MRM – City of Ember

city-of-ember-poster-01Directed by: Gil Kenan


Written by: Jean Duprau (book), Caroline Thompson


Starring cast: Harry Treadway (Doon Harrow), Saoirse Ronan (Lina Mayfleet)


Supporting Cast: Bill Murray (Mayor Cole), B J Hogg (Mayor’s Guard), Tim Robbins (Loris Harrow)


What’s it rated?: PG for some action-suspense (and one mild sexual reference)


Genre: Adventure, Family, Sci-Fi


Synopsis: When mankind is about to come to an end, a group of scientists decide to create and populate a city deep underground. The city of Ember is to last for 200 years after which its inhabitants are to retrieve from a strong box instructions to return to the surface. Over time however, the message is lost and life in Ember is rapidly deteriorating. Their power supply is failing and food is being rationed. It's left to two young adults to unearth the secret of Ember and to lead the way out.


My take: While the acting, CG, and scenimatography are pretty good in Ember, It’s story is rather lame and dull. There are several “rabbit trails” that you think are going to lead to a climax… but don’t. And this isn’t just a one-time thing, this happens again and again. I think the director and writers didn’t really iron out this story enough.


There are several messages communicated in this movie that aren’t excactly what I’d agree with; first of all is the simple, depressing, pessimism that is all too prevalent. Sure there is a bit of a resolution at the end, but the overwhelming message is that it’s too late, there’s no hope, so don’t try to fix anything. However this isn’t all bad, because the protagonists, Lina and Doon, actually try to find a solution to the problem despite ridicule from others. The next message I almost didn’t pick up, and I probably wouldn’t have without the help of It is this: the people living in the city of Ember seem to have no particular religious view, but I beg to differ. Apperently there is a quasi-religious celebration called the “Great day of singing”, where all the people of Ember gather to sing about the greatness of their massive generator. I don’t know about you, but this sounds like a religion to me and even though it’s not compared to Christianity, it’s depicts the religious leaders as fools and generally makes fun of all religion.


In conclusion, I’ll say again that the technical side of City of Ember was done pretty  well, but the artistic element was somewhat lacking. That along with the subliminal messages sent through this movie make it not what I’d call a great film.


Story: 5 out of 10


Humor: Not really applicable, but for what there is: 6.5 out of 10


Suspense/Action: 6 out of 10


Overall: 4.5 out of 10

San Antonio

Understandably, I haven't made many posts in the last week or so because I've been in sunny mid Texas for a business conference. But I've got a few free moments now so I've posted a slidshow of all our pictures so far. I'll put the rest up later after we visit the Alamo etc.

-Graydon L

MRM – An Inconvenient Truth

inconvenient_truthDirected by: Davis Guggenheim


Starring Cast: Al Gore


What’s it Rated?: PG for some thematic elements


Genre: Documentary, Environmental


Synopsis: A culmination of environmental messages is presented here as Al Gore gives a lecture to a live audience.


My Take: All I can say is “Is that the best you can do?”. I had always thought that An Inconvenient Truth was one of those films that if you can’t refute every argument, you will not be able to stop yourself from becoming an avid environmentalist. Nothing could be farther from the truth… inconvenient or not. With my limited knowledge on the subject of “Global Warming”, I was surprised at how easily it was to get through the statistics and charts that are presented in this film. Not only this, but Gore has to resort to intimidation just to get his point across, saying “Not one major scientist challenges this [Global Warming] belief”. I think this is a really cheap argument and a rather moot point seeing as how it’s not true at all. His statement is based on how out of more than 900 articles about Global Warming,  not one was against it. Just 900+ articles; He never says who wrote the articles or which publication released them!


The outline is pretty good, I guess. Typical documentary style, partly narrated by Gore, part actual footage of Gore talking to a live audience. But one mistake I think they made was the use of cheesy, childish, “Simpsons” style animation sequences to explain certain concepts that were already explained. The animations did nothing more than throw me out of the film and make me feel really stupid.


Lastly I’d say, It’s easy to lie with statistics, and Gore has perfected this art beautifully.


