Episode 3- All Roads Lead to Rogue One

In the latest podcast, I review the Star Wars spinoff, Rogue One.

 

An Ode to My Childhood

            At some point in their lives whenever one reaches adulthood, one does have a tendency to be a little nostalgic for their childhoods. They tend to reminisce about all the good times they had; of all the things they did as kids; of all the toys they had; movies they saw and so on. Well today I am going to be that person as I am feeling a bit nostalgic. Today we’re going to talk about my childhood growing up in the 80’s and 90’s in Red Hook, New York, specifically some things I did and some things that were around when I was growing up. And even though it hasn’t really shaped who I am today it still makes for a really good essay.
           I grew up during the 80’s, which was the best time for movies, TV shows and music. There was no Internet; computers were not as everywhere as they are now and even if they were, they were too expensive; camcorders were a lot heavier and were VHS-based instead of digital and more compact like they are now; there were no reality shows polluting the airwaves; and video game systems were actually on the rise and not as sophisticated as your garden-variety PlayStation 3’s and Xbox 360’s, which meant you still had to go to the arcade to play video games. So due to the lack of the technological advances that we now have (meaning your iPhones and your Internets,) kids normally played outside and there were a lot of outdoor activities to do and places to go.
            Growing up in Red Hook, the one place where people went during the summer and still do is the Dutchess County Fair in Rhinebeck. It was a real staple of my childhood and I went there every year until I moved up to Central New York in 2002. It’s one of the few things I miss about living downstate. Hopefully someday I’ll be able to go back, although it might be a little more expensive now than it was when I was last down there. The last county fair I went to was back in 2005 and it was the Herkimer County Fair and it does not even hold a candle to the Dutchess County Fair.
            Another place I went to as a kid was the Catskill Game Farm. I’m pretty sure a lot of people downstate remembers that. I remember going there on field trips and sometimes with my family. I had been living in Central New York for several years when the Game Farm closed down in 2006. However, during its heyday, it was fun to see all the exotic animals without having to go to a faraway zoo like the Bronx Zoo, which I also went to when I was a kid. I have not been to the Utica Zoo yet, but it is on my to-do list. Then there was the Old Rhinebeck Aerodrome which was a nod to airplanes that fought in World War I. They had shows every weekend during the summer where people flew replicas of planes to reenact World War I aerial battles. I even got to participate in one of the show one time where I got to shoot down the “Black Baron” which was a nod to the Red Baron and I’m not talking about Snoopy here. I’m talking about the real deal. I wouldn’t mind seeing a movie about him someday.
            Let’s see where else did I go as a kid?  I also went to the Jersey Shore a couple times as a kid. This was long before it was associated with Snooki, The Situation, and Pauly D. In fact, I didn’t even go to Seaside Heights. I actually went to Wildwood and Cape May for the summer. Went swimming in the ocean, went out on the boardwalk. I also went up to the Thousand Islands a couple of times as well. It was also during my childhood that I traveled as far west as Missouri for a rabbit show. Yeah we raised rabbits when I was a kid. For class trips in school, one summer we went camping for the weekend as well as going on a class trip to the Museum of Natural History in New York City in fifth grade and one fond memory I had while being on the bus is having a whole bus full of fifth graders ogling the hot city chicks on their way to work.
            Then when we got into junior high, specifically in eighth grade, we went on a class trip to Washington, D.C. in the spring of 1993. We didn’t go in the White House or anything (this was during the Clinton era) but among other things we went to Ford’s Theater, where Abraham Lincoln was shot and went inside the house where he died. I specifically remember the tour guide at Ford’s Theater when we got to the house. I remember him saying “The bed! The pillow!” when he was pointing out the bed where Lincoln died and the pillow that still had his blood stains on it. Then, as we were leaving, he was saying “Remember, New York is number 1!” To which I replied sarcastically, “Yeah and don’t you forget it.”
            We also went to the Smithsonian, Union Station, Mount Vernon (George Washington’s home), and a variety of other places too. All in all, those were fun trips that I went on. Well at least until I went to Puerto Rico for a class trip but that’s for another time.
             I discovered my creative side very early on like when I first started going to school. That was where I first started getting into writing. Back then I couldn’t decide whether I wanted to be a writer or an actor. If people could only see me now, especially since I am doing both on the Internet right now. In fifth grade I had done a series of filmstrips where I did public presentations to my classes. And look at me now, doing videos that are seen all over the web and writing stories that I published on three websites. So to this day my creative imagination is still in top form.
