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outlier_lynn: (Default)
Sunday, May 25th, 2014 03:00 pm
Finally got around to watching "Frozen." Did not live up to hype. It was pretty good, though. Something just short of a 3 out of five. It was not the stunning animation that comes out of Pixar, that's for sure.
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Tuesday, May 20th, 2014 03:42 pm
The Secret Life of Walter Mitty.

It was okay with short bursts of great and somewhat longer bursts of crap. I guess wrong about one possible story line, but my back up guess was spot on. Nothing new. Still, it entertained sufficiently to get a 2 out of five.

It might have gotten more from me, but I really like the story of Walter and this movie missed it by too wide a margin to get a 3.
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Thursday, May 15th, 2014 07:01 am
Santa Anna winds, at least. We are in another hot, dry, Santa Anna condition here. And from my office window, I once again saw smoke billowing over a brush fire. One of many that happened yesterday.

I am strongly considering my next move. And I hate moving. If my house value goes up $200K, I am going to press for a permanent trip out of town. Way out of town. Possibly out of state.

I've never been all that enamored of San Diego and I'm getting just a little tired of the increased fire activity.
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Monday, May 12th, 2014 07:59 am
Two movies last night. The first was August: Osage County which we stopped about 20 minutes in. If I don't have some positive feeling for some character by this point in a film, there is not reason to keep watching. And I mostly loathed all the characters in this one. Even Meryl Streep couldn't save it. So, a 1 out of 5.

The second was British. I like the British. Maybe I should move. :) Anyway, the second movie was Unfinished Song. Venessa Redgrave, who has looked like a cancer patient for the last 30 years, is dying of cancer. Her husband is a grumpy-ish old man who loves her dearly. There son is played by Christopher Eccleston and no longer looks like the Doctor. :) Dad and son have a very familiar relationship at the start of the movie. Ho hum.

As soon as we know that his wife is going to die, which we know very, very quickly, we also know this is a redemption movie. I like redemption movies when the redeemed has redeeming qualities throughout the movie.

In any event, it is a solid 3 and will likely be enjoyed by anyone over 50. It might even amuse anyone under 30. Up for grabs for the people in the middle, although they might identify with the son.
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Thursday, May 8th, 2014 07:21 am
I sometimes stop in at a local coffee house to get a bagel. This morning the young woman accidentally closed the register before getting my change from the drawer. That cleared the transaction. She asked me to do the math. My bill was $6.55. I gave her $7.00. She couldn't figure out how much to give back.

She has a high school diploma.

In related news, I read a summary of a longitudinal study conducted jointly be three universities. The study followed American kids from kindergarten through high school. All the children were native English speakers. The study was looking for the reasons for performance differences by ethnicity. Here is what it boiled down to: Asian kids applied themselves more than whites who applied themselves more than Hispanics who applied themselves more than Blacks.

Tied that data to other studies and we have added another 50 pounds of paper to the stack of "Why our schools continue to fail."

I know, we need more of "All Children Left Behind."
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Tuesday, May 6th, 2014 07:22 am
Okay. It is not new. What is new is the level of annoyance I have when the phrase is spoken. The phrase is "the right side of history." I guess most people want to be "remembered" well even if those remembering are only family and friends. People in power, though, want to leave a "legacy."

As motives go, that one really sucks. When one is dead, one will not know how or if one is remembered. It won't matter. But it does matter in the present. While angling and spinning and twisting to create a legacy, vast swaths of human misery are left untouched because the likelihood of failing to make a difference is too high. And, it seems, nobody wants to be remembered as a failure.

Then we have the tricky problem of determining the "right side" of anything. The problem, of course, is believing that there is some set of intrinsic values called right and wrong. Circumstances change and what is workable at one time may not be workable at another time.

My favorite example of this is "gay marriage." I really, really hate that phrase. "Same-sex marriage" is better, but "no marriage" is best. Leaving the spiritual side of marriage for the superstition that the parties are party to aside, marriage is a civil contract. Like all contracts, it governs the way entities interact. It sets down rights and responsibilities of the parties. It should also include the process for dissolving the relationship. We leave that part to "family law." (We are idiots.) We are fighting the good fight for marriage equality. Except it isn't equal. Marriage is still defined as a particular legal agreement between two people and administered by the state. It is not flexible and tinkering with the edges will not leave people on the "right side" of anything at some point in the future.

When defining the question of marriage as who is in and who is out, it seems like there is a right side and a wrong side of history as long as we assume that future generations are going to continue to live in the superstition of marriage. Circumstances will change. We might end up with a future in which we are laughed at for out barbaric notions of relationships. (I personally have high hopes for our future selves in this regard.)

Other current and very popular controversies about which we feel there is right and wrong are also mired in social superstitions. The right and wrong of a given point of view depends entirely on the differences between that point of view and other points of view. Good, bad, right, wrong and simply determinations made by filtering behaviors through one or another collective morality.

