Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Train Wreck

"The girls" and I went to lunch, then to the movie theater to see Train Wreck, which, from the previews, looked to be a bit naughty, but funny. We each paid our $7.75 and found our seats in the theater, along with other senior citizens out for an afternoon of laughs.

Ten minutes in, I was ready to leave. The language was filthy, not funny, and the emphasis on the sexual nature of the film was dominating. I stayed on, perhaps hoping that it would improve, but then a very naked John Cena had a scene in the bathroom with a towel displayed on his very erect penis, a part I'm sure was played by a stand-in, but that was my tipping point.

I told the girls I was leaving as it was getting worse and nastier, not better and funnier, and they joined me. I went to guest services and told the manager that the movie was filthy and asked for my money back. He apologized and gave each of us our ticket price back in cash, rather than a voucher for another film, which is what this theater has done in the past. He said that he'd heard from co-workers that the movie was totally funny, but I told him it was totally filthy and offensive, neither of which I find funny.

I did admit that maybe it's a generational thing as the scene of an office meeting featured street language and profanity, which I found as offensive as the nudity and commonplace use of obscenities and sexual scenes. But maybe today's younger worker is used to this sort of language used on the job.

All in all, I can say the first 15 minutes are awful and nasty, and based on that limited sampling would caution anyone who thinks about seeing this movie to check for other films that may be less offensive.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Jurassic World

I expected an action-packed, scary movie, but ended up giggling my way through Jurassic World. The basic story is a hoot as it stumbles from scene to scene. The acting is over the top, which makes the actors much more intense than the material they are given to deliver.

The animation is good, with the dinosaurs stealing the movie from the humans. The clash of the titans scene that pits gargantuan dinosaur against blood-thirsty gargantuan dinosaur lost some of its intensity by having the humans next to the action. If you can believe that a human can out-run a running or flying dinosaur, then you will be totally into the fight scenes, but I was rooting for the dinos to do some damage to the main characters and was disappointed. Two young boys in fear for their lives in a "bubble" car escape when the largest dino cracks open the vehicle with its foot. The boys run to the edge of a what looks like a 100-foot waterfall, leap blindly into the abyss, and save themselves from certain death.

The absolute best part is the co-starring actress role, a role in which the actress wears her white suit and 3-inch pumps throughout the action. She finally ends up with a well-placed, provocative split up one side of her skirt, but those 3-inch heels take her from the control room to the wilderness of the dinosaurs and many near-death adventures with nary a speck of dirt or blood on them.

Rest assured: there will be another episode in the franchise. How do I know this? The bad guy absconded with the engineered dino eggs and missed all the fun of being chased by all manner of pre-historic creatures and dangers.

Go Set a Watchman

Just as Scout learned as a child that it is a sin To Kill a Mockingbird, she learns in her adulthood that life needs a watchman, a person who can illuminate a pathway through the darkness of human behavior. Harper Lee’s second novel, the rest of the Atticus Finch story, pits father against daughter in a coming of age story that touches on a seminal moment in time in that relationship. Atticus Finch is not a racist; if that is the only message a reader walks away with after finishing Go Set a Watchman, the reader is unable to “get” the story Harper Lee tells.

The story begins with Scout coming home for a visit, during which she quickly learns that the more things in her life change, the more things from her childhood stay the same. She has high expectations for Maycomb and its people, and lofty, unreachable expectations for her father, Atticus. Scout has romanticized her father and is devastated when she thinks that he has failed her idolatry of him. She lashes out at her beloved Atticus, still seeing him through her childish eyes, rather than as an adult. Scout admits that “I did not want my world disturbed, but I wanted to crush the man who’s trying to preserve it for me.”

The turning point of the story occurs in the courthouse wherein the most well-known scene from To Kill a Mockingbird occurs. Once again Atticus is at the front of the room, but this time he’s there for a community meeting that includes discussion of the legislation and the NAACP. The agenda focuses on changes coming to the South, changes that can create equal opportunity for all Southerners, not just the white folks. Uncle Jack tells Scout that “… it takes a certain kind of maturity to live in the South these days,” a concept that Scout is reluctant to accept. Scout believes that change is today this/tomorrow that, but her Uncle Jack and her father, Atticus, help her to work through the difficult concept that change is a process, not an event.

Her uncle clarifies for Scout that “… the white supremacists fear reason, because they know cold reason beats them.” A reasonable person can see more than one side to an issue, and Atticus taught Scout to reason. Scout’s beloved Atticus has not changed: he adapts to what goes on around him and plots a wise course because he does know how many of his fellow citizens believe what he believes and need a voice of reason in what can only be turbulent times. Scout is incredulous that she can engage in a screaming fight with her father, but all he says when she comes to pick him up from work is “Ready?” Scout’s thoughts are revealed: “You can say ready to me. What are you, that I tried to obliterate and grind into the earth, and you say ready?”

