Update: Melancholia Info For Those Of You Looking

Hey real quick,

A few months ago I wrote this blog post about my horrible realization of the number of movies I watched last year; which spawned this new movie blog.

Thanks to WordPress’ excellent method of tracking your blog’s stats, I noticed that many of the people who read that blogged clicked the link of the picture to film Melancholia, that I rented through Amazon although it was still in theaters.

I think this was because few people had heard of it and had wanted more info on it.

Well just wanted to send a quick note that Melancholia is available for FREE streaming with an Amazon Prime Video Membership.

There are one of two ways that you can get access to a Prime Membership:

1) Join Amazon Prime for only $79 per year and not only enjoy unlimited, free videos from the Amazon Prime link above, but enjoy free upgraded two day shipping for anything sold by Amazon on their website. Well worth it. Check the Amazon Prime Video Membership link above to join.


2) If you’ve purchased an absolutely awesome Kindle Fire within the past 30 days, your Amazon Prime Membership is completely free for the first 30 days.

If you’ve done either of these two actions, then you have free access to watch Melancholia, if you’re still interested.

That is all.



Urban (Un)Legend – People Are Not Urban

A Republican friend of mine, Scott, posted the following quote from Presidential Candidate Romney:

“We (Republicans) will stop the unfairness of urban children being denied access to the good schools of their choice; We will stop the unfairness of politicians giving taxpayer money to their friends’ businesses; we will stop unfairness of requiring union workers to contribute to politicians not of their choosing; we will stop the unfairness of government workers getting better pay and benefits than the taxpayers they serve; and we will stop the unfairness of one generation passing larger and larger debts on to the next” Romney 2012

I have taken the liberty of putting in bold the part of the quote I’m writing about.

This needs to stop. Labeling things or worse, people, because of terminology you’ve heard in conversation.

Here is someone trying to get elected to lead the country, and in that is campaigning to help mystical people.

There’s no such thing as ‘Urban Children’. What is that anyway?

If you say Urban Legend, it means something spoken of but no one has ever seen it.

I’ve heard Urban Cities, but that’s a contradiction. Why?

ur·ban   [ur-buhn]


1. of, pertaining to, or designating a city or town.
2. living in a city.
3.characteristic of or accustomed to cities; citified: He is an urban type.

So Urban means City. Saying Urban City is saying city twice. Much like saying ATM Machine is saying Machine twice (the M in ATM).

So what exactly was Romney saying. Somehow, someway the term Urban became another way to describe African American people as a whole.

Or perhaps now it means all minorities.

Under the technical term of his use of the word urban in his quote, Romney was implying that all of the best schools are located out in the country, and he was going to help all City children get to any of those great schools they want to attend out in the country.

And we know that’s not true.

Look, we are people not urban. We’re not defined by where we live. Unless you’re out milking cows and pumping water from a well, we all live in the City. A City. Any City.

People who live in the country don’t refer to people who live in the City as The Urban’s. Stop doing it to us.

And while I’m at it, let’s do away with the term Reverse Racism, shall we?

No such thing. If a person doesn’t like another person because of their race, it’s RACISM. Period.

Reverse Racism makes even the word Racism racist.

Let’s knock this stuff off.

A Simple Solution To NBA Teams Resting Their Players

Hoops fans know the drill. It starts to happen around this time every year, although it’s usually not as dramatic as this season.

Last night when I finally got home and turned on the tv, there was already a basketball game on. The game was between the Boston Celtics and Miami Heat.

This is usually a Heavyweight game. The kind of game that comes on Sunday in prime time on ABC.

The Celtics’ Big 3, who won a championship in 2008 vs Miami’s Big 3, who have as good a chance as anyone to win it this year.

At the time I turned the game on it was seven minutes to go in the fourth quarter and the score was 58-54. This should have been more of a halftime score with these two teams.

After looking a little closer, I noticed a lot of unfamiliar faces on the court. In fact neither teams Big 3 or any of their starters were in the game. Actually none of them played. At all.

That’s because at this point the playoff seeds for these two teams were already set. There was no chance of either team being seeded higher or lower so they gave everyone the night off.

And they are not alone. Countless NBA stars have been sitting lately to rest up. Some injured, some slightly injured, most just wanting to rest.

I have a problem with this theory. They are thinking about it from a competitive standpoint rather than the more accurate standpoint entertainment.

