Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Product Placement

Monday afternoon, I took my class of 6- to 12-year-olds from my job to the Udvar-Hazy Air & Space Museum in Dulles, Va. This was not my first trip to this museum, but it is the first where I took pictures.

There museum is not far from the Dulles Airport and features a mock air traffic control tower that allows you to watch airplanes as they land and take-off from the airport.

While there are a number of impressive exhibits and displays throughout the museum...

...I was most impressed by the very subtle product placement and advertisements found throughout the museum.

Yes, Bud Light gets two planes and a flight suit!

So that's why the museum is free! I always wondered where they got their funding!

By the way, this post meets my dad's challenge of 20 posts by the New Year, and not a moment too soon!

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Our New Baby: Ally

Maggie and I have an announcement to make; Just in time for Christmas we received our first baby...Ally.

We'd been wanting a dog for a good while now. I haven't had a dog (Fred) since Winnipeg almost thirteen years ago, and Maggie hasn't had a dog (Cinnamon) in almost five years, and we both felt like it was time for us to get a dog. So as a Christmas gift, Maggie's parents gave us money find a dog, and after a long, strenuous search, we came across Ally in Harrisonburg, Virginia, a good two hour drive away. But I must say, the drive was worth it.

Ally's a five-week golden retriever puppy who was born on November 15th, 2008. She's very affectionate and playful, and is at that age where she's teething, so she nibbles quite a lot. We got her last Saturday night, and in the first week, we've seen her grow already. Her daily routines consists of rotations of sleep, eat, pee, poop and a little bit of play. We're working on potty training, and she's already slowly starting to pick up on that. Just yesterday, she went to the back door at Maggie's house (where we've been taking her outside) and started sniffing around, knowing that's the area for her to go at. The first night we had her she settled right into her little puppy bed! She's a very brave, curious dog. Maggie's sister has a miniature schnauzer who is normally a bully, but Molly (the mini-schnauzer) is scared of Ally! At one point, Ally was chasing Molly around the living room!

Ally is absolutely CAP (cute, adorable and precious) and she's brought a lot of joy into the lives of Maggie and me. While she is quite a handful, we love her very much and everyone who has met Ally in both our families has fallen in love with her.

We look forward to many years of love and joy with Ally!

Sunday, December 14, 2008

The Not-So-Smart Smart Car

I can across this funny video of an attempt by a "Smart" car driver to parallel park. I guess it doesn't matter what the size of your car is, parallel parking is tough!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

William Shatner's Tribute to George Lucas

I came across this video a good while back and it didn't occur to me to post it until now. I've always gotten a kick out of this as William Shatner delivers in a way that only Shatner can! I love the looks on the faces of Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher and Harrison Ford as Shatner walks onto the stage! They're trying to figure out just what in the world is going on!

Also, all I can say is; dancing stormtroopers!

Monday, December 8, 2008

A Star Trek IV Blooper Reel

I just watched Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home this afternoon and while surfing on youtube I came across this video! Enjoy!

Saturday, December 6, 2008

2012 Presidential Polls: The Race Begins

Barack Obama isn't sworn in for his first term as President for another six weeks and there is already polling out for the 2012 election. I came across this story while on the Internet and couldn't help but shake my head in disgust.

We've just been through the longest election in history and already the next one is beginning! For anyone keeping track, it started the week after Obama won when Palin starting making the media rounds to repair her reputation, and as my mom posted a few weeks ago, Rudy Guliani has already opened his fundraising website for a 2012 run. It's really sad that this is the state of American politics; a nonstop campaign.

Nothing will ever be accomplished if all people ever do is look to the next election four years from now and spend that entire time campaigning. While I understand that it's all about getting your message out fastest to gain that "front-runner" status, in the end it doesn't matter who the front-runner is. If you look at this election that ended only a month ago, neither of this year's candidates were their party's front-runner a year ago!

It's my honest hope that this constant campaign-mode backfires and forces these people to actually try to get things done and work to solve the problems of their people before they worry about their own political ambitions.

The Christmas Quiz

Time to add my answers to the latest questionnaire floating about the family blogs.

1. Wrapping paper or gift bags?
Wrapping paper, but if it's a really small gift or one that is awkward to wrap, I go with the gift bag.

2. Real tree or artificial?
I prefer artificial. The real ones smell.

3. When do you put up the tree?

Whenever Mom and Dad say it's time.

4. When do you take the tree down?

Whenever Mom and Dad say it's time.

5. Do you like eggnog?

I've never really tried it.

6. Favorite gift received as a child?

Hard to say really.

7. Hardest person to buy for?

Normally my dad, but also some times that Secret Santa from work you get sucked into.

8. Easiest person to buy for?

Maggie; she always says exactly what she wants.

9. Do you have a nativity scene?

According to my mom, two.

10. Mail or email Christmas cards?

I just get cards and hand them to people.

11. Worst Christmas gift you ever received?

A CD player I got from Corps Officers a few years back; it was the third year in a row I'd gotten one from them.

12. Favorite Christmas movie?

Hard to say, but I really like
The Christmas Story.

13. When do you start shopping for Christmas?

Anytime before Christmas when I have the money to do it.

14. Have you ever recycled a Christmas present?


15. Favorite thing to eat at Christmas?

Mashed potatoes.

16. Lights on the tree.


17. Favorite Christmas song?

Grandma Got Run Over By a Reindeer! Also, like several versions of Jingle Bells.

18. Travel at Christmas or stay home.

Whatever my parents say we're doing.

19. Can you name all of Santa's reindeer?

Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, Comet, Cupid, Donner, Blitzen...but do you recall the most famous reindeer of all? Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer!

20. An angel or a star on top of the tree?


21. Open the presents on Christmas eve or Christmas morning?

Christmas morning.

22. Most annoying thing about this time of year?

Anything to do with shopping; the congested malls, the traffic, the crazy dis-respectful maniac-like shoppers...

23. Favorite ornament theme or color?

Whatever the color of our tree is.

24. Favorite dessert for Christmas dinner?

Ice cream.

25. What do you want for Christmas this year?

A GPS and some money.

26. Any special Christmas traditions?

Opening presents.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

What Have You Done?

Here is my contribution to the list of things that I have done. Everything I've done is in bold.

