Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Movie Review: “Red Dawn”

   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: 

   Chris Hemsworth (Thor) was well cast for the role set before him. It didn’t call for too much acting range...but was believable enough that he’ll probably have no complaints about his characterization. If only the same could be said of Josh Peck. I wasn’t sold for a single second by his performance...or lack thereof. It seemed as though he had a permanent smirk on his face no matter what the situation or emotional state. For me, he actually detracted from the film. Josh Hutcherson (Hunger Games) played a very good supporting role and was the comic relief (or as much as could be given the dire situation). Jeffery Dean Morgan was a welcome edition to the cast and was more than adequate at delivering veteran on a mission that only the Wolverines could pull off.

The Plot:

   It’s really unnerving to contemplate the United States being invaded and occupied. It was unsettling when the original movie came out in 1984, and is just as unsettling now...even if the plot is a bit more unrealistic than it was in 1984.

   North Korea has invaded the United States and taken over the West Coast and Midwest by using a new device that disables electronics and communications. Later we learn Russia has taken the East Coast at the same time. Jed Eckert (Hemsworth) and his brother escape the initial invading force parachuting in, along with a few others, and head for the woods to collect their bearing on what is happening.

   Jed, being ex-military, organizes the group by training them in the ways of guerrilla warfare when they decide that fighting back is a better option than surrender...especially after they witness the death of their father at the hands of the brutal Korean magistrate, Captain Cho. What follows is a series of events that inspire the American spirit, and shows what will and determination can accomplish in the face of insurmountable odds.

The Verdict: 

   Anyone a fan of the original, and expecting it to be exactly the same, will be a bit disappointed. it’s essentially the same movie as it shares the same basic premise as the Unites States being invaded and occupied by a “red” country...but there are some subtle differences that separate the two films.

   One of those differences is the calibre of acting. Patrick Swayze was a great actor, and although Hemsworth holds his own, many of the rest of the cast just couldn’t deliver like the supporting cast of the original. Josh Peck was a particular let down for me.

   On a positive note, the special effects were excellent...something the original can never compare to just by virtue of time and technology. The explosions were big and impactful, something fully expected given the subject material.

   Although the film isn’t a total loss, it wasn’t the big blockbuster I expected it to be. It didn’t deliver the same impact of the original, in part due to the shock value that only seeing the original for the first time could achieve. It didn’t do a lot of make too much sense given the way the technology of today can find people, but with a suspension of belief, it did manage to do one thing. It was entertaining enough to float 2 1/2 cinnamon sticks in my hot tea. Drink responsibly...and with an open mind.

Monday, December 24, 2012

The Quiet Recession, Shhhh...Don’t Tell.

   At this point, nobody should have to tell anybody else we are living in tough times. I’ll grant that there are many people that aren’t feeling the pinch of the economy as badly as others, but unless they live under a rock and have no access to any news...or other people, then they should be aware that there are people suffering economically. Nowadays, we try to assign blame instead of looking for solutions...but that’s another post. This post is about the recession, that isn’t happening.

  Somebody reading this just disagreed with my last sentence (as well you should) since there very much is still a recession going’s just quiet. It’s not plastered all over the media outlets as “recession,” instead we hear about the fiscal cliff and other stories that take our focus elsewhere. The problem with that is sooner or later, the changes incurred by the quiet recession are going to be noticed.

   If you haven't noticed already, then look around in your daily life and take notice. Observe all the little changes that have occurred...and realize that it is a sign of the economic times. The recession didn’t go away, everyone just stopped talking about it. I don’t know why, perhaps we are starting to get used to having to do more with less...or just doing less with less? Maybe we decided that life is the way it is, and complaining about it won’t make it change? Perhaps we actually still do have these types of conversations, but our rumblings just aren’t newsworthy or don’t make good headlines? Whatever the case may be, the signs are all around us...all we have to do is look.

   Ever stop to wonder why your favorite dish at your favorite restaurant just doesn’t taste the same anymore? It could be due to a change in cooks, but it could also be due to the fact that the restaurant has had to make some tough financial decisions to stay in business...and they’ve changed their supplier. They had to go with a cheaper brand, or different cut of meat, and now your favorite dish doesn’t resemble anything of why it became your favorite to begin with.

