This Is Me--2024 A to Z Theme

My A to Z Themes in the past have covered a range of topics and for 2024 the theme is a personal retrospective that I call "I Coulda Been" which is in reference to my job and career arc over my lifetime. I'll be looking at all sorts of occupations that I have done or could have done. Maybe you've done some of these too!

Monday, March 27, 2017

The Time Is Fast Upon Us

        Have you ever thought about how much time you spend thinking about time?   When we're not planning what to do with our time in the future, we are often either pondering what we are doing with our time in the present or ruing about time lost in the past.  The subject of time can be a time consuming paradox. 

STS-133 Discovery rollout
STS-133 Discovery rollout (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
  The Final Countdown      

      I doubt whether there is anyone who now lives or who has ever lived who has not at some point or another marveled about how quickly time has passed.  That is, anyone who has grasped the concept of time.  When we are small children, before we've learned to tell time for ourselves, we will continually pester our parents with inquiries like "Is it time yet?"   Those special days like Christmas or birthdays will have what seems to be an interminable countdown until they are suddenly here and gone leaving us to look forward to our next big life event.   And so goes our lives.

      And once again for those of us doing the Blogging from A to Z April Challenge begins that final countdown until day one--April 1st, 2017.  This will be the eighth year of the April A to Z event with thousands of bloggers having participated with tens of thousands of A to Z blog posts.  This is rather impressive when you think about it and even more impressive when you consider the amount of time we have individually put into our A to Z posts over the years, not only in the writing of our own posts, but in the reading of many other posts by the bloggers who have participated in past events.

        The first year that I did the A to Z Challenge--it was 2010 with less than 100 bloggers--I figured that I was putting in twelve to fifteen hours per day with blogging.  But that was how I got other bloggers involved and kept still more engaged.  My A to Z time investment that first year paid off big considering the huge numbers who signed up in succeeding years.  Since that first year I've had to cut back on my blogging time, but still I continue to make a sizable investment of time with the Challenge.   Maybe it's crazy, but it's a fun sort of crazy I guess.

        So here we are with just a few more days to go before another A to Z Challenge kicks off.  The time is fast upon us it seems, but then it's somewhat of an illusion.  The pacing of time will be the same as always, but factors of our lives may cause us to feel like the time is going faster.  If you've procrastinated in preparing your posts like I have then you are likely feeling the pressure to get this done.  Where I am in my A to Z preparation is my own fault because I changed my theme with a matter of a few weeks to go. But then that's what makes A to Z a Challenge!

        The time until April 1st is shorter today than it was yesterday or last week, but the time is not going any faster.  The time might seem "fast" upon us, but that's only because there are fewer days.  More properly we should say "The time is short upon us" but that sounds silly I suppose.  The days and hours are closing in as we approach A to Z opening day, but time itself moves indifferently onward.

          If you're participating in the April A to Z, do you have all of your posts finished?   How much time do you normally devote to your blogging activity?    Do you spend more time blogging while preparing for and during the month of April than you do at other times?

          In addition to the Blogging from A to Z Challenge, on the 1st and 15th I'll also be participating in the Battle of the Bands which I will combine with my "Time" theme.   If you are interested in joining us in Battle of the Bands (we'd love to have more participants!) then please read about it at the blog of Stephen T McCarthy and let him or me know that you want to join us so we can add your link to the list.  

        Also, my April contribution to the Insecure Writer's Support Group will incorporate a time related theme.  The optional question for #IWSG during April will be related to the A to Z Challenge and reads as follows: 
  Have you taken advantage of the annual A to Z Challenge in terms of marketing, networking, publicity for your book? What were the results? 

  Since I don't have a personal answer for that question I'll be pursuing my own topic, but if this relates to any of you, I'm anxious to hear your answers.

Friday, March 24, 2017

Newsprint Time Machine

English: An abandoned Los Angeles Times vendin...
 An abandoned Los Angeles Times vending machine in Covina, California, October 2011 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

         For the many working years after I moved to Los Angeles in 1991, I subscribed to the daily Los Angeles Times.  Sometimes when I didn't get around to reading the paper, I would save the paper to read later.  As things would happen I often didn't read that paper and put it in an ever accumulating stack of newspapers, now and then tossing aside sections that didn't interest me--sports, classifieds, fashion or whatever they were--and keeping sections that seemed like they would be interesting to read sometime later.

