Justin McLeod's Blog

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo -  I never read the book but saw the Swedish movie version.  David Fincher's American version is much more detailed.  That can be a good thing.  For example, Lisbeth's character is more developed in this version.  Rooney Mara is fine in the role but I liked Noomi Rapace better in the Swedish film.  My biggest complaint about this movie is that it is way too long.  David Fincher's movies often are.  I think he could have cut 20 minutes from this movie without hurting it.  It is more than 2 hours and 30 minutes.  Yikes.  I give this movie a B.

War Horse -  This is about a horse during World War I.  It is a Steven Spielberg film.  It is beautifully shot and it is amazing how Spielberg gets these horses to act.  Also loved the music.  John Williams has come up with another memorable score.  With a lot of Spielberg movies, you have to take a leap of faith.  Think Jurassic Park or E.T.   With War Horse, it is harder to take a leap of faith when there's such a serious subject matter like war.  What this horse went through in this movie is unrealistic and unbelievable.  Take the scene where the horse gets tangled in barbed wire.  Both sides put down their weapons and walk out on the battlefield to help the horse.  Really?  C'mon, I don't ever see this happening in real life.  War is ugly, not sentimental.  I give this movie a B+.

Shame - This is theNC-17 movie about a sex addict.  This was the first NC-17 movie I've seen.  It was kinda weird.  In the theater, it seemed people were sitting away from one another like we were about to see a porno.  Yes, there is a lot of sex and nudity in this film but I never felt the nudity was too much or got in the way of the story.  Believe it or not, it actually had a purpose.  The movie stars Michael Fassenber.  He is excellent in the film and is getting a lot of Oscar buzz for Best Actor.  He deserves it.  I doubt he will win because of the subject matter.  However, he gives a great performance.  I really liked this movie.  I give it an A-

The Artist -  This is a French romance film taking place during the silent movie era.  Guess what?  It is silent.  There is no dialogue in this movie.  Surprisingly, the movie is actually very entertaining.  The character's facial expressions tell you how they feel.  I especially liked Berenice Bejo.  She is a beautiful and talented actress.  The Artist is definitely a crowd pleaser.  People actually clapped at the end of the movie.  This is getting a lot of Oscar buzz for Best Picture.  It is considered the front runner.  I am not sure it is the Best Picture of the year but it is still very good.  I give it an A-. 

Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy -  This is a British spy movie in the height of the cold war.  It stars Gary Oldman.  I never knew a spy movie could be so boring.  This movie is tough to watch.  I give it a B-.

We Bought a Zoo -  This movie is based on a true story.  Matt Damon is a single dad who decides to buy a zoo to have a fresh start.  This movie is touching and well told.  However, it is too long, and Director Cameron Crowe couldn't seem to end the movie.  It just went on and on.  Even though this movie is based on a true story, I just didn't buy it could happen in real life.  Sorry.  Call me a grump.  I give this movie a B. 


December 2

Christmas Controversy

The town of Floyd recently held its annual Christmas parade.  In a tease, News 7 referred to it as a holiday parade.  Plenty of people wrote and called to complain.  Some feel we were purposely trying to avoid the word Christmas.  One woman wrote, "Shame on News 7." I don't have an exact explanation why we called it a holiday parade rather than a Christmas parade.  I don't think there was any intent to offend people.  But I think it is a good time to remind folks that there is no conspiracy, at least at WDBJ, to not say Christmas.  I've been with WDBJ for more than a decade and no one has ever told me I can't say the word Christmas on the air.  Never.  

The Christmas controversy pops up everytime this year.  The governor of Rhode Island indicated this week he wants to call the state's tree a holiday tree.  This has caused an uproar.  To me, it has and always will be a Christmas tree, not a holiday tree.  I think we've been saying Christmas since the beginning of time.  Why change now?  You wouldn't say Happy Holidays to a person who celebrates Hanukkah or Kwanzaa.

