Mr. Peabody & Sherman – 4/5 stars

mr-peabody-and-sherman-posterAnyone from Generation X (my generation I should add) is likely to remember Rocky and Bullwinkle on television where you’d hear Bullwinkle open by saying “Hey Rocky, watch me pull a rabbit out of my hat.” That was the show we watched when our homework was done or after soccer games on Saturday. In the deeper recesses of our pop cultural memory, you find the sub-show inside that was the original Mr. Peabody & Sherman. It was sarcastic yet subdued. Perhaps the time gave it an air of university, peace, and love. Rod Serling? Beatniks? I don’t relly know how to explain it. The era was indefinable. In the show, the ingenious Mr. Peabody has “a boy,” the inverse of a boy having a dog. Yes, Mr. Peabody is a dog but he’s also a history buff, a professor, and a time traveler. This dog got it goin’ on! Still, you never get the impression that Mr. Peabody “loves” Sherman as his son. Trust me, I watched a bunch of old episodes on Youtube this morning and you don’t. Then there’s the new film. A somewhat different animal.

The film Mr. Peabody & Sherman (2014) creates the duo well and we are given much adventure in the process. Unfortunately, for this viewer who came with high hopes, it fails to recreate the cult feel of the 1959 animated shorts. It’s sort of like that but set to Jimmy Neutron styled animation. They also make a huge deal out of Sherman being his “son.” This gets odd, even for me an adoptive father. I think they took that “new” slant on the time traveling story and made it the bedrock of the movie, It should never have been added. The feel of the old cartoons was enough to build without additions. Still, the animation is incredible. The kids of today will also get some historical references they may have not heard in their short lives. I took all three of my kids and they seemed to enjoy it beginning to end. For me as their dad, that says a lot about how I will rate a family movie. 4/5 Stars.

Content but Still Hungry – Pushing Broom with Ambition

img001As a disclaimer: I respect all lines of work no matter how “small” or unnoticed they may be. An honest day’s work wins huge respect with me. Having said that, I think about people all day long. It’s a weird fixation. Sort like a spy I see sad stories all around me and I am often consumed by them. They are probably not always as sad as I perceive, or imagine, but I’m positive some are even worse. I am rich by some standards. My wife and I both have jobs to pay back our university loans. Together, we make a fairly decent income but would be considered struggling by some people’s standards. Really, I know people who make half of what we make but have low overhead so they actually have more disposable income. Anyway, I’m simply noting that I’m not complaining. The fates or luck or God, whatever your world view may be,  have all been pretty good to me so I am in a sense content. You’ll always find tons richer and tons poorer than any given person and I am no exception. The most important thing you should know about my finances is that my peace is not dependent upon wealth or fame.

But once in a while I find myself highly ambitious. I feel like I am still pushing broom after all these years of adulthood. In those moments, I don’t want to be a millionaire, I simply want a bit more than what I have now. I don’t think that is a bad thing. If I see a tablet PC better than mine, it would be great to hand mine off to a friend and go buy another one. Even though these cost $1500-4000. Many people seek to do this by mixed means. I would like to achieve this wealth through writing on my blog. I seek out ways to make that happen. I look into traffic building measures. I implement them. Most of all, I set up routines where my moody mind can sit and produce writing that is of value to you my readers. So far, the rewards have been pretty skinny but I can’t imagine giving up. I can’t imagine losing my periodical ambition. But this is just me. I know someone who is ambitious about her quilting. Another friend is a poet and a writer and he holds ambition well above the life support level. Then there are my waiters and people who scan my Pepto Bismol at CVS. What’s going on with them?

Does every person on earth want more than what they have or is the true gift being content? I think a combination is in order, for me anyway. I can say at my age, I’ll be 44 in June 2013, I am content with little or much. If I learned anything in my years with the church I learned that was how I was supposed to feel. I can say, Paul’s words took. I have learned to be happy with much and with little. Someday soon, I’ll give you my concept of God but this is not the place. I hope everyone out here in the High Desert is keeping ambition alive. Whether pushing broom or asking, “Hi there I’ll be taking care of you today, do you need a minute more with your menus?” these folks all need dreams. I want my blog to ramp up, what do you want? If you can’t think of anything, you really should get in the lotus position or even just take a walk and figure that out. There is no greater high in life than love and seeing ambition realized.

My Top Ten Blog Posts of 2012 – Blog On!

keep calm and blog on 8 x 10It was another fun year to blog. I made less money than I ever have blogging but gained insight and learned how to write much better than I ever have. None of these are movie reviews but 2012 was a year I made movie reviews prominent on my blog. In between you get opinions and topical stuff like the ten I’ve picked below. If you find the titles interesting, I hope you’ll read them. Happy New Year! May 2013 be the best ever for you and yours.

the Beat Generation as Adjective
Five Reasons Being Firm will Help with Teenagers
Average Number of Facebook Friends
The Many Reasons to Practice Relaxation
Positive Psychology
Don’t Jump to Conclusions – the story of the rocks and my neighbor’s wall
Be Kind to Others
All We Can Change is Our Self
The Restorative, Miraculous Moments of Meditation
A Brief Autobiography of Me and my Music

My Top 10 Favorite Films I Reviewed in 2012

Ruby Sparks is amazing and just one of my 10 favorite films I reviewed in 2012. My top ten list is here.

2012 was an awesome year for movies. From a magical typewriter that created a sexy girl to an orphaned chimp, there was much in the theaters of 2012 to make one feel and think. It was also the year I made my blog a prominent platform for movie reviews. Of course I didn’t review everything I saw, but mostly I did. Below is the list of my top ten movie reviews of 2012, linked to the reviews themselves.

