All posts by Mikeylito

I'm a New York-bred transplanted Californian who is now stuck on Long Island.

10 Cloverfield Lane (2016)

JJ Abrams seems to be the only producer to get me in an actual movie theater. He first accomplished that with Star Trek, then Super 8.

Now comes 10 Cloverfield Lane, the first official blood relative to 2008’s Cloverfield. (Mr. Abrams and others may not agree, but I actually feel Super 8 is worthy of that title.)

Now,  you’d have to be brain-dead to hear Mr. Abrams talk about this film and expect a direct sequel to the eponymous 2008 film. Yet, even I was surprised at the numerous twists and turns this latest entry takes.

Mary-Elizabeth Winstead portrays Michelle, a woman who has decided to end her relationship with her unseen boyfriend, Ben. She’s driving through rural Louisiana talking to him on her cell phone when she’s forced off the road.

When she awakens, she has an IV in one arm and is handcuffed to a bed by one leg. Enter Howard (John Goodman) who explains, in chilling fashion, that no one will be looking for her.

I won’t be the one to give away the various secrets of this film. I suppose that will happen faster than you can spell Wikipedia. I will say that you’ll be trying to figure out what the heck is going on as much as Michelle is.

Honorable mention to John Gallagher, Jr. who portrays Emmett, the third member of Howard’s impromptu family.

Most of the action takes place in Howard’s bunker and it can be quite claustrophobic at times. Yet, a pivotal event occurs and all hell breaks loose.

10 Cloverfield Lane will keep most guessing right to the very end. Director Dan Trachtenberg is to be commended for constructing a film that mostly keeps you on the edge of your seat. The fact that most reviews won’t reveal the secrets of the film should tell you everything you need to know.

Highly recommended!

Out of 5 Stars: ⭐⭐⭐⭐+1/2⭐

Rated PG-13 for thematic material including frightening sequences of threat with some violence, and brief language.

Trailer:

Originally published on 12 March 2016 20:44 on View from the Seats

Hello, world.

Hello.

This is easily the fourth iteration of this website and it probably won’t be the last.  It is a site in the state of flux (actually, currently, New York). It will likely transition again right before our eyes.

I have some clue what I want to accomplish, but like the site, my life is in the state of flux.  So, how that goes is somewhat how the site will go.

The intent is to be part journal, part opinion, part photography, part podcast, part vlog.  In a word: discovery.  Perhaps for you, but mostly for me.

In these early days, it’s going to be a bit messy. As time progresses, presumably it’ll all get sorted out.  I have historical blog entries scattered about the Internet and they may or may not make it into this site eventually.

I invite you to come along for The Journey.

Ciao for now.

Playing Well With Others

Europeans (and Latin Americans) have hooliganism.
Americans (as in citizens of the USA) have xenophobia.
More about this later.

In sports, as in “Real Life,” it’s becoming readily apparent that Americans don’t play well with others. In a series of international sporting events this year, it seems that we, citizens of the USA, tend to forget that we are also citizens of the world as well. Our story begins with the 2006 Winter Olympics in Turin (or, if you prefer, Torino), Italy. The people we advanced as being our best hopes fell flat on their collective faces. These are the games that featured Jeremy Bloom, the 2005 World Cup freestyle skiing champion finishing sixth, the failure of America’s sweetheart Michelle Kwan to appear and Sasha Cohen choking to silver in figure skating, the feuding of Shani Davis and Chad Hedrick in speed skating and the performances of Bode Miller. You remember Bode, don’t you? He’s the one who said when his Olympic competition was completed:

The expectations were other people’s. … I’m comfortable with what I’ve accomplished, including at the Olympics … I wanted to have fun here, to enjoy the Olympic experience, not be holed up in a closet and not ever leave your room. I got to party and socialize at an Olympic level … I just did it my way. I’m not a martyr, and I’m not a do-gooder. I just want to go out and rock. And man, I rocked here.1

In other words, it’s not whether you win or lose, it’s how you play the game.

