Wednesday, November 30, 2016

47 Ronin (2013 Film) Review

 Since I'm familiar with Japanese history, I know more about the forty-seven ronin than most people do. Ronin are master-less samurai and the forty-seven ronin avenged their lord with honor. 47 Ronin isn't the first work based on the tale, but I was interested a little bit. Unlike some films with an almost exclusive Japanese cast, this one is all in English. The "odd one out" is Keanue Reeves who is suppose to be half-Japanese in the film, and he does personally have some Asian ancestry for those who are skeptical but it's not half. I heard critics were not kind to this one and I was expecting something grim and dark. I was surprised at first and not so surprised later on.  Did this one let-down those who love the classic Japanese tale?

My Favorite Photos: Johann and Dog

After my brother's Thanksgiving party, we went over to my wife Daisy's parents. Their cat Johann saw their friend's dog Boy (I never asked why they gave him that name) who is like a chihuahua mix. Like most dogs of that breed, they usually are very distrusting, but he warmed up to me very quickly. The dog and cat played a game where they seemed like they wanted to play but weren't quite sure of the other. Soon as the dog would get close enough I saw Johann lift up his paw. He usually would back up and get some distance. But he did get too close once and Johann hit him. The dog cried like a baby but he was alright. 

Fact of the Day: Ash Bats

Wooden baseball bats can hypothetically be made from all types of wood, but the most common by far is ash wood. Hickory, maple and bamboo ones are also popular. 

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Donald Trump Wants to Punish Those Who Disrespect the Flag

While the vast majority of Americans would never burn, spit-on, etc on the American flag, it's still freedom of speech. There have been supreme court rulings affirming this right. The U.S. government technically doesn't even own the flags these people are doing whatever to. You should be able to do anything you want to your own stuff as long as it doesn't potentially harm you or others. Trump wants these people thrown in jail and/or loss of citizenship. For the Republican Party, who has always preached against the threat of "Big Government" never seems to have a problem implementing fascism when they get power. It may be in bad taste, but it is and should remain legal. Who knows what civil liberties may be next? 

My Favorite Photos: Super Smash Bros on Thanksgiving

I had brought my WiiU and a little TV over my brother's house during the Thanksgiving event. Mainly because I knew my nephew Mr. C and Mr. K would be there. Mr. C finished his food first and he went to have fun in my niece's room. I told him to come over to the office and to my shock that he never heard of the game Super Smash Bros. before. Both of them were really bad at it, so I had to lose on purpose at times to make sure neither of them threw a tantrum, I make it where I won, then Mr. K, then Mr. C and the circle continued. By the end of the night they got much better, but they were upset that they had to go home. "One more game?" was uttered to their parents by both of them. My brother Steven asked what it was called, seems Santa is going to get them it on Christmas morning. 

Question: Under the Mistletoe?

One Christmas tradition I've heard about since I was a kid, but never seen actually happen (except when couples do it to be cheesy) is someone kissing someone under the mistletoe. While the tradition varies, the tradition originated where if a woman stands under the mistletoe then she must accept the kiss of any man or face bad luck. Stories and traditions all sound good reading them, but reality? Well I never had the courage to approach women like that, and I never felt right being one of those creepy guys anyway. I guess it's a good thing for all committed couples that mistletoe isn't really hanging all over the place like it is in Christmas fiction. People make stupid choices for the excuse of "traditions". 

Ever seen it happen? 

Fact of the Day: Mike Pence Congress

Mike Pence has been successfully elected to the Vice Presidency, and Governor of Indiana however he failed on his first two tries at congress. He ran in 1988, and ran again in 1990 quitting his job the 2nd time around. Having no source of income, Pence used campaign contributions to take care of his mortgage, get groceries, play golf, get his wife a car, and other things. While this technically wasn't illegal at the time, it was one of the reasons why he lost the election in 1990. 

Monday, November 28, 2016

My Favorite Photos: Back to the Thanksgiving

 During Thanksgiving, I was surprised not to see football on the TV. There wasn't a single local team playing so I'm glad about that. I don't get the point of watching teams you don't care about.  My brother played Back to the Future instead. There wasn't a single complaint until...

