day after day even if it is an exercise in futility.People think they know us because they hear our opinions, but the truth is they do not. They don't see the long hours and the difficulty that some of us face. They don't realize the fear that looms of job loss that we all face. The radio is now sounding different all the time and it's not because of the music.

It sucks that the world is the way that it is. People say that the radio DJ is a dying breed and I couldn't disagree more. The industry is changing, but not dying. There is Internet and satellite, but when most of us get in the car we listen. We listen to a group of individuals who truly love what they do. Strip away the fear, glamour, and change and you will find love. There are those of us who knew they wanted this when they were kids and others like myself who found it while looking for a path to walk. It is truly something that gets inside and doesn't. We have no "off season," and the best of us continue to provide new content daily without the benefit of writers.

  We develop a connection with people from all walks of life. We are granted the power to influence their opinions,lifestyle purchases, relationships, and what they might be eating for lunch. We come together to help those in need and we also simply just tell you what the song you just heard was. I wish that there were more like us. A group of people who truly love what they do. It is a job that is not easy to walk away from. It is not always glamorous. We are not all rich. Rude comments can sting. We are believers that our industry will see good times again. Whether by age, boredom, corporate decision, or personal choice we will eventually turn the mic off for good. All of us will remember the lives we touched along rhe ride. This is the greatest job in the world. We get to talk and are privileged that you take the time to listen.

Playing for ......Straight to video by February

  A good romantic comedy hasn't been seen in a while. Let me start over. A good "mass appeal" romantic comedy hasn't happend in a while. A strong cast, heart warming story, and the holiday season should be a recipe for success. You would think. The latest romantic comedy to cross our paths is Playing For Keeps.
Gerard Butler, Jessica Biel,Catherine Zeta-Jonesm and Dennis Quaid seems like a solid cast, but this movie centered around soccer just doesn't score.

A former soccer star who's fallen on hard times starts coaching his son's soccer team as a way to get his life together. His attempts to become an adult are met with challenges from the attractive soccer moms who pursue him at every turn. Sounds like fun, right?  It should be. Gerard messed up his marriage and now wants to win back his wife and son. Biel is the ex and Noah Lomax is the son. I can't say I hated it, but I just didn't like it.

 The problem is chemistry. I just didn't see any between Biel and Butler. The best romantic comedys have amazing chemistry between leads. Cruise and Zellwegger in Jerry McGuire, Roberts and Gere in Pretty Woman, and even Gibson and Hunt in What Women Want. Chemistry is the biggest problem with Playing For Keeps. Butler is great with the kids and it isn't miserable to watch, but you are left not really caring how it works out.

 The story may have more appeal to soccer fans, but that's it. This time I suggest watching an old favorite or just see Twilight again. Playing for Keeps just doesn't score.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Red Dissapointment

  In 1984 the world was a different place. The fear of Russia was at an all time high and a movie came out that made us believe that we could be invaded. Red Dawn was the first movie released with a PG-13 rating.
A group of Colorado teens take to the mountains to defend the land they love. Patrick Swayze and Charlie Sheen led this band of freedom fighters and it was if nothing else very cheesy fun. The original had one thing that the new version lacks, but we aren't there yet.

 It's 2012 and America is attacked by the North Korea. Nato has issues. We have no allies. America is hit by an electric pulse and we are invaded. Chris Hemsworth returns from a tour of duty in Afghanistan to lead a new group of teens. They too head into the woods and attempt to form a resistance against their North Korean Overlords.  They bicker, fight, and become soldiers. They are only kids , but they must defend their homes and make contact with groups like them across the country. They get help along the way from a small Special Forces Unit led by Jeffery Dean Morgan.

 This was kept on the shelf for awhile and made before Helmsworth became Thor. It shows. The cast is horrible. Connor Cruise, the adopted son of Tom, makes his acting debut and isn't bad. He and Helmsworth are the only good members of the cast. There is so much wrong with this film. An electronic pulse hits the U.S. but cell phones still work?  Suburban High School kids immediately become experts with military grade weapons? There are so many things that just don't make sense.

 There are a few surprises, but for the most part this film is a failure. The original was cheesy, but there was something about it that made it fun to watch. Helmsworth is not Swayze and that is OK. The biggest difference was the original had heart and this one simply doesn't. Wait for video. Netflix it. See something else in theaters or just skip it all together. You won't miss it. Trust me.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Twilight:Breaking Dawn 2 ....Is it worth taking a bite?

