Category: Entertainment

My Nightmare Vacation to Puerto Rico in 2021 – Part III – Welcome to Paradise

We got in, drank some water, and slept. The next morning we were elated to have survived our long trip and have 3 or so days to enjoy the beach, local culture and in general relax. The COVID Lock-down had been tough on everyone, but this was a chance to breathe fresh air and generally enjoy a somewhat normal life.

Can you actually be mad at that view??? In complete transparency, this might have been a sunset after the sun was down, but damn it’s a great view.

After waking up and being grateful for our wonderful accommodations our property manager sent a text and we briefly relayed what had happened up to this point. She took the time to get out and bring us a hot breakfast of eggs and sausage in some to-go containers, bread, milk, and some deli meat. It wasn’t Michelin starred, but it was very kind of her and much appreciated.

Once we had realized how helpless we were I began calling around to car rental locations attempting to secure any vehicle. This is happening after COVID and most rental agencies had sold off a lot of their fleet since no one was traveling nor renting cars. Great business, horrible situation for us.

I finally reached the Hertz at the local airport and they had a car coming back that afternoon. I’ll take it! Now, how to get to the airport and get the rental? I called a taxi company and they could get a guy to us at about 2pm. Things are starting to look up for our vacation.

My taxi driver showed up and after he got through security (they called us to verify), I hopped in the car still hoping I wasn’t about to lose any organs. Fortunately he was very kind and chatty. Given we’re on an island I made sure to ask him for a seafood place recommendation. He suggested Gonzalez’s Sea Food Restaurant (that’s their spelling on Google Maps). Excellent. He told me about his days watching baseball at the local stadium we drove by, talked highly of Yadier Molina, and finally got me to the Hertz without issue.

I went in and the counter person was very friendly. He helped me understand the tollway surcharges, we went over the car looking for any imperfections, and checked the gas level. Aside – be sure to note any imperfections when renting a car in PR. They are very particular about that where I have never had anyone care when I rented a car here in the mainland.

Before I left the tiny airport I asked the Hertz representative if he had any seafood recommendations. Once again, to my surprise, he recommended Gonzalez’s. Sold. That would be dinner to get us on solid footing for our long needed vacation from COVID and everyday life.

On my way back to the condo I stopped at a little local grocer and picked up some things. Some food items, sunscreen, and odds and ends for our stay until our luggage made it down to us after being lost. Despite my stupidity in not learning Spanish, the employees were very friendly and helpful. I had some basics and we could head to the closest Wal-mart the next day for anything else. Plastic film bags are essentially outlawed, so be sure to bring your own bags. No one told me, but I made it to the car.

Back at the condo Jen and I hopped in the car and headed to Wal-mart. Other than some regional items, it’s the same as back in Illinois. This made it easy to go through and get some clothes, toiletries, and then on our way to the condo. The drive was scenic and quite beautiful up and down the streets and ocean side roads.

We changed and prepared to head to dinner. Finally our vacation is on track and we can enjoy ourselves. We plugged Gonzalez into Maps and headed out to dinner. When we arrived the restaurant was packed even with it being an hour until close. Oh well. We got in and seated within 30 minutes. I ordered steak – yes, I know. Steak at a seafood restaurant? Look, I’m not that into seafood, but Jen is so here we are now. Jen ordered a shrimp plate and we ordered sangria. While waiting we had some bread and the complimentary seafood stew.

The sangria tasted like alcoholic grape soda. The fish stew was very good though. My steak was tough and the shrimp was inedible. Oh well. A misfire, but vacation is started! We laughed and enjoyed the relaxed atmosphere despite dinner.

We headed back to the condominium and got ready for a fun day ahead. Plans of glass bottom boat tours, time on the beach, bio-luminescent pools and general relaxation is the agenda. Let the good times roll!

How can you NOT be excited with a view like that?

About that horror kick…

Well, we still haven’t watched Found Footage 3D, but we did start a trial of ‘Shudder’ via Amazon Prime. I have to say if you like the horror genre or even sci-fi it’s definitely worth checking out the trial. I found no less than 6 movies in the first look through.

