Aug 22

Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves Movie Review

Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves is the 1991 adventure film starring Kevin Costner, Morgan Freeman, Christian Slater, Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio and Alan Rickman. Robin of Locksley is an English Nobleman, who escapes imprisonment in Jerusalem after having fought in the Third Crusade. He returns home to find his father has been killed and his lands taken by the Sheriff of Nottingham, so he decides to fight back against the injustices being done by the Sheriff.

The movie opens in Jerusalem in 1194 A.D. with prisoners being tortured in a prison. Robin of Locksley (Kevin Costner) and his friend Peter make an escape attempt. In the process, Locksley rescues a Moor named Azeem (Morgan Freeman) who helped him and Peter in their escape attempt. During the escape, Peter is killed. Robin and Azeem safely make it out of Jerusalem and make their way back to England. On the way to his father’s castle, Robin and Azeem run into some of the Sheriff of Nottingham’s men led by Guy of Gisborne (Michael Wincott), who are chasing a small boy. When Guy returns to Nottingham Castle, he tells the Sheriff (Alan Rickman) that Robin of Loxley has returned. When Robin and Azeem arrive at Lord Loxley’s (Brian Blessed) castle, they find it a burned out shell and the body of Lord Loxley hanging from the parapets. They also find Duncan (Walter Sparrow), a servant at the castle, who tells them that the Sheriff of Nottingham killed Lord Loxley, burned the castle and also blinded him.

Robin and Azeem head to the castle where Peter lived. There Robin informs Marian Dubois (Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio) that Peter is dead. He learns from her what has been going on in the area since King Richard III (Sean Connery) had left on the Third Crusade. Guy Gisborne and some of the Sheriff’s men catch up with Robin and Azeem at Marian’s Castle and chase them into Sherwood Forrest. Once in Sherwood Forrest, Robin and Azeem run into a band of men that are wanted by the Sheriff of Nottingham. The band was led by Little John (Nick Brimble). Shortly after this, the Sheriff’s men begin torching local villages in search of Robin of Locksley. In doing this, he drove more people into Sherwood Forrest and increased the ranks of the renegade band. The men begin weapons training to fight back against the Sheriff’s men and Robin took over as leader of the band. Robin, now Robin Hood, began leading his band in fighting back against the Sheriff’s men. What he took from them, he gave back to the people suffering under the Sheriff’s rule. In their attacks, they capture Friar Tuck (Mike McShane) who ends up joining the group. Marian comes to Robin’s camp and when she leaves Robin asks her to help and get word to King Richard III. Marian is betrayed by the Bishop of Hereford (Harold Innocent) and is taken prisoner by the Sheriff. Duncan heads to Sherwood Forrest to let Robin know of Marian’s capture. He unknowingly is followed.

The Sheriff of Nottingham, his men and Celtic mercenaries he has hired, follow Duncan straight to Robin Hood’s hideout and begin a full out assault on it. In the process, they destroy the hideout, kill and wound many people, capture several others and drive the rest further into the forest. After this, the Sheriff proposes to Marian, who is King Richard III’s cousin, and says he will spare the lives of the captured outlaws if she accepts. Robin learns that the Sheriff is going to hang several of his men including Little John’s son, in honor of his marriage to Marian. He plans an attack in which he and the remaining band will sneak into Nottingham Castle and attack during the wedding ceremony. The attack doesn’t go as planned, but is still successful. Azeem gets the peasants to rebel against the Sheriff and his men and they join the fight. Robin saves Marian and kills the Sheriff of Nottingham. Azeem repays Robin for helping him escape jail by killing the Sheriff’s witch Mortianna (Geraldine McEwan), who nearly kills Robin. Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves ends with Friar Tuck marrying Robin and Marian in Sherwood Forrest. King Richard III arrives and gives away Marian and thanks Robin for his good deeds.

Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves is a good adventure film. Kevin Costner, Morgan Freeman, Christian Slater, Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio and Alan Rickman all do a good job in their roles. Alan Rickman is especially good in the villainous role of the Sheriff of Nottingham. The movie has great setting that include castles, chalk cliffs, Sycamore Gap on Hadrian’s Wall, the open English countryside and the forests of England. Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves has a good soundtrack that includes the hit song Everything I Do I Do It for You by Bryan Adams. The opening credits of the movie are interesting as the background looks like an old medieval tapestry. The movie also features a number of good action sequences. If you like medieval based films or adventure films, then Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves is worth a watch or possibly even an addition to your movie collection.

Aug 15

The Option Advisor Book Review

The Option Advisor: Wealth-Building Techniques Using Equity & Index Options by Bernie Schaeffer provides readers with wealth building techniques using options.

Here are some of the takeaways from The Option Advisor:

1. Fundamental analysis is a good reflective tool, but not a forecasting tool
2. Avoid crowd thinking
3. True contrary opinion is about buying low expectations and not low prices
4. Options have a limited life
5. You will have losing trades
6. Many people bail at first sign of possible loss
7. Greed is not good
8. Set target exit points
9. Don’t let early profits lull you into a false sense of security or confidence
10. Find out what kind of investor you are
11. Control fear
12. Conquer greed
13. Cultivate patience
14. Cut noise to maintain focus
15. Let profits run and cut losses short
16. For a conservative approach, turn over your investment as many times as possible in a year

Overall, The Option Advisor is a good read although a bit technical. It provides a good number of examples although they are a bit dated as the book was written in 1997. The technology examples are very dated. Despite this, the book has some great takeaways. The appendixes have a large number of option trading terms with definitions as well as recommended reading by the author. If you are a beginner in options trading, then The Option Advisor by Bernie Schaeffer is worth a read.

Aug 11

Angels in the Infield Movie Review

Angels in the Infield is the 2000 Disney made for TV movie starring Patrick Warburton, Brittney Irvin, David Alan Grier, Colin Fox, Kurt Fuller and Rebecca Jenkins. It is a sequel to Angels in the Outfield. Eddie Everett, once one of the best pitchers in the league, has fallen on hard times both professionally and personally. With the help of his daughter, Laurel, and an angel (former Angels pitcher Bob Bugler), Everett comes back to form as a pitcher and begins working on getting his family back together.

The movie begins with angels playing baseball in heaven. Bob “Bungler” Bugler (David Alan Grier), is an angel, asks for one more season. Back on earth, a pathetic looking Anaheim Angels team is playing the Arizona Crimson Devils. The few fans in attendance are booing and jeering the team. During the game, Angels pitcher Eddie Everett (Patrick Warburton) receives a phone call from his ex-wife Claire (Rebecca Jenkins) that she is taking a teaching job at Harvard and leaving their daughter Laurel (Brittney Irvin), with him. Eddie’s place is a true bachelor pad and he is not exactly the father figure type which leads to difficulties between him and his daughter. That evening, Eddie watches the 1992 American League Championship Series game between the Anaheim Angels and the Boston Red Sox in which he fumbled a hit back to him, which led to the Red Sox winning the game and going to the World Series. After this, Eddie was never the same as a baseball player or as a person. Laurel sees him watching the clip and afterward prays for her dad to have another chance at being great.

The next day, Bob Bugler comes to earth to help Eddie. At the game, Bob tells Laurel that he is there to help her dad win the pennant and what the rules are. During the game, some of Bob’s fellow angels arrive. These angels are a little rusty as they are second string. Laurel and Bob decide the angels need some training. Laurel gets some baseball tips from Eddie. She uses these tips to help train the angels. On what looks to be Eddie’s final game, the angels appear and help him win the game and help him avoid being released.

