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A couple of weeks ago I posted three month old photos of my six-month-old granddaughter, because getting a post ready and actually posting it are two different things. It's only right that I do the same with the grand-twins. In other words, in a case of epic fail, this post has been in my draft folder for almost four months. These are also from my dad's 80th birthday party, which took place when people were praying for summer:

Brayden debates politics, or possibly football. Probably football.

"I was promised fudge. Where's the fudge?"

If there's one thing I've learned, it's that when you get a dozen kids in a room, they make three dozen kids worth of noise.

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My tweets


I'm starting to think that someday the Pirates of the Caribbean Ride will break down, and the pirates will start eating the tourists. At least in a movie, where the idea of safe things going horribly wrong and killing lots of people has always been popular.

Life finds a way ... to kill other life.

In Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom it's been a few years since the theme park Jurassic World suffered a catastrophic "pirates eating people" story, and the island of Isla Nublar has been abandoned ... by people.

(And now I'm thinking, how cool would a pirates vs. dinosaurs movie be? Get on that, SyFy.)

A dormant volcano on the island has become active, and former employee Claire Dearing (Bryce Dallas Howard) is involved in an effort to rescue the dinosaurs before it blows. The fact that there's a volcano there at all will come as a surprise to franchise viewers, although I'm told it's mentioned in the original book. Yeah, I read it--twenty years ago.

Why does Claire, who almost died in the last movie, want to save the animals? That's what Owen Grady (Chris Pratt, doing a great job of playing Chris Pratt) wants to know. She guilts him into going along with the reminder that his own pet raptor, which he raised from an egglet, is still there.

"Dude, somebody broke my lava lamp!"

The mission's financed by a rich old man (James Cromwell), who we discover was once a partner to the original Jurassic Park founder, John Hammond. Retcon, much? But the armed "guards" who go along with Claire and Owen have their own, much more sinister agenda. Rescue dinosaurs? Yes. But toward what end?

Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom is much better than the original Jurassic World, which in my mind isn't saying much, but still suffers from being too dark and sometimes graphic. They haven't learned the lesson the master, Steven Spielberg, taught in the original Jurassic Park (not to mention Jaws): Often the scary stuff is much scarier when it happens off screen.

Still, the stuff that happens onscreen is pretty darned spectacular, especially in the first half of the movie when our heroes are fleeing just about everything: dinosaurs, bad guys, and exploding mountains. The movie makers chose practical effects when possible, especially with close contact with the dinosaurs. When that couldn't be done, modern digital effects have progressed so much that it really is getting hard to tell them apart ... and I watched the movie in 3D IMAX, thanks to a scheduling snafu.

In the second half the movie moves to a different location, in its own way just as neat, and at this point it's probably not a spoiler to say a lot of people die. The suspense was gripping, but the gore unnecessary and unwanted for the type of movie you should be able to take your kids to. Overall I liked the characters except for the bad guys, who were such cardboard cutouts that I kept confusing their names with the same tropes who died in earlier Jurassic Park pics. In addition, the plot was very much a repeat of the themes we've seen before, from greed and inhumanity to dire warnings of what happens when science outstrips reason. For that last we at least get Jeff Goldblum's Ian Malcolm, in what amounts to a glorified cameo.

I liked the new supporting characters played by Justice Smith and Daniella Pineda, and although it appears to have been her first major acting role, Isabella Sermon does a great job as this movie's kid-in-jeopardy.

"You scream so much better than the two boys from the last one."

My score:

Entertainment Value: 3 out of 4 M&Ms. Worth seeing, but it still pales in comparison to the original Jurassic Park. But then, what doesn't?

Oscar Potential: 2 out of 4 M&Ms. With the exception of some plot holes, nothing about the movie is bad; but other than the effects and cinematography, nothing about it is great, either.

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My tweets


Four years ago I wrote my regular newspaper humor column about Independence Day history, which few people read because it was about history. Ironically, about two months later my regular newspaper column became history, but that's another story.
As I said in the opening to our book "Hoosier Hysterical", history would be a lot more fun if it was made ... well ... fun. So I had fun with this, which has been changed slightly because I'm four years older.

