Thursday, November 28, 2013

A point of personal privilege on this Thanksgiving Day

As the day comes to a close I am thinking of just how much I have to be thankful for: Getting to enjoy not one, but two Thanksgiving dinners (on two separate days) with the single great love of my life and her family; spending more time with my pal James (who prepared an excellent Italian sausage stuffing a mocha pecan pie -- yumm); conversing an hour on the phone with my son of whom I am so proud, the great Dr. Chance, who recently performed another admirable public service by linking an article listing all the reasons to date a chiropractor; and, of course, there's my constant companion, my loyal pal, the No. 1 Golden Retriever the world has ever known, the magnificent Ginger. I did miss the fact that I had no time to spend with my granddaughter, but just having her in my life makes that life so much more special and for that I am also thankful. Here's to everyone out there who counted and gave thanks for their blessings on this day.

Monday, November 25, 2013

This week’s DVD releases

The Canyons **½ Lindsay Lohan, James Deen. Directed by Paul Schrader. While a calculating young movie producer makes films to keep his trust fund intact, his actress girlfriend hides an affair. But following a chance meeting, he spirals out of control, and his cruel mind games escalate into an act of bloody violence. This is a sleazy soap opera that fails primarily because it gives us no one to care about and no reason why we should be interested that we don’t care.

Getaway ½* Ethan Hawke, Selena Gomez. Directed by Courtney Solomon. A former race-car driver is pitted against the clock when his wife is kidnapped by a mysterious villain. This movie seems built for non-English speaking territories in which dialogue is as disposable as Bulgarian police cars. If only those audiences were as dumb as the action itself.

Jobs **½ Ashton Kutcher, Dermot Mulroney, Lukas Haas, J.K. Simmons, Lesley Ann Warren, John Getz, James Woods, Matthew Modine. Directed by Joshua Michael Stern. The story of Steve Jobs’ ascension from college dropout into one of the most revered creative entrepreneurs of the 20th century. This is far from the bomb some would have envisaged, but neither is it the character illumination one would wish for. Jobs appears so consumed by his work here that little else mattered in his life. That may be true, but we’re left none the wiser as to what made the man tick, beyond what we already know.

Red 2 **½ Bruce Willis, John Malkovich, Mary-Louise Parker, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Byung Hun Lee, Anthony Hopkins, Helen Mirren. Directed by Dean Parisot. Retired C.I.A. agent Frank Moses reunites his unlikely team of elite operatives for a global quest to track down a missing portable nuclear device. No movie with this much ass-kicking should feel so lifeless. Nothing in Red 2 is actively offensive, but for the most part, it’s hard to really care for anything that’s happening to these characters.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

My Top 25 College Football Teams

Last week's rank in parenthesis
1.  Florida State 11-0 (1)
2.  Alabama 11-0 (2)
3.  Ohio State 11-0 (5)
4.  Missouri 10-1 (8)
5.  Arizona State 9-2 (9)
6.  Baylor 9-1 (3)
7.  Oklahoma State 10-1 (13)
8.  Stanford 9-2 (6)
9.  Auburn 10-1 (10)
10. Clemson 10-1 (7)
11. Oregon 9-2 (4)
12. Wisconsin 9-2 (11)
13. Michigan State 10-1 (15)
14. South Carolina 9-2 (14)
15. LSU 8-3 (17)
16. Southern California 9-3 (18)
17. UCLA 8-3 (16)
18. Oklahoma 9-2 (22)
19. Texas A&M 8-3 (12)
20. Northern Illinois 11-0 (NR)
21. Georgia 7-4 (21)
22. UCF 9-1 (20)
23. Washington 7-4 (25)
24. Louisville 10-1 (19)
25. Notre Dame 8-3 (NR)
Dropped out: BYU (23), Mississippi (24)

Monday, November 18, 2013

This Week’s DVD Releases

2 Guns **½ Denzel Washington, Mark Wahlberg. Directed by Baltasar Kormákur. Two special agents — one Naval intelligence, one DEA — partner for an undercover sting against a drug cartel that takes a serious wrong turn. Disavowed by their agencies, the pair goes on the run while trying to find out who set them up. Washington and Wahlberg are an effective double act in an intermittently exciting thriller with more twists than it needs. I’d love to see them partnered again, though perhaps as characters.

