Thursday, September 23, 2010

Showing My Age

As part of my gig I get to teach a couple of college courses each semester. Some of them are on really cool topics, like working in a multicultural society. Tonight, as I was discussing how the media portrays minorities, I brought up the example of Tonto.

There were 35 vacant eyes staring back at me.

For the first time ever, I was in front of a group of students so young they had no reference for Tonto.

God damn it, I'm old.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Spreading The Good News

Representatives from Gideons International were outside my workplace this morning, handing out bibles and a handshake to passers-by. Despite my long-standing atheism, I always take a bible from the Gideons. There's something about their passive approach to evangelism that I appreciate.

By the age of 22, about the time period in which I embraced not having faith, I'd seen more than my fair share of heavy-handed tactics designed to bring people to Christ. In some of them I even participated.

The Free Will Baptist Church my family attended was at the center of our universe: it served as our social network, was a haven from the evils of a secular world, and was a pretty accessible place for a pre-teen to meet chicks.

My all-time favorite sermon was delivered by a visiting minister during a week-long revival. One of the hallmarks of a good revival is how many souls are saved, or "brought to Christ." The minister struggled all week with getting his message across, and each night ended with no converts. On the final night of the revival the minister walked to the pulpit, turned to the congregation and said:

"The fact is, if you die before being saved you will go to Hell for eternity. Any of you could die in a car wreck on your way home from this service. Is that a chance you want to take?"

He called for a hymn and sat down. Four people rushed to the alter to be saved.

The use of fear to manipulate others is a tactic I've always despised. And religions--regardless of which kind it is that we're talking about--have a lot of people who regularly use fear in an attempt to make others see the world as they do.

All things considered, I prefer the Gideons.

Sunday, September 19, 2010


Devil, based on a story written by M. Night Shyamalan and directed by John Erick Dowdle, is the first in a trilogy of films under the title Night Chronicles planned by producer Shyamalan. This first installment takes the audience inside a Devil's Meeting, an event where the Devil tempts and tortures sinners to ensure their evil nature before ultimately taking their souls.

Dowdle's story places five of the six major characters inside a crowded elevator, stalled between floors in a big city high rise. One of the five is the Devil in human form, who tests each of the others to gauge their level of corruption. The sixth character, Detective Bowden, is forced to watch events unfold from the elevator security camera, his efforts to save those in the elevator thrawted by Satan.

Devil feels like an old Hitchcock psychological thriller, but it's told with made-for-TV movie production. The premise is sound and the story is revealed nicely, but the characters are stiff and mostly stereotypes.

The film interested me mostly with its message that real salvation comes from forgiveness; letting go of regrets, hatred, anger and fear allows us to reach true happiness. With our modern society engaged in what seems to be perpetual conflict over cultural perspectives, this is a lesson from which we all could benefit.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Youth In Revolt

Perpetual geek,
The nebish Michael Cera
Does it one more time.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

"Shut The Fuck Up, Donnie!"

At the beginning of a large staff meeting today, we played an ice-breaking game themed on who looked most like a celebrity. I won a $25 gift certificate to Amazon for looking like this guy.

I'm not sure if I should be happy, or if I should cry.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

The Men Who Stare At Goats

I've held a life-long interest in the paranormal, especially those preternatural abilities that seem more possible in real life. Take remote viewing, for example. The possibility that one could use one's mind to see and possibly affect objects and events from a distance gets my juices flowin'.

It's always my favorite topic discussed on my favorite late-night radio show, Coast To Coast AM with George Noory.

That interest, combined with the fact The Men Who Stare At Goats is labled as a slapstick farce, made me enthusiastic about this flick. I'm generally a fan of how George Clooney plays humor, so I settled in with great anticipation. More than two-thirds of the way through, however, I was still waiting on a guffaw.

Aside from the mild chuckle that came with Clooney using the phrase "Jedi master" with co-star Ewan McGregor, the laughter never really came. Goats was a total waste of time, despite an all-star cast that included Jeff Bridges and Kevin Spacey.

The movie really got my goat.

Monday, September 06, 2010

My Name Is Khan

Like Forrest Gump and The Curious Case of Benjamin Buttons, My Name Is Khan takes a look at love, life and societal complication through the eyes of someone who doesn't share the common perspective.

Rizvan Khan, who lives with a form of autism, finds love and acceptance in the United States after years of living with isolation and misunderstanding in India. The events of September 11, 2001 alters that happiness in a tragic way, and sets Rizvan on a path to prove himself all over again.

The Bollywood flick is lengthy and sometimes sentimental, but it allows the viewer to look at American culture from the perspective of someone who sees life from a unique angle.

It may be the most truthful flick I've seen this year.