Showing 11 - 20 of 28 posts found matching keyword: morals
Tuesday 19 June 2012
Movies for the second week in May. I'm getting really close to 150. When I get there, should I stop tracking, or should I try to see just how many I can watch in 2012?
141. The Innocents (1961)
Typically, I'm not much for ghost stories. In addition to relying heavily on maudlin sentimentality, their internal logic is always a necessary few steps out of sync with reality. I have a hard time "buying in," so to speak. But this film has great atmosphere, truly achieving a creepy vibe. Less is more, and the director knew it. I can respect that.
142. The Wolfman (2010)
Oh, my. This movie is bad. The original Universal Wolfman looked like a hirsute garbage collector. In trying to pay homage, this "update" so desperate for "realism" suffers all the worse for not updating this unrealistic looking monster in any significant way. It compounds this sin by making the transformations cgi! Hugo Weaving easily steals the film from both Benicio Del Toro and Anthony Hopkins his small role, but I'm used to that by now.
143. The Hangover Part II (2011)
I thought this was better than the first, but Trey thought it was more of the same. It is indeed more of the same, and maybe I just enjoyed it more because I knew the formula already.
144. Love Finds Andy Hardy (1938)
Twenty minutes of screen time are spent using a ham radio to deliver a message of good will in what passes as dramatic tension in this film. Another few minutes are spent hiring the domestic help, or haggling over a contract to buy a car. Riveting cinema! Forget watching paint dry, from now on, I'm going to use the expression "more boring than watching Andy Hardy."
145. Hanna (2011)
The best part about this action/revenge fantasy film is its European sensibility. It starts with an interesting premise and some pretty entertaining action scenes, but by the end of the film it has become just another action movie. The film is not helped by Cate Blanchett's disappearing/reappearing Southern accent.
146. The Adjustment Bureau (2011)
Trey had started watching this while I was in a conference call, so I only caught the last half of this action/romance movie. As you would expect, I find the "shadow government so big it controls the actions of everyone in the world but so secret no one has ever heard of it" concept ridiculous. And who doesn't love a movie whose moral is that if we are all just pig-headed enough, The Man will reward our asshole behavior with our heart's desire? Matt Damon seems earnest enough (as a politician!) that I begrudge this film no ill will.
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Wednesday 29 February 2012
Today is Leap Day. That makes it Superman's birthday. And anything good enough for Superman was good enough for Captain Marvel to steal, so it's Captain Marvel's birthday as well.
When the wizard Shazam turned Billy Batson into the world's mightiest mortal, he created a bit of a problem. See, Billy Batson and Captain Marvel are two different people, at least as far as the world is concerned. Therefore Captain Marvel couldn't just have the same birthday as Billy Batson, because then the good Captain's enemies would be able to discern his secret identity by threatening all 6,000 or so people born on the same day as Captain Marvel. (Back in the Golden Age, super villains had a lot of time on their hands.)
Rather than select a "birth" date completely at random, Captain Marvel chose a date just to cheese off his arch-nemesis, Dr. Sivana. Perhaps behavior like this is the reason that he has an arch-nemesis.
So if you learn just one thing today, perhaps it should be not to go out of your way to remind your adversaries of their failures. That's not a good way to make friends.
Friday 26 August 2011
Lately, thanks to a recent article in the New York Times newspaper, I've been reading up on decision fatigue. Apparently the act of making a decision can deplete the brain's resources to make future decisions. In other words, the more decisions that you make, the harder it is to make decisions. I think there must be something meaningful about this research, but I can't decide what that is.
For scientific purposes, the difficult-to-quantify factor that allows you to make decisions is called willpower. Willpower appears to be depleted as decisions are made, but can be replenished by ingestion of glucose. Therefore, because of my continuous consumption of Coca-Cola, I am an unstoppable decision-making machine!
However, a Time magazine article refutes the Times article with evidence that willpower is only depleted by those who believe that willpower can be depleted, making the existence of decision fatigue itself a question of willpower. This means that those who believe that they can become fatigued by decisions are fatigued by decisions, and those who don't, aren't. That's mind-over-mind for you.
The good news is that this research isn't pointless. The real lesson to take away from all of this scientific research is that because I believe that my continuous consumption of Coca-Cola makes me an unstoppable decision-making machine, it does. Take that, science.
Thursday 12 May 2011
After my mother chewed me out for my niggardly approach to home repair, I got off my bum and tore the cabinets out of the kitchen. This necessary work had been much delayed, party because I'm lazy, and partly because it was really a two-man job. If you've ever read any of my other DIY exploits, you can probably begin to guess where this is going.
The kitchen cabinets were low-quality to begin with, and over the years they had begin to come apart. More than one cabinet door had fallen off over time as the hinges succumbed to metal fatigue. When a shiftless computer programmer rips a cabinet door off its hinge, either the last Coca-Cola in the house is behind that door, or it's time to replace the cabinets.
Trey had helped me take down the first two cabinets a few months ago. That operation had taken a considerable amount of blood and sweat, and had resulted in a pizza-sized hole in the wall. Alone, I was determined to be more careful with the 6 remaining cabinets and keep the walls intact. So the first thing I did was scratch the kitchen floor while moving the island out of the way for the safety ladder.
