Animated Films

Movie Review: Pixar’s ‘Coco’ – Fun Film~

iuB578VYZTFirst Thoughts:

Fun film.  Happy that Pixar made a Latin-centric animated film with a lot of adult themes as well as celebrating the Mexican tradition of Dia De Los Muertos (Day of the Dead) that celebrates their ancestors.


What if the dead could come and visit every Day of the Dead and though they cannot interact with the living, they can “cross over” and visit when they are remembered.  If they are forgotten, they fade away.

Coco is forgetting.  Why is this important?  Because a crime was committed in the music community, a crime as bad as betrayal and greed, yet Pixar puts it all together in the form of Miguel, the grandson of Coco, and fighting against his family’s admonition against music, wants to make the music happen.

The scenes where the “Living Boy” is trapped in the world of the dead, some slapstick and other silly humor is offset by the “hero” of the piece and how Miguel’s hero worship may be misplaced.

Last Thoughts:

Despite a certain president insulting the Mexican people, why not celebrate them?  Where I live in California we love and celebrate the Latin community.  This film is a breath of fresh air that cleanses the negative feelings from Washington and makes us want to be brothers to our comrades south of the border.

Or you could just enjoy a great Pixar film!



Five Simple Ways To Kill Ants!

5 DIY Ways to Get Rid of Ants

Seeing ants crawling around your kitchen or your computer table is just disgusting.  Don’t I keep a good kitchen?  Is my Doritos habit attracting the little buggers?  Probably not.  Did you have a rainstorm recently?  Is there a drought?  Ants like moisture, and they like food.  They don’t like aromatic things.  That’s the key.

Wantshat’s aromatic?  Smelly?  Pleasant for humans perhaps but not for the little black ants.

Please, no insect sprays.  And little “ant hotels” just keep them coming back for more.  Let me help you avoid the hardware store since you can find these things in your local grocery.

Vinegar:  Get a spray bottle and fill it half with vinegar (I like apple cider kind) and half with water and spray it directly on the ants.  They will die pretty quick.  Wipe up with a paper towel.  What ants?

Cinnamon Oil:  I had an ant infestation in my apartment.  I got cinnamon oil and sprinkled it with some abandon.  The smell was so strong it killed many of them and scared away the rest of the colony.  Haven’t had trouble since.

Peppermint Oil:  Not nearly as strong as cinnamon but my brother swears by this one.  When he goes on a camping trip he surrounds his tent with a small trail of peppermint oil.  Ants cannot cross the barrier.  It’s quite a sight to see!

Baking Soda:  Another one of those common household items that kills ants quite dead.  Mix equal parts of soda and sugar.  The sugar attracts them and the soda kills them.  Put them in places where ants hang out. 

Baby Powder:  I have not tried this one myself (infant days are over!) but I’ve read where this acts as a “firewall” of sorts and blocks the ants from climbing this white barrier.  Place it where they usually enter or exit your house or apartment.  It won’t kill them but it will chase them away.    

Good luck on getting rid of these pests.  I did a little research as I didn’t want to spray my place with dangerous insecticide but wanted to find a do it yourself remedy. 

Use them, let me know how it goes. 

If you have some favorite home remedies to get rid of ants, let us know. 

Comic Books!, Cosplay Photography, Event Photography

San Francisco Comic-Con 2018

First thoughts:

A few weeks ago I went to the SF Comicon.  Not as good a show as last year at Moscone Center but not as bad as it could have been!  I’ll explain.

The Oakland Convention Center is not bad a choice for a venue since WonderCon was here in the 1980s.  Problem is, it’s not really designed for a modern day convention.  The pathways are confusing, hard to find panel rooms, not a lot of space in the halls.  And way too dark to take decent photos.

Unlike other cons I’ve been to, they clear out the rooms between shows.  I guess that is to give everyone a chance but by doing so you create long lines.

I have a Flickr account that has the SF Comicon group I created.  In it you can see what is what over the years.

The SF Comicon in Oakland.  There was a lot of buzz about that, which is a bit silly since what were they going to do?  They could not change their name, different branding.  And they could not stay in SF, since SF was refusing to host them (come on, San Francisco!).

What did I Like

The cosplay was nice as were the two panels I watched — the Kevin Conroy interview, the voice of Batman animated series.  And the cosplay contest.

Kevin Conroy:  Great stories about how he broke into the voice acting business and how he landed the Batman gig and kept it for a few decades.

Cosplay:  Yaya Han was there and I’ve seen her at bigger shows.  Could not get a decent photo of the contestants since the lighting was so BAD.  See below:


Not bad but not great.  Next year, bring a Flash unit!

