Sign of the times: Trump Tower sign reveals more Rahm Emanuel hypocrisy

18 Oct

Trump Tower signBack in June 2014, Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel ripped the sign on Trump Tower which spelled out Trump’s name as being “tasteless” and—despite the city already having approved the signage—declared he would seek any possibilities of forcing its removal.

Mayor Emanuel believes this is an architecturally tasteful building scarred by an architecturally tasteless sign,” spokeswoman Kelley Quinn said. “The sign – which was already reduced in size and scope – does comply with the provisions of the planned development ordinance and the City Council sign order, but he has asked his staff to determine if there are any options available for further changes.”

Then in September 2014, King Emanuel announced a new city ordinance that would prevent future Trump-like signs along the Chicago River.

The fact that people bothered to critique the sign is, well, a sign of the times (pun fully intended). For liberals, you are NOT entitled to your opinion if it contradicts my opinion because my opinion is always right. So the liberal Emanuel, emboldened by a critique of the sign by Chicago Tribune architecture critic Blair Kamin, decided to take the conservative Trump to task for his sign.

James_R_Thompson_Center_behind_Chicago_City_Hall

The spaceship-styled Thompson center nestled among traditional buildings in downtown Chicago

Remember, Emanuel decried the sign as “architecturally tasteless.” Aside from signs that may be phallic in imagery, the phrase “architecturally tasteless” is completely subjective. Building architecture, by definition, is often viewed as “works of art,” and art is wholly subjective. Some people love Vincent Van Gogh’s style of art and loathe Pablo Picasso’s style, and vice-versa…while still others may love both. There is no standard when it comes to art. So what Emanuel perceives as “architecturally tasteless” may be perceived as “architecturally tasteful” to others (like me).

Predictably, Emanuel did what liberals love to do: create more legislation and rules. What these liberals don’t realize is that while such legislation is consistent with their worldview, it is inconsistent with the real world. For example, Kamin’s issue with the metal signage on the Trump building is that it clashes with the “cluster of 1920s skyscrapers” and might spoil the view for the city’s Riverwalk. But look at the picture above of the James R. Thompson Center in downtown. The all-glass exterior evokes a definite modern feel reminiscent of a spaceship, yet it is next-door neighbors to many traditional stone buildings built in the 1900s and 1910s. If Emanuel were to be consistent, he would blast the Thompson Center for being “architecturally tasteless” too and push legislation that would ban modern buildings sitting next to traditional buildings.

Of course, anyone with Minor Insights would see how ridiculous an argument that is. Yet it is the same ridiculous logic that Emanuel uses to conveniently blast the Trump sign.

The Loews building has a name

The Loews building has a name

But wait…there’s more.

There are plenty of signs on riverfront buildings. Look on the left photo. It’s a shot of a building that says “Loews” on it, right along the river. Logically speaking, it too clashes with the “cluster of 1920s skyscrapers” and could spoil the view for the city’s Riverwalk. Did Emanuel blast Loews? Yeah, I missed that press conference too.

The Westin Hotel prominently displays its name

The Westin Hotel prominently displays its name

How about this photo on the right? It’s a shot of the Westin Hotel, right along the river. Logically speaking, it also has a name attached to it, just as Trump’s does. Did Emanuel take Westin to task? Hm, I don’t recall him ever blasting Westin either.

There are other buildings along the river with names on them but I don’t have room to display all the photos in this post. But I took these two shots right next to the Trump tower…which somehow draws all the attention despite neighbors that do the same thing Trump did.

Some liberals howl that it’s the size of the sign that is so offensive. They argue that the sign takes up nearly 2,900 square feet and half-jokingly say that the sign is big in order to match Trump’s ego.

What these liberals don’t realize is that the Trump building contains 2.6 million square feet of floor space. A 2,900 square foot sign on the second tallest building in the western hemisphere is merely one-tenth of one percent (0.001) of the size of the building. If you view the infamous letters in person, it actually looks very proportionate to the size of the mammoth building from which the letters hang. This is cause for a new city ordinance?

The bottom line

Emanuel’s clash with Trump has nothing to do with architecture but everything to do with ideology and political worldviews. As a liberal, Emanuel jumped at any opportunity to try to dump on the conservative Trump. Whether you are a liberal, conservative or moderate, the facts are the facts. And just as ABC7 revealed that the hypocrisy that Emanuel’s motorcade “regularly” runs red lights and speeds (AND has all those tickets thrown out) despite his public comments about the importance of not running red lights and speeding for safety purposes, the facts here show that hypocrisy again reigned in Emanuel’s lame attempt to diss Trump.

Tangential note: after Emanuel was caught by ABC7 for running red lights, Emanuel put a nice public spin on it, saying that he told his drivers: “I said, ‘Follow the law, nobody’s above the law, slow down, period.” But several months later, ABC7 caught Emanuel’s motorcade violating the law eight more times! What a bold, two-faced hypocrite. Emanuel, who—in another display of hypocrisy—didn’t even meet the city residence requirements before running for mayor, is easily the worst mayor Chicago has ever seen, which is saying something.

