Friday, December 31, 2010

The Year 2010 in Review (Part The Second):

Worst move of the year: Unstoppable. I’m well aware that my view of this movie—which was “inspired by true events”—may have been biased by my being so familiar with the rather mundane “true events” that “inspired” this movie, but Hollyweird really stretched the limits with this one. I know that most movies require you to suspend your disbelief to a certain extent, but if they’re going to make a claim like that, they should at least try to make it a little more believable.

Movie I’m glad I never saw: 2-way tie between The Book of Eli and The Taking of Pelham 1-2-3. Seriously. From what I’ve heard, at the rate Denzel Washington is going, he’s going to be racing Nicholas Cage to the direct-to-video market. What is wrong with him?!
Runner-up: The Losers. Not one legitimate movie critic, nor anyone I’ve talked to, has had anything good to say about this movie. Chris Evans is slated to be Captain America in an upcoming movie, and he apparently has his work cut out for him after this movie.

Movie I wish I’d seen: The Expendables. From what I’ve heard, this attempt by a group of D-listers to resurrect their careers while at the same time poking fun at themselves wasn’t half bad. I hope to catch it on DVD at some point.

Movie surprise of the Year: RED. In this year of reality TV, Hollywood scandals, and effects-heavy, plot-light movies, it was nice to see a group of old school Hollywood actors put on an acting clinic. The plot was a little weak, but the star power made up for it. And seeing Helen Mirren manning a .50-caliber heavy Machine gun was priceless!

Favorite TV show of the year: “The Good Wife”. I was pleasantly surprised by this show in its first season, and it’s only gotten better its sophomore year. Julianna Margulies belongs in front of a TV camera, and the supporting cast is every bit as good as she is.
Runner-up: “The Good Guys”. This show began as a summer season bit of fun, and it has become a regular part of Fox’s Friday lineup. It’s funny, well-written, and, most importantly, doesn’t take itself too seriously. Plus, Brad Whitford’s molesterstache alone makes me laugh more than anything else!

Most disappointing TV show of the year: “Outlaws”. I’ve been a fan of Jimmy Smits ever since his “L.A. Law” days, so frankly I was VERY disappointed with his latest effort. Seriously. He was really phoning it in. Apparently, so was everyone else, since the show died a quick and deserved death.
Runner-up: “Blue Bloods”. I really think they should have spent a little less on actors and more on writers. The quality actors in this show do the best they can with what they’ve been given, which is probably why the show is still on, but it’s still a pretty weak effort.

Most dreaded TV show return: “V”. A TV show inspired by a flop from 2 decades ago, and its sole claim to fame is the clip of Morena Baccarin blinking her ridiculously long lashes in time to the final stanza of Muse’s “Uprising” in one of the show’s promos. I managed to make it through one episode, and that’s an hour of my life I wish I had back.
Runner-up: “Desperate Housewives”. Don’t even get me started.

And with that, I say goodbye to 2010 and hello to 2011. I wish all 3 readers of this blog a safe, happy, and prosperous New Year!

Thursday, December 30, 2010

The year 2010 in review (Part The First):

Well, folks, we once again find ourselves near the end of another year, so it is again time for my traditional (sort of) year in review.

Please remember that all things listed here are strictly my opinion. If you disagree with anything said here, well, then start your own blog! Let’s start with the obvious:

Best moment of the year: The entire week of my trip to Hawai’i. Seriously. I don’t think I’ve enjoyed any week more in my entire life. For more details, see my blog posts from Late February and early March of 2010.
Runner up: Seeing my dad celebrate his 80th birthday. This year officially begins his 9th decade walking the earth.

Worst moment of the year: Returning from the Hawai’i trip to find my car buried under 6 inches of snow. Believe me when I say it was a sobering return to reality.
Runner up: Watching six people in my office lose their jobs to budget cuts 2 weeks before Christmas. I’m just glad I wasn’t one of them.

Most anticipated event of the New Year: My next tropical vacation! More details perhaps later.
Least anticipated event of the New Year: Coming BACK from my next vacation!

