Wednesday, April 25, 2012

My Netflix Movie Review: Moneyball

"This is really a movie about business. None of the individual players have major roles. The drama all happens in the mind of a general manager and his numbers guy. They bet against tradition and in favor of numerical analysis. That goes against a century of baseball history, although for all of those years, fans have thumbed through their baseball almanacs and issued mind-numbing statistical theories on talk shows. What the numbers crunchers demonstrated is that a computer can assemble a team better than human instinct." ~Robert Ebert
General Movie Info:
Genre:  Sport, Drama, Biography
Plot:  The Oakland A's attempt to put together a low budget team that will compete with major league baseball power houses like the New York Yankees, Boston Red Sox, and the Philadelphia Phillies.
Rated:  PG-13

My Thoughts:  
The biggest question I had going into the movie was if story itself was worth telling.  I watch baseball and I don't remember the the A's winning the World Series.  So what is the point?  This movie, while being a story about a baseball team, is more of a story about taking chances to get what you want.  This movie got a lot of attention due to its star power.  Staring in this film, Brad Pitt, Jonah Hill, and Philip Seymour Hoffman all did a great job worthy of the praise they received.   Overall, the movie is good and I recommend watching it.

Check out the official trailer:

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Taking a Stand at Work

Sometimes it feels like the powers that be at work are trying to keep you down.  Not in a motivational sense, but in the stay seated and do your work sense.  For the past month, I've been fighting those powers and standing the whole time at work.  I converted my cube from a normal 'grow old and retire cube' to a high action power standing cube!     
 "Writing and travel broaden your ass if not your mind and like to write standing up." ~Ernest Hemingway
The American Cancer Society found that women who sat more than six hours a day were 37 percent more likely to die an early death then women who sat for less than three hours a day and men were 18 percent more likely.  To make it worse, other studies have have suggested that the time you spend exercising does not negate the time time you spend sitting and being lazy when it comes to heart-disease.  Statistics have shown that the more hours a day you spend sitting increases your chances of living sickly or dying young.  Exercise, even daily, don't allow you to escape this truth.
"Regularly exercising is not the same as being active.  A person may hit the gym every day, but if he's sitting a good deal of the rest of the time, he's probally not leading an overall active life." ~Peter Katzmarzyk, Ph.D

Standing cubes, while not a new idea, have been growing in popularity over the past few years.  I first saw a standing cube last year while touring the Treasury Building in DC and the Wall Street Journal did an article last year refering to them as "Silicon Valley's newest status symbol" (Standing Desks Are on the Rise).   Some notable standing workers include:  Leonardo da Vinci, Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, Winston Chirchill, Earnest Hemingway and Donald Rumsfield.  Currently in my office, myself and about five others have transitioned to the standing cube.

"Prolonged sitting is a risk factor for all-cause mortality, independent of physical activity.  Public health programs should focus on reducing sitting time in addition to increasing physical activity levels."  ~Archives of Internal Medicine
So what's it like standing all day?  Don't your legs start to bother you?  Standing all day is certainly different than sitting all day.  There isn't that "let me sit down and get to work" feeling when you arrive because... well... you don't sit down.  Standing locked into one place can get uncomfortable after just a little while, so I find myself swaying and rocking back and forth a lot.  I admit, if others could see my movements through out the day they would probally think I'm crazy crazy!
"Excessive sitting is a lethal activity." ~Dr. James Levine, Mayo Clinic
With one month in the books I don't plan on stopping this experiment anytime soon.  If you are looking for a way to get more active and shake-up your at work experience at the same time - I highly recommend giving the standing cube a try.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Book Review: The Call of the Wild

"THE CALL OF THE WILD is a great work of literature; there can be no doubt. Written in a style that is at once muscular and poetic, it is both an adventure story and a meditation on civilization versus savagery, with savagery clearly having more appeal to the author. As Buck gradually reverts to the instincts and behaviors of his wolf ancestors, he becomes both more alive and more truly himself. This, and its implications for human beings, gives young readers plenty to think and talk about, which explains why this book continues to be a favorite for discussion groups and classrooms.