Getting autographs at Wrigley Field

19 Sep Jorge Soler signs my son's glove
Etha, Erik, Henry & Lu with the Ernie Banks statue before the game

Etha, Erik, Henry & Lu with the Ernie Banks statue before the game

I took my four boys to Wrigley Field last night when the Cubs played the Dodgers. With a limited budget, I only take the boys to one game each year. We haven’t gone the last two years because the team was so bad then, but with top prospects like Jorge Soler, Javier Baez and Arismendy Alcantara, I thought it would be fun to see these exciting rookies…especially for the boys (ages 4, 6, 8 and 14). My boys are HUGE Cubs fans. They know the players just by their faces…even my little boys! It’s a “skill” I used to have as a young boy myself but I never mentioned that to them. I guess where you’re big fans, you’ll naturally be able to do that, but who knew these little kids were so perceptive about the players?!

Anyway, my wife & I decided to take them early to the park to see the Cubs take batting practice. From some web sites, I found that the Cubs would take BP from 5:05pm (when the park opened) until 5:35pm, followed by the Dodgers from 5:35-6:20pm. So I left work early (after getting in early) and met the kids at Wrigley (my wife dropped them off) just before the park opened.

We headed in and discovered there is a “Cubs Corral” where kids 13 and under can watch BP on the field instead of in the stands. You have to get a sticker at the Fan Services booth but they were out; the stickers act as admittance tickets. However, the helpful Fan Services attendant advised me to ask the Cubs Corral ushers if there might be extra stickers. We did, and there were.

The kids entered the Cubs Corral but the Cubs finished BP shortly thereafter. I didn’t notice the time but it seemed really short…like around 5:20pm instead of 5:35. The Dodgers took the field.

Cubs Corral kids watch batting practice at Wrigley Field

Cubs Corral kids watch batting practice at Wrigley Field

If you haven’t attended batting practice before at Wrigley, it’s quite a scene. I’ve taken the kids to Cubs games before but never early enough to watch BP, so they’ve never seen how major league players do batting practice.

When I was a kid (in the 80s), I went to a few Cubs games early enough to watch batting practice and it was nothing like it is today. Back then, there was simply a BP pitcher, the cage, the batter, some other players hanging around the cage waiting their turn, and some other players in the outfield shagging balls. That was it.

Today, there are multiple stations going on, with two infielding groups getting their infield work done while the batter is hitting, a coach hitting fly balls to an outfield group in right field, and another screen in center field to protect shaggers collecting balls into a bucket. A lot of activity, but even here, the shaggers aren’t doing much and are often talking to each other instead.

Well, the Cubs high-tailed it after their BP was done and didn’t sign any autographs for the kids at the Cubs Corral. Not surprising but a little disappointing. My boys hung out there and watched the Dodgers hit. The most impressive Dodgers display was by Matt Kemp, who hit four into the bleachers in one of his short stints in the cage. Some of the other kids in the Corral were calling for Kemp to sign. Initially, he didn’t want to, saying something to the effect of “Why should I sign autographs for you?” About 15 minutes later, he came over to sign, though my oldest son told me he looked rather reluctant. The kids also got autographs from some other Dodger stars, including Yasiel Puig and Adrian Gonzalez.

Cubs catcher John Baker walks by

Cubs catcher John Baker walks by

My boys got bored watching the Dodgers and left the Corral. I asked an usher if we could go to the left field wall to get some Cubs autographs and he said, yes, if we went to Aisle 110 or beyond, we could try there. By the time we got to Aisle 110, the Dodgers were finally finishing up batting practice (it was indeed around 6:20pm). After waiting about 5 minutes, a few Cubs trickled into the dugout. The first out of the dugout was John Baker, who would be catching that night. He didn’t look in our direction, nor walked close by, so my kids didn’t even bother calling out to him.

Tip: stand behind your kids, not with them so that players see the kids and not an adult. I’ve read that players are turned off by adults trampling over kids trying to get an autograph so I want to make it look clear that it’s my boys who want autographs and not me, which is true.

Next out was Tsuyoshi Wada, the Cubs’ starting pitcher that night. My kids started to call out to him at the same time a Japanese girl ran up to the wall and yelled something in Japanese to him. She took off her scarf and Wada looked back at her, not breaking his stride. He nodded at her, ignored us, and kept walking. The girl put her scarf back on and left, so I presume she wanted him to sign her scarf but obviously no success.

About five minutes later, Chris Coghlan walks by with a bat. I don’t recognize him but my kids do. In fact, Coghlan is Henry and Ethan’s favorite Cubs player (at the moment), so they start calling out to him. He walks away, ignoring us as he heads towards the gate door under the bleachers in right field, which is where the indoor batting cage is.

Well, this has been pretty disappointing so far. My oldest son asks if we should go to our seats. I’m always the optimistic type, so I say, “No, there’s nothing to do in our seats now anyway, so we might as well keep waiting here.” Besides, we’re the only ones here at the wall and it’s an amazing view—so close to the players!—, so why hurry to leave?

