Published November 4th, 2020 by

War movies aren’t really my cup of tea. I guess I’m way too squeamish when it comes to witnessing the horrors of war. After watching a war movie I get overwhelmed by disbelief about how people could do such things to each other over someone else’s ideals and ambitions. I don’t know, call me a hippie, if you will, but that’s just my state of mind.

Though, a few weeks ago a friend made me watch Black Hawk Down and after finishing it, she seemed rather unaffected by the whole ordeal, while I was in tears. When I asked her how she can be so unstirred, she just said that it can’t be real and that Hollywood tends to over-dramatize such movies, even if they’re based on true stories. So, I couldn’t just take her word for it after being so distressed and scoured the internet for information on the movie’s accuracy.

What I found out is that there are plenty of movies out there that get really close to how things actually happen in a state of war. Everything from the dynamic between soldiers to actual historical facts. In a really weird, masochistic turn of events, I ended up watching most of them and decided to share some here, so all of you war movie buffs can judge me about how mainstream my taste is.

Saving Private Ryan is an acclaimed classic when it comes to war movies, and my humble self can see why. What I saw in it was a heart-wrenching tale of camaraderie and dedication, but it also qualified as one of the more realistic war movies out there. Especially the Normandy landings.

Packed with visceral, intense action was The Hurt Locker. This movie’s honest depiction of the post-war problems, such as PTSD, that soldiers deal with is what really resonated with me, and pundits seemed to validate their accuracy.

Apocalypse Now. Ugh. I haven’t yet found a movie with a more fitting title. The absolutely grueling tribulation that this movie presented left me yearning for a shower. Though, I don’t need much of a reason to hop in the shower as often as I can since we installed that tankless water heater, a commodity they surely didn’t have back then in Vietnam.

So there you have it, those are my top three realistic war movies from the perspective of a person who usually doesn’t like them.

Published July 26th, 2017 by

I hate servicing my car, but it has to be done, and all too often. I know I will sit for hours staring at a TV, that is, if I am lucky. Most of the time there isn’t one at all. I then load up my backpack with what I will need for the next three hours including a bottle of water, snacks, and my trusty tablet. My cell phone won’t be far from my side of course. I have a few backpacks at the bottom of my closet from years gone by and just grab the first one I see. It is pretty grubby and well worn. Who cares if it looks good! I am not trying to impress anyone at college. Most students do. They have to wear the right clothes and shoes, and tote the appropriate, popular book bag. I am just on my own today with no one in sight. I can do what I want. So many college kids are copycats or sheep who follow the crowd. I like to think for myself.

As I sit idly in an uncomfortable chair at the service station, I am listening to some of my favorite music. That is the best way to pass the time. I get bored after a while. My mind starts to wander and I doze. Suddenly, I am dreaming that people are making fun of my backpack. I am not holding the “right brand.” The popular girls laugh and giggle at my primitive, unwieldy bag. A simple canvas bag attached to some flimsy leather shoulder straps was enough years ago. Today’s world demands more style, and expense, even if you are just carrying books and a laptop. The modern college student must have optimal organization, portability, and eye-catching appeal. Backpacks brand you as a certain kind of person who cares about your image, so you really should take the time to review sites such as https://www.mybackpackchoice.com before you buy. Those ubiquitous, annoying popular girls have Swissgear school bags that are highly-organized and well-constructed. The logo shouts out to the world that the owner of the bag is cool. And who doesn’t want to be remembered by this designation?

These girls show off the ideal laptop sleeve designed to perfectly house the average device. A tablet slips in right next to it in its own space. There is a breathable mesh back panel for looks, plus loads of assorted pockets for pens, keys, ID cards, and a mobile phone. Luxury comes in the form of quality fabric that will last for years. The bag cannot be pristine for too long. It has to age after freshman year. It must be ergonomically contoured of course. No wonder the girls made fun of my simple sack. The new look sits comfortably off the upper arm, with straps neatly adjacent to the shoulder. These study buddies make the girls look carefree and happy. A really special student has more than one.

I am going to stick with old reliable. It has a lot of life left in it.

