Monday, June 30, 2014

1985: A Special Year At The Cinema

It's hard to believe 1985 was nearly 30 years ago. I can remember it as vividly as yesterday. Many, many awesome movies were released that year. I look at the movies thus far released this year and in 1985 and I see such a huge difference I'm quality and originality. It seems like many of those 85 films were classics, trendsetters and must-haves.

Director-wise, it seemed Stephen Spielberg, Robert Zemekis and John Hughes were the big winners. Actor wise, that nod goes to Michael J. Fox,,Sylvester Stallone, and the "brat pack", including Emilio Estevez and Ally Sheedy. You had the classics such as Back to the Future (the highest grossing film of the year), and Teen Wolf, both starting Fox. You also had The Goonies, The Color Purple, and the two John Hughes's classics, The Breakfast Club and Weird Science.

Sequels were of course part of the year and seemed to be better then. Rocky IV came at an important time, during the US's Cold War with Russia. There was also Rambo (First Blood Part II), both movies starring Stallone..There were also sequels of horror tales Nightmare On Elm Street and Friday the 13th. Comedies such as Police Academy, National Lampoon's Vacation and Porkys also were given encores during this illustrious year.

Other movies of note that released were Sesame Street Presents: Follow That Bird,  St. Elmo's Fire, Mad Max, Pee-Wee's Big Adventure, Cocoon, Out Of Africa (which won Best Picture), Brewster's Millions, Commando, Krush Groove, and The Last Dragon.

It is without question this particular year raised the bar in cinema and really put actors, writers and directors on notice. This was also around the time movie rentals became popular, meaning you could rent or buy a movie on VHS and watch it over and over.

The times had changed, and nearly 30 years later, the industry evolves. It is watered down by lack of creativity, over saturation of acting jobs, and big name actors turning down major roles. Here's to 1985, one of the great years where actors truly loved to act and showed their passion well.

What was your favorite movie from 1985?  Did I omit a movie from this year that you enjoyed?

Revenge Of The Nerds: Comic Book Movies

This is the first in a multi-part series dedicated to the intellectuals, the geniuses, or "the nerds".

The words "nerd" and "geek" aren't politically incorrect as of current. Don't be surprised if that changes in a decade or less.

It seems to be a Renaissance age for higher intelligence and intellect, after years of such people being persucuted, bullied, and even considered insane for their thoughts and theories. Their contributions to move the world and society forward have never been more evident than over the past decade.

One major contribution has been the comic book, and later, the comic book movies. Unless you were a small child or artist, you weren't considered cool if you liked Spiderman and The Avengers, and went to Comic Con. Stan Lee and the movie industry has helped change all that over the past 25 years.

Comic book based movies always draw in the crowds and the money. It began in 1989 with Tim Burton's Batman, and resurfaced in the 2000s with a string of successful Marvel comic movies. Many of these movies have become so iconic that Disney bought out Marvel a couple of years ago.

This year, in 2014 alone, three of the most popular movies have come from Marvel characters: Captain America: The Winter Solidier, The Amazing Spiderman 2 and the newest X-Men. It looks like the nerds have created box office and cinematic gold.

You are hard pressed to find anyone that says they don't enjoy comic book movies. They are action packed and have awsome storyljnes. Many Halloween costumes are from these books and movies, and many birthday party themes stem from comics. It is now cool to read comics and to go to your local comic dealer.

Stay tuned as I will delve further into the modern impact of the "nerd" in our society.

What are some of your favorite comic books and movies? Which comic book movies are you looking forward to next?

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Should Babies Be Allowed At The Movies, Or Be Banned

The summer movie season is in full effect. This and the Christmas holidays are when people frequent the theaters the most.

We have all sat in a theater and at some point during the movie heard a loud and annoying "waaaaaaa!" coming from an infant or newborn child. Oftentimes this happens so much the usher has to ask the adult and the crying baby to leave. 

Now why even bring the screaming infant to begin with?  Was the movie that good that you couldn't wait or you didn't care about not having a sitter? You would rather spoil the movie for everyone else and make your baby miserable. That is simply inconsiderate.

The solution is simple: if you can't get a sitter, don't go. However,  here's a better question: should theaters allow babies in the first place? They already know that crying is inevitable. 

