Wednesday, December 30, 2015


   I am an ardent fan of the cinematic arts. Although I have certain genre preferences, I don’t let that stifle my curiosity and close myself to different flavors of entertainment. That said...I am a huge fan of science fiction, super hero and action movies! Even though this film falls within the sci-fi genre (even though it’s heavy on comedy), please visit my other blog The Boxed Office for reviews, exclusively, on these types of movies.

The Cast: 

   Adam Sandler is struggling for relevance. In this film plays Brenner, a man who apexed in his teen years on video games, but now is nothing but mundane. Sandler is good at mundane, as his career has certainly prepared him for the role.

   Kevin James is Cooper, a childhood friend of Brenner that has now become the President of the United States. As cool as that is, he still has close ties to is buddy which conveniently plays into the plot.

   Peter Dinklage is Eddie, another former gamer from the 80’s who encapsulates the “bad boy” role in the film. His life has taken him on a path to prison , and it’s no surprise we learn later he was a cheater back in the day.

   Josh Gad is Ludlow, another friend of Brenner and Cooper and former gamer. Of all the characters, I think the film was most kind to him. None of these roles goes any deeper than what I have just described so there really isn’t much to say about the “acting” in this film and the direction and script aren’t much better.

The Plot: 
   Back in the eighties, Brenner, Cooper, Ludlow, and Eddie were all video game gurus. The teenage years were the best and life couldn’t get any better. At the same time, video feeds being sent into space of these game is interpreted by an alien race as a declaration of war….which they respond to in the modern era with renditions of the game characters that spread chaos, turmoil and death.

   Of course the logical response to this is to assemble all the former video game greats and outfit them with super military tech so they can save the planet by fighting the alien’s game armada on the designated terms (ala classic video game rules).

   What happens next is a jumble of silliness wrapped up in special effects and sprinkled with one-liners.

The Verdict: 

   It’s easy to pinpoint what has made this film suck…a bad script, and Adam Sandler. I don’t know if sander can do better, all I know is that he didn’t. I found it pathetic that he would have to chase past glory by using the same voice from “Happy Gilmore “ to say "Somebody's more important" in the tone of "Somebody's closer”. Perhaps Sandler should abandon comedy films altogether and try his hand at some serious roles. It worked for Vince Vaughn.

   Kevin James and Peter Dinklage can do better…much better. Dinklage is a bonafide star and I can’t even begin to fathom why he would appear in this film. James has had recent “success” with the “Paul Blart” films, so again, he really didn’t need the low point this film created for him.

   The idea of aliens using video game pixels to destroy Earth is already borderline dumb, but when the film can’t figure out if it wants to be a comedy or a science-fiction film, the only people that lose is the audience. If it had been genuinely funny (which it wasn’t) instead of just dumb, it might have been worth the time spent watching it.

   The only redeeming quality of this film is the special effects…and they really aren’t that special. Perhaps if they took a more serious tone with them, they might have elevated the film more. Instead I had to settle for a few good lines from Josh Gad…a few choice peeks at Ashley Benson. Unfortunately, those high points were not enough to blast more than one and a half cinnamon sticks, in my cup of tea.

Rating 1.5 / 5

Sunday, December 27, 2015

The Conditioning of Mr. Know-It-All

   So…there I was wondering about what I would talk about this month. I was scouring my brain for recent experiences and lessons learned for discussing, when life simply presented me with the content I was looking for. It’s wonderful how things fall into place and all you have to do is be open and aware to capture the opportunity.

   Let me start off by saying that there is a good chance we all know someone that thinks they have all the answers, or knows everything there is to know (no matter how illogical such a fallacy is presented). We also probably know someone, or are ourselves, so conditioned in a certain circumstance as to be unwavering in our routine, even when it’s completely appropriate to do so. All that said, I’m not really writing this to tear anyone down, but if a careful observation of this experience can help us to look at ourselves in hopes of preventing similar acts, then I think it’s worth discussing.

   Yesterday I was at work talking with a co-worker when they mentioned that their dog had been skunked while taking his 5 am walk. I remarked how it must have been a process cleaning his four legged companion before coming to work (work does not start until 8 am….but the culture of the job sees a majority of the members arrive no later than 7:30 am). He replied that he had not yet cleaned his dog and that he had left the dog outside until his return home the next day.


   I mentioned an option of cleaning his dog and arriving at work by 7:30 am, a two and a half hour window to deal with the issue. He wasn’t hearing it…since he was in the habit of arriving at work at 6 and viewed arriving at 7:30 am as being “late.” But…what about the dog?

