Thursday, February 26, 2009

MOVIE REVIEW: "The Wrestler"

MOVIE REVIEW: "The Wrestler"

Got a chance to see this one one the day of the Oscars. I was really interested in Mickey Rourke. I had never seen a film w/Rourke in it. I know. Crazy. Some say I should see "9 1/2 Weeks". We'll just have to see about that.

But I think I have been drawn to Rourke's "fall-from-grace-and-now-I'm-back-but-more-humble" turn of events. I saw a profile piece on him on CBS Sunday Morning. There were all these clips of him as a young actor; a young and very handsome actor.

He is definitely a different looking guy. But life experiences sometimes have a way of showing up in a physical way, right?

So the movie "The Wrestler"... yeah, well, I was somewhat underwhelmed. Maybe there'd been too much pre-hype before I saw it. But I did like the trailer, so ... there's that.

I thought Rourke was Randy. He was that convincing in that role. I was a bit miffed at Marisa Tomei's character, Cassidy/Pam. Or was it what I thought was excessive nudity that miffed me? You know, I get like that w/nudity and sex. If it's central to the plot, I'm all for it, but the minute you take advantage of that, you lose me. I was not impressed w/the 'stripper, woe is me' role. And why was it in one of the strip club scenes, the other girls in the scene were somewhat covered, but Tomei's character is romping around w/nipples ablaze and exposed crotch? Whatever.

And oh, the crazy scene where is daughter blew up on him ... just a bit over the top, unnecessary.

There were some good moments. Randy was so charming when he was trying to woe Cassidy/Pam and his daughter.

The movie is worth seeing. It does have a good plot. So see it and let me know what you think.

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Monday, February 23, 2009

Music Monday 16 :: Stephanie Mills "Home"

I was listening to the radio today and "Home" by Stephanie Mills came on just as I was about to get out of the car. It was one of the few times when I took a pause - and enjoyed the moment. I sat and listened and sang along for the entire length of the song. Every time I hear it, I am so inspired.

Additionally, there is so much more to like about this song:
  • arrangement
  • vocals
  • lyrics
This was from the soundtrack to "The Wiz." Mills played Dorothy in the Broadway production of "The Wiz" (there is also a movie version where Dorothy is played by Diana Ross).

The song was a #1 R&B hit in the late 80s. Listen to it an enjoy.

Home - Stephanie Mills

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Thursday, February 19, 2009

Where I'm Livin - Summer 2008

This post was originally scheduled for July 13, 2008.

I love street signs. Sometimes I take pix of them. But I am so dependent on street signs. And I like street signs that are large and very visible; as in they are very hard to miss.

So I saw something recently about documenting the street signs where you live. I might get around to that, but I love Flickr for this very reason - someone else has already taken pix of various street signs.

Here's a mosaic for the occasion:

1. Rich past, bright future, 2. Untitled, 3. IMG_9981, 4. Lexington Avenue, 5. Lexington., 6. Lexington Avenue sign, 7. IMG_1654, 8. One Way, 9. Guess the Box Wasn't Blocked

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Monday, February 16, 2009

Music Monday 15 :: M.I.A. "O Saya"

I'm pretty excited about M.I.A.'s Oscar nomination for the song "O Saya" from "Slumdog Millionaire".

O... Saya - M.I.A.

When I saw the "Slumdog Millionaire" I knew that the movie had an element that we don't often see in films. I like it when international films do well in the States. I want us to see how other people live: their lifestyle, their struggles, their happiness.

I thought that "Slumdog Millionaire" was driven by the music. It did not take long for me to notice that. The Indian music is superb throughout the film. "O Saya" has a nice and slow intro w/the chanting and the drums before M.I.A. gets ahold of it and rips. It's not a long rap at all, more like a cameo. But her style is so assured, staccato and unapologetic.

I can say that I officially slept on M.I.A. I have one of her cd's. A friend sent to me a few years ago. I skimmed it and never went back to it. Well, not never, but I should have trusted my friends instinct. I do think that M.I.A. and Lady Sovereign, another female British rapper, have a similar style. But I won't elaborate on that at this time.

One more quick point. M.I.A.'s "Paper Planes" did not garner a great deal of radio play, at least not initially. However, when it did get some mainstream play, like on Dave Letterman, the gun shots were edited out.

