Friday, December 30, 2011

Even Lincoln Had an Editor

This country of ours was founded 87 years ago by a group of men who believed very strongly that freedom was the most important thing for their new nation, and also thought that all men and women were legally considered equal under the law.

During the Civil War in which this country is currently engaged, we’ve been put to the ultimate test of whether or not America can “make it,” so to speak. That battle occurred right here under our very noses. This battlefield is thus being dedicated today to honor those who died here to keep America going. I definitely think that this dedication is a good idea.

But, in a way, we can’t really dedicate this battlefield at all. The fact of the matter is that it’s already been dedicated by the brave men and women who died here, and there’s really nothing we can do to add to or take away from that. Everyone will probably forget today’s ceremony, but they should never forget what our fighting men did on that day. Actually, it’s our job to make sure that they don’t forget it. This is a pretty big job, and we should work even harder to remember all the people who we honor; so we’d better roll up our sleeves and do it, because it would be a terrible tragedy if all of those men died for nothing, and we should make sure that America—where the people have control over the government—remains united for a long, long time to come.

Monday, December 19, 2011

A Review of P.T. Anderson's film, "Punch Drunk Love," from 2002

Directer Paul “P.T.” Thomas Andersons movie Punch Drunk Love is a film that CLEARLY does not even know what it wants to be. He uses Adam Sandler, who is a great comedian that always makes me laugh with such films as Click and Big daddy, so many people that rent or watched this film thought it would be a comedy when it clearly wasn’t. There are not enough funny parts to call this picture a “comedy.” For example, when the brother in law says that he is a dentist is one funny scene. Perhaps “black comedy” is a better way to describe this movie.

But also the movie tries to be a drama, like when Adam Sandlers character is going to Hawaii to find the girl and we don't know if he is going to get her or not. But this suspenseful point is clearly ruined after this, because afterwards Adam Sandlers character finds the girl and the suspense is ruined! Lots of good drama movies have suspense in them (like “The Shawshank Redemption” for instance), as it were, and suspense is clearly a good thing that drama movies can have a lot of. Also more important however, is the importance of good characters in a drama movie, so that the movie can be dramatic and the viewer can understand the deeper meanings of those characters. In Punch Drunk Love, though, the viewer cannot have these same feelings about the characters because they cannot understand them. Adam Sandler’s character Barry, for example, is the best example because his character changes Throughout the movie. At the films start, he is a plunger salesman who wears a blue suit, which is his business, but we don’t even know why he picked up an organ from the street! Then he gets angry and smashes many windows, but the moviegoers don’t understand why. We can’t understand his character at all! I think the reason is because he hates his many sisters, but this is never proven. Then, however, we start to understand his character more when he starts dating his girlfriend (played by the actress Emily Watson; who also played the blind girl in Red Dragon who couldn’t see) but then Barry becomes angry again at the men who beat him up badly with his girlfriend after the Car Accident Scene, and he runs around crazy because he wants revenge on the person that caused the problem in the first place. Clearly this is to many subplots together to understand his character. Also the sex hotline part makes no sense at all.

Because Barry called the phone sex hotline in the early section of the film, Adam Sandler’s character is considered very unlikeable. Clearly, if someone jerks off to some phone sex hotline, because he found it in a magazine, even giving his Social security number to do it, we think that he is a gross person for doing that. But then isn’t he also supposed to be the protagonist of this film? His characterization makes no sense because we clearly can’t like the films main character for the character that he is.

Also there is another story about the pudding, but in my opinion that part is very hard to understand because they explain it only in the early part of the movie and its not clear whats going on. Then later to his friend. I thought this part was interesting at first but later we never see him get the miles that he wants. This was a big Dissappointment because it was the only part of the movie I was interested in and then we can’t see how it ends. Also the cinematography in the supermarket scenes was pretty well done, I thought, and the director put in lots of good cinematography to make the movie more interesting. It reminded me a bit of the cinematography in “Blade Runner”, where the cinematography is very good and eye-catching. It really grabs your attention when you watch it, and you can clearly see that PT Anderson learned a lot about movies from watching Rildey Scotts films.