Final Thoughts:

Not a bad show.  Great deals on Comics and art.  Great celebrities such as Jonathan Frakes from Star Trek: Next Generation.

Recommended.  See my Flickr group, here’s the Link:



Review of My Hospital Stay

Yes, I’m a Tumor survivor.

I realize this  short article is a bit new for me and somewhat personal.  But it might help someone so here it goes.

I noticed a few months back my eyesight was not doing great.  I was losing my peripheral vision to an alarming extent.  Thought I’d get it checked out.  Found that my eyes were not bad, it was something behind the eyes.

An MRI revealed a mass interfering with the optic nerves near the brain.  And if that were not bad enough, also messing with my hormone levels and pituitary gland.  I had what was called a “pituitary gland macroadenoma” — “Macro” as in BIG.  Thankfully it was not cancerous.

A chat with a neurosurgeon set my mind at ease along with a few YouTube videos — go gentle on those friends — and I was ready for surgery, a “Transphenoidal craniotomy” — where they go througiuNN7DHN2Fh the nasal cavity thru the skull’s back door so to speak, and attack the tumor.

The hospital was state of the art at Kaiser Redwood City.  Great staff, very caring.  And the breakfast in bed and non-stop TV and meals was pretty cool.  They constantly monitored my body’s hormone levels and salt and urine levels.

Now I’m out, recovering.  Still a bit of a problem with the peripheral vision since they could not take it all out without damage to vital systems.  Overall, a good result since my double vision disappeared and hormone levels returning to normal.  Looks like the pituitary is getting back on the job.

As the days and weeks pass, I should see a slow improvement and the tumor should be dying.

Let’s hope so!

Lesson:  When you see something odd with your body don’t dismiss it.  Get it checked out.  It may be nothing.  Or it may be your body is trying to tell you something.  Listen up!





Fort Point Living History Day

39939459271_0486d6b076_o - CopyThe Living History day happens twice a year.  I went January 27, 2018.  Kept missing my bus routes but made it to where the tourists are buzzing around and walked down quite a steep trail, through a narrow tunnel that was once a battery for cannon and ended up at a long trail with wooden steps.  Following these I made it to the Fort Point, just under the famously orange/red Golden Gate Bridge.

Nice day, sunny with sailboats.  Typical January winter day in the Bay.

The Fort was guarded by two men in Civil War garb, looking at me as I walked through the gate.  Men were marching, women were playing hoop games.  Really fun to watch and shoot.  Was fun taking photos of these men and women deciding to come down for a day and reenact what life may have been like in 1862. 39041085925_b96226b1f0_o - Copy

There was a man discussing the types to rifles and slugs used and regaled us with stories of battle of those times against the men in Gray.  A woman was cutting up a chicken and cooking it on a fire like they would have back then.  I took a photo of a woman and she stayed in character and let me do it.  Neat.

Another I ran into told me that he is a descendant of a general who was in battle at the time.  Though he was dressed as a Union Major, his ancestors were of the Confederacy.  We joked about what his ancestors would have thought, him in a uniform of the North.

Overall a pleasant stay.  Really liked how people would go into character whenever I took they photo.

Sprinkled throughout this blog are photos I shot, most with a Pentax K3, a pretty nifty DSLR.  Enjoy.

Science Fiction Books

Artemis, by Andy Weir


First Thoughts:

Andy Weir, fresh off his big win of a novel, The Martian, tells a what-if story – what if we landed on the moon and created a city of giant bubbles, each named after pioneer astronauts. Would we have the same problems any small town USA would have, including gangsters, cover-ups and murder?

You bet!

Story & Plot:

I like how the story is told in first person narrative. Jasmine Bashara (Jazz) lives 15 floors underground in the Conrad Bubble and starts with her failing her EVA Guild exam. An EVA (extra-vehicular activity) exam is botched when Jazz uses a used space suit and almost dies. “The Moon is an old bitch” she exclaims.

Jazz is tough. Jazz smuggles to offset her poor living. She’s lived on the moon since she was six. She has a strained relationship with her dad, a welder, and I would call this story more a coming of age tale more than anything.

Jazz makes a deal with a billionaire devil to mess with some rock harvesters and creates major problems, including creating problems for a Brazilian crime syndicate which would love to have Jazz put into space without a suit.

The story centers on corruption, a murder mystery and how she survives on the moon and barely makes it to the end of the novel with her life. The story is dragging and does gets bloated with science terminology and what happens in certan chemical reactions, etc., that would interest a physics major more than the average young adult novel reader.