Some believe saying Christmas offends people.  While that maybe true, I don't think you can make everyone happy.  I also question whether people are really hurt when they hear the word Christmas.   I feel strongly that most Americans prefer using the word Christmas over holiday.  I can't be sure.  So I have an idea, that will put this controversy to bed once and for all.  Let's conduct a nationwide poll.  We hire an independent company.  No trick questions.  Just make it simple.  Do you prefer to call it Christmas or the holidays?  The news media does polls all the time, especially for political candidates.  It can't be that hard.  We do a poll and let the majority win.  It is that simple.  What do you think?


November 21

Worst Job Ever

If you are a frequent reader of my blog then you know I love movies.  I go almost every weekend.  So you may be surprised to hear one of my worst jobs was working at a movie theater.  It happened when I was in college in Boston.  Sure, I got free movie tickets, but when you are in college, you don't have time to go often.  

It was a terrible job for many reasons.  The company was obsessed with upselling.  Managers would hang sheets in the breakroom listing who sold the most large combos.  I was usually on the bottom of the list.  I just couldn't understand why we needed to convince people to buy a medium, rather than a small drink when you got free refills.  Managers would also count the cups before you started your shift because they didn't want you stealing or giving them away free.  Total silliness.

I learned early on, the popcorn isn't fresh.  It is usually days old.  We popped and bagged it for use later in the week.  One day I was put in charge of making the popcorn.  Big mistake.  At one point, the popcorn machine ran out of oil.  I added some, but unfortunately I hooked it back up the wrong way.  I went to press the button releasing the oil and it started gushing out all over the floor.  I couldn't stop it.  It was a mess to clean up.  

Tuesday afternoons were typically slow.  I worked the concession stand by myself.  One day, this woman comes storming out of a theater and yells, "I demand to see a manager."  I said "ma'am what's the matter?"  She screamed back- there are two homeless men doing inappropriate things (sexual) in the theater.  I got the managers.  They were both women and refused to go in.  Instead, they called the police.  A couple of officers showed up 90 minutes later.  By that time, the two homeless men knew something was up and left.  

The job wasn't always bad.  One afternoon I was working the ticket booth when Neil Patrick Harris walked up to buy a ticket.  I knew immediately who he was.  Keep in mind this was after Doogie Howser, but before he became popular again with "How I Met Your Mother."  I didn't have the guts to say anything to him.  Oh well, I missed my chance.

Needless to say, I lasted one semester.  I went home for Christmas break and never returned.  It is the only time I didn't actually quit a job.  Looking back, it was rude, but I must say I don't miss working at the movie theater.   


November 17

Child Sex Abuse

The Penn State sex abuse case has produced plenty of outrage, as it should.  The magnitude of the outrage has baffled me a bit.  I don't understand why there hasn't been a similar reaction to other cases.

Take the sex abuse scandal that has rocked the Catholic Church.  Cardinal Bernard Law was the Archbishop of Boston.  There is ample evidence he knew priests were molesting children and he covered it up.  We are not talking about a few priests or a few children.  For example, John Geoghan was accused of abusing at least seven young boys in 1984.  What did Law do?  He approved Geoghan's transfer to another parish.  This is just one example.  There are many more.  Cardinal Law eventually resigned as Archbishop of Boston.  He never went to jail.  Instead, Law was reassigned to the Vatican where he remains today.  What a slap in the face to all those victims.  Joe Paterno is gone but now Law?  This doesn't make any sense.  Certainly, there was outrage when Law moved to Vatican but not on the same level as the Penn State situation.  Why?  I am not sure.

In an interview with Bob Costas this week, Former assistant Penn State football coach Jerry Sandusky admitted to taking showers with young boys.  Again, people are outraged.  They should be.  It is disgusting and inappropriate.  What I don't get is that a few years ago Michael Jackson admitted in an interview that he allowed young boys to sleep in his bed.  If you don't want to believe Jackson was a child molester fine but why is it ok for him to sleep with boys?  He should have known better.  Where was the outrage then?

