Monday, December 31, 2012

A delightful time in wintery Toronto

I spent the weekend with friends in Toronto for the first time during winter, and the results are: Toronto winters are the same as in Ann Arbor. I just traded one wintery mess for another, but in this case, I just had more fun things to do with a friend.

Here are some pictures from my weekend -

 I haven't eaten so good, meal after meal like this in so long. Byzantium on Friday night, Le Societe and the AGO on Saturday, and this brunch on Sunday morning at The Windsor Arms Hotel.

Hot chocolate at Soma in the Distillery district, very spicey, hit the spot after all the walking around the city.

 Daniel Craig's 'Casino Royale' swim trunks. I never thought I'd be so close to them.


 I took a few pictures on the inside of the X-Men exhibit when I was told I could not take any. Ooops.
 I answered this question via twitter at the AGO and my tweet posted up on their twitter feed board in the Contemporary Art section.

 Great exhibit, but very, very strange.
 A high view from a cozy cubby hole at the Art Gallery of Ontario.
 No pictures allowed, this is my only proof of a wonderful exhibit.
 They got a lot of snow in Toronto and it was cold. I discovered that my boots aren't waterproof from the road slush.
 
I'm going to have to treat my friend Glenn to this restaurant at Holt Renfrew when I visit in September. He's a great friend, great dining partner, and has walking stamina just like me.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Merry Buddhist Christmas

Since 2005 I have been a practicing Zen Buddhist, and in Buddhism, we do not celebrate Christmas. However, westernized Zen Buddhism recognizes that many of its followers grew up in Christian, Jewish, Catholic, etc., lifestyles, so it is understood that when December 25th comes around, many Buddhists happily embrace their family tradition of celebrating Christmas. And as a matter of fact, many Buddhist Jewish people I know happily still celebrate Hanukkah too. What I would like to try to impress upon my readers is that my practice of Buddhism is really all about the individual being of an open minded, open hearted mind frame, and open to participate in activities that bring joy to them and sharing in the goodness with others. Buddhism does not pray to Gods, and we do not think of the Buddha as a God or deity. He was a remarkable human being who taught humans about the ability for all of us to find Nirvana through meditation and looking inside oneself for peace. All human beings have this capability, the Buddha is inside all of us, but one has to seek it for themselves as no one or nothing can do it for you. I have a very long way to go in continuing to build up and strengthen my Buddha nature, but at least I'm on the right path. (Read this interesting view point from a Buddhist who celebrates Christmas with her family.)

Back in 2007 is took the precepts in Toronto (our sister sangha to the Ann Arbor community) and accepted a Buddhist name, Suhak, which means, 'To cultivate and learn'. Due to a very busy schedule thanks to school and work in the past 2 years, I haven't been able to attend services as often as I would like. But I do go, and I even volunteered for an event in September and participated in a memorial service in August. In 2006, that was the first year when I stopped putting up my Christmas tree. Especially living alone in my apartment and not having many visitors come by, I did not see the need to have it up anymore. And as the years passed, I got more used to not putting up a tree. On a trip to London in December 2010, I even donated to my friend Lucinda, some Christmas ornaments that I no longer used. They were beautiful and I wanted my English friend to decorate her pretty tree with them (I helped her put them on her tree even). I still very much enjoy the Christmas spirit and I love looking at trees when I am out and about town, and when I visit family and friends. I do burn Christmas scented candles from Yankee Candle, and I have a cool tree topper in the form of a star that turns different colors. Although I don't have a tree to attach it to, I hook the clasp upon the window sill of my living room, and me and my cat Krystal like looking at the pretty star turn into 5 different colors. This is my way of scaling back on the Christmas decorations, but also still acknowledging it in my own Buddhist way.

Because I'm blessed with friends and family who give me gifts for Christmas, I'm more than happy to keep that tradition by giving them gifts as well. But I am mindful of a budget and I get cool, unique, personal gifts that I know they will enjoy. I splurged a bit on my baby nephew Myron who is now 10 months old, and my oldest nephew, well, since he's 19, he expects money (his birthday is Dec. 19) and I'm also pitching in a bit more money to make up for his mom not being with us (Suzy died in 2008). Just because I'm Buddhist doesn't mean I expect everyone else to scale back on Christmas, and I do enjoy being with my family. I don't make it a big long day of celebration, but I spend quality time with them, exchange gifts, eat, and go. That's how I roll on Christmas.

So tonight, my dining room table is full of packages of small cool gifts, and I'll be making some chocolate chip oatmeal cookies that only I appear to be able to successfully make in my family, and I got some small cookie packages to add those homemade cookies as a gift too. I don't have to travel far to see family, and I didn't stress out with shopping. In fact, I used only a handful of merchants: Amazon.com, Barnes & Noble, Walgreens, Michael's Craft, Game Stop, Avon, Teahaus of Ann Arbor, and Bellanina Day Spa. Two of these places were online, and the others were just across the street from where I live, or close to work. No mall shopping at all!

Now that I'm on winter recess from school, I have so much time available, I literally am at a lost for what to do with my time. I feel like a slacker... I should be doing something that's causing me a migraine, but I'm not. I'm going to chill out, lay low, and prepare for my wonderful getaway trip to Toronto this Friday - Sunday. I'm so glad I booked this trip! So with that, I just wanted to say, Merry Christmas to those who celebrate and just have fun and be nice to people. Cheers and hapchang.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Film Review Double Feature: The Hobbit & Lincoln

What better way to use a Visa gift card to purchase movie tickets to catch up on the hottest films in theaters at the moment? So this weekend, I treated myself to two films that were on my must see list in December, and I'm very pleased to report that I enjoyed both immensely.

The Hobbit

On Saturday I watched The Hobbit! The last time I was in the theater to see a Peter Jackson film from the Tolkien novels was back in 2003 when I saw Return of the King three times. Why so many times? Well, the movie was brilliant, and it was, at the time, thought to be the final film that any Lord of the Ring fan would see from Jackson on the big screen. So when we all first learned a few years ago that The Hobbit was going to be made into a film, but directed by Guillermo Del Toro, we were just excited to see the story continue, but more as a prequel to offer the back story to everything that preceded The Ring coming into Bilbo Baggins' possession. Yes, we saw a glimpse of that in Return of the King, but as The Hobbit told the story, it was much deeper than that.

In The Hobbit, it begins with the older Bilbo writing a book about his adventures so that his nephew Frodo could read about it one day. It was nice seeing Ian Holm and Elijah Wood reprise their roles, and of course it was great seeing Ian McKellen as Gandalf. But in The Hobbit, Gandalf comes to Bilbo on behalf of the dwarfs in soliciting his assistance in helping the dwarfs return to their Lonely Mountain home which they lost to a dragon, Smeagol. Slowly we are introduced to about a dozen dwarfs and some we immediately take to. They are a lively and funny bunch, but all the hysterics are probably saved for this first of three films as the dwarves are headed for a battle that not all will survive. Like in the first trilogy, a hobbit is USED again to help another race of people because apparently, due to their simple low key lifestyles and having no natural enemies, Hobbits are the go to people to help other races or all of Middle Earth from doom. To me, that makes the smallest and simplest people in Middle Earth to be the most powerful off all creatures because they are the key to solving major turmoil in Middle Earth. The Hobbit is surely an adventure that Bilbo Baggins is cut out for, and the role is wonderfully played by Martin Freeman, who does look like a younger Ian Holm. A highlight in the film is the scene with Gollum which reminds us of the brilliance of Andy Serkis and CGI. Gollum is a hot mess and we see him in a state of madness that we have missed in almost a decade.

