Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Kenneth Branagh's "Wallander"...A Great Show!

The other day we stumbled upon a BBC show called Wallander. It's a British re-boot of an original Swedish show based on a character of the same name in a series of novels written by Henning Mankell.

And it's fantastic!

At least, the British version is. I imagine the Swedish series is good as well, but I don't know. In what I can tell is a collaboration between Kenneth Branagh and several involved in the Swedish television industry this series is so well done. Watching it I'm reminded of why I enjoy dramas produced by the BBC. They're smart. They're engaging, and they are not afraid to allow the story to develop. 

An American television drama is about forty minutes long, sans commercials. The episodes of Wallander we've seen so far are at least ninety minutes without commercials. The commercials, I don't mind. If this series was on here I'd set aside two hours and sit through (or DVR and skip through the commercials at a later time...) this show. It's worth it.

Another plus is the cinematography. The show is set in the southern-most part of Sweden. I'm familiar with the landscape--it's basically the same as Denmark where I lived for a couple of years. But they take time to show you just how beautiful the country is. The close-ups and reactions of the talented actors is great as well. There was one scene where an older woman is being interviewed and she is being asked to think about a difficult time in her life. The shot must have lasted ten seconds and I loved every bit of it.

If I have a criticism it's that many of the women on the show don't necessarily look Swedish. I imagine many of the woman look like the Danes I lived with. I could be wrong, of course, and I realize most, if not all, of the principle actors are British. They just don't look Scandinavian to me, but even this minor point cannot dampen my enthusiasm for the show. Funny, but the men either look Swedish enough, or could pass as such. Maybe we're just sexist.

If you like slow, well-developed crime dramas and you haven't already heard of this one, give Wallander a try. I think you'll agree with me.

All screenshots used without permission from the Wallander series on BBC.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

If You're On Instagram...You SHOULD Follow Jordy Collins!

Back, oh...thirty-one years ago, I met a surfer from California. He was probably the first surfer I had ever met in my life. I did not meet him on the beach or in college, but on a train platform in Odense, Denmark. 

Not a lot of surfing in Denmark, though some do surf there.

The surfer was Daren Collins and he waited for me to get off a train with all my earthly possessions in two suitcases. Both of us wore suits, ties, and black name tags. For the next two months we served together as missionaries for the LDS church, and we've been friends ever since.

Unfortunately, Daren and I haven't seen much of each other in the past thirty-one years. Both of us got married and raised kids. Part of the miracle that is social media is being able to follow your friends and their families and seeing what they're up to.

And on Facebook yesterday my friend asked the digital world to help out his son, who is following in his father's footsteps. Jordy just won the Boys West Coast Champion Under 17 title and he's looking for more Instagram followers.

So, if you're on Instagram (which I know many of you are...), search jordy_collins and give the kid a follow. You're supporting a great surfer and he's posted some beautiful pictures. You know, I've never met Jordy, but if he's anything like his father, he's a total stud!

Monday, May 23, 2016

The Legendarium Podcast And The Legend Of Zelda...Good Stuff!

Zelda Social

If you're a fan of the Zelda video game series, check out this week's The Legendarium Podcast. You will be glad you did.

Personally, I could not fully appreciate this particular episode for a couple of reasons. First, I don't play a lot of video games. The last console I played games on was the Super NES. I know, I know...I'm a goober, but sometimes you must decide between buying/upgrading video game systems and games or feeding your family.

"You chose wisely." Grail Knight

The other reason others will enjoy this podcast episode more than me is because I've only played two Zelda games in my life, the classic, The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past, and the Game Boy version, The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening. I do know my kids have played several versions of the Zelda franchise and they love them. 

I did play the game enough to appreciate the music the cool dudes at The Legedarium Podcast included in this episode. Even thought I haven't played many versions of the game, when I hear that music, it brings back good memories. I really do like the game.

So, if you have kept up with the game, or if you're like me and haven't played it in a long time, check out their episode. If you want to listen, just click on the link (sorry...) to the podcast: HERE. As always, good job Legendarium guys!

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Enjoying Google's Chromecast...Finally

A few years ago we bought a little techie device called the Google Chromecast. We were so excited about the possibilities. And, it was so cheap, $35 back then. We bought it at Best Buy, and plugged it in as soon as we got home. After a little time trying to figure it out, we logged on to a website and hit the rectangle box to start our entertaining enjoyment.

Well, it didn't quite work.

And we were bummed.

The darn video kept buffering. We tried casting the video from my wife's computer first. Her's is not the most current laptop and so we thought her computer might be the cause of the buffering. We tried it with our Kindles--still buffering issues. My laptop's newer, but it didn't fix the problem.