While I am at it, I don't believe a child molester can be rehabilitated.  Some believe they should be sent to counseling rather than jail.  I strongly disagree.  If you sexually abuse a child you should be punished.  It is that simple.  It is my opinion when you sexually abuse a child you are screwing up that kid for the rest of their life.  I am not saying we should put a child molester away for the rest of their life but they deserve some jail time. 


November 4th

Political Satire

Election Day is Tuesday.  I am looking forward to it.  Why?  By Wednesday, the political ads will be off the airwaves.  I hate these ads.  They are full of lies, half truths, and exaggerations.  To prove my point, I thought we could have a little fun at my expense.  Let's pretend I am a Virginia Delegate running for re-election. I'm going to address the charges made against me in these ads.  Keep in mind this is satire.  If you believe anything I say you should have your head examined.  Deal?

I grew up in Massachusetts so I am automatically a liberal, right?  I've lived in Virginia for more than 10 years but it doesn't matter, I don't know Virginia values.  I am an outsider.  I'm clearly not fit to hold office in Virginia.

My opponent's ads point out I'm not listed in the phone book.  He calls it shameful.  I plead guilty.  I am not in the phone book.  I am more of a texter than a talker.  Sorry.

I admit I am close friends with President Obama.  As a member of Virginia's House of Delegates, President Obama calls me once a week and orders me to vote for his job killing policies and his failed stimulus plan.  You may not realize this but President Obama sponsors many bills that are voted on by Virginia's House.  I only met Obama once during a campaign stop a few years ago but we are still very close.  

You may have received a flier in the mail warning voters if they vote for me, their jobs won't be safe.  It is true.  I don't want you to have a job.  In fact, I hope everyone in my district loses their job.  

While I am at it, I might as well admit I am a liar and a tax cheat.  I hope the IRS doesn't read this.

My opponent is criticizing me for voting to cut funding to education.  He is right again.  I am not a supporter of education.  I don't think your kids should be educated.  I support shutting down all the schools.  However, I take issue with the charge that I cut funding to Virginia Tech.  Not true.  I am a huge fan of Virginia Tech football.  How could I hurt my Hokies?

If you vote for me, your Social Security and Medicare could be in jeopardy.  Granted these are federal programs but there is a chance Congress could fold and Virginia's House of Delegates will have to vote to continue these programs.  There is a slim chance but it could happen.

Before being elected to Virginia's House, I was a prosecutor.  My opponent says I let criminals go free.  He is right.  I want our streets to be unsafe.  I want crime to go up.  So I personally drove over to the jail, opened the cells, and let the criminals out.

I realize these political ads are a waste of time and money.  I would stop but my opponent started it.  I respectively ask for your vote on Tuesday.  Time to go, President Obama keeps calling!


October 18

Pet Peeves

I am a self-proclaimed curmudgeon.  I am especially irritable in the morning.  Just ask my co-workers.  I have plenty of pet peeves and I want to share some of mine.  These are in no particular order.  I hope they will make you think and maybe make you laugh.

1.  Political Ads.  Here we go again.  I hate political ads.  They are outrageous, misleading, and often just wrong.  The latest are no exception.  One candidate is criticizing his opponent for not being in the phone book  Guess what?  I am not in the phone book either.  Does that make me a bad person?  I also love the ones where they claim, if elected, they will get southside back to work.  Southside has had high unemployment for more than a decade.  What makes you think you alone will solve that problem?  Some of these ads are actually from incumbents.  Here's my question, so what did you do in your last term to get southside back to work?  You haven't had much results so far.  I am also annoyed by the ones that say if you elect this person he or she will raise your taxes.  The truth is he or she only has one vote.  They would have to convince their colleagues to vote to raise taxes before it can happen.  I call this scare tactics.  You are a fool if you believe any of these ads.  Sound outrageous?  Think about it.