1. Started your own blog
2. Slept under the stars
3. Played in a band
4. Visited Hawaii
5. Watched a meteor shower / Watched the Northern Lights
6. Given more than you can afford to charity
7. Been to Disneyland
8. Climbed a mountain
9. Held a praying mantis
10. Sang a solo
11. Bungee jumped
12. Visited Paris

13. Watched a lightning storm at sea
14. Taught yourself an art from scratch
15. Adopted a child
16. Had food poisoning
17. Walked to the top of the Statue of Liberty
18. Grown your own vegetables

19. Seen the Mona Lisa in France
20. Slept on an overnight train / Slept overnight in an airport
21. Had a pillow fight
22. Hitch hiked
23. Taken a sick day when youʼre not ill
24. Built a snow fort
25. Held a lamb
26. Gone skinny dipping
27. Run a Marathon
28. Ridden in a gondola in Venice
29. Seen a total eclipse (solar and lunar)
30. Watched a sunrise or sunset
31. Hit a home run

32. Been on an overnight cruise (does Newfoundland count?)
33. Seen Niagara Falls in person
34. Visited the birthplace of your ancestors
35. Seen an Amish community
36. Taught yourself a new language
37. Had enough money to be truly satisfied
38. Seen the Leaning Tower of Pisa in person
39. Gone rock climbing
40. Seen Michelangeloʼs David
41. Sung karaoke
42. Seen Old Faithful geyser erupt / Seen the wheat fields of the Prairies
43. Bought a stranger a meal at a restaurant
44. Visited Africa
45. Walked on a beach by moonlight
46. Been transported in an ambulance
47. Had your portrait painted
48. Gone deep sea fishing
49. Seen the Sistine Chapel in person
50. Been to the top of the Eiffel Tower in Paris
51. Gone scuba diving or snorkeling
52. Kissed in the rain
53. Played in the mud
54. Gone to a drive-in theater

55. Been in a movie / Been on television / Been on the radio
56. Visited the Great Wall of China

57. Started a business
58. Taken a martial arts class
59. Visited Russia
60. Served at a soup kitchen
61. Sold Girl Scout Cookies/ Sold Boy Scout Apples
62. Gone whale watching
63. Got flowers for no reason (do you mean bought someone else?)
64. Donated blood, platelets or plasma
65. Gone sky diving
66. Visited a Nazi Concentration Camp
67. Bounced a check
68. Flown in a helicopter / Flown in a plane that took off and/or landed on water
69. Saved a favorite childhood toy
70. Visited the Lincoln Memorial / Toured Parliament Hill / Toured Capitol Hill
71. Eaten Caviar
72. Pieced a quilt / Changed our car’s oil
73. Stood in Times Square / Visited Old Queen City

74. Toured the Everglades / Gone Shopping at West Edmonton Mall / Gone Shopping at the Mall of America in Minneapolis
75. Been fired from a job

76. Seen the Changing of the Guards in London / Watched the Rose Parade in person (been in the Rose Parade)
77. Broken a bone
78. Been on a speeding motorcycle
79. Seen the Grand Canyon in person
80. Published a book / Recorded are record or CD
81. Visited the Vatican
82. Bought a brand new car
83. Walked in Jerusalem
84. Had your picture in the newspaper
85. Read the entire Bible
86. Visited the White House / Visited inside the White House / Visited Ann of Green Gables
87. Killed and prepared an animal for eating / Eaten Moose or Deer / Eaten Squid / Eaten Allegator
88. Had chickenpox
89. Saved someoneʼs life
90. Sat on a jury
91. Met someone famous
92. Joined a book club
93. Lost a loved one
94. Had a baby
95. Seen the Alamo in person
96. Swam in the Great Salt Lake / Swam in all five Great Lakes
97. Been involved in a law suit
98. Owned a cell phone
99. Been stung by a bee
100. Read an entire book in one day

Sunday, November 9, 2008

What Has Hollywood Come To?

Death at a Funeral is a British comedy that came out in mid-2007. While it got mostly good reviews, it did not fair well at the box office in the United States. Of course, it is very rare for a British comedy or any kind of foreign movie period to do well in the United States box office. I went to see Death at a Funeral last September, and I must say that it is a pretty good movie.

British comedies are different from comedies made in America. They tend to be more subtle and well-acted, and overall just more funny. In America, you get the sense that everything is overacted because the actor onscreen knows that they're in a comedy so they are trying to be funny instead of just letting the humor be natural. Half the time I expect the actor to look at us through the screen, wink and say "Watch this" before embarking on their next over-the-top "hilarious" escapade. I've found that most comedies these days just aren't that funny. The ones that work are the ones where the actors just let the humor fall naturally and play their part as if they're not the funny one, but funny things are just happening to them. You get the occasional over-the-top performance that is great and funny, but those are rare.

The actors in Death at a Funeral played their roles straight and let the humor arise out of the situation. They did not overreact and did not "wink" every time something was about to happen. They reacted like any normal person would in their given situation. Well...sort of. If you've seen the movie, I wonder how many of us would allow us to behave in such a manner, but you never know. The point is, Death at a Funeral is a funny, entertaining movie that was well-received by critics, but just not seen by very many people.

So what does Hollywood do? They decide to remake Death at a Funeral with American actors in American settings. That's right! The movie that came out in 2007 is already being remade or "re-imagined" by Hollywood. (see the link below)

As someone who has seen the movie and can find nothing wrong with it the way it is, I am left with one question; Why? Why must Hollywood insist upon doing this? It's one thing to "re-imagine" a 30- or 40-year-old movie that could still be relevant in modern times (although a lot of remakes these days are unnecessary if the original was good enough), but to remake a movie that will barely be 2-years-old by the time its remake comes out?

Now I suppose it can be considered "flattering" for American filmmakers to want to take a British concept and Americanize it for American audiences, but I have two big problems with that. The first is already touched upon above in the difference between American and British comedies and why American comedies these days simply do not work, for the most part! The second is, what does the original gain from being remade? It's not being updated for modern times, because it already came out in modern times. It's being updated because...well, someone likes the idea and what's to give their take. And that's when the slapstick kicks in when they can't come up with anything overly different to do from the original.

Now, maybe I'm being overly harsh and critical of a movie that hasn't already been written or made...excuse me, rewritten or remade...but I'm sure you can understand my puzzlement and frustration with this situation. There really just is no need for this. All this really does is display just how bankrupt and desperate Hollywood has become for fresh and new ideas. Instead of paying writers to actually come up with their own ideas, we are being forced to watch remake after remake of movies that perfectly fine the first time (i.e, Psycho and The Omen) and do not need to be remade.

Oh, I also read that there's a case where a foreign movie was remade but the remake is going to hit theaters before the original even does! What!?!

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Election Aftermath

On Tuesday, the long and grueling 2-year U.S. 2008 election will finally come to an end, and on Wednesday the next one will begin. Or at least, if we're lucky it'll wait that long before it starts. But the big question that will be voiced by all the pundits after the results are declared Tuesday will be: What went wrong for the loser?

