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“Ready Player One” – Awesome!!

April 23, 2018

I read a bad review of this film, so I had low expectations.

I’m not even a gamer, but.. Guess what? I loved the movie!

(I haven’t read the novel, so I can’t comment on how the film relates to the novel, except that my 13 year-old nephew thought the story in the film was better than the story in the book).

Hardly anyone famous in the cast.. which was cool.  I like seeing new faces sometimes. Also cool to see Simon Pegg, who is a huge sci-fi nerd. And the creepy dude who was the villain in “Rogue One.”

Never seen any of the kids before, and they were great!

The animation and special effects were amazing, even by today’s standards. I REALLY wish I’d seen the film in 3D. I saw it with my brother and two of his kids. I forgot he doesn’t like to pay three extra dollars per ticket to see movies in 3D. Bummer.

I’ll wait ’til the movie arrives at the discount theater, then I will watch it in 3D. That’s what I do if I’ve already seen a great movie with a whole lot of spectacle at a regular price, but not in 3D. I previously went to the discount theater to see, for a second time, the third Star Trek reboot, and the third Thor film. (Loved both of those, especially “Thor: Ragnarok,” which I think is one of Marvel’s best movies).

There are tons of pop culture references in “Ready Player One.” And some great music. I’m over 40. People my age and older will appreciate the references and music. The movie started with one of my all-time favorite songs, “Jump,” by my favorite band, Van Halen! A strange song to choose as a film opener, though, considering the movie is rather bleak at the beginning. But otherwise, “Jump” works well for the film (and especially the trailer). The song being about taking risks.. “might as well jump!”

I liked the plot, the acting, the characters, the visuals. All awesome.

One thing quite sobering though: It’s possible, even likely, that life in America and other parts of the industrialized world,  some years from now, is going to look and be much like it is depicted in the film.

Parental advisory.. just a bit of swearing, the main female character (in animated form) is in a sexy dress, and there is some heavy gore, surprisingly. Did they have to pick a segment from one of only three films that have badly scared me in the past?

No, I won’t mention which film. I want you to be surprised. If you are quite a bit younger than I am, unless you are a fan of older horror films, you probably haven’t seen it.

One other thing I want to mention.. I hope, after watching this movie, you don’t feel inspired to watch a previous Spielberg sci-fi film, “A.I.” Although fairly well-made, that movie is astonishingly depressing. Skip it, please!

If you are into movies about aliens, watch Spielberg’s classic “Close Encounters of the Third Kind.” Just keep in mind it was released back in 1977, the same year the original “Star Wars” was in theaters. The special effects in both films were astounding for that time, which was before the age of computer graphics.

So anyway.. as long as you aren’t bringing along little kids.. go see this movie!!

 

 

 

“A Quiet Place” sucked!!

April 10, 2018

Saw that film just a few hours ago. Made a mistake believing the immense hype and rave reviews.

Ok then..  some things I take issue with..

No explanation of what the monsters are or why they are on earth or how they got there.

The monsters look a bit too much like the critters from seasons 1 & 2 of “Stranger Things.”

The movie is surprisingly (I should say mercifully) short.

The ending is really bad.

The concept was good.  I hate when films with good concepts turn out bad.

Was it a complete loss?

No. The acting was good – even the kids did a better than adequate job.  The cinematography was also done well.

But this movie could have been so much more.. so much better.

Want to see monsters going after people? Skip “A Quiet Place,”  and instead re-watch pretty much any of the Jurassic Park films (especially the first one) as well as “Aliens” (one of the best action films ever), or both seasons of “Stranger Things.”

Good thing I went on cheap day, and also had a free ticket.  Only spent $5.50 on tickets for two people.

Alright then.. you’ve been warned.

Writing online advice..

April 8, 2018

for what it’s worth..

I’ve taken on an odd hobby.. answering questions on quora.com. That is a site for people to ask pretty much any question, and maybe someone comes along and answers it.

I answer questions about movies, music, religion, and various aspects of human interaction. It can be a bit reckless to offer advice.. but..

I spent over 7 years studying the behavioral and social sciences in college (mostly psychology and sociology), am a former social worker, and have learned at least some things from experience..

So.. might as well try to help some folks.. and hope to be doing more good than harm.

Here is the most recent question I answered, and my answer..

“I’m starting to get feelings for a guy but I don’t want to be in a relationship. How can I control myself and get over it?”

My answer to this total stranger..

“I’ve had this problem too… feelings for women I didn’t want to get involved with. Unfortunately, part of being human is sometimes having feelings for those who are not good for us, or having certain feelings at wrong times in our lives.

