Friday, April 30, 2010

Van Morrison - And It Stoned Me

And It Stoned Me - My fave Van Morrison song. Reading his motivation for writing the song, his inspiration, I am so happy. The imagery in the lyrics is a timeless summer day for a kid. Morrison's singing voice is a wonderful instrument. It sounds so sad and earnest, like there is a weight and feel to the sound as it leaves the speaker. This song really showcases his pipes and there is that wistful longing and joy from the memory of the old day that the singer recalls. I also like how the little bridge is instrumental. I love horns in music. Horns are a welcome addition to any song. I think is why ska went huge in the late 90s only to be then destroyed by MTV as it wasn't dumb or misogynistic enough for their executives. Van Morrison is glad to deliver the horns.

While I could not find a video for it, I did find something for my 2nd favorite Van Morrison song.

Good Sports Idea: Squad 6

Buried in this story about Milwaukee's Squad 6 are the reasons for the NBA's collapse. Andrew Bogut has bought 100 tickets to give to crazy fans, who have to audition for the tix and keep up their craziness, in the lower section of the arena. The story says how no one has ever heard of anything like this. The 'this' would be the $10 million dollar player spending $100K this year on tix for fans. This Squad 6 gives their home games a distinct home court advantage, and the rest of the crowd gets energized by the 100 crazies of Squad 6.

Go figure, a player spends 1% of his annual income and it reaps the entire team (and him) a huge positive. No bad music, no jumbotron effects, no cheer and dance teams necessary. A player thinking beyond his own personal gain? What a shock in this day and age. Sad part is that the $100K will only cover 100 tix (when combined with discounts and comp tix). The tix he bought have a face value of $96 and are in the upper section of the lower bowl. That is why teams can't get 10,000 paying fans. That is why the NBA needs a lock out and restructuring. If entire nations need to revise how they spend cash, then luxury toy type entities (sports leagues) need to consider it as well.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Why World Finance is Messed up....

Greece and Portugal were downgraded today by rating agencies. Greece and Portugal have been staring at the same problems for a good long while now. The idea that they were cut 3 notches in ratings in one swoop (Greece) now and not say one notch a few months back is a joke. This is not as bad as the AAA rated (that is very good) subprime mortgage securities dropping to junk in one day, but it is bad. The rating agencies should be more proactive. Until the rating agencies improve, fixed income investing will be jittery. I bet Moody's would not downgrade the USA unless Armageddon started. Even then the US might just be put on 'negative watch'.

Some Music Thoughts

Kesha was the worst musical guest on SNL since the "Pass the Dutchie" kids group was on in the '80s.

Rihanna's dancing in the super-80s inspired 'rude boy' video is atrocious. Circling your hips while knocking your knees together is not a dance move.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Pan's Labyrinth

Pan's Labyrinth is a wonderful spectacle of a film. The film is creative, original, beautiful and engaging. The dual story arc is smart with the fantasy land intertwining with the true Spanish world. The fantasy land is not shown in much detail as the faun just chats with the heroine. There are fantastical rooms or one shot sets. It is a solid story of one girl's drop into a fantasy world because she has a shitty life.

It is creative in the monster design and set structure. The best scene to showcase this is the chalk drawn doorway scene. The odd colors and columns in the room are a distinct split from the drab, dark room the lead, Ofelia, sleeps in. She steps into this bright fantasy world, but it is far scarier after the first look than her dark room. The forbidden feast, like the forbidden fruit, is full of oversized foods. At the head of the table, an eyeless mummy looking freak is sitting with his hands on the table palms down. Ofelia even sees the eyes on a plate sitting there. You know what is coming. It is the calm, motionless posture of that spooky looking guy that gets me. You wait for that spring to action demon movement to match his creepy look. Quick shots with quick cuts portray Ofelia's view of the ceiling panels. These ceiling panels show the monster devouring children. Ofelia correctly guesses which hole the key fits in, and has collected the knife. This does not awaken the monster. She passes the feast, and of course eats two grapes.

This awakens the monster.