So, to sum up, Punch Drunk Love is a bad movie that has some points in it that make it good. It’s director should have picked a type of movie to make and made that movie and chose a different protagonist than Sandler to play his character. However, the cinematography is good, so I definitely recommend checking it out for that. Clearly though, you will be bored and confused by this movie, which is obviously not one of Sandlers best. (Some of the colored parts with music in the middle part were very “artistic” with their cinematography though.)

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Inappropriate Conversations

Me: (astounded) How can one guy possibly work the size of his own penis into conversation so frequently?

Brian: It depends. Like, this one time, we all went shooting at the sandpit with these dirty hippies from Maine, and Chase* started talking about how Russian chicks would really like him because he had such a large penis.

Me: What does that even mean? Like, Russian women care more about phallus size than other kinds of women? That sounds pretty racist to me.

Brian: (thinking) Yeah, I guess it does. Anyway, that’s just one example. He mentions it pretty frequently.

The others heartily agree.

Me: But why would someone willingly evoke such a shameless topic? It’s both wholeheartedly foul and ridiculously arrogant.

Chris: What kind of people do you associate with, man? There is a huge proportion of guys out there who not only love to talk about their penis sizes, but love to do it often. It’s a fact of life. If this is news to you, then your friends clearly represent a poor cross-section of society.

Me: (thinking) Well, I do hang out with a lot of well-educated people....

*Not his real name


This conversation raises several issues. The first involves how we should view those who talk about their own penis sizes as an overly positive, or even a defining feature. Is it arrogant to announce one’s size (real or imagined) to others the way one might flaunt a high SAT score or a Gucci handbag? Or does it simply show a lack of concern for tasteful conversation? What should we think of those who, failing to stumble upon a natural opportunity to mention their penis sizes (as such situations, though far from common outside the bedroom, do occur once in a blue moon), go out of their way to create one? On the other hand, are there some people who can naturally discern a link between anything (i.e. dental floss, Roy Orbison music, disrespectful bank tellers, or the proper wording on a restroom sign that requires employees to wash hands before leaving) and their own penises?

The second issue (raised by Chris) is whether I am far enough removed from normal society so as to be unaware of a cultural phenomenon occurring millions of times a day among post-pubescent males. Do guys really talk like that? Does the topic frequently arise at parties where large amounts of Bud Light are consumed and professional sports are commented upon in raucous tones? I've heard similarly uncouth reports of male behavior (“And then he went right to sleep!”) that make me embarrassed to be associated with my own gender. Is there a swarm of other men out there giving us a bad name by exhibiting and—dare I say it?—encouraging such penile discussions?


Tuesday, December 6, 2011

On the Severity of Headaches

I get bad headaches sometimes that impede my ability to do things that I’d like to do, and sometimes I make the mistake of telling people that I’m not sure whether they’re regular headaches or migraine headaches. If my interlocutor is prone to migraines, he or she will often respond belligerently, saying things like, “If you had a migraine, you’d know!” or “It feels like a NASCAR circuit is holding time trials inside your skull!” One of my friends from college suffered migraines that frequently made her vomit and kept her out of class for days at a time, which made it awkward when we wanted to use her roommate’s TV. Other people I know complain of migraines at work, saying that they’d love to stay the entire day—really, they would—but their migraines would make a half day much more manageable. It made me think that there were different levels of migraines, like different levels of earthquakes. But even on this head-pounding Richter scale, where does a regular headache end and a migraine begin? My migraine-suffering friends didn’t like my attempts at clever metaphors very much, though.

Eventually, I learned not to make conversation out of my personal ailments, because there would always be someone else who was worse off than me, and it was best never to get these people started.