Money Monster Review

Money Monster

I saw Money Monster with my wife the other week and we both enjoyed it quite a bit.

George Clooney plays Lee Gates, the host of a financial show called Mad Money. Julia Roberts plays his director, Patty.

All seems like it’ll be just another normal day for the show until an armed gunman, played by Jack O’Connell, comes onto the show and threatens to shoot Lee if he doesn’t do what he says.

The gunman pulls out a suicide vest and straps Lee into it. The vest is wirelessly connected to a deadman switch that the gunman, named Kyle, holds in his hand. If Kyle lets go of the switch then the bomb goes off.

While arguing and threatening Kyle explains that he invested his entire savings into a stock named IBIS that Lee previously recommended. The stock has now tanked due to some unknown error.

Lee and Patty work to keep everyone in the studio alive until the police can deal with the situation. Eventually they come to
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Time Lapse Movie Review

Time Lapse

I saw an awesome movie on Netflix called Time Lapse.

The movie was directed by Bradley D King and starred Matt O’Leary as Finn, Danielle Panabaker as Callie, and George Finn as Jasper.

Finn, Callie, and Jasper live at an apartment complex. Finn works maintenance for the apartments and moonlights as an art painter. Callie is Finn’s girlfriend and she assists with collecting rent and other random tasks. Jasper is their sketchy friend who gambles on dog races a lot.

Finn and Callie are called to check on Mr. Bezzerides who is late on his rent. Callie goes over and finds something strange.

The three of them investigate and find out that Mr. B has created a form of time travel.

A gigantic camera is set up at Mr. B’s house, bolted to the floor. The camera is aimed out Mr. B’s window at the living room window of the three friends.

Every day at 8PM the camera spits out a Polaroid, not of the current events in the apartment, but of what will be happening the next day at 8PM in the friends’ living room.

The group also discover that Mr. B is dead. His body is severely burned and slowly decomposing in his locked storage unit. Apparently Mr. Bezzerides was fated to die in one of the Polaroids. He attempted to alter his fate and died because he tried to change time. As Jasper says, “You don’t mess with Time.”

The group decides to cover up Mr. B’s death, claiming he is in the hospital to those who ask.

Jasper uses the camera in a fairly obvious way. 24 hours into the future he holds up a sign with a few winning dog races of the day on it at 8PM. The camera takes a picture and sends the information back in time. Jasper gets the info and then he knows which dogs to bet on. He bets on those dogs, wins a bunch of money, and then holds that sign up to the camera to ensure that he gets the information in the past.

Finn uses the camera to overcome his painter’s block. For weeks he’s been staring at a blank canvas, painting nothing. With the camera he can see the painting he does the next day. Knowing what he is going to paint he no longer experiences writer’s block (Yes, we’re dealing with the type of time travel that violates causality).

Callie doesn’t seem personally get much out of the camera, but she’s happy to have the money that Jasper is making and that Finn is completing his work.

The camera continues to violate causality by showing events that wouldn’t naturally occur. The three main characters feel they must faithfully reenact those events or they will suffer the same fate as Mr. B in his storage room. Conflict ensues as the next day’s events start getting weirder and weirder. I won’t spoil that part of the movie for those who are interested.

I loved Time Lapse. It has all the weird stuff I look for in a movie. It offers a lot of the same stuff that Memento, Sliding Doors, and About Time had. If you enjoyed those movies then you will probably like Time Lapse.

I should warn you that there’s a significant amount of gun violence in the movie and a little bit of sexual content. The violence was enough that my wife didn’t finish watching the movie. Personally, I felt that the conflicts escalated too quickly to a lethal level, but it didn’t significantly detract from the other excellent aspects of the movie.

Overall, I’d definitely recommend Time Lapse. Check it out on Netflix!

-GoCorral

Favorite Books

There’s this thing going around Facebook over the past couple weeks that finally reached me. No, not the Ice Bucket Challenge. I’m talking about a list of your top ten books.

Someone posts on their timeline and tags you in it. The copy and pasted section of the status reads:

“In your status, list 10 books that have stayed with you in some way. Don’t think too hard. They don’t have to be the ‘right’ books or great books of literature, just ones that affected you in some way. Tag 10(ish) friends including me so I can see your list.”

I got tagged by my sister and here is my list:

Hyperion – Dan Simmons
Game of Thrones – George Martin
Lord of the Rings – JRR Tolkein
Shade’s Children – Garth Nix
1984 – George Orwell
Dark Prince – Russell Moon
The Iron Ring – Lloyd Alexander
Nine Princes in Amber – Roger Zelazny
Gates of Fire – Steven Pressfield
Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy – Douglas Adams

Obviously there are a lot of great books that I can think of that I didn’t include on here. Dune and Harry Potter for example.

