Friday, July 28, 2006

The healing hand

Do you know how a 3 1/4 inch nail feels on the knuckle when fired from six inches away with a Bostitch pneumatic nailer? That was last week Monday. I missed one day of work because of the bruising which prevented me from straightening or gripping with that finger (my left pointer). After that one day, the swelling was down enough to carefully put on my work gloves and try to use one hand as much as possible.

But that is mostly over--I could type pretty comfortably after 2/3 days of healing. The nail did make a direct hit puncture, but bounced off and hid from my wrath.

He's probably gloating somewhere with the nail that punctured my tire 2 days ago.

Editor's Note (as if the rest isn't): Lady In The Water movie review to come soon hopefully

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Pirate thoughts - part 3

In the comment string for the last post, the question was asked: "Why can't you just enjoy the movie and not think about who the people are or what they do in real life?"

It's a good question. There's a sense in which I suppose you are right--that I would enjoy it a lot more if I didn't think in those terms--but consider this:

During the first movie, we asked Elizabeth's question "who's side is Jack on?" and come away with the vague answer in Will's line to Norrington, "but he's a good man." ok.

So the second movie comes out, and not only do we have the original (absurd) equation ultimately "proven": jack = pirate = good man... we also end up wondering what happened to our original lines between "bad" pirates and "good" pirates. Back came the original “bad guy” as the saving grace for Jack and the next film (or so we are to think).

I guess piracy (i.e. crime) is simply "freedom," if we understand Jack's philosophy correctly.

I'm just having a hard time working through all these atrocious conclusions all of the sudden. There's many more that come to mind.

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Sunday, July 16, 2006

Pirate thoughts - part 2

You know, it's almost amusing how often the realists get lumped in the bad-guy camp by Hollywood. Except for its ruthlessness and greed (lenses Hollywood never fails to use for corporate entities both past and present), the trading company basically made sense: "Jack Sparrow is a dying breed." Then later, Mr. Gibbs says that the trading company is "bad, very bad for every man jack what calls himself a pirate."

Duh!

I sometimes get weary of rooting for the ones who were really the most despicable people in real life? Even if the movie portrays them as lovable, funny and free, we always end up winking at they're consistent lack of conscience, unbounded lust, and pervasive self-interest.

Having said that, I'll probably be there to watch the third one when it comes out.

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Friday, July 14, 2006

Overboard: Pirates 2 review

With the dust finally settled on the stunning payoff numbers for Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest, I joined a large group of friends to see it last night in Burlington. The hype that has deservedly built up since the first one was released has just continued to amaze me. I watched The Curse of the Black Pearl with my brother Nathan pretty close to the opening week. Since we came away with the same side-splitting laughs and good natured thrills as the rest of the world, why wouldn't I go see the second production?

So how was the movie... (Are you ready for this?)

In summary:

I expressed to several different people before I saw the movie that the only reason I was going to watch it was for the pure entertainment value. It's what I got out of the first one and was all I could expect from this one. But pure entertainment value is exactly where the movie failed to deliver beyond a smorgasbord of special effects.

The problems, broken down
(mild spoilers)

The primary reason Pirates 2 failed where number 1 succeeded was the glaring lack of focus on any one thing or group of things. It was an exhausting marathon as a direct result. Not only are there more "main characters" than the movie can handle (most all carried over from the last movie, often with little to justify their presence), there is also an absurd number of just about everything else: villains (Jones, the company, and the natives), expendable ships and ship crews to get gratuitously annihilated (first Pearl crew, second Pearl crew, first merchant ship, second merchant ship, etc), objects of pursuit (compass, key, chest, heart, dirt, ship, etc)...and last but not least, twists to the plot--they came so thick and fast, I was wishing for the movie to end a half-hour early. It was complicated, full of loose ends, and the whole seemed to distract from any potential valuable plot points.

This movie tried to do too much...which brings me to my second point.

Point 2:

Dead Man's Chest was so full of little details and a myriad of surprises, it almost seemed self-consciously preoccupied with trying to out-do The Curse of the Black Pearl. Perhaps that's just the Disney influence shining through. Perhaps that's just a production company trying to capitalize on a proven market. Whatever the case, they tried TOO HARD. I'm sorry but the first movie was a good story, well crafted, and nicely closed--a movie that could stand on it's one story, plot, and cast without a figurative "to be continued" tag at the end like some moronic TV series. Now that a series of sequels is being pursued, it seems like all sense of closure is out the window. Not only are we left in a huge black hole of uncertainty regarding what's going to happen next, we also have no character development to help us understand what has transpired or what is to come for that matter.

I'm going to have to stop before I start the run-on sentence thing.

