Category Archives: Pronouncements

frap

Ordering a Low-Sugar Frappuccino: The Impossible Dream?

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Starbucks:  You are leaving money on the table.  Luckily, I’m here to help.  I’m talking about the steadfast way you ignore your many customers who are trying to reduce the sugar in their diets.  I’m one of them.  I absolutely love me a Venti Mocha Frappuccino, but ordered as is, the sugar content in it would probably render me unconscious.  I want to order the lowest-sugar version of this lovely treat that I can.  But, because your baristas collectively have zero clue about sugar as an ingredient, every time I try to do this, it’s a frustrating ordeal.

 

The first problem is that your lovely employees don’t know how to distinguish between low sugar and low fat.  Just today while I was waiting for my custom-ordered frappe (“Light syrup.  Light base.”), the manager turned to me and said, “So, for that skinny mocha frappe, what kind of milk did you want?”

 

Uh, no.  Even I know that in Starbucksland, “Skinny” means low fat.  I never said low fat.  In fact, I asked for whole milk and whipped cream.  I’m not afraid of the fat.  I’m trying to reduce the sugar.

 

I’m never confident that I’m getting the lowest-sugar version of the Mocha Frappuccino, no matter how many times I order it.  Sometimes the manager tells me to ask for “light base.”  Sometimes the manager tells me to ask for “light syrup.”  Which is it, my dudes?

 

The answer is so simple.  PUT A LOW SUGAR FRAPPUCCINO ON THE MENU.  There.  Done.  Add it to the list of drinks your employees learn to make.  Then my low-sugar caffeine addict friends and I will know how to order it.  And, hopefully, your baristas will get clear on how to make it.  We’ll all waste less time talking about it; you’ll move the line along more quickly, sell more drinks and everybody wins.

 

Starbucks, you are in the business of selling complicated overpriced caffeine drinks to urban people willing to pay for them.  Understanding and owning what the ingredients of these drinks are is sort of your job.  Do it better.  You’re welcome.frap

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moonlight

2016 Movie Awards

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The Year’s Best Films

  1. Moonlight
    Beautiful, unexpected coming of age triptych
  2. Hidden Figures
    Exhilarating corrective racial history lesson
  3. The Witch
    Horrifying depiction of religious madness
  4. La La Land
    Candy-colored L.A. fantasia
  5. Tickled
    Jaw-dropping mystery documentary with an authentically juicy villain
  6. OJ: Made in America
    Titanic use of the documentary form
  7. Arrival
    A rare smart science fiction movie!
  8. The Handmaiden
    A fever-dream of sex, deception and betrayal
  9. Manchester By the Sea
    A very pure and heartfelt portrait of grief
  10. Midnight Special
    Forget Loving. THIS was the GOOD Jeff Nichols movie this year.

Honorable Mention:

The Nice Guys

The Wave [Norway]

Train to Busan

10 Cloverfield Lane

Don’t Think Twice

Eye in the Sky

Sing Street

Green Room

The Invitation

Love and Friendship

Hell or High Water

In Order of Disappearance [Norway]

Lion

Indignation

Perfectly Enjoyable

Barbershop:  The Next Cut

Edge of Seventeen

Tallulah

The Duelist [Russia]

The Meddler

Everybody Wants Some!!

Finding Dory

Ghostbusters

Don’t Breathe

The Shallows

De Palma

Women He’s Undressed

Becoming Mike Nichols

Sully

Lo and Behold:  Reveries of the Connected World

Blue Jay

Actor

Denzel Washington, Fences

Vincent Lindon, The Measure of a Man [France]

*Casey Affleck, Manchester-By-The Sea

Ryan Gosling, La La Land

Honorable Mention:  John Goodman, 10 Cloverfield Lane; Ralph Ineson, The Witch

Actress

Viola Davis, Fences

Min-hee Kim, The Handmaiden

Taraji P. Henson, Hidden Figures

Isabelle Huppert, Elle

*Annette Bening, 20th Century Women

Honorable Mention:  Anya Taylor-Joy, The Witch; Natalie Portman, Jackie; Ruth Negga, Loving; Hailee Steinfeld, Edge of Seventeen; Sally Field, Hello My Name is Doris; Meryl Streep, Florence Foster Jenkins; Kate Beckinsale, Love and Friendship

