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Posted by Joel Greene on

Memoirs of a Pseudo Life | Ages 15-23

Before reading this post, I recommend you take the opportunity to read my second memoir entry.

So as I left off in the last post, I had just started having a crush on my youth pastor’s daughter, Cody. Yes, Cody is a girl and it I didn’t even know that Cody was normally a boys name until later.

After having Simber reject me so fast, I was cautious. That is until a couple of the other boys that also had crushes on Cody, found out. After the guy who I thought had the running lead for her affection moved away, I tried to gain her trust but she sort of still had no interest in me. Putting crushes aside, I continued to have some difficulty relating with other boys and the girls were finally starting to open back up to me but were more interested in boyfriend and girlfriend relationships. I can even remember a couple girls having crushes on me but nothing ever came of them, typically it was because they were not my type (If I ever knew what that type was) or because I had a crush on Cody, so I sort of ignored  them. (Sorry, whoever you are.)

One heavily involved family at church, had a couple boys who were about my age. And from time to time, we got opportunities to spend time together. One such time, was Sunday after church when their family had invited other prominent church families over for a cookout. I was always much more innocent and younger looking, so many boys quickly rocketed past me in height and build. Heck, I can even remember a few girls being taller than me for a while. That afternoon, myself, the two boys, and a couple of their friends were chatting in the bedroom and for reasons unknown to me, the four of them decided to take the opportunity and torment me, by locking the bedroom door and shouting insults my way, all while I curled up in a ball in the corner. While I was fortunate to not have been physically harmed, it was a defacto scaring experience in my life to have other boys take advantage of my demeanor. For many years during my youth, I encountered time after time, boys my age or slightly older, be cruel and bully me. It was a huge betrayal of trust and I can remember have very little trust in many guys after that, I always got much more along with adults or girls who would give me the time of day.

There however one boy that I became friends with, Ryan. His family started coming to our church after God called his dad into our small town revival and made a total renovation on his family. I could write a whole section on this but I’ll spare you the details. We had a fairly close friendship and Ryan for a while was a positive encouragement to pursue God more. I hung out with his family and stayed over for a week once while my parents went on a Cruise.

I’m going to break this mundane story for a moment and tell about a funny time with his family. So I was working at Walt’s Food Center at the time and it was common for me to work late, so this one week when my parent went out of town. I came back late and Ryan’s mom made sloppy joes for dinner. She served me up a couple sandwiches and I began to eat, one my very first bite, I look down and right at the edge of my teeth marks was a dead fly mixed with the meat. I didn’t usually react to such things but I leaned over to Ryan’s dad and showed him the fly saying “Don’t tell her but I found a fly.” Suddenly he fly up from his chair ripping the sandwich from my hand yelling “HONEY! Joel found the fly!” I was confused but after things calmed down, turns out the family just played fly roulette. Apparently while cooking, a fly was buzzing around and she smack it with a fly swatter, only for it to get lost in the sloppy joes. The whole time the family was suspecting someone ate it and never expected for it show up in my sandwich.

One afternoon, while driving around going to the mall to meet friends, getting lunch, and finally going to the local park to play a game of volleyball with friends. We were sitting in the car and after feeling more comfortable with Ryan, I can remember saying something in the regards of what if I was girl. I don’t remember the context and I’m sure part of it was coming from my gender identity struggle. And now that I think about it, I was probably joking that if I was a girl, Ryan would have been the type of guy I would be into, but do know I was never gay and it was purely a what if thought. But while he was getting out of the car, he remarked “While, if you were a girl, I’m sure we wouldn’t know each other.” And that boggled me for sometime, as I didn’t know what he meant by it. It would have come out years later after he turned away from God, that it would have come out that he was now openly gay and apparently he dealt with this issue prior to us even knowing each other.

Fast forward through ages 15-18, I was actively involved in our youth group, doing overheads and handling pre-service games from time to time. I had also started driving at the age of 16 and owned a 1993 Convertible Ford Mustang. I start referring to my youth pastors as a sort of mentor in my life and with the included three trips to the Brownsville youth rallies (Branded by Fire), I had won over the trust of Cody’s father. So I made it a point to hang out with him and his family more often, I think I was over a few time, most the time it was to fix computer issues. By this time, there was no denying that Cody had become aware of my liking for her, I tried frequently to hang out but I had difficulty since her friends were not my friends. But wanting to do the right thing I decided that getting the approval to pursue her from her father was the first step, something I felt none of the other guys were doing right. I don’t remember how it started but I invited her father out to dinner and a White Sox game. You know, dated her father, which I still stand by as a great way for a young man to start dating a girl he likes. The day went quite well and during dinner had a conversation about my future and aspirations. At the time I believe I had just started working at Radioshack and at the plans to possibly move up to a Store Manager. Everything was fine until it came time to drive over to Sox Park. While in the car I hinted at my interest in Cody and this is when things didn’t go so well, he basically told me that his daughter was not interested in having a boyfriend. He never gave me exactly an answer if he was okay with it but I felt like while he was sincere that Cody wasn’t interested in anything serious, (Which I respect) I felt like he was more so telling me to stay away, than she was.

By this time, things were getting better with other guys my age, probably because their hormones were finally balancing out. But sadly girls were like always only interested in relationships, I did find it a bit easier to talk with them but nothing like when I was a preteen. By late 18, I was well on my way working at Radioshack and Revival had come to a close shortly after our church moved to a new building in Matteson, Illinois, also renaming themselves to Believers Church. To this day, it’s incredibly sad that designed a new building with the intend on continuing Revival, as we had all the necessities anyone would want. To this day many people have a hard time believing why certain design decisions were made, but truly could only understand if they experienced that small town Revival years before.

A few years into our new building and out of nowhere my youth pastor just out stopped coming to church and I assumed he officially had quit. I was waiting for them to show up one Sunday to give them something and when I didn’t see them I called, only to confirm this fact. After learning that several other high-up families also just quit coming and many of them took the route of insulting our pastor via a letter. One longtime deacon did just that, calling our pastor terrible names and never confronted him personally. For reasons unknown, most of them left with bitterness in their hearts. Regardless, I felt somewhat betrayed and confused, I was never given details to his reasons but the weeks following, the pastor’s daughter was put in charge of the youth.

Since I didn’t take much of an active role in meeting people outside of church and many of the people my age range had left, my parents finally spoke up and suggested my sister and I started looking another church, preferably with young people to date. I can distinctly remember visiting two, one was a Japanese church far up north (I’ll save my passion for Japanese people for later.) and the other was Second Place church, where I learned many of the younger people from our church went, including my ex-youth pastors. My sister and I went one Sunday morning, and while the service was good, it was what came afterwards that shocked me and made me decide to part ways with many of these people.

I had not only the opportunity to speak with my ex-youth pastor for a bit, I also spoke with several other previous members of Believes, and generally I just felt like all their words were very unchristian and bitter as expected. My youth pastor in particular did not speak kindly of Believers Church and he even went as far to suggest my family should just quit because Believers Church was dead and not going anyplace. I do strongly disagree with that claim because when his family initially left and I asked if they had found another church, he claimed they felt like God told them to leave. I’m sorry, but that was in no way God. He even says in the Bible, to not neglect the gathering of believers, if he truly wanted you to leave, he would have proved a new church before telling you to leave. And this is when I ended nearly all connection with past members of Believers Church.

