Saturday, April 23, 2016

This Is What Homophobia Looks Like

For anyone who ever wondered why gays and lesbians are always "complaining" about being treated unfairly and being the target of hateful rhetoric, this video from Towleroad should be illuminating:

In Memoriam

Prince (June 7, 1958 – April 21, 2016)

Prince, née Prince Rogers Nelson, was an artist I admired very much. I first discovered him towards the end of the '80s, when he released the album Batman as a companion to Tim Burton's original movie and its score by Danny Elfman's.

I then followed his career for many years, buying not only the new albums he released (up until 1996's Emancipation) but also his old work.

While I can't say I was really fond of his first five albums (the sound was perhaps too funky for me), I absolutely loved Purple Rain and the following titles.

Given that he wanted to get out of his contractual obligations with his music label, which I knew very little about at the time, he released the last five albums I purchased pretty much as fillers. As a result, they were increasingly disappointing and led me to stop buying his music.

Still, I always admired his originality, his style and persona, and his musical genius. He played tons of instruments, was a very prolific composer and songwriter, helped nurture new artists, and led the fight to ensure that artists kept ownership of their creations' rights.

I was lucky enough to see him live in 1992, during his Diamonds and Pearls Tour, in London. It was one of my first concerts and an unforgettable experience. That also remains my favorite of his albums.

Throughout his career, Prince sold over 100 million records worldwide and won 7 Grammys for his work, but also an Oscar (Best Score for 1985's Purple Rain) and a Golden Globe (Best Song for 2007's The Song of the Heart -- he was also nominated for Best Song in 1985 for When Doves Cry). That means he was only a Tony Award away from an EGOT!!

His untimely and unexpected death at 57 was a total shock. He will be missed.


Petting a Tortoise

I absolutely adore turtles and tortoises, so this video made me really happy:

In Memoriam

Doris Roberts (November 4, 1925 - April 17, 2016)

She won 5 Emmy awards, 4 of them for Everybody Loves Raymond.

She also starred in tons of other TV shows and movies, like "National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation" and "Grandma's Boy," but her role in Raymond is the only one I really knew her for.

Monday, April 11, 2016

Mankind's Technological Prowess

If one wonders what constitutes achieving a technological feat, than landing a rocket at sea has got to be right at the top. Landing on solid ground is complicated enough, but I can only image how much harder it must be to do it on a moving platform.

Hats off:

Wednesday, April 06, 2016

Angels & Demons, by Dan Brown

Having loved so much Dan Brown's The Da Vinci Code, his second Robert Langdon story, I figured I had to check out the first one before moving on to the third and so forth. After all, The Da Vinci Code was so captivating, who wouldn't want more of it?!

Alas, Angels & Demons turned out to be quite inferior compared to The Da Vinci Code.

While the latter's events and theories felt quite plausible or outright believable, several occurrences from the former made me shake my head in disbelief.

I do have to admit that I had not figured out who the bad guy was when I thought I had, which would have been very unfortunate because of who (or what) he was. But even so, the things that happen that just shouldn't happen are a bit off-putting.

Overall it's still an enjoyable book, and given the improvement between number one and number two I will in the future check out the third Robert Langdon tale (The Lost Symbol), but because of my disappointment it won't be my next book.

Grade: 5

Michael Stipe: The Man Who Sold the World

A beautiful rendition of this David Bowie song from the former R.E.M. frontman.

Tuesday, April 05, 2016


The Gist: Spotlight, a special team of investigative reporters at the Boston Globe, starts looking into allegations of child abuse against Catholic priests. The investigation ends up exposing a massive cover-up that engulfs the Church leadership at the highest levels, goes back several decades, and involves hundreds of priests.

This year's Best Picture Oscar winner, Spotlight tells the true story of the unfathomable cover-up of one of the most heinous crimes on the part of the secretive and powerful Catholic Church.

Once the abuse was brought to light in Boston, victims started coming forward all over the country and the world, implicating thousands of priests and implying that the cover-up led all the way up the highest ranks of the Vatican itself.

The Boston Globe's Spotlight team won the Pulitzer Prize for their investigation and reporting.

The entire cast is outstanding, but Stanley Tucci, Mark Ruffalo, and Michael Keaton deserve special praise.

The Bottom Line: This movie is a must see for everyone. To clearly see how extensive and pervasive the conspiracy was is staggering and boggles the mind.

Grade: 8

The Walking Dead

Season 6 of The Walking Dead just ended with a high-stakes cliffhanger that saw all the principals surrounded and subdued by Negan's army of so-called Saviors.

Not only have they all been captured, but one of them has been brutally murdered by Negan, although we don't know who.

Negan is the new baddie and obviously the next season will be largely dealing with him and his threat to Alexandria's community.

From hearing about Negan I knew he would be a big character, so Rick's growing cockiness in his certainty and insistence that they were safe, strong, and secure in the face of the Saviors' threat clearly pointed to a reckoning of sorts coming his way.

Only two main characters haven't been captured with the others, Carol and Morgan, but she's severely wounded. They have however met a couple of new characters that we hadn't seen before, so who knows what that will lead to.

Overall, another great season for one of my favorite shows ever. Can't wait for Season 7 so I'm glad that next Sunday marks the return of Fear the Walking Dead.

Grade - Season 6: 8

The Big Short

The Gist: In the lead-up to the mid-2000s housing bubble collapse, a few astute investors predict the inevitable and decide to bet against the banks, which are blinded by their greed and complete lack of foresight. They don't predict how corrupt the system really is though.

The Big Short is an intense, in-depth analysis of the causes of the recent crash of the worldwide economy. It's oftentimes arduous to follow, in spite of the cleverly inserted explanations of what's going on, but is a real eye opener.

Christian Bale, Steve Carell, Ryan Gosling, and Brad Pitt are only some of the great actors bringing this intriguing tale, based on actual events, to life.

The Bottom Line: Even if you think you know what led to the recent economic collapse that ruined so many lives across the country and the world, this is a must watch. It will likely get your blood boiling, but that's only because it's so good.

Grade: 9

Bridge of Spies

The Gist: After doing his civic duty representing an alleged Soviet spy during his trial, a lawyer is tasked by the US government with secretly setting up a prisoner exchange with the USSR: their convicted spy for an American pilot captured by the Russians.

Expertly directed by Steven SpielbergBridge of Spies showcases the always great Tom Hanks and relative newcomer Mark Rylance, who surprised the audience at this year's Oscar ceremony when he won Best Supporting Actor over favorite Sylvester Stallone. It was certainly well deserved, regardless of Stallone's performance.

The story is engaging and captivating on its own, but knowing it is based on actual events makes it that much more essential viewing.

The Bottom Line: Spielberg's latest foray in wartime related storytelling is a fascinating tale of intrigue, moral imperatives, and spy games that won't fail to entertain you.

Grade: 8