Just a minute or two after that, Chris Valaika comes right up to us and asks if he can sign something for us. Our kids are excited and he signs my four kids’ items (three baseballs and a fielder’s glove). We thank him and he walks away. What a nice guy! Very cool dude. Much respect for making my kids’ night as our first signer when everyone else to that point blew us off.

Jorge Soler signs my son’s glove

About another five minutes after that, Jorge Soler walks out onto the field. We’re all pretty excited but he’s not that close to us—standing around the foul line—and with his back to us. Soon, he faces us and my kids eagerly call out to him. He smiles and walks up to the boys—and signs their stuff! Wow…super cool! At this point, some other, older kids rush up for autographs but Soler leaves. Not sure if it was because the number of seekers was getting too big or what.

Ryan Kalish signs for my boys

Ryan Kalish signs for my boys

Shortly after that, Ryan Kalish, who was called up in September ostensibly to take over injured Ryan Sweeney’s spot and would be starting in center field tonight, comes over and my boys ask him to sign their stuff. Again, other kids have come up and are asking for autographs as well. By now, the ticketholders of the seats by the wall arrive but they graciously let us stay there while they wait in nearby seats.

Chris Coghlan walks by again to stretch on the field, and again my boys are calling out to him. “Mr. Coghlan! Mr. Coghlan!” No response, so I yell out to him, “Chris, you’re my kids’ favorite Cubs player!”, which I mentioned before was true. Still nothing.

Soon, Mike Olt comes by and my kids happily ask for his autograph. He signs for us too. He would be tonight’s starting first baseman. My kids talk about Olt a lot at home.

Javier Baez comes out on the field and my kids are eagerly calling him. It’s honestly really cute to hear their little voices calling him. “Mr. Baez! Mr. Baez!” But he doesn’t respond.

My four boys watch Jorge Soler and Javier Baez during the National Anthem

My four boys watch Jorge Soler and Javier Baez during the National Anthem

Now it’s the national anthem. My youngest son, who’s only four, doesn’t know any better so he continues to call Baez so I have to teach him that during the national anthem, we need to be quiet and listen. After the anthem, my kids keep calling for Baez—and he comes over to sign! And he signs for my boys first. How cool is that?

Javier Baez signs autographs for my boys

Javier Baez signs autographs for my boys

We thanked the seat ticketholders for letting us hang around in their seats to get autographs and headed to our own seats.

When we all got to our seats, I asked my oldest son if his view of Coghlan was lower since he wouldn’t sign an autograph. To his credit, my son said no. I too don’t have a lower view of Coghlan (or Wada or Baker for that matter), though I must admit I have a much higher view of Valaika, Soler, Kalish, Olt and Baez. The Cubs ended up losing the game (some questionable managerial decisions by Rick Renteria, but that’s for another post) but the boys went home on a really high note b/c they got those autographs—so happy you would think the team won.

In the end, we got five Cubs’ autographs, including Soler and Baez! Anthony Rizzo and Starlin Castro are out, as well as Alcantara, but I’d call tonight a smashing success for autographs. We even got Kemp, Puig and Gonzalez as a bonus.

I really think we got those autographs b/c those squeaky kids’ voices calling for the players is so cute and irresistible :)  And also, I think we got those autographs b/c of persistence. Being patient and waiting, even when it seemed hopeless. Isn’t that a metaphor for life?

In general, I think Cubs players, especially the stars, are great to the fans and don’t act stuck up. A few years ago, my oldest son and I waited in the parking lot after the game and Matt Garza (then the ace of the pitching staff) came over to sign autographs. Not sure if Theo Epstein encourages the players to do it as part of “The Cubs Way”, but that fan-friendly quality helps endear the players (and the team) to the fans. And it made my boys’ night.

Defending Tony Dungy over his Michael Sam comments

22 Jul

A quick bit of context in case you aren’t familiar with the issue: NBC analyst and former Super Bowl-winning head coach Tony Dungy recently made comments to the Tampa Tribune that he would not have drafted Sam “[n]ot because I don’t believe Michael Sam should have a chance to play, but I wouldn’t want to deal with all of it.” Dungy added, “It’s not going to be totally smooth…things will happen.’’

The responses were predictable.

Dan Wetzel of Yahoo Sports said Dungy’s assessment of openly gay NFL rookie Michael Sam as a “stunning lack of courage” and a “complete cop-out”.

The Chicago Tribune columnist Steve Rosenbloom said (registration required to read the article in the link) Dungy’s comments were “lame and cowardly”.

Gee, what a surprise: both columnists hold liberal views so they embrace the gay man Sam while ripping on the Christian man Dungy. I haven’t read every critical opinion on Dungy’s comments, but it’s almost guaranteed that all of those anti-Dungy opinions are by people who support gay rights.

I don’t normally respond to every opinion piece that defends gay rights, gay marriage or gay people because the liberal media is so voluminous in their defense of gay whatever that there wouldn’t be enough time in the day to do so.

But this issue warrants a quick injection of minor insights.

First, rather than lacking courage, considering that polls now say the majority of Americans support gay marriage, the fact that Dungy made an anti-Sam comment by definition took quite a bit of courage since he is voicing an opinion that is supposedly in the minority now.

