The Bad Review Revue

Rage: “If you are going to make a B-grade exploitation piece you need to go for excess and insanity. Tokarev commits the ultimate movie sin: it makes a Nicolas Cage revenge thriller simply boring.” — Richard Haridy, Quickflix

A Long Way Down: “Four characters meet while planning to commit suicide and decide to annoy one another instead in this tacky Nick Hornby adaptation.” — Peter Debruge, Variety

Transformers: Age of Extinction: “Preferable to syphilis.” — Matt Brunson, Creative Loafing

Tammy: “Here, the jokes hit with the accuracy of bullets in a Michael Bay movie.” — Dann Gire, Daily Herald (IL)

Deliver Us from Evil: “A pretty routine and occasionally silly demonic-possession flick, which distinguishes itself by making us wait so long for the exorcism that heads may be spinning in the audience as well.” — Moira MacDonald, Seattle Times

Earth to Echo: “It does not reveal too much to say that road leads to something otherworldly, and that the something otherworldly is kind of cute. But considering the whole story rests on it, it’s also not all that much to phone home about.” — Carla Meyer, Sacramento Bee

Think Like a Man Too: “You want eye-rolling moments? This movie will detach your corneas.” — Richard Roeper, Richard

Words Men and Women Recognize

It turns out gender matters in our ability to recognize certain types of words. I found it rang true for me; what the heck is “taffeta”? Before today, I probably wouldn’t even have identified as a real word.

The Center for Reading Research (a research group connected to the Department of Experimental Psychology of Ghent University) believes that to figure out how our brains are wired when it comes to reading, one must first look at our ability to identify real words. One result of their experiment is a list of words with the strongest identification disparity between men and women:

We listed the words with the biggest recognition gap between gender below, along with numbers in parenthesis showing the percentage of men who knew the word followed by the percentage of women.

Here are the words that men were most likely to recognize over women:

codec (88, 48)
solenoid (87, 54)
golem (89, 56)
mach (93, 63)
humvee (88, 58)
claymore (87, 58)
scimitar (86, 58)
kevlar (93, 65)
paladin (93, 66)
bolshevism (85, 60)
biped (86, 61)
dreadnought (90, 66)

Here are the words women are most likely to recognize over men:
taffeta (48, 87)
tresses (61, 93)
bottlebrush (58, 89)
flouncy (55, 86)
mascarpone (60, 90)
decoupage (56, 86)
progesterone (63, 92)
wisteria (61, 89)
taupe (66, 93)
flouncing (67, 94)
peony (70, 96)
bodice (71, 96)

The male words tend to center on transportation, weapons, and science, while the female words mostly relate to fashion, art, and flowers.

Read more at Business Insider.

Taffeta, by the way, is a crisp, smooth, plain woven fabric made from silk or cuprammonium rayons. The word is Persian in origin and means “twisted woven.”

Which list holds the majority of the words you recognize?


Weekend in Waterton

A couple of weeks ago I called my parents and asked if they wanted to spend the day in Waterton — to my delight they immediately took me up on the offer and arrived only a couple hours later.


Many great memories flooded my mind as we checked off the list of essential Waterton activities and attractions.

Photos by the Prince of Wales Hotel… check.


Climbing up Bears Hump for photos of the Waterton town-site… check.


Lunch at Zums followed by photos in front of Cameron Falls… check and check.



It was a great day for it too, even though the skies threatened a storm, we only got a little drizzle of rain followed by sunshine and ice-cream cones. Ice-cream tastes better in National Parks.


The take home message really is that it’s well worth it to take advantage of our close proximity to a world class national park — one can basically drop their camera and come away with some great photos.




Pattern Rule for 5, 10, 15, 30, 45, 50

While teaching sixth grade math yesterday, I came across this tricky question in the “Pearson Math Makes Sense” textbook. Unfortunately, it didn’t take long for things to NOT make sense.

The book shows the following input / output table.

Input Output
5 0
10 2
15 3
30 7
45 8
50 11

It notes that some of the outputs were intentionally incorrect and asks students to identify and correct the mistakes. That was easy enough but it then asks students to “Write the pattern for the input.”