One final complaint (and to help illustrate my last point on character development):
-MAJOR SPOILER ALERT-

Commodore Norrington, the man so fondly remembered for his idealistic zeal to "see that all pirates get what's coming to them: a sort drop and a sudden stop," is one resuscitated character, having resigned his commission, and become a drunken brute of a man in the process, he presents a stark contrast (and a somewhat unbelievable one at that) to the previous version. Why this change. Perhaps we will never know, because the movie gave us no real depth of understanding to his character, and portrayed what was a huge, nonsensical transformation as just a point of humor and the convenient addition of an extra villain.

Why!!?

the end

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Sunday, July 09, 2006

An opening

Last week included two 10+ hour days at work to make up for Monday and Tuesday. Being the classic loser, I found myself working one of those shifts on Friday.

However, that's not what made Friday so memorable. I ended up building outside with our in-house agnostic, sometimes atheist, Dave. Dave began working there sometime last November I think. Since then, he has proven to be a reliable worker. He recently broke 4 ribs while dismantling and was out for 3 weeks but he is back now with his trademark sharp and cynical wit.

He has been pretty open sometimes about his beliefs or lack thereof, but never with the intention to create bad blood. The fact remains that the company is owned and run by Christians and he would be the first to admit that he generally appreciates his coworkers and how well the place is managed. He mentioned his wife was impressed when all the owners most of his supervisors visited him in the hospital and even prayed there for him.

So Friday, I had the chance to probe his background a little. I was surprised by what I discovered. He was raised a Southern Baptist, was baptized once at a fairly young age, than again when he was around 17. He explained that he decided to repeat it because he felt he hadn't been cognizant enough of what he was undergoing. Perhaps he feels that he is now even more mindful of his baptism's import and that is why he has renounced it (It's amazing what can happen to our faith when it depends on how we feel). I shouldn't jump ahead of the facts as he stated them though. He left, by his own account, because of rampant hypocrisy in the church (I'm sure you've never heard of that). I pressed him for details and he mentioned racism as a big one, and also, what I interpreted to be a breakdown in proper church discipline, with elders failing to take action against an abusive husband within the church.

We moved through various other topics, not really able to get in-depth and still keep up a good pace on the work process we were manning, but I came away with a more hopeful outlook with regards to Dave. How could I not when I agreed with 90 percent of his frustrations and problems? He seemed to have a relatively full understanding of what he had left. His basic obstacle is cynicism and a heavy dose of self-imposed apathy. I say self-induced because he has a good mind but would rather put on a carefree front to those around him than actually consider some larger questions.

Perhaps you could pray that what I say and when and how I say it will be used to open his eyes. It’s easy to be intimidated by someone who might think he’s heard it all. And while the important thing is the gospel, I did find him to be pretty uninformed regarding reformed thought in particular...

It creates an opening, however small.

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Saturday, July 01, 2006

'Show-off journalism'

Here is one more journalist who agrees with my assessment that the NY Times and co is guilty of big league gossip, or as he put it, "show-off journalism." World Net Daily has an article about Richard Valeriani, a former NBC reporter, and his comparison of the Time story to giving the Nazis Anne Frank's address.
"There was no compelling need for the public to know about this," he said. "The story itself acknowledged there was nothing illegal going on – only an anonymous acknowledgement that there was a 'potential' for abuse."
An interesting note in support of this view, and something that I didn't know before--the Times won a Pulitzer Prize for their story! This is one of the most blatant examples of, not only treasonous behavior, but self-serving journalism.

A 'representation of views'?

You must allow me this opportunity to vent about academic stupidity. First the good news: a story from yesterday in the San Antonio Express-News tells of the dean of library services at the University of the Incarnate Word, who canceled the library subscription to the NY Times because of their revelations about international financial monitoring by the US government.
"Since no one elected the New York Times to determine national security policy, the only action I know to register protest for their irresponsible action (treason?) is to withdraw support of their operations by canceling our subscription as many others are doing," Mendell D. Morgan Jr. wrote Wednesday in an e-mail to library staffers. "If enough do, perhaps they will get the point."
That took guts. The university initially seemed to respect his decisions (except for the anti-censorship police on his own library staff who believe that treason is simply another viewpoint to assimilate through diversification. Remember, every student in American has the God-given right to read a print version of the NY Times every day!
"We understand that pornography and things not of an academic nature don't have a place in the library, but this is the New York Times," Romo said. "Whether it leans either way, it is still a staple and representation of views in our country."
However, it seems the paper is back on campus.
Morgan said that supportive emails he has received from citizens, campus workers and other library staffers have reinforced his view that the cancellation itself was appropriate. He said he was changing his mind only because he regretted not conferring with colleagues first.
Back to the NY Times though--I've seen first-hand how journalists tie themselves in knots trying to rationalize what they reveal--but trust me, the reason is always the same: They are big league gossip addicts--just can't pass up the chance to share something that, because of their privileged position, they know and you don't.

This issue has nothing to do with partisan politics. It's only about treason, which has no political persuasion since it is antithetical to our political process as a whole.