Monday, July 30, 2012

Music Video Monday: Gloria Estefan



In honour of the London Olympic Games, this week's music video is by Gloria Estefan who sang "the official song" of the 1996 Atlanta Olympic Games, "Reach." Radio stations in Atlanta played this song a lot in 1996 and it is a good theme song. However, I loved the other song from the Olympics even more: "Power of the Dream" by Celine Dion, which was sung at the Opening Ceremonies. "Reach" was performed by Gloria Estefan at the Closing Ceremonies. I found it interesting that the Atlanta Committee for the Olympic Games (ACOG) chose a French-Canadian and a Cuban-American to sing songs for the Olympics.

I have no idea if London will have an "official song", but I'm always skeptical about what's "official" and why there needs to be one. For the 1992 Olympics in Barcelona, the "official song" was "Amigos Para Siempre (Friends for Life)". In 1988, which was in Seoul, South Korea, it was supposedly "One Moment in Time" by Whitney Houston, but I have difficulty believing that. Perhaps it was only for America's Olympic team or T.V. coverage. I never heard about Sydney 2000, Athens 2004, or Beijing 2008 having "official" pop songs for their Olympics. Maybe such songs don't sell any more due to the way music has been fractured into different subcategories.

Have a great Olympics viewing. Let us all "reach higher" for whatever we want in life.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Hiking Near Mount Saint Helens

Yesterday, a friend and I went hiking on a few trails near the famous volcano Mount Saint Helens (which erupted in May 1980). Even though it was the first day of the Olympic Games in London, with a bike race through the streets of London into the countryside and back. But, I wanted to see Mount Saint Helens again (hadn't been there since 2007) and hiking is always great. I love the change of scenery, the not knowing what you'll see, the little surprises you find along the way, and the feeling you get from this form of exercise. Also, the views are inspiring and fantastic.

This hiking buddy of mine, Jeff, attends the same Community of Christ congregation. I got to know him and his Japanese wife when I switched congregations in 2010 after Christine left Portland. It was too painful for me to attend the Portland congregation because my memories of that place are too attached to her (she was the only reason why I attended that congregation, because they are the least friendly Community of Christ congregation that I had ever experienced). Had I known about the great group of people that attended the Tuality (TCC) congregation, I would've went there when I first moved here in 2006. I knew about the congregation, and that my best friend Nathan's brother Andrew attended that one, but it was not easy to get to, nor did I know where it was exactly.

Though Andrew and his wife rarely attend, I did get to meet other people. Jeff is three to five years older than I am. He's an interesting guy, who is married to a Japanese woman and they have two children, a boy and a girl. He's into the environment and when he gives the sermon at church, he's quite creative and often uses props and talks about some aspect of the environment or sustainable living.

He heads a hiking group at church, though the past two years, it has been difficult getting other people in the congregation to join in the scheduled hikes, so it has basically been just him and myself. We have interesting conversations during the hikes. Usually about spiritual topics. On yesterday's hike, we talked about atheists and their closed-mindedness regarding any kind of spiritual ideas or unexplained phenomenon.

The first hike was really short. It was all on a raised wooden platform over an area that showed where the lava flow had hardened into rock. At one point, you could actually crawl through a tunnel. It was longer than I thought it would be and pitch black. Neither of us had a flashlight and there was no way I was going to crawl through some dark tunnel. That has to be one of the scariest things (I wouldn't say that I am claustrophobic, but I do not like feeling "trapped" and being in the pitch black with no idea if there was some creature hiding in the tunnel, it was a no go).

The next hike was the longest and took us to the edge of a lack, where we could see Mount Saint Helens in the distance. That was a nice, long hike. The temperature was hot, with the sun out. The bugs were out as well. The views were fantastic, though, as we winded around the peaks and valleys of the hill. We even came across a patch of snow (in July!).

The final hike was up a huge hill for an overlook of Mount Saint Helens and the lake nearby. The lake still had trees floating in it from the blast more than 30 years ago. The cool thing about Mount Saint Helens National Park is that they have left everything from the volcanic eruption. There are some areas that are bald from no trees. Other places have new trees growing. It's definitely worth visiting, as there are many different places to stop for a vantage point. In 2007, the Young Adult group (YAPS and MAYAs) went to the Visitor's Center, which offered the closest point from which to view the volcano.

The hikes turned into an all day thing and it was dinner time when we got back into Portland. We had left early in the morning. Since Jeff's wife and children were visiting her family in Monterey, California, we decided to eat at a Thai restaurant. We didn't know where one was in my part of town so we drove on one street and it did not take long to find one. I saw a new part of Portland and there was even some drama going on (an ambulance was parked on the street next to the restaurant, with some woman laying down on the sidewalk and policemen talking to somebody). No one else was in the restaurant. As we ate, I told Jeff about my frustrations with dating, how shallow women seem to be. He told me that what attracted him to his wife was that she didn't play games. She was straight forward. She is a nice woman, and attractive too. Definitely a good catch. Why is it so hard to find available women like her?

It was a great day, even if I missed most of the opening day of competition in the London Olympics. Since I will be watching the Olympic broadcast every night, my blog is probably not going to have many posts for the next couple of weeks. Enjoy the Olympics! They only happen once every four years.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Flashback Friday: The Olympics

I actually wrote a post about the Atlanta Olympics in 2008, so no need to repeat myself here when you can go back and read that post in my archives (August 2008). But today, at the start of the London Olympics, I did want to write about the Olympics and why it is my favorite sporting event to watch. I LIVE for the Olympics! I'm not a big sports watcher because I find it to be a boring waste of time. I don't mind going to an occasional game in person, but when it comes to TV, I prefer to watch something that engages me or else read a book.

The first Olympics I remember watching were the 1984 Winter Olympics in Sarajevo, Yugoslavia and the 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles, California. I was living in Omaha, Nebraska at the time, in the summer before I started Junior High School. What made the Los Angeles Olympic Games interesting was the boycott of the USSR and a few of the Soviet Bloc countries, in retaliation for the American boycott of the 1980 Olympics in Moscow. When it comes to boycotts, I think it was one of the worst decisions made by President Jimmy Carter. He didn't really "punish" the Soviets for their invasion of Afghanistan in 1979 than he punished American athletes who train and dream about going to the Olympics. For some athletes, it's their one shot at glory. Asking them to wait 8 years between Olympics (the 1976 Summer Olympics were in Montreal) is too much, as some athletes' physical abilities are no longer at their peak.

I enjoyed watching the Los Angeles Olympics. I especially enjoyed watching the gymnastics, in which both the American men's and women's team won gold and Mary Lou Retton's perky personality became the star of these games. One male gymnast had an unfortunate name, though it's the only one I still remember now: Mitch Gaylord. The mascot of these games was Uncle Sam, a cartoon bald eagle. Certainly a lot better than Atlanta's "Izzy".

When I worked at the Atlanta Area Council starting in 2001, I met a District Executive who said that he won a medal in track and field at the Los Angeles Olympics. I thought he was only kidding. He also played on a professional football team. I checked out the information and it is true. He won the Silver Medal in the Men's 100 Meters. He was a nice guy and I did not understand why he was working in such a crappy job after accomplishing things that most people only dream about. He deserved a better fate than being a District Executive for a Scouting council.

The only Olympics I did not get to see much of is the 1992 Winter Olympics in Albertville, France. I was in the Navy in La Maddalena, Sardinia. We had one TV in Squadron spaces and everyone seemed okay with watching the Olympic coverage. Except this one Chief Petty Officer who was new to the command and a complete ass (he was an ass the entire time I had the misfortune of dealing with him). Because he HATED (and I mean HATED) the French, he refused to watch the Olympics and turned the channel, even though a group of us were watching it. His hatred of the French carried on when our ship made a port visit in Toulon, France in May 1992 and he refused to leave the ship. What was his beef against the French? All because the French government refused to allow American warplanes from England fly over their country on the way to bomb Tripoli in 1986. He was that petty. However, for all his assholeness, I never got to see much about the 1992 Olympics in Albertville. In 1994, he would end up going to Captain's Mast for fraternization and sexual harassment. I took pleasure in that because he once told me that liberals had no place in the military because we couldn't follow orders. Well, I proved him wrong. I never had to go to Captain's Mast and I received an Honorable Discharge and a Good Conduct medal. Not bad for a liberal!

