And about the Na’Vi. Like most fifth graders, Cameron endows them with a nobility and honor that he thinks the Native Americans possessed. Fine, whatever. What is important is that he presents an “idealized” society. A society based on respect for the planet and the creatures that inhabit it. In one scene, Neytiri kills some freaky Doberman looking thing and then cries about it later. She had to kill it because it was attacking Jake. To save one life, that she deemed more important, she took another.
The entire Na’Vi society is based on a code of honor and achievement. The members must “prove” themselves to the tribe by accomplishing things like riding dragons. When Jake tames the big mofo dragon, a great accomplishment, he is rewarded by being made the leader of the tribe despite the fact that Tsu’tey was next in line to be chief.
Cameron’s idealized society is one based on individual achievement. When individuals take great risks, they are often rewarded over people who have seniority. Fairness is determined by accomplishments, not by rules. There are winners and there are losers amongst the Na’Vi and they manage to be a happy society. Oh, and when they are forced, they kill to protect themselves and their loved ones, an action that they don’t take lightly. They have honor and nobility. They have strong traditions.
Sounds good to me. In fact, it sounds a lot like the conservative view of what America stands for. I’m in. Hey, Cameron, beers at my house, I TiVo’ed Glenn Beck for you.
This looks good.
“Brothers at War is an intimate portrait of an American family during a turbulent time. Jake Rademacher sets out to understand the experience, sacrifice, and motivation of his two brothers serving in Iraq. The film follows Jake’s exploits as he risks everything—including his life—to tell his brothers’ story.
“Often humorous, but sometimes downright lethal, Brothers at War is a remarkable journey where Jake embeds with four combat units in Iraq. Unprecedented access to US and Iraqi combat units take him behind the camouflage curtain with secret reconnaissance troops on the Syrian border, into sniper ‘hide sites’ in the Sunni Triangle, through raging machine gun battles with the Iraqi Army.
“Ultimately, the film follows his brothers home where separations and life-threatening work ripple through their parents, siblings, wives, and children. Brothers at War is a rare look at the bonds and service of our soldiers on the frontlines and the profound effects their service has on the loved ones they leave behind. For more information please visit - www.brothersatwarmovie.com.”
The film is executive produced by Gary Sinise (CSI: New York, “Lt. Dan” in Forrest Gump), who said, “The media took the 15 people of Abu Ghraib and made them the face of the military. This [movie] is a true portrait of our military and their families.”
Remember: together, we can forge a better America.
Last year set a new record in terms of movie-viewing. I saw 28 movies in the theater, with 10 more viewed on DVD.
* additional viewings not noted in total count
If you observed the multiple viewings, you may have already surmised what my favorite film of 2008 was: Batman: The Dark Knight. Utterly fabulous film. It really captured the grittiness, the criminal ugliness, of the original comic storyline. Batman may be a superhero, but it is his detective skills which serve him just as well against the criminal underworld he fights as anything else.
Batman has always been the non-superhero superhero; by that I mean he doesn’t possess any super powers. He’s simply a man who has trained his body to such a degree that his physical prowess is superior to nearly every opponent he matches up with. His mental prowess is equally strong, and it doesn’t hurt that he’s got his family’s millions to back him up with tools that no one else has.
Batman is the superhero that nearly anyone could be, millions of dollars in backing notwithstanding. That’s what makes the character so great, and so relatable. Like my friend Jeff, I really hope they don’t make a third movie (with Batman Begins being the first). The Dark Knight is such a quintessential Batman film, it would be incredibly difficult to top.
I didn’t count Raiders and Casino Royale in my DVD total, as they were re-watched in preparation for seeing movies in the theater. I did count Blade Runner as a new selection. The Final Cut is Ridley Scott’s ultimate vision of the film, and I treated it as such, going in with a fresh and open attitude about one of my favorite films.
As for my favorite film viewed on DVD, that’s a tough one. The Departed didn’t live up to any of the hype in my opinion, though I’m looking forward to seeing the Hong Kong original, Infernal Affairs. Likewise, I wasn’t blown away by American Gangster, either. I did enjoy it, but I didn’t think Washington’s or Crowe’s performances were any grander than their previous work.
Hot Rod and Bottle Rocket are among Brent’s favorite movies, and were taken in as an attempt to get to know my friend a little better. I thoroughly enjoyed both. I’m thinking not too many people are going to get Bottle Rocket, but it has an underlying whackiness that may not elicit out-loud laughs, but is very humorous nonetheless.
In the end, I think the DVD favorite goes to Hot Rod. It doesn’t get much better than:
“My safe word will be ‘whiskey’.”
“Why are you saying it like that?”
