Saturday, October 25, 2014

Zor and Zam

   Okay I’ll admit it…I’m a Monkees fan. I’ve been a fan since I was a child and exposure to other music genres and the experiences I’ve had in my life over the last thirty years has not change that fact. Even today, I enjoy the melodies and find many of the lyrics to still have relevance. 
   Recently I listened to a song called Zor and Zam and it got me thinking about the application of the point of the song if applied today…in real life. I mean, what would happen if everyone today did what everyone in the song did?

   Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not calling for anarchy or revolution, I’m just thinking out loud about what the enforcement of the will of the people would look like if we collectively woke up all at once. Of course it’s a pipe dream (as in you have to be smoking the wacky tabacky) to think it could ever happen. Such an undertaking would have to be worldwide, and we can’t even come to one accord in this country, never mind the entire world.

   I’m getting ahead of myself. Let me rewind and clarify the point of the song by taking a look at the lyrics:

The king of Zor, he called for war
And the king of Zam, he answered.
They fashioned their weapons one upon one
Ton upon ton, they called for war at the rise of the sun.

Out went the call to one and to all
That echoed and rolled like the thunder.
Trumpets and drums, roar upon roar
More upon more.
Rolling the call of "Come now to war."

Throughout the night they fashioned their might
With right on the side of the mighty.
They puzzled their minds plan upon plan
Man upon man
And at dying of dawn the great war began.

They met on the battlefield banner in hand.
They looked out across the vacant land.
And they counted the missing, one upon one,
None upon none.
The war it was over before it begun.

Two little kings playing a game.
They gave a war and nobody came.
And nobody came.
And nobody came.
And nobody came.
And nobody came.

   So the long and short of it is two kings called for war, and the people told them to pound sand. It sounds simplistic, but I hear a whole lot more when I listen to the song and see a whole lot more when I read the lyrics.
   I see people taking back the political system by showing up and voting in people that don’t belong to either of the two main political parties. I see solidarity to correct the plague that has become police brutality. I see people taking back their health and showing the medical “industry” that health isn’t about making money but taking care of each other. I see people not always looking at those things that make us different as a way to divide us, but looking at those things we have in common to unite us.

   Maybe I’m looking to hard and seeing too much, but I know things don’t have to stay the way they are and with a little courage to stand up to Zor and Zam, things could not only be different…but better!

   Think about it…then be about it.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

I Need Money

   “I need money”…no doubt a phrase uttered by nearly everyone at some time in their life (of course there will always be those few exceptions…bless their hearts). I hear that phrase more and more these days and I’m not sure if it’s due to the economy, or just a personal desire to simply have more. What I am sure of is that anyone pursuing this need to the exclusion of all else has, or will be having, some other important issues very soon (notwithstanding any issues making is necessary for the pursuit to begin with).
   With the economy the way it is, more and more people seem to be in need of more work than is available. At least, that’s how it looks at times. I know folks that have three and four jobs…and looking for another! Let me be clear, my hope is for anyone needing money can find work to get it. Heck, I have a good job and still think I need more money (who doesn’t…really?).

      This post isn’t about our troubled economy (and even if you’re one of the few not having trouble with it, you can be sure others are). This post isn’t about those most in need (although there can never be too much attention on the issue, the quick solution remains our own acts of humanity). No, this post is about those of us that feel this “need” while not recognizing we are filling it, and the detrimental effects of this ignorance.

      I can’t imagine having to work every day of the week…as a permanent schedule. I know some people somewhere have to do it, but I also know there are people doing it, that really don’t have to. Now I chase the dollar as much as the next person (well…obviously, not really), but I also realize that somewhere in this equation I have to factor in my mental health and the time needed for the rest of life that happens outside of work.

      I’ve often contemplated the life of a child that has a parent (or should I now be saying “parents” since both parents having to work has become the staple of our economic times?) working so much that they hardly have any memories of any quality time spent with those they love. Which is greater, the financial gains made or the personal investment lost? I’ve always felt that time is the most precious commodity we have and the proper use of it is the wisest thing we can do. How many parents now regret not spending more time with their children while they were growing up? How many realize they were blinded by their need for money, although they had enough to really cover the “needs?”
   Sometimes we confuse “need” with “want” and other times there is no confusion at all. We simply want and then justify our actions (constantly working) by framing the narrative with “need.”

