Posts Tagged ‘Vacation’

Random Friday Thoughts — March 2, 2018

I know February is a short month, but it’s hard to believe that the first two months of 2018 are already behind us.

I hope you have a great weekend and thank you for taking the time to check out my random thoughts!

VACATIONS

It’s no secret that I love taking vacations.  I’ve often joked that I work for two reasons — to pay the bills and to travel.  Actually, it’s no joke!

Last year, my big trip was to Scandinavia — Norway, Sweden, and Denmark.

AP Scand

However, some Americans are afraid to take their earned time off.

One poll shows that 22% skip vacations because they don’t want to be seen as replaceable and 28% want to show dedication to work by not taking vacations.

F(orget) that!!!!!!!!!!  If I don’t prove myself when I’m on the clock, I’m not going to worry about it when it comes to taking time off!

Finally, here are a couple of interesting facts:  In 2013, the average number of unused vacation days was 4.9.

Also, in the early-1980s, the average number of paid vacation days was around 21.  By, 2014, that number had dropped to 16 days!

RONALD REAGAN & THE QUAD CITIES  

In his book, “An American Life”, President Ronald Reagan talked about landing his first radio job at WOC in Davenport, Iowa.

After an interview in Chicago, with no radio experience, he was told to try a smaller market.

An American Life

Reagan wrote, “the suggestion from the woman at NBC that I try for a job in the sticks”.

He went on to write, “Radio was so new that many Midwestern towns still didn’t have a commercial station, but I only knew of two or three in the tri-cities area of Davenport, Moline, and Rock Island along the Illinois-Iowa border.”

Sorry, Bettendorf!  You’ll have to let it slide this time since it was the early-1930s.

But, it still cracks me up to think of the Quad Cities as “the sticks” back in the day!

QUICK OSCAR NOTES

The Oscars are Sunday night on ABC.

Oscar-Nominations-2014

Here are the nominees for Best Actor and I’ve seen four of the performances.

Timothée Chalamet, “Call Me by Your Name”
Daniel Day-Lewis, “Phantom Thread”
Daniel Kaluuya, “Get Out”
Gary Oldman, “Darkest Hour”
Denzel Washington, “Roman J. Israel, Esq.”

I think that Gary Oldman will win the Oscar for his portrayal of Winston Churchill in “Darkest Hour”.  He was great and so was the make-up.

CMBYN 2

However, I think that Timothee Chalamet acted more and with more heart and truly deserves to win “Best Actor”.

I even enjoyed Denzel Washington’s performance more than Oldman’s!

I haven’t seen Daniel Day-Lewis in “Phantom Thread”.

Final Oscar tidbits:  I’ve seen four of the nine “Best Picture” nominees and it’s the first four in alphabetical order. 🙂

Best Picture:

“Call Me by Your Name”
“Darkest Hour”
“Dunkirk”
“Get Out”
“Lady Bird”
“Phantom Thread”
“The Post”
“The Shape of Water”
“Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri”

And, strangely enough, I haven’t seen any of the five Best Actress performances, yet I’m picking Frances McDormand (“Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri) to win.

I’m also picking that movie to win “Best Picture”.

“A REPORTER’S LIFE”

The fourth book I read in 2018 was Walter Cronkite’s “A Reporter’s Life.

Walter Cronkite

Although the book did drag a bit after he talked about his childhood and before he talked more about being on the cutting edge of television news, it was a decent book.

He was definitely a liberal and that’s a good thing. 🙂

“NIGHTLINE”

I also just finished my fifth book — “Nightline” by Ted Koppel and Kyle Anderson.

Excellent read!

Nightline Ted K

It’s about the ABC late night news show that’s still on the air.  Koppel anchored it from 1980 until he retired in 2005.

The book provided incredible insight on some of the biggest stories of the past three decades without a lot of rambling.

Koppel and Anderson touch on AIDS, Russia, South African Apartheid, and the Tiananmen Square massacre in Beijing, China, along with the television news business.

Interesting tidbit:  The show started as a continuation of “America Held Hostage” — about the American hostages held in Iran for 444 days from late 1979 until January 1981.