The Devil (Colin Fox) goes to see the Crimson Devil’s star hitter and offers to help him win the championship. Meanwhile, Eddie is remembering all the times that he wasn’t there for his daughter and decides to start making up for it. He starts by having his weight room turned into Laurel’s room. He promises to make Laurel’s dance recital. After this, the angels start coming to the Angel’s games and helping them win games. The Angels and the Crimson Devils end up playing in a one game playoff. Eddie chooses to go to Laurel’s dance recital even though it might conflict with him pitching. The game starts without Eddie and Bob does his best to speed the recital up. Eddie makes it to the game in the bottom of the eighth. He makes a great speech to pump up the team. The team makes a comeback. Eddie pitches in the ninth. It comes down to him facing Randy Fleck, who got the hit in the 1992 AL Championship Game. Fleck hits a grounder to Eddie, but this time he fields it cleanly and makes the out because he believed. The Angels win the game and go to the playoffs. Angels in the Infield ends with Eddie hugging Laurel and kissing Claire, who made it to the game. Because of his good work, Bob gets to pitch in heaven and gets his angel wings.

Overall, Angels in the Infield is a good movie, but not near the classic that Angels in the Outfield was. Patrick Warburton, Brittney Irvin, David Alan Grier, Colin Fox, Kurt Fuller and Rebecca Jenkins are good in their roles. David Alan Grier and his character of Bob Bugler add some funny moments to the movie. If you like baseball movies and comedies, then Angels in the Infield is worth a watch.

Jul 31

Richistan Book Review

Richistan: A Journey Through the American Wealth Boom and the Lives of the New Rich by Robert Frank is about the new rich in America that have come about in the last several decades and the new “country” they have created within the United States. It describes how much different they are than the typical American.

Here are some of the interesting takeaways from Richistan:

1. Life gets complicated when you are rich (many complications brought on by the individuals themselves).
2. New wealth tends to happen more suddenly.
3. $1 million is not what is used to be.
4. New rich have more diverse income streams than the old rich
5. Many of new rich live lavishly and then complain about costs and complexity.
6. Idle rich being replaced by workaholic wealthy
7. Many like to think of themselves as ordinary even while they live lavishly
8. Big on philanthropy
9. Can lose fortunes as quick as they make them.
10. Much of wealth is in stocks and not physical assets (business, land, etc.) like old wealth.
11. Many like to flaunt wealth
12. New Rich’s spending is causing trickledown effect.
13. Upscale brands catering to rich are better off than those brands catering to middle class and poor.
14. New rich are spending to show they can and as a result many are taking on more debt.
15. When it comes to philanthropy the new rich like to invest in charity, not donate to charity.
16. Many are bypassing traditional nonprofits that they see as ineffective and instead creating their own foundations.
17. A number of the new rich are becoming politically involved and they tend to be Democrats, especially the ultra rich new wealth.
18. There is a fear amongst new rich of losing it all.
19. Create wealth groups to discuss their problems of being wealthy
20. Growing gap between rich and poor.

Richistan by Robert Frank is a quick and easy read that brings up some interesting facts and ideas about the New Rich in America. From this book it appears that the many of the New Rich of Richistan have duel personalities, they want to act normal but on the flip side they spend very lavishly. With their spending habits, involvement in politics and other habits they are creating unintended problems, repeating some of the old history of the old rich and doing things that appear to go against the New Rich’s professed values. If you are looking for a quick and interesting read about the new rich in America, Richistan is worth a read.

Jul 21

Duct Tape Marketing Book Review

Duct Tape Marketing: The World’s Most Practical Small Business Marketing Guide by John Jantsch is about developing and executing a marketing plan to grow and develop your business.

