Monday, October 14, 2019

Silly Old Bear

The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh at Walt Disney World
The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh
at Walt Disney World
One of my grandsons -- the 4-year old -- really loves Winnie the Pooh. Well, the Walt Disney version of the character anyway.

I've taken him to Walt Disney World a couple of times and one of the rides he always wants to ride -- usually the first one he mentions -- is The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh. And, when he's over at the house, he loves the Google Home device that is linked to a Chromecast. He doesn't know or understand all that, but he knows that if he says, "Hey Google, play The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh," that it will say "Okay" and that Walt Disney movie will start playing.

The boy loves Walt Disney's Winnie the Pooh.

What brought this up? Well, the first Winnie the Pooh book (titled Winnie-the-Pooh) was first published on October 14, 1926. My grandson has never read the book. I've read the book to him, anyway. But the fact the book was published this date 93 years ago was the first in a series of events that eventually led to my grandson and me having some fun times together.

Will you or I do something that impacts others some 90-something years from now? Maybe not. Probably not. But we might.

Is that too deep for a Monday?

Thursday, October 10, 2019

Worst Director?

Edward D. Wood, Jr., born 95 years ago today.

Some people say that Edward D. Wood, Jr. was the worst movie director ever. I'm not sure about that.

Yes, he made some really bad movies, but if I learned anything from watching Mystery Science Theater 3000 is that a lot of people made bad movies. Ed Wood wasn't the only one.

I mentioned on IMAO the other day about Manos: The Hands of Fate, which is a move we love to ... well, hate isn't the word, because we don't hate it. Far from it, we love it, both despite of and because of how bad it is. But, from my understanding, Manos was never intended to be a great film. It was intended to be a film that came in under budget, and it was. Didn't make any money, but still, it came in under budget. Mission accomplished. Sort of.

Plan 9 From Outer Space was intended to be a money-maker. It wasn't. In fact, all of Ed Wood's movies were suppose to be successful films. Mr. Wood fell short of that goal a lot.

But, is he really the worst director of all time? A lot of critics say he was, but I think a lot say that because they're expected to say that.

How bad can someone be who directs Bela Lugosi's compellingly awful lines from Bride of the Monster?

[The YouTube]

I'm not sure Ed Wood is the worst. Not by a long shot. But, if you want to think he is, go right ahead. He won't complain. He's been dead since 1978, dying two months after his 54th birthday. And that birthday? October 10, 1924. 95 years ago today.

Happy birthday, Edward D. Wood, Jr. You may or may not have ben the worst, but you were certainly the best of the worst.

Wednesday, October 9, 2019

1919 Chicago White Sox

It was 100 years ago today that the Cincinnati Reds beat the Chicago White Sox in the 8th game of the World Series, winning the series five games to three. That was the one where eight players on the White Sox ended up being banned from baseball for conspiring to throw the series.

A lot of people have come out over the years claiming that "Shoeless" Joe Jackson wasn't actually in on it, but at the time, there was little doubt. Same with Buck Weaver. Though there is doubt about those two actually participating in the fix, they knew about it and didn't report it. So, they were banned by Commissioner Kennesaw Mountain Landis.

<a href="https://www.basilsblog.com/2004/12/61.html">I like baseball</a>. I don't like things that harm baseball. And much of the game today isn't what I like. That's why minor league baseball is a better game, though the players are lesser players. They're playing hard, all the time. They want to make it to the majors. It's just a shame that so many that make it to the majors then turn into what's wrong with baseball.

It's kinda like politics, except that when baseball players take money, nobody forces you to pay for it.

Tuesday, October 8, 2019

Kneel Before Zog

King Zog I

Did you know Albania had a king?

I mean, they don’t. But they did. They had a king. A king. One king. And that wasn’t really all that long ago.

Actually, it was, 1930s. Well, actually, 1928-1939. But that was less than 100 years ago, so not all that long.

Yes, Albania had a king. Zog I.

Really, his name was Zog I. There was never a Zog II, or an anything else, either. He was elected king — did you know you could get elected king? Well, Zog was, so it was possible it seems — and he served until Mussolini invaded Albania in 1939.

Why am I bringing him up? Well, today’s his birthday. How old is he? That’s easy. 65.