What if John McCain Wins?
Political polling will never be the same again. In 2004, the polls should John Kerry beating George W. Bush by several points, and yet George W. Bush won by 3% of the vote. Pollsters stopped and took a look at the way they did polls and tried to revamp their system. While polling will never be perfect nor entirely accurate, it gives a general idea of the way the election is going. Or so we're lead to believe. Ever since this economic crisis began, polls have shown Barack OBama to be as much as 10 points ahead of John McCain. While that number has shrunk in recent days, he still has a small but somewhat distinct lead of McCain. So if McCain is elected 44th President of the United States, many pollsters will probably find themselves without a job.

Many people, especially Obama supporters, will turn their blame to the Clintons. The Democratic Primaries went on endlessly and it was a brutal fight in which many harsh feelings arose, particularly between Obama and the Clintons. While Hillary Clinton was quick to jump aboard the Obama Express, Bill Clinton was slow to climb aboard. It wasn't until the Democratic National Convention that Bill Clinton finally threw his full, public support behind Barack Obama, and it hasn't been until recent weeks that Clinton has finally been seen on the campaign trail. In one interview, Clinton called John McCain a "good and honorable person", but was hesitant to say the same about Obama. Even though Hillary Clinton was been campaigning hard in key swing states like Florida, Pennsylvania, Virginia and others in declaring her support of Obama, many people will stay ask the question, "Was it enough?"

People will also looked to the list of Barack Obama's associations. Reverend Wright was a major issue in the primaries, and I believe that he will be an issue once again in the closing 2 days of the election as the ultimate McCain Trump card. Associations with William Ayers could also be viewed as an issue, because such associations will have raised questions about Obama's judgement.

Experience will also be a factor. Obama was only elected to the United States senate in 2004, and he announced his candidacy in February 2007 after spending just over 2 years in the Senate. He has indeed spent nearly half of his term-to-date in the Senate campaigning for President. Is Barack Obama simply too inexperienced?

Then there will be the ultimate question of race. Is America just not ready for an African American to be President? Could people be telling pollsters they will vote for Obama simply because they don't want to say they're going to vote against a black man? Is racism and prejudice stil so prevalant in American culture that we are still not ready to accept a minority our national leader? A co-worker of mine said a year ago that, even though she is African American, she wasn't sure if she would vote for Obama because she would be afraid that he would be assassinated. Could this also be a factor for some people? Could it be more then just an issue of racial prejudice but also fear of the prejudices and racial animosity of others to the point where they fear for the life of Barack Obama should he be elected President?

In a year where Democrats should have the election in the bag, especially with the recent economic upheaval, the question will remain for years to come as to how Democrats could have blown their best and clearest opportunity since Franklin Delano Roosevelt ousted Herbert Hoover in 1932 in the midst of an economic depression. The political climate is ripe for Democrats to grab victory. A lose now would be utterly devastating for the party.

What if Barack Obama Wins?
Needless to say, John McCain has done better then any candidate the Republican party could have hoped for. Ever since 2000, McCain has been a national figure who has earned the reputation of being an Independent Republican. Bill Clinton said it best when he said that if any Republican had any chance of winning in this political climate, it was John McCain. So if McCain loses, some of the contributing factors will be quite obvious.

It's hard to be the Presidential candidate of the incumbant party when the sitting President has approval ratings in the 20s, the lowest since Harry Truman. Americans are increasingly unhappy with the way George W. Bush has run the country over the last 8 years, and for 4 of those years Republicans held majorities in both the House and Senate, meaning that they view Republicans in general as being the ones to run the U.S. into the ground. Hence why Democrats swept back into power in 2006. And despite best efforts to place blame on Democrats who have controlled both House and Senate for 2 years, it's hard to keep the blame off the Republican President. Indeed George W. Bush has rarely been seen on the campaign trail, only publicly attending fund-raisers. Outside of his endorsement of John McCain back in March, neither McCain nor Bush have been seen publicly together during the course of the campaign. It says quite a lot when Bush didn't even show up at the Republican National Convention, and addressed the delegates via satellite for only a matter of minutes. And it has only in recent weeks that John McCain has really come out swinging at Bush, trying to really define himself separately from his colleague. But it's hard to say you're different from George W. Bush when you vote in line with him 90% of the time. If he loses, will it be because John McCain simply could not distance himself enough from the sitting President.

Barack Obama has shattered campaign fund-raising levels. He has been outspending John McCain dramaticly, and it is only in recent days where McCain has been able to match Obama's television ad spending dollar-for-dollar. For years McCain was an advocate for campaign finance reform and agreed to accept Public Financing, while Obama chose not to. Consider it ironic if it's McCain's own finance limitations that contribute to his defeat.

There will always be the question of the way McCain has run his campaign. McCain has been all over the map for nearly the entire campaign. At one point a year ago, his campaign was nearly bankrupt. If not for a vital win in New Hampshire, McCain would not have been able to continue forward in his campaign to be President. He has changed the staffing of his campaign many times, had to dismiss many because of public gaffes, and he has been unable to keep a clear, consistent message for longer then a few days. A campaign staffer even admitted that as far back as June 2008, they could not find a reason to elect John McCain. And the campaign has even had trouble laying out one clear strategy. McCain's campaign has become more well-known for its tactical plays (the Palin pick, the "suspension" of his campaign) instead of strategic plays. It hasn't been until recent weeks that the campaign has been able to stay on-message and consistent with their new mascot Joe the Plumber. If Joe the Plumber did anything, it was bring focus to an unfocused campaign. But was it too little too late?

McCain has been known for his temper, and often during the debates he came across as rude, stand-offish, and even angry and annoyed whenever Obama spoke. There are numerous clips from the third debate of McCain rolling his eyes and overreacting whenever Obama spoke. Is this the kind of temperament Americans want their President to have when he's sitting face-to-face with international leaders?

McCain's age could also be a factor. If he elected, he will be the oldest man to ever be elected President. Many questions have arisen over his health and judgment. He has had a couple fights with cancer in recent years, raising concerns amongst many voters. And his handling of the recent economic crisis also brings doubt to his judgment. While McCain might have trouble keeping his own campaign on message, it doesn't help that McCain had trouble keeping himself on message during that awful week in September. McCain was literally all over the map during that week.

In the spring of 2008, McCain vowed to run a "clean and honorable" campaign. This campaign has been anything but. I was disgusted by the Republican convention and how ugly and negative the tone was. And things just kept on getting worse. This has become one of the worst campaigns for smear tactics that I ever recall. I thought 2004 was bad, but 2008 was worse. Indeed, McCain broke one of his first campaign promises in favor of Karl Rove (or Rovian) tactics, the same tactics that sank his 2000 campaign against G.W. Bush. Ironic, though, that those same tactics that were used against him then could also sink him now, but not because they are used against him, but because he is the one using them! Rovian tactics might have worked in 2000 and 2004, but the climate in 2008 is different. Now you have instant-fact checks and numerous websites that fact check every claim that is made. Even YouTube has numerous videos showing candidates (especially McCain) contradicting themselves. The simple matter is, not only are Americans tired of these smear tactics that brought us 8 years of Bush presidency, but they simple are not falling for them anymore because a claim can be fact-checked or google-ed in a matter of minutes. The Rovian tactics worked once, but not anymore.

