Monday, May 23, 2016

4 Ways to Make Valentine's Day Gifts More Exciting

With nicknames like “singles awareness day,” “the Hallmark holiday” and “If-I-eat-one-more-of-these-gross-chalk-hearts-I’m-going-to-hurl-day,” it’s clear that Valentine’s Day has quite a negative image. This year, help make Valentine’s Day just a bit less nauseating with four gift ideas definitely worth exploring.

4. Teddy bear vs. real bear
One common Valentine’s Day gift mistake is the teddy bear. If you really love someone, why not step it up and give him or her the kind of bear that says “I may or may not eat you.”

A national organization called mydreamhunts.com is dedicated to helping people fulfill the ambition of hunting and stuffing exotic animals on a day-to-day basis.

“My Dream Hunts” gives away an exotic wild animal hunting adventure trip everyday to one of its members.

All this boldly romantic gesture takes, is signing up your special someone for a free membership.

“When I told my girlfriend I was getting her something ‘exciting for Valentine’s day,’ a four day black bear bow hunting trip in northern Alberta was probably the last thing she expected,” said senior dreamhunts.com advocate Scott Fuson.

3. Mix CD
Another cliché gift to avoid is the last minute “mix CD,” compiled of tacky romantic songs so overplayed that even Sara Bareilles will be asking you to “write your own love song.”

Why let clowns John Mayer and Taylor Swift steal all of your romantic thunder?

This year go to the studio yourself because February is official album writing month.

The challenge, practiced by most bands, is to write 14 songs in 28 days.
Even if your album is composed entirely of Nickleback and Creed mash ups, at least Track 1 will be more meaningful than “your body is a wonderland.”

2. Box of chocolates
Unless you are Tom Hanks, a box of chocolates won’t win you an Oscar and might just get you “cast away” from your loved one.

The heart-shaped box filled with mini-chocolates leave only a temporary quick thrill, satisfying nothing but your date’s sweet tooth.

Why please just one tooth when you could impress an entire body while it is emerged in a swimming pool filled with liquid chocolate?

Much like Augustus Gloop in the Chocolate Wanka river, give your Valentine’s date the full chocolate experience they may never have dreamed of.

It also is not that unattainable. A quick trip to Target can get you a kiddie swimming pool and about 20 bottles of chocolate syrup for around 100 bucks.

1. “All I need is you”
Often someone in a relationship may say something like “All I really want for Valentine’s Day is to spend time with you.” WRONG.

Who wouldn’t rather spend time with Donald Trump, Sylvester Stalone, Sharon Stone or other celebrities that can be rented out to appear at your special event?

Yet another fantastic Internet resource known as the Millionaire’s Concierge allows you to rent a famous singer, actor, athlete or model to make an appearance on your romantic evening.

Although it may cost thousands of dollars, you really can’t put a price on the ones you love, especially when one you love includes Pamela Anderson, Tom Green and Julio Iglesias.

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400,000-Dollar Tuna Sold in Japan

I love sushi and tuna is one of my favorites. So tuna that’s been sold for $400,000 in Japan sounds extra mouth-watering!

A bluefin tuna, weighing in at a gigantic 342 kg (754 lbs) was sold at a record-breaking 32.49 million yen ($396,700) in Tsukiji Fish Market in Tokyo.

Due to sushi’s global popularity, Japan is facing stiff competition for its tuna supply. And it really doesn’t help that tuna is becoming an endangered fish.

As restaurant owners and sushi chefs join the year’s first auction at the market and gets a piece of the very expensive tuna, we are left wondering how much longer can we eat tuna rolls until they become too expensive?

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40 Years Later And ...

You know the story about a lovely lady who was bringing up three very lovely girls who had hair of gold like their mother and the youngest had curls and the story of a man named Brady who was busy with three boys of his own. Well we know the two had gotten together and wed on Sept. 29, 1969.

It’s hard to believe “The Brady Bunch” recently celebrated 40 years of being on television and with it comes Mike Pingel’s book, “The Brady Bunch: Super Groovy After All These Years!”

At first I thought secrets would be revealed and maybe there would be some on set scando’s revealed but unfortunately none of that happens. But my second thought was Pingel would break down the show, spinoffs and the movies. Nope doesn’t happen.

All we’re given is pretty much what we’ve already learned in the past.

There are new interviews with creator Sherwood Schwartz, son Lloyd, cast members Ann B. Davis, Susan Olsen, Florence Henderson, Barry Williams, Robbie Rist and “fake Jan” Geri Reischl (who also has a holiday on Jan. 2 known as “Fake Jan Day,” something I discovered on my own). The interviews themselves really don’t tell us anything as they’re presented in a Q&A format and most of the questions are the same only with different takes on a given situation. The book sort of becomes its own repeat.

