Sorry for the length, but I didn't have time to write a short blog.

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

The Wolverine - Hey It's a Comic Book Movie

Recently, there seems to be a continuous attack on the big budget movies, especially in light of the number of failures this summer.  I know these movies are not among the great films.  I know that they are not going to affect the industry except in a bad way if they continue to fail at the box office.  I also know they are exactly what have been done for years in the movie theaters since the rise of Jaws.  The blockbuster movie is a summer staple.  Sorry George Lucas and Stephen Spielberg, I just don't see your prediction of hundred dollar movies that run in the same movie house for months coming to pass.  The market is not just the US.  The fastest growing market for our big summer movies is China.  So that all said, I love block busters.  Are some stinkers? Yes.  Are some pure fun? Yes.  Are they glossy and glitzy and over-the-top? Well, duh.

I went to The Wolverine.  It was nothing new.  It was nothing unexpected.  It was, in fact, exactly as expected.  I liked it.  Hugh Jackman, once again dons his adamantium claws and takes the show on the road. Wolverine is still the same angst ridden and oldest of the mutants.  He is a cross-over character that is in X-Men, The Avenger, Origins, Spiderman, and any number of Marvel's comic book releases.  Wolverine is who he is and so is the movie.  It is both back story for the character, a better storyline than the first Wolverine X-Men movie, and also a set up for the next X-Men movie, Days of Future Past.

Logan, tormented by his killing of Jean Grey in the worst of the original three X-Men films,  is found by Yukio, a mutant who can forsee death.  Yukio's job is to bring the Wolverine to Japan to say goodbye to a Japanese soldier, Yashida,  whose life he saved in  World War II.  It seems that someone was actually able to capture Wolverine and built a prison camp near either Hiroshima or Nagasaki.  What is more they can apparently wait out the radioactive poisoning by hiding in a hole. I know. I know.  It doesn't make sense to me either, but I remind you of the title of this review.

In Japan, Logan must return to his hero character and protect Yashida's granddaughter, Mariko from the Yakuza, her father, the black ninjas, and a mutant called the Viper, all while dealing with his guilt over Jean's death, falling in love with Mariko, and dealing with his immortality and the aftermath of watching those you love die.  He has become a ronin...a samurai warrior with no master.   He is a warrior that desires a warrior's death, but it cannot come.  Deep, huh?

It is a comic book movie.  It is exactly what you expect.  It is what it needs to be.  It is fun, and it is action filled.  The hero is classic and filled with understandable anguish over the acts he has committed. It is over the top and has a predictable storyline.  The bad guys are obvious and the ending battle is predictable.  There is also one piece of film history homage paid to Akira Kurosawa's Throne of Blood (a Japanese version of Macbeth).  At least I think it was.  I will show you the pic from Throne of Blood and you can make your own judgment when you see The Wolverine.  And yes, Jackman really is the buff.

You will most likely enjoy the movie.  I didk  It is all I expected. Save your money on the 3D, by the way.  I will buy the DVD

Friday, July 26, 2013

Taking the Joy out of Collecting

Remember when a collectibles price was caused by the people who bought them and not the people who made them? I am not saying that all companies do this. They don't.  Hallmark for example still sells their collectible ornaments for a basic price of usually fifteen to thirty-five dollars. Even the incredibly difficult limited editions stay in this price range although they are still priced higher than the original counterpart. There is, however, an entire group of manufacturers  who produce collectibles that will likely never grow much in value because they are already priced at collector prices.

I am a collector. I collect genre specific items.  I collect Star Trek.  I also have a Lord of the Rings collection but I am preparing to sell that off. (Before any of my students who gave me LOTR gifts ask, no I am not selling those off.  They are a prize beyond price.) There was a glut of Star Trek items, just as there is a glut of everything from Star Wars to My Little Pony.  Anything that anyone might buy and collect is produced.  The trick is finding the right item.  There is a risk that when you buy an item its value might go down.  In fact that happens more often.  Like most items, you have to sit on the items sometimes if you want to see the value go up and sometimes you have to strike while the item is hot before it becomes less valuable.

