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Family and Friends is my everyday journal. Captain's Log is where I pontificate on religion and politics.

Tuesday, April 08, 2014

Jerusalem in 3D

Went to a viewing at the Natural History I-Max yesterday of the National Geographic 3D movie on Jerusalem. It was fantastic. To view clips and pictures of the movie click here. It's the best look at the three religious cultures in a really small space. I loved the way in the 3D if felt like you were actually walking through a bazaar or a crowded street. The three young girls you followed as they explained their beliefs and family life helped put a human face on what's happening there.  David Fergusson, one of the producers of the film was present for a Q&A afterwards and was very impressive explaining some of the many problems he faced getting this project done. If it shows up in your area by all means go see it in the 3D. Eventually this film will be done in regular mode for schools and television. I've never been a big fan of 3D, but this one changed my mind.

Monday, March 31, 2014

Noah, a review

I think this could be titled Noah, The Man Without a Clue.
As a blockbuster movie I think this ranks about even with John Carter. I happen to like both of them. Okay I admit it, I liked Noah as entertainment, as having first class CG (especially when they showed the planet covered in hurricanes), a decent story and morality play. That said here's my take, drum roll if you will...
Weaknesses:
  • The Watchers are irritating. Come on Transformers in a biblical movie? it's about as bad as the mechanical owl in Clash of the Titans. Deus Ex Machina has to have a purpose and be crucial to the story. These guys are misplaced in time add nothing to the story that couldn't be explained through natural means and are just plain creepy. Hint to script writer and director: fallen angles stay fallen and are called demons. Genesis 6:4 doesn't call the Nephalim fallen angles, they are referred to as son's of God that interbred with women. The Watchers, if the Nephalim is what they represent, would be giants humans not anthropomorphized rocks.
  • Noah never figures anything out on his own. He has a vision, but has to travel to Methuselah for interpretation, and is given a magical seed that when planted grows a whole forest in a matter of seconds. His "failure" (not explaining because it would be a spoiler) gives a good reason for him to drink himself to the point of lying naked on the sand and hints at the Curse of Ham, but it takes his adopted daughter to explain to him why he didn't fail.
  • The constant flashbacks to the serpent and the fruit of the knowledge of good and evil then the silhouette of Cain slaying Able. Once was enough, we got it.
Strengths:
  • The Ark. It ranks up there with the wooden horse in Troy as a realistic construction of that time period. They both broke the mold of all the drawings and pictures of them that the audience is prepared for. It's covered in tar to keep it water tight, nice realistic touch.
  • All the animals hibernating. It answers much speculation over the centuries and I'm sure solved a lot of problems in the story.
  • Jennifer Connelly as Naameh, she should get a role as Russel Crowe's wife more often. She deserves another Oscar.
  • Anthony Hopkins as Methuselah, not much of a stretch from his previous role as Odin, but this time he didn't have to wear an eye patch. He lends credence to any move he's in, I'm biased here.
  • Russel Crowe. I don't think any other actor today could play this role convincingly. He's the master at myopic stoicism.
  • No booming voice of God. They use the creator when speaking of the divine being which may piss off some people, but still gets the point across.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

The Way We Were, flop or a hit?

One of my wife's and my favorite movies. Recently we watched it again, and afterwards we watched the bonus dvd with an interview on the making of the movie.

Sydney Pollack said something that hit me as a writer. He said they had a viewing of the movie on Friday night and it was a flop. The people hated it. He cut two scenes and on Saturday night it was a hit. They showed the first scene cut and I agreed with it because it didn't advance the story. The second scene he cut was brutal, but necessary to make the movie a hit.
If your familiar with the movie ( and I don't have the patience to write a summary) Hubble and Katie get divorced because Hubble sleeps with his past girlfriend (played by Lois Childs)
That's not the original reason for the divorce. The scene that is cut has Katie being named a communist to the House Un-American activities committee by a former boyfriend played by James Woods. Hubble is the writer of a novel being turned into a movie and he would be blacklisted in Hollywood for being married to a communist. Katie divorces him not because he was unfaithful, but to save his career. It was an act of love, not spite.
Pollack said the audience wasn't ready for that kind of ending. It was a bucket of cold water at the end of romantic movie. Forty years later he's been proven right. It's still a big movie and made lots of money.
As a writer he cut the guts out of what the author was trying to get the audience to feel. This was the theme, the message, what he wrote the whole story for in the first place. He intended that bucket of cold water to wake up a complacent public to how witch hunts like congress did back in the 1940's and the senate of the 1950's destroyed people's lives.
After this movie other movies and TV shows were made on the Hollywood blacklist, but none of them had the impact that this movie would have made, but marketing killed.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Print book in hand

I have my first novel back in print. Five copies on hand and more to come. It is still available at amazon.com as an e-book for only .99. Newly revised and updated.
The original version is still available as used book for varying prices.

This is my other book now in print and at amazon.com as an e-book for .99. The first of a trilogy about the impending explosion of Yellowstone.
This tells the tale of the Drake/Eastman dynasty from the 1920's to the 70's
This one's not in print yet, but it is available at amazon.com as an e-book for .99. This is the continuing saga of the Drake/Eastman dynasty getting things ready for when it hits the fan.
Their motto: When it hits the fan you'd better have a plan.









