Friday, May 25, 2012

Reading is Fundamental

Something personal today.  It's my daughter's 13th birthday.  Even though she's a teenager, she will always be my little girl.  Below is one of my favorite memories of reading to her when she was little.  We would read up to three books a night before bed.  Granted, they were short books, but still.  She loved to read.  She still does.  She's an avid reader.  And I like to think I'm a big part of that.  Well, me and Kermit ... 

Happy Birthday, Pookie.  Your daddy loves you!

Saturday, May 19, 2012


There comes a time in a man’s life when he comes to a crossroads.  That moment when the next decision made could dramatically impact his future.  And once the choice is made, there is no going back.  The choice has to be made with careful thought.  One must weigh all the pros and cons and decide if the benefits outweigh the drawbacks.  One must consider the unintended consequences of one's decision as well.  Doing so is the mark of a considerate and thoughtful man.  This potentially life-changing decision should be considered from all viewpoints.  Get input from friends and family.  It's even wise to turn to God or Yahweh or Gozer the Destructor or whatever your faithful bent.  But it is possible to think too much on a decision.  It is said that "analysis leads to paralysis" and then no decision is made at all.  It's hard to make the right decision, but you can make your decision right.  So I find myself at that crossroads in my life.  And after carefully considering my options from every angle, I have decided that, yes, I will have another slice of pie.

Friday, May 11, 2012

The Land of Bad Ideas

Hollywood.  That really should say it all.  But that would be a ridiculously short blog post. But Hollywood is the Land of Bad Ideas.  (I refer you to my previous post.)  I guess ideas for movies are so bad nowadays, that they have to resort to making sequels to movies that are 25 years old.  I'm not really sure how that's a good idea.

Bad Idea #1: TOP GUN 2.

Really?  The first Top Gun was a huge success, despite being a mediocre movie.  It looked great and had an awesome soundtrack.  And Kelly McGillis was hot.  Was.  I'm not saying she'll come back for the sequel, but this is the land of bad ideas after all.  A lot of people have fond memories of Top Gun, and that's all fine.  But that doesn't make it a good movie and that certainly doesn't make it a good enough movie to warrant a sequel 25 years later.  There's a disconnect between what should be done and what is being done. Paramount's new head, Adam Goodman, asks "Why aren't we innovating more?"  And then he greenlights this.  So Tom Cruise is returning as Maverick.  Okay, that's not such a bad idea, if you're the money guys.  Popular title + popular actor = cha-ching!  For about two weeks.  Then when the story turns out to be Maverick returns as a flight instructor who has to take to the skies one more time to rescue the new hot-shot pilot from enemy territory, well everyone's gonna have the same reaction they did to the Footloose remake.  (Another bad idea)  And, c'mon.  How are you going to have a hot, young actor star in Top Gun 2 when Tom Cruise is in it?  Tom Cruise doesn't do cameos or but parts.  Except for Wes Anderson.  And his friggin' amazing role as Les Grossman in Tropic Thunder.  (Please don't make a sequel to that, either.  Or a Les Grossman movie.  I should stop.  I'm giving them more bad ideas.)  And instead of being haunted by the ghost of his dead pilot father in the first movie, is he going to be haunted by the ghost of Goose?  Oh, God, please.  Top Gun 2: The Ghost of Goose.  That I'd see.  But not Top Gun 2: The Iceman Cometh.  Have you seen Val Kilmer?

Bad Idea #2: MIDNIGHT RUN 2

Okay, this one just makes me mad.  Midnight Run was/is the epitome of the mismatched buddy roadtrip movie.  And one of my favorite all-time movies.  If you haven't seen it, you need to.  Seriously.  And then you'll see why a sequel is a bad idea.  But in case it's not self-explanitory, allow me.  It was the first indication that Robert DeNiro was funny.  Or at least that he could do comedy.  He was brilliant because there was an honesty to his character and his performance.  He didn't try to be funny.  He just was. He played it completely straight and that's what made the comedy work.  Unlike the Fockers movies where he was just a spoof of himself.  It kind of worked in Analyze This, but we were all in on the joke.  And so was DeNiro.  But I digress.  Anyway, he's returning for the MR sequel, too.  Not a good idea.  What are the money guys thinking?  Popular actor + largely ignored title when it was in the theaters = WTF?  If they want to make some money, just re-release it in the theaters.  (Just please don't do a 3D conversion!  Another bad idea for probably another blog).  Apparently the plot will be about Jack Walsh (DeNiro) having to rescue or go after Jonathan Mardukis's (the brilliant Charles Grodin) son, who will likely be played by a Jonas brother or something.  How great would it be if Walsh was haunted by the ghost of Grodin's character?  Yes!  Midnight Run 2: The Ghost of Grodin.  Sorry.  Got carried away.  Anyway, what could possibly make this idea any worse? Brett Ratner is attached to direct.  You know, the guy who gave us Tower Heist?  Yeah, that was a bad idea, too.

Friday, May 4, 2012

In Defense of Hayden Christensen

Everyone seems to bash Hayden Christensen's performance as Anakin Skywalker in Episodes II and III of Star Wars.  I admit, for a while, I used to do it, too.  However, I may have to rethink my position on the atrociousness of his acting.

In honor of Star Wars Day today, I watched the original Star Wars, now ridiculously known as Star Wars, Episode IV, A New Hope.  After seeing Mark Hamill's performance as Luke Skywalker and listening to James Earl Jones' voice over work for Darth Vader, I'm now inclined to think that Hayden Christensen is brilliant.  Just ... stick with me on this.

One of the complaints about Christensen's performance is that it was "too over the top."  Vader would never have been such a petulant prick.  Actually, in Episode IV, he was.  He's not the calm, almost Zen, Sith Lord that people remember from Empire and Jedi.  He chokes that rebel dude and then throws him across the room.  He yells - yells - at his subordinates.  "Commander tear this ship apart until you've found those plans!  And bring me the passengers, I want them alive!"  And he barks at Leia.  "You are part of the rebel alliance and a traitor.  TAKE HER AWAY!"  Very much like Hayden's performance in Episode VI.

In the beginning of A New Hope, Luke is a whiny little bitch.  He's kind of whiny throughout the movie, but its especially bad in the beginning.  "But I was going to Toshi station to pick up some power converters!"  "But it's a whole 'nother year!"  "Aw, Biggs is right.  I'm never gonna get out of here!"  Similarly, Hayden Christensen's interpretation of Anakin Skywalker as also rather whiny.  Which leads me to think ... Christensen must have seen Episode IV and thought, "Okay, why is Luke so whiny?  Maybe its a hereditary personality trait.  So I'll make Anakin whiny.  That way, it will show that Luke is Anakin's son."  And then he must have thought, "Why is Vader so angry?  I know.  He's angry because things still haven't worked out for him and his whine has turned to rage.  So I'll play that."

Brilliant.  It's an amazing bridge between the characters to show how Anakin became Vader and how Luke is clearly his offspring.  Hayden Christensen's acting choices are sheer genius.  Until you look at his performances in his other movies and you realize, "No.  He really does suck."