    The final chapter in the vampire saga is upon us. The "Twi-Hards" are rabid, but Stephanie Meyer wrote a vampire tale that leaves out a few key parts of being a vampire. They don't sparkle in the sun, they die a fiery death. The second key part missing is the fact that vampirism is a curse. Purist will need to set that fact aside. Twilight wasn't written for the purist. It was a love story written for girls. The final chapter finally hits theaters and the big question is, will it deliver?

  The film picks up where the last leaves off. Bella is now a vampire and has to deal with life among the undead. She also has a daughter that is half human and half immortal. Bella spends the first part of the film learning to hunt and about being a vampire as well as dealing with Jacob, who has imprinted on Renesme. She also has to deal with Charlie who cannot know that she is a vampire.

 The other problem is the evil Volturi. The governing body of undead who enforce vampire law. They are wrongfully informed that Bella and Edward created a vampire child. This is against the law and is punishable by death. The Cullen's begin a race around the globe to find other vampires to stand with them and protect those they love.

 Is it a fitting conclusion or a sub par ending?

      Let's start with what worked. Michael Sheen. He is so good a quirky. Sheen has done such a great job of balancing the comic mime style remnant of a early cinema movie actor with pure evil. Aro has an agenda beyond vampire law and he is brilliant whenever on screen. Stephanie Meyer may have the vampire myths a bit wrong, but she did write a quality villain.

       The relationship between Jacob and Renesme also plays well. You tread dangerous ground when having a teenage boy in love with a child, but for whatever reason the magic seems to work. This is the first movie where I actually liked Taylor Lautner. The previous four movies had too much why can't she love me and in this Jake finally got over that. The reveal to Charlie was entertaining and the complexity between he and Edward was enter training to watch. There is talk of a spin off with Jacob and a fully aged Renesme. Good luck with that.

   I enjoyed the other vampires. Carlisle introduces us to a bigger world than what we have seen in the past. The different vampires from all walks of life were entertaining to watch on screen and I was hoping for more of them. The Revolutionary War Vet, the Amazon Women, and the Irish family were all fun additions to the cast. The one flaw with a bigger cast is that screen time suffers. I missed Alice and it felt like there were people fighting for lines and things to do.

  I think my biggest problem with Breaking Dawn 2 was the same that I had with the previous films. Kristen Stewart is hard to like. She looked a little better this time around, but she seems to deliver lifeless performances. Insert vampire jokes there. She never looks like she wants to be there. I wish they would have cast differently from the beginning. I will say she is consistent. She is boring in every film I have seen her in. Twilight has at least surrounded her with a strong supporting cast. I might be in the minority here, but the girls I sat next to said they would have cried had her personal life not affected their opinions of her.

   The film does end in a very classy way by reintroducing and crediting the previous casts. There are some twists that are not in the book, but play well on screen. The Twilight Saga, like all franchises, has come to an end. It has been a series that will be credited for breathing some life into the vampire genre. It made young girls cry, sold millions of books, created superstars , and ultimately entertained all walks of life. The film will not get any Oscar love and will most likely be forgotten when the next craze hits. Twi-hards will love it and whether they are Team Edward, Team Jacob, or Team Who Cares Breaking Dawn Part Two does a good job of closing the book.


Thursday, November 8, 2012

Bond...a better Bond?

    Bond is back. Bankruptcy threats left the franchise in limbo since the last outing a few years back, but the latest adventure of Ian Fleming's Super Spy comes back strong.  In the past I have been very critical of the direction of the franchise. I was a fan of Casino Royale, but I didn't feel that Daniel Craig was capturing the essence of the character. I was irritated at the blatant product placement. Bond drinking a Heineken. Bond driving a Ford! I just didn't think Craig was smooth enough in his first two outings. I was ready to see the Bond we all loved.

   Skyfall opens with an older Bond on the job. He and a female agent are tracking a list of the identities of undercover agents that had fallen into the wrong hands. Sounds very Mission Impossible, but I let it slide. Great visuals and an exciting train chase lead to MI-6 failing to complete the mission and an injured Bond going off the grid. Bond returns to find the British Government under attack from the inside. M, played again by Judi Dench is being threatened and the list is still in the open.
 Bond is introduced to a new younger Q and we are off. The adventure stretches from Shanghai to Scotland. We meet new girls, face down a new villain, and learn about Bond's past. Can Bond save the world again? Will some of our favorite characters survive? What is Skyfall?

