Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Movie Review: "Fast Five"

   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: 
   Vin Diesel has become a brand that always delivers exactly what you expect...and this movie is no exception. He reprises his role with all the “Dieselness” of the appearances before, and then some. Paul Walker continues to be the perfect counter and compliment to Diesel, fully submerging himself in the complete 180 degree turn of his character from the direction of the very first movie. Dwayne Johnson is the metaphoric “icing on the cake” and just like Diesel, is now a brand that comes with high expectations...and also like Diesel, delivers on the goods.

The Plot: 
   Dominic Toretto (Diesel) is on the run from the law and is looking to make one last score...the biggest yet, to finally be free of his past. Hiding in Brazil and looking to rip off the biggest and most powerful criminal in the country, Toretto can’t do it without the help of ex-cop turned bad guy, Brian O’Conner (Walker). 
   Assembling a team of their old crew, along with some new faces, they have called upon the best in every area of expertise in pulling off an impossible heist. To make the situation more difficult, federal agent Luke Hobbs (Johnson) has been assigned to bring Toretto to justice...and Hobbs always gets his man.
   Caught in a race against time to make the biggest score yet and stay one step ahead of the law, the pace is blistering as Toretto and O’Conner navigate their way through Brazil for one last job. 

The Verdict: 
   “Fast Five” speeds it’s way with an adrenaline rush of high speed, high risk action. Anyone that is a fan of the first four movies is going to love this one even more.
   The movie never intends to win any Oscars, indeed, you must suspend your belief in reality to take even a fraction of what’s presented as vaguely in the realm of possibility. The opening action sequence is ample proof of this.
   The showdown between Diesel and Johnson is reason enough to pay the price of admission (or in this case, rental fee) as this sequence alone is more than worth it’s weight in gold. When I tell you to hang onto your seat when these two meet unrestrained and undeterred...I’m not kidding. This scene is absolutely epic...and easily, along with the rest of the film, marinates three and half cinnamon sticks...out of five, in my cup of tea.

Monday, February 20, 2012

My Tax Dollars...Your Burden

   “My tax dollars pay for your salary!”

   Ok...since I’m also a tax payer, it’s safe to say that my tax dollars also pay for my salary, so essentially, I‘m paying myself. I’m my own boss...but I already knew this. I get a kick out of people that brandish the fiery fist of power fueled by their tax dollars. In fact, I get a kick out of the very idea that they think they have any ownership at all over the money that is confiscated from them by our government. Yes...confiscated, because it is taken from you wether you want to give it or not.
   Let me lay this out for you. You’re money is in your pocket, under your mattress or in your bank account. That money that was in your check before Uncle Sam confiscated it...WAS yours. By the time you get your check it’s gone, and isn’t yours anymore. Many reading this won’t get that, but I’ll just direct those people back to the beginning of this paragraph wherein I explain where your money is.
   Once the idea of where your money is and what makes it yours...namely being in your possession to do with as you please, it’s easy to understand why I don’t get upset like so many others do when they complain about how their tax dollars are being wasted. The government wastes matter where it comes from, so why is the money they take from you so special? Perhaps you think because it used to be yours that you have some claim or say about what is done with it? Right...tell you what, the next time you willingly give your money out, please try to enforce what is done with it after it is no longer in your possession. How about if your employer demand and enforce what you do with your money after you cash the check? Will that work for you? No...? Won’t work the other way around either.
   How about when your money is taken from you by force? If you’re held at knife point and your money is taken, it is returned to you if the authorities can capture and recover the thief in time. In essence, it’s still your long as it can be recovered, and if not...there is always legal recourse to get it back or punishment issued for the taking. Funny how that system doesn’t work for you when Uncle Sam is the one robbing you. I don’t want my money taken from me, it’s being done against my wishes. I think I’ll call the police next Friday and report the money stolen from my check. I’m optimistic that justice will prevail...who’s with me?
   Let’s get real. No matter how much you cry about how the government is spending “your” money, they aren’t going to stop taking it from you nor are they going to give any back beyond what they decree is all right to take from you to begin with. They can fire every delinquent government worker, cut all the programs you don’t like, close every loophole you can find...and you still won’t find a check in your mailbox for the difference in savings. Am I saying it’s ok for all that stuff to be going on? Heck no. I’m simply saying the energy spent in that area of protest could be better spent stopping the crime that’s committed every payday!
   I can hear it now “...but we need taxes to pay for roads and schools and defense...” I’m talking about the income tax, not all the other taxes that pay for all that stuff. I’m talking about the income tax that’s written as being “voluntary”...but see what happens when you don’t volunteer the money. It gets volunteered for you and you become an example of what not to do.
   “No taxation without representation”...but I’m not being represented, I’m being robbed! Somebody call Batman.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

