"So Let it Be Written... So Let it Be Done"

The life and times of a real, down to earth, nice guy. A relocated New Englander formerly living somewhere north of Boston, but now soaking up the bright sun of southwestern central Florida (aka The Gulf Coast). Welcome to my blog world. Please leave it as clean as it was before you came. Thanks for visiting, BTW please leave a relevant comment so I know you were here. No blog spam, please. (c) MMV-MMXV Court Jester Productions & Bamford Communications

Saturday, November 29, 2008

SNMR 5.24: "Sliding Doors"

Tonight's SNMR feature is "Sliding Doors" (1998, PG-13, 99 minutes), starring Gwyneth Paltrow, John Hannah, John Lynch, Jeanne Tripplehorn, Zara Turner, Douglas McFerran and Paul Brightwell. The film was directed by Peter Howitt.

PLOT SUMMARY: What happens in a split second that can change the course of someone's life? PR whiz Helen Quilley (Paltrow) gets fired from her job then barely misses the tube, nearly gets mugged and comes home to find her wanker boyfriend (Lynch) in the sack with another woman (Tripplehorn). PR whiz Helen Quilley gets fired from her job, then barely catches the tube, meets and falls in love with a nice guy (Hannah), comes home and barely misses her scumbag boyfriend in bed with another woman. Helen's life goes two separate ways simultaneously for a while and then come crashing back together at the end.

MY OPINION: This is a cleverly written story which director Peter Howitt handles brilliantly, intertwining the two versions of Helen's life seamlessly, where in places you can only tell the difference in the two stories is by lead Gwyneth Paltrow's hair style.

Paltrow is very good and once again masters a convincing British accent. This is clearly John Hannah's best film role. John Lynch is annoying but good as the cheating boyfriend. The one weak link in this film is Lydia, Jeanne Tripplehorn's character. Any actress could have played her part and probably have done it better.

The film, now ten years old, has a good run time of 99 minutes. If ever they come out with a re-release of this movie on DVD, I'd consider buying it if it came with some cast interviews, deleted scenes and other goodies that I like. The version out now has none of that extra stuff. I like this movie a lot and recommend it. Worthwhile fluff, this. Go rent it.

***½ out of *****


Thursday, November 27, 2008

What if Noah lived today?

Click here to find out.

Happy Thanksgiving, everybody.

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Saturday, November 22, 2008

SNMR 5.23: "Fletch"

Tonight's SNMR feature is "Fletch" (1985, PG, 98 minutes), starring Chevy Chase, Dana Wheeler-Nicholson, Tim Matheson, Joe Don Baker, Richard Libertini, George Wendt and Geena Davis. The film was directed by Michael Ritchie.

PLOT SUMMARY: Irwin M. Fletcher is a newspaper reporter who writes a column under the name of Jane Doe. Fletch has gone undercover, pretending to be a junkie so he can investigate drug trafficking on the beaches of Los Angeles. While on the beach one day he is approached by a man who claims to have cancer and hires Fletch to murder him. Fletch agrees but smells something fishy. Turns out there's more to it than meets the eye. Can Fletch crack the story to meet his editor's deadline?

MY OPINION: This has long been one of my favorite movies. The script is excellently written, the story is smart, quick and clever. Chevy Chase is absolutely brilliant as the investigative reporter who comes up with the most clever disguises and alternate aliases in his quest to crack the story. The supporting cast is excellent, too, featuring a young Geena Davis and the stunning Dana Wheeler-Nicholson, who has spent most of her career in various television roles, in just her third film role. Director Michael Ritchie does a great job keeping the action and witty dialogue flowing in this film.

I need to upgrade my copy of this movie to the 'Jane Doe' edition, which probably has better special features than the DVD I own.

**** out of *****


Friday, November 21, 2008

Final thoughts on the election

As President-Elect Barack Obama continues to fill various cabinet posts and other positions in his new administration, I thought it would be interesting to look at some numbers from the election

The final electoral college vote count (270 needed to win) was 365 for Obama to 173 for McCain, now that Missouri's eleven electoral votes have officially gone to the Republicans. McCain carried that state by the narrowest of margins, winning the popular vote by only 3,632 votes (according to cnn.com.)