   In addition to all that, have you noticed that eateries are serving smaller portions? I used to love this nice Mediterranean place near me...ate there at least once a week. So it didn’t go unnoticed when the portions on the plate I ordered all the time became considerably smaller...but the price stayed the same. An example of doing more with less? Not really, just charging the same while serving less. It’s just one of the many corners that will be cut by eateries surviving the quiet recession.

   There’s another store I frequent (to be honest, I frequent a lot of stores...frequently) and notice that now their plastic bags are so thin, I can see right through them. I often ask to have my items double-bagged, and the employees must be trained not to do it because the reaction I get is akin to if I had asked them for their debit card and pin number. I simply want to make sure my goods don’t end up all over the street when the bag breaks. Thinner bags are saving the company money...and many don’t even notice this sign of a quiet recession.

   How about coupons? It seems increasingly people are turning to them to save whatever they can. I’ll advocate this any day...even when things are going well, because it’s never a bad idea to keep more of your money while getting the things you need and want. However, I’ve notice that company created coupons are not as plentiful as before, and offer less savings. One store I go to regularly gives out birthday coupons to all the regular customers. This year my envelope was considerably lighter than all the previous years...and the savings isn’t what it used to be.

   Shhhh....a recession really isn’t happening. If it were, we’d be hearing about it on the news and reading about it in the paper. After all, everything we are told is true, and we can’t trust our lying eyes. So close them and repeat after me: there is no recession. Shhhh.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

The Pain of Success

   Success...what does it really mean? Perhaps a more important question is what does it really mean to you? For a long time I had an image of “success” as living on easy street...but as it turns out, there is nothing easy about achieving success. For me, and perhaps for many others, it is a daily grind paid for with blood, sweat and tears. To be successful, you need to ask yourself one very important question: How bad do you want it?

   It’s tough to get a measure of emotion. How do you accurately measure one person’s feelings against the same feelings in another? There is an old saying, actions speak louder than words...and it’s generally accepted that the person doing something about how they feel is probably more vested in that feeling than the person just sitting around talking about it. I could be wrong though, emotions can run very deep. Desire is a very profound emotion, responsible for many acts, both good and bad. A person with a desire for success...pretty much describes nearly everyone. A person doing something to fill that desire describes someone that has answered the question of how bad they want it.

   How bad do you want it? I keep coming back to this because it’s so important. I was recently in a conversation with my son, and he told me a story he heard from a motivational speaker (I can’t remember whom). The story goes something like this...but probably not exactly:

   An old guru offers to reveal the secret to make millions of dollars. a young man takes the offer and is instructed to meet the guru at the beach early the next morning. The young man arrives, dressed in a suit. He is instructed to walk out into the ocean. As he does so, he begins to question the guru on how this will make him rich. The guru stays firm for him to continue walking into the ocean. The young man questions the guru when the water is at his waist and again when it is at his neck. The guru is adamant in telling the man that if he wants to be rich, if he wants to be successful, then he must continue to walk. Finally the man walks far enough that he falls beneath the surface...and he begins to thrash about wildly. The guru grabs the man and brings him to the surface...and reveals the secret of success. He asks the man what he wanted most when he was thrashing about. The young man replies that all he wanted was to be able to breath. The guru then retorts, when he wants success as badly as he wanted to breath...when it becomes as important as his very next breath, then...and only then, will he achieve his goal.

   Now...success for everyone isn’t being filthy rich (although a good segment of the population wouldn’t mind having that particular problem), but the lesson is a good one. How bad do you want it? The person desiring success while sitting on the couch talking about it isn’t drowning to have it. Speaking about drowning...many may not realize it, but it’s a very painful way to die. It ends in cardiac arrest. So...”drowning” for success comes with a lot of pain.

   Just watch an episode of Shark Tank and catch any one of the “sharks” talking about what they had to go through to become multi-millionaires and billionaires, and it becomes evident that there was a lot of pain involved in the process.

   Let me reiterate...success is different for everyone and you have to define what it means to you. In today’s society, for many,  success is maintaining a roof over your head and food on the table for your children. Your personal measure for success isn’t as important as what you are willing to do to attain it...which isn’t as important as actually doing whatever is necessary.