One of the most appealing aspects of John McCain had always been his ability to appeal to independent voters and even many Democrats because he was not afraid to take on his own party. There were in fact many issues that McCain disagreed with his own party about. But over the last year, those positions have gradually shifted so that McCain could align himself more with the party base. While this may have helped him to gain the Republican nomination, it may have ended up hurting him in the general election. McCain always appealed to independents, and it has been no secret that many base Republicans have not been enthused by the McCain candidacy. When McCain was trying to shore up the base, he should have been trying to continue to appeal to moderates and independents because of how much disgust there is right now with the Republican brand. McCain had for a long time been running away from his maverick label so that he could appeal to the base. But in doing so, McCain has lost his appeal with the very people he needed to win the election. While running a base campaign might have worked for George W. Bush in 2004, the Republican base has shrunk quite a bit over the last few years to the point where no Republican can win without winning over independents. Unfortunately, in running a campaign to try to appeal to his own party, McCain has disenfranchised the very independents and conservative Democrats that he needs to win the presidency.

To go hand-in-hand with my last point, I turn to his selection of Vice-President. McCain has had trouble shoring up the Republican base from the beginning. Republicans simply were not enthused by John McCain's candidacy for president. I recently heard a poll that stated that over 70% over Obama supporters are enthusastic about him, while around 23% of McCain supporters can say the same about him. Ouch! I firmly believe that McCain's best bet to win the presidency would've been to run away from the Republican party and go as far to the middle as he could. Indeed, there are many rumors that this indeed was what McCain's instincts were telling him when he was wanting to ask Independent Senator (and former 2000 Vice-Presidential candidate) Joe Lieberman to be his running mate. What a blow that would have been! In fact, I was expecting this to happen, because I knew that this would be a difficult ticket for Obama to beat. In fact, I believe this would've been McCain's best chance to win. But instead of running to the center, McCain chose to run to the right to not only avoid a floor fight at the convention, but to also shore up his own base. In doing so, McCain pulled another tactical maneuver (one that came out of nowhere) and picked Alaska Governor Sarah Palin as his running mate. This was a blatant attempt to try to pick off Hillary Clinton voters, especially after Democrats appeared united at their own convention despite a long and brutal primary fight. Many Clinton supporters saw through it and ran even further for Obama. While the maneuver failed at grabbining many Clinton supporters, it did help McCain reinforce the Republican base.

But this was probably his biggest mistake. While Palin might have energized the base and even grabbed independents, the more we learned about Palin, the more people were turned off by her. Claims that she has more executive experience then Obama and Biden combined because of her being a mayor for 6 years and being governor for just under 2 have come across as ridiculous. It should be noted that if you use that argument, she should be at the top of the Republican ticket because she indeed also has more executive experience then John McCain! Claims that she has foreign policy experience because she can see Russia are laughable! That should mean that governors of states that border Canada and Mexico can make the same claims! And now polls show Palin to be the biggest factor that is pulling down the McCain campaign. From botched interviews to contradictory remarks, the Palin candidacy has been a disaster for the McCain campaign. And in recent weeks, it has looked like Palin has even been trying to distance herself from McCain to set herself up for 2012 Presidential bid should they lose. While Palin may have energized the Republican base for McCain, it also turned off everyone else, the very same people who used to respect and admire John McCain and might have voted for him.

Indeed, that will probably be one of the iceberg that sank McCain's ship; instead of trying to appeal to the middle of the country, John McCain worked too hard to appeal to his own party.

Pundits will spending days, even weeks if not months interviewing "experts" and strategists trying to determine what went wrong for the candidate who loses. Indeed, there will be many contributing factors if Obama loses, whether it be racism or his "inexperience" or even the Clintons not trying hard enough. The same can be said of McCain if he loses, from age to a poorly run campaign, to a bad climate for Republicans to even his own running mate.

In the end, all we can do is hope that the media will be too caught up in trying to figure out what went wrong to even start figuring out who is next for 2012. Oh, wait, too late!

How should "Generations" Have Ended?

While surfing the net today, I discovered some alternate endings to 1994 Star Trek: Generations. Now, while the film certainly has its flaws, I don't find it to be all that bad. For me the films starts to lose it once Picard enters "the Nexus", a type of fantasy dimension where time has now meaning.

In the original ending, Picard's attempt to stop Soran from destroying a star to enter the Nexus fails and Picard is sucked into the Nexus. There he seeks the help of James T. Kirk (pulled into the Nexus at the start of the movie) in exiting the Nexus to stop Soran.

But what many people do not know is that there are alternate endings to this movie. Take a look and vote on your favorite!

Ending One

Ending Two

Monday, October 27, 2008

I'm Joe the Plumber

I have commented before on the McCain campaign's new unofficial mascot of "Joe the Plumber". Well, I recently just saw a new TV ad by the McCain campaign in which multiple people look into the camera and say, "I'm Joe the Plumber". This has been a recurring theme in the McCain campaign since the third presidential debate, and I'm growing quite tired of it. The list of Joe the Plumbers has grown to include (in addition to the ones I've mentioned before):
- Molly the Engineer,
- Jane the Dental Hygenist,
- Doug the Barber,
- Chuck the Teacher,
- Phil the Bricklayer,
- Rose the Teacher,
- Jack the Hunter,
- Vicky the Realtor,
- Christine the Florist,
- Cindy the Citizen,
- and Tito the Builder.

They are supposed to represent the working Americans that McCain is trying to "fight" for. They are also the people that the McCain/Palin ticket is using to launch their new line of attack that Obama's policies represent socialism, and that it is wrong to "spread the wealth". Palin has consistently said, that it is wrong for the government to take the money of "hard-working Americans" and use it where they see fit.

Isn't the point of taxes to give the government money to spend where it sees fit? Did John McCain (and Barack Obama) not vote for the $700 billion economic rescue plan that is taking tax payer money and giving it to large corporations?

The policies of Franklin Roosevelt not only led to an economic recovery for the U.S. out of the Great Depression of the 1930s, but also brought sweeping changes to the way the government is run. In fact, many of Roosevelt's programs can be considered socialist programs. FDR's greatest achievement, which lasts to even today, is Social Security. According to the new McCain/Palin rhetoric, these programs (including Social Security) are bad for America. In order to stay consistent on their message, McCain and Palin need to outright say that Social Security is socialism and that it should be abolished! But, not only do I think they will never say that, I think that they will be hard-pressed to find very many Americans who belive Social Security should be ended.