Supporting Actor

Tracy Letts, Indignation

Sunny Pawar, Lion

Russell Hornsby, Fences

Jeff Bridges, Hell or High Water

*Mahershala Ali, Moonlight

Honorable Mention:  Tom Bennett, Love and Friendship; Gil Birmingham, Hell or High Water; Simon Helgberg, Florence Foster Jenkins; Ashton Sanders, Moonlight

Supporting Actress

Michelle Williams, Manchester-By-The-Sea

*Naomie Harris, Moonlight

Kate Dickie, The Witch

Molly Shannon, Other People

Octavia Spencer, Hidden Figures

Director

*Barry Jenkins, Moonlight

Robert Eggers, The Witch

Chan-wook Park, The Handmaiden

Damien Chazelle, La La Land

Denis Villeneuve, Arrival

Documentary

City of Gold

Tickled

Presenting Princess Shaw

The Eagle Huntress

Thirteenth

*OJ: Made in America

Animated Feature

Zootopia

Kubo and the Two Strings

*The Red Turtle

Foreign language feature

*The Handmaiden (South Korea)

Train to Busan (South Korea)

The Wave (Norway)

In Order of Disappearance (Norway)

The Duelist (Russia)

Cinematography

Café Society (Vittorio Storaro)

*Nocturnal Animals (Seamus McGarvey)

La La Land (Linus Sandgren)

Moonlight (James Laxton)

The Handmaiden (Chung-hoon Chung)

Production Design

*La La Land (David Wasco, Sandy Reynolds-Wasco)

Hidden Figures (Wynn Thomas)

The Witch (Craig Lathrop)

The Handmaiden (Seong-hie Ryu)

Costume Design

*La La Land (Mary Zophres)

Hidden Figures (Renee Ehrlich Kalfus)

The Handmaiden (Sang-gyeong Jo)

Funniest

Deadpool

*Office Christmas Party

Sausage Party

Neighbors 2

People who need to be a bigger deal

T.J. Miller, who was so terrific in Deadpool and Office Christmas Party

Anya Taylor-Joy (The Witch)

Gil Birmingham, low-key but irresistible in Hell or High Water

Jerrod Carmichael (The Meddler, Neighbors 2)

Blake Jenner (Everybody Wants Some!!, Edge of Seventeen)

Glen Powell (Everybody Wants Some!!, Hidden Figures)

Mahershala Ali (Moonlight, Hidden Figures)

Writer/Director Jeremy Saulnier, whose film Green Room was the thriller of the year

Writer/Director Mike Birbiglia, who showed amazing growth between his first feature (Sleepwalk With Me from 2012) to this year’s Don’t Think Twice

Jenny Slate, so good in Zootopia and My Blind Brother

Best Sly Casting Joke

Tom Everett Scott in La La Land.  Think about his resume and you’ll get it.

Best performance as a lesbian taco

Salma Hayek in Sausage Party

Best Performance by a former game of thrones actor

Kate Dickie in The Witch

Country whose movies need more viewers and awards and stuff

South Korea.  If you’re not going to South Korean movies these days, you are really missing out.

what the  actual @*^ do they have to do to win a freaking oscar?

Annette Bening

John Goodman

Guilty Pleasures

Hardcore Harry

Office Christmas Party

Best Thriller

Green Room

Best Mystery

Tickled

But At least it looked good.  right?

Warcraft

Weirdest

The Lobster

Most reprehensively deceptive trailer

The Lobster

Underrated!

Sing Street

The Nice Guys

The Witch

Midnight Special

Best Extended dialog scene

Indignation:  Logan Lerman (college student) and Tracy Letts (Dean) spar in an increasingly odd and uncomfortable exchange.