Here are some of the takeaways from Duct Tape Marketing:

1. Decide who matters
2. Be different
3. Have a niche for your business
4. Sell at a premium
5. Don’t be in a commodity business
6. Have a great guarantee
7. Have great service
8. Solve a problem
9. Know what you really sell
10. Price is a function of value
11. Educate, don’t sell
12. Create a marketing kit
13. Have a blog
14. Keep employees involved
15. Educate employees
16. Be focused and have a good call to action
17. Make targeted ads
18. Have good headlines
19. Write as you talk
20. Know what a customer is worth
21. Create referral partner network
22. Effective marketing eliminates the need for selling
23. Get to know customers
24. Set goals

Duct Tape Marketing by John Jantsch is a good and easy to understand marketing book. It provides small businesses with the information to create simple yet very effective marketing plans. If you are a small business owner or thinking of becoming one, this is a must add book to your personal library.

Jul 14

Executive Decision Movie Review

Executive Decision is the 1996 action film starring Kurt Russell, Steven Seagal, Halle Berry, Oliver Platt and John Leguizamo. A group of terrorists hijack a 747 airliner headed from Athens to Washington D.C. with the stated objective of releasing their leader. An intelligence expert thinks that the real reason is to release nerve gas over Washington D.C. and that the plane shouldn’t be allowed to enter U.S. airspace.

The movie opens with Lieutenant Colonel Austin Travis (Steven Seagal) leading a U.S. Army Special Forces raid on a Chechen mafia safe house near Trieste Italy. They are unsuccessful in recovering the Soviet nerve agent, DZ-5, that they came after as it had already been moved. In the raid, Travis loses one of his men.

Three months later, El Sayed Jaffa (Andreas Katsulas), one of the world’s most feared terrorists, is apprehended. Shortly after this, Oceanic Airlines Flight 343, a Boeing 747-200, from Athens to Washington D.C. is hijacked by Jaffa’s second in command, Nagi Hassan (David Suchet) and a number of Jaffa’s men. Dr. David Grant (Kurt Russell), an intelligence consultant, is summoned to the Pentagon for a top level meeting about the hijacking. While at the briefing, Grant theorizes that Hassan’s main objective is to release the DZ-5 in US airspace and not the release of Jaffa. Travis comes up with the idea of using an experimental F-117 that can dock with other aircraft to take out the terrorists and defuse the bomb.

Travis, his Special Forces team, Grant and engineer Dennis Cahill (Oliver Platt) all board the F-117 and head toward the intercept point of the hijacked 747. The initial docking goes ok. Then the two planes hit turbulence while the assault team is transferring from the F-117 to the 747. Cappy (Joe Morton) is seriously injured. Grant goes to help him and then the docking sleeve begins to break. Travis sacrifices himself to save the rest of the team by closing the 747 hatch. The F-117 breaks up and is lost. The surviving assault team members plus Grant and Cahill find that they have lost half of their equipment and have no communication to the outside. Just after they get onboard, the group is nearly discovered when the pilot checks in the hold they are in to see why a warning light is going off.

The group begins searching the plane for the DZ-5 and putting a map together of where the terrorists are onboard the plane. The group finds the bomb, which an injured Cappy and Cahill work on disarming the bomb while the rest of the group works on their assault plan. Back at the Pentagon, Secretary of Defense Charles White (Len Cariou) and other top military leaders decide to release Jaffa since they have not heard from the assault team. After Jaffa is released and working on the bomb, the team realizes there is a sleeper onboard who controls the bomb. Grant decides to contact Jean, a flight attendant, who had protected him from being seen earlier by Hassan in order to help him find the sleeper. Jean thinks she has found the sleeper just before a flight of four F-14 Tomcats arrive to escort the 747 away from US airspace.

U.S. Senator Mavros (J. T. Walsh) tries to negotiate with the Secretary of Defense before he realizes Hassan is going to kill him as a warning. Hassan kills Mavros to show that he is serious about his endeavor. One of the team uses the tail lights of the 747 to signal the Tomcats to let them know the team is on the plane and not to shoot it down.

