Posted in Freedom Friday, Other Things

What Excites You?

An article in Psychology Today eloquently titled What Excites You?—yes, you can smack me later for ripping off the title—states that the prevalent thought in psychology according to Silvan S. TomkinsAffect, Imagery, Consciousness is that humans have an inherent need to maximize positive and rewarding emotions while minimize negative ones.

Pizza with tons of toppings
Pizza with tons of toppings

Given it’s Freedom Friday, I figure the best way to maximize positive thought is to provide you a peek into what excites me. Later in the comments, you can tell me what excites you. How does that sound?

A Good Song: First up, nothing can really replace a good song. You know when it happens as soon as it hits your ears. Your feet begin to shuffle, your fingers begin to tap, and you’re off bobbing your head to the rhythm of the beat. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been in a lousy mood only to rise from the dumpster when one of my favorite songs is playing on my earbuds. My secret weapon for curing the blues is three hits of AC/DC, two chasers of Led Zeppelin and one shot of John Williams.

Good Food: How can I describe the feeling I get when sitting at the table anticipating my mom’s home-cooked meal? There’s a whole method to the act of patiently waiting. I’m Italian, so a meal doesn’t only consist of the main course but it includes the antipasto, the salad, dessert and other foods I can’t bare writing about without eating part of my anatomy. The whole experience is reminiscent of a grand opera served on a platter. Delicious.


Good Exercise: I love taking walks. I love doing my stretching exercises. I love physical activity outside. Actually, let me qualify that last bit. I love physical activity outside if there’s a goal to achieve. Cleaning up a garage is not my idea of a physical activity I like. I’ll do it, but it’s far and away not on my Top Ten list of things I love doing. Okay, back to my walks. When I go for a walk, I grab my phone, plug in my earphones and soak the tunes while I perform a half-hour jaunt around my neighborhood. The music helps me focus and my love for my neighborhood allows me the convenience to say hello to all my neighbors. The activity is also great on the heart.

Good Friends: Lastly, meeting with good friends over a meal or a ball game makes for one of the most wonderful times ever. I’ve known my best friends, those people who I can call on and say they are my friends, since I was a single. We go to each other’s houses, have BBQ’s, picnics, etc. and we simply enjoy each other’s company. What’s not to like? People change, but the friendship always remains. That time together will one day become a memory worth talking about.

These things excite me. They thrill me, lift me up and inspire me to do better in all that I do.

What excites you?


What activities do you enjoy doing? What would recommend that I ought to try?

Posted in Women Who Wow Wednesday

Lois Lane

I don’t know what’s more thrilling, watching a movie with such great actors in it or watching a movie and instantly recognizing the music. The 1978 version of Superman’s like that. Christopher Reeve, Margot Kidder, John Williams all make this wonderful story come to life.

Margot Kidder as Lois Lane
Margot Kidder as Lois Lane

Women Who Wow Wednesday wouldn’t be complete without Lois Lane. She’s Superman’s confidant. His girl. His friend. She does get into trouble a lot, but that’s only because her curiosity and her desire to get to a story encourages her willingness to take risks. She’s a firecracker, and Superman’s the one who has come into her life to settle it.

John Williams’ opening theme reigns majestic and heralding. It announces of Superman’s arrival, his illustrious fall to planet Earth and his subsequent conquest of evil. It’s so recognizable a theme that, other than the latest Superman movie, all other films featuring the Man of Steel includes Williams’ music in some form or fashion.

Then there’s Superman himself. Who doesn’t remember the line, “Faster than a speeding bullet, more powerful than a locomotive, able to leap tall buildings in a single bound?” His ability to overcome the laws of physics makes him invincible.

But Superman does have a weakness. Kryptonite. That weakness drains him of his power, which then causes him to become more fragile than an ordinary mortal. Knowing this, it begs the question: would Superman purposefully sacrifice his extraordinary power in order to become more human?

Christopher Reeve as Clark  Kent/Superman
Christopher Reeve as Clark Kent/Superman

For the love of a woman, Superman does just that. That love interest is Lois Lane. What makes Lois Lane so incredible that she would cause even Superman to cast aside his godlike powers to be with her? She must be pretty special.

Much of who Lois is centers as a reporter for the Daily Planet. Her tough-as-nails reporting style captures the attention of Editor-in-Chief Perry White who sends her to scout the most dangerous of stories. Strong-willed, independent, Lois has an appetite for peril. Nothing scares her. She has an uncanny ability to remain focused in spite of everything that may go on around her. What’s more? She’s unbelievably attractive.

As Clark Kent, Superman appears to Lois as a bumbling yet kind-hearted reporter. What Clark lacks in bravery, Lois compliments in attitude. At the same time, Clark’s ability to mask his identity has Lois always guessing who Superman could be. Though it doesn’t stop her from suspecting Clark and Superman are one in the same. Her reporter instincts have yet to betray her in that respect.

No matter how powerful Superman is, he will always meet his match with Lois Lane. She’s motivated, headstrong and sometimes stubborn, but no one can deny her the status as Superman’s girl. After all, he once surrendered all his power for her.


What do you think makes Lois Lane timeless? How many times have you watched a Superman movie?

Posted in Women Who Wow Wednesday

Marion Crane

Alfred Hitchcock’s cinematic masterpiece Psycho features a rich score written by veteran composer Bernard Herrmann. Just as identifiable as John Williams’ music from Jaws, the piercing violins replicating knife slashes has become a staple trademark in horror movies utilizing the theme’s signature in multiple variations. But the subject of the film’s music is the woman in the shower scene, and the stabbing that goes on as the music repeatedly plays that recognizable theme.