         Over the course of many years I acquired several stacks of news papers--some at work and some at home.   After the California branch of the company where I worked shut down for good and I was left jobless, I toted those work stacks home and put them in my garage.  Since I was no longer working outside of the house, I was able to dwindle my newspaper stacks at a faster pace.  In order to save money, in 2012 I cut back my L.A. Times subscription from seven days to weekends only. Besides, there wasn't that much in the paper that interested me anymore.  And the paper was highly biased and annoying for me to read.   Soon I switched to Sunday only, mostly because of the ad and coupon sections and the crossword puzzle, but then I let that go.  Now I no longer get any papers.  But I still have some news paper stacks in my home office closet.

          Some of the papers remaining in those stacks are from 2012 to 2013.  Then like anomalies in the geological strata, there might be small layers of papers from 2002 or sometimes even older.  These days instead of reading a daily paper I'll read the papers stored in my closet.  Sometimes I feel like an archaeologist making discoveries about the past as I read old news stories.  The odd thing though is that some of those old stories seem like the same things that are in the news now or stories that seemed to foreshadow later events then still to come.

          It's like a story I was reading last week in a paper from 2012.  The section I was reading had an article about German Christmas markets where they sounded so fun and festive..  As I was reading though, I was thinking about the terrorism that came in 2016.  That story from 2012 stood out more for me now in the aftermath of the 2016 attack than it probably would have if I had read it back then.

          Lately I've been reading about movies that I hadn't realized had ever been released. Some I've added to my Netflix queue while most seem to be now mostly forgotten come and gone releases in the past.  Reading about films in retrospect makes me realize how much movie garbage actually does get released.  When I was reading contemporaneously to film releases, this ephemeral nature of pop culture wasn't always as evident.  How quickly we forget that next big thing after it has come and gone.

         Reading in the past might seem a bit absurd to many.  Consider that I'm no longer reading for the news of the day, but just to get a feel for the past.  Sometimes I wish those stacks contained newspapers from 20, 40, or even 100 years ago.  Old newspapers provide a window into events of days gone by.  The stories are history written from the perspective of those who were witnessing it.  Rather than the standoffish perspective analysis of history books written years later and based on research and author's interpretation, the old news stories are seen through the eyes and minds of those people back then as they perceived what was happening.

         If I could I'd much rather take an actual physical time travel trip back to old times to witness that world for myself.  Even if that world was something I had lived through, I'd like to go back with my mind of the future to see if what I remembered was really how it was.  Or to see if what I've heard from those older than I was really like how they described it all.

        Old movies and television shows provide some of that perspective.  But then that is part of the illusion of the past.  An image on the screen can never capture the actual immersion into that place in the past and having that experience of immersion is only a fantasy of my mind.  For now at least.  And probably forever.  Unless time travel ever does become a reality.

       For now I have a newsprint time machine in my closet.  The machine is dwindling as papers are read and deposited into my recycling bin.  No point in keeping them.  If I kept everything I'd eventually run out of room. I'd live in a past made of paper and newsprint.  It all needs to go.  And once I've rid myself of that time machine, I can read more of the books on my shelves, watch more of the movies I want to see, sort through old photos as I place them in much of the past with so little of the present to accommodate it all.

        What will the future do with all of the past anyway?

         Do you still read the newspaper?   What do you have a tendency to accumulate?   Will newspapers have much validity for future generations? 

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Time for #BOTB Results

        Life is like a battle between us and the clock.  Or in the bigger picture, a battle against the calendar.

       Once again I'm taking on the daunting Alphabet Challenge of April   I revealed my theme officially here, but some of you might have guessed my theme from my recent Battle of the Bands post.  Yes, it is about time.  Isn't everything?

Battle of the Bands Results

       This latest Battle was between Fleetwood Mac's "Sands of Time" and Alan Parson Project's "Time"--both excellent songs which I like very much.  Of the two, I see "Time" by APP as the more linear song.  It moves steadily, barely deviating, with a constant flowing theme that begins and ends without much in the way of surprises or invested thought for that matter.  This is such a relaxing tune that it lends itself well to meditation or even preparation for sleep.  It might even make for a lovely song to play at a funeral.

        On the other hand, Mac's "Sands of Time" wanders and meanders in a good way. There is a sense of hope expressed in the lyrics, but also an ambiguity that invites anticipation of things to come.  The thoughts expressed are not definitive, resigned to giving into death, but mystical and magical.  The instrumental portions add an edgy sense with drifting guitar riffs that seem to simulate imagination and dreams.  I love this song--which is not to say that I don't like the other song a great deal--but my preference definitely leans toward the Danny Kirwan penned "Sands of Time".   This song has been playing in my mind all week which is another strong indicator of where my vote gets cast in the end.

