A Week In Review

This post is full of several random bits and pieces collected over the week.  I generally avoid posting like this, but I’m bored.

-I got a new phone.  It is a Samsung Jack.  I like it.  I’ve had Samsung BlackJacks for a couple of years now and I’m extremely pleased with them.  The best way to describe a Jack is that it is a Blackberry that isn’t a Blackberry.  Why don’t I just get a damn Blackberry?  I have no good reason.  I could have gotten and iPhone, and thought about doing it.  But, frankly, I’m not that type of person to own an iPhone.  If you know me, then you know what I mean by that. My new phone works in every way that it is needed.  It picks up my emails, it texts, it has buttons, it has GPS thingies, I can check Facebook with it, I can check all my RSS feeds on it and I can update and check Twitter on it.  Also, I can read PDF files, which is nice.  The only down side, so far, is that I am addicted to it.  I kept wondering why it was sucking up power and then I realized that it was because I kept using it.  It is nice, and a welcome upgrade.  Still, my old phone sits by the side of the bed, like an old dog, waiting for me to remember how much I love it.

-I posted Mid-term grades today.  Two things popped up.  One, I make my students do a lot of work.  Two, either they are doing really well or they are failing.  I have a few Bs and Cs, but mostly As.  This is a direct result of me grading on sheer effort.  If you come to my class every day, you shut up, and you try, you will get a B in my class.  This is the standard.  If anyone does more than that, an A is almost assured.  What bothers me, more and more, is the students that don’t do the work, don’t turn in anything, don’t try.  But then I think about my own Community College experience and I completely understand what these kids are going through.  College is tough.  It isn’t easy and, most times, it isn’t very fun.

-Finally, the Health Care bill passed.  Did it cause our country to rip in half?  Not really.  But people are either in love or they hate the Current President, just like the one before that, just like the one before that.  It is funny.  When Bush was in Office, I thought this Country was going to hell. Now with Obama in office, people think this Country is going to hell.  The only President I can think of who people didn’t absolutely hate was Bill Clinton.  How could you hate Bill Clinton.  Yeah, he cheated on his wife.  I mean, ok.  That’s about as much of my business as his current hemorrhoid situation.  Politics are nasty, tough, and gross.  That is how it is.  That is how it always is, that is how it will always be.  And, at the end of the day, we’ll all be better for it.  Man.  I hope next week is a little bit quieter…

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Moon: Impressions

I didn’t DISLIKE Moon.  I just didn’t like it.  Well, maybe I did like it.  I can’t honestly say, and I think that’s the power of the damn movie.  I was watching it, this movie, and I was waiting for the weird, charismatic robot to go and kill off the main character, Sam.  I was waiting for Sam to flip out, with guns and bullets and stuff and insanity and some ninja action.  Instead I got…well.  I mean, what did I get?  In the movie, we harvest the moon.  One guy is there to make sure the machines run right.  But, you know, he’s a clone (spoiler!) and there are more clones (spoiler!), so I was ready for the clones to sit down next to each and, you know, contemplate their existence.  What is it like to have an exact copy of you, walking around?  What is it like?  How does it feel? Do they have these conversations?  No. Do they have any meaningful conversations?  No.  It is another one of those “Lonely-Space” movies where the antagonist is millions of miles away or the enemy is ambiguous or the enemy is lurking around the corner, hiding.  But I didn’t DISLIKE it.  It just didn’t move me like I wanted.  Still, it was a beautiful movie, with amazing sets and some incredible voice acting by Kevin Spacey.  And Sam Rockwell.  Who is this guy?  He might be my new favorite actor.  I just wish I could make up my mind about this movie.

I Watched Fox Today. Here is What I Learned.

So, I watched Glen Beck today.  I watched him because most people make fun of him, say he’s insane, or say the guy is a goof and that he’s a hate-monger and that, you know, all that.  And I watched Glen Beck today because the Health Care Bill passed, and I wanted to see if, you know, he was going to explode or not.  From what I saw, he didn’t.  He was sitting there, next to a television, with the faces of the Founding Fathers on the television and he said something that didn’t really annoy me.  It was actually good advice.

“We don’t quit!” he said.  “When we lose, we pull ourselves up by the boot straps!”

I might have butchered that quote, but it isn’t bad advice.  When people face adverse problems, when Americans lose a great victory, we do pull ourselves up.  We do, I guess, pull ourselves up by boot straps.  We really do that. And the fact that I connected to Glen Beck because of this disturbed me.  Not five minutes into the show and I was understanding his ideas, his believes.  I was becoming apart of his thought process.  He and I found common ground. He was good at it.  However, not three seconds later, all that fell apart.  It happend when he said this.

