September 14, 2014

  • “Atlas Shrugged III: Who Is John Galt?”

    I was surprised, and delighted, to find that “Atlas Shrugged, Part III:  Who Is John Galt?” was an immensely enjoyable film.

    For me, that is, and any other Ayn Rand-head, a term I’ve coined to represent anyone taken with the life and works of author-philosopher Ayn Rand, a controversial person if there ever was one. 

    But for viewers who have not read her magnum opus, “Atlas Shrugged,” the film is a yawner that you would be well-advised to skip.  Pity, because the film has a message worth being heard.  But that message is complicated.  In this horribly polarized world we’re living in, it’s hard to reconcile the liberal-conservative dichotomy.  If solutions were easy, we wouldn’t be dichotomized in the first place.  So there’s no point in arguing economics or politics in this blog entry.  The purpose here is simply to report that the critics, who are unanimously panning AS, Part III, are, due to their bias, completely wrong.  The film is well-written, well-acted, well-photographed, well-scored.  Not at all like the critics say.

    But as we all know, haters gonna hate.  Ayn Rand was a hater, too.  Of Karl Marx.  And of communism.  And of the slogan, “From each, according to his ability; to each, according to his needs.”  And, although I call myself a liberal these days, that doesn’t mean I’m in favor of over-regulation and governmental red tape and all the other things that conservatives hate.

    On the other hand, I found myself grinning and agreeing and being charmed and amused to see Rand’s heroes and villains being brought to life on the silver screen.  Laura Regan was just as perfect a Dagny Taggart as Taylor Schlling was in Part I, and Kristoffer Polaha was an equally perfect depiction of John Galt.  All of Rand’s characters are larger than life, romanticized and one-dimensional, and that makes her easy to criticize.  But that’s what Rand was, a romanticist.  As passionate a one as has ever lived.

    And I was also pleased with the performances of the villains — particularly Peter Mackenzie as Mr. Thompson and Tony Denison as Cuffy Meigs. 

    Now for the flaws.  Yes there were some, which the Rand-haters were eager to jump on.  There was the silliness of the antepenultimate torture scenes that forced the viewer to think of John Galt as a modern-day Jesus Christ being crucified.  And the whole ending was kind of weak, reflecting the puniness of the small budget the film makers had to work with in the first place.  And it was somewhat annoying to see an obligatory reference to the Cherryl Taggart character.  I’m speaking of the poor shopgirl who married villainous James Taggart (played ably by Greg Germann of “Ally McBeal” fame).  Cherryl had been rescued from poverty by the pompous brother of Dagny, and was deluded enough to think first that James was the good guy and Dagny was the bad one, but then she realized the truth and that whole subplot and subcharacter proved to be one of the most touching parts of the original novel.  So apparently it was decided to satisfy us Rand-heads by throwing her story into the movie, but they spent a whole 30 seconds on it, succeeding only in confusing whatever non-Rand-heads might be in the audience.  Pointless. 

    But it’s also pointless to harp on the flaws, because if you’re a Rand-head, you’ll love the film.  If you’re either neutral or a Rand-hater, you’ll be either confused or bored or both.

September 13, 2014

  • I’ll Be Seeing “Atlas Shrugged, Part 3″ Today

    Atlas Shrugged, Part 3

    Sorry I’m too cheap to pay Xanga another fifty bucks for graphic privileges, but I’m still annoyed that my “lifetime premium” was canceled.   I’d love to make the type bigger, but it appears I no longer have that capability.  But thank you, Xanga, for allowing me to continue to post.

    On to “Atlas Shrugged.”  Steve Almond has written a wonderful piece at salon.com — here’s the site:

     

    http://www.salon.com/2014/09/11/sean_hannity_and_glenn_beck_in_a_bizarre_ayn_rand_fever_dream/

    (Sorry, I’m having trouble showing that address to where you can highlight it and paste it into your browser.  It really is worth reading.  Maybe you can google Steve Almond/Salon, or something like that, and find it that way.)

     

    Yes, I’m sure it’s going to be awful, but I have to see it.  I know the story backwards and forwards, but when you have a favorite book — and “Atlas Shrugged” is mine — you just want to see the characters brought to life on the big screen.  