   See…he explained to me his history on the job and how he felt he had to present himself, and so ingrained was this passive indoctrination that he could not fathom any deviation from this routine, even for the most unique and extenuating circumstances. But…what about the dog?

   I thought maybe it was me. Perhaps I was not getting the wisdom of his decision, so I asked other co-workers, both dog owners and non-dog owners and all of them said they would have cleaned the dog prior to coming to work. Needless to say, this conversation expanded as word spread and the number of people inquiring with concern and disdain increased. I don’t know if any  impact was made on the conditioning of a man that thinks it reasonable to leave a dog skunked for twenty-four hours just to arrive at work two hours early…and drink coffee.

   As if that wasn’t bad enough, this same co-worker decided my assertion that my genetic makeup did not include Chinese was actually a debatable subject. Logically, I expected him to ask me how I knew such things, but instead he just kept asserting that I did not know…until I told him I’ve had DNA testing. You’d expect such a revelation to end the debate, but when you know it all, the only real end can be that you are right…even when you are wrong.

   Of course…such a humbling did not stop him from making another assertion later on at dinner that I had Italian sausage on my plate, even though I assured him it wasn’t and it’s a well know fact throughout my job that I don’t eat meat. 

“I know Italian sausage when I see it”

   Apparently not…as it is Lightlife Gimme Lean meatless veggie sausage (and tastes oh so good). Seriously though, you can’t make this stuff up and the twist is that he is an older man you would think is given to careful contemplation through wisdom…but age does to equal wisdom, and thinking you have the answers does not equal contemplation.

   Learning is a life-long process…and ignorance is ultimately willful.

Monday, November 30, 2015


   I am an ardent fan of the cinematic arts. Although I have certain genre preferences, I don’t let that stifle my curiosity and close myself to different flavors of entertainment. That said...I am a huge fan of science fiction, super hero and action movies! Please visit my other blog The Boxed Office for reviews, exclusively, on these types of movies.

The Cast: 

   Michael B. Jordan is making his way in Hollywood and not letting the “downs” in his career (Fantastic Four) define him. I was amazed at the dedication he showed to the role just by observing the phenomenal shape he was in, and his performance complimented the legacy of the “Rocky” films that have come before.
   There is not much I can say about Sly Stallone that has not already been said. Back again as Rocky Balboa, the role has become a part of him and it’s just wonderful to have grown up with all the films and witnessed the progression of the character.

The Plot: 

   Adonis Johnson is a fighter. Since he was a child he has been unable to alter the call of his genetics. Taken in by the wife of Apollo Creed, she raises him as if he were her own, fully knowing what his true origin is.
   Raised in affluence and looking at a big promotion at a great job, Adonis fights in secret in Mexico…making short work of everyone he faces. Deciding he has to answer the call of the urge that has been driving him all his life, he quits his job and decides to fight full time.
   With nobody willing to officially train him in Los Angeles, he moves to Philadelphia with a plan to be trained by one of the greatest fighters of all time, and one of his father’s closest friends, Rocky Balboa.
   Rocky runs a restaurant named after his deceased wife called “Adrian’s” and has absolutely no interest in training anyone, even the son of Apollo Creed…but Adonis is a fighter that doesn’t know the meaning of giving up and eventually he and Rocky decide to see what will happen when they both commit to each other.
   What follows is a story that is the perfect complement to the Rocky franchise that travels in the only reasonable direction left…and having learned all the lessons from the previous films, is an instant classic.

The Verdict:
   It’s easy to pinpoint what has made the Rocky franchise so great. When you have a great story and you tell it with passion and sprinkle it with hard-hitting action and comedy…greatness is just inevitable.
   Michael B. Jordan did a lot of research and invested a lot of time and effort into this role and it’s evident when you see the detail and passion he delivers in his performance. By the end of the film I was left with little doubt that he is Adonis CREED…a person with not just the desire and passion for fighting, but the heart of a warrior that refuses to be denied the war.

   I was always touched by a particular scene in "Rocky Balboa" wherein Rocky goes to the cemetery and sits in front of his wife’s headstone. The tug on the heart is real…and that magic continues in this film for both he and Adonis which is, for me, one of the knock-out qualities of this film as such moments drive home the realism of the content. This wasn't just a film about fighters fighting, but a film about people living.

  If you are a fan of great films…and always wanted to know who won the third fight between Rocky and Apollo, go see this film. I’m certain we will see Jordan (and Stallone) again (trilogy?) and I encourage everyone to treat themselves to a film that easily punched four, out of five, cinnamon sticks in my cup of tea

Rating 4 / 5

Saturday, November 28, 2015

A Strong Woman...?