   The pain of bad do you want it?

Monday, December 17, 2012

Caught Behind A Subaru

   Life for me is a constant series of interesting observations. Many of them serve no purpose except to entertain my short attention span, but I occasionally make a few that make me contemplate the possibility that there is something more profound to what I’m observing. A frequent venue for my observations is the wondrous world of traffic. Since I spend a lot of time in it, it’s only logical. My latest observation took place behind a Subaru.

   I hate being behind a Subaru. I‘m an aggressive driver, always more interested in getting where I’m going rather than spending the time trying to get there. I see empty stretches of road as places I need to be, that need to be used, that the rubber in my tires can express the joy of physical contact. So trust me when I say that being behind the driver of a Subaru is counter to this mindset. Let me apologize in advance to all my friends and fact, any reader of this that drives a Subaru. This post isn’t personal...or should I say, not an intentional personal attack. 

   I think it’s important to understand what Subaru means. Perhaps this might reveal why a certain cluster of people are drawn to drive one. "Subaru" is the Japanese word for the star cluster Pleiades that is depicted in the Subaru company logo. It also means "unite" in Japanese. how does this relate to the driving style of those that choose this brand of vehicle? Oh wait...they all drive like they are really looking up at the stars instead of at the road!

   Maybe it’s me. Perhaps I’m deficient and need to sing “I Feel Pretty” when driving. Always one to entertain every possibility, I’ll make sure I pick up Jack Nicholson on my next trip, for encouragement. However, perhaps it’s not just me. Perhaps Subaru drivers really are the most passive people to ever get behind the wheel. Maybe they really have nowhere to go...and every drive is a Sunday drive. I don’t know, I’ve never asked...but I have made some interesting observations.

   The speed limit is a stone tablet with the acceptable speed engraved in it, that constantly smashes the windshield of the Subaru driver. This ensures they don’t go even one mile per hour more over it.

   Subaru drivers are avid readers, and find license plates particularly interesting reads. This explains why, no matter what the circumstance, they always allow other vehicles to cut in front of, or continue ahead of them.

   Turning on red isn’t an option for a Subaru driver, like the rest of us. There is a secret code of conduct punishable by death if violated. This explains why they never, ever, turn on red.

   An addendum to the speed limit is the rule (presumably also punishable by death) that states they MUST drive the prescribed speed limit in the left lane, and must never, ever...move into the right lane so that faster traffic can pass.

   Green lights are a trick of Satan...and must never be trusted. This explains why Subaru drivers apply the brakes and slow down when approaching a sustained green light. Green doesn’t mean “go” means “no.” While other drivers are trying to make the light, Subaru drivers are also trying to make the light...the red light. seems Subaru drivers are indeed united...and stargazing is the perfect compliment to driving in traffic. I know, I can hear you now “Subaru drivers are the safest drivers” but how safe do they make the road when they have everyone trying to pass them...and dreading having to be stuck behind them? How safe are any of us if the unwritten rules of the road are never written...and thus never followed?

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Movie Review: "Skyfall"

   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: 

   Daniel Craig borders on the best Bond for me. I just like his gritty, no-nonsense approach to the role and it’s a nice departure from the suave, cool as ice-water, modus operandi of the past actors that have been Bond. Craig makes Bond human by making him fallible. The best part is that he doesn’t just do this...he delivers everything else that audiences have come to associate with Bond. 

   Javier Bardem is an excellent actor and it seems as though he has fulfilled something destined to be...when he steps into the shoes of Silva, the latest Bond villain. Very few people were born to be a Bond bless Bardem for answering his calling. 

   Naomie Harris is the latest installment of one half of the Bond girls in the film...and although not portrayed as glamorous as Bond women have been in the past, the utility of her role is perfect for the plot, and sets up a nice surprise for longtime fans.

The Plot:

   Really? It’s James Bond, who needs a plot? much as that question might ring true for some, the basic Bond formula was present. Mad villain seeks to cause chaos and destruction, with a side of revenge to round the dish out. It’s pretty straight forward, but let me get into all the explosive details.