I felt the list was supposed to be composed somewhat impulsively, so I stuck with what I first thought of.

So why did I pick these?

Hyperion is possibly one of the best space opera novels ever written. Dan Simmons is an excellent writer in nearly every genre. The story follows seven travelers in a space ship on a pilgrimage to the fictional Hyperion planet where a great monster, the Shrike, awaits them. The Shrike will grant a wish to one of the travelers and kill the other six. The travelers spend their voyage telling stories like in The Canterbury Tales (every story where characters sit around and tell stories now officially based off of Canterbury Tales). The stories focus on the travelers’ past lives and why they are going to get a wish. I put Hyperion on this list because it was the first book that made me realize I love fragmented stories. Like in TV shows where there’s an A plot and a B plot. I love that in books as well. Hyperion has three sequels that I’ve read as well, Fall of Hyperion, Endymion, and Rise of Endymion.

Game of Thrones is the latest craze. I got into the series right before book 5 came out and consumed them at a rate of about one book per month. They’re good, they’re sexy, and they’re one of my favorite genres, medieval fantasy. Plus, it has a fragmented story line! Perfect!

Lord of the Rings is also a great book. My dad spent years reading me bits and pieces as bedtime stories. We started with The Hobbit when I was six and didn’t finish until I was eleven. The Lord of the Rings also inspired my favorite hobby, Dungeons and Dragons. So this one’s got too amazing things going for it. AND FRAGMENTED ACTION  ONCE AGAIN!

Shade’s Children was my first dystopia book. It’s fairly awful as far as complex themes go. Some robots from an alternate dimension invade Earth and start hunting humans for sport. The humans hide underground, but their society is kept alive by the robots or something? Sounds like a Matrix ripoff. Still, I loved it. Also, I was eight around the time I read it and there is the barest hint of sex in the book. I’m pretty sure it was my first exposure to sex, so it is significant for that reason as well.

1984 is the quintessential dystopian novel. Also, its by Orwell who is an amazing author. I loved this book and I still love it. I love the genre. Putting Shade’s Children on my list reminded me of 1984 so I put it on as well. Like I said, I didn’t think much about the list.

Dark Prince is probably one of the weirder ones on this list. It is the last book in a trilogy. The first book is called Witch Boy. The author, Russell Moon, has only written one other book. I’m not sure why he stopped writing because his stuff is quite good (or at least I remember it being good). The book tells the story of a teenage boy who suddenly discovers he is a witch and accidentally kills his girlfriend with his newfound magical powers. He then discovers that she was part of some weird witch cult which plans to use him in a plot to take over the world or something. My memory of the book is hazy, but I do remember loving it at the time.

The Iron Ring is a story that imitates Indian fairy tales. My dad read Grimm’s Fairy Tales to me when I was a kid and I loved them.  This was a continuation of that, but in an entirely different way. The stories were vaguely familiar because they used the same themes, plot devices, and stock characters, but they were also very different due to the setting for the story. Rajas instead of kings. Rakshasas instead of the Devil. It was really cool!

Nine Princes in Amber is amazing and everyone should read it. The book is the first in a series of ten books split into two halves of five books. The series details a titanic struggle between order and chaos across all dimensions. The center of order is called Amber. The series is extremely well written. One of my favorite parts is how Zelazny handles sexual or crude stuff in the books. He always alludes, but never mentions stuff explicitly. A character curses instead of “He exclaimed, ‘Shit!'” It’s very well done and I’d recommend it to everyone as long as you don’t require female characters. There aren’t very many of them…

Gates of Fire is a historical novel about the Greek defense of the Hot Gates of Thermopylae from the Persians. The story is stunningly realistic. The Spartans fight until their swords, spears, and shields are broken. All that’s left is their hands and they fight on against the Persians. I’ve always loved reading and learning more about the ancient Greeks and Romans. This novel gave me a means to do that in a more mature way.

Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy always makes me laugh. I loved the books and they are one of the few novels that I have read more than once. A few of the others on this list are also in that exalted category. The book is absurdist humor in a space opera setting, both of which appeal to me greatly. The Hitchhiker’s Guide was originally a radio show which I own a recording of and listen to occasionally in the car. If you like absurdist humor you should check it out!

Let me know what your ten would be in the comments!