Grant and Jean begin the assault to take back the plane by going after the sleeper. When they get to the man that Jean thought had the electronic device, it turns out to be a case of diamonds. Grant immediately spots the real sleeper, Jean-Paul Demou (Robert Apisa), the man who built the DZ-5 bomb. The rest of the team begins the assault and takes out all of the terrorists except Hassan. During the assault, Cappy and Cahill disarm the bomb and some stray bullets go through the plane’s fuselage and cause the plane to decompress. In a last ditch effort to destroy the plane, Hassan kills the pilots in hopes of crashing the plane. He is killed by one of the Special Forces members.

Grant, with the help of Jean, tries to land at Washington Dulles International Airport despite barely knowing how to fly. He misses the approach at Dulles, but then heads to nearby Frederick Field. He lands the plane, but the runway is too short so the 747 ends up going into the sand berm in the overrun area. The movie ends with Grant and Jean heading off in a FBI car together to get a cup of coffee and then to a debriefing.

Executive Decision is a good action movie. Kurt Russell, Halle Berry and the rest of the cast do a good job in their roles. The movie has some good action scenes as well as flying sequences. Executive Decision has an ending that includes Frank Sinatra singing its Nice To Go Traveling. If you like action movies or Kurt Russell movies, then Executive Decision
is worth a watch.

Jul 07

The Price Of Everything Book Review

The Price of Everything: Solving the Mystery of Why We Pay What We Do by Eduardo Porter looks at why people pay the prices they do, how people’s beliefs affect prices and how prices affect everyone’s life.

The author breaks the book down into nine chapters that cover topics from the Price of Things to The Price of the Future. Here are some of the take aways from the book:

1. Many people buy things just because they are more expensive
2. Conspicuous consumption (rich buy things just to show off)
3. Frequent sales and markups keep consumers from knowing if they are getting a truly good deal
4. The internet has brought more price discrimination
5. Prices ending in .99 sell more things
6. People prefer things they choose to things other people choose for them
7. Great issues when pondering what a life is worth and the cost benefit analysis that goes into it
8. Richer people tend to be happier
9. Polygamy decreased due to need of social cohesion
10. Christianity spread monogamy
11. Women going into the workforce led to massive changes including political and culturally
12. Many different reasons for pay gaps
13. 1980’s saw middle class dynamics begin to change
14. Free isn’t free
15. Free has the power to destroy
16. Culture sometimes has high costs
17. Most successful religions are the ones that are the strictest
18. Rising or falling prices can be good or bad depending on the situation

The Price of Everything by Eduardo Porter is a well written and easy to understand book. If you are looking for a book about how products are priced this in not it. If you are looking for a book about the price of things, life, happiness, women, work, free, culture, faith and the future, then The Price of Everything is the book you are looking for. Eduardo Porter fills the book with interesting facts and insights that make you think about the price you are paying for everything in your life. The Price of Everything by Eduardo Porter is worth a read if you are interested in finding out how everything in your life gets its price.

Jul 04

The Millionaire Mind Book Review

The Millionaire Mind by Tomas J. Stanley, Ph.D. is a very in depth look into how typical millionaires got to where they are and how you can become one of them. His in depth study looks at what made them wealthy, how they think about money, found their vocation, run their household and choose their spouses.
The Millionaire Mind is broken up into ten chapters with each being about an area of the typical millionaire’s life that help make them successful. Here are a few of the many takeaways from the book:

1. Don’t be addicted to consumption
2. Don’t be credit dependent
3. Buy when others sell
4. Think differently from the crowd
5. Ignore critics
6. Never take rejection personally
7. The harder you work, the luckier you become
8. Millionaires love their careers
9. Learn how to make accurate judgments about people
10. Have an accountant and attorney as advisors
11. Look out for opportunities that people walk past everyday
12. Believe in yourself
13. Pick a very targeted niche
14. Never consider relying on other people’s money to make you rich
15. Be frugal
16. Never borrow long-term with the prospects of short-term income
17. If you wish to become affluent, associate with economically productive people
18. Buy things you want, not things to impress people
19. There is a strong correlation between net worth and the proportion of one’s wealth that is invested in real estate
20. Never try to adopt an economic orientation that is incongruent with your abilities and aptitudes

The Millionaire Mind by Tomas J. Stanley, Ph.D. is well written and full of great and interesting facts and information about typical millionaires and how to become one. If you want to learn how to think like a millionaire and become one, then The Millionaire Mind by Tomas J. Stanley, Ph.D. is a must read and a must add to your personal library.