   A drive with a list of all the MI6 agents has been stolen and Bond must recover it before it gets into the wrong hands. In the process of recovering the stolen drive, Eve (Harris) has Bond and his adversary in her crosshairs as they fight on the roof of a moving train, and is ordered, by M, to take a shot that has an equal chance of striking Bond. It does, and Bond falls from the train and presumed killed.

   Now in enemy hands, MI6 agents across the world are being executed, and the Prime Minister of England calls for M’s resignation. With agents being killed and computer systems being compromised, M’s office within MI6 headquarters is bombed...the icing on the cake to show that nobody is safe. Enter the return of Bond.

   Bond is put back to active duty and tracks down the man behind all the chaos, Raoul Silva, and ex-MI6 agent with an axe to grind against M. Bond recovers the drive, captures Silva and learns the past history behind the attacks. A prisoner within the new headquarters of MI6, Silva is exactly where he planned to be all along...within striking distance of M. When Q tries to access Silva’s top secret files, the tables are turned...and things get very interesting as Bond must protect M from a rogue agent that is always three steps ahead, with all the bases covered.

The Verdict: 

   Any fan of James Bond will be a fan of this film as well. It is being advertised as the best Bond film ever, but that is a stretch considering the body of work the Bond series covers (25 films). There are hints of a new direction, while paying homage to the classic foundations

   The most visible aspect of Bond in this film is his vulnerability. He is shot, can’t make the grade for active duty, and has trouble compensating for his shortcomings. This is something not really shown in Bond films as he has not been this vulnerable since the beginning of Die Another Day.

   Missing also are the plethora of gadgets, opting instead to keep it very simple and focused on Bond himself. Although Q’s bag of tricks is missing (replaced by his updated hacking ability), the original Aston Martin DB5 makes an appearance and hefty contribution.

   The fact that Bond isn’t the can-do-anything slickster works for this film. It puts it in a place not normally traveled by the (Bond) material. That said, it might have gone too much in this direction since being a Bond film carries with it a certain amount of expectations. Even so, this film was able explode, shoot and poison three and a half (3 1/2) cinnamon sticks, out of five, in this extremely tasty cup of tea. Shaken, not stirred...of course.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Past Forward

   The past should never be forgotten, especially for avoiding a repeat of valuable lessons learned the hard way. There is an old saying that those that forget the past are doomed to repeat it. “Doomed” giving a negative connotation to the saying, with a positive spin of not repeating the negativity. Some might argue, depending on their particular experience, that the past is best forgotten. I suppose there is merit in both philosophies...but how does one go forward if their constant fixation is on...or in, the past?

   If my recent observations are any indication of an answer to this question, then someone living within this situation is having a very hard time indeed. Life is change. Wait...let me amend that, life is constant change. With every moment that passes there is some kind of change taking place. People are a part of that change and those most cognizant of the changes effecting them tend to adapt a bit better than those that are unprepared or unconcerned. Then there are those willfully resistant to the inevitable changes of life...and when a fixation is developed on a point in the past, the contradiction to the present is troublingly evident.

   See...the past is fixed. A past event cannot be changed. The people we knew in the past, have already changed (such is the nature of life) so if a choice is made to fixate on a past event, or person of the past...then focus is lost and distorted. How many times has it been said and heard of a desire to have a person “back?” To have them return to a point they were at in the past. Just think about that for a moment. It really doesn’t make any sense. None of us can become exactly who we were in our past since every moment between then and now has only served to do exactly one thing through our experiences...change us.

   What becomes of all the energy put into a past fixation?’s wasted, on a fixed unchanging point. My personal philosophy is such energy would be better used exploring that same person, in the present (provided that’s something that is desired). It’s more of a “I remember who you were, but who are you now?” After all, any interactions with that person will be an interaction in the present with whomever they have become...not who they used to be. Some reading this might think this is all very elementary, and it is...for some of us. Sadly there are those that are having a hard time grasping this fundamental reality.

   Nostalgia...we all get a taste of it at some point, for something. Every now and then a backward look is given and invites warm and welcome feelings. Sometimes that look invites a renewed sadness. Whatever the case, for our own mental and emotional health, it must remain a “look” and not become a thousand-yard stare. When that happens, like staring in real time, things are still going on around us that we might miss because we aren’t paying attention. Sometimes those things are things we really didn’t want to miss. That’s why a glance in every direction serves very well to paint a complete picture of what is going on around us.