An age limit would be a fine line, although there are already some in effect. One prohibits children under the age of six to watch an R-rated movie even with an adult.  But should babies simply be banned from theaters? Sounds simple,  but it's not from a business perspective. 

Theaters are trying to make money, period. From the tickets to the snacks,  they want to bank. Perhaps some could have a daycare option for a fee/movie or a fee/month for frequent movie watchers. Many of the larger theater chains already have this option, in such cities such as Denver and St. Louis.  There are already  Fandango and MovieWatcher discount clubs.  An in-theater daycare could be a happy medium, and a potential cash cow.

Not trying to get off topic here,  but many businesses have daycares and nurserys now: churches,  gyms, and even some workplaces. Other movie theaters, especially tones such as Regal Cinemas and AMC should take this into serious consideration.  It has had its hits and misses at other places.

Otherwise, you would have to ban adults with babies from attending,  or any child under four. Again it's a sticky situation, but one that can be resolved.

The movies are too expensive as it is. People don't go to theaters in droves as they once did thanks to Netflix,  bootleggs, and the simple hassles such as crying babies and other loud people.

So if you're a parent, I would urge you to be considerate of the rest of us. And if you want to see the movie that bad, get a sitter or try and start a daycare for theaters. It is sticky but doable.

Do crying babies annoy you at the movies?  For parents: what age did you begin taking your child to the theater?

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Hashtag Knowledge: #thisishowyoushouldusethissocialmediatool

Many use hashtags regularly in this social media driven world. It started with Twitter when hashtagging catchphrases,  trending topics,  talking about sports, television shows, and your favorite teams became popular.  Now you see these tags on all three of the major social networks: Facebook,  Twitter, and Instagram. Also, they're getting too long and out of hand. People are using entire sentences now and excessive tags in a post. It's become messy and clique'.

Here are some discrete ways to use hashtags in your social media posts and otherwise. 

1. Short but sweet.

You need not use one long as a summer day, as the example in the title. Use a buzzword or two that gets right to the point. Try quick phrases instead of whole, run-on sentences that have your former English teachers feeling embarrassed. Now I find it interesting that people use shorthand and slang regularly, but can suddenly construct a complete sentence within a hashtag. That seems odd and backwards to me.

2. Less is more.

In my post about Instagram last year, I touched on this point. Use five or less tags. Better yet, try to keep it to about three. More than five makes the post seem messy and distracting. It's almost like a cry for attention when you have about 50 long tags #really #attentionwhore #unnecessary #seewhatIdid #hotmess

3. Make them meaningful and catchy.

The original intent behind these was to further the social networking process. This is why when you watch a TV program,  you see a tag on the bottom of the screen. That gives you a starting point right there.  Now be creative and come up with some quick ones that grab attention and apply to many folks and your post. Examples are #workflow,  #turnup (which I despise) #God, #awesomeness #happy, and #epicfail. Use your emotions and your words.

4. Don't use them in a serious post or a remorseful one

Even hashtags have their place. If the post is one of a serious tone, perhaps you shouldn't be drawing attention away from it.  One colorful may not do harm, but it could be best to refrain from them all together. 

5. Don't get so obsessed with them that you are having entire conversations with them.

I have a longtime friend who I do this with for kicks. Nevertheless, try not to do this on a social media platform. Regular words do not go out of style,  and remember what the actual purpose of a hashtag is. It is intended to draw attention towards a certain topic, nog away from the discussion at hand.

Happy hashtagging! 

Do you use hashtags in your social networking?  How often and how long are your tags typically?

Monday, June 16, 2014

Selfie Knowledge and Tips

One of the many popular things to do with a cell phone camera and social media for many, many years has been the selfie.  This is taking a picture of yourself with your own phone. 

Selfies have taken a life of their own, as the front facing camera was invented years ago to help one capture a better angle upon themselves. Also, Ellen DeGeneres popularized the group selfie during this year's Oscars.

Here are some pointers and tips I have picked up along the way in taking selfies.

1. Cook your head and neck slightly downward.

This minimizes showing you holding the camera,  which is important in a good selfie. Also, it makes you look slightly slimmer.