You knew it was coming. The monster collects the eyes from the plate, somehow while blind, and inserts them into his hands. WTF? He doesn't have eyes on his head. He puts his hands up to his head and his fingers, with the creepy nails, streak out from his head as if the hands are a bad mask. The scriptwriter and director really build up his deviousness. He grabs fairies out of the air and bites their heads off. What an evil psycho? Plus, he eats fairies, which should not be in anyone's diet. He has demonstrated his creep factor (95 out of 100), and only has Ofelia to eat next. This sets up a chase. The mummy looking guy is weirdly built. His skin hangs like an old man, he's pale as an albino, his legs are sticks, and he moves herky jerky. The movement makes him even more alien and therefore repulsive. Ofelia does not get back in time as the magic door closes and she tries to draw a new door. Her chalk breaks, he's getting closer, oh no, what will happen. I expected Ofelia to use the knife to kill the evil mummy guy. The director goes in a different direction, and I applaud it.

The movie does have some predictable moments. Some turns are telegraphed or at least are unsurprising as they happen. This does not take away from the beautiful outdoor scenes, the fantastic fantasy world sets, the solid dual story, and good acting from a child actor. The evil step-father is played well and a bit complicated. He's not just a jerk. He has an odd relationship hinted at with his dad, with history, with notions of honor, nobility and duty, and his desire for a son. He's not all evil, but he is pretty bad. You cheer for him to get his ass kicked and killed. The movie makes you want the heroine to succeed and the villain to fail. The movie takes you on a ride for 2 hours, and is rewatchable. Watch it, and you will be entertained.

Mtv's Fresh Meat 2

MTV has their new challenge series: Fresh Meat 2. This is the concept of MTV taking their RW/RR challenge competitors and adding newbies to form 2 person teams. This injects new blood, fresh meat, into the RW/RR world. It has challenges, drama, love, and drunken stupidity. Here's some love/hate...

I love that Kenny is on this show with NONE of his normal d-bag friends who monopolize the game and make it boring.

I hate that they set it in British Columbia Canada which will be colder than other places, therefore, limiting the bikini scenes.

I love that Wes and Ev are running this show. They have a great alliance. They are both good players, and they have IQs higher than 80.

I hate that the newbies are mostly pretty people. Few people look tough or crazy.

I love that Landon is competing and joined an alliance instead of trying to play 'honest'.

I hate that the Fresh Meat did not have more time together before the actual competition. This limits the soap opera drama between them.

I love Evelyn directing the guys in her alliance, sporting some fit arms, and playing the role of savvy veteran for the lesser experienced players. She is cute, smart and seems like a fun girl to party with. If I had to have a friendship or romantic relationship with a RW/RR competitor girl, I'm leaning now towards Evelyn over Kellyanne.

I hate the tranny competing vs. the girls. Yeah she is a 'girl', but come on, Look at her. She is also a karate master. This is absolutely not fair to any other girl, even the 6 footer.

I love that the little Asian girl said if she'd won she'd buy herself implants "i'm gonna put some Ds on this bitch". Classy.

I hate that Paula is already out after 3 episodes. I need more crazy, low self esteem, fake boobed rambling women in my life. I don't know anyone that crazy or with that low self esteem. She has a great sense of humor, oftentimes making fun of herself and the RW/RR world.

I love that Sarah and Jenn cleaned up. They both got new haircuts, better make up, and got in slightly better shape. Jenn also said she was done with girls. They must realize that the hotter you look on the RW/RR challenges the more likely you are to be asked back next season.

This is mindless fun. RW/RR delivers the goods with a soap opera for idiots mixed with athletic competitions. MTV is a bad TV channel, with limited programming appeal to me. Part of this is me aging and moving out of the target demographic. With LOST ending soon and no Mad Men until late summer, I will need one TV show to justify the cable bill.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Europe Will Go Broke

Europe is going broke from all the pension and health care promises they made. They have not learned and will never learn. If they were learning, they wouldn't be moving to subsidize vacations as they deem vacationing a human right.

Someone Stands Up For South Park's Free Speech

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
South Park Death Threats
Daily Show Full EpisodesPolitical HumorTea Party

I love how Stewart, just like South Park has done in both Mohammed episodes, mentions the total mockery of all other religions on his show, and their polite reactions to the jokes compared to the hypersensitive Islamofascists.