  The best thing about Bond has always been charismatic villains. Skyfall more than delivers with Javier Bardem as Silva. The rogue MI-6 agent hell bent on revenge. The hair is strange, the mannerisms are quirky, and is brilliant whenever he's on screen. He borders between, playful, like able, and pure psychotic.

  It wouldn't be Bond without the Bond girls. There will always be a lot to live up to. I am still partial to Eva Green and Halle Berry, but Naome Harris and Berenice Marlohe hold their own. The latter being incredibly seductive. Naome turns out to be a beloved Bond character, but I will let you see for yourself who it ends up being.  Ralph Fiennes and Albert Finney have great minor rolls and Judi Dench is still the perfect M.

 One of the great things about Bond is the gadgets. Bringing back the classic Aston Martin is so much fun and awesome to see on screen again. This time out the gadgets are simple, but still fun. I think why I liked Skyfall so much was Bond. We get a peek into his past and we see Daniel Craig finally start to be Bond. The martini is there and we finally see him becoming smooth. I think the best quality of Bond was the way he defines smooth. It took three films, but we finally see it.

  Skyfall is a bit long, but the fun more than makes up for it. A good story. A great villain. This movie feels like an origin story in some places, but it definitely leaves you wanting more. It might be the best Bond in quite some time. Skyfall leaves Fleming's British Super Spy staring down a few more years of a very successful franchise.


Tuesday, November 6, 2012

It's an Election!

                It’s Election Day and it’s very tough. Whichever candidate wins we are still hurting. The country is a wreck and you can’t make everyone happy. We owe money. A good job is hard to find. It’s easy to wonder if America is even the leader anymore.  
                I would certainly never want to be anything other than American and I am not bashing our great land, but we got some problems. We are one of the richest countries in the world and yet so many go without. Greed has over run this land to a point beyond sickening. Major corporations want more and care less about who they step on to get it.  I am not one to suggest giving everything away, but you would think that we could find a middle ground.
                This generation has known nothing but war. We need to protect ourselves and worse we have put our fighting men and women in harm’s way for a war we should never have fought that has cost us astronomical amounts of money.  The War on Terror might be one that we will never win. We as a country have spent too many years getting involved in everyone else’s issues.  I wish we would worry about our own house before we start redecorating our neighbors.
                Our country, which was once a melting pot, has become a place where kids are bullied for simply being different.  Violence is more widespread than it has been in years. Schools have metal detectors and good teachers are eclipsed by the ones who have given up the fight. There was a time when we learned tolerance and that seems to be a forgotten concept in so many places.
                This nation needs a reset. It will not happen regardless of who is in office. Washington needs to be clean swept. Special Interest Groups, Political Agendas, and probably a lot of congressmen and women need to be ejected. People on both sides need to come together and fix the country.  This land and its people deserve better than the cards we have been dealt.  Politicians are part of the blame and the people are the other. When things go good we never question. When they go bad we point fingers. It’s already too late at that point.  
                People say things were better when Clinton was in office. Those people are correct, but we can’t go back. I wish sometimes that we could. The only option is to go forward.  I hope that when you went to the voting booths that you were making a decision. A decision that you think is right for you. An educated choice base not on what other people think, but what feel best about.
                We still have a long way to go. This country is still the best one on the planet and has so much more to offer. There is a dream that was America. It would be nice to see it come true.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

In the Looper?

    Joseph Gordon Levitt is quickly becoming a bigger name. Inception, The Dark Knight Rises, and now Looper. The time travel thing has been a science fiction staple for years. It is a concept that people love, but it can also become very complex when we start to consider possible outcomes. The idea of going back in time to alter the future never seems to get old in Hollywood and Looper is the latest attempt.
    In the future the mob rules and illegal time travel is there new way of eliminating problems. Problems meaning people. Loopers are guys who, for a few bars of silver, literally blow away returning marks with a large shotgun type weapon called a "blunderbuss." They work until their contracts are cancelled and their future selves are sent back for elimination. They are awarded with gold bars and thirty more years of life. JGL plays a drug addicted looper who has some issues. He wants to save enough money to go to Paris. He's in love with a stripper, and is pretty good at his job. Eventually ,after trying to help a fellow looper, his own contract is cancelled. He meets his future self and has to hunt him down. Easier said than done because his future self is bent on killing the future mob boss while he is still a boy. The older version believes that doing this creates a better future. Throw in the fact that some people are born telekinetic and you have Looper.
   The concept is actually kind of cool. You have to pay attention. JGL seems to get better with every movie. He and Bruce Willis are an interesting paring. I don't think they really look alike, but there is enough resemblance to make the film work. It's an interesting movie considering both of them are right in their beliefs. You never really know what repercussions your actions will cause and the movie plays off of that.