Story: 6 out of 10


Humor: 6 out of 10


Suspense: 4 out 10 (10 out of 10 if you believe that GW is real)


Overall: 4 out of 10




I came across this poster on the internet the other day, I think it should be offended, but It’s still funny :-)



More Coolness, and My Upcoming Trip to San Antonio

As the title suggests, I and my family are traveling to San Antonio in a week for a business conference put on my Family EBiz’s Steve Beck. However, this presented a couple of problems to us because we have no good laptops that would be able to compute at the high level needed at this conference. Sooooo… drum roll… we bought a new laptop! It’s main purpose will be to be my mom’s new computer (this is so she can sit on the couch for her computing, which will be easier on her neck) and also so that Jonny can have mom’s old desktop to replace his, which is suffering from a terminal illness ;-)


This puts our total “Computers in the house” total up to 7. 11 if you count our PDAs and GPS unit.


The an extremely high rated Toshiba Satellite Pro with Intel’s forefront mobile processor, very good speakers, large display, great hard drive and, RAM upgradable to 4GB. I don’t have any pictures now, and Mom’s camera SD card is full of pictures already so there’s no room for more until she copies them over to her computer.


The biggest hurdle with this new computer for my mom is getting used to Vista. After using XP since it came out, and still not fully understanding it, Mom’s going to have a massive learning curve :-)


Another aspect of our trip is going to be pleasure as well actually. We’ve got a day before the conference to goof off, and also three days after for sight-seeing on the River walk and also visiting the Alamo again. I’ve actually been to San A before for another conference also put on by Steve Beck a few years ago. We walked along the river and saw the Alamo then too.


Anyway, I’m looking forward to heading out on Wednesday, don’t worry I’ve got an MRM in the bag for when I’m gone :-)



Am I a Homeschooler?

OK, now it’s official: I am a sucker for these things.


You know how it works..... put "X's" in the boxes in things you've done copy and paste to your blog!

Growing up/now:
[  ] Own/have owned a denim jumper
[X] You were at least 13 when you got your first "trendy" haircut
[  ] Everything in your closet at some time was referred to as modest
[  ] You do/have tucked things in that shouldn't be tucked in
[  ] You have been a member of at least 3 co-ops
[X] You were a true 16 and never been kissed
[X] Your mom drives a van of some sort
[  ] You have at least one childhood picture where you, your mom, and all you siblings matched
[  ] At some point in your life you were more comfortable with adults than kids your own age
[X] Have studied ways to defend your beliefs, debate, and/or create laws
[  ] Used uber conservative ABeka curriculum

[X] You use big words that most adults could not use in conversation
[X] You can use the words sublime, epiphany, and cognicent correctly
[X] You have a favorite word.
[X] You have an understanding of Latin root words and how to use them
[X] People from the outside world are referred to as "public schoolers"
[  ]You or one of your siblings knits.
[X] You laugh at the decline in literacy in America
[X] You score constantly higher than "public schoolers" on standardized tests.
[X] You have no concept of cafeteria food
[X] Family vacations are/ can be referred to as "Field Trips"
[X] Traveling on said vacations have included stopping at historical site markers along the way
[X] You have never been in a public elementary school, middle school, or high school during regular school hours
[X] You have gone to or been involved in a homeschool convention
[X] You read books on a regular basis
[  ] You have taken part in a political protest
[  ] You were a Pride and Prejudice fan before the movie
[X] You were a Lord of the Rings fan prior to the movie
[X] You were a Chronicles of Narnia fan before the movie
[X] You speak a language other than English
[  ] You dream of dating characters from books instead of celebrities

Total so far: 20

It (has been) assumed that you:
[  ] Have won many spelling bees
[X] Have no social life
[  ] Have no friends of the opposite gender
[X] Are outstandingly smart
[  ] Are extremely inept
[  ] Only listen to classical music
[  ] Play piano or the violin
[X] Do not own a pair of trendy jeans.
[X] Have no knowledge of drugs or alcohol
[X] Don't date, only court.
[  ] Have never been to a "party"
[  ] Know no other beliefs other than what your family believes

Total so far: 25

You have been asked more than 10 times:
[X] If you wear pajamas to school
[X] If you get perfect grades because your mom grades you
[X] If your mom teaches you or if somebody else's mom does
[X] How do you meet people
[X] Why you aren't in school
[X] If you get days off whenever you want
[X] If you're going to be homeschooled through college
[X] If you have a big family
[X] What your parents are protecting you from
[  ] To quote something famous
[  ] For the answer, because supposedly homeschoolers always have all the answers