There are really two types of collectors.  There are those who buy collectibles with the aim of selling them off and making money from them.  Then there are those that buy them, catalog them, look at them, display them - in short enjoy them.  For these it is the quest of that one missing item, finding it well below market price and bringing it home.  I am one of these collectors. So it seems to me that when a collectible is produced at an already collectible price or is made so rare it is nigh on impossible for the small collector to obtain, it cheapens the art and joy of collecting.

And this brings me to overpriced manufactured collectibles.  A collectible needs to grow in value for both buyer and its actual cost.  That said, some collectibles are never going to increase in value from the monetary end. There are too many of them, they just don't become popular, or they were overpriced to begin with.  Take for example the collector's edition lightsaber.  Depending on style and color, this little item runs from $120 to $249 brand new.  This will likely never gain in monetary value.  They are already overpriced.   While it may be really cool for the one who collects purely for the joy, for the one who thinks of it as an investment it is of no value.  The problem is that its already collectible price also puts it out range of the collector who does it because he loves it.

Another example is the Comic Con Diamond Select Exclusive Cloaked Bird of Prey.  It was pressing my ability to buy it at $60.  It was overpriced to begin with but because it is a rare collectible it will go up on the market.  It has in fact already done so.  Currently on Ebay, the toy is now going, just a few days after they were sold, for $110 to $200.  It is officially out of range for me.  There are collectibles that are out of my range, but that was because of market.  The problem isn't that.  The problem is the collectibles already priced at a collectible market price.  I suppose as long as there is someone who will pay these prices, it will the meantime, I must wait for someone to sell the Hallmark Gold Uniform Uhura ornament or the Tri Fold Borg for a price well below its market because the owner has no idea what they have.  I am again on the quest.  This one could last years...

Thursday, July 25, 2013

George Alexander Louis...much ado

I cannot tell you how much I don't care about the royal baby.  First: I am not British.  Second: I am not from Britain. Third: The British Royalty are very wealthy figureheads. Their every whim is met, and every need is given to them.  They have no power. Zero Power. Nada. Nothing. Zip. They haven't had power for years and yet England, and apparently Americans or at least American TV seems to think they do.  They cling to every tawdry affair a royal has.  They report their college-like hijinks in Vegas.  Lord knows, no one else has ever done something stupid in Vegas.  They report how awful it is when the Royal Princess is caught sunbathing topless in plain view of the paparazzi. And the Royals are surprised and appalled.  And the regular press who run the pictures and paid for them is also surprised and appalled.  Honestly, how stupid are these people.

Royals live very public lives.  They are constantly followed, and when the baby is born, they ask for the young couple to have their privacy respected.  This of course after a pompous method of announcement by sending the information to an encased bulletin board on an easel. easel.

I haven't cared about the Royals and their doings since pretty much ever.  I was not surprised by all of Charles and Diana's problems,and I didn't care.  I was saddened at her death, but I didn't go into mourning. Afterall, they are not my Royals.  I seem to recall that there was this thing called the War of Independence that made it so.  Yes, the historical Royals are fascinating history but then again, Henry VIII had power.  Elizabeth I had power.  Even that thing about the King's Speech was pretty interesting.

Okay there are two interesting things about this.  With four generations of "the next to sit the throne," we could be looking at about 150 years of English monarchs, and for the first time in my life I find myself agreeing with Rush Limbaugh about the over-coverage of this event.  I know, right?  That said, it is just another baby to a spoiled pampered group of wealthy do nothings who are no longer world leaders but ambassador figureheads.  I would much rather see reporting on important things like the pirate who plunders Walgreens than what George Alexander Louis' first word or gurgle is.  Congrats Royals, you have an heir. Whoop. Whoop. Yawn.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