Not to get out of order here, but years later, 2015 to be exact I got married to my now wife and out of honor for what used to be, we invited my ex-youth pastors. Keep in mind for years I was never able to get phone calls through to him, he rarely answered but I wanted to do the right thing. A week later, I received a phone call and it was his wife replying to our invite. She didn’t take a moment to ask how things have been or ask questions about my fiance, she simply said flat out that they were unable to attend, no reason what so ever. I’ve had many people suggest that since we were having the wedding at Believers Church and that our pastor was our officiant, that our of a bruised ego, they didn’t want to have to deal with old church people. That was the end of it for me, it has given my a largely broken heart for a family that the Devil has blinded. I can only pray that God helps them once again in the near future.

By my early twenties, my issues had returned to all time highs. My abuse of food and my emotional stress was a hitting it’s breaking point. It was easier from the ages of 12 to 18 to conceal my gender identity struggle since God became more of a focal point in my life, but once Revival ended and church became a place of only Sunday morning feel good sermons, my issues resurfaced and grew even larger.

Posted by Joel Greene on

Memoirs of a Pseudo Life | Ages 10-15

Before reading this post, I recommend you take the opportunity to read my first memoir entry.

So as I left off from my last post, by the age of 9, I came to make a strong friendship with the daughter of my mother’s high-school best friend. She was roughly my age and we got along very well. She appreciated many of the same things as I, such as bike riding (which was a skill I had recently learned at this point), playing pretend house, building forts. Plus to much my surprise, my mom even permitted us to have sleepovers. Course I got the typical you’re a boy and she’s a girl, so don’t do this or that speech but fairly easy stuff considering I was friends for the friendship, not because I necessarily liked her.

But to my dismay, as I grew my desire to have been born a girl only grew with me. It was still frowned upon at home to play with “girls” toys, so it was commonly preferred to play or have sleepovers over at her house. By the age of nearly 11, I mostly grew out of my childish toys and playing things like pretend house, but nonetheless Stephanie and I continued to have sleepovers and playdates.

Sometime between the ages of 8 and 10, my mom was apart of a homeschooling support group at our church. Every Thursday, the parents would gather and discuss their evil plans on how to further the ultra conservative movement… just kidding, I mean discuss how their kids were doing and their individual curriculums. We the kids, on the other hand, would sit at two tables in the youth room and do our school work. Unfortunately, just like any other church activity, they forced us to sit at a boys table and girls table.

At such a young age, this didn’t make a whole lot of sense. To be honest, it still doesn’t make much sense. On this one particular day, a girl who bullied me well into my teens, called over and out loud, claimed I was sitting at the wrong table. I obviously knew she had to be jesting but I proceeded to ask why, in which say replied “Because you’re not really a boy, your just a girl trying to pretend to be a boy. But we all know you’re really a girl…”. Again, I well knew she was joking and was probably picking on me, because she liked me but in any case, this is not something you say to a boy actually wishing he was a girl. While it was not a negative experience, it was just an ill experience that worsened my dark fantasies.

Easter | March 30th 1997

I remember March 30th 1997 well, it was the day that Revival broke out in our small church in the corn fields of Monee, Illinois. Exactly one year after the Smithton Outpouring (My current church) and nearly two years from when the Brownsville Revival started. My church was into putting on stage productions and the rehearsal for our Easter resurrection play came immediately after a group of people returned from visiting the Smithton Outpouring. From the stories I was told, this experience drove people to cry out for a revival awakening at Christian Life Fellow during their moments of prayer before and after the play rehearsal. Only after a few weeks, the church was primed for Revival and the week following, we had our first Revival service. It was four services a week and we had people come from all over the world to see our tiny church of less than 500 people.

With Revival and having a good friend like Stephanie, things were good. Even for a while I would hang with the girls after service and do things like braid hair; Which by the way I was named the best at braiding hair, which made several girls jealous. That is until puberty hit. I don’t know for sure but I was somewhat a late bloomer, not like really late but easily one of the last to experience it. I couldn’t understand why but slowly the girls I did know at church, started ignoring me and preferring to hang with other girls their age. The boys just got rougher and started talking about girls in purely relationship ways, and some even got outright sexual, likely a side effect of going to a public school. I even encountered one formal friend in my neighborhood who apparently already had sex at the age of 13. Which that was when my father finally gave me the talk about the birds and the bees. Let’s say he was extremely nervous about telling me (in the car after lunch) and I on the other hand, was more so not surprised but very much still unsure why my friends changed so much.

And this is when things started going downhill. My long time friend, started losing interest in hanging out. I felt like she instead had interest in a neighborhood boy and was hanging out with me less and less. By one point she was riding off on her bike to hang with friends that I didn’t know. And that is when I felt that in order for me to keep a friendship with her, I was going to have to have a crush on her too. I don’t very well remember how I went about this. That is until the last time I remember seeing her; I got invited to her birthday party at the roller rink. To show my love for her, I worked all day on a basket with candy and a nice card confessing my love for her (I don’t think I said love but for that age, I might have.). I didn’t get many opportunities to hang with her at the party as I never learned to skate but when the time came to give her my present. I set it in her lap and all I can remember is she just sat staring at it and after a few moments putting it aside, no “thank you” or “it’s nice”, just silence. I was heartbroken and I can remember the rest of the night, just sat waiting to go home. Right as we were loading up the van and I was waiting for my mom to finish talking with her mother. She came up to me and finally thanked me for the wonderful basket and card. It made me feel better but I had a suspicion that someone had her to say “thank you”.

It wasn’t until a few years ago, that brought up this memory with my mom and she told me that something I didn’t know. Apparently her Mom had a freak out over my gift and card. And it had something to do with an experience she had when she was young, a boy much around our age, hurt her feelings after becoming boyfriend and girlfriend. And it wasn’t just that once, she did it for a while and those negative emotions she expressed, she focused on her daughter and chances were her mom is what killed our friendship. She might have even been the reason we started seeing each other less. I don’t know. But the point is, I never saw her again after that. I became friends with her on Facebook a while back and I’ve not yet worked up the courage to message her, which I’m not sure it would be appropriate considering she is now married.

During this time and the years following, I fell into a deep subconscious depression. Even my cousins started doing other things and because of some family issues, we stopped hanging out. I tried my utmost to suppress my fantasy of being a girl and joined the crowd. While I was still high-spirited on the outside for a while, inside I was struggling to breath and I didn’t even know what was happening. I couldn’t ask for help when I didn’t even recognize what was right or wrong anymore. And worst of all, I was overeating and since my family didn’t have great eating habits in place, my parents never tried addressing it. My weight issues from that abuse of food and lack of exercise, has caused issues for me to this very day. My body being overweight for so long, has ruined my natural ability to maintain a healthy weight. 🙁

Along with not knowing what was right or wrong, I turned to trying my absolute best to get along with the other boys. Since I was now spending more time at church, than anyplace else, the church boys were all I had. To win over their trust, I tried looking cool by talking about girls like objects or having gross conversations. I even started neglecting my interest in GOD, to instead hang with them after service each night. That is until one night, while trying to “be cool” I took a scrap of paper and drew what was a crude picture of a naked women. One friend of mine, who knew this wasn’t normal (or appropriate) for myself, went straight to my dad and told him, which as expected my Dad had a fit. And to be honest, I’m glad he did. It helped me get my act together.