        Nevertheless, you the voters decided the outcome no matter what my favorite version is.  And the outcome in this case was very decisive:

Final Vote Tally

Fleetwood Mac                  11

Alan Parsons Project        22

Next Battle of the Bands Saturday April 1st

        My next Battle of the Bands post will coincide with the opening day of the Blogging from A to Z April Challenge.  My A to Z theme of "time" will not only encompass my posts for the upcoming month, but this theme will continue in my next few posts leading up to April.  My Battle of the Bands posts during A to Z month will also be related to time.  In fact, the next BOTB match that I'll be presenting is a movie theme that was also a top pop hit in 1969.  The song is a great introductory tribute for those participating in the A to Z Challenge and one that will likely bring back a few memories for many of us.  Anyone want to guess what song I'll be presenting?

        Was my A to Z theme of "Time" any surprise?   Did you find any A to Z themes in the recent Reveal day that particularly interested you?   Are there any aspects of time that you'd like for me to cover during my A to Z Challenge?  

Monday, March 20, 2017

Theme Reveal #AtoZChallenge: It's About Time

       Once again it's time for the official A to Z Challenge Theme Reveal.   This is the time when those participating in the upcoming 2017 Blogging from A to Z April Challenge will reveal their themes for the month or, if there is no theme, provide us with a preview of what to expect next month on their blog.   What follows is my story and my plan...

A Theme Evolving

       Prior to last years 2016 Blogging from A to Z April Challenge I already had a few themes considered for that year.   But as plans often go, those old ideas got pushed to future years and I came up with my 2016 theme of Manhattan in January of that year. Then later, after the April Challenge had ended, not only did I still have those old ideas in my queue, I had come up with a couple more along the way during April.  I've found that in blogging I'm often inspired by posts by other bloggers that will give me ideas for posts for my own.  Which, incidentally, is a good thing for any of you to keep in mind if you sometimes find yourself lacking in inspiration for ideas to write about.

        During the course of the year that followed the 2016 Challenge, I wavered between this idea or that, all the while writing down particularly good ideas to be stored in my blogging queue.  Come January of 2017 I was pretty well settled on an idea, but within a matter of weeks changed my mind.  As the approach to each of my Aprils has been since first beginning to do the A to Z Challenge, my mind becomes focused on thematic concepts and the words that might alphabetically fit those themes.  A to Z has become a way of conceptualization when I think in context of blogging or writing ideas.  A bit of a fixation one might presume, but I'd prefer to see this thinking as inspiration with organization of thought.

          I guess I've developed a bit of an A to Z brain!

My 2017 A to Z Theme

        My theme is a natural since it is something that we all think about and thereby to which we can all easily relate.  It's About Time--my theme that is.  I'm officially calling my April theme "It's About Time" which also is my own declaration of having come to that decision.   So many themes from which to choose and this one comes to me will having lunch one day.  You can read that story in my recent Battle of the Bands post, which I'd encourage you to read and vote on if you haven't done so already.

        Just think about all the times you yourself speculate or worry about time.  Our lives revolve around time scheduling.  We often keep an eye on our watches when something goes on longer than we'd like or revel how quickly time flew when we've been having a great time.  Without time, especially in our often rapid-paced and highly scheduled society, our lives would be in near chaos. Communal activities would never get organized and we would continuously be late. Of course without time the concept of lateness would not particularly be relevant, but neither would the idea of being on schedule.

        Our world and each of our lives thrives according to time.  We have days of births as well as all of the other special days of our lives.  Why, heck, we have days period!  Without the definition and management of time we wouldn't have days, weeks, months, or years.  Aside from the essentials of existence like air to breathe, liquids to drink, and food to eat, time is one of the primary forces that gives us our humanity--our ability to reason and plan for our futures.  Or for that matter remember our past in more than just random images.  Time is a reality of this world and time is the measurement that helps up organize the realities we encounter in life.

          There's so much to write about the topic of time and it would take a lot of time to write about everything regarding time.  I will barely touch upon all that time is, but in 26 days during April I'll try to cover a few thoughts that interest me most.  Though time can serve us, time will always be our master.  In April of 2017, "Time" will be the master of my A to Z Theme.