The 1994 Winter Olympics in Lillehammer, Norway was memorable for the drama surrounding Tonya Harding and Nancy Kerrigan. I hated, absolutely HATED Tonya Harding. My parents didn't like Nancy Kerrigan. They thought she was too stuck up, and she was. The foreign press wrote negatively about the "American soap opera" and even though Kerrigan skated a flawless program, the Olympic judges gave the gold medal to Oksana Baiul of the Ukraine, who cried her eyes out like someone she loved died. It was probably a smart move, though. My favorite moment of those Olympics was seeing Tonya Harding interrupt her skating routine to tell the judges that her skating laces were undone. She had a look of ugly on her face and it was just as well. Karmic retribution for what she tried to do (having her husband Jeff Gillooly club Nancy Kerrigan in the legs at the Olympic trials). Tonya Harding is from Portland, Oregon and at Lloyd Center Mall is a skating ring where Tonya learned to skate. She's representative of the redneck part of Portland. We're not all young, urban hipsters here.

At the discussion group I attend twice a month, we discussed the Olympics. I told the group that the Olympics were good for Atlanta but Atlanta was not good for the Olympics. Even now, I still wonder how Atlanta managed to win the games. Athens was the favored to win based on 1996 being the 100th anniversary of the modern Olympic games. But Athens wasn't ready for it. They were barely ready for the 2004 Olympics. Also bidding that year was Toronto, Canada; Manchester, England; and Melbourne, Australia. I thought both Toronto and Melbourne had a pretty good case to make for hosting the Olympics, though Melbourne had hosted before in the 1950s. It worked out better that Sydney got a chance to host in 2000 (which I consider to be the best Olympic Games ever). Since the U.S. last hosted the Summer games in 1984, it was Canada's turn. However, there were many Canadians who did not want the games in Toronto since Canadian taxpayers were still paying for the Montreal Games two decades later.

When my family moved to Atlanta in 1988, there were the Olympic bid logos all over the city. I thought it was amusing that Atlanta wanted the Olympics. When you look at which cities have hosted the Olympics, it has all been the most majestic cities, where tourists actually travel to see. London. Paris. Amsterdam. Rome. Athens. Tokyo. Munich. Berlin. Atlanta wasn't even a Top 10 American city in terms of population. When I lived in Europe in the early 1990s and Europeans asked where I was from, no one had ever heard of Atlanta. As far as U.S. cities go, San Francisco had never hosted the Olympics and is probably the best American city for it, since there would be so many picturesque places to hold events. Boston would be another great city. In 1988, the population of the metro area of Atlanta (including the city and the many suburbs surrounding the city) was 1.5 million. In 1996, the population was 3 million. When I left in 2006, the population of the metro area was 4.6 million. I liked it better when metro Atlanta was 1.5 million. The impact of the three million new residents were felt in the areas surrounding Atlanta. Traffic became worse. Much worse.

But in 1990, when the International Olympic Committee announced their choice for the 1996 Olympics, I did not go to the gathering at Underground Atlanta because I expected that Athens would win, simply because of the 100th Anniversary. I did not think that Atlanta had a chance. Even if there was an upset, I thought Australia would get it because of their plea to bring the Olympics back to their continent. When the International Olympic Committee announced Atlanta as the winner, it was a huge morale boost. Who would have thought it? All day, everywhere I went, people were happy and you could feel the positive energy. It was a great day. A great moment. Because of Atlanta's hosting duties, though, it influenced me to get out of the Navy early. Had it not been for the Olympics in Atlanta, I would have extended my enlistment to experience the 6 month deployment of my last ship on it's second voyage to the Mediterranean, Red Sea and Persian Gulf. Had Athens or Melbourne or Toronto hosted the 1996 Olympics, I probably would not have returned to Atlanta after getting out of the Navy, either. I would've stayed in Virginia to attend Old Dominion University in Norfolk and then seeking to transfer to the University of Virginia in Charlottesville. Interesting how something like this could change the course of my life.

When the Olympics come to your town, you definitely want to stay and experience it. I was shocked to hear a lot of people in Atlanta wanting to leave town when the Olympics came. That was absurd. The world is coming to Atlanta and you want to leave? The world never comes to Atlanta! Stay and enjoy. Though there were problems with the level of greed and the number of people selling T-shirts and Olympic pins, and overpricing bottles of water and Coca-Cola. Mayor Bill Campbell's sleaziness in handling the Olympics also contributed to his corruption trial and prison term. Atlanta did a poor job designing the Olympic Cauldron (an ugly looking thing that has not grown better with age) and with the mascot. They did get the Olympic logo right, though. It was a brilliant design of an Olympic torch featuring '100' as part of a Greek pillar / column. It was a nice touch. The best Olympic logo ever!

What really gave the Olympics a black eye was a bomb that went off in Centennial Olympic Park. It really sucks that one person could cause such damage to Atlanta's reputation in the eyes of the world. Pressure to find the culprit before the international media packed up and went home actually ruined a guy's life. The investigation centered on a security guard who had found a suspicious bag and reported it. The FBI thought he was an example of someone who desired fame and being thought a hero that he planted the bomb and reported it. The media scrutiny into his life (he was in his 40s and still lived with his mom) basically made his life hell. I believe he died a few years ago and its sad when I think about how the media's desire to find a culprit scapegoated a man who did everything he was supposed to do. The real bomber was a right wing anti-government radical named Eric Rudolph. He wouldn't be caught for years and actually had anti-government sympathizers supporting his life on the run before he was caught, about 10 years after the Atlanta Olympic Games.

In spite of the mishaps, being able to attend quite a few events at the Olympics in my home city has been one of the great moments in my life. I doubt that I will ever live in a city that gets to host the Olympics, and I'm not expecting to have the chance to attend an Olympics again, but I really enjoyed the summer of 1996. It was one of the great moments in my life.

America tried to win the 2012 Olympic Games with New York City, but it was an awful choice. New York City is far too compact and congested as it is, not to mention a dirty, grimy city. Holding a Summer Olympics in New York City would disrupt the daily routine of millions of people who live and work on three different islands (Manhattan, Staten, and Long Islands). It would be a freaking nightmare. So glad that London beat out New York City. Then for 2016, Chicago wanted to host the Olympics and even Mayor Daley got President Obama to do some personal schmoozing with the International Olympic Committee in order to "bring home the games". When the IOC picked Rio de Janeiro, conservatives such as Rush Limbaugh gloated that the U.S. lost the bid because the world "hates Obama", which was such a huge lie. The reason why Chicago lost the bid was because South America has never hosted an Olympic Games before and they were long overdue. Rio de Janeiro is the perfect city to play host to the Olympic Games. It has pizzazz and razzle-dazzle like you wouldn't believe. The city is about as telegenic as a city can get. It's going to be a gorgeous Olympics for sure. Also, in the history of the modern Olympic Games, America has hosted four Summer Olympics, which I believe is more than any other country. Two of those happened to be within our lifetime. So, try again in another decade. Both Canada and Mexico are due Olympic hosting duties when it's our continent's turn (according to the IOC, the five Olympic rings on its flag represent the continents, with North and South America as one ring).

I know that there are people who say, why have an Olympics, considering the costs and the security and the challenges. Why? Because the world needs moments of inspiration, to see what humans are capable of achieving when focused on their best. Records still keep getting broken. How often does the world get to come together and take a break from the various political, military, and economic differences and just be united in the spirit of sport? The Olympics are one of the greatest things about believe alive on planet earth. Never underestimate the effect of inspiration on the imaginations of humans, no matter where they happen to live. So let the games begin!

Thursday, July 26, 2012

The Bain of Romney's Existence

Rush Limbaugh is either stupid or he's desperately trying to connect pop culture to politics for the purposes of spreading his propagandistic bullshit. The latest involves a villain from the Batman comic books, known as Bane. From what I read, Bane was introduced in the Batman comic books sometime in the early 1990s. I stopped buying comic books in 1991, when I joined the Navy. I bought and read mostly the three or four Spider-man titles and the three or four Batman titles. Those two were my favorite comic book heroes (interesting that the summer of 2012 gave movie goers a new Amazing Spider-man movie and the conclusion to the best Batman series). So, I missed Bane's introduction and development in the comic books.