I can’t say whether they’ll all be winners yet but I do know that many of the films seem interesting. In addition to the new possibilities and original series that are available there are quite a few classic horror movies to watch including Hellraiser, The Texas Chain Saw Massacre, Phantasm, and a surprising number of horror films set around and on Christmas. I suppose I get ‘…scary ghost stories…’ from It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year now.

I think you should go give it a shot and see what you can find. I’m currently watching Severance. It’s British, kinda dryly funny, and not scary yet, but I’m only 20 minutes in.

Phil Robertson, the First Amendment, and Idiots

So, I don’t like Duck Dynasty. No big deal. That’s not the reason for me spouting off about this latest controversy. Duck Dynasty is about a family that got rich making a good product. Good for them. They are the poster-family for the hunting/redneck lifestyle. Again, good for them. I wish them nothing but the best in life.

Now, they are being made martyrs for a few comments made by the patriarch, Phil Robertson. Here is the specific quote in question from GQ:

Everything is blurred on what’s right and what’s wrong. Sin becomes fine…Start with homosexual behavior and just morph out from there. Bestiality, sleeping around with this woman and that woman and that woman and those men,”

Well, he has his opinion and that’s fine. He has a popular medium to disseminate that opinion which is good for him. He has every right to spout off what he thinks while not inciting violence and with few other restrictions. I’m glad he has that right and I have mine to write here and post my remarks. That is the crux of the First Amendment.

He is not being punished for using those rights. People are espousing that he is being persecuted for his (christian) beliefs, etc. Nope. You’re wrong and if you can’t see that then you qualify as an idiot in my opinion. He is being punished because the television show which he participates in thinks that this will cause a ruckus and may damage the brand and/or show. It might to a certain degree, but what it will really do is make the brand stronger than ever because while a few moderates will drop off as fans because of this kerfuffle even more (christian) people will dig in their heels and swear allegiance to the ‘poor man who is being persecuted for stating his beliefs’. 

In reality A&E did the best thing possible to strengthen their brand and probably increase awareness (and profits). Judging by the fervor I am seeing via Facebook and Twitter their plan is working wonderfully. They are increasing ownership of current fans and pulling in the millions who consider this an attack on their religion instead of the brand protection/promotion that it is really.

So, he said what he wanted. A&E is protecting/promoting. No one is being punished for saying what they think. I saw someone compare him to Miley Cyrus being applauded for her recent weirdness and poor Phil being persecuted. No. Phil exercised his rights as did Miley. Miley arguably increased her brand as did Phil. The conservative groups speak ill of Miley and adore Phil. Two sides of the coin both increasing their coin.

If you cannot see these things, I pity you.

There is no such thing as ‘piracy’ Part 2

This post became too long for one sitting, so it has been divided. Read the first part here.

Now we can move into the point of my original post – file sharing sites, BitTorrent, and other methods of distributing media are not piracy. They are methods of distribution. Piracy can be defined loosely as robbing or violence committed against someone or something (a corporation perhaps). When someone downloads a movie via Megaupload or a song via Frostwire they are not robbing anyone nor committing an act of violence. The RIAA and MPAA would have you believe that they are being robbed of income they would have received if the CD/DVD would have been sold in a store. That seems like a reasonable analogy, but they ignore the fact that research has been performed that shows one of three things:

  1. The person is a fan of the artist or movie and will purchase the work anyway.
  2. The person would never have purchased the music or movie.
  3. The person has purchased the item previously and is obtaining a digital copy.

Think about those items. If #1 is true, then the RIAA/MPAA has not lost any money. The person who got their copy of the work through an illegal distribution channel is going to give money to pay for the work, they merely used a different path to get the work at one point. If we consider #2, then the RIAA/MPAA still have not lost any money because the person has no intention of purchasing a DVD/CD or going to the theater. #2 is what the big corporations point out and hope you don’t think about too much. #2 has always existed, however this person can now download and have the music easily instead of making a tape copy or ripping a CD to their computer. #2 would never have purchased the work even if file sharing sites did not exist.