Interestingly enough, Social Security was a very prominent issue in the 2000 election between Bush and Gore. Bush attempted reforms of Social Security, but they failed. So it is interesting that 8 years later in this 2008 election, even though Social Security has not been fixed, it has rarely been spoken of by either candidate on the campaign trail.

The ridiculousness of this "Joe the Plumber" business reached a new point at Palin rally in which during the middle of her speech a group in the crowd started chanting "I AM JOE" while holding up cards that spelled out that very phrase!

Honestly, where's Joe the Unemployed? Next up on the McCain/Palin list of working-class heroes?


Thursday, October 23, 2008

Did "The West Wing" Predict the Election?

I'm a fan of The West Wing, especially the first four seasons under the guidance of writer/producer Aaron Sorkin. I felt that after Sorkin left the show lost a lot of its witty dialogue and its focus. It was still good, but it wasn't the same show that I loved. Anyone familiar with the show knows that the last two seasons of the show focused heavily on the election to replace fictional-President Jed Bartlett (Martin Sheen), and the series finale featured the inauguration of that new president.

What's interesting is the eerie parallels between that West Wing election storyline and the way our own 2008 presidential election has played out. I came across this video online today and found it quite intriguing. And just to put things into perspective, the show's sixth and seventh seasons in which the election storyline took place aired from fall 2004 to spring 2006, long before the American election began and anyone announced their candidacy.


Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Film Review: W.

The Presidency of George Walker Bush hasn't even finished yet, and for most Americans (and apparently many citizens from around the world) the next 90 days can't end soon enough. And yet with three months to go until the end of the 43rd President's tenure, director Oliver Stone has already come out with a film that not only takes a look at the life and rise to power of George W. Bush, but also much of his term in the build-up and aftermath of the War in Iraq. Despite Stone's liberal leanings, it is surprising how generous it is in its portrayal of Bush Jr., whether intentional or not, but the film overall is uneven.

Not much needs to be said about the storyline as the life George W. Bush is fairly well-known. While Oliver Stone is a very capable director, the narrative felt overly repetitive, shifting too frequently between Bush's past and his presidency. I understand the intent, which was to keep things fresh so that the movie doesn't feel like its trudging from one scene to the next. Unfortunately, it happened so much that I inevitably felt that it happened way too much. Pacing was also an issue, with too many things feeling overlooked. As mentioned above, Stone is a very skilled director, unfortunately it felt like he was too aware of the clock and was trying to move things along in the interest of time. And yet, while it felt like things were missing (I'm interested in seeing what was left on the cutting room floor) the movie also felt like it extended its welcome by a good 30 minutes.

In general, the acting is top notch and the dialogue fairy believable. You can believe that you are watching and listening to George W. Bush, a nod to both screenwriter Stanley Weiser and especially actor Josh Brolin who gives the performance of a lifetime. Watch for Brolin during the award season. Also believable are Richard Dreyfuss as Dick Cheney, Jeffrey Wright as Colin Powell and Toby Jones as Karl Rove, whose portrayals are spot-on. Scott Gleen and other administration officials blend into the background and their portrayals are somewhat hard to judge, though they seem to do well.

However, there are a couple performances that feel uneven or out-of-place. Elizabath Banks may certainly have the look of Laura Bush down, but the character felt lifeless and one-dimensional. Whether that is due to Laura Bush not being the public eye nearly as much as former-First Lady Hilary Clinton was during her husband's presidency or simply a lack of interest on the part of writer Weiser (or both), there was neither life nor substance to this pivotal person in the titular character's life. And unfortunately, this feels like a big piece of the puzzle that was greatly overlooked, as it is stated in the first scene between W. and Laura that she votes Democratic, despite W.'s Republican party affiliations. How the two overcame different viewpoints and political standings to marry and have two daughters is something that is completely overlooked. And while I mention it, there is a passing mention of the Bush twins, nothing more. We don't even get any insight into what it is like for George W. Bush to be a father.

Next, is James Cromwell. There is nothing wrong with his performance. Actually, Cromwell is one of the most reliable character actors today. But in a movie that is so focused on charactures, you never get the feeling that Cromwell is actually George Bush Sr. While you have Brolin, Dreyfuss, Jones and company delivering in such ways that you believe they are the real thing, Cromwell's portrayal of Bush Sr. feels out of place.

And finally, Thandie Newton as Condoleeza Rice is plain insulting. Her performance is characture to the extreme in such a way that it is laughable! The look is there, but the mannerisms are played to such an extreme that not only are they laughable, they are distracting. Every time Newton is onscreen, you can't help but snicker because it is so bad and out-of-place. This is one instance where less definitely would've been better. Newton was trying way too hard!

I felt like there many missed opportunities in the film. Less time should've been spent on the buildup to the war in Iraq and more on the things that made George W. Bush who he is. As mentioned before, the relationship between Bush and wife Laura is barely touched upon. One moment, they're flirting. The next, they're dating. The next, they're married. In getting from point A to C to E, B and D were skipped. Also, it quickly becomes apparent that Karl Rove played a large part in making George W. Bush the politican that he is today. And yet, it is never touched upon how they met. Suddenly, Rove is there as one of Bush's most trusted advisors, with no explanation of how he got there nor how he gained such a prominent place in the Bush presidency. A deeper look into the Bush/Rove beginners would've been interesting.

And last, the conflict between Bush Sr. and Bush Jr. At the heart of the Bush family tension is the competition between George W. and brother Jeb, who seems to be the favorite of father and mother Bush. And yet, Jeb Bush barely gets any screentime, and whether the favoritism caused any tension between the two brothers was not even addressed. Nor was it really touched upon why Jeb was much more highly favored by their parents. Was Jeb more responsible then George? Was he a better student? Was he smarter? In the end, these are questions that are left unanswered.

In the end, the film felt 30 minutes too long, yet with pieces left on the cutting room floor that would've made a better movie. It seems that the wrong parts were cut. Yet, nothing about the movie felt new. It is something that most people already knew. Stone seems more interested in depicting the events in a constantly shifting narrative rather then providing any new insight into the life of George W. Bush. However, whether it was Stone's intention or not, Bush comes across as sympathetic.

Whatever your believe of George W. Bush, W. helped affirm to me what I have long been trying to understand; George W. Bush might not be the brightest man, nor the most qualified to ever hold the highest office in America, but he really isn't a bad man. I might not have ever voted for the guy, and nor will I ever, but I do believe that he is a good, caring man who holds strong convictions, whether they be right or wrong. While he probably will never go down as one of America's greatest presidents, in some ways, you can't help but feel sorry for the guy. At the end of W., that's exactly what I felt for him; sorry.