Friday, April 23, 2010

3D HD TVs are Coming

3D HD TVs are coming. I test viewed one at the Final 4 weekend from LG. It was a basketball game they were showing and it looked cool, but not mind blowing cool. I see the market for this, which will grow as cable systems move to 3d content, but I doubt people will happily fork over $2500-2700 for a 45 inch tv. You can get 45 inch HD TVs for under $750 now (I've seen even lower).

It's a horrible recession. Unemployment (U3, easiest measure) could stay above 8% for the next 4 years. There is not a lot of 3D content out there. Why is any company rolling out with a 3D HD TV which is 3x the cost of similar sized HD TVs currently on the market? Who is going to buy this? I see this falling flat on its face for a few years, and being adopted slowly, very slowly. Only way this has a quick spread is if they can cut the cost quickly, and the networks + Comcast/Time Warner offer every channel in 3D.

Financial Reform Fallacy

Obama said in his 'pretty speech' (pretty bland) that there must be an end to taxpayer bailouts of big banks, so let's vote for Sen. Dodd's financial reform bill. NPR says they can't find any economist that finds this in the bill. In fact there is a mechanism in the bill that creates automatic bailouts.

Sen. Bernie Sanders, Sen. Kaufman and Sen. Brown all want the big banks broken up. This is the best way to prevent more bank bailouts. With smaller banks and less leverage (big key), there will be fewer ripple effects of any failure which means they will be allowed to fail like they should always be.

I'm already tired of the POTUS saying one thing that sounds great but doing the exact opposite. It's like repealing DADT. Sounds nice read on the teleprompter, but no follow through.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

John Green Book Signing April 22nd Borders in Indianapolis, IN

"15 minutes worth of people"

That is the phrase that ran through my head as I drove back on Allisonville, smelling bacon at 8:30pm, from the book reading/signing that John Green and David Levithan had for their book, Will Grayson/Will Grayson. This is not a dis, this is a compliment. Andy Warhol once said in the future everybody would be famous for 15 minutes. Because of the internet and the amazing depth of fandom combined with little breadth, people can be famous to 15 minutes worth of people. Not that only 15 mins worth of people showed up, but that the pscyhotic level of fandom that Warhol associated with being famous back in his day (true adoration) in a smaller dose. The level of devotion from the fans present was something I would expect from a boy band crowd. Teenage girls that knew details of the author's life, knew everything about the books and the internet stuff, had homemade t-shirts, had 5 books for the author to sign, squealed with delight as if 1999 NSync was performing. This is an author of young adult books. Good from what I hear, but still, this is not Tolstoy coming to Indianapolis.

Yes, I have never read his work. I have watched some Youtube clips of his, and been impressed by his insight and entertained by his humor. I will probably breakdown and read whatever book of his that my cousin recommends. I got a book signed for my cousin, which was why I suffered through the teen girl nerd fest. Hipsters in the making. Some fatties too who had to text at every chance. God forbid they just enjoy the event. He has great patience to put up with a fanbase that matches up with Twilight. I tip my cap to him.

This was the 2nd reading I have been to, with Toni Morrison being the first. Much more enjoyable this time. Toni Morrison reading poems about womanhood, slavery, racism, being ugly etc. is quite powerful but quite depressing. John Green and David Levithan, who wrote Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist, did readings in a mock play form. Entertaining, and especially nice with a real gay guy reading the gay part. The author's references to Joyce's Ulysses or David Foster Wallace and Infinite Jest made me laugh inside as those notes had to have flown over the heads of most of the crowd. They then took questions, training these young women for future Q&As with female angst author's in several years. Side note: David Levithan looks like Fred Armisen with longer hair. He has to know this. It is an amazing doppelganger duo. Because I got there so early, I got to be 15th in line or so. I managed to get a laugh as I said "I feel like I'm on a Chris Hanson To Catch a Predator episode". I also joked with Levithan to give him some love as it was obvious he was the sidekick tonight from the psychotic show of fandom for Mr. Green present.

