The Easy Puzzle

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The Moving Puzzle

I call this my moving puzzle and also the most challenging because I have worked on this at least four times due to spilling it all over the floor and the fifth because I had to move.  I never lost any of the pieces even though I’m missing five in the picture.  I finally finished it to find the missing pieces one by one as I was still unpacking and rearranging things in the new apartment.  I’m posting this anyway because I think the puzzle and myself deserves it.

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Hoover Dam (why not?!)

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On my first day on vacation (three more days left/two if you don’t include the weekend), I went to Hoover Dam.  It took five years to build and sits on the border of Nevada and Arizona.  I should’ve brought sunglasses, and was surprised it was that busy on a weekday.  I had to wait for a good two hours before taking the Dam Tour where I saw the power plant and went down the dam about midway inside.  I learned a few things such as how the dam was built and if they used nature alone, they’d probably still be building it.  The workers had to build it a foot at a time so the concrete would dry.  The experts say it has another good 100 to 200 years before any major repairs need to be done, but it’s not full proof.  The lack of water over the last twenty years has put the dam in a somewhat precarious state.  Experts say if the water levels continue to decrease, the dam won’t be able to maintain electricity to the states and cities it services.  The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation (under the Department of the Interior) reported Nevada, Arizona, a handful of Southern CA cities using energy from the dam under contracts that ended in 2017.  In terms of the interior decor, the marble flooring if done today would probably cost around 40 to 60 million dollars and that is if you could even find the marble anymore.  There were some other historical tidbits, but to not be long winded here are the pictures.  I’m hoping to get back to Lake Mead because it looks like a great place to relax and of course, take more pictures.

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Hoover Dam facts are from a brochure

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Hoover Dam and Spillways from the outside

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Hoover Dam, Spillways, and Power Plant from the inside

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Stairs going down

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Stairs going up

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Tunnel where I took the photo of the Hoover Dam

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Reclamation of water and power

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Marble entryway leading up to the women’s bathroom

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Magnet before condensation from my water bottle ruined it

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Movie Review: Mission: Impossible – Fallout

Mission: Impossible – Fallout

Quote from Mission: Impossible – Fallout by August Walker: “How many times has Hunt’s government betrayed him, disavowed him, cast him aside?  How long before a man like that has had enough.”

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The Impossible is Possible

Tom Cruise has never shied away from doing his own stunts, and the six installment of Mission: Impossible is no exception.  The pacing was good and everything that happened was for a reason.  There wasn’t any time I thought, jeez, you could’ve cut that out because it didn’t contribute anything to the movie.  It opened up with a major problem, increasing in its tension along the way, and finished with a bang.  It was nothing but pure entertainment that successfully delivered in action, thrills, and adventure.

The People Behind the Screen

Mission: Impossible – Fallout was written and directed by Christopher McQuarrie and based off the television series written by Bruce Geller.  This story follows Ethan Hunt and his trusted co-workers as they chase their way after plutonium to save the world from destruction.  It’s produced by Tom Cruise, Christopher McQuarrie, Jake Myers, and J.J. Abrams under the direction of Skydance Media, TC Productions, and Bad Robot Productions.  The distributor is Paramount Pictures and was released on July 27, 2018.  The budget was around $178 million and so far has grossed around $366 million worldwide.  The main cast includes Tom Cruise as Ethan Hunt, Ving Rhames as Luther Stickell, Simon Pegg as Benji Dunn, Henry Cavill as August Walker, and Rebecca Ferguson as Ilsa Faust.  It also stars Alec Baldwin, Angela Bassett, Michelle Monaghan, Vanessa Kirby, and Sean Harris.  The MPAA rating is PG-13 for violence, intense action sequences, and briefly strong language.  It has a running time of 1 hour and 47 minutes.

