Archive for August, 2009

Once

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , on August 21, 2009 by Budd Black

Picked this movie up because I thought it had John McGinley in it.
Seriously, the lead, Glen Hansard, looks just like him. Got home,
realized that he wasn't and, thankfully, watched the movie anyways.

The movie revolves around an Irish singer/songwriter (Hansard)
and a young Czech immigrant (Marketa Irglova) as they meet and attempt
to record a demo. Along the way a beautiful friendship is forged, great
songs are sung, and both of their worlds change a little. The music is
real as both Hansard and Irglova are professional musicians. It has a
moving, soul felt quality that instantly grabbed me. The acting was
superb. Irglova is absolutely adorable in the role and Hansard is
perfect in his role of down and out musician with a dream.

This movie was more. After I watched it, I got the feeling that
it was very important for some reason. These almost strangers came
together and helped each other out, sometimes in ways that neither would
ever have understood. It felt real and it felt pure. This movie tells
you to never give up and that it is okay to have a dream. Hansard's
character is afraid to fail at the beginning, but by the end, he, and
the audience, knows that trying and failing would still be succeeding.
This is the message I will take away. Trying and failing is still
succeeding where dreams are concerned.

Excellent movie! I have no problems telling people to rent this
one, heck buy it if you want. There is quite a bit of language in this
movie so let the wee ones go to bed first.

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Soldier (1998)

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , on August 17, 2009 by Budd Black

This movie came on ion tonight and I gave it a watch for the first time since seeing it in theaters.  This movie stars Kurt Russell as SGT Todd.  Todd is the soldier of the title and was trained since birth, with several others, to be a super soldiers.  The movie opens with a montage of different training that the soldiers went through and also different battles that they had fought in. 

Flash forward and the soldiers are all well decorated and Todd stands out as the best of the best.  The soldiers are aging and their numbers diminishing from combat.  Just in time, a new crop of soldiers show up.  This new group are genetically modified perfect soldiers.  To test the new soldiers Todd is pitted up against Cain 607 (Jason Scott Leigh).  Cain beats Todd in every test and eventually dispatches him in hand to hand combat with two other older soldiers, just to make it fair. 

Todd is left for dead on a trash planet and is adopted by the locals.  For whatever reason the ship comes back a couple of weeks later and they decide to wipe out the population of the planet as training for the new soldiers.  Todd has gained affection for these people in the two weeks, and decides to protect them while wiping out the new batch of soldiers, killing the leaders of the program, and liberating the old obsolete soldiers. 

The movie isn’t half bad.  I like the concept of soldiers raised from birth and the message that a non brain washed soldier will be a superior soldier to one that is basically a robot.  If you know what you are fighting for, you are more likely to win.  The really awesome thing about this movie is all the nods it makes to other science fiction movies.  Check out the trivia on imdb for a rundown.

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The School Board Sucks

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , on August 14, 2009 by Budd Black

Tonight, I went to a meeting of the Rutherford County, TN school board.  It was a public meeting to discuss a new magnet school that would cover grades 6-12.  This in itself is great and much needed. Rutherford County currently has three magnet schools.  Two of them are grades K-8 and the one my daughter goes to is K-6.  The board, in its infinite wisdom had decided that they would make one of the k-8 schools K-5 due to the new school covering 6-12.  They decided that any of the kids at that school would be grandfathered into the new schools 6-8 program without having to test or meet the standards.  This would fill 50 of the 125 slots that the middle school would handle.  My daughters school, however would have to test to get in, plus meet the 3.0 and 80th percentile on state testing to even apply.  Not to mention all the kids that might want to go to the school from regular public schools in the county. 

Needless to say, the parents at my daughter's school (Discovery School at Reeves Rogers) were very upset about the grandfather clause and were contesting it.  The Parents at the school being contracted (McFadden School of Excellence)  were arguing that they signed on and picked that school because it was K-8.  They felt that their snowflakes might melt if asked to take a test and meet standards.  One parent actually argued that it would be psychologically harmful for the students to get rejected by not scoring well on the test.   Um, what about the other children.  I was okay with a compromise that would allow the children that were having the classes moved out from under them (the current 5th, 6th, and 7th graders) to be grandfathered in but thought that all future classes should have to test in. 

One of the board members actually proposed this and it went to vote only to fail 5-3.  With a former principal of McFadden that has two children in the school stating he could not support it.  The director of schools removed himself from the vote because his grandchild attends McFadden.  Actually, 5 people on the board have current or former ties to McFadden.  So, we lost. 

