Saga of the Jasonite

The continuing adventures of that eternal man of mystery…


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Cell phones and texting: something I’ve got a problem with

IdiotsThis will be a rant, fair warning. In general, cell phones (or mobiles, depending on where you live) are something I suppose we are better off having than not having. It took me until the summer of ’09 to decide to get one, and in these past almost four years I’ve generally felt it was worth it, even though my phone bill tripled if not quadrupled since eschewing a land line, not to mention the shelling out of money I’ve done to get new ones every couple of years. They’re great to have if you are lost, or if your car breaks down, for keeping in touch with people who live long distances away relatively cheaply, and texting can often be a good alternative to calling someone. It can be nice to look something up on the internet and I personally find it fun to have cool ringtones as well. Apps can be a great and convenient source of information.

The problem I have is with cell phone addiction, and how it affects people on a regular basis. Cell phone addiction happens, just as internet addiction does, addiction to coffee, gambling, porn, alcohol, drugs or anything else. It is never a good thing, regardless of how socially acceptable it is. It makes you weak, it’s certainly not something you should be proud of, or say off-handedly in conversation, because I will then ask you what you are doing to beat your addiction. I am not addicted to my cell phone. If I’m on a date I do not text other people, nor do I check texts, or phone calls. If I’m in a conversation with someone I don’t text people, nor do I check. You shouldn’t either.

In my previous job, just last year, a few friends from work (all girls) took me out to eat with them. I guess there were about eight of us, and I didn’t know them very well other than one person. We all sat down and talked for about 10-15 minutes; shortly following this amount of time time every single one of them was texting on their phones. This went on for the majority of the time we were at the restaurant, and I was stunned. Now see, I grew up in the 80’s, there weren’t cell phones, there was no internet back then. In fact both of these inventions have only been around and in use by the general public for about 16 years now, since 1997 let’s say. The girls I was with were all in their 20’s, and I thought to myself, “these girls are pathetic.” They weren’t even texting other people, they were mostly texting each other! It doesn’t matter who they were texting though, it shouldn’t have been happening. I wanted to say that they should be ashamed of themselves, and how much I looked down on them for not being able to engage in perhaps the one fundamental skill that women have:  chatting. I guess they didn’t know any better.

It’s continued ever since! I have literally been on first dates with women who were checking their texts and sending texts right in front of me. Well honey you’d better hope you are something spectacular and you had better impress me, because otherwise that is our last date. If you are on a date with me I am more important than anyone who is sending you a text, I am more important than any text you want to send. Period. I don’t look at my phone, I don’t check my phone when I am on a date with anyone, whether it’s a first date or a 30th one. It is extremely rude. It means checking your messages is more  important than paying attention to me, getting to know me, and it invites me to think less of you a person. It leads me to believe that I am important as long as nobody you’ve ever met wants to say something to you. I, in turn, will believe that you are not worth my time as a result.

It’s also NOT ok to text while driving. This is dumb! You are dumb if you do it! On those rare occasions when I’ve done it, I was being dumb too. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says that distracted drivers accounted for 80% of all crashes in the United States in 2005 and 2006. Now how many drivers do you suppose are distracted due to texting? How many do you suppose were talking on their phones? Later the National Safety Council announced that 28% of all auto crashes in one year were caused by calling or texting while driving; that’s over 1.6 million crashes in one year. Don’t be dumb. Car & Driver magazine even compared the effects of texting while driving to driving while drunk in 2009. They had two people drive while texting and tested their reaction times, and then gave them screwdrivers until they had a blood-alcohol level of .08 and had them drive the same course. The times they were texting scored worse than when they’d been drinking. Don’t believe me, click here and read for yourself. This little test was done with people that were old enough to drink, who’d been driving for at least 5 years, likely more. Imagine how impaired teens are when they’re texting or on the phone; they are crappy drivers to start out with!

I definitely have a problem with this aspect of society. I enjoy texting, but I never do it at the expense of the person I’m talking to. Not even for the two seconds it takes to read a text. Neither should anyone else.

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My review and rant regarding Star Trek: Into Darkness

They do make good movie posters

They do make good movie posters

*WARNING* MASSIVE SPOILERS CONTAINED IN THIS REVIEW. DO NOT READ UNLESS YOU’VE SEEN THE MOVIE OR DO NOT CARE ABOUT KNOWING KEY PLOT POINTS

Well….crap.

I’ll explain that previous sentence in a minute. First let me say that I’m a big Star Trek fan. I was never a huge original series buff, but I respected it and when the first of a new wave of Star Trek movies came out back in 2009 with a new cast I frankly expected not to like it at all. I saw it in the theater though, because it’s Star Trek and because I got free tickets, and I couldn’t have been more wrong. I was happily surprised to find a film that showed respect to the original cast and series while laying the groundwork for perhaps a new series of movies. The film wasn’t loved by everyone, some of the old Trek fans didn’t like the idea of what amounted to an “alternate timeline” Star Trek universe, but I was fine with it. It was fun and funny, it had drama, action, and great takes on all of the familiar characters. When Into Darkness was released I was excited. Please, if you do watch Into Darkness go rent the first movie and watch it before seeing this one. Vital information is there, and you’ll have a richer movie experience. Of course if you’re reading this review, odds are you’ve already seen Into Darkness anyway.

Into Darkness does a lot of things right, let me start there. The characters are still well written, and almost all of them are well-used. Sulu is the only one who doesn’t have a lot of screen time, but everyone else is here the way you remember them from the previous feature. The villain is portrayed by Benedict Cumberbatch (I just love that name), who may not be well known to American audiences, but I know him and loved him for portraying the eponymous character in the BBC’s Sherlock series. If you haven’t seen it, do yourself a favor and check it out, it’s just terrific. The acting in here is essentially first class, even by Alice Eve playing the character of Carol Marcus (careful Star Trek viewers should know that name). Her main function seems to be taking her clothes off and looking hot, but she does serve a purpose later on.  The special effects are, as you would expect, excellent and flawless. The action is great, particularly when you meet Benedict’s character for the first time, the dude is just a badass. Most everything in this film works.