The Characters and Plot Summary

Mission: Impossible – Fallout begins with yet another mission for Ethan Hunt and his crew.  This time he has to capture stolen plutonium so it doesn’t get into the wrong hands.  Things don’t go as planned, which sends Ethan, Luther, and Benji into a cat and mouse chase in cars, helicopters, and motorcycles after the deadly radioactive chemical element.  The problem remains that none of the good guys know who stole the plutonium.  They devise a plan in the hopes of outsmarting the bad guys and going as far as needed to protect the innocent.  Insert, August Walker who is introduced to Ethan Hunt and his team by the CIA Director.  This sets up some of the great stunts of the two C’s: Cruise and Cavill as the movie progresses.  Insert also, The White Widow who shows Ethan she is worth her weight even though he has a fair amount of skepticism about her plan, but he really wants that plutonium.  It leaves him little choice but to do what is asked of him, and with the help of Walker, he secures what is asked.  Everything seems to be going as planned until someone betrays him, and Ethan now has no choice but to follow the antagonist along with wondering why Ilsa, an ex MI6 agent, is so invested in this.  Everyone rushes from London to Kashmir for different reasons where the movie finishes with more chases, fights, and weapons.

A Fractured Ankle Might be a Problem

It goes without saying it takes a lot of pre-planning to make this kind of movie.  I’m continually amazed that the five to ten minutes you see takes months of training, and in this case a year for the High Altitude Low Opening stunt done by Cruise.  It isn’t just the physical fitness actors/actresses need to complete their scenes effectively, but you also need to look good while doing them.  No amount of makeup or CGI will make a person’s unflattering expression flattering.  Okay, maybe it will, but the director probably wants someone who can keep their expression in check.  Yes, Tom Cruise is showing his age a bit.  He should, but there is no denying he can still run fast and look good while doing it.  There are pitfalls during every filming process so when things go wrong, it can be catastrophic and production stops.  Or, you can keep going until you are forced to stop, but start-up again when the time is right again.  See, a fractured ankle can work in someone’s favor.  Tom Cruise is a challenge seeker, and the success of this movie will encourage him to star and produce another one.  See, everyone wins.

Everything Must Come to an End

I would recommend this movie not only for its action sequences, but for its decent story.  I can forgive the lack of fine tooth combing of the dialogue because no one sounds prim and proper when you’re running after or fighting someone.  Some of the dialogue is cartoonish and cheesy, but I expected this.  The serious lines are delivered just fine.  You might grumble about the lack of reasons for why a character did or did not do something, but it doesn’t detract that much from the movie.  It is suitable for teens and adults and as I’ve come to realize more these days even for babies.

Pisaries Creator Rating

Mission: Impossible -Fallout gets four fingers and one thumb at 96%

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Trailer/One Sheet by Paramount Pictures

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Various Quotes

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Trifecta #19

You probably thought I walked right off the edge of the Earth into some abyss.   I feel in some ways I have, but slowly getting back into the grind of things.  Here is my trifecta for August 2018.

Word of the Month

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Picture of the Month

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Video of the Month

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Old Blog about a Handful of Different Artists

I thought 2018 would be the year where I really made some changes in my life.  I guess I should give myself a little bit of slack since I basically moved across state lines in four different trips.  I’m working to make my blog a little easier to access for people and hoping in September 2018 onward I will have gotten rid of redundant information.  I’m getting rid of some pages and therefore am posting this on a blog.  I had high hopes of adding new things each month in all the various interests I have.  It was becoming too much, but hope to resume this soon as I did in 2017.

August 1, 2017: This will resume again in 2018

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July 4, 2017: Mary Cassatt

Born: May 22, 1844
Allegheny City, Pennsylvania, United States

Died: June 14, 1926
Château de Beaufresne, near Paris, France

Mary Cassatt is an American painter and printmaker although she lived most of her life in France. Her mediums were pastel, oil, gouache, watercolor, and graphite. Her upbringing is what you would call privileged as she belonged to the upper/middle class. Much of her influence came from her mother who was also well-educated and read. She never married and dedicated her life to artwork even in the years when she was partially blind, had rheumatism, and other physical ailments.

