Spud-Speak 1

7/23/07 at 9:50 am | Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments

[Just some random stuff from the weekend …]

– I’m having mixed feelings about seeing the Tammy Faye Baker video from the day before she died. I admire her courage to give a “last testimony”, but is the image something you want as a legacy? Should it matter? I chuckle when I see pictures of people taken 40 or so years ago with their obits in the paper. It all comes down to showing the face you want others to see (if possible!).

– It has been awhile since I’ve seen such a pressure-packed putt as the one Sergio Garcia missed on the final regulation hole in the British Open. It looked like he hit it the way he wanted but it did not break as much as he thought it would. That missed putt cost him millions, but it’s not like he’s hurting for money or anything like that.

– There seems to be more stories in the paper (and elsewhere) about the rising cost of groceries, and the prime suspect is the misguided ethanol-for-fuel program. I disliked it when first proposed, and now it’s looking like we’re heading for serious economic problems. In Econ 101 you are presented with a choice in government spending between guns and butter. Now throw in energy (via ethanol) and you have a three-way squeeze on our wallets. While Pres. GW Bush may be remembered for 9/11 and the War on Terror, I have a hunch history will remember him most for this ethanol boondoggle. I don’t know how some families are making it with grocery bills inching higher every month.

[Update:  Here’s a link for an article at Econbrowser related to the ethanol/corn issue.]

– We got Kingdom of Heaven from the library and watched it this weekend. Yes, I’ve watched another “R” rated movie in a week’s time, but like Children of Men it was given that rating mainly for violence (but nothing too gory like a horror movie). It did have a brief scene of Orlando “Legolas” Bloom without a shirt on (for the ladies). It was an interesting film and fairly entertaining and helped me answer a question that has been bugging me for years: why doesn’t Israel/US kick the Muslims out of Jerusalem and restore Solomon’s Temple?

Militarily it would be easy and could be thought of as the spoils of war, but the cost in human life would be unacceptable. The monuments/shrines mean nothing (and everything), yet it’s the lives inside the city that have true worth. Jesus broke the mold for us by rejecting man-made temples and having us worship God with our whole heart wherever we may be. We don’t need a building since the Holy Spirit resides in each believer.

Kingdom of Heaven3 taters.

3 Quick Flix

7/17/07 at 2:37 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Our video store (yes, I’m still one of those who still rents movies) has some recent run movies at 3 movies- 3 days- $3.75, so I got a few over the weekend. They all turned out to be pretty good, better than expected, and I would recommend them, even the R-rated one (gasp). Below is a quick review of each.

Casino Royale was not just another Bond flick. It reminded me of how Batman Returns turned around the expectations for the Batman franchise. This Bond is serious, and there’s no goofiness about the bad guys. CR is a prequel and helps explain some of his origins, to the point of showing a love interest. The language was not too bad, some violence with a little blood and the sex/nud1ty was minimal. The famous torture sequence was not as bas as expected. I liked the film because it kept your interest and had a few interesting turns. In particular, you think the movie is over at a certain point, but it’s not. 3 1/2 taters.

Lady in the Water is another semi-fantasy offering by M. Night Shamylan. Since Unbreakable is one of my all time favorites, I had to see what the wunderkind director was up to. Again he has a mythical story set in current times, where this time a water-nymph has come to the surface dwellers to warn/encourage them, in particular one person. The problem comes in when mean wolf-like creatures try to stop what she is doing. This movie is reminiscent of Signs, when the hero has to confront a difficulty from the past in order to affect the present. There were some interesting surprises in the film, and I especially liked how he “skewered” the movie critic. Don’t look for religious symbolism, but just expect some entertainment for a few hours. 3 taters.

Children of Men was “R” rated, mainly for the use of the F-word nearly every other sentence. It is set 20 years in the future, where for the last 18 years no babies have been born. Once you get past the not-so-subtle liberal messages about the dangers of anti-immigration and the “abuse” of terrorists, you can get wrapped up in the big picture: the meaning of life and what legacy we live to future generations. This movie does have some allusions to the Christ story, John the Baptist and Moses. The war scene in the last third of the movie is very realistic, and I’m sure had a few hearts pounding when shown on the big screen. 3 taters.

[I will eventually get around to a book vs. movie for Bridge to Terabithia, if I can get around to it.]