“You do need a hand out,” he said.  “You don’t need to be one of those people asking for Government Cheese…”

Really. Continue reading

Impressions: Splinter Cell Conviction Demo

Splinter Cell is a franchise near and dear to my heart.  It was the first game I bought because I thought it looked interesting, even though none of my friends really wanted to bother with it. But, the moment I put Splinter Cell into my original Xbox, I knew I would play games completely differently.  I was willing to sit next to a wall and wait.

And wait.

And wait.

And wait.

And wait for that perfect moment.  Yeah, I got bored.  But, I mean, I was a spy! Spies wait! After Double Agent, we all knew that Splinter Cell needed a whole new look, a whole new feel, a whole new game.  Splinter Cell: Conviction is that new game.  With the demo out, I was able to finally see what the goodness was about for myself. It is good.  It is very, very good.  Here are the changes that I enjoyed the most and some of the crap that I enjoyed the least.

Cover: Oh, wonderful cover.  SC:C allows you to move from cover to cover much like Gears of War does, but with some marked differences.  You can hide behind cover by holding the left trigger, so you aren’t hooked to it.  When you look over to another piece of cover, hit A and you can move right to it.  You can jump over cover and you can run and slide into it. It feels fluid and sharp and you have some nice control over all the action, which is refreshing.  It is apparent that the game wants you to move and adapt, and not just sit behind a wall and wait for a bad guy to walk past.

Mark and Execute:  I was skeptical about this at first.  I am now a believer.  This whole, “Mark and Execute” thing is nice!  You have to get close to a guy and do a beat down in order to get two “Marks”.  Once you get them, you can Mark two bad guys and then hit Y to fire off two quick shots.  You want this.  You want this because it is easier than just shooting.  Head shots are harder to pull off now, and are less accurate. But it is difficult to get that close up beat down and it is even harder to mark the targets right and fire off the execute in the right order.  When it works, it works very, very well and it becomes a mini-game in itself.

The Next Step in Stealth: This game just looks great.  If feels perfected.  Every time I moved, every time I hid or fired a shot, I felt like I was in control.  When I was spot, it was my fault, not the games.  I made a mistake, and I was punished for it.  Yeah, the dialogue and character models weren’t the best I’ve ever seen (Pony tale?  Really?), but I’ll push through that if I can have a game experience that makes my heart beat heavy again.  Welcome back, Sam Fisher.  Believe me when I say that I missed you.

Impressions: The Hangover

The Hangover is funny like watching your best friend tripping and falling.  You laugh at him.  You point.  You smile and you make fun of him for days.  You calling him clumsy.  You say he’s an idiot.  You tell his girlfriend.  That is the way we do things.  We are men.  Men don’t like being men.  We would rather be boys.  But, since we can’t be boys, we act like boys whenever possible.  That is the Hangover.  It is about two hours of guys being complete and utter morons.  It is funny because we, guys, can say, without any problem or hesitation, that we would do the same exact thing. Yes, I will take shots on top of a building.  Yes, I will steal Mike Tyson’s Tiger.  Yes, I will get married to a stripper.  Yes, I will steal a cop car. And, yes, I will put a tiny, naked Asian man into the trunk of my car.  It isn’t the funniest movie I’ve ever seen.  I’m not telling you what movie that is.  But the Hangover was a welcome part of my vacation.  And can anyone explain where the Chicken came from?   Continue reading

News Rodeo: The Return of Social Protesting

The guy’s name is Lt. Dan Choi.  He’s gay and stuff and he is getting kicked out of the military because he’s gay and stuff.  The guy is pissed, of course.  So, today, there was a rally pooping on the Military’s “Don’t Ask/Don’t Tell” policy. We don’t ask that you’re gay.  You don’t tell us you’re gay. But we might. And if we do, you’re out.  So, today, at the rally with Kathy Griffen (Kathy Griffen?  Really?) he and a buddy spoke, marched to the White House and handcuffed himself to the fence.

That’s what I’m talking about.

I’m a big fan of social protest.  I don’t think we do it enough and I don’t really have the guts to handcuff myself to the White House fence and wait to be arrested.  But, man!  That’s the stuff!  Risking your life (sort of) to make a social statement is far more effective than, say, posting something on facebook or twitter.  I’m not saying that we should start picking up sticks and start throwing rocks and start burning cars.  Not really.  What I am saying is that fighting is tough. Sometimes a guy or two has to get arrested for what they believe.  And we should respect him.

Zombieland: Impressions

I’m going to give my impressions of Zombieland while, at the same time, I give my impressions of my vacation.  There is one large, early part of it that has given me pause.  My vacation, not the movie.  While I got ready to go the other day, I grabbed my gear in one, big, healthy bundle.  And then I heard a crack.  I dropped it all and looked and, yes, there is it was: A broken pair of glasses.  I instantly began to plan, to move my day around, to find the time to get new glasses.  If you ever have glasses, you know what this means.  My prescription is light, but within minutes my eyes began to hurt and my head started to strain to focus.  I have rules, you see.  Just like Zombieland, I have created a list of rules that I don’t break, that I don’t veer off from, that I try to keep no matter what.  Jarvis Slacks’ rules number 10: Be Consistant.  Rule Number 7: If all else fails, laugh.  Rule Number 18: Put your glasses on.  You’d be surprised what you’ll miss when you can barely read the road signs.

