Thursday, January 26, 2012

Movie Review: "The Dilema"

  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: 
   Vince Vaughn is always a joy to watch for me as I’m personally in tune with his particular brand of humor. He brings it here, as always, as a man that has learned his best friend’s spouse is having an affair. Kevin James is a great comedian, but his role wasn’t supportive of his talents. Winona Ryder is the cheating spouse and plays the role superbly as a woman that has conviction in her actions.
The Plot: 
   Ronny Valentine (Vaughn) is half of a partnership of struggling inventors trying to land into a big time deal in the automotive industry. His best friend, Nick Brannen (James), is the other half and the true brains of the operation. Nick is unaware that his marriage has deeper problems than the secrets he is keeping while Ronny has stumbled upon a secret that will change everything...Nick’s wife is having an affair.
   Geneva (Ryder) is Nick’s wife. Seemingly faithful and happy, she is having a steamy affair with a younger man...and enjoying every bit of it until Ronny confronts her with the fact that he knows her secret. 
   What happens next is a cluster incidents and moral soul searching as Ronny must decide if he is going to tell Nick...and if so, when he should, as they are on the cusp of the biggest deal of their lives. The whole time, Ronny is compelled to continue uncovering answers even at the cost of raising more question...mostly about himself.
The Verdict: 
   “The Dilema” was a great idea with excellent casting, but didn’t deliver to anywhere near what I expected given the subject and talent.

   Ultimately it was the script that dropped the ball to the point that even the usual entertaining delivery of Vaughn couldn’t pull it off. Ryder was excellent in her role of estranged wife and brought a sinister quality to her character that made the movie much darker than expected for a presumed comedy.

   Kevin James played his role well, it just wasn’t a part that was written to really showcase his comedic talent and the dramatic weight of the role, coupled with Ryder’s delivery had me heavily relying on Vaughn to make this the comedy it could’ve been. Instead, it was the comedy that never was...leaving only two cinnamon sticks, out of five, in my cup of tea.

Monday, January 23, 2012

I Don’t Know...

   Education is a major concern in this country on many levels. There is much to be said about the educational system and how it can be improved. Unfortunately, this post isn’t about that. Learning is a process, a life long process in my opinion, that never ends as long as we remain open to the truth that there are things we simply do not know. Instead of the focus being on what we know or what we don’t know...perhaps it should be on what we are learning?
   Regardless of what formal education level is achieved, the process of taking in new information is ongoing. The choice to retain and apply any new information is a personal one and, in my opinion, beneficial to anyone that does so on a continual basis in all aspects of life. Education is not just school books and tests...although I will advocate that anyone reading this pursue that endeavor to highest of their ability. For many of us there comes a time when school is over...but when we realize that learning is not, we continue to grow is great and unique ways.
    My schooling didn’t go beyond high school, but I was fortunate to recognize the building blocks high school gave me for what they really were...keys to unlock unknown information. I have always been inspired by the bar scene in Good Will Hunting:

...and of course the classic line “ dropped a hundred and fifty grand on an education you could have got for a dollar fifty in late charges at the public library.”  

   Although it’s a simplistic synopsis and not entirely accurate when considering certain subjects, I advocate autodidacticism...or more accurately, learning through teaching oneself. Take Prince for example...a self taught musician and producer, and very successful by the publicly accepted standard, even though it’s been said he simply makes his music for himself. My point is, learning is a process that must be willingly engaged to be most effective and our “education” doesn’t begin or end with formal schooling.
   I have found that for me, there is no shame or embarrassment in uttering the phrase “I don’t know.” It is simply an invitation to expand my horizons by learning...something, anything. Education is the best key to unlocking the opportunities of I encourage everyone to educate themselves continually, making today full of possibilities...and tomorrow much like today.
   Please peruse the links below as they have some very interesting information about the subject of self-education.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Are Ee Ess Pee Ee See Tee....

   RESPECT. Like the title of this post, for some people it seems like a foreign language...some lost ancient or newly discovered alien language. Some people have no clue what respect is and therefore don’t know how to give it or can barley understand when they receive it. It’s a shame really...but not nearly as tragic as those that know exactly what it is, and simply refuse to show it due to an obvious character flaw. This may be a minor issue to some, but I can guarantee, with certainty, that it’s a very big deal for others.

