Archive | June, 2011

Carlin – The Illusion of Choice.

Posted on 30 June 2011 by scanjack

“I’ve got this real moron thing I do. It’s called thinking!”

RIP George Carlin – He got it at least.

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Pig entrails

Posted on 30 June 2011 by ~baba

When I came here to Thailand I promised myself I’d eat whatever was put in front of me, tonight I followed through on that promise. I’ve been eating nightly in a soup place, restaurant is a tough definition here. The cook had fed me the last two nights and I’d praised her soup, tonight she gave me a bonus, a handfull of pig entrails in my soup. When I saw my ‘bonus,’ I dug right in, there was a tube of some type, probably intestine, something light on the outside and brownish grey on the inside, tasted liverish, and an assortment of slices of larger organs, some with linings.

I know you’re dying to know what it tasted like, not much really, bland except for the darker liverish pieces. Overall the soup was pretty good, tooooooo spicy tonight and I told her so next time it’d be milder. The rule of thumb here is if it’s red, it’s hot. Most food is served with no chili, it’s on the table and you season to taste. My breakfast is usually some stirfried veggies and ONE pepper cooked in a scrambled egg and served with rice, perfect heat for me, two is a little hot and I perspire, three or more I can eat but it hurts my mouth. So far I’ve eaten all of everything put in front of me, I may need to rethink my promise…..~baba

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Thai Curious…

Posted on 29 June 2011 by ~baba

Ok, I know you want to hear about the girls here. For the most part they are like girls everywhere, some pretty, vain, well dressed, pale(skin whitening is common here) and unobtainable, which is good cause I’m not interested either. Others are plain, sweet, friendly, which is the bulk of the girls her. There are two other groups worth mentioning, those who are pretty without it being an issue to them, those are the beautiful women of Thailand, tall, slim, petit, average, ample, bee stung lips, almond shaped eyes, all beautiful and commanding glances from guys of all ages, wow!

Lastly the casually dressed, tomboyish girls, look good on a scooter, ride it like a Harley, I’m a target for these girls and it’s my good luck. They’re fun to be around, flexible and easygoing and they have dating down! Last night Katya called and said, get some beer, I’m coming over. I like this approach, no timidity, no hesitancy, no miscommunication. I’m 63 and was told by many when I came over that Thai girls loved older, heavier guys, not universally true, there are a greater number than elswhere I’ve been. I’ve had three girls in one day tell me I’m handsome but I’ve gone days with no one paying attention to me at all. So, I’m just being me and letting those interested into my life. I’ve had alot of fun here and will continue to do so I hope. I’m being careful too……..~baba

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Freedom of Speech and the WBC

Posted on 28 June 2011 by scanjack

Freedom of Speech is not a one way street. I found this story to be very inspiring, and hopefully others in and around the members of what one could arguable call a “cult”, take a cue from this and see just how easy it is to shut down these hateful people.

“A man in the wrong cannot stand against a man in the right who keeps on comin’.”

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Living on a budget in Thailand

Posted on 28 June 2011 by ~baba

BUDGET, HAHA, YOU GOT TO BE KIDDING! I guess like anywhere budgeting is a balance between bookkeeping and magic, here it’s more so as I found out. When the dominoes all fall over and you have less than nothing, even next month is eaten into you gotta rethink your ‘budget’. Next month I’m taking all but $20 out of my account and carrying it with me, portioning it out, checking it daily and recalculating hourly. It would be better to be wealthy but I’m on plan B.

I usually eat at places that serve water with a meal, others serve the meal and ask what you want to drink and you’ll be charged for a bottle of water. Negotiate on rides, food, everything, you can save several dollars a day if you are a good negotiator. My first cab ride in Thailand was 400 baht, started at 1250, he still got me, ask the cabbie to turn on the meter and pay what the meter says, usually half or less. I have things to do yet that I don’t know what they cost, the visa run was a horrible expense. I need to move closer to a border or get a longer visa, there is a three month visa available and though it costs alot it’ll save me five trips which is about $200 and that $200 will get me alot of things I need here, a haircut, laundry detergent, towels, hundreds of things I haven’t budgeted. For now I’m on 200 baht a day which is about $6.70 until my Social Security check hits my overdrawn bank account. I can make it on 200 baht a day till then and we’ll see what next month’s budget is soon…~baba

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Do You Believe in Equality for All?

Posted on 27 June 2011 by Thraxxus

From the Declaration of Independence, for the future United States of America.

“When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

The question here is, do you believe that text? The quick answer is “of course!” Doesn’t everybody? The real answer is a tad more.. mmm.. devious? To discover the truth first we must set on the table what “that all men are created equal” actually means. Let us begin:

  1. Nit pickers will first point out that nowhere in there does it say anything about women. Realize that writing styles of the time of the Declaration of Independence never really considered gender – so when talking about men exclusively, or talking about everybody together, there was rarely a difference in language used. That aside, also back then women weren’t considered equals and thus there is the chance that many people who wrote this didn’t think that this applied to women. There is a long standing debate on that subject that we won’t go into now.
  2. If everything was equal then Men and Women would both be eligible for a draft. In fact, anyone physically able to perform the required duties who was also of age would be eligible.
  3. If everything was equal then the concept of specialized institutions wouldn’t be covered. Examples? Colleges for women. Colleges for African Americans. Any institute specialized for anyone that didn’t have what we consider medically to be special needs.
  4. If everything was equal then everyone would get paid the same for a job regardless of your gender, race or whatever.
  5. If everything was equal then the concept of asking anyone’s race or gender on most forms of application for a job or service requests would not be needed as it would go against equality. People would get a job purely on their education, skills, and experience.
  6. If everything was equal then all votes are equal. This is not presently the case in the USA as the USA is not actually a democracy – it is a Federal Republic. You, and many others, are represented by someone else – and they may not represent what you really want.
  7. If everything was equal then anyone capable of the physical requirements could serve in the military. This is a topic that has endless argument/discussion value.

I happen to believe in equality – I don’t like anything done half assed. The catch i of course if you have real equality, and look at the list above, you can see now many things in the USA, land of the free home of the brave and all that, would need to change. I don’t believe that that alteration would go easily.

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…until you knock over that first domino

Posted on 27 June 2011 by ~baba

I’m baaaaack. I had a change of luck for a change, a small donation from a relative and I was off to the Thai border to get legal, what a hassle. I left Chiang Mai on a bus and didn’t get to the border till after it closed. I rented a room with two types of bugs I could see and mites that bit me all night, luckily I had sunscreen and was able to drown enough of them so I could get a few hours sleep before I got up at 6am and went to surrender.

NO lecture, just fill out a police report, pay 1500 baht, for the three days late on the visa and go to Myanmar. I paid $10 US at the Myanmar(Burma)border, walked into the town, looked around and it was just like a dirty Mexican border town, so I left, came back into Thailand and now have a visa until July 11. All this cost me(my cousin)2300 baht and was a terrible two days. On the bright side the mountains, clouds, misty rain in Northern Thailand were beautiful, awesome, and  spectacular!
Undescribable! I could spend a week with camera equipment up there and wouldn’t get tired of photographing it all, just beautiful…… So, I’m back in Chiang Mai and have a tight budget for the next 5-6 weeks and won’t be traveling much, but I do need to do a visa run the weekend of July 9-10 or I’m a fugitive again. Keep ya posted………….~baba

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Weekend Review: Cars 2, Mr. Popper’s Penguins, Bad Teacher

Posted on 26 June 2011 by Reel Rhino

It was a hell of a weekend at sea, Captain!  Hi folks…Reel Rhino here…what a great weekend for te box office.  Yes, Cars 2 brought in $68 million to talk the title, but how about that Bad Teacher?!?  $31 million for a hard-R adult flick…that’s not too shabby!  Green Lanterns is only at $89 million so far and that’s on a $200 million budget…that really may hurt the chance of a sequel!  While I know there is little chance of a sequel of Super 8, it is doing quite well, nearing $100 million domestically and on only a $50 million budget.  JJ Abrams and Steven Spielberg together…if you haven’t seen it yet, please do.