My first introduction to the Bane character was in 1997's Batman and Robin movie (which I actually liked when I first saw it and still like after recently watching it earlier this summer). I thought Bane came across as a retard. All brawn, no brains. That's no kind of villain. Instead, he served as Poison Ivy's henchman. He did the heavy lifting while she concocted the schemes. In The Dark Knight Rises, Bane appears as one of the most menacing villains to ever terrify the screen. His scary looking mask, hulking body, and deep voice is enough to scare me out of my seat. He was so terrifying that even Selena Kyle couldn't hide the fear in her eyes when she tried to leave Gotham City.

So Rush in his strange way of trying to connect liberal conspiracies, claimed that the new Batman film is a liberal plot to go after Mitt Romney. He seems to think that movie goers will be affected subliminally by connecting the terror of the Bane villain in the film with the villainy of Bain Capital Investments that was the creation of Mitt Romney. Let's get real, though. When Bane appeared in the comic books, no one knew about Bain Capital Investments nor about Mitt Romney. Who knew that he would run for president some day?

Romney gained national attention when he was brought in to head the Salt Lake Olympic Committee after the bribery scandal made the international news. He was able to clean up the image and restore confidence in the committee and in the Winter Olympics that were held in Salt Lake City in 2002. Then, he moved back to Massachusetts to run for governor, where he served from January 2003 until January 2007. In January 2007, he launched his bid to run for president and he hasn't stopped.

The reason why Bain Capital Industries has come under scrutiny is because Romney has pushed his executive experience as the reason why he would make a great president. He claims that his experience as the CEO of Bain Capital Industries and as governor of Massachusetts will help him make decisions as Commander-in-Chief, especially in turning our economy around. And yet, Bain got its wealth by buying companies and cannibalizing it by selling off the assets in a piece by piece manner. This makes Romney the real life equivalent of the character played by Richard Gere in 1990s hit film Pretty Woman (hey Rush...check into that conspiracy! Hollywood knew in 1990). In the movie, however, a Hollywood hooker manages to humanize the corporate capitalist raider, to the point where he decides to build ships with the new company he bought, rather than tear it apart. If only Ann Romney could have served the same role for Mitt.

Romney's tenure at Bain Capital Industries, though, makes him unsuitable for the presidency. I believe Romney understands this, which is why he has been backtracking. He claims to have "retroactively retired" to 1998, even though he signed documents that were filed with the government, indicating that he was the CEO and primary stockholder of Bain Capital Industries through 2002. If he lied to the Security and Exchange Commission, there's only one place Romney deserves to go and it's not the White House. More like The Big House (Sing-Sing Prison, anyone?). What could have happened between 1998 and 2002 that Romney does not want to take responsibility for? Well, that's the period of time when Bain bankrupted companies and shipped jobs overseas. This means that under Romney's leadership, he was a job EXPORTER. He did not create jobs in America for Americans. He essentially put Americans out of work and dependent on government for unemployment insurance and food stamps. In my opinion, this deceit should automatically disqualify Mitt Romney from the presidency. That he could be so blatant in his lies and expect to lead the country? How can we trust him with the lives of our troops and with our tax monies if he is willing to lie and disown his record as CEO of Bain Capital Industries?

Rush may be stretching to connect the two Banes / Bains, but I know one thing is for certain: The Bane terrorist in the new Batman film pales in comparison to the real terror that Bain Capital Industries has wrought on the lives of real Americans with careers and a pension fund. What Romney managed to do with Bain should scare every American who cares about our country. Romney will do to us what he did to all those companies that Bain bought and bankrupted for profit. America can't afford this kind of "vulture capitalism". This makes Romney an even worse candidate for president than George W. Bush (whose leadership of three companies led to bankruptcy).

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

A Final Facebook Debate With Anti-Government Aaron

On 20 July, I managed to get anti-government Aaron to leave the church's Facebook page because he could not tolerate having his views challenge. He had posted on the church's Facebook page a picture of Kurt Cobain with the quote (as seen above, though a different photo). The quote is: "I am not gay, although I wish I were, just to piss off homophobes." This is one of Kurt Cobain's most famous quotes. Some people did ask Aaron why he posted it on the church's Facebook page since it had nothing to do with our church. Aaron claims that it does.

I was one who went hard in my criticism. I mentioned that Cobain had substance abuse, a dysfunctional marriage with Courtney Love, and even though they had a daughter together, he took his own life at age 27, leaving his very young daughter to grow up without a father. Nothing from his life is an example worth following nor does his values represent anything what the Community of Christ is about. When I pointed all this out, Aaron got defensive and said that he posted it because of the quote. He also accused me of being overly critical of everyone except myself (not true. It might only feel that way to Aaron because he is my nemesis).

I think posted a sarcastic comment along the lines of: "Yeah, wishing to be something you're not just so you can make people you don't like get angry is what our church teaches. Not!" Cobain's quote is stupid when you think about it. Why wish to be something you're not just to cause a reaction in someone else? No one should base their lives on how someone else might react. Just be who you are and not worry about someone else.

Here are the last few comments made, including by a lady who can't tolerate disagreements among people. And let me tell you, it is always women who get offended by the tone of arguments and leave. They don't seem to understand that men can and do have these kind of conversations with each other and it doesn't really affect our psyche very much. In fact, awhile ago, someone on Facebook posted an interesting meme that I find true: "Men say mean things to each other but don't mean it while women say nice things to each other but don't mean it."

In Aaron's final comment, he proved once and for all exactly why he gets banned from many online webboards. He always claims an innocence, but his casual use of the f-bomb is a big clue. Also, he always claims to argue only using facts and logic. He claims never to resort to ad hominem attacks. Of course, I always knew that he was a liar engaging in self-deceit. If it took a debate about Kurt Cobain to get rid of him, well good! Good riddance, anti-government Aaron. I hope the FBI come after you for all your anti-government rants and delusional views.

Me:
I don't know what Aaron's point was in posting about Kurt Cobain on here. Cobain is no great example of how to live one's life.

Aaron:
Nicholas, did you click on the link?

I posted it because of what the picture said. I couldn't care less who it was that said it. I think it is worth sharing. If you don't think it has anything to do with the Community of Christ, then quit bumping it back to the top of the page.

Aaron:‎
"Cobain is no great example of how to live one's life." [quoting what I had written]

If I ever notice myself becoming more like you, Nicholas, I'll kill myself too.

Jennifer:
I really think its time for me to make my exit from this group. Seems that people here really can't have a civil discussion without jumping on the others throat. This is not for me! Thanks for the memories people...its been real! Bye-bye..Those that love to jump on each others throats deserves each other!

Aaron:
What a judgmental little fuck face you are, Nicholas. Go back to your hole and finish jacking off at a medium pace with a shampoo bottle up your ass

Fuck religion. I'm out, too.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Another De-friending on Facebook

Sunday evening, a Facebook "friend" de-friended (I use "de-friend" instead of "un-friend") me after I had posted a comment. I actually don't know this person personally, so it wasn't that big of a deal. In fact, he had friend requested me after liking some comments I made on a mutual friend's wall some time ago. I don't make friend requests of people I don't know personally, but I will accept friend requests from people I don't know if I like their views or feel we have something in common (I generally accept all friend requests by people who belong to the Community of Christ because chances are likely that we know people in common and / or we'll likely meet at a church event eventually).

This person had posted a picture of Elizabeth Warren, who is running for the U.S. Senate seat in Massachusetts, once held by Senator Ted Kennedy until he passed away in 2009. The replacement, Scott Brown won in a special election in January 2010 with teabagger support, shocking the Democrats. However, I wasn't shocked. Politics aside, Brown is a likable guy with a compelling personal narrative (read his autobiography) and he's not an ideologue. In fact, as Senator, he has been rather moderate and some of his votes have disappointed his Republican supporters, including the teabaggers who were hoping for another brainless ideologue who votes hardcore rightwing. His opponent was Martha Coakley, who ran like she expected a coronation. Brown engaged in what is called "retail politics" (going out to meet the voters and shaking hands, kissing babies, eating some crappy food to show that he's one of the people, and most impressive of all...adding many tens of thousands of miles on his older model pick-up truck). Coakley was seen as an out-of-touch liberal while Brown came off as a man of the people.

When he won, I wrote a post on my blog that the Republican Party has finally found a potential presidential candidate who would appeal to liberals and independents. He is certainly the most likable Republican politician EVER. I hope that Republican Party politics won't ruin him, the way it has obviously ruined the moderate Mitt Romney (who has backtracked on so many of his previous views and policy achievements that no one can trust him anymore, liberal or conservative). Scott Brown has all the qualities that make for a successful Presidential candidate. His biography / personal narrative is the stuff of American legend (a true Horatio Alger story of a man who rose from humble roots to the highest office in the land).

