Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Movie Review: The Mummy

There could be spoilers in here.  You might use caution if you worry about that.

I’ve been a Tom Cruise fan for a while.  My second book was a sort of fan fiction, based on fantasies about him — though I changed the name to make clear that this novel was about my fantasies, not about him.  I did get a bit turned off, because he left Nicole Kidman just at the time when my ex announced he was going to leave me. This was too close for comfort. A lot of my anger at my ex got transferred to him.

Still, I do sometimes like to see his movies.

I liked this one.  It got poor reviews, but I still liked it.  I’m not even sure it showed at my local multiplex.  I looked around for it. I had to see it in NYC. 

It was an old fashioned horror movie, with a mummy, zombies, plagues of vermin — and Dr Jekyll & Mr Hyde thrown in.  That last was a bit strange — what was he doing here? But — hey — why not.

The mummy is fun.  She manages to be beautiful and hideous at the same time.  She vomits mercury.  Vomiting is gross, but mercury is beautiful.  She has a lovely body and parades around mostly naked — but pieces of her face are missing.  And she has the power to reduce buildings to dust — very cool — and summon the vermin.

This isn’t a really scary horror movie.  It’s not like I was ever tempted to scream, for instance.  It’s more of a fun horror movie — like “Wow!  Look at all our cool special effects!”

I think we’re sort of jaded about special effects.  If we had seen this movie 20 years ago, we likely would have been more impressed.  We shouldn’t be jaded.  The special effects are still amazing.

So Tom often gets bad reviews.  Critics sometimes accuse him of not being able to act.  Now that I’m acting, I’ve been thinking about this.

Watching this movie, do I really believe that Tom Cruise is a scuzzy scavenger who steals antiquities in the Middle East and callously hurts women with one night stands? No.  I think he’s a gorgeous, rich guy who lives in luxury, beams a million dollar smile, and mostly keeps his nose pretty clean — but who likes to pretend he’s a scuzzy character. 

Do I think seriously that this guy can single handedly fight off a half a dozen zombies simultaneously while driving a vehicle? No. It’s obviously ridiculously fake.

Does it make sense that he suddenly risks his life for this one night stand lady who he snuck out on leaving her asleep?  Does it make sense that he’s suddenly in love with her?  No — though I think guys do fall in love with women who they feel they can successfully rescue.

Does it makes sense how long he swims vigorously under water without breathing?  Probably not.

But that’s the fun of it. I see his basic enthusiasm coming through.  He’s having fun.  He loves doing this.  He loves the character.  He loves the special effects.  He wants to do scenes with rats crawling all over him.  He wants to get caught naked and act embarrassed (tho we suspect he isn’t at all embarrassed) == and he still looks remarkably good naked, BTW.  He wants to get to fight zombies.  He wants to meet Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, even though it doesn’t make a whole lot of sense for them to show up here.  He just wanted to cram it all in — an old fashioned horror movie with modern special effects.

There were fairly young boys in the theater.  They weren’t scared.  They were eating popcorn & having a good time, watching Tom do all this fun stuff.

Also, there were the mandatory running scenes.  I guess he’s not really running as fast as he looks as he’s running, because the beautiful actress running with him doesn’t seem to have that much trouble keeping up — but Tom runs with total commitment.  You think he’s running fast. There are YouTube videos devoted to him running https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U8Q2MgdMskQ He’s very graceful when he runs.  There’s smoothness to it.  You see feet off the ground a lot.

Let’s contrast this movie with “The Revenant.”  I was recommended to see that other movie by an acting professional — a guy who teaches acting.  He loved it … it was so well done from a professional point of view.  The acting was superb.  The cinematography was gorgeous.  Professionals loved that movie

I hated “The Revenant.”  You really believed that Leonardo DiCaprio was this dying nut, slogging through the freezing wilderness, seeking vengeance for his dead son.  You really believed that he was in pain, dying — that the wilderness was harsh, unforgiving.  You could feel it.  It was awful.  It was so long — so painful — so convincing.  Blecch.  Not fun.

I go to the movies to be entertained, not tortured.

Then there was this whole interchange with the critics.  Where Tom says he makes movies for fans not critics.  And critics say that's the wrong attitude. But I can see his point.  Critics like movies like "The Revenant."  That movie is art.  It appeals to the refined tastes of people who taste movies like fine wines.    The Mummy is a movie -- a movie where you go hang out and maybe eat popcorn -- not a movie for critics.

