Posted in Freedom Friday, Other Things


I’m a collector. I collect anything that I feel has value. As an example, I collect headphones. Don’t ask me why. I just do. I own a pair of Sony noise canceling headphones, a pair of Sennheiser earbuds and headphones, and I’ve lost count of how many Apple earbuds I have in my possession. Last time I checked, I only have one pair of ears I carry around with me every day. What can I say? I like listening to my music my way.

Sennheiser HD 202
Sennheiser HD 202

For a time, I used to collect movies. I know it sounds strange, but it’s what I used to do. I couldn’t walk out of a video store without purchasing something. I own the entire Lord of the Rings collection. I also bought multiple versions of the Godfather collection, including the restored version, which I think is great. But if you’ve seen the Godfather a billion times like I have, the gold tones in the film are rather distracting. I can’t tell you how many different versions of the Alien collection I own either. Somewhere along the line I went crazy purchasing every set I could find. Yeah, I’m a fan. Now, don’t think I’m heavy on the drama, fantasy and sci-fi genres. My vice is owning all of the movies to the Bring It On collection. What can I say? They’re hilarious.

As silly as it sounds, I’ve gone insane with my music collection, too. How do I describe buying anything associated with Led Zeppelin without seeming like a lunatic? I own their earlier works, their box sets, their remasters, their remasters of remasters, their solo works, their tribute albums. I would go as far as stating I’m a Led Zep die-hard fan, but I won’t. I think my cloud collection speaks for itself. Additionally, I collect oldies albums from the 50’s and 60’s. What can I say? I like listening to those old tunes.

Greek Style Fries
Greek Style Fries

Topping off my list is my silly collection of food photos I’ve been snapping whenever I take the family out to eat. I have a lot of those. Call me OCD. I find food photos to be not only great images to salivate over, but also an awesome springboard to jump start meal ideas. I know. I’m strange. But I can attest they make great conversation pieces.

Okay, one more. I collect photos of a particular tree shedding its leaves in the fall. Once a year, I visit a specific spot in the woods to take the photo. I have many. I’m not sure when my fixation started, but it has kept me busy.

I think that’s it. I collect other stuff, too, but nothing as extravagant as Jerry Seinfeld’s collection of Porsche. Wouldn’t that be something? Where would I put them all? Don’t ask me.

Get the Ranger Martin trilogy now!

Do you collect anything?

Posted in Wednesday Warriors

Michael Corleone

“I’ll make him an offer he can’t refuse.” ~Don Vito Corleone

It is the opinion of this writer that The Godfather is the most quoted movie ever made. Filmed in the early 1970’s when a disenfranchised audience was still hurting from the daily bad news from the Vietnam War and from the government’s betrayal in the Watergate break-in, director Francis Ford Coppola hadn’t a clue as to what the effect the movie would have to future film buff generations.

Al Pacino as Michael Corleone
Al Pacino as Michael Corleone

Marlon Brando, Al Pacino, James Caan, Talia Shire, Diane Keaton, Robert Duvall, Abe Vigoda, John Cazale—the list goes on an on of great actors who starred in The Godfather. But for today’s Wednesday Warriors series, Al Pacino’s Michael Corleone, the natural heir to the godfather’s family, hits today’s highlight.

A war hero, dating longtime friend Kay Adams (Diane Keaton) and the son of Don Vito Corleone, one of New York’s most feared men, Michael Corleone didn’t want to be part of the family. He hated it. At his sister Connie’s wedding day, he says to Kay, “That’s my family, Kay. That’s not me.” This was after she pressed him to explain what Luca Brasi was doing sitting outside Don Vito’s office mumbling to himself. Michael simply told her the story of how his father and Luca dealt with someone opposing the family business, “Luca Brasi held a gun to his head, and my father assured him that either his brains or his signature would be on the contract.”