It quickly became apparent that the remaining cabinets weren't going to come off any easier than the first two. After 20 careful minutes with a drill, packing knife, hammer, and pry bar, I finally had a cabinet off the wall with no major structural damage to the wall, the cabinet, or me. The next cabinet was no easier. The third harder still. So much caulk had been used on installation, these suckers were practically glued to the wall. Mistake number one: never trust anything that was installed by someone who uses caulk like glue.
The fourth cabinet was potentially dangerous. It hung over the stove and had live electrical wires where the wall-mounted microwave had once been. (That microwave had died years earlier and long been removed to the garbage dump.) I carefully taped off the wire and unmounted the electrical box that had been installed inside the cabinet. I also removed the sheet metal screws holding the stove's exhaust vent in place. However, I still had to access the crawl space behind the bathroom upstairs to gently remove the exhaust pipe without damaging the exhaust vent on the roof, a vent which only last month I had repaired from leaking in the rain. No sooner had I fully dislodged the exhaust pipe than I heard a tremendous crash below me. I was holding the pipe, but someone should have been holding the cabinet.
When I extricated myself from the crawlspace and rushed downstairs (accompanied by my repeated and inventive profanity-laden exclaimations), I found what I expected: the cabinet had crashed down onto the range. It turns out that the exhaust pipe had been the only thing holding the cabinet in place. The caulk that had acted as cement for all the other cabinets had been destroyed by the now-repaired leak in the roof. The one cabinet that could really damage something if it fell had fallen and damaged something.
The glass range top was smashed, and the oven, the one large appliance in the kitchen that worked perfectly was now destroyed. Fortunately, the electrical wires weren't damaged in the fall. I could begin cleaning up without worrying about electrocution. And while I did immediately proceed to slice my finger open while cleaning up the mess, it wasn't on a piece of giant jagged glass, but on a small rusty nail. So thank goodness for that.
Naturally, the two remaining cabinets were the hardest of all to remove. I even had to smash the final cabinet above the refrigerator into its component pieces with a hammer to separate it from all the caulk and stripped screws holding it place. By the end, I did not for a minute worry about saving the wall.
If there is a moral to this story, I suspect that it's this: never do what your mother tells you. Either way you'll doom yourself to a future of cold dinners, so you might as well just avoid all that work.
Thursday 31 March 2011
True story: a man has died in a one-car accident in New Orleans. The man's name was Lance Williams, and he was found dead in the Desire neighborhood of New Orleans after his car left the road and struck a rigid utility pole. According to investigators, speed was an issue.
Punchline: Mr. Williams was known to drive one-handed; he had a police record as a serial masturbator. He had been arrested multiple times for public indecency, his latest as recently as March 23. Reportedly, he liked to drive up to women and pleasure himself from the driver's seat of his car.
If the New Orleans Times-Picayune hadn't run this story last Monday, I would have sworn that it was an April Fool's joke. Though the facts in this case are pretty hard to swallow, to have made jokes about this man's death would have been in bad taste. Let this be a lesson, kids: keep your eyes on the road and your hands off the stick shift, or you might find you've made a big mess of yourself.
Wednesday 26 January 2011
A couple of nights ago, I had this dream:
I was hanging out with my good friend, the actor who played the title role in Robert Altman's movie Popeye. No, not Robin Williams, the guy who actually looked like Popeye. (This is a dream, remember. It all made sense at the time.)
Anyway, me and my friend who looked like Popeye had joined the cast of a reality television show similar to VH1's Surreal Life. There were about a dozen minor celebrities present, including an unidentified comic book artist and some mixed martial artists who I didn't know. I don't watch that stuff. I don't know why these guys were, but they seemed to think that I should know them. I was polite to them even though they were really stupid and boorish, because I didn't want them to kick my ass.
After shooting the breeze for some time in the den, all the while surrounded by television cameras, we were escorted to dinner in the expansive kitchen/dining room. This room had a tiki theme, which made perfect sense because we were on an island. The kitchen was open, separated from the large table only by space, allowing the production crew -- which was at least as numerous as the guests -- plenty of room for movement. This is when things got weird.
Show host Jeff Probst announced that we would now have our first challenge, and the loser would be kicked off the show. A male, grass-skirted handler was brought in to show off the island's native insect, a large centipede. Except that this centipede looked not like the familiar exotic insect, but more like the centipede from the arcade game Centipede: it was made primarily of 6-12 large brightly colored circles strung together. This species of centipede came in two colors: maraschino red and radioactive green. The 24-inch centipede was dangled wiggling in front of the camera. The challenge would be to eat these insects.
Most of the cast objected instantly and vehemently, but the chef, a large, tattooed Samoan, merely chuckled as he quickly and effortlessly cut the exoskeleton off the centipedes with with 6 swipes of his very large knife. The centipedes were served raw, stacked high on silver platters delivered to the assembled diners. Probst gave the signal, and the game started.
