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Thus Spoke Zarathustra” — book review
Today’s review is for the book: “Thus Spoke Zarathustra: A Book for Everyone and for No One” (1883-1885), written by: Friedrich Nietzsche (this version (2012 ©) is a translation to English by: Thomas Common and was originally published in 1909).  Nietzsche was a trained “philogist”.  Basically, he studied classic languages (Greek and Latin) and in particular their literature.  Nietzsche became a philosopher and is considered one of the “great” philosophers of the 19th century.  He considered this work to be his greatest achievement.  The book was written in four main pieces and published over several years.
The main character (Zarathustra) is based on a semi-mythological Indo-Iranian religious figure named Zoroaster, who started his own religion and which “may have” influenced some current day including Islam and the Bahá’í Faith.  Anyway, in the story, Zarathustra is a hermit who lives in a cave for some period of years and then goes down from his mountain home to visit and teach the natives.
The book appears to be both a work of philosophy and a story book. Kind of like the Bible (allegory and parables), but with philosophy overlaid where “god” would normally appear.  As near as I can tell, the main gist of the work is that the traditional “god” is dead and that mankind is merely a bridge between the animals and a future superior species (Übermensch) which I believe translates to “over-man”, but which generally translated as “superman”.  We regular humans will recognize these coming supermen by their differing (self-created and self-benefiting) “values” which Nietzsche calls their “will to power”.
What did I think? BORING!!  A few good bits, but mostly just boring.
I think I may be too hard on the work because Nietzsche was a poet / philogist / and philosopher.  I am none of those and therefore am certainly not qualified to provide an in-depth analysis / critique of the ideas or how they are expressed.  My reaction is to the mixed styles of writing, the verbose language, the poorly explained (mostly unexplained) allegories / metaphors.  So, “God” is a creation of primitive man.  Man is no longer primitive, and so, no longer needs the “God” we created.  Man, in raising himself above the baser creatures should shrug off the superstition and create himself in the image of a new and superior man without the values imposed by prior civilization.  We should create our own value system and impose it on lesser men who will want to retain their older values.
Or, as near as I can tell: “Thus spoke Zarathustra”…
Seriously, this work is considered one of the classics of Western (European) philosophy and it was on my “bucket-list” of books to read to consider myself “educated”.  Am I now better educated?  NO.  Wider read, but not better educated.
Final recommendation: weak to moderate recommendation.  I read this in chunks of 10 to 20 pages at a time over the course of almost a month.  Perhaps I should have ploughed through it more quickly and decisively…  Perhaps I should read a different version – maybe something with more annotations.  Maybe it’s far better in the original German…  I don’t know.  I do know I’m not going to learn German just to try to get more out of this work.  Anyway, if it’s on your personal bucket list, read this translation as I’m informed it is one of the “better” ones.  If it’s not on your list, I think you’ll get more out of reading about this book, the author and Zoroaster on Wikipedia.  In fairness, there were some interesting bits and some flowery prose. I just don’t know if they (the good bits) were from the original or from the translation / translator.  I already have multiple Nietzsche quotes on my blog and I’m sure I add some from this book…  Perhaps they will pique my readers’ interests and you’ll find a copy to read.  Hopefully, you’ll gain more insight than I have.
Midnight has passed and there is no new day.  Thus passed Zarathustra…
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On This Day In:
2019 Enjoy!
2018 Happy Birthday, Bro!
2017 Love Can Change The World In A Minute
2016 60, Little Bro!
2015 Vision and Courage
2014 58 – Little Bro
2013 New Adventures And Old Hopes
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2012 Bits And Bobs And Birthdays
Always Hope
2011 Wet Snow And Long Hills

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The Science of Yoga”  —  book review
Today’s book review is for “The Science of Yoga” (2012©), written by William J. Broad.  Broad is a science reporter for the New York Times newspaper.  He has received multiple awards in his career including two Pulitzer Prizes for his reporting.  Broad is also a yoga practitioner for over three decades.  Broad’s basic job is explaining science to the masses.  As such, he writes in a “friendly” style without any actual references to formulas or analysis of data.  When he uses “hard” numbers at all, it’s of the “two studies” with “about half” or “mostly women / men” variety.  This is not a criticism, per se, as this is pretty much the deepest level of science / math one can reasonably expect in a “science” report for the masses.
I am not a “serious” or even moderately proficient yoga practitioner.  I have had an interest in yoga since my early teens and have gone through the normal flexibility phases most athletes and wanna-be athletes go through every decade or so of my life.  I have also been interested in yoga for breathing and meditation and, so, also had (brief) periods where I “practiced” yoga for those purposes.  My point being, I am neither a devotee nor a complete novice in my understanding of yoga.  I picked up the book at a steep discount purely by serendipity when my local “Half Price” bookstore closed to relocate.  I paid $10 for a bag you could load with as much as it could hold.  I managed to get over 30 books – which I considered to be exceptional value.  This book was one of those.
Anyway, the book is broken down as you would expect for an academic report rather than popular reporting.  There’s a prologue, seven chapters, and an epilogue.  There are also a number (4) of introductory sections (lists of illustrations, main characters, styles of yoga and chronology of yoga) and a similar (5) number of end sections (further reading, notes, bibliography, acknowledgements and index).  The chapters deal with health, fitness, moods, healing, sex and “muse” (stimulating creativity).  Not counting the before and after, the book (my hardbound copy) is 222 pages in length and it is a quick read.
The book is sub-titled: “The Risks and the Rewards“.  The “risks” are that you can hurt yourself if you don’t know what you are doing, go to an instructor who doesn’t know what they’re doing, and / or if you push yourself too hard – too fast.  So far, that’s all pretty much common sense…  By hurt yourself, the author means, have a stroke or a serious muscle / tendon tear, etc.  The rewards are “perhaps” a longer life span, a extended period of healthier life, increased flexibility / mobility, relief from depression, less stress, faster healing, better (longer and more) sex, and you may also end up being more creative in work and in your personal life.
Is Broad convincing?  No.  Not really.  There have been some studies done on yoga.  Are they scientific?  Some.  And, kind of.  Better than nothing and better than purely anecdotal.  Broad ends the book asking which direction is likely for yoga: will it be religious and mysterious, or will it be examined under scientific conditions and thereby aid in the general health and welfare of society.  He clearly favors the second option.
Final recommendation: strong.  If you are interested in the history of yoga and “some” of the risks and rewards, this book is a FAR better introduction than most of the “Illustrated” and “For Dummies” books you’ll find at your bookstore.  It will help you manage your expectations of what you may get out of yoga practice.  It is, however, not a “starter” book at all as there are very few illustrations or explanations of postures / poses.  If that is what you are looking for, this book is definitely NOT for you.  Having said all that, I really did enjoy reading this book.  The topic (yoga) is of interest to me and it was interesting to have someone else to the work of researching the history, styles and players in the field.  It was also interesting to find yoga described with common sense supported by a lack of contradictory evidence, i.e. no levitation, no stopping your heart and still living, no surviving indefinitely without food or water (or breathing).  There is a saying that absence of evidence is not evidence of absence.  This is a refrain which struck me over and over as I read this book.  Broad doesn’t flat out say none of the yoga “miracles” are impossible; he just states that on review of the available literature, there is no proof.  At the edges of yoga accomplishments, that is the science of yoga.
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On This Day In:
2019 #LyingDonald’s Problem With The News And Truth
2018 Oh, Hell
2017 No Welcome Mat Here
2016 Making It Up
A Missed Beat
2015 We Are All Explorers
2014 Still Trying To Cope
2013 Dear Diary (A good chuckle!)
2012 Conveniently Sequential
2011 King’s Speech Number Four
Rational Probability