Published August 20th, 2016 by

Our local second-run movie theater hosts outdoor movie nights in the summer. The tickets are super cheap because they don’t show any new releases but the films are always on the decent side. They project the movies on the side of the building and people bring lawn chairs or blankets to sit on. There is usually a theme to each night they do it, and they have little mini-marathons. It can be almost anything: sometimes it is family friendly, other times they do black and white classics, and every once in a while they have a great romantic date-night set. My friends and I caught on to this low budget summer entertainment source last year. We went twice last summer, once for John Hughes night and the other was a Twilight marathon. We had a good time at both and are definitely looking forward to attending some more this summer.

This past Friday was the summer movie kickoff. They were running a cheesy horror movie marathon. This was definitely one we didn’t want to miss out on. I can’t pass up a chance to watch Sharknado or one of the Final Destination flicks on a big screen with all my friends. Those movies are just plain old fun, regardless of what the critics think of them. I grabbed the old beach blanket I use for picnics so we had somewhere to sit. My friends and I all pooled our snack resources together so we had some treats to help us hang in for the long haul. It was surprisingly crowded when we got there but we were able to squeeze ourselves in somewhere with a pretty decent view of the screen.

The first movie was Sharknado, which was awesomely bad. I love the bit at the end with the chainsaw—I won’t say any more in case you’ve never seen it and want to. You really should, it is a perfect summer horror film if you want some laughs. It started to get a little chilly when it ended, and I was debating kicking everyone off my blanket so I could wrap myself up in it. But then the event organizers wheeled out a couple of space heaters—they said Delonghi on the side—that significantly warmed up anybody lucky enough to sit near them. I know this because we were one of the lucky ones. It made sitting through the second movie, Final Destination 3, much cozier. I know that sounds funny considering it is one of those movies where you can walk away thinking that every single character dies, but that heater was like a little sun right next to us. It wasn’t so bright that we had trouble seeing the screen, either. The last movie was an old school film, Evil Dead, but by that time, we’d had our fill and decided to leave.

I hear they are considering a Hunger Games marathon later this summer. I really hope so, that would be awesome!

Published June 17th, 2016 by

It is still winter in some parts of the world and the heat is being turned on most of the time. I hope not for long, however, as it sure dries out my skin. I hate that taut feeling, not to mention the peeling and scaling. What to do? I have the answer. Get a handy dandy humidifier and the problem is solved. It doesn’t cost that much relative to the big benefits you will receive from having one in operation in your home. There are multiple choices online and many specials on offer. It only takes a few minutes to find what you need.

If you are like me and won’t wait even a second to return your skin condition to a normal state, you will follow suit and make a timely purchase. There are loads of different sizes and models, with varying prices to fit every budget. You can start looking at a one or two-gallon table top appliance useful for an average to small size room up to 300 square feet. I personally like an ultrasonic device as the technology provides a quiet experience when in use. I want it to be able to run on one tank for more than 24 hours. It goes without saying that it has to be safe and also offer a warranty. For some, appearance is important.

At the other end of the size scale is a whole house unit that comes with a six-gallon water capacity. It will do the job for a house up to 3,000 square feet. I prefer one with digital controls and display. I hear that opting for a 3-speed motor is ideal as well as an adjustable humidistat and auto shutoff. A bonus is to have water and filter replacement indicators, castors for easy mobility, and a convenient top pour-in door.

The possibilities are endless and this just indicates the range out there depending upon your individual needs. Most people are happy to have a mid-size humidifier in the bedroom to help prevent dryness of the skin that develops overnight when the heat is often left on. This assumes you are away at work or doing errands during the day. If not, you can add a unit to your home office. Any damage done during the rest of the time when you are out and about can easily be reversed. I highly recommend a humidifier as there is no downside to it.

Dry skin will no longer be a chronic complaint if you keep your humidifier in peak operating condition. They must be cleaned an attended to now and then, but it is well worth the effort. Dry skin ages the face, causes itching and irritation, and just looks bad overall. There is a remedy for everyone, so no excuses are in order. If you are on the road, the small table top model can be stowed in a case or backpack to use in a hotel or guest room as needed. You will come to depend on the humidifier to save your skin long term.

Published April 17th, 2016 by

There is a lot of lingo used on TV shows, especially cop crime drama. You learn a lot if you are a regular. I suppose most of them are based more or less on reality while they amp up characterization and the story development. Everything I know about guns and ammunition (ammo) comes from these shows. Certain weapons such as pistols are commonplace unless sniper action is required. Not much attention is paid to the holsters, which are generally of the iwb kind, but why not imagine what types each character would be sporting.