The Hobbit, An Unexpected Journey is completely entertaining, nostalgic, and fun. It can be a little dizzying with the introduction of a lot of characters most of us aren't familiar with yet. I read the trilogy, and I have the Hobbit book, but, I just never got around to reading it. But I shall! As of this weekend, worldwide the film has passed the $200 million box office and I think it's safe to say that a lot of people are excited that a new Middle Earth saga trilogy is back in theaters again. I am too.

Score: 9/10


Lincoln

Out of all the United States Presidents, most Americans can easily say who was the 16th President, and it was Abraham Lincoln, the President who freed the slaves! In Steven Spielbeg's Lincoln, starring Daniel Day-Lewis as Lincoln, it tells the story of those pivotal two years after his second re-election, and at the height of the stupid Civil War (evil Southern states wanted to keep slaves), and his determination to abolish the slavery of human beings from Africa. Although most people know about Lincoln, they don't know the details of his presidency that is depicted in Lincoln. As usual, Day-Lewis was marvelous... he's such a brilliant actor that it's getting tiring seeing him bring to life a character, fictional or non-fictional, and the viewer totally losing themselves in his performance due to how mesmerizing he is. He will receive yet another Oscar nomination for this performance, and I'm pretty sure he'll win the damn thing for the third time. He'll deserve it!

In keeping with the tone of the day, ignorant and hateful people who sadly were in charge of the country used the N-word ad nauseum throughout the film. Sometimes brutal honesty can be hard to watch or listen to, but that did not distract me from appreciating this cinematic adventure which felt like a documentary for a bit. And that's a good thing because it demonstrates the rich research that went into creating this film. Sally Field as Lincoln's wife Molly was very good. The women back then were just... women, they gave birth, wore dresses, and did their hair, and that's about it. But the relationship between Molly and Abraham revealed a disconnect due to his responsibilities for the nation and a historical crisis unfolding which could change the path of the country. So no, he could not mourn with Molly about the death of their child, as much as he wanted to, he couldn't, he had to be the President to set things as right as possible so that all Americans can live their life free and as equals. I expected to see Lincoln's assassination depicted in the film, so I was surprised when it was excluded.

I don't understand why the Ford Theater scene was not shown, perhaps to shave time off a film that was hitting the two-hour mark as it was, but Lincoln's assassination was announced to a crowd in a theater of a different performance and the people's reaction there was used as a substitute for those at the Ford theater. For the first president to be assassinated, and for this film to be about said president, I have some issues about them not presenting the historical Ford theater incident. Instead, we see Lincoln laying on a bed surrounded by his cabinet and a doctor, and his wife grieving, and then he's pronounced dead. The film ends with Lincoln giving a speech to demonstrate not only his orator skills for those times, but to also highlight what a remarkable man President Abraham Lincoln truly was, and what the country lost too soon after he installed the all important 13th Amendment to the United States constitution. If you think long and hard about it, if there was no President Lincoln, what would the world be like today, in fact, what would America be like today? I shudder to think.

Score: 9/10

Friday, December 21, 2012

I did it! - Weekend movies

Hey everyone, all the stress, sleepless nights, and migraines paid off! I got A's in both my Communication Activism and Marketing Management grad courses! I'm so damn relieved, and that means that after 7 courses, I still have a 4.0 GPA!!! I should treat myself to sushi for lunch today!! Yeah!!!!!


Also yesterday, my supervisor from a separate department gave me a Chase Visa gift card. So I will use that to go see the Hobbit on Saturday, and then Lincoln on Sunday! On Wednesday, the pediatric endocrinology department head doctor gave me a $50 Macy's gift card and I sho 'nuff turned that bad boy around and ordered via macys.com, these Zelda faux fur boots! They will arrive just in time for me to wear them while in Toronto NEXT weekend!


Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Whew! I made it! | The Hobbit | Lincoln

As you can imagine, I have been terribly busy with final projects for the winter term of grad school, and I lie not to you when I say that it took every bit of strength I had to complete the four papers and two presentations. I am by all legitimate accounts, fucking exhausted. I'm so tired that my body is aching from the stress and tension, and I haven't slept well in the past week because I tossed and turned at night thinking of my projects. Last night I took a muscle relaxant pill, and tonight I'll take another one to help catch up on sleep and calm the hell down. But with all that said, I strongly believed that my work paid off which will allow me to maintain my perfect 4.0 GPA, a feat I was hesitant to claim possible at the beginning of the semester. I knew as per the syllabus from both classes, I was going to have my work cut out for me, so it pleases me to know that was able to give my all.


In this three week break from school, I need to catch up on watching movies as the Oscar season is upon us. This weekend, I aim to go see The Hobbit and Lincoln! I will also go see Zero Dark Thirty in a couple of weeks. This prime Oscar bait film is so oscar baity that it has already debuted in 'select cities' to qualify for the Oscar nomination process, but the rest of the country will have to wait until Jan 11th. This time of year is when I am at the theater multiple times over a several weeks period. I try to watch all the best picture nominees, but if a particular film does not appeal to me, I won't bother with it, and in this case, it's Les Miserables for this year. I just detest musicals.

Controlled Christmas Shopping

I will do my Christmas shopping this weekend, and as always, I'm on a budget, but I'm halfway done because I bought all the females in my family their stuff from Avon. I will try to do all the dudes shopping at one place to keep my patience under control due to how busy it is at stores this time of year.

Detroit Film Theatre member

When I visited the Detroit Institute of Arts last month for the Faberge Egg exhibit, I paid for a membership with the Detroit Film Theater. As a cinephile, this was something that was long overdue and I'm glad I did it. Especially since I love and have supported the Toronto Int'l Film Festival for nearly 10 years, I also need to support the DFT. I received my membership information in the mail the other day, and it included a movie pass to watch four films at the DFT in 2013. I didn't expect that so I'm doubly excited to be a part of the DFT now!

And lastly...

On Friday, Dec 14th, like many of you, when I learned of the horror of the massacre of those children at Sandy Hook elementary and their brave teachers, I felt like someone kicked me in the stomach. I was in a state of disbelief that I got dizzy and had to sit down. I was watching the news report unfold via cnn.com at my co-worker's computer and we both were just horrified. I then declared that this country is going to hell in a hand basket. How many more innocent people will be murdered by a deranged person with guns that were designed to murder people? Why is this act so prevalent in America? This gun loving society still doesn't get it! Like my professor mentioned in the final class last night is that the president needs to seek out the brightest minds to create a commission that is dedicated to figuring out this problem in our country. There is no quick solution because the gun lovers are holding their guns closer to them now more than ever. They know it was bad what happened at Sandy Hook, and they are even more afraid of laws that will ban the very weapons that they have to use against human beings whom they perceive may bring harm to them. The weapons used to murder those beautiful innocent souls were not designed to kill rabbits or deer, it's military style weaponry that regular gun crazy civilians can buy.  It's just so fucking insane, and it's embarrassing to live in a country where it's ok to possess these type of powerful tools. And in the wrong hands of an insane, chemically unbalanced fuck, the horror is increased five-fold.