      This post is meant to reach out to those people that are either confused or just fooling themselves because once time has passed you by, you can’t go back for a do-over. Constant work is personally unhealthy and socially irresponsible for the family. Why set yourself up to be one of those people looking back on your life with regret? And if you are destined to be such, why have this particular issue as one of them?

      We all need money…but life doesn’t start and end with that need, and we shouldn’t make everything in between all about money. Message delivered.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Pass the Smelling Salt

   Sometimes I sit in amazement at some of the things I observe, that seem to go unnoticed by others. It’s not that I’m privy to some secret information or am digging deeply for revelations, but just observing what is blatantly touted in front of us all. 

   Perhaps I’m not the one making any sense, but when I look at the television and see some of the commercials or campaign ads, I have to laugh because there is no way I can take it seriously. Then I shudder because I know there are some out there, many in fact, that take it very seriously…and that’s very scary.

   Let me discuss a scenario and see if you can relate. A campaign ad comes on for a guy running for office in New Hampshire. This guy ran for the same office in Massachusetts, but upon not getting elected, picked up and moved to New Hampshire to try it again. Umm…is it me or does this scream insincerity and simply a yearning to just be in office? I mean, before you were for the people of Massachusetts, fighting for their best interests. Now you are standing up for the people of New Hampshire? Methinks the only person you care about is yourself and you will be for whomever you think will vote for you. 

   The sad part is there are other ads that point this out…and yet there are people still thinking their candidate actually cares about them. I got news for you; if he loses he will care about you as much as he cared about those he said he was with before you (wink, wink). 

   How about those commercials from these law firms offering their service if you or a loved one have been injured (or in the loved one’s case, killed) by a prescription medicine? I mean…really? These are the exact same medicines that were in a commercial a few months ago wherein the announcer lists a plethora of side effects, often much worse than the actual condition the medication is supposed to address.

   I mean….really. How obvious is it that we shouldn't be taking these poisonous excuses for making money for the pharmaceutical industry, doctors…and now the lawyers. Can someone please pass the smelling salt because there is a large segment of the population that really needs to wake up!

   They say if you want to hide something, put it in plain sight and watch how it disappears from view. This is proven true with every commercial and campaign ad that crosses your television screen. It goes unnoticed while planting the subliminal seed that ensures you grow up to be a good little sheep. How much would we all really grow if we actually paid attention to the idiocy being presented to us like the best thing since individually wrapped cheese slices? I stopped feeling bad for people that were displeased with their candidate or in a bad way from their medication, because at this late stage of the game, you should know the rules and understand that you will never win until you play a different game.

   I’m tired of the fix being in and refuse to play along, thus…this is me, winning. As I now pass the smelling salt to you, I invite you to join me in waking up to a well-deserved win. Breathe deeply…

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Movie Review: “No Good Deed” 

I am an ardent fan of the cinematic arts. Although I have certain genre preferences, I don’t let that stifle my curiosity and close myself to different flavors of entertainment. That said...I am a huge fan of science fiction, super hero and action movies! Please visit my other blog The Boxed Office for reviews, exclusively, on these types of movies.

The Cast: 
   Idris Elba is one of my favorite actors, so I’ll try not to be biased when I say that although I’m not used to seeing him in the role of the villain, he delivered in the role. I had little doubt that he could pull it off given his performance in the series “Luther.” The conviction with which he attacks his character acting is parallel to his other passion…and if you don’t know, then you need to check out “Idris Elba: King of Speed.”

   Taraji P. Henson certainly sold me on the role of neglected housewife, suffering from lack of affection and wanting more out of her life than the constant struggle of being a mother. 

   When these two shared the screen, I was drawn in and invested in their interaction. Despite some plot holes in the script, these actors gave great performances and didn’t disappoint me.

The Plot: 
   Colin Evans has a silver tongue…and a very violent temper. In prison for manslaughter, but suspected of several more crimes, he is up for parole and looking forward to getting out…until his parole is denied.

   Refusing to be deterred, Colin escapes on the way back to the prison, and makes his way to Atlanta where he looks in on his (now) ex-fiancé. After finding out that she is involved with someone else, he confronts her. Not being able to control his rage, the confrontation ends in murder…but Colin has not yet finished with his revenge.

   Terri is a neglected housewife, married to a husband that seems to have little interest in making his marriage work. Spending everyday with her children, she longs to rekindle the flame her marriage once had.

