Monday, November 13, 2017

The Cinematic Fractionation: The 1950's

As I continue to give me eyes a break I'm pulling out some blogs that I've sandbagged for “such a time as this” so to speak so here are some of my personal favorite movies by decade; this week:

1950's

Harvey (1950)



Jimmy Stewart as Elwood P. Dowd, a simple man who has a 6' invisible rabbit friend named Harvey; they both wreck havoc all over town.

The Thing From Another World (1951)



An alien organism crash lands in the Arctic: he's frozen, thawed & that naturally makes him mean… hungry & mean.

Day The Earth Stood Still (1951)



Another sci-fi classic: an alien comes to newly-acquired-nuclear Earth & tells them to knock it off, get along & play nice w/ others or his race will handle things.

Sabrina (1954)



Humphrey Bogart, Alan Ladd & the lovely Audrey Hepburn in a love triangle w/ life lessons in heartbreak, growing up & personal sacrifice.

Rear Window (1954)



Another Hitchcock classic: a suspicion, a dog, a suitcase, a camera & murder! Jimmy Stewart, Raymond Burr & Grace Kelly = perfection.

Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956)



A small town doctor returns to his small town to find a big time alien invasion happening; nothing & no one are as they seem...

12 Angry Men (1957)



Henry Fonda's tour-de-force as a lone juror who believes in the innocence of a defendant, 'great direction/writing/acting & a compelling insight into human nature.

Plan 9 From Outer Space (1959)



Often called the worst movie of all time this is actually a little gem even w/ all the goofs, bad edits, shower curtain sets & so called “acting”...

Honorable Mention:

The Incredible Shrinking Man (1957)



A man shrinks in size after exposure to radiation so everyday objects become a terrifying challenge & ordinary pets & insects become threats as he struggles to survive.

Monday, November 6, 2017

The Cinematic Fractionation: The 1940's

As I give my eyes a break after some severe eye strain I continue my series of sandbagged blogs of my personal favorite movies by decade.

1940's

Charlie Chan at the Wax Museum (1940)



One of the best Charlie Chan films: a story of two tales of revenge & one of vindication.

The Mark of Zorro (1940)



Tyrone Power & Linda Darnell both command the screen in this swashbuckler packed w/ action, mystery & romance.

My Favorite Wife (1940)



Irene Dunne returns after being stranded on a desert island to find her husband Cary Grant newly remarried, hilarity ensues.

The Maltese Falcon (1941)



Humphrey Bogart, Peter Lorre & Sydney Greenstreet in a hunt for a rare statue. THE definitive classic hard-boiled detective movie.

Casablanca (1942)



Humphrey Bogart & Ingrid Bergman in a tale of lost love in a time of war… & a sentimental song.

Arsenic & Old Lace (1944)



Cary Grant & Raymond Massey in a another screwball comedy about two crazy sisters, two crazy brothers & a crazy uncle who thinks he's Teddy Roosevelt.

Micro Phonies (1945)



A Three Stooges classic w/ the boys impersonating opera singers in a high class home.

The Stranger  (1946)



Orson Wells as a Nazi hiding out in a New England town & Edward G. Robinson as the G-Man hunting him… w/ Loretta Young… & a clock.

The Time of Their Lives (1946)



Abbot & Costello: a couple of Revolutionary War ghosts are doomed to haunt a home until their names are cleared.

Rope (1948)



A Hitchcock classic: Jimmy Stewart as a professor who learns a lesson from his students, who took his teachings a little too far... 

Honorable Mention:

The Mummy's Hand (1940)



Two bonehead archaeologists unearth a slow moving mummy who outruns & outwits them. A classic!



Tuesday, October 31, 2017

The Cinematic Fractionation: The 1930's

Continuing the blog series on my personal favorite movies by decade:

1930's

Hog Wild (1930)



A Laurel & Hardy classic: rooftop mayhem as the duo try to install a radio aerial to “get Japan”.

Love Business (1931)



Jackie & Chubby both hilariously vie for Miss Crabtree's affections.

Monkey Business (1931)



4 stowaways on a cruise ship, 2 rival gangsters & a barrel of corny jokes add up to nonstop shenanigans by the Marx Brothers.

Helpmates (1932) 



Stan Laurel helps Oliver Hardy clean up the house after a wild party.

County Hospital (1932)



Stan Laurel visits a hospitalized Oliver Hardy w/ a bag of hardboiled eggs & nuts.

The Thin Man (1934)



William Powell & Myrna Loy as Nick & Nora Charles, solving a crime w/ class, sophistication & humor.