This is where I became lost.
Continue reading “Pattern Rule for 5, 10, 15, 30, 45, 50”

The Bad Review Revue

Blended: “Most of ‘Blended’ has the look and pacing of a three-camera sitcom filmed by a bunch of eighth graders and conceived by their less bright classmates.” — A.O. Scott, New York Times

The Love Punch: “A romantic comedy as painfully unfunny as a sock in the jaw.” — Claudia Puig, USA Today

The Angriest Man in Brooklyn: “Every scene between two people comes off like drunkenly shot video of a play rehearsal gone horribly wrong.” — Robert Abele, Los Angeles Times

The Amazing Spider-Man: “Despite the efforts of Electro, the franchise is running shockingly low on juice.” — Anthony Lane, New Yorker

The Other Woman: “This film, on the other hand, seems so desperate for laughs that you can practically see the flop sweat appear on its performers as they flail from one obnoxiously, uncomfortable scene to the next.” — Jeff Vice, Cinephiled

Heaven Is for Real: “The earnest performances aren’t enough to elevate the vanilla narrative from a faith-based film that will only preach to the choir.” — David Blaustein, ABC News Radio

California 2014 – Day 13

We spent our last full day in Palm Springs riding our bikes and visiting a few more sites and restaurants in the area before we headed out the next day.


We stopped at the outdoor mall, The River, for a quick Starbucks run. I don’t drink coffee  myself, so I had a smoothie, but Andrea loves the caffeine imbibing experience (so long as it’s in a reusable / recyclable cup). Starbucks, it should be noted, will happily provide you with a ceramic mug if you just ask.

My favourite stop of the day was The Jackalope Ranch restaurant.


Because Jackalopes have become so rare these days,  the restaurant provided some helpful wildlife information, and as the story goes:


The elusive Jackalope is a cross between a rabbit and the now extinct pygmy-antelope and is occasionally seen in the less populated areas of the American West. The Jackalope is an aggressive species, willing to use its antlers to fight. It is also the only species where male and female both have antlers. Thus it is sometimes also called the “warrior rabbit”.

Jackalopes possess the amazing ability to mimic human sounds. In the Old West, when cowboys would gather by their camp-fires to sing at night, Jackalopes would frequently be heard signing back, mimicking the voices of the cowboys.

When chased, the Jackalope will use its vocal abilities to elude capture. For instance, when chased by people it will call out phrases such as, “He went that way,” in order to throw pursuers off its track. The most effective way to catch a Jackalope is lure it with tequila, preferably a premium brand, as they have a particular fondness for this nectar. Once intoxicated, the animal becomes slower and easier to hunt. Jackologists, those who study the rare animal, state that the antlered creature becomes
especially vocal during a thunderstorm, because they supposedly mate only when lightning flashes.

Jackalopes are illegal to eat in the United States however the meat is thought to taste like chicken. It is believed that Jackalopes can live to be over a hundred years old. But that belief is hard to prove because they never seem to age. That is why the Jackalope is highly prized for its milk, which is believed to contain a potent ingredient that”turns back the clock” and keeps people looking young and healthy. However, it can be incredibly dangerous to milk a Jackalope, and any attempt to do so is ill advised.

We tried the nachos and diet cokes and enjoyed the setting thoroughly. However,  we only saw one live Jackalope — it’s hard to see in the photo below but if you click through to the larger version, I’m sure you’ll find it.


The other noteworthy point about The Jackalope Ranch is their handy rifles used as legs for the tables near the bar and that amazing life-sized wooden motorcycle at the door. Much like the Jackalope itself, this motorbike is something you have to see to believe.



California 2014 – Day 12

Today Andrea’s dad and I toured the Palm Springs Air Museum. Although small in size, CNN rated it as the 14th best air museum in the world! It did not disappoint us.


Home to one of the world’s largest collections of flyable second world war aircraft, the Palm Springs Air Museum provided tremendously interesting artefacts and information about American conflicts in the Atlantic and Pacific arenas (mostly WWII). One of the best things about the museum was that they had a “no rope” policy allowing guests to board and interact with the planes. Not all of the planes are still flyable but any plane with an oil can underneath meant it was being kept up and ready for flight.


A time-line of the second world war written on one of the hangar walls kept me engaged for quite some time.  Reading about the build up, saber-rattling, and political manoeuvring that happened before war actually broke out in Europe captivated my attention almost as much as the aircraft.

The display on Pearl Harbour was also extremely interesting. One of the pacific island maps the Japanese used to plan the attack shows the calculations made for the bomb run to be successful.

All in all, I loved seeing the planes and reading about second world war history and would recommend the museum to anyone interested in that sort of thing.

The rest of the afternoon led us to the Classic Club for drinks and to enjoy the view (the view at the Classic Cub is phenomenal).


Then we headed home for another wonderful meal of BBQ kabobs and many games of Sequence.


Deep Creek Hot Springs

Of all the wonderful things we did on this vacation, our hike into Deep Creek Hot Springs will probably remain the most memorable. The drive from Palm Springs presented some spectacular views! (Unfortunately the photos don’t do it justice).