Pingel does make a mistake when recounting the episodes, especially episode 21 titled “The Hero.” He makes reference to Bobby saving a little girl at the toy store when in fact it was Peter. After each recap of the episode Pingel does bring up a little tidbit about the show as to what Alice was cooking, various houseguests and a sex-o-meter of the show.

While there are some groovy tips, I think Pingel should have looked at the layout of the book prior to publication since there are a lot of grammatical errors, but it just might be the perfect book for the Brady fan in your life (or even for you).

Tags:40 Years Later And …

401k Retirement Plans Are Tax Friendly

A 401k is one of several types of retirement plans for employers of all sizes including the self employed. The employer designates the terms of the plan deciding who pays, the amounts and if the contribution are mandatory. Employees can save for their retirement by making regular deposits that will continue to grow over the years. Most retirement plans are maintained by a financial advisor or retirement specialist.

In a 401k retirement plan the employer withholds a determined amount of your wages and deposits that money plus any required matching contributions into your 401k account. Those account funds are then invested by the financial advisor into various types of income strategies depending on the risk and growth potential goals. These accounts usually exist for many years until you reach the age of 591/2 when you can withdraw without a penalty unless you met certain exceptions to an earlier age. The money in your retirement plan has increased do to capital growth, interest and dividends that have accrued over the life of the plan.

There are yearly limitations to the amount of money you can contribute into your 401k account. These limitations are set by the employers plan regulations, government laws and the Internal Revenue Service rules. Refer to your 2009 IRS publications and review all the rules and conditions before contributing based on your defined wages. There are other restrictions that you must be aware of to avoid penalties and forfeiture of a portion of the funds.

An early distribution is one of the restrictions where the penalty is quite severe. Taking any money out of your 401k before reaching the age 59 ½ results in a 10% tax penalty. As mentioned above there are several exceptions to that rule with the following most common exceptions ; disability, death beneficiary, armed service separation after 55, QDRO alternate payee. There are several more exceptions and I suggest you refer to the 2009 IRS publications to read all the details of exceptions before acting.

Your 401k retirement plan remains yours even if you quit or get laid off. The money you contributed to the 401k is always yours and is not depended upon length of employment. All plans have a employer vested time period required before the employee can claim the matching employer contributions. When you leave the company your 401k can stay there but, you will probably be charged a service fee to receive distributions. You also can roll over the 401k into an IRA.

The IRA is an individual retirement account with similar tax deferments as a 401k but only for an individual with different limits. You can keep your 401k and open an IRA if the situation warrants. Both retirement plans have the same tax benefit in that you don’t pay federal taxes on the money you paid that year into the plan until you withdraw it after you reach 591/2 and are probably in a lower tax bracket. The amount you can contribute into the IRA is set by the IRS and is much less than that allowed in the 401k but, you must take out money at a certain age in both cases.

The 401k retirement plan has higher contribution amounts but has restrictions on when you must withdraw certain amounts. In both plans your first withdrawl must start no later than April 1 after the year you reach 701/2 based on a minimum specific % of the total established by the IRS. The other important differnce between them is that you can continue contributing money into your 401k after you reach 701/2 while the contrbutions must stop at the year before you reach 701/2 in an IRA. So if you plan on working past the age of 701/2 the 401k is your choice. In both retirement plans you can designate a beneficiaries that inherits the account upon your death.

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401K Fees Can Be Depleting Your Retirement Fund of Thousands

A poll taken by AARP found that 83% of workers do not know how much they pay in fees in their 401K plan. Some didn’t realize at all that any fees were being taken out of their 401K plan.

Did you know that thousands of dollars can be taken out, over time, from your 401K plan for money management and record keeping?

The US Department of Labor has proposed that regulations be implemented that will require companies to clearly state and explain all fees associated with your 401K plan. This has come about because of a growing sense that workers weren’t getting enough information or sometimes too much information scattered all over.

The fees can usually be broken down into 3 categories:

Administrative Fees: these are the fees associated with record keeping, accounting, operational service and legal fees or services.

Withdrawal Fees: if you need to take a loan out from your 401K or a hardship withdrawal there are fees associated with this.

Investment Fees: these are the biggest fees associated with the mutual fund companies managing your money.
You do have options in saving for your retirement that will overall result in smaller fees.