Sad Story: The One Bedroom Apartment

My first job was at a grocery supermarket, and after a few years I went to work for a better competitor. But I'd drop by to see some of my old co-workers. One of them, James had saw me and asked if I wanted to see his apartment which was right next-door. I was bored that day, so I figured why the heck not? At that point, I still lived with my mom so I wanted to see what it was like for people who lived outside of the parents' roofs. He had a one bedroom apartment, with two room-mates. One of them, Chris was also another co-worker, and that guy had so many siblings that he might of thought this was all the room in the world. The other guy was someone I didn't know but he was fat and worked for Hardees. Him and Chris had two beds in the room.

Fact of the Day: Jainism

Compared to other world religions, Jainism is tiny but in India it is a very notable religion. One of the most unique things about Jainism is the respect for all life among its members including not intentionally harming insects. Not only do they not eat meat, many often just go vegan, but some of the strictest believers won't eat something plant-based if a plant had died because of it. An apple or pear for example is acceptable because the tree lives on. 

Sunday, November 27, 2016

My Favorite Photos: Thanksgiving Cake

Every year I get a Thanksgiving cake from a supermarket called Publix. It's the only place I ever saw make these themed cakes for this holiday anyway. My sister-in-law Tiffany's much younger sister liked it so much she made sure someone wrapped her up some to take home. There was a little left over by the end of the night. I ate the rest the next day, and the day after that my wife Daisy goes "where's the cake?". She told me she didn't eat any at the event... Not my fault. 

Mr. 3000 (2004 Film) Review

 The early 2000's was a good time for Bernie Mac personally. He had success with The Original Kings of Comedy, and as well as The Bernie Mac show. It wasn't the greatest sitcom in the world, but I enjoyed and watched most of the series. I do remember when Mr. 3000 came out, but I never saw it until now. 2004 was about the time I stopped playing in the Little Leagues so I guess maybe I was just sick of baseball or depressed about leaving it. I don't quite remember to be honest. Unfortunately for Bernie Mac he died four years later in 2008 at the age of 50. I got the chance to see Mr. 3000 and I had hoped it would be decent.

Fact of the Day: Handicapped Germany

One of the Holocaust's lesser known group of victims were people that were either mentally or physically handicapped. Anyone that was deemed "incurable" were not considered to be of any value to society. Since any of these people could come from any social class and ethnic group, Germans had protested the mass killings arguably more than any other group. Leading the Aktion T4 program to be more secretive (or just swept under the rug) than others.  

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Painting The Walls in My Garage

 As most home-owners, painting is a reality for us. I've been meaning to the paint the garage, but things kept making me delay it. I chose Olympic One as my paint as it's rather inexpensive but coverage and durability are still fairly excellent. My wife Daisy wanted the garage "white" but I wanted it an official white that we could get again if we ever ran out of paint and needed to touch it up. We chose Frostine (AF-5) by Benjamin Moore, and had it color-matched into Olympic One paint. It's just a tad under a super-white, so it's not a real off-white. It's suppose to have a blue-green tone to it, but it's so faint that it doesn't look much different than just a regular white. The garage was in rather rough shape, so while most garage walls are either flat or egg-shell I wanted satin instead as it's far more durable than the other sheens.

Things I Hate: Misogyny

 In a realistic sense, women are from Venus and men are from one of those alien planets with monsters and destruction. There will always be differences between us. Historically men have treated women like dirt. You can't even spell women without "men" nor female without "male". How did almost every society on Earth was able to hate on roughly half the population and get away with it?

Fidel Castro Dead at 90

One of the last key figures of the Cold War, Cuban leader Fidel Castro has died. While he has been out of power for a few years (due to poor health, and his brother ruled in his place) not many think of Cuba without thinking of Castro. While many Americans grew to hate him, I never took the man very seriously. I was born right before the Cold War ended and his power and influence was that of a mouse once he lost the lion (Soviet Union) that had protected and aided him since his start. It was pretty obvious that any war he could start with the United States would result in his defeat from the 1990's onward. I really do hope that we will soon open our trade again with Cuba, and many Americans do not realize that we are forbidden to enter Cuba due to a ridiculous trade embargo.  

