Archive | Books and Film

Topics covering books, movies and TV shows of interest to me.

Psych going off the air? You know that’s right.

Psych could quite possibly be the best show I’ve ever watched.  After a quiet start waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay back in 2006, I was hooked after initially watching a few episodes out of sheer boredom.  I saw so much of myself in both Shawn and Gus that I couldn’t stop watching, and before I knew it it, I had become a rabid fan.  Everything about the show was awesome.  The crazy and rapid fire one-liners, the constant (and often obscure) references to 80s’ pop culture, Shawn’s endless nicknames for Gus, and last, but certainly not least, the hilarious and even pithy interactions between the two.  They had given me some much needed laughs during some hard times, and though the show lost a lot of steam over the last two seasons, I’ll always fondly remember it as the show that never failed to lift my spirits even on a rainy day.

If you’ve never seen Psych, this might clue you in to its awesomeness, lifted from one of my favorite episodes:

Alas, as much as it’s sad to see the show go off the air, it seems to have lost something towards the end.  For the die-harders, I don’t think there may be any clearer example of this than watching the episode, Cloudy… with a Chance of Murder and comparing it to the remake of the same episode that was released earlier this year.  The former underscored everything I loved about Psych, while the latter revealed just about everything that went wrong with it the last few seasons.  Honestly, had they not changed the formula so much I suspect it could have made it ten years easy.  Maybe.

But alas, it’s time for them to go.  Thank you Shawn, Gus, Jules and Lassie for the great memories and the laughs.

Flip the Jackal Switch

“Flip the jackal switch, one more time…”

Review of Noah, and why American Christians might be the stupidest people on earth

I knew Noah was going to be a bad movie almost from the moment I read about it.  Which is fine.  After all, Hollywood’s propensity to produce mindless, godawful and oftentimes blasphemous flicks is something of an American tradition.

This particular film though affirms yet again my utter abhorrence of the typical American Christian, who have gone all in with the stupid.

I would imagine, maybe in a more ideal world, that Christians by and large would shun the movie and regard it as another one of Hollywood’s tired old attempts to exploit a biblical tale for the big bucks.  Or certainly, would at least refrain from playing a role in enabling movies like these to continue being made by actually paying to go see it.  Instead, we have some very naive Christian types who are not only enthusiastically waiting in anticipation to go see Noah, despite how badly it detracts from the original tale, but worse still, will probably think it to be entirely accurate.  Such reactions will strip away the veil of their professed Christianity and expose them for the absolute frauds that they are.

Consider this comment I read on Facebook about the movie:

I’m so tired of the idiotic protests of this movie. So what if it deviates from the biblical text? Darren Aronofsky is a genius and has yet to make a bad movie. Personally I can’t wait to see what he does with the story. I’ll take a passionate filming of the story by him over a lame, by-the-numbers “faithful” version any day, any time.

Maybe some day Christians will learn to revere Jesus the same way they revere dweeby Hollywood heathens like Aronofsky.  Maybe.

What really strikes me is hedonistic tone of the comment.  Apparently movies can be as blasphemous as one can imagine, and yet it’s all good as long as it was passionately made (and the audience sufficiently entertained).  The utter disregard for how such movies uncharitably portrays the nature and character of the God they profess to serve and love makes me wonder why they would even bother to call themselves Christians at all.

Just how badly does this movie depart from the original story?  Here’s a few examples (based on one of the early scripts):

  • Earth is a scorched arid desert, with a gray gloomy sky that gives no rain – and all this, apparently caused by man’s “disrespect” for the environment.  Think Mad Max.

 

  • Noah is a vegan eating hippie pacifist who still somehow acquires mad ninja skills to vanquish the bad guys who dare pollute the earth with their existence and kills when necessary.  But again, he’s a peace loving pacifist.

 

  • God is never mentioned (the generic word “creator” used) nor does He speak or interact with anyone, instead Noah is warned of a flood in a series of hallucinations and dreams.

 

  • The movie includes a group of fallen angels called Watchers, who came down from heaven to help fallen humanity by granting them wonders of knowledge from magic to science to stars, metal, and fire.  When mankind turns that knowledge into weapons of war and tools of environmental devastation, God banished the Watchers to earth and turns His back on them.  Now, they reside as beings made from rocks/lava who resent mankind.  Fallen angels are rocks, now?

 

  • Noah’s construction of the ark begins with magic beans.  Seriously.

 

  • Noah’s belief is that the ark is meant to preserve the animals, not mankind.  He is the ultimate misandrist, going so far as to commit infanticide (he planned to kill his next grandchild if it turned out to be a female).  Because a human’s right to live must “be weighed against all creation.”  Al Gore would be proud.

 

  • The movie suggests that God’s will is for Noah’s family to perish as well, so it revolves around Noah agonizing over the decision (and attempts) to kill his grandchildren.  In the end he just can’t do it out of weakness of compassion.  The humanistic overtones is an example of the hubris of man (our propensity for compassion makes us superior to God).

How can any true Christian enjoy a movie like this?

To put this in a more proper context, imagine if Hollywood made a movie about your mother who loved you more than life itself.  But rather than portray her accurately, they use their creative license to depict her as a crack addict and prostitute who cycles through 8 different boyfriends a week, the kind of mother who only changes your diapers once every 6 months, if even.

What would your reaction be then?  Would you still be quick to defend, shrugging your shoulders and saying “So what if they made my mommy look like a ho?  At least they were PASSIONATE about making the movie!”

This ultimately is what I find so fundamentally wrong with Christians today.  They don’t identify closely with God, to the extent that He is not only real to them, but also family as well.  And when someone makes a movie that besmirches the character of Someone you love, well, it’s only natural to get upset about it.

But to get excited, enthusiastic, even happy about going to see a movie like this, and even worse, insulting those who don’t think it’s all that and a bag of gummy bears?  That tells me they they are not Christians, have no relationship with God, and are probably closet atheists.

I see too many like that, so many in fact that it’s one of the reasons why I don’t attend church.  I can’t in good conscience fellowship with those whose Christianity is a facade at best, a fraud at worst, and it’s maddening to constantly find myself part of a minority view, always at odds with the rest of the so-called flock.  Better to walk alone and let the blind continue to lead the blind.

Can you solve this riddle?

This riddle was lifted from one of my favorite movies about second chances and redemption.  See if you can figure it out (no googling!!!):

You’re driving in a hurricane and you see three people at a bus stop.  One is an old lady who is sick and needs medical attention.  One is your best friend and he saved your life once.  The third is the girl of your dreams (or man for you ladies).  You only have room for one in your car though.  Which one do you take?

Seems like an impossible choice to make, but when you see it a certain way, you realize sometimes the impossible becomes the possible.

The parallels between the life of Harry Bosch and my own

Old Headquarters of the LAPDI was very pleased to hear the news that a TV series based on the Harry Bosch series written by Michael Connelly would soon pilot on Amazon Instant Video.   Hieronymus “Harry” Bosch is a fictional detective for the Los Angeles Police Department, and a character I almost immediately identified with as my alter ego when I started reading the novels way back when.

Bosch was an orphan, a loner and a nonconformist, the kind of guy who had no tolerance for politics and a passionate zeal to clear his cases.  He was the square peg trying to fit into the round hole of the LAPD, navigating a world of constant corruption and bureaucratic ineptness.  It never ceased to amaze me how often Bosch landed in hot water in the course of investigating homicides, not because he had a knack for finding trouble, but that trouble always seemed to find him.

I can relate to that.

Intriguing to me as well was Bosch’s romantic life, a constant series of epic failures, but there was one in particular that would stay with him, a turbulent on and off relationship he had with an FBI agent named Eleanor Wish.  From the very beginning Bosch’s attraction and deep seated feelings for Eleanor proved near fatal, beginning with her betraying his trust, almost singlehandedly destroying his efforts to clear a homicide case, and concluding with… well go read the novels and you’ll see.  I can’t remember all the details, but he had married and tried to make it work with her, only to have the bottom fall out when she left him so she could pursue her career ambitions as a (wait for it):  professional gambler.

Yep, that sounds about right to me.

My favorite novel from the series would have to be The Last Coyote, where Bosch decks one of his superiors after he ruined Bosch’s chances to get a confession out of a suspect.  Suspended from duty, he is forced to see the department therapist, and from there we’re able to peel back a few more layers of his troubled psyche.  It was during this time that Bosch decided to dig into his past and find out the truth about his mother (a prostitute who lost custody of Bosch and was murdered only a year later).

One of the scenes in the book that continued to stick with me involved his visit to a records office to obtain crucial files while investigating his mother’s death.  The female clerk here was described as a portly gatekeeping hen so accustomed to routine and ritual that she could zoom to and from her desk despite a clearance of only a few inches for her wide girth.

Since Bosch was suspended, he had no official sway with the cantankerous woman,  so he  faked making a call to a reporter that would have landed her in a world of hurt if she didn’t cooperate:

He gave her the names and she got up angrily and silently to leave the room. She could barely fit around the desk but made the maneuver like a ballerina, the pattern instilled in her body’s memory by repeated practice.

“How long will this take?” he asked.

“As long as it takes,” she answered, regaining some of her bureaucratic bluster at the door.

“No, Mona, you got ten minutes. That’s all. After that, you better not come back ’cause Whitey’s gonna be sitting here waiting for you.”

She stopped and looked at him. He winked.

After she left he got up and went around the side of the desk. He pushed it about two inches closer to the opposite wall, narrowing her path back to her chair.

She was back in seven minutes, carrying a piece of paper. But Bosch could see it was trouble. She had a triumphant look on her face. He thought of that woman who had been tried a while back for cutting off her husband’s {privates}. Maybe it was the same face she had when she ran out the door with it.

“Well, Detective Borsch, you’ve got a little problem.”

“What is it?”

She started around the desk and immediately rammed her thick thigh into its Formica-topped corner. It looked more embarrassing than painful. She had to flail her arms for balance and the impact of the collision shook the desk and knocked her container over. The red liquid began leaking out of the straw onto the blotter.

“S***!!!!”

She quickly moved the rest of the way around the desk and righted the container. Before sitting down she looked at the desk, suspicious that it had been moved.

“Are you all right?” Bosch asked.

Classic.  I laughed so hard when I read this, knowingly nodding my head at Bosch’s mischievous side because it’s exactly the kind of thing I would have done as well.  I’m not sure what drives it, but I suspect beneath the sophomoric acts there’s an alluring urge to undermine the bureaucratic machinery Bosch and I must confront on a regular basis, or maybe a defense mechanism for dealing with the all around stupidity of the human race.

Just to name one example of my own, I once removed the wheels from a chair a coworker of mine sat on, who had a grating habit of wheeling everywhere in the office instead of just standing up and moving about.  He comes in the next day, sits down and begins to wheel… only to tip over and crash on the floor.

You can see why they love me at work.  (Although I’m relatively certain he never did find out who took the wheels.)

Anyhoo, it’ll be exciting to see how many of these same endearing traits I so identified with Bosch will carry over to a TV series, even though I’m not entirely thrilled who they picked to play him (Titus Welliver).  Not that I don’t think he’s a good actor, he just doesn’t immediately strike me as a hard boiled detective with a tormented soul, a smart mouth, and a proclivity for getting into all kinds of serious trouble, especially when I can’t get it out of my head that he was the creepy creepy black smoke thingie in the show, Lost.  But who knows, maybe I’ll be surprised.

Who would play me in a movie?

Boring day, so I happened on this quiz here to break the monotony.  If an actor had to portray me in a movie (specifically an action comedy film), who would it be?  Here was my answer:

Robert Downey Junior as Iron Man holding up hand

Robert Downey Jr. is my alter ego?  I can live with that.

Watch out for my iron cuddles.  They’re dangerous.

My review of Pukka’s Promise: Interesting read and containing important truths about dog care

Grand Tetons at Sunset

Visiting the Grand Tetons in 2011.

I just finished the book Pukka’s Promise, written by a dog owner in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, whose research on prolonging the lives of dogs literally takes him all over the globe.  In many ways he leads a charmed life, living on the outskirts of Yellowstone Park and enjoying front row views of the Grand Tetons, majestic and towering mountains that pierce the deep blue sky with their curiously jagged appearance.  The kind of life I wish I could someday live, though I would probably prefer to be just a little bit closer to civilization.

The book meanders back and forth between regaling us with anecdotes of his adventures with Pukka (and how he eventually came to find him) and a recounting of interviews with dog experts, touring facilities where dog food are made, visiting shelters, rendering plants, veterinarian hospitals, universities, breeders and more, clearly going above and beyond to sift through and dig out as much knowledge as he could find that could unlock the secrets of how we could increase the lifespan of dogs.

Much of what he concluded mirrored my own thoughts and suspicions regarding some of the myths out there regarding dog care, but it was nice to see my views confirmed by a well studied dog owner who clearly did his homework.

As thick as the book was, the conclusions could actually be condensed to a single paragraph:  choose the parents of the dog you want wisely (by exploring their pedigree and learning about important factors suchs as the coefficient of breeding), keeping the dog away from environmental pollutants (such as PFCs), providing excellent nutrition (a mostly carnivorous diet as natural, low glycemic and grain-free as possible), avoid over-vaccinations, and lastly, look for alternatives to neutering and spaying.