I tip my cap to Mr. Green as he has carved out his niche through his books and incredibly hard efforts online. The man has built his fervent fanbase from his antics, rants and online discussions. He has created a community online, which is fantastic for a built in audience of readers. Smart marketing to keep fans involved and aware of your nuggets of thought in between the 2-5 years it takes to create, research and finish a book. It reminds me of the vlogging Imogen Heap did for her new album that kept my wife entertained each week. it it wonderful to see someone who gains a following from good work, hard work, and word of mouth. It feels organic and true. Being surrounded by his creepy, devoted fans actually made the experience more enoyable because he was in his element with a home crowd. i wish him the best of luck with the new book and hopefully creating enough of a following to not have to work a day job.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Gays and The Liberal President

It's got to suck being a gay Obama voter. You supported him from day 1 or at least when he overtook Hill-dawg as the new thing for the Democrats. You supported the stimulus until unemployment went even higher than Obama said it would if the stimulus didn't pass. You supported him through the bowing, the bank deal making, the crap, and felt joy when you heard him mention DADT at the state of the union. You felt joy when he said gay partners could visit family in the hospital... until you read the fine details and found out it was just a presidential memo not an executive order and did not apply to hopsitals that did not accept Medicaid or Medicare funds. You now much feel pretty stupid when he now is pushing DADT repeal into the "future". I'll give gay people credit, they are not going down quietly. (I haven't decided if the "yes we can" chant is the other Obamabots drowning out the gays or mocking his previous stock phrase) Kudos to the gays who protested chained to the fence at the White House. Of course the cops forcibly removed them, but they did a peaceful demonstration.

This is why voting blocs based on victim status and grievances are tough to manage.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

More Fantastic Mr. Fox Thoughts

I really enjoyed that movie. It was pretty sharp. I think I have typed this before but what happens to all the Snowflake generation children when they grow up and find out they are not special, not an all star just for showing up, and definitely not gifted or talented? Will they do outrageous things to gain attention? Will they continue to do stunts to try to live up to their 'special' status? I can see millions of Mr. Fox characters out there doing stupid stuff for the thrill of attention.

This has to account for the rise of the web 2.0 with Facebook, Youtube, me me me stuff. It funnels attention to these 12-22 year olds for doing nothing more than naming their 5 favorite bands. Yah, look at me... please, please look at me and 'like' what I post. A wonderful South Park episode touches on an idea similar to this, The List. The ghost of Abraham Lincoln tells Kyle that beign pretty is a curse as beautiful people constantly get compliments for no reason only because people can't just say to them 'you're pretty' all of the time. They get an inflated sense of self, don't develop character, and when the looks fade, are empty shells. This might be the same course of action with the Snowflake generation, as they realize all of those awesome supercool things they did like 'show up' or 'participate' will mean jack squat in the real world and no one will care.

The Fantastic Mr. Fox also discusses the idea that we can change but it is hard to deny what we truly are. Mr. Fox talks about being a wild animal. He has a nice sequence where he discusses the positives of the wild animals around him. Do we humans hide our inner desires and primal behavior with the fantastic costumes, physical and mental, of the civilized world? Most likely. Considering the millions of years of humankind and the short span of civilization with customs, mores and norms, it is easy to see how our brain chemistry, body biology, and inner smart animal can override the structure of the modern world. Mr. Fox's problem is not just a mid-life crisis, but is a true debate about what he is. Who is Mr. Fox?

This is ultimately one of the greatest questions that we as thinking animals face: who/what are we? It's an issue that some never resolve and others resolve quickly. I am in the camp that there is a core of who you are, but the human soul is a dynamic and changing entity that we as individuals have control over. People can change, but there is a core set of values or beliefs that you will hold and will guide decision making and responses to choices laid before you. We can change if we are open minded about the world, or if something incredibly influential enters our life. In the nature vs. nurture debate, I am a big believer in nature being the driver but nurture being a backseat passenger that can sometimes change the trip. Maybe it's being an optimistic realist where I hope for the best but expect the worst.

Monday, April 19, 2010

It's Obvious to Me...

that Zoe Saldana has passed Kerry Washington as the heir to the title Halle Berry held for years "sexy, young black actress that all races like". Halle had a great run, as Halle took over from Rae Dawn Chong in the early '90s and held it for 2 decades.

More Ny Times Rich People Lameness

This is another article that is a slap in the face to the people in the NY region affected by the horrible unemployment affecting Americ currently.

The 2nd paragraph is worth repeating:

"Who will safeguard my apartment as I sleep? Greet my children when they come home from school? Accept deliveries? Clean the hallways? Sort the mail? Operate the elevator? And, for goodness sake, will let the cleaning lady in?"