   I can tell you now that this post is going to raise a lot of eyebrows and stimulate a lot of conversation. It may even garner outrage with some, but regular readers here know that provoking discussion is what this blog is all about, so prepare to be provoked.

   I was recently in a conversation with a friend when he mentioned that he was thinking about going back to giving women he was considering as potential partners, a test. Now…not one to leave opened doors open without at least peeking inside, I inquired about this test, and what followed was a profound exploration into what is, what makes, and what is being presented as a strong woman.
   First, let me clarify exactly what the test is (as some of you might want to take it…just because). The test is a simple question about a film. Who was at fault for the breakdown of the relationship in the movie “Love Jones?” We’ll get back to the test later (or not), for now…let’s take a trip down the rabbit hole this conversation created.
   The expressed opinion was that a strong woman in today’s society is viewed as one that is independent and self-sufficient and is in no way in “need” of a man. Further, that woman shares equality with men as reflected in equal treatment in all aspects of life. Many have just fully agreed with the previous statement, but probably have not given any thought to the plethora of such women that while, have no need of a man, also have no man. I’m sure there are some women reading this with the position that they don’t want a man, but has the strong woman philosophy contributed in creating this position? Is it really all the fault of men (keep this question in the back of your mind for further reference)?
   Let’s clear the air quickly about the fact that maintaining a household and raising children is one of the hardest jobs on the planet and this traditional role of women, even being done today by women under none-traditional circumstances, has proven they have a strength and resiliency that is truly divine. Anyone observing a woman doing this as a wife or single mother and not understanding they are observing a strong woman doesn’t understand the struggle. That said is there really a difference of applied strength between a single mother and a wife? One might say so considering that while a single mother has to provide as if there were a husband already doing so, a wife…a good wife, has to submit to her husband (uh-oh…here we go). While neither position is easy, if the husband is not doing right by his wife, submitting to him might be a lot harder than not having him around to deal with.
   Let’s talk about “submitting” though, cause I know there was a reaction when that word popped up. Here is what is does not mean in the relational sense.…it does not mean a woman is a slave to her husband. The only reference is was used in my conversation was from the biblical use and it simply means recognizing and accepting the role God has placed the husband and wife in. It is a voluntary act by the wife and as such, requires a tremendous amount of strength to do. That said, a woman should be very judicious with who she decides to partner with because all men are not ready for what is required of them (oh yes, there are two sides to this marriage thing)…while steadily dwelling on what is required of their wife.

   It has been said that the feminist movement killed chivalry. One could counter that regardless of circumstances, a man can still act thusly toward a woman. The counter to that being why would he even bother? If men and women share equal status, what is there left for a man to do for a woman and why? If equality was the goal, then why a different look at a man that suffers abuse by a woman? Why the disparity in the legal system for the same circumstances? There are a lot of rabbit holes we can explore when we really get into it, but I digress.

   The woman of today has many challenges facing her and I wonder if one of them is the the upholding of an image and ideology that might ultimately be contributing to a breakdown in family and relationships. So many questions…

Saturday, October 31, 2015

“Age of Adaline” 

    I am an ardent fan of the cinematic arts. Although I have certain genre preferences, I don’t let that stifle my curiosity and close myself to different flavors of entertainment. That said...I am a huge fan of science fiction, super hero and action movies! Even though this film falls within the sci-fi genre (even though it’s heavy on drama and romance), please visit my other blog The Boxed Office for reviews, exclusively, on these types of movies.

The Cast: 

   Blake Lively (Adaline Bowman) did very well playing a woman coping with her reality that she is immortal and all the wisdom and heartbreak that comes from living such a life. It would seem to me that there is a level of detachment a person would have living a life of mystery and caution, and Lively captured this very well.

   Michiel Huisman (Ellis) was a great supporting character and lived up to what women would deem a “perfect’ man (for those in his taste). The dynamic between him and Lively was well played and even had me caring about is feelings as he dealt with a person dealing with a unique circumstance nobody really ever has before.

   Harrison Ford (William) really needs no introduction or any accolades from me. He is a tremendous actor and the screen time he had in this film was used to enhance the story as he is a tremendous actor that never disappoints.

The Plot: 
   The story of Adeline Bowman is an interesting one, narrated from the very beginning, with mystery and intrigue. Born in the year 1900 on January 1st, she lived a great life, married and had a child, and was the epitome of a happy story up until her husband is killed in a tragic accident.

