Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Movie Review: "A-Team"

   I think we can consider this my tagline: 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: 
   Liam Neeson is one of the great actors of our time and delivers an excellent performance. However, Bradley Cooper is a screen stealer with a perfect rendition of Lieutenant Templeton ‘Faceman’ Peck. He is laugh-out-loud funny and very charismatic in his role. Quinton ‘Rampage’ Jackson does surprisingly well for his first role and fits into the shoes of Mr. T very nicely, making them a brand all his own. Captain H.M ‘Howling Mad’ Murdock was always a riot in the television series and Sharlto Copley doesn’t disappoint in bringing the character to the big screen.
The Plot: 
   Hannibal Smith (Liam Neeson) assembles an unlikely team of ex-Rangers in Mexico and eighty successful missions later, find themselves in Iraq at the close of the war taking on an impossible mission to recover stolen United States currency plates. 
   It goes without saying that the A-Team is framed for stealing the plates and the murder of their commanding officer. Dishonorably discharged and sentenced to lengthy prison terms, the team escapes intent on finding the real thieves and murderers and clearing their names.
   As they set about making things right, the plot thickens as they discover the real players in the plan aren’t who they expected and clearing their names isn’t going to be fact, it will be next to impossible. With only their wits about them and a desire for the truth, they must live up to their name and bring their “A” game.

The Verdict: 
   The A-Team is everything an exciting, witty and fun action movie should be. It’s chocked full of impossible stunts that come off without a hitch and exuberant chemistry between the cast and characters that made it a great television show of the 80’s. 
   We finally learn why B.A. is so scared of flying while at the same time being dazzled by the incredible piloting skills of “Mad” Murdock. Anyone that was a fan of the original television series will find this movie doesn’t take anything away from the hey day of the show, but adds to why the show is now a classic.
   The one-liners and pure comedy of the personalities of the characters is simply awesome. “Faceman” Peck steals the movie early and is joined by Sharlto Copley’s rendition of Murdock which is simply fall-off-your-seat funny. The supporting cast is also excellent, making this movie nothing but pure fun to watch again...and again...and again. 
    This was truly a surprise for me since there were many areas where this movie could have gone wrong...but instead it went very, very right. I was a fan of the television show....and now am an avid fan of this movie since it was good enough to put four out of five cinnamon sticks in this very tasty cup of tea.
   Just remember...”if you have a problem...and no one else can help...and if you can find them, then maybe you can hire the...A-Team!

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Sunday, July 24, 2011

A Book by the Cover

    There is a very old saying that says: “Don’t judge a book by the cover.” I’ve heard it since I was a child and I’m sure it has been around since my parents were children. I’m amazed that with the longevity and popularity of this saying, that there is still ample judging of books by their covers. I mean this both in the literal sense and the metaphorical sense. The metaphorical sense of the saying simply means “don’t prejudge the value of something by it’s outward appearance” or more simply put “ things are not always as they appear to be.”
   Just as I’m amazed at how many people are still in the habit of prejudging, I’m elated when I come across those individuals that make a conscious effort not to. I’ve hypothesized that it must be human nature that coaxes us to blindly draw conclusions before doing a deeper investigation. Perhaps it’s not that at all, it may just be that we are so familiar with certain situations that we make quick associations based off our prior experience. It never occurs to us to take every case at more than face value and see the details that aren’t evident. Assumptions can be dangerous and can also be easily avoided by simply not making them.
   My first memorable experience with this was back in high school during a track meet. I sized up one opponent in particular and dismissed him because of his slight stature and lack of any discernible muscle. That dismissal was a lesson I never forgot as he blew past me as if I were standing still...and the harder and faster I ran, the more he pulled away from me. The “cover” of this athlete was a poor indication of all the raw talent and ability he truly possessed. This one incident was enough to get me forever looking at people and situations differently...and always asking myself if there is more than what is presented.
   I suppose that there are many others besides myself that have learned this lesson at one time or another, but haven’t kept in their mind to always look deeper...or at the very least, suspect there might be more. I often think of outrageous scenarios...but if I can think them up, then so can somebody else, except they might actually do it. Suppose a billionaire wakes up one morning and decides that his hard earned fortune should go to someone that he considers worthy, thus, ruling out his family. He puts on tattered clothes and intentionally makes himself look and smell undesirable...with the thought that the first person to show him kindness by offering him a meal will be the heir to his fortune. 
   Of all the people that pass him by on the corner and don’t so much as acknowledge he even exists, few give him spare change and fewer still give him bills. As I walk down the street I see him and he really a billionaire in disguise? I offer him a few dollars dismissing the idea and go about my business with no place to be in particular. Others may pass by and assume he is homeless, or an alcoholic...or homeless because he’s an alcoholic. The assumptions are plentiful I bet...all based on the countless others they’ve already passed that were exactly what they thought they were. I think to myself, with no place to be, that I have time to go back and offer the man to come with me to get a warm meal...and again dismiss the idea, I’ve walked too far away I tell myself....a cop-out.
   Is it too far fetched that the man really is a billionaire in disguise? I’ll concede the odds are against it, but I’m sure many reading this can think of stranger things that have happened. I admit this is an extreme example I’m using to emphasize my point of judging a book by the cover...but life is full of extremes and if we can accept the extreme, them we can certainly incorporate the mundane. Taking the time to realize we really know nothing about a person or situation from the outside, except the outside, is the first step toward understanding what lays underneath. 
   So...remember you read it here first, the next time you’re standing in line at the grocery store and read the headline “Woman Inherits Billions Over Warm Meal” on one of the tabloids. Then think of all the people you’ve walked by, pockets jingling, that you never paid any mind to...because their cover said, “Spare Change Please.”