Michael Corleone
Michael Corleone

When an attempt on his father’s life forces Michael to flee to Italy, he meets the beautiful Apollonia (Simonetta Stefanelli). For the first time Michael falls in love. Soon after his father’s enemies catch up with Michael, however, Apollonia is the one who meets with fate. This causes Michael to turn inward, and all the energy he’d expended to stay away from the family business becomes the power he wields to protect his family at all costs.

The character Michael Corleone is a dark figure in fiction some would consider cold and ruthless. Orchestrating the murders of his enemies and using the vacuum in power to advance his own agenda speaks as a testament to his management style. When his brother Tom Hagen (Robert Duvall) asks Michael, “Is it worth it? I mean, you’ve won, you want to wipe everybody out?” Michael answers without a hint of emotion, “I don’t feel I have to wipe everybody out, Tom. Just my enemies.”

But Michael is a complicated man. Later in life, he comes to regret his life in the family and realizes his real flesh and blood family is what is more important to him than anything else is in the world. It’s that regret, which later turns to repentance that redeems Michael from the everyday fiery hell he had to live through in order to carry on with living. Only after he makes a solemn promise to turn from his life of crime does he finally find peace.


Have you seen any of The Godfather movies? What do you think of Michael’s progression through the ranks of his family?

Posted in Freedom Friday

Binge Watching

Netflix has given rise to the term binge watching. It happens when viewers have the choice to watch full seasons of a TV series available online, rental or for purchase. Not only does the definition include TV series, but it also includes movies. Some folks, including me, call these binge watching sessions marathons. I know of a couple of friends who have gone a weekend watching full seasons of 24.

Al Pacino as Michael Corleone in The Godfather Part II
Al Pacino as Michael Corleone in The Godfather Part II

Today, for Freedom Friday, I would like to talk about my binge watching sessions and tell you a bit of what I’ve learned from the experience.

For me, it all started with The Godfather. One Christmas, many years ago, I received The Godfather collection on DVD. It’s a gift I’d always wanted, since I’d eaten through my VHS tape copies and needed a replacement for the films. Way back in the distant past, the only way to enjoy this series was through TV. Like everyone else, I had to wait until the next movie in the series would air to find out what happened with Michael Corleone. I eventually purchased the VHS tapes, but sometimes my VCR mangled the tapes and it left me with a free night to do nothing other than stare at a blank television screen.

Anyway, once I had The Godfather series on DVD that fateful Christmas morning, a day later I took to my TV and gorged on all that is mob-related. Watching the movies in context with one another is an experience. Gone is the delay of waiting to see what happens. The other benefit was not having to remember what the character’s names were because they were still fresh in my mind. With subsequent marathons, I also could connect the various events that happened in the movies with each other and determine how they related with one another. I find it’s something I can’t do when I watch something once a week or every few years or so.

Breaking Bad's Jesse and Heisenberg
Breaking Bad’s Jesse and Heisenberg

Recently, my binge watching has included The Sopranos, Deadwood, The Trailer Park Boys, Breaking Bad and, just a few weeks ago, The Walking Dead.

In particular with Breaking Bad, I found the show more enjoyable without the interruptions between episodes. Walt, the cancer-stricken meth producer became more real as did his addict assistant Jesse. I could feel the adrenaline rush as they attempted to escape death from every turn.

In the case of The Walking Dead, when watching the last episode of Season 4 and the first episode of Season 5 back-to-back, my stomach tightened from one scene to another as I wondered what will happen next. I couldn’t stop from watching the protagonist unravel. Rick had me from the opening and wouldn’t let go.

Experiences like that provide for an awesome event to remember. And I also think the stories and characters become more meaningful. I know as a writer, I appreciate the plot beats to the point where they are now something to spot, “Ah, there should be a twist right about now!” Things like that make binge watching a treat.

My recommendation? If you haven’t done it, try it. It truly is something everyone should appreciate.


What shows or movies have you dedicated to binge watching either in the past or recently?