She was what you would also call a pioneer as she sided with women’s rights, but did not like to be viewed as adhering to one particular concept or thing. She consistently demanded the same treatment as her male comrades in the art world and did not compromise herself. Her subjects ranged from family members to Parisian models.

She formed an intimate friendly relationship with Edgar Degas, as they had common interests and backgrounds. It was in France she felt most at home although she returned to the East Coast out of necessity. She was resistant to change in her later years and struggled to find a place in the art world. Her work would later be recognized for their brilliance especially after her death. No one can say she was not great at capturing the human subject in her intimate portraits. Many of her works are in notable galleries and have sold for as much as four million dollars.

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Pictures/Information by Wikipedia

June 11, 2017: Katsushika Hokusai

Born: October 31, 1790

Died: May 10, 1849

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There’s an eerie thing when you read about an artist, and recognize certain elements of yourself in him or her. The main one being I often wanted to change my name. I have less of an urge to do this now, but I think about it from time to time. Would I pick a Korean name? Would I pick a more Western name? Would I pick a fictional name?

Hokusai, as he was called, attached various names to himself throughout his career. He had chosen around thirty different names, often mirroring changes to his artistic styles, and overlapped at times. A woodblock artist, he creating prints and paintings using subject matter of people, landscapes, and flora and fauna. He also produced erotic pieces, which was used by all classes, and known as shunga.

During the height of his career, he produced brush paintings, known as surimono, and two collections of landscapes, Famous Sights of the Eastern Capital and Eight Views of Edo. This was also the time when his skill was recognized, partly due to self-promotion and taught students thirsty for his knowledge. He paid equal attention of his work in published books as with his actual works.

His most famous work, Thirty-six Views of Mount Fuji, includes the recognizable Great Wave off Kanagawa. There were 36 prints in total, and included ten additional prints later. The longevity of his work can also be seen in his twelve manga volumes (9 published before 1820 and 3 published posthumously). He created the series in between the years 1830 to 1832.

As is the occurrence of artists finding influence in others, he served as inspiration to Impressionist painters. He cultivated and reinforced the path for Western countries and artists to view Japanese artistic contributions as legitimate. He desired to live into his hundreds, but died at the age of eighty-eight. What more could he have possibly achieved? Probably a great deal, but with everyone and everything, it must all come to an end.

1760 Childhood Name: Tokitarō

1779 First Name Change: Shunrō

1793-1797 Name Change: Tawaraya Sōri

1798 Name Change: Hokusai Tomisa

1811 Name Change: Iitsu

Pictures/Information by Wikipedia

June 6, 2017: Jan van Eyck

Born: c 1380-1390 in Maaeseik/Belgian Province

Died: July 9, 1441 in Bruges/Flemish Region

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Portrait of a Man, 1443

Jan van Eyck was a Netherlandish Renaissance painter. His subject matter had religious figures and overtones including the Madonna and baby, Jesus’s crucifixion, and was also a successful portrait artist. I remember being amazed at his level of detail in his paintings. His most iconic piece being the Arnolfini Portrait. Painters of his caliber at the time were much like the current painters of photo realism today.

His securement in the artistic world was equally due to his court painting and commissioned portraits. This brought him financial stability, and in turn, he was able to not feel the strain of producing work to feed himself. He worked alongside his brother, Hubert van Eyck, on some paintings.

He was a meticulous painter, leaving nothing to chance, including his unique way of signing his name to his works and how he used frames to enhance the worlds unfolding on the canvas. Whether you view his signature and dating of his work as condescending or spirited, he dared to affirm what he already knew about himself. He was a permanent influence during his time, and by him creating no doubt about the authenticity of his works, he protected his legacy.

