Monthly Archives: January 2013

‘Take Me Back to This!’

I recently watched “Take Me Home Tonight” (again), which is the story of a recent MIT graduate, Matt Franklin (Topher Grace), and his decision to remedy his biggest regret in life: not asking out Tori Frederking (Teresa Palmer). She, in classic 80s slow motion fashion as this is when the movie takes place, starts to walk into the movie store where Matt is working. Upon this magical first glance, he hustles out the back door without her seeing while simultaneously ripping off his red work vest to casually stroll into the very same SunCoast Video Store from around the corner as a customer just moments later. Definitely choice.

This is not a scene by scene review, but instead a call to action from the past. Let’s set the scene for this movie: No cell phones, no texting, blazer sleeves were rolled up, sunglasses were worn at night, brightly colored clothing was proudly displayed, big hair with crazy twists filled the air, people acted wildly and had a blast, there was one-on-one conversing (what?), kids jumped on trampolines in a stranger’s backyard and embraced the thrill of being involved in a fight…a dance fight that is!

A house party in 2013:

picture-3-500x375
(trueslant.com)

Versus

A house party in 1988:

TAKE ME HOME TONIGHT
(Movie Reviews by FAQs online)

So much has changed in just 25 some odd years. Here’s to hoping that history will soon repeat itself, complete with wearing ties at parties, movies about a time machine made out of an everyday product, like a car, and video rental stores (this one in particular! See The Pleasures of Past “Inconveniences”).

You think I’m alone in my wishes? Just in the past couple years, “Hot Tub Time Machine” & “Take Me Home Tonight” have sent us ‘back in time’ to that decade when MTV played music (weird, right?). Does this mean a movie about the 1990s will be made soon? “Whoa!”

Regardless of the fact this is a trailer for a movie, just ponder if your Friday night at all compares to this:

With our smartphones, perhaps it would be smart to put the phone down once in a while and drive to a massive party in your boss’s cherry Mercedes, pretend to work at an elite investment bank to impress a girl and possibly roll down a hill in a giant steel ball.

This generation, meet last generation.

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“How does somebody know what they want if they’ve never even seen it?”

Steve Jobs changed the world forever with his innovative products, released as if they were all continuously moving along an assembly line for him to pick up at his leisure. His business savvy has also been celebrated and assuredly studied by aspiring businessmen, businesswomen and big thinking dreamers in their basements and even parent’s garages. The iMac computer is not owned solely by Americans, but by adults and children all around the world. And not just this Apple product either. Terms like iPod, iPhone, iPad, iMac and Macbook Pro are household names. Techies and millions of fawning fans alike listened to his every word whenever he casually strolled onto that plain stage in northern California with a wall-sized projection screen behind, clothed in his trademarked look: blue jeans, New Balance sneakers and his low-key black turtleneck. In hand was his next big device to make its grand premiere, ready for an exhilarating public test run.

Rightly so, he is admired. In this age of increasing globalization, it was nice to say when he was alive that, ‘he’s one of ours….he’s an American innovator.’ It’s still nice to say. Walter Isaacson’s Behemoth of a book, “Steve Jobs,” details his life and includes just about any bit of information anyone would like to know about the man and technological icon. A movie is set to be adapted from this book by famed screenwriter Aaron Sorkin for a movie called, “Steve Jobs.” For those who are drawn to Jobs’ life and career, love dramatic stories as portrayed in cinema but can’t wait for this film to be released sometime down the road, they are in luck.

Lights. Camera. Genius.

“That ’70s Show,” “My Boss’s Daughter” and the cult classic “Dude, Where’s My Car?” offer a snapshot of the portfolio of the man chosen to fill the soles of some of the most famous New Balance shoes in history. Ashton Kutcher, the director, writers and cast are preparing to premiere the major motion picture, “jOBS” at the Sundance Film Festival tonight (Nationwide April 19th on Apple’s 37th Anniversary). Many may scoff at the idea of Michael Kelso portraying such a serious and beloved figure. However, before passing judgement, first take a look at a side-by-side comparison:

steve-ashton-apple

(www.sellcell.com)

Now come the vital questions that will surely be asked before and after the premiere: did director Joshua Michael Stern present the right details, milestones and key decisions to appropriately define the gigantic life of Steve Jobs through his multiple decades of leading Apple onto the top-shelf of the technological world? What overall theme and events did they decide to drive the story with? Is it accurate?

Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak (“The Woz”) recently shared his reaction of the first released clip of “jOBS” as seen below to the website Gizmodo. “Not close…we never had such interaction and roles…I’m not even sure what it’s getting at…personalities are very wrong although mine is closer…don’t forget that my purpose was inspired by the values of the Homebrew Computer Club along with ideas of the value of such machines and Steve J. wasn’t around and didn’t attend the club so he was the one learning about such social impact of the future,” Wozniak said.

Here is the aforementioned clip:

One thing that can be agreed upon is that the final retort from Kutcher/Jobs excitedly foreshadows the empire the two of them would soon begin to build. It’s probably safe to say that this clip alone will generate a significant buzz of curiosity about the movie.

Interestingly, Alexis Kleinman of The Huffington Post recently noted something very insightful about the clip. “With the premiere of the Steve Jobs biopic “jOBS” quickly approaching this month, its creators are doing something Apple never would: Pumping up excitement by offering a sneak-peak.” It’s certainly something to ponder…

Without seeing this movie in its entirety, it’s impossible to declare whether or not the script is misleading throughout or simply taking a little bit of artistic licensing, which does happen in Hollywood, for better and for worse. This could be the only hiccup or it could be first drip in a waterfall of inaccuracies. Until the lights go down and the movie is premiered, no fan/critic will know. The question is with his true life so fascinating and inspiring, why has such a step been taken for this important one minute scene? A few fortunate people will likely discover that truth tonight.

I suppose that like any Apple product though, there will be the occasional bug. Maybe “jOBS” is just life imitating art?

Come April 19th, will you give it a Friday night?

Taking “This Room Comes with a View” to a New Level

The streets are packed. Bustling with men, women and children, street vendors each attempting to lure customers to their products/food with the branding, “The Best…” and that beautiful girl in between the commotion with a face that stops time like the circus tent scene in the movie “Big Fish.” Bodies are encapsulating me in the narrow space reserved for my family’s walk to our destination. Some of those going about their daily ‘dance of life’ are questioning my families’ very presence. Existing in their bubble of reality can sometimes require an escape in the literal sense (to be more incognito) as well as the metaphorical sense.

How will this chaos stop and change into a friendly place to mingle and get a little lost in? Most times it can be alleviated in just a few predetermined steps. In some cases though, it may require an athletic hop, skip and a jump (as was the case in downtown Cairo).

Whether enduring the camel two-step on the way to the awe-inspiring ancient Pyramids of Egypt or the economic metropolis of Hong Kong with its towering presence, each cannot be fully seen without a proper entrance. Sights of the mythical desert Sphinx, a pristine beach on the Seychelles Islands and the ceiling of a Norwegian barn were crisper, sounds of giant flies in the Australian Outback, crashing waves off the Sydney Harbour and the swoosh of snow while the snowmobile ahead of me is trying to avoid hitting an adult buffalo in Montana were heard with tremendously clear acoustics and smells of spices, fish and heat itself shocked my nose because of how and where I arrived at each of these various locations.

A reservation and simple entrance, made after an exhausted day of traveling in planes, trains and automobiles, can make all the difference in establishing a destiny of an exciting journey or tour bus boredom. It’s the contrast between television’s regular definition and high definition. Quite literally, there is no comparison.

Walking into the right hotel lobby in cities and countries all around the world has repeatedly solidified incredible enjoyment of countless vacations and trips (A quick shout-out and “Thank You” to my parents as I have been very blessed to travel and stay in the places I have). A busy European downtown, Swedish countryside or Canadian ski town can open up and reveal itself in ways so spectacular that they are nearly impossible to observe otherwise. You no longer feel like a visitor or tourist, but as one of the locals. You see small shops on the corner and quickly scurry in to take a gander at the delicious treats. Disguised restaurants down alleyways are discovered and result in being a wonderful adventure in more ways than one. You transform into an unrestrained explorer.