[Via Lee on IM.]
This is my all-time favorite movie trailer.
Remember Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan? Yes, yes, it’s still the best Trek film. But do you recall the end, when Spock is “buried” by being shot from the Enterprise within a photon torpedo?
Did you ever think, “Man, that would be a cool casket to be buried in!”
Scheduled to be available “mid-2008”, and pricing has not yet been determined.
Taken is an upcoming film written by Luc Besson and starring Liam Neeson as the dad you don’t want to make mad by hurting his little girl:
I love the little aliens from the Pizza Planet vending machine in Toy Story. Thanks to my friend Heather, and a long ago giveaway of some kind, I have two of the little guys guarding my favorite Mac, which is a little otherworldly in its own right…
So the big news in the tech world yesterday was what Steve Jobs talked about during his keynote address at Macworld Expo in San Francisco. The annual technology conference geared toward the Mac OS, and all things Apple, Inc., is often used for the announcement of new products from my favorite fruit company. Yesterday was no exception. Here are some of my thoughts on what was announced:
If I hadn’t bought an Airport Extreme Base Station last year, to replace a router that died, I’d be buying a new 1 TB—yes, that’s a T, for terabyte—Time Capsule right now. Merging an Airport Extreme Base Station with a “server-grade” hard drive, the Time Capsule allows for wireless backups from all of your Leopard-based Macs via Time Machine. Jobs called it a “back-up applicance”.
Backing up your data is very important, and too few people do it, realizing the value of doing so only when it’s too late. Time Capsule is a dead-simple way, for most people, to ensure their Macs are getting backed up. Plug in and power on the Time Capsule, open up Time Machine on your Mac and point it to the Capsule, and you’re done.
Time Capsule comes in two sizes, the 500 GB version for $299, and the aforementioned 1 TB version for $499. That’s an amazing bargain, a terabyte of storage and a full wired/wireless router for five hundred smackers. As I said, if we didn’t already have the AEBS router, my credit card would have already seen one of these charged to it.
Today was the 200th day the iPhone had been available for purchase, and Apple’s sold 4 million of them, an average of 20,000 iPhones sold per day. This means that in terms of United States smartphone market share, Apple has nearly 20% of the national smartphone market.
The rumors of a 1.1.3 update to the iPhone proved to be true. The home screen can now be customized, and the Maps application—the underrated killer feature of the iPhone in my humble opinion—is now even more super-powered. The new Location feature in Maps is great. Combining data from Google and Skyhook Wireless, your iPhone can now, without GPS on board, triangulate your position within a couple of blocks. It pulled up my location at home with no problem.
You can, finally, send a SMS message to more than one person, something my lowly Motorola v557 was capable of two years ago. The WebClips functionality is pretty neat; you can create a WebClip from any web page or portion of a web page and pop it on to your home screen, so it’s easy to just go to Google, or The New York Times, or whatever web page you wish, with one touch.
I’ve had quite some fun this afternoon playing with all of this new stuff, and it’s almost like getting a new iPhone for free. All in all, it makes the iPhone an even better communication device.
iTunes Movie Rentals
In addition to buying movies through the iTunes Store, you can now rent them as well. Library movies (viz: older titles) are $2.99, and new releases are $3.99. From the time you click “Rent Movie” in the iTunes Store and it downloads, you have 30 days to watch the movie. From the time you click “Play” on the movie, you have 24 hours to watch it. You can also transfer the movie to another device, such as your iPod or iPhone, and watch it there as well, before your 24 hours or 30 days, depending on where you are when you perform the transfer, are up.
The thirty days requirement is pretty decent, but I find the 24 hours one to be a little restrictive. It should be at least 48 hours, and 72 would be better, with 96 being the ideal.
Going hand-in-hand with the new rental service is an updated Apple TV, or as Jobs put it, “Apple TV Take 2”. Whereas the original Apple TV pretty much required you to have a computer to sync it up with, the new version acts as a stand-alone box. You can rent movies from the iTunes Store in HD through the Apple TV, for only $1 more than the standard resolutions. So library titles go to $3.99 and new releases are $4.99, and no trip to the mailbox or corner Blockbuster is required.
I’m still not convinced that we have a real use for this in our house, given our movie viewing habits. For now, Netflix will continue to suffice, but I’ll be keeping my eyes on the Apple TV, and I’m sure I’ll try out the new rentals even without the new box.
This had all the buzz, and was the announcement I was most looking forward to. I was ready to pounce on ordering Apple’s new subnotebook, provided it met my personal expectations.