All Is Bright **½ Paul Giamatti, Paul Rudd, Sally Hawkins, Amy Landecker. Directed by Phil Morrison. While out on parole, a man reluctantly takes a job selling Christmas trees with his old buddy in order to make enough money to buy his estranged daughter the piano she’s always wanted. Directed by Morrison (Junebug) from a lackluster script by Melissa James Gibson, All Is Bright coasts entirely on the formidable talent of its cast, though Giamatti merely offers another variation on the irascible persona he’s been cultivating since Sideways, while Rudd is ultimately defeated by his character’s shapelessness.

And While We Were Here **½ Kate Bosworth. Directed by Kat Coiro. While working on a writing project on the island of Ischia, a married woman enters into an affair with a younger man. Just good enough to pique your curiosity, but never quite good enough to captivate.

Breaking the Girls **½ Agnes Brucker, Madeline Zima, Shawn Ashmore, John Stockwell. Directed by Jamie Babbit. Sara, a college student who was slandered by a classmate, finds herself framed for murder by Alex, who initially proposed the perfect, untraceable crime. Literalizing Strangers On A Train’s gay subtext might theoretically have been interesting, but Breaking The Girls’ LGBT angle, like everything else about it, seems pandering rather than heartfelt — a "contemporary rethinking" of material that was once sturdy enough not to require a pseudo-sleazy hard sell.

C.O.G. ** Jonathan Groff, Denis O’Hare, Casey Wilson, Dean Stockwell, Troian Bellisario, Corey Stoll. Directed by Kyle Patrick Alvarez. A cocky young man travels to Oregon to work on an apple farm. Out of his element, he finds his lifestyle and notions being picked apart by everyone who crosses his path. What was very funny in print becomes serious and occasionally dour onscreen, with fewer laughs than you would expect from a David Sedaris project.

Crystal Fairy *** Michael Cera, Gaby Hoffman, Agustin Silva, Juan Andrés Silva, José Miguel Silva. Directed by Sebastián Silva. A self-absorbed young American traveling in Chile plans a journey with his pals to find a legendary hallucinogenic cactus. But when he invites the free-spirited Crystal Fairy along, they find themselves locked in a battle of wills. One of the most satisfying things about this film is that even though the lead character prefers to keep an ironic distance from things, the film itself is completely sincere. It’s about being good to people even when they’re kind of ridiculous.

Drew: The Man Behind the Poster **½ George Lucas, Steven Spielberg, Guillermo del Toro, Frank Darabont, Thomas Jane, Michael J. Fox, Harrison Ford. Directed by Erik Sharkey. A documentary on movie-poster artist Drew Struzan. Although it offers some insight into his distinctive technique, it could have gone much further. But viewers will appreciate spending time with this cheerful, unassuming man, and will enjoy seeing the artist acknowledged by celebrities who owe him so much.

Hannah Arendt ***½ Barbara Sukowa, Axel Milberg, Janet McTeer. Directed by Margarethe von Trotta. A look at the life of the philosopher and political theorist who reported for The New Yorker on the war crimes trial of the Nazi Adolf Eichmann. Von Trotta seems to borrow some of her subject’s haughty disdain for compromise in a serviceable script that does the job of telling us who Hannah Arendt was; like a good pair of solid, gray walking shoes there’s nothing fancy or modern to distract from the portrait of one of the most important thinkers of the century.

Paranoia ½* Liam Hensworth, Gary Oldman, Amber Heard, Harrison Ford. Directed by Robert Luketic. Blackmailed by his company’s CEO, a low-level employee finds himself forced to spy on the boss’s rival and former mentor. The fact that Hemsworth is severely lacking in leading-man charisma doesn’t help the pervasive overall incompetence of the film, which fixates on the perils and panic of our modern surveillance culture while itself proving to be borderline unwatchable.

Planes * Directed by Klay Hall. A cropdusting plane with a fear of heights lives his dream of competing in a famous around-the-world aerial race. The film feels second-rate in every sense, from the quality of its animation to its C-list voice cast.

The To-Do List *** Directed by Maggie Carey. A sexually inexperienced high school graduate comes up with a list of erotic activities she’d like to work her way through before heading off to college in the fall. In its exuberantly smutty way, this is a revolutionary development: a teen sex comedy where the girls get to play nasty and the boys stand around looking vaguely terrified.

