Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Random Thoughts 7/31/13

  • The extended version of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, with 13 minutes of extra and extended scenes and gobs of documentaries, will be available on disc November 5th.  Please don't call me that that day; the new running time is 182 minutes of pure awesome.
  • Fantasy football is less than a month away.  Wow, the summer went by fast.
  • So apparently here in KCK soccer is a big deal.
  • Thanks to the public library, we binge-watched the first three seasons of "Downton Abbey."  In a word… wow!  I didn't think I would be that interested in what I assumed was a silly British soap-opera and I kind of avoided it for awhile.  But we finally sat down to watch it and I discovered it was a thoughtful, compelling, riveting show.  Downton has perhaps the best acting and writing on television.  I was also impressed that it was so popular and yet didn't have the vulgar, filthy content that American-made period pieces have, which are usually dripping in four-letter words and partial or full nudity.  I understand that a censored version of "Deadwood" or "Boardwalk Empire" is three minutes long and silent.  If you have any interest in the highest level of drama or WW1-era England, "Downton Abbey" is appointment viewing.
  • Update on my truck: I love driving that Nissan Frontier.  It helps that we got it for a song and it's mostly paid off but it's been 20 years since I had a vehicle that I really enjoyed driving.
  • This has been a year for reading fiction for me.  In 2012, I didn't read a single novel but this year I've read Ben Hur (1880), His Last Bow (1917), Ender's Game (1985), and Heart of Darkness (1899).  I wish I had time to read more fiction (or read it more quickly), but I'm just too busy.
  • Up next?  Dostoyevsky's Brothers Karamazov (1880) and The Idiot (1869), Agatha Christie's The Mysterious Affair at Styles (1920), and others.  Suggestions?

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Random Thoughts 7/20/13

  • Can you answer the questions on an American citizenship test?  Most of this stuff is basic high school civics stuff but check out these sample questions here.  I hate to think of how many Americans really have little or no working knowledge of this stuff.  You ought to have to take this test and get at least a passing grade before you can vote.
  • Check out this video of a DIY self-closing screen door.  With cute doggies, too!
  • This is the 44th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing. Sort through a few conspiracies here.
  • July 20th is also the day in history (1944) when Adolf Hitler was nearly assassinated with Claus von Stauffenberg's bomb.  Sorry, I mean it's the anniversary of Tom Cruise almost killing Hitler.
  • My wife is going to a New Kids* [*average age 43] on the Block concert.  In 2013.  Seriously.  I'll bet everyone really swoons when Joey (I think every boy band in the 90's had a "Joey" or a "Nick") takes a breather mid-dance routine because his 40-year-old knees are killing him.
  • Joss Whedon, aka the-best-television-writer-ever, is coming back to the small screen and he's bringing the Avengers with him.  His new show, "Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.", will air this fall and they showed the first episode yesterday at the San Diego ComicCon.  That loud THUD you heard yesterday was 10,000 nerds fainting simultaneously from sheer euphoria.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Random Thoughts 7/18/13

  • Pro tip for husbands: when your wife is trying to do something creative, you have no right to an "opinion," your sole purpose is to express unconditional love and support. 
  • Do you want to see extensive footage of Wilt Chamberlain playing for Kansas in the 1957 NCAA tourney?  The impressive highlights and a short article are here.
  • Andrew Wiggins is the new top-rated basketball player coming to Kansas University.  Andrew "Ender" Wiggin is the main character of Orson Scott Card's classic sci-fi novel Ender's Game, which is also being made into a movie to be released this November, at the beginning of the basketball season.  Ender's Game is about a genius young boy who is trained to be Earth's strategic leader in a war against aliens.  Ender's genius is that he is virtually unbeatable in war games and simulations.  If KU's "Ender" proves to be anything close to "unbeatable," surely Kansas fans will make the connection.
  • By the way, I finally read Ender's Game this summer.  What an impressive book.  I'm not, however, optimistic the book can be translated into a movie; the author once stated it would be impossible to put on film.  Go read the book.  
  • I hate to sound like a old farmer, but we need rain.
  • Detroit went bankrupt today.  I fear this is going to get worse before it gets better.
  • I sat out playing basketball this week because of my knee.  I hate missing it; but I promised my wife I'd take the week off.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Random Thoughts 7/13/13