            If you've decided to participate in the 2017 Blogging from A to Z April Challenge and would like to reveal your theme or, if you don't necessarily have a theme, you can tell us about your plans, goals, or impressions about April by putting up your own Theme Reveal post.  You can link to your post on Twitter using hashtag #atozchallenge, or you can post on the A to Z Facebook page, or leave your link in my comment section today, or visit the A to Z Blog to leave your link.   Or you can do all of these things and whatever else you can think of to promote your post.  Today will be essentially a test run for the social media linking we'll be doing in April and this will perhaps give us some idea of the success of the method as well was provide some indicators of strengths and weakness.   

           Give it a try to see how it works for you.   And check all the aforementioned sites to see who else is posting their own Theme Reveals.  This can work, but it is up to you bloggers to make it work!

           Have you found any other Theme Reveals so far and if so how did you find them?   What have been some favorite 2017 A to Z themes that you've found so far?  Are there any particular aspects of "Time" that you think I should cover during April? 

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

It's About Time (#BOTB)

        God created everything except that man created the artificial construct we know as "time."  And as though that weren't enough, government stepped in and created Daylight Savings Time.  If it were up to government, they would meddle with all of God's creation and screw up everything.  Hmm--come to think of it......--said by me after the time changed. 

English: The Clocktower, West Parade, Bexhill,...
 The Clocktower, West Parade, Bexhill, Sussex
. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Linear versus Nonlinear Time
      There are many variants concerning what time is and how it is comprised, but generally speaking I think most of us commonly think of time as being linear; that is a series of events or points in a line that presumably have a starting point somewhere in the past, continuing to where we are in the present, and heading to some point in a future.  Then there is nonlinear time which is the impression of time cumulatively as viewed from a far vantage point.

        Scientist/theologian Chuck Missler provides what I think is an excellent analogy of the two ways of viewing time.  He says to think of a parade.  If you are sitting curbside watching the parade pass by then that would be like experiencing linear time.  The past is represented by the part of the parade that has already passed by your vantage point, while the present is that fleeting part of the parade that is immediately in front of you soon to enter into the past.  The future is that part of the parade that is still to come.

        To view the parade from the nonlinear aspect, you might think of yourself hovering high above in a helicopter from which vantage point you are able to see the entirety of the parade from the staging area, then winding through the streets below, and finally dispersing at the end of the parade route.  Missler reasons that this nonlinear view is how God would view the time line while we humans are limited to merely experiencing the passage of linear time.

         The linear view has immediacy and greater subjective meaning to a viewer while the nonlinear view is more impressionistic where the spectator has no direct connection to singular parade parts, but instead a feel for the entire parade all at the same time.

          My Battle of the Bands offering this time around represents to me two distinct ways of assessing time:  linear and nonlinear.  See if you agree and more importantly, let us know which song you like best...

Battle of the Bands

Battle of the Bands is the blogging event started by Far Away Series and now hosted by StMcC Presents Battle of the Bands.   This event happens twice each month on the 1st and 15th.   The premise is simple:  Listen to the songs presented below and then in the comments vote for your favorite and tell us why you liked it.  Then visit the links listed near the bottom of this post for more Battle action.

This Time Battle

        This Battle came upon me just a couple weeks ago as my wife and I were eating lunch at the Sizzler Steak Restaurant near our house.  As we dined, the background music being piped in seemed to be primarily deep tracks from the seventies so that made for a pleasant dining experience for me since that is a musical era that I particularly enjoy.  My attention perked when I heard a familiar old Fleetwood Mac song begin playing and it was not long before a Battle was born, pushing all of my other Battle songs in my line-up to some indefinable future time.  Not only did hearing this song change my schedule for Battle of the Bands, it influenced the topic of my current series--"It's About Time".  

        Funny how things like that can happen when you're just sitting one afternoon eating a steak dinner while a life soundtrack provided courtesy of the dining establishment plays in the background.  And to think my wife and I went there on a last minute whim.  We hadn't been to that restaurant in many months.   And that song was just waiting there to happen to me at that one particular moment in time...

Fleetwood Mac  "Sands of Time"  (1971)

        "Sands of Time" is one of my favorite Fleetwood Mac songs from the 1971 album Future Games, which I would call my favorite album by the group and consider perhaps their best.  Though the later addition of the team of Buckingham/Nicks certainly added a greater commercial appeal to the group, I tend to prefer the songs that came from the teaming of Danny Kirwan, Bob Welch, and Christine McVie.  Kirwan lasted about five tumultuous years with Fleetwood Mac until his mental disorders forced his removal from the group--another one of those sad troubled rock and roll genius stories.

         The Kirwan penned "Sands of Time" is a wonderful piece of music with somewhat confusing disjointed lyrics that might be a reflection of his mental state of the time.  There is no precise focus to the song which to me might represent a more non-linear way to view time.  The message depicts a dichotomy between dark and light, apprehension and hope. The final destination is "the sea" without any precise indication of what will be waiting there, but there seems to be an expectation that something good might happen when that sea destination is reached.   The music wafts and rolls fading smoothly in and out, almost with a jazzy feel...

Alan Parsons Project "Time"  (1980)

          Alan Parsons Project was certainly more of a project than any actual band.  Consisting of the core members Alan Parsons and Eric Woolfson and a parade of guest musicians and regular sidemen, the group cycled through a number of concept albums starting in 1976.  Sometimes mistaken for a song by Pink Floyd, the beautiful "Time" sounds like it could have been pulled off of Dark Side of the Moon.  This song is about as laid back as music can get.  Truly wonderful stuff.
      Though I can easily say that "Eye in the Sky" is my favorite song by The Project, "Time" is right up there among my favorite songs by the group.   Dreamy and relaxing, "Time" expresses a more linear view of time with the narrator suggesting a sense of resignation as he drifts from the present to eventual death.   As in the Mac song, the ultimate destination is the sea.   In the Parsons song the "sea" of "Time" is an ambiguous eternity...

Time To Vote!

        I hope you have time to vote!   And hopefully you have an opinion of some kind.  Which version do you like the best?   To me it's a somewhat tough choice, but how do you feel about it?

        Please vote on your favorite by letting us know your choice in the comment section and tell us why you prefer the version you chose. Then after you've finished here, please visit the other blogs listed below who may or may not be participating this time around. And if you've put up your own BOTB contest let us know that as well so we can vote on yours.

Here are some other places where you might find BOTB posts:

 StMcC Presents Battle of the Bands



'Curious as a Cathy'

Sound of One Hand Typing

The Doglady's Den 

Angel's Bark  

Cherdo on the Flipside  

Jingle, Jangle, Jungle 

Winner Announced on Wednesday March 22nd

         On Monday March 20th I'll be revealing my theme for the Blogging from A to Z April Challenge---yes, it's that time already.  Funny how time slips away.  Then on Wednesday I'll be back with the results of this current Battle.   Who will win?  Hope you help decide with your vote.

          Do you consider time to be a dimension?   What is your favorite combination of artists who comprised Fleetwood Mac?   Thinking of concept albums such as those recorded by Alan Parsons Project, do you have a favorite?

Monday, March 13, 2017

Time Travel, Revisionist History, and the Liberal Agenda

 "Who controls the past controls the future: who controls the present controls the past."    1984 by George Orwell

A mosaic stitched image of Stone Mountain, Geo...
A mosaic stitched image of Stone Mountain, Georgia, United States. Taken with a Canon 5D and 70-200mm f/2.8L at 200mm. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
         When the CW television network debuted The Flash in 2014 I was enthusiastically on board from the first episode.  Since I had been a big fan of the first short-lived incarnation of The Flash in 1990 and sad to see its demise after only one season, I welcomed the reinvention of the superhuman speedster in a television era where special effects technology would be so much better.  The characters in the new show were well developed and fun and the story was not so far-fetched that I could reasonably buy into it.  But then, as will invariably happen with such genres, the writers of The Flash went into realms of the absurd that I could no longer accept.  I've stopped watching The Flash.

         Superhero stories like most science fiction and fantasy typically require healthy doses of willing suspension of disbelief and yet there can be limits to just about everything.  In The Flash I could accept the increasing array of super villains and even the alternate universe.  However for me the entire "flashpoint" concept--the changing of a timeline where the Flash entered a world where he had memories of another timeline that no one else knew with subsequent plots revolving around events connected with the new timeline with plot points interjected from the previous timeline--this concept annoyed me.   To me an ability for someone or some power to be able to change the past or create an alternate past has no logic and becomes downright silly.

        Oddly over the past few years we've seen a number of television shows and films with similar past-changing plot devices.  This past TV season alone I've gotten caught up in Frequency (derived from the 2000 film of the same name) and Timeless.  In both, the element of going back in time in order to change the timeline of history does bother me, but the stories have been so engaging and are so well written that I was able to forgive the illogical premise.   I also recall seeing other films and shows that used the device of changing time (Looper comes to mind) but I can't name any others at the moment, but I've been less forgiving of most of them.