It’s likely the best thing to do is avoid the guy, if possible. Not being around him will help the most. Hopefully, you have the option to remove yourself from the presence of the guy. But don’t just avoid him, and spend time alone feeling bad..more on that at the bottom of this answer.. but first.. read on..

If you cannot avoid the guy.. and..

If you are friends, if you know the guy already likes you, and especially if the subject of dating comes up, read this next part.. but, if he is not into you, as far as you can tell.. skip to the last part of my answer..

Ok.. so, if you know he likes you..especially if the subject of dating comes up.. it would be good to mention that you do not want to be in a relationship at this time. The guy might take it personal, and feel rejected.. but that’s how it goes. It’s pretty much impossible to go through life without rejecting at least a few people. Just be kind, if you can.

Years ago, a woman I liked, and who I was already friends with said, right out of the blue.. “Don’t fall for me, Tom, I just got out of a relationship a few months ago, and I don’t want to be in another one right now.” She said this to me, even though I’d not expressed romantic interest, and we hadn’t been talking about dating. She’d just figured me out.

I’d suggest that you not be quite as blunt as this woman was, unless you really feel the need to be. It might be best to wait until the subject of dating comes up. But maybe not. I don’t know you. I don’t know the guy. Luckily for me, I knew the woman well enough not to take her frankness personally, and was not offended. I was glad she was so honest and direct with me. Your situation might be different.

By the time she told me what was on her mind, I already liked the woman a lot (liked her right away.. couldn’t help it), but after she said that, I at least knew not to ask her out. We stayed friends for the rest of the time we worked together, though this was tough for me. If I and the woman had not been co-workers, I would have avoided spending time with her. But since we worked together, I thought it best she and I continue to get along.

Maybe you will remain friends with the guy, maybe not. But DON’T ever say to a guy.. “We can still be friends.” If he is into you, he doesn’t just want friendship. He might not want sex right away – not all guys do.. but he’ll be wanting a romantic relationship with you.

——–

Here is the last part of my answer: one other thing to consider, and possibly a helpful strategy to get past your feelings and move on..

I hesitate to write this next part.. I don’t know any details about your situation.. don’t know the guy, etc. But.. it might be possible that even though the timing isn’t great.. if the guy is great.. that might be the important thing.. not the bad timing..

Something to think about.. if the guy is great. If not, nevermind.

Alright.. here is a good strategy.. one that can work regardless of whether or not the guy already likes you.. get busy and stay busy with other people and activities. Hang out with friends (if they are good friends, and if the guy isn’t part of your crowd), make new friends, go on a road trip, join a gym and commit to working out at least 3x a week, volunteer, explore new interests. Take up the guitar or learn to paint, for example. Find something you like and put effort into doing it. Spend time with worthwhile people. Do good, enjoyable things. Some of what I’ve suggested will take courage and patience, but can be very helpful.

I wish you well.”

I hope I answered this question well, and am not being foolish by offering advice. I’m trying to do some good.

Usually, I don’t care for profanity, but..

April 6, 2018

This song is awesome!! One of the most fun, intense metal songs I’ve heard..

A Brief Introduction to Discworld Novels.

April 4, 2018

My last post was a quote from Terry Pratchett, author of the Discworld novels. I also posted the quote on facebook. One of my friends, a missionary pilot living in Indonesia for over 17 years, asked if the Discworld novels are good. I answered his question on facebook, and decided to post my answer here on wordpress too. The links go to facebook pages. Here is what I wrote to my friend Craig:

Short answer: Yes.

Long answer:

British author Terry Pratchett wrote 41 Discworld novels before he died in 2015. I’ve read something like 20 of them.

The books are fantasy novels, but are also satire. These are the only fantasy novels I like to read. I’m not a fan of the genre in general, though I used to be when I was younger.

Discworld is a flat, round planet, that sits atop four planet-size elephants, that are standing on an even more massive sea turtle, which swims slowly through space. The Disc spins around like a record album.

Some Discworld books are funny, some are more serious. But all of them have a definitely British style of writing and humour.

A few of the books have a tiny bit of profanity and a bit of double entendre, but otherwise are suitable for all ages.

Pratchett sometimes liked to do parodies of Shakespeare or other stories, and occasionally included references to pop culture.

He liked to take on subjects of race, religion, and politics, but not in an annoying way.

For example, some books deal with Dwarfs vs. Trolls – these two races hate each other. A couple books deal with dwarf politics and spirituality – moderates vs. radicals.

There are four main Discworld series. My favorite is referred to as The Watch or Night Watch. These are police procedural mysteries set in a Renaissance-era city based on London, but a city inhabited by three main species – humans, dwarfs and trolls, and several other types of people- gnomes, vampires, werewolves, and others, all living in a massive city.