Apple has created the world’s thinnest notebook computer. At its thickest point, the MacBook Air is 0.76 of an inch, and it weighs only three pounds. It comes with a full-size keyboard, a 13.3-inch LED backlit display, and a 1.6 or 1.8 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo processor. Two gigabytes of RAM, an 80 GB hard drive, 802.11n wireless networking, Bluetooth, and a built-in iSight camera. A pricey option is to ditch the standard hard drive for a 64 GB solid state drive (viz: no moving parts), and when I say pricey, I do mean pricey: $999 on top of the base $1,799 cost.
You won’t find much in the way of ports on it, either: MagSafe power port, a single USB port, headphone jack, and a micro-DVI port which requires adapters to hook up to external displays. That’s it. The trackpad is larger than on previous MacBook versions, and features multitouch, so you can perform some of those pinch, zoom, and rotate gestures you may have seen with the iPhone.
The downsides to this incredible piece of tech? For me, the hard drive size is the first. I put a 160 GB drive in my four year-old 12-inch PowerBook last year, and have gotten quite used to the extra room it gave me. I’d hate to step back down by half. Only two gigabytes of RAM? And no way to upgrade it? My two year-old iMac is maxed out at 2 GB, and some times I bump against that particular ceiling. I’d really prefer a machine that can handle up to four. The battery is also not replaceable by the user. This might be okay on an iPod or iPhone, but in a full-size computing system devoted to the ultimate road warriors?
Ultimately, I decided this was not the next notebook computer for me. It’s a really awesome system, and if someone were to buy one for me, I wouldn’t hesitate to take it, but that’s not happening. I think I’ll be better served ultimately by a MacBook Pro, and with seven and a half months since the latest edition of those came out, they’re due for a refresh, even a “silent” one like we saw with the Mac Pros last week.
In the end, it was what I would call a typical Steve Jobs Macworld Expo keynote address. There were the requisite ooohs and aaaahs, Apple’s making some evolutionary gains in all facets of its business, and there was a great new product introduced that has the entire tech world talking. It wasn’t a blow-me-away sort of keynote, as was last year’s with the announcement of the iPhone, but then they can’t all be like that. Still better than anything Bill does on stage.
This past Saturday, the missus and I took the little phisch to see The Pirates Who Don’t Do Anything. The film was released by Universal, and had the studio’s latest audio-visual intro at the beginning, as is the norm for motion pictures. The little phisch leaned over and whispered to me, “Daddy, what music is that?” I told him, and we settled in for a fun time.
That little exchange immediately took my mind back a few weeks before, at the end of 2007, when the missus and I took the little phisch to see Alvin and the Chipmunks. That particular film was released by Twentieth-Century Fox, and its extremely recognizable audio-visual intro rolled at the beginning. Then, the little phisch leaned over and excitedly exclaimed, “Daddy, it’s the Star Wars music!” I smiled broadly, and assured him, that yes, it was indeed “the Star Wars music.”
Amazing how those blaring trumpets and the monolithic wording have become synonymous with Star Wars for him, just as it did for me when I was a boy. To this day, whenever I see or hear that intro, I’m half-expecting the “Star Wars Main Theme” to follow shortly thereafter, or to see “A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away…” centered on the screen.
Yesterday, I put to good use the Barnes & Noble gift cards I received for Christmas and my birthday. (I get at least a couple every year.) The “big” card was used online a few days before, to purchase two other items which were on my wish list:
Planet Earth - The Complete BBC Series, narrated by David Attenborough. I’ve wondered how many HDTV sets this series is responsible for the sales thereof.
The in-store Barnes & Noble shopping resulted in:
The Shooters, by W.E.B. Griffin. The fourth in Griffin’s Presidential Agent series, which I’ve thoroughly enjoyed to date. W.E.B. Griffin writes some of the best military fiction out there, and this current-day, antiterrorism series is no exception.
Spirit of the Wolf by Shaun Ellis and photographer Monty Sloan. Wolves are among my favorite animals, and I believe a lot can be learned from their pack behavior. (Especially when you have a dog, and therefore a pack, of your own.) Sloan’s got some stunning photos in this coffee-table book, and I’m looking forward to reading Ellis’s commentary.
Star Wars Jesus - A spiritual commentary on the reality of the Force by Caleb Grimes. Any book that combines the movie franchise which impacted, informed, and defined my tweener childhood (and which continues to impact and inform my son’s childhood), and the Author and Finisher of my faith, well, that’s just something I’ve got to give a whirl. I think all of my other book reading just went on hold…
So my thanks to my family members who were very generous this year with the gift cards. They were well invested, I assure you.