Always review your 401K statements and learn how to read them. This way you will have a clearer understanding of the fees associated with your plan as well as how good your plan is doing. Be sure to review your account statement, the fund prospectuses, and your plan’s summary plan description (SPD) to learn about fees.

You may want to consider no-load mutual funds. They don’t charge you a sales commission this way you will have more money put towards your investment.

Index funds are another consideration. These funds are composed of stocks that mirror a particular stock index like the Standard and Poor 500. These usually have lower fees because of the less stock trading and management oversight is required. These are a great alternative if they are offered in your plan.

If your plan charges high fees or contains high cost mutual funds, you may want to talk to your HR representative. Ask you HR representative if they have any alternative investments that will cost you less in fees. If not they may consider looking into other alternatives if enough employees request it.

Avoid early withdrawal fees. Unless you really need the money for an emergency don’t take early withdrawals from you 401K. This plan is for your retirement and should remain untouched until you are ready to retire.

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4 Ways to Serve Cored Apples

A fresh apple and a sharp corer make a cute couple. Living near the Apple Capitol of the South (Ellijay, GA.) and having a few apple trees in my own backyard, I know my way around the fruit. A cored apple can go almost anywhere and do most anything in the culinary world, and for overall health benefit, an apple is hard to beat. Grab a apple and a corer and give one of these 4 ways to serve cored apples a try.

Core and Go

This is a great idea for a breakfast on-the-go or for a lunch box. Core your favorite apple variety, leaving one-half inch of the bottom intact. Mix granola, flax seeds or whatever other crunchy element you enjoy into two tablespoons of reduced fat peanut butter. Spoon the peanut butter mix into the hollowed out center of the apple, wrap tightly in plastic wrap and go.

Hot Apple Sandwich

Add a sweet, hot crunch to a classic ham and cheese sandwich by coring and thinly slicing your favorite apple. Heat up the griddle while you’re layering ham, cheese and apple slices between two slices of your favorite bread, then place the sandwich on the hot griddle and cook like you would a grilled cheese sandwich.

Baked Apples

Core Rome Beauty, Granny Smith, Cortland, Jonathan or Golden Delicious apples, leaving one-half inch of the bottom intact. Mix raisins with brown sugar in a small bowl, then stuff the mixture into the hollowed out apple centers, then sprinkle cinnamon on top. Place apples in a baking dish and bake in a 350 degree, preheated oven for 30-40 minutes for a sweet, low-calorie, healthy snack.

Salad Crunch

Core a Red and Yellow Delicious apple and a green Granny Smith. Thinly slice the multi-colored apples and arrange them on a bed of your favorite salad greens. Drizzle with a vinaigrette dressing of your choice and top with crumbled blue or feta cheese and toasted pecan halves for a crunchy salad.

Best Apple Corer

Look for a one-piece apple corer that has an easy-grip, soft, ergonomic handle that is shaped almost like a ‘T’, with the thumb side of the ‘T’ shorter than the other side. An easy-release thumb tab on the short ‘T’ side will make coring an apple one swift motion done with one hand.

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4 Xbox Live Add-Ons that Cost More Than $60, but Give You Less Than Xbox Live

The $10 Xbox Live Gold price increase from $50 to $60 a year has lots of Xbox fans crying “foul,” but is Microsoft really asking too much with it $60 a year XBL Gold price tag? The following are 4 Xbox 360 Add-ons that cost more, but give less than Xbox Live.

Xbox Live Gaming Headsets – $59.99-$199.99

Professional Xbox Live gaming headsets like the ultra-popular Turtle Beach EarForce series and the Tritton Technologies AX Pro gaming headsets allow XBL members to yell angrily at online gamers, curse out teammates, and make random annoying sounds across Xbox Live with a better sound and a more crisp microphone, but Xbox Live can be completely enjoyed without a headset or with the default Xbox Live microphone headset. It’s kind of hard to say that Microsoft is greedy for raising the Xbox Live subscription prices to an additional 84 cents a month when there are $200 XBL headsets on the market.

Xbox 360 Wireless Adapters – $99.99+

If you own an original Xbox 360 console and would like to play online without stretching long Ethernet cables from room to room, you’ll be forced to opt for an Xbox 360 wireless adapter and they’ll cost no less than $100 each. There’s pretty much no other reason for owning a wireless internet adapter for you Xbox 360 other than playing Xbox Live and streaming content, but you’d be able to buy a year and a halves worth of online gameplay via Xbox live for $99.99.