(of 4)

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Meet __(insert name)___ the __(insert profession)__!

Anyone who has been following the U.S. presidential election lately knows that in the last month-and-a-half, the global economic crisis has seen a large shift in the poll numbers in favor of Senator Barack Obama in his quest for the White house. John McCain's handling of the economic crisis saw his worst week in the campaign as he jumped from one message to the next from day-to-day, and in one case just a matter of hours!

Watching the way both candidates handled their approach to the situation (and the whole campaign in general) has been quite revealing to me. McCain's campaign is all over the map, with every day bringing a different message, and the overall tone is growing more and more negative and they are hitting the "fear" button whenever they can, even going as far as saying that Barack Obama "pals around with terrorists" and that his tax policies are "socialist". As we have seen, the more they hit the fear button, the worse things get and while it might appeal to far-right supporters, everyone closer to the middle and off to the left are getting turned off by this tactic. If McCain had the base that George W. Bush had in 2004, he wouldn't have to worry about Democrat or Independent voters. Bush lost both in the 2004 election, yet because of the size of his base took the election. But the size of the Republican base is much smaller then it was in 2004, and McCain now needs both his base and Independents to win the election. The problem is his tactics might be appeasing the base he needs, but they're also turning away the Independents he needs even more. Even watching John McCain in the debates, you see just how much he reacts to everything that is said, and at times there have been glimmers of the temper that has become infamous around the country.

I've been impressed by Obama's handling of the campaign and of the economic crisis as well. While McCain is saying that there needs to be swift and decisive action, had McCain been President when this crisis took place, I think we would not be better off. Obama chose to watch the way things were going and listen to economic advisors to try to determine the best course of action in a market that was simply all over the place. This showed an attempt at problem solving and critical thinking in a volatile situation where the wrong move at the wrong time could have disastrous implications.

I've also been impressed with how the Obama campaign has been run. He has a massive ground game all across the country the likes of which, many political pundits say, has never been seen. And when you watch the Obama campaign on TV in interviews they are very well coordinated and all have the same message and use the same phrase or terminology. It shows that his campaign is a well-oiled machine. And watching Obama on the debates he was always respectful, giving McCain is undivided attention, even smiling at him while McCain was speaking. Meanwhile, McCain spent the first two debates barely looking at Obama, and the third debate rolling his eyes half the time. Obama meanwhile was cool and thoughtful.

The question I face as I prepare to vote in two weeks is this: Which campaign do I want in the White House? The one that is erratic with many different messages, some of which try to divide instead of unite, with a candidate who is emotional and often times angry? Or do I want the one that is well-oiled, well-coordinated and almost-always on message, with a candidate who is cool, calm, respectful and thoughtful, assessing the situation before acting?

I've been quite amused by the way things have been since the third debate when a new star emerged onto the national scene. If you've paid attention, you know of whom I speak. Yes, I refer to Joe the Plumber.

Joe the Plumber was referenced 26 times in the last debate, something that eventually became laughable and ridiculous and fodder for late night comedians. Jon Stewart, David Letterman and the likes no doubt had a riot! Well, the McCain/Palin Campaign has taken it to such new heights that not only is Joe the Plumber their new mascot-apparent, but also given him a band of followers! In recent days, Joe the Plumber has been joined by...
  • Phil the Bricklayer
  • Rose the Teacher
  • and Tito the Builder
No, I am not making those up. Just look it up.

Oh...and they've also decided to pull Barack Obama into the fray: Barach the Wealth Spreader. Wow, how an already very nasty and ridiculous election is only going to get worse in the next fourteen days.

In 2012, we should take a hint from Canada and condense our 20-month election cycle into 37 days.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Don't Let This Be Your Wedding!

Maggie and I found this online earlier today! I sure hope this doesn't happen at our wedding!

Friday, October 17, 2008

The Return of Star Trek

Anton Yelchin, Chris Pine, Simon Pegg, Karl Urban, John Cho and Zoe Saldana star as the new incarnations of Captain Kirk, Dr. McCoy, Scotty, Chekov, Sulu and Uhura in the new J.J. Abrams Star Trek.

Most people who know me know that I have been and always shall be a Star Trek fan. For as long as I can remember, I have loved Star Trek. I grew up watching first-run episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation ever since I lived in St. Mary's, where I also remember watching Star Trek: The Motion Picture for the first time and loving it so much I wanted to watch again! Of course, little did I know that it was two-and-a-half hour movie!

I have so many memories of loving Star Trek, from seeing Star Trek V in the movie theater (today, I cringe at how bad it was) to seeing the best cliffhanger of all-time at the end of Best of Both Worlds TNG's season 3 ender ("Mr.!" is all I can say)! I've seen every movie since The Final Frontier (the 5th) in the movie theater. Star Trek helped flourish my young imagination and gave me the desire to write my own little Star Trek stories! I have countless Trek novels and comic books, still have a number of my action figures, and own 9 of the 10 movies and four seasons of Deep Space 9 on DVD.

I've seen Star Trek during its glory days and I've seen its unfortunate decline during the late-90s. Say what you will about what contributed to Star Trek's fall from grace. Many fans blame it on producer Rick Berman for just running out of ideas. Can you blame him? He was associated with Star Trek from its re-introduction to television in 1987 all the way to May 2005! Can't you blame him for being creatively bankrupt?

For me Star Trek topped out with the 8th film and my personal favorite Star Trek: First Contact in 1996 and the final three seasons of Deep Space 9 which finished in May 1999. I admit that Voyager was entertaining for me during its 7-year run, but I have a hard time watching most rerun episodes, and while Star Trek: Enterprise had promise and potential, it was evident that Star Trek in today's society was not what it used to be. Star Trek didn't have the appeal that it used to, and it showed not only in the ratings for Enterprise, but also Star Trek: Nemesis's (2002) box office intake of $43 million!

When it was announced in February 2005 that Enterprise would be ending that May and Star Trek would be taking a break, I felt that it was necessary. Not only did it need a break, it needed fresh hands to direct it. How quickly things moved because in early- to mid-2006 it was announced that J.J. Abrams would be producing a new Star Trek movie!

While it's been going through the various stages of production since then, they finished filming in the spring and the new film is set to be released in May 2009. J.J. Abrams has run a pretty tight ship, keeping leaks and information to a minimum. In fact, many members of the cast have joked at the secrecy involved in the production!