This Tuesday…JUNE 28th…9:00pm…TRANSFORMERS: DARK OF THE MOON – You gotta love Bay for flipping the midnight release on its head and backing it up to 9:00pm for the old folks like me, who just don’t roll as easily into the all-nighters.  The film is playing at 9:00pm in IMAX where you have it and otherwise in standard 2-D and mainly in 3-D.  Michael Bay hooked up with James Cameron to get some pointers on the ins and outs of 3-D…that can’t be a bad thing, right?

Transformers: Dark of the Moon
3-D Advice from James Cameron
Executive Producer: Steven Spielberg
Action Guru: Michael Bay
Megan Fox Out: Rosie Huntington-Whiteley In

I think I am excited!  Are you?

Well, to some mini-reviews…her is my last 8 days at the movies…#1001, #1002, and #1003…if you’re keeping score.

Mr. Popper’s Penguins: 3.5 of 5 Horns
Mr. Popper’s Penguins is based on a 1938 Newbury Award winning book by Richard and Florence Atwater.  This movie, while based on that book, is certainly a liberal adaptation of that classic material.

Mr. Popper’s Penguins is a Jim Carrey vehicle that is a rather subtle Carrey performance.  I lead with that nugget as there are those that like super duper ZANY Jim Carrey and those who like dramatic Jim Carrey.  This has a few zany moments, but mostly his scenes are subtle enough to swallow down regardless of how you feel about the actor.

The story revolves around Mr. Popper (Carrey) who we meet as a lonely boy, whose father is an explorer and world traveler and the only way the father and son pair communicate with one and other is via ham radio.  We see this little boy growing and while you can tell he loves his father, he is quite heartbroken as well and jaded as well.

Smash cut to the adult Mr. Popper, a smooth talking real estate executive who seems to have it all.  One day he gets the call…his father has passed away and left him but one thing…Penguins.

The story is simple enough and is rather entertaining, but only in a simple and fun way.  This movie is no thinker, but as it does give you miles of physical humor to enjoy in the antics of these penguins and their integration into a New York lifestyle.  The emotional core is built around a variety of Daddy Issues.  Mr. Popper had daddy issues to the senior Popper and Mr. Popper’s two kids, Billy and Janie, aren’t really crazy about him either.  Hey, he divorced Carla Gugino (the former Mrs. Popper)….I’d be mad at him too!

This was a fun film to watch but really didn’t leave much of a lasting impression.  Much of the interaction with the penguins is run into corny grounds, which is exactly where a movie like this HAS TO exist.  What are you going to get with something like this…a pseudo documentary?  This movie had to be ridiculous.

Cameos by Phillip Baker Hall, Clark Gregg, Angela Lansbury,  Jeffrey Tambor, and David Krumholtz helped keep the interest level up; but for the decent story that it was, I think you can safely save this one for a rental.

3.5 Horns out of 5 for Mr. Popper’s Penguins.

Bad Teacher: 4 of 5 Horns
Cameron Diaz is no stranger to adult films.  No wait just a minute!  I didn’t mean that kind of adult films…get your minds out of the gutter!

Ms. Diaz is very well known in the R-rated comedy circles for her no holds barred portrayal of the titular Mary in There’s Something About Mary.

Her turn as Elizabeth Halsey is another classic performance, but for its execution and delivery, I don’t think this film will be nearly iconic.

Bad Teacher is a very funny story.  It’s kind of funny like Forgetting Sarah Marshall, but not as Funny as Old School or The 40 Year Old Virgin.

Elizabeth Halsey is a money-grubbing man chaser who will literally do ANYTHING to land a man with dough.

A great supporting cast made this movie truly shine, including Jason Segel as the gym teacher Russell Gettis.  Segel plays Gettis like no character I’ve seen from him before.  I think that this character had the most confidence of any Segel roles to date, and it suited him very well.

Justin Timberlake was acceptable in the corny role of Scott Delacorte, the new teacher in town who becomes the object of Ms. Halsey’s affections and the impetus for her to try and raise the dough for breast augmentation surgery.

There are plenty of juvenile humor moments in this film, but they didn’t bother me as much as normal.  I think the writing was sharp and the execution clean, which actually made some of the “dick and fart” joke moments work.  The movie was written by Gene Stupnitsky and Lee Eisenberg, both of whom are currently penning GHOSTBUSTERS 3.  I hope their delivery here is an indication of what we might be seeing from the boys in beige!

Lucy Punch as Amy Squirrel was brilliant.  Ms. Punch has made appearances in recent flicks like Dinner for Schmucks and Take Me Home Tonight and I give you the Reel Rhino 100% guarantee, this woman will be a star.

Additional support from Phyllis Smith…aka Phyllis from THE OFFICE…was great as she brings a sense of innocence to the dirty/crude antics and experiences them in a wholly comedic way.  Fantastic character actor John Michael Higgins plays Principal Wally Snur, a man obsessed with dolphins and with making his school great.  And the always enjoyable Thomas Lennon cameos as a state education testing official, with hilarity to ensue.

The crux of the tale revolves around Ms. Halsey and Ms. Squirrel jockeying for position as the love interest to Mr. Delacourt.  It seems that he comes from money and while Ms. Squirrel has pure intentions as Delacourt is a real sensitive sally, Ms. Halsey will do anything to find a rich man to support her.  She sees a picture of his ex-, and she realizes…it’s bigger breasts or bust (pun intended).

These two ladies square off with very funny results and the great supporting cast helped up the enjoyment of this naughty, well-made R-rated flick.

A funny aside…this film had a real FREAKS AND GEEKS feel to it.  F&G is a series that if you haven’t seen, you really should.  It runs occasionally on IFC and the full series is only something like 18 episodes.  Jake Kasdan was the producer and occasional director of F&G and he was also the director of this movie.  There was a great homage to F&G with the all teacher band and bar scene concert with teacher Sandy Pinkus, channeling his role from F&G as Jeff Rosso, hippie guidance counselor, who rocked it out in similar fashion back in 1999.  See this movie, see Freaks and Geeks.  Kasdan is one of the disciples of Apatow, so you can be sure he is one to follow.

All in all, I really had a good time with this film.  There weren’t many huge gut-busting laughs, but it was a steady run of guffaws, chuckles, and “oh no you didn’t.”  Also, the theater I saw it in was about ½ full and everyone in the theater also seemed to like, which made it that much better of a viewing experience.

4 of 5 Horns for Bad Teacher.

Cars 2: 3 of 5 Horns
(Kenfu, this one’t for you!)
Cars 2 is an extremely watchable film.  The trouble is, when you’re Pixar, extremely watchable Is one of the worst things that can be said about your movie. 

I enjoyed this more Mater centric tale and I thought that the Pixar folks successfully wove together this story of international mystery and intrigue with the old folks from Radiator Springs…but…

Oh that darn but, Rhino!

BUT…I think that Pixar decided to coast a bit for this one.

Exhibit A: Talking about the “dinosaurs” going extinct…they couldn’t have changed it to “Dino-Cars,” just for those few lines?

Exhibit B: When Lighting and Mater were at the dance club for the World Grand Prix reception, there were lights from above shining on the floor.  Mater and Lightning drove around and as they did, the lights didn’t shine on them, indicating inattention to this as a detail.

Exhibit C: When the final chase/battle is on, as Mater and Lightning hit a big hill and launch into the air, the texture map for the animation modeling was visible for a fraction of a second.

Exhibit D: in one of the publicity photos, there is a scene of Lighting and Mater fleeing an explosion.  When that scene played in the film, it was Mater only, fleeing instead with Finn McMissle.  Conspiracy?  I think if any site should break this story, its BlinkinBlogs!  Pixar painted this more of a straight up Cars flick, but make no mistake, Mater is the lead here.  The kids should love it regardless, as it is kind of a continuation of the series released as Mater’s Tall Tales, just stretched out to feature lgnth.  Not to say I can blame them, as Lightning is supposed to be the anchor…and he is the anchor of the story, but don’s misrepresent your product!

What does all this mean?  That the boys at Pixar are Human Beings!  We all thought Tiger, and Michael Jordan, and Charlie Sheen were perfect…okay, not Charlie Sheen, but you get the idea.

Pixar is made up of people and for what the film is, Cars 2 is a completely enjoyable film.  It’s just not up to the level of quality of product or storytelling we are accustomed to for these folks.

