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Showing posts from 2014

Tapestry

A friend's new profile photo appeared on my Facebook feed, a friend I've known since the late-1990s. Honestly, my first reaction was, "He's aged a bit." But then, looking back at the photo a moment longer, I thought, "He's actually still as beautiful as I thought he was almost two decades ago." And the beauty isn't just a remark on the physicality. It's an observance of the person, of the soul. Imperfect? Yes. But still beautiful.
Ageing is an odd thing. It's been hard to escape the markers of feeling older because of the evolving physical landscape of places one once knew. The site of the hospital where I was born now sustains an apartment high-rise. Where once I knew fields at the edge of town, there is now a thriving shopping area with residences and, possibly, a new high school on the horizon. Many favorite shops and restaurants have come and gone over the years.
The changing of insentient things during the passage of time is one wa…

Yesterday's Restaurants

The local newspaper has a feature from one of Champaign-Urbana's most legendary restaurateur's, John Katsinas, on what his favorite area restaurants were that have now since closed (or will soon be closing).  It's a nice little read, and has made me stop and think about the restaurants that have come and gone that have left an indelible (and edible) impression on me throughout the years.
Here we go....

Visits with Lewis

I had the dream again last night.
There are, perhaps, two-to-three dreams about my father that are played on regular rotation throughout the year. My mind selects them (for what reasons I do not know) every 6 months or so. Last night saw the return of the 'Old Lewis' dream, as I like to call it. The events play-out in fairly similar fashion each time: dad is still alive, older (the age he'd be today), and I visit with him for a few days at a time. They seem pretty realistic in the light of day, save for the fact that Lewis is, in reality, dead.
It's odd, but the dreams are set in present day, with me being a 38-year-old adult, however they almost always have me leaving mom's house, waving goodbye to her like some overly-excited schoolboy, as I depart for dad's house for the next few days. It's like the visits with dad I had in my teens, except I wasn't too happy about those at the time.

Pic of the Week

Austin Butler is our Pic of the Week! The actor turned 23 yesterday. Enjoy.


Back in Time

As many of you know, I'm a fan of science fiction. Specifically, I've always been drawn to the notion of time travel, and whether or not it could ever be a reality. In truth, the implementation of such a concept terrifies me, as it could alter our known history or splinter events into multiple time streams. Regardless, it's a fascinating idea to consider, and I happen to believe that we already engage in time travel on a daily basis.
Allow me to explain.

What Dreams May Come

Confession time. The comedic roles of Robin Williams are like nails on a chalk board to me. If someone wanted to to torture me, just a few minutes of Good Morning, Vietnam, Mork & Mindy, RV, or any of his stand-up routines would do the trick. The only exception to this would be Mrs. Doubtfire, a movie that just works. Having said that, I do appreciate the joy and laughter that Williams' manic persona brought to so many people.
For me, I loved Robin Williams the serious man. Here's where I think he sits atop the mountains of greatness, along with Brando, Stewart, Finch, DiCaprio, Braugher, Hanks and many others who were or are masters of their craft. In a serious role, I found Williams to be riveting. He won an Oscar (for 1997's Good Will Hunting), but could have been nominated (and won) for many more performances. He was that good.

Pic of the Week

Happy Friday, everyone!
This week's pic is of model Nathaniel Sherman.
Enjoy!


You Only Live Twenty-three Times

As you know, I'm a bit of a movie lover.
There are classic films that rate very highly and must not be missed: Gone With The Wind, Citizen Kane, Hobson's Choice, The Ten Commandments, The Manchurian Candidate, etc. But just as much a part of the fabric of movie history are the movies that are just plain fun to watch. Stuff like Silver Streak, Please Don't Eat the Daisies, Some Like It Hot, the Police Academy movies and, of course the James Bond series of films. To date, there have been 23 Eon Production films in the James Bond franchise, and here we find out which ones are the best, and the worst.
Ready? Here we go....