American society is sick, we need help, we need a cure in the form of solutions to limit access to these powerful weapons that were made to destroy lives either under the pretense of self-defense, or flat-out murder because of delusional hate, envy, jealousy, or just insanity. More of these types of mass killings by a semi-automatic weapon will occur... it can happen today, tomorrow, on Christmas day, or two months from now. It's going to happen again, and again, and again. So I ask this, what particular situation needs to occur on a more grander scale than Sandy Hook elementary for everyone in this society to proclaim in unison, ok, enough is enough, let's prohibit guns in this country? Let us become a civilized country by reviewing the state of mental health care, and start by banning the guns that were designed to kill dozens of humans all at one.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Overwhelming time: School, Projects, Movies!

I am in the final two weeks of Fall semester of Grad school and I cannot wait until it ends. I am utterly exhausted, and very stressed out. I'm so stressed that I have a pinched muscle in my upper back from tension, and my apartment looks like a tornado has gone through it! As of this week, I had an exam on Monday, and I have to complete four - yes, 4 papers, two presentations, and a website for my Communication Activist course 'F.A.C.T' (please visit it and reply to the blog posts on the main page, it's part of my class presentation on Dec 11th) - all this must be completed by Dec 17th. I'm staying up til midnight each night, and one of the papers is for a class project for my marketing mgmt class in creating a Marketing Plan for a cool local company called Balance Massage Therapy. And yes, I already reckon I'll be using their services to de-stress after this term!

I'm going to need one of these by month's end!
There are six people in my group, led by me (I'm the top student in my class and my instructor arranged the group dynamics this way so that I could lead by example - basically, I'm a victim of my own success) - however, one person is so far not pulling her weight and it's pissing me off, causing stress too. But, we'll get this project done and when we rate each other's participation, she'll be scored appropriately. I knew this semester was going to be tough, but so far I'm doing well in each class and I'm on pace to maintain my 4.0 GPA... fingers crossed.
In other news, there is a new addition to my family as of Tuesday. I have a new niece, Mackenzie Elise, born a month early on Dec. 4th at 4lbs. I'll meet her on Saturday on a quick escape from studying. And that brings me to another thing that occurred on Dec. 4th, I received from Amazon my Dark Knight Rises blu-ray (I pre-ordered two weeks ago), and I was surprised because I forgot about it. Sadly, I can't watch it right now, I won't be able to sit down and watch it until after the 18th, which is the final night of classes this term.

Yes! I'll be seeing these in person!
As I reported a couple weeks back, now more than ever I am so excited about my upcoming trip to Toronto. My friend has confirmed the tickets for the James Bond exhibit at the TIFF Bell Lightbox, and we'll see the Xmen exhibit as well, and then go another museum to watch a cool exhibit. And speaking of films, I did manage to treat myself to a second serving of Skyfall and I'm tempted for a third viewing, but, I'll save my pennies for other films that I need to watch in preparation for the upcoming Oscar season. And it's already off to an interesting start.
This week we have seen the announcements from the New York Film Critics, they have given Zero Dark Thirty their top honor, along with Daniel Day Lewis as Best Actor for Lincoln. But the National Board Review also named ZDT as the top film, but gave Best Actor to Bradley Cooper. Hmmm. But what really impressed me was the Best Original Screenplay winner for 'Looper' (read my 9.5/10 review). Usually in December/January, I go to the theater to check out the new released films that are hot and part of the Oscar chatter, so that means I'm obligated to see ZDT and Lincoln automatically. Perhaps I'll see one of those in Toronto. I can tell you which films I'm very lukewarm about, and they are Django Unchained and Les Misérables. You know, sometimes there are just films that don't turn you on, and of the films released this month, these two are the ones I'm least interested in. Quentin Tarantino's latest film 'Django', I have heard about all this summer and it automatically just falls into the 'wait until it comes out on DVD' films. And for Les Misérables, I just don't like musicals, so that has been scratched off entirely from my must see list. But just because I don't like musicals doesn't mean that Les Miz is not a good film, it most likely is as it is directed by 'The King's Speech' Oscar-winning director, Tom Hooper, and starring Hugh Jackman and Anne Hathaway, but I'm still not moved by it.

Here is the NBR list of winners per Hitflix:

Best Film: "Zero Dark Thirty"
Best Director: Kathryn Bigelow, "Zero Dark Thirty"
Best Actor: Bradley Cooper, "Silver Linings Playbook"
Best Actress: Jessica Chastain, "Zero Dark Thirty"
Best Supporting Actor: Leonardo DiCaprio, "Django Unchained"
Best Supporting Actress: Ann Dowd, "Compliance"
Best Adapted Screenplay: "Silver Linings Playbook"
Best Original Screenplay: "Looper"
Best Animated Feature: "Wreck-It Ralph"
Breakthrough Actor: Tom Holland, "The Impossible"
Breakthrough Actress: Quvenzhané Wallis, "Beasts of the Southern Wild"
Best Directorial Debut: Benh Zeitlin, "Beasts of the Southern Wild"
Best Foreign Language Film: "Amour"
Best Documentary: "Searching for Sugar Man"
Best Ensemble: "Les Misérables"
Spotlight Award: John Goodman ("Argo," "Flight," "ParaNorman," "Trouble with the Curve")
NBR Freedom of Expression: "The Central Park Five"
NBR Freedom of Expression: "Promised Land"
William K. Everson Film History Award: 50 Years of Bond Films
Top Films (in alphabetical order)
"Argo"
"Beasts of the Southern Wild"
"Django Unchained"
"Les Misérables"
"Lincoln"
"Looper"
"The Perks of Being a Wallflower"
"Promised Land"
"Silver Linings Playbook"
Top 5 Foreign Language Films (in alphabetical order)
"Barbara"
"The Intouchables"
"The Kid with a Bike"
"No"
"War Witch"
Top 5 Documentaries (in alphabetical order)
"Ai Weiwie: Never Sorry"
"Detropia"
"The Gatekeepers"
"The Invisible War"
"Only the Young"
Top 10 Independent Films (in alphabetical order)
"Arbitrage"
"Bernie"
"Compliance"
"End of Watch"
"Hello I Must Be Going"
"Little Birds"
"Moonrise Kingdom"
"On the Road"
"Quartet"
"Sleepwalk with Me"
The National Board of Review Gala will be held on January 8, 2013.

Read more at http://www.hitfix.com/in-contention/national-board-of-review-names-zero-dark-thirty-best-picture-of-the-year#xAYJKVkhX32DhlbO.99

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Film Review: Jerome Bixby's Man from Earth (10/10)

I first saw this movie about two years ago, and tonight was my third time watching it, but the first time I'm reviewing it. I posted my review up at amazon.com where I can buy the video, and I was there to read reviews from other people who watched it to get a sense if anyone else thought this film was perfect too. Out of 251 reviews, 154 gave it 5-stars and 52 gave it 4-stars - these kind of ratings tell you that this is an unusually good film. I gave it a 5-star, and for the first time, I'm going to share another person's review of a film here at ToZ because I believe the reviewer mirrored my sentiments 110% - I'm just too tired to write as eloquent a review, but their name is posted for proper reference and credit. My brief review is first, and then the more detailed 'guest' review comment follows. What I hope to achieve by doing this is to help you make the decision to watch this film, it's really for sci-fi fans who love cerebral films that make you think, and give you the willies in thinking about the 'what ifs'.

