milton bradley school

What a 2nd grade teacher did this summer

School teachers do all kinds of things in the summer. Hang out, travel, spend time with their families, learn.

My sister Patty took one of her former students, now in the fourth grade, to the zoo. From the story I heard, the little boy has lived a rough life. Already. He was a behavior problem in school, which probably had something to do with having a less than stable home.

Patty brought the student under her wing, staying in touch with him and his family, inside and out of school. At the end of his year in my sister’s class, the boy won a bicycle for being the most improved student. He didn’t know what to do with it. He’d never ridden a bike.

If you were to ask my sister’s colleagues at the elementary school she teaches at, some might say she’s a strange bird. She taught in an inner city school with inner city problems (Springfield, MA); left for a plum job in the suburbs, only to get bored and realize those kids didn’t need her; then come back to the city because the job was more rewarding.

Students in Patty’s class get presents from her at Christmas. Don’t think just pens, pencils, and paper. Depending on the student, the present is more likely to be underwear, socks, or other essentials.

Sometimes, that’s the way teachers in an inner city school roll.

madonna super bowl

Judging By Madonna’s Super Bowl Performance And Twitter, Are You A Crabby Person?

Your reaction to Madonna’s Super Bowl performance, and the kinds of people you follow on Twitter, may hint at whether you’re a positive or negative person. Let me explain.

Watching the wreck that was the Madonna halftime show at the Super Bowl, the first thing I did was reach for my laptop to see what my followers were writing on Twitter. I follow around 330 people, of whom about 50-75 were tweeting about Madonna. Monitoring my stream closely, there wasn’t one positive comment about Madonna’s performance. Not one. Not even a borderline positive comment.

Now check this out: some CEO marketing hack (Mark Ghuneim) from an outfit called Wiredset says that Madonna’s performance had 59% positive, 31% negative, and 11% neutral response on Twitter. How’s that possible?

Am I following very negative people because I’m a negative person (not that there’s anything wrong with that!)? Maybe the people we follow on Twitter does say something about us.

Here are the two Tweets I wrote about Madonna:

Betty White should have done the half time show. #superbowl #nfl

Madonna has chronic fatigue syndrome #superbowl

Did you read any good Madonna take-down tweets?

Trailer Parks and Parking Lots

Last night was a double feature: 3 episodes of Trailer Park Boys then taking in the documentary The Parking Lot Movie. There’s a symmetry there: testosterone and pavement.

A documentary can’t answer every question about its subject in 90 minutes, but sometimes there are omissions so gaping your mind wanders during the film. Parking Lot Movie, I’m talking to you.

For example:

  • How come no women work at the Corner Parking Lot? You’ve really got to answer why there aren’t any women parking lot attendants in the movie.
  • Increasingly parking lots are fully automated; take a ticket, put your money in a machine, and leave. Does the Corner Parking Lot have any plans to automate? Automation must have crossed the lot owner’s mind. Why hasn’t he done it?

You don’t know the Trailer Park Boys? Think live action Beavis & Butt-Head in a trailer park, Canadian style. Watch it and mainline pure stupid/funny.

Steve Jobs Introduces iCloud Storage System At Apple's Worldwide Developers Conference

Choose The Right Photo For Your Steve Jobs Tribute

Everyone is writing a Steve Jobs tribute article. I’m not, but I will give you the formula to selecting an evocative photo for your tribute. It’s pretty easy.

Grabbing Attention

Setting the appropriate tone for your tribute can be easily achieved by selecting the right photo.

  • Steve Jobs is dead, so you’ll need a black and white photo to signal the seriousness of the situation.
  • If you’ve got a nice photo but it’s not black and white, breakout PhotoShop and desaturate that thing.
  • Close-up photos are better, especially if it’s a photo from the past 5 years or so (you’ll want stay classy by not displaying his sickly body).
  • To distinguish the photo you’ve ripped off from another Website (like I did), try reversing the photo so Steve is looking at your readers from another angle.
  • If you’re writing about Steve’s early days, then you’ll need Woz in the photo.
  • If Steve has facial hair, that signifies Steve as the “rebel CEO”. Always a good one for business writers.
  • Make sure Steve’s expression is appropriate for your tribute: sad; shit happens; contemplative; genius.
  • If Steve’s looking directly at the camera, that’s better. Dead people staring at the camera lens captures reader’s attention.
ground-zero-9-11-memorial

Two 9/11 memorial designs that should have been built

I was this close to getting my radical, hair brained 9/11 memorial design built on ground zero.