During this phase, I received the gift of speaking in tongues and became friends with a boy named Jaden. He was an odd kid too, as he also didn’t fit in with normal boys and we got along. I hung out with his family and slept over a couple times while I was younger. That is until something happen with his Dad and well… They had to essentially go into hiding. It was all legal and everything, and I can’t go into details here. It was just too sad and it tore the family apart.

For the years that followed, I went from crush to crush. One girl named Simber, who was technically my very first crush and had denied me fairly quickly after I wrote her a love letter. Once I was old enough, I moved up to the Poszest Youth Group and had a crush on the youth pastor’s daughter, Cody.

American Girl Dolls

So this might seem a little strange, to have in it’s own section but it would have been hard to mix in with all my other life chaos. So when I was around 12 or so, my sister was given her first American Girl doll for Christmas (or maybe her birthday) one year and my mom collected the book series and so forth. While I could never play with my sister’s doll or own one of my own, I did get away with reading the books for school. I’m honestly surprised my Mom even let me. I started with Molly, Heidi, Felicity, Kit, and Kristen; And as of 2016, I’ve also read Rebecca (Probably my favorite so far) and Caroline. I dreamed of owning my own doll and all the accessories. I even had a catalog request card I had filled out in the name of Jennifer Greene and had the dream of being able to receive those catalogs in my (fake) name.

I was so knowledgeable about American Girl dolls by 14, that one day while visiting a family from Church. I spent over 20 minutes talking with my friend’s sister about our favorite dolls, she collected nearly every doll and was also very knowledgeable.

But again, I end my memoir here and will continue in the next part.

Posted by Joel Greene on

Memoirs of a Pseudo Life | Ages 0-10

So I wanted to start writing a series of memoirs outlining a few details about myself. I’m going to try and keep them short but being a memoir, I make no guarantee but I do promise to try and spare you the lecture. And don’t let the title fool you, my life was real and very much a part of me growing up. I say pseudo because I’ve come to realize in my older age that the world is not what it seems and many of my childhood beliefs were skewed. I’m trying to avoid the word wrong here, as I don’t think everyone is flat out wrong but we should always practice caution and avoid blindly following what we are told. My life is what it is because of my childhood upbringing and likely if I was born someone else, I wouldn’t have my same opinions or beliefs. Possibly even the complete opposite.

By the way, this is probably not a read for everyone. It’s essentially my ongoing memoirs so be ready for some deep and heartfelt details. You’ve been cautioned.

So as many of you might know, I’m not a normal person nor am I married into a normal life. I wear clothes that are normally identified as feminine, my wife is the breadwinner, and I attend a very run after GOD revivalist church. Basically in better words I’m bit more progressive than most people, at least when compared to those who call themselves Christian. Sadly being able to say that is losing meaning. But I was not always this way.

I was born in Florida in 1986. My parents were your fairly normally 80’s newlyweds with dreams and aspirations like any other young couple in their generation. When I was 4 years old, my Dad moved the family to the south Chicago suburbs to find a better paying job. He worked construction and such wages were fairly poor in Florida. So he learned to drive a semi and has been doing so ever since. So let’s start out with my younger years.

I was very close with my cousins at the time, as my mother’s family lived in the area. I can remember frequent trips to the small subdivision that they all occupied. Seriously, the subdivision was nothing but Witvoets. I was the oldest boy of the cousins, with my cousins Heidi and Holly (and technically Charity) being older than me. I was the only boy until I was about 6, when other boys were born into the extended family. First being my cousin Frankie, then my brother, and then my other cousin Andy. Many other boys were born through my teen years but that’s beside the point. For many years my only real friends were girls but that’s not to say I had no other boys in my life. I had both my neighbor friend Joe and a kid of a distant cousin, Tyler. I also from time to time played with other boys from church. So yes, I had many opportunities with play with other boys my age.

But the strange truth is, I found it incredibly difficult to relate with them. They always wanted to be rough and dirty, while I wanted to play things like house, build sandcastles, or play with pipes and water. I don’t look forward to playing with the boys in my life but I would to keep myself occupied. Instead I would look forward to playing with my cousins, who were gentle and loved playing house. Frequently Heidi and I would be the parents, while anyone left would be the kids. Obviously I was made the husband and it was my least favorite role. Each time my job was to pretend to “go to work” for several minutes and then pretend to come home, only to sit down and be pestered by my fake kids and wife. I remember once or twice finally getting to play the wife, but no one took my role seriously. Also at home, while my parents were okay with me playing with dolls and pretend house with girls, I was never allowed to do so alone, at least I should say it was met with disapproval. Not to say I wanted to play with dolls or other girl toys, like the easy bake ovens or Playskool kitchens, they were just more up my ally.

On a quick note, my sister was born when I was about 4. Around this time she was just getting into the older girls toys and I would play with her as an excuse to play with her toys. She also had a very close friendship with another girl at a young age and this sort of made me jealous. But I digress.

Now I’m about to share a very personal detail and please know, that it’s a very hard detail for me to share. Because of the way I was treated and because I was not allowed to be who I wanted to be at a young age, a door had been opened to the devil and he began to try and convince me that I was a mistake and that I was suppose to have been born a Girl. This lie festered and grew, I had dreams of being a girl for years and the first time I felt comfortable enough, I shared this with my cousins privately. I had a hard time getting it off my tongue but when it finally slipped, I felt better like I huge weight had been lifted, that is until my cousins all out rejected me. They told me I was wrong and I should ignore that opinion. While they might not had used those exact words, that was essentially how I felt afterwards.

That moment was the first scar I had, it hurt deep and I never spoke of it again. After that moment, I buried my fantasies but would continue to dream of the what-ifs. During this time, I had made friends with an mother and older daughter who lived a couple houses down. This was mostly due to the fact that I would try to avoid kids my age and keep to having relationships with adults, it was better that way. I shoveled her walkways and watched her two dogs a few times.

One activity I enjoyed was garbage picking, I know a strange hobby and probably not very sanitary but in my neighborhood, nearly every week something good was in the trash. And one week, I found a bag of old clothes belonging to the daughter of the neighbor and out of curiosity I wore them. FYI, it was only things like socks, shirts, and leggings, so no underwear or bras, in case you were curious. There wasn’t anything colorful or cute but nonetheless it was teen clothes and they fit me. I never wore them for more than 10 to 30 minutes at a time but I would get such a kick out of them. It felt so forbidden.