MORE ON TIANANMEN SQUARE

Tiananmen Square was one of the stops on my visit to China in the spring of 2016.

What was very interesting is that our tour guide referred to the Tiananmen Square massacre that killed hundreds to thousands (China disputes that number) as an “incident”.

He was also very uncomfortable even talking about it (and I don’t blame him — China eavesdrops!).

Tiananmen

While there, I noticed fire extinguishers located around the square.  We were told that people occasionally bring gasoline to the Square and set themselves on fire in protest!

GUESS WHO???  

“This woman is a political force of enormous ambitions.  I believe she is a menace, unscrupulous as to the truth, vain, and cynical — all with a pretense of exaggerated kindness and human feeling which deceives millions of gullible persons.” 

Answer at the bottom!

“WONDER”

It’s always great to see Julia Roberts in a movie.

And, in “Wonder”, Jacob Tremblay (“Room”) is great as Auggie, a fifth grader with a rare medical facial deformity.

Tremblay definitely has a great future in Hollywood.  He was fantastic in 2015’s “Room”, that earned Brie Larson a Best Actress Oscar.

GRADE:  A-

“ROMAN J. ISREAL, ESQ.”

This crime thriller is a very slow burn for the first hour, but the second hour redeems the slow start.

Washington earned a well-deserved Oscar nomination for Best Actor.

GRADE: B

“HAPPY DEATH DAY”

“The Snowman” is no longer my least favorite movie I’ve seen in 2018.

This horror movie is atrocious!  It’s definitely geared to a younger demographic.

Sadly, for me, this horror movie made a lot of money and there’s talk of a sequel!

GRADE: D

STRONG WOMEN SCARE PEOPLE

“This woman is a political force of enormous ambitions.  I believe she is a menace, unscrupulous as to the truth, vain, and cynical — all with a pretense of exaggerated kindness and human feeling which deceives millions of gullible persons.” 

This was written by columnist Westbrook Pegler in the 1950s about Former First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt!

EleanorRoosevelt_640x400

Sounds like something some have been said over recent years about another incredibly strong former First Lady!

THAT’S IT

With all the craziness in the world, make it the best in your little part of it!

Anthony

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Movies To Rent & Two To Skip

It’s the middle of December and I still haven’t been to the movie theater yet!  However, I’m planning on it this weekend and it’s not “Star Wars: The Force Awakens”.  Yeah, I finally get to have movie popcorn!

popcorn

If you’re done with your holiday shopping and you’re going to rent movies, I have five suggestions and two to skip.

“TRAINWRECK”

I’ll admit upfront that I was not a fan of Amy Schumer and all of the press she gets.  The sad thing is that I had not watched any of her stuff and that’s where I was wrong.

In this comedy, which she wrote, the stand-up comedian, television star, and Madonna’s opening act, can now add movie star and Golden Globes and Critics’ Choice award nominee to her resume.

She had me laughing my butt off as a hard drinking, pot smoking, and lover of one-night stands.  Oh, she was a magazine writer that ends up falling for a subject of one of her stories, too.

Oscar winner Tilda Swinton is unrecognizable in this movie.  I’ve blogged about her appearance before and will share the amazing result again.

tilda-transformation

It’s also pretty cool that Swinton co-stars, again, in this movie, with her on-screen son in the incredibly insane, “We Need To Talk About Kevin”, Ezra Miller, which was my third favorite movie in 2012.

Another standout in “Trainwreck” is NBA basketball icon LeBron James, who is hilarious and definitely has comedic chops.

The movie also stars Bill Hader and Brie Larson, who’s garnering a lot of Oscar buzz now for her role in “Room”.

After seeing Schumer in this great comedy, I’m going to have to check out her Emmy-winning series, “Inside Amy Schumer”!

GRADE:  A-

“BEASTS OF NO NATION”

This war drama is already racking up nominations and is getting Oscar buzz.

Star Idris Elba recently got both Golden Globes and Screen Actors Guild nominations as the leader of a rebel group fighting a civil war in Africa with child soldiers.