As of this posting, the final tally of popular votes went 53% (66,882,230 votes) for Obama to 46% (58,343,671 votes) for Mc Cain.

Nine states (FL, NC, VA, OH, IN, NM, CO and NV for 112 electoral votes) swung from Republican in 2004 to Democrat in 2008. No state that voted Democrat in 2004 defected to Republican in 2008.

The win for Obama wasn't as one sided as I had speculated that it might be but still much more comfortable than either 2000 or 2004, where the electoral votes in one key state made all of the difference.

I'd like to see the electoral college go away and have the popular vote be the only deciding factor. By eliminating the electoral college, I believe it would make it harder for the news networks to call states too early, which would benefit voters in the western states simply because of the time differences as you go west. Voters in these westren states can learn early who is winning and thus feel that their votes aren't as critical.

Another reason why the electoral college is outdated comes from my friend G, who has lived in Massachusetts his whole life. When I asked him which major party candidate he voted for, he said neither. He told me that he voted for the Libertarian candidate because he knew that Obama would carry Massachusetts, therefore making his would be vote for McCain useless.

If the antequated electoral college system must stay then it should be tweaked so that each states electoral votes could be split based on the percentage of popular vote in a state candidate. But if they did that it would still be useless.

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Saturday, November 15, 2008

SNMR 5.22: "Charlie Wilson's War"

Tonight's SNMR feature was going to be "Jumper," but the scribester, at the eleventh hour, suggested we review that one over on the BIG SCREEN. So go read our reviews on that one over there. Instead, tonight's SNMR review here is "Charlie Wilson's War" (2007, R, 102 minutes), starring Tom Hanks, Julia Roberts, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Amy Adams and Ned Beatty. The film was directed by Mike Nichols.

PLOT SUMMARY: This is a biopic of Congressman Charlie Wilson of Texas, and his own private war between the Afghans and the Russians, which took place in the 1980's.

MY OPINION: Right off the bat, I had a feeling that this movie would be good. There's very few movies Tom Hanks has done that I have disliked. Philip Seymour Hoffman is excellent and ably demonstrates here that he is a very talented and versatile actor, who I think is still underrated even if he won an Oscar a few years ago. I really didn't like Julia Roberts in this film. Sure, her acting was decent but I think they could have found a different actress who would have been just as good or better for the part. The rest of the cast is excellent as well.

Mike Nichols is as good a director as we have these days. He is ably suited to take a story based in ho-hum historical events and transform it into something interesting and witty. I like the fact that Nichols virtually seamlessly intertwines real-life footage of the Afghan Soviet War into the movie, giving it a more thorough grounding in reality.

I've never read the novel on which Aaron Sorkin based his screenplay, so I can't say how much variation there is between the two. I think that Sorkin does a great job of capturing the real life quirks and foibles of these people in his script, which helps to make the characters more likeable.

For me, the subject matter makes this is the type of movie that I enjoyed once but can't see the desire to watch again.

***½ out of *****


Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Meet me at Shooters for drinks

A few weeks ago I mentioned that I had started watching two old television series that I bought on DVD. The first of these series, of which I finished season one last night, is Melrose Place, which ran for seven seasons, from 1992-1999. As with many television shows, when they are running for the first time, I generally ignore them, though I do remember catching a few bits and pieces here and there. Recently though I've gotten into watching some of these old shows from the beginning to see what I was missing. I'm disappointed that I didn't pick up season two recently for cheap money when I had the chance. I'll keep my eyes out for it and rectify that error as soon as I can. Warning: some plot spoilers follow, so if you've lived your adult life in a virtual prime time television vacuum like me, beware! Don't say I didn't warn you.

The thirty-two episode first season cast included ten major characters living at 4616 Melrose Place:

Sandy Louise Harling (Amy Locane): Blond bombshell from South Carolina who moved to Los Angeles to wait tables while trying to become an actress. Unfortunately her character was written off the show after only twelve episodes, though her leaving was adequately explained within the story. Apparently part of the problem was that they saddled the New Jersey born actress with a Southern accent, she didn't like working in LA and the producers saw limited future in her character's story line.