Second, being a former NFL head coach, Tony Dungy would know significantly more than Wetzel, Rosenbloom and the myriad other loudmouths who can only dream of what it’s like in an NFL locker room and what chemistry is like on an NFL team. So if someone is giving an opinion on whether things will go smooth, um, I think it’s safe to say that Dungy’s opinion has more weight.

Some commentators have said that Sam’s teammates have said they don’t have a problem with Sam. Well, duh! What do you expect them to say? “Man, I don’t want gay people in the locker room with me!” Sheesh, they’ll be ostracized as fast as these same media types are ostracizing Dungy. These players aren’t stupid. Unlike the commentators.

Third, the arguments being made to criticize Dungy are so moronic, it’s amazing those columns made it past their respective editors. Unless the editors too are liberals. Oh, never mind.

For example, both Wetzel and Rosenbloom bring up Dungy’s supposedly hypocritical acceptance of Michael Vick and rejection of Sam.

Rosenbloom wrote: “Let me get this right: A man who wants to love another man is worse than a man who pays for and revels in killing a bunch of dogs for sport. Welcome to Tony Dungy’s world. That’s some talking head NBC Sports has, huh?”

The thing that these writers keep forgetting is that Vick apologized for his sins and was making good-faith efforts to distance himself from his sins while Sam is, uh, openly gay. As in, not apologizing nor distancing himself from his sins but instead proudly proclaiming his sins.

Far from being hypocritical, that’s Dungy being entirely consistent with his biblical worldview. Welcome to Dan Wetzel, Steve Rosenbloom and like-minded liberal writers’ world. Those are some writing heads Yahoo and the Chicago Tribune have, huh? Their logic is impeccable, huh?

As another example, both Wetzel and Rosenbloom made the same argument that Dungy benefited from people in the past who gave black people a chance to play or coach sports.

It’s amazing that liberals still use the nonsensical “black rights is the same as gay rights” argument.

Blacks are the very same people as any other people. They can all procreate and make more of themselves. (This is the point where you hear liberals yell that some straight couples cannot procreate either. Those are, of course, isolated instances. Biologically, a man + a woman can procreate.)

However, gay people cannot procreate and give birth to more gay people. Biologically, a man + a man cannot give birth to a baby. Ever. And a woman + a woman cannot give birth to a baby. Ever.

So gay rights can NEVER be equated to black rights. Ever. It’s just that simple. In fact, many black people will get offended if you try to equate gay rights the same as black rights.

Hey, if a “sexual orientation” is enough to demand equal rights, what about people with other types of “orientations”? What if a proud, self-proclaimed pyromaniac wanted to work in a library? Or a proud, self-proclaimed kleptomaniac wanted to work at a store? Do they get equal rights too?

Everyone needs to just calm down. Dungy said things will not be totally smooth and that things will happen; ironically, the reaction to his comments proved him right.

 

 

Spurs’ 2014 NBA Finals win proves LeBron James is no Michael Jordan, more goat than G.O.A.T.

16 Jun lebron-game-five

Promises, promises

When he signed with the Miami Heat, LeBron James promised he would make history. And he did.

After the San Antonio Spurs routed LeBron’s Heat with a 4-1 series win in which the Spurs’ margin of victory in their four wins were 15, 19, 21 and 17 points, LeBron James’ Heat helped the Spurs reach 12 total games in the postseason by 15 or more points—an NBA record.

Other LeBron promises? Not so accurate.

During their introduction party in 2010, in which LeBron, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh were brought out amid plumes of smoke for their adoring fans and lifted into the air via forklift, LeBron said he would win at least 8 championships with the Heat.

Lest you thought he was just joking or exaggerating, LeBron specifically emphasized that “when I say that, I really believe it. I’m not just up here blowing smoke…b/c that’s not what I’m about. I’m about business.”

Not only that, but remember LeBron said they would win 8 championships “easy.”

“The way we gonna challenge each other in practice, once the games start, I mean, it’s gonna be easy.”

built-vs-boughtHow easy? So easy, LeBron said a 65-year-old (at the time) man could play with them and they’d still win championships.

“I mean, with me and D.Wade running the wing, I mean, Pat [Riley] could come back and play like he was back in his Kentucky days,” James boasted, laughing. “Just throw it up there and we’ll go get it.”

The Heat thought they could just buy themselves 8 championships in paying $327.7 million to James, Wade and Bosh.

But then the Dallas Mavericks ruined LeBron’s prediction in his very first year of seeking “easy” championships.

Hm.

And the Spurs should have beaten the Heat last year, being just a Kawhi Leonard missed free throw away from winning the championship.

And of course, you know what happened this year.

LeBron the G.O.A.T.?

Any talk of LeBron being the Greatest Of All Time (or G.O.A.T.) looks as ridiculous now as casting Bill Murray to play Rambo.

LeBron is now 2-for-5 in the NBA Finals in his career. For those who are in remedial math, it means he has a LOSING record in trying for championships.

Michael Jordan was 6-for-6. For those in remedial math, that means Jordan NEVER lost an opportunity to win a championship. Not once.