That last point is the one that surprised me, as I always presumed sterilization improved the overall health of dogs and reduces the risk of disease.  As it turns out, the actual truth may be a bit more muddy.  While spaying/neutering reduces the risk of certain cancers relating to the sex organs, it actually increases the risk of other diseases such as hypothyroidism.

It seems the push to neuter/spay dogs is really more about population control than it is about their health.  I always thought neutering/spaying whatever dog I owned would be a given, but now I’m not so sure, especially in light of the fact that there are alternatives to preventing unwanted breeding, such as tubal ligations.  In the case of tubal ligations for female dogs, it is unable to procreate but still retains its sex hormones, hormones that a slowly growing number of studies indicate might actually improve the dog’s overall health.  At the very least, the debate on this wasn’t nearly as cut and dried as I originally thought.

Overall I definitely recommend this book for dog owners, even if the author did have a tendency to anthropomorphize his dog to an almost absurd degree.  Roughly 1/3 of the book revolves around conversations he has with Pukka, and yet as weird as it is, I kinda get it.  Humans are social creatures as well, and even the most introverted of us need to connect with others for the benefit of our health (which means I’m probably not long for this earth).  In the absence of people who are either too incompatible or too busy, I could understand why it would be so easy to fill the void left by the lack of human bonding with the one thing that has all the time in the world for us: dogs.

If I wound up doing the same thing (and let’s not kid ourselves, we all know I will), I’m ok with it, provided that at the end of the day I understand that I am in fact talking to a DOG, and in the best interest of its health it still needs to be treated for what it is.

I think SyFy docked my IQ by at least 30 points (Review of Sharknado)

What was that?

Just… what… I… I can’t even put it into words…

Stupid Internet. I kept reading tweets and then articles from all my usual geek feeds like Mashable that this movie somehow, defying all sound logic, had become all the rage and was literally breaking ratings records. But see, I’m thinking yeah…, this is a SyFy Original, and we all know how those turn out, so I’ll just pass on it, thank you very much.

But finally, just out of sheer boredom and morbid curiosity I decided to watch it for the weekend. I mean come on, how bad could it be, really, especially with all the hoopla it was generating on Twitter, amirite?  I’ve seen SyFy movies before and while they’re awful, it usually made for a good way to kill time when nothing else was on.

Dude.

DUDE.

DUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUDE.

It’s not even the sharks flying through space and literally gulping people whole that was so hard to… swallow. I just couldn’t get over the fact that in every single scene that shows the characters riding in a car, there was never one second where you weren’t cognizant of the fact that the car NEVER MOVES. So of course, the actors had to bob and weave to make it seem like they were in motion and it’s just… I mean it’s just so painfully obvious they weren’t moving AT ALL, that my brain simply refused to accept the reality a movie this bad could be produced and started protesting by trying to go into a self-induced coma.

About to get gulped whole in Sharknado

Instead of stepping 6 inches to my right to avoid certain death, I’m just gonna leap right into this guy’s stomach and totally own this mother. LIKE A BOSS.

And let’s not even try to delve into the physics of successfully using a chainsaw to slice a 2.5 ton Great White shark barreling at you at 100 miles an hour from the air, IN HALF, just as easily as a knife through butter.

Or the physics of using propane canisters the size of my arm to successfully dissipate an F5 tornado.

Oh, and the plot devices. Where the hero “Fin” is a divorcee evidently because his ex-wife (and the daughter) couldn’t stand how disgustingly vile and depraved he was by doing appalling, (and I mean APPALLING) things such as rescuing a group of kids trapped in a school bus.

Like OMG Fin, there you go again giving a rip about other people and small kids about to get eaten by sharks!!! I HATE YOU SO MUCH!!!!

You know… on second thought, maybe that part wasn’t so disbelievable.

But still, good grief, I need to stop taking topics that trend on Twitter seriously.  For my sanity.  Just because teh intertoobz sez iz coolz, DOES NOT MEAN IT IS.

P.S. Yeah I know I’ve been pretty late to the shark-mania party, but I always seem to get into these things weeks and months after the hype has already died down and people moved on. Do other people play catch up like this where you’re only starting to take interest in what USED to be a hot topic or fad oh… 6 to 12 months ago? Or am I the only one?

Powered by WordPress. Designed by WooThemes

Clicky