Pictures/Information by Wikipedia

May 14, 2017: Wassily Kandinsky

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A Russian painter and art theorist, Wassily Kandinsky, was born in Moscow in 1866. He was all encompassing where he taught design and painting classes in his later years, as well as educating about the importance of spiritual connection found in artistic mediums. He was fascinated with color and what it represented. This led to his enrollment into Munich Academy at the age of 30 in 1896. He was also influenced by Monet during this time, furthering his connection to color, which led to his own in depth exploration.

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Odessa Port, 1898
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Akhtyrka, 1901
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Murnau, train & castle, 1909

Kandinsky was also fascinated with abstraction especially in the years between 1911 to 1914. I view him as a type of sponge much like myself. I want to gain more knowledge and learn it all.

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The Cow, 1910
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The Rider, 1911
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Squares with Concentric Circles, 1913

There was a transition to his later work where circles become an integral part of his paintings. He became enamored in geometric shapes and their representations as can be seen during the time he taught hungry students about design, color theory, and elements of painting. What I wouldn’t have given to attend a class of his or live in any major thriving artistic community during this time.

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Circles in a Circle, 1923
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Soft Hard, 1927

Kandinsky was what you might call an independent: politically and culturally and artistically. He laid roots where his heart felt was right as he left Germany and Russia for good, settling in France where he lived until he died in 1944.

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Brown with Supplement, 1935
Pictures/Information by Wikipedia

April 9, 2017: Vincent van Gogh

Fine Artists can be described in many different ways. They can be categorized with personality traits only they seem to have. A popular theory is any kind of artist has to be a little mentally unstable because what else drives him or her to create artwork. The first painter I’m discussing is a perfect example of what happens when you don’t set creative boundaries.

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Self Portrait, 1887

Vincent van Gogh really needs no introduction. People know him because he cut his left ear during one of his many bouts of depression. He was a Post-Impressionist painter with his most obvious work titled The Starry Night, 1889. Have you ever gotten as close as possible to a van Gogh painting? Man, those brush strokes. Damn, those vibrant colors.

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The Starry Night, 1889

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Starry Night Over the Rhone, 1888

He was born in March 1853, and died in 1890 due to complications from a self-inflicted gun shot. He was a smoker and drinker. He suffered from insomnia. Oh, the problems of a creative person. His vast collection of works included landscapes, portraits, and still lifes. I wonder if somewhere in another parallel or perpendicular universe, if van Gogh knows how influential and inspirational artist he became. I sure hope so as it would be a shame if he didn’t.

Old Man at the Fireside, 1881
A Pair of Shoes, 1887
Painter on His Way to Work, 1888
Wheatfield with Crows, 1890

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Pictures/Information by Wikipedia
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Poem: Dig Deeper

Dig Deeper

I have cut myself to my ankles many times before

because that is what you taught me.

This is what you breathed into my mouth

when I didn’t want your lips anywhere near mine.

You insisted,

Boy, did you keep insisting.

Jeez, how deep did you think you could go?

What the fuck was the matter with you?

Wait, don’t tell me.  I don’t want to know.

The hatred.  The loathing.  The revenge.  The pain.

The sad part is you still don’t give a shit.

I trusted you to have my back,

and you did nothing but push me down,

over and over again

until my shell was cracked into a thousand pieces.

It’s a wonder how I ever survived through it all.

Yet, I did.

Some fucking how, I did.

Here, I am, the only one left. 

The survivor.

It started with you and ends with me.

Get ready because soon the whole world will know what you did

despite you never caring.

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Random Pictures of Water

Random pictures of water (public domain) taken by people from around the world. 

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Movie Review: Beirut (2018)

Movie Review: Beirut (2018)

Quote from Beirut by Mason Skiles: “Maybe one of you can tell me what I’m doing here?”