The Official Xbox 360 16GB USB Flash Drive – $69.99

The Xbox 360 recently underwent a massive update to how it manages files and one of the biggest changes done to the Xbox 360 during the 2010 storage update was replacing the annoying Microsoft MU memory units and implementing USB Flash Drive storage support for in-game saves, online DLC content, and full game saves. In order to save lots of those cool online game saves and be able to easily transfer your XBL profile from console to console, lots of XBL gamers are opting for this expensive 16GB flash drive that costs more than a full year Xbox Live subscription.

1 Xbox Live-Ready Game – $60

Xbox Live allows you to play an unlimited amount of Xbox Live games via its massive online gaming service that spans over 26 countries, but the retail price of just a single Xbox Live game will hit your wallet for more than it’d cost you to purchase a full year Xbox Live Gold membership.

For more, Cool Xbox 360 Features that Have Nothing to Do with Gaming , Can the New Xbox 360 Hardware Make Up for a Shaky 360 Past? , and The Five Best Types of Game to Play on the Xbox Kinect

Check out my blog for the latest in tech news.

Tags:4 Xbox Live Add-Ons that Cost More Than $60, but Give You Less Than Xbox Live

4000 US Military Dead in Iraq

March 24, 2008 marks and important benchmark in the War in Iraq; 4000 US military members have died during this 5 year long war. All deaths are tragic. These men and women after their military tours could have found a cure for cancer, they could have discovered a cheap and efficient fuel alternative, and they could have done anything. These brave men and women had made the ultimate sacrifice for their country in order to make the world a safer place.

The number 4000 dead sounds high. Any death is one too many. However, we need to put this number in prospective. Below is part of an article from Alicia Colon comparing the military deaths during the Clinton and Bush administration:

“The total military dead in the Iraq war between 2003 and this month stands at about 3,133. This is tragic, as are all deaths due to war, and we are facing a cowardly enemy unlike any other in our past that hides behind innocent citizens. Each death is blazoned in the headlines of newspapers and Internet sites. What is never compared is the number of military deaths during the Clinton administration: 1,245 in 1993; 1,109 in 1994; 1,055 in 1995; 1,008 in 1996. That’s 4,417 deaths in peacetime but, of course, who’s counting?” — Alicia Colon

This statement is disputed by mediamatters.org. Mediamatters states that colon did not include non-hostile military deaths when getting her numbers for the Bush administration years. “Colon ignored the deaths of American military personnel in situations other than hostile action (accident, illness, etc.) during the Bush years, even though non-hostile deaths accounted for nearly all the deaths she noted during the Clinton years.”

However, lets compare the number of US military dead in Iraq against the number of people dead on American highways due to drinking and driving. According to the Center for Disease Control in 2005, 16,885 people died on American Highways due to alcohol related deaths! In one year 4 times the amount of people died because of drinking and driving than all US military that died in Iraq in 5 years! Is it safe to say it is safer to drive around Iraq with road side bombs than it is to drive in the U.S. late Friday night on the highway?

During the invasion of Normandy (D-Day, Operation Neptune and Operation Overlord) in WWII, the US lost 6603 men. The Canadians lost 946 while the British lost approximately 2700 men. This was during a short period of time (about 1 month in 1944). No one would dispute the importance of Operation Overlord and its importance for the Allies to win the war in Europe.

As I stated before, all deaths are tragic. When we look at the number and compare them to other statistics we have to ask ourselves, is it worth it? What is the return we are expecting from our investment in Iraq? Will the Middle East and the world be a safer place due to these brave men and women’s sacrifice?

I believe the world will be a safer place. These young soldiers and sailors did not die in vain! A strong democracy in the Middle East will be an ally to the United States just like Bahrain, Kuwait and Dubai are. An American presence in Iraq and Afghanistan isolates Iran. It gets back American and British oil fields and refineries that we built in Iraq before the Saddam regime. It is tactically significant for everyone.

My heart goes out to the families of these 4000 US military men and women. Please remember that they did not die in vain.

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41st Annual CMA Award Show 2007

Last night was a great night for any country loving soul. You got to see and listen most of the biggest country stars showing their best. Evening started with that Desperate Housewife’s plummer guy Mike presenting. I admit I had to dig his name up, it is Mike Delton. He has that 007 type raw sexiness with humor and he did not screw it up yesterday, nice start for the show from Nashville Native.

First performer was Miranda Lambert. She is an awesome artist but yesterday she did not shine through on the screen. Band was too loud and her voice just disappeared behind it all, this remake of her Kerosene hit was quite awkward to say the least. And she looked like Madonna at her twenties, not so pretty…

Then we had George Strait singing like one should in the award show. He is just all class all man all country and you gotta love him. He snapped the Album of the Year and Song of the Year and kissed his wife thanked everyone and gave the fans his best smiles and tipped his hat like he always does.