I'm not famous...give me money

This is a sequel to a blog I did a while back about paying celebrities for their autographs.  It is really something that I didn't quite expect. Other than authors and comic book writers as San Diego Comic Con there were a boat load of stars.  All of them demanding their $40 from the fans who made them famous.  I was even stopped at on booth by a guy who announced that Sean Astin was signing and no tickets and no lines.  He did require $40 for the signature.  I looked him square in the eye and said, "I made him famous, and I am not paying for the privilege of the autograph," and walked away.  The guy was taken aback but
oddly nodded yes as I stated this.  There was one table which touted Michael Dorn, Marina Sirtis, Brent Spiner, David Duchovny, and Gillian Anderson and others, all asking for their signature money.  $40 to $80 dollars was the going rate.  I only wish they had not been so busy. I would love to see them all sitting there with their no photo signs behind them, pen in hand, stack of 8x10 glossies sitting undisturbed as fans walked by reminding them we made them popular. We made them in most cases genre stars.  They should feel honored to give us their John Hancock.  We should not pay. I remember when we didn't.  I have, in fact, Marina Sirtis' autograph to prove it. I also have Patrick Stewart's signature which he also now charges for.

At one booth, hocking Stan Lee's graphic novel of Romeo and Juliet: The War, they announced that if we bought the collectors edition, Stan Lee would be there the next day to sign.  One printed form of the graphic novel was the largest graphic novel, dimensionally speaking, ever printed  according Guinness.  It was printed in a 25 book run and is the size of 24.875" by 33" by 2". There was one on display.  The over-sized book is valued at $10k for each edition.  The normal sized consumer, collector's edition book is $30, and Stan Lee's autograph was $75. Let me get this straight: you want me to pay you for a book which will give Stan Lee royalties and then pay for his signature?  The irony was that the day before, I had been in a panel with Stan Lee and received a ticket for an autographed poster from ... wait for it...Stan Lee.  It was free, and I got to say hello to Stan Lee too.  You see, Stan Lee has for years signed virtually everything that has come his way.  As a collectible, it is far from  valuable; nevertheless, $75 for a Stan Lee is not money he will ever see from my pocket.

But then came the shock.  While my son and I were on the autograph floor, we became separated.  He found himself in front of one of the signing tables.  The person sitting there was not recognized by my son.  He explained he was the main voice for one of the Assassin Creed games.  In other words, his claim to fame was that he was a voice actor on a video game.  He wanted $30 for his autograph.  Has the performance industry digressed to such a point that even the nonfamous now think they should make autograph money.  Don't get me wrong, voice acting is difficult and important for modern games, but honestly, money for an autograph of a virtually unknown performer is the limit.

Thus ends the myth that this money goes to an actor's charity.  It clearly goes into their pocket.  Sorry, but we need to put an end for paying people we make famous more money not for their talent or, in many cases, their luck but for being famous or semi-famous or even...not famous at all. Time to remind them who made who a "star." Don't pay!

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Brooks and I.

I am like most OCD only on a few things.  One of them is if I collect something, I want the set.  Not just a few but the set. One set, I started working on was getting every book by Terry Brooks I own, signed. I was doing pretty well for a while.  In the past decade, I was unable to make the few signings that Brooks had done in Colorado because of schedule conflicts or because I missed the announcement.  Needless to say I had about over a dozen books by him unsigned...until last night.

On Monday, July 22nd, I saw my favorite author, Terry Brooks.  I'd seen him many times before.  He is a kind, charming and generous man to his fans.  I have no idea what he is actually like, but I do know that he treats every fan, every reader, every would-be writer with genuine, honest respect.  He had to be tired.  You see, I saw Terry Brooks just two days before at the San Diego Comic Con.  Here,he made the fateful error of telling me to bring all  my unsigned books to his Colorado signing.  I did never actually expecting him to sign them all.

Touring and signing books has got to be brutal. Brooks also signs every book for every fan in line.  He will not stop until he has.  He will chat with each and even get up put an arm around them and take a picture.  He, unlike so many in Hollywood, understands how important his readers are.  They have made him a best selling author. No author, no matter how critically acclaimed, becomes a best seller because critics like his book.  It is his fans.  I cannot imagine Terry ever asking for a fan to pay him for his signature. I am also astounded that he still signs every single book.

I first met Terry Brooks in the late 70's.  I met him through his novel The Sword of Shannara. I know many people have done two things with that book...the first is mispronounce the name 'Shannara' saying "shah nare rah" instead of "shan ah rah" and the second is accusing Brooks of stealing from Tolkien.  Finish the book, it is an epic fantasy which involves all the things that every epic fantasy does. When you've read the incredible arc of the story, then you will know it is a long ways from Tolkien.  As to what Terry Brooks thinks about the accusation.  He responded in one interview with one statement about the accusation, "Thank you."