Anyway, so, yes.  Bring those pre-pubescent boys, not really young ones, not under 8, but ones who want to see a lot of chasing and punching — or maybe early teens.  This is likely right for them.

And just relax.  Don’t expect to actually feel like you’re going through this with a real person on screen.  It’s fun.  It’s a show. 

I liked it. 

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Reading signs

I see a pretty moth on the trail. It gives me quite a show, flapping its wings, allowing me to film it,  and even comes by my feet and again flaps its lovely wings for me. Should I be honored at this display? Or should I regard it as an ominous sign, because the predominant color of the moth is black? Or will I be accused of being racist for even asking this question?

video

Monday, June 19, 2017

Monday, June 5, 2017

Cherokee

I accidentally found myself visiting the Cherokee Indian Reservation near Asheville, North Carolina this past fall (2016). I was in the area.  I intended to drive the Blue Ridge Parkway.  I found out that it starts in Cherokee, North Carolina, so I went there.

The lady at the info center there told me the Parkway was closed due to forest fires, which turned out not to be true, but I ended up loitering around in Cherokee, doing some Christmas shopping for the better part of the day.

I was also curious, because I remembered that -- at least in the past -- some very distant cousins were Cherokee.  While I was at the reservation I managed to find a register of Cherokee people in the gift shop of the Museum of the Cherokee Indian.  That book helped me I discover that my relatives were in the western reservation, in Oklahoma, at least back in the 1920's.  They weren't in North Carolina.  

There are a lot of touristy shops in Cherokee, North Carolina, and a gambling casino.  Many of the shops are not run by Cherokees and much of the merchandise is not local, though you can find a bit of local craft work.

I did learn to recognize the local people.  They seemed to be predominantly of mixed race, part white, often obese -- but, mostly, they seemed weighed down with great sadness.

It makes a lot of sense that they should be sad.  Their history is tragic.  If you go to the Museum of the Cherokee Indian you see that.  The museum really emphasizes the huge loss of life, territory, and culture that these people suffered.

Yet -- just outside the museum -- I saw Cherokee men, very gently, and sensitively, teaching white tourist children to do Cherokee dances.

Coincidentally, in my social activities here in NY, I met a fellow who I later found out is Cherokee -- and related to people on that reservation in North Carolina.  He was very nice -- gentle, chivalrous -- and very muscular and handsome.

When I first met him, I was puzzled, because I thought, by his coloring, that he looked Italian.  Yet, his name didn't sound at all Italian, and his mannerisms seemed very different from those of typical Italian Americans I have met.  He was more reserved, hesitant.

And, there was a sense of sadness about him.  

I didn't learn he was Cherokee until about six months after my return from my trip.  Then it all made sense.  He wasn't Italian American at all.

I'm still thinking about his eyes -- haunting, deep eyes. 

Researchers have found that we inherit epigenetic trauma memories from our forebears. Those sad eyes might actually be watching loved ones drop dead in forced marches -- enormous territories stolen and occupied -- the memories still as fresh as if they had happened yesterday instead of over a hundred years ago.

It's a lot for a young man to be carrying.

I shall have to write a poem about his eyes.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Is Family Planning Responsible for the Election of Donald Trump?

Is Family  Planning Responsible for the Election of Donald Trump?

I’ve always been an advocate of family planning. I used contraceptives for years during sexual encounters until I got married and had 2 kids. 

Those kids turned out to have Asperger’s Syndrome.  I later learned that older fathers (my ex was 36 and 39 at their conception) and older grandfathers (my father was 40 when I was conceived) are more likely to have kids with these disorders, along with ADHD — which my younger one also has —and bipolar disorder.

When I learned about this connection between older fathers and mental health, I started questioning the thinking I had about when to have children.

However, I’m now seeing something else.

I’ve been taking acting and improv comedy lessons in New York City.  I’ve been meeting a large number of really wonderful young adults.  These people have completed college.  They are intelligent, idealistic, creative, and likable.  They are making a choice to pursue a dream in acting.  This might not be a lucrative pursuit, but it’s an admirable pursuit. Yes, most of them will give up and go into something else, but not without first having learned a great deal about themselves and others — and also having likely met the person of their dreams in an acting or improv class.

But many of these people are not so very, very young.  They are often in their thirties. 

When these wonderful young people start talking about why they haven’t had children, they will often say that they don’t think they could be good parents.