Teenage actor Abraham Attah, who plays Agu, has already won the Marcello Mastroianni’s Best Young Actor Award at the 72nd Annual Venice International Film Festival and could become one of the youngest actors nominated for an Academy Award.

Very powerful movie of a sad situation.

GRADE:  B+

“INSIDE OUT”

This 2015 summer blockbuster which earned $851.6 million dollars is one of the best recent Pixar/Disney movies.

It focuses on the emotions (Joy, Sadness, Fear, Disgust, and Anger) in the mind that manages the life of Midwestern-born 11-year-old Riley as her family moves across to the country to San Francisco.

Amy Poehler voices Joy, but it’s Phyllis Smith’s Sadness that steals the spotlight in the movie.

While a kid’s movie, grown-ups can definitely relate and enjoy.

GRADE:  B

“JURASSIC WORLD”

Full disclosure here — although the Jurassic Park series started back in 1993, I’ve never seen any of the movies.

The only reason I wanted to check out this fourth movie in the series is Chris Pratt in all of his hotness.  Okay, Bryce Dallas Howard is pretty cute, too.

I’ll keep this short because the movie has already brought in $1.67 billion worldwide and $652.3 million of that was here in the U.S. making it biggest movie of 2015!  So, everyone and their mother has likely already seen it.

A new theme park is opening on the Pacific coast of Central America and the park has been genetically modifying dinosaurs to make the park a bigger draw.  Of course, nothing could possibly go wrong! 🙂

“World” was rather entertaining until a scene toward the end with Howard’s assistant that made the movie feel very cheap like “Sharknado”! Because of that stunt, I dropped the final grade!

GRADE:  B-

“VACATION”

In my last movie review blog, I took a chance on Melissa McCarthy’s “Spy” and really enjoyed it.  I had low expectations and was surprised.

I went into the new “Vacation” movie with Ed Helms and Christina Applegate not expecting too much more than the funny scenes in the trailer.

It was enjoyable and risque, especially watching it with your 14-year-old daughter. 🙂

The real star of the movie was Kevin, Rusty Griswold’s annoying and mean youngest son, played by Steele Stebbins.

Also, for reasons I won’t write here, Chris Hemsworth’s NRA card-carrying Texas television weatherman was hilarious.  No, it’s not the fact that he is “People” magazine’s “Sexiest Man Alive”.  Watching the trailer, the joke is rather evident — like, in your face!

WARNING:  THIS IS RED BAND TRAILER (DEFINITELY RATED “R”)

GRADE:  B

“SOUTHPAW”

If given a choice of movies, my first choice would not be a sports-themed motion pictures.  However, I love “Bull Durham” (baseball), “Wimbledon” (tennis), “The Cutting Edge” (ice skating), and a few more.

The main draw for me on this boxing movie was director Antoine Fuqua (“Training Day” and “Brooklyn’s Finest”) and star Jake Gyllenhaal.

It’s a story of loss and redemption even though I won’t say what.

The movie also stars the amazing Forest Whitaker and the always entertaining Rachel McAdams.

GRADE:  B

“THE HUNGER GAMES:  MOCKINGJAY — PART 1”

This part will be short.  I enjoyed “The Hunger Games” and “The Hunger Games:  Catching Fire”.

Then, something happened.

Divergent came along and I switched teams!

I lost all interest in “The Hunger Games” series even though I love Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, and Liam Hemsworth.

I suffered through “Mockingjay – Part 1” and it definitely felt like filler. When “Part 2” comes out on DVD in 2016, I’ll watch it and I’m sure it will surpass this dud!

GRADE:  C

“RICKI AND THE FLASH”

I love Meryl Streep and can watch her all day.  As a matter of fact, I could watch “Mamma Mia”, “Julie & Julia”, “The Iron Lady”, and “August: Osage County” on repeat.

But, once was enough with this one.

Mamie Gummer, Streep’s real-life daughter, is the highlight of this movie.

Streep plays an aging rock singer that left her family with hopes and dreams of being a music superstar which never happened.

GRADE:  C 

Anthony