5.0 out of 5 stars Spellbinding!, November 25, 2012
This review is from: Jerome Bixby's The Man from Earth (DVD)
Upon my third time watching this film, I felt compelled to share that this is a rare 5-star film. While it appears to have no budget, no special effects, no fight scenes... Man From Earth is a true cerebral sci-fi feast that really makes an intelligent and open-minded person think, 'Hmmmmm, very interesting, what if'? I'm that person. The film honestly captured the realistic emotions and responses of the cast, who are playing university faculty staff of the philosophies and religion departments, as they listen to a confession from John Oldman as he tells them he is 14,000 years old. Those who are strict Christians may have issues with this film as it makes you think and challenges dogma, but those who are more spiritually inclined find this to be an amazing adventure to give pause to inquire 'what if' and 'it could be'. The heavy dialogue may turn off those with a low attention span, but for others, they will be spellbound in this fantastic storytelling.


David Lee Smith as 'John Oldman' in Man from Earth

Brilliant guest review to be shared:

4.0 out of 5 stars I Loved It, and Would Have Loved More, September 18, 2012
By 
.
NO SPOILERS!!!

Imagine a group of professors and friends are attending a going-away gathering, and one of them blurts out that he's been alive for 140 centuries--14,000 years. What would you do?

Well, more properly, what would THEY do? A group of professors--people who love to intellectualize the improbable, to seek out empirical details to prove a thesis--THEY begin to ask questions of him, and out come the details. His panel of interrogators are an anthropologist, a biologist, an archaeologist, a devout Christian who is an art historian, and one very upset psychologist.

What follows is our movie, which is essentially an hour and a half argument-slash-discussion. Given such a proposition--as well as being told there is essentially NO change in this film's setting other than stepping out into the yard--one would be prone to call this movie boring, unchallenging and a poor way to spend 90 minutes.

But you couldn't be further from the truth.

Our caveman, John Oldman (c'mon!), is forced into his revelation; the movie begins when he is cornered at his home after skipping out on the faculty's going-away party. A few hints are dropped at the onset: among his sparse belongings is a very authentic-looking Van Gogh; he possesses a fascinating and very rare archeological artifact; and one of his friends says he hasn't aged a day in the 10 years they've been together. As they pressure him for the reason for his sudden departure from their faculty he blurts his news: he's been alive since the age of Cro-Magnon man, some 7,000 plus generations ago (and boy, is he owed some Father's Day cards!).

Obviously, his friends find it hard to believe, and the movie consists of their interrogation. What follows is a more serious-minded "Forrest Gump," as his observations inform the movie: from cave art to early migrations, from Sumerian to Indian to European to American cultures, from his interactions with Buddha to the founding of Christianity...John Oldman was there.

What is fascinating is how well his story holds together, as well as how interesting it is. If you find yourself questioning how such a topic could actually hold your attention, think: wouldn't you find it fascinating to meet such a man? What questions would you ask him? How would you try to poke holes in such a story? As the characters here are college professors, they are no slouches when it comes to dissing out the facts behind these events and eras.

So what IS the truth behind this story? Is he a shyster attempting to delude his friends? Or is he a caveman who has become a well-educated man (holding 10 doctorates). Of course, I won't reveal that detail. What I will tell you, however, is that the movie is clever and enthralling, both from a historical point of view to the psychological: for if his tale IS true, what would such a confession do to OUR cultural, historical and religious beliefs? When you're faced with eye-opening news about beliefs you always held to be sacrosanct, what happens to YOU?

From John's supposed interaction with pagan mythology, through Buddhism, to modern religion, there are few sacred cows he is does not topple. One line I particularly liked from the movie--a line spoken by John Oldman--is, "Piety is not what the lessons bring to the people; it's a mistake they bring to the lessons."

I enjoyed "The Man from Earth." I do believe it is a bit brief and could have benefited from a little more historical revelation--but I will tell you that it has a terrific ending, one I really enjoyed. In addition, it is well cast: David Lee Smith plays the caveman, and several other actors will be recognizable to you. All handled their roles well and lent believability to this small but intelligent film.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

No 'Black Friday' for me, I shopped at the Salvation Army Thrift Store!

Black Friday Idiots in Somewhere, America 2012
I have mixed-feelings about this time of the year. Although I enjoy Thanksgiving and being with my family, and taking a moment to think about the things I'm thankful for, I'm also very cynical and down right depressed about the state of my country when I see so much emphasis placed on buying silly material stuff on special promotion at retailers. This is not new, this is something that has been bubbling under my skin for many years. Back in 2008, when I traveled to England the day after Thanksgiving, it was nice to be away from the crazy media about all the silly American shoppers lining up in the freezing cold to get their hands on a 50 inch TV (and it's always a damn TV that people want, isn't it?) for $129. However, being out of the country allowed me to really see for the first time, just how sad the entire shopping circus has become. And that year was when a security guard at Walmart got trampled over and died from his injuries. Let's read that again, a Wal-mart! It's always the same stores that we see in the media that features stupid people acting stupid: Wal-mart, Target, KMart, and Best Buy,... you get the picture. And yes, at the large malls, many other retailers have their influx of the cheap crazy people too, but it's just more newsworthy to show the really insane and those people are at the stores I list. I don't do Wal-Mart, I haven't done KMart since 2002, and I haven't visited Target since earlier this year. What I have been doing as of late is shopping online through Gaiam.com or Nordstrom.com. I love to shop, but I'm very selective, and I'm always on a budget, and I HATE crowds, large, loud, crazy, rude, crowds at the mall.
1621 S. State St., Ann Arbor, MI
My primary purpose in writing this blog article is to share with you an experience I had when I visited the local Salvation Army Thrift store here in Ann Arbor (image above) today. I have been there a few times before, and after today's visit, I need to make this a routine visit from now on. When I travel to England, I visit the charity shops, that's what they are called there, and I have found some neat stuff. One of my favorite sweaters is from a charity shop I got in Black Heath, a neighborhood of London. Earlier this week as I was reviewing my budget, which includes my December rent, Christmas (doh!), and my impromptu weekend trip to Toronto, I realized that I just don't have it in my budget to buy a new winter coat that I have had my eye on, which cost $235. The current coats I have are still functional, but I really need a new coat as this winter is going to be brutal, I just sense it. So after realizing that I can't buy myself a new coat, that's when I thought about going to the thrift shop to see what coats they had for sale there.

As a back history, I have known many people, poor, middle-class, upper class, who have shopped at thrift shops. It is amazing what you can find there! If you have a flair for fashion, a thrift store is a goldmine, and according to the completely filled up shopping carts at the Salvation Army store this afternoon, there are a lot of thrifty & fashionable, and budget-conscious shoppers in the Ann Arbor area. I swear I think people were even wearing clothes that they had previously bought from there while shopping for more stuff. Well, the thrift store here in Ann Arbor is gigantic, and had I been better prepared and allowed for more time to be there, I could have easily spent several hundred dollars. But I didn't want to go overboard. I went over to the coat section and it's so nice that they have the coats color coordinated and by length so that I could go to the exact rack where my coat style was located. I saw several coats that I really like and I tried them all on. But I wound up buying a black mid-length winter Liz Claibourne coat that was in excellent condition! I could not believe it, I still can't believe I have such a nice coat! Whomever had it before did not wear it often, if ever. And it was ONLY $24.99. I'm sure this coat would have gone for $199 at the store. I love it!!! I also bought a lighter black jacket for $6.99, a long overcoat for the office (it will look great with my leggings) at $2.99 (OMG!), a beautiful blue/purpleish sweater wrap for $6.99, a black mock turtle neck for $1.99 (Banana Republic), and a small lamp for my bedside table (my previous lamp of 17 years died this summer) for $2.99  My total was $49 and some change. Un-believable!