Sail Away

Going on a cruise is something a lot of people like to do these days. I had never partaken of that type of vacation until December 2012, via the graciousness of Ashley's dad. It was fun. We took the City of New Orleans train down to its namesake, and that was an adventure in itself. We met a record producer and his wife who were from Memphis, and had a fascinating conversation with them about how she'd known the long-lost musician Rodriguez back in her college days.
Having never been to New Orleans before, Ashley's dad -- a seasoned pro at traveling -- gave us the grand tour. We stayed downtown, walked by Canal St., stayed for a bit in the French Quarter, took a horse & buggy ride and learned some of the neighborhood's history, had some hot chocolate and beignets at Cafe Du Monde, and ate some delicious Boo Fries at Acme Oyster House.
The cruise set-off the next day, for a five-day trip, and it was enjoyable. We were on the Carnival Cruise Line ship Elation, which…

Pic of the Week

Today is the 29th birthday for actor Chace Crawford, so he's our Pic of the Week. Enjoy!

The Summer of '94

Summer, that season of heat and humidity, existing in our hazy memories of family trips and vacations from school, has always been a rather perfunctory time of year for me. I travel no more or less during summer than during other months (we're doing our Florida vacation this year in October), and many summers have been pretty much the same as the last one, or the next. That's not to say that they aren't nice (they usually are), just that they don't always rank high on the special scale.
One summer that was a notable exception to my rule of mundanity was the summer of 1994. I had just graduated high school (yes, we're having a 20th reunion this year), and adult life lay ahead of me. School had been stressful, as I've written about before on this blog, and so I was looking forward to relaxing a bit before deciding what to do next. 'Next' ended up being starting at Parkland College in the spring semester of 1995, and working a part-time job at Garcia'…

Midpoint

We're just a little over halfway through 2014, and I've seen 26 of the year's movies (so far). I thought that now would be a good time to rank those movies! Of course, this is just my opinion, one of many. But if you haven't seen some of the films in, say, the top ten, then try and watch them if/when you can.
Ok, here we go….

10 Answers From an Atheist

A friend made me aware of TodayChristian.net's recent column titled 10 Questions For Every Atheist. The questions are left, of course, unanswered (one presumes there are no atheists at TodayChristian), and so I thought I'd try my hand at answering them. Full disclosure: I am not, strictly speaking, an atheist, as I admit that a full-on denial of a god is hypocritical when condemning others for their full-on belief in a god. I'm fairly comfortable with a 'don't know' philosophy.
Anyhow, here we go.

Pic of the Week

Our Pic o' the Week is none other than British "newcomer" Pip Andersen, who was announced over the weekend as being added to the cast of Star Wars - Episode VII. He looks very capable of doing action sequences...


No Soup For You!

There's been a lot of talk lately about the rights of private business when it comes to the power they should (or shouldn't) have when it comes to who they serve and what sort of health care benefits they do or don't have to provide. Situations that come to mind are the laws some states have tried to pass granting businesses the right to discriminate based upon religious grounds and, of course, this week's U.S. Supreme Court ruling that allows Hobby Lobby (and other businesses) the right to pick and choose what sort of health care it provides based upon its religious convictions (because apparently an entire corporation can have its own religion now).
It used to be, decades ago, that businesses (especially in the south) could refuse service to people because of the color of their skin. The business owners would often cite religion as a defense. And, yes, racism flourished for quite some time in this country with people selectively quoting from the Bible as part of the…

Pic of the Week

Piggy-backing on ours posts with a The Fault in Our Stars theme, this week's pic is of none other than that film's star, Ansel Elgort. Here is he is from a photo shoot for the July 2014 issue of Interview magazine. Enjoy.


