Sunday, September 25, 2016

A View From Above

Where do you think this is? I took it from the plane yesterday. A major American city....

Saturday, September 24, 2016

FILM REVIEW: Sully


Last weekend I was in Los Angeles and I was able to get together with a group of friends and we went and saw Sully the latest movie from Oscar-winning director Clint Eastwood (Unforgiven, Million Dollar Baby, American Sniper) and starring 2-time Oscar-winner Tom Hanks (Philadephia, Forrest Gump, Bridge of Spies). The movie is, of course, a cinematic adaptation of the incredible story of the "miracle on the Hudson" that occurred when a U.S. Airways jet with 155 people on board (passengers and crew) experienced a freak collision with a flock of birds that destroyed both engines a few minutes after takeoff from Laguardia and forced Captain Chesley "Sully" Sullenberg to make a controlled emergency landing on the near-freezing water of the Hudson River in January 2009.

The makers of  Sully has a difficult dramaturgical problem to address: the events of the Miracle on the Hudson are so well-known that making a movie about it means that one has to find a new source of tension separate from wondering what will happen. To their credit, they do come up with some dramatic tension that does pique one's interest in the film.

Additionally, Tom Hanks gives yet another excellent performance, and he has amazing chemistry with Aaron Eckhart (The Dark Knight) who plays the co-pilot on the famous flight. The acting is just one highlight of this surprisingly short film. In fact, this film almost seems like a play because the story is so slight and the action is so limited. It's pretty amazing that the film was even made, but it does serve as a pretty effective vehicle for Hanks.

Overall, it's probably not necessary to rush out and watch Sully in the movie theaters. It's a good movie, but one that you can enjoy most of its virtues in the comfort of your own home, unless you are a fan who is also a Tom Hanks completist.

TitleSully.
Director: Clint Eastwood.
Running Time: 1 hour, 36 minutes.
MPAA Rating: Rated PG-13 for some peril and brief strong language.
Release Date: September 9, 2016.
Viewing Date: September 16, 2016.

Writing: B+.
Acting: A-.
Visuals: B+.
Impact: B.

Overall Grade: B+ (3.3/4.0).

Thursday, September 22, 2016

BOOK REVIEW: The Bone Clocks by David Mitchell




British author David Mitchell is most well-known for his seminal work 
Cloud Atlas (which is one of my favorite books of the 2000-2009 decade and was made into a fascinating, underrated 2012 movie by the Wachowski siblings starring Oscar winners Tom Hanks and Halle Berry).  His latest book is The Bone Clocks which I received as a present for Christmas in 2014 and I am ashamed it took me so long to pick it up and finally read  because in my opinion it's even more compelling than Cloud Atlas. The two books have a lot in common in that they are both written using the same structure, Mitchell's signature writing device (interlocking chapters or novellas set in various settings or styles featuring characters who are loosely related to others that appear in earlier chapters). Mitchell's books are often quite acclaimed by critics and are also recognized by fans and award nominating committees as belonging to the speculative fiction genre that encompasses science fiction and fantasy. For example, The Bone Clocks was the winner of the 2015 World Fantasy Award while Cloud Atlas  was nominated for the Man Booker, Nebula and Arthur C. Clarke awards. In Cloud Atlas, the interlocking chapters/novellas are written in various genres (a series of letters, historical love story, hardboiled detective mystery, far-future science fiction, etc) with very different characters in different times and places. However in The Bone Clocks, while several characters weave in and out of first-person perspective chapters, the setting moves from 1980s Thatcher's England to a near-apocalyptic 2034 United Kingdom and constantly revolves arounds a central science fiction-y mystery (involving the existence of creatures who can transfer their consciousness to achieve immortality). As with most of Mitchell's work, the writing is flashy but beautiful also.

If you liked Cloud Atlas  (and after 150,000 ratings on Goodreads it is above 4.0 on a 5-point scale) I am confident you will also love The Bone Clocks.

The central character in The Bone Clocks is Holly Sykes. In the beginning of the book she is a mindless teenage git but somehow she grows on you, even if she is not always front and center in the story.  (She's one of the characters that persist through the multiple novellas that make up the book). By the end of the tale she is a resourceful grandmother trying to insure a hopeful future for her extended family in a future dystopia. 

The book grabbed me on page 5 and never let me go for 600 pages and 48 hours later. It is divided into six sections set in six different years  over a half-century (A Hot Spell, 1984; Myrrh Is Mine, Its Bitter Perfume, 1991; The Wedding Bash, 2004; Crispin Hershey’s Lonely Planet, 2015; An Horologist’s Labyrinth, 2025; Sheep's Head, 2034). Some of these are not as successful as others but the last three (in particular) are absolutely sublime and the effect of reading them is entirely engrossing.

