Happy Belated Google!

googles-18th-birthday-5661535679545344-hp2x-2September 30, 2016 – On Tuesday, Google officially became an adult.

The Internet giant, which officially incorporated on September 4, 1998, has decided that instead September 27 is its birthday.

For something that has been around for only 18 years, it’s difficult to imagine life without Google, especially when it’s estimated to process over 3.5 billion search requests each day worldwide. I’m probably responsible for 10 to 20 of those daily searches, which makes me doubly embarrassed to have missed this special milestone.

Happy belated birthday, Google. I certainly hope won’t cause too much of a ruckus celebrating. You’re not 21 yet.

Weekly Photo Challenge – Quest

September 26, 2016 — This week’s photo challenge is the quest.

Every year, I wait until the end of the summer to take my vacation. The beach is less crowded, and the September weather is beautiful. I always pick an afternoon to hit the boardwalk in search of a new piece to add to my collection from my favorite jewelry designer Holly Yashi. I was mighty surprised that the jewelry store was gone, and already replaced by another. old-jewlery-store

It was a beautiful day despite my disappointment, soI walked the boards with a little more cash in my pocket and took in an airshow instead.

airshow-beach airshow

The 25 best sports movies of all time

041414-sportsmovies-fieldofdreamsstill-vnocropresize-940-529-medium-87September 23, 2016 – In honor of baseball’s upcoming playoffs (better luck next year Phillies) and the football excitement that has returned to Philadelphia and the Eagles, courtesy of Carson Wentz, here is Time Magazine’s all-time 25 best sports movies.

It’s nice to see four baseball movies made the list, namely Bull Durham, Eight Men Out, Field of Dreams, and Major League, but there should have been a few more. What about Pride of the Yankees or The Natural?

Just about every sport imaginable is represented, even the obscure ones like synchronized swimming. It is a little odd that the only football movie is The Freshman from 1925. I never saw it but I’ll go out on a limb and say they could have made a better choice.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Harvest Moon

September 19, 2016 — There may not be an official weekly photo challenge from WordPress this week, but it’s Monday, I need to post a photo so I’ve made up my own: Harvest Moon.

It’s not a great shot technically–I shot it on my iPhone–but it’s the most recent photo I’ve taken. I’ve also taken much better shots of the moon, but I found it interesting.


Here is a little music to enjoy to remember Friday’s harvest moon.

Words I should know how to pronounce

maxresdefaultSeptember 16, 2016 – I often peruse the dailywritingtips and ragan websites to stay up-to-date on best communication practices. The article below has appeared on both sites, and it’s too fun not to share.

Now, I may be from Philadelphia, and we’re known for unique word pronunciations, but I thought I was better than most. However, if graded on this list, I would barely pass. How did you do?

# # # # # # #

51 words you should know how to pronounce

By Maeve Maddox | Posted: August 18, 2016

Fred Astaire drew laughs back in the 1930s with his song “Let’s Call the Whole Thing Off” in which the lovers can’t agree on the pronunciation of words like either, neither, and tomato.

On a personal level, I cringe when I hear someone sound the “t” in often or pronounce pecan with a short “a,” but I have to acknowledge that both these pronunciations are widely accepted alternative pronunciations that can be justified by the spelling.

Alternative pronunciations, however, are a different matter from out-and-out mispronunciations. The latter, no matter how common, are incorrect, either because of the spelling that indicates another pronunciation, or because of what is widely agreed upon to be conventional usage. Word of caution: I’m writing from an American perspective.

Here are 50 frequently mispronounced words. The list is by no means exhaustive, but it provides a good start:

1. aegis—The ae in this word is pronounced /ee/. Say EE-JIS/, not /ay-jis/. In mythology, the “aegis” is associated especially with the goddess Athene. It is her shield with the Gorgon’s head on it.

2. anyway—The problem with this word is not so much pronunciation as the addition of an unnecessary sound. Don’t add an s to make it “anyways.” The word is ANYWAY.

3. archipelago—Because the word is from Greek, the ch is pronounced with a /k/ sound. Say /AR-KI-PEL-A-GO/, not /arch-i-pel-a-go/.

4. arctic—Note the c after the r. Say /ARK-TIK/, not /ar-tik/.

5. accessory—the first c has a “hard” sound. Say /AK-SESS-OR-Y/, not /ass-ess-or-y/.

6. ask—The s comes before the k. Say /ASK/ not /aks/.

7. asterisk—Notice the second s. Say /AS-TER-ISK/, not /as-ter-ik/.