             Now let’s move on to some other childhood memories like what I grew up with like favorite TV shows, movies, toys I played with and other stuff that I remember. Of course some of these are items that kids today probably will never grow up with. Let’s start with TV shows. I watched cartoons just like everyone else. We had Saturday morning cartoons and we even had cartoons after school. Good times. It was always a fun time in a kid’s life back then. Now the only cartoons we see on Saturday mornings are crappy educational cartoons on NBC or anime stuff on the CW. Like everyone else, I watched shows like He-Man, Transformers, Garfield, Ghostbusters, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and basically any cartoon on Nickelodeon that was on during the 80’s.
            I also watched She-Ra, which actually got me lusting after girls. I’m sure at some point in some boy’s lives they find themselves fantasizing about a female cartoon character. After all, it’s nothing to be ashamed of. I always got turned on whenever Princess Adora transformed into She-Ra. Even though some people would still say April O’Neil of Ninja Turtles fame is still the hottest and I would agree she is. But I just put She-Ra (or more specifically Adora) a lot higher.
             But I didn’t limit my TV watching to cartoons. I watched some TV shows in the prime-time hour as well and back then, TV shows weren’t as gratuitous with the sex and violence as they are now, not that it’s necessarily a bad thing. But there weren’t any reality shows polluting the airwaves like there is now. Anyway, as far as grown-up shows go, I watched shows like The Dukes of Hazzard, Knight Rider, ALF, the 60’s Batman TV series, Star Trek(both the original and Star Trek: The Next Generation), The A-Team, T.J. Hooker (partly because being a Trekkie obligated me to watch William Shatner’s cop show,) the original Battlestar Galactica (the cheesy one where Starbuck was a man and not a hot chick), and so many more to name that I would be here all day mentioned and I don’t really want to do that.
             I am to this day a huge fan of 80’s music and when I was growing up, 80’s music was king. The radio stations I listened to at that time were WBPM- 94.3 FM in Kingston (it has long since abandoned the Top 40 format) and WSPK 104.7 FM in Poughkeepsie also known as K-104 which still plays Top 40 hits. Some of my favorites from that era were Madonna, Whitney Houston, Bon Jovi, Michael Jackson and so many others that I can’t really think of them right off the bat. In later years, I found a new appreciation for 80’s music and prefer that to a lot of the music that is out today.
             As far as movies go, I’ve quite a bit of the biggest movies to come out of the 80’s. I saw my first movie when I was 2 years old and that was in the summer of 1980. Also like I said before, that movie was The Empire Strikes Back. Usually the theater of choice for me when I was growing up was the Lyceum Theater in Red Hook.
            When I first saw E.T. – The Extra-Terrestrial there in 1982, it was a one-movie theater. It got an extension in the mid-80’s so they can show two movies there. I also went to the Hudson Valley Mall (at the time it was a six-movie theater but has since evolved into a multiplex) even though it was a bit expensive and there were also drive-ins where you can go during the summer. I saw The Empire Strikes Back at the Sunset Drive-In in Hudson and I went to see several more movies there afterwards, including Star Trek III: The Search for Spock and the original Back to the Future before it closed down in the late 80’s. The other drive-in I went to was the Hyde Park Drive-In and the first movie I saw there was Return of the Jedi and a few weeks after that I also saw Superman III there as well as the original Gremlins movie. The last time I was there was back in 1998 sometime after I graduated from high school and I saw the asteroid movie Deep Impactthere. To this day, the Hyde Park Drive-In is one of the few remaining drive-in theaters still in operation.
              But anyway, back to the Lyceum. The original theater continued to be in operation until 1991 when it became a multiplex that showed six movies (It now shows eight movies and includes 3D movies. The last movie I saw in the original theater was Terminator 2: Judgment Day before it closed down and while the main theater became an antique store, the extra theater they had reopened as the Lyceum Annex some time afterward. But anyway, even then going to the movies was fun and exciting.
              And during my childhood, we were starting to come into the video age. If you’re as old as I am, you’ll definitely remember video discs. The video disc back in those days was a prototype that would become what DVD’s are in today’s world and the original video disc was basically the size of a record album that you have to play one side and then flip it over to watch a movie. The video disc was basically how I first saw the original Star Wars and Raiders of the Lost Ark. Then later we upgraded to video tape and VCRs. My family never owned a video camcorder even though they were popular as well so I never got to make videos growing up. So you won’t see any embarrassing videos of me growing up on the Internet anytime soon.