Iwb refers to inside waist band as opposed to the smaller holsters worn around the ankle or placed in the pocket, for example. In terms of lingo, cww refers to concealed weapon and owb to outside waist band. Each holster is unique so let’s apply it to imaginary TV lawmen. If you were on a show, what would you choose?

Cops no doubt, imaginary or not, have experimented with different holster models. Chic police have hip holsters, paddle holsters, fanny pack holsters, and the like. It depends on the particular handgun and where you want it placed: visible or not. Guns by Smith & Wesson, Glock, or Kimber will have their own requirements. If an iwb or owb is selected, the wearer will want a good, study gun belt to help hold the weight of the firearm and maintain it close to the body.

Let’s take a closer look. At random, I am surveying the Bianchi® Model 100T Tuckable Professional™. This baby lets a neatnik cop tuck in his or her shirt while carrying a handgun by using a patented C-clip design. This serves to envelop the belt while at the same time minimizing the space covered. Lower visibility results. The gun gets better concealment while the wearer stays neat and tidy.

Moving on, we find the Model 3S Pistol Pocket Inside Waistband Holster with an open muzzle design. It rides the inside of the waist for ideal concealment. Leather loving police like the handcrafted premium grade full grain cowhide, and who wouldn’t? There is a sturdy thumb snap closure on the belt, securing it to the waist. The belt look can be rotated to five locations so you have variety in the way you carry the gun. If a cop wants customization, this is a good choice. Plus, the reinforced tops allows for stay-open holstering.

You can opt for more or less adjustability or swivel, different fabrication materials, quick release, a thumb break design, cross draw positioning, and more. If you want compact concealment, why not opt for the Model 5379 GLS belt slide holster. It has a unique retention device such that the middle finger releases the gun. With a proper shooting grip, this finger will be sitting directly on the GLS lever. During the draw of the weapon, it is depressed. You get a smooth and straight-up draw. This all comes from a low profile, compact, and very utilitarian design. Re-holstering is a breeze.

Published March 24th, 2016 by

Hey everyone! Watch any good TV lately? I know I have! It got me to wondering: I am a fan of a few shows, and a big fan of a couple of shows. I am sure that you are, too. There are those shows that you just get completely addicted to; if you start watching it late, you have to binge the whole series up to that point. You never miss an episode, and if someone starts talking about the newest one without you having seen it, you’ve been known to run away with your fingers in your ears…ok maybe that last one is just me. But you know what I mean. Then there are superfans. You know them: they read the fan fiction, they interact with the cast on social media, they either run wiki pages or know people who do, they know where the chat rooms are and organize clever petitions to the network if their show is on the bubble… I definitely might be a fan like this of one or two shows.

And then…there are the rabid superfans. I’m not talking about the trolls who go online to blast people with differing opinions or the ones who just like to stir up trouble at conventions and the like. I am talking about the cosplay people, the ones who get plastic surgery to look more like their favorite character, and who buy up every piece of memorabilia no matter how trivial or expensive it is. One thing that I found out recently is there are people out there who will even transform their cars into something more like…Dean Winchester’s Impala, Herbie the beetle, the Mystery Mobile, or even the General Lee from the Dukes of Hazzard.

But how do people actually GET their cars to look like that? I mean, some shows are cartoons, so the cars aren’t real! Obviously you have to start with the same make and model (like the Impala or the General Lee) or a similar body type for cars that don’t actually exist. Then there are modifications that need to be made, because let’s face it, you can’t just buy a batmobile. So once you have the basic shape of the car down, the next thing you need is the right paint job, including any decorations that need to be made. I actually saw someone who owned a version of the Mach 5 once, and I asked the guy (because you know it was a guy, and you know he was dressed just like Speed Racer) who owned it how he got it to look so close to the original. He told me that it involved a lot of airbrushing. I had no idea what he was talking about, because the only thing I’ve ever known airbrushing to be is that thing people complain that they do to models on the covers of magazines. I think he thought I was really dumb, but very patiently explained that he had the best spray gun, and it allows him to convert paint into a mist that he can coat the car with. He was able to do the iconic red circle and number 5 design with the paint gun.