8. athlete—The word has two syllables, not three. Say /ATH-LETE/, not /ath-uh-lete/.

9. barbed wire—Notice the ar in the first syllable. Say /BARBD/, not /bob/.

10. cache—The word is of French origin, but it does not end with an accented syllable, as cachet does. A cache is a hiding place or something that is being hidden: a cache of supplies; a cache of money; a cache of drugs. Say /KASH/, not /ka-shay/.

11. candidate—Notice the first d. Say /KAN-DI-DATE/, not /kan-i-date/.

12. cavalry—This word refers to troops that fight on horseback. Say /KAV-UL-RY/, not /kal-vuh-ry/. NOTE: Calvary refers the place where Jesus was crucified, and it is pronounced /kal-vuh-ry/.)

13. chaos—The spelling ch can represent three different sounds in English: /tch/ as in church, /k/ as in Christmas, and /sh/ as in chef. The first sound is heard in words of English origin and is the most common. The second sound of ch, /k/, is heard in words of Greek origin. The third and least common of the three ch sounds is heard in words adopted from modern French. Chaos is a Greek word. Say /KAY-OS/, not /tchay-os/.

14. clothes—Notice the th spelling and sound. Say /KLOTHZ/, not /kloz/.

15. daïs—A daïs is a raised platform. The pronunciation fault is to reverse the vowel sounds. The word is often misspelled as well as mispronounced. Say /DAY-IS/ not /dī-is/.

16. dilate—The word has two syllables, not three. Say /DI-LATE/, not /di-a-late/.

17. drowned—This is the past participle form of the verb drown. Notice that there is no final d on drown. Don’t add one when using the word in its past form. Say /DROWND/, not /drown-ded/.

18. et cetera—This Latin term is often mispronounced, and its abbreviation is frequently misspelled. Say /ET CET-ER-A/, not /ex cet-er-a/. For the abbreviation, write etc., not ect.

19. February—Just about everyone I know drops the first r in February. The spelling calls for /FEB-ROO-AR-Y/, not /feb-u-ar-y/.

20. foliage—The word has three syllables. Say /FO-LI-UJ/, not /fol-uj/.

21. forte—English has two words spelled this way. One comes from Italian and the other from French. The Italian word, a musical term meaning “loud,” is pronounced with two syllables: /FOR-TAY/. The French word, an adjective meaning “strength” or “strong point,” is pronounced with one syllable: /FORT/.

22. Halloween—The word for the holiday Americans celebrate with such enthusiasm on Oct. 31 derives from “Hallowed Evening,” meaning “evening that has been made holy.” The word “hallow” comes from Old English halig, meaning “holy.” Notice the a in the first syllable and say /HAL-O-WEEN/, not /hol-lo-ween/.

23. height—The word ends in a /T/ sound, not a /TH/ sound. Say /HITE/, not /hith/.

24. heinous—People unfamiliar with the TV show Law and Order: S.V.U. may not know that heinous has two syllables. (The show begins with this sentence: “In the criminal justice system, sexually based offenses are considered especially heinous.”) Say /HAY-NUS/, not /heen-i-us/.

25. hierarchy—The word has four syllables. Say /HI -ER-AR-KY,/ not /hi-ar-ky/.

26. Illinois—As with Arkansas, the final “s” in Illinois is not pronounced. Say /IL-I-NOY/ (and /Ar-kan-saw/, not /il-li-noiz/ or /ar-kan-sas/). NOTE: Some unknowledgeable folks may still be trying to pronounce Arkansas as if it had something to do with Kansas. The pronunciation /ar-kan-zuz/ is waaay off base.

27. interpret—The word has three syllables; don’t add one. Say /IN-TER-PRET/, not /in-ter-pre-tate/.
28. incident—Something that happens is an “incident.” Don’t say “incidence” when you mean a specific event. There is a word “incidence,” but it has a different meaning.

29. “irregardless”—See the real word, regardless.

30. jewelry—The word has three syllables. Say /JEW-EL-RY/, not /jew-el-er-y/. The pronunciation /jewl-ry/ is common but not correct, as it removes one syllable from the word.

31. library—Notice where the first r comes in the word. Say /LI-BRAR-Y/, not /li-ber-ry/.

32. medieval—The word has four syllables. The first e may be pronounced either short [med] or long [meed]. Say /MED-EE-EEVAL/ or /MEE-DEE-EEVAL/, not /meed-eval/.