Murder on the Blackboard (1934)



Edna Mae Oliver in her second outing as the spinster teacher/sleuth Hildegarde Withers, investigating the murder of a fellow teacher; wisecracks galore!

My Man Godfrey (1936)



William Powell as a butler who's not all he seems & Carol Lombard as the woman in love w/ him who's not all there.

Bringing Up Baby (1938)



Cary Grant & Katherine Hepburn in a screwball comedy about a dinosaur bone, a pet leopard & a crazy idea about love.

Honorable Mention(s):

The 30's & the 40's were my favorite era for movies, so there are so many films/film series that I like, among them:

The Universal Horror films



I have a soft spot for these films, 'grew up w/ them & appreciate them for what they are...

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

The Cinematic Fractionation: The 1920's

I've been taking a break from blogging due to several projects that needed wrapping up & giving my eyes a rest as they've been strained lately so I thought I'd post a few blogs (hopefully one decade a week) I've had sandbagged for a while now about my favorite movies, 'hope you enjoy the lists & perhaps you'll discover some new ones to watch!

My Favorite Movies by Decade

This is not a list of the best movies in each decade but a list of my personal favorites, ones that I like & can repeatedly watch… I purposely left out Christmas movies as I've already blogged on that topic.

1900 – 1920's

I know several people hate silent movies but I'm a fan of them, they fascinate me. I love seeing how people lived & acted a century ago, it's a great insight into human nature, American culture, etc & the 1920's is one of my all-time favorite eras.

The Rink (1916)



A Charlie Chaplin classic: a waiter, a beauty & a romantic quadrangle all collide at a skating party.

One Week (1920)



A Buster Keaton comedy: a build-by-numbers house project for newlyweds turns crazy when the numbers get mixed up.

The Mark of Zorro (1920) 



One of the first (if not the very first) great swashbucklers w/ Douglas Fairbanks in the lead role, he's pitch perfect in this.

Safety Last (1923)



My favorite Harold Lloyd film: a romance, a deception, a department store & a publicity stunt come to a head on a Saturday afternoon in the 20's.

Hot Water (1924)



Harold Lloyd again: a glimpse into domestic life complete w/ a live turkey, a sleepwalking relative & a new car.

Phantom of the Opera (1925) 



A socially inept Lon Chaney crushing on an opera singer...

Honorable Mention: Keystone Kops



Thursday, August 10, 2017

The Multifarious Avocation Affair

multifarious: having many different parts, elements, forms, numerous & varied, greatly diverse or manifold

avocation: something a person does in addition to a principle occupation, especially for pleasure, hobby

I haven't blogged much lately,  life is busy but it's good. In my spare time I've been working on a Music Room/Recording Studio at my Church building. Since I've been installing Linux on some pcs & researching new software for recording, I thought I'd take some time here to tell you about my 5 favorite Linux distributions (distros for short) that I personally use & love:

Linux Mint

Linux Mint is a great distro, set up much like Windows XP/Vista/7, everything is user friendly & just works out of the box. 

Linux Mint Cinnamon is elegant & powerful. 



Linux Mint Mate (pronounced MAH-TAY), my personal favorite, is fast & resource friendly. 



Linux Mint XFCE is the lightest of the bunch, ultra-fast & the most customizable. 



I have Cinnamon running on my main desktop, Mate running on my main laptop & XFCE running on my netbook which is powering an external monitor + external USB hub + external keyboard + external mouse & still flies like the wind.

I recently tested & played around w/ LMDE (which is the Debian edition), I liked it & when I get a spare desktop, I'd like to install that on it & explore it a little more deeply… 

The thing that makes Linux Mint so great is that everything works right out of the box, all the codecs are there & everything just works, it's my distro of choice.   

Linux Lite



Don't let the name fool you, Linux Lite is an incredible distro, based on XFCE it's true to it's name, one of the lightest distros but still packs a powerful punch. Perfect for older pcs/laptops but will run like a cheetah on newer ones. I've installed it on several pcs & everything has been flawless: installation, performance, updates. It's very much like Windows XP in it's layout so 20 seconds in & you're settling in like old times... 

I highly recommend Linux Lite; like Mint, everything works out of the box. Installing & uninstalling programs is a breeze & the user interface is crazy-friendly & bottom line = it's clean & simple.      

LXLE



LXLE stands for Lubuntu Extra Life Extended, based on Lubuntu which runs LXDE (Lightweight X11 Desktop Environment), another light-weight, user/resource friendly distro especially for older pcs. Lubuntu has the default taskbar at the bottom whereas LXLE has it at the top & it took a page from the Ubuntu Mate handbook & added another taskbar at the bottom.