Total so far: 34

You have rebelled by:
[  ] Listening to "worldly music"
[  ] Wearing black fingernail polish
[  ] Wearing tight clothes or letting your midriff show
[  ] Watching a *gasp* PG-13 movie
[  ] Breaking dress code
[  ] Listening to music with a beat

Final Total: 34

1-10 You're not really a just do school at home
11-21 You're a homeschooler, but not what the world expects
22-32 You're a homeschooler
33-60 You probably wouldn't have facebook to begin with...but congrats you're the stereotypical homeschooler

MRM – Spiderman 3

Spidey 3 posterDirected by: Sam Raimi


Written by: Sam Raimi, Ivan Raimi


Starring cast: Toby Maguire (Peter Parker/Spiderman)


Supporting cast: Kirsten Dunst (Mary Jane Watson), James Franco (Harry Osborne/New Goblin), Thomas Haden Church (Flint Marco/Sandman), Topher Grace (Eddie Brock/Venom)


What’s it rated?: PG-13 for sequences of intense action violence (I’d add sensual themes and language)


Genre: Action, Super Hero, Adventure, Sci-Fi, Romance


Synopsis: Spiderman’s image is just starting to clear up. People are finally seeing him as a hero and not a freak and Peter Parker is beginning to feel invincible. But soon the evil he has fought for so long is discovered in himself when a black oozing organism from another world attaches itself to his Spiderman suit.


My take: OK, here’s the thing, any time a director makes the main character say “You want forgiveness? get religion” and the bad guy ask God to kill somebody inside a Catholic church, I start asking questions. Am I the only one not OK with this? I know that Catholicism and Christianity are very different, but not everybody recognizes that.


Anyway, on with the rest of this… film. The story is OK, but not incredible. There are a lot of spots where you know what’s going to happen and guess what, it does! Surprise, surprise, surprise! Also, there a lot of “Nuke the fridge” moments. If you don’t know what that is, it’s a term taken from the recent Indiana Jones film when Indy climbs inside a lead-lined fridge to be protected  from a nuclear test nearby. It’s a moment that is sooooooo unrealistic that it throws you out of the film entirely. Anytime that something happens in movie is incredibly ridiculous it’s now called a “Nuke the fridge” moment. So anyway, I can’t give away any spoilers here but be advised, Spiderman 3 houses a lot of these moments that get a little annoying.


Really the only thing Spiderman 3 has going for it is the humor and action, and the action isn’t that great either. Bad guy throws some punches, Spiderman falls down. Spiderman gets up, throws some punches, bad guy falls down. Bad guy gets up… etc., etc., etc. Toss in some acrobatics, spider webs, and exploding cars and hey, you’ve got a Spiderman action sequence!


The humor is great though, with the editor of the Bugle, JJ Jamison providing a lot of much needed comic relief with his grouchy attitude and quick temper.


One more thing though, the CG. The graphics were actually rather disappointing for a film released in ‘07. I mean, it’s not like Spiderman movies are known for great costumes or good CG, but they did a better job on Doc Oc’s mechanical arms in Spidey 2 than they did with Venom’s mouth in Spidey 3.


in conclusion, it’s an OK one-time see, I might watch the action sequences again just for the acrobatics, they’re cool… so are the exploding cars come to think of it :-)


Story: 5 out of 10


Humor: 7 out of 10


Action/Suspense: 7 out of 10


Overall: 6 out of 10

Obama to Wear Motion Capture Suit for Entire Presidency



WASHINGTON—In what is being hailed as a breakthrough in the field of historical record-keeping, the National Archives announced Monday that it would immediately begin outfitting Barack Obama's chest, limbs, and face with an array of motion capture sensors for use in preserving a 3-D account of his time as president.


"The presidency of Mr. Obama is truly a landmark event, and I can think of no better way to honor it than with this $2.5 billion advanced digital-imaging project," acting archivist Adrienne Thomas told reporters. "Not only will our sensors provide unprecedented moment-to-moment documentation of a sitting U.S. president, but they will also give the American people the breathtaking realism and seamless layer animation they have come to expect."