    Too bad the production values, which were bad to begin with (Part 1 of the trilogy) and have gotten steadily worse.  Too bad they didn’t find a way to let Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie do the pic.  It wouldabeen great.  I have no doubt of that.  

    But alas.  We have what we have.  I’m fairly sure, the only way to enjoy Part 3 is to go back to my age 20′s-30′s mindset and pretend again that I am a Ronald Reagan Republican.  I even once used to listen to Rush Limbaugh spout his nonsense.  Damn the welfare queens who milk the system out of dough by having babies and demanding they be supported by the guvvamint.

    I can do it.  I can pretend I agree with Paul Ryan.  And I intend to enjoy “Atlas Shrugged, Part 3,” whose official title, I believe, is “Atlas Shrugged:  Who is John Galt” but I’m too lazy to look it up.

    Barbara and I are going to drive 30 miles south later today (the movie’s not playing yet in Vero Beach and I’m afraid it’s so bad that no theater will want to book it after this week) but I’m not going to twist her arm to sit through the flic with me.  The multiplex is also offering “Chef” and “The 100-Foot Journey,” both of which are reported to be excellent, but I think Barbara’s already seen them without me.  Unfortunately, most of the other offerings seem like sci-fi junk that Barbara won’t like.  I think her best bet is to resee one of the two good films that are showing.  

     

     

     

August 24, 2014

  • Rest in Peace, Jean Redpath

    I don’t know how many of you remember Jean Redpath, the singer of Scottish folk songs who passed away three days ago at the age of 77.  Go to YouTube and type in her name and listen to just about anything.  And don’t miss her duet with Garrison Keillor, singing about tuna casseroles.

August 23, 2014

  • The Wisdom of Carl Sagan

    The Wisdom of Carl Sagan

    http://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Carl_Sagan

    I seem to have lost the ability to create hyperlinks.  Is it because I haven’t paid Xanga any money since June 2013?  Oh, well.

    Here’s what’s been happening lately.  Life, as usual, has been busy and fun.  Spare time has always been a problem, but now it’s a bigger problem because circumstances have forced me to move from a 4-day workweek to 5, but I refuse to stop being interested in attending concerts and lectures and watching golf tournaments and football games on TV and paying attention to Barbara, my five dogs, and a billion other things.

    Including:  following the news.

    And doing crossword puzzles.  Like, for example, today’s amazing New York Times puzzle that first made me want to say:  why should I spend a ridiculous amount of time trying to figure out the gimmick when all I need to do is go to the Times crossword blog for the hint that I need?  Which is what I did.

    And speaking of word games, there’s a new Scrabble dictionary out, and it’s a very long-term project assimilating the new words onto my word list.

    Anyway.  Back to the Tmes puzzle.  The one entry that puzzled me the most was the answer SETI to the clue, “Program that asks ‘Are we  aloe?,’ for short.”  Obviously, there needs to be an n in the word “aloe” for the clue to make any sense, and that was the gimmick.  The answers to 17A, 32A, 46A, and 62A were, respectively:  “EACH CLUE IN,” “THE PUZZLE,” “IS MISSING,” and “THELETTERN.”

    And now it turns out that instead of being an impossible puzzle to solve, it’s actually fairly easy.  Some of the clues/answers are still very tricky, but find what word in the definition is missing one or more n’s, and go from there.

    And now back to the wisdom of Carl Sagan.  I looked up SETI and found out it stands for “Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence,” listened to a charming interview of SETI founder Jill Tarter, an astronomer/cosmologist whom I fell in love with after listening to her for 30 seconds, then drifted over to the Wikipedia entry for Carl Sagan, and found a page of Sagan quotes that I’d love to share with my Xanga readers, so just go to http://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Carl_Sagan and enjoy!

August 12, 2014

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    Robin Williams
    1951-2014

    Sorry I haven’t posted in so long.  Supremely busy, as always.

    Barbara (who first met Robin Williams when they were high school students in Detroit) and I were shocked at the news yesterday.

    Here is A. O. Scott’s remembrance, which may or may not ever appear in my national edition of the New York Times.

     

    (Link not working yet.  Maybe I’ll try again later.)