That’s all the NBA and any other sport is. It’s all entertainment and the players are performers. Performers need to perform every show on the schedule.

All the rest in the world won’t change the fact that there will be only one champion at the end of the season.

I have no idea why there’s an implication a motivated pro athlete would basically be too tired to win a world championship.

But the only losers in this is the fans. That was basically an amateur game last night. The problem with that is that it didn’t cost amateur money to watch in person.

What if there was a kid in attendance who did well in school all year and was promised to go to his first game after getting good grades? What if that game was last night’s game?

Or how about if someone may have paid extra money from a broker for tickets to the game last night because they thought this heavyweight match would be a good one?

What about the disappointment of anyone who turned on the tv for free to watch a good game only to find the players we want to see sitting out? Should it not matter because we didn’t pay for it?

What if you had paid top dollar to see your favorite music artist in concert and he/she/they were resting for a more important show next week? As a result the entire show consisted of the band just playing music. Are you telling me you and anyone else in attendance wouldn’t be angry to say the least?

Why is it ok in the NBA?

Gregg Popovich, Coach of the San Antonio Spurs, made this process popular a few years ago. He would (and still does) frequently rest his star players at random toward the season’s end in preparation for the playoffs.

But the Spurs haven’t won a title in five years. Not to mention they were embarrassed last year by becoming only the second #1 seed to lose to an #8 seed in the playoffs since the first round changed to best out of seven.

Rest didn’t help.

These millionaires can rest during the four to six months they get off in the ‘off-season’.

Commissioner David Stern needs to intervene on this.

The same commissioner that was so concerned about the integrity of his league that he implemented a strict dress code.

The same commissioner so concerned about the integrity of his league that he fines any player, coach, or owner that so much as thinks a negative word against the league or its referee’s.

But I don’t think a fine is warranted for this situation. I have a much more simple solution that the league could easily implement.

Create a five day gap between the last day of the season and the first day of the playoffs.

This not only gives all players in the playoffs an equal amount of time to rest, but it also spares the fans from paying big money to see a glorified Junior Varsity game like the one last night.

I realize this league is about money. So are all other forms of entertainment. Remember those young amateurs that we refer to as college players? There’s a six day gap between the Regional Finals and the Final Four of the NCAA Tournament.

No one forgets about it. No one loses interest and decides not to watch the Final Four. In fact the Final Four is easily the biggest night of the entire college hoops season.

Equally, no one would forget about the NBA Playoffs. In fact, it may even give us fans a few days rest from the game right before we are bombarded with more meaningful games in period than the entire regular season combined.

But what do I know? I’m just a fan of the game who happens to be a bigger fan of common sense.

I’m speaking on behalf of anyone at that Miami/Boston game last night. If I were really going to go after this, I would lobby for everyone at that game to get a full refund.

And they would be entitled.

What do you think?


Trapped On A Ride At Disneyland: True Psychological Fear

To me, one of the scariest things on the planet is when you put together two very simple words.

And the kind of scary I’m talking about is not that of a horror film or that extremely overweight lady wearing a Tube Top.

I’m talking about that of a psychological nature.  And when there is a psychological aspect that means there are no limits to your thoughts.

The two words I am referring to are ‘What If’.

Sometimes they can be good, but that’s rare. When it is a good thought, we’ll dismiss it rather quickly with the assumption that it would never happen. ‘What If I won the lottery’ is usually succeeded by ‘yeah, like that would ever happen’.

But when ‘What If’ is a matter of life and death, it’s much harder to dismiss. And it’s that feeling that (in your mind) turns a simple, temporary problem in to a dramatic situation.

My family and I took a short trip to The Happiest Place on Earth on Saturday evening. We’re annual passholders so going for a couple of hours is not out of the norm for us.

About five months ago, we were ecstatic that our little girl had finally been tall enough to ride the roller coaster at California Adventure called California Screamin‘.

So naturally, this is the first ride of the day the baby wanted to ride. It was around 6:30 in the evening and the wait time was listed as 45 minutes.

But In actuality it took about 20-25 minutes to get on.This is relevant because if it had taken 45 minutes to get on, this story would not exist.

At the end of the line, the cast member asked us how many were in our group. Our five year old loves to answer this question. She enthusiastically hollers THREE!

We were instructed to go to lane 7 and 8 on the left side. I went to lane 7 and the baby wanted to ride with mommy so they took lane 8, so I would be in the front of our car.

We quickly load in to the car, strap in, and we are off; excited to go on our journey.