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That’s the Way of the World”  —  movie review
Today’s review is for the 1975 movie “That’s the Way of the World” starring Harvey Keitel as record producer Coleman Buckmaster (the man with “the Golden Ear”) and featuring “the Group” aka R&B / soul group Earth, Wind & Fire.  The movie also has some “F” list actors: Cynthia Bostick (the “sexy” female role), Jimmy Boyd (the drug addict “brother” role), Bert Parks (the pervert “father” role) — the three are a “family” singing group calling themselves “The Pages”, and, Ed Nelson (as a mob-influenced record label executive).
I don’t think the movie was intended to be what it turned into:  a vehicle for introducing the music of EW&F to a broader audience.  In real life, the band saw an early cut of the movie and felt it would be a box-office bomb and so rushed to get the soundtrack out before the movie hit the theaters.  They did get the album out early and it did become a much bigger success than the movie.  Basically, the movie is about a good band (with talent) struggling while a bad group (with little talent) gets a push from the mob and the heroic producer has to save the day.
I saw this movie on its original release back in ’75 while I was in the military and I enjoyed both Keitel’s portrayal and the (spoiler alert) twist at the end of the movie.  The movie is very symptomatic of the mid-1970’s with references to drugs and sex with a fair amount (a full scene) of discussion about the latter (child molestation / abuse) and some pretty open use of the former (booze, weed, cocaine and heroin).  I guess as a reflection of my naivety, I have no recollection of any of this and the topics surprised me in this viewing.  My only recollections were EW&F, the acting of Keitel and the twist ending (which I only vaguely remembered).
Final recommendation: moderate recommendation.  The movie is about 100 minutes, so it’s not like you’re giving up a tremendous amount of time to see a snap-shot of the 1970’s with all of the stereotypical tropes / clichés from that era:  roller-rinks, cars (a Pinto sighting), billboards, bell-bottom pants and “Super-fly” shirt collars.  I stumbled upon the movie on Tuby TV as a “free” movie with limited commercial interruptions.  I don’t know if any sex scene was deleted from the movie, but the actors mouth swear words which are simply deleted with noticeable silences.  It has a “PG” rating.
Just a few more comments:
1) Harvey Keitel – this movie marked Keitel for me as a star to look out for before I really started looking out for stars.  I don’t know if this role was Keitel’s first big movie lead, but it’s the first I remember.  (The only other actor I’ve had the same reaction to was Robert Duvall a few years later in “The Great Santini“.)  I haven’t seen very many of Keitel’s roles, but, with one notable exception, his appearance in a movie meant it was going to be worth the price of admittance.  The exception was the DVD / movie “Star Knight” which I picked up on the strength of Keitel’s name on the cover of the DVD.  It is the ONLY movie I have ever thrown away immediately after viewing so I would never again be tempted to waste time re-watching it.  (Full disclosure: I pulled it out of my waste bin and put it on the very back of my film shelf and have never re-watched it.  I did this to serve as a reminder that even good / great actors can take bad parts in bad – really bad – movies.)  And,
2) Watching the movie today, I was reminded that seeing a live act is (normally) nowhere near as good as hearing a great album.  I used to go to concerts periodically when I was younger, but it wasn’t until fairly recently (the last 15 years or so) that I realized the concert was the experience you enjoyed or you didn’t.  It wasn’t the music.  Even when a concert has great music, it is almost never as good as the music on an album.  As a cost-benefit analyst type, I’d much rather spend $15 on an album or CD to listen to it 100 times than $50 on a concert for the one time memory.  But that’s just me…
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On This Day In:
2019 Carrying Humanity
2018 Not Necessarily In This Order
Stock Market Sets More Records Under #DumbDonald
2017 An Accumulation Of Acts
2016 Here’s Lookin’ At You Kid
2015 How To Be Omnipotent
2014 The Promise Of Future Love
2013 Christian, n.
2012 Praise
Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood
2011 A Few More Lyrics From The Past
5 For The Price Of 1

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Circles” (2000©)  —  book review
Today’s book review is for one of the many books written by James Burke, who’s claim to fame is his ability to popularize science / technology with history and biography to “create” linkages which make the world (and history) appear to be interconnected.  I believe his most well known work is the book and the BBC series “Connections“.  At least this is how I first came to know Burke (and enjoy his work).
Circles” is sub-titled “50 Round Trips through History, Technology, Science, Culture“.  The book is a collection of essays which have been gathered into this form.  Each “essay” / “trip” is about four pages and they are each fairly self-contained, so there is no inherent requirement to read them in order – or all of them for that matter.  Each starts with some action in his life: a trip to the library, beach, coffee shop, etc; winds through the “circle” of people / history / discovery he is hi-lighting and then gets wrapped up with another reference to the initial action / place.
The stories are mildly interesting.  The links are tenuous.  The author occasionally breaks the fourth wall.  But, most frequently, the author writes in a peculiar conversational form which struck me as not using full sentences or proper sentence structure.  I found it hard to discern if this was more conversational, breaking of the fourth wall or simply lazy writing.  In the end, I just found it frustrating to try to figure out the subject of a sentence by having to re-read sentences (or paragraphs).
Final recommendation: poor to moderate recommendation.  I admit to being pretty disappointed.  I was a big fan of his “Connections” series and watched it on my local Public Broadcasting Station (PBS) many years ago.  I think I also read the book (way back when), but I can’t swear to it.  I was, therefore, looking forward to more of the same.  This book mostly was “just” the same, but (surprisingly) much less interesting or amusing.  Now I think I have to go back and find the original book (“Connections“) to see if the author has changed or if it’s the reader (me) who has changed.
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On This Day In:
2019 Eureka!
2018 Learning About My Humanity
2017 Laugh Or Shake Your Head
2016 The Expected Cure
2015 Of Two Minds
2014 Pride And Remembrance
2013 Repeating Bad Memories
2012 No Sooner
2011 Just Cheesy!
Are You Illin’?

