Random Archive

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New College Year, New Driving Experiences

It’s official. Summer 2012 has ended (not the season, just the school break). Now that it’s back to school, I find myself having all sorts of new good and bad experiences while driving from my house in Queens to Brooklyn College. I’d like to share some of them with you today.

THE GOOD:

  • Driving in general – I’ve always felt that driving is something everyone should learn to do. It’s really not that hard when you get right down to it. The hard part is learning how to be safe on the road and how to prevent accidents/collisions (this is also the most IMPORTANT part). Those two things sound very threatening by themselves, and I believe that’s what turns most people off from learning to drive (or makes them feel that it’s much harder than it really is).If you can brave the infamous road test and master the skill, driving will eventually become just plain fun. Being in control of such a powerful metal machine is a really cool feeling. Just check out a recent Macaulay VLog of mine if you don’t believe me:

  • Peaceful alone time – At least in my case, driving to and from college is something that’s done alone. On an off day, I might feel bad about this lonely feeling, but most of the time, I think it’s really relaxing. Driving to and from school provides me with time to think, pray, eat, talk/sing to myself–whatever I’m in the mood to do at the time. It can be a way to relax, a way to get anger out, a way to plan or a way to just be. Maybe I’m going a little too ‘deep’ with this one, so I’ll just end it there, haha!
  • Party rocking – Most of the time I’m driving, I’m listening to the radio. Whether it’s 92.3, 100.3, 106.7 or my own iPod hookup, music makes driving awesome. Now I’m not one of those annoying jerks who BLASTS every song so that the car and all other vehicles and houses around it are shaking. No, I just play my music at a medium level so that way I can hear the tunes AND the road.

THE BAD:

  1. Speeders – Speeders love to go fast in areas where the shouldn’t be. The Belt Parkway (the highway I travel on everyday to get to school) is a prime example of a place where people go way, WAY too fast. Speeders also love to tailgate and honk repeatedly the nanosecond after a light changes to green. When I encounter a Speeder, I drive very slow. By doing that, they get pissed off and switch lanes to go and tailgate someone else. =)
  2. Reckless Drivers – Reckless Drivers don’t necessarily like to go fast, but they love to break the law. This includes changing lanes and/or turning without signaling, not stopping at Stop signs, braking at the last minute, running red lights and other things of the like. This is the group the causes the most accidents, by far. I’ve encountered many drivers that swerve in and out of lanes and speed through red lights, and almost every time I thank God that I didn’t witness an accident. Unfortunately, many of my friends do a lot of these things, despite my constant shouting and arguing against it. If I was a cop, I’d track down every bad driver I encountered and give them one heck of a ticket.
  1. People Who Have A License But Really Shouldn’t – We’ll say PLBS for short. PLBS are drivers who just don’t know how to drive. If I see a car on the road that has “Student Driver” plastered on all sides, then it’s no problem. But when I see cars that drive too slow (to the point where they can cause accidents), don’t know when to enter a lane from a highway entrance or can’t drive in a straight line, it’s unacceptable. PLBS also rarely signal turns. I can tell you right now that every Livery van driver in Brooklyn falls under this category.
  2. Salespeople and fundraising campaigns – This category is probably the least frequently occurring one on the list. It includes people who sell things on street sides (water, flowers, etc.) and people who are having fundraisers for random causes (little league baseball, children with diseases, cancer victims, etc). Also on the list are homeless people who sit roadside with sings that read, “No home, no job, no money.” I have no problem with people trying to make an honest buck or even people trying to raise money for whatever cause. The problem is when these people get angry. I’m sorry, but you are NOT allowed to be angry if a driver says, very respectfully and calmly, “No thank you, maybe another time.” Just the other day, I passed by a McDonalds that was having a fundraiser for a Brooklyn girl who unfortunately had a tragic accident that left her paralyzed. I didn’t know what this fundraiser was about at the time, nor did I have any money on me, so when one of the women at the fundraiser ran up to my window at a red light and shouted, “WANT TO HELP OUT A PARALYZED GIRL,” I respectfully and calmly said “I’m sorry, but no thank you. Maybe another time.” As soon as she heard me say no, the lady’s face went from happy to angry. She pulled her head right out of my window, said “Ahhhhhh, come on,” and hit my window with her ring hand. I heard a really loud crack and was worried my window was broken, but thankfully it wasn’t. I’m always for fundraising, especially since I did so much of it throughout my four years of Catholic high school, but when one of the people at the fundraiser gets angry because you say “no thanks” and then hits your car, I’m not happy at all.