Violet & Daisy **½ Saoirse Ronan, Alexis Bedel, Marianne Jean-Baptiste, Danny Trejo, James Gandolfini. Directed by Geoffrey Fletcher. Two teenage assassins accept what they think will be a quick-and-easy job, until an unexpected target throws them off their plan. Fletcher and his players never quite hit on a tone that works. Fantastical dream sequences and side trips to the store to get "more bullets" never quite rise to the level of wry commentary. This just isn’t as cute and funny as Fletcher seems to think it is. Gandolfini’s quietly magnificent performance is the only reason to rent this DVD.

We’re the Millers ** Jennifer Aniston, Jason Sudeikis. Directed by Rawson Marshall Thurber. A veteran pot dealer creates a fake family as part of his plan to move a huge shipment of weed into the U.S. from Mexico. The movie’s script — it took four writers to cobble together something that seems so slight — hits too many obvious notes between the moments when Aniston can strut her stuff.

The World’s End ***½ Simon Pegg, Nick Frost. Directed by Edgar Wright. Twenty years after attempting a marathon pub crawl, a group of friends reunites to give it another shot. Their ultimate destination is the World’s End pub, whose name turns out to be rather literal. A mix of comedy, science fiction, nostalgia, adolescent wish-fulfillment and beer, beer, beer, its parts shouldn’t fit together as neatly as they do. But somehow Wright and Pegg have again managed to make a movie that is knowing, touching and hilarious.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

My Top 25 College Football Teams

Last week's rank in parenthesis
1.  Florida State 10-0 (1)
2.  Alabama 10-0 (2)
3.  Baylor 9-0 (3)
4.  Oregon 9-1 (6)
5.  Ohio State 10-0 (5)
6.  Stanford 8-2 (4)
7.  Clemson 9-1 (8)
8.  Missouri 9-1 (7)
9.  Arizona State 8-2 (9)
10. Auburn 10-1 (10)
11. Wisconsin 8-2 (11)
12. Texas A&M 8-2 (12)
13. Oklahoma State 9-1 (14)
14. South Carolina 8-2 (13)
15. Michigan State 9-1 (15)
16. UCLA 8-2 (16)
17. LSU 7-3 (17)
18. Southern California 8-3 (22)
19. Louisville 9-1 (21)
20. UCF 8-1 (18)
21. Georgia 6-4 (20)
22. Oklahoma 8-2 (23)
23. BYU 7-3 (19)
24. Mississippi 7-3 (NR)
25. Washington 6-4 (25)
Dropped out: Virginia Tech (24)

Friday, November 15, 2013

How low can Republicans sink?

Of all the desperate tactics Republicans have taken to sabotage the Affordable Care Act, this is the absolute worst: They are encouraging people not to buy health insurance!

It borders on the criminal for a pair of wealthy Tea Party right-wingnuts (we all know which brothers I’m talking about here) to tell poor Americans to forgo access to basic health simply because they don’t like the occupant of the White House. "Hey let those poor people suffer if it advances our political cause," they say. "We don’t have to worry. We have more than enough money to buy own hospitals, let alone insurance."

What gaul! What selfishness! These people should be charged with attempted murder.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Bet you never figured Noah for a gladiator

In memory of Dan O’Bannon

That scene from Alien

While watching Alfonso Cuarón’s superb film Gravity, 2013's best film so far, I was struck by the way he paid his respects to other notable sci-films that preceded his, which is one of the reasons I revisited the movie Alien tonight. And watching it from the perspective of 34 years after it was made, I was struck by how dark it was, especially coming only two years after the far more optimistic Star Wars and Close Encounters of the Third Kind.

The result I finally came to is that Dan O’Bannon, who conceived the story of and wrote the screenplay for Alien, never received the credit due to him. And I don’t know why that was so.

Screenwriter/director Dan O'Bannon
Well, maybe I do. I checked out O’Bannon’s bio on Wikipedia, and I found out he didn’t do all that much outside of Alien. Oh, he did write the screenplay for the 1990 version of Total Recall, which I also liked (and I guess he did too) as well as, somewhat earlier, John Badham’s Blue Thunder, which is also a guilty pleasure of mine (and a film Wikipedia tells me O’Bannon didn’t like because all of his political overtones were scrubbed from the final product).