-Mister Ed

Game of Thrones Spoilers

One of my friends hasn’t read the latest Game of Thrones books yet.

So whenever we try and talk about the books he’ll shout out, “No spoilers!” and then cover his ears.

I’ve heard about this sort of thing happening more and more since the TV show became popular.

People watch the show, but don’t read the books.

So you could be talking with someone about Game of Thrones stuff and then casually mention something from Dance with Dragons. The book came out three years ago right? You can’t say spoilers in response to a three year old plot twist can you?

Apparently you can.

I guess I’m a little surprised by that.

When I was reading Harry Potter this sort of thing didn’t happen.

If you were interested in talking about the series it was assumed that you’d read all of the books that were published.

The movies came out afterwards, but from my own experience very few people watched the movies that didn’t also read the books.

Why is Game of Thrones different?

At first I thought maybe book size, but both Harry Potter and Game of Thrones books are massive.

Adult content might be it, but why?

The TV show has more sexual content and violence than the book. That’s also the main reason why I don’t watch the show.

I already know what’s going to happen, so there’s no plot mystery.

But the added sexual content just makes me uncomfortable.

My opinion on sex in TV shows and movies comes from an early filmmaker named Ernst Lubitsch.

Sex couldn’t be shown on screen and you couldn’t show someone in their underwear either.

Lubitsch represented sex by holding the camera on a closed door.

That was all.

And it worked! People knew exactly what was happening on the other side of the door, but you didn’t need to show it.

Game of Thrones goes way too far on this for my taste. Many of the scenes seem like they’d fit in a porn movie better than a high fantasy TV show.

But maybe that’s what’s attracting people to the show, but not the books.

The show has more sex scenes and they’re obviously more visual than those in the book ever will be.

So maybe more people watch the Game of Thrones show than read the books because its a guilt free way to get some softcore porn.

Or maybe its some other reason, but I’ve run out of space.

-Mister Ed

Father’s Day 2014

I went home last weekend for Father’s Day.

Unfortunately for you, my dad and I are not into taking pictures of ourselves that much.

Instead you get a picture of what I gave my dad.

My dad and I spend a lot of our time together watching movies.

One of the first types of movies we watched together were Japanese samurai movies (Chanbara movies in Japanese).

I don’t think I got much out of the samurai movies when I was a kid because they were subtitled and in black and white.

Now I really appreciate the genre. A ton of my favorite movies are samurai movies.

Some greats to check out include: Rashomon, Hidden Fortress, Seven Samurai, Yojimbo, Sanjuro, Harakiri, Throne of Blood, and Chushingura.

One interesting thing about samurai movies is that they are often adapted for Western audiences as… well, westerns.

Yojimbo and Sanjuro were turned into A Fistful of Dollars and A Few Dollars MoreSeven Samurai became The Magnificent SevenChushingura was made into an action movie called 47 Ronin instead of a western. Throne of Blood is actually a Japanese adaption of Macbeth. Finally, Hidden Fortress inspired George Lucas to create Star Wars.

What’s my point with all this? Well, because my dad and I like samurai movies we also like westerns.

I recently started listening to a lot of western themed songs.

The songs are like little mini western movies. Marty Robbins is a singer who basically only writes within that small genre.

I got my dad a mix CD of these cowboy songs along with a pair of movies that inspired two of the songs, High Noon and The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance.

The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance is an iconic song of the genre. Here’s a link if you’d like to listen to it and get a taste of the genre.

Happy Father’s Day Dad!

-Mister Ed

Current Library Book

The collection of fantasy short stories I got from the library.
The collection of fantasy short stories I got from the library.

Since my wife and I moved in together in Davis we’ve been going to the library a lot more.

I used to go to the library all the time when I was a kid.

I stopped going when my family moved.

Getting a library card in the new city was silently frustrating for me.

I think I got a new library card in my new hometown three different times.

Each time I’d get it, rent one thing, return it, then forget about the library for several years.

When I went back my card had expired, so I’d need to get a new one. And the process repeated itself.

My wife goes a lot more because she wants  specific children’s book for one of her lessons or a movie to watch or something like that.

I’ve been going with her and renting out one thing at a time to read or listen to (I like audiobooks).

I have Legends II rented out right now.

It’s a collection of short stories by notable fantasy authors put together by Robert Silverberg.

I liked most of the stories in this book and the previous one, Legends.

The only exception is strangely Robert Silverberg himself. I don’t like his writing style.

I originally got the book because it contains a short story by George R.R. Martin, author of the Game of Thrones series.