33. miniature—The word has four syllables. Say /MIN-I-A-TURE/, not /min-a-ture/.

34. mischievous—This is the adjectival form of mischief whose meaning is “calamity” or “harm.”
Mischievous is now associated with harmless pranks, so that the expression “malicious mischief” has been coined as another term for vandalism. Mischievous has three syllables, with the accent on the first syllable: /MIS-CHI-VUS/. Don’t say /mis-chee-vee-us/.

35. niche—Though many words of French origin have been anglicized in standard usage, this one cries out to retain a long “e” sound and a /SH/ sound for the che. Say /NEESH/, not /nitch/.

36. orient—This word has three syllables. As a verb it means to place something in its proper position in relation to something else. It comes from a word meaning “east” and originally meant positioning something in relation to the east. Now it is used with a more general meaning. Say /OR-I-ENT/, not /or-i-en-tate/.

37. old-fashioned—This adjective is formed from a past participle: “fashioned.” Don’t leave off the -ed. Say /OLD-FASHIOND/, not /old-fashion/.

38. picture—There’s a k sound in picture. Don’t confuse picture with pitcher. Say /PIK-TURE/, not /pitch-er/. Pitcher is a different word. A pitcher is a serving vessel with a handle, or a player who throws a baseball.

39. precipitation—This is a noun that refers to rain, sleet or snow or anything else that normally falls from the sky. As with prescription (below), the prefix is PRE-. Say /PRE-CIP-I-TA-TION/, not /per-cip-i-ta-tion/.

40. prescription—Note the prefix PRE- in this word. Say /PRE-SCRIP-TION/, not /per- scrip-tion/ or /pro-scrip-tion/.

41. preventive—The word has three syllables. A common fault is to add a syllable. Say PRE-VEN-TIVE/, not /pre-ven-ta-tive.

42. pronunciation—This word is a noun. It comes from the verb pronounce, but it is not pronounced like the verb. Say /PRO- NUN-CI-A-TION/, not /pro-nounce-i-a-tion/.

43. prostate—This word for a male gland is often mispronounced. There is an adjective prostrate , which means to be stretched out face down on the ground. When speaking of the gland, however, say /PROS-TATE/, not /pros-trate/.

44. realtor—The word has three syllables. Say /RE-AL-TOR/, not /re-a-la-tor/. It refers to a member of the National Association of Realtors, not simply a real estate agent.

45. regardless—The word has three syllables. Please don’t add an ir- to make it into the abomination “irregardless”.

46. sherbet—The word has only one r in it. Say /SHER-BET/ not /sher-bert/.

47. spayed—This is a one-syllable word, the past participle form of the verb to spay, meaning to remove the ovaries from an animal. Like the verbdrown (above) the verb spay does not have a d in its infinitive form. Don’t add one to the past participle. Say /SPADE/, not /spay-ded/.

48. ticklish—The word has two syllables. Say /TIK-LISH/, not /tik-i-lish/.

49. tract—Religious evangelists often hand out long printed statements of belief called “tracts.” That’s one kind of “tract.” Houses are built on “tracts.” Then there’s the word “track.” Athletes run on “tracks.” Animals leave “tracks.” Don’t say /TRAKT/ when you mean /TRAK/, and vice versa.

50. vehicle—Although there is an h in the word, to pronounce it is to sound hicky. Say /VEE-IKL/, not /vee-Hikl/.

51. wintry—Here’s another weather word often mispronounced, even by meteorologists. The word has two syllables. Say /WIN-TRY/, not /win-ter-y/.

Bad Cinema – 18 family pics for the worst movie ever

cinemashutterstock_129623003September 9, 2016 – A family gathering provided a perfect opportunity to ask everyone to name the worst movie they ever saw. Here is The McMaster’s List of Bad Cinema, better known as movies you want to avoid.

Night of the Living Dead. The cult classic from 1968, a small, independent horror film that cost only $114,000 to make, is my father’s selection. Since it’s gone on to make $18 million internationally, that original $114,000 seems like a rather good investment. Yet, the story is laughable; two teenagers drive to rural Pennsylvania to visit their father’s grave. They find something amiss at the cemetery; all of the corpses have come back to life with the sole purpose of killing every human in sight. I’m still puzzled by this, since the zombies move slower than a snails’ pace and any typical human could out run them with ease.