I am curious now–what about you? Where do you stand? Is that too far to go? Or, if money and time were no object, would you trade in whatever you’re driving to get an Audi with a custom paint job like in the Iron Man movies? Or a Batmobile? Or something else? Personally, I feel like I am one really good show away from being one of these people. But the show would have to be REALLY good. Or the car would have to be cheap to replicate…

Published September 7th, 2015 by

Privileged is one of those rare shows that really seems to capture the Gen Y experience. Some people look at this show and they just think that isn’t going to be another show about the kindhearted teacher broadening the horizons of the spoiled and ignorant privileged girls. That’s really only one layer of the show, and it is important to put it into the right historical context.

A lot of older critics are going to miss that context, especially because they dismiss a lot of Gen Y problems in general. The idea that all of us just suddenly decided to be lazier than the previous generation somehow seems more believable to them than the idea that the economy isn’t working out in our favor. That’s partly what this show is about, which is what makes it feel so real.

The protagonist Megan Smith did everything right. She went to a great school because she worked hard in school to begin with, and like all Gen Y people, she was told that that would be enough. Naturally, it didn’t work out, because she graduated and entered one of the worst job markets that the country had ever seen. Instead, she ended up as a live-in tutor to a couple of girls who will never have to worry about the state of the economy, because they’re already set for life. This dynamic alone is more than enough drama for a television series, and Privileged manages to get a lot out of it.

The again, the series also manages to make an interesting statement about the fact that the people who rub shoulders with the rich and powerful almost feel like members of the class themselves in some ways, because they get to enjoy some of what the rich and powerful have. Even if they only see you as the help, they’re still going to see you, which is more than what a lot of people can say. It makes for another interesting dynamic.

This show sadly only lasted for one season. However, at least it’s an easy series to get into as a result. People aren’t going to have to slog through several seasons in order to get to the good part. They’ll have reached the good part already.

Published August 7th, 2015 by

I like angst-ridden television as well as the next person, but sometimes it’s nice to kick back and just enjoy something that’s light hearted and fun. This show is definitely light hearted and fun, which makes it a breath of fresh air if you’re someone like me and you usually can’t get into comedies. A lot of comedies just aren’t that funny to me, especially because a lot of them tend to revolve around situations that I just find really hard to relate to, like domestic family life. I really can’t watch family sitcoms for that reason.

This show is different. I’d much rather see comedies that are actually focused on characters and their work. Much as the title suggests, this show definitely fits the bill. The four-guy ensemble is affable enough, and most viewers will probably manage to find someone to relate to in one way or another. I do wish there were more women on the show, but at least some of the male characters were accessible enough.

The Golden Age of Television is great and all, but not every single show has to be Breaking Bad or Game of Thrones. I love those shows, but sometimes, it’s nice to alternate between those and something that feels like a throwback to the golden age of work comedies. I don’t think there is an official Golden Age of Work Comedies, but I’m going to say that the 1990s qualifies. This is a fun show to get into when you’re transitioning from one dramatic Golden Age show to the next, and you want some fun and nonthreatening filler in between.

Published July 22nd, 2015 by

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What is it about Michael Cassidy? He really seems to have a knack for creating characters that I like and for staring in the kinds of shows that become my favorites. On that basis alone he was probably going to become my favorite actor. Even if he wasn’t immensely talented and amazingly good-looking, I would probably love Michael Cassidy just because I would have so many positive associations whenever I saw him act in anything. Of course, he’s part of what made all of those shows so great in the first place, so this might be a chicken or the egg problem for me. It’s definitely the right sort of problem to have.

The O.C. was more or less Michael Cassidy’s breakout role, and I loved him in that. His character, Zach Stevens, really could have been nothing but a forgettable recurring character. Instead, Michael Cassidy managed to make him one of the best parts of the entire series. A lot of Smallville fans will probably remember Michael Cassidy from his role as Grant Gabriel, which was another memorable performance of his. Of course, it was only three years after his time on the O.C. that he managed to star in another one of my all-time favorite series: Privileged.