Here's some answers: You'll have to trust the locks. No one. Join the club. Contract that cleaning out. Sort your own mail. Push the fucking elevator buttons yourself! Maybe you'll have to clean your apartment yourself.

The broader unemployment definition is at 17% and has been for almost a year now. This article is not a funny way to look at the doorman strike. The strike is also a slap in the face to the unemployed.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

What makes a great Hollywood career?

Fame, praise, money. Do leading roles, Academy Awards and box office billions make a great career? I'd rather have a career like Harry Dean Stanton's than a leading man with a 5 films shelf life.

Harry Dean Stanton has played small roles in many classics (cult as well):

Godfather 2 - FBI bodyguard
Cool Hand Luke - Prison Inmate
Escape From New York - Genius with Adrienne Barbeau on his arm
Alien - grizzly mechanic
Red Dawn - "Avenge me! Avenge me!"
Repo Man - the older repo man who teaches the ropes to nube Emilio Estevez

The Goldman SEC Charges

Goldman Sachs was served up by the SEC. Please go to for commentary. My take is that we should break up Goldman and all of the big Wall St. Banks. If these charges only result in some mid-level ees going to jail and fines paid without a break up, nothing will have changed.

SNL + Tea Party Protests

Tea Partiers in survey after survey fare well when people learn what their views are. The mainstream media first mocked them, and now are trying to smear them as much as possible (first they were racist hicks, now wealthy racists). Some media members are warming up to them or giving them good press. There is the fringe of their party like any group that is a bit wacky. That didn't stop SNL from taking two potshots at them. Shame on you SNL for the millionth time in recent memory of just spouting the DNC talking points.

I shouldn't be upset with a show that is funny for 1 out of every 6 skits. The Ultimate Tivo Show.

Taco Bell Naming Conventions

Something Spanish sounding + ada or lupa = new menu item


Saturday, April 17, 2010

Esquire Article on Joe DiMaggio

Wonderful little essay on the Yankee Clipper. It was written in 1966. It is mentioned lightly here, but DiMaggio hated the Kennedys for their connection to Marilyn Monroe. A super hare brained theory on the Kennedy assassinations is that when the mob did it, DiMaggio was pushing them to do it for revenge. DiMaggio had so much class that Mickey Mantle could act classless for 25+ years and no one cared because Joltin' Joe was still such a classy NY icon.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Fantastic Mr. Fox

The Fantastic Mr. Fox is a stop motion animated film for the entire family. There are enough good laughs for children, and the anthropromorphic animals have enough modern day quirks to make adults laugh. A real key is the Ash character. There is the unsure child story arc for kids with the Ash character that kids will latch onto. It is not as simple as 'why won't my parent(s) approve', but the character has to see their own faults, grow and change, use its skills, and perform adult acts as they prove their worth. Ash does not just ask to be treated as trustworthy or good, but he does grasp the moment, proving his value. You can't just ask for something, you must earn it.

The stop motion dollmation was refreshing to watch. Pixar movies are wonderful to watch, but I miss the old cartoon style of Rudolph style animated flicks. Fantastic Mr. Fox has nice scenes that the real dolls allow for like the sewer scene of Mr. Fox shadowed with the waterwall behind him. The scene in the cider cellar looked real with the amber glow of the cider reflected off of the figures. Anytime any animal eats, it is a wonder of having the 'food' be 3D and real as animals are messy. Pixar can't do that with the wonderful CGI they have. Wes Anderson directed, and I tip my hat to his choice to make and run with this flick. Yes, he brings in his usual suspects like Jason Schwartzman, Bill Murray and Owen Wilson, but I enjoy their work, so it's a win for me.

There is a great message for adults as well. Mr. Fox talks of what does a being do when they have always been considered fantastic and now live a normal life? That is part of his desire for going on his heist spree, as well as it being in his nature. Many people struggle with this all their life. Some struggle with finding meaning in anything, but for others... when you have been amazing all your life, achieving more and more, what happens when you settle into a nice groove of steady, normal life? This might be a growing problem as more and more children are brought up to believe they are unique, beautiful snowflakes and everyone is an all star when they are obviously not. For people who truly are exceptional, what happens when their are no trophies to win, no elite groups or classes to enter or praise to earn? This film touches on this subject, and it is great that they do, but sad that an animatef film tackles this subject, when so many adult dramas have a simple mid-life, melodrama crisis. The Fantastic Mr. Fox is an enjoyable film that I highly suggest for a night in. It might not touch you as it did me, but it is well worth 90 mins of your life.

