Richard The Reviewer

Richard has started writing movie reviews for Vox, a magazine published by the Columbia Missourian.  You can read his first Vox film review, of the animated feature Escape From Planet Earth, here.

Movie reviews serve an important public purpose.  Movies are increasingly expensive — some theaters here charge $9.50 a ticket, which is real money — and a fair but cautionary review can allow you to avoid wasting your hard-earned cash on abysmal Hollywood dreck.

It’s also important, however, to find a reviewer who tends to look at the film world the same way you do.  Some reviewers like only the artsy, highbrow stuff and sneer at any mainstream fare.  Those folks could be the finest review writers in the world, but their reviews aren’t going to do much for me, because the Hollywood offerings are typically what I like to watch.  I don’t want a reviewer who hates everything that comes out of Tinseltown, I need someone who can differentiate the crappy, uninspired blockbuster from the one that really packs a punch.

Based on Richard’s past reviews published right here on Webner House, I think he gives pretty good guidance on what to watch and what to avoid.

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Sidewalk Chalk

IMG_3134We’ve got little kids in our neighborhood, and every once in a while they do something that reminds me of how much fun it was to be a kid.  I came across this little bit of sidewalk graffiti that combines counting up to 100, using different colors, and the utter joy of using chalk on concrete, and it really brought back memories.  I liked the feel of the gritty chalk bumping along the coarse, uneven surface of the sidewalk as we made a drawing or left a message or created a hopscotch outline, and then clapping my hands and smearing my trousers in a futile attempt to get rid of the chalk dust.

Gambling On Gambling

Ohio regulators recently released a report about revenues earned by Ohio casinos.  Coming less than a month before the fourth and final casino, in Cincinnati, is to open, the report indicates that the casino takes may be slowing.

IMG_2928The question for now is whether the Ohio gaming market is saturated.  Ohio used to have no casinos, but it was surrounded by casinos in Michigan, West Virginia, Pennsylvania, and Indiana.  Now four full-blown Ohio casinos have been added to the mix, as well as “racinos” — horsetracks that have slot machines.  In the Columbus area, Scioto Downs features more than 2,000 machines and is packing in people who just want to play the slots.  Some Columbus gamblers apparently think the slots are “looser” at Scioto Downs than at the Hollywood Casino, and they’d rather play where they have a better chance of getting a jackpot.

Ohio regulators seemingly recognize that the market for gambling isn’t as robust as was forecast when Ohio voters first approved casinos.  The Ohio Department of Taxation originally estimated $1.9 billion in annual tax revenues from the casinos, but this year’s state budget anticipates less than $1 billion in tax revenues from the casinos.  With new casinos coming on line, racinos providing competition, and casinos in surrounding states trying to hold on to their Ohio clientele, who knows whether that number is realistic or just another gamble?

I’ve always questioned the credibility of casino revenue and job forecasts, because I believe there are only a limited number of people who are interested in gambling.  People who don’t want to gamble aren’t going to start just because a casino opens nearby, and people who do like to gamble can only go to so many places on so many occasions.  If the Ohio gambling market isn’t growing, then all of the casinos, racinos and other competitors are just going to be tussling over the size of their pieces of an unchanging pie.