Sunday, June 24, 2012

Movie Review: “Pandorum”

   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’ve always enjoyed the performances of Dennis Quaid and have always found him to be a very capable to deliver well on most roles I have seen him in. He delivers well here as Lt. Payton, a man that can’t remember who he is...or why he’s in the situation he’s in. Ben Foster (Corporal Bower) is in the same boat (pun intended) and does an excellent job of convincing me that he’s in a seriously desperate situation...and every option isn’t a good one. Cam Gigandet hasn’t done much in his career to separate him from the Hollywood field of actors, but he does deliver a decent performance here as the shady Corporal Gallo...establishing himself as someone to keep an eye on throughout the film.
The Plot: 
   A few of the crew of the 60K passenger sleeper ship, Elysium, awake after a power surge to find themselves alone in the dark...with no recollection of who they are, or how they came to be where they are. As they explore their surroundings, they come across other people...but make the eerie discovery that they are not alone in their environment. There are others...very hostile, and seemingly not human...although they are humanoid. 
   As they venture deeper into the ship, they discover that even amongst the human remnants, there are those that have digressed into feeding of their own...but that’s not the worst of their problems. The ship has entered a critical overload phase that must be aborted...or everyone and every...thing, on the ship will die in a horrible explosion. 
   As they race against time...and against the odds as they must travel into the lair of their inhuman neighbors, more of their story begins to unfold and it seems that suffering from Pandorum ( a psychological condition brought on by extended deep space travel and hypersleep) is a very real condition and the heart of why they are in their current situation. They also discover that they are not who they think they are...and memories of the truth have thrust them all into a very fatal situation.
The Verdict: 
   This film starts off by putting you on edge and is very reluctant to release you from that situation. The problem of not knowing who you are, where you are or why you are there is compounded by the eerie surroundings and constant threat of being discovered by creatures for which you are simply a food source. The fact that much of the movie sets you up for jump-out-of-your-skin moments...plays out perfectly, especially when some of the discoveries made don’t achieve that effect...but instead deliver something much worse in the form of the “creep out.”
   All this is compounded by the fact that you are watching a genuine mystery film...and are being pulled along with nobody qualified to solve the mystery except through happenstance and tragedy. The dark and up close directing gives this film a very personal feel to doubt to increase the uneasy feeling that is thrust upon you from the very beginning. 
   When the ball gets rolling with a good head of steam, it plows through everything resembling a boring film...and delivers great edgy action, with the added twist of using incredible misdirection to conceal the complete truth of who and what everyone and everything is. I would classify this as a science-fiction/ horror film..but it wouldn't be completely accurate if I didn’t add “mystery” to the description. It was certainly a brand of tea I favor...and served up three and a half, out of five, cinnamon sticks in my cup.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Health for Profit

   I think the title of this post says it all...but for those that don’t realize and understand the standard by which we all live under...the complete “industry” health has become, you need not remain ignorant as we are about to take a trip down a particularly unpleasant rabbit hole.
   I’d like to say that I remember the good old days, but they were good and gone by the time I showed up on the scene. I heard about a time when doctors cured and treated ailments because they took an oath to do so...not because it was profitable. I’m not saying doctors shouldn’t get paid...I think they should, and quite well. I just think medicine shouldn’t be an industry that sacrifices health for money. 
   Take cancer for example. Where is the profitability in offering a cure? Once cancer is gone, all the money and funding for research is gone as well. Millions will be out of a job from those that make the chemicals for chemo to those that answer the phone at the institute. The well will run dry and billions of dollars will be lost. Tell me, if YOU had the cure right now...would you give it away? Sell it? Suppress it to continue to profit from treatment? You might be repulsed to know that your personal views and those that fuel the industry are miles apart.
   This type of thinking isn’t new. It’s the mind of business. I don’t have a problem with business...but I think it’s sick when business is conducted at the expense of people's lives. I was watching an episode of “Shark Tank” recently and there was a man that invented a nasal screen. Without going into too much detail, let me just say it was an awesome invention, and he got a deal from one of the sharks. The most significant part of his presentation was when he was asked if he had approached the medical industry with his invention...and they made him an offer to buy it outright for the purpose of burying it. He said...on the show, that they responded that they wouldn’t back him for a long term partnership because they could make much more money in treating symptoms, than in preventing infection first.
   Imagine that. Preventive medicine takes a back seat to treatment...for money. This is the sick world we live in. It gets worse when the milestones set on healthy benchmarks are constantly moved to catch a larger portion of people, just to increase the profit margin. One year your not a diabetic...and the next year you are. The numbers haven’t changed, your health is the same...but the scale of what is considered diabetic has been moved, and with that move millions of healthy people are suddenly unhealthy...and need “treatment.” 
   I remember when heartburn was just a simple condition easily remedied by apple cider vinegar. Now it’s a “disease” called acid reflux...and you MUST have “Brand X” to remain healthy and free of it. See the good old days had us investigating what we eat, when we eat, and in what combinations to determine why we get heartburn.’s a disease. Yeah...right.
   I’m a staunch advocate for taking your health into your own hands. I’m not saying you should become a kitchen table doctor, but I’m saying everyone should take responsibility for their own health to seek and acquire knowledge that is in their best interest...instead of the interests of others that have no interest in you. It shouldn’t be about how much is made off your sickness...but how much is gained by your health.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Total Fitness