Memorable lines

Moonlight:  “Ok. Let your head rest in my hand. Relax. I got you. I promise. I won’t let you go. Hey man. I got you. There you go. Ten Seconds. Right there. You in the middle of the world.”

The Witch:  “Did ye make some unholy bond with that goat?”

Hidden Figures:  “There are no colored bathrooms in this building, or any building outside the West Campus, which is half a mile away. Did you know that? I have to walk to Timbuktu just to relieve myself! And I can’t use one of the handy bikes. Picture that, Mr. Harrison. My uniform, skirt below the knees and my heels. And simple necklace pearls. Well, I don’t own pearls. Lord knows you don’t pay the colored enough to afford pearls! And I work like a dog day and night, living on coffee from a pot none of you want to touch! So, excuse me if I have to go to the restroom a few times a day.”

Zootopia:  “Fear ALWAYS works!”

Overrated

Jungle Book (sorry, everyone)

The Feel-bad movies of 2016

Weiner Dog

Nocturnal Animals

High-Rise

Just a hot mess

The Little Prince

Worst movies of 2016

Too Late

Goat

 

 

In Memoriam

The roster of performers and other show business types we lost in 2016 is absolutely overwhelming.  Feel free to skip this portion if you’ve run out of tears.  But here goes.  The purely objective short list of the losses that particular sadden me are at the top.

Alan Rickman

Maurice White

Harper Lee

Umberto Eco

Pat Conroy

Patty Duke

Gene Wilder

Edward Albee

Florence Henderson

Carrie Fisher

Debbie Reynolds

 

 

Pat Harrington, Jr.

David Bowie

Dan Haggerty

Glen Frey

Abe Vigoda

Vanity

George Gaines

Sonny James

Tony Burton

George Kennedy

George Martin

Keith Emerson

Phife Dawg

Garry Shandling

Jim Harrison

Eric Bauersfeld

Merle Haggard

Doris Roberts

Prince

Billy Paul

Guy Clark

Alan Young

Muhammad Ali

Theresa Saldana

Ron Lester

Anton Yelchin

Ralph Stanley

Bernie Whorrell

Michael Cimino

Noel Neill

Garry Marshall

David Huddleston

Pete Fountain

Barry Jenner

Kenny Baker

Fyvush Finkel

Steven Hill

Juan Gabriel

John Polito

Alexis Arquette

W.P. Kinsella

Curtis Hanson

Bill Nunn

Tommy Ford

Leonard Cohen

Robert Vaughn

Leon Russell

Holly Dunn

Sharon Jones

Ron Glass

Grant Lake

Grant Tinker

Joseph Mascolo

E.R. Braithwaite

Alan Thicke

Zsa Zsa Gabor

George Michael

Rickey Harris

Richard Adams

Barbara Tarbuck

William Christopher

 

 

PLEASE LEAVE COMMENTS!  I look forward to arguing with you!

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Ray’s 2015 Movie Awards!

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Best Films of the Year

1. Anomalisa. Such a clever movie, so moving. It made us look at the mundane realities of life with fresh eyes.
2. The Revenant. Stunning film craftsmanship.
3. Bridge of Spies. Best traditional movie of the year. A great history lesson for adults.
4. The Martian. Science wins!
5. The Hateful Eight. Lots of really really good talk by great actors.
6. Mad Max: Fury Road. More spectacular craftsmanship.
7. Brooklyn. It’s just sort of perfect.
8. Carol. Haunting and oh so beautiful.
9. Inside Out. Even Sadness can be the hero!
10. Room. Beautiful and horrifying adaptation of a beautiful and horrifying novel.
11. 99 Homes. Beautifully written and acted Faustian fable set during the housing market crisis.
Honorable Mention: Welcome to Me, The Big Short, Chi-Raq, Spotlight, The Truth, What We Do in the Shadows, Shaun the Sheep Movie, The Gift, Meet the Patels, Love and Mercy, Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation, While We’re Young, Far From the Madding Crowd, Predestination, Maps to the Stars, Love and Mercy, Matt Shepard is a Friend of Mine, 45 Years, White God, Straight Outta Compton, Creed
Won’t hurt you to watch if you’re interested in the movie: Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Five Flights Up, Spy, Trainwreck, Ricki and the Flash, Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation, The Walk, Drunk Stoned Brilliant Dead, The Final Girls, Labyrinth of Lies, Very Semi-Serious, Peggy Guggenheim: Art Addict, People Places Things, Joy, Hitchcock/Truffaut