In the spring of 2003 I was taking the graduate course “Memory and Tragedy” with James Young, a professor of English and Judaic Studies at UMass Amherst. Around the world, Professor Young is often consulted about memorials to tragedies. He was the only person from the United States on the committee that chose the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe design in Berlin. He’s a big deal, in addition to being a smart dude with a dark sense of humor.

One class in April Professor Young was 20 minutes late, which was unprecedented, but he had a good excuse: he’d just been asked to be one of 12 jurors of the September 11th Memorial Design Competition.

It was a timely opportunity for the class to explore what kind of memorial should be built. Professor Young led a few conversations about the nature of this future memorial. I think the first question was, is it too soon to design a memorial? What the hell are we memorializing 2 years out from the events? Because the memorials that punch you in the gut hardest both reflect back on the events and have an eye towards the future, we thought about how design could reflect that at the ground zero site in New York City.

I had my ideas. Every week I’d come in with another memorial concept for Professor Young to consider. Here are my two favorites, that funny enough resemble the design that was built, though not in every regard.

  1. Like the memorial that was eventually built, both of my best ideas used the foundations left from the Twin Towers. They called them “tubs” because those walls held back the high water table. Idea number 1 is exactly as you see the current memorial except that instead of water flowing down the walls of the foundation, I thought oil should have been used. Because in 2005 our petroleum future was the reason we’d invaded Iraq — oh, do you remember WMD? Stopping Osama in Iraq before he washed up on our shores? — it seemed fitting that the memorial look towards our oil future.
  2. My second concept, like the first, used the foundation walls, except no oil was involved. This time the memorial was interactive of a sort: it would be a constantly evolving memorial that would be build over time along the foundation walls. With each new country we invaded to keep us safe from terrorism, a mural would be painted on the wall depicting battle scenes in that country — Afghanistan, Iraq, etc., into the future. My goal was to design a “living memorial” for the dead.

The memorial as built is good enough, I guess. Kind of boring, though.

Classic 1 Star Reviews of Classic Movies — The Wizard of Oz

There’s something funny about people taking the time to write 1 star reviews of classic films, but in this case, the film is both classic and benign: The Wizard of Oz (ranked #10 on the AFI list of best 100 American movies).

On with the show:

The only reason to ever watch the Wizard of Oz is if you are playing Dark Side of the Moon at the same time. (after the third lion roar start up dark side.)

I do not like the Wizard of Oz. For one thing, I don’t like to watch things with witches in them, especially if one of them is portrayed as a “good witch” – that’s an oxymoron I can’t reconcile with. For another thing I don’t like Judy Garland’s breathless diction or Frank Morgan – The star I give this goes exclusively to the Tin Man, who was always my favourite and still is. But I can’t stand sitting through this movie just to watch him, though I might if I could fast forward the other parts. It’s all just such fantasy fluff, and I like something that has a bit more reality to it. This falls perilously short of the mark. Don’t bother with it.

Irony high and irony low.

Low irony: the soporific singing, combined with a pure-schmaltz storyline, guaranteed box office failure for every theater release and re-release of this film. “Just as good the fifteenth time as it is the first.” Of course, the movie has had outstanding success on television. TV success: Bravo!

High irony: the didactic and gold-plated Message that “there’s no place like home” takes more time to deliver on the bonus material of the DVD edition than the movie itself. Some bonus! Of course this message, like all “Messages to Wayward Children,” is beyond any child’s care or understanding.

This is not a film for children, rather, one for the “child inside every one of us.” One might well subject our inner-child to serial viewings (“Just as good the fifteenth time as it is the first”) in a futile attempt to hammer home the Message. No actual child would willingly submit to such torture.