No crowds, no crazy parking wars, no fighting over bargains... just a pleasant experience of shopping at a thrift store, two miles away from the crazy mall, and finding donated articles that I bought and need, with the monies going to help the Salvation Army help people who need their services. So, for this Thanksgiving, I'm thankful for my common sense and decency.

Lastly, since it's that time of year and if you're in the spirit of donating some money to a worthy cause, why not consider visiting the Salvation Army website and make a donation into their Online Red Kettle. :-)


Tuesday, November 20, 2012

There's no shame in using Closed Caption!

A year ago I went to the theater to watch Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy because I just love spy espionage films, and practically anything British. And TTSS had all the fun ingredients, on top of being an Oscar bait film starring the always glorious, Gary Oldman, who finally received his first Oscar nomination for playing George Smiley. But this isn't so much a review per se, even though I give the film a solid 8/10 score, I'm using this film as a confession of sorts.

While I was watching the movie in the theater, I found myself straining to understand what all the characters were saying. See, I love the British English, and I'm accustomed to it, however, when there is whispering dialogue, covert references, and MI6 code words and lingo tossed here and there in hush tones... I miss the plot, and I hate that! I was involved in watching the film, but I know in my heart of hearts, I only gathered approximately 85% of what was actually being said on screen because I couldn't hear it, or I did  not understand what was being said because of the hyperbole that was being used, along with the whispery tone.

So, when I rented the blu-ray of TTSS a few days ago, I put it in the player and I totally set the subtitles/close caption on, so that I could READ all that was being said.  I have no shame in this because again, I wanted to have a full understanding and appreciation for what was being said, albeit in MI6 code words, hyperbole, out dated British slang, etc. And when I watched it at home, I was amazed at the clarity of how the plot of the film made more sense simply because I was able to read and know with 100% accuracy, what was being said.

Benedict Cumberbatch and Gary Oldman
I do not turn on the subtitles when I watch British, Aussie, or Irish films... I tough it out, even if I have to watch the movie numerous times, I force myself to understand what they are saying. We have the ability to re-wind at home, but not at the theatre. There have been a few times when, yet again, the characters are whispering something very important, and then I select that scene to turn on subtitles to learn what was said. There should be a rule in cinema that when characters are whispering, to have subtitles come on automatically, because for the sake of realism, I know when people are whispering, outsiders are not suppose to hear, but danggit, I'm the viewer, I need to know. LOL!

Anyway, if you have been ashamed of turning on the closed caption/subtitles for accented English tongue films, do not fret, turn on that CC button and get the true meaning of what exactly is being said. I'm sure you'll enjoy the movie even more since you know what is being said.

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Communication Activism Graduate Course

For my Communication Activism class, me and my partner Virginia have decided to do our presentation on Food Activism. We have opted to create a website called F.A.C.T (Food Activists Coming Together) - I came up with the idea of the name and acronym. We will present our website and discuss it with our class on December 11th. As of today, I would like to invite you to visit FACT so that you can see what the website is all about, and I would greatly appreciate it if you could post on the blog, or on the messageboard. We would like to be able to demonstrate how people communicate and interact on the website in regards to the topic at hand, food activism. We will note how are people coming together to take our ideas and apply them to their own lives and share them with others, and become food activists themselves.

Please go to FACT and let me know what you think about it.

Thanks!

http://factcommunity.bravesites.com/

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Hoarding Hostess

Thanks to people such as these greedy, selfish, hoarding bastards, I could not find ONE Hostess chocolate cupcke (my favorite snack), Twinkie, or Ho Ho in my area! I'm hopeful that another company will buy Hostess and resume making these treats. It's not that I ate the cupcake regularly, but possibly, once a month, I treated myself to one when I felt like it. These people should be ashamed of themselves! Bitches! :p




Friday, November 16, 2012

Death of an American Icon Treat

Thanks to the selfishness of the Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers International Union (BCTGM), Hostess Brands will close down and 18,500 people will lose their jobs. The products that this company produced are pretty much recession proof because most people enjoy eating these unhealthy and happy times producing snacks. And I am one of them. I have been eating Hostess chocolate cupcakes since I've had teeth and it really irks me that a damn union killed this company. However, hopefully in the coming days the sugar shock from this disappointing news can dissipate and there will be new owners of these products so that Americans can still get their sugar on, but as of right now, I'm thinking of buying a couple of boxes and hoarding these bitches until the end of the world. I can freeze these, right? (sniff)


Read this statement from Hostess posted this morning, they were rather frank and pleaded with the union to make concessions, or else:

Hostess Brands is Closed.

We are sorry to announce that Hostess Brands, Inc. has been forced by a Bakers Union strike to shut down all operations and sell all company assets. For more information, go to hostessbrands.info. Thank you for all of your loyalty and support over the years.

HOSTESS BRANDS TO WIND DOWN COMPANY AFTER BCTGM UNION STRIKE CRIPPLES OPERATIONS

Friday, November 16, 2012 at 7:00AM
Irving, TX – November 16, 2012 – Hostess Brands Inc. today announced that it is winding down operations and has filed a motion with the U.S. Bankruptcy Court seeking permission to close its business and sell its assets, including its iconic brands and facilities. Bakery operations have been suspended at all plants. Delivery of products will continue and Hostess Brands retail stores will remain open for several days in order to sell already-baked products.

The Board of Directors authorized the wind down of Hostess Brands to preserve and maximize the value of the estate after one of the Company’s largest unions, the Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers International Union (BCTGM), initiated a nationwide strike that crippled the Company’s ability to produce and deliver products at multiple facilities.

On Nov. 12, Hostess Brands permanently closed three plants as a result of the work stoppage. On Nov. 14, the Company announced it would be forced to liquidate if sufficient employees did not return to work to restore normal operations by 5 p.m., EST p.m., Nov. 15. The Company determined on the night of Nov. 15 that an insufficient number of employees had returned to work to enable the restoration of normal operations.

The BCTGM in September rejected a last, best and final offer from Hostess Brands designed to lower costs so that the Company could attract new financing and emerge from Chapter 11. Hostess Brands then received Court authority on Oct. 3 to unilaterally impose changes to the BCTGM’s collective bargaining agreements.

Hostess Brands is unprofitable under its current cost structure, much of which is determined by union wages and pension costs. The offer to the BCTGM included wage, benefit and work rule concessions but also gave Hostess Brands’ 12 unions a 25 percent ownership stake in the company, representation on its Board of Directors and $100 million in reorganized Hostess Brands’ debt.
“We deeply regret the necessity of today’s decision, but we do not have the financial resources to weather an extended nationwide strike,” said Gregory F. Rayburn, chief executive officer. “Hostess Brands will move promptly to lay off most of its 18,500-member workforce and focus on selling its assets to the highest bidders.”

In addition to dozens of baking and distribution facilities around the country, Hostess Brands will sell its popular brands, including Hostess®, Drakes® and Dolly Madison®, which make iconic cake products such as Twinkies®, CupCakes, Ding Dongs®, Ho Ho’s®, Sno Balls® and Donettes®. Bread brands to be sold include Wonder®, Nature’s Pride ®, Merita®, Home Pride®, Butternut®, and Beefsteak®, among others.