Actress

Julianne Moore, Maps to the Stars
Charlize Theron, Mad Max: Fury Road
*Brie Larson, Room
Kristin Wiig, Welcome to Me
Cate Blanchett, Carol
Saoirse Ronan, Brooklyn
Honorable Mention: Teyona Parris in Chi-Raq, Maggie Smith in The Lady in the Van, Jennifer Lawrence in Joy, Cate Blanchett in The Truth, Charlotte Rampling in 45 Years, Jennifer Jason Leigh in Anomalisa, Bel Powley in The Diary of a Teenage Girl, Carey Mulligan in Far From the Madding Crowd, Lily Tomlin in Grandma

Actor

Leonardo DiCaprio, The Revenant
Matt Damon, The Martian
Michael Fassbender, Steve Jobs
Tom Hanks, Bridge of Spies
*Ian McKellan, Mr. Holmes
Honorable Mention: Jason Segel in The End of the Tour, Taika Waititi in What We Do in the Shadows, Andrew Garfield in 99 Homes, Michael B. Jordan in Creed

Supporting Actress

*Sarah Snook, Predestination
Rooney Mara, Carol
Jennifer Jason Leigh, The Hateful Eight
Honorable Mention: Elizabeth Banks in Love and Mercy

Supporting Actor

Michael Shannon, 99 Homes
*Mark Rylance, Bridge of Spies
Jacob Tremblay, Room
Samuel L. Jackson, The Hateful Eight
Walton Goggins, The Hateful Eight
Benicio Del Toro, Sicario

Director

Ridley Scott, The Martian
George Miller, Mad Max: Fury Road
Lenny Abrahamson, Room
Alejandro G. Iñárritu, The Revenant
Todd Haynes, Carol
*Charlie Kaufman and Duke Johnson, Anomalisa

Documentary Feature

Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief
The Wrecking Crew
An Honest Liar
The Best of Enemies
Being Evel
We Come as Friends
*Meet the Patels
Matt Shepard is a Friend of Mine
Honorable Mention: Very Semi-Serious, Peggy Guggenheim: Art Addict,

Screenplay

While We’re Young by Noah Baumbach. Really smart, wistful, and surprising.
Inside Out by Pete Docter, Ronnie Del Carmen, Meg LeFauve, Josh Cooley. One of the smartest kid movies I’ve ever seen.
The Gift by Joel Edgerton. A brilliant thriller for grownups.
Steve Jobs by Aaron Sorkin
Room by Emma Donoghue
Bridge of Spies by Matt Charman and the Coen Brothers
*Anomalisa by Charlie Kaufman
99 Homes by Ramin Bahrani, Amir Naderi and Bahareh Azimi

Cinematography

Charlotte Bruus Christensen, Far From the Madding Crowd
John Seale, Mad Max: Fury Road
Roger Deakins, Sicario
Janusz Kaminski, Bridge of Spies
*Emmanuel Lubezki, The Revenant
Edward Lachman, Carol
Joe Passarelli, Anomalisa

Editing

*Margaret Sixel, Mad Max: Fury Road

Production Design

The Martian
*Mad Max: Fury Road
Carol
The Hateful Eight
Anomalisa

Foreign Language Feature

Theeb
*Mustang
White God
Son of Saul

Best Adaptation of a Property I Love and Assumed Hollywood Didn’t Know About

Predestination: A stunning film version of Robert A. Heinlein’s classic time travel short story “All You Zombies.”