This film is troublesome on too many counts to list here but I will try.

First, the story is implausible. Oz is not the sort of place children dream of, usually they dream of running or flying or getting lost. The “Oz” story was already a tired conventional hackneyed subject and should never have been filmed in the first place.

The characters are argumentative and malicious, bogged down in their own fantasies and “needs”. No child is going to relate to a woodsman, let alone a woodsman who has had limbs cut off one by one and replaced by tin. (By the way, I never once believed he was made of tin.)

When singing is employed in film, it should be in the background; the characters should not be lipsyncing to the music unless there is a radio playing in the background.

The concept of a “straw man” refers to a malignant red herring thrown into an argument to confuse the debate. Children are not going to pick up on this, and those that do are too intelligent to be watching movies like this.

The fixation with Judy Garland — why? Plain, too fat, simpering and controversial. She had — too put it mildly — a bawdy life as a teenager, and was held high as a role model until the Troubles began. If children read her life’s story, their blood would curdle. Who needs that?

Classic 1 Star Reviews of Classic Movies — 2001: A Space Odyssey

Before I even read the one star reviews on Amazon, I knew Stanley Kubrick’s film, 2001: A Space Odyssey was going to be a gold mine. This classic movie gets people upset. Interestingly, among the one-star crowd, it makes people feel stupid. I could have given you pages of accusations of intellectual elitism. On the AFI list of 100 best American movies, it’s listed at number 15, which is a little high, I think, but nevertheless a great film.

Let’s get on what we’re here for; enjoy the one star reviews of a classic movie:

Maybe the movie is a little too deep for me. I enjoy deep movies that make you think afterwards, but this is taking it too far. By eliminating anything resembling a coherent plot with interesting dialogue, it makes watching this movie a chore.

I know that as a film student, it’s my duty to like this movie, but I’m sorry. I just can’t. I saw it in a theatrical setting (ie. hard chairs, full-blast surround sound, large screen, but only one bathroom break) and it was easily the most miserable 3+ hours of my life to date. Sorry, but I resent any movie that leaves me with a headache and sick stomach.

Oh my Good! [sic] this movie is bad! It is the most boring movie i have ever seen! Don’t even think about watching it!

Sure, some of the “art” shots of this film were great eye-candy. Wonderful. Now what? Let’s pretend that this self-indulgent piece of “art” is a masterpiece. Why? Because no one could make sense of it. INCLUDING THE ARTIST HIMSELF!

(So much for the sycophant/”psycho”phant who claimed “You’re stupid if you don’t understand this movie.”) That’s right, Chester, there WAS nothing to understand.

Kubrick himself said that the meaning of this film was for each individual to determine. “You’re free to speculate as you wish about the philosophical and allegorical meaning of the film.
S. Kubrick” Well, Stan, if you had nothing to say, why did it take over two hours to say it?

Art is not good because people don’t understand it. Art is good because people DO understand it.

Classic 1 Star Reviews — 2001
Courtesy of the Website If we don't, remember me.

Is this the film that made current film critics think they had a talent at picking good films because they liked this one. Maybe I’m off my rocker (actually I slept through most of this one in my rocker) but this film can’t be the seminal moment in science fiction movies. This one makes almost as much sense as that other “great” science fiction epic, Rocky Horror Picture Show.

First, a note for reviewer J. Pauley, who has been nothing but rude to those who do not care for this film-

J. Pauley,

Though you insist upon licking the boots of the director you have yet to offer anything in the way of helpful commentary. All you do is ridicule those of us who dare to stain the honor of your dearly beloved Kubrick. If you have some great answer to the objections put forth by the “have-nots” who don’t care for 2001 then by all means let us in on the secret. And please be specific. You seem to love being derisive now let us see if you really have a clue.