2. Make sure whatever area you use, especially the bathroom,  is clean.

Approximately 75 percent of all selfies are taken in the car or the bathroom for some reasons. You look at the picture,  and all you see is the junk, mess, and clutter surrounding you. Please take of this.

3. Don't overdo it.

Take about one selfie/week maximum.  You need not take 100 selfies/day. It makes you appear narcissistic and self-centered.  Less really is more.

4. Use photo apps to enhance your selfies. 

Add funny effects, reverse angles, or several different photos in one grid. Allow your creativity to take over and simply be a master of your own masterpiece. 

5. Always adjust your lighting properly,  on your camera and the room.

This is all so vital,  especially for the front camera shot. Often the light and resolution are both dimmed, so increasing both can help you create a fine, visible self-portrait.

How many selfies do you take per day, week or month?  Do you have any tips to offer?

Monday, June 9, 2014

Cold Water Challenges: The Latest Craze and Danger

There always seems to be a craze driven by television,  music, the media, social networking,  and often all four. Remember planking,  those number games, and now even selfies. Now you are seeing these cold water challenges all over social media and even the news.

It started out as seemingly a good thing, given the summer weather and all. Many people I know that were/are doing it had sincere purposes.  They were raising money for charities , ALS, or their churches. However,  it has gotten out of hand and ugly as the phenomenon has grown nationwide.

Many people now are diving into cold pools, rivers,  sitting in buckets of ice, all trying to see who can withstand the freezing the longest. It has turned into something more annoying than a Facebook game. This seems like something daring Johnny Knoxville,  Steve-O, and the gang from Jackass would do. Consequently,  people have been getting hurt and sick,  trying to fit in with the crowd and help others simultaneously. 

Many cities and even water conservation societies have issued warnings and disclaimers due to this widespread behavior.  You can do it safely and innocently. However,  you can still get hypothermia during the month of June, and even drown. One must exercise good judgment and be cautious if you are going to join the masses keeping cool to be cool.

I am leaning towards not doing it. Most of you know I am not the type to follow the herd, and I do not like fads and social media-spawned games. Also, given all of the negative publicity,  it may be best for myself, and maybe you, not to partake.

Have you already did a cold water challenge?  Did many others you know participate?  Were there any dangers involved?

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Properly Choosing A Sports Team To Root For

We all have various and often unorthodox reasons why we root for the sports teams that we do. It could be family related,  the local team,  your favorite athlete,  or you simply like their colors and logo.

Now if you're confused on which team to root for in any sport,  no worries. I'm here to help you with unbiased pointers.

1. Don't jump on the bandwagon. 

If you go for the teams that are winning right now, you may be sorely disappointed.  Every team has a down year, or decade. It seems exciting and popular to root for the hot team and to rock that gear, but believe me, a true fan it will not make.

2. Look outside your area code and zip code

Don't feel obligated to cheer for the local team. Find a team that fits your needs, persona, and you will want to stick with long term. This should be a team that will make you love the sport more. 

3. Evaluate your requirements for a team

Yes you should have these. Here are some sample ones. They should be a consistent winner,  not necessarily a consistent champion (although that is nice). Your squad should be a tough,  gritty and rebellious one. The team should be one that defies all odds to overcome and win. They have a strong, loyal fan base for years. A rich history is nice and important.  Also, a good sports town (not necessarily a major media market) can be key. Either way,  know what you want and like to see, and go with that.

4. Don't feel the pressure of family and friends

They can have you all twisted up like "we've all been Cowboys and Lakers fans for decades". Go against the grain, and be the black sheep by choosing the team that no one else you know cheers for. Think of this: ten years ago, how many Clippers fans were there? Given all of the recent controversy, they are no longer team B in Los Angeles. 

5. Be true to your school

If it's a college team or a pro team with many players that went to your alma mater, this is an easier decision.  Therefore, be a proud alumnus and root for your school. This also eliminates having to root for different schools in different sports.

Why did you choose to root for your favorite sports teams? Do you consider yourself a bandwagoner? How do you feel about your local team?

Monday, June 2, 2014

Mistakes: Casting The First Stone

Do you ever feel like you are judged by one or two mistakes, instead of praised for all the good things you have did?

