I've also been told I have little tact, so if this offends you simply ride on.

Friday, October 31, 2014

The Teeny Weeny Truth (about male frontal nudity in films)

Recently there was a big commotion  about the possibility of seeing Ben Afleck's penis in "Gone Girl."  Of course, it was nothing but commotion.  At the same time there was an undercurrent of murmurings about the lack of frontal male nudity in films.  Why is it so many women do the money shots and men don't?  I would think the answer to be fairly obvious, (or maybe not).  Not all men are created equal, some are more equal then others.  Unfortunately a lot of things effect that equality, sometimes on a minute to minute basis.  Let me use women's breasts to make my point.  If you have an actress who wears a 38 D cup bra, and you put her in a cool room, she doesn't need to change to a 32 A cup.  However, if your average actor takes off his pants in a cool room, things minimize rather quickly.  And it's not just temperature which can effect these changes; all sorts of variables suddenly come in to play.  Even someone well endowed has times when all he seems to have are short comings.

Take Chris Evans, there are a lot of people who would love to see him doing full frontal on the silver screen.  Is it ever going to happen?  While 'never' is a terrible word to use, I'd say the possibilities of it happening are very, very unlikely. For him to do so, I suspect the scene would need to be the lynch pin of the film, that integral part holding it together.  Of course, then there is fan expectation.  What if it's a cold day on the set?  Would you really want fans to ask "is that all there is?"  In spite of what people may want, something like that can ruin a career, especially if that's the only reason they go see a film.  Sometimes the smartest move is not to give fans what they want.  If some things didn't seem to have a mind of their own, if they weren't fickle about the temperature, or who's looking at them.  If, in general, things were more equal, you might see more male frontal nudity.  As I said, however, there really are too many variables and, unfortunately, that is the teeny weeny truth.   

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Furiously aiming away from the Bulls-eye

Inside the tank there is order, outside the world is surreal and chaotic.

That's right, I saw Fury last evening.  In some respects it was very good, however, there is a however - meaning in some respects it didn't do so good.  The combat scenes were great, I had no problem with them.  They were quite well done, except for the colored tracer bullets - they reminded me too much of one of the games I play.  It was those surreal and chaotic scenes outside of the tank with which I had problems.  Why?  Because, even though they were surreal and chaotic, I knew how they were going to end.  In other words, they were predictable.  Which is a problem.  In fact, the whole film was fairly predictable.

I really did like the combat scenes though.  Perhaps this is because they were dynamic, they were fast paced with super slick edits, and, most important, they kept me from thinking about those minutes of surreal and chaotic drama that really did nothing more then waste my time.  And they kept me from thinking about the predictability of the whole thing.  Like thinking about which character is going to die next, and die they do.  This is war, after all, and that means characters are going to get killed off, not all of them, mind you, but enough to make you understand that "war is hell."

I really wanted to like this movie and, sadly, in the end all I can say is that it was okay.  I don't know if it was the director / writer, or what, but for some reason it kept furiously aiming  away from the bulls-eye.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Team building in a corn field

This past Sunday the stores complete management team when on a Team Building exercise - we wondered around through a Corn Maze.  There were to be other activities besides the Maze, but that was to be the centerpiece of the day.   This was where we were to be separate in to teams that were clique free.  Hhmm.  Anyway, since I'd never gone through a maze I was looking forward to that part of the day.  Sadly, it's fairly late in October and as a result the corn stalks were quite dry.

 So there was very little suspense because when you reached a turn or intersection you could see which way to go.  Still, we picked a flag bearer for our team and headed off into the almost unknown.  The maze, itself, was 7 acres in size and the estimated time to complete it in its entirety was estimated to be about an hour and a half - more then enough time for teams to bond.  However, the maze was also broken down into sections which could be completed in much less time.  No one had the foresight to tell the teams they needed to complete the entire maze, so we all went in...and then we all came out twenty minutes later.

Of course this played havoc with the schedule since now all of us had an hour of free time.  This is where the team building thing tended to fall apart.