The looming battle is clear: “Prejudice, a dirty word, and faith, a clean one, have something in common: they both begin where reason ends.” Dr. Finch reminds Scout that she’s a rarity, a truly “color blind” Southern girl. He reminds her that “The only differences you see between one human and another are differences in looks and intelligence and character and the like. You’ve never been prodded to look at people as a race, and now that race is the burning issue of the day, you’re still unable to think racially. You see only people.”

What Scout has forgotten is that Atticus “… certainly hoped a daughter of mine’d hold her ground for what she thinks is right—stand up to me first of all.” As father and daughter prepare to go home, Atticus says to his daughter, “I can take anything anybody calls me so long as it’s not true.” He knows that the future is going to be difficult with citizens taking sides in a centuries old battle, but he’s proud that his daughter will be a voice of reason.

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Cry Baby

Of course, receiving a seat assignment late in the reservation process assured that I would get a middle seat for the longest link of the three flights, and this one was between 2 men, each of whom quickly tugged down the arm-rest to make it more challenging for me to get into my seat. There was never even a smidgen of a chance that either of them would take their elbows out of my space, so I hugged myself tightly and settled in for the flight.

In addition to the lack of armrest comfort, the men both did the "man-spred" with their legs, which forced me to lock my knees together to keep from touching their encroaching knees and lower legs. I felt like I wrapped myself up like a taco shell and then had to hold that pose for a very long 5-hour flight segment. And that would have been okay but for the one male passenger seated next to me who was pissed because ...

1) No one told him that this was a no wi-fi flight. He's a busy man and uses his flight time to work, which meant without the wi-fi, he "lost" 5 hours of productive time and, as he said repeatedly to anyone who would listen, "time is money in my world."

2) We left the airport late, which was going to throw his entire work schedule out of sync. What was the excuse for not leaving on time? Well, believe it or not, the flight attendant really did not know why they left late, but she was sure the flight captain could make up some of the time and we'd arrive close to the original flight time.

3) Yeah, not so much as we ran into a storm and the captain was directed to fly around it, so we were late getting into the arrival gate, which inconvenienced many of the passengers, including me. I adjusted to the close call for my next flight by striding forcefully on the moving walkways and knocking out slow-pokes like they were bowling balls in an alley. I'm sure he was still back on the plane wa-wah-wahing to anyone who'd listen to his temper tantrum.

4) His final complaint was that the flight attendant did not announce gate arrivals and departures prior to landing. I'm sure the flight crew was busy with other duties, but this guy wanted -- and got -- a personally delivered gate arrival and information about his next flight departure. Guess it pays to be a pain in the ass, huh?

Proud of his bullying and whining, the guy made it loudly clear to anyone within 15 feet of him that he'd already composed the letter of complaint to the airlines so they will know how incompetent this particular flight crew was in meeting his personal needs. He turned toward me, pehaps to see if I was in agreement with him, and I just gave him the stare, and we all know the stare I shared.

Monday, May 11, 2015

Flight Line

Anyone who knows me also knows that I have bad luck when it comes to booking a flight and then having it happen the way the itinerary says it should go. This trip, the snafu's began at the PS airport before my 6 am scheduled departure. The flight was seriously over-booked and I didn't have a confirmed seat, along with another half-dozen frustrated flyers who were giving the airport employee a loud ration of serious shit. I waited my turn at the end of the line and finally made it to the front of the queue.

I politely asked the employee if I would have a seat on the flight and he stopped for a minute, then leaned toward me and said, "How would you like to leave an hour later, fly through Phoenix, and arrive a hour earlier than your original flight?"

"Sure," I responded, thinking what a deal.

Then he said, "And I'll throw in a $500 free travel voucher."

He had me at the rescheduling of the first itinerary, so I was now elated. The only question I had was would my luggage make it to H'burg, but he assured me that it would.

Flights went off without a hitch, and I was at the luggage pick-up, waiting for the original flight to land and cough up my purple suitcase. Quick trip back to LanCo and all was well in my world.

Until 2 days later, when I received an email telling me that my entire itinerary, all 6 flights, had been cancelled. No way, I thought, as 3 of those flights were the return trip. If those flights were not available, there was going to be a problem, so I called the US Airways help-line and introduced myself to the CSR who answered the phone. She was a bit perplexed, but called a supervisor, and my flights were restored -- with seat assignments -- and I am good to return home if nothing changes in the meanwhile.

Flying is always an adventure for me, and there's always a story to tell. I pity the poor people who sail through their itineraries without a hitch as they don't know how exciting it can be to have to go with the flow and make changes on a moment's notice.