Fact of the Day: Lord's Resistance Army

Initially saying it was there to fight oppression from the government, the Lord's Resistance Army in Uganda is a terrorist group active since 1987. Led by Joseph Kony, the LRA wishes to turn the nation of Uganda into a Christian-theocracy ruled by the Ten Commandments. The group has committed almost every evil imaginable and they often inflict such evil upon children. 

Friday, November 25, 2016

My Favorite Photos: Fantastic Beasts

I took this photo of my wife Daisy after we got done seeing Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. She LOVES Harry Potter and this new prequel series was pretty darn good. She also wanted to see Doctor Strange but I told her that we can only see one movie per month in theaters. Be a heck of a lot more economical for us to wait and rent the Blu-ray.  

Norm of the North (2016 Film) Review

 Norm of the North came out at the start of the year, and I never really noticed until it a few months later. Until the other day, I had no idea what it was even about except the polar bear thing. My wife Daisy loves polar bears, and I saw that our local library had one to lend. I would have never (not even for a second) thought about seeing this one in theaters but I figured why not now? Well against my better judgement, I might should have listened to the critics. Because this one did abysmal with them. Not the worst film of 2016 "bad" mind you, but still not very respectable either. So where did this one go wrong?

Fact of the Day: Death of Prince Arthur

King Henry VII of England was known to not show much emotion (except anger) in public, but he was in utter tears and depression on the death of his eldest son Arthur. The young prince died of an unknown illness at the age of 15.

Thursday, November 24, 2016

My Favorite Photos: Slytherin Sweater

As an early Christmas gift of sorts, I got my wife Daisy a Slytherin sweater from Hot Topic. I always told her that's the house she should have been sorted into. I would have been a Ravenclaw. 

Fantastic Beasts (2016 Film) Review

 Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them is something I've been looking forward to for quite some time. It's a "prequel" to the Harry Potter books/movies but The Boy Who Lived and Lord Voldemort are absent and even the Dark Lord will never be in it. Instead it's set in 1926 and the hero is Newt Scamander, a character briefly mentioned in the books. While the Harry Potter series took place almost entirely in Great Britain, this one is set in the United States of America. Harry Potter lore let us know almost everything about British wizards and witches, but we knew almost nothing of the society of American magic. The biggest question is if  Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them holds a candle to Harry Potter's story? My fellow muggles will have to read on. 
 Newt Scamander is a British wizard who is far too old for Hogwarts. But he did go and was sorted into Hufflepuff House and was considered to be respected by even Professor Albus Dumbledore. He arrives to America with a briefcase which is really a magical house for creatures that muggles do not know exist. One manages to escape and he has to track him down. Once he's caught the wily creature, his briefcase is accidentally switched with that of Jacob Kowalski, a muggle who aspires to be a baker. He doesn't realize this for quite some time, and Jacob accidentally opens it up and chaos unfolds. Several magical creatures break free, and it's up to Newt Scamander to put them back where they belong. But he hopes that American wizards or muggles don't hurt these creatures before he arrives as he sees them as misunderstood. But there is a problem for the foreign British wizard in America. 
 And that is Porpentina "Tina" Goldstein, an ex-auror who tries to relive her old job and catches Newt breaking many no-nos for American wizards. He learns from her the word "no-maj" which means muggle or non-wizard. Tina lives with her sister Queenie, but still works for the American magical government known as MACUSA. And they honestly aren't very happy with him. However there is other things to worry about. Like a dark force that is capable of killing muggles and wizards known as an obscurus. There are also muggles that believe that wizards and witches exist and publicly protest and hope to shed light on their world to the rest of the no-maj community. But the worst is that the fearsome dark wizard Gellert Grindelwald is still on the loose, and the magical governments in America, Great Britain, and the rest of Europe are unable to find him. 
Overall I really liked  Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them but I'd say it's not quite as good as the Harry Potter films. But there was a lot of good chemistry between Newt Scamander and Tina Goldstein as well as Jacob and Queenie. I wasn't really interested in the magical creatures part, but apparently the new film series isn't suppose to be like that anyway. I hear that some of the sequels won't even have Newt at the center of the story. So while I really liked the original, I have a good hope for the rest of the films. Especially as the "end" is suppose to have (I think) the greatest wizard duel of all time. We'll just have to wait and see to find out. But I will say I really enjoyed Eddie Redmayne, Katherine Waterston, and Johnny Depp in the movie. 

