Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Stephen Colbert's interview with former President Jimmy Carter

Last night Stephen Colbert got the opportunity to interview former President Jimmy Carter. He also got the chance to reflect on Carter's presidency, making some fun of him and the conservatives that worship Carter's successor, Saint Ronald Reagan... er Ronald Reagan. Below are all the pieces of the show and the Carter interview. Plus there's Billy Beer! Update. Looks like there may be problems with the embedded video so here's the hyperlink to the complete show. Okay, I just checked other sites that tried to embed Colbert videos from the Comedy Central website. As of this date on March 28, there are problems. So, I'm using the URL for each piece. Sorry. Damn conservatives. :-)

Carter show opening piece

Review of Carter's presidency, Colbert style.

The Colbert interview with former president Jimmy Carter, Part One

The Colbert interview with former president Jimmy Carter, Part Two

Jon Stewart on the news coverage of Malaysian flight 370

It's hard to say anything funny about the tragedy of Malaysian flight 370. So Jon Stewart of The Daily Show looked at the news coverage and his piece is funny. Of course, if you have funny takes on news coverage, you've got to look at Fox News. CNN also gets taken down a notch. Oh, by the way I defended CNN's coverage. Here's the video from The Daily Show.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Bill Maher: Democrats should use Republican tactics for midterm elections

Comedian Bill Maher has some advice for Democrats. They should use Republican language strategies to win over voters. For example, the Republicans don't want to tax the rich so they say something like "it's punishing the job creators." Hey, it sounds better to the uninformed voter. Anyway, here's his funny New Rule courtesy of Meidaite and HBO. Love Maher's rebranding of food stamps.

Rand Paul is no libertarian

Republican presidential hopeful Senator Rand Paul (R-Ky.) is no libertarian. Yes, he takes the classic conservative Republican view on guns. But when it comes to personal liberty, he's a conservative Republican. You see the libertarians represented by the Libertarian Party believe in gay marriage and more importantly, the right of a women to choose, i.e. abortion rights. Rand Paul does not support gay marriage or abortion rights. He's so far right of the political spectrum, that he is against abortion in cases of rape and incest. So don't be fooled. Rand Paul is just another form of conservative Republican.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Star Trek 3 (2016) news from screenwriter J.D. Payne lecture

I watched the new Star Trek 3 (2016) writer J.D. Payne on YouTube last Sunday. He was lecturing at the LDS Film Festival. Here's what I learned and there is news from the lecture.

1. He's a Trekker. Yeah, he dropped the name of of one of the best TNG episodes, "The Best of Both Worlds." But he showed some real enthusiasm for Star Trek. He also talked about Trek fans with bat'leths. In case, you non-Trekkers don't know, it's a Klingon bladed weapon.

2. There was competitive process to find the writers to help Star Trek writer and producer Bob Orci.

3. He recognizes that at time Star Trek raises ethical questions.

4. He likes and knows jazz. Talked about John Coltrane. Okay, now Mr. Payne you're getting on my good side.

5. His Mormon faith may interfere with his writing. He talks about how he had a hard time writing a sexual assault scene because of his faith. So don't expect him to write the film adaptation of The Book of Mormon.

6. He seems to be a devout Mormon. He talks about dealing with gay people in Hollywood. Don't worry, he doesn't say anything bad about gays.

7. Here's the news. Paramount liked the writing team's pitch. First draft of Star Trek 3 comes in May. So that you know where in the tape that comes from. It's at the one hour twenty five minute mark. I'm giving you the time because the tape lecture was removed. However, Trekcore has the first few minutes of it. Video below.

UPDATE: TrekCore has the final few minutes of the lecture with the news that the first draft of Star Trek 3 comes out in May. Check out the video below courtesy of TrekCore.

CNN is doing the right thing in its coverage of Malaysian Airlines 370

CNN has been getting a lot of flak over its extensive coverage of the disappearance of Malaysian Airlines 370. I've read everything from CNN's Don Lemon using a model of the Boeing 777 to others calling CNN's coverage an obsession.