Love Me Tender. Elvis Presley starred in my mother’s pick for the worst movie she’s ever seen. It was his first movie role, which should explain volumes, and viewing it was a part of her first date with my father. The 1956 black and white movie cast Elvis as a Civil War soldier, and a corny one at that. Although I’ve never seen it, Mom says that the death scene, where Elvis succumbs to whatever kills him, is laughable. But Elvis went on to have a pretty lucrative movie career despite her poor review. My parents went on to have four children and nine grandchildren, so things worked out pretty well for them, too.

Hot Tub Time Machine. I’ve never heard of this movie from 2010, but it’s my sister, Linda’s pick for worst ever. Just by the title alone, it sounds awful. The premise may be creative: a malfunctioning hot tub (which also happens to be a time machine) at a ski resort takes a group of young men back to 1986 where they must relive a fateful night. The cast includes John Cusack (who signifies the 1980s on film). Alas, she tells me it is one “really immature piece of filmmaking.”

The Spy Who Came in from the Cold. I’m not too familiar with this film, selected by my brother-in-law, Roland, but at least I’ve heard of it. This British spy film from 1965 starred Richard Burton in the lead role and focused on espionage during the cold war. Although it did get some good reviews, it’s definitely not a movie that you should expect a child to love. Roland admits he was young when he saw it, and it obviously left a terrible impression. Perhaps another viewing as an adult is in order to form a true opinion, but Roland decided to stick to his guns on this one.

Water World. Another one that would make my all-time bad list is the selection of my brother-in-law, Rex. This bleak futuristic piece of garbage from 1995 has humans has surviving some kind of disaster (perhaps the polar caps melted) and searching for dry land. While some viewers thought it was the most underrated movie ever, I think Rex agrees with me that this feature deserved a Razzie, which it earned, instead of an Oscar, and is regarded as one of the biggest flops in the history of motion pictures.

The English Patient. Speaking of Oscars, my sister, Patti’s pick won a whopping nine of them, including Best Picture in 1997. However, I have to agree that it was pretty bad. Perhaps you could argue that the cinematography was great, but the story was too long and dreadfully boring. I didn’t hate it, but Patti did, and so did Elaine Benes, on Seinfeld who said the movie “stunk!”

Tree of Life. Despite its critical acclaim and award nominations, my brother David has named this movie the biggest piece of crap he’s ever seen in his life. While his opinion may seem harsh, I admit I didn’t like it either, mainly because I didn’t understand it. The film, nominated for the 2011 Best Picture, stars Brad Pitt and Sean Penn, so you’d think it would be a powerhouse. Instead, it turns into a collection of scenes that never fit together and were not entertaining in the least. For me, this is a huge wasted effort on the part of Brad Pitt and Sean Penn, and apparently for my brother, too.

Mom and Dad Save the World. My nephew, Rick’s pick as the worst movie he’s ever seen, is a stupid comedy from 1992 that defies all imaginable logic. I remember seeing this when it was out on video back in the day, and I agree with his assessment. It stars Jeffrey Jones, the man who played the principal in “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off”, and who just happens to totally freak me out in every role he plays. He’s just one of those actors that gives me the creeps! There are so many brilliant comedies out there, so why anyone would want to waste their time on this one is beyond me, and apparently, Rick too.

Troll 2. My niece, Lauren’s pick is another one that I’ve missed (thankfully) but a little research tells me it showed up on a lot of best worst movie lists in 1990. There are no well-known stars in the horror movie comedy, but Rotten Tomatoes has this to say about it: “There are movies that are bad. Then there are movies that are so bad, they’re good.” Still, it only scores 6 percent on the Tomatometer, so it can’t be that bad good.

Titanic. Admittedly, my nephew Ryan isn’t a movie person. He considers watching one too much of an investment of his time because it’s two hours you’ll never get back, or in this case, the three hours plus it would take to see this 1997 James Cameron vehicle. Therefore, he considers “Titanic” the worst movie ever made, and while I wasn’t a huge fan, I think it had its good moments, but I know plenty of people who would give him a high-five for his brave choice.

Limitless. I never saw or heard of this thriller from 2011, but it’s my son, Charlie’s pick for worst movie. At the first read of the review, the plot seems a little intriguing. A writer, played by Bradley Cooper, who is suffering from writer’s block, decides he has nothing to lose and tries a new drug that allows him to tap into his full potential. But oh, those damn side effects. The movie also stars Robert DeNiro, who’s had his share of stinkers lately, and also appears in another movie further down on our family list.

