Friday, May 25, 2018

Going to the movies

I've always liked going to the movies. When I was old enough, I would go whenever I could. That meant not working, being near enough to something showing that I wanted to see, and having enough money for me or me and a date. When I was younger, I didn't get to go to the movies all that much, but I enjoyed it when I did go.

After I was older, I managed to see movies in some cities and towns across southeast Georgia. It kinda depending on what was playing where, and where I happened to be at the time. Savannah, Brunswick, Baxley, Jesup, Hinesville, and other places that had theaters or drive-ins. Hinesville, Baxley, and Jesup had drive-ins at one time or another. Of those, I went to the one in Jesup the most, because they've had one the longest. They still have one. It's one of only five in the state, and the oldest in the state.

Years later, I went to movies in Jacksonville and Orange Park a lot. Those were my first experiences with theaters that had a lot of screens. I even got paid to go to the movies. I wrote about that a long time ago.

In the last few years, though, I've not been to the movies a lot because there aren't a lot of movies I want to go see. Most movies suck, and those that don't are hard to enjoy because the theater is crowded with jerks and the seats are small and everything's expensive, and ... well, you get the point.

This past week, I went to the movies. I mentioned going to the movies in Jesup earlier. Well, in addition to a drive-in, Jesup also has a standard theater. I remember going to the old Strand Theater years ago. Then it closed. I don't know if it was something I did, but it closed for a few years. It reopened years later as a twin cinema. I saw that there are new owners now, and its been completely remodeled.

I spoke to some people that had gone to see a movie there. They raved about it. I wasn't sure about that. I mean, how good could a theater be? Seats are small, it's crowded with jerks, stuff expensive ... you get the idea. But, I thought if there was ever something I wanted to see, I'd go see a movie at the Strand Cinema in Jesup.

Now, even though I don't care for those comic book movies, I did watch the first Deadpool movie and kinda liked it. So, when I found out Deadpool 2 was playing in Jesup, I decided to see it there. And I did.

It was great.

I'm not just talking about the movie. Yeah, that was fun. But the theater experience was fantastic. The seats are roomy. They recline. There's a little table for food. Oh, did I mention the food? They serve food. Burgers. Fries. Hot dogs. Pizzas. Wraps. And they'll bring it to your table. Beverages? Yep. Cokes. Water. Slushies. Beer. Wine. Real food.

Oh, and it's not just the seats that are roomy. The aisles are too. Plenty of room. No one crawling over you to go pee. I've never had a more pleasant experience at a movie theater.

I'll go back to see a movie there. If something good plays, that is. But that's now my go-to place to see a movie. When I'm close enough.

That's how going to the movies should be.

Saturday, May 19, 2018

2001

I first saw the movie 2001: A Space Odyssey about -- heck, I don't know how long ago. It was a long time ago. I saw it on TV, either broadcast or on a cable channel. It wasn't in the theater, I'm sure.

Thinking about it, I may not have seen it until I rented it on VHS. Huh. That would have been around 15 years after it was released. I'm thinking it wasn't that long after, so maybe it was on Showtime. I know it wasn't on TCM, because that didn't even launch until the 1990s.

Anyway, as I said, I first watched 2001: A Space Odyssey a while back. I enjoyed it. Well, most of it.

The nearly 3-minute long Overture with nothing on the screen made me worry that the picture had gone out.

The over 15-minute segment "The Dawn of Man" seemed way long.

The first words not spoken until nearly 26 minutes in (counting the Overture) was an anticlimax.

Taking forever for the stewardess to deliver food -- except the walking upside down was kinda cool.

The 3-minute blank screen and noise that was the Intermission seemed longer.

The nearly 10-minute Star Gate sequence also seemed longer.

Even with all that, I didn't hate the movie. In fact, I liked it. Still do.

The thing is, I always thought of it as a really long movie. And, at 2:28:50, it is. But, it's far from the longest film I own. In fact, it's only the 62nd longest film I own.

Cleopatra is over four hours long. Gone With The Wind is nearly four hours. Ben-Hur is really long. So is Lawrence of Arabia. And so are many, many other films I own. 61 in my library are longer than 2001: A Space Odyssey.

I never would have figured that. I knew I had some long movies, but I would have thought that  2001: A Space Odyssey was in the top ten, not number 62.

I suppose that, despite how much I like the film, the parts that drag do really drag. It just seems a lot longer.

How much do I like the movie? Well, it is, by far, the most watch movie in my library, according to the play count.

How much do the draggy parts drag? Well, the reason I've watch it so much is that when I have trouble falling asleep, I put it on to play. I'm usually asleep before the monkey men get run off from the watering hole.

I think I'll watch it again tonight. Or, part of it.

Friday, April 20, 2018

Stupid people driving

I hate stupid drivers.

There was one today that fits the mold of so many. They don't know how to act at an intersection, stopped for a red light.