The Fault in Our Stars, Part 2

Earlier in the week I wrote the first of two planned blog posts about my thoughts on the movie The Fault in Our Stars. Based on the book by John Green, the film tells the story of two teenagers, Hazel Grace Lancaster and Augustus (Gus) Waters who meet cute and fall in love. The notable angle to this story is that both teens have cancer. Hazel is currently in a holding-pattern with thyroid cancer that has spread to her lungs, while Gus is in remission from a cancer that cost him part of one leg.

My first post about the movie dealt with how it made me think about life and death in general. The second post, the one you're reading right here and now, is to mainly provide some thoughts I had about the relationship between Gus and Hazel. It was a wonderful affair, to be sure, but not without some questionable elements. Yes, this is Hollywood, but one still expects a certain level of realism.

The Return of the Wild West

Something I have very little tolerance for is the gun control debate.
While it's fairly obvious that the people (a vast majority of whom are men) who commit the mass atrocities that we've become so unfortunately used to over the years have mental health issues, it also can't be ignored that guns have most often been their weapon of choice. There's a reason for this. Guns, more than any other weapon save a bomb of some sort, can inflict the most harm in the shortest amount of time.
Some will argue that we can kill each other with things other than guns. They will say that weapons of death can be knives, stones, our own bare hands, fireplace pokers, matches and gasoline, etc. All true. But the aforementioned items can be used for purposes other than killing. There is no other use for a gun than to kill or maim. None. A gun is not created for a certain task, and people just happen to also use them for destruction. A gun is made to destroy.

The Fault in Our Stars, Part 1

I saw the new teen romance movie The Fault in Our Stars over the weekend, and had some thoughts about it that I'd like to share over two blog posts. The first of these posts will feature musings on life and death that the film stirred within me, while the second post (which will appear later this week) will be a more direct view of the relationship in the movie. Hopefully, neither post will be too spoilery (in case you haven't seen the movie, or the read the book by John Green that it is adapted from).
The Fault in Our Stars deals primarily with the lives of its two leads, Hazel Grace Lancaster and Augustus (Gus) Waters. Both have had cancer. Gus' is in remission, while Hazel's (Stage IV thyroid cancer that has spread to her lungs) is in a sort of holding pattern. One day, at a support group meeting for teens who've dealt with cancer, Gus expresses an interest in Hazel (whom he affectionately refers to as "Hazel Grace"), and a nice romance blossoms.
While…

The White Savior In Film and History

Reading about the 1994 movie Stargate (as you do), and it's recently announced reboot, I happened upon a Wikipedia page all about white saviors in film. This particular concept was new to me, although I've heard variations of its theme before (the counterpart being the Magical Negro). In short, the white savior narrative in a film features white characters saving black characters from some sort of terrible situation or oppression.
Movies that are generally agreed to fall into the white savior category are 12 Years a Slave, The Help, To Kill a Mockingbird and The Blind Side (among many others). Interestingly, a movie I saw over the weekend, Belle, is considered by some to buck the white savior trend. The film centers around Dido Belle, a mulatto whose father was from English aristocracy. She is raised by her uncle, Lord Chief Justice William Murray, and his family.
In an article about Belle from The Daily Beast, the following passage is of note: "Belle marks the first fil…

Pic of the Week

More like the pic of the month, but, better late than never!
Once again, we're featuring a favorite: UK diver Chris Mears. Enjoy!


My Cool Uncle

"Matt, you sure have gotten fat." The aforementioned words were said to me by my uncle Joe, during one of the many pre-Christmas dinners that used to be an annual occurrence at uncle Paul and aunt Vilda's house. I remember sitting at the long dining table, surrounded by family, many of whom I only saw at these gatherings. The door opened and in walked Joe, moving fast as he always did, and that's when he stopped, stared, and said those words to me.
Now, I'm not saying that I wasn't slightly wounded by his remark. Weight's been a struggle for me since the middle school years and, yes, I'd put on a few pounds since the last time he'd seen me. But it was hard to be mad at Joe. He had a way about him. Almost always a twinkle in his eyes. It's true that I have different opinions of my dad's several brothers, but it can be said that Joe was the only one who I thought of as cool. He just was.