Martin has a short story series set in the same fictional world as Game of Thrones, but taking place one hundred years before the events of his novels.

The short story series is called The Adventures of Dunk and Egg.

Dunk is a seven foot tall knight and Egg is his squire with a shaved head.

I read the Dunk and Egg story first in Legends and in Legends II.

The other stories are also really great. Legends II has some ghost stories I’ve really enjoyed along with an Alvin Maker story.

Alvin Maker is the main character in a series of the same name written by Orson Scott Card, the same man who wrote the Ender’s Game series.

Alvin Maker is a traveling wizard in the pre-Civil War period of the USA.

The dialogue, setting, and topics in the Alvin Maker books are a lot like Mark Twain’s books. I’ve probably enjoyed the Alvin Maker stories the most out of all the short stories in the two Legends books.

That’s all for now!

-Mister Ed

Jordan Davis Case

One of my friends posted this on Facebook today.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/she-the-people/wp/2014/02/17/no-justice-for-jordan-davis-more-worry-for-parents-of-black-children/

I found it pretty interesting. I followed the Trayvon Martin case and this one is very similar. A young black teenager is killed in supposed self defense. The court system supposedly commits errors. And the accused walks away.

Of course both cases are more complex than that. In the Martin/Zimmerman case the justice system did commit errors. The police checked Martin’s body for signs of drug use, but conducted no such tests for Zimmerman. The police also let Zimmerman walk free for a month after the killing based only on his own word that it was in self defense. The police most likely did this because Martin was black and Zimmerman was not.

I do believe the correct verdict was reached in the Martin/Zimmerman case. The physical evidence reported clearly shows that Zimmerman was attacked. Zimmerman had several injuries while Martin had one. Zimmerman stated that Martin saw Zimmerman’s gun and that Martin then said, “I’m going to kill you.” If that was true, then stand your ground laws would certainly apply. The incident would not have happened if Zimmerman had not profiled Martin as a troublemaker, but that doesn’t excuse Martin’s decision to attack Zimmerman and threaten to kill him.

The Jordan Davis case suffers from the same problem of racially profiling the deceased. Dunn clearly saw Davis and his friends as “thugs” because of their race.

Let’s talk about the word “thug” for a minute. I haven’t experienced the word’s usage myself that much in my sheltered suburban life, but it is beginning to have the same racial connotations as nigger. When used in an offensive way thug will almost always mean a young black man who is making too much noise, carrying a weapon, selling drugs, etc. Any crime in a neighborhood will be explained away, “Oh, the thugs did it.” Meaning that the young black men did it.

So when Dunn calls Davis and his friends thugs, he’s already setting himself up as the committer of a hate crime. Davis and his friends were playing loud rap music at a convenience store. Dunn got out of his car and told them to turn it down. A reasonable enough request. They did and he went in to shop. Upon coming out they turned the music back up, presumable thinking he wouldn’t mind as he was leaving. He told them to turn it down again and they refused.

This is where the witness reports conflict. Dunn said that he saw a shotgun stick out the window of Davis’ car. No one else saw that. None of Davis’ friends saw that. Dunn’s wife didn’t see that. No one in the convenience store saw that. No shotgun was found in the car and none of the Davis’ friends owned one that mysteriously went missing. Dunn reacted to the imaginary shotgun by grabbing his pistol from his glovebox and firing on the teens before driving away. Davis was killed and his three friends drove away fearing for their lives. Dunn turned himself into the police soon afterward.

The trial just concluded and Dunn was found guilty of attempted second degree murder for Davis’ three friends. A mistrial was declared on a first degree murder charge for the killing of Davis. In order to deliver a verdict in a murder case, the jury must be unanimous, but they apparently weren’t for the murder of Davis. This isn’t particularly unusual. I imagine that it is very stressful to decide cases of life and death as a juror. The prosecution is appealing the case.

My personal opinion, Dunn is not guilty of first degree murder. He’s guilty of second degree murder. First degree murder is premeditated. Second degree murder is committed in the moment. The state views first degree murder as worse because most people will not choose to kill someone after thinking about it.

Did Dunn think about killing Davis? I seriously doubt that. Additional evidence makes it clear that Dunn hated black people, but he no evidence suggests that he went to that convenience store with the intent of killing someone. He went there to get some wine and chips. I hope the appeal court decides Dunn is guilty of second degree murder as that appears to be the truth to me.

The Davis/Dunn case is a great example of how complicated our justice system can get. More importantly, its an example of how racist my country continues to be.

-Mister Ed