While not much is known about the film, it is well-known by now that this is an origin story of the original crew of the Enterprise. While many fans are cautious, there is much excitement in knowing that Abrams and his team of writers are huge Trek fans and the biggest vote of confidence comes from one of its stars: Leonard Nimoy. While the characters have been recast and the look has been updated, Leonard Nimoy has agreed to come out of retirement to play an older Mr. Spock because he loved the script! For those of you who do not know, Leonard Nimoy was offered the chance to direct 1994's Star Trek: Generations but turned it down because he felt it was too weak and pointed out many of the script's flaws. For many fans, Nimoy knows what is good for Trek, especially since he is the only member of the very original cast (I mean, the first pilot pre-Shatner) to survivor into what we all know now as Star Trek.

In the last couple of days, the first photos have arisen of the new crew and various shots of the new bridge set. I can't help but feel kind of giddy at what I am seeing and I'm very excited about the possibilities for this new film! My one disappointment? So far there are no images of the new look for the Enterprise! Ah well...guess I'll just have to wait for the trailer attached to Quantum of Solace, the new Bond flick!

Don't be surprised to hear a lot from me on Star Trek over the next nine months while I wait for opening day!

Zachary Quinto is the younger Spock.

The bridge of the original U.S.S. Enterprise has never looked better!

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

The Clumsy Stormtrooper

I was watching Star Wars (the original) just the other night when I saw something that I had never seen before! Watch the stormtrooper on the right side of the screen just as they pass under the door!

If that wasn't intentional, I really don't know how that made it into the final cut of the movie!

Also, here's another little video (an oldie, but a goodie) that I really like!

Monday, May 26, 2008

Film Review: Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull

There is a point in the latest Indiana Jones movie where Indiana Jones and ex-girlfriend Marion Ravenwood are sinking in quick sand and are shouting for companions Mutt Williams and Professor Oxley to help them get out of the sinking sand. This shouting takes place despite the fact that they are in the midst of trying to escape from their Russian captors. While they manage to survive the jungle death trap, they fall right back into the hands of their Russian captors for the third time (out of four total) in the movie, and this is barely passed the one hour point!

It was at this point that my enjoyment for the fourth Indiana Jones movie (subtitled the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull) was doing something that Dr. Jones himself was having trouble doing; escaping.

The Plot
We pick up in 1957; 19 years after Indiana Jones embarked on The Last Crusade. Indiana Jones is “recruited” by Russian spies to break into a secret American warehouse (one that should appear familiar to most Indy fans) to find a mysterious mummy that Indy helped recover 10 years prior. After a heroic escape, Indiana Jones is accused of being a Communist and is about to lose his job at the university.

Indy is informed by Mutt Williams that Indy’s old friend Professor Oxley and Mutt’s mother Marion have been kidnapped by the Russians in a plot involving the search for a crystal skull linked to Mayan legend. With Mutt at his side, Indy embarks on a journey to find the crystal skull and rescue his friends before the Russians are able to use the skull to unlock a mystical power that will help tip the balance of the Cold War in their favor.

The Good
First off, I’m a huge Indiana Jones fan. I’ve grown up with Indiana Jones, have made a couple Indiana Jones videos as projects for school and have my own fedora. For me Raiders of the Lost Ark remains a classic masterpiece with excellent writing, direction, music and acting. It’s almost perfect in every way. Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom while not as good as the original is still able to hold its own and is by no means bad. And The Last Crusade is an absolute delight, not only for the story and adventure themselves but also for the wonderful interactions between Harrison Ford and Sean Connery as father and son. When rumors started circulating several years ago about a fourth installment, I remained skeptical given the amount of time that had passed since The Last Crusade. Harrison Ford was, by no means, young anymore.

However, Harrison Ford remains the movie’s strongest element. Not only does Harrison Ford easily slip back into the role of Indiana Jones and is an absolute delight to watch, he is also believable in the action sequences. Mr. Ford is 65 looking like he’s only 55! It is probably the strongest performance from Harrison Ford, that I can recall, in years. He looks like he is having a blast and is still able to kick butt and take numbers as he goes along. Considering whether or not Harrison Ford could still play Indiana Jones believably was one of my gravest concerns, my concerns were laid quickly to rest.

Surprisingly, Shia LaBeouf is able to hold himself well against Ford. While he seems a bit awkward in his opening scenes and, at times, seems to try too hard to act “tough”, he plays the rebellious 50’s greaser quite well. However, I still don’t quite buy the young Mr. LaBeouf being able to sustain his own spin-off from the franchise as it appears to be what they are attempting to setup.

The first half of the movie is pretty decent. While it drags a little, it manages to establish the plot quite well. The opening chase and shootout in the warehouse is done very well, and together with the bike chase a few minutes later, these two sequences make the film’s finest moments. The bike chase through the university campus is done quite well and effectively mixes humor and action, including a moment I found especially amusing as a throwback to The Last Crusade; at a particular moment, while Mutt is amused by a certain incident, Indy is not, giving Mutt a scornful scowl, reminding quite a lot of the looks that Connery often gave Ford in The Last Crusade.

The humor is ramped up throughout and I found it to be quite effective, from the brawl in the 50’s café, to the bike chase, to the aforementioned quicksand scene which (while not logical) is still quite amusing to watch unfold.

The Not-So-Good
Now to get to the major weaknesses of the movie.

What was so good about the action in the first half of the movie was that it was done practically. One of the great strengths about the Indiana Jones movies is that all the action was done with the actors themselves or stuntmen. You felt the thrill of someone performing the stunts and actually doing what was seen onscreen. Unfortunately, much of the action in the last half, including the jungle chase, relies too heavily on CG. In Raiders of the Lost Ark, Harrison Ford was actually being dragged by a truck after passing underneath it! What made it so fun and so thrilling is that it happened and that there was risk and thrill involved. That’s what made it so thrilling. In the jungle chase, all the thrills are gone because there’s no sense of danger because you know the actors are standing in front of a green screen. And unfortunately, given Steven Spielberg’s statements that there would be very little done in the way of CGI, the amount that is done is rather disappointing.

Also, my other big gripe about the action in the last half is that it felt like Indiana Jones was largely absent from the center of it. What made Indiana Jones so special in previous outings was that his sidekicks and ladies always stood on the sidelines and watched as Indiana got beaten to a pulp and yet always managed to come out on top. Only Indiana Jones could slide underneath a movie truck, then come back and throw the driver out the front windshield and escape with the Ark. Only Indiana Jones could cut a rope bridge in half and live to tell about it. Only Indiana Jones could fight the Nazis on top of a movie tank as it fell off a cliff and walk away to retrieve the Holy Grail. These things made Indiana Jones so special because he was always so lucky! But the only point that Indiana Jones felt lucky was when he climbed into a fridge (you’ll understand when you see it). This time, it felt like it was everyone else who was getting lucky while Indiana Jones was the one on the sidelines. You know there is something missing when you can’t recall a single triumphant rendition of the Raider’s March in the last half of the film because Indiana Jones didn’t do anything particularly heroic.

