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Posts Tagged ‘Robert Downey Jr’

Yesterday our electric power went off for about 12 hours.  We believe it was due to high winds blowing down a power line somewhere, but of course the electric company (PG&E) never call you and tell you what caused the problem.  Anyway, Hil (my wife), Sarah (my younger daughter and youngest child) and I sat in the living room simply chatting by candle light.  It was quite entertaining, in a family bonding kind of way which you normally only see on the Hallmark Channel.  (LOL)
When it came time for bed, we brushed our teeth and did all of our preparation by candlelight.
Now, I snore.  More accurately, I SNORE LOUDLY.  I also have sleep apnea, which means I stop breathing when I sleep.  This condition is common among those who are overweight (and I am) and I use a machine called a CPAP (stands for “continuous positive airway pressure”) to blow air into my nose to keep me breathing (and it also prevents snoring).   So, no ‘leckie, no breathie, but lots of snoring.
We went to bed around 10pm and by 12:30, my Hil had waken me about a half dozen times and finally was on the verge of tears: “I just can’t sleep.  You have to go in another room.”
“Another” room is the living room at the far end of the house…  So off I trundled down the hallway, sleeping bag in tow.  (Insert mental image of Linus with his blanket…)
With sleep apnea, a part of your throat gets blocked, air is cut off, you can’t breath and (if you’re lucky) you startle yourself awake to start the sleep cycle/wake over again.  In my case, which is only a moderate case, I stop breathing about 70 times per hour.  A little over once every minute.  Thank god for CPAPs!
Sometime during the night,  PG&E fixed the outage and I was awakened by a glaring light shining in my face.  We had left the end table light turned on when the power went off.  So, I pulled the cushions off the floor and put them back on the couch and folded the sleeping bag to be re-shelved later in the (real) morning.  …And I trundled back down the hall to get back into bed.  The clock said it was just after 3:10am and I normally get up for work at 4:30am.
To make a longer story shorter, mask on, snoring stopped, sleep resumed.  Wake up late and call into to work to ask for a day of vacation (annual leave) to recover from an exhausting night of trying to sleep.  As it’s New Year’s Eve, there isn’t much going on, so the boss says she’ll see me next year.
And to make “good” use of the day, I turned to my latest discovery  —  Netflix!!  Yes, I “know” this is not a “real” discovery, but us dinosaurs are known for being slow and lumbering…
Movie Review:
Today I watched “I, Frankenstein” staring Aaron Eckhart as the monster.  This is one of those movies where you should NOT watch the preview immediately before watching the film.  If you do, the film is ruined because it is then almost 100% predictable.  I am an Eckhart fan and have been since watching his performances in “The Core” back in 2003 and “Battle: Los Angeles” in 2011.  Anyway, he is not bad in this role.  It’s not a defining role like Downing’s Ironman or Bale’s Batman, but this movie was obviously set up to be a series starter in a similar genre to the “Underworld” movie series.  There are competing immortals locked in an eternal war and along comes a third party, in this case, the Frankenstein monster.  A human, created by a human, but without a soul.   Blah, blah, blah…  Lots of unrealistic fights made possible by pretty good special effects, but in the end, only a so-so movie.
The movie bombed at the box office, and worse, doesn’t seem to have found a niche following, so it seems unlikely to be the money spinner the producers had hoped for.
But, is it really that bad?  No.  It is an interesting twist on the Frankenstein mythology and while it’s by no means a great movie, I did enjoy it.  If you can accept the premise that Adam (the name given to the monster – first man created, get it?) is virtually indestructible, then the unrealistic fights are at least visually entertaining.  While there doesn’t seem to have been much money spent on the bad guys (the demons), there is a fair amount of CGI on the good guys (gargoyles who protect humanity) and their special effects are pretty decent.  Again, this comment is not directly addressed to this movie as much as it is expressed as an IT person who goes to movies of lots of genres JUST to see the CGI / FX / technology.  For example, there is a large stained glass window broken and some of the glass lands on an altar / table.  When the table is moved, the reflections in the glass shards change.  Regardless of the rest of the movie, I think that’s pretty cool!
So, final review – it’s an okay movie with an interesting twist on an old and familiar story which has some decent special effects.  Given the minimal cost of seeing the movie on Netflix, I’d say it was worth watching and if it remains available, I’ll probably watch it again.
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On This Day In:
2013 Best Wishes For 2014!
2012 My Creed
2011 It Probably Isn’t So