We each fight for our point of view. And we fight harder when our sense of self and our free expression are being suppressed by a majority point of view. This is so if we are a minority facing systemic racism, genderism, sexism or heterosexism; or, if we are in the majority, having our values strongly questioned. We will fight to protect "our way of life" even if we have to deny others their freedom of behavior or thought.

So, to those in power who believe they are leaving a legacy by trumpeting their particular moral positions, stick your super-sized ego where the sun doesn't shine. You, too, are just another bully pushing an agenda that not everyone wants.
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Monday, April 28th, 2014 07:21 am

Judi Dench is simply fabulous no matter what role she plays. And that continues in this movie. I don't know Steve Coogan, but he, too, was simply terrific. The story line was great. I can't say enough good things about this movie. It was a Netflix disc so I don't know what Stacey rated it as, but, I give it a strong 5 out of five.

There simply isn't anything to complain about.
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Monday, April 21st, 2014 07:11 am
Saving Mr. Banks

Emma Thompson. Tom Hanks. That alone makes it worth watching. The story is somewhat true as it is based on a true story and underpinned by hours of recorded conversations. Obviously, it has a predictable outcome. But it is really fun watching havoc caused by PL Travers. Disney was portrayed, for the most part, as kindly fellow who had the best interests of his customers in mind. In reality, he was one of those geniuses that it is difficult to work for. That bit of whitewash took some of the grittiness out of the story.

On the strength of the acting, the movie gets a three.
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Sunday, April 13th, 2014 04:49 pm
12 Years a Slave.

I wasn't going to watch this movie. However, since it was in our Netflix dvd queue and Stacey controls that, the movie appeared in my home. We watched. Mostly I read reddit.

It was what I expected. The acting was good. This story has been told before. And there is very little entertainment value for me in brutality. So, that's a 2 out of five.
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Monday, April 7th, 2014 07:11 am
At Middleton.

Ridiculously silly in a couple of minor spots. And that kept it from being a four. This is a movie for and about people in their 40s. Refreshing look at long-term relationships, monogamy and commitment. The flaws were almost exclusively about the two children on their college visit. It gets a strong 3.

Fun fact. The woman in the lead role is the real life older sister of her on-screen daughter.
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Monday, March 31st, 2014 08:26 am
Gravity. Like Wolf of Wallstreet, I wasn't going to watch this because of the trailer. But I really like Sandra Bullock and it did win a bucket full of awards.

It sucked. It sucked in exactly the same way Avatar sucked. The story is old and overdone. Borrowed from other works. Boring. Implausible. I just didn't care if Sandra's mission specialist character survived or not. I was bored by the time the emergency happened.

While Stacey gave Wolf a 1 (we skipped scenes, so we can say we didn't watch it all), Gravity got a weak 2, because we did watch it all.

I can look back at wildly popular movies from the sixties and see how bad they really were, like the early James Bond movies, but recently, I can see how bad they are without the long wait.

If you can get Gravity for free and you have a couple of hours to waste, you might consider watching it. Or you might just take a nap.
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Thursday, March 27th, 2014 09:01 am
Wolf of Wall Street. This is a movie I had no intention of watching. I saw one trailer and was instantly put off. Stacey put it in our queue just the same. Then we were loaned a rented copy. Watched it last night.

Piece of Shit. The character and the movie. Three hours that should have been 15 minutes. As it dragged on, we decided to skip scenes because we did want to go to bed. Had I realized it was autobiographical, I would have stopped watching a third of the way in. I was just waiting for the character to die. He didn't. He should have.

We have a federal law that prohibits someone from making money from the story of their crime. When this jackass wrote his book, it must have still been legal. I'm too disinterested to find out if he was the reason for the law. Probably wasn't. We have that law now. So, how is he allowed to make money on the movie? It is slightly possible that he isn't ... and pigs fly.

That this guy got rich is a testament to the ignorance of humanity.
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Monday, March 24th, 2014 07:51 am
I wish I was a young man. I would so be in a law school somewhere. I would dearly love to work someplace in the appellate system. Michigan's anti-gay marriage constitutional amendment was struck down. I just finished reading the decision. (Walker's prop 8 decision was more fun to read).

In this decision, though, the judge made strong statements against the notion that a voter approved measure has higher standing that something simply passed by a legislature. I have always hated this argument and so has the SCOTUS. Yet, the blindingly ignorant American People can't seem to grasp the founding principle that the American Constitution was designed from the beginning to avoid the tyranny of the majority.

The judge quoted Justice Robert H.Jackson who once wrote,
[t]he very purpose of a Bill of Rights was to withdraw certain subjects from the vicissitudes of political controversy, to place them beyond the reach of majorities and officials and to establish them as legal principles to be applied by the courts. One’s right to life, liberty, and property, to free speech, a free press, freedom of worship and assembly, and other fundamental rights may not be submitted to vote; they depend on the outcome of no elections.
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Monday, March 24th, 2014 07:44 am

I don't know what movie the cast and crew were trying to make, but I think that movie is monumentally depressing. From my point of view it dots the "i" of impossible in the sentence, "The survival of the human species is impossible given its inability to think its way out of a brown paper bag."