One day, I don’t remember why, my family had several other families or friends over. One thing we kids enjoyed was putting on plays, you know kid stuff. On this day, we rehearsed a fairly complex play and passed out fake tickets for the show to the parents. I for the most part ran the lights, props, and was the narrator. Well except one part, I decided to play an extra, a female extra, just standing in the background of one scene. I wore both the shirt and black leggings I had found and a couple apples for boobs. My scene came and all went as planned; I slipped off stage and after few more minutes, our play was over and the parents were showing their appreciation. Having time to spare we all decided to try and make up bloopers, those were all the rage back then. We got though a few different made-up bloopers and the parents once again loved them. So I wanting some attention, decided to have a blooper of my own and I reestablished my scene, except this time, I made focus of looking bored and taking one of the apples from my shirt and taking a bite from it. The room went quiet, not a single cheer or clap. Once I left the stage, the parents gave one last cheer and returned to their gathering. While all the kids had tons of fun, I on the other hand as deeply sadden. Once again, I had felt denied as a person. I was about 9 at this time and that last hurt caused me to deny my feeling and conceal myself for years to come. You know, a bit of an Elsa story. Shortly before this time, my Mom rekindled a friendship from High school, we called her Aunt Susan, thou she was not really an aunt. She had a daughter named Stephanie and she was roughly my age, so naturally we became the best of friends. Nothing like any other friendship I had before.

So anyways, that concludes my memoirs for now. Stay tuned for the next part.

Posted by Joel Greene on

Bluehost Review and Full Backup Workaround

I’ve been doing web development for quite sometime now and over the course of all those years, I’ve tried close to a dozen different hosting providers. Rarely did I host with multiple hosting accounts when most hosters offer very reasonably priced resellers accounts. Today I’ve settled with my own dedicated server with 6 or so virtualization containers with cPanel installed on one. While I’m not exactly a fan of using cPanel for everything, I will admit it has it’s advantages. But I digress.

During my adventures of switching from hoster to hoster. I may have had Bluehost once and from what I do remember it’s was one of worst hosters I ever tried. While it’s common for hosters to customize their cPanel dashboards, Bluehost does it the worst by making the menus harder to navigate and replacing basic cPanel features with even dumber (or broken) features. One such feature is their so called Site Backup Pro service. Personally much like the “Hey, we advertise hosting at a $1 per month, it’s $14.99 if you pay month-to-month”, this is just another excuse to milk the customer for more money.

So you can imagine my feelings when my wife and I took over ownership of Holy Worlds a few months ago and learned that they were using Bluehost as a hoster. My first response was that we will be switching hosting to our company dedicated server ASAP. Fortunately (or unfortunately) I learn the current IT volunteers wanted off Bluehost too as apparently the poorly designed website was eating resources and getting blocked frequently. Over the last few months, we drafted the agreements and took over. Plus I started development on a new website that we plan to roll out hopefully by the end of the year.

So fast forward to the beginning of this month when after I returned to my computer from watching a movie and learned that the Holy Worlds hosting was suspended. Without getting into too much detail, the hosting renewal notices got overlooked. I immediately decided that instead of renewing the hosting for a premium I would switch to my dedicated server ASAP but I had one problem, I could not download our website data without renewing and their dumb renewal form would not let me do less than three months. So I contacted chat support and as I learned, you “phone call” Bluehost support because they have one of the worst incompetent support teams over chat that you could ever ask for. In the end, I ended up having no choice but to renew and fortunately (or unfortunately) they let me renew for one month at a steep premium. Once Holy Worlds was back online and I started the file transfer, that is when I learned that Bluehost’s Site Backup Pro service were broken as could ever be. — It’s one of those features that cPanel has but they insist on using their own. — I couldn’t get the backup to cooperate and when I was a few GBs into a download, it would randomly abort claiming there was network failure. And to make matters worst someone online said that once backups get over a gig or so, the archive typically becomes corrupt and apparently this has been an issue for some time now. So about ready to do a manual file by file transfer over sftp, it came to me. “Just because the cPanel dashboard is forcing me to use Site Backup Pro (and the cPanel basic backup feature was no where to be found), doesn’t mean that the basic cPanel feature was completely removed. So I came up with this nifty workaround to their broken backups. One a side note, you will need shell access to make this work.

Bluehost Backup

So first I navigated to the backup feature on my cPanel server and found the URL to be end in “/frontend/paper_lantern/backup/wizard-backup.html”. So starting with a similar Bluehost URL, O replaced the part starting at “frontend” onward. — Keep in mind that the begin part of your URL vary because the hostname is the physical cPanel “box” you’re hosted on and the second part will be your cPanel session ID, like so: https://[server].bluehost.com:2083/cpsess[id]/frontend/bluehost/backup/wizard-fullbackup.html. And would you know it, I was greeted by a similar backup page that is no longer accessible by their dashboard.

SSH Transfer

The presented form is more or less the same as the one on my server. I selected full backup to my home directory and sure enough after maybe 15 to 30 minutes (19GB backup, no idea why!) the full cPanel backup was placed in my home directory. (FYI, the e-mail notifications for the full backups seem broken. So just keep an eye on the page for it to finish, as you won’t receive an e-mail.) Finally, I ssh’d into my shared hosting shell (instructions can be found in Bluehost’s KB) and moved the backup file to my “public_html” directory so I could transfer the file over HTTP instead of using FTP or SFTP. Then I initiated a transfer using wget and after a couple hours the file has been successfully downloaded. — Again, it was 19GBs of data — In the end, no network failure and the archive is complete. I restored the data on my dedicated server and archived the tar in my personal storage, so I could safely discontinue service with Bleuhost.

I hope this little workaround helps those who are frustrated with the service they are getting from Bluehost. I’m just glad to be done with them, I will never use their hosting again! Oh, by the way. Once I migrated the site to my dedicated server, our visitors noticed an easy 300% speed improvement over Bluehost. Plus Bluehost has this problem with blacklisting several of the IP addresses used by Cloudflare, which is stupid for two reasons; First they claim to be partnered with Cloudflare and second, the Cloudflare IPs are made publicly transparent for white-listing. So we had visitors being blocked at random because Cloudflare proxied them over one or more of the blacklisted IPs. For shame Bluehost!

Posted by Joel Greene on

Code Girl

So I finished watching a “movie” that was exclusively available to watch on YouTube thru today, it was titled Code Girl. I do find it a bit strange that they decided to call it a “movie” but in all reality it’s just a glorified documentary. The code girl website says this:

Join high school-aged girls from around the world as they try to better their community through technology and collaboration in this thrilling, heartfelt documentary.

By 2017, the app market will be valued at $77 Billion. Over 80% of these developers are male. The Technovation Challenge aims to change that by empowering girls worldwide to develop apps for an international competition. From rural Moldova to urban Brazil to suburban Massachusetts, CODEGIRL follows teams who dream of holding their own in the world’s fastest-growing industry. The winning team gets $10K to complete and release their app, but every girl discovers something valuable along the way.

