Featured Photos

Baseball Hall of Fame - 8/23/11

Featured Video

Avery's QuEST Project - It's Healthy!

House Construction

The Completed Home Renovation

Home Renovation - Complete!

Our House Construction Photoblog

RSS Feed

Archive for October, 2008

« Previous Entries                    

Helpful or Hurtful?

Tuesday, October 28th, 2008

My wife and I leased a car a few months ago.

Categories: Money Talk | 3 Comments »

When will we learn?

Tuesday, October 28th, 2008

This is disturbing:


Categories: Money Talk | No Comments »

Some cool, non-partisan, political websites

Monday, October 27th, 2008

Hat tip to Zach Klitzman for this:

Categories: Political Rantings, Random Acts of Blogging | 1 Comment »

ISBS Movie Review: High School Musical 3

Saturday, October 25th, 2008

If you haven’t been living under a rock lately, you know that this weekend marked the debut of High School Musical 3, the third installment in the wildly successful Disney series. This was the first of the three that debuted in theaters (the other two living exclusively on The Disney Channel until, of course, they made their way to DVD). With two children in my house, ages 8 and 5, it was mandatory viewing this evening (my kids happen to be boys; if they were girls it would have been mandatory last night after school, or at least this morning – which is why I saw several neighborhood Brownie troops heading into the theater this morning when I went to buy advance tickets).

Asking a G-rated movie aimed primarily at pre-teen girls to live up to this kind of hype is asking a lot. It’s a true credit to this film to say that it handles the task admirably, although there are most definitely some flaws. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves.

First, the plot: the gang from HSM1 and HSM2 return for their senior year. Unlike the other two movies, this edition starts with the East Side High Wildcats basketball team winning it’s championship game. With that neatly out of the way, the group begins considering their future. Some, like Troy (Zac Efron) and Chad (Corbin Bleu) have obvious default choices – the University of Albuquerque (the local U. and Troy’s dad’s alma mater) already have their lockers picked out. Others, like Gabriella (Vanessa Hudgens) have selected their college, but have more complex choices to make, like whether to attend a college honors program that pulls her out of high school early enough to miss the school’s spring musical and it’s senior prom. These two events (but really the musical, as per the title) become the focus of the movie. The musical’s theme, “Senior Year” serves as a multi-faceted plot device that allows each character to consider his/her future through what he/she performs in the show, etc. In fact, in a scene that bends reality a bit [NO SPOILERS HERE - I PROMISE], the musical’s finale actually consists of the school’s drama teacher revealing each student’s plans for the following year, sometimes to the complete surprise of the student himself/herself.

In terms of a review, the best I can do is this: this movie constantly teeters on the brink of ridiculousness, but never actually crosses the line, leaving audiences (even the parents) feeling good at the end. Enough so that we forgive quite a bit of forced dialog, awkwardly wedged-in song cues, and the occasional bout of over-acting. The actors do a fine job with what they’re given, although quite a few of them have grown up significantly since the last movie, a fact that is conveniently ignored throughout the film, of course. The leads, Efron and Hudgens, are clearly being groomed for other, non-Disney roles, as they appear much more grown-up and edgier this time around. And the music? The music has become a genre of it’s own. It’s the kind of music you could hear totally out of context and say to yourself, “that sounds like a High School Musical song.” Surprisingly, it took the writers untill the graduation scene in the third movie to actually write a song called “High School Musical,” and it’s title is so jarring that even the kids winced a bit when the cast launched into it.

But whatever flaws the movie has are very much beside the point. When the lights went down at the beginning of the picture, the audience in the theater burst into spontaneous, anticipatory applause. The applauded after several of the musical numbers as well. And my kids? In typical Disney fashion, my kids’ reaction was exactly what Disney was hoping for. The older one sat mesmerized throughout the film, memorizing every detail and pointing out subtleties in the plot (“Mommy, if Gabriella goes to college in California and Troy goes to college in New Mexico, they won’t get to see each other so much anymore”). The younger one smiled ear-to-ear throughout the film and then, as if struck by lightning, turned to me during the finale and said, “Daddy, is this the last High School Musical movie ever on the entire earth?” Well, son, they’ve graduated now, so unless someone’s writing “College Musical 1,” then yes – this is the end. His reaction: “Can we buy the DVD tomorrow?”

Bottom line: if you (and/or your kids) enjoyed the first two films, then this truly is required viewing. It’s Star Wars III: Revenge of the Sith without all the complicated whining about how the writer/director didn’t satisfactorily tie up all the loose ends. You will leave the theater tapping your toe, feeling good, and satisfied that the story reached a proper conclusion. Then, you’ll get in your car and realize that it’s High School Freakin’ Musical music that you’re humming, and immediately click over to your hard rock playlist to clear your palette.