I approached the director of schools at a break and mentioned that it would only be a matter of years until Discovery School relinquishes their 6th grade program due to parents knowing that 75 slots would be open for 6th grade at the new school (Central Academic Magnet School). but the 7th grade would only have slots from people that left or couldn't cut it.  I approx that about 5 -10 slots will open for 7th and 8th grade each year.  Everyone will have to re-apply and re-test for the H.S. program.  With the 6th grade sentenced to death, it is only a matter of time before it dies.  I asked if when this happened, if any student who came in under the promise of K-6 school would be grandfathered into the new school as well.  I was told, flat out, no.  Double standard anyone? 

I harbor no ill will.  I believe that when my daughter reaches 5th grade she will test into the new school, but what if she or one of her friends test number 76 or higher?  They will be left out to dry because a child, that may not be as academically gifted, because they were grandfathered in by a school board that was, at the very least, biased.  I guess it won't be as psychologically harmful when I tell my daughter she didn't get in because a dumber kid didn't have to test to get in.   

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In Memory of Deebo

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , on August 12, 2009 by Budd Black

While looking an old Army buddy up on facebook, I found his memorial page instead.  He died last month of a brain aneurysm.  He was just a few years older than me.  He had been working as a personal trainer in Atlanta. 

He had a bright and funny personality that you could never forget.  He was always smiling and everyone, even the NCOs called him Deebo.  He was a health fanatic.  He took really good care of himself.  I don't know for sure but I would have put him at 5'10", 205lbs, 7% body fat.  When they checked height and weight to make sure everyone was within limits it was always the big joke that Deebo was going to have to go get taped for being overweight. 

One of the things I will most remember about him was his love for wrestling.  I mean professional wrestling a la WWE.  Deebo and some of his buddies would start wrestling matches in the baracks hallways.  If you happened to be coming through, you were involved.  Lots of times you would hear it going on and run to the rescue of someone you knew.  It was all in good fun and bumps and bruises were the worst that came out of it.  I can thank Deebo for teaching me how to take a paint roller pan to the head and an aluminum trash can to the back. 

I have plenty more stories, but they get a bit more colorful as I go.  Deebo was able to reach his goal of becoming a wrestler after he left the Army.  He was in one of the WWE's developmental leagues and apperantly had a television fight.  He fought under the name Damien Steele.  He always joked the we would see him in the WWE (then called the WWF) someday.  I always kept a look out for him whenever I cought a match. 

Unfortunately, I searched his name on facebook just a few weeks too late.  I am sure it would have been a generic facebook reunion like every other person I add to my list.  "Hey how you doing," and the occasional comment on a post.  But, it would have been nice. 

He leaves behind two children, so pray for them growing up without their father.

See you at Fiddler's Green, Deebo.  Scouts Out!

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Be Warned

Posted in Uncategorized on August 11, 2009 by Budd Black

They are doing a second Ghost Rider movie. Nic Cage will reprise his
role as Johnny Blaze. This is destined to suck.

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Anathem

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , on August 6, 2009 by Budd Black
Anathem
Neal Stephenson

This book can not be explained in a short review. Stephenson creates a
world that is very complicated, has its own history, and creates a
language to go along with it. While some elements of the novel will be
very similar to what the reader is used to, some of the book can be very
confusing.

The story follows Erasamas, a young avout, as he is pulled out of his
math (a scientific monastery of sorts) with several of his companions to
solve a problem of the secular world. The beginning of the book is set
up to explain to you what a math is like before you get to the actual
plot. The pacing can be slow at times but lightening quick at others.
This is a very aggressive work by Stephenson and may be called his
masterpiece. Not that it is perfect, but Stephenson set out to write a
literary science fiction novel and he succeeded.

Readers of Stephenson know that he has a tendency to not end a book so
much as he stops writing it. In this book Stephenson did a good job of
wrapping things up on some degree and leaving a lot up to the
imaginations of his readers. A goal that he has been tweaking from day
one.

This book is hard to suggest to just anyone. People with very
scientific minds that love talking about and exploring theories and
science should really get into this book. The literary elite have
seemed to enjoy this book as well. This book is very deep and thought
provoking though. This isn't popular sci-fi. Personally, I loved it.

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Book Club tonight

Posted in Uncategorized on August 5, 2009 by Budd Black

If anyone is interested the Nashville Science Fiction Book Club is
meeting tonight at 7pm at WillStan's Grille in La Vergne. We will
discuss Anathem by Neal Stephenson. Everyone is welcome. The clubs
website is http://www.nsfbc.org or they can be found on meetup and on
facebook if you search Nashville Science Fiction Book Club.

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