I say the critics are wrong. Look, the loss of flight 370 is and probably will be the most interesting story of the decade. We're talking about the complete disappearance of large commercial jetliner in an age of cell phones, radar and GPS. Two hundred and thirty nine lives are at stake. The passengers are from all over the world. Most of them are Chinese. They come from New Zealand. Malaysia. The United States. Australia. Theories about what happened to the plane abound. Mechanical failure. Hijacking. Terrorist theft. Pilot suicide. Pirates. Maybe the pilots flew the plane to Pakistan and landed there for the plane to be used by the Taliban. There are even crazy theories. UFOs. With a story as fascinating as this, CNN is doing the right thing by covering it extensively. And one last thing about the model plane. It is a model plane not a toy. I remember watching newscasters use model rockets to ips to illustrate parts of the ships during NASA missions. So, lay off CNN.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Paramount treats Trekkers badly

Trekkers unite. You're being treated badly by Paramount. First, they made Star Trek Into Darkness DVD extras retail and internet exclusive, i.e. different stores had different extra features. If you wanted deleted scenes you have to buy the movie through XBOX SmartGlass. This milking of every last cent from the fans stinks. I bought one edition of Star Trek Into Darkness and thanks to, they told me which one had the extras on a Blu-Ray disk. I am not going to buy every version of STID to collect all of the extras. I'm guessing that many Trekkers feel the way I do.

Second, Paramount is dumping two newbie writers, J.D. Payne and Patick McKay, on the next Star Trek film. You got that. It's going to be fiftieth anniversary and Paramount is giving partial control of the Enterprise to two unheard of writers. Now let me clarify that Star Trek and Star Trek Into Darkness writer Bob Orci will also be involved in the next film.

But let's compare our franchise with what's happening with Star Wars VII. They at one time had Oscar winning writer, Michael Arndt. They've replaced him with Lawrence Kasdan. (Raiders of the Lost Ark) Star Wars also has taken our talented director J.J. Abrams. We, Trekkers get two guys that I can't find one produced screenplay. Movie? No. TV? No. Now how important is the screenplay? If the screenplay is bad, the movie will likely be bad. I'll accept the fact that there's no script hence no director. But I suggest that Paramount not go cheap here. To keep their credibility, Paramount should be bold with the director. Name talent for director.

"Come, come, Mr. Scott. Young minds, fresh ideas. Be tolerant." Captain Kirk in Star Trek 3: The Search for Spock.

Okay. I'll try to be open minded. But this is the fiftieth anniversary of Star Trek. To allay our fears, I suggest Paramount march out the writers to demonstrate their Star Trek credentials. Let these guys talk Star Trek for about two hours.

Why the annexation of Crimea by Russia violates international law

Back in 1994, after the breakup of the Soviet Union, Ukraine became the third largest nuclear power. That was due to the fact that the Soviet Union stationed nukes there. To disarm the country, Ukraine, Great Britain, Russia and the United States entered into an agreement called "The Budapest Memorandum." The deal worked this way. Ukraine would give up its nukes to Russia in exchange that its existing borders would be respected by Russia. That includes the Crimea Peninsula.

So today's Crimean referendum and the all but certain annexation by Russia violates international law. One could argue that the law was broken when Russian troops invaded Crimea weeks ago. By the way, the whole referendum was a sham anyway. The current Crimean legislature was put in place to put this referendum up. You see the old one was dismissed. (BBC Report) Plus, an elector could not vote no to joining Russia and stay in the Ukraine.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

The Daily Show covers Republican hypocrisy on women's healthcare

Okay, let me get this straight. Republicans don't want to cover women's contraceptives under Obamacare. But they do allow a particular sex aid that can be used only by men to be covered? Sounds like great comic fodder for Samantha Bee of The Daily Show. by the way, said device was used to great comic effect by Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery. (1997)

Jon Stewart goes after Congressional hypocrisy over CIA spying

The CIA accesses Congress' computers and now they're mad. Well, Jon Stewart of The Daily Show points out that Congress was okay with government spying on Americans until they got spied upon. Good stuff from Jon. I've also included his piece where he discovers the show's been compromised by the CIA.