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The Mask Of Command — book review
Today’s book review is for “The Mask Of Command” (1987©), written by John Keegan.  Sir John Desmond Patrick Keegan OBE (Order of the British Empire) and FRSL (Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature) was an English military historian, lecturer (at Sandhurst – the English equivalent of West Point) and writer.  Keegan is considered (in my opinion) one of the “modern” expert military historians. I understand his basic premise to be that conflict in general and war in specific is cultural and not necessarily an extension of political governance.  This is in contrast with Clausewitz who stated that war is politics by other means.  Keegan is criticized for “disagreement” with Clausewitz.
As a secondary aside, I started reading about military theory (“strategy”) back in my early 20’s when I began reading about generals (mostly Patton) and the works of B. H. Liddell Hart were recommended to me by a roommate.  I read Liddell Hart’s book: “Strategy: The Indirect Approach“, which I must say greatly influenced my life by profoundly changing my view of the world.  My hope was to learn about leadership by studying the great generals.  Instead, what I found was that leadership is not the same thing as strategy and is, instead, founded on the person and the time in history the person lives, whereas strategy tends to be principled and more timeless.
This realization pretty much ties into the basis for this book, which is a study of four “great” commanders / leaders and looks at what made three succeed and one (ultimately) fail terribly.  The three successful commanders are: Alexander the Great, Wellington, and U.S. Grant.  The failure is: Hitler.
Keegan’s proposal in this book is based on “heroic” aspects (“title”) of military leadership: heroic, anti-heroic, non-heroic, and fake heroic.  To do this, Keegan establishes the cultural climate of each commander and then tries to explain it’s (the culture’s) effect on the military leader via their proximity to combat and personal exposure to danger.  Essentially, for most of man’s history, muscle and physical courage were the requirement of military leadership.  As the age of gunpowder emerged, the risk to the commander increased and they were forced to withdrawal from danger and thus “military” leadership changed.  Alexander had to fight hand-to-hand to prove his courage while leading from the front; Wellington could stay within sight of his forces, but had to stay a minimal distance from accurate musket range; Grant could not frequently approach the front lines; and, Hitler never exposed himself to physical danger (with the exception of possible assassination) and used propaganda to convince his forces that he was a soldier battling at their side.
The book has five main chapters (one for each leader / type) and the last is about leadership in the age of nuclear weapons.  I found this the most fascinating (timely?) chapter of the book as it proposes a “new” type of post-heroic military / political leader and attempts to posit President Kennedy as this “ideal” leader.
While I found the book to be an interesting (sometimes fascinating) read, it was not an easy read.  Keegan loves his erudite words and his complicated phrasing of sentences.  The punctuation is “British” (I guess), and I found many times I had to go back and re-read a sentence or paragraph to figure out what the heck he was talking about.  Frequently, his sentences appeared to be declarative, but were, in fact, interrogatory (questions), or vice-versa, and you (“I”) couldn’t tell until you (“I”) hit the question mark or period at the end of the sentence.  Occasionally, even though I was aware of this writing style, Keegan still caught me off guard and I had to go back and try to figure out what he was on about.  Which means I knew it was happening, and anticipating it, but continued to find it distracting.
Other than this (quibble), I found the book to be quite enjoyable.  Keegan has a keen method of describing battles and you can sometimes feel yourself seeing the carnage and tasting the spent gunpowder in the air.  At less than 400 pages, it seems also to be a quick read, but I suggest not rushing head-long through it in one or two sittings as the book is widely considered to be a classic and deserves a bit of contemplation as well as enjoyment.
Final recommendation: highly recommended! This book is a classic for a reason…  The battlefield descriptions are superb and Keegan’s argument is well presented – even if not wholly convincing (to me, anyway).  Still, regardless if you are new to military history or a veteran of any military genre, I think you’ll enjoy this book.  There will, of course, be a few quotes from this book appearing on my blog in the coming weeks / months.
Two final thoughts: 1) I was not (am not) convinced President Kennedy is THE model for the post-heroic commander.  I found Keegan’s reporting on / analysis of the Cuban Missile Crisis a bit simplistic.  And, 2) even if I had read this book on first printing, I doubt it would have influenced my world-view the way Liddell Hart’s book did.  Both are classics for any military reader, just different.  Just sayin’…
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On This Day In:
2019 #ContinueToResist
Except Willful Ignorance And Prideful Stupidity
2018 More Executive Time For #DumbDonald
2017 Watched The Inauguration
Two Geniuses
2016 Come Dance And Laugh With Me
2015 Looks Good To Me
2014 Desire For The Sea
2013 The Fierce Urgency Of NOW
Happy Inauguration Day!
2012 One Path
Sorrow And Joy
The Seven Year View
2011 Emergent Practicality

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3:16 Bible Texts Illuminated”  —  book review
Today’s review is for “3:16 Bible Texts Illuminated” (1991©) written by Donald E. Knuth.  Back in 2011, I read another book by Knuth, titled: “Things A Computer Scientist Rarely Talks About“. (Review here.)  That book, was a discussion about the author’s faith and his prior book, which is being reviewed in this post.  When I retired (in 2017), I was presented with an Amazon gift voucher, which I promised to “waste” on books, music or technology.  In this case, part of it was used to buy this book (along with a number of other Knuth books).
To save everyone the time of reading my earlier review, basically, Knuth wanted to know if one can learn anything unique or unusual about the Bible by doing a stratified (but random) sampling / review of a particular Bible verse.  In theory, if you have a sufficiently large sample to draw from, you can gain “some” knowledge about any topic by analyzing a random sample of the topic’s data.
Because Knuth was not sure this type of investigation would work for literature, Knuth chose a verse he knew would have at least one interesting data point: “Chapter 3 Verse 16”.  The chapter and verse he was confident about was John Chapter 3: Verse 16 – “Yes, God loved the world so much that he gave his only child, so that all people with faith in him can escape destruction, and live forever.
The first problem Knuth encounters is that not all of the books of the Bible have 13 verses in their chapter 3.  To get around this, he simply carried the sample forward the same number (count) of verses and take up wherever that left him.  There were, however, a number of books which were simply to short to use even this method.  In those instances, he simply chooses to drop the book. Knuth ends up with a sampling size of 59 verses.
The second issue was Knuth found scholars did not always (rarely, in fact) agree on what exactly was meant by the writings in the various Bible sources.  Not only were the scholars interpretations differing, so were the texts across the various Bible versions.  There was (is) even disagreement on if some source material is valid and / or should be included in the Bible.
In order to determine why this was happening, Knuth determined to read the Bibles in their original Hebrew / Aramaic and Greek / Latin.  He could then present his own translations as he felt they should be interpreted.  In addition, he felt he needed to translate the verses immediately before and after the target verse to ensure he was accurately relating context as well as the literal meaning.
The method of describing each of the 59 verses itself is interesting.  Each verse is covered in four pages.  Page one provides overall historic, geographic and character background information.  The second page is devoted to a calligraphic representation of the verse.  The final two pages are a word by word breakdown of the verse.  In order to do this in a manner which makes sense, Knuth sometimes adds an analysis of the preceding or following verse(s).  Just a word on the calligraphy.  Knuth approached a friend who happened to be a world renowned typeface designer to assist with the book cover illustration.  The friend (Hermann Zapf), in turn commissioned calligraphers from over 20 countries to provide the “illustration” pages.  This calligraphy, in turn, became part of a formal exhibit which I believe is currently “owned” by the San Francisco Library.  I don’t know if it (the entire exhibit) is ever shown publicly.  I know it was back in 2011, but I was not able to go view it back then.  My loss, I am sure.
So, is this book interesting?  Is it entertaining?  Is it enlightening?  Yes.  Yes, and Yes!  I am a life-long Roman Catholic, but I have never read the Bible through cover to cover.  I tried to a few years back, but had limited knowledge of the names and places and found it rather boring.  I attempted to co-read Isaac Asimov’s “Guide To The Bible“, but even this was of limited value.  I now think I just gave up too soon.  Mea culpa.
Almost every chapter of this book explained something I didn’t know or fully appreciate about the book being covered in that chapter.  Some were simple “interesting”.  Some were “that never occurred to me”.  And, some (a few) were “Wow! I’ve got to go back and read that!”  Anytime I read a book which prompts me to read more or more in-depth, I am grateful to the author.  (I’m still not sure if I’m weird that way…)  In any case, I’m now more determined than ever to read more of Knuth’s books.
In this case: final recommendation – very highly recommended!!  Even if you are not a Biblical scholar or particularly religious, this book will provide insight into one of the greatest books in all of literature.  At less than 270 pages, this is a fast read and the calligraphy is truly beautiful.  Two final notes: 1) in the afterward, Knuth wonders if his selection of “3:16” was not “influenced” and therefor not entirely random.  His conclusion was, with further analysis, it may have been, but was not intentional.  He adds, however, that he enjoyed the process so much he intends to use the methodology for further future study of other verses.  And, 2) I’ve seen in various places this book was copyright in 1990.  My version says 1991 and that’s the year I’m using above.
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On This Day In:
2018 Happy 34th Anniversary, Hil!!
2017 Happy 33rd Anniversary, Hil!!
2016 Happy 32nd Anniversary, Hil!!
2015 Happy Anniversary Hil!!
2014 30th Wedding Anniversary
2013 Number 29 (And Counting)
2012 Hammer ‘N Roses
Happy Anniversary
2011 I Can Hear It Now