I give Cars 2 a 3 of 5 only because when you consider the source, you have to expect better.  This was an acceptable film from a studio that demands perfection.  I think I can say that whatever comes next from Pixar, will be tuned up and checked over before it is released.

A quick aside…the 3-D in this film was visually stunning.  This film makes up in appearance for all the shortcomings in story.

On an aside, the crew from TOY STORY was all here well as there was Hawaiian Vacation, a Ken and Barbie centric adventure with all of your Toy Story favorites.

If you plan on bringing a kid to see Cars 2, keep this in mind…at my showing:

Previews:  24 minutes
Hawaiian Vacation: 10 minutes
Cars 2: 1 hour and 52 minutes

That’s a long time to keep a kid happy.  I recommend arriving in your seats around 30 minutes after the listed start time.  The first 6 minutes of the actual movie was pretty fluffy as well, with some Radiator Springs business that gave us the set-up for Lighting and Mater to make the trip overseas for the World Grand Prix.

That’s my take on the whole bit of business…until later, take care!

Reel Rhino

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Fugitive

Posted on 25 June 2011 by ~baba

I have been unsucessfull soliciting money. Though I’ve helped hundreds with car and house payments, groceries and money, I’ve only had one young girl actually put $ 20 into my bank account and unfortunately it was eaten up by overdraft charges. I have no idea where my funds went, I had $.13 five days ago and now it’s -$105. I have been unable to get across the border and in less than 6 hours I’ll be a fugitive, being in Thailand without a visa is a crime here, if stopped I’ll be arrested and deported. I think I’ll end my travel blog with this entry, I never meant it to be a whiney beg for help type thing, I never meant it to be a tragedy, I’m a comedy type of guy, or was…..~baba

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Reel Rhino’s Date With Fate: 1000th Movie

Posted on 25 June 2011 by Reel Rhino

Sorry I have been spotty on my posts, but I have had all hell breaking loose in my life.  Things are good, but I have been balls to the wall busy.  This post covers my milestone which I hit last week…enjoy the read and I hope to resume regular posts again very soon…RR

It started out like any other Saturday.  Momma Rhino let Papa Rhino sleep in a little longer than he should.  Of course she knew he was going to need his rest, for it was a big day.  Life was good as that wake up was administered by Baby Rhino that jumped on daddy.  I think I heard my 22 month old son chanting “movie day, movie day, movie day.”  Although I may have been dreaming.

Yes folks, Saturday, June 18th, 2011 was in fact: “1000th movie” movie day.  The Reel Rhino has travelled a long road and last Saturday was the payoff.

I wrote my love letter to AMC Theaters in a previous post, but again, what an amazing run I have had with AMC.

730 of 1000 movies, 73% of the films I have taken in, have been with AMC theaters.  Wow.

Thanks again AMC!

I mean it…you guys rock.

Tracie (my wife) was also very excited for movie night.  Yes, she was proud of her movie going husband, but she also was excited to finally get out and see a movie.  You see, while I am out there battling the crowds and taking in cinema for the sake of you, my loyal readers, she is usually holding down the fort.  I couldn’t possible of gotten here without her, so her being there for this flick, was a “gotta have.”

And she couldn’t have been more excited for the choice in movie….GREEN LANTERN.  Well, maybe some other movie would have been more preferable for her, but for the sake of the big night, she sucked it up.

The evening started at Buffalo Wild Wings, and we dined like kings and queens.  We had a great posse in the Ross and Kelly Capps and their kiddies; Dan, Carol, Bevin, Michael, and Jillian Schmer, The G Man and Allison, Tracie, and I.

Cows around the world rejoiced as we tore through wings as if Adam Richman himself was egging us on.  We had to build up our strength, but we all knew that we would have the luxury of well buttered popcorn and Diet Coke to fuel us forward if the need arose.

At around 6:00pm, we made the move across Barry Road, travelling from the Northland’s Zona Rosa to hallowed ground: Kansas City’s AMC Barrywoods 24…AKA my stomping grounds for the last 11 years.

Little did I know that Tracie had made some special arrangements for our arrival at the theater.

What a great wife.

Everyone expected that we would be wheels down and running a little behind making the 6:20pm show, so my friends at AMC had some also tricks up their sleeve.

V.I.P. seating, ladies and gentlemen.  What a group, these AMC folks!  It was at this point, that The G Man and Allison had to take their leave of us.  G Man, we hardly knew you (see also, Seinfeld).

So what about the movie itself?

GREEN LANTERN: 4 of 5 Horns

Let me start by saying, Green Lantern was a solid 3, but this night would have earned any film a 1 Horn bump.  It really needed it, too, as this film was fairly critically raked over the coals.  Let me say, this is an extremely watchable film.  A fun movie to watch with popcorn firmly secured in the lap, as was my position throughout.

Green Lantern tells the story of Hal Jordan and his selection as the first human called into service in the intergalactic do-good syndicate of super heroes, the Green Lantern Corps.  Hal meets his predecessor when the ring calls him into service.  He has no idea what is going on, and given the lack of popular success for this tent-pole summer release, Jordan wasn’t alone as most of the Ryan Reynolds fans were probably in the dark as well.

Don’t get me wrong.  This film is wholly successful in conveying the back story to this lesser known DC title.  But my question is why?  Why did we need this origin story?  I think that Green Lantern would have been a far more successful film if we had skipped right past the origin into a full fledge adventure with these characters.

That said, I think the story of the Lantern Corps is competently covered but at the expense of long periods of exposition, which would have been much better substituted with battles or grand adventure.

The absolute shining star in this film is Peter Sarsgaard.  His role as Hector Hammond is brilliant and if you think you will pass on this film, I promise you, Sarsgaard alone is worth the trip to the theater.

Mark Strong, aka the poor man’s Andy Garcia, is quickly becoming the rich man’s Mark Strong.  Strong is literally everywhere these days, and his turn is Sinestro is quite watchable, with his main purpose of setting up the sequel successfully accomplished.

A laughable appearance by Tim Robbins is a role that would have been much better filled by a lesser actor.  Robbins is quite laugh as the elder Hammond and he is absolutely outshined in the worst possible way when he shares the screen with Sarsgaard.

There were some concerns about Blake Lively as well.  She had a great role in the drugged out ex-girlfriend in last year’s Ben Affleck caper flick The Town.  She is wholly passable as the love interest and really doesn’t shine, but as a pretty face, she plays the role with ease.

So the final word is see this movie, but don’t expect too much and your experience should be both enjoyable and enlightening given the strong role that is Hector Hammond.

Oh yeah, my hetero-man-crush Ryan Reynolds is great as always.  He is so affable that I think it is impossible to not enjoy his time on screen.  Yes, hard core GL fans wanted Nathan Fillion…sorry gang, we can’t have Mal Reynolds play all of our heroes.  Catch the animated features just released, Green Lantern: Emerald Knights, to hear how Fillion would have fared in this role.

Final World:  It was a great night and I would have watched anything.  Green Lantern fit the bill, as the real stars of the night were my wife, friends, and AMC family that made the day so memorable.  It’s been a great run and I’ve loved every minute of it.  I can’t wait to get into my next 1000…

Thanks Gang!

Until next time, take care….

Reel Rhino

REEL RHINO’S 1000 MOVIES: BY THE NUMBERS
Movie Count:  1000
Total Minutes in the Theater: 111,371
Which Equals: 77 days, 8 hours
Average Length of Each Movie: 111 minutes

Total Dollars in Tickets: $6.618.75
Average Ticket Price: $6.62 per ticket
Most movies in one year: 2008, 166 movies

This was the shirt front and back that my darling wife had made to celebrate the day:


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Earthlings

Posted on 23 June 2011 by Caravaggio

From the Caravaggio Vault.

Here is a post that I felt was somewhat atypical for this blog community. It deals with a subject that causes very strong, polarized reactions. That is to say it deals with the issue of Animal Welfare and Rights. This issue is one that I’ve spent countless hours in internal dialog/debate (read: ongoing mental struggle). I believe I can accurately comprehend the way the world works. And it is a violent, bloody, and short existance on this planet for most living things. However, I cannot shrug the concept that as sentient beings capable of empathy amongst ourselves, should we (as humans) not extend this to all living things? Obviously my conceptual question interweaves principles derived from a plethora of sources… religion(s), philosophy, neuroscience, sociology, anthropology, biology, etc.