Fast forward to the inaugural World Baseball Classic. USA Baseball assembled a squad ostensibly equivalent to the first “Dream Team” assembled by USA Basketball. The roster included such luminaries as Roger Clemens, Derek Jeter, Ken Griffey, Jr., Johnny Damon, Chipper Jones, Derrick Lee, and Alex Rodriguez. There was even controversy. Rodriguez was roundly criticized for waffling between playing for Team USA versus playing for the team representing the Dominican Republic.

So what happens? Team USA finishes the Classic with a record of 3-3, out of contention. In the first round, Team USA and American fans learned a lesson about international play. After the second game of the tournament, which Team USA lost to Team Canada 8-6, the Americans learned that they could be eliminated because of the rules of the tournament, which Major League Baseball and its players helped to draw up. In a three-way tie with Mexico and Canada with a record of 2-1, Team USA could be eliminated because they allowed too many runs.

Told the scenario, Mark Teixeria eyes widened, he turned, took a gulp of water and said, Ah, I’m not really sure how that works.2

Hmmm…

Now comes, arguably, the biggest event in World sport: the FIFA World Cup. In Korea and Japan four years ago, Team USA surprised all by advancing to the quarterfinals. In the ensuing time, the team re-qualified for the 2006 tournament, playing a variety of international opponents and sending its players to a variety of professional leagues in Europe and the United States. Team USA was so impressive that it entered the 2006 matches with a number five ranking.

So what happens? Team USA loses the first game of the opening round to the Czech Republic 3-0. Of course, panic reigns supreme. Manager Bruce Arena hired, after the 1998 debacle in France, to bring unity and not dissension to Team USA promptly fingers midfielders Landon Donovan and DaMarcus Beasley for not being aggressive enough in the match versus the Czechs.

Against the Czechs, Arena said only three of his starters had good games. “I think our best players on the night were certainly Claudio (Reyna), I think Gooch (Oguchi Onyewu) had a pretty solid game. I thought Bobby Convey at least had the courage to attack. Everybody else, the performances were not good.” … As for the team’s best young players, Donovan and Beasley, Arena said, “Landon showed no aggressiveness tonight. … We got nothing out of Beasley.”3

Bodes well for Italy, doesn’t it?

Once the World Cup is over, we have the FIBA World Championships in Sapporo, Japan to look forward to. Once again, the American powers-that-be have assembled a world-class squad (Dwayne Wade, Lebron James, Carmelo Anthony, Kobe Bryant, among others) and a world-class coach (Mike Krzyzewski) to take on Puerto Rico, China, Slovenia, Italy and Senegal in round-robin play beginning on 19 August. I shudder to think if this will work better than our last appearances in the 2002 World Championships in Indianapolis, when we finished sixth in a field of 16, or the 2004 Olympics when we finished with a bronze medal.

xenophobia: n. An intense, abnormal, or illogical fear of that which is foreign, especially of strangers or foreign peoples.

I want to conclude with a story segment I read on the Washington Post Online. Camille Powell, the Post’s soccer writer, participated in a chat prior to the USA/Czech Republic match last Monday. Here is a transcript of one of the exchanges.

Normal, Ill.: Reception of the US team has been hostile in recent tournaments-e.g. the US national anthem was booed all the way through [during] the 2003 Confederations Cup; in a qualification match with Mexico fans were chanting ‘Osama, Osama’. What sort of reception would you expect during today’s match and future matches, based on your experiences so far? What are Germans doing to prevent or disencourage such activity?

Camille Powell: I don’t expect the reaction to the US team to be overly or unusually negative today. However, if they happen to play Mexico…. The American fans in town seemed to be very well-received by the Czechs, German, British, etc. In fact, the only time I heard any boos today was when a man walked through the crowd carrying a Mexico flag. The Americans booed and shouted, “Go home!”4

As Linda Ellerbee is wont to say… And so it goes…

Ciao for now!
Mike


References

Coming Soon: The Avian Flu

From the government that gave us duct tape and filter masks comes another safety device: yardsticks.

