Monthly Archives: January 2014

Heaven Can Wait & Hang ’em High

As the weather this weekend was snowy and cold cold cold I rented some movies from the library. The two I watched this weekend were Heaven Can Wait and Hang ’em High.

Heaven Can Wait (1943)

Directed by Ernst Lubitsch. A dead man visits the devil to ask to go to hell because he doesn’t think he will make it into heaven. He recounts his life to his “excellency”. The movie is based on a play called Birthday. The main character goes by Henry van Cleve. The movie takes place over 70 years (starting around 1887) in New York City with a side trip to Kansas. It was a pretty good movie. The change in dress and decoration over the time periods was interesting. The van Cleve home is at 921 5th Avenue in New York. I did a Google Map search and I don’t think it exists.

Henry had a crazy life and a strange family. He was a playboy and a smooth talker. To me he was neither likable or unlikable. I guess he was a bit complex. The devil looked very modern and urban. Overall the movie was okay. I don’t think it is anything great but I wouldn’t say avoid it either.

Hang ’em High (1968)

Clint Eastwood plays a man accused of vigilantes of murder and cattle rustling. He is hung but makes it out alive. He then becomes a lawman with an aim to get justice from those who wronged him. The movie takes place in Oklahoma when it was still a territory in 1889. Capital punishment seems to be a central theme for this movie. The judge (the only one in the whole territory) sees being tough on crime as a way to get statehood for the territory. Our hero disagrees with the methods and decisions of the judge at several points in the movie.

The characters were a bit predictable. One of the bad guys had an eye-patch. The love interest has a grudge. Clint Eastwood plays the strong, silent type that always gets the job done. The ending was – unsatisfactory. I have been on a western kick but there are better ones out there. I wouldn’t go very far out of the way to watch this one.

Have you seen any good movies lately?

An Afternoon with the Wisconsin State Senate

This past Wednesday I was off of work early and headed downtown to get a copy of my birth certificate. I had two hours to burn so I headed for the State Capitol. After wandering around and listening a bit to the Solidarity Singers I asked the man at the desk if anybody was in session today. He said that the Senate would be convening at 2 PM. I ventured out of the building to get some Pelmeni for lunch and then made it back in time to settle into the gallery of the Senate chamber to watch the proceedings. I took some notes and below are some of my impressions of the event.

-The session started at 2pm. I got there 10 minutes early. I was the only person in the gallery at that time. The people in the chamber (legislators, aides, security and administrative people) were talking and catching up a bit.
– The room is very ornate and has a certain gravity or weight to it. Kind of like when you walk into a church or something. It is hard to explain. I can’t imagine how much it would cost to rebuild the Capitol today. Continue reading

Walking on the Water – Lake Mendota in the Winter

Today while I was waiting the two hours for my bread dough to rise I decided to take a walk. The temperature was around 30F and that is pert near the best winter temperature there is in my book. I headed to the lakefront as it has been awhile since I have been down there. I saw the ice fishers and decided today was a beautiful day for a walk on Lake Mendota. I left from Marshall Park (techinically in Madison) and left at the Middleton Boat Landing near Captain Bills and Harbor Athletic Club. I took few pictures below:

Sun over the Trees

I like this picture; the texture of the clouds appeals to me. I took this from the lake. There are a lot of mature trees right on the water. I think they would help the property values quite a bit. Continue reading

Cabin Fever

It always seems that the heart of winter leads me to think about the greener grass of summer. It is easy to escape to the future and the better times ahead. But these daydreams come at the expense of the present.

I generally spend a lot of time inside during the winter avoiding the cold, but in summer I spend a lot of time avoiding the heat. Sometimes I will take a walk but generally once I get home I stay inside. Sometimes I get to thinking where I am going; what is my destination?

Overture Center for the Arts

I was riding my bike to work earlier this week on the bike path and I saw bootprints and a set of dog paw prints in the freshly fallen snow. They pretty much moved in straight lines but the dog Continue reading


I recently watched Yojimbo. It is the movie that A Fistful of Dollars was inspired by. It is Japanese and is about a bodyguard (yojimbo in Japanese) that comes into a town and sets out to destroy the two rival gangs that are terrorizing the regular townsfolk. It is directed by Akira Kurosawa who also directed The Hidden Fortress and Seven Samurai. I would recommend all three of these movies.

I really liked this movie even though I kind of knew the plot line because I had recently watched A Fistful of Dollars. One thing that stood out to me was the music. It was well done and really helped to set the tone and mood of the story. The main character inspired confidence. I had a hard time keeping track of which villain was which sometimes but I got the main gist of it. One interesting twist was the fact that most of the fighting was done with swords. There was only one gun in the movie which gives the gun wielder quite an advantage. Bringing a knife to a gun fight indeed.

If you like the man with no name trilogy I would give this movie a try.

Badger Hockey Game vs Michigan 11 January 2014

Recently I had the opportunity to attend a Badger Hockey game at the Kohl Center. I had a great time and the Badgers pulled off a win in an exciting game. You can read a recap of the game here.

My friend and I had very good seats (but they came at $40 apiece). My only complaint is that when the action was in the one corner we had a hard time seeing the action. We also missed out on much of the fight in the last minute. But these are small things.