We ended up unplugging the Chromecast and putting it in the drawer. Every now and again we'd try it, but the result stayed the same.

And then one day, we tried it again, last Friday night, actually. And wouldn't you know it--the darn thing worked perfectly. It worked so well, it was still a technological miracle years old even though it was several years old. How many things can you say about that?

Why the difference? Why did it work this time and not all the times before? It seems the Chromecast technology always worked, but our problem was the lack of a decent internet modem. Since the last time we tested it out and last Friday, we replaced our old, out-of-date modem with a shinny new one.

And that (quoting Robert Frost) has made all the difference. I guess having the latest and greatest sometimes isn't everything.

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Dave Butler's "Devil Sent The Rain"...A Book Review


You know, I thought I knew about the Rock Band that fights evil between gigs--even during gigs--but I was only kidding myself. I've read three Rock Band Fights Evil books so I assumed the fourth installment of the series would be more of the same.

I suppose Devil Sent the Rain possessed some qualities of its fellow books. There's a rock band that fights evil. The band members were all the same and they fight gruesome monsters, but what I didn't see coming was the band fighting monsters while trying to escape from being trapped inside a giant human being, that may or may not be one of the musicians. Then Gods show up to finish off the band, once and for all.

Yeah, it's like that.

But it's so much more. To escape the six-legged creatures that were once music listeners, the band turns to their keyboardist, Adrian, their lovable narcoleptic wizard. He tries a spell that lands everyone inside what is first thought to be a house, but then turns out to be a person. Personally, I don't believe I've wondered what it would be like for a tiny human to try and escape being inside a large human, but Butler's book gives me a taste of what it might be like.

And I thank him for that.

As other books have highlighted a specific character, in this one we learn more about Adrian. We learn about how he became a wizard, the good and the very bad. Butler's ability to make us believe and care for these characters is on full display in this book. 

My advice: pick up the book or download the digital copy and just let the story take you. Don't overthink it, just enjoy. It's a story like you've never read before, a fun ride!

* Photo used without permission from:

Friday, May 20, 2016

Looking For Work? Panda Express Is Hiring...

Tonight, my wife pointed out a poster in the window of a local business we walked by. Apparently, they're hiring. It's a fast food place, so the fact that they're hiring is not unusual. The poster pointed out (literally...) the company is not just hiring front-line workers, but Assistant Mangers and even General Mangers.

"So I guess you could say things are getting pretty serious." Kip Dynamite

We see the Now Hiring signs everywhere, to the point where we almost don't see them. My oldest son returned from his LDS mission in February. Before he left he worked at a fast food place. The first thing we did the day after he got home was to go see Star Wars: The Force Awakens. After the movie, his grandparents took us all out to eat. I remember we drove past about ten restaurants and every one one of them advertised for help. From the back seat, we'd hear, "Hey, that place is hiring." Followed by, "That place is hiring, too." It made me see the Now Hiring signs possibly for the first time. 

Even at the food preparation establishments where they are not advertising for new employees, just tell them you're interested and a position will open up pretty soon I imagine. The sign we saw tonight said that a General Manager could earn $48K/year.

Is that a lot? Some might say it's too much. Some (especially those who work in the industry...), might say it's not enough. I've worked in a couple of restaurants in my life and I can't even begin to imagine how difficult a job like that actually is.

I don't want you to think I'm saying that all the people not working should rush out and get these jobs. For starters, not everyone can do the job. Some are just not "people people." They'd fail miserably. Others are not organized enough to keep up with the pace. But, the poster gave me information I didn't know, that some of these places are paying a pretty good wage for a pretty tough job.

"That's all I have to say about that." Forrest Gump

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Motivational Posters...What Do They Say To You?

At my full-time job, I recently transferred to a new building. It takes a little getting used to, working at a new place, getting to know the new co-workers, hoping the microwave ovens work with a semblance of reliability.

But the biggest change to this new building is the fact that there are motivational posters EVERYWHERE!

This is a closed-to-the-public building so, unfortunately, you are unable to visit to see exactly what I'm talking about. But I'm assuming that if you've worked in a professional building at any point in your career, there's a good chance you've seen them before. You know what I'm talking about.

Now, I have an opinion about a place that puts up a ton of motivational posters and since this is my employer we're talking about, I'm not going to express that opinion on this blog. I'd be interested, however, to know what any of you might think about those motivational posters.

Do they work?

Are you motivated when you see/read these things?

Or do you see them and dismiss them wishing they were those De-motivational Posters that are hilarious?

Personally, I have an opinion...

And I'm not going to tell you what it is here.