In order to win back the seat that the Kennedy family has held since John F. Kennedy won in 1952, Democrats have recruited a star candidate, Elizabeth Warren who is well known for her battles against Wall Street on behalf of consumer rights and the Middle Class. She is a great candidate...but in my personal opinion, I don't think Senator Brown has done anything terrible that warrants ending his political career after two years in the Senate. If I lived in Massachusetts, I would be voting for Scott Brown. Yes, I am a liberal and I am a Democrat...but I'm also not an ideologue and most importantly, I support individuals that I like, rather than the party. However, because the Republican Party has so few politicians that I like, it's easy for me to support Democratic candidates (unless they happen to be scumbags like my former Congressman David Wu). I would like to see Brown continue in the Senate and see if he might run for the Republican nomination for president in 2016 or 2020. If he loses this Senate race, what will he do next? Run for Governor, perhaps?

I think a lot of the Democratic excitement behind Elizabeth Warren is that electing her to the Senate now will put her in the running for the presidential contest in 2016, which will become even more important if Hillary Clinton decides not to run. The 2008 campaign left a lot of Democratic women disappointed that their dream of seeing a woman president has been deferred again. In 2016, we could possibly see candidacies of Hillary Clinton, Kathleen Sebelius, Elizabeth Warren, Christine Gregoire, and perhaps even Janet Napolitano. No one has Hillary's star power, though. Warren would be the best bet if Hillary doesn't run, but only if she's running after having proven herself able to win an election to political office. Personally, my dream first female presidential candidates are too old (Senators Diane Feinstein and Barbara Boxer), so I will be supporting Governor Martin O'Malley of Maryland, who will have 16 years of executive experience if he decides to run.

Anyhow, I had commented on the Facebook "friend's" wall that I wish Elizabeth Warren could be our Senator in Oregon, but while I like her background, I don't see any reason why Scott Brown should be voted out of office. It did not take long after posting that comment when I got a personal message from the guy saying, "Sorry, but I'm going to have to un-friend you." I was stunned. He had posted so many photos with a political message that I shared on my wall and I often made comments on his posts that he "liked". Despite all this, because he disagreed with my opinion regarding Senator Brown, he has to "de-friend" me? Wow. Now who's being the unreasonable ideologue! How is he any better than the ideologues on the right that he criticizes? In my experience, ideologues (regardless of political views) are all the same: the conformity to one's viewpoint is more important to them than the other person's personality or overall compatibility.

This is so opposite to me. Because I am of mixed-race heritage and have been in more conservative environments (military dependent, U.S. Navy, BYU, and Boy Scouts), I had to learn to base my friendships on commonalities rather than exclude people for differences. This resulted in my ability to be friends with conservatives and Republicans. In fact, I would say that many of my closest friendships have been with people far more conservative than me. I see this as a good, because knowing myself, I could easily become a radical liberal who goes around de-friending people who don't agree with me. I know that friendships with people who hold different views actually keeps my ego in check. People who only want friendships with people who share their political or religious views tend to be egotistical or have fragile belief systems that need validation from others.

After the de-friending, the liberal Warren supporter actually posted that he had to end his friendship with me. Here's what he wrote on his wall:

"I had to let a friend go when he told me this and I was really surprised ... Geez, we're losing so many smart women at the state and federal level too, but I guess with Browns GQ Style that was his clincher. Anyway, I very, very, rarely if ever talk about people here but when he said BYU, I guess I could have responded a little more professionally ... but, the President's Re-election is too important !! Not to have friends who are something there not."
His grammar is a bit bizarre, so I don't understand what he's talking about. Particularly with this phrase: "...but when he said BYU, I guess I could have responded a little more professionally..."

I did not mention BYU at all, so I have no idea what he meant by that. I do have on my profile that I attended BYU, which I'm aware that people who don't know me might think that I am a Mormon or a conservative Republican...but that's their ignorance. It baffles me that one could see what I've posted on my Facebook wall on a regular basis and still think I'm some fake liberal...that I might be some secret conservative Republican trying to con people! Uh, really?!?

Also, if he read any of my posts on Facebook, he would know that I am supporting Obama to the point of donating money to his campaign. I am voting for Obama. No one needs to doubt me there. I generally don't vote Republican for major offices. I only have voted Republican in the past when I hated my Democratic member of Congress (that would be Cynthia McKinney from 1996 to 2002). Then he ended with "Not to have friends who are something they are not." (I correct his grammar here). What the hell does that mean, anyway? Something I am not?!? Just because I like Senator Scott Brown, I'm somehow faking that I'm a Democrat?

You know why I like Scott Brown? Because he makes me laugh. I've seen him in several interviews and his victory speech and one thing is clear: his sense of humour is the same as mine. It's a bit on the goofy side and tends to get him in trouble with women. Also, he reminds me of the officers that I served with in the Navy whom I liked and would trust with my life. Most of the officers I knew in the Navy were Republican. But even back then, I knew how to distinguish between the Republicans who valued facts and personal accountability versus the ideologues who pride themselves on being ignorant and view intelligence as a sign of an "elitist."

I posted the de-friending on my wall just to see what kind of reaction I would get. Those who clicked the "like" button or left comments seemed to agree with me. Only one lady seemed to take issue with me for liking Senator Scott Brown, going so far as to try to convince me that I don't know the truth about Brown. Ah well. I don't think she will de-friend me, because she's a fellow church member and we've actually met. Plus, I love her and her husband. They have an amazing love story that I wish I could find for myself. In fact, she's the kind of lady I hope to find in a wife. We'll just have to disagree about Brown. When I like a person, I tend to always like a person, no matter what. I may be disappointed (as I was upon learning that the politician I admired the most since 1990 had decided to divorce his wife and then news revealed that he might have had an inappropriate relationship with a massage therapist during a stay in a Portland hotel in 2006. Yep, that would be former Vice President Al Gore), but my loyalty gene is difficult to turn off or circumvent. I do plan to donate some money to Scott Brown's reelection campaign. He deserves a full term to represent all of Massachusetts, not just the lefty liberal ideological wing.

Interestingly enough, this is probably the 5th liberal who has de-friended me. Similar to the others, they questioned that I was really a liberal Democrat. One person de-friended me because I would not support his campaign for president. He's a liberal who became disappointed in Obama and instead of getting angry all the time, decided to launch a campaign for president. His posts were bizarre. I couldn't tell if he was mentally ill or if he was joking (ideologues tend not to have a sense of humour, though). He seemed like he really believed that he had a chance at the presidency but all he offered were opinions, not solutions. Plus, if you are really running for president on Facebook, why would you "de-friend" anyone?!? I'm sure that both Barack Obama and Mitt Romney's list of friends on Facebook include those who have no intention of voting for them. I'm one of Mitt Romney's Facebook "friends" just so I can see what he (or his political aide assigned the Facebook duty) posts. In fact, this "liking" of Romney caused someone on my list to question my liberal Democratic loyalties and led to my de-friending. Also, there was another guy who de-friended me because he thought I was making a "racist" statement when I said that Republicans in Georgia did not even support Herman Cain to be their Senator, so why would Republicans want Cain for president? If he's not good enough for a lower political office, why do they think people would want him for the highest political office?

What these de-friending episodes teach me is that ideologues of any time don't like someone like me. Actually, I've known this for a long time. Ideologues and I have never gotten along since high school and the Navy. I prefer moderation in all things and it is a good path to follow. The Ancient Greeks wrote about "The Golden Mean" and the Buddha spoke of "The Middle Way." Most of my political battles have been with conservative ideologues, but occasionally, a liberal ideologue will remind me that even among liberals, there are closed-minded people who base friendships on conformity to their ego's point of view rather than allowing friendship the freedom to be who the person naturally is. I would say that one of my best friends Nathan is the most conservative of my friends...yet despite our disagreements on politics and spirituality, I would never dream of ending my friendship with him. He has one of the best personalities I've ever met and he never fails to say the very thing that can get a laugh out of me, even if I'm sad or angry. I wish more people would realize the value in having friends who believe differently. It keeps life interesting.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Music Video Monday: Siouxsie and the Banshees



For this week's music video, I decided to feature a video clip that utilizes the song "Face to Face" by Siouxsie and the Banshees, which was the theme song of Batman Returns. It is the best theme song for a comic book hero film. It has an intriguing beat, kind of on the dark side and was memorably featured in the film when Bruce Wayne and Selina Kyle dance at a costumed ball and kiss under the mistletoe.