Take a look at this site. The movie it touts is currently being considered for an Oscar. I find the subject matter a bit hard to stomach…but blunt reality is required to open minds to consider other possibilities. Upon viewing the trailer, attempt to resist the impulse to follow engrained cultural norms – really stop and think about our lifestyles and impact. Or, as my theory predicts, most of you will utter something under your breath, shrug this off, and stereotype the author of the post.

http://www.earthlings.com/
http://www.earthlings.com/blog/index.php

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Down with N.A.T.O!

Posted on 22 June 2011 by Thraxxus

NPR did a cover story today about how there is a serious amount of tension inside of NATO. The gist of the entire exchange is that America is finally calling out the other members of NATO on spending and shouldering the burden of technology, troops, weapons etc. It turns out that the USA is now covering 75% of the cost of NATO entirely – the amusing part? European countries know that, acknowledge, and don’t really seem to care. This may seem like a negative statement, and in some fashion is, however the retort they are offering is that they have far larger problems that national defense – like bankruptcy.

Let us back up for a moment: WTF is NATO anyway and why does it exist? From wikipedia (tried to get it off the NATO site but their site apparently has issues with copying text):

“The North Atlantic Treaty Organization or NATO (play /ˈnt/ nay-tohFrenchOrganisation du traité de l’Atlantique Nord(OTAN)), also called the (North) Atlantic Alliance, is an intergovernmental military alliance based on the North Atlantic Treaty which was signed on 4 April 1949. The NATO headquarters are inBrusselsBelgium,[3] and the organization constitutes a system of collective defencewhereby its member states agree to mutual defense in response to an attack by any external party.

For its first few years, NATO was not much more than a political association. However, the Korean War galvanized the member states, and an integrated military structure was built up under the direction of two U.S. supreme commanders. The first NATO Secretary GeneralLord Ismay, famously stated the organization’s goal was “to keep the Russians out, the Americans in, and the Germans down”.[4] Doubts over the strength of the relationship between the European states and the United States ebbed and flowed, along with doubts over the credibility of the NATO defence against a prospective Soviet invasion—doubts that led to the development of the independent French nuclear deterrent and the withdrawal of the French from NATO’s military structure in 1966.”

Okay! So NATO is an outdated alliance put together to stop those pesky Russians! Wait. Didn’t the USSR fall years ago? Aren’t there now like eleventy godrillion little monster countries roaming free from that after math? If that is the case, that NATO existed purely as a united front against the evil Red Giant, and that Giant is dead, then WTF is NATO for? Furthermore why is there NATO and the United Nations? If NATO is now mostly the USA spending, troops etc, then really isn’t in the USA plus sometimes other people lending a hand? For what purpose?

I say get rid of it. What is the point? Isn’t the USA tired of being the world’s police force yet? First there was the USSR. Gone. Terrorism – wait.. Osama Bin Laden? Dead. Lots and lots of “evil” regimes in the Middle East? Wait – fallen or falling. WTF are we doing people? Why are we continuing to spend resources, money, and lives on situations that other countries don’t want us sticking our noses into to begin with? America has her own issues to contend with. The United Nations is now the “governing body” of the planet – it is the objective of that governing body to protect everyone and hold the overall peace – not just the job of the USA.

In a nutshell  – USA pack up your stuff and go home. Let the European Union do what they said they would do – be united. That is their continent – let them have it back.

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Visa run

Posted on 21 June 2011 by ~baba

In yesterday’s exciting episode I revealed that I needed to go to Myanmar(Burma) to get a visa, my 30 day tourist visa expires on the 26th, maybe the 25th. I was pretty sure yesterday, after finding that I only had 13 cents in my bank account, that things couldn’t stay this bad, I was right, I developed a cold overnight and feel lousy now. My plan is to take the cheap, unairconditioned buss to Mae Sai, the route marked in red on the map, first stopover will be Chiang Rai which I’d like to visit someday when I can afford it.

I sold some books and I’m sure I can get to Mae Sai but to get back I need to pay $10 and I’m going to borrow that as a $10 bill from someone here in Chiang Mai before I go. I’m sending an inquiry to my bank trying to find out how I mismanaged or misplaced my funds, I’ll keep you posted if you comment……….~baba

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Now we’ll see how smooth I really am…

Posted on 21 June 2011 by ~baba

The game is afoot! Within the next four days I need to get to Burma or Laos and get a visa. Pretty easy, get on a bus, go to the border and cross, come back across in an hour or so, get stamped and you’re gold for fifteen days! I apparently miscalculated something somewhere though, I have $.13 in my bank account instead of $130.00. I’m sure there’s a very good explanation out there somewhere but it’s not going to do me any good, I need to start pitching pennies with the jr high kids as soon as I get off the internet here.

In other news I met someone who is opening a restaurant which is part of a Hostel type situation and would be a good idea except it’s in an alley in a relatively untraveled part of the old city. I made some fliers, got some tape and a highlighter and we put up a few here and there and got pointers from others putting up fliers in the area. I think that the venture will fail but if there’s a possibility of success I’d like to be there to help her. I’m putting together a menu and showing her how to make home fries for her American breakfast and to offer a choice of ham, bacon, or sausage rather than all three.

The people here in Thailand are so appreciative of any effort to assist them, I eat free so often that I feel honored to have these people as friends. I do, whenever I can, donate whenever they go on a supply run and I suppose that figures into my inclusion in their meals. Ok, gotta get offa here, computer time is money and money is running out……………~baba

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Walking market, Chiang Mai

Posted on 19 June 2011 by ~baba

Sundays there is a street market in the old walled city part of Chiang Mai, Thailand. Last night I walked the whole market, it took me two hours and went down three streets, several alleys, and various plazas and wats(temple parking areas). I was amazed at the variety of items sold, clothing to sushi, stone carvings to fried insects, shoes, fruit, whole, sliced, juiced, cooked, whatever you can imagine, – ice creams and home made popsicles. I had a 13 piece sushi dinner that cost about $3.33 and it was great food, in fact eating ‘off the street’ is one of the cheapest ways to feed yourself here. A fried chicken leg and thigh is about $1.15, pad thai is aboiut the same and actually most food is in that cost range, three meals for $3.50!

The internet is another expense if you want to stay connected and facebook is my connect to the US and my friends elsewhere, this blog, youtube and my email make it about two hours a day and the cost is less than a meal. I think when I catch up a little I can get a bicycle and live pretty well on my pittance from the government of the US. More later…~baba

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The Journey Begins

Posted on 18 June 2011 by ~baba

In early May of this year a curious thing happened, at least a dozen people, most of whom I didn’t know, told me that I should move to Thailand. I had a business, friends, a daily routine I loved, a cat and dog(Batman)that were awesome and I was sorta happy even though my love life was currently on hold(not unusual for a 63yr old man in Hawaii). It did start me thinking though, what if my truck broke down, my saw went kaflooey(I was a tree cutter, chainsaw, climbing, hauling, etc), I broke something and so on…

I decided to do it, try to live on my $571/month social security(not capitalized because it doesn’t deserve to be) I sold and gave away all my stuff, found wonderful homes for my cat and dog(owner of a deli) and bought a ticket to Bangkok. I left at 7am May 25 and after a short layover in Honolulu was off to Tokyo. I had a 5 hour lay over there and explored the airport, found a group dressing passers by in traditional clothing and, well, got dressed up as a Samurai, HAI! Unfortunately they had no swords so I was given a fan to defend myself.

Next was Bangkok, visa stamp, everyone was told to bypass custome and there were the cabdrivers… first offer of a ride to Bangkok, 1250 baht, next 800, next 500, then I negotiated 400 and was off(it’s 30 baht to the dollar). A friend had given me a card from a place and I had the driver take me there, it was nice, air conditioned, smelled like mothballs and was 850 a night; the next night I moved to a cheaper one at 400 a night on Kahosan road and enjoyed that area.