Creative Match Made in Heaven

Creepmeister director David Cronenberg and Hollywood Babylon scribe Bruce Webber teamed up for the acidic and irresistible Maps to the Stars.

A Year of Bio-Documentaries! So Many to Enjoy!

The Wrecking Crew. The story of the amazing studio musicians behind, as Joni Mitchell’s David Geffen would put it, “the popular song.”
An Honest Liar. The indispensable debunker James Randi.
The Best of Enemies. Gore Vidal vs. William F. Buckley, Jr.
Being Evel. Easy to forget how influential Evel Knievel was.

Best Movie Ever About a Pack of Dogs Taking Over The City of Budapest

White God

Underrated

Unfriended. Clever little horror film that takes place entirely on one computer screen.
Truth. Why did people hate this movie so much? I really liked it and I thought Cate Blanchett was sensational.

Busy Actors: I saw the following actors in THREE films this year

John Cusack: Love and Mercy, Chi-Raq, Maps to the Stars
David Thewlis: Macbeth, Legend, and Anomalisa (okay, you don’t actually SEE him in that one, but still)

Busier Actors: FOUR Movies in 2015!

Tom Hardy: Mad Max Fury Road, Legend, The Revenant, Child 44
Kristen Wiig: The Martian, Nasty Baby, The Diary of a Teenage Girl, Welcome to Me
Domhnall Gleeson: Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Ex Machina, The Revenant, Brooklyn

WOW: Five Releases in 2015!

Alicia Vikander, The Danish Girl, Ex Machina, Burnt, Testament of Youth, The Man From U.N.C.L.E.

A Word about Star Wars: The Force Awakens

It’s fun. It didn’t change my life. It’s a fun remake of the first movie. It was nice to sit through a Star Wars movie without wanting to jab knitting needles deep into both of my eyes. That said, it IS merely a redo. And it didn’t treat Leia very well. Or her relationship with Han. And Kylo Ren is a huge bore. And that Super Weapon was the stupidest weapon ever, and that’s saying something.

Great Set Pieces

Sneaking around the opera in Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation
The first Indian attack and the bear attack in The Revenant
That part in Mad Max: Fury Road right between the beginning and the end
Though the movie disappointed me, the dinner table confrontation at the end of Sicario was genuinely surprising and shocking.
Stop-action cunnilingus in Anomalisa.
The escape attempt in Room.
The final Canine/Human confrontation in White God.
The first eviction in 99 Homes.
What happens when you have an insane sheep dog in Far From the Madding Crowd.
Julianne Moore has a close encounter with an acting award in Maps to the Stars.
Judy and Matthew Shepard intervene in the sentencing process of one of the men who murdered their son Matthew in Matt Shepard is a Friend of Mine.

Proof That Ed Harris MUST GET A NEW AGENT

Run All Night. We love Ed Harris. Why does he appear in stuff like this?

Best Lines

“Werewolves, not Swearwolves.” Lycanthropic self-control in What We Do in the Shadows.
“Petyr’s 600 years old. He’s not coming to the breakfast meeting.” Apartment politics in What We Do in the Shadows.
“He wants more than he has. I want precisely what he already has.” The grass is always greener in The End of the Tour.
“Now, Daisy, I want us to work out a signal system of communication. When I elbow you real hard in the face, that means: shut up.” Kurt Russell gets physical in The Hateful Eight.
“Mars will come to fear my botany powers.” Matt Damon gets his agriculture on in The Martian.
“Let’s castrate.” Kristin Wiig takes her role as a source of enlightenment seriously in Welcome to Me.

Year’s Best Catch Phrase

“Would it help?” in Bridge of Spies.

The Year’s Single Greatest Cinematic Moment

Jennifer Lopez is given “a first edition” of THE ILIAD in the spectacular The Boy Next Door. This is also the film that features Kristin Chenoweth’s final transformation into E.T.

Biggest Turnarounds

Lenny Abrahamson directed one of the most obnoxious movies of 2014 (Frank) and then lo and behold made one of this year’s best: Room.
After years in Ray’s Doghouse, scrappy Jennifer Jason Leigh has finally re-arrived, valiantly doing heavy lifting in TWO of the year’s best films.