  I liked Bruce Willis. He is starting to show his age, but he still carries the swagger for this type of role. I guess not everything can be Die Hard. He is ruthless when he needs to be, but still maintains the level of humanity. Jeff Daniels is great as the looper boss. He is so awesome on The Newsroom and you can tell he took this gig just to have some fun. I was also very cool with the over all concept of the film. The little boy was adorable. He reminded me of Ray from Jerry Maguire. The telekinetic effects were good for the limited budget.

 The film was missing a more dynamic follow up cast. I wasn't impressed with Emily Blunt. It just felt like this simply wasn't her type of movie. She didn't come across as believable to me and I'm sure some will disagree. I wasn't impressed with Piper Perabo either. She never really seemed to look comfortable in her stripper role. She bares a lot, but I wasn't buying into it. I feel the two biggest problems were pretty obvious. The first was the futuristic world. It seemed too small. The world in Total Recall looked better that this. It was too Children Of The Corn and it should have been more Blade Runner. Hell, I'd settle for Minority Report. The over all look was lacking.  The second major flaw was a villain. Jeff Daniels is cool, but not a menacing villain. When one is being hunted the audience should be afraid of the hunter, but that doesn't happen here.

   Looper is better than most would expect. It can get a little confusing, but it also is a little entertaining. I wouldn't call it a blockbuster, but it certainly isn't "lackluster."

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Shouldn't we take a closer look?

   It's an election year, which I must admit really scares me. This is not a rant about who you should vote for. I am not gonna to preach to you about who I am going to vote for. I program a radio station and talk on the air. I don't believe it qualifies me to make those types of important choices for you.
   I guess I am worried because I am not sure anyone has really taken a look at this country that was once such an amazing place to be. I'm not a hater, but I am scared to death that we have looked away from our real problems for far too long. I spend my afternoons trying to make you forget about life for awhile, but sometimes it needs to be looked at and corrected.
   I always said that I would never be one of those people who said, "when I was younger things were much better," but they were. The attitudes in this country are all wrong. We have some how lost touch with reality or worse we are living in a new one. Either way it is a bad path to be on.
  The 90's were not the best decade in the world because of technology and the Internet boom. They were the best because people were happier. People treated each other better. Music was great. Beyond great! I made less than a third of the money I make now and yet somehow I could always go places and do things. Sure I sponged off of my parents a bit, but I still didn't worry about whether or not I could pay my bills.
   The biggest difference between then and now was the attitudes of people. Mainly the young. People generally liked each other. I know what you're saying, "there were riots in L.A." Yep there were, but we were quick to say that it was wrong. We learned a lesson. We were told "NO!"and we listened. I am not sure when it started, but somehow we all got greedy. We started worrying about what our neighbor had and decided we had to have more and better. The need to want more isn't bad, but when it dominates our existence, it's a real problem.
    I learned that I had to work for things. It took a while, but I learned. The one great and bad thing about my job is the interaction with all walks of life. I see kids today that don't learn values. They have somehow come to believe that they are owed something. The word "NO," is not part of their vocab. Parents want to be friends instead of parents. I have no kids. I THANK GOD for that.
    Let's talk about God for a minute. We used to be, " One Nation Under God." We are now a country petrified of prayer until tragedy strikes. I mean no offense, but the people who wear their Christianity on their sleeves seem to be more judgemental than the rest and it never used to be that way. Christianity was never an excuse to avoid people you don't like. News flash...Jesus hung with the lowest class of people. Some of you all might want to learn that.
   We no longer pray in school for fear of offending people. Whether your religious or not, when prayer was in school, there was far less violence. Let's talk about schools. Kids are being beaten, bullied, and ridiculed for trying to figure out who they are. We certainly haven't learned much from the school tragedies that have rocked this nation. We will see another. Promise. When you walk through the malls and schools you can see people judging each other by how they look. I am guilty. I am sure you are too. Parents do not seem to teach their kids to be thankful for what they have and to not throw it in the face of others. Shameful it is.
 It's not the kids fault. Look at what they watch? They are force fed that he or she who has the most and best toys wins. It's not the case. They worship celebrities who beat their significant others and think drug rehab and D.U.I.'s are par for the course. They think that their parents are perfect and they aren't. I don't think any one's are. They seem to think that they don't have to earn respect because they are not taught otherwise.
  We are taught so many different ways of parenting that who knows which is the right way. This country is so far from fixed, but we are constantly trying to tell our neighbor how to decorate their house before we have even decorated our own. It's a metaphor. Figure it out.
   It's an election year and a scary one. This country used to be the home of dreams and now what has it become? The people will vote based on celebrity endorsements and because they hear a speech they like.  We spend our time living the materialistic life under the guise of helping others. Why can't we just be honest enough to say it's ourselves we are helping? We simply turn off the things we don't like and we hide from the issues that we can't deal with.
  The 90's were not perfect. Times like those will probably never come back. Everything is viral in seconds and privacy is hard to come by. Speaking your mind is bold, but often times done for attention and not cause. We have seen dark times, but never truly learned from those trials. Homes are still hard to attain and gasoline is at an all time high again. We borrow, beg, and sometimes steal. We are never satisfied and apparently are too stupid to realize that greed is what got us here. Admiration has become envy and materialism is the new way of life.  Our young don't listen to the word "NO," but we keep telling them yes.
  We raised minimum wage and everything else along with it. We used to be a "melting pot," but now it's such a crime to be a little different. I am not sure what the next thirty years will be like, but it certainly needs some improvement over now. If this truly is the America that was founded on hard work and dreams, can't we do better than this?