Live Earth Lowlights

7/09/07 at 12:25 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Since the Cubs were clobbering the Bucs Saturday night, I did a little channel hopping and wandered over to LiveEarth.  Here’s my lowlights:
–  Madonna is getting close to 50 but she don’t look it.  I doubt she could get away with singing “Like a Virgin”, though.
–  It was nice to see Genesis back on stage, though they looked really old.
–  I used to have a slight amount of respect for Garth Brooks, but hearing his leftist braying at the Capitol Mall was too much.
–  Now that Leo DiCaprio is trying to go for the older look and getting away from the “baby-face”, he reminds me of a younger (and thinner) Burl Ives.
–  Alicia Keys:  easy to look at, seemed to have a nice voice except when she’s screaming/screeching.
–  Melissa Etheridge:  not easy to look at, changed channel as fast as thumb would allow.

I believe this event will go down as the big intro for the Gaia Gang to lay claim as one of the world’s top three religions:  Christian, Muslim, Eco-Nut.  AlGore kept mentioning 2 billion people on seven continents, and wouldn’t you know it they actually showed a band playing in Antarctica.  It was a “garage” band of researchers playing to penguins, but it was a concert.  Probably the funniest part of the night.

After the Cubs game was over I wandered over to the computer, so you’ll have to rely on others for any concert notes past 10 pm (EST).

Movie Review: Transformers

7/09/07 at 10:16 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

I took my 9 year-old to see Transformers on Wednesday. I’m glad I didn’t take my 4 y.o., though, as they included some gratuitous references to sex and made the female lead basically eye-candy (besides one scene where she rescues one of the good robots). Knowing what I do now I’m not so sure if I would have taken my 9 y.o., and it’s unfortunate since the sex junk wasn’t needed for the movie. I suppose they were trying to make it more of a “grown-up” movie than the Transformer TV-show, but there was plenty of hard-hitting action to distance the former from the latter.

The other disturbing aspect of the movie was the theology and lack of any Christian presence, besides a mention of the importance of sacrifice. The robots came from another planet, started by some “cube” that existed before time started and has some mystical energy source. The cube was coveted by evil/selfish robots (decepticons) who fought the good/noble robots (autobots) for control of the cube. They destroyed their planet fighting over it and were flung out into the galaxy, and wouldn’t you know it, some of them made it to good ol’ Earth.

[Semi-spoilers to follow] From there the story unwinds to a predictable popcorn-cruncher: nerdy kid has a tie-in to the cube, somehow gets hot girl he’s always lusted after to help him, government is helpless against bad robots, good robots overcome bad robots after heroic effort by nerdy kid (and let’s not forget the setup to the sequel too).

As I said, there was plenty of action, particularly at the beginning when a US military base is destroyed by a sneak attack. The CGI was very-well done, and it was evident that a good deal of effort was put into the details of the robots converting from a car (or other vehicle) and back. It was not the whir-blur you would get from the TV show. They also brought in quite a few extras and interesting sets for the military ops rooms and the secret lair under the dam.

I also liked how the military was portrayed. Even though they were decimated on the first encounter, they learned how to adapt and were able to defeat one of the decepticons. Typically an alien is given such extraordinary powers that the military is “helpless” until the nerdy kid saves the day. Shia LeBeouf did well in this movie, and once Indiana Jones 4 hits the theaters next year he will probably be in the upper echelon of young male leads in Hollywood (unless he somehow pulls a “Jar-Jar”). I liked him better in Holes, though.

What I did not like: times when the action was so frenetic you could not tell the good from the bad robots, large chunks of buildings falling and robots crashing through buildings without a sign of anyone getting seriously injured, the autobots being “cutesy”, suspending belief on what the robots power source was. As a (formerly) well-trained scientist the last item bothered me, in that what the robots did takes a tremendous amount of energy, yet they could shrink down into the size of a car. Oh well, it is a comic.
[Big spoiler]In particular they made a big deal about the cube, yet one of the robots essentially burned it up when it got close to its chest. What was up with that?!?[/Big spoiler]

RATING: 2 1/2 taters. Probably the biggest action film of the summer, and it’s not a sequel. Good for some mindless-escapist fare, yet be cautious on taking younger viewers. It is PG-13.

IF YOU’RE STILL READING, I’d like to advance an idea of this movie being an allegory for the terrorist situation we are currently in. You have the “cube” giving rise to both autobot and decepticon (Judeo/Christian vs. Muslim), both sides wanting possession of the cube (pre-eminent society/culture) and both sides being similar (human beings). The beginning shows the lethality of one well-concealed “assassin” destroying a whole military base, followed with a somewhat bumbling bad robot getting access to the top government computers.

The bad robots blend right in to the “community” and cannot be easily discerned, until it is too late. The good robots bend over backwards to avoid the taking of innocent lives, while the bad robots show disdain. The good robots end up having to destroy the bad robots, yet there is the feeling of “it ain’t over yet”. While the decepticons may not have strapped explosives to their bodies, they did want to eliminate the autobots and humans by converting the machines around the world into decepticons with the use of the cube.

Well, it’s something to chew over.

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