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Movie Review: Righteous Kill

If you’ve never heard of this movie, it’s worthy of renting or buying just based on the fact that you have two star performers, De Niro and Pacino. Midst the bad reviews by critics everywhere, I felt that these two performers have not only been in the entire guns blazing movies before, but they knew how to act the parts.
And indeed, the script wasn’t some Oscar winning beauty, but the two played the parts of detectives that didn’t take any crap as well as they play any other parts. The story itself wasn’t spectacularly original (and given the remakes in the past couple years, there shouldn’t catch anyone by surprise) and the plot twist was pretty predictable. Outside of those little things, you do get caught up in these two detectives looking for a vigilante that is out to take out those bad guys when justice didn’t prevail.
I found that the movie was actually decent and while it teetered on the entire … is it a B-rated film that I would be watching on a weekend off of the tube, I think that I’ve definitely seen worse when it comes to movies.
And who could not love this Righteous Kill tagline?
“Some respect the badge. Everybody respects the gun.”

Netflix interface for hardware devices could be better

Netflix, Inc. I absolutely adore Netflix. I mean, come on. This is one single company that I had fallen in love with before I became a shareholder.
And they’ve continued to surprise me time and again. Even as times are tough, Netflix has a great subscription base where it allows you to change the next months to whatever plan you wish. If it’s a lesser plan, they don’t send you DVDs until you return enough from your greater plan to actually meet the lesser.
But here’s the one single qualm I have with them. I’m not sure the reasoning behind it, and I hope that it’s just a timing issue or something, but it seems that the API that they give to the hardware players are just lacking. Take for example, Roku. The Roku player is wonderful and I absolutely adore the fact that I can watch streaming movies right there from my Netflix account. But the ability to add and browse movie selections from even just the Watch Instantly is entirely useful but nonexistent.
That small piece of the puzzle would turn Netflix into a content provider and promote hardware partnerships. It’s great if they have these companies that are willing to take just the Queue, but there’s so much more potential behind it.
I’m hoping that this interfacing at some point will be released to the hardware partners. I for one, will continue to be a customer, shareholder, and fan as long as they treat me right like they always have.

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IKEA Charlotte Grand opening weekend

IKEA Charlotte Ever since I knew about IKEA opening in Charlotte, I’ve been waiting… patiently, for the day to come.
And I wasn’t the only one that went during the grand opening. Believe me, the place was packed. Traffic was backed over the bridge, although it flowed at a decent pace into the parking lot. IKEA had hired ASIG security I believe to help control the flow of people. We actually got lucky and got directed into the empty spaces in the employee lot, so we were very close to the storefront. And if you don’t know how to get there, just take Highway 52 down and keep going until you get to exit 43. You can’t miss Ikea Blvd. It took us about fifty minutes or so to get there which was actually pretty great.
IKEA Charlotte Having been to the one in Seattle, I knew what to expect, but I have to say that it’s a blessing in disguise for those that like a little bit more modern looking furniture when you’re so close to the furniture capital of the world. And it’s cheap. Not in the materials, but in price. The packaging is absolutely great too since they try to pack in as much as possible as not to waste. It’s brilliant design. Any Black Belt would be proud to work here seeing how optimized towards business this place is from design of environment, to packaging, to even how the cafe is managed. It was all about flow of traffic. You’re pretty much guided through all of the show rooms by how it’s set up. Just like a herd of sheep. Not a bad thing, but bring your good walking shoes. It’s like going to Disneyland for Homewares.
IKEA Charlotte There are two floors. The second floor is mainly showroom areas where you can walk through and see different types of rooms and furnishings. It’s not everything for your home, but it’s pretty dang close. I bought a chest of drawers for $149USD since I didn’t have one. Any other packaging would have not fit in my trunk, but those actually did with no tie downs. Anywhere else, you’d be looking at easily $250-450 for the same (assembly took three hours with two people, but it was still worth it). Everything is pretty much hands on there in the showrooms. You can check out what you want, write it down, and pick it up at the self-serve furniture area later. What’s also great is that they have a couple complete furnished homes (European style, although it’d fit right in with say a NYC condo) where it was 270 sq ft, and 590 sq ft. The neat thing about this, is that it basically demonstrated that you could in small living spaces create a beautiful living quarters with the things they sold. And it was very functional and practical.
There was a cafe there for the weary and tired, and the food was pretty good. But definitely not the highlight of the place although it was a wonderful value-add.
IKEA Charlotte The lower floors consisted of a daycare (that’s right, you can drop off your little ones), home goods, the self-serve furniture area, and checkout along with a bistro where you can buy drinks or Swedish foods and such to take home. Again, the flow of the area was what you had to pay attention to since it was extremely optimized towards guiding you throughout the entirety of the store, but it didn’t limit you in one single area. This particular store employs over 450+ employees and you could definitely tell that it needed every man and woman.
I’ll definitely be coming back since there’s several bedroom and office items that I have to replace to fit my smaller room. But it goes to show that even in these economics, there are players out there that know when to capitalize. If you can provide decent goods for a great price, that’s where it’s a win-win situation between the consumer and the vendor. Well done, on the grand opening, IKEA. You had me captured in your store for at least four hours and I’ll be coming back to spend more time for sure.
Photo Credit: (firelace)