Left the Walmart Store today, because of course I did. And, at the light that's at the main entrance, I was behind Stupid Driver. He, like me, was making a left turn out of the Walmart Store parking lot, and heading back into town. Well, downtown, as the Walmart Store is technically in town.

Anyway, he did the thing that you've seen Stupid Driver do before. He pulled up beyond the large wide white stop line. You know the line that tells you where to stop at an intersection? Yeah, that one. He pulled up past it.

And kept inching forward, hoping to change the light.

Here's the thing. You and I both know that the sensor that detects if a vehicle is at the intersection is before you get to the line. The lines cut into the pavement for the sensors are easy to see. But did Stupid Driver stop on the sensors? No. As I said, he pulled up past the sensors, past the white line, and kept inching out.

Now, as a Libertarian, I'm all for leaving people alone. But, as a non-stupid person, I find such activity worthy of being hit repeatedly with a stick. A big stick. With a knot in it. Maybe a nail in it, too.

So, what did I actually do? I pulled up to the white line over the sensor.

I didn't do that so he would be stuck missing the left turn light. No, I did it so I wouldn't be stuck by missing the left turn light.

Of course, by doing that, I not only allowed the left turn light to show for me, it also showed for Stupid Driver. Now, he is reinforced that he can continue to drive stupid and things will go well for him.

Maybe he's not really stupid. Maybe he just never learned what those grooves in the asphalt before the stop line are. And maybe he never learned what a stop line is. Maybe he isn't stupid, just uninformed.

Well, he looked about my age, meaning he's had over 40 years to learn these things. He gets no slack.

He's the Peter Principle in action. He's past his ability to do a job (driving) properly, but others are keeping things going.

So, maybe instead of calling his Stupid Driver, I should call him "Peter." Although "Dick" did come to mind.

Monday, April 2, 2018

800 movies

I now own 800 movies.

Actually, I think I own more than that, but I've converted everything I've got to digital and my digital library is now at 800 movies.

Now, to be fair, there are things counted as movies that aren't really movies. At least, I don't think of them as movies. Disney short films, such as those featuring Donald Duck, Mickey Mouse, Pluto, Goofy, and such are included in this. Buster Keaton shorts are included in this. All of he Mystery Science Theater 3000 episodes (up to the new series, which I own but haven't ripped the DVDs yet) are in this also, as are some of their shorts. There are 39 short films in all, plus a few short film compilation collections. But I'm counting all of them. The compilations are a single entry, but the stand-alone shorts (not in a compilation) are each an entry. And the total is 800.

Is that a lot? I think it's a lot. It seems like a lot.

It's nice, though, being able to pick up the remote and pick any one of 800 films to watch.

Some, though, I won't watch. The Beast of Yucca Flats isn't a good movie, and I doubt I'll watch it. I'm not talking about the MST3K version, which I have, but the actual Coleman Francis "classic."

I doubt I'll watch How Green Was My Valley again. I didn't like it when I watched it the first time, so I doubt I'll watch it again.

Zontar: The Things From Venus? Doubt I'll watch that again.

Blazing Saddles? 2001: A Space Odyssey? Yep, I'll watch those again. Although that 25 minute segment at the end where the astronaut is traveling inside the monolith is boring. (It's actually only 9:21, but seems longer.)

Anyway, there are movies I'll never watch again, and there are movies I'll watch over and over. The bottom line is, I can watch them, any time I want. I can put any of them (but not all at one time) on my iPad and take them with me, if I so wish.

What was movie number 800? Training Day. I finally ripped the DVD out last week.

What will be number 801? Well, I've been meaning to get Star Wars: The Last Jedi. Yes, that'll be the next one.

Hold on a minute, will you?

* * *

Okay, I'm back. I now have 801 movies. I need to go watch that new Star Wars movie some time. Maybe this weekend.

Saturday, March 31, 2018

Gone Google

I have a Motorola Android phone.

I have an HP Chromebook.

I'm writing this using the Chrome browser on my Chromebook.

This little blog is hosted on the Blogger platform.

I have a Chromecast streaming device connected to my TV.

I have a Google Home Mini sitting beside my favorite chair.

All of those are Google products. Android is Google's smartphone OS. Chromebooks are computers that run Google's Chrome Operating System. Chrome is also the name of the Web browser developed by Google. Blogger is the blogging platform owned by Google. Chromecast is Google's streaming device. And, of course, a Google Home Mini is a Google product, similar to the Amazon Echo.

Now, a bit of clarification might be in order.

I still have an iPhone, a MacBook Air, a Dell Windows 10 desktop, Apple TV, Roku, Fire TV Stick, and TiVo. Yes, I still have those other things, but I do have a little segment of my life set aside that operates solely in the Google ecosystem.

Why, you might ask.