THE UGLY:

  • BMWs – I saved this one for last and even gave it its own category because boy oh boy does it deserve it. BMWs are great cars. From mechanics and family who’ve owned them, I hear that they drive great and don’t really have many issues (until they start getting old, but I digress). They also cost a lot and go really fast, another thing people like about them. Unfortunately, these traits seem to draw out the worst drivers imaginable. Almost 95% percent of the time I see a BMW on the road, they do something dangerous, reckless and harmful to every driver around them. They’re always the cars that go way too fast. They’re always the cars with the tinted out windows and super-bright headlights. They’re always the cars that turn without signaling, run Stop signs and traffic lights, and swerve in and out of lanes. They’re the worst. Unfortunately, BMW’s clientele have turned me off from every buying or promoting the sale of a BMW, and I’m positive that you’ll feel the same way if you’re a safe driver like me.

Well, that about sums up my driving experiences in and around Queens and Brooklyn. If you’re a safe driver like me (and I’m saying that with humbleness and humility), you hopefully feel the same way about these things.

If you’re new to driving, don’t be afraid of the road! Just be careful and you’ll find yourself driving very professionally and calmly in no time. And if you’ve been driving safely, then keep up the good work!

I’ll see you on the road.

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A second Monsters Inc. is coming!

After ten years of waiting, Pixar just debuted four trailers for the new Monsters Inc. movie called Monsters University! It looks like before Mike and Sully could scare, they had to go to college. =uP

 

Although this prequel isn’t exactly a continuation of the whole story involving “Boo” from the first movie, I’m sure the amazing team at Pixar will find a way to work all sorts of references in. You can bet that I’ll be pushing all of  the little kids out of the way at the box office while shouting, “OUT OF THE WAY, I SAW THE FIRST MOVIE BEFORE YOU!” Guess we’ll just have to wait until “Summer 2013” for that to happen.

Check out all of the trailers here: http://screencrush.com/monsters-inc-2-trailers/

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Triassic Parq: A Musical with Morgan Freeman!

I don’t normally review musicals, but I feel that this one deserves the attention. Triassic Parq is a musical theater production that’s currently being shown Off Broadway at The SoHo Playhouse in Manhattan, and believe when I tell you that it’s worth the trip!

As you can probably tell by the name, Triassic Parq is a sort of spoof of the award-winning film, Jurassic Park. If you know anything about me, you know that Jurassic Park is my favorite film of all time. On top of having seen it over one hundred times, my room is absolutely covered in JP memorabilia, I blast the film soundtracks while driving around in my car and I quote from the scripts all the time. So going to see this musical was an absolute must for me.

As my good friend Eric (the person who originally discover this musical via TDF) and I came above ground after exiting the E train on Spring Street, I was very happy to see that we were not only across the street from the playhouse, but right next to a diner! We moseyed on into the diner, had ourselves a little pre-TP meal and then jogged on over to the theater around 7:40. After picking up our tickets, we found ourselves in a small but beautifully designed and well laid out theater. Everything was lit in dark green light, the stage looked like a set straight out of the beginning of the first JP film, and sound effects of dinosaurs screeching and moaning were playing in the background. This was going to be fun.

A low-res shot of what you’re in for when you enter the theater! (Photo credit: E.K.)

 

When Eric and I sat down, we realized that we were a little to tall for the small corner seats that we bought. We’re both a little over six feet tall, so we found it hard to get to ally comfortable. Thankfully, since I was wearing my Jurassic Park t-shirt and prop ID badge, one of the crew members asked us if we’d like to to sit on the stage. We immediately said yes, because when else are you going to get the chance to sit on stage at a JP-themed musical!?

I don’t want to give too much away about the actual story of the musical, but let’s just say that for the next hour and a half or so, we both had an incredibly good time. It seems that the producers, directors and writers of the show took one line from the movie (“Some species of West African frog have been known to spontaneously change sex from male to female in a single sex environment”) and made a musical out of it.

From “the splash zone” and the actors playing with on-stage audience members to the dinosaur innuendo and clever songs about sexuality, everyone laughed all the way. My personal favorite part is when a T-Rex and Velociraptor are caught in a… shall we say, awkward situation by another T-Rex. I won’t mention what was going on, but I will tell you that the first T-Rex said, “Don’t move! She can’t see us if we don’t move!” That line alone was well-worth the price of admission! And of course getting a chance to be stared down by the narrator of the show, Morgan Freeman. Or maybe it was Samuel L. Jackson… I’m not sure. =uP

The staging, singing, acting, dancing, music, audience involvement, clever Jurassic Park puns and even the Pianosaurus make Triassic Parq one heck of a fun show. As a musical theater geek and die-hard JP fan, I think that everyone should definitely go see it (that is, people who are over the age of 18 and have a good sense of humor). You’re sure to have a great time and meet some amazingly talented people.