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Today’s reviews are for the book: “The Dark Tower: The Gunslinger” (1982©), written by Stephen King and the movie: “The Dark Tower” (2017), which is based on the book.
The Dark Tower” (2017) — movie review
This movie is based on the book by the same name.  Okay, it’s not exactly the same name.  The book is the first of a series (8 books in total) nominally called: “The Dark Tower Series“, all written by horror writer Stephen King.  The movie, like the books, is a blending of science fiction / magic, American western lore / Arthurian legend, and dystopian future, with a bit of existential / quasi-religious philosophy thrown in for seasoning.
The movie stars Idris Elba as the titular “Gunslinger” (hero) named Roland Deschain, Matthew McConaughey as Walter Padick (aka “the Man In Black”) (bad guy) and Tom Taylor as Jake Chambers (the boy who must be saved by the Gunslinger).
Basically, we have a multi-universe tied together by a “Dark Tower” which separates all of the universes from the dark evils which would destroy / enslave them all if the tower should fall (ever be destroyed).  Somehow children have the ability to destroy the tower and the Man in Black sends his minions to kidnap them to be used to to this.  The “Gunslingers” are the defenders of the Tower.  At the start of the movie, they lose a major battle with the forces of darkness and Elba / Deschain is the sole survivor.  Disheartened, he seeks only to kill the Man in Black to avenge the death of his father (not to protect the Tower).
Blah, blah, blah, magic, gunfights and chase scenes ensue until we get to the main / concluding battle.  Three guesses who wins…  Three guesses who gets to be the sidekick and next “Gunslinger”…
So, is the movie any good?  How’s the acting and the special effects?  How closely does the movie match the book?  Well,…  The movie is okay.  It’s entertaining for a minor action / SciFi movie.   It’s definitely NOT great cinema.  The acting is fair to okay.  The special effects are a little better than “just” okay, but nothing ground-breaking and nothing we haven’t seen a dozen times (at least).  Not having read the entire series, I can’t say how closely the movie is to the series.  To the first book – not very closely at all.  Well, both have the two main characters, so there is that.  The boy is completely different in the movie.
Final recommendation: moderate. To be honest, I’m not a big fan or either Elba or McConaughey. I haven’t seen Elba in a lot of roles, so maybe I’m just not “there” yet. I’ve seen McConaughey in lots of different roles and I’m hard pressed to name one role where I got up saying, “That role makes him a star.”  He’s okay.  Even good, sometimes…  But I feel like he’s getting older and I’ve not seen a DiCaprio / “Inception” role / performance.  Again, maybe I’ve just missed it (the performance).
The Dark Tower: The Gunslinger” (1982©) — book review
As mentioned above, “TDT:TG” was written by Stephen King.  The book is actually a compilation of short stories which have been turned into a book.  I guess, more accurately, a series of books.  I haven’t read any of the other books, so I don’t know if they are also compilations or if they are actual true-form novels.
As mentioned above, the book is a western / feudal / dystopian story about a group of “knights” called “gunslingers” who are supposed to defend a Tower.  This first book, jumps around introducing the main character Roland Deschain who grows up as a knight-in-training and then sets about trying to find and kill a mysterious “Man-In-Black”.  The Man-In-Black has multiple names.  I just remembered him as “Walter” (which is used in this book).  Roland does a lot of wandering around (in a desert, mountains, a tunnel and a forest) and meets a boy named Jake, who he brings along on his “adventure”.
The “Tower” series of books is supposed to be the linch-pin for King’s writing career, tying together all of his other novels / stories.  I have only ever read “Salem’s Lot” and “Carrie”, and both of those were back in my Army days (1970’s) and I don’t remember any references to the “Tower” or the “Gunslingers”.
This book came to me from my son who says it is his favorite book series of all and that he has read the complete series multiple times…  Okay…
Final recommendation: give it a pass to moderate.  I don’t know if this is a book I would have read if it hadn’t come so highly recommended.  It reminded me a lot of the movie “Cloud Atlas” with the way it jumped around in time and location.  I didn’t enjoy that movie and I didn’t enjoy this book.  Or, at least most of it.
Again, if it hadn’t come so highly recommended, I would not have finished it.  The writing style is overly flowery / imagery.  I felt like the author was adding words to fill out the book length, not to actually make a point in the story.  I was repeatedly bored; waiting for something – anything – to happen.  Then, when things finally did happen, they still just weren’t interesting.
Having said all of this, in the last 20-30 pages, Roland finally confronts the Man-In-Black and they get into a lengthy philosophical conversation which I did (finally) find very interesting.  Almost interesting enough that I could imagine reading another one of the books.  The discussion is VERY briefly held in the movie, too.  But, it is almost an after-thought there.
Full disclosure: I got the book from my son after hearing there was a movie coming out.  He loaned me the book, but I never got around to reading it.  I saw the movie last year, but didn’t like (understand) it, so I was still not motivated to read the book.  Over the summer, my son asked about the book / movie and egged me on about reading the book (“give it a chance”).  Since I didn’t really remember the movie, I decided to read the book and then revisit the movie.  I did both, in that order.  I’m glad I did or the movie would still have made no sense.  This is definitely one of those cases where you need to read the book first, then see the movie.
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On This Day In:
2018 Land Of My Birth – Executive Order Notwithstanding
Keeping It Real…
2017 Use A Bigger Can
2016 Vote Tomorrow – 8 November 2016
2015 Old Bond
2014 Preferences
2013 Prudence
2012 Reason Against Reasons
2011 The 1% Rule Of Large Groups
2010 Going, Going, On…
Expect Mike
Wasted Again?
You Did?
Reflecting Plenty
Old Math
Mental Images
Here’s Lookin’ At You, Kid
Learn
Nothing Feared Today
I Had Other Plans
Ratings…
Really?
Encourage Greatness