Obama At Podium

"The presidency of Mr. Obama is truly a landmark event, and I can think of no better way to honor it than with this $2.5 billion advanced digital-imaging project," acting archivist Adrienne Thomas told reporters. "Not only will our sensors provide unprecedented moment-to-moment documentation of a sitting U.S. president, but they will also give the American people the breathtaking realism and seamless layer animation they have come to expect."


According to sources at the National Archives, Obama will spend the next four years in a custom-made, lycra-and-neoprene bodysuit, featuring 238 reflective "marker balls," which will instantly relay trillions of bytes of information to a central computer in Centennial, CO.


Obama Reading

Designers at the motion capture firm Vicon Motion Systems will then use this information to build a lifelike 3-D wire-frame model of the nation's 44th president, before digitally "painting" over the structure with computer-generated skin, hair, and clothes.


The data will be stored on a hard drive at the National Archives, where curators will employ it as a complete record of Obama's tenure in office.


"Our 78-person team is committed to capturing each and every nuance of the Obama administration," Vicon CEO Douglas Reinke said. "Years from now, historians will be able to access high-quality images of what the former president might have looked like while he was, say, meeting with the Joint Chiefs of Staff on April 3, 2009, or tying his shoelaces on the afternoon of June 3, 2011."


Added Reinke, "It's like actually watching the presidency unfold."


Reinke explained that Obama will be required to wear the motion capture device at all times during his presidency, barring a few minutes each day to shower and change into a fresh bodysuit. In addition, the president has been instructed to refrain from performing any activities that might cause the sensors to malfunction, such as running, breathing heavily, or letting his core temperature rise above 99.4 degrees Fahrenheit.


Obama SittingSources at Vicon also confirmed that members of Obama's Secret Service detail will have to carry a large green-screen background behind the president at all times.


"We will extend our full cooperation to the people at Vicon in order to make this 3-D record a reality," White House press secretary Robert Gibbs rold reporters Monday. "Nothing is more important to us than preserving this moment in history at 120 frames per second, with perfect surface anatomy, and total texture definition."


Many scholars have also praised a feature of the motion capture technology that would allow future generations to digitally alter the president's wire-frame model by retroactively modifying clothing, facial features, skin tone, and even accessories.


"Imagine being able to see what it might have looked like had Obama been wearing a bow tie when he delivered his first State of the Union address," American historian Joseph Ellis said. "Or if he'd been sporting a luxurious mustache while sitting down with the prime minister of Japan. The possibilities for customization are endless."


Despite the unprecedented level of access the motion capture suit provides, a number of firms are pursuing additional technologies that might lead to even more precise records. Such proposals include a miniature camera that could be placed down Obama's throat to keep track of his exact food and drink intake, and a small microphone that could be inserted in the president's inner ear to pick up the sound of him humming or any low-level mumbling he might emit while in office.


"In a perfect world, we would like to have a record of every single physical detail of Obama's historic presidency, down to even the most minute anatomical processes," said Stephen Dunkin of Mycore Electronics, which is currently developing a device that will retrieve and store any dead skin that Obama may shed during the course of his presidency. "But unfortunately, we're just going to have to accept the fact that, with the technology we have now, certain details will simply be lost to the sands of time."


The president himself was unable to be reached for comment on the new technology because he and his staff were still busy trying to figure out a way for him to sit down.


Article by the Onion News


NOTE: The Onion News is an organization that is NOT always family-friendly. Some of their fictional news articles and videos are VERY inappropriate. I have to say who wrote this article because of copyright laws, but if I didn’t, I would not place a link here. Proceed with caution.



Global Warming, My Foot!

This is a video I found on Yahoo today about some… interesting… recent news:

Thank you, Al Gore, you’ve successfully reversed global warming and now an ice age is on the way… smooth one pal. Did this reversal have anything to do with your gas-guzzling jet and your 20 room mansion?


Here’s another one that I searched on YouTube, the sound is a little off, but it’s still pretty good.


Cool, isn’t it? (no pun intended)


You can read the post, A Tale of Two Houses, that I made in July of last year here.