To all of the other reviewers who liked this film and are upset in any way by our dislike of the same, or simply feel like being helpful, I would also extend a heartfelt invitation to tell us where we have gone wrong. I am earnest in this invitation and would like an honest discussion with you and will carefully consider your thoughts. Please, bear in mind that many of us fully understand the “deeper meaning” behind the film and still found it (other than the stunning visuals and HAL) to be a bore. Please steer clear of the “higher ideals and language” as some of my fellow reviewers are not philosophy majors and do not care to be beaten to death with over long explanations of a film they already do not like. Be direct. Be specific. Be respectful.

Thank You,
Ross

I couldn’t wait to get this fine example of self-indulgence off my hands. This is precisely why directors shouldn’t be given too much control over a movie. The movie can be summarised thus: Apes, Docking Sequences, Light Shows.

Most of the scenes are long, dull, and pointless. Even Kubrick himself said he wanted the film to be “enigmatic” (I think it’s in the DVD liner notes). Which to me means he wasn’t trying to say anything with the movie, and was hoping some people would regard it as a work of art, and hopefully, elevate it to “great movie” status.

I’ll admit to being influenced by by Roger Ebert’s review when I decided to buy the DVD; he thinks it is one of the “great movies”. Curse you Roger Ebert! May you spend the rest of your days watching docking sequences and stupid light shows!

On The Appalachian Trail — You Won’t Believe The Evolution In 21 Years

I‘m grateful to Bree Carlson, a friend currently working on her thru-hike of the Appalachian Trail, for taking the photos above (they’re stitched together). They’re full of surprises, but to understand what’s happening you’ll need some context.

When thru-hikers get to the ceremonial halfway point — the Appalachian Trail Conference in Harper’s Ferry, WV — they take a photo. In the old days, like 1990 when I rolled through, Jean Cashin of the ATC used a Polaroid instant camera. Today it looks like they’re using a digital camera. A hiker’s pedigree is written on the photo: real name, trail name, residence, date of the photo, and the hiker number that season. The ATC counts of all the thru hikers that come to the office, every year. Unlike 1990, it looks like they’re also including the start date and email address of the thru-hiker.

Two Suprises

First, if you didn’t notice, Bree had her photo taken 21 years to the day after mine, on June 14. Sitting here in Massachusetts, I think that’s a little trail magic. It’s a positive omen. Watching Bree from afar, it tells me Bree’s going to finish her thru-hike. It’s not just about coincidence. I had different kind of good omen the first week I was on the Trail, and I rode it all the way to Maine.

Surprise number two: look at how many people are thru-hiking! Bree is hiker 424. In 1990 I was 99. That’s a 328% increase in the number of hikers at the ATC by June 14. Walking in 1990 I met another thru-hiker every 4 or 5 days, but today it’s a crowd. It’s hard for me to believe the increased popularity in thru-hiking, because walking more than 2,000 miles, from Georgia to Maine, isn’t a stroll through the woods. It’s hard work. Why are so many people hiding out on the Trail?

And I bet the little businesses that grow-up along the Trail are probably doing well.

Update: The ATC recently went live with a new hiker photo archive — they’ve scanned all the photos from 1979 to the present, tagged them in a searchable database, and it works. Here’s my photo page with info about the other hikers in the photo. And below, the uncropped photo:

1990 @ ATC office - photo probably by Jean Cashin

Top photos used with permission of Bree Carlson.

Grabbing The Right People — Targeting Your Ads With Thesis And WordPress

One of the most annoying experiences on the Web today is being delivered the wrong ad at the wrong time. It doesn’t ruin my experience, but I’m always shaking my head, wondering why the programmers didn’t do a better job.

I was thinking about that during some redesign around here, then decided to solve a problem: deliver my Thesis affiliate image ads only to people that were reading posts related to the Thesis framework. Personally, I don’t like my site cluttered with ads, but at the right time, in the right place, to the right person, I want the flexibility of including an advertisement.

There are probably many other ways to do this, so if you have something interesting to share, please write a comment below. Now I’m going to show you how I did it.

First, you’ll need to have all your Thesis posts slapped with the same tag. You could do the same thing with categories, but I didn’t. I use the tag “thesis”. That’s how I target the right audience.