There was a zipline, however it was closed because of 30 mph gusts of wind.

Don't get me wrong, it wasn't a bad day.  I had fun.  It's just that it was not the most successful team building exercise I've been on.  Still, now I can say I have been in a maze, and I would do it again if asked.  

Friday, October 24, 2014

HRM logistics

It's a beautiful day in Pennsylvania and, as usual on beautiful days, I have to work.

What makes this more crappy then usual is that my new HRM is due to be delivered today.  Originally it was supposed to arrive tomorrow so it'll be here a day early, which is nice.  Of course, I won't get to play around with it until I get home from work.

Currently I have a Garmin 405CX which suited me just fine, until a couple of months ago when problems began cropping up.  The GPS had issues connecting to satellites even outside on a clear sunny day.  I could deal with that.  But then it started locking up and the only way to fix it was to do a reset which meant losing a lot of data.  You changed screens by sliding your finger around the bezel and... well, stopped working.  And there were other little problems which just started to become aggravating so I said "enough," and ordered a new one.  It's a Garmin 220 Forerunner.

The old HRM... still woks as a watch

The logistics on how the new one is arriving are rather amusing.  It was shipped FedEx Smartpost from Allentown, PA, which is 89 miles, north east, of where I live.  It's route took it through Harrisburg (5 miles away) down to St. Martinsburg, WV, which is 91 miles to my south west.  It was then transferred to a truck which brought it back to Enola, the suburb in which I live, where it was... put on a truck to take it to the Post Office in Camp Hill, (again about 5 miles away).  In Camp Hill, the new HRM was put on a delivery truck which is, as I type, on its way back to Enola.  A little convoluted if you ask me.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Wall of words

Yesterday I had off and, of course, it was crappy rainy again.  A Nor'easter was sliding up the east coast bringing with it lots of wind and rain.  Weather like that usually means I don't get much done and, besides a couple of loads of laundry, I didn't.  Today the weather has been kind of blustery but at least it's been dry and I got more accomplished then I had intended.  This is always good.

One of the things I completed was the rearrangement of what one of my friends calls the "Compugymmusic Room," because it contained my computer, my keyboards and my weight equipment.  Well the keyboards were moved down to the first floor some time ago and a desk had been installed where the weight bench had been.  In doing so, I opened up the one wall and lo and behold my wall of words.  It was a neat little thing to do when I first covered the wall and it's still neat to look at.

The overhead light is on so there's a bit of a glare, but you get the idea.  In case you're wondering, you're looking at Rome and Juliet.  I guess, if you wanted, you could call it my wall of Shakespeare but I like wall of words.  An acquaintance once said "you know, you'll have to cover it up when you sell the house," which is why he's an acquaintance and not a friend.  Eventually I will sell the house, most likely when I'm old and decrepit, but I don't think I'll ever cover it up.  It was my idea.  It's part of me.  Why should I cover up part of myself?  Who knows, in the distant future, the new owners, who ever they may be, might also like my wall of words.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Managing your Veterinarian

It's that time of year when I start to get postcards from my Veterinarian, I have dogs, you know?  The postcard I received yesterday reminded me that "Lilly is due for the following in November:  Rabies 3 year vaccine-imrab 3" and a Fecal exam -intestinal parasite.  I will make an appointment and she will get her shot.  We'll pass on the fecal exam.  She has already had two fecal exams, one by her breeder's vet and one from my vet after I got her home.  Besides, I've learned through past experience, my Vet will want to do a fecal exam every year. This is what she did with Gert.  What they're really doing is charging me $25 to check her poop for worms.  That's it.  Do any of my dogs need to have a fecal exam every year?  Nope.  Does my Vet send me a postcard every year saying it's time to do a fecal exam?  Yep.  Why?  Easy money.  While I'm sure most Vets do, indeed, love animals, the bottom line for the vast majority is money.  They're not in the business to starve.