Jun 24

The 4-Hour Workweek Book Review

The 4-Hour Workweek: Escape 9-5, Live Anywhere, and Join the New Rich by Timothy Ferriss is about helping you create a system where you do not have to have the traditional 9-5 job and you can live anywhere in the world that you want while doing your work.

Here are some of the many takeaways from the book:

1. Have others work for you
2. Work smarter not harder
3. Be the owner
4. Ensure payday comes everyday
5. Challenge status quote
6. Retirement planning is a worst case scenario
7. Timing is never right
8. Emphasize strengths, don’t fix weaknesses
9. Don’t choose unhappiness over uncertainty
10. Create automated source of income
11. Follow Pareto’s Law 80/20 Rule in professional and personal life
12. Don’t work for work’s sake
13. Be selective
14. Always have a clear list of priorities
15. Focus on output and get rid of distractions
16. Learn to be different when it counts
17. Limit email consumption and production
18. Batch time consuming tasks
19. Avoid meetings without clear objectives
20. Empower people
21. Outsource work
22. Pick an affordably researchable niche market
23. Fewer options equals more revenue
24. Get rid of things you don’t need
25. Adversity doesn’t build character; it reveals it

The above are just 25 of the many takeaways from The 4-Hour Workweek. Besides the many great takeaways, there also a lot of great tools listed in the book that can help you with ideas and getting your new business going. Timothy Ferriss does a great job of writing this book and making it simple to understand. He offers great tips and tools that will help you start living your dream life. The 4-Hour Workweek is a must read and addition to your personal library if you are looking to start or improve your business or to start living your dream life.

Jun 20

Rich Dad’s Guide to Investing Book Review

Rich Dad’s Guide to Investing: What the Rich Invest in, That the Poor and the Middle Class Do Not! by Robert T. Kiyosaki with Sharon L. Lechter takes a look at what investments that the rich invest in that allows them to continue to become richer and richer. The book is also about teaching you investor lessons and how to obtain the investments of the rich.

Rich Dad’s Guide to Investing is full of great investor lessons and takeaways to help you on your journey to becoming rich. Here a few of the many takeaways from the book.

1. The rich don’t work for money, money works for them
2. Two types of money problems: not enough and too much
3. You must create your own investment plan
4. Invest in multiple asset types
5. “Investing is a plan, often a dull, boring, and almost mechanical process of getting rich.” Rich Dad
6. Use data not intuition, experience, knowledge or common sense when investing
7. Have to invest time to become rich
8. Be rich, comfortable and secure in that order
9. Create a financial team
10. Don’t compete with other people in your journey to becoming rich
11. Know what kind of income you are working on (earned, portfolio, real estate)
12. True investor is prepared for whatever happens
13. Buy investments for cash flow
14. 5 D’s Dream, Dedication, Drive, Data, Dollars
15. Buy and create assets
16. Never take a job for money, but for long term skills you will learn
17. Invest to win
18. Always have a clear mission
19. Run business from financial statements
20. Keep up with changes

Robert T. Kiyosaki and Sharon L. Lechter do a great job with Rich Dad’s Guide to Investing. The book is well written and easy to understand. It has great lessons, rules and information that will help you on your journey to becoming rich. Rich Dad’s Guide to Investing makes you think, challenge what you have learned in the past about investing and helps you create a foundation to start with on your own journey to becoming rich. Rich Dad’s Guide to Investing by Robert T. Kiyosaki with Sharon L. Lechter is a must add to your personal library if you are interested in investing and becoming rich.

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