Bill Maher goes after God

I never agreed with Bill Maher on everything. Can't figure out why conservatives want to attach Bill Maher to us liberals. Yesterday, Bill Maher went after God, and all the major religions. He called God, a mass murderer because of the Noah's Ark fable. Look, I don't take the Bible literally, Bill. Don't include me with all of the stupid Americans. I felt guilty about laughing at some of his jokes. Forgive me God. Here's his piece, courtesy of HBO and Mediaite.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Stephen Colbert takes on Russian propaganda and Russia Today

Here's Stephen Colbert's hilarious video piece on Russian propaganda and its English "news" service called Russia Today. Also featured is journalist Liz Wahl who quit Russia Today because she believes it's a propaganda apparatus.

The Colbert Report
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The Colbert Report
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Stephen Colbert takes on the outrage over President Obama's appearance on "Between Two Ferns"

By now you've heard about President Obama's riotous appearance on Zach Galifianakis's web show "Between Two Ferns." Well the folks at Fox News went nuts. I think they're just jealous. Here's Stephen Colbert torching the conservatives at Fox. Funny stuff.

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Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Crimean referendum on joining Russia is a sham

There's no doubt that Sunday's vote on whether Crimea will join Russia is bogus. Why? There's no choice for a person to say they want Crimea to stay with Ukraine. That's right. There are only two questions. One. Join Russia. Two. Become an independent country. As with number two, guess who's going to have a major influence on and dominate Crimea? Here's the story from the Huffington Post.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Stephen Colbert takes on a Kentucky Baptist church with a 25 gun giveaway

Only in America, er... make that only in the conservative South can something like this happen. A Kentucky Baptist church is going to giveaway guns to tet men to attend. Great comic ammunition for Stephen Colbert and his regular feature "The Word." Check out his hilarious piece.

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Jon Stewart on CPAC

You knew Jon Stewart of The Daily Show was going to do a piece on the conservatives at CPAC (Conservative Political Action Conference). Come on, those guys are great comic fodder. Very funny stuff. Check it out.

Chris Matthews blasts conservative warmongering

Chris Matthews of Hardball is right. He takes on the conservatives of the Republican Party who want military action over Russian President Putin's invasion of Crimea. It's epitomized by Sarah Palin saying at CPAC, "Mr. President, the only thing that stops a bad guy with a nuke, is a good guy with a nuke." Conservatives applaud wildly. Then there is former Vice President Dick Cheney. Yeah, like we should take advice from this guy who got us in that mess in Iraq. And he forgets how the Bush-Cheney administration did nothing when Russia invaded parts of Georgia. So Matthews calls them the "clown car." Say it brother.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Star Wars fans groove to "Happy"

Who says Tatoonie is a boring desert planet. Here is SW Fans Tunisia dancing to Pharrell Williams "Happy."

Saturday Night Live Open: Liam Neeson helps Obama with Putin

Here's Saturday Night Live's Open guest starring Liam Neeson. He does his "Taken" character in helping President Obama with Russian president Putin. Funny stuff.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Triangle UFOs visit earth

For the last twenty five years, we've been visited by triangle shaped UFOs. The best UFO cases I think were the Belgian UFO sightings. (1989-1990) There were radar hits, thousands of eyewitnesses and the Belgium government scrambled two jets to give chase. Here's a Huffington Post story on triangle shaped UFOs with a video of one over Paris. I believe the French video embedded in the story is a hoax. It's too clear or what I call "too good to be true."

Jon Stewart on Putin's move into Ukraine and the American conservatives that love him

Very funny stuff from The Daily Show with Jon Stewart. He covers the Ukrainian crisis caused by Russia's President Putin. He then destroys the American conservatives that love Putin! Enjoy the videos.

Stephen Colbert on conservative reaction to Obama's Ukraine policies

The crisis in the Ukraine has brought back the Cold War. Thank goodness for Stephen Colbert as he sarcastically rips conservatives on their comments calling President Obama weak.

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The birth of the Tatar Freedom Fighters?