   Let me put it another way. Before crossing the street, we were taught to look both ways. It is good advice, especially if traffic flows in both directions. Now imagine keeping your gaze fixated directly ahead of you (or worse, just walking backwards) while you step off the curb and continue into a busy intersection. Needless to say, bad things will happen. It’s the same when someone stays fixated on a point in the past, as they step off the curb and continue into the busy intersection of the present. Bad things happen.

   Being blindsided by a speeding truck is, more often than naught, fatal. Being blindsided by the speeding conditions of the present, while not normally fatal, can be very unpleasant. Yes, if my observations are any indication, I would have to say that you could fast forward, and look toward the future...while keeping an eye on the present. You can’t past forward...that’s like walking backwards off a cliff you never saw coming. It’s not the fall that kills’s the sudden stop.

Monday, November 26, 2012

A House Divided

   The nation is divided, but we need not be at odds with each least not to the disturbing extreme some seem to be taking the issues. Clearly there are differing opinions on a variety of issues facing our great nation. It gets murky when people start talking of officially dividing the nation...a step back in time, and start enacting violence upon their fellow citizens, even family! We have seen brother-against-brother before and it was as tragic then as it is now.

   Everybody is never going to agree on every point of any candidate that runs for the highest office in the land. There will always be those that think differently. It’s this diversity in thinking that makes this country as great as it is. When I was growing up, it was taught that America was the melting pot of the world. Now it seems that pot has been simmering too long, and some of the good stuff has started to burn. This last election cycle has revealed some disturbing ingredients.

   There is currently a call by a few, and by “few” I mean in comparison to the total population of the country, to secede from the union. There are some that dismiss this, since it’s only a “few”...but that number ranges in the hundreds of thousands collectively, and that has never been a small number from my point of view. Despite that, the inception of this is a divided country, so although the majority of those at odds with the half of the country that were victorious are not seceding, we are now living in a house...divided.

   Politics is a passionate subject. I’d say this is quite obvious now as it seems to trump passion associated with finding a mate. I know emotions are still running high, but let me just say that the world is not coming to an end just because the President won a second term. I mean, if the world comes to an was always going to happen anyway right? That’s what the Mayans said...and don’t get me started on the Book of Revelations!

   I heard the story of Holly Solomon, the woman that made headlines by running her husband over because of her disdain for President Obama...whom her husband didn’t even vote for. The worse tragedy here is the people (and there are surely some) that agree with her actions and her motives behind them. Daniel Solomon sustained life-threatening injuries for a vote he never cast, and even if he had, would have ultimately failed to get President Obama the win in the state of Arizona. Holly’s fear was that the President’s second term was going to create hardship for her family. The reality is she herself has created that hardship by nearly killing her husband. The real point is that despite political differences, we still need to be one nation. The Solomon family was a house a house destroyed.

   As if petitions for secession and family turning on family isn’t enough...there are actual cries for civil war. To clarify, every petition I’ve have seen about secession has been worded as a peaceful act of separation. The problem there is the last time it happened, it was anything but peaceful. Outright acts of civil war are downright insane (in my opinion) and although I’ve had to face the election of a president I did not vote for, did not want...and ultimately (and arguably) was bad for the country, I have never considered the option that my state should not be a part of the country. I never considered committing acts of violence on anyone that didn’t vote as I did...not even when we didn’t find any weapons of mass destruction. Now...the suggestion to take up arms en masse against other citizens...over an election? I'm going to have to pull the insanity card on this one.

   No matter what the future holds, every American is now in the boat together, with one President and one Congress to hash things out. We should do all we can as citizens to facilitate that...and continue to let the process work in the next election cycle. Today, we may be a house divided, but that’s no reason to be a house destroyed tomorrow.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Men and Women: Common Ground

   There has to be a middle ground where the two sexes can meet to really start to understand each other. I mean, men may be from Mars and women might be from Venus, but that doesn’t mean we can’t meet somewhere in the middle here on Earth. With all our differences, there must be some similarities or at least points of reference where we can begin to build a real understanding about each other beyond “all men this” and “all women that.”