There's a brutality here that not all children will find to their taste, and modern American children are more likely to want to discuss the way Buck is treated than the way he acts. The sensibilities that drove the author and his original audience have changed dramatically since the time this book was written, and animal rights and treatment are a hot topic with children these days. "The law of club and fang" is a long way from the experience of most modern young readers, who may not agree with author Jack London's view of the whole situation. This, of course, can also prompt interesting discussions, though they may be different from what the author was thinking of when he wrote it." ~Common Sense Media

General Book Info:
Author:  Jack London
Plot:  Buck, a large domesticated family dog, is kidnapped and forced to work hard labor during the gold rush of the late 1800s.
Book Type:  Fiction
Genre:  Animals

My Thoughts:
Since this book is a classic, I had obviously heard of the book but had no idea what the book was about prior to reading the story.  As the story began and progressed I was fairly certain I knew how the story was going to go - I was wrong.  The read was fairly simple and straight forward and the author kept me entertained as I followed Buck's journey of personal growth and development.  I would definitely recommend this book.
"His eyes turned blood-shot, and he was metamorphosed into a raging fiend.  So changed was he that the Judge himself would not have recognized him." ~Call of the Wild

Netflix Movie Review: Friends with Benefits

"Sweet, funny, romantic, and not nearly as post-modern as it pretends to be, Friends With Benefits has everything you'd expect from an R-rated romantic comedy in the 21st Century -- but not any more than that. Mila Kunis and Justin Timberlake are smoothly convincing as a couple who initially resist their deep-seated attraction to one another, cracking a steady stream of jokes and looking very enticing in their underwear. The supporting cast features the likes of Patricia Clarkson and Richard Jenkins, who always brighten up a movie. And director Will Gluck (Easy A) keeps the action popping until the more serious consequences kick in."  ~ Peter Martin,

General Movie Info:
Genre:  Comedy, Romance
Plot:  Two friends try to add casual sex to their friendship.
Rated:  R

My Thoughts:
If you are expecting a great top-notch movie you will be disappointed.  Don't get me wrong, the movie was good and keep me entertained but this type of "love" story has been told many times before and this version didn't add anything new.  But if you are looking for a light-hearted romantic comedy this movie will keep you entertained with occasional laughs.  (I did find Timberlake's running joke about landing airplanes funny.)    

Check out the official trailer:

Monday, April 2, 2012

My Netflix Movie Review: Stay Cool

“That sucked,' says Henry McCarthy (Mark Polish) about twenty minutes into Stay Cool, which is a funny coincidence, because I said the same thing when the movie ended an hour and a half later. This is the sixth film from the Polish brothers (Mark wrote and stars, Michael directs), whose earlier films include the odd and fascinating Twin Falls Idaho and the lovely Astronaut Farmer, so its poor quality is all the more surprising. According to imdb, it was shot back-to-back with their currently-unreleased fifth film, Manure; I’m not sure if they were just worn out from finishing another picture, but however you slice it, I think they gave that title to the wrong movie." ~ Jason Bailey, Fourth Row Center

General Movie Info:
Genre:  Comedy, Drama, Romance
Plot:  A successful author returns to his hometown to deliver the commencement speech at his old high school and struggles to let go of the past.
Rated:  PG-13

My Thoughts:
The basic storyline of a person confronting his past in light of current success is nothing new.  In fact, it has been done successfully several times before but this version may be the worst adaptation I've seen.  The movie was filled with stars such as: Winona Ryder, Sean Astin, Mark Polish, Hilary Duff, Jon Cryer, Chevy Chase, Michael Gross, etc. so the expectation was there that the movie would be at least entertaining.  However, it fell fall short of entertaining.  The movie plot did have potential and the star power associated with the film could have been great but for whatever reason it just didn't happen.  Do yourself a favor and skip this movie.  I'm sure you can find yourself a better way to waste an hour and a half.

Check out the official trailer: