• Movies

    Watch Good Movies

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    I’m giving the new Mad Max movie a complete miss, and I really don’t care how good it is.

    The same goes for the new Terminator, and Fantastic Four films. I’d like to get behind Insurgent, and the last Hunger Games movie since they’re based on books, but the earlier films in both franchises didn’t impress me. At all.

    I probably will see Jurassic World, and I’ve been told we’re going to see the new Star Wars, but these are sequels rather than reboots.

    Still, I’d like to see fewer sequels, too.

    What’s my problem? Hollywood needs to get back to making more new stories not just remaking the same ones over and over again.

    Which isn’t an entirely fair statement. There are plenty of original movies still being made, but they’re being made by smaller studios with smaller marketing budgets and frequently with limited releases. They don’t get to stand on even footing with the quarter-billion dollar plus budget blockbusters. And those are mostly reboots, rehashes, and recycles.

    The only vote movie watchers get is by buying tickets, but those tickets aren’t often the full slate of what should be available for genre cinema. If things go on, if we don’t support the one-off, original films, or can’t, then by the time I’m thinking about taking my grandchildren to the theatre, my choices are going to be Transformers XVII and TMNT: The Next Reguritation.

    Just think about last year. The biggest genre movies were Amazing Spider-Man 2 (a sequel to a reboot), Big Hero 6, Captain America 2, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes (a sequel to a reboot) Divergent, Godzilla (a reboot), Guardians of the Galaxy, Hunger Games 3, Interstellar, Robocop (a reboot), TMNT (a reboot), Transformers 4, and X-Men 5. How many of those were actually worth watching, much less paying for? I count 2.5 (Big Hero 6, Guardians, and half of Interstellar.)

    But did you see Earth to Echo, Edge of Tomorrow, Lucy, Mr. Peabody and Sherman, or Transcendence? Not enough of us did for any of them. And at least three of them were good. The other two were better than almost everything in the blockbuster list, most of which have already been scheduled for a sequel.

    I think it’s imperative that we mostly skip what Hollywood thinks we want see and instead go for the second tier and indy films with good stories. Or potentially good stories. If they came to a theatre near you early this year, you should have gone to see Vice, Toxin, Robot Overlords, Jupiter Ascending, and Chappie, no matter how good you think they weren’t. And the last two in that list were pretty good. (Yes, my opinion. Your mileage may vary.)

    AbsolutelyAnythingMy want-to-see genre film list for the rest of 2015 includes things like Ex Machina, Tomorrow Land, Absolutely Anything, Ant Man, Pixels, Self/less, The Lobster, The Martian, Aimy In a Cage, and Time Lapse. Think I’m most looking forward to Absolutely Anything, but I love Simon Pegg. It doesn’t hurt that the Python crew voice the aliens and Robin Williams voices his dog (no, it’s not an animated film, but there is some CGI).

    Be well, everyone. And watch good movies.


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  • Life

    New Resolutions. Or Not.

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    So last year was a different year for me in terms of New Year’s resolutions, making five instead of one. I’m going to continue with that number this year, tweaking things a little.


    Resolution 1: Get Better At The Husband And Father Thing

    My traditional resolution is still number one for 2015. Last year, I think I said my primary objective to meet this one was just to be as involved in my family’s lives as possible, and to continue in my efforts to put them first in every way. That, I think, is a very good way to continue looking at it. “Family first.” Okay, so there’s a whole lot more to the quote by Funakoshi sensei than just that, but if a man who stands was among the greatest karate masters of the 20th century believed that family should come first, who am I to argue?

    And while I think that I’ve gotten better at it over the years, I also think there’s always room for improvement here. As long as I can continue to get better, continue thinking of my family as the reason for why I’m doing something, then I think I should continue to have success. It’s easier some days than others, and sometimes I still get very excited about something and get a little distracted. I just have to remember to find ways to carry my family along in that excitement.


    Resolution Number Two: Be Kind.

    Simple enough on the surface, I think this year I need to start taking steps to extend this resolution. The trick is to always make an effort to think about where the other person or creature is coming from, and how they see things.

    My easy example for this is something I see all the time: just because you’re having an argument with someone doesn’t make them an idiot. Now, they may be an idiot, but always attack the argument, not the person. There is never a good reason for deliberate mental or physical abuse, cruelty. or punishment. And if you’re accidentally unkind to one of your fellow creatures, take steps to correct it. Just as importantly, learn from it.

    Extending this further, I need to take more steps to be kind to the environment around me, and therefore to the planet, and the future. I consider myself to be fairly green, over all, but I could do a lot more, seek to minimize or reverse the damage my lifestyle might be doing. The planet can handle a lot, but there are more than 7 billion of us now, and we produce a lot of crap, literally and figuratively. I can produce less.


    Resolution Three: Be Polite.

    Politeness costs nothing. However you want to think about things, that remains true, and it goes very well with resolution number two.


    Resolution For: Be More Well Read.

    This replaces last year’s resolution of reading more, because I feel the need for things to be more directed, whether or not I want to track and measure things. I absolutely I read more last year than the year before, overall, but I don’t necessarily believe I’m any more well read.

    Once upon a time, in the areas of science fiction and fantasy, at least. I was well read. As a child and teenager, I did little else other than read and watch genre televsion. I devoured all the classics I could get my hands on, which really was only a small piece of the whole, and I read every genre fiction book available in whatever library we lived nearest to, a lot of them more than once. That’s not possible anymore. There’s just too much being published, by the big publishers, medium-size ones, micro publishers, and independent authors. Now, with the Internet, it’s easy to see that I’m not nearly as well read as I once thought I was in those classes. I probably never will be, but I’d like to get better.

    I’ve set some specific goals for this year to address this (to me) shortcoming, but those probably deserve a separate post.


    Resolution Five: Think More Intelligently

    Adjusting this one a little bit too. I’m prone to introspection, and to nostalgia, and to overthinking things. Whether I can train myself to streamline my thoughts processes or not, whether I can train myself to understand things faster or not, this year I intend to learn recognize when I am overthinking, when I’m dwelling too much on something. Yes, I need to think about things carefully, but there comes a point in any program, problem, or conversation when you’ve thought about things enough. And, while our first response isn’t necessarily our best, there are times when we come to the best fairly quickly.

    And it’s also time to start thinking bigger. This goes along with my third birthday question: what am I doing to make the world a better place? Time to figure that out and step up my game.


    So, there are my resolutions for 2015. Some the same, some slightly twisted.

    Goals, well, I have plenty of those too, but they’re more specific, more measurable, more definite. I have a number of things that I want to make a certain amount of progress on doing this year, but most of those are little more private. No one really cares how many pounds lighter I’d like to be, or how far I’d like to get my study of calculus, or French, or Japanese. Some of these things may get mentioned in passing, and I’ll try to make them fun when they come up.

    For now, if you’re making resolutions or not, feel free to share, but above all, be well, everyone.


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