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Movie Review: Dead Space: Downfall

Of most American animation, most are pretty… dreary. At least for those of us that actually watch anime a lot since it really just comes off as a Justice League sort of feel.
But when it came right down to it, Dead Space: Downfall was actually one of the better done short animation films. This basically was the preface of the actual game, Dead Space, and gave the story line all the way up to the beginning of that game.
There’s probably not too much reason to go directly into the story arc, but it’s for the most part a science fiction space zombie type approach. It’s not as cheesy as I make it sound either, since there’s tremendous gore involved and the actual voice acting isn’t half bad at all.
The one thing that I probably would have loved better? If they had asked Madhouse Studios to do the animation. Those of us that actually watch the genre actually know that Madhouse is pretty much king when it comes to all things gore in animation. And they do it fantastically well. But outside of that little bit? I actually found this movie to be enjoyable and totally threw me a little bit. Maybe I’ve just been spoiled by the high quality animation from the Japanese studios.

Locales need to capitalize on recession opportunity

Winston-Salem, North Carolina

Image via Wikipedia

The “R” word is terrible and no one wants to talk about it. Yes, the word called “recession“.
But truthfully? I see it as a boon. A blessing in disguise for cities like those in the Triad. If only they would take that chance. Here’s the one big thing that I see happening. In any other type of boom time, smaller cities cannot compete with larger ones when it comes to attracting well educated young professionals. Heck, any professional. For one, the opportunities are not there, as well as the fact that you just can’t compete based on cost of living. If people made six figures, then they’ll continue to want to make six figures and big cities are where it’s at when it comes to opportunities as such.
But when times are tough, people tend to migrate where it is affordable. They are less likely to be choosy about salaries or positions when having a job matters more. And in that area, these smaller cities are in a position to begin their build out and growth.
The way I look at it? Larger corporations are creating the attrition so larger populace areas become red zones for job opportunities. In that sense, people will want to go where the jobs are (usually smaller corporations). If the locales actually produced incentives to create jobs, this would in turn bring in more job-seeking professionals which would in-turn grow out the city.
I’ll put it into perspective here. Five words.
More people equals more taxes.
And that’s a big deal. That means more funding for more of everything else. Personally, I’m actually baffled at why we keep chasing biotech and nanotech here in the Triad unless they’re extremely niche markets in those fields. Mainly because there are major cities at play in both industries and from purely a funding perspective, you get out-played ten to one. Chase the industries that you have already around, like shipping, warehousing, engineering, and even IT would be a more generic play. Small businesses is where it’s at and to become the driving force that creates jobs? Greensboro, Winston-Salem, and High Point all have the potential to reach for the stars. It’s time that we start moving these cities into the next level and quit sitting around while these professionals flock elsewhere. It’s an opportunity of a lifetime, and we might miss out on a way to capitalize on this in a way that could possibly make this area the next best place to live.