In the new The Dark Knight Rises, Bruce Wayne and Selina Kyle dance at a costumed ball but there is no theme song for any of the films in this trilogy. Sometimes, I wonder if director Christopher Nolan made some scenes to be reflective of the original film series. I loved all the moments between Bruce Wayne and Selina Kyle and between Batman and Catwoman. I also liked what Selina Kyle told Bruce Wayne about a storm coming and that the wealthy will meet their justice, finally. Everything she said in that scene is something I would love to see happen in real life. However, Selina Kyle / Catwoman is an interesting character who is not entirely trustworthy. She'll make and then break alliances, based on what's best for her in any given moment.

In Batman Returns, I wish that the film was strictly between Catwoman and Batman, or if Burton needed another villain to play her off of, then making the Penguin a corrupt, Nixon-esque politician would have been much better than the freakshow that made the movie much darker than it needed to be. In the new film, Catwoman is perfectly utilized as she walks the fine line between Bruce Wayne / Batman and Bane.

Hopefully this week, we can return to Mitt Romney and his refusal to release his tax forms and to clarify his time at Bain Capital Investments. The media needs not let him off the hook. He's hiding some damaging information and it needs to see the light of day.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

What Makes a True Fan?

On Facebook, a friend mentioned going to see The Amazing Spider-man and this caused an unintentional debate when a young lady named Nicole got all defensive and nasty in her comments towards me. According to Krista, Nicole is 18 years old, so she saw the first Spider-man film in 2002 as an 8 year old, which would leave a huge impression on her. I understand that. However, I don't understand her negative reaction to people who disagree with her that Hollywood should not have made a new film, or her view that only one actor could play Peter Parker. What kind of little fascist is that? To me, her arguments show a person who does not know how to have a conversation without getting defensive and even threatening violence towards me because I don't agree with her. She seems to think the entire Spider-man character begins and ends with Tobey Maguire! The character was created in 1961 and there was a film planned for the late 1980s or early 1990s. The technology wasn't there, yet, to pull off such a film, so they were wise to wait until the 2000s.

I find it annoying, though, when people put their limitations on a movie character or film. It's like their own egos have to control everything. Only Tobey Maguire can play Peter Parker?!? He didn't even resemble the Peter Parker of the comic books. Personally, I think Andrew Garfield was a far better choice and he did a fantastic job in the role. But when they are making a new Spider-man film twenty or thirty years from now, they'll have a new actor in the role. That's just the way it goes. People are just too crazy in their "ownership" of characters that aren't even theirs. For example, all the fans who claim that George Lucas "ruined" the Star Wars or Indiana Jones films for them because they didn't like the prequels or the fourth Indiana Jones movie. Get over it. He didn't make the movie for you. He made it for himself and you're just lucky to get to share in it.

Anyhow, can some young girl whose only exposure to Spider-man is the Tobey Maguire trilogy be considered a real fan? Especially if she considers the new series illegitimate and has not read a single comic book? Let's be real. She's a fan of Tobey Maguire. She probably developed a little girl crush on him when he kissed Mary Jane upside down in the rain. That's what she's really a fan about. As her comments show, she couldn't care less about the comic books (which is predominately a boy's interest anyway). Hopefully, she'll learn to control her anger issues before she gets into the adult world. The sooner she learns that Hollywood doesn't revolve around her, the better off she'll be.

Here's how the dialogue devolved (FYI, Krista and Terri are sisters, Nicole is their niece)...

Krista:
Saw the Amazing Spiderman tonight, Loved it! :) I think it was better than the other Spiderman 1 movie.

Terri:
I enjoyed it but didnt think it was as good as The Avengers. And it lost a little of it's punch because it was a remake of a movie that isn't really that old...

Me:
It's not a remake. That's like saying that "Batman Begins" is a remake of "Batman." For comic book fans, stories get told and retold, renewed, and reinterpreted, based on the writer / artist / director's ideas.

I thought Andrew Garfield was a better reflection of the Peter Parker of the comic books than Tobey Maguire was. Also, "The Amazing Spider-man" was more faithful to the comic book than the Tobey Maguire trilogy.


Krista...was the theater empty? I imagine that you're one of the few that saw "The Amazing Spider-man" on the opening weekend of "The Dark Knight Rises."

Terri:
It is a remake in the sense that it follows the story of how he became spiderman, the death of his uncle, etc etc... I enjoyed it. I just didn't enjoy it as much as I would have if there hadn't been a spiderman trilogy that was only about 10 years old.

Me:
A remake is "The Preacher's Wife" (from "A Bishop's Wife") or the new "Footloose."

Nicole:

somehow i agree with aunt Terri. Though I haven't seen it, I've been told from multiple people that if I enjoyed the first movie from the trilogy I wouldn't enjoy this movie as much as I could.

Krista:
It was a pretty sparsely populated theatre, yeah. I'm going to see the Batman movie next weekend. They weren't checking bags at this theatre... made me a little nervous when someone came in with a full backpack on his back. What kind of idiot would do that this weekend?!

I liked the first movie of the original trilogy but maybe I was just in the right mood for this one... it seemed a little less contrived in some ways? Not sure...


Me:
Nicole, that just means you're not really a fan of Spider-man. Liking one movie doesn't mean you won't like another movie. When Christopher Nolan came out with "Batman Begins" in 2005, no one accused him of "remaking" Tim Burton's "Batman." They are completely different movies and visions. People who read comic books understand the different interpretations, because story lines are constantly recycled / refreshed.

Nicole:
hey hey whoa back down. I don't need to be bashed for having an opinion on a movie I HAVEN'T SEEN YET! I'm just saying that's what I've heard from people who have seen it.
I don't know you and I don't give a crap what you think about me. Don't judge when you don't know.


Nicole:
You Have officially pissed me off

Nicole:
Spiderman is a favored movie of mine, I loved the trilogy but there can only truly be one actor for spiderman and maybe that's because I'm young but hey, it's still MY opinion. Deal with it.

Me:
I'm not "bashing" you. I'm just saying that liking one Spider-man movie doesn't mean that you'll automatically not like the new one. They are completely different movies. That's all.

Nicole:
They are obviously not completely different if they have MANY similarities and are BOTH about spiderman. And I never said I wouldn't like the new one, I was SAYING i had not yet seen it and that is what I had heard!

Me:
Did you know that there are at least 4 different "Spider-man" comic book titles? Each title has its own set of writers and artists. There are similarities and differences. If you have an insecurity problem then don't go see "Spider-man." No one's making you. No one is saying that you can't enjoy the original trilogy. You need to not get so defensive. All I was saying is that the new one is not a remake. "Footloose" was a remake.

Nicole:
I did not once mention footloose in my post and I was agreeing with my aunt. And no, I did not grow up where comics were popular so I don't CARE.
And how does an 'insecurity' problem have anything to do with the movie? Now you're just throwing low blows.
I never said anyone said I couldn't enjoy the original trilogy, I was SAYING that I had heard that I may not like the new one as much as the original.
Again, I wonder, do you know how to read...


Nicole:
And remake or not there was no need to make a new spiderman movie so soon after the original trilogy. That's also where I agree with my aunt. It takes the...excitement out of it, as it were. Same story, subtle differences, different "writers and artists" and so forth. But in general the same story.

Nicole:
Maybe I'll enjoy it, maybe I won't. But as I said before, I have NOT SEEN IT YET.

Krista:
I agree that it seems like they made it a bit early after the previous one. There are plenty of other super heroes they could've made movies about. Wonder Woman for instance.

Nicole:
A wonder woman movie would be splendid. But as things go I wouldn't pay to go see another spiderman movie. Lol.

Krista:
Well it's definitely worth seeing. Hopefully it'll come in Netflix so you can watch it. Gotta give it a chance :) I thought Tobey McGuire did a really good job too, but I liked the guy who did this one. He has a goofy smile :)

Me:
Nicole, I don't know why you're having such an emotional reaction to what I'm saying. I pointed out that "Footloose" was a remake in response to Terri calling "The Amazing Spider-man" a remake. "Footloose" is a remake because it followed the same storyline as the original with the same characters. Just because both "Spider-man" and "The Amazing Spider-man" feature the origins does not make the new one a "remake." In order for it to be a remake, the storylines has to be the same and the characters the same. This new trilogy is going to focus on Peter Parker's parents and why they disappeared. I don't remember how they explained Parker's parents in the first trilogy.