Terry Brooks is the reason that there are shelves and shelves - walls of fantasy fiction at your bookstore or perhaps on your e-reader.  He was the first fantasy writer to break onto the New York Times Best Seller list. He was there before J.K. Rowling and  J.R.R. Tolkien. I am not saying Tolkien wasn't read; he was.  I am saying that it was the boom of Brooks and perhaps role playing that made fantasy a hot property.  When I was a kid on the lone, fantasy book shelf there was maybe the Lord of the Rings, Peter Pan, and a slew of Tarzan books.  Brooks made the rest possible.  He opened the doors.

I still remember when Elfstones of Shannara came out.  I sat on my front porch reading and savoring what would become my favorite book of the series.  My wife and a student named Ray, kept coming out checking to see where I was in the book.  They wanted to read it next, and they wanted me to read it faster.

I would meet the Terry Brook in person in the early 90's. I had finally moved from the middle of the mountains to the front range and discovered my favorite author signed books at places like book stores - who knew?  I brought my books and discovered that Brooks not only signed books purchased at the store but every book.  I still recall the lecture we received on how to pronounce Shannara.  I too had been pronouncing it incorrectly.  Even more exciting was that Brooks did not read from the book he was promoting but from the next one he was writing.

A couple of years later, a few of my students went to a signing he had at the Tattered Cover.  One or two nights later,  I went to a signing at a bookstore in Colorado Springs. They brought with them their Shannara books and proudly announced they had been turned on to him by Mr. Travis who taught their Fantasy Literature class.  I had adopted Shannara as one of my texts for the class.  When I introduced myself, Brooks announced how thrilled he was to have met my kids and how bright they seemed.  I would later write him a letter thanking him for his kind words and told him if ever he wanted to talk literature and writing in my class I would gladly arrange it. Hey, it never hurts to ask.  Terry Brooks wrote me a letter.  Not a typed letter with a stamped signature, but a handwritten letter.  I have it framed and hanging on one wall of my family room.  He, of course politely declined, but he was kind and cordial and charming.

I hold no illusions that Terry Brooks would know me from any Adam or in my case Mitch.  Whether it was from those years and our brief two letter correspondence or from the fleeting moment in line at Comic Con or standing in the line hopeful that he would sign even a half dozen of the books I brought with me,I would not expect him to remember another fan.  Not only did he sign those six, but five more plus one for my daughter as well.  I knew he would still be there, still signing long after I left.  He will be back, perhaps next summer, with his next book, and I will be there if I can.  I doubt he will remember me, but I will remember him.  It is not hard to remember one writer who does this for his fans.  It is not hard to say,

"Thank you, Terry Brooks."

(Note for you fans: Magic Kingdom is in development with Steve Carell attached as the lead,  and Elfstones is about to become a TV series.)

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Monday, July 15, 2013

A Meme of Nothing

Here's a  meme that's got it all.  I'm still amazed at the expanse of this type of propaganda.  Let put this into perspective.

Gun Control? This relates to the other things in the meme how?  Ninety percent of the nation favors background checks.  Are all of these people  Liberals?

Religion? Separation of Church and State. I'm sure you've heard of it. Again how exactly was religion taken by Liberals?

Health Care? The Affordable Care Act is whether you like it or dislike it the single most sweeping healthcare reform in history of the US. How was healthcare lost?

Job and Home? It seems to me the job and housing market crashed under someone who is less than liberal.  That guy from remember...George...something or other.

Children? Who is taking your children? Kidnapping is still a Federal offense.  What on earth are you talking about -- the loss of headstart, the attempt to cut food stamps to the most needy, the elimination of Medicaid which affects families and kids? Sorry.. I just don't get how all these liberals are taking kids.

Food? Someone is stealing food?  I hate to repeat, but what are you talking about? I still don't see it. 

or Rights? Please remind me what rights have been repealed except the voting rights or choice both of which are rights trying to be controlled by the Right.

Seriously? Create sweeping and inaccurate generalities much?

