Friday, July 22, 2011

Spider-Man Reboot

As you the 3 readers of this blog may or may not be aware, the trailer for the new Spiderman movie is out.

From what I can tell, this movie is a complete reboot of the Spiderman movie franchise.

But why?

I watched and enjoyed all three of the Sam Raimi-directed Spiderman movies. They were quite enjoyable, and I loved watching the character portrayed by Tobey Maquire mature from irresponsible teenager to responsible adult, who learned important life lessons along the way.

I was disappointed when it was announced that Raimi would no longer be directing the SM movies.

But I was even further disappointed upon seeing this apparent reboot of the entire franchise.

Movie franchises have been rebooted before. Sometimes, as in the case of the Batman movies, it was successful. And necessary. Seriously. If you can find anyone who thinks that Batman and Robin wasn't the cinematic equivalent of used Porta-John, please let me know.

It was for this reason that Batman Begins and The Dark Knight exist. That second movie became one of the highest grossing films in history.

There have, of course, been other series reboots that failed miserably. Superman Returns comes to mind.

But the last Spiderman film was not a failure, as far as I'm concerned. So why the reboot?

The only reason I can think of is that Hollyweird has come to view the attention span of the average person as negligible. How else can you explain the vast acceptance of movie audiences who watched skyscrapers toppled in the latest Transformers movie with little discomfort, less than ten years after September 11th?

Food for thought.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

If I Could Have Said It Any Better...

I wouldn't have, because I don't think that's possible.

I have no way of knowing if this man's statement is authentic, but based on my visual analysis of the picture he seems to be the right age.

Please note that I am willing to provide disclaimers. Something that cannot be said of the right wing keyboard brigade.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

The National Pastime

I recently overheard a conversation between two of my co-workers. They were lamenting about the lack of on-field fireworks that occurred during last week's Baseball All-Star Game.

They believed that baseball was doomed in this country.

They couldn't possibly be more wrong.

Baseball is unique among all other sports. It is the one sport where every single statistic is computed to the third decimal. It is the one sport where hitting only 3 out of every ten balls thrown at you in the right place makes you an All-Star. It is the one sport where players willingly stand with a piece of wood in their hands and face hard objects hurled at them at speeds often greater than 90 miles per hour.

And it is the one sport where it is easy to realize very early in life that you have absolutely no talent for. This realization came to yours truly about the tender age of 8 or 9. It was when I realized that I had absolutely no ability to hit a thrown baseball. Or catch one. Or throw one with any degree of accuracy.

The only skill I was able to contribute to my little league team was my ability to get on base. Y'see, I was (and still am) short, so my strike zone was so tiny that few pitchers in my league could find it. So, most of the time, I would simply stand at the plate, take four pitches as balls, and be on first. I would then immediately steal second, then third, in short order (I was small, but I could run like hell. It helped me escape bullies.) I would be in scoring position in the space of two pitches. The only times I ever struck out was when I actually swung at a pitch.

It takes a special kind of talent to hit a baseball. You have to be able to see a mud-covered (look it up) baseball traveling at you at 90+ miles per hour, from a height of about 2 feet above you. You have less than half a second to determine if said baseball is going to be in an area where you have a reasonably good chance of making contact if you swing at it.

I don't have that talent. I never did, despite the efforts of my little league coaches. The sort of talent required to do that on a regular basis does not exist in 99,999 out of 100,000 people. Maybe more. It's something you are blessed with from birth. Practice helps, but it can only hone what talent already exists. The minor leagues of baseball are filled with people who are almost talented enough to accomplish this feat. I see many of them every time I attend a Mud Hens game.

Which brings me, in my usual extreme roundabout way, to my point: The aforementioned co-workers were lamenting that being a great baseball player is something kids in this country don't look forward to any more.

The refutation of that thought can be found in the tiny town of Blissfield, Michigan, and the surrounding areas.

Blissfield is a tiny town. So is just about every single town around it. And yet, the Blissfield Royals high school baseball team wins. A lot.

Baseball is cyclical. It always goes through periods of pitching dominating hitting, and vice versa. This past Friday I witnessed a Mud Hens game that was an extreme pitching duel, until one swing of a bat (a grand slam home run) changed the entire game (Unfortunately, the wrong team got the winning hit. But that's another story.)

Baseball has earned its appellation as the National Pastime. It has weathered scandal after scandal. It has had its highs and lows. People scorn players accused of doping. Yet they worship players like Babe Ruth. By all accounts, Ruth was a drunk and a boor. And yet he is held up as the gold standard of baseball players, even though Hank Aaron, who broke Ruth's MLB home run record after playing in the Negro League before being signed in the MLB.

And it may be true that baseball has lost some of its sparkle lately. But it will always be there. Take a 20 minute drive along the streets of any major city, and tell me if you don't see at least 5 baseball fields.

Baseball is a sport that is unique to this country. And don't try to tell me that it evolved from Cricket. I've seen Cricket matches, and they're not even close.

Baseball will survive. It may go through rough patches over the years, but it will still be there.

Saturday, July 09, 2011

The Cynic

I've come to the realization that any person who reads a few entries on this blog may think I'm terminally depressed. I know. What a surprise, right?

It's not true.

I'm a cynic. There is a strong difference.

Cynicism has been around since the time of the ancient Greeks. Look it up. Do I really have to tell you people again that I am not your damn search engine?!

I don't believe that I am destined to live a life of happiness. I believe that I am destined to live a life of contentment.

I am content when I sit and enjoy a good movie or a good book. I am content to enjoy a meal of food that I like. I am content to have a job that pays me a living wage and affords me benefits that ensure I will remain in good health, and enjoy a comfortable retirement once I've worked long enough to ensure I have earned that privilege. I'm willing to enjoy the companionship of friends, family, and others if they are willing to offer it to me.