We’re going to drop some code into either the custom_functions.php file, or using the time saving plugin Thesis OpenHook, at thesis_hook_after_post. I’ll show you how to do this with OpenHook, but using the custom_functions.php file can be done too, with a little more effort.

Using Thesis OpenHook, look for thesis_hook_after_post and drop the following code in there:


<?php if (has_tag('thesis')) { ?>
<p style="text-align: center;">
<a href="http://www.shareasale.com/r.cfm?b=202503&amp;u=520806&amp;m=24570&amp;urllink=&amp;afftrack=">
<img src="http://www.shareasale.com/image/24570/468x60.png" alt="Thesis Theme for WordPress:  Options Galore and a Helpful Support Community" border="0" />
</a></p>
<?php } ?>

thesis-openhook
screenshot of Thesis OpenHook interface
See that first WordPress conditional tag there, has_tag('thesis') — well, some people might have tried using the more common, is_tag(), but they would have been wrong. The difference between the two conditions is that one looks for a binary condition — yes or no — while the other, has_tag is looking for a positive result among many possibilities. Trust me, this is the way you want to do it.

After the beginning — <?php if (has_tag('thesis')) { ?> — you can drop in your affiliate code, what ever it may be. Of course, this method doesn’t only work with Thesis affiliate links. You could use Amazon code in their for book reviews, for example. I’m sure you can think of many other applications.

And you don’t have to put the affiliate code at the end of a post. Using Thesis hooks you can drop it many other places, at the right time, for the right person.

Do you have any other suggestions on how to target ads using Thesis? Drop a comment below.

Photograph by Hans Splinter and republished here under a Creative Commons license.

Classic 1 Star Reviews of Classic Movies — Taxi Driver

After last week’s look at Raging Bull, I couldn’t resist another batch of reviews from the one star minds glowering at Taxi Driver (1976), another Martin Scorsese film.

Robert DeNiro and Jodie Foster the two most overrated actors, and Cybil Shepard was sleeping with a big Hollywood producer at the time. The actor that should have gotten allocades was Harvey Keitel who consistantly brings fine performances and never gets any credit. Well that’s show biz for ya. This was one of the most overrated movies of the time, I saw it in the theatre and fell asleep 1/2 way through. All the ingredients were there to make a interesting movie, wacked out vietnam vet, teenage hooker, sleazey politician, vapid blonde bimbo, what the heck happened?

Overrated piece of !@#$. Absolutely NOTHING happens in this movie other than being forced to listen to the same incredibly cheesy music over and over and over again. After an hour and a half of wondering if anything is ever going to happen, DeNiro shoots a couple people. The end. Wow. What was all the hype about? Genius? Artsy? I don’t see it. Don’t waste your time. Is this movie highly rated for any other reason than being one of DeNiro’s earlier films?

“Taxi Driver” changes gears so many times you really don’t know where this film is heading. It makes so little sense and De Niro’s performance is so uneven, you don’t know if he’s doing it on purpose or he’s just a bad actor.

A good date film? No, it will kill the mood. A comedy? You may laugh once but probably unintentionally. An adventure? Only if you consider watching the trials and tribulations of a wacked out taxi driver adventurous. This film is all over the place and it never lets you get a grip on what the director is trying to tell you. Oh sure, now, they tell you that it’s a genius of a film but while you’re watching it you’ll swear that the writer and director were using illicit substances while making this nonsense.

Anyone that can’t write a screenplay at least as good as this in one day, simply isn’t trying very hard. This movie is a tragic waste of time and your wife or girlfriend will leave the room while you sit there hoping it’s going to get better. Well, guess what. It won’t get better and you shouldn’t even spend one second giving any thought to renting or buying this over-hyped, over-acted lobotomy of a film.

This movie could have gone down in history as one of the all-time greats. Up until the last 30 seconds, I was eagerly awaiting the end of this great film when BAM! It ended! Just like that! What Happened! He adjusted his mirror? What does this mean? I am rather good at deciphering the meanings of films (check out my review of Brazil) but this one has me stumped. The reason I give it one star is because I feel that a lackluster ending is inexcusable. If someone e-mails me the meaning, I’ll be glad to change my review. But until then the rating stands!