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Near Deafness

In a right handed world, I suppose you could say I have always had a challenge, but I learned how to deal with it.  In my middle age, I began to notice a loss in my vision. I was unable to see clearly details up close as I was working on set designs.  I am far sighted, and for the past several years I have had to wear glasses full time complete with invisible bi-focals.  I tried contacts but could never get used to bifocal contacts.  I have learned to deal with that too.  And so...

A few days ago, I went to an ear, nose, and throat specialist.  I'd been suffering from pressure in my inner ear canals.  While I was there, they did a hearing test.  I had not had a hearing test since I was in high school.  It was one of those tests where a nurse puts headphones on you and asks you to raise your left or right hand when you hear a tone in that ear.  Wow, have the tests changed. It includes repeating words, announcing "yes" when you hear a tone three times, and putting a thing that runs between the forehead and the back of the neck with a device, that I still don't know what it does.  It is all done in a soundproof room.  You get this with earphones.  I didn't even raise my left or right hand once. I have to admit the soundproof room is a bit disconcerting.

Any student that had me in the past few years knows that I would tell kids to speak up all the time saying that my hearing wasn't what it used to be.  Too many guns, loud music and the numerous other things we all do when we were young that impacts what we hear.  I knew though that my hearing was no where near what it should be.  So I figured the test would tell me that I was getting older, and I'd lost some of my hearing.

I guess I knew that it was worse than that.  I cannot understand people who are walking away from me. I frequently had my wife interpret what others say.  My wife would tell me that the TV was on too loud.  In short, I had all the signs.  I have moderate hearing loss.  While I figured that my loss would be on one end of the tonal scale or the other, it's not.  It is in the middle range.

Now, I am going to learn to deal with something new.  Soon I will be getting my hearing aids.  Oddly, I am looking forward to hearing what I've been missing.  I am also bit befuddled as to why hearing aids are not generally covered by insurance.

It seems with earbuds and in-home theaters and all the other loud noises we surround ourselves with are impacting us all more and more.  Hearing loss is on the upswing.  One study shows that even among teens, one in five is suffering some sort of hearing loss.  Getting a good test is becoming as important as getting your eyes tested.

Hearing loss is an insidious thing.  It is slow and steady and irreversible.  Like my eyesight, my hearing loss could stop now, or it could continue.  No one, not even the audiologist, knows. I will cross that bridge when it comes, if ever. I will learn though to deal with it.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Flashy, Blinky Stuff

I am not a great sleeper.   It is not uncommon for me to get up in the middle of the night and go and fall asleep in my recliner down stairs.  For example, I have moderate acid reflux and have had it for years.  So on nights when it blows up, I will pad down to the recliner where I can sleep in a more upright position. I want to know something. Who thought all the lights we put on phones, TV's and computers were a good idea? I am extremely connected.  I have a smart phone, tablet, e-reader, laptop, wireless smart Blu-ray, a desktop computer, and cable boxes and all of them have some kind of glowing blue, red, orange or green light on them.

It's not only when I am up and roaming the house though that I notice this.  Let's start with smart phones.  The place where we charge our phones is next to my side of the bed.  I have the phones set so that the notification announcement doesn't go off when the phones are plugged in.  That does not, however stop them from flashing when one comes in.  I have to place them screen down to keep them from lighting up the room.  Not only do the screens occasionally come on, but they also have a lovely blue flashing light to notify me that we have notifications. I could shut them down while they charge but, of course, there is that lovely charging battery that shows up on the screen.

My laptop has four bright white lights on the front when it is powered on and one orange one.  I have no idea what these lights mean except one of the white lights flashes. When the laptop is off, it has two of the white lights on.  Explain to me, why a laptop that is not powered on needs any lights or for that matter why one that is on needs any extra little lights on? I can look at the screen and tell if it's on. My laptop spends its time next to the know, the one I occasionally sleep in.  So I have the options of moving the laptop, covering the lights with a pillow or maybe tape or turning it around so the lights at least don't face me.  Since I am pretty nonfunctional when I am moving to the recliner, I usually choose the last one.  I guess I should count my blessings, at least my laptop doesn't do what my  wife's laptop does.  The entire keyboard glows when it's on.