Monday, August 20, 2012

Another letter to Grandma


    It was nice to spend some time with you on Saturday. I've been "home" for nearly six months and it's certainly been strange. There are things that are exactly the same and a lot that is different. It's funny how time makes you appreciate things. I'll be another year older tomorrow, but I am still very much the little boy that didn't grow up.

  Walking through Oakley still makes me feel like the little boy who used to spend his summer days taking a bus all over the city with you. That little boy always knew that a G.I. Joe or Star Wars toy would come at the end of the trip, but it's the man that now just appreciates that time together. I would trade all the wealth in the world for another day like that.

  I walked through the little town that you and Grandpa are resting in and I cannot believe how much it looks the same. Some of the stores are gone, but the little restaurant where you would take me for lunch is still there. I didn't eat there, but I remember playing songs on the jukebox and crinkle cut french fries.

 It was a much more simple time then. I remember when you would tell me how things were in your day and at the time I probably didn't think much of it. I am not sure what you would think of the world these days. You used to talk to almost everyone you met regardless of whether you knew them or not. People don't seem to that these days. The world has become a place where most of the people care about themselves more than anyone else. I bet you'd be able to find the good people. You seemed to always know how to do that.

 My new job is going well. I made myself a promise when I took it that I would not become jaded and bitter like I was in Michigan. Phoenix was supposed to be the place to start over with a purpose, but there wasn't the right opportunity for me. Dayton has been good for me. I've been challenged from a career standpoint and on a personal one.

 I meet and have met a lot of people in my job. They range from good and decent people who are trying to better themselves and their little corners of the world to people who pretend to be helping people, but in the end are really only helping their own bank accounts. I've stopped judging though. It's a better job for someone else. I have practiced being a better person and I hope it shows.  Maybe it's being here in this place.

 It's strange to be alone again. I started drawing again for the first time in forever. I remember being at your house on Ferdinand Place and always drawing pictures of Batman. I am not sure that back then it looked like Batman, but I can say that I've gotten better. I liked that house. I never told you,but I wished you and Grandpa would have never sold it. I drove down that street a couple of weeks ago. It was a great place to grow up. I couldn't be happier watching the Reds nearly everyday.

 Mio's pizza is still there and I confess that I ordered one for old times sake. I will always be partial to Larosa's, but it wasn't bad. I have reconnected with Tim and it's good thing. I think we learn who real friends are over time. I wish that it would've taken less years to reconnect, but real friends pick up where they left off regardless of the passage of time or the turbulence along the way. It's good to see my friend happy.

Life is certainly different. I am alone a lot of the time. No pugs and no Lauren. It's a strange feeling to wake up alone. It's a strange feeling to have to manufacture noise. I miss them. I wish you could meet them. They have done what no one else has been able to do and that is to make me less selfish. I wish that would've happened sooner, but timing is a strange thing and it's usually for a purpose.