I had to do some tweaking though, the screensaver/screen blanking issue had no immediate or clear cut solution, so a few hours doing some 'net research fixed that, which is a few hours I could have been doing something else… also, after running the first update, it removed VLC & left behind a couple of broken packages/discrepancies which did not allow me to re-install VLC so again, after a few hours of research, everything was eventually fixed w/ some terminal commands & VLC successfully re-installed. 

Apart from that… the more I play around w/ this distro the more I really dig it, in fact it's pretty much tied w/ Linux Lite in the resource department, speed, user interface, etc.

Ubuntu Mate



The one I love to hate & hate to love…

This distro is gorgeous, it's simply beautiful.

I love the fact it's resource friendly, very light indeed & very fast but like every Ubuntu-based distro it doesn't come w/ all the codecs so when I install VLC I have to use the terminal commands & add restricted extras, etc, etc… even then the video playbeck is sometimes choppy, laggy, etc, etc.., so I have go into VLC & do some tweaking there which doesn't always work :(

This was the first distro I had seen that had dual taskbars on top & bottom built in & I was crushing on it from that moment on; for me dual taskbars (like dual monitors) helps my work flow & doesn't clutter up just one taskbar w/ all my open programs on it, it's spread out & I can find things easier. 

I like playing around w/ it though & it's a perfect fit for some pc's. Perhaps part of it is that I simply like the Mate environment or “all things Mate”.

Ubuntu Studio 



I had originally written this distro off as something that I thought was a good idea but was bloated & too complicated to install & use but once I installed it & dug into it, I was kinda blown away.

Based off XFCE, it's lightweight & highly customizable but boy does it pack a punch! It comes pre-installed w/ several audio & video programs to immediately get you going on any project. I'm still playing around w/ it & haven't fully explored it yet but it's quickly become one of my favorite distros; in fact I have installed on the pc in the Music Room at my Church.

I will tell you this though: it's not very good handling wireless very well (on a desktop). I used a desktop pc that had Mint XFCE installed on it, I inserted a wireless USB dongle & it recognized it immediately & connected to the wifi network. I wiped that pc & installed Ubuntu Studio on it, inserted the wireless USB dongle & nothing. It read the USB & tried to connect to the wifi but never did, after several attempts it gave up! So now I have to insert an ethernet cable to get any kind of updates which is a pain but not critical at this point.

So those are my favorite distros! I ditched Windows long ago & have zero regrets. Linux is free & does everything Windows can do, why would you not take advantage of something that's free? To each his own I guess...  

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

The Quotidian Extrication

quotidian: daily, usual or customary, everyday, ordinary, commonplace

extrication: to free or release from entanglement  

There's something about monotony & routine: it's safe; boring but safe. 

I remember my Grandpa Pratt, he's been gone a few years now & I miss him but there's one thing I'll always remember about him: every morning he got up early & had a grilled cheese sandwich for breakfast. Every. Single. Morning. 

Growing up, I watched my dad execute his own routine: made coffee, grabbed his Bible & concordance, read for an hour then made breakfast; that's how he started his day, every day. He was very disciplined in that way…

When I'd take my Grandma Cooper to the Chinese restaurant, she'd always get the same food, every single time. I'd say, “Grandma, try this food” & she'd reply, “I don't want to! I like this.”

Millions of people are creatures of habit, they do the same thing every day/week/weekend/year, year after year; it bothers some, others have just gotten used to it.

Some work the same jobs for 30, 40, 50 years while others change jobs every 5-10 just to do something different.

Here's some ideas to break the monotony of life that most of us fall into:
  • Try replacing breakfast & lunch w/ a brunch once a week; if you really want shake things up, invite someone over to join you.
  • Take one night a week, clear your schedule & watch a sunset in a different place each time: a park, the beach, the town square, etc. Maybe grab your guitar or mandolin & quietly close out your day w/ some intimate worship
  • Once a week, wake up early, grab a cup of coffee & watch a sunrise on your deck or patio. Close your eyes for a minute & listen to sounds of nature, listen to the birds in their morning worship service… it's a perfect time to pray in tongues.
  • Maybe twice a week, leave 15-20 minutes early for work & take a different route… there's so much to see in the world & sometimes we miss it because of our routines.
  • If you usually have morning devotions switch it up once a week & have afternoon or evening devotions. It's great to read your Bible every day but switch it up 2-3 times a week w/ listening to the Bible, a chapter here, an entire book there… something that really brought freshness to me was listening to the different letters in the NT in their entirety.
  • Even playing guitar can get monotonous: learn new styles, new scales, new chords, chord voicings, alternate tunings, play w/ a capo or even a cut capo, play around w/ some different effects, shake it up, break it up
  • When writing songs, try to avoid the usual verse-chorus-verse-chorus-solo-chorus format, chop that song up w/ different arrangements 
  • Once a month, go to a retirement home & play some games w/ the folks, listen to their stories, learn something from them…
  • Once a month, go to an orphanage & play w/ some kids or get a group together & visit the children's ward at your local hospital.
  • In your fellowship, maybe forgo a sermon once a month & have 4-5 youth share for 5-10 minutes on a certain topic
  • Have an outdoor service once in a while, either in the parking lot, the beach or at the park where your church picnic is held then morph right into food & fellowship