           Ever since Christopher Columbus first landed in the New World and hid all the Viking artifacts, America has been a land of opportunity, independence, and smallpox.
           Eventually the British colonists decided to go off and form their own country. (Except for Canadians, who were just too polite to leave.) Since our schools don’t teach enough history these days (there’s so much more of it now), I thought I’d give you a quick timeline of how we, the people, went from tea to coffee:
           1756: The French and Indian War
           This was probably the first World War. No, seriously: Over here we just mention the French and Indians, but the rest of the world called it the Seven Years War. It spread all over the globe, like a viral YouTube video, but with more cannon fire and disease. Nations involved included Austria, England, France, Great Britain, Prussia, and Sweden. Oh, and the Indians.
           (Later on Prussia, not wanting to be confused with Russia, changed their name to Germany.)
           Why does this involve American Independence, which came decades later? Because it cost the British government so much to defeat their enemies (and the Indians) that they began taxing the colonists to help pay for it. And yet they didn’t allow the colonies to raise their own armies, and there was that whole taxation without representation thing.
           Oh, and one more thing: The whole world war began (well, mostly) because a young Virginia militia leader ambushed a French scouting party in the far west wilderness … near Pittsburgh. In later years, George Washington would be more careful to start battles after war was declared.
           1770: The Boston Massacre:
           No, it wasn’t a sporting event. It started when a group of colonists began throwing snowballs at a squad of British soldiers (In Boston. Sheesh.). That’s not so bad, is it? Then the colonists starting tossing sticks and stones, which, contrary to popular belief, can indeed break bones.
           This is a perfect example of why you shouldn’t throw stuff at people with guns. Five colonists died and the soldiers were arrested, but they were mostly acquitted thanks to the crafty defense by a young lawyer names John Adams.
           1773: The Boston Tea Party
           Tired of high taxes, an unresponsive government, and Earl Gray, colonists (In Boston—sheesh) dressed up as Indians, sneaked aboard ships (In the harbor—sheesh), and tossed 342 chests of tea into the water. In today’s dollars, they turned Boston harbor into the world’s biggest cup, with $750,000 worth of tea. They were led, of course, by the famous Boston patriot Folger “Starbuck” Maxwell.
           But why blame the Indians? They didn’t even drink tea.
           1774: The First Continental Congress
           They didn’t get much done. But in their defense, they were a Congress.
           1775: Patrick Henry stirs the pot
           With the grievances of the colonists ignored by a remote government—sort of like today, only without Facebook—a radical named Patrick Henry, upset because he had two first names and no last one, began making fiery speeches and resolutions.
           The truth is, Henry was kind of a deadbeat. Worse, a lawyer. But man, he sure could talk good, and his actions helped ignite the American Revolution. You’ve probably heard the last line of his big speech, which was “Give me liberty or give me death!” Luckily, he got liberty.
           1775: The Midnight Ride of Paul Revere.
           He rode through the countryside yelling, “The British are coming!”
           Sleepy residents yelled back, “Shut up, you fool! We are the British!”
           Then he got arrested, probably for violating the noise ordinance, and the ride was completed by William Dawes. Unfortunately for Dawes, the name “Paul Revere” sounded better in poetry.
           Also 1775 (busy year, there): The Battle of Lexington and Concord
           Revere had discovered the British were marching by sea, which slowed them down considerably because the horses didn’t swim well. That gave the Minutemen almost a full two minutes. It was plenty of time to gather in Lexington, to protect stores of arms and gunpowder, and Concord, to protect the grapes.
           1775 (saw that coming, didn’t you?): The Second Continental Congress
           Didn’t get much done. They made up for it in 1776, though.
           1775 or so: The Battle of Bunker Hill
           It was actually fought on Breeds Hill.
           177—wait for it—5: Patriots occupy Montreal, Canada
           Things were looking up, up there. And that’s the last time things looked up for the Revolutionaries in the north, who discovered Canadian hospitality didn’t extend to invasion.
           1776 (finally!) Egged on by the British, Cherokee Indians attack along the entire southern frontier
           They were still upset about the whole Tea Party fraud. Also, they were mad about getting named for a country on the other side of the world.
           June 7, 1776: Richard Henry Lee points out to the Continental Congress that they’ve been rebelling against the British for more than a year, and wouldn’t it be a good idea to actually declare themselves to be rebelling?
           June 11: Five Congressmen are appointed to draft a Declaration of Independence. The other four talk Thomas Jefferson into doing the writing, pointing out that he’s the only one who’s invented a portable desk to use.
           June 12-27: Jefferson writes a rough draft, only to receive a rejection letter from the committee.
July 1-4: The entire Congress rips apart the Declaration. (Not literally. Sheesh.) Jefferson quits writing and goes into politics.
July 2: Congress declares independence, just as the British fleet and army arrive to invade New York. Talk about timing. John Adams declares that July 2 will forever be celebrated as Independence Day.
July 4: Having already declared independence, Congress now adopts the Declaration of Independence, declaring something they’ve already declared. John Adams’ head explodes.
July 9: George Washington has the Declaration read before the American army. The soldiers nod politely and ask when they’re going to get paid.
There was much more to it, of course. In fact, you could say the American Revolution went on until the US Constitution was adopted in 1788, or even until we fought the second Revolutionary war in 1812, which might also be related to the real second World War.

Now, that’s a funny story.

Flags are cool. This one's at the Albion Fire Department, so it's also hot.

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