How is that possible? Well, he quit having birthdays in 1961 when he up and died, so he’s been stuck at 65 for a while. But he was born in 1895, if you care. Albania cared, apparently.

I’m just wondering why I never hears of Zog I before now. Maybe you’ve heard of him. If so, share your knowledge. That way I don’t have to look a bunch of stuff up.

Tuesday, September 24, 2019

1,500 movies

I passed the 1,500 mark in my movie library this week. I didn't even realize it at the time.

I've got a decent size library of films -- it's up to 1,502 right now, or maybe even more -- so when I passed that number, I didn't realize it. I just happened to sit down tonight after supper and call up my video server and that's when I saw I had 1,502 movies. I was impressed.

My movies

No, this isn't the largest personal video collection there is, but it's the largest of anyone that I know personally, or that knows me. Well, as far as I know.

So, what movie was number 1,500? From the image above, you'd figure it was "Sleeping Beauty" right? Well, no. It's actually "The Fox and the Hound." You see, that version of "Sleeping Beauty" is an HD version. I already an older standard definition version, but when Disney released it from the vault again this week, I upgraded it. So, it replaced the SD version. It's the same movie.

Now, if one was a Director's Cut or something like that, then yes, I'd call it a separate version. But then, it would show 1,503 movies, and counting back, you'd still get "The Fox and the Hound." But it's the same version, just in higher definition, so I have 1,502 movies and the 1,500th was still "The Fox and the Hound."

And here's the thing: I've never seen "The Fox and the Hound." I just wanted to get it, in case I ever wanted to watch it. Or in case the grandchildren wanted to watch it.

Of course, while I have 1,502 movies in my local streaming library, I actually have access to 1,512 films that I own. Those other ten movies are online only, although I do own them. Five are alternate versions of other movies I have, but that's just because the streaming service is a member of Movies Anywhere -- I talked about that before -- and they didn't have the version I bought, so the filled the Movies Anywhere requirement with a slightly different version.

Two are Director's Cuts: "Lethal Weapon" and "Lethal Weapon 3" which VUDU used to meet its Movies Anywhere obligation.

One is an extended edition of "There's Something About Mary," again from VUDU.

One is an alternate release of "How The Grinch Stole Christmas" from Amazon, which includes "Horton Hears A Who." Only, I already have "Horton Hears A Who" so that's an odd one to try to count.

There's that awful 2011 remake of "Arthur" that Fandango Now added instead of the correct "Arthur" film with Dudley Moore. I don't like to count it, but I do have it in my online streaming library.

And, I bought the theatrical release of "Stripes" through Movies Anywhere, but iTunes gave me the extended version instead, and that's the one I have locally.

The actual intended purchases I have that are online only are the original "Gone in 60 Seconds" and three "Ice Age" shorts.

So, do I count those? I generally don't because I don't have a local copy in my streaming library. But, since I do own them, and since they are part of my streaming library, what is my 1,500th film? Well, what if I throw out those mistakes or replacement that the streaming services forced on me, but still count my four intentional online purchases from Amazon, my 1,500th movie is "Knute Rockne, All American" starring Ronald Reagan and Pat O'Brien.

Yeah, all that "well I bought one version but this one company gave me another" is not really something I care for. So, I'm sticking with "The Fox and the Hound." A good family film makes me feel better.

I need to sit down and watch that. Maybe this weekend.

Monday, September 16, 2019

Smoke Alarm

It was late Sunday night -- a little after 10 PM -- when I heard the "BEEP!"

I sat there for a moment, not sure if I actually heard something. After several seconds, I decided I hadn't heard anything. Then I heard it again.

"BEEP!"

"Okay, that's the smoke alarm telling me the battery is low," I said to myself. Why did I say that to myself? I was the only one listening, that's why.

So, I walked to the hallway and looked over the guest bedroom door, where the smoke detector was.

"BEEP!"

It didn't really sound like it was coming from ahead and above me. Must be odd acoustics, huh? Oh, well. I need to take it down and change the battery. So, I walked over to it, twisted it slightly, and it came off. I then turned it over to locate the battery cover, expecting something about the size of a 9-volt battery. Nothing looked that size. There was something that looked like a battery cover, but it didn't look the right shape.

"BEEP!"