Let’s stop right here for a second. It’s amazing how oblivious we are to dangers until it gets dangerous. Every time we step behind the wheel of a car, on an airplane, on a theme park attraction, etc we are basically putting our life in danger. Of course we don’t think about it like that, as we shouldn’t. If we did, we would have a tough time getting through life. But how often we unwittingly escape danger is a truly amazing thought.

Back to the story; We slowly pull out of the station where we stop at a straightaway. We’re outdoors, it’s dusk and there’s a carnival like atmosphere on what they call the Boardwalk in the back of the park. It’s beautiful. We’re smiling. We’re eagerly anticipating launch.

The voice-over says, “Get ready Screamers. Prepare to launch in…..5…..4….3….2….1!”

A millisecond after he says one, we take off. We launch from 0 – 55 in 4 seconds, right up a climb that throws us over the other side.

We’re zigzagging, turning, climbing, dropping, and even going in a loop much to our excitement. I hear them behind me, screaming and laughing. I have a smile on my face, I’m laughing, I’m having a blast. Not a care in the world. Enjoying the ride.

We get to the last part of the ride. After going through what my old friend Dan Barnes used to call “The Whoopdie Doo’s” (meaning the small hills that you go up and down on a roller coaster; he was referring to Colossus at Magic Mountain but there’s a part like that on this ride too), we prepare for the last part, which is a long, fast, sharp left turn that lasts for at least five seconds.

Right before we turn, the train slides over a portion of the track that is designed to slow us down just enough so we don’t head in to that turn with too much speed.

The only problem is instead of it slowing us down, this time it stopped us. Completely!

Then you hear a recording in the speaker saying they are experiencing technical difficulties.

This is where the ‘What If’s’ start taking over. It takes over because we are completely helpless. At the mercy of what you hope to be excellent engineering and the higher being you believe in.

First thought: As we were going through the Whoopdie Doo’s, I took a quick notice of a train in motion on the track above us. ‘What If’ that train can’t stop? ‘What If’ our stop wasn’t on purpose and they can’t stop that train fast enough so it rams us at full speed? I also thought about this story that I had read.

I start to look around. But thanks to the over-the-shoulder Harness, I can’t see anything behind me. Even if I could see, what exactly could I do if we were faced with something horrible?

I remain calm. I don’t say anything. I can hear my ladies talking behind me so I know they are fine.

An apologetic voice comes over the PA system and tells us that the ride has broken down and a Cast Member (what Disney calls their employees) will be there to assist us shortly.

In the meantime, all we can do is sit and wait. This is what I see.

But what I’m thinking; that’s a little tougher.

At this point I’ve safely concluded that the other train that was running is not going to ram us. I take comfort in that portion. But there are more thoughts.

‘What If’ we fall? Is this designed to hold us up if we’re sitting in one spot? Normally we’re rolling through this section. Will the weight of the train hold us here? For how long? The track is made of steel right?

At the time, it seems silly. More dramatic than probably necessary. But think of how vulnerable you are while sitting still well above ground level strapped in a harness that won’t budge.

The front part that I’m sitting in has less leg room than the row behind me. Around this time I’m kicking myself for not sitting in row 8. I’m taller than my ladies and need more leg room. As a result of poor row selection, my legs are falling asleep. I guess I should have known that on that day, at that exact time we were on it that the ride would break down and leave us stranded.

For about the fourth time in a few minute period, the apologetic voice would apologize again and assure us that someone is coming to help us.

Our little girl is starting to get anxious and nervous. I reach in to my backpack and pass her the tablet that she uses to watch videos to help her keep her mind off of what’s going on. Of course the harness makes it difficult to pass anything to my wife. It looked like our arms have shrunk.

What felt like three hours had passed….but it was only about 10 minutes. Two cast members arrive at the top of the steps next to us, as row 7 and 8 are the middle rows of the train.

The first feeling was relief. To be able to see anyone outside of the train was pure relief. ‘Get us out of this thing’ was my first thought. But they then informed us that they couldn’t get us out until the mechanics arrived.

Ok now it starts again. ‘What If’ something happens before they get here? Why are they not already here? How long does it take them to get here? They’re on the premises right?

By now my foot is almost numb. I scoot it about 3 inches to see if the blood will circulate again. It does. But it only buys me minutes. I hope they will arrive soon.