He was also a director and his most notable achievement in that field was 1985's Return of the Living Dead, a movie that remains unseen by me for many reasons.

But even if he had done absolutely nothing else, O’Bannon would deserve a place in some science fiction-horror hall of honor just for Alien.

O’Bannon, suffered all his life from Crohn’s disease. If you’re not familiar with this, it is, again according to Wikipedia, "a type of inflammatory bowel disease that may affect any part of the gastrointestinal tract … and primarily causes abdominal pain, diarrhea, vomiting or weight loss." O’Bannon died from Crohn’s on Dec. 17, 2009. He was 63. It’s interesting to note that his battle with Crohn’s was the inspiration for the chest-busting scene in Alien.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Dallas mayor recites The Gettysburg Address

Thanks to documentarian Ken Burns you can go here and not only see a number of individuals, including Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings, recite the Gettysburg Addresss, but you can also see a magnificent compilation of speakers reciting it including President Obama and all four living former Presidents. However, you can also go here and see the same compilation along with ABC News' hysterical headline on the event.
You really have got to see it (both the compilation and the headline) to believe it. What was ABC News thinking?

Monday, November 11, 2013

This Week’s DVD Releases

The Attack **** Directed by Ziad Doueri. An Arab surgeon living in Tel Aviv discovers a dark secret about his wife in the aftermath of a suicide bombing. The best kind of anti-war propaganda film, calm in feeling and mood, yet truly terrifying in showing the scourge of our age: terrorism, which can strike anybody, anywhere, at any time. It's also a love story, and a film about having it all. And then in an instant, losing everything.

Barbara ****½ Nina Hoss, Ronald Zehrfeld, Rainer Bock. Directed by Christian Petzold. A doctor working in 1980s East Germany finds herself banished to a small country hospital. Petzold handles personal, formal, and political concerns in such perfect balance, it's difficult, and not especially desirable, to separate one from the next. The movie is dense but never feels it, assembled with easy mastery and engrossing throughout. It's one terrific film, as smart, thoughtful and emotionally involving as just about anything that's out there.

Blackfish ****½ Directed by Gabriela Cowperthwaite. A documentary that examines the life of performing killer whale Tilikum — who has caused the deaths of several people while in captivity — and questions the safety and humaneness of confining these creatures. Cowperthwaite builds a portrait of an intelligent but profoundly traumatized animal who was taken from his family in the North Atlantic as an infant, and has been driven to anger, resentment and perhaps psychosis after spending his life in a series of concrete swimming pools.

Frances Ha ****½ Greta Gerwig, Mickey Sumner. Directed by Noah Baumbach. Determined to make it as a modern dancer in New York, Frances pursues her unlikely goal with more enthusiasm than natural talent. The rest of the time, she and her sardonic best friend, Sophie, put off growing up for as long as they can. The writing is so musical, so attuned to human frailty and aspiration, that I defy anyone to watch the movie without smiling — with amusement one minute, rueful recognition the next, but probably always with some measure of simple, undiluted delight.

Ip Man: The Final Fight **½ Anthony Wong. Directed by Herman Yau. This entry in the saga of the man who trained Bruce Lee finds the middle-aged master teaching the Wing Chun style in Hong Kong. The nostalgic tale unfolds during a cultural crossroads amid the tension of British rule during the 1950s. The filmmakers fall over themselves trying to respect the subject’s outlook on life, and this makes him seem more like a hyper-disciplined saint than a world-reknowned, ass-kicking hermit.

Man of Steel **½ Henry Cavill, Amy Adams, Michael Shannon, Kevin Costner, Diane Lane, Laurence Fishburne, Russell Crowe. Directed by Zack Snyder. A young itinerant worker is forced to confront his secret extraterrestrial heritage when Earth is invaded by members of his race. The whole film ends up feeling weighed down: though Man of Steel bounds from one epic setpiece to another, you're left with the nagging feeling that you just can't work out what the central twosome see in each other. And for Superman and Lois Lane, that's hardly ideal.

Paradise ** Julianne Hough, Russell Brand, Octavia Spencer, Nick Offerman, Holly Hunter. Directed by Diablo Cody. After surviving a plane crash a young conservative woman suffers a crisis of faith. Cody shows promise as a director, paving over the bumpy patches with clever song choices, but needs to mix things up if she hopes to continue.

Prince Avalanche **** Paul Rudd, Emile Hirsch. Directed by David Gordon Green. While repainting traffic lines along a burnt-out stretch of rural highway, a mismatched pair — straightlaced Alvin and his girlfriend's harebrained brother, Lance — form an unlikely bond that builds upon their differences. Prince Avalanche speaks insightfully to the joys and costs of being alone, and of the risk that comes with letting another person in. Bittersweet and deeply felt, it also shows with confidence the estimable and still surprising talents of its cast and director.

Turbo **½ Ryan Reynolds, Paul Giamatti, Michael Peña, Snoop Dogg, Maya Rudolph, Michelle Rodriguez, Samuel L. Jackson. Directed by David Soren. A speed-obsessed snail who dreams of being the world's greatest race car driver gets his chance when a freak accident imbues him with high-octane speed. Content to be merely cheerfully clichéd, it's an assembly-line kids' film that, unlike its daring protagonist, risks little, and thus reaps only modest rewards. All it does is give Reynolds, Giamatti, Jackson and Snoop Dogg the easiest paychecks they’ll ever make, and its corporate overlords the chance to sell a few toys.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

My Top 25 College Football Teams

Last week's rank in parenthesis
1.  Florida State 9-0 (1)
2.  Alabama 9-0 (2)
3.  Baylor 8-0 (5)
4.  Stanford 8-1 (6)
5.  Ohio State 9-0 (4)
6.  Oregon 8-1 (3)
7.  Missouri 9-1 (7)
8.  Clemson 8-1 (8)
9.  Arizona State 7-2 (9)
10. Auburn 9-1 (10)
11. Wisconsin 7-2 (19)
12. Texas A&M 8-2 (12)
13. South Carolina 7-2 (11)
14. Oklahoma State 8-1 (16)
15. Michigan State 8-1 (15)
16. UCLA 7-2 (22)
17. LSU 7-3 (13)
18. UCF 7-1 (23)
19. BYU 6-3 (18)
20. Georgia 6-3 (20)
21. Louisville 8-1 (21)
22. Southern California 7-3 (25)
23. Oklahoma 7-2 (14)
24. Virginia Tech 7-3 (NR)
25. Washington 6-3 (NR)
Dropped out: Miami. Fla. (17), Notre Dame (24)

Monday, November 4, 2013

This Week’s DVD Releases

As I Lay Dying **½ James Franco, Tim Blake Nelson, Danny McBride. Directed by James Franco. Chronicles the story of a poor Southern clan carrying out the family matriarch’s dying wish to be buried in a distant town. A worthwhile movie, approached in an intelligent and creative spirit. The ensemble work from the actors is generally very strong, with a star turn from Nelson as the prematurely aged patriarch, and the story is presented lucidly and confidently.

Broken **½ Tim Roth, Cilian Murphy. Directed by Rufus Norris. Skunk, a precocious and diabetic 11-year-old, lives happily with her brother and widower father in a suburban English neighborhood until an act of violence initiates her into the often-baffling world of adulthood. Unfortunately, Broken lives up to its mawkish title, and the slice-of-life tragedies of the film’s first half devolve into manipulative melodrama in the latter part. When society breaks, the spell does, too.

Computer Chess ****½ Patrick Reister, Myles Paige, James Curry, Robin Schwartz, Gerald Peary, Wiley Wiggins, Gordon Kindlmann. Directed by Andrew Bujalski. A comedic period piece set before PCs became commonplace centers on a 1980s chess tournament in which human competitors get their first crack at testing their skills against a machine. So far the funniest, headiest, most playfully eccentric American indie of the year, Bujalski’s perceptive avant-garde comedy teases out unanswered existential and behavioral questions about mankind’s curious obsession with artificial intelligence and automation.