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Platonic Friends or...Platonic Friends?

    I was recently asked by a friend to add my voice in response to a very interesting survey question that I’ve never really stopped to consider before. Just the fact that I’ve never really delved into the thought made it all the more enticing for me to immerse myself in it. The question was: Is it possible to have truly platonic friends of the opposite sex? The overwhelming response was “yes”...but of course, I think the question is more complex than a simple response can cover.
   In my opinion, truly platonic means not only not having a sexual relationship, but not having a desire to have one as well. That said...a platonic relationship happens when the friends don't find each other attractive. Here begins a rabbit hole as "attractive" isn't just confined to physical appearances. When there is absolutely no attraction and thus, no desire...but a friendship (the levels of which that can exist will take us deeper in the hole)...then yes, one can have a "platonic" opposite sex friend.
   Now is a good time to see what the dictionary has to say about platonic relationships.
Merriam-Webster:  b : of, relating to, or being a relationship marked by the absence of romance or sex.
Dictionary.Com:  3.( usually lowercase ) purely spiritual; free from sensual desire, especially in a relationship between two persons of the opposite sex.
   It seems my thoughts are in line with those that write dictionary’s. However (and you must have known this was coming), you can have friends of the opposite sex, without having sex, but have an attraction or desire to have sex. This may never surface...ever, but it's there. Is it really platonic when lurid thoughts exist? Not according to Dictionary.Com (free from sensual desire). If the thoughts and desires are there...all that is missing to change the situation is opportunity or invitation. In the end, choice will be the deciding factor.
   So...if you only have unattractive friends of the opposite sex, you can achieve a true platonic relationship...but if you don't, then you have only the facade of a platonic relationship that will remain in place only as long as you choose it to. As an added wrench in the plumbing...attraction can happen at any time for a variety of reasons in a number of situations. As we know, the term "friends" is broadly used regardless of how specific any one of us defines it. So there, in the usage itself, we’ve reached another depth in the hole of which I spoke earlier...but it gets deeper (doesn't it always).