I realize this is graduation season. My simple message to those finishing school and entering the next stage in life is that people will scrutinize,  analyze and memorize your shortcomings. The key is to always do your best and respond strongly in the face of adversity. Simply put,  try to use your errors as learning tools and do not make the same ones twice.

It seems easy to get onto someone for making a mishap, when you couldn't have did it better, or you are tearing that person down to build yourself up.

The Bible says as paraphrased let he who is without sin cast the first stone. Therefore,  I say, if your house isn't made of glass and you are mistake free,  hurl those cruel stones at will.

We're only human so we will mess up and stumble in life's journey. Think of when you learned to walk. You started out crawling, then falling, and eventually walking.  However,  most all of us unintentionally trip and fall at some points in our lives.

So what do you do? Keep living, keep learning and keep loving each other. Help the other person up when they fall, instead of kicking them while they are down. They don't need to be reminded of the shortcoming or setback. You should help them prepare for their comeback.

I swear I didn't try to turn this piece into a commencent speech but it has taken that turn.  Life is cruel and unfair, and only the tough survive. Keep a strong support system and God on your side,  and every mistake and accomplishment will seem more meaningful and uplifting.

One thing is for sure, no one was born into the world without fault. Perfection and excellence is learned and practiced. Therefore stay at it and avoid the stones of those who think that one slip-up defines you. Become that definition of yourself.

How do you respond when folks pester you about a mistake? What is one of the most significant mistakes you have made?

Sunday, June 1, 2014

The Appeal Of Ratchet, Reality Television

Some of the most watched and talked about shows are also some of the ones that are low in quality from the acting to the writing.  Yet people watch these ratchet, ghetto shows regularly.  They are discussed via social media and even at cookouts and the workplace. It's show such as The Real Housewives,  Basketball Wives, and Love and Hip Hop that have people's attention. 

Anyone who knows me well knows how I feel about these types of show. They make people of color look ignorant and predictable. Networks such as VH-1 and now Bravo are capitalizing on this foolery and drama. The stars on these shows have book deals, appear on the cover of several magazines,  and are in the public eye big time. It's sad, disturbing,  and confusing.

Here are some reasons why these God awful programs continue to rise in popularity. 

1. Desensitization

People have been used to seeing this type of stuff for a while, and are quite frankly addicted to it. The producers and networks are like drug pushers.  They are constantly devising shows and ideas to keep the audiences watching and social media crashing. People are so used to it they find it hard to appreciate good television when it's on.

2. Economics

Not only are these shows bringing in money,  they're saving the network's money on auditions,  writers, paying high salaries to top actors.  They are building careers, rather than showcasing them.  These shows are in high demand, and many networks, even TLC, ensure they aren't in short supply. 

3. Lack of revelance

Part of the reason we are at this point in entertainment is because there is a lack of great shows, especially urban shows. People tire of turning to HBO, AMC, and Netflix for a quality drama or sitcom. At one time, Thursdays,  Sundays and Mondays were your must see TV nights. Now you don't have much selection except for reality shows and fake, buffoonish behavior that a five year old could conjure up.

4. Exposure in the wrong places

There are too many people that have a basic, ignorant side to them. They aren't trying to enrich their minds with anything except for acronyms such as THOT, and sayings and hashtags such as #rhoa, #lhhatl,  #twirl,  and twerk. It is exposing how some people are on the set,  as we as their viewers.

5. No one cares enough to take these shows off

At one time in history,  it wasn't hard to get a controversial, low quality show removed. Think of Beavis and Butthead, Jackass,  and even Family Guy. The shows that I'm speaking of display much more heinous behaviors. The problem is there is too much tolerance of these shows. Even the Boondocks has taken a dramatic dip in quality following Aaron McGruder's departure.  Not a hoot is given, people still watch, and the show stays on.

So the next time you say that there is no quality television on, do as I did. Ask yourself why this is, and how it can be fixed. It's not hard,  but it takes numbers. Otherwise,  the problem will grow like your grass you have yet to cut this season,  and you will have weeds and snakes. This problem is a potential epidemic and will not stop itself.

Which shows do you like to watch? Are they considered ratchet?  Why do you like to watch them?