The World’s Tallest Building

And I thought the Seattle Space Needle was tall! Take a look at the Burj Dubai.




MRM – 12 Angry Men

Video - 12 Angry MenDirected by: Sydney Lumet


Written by: Reginald Rose


Starring cast: Henry Fonda (Juror #8 – Davis)


Supporting Cast: Martin Balsam (Juror #1), John Fiedler (Juror #2), Lee J. Cobb (Juror #3), E.G. Marshall (Juror #4), Jack Klugman (Juror #5), Ed Binns (Juror #6), Jack Warden (Juror #7), Joseph Sweeney (Juror #9), Ed Begley (Juror #10), George, Voskovec (Juror #11), Robert Webber (Juror #12)


What’s it rated?: Not Rated (I’d give it PG for some intense scenes, heavy subject matter and one swear word)


Genre: Drama, Courtroom Drama, Jury


Synopsis: It’s an open and shut case: an 18 year old boy is convicted of murdering his father, there is an eyewitness, another witness who heard everything, and the boys alibi doesn’t hold water. But the preliminary jury vote yields that one man isn’t so sure.


My Take: 12 Angry Men was a recommendation from Sam Y.


Have you ever watched films that were really void of everything? Have you ever watched a film and then felt it was a waste of your time? Well, 12 Angry Men isn’t one of those.


All I can say is that this is a great film. It’s relatively family-friendly, the plot is quite good (considering the limited possibilities of jury room dramas), there are some great lines, and an overall fantastic job filming. The writing was also very good; a writer not giving each character a name and yet still giving each his own personality and style of speech is fantastic. That was one of many things they did a great job on.


One thing you may notice if you see this film is how long of it was taken inside the confining 16x24 foot jury room. All but three minutes of the entire 1 hour 36 minute movie was taken inside that one room. Trivial, but still interesting :-)


Overall, and excellent film. Worth watching again and again… seriously. I watched it on Saturday and then on Sunday I watched it again with the rest of my family and I was almost surprised by the ending all over again.


Story: 8 out of 10


Humor: simple and refreshing, 6 out of 10


Suspense: 9 out of 10


Overall: 9 out of 10



Will it Blend?

I just stumbled upon these videos on YouTube while searching for slow motion vids. I think they’re pretty cool :-)





Apparently, this guy is the owner of a blender company that sells “industrial strength blenders” and he’s become a bit of a celebrity by blending “un-blendable” items on YouTube.


You can see more of his “Will it Blend” videos on the Blendtec YouTube Channel


Happy blending! Don’t breathe this :-D



The Ponzi Scheme

This is a report I wrote yesterday for school about Charles Ponzi and his famous 1918 pyramid scheme and I thought y’all might like it. Enjoy!


The Idea

Named after Charles Ponzi's 1918 plan to sell International Reply Coupons on debt, Ponzi Schemes are basically a form of pyramid scheme, with the first investors being paid by the investment money from later investors. The so called Ponzi Scheme has been slightly altered or copied by many swindlers after the inventor's death in 1949. The most well known use of Ponzi's idea is that of the Social Security program put in place by the Franklin D Roosevelt administration in the 1930s. This system was supposed to help US citizens who did not have the means to support themselves; namely the elderly, the poor, widows, and fatherless children. This seemed like a good idea at the time because it was supposed to encourage the elderly to retire, creating openings for younger workers and then lowering unemployment as a whole. However, this did not work over a long period of time as soon the entire population had social security numbers and there were no longer any more “investors” to support the retirees.