I am most likely to be in the #3 category should I ever download a work. I have purchased only a few CDs in the past few years for myself. Generally, I attribute this to getting older and not caring for much pop music. Still, I have purchased several hundred CDs and DVDs over my lifetime. If my ‘Alice in Chains:Unplugged’ CD gets scratched, I would easily consider downloading a copy from a torrent. Does this make me a criminal? No, it means that I used an illegal distribution channel to obtain another copy of a work that I paid for previously. The big corporations do not like this because it does not use hard media channels they control like DVD or CD purchases.

None of these acts constitutes piracy. What these acts do amount to is using illegal distribution channels to get a copy of a work. People obtained an illegal copy without using the proper distribution channel. There was no violence. There was no robbing since 1 and 3 will pay or have paid for the work downloaded, and 2 has no intention of ever paying for the work. Unfortunately piracy is an emotional word that people can relate to, and the news outlets can use this word to scare you or sound interesting.

That is my explanation of why there is no such thing as piracy. Yes, a copy may have been made illegally, but that means copyright law was broken. This does not mean someone or something (company) was robbed or violently attacked. People sold illegal copies of cassettes and CDs at flea markets however they were just called criminals. The same can be said for those using file-sharing websites, but it sounds much more evil to call them PIRATES. While these vicious pirates keep making illegal copies, the industries keep making record profits.

There is no such thing as ‘piracy’ Part 1

This post became so long that I divided it between two separate posts. This first post attempts to explain that the MPAA/RIAA are good at hiding money, do make money, and have always controlled distribution channels.

So, people have been saying for the past decade how movie/film/TV piracy is destroying the livelihoods of everyone from the janitor at NBC Studios to the radio DJ to the kid selling CDs at your local music shop. Websites which allow the easy transfer of media between people have been described as nothing short of abominations and safe harbors for criminals. We (collective) thieves and criminals only use these networks to steal material from the good and hard-working people who create the blockbuster movies we watch while munching popcorn every Friday night. We thieves rob the MPAA mebers of the ability to make more movies by stealing their hard work. We take food from the mouths of camera men and their children. Musical acts such as Jay-Z and Taylor Swift can not keep putting out albums if piracy continues unabated. Every song we thieves download from file-sharing sites takes away money that could be used to sign and develop the next Metallica or Ozzy Osbourne. File-sharing sites have no legitimate purpose other than to steal. This has been and is the mantra from the RIAA and MPAA.

Well, there are some major fallacies and discrepancies between what the MPAA and RIAA would have you believe and the truth. To begin with, the MPAA and RIAA members have been reporting record profits despite the horrific piracy that threatens their existence. So, that shuts down the argument that these organizations are unable to keep the lights on in the office. It would seem to me that this means they should be expanding, and are not struggling to survive as they would have us believe.

Secondly, the movie and record industries use some very creative accounting to keep any movie or record from ever making a profit. Would you believe that Star Wars has never made a penny? It’s true. The guy who played Darth Vader (under the suit) has not received a penny of the over 1/2 BILLION dollars which Star Wars has actually netted. The RIAA is pretty good at this type of accounting too. Put simply, these corporations are broke as can be if you subscribe to their accounting methods. Fortunately, we live in the real world and can see that they are merely cheating the United States tax system. So, piracy isn’t breaking the bank, then why are these trade groups saying that it is destroying them?

We should look at the business models of the RIAA and MPAA to begin to explain their arguments/lies. Until the past few years music and movies had always been bought and sold as hard copies. This holds true for VHS, DVD, BD, record, tape, CD and if you reach way back – 8-track. Members of the RIAA and MPAA have always been the primary controllers of these media. Sure, independent shops existed, but big companies have a close relationship with radio stations and other ways to promote their hard copy productions. Movie studios do a great job of using fast food toys to advertise to kids. These facts show that until very recently media distribution was performed via hard copy by large corporations. There were no mass distribution channels without one of the studios behind you.

Recently, this has changed with the advent of iTunes, Spotify, BitTorrent, and other file-sharing sites.

 Part 2 will be released later and explains why piracy is nothing more than illegal distribution, and seems to not harm the industries in actuality.