The watch books: Guards! Guards! , Men at Arms (my favorite) Feet of Clay, Jingo (this one is a parody of the assassination of JFK, and elements from the film, “Lawrence of Arabia,”), The Fifth Elephant, Night Watch, and Thud! (yes, the exclamation point is included in the title).

The other series I like is about 3 witches. They are based in a tiny mountain kingdom, and have many adventures. There are 6 of these books about the 3 witches .. some of the titles have purposely misspelled words..

Sourcery, Wyrd Sisters (a dark parody of Macbeth and King Lear), Witches Abroad, Lords and Ladies, Maskerade (a parody of Phantom of the Opera), and Carpe Jugulum. Witches Abroad and Maskerade are the funniest, and best of these, in my opinion.

There are also books about another witch, and a huge tribe of tiny Scotsmen- type characters, who are rather irreverent, and called the Wee Free Men. I’ve only read one of these books. It was ok. Actually, I didn’t finish that one. Nevermind.

There is a series about the adventures of a hapless wizard named Rincewind. He, by accident, learned a spell that can destroy the world. He can never say it, and it takes up so much of his mind, that he was never able to learn any other spells at the wizard school called Unseen University.

The earlier Discworld books were published before Harry Potter. I’m pointing this out so that the Pratchett books won’t seem like a knock-off. Only males, with one exception, become wizards, and only women become witches. Also, I still don’t know why the school is called Unseen University, since its campus can be seen.. anyway. I only read two and a half of the Rincewind books – I don’t like these much, but other folks do.

The last series is about the Grim Reaper (just referred to as Death), and his adopted family. Death is the only character who shows up in all the books. There’s always at least a few incidental characters dying, and Death always has brief, usually amusing conversations with these characters right after they’ve died.

I’ve only read one of the Death novels. It was alright, but I prefer to re-read (lots of times) the Watch books, mostly. I’ll get to those other ones, eventually, I suppose. Or maybe not.

There are some standalone Discworld novels as well. The one I like best is a parody of the Golden Age of Hollywood, called “Moving Pictures.” Another good one is about the invention of the printing press and the first newspaper. It is called “The Truth.”

A novel co-written by Terry Pratchett that is not a Discworld novel, but is certainly worth mentioning, and worth reading and re-reading: “Good Omens,” co-written by Neil Gaiman, who has written mostly much darker, modern fantasy novels – some worth reading, some..not so much.

“Good Omens” is a parody of the events leading up to the End of Days. If you have seen the original version of the classic horror film, “The Omen,” you will get more of the jokes and references. But you don’t need to see the movie to appreciate the book.

The film is about the Antichrist as a kid. One of the main characters of the novel is also the Antichrist as a boy – but he’s not evil. Other main characters are an angel and a demon (both in human form) who team up to try to prevent the End from happening, because they rather enjoy life on earth. There’s also a young witch, and a young man who is a witchfinder sent to stop her, but they team up instead. And the four Horse-persons of the Apocalypse.

Death, being one of them, is in this novel too. Pestilence resigned in frustration, because vaccines were created to wipe out so many diseases, and was replaced by Pollution. War is a woman, and foreign correspondent. Famine is a diet guru.

I’ve read a lot of novels. Good Omens is one of the best I’ve ever read. Not as offensive to Christians as you might guess.. well.. depending on the Christian. I think you’d really like the book.

Can you download books online – from Amazon – onto a computer or kindle?

If so, I’d say start with “Good Omens,” or, if you want to jump into Discworld, either “Moving Pictures,” or else start with the first Watch book, Guards! Guards!

How do you get mail? Is it possible to send packages via MAF, or just send them directly?

When I was selling stuff on ebay years ago, I read about many vendors refusing to send merchandise to Indonesia. Is it tough to get mail there? I never sent anything to Indonesia.

Any idea how much sending a few books would cost to send from Boise to Terakan?

Ok then.. hope you enjoyed my lengthy summary! You might really like these books!

Where the agnostics are buried..

April 3, 2018

“This cemetery of Small Gods was for the people who didn’t know what happened next. They didn’t know what they believed in or if there was life after death, and, often, they didn’t know what hit them. They’d gone through life being amiably uncertain, until the ultimate certainty had claimed them at the last. Among the city’s bone orchards, the cemetery was the equivalent of the drawer marked ‘misc.’ – where people were interred in the glorious expectation of not very much.”

– Terry Pratchett, from his Discworld novel, “Night Watch.”

Curly Tree.

March 28, 2018

curly tree