 Arizona was fun. It didn't workout like we had planned, but more good than bad came from going west. I spent time with Mom and Bob and that was refreshing. I have usually only seen them a few times a year. One day I will appreciate that time even more. It was nice to be able to have dinner with them and spend time. It takes time to realize how much you appreciate family and it's usually not until they aren't around that you realize it.

 When I came to see you it was for a couple of reasons. I promised I'd visit more since I live closer and second because I needed some strength. It was a good time to visit. I went to see the Drakes after I came to see you guys. There is an artist named Daughtry that you never got to hear. He wrote a song called "Home." There is a line in the song that says, " I'm going to a place where love and feeling good don't ever cost a thing." It was very true on Saturday.

 The best thing about being here is that I can just be me. I tried so hard to get out of here several years ago, that I never realized how much of myself that I left here. I hope you like the guy that has come back.  Mom and Bob are happy. They love Lauren. Diana has her struggles and we hope that she can gain some ground.

 I hope you like Bella. I sure do miss her too. I know you're taking good care of her. She may have introduced you to Rebel. He's a pretty good guy too. Please feel free to look in on me when you want to. I am still a work in progress and I don't know if  I'll ever truly grow up, but I am trying to make you proud.

Love ,

 Your slightly older grandson

Friday, August 10, 2012

The Campaign...worth voting for?

  A comedy with Will Ferrell and Zach Galifinakis should be a no brain er and it is. Ted was a great adult comedy and this one follows up nicely. This summer has been short on comedy and high on action and adventure. The Campaign follows the same recipe as Step Brothers and The Hangover. Crude and vulgar.
It won't be for everyone and definitely not for families, but it is a laugh out loud comedy.

 It is an election year and timing couldn't be better. North Carolina is the setting where congressman Cam Brady will run UN opposed for re election. He is your typical politician and is in the driver's seat until an mistaken call and x rated voicemail land him in hot water. One of his largest contributors decides to put a new candidate in Brady's spot. The Motch brothers, played by Dan Akroyd and John Lithgow, decide Brady is no longer their guy and the seek out a new contender.

 Marty Huggins (Galifinakis) is a simple man who runs a travel and tour agency. He is weird, but unknown and will be perfect competition for Brady. The Motch's bring in Dylan McDermott to train Huggins and the mud slinging begins. The candidates both have to discover what's important, congress or family.

 The cast was fantastic. The movie is an excuse for Ferrell to swear and like Step Brothers, it works!
Cam Brady is the perfect balance of Will's George W Bush mixed with Ricky Bobby. The recital of The Lord's Prayer is hilarious. Fan's of Between Two Ferns will recognize the character that Galifinakis is playing, but it won't stop you from laughing.  The Campaign gets dirty and the humor and situations are very crude at times, but you will have a hard time not laughing.

 The movie is based on money buying politicians and it mirrors reality enough to make you think, but it is still filled with laughs. Ferrell and Galifinakis are perfect together and their pairing is long over due. It's no one for the whole family, but if you are looking for a good adult comedy it's a winner.

The only thing that I was missing  was a Rob Riggle or John C Reily cameo. Either way, The Campaign definitely gets my vote!

Bourne again?

   Everyone likes a good conspiracy movie. People love when the government is corrupt and one man can stand up against them right? This was the story of the "Bourne" movies and the latest chapter doesn't stray.
Matt Damon is not in the movie, but the presence of his character, Jason Bourne is definitely felt though out the film. The corrupt organization called Treadstone is on the verge of being exposed thanks to the work of Bourne in the previous films. Edward Norton is brought in to eliminate any one with knowledge of the program's existence.

 Renner is Aaron Cross or "Number Five." He sets out to stop Norton and to follow through on the work that Bourne did. He finds an ally in Rachel Weisz, who is great as the scientist who was in charge of examining new participants in the program. Cross is out to prove he is more than a complex government experiment. There are twists and turns, intense action, and it stays very true to what one would expect from the Bourne Franchise.

 Edward Norton is great. I love him when he plays the villain. He was great in the Italian Job as the bad guy and it plays well here too. He has the right amount of swagger and intensity for the role of a corrupt soldier. I love intelligent bad guys and Norton is just that. Every successful movie must have a good villain.
Rachel Weisz does well too. She really holds her own when she is involved in lengthy fight scenes. She comes across as a kind of tougher version of the Julia Stiles character in the previous films.

 Jeremy Renner is great. He literally follows in Matt Damon's footsteps and it works. He plays a great agent. The fights are spot on and after turns in The Avengers and Mission Impossible:Ghost Protocol he is completely believable. He is essentially from the same program as Jason Bourne, but Renner does a great job of  making Aaron Cross a character you want to see more of.