   Making matters worse, she suffers her own accident, soon after he husband, but instead of dying…she is besieged by unique circumstances that actually make her immortal (unbeknownst to her at first). As the years go by and she realizes she does not age, others also realize it and she is forced to live her life always looking over her shoulder and covering her tracks as she changes her location and identity every decade.

   Her lifestyle of cautious suspicion and careful plans is thrown into chaos when she meets a man that moves her heart and forces her to question the quality of a life not fully lived, even if it lasts forever. What follows is a wonderful story of love, risk, and wisdom with a few wonderful twists along the way.

The Verdict: 
   I really enjoy science-fiction films that are not so heavy on the science, but simply use it to tell an interesting and engaging story about people and how they cope with unusual circumstances while trying their best to live life no different than anyone else.

   Immortals are not new to the big screen so I really appreciate a film that tackles the subject with it’s own unique presentation where the focus is not so much on the immortal person being immortal, but the sacrifices they have to make to keep their love ones protected while giving up one of the greatest benefits to even being alive…love.

   Throughout the film I found myself feeling for Adeline as realized that her immortality was really a prison for her and the blessing of longevity isn’t really a blessing if you are forced to let the best parts of you die in order to live in peace. I loved how later in the film her elderly daughter brings this realization to Adeline while still maintaining the mother/daughter relationship evident between mothers and their young daughters.

   Harrison Ford’s role was also revealing as he very much conveyed the emotions of a man that was forever touched by the love of a special person, and the heartache that brought given that person was Adeline herself.

This film kept my attention throughout and needed no special effects or large explosions to engage me. The story was well written and the film was well acted and the incidental fact that it was indeed based on science-fiction just added a level of complexity to the way the characters coped with their own humanity. 

This film was certainly my cup of tea and spiced up my cup with and a half cinnamon sticks.

Rating 3.5 / 5

Thursday, October 29, 2015


   Have you ever made a promise to yourself, implemented a new life course, or made a positive behavioral change….only to later break that promise, go off course, and go back to the same negative behavior you were seeking to correct? Welcome to the backslide.

   If you’re thinking this is going to be one of those inspirational posts reinforcing positivity…you’re right. If you don’t need to be lifted up and all is well, I invite you to peruse my other posts for something that interests you. However, if you are falling victim to your own humanity and find that things have gone slightly awry from what you planned, stay with me on this….and hopefully we can get you back on track.

   We all struggle with…something. You name it, and someone somewhere is struggling with it. When I say struggle, I mean actively trying to make a change and finding that decision to be much tougher than the simple desire to want change. Life is constant change, but not all of it is good and not all of it is voluntary. That said, we should be especially motivated when we have the opportunity to take initiative and exercise some measure of control.

  Now…we can read all the self-help books, watch all the experts, read all the inspirational blogs, and still not experience success with that which we struggle. Of course the opposite can also be said as there are many people that benefit greatly from the aforementioned inspirational tools.

   The first step in this whole process is to recognize the need or desire to change, after which a commitment is made reflected in taking the appropriate actions that facilitate that change. The first step in correcting the backslide though is to recognize that the commitment is wavering as reflected in your inaction or counter-actions to facilitating the change that is needed or desired.

      If we were to put this in religious terms (and why not since religious belief is yet, another tool by which we change our lives)…simply put, admit you are a sinner.

   Too heavy for you? Think about these following examples: You want to control your drinking habits, but you have to first admit you have a drinking habit. You want to quit smoking, but you first have to acknowledge you are a smoker. Any addiction you have and want to break comes with the acknowledgment first that you have the addiction. Any habit you want to change comes with the acknowledgement you have the habit. Even if you wish to become a vegan, you must first acknowledge that you have dietary habits counter to that.

   Why am I harping on this aspect so much? Many people often fail to correct the backslide primarily because they refuse to admit they are backsliding to begin with.

   You have quit smoking….for several weeks, then have one cigarette. It’s just one, no big deal…you are still a non-smoker right? Wrong. Just one becomes just one this month, then just one this week, then just one today…and so forth until full reversion has taken place. The backslide need not result in full reversion of behavior if you can recognize the severity and urgency of that one smoke to begin with, and take action at that time to recommit fully to the change that you needed ( I say needed here because it is, without a doubt, disastrous to your health to smoke).

   I’m here to tell you that you can overcome any backslide you are experiencing right now. How you do it can be a bit tricky, but until you exhaust all available options, you cannot say your situation is insurmountable. The only time it becomes insurmountable is when you decide it is, and neglect to even try.

   Are you backsliding today? If so…tomorrow can absolutely be different.