Most Significant news event of the year: The BP oil spill. Not only the spill, but also the clumsy and crass way they handled it. I now drive past BP stations when I need gas. I will for a long time.
Runner-up: The Mid-term elections. Once again, the American public at large proved that it is collectively as dumb as a bag of hammers. After only two years, the voters decided to return to power the same dumb asses who got us into this mess in the first place. Sheesh! If I could afford it, I would move to Canada.

Best Sports moment of the year (11/27/2010): OSU 37, Michigan 7. After 7 years this is getting to be routine...
Runner up (1/1/2010): OSU 26, Oregon 17. ‘Nuff said.

Worst sports moment of the year: Two words: Wisconsin. Game.
Runner up: Seeing the Toledo Walleye get crushed 6-0 in their home opener on the same night as the above game.

My Oscar predictions (without actually knowing who and what will be nominated yet):
Best Picture: The Social Network. A dark horse, I know, but Hollywood seems to like the underdogs lately.
Best Director: The Coen Brothers for True Grit. Fighting the legacy of John Wayne’s only Oscar-winning film could NOT have been easy.
Best Actor: Jeff Bridges, for True Grit, dammit! See above for the reason why.

That’s as far out on the limb as I’m going to go without knowing the nominees yet.

Best Movie of the Year: Tron: Legacy. Given the depth of my hardcore geek love for the original—which was cutting edge back then but today looks like a bunch of stick figure drawings compared to the new movie—it would have been impossible not to like this new one. It was well worth waiting almost 30 years for the sequel.
Runner up: True Grit. I’m well aware that I not only saw two movies within a week of each other, but that they both starred Jeff Bridges, and that they also could not have been more different from each other if they tried to be. Bridges would have a lock on his second Best Actor award in as many years if those idiotic Academy voters didn’t have such a fetish for English Actors (Damn you, Colin Firth!). Seriously. Just because you speak with a British accent does NOT make you a good actor (Jason Statham, I’m looking in your direction here!)

Part 2 tomorrow.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

The End of Kodakchrome

December 30th will see the closing of Dwayne's Photolab in Kansas. This will be the sad end of an era.

You see, Dwayne's is the last remaining photo lab that still processes and develops Kodakchrome 35mm film.

I happened to learn about this thanks to a story on CBS's Sunday Morning TV show. It showed the lament of a professional photographer about what he would be losing with the disappearance of Kodakchrome.

You see, Kodakchrome was manufactured by only one company (Kodak, obviously). They alone manufactured the film, along with the chemicals necessary to process and develop it. They have announced that as of December 30th of this year, they won't manufacture the film or the chemicals needed to process it any more. It's simply not economically feasible for them to do so in this age of digital photography.

Kodakchrome was a VERY high quality film. It is responsible for many of the most well-known photographs that still exist today, including the world-famous Afghan Girl portrait that appeared on the cover of National Geographic and that is recognizable to nearly everyone in the modern world once they see it (It was also used to duplicate the same photograph by the same photographer nearly 20 years after he took the original picture).

In today's age of digital photography, actual film has largely gone the way of the steam engine and the horse and buggy. Today, when nearly every cellphone possesses a built-in digital camera, and when modern digital cameras can capture images that appear to the naked eye to be every bit as sharp as film pictures, it is no longer economically feasible to mass produce chemical film. Digital pictures cannot yet capture the detail that film can. Usually, however, this does not matter, since the untrained eye cannot tell the difference.

Nor are companies like Kodak in any danger of failing, since they have embraced the digital age. I myself own a Kodak digital camera.

But an important era has come to an end with the end of Kodakchrome. I hope that the many pictures preserved in the various photo albums in my parents' house are durable, because they will never be able to be accurately duplicated. And that is a shame.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

It'll Never Happen Ag...WHOA!

A few months ago, I posted this entry about a fluke happening wherein I flipped an envelope at an open paper box and it landed balanced on the edge.

Well, a few days ago, something similar and just as amazing happened:

Yes folks, that is a piece of paper balanced on the edge of the same box. It's held in place solely by the friction of that one corner against the inside edge of the box. Nothing more than a light puff of air would have been sufficient to knock it one way or another. But right then, it remained where it was for several minutes.