So before I begin I want to make it clear that I do support this idea, per say. I believe we need to be encouraging our young women that they too can achieve just as high goals that men can. BUT! I have a problem with it when we start singling out men as being big bad bullies. Most of us can’t help it if our gender dominates in those markets, so give most of us some credit. I know so many people will disagree with this statement but I also don’t believe the wage gag that so many argue exists is as nationally, if not globally, spread as people think. I will surely admit it might exist in some isolated levels of corporations and usually this is due do someones sexist opinions, which is for another topic. But consider this, you go work at McDonalds, do they pay women less? NO. Go work at Best Buy, do they pay women less? NO. You check and a huge percentage of businesses will pay, this is LAW mind you, the same to men and women. I understand that most people argue that the wage gag is caused by men getting promotions over women but again, this is localized in particular businesses and usually influenced by sexist views, something that more government regulation and complaining about will not fix. But I digress, back on subject.

So I wanted to discuss a few things in regards to this “movie”. For starters, as I pointed out in one of my last posts I’m a programmer, I have been for a while. I do know a few things about Mobile Apps since I’ve tried my hand at Android, so let’s begin.

I wanted to start by talking about what at best I could see each team used for app development. Majority of them appeared to use one of many popular online app development IDEs, so I have beef with this. True Android development is using the Android SDK and using a common Java IDE like Eclipse or Netbeans. Most of these online development platforms have lacking features and I guarantee will NOT be around forever. I tried this one online platform that cost over $50 per month and it did the basics. Android development is suppose to be free, I mean the only mandatory fee is applying for the Android Play Store which is a one-time fee of $25.00. One team had developed their app for iPhone only and made direct reference to XCode, the official IDE for iPhone development. I’ve never developed for iPhone but I probably liked their attitudes the most. I do think they should have strictly set a standard to enter this contest, like Android only and maybe define a development platform. One reason I say this is because you can’t rely on one method of development forever, you should try and work with the popular free IDEs like Eclipse. Eclipse is used for many different languages and platforms not just Android.

I will say I was disappointed in the editing for this “movie”, early on it was so hard to keep track of who was working on what. I wish they put a nice summary under each teams scene just to maybe help, that’s one reason I’m only going to talk about a couple teams as I can’t actually remember what they all worked on.

One of the teams from the USA had this idea for a drunk driving prevention app, I thought the idea was great and was no worst then some of those texting while driving apps.

A small beef I had with the teams was the attitude some of them had. I remember a couple teams in the beginning acting like they could not do this unless they got selected. So I say this “You do not need this contest to prove your value.” I mean the whole point of this contest was to empower girls to start writing code, so why do they whine like they can’t do this now. You have an idea, go code it, make it happen. It’s not that hard. You don’t need some huge prize money to flesh it out.

I don’t really want to say it but what was the deal with the one Judge, apparently she gave the team with the iPhone app a low rating because she could not run the app on her Android. Yeah I obviously see the problem but seriously, why did the contest not better equipt the Judges with the ability to test the apps and what about the Judges with iPhones? Did they even get to try the Android apps? I understand why the contest wanted to have an all female set of Judges but I kind of think you need to have Judges that understand code and development. No one is better at judging if an app is well made than someone who has actually coded.

So lastly, I wanted to talk about who actually won. If you don’t want spoilers please stop reading.

 

So the winners were the team from Nigeria and I for one was actually quite disappointed in hearing this. I understand that several factors for winning included actually solving a problem which I felt the finalist all got very close to doing but I don’t feel Nigeria did the best at this. If I remember correctly, their app was basically a glorified trash pickup service. As advertised by their pitch video they would direct customers thru the app to local services to collect the trash. The app was one of the most expensive at $2 and they collected a commission from the trash services, in many ways great but in others, why? They said their country had a problem with trash and people would just throw it all around on the ground and never do what’s right, in my opinion this is an issue with the people not the services. By directing your users to local services your only accessing what is already available. At the end of the movie they said that shortly after them winning their government’s party changed, and this new party proposed a home-to-home trash collection program, these teens were hoping to pitch their app for use within this program. So here comes another beef I have, honestly I think some of the other teams could have done more with $10,000 than the girls from Nigeria. In some ways I wish one requirement was to show how you plan to use your winnings. Anyways, considering that the goal was to solve a problem, I sadly think their were better ideas.

I do want to ask, did anyone else feel like the pitch by the Nigeria team felt… like a dictator march? I mean really, it just felt wrong even when trying to put aside their accent.

 

Anyways, that was my quick thoughts on Code Girl. Again, take it or leave it. I don’t think we need a girls only contest to get girls to code. In a few different scenes they talked about how some adults of the teams were negative about girls not becoming house wives. I get it but please don’t drag these things out. I guess you could say that these types of things can offend me from time to time, honestly, girls should be allowed to do what they want but we need to also encourage men to expand their horizons too. And don’t argue that we have so many flamboyant men already. I more like to think that guys become flamboyant when society limits what they can do in life. When we tell guys you can’t do something unless your gay just fuels their confusion and makes them sometimes wonder, maybe I’m actually gay. But again, I digress. I’ll save that argument for another post. *sigh*

Posted by Joel Greene on

Developer Introduction

So to the many *cough* readers I have, I’m sure very few would know that I’m also a developer, sure people like me may call themselves a developer because they have knowledge of HTML and CSS, why wouldn’t they? Running a blog or any website does require at least some knowledge of the subject. I am however a bit more than that but also nothing more than that. I’ve never worked at a fortune 500 company. I’ve simply have been writing code for many years starting from the age of probably around nine. This “adventure” has taught me many things about programming and by no means would I consider myself to be a master programmer like some. Seriously, I’ve seen some source code that has put me in disbelief that someone was able to wrap their heads around it. Either way, I considered that I should make a blog post about my experiences with programming, a developer introduction as I titled it.

I would suggest, if you’re not interested in programming nor in my experiences, you can very easily skip this long read, as I’m mostly putting it up as a sorts of biography.

Anyways. I can remember back to when I first tried typing my very first line of code and… well… let’s say it was not “code” by any means. I seriously had opened up a text file for an old game on Windows 3.1 and thought that changing the contents of the file would “mod” the game. Keep in mind, that I had no idea what modding was at the time and to be honest, I’m not even sure if the word was coined yet. Obviously, it was a total failure as I’m not even sure what that file was but hey you could call it a nine year old kids first attempt at any type of programming.

This all eventually lead to me writing simple batch (bat) and qbasic (bas) scripts. My ultimate favorite qbasic script I wrote was one that could change the command prompt color, I used it several times on my batch scripts. I will admit that I was bit immature and probably nagged this one guy that was a few years older than me probably way to much, but at the time my parents only had dial-up so utilizing particular websites to research answers would have probably been quite painful. I never wrote any super amazing scripts but I did have fun and it taught me the basics of programming.

A couple years later, I had discovered Visual Basic 6.0 by accident. I also discovered a website by the name of PlanetSourceCode and did I ever download every single example project that I ever could get my hands on. I did around this time meet a local business owner that was interested in having me design and program an order management program. It was a bummer as not even a month later a previous programmer he knew called me and wanted to meet because I guess the owner wanted us to work together on the project. Things did not work out well as he was a VB.NET programmer (The next incarnation of Visual Basic 6.0 that I never got into) and there was no way we could program on the same project for more complex reasons and because he basically talked the owner into using him, so I ended up walking away from the project.