Show had such string of stars performing that I’m not gonna try to put them in order but hopefully I’ll get them all in to my article!

Taylor Swift snatched the Horizon Award for the best newcomer. Her album has sold platinum and she is turning into quite a diva. Her comment about this being the biggest moment in her Senior Year might have been little stabby for Rodney Adkins who has been around forever but was nominated in the same category.

Taylor was looking super skinny in her black straight mini dress and black stockings. She had one of those glitzy silver guitars you can buy for nice price these days I bet. But she sound great and looked at home on the stage. Her grandma was an opera singer and she sure has some talent and beats Hannah Montana anyway you slice it!

Carrie Underwood got plenty airtime presenting and singing. She looked pretty and classy but frankly not surprised enough about her awards. Then she got to put those heavenly pipes in good use singing in a yellow dress with violins surrounding her about the love that matters. Yes, she is turning into a quite a pro I must admit!

Martina is one of those ageless superstars who make it sound oh so easy. She looked great on her suit and could run the catwalk with any teen model around. I think she looked much better yesterday than last time on her funky baby-doll dress on the CMT awards!

I’m not going to forget my dreamy guys! Brooks & Dunn had another power moment on stage singing about God and nobody has a voice like Ronnie Dunn! I saw some teary eyes in the audience while he was letting it all out.

Maybe the worst sequence in this whole show was to put Jason Aldean on stage right after Brooks & Dunn. I know it was quite a transformation from the gospel to rock-a-billy in a snap to listen Jason singing “oh yeah, baby..”

More star power showed up presenting. Montgomery & Gentry got their moment looking as good and unique as ever. From the Young Hunks category trio Jason Carroll (wow, is he short!), Idol-wannabe Bucky Covington in his ripped jeans and some mama’s boy who actually had a tie on. Another one I had to dig out, this guy was Luke Bryan.

Big & Rich did their party thing wearing some fur, I take it these guys do not belong to a PETA? Brad Paisley had the whole marching band on the audience and got a little help again on stage from Taylor Swift and Kellie Pickler. It is good to know that he is madly in love his own wife (who was also presenting by the way).

Kellie Pickler got to sing too and she has transformed to a great performer! She loves to play with her look and this latest polkacut hairstyle suits her very nicely! Alison Krauss looked fragile and Celtic and hit those high notes like only she can, another killer performance. My husband told me she is putting him to sleep though, not very party like song.

Then the Eagles. They showed up, they had their guitars, their old style nothing fancy clothes and stiff necks. They stood on a stage, no extra effects, just good old swinging music mixed to some legendary voices. I’d lie if I’d say that I’ll be running to the store to buy their album today but nevertheless they did sound good.

Rascal Flatts are making their group category quite boring, this was their 5th win in a row! They still do not comb their hair or look trim but year after year they come up with some amazing songs. It seems like most of those guys are in a tight leash and they did thank their wife’s plenty. Not to worry, none of them is turning me on at all..

If someone SHOULD worry that might be the girl who is married to Josh Turner. Well, she is smart enough to play in his band to keep drooling fans at bay! Josh jammed his newest Firecracker song and only thing he is missing is a cowboy hat. I just cannot get enough of him.

And while we are in the sexy guys category Keith Urban made it this time. I don’t think I’ve ever seen his hair that clean or him so happy looking. I take it that the rehab actually worked. I saw a photo of him and Nicole on the red carpet and Nicole was a show stopping gorgeous as always. Good for them!

Leann Rimes appeared presenting looking like a cat-woman with some ugly oneshoulder number. Thankfully she changed before her performance! Leann made a joke about not being arrested and counting years she has been in the business. Not everyone was laughing.

One of the highlights on stage was Reba dueting with Leann. Reba is taking over Dolly in the duet side and no wonder her duet CD went platinum in a hurry.

Sugarland. Jennifer looked like she just woke up with her hair standing up. But it really does not matter because she is all legs and sings the way that any guy would want to stay. I was surprised that his guitarist partner thanked his wife, I always thought he was swinging the other way..

Rodney Adkins got his signature worn out cap in place and was all homey and handsome singing about his people. He would be a perfect fit advertising John Deere, boy, does he look fit in a teeshirt and those jeans!

Sheryl Crow and Sara Evans were other stunning beauties strutting their behinds in the presenting side. Sheryl seems to be over the cancer scare, she was absolutely glowing yesterday.

Rhinestone Cowboy got a tribute from Dwight Yoakam, he is my winner this year for the tightest jeans category. Have you seen his latest video, I think he is dancing quite funky simply because his jeans do not give!