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I am sure there is someone out there who can (will) correct me, but one of the first movies to “decently” portray a cyborg-type / exoskeleton / robot suit was the original RoboCop.  It seems as if since the production of “Ironman” with Robert Downey Jr., every actor has to fill out his / her career by putting on a suit of armor or an exoskeleton.  Today’s review is about Matt Damon’s effort, titled: “Elysium“.
As dystopian, Sci-Fi, special-effects movies go, this is a pretty entertaining movie.  I am a Matt Damon fan and this movie certainly doesn’t hurt his fan base.  It’s not a great role for him.  It kind of feels like: “been there, done that” action / adventure that he has done multiple times in the “Bourne” series, but I’m not a fan who thinks every role has to stretch a particular actor.  Some roles are kind of career fillers.  I think this is that kind of role for Damon.
So, let’s see…  Man is about to die, one chance to live, have an exoskeleton bonded to your body, go save yourself and the whole planet, too.  Yup.  That about sums it up.  Does he get it done? (What do you think?)
If I have any objection to this movie, it’s the same I have to the entire genre: having a iron shell or exoskeleton, does not make the internal functions of the human body sturdier.  If you get thrown ten feet and crash into a steel or cement wall – you are still dead from concussions and damage to internal organs.  I don’t care what kind of skeleton you have.  I will make allowances for the “Wolverine” character, but that’s only because he also has a super-healing power to go along with his internal metal skeleton.  The rest of these action heroes – sorry, you’re all dead on impact.
Having said that, the special effects in this movie are pretty good – particularly the “good” earth (Elysium) orbiting the bad earth.  In case you’re wondering where you heard the term / name before, it was the Heaven / Valhalla equivalent place mentioned in the movie “Gladiator“.  If you find yourself there, don’t worry about the battle, your friends or how you got there, cause you’re already dead…  I’m not sure if it’s intended or unintended irony that the “bad” but mostly innocent (better) folks live in “Heaven”.  I’m not sure if it’s intended or unintended social-political commentary that the hard-working and “bad / lesser” people live on Earth (Hell).
Despite my reservations mentioned above this is a pretty good Sci-Fi movie and I would put it between moderate to highly recommended depending on if your into Sci-fi, action / adventure, good versus evil movies.  Obviously, I am and I enjoyed this movie.
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On This Day In:
2013 Future Trustees
2012 Praise Not The Day…
2011 Educated Living

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Today’s post is kind of a tape delay.  The first book (“The Great Gatsby“) was finished a couple of weeks ago.  No real reason for the delay, except that I’ve been watching a fair amount of baseball and just haven’t made the time.  The second book (“The Prince“) was finished today.  The first movie (“The Caine Mutiny“) was watched on Saturday afternoon last, while the second (“Iron Man 3“) was watched yesterday.
The Great Gatsby was written by F. Scott Fitzgerald (1925©) and is about a young man trying to find himself in New York in the 1920’s.  The man (Nick Carraway) is from the mid-west and goes east to seek his fortune in the big city.  It should be noted that he is already from a well-off family.  His job is in the city, but his residence is in a wealthy suburb where he meets the title character, a wealthy “business” man named Jay Gatsby.  Anyway, blah, blah, blah, life of extravagance / lost love / more blah, blah, / accident / death, end of story.
Widely considered a classic and “the great American novel”, the book is mostly read in high school and is now the basis for a soon to be released motion picture.  Actually, this is a remake.  There are four other versions, but one is “lost” (1926) and another is a made for TV (2000), so I’m not sure it really counts.  The most recent is from 1974 and starred Robert Redford as Gatsby.  I’ve never seen that version, so if I’m lucky, it’ll appear on TV soon as a promo for the new release which is due out this coming Friday.  The new version stars Leonardo DiCaprio as Gatsby and Tobey Maguire as Carraway.
I originally read this novel back in the Army when I hoped to get better educated in some of the “great” pieces of literature.  I escaped it while I was in high school.
Is it great?  No, at least I didn’t think so.  Is it a “classic”?  Yes.  When I first read it, I remember finishing it and thinking “Wow! That was a great book, but I have no idea what it will mean in my life because there was no basis for common experience.”  Okay, maybe a twenty year old sergeant in the Army didn’t think in those exact words, but that was the gist of my reaction.  Thirty plus years later, if you asked me what it was about, I’d have told you, “rich guys in the ’20’s”.  And that’s it…   So, was it worth reading again?  Only to the extent that it prepares me for watching the new movie.  Would I recommend reading it?  Yes, but with qualifications.  If you are interested in one of the great works of fiction by one of the bohemian writers from the early 20th century – definitely.  If you want to see a “crafted” novel (I’m not sure what that means, but I keep seeing the description in reader reviews) – definitely.   If you’re trying to better understand the American rich of the 1920’s – definitely.  If you’re trying to find a novel which will change your life?  Well, it didn’t do it for me back in the ’70’s and even less so with a second go.  Final recommendation – moderate recommend; but I’d wait and just go see the movie.  It will cause you less time from your life.  (I hope to review the movie next week, so you may want to hold off.)
The Prince” was written by Niccolò Machiavelli (1513).  Any book on politics which survives 400 years is bound to be considered a “classic” and this is (both considered and IS).  There are a multitude of observations about gaining and keeping power in the city/state of the Renaissance Era Italy.  I think, with a bit of careful consideration and some adaptation, many of Machiavelli’s ideas are still valid.  I rather doubt gathering one’s enemies in a room and strangling them, would be considered appropriate in this day and age – even in Italy.  Anyway, I found the book to be extremely interesting and I highly recommend it for its historical value even if not for its application in today’s world.
One negative for this version (Wordsworth Reference [1993©]) is the translation seems to be quite literal from Italian and therefore the language is extremely flowery which makes for difficult reading, but otherwise, it’s a fast read and well worth reading and consideration among the other classics in politics.  And, of course, this means you will now see Machiavellian quotes from time to time.
As mentioned above, I watched “The Caine Mutiny” on Saturday.  I must admit, I’ve seen the movie several times in my lifetime, but I never remember much about it except the roles played by Humphrey Bogart and José Ferrer.  Everyone else is good, too, but these two are great.  If you liked the military courtroom drama of “A Few Good Men” or “The Court-Martial of Billy Mitchell“, then I think you’ll like this movie too.  This is a CLASSIC Bogart role and you can’t honestly say you are a Bogart fan unless you’ve watched this movie.  Of course, Bogart’s testimony at the trial is what makes the movie.  This is a must-see movie!!
The second movie I’m reviewing is the recently released “Iron Man 3“.  In full disclosure mode, I must admit that I spent many hours of my childhood reading (and collecting) Marvel Comics, so of course I have a natural bias for ALL Marvel Comic movie adaptations.  Having said that, this is a VERY good movie!  It’s entertaining with a plot, comedy (slap-stick and quips), action (fights and explosions), excellent special effects and once again, Robert Downey, Jr. ROCKS as Tony Stark (the man inside the suit), particularly when he’s NOT inside the suit.
Was the movie accurate to the comics? No.  Particularly as it relates to the Mandarin (who is Chinese in the comics but British in the movie).  Does it matter?  Nah.  What did (slightly) miff me was that there were no power-rings.  Instead there was a weak terrorist group called “The Ten Rings”.  Really?  Really?  Nah, it didn’t work for me.  Other than that, I thought this was a sound effort, particularly after the “relative” let down (well, I was very let down) of “Iron Man 2“.  Again, is it great cinema: No.  Is it an entertaining movie: heck YEAH!  Final recommendation: Highly recommended!
I can’t wait for the DVD so I can have a marathon viewing!
Oh yeah, in the Disney “Small World” vein: José Ferrer was in “The Caine Mutiny” and his son (who is a virtual ringer), Miguel José Ferrer, is in “Iron Man 3“.  Daddy was terrific.  Son, less so.
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On This Day In:
2012 God’s Requirements
2011 Greater Purity