***Roald Dahl was the writer of this story. Mr. Dahl was not only a creative, prolific writer, but also a flying ace in WW2. The man shot Nazis out of the sky as one of 'the few', and then turned into a great writer who created multiple classics in children's literature. Quite the life.***

Wednesday, April 14, 2010


Desmond is so smooth, brutha, that he can just watch a couple make out, push his shades up, drive off and still be the coolest guy all episode, brutha.

LOST is getting exciting again. I really disliked the tease of Richard saying he knew what the island was, yet we still don't know.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Cruel Intentions - SMG at her Best

In 1999, Columbia Pictures released a small budget, indie film called Cruel Intentions. Cruel Intentions (CI) had rich kids doing adult things in a Manhattan setting. Yes, this movie set off the entire Gossip Girl rich kids in expensive settings soap opera trend. CI was a reworking of Dangerous Liasons with enough pretty teens to get the fannies in seats. The story is a classic conquest-seduction story with double crosses, which is good and is the reason why it has been redone multiple times. It's incredibly rewatchable, and when it shows up on cable I will keep it on. The dialogue is cheeky, the small touches are fantastic, and Sarah Michelle Gellar gives her best as the devious and manipulative Kathryn.

Looking at the Wikipedia entry, it shows a budget of $11 mil. They got all the teen actors in the early stages of their careers and made good choices. They got Reese Witherspoon when she had some extra jit on her (a good thing), Ryan Phillippe when he was at his poutiest, and SMG at her peak. I saw this in the theaters and downloaded it when I got back to my dorm and rewatched it over and over. With a limited budget, they had to nail the dialogue, keep the sets limited, and not rely on gimmicky shots or scene settings (the typical walk through NYC shot you see so often). There is an exchange between Christine Baranski and the midget actor Sean Patrick Thomas where she talks of bringing him to the right side of the tracks but he reminds her he's wealthy as well, which just mocks her 2nd degree racism. Small touches like Sebastian's Jaguar and the indie rock soundtrack were awesome. I had most of the soundtrack downloaded with the lesser known gem "Every me, every you" as my favorite. The Slow mo ending with "Bittersweet Symphony" blaring was a great ending in the MTV inspired montage. The gay twist with Joshua Jackson having the connection to the jock was great for the phone call Joshua Jackson makes to get the jock to show up (super gay voice). It also allowed for the jock to have a scene where he goes through magazines and Liza music. At the final reveal of Kathryn's coke vial, the guy shakes his head "unh uh" when he pours the coke out; that always kills me. Small touches. This is just a well done fluff film for a cheap budget. Hollywood should take note.

The real star of this film, and the absolute demon in a 5 foot 2 90 lb frame, was Sarah Michelle Gellar. She really sunk her teeth into the deliciously evil Kathryn. She manipulates everyone in the movie, and in the end she suffers the blow to her reputation. She really doesn't have much to work with physically, but she really teases Sebastian and obviously the audience. We know she puts out, and would even be down with Greek style sex, but we never see her naked. It is a great tease. It is a bit creepy since we are suppose to believe the characters are 14-17 years old. SMG could never recapture the spirit of this role, and she could never quite get over the cute look. She will always look cute, never adult woman pretty. It worked for her in Hollywood for a while, but she never made the leap. We will always have CI.

Cruel Intentions could not be made today as what senior in high school is a virgin? I joke, but they would have to make it flashier, simpler and with even more sex. Plus, the rich kid thing has been played out with the last decade of terrible MTV and cable shows. It would be hard to differentiate and capture an audience. I also doubt that a producer would be lucky enough to cast a future Academy Award winner as the 2nd leading lady. I will have to purchase this movie either on DVD or on download when they start to hit us up for downloaded movies. In the meantime I can only say "Oh Come On!"

Man's Best Tail Gunner

How'd he get the cigar lit is my question.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Favorite Bad Real Estate Idea: The Natick Collection

Of all the bad ideas I have read about or witnessed concerning the housing bubble of the '00s, the Natick Collection: Nouvelle is my favorite.