Still working on Fan Plan Countdown it will be out shortly. The third and fourth generation of Drake/Eastman/O'Neals await the day when it hits the fan and the scientific secret police are being prepared to preserve civilization against superstition in the aftermath of the fan.


I'm going to revise Vander's Magic Carpet, Human Sacrifices and a compile a few of my short stories into an anthology. Now I have a printer and I can publish books that sell around ten dollars it will be worth my while to start doing book signings again.

My problem is that while I'm doing all this revising and getting books ready to print it leaves little time to write new stuff and I have got to get busy on the Stephanus, the sequel to Optimus.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Glad things are getting back to normal

Wow the winter Olympics were long. It seemed to me that everything snowboarders were doing also had skiers doing. Thank goodness we didn't have to watch cross country snowboarding. Wife had to watch both the afternoon sessions and evening even late night. Even she agreed to fast forward through an hour and a half of cross country skiing after the first couple of days.
I was a distance runner and cross country has to be the most boring sport in the world if you're not participating in it. It's best for the spectator to watch everyone leave and when they come back, the in between is tedious. The afternoons seemed to be nothing but cross country. There were different lengths of cross country, male and female, then the different lengths of biathlon, male and female, then team etc. How many times can you watch guys crawling crablike up a hill?
Figure skating, downhill, bobsled, luge, speed skating long and short track were much more exciting. Not so big on the half-pipe stuff.
I don't even want to mention the special features on the lives of the athletes. For everyone who made it, there are thousands with just as sad a story who worked just as hard and didn't.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Editing editing editing

Now that I've found a printer to publish my books in ink and paper I have so many of my e-books to edit before sending them off. I finished Optimus Praetorian Guard and e-mailed it to the printer Friday. Fan Plan Preparation is ready and I'm nearly done with Fan Plan Countdown.
Each book costs $50.00 for an ISBN #, plus ten books for around 90 to 100 bucks; so I have to wait until I have that clear in my business account.
Then I'll need to edit Human Sacrifices and Vander's Magic Carpet and get them printed.
With writing the juices are flowing, you get caught up in the story, the characters, you never know which way the stories going to go until the end.
Editing is the most important part, but it's so time consuming and hard to know when you're done and ready to let it fly. E-books easier because if you discover major flaws or typos and grammar problems you re-edit and resubmit. You can't do that with ink and paper so there needs to be much better editing.
The problem with needing to edit this many books, where's the time for the fun stuff, like writing.

Friday, February 14, 2014

The R word

RAPE, there I've said it. This is a hard topic for a man to write or discuss, but it affects everyone.
I'm not an expert psychologist, but recently I've been reading a feminist's blog that I mentioned previously. She has very specific views on the subject and reading the comments so do most of her readers. What they define as rape, is not what most men would consider it to be. I've thought about it for a day or two and thought to add my two cents.
Being male, though I might speak for all of my gender it is my perspective. That caveat added here goes:
The legal concept of rape is when a man physically makes a woman have sex against her will. It is a crime, because it is physically forced, even if there are no signs of harm. A gun, knife or sheer size of the attacker may cause the woman not to struggle, deadly force is considered physical harm.

The women felt that a boyfriend, significant other or spouse gets angry at the woman's "no" frightening her with verbal abuse, sexual rights based on religious beliefs, threatens to leave, pouts for an hour or more, refuses to take out the trash, etc. Men can be rather temperamental when they're in the mood and the woman isn't.
Should the woman though not wanting sex then says, "Yes" giving in to this emotional blackmail in a legal sense this is not rape. Consent was given, this type of duress isn't a factor in a court of law.

Men like the legal concept of rape, and the women say, "Bullshit."

As a man the legal concept is what is thought of should a woman use the word against him. Stop yelling women and let me finish the thought. Just as a woman's reputation can be ruined by a man writing about her on the men's room wall, or derogatory words concerning her sexual experience, if a woman files a legal charge of rape against a man, even if the charges are dropped or he is found not guilty this is a black mark that sticks for life. The number of men released from prison the last ten years because DNA testing exonerated them makes this a valid point.

I know that one in four or five women in their lifetimes will be raped. I know that two thirds or more of all rapes go unreported. I know that the majority of rapes are done by someone the woman knows: family members, friends of the family, boyfriend. Those are only statistics.

I also know first hand what happens to young girls who've been sexually abused. Twenty seven years teaching middle school and high school and you see much more than you ever wanted making your  heart break. When a young girl goes from smiles and being friendly with other students, even giving the teacher a little attitude, then over a weekend she starts dressing like it's winter in 80 degree heat. She comes in alone and leaves alone without saying a word to other students keeping her head down refusing eye contact and fights to hold back tears. You know this young woman, has been scarred for life.
By law observing such signs teachers are required to report this to the councilors, and on a few occasions I did, but usually women teachers were there before me seeing subtle changes in her long before I could tell.

I don't know what the answer is to an age old human problem, but making rape a one size fits all word by women for every time they said yes when they really didn't want to, or felt trapped in a relationship financially or emotionally only causes more confusion on a very serious matter.

I know, I know, I'm a man and just don't get it.