I’ve wanted to see this movie for years, so I finally bought it. It was awful. The acting is great, but the plot line meanders all over the place. Jodie Foster is saved from a life of prostitution by a whack cab driver in an all too bloody shootout. I have nothing against sex and violence when it serves the storyline, but everything here was gratuitous, and the storyline seemed to wander all over the place. There were endless of DeNiro driving his cab, as if we needed to be reminded he was a cab driver. In the end, Jody goes back to her conservative family, and the wacko is hailed as a hero. Better she should have stayed on the street. The world doesn’t need more yuppies. I was really disappointed with this story. If you thought Pulp Fiction was art, you might like it. I prefer a plot line that wasn’t thrown together on the run.

travis-taxi-driver-ifwdrm
Courtesy of the Website If we don't, remember me.

How Bruce Springsteen learned what’s most important to the economy

While working on a writing project, I had to create a transcript of a 1998 interview that Charlie Rose had with Bruce Springsteen. This is an answer he gives in the 60 minute interview, about the central idea in his writing: work.

My music, because of what I wrote about, always had political implications. I suppose that came up originally out of my home life, my experience growing up, and my relationship with my father. And trying to understand the concept of work, and how work plays a central role in your life. I had two real, very different examples. My mother’s relation to work was very joyous. Very happy. It provided the entire family with stability. What she gained from it was an entire mode of behavior. You get up in the morning, at a certain time. You prepare yourself. You get yourself ready to go to a job. You walk down the street and you’re there at a particular time of the day. And you interact with your co-workers. And that’s a big part of your social life, your work life, and your place in the world. You’re doing something that has a purpose. There’s a reason you’re there besides just feeding your family. You’re a part of the social fabric. You’re what’s holding the world together. You’re what’s holding the town together, that’s holding your family together. I always remember that she walked with tremendous pride and strength, enormous strength, and it gave such great comfort, such great great comfort to a child. That makes sense. I understand that.

My dad had a different experience. Work was involved with pain. He lost his hearing when he worked in a plastics factory. Lost a lot of his hearing. He struggled to find work and go to work. The regulation of behavior that work provides wasn’t a big part of his life, and that was painful for everybody involved.

That’s essential. That’s central to the way that we live and think about ourselves, and who we are, and the place we live in. And so I saw both sides of it. I saw what happens when that’s not present there is pain, and there is anger. And deep, deep … it’s a destructive force. You wither away. You waste away. You don’t know where you’re going or who you are, and you take that out on the people that you care about. And that’s something you don’t want to do. But it happens.

So that’s what I wrote about. That was really really important. It’s the single thing that I’ve written about, my entire life, that fundamental idea. The importance of that idea in society. The cost of not providing that for … whether it’s for people to be able to take care of their families, to have productive jobs. The debasement of ourselves, in not having a society where that’s provided to all our citizens.

It all grew from there. It grew from my experience, and my trying to sort out my experience. I didn’t grow up in a political household. I didn’t have some particular ideology, or be a political person from where I came from, but I needed and wanted to write about those things because they were essential. A lot of my music has grown out of that place over the years.

Photo by Barack Obama and republished here under a Creative Commons license.

Classic 1 Star Reviews of Classic Movies — Raging Bull

I’m just learning how to edit some compelling posts with this new feature. At first I thought all the classics would have great (read: head knocker) one star reviews, but that wasn’t the case with Casablanca. There were no reviews composed on planet I’m-On-My-Meds-I-Really-Am.

Here’s a more controversial film, Raging Bull. Now that has to have interesting scribblers dropping opinions:

Martin Scorsese isn’t a bad fellow, and he has a lot of talent, no doubt, but his influence on young American moviemakers has been entirely negative. The galloping illiteracy of this film, the first of Scorsese’s f-word festivals, has infected dozens of other directors and screenwriters, and has even spread to television, where we see a sewage backup like “The Sopranos” being acclaimed by many who should know better. The screenplay of “Raging Bull” is shot through with inaccuracies, and nobody who remembers Jake LaMotta performing on “Car 54 Where Are You” is going to accept him as a tragic figure. The real tragedy is the debasement of the English language and its inexhaustible variety by a film like this.