So up til maybe sixteen or seventeen, I had almost learned everything I could about VB.  It was around this time that I also discovered Linux, I was largely using Windows much before this point and it was starting to bother me with all the issues and bugs that existed with Windows. Regarding my OS of choice, I flip-flopped OS’s for a few years until finally I saw that the Ubuntu Linux Disto was far enough along that I could make it my permanent OS, with the exception of a lack of Wi-Fi drivers at the time. I would say this is why Linux became my OS of choice on my Desktop and Windows somewhat still remained my OS of choice for my laptops. I’ve been running Linux since then and have had no regrets. Gaming was probably my only thing I missed for a short while but I easily replaced that with console games. Recently with studios like Value having started porting their games to Linux, so I’m really starting to enjoy the hugely improved gaming experience on Linux. Anyways, back to the point. Around sixteen is around when my family first got DSL installed. Rather quickly I learned the very basics of HTML and CSS. Took me a bit of time to wrap my head around the XML styled code in HTML but I quickly wanted more and that’s when I finally heard of PHP!

PHP was were I truly started my journey as a major developer, early on I was not a super great PHP developer, like probably many first timers, as I constantly looked up the API and examples. But little did I know that PHP was teaching me what a more truer programming language looked like. This being because PHP is loosely based on the Perl language. So this is probably where my true journey as a developer begins. I remember downloading a user login example for PHP that I augmented and used for many years following. This eventually lead to me developing my very own PHP framework called Chiori Framework, I decided to develop my own framework after my search for an existing PHP framework did not satisfy my needs. Many other frameworks I had found offering more features than I ever needed and/or were a bit too complex for my understanding. The login example I talked about easier became the general basis to my frameworks login backed by a single MySQL table. Over a few years I added additional features like modules (similar to plugins) and themes, this was probably one of the best features as you only needed to make one theme file and the framework did the rest. If your interested you can checkout my old framework here: https://github.com/ChioriGreene/Chiori-Framework

Also it was around this time I met a distant friend of mine today. His name was Jeremiah and he had landed an opportunity to develop a small social media platform and store for girls of the tween age. He was mostly interested in this gig for one of the women running the website was on the board of Yahoo at the time, he felt that if he could get into the crowd, he might pickup other huge opportunities. I found his post on Craigslist seeking help from another web developer and I contacted him. I did not do very much for him but I fixed several of the code bugs he was incapable of fixing himself. Well, I don’t want to go into details but thinks did not end super well. The lack of coming through on promises by the company and accusations by them that he was not filling his end of the deal lead to a lawsuit. I don’t want to say Jeremiah was a cheater but when he finally got a court ordered payout for the work, the legal fees ate a huge chunk of the cash and he told me he did not get very much to cover even his own work. He promised that as soon as he could he would send me the full amount for the work I did, which at the time totaled $700. Honestly, I felt like I did very little and I did not need the money as I was working for AT&T at the time, so I told him to keep the money.

It was as of maybe… four or five years ago, that I had someone approach me and propose a technology based marketing service idea. Initially the service was going to feature text marketing and then expand to many other avenue that I don’t wish to get into right now. Not even a few months later, I developed a website for us and established a website with a decently built text marketing platform. I launched the text marketing portion of the service in a dozen or so stores on the north side of Chicago. Within a couple months following we learned of a new trend to offer a universal rewards via a table mounted at the counter. After asking a long time family friend who was a mobile application developer, he offered to write and test an application to our needs. I did try my best to indicate that I was hoping he could consider doing it for some sort of special pricing being that we had a long time family friendship, I was totally understanding if he couldn’t but it was mostly because I knew we could not afford to spend a whole lot of money being we just started the company that year. About a couple weeks later after mailing him a tablet for pre-screening and signing a non-disclosure agreement he finally gave me a price and let’s say I was not happy to receive an outright price of around $10,000 and that was just for a basic no special design rewards app. I mean it was not even going to run on mobile devices, only a select few android tablets we bought online. Not to complain but when I asked if any cheaper option existed he offered a pay per location per month option which equated to about 70% of our monthly service fee, which using our business plan would mean he would make well over $60,000 in just two years. Anyways, this was not good news and in one evening I sat down and started reading every piece of documentation I could on Android development since we were targeting Android tablets. The next morning I was knee deep in Eclipse (A programming IDE) and writing some basic Java/Android code. The week later I had an app ready for release.

The months following, I continued to push out app patches here and there to fix small bugs and had plans for a major app redesign that never saw the light of day because sadly, I have to say that because of several changing business models we shutdown the business just a couple years ago. Our largest customer at the time was Dunkin Donuts and their announcement to start offering their own rewards program was probably what finally did it. Around this time, I was also alpha testing a streaming TV program, it was also developed on Android but never fully took off as the upload requirements to maintain a HD stream were never met and the stream would cut out frequently. I have plans to maybe try either our Text Marketing, Rewards or Streaming TV services once again one day but time will tell. The rewards program was good enough, that we had one store that had a tablet present at it’s front counter up until just last month when the tablet finally gave out and stopped booting. If anyone is interested in my Rewards Android App code, here: https://github.com/OpenSpaceDev/AppleBloomLoyalty

In as little as 6 months I learned syntax of Java and probably the basics of it’s API. This is where things start getting a little sticky for more reasons than two. Well first off, I got a random unexpected phone call from Jeremiah, yeah that Jeremiah. I guess he had moved to Colorado and started working as the warehouse manager for an online business. Long story short but he wanted to have me apply to his boss as the new developer for the website. As I understood it, I was probably number 7 to touch the website in a few years and the current one was quitting to start going to school. After getting the job we had plans to revamp the website, which never actually happened but my initial task but developing an rebo-pricer that had two functions. One it would auto price their products on Amazon under their competitor while also taking other figures into consideration and two it would auto price their website prices to be more than the Amazon price, something that is against the Amazon sellers agreement. At the time his entire website and custom CMS (content management system) were written in PHP and I knew with my experience with PHP that it was not going to cut it for several reasons, largely this was because the amount of time each cycle of the script would take to complete. So knowing some about Java at the time, I proposed a Java based program that could continue to run in cycle and have a slight user manageable interface. The owner agreed and I got right to work and within maybe 4 months we had one well developed program. I mean, I was VERY VERY happy with how well it work.

Well again, I don’t want to go into a whole lot of detail but eventually things came to an end. Largely I stopped working for them as the owner wanted the PERFECT website and I told him that we had to start over again to achieve that, well let’s say he was not happy to hear that as I guess he had already rebuilt his website maybe four times already and almost every developer would tell him the same thing, well he had enough and decided he wanted to switch to Magento. Long story short, he hired another four companies to move his website to Magento and fired everyone of them. Last I knew he never transitioned and my friend, Jeremiah, quit because the job was getting to stressful from this guys attitude and demand for performance. I mean the guy was so paranoid that people would cheat him, that I think this is what lead to his website never becoming that PERFECT website. I mean even at one point he accused me of purposely wanting to write the auto-pricer in Java for, AND ONLY SO, he would be stuck continually using me to maintain the code since it’s easier to find a PHP developer over someone who knows Java, I insisted that he was gravely incorrect and he called me a liar, which really is want ended it.