A grand, uniquely original, expensive and inexpensive hotel alike can take your trip and turn it 180 degrees into a once in a lifetime vacation.

My family’s vacation’s have taken me to: the original Ice Hotel in Jukkasjärvi, Sweden, a Stabbur in Norway, the unforgettable Club SA (Salvation Army) in Reykjavik, Iceland, a hotel next to a prison in Chiang-Rai, a gorgeous beach side resort in Bali, the stunning resort in the Seychelles off the east coast of Africa, a hotel in the jungles of Costa Rica, a hotel literally in the shape of a crocodile in Kakadu National Park in Australia, a hotel in Berlin, Germany where we, no joke, slept in the floor (each room was different & one had coffins…), a castle in Dublin, Ireland, an ultra-modern and high-tech tower of a hotel in Cardiff, Wales (best beds on the planet!), in the middle of the Wahiba Sands desert in Oman in a black and white tent with no electricity and in a room in the docked Queen Mary in Long Beach, California, to name only a few.


Goway Travel Experiences Ltd. online
Ice Hotel
Taber Holidays online
Oman Desert
Condé Nast Traveler online                                    

Rooms that are cramped with bunk beds are not viewed with a heavy sigh, but instead laughed at with amusement. A hidden and ‘experienced’ (code word for old) hotel in the less populated and less glamorous area of the old town can be viewed as a once in a lifetime moment off the beaten track of every other traveler (FYI-Old Dubai and New Dubai are correctly distinguished as such).

But now, I have a much wider view and appreciation of Dubai than most because of the unconventional choice made in regard to the hotel that night.

The decision to stay at a luxurious hotel for a night in Hamburg, Germany during the 2006 World Cup proved to be a sound decision. As luck would have it, the U.S. Men’s Soccer Team was staying at this hotel! It became clear on the drive up that there was something going on or somebody special was staying there because the surrounding area was blocked off with heavy security. Not only was it special to see the players casually walking around, but the room was magnificent. It is without question one of the moments from that trip I will never forget.

Those same jam-packed streets that are reminiscent of episodes of “The Amazing Race” were soon seen as a charming means of visually capturing the culture on the way to a museum with ancient artifacts and treasures. Hotels are vital to not only a night’s sleep, but is directly related to the experience and consequential memories that greatly define our perspectives. They are an important ‘first step’ during trips/vacations.

Perhaps most importantly, the right hotel will grant you a temporary resident’s visa with a uniquely special suspended outlook of the grand nature of a city, town or village. Your acclimation to your new surroundings gin up an adrenaline rush that is both exciting and full of curiosity. There is this freedom of knowing that you are just visiting and that there are very few (if any) consequences to your decisions while staying inside the boundaries of common decency and respect.

It sparks a renaissance within yourself about life and the world.

Even domestically, choosing a hotel is paramount. It was only a few months ago I was in a familiar city: New York. I picked the hotel for its surprisingly affordable price and because of its proximity to Central Park for a concert the next day. Hotel wise, I was staying in a new area and decided to take a stroll on that Friday in the early evening. As a result of the hotel I picked, I happened to walk past (& ultimately returned to) this gentleman on the street who I recognized standing in front of his hotel.

Once again, it was an amazing pleasure to meet you Dave Grohl.

Me and Dave

“Three is a Magic Number”

Imagine that you are a fan and patron of the ballet (just for a few minutes). You enjoy watching ballerinas, with their beauty and striking features, effortlessly glide across the stage in amazement. When a new show is set to premiere a short run at the gorgeous theater downtown, the question is not if you will see the show, but only when.

The lights go down to a glow when the audience sees the curtain rise and soon after comes the first leg movement. The vivid string music picks up a second later. Enchantment fills the air. The next two hours are filled with grace and inspiring strength, as demonstrated by a ballerina’s grand jeté. The drama or sometimes adventure, with a few moments of comedic relief, captures everybody’s attention. The audience is rewarded with such a wonderful and tight performance that a standing ovation is not an optional exercise.

Bravo! Bravo!