The best character in the movie? Mom. She is a mean old bitty in many respects (not unlike my own mother), but she is also a no-nonsense, straight shooter. I rather liked that.

This was a Netflix disc movie which Stacey rates without me. I don't know what she is going to give it, but I would give it a solid 3 nudging its way to 4. It was nominated for a boat load of awards and won none of them. Should have won a few.
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Thursday, March 20th, 2014 08:49 am
Midweek Edition. Ender's Game.

I simply love the book. It might well be my all time favorite non-science SF book. I was avoiding the movie. I was especially avoiding it after I saw the trailers. I simply didn't want another action adventure movie in the face of a book that is almost entirely character development. Damn you, Netflix. :)

So we watched it last night. Certainly the movie left out essentially all the sub-plots. And it just couldn't focus on the Ender's emotional development or the movie would have been six hours long.

They did a credible job, however, of getting the main point across. And Harrison Ford.

It was not the book. It was, however, good. It gets a 3 out of five. Yes, I am surprised.
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Sunday, March 16th, 2014 10:21 am
Inside Llewyn Davis.

I adore the Joel and Ethan Coen films. But this one, though certainly one of theirs in tone and tempo, was not their best effort. I want to feel there is some possibility that the main character has some shot of redemption even though I know it will never, ever happen. I felt none of it. More than that, I really didn't want to see this guy win.

The era was perfect. He is a mediocre folk singer when the Beats where gone and before the rise of protest music. The early sixties where not kind to folk singers. Failing after a serious struggle for success would be more interesting that a guy who seems to think that something magical should happen to him just because he's a folk singer.

In the entire movie, there was only one character who didn't seem like a total shit. The owner of a club in Chicago talked straight. Everyone else was either an ignorant git, a manipulative asshole, or a righteous twit. I can only take so much of that.

I watched it through which means a 2 at minimum. It jets a bump for being a Coen movie. So, reluctantly, it gets a three.

Would have been a lot better if any of the music was decent. It wasn't.
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Monday, March 10th, 2014 07:59 am
A humming bird flew into the house last night when we opened the front door to head out for dinner. It immediately flew up to the skylight. No chance to get it. So we turn out all the lights, left the back sliding door open and hoped for the best. When we got back from dinner, we discovered our plan almost worked. When it got dark, the bird abandoned the skylight, but went for the high window over the front door. The overly bright street light shines in that window. We tried various things that had no chance of working and gave up. When we went into our room and turned on the light, the bird flew in. This is good. We have low ceilings. And the poor thing was exhausted. After a couple of tries, I managed to scoop it up in a towel. I left it outside on the towel near water and blooming flowers. I pretty much that it was going to die of exhaustion and fear. Apparently not. This morning I found the towel just like I left it and the bird gone. Since the towel was not disturbed, I'm figuring the bird is off telling the story of getting away.

This morning, I dragged myself out of bed in the dark (I had switching to and from DST) and got myself to work nice and early. Locked out of the building. It is a card entry building and nobodies' cards worked. Thought it might be because of DST, so I waited the 20 minutes 'til the building thought it was time to unlock the doors. Nope. Waited another 30 minutes until "management" showed up and did some hocus-pocus to open the doors. Not a good start for the day.
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Monday, March 10th, 2014 07:35 am
Watched two over the weekend. The first was Dallas Buyers Club. I avoid AIDS movies. There is nothing new to say and the stories are depressing. This one had something new (to me) to say. And while it was depressing for all the reasons HIV is depressing, it was more depressing for the lengths the Federal Government went through to screw with this guy. It took me a bit of time to warm up to the main character. He starts out an ignorant, homophobic, sexist,redneck asshole. His transformation is quite believable and worth the price of admission all by itself. A very solid 3 and well worth watching.

Number two as Stand Up Guys. Al Pacino, Christopher Walkin, and Alan Arkin. Mostly the first two. And they were GREAT. It's a gangster movie and I usually don't like them, but these guys are such great actors that I'll watch them in anything. Stacey thought it was too slow, but I think that was more her pain meds than the movie. We gave it a three, but I would have given in a four.

Both are well worth watching.
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Monday, March 3rd, 2014 06:52 am
Oh, dear. Good story with a great pedigree. Even good actors. VERY BAD MOVIE. "The Lone Ranger" is not, was not, and should never be a clown. What is this? White Man's Guilt?

Stupid special effects in which the physical laws are hidden away in the basement so that very, very bad train sequences could be filmed in clown-car fashion.

We watched through the end, so it gets a two. But it really should be a 1 and the director should never be allowed to work again.
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Sunday, March 2nd, 2014 01:03 pm
The Talented Mr. Ripley.

We would have given this a solid three if it had been 30 minutes shorter. We gave it a two so that we would not be tempted to watch it again. It was intricate but not well paced. By the end, we independently declared the movie too slow. Not much to say without spoilers, though.