Just a bit more about M.I.A.:
  • she 's pregnant ... due any day now (update: baby boy born on 2.11.09)
  • she wears many hats: vocalist, songwriter, producer and more
  • she's a Brit
  • she's won lots of awards and was nominated for two Grammy's this year fro "Swagger Like Us" and "Paper Planes".
  • a quick Q&A w/M.I.A. from USA Today
  • check out M.I.A. on Imeem
So now we wait ... Sunday, February 22, 2009 to see if M.I.A. gets a statue.

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Friday, February 13, 2009

BOOK REVIEW: "The House at Sugar Beach"

"The House at Sugar Beach" by Helene Cooper is a memoir. At times it is quite intriguing. Especially the historical component.

Cooper tells of her life growing up in Liberia. A very privileged life. Until the locals grow weary of the government and stage a coup.

I don't want to give much away but there were some interesting tidbits throughout the book. Like Eunice, Helene's childhood friend/sister, and how she came to be a part of the Cooper clan. Heck, Eunice could and should write her own memoir.

One of my favorite parts in the book is when Helene's family ends up in the U.S. and she says that they are refugees and her mother insists that they are not. Her mother goes on to say something like ... "We paid for our airline tickets." That made me smile. Everyone has pride.

I also did just a bit of historical research on Liberia. It is somewhat fascinating. It is somewhat discouraging.

This is the first reading selection for the new year for my reading group (and the longest). I got through the book faster than I anticipated.

EDIT (comments following my reading group gathering):
  • Cooper could have written two different books: one on her family lineage and one on her career as an international journalist.
  • We wanted to know more about her mother and where is she now?
  • It seems as if Cooper became more guarded w/the details of her life when she moved to the U.S.
  • There was definitely lots of nostalgia and love for Liberia

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Wednesday, February 11, 2009

MOVIE REVIEW: "Rabbit-Proof Fence"

MOVIE REVIEW: "Rabbit-Proof Fence"

I had no expectations for this movie. A friend recommended and said nothing further. Of course, in retrospect, this movie is so the type of movie that he would recommend.

First let me say that I really enjoyed the film. The child actors were wonderful. Having recently seen "Slumdog Millionaire" and those child actors, I really marvel at what they do on screen.

For a minute, I thought of the film as just telling a story, but to learn that the film is based on a book that is based on someone's real life is astounding. Even to read the credits at the end of the movie as to what happened to the real-life people left me with a slack mouth.

It's amazing how race is dealt with and has been dealt with - not just in the United States, but around the globe. In the case of "Rabbit-Proof Fence", the efforts to stamp out a race went way too far and for too long. Racial superiority can't go away fast enough for me.

I love the girls resiliency. Though in my opinion the film did not fully highlight their struggles in the wild. I had anticipated that they would encounter some wild animals - or is that just my ignorance?

This is an awesome film and only about 90 minutes. Check it out.

More "Rabbit-Proof Fence" resources:

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Tuesday, February 10, 2009

VIDEO TUTORIAL: Facebook Privacy Settings

I've been experimenting w/making video tutorials. So I thought I'd share one.

Lots of folks are using Facebook. Some people have evil intentions and as a result you don't want to make your information available to just anyone. It's nice that there are privacy settings on Facebook, but maybe you did not know just how many settings there are.

In this video, I'll discuss the privacy settings for applications as well as the newsfeed privacy settings.

I made the video using Jing. Let me know what you think.

If the video and the text are too small for you to see, you can view the video on Screencast:

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Monday, February 09, 2009

Music Monday 14 :: The 2009 Grammy Recap

I did a little twittering about this year's Grammy Awards. As always I get excited about them. I like to see who arrives and I like the performances.

The pre-awards drama was involving Chris Brown and allegedly Rhianna. Don't have the details, but neither ended up showing up for the show and Brown was supposed to perform. So something is going on.

Crazy thing though is that many of the rap and R&B categories were handed out in the pre-show. Then the only R&B category was the first award. That was kinda cool though. A cleaned up Whitney Houston handed out the award w/Jennifer Hudson winning. How cool is that?

The show was packed w/performances ... I want to see more of the award winners and their acceptance speeches. Do they have the pre-show available for viewing? If not, they should. I think that they do have some vid. I'll check YouTube.

I did finally fall asleep just before the show was over, but woke myself back up to see the last award. And to see Stevie perform.

All in all ... it was a decent show. I'm trying to figure out who filled in for Chris Brown and Rhianna's performances ... ? And I'm thinking that I like the performances, but I really want to see more of the award winners. I'm still sorting that out in my mind though.

Oh ... one more thing ... I thought M.I.A. was a trooper. I mean showing up and performing on the day you are due to give birth. So brave. I thought that the baby would drop during her performance w/the fellas on "Swagger Like Us". So cool.