Stalin evicted the Tatar people from their Crimean home before. Now it looks like the Russians with their planned annexation of Russia will discriminate against the Tatars again. Who are they? And if Russia takes over Crimea, what will the Tatars do? I predict you will in the future, here this term , "Tatar Freedom Fighters." Yes, that's the estimation from this blogger. Putin, you don't know what you're getting into. I suggest you get out of Crimea. You can save face by letting international monitors in to see if there really is a danger to Russian speaking people. Here's Chris Hays with his piece from All In on the Tatars.

Who's really behind the Crimean referendum?

The news has reported that the Crimean legislature is going to vote on joining Russia. But who's behind it? Pro-Russian Crimeans? The answer is that it's all a sham. Here's a report from Chris Hayes from his show All In. You see the old legislature was dismissed. The new legislature is formed from Russian puppets.

Saturday, March 8, 2014

300: Rise of an Empire 3D review

300: Rise of an Empire is the sequel to the successful cinematic adaptation of Frank Miller's graphic novel 300 (2006). That movie was based on the last stand of Spartan king, Leonidas as he led 300 warriors against the Persians at Thermopylae. Rise of an Empire was written by Zac Snyder, director of the 2006 movie and Kurt Johnstad. It was also produce by Snyder. The result being that director Noam Murro follows the blueprint of its predecessor. Lots of CGI blood, hacking and slashing. Thankfully, Rise of an Empire is not as racist as 300.

300: Rise of an Empire takes place at roughly at the same time as 300. King Xerxes of Persia has defeated Leonidas and is marching on the city state of Athens. Themistocles (Sullivan Stapleton) is a Greek general who leads a small fleet against a mighty Persian armada. Artemisia (Eva Green) is a young Greek woman who falls in love with a WASP man. Um... sorry that's the plot to My Big Fat Greek Wedding. (2002) Artemisia is Greek but she decides to help the Persians after her family was killed by Greek soldiers when she was a child. She leads the Persian fleet.

The style of 300: Rise of an Empire is very much like the 2006 movie. Scenes look like they belong in a graphic novel. There's quite a bit of slow motion and stop motion scenes. It's quite effective in depicting complex battles. The problem is all the gore. Yeah, I know this is war and it's not pretty. But Rise of an Empire revels in the gore and especially the splash of blood, CGI style. Dismemberment. Decapitation. Splitting skulls. All of this drains the film of dramatic drive. Composer Junkie XL shows his rock and roll roots. The soundtrack is pretty much all rhythm and bass. Forget melody. The result is musical wallpaper with no sense of heroism.

The film's screenplay also does a poor job of explaining the importance of Leonidas' heroic stand, the importance of the naval battle at Salamis. While, I like the extensive exposition, the movie seems to be more interested in Artemisia's crazy and unhinged character than creating the tension needed to give the audience concern over a Greek defeat at sea. And yes, this is not history. The details of the Battle of Salamis maybe lost in time. There really was a Greek woman named Artemisia who commanded some Persians ships. But I'm pretty sure she did not have grudge sex with Themistocles. What will Hollywood do next to history? Make Abraham Lincoln a vampire killer? Ok, forget that. One more thing about the screenplay. The movie ends abruptly, so be prepared for screeching halt.

Rise of an Empire actually works best with the dialogue. There are some ridiculous lines. Artemisia yells something like "I didn't come here as a witness" before she takes her swords and charges. I was more taken by Themistocles' doubt, guilt and worry. Kudos to Sullivan Stapleton for expressing those emotions. Eva Green is sexy, wicked and well, somewhat insane. She chews up the scenery. One note to Ms. Green. Don't do another role like this again, You may end up being typecast.

Skip the 3D version of Rise of an Empire if you see it. This movie was a conversion to 3D from 2D. The best parts display background and foreground. But there's no depth to the actors, or objects. That's because it was not shot with the two lens 3D camera rig which would catch almost everything in the shot. I forgot I was watching this movie in 3D.

300: Rise of an Empire is passable cinema. It might be better reading a book on the second invasion of Greece by Persia. The grade is B Minus.

Stephen Colbert rips Fox News' Bill O' Reilly's fear of a woman president

Fox News' Bill O' Reilly has recently expressed his concern over a woman president. Great comic fodder for satirist Stephen Colbert. Here's his funny piece.

