Category Archives: Entertainment

Michael Jackson One Year Removed

Around this time last year, I started seeing some odd email alerts coming through saying Michael Jackson had been taken to a hospital, then was in a coma. Then suddenly that message came through that took my breath; Michael Jackson was no longer with us.

After that, we went through the strangest of spectacles, which makes a lot of sense because you just couldn’t take a personality that big, one that had been in our lives for so long, and expect it to go away quietly. We learned a lot of things, some very good, a couple shocking in a way but making sense once we thought about it. But what we really learned was just how much of an impact he was in this world.

And how big an impact was that? In the week after he was gone 8 of his albums were on the top charts, and two of them were in the top 5; one was the third best selling album for 2009, and four of them made the top 20 for the year. He was the biggest selling album artist of the year in the United States with more than 8 million albums sold; who knows how that translated around the world. His estate made over $1 billion in the last year; no one else comes close, including Elvis & the Beatles.

Oddly enough, for me it’s still hard to believe he’s not here because of the legacy of music he left behind. When I’m walking at the health club, I listen to a lot of upbeat music, and many of the songs are Michael Jackson songs. As I listen to each song, I remember where I was the first time I heard the song; how classic is that? Of course, all the songs from the Thriller album were heard around the same time, as I had the album before the video for Billie Jean came out; that’s just how it was back then.

Anyway, I decided I wanted to pop a video on here to commemorate the day, and of course I wanted something I hadn’t already posted before. This song and video is my wife’s favorite Michael Jackson non-live performance, so I felt it was appropriate. And the message is apropos as well, because I do, indeed, Remember The Time:

Michael Jackson Ultimate Collection (w/ Bonus DVD)

Price – $40.92








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The Roller Derby

I tend to be a creature of habit. I don’t try a lot of new things because, well, life has been fairly good. I certainly don’t eat exotic things, and I don’t often go to things that I’m not accustomed to.

So, how is it that I found myself going to the roller derby? Because my friend Scott wanted to go after reading about it on Twitter through one of my friends there, Mel. I’d actually never met Mel, but sat behind her at a Christmas party last year while she was working this long gray dress; hotness all around. Anyway, she’s the public face of roller derby in the area, and she’s got the face for it. She believes in it so much that she actually got this tattoo on her side within the last few weeks; nope, wouldn’t be me, but she gave us a public viewing, which we get to show here.

Of course, anyone over 45 remembers roller derby because it used to be on TV all the time. Some of us remember the movie Kansas City Bomber with Raquel Welch; stunning, I must say, and pretty believable. Back in the day, we thought roller derby was fake, and I guess one has to own up to the fact that there was always a bit of entertainment mixed in with what some claimed was a sport. Many of the participants were acting like bad people, which made you wonder just how real it was.

These days, it’s quite real, and very little like it was back then. For one, it’s more of a woman’s movement than a mixed gender thing like in the past. At the event I went to, there was a men’s game, but it was a pick up game of local guys who just wanted to try it out. Truthfully, they weren’t very good en masse, but there was one guy really good on one team, and it showed as his team beat the other team by almost 100 points. Once they were done it was time for the home team, the Utica Clubbers.

What’s the idea overall? I had Mel explain it to me, which worked wonders. By the way, I’m not as large as this picture might make you think I am; it’s all about perspectives (although, after seeing it, I did join a gym; that story will be later).

You have two teams, of course, and the bulk of the team is supposed to stop one person on the other team. They are known as blockers. Their purpose is to try to keep the individual person on the other team, the one who scores all the points, from passing them. That person is known as a jammer, and you can tell that person because she’s got a star on her helmet. Most of the time each team has two jammers so that one can replace the other for a breather. The final piece is known as the pivot; I learned about this position later on. This person is the one whose job it is to keep an eye on where the jammer is and to let everyone know the jammer is coming and where, so they can try to block the person. I’m not going to get into much more of how the game is played, but if you’re interested you can check out this roller derby game link.

This was an interesting event for me. The crowd reminded me of the type that would show up at an independent wrestling circuit. The picture you see of the guys in big blue hats is indicative of a lot of what I saw, although most people just sat in the stands. There was a women dressed like a purple bee. There was one in a sequin top, tight short skirt with a tail. There was one I was intrigued with because she reminded me of a fantasy nurse with bright blonde hair that was indicative of what you might have seen in the 40’s, very stylish. There was a guy wearing a monkey around his neck.

There were a lot of kids there. There were signs pulling for both the team and their favorite players. Even the referees had fans; that doesn’t happen in any other sport I know. The team in pink in these pictures actually came to Rome, NY, where the event was held, from New Hampshire; that was stunning to me. It’s not really a league, as they don’t keep statistics; it’s more of a universal club. This club has 6 teams in multiple states, and sometimes they go to other states to both play and watch others play.