Will Success Spoil the Human Race?

Wheel of Fortune host Pat Sajak recently outed himself as a climate change denier. Fair enough. Everyone's entitled to their opinion, even if it makes them look ignorant. That aside, what frustrates me most about the situation isn't that people are rejecting science in favor of their own, rather poor common sense. No, that's bad enough. What really saddens me is how badly we, as human beings, seem to plan for the future.
Our very survival depends -- first and foremost -- on a viable planet for us to sustain a continuation of the species. Even if you want to contend that humanity isn't the primary cause of global warming, then at the very least you have to admit that we shouldn't help it along. After all, a person diagnosed with lung cancer is doing his or herself no favors by taking-up smoking, right?

King of the Monsters

The first thing you need to know about Gareth Edwards' 2014 version of Godzilla is that it features a fairly small amount of the titular character. This isn't necessarily a bad thing, just... unexpected. Another aspect of the film that was unforeseen (at least by me) is that not all of the big names in the cast are in the movie very much. Perhaps the most notable observation of all, however, is that, despite the surprising turns taken with the characters and lack of huge screen time for the main monster, I found the film to be fairly predictable.
Godzilla opens in a flashback to 1999 (has that really been 15 years ago?), and Joe Brody (Bryan Cranston) is an engineer living in Japan along with his wife (Juliette Binoche) and young son. Disaster soon strikes the nuclear power plant where Brody works and, well, I'll just say that the timeline skips forward to present day, where son Ford Brody (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) is all grown-up and coming-off 14 months of active duty in th…

Good Neighbors

Admittedly, I went into last Friday night's screening of the new movie Neighbors expecting to laugh, and to see actor Zac Efron in various stages of undress. On both counts, the movie delivered. It's not something that deserves to be boasted about (being enamored with another person's physique), but I am honest about it. As it turned out to be the # 1 movie in the country over the weekend, no doubt others felt the same.
What I wasn't expecting with Neighbors was its rather progressive tone. The film, about a thirty-something married couple with a baby who see their lives in tatters after a loud fraternity moves in next door, is a poster child for acceptance and respect for strong women and human sexuality. If you're going in to Neighbors with the expectation of backseat female characters and to be ogling various parts of women's anatomy, you'll be sorely disappointed.

The Year in Music

There are times in your life when you will read or watch something, stop for a moment, and think to yourself: "This is truth. This is gospel, right here." For some, it may have been the first time you read the Bible, the Tanakh, or the Koran. For others, it could have been when you read self-help books such as The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, or Chicken Soup for the Soul. Still, for others, it's going to be this blog post right here.
The truth is, dear reader, that 1993 was the best year for music. Full-stop. Some of you already know this. For others, it will be a revelation. Please, allow me to explain. Following are some of the albums released in 1993, with a bit of commentary from yours truly. During or after reading this, I think you'll agree that there's really no question anymore that 1993 was king.
Ok, here we go.

Pic of the Week

For our latest pic of the week we once again feature British diver Jack Laugher, shown here in recent fine form...


Doing the Right Thing

I've been immersed in the world of cinema the past few days. The 16th annual Roger Ebert Film Festival has been taking place in my hometown of Champaign-Urbana, Illinois this week. Ashley & I have been to every festival since 2001. So many great movies have flashed across the screen of the Virginia Theatre during the long days of the festival over the years. Last night saw director Spike Lee host a screening of his 1989 classic Do the Right Thing. It was my first time watching the seminal film about race relations in America, and it definitely provided food for thought.