        Time travel happens to be a favorite fictional genre of mine, but I have a hard time accepting the stories where someone goes back to change history.  To me that's like the story that has the "it was only a dream ending".  It's a gimmick that usually doesn't work well for me unless it's something on a less serious note such as the Back to the Future films.  If time gets changed to the point of a new outcome then was the outcome as remembered by the time traveler comparable to being only a dream?  And what does that traveler do with that memory and once returned to a future with a new outcome does that traveler have the memory of the new history line somehow implanted in their mind?

       For me there becomes an almost conspiratorial suspicion that this type of change plot line is a sort of liberal leftist agenda, whether it be purposeful or subconsciously devised, to become a part of the revisionist history movement that is becoming more popular in recent U.S. thinking in circles of academia and new progressive socialism.

        More often a tool of dictatorships and radical governmental change agents, the concept of historical revision is being seen in the movements to remove symbols such as statues of former heroes, primarily associated with the Confederacy, or the names of historical figures that offend certain people in new movements taken off of schools and other public buildings.  Many early explorers, founders, and shapers of the United States are now being looked upon with disfavor and gradually being eliminated from this nation's history or relegated to roles where they are deemed essentially unsavory.

       The agents of social change and certain academicians unable to physically go back in time in order to exert change seem to want to instead rewrite history books and change the landscape to no longer reflect an existence of anyone who engaged in anything that is now looked upon with an unfavorable eye.  The revolutionaries of the New Order of Thought would prefer future generations to understand a new and different history that is more reflective of the demographics of our time.

          Revising history is in the hands of educational institutions, politicians who exert the most power, social groups with the loudest voices, or whoever else becomes the victor in future struggles for dissemination of knowledge and lore.  The entertainment industry has been doing this for years as seen by theatrically released biopics and historical epics.

         More than once have I been disappointed after watching an interesting film and then, after being driven by curiosity to investigate further about the topic, to find that what I had seen was mostly a reinvention of actual history.  If in the future our textbooks and other references are changed to reflect the new history then who will know what the truth is.  Already we see a mythology of history appearing on the internet to the extent that we cannot always trust what we read.  This of course has always been the case to some extent in published materials, but with the internet it seems that revisionism could be getting worse.

         So George Washington and Thomas Jefferson were really jerks and not worth having a school named after them?   Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson were part of an evil cause and should have their monuments removed from public view?   The United States legacy is really one of aggression and oppression?  Does the history of this country and the country as it now is deserve to be respected?  

         Oh, I'll still be watching the time travel shows and films.  I'll do my best to suspend disbelief as much as I can.   But nevertheless, this nagging fear will linger in my mind that maybe the trend to depict time travelers as being successful in changing history is really a nod of approval to the real history revisionists in our midst.  When society starts eradicating the truth, they might create an illusion that where we are now and where we are going in the future is wonderful, but they will also be building castles with foundations of sand.  

         What do you think of the revisionist history movements?    Do you like time travel stories in which history gets changed?   What is your favorite time travel television show or movie?  

          On Wednesday I'll be presenting a Battle of the Bands post which continues on the theme of today's post.  Two different songs from the seventies by two well known groups who went through numerous personnel changes over the years.  If you'd like to join the participants of Battle of the Bands to present your own musical battle then let me know so I can have your blog link added to the list.  It's great fun and we'd like to see some more musical tastes involved.   I'm sure you've got something you can add to the mix that will make things even more interesting that they are now.

Friday, March 10, 2017

Meryl Streep Is Overrated

You don't always have to talk about politics or religion to piss some people off.   Any opinion you express will likely find someone on the opposing side--sometimes a lot of people.


         Long before Donald Trump's notorious tweet and Streep's unnecessary acceptance speech at the Golden Globes ceremony, I've always said that I thought the multi-Oscar nominated actress was overrated.  Now do I not only think that she's overrated, but she's also an idiot.  But that's my opinion and I'm sure that I'll make some of you cringe with that statement.

         My sister and I have gotten into arguments every time I've said this over the years as she is a firm Streep adulator. Others have also found it a bit disturbing when I express this opinion of mine so I try to stay mum on the topic most of the time, but if her name comes up in a conversation I can't help but blurt out something like, "I can't stand Meryl Streep--I think she's a bore."