Obviously, Michael Cassidy’s looks are going to be a factor that I consider. However, one of the things that I like about his look is that he manages to straddle the line between a guy who looks like a normal every-man and a guy who’s exceptionally attractive. You’ll find pictures where he can really pass for either, and that just isn’t the case with a lot of other actors, especially these days. It feels like all actors are starting to look the same nowadays, as if they’re only casting people who fit into a very narrow template. That really isn’t the case for Michael Cassidy, who is very good-looking, but still manages to stand out from a pack of actors that have an extremely polished look that is utterly devoid of character. His is a face that you’re still going to remember, and I can’t say that about a lot of other actors.

A lot of casting directors still forget about the importance of charisma when it comes to their actors. An actor can be the hottest guy in the world, and if he has no charisma, he’s still going to practically be invisible to us within a few episodes of a show. This is even more important in television than it is in movies, since we have to spend so much more time getting to know a character in the setting of television. We can accept an action hero in a two-hour movie that’s kind of boring. Television is more about the characters, since we spend so much time with them, and a charismatic actor is a must. Michael Cassidy definitely manages to ooze charisma every single time that he’s onscreen, and he uses his down-to-earth good looks to his advantage all the while. I think he’s a terribly underrated actor, and he deserves to be as much of a household name as a lot of the other actors that are working today.

Published July 15th, 2015 by

A lot of people are going to dismiss the O.C as being just another soap opera that’s aimed at a teenage audience and has a lot of teen drama. That’s what they said when the show was still on, and now it’s already transitioning into being something of an older television program. It’s hard to believe that it started more than ten years ago already. The 2000s don’t feel like a historical period yet, but they will soon enough. I think the 1990s started to feel like a historical period a few years ago, and the 2000s aren’t too far behind.

A lot of people who are into 1990s shows are already defending all of the 1990s hairstyles and music styles that have already become dated. 1990s soap operas have to suffer with the stigma of being called soap operas, in addition to the stigma of being called dated. The O.C. is eventually going to suffer from that stigma as well. The 2000s technology already dates the show to a large extent. No one is talking about social media or advanced smartphones. George W. Bush is still president. I never watched the O.C. for the fashion or for the show’s general awareness of pop culture, though, so none of these inevitable changes are actually going to bother me at all.

A lot of the pop culture references throughout different episodes are actually a lot of fun, as long as you don’t care that they genuinely are somewhat dated these days. It’s actually fun looking back and remembering that a lot of the stuff that they’re referencing used to be completely recent, such as the Tobey Maguire Spider-Man movies. Personally, I always thought those were the best ones. Who would have thought that they would get remade only a few years later, instantly making the other set of Spider-Man movies seem artificially older? One way or another, the pop culture references don’t happen so often that they become terribly annoying if you’re just not the sort of person who’s really into that kind of humor or setup. The O.C. is a show that’s genuinely about the characters.

With shows like the O.C., the plots aren’t really what’s important. The plots are largely going to focus on the kinds of dilemmas that all adolescents experience. If they didn’t focus on those dilemmas, it wouldn’t even feel like a real show about adolescents in the first place, which is why it is important that it manages to strike all of these notes. Watching the O.C. is about building up an emotional connection to the characters and exploring all of the ways in which these unique people change over the course of the television series.

The protagonist Ryan is a teen that’s been getting into trouble, and a sympathetic and wealthy public defender more or less takes him under his wing. Ryan gets affection that he never really had before in his life with his impoverished and abusive family, and he also gets to be introduced to the sort of lifestyle that a lot of people in his position would never see. The series makes an interesting comment on class issues as a result, showing that the nice people of Orange Country truly have the privilege of being that way, and it isn’t a simple matter of personal inclinations.

Naturally, this also means that the audience gets to experience O.C. life right alongside Ryan, which is satisfying. The people of Orange County have the sort of wealth and privilege that not a lot of us will ever have, and experiencing it vicariously is really something. We get to watch Ryan grow and change after being affected by this world, which certainly isn’t perfect, despite its tremendous privilege. These are people who have fewer concerns than other people, and they can spend more time fixating on their romantic dramas and other personal concerns. As a result, these sorts of concerns will become inflated, exactly the way they are during adolescence in general. The show creates an interesting dramatization of the adolescent experience as a result.

 

Published July 15th, 2015 by

Hi, Danni here. I am blogging today, spewing forth actually, about a subject not so dear to my heart: housecleaning. Why you ask? Because today is, in fact, the day designated for such tasks. Would Michael Cassidy have such a day? No, emphatically no. He would have someone to do it for him. Do I have that someone? No, emphatically no.