Score: A-

Fact of the Day: Korean Economy

Like virtually all communist nations during the 1990's, the fall of the Soviet Union was a disaster for North Korea as their economy collapsed. This among other reasons led to a years-long famine which resulted in millions of deaths.  

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

My Favorite Photos: Spartanburg Food Court November 2016

Daisy and I went to the food court at the local mall recently. I've noticed nobody has taken over for Sarku Japan after they closed down. Which leaves only one Asian restaurant in the food court but there is a big Asian restaurant that is like an anchor-restaurant right nearby. Daisy usually gets food from Sarku Japan or China Star, but she got Chick-fil-A that day. 

Question: Do You Think Animals Can See Ghosts?

I am for one am very skeptical. Now dogs and cats (and other animals) eyes can be different from ours. Like dogs can't really see much color. Cats can see well in the dark. But can they see ghosts? Well for one, I'm not sure if ghosts even exist. And I think it's rather silly to think all animals can see it yet we cannot. Some claim their animals get spooked and act funny, but I had a dog for well over ten years and she did bark randomly at times. But it was mostly to noises from animals and people outside. When we moved into a house in the country with no real "noise" outside she never barked once.

Do you believe they can see ghosts? 

Fact of the Day: Cold Dog

In 1982 a Jack Russell terrier became the first dog to travel both to the North Pole and the South Pole. It will most likely never happen again as dogs are no longer allowed in Antarctica as they fear the dogs could spread diseases to the native seals. 

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Random Photo: Football Donut

In November Daisy and I went to Krispy Kreme for the first time in months. I noticed they had a doughnut look like a blue football. It's made to be a Carolina Panthers donut to honor the local team. Too bad the Panthers went from amazing to awful in just one season. Granted they've been doing better lately but I don't expect to see them at the Superbowl. 

Things I Like: Floetrol

Floetrol is an additive you put in latex paints that changes the chemistry enough where your paint doesn't have any brush or roller-marks. It's like a white liquid (that shouldn't change your color) that you have to mix with the paint until the color disappears so everything is even. While some painters can paint perfect, when you don't have years of hands-on experience this does help make up for the gap. You only need a little bit (5-8 ounces) per gallon so you can make it go fairly far. I've always been really happy with it. 

Fact of the Day: Mister Ferrari

The car company Ferrari is named after its founder Enzo Ferrari. 

Monday, November 21, 2016

Random Photo: Dogs and Cat

 With the death of my dog Zelda, I've been thinking about getting another pet. We went to the local animal shelter and took a look but we weren't serious. I think these two dogs are twins, don't you? If they aren't siblings that would be a crazy coincidence. I didn't really see any dogs that I really wanted but a few I wish I had room for. I did see a dog in there missing an eye. I usually end up feeling more sad leaving the place because of things like that.

Sad Story: Finding Jordan

 Every place I've worked, there have been many different departments and since you spend 99% of your time in your own, some things at work can go right by you. I came back from lunch one day and I see this guy just staring at me like he was ticked-off. I asked if he needed help and didn't say a word. He kept looking at me. He then walked over (slowly) about 20 feet and pointed without saying a word. One of my co-workers was lying on the floor as if he was passed out cold. If you really find someone on the floor like that, why find someone else? Getting someone help as quickly as possible isn't exactly difficult in the age of cell phones now is it? I had to check to see if Jordan was still breathing and he couldn't talk but made some grunts. I had to run to find the nearest person with a phone (as that other guy was about as useful as a screen-door on a submarine) and then let the manager know along with anyone else who could figure out what was wrong with.