          Thinking that I might be wrong after hearing the floods of Streep accolades after her recent controversies and yet another Oscar nomination (oh no, not another stupid award nomination for Streep!), I decided that I should check her filmography to see if maybe I'd made an unfair assessment of Meryl Streep.

         Checking the IMDb site I discovered that Meryl Streep has been a part of  nearly 70 films and of those films there are 12 that I've definitely seen and maybe a few more that I might have seen and have forgotten that I've seen them.  Only one of these was a movie that I purposely saw because she was in it and that was A Cry in the Dark (1988) which I watched this past week-end mostly because it sounded interesting. It was good, but not necessarily because of her performance.

      I liked the The River Wild (1994) because it was a good story, but I actually didn't recall Streep being in it. I guess she did a fine job, but there are a lot of actresses who would have been good in this film. This is the case with many of the films I've seen Streep in--any actress would have been fine in the role that she played and some might have been better. Some of those films being Defending Your Life (1991) (she must have had a cameo in this one), Music of the Heart (1999) (I think I saw this, but it didn't make any impression I guess), Out of Africa (1985) (I don't remember this other than it being rather a bore as I recall--probably a suitable film for her style), and Holocaust (1978) (actually a TV mini-series that is one of my wife's favorite "films" that I bought her on DVD and I liked for the story--don't recall Streep's role that much).  

       Then there was the 1979 Woody Allen film Manhattan and that great film The Deer Hunter (1978), both which garnered early Oscar nominations for Streep.  However, if you had asked me before I had looked it up if Streep had been in either film, I would have said that I didn't think so.  In other words, the roles she played in those films made no impression on me.

        Streep also starred in two films that I absolutely hated.  The first is The Bridges of Madison County (1995).  I hated the movie and equally hated the book and didn't care for Streep's role in the movie that I hated.  This one is a big source of contention between my sister and I and will always result in an argument when the topic comes up so we usually don't discuss it.  Most women seem to love this dumb movie, but to me it's a rotten enough movie to make a case for disliking Meryl Streep period.

         Another "hate it" role I'll add is the one from the remake of The Manchurian Candidate (2004).  For one thing the role Streep played reminded me too much of Hilary Clinton of whom I'm no fan either.  The only consolation about that role is that Streep's character gets killed--oops!  Sorry for the spoiler, but if you haven't seen it, don't.  See the original from 1962.  In my opinion the remake is typical modern Hollywood liberal garbage.  Hated the film.  Hated Streep's role.

          So, I guess the argument I'm making is that I don't like Meryl Streep's acting and I don't particularly like the way she looks.  There is something about her that creeps me out.  And now she's added her political opinions to the mix and that's all the more reason for me to dislike her.

          For those who think I'm being superficially judgmental about looks and beliefs and that those things shouldn't affect my opinion of acting ability I'll offer another case--Sean Penn.  Can't stand the way he looks and hate his politics.  But every role that I've seen him in has been great in my opinion.  I can watch one of his films and forget his looks and his politics and walk away thinking he did a great job.  Too bad he's such a jerk.

        Of course, many will disagree with my assessment.  But then, many would likely ridicule some of my favorite actors like Nicholas Cage or Jean-Claude Van Damme--hey, my wife and I both like those guys and have enjoyed every film we've seen them in.  And we've seen a lot of their films.  We also think Tom Cruise, Mel Gibson, Leonardo di Caprio, and Christian Bale are far better than Streep.

        Funny, but I tend to find actors more memorable than actresses.  There are plenty of actresses I like, but none that stand out as much as actors.   Of great actresses from the past you can give me Giulietta Masina over Streep any day.  I think the roles played by either Charlize Theron or Christina Ricci in Monster blow away anything Meryl Streep has ever done.  But that's just me speaking here.  Maybe you agree or maybe not.

         If you're a Streep fan and I've offended you then I apologize.  After all, I'm just expressing my personal opinion.  And if you're Streep and you're offended then I don't really care.  You shouldn't be spouting politics on a stupid  awards show.  If you really feel the need to shoot off about your political beliefs then start a blog or something.  The ABC Network daytime show The View would probably even give you a seat right there with Whoopi Goldberg and Joy Behar.  If you were on that show I'd have yet another reason not to watch it.

         On the other hand, Meryl Streep, send me some of your money and I'll delete this post and replace it with one telling how much I think you're the greatest ever and write glowing reviews of all your films.  I might even watch Mamma Mia! and give it a great review.  For that you'll need to send a lot of money.