The wind down means the closure of 33 bakeries, 565 distribution centers, approximately 5,500 delivery routes and 570 bakery outlet stores throughout the United States.

The Company said its debtor-in-possession lenders have agreed to allow the Company to continue to have access to the $75 million financing facility put in place at the start of the bankruptcy cases to fund the sale and wind down process, subject to U.S. Bankruptcy Court approval.
The Company’s motion asks the Court for authority to continue to pay employees whose services are required during the wind-down period.

For employees whose jobs will be eliminated, additional information can be found at hostessbrands.info . The website also contains information for customers and vendors. Most employees who lose their jobs should be eligible for government-provided unemployment benefits.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Film Review: We Need to Talk About Kevin (8/10)

But they never did! I watched this Tilda Swinton and John C. Reilly film the other night, and I expected a deep drama, not a horror film. Tilda and John are a married couple who were free spirits and traveling the world and being all happy, until she became pregnant. She gave birth to a child who let her know immediately that it didn't like her. This manipulative little creature hated his mother and used his father to emotionally play games with his mother. The film goes back and forth in a pre- and post- 'tragic event', allowing us to see Tilda in her prime, as a conflicted mother who wanted to love her child, to being alone after her world changed.

What bugs me about this film is that if a child exhibited the severe indifference, psychotic, lying liar, bipolar craziness that this child Kevin did, a parent would seek out help from a number of doctors and psychiatrists until they found the answers as to why their child is the devil in disguise. You don't just stop at one lazy doctor who quickly looks over a 4 year old and declares him "perfectly normal", you go get second, third, or sixteen other opinions until someone confirms what you suspect. But no, in the pursuit of the happy life and having a luxurious rich life, and have another child, the mother and father dismisses the troubling signs of their son, brilliantly played by Ezra Miller. However, until he reaches the age of 15-16 and causes an accident with his little sister, that's when they start to wonder something ain't right... but it's sixteen years and two hundred disturbing incidences too damn late.
Tilda Swinton, Ezra Miller, and the two younger boys who played his character.
I felt so sorry for the character of the mother because she did try to love the child and bit her tongue many times because the father did not see the evil signs of Kevin. And that's only because Kevin played his father like a violin, played the perfect son, like a normal kid, but deep down inside, he hated him and only did it to emotionally abuse his mother.The lack of proper intervention from medical authorities make this story seem unreal because the mother KNEW something was messed up about Kevin, but did nothing concrete to deal with him. In the end, she wound up a victim in the worst imaginable way. 'We need to Talk about Kevin' is a film that I can only watch once... it's just too sad and terrible, and I hate the way the mother is treated by the community based on the actions of her evil son. Does that happen in real life, probably because when people loose someone they love, and the accused is in jail, the people act out against the next best person - the parents. But in this film, it seemed too extreme, and therefore, unrealistic.

Score: 8/10


Communication Activism Class Project

In about a week, I will post a link to a website I have designed for my Communication Activism course. I need to give a presentation on December 11th regarding my website and I would greatly appreciate your help in reviewing the site and responding to the blog postings. I will give a demonstration about what the blog is all about, and show the class and my professor the responses the website is receiving on the special topic about Food & Health Activism. To give you an idea about what Food Activists protest about, please visit this website to read about how last week in California, Proposition 37 was defeated. It's a case that is close to my heart as I have been aware of this issue for quite sometime. Anyone who is interested in knowing what they are eating and where it comes from and how it was grown or raised, would be interested in checking out my class project website... which will become a permanent project for me afterwards. Stay tuned, and thanks in advance!

Monday, November 12, 2012

The 007 Exhibit at TIFF Lightbox in Toronto

I received a nice email from my TIFF Toronto bestest friend Glenn this afternoon, right in the mist of pulling my hair out at work. He was just checking up on me and read my Skyfall review and stated that he saw it and loved it too. When I replied back, I told him how much I would just love to visit Toronto again to go to the TIFF Lightbox to check out the Bond exhibit there. Previews of the James Bond exhibit played just before every film I saw at TIFF in September, and in celebration of 007's 50th Birthday, I had hopes way back in my mind to see it, but I figured it would not be.

Thankfully, after Glenn mentioned how fabulous it was, on top of me still mesmerized from Friday night's screening of the film, I double checked with him to see if he's going to be in town the last weekend of December. Because my last class for this term is December 18th, I figured Dec 28-30 would be the best time to go to Toronto. And I did a quick search on the VIA rail website, and they had only a few supersaver seats remaining.  Glenn confirmed his availability that weekend to serve as host to me again, and I went ahead and booked the ticket to Toronto! We're also going to check out the X-men exhibit, and go to the Art Gallery of Ontario to see the Frieda Kahlo and Diego Rivera exhibits. What a fantastic posh weekend I will have in Toronto in six short weeks! I'm so lucky to have a cinephile and art lover friend in Toronto! This will be my first time in Toronto during the winter, I've only been there during spring/summer. The weather there is similar to where I am in Ann Arbor, so it'll be cold, but I'll be inside enjoying gorgeous art exhibits and eating great food with friends!

Source: TIFF Exhibits

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Film Review: James Bond 'Skyfall' (10/10) is Oscar Worthy!

Skyfall is the best James Bond film!
Only since Daniel Craig has been James Bond, I have gone to the theater to watch a theatrical run of a James Bond movie. Partially because the producers have used Craig to be a more rugged, pissed off, arrogant, smart, cynical, rough and tough, but a little sensitive, James Bond. I have seen Casino Royale, Quantam of Solace, and now Skyfall, all on the first day of release, and loved all of them. But by far, Skyfall stands out from the other two as a perfectly executed, action packed, well acted film, as if MI6 actually made the film themselves!