   On a rainy night after her husband has left on a golf trip with his father, Terri gets an unexpected visitor seeking help after having an accident, but the visitor (Colin) is very much expected (in his mind) as he is not there by “accident” and has some very specific plans for Terri and her children.

      What follows is a riveting revelation of why Colin is there and what he really wants through flattery, deception, and ultimately, violence. Colin refuses to be denied what he thinks is rightfully his, and Terri learns the hard way that no good deed goes unpunished.

The Verdict: 

   There wasn’t anything in this film that hasn’t been seen before. I’d even argue that the “twist” at the end could be seen coming a mile away (more on that later). 
That said, there were some plot holes, or at the very least, actions that just didn’t make any sense for a reasonable person in dire need of extricating their children from danger. There were numerous scenes where Terri gets the drop on Colin (literally), only to be recaptured because her first action after was to run. I saw this film with my 16 year old daughter…and even she was whispering to herself “keep hitting him.”

      I also found the scene with the police officer a strain for my intelligence as any reasonable officer faced with all the overwhelming evidence that something is terribly wrong, would likely act much quicker than the slow witted dolt in the film (at least I hope I’m right about that). 

      The “twist” was no surprise to me as Colin passed several houses before settling in on Terri’s house (meaning he had intent for that particular residence) and Colin himself said that he needed to know who the other man was…and needed to deal with him. The logical conclusion is that after dealing with his ex-fiancé, her lover was next on the list. So yes…the “twist” was spoiled for me early on…;-)

   Despite the plot holes and actions that made no sense to me, the film still delivered a good story with some great actors, killing three cinnamon sticks, out of five, in my cup of tea.

Rating 3/5

Friday, September 26, 2014

Get to the Point

   Oh you know a person that never gets to the point? Perhaps you know someone that occasionally gets lost in their own story? Usually, I’m a very patient person, but there are those times when my brain is in high processing mode and it can’t wait for every superfluous detail to be revealed on the road leading to the point.

   Strange that one so usually focused on details (me) can sometimes have such a hard time dealing with them. I’m fully prepared to put the onus on me in this case and admit that I’m the one with the problem. Even if that’s true though…I’m going to vent anyway.
   Let me give an example and judge for yourself if I’m exaggerating the issue.
   So there I was talking to a friend when they say to me “My sister found a wallet on the street the other day and you won’t believe what was inside it.” Now…if there was ever a hook to snag a person’s interest, that was it. My curiosity meter exploded because if the expected item you find in wallets wasn’t there (money), then I really want to know what was so “unbelievable.”

   So…I took the bait and asked what was in the wallet. The response I got went something like this…
   “Well, my sister tells me she found a wallet and couldn’t believe what was inside. I asked her what was inside, but instead she pulled it out and told me to look inside. I said to her that I wasn’t going to look inside and that she should just tell me. She then asked me why she should tell me when the wallet is right in front of me and I can simply look. Listen I said…if it’s something so unbelievable, then she should tell me quickly because I really want to know. She then says to me…”
   I swear, at that point, I blacked out. When my mind snapped back to reality I had already uttered four words that ensured that I would never find out what was in the wallet. I don’t even remember saying them…they just kind of lingered in the air accompanied by the look of disdain on my friends face. By the look you’d think I used my pimp hand instead of simply saying “Get to the point.”
   Looking back now…having some time to reflect, perhaps my choice of words and tone were a sort of verbal slap, but I just couldn’t take the verbatim recounting of a conversation that had no bearing on what was actually in the damn wallet. Heck…now that I’m thinking about it, I still don’t know what was in the wallet (and I so much wanted to know). If I did use a verbal pimp hand, I hope it was the backhand!
   Maybe I overreacted and could have had just a little more patience. Maybe…but could you imagine if the sister had gotten a phone call during that conversation (and I don’t know that this didn’t happen) and I got the word-for-word phone conversation as part of the process of revealing what was in that damn wallet?
   I’m usually a nice guy and can handle myself better than that, but everyone has a moment, and that was my moment. Perhaps I should apologize for what could only have been perceived as rude…but truth is truth, and some people just need to get to the point.
   I guess next time I will politely interrupt and tell them there is a blog post they have to read and that it just can’t wait…then direct them here. If the title doesn’t do the trick and they actually read more into the post, at least it will stop the steady stream of useless information and give me a chance to unhook myself and reign in my curiosity.