     

June 26, 2014

  • Atlas Shrugged

    A LINK for later

    ***********************

    I think for myself.  I always have.  Well, at least since the age of 7, when I remember clearly how strongly I objected to being told by a close relative that I believed in the same religious crap that he did.

    I doubted then, and still do, in the existence of a Supreme Being who “created” the universe in which we live.  I’m perfectly willing to coexist with people who have faith in this or that.  To me, “God” means “good” and somewhere along the way the letter O got dropped from the inside.  And “good” is another way of expressing the power of love, and I even once sincerely answered yes to the minister’s question, “Do you consider yourself religious?”  Because being “religious,” to me, is believing in the power of love. 

    The minister in this case was the settled minister at the Unitarian Universalist congregation to which I’ve belonged for the past 23 years.  A healthy percentage of us UUs share thoughts similar to mine.  But we all of us think for ourselves.  That’s what defines us. 

    So anyway, it’s not particularly hard to understand why one of the things I love about Ayn Rand is her rabid atheism.  I’m NOT an atheist, per se, because as I suggested near the beginning, all I have are doubts.  I’m not QUITE a pure agnostic, because I’m not persuaded that God, if he or she exists, can never be known.  That’s how I think agnosticism is defined:  a lack of belief in God because God is unknowable.  But I’m close.  I just say, God is PROBABLY unknowable.  If he or she exists. 

    I’m even less a believer in Christianity, however you want to define that branch of human thought or belief.

    Now let’s move from religion to politics.  I fell in love with Ayn Rand’s books when I was 19 years old, and my first presidential vote was for Barry Goldwater.  After that I voted for Richard Nixon twice, followed by votes for Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan (twice), Michael Dukakis, Bill Clinton (twice), Ralph Nader, and Barack Obama (twice).  Most of my fellow UUs are confirmed Democrats, and I’m a member of that party only because I joined in 2008 to help get Obama nominated.  (We have closed primaries in Florida.) 

    But I still love Ayn Rand, even though she was a scummy human being and her philosophy and politics were borderline demented.  Not that I’m happy being “Atlas Shrugged” bedfellows with the likes of Ron Paul, Sean Hannity, and Glenn Beck.  I’ll see Part 3 of “Atlas Shrugged:  the movie” because I loved loved loved that book.  As for John Aglioloro, while I’m grateful he went to the trouble to purchase the rights and get the movie to the big screen, I deplore his lack of professionalism when it came to producing the movie.  Part 1 was pretty good.  It got horrible reviews because of political differences between Objectivism and the liberal press.  Part 2 stunk.  Part 3 will probably stink, but I still feel a need to bear witness.

    I may be inclined to vote Republican someday, but I don’t know when or if.  Currently, that party and all of its members are nobody I want to be associated with.

     

    The article I linked at the top is of moderate interest, so I’m sharing.

June 18, 2014

May 25, 2014

  • May 25 New York Times

    I don’t have that many readers these days, but I’ve seen enough of today’s Sunday New York Times to urge anyone within range of these words:  buy a copy of today’s paper before it disappears from the shelves.  The Sunday Review section alone is worth the price of the paper — and so far I’ve only had time to read all of Page 11 (Maureen Dowd, Thomas Friedman, and Nicholas Kristoff — all three op-eds are awesome) and the lead article (“Faking Cultural Literacy” by Karl Taro Greenfeld, which is a total riot), and a smattering of other articles.

    I’ll publish links to the choice items either later today or later this week.

May 21, 2014

  • One-Hit Wonders

    Thanks for the kind responses to “Testing.”  I bought a new computer and Internet Explorer isn’t working as well as Google Chrome but I can only get to my home page from IE (at the moment), so life is complicated.

     

    Anyway, I’m looking for a song.  Can’t think of title or the singer, but the title was something that had to do with loving a woman whose hair had turned to silver and the singer was some guy known to be a singer of romantic ballads, but he’s not famous.

     

    Anyway, the recording used to be featured on a radio station that plays oldies, but they haven’t played this record in like forever, and in searching I found a website that lists “one-hit wonders” from the 50s and 60s and HERE IS THAT SITE.

    That was actually for the 60s.  HERE’S FOR THE 50′s, starting from 1955.  I don’t know why.

     

    Lots of good stuff there.  Just haven’t found what I’m looking for.  Yet.

May 15, 2014