As I walked around the area I felt conspicuous, a fat, old, bald, pasty white guy in shorts, I knew I looked like a tourist but I was surprised. That first day I had three girls tell me I was handsome and one felt my biceps, wow, did I make a good choice! Bangkok was costly though, the 2nd most costly city in Asia so I headed to Pai in far Northwest Thailand, first stop Chiang Mai for a night and then a horrible 800+ curve mountain road to Pai. I’m not the guy who gets carsick but I was the guy eating compazine to keep from ruining my record, that trip was hell. I actually thought about flying out to avoid the trip back.

I stayed in Pai for nearly a week, had a cobra in my room one morning, don’t know how many times in the night I got up to pee and walked by it. The tourists were thick, you had to scoot them out of the way to see anything and this isn’t the tourist season. Pai is the tourist destination for the wealthy Thai from Bangkok as well as the Euro/American tourists.

Finally I came back to Chiang Mai and I have an apartment here, pretty cheap here for apts, about $90 US for a month. I found the place thru a woman who has a roadside restaurant, common here and the roadside food is really good and safe. Thai is her name and her friend, Buhn, a massage therapist, and one other who’s name escapes me now, have seemed to adopt me and tell me what is happening in the area and what deals I should take advantage of. The women, everyone, here is beautiful and so gracious, I’m amazed at the respect I get for small things. In Pai I bought food for an elderly Mountain Tribe woman who was begging at the roadside place I was eating. I had previously been charged 50 baht for my ‘rice soup’ but after that I was charged only 25.

The heavy rain had caused about two dozen earthworms to come out of the grass by a monestary (no autocorrect here, oh oh!) and they were drying out, covered with roadside sand and I picked every live one up and tossed them back onto the now drying lawn. Nearly a dozen monks and acolytes came up to the fence and bowed to me. In Hawaii it seemed like kindness, compassion, and generosity were seen as weakness, here those traits are respected, I love it.

I get $571 a month and will continue to find ways to get by on so little, it is possible here and I still need to learn how to play the ‘musical chairs’ visa game here. I’ll keep you posted if you’ll keep your fingers crossed for me. ~baba

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Luke, I am your, uh, well it’s complicated…

Posted on 18 June 2011 by ~baba

About ten years ago I had a friend, Sasha who had two beautiful kids, I love kids and was always buying them some fruit or giving them some of what I had whenever I saw them, usually at the health food store. One day Sasha told me her ex husband was coming to stay for three weeks to see his kids and that he was still jealous of her and the kids and not to be too familiar with her or the kids while he was here. Over the next week or so I saw him with them around town and kept my distance.

One day he walked up to me and said ‘Are you Dave Robins?’ I think I stepped back, sorta expecting to get hit or something but he extended his hand and said ‘Hi, I’m Eric, I think that you’re my father.’ I had about eleventeen emotions go through me in the next few seconds but managed to say, good to meet you or something. It turned out that his mom went to the University of Texas when I was there and she had told Eric that I was his dad. I saw her photo and learned her name and neither were familiar to me but I told Eric that I would be proud to have him as a son and to this day I hear from him more than some of my other kids.

I invited him to move in with me while he was in town and he did, we talked quite a bit during the time we were roommates/father/son and he told me that before Sasha that he’d had a son with another girl and that they hadn’t stayed together and that she had given the boy up for adoption, that boy, he said was the kid who played Anikin Skywalker in the latest of the Star Wars series. In short – I may be Darth Vader’s Grandfather.

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Triple Review, Triple Fast: X-Men First Class, Super 8, Midnight in Paris

Posted on 17 June 2011 by Reel Rhino

I have had a real-life work project rolling along, so I apologize for my lack of meaningful content over the past few weeks.

For instance, if you haven’t heard, this Saturday, June 18th, 2011, the Reel Rhino will make history.  Well nothing so significant as to cause Encyclopedia Britannica to get their panties in a bunch, but significant enough for me to tell you about it here.

This Saturday at AMC Barrywoods in Kansas City at 6:20pm, I will be taking in my favorite hetero man-crush, Ryan Reynolds, as he joins the Lantern Corps in GREEN LANTERN, the latest comic book, summer block buster offering.  For whatever reason, DC comics always seem to have a darker tone than its Marvel counterpart.  If you have seen the extended cut of the trailer, you’ll have to agree that but for Reynolds trademark wise cracks, that this film seems like the real deal for genre buffs, which luckily, I happen to be.  I think this film will exist nicely in the realm of sci-fi, adventure, and comic book fare.  We are hitting the ETX screen, so if your in my hood, drop on in!

So what have I seen lately?  I offer to you my single paragraph review, whirlwind takes on X-Men: First Class, Super 8, and Midnight in Paris.

X-Men: First Class 4 of 5 Horns
What a great entry into the X-Men series!  This was an exciting film with a dynamic cast and it painted a vivid picture of the formation of one of the most feared super teams of all time: The Avengers!  Wait a minute…that’s next summer!  Make no mistake, this is a well made film and Matthew Vaughn is a force to contend with in the realm of up and coming directors.  Layer Cake, Stardust, Kick-Ass, and now First Class…that is a quality resume.  I think this entire cast performed with style, but super kudos go to James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender as Charles Xavier and Erik Lensher.  First Class has style, but it also has a sense of self-awareness.  Some of the scenes are so comedic, given the high quality of the rest of the film, I am assuming that the scenes dialogue or action was shot with the tongue firmly planted in the cheek.  These scenes are not only forgiven, they are embraced easily by the movie goers and provided well placed laughs amidst the gasps at the sense of adventure.  Kevin Bacon is hammy in less sensational roles; he absolutely chewed his way out of this world eating set pieces with ease.  For additional, enjoyable Kevin Bacon, leave Footloose on the shelf and shoot for James Gunn’s SUPER, from earlier this year.

Super 8 5 of 5 Horns
Lora, I sensed from your comment, that you have some issues with Super 8.  You are a dear friend, but I must contest, I loved this movie.  J.J. Abrams has existed as one of my favorite folks in the entertainment industry for some time now.  He solidified that opinion with the wonderful reboot of the Star Trek series.  I always have been a fan of Star Trek; not a full fledge Trekker, but a fan none the less.  J.J. made Star Trek cool again (yes, folks, it was cool before as well…deal with it).  I’d like to say J.J. is a wunderkind director, but he’s been in the biz for over 20 years.  In the 1980’s Abrams helped Steven Spielberg repair home movies he had made as a kid.  That’s a pretty good break for a young wannabe filmmaker and this was just the first of Abrams/Spielberg interactions that would ultimately lead to this project.  While Abrams calls Spielberg the Grandfather of Super 8; Spielberg maintains that Abrams could have travelled this road on his own.  Super 8 is something of a Goonies meets E.T. alien adventure film, that is surrounded by all the mystery that both directors love.  For further reading, please see also, Abrams TED talk on the mystery of the box.  Well Super 8 is loaded with mystery.  For starters, the mystery of who the hell are these kid actors?  If they were to remake the Goonies, I would vote these folks in.  Elle Fanning is charming and a chip off the old family block.  I was also happy to see Noah Emmerich and Ron Eldard back in the acting game.  Emmerich was formerly married to a friends sister.  At said friend’s wedding, we had a blast hanging with “Mo” from Beautiful Girls.  Must see TV, if you’re in the game for a flick.  Super 8 is pure adventure from start to finish.  See this movie.

Midnight in Paris 4 of 5 Horns
This film has been out for some time and for many of the past few weeks, Woody Allen’s latest film has raked in the highest per screen average amongst all the summer blockbusters playing at your local theaters.  Impressive as the comic book, sequel, superhero films have occupied most screens nationwide, it’s good to see Allen still has the magic.  And this film does have some magic.  SPOILER ALERT: Most critics have steered clear of sharing the secret of this movie, but I think in doing so, you may be more inclined to see it.  MIDNIGHT IN PARIS IS A TIME-TRAVEL, SCI-FI WONDER!  Yep, you heard it here first.  Midnight in Paris as a title describes a magic moment in time in a magical city.  As the clock strikes midnight, our hero, Gil (Owen Wilson) is transported to an earlier time.  The 1920’s in Paris were a renaissance as Gil saw it.  As a “Hollywood hack” as he puts it, Gil is trying to write a novel.  He dreams of a bygone era and wonders how great the inspiration would have flowed, had he been born in a different generation.  Gil is transported into the 1920’s ala a midnight ride he takes each night in an old-timey car that mysteriously erupts from a foggy Paris night.  This cast is loaded with stars and they all earn their paychecks here.  I won’t say anymore other than Woody Allen works wonders with the time travel genre, flipping it on its head.  This was an extraordinarily fun movie and whether or not you like Allen or not, this is not your standard Woody.  I experienced a funny  moment after the film, as I was discussing the movie with two ushers.  I was perhaps the youngest person in the theater by 10 years and when I was talking to these folks, the young lady I was describing the film to, asked me in a hushed tone: “Is this an old person movie?” as several silver haired movie goers passed us by.  Well folks, Woody Allen has been around for years, by I argue that he still has the power to entertain people of all ages.