I distinctly remember holding one of the green centipedes up to get a good look at it and seeing the overhead light through it's moist, translucent body. The creature had no innards, but looked like a candied cucumber. The only organ visible was about the size of a gum-ball located in the head. Rationally, this must have been the creature's surprisingly large brain. It looked, however, more like a cell nucleus. Or a Tootsie Roll Pop.
The rest of the table was already chowing down on the centipedes with very little complaint. So I put it in my mouth and bit down. I was instantly revolted. It tasted like... fruit. I hate fruit! I tried to chew, but each bite was more and more like eating a sweet, juicy apple. Finally I could take no more, and I spit out the masticated fruit centipede. I was told that I would lose the contest if I quit, to which I replied that I didn't want any part of their contest anyway. And I woke up.
I learned a valuable lesson that night: I'd rather eat insects than fruit. Fruit is gross.
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Tuesday 28 December 2010
Amazon.com announced yesterday that the Kindle v3 is their best-selling product ever. I'm pretty sure that means that I now have to hate it. Damn it. I was really getting use to reading Kindle in bed.
The previous best-seller for Amazon was Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. That book has sold more than 44 million copies worldwide, so maybe that gives some idea of how many Kindles have been sold. We have to guess because Amazon hasn't told us.
Of course, Amazon saying that their best selling item is their own Kindle would be like the United States government announcing that the best selling car in America was a government-subsidized Chevy Volt. There's a bit of a credibility gap when the manufacturer is the one telling everyone how much everyone loves the product.
So now I have my choice of morals for this story: either I'm allowed to like the Kindle because it isn't really selling well, or I might like a Chevy Volt because popular things aren't so bad as I'm inclined to think that they are. Next time you see me, take a look at what car I'm driving to see which lesson I eventually learned.
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Tuesday 14 December 2010
Let's learn cause and effect with Superboy in "The Cigar that Killed Superboy!"
Ever hear of carcinoma, Superboy? As Pa Kent learned the hard way, lung cancer is the most common cancer-related death in America. Remember kids, "super-convenience" may seem swell, but you'll feel far less guilty if you make your parents get their own matches! Better luck with your next set of parents, Kal-El!
Monday 18 May 2009
In between networks promos and local cable advertisements during The Penguins of Madagascar (clearly they've run out of good names for cartoons these days) on Nickelodeon, I encountered two the most senseless commercials I've seen in recent months.
The first was an ad for Honey Nut Cheerios featuring their animated mascot, Buzz. The only problem with this commercial was that it didn't make any sense. Honest-to-goodness transcript as follows:
BEE: Buzz, everybody's at the Honey Geyser to make Honey Nut Cheerios!
BUZZ: Yeah, 'cause here comes the honey!
Honey Geyser erupts, but then is drawn back in on itself in a honey vortex.
BUZZ: Where's it going? Come on!
No one follows Buzz into the vortex.
BUZZ: Where am I? And the honey... It's being sucked into that mummy's tomb!
Cue glowing, growing, growling sarcophagus.
BUZZ: I've only got one shot at this!
Buzz points his wooden honey dipper like a magic wand at the sarcophagus. The honey dipper releases electricity which topples nearby obelisks, damming the honey stream, causing the sarcophagus to shrink.
Buzz leaves as the geyser starts flowing again.
BEE: Buzz, you're safe!
BUZZ: And so's our honey, so everybody can have delicious Honey Nut Cheerios.
VOICEOVER: It's the honey sweet part of a good breakfast. From the hive that's nuts about honey.
Lessons learned: honey comes from honey geysers, is coveted by bee-mummies (who present only a mild inconvenience), and honey dippers are electrical in nature. None of which makes me want to eat cereal.
The very next commercial broadcast was done infomercial style for Touch-N-Brush, "the hands-free toothpaste dispenser that works with just a touch!" The highlight of this ad is the series of images of apparently physically or mentally handicapped people frustrated by messy, hard-to-use, and difficult to understand toothpaste tubes. "You squeeze. You roll. You press. Now your bathroom looks a mess!"
Maybe this commercial is speaking to the portion of America I've never visited, but I don't recall seeing any bathrooms where dried toothpaste was on all the countertops, sinks, and walls as depicted by the users in this commercial. If that's how these people squeeze toothpaste tubes, I'm interested in watching them squeeze ketchup, shake hands, or hug their children.
Lessons learned: Squeezing a tube of toothpaste is hard. Can't someone else do it for me?
Saturday 3 May 2008
I was really pulling for Pyro in today's 134th running of the Kentucky Derby. However, Pyro was unable to catch fire after being snuffed by other runners right out of the gate. This is two consecutive bad races for Pyro, who appears to have burned out after scorching the field with blazing speed earlier in his career. (I'm sorry for all that, really I am.)
Other sad news was the euthanization of the filly Eight Belles following the race for two leg fractures. Ironically, "eight bells" is nautical slang for the end of a ship's watch shift and is used by sailors as a euphemism for death. Someone probably should have told this to the filly's parents.
The moral to this Kentucky Derby is be very, very careful what you name your horse.