The cast members walk by to get a count for each group to give us front of the line passes to another attraction. They inform us that the passes are good for anything in either park accept the World of Color Show and Star Tours. Well, we’re risking our lives here. We’re in grave danger. And though that’s laughably argumentative, it is a valid argument. Disneyland is telling us that we apologize for your life being put in danger, but we’re not going to let you get in the front of the line of our most popular attraction.

Um, thanks.

A few minutes later the mechanics came up the stairs which prompted everyone who could see them to cheer.

We noticed they had on Bungee Chords, and that kinda inadvertently validated my ‘what ifs’. My wife made a valid observation. They are on Bungee’s so if this thing goes down they’re ok….but what about us?

But we don’t know what the Bungee Chords were for so it was all speculation out of the moment. Ideally the chords would have to be attached to something still standing and they didn’t appear to be attached to anything and were worn on their backs. It was clearly a precautionary measure, but we’re not thinking regular right now. In our eyes, the world is coming to an end and we’re in the middle of a battle zone without any equipment.

I overheard the mechanics speaking (probably because when you’re in this situation, you are looking directly in their mouths no matter who they are talking to) and one of them said they had to start from the front of the train. I began to be grateful that we weren’t in the last car.

We watched them manually, on the count of three, hit two buttons simultaneously to release the harness over all the shoulders of the riders. We watched people get out the train with a relieved look on their face. The cast members who were still up there (the non-mechanic, front of the line pass passer-outers who won’t let us cut in line for Star Tours) were forming a straight line of all passengers who had already exited the train. Apparently there would be one, and only one, trip downstairs.

The mechanics get to our car and politely gave us specific instructions:

“Ok everyone put your arms down and keep your head back. We’re going to open the harness but please do not exit until we tell you to. We’re going to exit the front row first so (looking at our baby) you’re going to stay in the seat until we say so, ok?”

It’s funny because at this point, you find yourself following instructions to a dramatic tee. I dropped my arms till I was damn near sitting on them. The harness didn’t go down that far but just in case, I didn’t want the presence of my elevated arm to be the cause for the ride to tip over or something. My head was no where near being in the way of the harness being raised, but I had my head pressed all the way back against the seat like I’m an Astronaut on a Rocket.

They raised the harness and directed me to the stairs where the start of the line has moved down a few steps to make room for the rest of us coming out. I couldn’t even help get my ladies out. But I was just a few feet away.

Here’s my baby getting out of the train as her mom (in the bottom left) and I can only look on. And yet after all this they still won’t even let us ride Star Tours.

By this time, my family and I are safely off the ride. But we’re still standing at right next to it. No closer to the safety of the ground than we were minutes before. The only difference is now we’re free to move. Unfortunately we’re also free to think.

‘What if’ an Earthquake strikes right at this moment? Not likely? Well how likely is it that we would be stranded on this ride. Yet here we are. Remember, had the wait time actually been 45 minutes, we would have been in line when the ride broke down. Apparently we won an unlucky lottery once already that day, who’s to say how unlucky it is.

As I watched them unload everyone in the train so we can leave, I couldn’t help but notice the vibrant, carnival background that was very nice when the ride started. Now it’s psychologically even more mesmerizing. After you survive the ‘What if’s you discover how much you took for granted. ‘What if’ that incredible view we saw on take off was the last time we’d ever see it?

Finally everyone was safely unloaded from the train. One cast member (ya know, the one who won’t let us cut in line for Star Tours) gave the signal to the other Cast Member, who was the line leader, that it was ok to descend.

Final problem: Our brave little girl, who had been wonderfully calm throughout this whole ordeal, was quietly scared to walk down the stairs. The reason why was because unfortunately the floor of the stairs were see-through. As she held her mother’s hand on the way down, I was behind them coaching her to not look down. Well, we know what happens when you tell someone up high to not look down. Especially a five year old.

Our brave little girl continues to descend the stairs at the lightning speed of snot. There are people behind us who anxiously want to get downstairs but they patiently wait, seeing her take one careful step at a time. I remember overhearing them joke that what we had just went through was the scariest ride in the park.

I knew it! It wasn’t just me that got to thinking while you’re up there.

Meanwhile our little princess makes it to the bottom and we’re very proud of her for how she handled everything.

As we got to the bottom floor and was heading toward the gate to exit the land of the coaster back in to the park, I had to turn around and get one last memory of a situation that could have gone awfully wrong.

This was our thrill ride for about 15 mins.