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Ann Coulter worries about the "browning of America"

I've said that some conservatives are racist. Well, conservative darling, author Ann Coulter at CPAC said this. She said that MSNBC celebrated the "browning of America" relating to illegal immigration. Then she sarcastically added "But if you don't celebrate it, you're a racist." Another piece of evidence that some conservatives are racist. Coulter's remarks are reported from the Huffington Post. Folks, she said that at CPAC (Conservative Political Action Conference), the annual meeting of conservatives.

Monday, March 3, 2014

The best of the Oscars show

It's time for the awards and commentary for the Academy Awards show.

1. You knew she was not going to wear a dress... Ellen DeGeneres. Oh, the Wizard of Oz Fairy Princess thing doesn't count.

2. Surprise, she was kind of funny... Ellen fired some pointed sarcastic barbs at Hollywood in the monologue. She made a joke about how trivial that the Academy Awards could be compared to real life.

3. Best Acceptance Speech... The first one. Jared Leto told a story about a teenager woman who raised a kid against obstacles That woman was Leto's mother.

4. Good first song.. Pharell Willaims performs his song "Happy" which was really hip and cool. But songs are usually a disaster for the show because the ballads will bring down the whole show. I'm a little bit leery at this point.

5. Good idea for somebody to make money and help art. Put all the animated short films on a DVD and sell it. I have not seen any of these gems.

6. Best evil Mr. Spock goatee. Presenter Harrison Ford.

7. The "I got screwed" Martin Scorsese Award... The visual effects team for Star Trek Into Darkness. Look the guys had to create twenty third century Earth and Klingon home world. Add to that they had to create the interiors of the Enterprise and Vengeance.

8. I told you songs kill the flow of the show... Okay, just saw the ballad nominated for "Her." Pretty but as I have said many times, performing the best songs slows down the momentum of the show. And now U2 is now really killing the show. Oh no. It's Pink singing "Over the Rainbow." This thing might go on for hours. Oh, oh. Bette Midler after the memorial portion of the show is singing that ballad, "Wind Beneath My Wings." Kill me now. Song from "Frozen" is here. Help.... Get on with the awards, folks.

9. You also knew she could be bland.... Unlike the dangerous comedy of Seth MacFarlane, last year's host, Ellen started out great but got duller as the show went on. The joke about ordering pizza was not funny and kind of like David Letterman. And enough with the selfie jokes.

10. Good idea for somebody to make money and help art. Put all the nominees for short live action film on two DVDs. I'm guessing none of you have seen them. I haven't. Let's include the films for Documentary Short Subject.

11. Best bumper music. The song "Pure Imagination" from Wily Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. (1971) See clip from the movie below.

12. A museum I want to visit... The Academy's museum dedicated to film and set to open in 2017.

13. Best TV ad. First, let me say I hate the numerous commercials. These are the great killers of the momentum of the show. Then comes the songs. But the Pepsi mini can ad with all the movie lines was very entertaining. Here's the ad from AdAge.

14, 42 seconds fir Best Screenplay? Spike Jonze got only 42 seconds to give his acceptance speech for Best Screenplay. Sorry Academy but without the writers there are no movies.

15. You've got Will Smith to deliver the Best Picture Award? In years past, you had major filmmakers to deliver this award. See Steven Spielberg.

Well, that's it. See you next year.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

I now hate snow

Okay, I am tired of snow. Here in Cincinnati, we're getting another snow storm. I can't see winter ending any tine soon. I feel like weatherman Jim Kosek four years ago when he had to forecast the snow storm of the century for Baltimore. At least we're not getting 22 inches of the white death. Check out Kosek's hilarious forecast from four years ago.

The Best Science Fiction Film of 2013

It's time for the Basement Blog Science Fiction Film of the Year for 2013. Wow. It's the fifth year for the award. The nominees are Oblivion, Enders Game and Star Trek Into Darkness. The winner is:


Whereas I have criticized the 2009 movie Star Trek as being Star Trek light, Star Trek Into Darkness is a leap into what creator Gene Roddenberry wanted for his science fiction franchise. Roddenberry wanted science fiction that had meaning. Star Trek Into Darkness was no mere summer blockbuster fare. It had themes. War. The War on terror. Revenge. The Prime Directive. Friendship. And it was also an entertaining film. Here's the trailer for Star Trek Into Darkness and the Basement Blog Science Fiction Film of the Year for 2013.

