Movies Rant

Fred goes out to a movie

iron manIf you know me at all, you know I love movies. I mean, I REALLY love movies. But that aside, I no longer enjoy going to the movies. Maybe it’s me getting older… maybe it’s because I love my big-mama tv… or maybe it’s because I’m just a grumpy stubborn man, but it’s rare for me to want to go to the movies rather than see it at the house.

To get me out of the house and paying 11 bucks for a movie… it has to be a movie that excites me (like Iron Man, but let’s talk about that later). I mean after-all, for just 3 bucks more than a ticket price, I can sit in the comfort of my own home, have the ability to pause (rewind, etc), and more importantly – not deal with people.

I truly cannot remember the last time I was at a movie when someone didn’t use their cellphone. Ugh. But at least I know it’s a common problem, because now after some of the movie commercials, you get those director PSAs reminding you to shut off your cellphone. Normally, I always see Sydney Pollack… but today I saw Martin Scorsese’s version (I truly love Scorsese).


Ne te quaesiveris extra

You gotta love Ralph Waldo Emerson. Not the man, and not all of his writings… but some of them that is. I always loved parts of Self-Reliance. I say parts… as I’ve simply never been able to stand reading the entire essay from beginning to end in a single sitting. Why you ask? Writing style maybe… who knows… but parts of it I truly love. And I feel like quoting them…. for no apparent reason whatsoever. Maybe I’m just nostalgic for some 1980’s Reebok commercials.

To believe your own thought, to believe that what is true for you in your private heart is true for all men, — that is genius.

There is a time in every man’s education when he arrives at the conviction that envy is ignorance; that imitation is suicide; that he must take himself for better, for worse, as his portion; that though the wide universe is full of good, no kernel of nourishing corn can come to him but through his toil bestowed on that plot of ground which is given to him to till.

Whoso would be a man must be a nonconformist. He who would gather immortal palms must not be hindered by the name of goodness, but must explore if it be goodness. Nothing is at last sacred but the integrity of your own mind.

What I must do is all that concerns me, not what the people think. This rule, equally arduous in actual and in intellectual life, may serve for the whole distinction between greatness and meanness. It is the harder, because you will always find those who think they know what is your duty better than you know it. It is easy in the world to live after the world’s opinion; it is easy in solitude to live after our own; but the great man is he who in the midst of the crowd keeps with perfect sweetness the independence of solitude.

A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds, adored by little statesmen and philosophers and divines. With consistency a great soul has simply nothing to do. He may as well concern himself with his shadow on the wall. Speak what you think now in hard words, and to-morrow speak what to-morrow thinks in hard words again, though it contradict every thing you said to-day. — ‘Ah, so you shall be sure to be misunderstood.’ — Is it so bad, then, to be misunderstood? Pythagoras was misunderstood, and Socrates, and Jesus, and Luther, and Copernicus, and Galileo, and Newton, and every pure and wise spirit that ever took flesh. To be great is to be misunderstood.

Family Rant

Family Feud Rant

Reposted from the old site:

Ok… many of you know that I have recently acquired digital satellite service for the house. Yes — the clarity and sound are amazing. And, yes — the amount of channels available boggles the mind. But, I have come to realize the best aspect of my new system is the Game Show Network.

So, in the tradition of Robert Fulghum’s “All I ever needed to know, I learned in Kindergarten,” I gladly present:

All I ever needed to know,
I learned from watching the Family Feud.

Note: Some die-hard TV fans know that there have been several versions of the game show over the past 30 years. I really only considered the original Family Feud when writing this. I’m sure the other versions with Ray Combs and Louie Anderson provided many additional lessons, but for me there can only be one. And his name is Richard Dawson.

The premise of the Feud was simple: Two teams composed of five members from the same family, compete against each other to match answers from a survey of one hundred people. However, what we could learn from watching these families interact with each other, themselves, and Mr. Richard Dawson was in no way anything short of extraordinary.

For the last month, I’ve been re-watching many of these episodes, and here are some of the many lessons I’ve remembered:

1) Encourage each other positively.

There are no stupid answers. Ok, that’s wrong. There are an amazing amount of stupid answers. In fact, some of the responses on the Feud are so stupid that you wonder how this person remembers to breathe. Just today, when asked to “Name an animal you might find at the zoo,” the family patriarch said “dog.”

Clearly this is a stupid answer. But what did his family do? Did they scream and curse? No. Did they berate him in front of America? Not at all. In fact, everyone clapped and told him, “Good Answer.” When the big board presented our hero with a strike, the family all consoled the man with a group “Awwww” and tried again.

Later on these lessons would be echoed in the smash hit, Galaxy Quest : “Never give up! Never surrender!”

2) It’s the little things that matter most.

Many visiting families often presented Richard Dawson with gifts from their home towns. Gifts ranged from golf clubs to tennis racquets, bottles of wine to canisters of caviar; but the gifts that got the most attention were the little ones. Many families would spend time personalizing a shirt, painting a little picture, or some other act that required thought and planning, rather than a quick trip to the store. These are the gifts that made Mr. Dawson smile the most.

If you doubt me, just watch the episode where a family made Richard Dawson’s likeness out of macaroni. You can’t fake that smile.

3) Everyone needs a little personal attention.

Black or white, short or tall, thin or fat– every woman received a kiss from Mr. Dawson. From the young to the young at heart, Richard Dawson got personal with the contestants. Very personal. He shared the hugs, the tears, and the laughter. And it showed.

Personally, I think there may have been a little too much kissing, but then again how can a man that has kissed thousands of women be wrong?

4) To have winners, you must have losers.

Even a family that gives their best may not take home the money. Sometimes, it’s just luck that makes one person more successful than another. The bottom line is that if you try your hardest, you will always walk away with something.