The night ended with a bang. And I do not mean the fact that Kenny Chesney won the Entertainer of the Year title. I mean his pants! What happened to his jeans that show his spectacular behind?? I get it that he is trying to change but please, I know I got many voters behind me to make his jeans to show up in the future! My husband loves Kenny’s “Don’t Blink” song and yes, there is plenty truth behind those lyrics.

Overall it was an awesome show and I’m glad it was not about the politics or any other issues than music like it should! Everyone seem happy to be there and I could sense genuine friendship amongst most artists. I was bit surprised not to see Tim McGraw or Faith Hill in the line up and not so surprised about the absence of Toby Keith. But then again, there will be many other Award Shows to come….

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45 Days in County Jail

Day 16-May 12, 2007

Breakfast was back on time this morning and arrived at 6:30 am. It was bread, oatmeal, peanut butter, jelly, milk and Kool-aid. After breakfast I went back to sleep and had a very interesting dream. The longer I stay in here the weirder my dreams get.

I woke up at 10 am when cleaning started. The crew was in a rush today thankfully since I don’t like to spend my entire day in my cell. By lunch they had finished all of the rooms and common areas.

When I was out of jail I didn’t get hungry but now that I am here I am hungry all of the time. I know that it’s simply boredom but that doesn’t stop my stomach from rumbling.

They are doing haircuts today and a lot of women signed up to get theirs cut. I am gonna pass and just wait until I go home to get my haircut. They are using clippers to cut hair and I’m not sure how well that is gonna work out for some of these girls but they don’t seem to care. I braided some of “A’s” hair last night and when we got out of our cells people were going crazy asking me to braid theirs. “A” and I were discussing our rooms at home and talking about beds. Strangely enough we have the exact same bunk beds at home. She shares hers with her son while I share mine with my niece.

We got out at 11:30 am for lunch and it was chili, beans, bread, bananas, and Kool-aid. After lunch we stayed out until 12:45 pm. We were watching a movie although we missed the end and the beginning. The middle was really good though.

At 4 pm we were let out for dinner. It was hot dogs (again), sliced potatoes, applesauce, salad and Kool-aid. After dinner there was a huge fight in the conference room. Three women jumped another woman (the loudest most annoying one here) and about 15-20 other women got involved in the fight. The fight resulted in six people getting lock back and three people getting new charges. I have never seen as many officers as ran in here today. By my count there were 23 officers in the pod including some of the high-ranking officers. The officer on duty tonight got injured (not seriously) because she didn’t wait for backup and tried to run in and stop the fight. She is fine but was really shaken up.

We got put back into our rooms early tonight at 5:30 pm because of the noise levels. Visitation was also tonight and 19 girls got visits.

We got back out of our cells at 9:15 pm. When we got back out of our cells the women were all in a crazy mood. They watched Showtime at the Apollo and were singing and dancing. Tonight was one of the officers last night and they serenaded her and made her a card. At 10:45 we were locked back and “A” and I sat up talking and looking out the window until 1 am. We finally went to sleep and the night will be short before…day 17.

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42nd Street Forever, Volume 4: Cooled by Refergeration Grindhouse Movie Trailer Review

Ah, the movie trailer. Much like everything else in Hollywood, it seems like the studios can no longer produce fun, exciting, good trailers that don’t give away all the good bits. On the other hand, I love exploitation trailers for JUST that reason – their ability to take two hours of tits, explosions, murder, blood and gore and hyper compress it down to two minutes, a distillation of mayhem injected directly into your eyeball.

If you’ve seen my reviews for the other volumes of 42nd Street Forever, you pretty much know what you are going to get here: a ton of trailers showing off the best hard core, soft core, horror, suspense, Women-in-prison, action, low budget science fiction, monsters and raunchy comedy films ever to grace the sleazy silver screen. There’s badly dubbed Italian sword and sandal, cannibalism and hookers and kickboxing and tits and bad comedy and teen comedy and monsters. In short, everything you could want from a grindhouse trailer compilation!

Since there are way too many flicks here to discuss, and way too many movies here I’ve not seen (or not seen in decades), I’ll just touch on some of the highlights of the disc

The best trailer on the disc, and winner of the “Why is this not on DVD” award is the classic Italian post apoplectic sword and sandal flick Yor, Hunter from the Future. Just this short clip brings back a flood of warm cheesy memories from my HBO watching days. And believe me, the movie is a thousand times better (worse?) than the trailer makes it out to be.

