Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Five Thoughts 2

This is the second installment of a new blog series.

  1. Death of the World Wide Web?
    Interesting article
    in Wired regarding the movement from browsers to mobile apps.  A good thing?  I’m not sure.  I get chills every time I’m about to install one.  Hokey Pokey!  Why does a magnifying glass app need my contact list?  Ah, ”…and that’s what it’s all about.”  Regardless, It’s apparently just another migration in form factor.  Don’t forget the Palm Pilot!  Or maybe not.

    Fact:  PC’s and laptops are lasting longer.  Microsoft and Apple aren’t producing new operating systems every two years, productivity software no longer makes quantum advances, and content has become far less rich and dynamic than it was a few years ago during Flash’s heyday.  Media in general has become utilitarian, less art.  No different than album covers to CDs to MP3 (nothing physical, really).  There’s a death all right.  
  2. Peyton
    Old age and treachery…  Yeah, that was no less than 25 yards penalized on the Chargers’ defensive line for Neutral Zone Infraction / Off-sides simply due to Manning’s booby-trapped cadence.  Unreal!
    I’m looking forward to the AFC Championship.  And this coming from an NFC man.  To me, the Superbowl—the actual football game, I mean—will pale in comparison.  Manning, Brady, so many other great talents, not to forget the undeniable coaching greatness—and all of this at Mile High.  (How do you like the place now, Rivers?)  Next Sunday, I won’t be thinking of writing.  I’ll have an ale in hand, watching history. 

  3. Theaters Should Ban Phones And Be Done With It
    If you follow the news at all you heard about THIS – a man shot recently in a Florida theater (near my town, actually) for texting…during the previews.  Okay, I might get placed on an FBI list for having the Scrubs-style fantasy, but I’d be lying if I didn’t secretly yearn for full-on carnal annihilation every time a phone screen lit during a show.  But to act on it?  Not worth the penalty.  Increasingly, I wonder just how much time the theater industry has left before instituting bag checks, TSA-style body scans, profiling and so forth. Weapons are a matter apart from cell phones, however…well, usually.  Out of respect for the art and patron’s money, perhaps it’s time to trash any debate for “tactful” phone use by cheerfully mandating a ban, and actually enforcing it.  You won’t receive any complaints from me! 
    Speaking of the movies...

  4. Oscars On The Way
    I’ve seen most of the Best Movie contenders, but I can’t make any concrete predictions.  I saw no standouts except one, and I'll get to that.  All I know right now is that if there was a trophy for Best Performance From An Entire Cast, it should go to American Hustle.  If there was another for Preposterousness, it belongs to Wolf of Wall Street, hands down.  Hard to judge Best Actress too, but Judy Dench is simply superb in Philomena, and it’s a truly touching story with just enough homosexuality to satiate the most liberal West Hollywood coiffeur.  I've yet to see Nebraska, Inside Llewyn Davis, Blue Jasmine, All is Lost, and a few others. Working on it!

    12 Years A Slave?  I’ve heard friends and family say “It’s a painful watch.”  Very true.  It could be the modern Roots, and it has quite a bit of Oscar buzz, but I have few couple problems with it.

    • First, it just rips me to hear the N-word bandied as often as the F-bomb in Wolf of Wall Street.  MLK Jr. fought so hard to have it erased from the modern lexicon, but so many seem apt to keep it alive.  Okay for historical purposes, perhaps, but it carries less impact when spoken so often.
    • Second, what’s up with the blinding white teeth on everyone?  It’s 1841!
    • Tries too hard for landscape cinematography, and a couple tracking shots had noticeable bounce.  (Loved the authentic katydid background audio, though!)
    • Chiwetel Ejiofor’s performance is indeed superb, but scenes where he’s facing the camera and desperately avoiding it with his eyes, well…I almost chuckled after a minute straight of it the second time.  Grandfather Guilt made sure I didn’t.
    • The acting overall was hit and miss.  Mostly excellent, but a few stiff instances tarnished the entire film somewhat.
    • (Spoiler Alert!)  Lastly, Brad Pitt.  I suppose I should expect if he’s footing some of the movie’s bill, he would take the righteous character role as an abolitionist.  I was so much hoping for a baddie this time.  <sigh>  Thank goodness for Michael Fassbender.  Damn, he's good!

    Nonetheless, a great film and certainty in future art and history classrooms.  I can hear it now: “What did the violin symbolize?“

    Dallas Buyer's Club:  Easy choice for Best Actor for Matthew McConaughey, and probable Best Supporting win for Jared Leto.  I mean, spooky good!  (Golden Globes makes this easier, but I just didn't see anyone better last year).  DBC makes a strong argument for Best Picture too.

    Gravity:  Seems so long ago now.  We paid the extra for the full IMAX 3D ride.  $16@ left me with a cold-as-space feeling in the wallet, but I think that IF (big if!) one were to shell out the extra, Gravity is the closest movie to take full advantage of the format.  Acting? Not sure about a win, but Sandra Bullock deserves a nod at the very least for Best Female Lead Actor.  I'd also give strong nods (if not wins) for the technical side, effects, production, etc.  Even so, the overall experience did not justify twice the average ticket price, meaning, we likely won't go for it again.

    Quick word on Wolf of Wall Street:  No...can't.  There's just too much to comment.  See it, but make sure there's a nuclear scrubdown facility adjacent to the theater.  Or a brothel if you're single.
  5. General Aviation: Another Death?
    I don’t tout the fact that I possess a private pilot’s license because I’ve not flown as a Pilot in Command in over 20 years.  Sad, but true!  My excuse is simple: cost.

    From time to time, I reexamine my personal travel needs, weighing against dreams of keeping a skill alive.  After all, pilot’s licenses don’t actually expire; they revert to “not current” without frequent maintenance in the form of regular physical exams, take offs and landings, and biennial reviews from a government examiner.  The license isn’t the problem, it’s the cost of flying itself.

    Light aircraft are still relatively affordable, ranging from $15,000 to, well, sky’s-the-limit.  Once you factor in the regular maintenance, insurance, and the highest hurdle—100LL (100 octane low lead) avgas at over $6/gal, then you have a real cash-gormandizing dragon on your hands.  Unless you’re rich or very near it, that is.  I’m not.  And does owning a light aircraft these days make any sense at all even if you are rich?  Probably not.  Commercial flying is still relatively inexpensive and mostly reliable.  That begs the question: are we in this as a hobby—for the sheer joy of it—or as a matter of practicality? (saving time, convenience, and so forth).

    Perhaps this thought deserves a longer article sometime, but I wanted it tabled:  My personal observation was that a common middle-classer could afford flying, barely, 20 years ago.  Now?  I see planes wasting away at their tie downs, and I no longer hear the regular buzz of them overhead.

    I look at the manufacturer’s websites and their new planes are well over $125,000, averaging over $400k for a plane with no better performance than those of 40 years ago.  One exception, being Cessna’s diesel JT-A (Jet A fueled, almost half the consumption compared to its avgas twin), but it costs almost half a million fun tickets.  I’d better start selling some books!  Yes, I also looked into fractional ownerships and the light sport game.  Not my bag.  Too many question marks and, well, I’d just rather have my own toy.  But only if it made sense.

    So, where’s General Aviation headed?

  6. Six?  Well, this isn't really a thought but more of a pondering.  Do you think I should create regular topics and expand this?  Common themes seem to be:
    • Current Events / News
    • Music, Movies, and/or Sports
    • Tech
    • Politics, Politics, Politics!  (you have to say this ala Mel Brooks)
    • Personal Gripe or Praise.
    More Next Time,


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    T. Nelson Taylor | Official Site | DusT | Bolita