LeBron is 0-for-1 in three-peat attempts. Jordan was 2-for-2.

LeBron couldn’t win in Cleveland so he had to find a different team who could buy him some superstars to help him win two championships. And even WITH his superstar free agent buddies, LeBron still lost twice in the NBA Finals. That means LeBron has LOST as many championships with the Almighty Heat as he has won (2-2).

Heck, the vaunted Heat haven’t even won 70 games in a regular season, unlike Jordan’s Bulls. Wait, I thought “once the games start, it’s gonna be easy.” LeBron made it sound like the Heat should be regularly finishing the regular season 82-0.

LeBron the Greatest Of All Time? Seriously?

After the Heat beat the Indiana Pacers to advance to this year’s NBA Finals, Pacers head coach Frank Vogel took the hype down one notch but still hailed James as “the Michael Jordan of our era,” and the Heat “the Chicago Bulls of our era.”

What an insult to Michael Jordan and the Bulls.

Last night’s championship-clinching Game Five shatters Vogel’s bone-headed claims to a million pieces. In that game, LeBron had 31 points and 10 rebounds. But it was arguably the quietest 31 points in recent NBA Finals history. While James had 17 Jordanesque first-quarter points, James did an un-Jordanesque disappearance the rest of the game, allowing the Spurs to roll all over his team for a third consecutive game—also something Jordan never allowed to happen.

“Need better supporting cast”?

After the Spurs kicked the Heat up and down the court to clinch the 2014 NBA championship, some commentators said the Heat needs to get a better supporting cast for LeBron.

Wait up. Really?

A better supporting cast? LeBron said the Heat could win “not one, not two, not three, not four, not five, not six, not seven” but eight or more championships with a 65-year-old man as the supporting cast. And that he “really believes it.” But now the Big Three need a better supporting cast?

Excuse me while I muffle my laughing.

The Heat paid $327 million to three superstars (that’s more than the economy of many entire countries)—and they still need a better supporting cast?

How do these commentators keep their jobs?

I bet those commentators did not even realize what a slamming indictment that is on LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh.

Why would the alleged Greatest Of All Time plus two other superstars STILL need a better supporting cast to win championships? Since Pat Riley is not playing, their supporting cast is already better than what James said he needed to win 8 championships.

And BTW, what kind of supporting cast did Michael Jordan have during MJ’s six championship years?

During the Jordan, Scottie Pippen and Horace Grant years (and keep in mind that Grant was only an All-Star once; Bosh is a nine-time All-Star), the Bulls’ Top Three played with the likes of B.J. Armstrong, Scott Williams, Cliff Levingston, Will Perdue and Craig Hodges. Only die-hard Bulls fans would remember those names—and those were the most “famous” of the supporting cast. Rory Sparrow, Bobby Hansen, Dennis Hopson, Chuck Nevitt, Ricky Blanton, Jo Jo English, Joe Courtney, Ed Nealy, Mark Randall and Darrell Walker were also part of the supporting cast. Any of those ring a bell, much less strike fear in an opponent?

During the Jordan, Pippen and Dennis Rodman years (and keep in mind Rodman was only a two-time All-Star compared to Bosh’s nine All-Star appearances, and Rodman didn’t have anywhere near the offensive talent of Bosh), the supporting cast consisted of Randy Brown, Jason Caffey, Jud Buechler, Jack Haley, John Salley, Dickey Simpkins and Bill Wennington. Any of those names sound like a strong supporting cast? In fact, the best bench player the Bulls had then was Toni Kukoc—and Jordan didn’t think Kukoc was much help either.

Put it this way: if LeBron, Wade and Bosh played with Jordan’s supporting cast, the Heat probably would be lucky to win 50 games.

Now LeBron, D.Wade and Bosh need a better supporting cast to win championships? If that’s true, then LeBron, D.Wade and Bosh better refund Heat owner Micky Arison all those millions they were paid to “easily” win championships.

Rumors have it that the Heat want to buy themselves a fourth superstar free agent in Carmelo Anthony. I say, go for it. It’s clear that LeBron is definitely NOT the G.O.A.T. but actually needs all the superstar help he can get.

So go for it, Pat Riley…buy yourself a fourth superstar free agent. Demand the salary cap get pushed up so you can keep buying more superstars (is Kevin Durant available?) and sellout All-Star free agents like former Celtic Ray Allen. Buy a fifth superstar and a sixth superstar while you’re at it. Maybe LeBron needs a complete roster of free agent superstars to win those eight championships. After all, championships are bought, not built, right?

LeBron goat, not G.O.A.T.

Jordan pointed this out after LeBron and Bosh joined Wade in Miami, saying:

“There’s no way, with hindsight, I would’ve ever called up Larry [Bird], called up Magic [Johnson] and said, ‘Hey, look, let’s get together and play on one team.’ …In all honesty, I was trying to beat those guys [not join them].”

Even if LeBron won eight championships with the Heat, he still wouldn’t be the G.O.A.T. because he needed to team up with other superstars to do it. As Charles Barkley put it, LeBron taking his talents to South Beach automatically took him out of that conversation of being the G.O.A.T.