Memories of Virginia

Having grown up in Champaign-Urbana, IL, I have memories of people and places that are no longer with us: Keith Page, Mr. Roberts (both local weathermen), George Valentine, Nicole Storch (educators), Burnham Hospital (where I was born) and, of course, the movie theaters. There was the Co-ed on campus, which was long ago demolished, the Thunderbird in Urbana, which has been re-purposed as The Canopy Club, a hot spot for live acts, Market Place Cinemas in Champaign (demolished), and Country Fair Cinemas (long-closed). For the most part, these places exist only in memory.
One local movie theater that has stood the test of time is The Virginia. Opened some 90 years ago, it began life as a vaudeville hall, and then made the transition to showing films. By the time I came on the scene, the Virginia was in its waning years as a first-run movie house. Multiplexes were becoming the in-thing, and single screen movie palaces were on a major decline. After closing its doors in 1991, the Virginia…

Pic of the Week

The cutest member of the Magic Mike crew, English actor Alex Pettfyer, turns 24 today. He is our Pic of the Week. Enjoy!



Riding the Waves

Last night I saw Noah, the new film based upon the Biblical legend of a man, touched by God, who builds an ark, inhabits it with his family and two of every species, and survives a great flood while residing within its walls. The flood is God's punishment upon mankind for it's sinful ways, and wipes out everyone except for Noah and his family. That, at least, is how the film portrays things. Depending on your Biblical interpretation, there may have been a few more human survivors of the flood. Or perhaps not.
Regardless of the details (and, really, the details change like shifting sands when it comes to Biblical interpretations and adaptations), Noah is a fairly engrossing movie, if somewhat hampered -- plot-wise -- by its source material and the director/co-writer's version of the legend. Darren Aronofsky, an atheist, has attempted to provide the film with a mash-up of Creationism and Evolution, a situation which muddies the waters of reason even further. Indeed, I went …

Pic of the Week

It's been awhile since we've had pic of the week and, well, yet again it's British diver Chris Mears! Hey, he's handsome, straight-but-gay-friendly, and good in his profession. There you go.



Truth Will Out

I was having dinner with my mom t'other night, and she related a story about how, on a first date, a woman's bare posterior had become frozen to a car, and the guy she was on a date with had to pee on her in order to get her unstuck. This was, apparently, sent to my mom by a friend via e-mail, in which it was described as having been a segment on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno. It all sounded a bit made-up to me and, after checking around, I learned that it was, indeed, untrue.
This sort of thing happens all the time. Well-meaning people hear (or read) of a funny incident, and pass it along so that others might have a chuckle. They don't really doubt its veracity, and so there is often no intent to deceive. I've witnessed this scenario play-out on social media sites, most notably on Facebook. They will become memes that people share, and can take the form of either supposedly true stories (that are not, in fact, true), or quotes that are attributed to various famous p…

An Open Letter to my Dad

Dear Dad,
Today would have been your 69th birthday.
I've thought about how to acknowledge your birthday anniversary. Taking a page from Chaz Ebert, who wrote a letter to her deceased husband Roger about the most recent Academy Awards, I thought I'd write a letter to you. Granted, it's a bit odd, but then that's not always a bad thing.
So, it's coming up on seventeen years since you died from cancer. I've often wondered what the intervening period of time would have been like had you lived. Unfortunately, we didn't have the closest father-son relationship in the world, so if that had continued, perhaps life wouldn't have been all that different. I tend to hope, of course -- in that fantasy world that only the dead can inhabit in the minds of the living -- that we would have grown closer, healed any rifts between us, and enjoyed a stronger relationship.
Your children -- including Dillon, who hadn't yet turned 3 when you died -- are all grown now. You…

Left to His Own Devices

Fred Phelps, founder of the Westboro Baptist Church, is dead.
To say that Fred Phelps dabbled in hate is akin to saying how a dog is pretty fierce with a bone. The main object of the man's hatred were people like myself: gay people. I'm not sure why. He and his church used the cloak of religion, but there was obviously something else going on there. A few months ago, Phelps was excommunicated from Westboro Baptist, leading some to speculate the reason why. Was he secretly gay? Did he have a change of heart regarding his treatment of people during his 84-year-long life?
Who knows? Honestly, as someone who never knew the man, the reasons for Phelps' excommunication matters not to me. So why am I taking the time write about him? Because, just this once, I'm going to acknowledge his existence, since he chose to acknowledge mine (and others), even if it was in a vile and contemptible way.