    Okay, what other childhood memories are there? One memory recently came to me while I was watching a show on the web called 80’s Dan where in one episode he buried a McDLT in a time capsule. For those of you who don’t know what that is, McDonald’s put out a sandwich that came in a Styrofoam container with two sides. One side had the top of the bun including the lettuce, tomato and cheese while the other side had the burger and the bottom part of the bun, hence the tagline: “The hot stays hot while the cool stays cool.” I used to get the McDLT pretty much all the time during its heyday. McDonald’s should really consider bringing the McDLT back.

              And I could go on forever as far as talking about my childhood, but I probably should call it a day. I’m not doing a movie here (well not yet anyway.) But if you grew up in the 80’s and 90’s and remember a lot of the stuff I mentioned here today, then your childhood was awesome. They say that as you get older and life gets harder, you start appreciating your childhood a bit more, but at the end of the day, you have to move forward. But there is nothing wrong with a little nostalgia every now and then.

 

Episode 5- Welcome to 2015

A podcast version of an old video from January 2015 about how 2014 went for me, a new segment where I talk about the Stephen King novel Revival, my thoughts on the Star Wars: Episode 7 teaser trailer, what Back to the Future Part 2 got right and wrong about 2015, an anti-smoking rant, and a couple of reshot videos including a video on how to survive on YouTube and more.

Q & A: Let’s Go Out To the Movies

I figured for this week’s Q & A segment, I would have a theme this week. And the theme is movies. We watch movies every day (TV, DVD, cable, satellite, theaters, Internet, etc.) and we love ’em, despite the fact that there are a few that actually suck. But either way, you can’t deny that they’re an escape from the hell that is real life. So without further ado, let’s begin with the Formspring questions first:

Q: What do you think is the worst movie sequel ever made?

A: Apart from anything having to do with Twilight, there are at least a few of them that I have seen that fit the bill to me: Karate Kid 3 (which I felt was unnecessary), Rocky V (too depressing to be a Rocky movie), Star Wars: Episode I- The Phantom Menace (even though there were some good moments), Star Trek: Insurrection (’nuff said there), Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (the worst Indiana Jones film ever and too gruesome especially for a movie aimed at kids), and Joel Schumacher’s Batman and Robin (A BAT CREDIT CARD?!)

Q: If you have a secret that you just can’t keep, who do you tell it to?

A: Someone I can actually trust.

Q: What would be your crazy “I just won the lottery” purchase?

A: Too many things to name. Guess I’m gonna have to wait a while longer.

Q: As a kid did you ever get nightmares from seeing a movie you were way too young for?

A: Yes.

Q: What’d you think of the movie “Inception”?

A: I thought it was awesome. Chris Nolan is the man.

Q: Do you wake up early?

A: Sometimes.

Q: Fashion you hate?

A: Anything that looks too dorky.

Q: Ice cream – cone, cup or milkshake?

A: All of the above.

Q: Would you rather have a dragon, a space ship, or a time machine?

A: Either a spaceship or a time machine, but mainly a time machine.

Q: Coffee or Tea?

A: Coffee.

Q: Pen or pencil?

A: 99 percent of the time I use a pen. I don’t use pencils that much except for Scantron tests at school.

Q: Top 10 movies of all time?

A: I assume by this Rotten Tomatoes.com means my top 10 favorite movies of all time. But anyway, my top 10 favorite movies of all time are as follows:

1. Titanic
2. Pulp Fiction
3. Taxi Driver
4. Rocky
5. Terminator 2: Judgment Day
6. The Dark Knight
7. Star Wars: A New Hope (the original Star Wars)
8. Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back
9. The Shawshank Redemption
10. The Avengers

…with an honorable mention going to “Raiders of the Lost Ark,” probably the greatest action-adventure movie of all time. Actually I’m thinking about doing a Top 20 video on my favorite movies of all time and this question pretty much set that in motion.

Q: Do you like Batman?

A: Hell, yeah! Can’t wait for Dark Knight Rises. Bane looks really awesome in that movie and since it’s Chris Nolan directing there’s no chance that Bane will be screwed up (unlike what Joel Schumacher did to him in “Batman and Robin” for that matter.) And as I think I mentioned before in previous videos, Batman is one of my all-time favorite comic book heroes (second only to Spider-Man.)

Q: Do you guys think there should be a “Legend of Zelda” movie?

A: As long as they don’t screw it up like they did the Mario Bros. movie. But then again, I’m not really a Zelda fan. Never played it. I was more of a Mario fan and as far as them making the Zelda movie goes, I really don’t care either way. If it looks good, I’ll see it but otherwise, I really don’t care.

Q: What’s the most you’ve ever paid for a movie ticket?

A: $8.50 and I think that was at the Marquee Cinema in New Hartford. Now it’s up to like 10 bucks and an extra 4 bucks to see a 3D movie there.

Q: What is the best fictional vacation spot? Narnia, Middle-Earth, Pern, Oz, etc…

A: I heard Pandora is nice this time of year.