We began our journey with the GPS pre-programmed to take us to the Kinley Creek Bridge. That may not have been the best idea because, while we wanted to get to the bridge, we  didn’t need to wind through so many residential roads when sticking to Grass Valley Road would have been a better route.


Located along the Mojave River, (sometimes called Deep Creek) the hot springs welcome people of any size, age, and colour. Speaking of colour, I think we (especially me) got a bit too much sun exposure this day!

Unfortunately for us, our sun screen was not as full as we thought and by the end of the day, the sun had burned my back into a splotchy mess of red and white. (I’ll be the first to admit that trying to apply sunscreen to your own back is a rookie mistake).

Though some sources say it’s about 40 minutes to an hour to reach the end of the Bradford Ridge trail, we took our time checking out the wildlife and photographing flowers and I felt myself getting a little frustrated as we broke the two hour mark, but it just made the reward all the sweeter when we were finally able to soak in the hot springs.

prickly pear cactus flower - opuntia basilaris
Some cactus flowers we passed along the way
Our arrival at the river bottom

We waded across the river (unnecessarily, it turns out) and soon found ourselves bounding from pool to pool testing our stamina against each of the various springs’ temperatures. The waters within the four(?) pools varied between 39c to 47c (102f to 117f). The river itself, unless swimming near a hot springs outlet, was quite brisk.

Our group soon expanded from the two of us to about 12 sitting and chatting in The Womb and the pools below it. The people we met were lovely, happy folks, mostly from the area and we spent a long time getting to know one another. A bit of a motley crew, the folks we met included a very sun worn dude with two dogs (though he claims only one dog is his own), a cute set of twins from L.A. (first timers celebrating their 25th birthday at the springs), a couple of local regulars, and another young couple who were also here for the first time.



A little grey bird caught our attention as it feed its young in the nest attached to the walls near the shower below the Anniversary Pool. We didn’t even notice the nest until the parent showed up with some food and the little chicks chirped their tiny little beaks off. So cute to see nature happening right before our eyes.

The fellow with the dogs showed off his slack line skills crossing the river with ease and later he began filling sandbags (long ones that he brought himself) and placing them below the hot spring run-off. It’s anyone’s guess how long it will last but one of the twins suggested they call it the Goldilocks Pool because, the spring water mixed with the river water created a mixture not too hot, not too cold, but just right.


We loved every second of the river and the springs (and the company) but the setting sun pressured us to get going.  After all, we felt that our hike back on the Bradford Ridge Trail would be considerably more frightening in the dark. We opted for a different, less steep route, and it made us worry we’d lost the trail but we soon found it again and made haste to get back to Palm Springs.

California 2014 – Day 10

The wild west has left its mark on California and we enjoyed a taste of it this morning. We rode up to Oak Glen for breakfast at Apple Annie’s Restaurant and Bakery. As you can probably tell by the pies in the photo, at Apple Annie’s they do NOT skimp on pie filling. Also they guarantee their breakfasts will fill you up or the second helping is on the house — I couldn’t take advantage though, the first plate of bacon and egg skillet was enormous! (and delicious).

The atmosphere at Apple Annie’s alone makes the drive well worth it. The walls are plastered with photos of “The Duke” and even the waitresses play the part by packing heat. You’ll find six-shooters conveniently located in little frames on the walls, I suppose, in case gun-play happens to break out and you’re not strapped up.


Next, we did a little bit of shopping in the nearby shops at Idyllwild. The most interesting one to me was Mountain Mike’s.


If you ever go to this shop, inside you’ll find the pleasantly nostalgic aroma of leather and Mike himself, a friendly and extremely bearded fellow, busily measuring and cutting leather for whatever custom project he happens to be working on.

The beared Mountain Mike in black and white
Mountain Mike

He seemed to be, true to the store’s name, a genuine mountain man. Above his head I notice a very old looking rifle and sword — he explained that the rifle and sabre were the ones his great-great grandfather carried in the American Civil War. Not for sale, but nonetheless quite something to see.

Mountain Mike's Great Great Grandfather's Civil War Era Rifle and Sabre
Mountain Mike’s Great Great Grandfather’s Civil War Era Rifle and Sabre

After we had shopped ’til we dropped, we drove back on the scenic route to Palm Springs. Most of the trees and shrubs are sprouting leaves again after the terrible fire that ripped through the area last year.

We made a quick stop at a scenic pull-out and the panoramic photo below shows the winding road into the Coachella Valley. (Worth clicking for the large version).



It has been another great day in southern California.