 So what went wrong? I won't say much, but the whole time I was watching I felt like I had seen this before.
The cast is great. The story works, but I just feel like we didn't get anything new. The Bourne Legacy is not a bad movie. It's a great smart action flick. I think fans will love, but it just didn't seem like a new movie.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Total Recall or Total Failure?

    The eighties left us with a lot of cult favorite movies. The action movie genre was at an all time high and Arnold was box office gold. The story of a man with implanted memories liberating a colony on Mars became fan favorite. We fast forward more than a decade and the director of Underworld has decided to remake this sci -fi favorite.

    Len Wiseman is almost Michael Bay like in the way people respond to what he does. People either love or hate his films. I am a big fan of the Underworld franchise and appreciate Wiseman's to not completely rely on C.G.I. He, like Bay, uses familiar faces from his previous films in the latest version of Total Recall. Arnold and Sharon Stone are replaced by Collin Farrel, Kate Beckinsale, and Jessica Biel.

   The story is different, but the same. A common worker wakes up after a nightmare wanting more for his life. In the distant future the worlds population is nearly gone. One country and one colony remain with a giant transportation system call "The Fall," linking them together. It is essentially a train that travels through the earths core. Douglas Quaid (Farrell) is a factory worker married to his hot EMT wife played by Kate Beckinsale.  He has friends and a simple life, but he wants more.

  He goes to "Rekall," which is a spa type place that will give you the memories of any fantasy you may have. Quaid wants to be a secret agent, but unbeknown st to him he already is one. He begins to do amazing things with guns and hand to hand combat, his wife attempts to kill him, he tries to solve the mystery of his life, and all the time he doesn't know what is real or what is Rekall?

 He goes on the run with the other woman in his life (Jessica Biel) and must find the leader of the resistance played by Bill Nighy (Underworld/Pirates of the Caribbean). The world is fighting for space. The majority of the planet has been ruined by radiation and space is the biggest commodity. The leader of the worlds only city is corrupt and has  plan to take over. Or is he? Farrell and Biel must figure it out and stop the diabolical plan of world domination.

 Does all of this work? Yes and no. I liked the decision to remove Mars from the equation. It is a better story if grounded on earth. The political issues always seem to work well in movies. The "haves" taking all they can from the "have nots" is always a good story.

 The hover car sequence is fun, but I feel like I've seen it before. I did. The first time was in the Fifth Element and the second time was "Attack of the Clones." I felt like the hover car/elevator stuff was lifted directly from those films and Minority Report. I am not saying that I didn't enjoy it, but I found it a little stale.

 I loved Kate Bekinsale. She was incredibly nice to look at and I believe better than Sharon Stone in the role of the fake wife. She looks great fighting and has a commanding presence. I liked her chemistry with Farrell. She even manages a few of Selene's moves ala Underworld minus the skin tight latex.

 Jessica Biel doesn't seem to fit here. I enjoyed her in the A-Team, but this felt a little more like Next.
She wasn't horrible, but she just doesn't come across as a hardened resistance fighter. She is OK, but there are other actresses that I think would've worked better here.

 Collin Farrell is good. I don't believe any one could be Arnold and Farrell doesn't try to be. He is good in the fight scenes and plays the part. I think the action could've been better. It's good, but the fight coordination is so much stronger in The Bourne movies and in Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol. The scenes here are OK, but they just lack the punch of the previously mentioned film.

 Wiseman does a good job of paying respect to the original. The "3-breasted" hooker, the Recall Process, some of the gadgets are there. I wished there would've been an "Arnold" cameo, but we can't get everything we want. I think Wiseman created a very cool world. The look was fantastic and he successfully made a big world seem smaller. The "Synthetic Police" worked well and the effects were decent.

 The movie isn't bad. It lacked something. I didn't have fun. I wasn't bored. I laughed a little, but I didn't feel connected to any particular character. Maybe I wasn't supposed to? I think this summer was ruined by the Avengers. It was so good that many other films failed by comparison. My friend Aaron pointed that out and I have to agree. I liked Battleship,Prometheus, and now Total Recall. Good films not great ones. I feel like this will get thrashed by critics and it's not that bad. Total Recall would have been a solid film in February, but I am not sure it works as a summer blockbuster.

