Friday, May 25, 2007

New blargage on teh Interblogs

This week's column is up at The Scenic Route. Be forewarned: It's a doozy at 1,100 words (possibly my longest yet). Have fun!

Friday, May 18, 2007

A telling moment

This morning I asked my mother, "What does it say about me that I can't quite enjoy the 'Baroque: When you are out of Monet' joke because the Baroque period came before the Impressionists?"

She didn't even look up. She just said, matter-of-factly, "You're a nerd."

At least I'm a cute nerd.

Reports of Mr. Clemens' demise have proved surprisingly accurate

New bloggage at The Scenic Route. Hurrah hurrah. Enjoy.

Friday, May 04, 2007

The most childish thing I've heard all week (a rant)

A young man in California claimed that he was going to kill himself for peace. The site is short, so I'll copy most of it here:

"My name is Christopher. My name means, "Bearer of Christ." I attended UC Santa Cruz until it became too expensive for my family to afford. Americans like baseball, so let me try to explain myself with a baseball analogy: 9/11 was strike 1, the War was strike 2, Katrina was strike 3, and Virginia Tech was too much. No more for me. I don't want to play anymore.

As a human, I feel I have the right to live free from fear, free from powerdrunk hate-mongers, free from the voices inside our collective conscience suggesting we commit grand crimes for our countries.

On May 3rd, 2007, at 3:07 PM PST in front of a busy gas station in Livermore, CA, I am going to kill myself for peace to prove the futility of fighting a War for Peace. Shortly afterwards, I will read a statement regarding my sacrifice. It will basically say, "Chris died for peace."

Thank you for your understanding, be safe, be happy, and good luck.

Thank you.
Let me get this straight: He wants to kill himself for peace because he "do[es]n't want to play anymore"? People do bad things, so he's going to take his ball and go home? When did making a "statement" become more constructive than actually making an effort to improve things? How is causing his friends and family grief going to make the world a better place? The bad guys aren't going to stop killing people because some college student says "Stop it!" with suicide. They're used to death. They'll just laugh at his wasted effort and go right on with what they're doing. Plus, he lists Katrina as a reason for wanting to go through with this. Since when do the forces of nature pay attention to us mortals? Maybe he thinks he can influence the government, but let's face it, he's just one more face in the crowd. Nobody heard of him before this. Maybe if he was famous, he would have a better chance of success, but it's still a fruitless gesture. Sacrificing your life when no one asked you to is not the way to stop the powers of darkness.

Somehow, I doubt he believes in a just and loving god.

I hope he didn't go through with it. It's a stupid way to die. You wanna die for peace? Go do mission work over in the Phillipines or something, put yourself in danger for someone else and do something selfless for a change. This guy sounds like the kind who wouldn't intervene in a beating because he wants to take the high road and avoid violence. I hope he got over himself or at least chickened out.

I'll update this post later if I hear anything more. If he did kill himself, I'm going to be very disappointed.

UPDATE: My mother has pointed out that he may not have meant literal suicide; that it might, instead, have been a symbolic gesture.

I still think it's stupid.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

A new column and an annoucement (of sorts)

A new column is up at The Scenic Route, and it may be the last one on that site. I started it a year ago this week with the intention of writing a column a week for the next year. That didn't work out until I got a column in the Daily News, but I had every intention of finishing the site at about this time. I haven't decided if I'm going to do that or not; I've come to enjoy writing a weekly column, and I'd hate to get out of the habit. This blog will still be operating, of course, with reviews and commentary, but whether The Scenic Route will stay operational remains to be seen. Who knows? It may be time for a new project. I'll keep you all posted.

Ah, the thrill of . . . victory . . . I guess . . .

Over the past few years, I've put an increasing focus on my writing. I've drafted a novel and several short stories, and I've even begun submitting stories to magazines. So far, one's been published. The others, well, let's just say I'm going to try again, which makes this all the more humorous. At least to me.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

The time machine is red and shiny, and I want one.

"Meet the Robinsons" was a pleasant surprise. I had expected a cheap knock-off of "The Incredibles," but instead I found a children’s movie that, while not particularly intellectual, was funny and heartwarming without resorting to cheap gags. I have the feeling that if Disney had gone it alone on this one, it would have been a disaster. Luckily, they had the good sense to bring in Pixar’s John Lasseter as a producer, and it shows. According to IMDb, Walt Disney Animation Studios redid more than 50 percent of the movie after showing it to Lasseter. The result was "Meet the Robinsons," a charming animated features that succeeds in being childlike without being childish.

Based on the book "A Day With Wilbur Robinson" by William Joyce, the movie revolves around Lewis, a 12-year-old orphan (they always are in these stories, but hey, if it ain’t broke!) who loves to invent things. Unfortunately, this personality quirk has consistently turned away couples looking to adopt him. Lewis’ hopes are pinned on his latest invention, but sabotage from a strange figure in the shadows dashes his hopes until Wilbur Robinson, 13-year-old who claims he’s from the future, steps in to help straighten things out. The movie gets progressively – and delightfully – weirder from there.

I’ll admit that the plot didn’t exactly keep me perched on the edge of my seat; I figured out most of the twist a good twenty minutes before the reveal. On the other hand, half the friends I saw the movie with did not, so your mileage may vary. Children should enjoy it just fine, although those younger than, say, 6 or 7 may find some of the later action a little too dark for comfort.

One mark in the movie’s favor is that although the adults come in every available shade of wacky, they are all (with the exception of the villain) helpful, intelligent and generally good. The children are not portrayed as being smarter or more mature than their authority figures, and positive parental role models are firmly in place. Even the villain’s self-inflicted decline is exposed in a flashback, proving that it is still possible to present the moral of a story without ham-handing it. (The primary moral gets laid on a bit thick, but it’s a forgivable offense.)

For the adults in the audience, the plot, while simple, is intelligent enough to keep them sane, and the writing and voice-acting are to be commended. The visual design of the piece is excellent and gives off a "future according to 1950" vibe, and the action flows smoothly from one scene to the next with no dead areas. Also, there are no sexual references, minimal pop-culture references and no swearing. In other words, it’s a children’s movie that’s actually suitable for children (as opposed to the Shrek movies, for instance). Some of the humor will go right over most kid’s heads, but only because it makes references to things like old kung fu movies, not because of any inappropriate material.

"Meet the Robinsons" is a good way for parents to spend an afternoon at the movie theatre with their kids without dying of boredom. Give it a try if you get the chance.

"Meet the Robinsons" – viewed and reviewed May 1, 2007

Produced by Walt Disney Animation Studios

Directed by Stephen J. Anderson

Rated G