Go ahead and ask. I'll wait.

* * *

Well, since you asked, here's the deal. I'm trying to ensure that all my online business and my offline business are kept separate.

Remember when I was helping an old church lady with a smartphone? I ended up with an Android phone (more than one, actually) running on a cheap phone service. As I began compiling all my tax information together this year, I once again concluded that it sure would be helpful if my online life and my offline life were able to operate separately. So, I decided to actually do that.

I kept one of the Android phones (the Moto e4) -- because I like it -- and kept one of the the phone services (along with its own separate phone number) and configured it with the accounts I use for blogging and related online activity.

The Chromebook is something I was using when traveling. Mostly for blogging, as my iPhone handles everything else. I now use the Chromebook exclusively for blogging and other related functions.

I already had a Chromecast device, but rarely used it. If, though, I need to watch something related to blogging (it has happened), I've started using it excluseively. The Google Home Mini is connected to the same account as the Android phone and the Chromecast (as the Chromebook).

So, Basil has ... Gone Google. At least, as far as blogging-related stuff is concerned.

It's taking a little getting used to. Now, when I get an email or other notice related to blogging and all that stuff, I have to pull out the Android phone.

When I want to tweet something, I pull out the Android phone.

When I want to post on Facebook, I pull out the Android phone.

When I want to do anything that's not family-only or day-job related, I pull out the Android phone.

Yes, it's definitely taking some getting used to.

Friday, March 23, 2018

(Re)Generation Who

I’m in Baltimore.

“Why?” you ask.

No, really. Go ahead and ask. I’ll wait.

* * *

Well, since you asked, it’s that I’m attending a Doctor Who convention.

Why would I travel 607 miles to attend a Doctor Who convention?

Easy. I didn’t. I traveled farther than that. First, I drove to Atlanta, then flew to Baltimore. Then Uber to the convention at the Marriott. So more than 607 miles. I got that 607 miles figure because it’s 607 miles from here to my house, as the crow flies. And that’d be a darned tired crow.

But why this one? After all, there are Doctor Who conventions a lot closer.

Well, I’m a fan of the classic show. And the two surviving cast members from the very first season — the very first episode — were scheduled to attend this convention, called (Re)Generation Who. I said “were” because one has since canceled. Carol Ann Ford, who played Susan Foreman, the Doctor’s grand daughter, canceled this week. But William Russell, who played the Doctor’s traveling companion Ian Chesterton, is still scheduled to be here.

Also, there will be not one, not two, but three Doctors: Peter Davison, the 5th Doctor; Colin Baker, the 6th Doctor; and Peter Capaldi, the 12th Doctor.

Also, the entire contingent of 5th Doctor traveling companions will be here:
  • Matthew Waterhouse (Adric)
  • Sarah Sutton (Nyssa)
  • Janet Fielding (Tegan Jovanka)
  • Mark Strickson (Vislor Turlough)
  • Nicola Bryant (Perpugilliam “Peri” Brown)
Now, before any of you nit-pickers start up, Gerald Flood, who voiced the 5th Doctor’s robot companion Kamelion, died in 1989. And Mike Power, who built the prop, died during the production of the series. So there.

There will be others there, too, of course, but there is a big 5th Doctor focus at this convention.

Though I’m disappointed that Carol Ann Ford won’t make it, I’m delighted that, William Russell, at 93 years of age, is still able to attend.


He alone is enough for me to attend. Everything else is a bonus.


Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Mad Max on "The President and the Press"

I have a buddy -- he's real -- that, online, I call Mad Max. He embraces the name that was thrust upon him. Just like you and just like me, he's a little mad sometimes. Mad as in angry. Mad as in a little crazy. But, again, we all go a little mad sometimes.

Oh, I just remembered what that quote is from. Hmmm. I probably should have used a different quote. Oh, well.

Seriously, Mad Max a good guy. If you are in need, he'll help you any way he can. I think a lot of Mad Max.

He doesn't get on The Twitter, but he will show up on The Facebook. He'll leave some comments on other people's pages that get right to the heart of the matter, but he won't post much political stuff of his own. He's smart enough to use The Facebook as a stress relief. Cute kitties are his distraction from this crazy world.

He sent me this, because he's trying to keep his pledge to keep his activity on his page on The Facebook nice and light.

I have his permission to share with you.

The President and the Press


A few thoughts on the deterioration of press relations in the present day


These are just impressions of a casual observer of world events and history going back some 100 years. Certainly not scientific or learned – just some thoughts that occurred to me this evening, I'm not even sure why.

Any writing like this can devolve into a partisan thing right quick, a vicious attack on one side or the other. And that is exactly what this about, so I'm going to do my best to remain utterly neutral and objective over this little idea that somehow planted itself in my mind and won't let me go until I write it out and find someone who can get it out to others.

