Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Green Anole

One of my favorite animals that lives in North Carolina is the green anole. I didn't realize until today that the anole is the only species of lizard native to North Carolina. We have one that lives on our back porch. Our hummingbird feeder has a plastic moat we fill with water to keep ants out of the feeder and the anole has been using it as his personal water dish, which is fine because I think he is also eating any ants who show an interest in the feeder. We haven't named him yet but we have tossed a few names around. I really enjoy watching him scamper around the deck, doing his territorial-claiming push ups and inflating his red dewlap, the skin beneath his throat.

Here are a couple of pictures of our new friend.
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Thursday, May 14, 2015

Movies in 3D

Because Melanie gets motion sickness from 3D movies until this weekend I had not seen a movie using the new 3D technology. Friday I received a text from a friend, he was organizing a fellas night out and he wanted to go see a movie. He specifically wanted to see the new Avengers movie. Since I had already seen the movie I proposed seeing the 3D version. The fellas agreed. At first I was distracted by the what I was seeing in 3D. Mostly it was me thinking, "Oh, that looks cool." After a few minutes that wore off and I was watching a movie again. Occasionally something would happen and the 3D would enrich what I was seeing on the screen. Mostly, as we agreed during our post movie powwow, that the 3D worked best when it gave a shot a sense of depth. The best example of that was early in the movie when Iron Man was flying high above the castle the Avengers were attacking. The 3D effect successfully portrayed that Iron Man was several hundred feet above the castle. It was subtle and subtle is often better than in your face.

I did notice two drawbacks to the 3D effect. During some of the more hectic battle scenes it was difficult to follow the action. To be fair, in this new Avengers movie even with the normal view it can be hard to follow the frenetic action. Also, the glasses you have to wear make the movie appear darker. Not a lot but it is noticeable.

Another thing about 3D films is that a ticket costs $3 more than for a 2D movie. Like the prices of CDs in the mid 90s this is bullshit gouging. You expect me to believe that the creating of a 3D print of a movie costs 30% more than the 2d? I ain't buying it.

That all being said I see no reason for 3D not to be the standard soon. There were several moments in the Avengers movie where the 3D version was superior to the standard 2D. Specifically, the moment in the first battle where the Avengers line up while attacking and early in the penultimate fight when the camera spins around the Avengers as they fight off the horde of robots. Two moments likely filmed with 3D in mind. This moment in the Jurassic World trailer was stunning. 3D films intrigue me because 3D gave me a reason to see a movie in the theater for a second time. It has been a long time since I have done that.

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Decemberists

Melanie and I saw the Decemberists Thursday night at Charlotte Fillmore. This was our second trip to the Fillmore and, even though it is a corporate hellhole, it sure has excellent sound and sightlines. I did notice that the venue now has some benches against the back wall. I credit my Twitter rant from a few months ago for the installation of these benches. The first time we went we stood for hours and our backs were killing us at the end of the night. I took to Twitter asking the club for benches against the back wall for old people to take a load off. This week at the Decemberists show I see benches. All credit to me. Or not. But I like to think I made a difference somewhere in my short little life and if all I can claim is benches for old people at the Fillmore I'll take it.

The only picture I took with my phone because, really, why bother? You can't see shit


It was a good show and the second time I had seen the band. It was the first time they had played Charlotte and lead singer, Colin Meloy, remarked on this early in the night and he was visibly surprised by the lack of crowd response to this announcement. I think he misunderstood what he is getting with a Charlotte crowd. A good percentage of that crowd probably isn't from Charlotte and haven't lived here for long so they don't have an emotional attachment to the group's first Charlotte visit. And there are those, like me, that have already seen the band and had to drive a couple of hours for the privilege. So the response was probably a mix of, "So what? I've lived here since August" and "Duh, it's about time, you sons o' bitches."

A Decemberists show is a unique experience. The nature of that band denies it any of the "dig me, I'm a rock star" vibe you can get from some shows. I was reminded more than once of the Flaming Lips show I saw in Asheville several years ago. It wasn't so much a concert as a performance. I don't know if that is the right word, that makes it sound boring, which it most certainly wasn't. It was the first time I witnessed a lead singer ironically tell a crowd during the singalong portion of a show when he brought us down to a whisper to then imagine the line we were singing. But that is what makes the Decemberists fun, they're different.

I will recommend that if you go to see the show stay until the end. They are doing a two song encore and the song they end with is perfect.

Wednesday, April 08, 2015

No More Football

I am no longer going to watch football at any level. No more NFL. No more college. When I visit my old hometown I will no longer go to the high school football games. This decision has been percolating for several years now. I first started having misgivings about football when I read about older players like Earl Campbell who were physically damaged by football. I remember reading that Earl Campbell couldn't walk up stairs because he couldn't pull his feet back. For a while I could brush that off. Everyone knew football was brutal and physical payments later in life were inevitable. It's the old cliche, the guy in his 40s with the trick knee from that high school football injury. Even I have damage from football. The middle metacarpal in my right hand has a bump in it from a break I suffered my freshman year on the gridiron. (That was a weird injury because I don't remember how it happened. At some point late in the game I remember my hand hurt like the dickens. I even returned a kick off with that broken hand. How dumb was that? Although, I did catch that kick with one hand. How awesome is that?) The revelations about the head injuries the players suffer and the suicides of players like Junior Seau have been pushing me to give up the game. Even Terry Bradshaw has admitted he is receiving treatment for memory loss. What I learned about subconcussive blows almost caused me to stop watching last year. I then decided to give the sport one more season and then give it some serious thought. It was Chris Borland a young NFL player retiring at the peak of his career, literally giving up millions of dollars, in order to preserve his health who gave me the final push I needed. As Frank Deford pointed out during a recent NPR piece football may soon go the way of boxing where those from a less affluent background make the choice of financial gain with the later trade off of health issues. He even goes so far as to call football "indefensible." I think he's right. How can I sit on my couch and watch a player like Troy Polamalu literally kill himself for my entertainment? I can't any longer. Goodbye, football.

I have only one last step left to completely wall myself off from football. I need a new Tervis Tumbler. My current tumbler has a Carolina Panthers logo on it. I need to go to Tinder Box at the mall and get a new tumbler. I wonder what the chances are of them having a Detroit Tigers tumbler?

Friday, April 03, 2015

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Old Photo

I finally had time to stop by the Sleepy Poet a couple of weeks ago and bought some old snapshots. Here is snapshot #1. Five friends posing arm in arm. No information on location and date.

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Monday, March 09, 2015

Downtown Musicians

After a meeting at the Main Library last week I saw these musicians waiting to cross the street. I've heard our city's orchestra a few times now and that is a lot of underpaid talent standing on that street corner.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Ouch

Even in video games if you are ejected out the windshield of your car at a high speed you'll end up dead.



But, at least you can climb back into another car and run over some pedestrians. It all works out in the end.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Monday, February 02, 2015

Lights and Stuff

Last night in between snarky comments about the music, costumes and general silliness of the halftime we did all agree that the projections on the stage looked pretty cool. I came across this video on Reddit of the light show the Toronto Maple Leafs used during their pregame ceremony. Incredible stuff.