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Legion” (2010) — movie review
Well, I’ve had this bundle for ages now and I’ve finally finished viewing the “Fallen Angel 3-Movie Collection” which I bought on Vudu.  The first movie I watched was “Priest“.  I had already seen it at the theater and offered my thoughts (review here) several years ago (2011).  I bought the “collection” (on discount) quite awhile back, and re-watched “Priest“, but just never got around to the other two.
So, I finally watched “Gabriel” (review here) this week and posted my comments (“so-so”), and now I’ve (again) finally watched the last film: “Legion“.
Legion” stars Paul Bettany as the “fallen” Archangel Michael, Kevin Durand as the “obedient” Archangel Gabriel, Lucas Black as Jeep Hanson (the “protector”), Tyrese Gibson as Kyle Williams (a random guy who helps), Adrianne Palicki as Charlie (the mother of the “savior” baby), Kate Walsh as Sandra Anderson (a “bad” mother), Willa Holland as Audrey Anderson (the “bad” daughter with the heart of gold), and Dennis Quaid as Bob Hanson (Jeep’s dad and the owner of a diner / gas station in the middle of nowhere).
Charlie is 8-months pregnant and God is unhappy with humanity and wants to wipe everyone out and start again.  (There’s no reason why.  Just go with it…)  God commands Michael to kill the unborn baby and Michael refuses and goes to Earth to protect the mother / baby.  God sends angels in the form of possessed / zombified humans to kill all of humanity.  Blah, blah, blah.  Motley crew gathers at the diner (“Paradise Flats”) and fights off the zombies with machine guns, anti-tank weapons and hand-to-hand combat.  It’s not “really” a martial arts movie as much as a horror / drama.  Blah, blah, blah.  Baby is born, Michael and Gabriel have the big final showdown and happy ending: “Keep the faith!”
So, is this movie any good?  How about he action / horror?  What about the religious aspects?  Was it at least entertaining?  Yes, so-so, laughable, but strangely, yes, it was entertaining.  Did I mention strangely?  (I think so…  Yes, I did.)  I’m not sure why, but the movie felt better explained overall than “Gabriel“, nothing specific.  Maybe, just maybe, I liked it because I think I enjoy watching Bettany.  I can’t figure out if he’s a good actor or if he’s just John Wayne, playing John Wayne again.  Of course I mean Bettany playing Bettany again.
Final recommendation: moderate but not quite strong.  I enjoyed this movie, but it wasn’t a “good” movie.  It’s a much better movie than “Gabriel”, but not as good as “Priest”.  I will say Gibson and Quaid were very good in their supporting roles.  I was surprised to see two more “big-name” actors in this kind of movie.
So, not a strong horror movie.  An okay action movie with some above average (for this genre) supporting actors / roles.  Not advisable for children or impressionable youth.  Language, too violent and bloody gore.  It’s rated: “R”.
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On This Day In:
2018 Nothing To Build On
2017 This One Is…
2016 Happy Is…
2015 Dare Yourself To
2014 Damned If You Do…
2013 On A Rainy Sunday
2012 Not Sure Anymore
2011 But What Does It Cost?
2009 Another Day, Another Diet…

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Gabriel” (2007)  —  movie review
Today’s review is for a “religious” based action / martial arts / horror film along the lines of the TV shows “Lucifer” or “Supernatural” or the movie “The Crow“.  This review is probably a lot longer than the movie deserves, so unless you really enjoy my writing, feel free to come back later…  You’ve been warned.
Gabriel” is Australian movie and therefore has (mostly) folks I’ve never heard of in the starring roles: Andy Whitfield as Archangel Gabriel (hero / good-guy), Dwaine Stevenson as fallen Archangel Sammael / Michael (evil villain / bad guy) and Samantha Noble as Jade / Archangel Amietiel (former good-girl / now “love” interest).  I understand Whitfield went on to play the lead in the series: “Spartacus”, but he developed a fatal illness and died before the second year of the series.
Basically, there is a place between heaven and hell where human souls go to await their final judgement.  It wasn’t clear why this was (waiting or judgement) or when it (judgement) was supposed to happen – the end of the “real” world or just some arbitrary time for each person.  Strangely, the “dead” who are there can still “die” and then they are “really” dead and (I guess) don’t go anywhere.  [Exposition to create drama…]  This is the fate of any of the Archangels who happen to die while in this place.  The place is called: “Purgatory”, but it doesn’t seem to be the same place / purgatory I was raised (I am a Roman Catholic) knowing about.  It’s kind of a permanently dark, gloomy and raining Los Angeles.
Anyway, the film is supposed to be a battle between the “good” Archangels and the “bad” Archangels (called: “The Fallen”).  While the battles involve a lot of martial arts, they also have a fair amount of gun and knife action.  It’s not clear how any of this is relevant, you just kind of have to go with it…  Like I said: anyway, the good angels have to kill the bad angels to restore “light” to Purgatory and then they (the good angels) can go back to heaven (the light).
And therein lies the basis of the the film’s problems: none of it (Purgatory) makes any sense and none of the exposition helps make it (the film) make any sense.  The exposition mostly is just an early warning that the plot is going somewhere.
So, is this movie any good?  What about the martial arts scenes?  The religious aspects?  Was it entertaining?  So-so, so-so, more confusing than the plot and only marginally (entertaining).  I think the film was meant to be some type of morality play.  It just didn’t work for me.
Final recommendation: poor to moderate.  The fight choreography was okay.  The acting was kind of okay (sometimes), but almost too over the top, to the point of being a send-up.  The plot (as explained) made no sense.  The ending, also made no sense.  I understand the original movie was well over three hours long and the release version was cut down to just under two hours.  If you like your movies dark (screen black, sound, but you can’t see anything) and foreboding (when you can see something) with a couple of fights thrown in to keep you awake, you should be entertained.  Otherwise, you probably need to give this one a miss.
And one last thought: I should have known better…  I got this movie as part of an “angel” three-pack with “Priest” (a vampire movie) and “Legion” (not yet viewed) for a tenner.  I saw “Priest” in the theater and thought it was ok (even though I don’t usually like – or watch – vampire films).  It starred Paul Bettany, as did “Legion“, so I thought I could “risk” the third movie being a dud.  This movie (“Gabriel“) isn’t really terrible – it’s just not to my taste and the martial arts scenes don’t really save it for me.  And, yeah…  I should have known better.
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On This Day In:
2018 A Gift
2017 Unless You Genuinely Are Small
2016 B1
2015 Five Things
2014 Have Faith
2013 Found In A Mine
2012 Two-Sided Coin
2011 Passionately Scorned Rules