I hope to see you all on Saturday at AMC Barrywoods…it’s a big day for me and I look forward, just as much, to the next 1000.

Until later, take care!

Reel Rhino

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Why they call me Baba

Posted on 16 June 2011 by ~baba

It started the day of my 21st birthday. I was a student at the University of Texas and wondering what to do to celebrate when I heard people on my front porch, as I went to the door one of them knocked. It was two very pretty girls and a bearded youth whose name was Ili and  he started talking immediately.  He informed me that his religion, the Cardinal religion had determined that I was the reincarnation of one of their ancestral leaders and that we should go out to the country and celebrate by a bonfire. I looked at the girls and decided this might be better than watching tv this evening and said ok. We looted the fridge and took the blankets and pillows off of my bed and an old tent from the garage and loaded it all into my VW Bug and headed out to the country(it seems I was the only member of the religion who had a car).

Ili and his girlfriend were in the back and the other girl whose name reminded me of ice cream but I can’t remember it, said that my Cardinal name would come to me and I would know it to be true. Within seconds I saw the old Alamo Hotel sign from the back, it said OMAJA! I said Omaja out loud and Ice Cream gave me the biggest titty squishing hug I’d had in a looooooong time and said she’d assist me in the ritual to assume my position. I was happy, this was turning out pretty well, we got to the camping spot, set up the tent and everyone took off their clothes, this was getting better and better. Ili and  his girl started on a walk, wading down the course of a muddy stream and Ice Cream took my hand and led me to the tent and said it was time for the ritual sex. Woooo Hooooooooo! I guess we were about 10 seconds into the ritual when I heard people outside, peeked outside the tent and heard the words ‘you’re under arrest’ Crap!

We were allowed to dress and were handcuffed and driven to court, charged with indecent exposure.  I explained to the judge that we were camping out and taking a nap and prefered not to sleep with all our clothes on and he agreed that we were in our domicile and nudity was ok in your own home and let us go. We had to walk/hitchike back to the camp, got there about dark and Ili had started a bonfire. We ate whatever we had scavenged from my fridge, swapped stories, I was made an official member or the religion and again Ice Cream took my hand and led me into the tent. My weekend was awesome, but Ili wiped with poison ivy and ended up breaking up with his girl who I always thought of as kind of grouchy anyway.  Ice Cream would stop by my place sometimes to play but after I moved I never saw her again, think of her often though… I guess this isn’t the story of why I’m called Baba, huh, maybe some other time.   ~baba

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Guess Who’s Back, Back Again…Rhino’s Back, Tell a Friend

Posted on 13 June 2011 by Reel Rhino

Greetings movie lovers!  Sorry for my absence, but I have been quite jammed with my real job and some other non-movie business.  I am shooting for two mid-week posts…one reviewing X-Men: First Class, Super 8, and Midnight in Paris; and one revealing the final plans for the 1000th movie.

For now, I am at a loss for words.  I cannot say enough great things about my friends at AMC Barrywoods 24.

For starters, let me say that this was supposed to be a HUGE weekend for the Reel Rhino.  This was going to be the hallowed 1000th movie weekend.

Life intervened.

I spent the better part of the week in Orlando, FL attending the Hexagon 2011 conference as a part of the Leica Geosystems User Group.  I had planned on taking in two movies while in Florida, but like Congressman Norris in The Adjustment Bureau, it wasn’t in the plan.

In preparation for the big 1-0-0-0, the AMC crew prepared a gift for me.  Let me say how humbled I am for such an effort on their part.  While I am grateful to all who had a hand in the gift, Ponce and all of his staff; I was especially appreciative of Heather’s part.  She shared with me her secret of wrapping gifts and I think you will agree, for the movie lover, it was perfect!

We didn’t have an AMC theater in my hometown of Erie, PA.  It wasn’t until 1994, my freshman year at The University of Maryland, that I went to an AMC at the Academy 6 at the Greenbelt Mall in Greenbelt, MD, just outside of College Park.  That first AMC film was Forrest Gump, on August 20th, 1994, at 10:00pm, at the low student rate of just $3.75.  I was nearing the end of my first preseason football camp with the Terps, and I needed some comfort.  You know, Momma always said life was like a box of chocolates…Forest Gump has remained one of my favorites and I did in fact see it three times during 1994.

From there, I toggled between the Academy 8 and the Academy 6, both at the Greenbelt Mall, for most of my days at Maryland.

Regrettably for the AMC family, I moved next door to a Sony Theater during 1999 and 2000, which was my movie home for that span.  That run of movie-going had me see every film released that summer, except Thomas the Tank Engine and Pokemon 2000.  There is a bit of irony in the choice of what I skipped that summer as I spent this most recent Sunday visiting a real live Thomas the Tank Engine with my wife and son tomorrow.

At the end of 2000, I moved to Kansas City, MO and the AMC Barrywoods 24 has been my home screen ever since.  My first film in Kansas City was yet another Tom Hanks film, Castaway, on December 29th, 2000, at 10:45pm, at the low cost of $5.00, student rate.  Chuck Noland…”no land,” cute, right…was no Forest Gump, but damn if that Tom Hanks can act!

The adventure has continued and will into the future.  The first stage of my moviegoing is nearly complete.  This Saturday, June 18th, 2011, I will be seeing my 1000th movie.

I will be posting again on the event, but the short story is that I am shooting for a 7:00pm-ish show of Green Lantern, probably the full monty 3-D version.

This is not a commercial for AMC Theaters.  But I can’t deny the hospitality that AMC Theaters has always showed me.  From the gift for my achievement to always greeting me with open arms for every show that I attend at my home theater of Barrywoods, they have exemplified excellence in providing a great theater experience.

In their honor and as a show of thanks for their kindness, I have tallied my moviegoing life as it has interacted with AMC Theaters.  Oh, if you’re wondering how I know all this…I have ever stub from my moviegoing life.  You call me crazy, I call it reverence for a beloved form of art.

THE AMC THEATERS I HAVE VISITED:
AMC Academy 8, Greenbelt, MD
AMC Academy 6, Greenbelt, MD
AMC Union Station, Washington, D.C.
AMC Shore, Long Island, NY
AMC Barrywoods, Kansas City, MO
AMC Town Center, Leawood, KS
AMC Metro North 6, Kansas City, MO (no longer open)
AMC Van Ness 14, San Francisco, CA
AMC Studio 30, Olathe, KS
AMC Stonebriar 24, Frisco, TX
AMC Mainstreet, Kansas City, MO
AMC Cherry Creek 8, Denver CO
AMC La Jolle, San Diego, CA
AMC Independence 20, Independence, MO
AMC Creve 12, St. Louis, MO
Midland Theater by AMC (for Kevin Smith’s Red State)


AMC MOVIES BY YEAR

1994: 5
1995: 11 1996: 23
1997: 20
1998: 15
1999: 4
2000: 8
2001: 20
2002: 23
2003: 32
2004: 24
2005: 26
2006: 42
2007: 83
2008: 134
2009: 135
2010: 78
2011: 46

729 of my 999 movies to date have been with AMC.

Thanks AMC.  Thanks.