The Girl Code

   Just when you think you know it all...or at least a great deal of it, there comes that moment that clearly cements the fact that you don’t know nearly as much as you think you do. I don’t go around thinking I know it all, although I know a few people that would dispute that. I don’t even purport to know a great deal as I try to always live the philosophy of keeping my cup empty. Even with that, it seems there is never a shortage of moments, that very much cement for me the fact that I don’t know nearly as much as I would like to know...or as much as other people think, I think, I do.
   A great example of this is my recent education in “The Girl Code.” Now, I knew there was some sort of unspoken set of rules or perhaps even telepathic communication between all females...but I never thought they organized themselves to such a degree as to have an actual code by which they all try to follow. As if that wasn’t shocking enough, I was being educated in the code by my thirteen year old daughter that seems to know far more than I’m probably comfortable with. I blame the usual games and rock music, although I’m sure Facebook is really the culprit, working in tandem with adolescence. 
   So there I was, getting the four-one-one on why a cute guy has  to be denied being liked since it will go to his head and further enhance his self knowledge of being cute. Especially if he exhibits confidence...grounds for being ignored! 
   I always thought jealousy was an emotional response to the perception or reality of being replaced by another. I never imagined it was a loaded weapon, one of many, in the female arsenal under the code. If you want him to come to you...push him away. Yup, this certainly makes more sense than simply being inviting. Sarcasm aside, the code may not be logical, but it exists as the bane of male interaction.
   Dating your friends ex-boyfriend is a serious code violation...punishable by hurt feelings and possible loss of friendship. This makes perfect sense also...I mean, he is an “ex”...not wanted and no longer a viable contender, so of course, maintain a distance of at least 300 feet! My humor was lost on my daughter...and probably won’t make me popular here either, and after it was revealed that feelings almost always linger, I started to see the light (uh-oh).
   Now...two girls like the same guy. In the mind of the guy (this is a complicated subject and will be discusses in a later post), this is most certainly viewed as a win/win situation. However, we are not dealing with the mind of a guy, we’re dealing with the Girl Code...and there can only be one outcome for the guy in this scenario: LOSE! Why...? The code states that you cannot go out with a guy that your friend if both girl friends happen to like the same guy, and both follow the code...he will remain as he was himself. Maybe now is a good time to note that the code also calls for extreme sneakiness in certain cases...especially in breaking it...or, perhaps I’ve said too much.

   The Girl Code is vast and there is so much more that I’m not revealing (under threat of harm) since it would make this post into a fourteen volume encyclopedia instead of a quick glance into a world we (guys) have no business being in. To summarize the spirit of the code in terms a male can understand...”don’t hurt my feelings as I complicate simple situations by indirectly approaching the idea of a solution, before I reject the notion that such a solution actually exists.”
   The code is extensive and complicated...and although I’m still learning it, I haven’t fully ruled out my theory of female telepathic communication and empathy. After all...there doesn’t seem to be any limit to the female psyche.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

The Burning Bridge

   Have you ever witnessed the destruction of a bridge being engulfed by fire? The crackle of the flames as the thick, acrid smoke climbs into the air. The radiant heat as the fire consumes the wood and compromises the metal. The way I describe it...many probably have not witnessed this firsthand. Suppose though, that this bridge isn’t really a bridge, but a relationship that’s been cultivated...and opportunity that’s been offered. Look at it through these metaphoric lenses, and I bet there are plenty who have witnessed the devastation of a burning bridge.
   It’s tough to tell the future. It’s mostly guesswork based on probabilities with a hint of possibility mixed in for good measure. With complex situations such as personal relationships and expanded networks, there really is no telling what direction life will flow at any given moment. Every decision is thought to be the right one...except when we’re making the wrong one, and it isn’t until we look back with the intent or anticipation of revisiting familiar ground, that we notice the hazy cloud of smoke from the scorched bridge we have burned. We’ll call this phenomenon the “surprise inferno”...and chalk it up to careless actions taken without the benefit of heartfelt contemplation.
   The surprise inferno can happen to anyone, but mostly it occurs when emotions collide within, causing extreme friction until a spark is ignited...causing a flame with which the embers fly freely toward an unsuspecting bridge. Sometimes these bridges can be rebuilt or repaired, depending on the extent of the damage and the insurance policy we have invested in the situation or relationship. A large investment usually can pay large dividends...but nothing is for certain.

   It goes without saying (although I’m saying it), that the accidental flame is preferable to the intentional scorching...depending on which side of the bridge you’re on. There are times when we set fire to the bridge deliberately...a premeditated act of arson, wherein we are looking to make a bridge nothing but ashes scattered in the wind. We’ll call this occurrence the “fire bug”...and credit it as the act of deep seeded emotions thoroughly filtered through profound thought. We’ll call it that, but the truth is it can be one or the other...and still have the same result. The occurrence is not accidental...and the burnt husk that used to be a bridge is not so easily rebuilt.
   We all laugh (or perhaps some don’t), at the clip of the lottery prank where somebody is led to believe they have won the lottery...and goes on to burn bridge after bridge (deliberate or accidental?) in a flurry of celebratory delight...only to find out moments afterwards that they didn’t win anything...and have instead, lost quite a bit.

   It would behoove us all to reflect and recognize the bridges we’ve burnt...and possibly notice the ones still burning. I’ve “fire-bugged” a few, but I know I have no intention of crossing that chasm again...and I’m not inclined to fight the fires of any still burning since I didn’t set the blaze. However, I am very mindful of some of the wonderful structures I come across that connect me to places I’ve never been before...and have learned that sometimes a few minor repairs can preserve the bridge, and it need not be turned to cinder.
   Sometimes the bridges we build enhance the superhighway of life and expand our travel options...and other times they take us into areas we wish didn’t exist. The fortunate among us build more bridges than we burn...and burn the right ones when the blaze needs to be set.