Fact of the Day: Perkin Warbeck

Perkin Warbeck was a pretender to the English throne as he claimed to be a son of the Yorkist monarch King Edward IV of England. The real prince had most likely been murdered on the orders of Edward IV's brother who took the throne as Richard III but instead of a corpse the prince vanished. Using the possibility of the prince escaping, Warbeck pretending to be him and challenged the Tudor monarch King Henry VII. He was defeated and captured. Oddly enough Henry VII treated him well given the circumstances. After he confessed, he was kept at court though as a well-treated prisoner. After two failed escape attempts, he was executed. 

Sunday, November 20, 2016

My Favorite Photos: Burger King Hungers

Daisy was feeling like Burger King one day so I took her to one. They really have a good deal on their chicken nuggets. I've often noticed Daisy always picks the sweet and sour sauce 95% of the time. 

Question: Which Way To Hang Toilet Paper?

The great debate is often which way should the toilet paper face. I think most prefer the "over-hand" style, but I prefer "under-hand". I just think it's easier to grab the paper. 

Which way do you prefer? 

Fact of the Day: Food and Water

While humans have been known to survive up to 3 weeks without food, we need water far more often. The average person would perish after about 3 days with no water. Though there have been stories of individuals making it 8-10 days without hydration. 

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Random Photo: Strossner Goodies

We went with mom on a recent trip to the next city over in Greenville, SC and my mother loves going to Strossner's Bakery. Best baked goods I've ever tasted. I got my usual cupcake, Daisy wanted the turkey cookie, and we split the Ginger-bread man. 

Question: Is It Time For Nancy Pelosi to Step Down as Minority Leader?

Nancy Pelosi made history by being the first (and only) female Speaker of the House, but I'm really surprised she hasn't stepped down yet. Usually when one party loses power, there is a exodus of leadership and the new leadership becomes the new opposition but she still held on being Minority Leader for another 6 years. Over half a decade where Republicans have held on to the House like it was nothing even though to be fair gerrymandering does help. If we ever hope to take back the House, we need new leadership. She can keep her actual seat in the house if she wants. On the question of replacing her, there is a guy named Tim Ryan (Ohio) that wants it but I'm not familiar with him. I personally would like to see Kyrsten Sinema (Arizona) but I don't think she's had much to deal with congressional leadership roles. But I suppose that's one of the issues a lot of Americans have with politicians. These leadership posts are not elected by the people and it's usually a long climb and by the time they're at the top they are different (and much older) people. 

Should she step down? 

Fact of the Day: Goats and Curses

The Chicago Cubs were well-known for going through a 70+year drought of going to the World Series. Most blamed a "curse" set by a man named Billy Sianis who was kicked out for bringing in his goat. Funny enough when the Cubs won the pennant (which guaranteed them a spot in the World Series) in 2016 it was on the exact same day Sianis had died 46 years prior. 

Friday, November 18, 2016

My Favorite Photos: Let it Snow

While in Greenville, SC my mother wanted to see if this Christmas place was still around and it was. Everything was Christmas, except the stuff that was not Christmas. It's about half Saint Nick and half Big Lots. Apparently they open all year too. Daisy wanted this stocking for our new house with the polar bears. 

Gladiator (2000 Film) Review

 I was only 12 years old in the year 2000 but I recall Gladiator when it was relatively new. Over the years I knew of Russell Crowe as an actor but just never saw almost any of his movies. As such I never saw Gladiator for 16 years. I heard it did pretty well with fans and critics alike. Not quite universal acclaim but good enough. And it certainly was considered a great film as it was good enough to win an Oscar for Best Picture for the year of 2000. I don't know what kept me from seeing Gladiator except maybe the unfamiliarity with Russell Crowe and frankly everyone else in the movie. I noticed Richard Harris was in the movie as the old Emperor, a year later he would become Albus Dumblefore in the Harry Potter series before dying after the 2nd film. I just finished the first season of Rome which was about the fall of Roman Republic, but this one is set during the prime of the Roman Empire before Constantine got rid of the old gods.