But I understand that Zombieland isn’t as complex or interesting as I am.  It was a movie I had to make myself laugh at.  I had to do this several times.  But my lack of laughter was because I never experienced a movie this completely bizarre and odd, which is a good thing.

I’ve started thinking about how we are changing, both in the movies we want to make and what we want to do with out lives.  Zombieland had absolutely nothing powerful to see.  It didn’t fix any problems and it didn’t make my life any better.  But it did make me laugh, jump, point, and, oh, you know, there was that whole thing with Bill Murray.  The movie was good because it proved, again, that a movie doesn’t have to do anything super-important or life changing.  We can just kill zombies and make jokes, or teach at a community college and teach comp.  Oh, wait  That’s about me.  Not the movie.

Peep the new Iron Man 2 Trailer.

The Iron Man movies are loved, and oh they are loved, because it is an action film with one of the most complicated characters you can imagine.  Tony Starks is rich, narcissistic, self-involved and pretty much the walk, talking stereotype of a playboy.  But, underneath all that crap, he’s good guy.  He wants to help people.  And he knows that if the US Government gets a hold of his technology, the World will be our toilet.  Well, ok.  The World will be more of our toilet.  Peep the new Iron Man 2 trailer.  Try to keep your screams of excitement to a manageable level.

(500) Days of Summer: Impressions

Being Single: Much like fighting to the death...

Being single sucks.  It absolutely sucks.  There are some good parts about it.  You get to do what you want, when you want. You have complete and utter freedom, which is nice.  But there are also some pretty huge down sides.  That bed is a bit colder.  There is hardly ever anyone to eat with.  Your day seems pointless at weird moments.  We all know this.  This is reality.  (500) Days of Summer tackles the odds and ins of the modern day American single male.  We have two nice size problems.  1) We have to survive in this world somehow.  2) We have no idea how to do it.  Take the main character of the movie, Tom.  He’s a nice enough guy.  He can’t get his life together.  As soon as he starts hanging out with Summer, he dumps all his hopes, his fears, and his expectations on her.  And of course the relationship ends in a horrible mess.  When you put all your faith into other people, there is hardly ever enough room to put faith in yourself.

It is strange how the movie is an almost complete waste until half way through, when the pain of heart break gives way to the pain of real, utter heart break.  But you can’t help but cheer when Tom finally gets out of bed, quits his stupid job, showers and shaves, and puts his life together.  There is only so long you can sulk.  I would talk about the Summer character, but there isn’t any real point.  The movie paints her as a fickle, commitment-phobic, man-killer.  That is an unreal portrait of the modern single woman.  The modern single woman is the same as the modern single man.  Confused. Afraid of dying alone.  Desperate to feel that connection to someone.  Gaining wisdom only through trail and error.  Good flick.  You should watch it.

Why the Oscars Suck.

District 9 was an amazing film. I don't need the Oscars to confirm that for me.

The Oscar’s are outdated.  No one cares about them anymore.  This is the truth that we refuse to tell each other.

It’s like this.  Not everything deserves a damn award.  We don’t always have to pit two or three things against each other and watch them fight for the winner.  This does not have to happen.  And, yet, we continue to do so because that is how we view our reality.  There are winners and there are losers.  Things have good endings and things have happy endings.  That is the way of things.  However, the artificiality of that very concept, that things win and things lose and that it all fits into a story book, is completely blown apart this year by having multiple movies up for the same award even though every one of the movies are unrelated to each other and even though they have different ideas of what is considered art.  What we are facing is the Academy attempting to make itself relevant, even thought it isn’t, and it knows it.  The fact that the Academy Awards is laying on its deathbed is very, extremely obvious.  Miley Cyrus is giving an award.  Miley Cyrus.  I have scars older than this girl.

Example.  Avatar is in the same category, up for the same award, as District 9 and as District 9 was a movie about a barely sympathetic character struggling to find the mildest bit of courage to do a simple, basic thing for another living creature.  It was gross, bold, emotional, powerful and beautiful.  Avatar was a smoldering piece of shit.  Yet, these two movies have been compared to each other and are up for the same award?  It would be like my blog being up for the Pulitzer.

We understand this.  The Academy has crammed movies together at some horrible attempt to create drama.  It is boring.  The Oscars are self-approving garbage that gives the cubicle-bound workforce something to fuss about for a week before and a week after the event.  You’d think the whole mess would have the good taste to dig its grave and actively jump in it.  Sadly, I’ll probably write another post just like this next year.