Avian flu, more technically known as H5N1, is coming. This virus, first encountered in Vietnam and Thailand in 2004, is spreading across the globe and headed for the Americas. We’ve been told that if this virus mutates from one which affects birds to one which affects humans, it will create a world-wide pandemic.

pandemic: An epidemic over a wide geographical area
and affecting a large portion of the population

Scientists tell us that since the deadly virus for all intents and purposes doesn’t exist (despite the deaths of 113 humans), they cannot develop a vaccine to protect us from it. Emergency managers, the people who brought us the response to Hurricane Katrina, tell us that even if scientists had a vaccine, there isn’t enough manufacturing capacity in the United States to make enough vaccine to protect this country’s citizens, let alone the rest of the world’s population which might also need it.

All of which brings us to a news item I heard this morning on cable news. The United States government has recommended to employers that should avian flu indeed reach our shores that they should keep workers at least three feet apart during their workday to reduce the possibility of transmission from human to human.

I’m headed out, right now, to Ace Hardware to buy me a yardstick!

I hesitate to point out that, unlike those working in Washington, DC, many of us don’t work in offices. Also, since we don’t really know anything about the virus, there is a possibility that it could be transmitted by touch.

I think I’ll pick up some gloves and toilet shields, too.
And, if any dates come over, bring your own toothbrush!

Perhaps the virus could possibly travel airborne beyond three feet.
(Filter masks, again!)

All of this to avoid, once again, telling the American people the truth. In this instance, that translates to, “sorry, citizens. We really don’t know what to do.”

Well, at least in these times where all things retro are embraced, it will bring back a time-honored line from the 70’s…

Hey, man! You’re invading my space!!

 

Ciao for now!
Mike

On The Road To Insanity

Does anybody even bother to watch the news anymore? I’m beginning to wonder if it’s worth it. After all, how many more murders, rapes, fires, and other sundry natural and unnatural disasters can we watch. Which brings me to the point of this piece.

I never thought you’d catch me saying this, but I’m beginning to side with those who think the government is out of control. It’s unresponsive to the people it’s intended to serve. That worries me, because if we all opt out of the program, what’s going to replace it. We have some clues.

Into the vacuum have stepped the Republicans, whose mission it seems is to save us from ourselves and those ne’er do wells, the Democrats. On the Democrats, I’m tending to agree but I’m also beginning to wonder if what we’re replacing them with is any better. You know the old bromide — that the cure is no better than the disease.

Consider that after the sound and fury of the Contract With America that nothing has really escaped the Capitol Beltway which would effect let alone benefit our lives save the abolition of the 55-mile an hour speed limit.  Is that to be the legacy of our times?  Are we better served by the endless Whitewater investigation?  Are we better served by the focus on the fiasco of the White House travel office?  What’s the point of belabouring the notion that Vince Foster was murdered by Hillary Clinton and her cronies?  Does anybody really believe that?  And, lastly, what’s the point of shutting down the government and paying its workers to do nothing, especially after nearly driving those same workers into default and depression?  Who’s minding the store?

Which, lastly, brings me to the real point of this commentary. The people who should be minding the store is us. Last I looked, the Constitution, which we claim to hold dear, began “We, the people”. That doesn’t mean the politicians. That doesn’t mean the news media. That means us, you and me. Are we really more concerned about satellite dishes, what’s on television, and going online than we are about that which affects our daily lives?

It’s popular for my generation to lambast the generations that follow about apathy and about Beavis and Butthead, among other things. However, maybe that says more about us than it says about them. After all, we raised them. We’re the ones who taught them about mindless consumption while giving lip service to taking care of our fellow man.

At work, like many people, I say:
“Don’t bring me problems!  Bring me solutions!”

Well, I’m sorry.  
No solutions today.

Ciao for now!
Mike