A friend from college got me in the habit of saving my movie ticket stubs, and I have a glass mug stuffed with them, going back to the very early `90s. I’ve never really kept a running yearly tally before, however, until I was encouraged by my pal Brent, who keeps his own tally of those sort of things. So here’s my list of movies seen (in theaters) in 2007:
Blades of Glory
In the Land of Women
Live Free or Die Hard
The Bourne Ultimatum
3:10 to Yuma
Mr. Magorium’s Wonder Emporium
No Country for Old Men
Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story
Alvin and the Chipmunks
My pick for best movie? It’s a really tough call to just pick one as the best overall. From a purely cinematic perspective, I’d have to go with No Country for Old Men. I laughed the most during Blades of Glory. For a book adaptation, Shooter was pretty good, though like most book adaptations, it falls short of what can be crammed in to two hours on screen. The worst movie I saw was Superbad; I guess if I were thirteen, I would’ve enjoyed it more, but given that I liked Knocked Up, and to a lesser degree Walk Hard, all by the same crew, perhaps it wasn’t just my age that was a factor. I thoroughly enjoyed Mr. Magorium’s Wonder Emporium, 3:10 to Yuma, Ratatouille, Surf’s Up, and Transformers.
Best movie? A tie, simply because they’re such totally different movies, and my favorites for two vastly different reasons. The Bourne Ultimatum is just flat-out entertaining, visually appealing, a real “thrill ride” as the critics would say. I was initially skeptical five years ago of Matt Damon taking on the role of Jason Bourne, but he took it and ran with it, owning the role. He is Jason Bourne. Though the movies have little in common with the plot lines of the books, they are still among my favorite action thrillers.
The second movie in the tie is Amazing Grace. William Wilberforce showed how one can positively affect the cultural and political culture while remaining grounded in faith in Jesus Christ. His efforts toward ending the slave trade the British Empire was engaged in paved the way for slavery’s abolition in the United States, and continues to be an inspiration to this day. Slavery still exists in our modern world, though the euphemism “human trafficking” is the nom du jour. Amazing Grace is a reminder the battle for human freedom and dignity still goes on.
I received this e-mail from a neighbor. It’s one of those things where you read their answers, then fill in your own and pass it on to the people you’d like to hear back from. Seeing as how while most of you will be getting ready for work or what-have-you this morning while I’m undergoing prep for surgery to get “unscrewed”, I won’t be in much of a blogging mood, and thought I’d leave this here for you to enjoy.
Please feel free to leave your own answers in the comments, or post to your own blog and link to it in the comments. Merry Christmas!
Welcome to the 2007 Holiday Edition of Getting to Know Your Friends! You know the drill. Don’t be a scrooge! Fill it out, pass it on, blah blah blah. I would love to hear your answers.
1. Egg Nog or Hot Chocolate?
This time of year, I have to go with the nog. I can get hot chocolate any time.
2. Does Santa wrap the presents or just sit them under the tree?
Growing up, Santa just left stuff under the tree, or on the coach next to the tree, etc. Since then, he seems to have upgraded his process, as the gifts he leaves are now wrapped.
3. Colored or white lights?
I prefer white, though I do enjoy the colored lights when they’re done well.
4. Do you hang mistletoe?
Nope. I’m already kissing the person I want to kiss the most.
5. When do you put your decorations up?
We have no hard and fast rules on this one. The tree just went up this weekend, and the lights were put on last night.
6. What is your favorite holiday dish?
Can I go with the nog again?
7. Favorite Holiday memory as a child?
The older gentlemen, Mr. Gridley, who lived next door to my grandparents, would dress as Santa and come over to hand out our presents when we did Christmas at their house. As a child, having Santa right there, handing you the presents he’d brought all the way from the North Pole? Incredible.
8. When and how did you learn the truth about Santa?
I’d have to check with my folks, but it was likely somewhere around ten or eleven years of age. I overheard some other boys talking about, and I confronted my parents with the information. They told me the truth, but swore me to secrecy, as my sister, five years younger than I, still believed.
9. Do you open a gift on Christmas Eve?
That usually depends on where we might be, but generally, yes.
10. How do you decorate your Christmas tree?
White lights, with ornaments from my childhood, plus some that were gifts from my mother-in-law, my mom, and my grandmothers. They’re pretty much all personal momentos of one sort or another. No tinsel or garland. Pretty simple, the way we like it.
11. Snow: Love it or hate it?
Love it, just because, growing up in south Louisiana, and now living in north Texas, we don’t see snow often.
12. Can you ice skate?
Nope. Heck, I barely remember how to roller skate!
13. Do you remember your favorite gift?
So many were favorites at so many different times of my life, I really couldn’t say.