I swear I'm not making this up! I challenge you to try and get a piece of regular 8 1/2 X 11 paper to balance on the edge of a box that way. I'm starting to think I should video myself every time I flip a piece of paper or an envelope at my recycling box...

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

You Go Girls!

Ha, you Huskies! Mush!

Last night, the UCONN women's basketball team won its 89th game in a row.

They've long since passed any other women's team in that category. But what made it significant was that they now hold the record for the most consecutive wins by any college team in any sport, by either sex. They beat out the UCLA Bruins of the late 60's and early 70's, who were coached by the "legendary" John Wooden.

The Huskies are coached by Geno Auriemma, who, in my opinion, now deserves his own "legendary" status.

In a way, the success of this team feeds on itself. The dominance they have shown in the last few years allows them to pick and choose the best players.

Some will claim that it's much easier to coach a women's team than a men's, if for no other reason than the lure of the pros does not call to the great women basketball players the same way it calls to the men. And while this may be true, it is also true that this simply means that there is a larger pool of athletes available for the teams to draw from. In other words, a much more level playing field.

From now on, every game the Huskies win until their next loss is simply setting a new record. And I say, keep up the good work.

And if it keeps bringing attention to the importance of women's sports, I say, more power to them.

Friday, December 17, 2010

My "Where Were You When" Story

Tonight CBS played a repeat of the Blue Bloods episode "what you See". The episode shows the fictional NYPD of the show hunting a potential Car bomber. After the situation is defused, the police commissioner, played by Tom Selleck, wonders aloud to himself "Where were you on September 11th?"

I can't imagine anyone who was aware enough to remember what happened that day ever forgetting where they were, or what they were doing. I've never talked to anyone I work with who doesn't have their own story about that day.

This is mine.

I work in the payroll department of my office at the time. It was pay week. Our department was working hard to get payroll completed.

Around 9 a.m., rumors began to filter. A plane had hit the World Trade Center.

A private plane, I thought. Trivial, I thought. An accident.

A T.V. was located. We tuned it in. We saw the Towers smoking. Heavily.

No big deal, I thought. They'll get those fires out in no time.

We continued to watch. We watched as the fires continued to burn. We watched as the towers collapsed.

We were stunned.

Most of us returned to our desks in a state of collective shock. I sat back down at my desk and started entering payroll data automatically. I couldn't think of anything else to do. The rest of us felt pretty much the same way.

An hour or so later, the boss called. He'd been attending a conference out of town. He told us to close the office and go home.

But payroll had to go out. So my supervisor and I volunteered to stay. As the only two single people in our department, it made sense. We worked furiously, entered the necessary data (with several nervous glances out the window of our building--who knew if we were the next target?), and then got the hell out of there.

I spent the rest of the day at home, watching the news coverage of the incident. Around dusk, I walked outside to watch the evening sky. I've never heard the city be so quiet. I also saw many of my neighbors outside, watching the skies. I saw many American flags hanging from their houses, more than I'd ever seen on any National Holiday.

We heard a jet engine overhead. We all looked up and saw an Air National Guard F-16 streak across the sky. We all felt a little better seeing it.

When it grew dark, we went back inside.

Everyone's life changed that day. Everyone had a new "Where Were You When" story.

I fully realize that it's morbid to bring that up at this time of year. But I wanted to make sure everyone remembers what happened then. And why we should all be extra grateful for the things we still have.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Happy Holidays

You're fired.

That's the message sent to six of my co-workers last Friday.

I have to believe that there is a special ring of hell reserved for a boss who fires people during the Christmas/Holiday season.

Seriously. What prompts someone to do that?

To those few folks who have the tenacity to weave their way through the past 7+ years of this blog, and who work at my office and are in upper management, and who are displeased by what has been said above, and who may actually read this entry, then let me say this: Try to fire me and you will be sued so fast you won't know what hit you. And trust me when I say that I know where all the bodies are buried. Work in the same office for nearly 15 years and it happens.