Constantine. My niece Leigh’s selection for the movie she ‘s loathed the most is the 2005 fantasy thriller “Constantine”. The film deals with your basic nightmare, and stars Keanu Reeves (hmm … stars and Keanu Reeves … isn’t that an oxymoron) as the man who sees all and therefore must save the world from the evils of hell. I think Leigh and I both agree that the poor script and the casting is truly the devil’s work indeed.

Birdman. Apparently my family doesn’t care much for the Oscar winners. My nephew, Adam’s pick won Best Picture and Best Actor (Michael Keaton) in 2014. This is another I haven’t seen, and I’m not sure I want to add it to my list after Adam’s review. Honestly, I had no desire to see it before Adam’s review! I know a lot of people who loved it, but they are equaled by those like Adam, who hated every minute of it. Happy birthday, Adam!

The Green Lantern. Another recent film from 2011 that made our most despised list is this pick from my nephew, Macey. Strange, he’s the targeted age group for super hero movies, yet he says it was the stupidest movie ever. This is another movie I haven’t seen, but I’m not really into the super hero thing. I think I can live the rest of my life comfortably if I skip this one altogether, and I can safely assume that Macey doesn’t ever want to see it again, either.

The Intern. My niece, Carly’s pick, is the most recent release on the list. This 2015 Robert DeNiro, Anne Hathaway vehicle is probably fresh in everyone’s minds since it is running on cable TV right now, and I watched it about a month ago. I didn’t love it, but I didn’t hate it as much as Carly did. I need to ask her if it’s an Anne Hathaway thing (since many people despise her) or it was the movie itself that was a turnoff. It made me a little uncomfortable to know that Hathaway’s character was DeNiro’s boss in the film, since he can run circles around her every which way, but I suppose that’s why they call it acting.

Avatar the Airbender. I never heard of my nephew, David’s pick, from 2010. I know the original Avatar, if they are at all related, but the name of this movie escapes me completely, so it took a bit of research to discover that it’s an action fantasy adventure written and directed by none other than M. Night Shyamalan. Reading the reviews, it seems like David is not alone in his assessment. Many people sat in the theater praying for this movie to end. Shyamalan defends his movie, though, and about a year ago, it was announced that he’s making a sequel. Yikes.

Jack and Jill. This Adam Sandler comedy, about a set of brother and sister twins, both played by Sandler, is my nephew, Jack’s selection. The movie was released in 2011, when Sandler was cranking out one bad comedy movie after another and likely making a fortune, but I have to agree with Jack, that this one is the worst of the bunch. It only scored 3 percent on the Tomatometer, the lowest I ever saw. I also couldn’t find one positive review from a critic, and I’m not sure that ever happened before.

Nothing But Trouble. This insane piece of celluloid is my pick for the Worst. Movie. Ever! You’d think a movie that starred Chevy Chase, Dan Aykroyd, John Candy (all in their prime) and Demi Moore (fresh off her success in the mega hit “Ghost”) had a lot of potential. I certainly thought so when I went to see this so-called comedy in 1991. Turns out it was the scariest movie I ever saw and not because it was supposed to be. It tells the story of a four people who get arrested for speeding in route from New York City to Atlantic City. They become prisoners of the kooky bunch of nut jobs who live in the small, quaint New Jersey town. I feel awful that I forced my son to see this piece of monstrosity when he was a young, impressionable boy.

Now it’s your turn. I encourage you to add your selections to the comments below so we can save other readers wasting their time on bad cinema.

Summer Sounds

sounds of summerSeptember 2, 2016Today marks the beginning of the Labor Day weekend, the unofficial end of summer.

I have to venture back to childhood to remember what I miss most about summer once it’s gone, since adults rarely get to experience it the way a child does. Summer seemed endless back then, with each day passing slowly, some feeling like an entire year.

As a child, how summer sounded is the easiest to recall. Here’s what I remember from the two places where I spent the most time:

The Jersey shore…
• Echoes of seagulls (and the smell of Coppertone).
• Vendors walking along the beach selling “Fudgy Wudgies” and newspapers.
• “Watch the Tram-car please,” on the Wildwood boardwalk.
• Rock music playing by the amusement piers.
• Announcements of lost kids on the boardwalk.

The old neighborhood…
• Big Wheels racing down the street.
• Hucksters peddling “Jersey tomatoes.”
• Mister Softee or Good Humor trucks.
• Crickets on a hot night.
• Baseball games playing on transistor radios.

It’s hard to say goodbye to summer, but there’s plenty to love about autumn to take away the sting. It makes me smile to think that the sounds of fallen leaves crunching beneath my feet, the crackle of a fireplace and fans cheering at football games are close behind.