Speaking of HBO, In God We Tru$t was a cable staple in the eighties, a religious satire starring Marty Feldman, Andy Kaufman, Louise Lasser and Richard Pryor as God. The movie, as I recall was meh but the trailer was better.

Included on the disc was the missing in action Let’s Scare Jessica to Death, which was strangely left off of Paramount’s bare bones DVD release. It’s hard to say with todays sensibilities, but the trailer almost assuredly wet some pants in the 1971 audiences, because it’s still a effective trailer today.

Then you get a double header of documentary life horror, first with the trailer for the classic The Legend of Boggy Creek (a Bigfoot “documentary” with an unlikely G rating) and one of the most memorable drive in flicks of the seventies: The Town that Dreaded Sundown

Rounding out the horror highlights of the disc is 1981’s Mortuary, featuring an amazingly young Bill Paxton. Mortuary was a Vestron Video classic in rental places back in the eighties (Back when you wanted to rent porn, you had to walk through the swinging bar-room doors). The movie is not that scary, but the trailer was pure schlock.

What about bikesploitation? How about some bikers? We’ve got you covered with very young Michael Biehn in Hog Wild, a Canadian flick were some bikers harass a school, and The Hard Heads, a spectacularly bad flick with a pretty fun trailer.

Meanwhile Americathon has the later John Ritter, Harvey Korman, Fred Willard and Meat Loaf (in a fight to the death with a car), in a strangely prophetic flick about the collapse of the American economy and the death of the auto industry (Billion dollar bailout, anyone?). I only vaguely remember the movie, but the trailer is great stuff.

For completeness sake, here is a complete list of trailers included on 42nd Street Forever, Volume Four:
* The Syndicate: a Death in the Family
* Combat Cops (AKA The Zebra Killer)
* It Came Without Warning
* No Blade of Grass
* Yor: Hunter from the Future
* Simon, King of the Witches
* The Psychic
* Schizoid
* Tender Flesh (AKA Welcome to Arrow Beach)
* Die Sister, Die
* Slient Scream
* New Years Evil
* Lets Scare Jessica to Death
* Mortuary
* Humongous
* The Werewolf versus the Vampire Woman
* Embryo
* The Boogeyman
* The Legend of Boggy Creek
* The Town that Dreaded Sundown
* Gray Eagle
* Shadow of the Hawk
* Rituals
* Americathon
* Can I Do It … Till I need Glasses?
* Die Laughing
* In God We Trust
* The Undercover Hero (Not Peter Seller’s best moment)
* The Jezebels (better known as Switchblade Sisters)
* Breaking Point
* Fighting Mad
* Moving Violation
* Bonnies Kids
* Walking Tall
* The Klansman (Starring OJ Simpson. Wowza!)
* Monkey Hustle
* The Soldier
* Blackout (AKA New York Blackout)
* Shout at the Devil
* March or Die
* The Love and Times of Scaramouche
* Hog Wild
* The Hard Heads
* The Chicken Chronicals
* Best Friends
* Our Winning Season
* Coach
* Goldengirl

THE DVD –
Considering what these film prints probably went through over the last forty years, anyone expecting a gorgeous looking disc has another think coming. True to the grindhouse nature of the content, we get scratches, cigarette burns and abrupt jump cuts galore. That said, 42nd Street Forever still looks pretty good. The trailers are presented either windowboxed and/or matted into an anamorphic 1.78:1 widescreen format as appropriate.

THE EXTRAS –
While one wouldn’t think that there’d be a lot of room for extras on a trailer compilations disc (and I mean in the metaphysical sense, not a disc space sense), you’d be dead wrong. Back for a second go-round are Fangoria editor Michael Gingold, AVManiacs.com editor Edwin Samuelson, and film historian Chris Poggiali to lay it all out in an audio commentary throughout the whole disc. And these guys know their shit, full of crazy information and trivia that even the hard core watcher will not know.

We also get a handful of television spots: Blackout, Jackson County Jail, Superchick Thunder and Lightning and The Junkman. Synapse even included an insert with the box art as a true 42nd Street style poster, complete with wrinkles and creases, and even an NSS number. Top marks all around.

THE BOTTOM LINE –
While trailer compilations have been around for decades now, I’ve not come across any that do it better than Synapse. Their 42nd Street Forever range is brilliant, and this disc just continues that trend. A must have if you’re at all a fan of schlock and drive in flicks.

Tags:42nd Street Forever, Volume 4: Cooled by Refergeration Grindhouse Movie Trailer Review

49 Up Tv Series Review

The seventh installment in the 7 Up series finds the participants aged 49, dealing with second marriages, disability pensions and grandchildren. The first documentary (and only film not directed by Apted) followed a group of seven year olds from diverse socioeconomic backgrounds, using the mantra “give me the child at seven and I will give you the man”.

