Listen to me on KTRS/St. Louis every Friday, 3-6pm CT

Saturday, September 23, 2017

Where's The Soap?

One of my many pet peeves when traveling is encountering a hotel with liquid soap dispensers in the shower. Excuse me, I meant to say "bath gel."

I understand why more hotels have adopted this practice. It's cheaper to refill the dispensers every week or so than to start out each guest with a new bar of soap that may only be used for a day before it has to be thrown away.

I don't have a problem using soft soap at the sink -- a couple of pumps and I have enough to clean my hands -- but in the shower, with a body as large as mine, I've gotta hit that thing more than a dozen times to get enough volume of "bath gel." Plus, there's something more satisfying about rubbing a bar of soap against the body and lathering up.

Perhaps I'll have to start traveling with my own bar of soap, as my daughter does. She's a vegan and -- I didn't know this until she informed me -- most commercial soaps (and "bath gels") contain at least one ingredient made from animal products. So she carries her own cruelty-free bar and forgoes whatever the hotel/motel/hostel offers.

That will also keep me from smelling like whatever combination of ingredients the "bath gel" producer has chosen for their product. Apparently, to be in that business, you only have to choose two random scents and combine them. Among those I've encountered on recent trips: lemongrass sage, cucumber melon, black raspberry vanilla, and oatmeal peppercorn.

It could be worse. I could be showering with pumpkin spice bath gel.

Friday, September 22, 2017

No Show Today

I'm taking a personal day today, so I won't be on KTRS this afternoon. However, I'll make up for it with a bonus show Monday 3-6pm CT. Until then, you'll have to figure out how to start the weekend on your own.

Best Thing I've Read Today

USA Today's Nancy Armour says that the revelation that Aaron Hernandez, the former New England Patriots tight end who killed himself in prison after being convicted of murder, suffered from severe chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) will shake the NFL to its core -- and it should.

It was easy to absolve football when it is players in their 60s and 70s whose memories and personalities had disappeared, turning them into people their loved ones barely recognized when they died. There’s no definitive link, the NFL would say, alluding to a host of other environmental and lifestyle factors that might have played a role.

Even when it was Junior Seau and Dave Duerson, taking their lives in their 40s and 50s because their addled brains were already making their lives hell and they knew there was more to come, the NFL managed to tap dance around football’s responsibility. Tragic, but there are still so many unanswered questions, we’ve heard time and time and time again. More research is needed on genetics and mental illness and, well, anything else that might gum up the debate....

But a 27 year old? The NFL is going to own that whether it wants to or not.

The NFL spends considerable time and resources every year to reassure worried parents that it’s OK to let their kids play football at the youth level. But the news about Hernandez will only ratchet up the fear, making parents wonder if they’re consigning their kids to a jail cell or the morgue by allowing them to play.
As I predicted years ago when I started discussing the work of researchers like Dr. Bennet Amalu and Dr. Ann McKee, we've already seen a dramatic drop-off in the number of young kids playing organized football. That means fewer players interested in risking their brains to play the game professionally later on.

And there are quite a few fans -- myself included -- who just don't get as much joy from watching the NFL as we used to. That's a part of the reason the league's TV ratings started slipping several years ago. Stories like this, from respected sports columnists like Armour, are only going to continue to dent the NFL's image going forward.

Read Armour's full piece here.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Picture Of The Day

Thanks to Jacob Veitz for sending me the link to this funny piece by James Veitch about how he handled an unsolicited marketing email from a supermarket...

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Picture Of The Day

A very entertaining explanation of the magic behind sound design for movies and TV...

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Movie Review: "American Assassin"


Mitch Rapp has just proposed to his beautiful girlfriend on the beach in Ibiza, Spain. When he goes to the bar to get a couple of drinks to toast their engagement, all hell breaks loose. Gunmen appear out of nowhere, shooting everyone in sight. She's dead, but somehow he survives.

The next time we see him, Mitch is in training. It's clear he's working to get back at the Iranians who pulled off the terrorist attack that turned his life upside down. Meanwhile, he's attracted the attention of the CIA, which is monitoring his communications with the jihadists. Pretty soon, he's being recruited to join an elite fighting force called Orion, run by tough guy Stan Hurley, played by Michael Keaton.

As in so many other movies, everything is better when Keaton is on screen. He's still a magnetic personality, but I like him best when he's playing a rogue character. This time, however, he's the boss and Mitch is the guy who doesn't like following orders, so you know they're going to butt heads before they're forced to work together to save the world.

Did I give too much away? No, because we've seen this formula and characters like Mitch before: John McClane, Jack Reacher, Jason Bourne. The kind of guy who can withstand a brutal fistfight, shoot you dead with the last bullet in his gun, and somehow know exactly where the bad guy is at just the right time. It's also the kind of movie where the bad guy doesn't kill the good guy because he wants his nemesis to see the havoc he's about to wreak (never mind the collateral damage of the rest of the people on the good guy's side). So, you're unlikely to be surprised by anywhere "American Assassin" takes you, including a finale that may remind you of a 2002 movie based on a Tom Clancy book.

That said, Dylan O'Brien, who plays Mitch, is very good in the role, and I have a feeling we'll see him as this character again, considering "American Assassin" is based on just one of sixteen Mitch Rapp novels in print. Of course, a lot of people said the same thing about Taylor Kitsch five years ago when he graduated from TV star on "Friday Night Lights" to action movie star in "John Carter," but that didn't quite work out. So it's ironic that Kitsch shows up in "American Assassin" as a bad guy. The cast also includes Sanaa Lathan as the CIA authority figure trying to keep both Mitch and Stan under control while simultaneously supporting every rogue move they pull off.

Last week, in discussing Jeremy Renner, I mentioned "Kill The Messenger," an underrated 2014 title in which he starred as real-life journalist Gary Webb, who uncovered the CIA's role in importing cocaine into American ghettoes in the 1990s. That movie was well directed by Michael Cuesta, who also does a good job with "American Assassin." He gets the action sequences right, doesn't telegraph what's coming next, and lets Keaton be Keaton, which always helps.

I give "American Assassin" a 6.5 out of 10.