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Upgrade” (2018) — movie review
Today’s review is for the SciFi / near future / revenge / action / drama which stars Logan Marshall-Green as Grey Trace (the husband / “good guy” / hero), Melanie Vallejo as Asha Trace (the wife who dies), Harrison Gilbertson as Eron Keen (the “main” bad guy and creator of STEM), Simon Maiden as the “voice” of STEM, Benedict Hardie as Fisk Brantner (the secondary “main” bad guy), Betty Gabriel as Det. Cortez (the police detective trying to solve the murder case) and Linda Cropper as Pamela Trace (Grey’s mother).
Basically, a couple are in a staged accident and the wife is killed while the husband is paralyzed.  The husband is offered a chance to regain the use of his limbs and he seeks to use this as the means to get revenge against the men who killed his wife. Blah, blah, blah, lots of bloody action set pieces.  Blah, blah, blah, the detective suspects the star / “hero”.  Blah, blah, blah, big fight with the action bad guy.  Blah, blah, blah, movie twist at the end and no resolution.
Is this a “good” SciFi movie?  How about a good action movie?  How about a good movie?  No.  Yes.  So-so.  I was looking forward to seeing this movie at the theater, but then never got around to it.  I picked it up for Vudu at a sale price which was less than the movie price, but over my normal $5 rate because I “really” did want to see it.
The movie is set in the “near” future and “biological enhancements” are a “common” thing.  The visual effects of the future are pretty good in wide-screen shots.  Actually, the over-all special effects are pretty good to very good.  The near-future setting allows the production to save money on most of the movie’s other (close-up) sets.  The “science” in the SciFi is mostly fiction and / or just unexplained. Really, for a SciFi movie, most of the plot does NOT bear consideration — or afterthought — for that matter.
Final recommendation: moderate.  If I was rating this as “just” an action movie, I would say it was a strong recommendation, but I am not.  The martial arts choreography is good to great, but the overall movie story isn’t smooth enough to prevent the viewer (me, anyway) from stopping to ask “why did that happen?”  When that is happening or happens too frequently, the viewer gets removed from the fantasy and you just have to try to enjoy the movie and hope it ends making sense.  Unfortunately, this movie really doesn’t (make sense).  That’s not to say the ending’s twist isn’t good or surprising…  It just doesn’t redeem the rest of the film.
The movie is not appropriate for young children (far too bloody / violent), but (for adults) it’s entertaining enough for its action scenes.  And, yes, Logan Marshall-Green is a dead-ringer for Tom Hardy (LoL).
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On This Day In:
2018 Come November 6th
2017 Hearts And Memories
2016 Tremendous Energy
Beyond Trying
2015 Tell Me…
2014 Live Forever (To Remember Me)
Orange October (VI) – Giants Win Game 4
2013 More Than Just Words
2012 Egotist, n.
2011 Good And Bad

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The Age Of Adaline” (2015)  —  movie review
This movie is a SciFi-Fantasy / Drama / Romance movie starring: Blake Lively as Adaline Bowman; Michiel Huisman as Ellis Jones; Harrison Ford as William Jones (Ellis’ father and 1960’s lover of Adaline); Kathy Baker as Kathy Jones (Ellis’ mother); and, Ellen Burstyn as Flemming Bowman (Adaline’s daughter).
Adaline is born on New Year’s Day in 1908.  She grows up, marries, becomes widowed and is then in a car crash / lightening strike which she survives (altered) with the gift of immortality.  She is stuck at 29 years old for another 80 (odd) years.  In order to avoid discovery, she moves every few years, changes her name and avoids close relationships.  Meanwhile, her daughter – Flemming – grows up and eventually ages into an old woman.
Shoot to the present (2015) and Adaline (now called Jenny) attends a New Year’s Party and meets Ellis Jones.  Over the next few days they fall madly in love and blah, blah, blah – lots of Hallmark moments.
Ellis invites Jenny to meet his parents and “it’s a small world, after all”, Ellis’ father (William Jones) is a former flame of Jenny’s (Adaline’s) from 50 years ago.  More blah, blah, blah.  Adaline’s “true” identity is discovered by William.  Jenny / Adaline flees the house, is in a car accident, blah, blah, blah… Jenny / Adaline is saved and reverted to a “normal” (i.e. aging) person, … and happily ever after.
So, is this movie any good?  Does it work as a SciFi-Fantasy?  Does it work as a Drama / Romance?  To paraphrase “Gladiator“: was I not entertained?  Yes.  Well, okay.  Yes.  And, yes.  SciFi-Fantasy doesn’t really have to make sense.  It just has to offer a reason to get from “A” to “B”.  It does.  And, then it gets you from “B” back to “A” at the end of the movie.  It doesn’t matter how realistic it (the science) is.  Only that they tried to give an explanation.
Drama / Romance?  Yes.  It’s a simple Hallmark – meet, fall in love, test of love, love wins out, happily ever after movie, and, I’m good with that.  I didn’t really know what to expect going in, but as these movies go, it wasn’t bad.  In fact, yes, I was entertained.  Yes, both Lively and Huisman are very attractive and good in their roles, but I particularly liked Ford, Baker and Burnstyn in their roles.  They sold, if not carried, the movie for me.
Final recommendation: Strong recommendation.  Two young, beautiful people fall madly in love and live happily ever after.  What’s not to like?  A final note: there is a satellite shot that pans from outer space into California, then the Bay Area, then San Francisco which I’ve dreamed of for decades.  It was nice to FINALLY see it in a movie!  I’d have given the movie a good review for that shot alone.
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On This Day In:
2018 Seeking To Make A Difference
2017 Happy BD, Bec!
2016 BD Quotes
2015 Princess
2014 Optional
2013 Happy Birthday, Rebecca
2012 Be Not Old
2012 National League Western Division Champions!!!
2011 What Kind Of Work Do You Do?
2010 Another Loser… And Come November