That sure didn't seem like it came from my hand. But, yes, I had the smoke alarm in my hand. Walking into the kitchen, where I keep the batteries in the drawer full of everything, I removed the cover and saw a couple of strange-shaped batteries. CR123A. Well, that's unexpected. I'll need to run to the store and get a couple. For now, I'll just remove them. So I did, setting the smoke alarm, batteries, and battery cover on the kitchen table.

"BEEP!"

Okay, that's unexpected. I had not expected the smoke alarm to continue to beep at me after the batteries were removed. Had I removed the wrong smoke detector? Did I have another I forgot about? So, I looked into the guest bedroom to see what I could find.

"BEEP!"

Okay, that was behind me. I looked up along the hallway, wondering if there was another. So, I stepped into my bedroom, looking up around the bedroom.

"BEEP!"

That was behind me. So, in the hallway? Or was it something else? The motion sensor perhaps? I walked to the middle of the hallway and stood staring at the motion sensor, waiting for ...

"BEEP!"

Okay, that was to my left. What's to my left? The thermostat. The bedroom. The hall closet. And, in the dining room, just off the hallway, the alarm system. Well then, I'll just stand in the opening between the hall and the dining room and see if the sound is from the alarm system to the right or the hallway to the left.

"BEEP!"

Definitely hallway. So... the hall closest? Is there a smoke alarm in there? I opened the hall closet to see. There, on the shelf, was the old smoke alarm that I had replaced many many months ago with a smoke alarm that tied into my security system. I picked it up off the shelf and turned it over. There was a 9-volt battery attached.

"BEEP!"

I unplugged the battery, and set it down on the kitchen table. I put he CR123A batteries back in the system smoke alarm and put it back on the wall. Or started to. I must have hit something because my alarm system went off. I walked over and punched in the code and it stopped.

Back to the hallway, and I successfully put the smoke alarm back up. I walked back to the home alarm system and set the alarm for the night. Rather than head to bed, I decided I was thirsty and got some cold water from the fridge. Sitting down in the recliner, I decided to finish the water before heading to bed.

A few minutes later, I heard a large vehicle pull up out front. Did I care enough to go see what it was? No. In a little bit, something caught the corner of my eye. There was a blue light I could just about see through the space between the window and the blinds. Now I cared enough.

Heading to the door, I peered between the blinds. Was that a fire truck? And a police car? And four persons standing across the street in the neighbor's yard?

No evidence of a fire. Perhaps someone had called 911 for a medical emergency? I grabbed my pistol -- you never know what might be going on at 10:30 at night -- and disabled the alarm. I walked to the front door, opened it, and there was a man walking up the steps. I flipped the porch light on, and I could see he was a firefighter.

"We got a report of a fire alarm at this address."

I paused. "Nope. No fire here."

He was joined by two other firefighters and a police officer.

"Your alarm company said they couldn't reach you so they called us."

"I'm sorry about that. My phone hasn't rung," I said. And it hadn't. "Everything's okay here. I am sorry for the trouble though."

"It's not a problem." He turned to leave, then stopped. "You might want to your alarm company and correct your address." He explained that they gave him an address 1 number off, which would be on the other side of the street. That house, though, faces a different road, meaning the address they were given doesn't exist.

"I'll contact them right now. Sorry for the trouble."

"You have a good night, sir."

"You too."

Well, the alarm company does have my address correct in the Web interface, so I'm not sure why they'd give the wrong address. And while my phone didn't ring, I did have a voice mail from them.

It's good to know that my alarm system works, even if it doesn't work just right.

Saturday, August 31, 2019

Disney+ streaming deals? Maybe.

In case you haven't heard, there's a thing called Disney+. It's a streaming service that will launch in November. It will contain a lot of Disney content, naturally. And, that's a lot of stuff. Disney owns a whole bunch of stuff.

In the meantime, Disney has been removing their content -- not all of it, but bit by bit at least some of it -- from other streaming services. Netflix is slowly losing content, but whether or not all Disney content will eventually leave isn't known. But, with Disney's new streaming service, there will be a streaming home for the massive Disney catalog.

What brought this up is a couple of things. I grew up watching Disney, so Disney movies and Disney parks hold a special place for me. Sure, a lot of things Disney does I do not like, but if I stopped watching everything from companies that did something I didn't like, I would watch nothing. So, I enjoy their movies and parks, by myself and with the grandchildren.