Me:
Saying that there can "only" be one actor to play Peter Parker / Spider-man is silly. Obviously, Andrew Garfield proved otherwise. He's far better as Peter Parker.

Nicole:
THat's also your opinion, everything I've posted has been an opinion of mine so really you didn't need to argue with me in the first place.

Krista:
Nicholas, everyone thinks that their "first" of something if they really like it will always be the best.

Nicole:
I prefer Peter Parker as I grew up with him as Spider man. End of story.

Nicole:
And saying that I'm not a true fan just because of my opinions was a low blow and quite a stupid one at that. What's it to be a true fan? Wearing spidey underwear? I can be a true fan in my own way and have my own opinions.

Me:
Krista, people who have an open mind don't get so hung up on things, though. I just prefer a good movie. Tobey Maguire was a poor choice and did not reflect Peter Parker of the comic books. He did a good job, but I believe Andrew nailed the role.

Krista:
It's not a matter of getting hung up on it. Movies and books cause emotional/visceral reactions.. if they're good... that's what they're _supposed_ to do. IMO there will never be a better Star Trek than Original Trek... Does that mean the acting was the best? Probably not, special effects? Probably not, but it was the First.

Nicole:
...I'm thinking of quite a few rude things to say to you, but I will not.
Saying I'm not open minded? IT's an opinion for heavens sake! Who cares!
Oh help me you better hope you never meet me.


Nicole:
Once and only once will I state this. You don't know me. Don't tell me who I am.

Nicole:
Everything you have said is your opinion but when you turn your opinions around to try and make mine seem wrong, that's pathetic.

Me:
Nicole, I never claimed to know you and based on your behavior here, I'm glad that I don't. I was addressing Terri and Krista in my posts rather than you. I guess if you think movies must be the way you want them to be, you'll soon face a lot of disappointment when you go to the movies.

Nicole:
Yup, cuz that's exactly what I meant and/or said. Movies are the way they are made and I can like them or not, or there can be a middle point.
And I agree, based on YOUR behavior, you'd better be glad you don't know me. Someone would have to hold me back from smacking you up side the face.


Nicole:
Be that you were addressing them you were talking about the things I have said or things you think about what I have said.

Nicole:
Which, when you THINK about it, is quite an immature thing to do.

Me:
Besides, Hollywood didn't think it was too soon for a new "Spider-man" trilogy because they see money-making opportunity and considering how much money it has made so far, it sounds like they know what they are doing. If people really didn't want to see a new "Spider-man" film, they wouldn't have gone to see it in theaters. It'll be interesting to see how long the "Batman" legend will lay dormant before someone else decides to offer their interpretation for the story / character.

Krista:
In any case... I think they made this movie because in the comics there was more than one origin story / series. Sometimes they do that.. remake an entire series from the beginning. Sometimes they have to if they want to shift them to modern times for instance. So both are worth seeing, though they do have some strong similarities on certain plot points.

Terri:
The real reason they redid it is because they want to tie Spiderman into the avengers and Toby Maguire is probably getting too old to play a youmg geeky teenager.;)

Nicholas I think you are taking the whole thing way too seriously. Its JUST a movie. I enjoyed it and thought he did a good job. But ...it didn't have the same impact as the first trilogy maybe because we're so used to the special effects now whereas 10 years ago it had more of an impact.


Me:
He's only supposed to be young and geeky in the first film. In the comic books, he's a photographer for the Daily Bugle and is married to Mary Jane. He did not know Mary Jane in high school. His high school girlfriend was Gwen Stacy. The new film gets all that right. Also, he had to make his own web slinger stuff. It did not just shoot out of his body. The success of the first film did usher in the age of comic book hero movies. Some were good, but a lot weren't. With the conclusion of the Batman trilogy, it looks like Superman is getting revived again and hopefully they'll do a better job with it than "Superman Returns."

Nicole:
If he says one more condescending thing i swear i will not be held accountable for my actions -.-
just shut up already, you made your point now stop arguing.


Nicole:
Oh god just drop it. For those of us who have not read the comics its a great trilogy. End of story.

Me:
Nicole...please see someone about your anger issues. I get it that you love Tobey Maguire and that his trilogy is what you're a fan of. But the Spider-man legend was created in 1961 and there are millions of fans besides you. Don't see the new film if you don't want to. No one cares. For those of us who do like Spider-man, regardless of the actor who plays him, the new movie is great. I was disappointed in the first Maguire film and I waited since the late 1980s to see a Spider-man movie on the big screen. For me, "The Amazing Spider-man" was the Spider-man movie I had been waiting more than 25 years to see.

Friday, July 20, 2012

A Dark Night In Denver

Thursday night, select movie theaters around the country offered fans a showing of the Christopher Nolan Dark Knight trilogy, culminating in the premiere of The Dark Knight Rises at one minute after midnight. Had I still lived downtown, I might have done this, because I lived within walking distance to a movie theater. Where I live now, there is no way, since the film ended after public transit stopped running and I had to work on Friday and the movie is close to 3 hours long. I know at least one person who attended the trilogy showing.

In the morning, the news reported on a shooting incident at one unfortunate multiplex in Aurora, Colorado, a suburb to the east of Denver. One young man dressed up in heavy gear and started firing at people in the audience twenty minutes into the movie, killing 12 and injuring more than 50 others. A few strange coincidences were also reported. One victim was a lady who had survived a shooting at a shopping mall in Toronto earlier this summer. What are the odds of someone being at two places that turned into a mass shooting scene of terror? She survived one but not the other. It brings to mind the horror film Final Destination (the premise of which, you can't escape death, even when you think you did, watch out!).

The other strange coincidence is that a trailer for an upcoming film, Gangster Squad, is attached to The Dark Knight Rises and features a scene where gangsters open fire on a movie audience from behind the silver screen. Chilling! This isn't the first time that a movie coincides with a real life event. When a sniper in Washington, D.C. was terrorizing people who were getting gasoline for their cars, a film called Phone Booth came out (about a sniper on the loose). Also in December 1997, the film Wag the Dog came out in which a girl with a beret was revealed to be in a sexual relationship with the president. A month later, the Monica Lewinsky scandal broke. Is Hollywood psychic? Or do they have the power to manifest their ideas into reality?

It was tough being at work and wanting to read articles and listen to the news about this latest episode of a massacre. It's also interesting that it happened so close to Littleton, where the Columbine High School massacre shocked America back in the spring of 1999. Of course, it does not take long for a debate to ensue about our gun culture. The NRA is guaranteed to come out with their idiotic statement: "guns don't kill people. People kill people." Duh! But it's much more difficult for a person to commit mass murder with a knife or with a single-shot rifle. Only a semi-automatic gun could produce such an outcome where 12 people are dead and more than 50 are injured. Why does any human being need such a gun? The only purpose for having such a gun is to inflict mass casualties in a short amount of time. When our Constitution was written, our Founders probably did not envision a future in which machine guns existed. They only had rifles that they had to reload after each shot. What would they have thought if semi-automatic machine guns existed when they wrote the Second Amendment?

Despite the massacre, though, I was not letting that prevent me from going to the movies after work to see the concluding film in Christopher Nolan's excellent trilogy.

Thankfully, of the many trailers shown before the film, Gangster Squad was not one of them. I did watch that trailer on YouTube and was shocked by the graphic nature of the movie theater shooting. It definitely would have been in bad taste to show that trailer in theaters now. In fact, I hope that the makers of the movie decide to scrap that scene altogether and shoot an entirely different scene. It's just in bad taste now.

In the new Batman film, which takes place eight years after the events in The Dark Knight, Bruce Wayne has become a crippled recluse while no one has seen Batman after he has been blamed for the murder of Harvey Dent. The heroism of Dent is played up to the hilt, even when Commissioner Gordon doesn't want to play that game. Things appear to be going well for Gotham, as criminals have been locked up under the new Dent Act. The city is safer, but as Selina Kyle told Bruce Wayne in a later scene, "a storm is coming."