Box Office Challenge
Thraxxus sat atop his throne for a mere week before having his record setting PERFECT WEEK tied not once, but twice, by JUNIOR and KENFU.  Cheers to you both and Kenfu, I already owe you Cars 2, another pick if you like, and Junior, your pick is my command as well.  Here were last week’s box office results as well as the four entries into the Box Office Challenge:

BOX OFFICE WEEKEND RESULTS (Two Weekends Ago)
1. X-Men: First Class $55.1 million
2. The Hangover Part II $31.3 million
3. Kung Fu Panda 2 $23.8 million
4. Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides $17.9
5. Bridesmaids $12 million
6. Thor $4.2 million
7. Fast Five $3.1 million
8. Midnight in Paris $2.7 million
9. Something Borrowed $848,013
10 . Jumping the Broom $844,909

JUNIOR Top 5 (15 Points)
1. X-Men
2. The Hangover 2
3. Kung Fu Panda 2
4. Pirates
5. Bridesmaids

KENFU Top 5 (15 Points)
1. X-Men
2. The Hangover 2
3. Kung Fu Panda 2
4. Pirates
5. Bridesmaids

Karzack Top 5 (13 Points).
1. X-Men
2. Hangover 2
3. Kung Fu Panda 2
4. Bridesmaids
5. Pirates

REEL RHINO TOP 5 BOX OFFICE PICKS (11 Points)
1. X-Men: First Class
2. Kung Fu Panda 1
3. The Hangover Part 2
4. Bridesmaids
5. Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides

Since the weekend is alive and kicking and I have been off the grid, I offer a week off from the Challenge.  My picks for the weekend are as follows:

1. Super 8
2. X-Men: First Class
3. The Hangover Part II
4. Kung Fu Panda 2
5. Pirates 4

While I think Judy Moody and the Not Bummer Summer will have some pull with the youngins, the 5 I picked are all playing on 3000 or more screens.  Judy Moody is playing on just under, but I still don’t see it generating enough momentum.  Cars 2 will hold its own, but Ms. Moody, probably not.

(PS…I made my picks early in the weekend.  While I nailed it, the contest was off, so I still consider myself a perfect week virgin.  So my 5 picks were this last weekend’s top five.)

Until next time….1000, I’m a knockin’!

Take care, Reel Rhino

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Cyclic Storms and Logos

Posted on 12 June 2011 by Caravaggio


Upon my trip to Southeastern Missouri, I had hoped to be able to provide some riveting stories with accompanying pictures of the fantastic natural phenomena of cyclic storms (e.g.; tornadoes) and the subsequent horrific human tragedy it often wrought. What I discovered was an army of well-intended people flooding the area mixed in with an army of spectators. Admittedly, I was in the viewer/spectator category and we never made it to the loci of the aftermath. We did speak with my wife’s family, many of whom were impacted by the storm. They lost their roof but kept their lives. As is so fascinating with these events, just two neighbors down the street from their house, the property was swept clean from the foundation. It was my feeling that an inquiry into the fate of these people was too intrusive and rude. Simply put, I didn’t want to add to the negative weight of the situation through my questions and commentary – so I remained silent. Additionally I did speak with another cousin (evidently every other person in that town is a relative of mine), who stated the only injuries occurring now are the ex-home owners, who have to walk through the debris field when searching for their belongings, getting lower leg cuts and puncture wounds. Also what I can report to you is that the primary route that did take 5 minutes now takes over two hours to navigate the debris-lined streets because of the onslaught of traffic. There are no street signs. And every Government Agency you can think of is on the scene.

My next topic is more of an announcement about me taking a hiatus from writing and commenting. Related to this, my current thinking is that of permanently retiring this nom de plume. Never was it my intention via Caravaggio to bully or abuse others through the role of antagonist. Recently it became clear that the nuances of my approach might not have been as evident as I’d hoped. My focus over the past year and a half was to combat the utility of logophobia and not mindlessly troll for a reaction (although I bet Caravaggio came close to this on many occasions – and therefore an apology is most likely due — My apologies!). Logophobia (in its extended definition) is a doctrine about the utility of rationality that states logic cannot be an objective constraint on us… it is just whatever we make it, and how we make it depends on what we value. As I hope you have come to realize without any ambiguity that I find the use of logophobia inexcusable, utterly distasteful, and highly intriguing at the same time. Its utility on this weblog was as a flame in which the moth named Caravaggio could not resist. Caravaggio embraces logos! As I have witnessed, numerous threads veered wildly because of my comments being interpreted, not through the lens of philosophy, but rather as personal insult. Again, my apologies for being the genesis of “bad karma” for I truly meant no harm.

Therefore, fellow active authors, commentary participants, and even passive lurkers all, Caravaggio is no more – a victim of his own making. However, once my current work settles down a bit, I shall be back with a new name and a new doctrine to evangelize. I can actually envision the grimacing, wincing and flinching as I type this.

Peace to you and yours.

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But.. But.. Bilderberg Group is Fake Right!??!

Posted on 10 June 2011 by Thraxxus

The term “Conspiracy Theory” has evolved into this thing that can be readily used to dismiss practically anything off handedly. Take the recent loss of all documents related to UFOs by the Australian government and military right when they were due to the public. Once could say that the loss of ALL OF THOSE DOCUMENTS was most likely on purpose – of course that same theory can easily be dismissed by anyone as a Conspiracy Theory. So what do we do when at least part of one of those Conspiracy Theories is starting to be covered by mass media as at least partially true? Is it still a Conspiracy Theory?

Time Magazine is now covering the Bilderberg Group. For years borderline nut jobs like Alex Jones have been talking about the Bilderberg group, hell he even went so far as to go to one of the “secret” meetings and protest it (reportedly he was detained there), and they have been constantly dismissed as Conspiracy Theorist Nutbags – the real problem with Jones is that his delivery mechanism borders on psychopathic madman. So, what do we say to those say nutjobs when a major publication is now covering the same story? Granted one can easily see that Time Magazine isn’t covering it in the same direct, borderline crazy way as an Alex Jones, but they are covering it nonetheless – and that is an important thing in its own right.

Time Magazine is telling you that the Bilderberg Group and their yearly meetings are real. Think about that. They aren’t saying that they know what happens inside of a meeting, but they have supplied what some people who have gone to those meetings have said about it. As there is no way to confirm or deny those stories we have to leave them in the category of conjecture. But again – Time Magazine is telling you that the Bilderberg Group and their yearly meetings are real. Wait a second – this group and its meetings have been dismissed by many for years as Conspiracy Theory right?

I think people need to look at the term Conspiracy Theory as a Conspiracy Theory. If a person quickly denounces something, without any proof to the contrary, as a Conspiracy Theory then I suggest you consider their statement as one. Why would someone so quickly dismiss anything with no actual information?

Me? I believe in all possibilities, regardless of how silly. Remember all those years ago, when the world was flat? The people that said it was round? Dismissed as crazies that would fly off the edge. I believe that anything is possible but question everything. You say there is a Bilderberg Group? They meet once a year? Who are they? Show me proof. Notice I have not dismissed the theory, just asked for proof. Of course, the long standing debate here is what do you define as proof enough to believe in something?

Billions of people have believed in many religions with no proof – just faith. Remember that. Hell – just a few weeks ago there were loads of folks that were convinced that the world was going to end precisely at 6pm, in each time zone, and they believed that without proof – just some dude telling them, for the second time, that he was really really right this time.

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Yes, It was dumb.

Posted on 07 June 2011 by Thraxxus

So there is this Democratic Congressman in New York who decided that it was a great idea to Tweet a picture of himself in boxers (sheah whatever) to some random woman he doesn’t even know on the internet – not really news is it? Congressman, hell politicians, the world wide are dumb as stones, often break the law (seriously look at the collective rap sheet for the great politicians of the USA – you can find it all over the internet), are human and thus think with their genitalia often times more often than their pea sized brains, and for some reason think they are above scrutiny and sometimes the law. Why then are we surprised? This is not the first time in the last three months I have brought this up. Hell I am pretty certain that yet another moronic politician will do something monumentally stupid in the next 90 days – and the frequency of stupid based events seems to be picking up speed.

Why is this story so compelling? Enough so that every news station in the USA has covered it to death? NPR for example mentioned this story three times, playing the same crap clips over and over again, over the span of 90 minutes yesterday. For shame NPR, for shame. The reason this story is not just some smut based lunacy originating once again from the bowels of the United States Political Machine is that the congressman in question – one Anthony Weiner (seriously, I know right?) lied about what happened –  several times. Then yesterday he decides, seemingly at random, that his story holds less water than the air in Arizona right now (bad taste?) and that he now must come clean to save face. Why? Allow me to illuminate you, the die hard Blinkinblogs reader – there is no saving face from a series of lies all said on national television – unless of course you are the President and had weird cigar based sex with an intern – still applauding Clinton on pulling that series of BS off.