The appeal of the 7 Up series is the way the film, spanning forty years in seconds, proves and disproves this prediction, one participant at a time. Reticent and refined little Suzy at seven has curbed her desire for an upper-class upbringing for her children, though her withering glance remains the same. Fast talking Tony still has more energy than a Pomeranian, though his fervour is now channeled into Spanish real estate. But it is the enduring favorite of the series, Neil, who is the most heartbreaking and enigmatic of the original children. He is the seven year old skipping down the street, his eyes lighting up as he talks about wanting to be an astronaut when he grows up. At 21, Neil was living in a squat and by 28, he was homeless. At 49 he remains disconcertingly honest in his conversations with Apted.

It’s easy to identify with the subjects of 49 Up, the pretentious John just as much as the straight-talking Jackie. I found myself, at 26, sighing along with Bruce the maths teacher (who finally found love at 42) as he ends his segment by saying, “sometimes your dreams just run alongside your life, they’re just not part of it.” Apted admitted that in preparing to make 42 Up, he was afraid that the series would stagnate, that his subjects would have hit a time of their lives where nothing happened again. How wrong he was. The pathos of this film is fascinating, not least because the subjects, at times resentful of the film’s intrusion, remain so endearing. They’ve known Apted since childhood, and there’s a resigned opening up to their response to his intrusion into their lives. This is played out to greatest effect in Apted’s interviews with the often defensive Jackie, one of the three girls.

As their faces soften and harden over the years, the subjects of 49 Up bravely attempt to answer the filmmaker’s questions about how they’ve lived and their remaining hopes for the future, impossible as they may appear. The result is a beautiful, saddening film that makes you wonder how the series was ever labeled as a precursor to Big Brother.

Tags:49 Up Tv Series Review

4/6 DWTS Elimination: Prediction of Who Will Be Eliminated Week 3 "DWTS"

Elimination for 4/6 “Dancing with the Stars” has everyone wondering who will be going home on tonight’s show. Last week Shannen Doherty was sent home, surprising viewers. Though it’s near impossible to nail down who’s fan base is more supportive in calling in votes, we can have fun in guessing what will happen! Check out predictions for DWTS 4/6 possible eliminations.

DWTS 4/6 Elimination – Who May be Safe

Buzz is charming and can moon walk his way into the hearts of fans. If he goes home, it will be a good one or two more shows before he’s on the bottom of the scoreboard. He’s fun and inspiring to many people. His dance last night was the lowest score being 13/30. If he stays on, it will prove how loyal Americans really are in saluting those putting themselves in danger for our country.

Kate Gosselin can’t dance, but she holds drama for the show. Her longevity on the show will speak volumes about her fan base. Her dance last night earned her a score of 15/30 – second lowest score. Again, the judges weren’t impressed, in spite of the fact her partner, Tony, brought in an acting coach!

Pam Anderson is a wild card. She can really perform and wins Bruno over in her dances. Being an actress, Pam can dance well no matter what is thrown at her. We’ll see how devoted her fans are in calling in to keep her on all season.

Niecy Nash is a confident addition to the show and represents the average woman. Her motto of keeping her “jiggly parts” and wanting to “gain weight” on the show is refreshing to viewers. Her attitude alone may just keep from the chopping block.

DWTS 4/6 Elimination – Speculations
What about Chad and Cheryl? Chad has been considered the diamond in the rough. Jake and Chelsie? Does Jake have the popularity to hold him through a good part of the season? He’s a new celebrity, relatively speaking.

Then there’s Erin and Maks. Will Erin be distracted by the unfortunate incident of having death threats made against her? Will she have a surprising number of viewers calling in now that she’s enduring another stalker? Aiden Turner was criticized by judges for being disjointed in his technique. Judges noted marked improvement in his moves last night. What will his daytime fans do to support him?

Nicole and Derek are great together and it’s hard to determine how they will play out. They may tie with Evan Lysacek and Anna, who got the highest scores during last night’s performance. If they have the viewer votes, both will be on until the final episode.

So, who will be eliminated on 4/6 “DWTS” Tuesday night? One thing for certain is the unexpected happens this season. If Buzz doesn’t leave, be prepared for Chad or Aiden facing elimination. If Jake doesn’t go this week, he may be voted off next week.

Source: Personal Prediction
ABC “Dancing with the Stars”

Tags:4/6 DWTS Elimination: Prediction of Who Will Be Eliminated Week 3 “DWTS”

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