The Original Ponzi

The idea for Charles Ponzi's first large scale scheme came to him when he received a letter from a company in Spain asking him about an advertising business that had failed just a few weeks before. Inside the envelope was an International Reply Coupon, which is basically to allow someone in one country to send a letter with an IRC to a correspondent in another country, who could use it to pay the postage of a reply. IRCs were priced at the cost of postage in the country of purchase, but could be exchanged for stamps to cover the cost of postage in the country where redeemed; if these values were different, there was a potential profit. In post-WWI Italy, the inflation was astronomical and IRCs could be purchased extremely cheaply then sold in America for a much higher price. This was merely a form of arbitrage; buying low an selling high, which is not illegal. Ponzi soon realized the potential of this idea, so he took out a loan and sent the money to relatives in Italy to purchase some of the coupons and send them back to him. However, when he went to sell the coupons, he ran into a mass of red tape. So to bypass this, he convinced investors in Boston to make an investment of $1,250 for a return of their money and an extra $750 within 90 days. He delivered as promised, and started the “Securities Exchange Company”. Huge profits rewarded him, and by January 1920, he brought in $5000 (approx. $54,000 in 2008 dollars). By march, that total was up to $30,000 ($328,000), then in June his numbers reached $420,000 ($4.59 million today), but the peak came in July when his total take was millions of dollars. People were mortgaging their homes to invest in this up and coming new company. By now, Ponzi was through with the stamps and just started taking in investments and giving out returns. This only worked because of the frenzy he had created; most people didn't take their profits, they just reinvested it... then told their friends to do so also.


First Suspicions

Naturally, his sudden wealth was not unscrutinized. A Boston financial writer did a little digging and wrote an article about Ponzi's scheme and how it could not possibly pay out full returns in such a short period of time. Ponzi sued for libel and won $500,000. It seemed at the time like Ponzi's golden empire would never crumble. But several popular papers sent investigative reporters to look into the Securities Exchange Company and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts was also threatening to investigate the company's books. Ponzi was able to slightly divert their suspicion temporarily and he started to look for a way out of the scheme. But time ran out, and Ponzi's publicity agent, William McMasters went to the Boston Post with several incriminating documents saying Ponzi was $2 million in debt, almost 4.5 with interest factored in.


The Scheme's Downfall

After McMaster's article was published, a massive crowd raided Ponzi's office and he had to pay out $15 million. He had taken in over $20 million, but he had lost over $2 million gambling, and the rest wasn't there just from the nature of the scheme and from Ponzi's luxurious living.

Charles Ponzi was arrested by federal agents on August 12, 1920. That same day, auditors stated that he was over $3 million in debt. His investors were devastated, receiving less than 30 cents on the dollar.

Charged with 86 counts of mail fraud, Ponzi was sentenced for 5 years in a federal prison, but was released after 3 and a half years. He then had to face 22 Massachusetts state charges of larceny and was sentenced to 9 years in a state prison as a common and notorious thief.



Resources, images, quotes, as well as a further reading list about the Ponzi Scheme and also the rest of Charles Ponzi's life available at

Bizkit, the Sleepwalking Dog

Yet another funny animal video found on Yahoo!
LOL!!! :-D

MRM - Casablanca

Poster - Casablanca_02 Directed by: Michael Curtiz

Written by: Murray Burnett, Joan Alison


Starring Cast: Humphrey Bogart (Rick Blaine), Ingrid Bergman (Ilsa Lund)


Supporting Cast: Paul Henreid (Victor Laszlo), Claude Rains (Captain Renault)


What’s It Rated?: Rated PG for mild violence. (I’d add mushiness to that)


Genre: Romance, Adventure, War, Espionage


Synopsis: Rick Blaine is a saloon owner in Casablanca, a city in unoccupied French Morocco. His former love, Ilsa Lund, didn’t come with him to Casablanca when he left Paris the day before the Nazis marched in, and he is consumed by it. But when Ilsa shows up in Casablanca with her husband asking for Rick’s help to escape to America, It get’s worse and he is forced to make some hard decisions.


My Take: This review was on a recommendation from Sarah P.


Because Casablanca is more of a Romance than any other category, this film probably wont end up on my favorite movie list. However, I also like a good story, and Casablanca has that. The romantic elements aside, it’s a great film worth watching over and over; the characters are well developed, the supporting actors provide excellent high-class comic relief, and the plot twists and turns thrown in are all perfect touches.


But then, there’s the romance. If you like this genre of film I suppose you would enjoy Casablanca more than I would. As it stands I think it was over-done and annoying.


This may be a tad picky, but I’m not much of a Humphrey Bogart fan. He just looks too… Hollywood for my tastes. Plus he reminds me of John Travolta and the disco era :-P


Story: 8 out of 10


Humor: 8 out of 10


Suspense: 6 out of 10


Overall: 5 out of 10

Graydon's Fav Music Playlist

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Graydon's Fav Classical and Movie Soundtrack Music

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