My friend Scott, who took all the pictures you see here, talked me into it by saying we’d go to the casino afterwards; I’m so easy to bribe. But I had a wonderful time, and met another Twitter friend I’d never met, Meghan, and one I did know, Frank; I’m giving their real names rather than their Twitter names, as that’ll be on them if they read this. I also met this guy who played in the men’s game named Jason, whom I saw a video of in the production Rocky Horror, as he played the main character and was very good in it. And after the initial band that was playing when we got in there, which was hurting both my ears and my feelings (angry rock/punk music; Mel said it was too loud also, as I was feeling like an old guy), this guy named Deaf Geoff, the DJ, was playing some music that was fantastic, and then I learned he’s actually legally deaf; think about that folks!

Of course Scott didn’t get all the shots I wanted, but I think there’s enough here overall to show some of what it was all about. Turns out Mel wasn’t skating that night in a match, but she was a referee for the guy’s game, which is why she’s in the outfit she’s in. We stayed for the first half, when the local team was ahead; they lost later, but I guess it’s not about winning or losing, just having fun and women showing that they’re not shrinking violets for anyone.

Hey, they had nachos, and I got to play poker later, though I was card dead so poker wasn’t as much fun as normal. Still, it all works for me; I may even go again some day.

Might, that is. πŸ˜‰
 

Tribute To The Horne

Lena Horne passed away Sunday night at age 92. That was one woman that most of us thought would never age at all. Even in her early 70’s she was stunning, and you wouldn’t have believe she was a day over 35 or 40.

That woman could sing. I don’t know anyone who ever heard Lena Horne who didn’t think she could sing. She was super good looking also; absolutely fabulous woman. Could she act? Well, that’s questionable, but she never really got a chance to do it.

She was classy and had pride. She refused to allow anyone to identify her as anything other than being black, and that was a big deal back in the day. Many early black baseball players used to be identified as Latino so they wouldn’t have to deal with as much racism as if they were straight up black. Lena Horne wasn’t having it, so it ended up limiting the movies she was in. Early civil rights activism killed many a career; she didn’t care, and that was another diamond in her favor.

This is a mini-tribute to the “Horne”, as she was sometimes known. I hope you enjoy these videos, which I also hope showcases just how talented she was.


Stormy Weather


You’d Better Love Me


If You Believe

The Incomparable Lena Horne

Price – $6.99








My Top 10 Fictional Characters

This post I get to blame on my internet friend Mike CJ, who wrote a post called Why You Should Use Fictional Characters As Your Role Models. Some folks know that I patterned my life after some of the values of certain characters, while others I just like for whatever reason.

Snoopy on his doghouse

Anyway, since y’all know how I feel about commenting on Disqus blogs, and the fact that I’ve now been inspired to write a longer post based on what Mike came up with, here are my top 10 fictional characters, in order of favoritism; let’s see you try that one Mike! And folks, no images; not in the mood to deal with copyright issues and the like. Doesn’t mean I won’t have product links, though. πŸ™‚

10. Harry Potter – Some people consider this a kid’s story, but how many of you would be ready to step up to the plate if you were told that you and the most evil and dangerous person in known history couldn’t live together on the same planet, and one of you had to die. Take that information and put it into a 16 year old’s mind and you have the makings of either the most scared kid you’ve ever met or the bravest kid you’ve ever heard of. That Harry Potter chose to be helpful and kind while having his life attacked many times a year since he turned 10 and still persevered is enough to admire, and a lesson to us all that being good or evil is a choice, not a destiny.

9. Foghorn Leghorn – The “Big Chicken”, as he’s normally called by most people, was my dad’s favorite Warner Brother’s character, and became one of mine as well. Truthfully, he has no redeeming value; he’s just funny as sin. If I told you what my college roommate and I used to do on a consistent basis based on something he always did, you’d think we should have been institutionalized.

8. Captain Kirk – Being one of the few, apparently, who actually enjoyed the Enterprise series, one of the things lacking in the main character, who I still liked, was that he wasn’t enough like Captain Kirk. He had all the attributes of a gunslinger and the brains to know that he couldn’t just shoot first and ask questions later. My man crush was sealed when, in the second movie, he proclaimed “I don’t believe in the no-win scenario.” I always believe that we all have the ability to achieve more and better things, no matter what our current circumstances are, and I got it from Captain Kirk.

7. Superman – I don’t know what Superman means to anyone today, but back in the day, who didn’t want to be Superman? He had everything you could ask for; invincibility, x-ray vision, could see through walls, fly in outer space, fly in the first place, super hearing, on and on and on. He could exhibit every superpower that every other superhero had except invisibility. And with all that power, he decided to live for “truth, justice, and the American way.” Okay, it was a nice dream, but it teaches us all that with great power comes great responsibility, as well as the fact that all sorts of folks will come after you if you happen to be top dog.