Anyways, trying to get back on subject, during the six months it took to develop his auto-pricer, I fell in love with Java and knew I wanted to started writing web applications in it. But there were a few lacking features of Java that PHP had. More recently I don’t notice these lacking features as much much but they included compiled code that was a bit painful to upload, also there was a lack of simplified syntax, like array(), were probably my most missed. But nevertheless I pushed forward and started learning even more about Java. Now PHP was no perfect web language either, for starters, I had a few issues with PHP required your code would load and unload with each request and getting code to stay loaded was impossible without modding PHP, I also had no control over sessions. Unfortunately Java had not always been a web language and no, Java is not related to Javascript. So I found the ugly truth that Java has only ever been used by… well… Fortune 500 companies to run massive backend applications, the most commonly used pure Java web server was Apache Tomcat but like it’s “Servlet Container” cousins, the server was FAR TOO HEAVY to work with. There were litter version such as Glassfish but still following the same idea and not changing it up. Considering all the reasons I was leaving PHP, I felt like I was just jumping from one boat, right into another as I still had absolutely no control over sessions, in fact my control of sessions was probably even worst. And lastly configuring security features of the server were a pain and when I thought I had it right, it just threw exceptions left and right.

So I finally made a decision to write my very own Web Server!

So finally coming to more recent events, my very first web server commit on GitHub was August 21st 2013 and development has been going decently steady ever since. I just recently hit version 9.3.2, which added a Watchdog subsystem for Linux systems and the ability for the server to auto-reboot when it detects a change in it’s jar file. And boy my code base just recently hit around 66,000 lines of code and around a 26 MB binary.

Honestly my initial work was my most disappointing as I wanted some similar features to PHP and my first priority was building an interpreted language into the server. The first attempt that stuck around for the longest was one know as Quercus, it offered an easy way to run interpreted PHP pseudo code on the server. Early versions of the server served it files up using a wrapped servlet container known as Jetty, which later became Resin. Yeah, unless you don’t know, Jetty is a cousin to Tomcat. Not knowing very much about HTTP protocols in Java, I basically built on top of Jetty. But again I ran into the issues with Sessions and User logins which forced me to find other options. Resin for a while offered more but still was too controlling and that is when I finally found Netty. I looked into Netty after hearing that Minecraft moved to using it for Server and Client TCP communication. In a matter of hours I was able to implementing Netty as a full replacement that immediately offered better and finer control over my connections and sessions. My server had and will most likely continue running Netty as it’s a huge still active community project.

Now turning back to the interpreted code feature, I was having issues with compiled binaries and Quercus properly working. Sadly Quercus had a lot of outdated or lacking documentation and the latest version was already a couple years old. But love came my way when I discovered Groovy! and boy, Groovy is amazing. It’s an extension of Java and incorporates syntax from many other languages. It primarily was used as a compiled language but they recently had interpreted options known as Groovy Shell. Again incorporating this feature took maybe a week but the end result was amazing. I also wrote a custom file parser that would read an HTML and individually run Groovy code blocks thru the Shell. In the end I have a Groovy files known as GSP (Groovy Server Pages, a term borrowed from Grails) that like PHP could be written on the fly but unlike PHP had FULL access to the server API and additional feature that could be added with Plugins, which were inspired by Bukkit’s plugin system. More recently the server also has a full user management and permissions system built-in. Using a GSP script you can request that login is required and check that the user that logged in has say permission “com.example.admin” or “sys.op” which is the built-in permission node for server operators.

For a short time I also gave Ruby on Rails (and Grails a similar project that uses Groovy over Ruby) a try but quickly found the same issues with them as I had with options Tomcat or Jetty, they were far too complicated for hobby developers and much of the security features never gave me much explanation to why something was not working.

So now for my shameless advertisement. Chiori-chan’s Web Server is a project that I’ve working on wholeheartedly for more than three years now, not counting the years it was a a PHP framework and I hope to find developers and beta-testers who can help test and patch my project for bugs and security holes. The project has almost grown to more code than I can control on my own and at the very least, I would like to hear some feedback. I built this project with a focus in incorporating the ease that PHP offers but the maturity of Java. I incorporated several conventions of my own to limit the need of massive configuration out of the box. The project is open-source and released under the Mozilla Public License 2.0.

If anyone if interested in taking a look and discussing my project you can find it on GitHub at https://github.com/ChioriGreene/ChioriWebServer
You can also find tutorial videos for how to use and setup my project at https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL5W-gdSkWP6TOBoL-YDEPZaadwBGXGOyO

Lastly, I do also want to apologize for this freakishly LONG POST!
Your so awesome for sticking with it, you deserve a cookie!

Posted by Joel Greene on

Movie Date Tuesdays – Hitman: Agent 47

agent47Okay, so I get it, Agent 47 is just another poor adaptation of a Video Game to Cinema. But to be honest, I far more enjoyed it then most other adaptations and I think their spin on the whole secret agent program was… better to say the least. Same but better.

Now I want to be clear that I never played the Hitman Video Games, matter of fact I walked into the movie totally forgetting this detail until it popped up on screen. So considering that I have will not be comparing this movie to the game nor will I so much compare how accurate it is, I want to look at story and character.

Starting out we’re introduced to Katia, a young girl who’s searching for a man and she does not know who he is. I feel that the movie pushed her intelligence a bit too much on us, the viewer but it was not overly distracting. However, I did enjoy how they gave her the personality to take things apart when she’s anxious, something that I can kind of relate with. I was however a bit confused in our opening scene showing that she’s searching for this someone, so unless I missed something, I feel like this random room with papers that she was given freedom to search felt odd. I know I’m probably being picky but honestly, I don’t think the scene had enough introduction. It came on screen and instantly I was like “Where are we?”. Later, we also see her walk into some document forgery place, pays a chunk of money to buy a passport or identity as I see it but that’s it. I did not feel like the scene was required to move story and yeah, maybe she needed the document to continue hiding but it just felt a bit out of place when she only did it that once. Again, see my comment on her intelligence.

Watching this movie, I immediately thought of the Bourne Identity series and sadly to quite some extent. For starters both movies have a special agent program that was disbanded who knows how long ago, we have a man — or many men — on the run, and the super smart agent who’s lost their memory, i.e., does not remember who they are. Just in this case, it’s a her. And the evading of security cameras felt just like the similar scenes from the first Bourne Identity movie. Now to my surprise, I was quite entertained by the trickery to legitimately make me believe that the syndicate were the good guys. Personally, most movies can’t pull this off, I can usually tell and most movies should not even try but it truly got me and when Agent 47 revealed the truth I was happy to see it work. In the end we see another shocking truth but I won’t spoil that one for you.

Like most movies of this genre we got a decent spoon full of action, shooting, and EXPLOSIONS!!! The mid-part with the soldiers getting blood splattered all over the place seemed a bit needless and felt fake, I say this meaning the CGI was borderline convincing but what movie has escaped this failure lately.