Next, there are moments that come across as way over-the-top and are just unnecessary. Such moments include gags involving Mutt being repeatedly hit in the groin while standing between two jeeps as they speed through the jungle, while at the same time taking part in a sword fight with Cate Blanchett. Another moment is Mutt finds himself trapped in some fines with monkeys, and before you know it is swinging through jungle from vine-to-vine like Tarzan! I couldn’t help but wonder just what was going on!

While Harrison Ford is back in top shape and Shia LeBeouf does an admirable job as Mutt Williams, the rest of the characters are not well-written at all. Unfortunately, great actors like Cate Blanchett (as top villainess Irina Spalko), William Hurt and Jim Broadbent are wasted in worthless roles. While they do what they can with the underwritten material, you can’t help but feel that their time was wasted. Also, what was the point of having Marion return? Aside from the fact that she is there to deliver the crucial line that Mutt is Indy’s son, there is very little reason for her to be in this movie. Not even the closing scene between her and Indy is able to makeup for that, especially since at no point did it feel like that was where the characters were leading up to. Not only did Marion return out of nowhere, the closing outcome between her and Indy felt like it came out of nowhere because nothing took place to lead up to that! It doesn’t help that Marion is nowhere near the same character that she was in Raiders of the Lost Ark. Where Marion was able to drink a grown man under the table and still manage to fight in a burning bar moments later, this Marion feels defanged and like the only bite she has left in her is to bicker with Indiana Jones.

The Nazis were wonderful adversaries for Dr. Jones in the previous films, but unfortunately, the Russians don’t quite measure up to them. There is nothing menacing about the Russians, nor is there anything menacing about the top henchmen nor even Irina Spalko herself. You know the top henchmen Dovchenko doesn’t pose much of a threat to Indy because Indy just about kicks his butt at the outset of the film. And there is nothing threatening about Blanchett’s Spalko. She is nowhere near the same level as previous Indy villains. She is neither spooky nor seems particularly menacing, nor do we completely understand her motivation for pursuing the crystal skulls.

Spoilers ahead! This brings me to the story. While there is nothing wrong with using the crystal skulls as the film’s Magoffin considering there is actually a myth surrounding them, the ultimate revelation at the movie’s climax is rather disappointing and ultimately mind-boggling. All I can say is that this is truly the work of George Lucas, who is not the magical filmmaker that he was in the 70s and early-80s. The origins of the skulls and the influence those origins had on Aztec society seem extremely out-of-place in an Indiana Jones movie. As soon as I saw where the movie was heading halfway through, I couldn’t believe it and kept saying there had to be someway of getting around what they were setting up. Unfortunately, it quickly became clear that that was exactly where they were taking it. I found myself extremely disappointed.

The movie’s climax felt like a mix of three different movies. One element felt like a throwback to the melting Nazis from Raiders of the Lost Ark. Another element felt like a throwback to the attempt to save Elsa at the end of The Last Crusade. And the final element felt like a throwback to, yes I’ll say it, The X-Files. Unfortunately, where The X-Files succeeded, Kingdom of the Crystal Skull fails. At least that element had a place in that movie.

Anyone who has followed the progress of this movie over the years will know that it has taken years to get this movie off the ground and that many, many drafts were thrown out because one of the three major parties needed to sign-off on it (Ford, Spielberg and Lucas) were not happy with it. And much was made not too long ago about Ford and Spielberg being happy with a script but Lucas was not. All I can say is; this is the script it took 19 years and many drafts to finally film? It feels like this script was a mish-mash of previous drafts, taking elements from each one, to hopefully make an acceptable collage of what everybody liked. This could've used a few more rewrites and an all-new payoff, because the movie's climax felt very lacking.

The Final Rundown
For me, Raiders of the Lost Ark and The Last Crusade remain the two best films in the series, while The Temple of Doom and Kingdom of the Crystal Skull are the weakest. It seems Indiana Jones has his own version of Star Trek’s odd-even curse; the even-numbered films are the weakest.

Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull
is exactly a bad movie; it’s just not exactly a necessary one. As I left the theater, I found myself having been entertained, and at the same time very disappointed and wondering what the point of it was. While Harrison Ford was able to successfully able to slip right back into the fedora, it doesn’t seem like Steven Spielberg and George Lucas were able to do the same. Kingdom of the Crystal Skull doesn’t have the same fun feeling to it of its predecessors, nor does it have the same magic.

1/2 (of 4)

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Time to Join the Fun!

Well my family has been blogging for a couple years now. Both my parents have their own blogs, my aunts and uncles have blogs, a few of my cousins have blogs, so I thought I would finally join in on all the fun!

Don't know why I finally decided to do this. Maybe it was because I have too much time on my hands to finally devote the time needed to run my own blog? Maybe I was just getting bored? Maybe I have so lots of things on my mind that I wish to share? Or maybe it's been months since my dad last hounded me to start my own blog, so I finally decided to do it?

Or all of the above, you take your pick.

Really I don't know the point of my blog or why I'm doing this, but I was sitting bored this morning playing Game Cube in the Youth Center at work trying to pass the time away before the second part of my split-shift started thinking about lots of things. I was thinking about the movie I saw last night with my girlfriend Maggie and formulating a review for the movie in my head. I was thinking about the mess that has become the Presidential election here in the United States with five months to go, and we haven't even reached the "general" election yet! Mostly, I was thinking about how my 17-year-old brother will be leaving next weekend to go to the Crossmen for two-and-a-half months and then heading straight to college at Louisiana State University, meaning that I won't see him again until later this year!

I realized that this would be a good way for me to communicate with Josh while he is away at college so that we're not playing phone tag, since I'm regularly out late into the evening and might miss any phone calls he might make home just to say hi. So that was my finally motivation to start blogging; to keep up with my little brother while he's away at college.

I don't know how regularly I'll post, but I plan on posting my thoughts and feelings on things such as the election and anything else that goes on in the world of politics, things that go on at work, a funny story that might have taken place during the day, a joke I might have heard, a review on a new music CD or soundtrack, or a review of a movie that I've just seen. In fact, count on plenty of reviews, because I went to the movie theater almost 40 times in 2007! While I'm nowhere close to that count this year (I'm only at 7 trips) you can still count on plenty of reviews, even if it's not a recent release. It could be something that's been out for a while or something that I've just recently decided to revisit and post my comments on it.

So what's up-and-coming? Well, I'm currently working on a review for Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, so if you're interested in that, feel free to come back and check in. As for that, I really don't know. That's all I have for now.

By the way, I struggled with the name for my blog before finally settling on something that will hopefully demonstrate my quirky sense of humor!