Then I only have to deal with the white digital cannel light of the cable box.  I don't turn it off.  It's the DVR, and since it seems to have a tough time remembering when a show is scheduled if it is turned off, we leave it on all the time.

I recently purchased a small TV.  It has a glowing light, complete with a reflector, under the bottom of the screen to tell me when it is not powered on.  Apparently, the lack of picture and sound coming from it is not enough to tell me when the TV is off.  Fortunately, I found a setting in the menu section that allows me to shut off the light.  Still I have to wonder, what idiot needs a light to tell them their TV is off?

Then there are chargers.  They glow red while charging an object and then go green when charge is done.  You know they could just turn off the light when charging is done.  No, we need two lights where one would easily suffice.  I recently purchased a multi-device USB charger that I can plug into the wall.  Problem? You betcha, it glows blue all the time.  I tried to cover the blue lights, one for each charge connection, but to no avail.  It now lives out in the living room  so we can plug in our e-readers have a place to charge.

In my home office lives my desk top computer.  While I don't use it much anymore, unless I want to game on it, it is still the home for the network for the rest of our wireless devices.  It glows enough that, if I so chose, I could probably read in that room in the dark.  There is the cable modem that has over a half a dozen lights that run all the time.  The monitor has a light that runs all the time and then I also have a USB splitter that glows blue with any thing that I plugged in to it.  There is a portable hard drive that is connected to the router that we back up and share through.  Both drive and router also glow.  The speakers attached to it has a good-sized light on it that glows. I also should mention that the desktop tower, which my son built for me, has a case that glows with neon blue when it is powered.  If that's not enough all I need to do is add a CD or DVD to the drives to get a few more lights twinking from it.

We are surrounded by lights that flash and blink and change colors.  They are soft and neon and glow with an enthusiasm that all lights have.  The only question is why?  How did we get along without all these diodes?
Did I mention my digital alarm clock has wonderful, easy-to-read, red numbers?

Friday, July 5, 2013

Despicable Me 2 Schools Monster

So Despicable Me 2 is everything Monsters wanted to be.  It has humor aimed at virtually every age group and has all those moments where characters connect with the audience.  It has fun. Gru, his girls, his yellow Minions and outrageous inventions are all back.

I admit, I was a bit concerned because the movie was obviously going to rely more on the Minions.  Minions are the cute little yellow helpers. As cute as they are, I was more than a little concerned that too many Minions would equal too much Minions. I was wrong. They are hilarious.  The visual gags for the minions are careful and thought out and work on virtually every age level.  I have to admit, I am not a big fan of bathroom humor, but there is even a good fart joke or two to make any middle schooler giggle with joy.

So the plot is simple enough and a bit predictable, but hey I laughed and was moved by Gru and his interaction with his three adopted daughters, one of whom is about to discover boys.  What does a X-super villain do? A villain who has three precocious girls to raise must find something that will put his talent to work.  It turns out to be more than making jelly and jams.  He must use his talent to find other super villains, maintain his home for his "girls," and maybe, just maybe, find love along the way.  The moments of emotion work and the laughs a many.  The ending musical sequence was one of the funniest things, I've seen in a while. It is a sequel, so some of the edge and creativity of the original is lessened which is to be expected of any sequel, but Despicable Me 2 hits the mark.

Enjoy and go see it. I will buy the DVD.

No Such Right

A stupid meme is always around for me to deal with.  Some folks are getting quite good at posting them.  This week is a gun rights one.  Surprisingly for a 'dead' issue I still see an amazing number of these appear. I wrote when the Senate failed to allow a vote that I didn't think this was going away. Apparently more than a few agree, or they would quit posting.

My thought about this one is quite simple.  The right to be a victim is not in any part of the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, or any of the other Amendments.  If you believe a gun prevents a victim, then you already are one. The propaganda is working well.

And along that same line... I would hope your mother didn't raise you to be a victim.  Oh, and by the way,  a gun does not prevent you from being one either. 

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Happy Birthday!

On July 2nd, 1776, a resolution for independence was formally adopted by Congress.  In a letter to his wife, Abigail, future 2nd president John Adams wrote that on this date in the future, there would be parades and great events.  Turns out he was not quite right.