In Skyfall, we have James Bond suffer from an accident that leaves many to think he's dead. But of course he doesn't die, but he is wounded emotionally, mentally, and physically from all his years as a trusted and reliable Double-O. After a year, more or less, off the grind, and drinking himself into oblivion, he finds out that MI6 is under attack by a ruthless and determined terrorist who seems to know MI6 intimately. Bond re-inserts himself back into MI6 via M, coolly played by the wonderful Dame Judi Dench. We then start to see the undertones of the relationship between Bond and M. They both give off pretenses that they can just tolerate each other...but there is a love and respect, similar to a mother and son, since Bond was an orphan, and M never had children, they are a great match for a small dysfunctional family unit.
Javier Bardem as Silva should be nominated for an Oscar
However, the greatest thing about Skyfall is the villain, played by Oscar winner Javier Bardem. I'm afraid that Javier has now cemented himself into cinema history to always be associated in this role, as Silva, because of his sheer excellence. As an otherwise sexy and handsome dark Spaniard, Bardem looks almost like an Albino in Skyfall with his deliberately poorly done bleach blond hair and bleached eyebrows. Silva comes onto the scene in Skyfall in the middle of the film, and immediately tries to steal it. His mere introduction into a room where Bond is strapped to a chair, and as Silva exits an elevator and slowly walks towards Bond while talking about cannibal rats, was pure magnificence! A spellbinding moment that leads to a thoroughly entertaining homoerotic scene that brought out the giggles in the audience. It was a well done scene!
Mandatory Craig man-flesh scene in Skyfall
There was never a dull moment in Skyfall. It was completely action packed. And because M was the target of Silva, there was a tickle of curiosity as to why M was being harassed. As we come to learn, Silva was a Double-O once before, betrayed by M, for country and security, and he barely survived his torture... barely is the key word. And he wants to make her suffer like he did. In the ultimate gun fight that MI6 and M escape, the only way Bond can save M is to take her faraway to a safe place, and leave breadcrumbs as to where he and M can be found by Silva only. They put up a great fight at Skyfall, his ancestral residence in the highlands of Scotland... beautiful, but cold and desolate. How will they get out of this? Only one rat can survive.
Daniel Craig deserves an Oscar nomination!
This is the best James Bond film I have ever seen. Several great actors are guaranteed to show up in future Bond films like Ralph Fiennes, Naomi Harris, and Ben Whishaw as baby Q. There are laughs at the appropriate moments, and gasps at the right time, and sadness all around. As a Oscar freak, I highly expect Skyfall to be nominated for some editing, sound, cinematography awards, but most importantly, I think it's time for Daniel Craig to be nominated for Best Actor. Just fucking give him the nomination, I'm not saying he can win with the other Daniel (Day-Lewis) hamming it up for Lincoln, or Joaquin Phoenix for The Master, but Daniel Craig deserves this nomination because he's an outstanding actor and he has been working 30 years up to this point and has revitalized the James Bond franchise like no other Bond actor has done. And dare I say that Javier Bardem is nominated for Best Supporting Actor and actually wins his second Oscar for playing another crazy villain? He would deserve it too. As I publish this review, worldwide, after only 12 days, and one day of release here in the US, Skyfall is approaching the $500 million mark. This film could be the first Bond movie to break the $1 billion mark at the box office. I'm not kidding!

I have to see Skyfall again, and you should see it too! I don't toss out perfect 10 scores left and right, so when I score a film a 10, it was perfect in every way to me!

Score: 10/10

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Change? Nah, it's Still Politics!

Last night America re-elected Barack Obama, and I am not shocked. I had a gut feeling that it would go the other way, but I am not surprised that America decided to stay on the same path. What is that path? A little progress with big fuck ups, same old same old politics, and a severely polarized country that will take decades, if ever, to recover. As I have made very clear previously, I have never voted for a Republican for president, and I did not this time. And because I am very disappointed in the Democrats and I see them as the political game players and bastards that the Republicans have shown to be at times, I did not vote for the Democratic party. However, unlike most people, I did not chide those who opted to vote for Obama, nor did I attack those who supported Romney. The hateful tweets that I have read from people I follow on twitter in the past month, have been embarrassing to read, and it pretty much represents their true nature when they are scared or feel like bullying others. Maybe they are really mean spirited in nature... or, maybe just politics mindfuck them to the point of insanity, and once the election is over, they are decent again.

I guess what I want to reflect upon is just how sad this entire political drama has played out, and how the American populace, those who voted and strongly expressed their support and views, are simple sheep chess pieces in this game. When I stood in line to vote just 24-hours ago, I saw something that summed up the past four years, and foretold the next four years. I saw an older gentleman pass by me to get in line wearing his coat open, in 25 degree weather, to show off his t-shirt which had, 'Old White Guy Voting for Obama'. This race, the entire four years of Obama, and the election has been heavily focused on race, the color of one's skin. Who gives a flying fuck if you're white, brown, yellow, or purple... you just vote and support the person you believe in. But no, in the 2008 election and in this year's election, people have had to use race to justify their support for Obama, to prove they are not racist, and/or to attack others who don't support Obama. Never has this country experienced two elections like this. And as a black female, that greatly concerns me and it does not bode well for this country in the year 2012. It says a lot about our lack of maturity as a civilized nation, and a country that should have been more socially developed and prepared to embrace a female or person of any color as president, without having to resort to racial attacks and criticism.

America has spoke and they re-elected the current agenda for four more years. They want and expect change, but really, from the sidelines I'm standing along, I see the same shit, and it's too bad that the race card, out of pride our guilt, has made these past two elections so pathetic and polarizing. The only HOPE I have is that we can heal now... but I think it will take many, many years for us to move on from this divided point.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

James Bond's Skyfall is coming!

Opening this Friday, November 9th, is the newest James Bond movie featuring the BEST James Bond evah, Daniel Craig! Skyfall has opened in the UK and Europe last week, and so far, it has earned over 100 Million GBP/Euros. That's impressive! And this film can easily add another $200 million to that after it opens in the US. Here is the link to the main movie site for Skyfall, and below is the trailer for this fantastic film!

Are you going to see Skyfall? Is Daniel Craig your favorite James Bond?




Election Day 2012: Down to the Wire

When we go to bed Tuesday night, or wake up Wednesday morning, we will know the results of the US Presidential Election. Will Obama be re-elected, or will half of the American voters who bother to vote in this election will offer the next four years to Romney. This is a very tight race, an unusually tight race for a supposed President who is beloved and cherished by those who are blindly faithful to a party that has let many of us down. If President Obama is so damn good and so damn cool, why is someone like Detroit born Mitt Romney practically even with him, or just a few points behind him in some states, or ahead of the President in other states? As per the latest Poll from Fox News Detroit, Obama has 47% and Romney has 48%... in Michigan... a tried and true blue state! We do have a Republican Governor, and since he's been in office, we have been making a slow recovery. In my prediction, which is just the most base gut feeling, I think Romney will win in such a close race, we will see the re-counting craziness of the 2000 election between Al Gore and George W. Bush. And you know the outcome of that.

I'm still proudly going to vote for a third party ticket BECAUSE their issues are practically 100% in alignment with my thoughts and beliefs as to how a country should be managed. Will they win? No. But it is my hopes one day that a third party candidate can be a true 3rd Party alternative, instead of fodder for jokes and marginalizing those citizens who support third party candidates. How dare people say I am throwing away a vote for a Democrat! Well dammit, if the Democrats did their damn jobs, maybe I would go back to being one. But that ship has long passed and I don't know if there is a reason for me to be a Democrat... I quite like being something else, a Green Party supporter or a Libertarian. I have much more respect for these two parties that the stamp approved two party players who in this "Democratic" system, it appears that they are suggested as the only two. Well, screw that, I'm not falling for that, I do have a choice!

In one of the most ignorant and racist comments in this long election, I have read what Bill Maher has said about Romney supporters. He said, "If you're thinking about voting for Mitt Romney, I would like to make this one plea: black people know who you are and they will come after you".

He's a comedian, but I think he is using himself as being a comedian to express his true beliefs under the guise of a joke. It's disgusting that this race has become so black vs white, it's offensive! With supporters like this, I wonder how if President Obama does win, how will this country fair after his second term? Who ever wins Tuesday night, a lot of people are going to be upset, but I won't be one of them as I have emotionally signed off from US politics in 2008. I'm American and proud, and I want my country to be strong and overcome the trials that we are deeply in right now.  And in order to do that, we need change. For real.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Downton Abbey is like, Upper Class Crack

You know that I must have been very busy with class studies and work to not update in a week. Since the last post, it was a congratulations to the Detroit Tigers for sweeping the Yankees to go on to the World Series. And what a difference a friggin' week later makes. The Tigers were swept up themselves and tossed in a rubbish bin by the San Francisco Giants. Karma? No... the Giants were just a better team. Oh well...