Posted in Women Who Wow Wednesday

Kay Corleone

When she married into the Corleone family, she didn’t know what she was getting into. After all, her husband, Michael (Al Pacino), was a war hero. A gentleman. His family at the time seemed warm, friendly, and above all, close. Yet, the warning signs were there, the red flags a woman ought never to ignore. Women Who Wow Wednesday explores Kay Adams-Corleone of The Godfather I & II.

Kay Corleone
Kay Corleone

Being Italian, I grew up with the Francis Ford Coppola film Mario Puzo‘s The Godfather on TV. While my friends watched hockey, I delved in the world of the Corleones. Not surprising, the family dynamic of the main protagonists reminded me of my own family. We ate pasta on Sundays, had massive weddings to attend, and always had an envelop ready for a special occasion. Our music was fun, our food was filling, and our stories we told were always of the old country. How great the old country was and how we’d like to go back and live there someday.

Kay (Diane Keaton) first appears as Michael Corleone’s date at his sister (Talia ShireConnie’s wedding. There, she meets Michael’s brother Fredo (John Cazale), who seems wet behind the ears from all the booze flowing from the open bar. Sitting across the table from Michael, she wonders what a big man like Luca Brasi’s doing talking to himself. Michael calmly tells her how Luca helped his father (Marlon Brando) handle a family matter. A bandleader wouldn’t cut Johnny Fontane (Al Martino), Connie’s wedding singer and friend of the family, from his contract. Michael then adds, “Luca Brasi held a gun to his head, and my father assured him that either his brains or his signature would be on the contract.”

That was Kay’s introduction to Michael’s family. Michael attempts to comfort Kay’s concern with telling her, “That’s my family, Kay, that’s not me.”

They fell in love while they were students at Dartmouth College, New Hampshire, just after the war in 1945.

When a murder attempt on Michael’s father goes bad, Kay doesn’t reappear until a year after Michael returns from his exile in Italy. She meets him for the first time not knowing he’s changed. His heart has grown cold from witnessing the death of his first wife, Apollonia, who he’d met in Italy and had later died in a car bomb explosion meant for him. Kay agrees to marry her longtime love, Michael, after he promises her his family’s business will become legitimate within five years.

During the baptism of his sister’s first child, Connie’s husband disappears. Murdered. Kay approaches Michael about it. He refuses to answer her question of whether he had anything to do with it. She doesn’t back down. He explodes, “Enough!” Moments later, he cedes to her curiosity. Just this once. She asks again if he knows anything about Connie’s husband. No, is his flat reply.

Liar. And she knows it.

Kay (Photo Credit: Cinéfilos por Natureza)
Kay (Photo Credit: Cinéfilos por Natureza)

As the door closes on a chapter in the life of the new godfather, Kay realizes Michael has her trapped.

An associate’s plot to murder Michael brings out the worst in everyone. Kay has already been stewing about his part in the death of Connie’s husband, and to make matters worse, she’s pregnant with his third child. Her attitude toward him has been less than enthusiastic. His long absences and lies have also taken a toll on Kay. She appears older and stoic. However, she continues with loving her children in spite of Michael’s business dealings.

Throughout Michael’s ascent to power, Kay has watched him selfishly turn inward to a nub of the man he never wanted to become. She understands she made a mistake marrying him and wants out. But, how to tell him? He’s the head of one of the most ruthless crime families in all of the U.S., there’s no way he’d take the news of her wanting to leave without a fight. At the same time, she miscarries.

Yet, she gathers her belongings, packs the kids and approaches her soon-to-be former husband. In a heated argument guaranteed to get her killed, she stands up to the crime boss telling him of her intentions to leave, wanting to take the children with her.

He will not have it. She will not take the kids. Ever.

In a bold move to assert her own control, Kay reveals the child she said she’d miscarried she instead had aborted. She couldn’t see herself rearing another Corleone in Michael’s world. Yes, it was a boy.

Without warning, Michael unleashes a slap that Kay absorbs in horror.