They’ve spared no expense! Praise Lab! (Photo credit: Triassic Parq)

 

P.S. – Since we’re on the subject of Jurassic Park, who else thinks it’s interesting that only after the revitalization of the Men in Black series (another personal favorite movie series of mine) do Hollywood producers want to bring back Jurassic Park? As a fan whose been waiting since 2007 (when they first officially hinted at a new JP flick), I’d love to see a new movie in the series!

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A summer update short

Hello everyone!

Yestarday, my friend Andre and I made a short video in which we described our plans for Summer 2012. As some of you may know, I recently launched my own production company, Passing Planes Productions, so I’ve been trying to get people to like our page on Facebook. If you haven’t already done so, please visit the page at facebook.com/PassingPlanesProductions and LIKE/SHARE it.

As for the update video, I’m linking it below for all to see. It was uploaded to YouTube and Vimeo, so take your pick!

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Passing Planes Productions Facebook Page officially launched

Ladies and gentlemen, I’m proud to announce the launch of the Passing Planes Productions Facebook page! After months of deliberation, I’ve chosen a name for my own Howard Beach-based production company. Now, it’s up to you to like and share it. CHECK OUT THE FACEBOOK PAGE HERE!

The working title card for Passing Planes Productions.

I plan to write more notes on the page about the history of the name, future projects in the works, and things of that nature. Please stay tuned in for more information, and please share the page with all your friends! That step is VERY important, as you can imagine.

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May the summer begin

FINALLY finished my second semester, which was also my first year of college! I’m really glad to be able to say that, especially since my second semester really wasn’t all that enjoyable.

I just wanted to update all of my friends and readers on my summer so far. I finished class on Wednesday, so I’ve only been off for four days. Unfortunately, these past for days have been just as busy as regular class days, but I’ve reached the date where I can just relax. For a little while, at least!

Starting this upcoming week, I’m (hopefully) going to begin apprenticing at the film set of the movie Blood Ties in Brooklyn. You’ll understand why I’m so excited for this if you check out the IMDB page for the film HERE. It’s starring some serious A-list actors like Mila Kunis, Clive Owen, and James Caan. I’m hoping to learn about professional-grade filmmaking lot from the experience, and I’ll keep the blog updated with my progress.

Also this week, I’m planning to make my first professional camcorder purchase (most likely at B&H). With months of research under my belt, I’m going to be purchasing the Panasonic HMC40 alongside a Sony CG50 shotgun microphone. I’m also purchasing two professional-grade filmmaking tools on eBay: a slider track and a steadicam system. These tools are going to really improve what I do, and I can’t wait to start using them.

Lastly, I’m excited to announce the launch of my very own production company. I’ve been making short movies and videos for many years now, and I’m excited to make more under a professional company name. The plan is to launch the Facebook page on Monday, Memorial Day, so keep a look out for another post then.

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Protesting girl carried off Brooklyn College campus

As I walked from Boylan Hall to Ingersol Hall at Brooklyn College, I heard a group of people shouting something. I wasn’t sure where it was coming from, but I knew that I heard this: “No justice, no peace, F**K THE POLICE!” After looking around, I realized that what had taken place on other campuses was now taking place on my campus. The police were carrying a girl off of the campus.

The only thing I saw was two police officers carrying a girl towards the Bedford Avenue entrance of the campus while college students chanted the above saying at the officers and recorded every moment of the event on smartphones and cameras. According to one of my friends who saw the event actually take place, the police grabbed the girl because she was playing a tambourine in Boylan Hall and wouldn’t move to the side of the hallway when asked to.

The protesting girl being carried off Brooklyn College campus. (Credit: C.A. 2012)

 

If this is the main reason she was grabbed, the police were in their rights to do so. She was disturbing the peace and obstructing traffic in the building, and she refused to move. However, that doesn’t mean that the cops should’ve done it. In the words of Dr. Ian Malcolm from Jurassic Park, “they were so preoccupied with whether or not they could that they didn’t stop to think if they should.”

By doing this, the police have no doubt sparked a lot of hate amongst the protesters. I don’t think that was the smartest move at all, but I’m not a cop, so I don’t know what would have been the right move. What I really believe wasn’t right was how the police and school security staff were treated. To curse out a group of people (who we’re taught from an early age to trust) so savagely and aggressively is disgraceful. Sure, I would be scared and angry at the cops taking away one of my friends / acquaintances too, but there were less-aggressive ways to react.