School and work has me busy, and I spent all this weekend working on a paper for my Communications Activism class. I will turn the paper in on Tuesday, but I have already had to start working on the details for my class project. I'm  thinking about creating a website/blog for my project and I will have to give a demonstration of how it is suppose to work. I'm partnering up with a classmate that I worked on a big presentation project last term, we're a good team, and I'm hopeful she likes my idea.

So because I had a breakthrough in my studies this weekend, I treated myself to Season 2 of Downton Abbey, courtesy of Amazon.com Prime. Now, I only  just discovered amazon prime just two weeks ago. I read a review of a movie somewhere, and the person made reference to watching it streaming on amazon prime. If you have an amazon prime membership, you can stream select movies/TV shows and videos, for free! I was able to treat myself to Season 2 of Sherlock last week, and on Saturday and Sunday, I watched all 10 episodes of Season 2 of Downton Abbey. It's so exciting to be able to watch, uninterrupted, an entire season of a favorite TV show, and that's what I was able to do. I feel so 'caugh up'. Now if amazon prime has Dexter, First Blood and The Walking Dead, I will literally explode with complete glee, but I won't get my hopes up yet because again, amazon prime is for "select" shows.

Now that I have a year completed at grad school for my Communications Degree, I'm going to start looking for employment in this field. Ideally I want a full-time job, but I'll take a volunteer position or an unpaid internship to get my foot in the door. The economy is in really bad shape here in Michigan, but it's better here than in other places. So I hope I can find something.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Joaquin Phoenix

In lieu of today's earlier post below in which I mentioned going to see The Master again this weekend, I found a BRILLIANT interview article with Joaquin Phoenix from Interview Magazine. For many years now, I have greatly enjoyed Joaquin's work, especially in 'Walk the Line', and I have always found him to be incredibly sexy and intelligent. This new interview proves it. As the coming months will start focusing on the 2012-2013 Oscar season, I just love Joaquin's attitude about all the Oscar craziness, and what he truthfully refers to as "bullshit". The entire interview is incredibly enlightening and interesting, and I learned just how real and socially aware and conscious Phoenix is... my respect for him went up several more notches! Read the full interview here:

MITCHELL: So what are you going to do when they put you on the awards circuit for The Master?

PHOENIX: You're out of your mind, dude. You're out of touch with what has happened.

MITCHELL: I think we've established that you're the one who's out of his mind. [Phoenix laughs] You don't think that's going to happen?

PHOENIX: I'm just saying that I think it's bullshit. I think it's total, utter bullshit, and I don't want to be a part of it. I don't believe in it. It's a carrot, but it's the worst-tasting carrot I've ever tasted in my whole life. I don't want this carrot. It's totally subjective. Pitting people against each other . . . It's the stupidest thing in the whole world. It was one of the most uncomfortable periods of my life when Walk the Line was going through all the awards stuff and all that. I never want to have that experience again. I don't know how to explain it—and it's not like I'm in this place where I think I'm just above it—but I just don't ever want to get comfortable with that part of things.

If you haven't seen The Master yet, go check it out... and Joaquin better get ready for Oscar talk whether he likes it or not, he's great in this film.

Real October Madness!

As I have warned you previously, studies for class would leave me little time to update the blog, as this past week can attest. Since the last post, I was able to buy a Sony Blu-ray player along with the Prometheus DVD and The Avengers... but I haven't even been able to unpack the box, plug it in, and watch either DVD. That's just sad. I think I may be able to do it soon, but I have more readings to stay on top of as well as starting work on a journal article review. However, there are a few things I want to share with you.


Joaquin Phoenix in The Master @ State Theater
 This weekend, I very much look forward to seeing The Master again with my friend Laurie. Now I know I gave it a lukewarm review when I saw it at TIFF last month. But, I held out hope that upon a second viewing, I would embrace it's meant-to-be great potential. So it's going to play at the State theater starting Friday. I wanted to go that evening, but Laurie's going to a concert, and we wanted to go on Saturday, but there's that crazy rival home football game between Michigan and Michigan State. Joy! (Go Blue!) With a 3:30pm start time, you can't pay me to be anywhere near campus or downtown. However, just for shits and giggles, if Laurie did the driving, I'll go. Her son goes to Michigan State, so I think he'll be in town for the game. Otherwise, we'll just see it on Sunday, which may be better anyway because I'll get the bulk of my readings done tonight, Friday, and on Saturday. I'll post a re-review of The Master next week.

Although the 4th game between the Detroit Tigers and the New York Yankees was rained out at Comerica Park, it looks like the weather will be cleared tonight so that the Tigers can sweep this series and clinch the American League Championship title, and then go on to their 11th World Series. So if the Tigers win tonight, the Detroit area is going to be partying hard. If not... dammit, they'll go back to New York. But I think they'll do the right thing and seal this bad boy tonight. Good luck boys!

I'm Running Again!

I have a new health goal target, and that is to start running again so that I can compete in the Tortoise and Hare 5K race next spring. I ran the race back in 2005, and when I was much younger, I use to run all the time, all over the place. I was insane... I should have gone into track and running. Although I have a strong cardio regimen, and I do the Bikram yoga weekly, and I walk daily... there's nothing like getting in shape like running. So, I started that last night with a walk/run, and I wound up running for longer than I anticipated, which is very good, and gives me great hope that I can run a steady two miles within a month without stopping. My goal is to run 10 miles a week by running 2 miles over 5 days. I can do it,... but winter's coming and I'll need to find an inside track... I'm sure EMU has one. Anyway, the next thing I need to do is invest in proper running shoes. I have some New Balance, but, they are not the most ideal for my running practice, I need to go to a sports shop and drop some dough on good running shoes. Looks like I'll be taking advantage of the 10% off coupon for shoes at Tortoise and Hare.

To Be or Not Be for Continued "Change"?


We have just a couple more weeks before the Presidential Election and I'm still firmly in the corner of 'I don't like either candidate'. What I find so distressing is that in my country, if you are indifferent to President Obama, you are hated, mocked, not considered human, a fool, a conservative (the nerve), or a racist (how fucking dare you!). And if you aren't voting for Romney, you want government to run your life, get free handouts, support Obamacare, and don't want to see the economy or unemployment stats improve. In this election, what has turned me off the most is to see how mean and irrational many democrats have become. I used to be a Democrat, but I'm a Green Party supporter now and have been since 2000, but my roots are with the Democratic Party. But I don't identify with them anymore, they have let me down... they are no different, in many ways, than the Republicans. Now more than ever, we need a strong third party... people like me, disenfranchised, and disillusioned with the primary two political parties, NEED another party to vote for that has a real chance of winning. But until people who ID themselves as either Democrat or Republican stop hating and blaming each other for the country's woes, and vote for a different party that represents true change, we ain't gonna change, there's no hope, it's going to be the same old same old regardless if you like elephants or donkeys! And you know I'm writing the truth! I'm not voting for either Obama or Romney, and I feel good about that. But, I have to continue to deal with insane tweets from people I follow who slam Romney for his ideologies, while turning a blind eye to some shady shit Obama's administration has done, and failed not to do. Can our country handle four more years of the same, or is it ready for four new uncertain years of something "different"? It's sad and it's disgusting seeing the heighten hate between the two parties and their supporters, but, it's only a few more weeks. :/