Here's the idea:
1. Residential real estate is bringing in big bucks, let's build!
2. There's nowhere to build in Mass with zoning laws, and the population is declining. Maybe we shouldn't do this.
3. Awww screw it, let's slap some 'luxury' condos onto our existing shopping mall.

Seriously, is there such a thing as non-luxury condos or apartmnets? Ever condo or apartment building markets itself as luxury. When all are luxurious, none are luxurious. These were originally priced in the 500s and all the way to 1.75 mil for a penthouse. Now the official website says $229K to sold out. I feel bad for the suckers who bought penthouses earlier. Scary thing is that just a little over a year ago, these condos were going from $379K to a little over $1 mil. The bubble peak is shown through initial hopes, and the slow deflation shows there. The moment when it all might have hit rock bottom was the auction in October of 2009. Some went in the mid $200s. That is how GGP went under, debt and stupid ideas like the Collection.

Buried in the auction article is the details of condo fees and taxes. Condo fees for 900 sq ft condo will be over $500 a month. With a 30 year mortgage and 20% down on a 250K condo, you'd pay $1098 a month on principal and interest, and then 50% on top of it for condo fees!!! At least the condo fees take care of plenty of maintenance or whatever, sorry but condos are not a good deal when you're paying through the nose for condo fees. Taxes are a total screw job, and here's where the municipalities get thier grubby paws on money and screw over citizens. Taxes are assessed on full value, not the auction price. Consider this: if the auction price went above full value, do you think the city would wait a second before using the higher price for the assessment? No way. This is not as bad as Florida munis throwing out home sales of distressed properties because they were not normal, keeping property taxes higher than they should be to reflect the market. Everyone's got to get paid, especially the cities that screw over the elderly with skyrocketing property taxes.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

NY Times Rich People Stupidity

Whenever poor people or hicks are exposed to sophisticated or normal things for the elite, they are called dumb for not understanding it. Watch these two NY Times dorks discuss the secret burger this woman makes that she names "Logan County Burgers" after where her Gramma came from in West Virginia. Yes, that is banjo in the background. It's called a PATTY MELT and everyone else in America knows about it. "Hicks" from the sticks would treat these sophisticated elites as tards for not knowing what a Patty Melt is. She even says it is a Patty Melt. The guy annoys me. Has he never heard of a Patty Melt? He wants to pair the PM with a wine.

Note: The health section in the NY Times has two articles on how Health Care Reform MAY help some things. Hmmm, the propaganda wing of the party is in high gear.

Poland's Tragic Plane Crash

Let's all hope that Poland can bounce back from the loss of so many of their government and military heavy hitters. Odd coincidence is that they were flying to commemorate a brutal execution of thousands of Polish officers in Russia during WW2.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Crankin' Asses

I am not the mysterious ass slapper on Ball State's campus. The rap song that was put together about this is actually not bad. The chorus is kind of catchy. I do wonder in our hyper-PC world where is the border for prank or assault.

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

LOST - Brutha

The return of Desmond. Even as a well paid made man, Desmond drops bruthas every 5th word. Let's roll LOST.

When Social Security Vanishes...

Remember if Social Security goes away, you will lose your benefit, but you can keep that money they formerly took from you each check. If you're like my wife and as a 1099 ee have to pay it all yourself, it's nearly 1/6th of your check. Great and quick write up of SS here.

Final 4

My family and I attended this year's NCAA Final Four weekend. My house was the hotel and food center, and my company's gated parking lot downtown was the security. There were 2 great games that had suspense and drama, and one dud. Both came down to the final shot. The games left knots in your stomach. With Butler's campus being in the city of Indianapolis, just north 40 blocks from the stadium, it was like watching a Butler home game, but with a supersized crowd. I loved the experience. It was great to see my dad and uncle enjoy the game ("It's off the bucket list!"), and to see my cousin get out of his house for a weekend. My wife and mom spent the weekend shopping, picking out furniture and paint, and cooking a great Easter dinner.