The other thing is that Disney+ offers an introductory offer for the service. But, of course, there's a catch. You gotta sign up for three years in order to take advantage of the special price. And the deadline for the offer is a full two months (maybe more) before the service launches.

I figure I'll subscribe, at least for a while, to see if I like the service. And, I suspect I'll like it, at least enough to keep paying the $5.99 a month (that's the regular price, not the discount I mentioned. That works out to $3.92/month.

What complicates things is that Disney has other offers going on. They'll be offering three services -- Hulu, Disney+, and ESPN+ -- for $12.99/month. Since ESPN+ is $4.99/month and Hulu is $5.99/month, that would mean I could get Disney+ for essentially $2.01/month. But, I don't want or need ESPN+ every month. I only care during football season, since some games I want to watch will be on that service.

The other thing is that I also upgrade my Hulu from the $5.99 service to the $44.99 Hulu Live service -- adding $39/month to the cost -- during football season. That's so I can get ESPN, which is where many of the games I want to watch will be shown. I don't need Hulu Live the rest of the time. Of course, there are other options for adding ESPN to my streaming capabilities, the cheapest of which is Sling TV, which, with the Sports Extra (ESPNU, ESPNews, SEC Network, others) runs $35/month. To me, spending the extra $4 for Hulu Live vs Sling TV makes more sense because of the recent issues with content being pulled from Sling during Dish contract negotiations. Dish owns Sling TV. To avoid that, I upgraded my Hulu to the Live service instead.

So, the complications to the Disney+ special offer are related to the bundle of Disney+ with ESPN+ and Hulu, the fact that I only use ESPN+ part of the year, and the fact that I upgrade from Hulu to Hulu Live during part of the year. That made running the numbers challenging. But, hey, I like a good challenge. Here's what I found.

One assumption I made was that I would subscribe to Disney+ for three years, whether the 3-year deal, the one-year price, the month-to-month price, or the bundle price. Regardless of how I did it, I would do it for three years. That made it easy to compare.

The next is that I would keep Hulu the whole time. I expect that to be the case, as I've had Hulu since 2010, when it was called Hulu Plus.

The next assumption is that prices would remain the same for three years. That's a false assumption, but I only have current prices available, so I went with what I have.

Finally, I had to run the numbers two ways in order to fully compare. One way was with adding a live streaming service (for ESPN channels) during part of the year, and subscribing to ESPN+ only during that same time. The other was keeping all services all year. I don't expect that to happen, but I ran the numbers to see what would happen if I did. The idea is that if I found it cheaper to keep the year-round rather than drop them during off months, I would. Spoilers: It's not cheaper to keep them, but I didn't confirm that until I ran the numbers.

Here's what I found for having Hulu year-round, Disney+ year-round, ESPN+ during football season, live streaming with sports channels during football season.

Paying full price for all services ($5.99 Hulu, $4.99 ESPN+, $5.99 Disney+, $39 Hulu Live add-on), it's $55.97/month during football season, and $11.98 the rest of the year. That totals $363.71/year, or $1,091.13/3-years.

Same, but pre-paying for a year of Disney+ instead of month to month works out to $361.83/year or $1,085.46/3-years. That's less than a $2/year savings.

Same, but getting the Disney bundle year-round, and adding Hulu Live during season is $350.88/year or $1,052.64/3-years. That's a little more savings.

Same, but getting the Disney bundle in season, and paying full price off-season, works to $301.88/year or $905.64/3-years. That's more of a savings.

Same, but using Sling TV with Sports Extra instead of Hulu Live is $281.88/year or $845.64/3-years.

I also ran the numbers keeping everything year round, and that increased each total by 74% to 107%. Yep, nearly double in many cases and more than double in some. So, I'm not going with the year-round option.

What does all this bunch of numbers mean? Well, it means I'm going to pass on the three-year price for Disney+ and use the three-service bundle. I'll upgrade to live sports during football season and cut back during off-season. Which live service depends on price and special offers. Sling TV will sometimes offer specials if you pre-pay for several months. I've done that in the past. That may be something to consider if you are looking at something similar.

For now, I'm not going the cheapest route, but it's not much more than the cheapest. If you're looking at streaming, run the numbers before you buy into a long-term contract. It may save you some cash in the long run.