On July 4th, 1776, the final draft of The Declaration of Independence was approved by Congress and so it is that Adams who was called a pillar in the development of independence by Thomas Jefferson many years later, was off about the celebration we now do by two days.

Happy 4th of July, Independence Day!

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Skin Ink? Why?

I honestly don't understand. The fad for tattoos is both fascinating and appalling at the same time.  In fact, much of the body decoration fad is lost on me. Even given my love of Star Trek and science fiction, I would never think about having something like the one above done. Let me state up front, both of my children have tattoos.  My son is looking at getting another one.  I asked him, "Why?"   So at the risk of my children's  and more than a few friends who follow my ramblings ire, I shall continue, old fogey that I am.

If you have a tattoo and are a grown-up, hey you made the decision, and it is yours to make. I hope you love your ink and never grow tired of it.  I hope you never regret choosing the one you chose.  The lack of understanding is all mine, and I am not trying to impose my lack of understanding on any one.  Now  that you know this...

Many tattoos are really not that appealing.  I do not understand why some of these folks cover themselves in skin ink in things like sleeves and these monster-sized collages, pictographs, and patterns.  They cover their back, their arms, their legs, a few have them on their face, and some have them (err) shall we just say elsewhere.  Some even have their eyeball tattooed.  Do they loath themselves? Do they really think that a permanent picture will define them? Is it fashion? Is it fad?  Is it art? If it is, how do you value it?

Yes, I know.  Tattoos are one of the oldest forms of expression but for the most part that expression was cultural.  The Samoans have handed down pattens and designs from time out of mind.  But is it really cultural when one of the dominant tattoos is called a "tramp stamp," or people have to cover up their tattoos because their business frowns upon them.  Not really cultural, so I am going to say fad - a very permanent form of fad. I would also like to point out that at one point in history, a heavily tattooed person could make a living at a side-show in the carnival.

I admit, some tattoos do occasionally speak volumes and look pretty good.  My son's current tattoo is a cross on  his calve.  It is a symbolic statement of his beliefs.  Craig Ferguson has a tattoo of the cut snake or the "join or die" snake from the Revolutionary War.  He had it done in celebration of his becoming a US citizen.  Unfortunately, he says he has several others which actually, I think, somewhat cheapens the value of the other.

I have heard that Mike Tyson has rethought his famous face tattoo and did you know that Tom Arnold had a tattoo of Roseanne Barr on his chest?  He does, and he is stuck with it. Mark Wahlberg is having his extensive number of tattoos removed and is making his kids watch.  It is apparently even more painful  to have them removed than it is to have them applied.  He is not the only celeb to regret having these done. Angelina Jolie had her tattoo of Billy Bob Thorton's name removed. Many love affairs do not last as long as the ink.

We know the odds of a person getting more than one tattoo are actually pretty high once the decision is made to get the first one.  I just cannot imagine why.  I also hear they are quite painful, especially when the bone is near the surface.  Well someone is being paid to inject a solid line of ink under the skin with a needle.  Of course they are not only  painful but quite expensive especially if your tattoo artist is not so artistic.  Is a doodle that was someone might create while on the phone or when he is bored really art?

Let's face it. Anyone who can buy the needle and the ink can claim to be an artist. Heck, they do it with a regular needle and a broken ink pen in prison all the time if the movies are to be believed.  I've driven by tattoo parlors that even if they are in neighborhoods I would park in, look like they are one step away from being closed by the health department or the CDC.

And then there is the whole gravity thing.  As you grow older, take my word for it, gravity doesn't suck, but it does pull down.  I don't know if people just don't think about placement or what?  The ones across the lower back or abdomen are going to get interesting as the wearer grows older or has children.  Nothing says artistic individualism like stretched out skin art.  And men, what about the ones on your back.  Nothing quite so appealing as art work with hair growing out of it.  Did I mention that all tattoos fade?

They do. I once met the great make-up artist, Bob Kelly.  He was an older man when I met him.  He had a habit of doing make-up while wearing a wife beater.  He was really excited because his son had decided to pay, as a birthday present, for the recoloring of Kelly's tattoos.  They were the old fashioned blue ones that he had done when he was serving in the army during World War II. And, yes, the ones I could see were like faded magic marker.