Just a few ways to describe this incredibly over-hyped movie. I sat down with some friends expecting to see a good film, hoping I’d get the Scorcese who directed Goodfellas and not the Scorcese who directed The Colour of Money. Well after sitting through hours of this sleep-inducing cypher of a film, I realised [sic] I had got something much worse. I still don’t understand what all the fuss is about. The plot is pretty simple – supposedly about a great but flawed boxer, it’s really about a selfish bum who cheats on his wife, knocks his girlfriend around, beats up his brother, then fades from whatever “glory” he once had into a life of pot-bellied obscurity. Whopee, just what the world needs – another film about a selfish, greedy, stupid *loser*.

Why do I hate this film so much? I hate the characters, none of whom have any redeeming features whatsoever. I hate the artificial and pretentious black & white. I hate the ludicrous boxing scenes. I hate the moronic and self-indulgent religious imagery. So Scorcese is a devout catholic? Well the Pope is too but does that make this a good film? I think not.

I really can’t believe everyone has given this film 5 stars. Looks like another case of “oh, all the critics like it, so it must be a great movie”. “I coulda been a contender,” laments the lead character at the end of the film. Sure buddy, and Porky Pig coulda learned to fly. Exploiting this line from a *genuine* classic is just the last straw.

The final verdict? Watching this film the cinematic equivalent of wading through a cesspit. That said, if you’re suffering from insomnia, I think I might just have found a cure…

Yet another exampled of a ‘great’ movie that is highly overrated.

La Motta was a jerk. Plain and simple.

The movie is well recorded, but that is it.

If you know why this is a ‘great’ movie, please email me and let me know.

I’m a boxing fan and train often but I have no idea why people like this movie. It’s a story about a cocky, arrogant jerk who likes to abuse the people around him both mentally and physically. Most of the movie is of him degrading women, screaming profanities to them and hitting them. In one scene he beats his own brother badly in a jealous rage, stomping him and then slugs his own 20 year old wife. The only thing I learned from this movie is that Jake Lamotta was one horrible person. This movie does nothing for boxing.

Lousy movie. Almost as bad as Lost in Space. I found it very amateurish – particularly the unsubtle operatic opening – and sunk with the weight of its own pretensions. I was a big De Niro fan after Godfather 2 and he’s probably the only interesting thing about this movie. But I couldn’t stand the little guy who swears a lot. Watching this movie was like being hit in the head repeatedly with a sock full of vomit. If it’s a good boxing movie you’re after try Fat City. Guaranteed no pretensions. And no overeating.

Join a CSA and you’re going to know A LOT about the food source

I received Riverland Currents this morning, the weekly newsletter from the CSA (community supported agriculture) I joined this year. It was interesting, though not exactly what I was expecting. Actually, I’m not sure what I was expecting. Maybe news about how a tractor broke down, the weather was too hot or too cold, too wet or too dry, or maybe even photos showing off the sun tans the farmers have already developed?

Instead, the newsletter had a lot of talk about maggots of all varieties: seed corn maggots and cabbage root maggots, among others (the photo above is of maggots eating broccoli roots). The details about maggots and their prevention!

This has been a threat for us every year so over the last 2 years we developed a system to deal with cabbage root maggots which involves getting row cover on the crop the very same day we put it in the ground. The row cover acts as a physical barrier preventing adult maggot flies from laying eggs on the plants that in turn hatch into maggot larvae and feed on the roots of the young seedlings. After two years of great success using this row cover method this year we inexplicably were still hit hard with root maggots underneath the row cover.

Impressive stuff. I guess that’s part of what you pay for with a CSA share: information about the food source. Though I never thought about maggot news. When you’re shopping in a big grocery store with little signs proclaiming “local produce!”, they never mention maggots next to the photo of some hardscrabble Farmer Brown.