Opening puck drop Wisconsin vs Michigan 11/Jan/2013

Opening puck drop Wisconsin vs Michigan 11/Jan/2014

From the conversations around me I think we were in the season ticket holder section. Everybody seemed to know everybody else. And the guy sitting a few rows down from us lead a chant after every Badger’s score. If you have been to a game maybe you will recognize him.

This man lead a chant after every Badger's goal

This man lead a chant after every Badger’s goal

We went out and about downtown Madison both before and after the game. We stopped into Brocach on the square, Capital Tap Haus, Hawk’s, the Red Shed, Wando’s and Diego’s. I was mostly drinking Miller High Life (I had an obligatory Harp at Brocach and of course a Capital beer at the Capital Tap Haus). All of the bottles of High Life I had were expired save one. You can see the expiration date printed right on the bottle in yellow ink. The most egregious example was a bottle of beer that expired on September 30th 2013. If you work at a bar please be sure to rotate stock.

We used a cab company to get to and from downtown. On the way back the cab driver was doing 55 in a 35 down University Avenue. That was an experience! He was discussing how the company works (He leases the cab for a fixed price per hour and also pays gas. Any money he makes is his. It is quite interesting). There seemed to be a shortage of cabs on state street at around 1:30-2:00 am when we were there. We waited 25 minutes for ours to show up.

Overall I had a good time. The game was fun and getting out of the house was nice. Catching up with an old friend was a plus as well.

Have you ever been to a Badger Hockey game?

Three Westerns and a Documentary

I have been on a movie watching binge recently thanks to the sub zero temperatures. In the past week I have viewed the following movies:

Django Unchained – I am a little late to this party but this was a great movie. I enjoyed it very much, even though it was a little gory for my tastes. (But I should have expected it with Tarantino). Although it was not 100% historically accurate it was fun to watch. My favorite character was easily Dr. Schultz. I was also intrigued by the female tracker with the scarf but the story never gave any back story about her. If you don’t mind a lot of violence I highly recommend this film.

The Good, The Bad, The Weird – is a South Korean film based on The Good, The Bad and the Ugly. It follows a similar story line but is set in Manchuria in the 1930’s. It was fun and had a good pace. The scenery was different than most westerns because it is set in Asia. This movie also has quite a bit of violence but overall it is pretty good.

A Fistful of Dollars – is the first movie in “The Man With No Name Trilogy” by Sergio Leone starring Clint Eastwood. A hired gone blows into a dusty town orchestrates the destruction of the two rival gangs. This was a fun movie, but not as good as the other two in the series in my opinion.

Under the Boardwalk: The Monopoly Story – is a documentary about all things Monopoly and follows a few players to the National and International Monopoly Championships. It goes through the history of the game, it’s place in pop culture, and the people who play for championships. I like some of these quirky documentaries (see also Word Wars & Triviatown). A fun watch, especially if you like to play Monopoly.

Have you seen any good movies lately?

A Very Cold Monday

Today was a very cold day. Temperatures reached -18 F in Middleton with wind chills well below that. As I write this it is currently -15 F with a wind chill of -36 F.

The temperature in Celsius

The temperature in Celsius

The temperature in Fahrenheit

The temperature in Fahrenheit

This cold weather was predicted and last Thursday my employer sent out an email stating that we could take the day off if we felt it best. They also stated this day could be made up throughout the week, we could use Paid Time Off (PTO) or we could take it unpaid. I decided to stay home today and I will take the day unpaid.

As soon as I knew it was going to be this cold I decided I wasn’t going to go into work. Any time the weather is described as “life-threatening” I regard that as a sign to only travel if necessary. I did however have to decide whether or not to use a PTO day or not. I eventually decided to take the day unpaid. My first reason for this is because I can make up the shortfall using overtime hours later. My second reason is that I only have a finite number of vacation days and I they are very valuable for me. Our policy is written to discourage using unpaid days off to extend vacations. This was a chance to have an extra day off using an unpaid day with the blessing of the company.

I knew that I didn’t want to waste this day so I made a list of things to accomplish or at least work on. I did some studying for my next insurance exam (see my Goals page). I put away my laundry and did my dishes. I also watched a movie (The Good, The Bad, The Weird). More importantly I spent minimal time on Facebook, Reddit and the like. I felt like I had a productive day. In the end I was very happy that I decided to stay home.

I will feel this day off in my next paycheck but I will survive. I have a nice cushion and this January is a 3 payday month. Would you have taken the day off in this scenario?

The closing of

I went to today to catch up on the headlines and stories around Europe only to find that the site has lost funding and will no longer be operating. Apparently it was funded by the European Commission and they ended the funding. I really liked the site because it translated articles from different languages into English so I could read from many great newspapers around Europe no matter what language the story was originally published in. The tagline of the site was “The Best of the European Press”. It seemed like a good place to get a feel of what was happening in Europe. They also went through the headlines of the newspapers and had political cartoons from different countries. I would often download the days news onto my e-reader and catch up with the old world on my bus ride to work or on my lunch break.

I am saddened that I will no longer have this source to get information about Europe. I will have to try to find another site that does a similar function. From what I read in the comments they are kind of keeping a blog called Hopefully I can find out from there if a new website is started. Do you know of any similar sites? Have you ever visited Press Europe?