  • Why do parents allow toddlers to play with their smart phones?  My iPhone contains contacts, calendars, messages and apps that I don't want deleted or even tampered with.  My iPhone is linked to my bank account and can potentially be used to buy all sorts of stuff in all sorts of places.  My iPhone is the means by which important people intend to contact me for serious things.  If my kid were deleting my apps, monkeying with my info, buying a car on ebay, and hanging up on my boss/clients/customers, I'd put an end to it before real damage is done.  After all, the world assumes that I'm the one using my phone.
  • I'm still trying to get the last few spots filled in our fantasy football league.  Specifically, I need a few people who had teams last year to confirm that they're playing again.  If you haven't played before, there might be an opening…
  • "Sharknado"?  Seriously, sci-fi channel?  This TV movie is surely a sign of the apocalypse.
  • It seems likely that George Zimmerman was jumped, wrestled to the ground, beaten in the face, and was having his head slammed against the concrete.  If Zimmerman can't plead self-defense, can anybody?
  • The liberal-leftist protests of the new abortion-law in Texas this week prove that Pro-Choice in NOT pro-woman.  It this were about women's health they would welcome reform to make abortions safer for women.  But the threat that these restrictions and reforms would lead to less abortions… that's too much.  Pro-Choice means one thing: getting rid of undesirable children.  Whether you don't desire the responsibility or you cringe at the thought of "those people" multiplying, the abortion industry has a the single purpose of eliminating those undesirables.  Period.
  • Some day there will be history books will cover Hitler's Holocaust and the abortion industry in the same chapter.
  • My wife bakes cakes, cupcakes, cookies, etc. and has been selling them very successfully.  Everyone thinks that means we're up to eyeballs in extra cake to eat.  Not true.  We smell all of these delicious treats being baked and see them decorated but, most of the time, Shannon makes exactly the amount needed and no more.  I've made several deliveries and wondered if the customer would notice they only received 23 cookies or 11 cupcakes.  Alas…
  • Read Mark Steyn's thoughts on the Zimmerman trial and the state of our justice system here.  He's witty and sharp as a tack; he's one of my favorites.

Friday, July 05, 2013

  • Want to see two great short films?  The first is a short documentary called Spitfire 944 about footage of an American-piloted Spitfire aircraft's emergency landing in World War 2.  The second film is a dramatized true-story set in a World War 1 shell crater and it's an absolute must-see.  It's called Rosso Fango (Red Mud) and, if you don't know the story, it will blow your mind.
  • Former KU center Jeff Withey is now a pelican.  Answers to your questions follow: 1) No, Jeff has not transformed into an actual pelican; any resemblance is purely coincidental.  2) Yes, there is an actual NBA team that calls itself the Pelicans.  On purpose.  In New Orleans.  3) Yes, this post-draft trade is probably good for him with some analysts saying Withey will step right in to a reserve position getting 12-15 minutes per game.  4) No, former KU one-and-done guard Xavier Henry is NOT still playing in New Orleans; he was let go.  Like many early entrants into the NBA, Henry has averaged a few points per game for a few seasons and is quickly fading into obscurity.  5) Yes, Withey whose NBA career is just beginning is actually one year older than Xavier Henry whose NBA career is already on life support.  6) No, I'm not a fan of allowing 19-year-old kids to go to the NBA, even if they are as talented as Xavier Henry or even Ben McLemore.
  • My key fob for my truck is completely dead.  I wonder if a button was being pressed all day yesterday while the keys were in my pocket.
  • There's another Hobbit video blog available here.  Be warned, the cast and crew seem a little slap-happy, get a little goofy, and let slip a few crude comments here and there.  But it's still fascinating to see the behind-the-scenes logistics it takes to make a major film.

Monday, July 01, 2013

Random Thoughts 7/1/13

  • Where do you go to watch fireworks around here?
  • Chris sent me this video of a Baptist preacher absolutely losing it, calling out individuals in his congregation, mid-sermon.  He ridicules people in his congregation, mocks them, betrays confidences, and is generally abusive.  It's awful.  As I was watching it, peeking through my fingers, I thought, "this is so bad, maybe he's having some kind of mental breakdown or dementia or apoplexy or something."  It better be a stroke or because that kind of awkward tirade should get a preacher fired.
  • My second thought while watching that preacher's meltdown: why isn't he just preaching his sermon? Does he normally roam the congregation picking on people instead of preaching from the Bible?
  • What worries me is that this guy kept puffing himself up and expressing ownership/control over the congregation.  How weird was that?  Is that how it works there?  The preacher is the savior for his little kingdom and it finally went to his head?  Weird.
  • What in the wrong is wrong with former KU star Thomas Robinson?  I don't really follow the NBA very closely but Robinson got drafted high last year but didn't seem to work out for his team.  So they traded him.  But he didn't seem to work out with the second team either, so he recently got traded again.  That's three teams in just barely over one season.  Twice now a team paid to get him, had him for a few months and then let him go.  That's not a good sign but perhaps there are mitigating circumstances I just don't know about.
  • I'm not sure how I feel about the new football helmets Kansas unveiled today.  I like the return of the Jayhawk to the helmet and I generally like an alternate or throwback jersey once in a while.  But I really don't think these look combinations look good (as much as it's been revealed so far).  I suppose I'd rather see a fashion train wreck on the field than the type of train wrecks we've witnessed in past years.