2015 MVP Goes To…

The versatile and daring Kristen Wiig, who appeared in no fewer than four 2015 releases. She gave tremendous performances in Welcome to Me and Diary of A Teenage Girl, appeared in the edgy indie Nasty Baby, and was a pillar of sense in the big budget hit The Martian. This on top of a ton of television work. Do you ever sleep, Miss Wiig?

E For Effort

Chi-Raq isn’t completely successful, but I give props to Spike Lee for attempting something challenging, literary, and timely. We need more film adaptations of the comic Greek plays.

Best Movie Villains

Mitchell Winehouse, Amy
Agatha (Mia Wasikowska), Maps to the Stars

Please Let’s See More Of…

Teyona Parris. She commanded the screen in the brash Chi-Raq.
Hamish Linklater. I keep noticing him shoring up the supporting casts of films like 42 and The Big Short. Give him more lines, already.
Donald Glover. Stopped the show with his demo of a rescue plan in The Martian.
John Magaro. Charmed in both Carol and The Big Short. Keep hiring this dude.
Finn Wittrock. Has the looks and the muscles of Taylor Kitsch but, unlike Kitsch, has charisma and talent.
Sarah Snook. Her gender-bending turn in Predestination knocked out both of us who saw it.
Emory Cohen. Utter charm and authenticity in Brooklyn.

The Year’s Worst

Most Inconsistent Polish Accent

Kate Winslet, Steve Jobs

Most Inaccurate Title

Mad Max: Fury Road. It wasn’t about Mad Max. Mad Max is barely in it. The movie should have been called Imperator Furiosa: Fury Road.

Disappointing Documentary

Wolf Pack: Great setup, ultimately lame storytelling.

Most Disappointing Production of Macbeth Since That Tedious One I Walked Out of at A Noise Within in Glendale

Macbeth: GOD this movie was boring and terrible. You know, if you don’t want to film the “Double double, toil and trouble” scene… then you really don’t want to do Macbeth, do you?

Annoyingly Overrated

It Follows. It was just plain bad.
Ex Machina. It was good, but it wasn’t the second coming of Jesus, which you’d have thought it was from the reaction it got.
Sicario. The movie’s main character (Emily Blunt) had no agency. The main character clearly should have been Benicio Del Toro.

Jodie Foster Award For Worst Performance by an Actress in a Lead Role

Maika Monroe, It Follows

Worst Motion Pictures of 2015 by a Mile

Tomorrowland. Such promise, such a great director, such a crushing disappointment. The most incoherent major release since Prometheus.

In Memoriam

Leonard Nimoy, actor
B.B. King, musician, demigod
Maureen O’Hara, actress
Jackie Collins, author
Fred Thompson, actor
Omar Sharif, actor
Marty Ingalls, actor
Cory Wells, founding member of Three Dog Night
Joan Leslie, actress (High Sierra)
Jack Larson, played Jimmy Olsen in “The Adventures of Superman”
Wes Craven, director
Alex Rocco, actor
Gary Owens, radio announcer
James Horner, composer
Haskell Wexler, two-time Oscar winning cinematographer
John Guillermin, director (The Towering Inferno)
Bud Yorkin, producer
Jerry Weintraub, producer
Melissa Mathison (wrote E.T.)
E.L. Doctorow, author

Please feel free to comment!

And yes, the asterisks indicate the winners.
You can read my weekly column on the movies at www.theeagle.com and read my other musings at www.starkravingray.com.
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This is from my Facebook page, but I wanted to share it here as well.

Disliking Nickleback does not mean you dislike your friends who like Nickleback.

Disagreement is not dislike. Questions are not attacks. If you prefer only compliance on your Facebook page, never discussion or disagreement, you should probably save us both time and aggravation and unfriend me. That’s fine. It’s your FB page; I wholeheartedly support your right to control the content on it. But if you consent to me being your FB friend, please do not be shocked or act all attacked if I don’t like Nickleback. The minute I attack you, you’ll have a legitimate complaint. But Nickleback does not need protection.