And LeBron failing to win championships even WITH the other superstars solidifies LeBron as the goat, not the G.O.A.T.

Movie Review: ‘Pompeii’ fantastic in 3D but is no ‘Titanic’

21 Feb

ImageBefore I start, let me say that I am not your typical movie critic who loves bashing movies. I actually am less critical than most people. Maybe I have lower standards. Maybe I’m too forgiving. Or maybe everyone else is just too picky.

So when I say Pompeii is a below-average movie, it must be genuinely below average.

The Sony press release describes the movie this way: “Set in 79 A.D., Pompeii tells the epic story of Milo (Kit Harington), a slave turned invincible gladiator who finds himself in a race against time to save his true love Cassia (Emily Browning), the beautiful daughter of a wealthy merchant who has been unwillingly betrothed to a corrupt Roman Senator Corvus (Kiefer Sutherland). As Mount Vesuvius erupts in a torrent of blazing lava, Milo must fight his way out of the arena in order to save his beloved as the once magnificent Pompeii crumbles around him.”

Some critics likened Pompeii to Titanic in that (1) both films are disaster epics, with the volcano in Pompeii standing in for the iceberg in Titanic, and (2) both films features a poor young man who wins the heart of a rich girl who is engaged to a bad guy.

That’s where the similarities end, though.

The positives

  • The 3D is gorgeous. Many scenes were shot in 3D and such scenes are a feast for the eyes.
  • Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje is fantastic as Atticus, a warrior trying to win his freedom who ends up befriending Milo.
  • The visuals in general are grand, from the coliseum to the city of Pompeii to the special effects when Vesuvius blows its top.
  • Emily Browning does a fair enough job as the heroine Cassia.
  • Although there is some sexualization of teens in this movie (as Cassia sometimes bares cleavage, and also is forcibly betrothed to Corvus—who is old enough to be her father), the engagement relationship of the older Corvus and young Cassia is shown in a negative light.
  • According to scientists, the catastrophe parts are historically accurate except for the lava bombs and titanic tsunami.

The negatives

  • The movie starts by showing how the evil Corvus slaughtered a little kid’s family and town. I guess I’m dense but I thought the kid was a girl because of the little child’s long hair. This was confusing later b/c I couldn’t figure out what happened to that little girl…I actually wondered if she become Cassia. Well, turns out the “girl” was really a young Milo. The filmmakers should have followed the visual cue from 300, another gladiator pic, where young boys had short hair so there is no misunderstanding.
  • Kit Harington does a poor job with Milo. His buff body would give Gerard Butler in 300 a run for his money, but Harington’s acting is terrible. He appears to only have one expression the entire movie, whether he’s sad, pensive, in love or angry.
  • A highly predictable yet unbelievable scene shows a lifeless Corvus after the coliseum collapses from a volcanic tremor, yet when Cassia’s father attempts to kill him, Corvus suddenly is awake and super-strong, preventing Cassia’s father from killing him. I know it’s a movie, but you can’t go from unmoving (after a coliseum roof falls on you) to awake and mighty in the blink of an eye. I am happy to suspend my disbelief for these types of movies, but come on now.
  • Character development took a big backseat in the movie. Do we know anything about Milo besides the fact he wants revenge for his family’s slaughter, and that he can fight? And how did Milo get to be so good at fighting? Does he have a plan to escape? Atticus tells us his plan for freedom, but we get nary an idea what’s running through Milo’s mind. And do we know anything about Cassia besides the fact she visited Rome and was glad to leave there?
  • The love relationship between Milo and Cassia is superficial at best. Yes, Milo proves to be a horse whisperer of sorts, but nevertheless, their attraction to each other is purely based on each other’s looks. Cassia knows nothing about—nor seems to care to investigate—Milo’s past or his general character before falling in love. And Cassia is from the same nation (Italy) that killed Milo’s family in Britannia—yet we are not told why Milo apparently overlooks that fact, despite being in revenge mode.
  • But by far, the biggest problem with this movie is that (warning: spoiler alert… skip this paragraph if you intend to watch the movie…last warning) …yes, easily the biggest problem with this movie is that everyone dies. Milo and Cassia handcuff Corvus in their final battle and let him get burned to death by the oncoming lava/firestorm, yet Milo and Cassia suffer the same fate of being burned up as the bad guys did. The official press release trumpets Milo’s attempt to save his beloved, which seems to imply that he will save her…that he and Cassia are the only ones to make it out alive. But despite their repeated evasions of death, eventually they still die the same way all the evil people did. Since this film is clearly historical fiction (like Titanic), a more hopeful and endearing movie would have had at least one (or both) of them survive, as the fictional Rose did in Titanic. In the end, you ask yourself, what was the point of following these characters and hoping they make it? Records indicate that many people did in fact escape…so why not the hero and/or heroine? That’s just plain dumb.

I love, love, love disaster movies, dating back to when I saw Twister on the big screen. On the big screen and in 3D, disaster movies are SO cool to me. I guess it reminds me of the book of Revelation, how fragile man’s life is, how full-scale disaster is coming, and how awesome God is since He controls disasters. But this movie, while grandly showing the scale of the disaster of historical Pompeii, also grandly flops in its storytelling attempt of the human element of the film.