Photo by mcav0y and republished here under a Creative Commons license.

Local television news will show a lot, but tell you little about a tornado

Do ever feel like you know less about what’s happening in your community after watching television for a few minutes. That happened to me when I was watching the local news stations, WWLP, WGGB, and CBS3, about the tornado that ripped through Western Massachusetts.

It’s often true, we do know less, or at least no more, after watching much of television news. The exceptions are rare, when television news reporters give relevant, useful information to the local community in the aftermath of natural disaster. After the tornado in Springfield and surrounding towns, 90% of the television news was pure bullshit.

This happens because images — photos or video — often can’t tell us what we need to know (I didn’t say what we want to know), like: how my neighbors and neighborhood is, who’s hurt, where are people gathering in the aftermath, or who do I contact if I’m hurt. An image can’t give you any of that information. A person does. Of course a person can talk over images (called a “voice-over”), and the Springfield news stations did a lot of that, to useless effect. Mostly. There’s a problem with voice-overs: if you don’t have information to tell your viewers, the segment turns into “oh, look at that roof! Look at that tree! Oh, that car was flipped over!” It’s kind of like watching auto racing for the car crashes.

The difference maker

There was one exception to the typical television news coverage in Springfield, a report done by Bill Shields on WSBK TV-38 during their 9pm news. It was an exceptional report for a number of reasons. He was on the phone without video speaking to the news anchor back in the Boston studio. Shields was reporting, using only his voice, on things he experienced. The segment lasted about 5 minutes, which is long. Most local news segments don’t stretch longer than 90 seconds. His reporting was gripping: he described both details and the big picture, he was personal, and he put his witness into a context of 30 years of news reporting in New England. Thirty years?! How come Bill Shields hasn’t been laid off yet?

What’s to be done about our crappy news?

Not to be a pessimist, but not much can be done. There are too many obstacles to making change, most of them economic. For local television stations the number one profit center is their news broadcast. They’ll never take a chance on improving the news product if it means possibly disturbing the bottom line. In fact, despite the well meaning and sometimes dedicated news folks, the television news has turned into entertainment. Mostly, it’s the amusement hour.

If you’re interested in a aftermath video, here’s a good 3 minutes a guy shot on the way to work.

Photo by Massachusetts Dept. of Environmental Protection and republished here under a Creative Commons license.

Classic 1 Star Reviews of Classic Movies — The Godfather

I have a new feature for you: once or twice a week you’ll find Classic 1 Star Reviews of Classic Movies.

People think strange sometimes. They don’t always agree with the movie critics, directors, and the historians that the American Film Institute pulls together to create their top 100 lists [Wikipedia]. Sometimes people are just haters, I guess. Who are we to judge? Let’s not judge, but enjoy how their minds work.

Here are some one star reviews of The Godfather, released in 1972 and directed by Francis Ford Coppola.

When’s an editor when you need one? This movie is so long that I played it on my TV, drove across the state, and when I came back, it was still playing. Since when is a movie this long? Movies are supposed to be 1:30-2:00 hours long. Plus this movie is as boring as a trip to the doctor’s. No good violence, no hot sex scenes, and furthermore, it stereotypes Italians.

“The Godfather” has an ugly consciousness and a mean spirit. I see no justification for it, thoroughly disliked it, and have tried to forget it.

I did indeed sit through all 57 hours of the Godfather and not only is it one of the most boring movies ever made it’s completely pointless garbage. I have no clue why it’s considered the greatest film ever made but then again most people are dumb so yea no suprise [sic]. The only good thing about this film is the music, if you haven’t seen it don’t buy into the hype that’s all it is hype… BUT if you have insomnia put this movie in you should be asleep within the first 30 minutes.

I finally saw this movie with my family and after an half hour I was thinking of running out in the middle of rush hour traffic, that would have been more exciting than watching this all the way through…but I watched it anyway.

This movie was so violent I couldn’t believe it! On a scale of 1 to 10 on the violence in this movie I would give it a 9!

Courtesy of the Website If we don't, remember me.