Overall, The Bone Clocks was one of my most enjoyable reads of 2015; a compelling, thought-provoking book whose characters and scenes resonate in the mind long after you turn the last page.

Title: The Bone Clocks.
Author: 
David Mitchell.
Paperback: 640 pages.
Publisher:
 Random House.
Date Published: September 2, 2014.
Date Read: June 25, 2015.

OVERALL GRADE: A+ (4.25/4.0).

PLOT: A+.
IMAGERY: A.
IMPACT: A+.
WRITING: A+.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

7 Weeks Until #ElectionDay: Clinton 0.589, Trump 0.411


There are 7 weeks (49 days) until election day, November 8 2016. FiveThirtyEight.com's forecasting model of the 2016 presidential election gives Hillary Clinton approximately a 59% chance of winning, compared to Donald Trump's 41%. Last week, these numbers were 0.682 (Clinton) and 0.318 (Trump).

2016 EMMYS: Comparing The Winners To My Predictions


I predicted the winners of the top categories at this past weekend's Emmy awards. I was correct in four of the six categories. However, in the two categories I missed, the actors I wanted to win Rami Malek of Mr. Robot and Tatiana Maslany of Orphan Black won, which was awesome!

SHOULD WIN: Modern Family
WILL WIN: Veep.
DID WIN: Veep.

Outstanding Drama Series
SHOULD WIN: : Game of Thrones.
WILL WIN: Game of Thrones.
DID WIN: Game of Thrones.

Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series
SHOULD WIN: Rami Malek. 
WILL WIN: Kevin Spacey.
DID WIN: Rami Malek. 

Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series
SHOULD WIN: Tatiana Maslany or Viola Davis. 
WILL WIN: Keri Russell.
DID WIN: Tatiana Maslany.

Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series
SHOULD WIN: Thomas Middleditch.
WILL WIN: Jeffrey Tambor
.
DID WIN: Jeffrey Tambor.

Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series
SHOULD WIN: Tracee Ellis Ross.
WILL WIN: Julia Louis-Dreyfus
.
DID WIN: Julia Louis-Dreyfus.

Monday, September 19, 2016

EYE CANDY: Steven Johnson





Steven Johnson is a male model from Alexandria, Virginia. He is on Instagram (@steveoback) and Facebook. I have no other information about him but I think you can see why he is Eye Candy!

Hat/tip to PopGlitz

Sunday, September 18, 2016

QUEER QUOTE: Executive Director Rachel Tiven Discusses Lambda Legal


Wow! I don't know how I missed this news when it came out in early May (must have been distracted by the end of the 2015-16 academic year, moving across the country and starting a new job with the federal government) but Lambda Legal has named a new executive director, and it is someone I know quite well, Rachel Tiven, the former executive director of Immigration Equality.

I found out about the change from this article by Kerry Eleveld at Daily Kos where she interviews Rachel.
Kerry EleveldWhat do you see as Lambda Legal's biggest growth opportunity over the next five years?Rachel Tiven: Visibility! We are the oldest and largest LGBT civil rights organization, but for too long we have been the movement’s quiet authority.  Our obligation is to become better known, and assert more influence on the public conversation.  Post marriage equality, the country is increasingly discussing what it means for LGBT people to be part of public life, to go to work, to get health care, to be safe in our homes. Lambda Legal’s perspective is critical to those conversations.
We need every LGBT and HIV-positive person in America to know that they can call Lambda when they have a legal problem.  Everyone who contacts us gets an accurate, respectful, free-of-charge answer from our amazing Help Desk—and those inquiries are how we stay two steps ahead of what our community needs.  The best advocacy is directly tied to service, which is why we are committed to expanding our Help Desk in the years ahead.
Definitely feel more confident about the future of the LGBTQ movement with people like Rachel Tiven at the helm of one of its key resources, Lambda Legal.

Friday, September 16, 2016

2016 EMMYS: MadProfessah's Predictions


The 68th Annual Primetime Emmy awards are being held this weekend. Here are the most prominent nominations and my predictions for who will win. Last year, Veep won Best Comedy Series and Game of Thrones won Best Drama Series. The HBO series leads this year's Emmy nominations with 23.

SHOULD WIN: Modern Family
WILL WIN: Veep.

Outstanding Drama Series
SHOULD WIN: : Game of Thrones.
WILL WIN: Game of Thrones.

Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series
SHOULD WIN: Rami Malek. 
WILL WIN: Kevin Spacey.

Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series
SHOULD WIN: Tatiana Maslany or Viola Davis. 
WILL WIN: Keri Russell.

Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series
SHOULD WIN: Thomas Middleditch.
WILL WIN: Jeffrey Tambor
.

Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series

SHOULD WIN: Tracee Ellis Ross.
WILL WIN: Julia Louis-Dreyfus
.

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