Matt vs. the Oscars

Every year, the late, great film critic Roger Ebert used to hold a contest called Outgess Ebert. In it, he would guess who would win the various categories of the year's Academy Award nominees, and would challenge his readership to submit their predictions, to see if they could "outguess" him. While I don't have the desire to hold a contest, nor am I the movie guru that Ebert was, I thought it would be fun to put my picks out there, and see how it goes.
The 86th Annual Academy Awards air tonight on ABC, hosted by Ellen DeGeneres. Following are my predictions on who will win what and, in a few cases, why. Here goes!

Saved by the Love of Money?

The Arizona state legislature recently passed a law which would allow businesses the right to refuse service to gay people based upon their religious convictions. Aside from some of the more obvious issues (How do you know for sure if a customer is gay? Can you ask them?), the legality and morality of the bill has been under intense public and media scrutiny. The pressure is on Arizona now to see where it stands in the history of civil rights.
While Governor Jan Brewer (who, for the record, I rather dislike) has the power to veto the bill, and it's even come under fire from three Republican state senators who voted for the damn thing, I have to admit to some astonishment that it's even come this far. This is Arizona. It's not a state of the Old South. I guess my expectations were perhaps too high. Regardless, we're in the year 2014 AD. Isn't our society supposed to be beyond such discrimination and segregation?
Of course, one reason for my astonishment would now a…

Pic of the Week

Our latest Pic of the Week is UK diver Jack Laugher, featured here in a spread from Gay Times in the Autumn of 2013. Enjoy!




One of a Kind

It's a Sunday morning. On a Sunday morning 3-4 years ago, probably around the same time as I sit writing this blog entry, I would have been at Carmon's Creperie in downtown Champaign, enjoying a savory crepe concocted by Chef Kerry, served by either Grant or Bridget, and in the warm company of host/owner Mike. The sausage gravy crepe was my favorite. As it disappeared from the plate, I would have conversed with Ashley, perhaps heard a joke or two from Grant, and engaged in some light banter  with Mike. Kerry likely would have waved at us from the kitchen a time or two.
The weekends (and some week nights) spent at Carmon's Creperie were filled with such warmth. I remember Mike saying to us one time, "You're family," and he was right. At least, that's how we felt when we were there. Much of that was down to Mike. Yes, Grant, Bridget and Kerry certainly were part of that atmosphere and experience, but Mike, as owner and host, was the outward glue of such a …

Death of An Unknown Detective

Actor Ralph Waite, who passed away earlier this month at the age of 85, didn't know it, but he starred in at least three detective stories. They were written by yours truly and, of course, never published, but they exist. Three stories completed, one pretty much done but in need of editing, and strands of a few more in-progress. That, dear reader, is the life of an old detective who was portrayed by Mr. Ralph Waite.

Pic of the Week

In honor of the start of the 2014 Winter Olympics, this week we feature former Olympian Apolo Ohno. Enjoy!



The Films of 2013

It's been another year of movies, and so it's time for another round of The Matt Awards, the most-anticipated movie awards of the season (well, by me, anyway)!
Every year I pick the best in film, in various categories. Been doing this since 1997, when my Best Picture was Titanic. There are few mediums that resonate with a person better than film, and this is my way of acknowledging and keeping track of those movies, actors, actresses, directors, etc. that have had the greatest impact on me year-by-year.
2013 was a pretty decent year for movies. It seemed to have a fairly diverse line-up, with a selection of styles and subject matter that could please nearly everyone. As it stands, I've seen (almost) every film from the past year that I have an interest in, and so here are the winners of the 2013 Matt Awards. Enjoy!