I guess, I just want to know who thought going through life with Will Ferrell from Elf was a good idea.  For that matter, why would anyone think this was a good idea, at the time or even while drunk? If you want see more, just Google bad tattoos.

I am not saying other folks shouldn't do this.  It is their body and their skin and their money and their pain and their statement and,,,,and. It is their choice. Really.  I am just not sure why folks do this.  

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Under the Dome...Didn't the Simpsons already do this?

I have now watched two episodes of Under the Dome, and the only thing that goes on in my brain is does  no one own a shovel?  I know after tonight's episode they have a backhoe, but apparently no one knows that it is used for digging.  The other problem is, of course, that The Simpsons did this for their movie, and they did it better.

For those of you who didn't watch this summer TV series, it is based on a Stephen King book and produced by Steven Spielberg.  Sounds like a pretty good pedigree until you consider Spielberg's success with TV shows is not that great.  The most successful TV shows he has produced are cartoons, Animaniacs and Pinky and the Brain.  Stephen King is well Stephen King.  His most successful adaptations have been ones that he had nothing to do with other than selling the rights.  To be honest, I don't like Stephen King as a writer and I have given him his chance.  The only book he ever wrote that I liked was the Dead Zone.  The only thing I can say is that he is prolific. So I didn't hold out much hope for this show.

The premise of Under the Dome is simple.  A dome is dropped covering a small town, and no one knows where it came from.  King said he thought about it as a way of creating a microcosm of what would happen. And so the show begins with the most exciting moment when the dome appears from no where and cuts a cow in half.  After that pretty much a series of mysterious events like why is the town council involved in a plot to "hoard" propane?  What does the Sherriff know and what has he hidden?  Will we ever know since he died?  Why are people who are touching the dome suddenly falling into seizures?  Why is the boyfriend of that girl so afraid of her new attitude and locking her up in a bomb shelter?  Why has the female cop, who also touched the dome, not fallen down having a seizure?

Why has no one tried to dig a hole under the dome? How are they getting air?  When the fire breaks out, where did the smoke go?  Why can they hear some news from the outside, but no one outside can hear their radio station?  For that matter, why is the radio station still operational when no other reception is working?  Doesn't anyone have cable?  If the military knows about the dome, why are they not visible all the time outside the dome? Is the fire department from a nearby town  the only ones who care and show up?  Why do they seem to have medical services and no fire department?  Why does the town have no fire hydrants?  Why isn't Big Jim really that big? How long before every time they say "dome" becomes a drinking game?  Why should we care?

Because there is little else to watch on Monday night,  I will give the show one more shot, but it needs to go somewhere.  It is adapted from a 1000 page novel that I have not read nor will I read it.  All I can say is  so far the show has been little more that trite, somewhat boring, and really not much else.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Symbolism: Operation Horribly Muddled.

This pic came from a Republican friend a while back, and I've been pondering it off and on since then.  Maybe there was a caption that went with it, but that didn't show up.  We have Lady Liberty? Justice? Democracy? fighting a bunch of skeletons.  On one shield the word Marxism is written, and I think on the other shield is says Satanism.

Marxism is more or less a dead issue.  I guess it is a reference to the fight against communism.  There are actually only 5 communist states left on the planet: China, Cuba, Laos,Vietnam, and (defacto) North Korea. It may be a reference to the so called liberal agenda but if the current stock market is any indication, they are the worst socialist's ever.

The Satanist shield is an interesting juxtapositioning especially if you consider one of the tenets of Marxist theory is also that of atheism because religion is a control of the masses.  I really am unsure what the worship of Satan has to do with a loss of liberty since, like it or not, we have a freedom of all religions not just one.

It could be I suppose that wonderful form of propaganda known as fear mongering which looks really interesting until we break it down and realize that it really doesn't work very well.  So I guess, I need someone that can explain this to me because the symbolism is clearly lost on me or maybe not...

(Updated note: Another freind just told me he thinks the other shield says Stalinism which makes more of a redundant sort of sense. So my other though is if you cannot read the symbol does that make the picture more or less successful.  He also noted that the lady whatever looks like Stallone, an interesting obervation.)