Fact of the Day: Julius Vengeance

Julius Caesar was once captured at sea in his younger days. After a ransom, he was free. He then raised a fleet and captured the bandits. They had originally thought he was joking about crucifying them in the future but he made good on his word. Though it was mostly for show as it was just their bodies on the crosses, as he was more merciful and gave them quicker and less painful deaths. 

Thursday, November 17, 2016

My Favorite Photos: Longhorn Greenville

On my stay-cation in November, Daisy and I went other places in the local area. We went to the our sister-city of Greenville, South Carolina and Daisy still wanted to eat at Longhorn Steakhouse. It's her favorite restaurant as she just loves the steak. 

Sad Story: Social Eating

Like almost all of us, I've been in many work/social events where I've had the chance to have a lunch on the house but I rarely ever take them on the offer. Buffet restaurants are different because they want you to come back, but I really don't like social events with food because there are many things I don't eat, I don't like eating something I don't know what it is, and some people can't cook to save their life. And most good things get devoured by the crowd long before I pick up the plate. Now I almost always eat ahead of time. The straw that broke the camel's back was when I had a morning meeting at work, and the person who ordered breakfast ordered biscuits. And none of them were vegetarian. They also acted like it was no big deal to just take a sausage patty out of the biscuit and make that "vegetarian". My wife Daisy is one of those people where she'll take any chance to have food given to her, but when people talk about potlucks, picnics, and whatnot I stand not very excited. 

Fact of the Day:Triton Son

Neptune's largest moon Triton is named after the Greek sea-god of the same name. Triton was the son of Poseidon who was Neptune in Roman mythology.  

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

My Favorite Photos: Election Night 2016

Even though I don't volunteer much of my time anymore, Daisy and I are well-known among the leadership of the local Democratic party. Even though Spartanburg's inner-city is fairly blue, we live in a county with a flood of red-necks who vote against their own interests but not against their own prejudices. We got invited to the party at the Upstairs Bar which is the upper floor of a pizza place in downtown. None of us were really expecting South Carolina to vote Blue that night, but I was disappointed with Ohio and Florida, and really shocked with Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. It seemed that perhaps Clinton's biggest enemy was not Donald Trump, but the Bernie or Bust movement. Most of the swing states were razor-thin wins that could have been won if not for 3rd party votes and stay-at-home "voters". Like how Ralph Nader voters elected George W. Bush in 2000, the Gary Johnson and Jill Stein voters elected Donald Trump. Green party voters say that their ideology is more important, but I'm a realist and they isn't anything dumber than throwing away a vote. I had as many electoral votes as Johnson or Stein that night. Let that sink in. 

 Hillary Clinton was not the greatest candidate sure (and I honestly expected a defeat in 2020) but the electoral college (as Clinton nabbed the popular vote) elected a national embarrassment to be our next president. I'm utterly ashamed that Donald Trump has shown to the children of today that a man like him can achieve the nation's highest office and his smug face will be in the history books. A lot of Republicans are crying out saying we should give him a chance. Once he stops being a racist bigoted idiot who wants to put fascists and lunatics in his cabinet, then we might be able to show him some respect. Because honestly, he hasn't shown anybody else much respect. It's a two-way street and I didn't see any of them giving Obama a fair chance either.

Question: Do You Remember the Ice Cream Truck?

Now they obviously still exist, but they were a staple of my childhood. Since I lived half of my childhood without the internet, boredom would strike often. So being outside was common and I remember hearing the music. But it was hard to tell where "The Ice Cream Man" was as he could be across the block or down in an apartment complex nearby. The best part was that you can't find most of things on the truck at the grocery's freezer section. I always liked the ice cream with characters that had gumballs for eyes. They also had one with Looney Toons characters where you could collect the plastic pieces as they'd all feature different characters. Bugs Bunny was the Holy Grail of them from what I remember, but nobody from my brothers to our friends got it from what I remember. I do remember using a whole allowance once and coming home with a big paper bag full of ice cream.

Did you ever visit the Ice Cream Man?  

Fact of the Day: Great Hound

The Great Dane dog-breed originated in Germany. To the English-speaking world, the dog was originally called the German Boarhound.