  • Rise of the Guardians 11/24/12 Rise of the Guardians is a CGI animated film for children based on a book by William Joyce. It is built around the invaluable moral of believing in yourself.
  • Ruby Sparks 11/18/12 Ruby Sparks is a romantic comedy written by Zoe Kazan. Ruby is a fictional character thought up in the movie by a successful writer in his early twenties played by Paul Dano. Much to his surprise, one day Ruby comes to life and takes on the role of his real life girlfriend. After that a roller coaster of emotions and love lessons ensues.
  • The Perks of Being a Wallflower 11/11/12 Emma Watson and Ezra Miller steal the show in The Perks of Being a Wallflower. Miller often reminded me of a Jack Nicholson for a new generation. This book-turned-film pleases at every turn.
  • Argo 10/29/12 The film Argo is the story of how a CIA team rescued hostages from Iran. It is based on true events. In this film, the horrors of 1979 Iran contrast with the humor of making a fake movie making it both serious and comic.
  • Here Comes the Boom 10/13/12 There is now another “root for the underdog” fighting film to add to the movie archives. It’s also another try at a “feel good education” film.
  • Frankenweenie 10/09/12 You’d think death and grieving were topics best left for grown up movies like Ordinary People et. al., but these topics work surprisingly well in Tim Burton’s animated movie Frankenweenie. It is a highly enjoyable ride for families to the “other side” and back again.
  • Moonrise Kingdom 07/13/12 Moonrise Kingdom is a refuge amidst so many predictable and non-inventive movies out now. It tells a creative story line of lovers who thrive despite their antagonistic surroundings.
  • Prometheus 06/12/12 Prometheus takes us back to the time before Ridley Scott’s Alien. It fills in a few gaps for us as fans of the franchise and opens all sorts of curious new doors. It stars a relative newcomer who really packs a punch in her role. The actress who plays the tough and sexy Elizabeth Shaw, Noomi Rapace, is well known for playing Lisbeth Salandeteen The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo series (Swedish version).
  • Cave of Forgotten Dreams (Documentary Review) 06/02/12 Cave of Forgotten Dreams is a documentary directed by Werner Herzog in 2010. Many recognize Herzog as a gifted filmmaker who has made many documentary genre and other style films since the late 1960’s. The Chauvet-Pont-d’Arc Cave in the Ardèche department of southern France is a cave that contains some of the earliest known cave paintings.
  • Chimpanzee 04/27/12 Chimpanzee is a documentary film released by Disney. It was directed by renowned BBC nature film creators Alastair Fothergill and Mark Linfield. Only true specialists in this genre could have created such a sad yet inspiring and touching movie. This film features Oscar, a helplessly cute chimpanzee who has all sorts of adventures as an infant and small child chimp.

If you were looking for great movies from 2012, I hope my post has helped you out. I welcome and appreciate your comments here on my blog.

Our Species Must Prevent Further Senseless Shootings

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Mario Tama/Getty Images

Who was in charge of the movie theater in Colorado where people were gunned down? Who was in charge of the kindergarten class that suffered the same bloody fate today? I know the answer if it eludes you: WE, our human species, WERE THE ONES IN CHARGE. Until we accept the reins, this sick madness will continue unchallenged. How can this keep happening? How can we allow it? Is it as simple as a gun control discussion? I wish. Unfortunately it goes deeper into our psyche and in the weeds that grow there. Obama gun control may not be the answer but either way it’s time to do some gardening.

I believe the best criminal-division psychiatric minds need to get together to formulate questions and profile anti-social people who meet the criteria. Good people will tolerate this process in the same way we tolerate the patriot act. Grief and depression treatments are widely available and we hear of them being available to the victims’ families but we need to address these things before they happen. In that aspect, we are sorely lacking.

I am not a psychiatrist but I believe a list of questions to ask suspected “types” would save lives. I know this sounds draconian and similar to McCarthyism but I think we have no choice but to start profiling again. If the lives of schoolchildren aren’t enough to convince us we need radical measures, we are already dead though physically we live. Forgive me for presenting this incisive premise. I am a dad, a teacher, a beatnik thinker, and an artist. This shooting today has broken me down. This is the best idea I can come up with at the moment. Attention: Thank you for reading my slant on this, I welcome any and all others to share theirs in the comments. My heart is with the parents of the kindergartners lost today.

Average Number of Facebook Friends

I ran across an article on the way Facebook users meet new friends and found it interesting. If you have ever felt jealous of someone with more Facebook friends than you, it will probably make you feel better. According to Facebook, this page tells us the following information about the average Facebook friend counts and meeting people there:

  • Facebook has More than 800 million active users
  • More than 50% of our active users log on to Facebook in any given day
  • Average user has 130 friends

The average American has just 4 strong ties or real life friends and most have between 2 to 6. Compare this against our behavior on social networks. The average Facebook user has 120 connections.” That is over 100 friends on Facebook more than in real life. Check out this source on the biggest place to meet new friends

I have always told my wife I thought this was true so I wasn’t surprised to read it on a reputable source. When I searched further for average friends on facebook I found on Wiki and other sites that the average American has even less than 4 real life friends. This tells me people are deceiving themselves that they have more friends than they actually do. I could get into the  average Facebook friends and why they aren’t as valid but I’ll save that.

Perhaps we should attempt to have balance in our friendships and not allow Facebook to take all the energy we once spent on grooming real life friendships. Something to think about, I am certainly not preaching. Finally, most people who claim to have more than 1-4 real life friends is probably lying, according to the statistics. Remember, appearances are often deceiving and a LOT of attention starved folks are feeding their dysfunction on Facebook.