    Ok, lets start there. All men are dogs. No...not really, but it’s a common saying among women. It’s not totally without merit since the nature of men to seek out gratuitous sex is more fact than myth, but sweeping generalizations are rarely accurate or advance the cause of understanding. So the first thing than needs to happen is to take “all” out of any statement that blankets the sexes (snicker) and replace it with either “some” or “most” depending on what it is and the available data to support the assertion.

   Now, let me be clear, I’m not an expert on this subject. In fact, I’m severely unqualified since I’m a man (hear the women roar), but I do have some ideas about the subject I’d like to share. My personal observations have led me to a hypothesis that most women are generally more emotional than men...and most men are more intellectually grounded. I’m NOT saying that men aren’t emotional (of course we are), and I’m NOT saying that women aren’t intellectual (of course they are). I’m simply saying that women generally approach things from an emotional view and men generally approach those same things from an intellectual one. Are there exceptions to this...of course!

   Once I came to this conclusion (most unscientifically I might add), I went about exploring the effects of this within the simple conversations and complex communications men and women have. A simple question of “What do you think about this” takes on very different implications depending on who is asking the question...and who is answering. If a woman is asking another woman, or a man another man, then this is a safe question and the conversation will progress in a forward direction. However, if either sex is asking the other...then the miscommunication door is swung wide open, and both parties step through.

   A man asks that question wanting to know the thoughts, the actual intellectual process. A woman asks it also wanting to know the thoughts, but not driven by the intellectual process, but by an emotional one. It would simply be easier for her to ask how does one feel...but those words are interchangeable for a woman. Thoughts and feelings blend for them like peanut butter and chocolate. On the flip side...if she asks a man how he feels about something, he seems to be clueless that she is asking for him to tap into his emotional reservoir, and not call upon his intellectual reasoning. Seems to me that if both sexes take each other literally...a lot of issues need not arise.

   Now...all that said, it’s unlikely anything will change between the least not overnight in large numbers. The common ground is not to take each other literally either. That was just a simple observational effort in problem solving. No, the real answer to all this, the real common ground both sexes should meet on is simply an understanding of where each is coming from. Men must understand and remember the emotional base a woman comes from, and interact with her on that base. Tell her what you think, but then go on to tell her how you feel AND ask her how she feels (especially about your response). Women must understand and remember the intellectual base a man comes from and interact with him on that base. Easier said than done to put aside how you feel, but the gains in actual communication will be great.

   Of course, I could be totally wrong in this whole post...but I’ll take the “A” for effort in trying to bridge the gap between the sexes.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Movie Review: "Taken 2"

  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: 

   I’ll say right away that Femke Janssen and Maggie Grace played excellent roles. But if we’re going to discuss this must be acknowledged that this is quite clearly a Liam Neeson movie. Neeson returns as Bryan Mills, with all the butt-kicking skill and focus that he had in the first film. Neeson delivers (of course) and has you thinking through the whole film “Why does anybody even mess with this guy?”

The Plot:

   Bryan Mills is always on time for his appointments...especially those that are most important to him, like taking his daughter for driving lessons. After having here kidnapped before, and barley getting her back in time, he cherishes every moment. The problem is...he killed many people to get his daughter back, and the relatives of those people aren’t very happy with Mills.

   Offering to take his daughter and ex-wife away for a vacation at the end of his business trip, Mills has no idea that forces are in motion to exact revenge against him...and that revenge must take the form of nothing less than the murder of his family, before his own death.

   Once events begin to happen, there is no stopping the collision between the resolve of those that want Mills and his family dead...and his resolve to keep his family alive. Just as in the first film, somebody must get “taken”...and Mills must use every skill he has to get them back...even when he himself is among those taken.

The Verdict: 

   If you are a fan of the first film, you’ll be a fan of this one. The difference I saw is that this film spent a little more time with the development of the character relationships...and I thought it added to the tension of the film when it later showed these people is serious danger.

   The expression of Neeson at finding out his daughter has a boyfriend is absolutely priceless. Seeing him bound and helpless while his wife is hung upside down bleeding out from a partially slit throat...was heartbreakingly disturbing. This movie goes places the first film didn’t and the ride is indeed very wild.