I was impressed with every scene in which Anne Hathaway appears. She does a fantastic job as Selina Kyle / The Catwoman. The scene above is reminiscent of the Bruce Wayne / Selina Kyle scene in Tim Burton's Batman Returns, when they both share a dance at a costumed ball. The dynamic between Bruce Wayne / Selina Kyle and Batman / Catwoman is intriguing and I'm glad that this was introduced in the film. In one scene, Selina Kyle shows just how terrified she is of Bane, the main villain for this go-round. You can see the fear in her eyes.

And she has much reason to fear, as Bane represents the most terrifying villain I've ever seen on film. Not only is he massive in his build, but the mask he wears over his mouth to help him breathe and his deep, bone-chilling voice is enough to make any person pee in their pants if they find themselves face to face with this menace. I would not want to be anywhere in this guy's presence. He is the embodiment of true evil. This version of Bane is enough to make anyone forget about the retarded version in Joel Schumacher's Batman and Robin. That Bane was a complete moron who followed Poison Ivy around like a puppy dog.

There are allusions to the 1% versus the 99% (Occupy Gotham, anyone?), about the corruption of wealth versus the anarchy created when Bane and his followers take control of Gotham under threat of a nuclear device. There is also references to hell and being stuck in it, versus escaping it to live out your destiny.

Joseph Gordon-Levitt is a nice addition to the cast, who plays an earnest police officer who still believes in Batman. My favourite line in the film is when Commissioner Gordon tells him: "You're a detective now, which means that you learn that there are no coincidences." He proves to be one of the true heroes in this dark tale.

I thought it was interesting the number of actors from Nolan's previous film Inception: Besides Gordon-Levitt, there's Tom Hardy as Bane, and Marion Cotillard as Bruce Wayne's love interest. Oh, and the guy who played Dr. Jonathan Crane in the first film in the trilogy is also back.

While the film is good, I still think Batman Begins was the best of the three. The trilogy is a little too dark for my tastes, but definitely a grown up version of the comic book hero. If I was a parent, I'm not sure I would bring children to see this trilogy. The plot is a lot more complex and there's not as much action as a teenager might prefer. Thus, the Burton and Schumacher Batman films are more geared towards children, which is why I prefer the realism of the Nolan trilogy. But in a film with such a menacing villain as Bane should have offered some lighter moments to balance the mood. Selina Kyle was a welcome distraction throughout the film, but not enough.

Nevertheless, it's a good conclusion to an amazing trilogy. It's unfortunate that the opening was marred by the senseless violence of a crazed lunatic. It saddens me that lives were lost over what should have been a joyous occasion for fans. The trilogy presents the nature of fear and how it is used to manipulate and control people. When we shy away from what we want to do because of fear, then fear wins. Hopefully, what happened in Aurora doesn't cause people to decide not to go see a movie they might've wanted to see. We must continue to live our lives and not let our fears get the best of us. Let's rise above the senseless violence.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

SynchroTrickster Strikes Again!

In my ongoing series of critiquing the personal ads on Craigslist, on July 1st, I actually saw an intelligent, well-written ad, so I responded and actually heard back from the lady the next morning. I was stunned and continued to get stunned as we emailed several times a day for the past two weeks. Each email revealed more and more things in common and I became more confident that the woman who wrote the following ad had all the traits I've been looking for in a woman I'd like to be in a relationship-leading-to-marriage with.

I use a "four pillar" criteria in determining compatibility. We have to hit all four points, or it's likely not going to work out. The "compatibility pillars" are:

(1) Spiritual - which means no atheists or conservative religions. I need to be with a woman who, if she doesn't share my interest in New Age Spirituality or membership in the Community of Christ, then she has to at least be open minded that I am passionate about my spirituality. I will not pressure or try to influence a lady to share my interests, and I won't tolerate any attempts to try and get me to join some spiritual group I'm not interested in (this would include Wicca, along with the conservative religions we all know about, or even the hardcore scientific-atheist worldview).

(2) Political - I actually have no problem dating a Republican if she is not an ideologue or a teabagger. Again, open-mindedness to different ideas is important, and a love of factual history (and not propaganda history as favoured by the likes of Sarah Palin and Michele Bachmann). But preferably, I'd rather date / marry a lady who is liberal / progressive / Democratic / independent / Green. It'll just make life easier, because I'd have a difficult time respecting a lady who believed anything Glenn Beck said or watched Fox News.

(3) Personal - How do we "click"? Do our personalities mesh well? Would we make compatible friends? Do I feel comfortable around her? Does her intelligence intrigue me?

And finally, but not necessarily importantly, (4) Physical - Are we physically attracted to one another? My preference tends to be racially mixed, ethnic, and / or foreign. I prefer women smaller than me and am repulsed by obesity (sorry if this offends anyone, but the thought of seeing any obese lady naked makes me want to vomit). My physical ideal is French actress Audrey Tautou. She is so adorably cute that she could get me to do anything for her. Whenever I see one of her movies, I get to experience the fantasy / illusion of love for awhile. She just lights up the screen and I would really love for some Audrey lookalike to walk into my life (if I can't meet the real one, I'll be happy with her doppleganger. We all supposedly have one or a few lookalikes running around the planet. I know because several people have told me that they've met someone who looks, acts, and talks like me...which is a scary thought!).

So, it's hard to find all four qualities. In the past 15 years, I've only had the opportunity to meet, get to know, and fall hard for just three ladies who hit the compatible four pillars. I really thought I found a potential keeper in the lady who wrote the following ad. We agreed to meet on Saturday afternoon at a little indy cafe in SE Portland called "Space Monkey Coffee." It was Bastille Day and I was hoping for fireworks.

Smart, Sexy and Down to Earth

Date: 2012-06-30, 3:10PM

I'm looking for an intelligent partner (35ish-46ish) with a fantastic sense of humor. Someone who is supportive w/out being patronizing or domineering. Who is comfortable with who he is w/out being arrogant. Someone with enough of the same interests that we can enjoy doing together. But with different interests that we are comfortable doing w/out the other. Someone with whom I can laugh, explore, grow and change.

No-no's are smoking, excessive drinking, any drugs (even 420), major self-esteem issues, chronic unemployment, heavy religion, Republicans and/or devotees of Fox News too. Also include any history of infidelity. . .or voting for Bush. *shudder* I'm a liberal, what can I say? I need to be able to respect the person I'm with :)

A microcosm of all that is me is below. There is much more to know...

I'm a divorced, white female. 5"6", 120lbs, dark blonde hair, hazel eyes (with glasses). I'm an only-parent of one kiddo. I have a BA in science and am gainfully employed. Successful even. I donate to charities. I volunteer, I'm smart, confident, sexy, down-to-earth and warm-hearted. Just like my title suggests :)

I like being healthy and stay fit with yoga, pilates, walking, gardening, etc. I have a quiet energy that is active yet also happy with lazy weekend mornings reading, watching TV and/or playing video games.

Still with me? I love learning and exploring new locales (near and far), ideas and activities. Although my interests have a firm basis in geek- and nerd-dom, they vary widely depending on what's sparking my interest at the time. I've read about cooking, history, culture, language, etc. NPR provides much of my non-sci-fi/fan reading ideas.

I absolutely don't deal in drama. Things happen in life. I deal, I learn, I move on. I don't carry baggage but perhaps a little more wisdom and a little less naivete...

Random facts about me:
- According to Myers Briggs, I have an INTJ ("scientist") personality type, one of only about 1% of women,. As one description puts it: "INTJ are bewilderingly deep and intelligent people, bringing a lot of sense, stability and insight into any romantic relationship". Hey, they said it, not me ;)

- I use emoticons waaay too much. I habit I'm (obviously unsuccessfully) trying to break...

- I have lived overseas.

- Last movie seen in the theater was Avengers...on Mother's Day.

- Some favorite shows are The Daily Show, Colbert Report, Doctor Who, and Community. I won't say no to Mythbusters either...

- My last airplane trip was to Kauai over Thanksgiving. Loved it! Extremely beautiful there. Definitely want to go back.

- I'm always on the hunt for new recipes to try. I have an incredible rustic bread recipe. First time I made it, I understood what they meant in Ratatouille about the "sound of bread".

- I have a belly ring. You'll have to be really, really nice before you can see it. No ink...but I've thought about it. Haven't seen a design I've liked enough yet.