         Have I been overly harsh in my assessment of Meryl Streep?    Is there any particular actress or actor that you think is overrated?    Do you think actors and other entertainers should be expressing their political opinions and causes on public forums like award shows and concert appearances?  

         Join me next Wednesday March 15th for the Battle of the Bands.   If you love music then why don't you join us with your own Battle post.  Let me know if you'd like to join in and we can add you to the participant list.

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Crazy Love Affair (#BOTB Results)

        Love can make you feel crazy and love can make you feel cozy, but love doesn't pay the rent.  If you think it does, then that ain't love.   ---someone somewhere sometime must have said this or something like it. If they didn't then I just said it.

English: Old computers (including a Xerox Star).
 Old computers (including a Xerox Star). (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
My Crazy Love Affair

          I've got this crazy love affair going on that seems to have hopelessly taken hold of me.  Many years ago I said--with complete sincerity--that I didn't need no stinkin' computer.  Then I started messing with someone else's computer and discovered Google and Amazon and stuff like that and before I knew it I was hooked.  Not long after that I became a computer junkie.

         Computers are so darn helpful.  They're also a huge diversion and time suck.  Now I don't know that I'd ever want to be without computer access. This is why I started getting frantic a few weeks ago when my internet started becoming very inconsistent.

          Seems like every year shortly before the Blogging from A to Z April Challenge I start encountering strange computer problems.  Probably I just notice more at this time when abnormal computer things start happening, but some years the slow downs and disruptions have been serious issues for me during April.

           So when my internet connection totally shut down on me one day I contacted my provider to see what the heck was happening.  They said they were upgrading the lines in my area and had no idea when the job would be finished.  Up until last summer I'd been getting service from Verizon and then suddenly for reasons of which I am not aware, my provider become Frontier.  Okay, no big deal if I've still got service, but last November I began noticing that my connection was no longer reliable.  I was becoming annoyed with this new provider.  And as the months went by, the service got worse until that day of the shut down.

          The tech guy at Frontier said that it could be a while before the upgrades in our area were completed and he had no idea when things would get better.  He did, however, offer to connect me with a sales rep who might have some other service to offer me.  I accepted--after all, it couldn't hurt to listen and I wasn't doing anything else.

          The rep said that they could install a different kind of service through another cable other than my phone line and that service would be far faster and more dependable.  After I inquired as to how much additional I'd be paying, he checked my current plan and told me that the new faster plan would be about $25 less.  Sounded like a deal to me so I said to proceed.

          The technician came today and set me up with the new service.   I've only been working with the new set up for half a day now, but if this is how it's going to be then you can count me as a happy camper.  If everything continues as it's been going today then I'll be rocking and rolling this April.  And if the price and service stays like it is now I'm going to be so crazy in love with Frontier.

         And by the way, if you haven't been doing so already, be sure to be checking the A to Z Challenge Blog for updates and tips about the upcoming April Challenge.  Things are being done differently this year and that's where you can get your Challenge info as well as helpful pointers to make the Challenge--and blogging in general--a bit more rewarding.

Battle of the Bands

        In my most recent round of Battle, I pitted two versions of Paul Anka's 1958 hit "Crazy Love" as done by the Serbian artist Miki Jevremović and the Cuban singers Dúo Los Diablos.   I liked both of these a great deal.   Miki's version was certainly the most commercial sounding and closest to Anka's original recording.  The Dúo gave a darker jazzier bluesy turn to the song and that is the version that I gave my vote to.  My vote was enough to break a tie and push the Cuban duet over the top for the win.  And before doing the tally I was sure that Miki had won.  What a race that was!

Final Vote Tally

Miki Jevremović      12

Dúo Los Diablos      13

Next Battle on Wednesday March 15th

       I'm planning a post or two before that next Battle.  I may not get directly political, but I might be a bit controversial nevertheless.  After all, Tossing It Out is my business on this blog.  My next Battle is one that came to me recently and mid-March seemed to be a good time to do it.  With the April Challenge quickly approaching, the pairing I've planned seemed to be something on the minds of many.  The next Battle will consist of two different songs by two well-known groups.  The songs involve a related theme--it's something we all deal with on a daily basis.   Maybe that gives you some hints so you're free to guess the songs or the theme.  You've got some time to think about it.

       Are you planning to participate in this year's A to Z Challenge?   How's your internet service?  Have you become somewhat dependent on computers and internet?