I have a handy dandy vacuum cleaner, small and portable, just my size that I bought after reading some reviews and getting a recommendation from this site. I know how to operate it. But now it sits idly by, quiet as a mouse. I could say that neighbors complain about the noise it makes, but I won’t. That would be a lie. Truth be told, it is shiny new and practically unused. I could sell it on eBay at a pretty good price.

I just don’t have the mental or physical strength at the moment to tackle household cleaning. I have other things on my mind, better things, deeper things, worthwhile things. I suppose I will eventually succumb and turn the darn thing on, but not today.

Who made up the rule that you have to vacuum and clean once a week. How about once a month? I like that schedule. Imagine having the money to hire a regular maid. Imagine being rich. I can. I like the idea of delegating work to someone else so I can go fancy free about my business. When I’m rich, I can indulge my every need, especially those tedious tasks I do not like!

When I’m rich… I will buy the best groceries. I will feed expensive food to my cat. I will get a TV for every room in the house. When I’m rich, I will do what I want when I want, no schedule for me. When I’m rich I will travel afar, exploring the small corners of the world I have so far failed to see. When I’m rich I will have many friends and treat them to dinner and clubs.

When I am rich, life will know no bounds. I will be on top of the world, never at the bottom (with my vacuum cleaner because it’s where it belongs). I will be elated all the time, happy as a clam, worry free. When I am rich I will be well dressed in the latest styles with shoes royalty would covet. When I am rich, I will speak my mind, engage others, converse in depth, and wing it if need be.

When I am rich I will continue to daydream and make time pass in a second. I will encounter new people, go to new places, and experience new things. When I am rich I will be happy and content with no chores hanging over my head at any time. I will live in a dust-free realm as clean as can be with everything tidy and in its place. When I am rich, I will be myself as I was truly meant to be.

Published July 7th, 2015 by

I remember when making fun of Ben Affleck was just something that you did with all of your fellow film fans. We all talked about how he was that blandly hot actor with zero charisma who they cast in action movies and really bad comedies for reasons that none of us could understand. Who would have thought that less than ten years after Gigli, one of the worst movies ever made, Ben Affleck would star and direct a movie like this? That story alone feels like something that you would find in a movie script that was all about the unlikely twists and turns that life could take sometimes.

Argo is a really tense and taut film that’s about a serious historical situation, but it approaches the situation from a wonderfully unique angle. It’s about the Iran hostage crisis and the rescue mission to save the six detained Americans, which automatically means that it’s going to be a movie that has a lot of suspense and that really keeps you on your toes. I was at the edge of my seat in the theater the entire time, and Affleck did a great job with keeping the script wonderfully tight. He also did a great job with the acting part, which really makes me wonder what happened over the course of the last ten years.

I don’t know if he just suddenly went back to school in order to improve his acting talents or whether they were always there, lurking under the surface and waiting for the right movie. One way or another, they’re on full display here, and Affleck really demonstrates that he’s more than a pretty face. Of course, given how great his direction is here, we would have known that one way or another.

I love movies that are at least partly about movies themselves, and this one fits the bill. It explores the ways in which people can get past other people’s defenses by saying that they need to do certain things in order to film something or write something. I always love it in books when someone asks something suspicious of someone else and they then cover themselves by saying that it’s for a book. Argo presents this idea in a way that is much more subtle than that, but it is still interesting to watch for that reason. Producers really do have privileges that the rest of us don’t have, and pretending to be a producer works really well when it comes to choosing the right disguise.

The film’s setup is brilliant, and it builds up to a climax that packs so much emotional punch that I was thinking about it for days afterwards. I really recommend this film to everyone. It truly earned every single award and every single award nomination that it got, and that’s including the three Academy Awards. I honestly don’t usually say that, because I tend to disagree with the selections that the Academy Awards judges tend to make. For instance, I hate the film American Beauty, and I think plenty of other 1999 films deserved it way more. I would have chosen the Sixth Sense personally, although Being John Malkovich would have satisfied me, too. So I fully acknowledge that the Academy just doesn’t always know what it is talking about when it comes to movies. However, in this case, they were completely spot-on with regards to their selection. Argo is a movie that I suspect will only get better with age, and it’s already aged three years. I highly recommend it.