These are things I am willing to work to earn. I don't object to doing so.

What I DO object to is people, be they politicians, pundits, religious leaders, or corporate titans (too often, many are more than one of the above) trying their best to tell me that by doing everything I have described above I'm in the wrong. That I should be doing things differently. And who try to take my right to act as I see fit away from me.

As a cynic, one of my refuges is sarcasm. It's a tool that's been around nearly since the origin of the English language. And it's helped me more times than I can possibly count.

My other refuge is honesty. As a public servant, I've had the opportunity to meet more than a few polticians. And I've always offered them my honest opinion, if I was asked. It hasn't happened often. Honesty is the enemy of politics.

Being a cynic means never being unhappy, or worse, depressed. You can be displeased, disgruntled, or angry, but never unhappy or depressed. Being unhappy or depressed means that you've given up on thinking that things will always be alright. Not perfect by any stretch of the imagination, but never broken. I will never think that. And I will continue to make fun of people who think that. These are the people who slit their wrists or pop too many pills.

Those people need professional help. Help they'll never get if the folks who are currently in power have their way.

Food for thought.

Sunday, July 03, 2011

The Strangest Dream

This morning, I woke up from what was quite possibly the strangest dream I've ever experienced. I was, for some inexplicable reason, a reporter reporting about a summer camp that was exclusively for HIV infected children.

As happens with all dreams, the exact details were very fuzzy. But as my brain awoke from its sleep-fogged state, it began to fill in the the details, as often happens with most dreams that people remember.

You have to remember at this point that we do not remember 99% of the dreams we have. That is simply because most of the dreams we experience happen while we are in deep sleep. Many have theorized about the reasoning behind this, but I believe that it is simply our conscious brain's way of protecting us from the thoughts that lie in our sub-conscious--thoughts that are far too dark for us to know and remain sane.

But we do remember the dreams we happen to experience just before we wake up. Most of the time, those dreams have limited detail and those details tend to fade quickly.

But occasionally those dreams stick in our minds.

And this one did.

For some reason--and I'm still trying to figure out why--my mind realized a 3-month-long summer camp, with every slot available in this camp reserved strictly for an HIV positive child.

This camp would be staffed only by counselors, administrators, and medical personnel who were also HIV positive. All of whom, of course, who had passed criminal background checks.

At this camp, the children there--many of whom would be orphans, by the way--would be absolutely unstigmatized by their peers, since they would all be in the same boat. And no staff member there would be the least bit uncomfortable about working with those children, for the same reason.

Also at this camp, these children would, first and foremost, have fun. But they would also learn self-reliance, confidence, and the feeling of peer acceptance.

I wish I could explain where this dream came from. I am certainly not HIV positive, nor do I know anyone who is. And I know from a web search that there are already summer camps in place that cater specifically to HIV infected kids.

But my idea goes farther than a week-long visit. I apparently envisioned a 3 month program, far more complicated than anything I've seen that currently exists.

I've woken up with strange ideas stuck in my head before. With no idea where they came from.

Maybe that's where the ideas that changed the world came from. Not always for the better. And not always for the worse.

At any rate, if anyone out there happens to discover this post and has the resources to make what I envisioned happen, please let me know. I'll be glad to help out in whatever way I can.

The Colbert Report

When Stephen Colbert split from The Daily Show to start his own satirical show, called The Colbert Report (The last T is usually not pronounced), it was intended to be a satire of such Fox News blowhards like Bill O'Reilly, Sean Hannity, and Glenn Beck.

The problem was, just like host Jon Stewart's show, people began to take the show WAY too seriously.

Stewart held a tremendous rally on the Washington Mall last year, one that attracted hundreds of thousands of people. And one in which he gave a rousing speech that implored his audience too stop taking news commentators so seriously, and to start treating other people with respect, even if you disagreed with their views.

His message may have been diluted, however, by the constant interruptions of Colbert.

I applaud Stewart for not trying to capitalize on his achievement by seeking more fame, unlike some people.

But Colbert, as much as he may have attempted to make his broadcasts parodies, seems to have underestimated the stupidity of the American public.

People are taking his satirical broadcasts at face value, and are holding him up as a beacon of ridiculous conservatism.

I learned a long time ago to stop asking the question: "How stupid can people get?"

Apparently, no one else did.

Friday, July 01, 2011

If You Don't Cry When You Watch This...

You need to turn in your credentials as a human being and go back to whatever planet you came from!

My Age is Showing--Again.

So. I went and saw the new Transformers movie today. In 3-D.

By the way, when they ask you to "recycle" your 3-D glasses, what they really mean is "Give them back to us so we can charge some other poor sucker an extra $4.00 for them".

(And, if they want this 3-D thing to be successful, then they need to come up with a way to get rid of those damn glasses. Seriously. 2 and a half hours of them can cause a seriously raging headache.)

At any rate, one of the robots is voiced by Leonard Nimoy. And, at one point, his character says (paraphrasing): "The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few."

Upon hearing this, I laughed uproariously.

I was the only one.

The theater wasn't that crowded, but still. Was I the only one who spotted the reference?


This has happened before. A few years ago, in the G.I. Joe movie, the character General Hawk utters the line "...And knowing is half the battle." I laughed out loud. People looked at me like I was crazy.

The movie, by the way, was typical Michael Bay: massive explosions and even more massively bad writing. And yet another gorgeous female lead with the acting ability of a butternut squash. This time, however, at least they played to her strengths, or should I say, strength: Her ability to look good. DAMN good. Scorchingly, blisteringly, massively good.

By the way, I was 2 years out of high school before she was even born. As if I needed further proof I'm getting old.