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iTunes Saturday

Apple iTunes

Local Kia dealer crazy with two for one deal

Kia

Image by FadderUri via Flickr

Okay. I just saw tonight on the SciFi channel that Time Warner was doing some local commercials for Carolina Kia. Now, things must be going bad for inventory of cars or …. there’s just some crazy things going on trying to get people to get in to the lots. Either way though, this has got to be one of the best deals I’ve ever heard of. If I was actually in the market for a SUV or a minivan, I would actually consider it.
I’ve heard of two-for-one deals for food, and I’ve heard about them for toiletries, but never for vehicles. Basically, if you buy a Sorrento or a Sedona, you can get a Rio for free (excluding taxes and tags).
Funny thing is that tonight, I had the same thing (paying taxes on a free appetizer) happen. In any case, I didn’t actually see this deal on their website which sort of means that whoever is doing their website should actually update with the latest deals. Not sure how long this deal is going to last either, but I think this is the first time I’ve actually seen the commercial so you’ll have a little bit of time to act if you’re looking to make that large purchase.
Just something crazy that I’ve never seen so I figured I’d throw it out there if people were interested.

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Marvin Gaye for Valentine’s Day

Courtesy of Amazon MP3 Today and Saturday only (2/13/09, 2/14/09), you can bring the soothing voice of Marvin Gaye into your loved one’s life with a little “Let’s Get It On”.
For Free.
This promotion from Amazon is only good until the clock strikes 12AM Saturday night Pacific time, so get your free song now! Of course, if you happen to want to shop a little further… no one’s stopping you there either. It’s all for love… wait.. that’s someone else’s song.

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Movie Review: Traitor

Don Cheadle in this movie is… absolutely amazing. Like seriously, this was one of those thrillers that expressed how devout Muslims are to their religion, but also how some fight for their cause. Traitor held my attention the entire time without once letting go and I would probably give that entire credit to Cheadle’s character.
While this is fiction, I would totally recommend this movie to anyone that wants to see the inner workings and politics of a terrorism group and how one man’s belief can tear down the walls of any insanity. This movie defines the negative portrayal of Muslims in the west and tries to break that stereotype in showing that there is a difference between radical religion and religion.

Not understanding bailout politics

WASHINGTON - JANUARY 21: U.S. Sen. Charles Sch...

Image by Getty Images via Daylife

Here’s the deal. Where exactly are these bailouts going? I think that overall, Washington is missing the point of the matter. We keep bolstering large corporate structures to “provide, provide, provide” with lower interest rates, better loans, and everything.
But the real problem? Before, the problem was half the problem of the lenders by giving out “toxic” loans, and the other half were borrowers that were getting into loans they couldn’t afford or could barely afford. That’s an issue of financial responsibility.
Now the problem has changed. It was complicated before, but it’s even more so now because the effect is shown with the stock market and how corporations are responding. With unemployment at a high and layoff forecasts not getting any better in the short term, the Treasury and the federal government needs to stop a second and take a look at the big picture.
Our president has come out and said that the stimulus will be judged by job creation, but I just don’t see that happening. Technology is one of the movers and shakers of Wall Street and if you view just that category specifically, most large technology corporations are all in a hiring freeze and dropping serious attrition numbers in both last quarter and this quarter. This in turn will start the vicious cycle of having consumers stop “consuming” which will put them in a savings mode and thus break down retail. At this point? A tax credit for homebuyers isn’t going to cut it, nor will tax cuts. Let’s face the awful fact:
You can’t take advantage of the best sale in the world, if you have no money in your wallet.
And that’s the crisis that we Americans face, as do many others globally. A consumer culture meltdown with billions of taxpayer dollars thrown at the wrong areas. Tax cuts don’t work, mainly because to pay taxes? You have to actually be employed and something actually is going into your wallet from the sweat equity. So when House Speaker Pelosi is criticizing the Senate (whom is also pushing tax cuts) on cutting the money to build schools, I have to wonder what exactly the House Speaker is pushing. I mean, it’s a stimulus plan to help Americans back on their feet, not a “build our future” plan. The fact that the Democrats are pushing for these pet projects on this bill just sickens me.
While I’m thinking about it, the Republicans criticizing the current stimulus plan are not out of the hot seat either. Why? Most of these politicians are the same ones from before the White House administration change. Less we forget, the last bailout plan had a bunch of pet projects that didn’t support the so-called “small businesses are being hurt” type defense. No one is paying here, except really the taxpayers that are fearing for their jobs, or cannot find a replacement.
In the end, the solution to the problem is to provide financial stability to consumers. That means job creation, or perhaps grants or funds to help small businesses expand. Until you put money in the wallets of your taxpayers, they can’t pay taxes nor can they stimulate consumerism. And isn’t that what the entire toxic loans were all about? We just need to address the problems in a LIFO perspective and work backwards as each issue is solved. That’s the only way to ever get out of this mess.

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