  The heck with that stupid wallet…I don’t care anymore.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Breaking the Law of Attraction

   The Law of Attraction has been around since the inception of humankind. It’s very basic and simplistic and goes like this: men and women are attracted to each other. Of course, generalizations are not absolute, so take no offense when I don’t focus (but am fully aware) that all men and women are not attracted to each other…many are attracted to the same sex (again though, the same Law of Attraction).
   Although the title of this post implies that this law can be broken, you will not see me advocating this to be true…indeed, I think this law can never be broken. To do so would be to end humanity as we know it (and enter into some weird science fiction situation that doesn’t appeal to me in the slightest). No, the title is set forth to discuss those of us having a hard time accepting this law, and probably at times, wish it can be broken.
   Let me set up the scenario and see if you can relate. A couple is out and about when one of them (either the man of the woman) steals a glance at the opposite sex (again, insert the same sex if it applies). Now, admittedly, there is a right and wrong way to do this (and I’m not advocating doing so, but the law is the law), wherein one is not being blatantly obvious or disrespectful. However, even doing it innocuously can raise the ire of someone not secure in their relationship or are just generally an insecure person.
   Maybe I only speak for myself when I say the mature person simply understands that attraction exists, no matter how vested you are in another, because being so vested does not make you something other than human. Maybe I’m the immature one to not make a national security case out of our humanity and choose instead to keep moving myself forward fully grasping the reality of my situation, and secure in the fact that it trumps the thought that some other guy is handsome or cute. Perhaps I am in error to look deeper to what I see as the root of the problem being insecurity, not natural human reactions.

   Now I know there will be a segment of people (likely women) reading this and thinking that a simple look or quick glance can lead to cheating. In response I’ll say of course it can…however, it is never just a simple look or quick glance that does this, but the pursuit thereafter with determined intent that really leads to cheating. Heck, if we really want to take a few steps down that particular rabbit hole, the situation of cheating really begins long before there is even anyone else to glance at…but I digress.

   The plain truth is the Law of Attraction can never be broken and we all have to live with it. Every celebrity (of any type) any of us finds attractive puts us in compliance with that law.  It’s the unconscious search for the perfect person (even if they have already been found). It’s natural. It’s even healthy (although choosing to take your humanity to the extreme and cheat might be very unhealthy depending on the reaction of your mate. Fair warning).
   I don’t know if it’s some hidden part of the Girl Code I have never seen but this idea that women have that they are the center of a man’s universe is…right (of course), but just doesn’t manifest in quite the way they think it should. Men will look, as will women (although the belief is that it happens to a lesser extent…I’m not so sure about that). I think as part of the common ground that needs to be shared by both sexes, there needs to be acceptance that the Law of Attraction is here to stay, we just need to deal with it in a healthier way than unmitigated insecurity and disrespectful behavior…but again, I digress.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

NFL: Not Functioning Logically

   If someone could explain to me the madness that has seemed to recently grip some NFL players, I would greatly appreciate it. I can’t seem to figure all this out. I know football is a violent sport, and I know those that play it are only human (even if they are grossly overpaid for the “job”) but there has to be some trace of reason in the recent rash of madness spreading around.
   I have a theory on all of this, but even should it prove to be true, it doesn’t at all absolve anyone for the heinous acts of violence perpetrated on those unable to mount a proper defense. To be clear, I’m talking about the actions of Ray Rice and Adrian Peterson.
   Rice, in a fit of rage, knocked his wife (then fiancé) out…completely. Dragging her later was just insult to injury, but let’s focus on what trigger can possibly set him off to engage her as if she were a man of equal size and ability. It’s safe to say he reached critical mass and did not endeavor to let it out before things reached their pinnacle in the elevator. I’m not even going to get into the initial official reaction of the NFL on the matter, they seem to be just as illogical as Rice.

   What boggles my mind are those people blaming the wife for being knocked out…as if Rice had no other choice than to administer maximum force. Worse still are those saying the wife deserved it for raising her hands to him. While I’ll agree that a woman should never hit a man, doing so doesn’t automatically make it alright to go for the fifth round knock-out. As shocking as these sentiments are, it gets worse when you find out that much of this is coming from other women. I guess there are even exceptions to the unity of women.
   Now Rice is facing the loss of his job (which could, in fact, be partly a catalyst for all of this, but more on that later).
   If I say Adrian Peterson spanks his children, it would be like saying Antarctica is a little chilly. Seriously, the pictures of the marks left on his four year old son were excessive. Any sane and reasonable person can see that (and I’m not claiming to be neither sane nor reasonable). There is nothing a four year old can do (besides what all four year old do) to justify such a level of “discipline.” Peterson is just not functioning logically.

