Monday, February 27, 2012

Why I Won't Watch "The Artist" No Matter What You Say

Two words for you: Citizen Kane.

The American Film Institute says that CK is the best film ever made. So I watched it. It's not. In fact, CK is one of the worst movies ever made. The story is unintelligible to anyone who isn't privy to the inside jokes between the director and his friends. If I wanted to watch an inside joke I could go to YouTube rather than sit through a couple of hours of mind-numbing garbage.

Which brings me to The Artist. It's a black-and-white silent film released in 2011 staring a Frenchman and it won Best Picture, Best Director and Best Actor at the Academy Awards. That all tells me that it's a movie made by film students, liked by film critics and awarded by other film students. Everyone wants to feel like they're on the inside, so they perpetuate terrible movies for the sake of "art."

Art doesn't have to suck. Citizen Kane sucked, but no one wants to admit it, so they all play along. It's like the revolutionary Jabberwocky Project. Guess what, I'm not falling for it. Not this time. I wasted hours of my life on CK and I won't do the same with The Artist. I know what you're going to say, "But it's so good." "Just give it a try, you'll like it." "All the critics can't be wrong." "But it won so many awards." "It's so well made."

Whatever.

I may run the risk of never seeing a fantastic movie. But did you ever think that you're running the risk of perpetuating a terrible inside joke because you're too afraid to call it what it is?

Think about it.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

[Gambling Metaphor]

You know what they say, "You gotta know when to hold 'em and know when to fold 'em, that is, unless your pot-committed in first position holding pocket rockets."

What? They don't say that? Well, they should.

I'm not sure how much miscellaneous gambling metaphors apply to real life situations, but they're fun to say.

"Don't look a gift horse in the mouth."

"I don't have a dog in this fight." (oh, except for the dog fighting, that's bad and wrong, but the gambling is ok, I guess)

"I'm all in."

"It's my Ace in the hole!"

"Play it close to the vest."

"Deal me in."

"It's time to double-down on ____."

"When the chips are down."

"Cash out."

What other gambling metaphors see daily use? How do you think gambling has had such a significant impact on the English language?

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Weight Loss and Being a Foodie

Memphis style ribs
 My driver's license lists me at 260 pounds. I'm pretty sure I low-balled the number when I went to the DMV because I was embarrassed about what it probably was (I didn't have a scale at the time, so I don't know for sure).

I love food. I adore it. It's delicious and it brings me a lot of joy. I love making food. I love eating food and I especially love sharing the food that I've made and eating it with other people.

But being 6'4" and 260+ isn't healthy. According to the Body Mass Index that's obese. It puts me at a higher risk for heart disease, diabetes, blood clots, cancer and just about every other disease.

But I love food!

Texas style brisket
Since being 260-ish pounds when I got my license in 2008, I've dropped at least 52 pounds (I'm currently at 208). Which, according to the BMI puts me just above a normal weight range (it starts at 205). I've lost 30 of those pounds since September.

I still love food.

The difference is that I don't devour it like I once did. I recently smoked a 5 pound beef brisket (all day long) and then had just two slices of it. Maybe 5-7 ounces. When I was done, I felt satisfied, the food was delicious and I didn't gain any weight the next day.

Smoked pork shoulder
For me, food isn't the enemy, consumption is. I don't need to inhale my food. I need to savor it. A 4 ounce steak can provide me just as much satisfaction as a 16 ounce behemoth. I just eat it more slowly, I relish the experience of the tender, buttery beef nearly melting on my tongue.

I love food, but I won't be a slave to food.

I love food, but I won't be unhealthy when I enjoy it.

Over the next months I'm going to focus on building muscle and getting rid of the last few pounds of fat. Then I'm going to grill up a steak over a hardwood-lump charcoal fire.

Tuesday, February 07, 2012

The Importance of Ideals

Today NPR is reporting that President Obama is promoting Democratic Super PACs to raise money for his upcoming campaign. This is a 180-degree turn from what he's said in the past condemning Super PACs and the Citizen's United decision by the Supreme Court. The logic is, essentially, that they have to keep up with the Republicans, even though they don't like it.

Sorry, but that's not how ideals work. You stick to them, even when it's not popular, even when you might lose, even if it might kill you. If you don't then I have to question the existences of the ideals in the first place. Not long ago I criticized Mitt Romney for saying one thing and then another (about taxes). The same criticism goes to the President today. You can't hide behind the legality of a thing if you think it's wrong.

Fifty years ago it was legal to segregate and deny people the right to vote based on race, but principled people with strong ideals opposed the immoral laws. They faced persecution, pain and even death for their ideals that contradicted the laws. Yet, in the end, they won a great victory in the Civil Rights movement. One of the key markers of that victory is an African-American man in the White House.

Here's the letter I wrote to the President:
Mr. President,
I am incredibly disappointed that you would switch your stance on the use of Super PACs in your campaign. You said yourself that they are detrimental to our democracy, yet, in the face of some negative advertisements you're willing to sacrifice your ideals to win a campaign?
The Super PAC arms race can't be won in the same way that the cold war was won. We will all lose if your campaign reflects the vituperative tone of the Republican primaries.
Four years ago you campaigned on a message of hope and change. Your fund raising mobilized the youth through crowd-sourced tools online. You inspired a nation to imagine a world in which we all have a voice, not just the very wealthy. Please don't make your words of four years ago a lie by aligning yourself with any Super PAC or promoting them in any way.
I know you can't collaborate with them, but you can resoundingly condemn them for what they are - muck-rakers and borderline slanderers.
Please eschew Super PACs, for the sake of your ideals and for the sake of our electoral process.
Sincerely,
James Wood

I also started a petition at the White House website. You can sign it here.  The petition was removed because it doesn't address current government policy. I'll leave the text of it up for your perusal, even though it's not live anymore.

The text of it is:

Condemn Super PACs and refuse to support them in the campaign.
The president said: "I don't think American elections should be bankrolled by America's most powerful interests, or worse, by foreign entities." and that "[Super PACs are] damaging to our democracy."
Yet on February 6, 2012 he and his campaign began to promote Democratic Super PACs to combat the spending of the Republican Super PACs in the upcoming campaign.
We request that the President abide by his ideals and eschew the Super PAC money. He should condemn them be they Republican, Democrat or Independent as they all serve only to drown out the voices of the people.
Please return to the message of hope and change that inspired a nation in 2008. Don't support Super PACs in this campaign.