Monday, July 30, 2012

   It's been just over a week. In the summer Americans have been conditioned to do things. Hollywood has made big money on midnight openings. The Dark Knight Rises was expected to make massive amounts of money. I don't think anyone ever thought it would be associated with this kind of tragedy. Let's forget about all of the bad parenting arguments about kids even being there. I have certainly been a part of a few of them. Let's forget about the stupid lawsuits from people trying to make a buck. Let's remember the heroes. I read People magazine's articles about a few of them. Comic book worthy in a very real world.

  People will ask why for years to come. Was he bullied once or twice? Was he ignored at home? Why didn't the theatre do more? All legit questions, but asked at the wrong time. Tragedy is usually never been prevented because it's always easier to see what should've been done after the fact. It's not fair, but it sure seems to be reality. I think all of this is part of a bigger problem. One that I certainly don't know how to solve. Let's start with a 24 year old killer of men, women, and children.

 James Holmes was not in a gang. He was not a career criminal. He was an honor student. People seem to be saying he is getting different treatment for being white. I am not going to debate stereotypes or play the race card. It doesn't matter. I have a problem with this whole potential insanity thing...

“He claims he doesn’t know why he’s in jail,” the worker said Thursday. “He asked, ‘Why am I here?’”
Holmes, 24, who is charged with shooting a dozen people to death and wounding 58 more at a screening of the new Batman movie, was also complaining of a stomach ache caused by lousy jail food after his sixth day at the Arapahoe County Detention Center, the worker said.
“He’s claiming his belly hurts him,” the worker said. “He complained once that he didn’t like the food . . . The guy killed 12 people, and he’s upset that he’s not getting a four-star meal?”

He sat quietly in court as more than 100 counts were charged to him. I don't like the insanity plea for things like this. I know the definition of insanity and don't need it quoted back to me, but it should not be allowed. James Holmes knew exactly what he was doing. He planned it out. I don't buy this memory loss b.s. either.
So why did he do it? What is to blame? I don't know, but I will say it's not a movie, a video game, comic books, or a song.

 I've always believed that if someone has a screw loose they will snap anyway. It's not a movie. Millions of others saw the same movie and didn't go and shoot up a theatre. I think the problem is a couple of things.
In some cases we have become to nice. Growing up in the 80's was special. We could be parented by more than just our parents. We weren't handed everything. We didn't have video phones and You Tube.

 I'm not blaming any of those, but it has given people a vehicle to be heard and sometimes for the wrong reasons. Parents allow kids to have cell phones at age 8 or younger. Kids are allowed to dwell in their rooms online and doing whatever. There will be parents that will scream right now, "i know what my kids watch and who they talk to." I am here to tell you....NO YOU DON'T. You might think you do, but you don't. We have access to things that our parents don't know about. I was smoking pot and buying drugs at 13 and I guarantee that my parents didn't have a clue. It is so much worse now.

 Any kid with a computer can post a video. We are able to get attention for the wrong reasons and maybe this was his motive. He will now be famous. He will now be remembered. Things happen and they go viral.
We live in a world that craves attention. It's scary where that will lead.

 The suspect remains under 23-hour lock down, leaving his cell just once a day. Authorities fear that other inmates could target Holmes and have him wear a bulletproof vest during his daily walk.
The jail worker said most folks inside the county lockup consider Holmes’ memory loss a ruse.
“He needs to save his act for the jury because no one here is buying it,” the worker said. “Everyone is convinced he is faking it.” Published reports indicated that Holmes mailed a notebook filled with gruesome sketches and details of his plans for the attack in the crowded theater. The notebook was in a package sent to a professor at the University of Colorado, where Holmes was a Ph.D. candidate until dropping out of school just prior to the killings. The FBI snapped up the evidence after school officials notified them that the package was at the university

 I cannot imagine trying to defend this guy, but the insanity plea should not be allowed. I am afraid of what comes next. A couple of films are being re-cut or pulled from released. This is the wrong course of action. When we were young we played violent video games, we beat each other with sticks, and listened to violent rap music. The majority doesn't go and do these horrible things. A world of censorship isn't the answer, but I think we need something. This kind of thing will happen again. It seems that it always does.

 I feel for the victims. I am impressed by the heroes of that day. I think we should all learn to be more careful. We have so many things in this country that need fixing. I am disgusted that this tragedy has been turned into an excuse to argue fire arm rights. I hate that anyone can sue anyone at anytime. I think most of all I that these things continue to happen. We seem to take pride in our education, but it often feels like we don't learn a thing