   Fitness begins with the decision to become...and remain, fit. A “total” picture of fitness transcends just the physical application. The gym and cross-fit will only work the body...but what about the mind? What about the spirit? Certainly a taxing physical experience can put both to the test, but what avenue can be used to strengthen them? I’m of the belief that total fitness should not exclude these other aspects...and we should strive to make them just as strong as our bodies.
   I’ve written before about incorporating exercise into your daily routine and encourage everyone to find a way to work it out. Every little bit that can be done will contribute to a healthier and more durable you. With so many ailments striking so many of us these days, it just doesn’t make sense not to do something that might help combat the onslaught of disease. Even if it’s just taking a walk once a day for an hour...the health benefits are tremendous compared to sitting on the couch in front of the television instead. As I said earlier though...the physical is just a part of the total fitness picture, and there are seemingly endless resources for attaining whatever level of physical fitness you desire. Seek...and you shall find.
   How does one engage in mental fitness? I’m of the belief that the mind must be exercised like a muscle to become stronger. It must be challenged and vigorously engaged to sharpen itself. I think there are many ways to do this, but with all the individual preferences we all have, it’s ultimately up to you to decide where a mental challenge is. For many, puzzles designed to stimulate thought are an excellent place to begin...and continue. Chess has been known to stimulate the brain and there are many websites that have various types of mental problems to solve that will stimulate, and exercise, the mind.
   Feeding the mind new information and retaining that information all goes into building the mind into something stronger. Problem solving and being forced to seek alternate areas of reasoning contribute to a healthier and stronger mental capacity. I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that certain foods contribute to better mental health. The bottom line is don’t neglect your mind in favor of your body since they both operate together.
   Now...writing about exercising the spirit is going to start a debate, no doubt. I’ll end the debate before it even gets started by saying that if you don’t believe you have a spirit or any spirituality about you, then your reading finished with the previous paragraph.
   Exercising the spirit is going to vary greatly depending upon what exactly you believe in. I can safely make a blanket statement here (something not normally accomplished in matters of religion or faith) and say that whatever belief you hold to your spirituality, that regular and profound exploration of that belief will give your spirit the workout I’m speaking of. 
   Total fitness...body, mind and spirit, in excellent health...and regularly engaged in exercise to remain that way. Are you “totally” fit...?

I Apologize...But I’m Not Sorry

   It may come as a shock to some to find out that apologizing and being sorry aren’t the same thing. Many people have had the childhood experience (probably mostly boys I’d wager) of having a difference in opinion about a subject with a classmate, and being forced to move on from it by shaking hands and apologizing to each other. I certainly can remember being made to apologize...when I wasn’t the least bit sorry about the incident. Even now as adults, there are some instances where apologies must be issued, either formal or otherwise, and the sentiment of being sorry isn’t really present with the offering.
   There is another component to apologizing, that shouldn’t really weigh in when one is truly repentant, but is often given importance in the making-up-and-moving-on dance...and that is the acceptance of the apology. Think about it...if you’re really sorry for something and offer an apology from that perspective, then it shouldn't matter if you’re apology is acknowledged. Just so what I’m saying is clear...a person that is sorry will seek to make amends, but will not hold the door of contention open should those amends be rebuked.
   A stark contrast to someone who apologizes, but levies a quick and directed expletive soon after, when that apology is not met with acceptance from the intent of closure. I’ve seen this often...and every time it’s evident that the apologizer was just seeking to get the other to move past the issue for their own benefit...and wasn’t really intent on any sort of amendment stemming from feelings of being truly apologetic for their part in the situation.
   It’s worth noting that not every situation gets resolved in a “happily ever after” way. I don’t think any situation really does since the reality of any situation is that we remain human, and victims to our nature. Sometimes, things have gone on so long or gone so far...or were just so bad, that even a sincere apology with the intent on making amends just doesn’t facilitate an amicable resolution. For example:

   I think in the sincerity of being sorry and wanting to make some sort of offering to balance the scales, that the punishment should fit the crime. I’m not saying that all situations where an apology might be appropriate are criminal...I’m just saying that “sorry” doesn't cut it when you wear your brother’s brand new sneakers on the sly, and destroy them in the process. Replacing the destroyed item speaks more to being truly repentant for the loss...than simply empty words to move past the incident.

   I read a poem once (after I wrote it of course) that I think is an appropriate summary of this discussion. I apologize in advance if you don’t like...but I’m not sorry I wrote it (“sorry,” I just couldn’t resist).

You can't keep saying sorry, see something must be shown
You can't keep saying sorry and think that will atone
If your eldest child was murdered, slain within the street
And the perpetrator said "sorry"; do you think he should go free?
Two convicted killers in court on sentencing day
Looked in the eyes of the family of the victim they had slain
One convict with a smirk on his face and his head held low
Said to the family "I'm sorry," now can I get parole?
The other convict spoke, with words that rang out true
I'm deeply, deeply sorry for the pain that I caused you
With tears in his eyes, the convict continued to say
If giving my life eases your pain, then take my life away
Now of these two convicts, which has really shown
That he is truly sorry and ready to atone
Remorse is not a spoken word, but an action tried and true
To show you're really sorry, and seek forgiveness too
You can't keep saying sorry and think the pain will end
             You can't be truly sorry and not seek to make amends