Rhonda Blair (Vanessa Williams): Trendy hip hop aerobics dance instructor gets engaged towards the end of season one and is married off the show after thirty two episodes, some of which must take place in season two, since I would hope they wouldn't drop the character without reasonable explanation. Season one ended with her getting re-engaged.

Matt Fielding (Doug Savant): One of the first openly gay television characters who runs a soup kitchen and halfway house, mentoring kids. His major story arc is that he gets beat up for being a homosexual, gets fired from his job for the same and wins an out of court settlement from his employer, whom he sues for discrimination, to get his job back.

Jake Hanson (Grant Show): Bad boy character from whom the show spun off after a short two episode stint in season two of Beverly Hills 90210. Major story arc character is unemployed before getting a job as a motorcycle mechanic. When the store goes out of business, he partners with Jo to buy the shop and run it himself. Also discovers he's a dad through an old girlfriend and also that he may have HIV, as a result of a relationship with another former girlfriend.

Jo Reynolds (Daphne Zuniga): Moved to Los Angeles from New York to escape an alcoholic husband. Works as a freelance photographer and is Jake's love interest. She joined the show to replace the departed Amy Locane in the 13th or 14th episode.

Michael Mancini (Thomas Calabro): Apartment building manager and resident intern at local hospital who works long hours. Because of that practically ignores his wife, which leads him into an affair with another doctor at the hospital. His turns out to be the longest running character on the show. Generally likable until his affair storyline.

Jane Andrews Mancini (Josie Bissett): Homemaker, boutique shop worker and budding clothing designer had several interesting plot lines including struggling as a newlywed, getting pregnant, having a miscarriage, struggling at work with an obsessive anal retentive boss and her husband's extramarital activities. This character wears some of the ugliest outfits ever. Must be the result of her character being a clothing designer. Few women look good with boyishly short hair. Josie Bissett is not one of them.

Billy Campbell (Andrew Shue): All around nice guy who struggles with trying to become a writer. Supports himself by driving a taxicab and then eventually gets a job working as a writer for a magazine. He has several interesting story lines, including getting mugged while driving his cab, the death of his father, a boss who throws the seduction moves around like a beach ball and dating your roommate's sexy boss. Not to mention a platonic relationship with his very attractive female roommate. Of all the characters on this show, I can relate best to him.

Alison Parker (Courtney Thorne-Smith): Receptionist for D&D advertising, then promoted to a creative role, then lets job responsibilities slack and even quits her job because she's obsessed with a man who happens to be married. Finally has to deal with workplace rivalry caused by her boss dating her roommate.

Amanda Woodward (Heather Locklear): Becomes Alison's boss when she gets promoted in the ad agency. Falls immediately in love with Billy and dates him despite Alison's objections, then uses that to cause workplace stress and friction. Gotta love a little workplace cat fight between two good looking women. After breaking up with Billy, discovers that she's pregnant with his baby and uses that in her feud with Alison to make her jealous and drive a wedge between her and Billy. She joined the show about 2/3rds into season one and will end up appearing in the second most amount of episodes of all the cast.

Yeah, I'm hooked. Can't you tell?


Saturday, November 08, 2008

SNMR 5.21: "Back to School"

Tonight's SNMR feature is "Back to School" (1986, PG-13, 97 minutes), starring Rodney Dangerfield, Keith Gordon, Sally Kellerman, Burt Young, Robert Downey Jr., and Terry Farrell. The film was directed by Alan Metter.

PLOT SUMMARY: Thornton Melon (Dangerfield), owner of a chain of Tall and Fat clothing stores, decides on a spur of the moment decision to visit his son Jason (Gordon) at college. When Melon learns that Jason wants to drop out he decides to go to college too, becoming the oldest freshman ever. That's where the fun starts.