14. What’s the most important thing about the holidays for you?
Spending time with the family. It’s great to see Christmas through the eyes of a child—my son—once again.
15. What is your favorite holiday dessert?
A tie between my grandmother’s chocolate pie, and my grandmother’s lemon pie. The tie is always broken by having a slice of each.
16. What is your favorite holiday tradition?
Watching my son open his presents on Christmas morning.
17. What is on top of your tree?
18. Which do you like best giving or receiving?
Definitely the giving, though I won’t lie and say the receiving—especially when it’s something from my carefully assembled wish list—comes in a close second. Hey, at least I’m honest.
19. What is your favorite Christmas song?
I’m a sucker for a well done “What Child is This?”, and I also love “Joy To The World” and “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing”.
20. Do you like candy canes?
To eat? Not really, but I don’t mind them otherwise.
21. What is your favorite Christmas movie?
Technically not a movie, but I love “A Charlie Brown Christmas”
[From Lee, via IM]
For my Blades of Glory homies, the Ninja interviews Jon Heder and Will Ferrell. Boom!
Nearly three months since it was ordered, I received my Valentine’s Day gift today. (Thanks again, sweetheart!) The original Star Wars trilogy on DVD; not just the Special Edition versions, mind you, but the original theatrical versions as well, something Star Wars purists have been clamoring for for well over a decade.
In honor of my revisiting the film which made such an impact on me as a child, I decided to note the first words spoken by major characters in Star Wars: A New Hope, in the order in which they appear. Enjoy!
First words of the movie, spoken by C3PO: “Did you hear that? They shut down the main reactor. We’ll be destroyed for sure! This is madness!”
R2-D2: (Responding to C3PO) Whistling chirps.
Darth Vader: “Where are those transmissions you interecepted? What have you done with those plans?”
Princess Leia: “Darth Vader. Only you could be so bold. The Imperial Senate will not sit still for this. When they hear you attacked a diplomatic…”
Luke Skywalker: “Doesn’t look like we have much of a choice but I’ll remind him!”
Obi-Wan Kenobi: “Hello there.”
Grand Mof Tarkin: “The Imperial Senate will no longer be of any concern to us. I’ve just received word the Emperor has dissolved the council, permanently. The last remnants of the old Republic have been swept away.”
Chewbacca: (soft grunts, responding to Kenobi) “Mmm. Mmm.”
Han Solo: “Han Solo. I’m captain of the Millenium Falcon. Chewie here tells me you’re looking for passage to the Alderaan system.”
Last night, the missus had a work-related dinner to attend, so it was a guy night in the phisch bowl. The little phisch consumed mixed veggies and fish sticks (the irony of this statement is not lost on me), whereas I consumed mixed veggies with leftover red beans & rice. And we watched Star Wars.
The first attempt at the viewing with my son of the movie which made such a tremendous impression upon me when I was six was met with some…boredom. He knew who some of the characters were, after all. I don’t think you can know me at all, or swim in this tank we call home, without encountering, in some random, non-deliberate fashion, characters from the Star Wars universe. But we never really made it through that first viewing of the movie. Not together, anyway. While he decided he was bored and went off to play with Thomas on the train table, or roll Lightning McQueen around the floor, I finished watching the movie.
Because, c’mon, it’s Star Wars.
I’m not sure what changed between then and now. Perhaps it was my receiving the entire Star Wars Mr. Potato Head collection for my birthday this past December. Darth Tater, Storm Tater, and R2 Tater have all occupied a place of semi-honor in the formal dining room, and the little phisch has been allowed to play with them. We’ve read this Luke Skywalker children’s book I picked up two years ago at the Friends of the Flower Mound Library fund raiser. But we haven’t really talked about the movie all that much.
So I was pleased when I was greeted with a enthusiastic response after suggesting Star Wars last night. After dinner, we enjoyed watching about an hour of it.
He asked a lot of questions. A lot. I’m not sure I can begin to describe the totality of “a lot of questions” to those of you who do not have three year-old boys.
Bed time was approaching, and we agreed to stop the movie after an upcoming scene. The missus arrived home just about that time, the movie was stopped, and the bedtime rituals commenced.
The payoff came this morning.
I stumbled downstairs, where the missus and little phisch were already eating breakfast, and on the TV I’m greeted by…Star Wars. Han and Luke are firing down the detention bay while Leia’s already diving in to the garbage chute, and Chewie’s complaining about the smell.
I’m informed, “Daddy, those are stormtroopers!”
I smiled, gave him a pat on the head, and turned so the missus wouldn’t see the tears welling up. It’s done. He’s converted.
Oh, I forgot to mention he wants his own lightsaber now. He told me last night.
Where are the tissues?