And no, of course, I’m not talking about Nickleback.*

*I’m talking about Adele.

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Wes_Anderson_Shot_for_Charles

ScandiRAYvia #21: Go Go Goteborg!

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Today’s post is sort of a snapshot album of my time in Goteborg.

I climbed this series of staircases to check out an old fort.

I climbed this series of staircases to check out an old fort.

And here it is!  Great views from up here.

And here it is! Great views from up here.

If you look closely this photograph, you’ll see a bit of smoke coming out of one of the chimneys.  This sight is always the cause of great celebration in Goteborg, as it signals the fact that the church fathers have settled on their new Sexiest Lutheran Minister Alive.

We have a winner!

We have a winner!

Tree_House

Old Vs. New.

Old Vs. New.

Double_Sign

I didn’t make it to the movies in Goteborg, but I did enjoy not one but two Mexican restaurants.  Next to one of them was a gelato place run by an Italian guy.  It was the best gelato I’ve had since the last time I was in Italy.

Burritos_and_Gelato


El_Paso_2_mole

Lutefish_AGAIN_

Meteren Maiden

Meteren Maiden

Apartment_Block_with_Obama_Chem_Trail

I searched for this guy in 7-Elevens all over Sweden, but I never found him:

7_11_Coffee_Viking

 

Next:  ON TO NORWAY!

 

 

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ScandiRAYvia #17: Something is Radiant in the State of Denmark

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What began to win me over to Copenhagen was the people.  The Danes are the happiest people in the world (seriously) and this makes the city a pleasant place to visit.

I began to see this on my Segway tour, which gave me a good overview of the old portions of the city.

Next door to the Segway place is the super-cool Downtown Copenhagen Hostel.  Now, I normally don’t talk about or even think about youth hostels that much.  I felt I’d pretty much aged out of them by the time I took my first trip to Europe at age 27.  But this place is just really groovy.  The ground floor is a large, extremely welcoming tavern, with lawn chairs lining the street and a giant bed for lounging on in one corner.  If I was twenty-two, I’d totally stay here.

Anyway, back to the Segway tour.  Our guide was a charming Estonian grad student and he guided us through many of the most important landmarks of Denmark’s capital city.  Everywhere we went I thought more and more about happy Danes.  At the Royal Palace complex we learned about how Queen Margrethe is famous for her smoking out in the plaza, and how Crown Princess Mary was an avid jogger who had coffee in the same little coffee shop most mornings.  You know, just out in public like a person.

 Note:  This is NOT my photograph.  No copyright infringement is intended.

Note: This is NOT my photograph. No copyright infringement is intended.

But that was just the window dressing.  Coming from a country where the government is so often seen as the enemy, it was once again a pleasure to see the benefits of living in a place where the government considered it’s role was to make the lives of the citizens better.

A few years ago, a large survey found the average health level of the Copenhageners to be not at all optimal.  The government began an ambitious program to encourage health and fitness.  You see evidence of this everywhere you look.

Check this out.  It’s trampolines ON THE SIDEWALK.  How fantastic is that?

[Sorry I don’t have my own photo here; not easy to get the shot when you’re whizzing by on a Segway.]

I think this emphasis on health contributes to the Danish happiness factor.  Look at these bicycles:

Those_Bicycles

Forty percent of Copenhageners commute by bicycle.  As in Stockholm, the bicycle lanes are raised, smooth, ubiquitous, and separate from car and pedestrian lanes.  (Also, oddly, hardly anyone wears helmets.)  With all that aerobic exercise comes a steady endorphin flow that I’m sure helps everyone’s mood.

Here’s another reason I think the Danes are so flippin’ happy.  Check out the Rosenberg Castle Gardens:

Normal_Tuesday_Afternoon

This is about 4:00 p.m.  On a normal, sunny, weekday.  It’s not a holiday, it’s just a summer Tuesday.

