Thursday, September 24, 2020

I Rarely Walk Out of A Movie

I usually trust that still, small voice (and it was SO right this time).

Infidel was not on my radar to see.  It already had a few strikes against it but tonight the showing was at a real convenient time, so I decided to roll the dice.

The first strike was that my Dad had mentioned that he wanted to see it.  Don't get me wrong, I get my movie-loving genes from my Dad and we agree on movies way more often than we don't.  The problem was that I had never heard of it.  Me... they guy who follows all the movie sites on Facebook.  Where would he have heard of a movie that I hadn't?

Must be Right-Wing/Christian media.

Strike one.

The second strike was due to Jim Caviezel.  I enjoyed him in Person of Interest but a story Ethan Suplee shared on a podcast really soured me.  Ethan spent most of his early career as the heavy set, funny guy in movies like Remember the Titans and on My Name is Earl

Suplee and Caviezel were on a flight together traveling to a movie shoot.  Caviezel took the opportunity to tell Ethan about Jesus.  He explained that Ethan obviously needed Jesus ... because... and then he made reference to Ethan's obesity, which he contrasted with his own in shape self.  Ethan told his wife on the phone that night that no one had ever made him feel so poorly about himself.  It was due to that and a few other realities that motivated him to get in shape.  He never wanted to be spoken to that way again.  On the podcast, Suplee said he got in shape, not because of Caviezel and Jesus but in spite of them.

Still, I can generally separate someone being a jerk from their performance, so I got my bucket of popcorn and soda and headed into the theater.  I was the only one occupying a seat.

The opening credits came on as I was getting situated.  Across the screen flashed "D'Souza Productions".  I was alone in the theater so I half-shouted at the screen, "DINESH @#$%^&* D'Souza??!!"  I did a quick check on my phone.

"God-#$%%!^!!!" I yelled even louder. 

Dinesh D'Souza is one of the worst Christo-Nationalist political media hacks out there.  A genuinely awful human!  Alex Jones level.  He was sent to prison for campaign finance violations.  Trump pardoned him.

I felt like Cameron pounding on the steering wheel of his car, frustrated with his own indecision.  I was so irritated.


By the time the opening credits ceased, I had decided to stay... until I was finished with my popcorn. I was GOING to eat my bucket of popcorn.

The first 20 minutes vacillated between meh, tacky, and horrible.  They had used plenty of anti-Islamic tropes, set up the "Christian who lost their faith because of a tragedy" sub-plot and infused most moments with that general Christian movie awkwardness that comes from having ulterior motives in the storytelling.

It was getting grueling... but I was only halfway done with my popcorn.

At this point of the movie, Caviezel's character, who is a Christian speaker, goes to Cario to talk at some kind of inter-faith chat with a Muslim TV interviewer.  Caviezel explains that the Abrahamic faiths should not be fighting among each other but against the secularists, who are the true enemy.  The Muslim interviewer heartily agrees... but almost too much.  Caviezel's character, like most evangelicals, gets nervous about appearing too agreeable with another faith so he starts to instruct the Muslim audience about Jesus.  He isn't just a prophet, he is God. The crowd grows agitated.  The interviewer asks why it isn't ok for Muslims to just think of Jesus as a prophet.  Caviezel fires back with, 
"Jesus said, I am the way..."  yada, yada. My eyes were rolling so hard into the back of my head at this point, I completely missed the interviewer's retort. Whatever it was, it was a setup.  The music vamped like an altar call and the camera did a slow pan to Caviezel's face which spoke imploringly to the movie audience:

"For God so loved..."

"That's it, I am #$%#&^% out of here!" Me, my soda, and a half-eaten bucket of popcorn were down the aisle and out of the theater before he could finish that sentence.

It was just awful.

I feel dirty that this movie got my ticket on its ledger.  Perhaps I cannot give it an accurate review because I failed to stay to the end... but I think I will find a way to live with myself.

Tuesday, September 22, 2020

Donald "Biff" Trump

There was a story in the news today about someone sending Ricin to the White House.  It occurred to me that I would never think well of that action or the person who did it - and I hate Trump (something I have never felt toward any President).

It made me remember how Trump gloried in that journalist getting shot in the knee the other day.  It was a "beautiful thing" Trump chortled to the crowd at his rally and got a laugh.

Trump behaves this way because he is, at his foundation, a bully.  He really is Biff Tannan, looking for someone to pick on so he can get a laugh from his toadies.

Trump does not want to be President because he loves America.  He wants to be President so he can bully people.

That's it.

If you support him, do some soul searching.  There is a part of you that is ok with that, maybe even longs for it.

I never realized in the 80s when the Back to The Future movies came out that a third of America was rooting for Biff.

Friday, September 18, 2020

Brain Buzz

When I was a teen, I was part of a competitive Bible quiz league.  We had competitions locally and went to a few national tournaments around the country during the year.

Essentially, you would commit a book of the Bible to memory and be asked questions about it.  Not just any questions, the question had to come directly out of the scripture.  You would never hear a question like, "How many disciples did Jesus have?" because that did not come word for word out of the scripture. 

Instead, they would take a verse like John 11:17 "On his arrival, Jesus found that Lazarus had already been in the tomb for four days." and pull a word or a phrase out and stick an interrogative in its place (they could add a helping verb if necessary).  So, a question might read: "Who had already been in the tomb for four days?" Answer?  Lazarus.  Three teams of three to four "quizzers" would compete over 20 such questions.

However, most competitors' level of memorization was so complete, they didn't wait for the full question to finish.  They would buzz in on just a few words of the question: "Who had al..." and hope from that bit of the question, they could figure out where the verse was in 21 chapters of John and answer inside the 30 seconds given from the initial buzz.  You could formulate a question and answer or quote the entire section to be called correct.  (There is a story to my question example that a few Detroit quizzers MAY remember).

Anyways, sometimes over a few days of competition, your brain kind of went to mush.  You spent so much time concentrating, that after it was all over, there was just a low buzz in your brain.  Unlike the usual scattered thoughts that crowd for space, after a quizzing tournament, there was a weird brain silence.

It has been decades since I have felt that phenomenon, but I recognized it today.  After a week of remote teaching, my brain was just on fire.  This week I spent so much time focusing.  Much of what I do in teaching nowadays is 2nd nature... but there was none of that this week.  Every detail had to have my attention.  I wasn't just thinking, I was concentrating.  Nothing was automatic, the whole week was on manual control.

I am really tired... but it was all strangely satisfying.  Not saying I want to do that all the time... but it was like seeing an old friend experiencing that brain buzz again today.

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