   A Pandora’s Box of definitions is opened up when searching for the meaning of the word “respect.” I was genuinely surprised to see whole websites dedicated to defining every meaning and form of the word...since it has so many. This just further validated the confusion the title of this post creates. As is my way...I have added the links to these and other reference materials concerning the meaning of respect below. 
   In our everyday usage and common meaning of respect, it seems we mostly mean a state of being courteous and well behaved when interacting with other people. Being courteous does come up within the meaning of respect, but most people, when asked how does someone get respect...give the overwhelming answer is that it is earned. If respect is to be earned, then how does that apply to the various forms and situations that we apply it to?
   Respect your elders: They have lived a long time and gone through much. Show them respect because they have earned it through living longer...and presumably going through more than you.

   Respect your parents: The went through a lot to have you...(a lot of fun in the beginning), and sacrificed to provide for you. They have earned respect by being the very reason you are here.
   Respect your boss: No, not really...but respect the position they hold within the environment you work in because they (presumably) earned that position of authority over you through hard work and meeting the criteria for holding that position. I did say “presumably”...
   Respect people: The general practice of being courteous to everyone unless you are otherwise given cause to act differently. Being a human being that practices this earns one the right to receive this in return...after all, respect is mutual. 

   Respect yourself: Arguably the most important of all...and quite frankly, you owe it to yourself. If you haven’t earned the respect of yourself, you probably haven’t earned the respect of others.

   These are probably the most common forms and applications of respect in our modern society and don’t seem too terribly difficult to grasp in my opinion. However, before I’m accused of leaving out another common form...let me just say that I could have written the entire post on this next one...

   Respect women: This one was already covered under “respect people”...except there is a lot more to this particular issue that has more to do with the interaction of the differences between males and females than just common courtesy. This is especially true when a female is inserted into a predominately male environment expecting equal treatment from men that practice inequality with every passing lecherous thought. The problem is so entrenched that the question has become “why men don’t respect women”....and this attempt to answer: is very interesting.

   I think the best summary for this, since I could truly write another post entirely, is to treat women as you would wish your mother or sister to be treated, treat all people as you wish people to treat you...and treat yourself like the most important person there is. When all this is forgotten, things get...interesting, but not in a good way.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Political Straight Talk...?

   Before I get started, I would like to acknowledge the oxymoronic title of this post. Politics can be cutthroat and politicians rarely talk straight to anyone about anything. Everybody has an opinion when it comes to politics and it’s one of the three subjects avoided when trying to maintain peace...the other two being sports and religion. I have an opinion as well, but it isn’t nearly as important as my observations. A friend told me this would be a risky post...but I think the risk is greater not to write about what I see.
   I’ve observed that it doesn’t matter what your party affiliation is, a politician seems to want one thing most of either get elected, or get re-elected. I was raised a Democrat but have found my way into the Independent status mostly because I think for myself and make critical observations, not just about politics, but life in general. Looking at all the tenets of both the Republican and Democratic parties...I can say with confidence that I don’t line up with every single one of them in either party. I like some ideas from why commit wholly to one?
   It was said to me that this country is in dire need of statesmen instead of politicians. After hearing the criteria of each, I agreed. I found this comparison very interesting:

Politicians run to win — Statesmen run to serve
Politicians are ideologues — Statesmen are open-minded
Politicians, “it’s all about me” — Statesmen, “it’s all about them”
Politicians focus on the next election — Statesmen focus on the future
The final definition of “statesmen” on Wikipedia defines it as:

As it relates to American history, "statesman" represents an individual, who after being elected to office, holds firm to their oath to defend and uphold the US Constitution within their duty as an elected official.
   I think it’s important to know the difference between a politician and a statesmen, because if we don’ can we ever tell when there is a statesmen among the politicians? 
   Which brings me back to the subject of political straight talk. It doesn’t exist if you’re a politician. I recently watched the 2012 Republican debates and was deeply disturbed...just as I was during the 2008 Democratic debates. I just don’t understand why the “b.s.” card is never pulled when a yes or no question isn’t answered by the words “yes”...or “no.” I blame us...we the people, for not holding any of these politicians accountable for the words, or lack of words, that come out of their mouths. We allow the politicians to dazzle us with slogans, sound bites, and applause seeking monologues by constantly voting them into office without ever having answered the questions...or committed to a specific point of view when framed in an unpopular light.
   We further shoulder the blame for our own demise when we let ourselves get so polarized by ideology...over issues, that we simply “tow the party line.” The only line I’m towing is my own since I choose to be a free thinker and make decisions that are in my best interest. To clarify, my best interest isn’t what a politician tells me it is, it’s those situations that have directly effected my day-to-day living.
   I took this risk to write a post about a subject that divides more than it unites because the national situation is getting worse daily, and a nation divided is conquered first by it’s own hubris. If there is a starting point of agreement that can begin to bring unity...then let it be that we will reject the curve of political straight talk...and embrace the sense in our own minds as it becomes more common.