I try to explain that the brain goes through neurological changes in once you’re a parent and you become a good parent, because of those changes, but, seeing as they haven’t experienced that, they can’t have confidence in it.

It recently struck me that the people who are having children are all the wrong people. These are people who aren’t responsible enough to use birth control. These are people who aren’t responsible enough to question whether they can be good parents.  These are people who see someone attractive, and then rush into unprotected sex.

When I talk, particularly to women, about what they like about Donald Trump — something I don’t understand, given the many stories of his being sexually abusive to women — I sense between the lines that they find him cute.  He is cute.  That isn’t often discussed. 

Alpha males, and he is an alpha male. have a certain braggadocio, a certain swagger, a certain way of smiling that just make them irresistible for straight women.  It’s hard to understand.  These men are often total jerks.  BUT they’re cute. 

In Trump’s case, the aura of wealth and power makes him even more attractive. Those things do attract women. Women instinctively want to be near someone who has that.

Those same characteristics tend to make beta males and lesbians hate alpha males, but then they’re really jealous.

This is iMHO, all biology.

It appears, from what I can tell about the men who voted for Trump, that other alpha males respect other alpha males.  They get a kind of catharsis from hearing him express their rage.

So he can’t speak coherently; he doesn’t understand foreign policy; he is operating businesses in conflict of interest with his position as President; the whole Russia and obstruction of justice thing; contractors complain that he doesn’t pay debts; women and girls complain that he has sexually assaulted them; he reveals classified information; he doesn’t understand or respect the constitution; etc — so what? If all you care about is that he’s cute and alpha, then you vote for him.

These are just the sort of people who don’t use family planning.  These are just the sort of people who are likely the children of people who don’t use family planning. 

Very unsettling to me, as an advocate of family planning: my attitude may be anti-Darwinian.  Family planning may be dumbing down the human race.

So, please, if you think you aren’t good enough to be a parent, re-think.  You are precisely the person who should be a parent, because you care.  No parent is perfect.  No parent fails to make mistakes. No parent fails to induce neuroses in their children.  Please stop leaving the business of having children to people who don’t care.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Ransomeware attacks

So there was a massive worldwide ransomeware attack, holding computers hostage, demanding money.

The malware is alleged to have originated in North Korea, exploiting vulnerabilities uncovered using hacking software developed by the US government, and leaked. 

Microsoft was aware of these vulnerabilities and issued patches, but many users, especially non-USA users did not install the patches.

Why don't people install patches?

My experience is that every software update introduces new bugs.  Moreover, the operating system becomes more and more bulky and runs slower and slower until the one has to upgrade one's computer in order to get a reasonable response time.

I feel this gradual creep of the operating systems to be bulkier and bulkier is a form of planned obsolescence to force users to buy new hardware -- a type of conspiracy against the consumer.

I would like to see the FTC and various state consumer protection offices investigating this phenomenon.

Similarly, online adhesion contracts become unreasonably long, so that it is unreasonable to expect that users have read them prior to installing software updates.

Software updates necessary for security should not cause the performance of the computer to deteriorate.  Adhesion contracts should have page limits.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

meme about Trump Russia and real estate

Sorry I've doing this a lot, but it seems important.  I didn't write this.  This is a copied meme.

Tonight another story links POTUS to Russia's dirty underbelly.

Federal prosecutor Preet Bharara was investigating a case in which big ticket properties in Manhattan were being purchased by Russian investors with possible links to decades old tax corruption scandals. In the midst of his investigations, he was told to resign by President Trump. At the time it seemed like a preemptive house-clearing of Obama appointees, not surprising after the judiciary blowback regarding the White House's half-cocked attempts at religious profiling hiding unironically under the veil of immigration reform.

Now the motives seem more connected to the Russian election corruption investigation than ever, as news comes out that a key witness to the Bharara investigation plunged from the fifth floor of his apartment building in Russia. So many Kremlingates to keep track of, right?

America, wake up. This is no longer about the knee-jerk reaction of the left to the election. Where do you want to remember standing when it became inarguable that our administrative branch was being headed by a halfwit who has only the interests of his Russian backers at heart? Take your Republican hat off. Hell, take your Libertarian, Green Party, or whatever other hat off - and start thinking like a patriot. Call your representatives and voice your fears and ask them to make public their support of any investigations into the Russia link to POTUS. If it's all smoke, what do you or they have to lose?