Q: How tall are you? Have you ever wished to be a different height?

A: 5’11” and no, I don’t wish to be a different height.

Q: Would you be a good babysitter?

A: No.

Q: How many times have you seen your favorite movie?

A: Numerous times.

Q: Are you addicted to Skyrim?

A: No. I don’t play Skyrim. I can’t really afford to play video games.

Q: Are you sarcastic often?

A: Me? Sarcastic? Nooooooo… well, actually yes.

Q: Front, middle or back of the movie theater?

A: When I was a kid, I usually sat in the front, but as an adult, I usually sit in the back.

Q: What’s the best holiday movie?

A: That’s a no-brainer. A Christmas Story, of course, followed by Christmas Vacation and It’s a Wonderful Life.

Q: Favorite Spider-Man villain?

A: Venom all the way!

Q: What’s the funniest thing you’ve seen online recently?

A: The Nostalgia Critic. I started watching him earlier this year and I’ve been hooked ever since.

Q: Funny or Die.com wanted me to check out 12 comedies that they thought were made to sound like intense dramas. Which one looks the most serious?

A: I would have to go with “Up” on this one. That was really good.

Q: Would you rather take a picture or have your picture taken?

A: Doesn’t matter. If I didn’t enjoy taking pictures, I wouldn’t be doing this whole Internet gig. Lol

Q: What was the last film you saw that inspired you or moved you?

A: Rocky.

Q: What’s your favorite way to work out? In the gym, playing a team sport, taking a class or some other way?

A: In the gym.

Q: Are you shy?

A: I can be.

Q: Oday ouyay eakspay igpay atinlay?

A: Say what?

Q: Love or Sex?

A: If I can have both then I would say both, but if I had to choose only one I would have to go with sex.

Q: Can you flare your nostrils?

A: (Flares nostrils) Yeah. Does that answer your question?

Q: Which are scarier: bats or rats?

A: Neither one really although bats can be annoying when they buzz over your head all the time.

Q: Would you prefer to be a movie star or musician?

A: Movie star. I can’t sing to save my life.

Q: Is it hard for you to admit when you’re wrong?

A: Sometimes.

Q: Who knows you best?

A: Not many people.

Q: Who would you say is the sexiest women alive?

A: Finally! Someone asked the magic question! In fact I’ll do better than give out one answer. I’ll give you a top 10 list:

1. Sofia Vergara
2. Jennifer Aniston
3. Jennifer Love Hewitt
4. Scarlett Johansson
5. Katy Perry
6. Natalie Portman
7. Jessica Biel
8. Mila Kunis
9. Jennifer Lawrence (the chick from “The Hunger Games”)
10. Jennifer Garner

Honorable mention goes to Kelly Clarkson. And the reason I gave out a top 10 list for this answer is for a question like this, one answer just simply isn’t enough.

Q: What do you think of Emma Watson?

A: For those of you who don’t know who Emma Watson is, she was Hermione in the Harry Potter movies. I think she’s a good actress and she’s also pretty hot. I can’t wait to see what she does in the future. In fact, I read an article recently on her latest movie called The Bling Ring. And it’s a true story based on the whole Hollywood robbery crime spree that affected many Hollywood celebrities, most notably Paris Hilton and Lindsay Lohan. Not that Paris and Lindsay are saints, mind you. But I saw Emma in her costume for the movie and oh, my god. She is so hot. Them Potter kids are growing up so fast.

Q: What do you think of Nicki Minaj?

A: Less said about her, the better.

Now let’s move on to the Meetme.com questions:

Q: Have you ever have a hard time meeting someone in your town?

A: Yeah.

Q: How many people does someone have to sleep with before you consider them promiscuous?

A: I don’t think that there’s any real set number. It all boils down to behavior.

Q: Do you believe in karma?

A: Yes.

Q: If you had to give up sex or meat for a year which would you choose?

A: I wouldn’t give up either one.

Q: How many movies do you think you’ve seen in your lifetime?

A: Quite a bit. Not sure about how many I actually saw in theaters. I lost track after 2003.

Q: How do you feel about dating when there is an age difference?

A: Depends on what the age difference is, though I wouldn’t have any problem dating someone older than me unless they’re either old enough to be my grandmother or younger than 18 because they’re not worth going to jail for.

Q: If someone was hitting on you and you weren’t attracted to them, how would you handle the situation?
A: Just say the magic phrases: “Not interested” or “You’re not my type” and walk away.

Remember, if you want to ask me questions and don’t have Formspring, you can ask your questions in the comment section below the video or here on the blog. Remember, no offensive questions or comments will be accepted.