Or at least, that’s what I did…

Categories: ISBS Reviews, Movie Talk | 1 Comment »

The Argument Against Universal Voting Rights

Thursday, October 23rd, 2008

Colleague Dave Sohmer sends along this gem:

Categories: News and/or Media, Political Rantings, The World Wide Weird | 1 Comment »

Tis the Season for Voter Fraud Accusations…

Monday, October 20th, 2008

As long as we’re discussing seasonal issues, it’s starting to feel like every two years (but especially every four years) since 2000, we’ve been discussing the voter fraud that’s going to allow <insert name of whomever’s winning> to steal the election from <insert name of whomever’s losing>, and to allow <insert name of whomever’slosing> to delegitimize the sweeping mandate indicated by the overwhelming victory of <insert name of whomever’s winning>.

Here’s a pretty good summary of this phenomenon for 2008. The headlines are daunting, but if you dig into just about any of them, you find that they’re not nearly as sinister as they’re made to sound. In most cases, they reflect the push and pull between over-registering (i.e., registering people who might not be eligible to make sure we catch everyone who is eligible) and registration verification (i.e., requiring registrations with known errors to be corrected before allowing the voter to vote).

Here’s one example: Mickey Mouse tries to register in Florida. Now first of all, at least it was Florida. Anywhere else (except maybe California) would have been a clear case of voter fraud. Kidding aside, though, on the surface this smacks of someone preparing to stuff the ballot box in November. It also has the added attraction of the ACORN seal (ACORN, the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now, is an organization that has received money from the Obama campaign, and has been implicated in several instances like this). Digging into the details, though, we see this:

This year, ACORN signed up 1.3-million voters nationwide and about 152,000 in Florida, mostly in Orange, Broward and Miami-Dade counties. ACORN estimates it flagged 2 percent of its Florida registrations as problematic because they were incomplete, duplicates or just plain bogus.

“This is part of a widespread and systemic effort

Categories: Political Rantings | 2 Comments »

Things you see while…Walking past Radio City Music Hall

Monday, October 20th, 2008

The first Christmas wreathes and garlands are hanging over the main entrance to Radio City this morning (for the record, it’s October 20th – I bought my kids Halloween costumes yesterday). Still no sign of nativity scene camels walking around Rockefeller Center or giant trumpet players encased in enamel-painted carbonite, but it’s a start.

(NOTE: please record this as incident #3,572 when I wish my cell phone had a digital camera in it. Thank you…)

Categories: New York, New York, Random Acts of Blogging | 1 Comment »

When Excel Gets in the News…

Monday, October 20th, 2008

As a self-proclaimed spreadsheet jockey, stories like this hurt me in places I don’t like to talk about.

Categories: Money Talk, Tech Talk | No Comments »

Buried in the financial news – a positive sign?

Monday, October 20th, 2008

From this morning’s Yahoo Business Report:

Strains in credit markets continued showing signs of easing after a raft of bailout measures by governments around the world, including a joint U.S. and European plan to buy stakes in private banks to boost their lending. Demand for Treasury bills, regarded as the safest assets around, lessened Monday but remained relatively high in a sign that there was still much fear in the markets.

While we’re not out of the woods by any stretch of the imagination, this is an very good sign. As I said in my lengthy post, What Happened? A Summary of the Financial Crisis:

But more importantly, watch the credit markets. These are not nearly as widely reported, but if you read market commentary sites, it will almost always mention how well credit is flowing. . . . When you see credit returning to the market place, that will be the first real sign that this crisis is coming to an end. Also, remember that it will be several weeks or months before the Treasury

Categories: Money Talk | No Comments »

Manny Being Manny….Again.

Friday, October 17th, 2008

Folks in Boston are used to this by now. Folks in New York (like yours truly) are used to hearing folks from Boston defend stuff like this with the phrase “that’s just Manny being Manny.”

Ladies & Gentlemen, Manny Ramirez, speaking to reporters after his current team (the Los Angeles Dodgers) lost the ACLS to the Philadelphia Phillies, about whether he will return to the Dodgers next year:

I want to thank the fans for their great support. I think it was a great trade. I just want to go home and spend some time with my family. I want to see who is the highest bidder. Gas is up and so am I.

Now that’s what you call a team player, right?

Categories: Sports Talk | No Comments »

« Previous Entries