The Fitzgerald Family Christmas *** Kerry Bishe, Edward Burns, Marsha Dietlein Bennett, Caitlin Fitzgerald, Anita Gillette, Tom Guiry, Ed Lauter, Michael McGlone, Nick Sandow, Noah Emmerich, Connie Britton. Directed by Edward Burns. The adult siblings of the Fitzgerald family prepare for their estranged father to return home for Christmas for the first time since he walked out on his family 20 years ago. Burns shuffles this dense material with the dexterity of a card shark. The pace, although swift, is never rushed. The writing and acting give you vivid enough tastes of the characters - there are seven children, two parents, and assorted spouses, lovers and friends - so that each registers as a singular flavor.

Girl Most Likely * Kristen Wiig, Annette Bening, Matt Dillon, Darren Criss, Directed by Shari Springer Berman, Robert Pulcini. After staging an unsuccessful suicide to get her boyfriend’s attention, a struggling playwright moves back home to live with her mother, her mother’s boyfriend and a handsome lodger who sings with a Backstreet Boys cover band. Wiig’s new comedy sulks limply along with her unable to bring the kind of energy that might complement her tendency to underplay every scene.

Grown Ups 2 ½* Adam Sandler, Kevin James, Chris Rock, David Spade. Directed by Dennis Dugan. After moving his family back to his hometown, a Hollywood talent agent and his grown-up childhood friends learn lessons from their kids — and some of the locals — on the last day of school. It’s hard to imagine another comedy coming along this year that is this abrasive and free of laughs. It’s like everyone involved intentionally tried to create a horrible movie.

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey **½ Ian McKellen, Martin Freeman, Richard Armitage, James Nesbitt, Ken Stott, Cate Blanchett, Ian Holm, Christopher Lee, Hugo Weaving, Elijah Wood. Directed by Peter Jackson. Bilbo Baggins sets out on a journey to the Lonely Mountain to reclaim the Hobbits’ stolen mountain home from a dragon named Smaug. There is little that is unexpected here. Rather than an epic continuation of Jackson’s Middle-earth obsession, the film seems more like the work of a man driving around a multilevel parking garage without being able to find the exit.

Lovelace **½ Amanda Seyfried, Peter Sarsgaard, Hank Azaria, Adam Brody, Bobby Cannavale, James Franco, Debi Mazar, Chris Noth, Chloe Sevigny, Sharon Stone, Juno Temple. Directed by Rob Epstein, Jeffrey Friedman. The story of adult film icon Linda Lovelace, a woman coerced into and abused by the porn industry before taking charge of her life. A timid gloss over on a hardcore subject — a movie that takes a wild true story and shoehorns it into a formulaic mold. Seyfried’s performance is almost worth the price of a rental. But Linda Lovelace deserved something more.

Parkland **½ Zac Efron, Marcia Gay Harden, Billy Bob Thornton, Jacki Weaver, Paul Giamatti. Directed by Peter Landesman. A recounting of the chaotic events that occurred at Dallas’ Parkland Hospital on the day President John F. Kennedy was assassinated. Because the film offers no new insights, theories or important information, you’re left wondering why it was made.

Passion *** Rachel McAdams, Noomi Rapace. Karoline Herfurth, Paul Anderson. Directed by Brian DePalma. Christine, an ad exec whose veins run with ice water, has no qualms about taking the credit for a plum idea dreamed up by her mousy assistant, Isabel. But the incident sparks shy, passive Isabel to undertake a campaign of revenge against her boss. The movie is one long game of misdirection, playing tricks on viewers from scene to scene, and showing how easy it is to steer a crowd into missing something important. That’s the real De Palma touch, even more than the operatic overtones and excess. It is often sleek and enjoyable, dispensing titillation, suspense and a few laughs without taking itself too seriously.

Renoir ***½ Michel Bouquet, Christa Théret, Vincent Rottiers. Directed by Gilles Bourdos. In 1915, elderly painter Pierre-Auguste Renoir is crippled by both loss and arthritis, but when vibrant teenager Andrée brightens his life, he finds new purpose — as does his son Jean, a wounded soldier who is inspired by Andrée’s love of cinema. There’s something in this nostalgic, lovingly photographed film about the transition from the classical art of painting to the new art of the cinema, as embodied by one of the greatest practitioners of each. The independent-minded Andrée, who would go on to marry Jean Renoir and star in several of his early films, is presented as something more than a mere muse, if something less than a full-fledged character. One would expect a film about the great French artist to look beautiful, to be shot in warm, sumptuous colors. And one would not be disappointed with this.