Vets aren't bad, they just need to be managed.  When I talk to people who take their dogs or cats to the Vet for regular checkups I find their bill averages around $200.  Mine averages around $75.  Many Vets have no problem guilting you into services you really don't need.  Take Lyme disease.  Surprisingly 90% of all dogs infected with Lyme disease never show any symptoms... hhmmm, and Vet's make it sound so bad.  The symptoms those remaining 10% do develop are: lethargy, aching joints and lack of appetite, and those symptoms are treated with simple antibiotics.  Don't believe me?  The PA University's School of Veterinary Medicine has a very good web site.  I've learned a lot there.  Of course Vets are still going to want to charge you for a Lyme disease test, as well as a Lyme disease vaccine.  That's $50 bucks from your pocket to theirs.

What I'm saying is that Vet's, in general, are not bad, they just need to be managed, like small children.  If you're not careful, they will cost you an arm and a leg all the while talking in "baby talk" to your pet.

Friday, October 17, 2014

The Funny Side of Forums

I was off for 2 days and, of course, the weather was crappy, rainy.  Today it's bright and sunny... and I have to go to work.  Where's the fun in that?  Which is the subject for today.  Fun.

I like playing video games for two reason, I find them fun and challenging.  I recently played Mass Effect 3 for the second time because 95% of the game is fun and challenging.  The last 5%, the ending, is terrible.  If I know someone is going to play it, I advise them to play through the battle of London and then stop.  Very, very few people like the ending.  It's why sales started off great and then tanked.  No one wants to play a game with a rotten ending.

Anyway, as I did the first time I played the game I went into the Bioware forums to express my dissatisfaction a second time.  As I did the first time I stated that I like to play games because they are both fun and challenging.  This morning, to my surprise, I found some individual had commented negatively about my entry.  The individual had suggested I was playing games for the wrong reason.  This person posted a link to a blog and went on to question whether I only went to movies that were fun, or read books that were fun, or only listened to music that was fun.

My first thought was that this person was being pretentiously trite.  So, I followed the link to the blog and read it.  It was pretty much an attack on people's need to have fun and by doing so they were ignoring the serious side of life.  It was very critical regarding the word 'fun' and all of its connotations.  But then, at the end, there was a PS.  Here the writer claimed the article was really about people needing things to be funny, not fun.  There's a big difference there.  So, I copied the PS and tacked it into my response which was simply "you evidently didn't read the PS."

I enjoy going to movies, for me that's fun, however I don't only go see funny movies.  There is a big difference.  That's one of the things about Forums, you find out some people do say funny things.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Letting the Girls out

I'm off today and, of course, it's raining; something moving up the coast from down south.  We had some torrential rains this AM - the kind where you find yourself soaked to the skin in a couple seconds.  And, of course, I was shopping at my new, neighborhood Giant at the time.  Of course I had parked at the far end of the parking lot because it hadn't been raining at the time.

As I said, this is my day off, the first of two in a row; a scarcity in retail management.  I have the same two days off next week - key Twilight Zone music.  I never get two days off in a row.  I work every Monday, that's my HR day, when I'm supposed to deal with issues.  I also work every weekend, unless I request them off.  Another thing I don't get are fixed shifts - this means I can close the store on one day and open the store the next.  They do try and give us 10 hours off between shifts, but that doesn't always happen.

I do like to take the girls for a walk on days I have off, they love the park.  It wasn't until this past Monday, when one of my female associates reminded me, that when women talk about "the girls" they are not talking about female Boxers.  Evidently they've been chuckling away for some time behind my back because a lot of times when I leave work I say "it's time to go home and let the girls out."  I tried to let them out today but neither one of them likes getting wet.  Tomorrow the forecast is for occasional showers, so, weather permitting, and since I am once again scheduled off, I will try and take the girls for a walk.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

An Incarcerating Moment

We are in the middle of Cashier Appreciation Month at the store and, as a result, Department Managers are voluntarily going front and giving cashiers fifteen minute breaks as a way of saying 'thank you.'  Yesterday I did two stints at the Pro-Registers since I tend to get along well with contractors.  On my last stint I had a customer come with $168 of merchandise.  When it came time to pay he told me it would be with a credit card and pulled a small sheet of paper from his pocket with a number written on it.  This may seem unusual but a lot of contractors will send in their workers with just the number if they need product in a hurry.  Unfortunately for this customer, after he had keyed in the number, he got an error message.  I explained to him that things were rapidly changing with the way we handle credit cards because of the data breach.  His response was "really?  I've been incarcerated for a while.  I didn't know anything about that."  To which I said "Really?"