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Today’s review(s) are for the extended / sub-titled version of “The Millenium Series“. “Millenium” is a six-part television series made in Sweden based on the novels written by Stieg Larsson.  The six parts were combined into three “movies”, each movie consisting of two parts from the series with each part running about 90 minutes for a total of about nine(9) hours.  The English version was released under the name: “Dragon Tattoo Trilogy: Extended Edition”.  I watched the sub-titled version, not the one with the dubbed English.
The three “movies” have the corresponding names to the first three novels in the book series.  I understand the book series was originally intended to run to ten books, but the author (Larsson) died unexpectedly.  The “movie” titles are: “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo“; “The Girl Who Played with Fire“; and, “The Girl Who Kicked the Hornets’ Nest“.
The two main characters in all three of the movies are Lisbeth Salander – played by Noomi Rapace, and Mikael Blomkvist – played by Michael Nyqvist. Salander is a twenty-something Goth hacker who works as a “researcher” for a Swedish security firm.  Basically, she’s a private-eye with computer skills.  Blomkvist is “famous” journalist and part owner of a do-gooder “investigative” magazine called “Millennium”.
The first movie (“Dragon Tatto“) has Blomkvist setup to take the fall for a false libel charge.  In between his conviction and his lockup he is hired by a wealthy Swedish capitalist who wants Blomkvist to investigate the disappearance of his niece several decades ago.  He is getting old and just wants to know what happened to her before he dies.
Anyway, Blomkvist enlists Salander’s help and they solve the mystery and Salander saves Blomkvist’s life in the process.  Closing the quality circle, they also prove the libel charge was a setup and the rich guy commits suicide to avoid going to prison himself.
The second movie (“Played with Fire“), has Millennium investigating sex trade in Sweden for the publication of an expose implicating some government (and police) officials.  The reporter and his girl friend are murdered, as is Lisbeth’s “guardian” and Lisbeth is implicated in the deaths of all three.
This time, Blomkvist comes to Lisbeth’s rescue gathering evidence she is innocent.  Basically, some of the men involved in the sex trade are also involved with (and being protected by) the government officials.  The main “bad-guy” turns out to be a Russian spy who flipped to get Swedish government protection.  In turn, the government looked-the-other-way for over three decades of criminal behavior (drugs, sex trafficking, and gun running).  The bad-guy also turns out to be Lisbeth’s father.  In the end, both Lisbeth and her dad are captured by the police.
The third movie (“Hornets’ Nest“), has Lisbeth on trial for the attempted murder of her father and the possible murder of the other three (the journalist, girl friend, and guardian) from the second movie.  The “government” agents seek to kill Lisbeth and her father to silence them both.  They succeed in killing the dad, but not Lisbeth.
Ultimately, Blomkvist convinces some of the police and another secret group in the Swedish “Constitutional Protection Division” of Lisbeth’s innocence and together they gather the evidence to arrest all the baddies.  There is also another issue which gets wrapped up at the end of the movie.
Final recommendation: High to Very highly recommended with the qualification that all three are rated “R” and there are extremely violent and sexual (nudity) scenes in the first and second movie.  This is not a movie series for prudes or for anyone squeamish about nudity, rape, abuse of authority or violence (depicted) against women.  The “redeeming” factor, if you need that kind of thing, is that all of the bad guys get theirs in the end.  Although some are only shown arrested and disgraced, most have “untimely” deaths.
One cultural note: this is my first exposure to a Swedish production (TV or movie) and, other than the fact that I do not care for sub-titles, I found it a very entertaining production which reminded me of the first Jason Bourne movie in how the movie “looked” – not quite TV, not quite movie; just a funky realism look.  The “only” other “Swedish” thing I remember seeing has been the “Wallander” police series.  That series was shot in Sweden, but was actually a BBC production and started Kenneth Branagh in the title role – so I don’t think that counts as “Swedish”.
I have had this version for several weeks and just never got around to watching it.  I then got an offer from Vudu to buy the “English Dubbed” version for $10.  I didn’t even know the version I had wasn’t already dubbed.  I watched the first movie (parts 1 and 2 of the 6-part series) and decided to pick up the dubbed version as well.  I don’t speak Swedish, but I noticed what appeared to be discrepancies between what the actors were saying and what I was reading – at least some of the words sounded a LOT like other English words to me.  Since I’ve invested the extra money, I’ll watch the dubbed versions, but I’ve no idea when (or if) I’ll get around to reviewing them.
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On This Day In:
2018 Four Loves
Favorite Westerns
2017 Faith In Science
2016 What The World Calls
2015 Say What?
2014 Start Today
2013 Fly!!
2012 Greater Love
2011 Before

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Delay, Don’t Deny”  (2017©)  —  book review
Today’s book is “Delay, Don’t Deny“, written by Gin Stephens.  The book was loaned to me by my sister while we were visiting for the Labor Day BBQ at her house.  The book is sub-titled: “Living an Intermittent Fasting Lifestyle“.   Basically, the book is a cheer-leading exercise for the “One-Meal-A-Day” (OMAD) intermittent fasting protocol which the author feels should be adopted not as a “diet”, but as a “lifestyle”.  In other words, once you start, you can’t go back.  The author’s claim goes beyond that.  She believes the benefits will be so obvious to you that you will choose to never go back (to your old eating habits / lifestyle).
The book is very short – only 155 pages.  It is written in a very friendly and easy to read style with short chapters and a few photos thrown in.  I would estimate a reader could speed through this book in a day (evening) if you were motivated to just sit still.  It took me a couple of days to get to it and then I read a couple of chapters a night before turning off the light.
In full disclosure:  I turned my sister on to Alternate Day Fasting, which is one form of intermittent fasting, so I am already a “true believer”.  I believe in fasting as a jump start to a healthier lifestyle and have done strict veggie broth fasts and veggie / fruit juice fasts of various duration’s over the last thirty-five years.  I have tried (and consider myself still on) an alternate day fasting protocol and it was working for a couple of weeks before “life” got in the way.  Besides my excuses, I feel the ADF or “modified ADF”  (MODF)- which is what I am / was trying – is a workable lifestyle for me.  Prior to reading this book, this (a MODF) is what I was planning to return to when I finish my current (12 completed days) veggie-juice / blended fast.  After reading this book, I think I will substitute the OMAD for the MADF.
So, what is a one-meal-a-day fasting lifestyle?  According to the author, you can eat anything you want and as much as you want, but only for / at one meal a day.  You have a window for eating each day.  The window may be as long as eight hours or as short as one hour.  The remaining hours in the day, you are fasting.  “Fasting” means water, black coffee or unflavored green or black tea.  No sweeteners.  No creamers.  The more common windows are: “8/16”, “6/18” and “4/20”.  This varies from the traditional alternate day fasting in that with OMAD, you do eat EVERY day.  In the ADF, you eat no more than 500 calories (female) or 700 calories (male) on your “fasting” days and you eat whatever you want (whatever you normally eat) on the alternate eating day.  An eating window is also recommended for both the ADF and the MADF.  In fact, many proponents suggest you water fast on occasion just to super-charge the process.  The water fast is also frequently added to the “5:2” version of the ADF.  In the 5:2, you eat within an eight hour window five days a week and then water fast for two days.  You can pick the two days and they don’t have to be consecutive days – just any two out of the seven day week.  The 5:2 is briefly mentioned in the book, but the author does not favor it.
The author does not discuss sleeping, but this is a critical part of the ADF protocol.  You are expected to get 7 to 8 hours of continuous sleep each day for the ADF protocol.  This is where I definitely have a problem with ADF.  I typically can only manage six hours and almost never get over seven.  This is mostly a bad “lifetime” habit of mine.  As it’s not mentioned in the book, I guess the author doesn’t feel it’s that critical for OMAD.
The strength of this book is its approachability, both in ease of reading and in terms of the protocol.  She says:  “Try it.  You’ll like it!”  In fact, she believes you’ll like it so much, you’ll feel comfortable dropping it for special occasions (vacations, holiday weekends, Christmas, etc.) and then you’ll recognize you are out of sync with your body and want to drop back into the protocol.
The book has a particularly useful section listing the author’s favorite books (15) about alternate day fasting and intermittent fasting.  The author says these books contain all the science which she has chosen not to include in her own book.  She writes a paragraph or so on why each book is recommended.  Many of the authors of these books I was already familiar with from watching their videos on YouTube.
Final recommendation:  Very highly recommended!!  I fully intend to give this protocol a go whenever I finally come off of my current blend fast.  I will be sure to include updates in future posts.
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On This Day In:
2018 Here And Hope
2017 Choose
2016 All I Ever Wanted
2015 Compassionate Toward Yourself
2014 All And None
2013 Voices In The Dark
2012 Does Uncommonly Flexible = Flip-Flopping?
2011 A Modest Review Of A Modern Day Classic
Encouragement Is The Path To Immortality

