Thursday, August 16, 2018

Trump Does Not Respect The Chair

There is this great scene in Star Trek- Into Darkness where Admiral Pike takes the Enterprise from a young Kirk.

"You don't comply with the rules. You don't take responsibility for ANYTHING... and you don't respect the Chair. You know why? Because you're not ready for it."

I always think of that rebuke when President Trump comes up in the news.

When he was elected, I made a determination to give him a chance. I held out a hope that the Chair of the Presidency would sober him up.

Here is a man who has a disreputable past but maybe, in this last decade of his life, he would chart a new course. Maybe the weight of the Oval Office would make him reflect on his legacy... and he would step up to appropriately bear the duties of the President of the United States.

But no.

He has continued in his self serving ways, his childish, vindictive attitudes and his boorish behavior.

Donald Trump does not respect the Chair.

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

A Troubling Trend

I was reading an article about white teachers recently.  The author was listing various issues that are facing education as students become more diverse but our teaching force remains largely white.  I thought the author made some really interesting points but one issue she brought up in a few different ways is that white teachers shouldn't ask their black friends or co-workers questions regarding issues of race.

I found a similar train of thought on a short Buzzfeed video about sexuality.  They cut back and forth between various folks giving commentary on their experience within their subgroup.  There was one individual who seemed to have a chip on their shoulder.  This person was constantly rolling their eyes in respect to anyone who did not understand the various sub-categories.  When asked about what it means to be gender fluid, the person scoffed, "I am so sick of answering that question!"

These are just two examples of an attitude and perspective I feel I have run into dozens of times in the past year.  I teach, so I understand the feeling of impatience that can arise from answering the same question over and over... particularly when you feel something has already been explained or should be self-evident.

However, I am concerned that - just when our country is hitting a stride of listening, probing, and looking to be educated, the door is being slammed in many questioning faces.  If you think no one is really listening or questioning, consider how the issues of race, sexuality, and feminism were discussed through most of the 20th century.

I am a middle-aged white dude.  My experience with being a minority is pretty thin.  My insights are vicarious.  As a teacher, I work mostly with women (I am the only male teacher on my staff).  A good chunk of my friend circle is gay.  I spent 8 years working at a school where 95 percent of my students were non-white.

I was raised in a highly conservative environment.  I cringe when I think of the various sexist, homophobic, and racist things that have come out of my mouth and attitude over the decades.  If it were not for the exposures and experiences I listed above, I would probably still consider a lot of that bad thinking to be acceptable.  It was through conversations with people different than me that my thoughts have begun to change.

I am an atheist.  I was an evangelical for 30 years, so I know from experience the wrong-headed ideas a lot of religious folks have about me.  Those ideas they have will continue to spin as long as their only thoughts about atheists are what they tell each other.  If one wants to understand the atheist experience, don't ask a believer, ask an atheist.

If you are in any kind of minority group, I would hope you could be patient with answering questions and sharing your experience.  There is no one better equipped to share your story than you.  If change is going to happen, it will be because of more conversations, not less.

Wednesday, August 01, 2018

July Movie Picks

Wow! Ten movies in the month of July.  Not a record, but respectable.

Whether or not this level of moviegoing will continue remains to be seen. My supplier is Moviepass and this past week with them has been… dramatic. I think someday there will be a comedy made of the Moviepass story.  User reactions alone could supply a lot of the bits.

Therefore, this could be the last month for your friendly neighborhood movie grader. I am a teacher and there is no way 10 movies could budget in a single month without Moviepass.

So what did July bring us? Let’s take a look (in order, btw)-

Sicario: Day of the Soldado: B-
A decent follow up to the first Sicario. It doesn’t do anything particularly original but it is an enjoyable hit-man/black-ops movie. Brolin and Del Toro take it from passable to moderately engaging.

The First Purge: D-
I have to confess, I have not seen any of the previous Purge movies. If this one is any indication, I made the right move. The motive for the Purge (give everyone 24 hours to do whatever the hell they want without consequences) is so bizarre that I just couldn’t quit shaking my head at the absurdity. This premise sets up a lot of pointless action with even worse dialog. This movie should have been direct to video.

Ocean’s 8: C+
I think I left this movie a little disappointed because I was hoping to like it more than I did. The word that keeps coming to mind is… fine. The acting was… fine. The story was… fine. The humor was… fine. I anticipated a twist ending but rather than wowing me, I shrugged when it arrived. I can’t put my finger on what was missing but, for me, it just failed to launch.

Ant-Man and the Wasp: B+
Another enjoyable Marvel movie to add to the list. A couple of new angles in this sequel but it was not quite as fun as the first. It suffered from a lack of an engaging bad guy and they took all the likeability out of Michael Douglas’s character. Still, it had enough of the usual Marvel cleverness and excitement to make it a worthy view.

Skyscraper: C-
Take Die Hard and remove all the humor, clever lines, and the over-the-top villain. Really, they could have released it at Christmas and called it Die Hard 6. It was watchable but just barely.

The Equalizer 2: B
I guess the Equalizer series is how you get Denzel Washington to play a super-hero. No costume, but all the other elements are there. Who wouldn’t enjoy watching Denzel take out bad guys for an hour or two?

Unfriended: Dark Web: C+
Dark web gets points for being a unique experience for me – you essentially watch an online chat session (although I am told they did this in the first movie of the series as well). It was well done for what it was, but still… you watch a chat session for an hour and a half. I think it would have functioned better as a 1-hour Black Mirror episode.

Teen Titans Go! To The Movies: D-
Wow… was this movie tedious! Every character delivered their line in an overly excited tone while their head raised and their eyes boggled. I was beyond annoyed after the first 15 minutes.

Most modern cartoon movies find that sweet spot of balancing being enjoyable for children and yet keeping the adults entertained. I suspect the only person who could tolerate this dumpster fire is a high-strung eight-year-old who had just been given carte blanche at the concessions counter.

Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again: B
Another enjoyable Mama Mia movie. Perhaps a little less humor than the first but also a bit more touching. Like its predecessor, it is a simple, happy time spent on a Mediterranean island with music and dancing. What’s not to like?

Mission: Impossible – Fallout: B+
Did you know that this series is now 22 years old? I wonder how many more they will do. I suspect for however long Tom Cruise can run (or until he kills himself doing one of his own stunts).

Really, I think Cruise will do these into his 70s. Why not? Mission Impossible is always a fun ride. It hits every trope, but you kind of want it to. It is the comfort food you expect in summer movie going.

See you next month!


This article was first posted on Salt Lake Film Review.
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