Another night and another show defined by smooth, world-class movements. They took the crowd through a journey of delight and precision. The latter word alludes to the fact that the ballet is a defined and confined art in many ways, yet that is exactly what keeps fans coming back for more. In other words, they are meticulous about what they expect.

But, what if the rumors are true and a new choreographer is set to be hired? Nothing drastic is set to occur, but his reputation is one that demands his dancers be more free flowing. In the strict world of ballet, there are very few exceptions for bending the rules.

It is, ironically, an uncomfortably comfortable art. There are assigned movements and a familiarity (sometimes painful) that becomes second nature to the trained and dedicated professional. It’s not so much about thinking what to do next when dancing in front of the bright lights, but instead it’s about reacting to the music and partners on stage.

This could be a risky move to change a structure so beloved and rich in history and tradition. And yet, the day has been set for when the new choreographer will arrive. His reputation is one of excitement, degrees of unpredictability and all with quicker movement between dancers. The quickened pace will add dynamism that can be difficult to predict, both for those doing and watching. Some long-held beliefs on this ballet stage will be redefined. There will undoubtedly be curiosity and anxiousness.

Outside reviews declared their audiences were “mesmerized” by his adaptations to the traditional ballet. Each ballerina performed with more movements en avant and with a splendid final allegro. It’s new and exciting.

Nobody is exactly sure what to expect.

This past Wednesday, it became official that 41 year-old Pep Guardiola had signed a three-year contract to become the next head coach at Bayern Munich starting this July to replace the outgoing 67 year-old Jupp Heynckes.

“He is an adventurous and attacking coach, who fits at a club that shows guts,” Arjen Robben said.

Pep used his own Tiki-taka strategy at Barcelona from 2008-2012. This team won just a few top-shelf accolades (14 trophies) and also showcased the likes of Lionel Messi, Gerard Pique and David Villa. Despite the contradiction, this team continues to move and play with a precise fluidity. It is very impressive to witness.

The style of soccer at Bayern Munich is not exclusively defined by structure, discipline and toughness (& winning quite frankly), but are nonetheless paramount factors. There are players who exercise tremendous flare and skill of course, as is evidenced by a Dutchman (Arjen Robben), a Frenchman (Franck Ribéry) and a Weilheim Winger (German Thomas Müller). Possession with world-class individual play is on full display during any given game. However, their passing is not typically accompanied with as much misdirection as is used by the players at Barcelona.

How much of their style will change?

Bayern Munich has won seemingly countless German Football Championships and four UEFA Champions League Titles. They are no stranger to success and winning. But a new coach and a new style is about to reign in Munich.

There will be two firsts come this July. First, the Tiki-taka philosophy will be implemented or adapted with the current players, plus perhaps a couple future big name signings.

A Tiki-taka Tutorial:

Second, Guardiola will become the first Spanish manager of this club dating all the way back to when Bayern Munich entered the Bundesliga nearly fifty years ago in 1965.

Changes are coming and even though they will not alter the very game itself, they are going to be significant. The dance of “the beautiful game” in the capital city of Bavaria will be different from what has been seen there before. While world-class talent will remain along with each individual’s offensive and defensive prowess, the way they move will adjust and how they use their skills at certain moments will have new and spontaneous variety.

There are certain expectations fans of Bayern Munich will want to transition from its previous coaching regimes. But with such a banner hire, the team will look more distinctive compared to years past.

Much like at the ballet, the audience has very particular expectations. Soccer is similar in the sense that its fans demand to be constantly entertained with superior defending, speed, dribbling, passing, shooting, toughness and intelligence. Soccer is “the beautiful game” and its fans are not shy about expressing their support or disappointment to what they see on the pitch…every other minute.

Unlike the ballet, soccer is a physical sport that involves contact and some occasional rough play. Its atmosphere is more lively, less formal and sees more vocal reactions from fans of all ages. And yet the intention of this post is to point out surprising correlations between two contrasting professions.

As with the ballet, soccer fans can be tentative to remove an “Old Guard” for something new.

We’ll all just have to wait and see if Bayern Munich’s faithful will embrace a little “Pep” in their step.