My subject is the relationship of "the Press" – once a few major newspapers, now a wide variety of media including late-night talk shows and Internet blogs – and "the President" – an elected official of the United States of America.

To make one thing perfectly clear: bias in the Press has always existed. We are all human, and have likes and dislikes. To say those perfectly human emotions do not affect our perception – and our relating our perceptions to others – is a lie. On the other hand, there have been many different types of Presidents – liars, scoundrels, corrupt, clean, dishonorable and honorable, good and bad -- and the conundrum for the Press – and for History – is to figure out which is which.

There was a time in my memory where there was a clear separation between the two, and they existed on two different planes of importance. The Press was definitely important – always has been – in reporting the news, investigating corruption, being honest, and thereby building trust, if not with politicians, celebrities, and sports figures, at least with the populace. There was also a time when the President – the highest elected office-holder of the land – was seen to be on a higher plane; you may not like him or her, but you didn't attack him, his character, his family, on a daily basis. Because there were greater dangers out there, and he was, after all, the Commander-in-Chief, and when all Hell breaks loose, God forbid, we need to come together behind our leader. There is no question every President all the way back, maybe even to George Washington, had his detractors in the Press, but overall, when it came down to it, there was at least some measure of decorum.

The country united with Woodrow Wilson, not at all a universally popular leader, a man who ran on the platform "He Kept Us Out Of The War." But when we went into what was then called The Great War, the country united. It happened again most famously with Franklin Delano Roosevelt, on December 7, 1941, and continued until the day he died in office, and carried over to Harry S Truman.

It began to break down with Lyndon Johnson, but let's face it – the Vietnam War was longer than WWI or even WWII. The popular support gradually and then precipitously diminished and the Press criticized his administration, but it did not attack with the utter viciousness we see today. And it did not attack his family.

Nixon again came under attack, for a variety of reasons, many of them justified. Professionally, analytically, with deep research and well-founded / well-sourced information, the Press took him on, and they took him down.

And then, I think, something changed.

The Press realized they could take down someone they didn't like anyway, even while a war was on. They realized their power. And that other subset of the Press that began to emerge – the late-night comedy, Saturday Night Live, had a good few years diminishing the character of a man they didn't like – Gerald Ford – because he tripped a couple of times. Never mind that two lunatics tried to shoot him during his short administration – it was all good comedy – and the late-night "Press" and the established Press had good fun with it throughout.

Four years of Jimmy Carter proved to be enough for just about everyone, and near the end there was great fun made of "askin' Amy about nuclear war" and the dreaded "Killer Rabbit" incident.

And then there was a pause. The Press didn't like Ronald Reagan at all, but he gave them little to make fun of. He reapplied the honor of the Presidency by keeping a significant aloofness from the Press, speaking to the country right over their heads on rare but significant occasions, leaving the Press to quarrel about what he said amongst themselves in the newly-created format of a "talking-head panel."

George H. W. Bush continued the honor of the Presidency but had some significant failings with his base. A weak economy did not help, and he lost to what I consider the major pivotal figure in this amateur analysis – Bill Clinton.

There can be no doubt the Press loved Bill Clinton. But why? Certainly his policies might attract their personal feelings, but the same could be said for Lyndon Johnson, and near the end of Johnson's last year the Press was ready to throw him out.

My answer is that he seemed to love them. What other President of the United States had appeared on a late-night show playing the saxophone? That in itself remains a famous image. And in my mind, a vast diminishment of the importance of the office of the President. He wasn't "Up There," he wasn't "The Commander in Chief" – he became our buddy. Our best friend. And who likes to lose a best friend?

So the Press lost a best friend – twice – in the 2000 election – Bill had to leave office, and their new best friend, Al Gore, lost in a squeaker that came down to a few butterfly ballots in Florida. This was a bitter pill, and one that still sticks in their throat. For 8 years, George W. Bush – but not so much his wife and children – was vilified in the worst possible ways. This marked a clear departure from past practice.

And then along came Barack Obama – young, handsome, telegenic, great speaker. AND – what else did he do? He went on all manner of late-night talk / comedy shows, gave interviews to all manner of friendly Press, even appeared with internet blog posters that would otherwise have remained unknown to everyone. He was our best friend – We had a best friend again!

But best friends don't last, and he had to go away, so the Press picked a new best friend.

But she lost.

This, I believe snapped something in their minds. I also believe, to return to the point of this essay, that the Press no longer see the President of the United States as a person of great responsibility, a responsibility that would crush most of us, but as a person who should be someone they like. And if he's not the best friend they wanted, they'll revert to a Lord of the Flies bullying and eventual murder, if they can get away with it.

There, in a nutshell, is the problem between the Press and the President of the United States. One is an office established in the Constitution of the United States of America. The other are a pack of wild and dangerous children feeling lost.
Mad Max may be a little mad. But he's not crazy.