   There is very little humor in this film, although there is some at the beginning. Once the movie gets going, it’s intense and gripping drama with mega doses of action to keep your eyes glued to the screen. I found myself wondering why anyone would continue to feed bodies into the meat grinder that is Neeson...but glad they did. It was enough to dip three and a half (3 1/2) cinnamon sticks, out of five, in this extremely tasty cup of tea.

Monday, October 29, 2012

The Death of Journalism, The Rise of Spin

   News programs and papers have long ago abandoned the tenets of journalism, in favor of rallying the personal point of view of those that run them, and those that fund them. It’s become quite disgusting and really sad that you can no longer just simply get the news. I mean, just an objective report about what’s happening. Instead, you are presented with the seen through the viewpoint of those presenting it. That’s not journalism...that’s spin.

   Let me be crystal clear in the assertion I’m about to make. Newspapers should not be endorsing anyone...except the reader. The same goes for those on television reporting the news...but I’ll get into that later as there is a slight difference from what a newspaper does. In my neck of the woods, the Boston Herald has endorsed Mitt Romney. Across the country, the Salt Lake Tribune has endorsed President Obama. Both men are reeling in the endorsements of newspapers all over the country...and I’m just stunned. Has nobody ever stopped to think about what this all means? It means that every paper that has endorsed a political candidate has invalidated any claim they sought to make of doing objective journalism.

   Why is this important? Well...I remember a time, when I was a child, that I hated to watch the news because I thought it was bland and boring. They were only reporting the facts. I’d look to my mother and ask her what she thought of the reports, and she would give me here take on it. Soon we’d have discussions about what we got from the report (as much as can be had with a seven year old) as I began to form my own opinions. It was a time of being presented with the facts...then you were on your own to determine what they meant to you. Those days are long gone. Media outlets long ago realized the power they had over a now trusting public, got rid of all the real journalists...and started injecting opinions as fact. It’s disgusting.

   I hear cries all the time of the “Liberal Media” and “Conservative Spin” and both sides think the other is pulling one over. They are right, of course. This can easily be seen by watching MSM and FOX...where both clearly slant in opposite directions. It’s like you’re forced to watch both just to get a complete picture of what the heck is going on...but it’s a donut instead since the middle is still missing! To be fair...programs like  the Rachel Maddow Show or the Sean Hannity Show are supposed to be what they’s the whole purpose of their existence. Kudos if you watch these programs and understand it isn’t news you’re watching, but intense and carefully crafted spin. My condolences on the loss of your common sense if this fact escapes you.

   No...I have no beef with those shows. My beef is with MSN “news” and FOX “news” (and all other networks and newspapers that operate the same way) because that slant is how events are being reported. Where has the journalistic integrity gone? Why can’t the anchors and reporters simply sit behind the desk and tell me what’s going on...and keep their opinions to themselves (or worse, the opinions of their bosses). That’s what it really boils down to..."I own this media outlet, and I’m going to push my opinion through it." push me, I push back.

   When was the last time you saw a news program reporting negatively about a company that sponsors them? It doesn’t matter how newsworthy the story is. If Pharmaceutical Company X kills thousands of people with their latest poison, but has a commercial spot during the news...then those deaths aren’t news. Like I said...disgusting.

   I see it all the time...and they have the audacity to slam anyone seeking information from the internet. I think it’s amusing that they try to drill us with mantra’s like “Fair and Balanced” when it’s as obvious as rain being wet, that they aren’t. I’d call it sad, except the really sad part is the millions of people that still buy into all this...that have never known a time, like I recall, when news was boring because it was just the facts, or have forgotten (or missed the great switcheroo) the days of respectable journalism.

   When did journalism die? I’ll tell you when it died. It died the day we became willing receivers of propaganda, instead of seekers of truth. It died when we stopped taking personal responsibility for the information we chose to feed ourselves. It died when we supported those that were spinning us...instead of turning the channel on them, or leaving their “news” rag on the shelf, to show them that our brains won’t be washed...and the spin cycle is over on their machine.

   Now...the only question that matters in all of this is...when will journalism be resurrected?