Sports are a good waste of time and energy for adults to watch, but seeing them live is to be part of a group experience. The 'single serving' friends you can make at games are great. Hugging random strangers and shouting in joy or pain can be memorable experiences. I will never forget the exclamation when the final halfcourt shot just missed. 50K Butler supporters sulked with a robbed look on their face as the Duke players and their few fans cheered was so depressing. Shuffling out from the stadium, 50K people couldn't look more gloomy. It's a great and memorable loss. For a fan, I will proudly say I was there and remember the hope and despair that hit bang bang in under a second.

Saturday, April 03, 2010

Green Jobs

This is sad but BP Solar closed their Maryland manufacturing plant for solar cells and other solar power equipment. This means 350 employees in a hi-tech, manufacturing industry will be out of work. At work, it's the first major closing I've dealt with for a customer. We've lost some small customers entirely (40 or 50 ees) and had groups lay off handfuls of employees, but no one has closed an entire plant, cutting their work staff in half. Sad.

Friday, April 02, 2010

Good Friday

A beautiful small article on NPR's website by the blogger known as the Anchoress. Perfect read for Good Friday.

Secret to Economic Water Treading

2.5 million households are not paying their mortgages. Banks won't kick them out because they'd have to foreclose and realize the loss on the loan, which would kill them. It is the squatter stimulus program.

Thursday, April 01, 2010

Pop Singers

I once asked who the last unattractive female pop singer was and thought that might be over in today's pop culture landscape. One Kesha and one Gaga later and I was proven wrong.

The Birds and Tippi Hedren

The Birds is a remarkable movie. No score. They consulted the long time Hitchcock score master for advice of how to use bird noises to help with scenes, but no score. Classic Hitchcock use of a female protagonist, and you can read into this so many ways.

1. Tippi has a weird effect on birds wherever she goes, and the power is magnified when strong emotional feelings are involved.
2. The birds have become 'aware' and are nuts.
3. Jessica Tandy's character was uses telepathic powers to control the birds and keep Tippi from interfering with her happy home life.
4. Hitchcock wanted to use the birds as a substitute for Communist expansion and contrast the different attitudes people had towards it.
The Birds has a progression and flow to it. Things start small and slowly build with every scene. Hitchcock was great at building suspense and making the normally innocent menacing. Shower muder scenes, attempted murder in a cornfield, little birds pecking at your face... these are all everyday things that Hitchcock used to make people scared. This is a super gynocentric film. There is a battle over Mitch, who is still unmarried for some reason, between Tippi, Anne and his mom. It is a bit weird that the birds seriously attack both Anne and Tippi, but Jessica Tandy stays unmarked. The Birds is freaky. I love its mood, and think it is the type of movie modern film directors wish they could make.
Why? Look at every M. Night Shyamalan movie. It's some huge event that is happening that never gets answered or resolved and the main characters are not the cause of action. They just exist in the situation. That is the Birds in a nutshell. It's like M. Night saw the Birds and wanted to make his films all similar to it because it rocked. M. Night fails for many reasons but one big one is: no one cares about his core characters. No one liked Bruce Willis' family in Unbreakable, the only likeable character in Signs was the cute little girl, and The Village was devoid of charisma or even a good villain. The r-tards in Hollywood are going to remake the Birds and Tippi isn't happy.
Does Tippi Hedren make the film? No, but she is enjoyable. She stalks a man, and it does not affect how viewers feel about her. She tracks some guy she meets quickly, and people swallow it whole. Her antics are strange, she takes risks and really shoves herself into this man's life with no reason besides being a rich girl interested in a single guy. She plays the assertive woman, playful charmer, and aggressive flirt well. There is plenty of mischeif in her smile and sly glances. Later she would star in Marnie for Hitchcock, and be better than she was in the Birds. Tippi was one of Hitchcock's many blonde leading ladies, and and stand out amongst the many.
The Birds has a dark tone to it. The attack scenes and aftermath shots are pretty graphic for the 1960s. The bird attack on Tippi in the house is just as bad as the shower scene with Janet Leigh in Psycho. I would argue it is worse as the birds are living, breathing animals. The question 'why are the birds doing this?' is never answered, and that mystery is far better left unsolved for viewers to dicuss for years than for a director's commentary to answer on a dvd. Sometimes the advance of technology can be a bad thing, and I am thankful that Mr. Hitchcock never lived long enough to record commentaries for his movies.