   Nothing illustrates this more than his reaction after the fact. Most people are appalled by the marks left on his son. If he can look at them and not have a similar reaction, then I submit that all the candles are not burning upstairs for Adrian.  

   I really don’t know why these guys have done what they did (and don’t even get me started on Aaron Hernandez), but I’ll wager now that steroid use might have some culpability here. It’s fact that such use can make a person more susceptible to flying off into rage…and at the very least, not engage the higher intelligence it’s assumed was given to them by the divine (but now I’m not so sure). I could be wrong about that, but I’m certainly right when I say that the level of violence used by these two is absolutely unacceptable, and that point needs to be driven home with the NFL (and the courts) behind the wheel. 

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Movie Review: “Snowpiercer”

   I am an ardent fan of the cinematic arts. Although I have certain genre preferences, I don’t let that stifle my curiosity and close myself to different flavors of entertainment. That said...I am a huge fan of science fiction, super hero and action movies! Please visit my other blog The Boxed Office for reviews, exclusively, on these types of movies…but this month I am happy to be reviewing a film in my preferred genre that almost slipped by.

The Cast: 
   Chris Evans seems to be on a mission to show he can be more than just a superhero. Having been Johnny Storm and cementing himself as Captain America, I was surprised that he was able to convince me that he can do more. As the main character, Curtis, he delivered a performance that enthralled me and drove home some shocking points of the film.

   John Hurt plays Gilliam and while the role seems somewhat cursory to what all else is happening in the film, I was surprised to find out his character had a much deeper impact than suspected. His performance was what I expected from such a veteran talent, even though this was only his third dystopian film.

   Tilda Swinton is nearly unrecognizable as Mason, an administrator in charge of overseeing the back of the train. She invests so much in her role that there is actually elation when her character suffers some long overdue justice.

   Ed Harris isn't seen until the end of the film, but his character is pretty much the whole point and driving force for Curtis’s motivations. I have always enjoyed the performances of Harris and although there is no award winning performance here, he does reinforce the dark and inevitable feel of the film.

The Plot: 

   After an experiment in global warming goes horribly wrong, the Earth is thrust into another ice age that kill all life on the planet except for a handful (compared to the previous population) of people that were fortunate enough to board a specially designed train with a perpetual engine...on a track that spans the globe (taking exactly one year to travel the world).

   Class-ism has also survived the end of the world as the privileged are at the front of the train enjoying all the comforts and amenities now extinct from the world, while the poor and downtrodden ride in the back living in squalor and decay. 
   Spurred on by mysterious messages from the front, Curtis decides it is time to lead a revolt, and take his people from the back of the train by attempting to travel to the front and seize control of the engine. 
   To accomplish his task, he has to free one of the designers of the train (Kang-ho Song) from prison in order to unlock the various gates that separate all the different sections that sustain the remaining remnants of human life on the planet. 
   What follows is mayhem and pandemonium with some of the most disturbing revelations I have seen on film in a while, accented by gratuitous violence (that surprisingly is less gory that it could have been) and some real life contemplation's that glue your eyes to the screen.

The Verdict: 

   The whole idea of this film is brilliant science fiction. Based on a graphic novel, the idea of a super train designed to sustain humanity indefinitely by providing entire ecosystems is fascinating. Using class-ism and a military force to sustain the given roles is eerily reminiscent of much of what is going on now.   

   The direction of the film is also brilliantly done as the movie flows, seemingly with the speed of the train, as this new world of train life unfolds along with the plot to turn things around. The special effects enhance the story and the sparse, but excellent, use of slow motion and camera angles enhance some of the more important action sequences.
   I found Curtis to be a flawed hero, meaning he is easy to identify with as all of us fall short of perfection. It’s not till later when we find out just how far he has fallen and you are forced to really contemplate the condition of life on the train, and the world in general, to even begin to empathize with some of the horror this film presents as its reality.

   Although the film was engaging, exciting, shocking and interesting…the ending left me completely flat. Being science fiction meant that this film was certainly my cup of tea, but with an ending that didn't match the rest of the delivery, this film only pierced three cinnamon sticks, out of five, in my cup of tea.

Rating 3/5