Final Thoughts:

Besides all that, the story really picks up and is a page turner when Jazz makes the biggest heist of her life and nearly dies trying to save Artemis and finds the Moon is not such a harsh mistress.




2018 New Years Fireworks!

So going to my office on the 30th floor of that building, I set up my tripod and Pentax K3 camera, set for Bulb mode, f 8.0, ISO 100, and waited breathlessly with my remote shutter crushed by nervous fingers.  Waiting for midnight.  The Witching Hour.  Breaking the time barrier between old year and new.  A new year, 365 more days of craziness on this godforsaken blue marble we live on!

The shots turned out pretty good:Flickr Album

Click on any image for large view!  Enjoy!

Pulp Fiction, Science Fiction Movies, Thrillers

Movie Review: The Last Jedi

Star Wars: The Last Jedi

Directed by Rian Johnson
Cast (in part)
Mark Hamill Luke Skywalker
Carrie Fisher Leia Organa
Adam Driver Kylo Ren
Daisy Ridley Rey
John Boyega Finn
Oscar Isaac Poe Dameron
Andy Serkis Snoke



First Thoughts:

I was excited to see this film since I’m an original, waiting blocks for the 1977 Star Wars film. And I was NOT disappointed!

Though Rian Johnson’s story and direction are somewhat controversial in some circles, overall I liked the direction we are going in.

We left Rey with Luke in The Force Awakens and find Luke as a dissolutioned former Jedi who just wants to die on an island in the armpit of the galaxy far far away. And Rey, shocked by this attitude of a man she’s idolized, tries to wake him up.

You can’t walk away from trouble and though you may have inadvertently caused it, you still have responsibility to make it right. I feel that’s the lesson between Luke and Rey.


Legends change – we find anyone can use the Force, not just certain individuals. And Rey has the most sensitivity and the most power, and is on par with her antagonist Kylo Ren.

Ren, like Luke, is a torn individual. He has a Force connection with Rey who communicates with him. That Rey tries to see Ren’s side of the story is telling and so is Luke’s tale with a lot to do with his relationship with both Ren and Rey. Flawed characters trying to do what they think is “the best” but eventually Rey decides – in the main throne room of Snoke’s ship.

Snoke comes across as a villain who seems to have all the cards in his favor. His Dark Side Force power is more powerful than Rey and Ren. They both have a plan for Snoke. And their lightsaber battle with the Praetorian Guard is worth the price of admission!

We finally get to see a final confrontation with Ren and Luke Skywalker himself. Luke seems invincible, and Ren wants his blood. How this turns out with shock you.

Another controversial scene must do with the remnants of the Rebel Alliance attempting to escape from the First Order armada and are getting picked off, one at a time, as the Rebels limp towards their base.

There are side adventures with Rose (new character, she really steps up and takes the film) and her relationship with Finn – at first seems to have hero worship and later saves his life.

Final Thoughts:

OK, I’m rambling , but really guys and gals remember this is fiction! Some suspension of disbelief is required. Johnson turns the Force mythology on its ear. And who is the Last Jedi? Can you guess?

Highly recommended!




Science Fiction Books, Uncategorized

Book Review: Time Jumper


My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Time Jumper, Matthew Bayan

First Thought:

Started out as a typical government-experiements-to-gain-power story but escalated into something so much more.

Story & Plot:

I like this author’s style of writing. Similar to Any Weir in style and pacing. Explains what’s going on but doesn’t reveal too much. And each detail you read is actually important for later on in the plot.

I thought the author got overdone with the Battle of Anteheim but he was accurate in the historical import and detail of the event. In history, some say that the plans from Robert E. Lee got into the hands of the Union. Though the story is not specific on this point, it is implied how that happened.

Ethan used his gift of psychic insite to enrich himself modestly. This was noticed by others who played the stock market and winning more than usual and reported this to a government lackey, Churchill. Churchill’s idea is to use Ethan in an experiment that increases Ethan’s psychic ability.

In doing so Ethan unleashes power he never knew he had. With the help of the drug he’s able to leave his body as a spiritual being, traverse the universal time lines and is drawn to the Civil War era, 1862. There he meets a cast of characters that bring the story to its end.

Ealier I thougth he got too much into the Civil War era, being pursued and “switching” bodies to find his own true love, lost in a lightning storm earlier in the book. Regardless the pacing was fast and frankly I could not put the book down.

Some loose ends were on what happened to certain characters but even this gets swept up at the end. Did it happen or not?

Final Thoughts:

If you like historical fiction and science fiction with some philosophy on the spirit, mind and body, check out this short Young Adult novel. You’ll be amazed how it all turns out.

Highly recommended.

View all my reviews