Now I don’t fully agree with EITHER party involved. However what I know is wrong is how after the girl was removed and the protesters had stopped screaming, I saw some people cursing out Brooklyn College staff and shouting “Where were you!?” I think they were members of the custodial staff or the Boylan Hall medical crew, but I’m not sure. Either way, I don’t think they were involved at all, and to treat them so poorly was absolutely wrong.

One man was shouting about how the BC staff “make sh*t money,” and others were shouting about how the police were assaulting the woman. When I heard these things I lost all respect for the protesters, because these things had NOTHING to do with the problem (a girl was carried off campus by the police). It seems like they wanted something like this to happen so they could get some video for YouTube and they’d have an excuse to curse out the cops. No doubt that the cops may have wanted to be able to throw someone off campus (which is why I can’t fully side with either party), but this doesn’t change what happened: a girl disobeyed police officers on a college campus and was then removed from the campus.

UPDATE (5/10/12): President Karen Gould sent out a mass email this morning to discuss the events of protest on May 2. Here is what she said:

Dear students, faculty, and staff,

As I have stated on a number of occasions, Brooklyn College is committed to upholding the constitutional right to free speech of everyone on our campus.  As President, it is also my responsibility to ensure the safety of our college community and to ensure that its members can pursue the essential work of the college.

As you may be aware, on Wednesday, May 2, a demonstration was held on our campus that resulted in the arrest of two students. Regrettably, some of those involved have chosen to misstate or ignore the facts in order to advance their agenda.  I write you today to correct the record.

Some days prior to May 2, the college became aware, through a variety of Internet sources, of plans to hold a large demonstration on our campus for students from across New York City.  At no time did the students, faculty, or organizations responsible for coordinating the demonstration activities of May 2 approach the college to discuss their plans.  Without any notice regarding the demonstrators’ plans or the numbers of individuals who might come to our campus, we increased the number of peace officers assigned to campus entrances and took appropriate measures to safeguard our students, faculty, and staff.

Once underway, the demonstration proceeded peacefully and without incident on the central quad, much like similar events held over the past several months.  However, when signaled by a banner unfurled from the fourth floor of Boylan Hall, approximately 40-50 protesters rushed into the building and up to the second floor, chanting loudly, yelling profanities, and eventually blocking access to the hallway and nearby offices.  After ignoring repeated requests from peace officers to clear a path to all entrances, including the Office of the President, the demonstrators were escorted down the hall and out of the building.

As the crowd was exiting at the direction of public safety personnel, one of the protestors reportedly pushed a peace officer to the floor.  She sustained several injuries.  For this reason, the protestor was placed under arrest.  A second protestor refused to leave the hallway and, according to the incident report, deliberately attempted to prevent officers from escorting the crowd out of the building; she was also arrested. It is the responsibility of the district attorney’s office, not the college, to determine how these cases will proceed.

Contrary to some misinformed accounts, at no time during the demonstration on May 2 did officers from the NYPD enter our campus.  Due to information available online, the NYPD, of its own accord, placed officers outside our campus gates.  Moreover, no peace officers or other personnel on our campus used pepper spray, batons, or riot cuffs, as alleged.

Based upon the video that I and other staff members have viewed, and based upon reports from personnel on the scene, I am confident that our peace officers took appropriate action to ensure the safety of our campus, including the safety of those involved in the demonstration, and to maintain access to hallways, offices, and classrooms.  If specific allegations to the contrary come to light, we will conduct an immediate review.

Regarding the larger issues associated with this and other recent student demonstrations, I have said publicly and in writing that I share the concerns of many students and faculty about the regrettable reductions to public higher education in recent years, which have resulted in an increase in tuition costs for students and their families.  At Brooklyn College, we have been and are taking a number of steps to ensure that our neediest students are not negatively affected.  I discussed these and other relevant issues in my recent State of the College Address [http://www.brooklyn.cuny.edu/web/about/administration/president/address/2012spring.php], which I encourage you to read.  In it, I report on a number of budgetary initiatives and on a new financial assistance program for needy students that we will carry out at the campus level, the details of which will be announced later this month.

To reiterate, the college is committed to supporting free speech on campus.  This does not mean, however, that an individual or group of individuals may impede the rights of others to perform their duties and pursue their studies.  In order to work together as an educational community, the rights of everyone at Brooklyn College need to be respected so that we can fulfill the essential activities and responsibilities of our core mission.