Besides the story, I was enjoying my time watching the actor for Spock from the recent Star Trek remakes playing John. His character was… okay. It needed work but was better in the beginning. And to add my two cents, I don’t buy the whole titanium sub-dermal body armor, Film Theory did a great video on this, go watch it. I know this might have come from the game but still, total bs. Sadly, out of all the characters, John was probably my least tolerable character.

As for Agent 47’s character, I can’t honestly say much, as he’s… flat! But that’s intentional being he’s programmed for such personality. Honestly, my absolutely favorite scene with him was in the American Embassy when he turned the tables on the interrogation saying “You’re locked in here with me and you brought me my gun.”.

I agree that Katia’s character could have gone much deeper but overall I was content with her playing basically a female version of Bourne. I also felt like the strong women needing rescue trope was not played, that is, if I’m remembering correctly. She never started out as a strong character being fully capable of protecting herself turn victim later, a problem that most movies and TV shows play these days for sake of story. In fact, I think we see the reverse as she’s more vulnerable early on and becomes that strong female role near the end. I know that technically she was protecting herself until John and Agent 47 came into her life but you have to admit that the opening showing that her location was compromised did help convince me that she needed protecting. Yeah, toward the end she took a momentary back seat but quickly she again realized that Agent 47 was only giving her the chance to shine and jumped back into the action.

So does the movie suck? Well, I enjoyed it and I know it’s just another really bad adaptation of a Video Game, but sadly, I would more enjoy seeing this film over Bourne Identity. Sorry, dad, I’m really sorry. Bourne is good but I think it has more flaws than I can handle for most movies. And if they injected the budget and dedication that Bourne received, I think this movie would have been a gem. Saying that, this movie is still without sin but again, I think it did far better at it’s task than most other Video Game adaptations and the action was solid.

But be warned, I am a bit scared to see what this supposed movie adaptation of Five Nights at Freddy’s will turn into. Personally, I’m still standing by my believe that it won’t happen but I’m a bit scared it will be just as bad of when Street Fighter was adapted to movie. Again, sorry, I love FNAF but I don’t see a good movie coming from it.

Posted by Joel Greene on

Movie Date Tuesdays – The Man from U.N.C.L.E.

UNCLE Poster

The Man from U.N.C.L.E.

So what can I say? This movie! This movie! Was really really good. This was a diamond in the rough.

Unfortunately my wife had to work the later half of the day and since we had to skip the last couple Tuesday movie dates, we decided to see a late showing. After a few minutes of indecisiveness we settled on The Man from U.N.C.L.E. I can remember seeing a couple previews for this movie during previous tuesday movie dates and my initial opinion was so-so as I thought it might just being trying cash in on the spy/special agent genre that movies such as Bourne and 007 caught.

This fear was temporarily deepened as I realized the first major action scene of the movie was the highlight of the trailer. Experience has taught me that usually when a trailer has to highlight such a scene that the remaining action is decently dry. To my surprise the complete opposite was true, for once it turned out that there was so much more content then they could fit in a trailer.

In a pretty unique teaming up, we have our KGB spy, an American CIA spy, and a wacky chick with a personality that tops the humor these two bring to the screen. In one scene the movie was having two manly spies in a clothing store arguing over women’s fashion and having a decent knowledge of said subject. I personally found this scene hilarious, I know this might not be true for all but was good. I really don’t want to give too much of this movie away as it was that good.

I was also amused on several occasions when the two spies were competing for whose government had the best tech. In one scene, Solo (CIA) using a signal tracker found a dozen or so bugs planted in his belongings, when he confronted Kuryakin (KGB), he was handed well a dozen or so bugs in returned that he had planted. There was a consistent attempt to be the better agent and I think it added a nice level of humor.

The movie ending was also quite delightful as our agents were able to set aside their differences just long enough to complete the mission. I did not feel like this movie was trying to hard and I felt like the clichés were at a minimum.

So what else can I say, the dialog was clear, the action was believable unlike so many other recent spy flicks, the jokes were steady and I feel they were only delivered when needed. For once I was smiling and giggling the whole way thru and I swear on bob my uncle that this was a good movie. It’s actually kind of sad that so many original movies lately are getting a bad rap, I feel that Tomorrowland was a decent movie but sadly it came out and was never heard from again. A sequel to fast and furious comes out and does well. In a way I kind of feel like this was like a live action spy-vs-spy adaptation and then some. In closing, I would highly recommend this movie to anyone reading this.

Posted by Joel Greene on

Movie Date Tuesdays – Mad Max: Fury Road

So for our most recent $5 Tuesday Movie Date, my wife and I saw Mad Max: Fury Road. Can’t say I have a ton to say about this movie since I’m not very familiar with the Mad Max franchise. To be totally honest, we did not even know about the franchise until after watching the movie. Needless to say that does not mean you need to see any of the previous Mad Max movies and tv shows to see this one. As I understand it they are not confirming if Fury Road is a sequal or prequal to the series and I can see that the fans have very few guesses considering there were very few references to other established storylines, at least nothing that was noticeable to myself.

We saw this movie for two reasons, 1) almost all of my wife’s film friends were recommending it and 2) well… there really was no other movies playing that interested us very much. After seeing the movie, I can totally understand the craze. For myself, I personally enjoyed the chase scenes with their makeshift cars and trucks. Also, I think this movie would be much more tolerable to someone who is sensitive to blood and violence. There is honestly only two — maybe three — scenes with any those elements and they never show the gore directly within camera frame.

Again, I didn’t have a ton to say and that’s probably due to how well the story was written and executed.The conflict made sense, the pursuit was meaningful and the character development never had fallen short. I can only close this post with a recommendation to go see it for yourself.

Sidenote: I now somewhat know what “creature” that guy at Anime Central was cosplaying last year. Still don’t know what they are sadly.

– Joel Greene

Posted by Joel Greene on

Movie Date Tuesdays – Tomorrowland

So my wife and I saw “Tomorrowland” yesterday, wow that’s some sort of oxymoron there, anyways, personally I loved one part earlier on in the movie where they openly mocked the doom and gloom teacher stereotype that most students face these days. It was quite funny when Casey after so long finally got to ask one teacher, “Can we fix it?” and he literally stood there dumb founded until the school bell rung.

Trying not to spoil the movie but banking off the movie plot, people need to stop being so… well, “DOOM AND GLOOM”. How is anyone in the world expected to change it if all we hear is our teachers, news sources, politicians, pastors, and more going on about how it’s just going to get worst and we can’t stop it. And don’t get me started on how the totally unbiblical dooms day theories Christians hold today are ruining Christian’s motivations to “…go [forth] and make disciples of all nations…” — Mathew 28:19.

The movie was not terrible and I would recommend it. I was a sucker for the retro 1964 New York World’s Fair opening, which I did not learn till later was the opening location of the “It’s a Small World” attraction, who knew. In the end the movie did start going in an odd direction and there was still a quite high level of political correctness that sort of ruined it for me. Otherwise, the movie had a decent message and an enjoyable plot… till about the last 15 minutes. Enjoy.