Kay Corleone (Photo credit: Cinéfilos por Natureza)
Kay Corleone (Photo credit: Cinéfilos por Natureza)

Soon after, she no longer is part of the family; even loosing her children to their father’s misshaped view of life. But as with anything that ever happens, something positive always comes from it. She no longer has to deal with the days of loneliness behind the confines of the four walls of her home. She’s also free from pretending anymore to love her husband who has been nothing but an overbearing, domineering man obsessed with control over every aspect of her life. And she can now live a life of freedom. Free from her husband’s lies. Free from her husband’s anger.

Years later, when Michael and Kay meet again, this conversation takes place:

Michael Corleone: I spent my life protecting my son. I spent my life protecting my family!
Kay Let’s be reasonable here, Michael. I mean, that’s your big thing, isn’t it? Reason backed up by murder.
Michael Corleone: Oh, God, you hate me. You hate me.
Kay: No, I don’t hate you, Michael. I dread you.
Michael Corleone: I did what I could, Kay, to protect all of you from the horrors of this world.
Kay: But you became my horror.

Was it worth it for Kay to have gone against the family in such a way? Do you think she initially lived a life naïve of her husband’s deceptive ways?

Posted in Freedom Friday

Spring Cleaning

The other day I took to my closet, put on a pair of old, tattered jeans, a t-shirt, and hit my home office. I’ve been planning to paint it for a couple of years now. Only recently did I decide the time was right to do something about it.

Clean Your Room
Clean Your Room

For this Freedom Friday post, I’d like to take you on a spring cleaning adventure. Believe me when I say it’s not as adventurous as I’m making it out to be.

Over the past couple of years, my home office had gone into disrepair. I had boxes of utter junk I had kept around for those “just in case” moments when I needed that half-bent, used straw I had saved from that frosty I had months ago. Bags and bags of paperwork I hadn’t tackled for a long time rested dormant waiting for my sorting hands. I’m still not done yet. The shredder’s going to have a lot work to do soon.

The biggest problem was all the computer parts I had accumulated. I’m talking about desktop boxes, monitors, network cards, hard drives, sound cards, motherboards, memory chips, graphics cards, printer cables, network cables, fans, desktop speakers, subwoofers, mice, keyboards, mice pads, and on and on. I can’t believe how much money I burned through the years on old desktop computers that today I can easily replace with a laptop, a tablet or phone. Sad, really.

All these parts belonged to computers I had set up throughout the house when the iPad was a glint in Steve Jobs’ eye. As they became obsolete, I’d retire them into my home office to one day sell them for parts. Well, we all know how that turned out. You may ask, how many were there, Jack? Seven desktop computers with monitors. Yeah, crazy, eh? There was a time that each room had a computer. Maintenance choked every ounce of goodness from me.

Computer Junk Heap
Computer Junk Heap

Anyway, I took them all apart. I reformatted the hard drives, and poured water and sugar in its assembly chambers. I then took my trusty screwdriver and poked holes through the platters. It’ll take the expertise of the FBI to piece them all together. Even then, no way could anyone rescue any of the data on those suckers. Too late, though. They’re already at the dump.

Now, if you didn’t know better, I could be working for the CSIS (Canadian Security Intelligence Service). Then again, I wouldn’t admit it, would I? Nor would I post that information on a blog. A mischievous smile penetrates Jack’s face.

Nevertheless, I pulled together all that old equipment and hauled it to the curb. And this is the truth: at the very moment I had placed the last computer on the curb, a black van of no distinct marking pulled into the drive, swung open its back doors and two men slipped the equipment into its belly. It was quick. Not even thirty seconds they were gone. I thought, guys, the hard drives are not with the boxes. I guess they’ll find out once they take them apart in their secret lab.

I now have a clean room. At least the bulk of the mess is under control. I still have a long way to go. I think in the next few days I’ll get rid of the old posters of The Godfather: Part III and Terminator 2: Judgment Day. They’ve been on the walls forever.


Have you done any spring cleaning? What items have you gotten rid of that served its purpose in the day?