White House Down **½ Channing Tatum, Jamie Foxx. Directed by Roland Emmerich. While on a tour of the White House with his young daughter, a Capitol policeman springs into action to save his child and protect the President from a heavily armed group of paramilitary invaders. This is a solidly a genre picture, and one that follows all the necessary conventions — but it’s also one that does it all very well. That means lots of big, dumb and loud action — but it also means good, microwave popcorny, stay-at-home-on-the-couch fun. As demented and entertaining as promised, and a little less idiotic than feared.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

My Top 25 College Football Teams

Last week's rank in parenthesis
1.  Florida State 8-0 (2)
2.  Alabama 8-0 (1)
3.  Oregon 8-0 (3)
4.  Ohio State 9-0 (4)
5.  Baylor 7-0 (6)
6.  Stanford 7-1 (5)
7.  Missouri 8-1 (7)
8.  Clemson 8-1 (8)
9.  Arizona State 6-2 (12)
10. Auburn 8-1 (9)
11. South Carolina 7-2 (14)
12. Texas A&M 7-2 (10)
13. LSU 7-2 (13)
14. Oklahoma 7-1 (15)
15. Michigan State 8-1 (19)
16. Oklahoma State 7-1 (23)
17. Miami, Fla. 7-1 (11)
18. BYU 6-2 (16)
19. Wisconsin 6-2 (24)
20. Georgia 5-3 (21)
21. Louisville 7-1 (17)
22. UCLA 6-2 (18)
23. UCF 6-1 (22)
24. Notre Dame 7-2 (NR)
25. Southern California 6-3 (NR)
Dropped out: Michigan (25), Texas Tech (20)

Friday, November 1, 2013

CVS Pharmacy where our motto is “If we kill enough of our customers then, perhaps, we won’t have to work so hard”

Considering the patient-pharmacist relationship as a covenant means that a pharmacist has moral obligations in response to the gift of trust received from society. In return for this gift, a pharmacist promises to help individuals achieve optimum benefit from their medications, to be committed to their welfare, and to maintain their trust.
—American Pharmacists Association, Code of Ethics, Article 1

Now that is one huge truckload of bat guano. At least it is when applied to CVS pharmacists. Specifically it’s a huge truckload of bat guano when it comes to the pharmacist operating (hopefully, not for long) at the CVS Pharmacy located on the southeast corner of Forest and Abrams in Dallas.

I usually don’t like to write about personal experience on this blog unless they serve in some way to illuminate something terribly wrong in our society that the rest of the population of that society needs to be made aware of for their own well-being. This is such an instance.

Tonight, a few moments after 7 p.m., I was returning home from giving the dog a run with her best buds at Moss Park. I stopped at the neighborhood CVS (which I now know stands for Cancelling Vital Serivces) to get a prescription for Pravastatin. The pharmacist on duty categorically refused to take my refill information. When I asked if the pharmacy department was closed, I was told it was open until 10 p.m. When I asked why they would not take my information, the quack in charge (at least the only one back there wearing the traditional white jacket) said they were "overloaded." When I then tried to tell them I wasn’t in need of an immediate refill, that I could come back and retrieve the refill 24 hours later, the guy in the white jacket simply turned his back and walked away.

Does that sound like someone committed to society’s welfare? No, it sounds like someone committed only to his lazy butt.

Now for those not familiar with Pravastatin, it, among other things, "helps prevent heart attack and stroke in people who have heart disease." I guess that means the quack pharmacists at CVS must adhere to the philosophy that "preventing heart attacks, hmmm, that doesn’t seem too important to me. I mean everyone deserves a couple of heart attacks in his or her lifetime."

Tonight, of course, will be the last time I ever set foot inside a CVS Pharmacy. You readers out there are free to do as you wish, depending on how much you value your own health and well-being. There’s a Walgreens about a mile further down the road that’s going to be seeing a lot more of me.

And, yes, I have filed official complaints about this pharmacist’s actions to CVS corporate, the Better Business Bureau, the Texas Attorney General’s Office and the aforementioned American Pharmacists Association. If I hear anything from these folks, I’ll be sure to let you know. Watch this space.

In the meantime, be warned.