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Friday, February 06, 2009

25 Random Things About Me

This has been floating around Facebook for the past few weeks. Here's my take on it:

1. I love French Fries.
2. "The Young and the Restless" is my guilty pleasure.
3. I'd rather be hot than cold; being cold makes me cranky.
4. I never thought that I'd meet some of my best friends while living in Buffalo, NY (that includes Tonja Moss; everytime we talk it is usually non-stop hilarity).
5. I'm super crazy about my Jeep Wrangler.
6. Oldies and old school hip hop are my favs.
7. I quit drinking alcohol in the summer of 2002 to save money and haven't gone back since.
8. My days in grad school were bittersweet, but the TCOM Women got me through.
9. I have a pair of rollerblades and skate as often as I can.
10. I have never traveled outside of North America.
11. I used to be a helluva of bowler; trumpet player too - first chair, thankyouverymuch!
12. I like potatoes, pasta and popcorn
13. Radio is my passion. Love to listen and make great audio.
14. I thought I'd become more tolerant of people, but ... not so much.
15. My daughter is turning into a very wise young lady.
16. Let me sleep and then sleep some more.
17. I began making handmade greeting cards in 2004 or early 2005. It is what keeps me sane. My art therapy.
18. My interest in sports lead to a stint as a radio sports anchor.
19. One of my career highlights was working Superbowl XXXIV: Rams v. Titans in Atlanta and being on the field where all the action was (thanks Duane Walker).
20. My mom is so resilient and more incredible than she knows. I'm really proud of the fact that she has three out of three college grads on her hands.
21. I did not get a driver's license until I landed my first job out of college in Cincinnati. Even when I purchased my first car - a Honda Prelude (stick shift) - I did not have a driver's license. Finally passed the test about two weeks after I got the car after I had sort of learned to work the stick shift. Oh, did I mention that I failed the test once having rolled over one of the orange cones and then seeing my mother's boyfriend wave and yell "nnnnnnoooooooo" in the rearview mirror.
22. My dream trip is to drive across the United States (but not necessarily drive back).
23. I have been blessed to have dated some really good guys though none of them could convince me to settle down with them.
24. My favorite type of movies is comedy. Make me laugh and you have won my heart over. Not really interested in action or thrillers.
25. If I could speak another language it would be Spanish. I plan to learn it throughout this year.

And now you know; at least you know a little more.

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Tuesday, February 03, 2009

More Farewell to Pittsburgh

It was crazy trying to shut down my Pittsburgh Hub. But it got done.

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Monday, February 02, 2009

Music Monday 13 :: The 2009 Grammy Awards

So the 2009 Grammy Awards is less than a week away. I get excited for these babies. For lots of reasons:
  • I like to see the live performances
  • I want to see who shows up (and in some cases, shows out)
  • I like to hear a good acceptance speech
I don't care about the red carpet and who is wearing what, though I do take note of who looks the part and how looks a 'hot mess'.

I have not listened to many of the 2009 Grammy nominated songs, but I hope to catch up before the big day arrives, which is Sunday, February 8, 2009.

I get the feeling that one of the Brit's will be Record of the Year. There are three females vocalists from the UK up for that one:
  • Adele "Chasing Pavements"
  • Leona Lewis "Bleeding Love"
  • M.I.A. "Paper Planes"
In the album of the year catergory, Lil Wayne could sneak away w/this one for "Tha Carter". I think Coldplay will win for "Viva la Vida ...". But it would be nice to see Ne-yo win for "Year of the Gentleman"; it seems he's played a pivotal role in keeping classic R&B alive and giving it some flavor along w/some captivating lyrics.

The one album that I really want to check out because the title seems so cool and fun is Marcia Ball's "Peace, Love & BBQ".

I'll be doing some Twittering while watching the show on Sunday. So let's have some fun.

Do you have any picks for this year's Grammy Awards?

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Sunday, February 01, 2009

Farewell Pittsburgh

Well, it's time for me to depart my part-time residence in Pittsburgh. It's been fun and frustrating.

So here's a little list of things I'm going to miss. Of course I have to compliment it with a list of things I surely won't miss.

Things I am going to miss about Pittsburgh:
Things I surely won't miss about Pittsburgh:
  • My noisy ass elderly neighbors
  • Traffic on Freeport Road
  • Traffic on Rt. 28
  • Traffic in general
  • Tolls on the Pennsylvania Turnpike
So I'm moving on ... but I'll definitely be back for visits.

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