Out of Outrage

It may sound bad, but I'm all out of outrage.

Perhaps that's putting it too strongly, but the fact of the matter is, I feel inundated, daily, with news, headlines, Facebook updates and e-mails that are meant to get me riled-up and ready to fight (figuratively). Honestly, I feel like there's too much of it and, ironically, it's making me want to tune-out.

Pic of the Week

It's been awhile since we've had a Pic of the Week and, once again, it's British diver Tom Daley. Enjoy!



Doctor Who Favorites

As many of you know, my favorite television show of all-time is Doctor Who. A British program centered around the titular character who travels in time and space via his time machine known as the TARDIS, the show has been on the air, on and off, since 1963.
I became a fan of Doctor Who during the early 1980s, when the local PBS station aired it Monday-Friday at 10pm, and on Saturdays at 6:00pm and 6:30pm. I stumbled upon it by accident one night, as I laid in bed and mom stood there, changing the channels on the little black & white TV in my bedroom, until something looked interesting. I saw a man with curly hair tripping over a long scarf, and the rest is history.
I thought it would be fun to pick my 10 favorite Doctor Who stories, spanning 1963-2013. Probably should have done this in November of last year, when it was the show's 50th anniversary, but I didn't, so oh well. Without further delay, here, then, are my favorite Doctor Who stories, in chronological order:

Back to Where It Started

I don't know exactly how to write this entry, except to start off with the fact that I miss Roger Ebert.
It's difficult to put into words, mostly because Mr. Ebert is a man I never knew personally. Our physical paths crossed a time or two during his annual film festival in Champaign-Urbana, but we never spoke, we never e-mailed, we never directly communicated in any way. My relationship with him was as a kid watching him spar with Gene Siskel on an old TV in my bedroom, engrossed in their conversations about movies. And then, as an adult, enjoying his written film reviews, his tweets, and his blog entries.

Top 10 Songs of 2013

2013 was a good year for music. True, the Top 40 Singles and Hot 100 Albums charts were filled with a lot of crap, as usual, but if you just take the time to look, you'll find some hidden gems. So much of the best music out there these days doesn't chart as highly as other stuff (or at all), so a little exploration can be a beautiful thing.
Here, then, are my picks for favorite tracks of 2013 (granted, two of them come from a # 1 album, but then there always exceptions to the rules):

RIP Roger Lloyd-Pack

I first became aware of British actor Roger Lloyd-Pack several years ago when the local PBS station began running the popular Vicar of Dibley sitcom. Airing from 1994-2007 (with, in my opinion, ever decreasing returns), the program revolved around a progressive, female vicar in the small, conservative town of Dibley. The townsfolk were a colorful lot, among them farmer Owen Newitt, played by Lloyd-Pack, his catchphrase being, "Shame," delivered with the plummy tone that could only emanate from his voice.
Regrettably, Roger Lloyd-Pack died two days ago from pancreatic cancer, aged 69. It's a bit odd to say about someone you've never met and who lived thousands of miles away, but I will miss him. You see, the actor had a habit of turning up in quite a few things over the years, and almost always in something good. I also appreciated his deadpan delivery, his voice, and his choice of projects. Knowing that he will no longer be around, popping-up in this or that product…

Why Religion Doesn't Matter

No doubt the title of this post is slightly provocative. I couldn't think of a better way to phrase it, so, there you go. If it's any consolation, I don't think that atheism matters, either. Belief, or lack thereof, in a particular god or spirituality is often beside the point. This is something I've been thinking about recently, and wanted to express here, where most of my thoughts end up for better or worse.
The topic of religion, and how it affects people, has been tossing about in my head of late, not least because of the Phil Robertson kerfuffle. The patriarch of the Duck Dynasty reality series was quoted saying some unfavorable things about homosexuals, but couched it in religious terms (both as his reasoning and his excuse), and so many folks have said it's ok. I tend to disagree, but to each their own.