As it turned the sale was legitimate, the credit card was good and he had been honest about his incarceration.  I didn't ask him why he had been behind bars for "a while" since it really wasn't any of my business.  I did think that under the circumstances his boss should have actually given him the card rather then writing the number down on a piece of paper.  It was an interesting end to my day, to say the least.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Going... going...gone girl

I went to see "Gone Girl" last evening.  It was very good, interesting.  And I didn't go just to see if I could get a of glimpse of Ben Affleck's penis (though I did look).  Now I know a lot of people fault him because his face is not that expressive, perhaps that is why he can play the part of every man very well - he does it in "Gone Girl."  In fact the entire cast does a fine job.  While the content is not the same, the movie did, in certain ways, remind me of "American Beauty."  Both films contain quite a bit of suspense towards the end, however it's not the scary movie kind of suspense.  No, this is more like the "squirm in your seat because it makes you feel creepily uncomfortable" kind of suspense.  Both films deal with marriage, though "Gone Girl" deals more with the entitlement some people feel when in a relationship.

Rosamond Pike stars as Amy Dunne, the girl who's gone missing, and she's getting a lot of well deserved praise for the part.  It was no more then 6 or 7 minutes into the film before I realized she suffered from 'spoiled brat syndrome,' a condition most often associated with single children.  I once worked with a man who had this condition who not only felt he was entitled, but could not, in even the most vaguest of ways, understand why you might disagree with him.  Needles to say, I didn't like him and I didn't like Amy.  

Hollywood likes tidy endings.  "Gone Girl" does not have a tidy ending.  This doesn't mean it's a messy ending, just that it's not tied up with a pretty, little bow.  In fact, as I was walking out of the movie theater I turned to my friend Patty and said "you know, I can see a sequel in the works, most likely titled 'Gone Guy.'"

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Directions to Ben's penis

Thought I'd post these directions for those of you terrified you might have paid your money and only got a movie.

Ben Affleck's penis

I'm going to see "Gone Girl" tomorrow evening.  It did well at the box office this past weekend, of course that is no indicator of whether the movie is good or not.  This is because, I suspect, many of the ticket buyers were going for the sole purpose of getting of glimpse of Ben Affleck's penis.  In case you hadn't heard, there's evidently a wee snippet of film where it winks at the camera.  I haven't searched, but I'm certain it also scored a big hit on the Internet.  What a learning experience this has been for Ben, that such a little thing can score big at the box office.  It wouldn't surprise me if he has them edit a little wiggle in to all of his past films which didn't break the box office bank.

Having said this, it's with heavy a heart I tell you that a very, very trustworthy source has informed me it's CGI.  That's right, it was shot in front of a green screen.  That isn't really Ben Affleck's penis you're seeing.  Nope, it's nothing more then code.  Amazing what they can do with a keyboard and mouse now-a-days, isn't it?  A dot here and a dot there and voila!  Giddy fans spending their giddy dollars.  And do you think my honesty is going to change anything?  Hell no.  They're already lining up at the box office to get a second glance of Ben Affleck's penis.  

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Dragon Age Inquisition, another major disappointment?