So, (to paraphrase the great Forrest Gump), am I trying to say that “Life is like a box of Family Feud…?” Surely not. But, if you take a minute and think about it, wouldn’t it be great if it were?

Movies Rant

mini rant

I admit it — I love movies. Whether it’s quoting dialogue, mentioning an obscure reference, or just general film trivia, I love talking about movies. To make things worse, the only thing I tend to talk about more than movies is my dog.

So where am I going with this?

Lately, there’s something about going to the movies that just irks me… it’s not the main gripes that most people have, such as ticket prices, audience behavior, or theatre quality. Actually, I think those issues are fine — ticket prices match inflation, I can’t remember the last time I heard a cell phone in the theatre, and with stadium seating who can complain?

What lights a fire for me are the commercials shown before a movie. Not the previews… everyone knows I love the previews… I’m talking about the product commercials that we are forced to sit through before getting to view the featured presentation.

Even though I’m not angry about the price of a movie ticket, I am bothered at the thought of paying to see a commercial – or in most cases, several commercials. Whether its Tiger Woods pushing the newest SUV or images of those M&M candies, there is no reason for me to watch advertisements in a movie theatre.

If I were King, I would make it simple… for each commercial shown before the movie, your ticket price is reduced by a buck fifty. At this rate, I would have been paid almost 2 dollars to see Harry Potter (which, by the way, is a great movie).


The Tipping Rant

I, like many other people, enjoy going out to eat on a regular basis. I’m not talking about grabbing a happy meal at the local McyD’s or a sandwich at Subway here. I’m talking about sitting down and eating food that has been made to order for me according to the specifications that I requested.

Of course there is a middleman in the process-the waiter.

Maybe I have grown more impatient as I age, maybe my glasses are getting a little too dirty, but somewhere, somehow, I believe that the service these waiters and waitresses provide have become less than adequate.

Lately, it seems as though I am greeted (more often than not) by someone whose main purpose in life is to push me out of the seat as quickly as possible. Their attitudes have become curt, impersonal, and even (at times) rude.

This being said, there are several ways of me addressing the issue of Server Performance. I can choose to complain – however this is not my style. I can also choose to not return to the establishment – however this seems not to provide the sense of “closure” that I sometimes need in life.

So the way I choose to express my pleasure (or displeasure) with service happens when the time comes to leave the tip (or lack there of).

I believe that tipping is not something that should be considered a certainty. In my mind, a tip becomes a reward for service. Not great service, not amazing service, but at this point in life, just adequate service. When I go out, adequate service receives a 15% tip. Less than adequate service receives from 0 to 10%.

All things considered (believe it or not) I tend to be a generous person. Notice that adequate service received a 15% tip. Should I think to myself, “Self, this was good service,” I generally leave at least 20%. If for some reason the server is attentive, friendly, and/or otherwise turns a dining experience into a great incident, I leave at least a 25% tip.

I think this is fair. Personally, I think this makes me a good person. But I know many disagree. I know this, because I tend to eat out with them. Several of my friends apparently at one point in their life (for whatever reason) used to wait tables and have chosen to move away from this career. Unfortunately, they hold a soft spot in their hearts and expect that I should leave tips on the basis that the server “must be having a hard day.” And of course, “I don’t know what it’s like to wait tables.”

You know… I don’t know… and more importantly… I don’t care. I know what it’s like to be friendly when you’re not in a good mood. I know what it’s like to pretend to be nice to someone that certainly doesn’t deserve it. And at the very least I know what it takes to be professional when you’re “on the job.”

So the question remains… why should I reward someone for not being friendly? I don’t care if you spill a drink on me. Be friendly about it, and that’s still good service. Accidents happen by, well for lack of a better word, accident. Rudeness, however, is always intentional.

Now don’t get me completely wrong… there are many, MANY great servers out there who seem to take pride in their job and make me feel as if my patronage is extremely important. I love these people. These are the servers that ensure my return to the establishment on a regular, routine basis.

To illustrate, my favorite Chinese restaurant (Kanton Kanton) provides excellent service. Although service sometimes is slow (because they are busy) this does not distract from the staff making sure that you are always greeted with a smile and friendly conversation.

They have taken the time to learn my name – and to remember it.

Although I go to Kanton Kanton at least once a week, I try to take my parents there at least once a month. One time, Mom was feeling a little under the weather and asked if I could pick up the food and bring it to their home. “No problem,” I said and called in the order.

When I went to pick up dinner, the staff asked why I was choosing to take out rather than eat in. When I said that my mother wasn’t feeling well, I was given (without charge) a soup (not listed on the menu) to help my mom feel better. And to this day… they always ask about her.

Am I saying that all servers should be like this?

Only if they want the 35 – 45% tips that Kanton gets…


The ugliest shoes I've ever known

I’ve been seeing these ugly ass shoes more and more lately. At first I didn’t even know how to describe them-they looked like 20% oompa loompa, 30% dutch boy, and 50% day glow 80’s chic. I couldn’t understand why these ugly, ugly, ugly, and dare I say ugly shoes were becoming popular.

On Easter, as the token Old school member, my good friends had a set for everyone in the family… Mom, Dad, and the girls. This gave me the perfect opportunity to ask why on God’s green earth would someone purchase these horrific looking shoes. “They’re called Crocs. Try them on.”

Almost like a drug dealer… he didn’t have to convince me… he let the product sell itself. And sadly, it worked. I thought they were the most comfortable shoes I have ever worn. Ugly? Yes. Comfortable? Hell, yes.

So, now I have a pair of beach in Navy Blue (like the picture) and a Rugged Outdoor model in green.

It’s the moped of footwear. 🙂