These are just ideas to do something different, shake up the monotony of life that we all fall into from time to time. What are you ideas? How do you break free from the mundane? 

Friday, August 4, 2017

The Royal Etiquette Complication

I'm sure you're aware that there rules/guidelines for meeting w/ a monarch, right? Say you were going to meet the ruling monarch of England: there's protocol on what to wear, how to enter their presence, what to say, when to say it, how to leave their presence, etc… 

I've been thinking about this lately in correlation to worship.

If you look through the Bible, there's countless verses on God's presence & the proper protocol on how to “enter in” but did you notice there's zero verses on how to exit His presence? Zero. I cannot find one verse on the proper protocol for exiting God's presence.

Now that's mind-blowing.

In my online conversations w/ different worship leaders across the country, no one has been able to answer this. Perhaps there's zero verses on exiting God's presence because... oh I don't know… He doesn't want you to exit it!

There's an implied mindset/attitude that you obviously do [exit God's presence] because most every Sunday in every fellowship across the globe you hear about “entering His gates w/ thanksgiving in your heart, entering His courts w/ praise” but then what? If you can tell the exact the second you enter in would it not also stand to reason that you could tell the exact second you leave His presence? Do you leave His presence at the closing prayer? In the parking lot? At the restaurant? When you awake from your Sunday afternoon nap? Monday morning when you're getting ready for work? 

So the question is this: 
Just when do you leave His presence 
 (that you have to enter in again at some point) 
& why would you even leave it?

I've really been pondering this… 
  • if you're “joined to the Lord & one spirit w/ Him” & 
  • He said He'll never leave us nor forsake us & 
  • He's w/ us always 
Then where does “entering in” fit in?

Now, I've been saved for 43 years & been in worship ministry for 30 years, so I'm familiar w/ the presence of God, the manifest presence of the Lord, the shekinah glory, etc… so I'm not a novice when it comes to Biblical things/concepts but the more I study the Word, the more I soak in worship & the more I dwell on Him these questions/concepts challenge me in regards to what I do & why I do it.

Lately I've been so much more aware of my identity in Christ, my position in Him & His constant presence in my life, so much so that once I “enter in” (per se) I tend to remain “in”. Even in the daily conversations, interactions & business of life my thoughts, my mind, my heart, my spirit is in a state of continual praise & worship that I often feel as if I have never left His presence.

Under the Old Covenant, God's Spirit came & went... His presence came & went… Moses even said “unless Your presence goes w/ me I won't go”. Under the New Covenant we can go because Christ is w/ us always & where Christ is, His presence is. 

I love what the Psalmist wrote recorded in 139:18, “If I could count them (God's thoughts [toward me]), they would outnumber the sand. When I awake, I am still with You”. Now here's someone under the Old Covenant who had a New Covenant revelation of the constant presence of the Lord.

According to Psalm 22:3 does God inhabit the praises of His people? Absolutely He does. 

The Hebrew word for inhabit is yâshab (yaw-shab') = to dwell, to remain; causatively, to settle, to marry...

According to Psalm 34:1 are God's praises continuously in the mouths of His worshipers? Absolutely they are (or should be).

The Hebrew word for continuously is tâmîyd (taw-meed) = constant/constantly; the regular (daily) sacrifice: always, continual, daily, evermore, perpetual.

Look at these words: dwell, remain, marry, always, continual, evermore... are these words that denote coming & going, entering & exiting?

How would your life/Christian walk change if you focused not so much on “entering in” but on “remaining in” knowing that because there's no protocol for leaving His presence that perhaps He doesn't want you to? Perhaps He wants you to be so God-conscious, so aware of His presence that it changes everything in you & everyone around you... 

Questions? Comments?