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In the Middle East

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I felt excited to see what Beirut would offer me.  The opening scene was engaging as it delved into the perceived stereotypes and real dangers of living in the Middle East.  The relations and conflicts between Israel and Arab nations continue to this day, but in the 1980s there was just as much tension.  I thought of the movie Rosewater while watching it for some reason.  While the portrayal of Iranians was more negative than positive, I wondered why I felt little discomfort.  It probably had to do with the fact it was non-fictional and was told by Maziar Bahari himself.  While some boycotted Beirut for its one-sidedness and white man rescue syndrome, this doesn’t mean it is an inherently bad movie although it thrust it into the unwanted spotlight.

People that Made it Happen

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Beirut is a drama written by Tony Gilroy and directed by Brad Anderson.  Its major cast includes Jon Hamm, Rosamund Pike, Dean Norris, Shea Whigham, and Mark Pellegrino. The movie centers around an American diplomat leaving his old life behind him due to tragedy, and finding himself having to re-enter that world.  Along the way, he hopes to find reconciliation within himself and the people he left behind.  The running time is one hour and 49 minutes and rated R for language, some violence, and brief nudity. 

Characters and Plot Summary

The movie begins with Mason Skiles living a good life with his Lebanese wife and being a father figure to a Palestinian boy who does not have a family of his own in Lebanon.  We learn Kamir does have family.  He has a brother who may or may not be part of a terrorist group, and this is when tragedy falls on Skiles.  The life he knew is gone and makes the decision to leave Lebanon for good, but as fate has it, he returns later because the U.S. government needs his help.  For a while he is unclear why he is there, but then learns someone he knew in his past is in danger.  This leads to him working with the CIA and state officials to uncover the whereabouts of the person.  He traverses to places of his past, all in the attempts to formulate a plan on how to get the person back to safety.

Jon Hamm is not Jon Hamm

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It feels a little wrong to give Jon Hamm such great props for portraying Skiles while not talking about the other major cast.  It is not that they do not have the skill set to portray convincing and (un)likable characters.  They all do because I’ve seen them shine: Breaking Bad (Norris), Hostiles (Pike), Boardwalk Empire (Whigham), and Dexter (Pellegrino). But, if anyone deserves all the opportunities to showcase his talent, it would be Jon Hamm.  One upcoming movie I do want to see him in is Bad Times at the El Royale.   He has come a long way from moving furniture around soft core porn sets.  I’ve never seen him in a show or movie I didn’t think he was outstanding.  Hamm has all the nuance, intuition, and timing to make Skiles character realistic and likable.  He carried a large part of the movie, and it is partially why I kept watching it to the end.  He has range and if you doubt me, watch any Saturday Night Live skit he takes part of.

Evaluating from Afar

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I recommend this movie because the cast is good, and it caters to adults because children will not have the attention span for this.  I would venture to say some adults don’t have the attention span for this kind of movie because it progresses at a slower pace.  While it is described as a drama/thriller, I thought it was more drama and less of a thriller.  Most of the major events and scenes steering Beirut in the direction it did was predictable.  I will say that the ending was fitting, and glad the direction went that way instead of other ways.  Despite the controversy and negative critique, I would recommend it although there are more compelling movies about the CIA and Middle East.  Maybe, therein lies the problem because both are complicated subjects, and appears Beirut only scratched the surface flesh in some areas when it should’ve drawn blood, but there is only so much you can fit into a script.  Creators have the freedom to create most anything, but that doesn’t always translate into a positive outcome for everyone.  I can see the dissenters had valid reasons for disliking Beirut, but the fact remains that people do kill others based on their differences, and I’m not only talking about the Middle East.  It isn’t right to demonize a collective group of people based on their appearance alone.  Yes, Hollywood needs an overhaul on what and who is portrayed on the screen.  Not everyone is going to like the final cut, and how much does a writer/director take into account the critiques of others before, during, and after the process while not sacrificing thier own vision?  The last remaining observation is timing can be a blessing or a curse.

Pisaries Creator’s Rating

Beirut gets three fingers at 79%

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One Sheet and Trailer by Bleeker Street Media

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