Amen, President Gould. After reading this email, I felt fully informed about the actual events that took place on May 2, and I felt safe on my campus (two things that the protestors were not able to do for me). I fully support her and all BC staff.

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Bubbles are for blowing, not eating

This is something pretty funny I noticed in Conway at the Five Towns Mall in Long Island. A little summer product called “Bubble Up,” with a special disclaimer for kids who might like bubbles more than their friends.

Bubble Up!

 

There’s a reminder on the bottle that reads: “For blowing, not drinking.” Is this absolutely necessary?

"For blowing, not drinking." Really?

 

First of all, I think most children know that you’re not supposed to drink a bottle of bubble solution (which tastes terrible, by the way). So why the extra warning? Secondly, I don’t mean to sound like an overly sexual person, but come on. “For blowing, not drinking?” There’s definitely a better way to get that message across. How about: “For blowing bubbles. Do not drink solution?” I don’t know, maybe it’s just me. What do you guys think? Comment some possible titles below!

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NASA Enterprise flew right over me

When I was going to bed last night, I had absolutely no idea that the NASA Enterprise space shuttle was going to be piggybacking on a 747 jumbo jet and flying around New York City this morning. The reason I say this is because I had a very crazy dream involving planes…

In my dream, I was standing on the first floor of some random building with my mom and one of my best friends, Eric. I can’t remember what we were talking about, but Eric said something about seeing two planes flying really low outside (there was a huge glass window behind us). I ignored him and kept talking to my mom about whatever it is that we were talking about, but then Eric started yelling and saying the planes were getting closer. I turned around and saw two giant 747s flying practically straight at the ground. They both crashed into the building next to us, and the ground started shaking like crazy. I woke up after that.

When I got out of bed, I heard that the NASA Enterprise was piggybacking on a 747, and I got a little scared. I don’t think I’ve ever had a dream about two planes crashing like this, and now all of a sudden there were two planes flying around NYC. I’m sure I wasn’t the only New Yorker praying that the plane would land safely and that there wouldn’t be any kind of repeat of 9/11.

Thank God, both planes ended up landing safely and securely at John F. Kennedy International Airport in Queens, but not before flying directly over my mother and I as we drove to the Joseph P. Addabbo Memorial Bridge in Howard Beach to get a better view of the planes!

It was super-crowded at the beach by JFK Airport this morning. Last time I saw it like this was on 9/11.

 

It was a crazy feeling to have such an odd space shuttle / jumbo jet combo flying above you, but it also made me extremely proud to be an American. Seeing such a beautiful shuttle fly over one of the US’ greatest cities was breathtaking. It made me really think about how far this nation has come and what we’ve achieved.

The NASA Enterprise about to touch down at JFK!

 

The jet / shuttle is now housed in a hangar at JFK Airport until the summer, when it will be flown over to the USS Intrepid in Manhattan. It’s there that it will be at its final resting place, and what an honor it is to be retired onboard the Intrepid. I look forward to visiting the Enterprise one day. I can’t wait to look at the Enterprise and say: “live long and prosper.”

People watching as the A train passes by the Enterprise.

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It’s time to back Jurassic Park: Origins. PayPal style.

The awesome team working on Jurassic Park: Origins (an upcoming fan film which will be a sort of prequel to the first JP film) has recently updated the movie’s website with all sorts of new information and goodies!

Now, visitors to the site are able to donate to the project through PayPal. There are two kinds of donator groups: Contributors and Producers. Contributors are people who are willing to put anywhere from $5 to $250 towards the film, and Producers are people who are willing to put more than $250 towards the film.

Each group has a variety of really cool donation levels, ranging from $5 for your name in the credits or $25 for a DVD copy of the film (which is what I chose, by the way) to $500 for a Dennis Nedry Cryo Can Replica or $1,000 for a replica SPAS-12 Franchi Prop Shotgun! I’ve seen some of these items sell on eBay for much higher prices, so it’s cool to be able to get them as rewards for donating to what’s sure to be an amazing film.

Some of the different donation levels you can choose from on the Jurassic Park: Origins website.

Thankfully for me, I won the Cryo Can Giveaway that the Jurassic Park: Origins Facebook page had a few months back (check out my blog post HERE), so I don’t have to worry about getting together $500 to by one of the cans. I only say this because living on a college student budget is not easy, and I know that if I hadn’t won the contest I’d be going crazy to wrangle up some cash for the can!

Check out the site HERE, and donate to the project HERE! Hopefully we can make this film almost fully fan-funded (try saying that three times fast)!