I give credit to the cast members (minus the whole Star Tours thing, of course) and the mechanics for their professionalism.

Actually I think at one point I secretly thanked the Engineers who built the track, their supervisors for making sure they did it right, The City of Anaheim for their maintenance codes and, of course, God for watching over us.

Maybe things like this happen to remind us that life is fragile while we still have our lives to understand that lesson.

Or maybe I’m over-thinking it. It’s easy to dismiss this as paranoia, especially since we escaped without incident.

But…..’what if’ it had gone another way?

How Not To Get Scammed By An Email

In what seems like longer than nine months ago, in only my second blog post ever, I wrote a blog regarding a scam letter I received in my junk mail.  My friend said it had her cracking up so hard that she had to stop reading it halfway through and then continue after she regained her self control.

That’s because it made fun of how silly those letters often are.

But sometimes it’s no laughing matter.

I want to share with you an email that I received just this morning. Like many people I am an ‘Ebayer’ where I buy and have sold on Ebay. So needless to say, I have an account and whoever sent this knows it.

Here’s the Letter:

Subject (in the email subject line): Case ID Number: EB-503-472-569

Dear eBay user,

As part of our security, we regularly screen activity of eBay accounts. We recently contacted you after noticing an issue on your account.

We are requesting information from you for the following reason:

We recently received a report of unauthorized credit card use associated with this account. As a precaution, we have limited access to your eBay account in order to protect against future unauthorized transactions.
Case ID Number: EB-503-472-569

This is a reminder to restore your account as soon as possible.

Please download the form attached to this email and open it in a web browser. Once opened, you will be provided with steps to restore your account access. We appreciate your understanding as we work to ensure account safety.

In accordance with eBay’s User Agreement, your account access will remain limited until the issue has been resolved. Unfortunately, if access to your account remains limited for an extended period of time, it may result in further limitations or eventual account closure. We encourage you to restore your eBay account as soon as possible to help avoid this.

We thank you for your prompt attention to this matter. Please understand that this is a security measure intended to help protect you and your account. We apologize for any inconvenience.

eBay Account Review Department
eBay Email ID EB6728

The one thing that stands out to me as the scariest aspect of this letter is that it’s believable. It makes sense that when dealing with an online store you could run into a problem with a credit card payment.

The usual signs of a scam email are not present. It makes sense and is well written (the guys who send those emails are usually in other countries and wouldn’t even try to use a phrase like ‘eventual account closure’).

But if you’re an experienced Ebay user, there are two things that glare at you when you read this email that let you know it’s a scam.

First, Ebay knows who you are. Anything coming from Ebay will always either address you by your birth name or by your email address. Look at this snap shot I took after filtering my email account to all Ebay emails.

In the subject line of the top email and the third to the last email is my Ebay screen name. And six of these emails, be it from Ebay or Paypal, address me by name.

They are speaking in email above like they monitor your account and there was a report of fraud, but refer to you as Dear Ebay User? That’s like a cop knocking on your door and saying, “You in the blue shirt, we have a warrant for your arrest”.

Second, they say they are putting your account on a limited access claiming unauthorized use of a credit card. One problem; Ebay doesn’t process credit card payments for sales. This email should have come from Paypal, which is the only company Ebay allows you to use to accept payments.

Of course an Ebay/Paypal newbie might not know these things. So be very careful.

My advice:

  • If you receive an email from Paypal, Ebay, your bank, or anything else of a financial nature claiming any kind of fraud and you’re unsure if it’s legit, NEVER do anything online.
  • Call the company directly and ask. If the info you get on the phone doesn’t match the email, the person on the phone is always the winner and toss that email.
  • NEVER click on any links or download any attachments unless you’re 100% positive about the legitimacy of who it’s from and what it’s about.
  • If you need to log in to your account to see what’s going on before you call, open up another browser or another window in the same browser, manually type in the web address (i.e. Paypal.com) and log in from there. If you ever get to a website from a third party link, they could gain access to what you put in, such as your password and username.

Better safe than sorry

A Letter To Laker Fans

Dear Laker Fans:

Let’s make a few things clear.

First off, the management and ownership of the Los Angeles Lakers will never pay you a dime for being a fan of our team. We thank you, but that’s it.

Furthermore we will never comp you tickets, parking, a beer or even a bag of peanuts based on your loyalty level to us. This is not a club membership to a casino. There are no fan rewards. We thank you, but that’s it.

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