I sent an email to Bioware regarding my pre-order of Dragon Age Inquisition.  The original game in the series, Dragon Age Origins was very good.  Dragon Age 2 was abysmal, and that's putting it mildly.  So bad was the game, many thought the franchise was dead and buried.  Everybody was quite surprised when Bioware announced that there was going to be a third installment.  Ever since that announcement they have been on a really, really hard sell.  This is understandable for two reasons:  part two was little more then a hot mess from hell; and this is also the same corporation which foisted the disastrous Mass Effect 3 on the unknowing public.  Putting it in easy terms to understand, they have problems with story telling.  They don't understand their audience, at least they didn't until the ME3 fiasco, at which point they began learning fast.  To give you some perspective, 6 weeks after the game was released it had already sold 3.4 million units starting at $60 and going up to $125, depending upon whether you wanted the collectors edition or not.  At that point, because the ending was so hated, sales began to hemorrhage badly.  Bioware had wanted to create a legendary game and what they sold to the public was a legendary failure.  So bad were the fans bleeding away, a few months after the game's initial release, Bioware released an extended cut in the hope of putting a bandage on the wound.  It failed.  Paul Tassi, from Forbes, called it "too little, too late."

Originally, Dragon Age Inquisition was to be released in September, however, that date has been delayed until late in November.  Supposedly this was done so they could "fine tune" the game in order to give the fans the best gaming experience possible.  I read this as them saying "hey, the game looks great, the combat is damn good, it's just that we still don't know how to tell a story."  Now, I may be wrong, but I also remember those few months between the initial release of ME3 and the extended cut.  All they could come up with was a leaky bandage, when what they truly needed was a tourniquet.  This is why I sent the email and why I'm trying to decide if I really want to plunk down $70 for a game that's going to end up being another major disappointment.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Mass Effect failure of Bioware

I like playing video games, they are one of the ways I work off the stress of a hectic day at the store.  One of my all time favorite franchises is the Mass Effect group.  I liked the fact that I could customize Shepherd - I made mine real hunky.  Mass Effect 3 was the first game I played in which the main character could have a gay relationship, which was really neat.  I liked it so much I played through all 3 games a second time while waiting for Shadow of Mordor to arrive.   It's a shame Bioware chose to give the franchise such a rotten ending - Shepherd dies.  There are actually three endings and they are all terrible.  The main idea behind a franchise is to keep growing it, not kill it off.  One of the golden rules of any form of entertainment, be it games, literature, movies, what ever, is don't piss off your customer base.  Don't let them play for 30 hours and hand them a plate of shit, they need to be given some sort of reward.  About a week after Mass Effect 3's initial release, Bioware gave the world additional content - for free, to try and explain the ending.  No one was satisfied.

Where's the % of players they pissed off?
And now, because they killed off Shepherd instead of retiring him, Bioware has quite a task ahead of them.  You see they're working on Mass Effect 4, and have been some time.  I'm sure they remember, however, that they did piss off a lot of people with the ending of Mass Effect 3.  This means they will need to kiss a lot of ass to get back all of those unhappy customers.  What reason is there for me to buy it?  The character I invested so much time in ended up getting incinerated.  I can't even conceive of what exactly was going through their minds when they approved that type of ending.  Bioware, and Electronic Arts, the company which released the game, are not going to get my buckos when the new game comes out.  Don't expect me to eat a plate of shit just because you hand it to me.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Sweeten this

I used artificial sweeteners for years, mostly in my tea and my morning oatmeal.  Why?  Advertising of course.  Why should I use sugar with all of it's calories when I can sweeten things up with a zero calorie chemical?  You know what I'm talking about, we've all seen the commercials.  "Tastes as good as sugar without the calories."  And calories are bad, especially for people who like to sit on their asses all day.  Anyway, a couple of years ago I was sitting at my desk and I started pondering on sugar, just how bad was it for you.  Turns out there are only about 17 calories in a teaspoon.  And I thought, hell, riding my bicycle once around the block. is the equivalent of 2 maybe 3 teaspoons of sugar.  For about a minute and a half the debate raged through my head:  artificial sweetener or sugar?

Needless to say, sugar won out.  Sure, it's processed, but it is a natural substance not something concocted in a lab to cheat your taste-buds..  And, contrary to what a lot of imbeciles want to believe, it does not cause diabetes. Unbridled consumption of sugar may make you fat and, as a result, you may develop the disease, but don't blame sugar.

For those who are worried about those calories, I'd like to recommend a little exercise.  It works wonders. It lets you enjoy some of the sweeter things in life.