What did the big dick say? Weiner had a list of smart wild ass lies.

  1. “I was hacked! ” – This one cracks me up.
  2. “I am not sure if the person in that photo is me!” “Photos can be manipulated,” he told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer. “Photos can be of one thing and changed to something else. We’re going to try to get to the bottom of what happened,” he said. – Wait – you aren’t sure if it is you in that photo? How is that even possible? Either you did take a shot of yourself, or you did not.

What have we learned children? Being dumb is bad. Being a dumb Congressman is worse – and should be expected. Being a dumb lying Congressman is hilarity – and, we hope, spells certain doom for the career of said moron.

In the end he said “To be clear, the picture is of me and I sent it.” We know dumb ass, we know.

And now for something completely different! A smart politician! ok, I lied. It’s Sarah Palin – being.. um.. Sarah Palin. I apologize ahead of time for getting even more stupid all over you.

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Growth of Gestural Interfaces marks Transitory Period in Technology

Posted on 05 June 2011 by Caravaggio

After camping in a remote part of Nebraska this weekend, I am almost done with feverishly speed-reading through my cumulative podcasts, readers, and emails to catch-up before the new week is upon me (what an experience to go “cold turkey” without a cell phone or even a kindle!). One article about Gestural Interfaces caught and held my attention. This is primarily due to a conversation I just had with a good friend who is a steadfast gamer. He had recently purchased L.A. Noire. As was explained to me, the game is somewhat revolutionary in that it has introduced intricate facial gesticulations as part of the story line and makes interpretation of these micro-expressions central to the overall game experience. Being a fan of the Psychologist Paul Ekman and his research on micro-expressions and its socio-biological underpinnings, the thought of L.A. Noire is very intriguing to me. By-the-way, Ekman’s work was the underpinning for the T.V. show, “Lie to Me” and it’s primary character, Dr. Cal Lightman.

The article, “Gestural interfaces: a step backwards in usability?” illuminated that recent implementation of Gestural-driven UIs have ignored well-tested and proven standards of interaction design. It seems that Specialists at the NielsenNorman Group are rather disgusted by iPad design standards (or the lack thereof) and the present fad in site navigation, referencing (picking on) USA Today’s new section navigation. This is where I offer a philosophical point a la Caravaggio. When specialists begin screaming about widespread change disrupting the “norm” – the cited change is most likely necessary and illuminative of a new paradigm about to gain market traction. Ergo, I believe the development path is heading in a correct direction, counter to the negative waxing of the NielsenNorman people.

Physical interaction as an additional sensory attribute by which a digital interface can be navigated is here to stay. By Interaction I also mean interpretation (by user AND by machine) of a physical dimension, such as a micro-expression, which is necessary to close the inter-activity loop of the user to the application. Currently several disciplines are heading on a crash course in Human Computer Dialogue with Interpretation logically being a paramount focus. Studies on emotive robots, mind-control computer mouse (mice), and embedded responsive biotechnology are moving ahead steadily.

If we were to draw an evolution time-scale line from today outwards into the future, we would be remiss if we did not mark right now as the true genesis point of technology beginning its path towards sentience. Stated another way, we currently have the baseline advances supported by evermore powerful computing required of a machine to understand human communicative nuances to the degree necessary to hold a meaningful discussion. Alan Turing would be proud.

Ref: Nielsen, J., iPad Usability: First Findings From User Testing, Jakob Nielsen’s Alertbox, April 26, 2010
Ref: Norman, D. A., Natural User Interfaces Are Not Natural, Interactions, 17, No. 3 (May – June)
Picture Attribution: http://www.feelix-growing.org/

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Box Office Preview-Box Office Challenge

Posted on 03 June 2011 by Reel Rhino

Like I said, this week will be hit and miss with me, but I didn’t want to skip out on the Box Office Challenge.  The rules and terms are all listed near the bottom of this post.

There is only one film opening this week worth noting…Ewan McGregor in Mike Mills BEGINNERS, of course!  Right…while I do think Mills semi-autobiographical film about his 75 year old father coming out of the closet after his mother passes away will be a fine effort in filmmaking, I don’t think the 5 screens will be enough to overpower Professor X and his First Class of mutant students.

Yes, X-Men: First Class is out in full force as of midnight tonight (well around 30 minutes ago as this goes to press) and it does look sharp and will be playing on 3,641 screens.  It is standing strong on Rotten Tomatoes at 86% with 124 reviews counted…not bad at all!  It even has Mills’ art house flick whipped, as it is coming in at 79%.  Submarine, the story of a boy plotting to save his parents marriage while attempting also to lose his virginity has them both in check, coming in at 91% fresh.  Submarine is only playing on 4 screens.  Oh, how the summer blockbuster can keep that art house fare in check.

I feel we can firmly vote on X-Men to take the weekend.  With poor word of mouth on Hangover spreading, I think the real competition will be from Kung Fu Panda 2, the only real family friendly competition.  The kids are loose and they need some entertainment, dammit!  The question is how many of the potential folks on Panda watch will instead be hitting the PG-13 X-Men.

Woody Allen’s Midnight in Paris (92% fresh at 100 reviews) is expanding to 147 screens and Terrence Malick’s unique existential effort, The Tree of Life (86% fresh) is expanding to 20 screens.  Too few opportunities in both accounts to vie for the top 5.

So last weekend….

BOX OFFICE WEEKEND RESULTS
1. The Hangover Part II $85.9 million
2. Kung Fu Panda 2 $47.6 million
3. Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides $39.8 million
4. Bridesmaids $16.5 million
5. Thor $9.5 million
6. Fast Five $6.4 million
7. Midnight in Paris $1.9 million (YOWZA: $33,268 per screen average!)
8. Something Borrowed $1.8 million
9. Jumping the Broom $1.82 million
10 . Rio $1.8 million

Thraxxus is coming off a PERFECT SCORE of 15…you still need to tell me what you want me to watch…your wish is my command, sir.  Can he do a two-fer?  Time will tell!

REEL RHINO TOP 5 BOX OFFICE PICKS
1. X-Men: First Class
2. Kung Fu Panda 2
3. The Hangover Part 2
4. Bridesmaids
5. Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides

There you have it!  Good Luck to all….

REEL RHINO’S BOX OFFICE CHALLENGE

THE RULES:
Scoring…for every correct guess, you get 3 points.  For every guess within one pick of the movie’s weekend slot gets you 2 points.  Finally, two picks away gets you 1 point.

Yeah…if you can’t figure out who is the winner, it isn’t really a contest, right?  Any ties will be determined first by whoever has the highest correct answer or series of correct answers.  If the tie persists, the winner will be determined by whoever submitted their picks first…yes, you are correct…I have the home field advantage.  Deal with it.

The format will be simple with each week’s challenge.  I will post the week’s opening films, the # of screens the film is playing (when known), and the RottenTomatoes.com score, if it has one at the time of the post.  I am going to omit listing those movies opening in extreme limited release, because they won’t have the seats to fight for one of the top five slots.  Fair enough, agreed?

That will be followed by the top ten from last week.  “Choose wisely.”  Remember that German commander in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade… it didn’t work out so well for him, learn from his lesson my friends.

The final segment of each week’s contest will be me, offering my picks.

You may submit your picks in one of three ways:
1. Enter your picks in the comments field of this post at http://www.BlinkinBlogs.com
2. Enter your picks in the comments field of this post at http://ReelRhino.com
3. E-mail your picks to ReelRhino@gmail.com

I will compile the week’s entries and post the winners at both BlinkinBlogs and ReelRhino as soon as possible, but hopefully by Monday evening at the latest.

THE PRIZE: For now, my friends, in the humble beginnings of the BOX OFFICE CHALLENGE, the prize is this: the champion of the week will have their selection of any film, which I will watch and review on both sites.  Don’t believe me?  See also: http://reelrhino.blogspot.com/2011/04/biebers-never-say-never-redux-watch.html

Yep…that happened.

GOOD LUCK TO ALL AND MAKE YOUR PICKS SOON!

Reel Rhino

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