MY OPINION: This is a really fun movie. It pretty much is a 97 minute stand up routine for Rodney Dangerfield. There are a lot of jokes and one-liners. The cast is almost unheard of but very good, including Robert Downey, JR., Terry Farrell (who is most notable for her character Dax on Star Trek: DS9), cameos by Kurt Vonnegut, Sam Kinison, the movie debut of incredibly funny Boston area comic Steve Sweeney and Oingo Boingo - one of my favorite 1980's bands.

English actor Paxton Whitehead is absolutely brilliant as the incredibly stuffy business professor Dr. Philip Barbay.

The direction is crisp and you can tell that the cast had a good time making this movie, though at 97 minutes run time, I think this movie was too short.

The DVD edition I watched has some worthwhile extras but with such a funny movie as this, I would have liked to see some outtakes and bloopers.

**** out of *****


Tuesday, November 04, 2008

My voting record

Now that I've officially earned my right to complain for the next four years by voting, let me do a quick rundown of my Presidential election voting record:

1988: George HW Bush vs Michael Dukakis: Growing up in Massachusetts, I voted for the home state guy. The Duke. No apologies. Something about Bush I didn't like from the start. Though I did hear GHWB speak once in person (at Salem State College) after he was out of office and I was impressed.

1992: George HW Bush vs. William Jefferson Clinton: Didn't vote for Bush the first time, certainly wasn't gonna do it the second time around. Clinton had a magnetic personality and like this current election, the country needed a change from a Republican stranglehold on the Presidency.

1996: Bob Dole vs. WJ Clinton: Dare you think I would vote for Mr. No personality over Bill? Oh, no. Despite Clinton's sexual promiscuity, I think he was a better than average President.

2000: Al Gore vs. George W Bush: I voted for Al, who would have done an admirable job in the Oval Office. Too bad Al couldn't even carry his home state of Tennessee... never a good sign. I have four words about GWB: "Deer in the headlights." 'Nuff said. Damn Florida chads. I must say though that I was never more proud to be an American during this election. Amid all of the confusion and dispute over Florida's electoral votes, there was never any violence when the country went from a Democratic administration to a Republican one. How many times have we heard of fighting, murders and crime breaking out in other countries over elections where a different party is coming into power?

2004: John Kerry vs. King George: I am proud to write that I have never voted for a Bush and I never will. John Kerry, another Massachusetts guy, still would make a good President if he decides to run again someday. [Even better for him if he gets tabbed for a Cabinet post in 2008.] Damn Ohioans. Get it right in '08, will ya? One headline I read after the last election asked something like, "how can 50 million Americans be so stupid?" (referring to the re-election of Bush). Well you get what you ask for most of the time and America did with four more years of the current administration. "Deer in the headlights" still applies to W. Always will.

2008: Barack Obama vs. John McCain: At the beginning of the Presidential race I was a supporter of John Edwards and attended a town hall meeting of his last December in Derry, New Hampshire (my first such event, ever - of which I have photographic proof.) But since he dropped out, I've made no secret of the fact that I've thrown my weight, such as it is, behind Barack Obama. Another precedent broken - for the first time I've contributed financially to a Presidential campaign. Heaven help us if McRabid puffy cheeked squirrel guy wins...

I've even gone so far in this space to predict an overwhelming Electoral College victory for Obama, similar to the beating Mondale/Ferraro took in 1984 at the hands of Reagan/Bush I. Now let's see what the final results will be this time. No matter who wins though, I'll be happy to be done with the political ads and mailings that go along with such campaigns.

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Follow the Yellow Brick Road....

...to elect a new President.

Make sure you get out today and vote, even if it means you're voting for McCain/Palin. ;>)

Seriously. Go vote.

You have no right to complain if you don't cast your ballot.

== A public service message brought to you by the letters M, T and the number 2. ==

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Monday, November 03, 2008

Five things I am not

Found on the blog of the incomparable bluez at some time in the distant past:

So here goes.

ORGANIZED: The organization I picture in my mind somehow does not always translate into the material world. Don't ask me why, because I do not know.

OVERWEIGHT: Sure, I weigh more now than I ever have in the past, but I'm far, far from overweight. I could probably add 15-20 more pounds and be right in the preselected, insurance table weight range for a person of my age.