After a 90 minute conversation, I walked away disappointed and frustrated. There were a few things about the conversation that bothered me, but I couldn't figure out what until I had reached the bus stop several blocks away. Then it hit me like Eureka! In all our emails and during the entire conversation, she did not ask what college I went to. She didn't ask much about my family, either. And based on answers to some of my questions, she showed a consistent pattern to me: she's not a very curious person. In fact, even though the conversation was pleasant, overall, I thought she was boring. In her ad, she makes herself try to sound interesting, but in actual conversation, she was cagey about some questions and rather evasive. For someone who claims to be "well traveled", she could not or would not tell me about any of her travel experiences or memories. She was either "too young" or she "couldn't remember." She lived most of her life overseas, due to a mother who worked for the United Nations. I committed a major goof and felt like an ass when I asked if her mother still worked for the U.N. She then, with some pain apparent on her face, informed me that her mother had died in the 1990s. Yikes. Boy, did I feel like an ass.

Earlier, when I asked about her parents, she said, "I didn't think we'd be talking about our parents." Ouch! Really? Is that topic really off-limits? I don't talk or ask about finances, sex, or past relationships. A decade ago, when I asked my date about what kind of music she listened to, she got evasive and didn't want to tell me. I was shocked. It stuns me what some people consider "too personal" to talk about. For example, one co-worker at That Place That Shall Not Be Named who was interested in me, she said it was none of my business when I asked her why she wanted to join the Peace Corps or why she had three cats. But she was quite open with me about her not having sex in two years, her desire to be a dominatrix, and her selling of marijuana on the side to make extra money. Okay!

This lady that I met for a chai latte on Bastille Day did tell me an interesting thing about her son. She seemed concerned that he is a "little capitalist" who loves playing Monopoly. She said that she hopes to steer him in a different career direction. I told her that it might not be possible, that it might be better to encourage him to pursue his interest and try to influence a more ethical and generous approach to capitalism. She asked if I was more of a nature guy in the "nurture vs. nature" debate. I didn't want to get into it, though, because my beliefs might be too much to reveal, especially when she claims that her son is an atheist. I didn't tell her this, but I believe that children are not clean slates on which parents can impose their dreams upon. Children are eternal souls who came into human life to fulfill their own life's mission and interests. The best thing a parent can do is to identify the talents and interests early on and encourage them in the pursuit of their natural talent, rather than wasting time trying to steer them in directions they might not be interested in at all. This lady believes that children naturally rebel against their parents. Well, maybe in adolescence, but I think when they are still in the single digits, they aren't that rebellious. They just have a will of their own. Anyhow, when she talked about how she hopes to mold him in the right direction, I got the sense that she's probably not on the same spiritual wavelength as I am. Which is okay, since there's no future happening between us.

I had hoped that with all that we had in common in the email exchange that she would be the soul that had agreed to meet me at this time and place. It would take a "soul recognition" to confirm that and because I have experience with "soul recognition" with at least 5 friends of mine, I knew what it would feel like if we both recognized each other. However, I had arrived at the cafe an hour early due to not knowing how long it would take by bus and walking from the stop to the cafe. I saw a lady come in, order a chai, glance at me, and walked outside to sit on a chair and wait. Since she had sent a picture of her, I knew what she looked like and went outside and asked if she was waiting for me. There was no soul recognition upon meeting her. We are just two humans who have some things in common, but no click, no chemistry, no connection, no fireworks.

In her ad, she claimed to be "sexy" but I failed to see it. She was rather average. An Olive Oyl-type. I can't believe she thinks she's sexy. French women are sexy. Italian women are sexy. She is so not sexy! But, as I learned when I met Jenet a dozen years ago...I did not find Jenet physically attractive at first (many people find her beautiful and she is, but just not the type that I find beautiful for me), but when she was introduced to me and she opened her mouth and intelligent words poured out, I was smitten with her at the start. Because of that experience, I know that a lady's actual looks matter less to me than personality and intelligence. If that came out in my meeting with this lady on Saturday, I might have found her to be attractive / beautiful, but instead, she was rather plain and failed to engage my intellect in a way that would make me go wow. Yudelka, Jenet, and Christine were the three ladies who really captured my heart because of things they said that engaged my mind in a way that made me find them attractive and, yes, sexy.

Saturday evening, I mulled over what I might say to her in an email. I was willing to go on a couple more dates to see if things might change and she might do or say something that intrigues me enough to give her a chance. But, on Sunday afternoon, I received an email from her and she confirmed the doubts I felt after I left the cafe on Saturday. She didn't feel a romantic connection either, so that's that. A mutual lack of attraction. Definitely not a potential soul mate situation. More like the Trickster striking again...pumping up my hopes with all the similarities between us (including a love of Johnny Clegg's music), only to dash it with a cold splash of reality. So much for using the Universal Law of Attraction to manifest my dream lady into my life. Back to my Law of Attraction notebook. As Esther Hicks might say, this date only clarified even further what I'm looking for in a mate: CURIOSITY is an important trait to me. I'd be bored with a woman who lacked it. Christine taught me that kindness was an attractive quality to me (because she was incredibly kind and one of the things I loved most about her). Jenet taught me that I can see past a person's physical looks if she is not "my ideal" because personality and intelligence make up a huge portion of what is beautiful to me. And Yudelka taught me that race matters little. When I was with her, I never saw a woman with darker skin ("cinnamon tan" is what she called it). I saw an intelligent, beautiful woman that I wanted to spend my time with. So, here's to a better manifestation before summer ends!

After I received her email, I decided to check Craigslist to see if she posted a new ad. She certainly did...a mere three hours after our date ended. She changed the wording, but its definitely hers. Interestingly, she's an inch shorter after meeting me. Yikes! Was I that bad? When I think about all the dates I've been on, where a question of mine that I don't think is offensive gets a defensive or evasive response, I end up thinking that I'm far too open and casual. I don't like being guarded, like I'm interviewing for a job. I prefer to be real and honest so we don't waste each another's time with emotional games and pretenses. Here's to the continued search. This time, I'm going to pay for a month on Match.com and try my luck there.

Here's the lady's revised ad. I can't believe she's still using "well-traveled" and "sexy" to describe herself. I think she seriously needs to clean her mirror as well as learn how to share some of her travel experiences / memories with a guy. It's a disappointment when someone misrepresents themselves in an ad. Oh well. I hope she finds the man she's looking for.

Intelligent and Passionate

Date: 2012-07-14, 5:40PM

Do you long for weekend mornings listening to Wait, Wait on the radio and cuddling? Spending afternoons exploring new locales or browsing Powell's? Maybe driving the Fruit Loop? Or simply enjoying each other's company while catching up on episodes of the Daily Show?

Do you read something interesting in the news and wish you had someone intimate to share it with? Do you enjoy the small moments in life spent with a partner? Perhaps cooking or filling our a crossword together? Is a bookish, intelligent, well-traveled, sexy woman your type?

A little about me: 5'5", 120 lbs, dark blonde hair, divorced mom, gainfully employed, home-owner. Compassionate, introspective, independent, generally optimistic (although the Bush years were rough). I don't smoke, drink or do drugs.

You: 35-46ish. No smoking, drugs or excessive drinking. Employed.

To find out more, drop me a line!
And...she posted yet another ad on Monday! She's serious about finding a guy, I guess.

Lunch Downtown on Thurs? - 37 (Downtown PDX)
Date: 2012-07-16, 1:12PM PDT

Weather looks to be more or less decent this week. Anyone who works downtown Portland (or can easily get there) want to meet for lunch this Thursday (7/19)? Around 11:30 at the Salmon St Springs? Time and location is slightly negotiable depending on our relative schedules and location.

A little about me: 5'5", 120 lbs, dark blonde, hazel eyes, home owner, reserved yet friendly, good conversationalist. I have a BA and a professional career. I don't smoke drink or do drugs. Non-religious - I'm not going to proselytize, I promise!

You: single, around 35-46, employed, don't engage in smoking, drugs or excessive drinking, not excessively religious. . .

If you're interested in meeting up, drop me an email telling me about yourself. Please attach a pic.

If you need a starting point of what to say in your email here are some ideas to get you started:

Bush or Obama?
Some favorite books/movies/TV shows?
Some favorite Portland hangouts?
Places you've air- traveled to?
Favorite day trip?
Some favorite weekend activities? Besides the obvious. . .you're a guy, I get it ;)

Have fun!