Sarah Palin was right?!

I've made fun of my muse Sarah Palin many times. So, to be fair and balanced, it's time to acknowledge when she is right. In 2008, she spoke of her concerns of Vladimir Putin invading Ukraine. And now that it looks like that might happen, it's time to say Sarah Palin was right. Here's the story from the Huffington Post with her Facebook post. Now if she could only write a non-compound sentence.

Saturday, March 1, 2014

American Hustle review

In American Hustle, we first meet Irving Rosenfeld (Christian Bale) as he is putting on a hideous toupee to cover up his balding head. Rosenfeld is a con artist who's an informant for the FBI about to lure a politician into accepting a bribe. It's a delightful metaphor for the duplicitous nature of Rosenfeld. But he's not the only character who is not what they seem to be.

Written by director David O. Russell and Eric Warren Singer, American Hustle is a 1978 story about two con artists, Rosenfeld and Sydney Prosser (Amy Adams). Rosenfeld's con is to lure people with the promise of a loan of $50, 000.00. The catch is the victims must pony up $5000.00 as a fee. Of course, they don't get the loan. Initially, Prosser is not part of Rosenfeld's scam. When they met, she's not what she conveys herself to be. To Rosenfeld, she's a sophisticated, sexy and urban woman. But in reality she's not from the urban New York city - New Jersey area man where the story takes place. She's a midwestern girl. When Rosenfeld invites her into the scam, she refuses but she is excited by his attention. She immediately conjures a way to improve the con by being an English aristocrat with banking connections named Lady Greensly.

Their scam is working well until they are busted by FBI agent Richie DiMaso. (Bradley Cooper) He "convinces" the two to work for him. DiMaso's ambition is to bring down politicians with bribes. Faced with prison, the two decide to work for the FBI. They devise a plan to use a fake Arab sheikh to invest money in Atlantic City casinos by paying off politicians. Their first target is Camden, New Jersey mayor's Mayor Carmine Polito. (Jeremy Renner) He maybe corrupt but his cause is to help the people of his city with the economic windfall from the casinos.

Russell and Singer's screenplay is loosely based on real ABSCAM operation of the late seventies and early eighties. The dialogue is deep with rich characterizations. The people speak the way you would expect them to if they were from the New York-New Jersey area. And it's hard to hate the con artists Rosenfeld and Prosser. They may be crooks but they do love each other even though Rosenfeld is married to Rossalyn (Jennifer Lawrence). Rosenfeld has an adopted son with Rossalyn that he will do anything for. There are humorous moments but this film is not just a comedy. It's a story about the struggle to survive. One that will resonate with everyone in the audience. Russell's direction also deserves congratulations. He wisely stays out of the way of the actors. There's very little in camera gymnastics. Russell knows he's got a great story with fantastic dialogue. No need for wild camera movements.

But it's the acting that makes American Hustle a great film. Christian Bale is unrecognizable from his Bruce Wayne in the Batman movies. No doubt, he's a crook. But he displays a moral center. He's fragile and can be loving. Bradley Cooper's DiMaso is perhaps the least attractive of the cast. He's almost all ambition but is clearly weakened by Prosser's sexual lures. As Rosenfeld's wife, Rosalyn Rosenfeld, Jennifer Lawrence does have the New Jersey woman down. Love that accent. But she's actually not the strongest in the cast. She's a little young to be playing a housewife. However, it's Amy Adams portrayal of Sydney that is the best in the movie. I've always said the best actors convey emotions and motivations without saying a word. And that's what you get with Adams. On her face, you can see hurt, deceit, and love without Adams uttering a word. It's the rich dialogue that is the icing on the cake. Adams' Sydney wields her sexuality the way Bruce Lee uses nunchuks. Adams does one of the best pieces of acting that one will not see in a long time. It's a tour de force performance.

American Hustle is one of the best films of 2013. It's a movie about the lies people tell to get what they want and to survive. And the cast in this film are just simply wonderful. The grade is A Plus.