6. Snoopy – Speaking of top dogs, who in their right mind doesn’t love Snoopy? Today’s kids might be missing out, but Snoopy was the first Renaissance dog. He was a writer, pilot, tennis pro, hit 714 home runs the day after Hank Aaron broke the record, he can do animal impressions, do both disco and ballroom dancing, brought us Joe Cool, is a star hockey player, and sleeps outside the box, so to speak. He’s a man’s dog, independent and savvy, and I have a Snoopy doll, a Snoopy on my key chain, and a key with a Snoopy cartoon on it; always brings me peace. Snoopy proves if you dare to dream, you never know what you can become.

5. Bugs Bunny – The number one Warner Brothers character of all time, more cartoons than any other character in history; that’s saying something. He even has a star on the Walk of Fame. My thing about Bugs Bunny is that he wasn’t the biggest most of the time, but he’d take a whipping and come back for more, eventually overcoming every obstacle thrown at him. Had a lot of talent as well. I learned from Bugs Bunny that you don’t back down to bullies or any other problems in life; you come back stronger and persistently until you persevere.

4.
“[Luke:] I can’t believe it.
[Yoda:] That is why you fail.”

“Fear is the path to the dark side. Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering.”

“No! Try not. Do, or do not. There is no try.”

Yoda has wisdom and power and he’s less than 3 feet tall; there are no obstacles that can’t be overcome if you trust in your own self.

3. Kermit the Frog – Even though he’s a frog, Kermit is “every man” and “every woman”. In other words, he’s a frog with a dream and a belief in that dream, and no matter what he’s going to go out there and get it, no matter what form it takes. He’s been a news reporter, a dancer, a singer, an author, and a TV show emcee. He’s traveled the world basically just being himself. And he’s the muppet that every other muppet wants to be and wants to follow. Once again, a lot of power with a lot of responsibility, yet he always does the right thing.

2. Captain Picard – It took me probably half the first season of Next Generation to fully start appreciating Captain Picard, but once I did he was the guy I wanted to see prominent in every show. In an odd way he was the anti-Kirk; not as tall or as good looking, certainly not as athletic or brash. But he was dignified and a thinker, and not afraid to get into it when necessary. He was older than Kirk was, which meant he sent the younger first officer into the fray most of the time. But the truth is that true leadership doesn’t always have to be in the forefront. True leadership helps others attain the highest level in doing what it is they have to do for the team, and sends them out knowing that they’re going to ultimately do their best. He was the closest human to ever think like a Vulcan, as he was told many times; that was a pretty nice compliment in my book.

1. Mr Spock – My favorite character of all time, the man I owe for helping me get through the last 2 1/2 years of college. I used to have a quick temper, and I think that was the one feature that kept people from getting close to me. One day I came across this thought about logic, said my anger was illogical because it wasn’t aimed at anything except my own mind, and changed in an instant, based on my beliefs about Mr. Spock. Thing is, he wasn’t perfect, and I certainly wasn’t going to be, but I was a drastically better person, and I think the loyalty of many long time friends proved I became something much better than I was. As I’m working my way through the book The Ethics of Star Trek, I’m reminded again just how much the character of Mr. Spock has meant to my life.

Okay, I’m done, and I had fun. What are your comments, and who are your favorites, and why? And let’s thank Mike for the idea. 

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How To Train Your Dragon – My Review

You know, sometimes I feel like I just know how to call a movie that’s not only going to be good, but is also going to be popular. Such is the case with the new movie How To Train Your Dragon.

dragon_L1500_

Okay, so I’m a big kid at heart; I loved this movie! It’s the story about a kid whose father is the leader of Vikings, and they lead a fairly idyllic life in relative cold and their only problem is that they have to deal with dragons on an almost daily basis. The main character is named Hiccup, mainly because he’s a super klutz with no real skills and always seems to be messing things up at the wrong time, such as when the Vikings are battling dragons.

Along the way he finds a way to interact with a special dragon known as a night fury, which he names Toothless (but it has teeth) because they’re almost invisible at night, due to being black, and he discovers some things that aren’t know about the dragons and why they’re always attacking the Vikings and stealing their stuff. That’s about all I’m going to give you as far as what the movie is about; if I were writing this three weeks later, I’d say a lot more.

I have to say that they got the main character absolutely correct, as well as his voice. I don’t know this actor, Jay Baruchel, but they couldn’t have gotten anyone else who could have done that part. Gerard Butler, who’s also in the new movie with Jennifer Aniston, portrays the Viking leader, and I have to say I wouldn’t have been able to come up with it being him, nor America Ferrara as the lead female character.

You know, I really can’t think of all that much more to say about it without giving anything away except to say that it’s not just a kid’s movie, which means I believe adults will get a lot of joy out of it. I didn’t see the 3-D version this time around, and truthfully, I think you could get away without seeing it in that version. I loved the bright colors, and I’m not sure how much fun you get when you’re seeing 3-D when the background is darker, which it is in many scenes in this movie. This was a lot of fun; I almost want to go see it again. πŸ™‚ Here’s one of the trailers:


http://youtu.be/oKiYuIsPxYk

 

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