SHY: I used to be real shy as a young-un. For the most part not anymore. There are those few instances when my former shyness rears its butt-ugly head. However, a quiet and reserved public demeanor (my usual, normal self) should not be mistaken for shyness.

A FAN OF WINTER: It's been well documented by me here on this blog that I do not like winter. Snow at Christmas is OK, otherwise I can do without it. Cold temperatures? For me, that's anything below 40 degrees Fahrenheit. I'll pass, thanks. Autumn is okay, but if you've seen one dead leaf, you've seen them all.

A REPUBLICAN: For that matter, I'm not officially a Democrat, either. I'm a registered Independent. I believe in using my vote for the best candidate available no matter which party they are affiliated with. However, it just so happens that I've never voted for a Republican in the 21 years I've been a registered voter. That's not going to change this time around, either.

And there you have it, a brief list of five of the things I am not. I'd tag people to do it but no one usually does.

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Sunday, November 02, 2008

Fall Back

I used to have a clock like this when I was a kid. I thought it was cool because of the way the hammer kept repeatedly hitting the bells when the alarm would go off.

The bummer was that every so often the clock would wind down and stop and you'd have to manually wind it and reset the hands. Nowadays, I can't live with out my electric, two alarm clock radio with adjustable snooze.

Oh yes, I hope you didn't forget to change your clocks back by one hour. Standard time begins right now, at roughly 2 AM.

Me.... I'm sleeping soundly right now, enjoying my extra hour of z's. And you should be too!

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Saturday, November 01, 2008

SNMR 5.20: "Ghostbusters"

PLOT SUMMARY: Three scientists get kicked out of their university only to go into business for themselves. Their business: capturing and containing paranormal spirits -- ghosts. Amidst all of the weird things happening, the Ghostbusters discover an ancient secret society whose god is about to destroy New York City. Now it's up to the Ghostbusters to defeat Gozer and her minions and close the entryway to this dimension.

MY OPINION: I remember watching this movie in the theaters when I was a kid. It was funny then, and it's still funny now, 24 years later.

Dan Aykroyd and Harold Ramis came up with a frightfully original and subtly witty script. They, along with Bill Murray, Sigourney Weaver,
Rick Moranis, Annie Potts and Ernie Hudson are excellent. I believe you can tell that the actors had a lot of fun shooting this picture because it comes across in their performances. The scenes with the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man are comical yet pay homage to the classic monster movie flicks of the 1950's and 1960's. This is a film that at 105 minutes, seems too short.

Excellent, fun movie. Recommended viewing, especially if you haven't seen it in a while.

**** out of *****


Books of the Month - November 2008

This month I've picked two excellent selections for you.

The first selection this month is "The 10 Most Common Objections to Christianity" by Alex McFarland.

So what are these ten most common objections that this book covers? Well, let's see...

1. God is not real
2. Creation is a myth
3. The Bible is not completely authentic
4. The Bible is not completely accurate
5. Jesus was just a man
6. Jesus is not the only way to heaven
7. A loving God wouldn't send people to hell
8. People are basically good
9. Christians are all hypocrites
10. A merciful God wouldn't allow suffering

If you're like me and many other people, you've struggled with some or maybe all of these questions at one time or another. Well, this book doesn't provide all of the answers and it doesn't claim to. It couldn't possibly in 253 pages. What this book does is give the foundation for answers to these questions. The answers given are biblically accurate, factually correct and existentially satisfying.

Purchase your copy here and here.

The second selection this month is "What if the Bible had Never been Written?" by D. James Kennedy. This is one of the books I'm reading now.

There is no denying that the Bible has impacted the lives of many people throughout the centuries, whether they believed it to be a purely historical book or words to live by. But the Bible, more than any other book, is also the most maligned. The authors attempt to show that the Bible was the inspiration behind almost all of the great explorers, scientists, writers, artists, politicians and educators that the world has ever known. They also attempt to show what extremes non believers will go to discredit the Bible, dismissing it as myth or folklore, even in the face of overwhelming evidence to the contrary.

Purchase your copy here.