   There are many layers to the type of friends many of us have, from those we trust everything about us with, to those that once were close but now are just cordial...and everything within and beyond those specific boundaries. In dealing specifically with platonic friends as defined by the true definition as I've explained it, and the dictionary has agreed with....everyone must explore for themselves, the closeness or lack thereof, of a friend of the opposite sex that you have absolutely no attraction of any kind to. 
   Whoops...did I say “attraction?” Did I mention that attraction can happen at any time for a variety of reasons in a number of situations? Don’t believe me? Ask yourself these questions...
   Is your platonic friend a good listener? 
   Do they give good advice? 
   Are they there for you when you need them? 
   If you answered "yes" to any of these cursory questions, then ponder...are these qualities ones you find attractive in a person? Is this the reason you are good friends with your "platonic opposite sex" friend...or the lack of these qualities the reason you're not? Now if these qualities are attractive to you, are you still just platonic since truly being platonic means having no sensual desire...and sensual desire begins with attraction?
   Of course we can leave it at “not having sex” and completely disregard this entire post and undoubtedly many of you reading this should...for your own good. I just don’t see the issue as a simple matter...and I’m not alone: This issue will be seen differently depending on the perspective you are approaching it from...Venus or Mars...but I don’t think I was asked this question or that survey was taken for a situation that is a non-issue.
   In conclusion I’ll add that there is a whole other animal here that often bites before it’s caged...and that is the professing that friends of the opposite sex are “just friends” when they really aren’t “just.” Flipping that coin and you’ll find the philosophical stance that the best relationships start out as “friends before lovers”...which brings us full circle to the question at hand: Is it possible to have truly platonic friends of the opposite sex?
   Of course it’s “possible”...almost anything is possible, but the real question is: How far down this hole do you want to go?....and as you descend, remember that life is not's live and in full effect.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

I’m No Expert...But.

    I’m no expert...but I’d like to give a voice to the millions of people suffering and dying from cancer. I’m no expert, but I’m very familiar with cancer as it has taken away my mother, my aunt (her sister), many cousins and threatens to do even more. Cancer being what it is isn’t the issue I want to give voice to...but cancer being what it’s not: eradicated.
   To be logically fair, there are so many types of cancer effecting so many different people that it may never be fully eradicated...but I’m a firm believer that more can be done to combat it and that the key to more successful treatments rests in the hands of people not willing to let other people continue to die. 
   Before my aunt passed away in 1994, I walked around with the notion that cancer was incurable, everything was being done to find a cure, and that when a cure was found it would be one of the biggest breakthroughs of the century. I was of the mind that if it wasn’t announced on television that United States, the best and most advanced nation on the globe, didn’t have a cure for cancer...that any news of a cure was hogwash, and no cure existed. I was firm in my belief and fully entrenched in my ignorance...until after my mother passed away in 2000. In 2001, as a result of my grieving need to understand all I could about cancer, I came cross a book entitled “Politics in Healing” by Daniel Haley...and everything changed after that.
   I read about Hoxsey, Dr. Koch, Rife and many, many more. I never looked at myself as naive before and quickly learned that self realization is a powerful experience. I thought it perfectly logical that if I were to miraculously come across a plant in my backyard that cured cancer, that the powers that be would be grateful for the discovery...and replicate the plant in mass quantities with the intent on giving it away to people in need. If there is anyone reading this that currently thinks this way, and you have a fragile psyche...take the blue pill and remain in the Matrix. The red pill of knowledge this post has is very hard to swallow. What has happened and currently happening regarding Dr. Stanislaw Burzynski is mind boggling to say the least, and absolutely evil to say it accurately.

   I’m no expert but shouldn’t the goal of all the well known organizations that get millions of dollars a year for cancer cure research be willing to test anything at all to find a cure? Well, maybe not anything, I can think of really off the wall stuff...but nontoxic treatment administered by a licensed physician that has medical records and actual living patients that are, themselves, proof of success should generate great interest by those that ask for your money to find what is right in front of them. The claim is that they are doing everything they can to find a cure...the truth is that the cure isn’t good for profit.
   I’ll be honest, I got really angry after reading books like “Cancer Cover-Up” by Kathleen Deoul, “The Cancer Cure That Worked!” by Barry Lynes, and “World Without Cancer” by G. Edward Griffin. I got angry because millions of people didn’t have to die for all these years. I got angry because among those millions were people I loved and cared about. I continue to be angry because there are people reading this, people I have had long discussions with, people that have suffered similar loss that have access to this information...that will continue to advocate for the status quo. I shared all this with a friend one day and she asked me to support “The Walk” months later...and got angry with me when I wouldn’t. Really? I just couldn’t...I know too much now.
   I’m no expert but it seems to me that this has all gone on long enough and the people need to take back control of their health from those that value money over life. I don’t need to be a doctor or hold any type of degree to understand the concept of common sense. It’s simple really...put millions of people out of work, so that millions more can live to enjoy life with those that love them. I don’t normally advocate job fact I’m dead set against it, but I have to make an exception in this case because I’d gladly give up my job to have my family back.

   Please don’t let this post only stir your thoughts, but let it motivate you to action...because what you do can be the difference between life and death for those you care about most.