Every time I come to Europe I am reminded about how the people here have a much better idea about the importance of life over work.

If you  think this means Denmark is a country of shiftless, lazy people, check again.  It has one of the strongest economies in Europe.

The City of Copenhagen has a plan to be Carbon-Neutral within a few years.

I never saw litter on the streets anywhere I went in the city.

The tour was so successful even the brutally cliche visit to the stupid Little Mermaid statue couldn’t lower my mood.  For long.

Obligatory Little Mermaid Tourist Shot

Obligatory Little Mermaid Tourist Shot

Coming next:  More Danish Delights!

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LOGO

ScandiRAYvia #4: Packing Light

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This entry in the ScandiRAYvia blog is a heartfelt video:

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logo with new font

Coming Soon: ScandiRAYvia 2015

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scaled_Geiranger-042000-99-35-1024After decades of pining for the fjords, I’m finally doing it. Next month I’ll be spending three weeks touring Scandinavia. I’ll be tormenting you all with photos and commentary whether you like it or not, both here and on my Facebook page. My itinerary includes Stockholm, Copenhagen, Göteborg, Oslo, the Sognefjord and Bergen.

As always, comments are welcome!

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Ray’s 2014 Movie Awards!

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Best Films of the Year

  1. Birdman. I don’t even like this director.  And the drum solos were too loud and obnoxious.  And I’m no fan of Michael Keaton.  However, Birdman is filmmaking of the highest order.  An extremely smart and funny script, high-octane acting from a magnificent cast, and utterly epic cinematography make this the film of the year.
  2. Boyhood. Yeah, it’s a gimmick.  But maybe the greatest gimmick in the history of fiction film.  Writer/director Richard Linklater actually filmed for a week every year for twelve years to create this tapestry of a very normal Texas boy growing up.  There’s really no other movie like it.
  3. The Grand Budapest Hotel. Director Wes Anderson’s latest puppet-show-with-real-actors-movie is probably his best.  It’s a deliriously entertaining contraption, full of humor, humanity and sadness.  The craftsmanship is of the highest order, particularly in the acting, design, and score.  The fact that the production designers got to show us the hotel in three different time periods really pushes this one over the top.
  4. The Congress. It’s not just weird, it’s out of its mind.  And that’s why I loved it.  Robin Wright playing herself and selling her image to be used to make movies is the least weird thing that happens in this deliriously inventive fantasy.
  5. Selma. A smart and disturbing look at the Civil Rights Movement.
  6. Whiplash. An off-the-chain meditation on the artistic impulse.
  7. Nightcrawler. One of the better LA movies in a great while, anchored by a stunning lead performance by Jake Gyllenhaal.
  8. The Drop. Down and dirty crime drama, Brooklyn-style.
  9. Wild Tales.  A spectacular collection of hilarious and horrifying revenge stories from Argentina.
  10. Pride. The most fun you have at a movie about a wrenching coal miners’ strike.
  11. Dawn of the Planet of the Apes. The only blockbuster on the list. It gets extra credit for not being a comic book superhero movie.

Honorable Mention:  Snowpiercer, Calvary

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Why we Libtards Are So Loud and Angry!!!!!

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Hi, Friend or Relative who thinks my liberal friends and I are just too mean in our political discourse:

Sorry you feel that way.

If you are upset by the fact that people are disagreeing with you strongly, well, that’s political discourse for you.

And I hope you are not saying that the people on my page are being unusually or uniquely shrill in their political tone. Because if you are, you need to understand the ridiculous, relentless onslaught of lies, fabrications and downright seditious comments we see posted about the President EVERY DAY. He’s a Muslim, he hates America, he is working for the Muslim Brotherhood, he’s bisexual, he’s a Nazi, he’s a communist, he’s a socialist, he’s a Kenyan. Whatever. We NEVER DID THAT TO BUSH. We complained about his ACTUAL failings, not made-up ones.

We see government officials calling for Obama to be assassinated. REGULARLY.

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