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Caution: this is a relatively long post reviewing two movies…  You’ve been warned.
Today’s reviews are re-watches from my childhood:  “Tribes” (1970) and “The D.I.” (1957).  Both are movies about being in Marine Corps Boot Camp.  “The D.I.” was released when I was two years old, so I obviously never saw it on original release, but I remember seeing it in my early teens.  “Tribes” I saw on its original TV broadcast.  I recently discovered / watched both movies on YouTube.
The D.I.” — movie review
If you’ve ever wondered what “Dragnet” would look like if it were turned into Marine Corps Boot Camp, this is the movie for you.  The movie stars Jack Webb (who also produced and directed the film) as Sergeant Jim Moore who is a Drill Instructor (“D.I.”) at Paris Island.  His job is to turn civilians into Marines and he has a problem in the person of Private Owens (played by Don Dubbins).  Whenever Owens feels he’s under pressure, he quits / gives up.  The company Captain (Lin McCarthy) feels Moore is getting soft and orders Moore to bring Owens around or get rid of him.
There are (of course) side issues:  one – Moore is falling for a shop clerk (Jackie Loughery) named “Annie”, which is wrecking his “tough-guy” Marine self-image;  and, two – Owens’ mother (Monica Lewis) appeals to Moore that she coddled Owens and she lost her husband (in WWII) and her two older sons (in Korea).  She wants Moore to make her son into a Marine or he won’t be able to live with himself.
This movie is shot in black and white and it is fairly dark.  I guess as a nod to realism, the movie has a scene with Moore and Annie which (shockingly) edges very close to date rape.  It doesn’t happen, but I was surprised it was even implied in a movie from that period.  Incidentally, in real life, Loughery married Webb the following year (1958).  Despite this being a “Webb” movie (“Just the facts, Ma’am…”), from the 50’s, it is also a happily ever after ending movie – for the Private / mom and the Sergeant / clerk.  Who woulda guessed?
Final recommendation: moderate to strong.  Viewed as a “Webb” production, this is a classic.  As a period piece, I would say it’s still pretty much a classic.  This movie was my first introduction to the concept of “Basic Training / Boot Camp”, and I remember it had a fairly strong effect on my impressionable mind.  Don’t get me wrong, this movie is not a cinematic “classic” and it’s really only a fair movie, but, in watching it, it reminded me of the simpler times of my childhood when things did seem more “black-and-white”.
Tribes” — movie review
Tribes” is not strictly speaking a “real” movie.  Back in the 1970’s, one of the main TV networks (ABC) used to run what it called the: “ABC Movie of the Week“.  Some of the ninety minute movies were pretty good and some even became TV series in their own right.
Tribes” is a movie about a free-spirited (that’s “hippie”) individual who joins the Marine Corps and who has to go to (and survive) Boot Camp.  It stars Jan-Michael Vincent as the free-spirited Private Adrian, Darren McGavin as Gunnery Sergeant Thomas Drake, and Earl Holliman as Chief Drill Instructor (and Drake’s boss) Master Sergeant Frank DePayster.
The movie always seemed to me to be a message about the changing times of the 1960’s / 1970’s in America.  You’ve got two straight-arrow Marine lifers, but one has a streak of decency and the other does not.  Ultimately, the leadership abilities of the young recruit pushes not only his platoon to excel, but also to win over the D.I. nominally there to break his individuality and “turn him into” a Marine who will follow orders.
Final recommendation: strong to highly recommended.  I was very surprised how much of this movie I could recall after nearly 50 years from my first (and only) viewing.  LoL – this movie also introduced me to meditation / alternative states of consciousness and boxers vs briefs.
I am very biased towards this movie as it had a personal effect on me when I was in Basic Training for the Army four years later.  When I was learning to fire the M16, I asked my Drill Sergeant why we used “human” silhouettes instead of “bulls-eye” targets, he replied, “because we want you to learn to shoot at people.”  He went on to explain Fort Ord (where I had my Basic Training) had the highest casualty and injury statistics of any of the training facilities which sent soldiers to Vietnam.  It was determined this was because “West Coast” city boys didn’t shoot at other humans instinctively.  Using silhouettes, trained them to shoot as a reaction instead of pausing to take aim.  Fortunately, I never had to put this to the test…
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On This Day In:
2018 Being President Doesn’t Make You Presidential
Day 27: 4 Weeks / 55lbs
2017 I’m Seeing It, Too
2016 Personal Decisions
2015 Verbal Fluency
2014 Familiar
2013 Unbending
2012 Simple Sayings
2011 Wupped Again?
2010 3 and 1…
Musical Notes…
Doubt Tries…
Northwest Passages – Evening Two
The Beierly’s Web Site

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Goodbye, Mr. Chips”  (1939)  —  movie review
Haec olim meminisse iuvabit.
  —  Virgil
From the “Aeneid
(Translated:  “Someday, perhaps, it will be delightful to remember even this.”)
Today’s review is for the black and white classic from 1939: “Goodbye, Mr. Chips” starring Robert Donat in his Best Actor Oscar winning performance as Mr. Arthur Chipping a classics (“Latin and Greek”) subject master (instructor) at a British boarding school.  The movie was up for six other Oscars but was mightily steamrolled by “Gone With The Wind” (GWTW).  Greer Garson plays his wife Katherine Chipping and Garson was nominated for best Actress.  (She lost to Vivien Leigh in GWTW, steamroll remember.)
Anyway, at the start of the film, an elderly Chipping falls asleep in front of a fireplace and dreams of his life (68 years teaching at an all-boys “public” school).  The memories trace his rough start at the school; his early years of struggle in the profession; his falling in love and brief marriage which results in his personal and professional blossoming; and, then the long years where he becomes a virtual institution at the school.  His longevity provides him the opportunity to teach multiple generations of young boys / men from the same families.  From our perspective, we see him age (and grow) as a teacher and as a man.
Although this movie only garnered one Oscar, it is a “CLASSIC” in every sense of the word.  It addresses friendship, loyalty, romance, shyness, love, loss, education standards, and last, but not least, the inherent value of morals, of commitment and of perseverance.
Final recommendation: very highest!  This is a movie everybody should see (and almost all will enjoy).  It is definitely among the top ten of my all-time favorite movies.
The quote from Virgil (above) is from the movie.  It is the line Chips relates in his retirement ceremony before the assembled school.
As a side note: This story (along with “Pride & Prejudice“) is one of my favorites in all of cinema.  There are several other versions / adaptations of the original book (1934 — reviewed here), which include a musical version (1969 — reviewed here) starring Peter O’Toole and Petula Clark, a BBC version (2002) starring Martin Clunes as Chips, and an earlier BBC version (1984) starring Roy Marsden as Chips.  The book review, linked above, is the same link for the BBC versions.  All four (book and three adaptations) were reviewed in posts by me back in February, earlier this year.
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On This Day In:
2018 Still Blogging
2017 Reliable Vision
2016 Still Walking
2015 Steps
2014 To Be Greatly Good
2013 Limited Capacity
2012 Two Ear Ticklers
Justification
2011 To Avail The Nation

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