Bottom line: ** (that’s two stars out of four)

Ignorance leading the way in outrage over Zimmerman-Trayvon verdict

16 Jul

Black preachers, led by Rev. Al Sharpton, said on Tues, Jul 17th they were planning peaceful protests in 100 cities across the United States this weekend to press for federal charges in the shooting death of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin.

Attorney General Eric Holder, who is black, told a convention of the nation’s largest black sorority that the U.S. government will press for a federal investigation. Holder is to also address the NAACP on Wed.

Protests were held in various cities including Chicago, New York City, Boston, San Francisco, San Diego and Sacramento on Sunday, followed by rallies in Baltimore, Minneapolis, Houston and Atlanta on Monday. Some protests even grew violent as 14 people were arrested including one hospitalized, stores like Wal-Mart and The Men’s Wearhouse were vandalized in California.

Everybody, take a deep breath.

HOW DO YOU KNOW THE VERDICT WASN’T RIGHT?

Here’s what we know with 100% certainty about the George Zimmerman-Trayvon Martin case:

  1. Zimmerman thought Martin looked “suspicious” as Martin walked through the streets of a gated Florida community, of which Zimmerman was a neighborhood watchman.
  2. Zimmerman called the Sanford Police Department to report that “this guy looks like he’s up to no good.”
  3. Zimmerman leaves his vehicle, and after the dispatcher finds out Zimmerman is going to follow Martin, Zimmerman is told not to do that.
  4. A fight ensued since forensic experts following the autopsy determined that the gunshot to Martin’s chest was fired at close range (between 1-18 inches), not from long range.
  5. Police arrive on the scene, finding Martin dead (one shot to the chest) and Zimmerman with a bloody nose and two lacerations on the back of his head.

That’s it, people.

In other words, between the time Zimmerman trailed Martin until the time Martin was shot dead, we have NO idea what happened.

Anyone who claims otherwise is lying. Period.

There is some additional information but the certainty of the material is far less clear:

  1. Three witnesses said they either heard or saw a scuffle, with two witnesses providing visual details the indicate Martin was the aggressor on top of Zimmerman.
  2. One witness (Rachel Jeantel) was on the phone with Martin before the fight and said that Martin described Zimmerman as “crazy and creepy”. Jeantel was found to have lied about her age when giving her testimony.
  3. Autopsy reports on Martin’s body found one small abrasion on his left ring finger below his knuckle and no other injuries. A trace amount of marijuana was also found, but it could have been injested days earlier.
  4. Recordings of 911 calls could not ascertain whose voice was yelling for help. Zimmerman’s father was adamant it was Zimmerman’s. Martin’s father initially said the voice was not Martin’s but has since changed his story (claiming he heard an enhanced recording later).

Again, that’s it, people.

So, to all the verdict demonstrators, let me ask you a simple question: how do you know that Trayvon Martin wasn’t the one who attacked first?

Simple questions have simple answers: you don’t.

It is certainly possible that Zimmerman followed Martin after ending his 911 call, but even that part we don’t know with 100% certainty.

And since you don’t know beyond a reasonable doubt what exactly happened between the time Zimmerman ended his 911 call and when Martin got shot, what exactly are you upset about?

The whole thing is one big shrouded mystery.

For all you know, Martin attacked Zimmerman first, pummeling him while Zimmerman is on the ground (which would explain Zimmerman’s lacerations in the back of his head and the bloody nose), and forcing Zimmerman to shoot in self-defense.

THE MEDIA’S DECEPTION

The mainstream media went beyond mere bias with this story; it played this story with outright deceit.

Even I rushed to judgment and initially believed that Zimmerman was 100% at fault based on the media’s coverage…that Zimmerman followed Trayvon just for being black and then simply shot him from afar. But then things started to come out from non-mainstream sources and that’s when some Minor Insights started to come forth.

For example, the media showed us a baby-faced photo of Martin when he was much younger (plausibly he was 12, not when he was 17—the age in which he died). President Barack Obama fed into this baby-faced Martin photo lie when he famously declared, “If I had a son, he would look like Trayvon.”

It reported Martin had Skittles and a sugary drink, as if to insinuate that Martin was like a helpless little toddler (to match the photo the media was posting in their stories). It implied that Martin’s only crime was wearing a hoodie in a white neighborhood.

And the black community (and some non-black folks) swallowed it all up—hook, line and sinker.

All the Trayvon supporters never noticed that—to this day—we do not have a recent photo of Trayvon. (Psst: the autopsy reported Trayvon was 5′ 11″ at the time he died.) Why is that?

All the Trayvon supporters never noticed that Trayvon, though he never had a criminal record, did have an arrest record—four arrests, to be exact. This does not even include his suspensions from school (such as for graffiti and punching a bus driver). Does anyone know Trayvon has a violent streak that, oh I don’t know, maybe came into play in this incident too? The point is, Trayvon is not this Gandhi-like figure that the media portrayed him to be.