Janet Leigh as Marion Crane
Janet Leigh as Marion Crane

Women Who Wow Wednesday presents Marion Crane, the woman in the Psycho movie who meets with a premature death, shocking audiences in 1960 into an unknown they’ve never had the opportunity to explore.

Played by Janet Leigh, mother to scream queen Jamie Lee Curtis star of the Halloween franchise, the part entailed Leigh to work a full three weeks on set, seven days of which she partook in the infamous shower scene.

The making of the film is a story in itself. Hitchcock declined his usual $250,000 directorial fee for a 60% cut of the box office. He made $15 Million, which adjusted for inflation translates to $150 Million in 2006 dollars. Additionally, to thwart MPAA censors, he had added obvious red herrings to the film in order to confound them into removing the red herrings all the while keeping the objectionable scenes intact.

As for filming of the shower scene, Hitchcock used Bosco chocolate syrup to emulate the blood, since it appears better contrasted in black and white. Some audience members, however, believed they saw red when blood washed down the drain. Of course, this is a physical impossibility for the obvious reason the movie is not in color.

The infamous shower scene.
The infamous shower scene.

Further adding to the list of interesting tidbits, ophthalmologists approached Hitchcock soon after the opening to emphasize a truly dead corpse, as seen in Psycho, should not have contracted pupils but dilated instead. They suggested Hitchcock use belladonna drops to achieve the dead-eye affect in subsequent films, which he did.

Trivia’s all very well and fine, but what does that have to do with Marion Crane? The story goes something like this: Marion steals $40,000 from her employer and goes on the lamb. She changes cars in an effort to thwart discovery by the police and checks into a motel by the side of the highway—the Bates Motel. I’m sure you’ve heard of it.

Owned by Norman Bates and his sick mother, the Bates Motel poses as the scene for the eventual turning point in Marion’s life. Thinking she’d gotten away with robbery, she didn’t think she might have walked into a far worse situation. As the cliché goes, out of the frying pan into the fire. As the movie’s title suggests, someone has to be the psychopath. It’s not Marion.

And this is what makes Marion Crane unique in Horror. Hitchcock purposely gave her top billing, even though she dies halfway through the film. Marion’s death in the shower is the most recognizable scene in movie history. When people talk about Psycho, in the same breath they’re talking about the shower scene. In so doing, culture made Marion Crane a poster child for how a good Horror flick should go.


Have you seen Psycho? If so, what did you think of it?

Posted in Freedom Friday

My Music

Music is a big thing in my life. So I thought for Freedom Friday I’d give you a peek into my iPod to show you what I have.


Most of the songs and albums I possess have a story attached to them. You know the ones—my first love (Nadia’s Theme by Roger Williams), my first kiss (Sometimes When We Touch by Dan Hill)—those kinds of stories. Although I don’t remember why on earth I have I Touch Myself by Divinyls, I’m quite proud to show off my AC/DC collection including my prized Girls Got Rhythm. How’s that for going from sappy to randy in two sentences?

My Beloved Rocky Album
My Beloved Rocky Album

Growing up, the big song I had playing on my record player was Gonna Fly Now by Bill Conti. Everyone I knew was into the jogging thing, and there wasn’t a time I didn’t see someone running in the streets looking like Rocky. Pretty weird, if you ask me. Really though, I think I’ve heard the Rocky album well over five hundred times. I had purchased it in vinyl, which I still have, tape, CD and now it rests safely in my iPod as part of a mix of kick-in-the-pants power songs. I told my wife, if I ever fall off a cliff, she could bury me with my Rocky album. I’m sure where I’m going they’ll have record players.

I drifted for a while out of high school and listened to such hits as Juke Box Hero by Foreigner, Hungry Heart by Bruce Springsteen, and Don’t Stop Believin’ by Journey. Those songs played on the radio during those cold, frosty nights in January when I’d grab a snack at Tim Horton’s. They reflected my life going from one job to another supporting a dream of one day becoming a rock star. Well we all know how that turned out. I have yet to receive a call to judge American Idol.

The Gods of Rock
The Gods of Rock

After a long absence from school, I enrolled in college. By this time, I was a bit older, a bit wiser and hadn’t lost myself in deviant behavior to warrant counseling by a Catholic priest. I had also purchased a Sony Walkman to keep me entertained between classes during study hall. I had tapes of Led Zeppelin to keep me out of trouble. Songs such as Good Times Bad Times, Whole Lotta Love, Gallows Pole, Over the Hills and Far Away, Kashmir, and Stairway to Heaven went well with my studies on the intricacies of system analysis and design.

Once I got married, I’d mellowed out some. My wife and I enjoyed old movies on a Saturday night, so I went for crooners like Bobby Darin, Sammy Davis Jr. and Frank Sinatra, devouring everything they had made. I have Dean Martin’s Best of album I used to play in the car on my way to work. I must have raised a few eyebrows at traffic lights. While teenagers had the Spice Girls blaring in their cars, I was singing at the top of my lungs to the chorus of That’s Amore.

I was so weird.

Raiders of the Lost Ark
Raiders of the Lost Ark

As time went on, my love for the oldies afforded me to purchase musicals such as South Pacific, which led to my current love of movie scores. The second of which (I already had Rocky) had to be Raiders of the Lost Ark. Had to be, because it was one of the first movies I saw in glorious THX where the sound of punches were like bombs. Who can deny me the Raiders March? Tada rump dum, tada rump…

I now have a list of favorite composers who I listen to during the day. I call these composers power composers because their music has that quality to excite a person to achieve great things. Here they are: Marco Beltrami, Steve Jablonsky, Hans Zimmer, of course, Klaus Badelt, John Powell and John Williams. I tell ya, whenever I hear their music, it makes me feel like a superhero crashing through a brick wall.

What’s on your iPod? Do you remember where you were when a certain song played on the radio in a coffee shop?