 

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Sometimes it can be a real effort to keep up with some of the things I’m trying to get across on this site.  Generally, I’m just commenting about things I see happening in my life or around me.  I try to relate my observations, books I’ve read, movies (and TV) I’ve seen, poetry and music I’ve listened to (mostly what’s moved me).  Occasionally, I want to say something, but I’m waiting for something else to happen or for an idea to gel in my head.  Sometimes the thing is important, usually it’s trivial – but it ends up being a blog-blocker anyway.
A couple of weeks ago, I went to see the Avengers movie.  I held off on reviewing it because I wanted to see it a second time (this time in 3D), before I cast anything in stone (or as “stone” as a blog can be).  Anyway, I’ve not been able to get around to a second showing, so I’m just going to go ahead with my review of my initial sitting.  If you see only one comic book / super-hero movie this year, the Avengers should be it!!
This movie has all the great things about a great action movie – heroes, believable villains, action / fights, special effects, reasonable story / plot, and a little romance and something hard to find in most movies – pacing.  But most of all this movie has two things:  it has humor sprinkled in liberally and it has the HULK!  Now if you’ve seen the other two Hulk movies, you’re probably saying, “yeah, right!”  Well, I am!  Downey (as Tony Stark / Ironman) carries the movie with wit and panache, Thor and Captain America provide the beefcake, and then the HULK shows up to steal the last 20 minutes.
Unfortunately for Batman and Spiderman, both to be released later this year – the bar now seems set impossibly high…  We’ll see.  Bottom line:  Highly recommended!!
Last night I completed “Weaving The Web” by Tim Berners-Lee (1999©).  Now, in case you’ve been living under a rock, TB-L is the man who invented the World Wide Web.  He also invented web servers and web browsers.  He came up with the ideas and then worked it out with a colleague (Robert Cailliau) and a student intern (Nicola Pellow).  This book is the story of what they did and how they did it.  It is a story of insight, foresight and individual effort to turn an idea into a grass-roots movement, into a world-wide phenomenon, into the World Wide Web we know today.
The book is relatively easy to read and pretty lacking in computer mumbo-jumbo, but it is not read without some effort (or at least some prior understanding of web / computer history).  I found TB-L’s ideas about the future of the web (the “semantic web”) to be very interesting and, looking back, I wish he had spent more time explaining it more clearly.  As it is, I went on to Google and TED to get more information about it.  Having just skimmed the surface, it is obvious this is where the future of information retrieval is going.  My challenge (or the challenge for any IT professional) is getting up to speed and grasping more than just the theory behind it.  That will require hands-on experience though and other than using my own time, I don’t see how that will happen (at work).
Anyway, it’s nice to be able to look ahead and see where the world is going…
Bottom line: I highly recommend this book to anyone in technology and anyone who wants to be reasonably well paid in the next 20-30 years.
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