All the Trayvon supporters never noticed that the media omitted Zimmerman’s response to the dispatcher’s request to not follow Martin, which was “OK”.

All the Trayvon supporters never noticed (or just ignored) that NBC intentionally edited Zimmerman’s audio in the 911 call to make it sound like racial profiling. NBC played a recording where Zimmerman said, “This guy looks like he’s up to no good or he’s on drugs or something… He’s got his hand in his waistband, and he’s a black male,” as well as “This guy looks like he’s up to no good. He looks black.” But in the original 911 recording, Zimmerman said: “This guy looks like he’s up to no good. Or he’s on drugs or something. It’s raining and he’s just walking around, looking about.” The 911 operator then asked: “OK, and this guy, is he black, white or Hispanic?”, and Zimmerman answered, “He looks black.” The phrase, “He’s got his hand in his waistband, and he’s a black male” came several exchanges later in the conversation. NBC never apologized on air for its deception.

All the Trayvon supporters never noticed that ABC News lied its audience when it showed surveillance video of Zimmerman walking into the police station and declared that no abrasions or blood could be seen in the video. When this claim was disputed, ABC then admitted there were indeed “a pair of gashes” on his head but insisted the story’s main focus was on a doctor who claimed it was unlikely that Zimmerman’s nose had been broken—even though the doctor had never seen Zimmerman.

As this blog has been warning since Day 1, be very skeptical about what the mainstream media tells you.

HYPOCRISY

So now the NAACP is up in arms. Yet is the NAACP all up in arms when most of the black people who are gunned down in America are gunned down by black people? One black person is shot dead by a white person—and we don’t know exactly how—yet there are rallies and demonstrations and protests and outrage.

On the other hand, thousands of blacks people are shot dead by other black people EVERY YEAR—yet where is the outrage from NAACP? Where is Al Sharpton leading rallies and demonstrations over black-on-black crime?

Or as one commenter astutely pointed out, when O.J. Simpson, who is black, was acquitted of murdering his white wife Nicole and white Ronald Goldman, where was the outrage then? Oh wait…the NAACP, Jesse Jackson Sr., Al Sharpton and those of their ilk don’t work that way.

THE BOTTOM LINE

I’ve experienced racial slurs and discrimination, so I’m not naive to think it doesn’t exist. But this particular shooting was not about race. This particular verdict was not about race. Everyone needs to calm down. Race relations are not healed by knee-jerk reactions and ignorance. Instead, knee-jerk reactions make race relations worse.

So put down your “We are all Trayvon” signs.

Because if you don’t, what your sign really says is “We are all ignorant.”

 

Senate shoots down gun control legislation

18 Apr

There is hope for the Senate yet.

On Wednesday, the Senate failed to approve two Democratic-led legislative proposals, one to expand the system of background checks and another to ban the manufacture and sale of certain semi-automatic rifles and high-capacity ammunition magazines. The former failed in a 54-46 vote—six votes shy of the 60 needed to advance—and the latter failed in a 40-60 vote.

Finally some sanity has reigned, even if temporarily, in Washington D.C..

Anyone with an independent brain—or Minor Insights—knows that neither proposed measure would have prevented any of the mass shootings in recent memory, nor would they curb the murder rates in any of the metropolitan cities. Even Adam Lanza, the Sandy Hook shooter who sparked these knee-jerk legislative proposals, did not have a criminal record and thus still would have committed his heinous crime even if these brainless laws were passed.

Just two months after the Sandy Hook shooting, a group of high school African-American students in Chicago—right in Obama’s neighborhood—said the problem with violence isn’t guns; it’s gangs.

“[Gangs are] not going to give up their guns,” Brian Alexander, 16, said. “They’re not even going to listen to Obama. Some of them don’t have a father in their lives, so why would they listen to the president, a man who’s not in their lives either?”

Tyler Minor, 16, agreed that Obama’s proposals to tighten gun laws would have little, if any, effect on the illegal guns on the street.

These teens, who are living in the crosshairs of gun violence every day, are spot on. And it’s really common sense if you stop and think about it.

So why doesn’t Obama get it? Why does Obama have to lamely flank himself with victims of gun violence while denouncing the Senate for making the right decision? Why does Obama stubbornly continue to aggressively push these gun restrictions despite all the reasoning against them?

Because Obama’s proposals aren’t really to curb gun violence; they’re to put a socialist hole in the U.S. Constitution.

“Whoa! Socialism?” you might be asking yourself. “That’s just a right-wing conspiracy theory.”

Actually, no. A shocking documentary called “Agenda: Grinding America Down” reveals how Obama has had numerous connections, relationships and mentorships with socialist and even communist (yes, communist) people.

This explains why Obama refuses to admit the airtight logic in arguments against his gun control proposals, like this one given by a 15-year-old girl.

In any event, a major piece of President Obama’s second-term agenda has been rejected and defeated—particularly impressive since it had to stop the gun-control momentum created by the Sandy Hook crisis. Common sense advocates have done well to push their Senators to listen to logic.

Thank the Senators who were brave enough to stand for reason. And celebrate a moment of sanity in the Senate.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 30 other followers