The problem here is the plot. This sets in about halfway to two-thirds of the way through the film, when we learn Benedict’s character’s name:  Khan. Yep, Khan. THAT Khan! For those of you who haven’t seen Star Trek II or have no history at all with the original cast, you will probably go along and enjoy the movie just fine, because you don’t know any better. Have fun. Those of us over the age of 25, however, or who have seen the previous films are likely going to be less enthusiastic. As you’ve probably guessed, I’m referring to the fact that this film recycles the plot of perhaps the most revered Star Trek movie of all.

There are two big reasons J.J. Abrams should NOT have made this the plot of his new Star Trek film. First, you’re always going to be compared to the original film, and when the original was great you are going to suffer by comparison, plain and simple. That is taking a big risk, and honestly I can respect taking a risk. The second reason is a doozy. The emotional impact of this film, when Kirk dies, is barely even felt. This scene is what the entire film is working up to, the emotional centerpiece, and it doesn’t quite work. This is for several reasons. The original film was with characters who had already had lots of years together, lots of adventures; they were a family and there were close emotional bonds that the audience resonated with. When Spock died in Star Trek II it was devastating. The entire audience was in a state of shock, and then they were in tears when Kirk gave his eulogy; the movie just wrung you out emotionally. There is no close emotional bond between this Kirk and this Spock. They’ve had a total of one adventure. One. They don’t even know if they like each other and they barely trust each other, they are just at the beginning of their relationship. There isn’t a rich history between this cast for the audience to connect to, so you don’t feel the punch during the finale, even if you *haven’t* seen any of the original films or series. Another reason is that the rest of us have already seen it. And seen it done better! Also you know Kirk will not stay dead, and lo and behold he’s revived before the film is over. This is because Abrams had no choice in the matter, he’d painted himself into a corner. If Kirk stays dead everyone knows what the third film will be about, a similar recycled-style plot along the lines of “The Search for Kirk.” Then you’ve got audiences thinking all these new Star Trek movies will just be remaking the old ones. Can’t have that. If Kirk comes back to life then why should we be that upset that he dies? Any experienced movie-goer has seen that a dozen times before.

So at this point we know what to expect. At some point someone will yell “KHAN!!!” Sure enough, it’s Spock, because Kirk did it in the original. The problem is this Spock doesn’t love Kirk enough to be that emotionally wrecked by his death, they don’t have a history that supports it. In fact not much has really changed between them from the beginning of the film–where we are told in no uncertain terms Spock would have left Kirk to die if their positions were reversed. Spock goes nuts anyway and everything devolves into a stock fist fight between Spock and Khan. Spock gets the hell beaten out of him, Uhura phaser-stuns him a bunch of times, Spock then gets the upper hand but they can’t kill him because they need his blood to save Kirk. The villain doesn’t even die (why not, because in the original he did?), robbing us of any satisfaction of his defeat. The original had the finale on their respective starships, in space, with Kirk and Spock out-thinking their nemesis. Star Trek should be about the triumph of the mind, not resolving the entire plot line by punching people out.

I give Benedict full credit for doing everything he could to make Khan great. He did as well as one could expect from any actor, and as I said I was already predisposed to like the guy. He just had the weight of history working against him. I don’t think the characterization went as far as it could with Kirk, because this film was supposed to be his coming of age. He gets kicked off the Enterprise because he “doesn’t respect the chair” and by the end of the movie you are supposed to believe he has learned what it means to be captain through hard experience. I didn’t feel that. Not because those events wouldn’t have been enough, but because I didn’t see it in his performance.

Instead of getting a great new original story like the previous film, we get this. It’s a shame, because these movies were building a new generation of Star Trek fans. Maybe I’m being over-dramatic. After all, if you haven’t seen the originals this will be an enjoyable movie. Not a great one, but a good one. It will still be entertaining. But it could have been so much more.

Well…crap.


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Something that irritates me, and some advice

Okay, so, here’s a thing that bugs me. I should say beforehand that I don’t really know how this whole blog thing works. I mean I could be doing it all wrong, look at what I’ve written just recently for Pete’s sake, I don’t know what I’m doing here. Is it just to rant about stuff, is it to talk about stuff I think is cute, am I supposed to talk about my philosophy of a happy life? I have no idea. I’m just gonna go ahead, nobody’s reading this crap anyway.

So here’s a thing that bugs me. I am not a sheep, and so many others are. I could be referring to a lot of things with a statement like that, but in this case I’m talking about daring to not like something the majority does. Whether this is a series of books, or a television show, or a famous person, you name it. I usually get the same response, which is indicative of an unwillingness to accept that I have a different opinion. Here is an example of the response I’ve received multiple times from multiple people over the years on this one issue. I’ll say to my friends that no, I haven’t seen the new Harry Potter movie because I don’t like Harry Potter (yeah it’s true, deal with it). What’s the response? “Oh, which movies have you seen? Have you read the books?” These are trick questions; it doesn’t matter what I’ve seen or what I’ve read. Invariably, unless I say I have seen them ALL or read them ALL it’s not good enough. I need to see one more movie, read one more book. This pisses me off.

One reason I say I’m not a sheep is not just because I give myself permission to like or dislike things that are not in accord with the majority, but that I can accept when others do the same. BTW I usually handle this personal assault with more restraint than what I want to say. I will tell folks that I root for Harry’s death in every movie just to jab em, but I don’t tell them what I really feel, which is that I wish Voldemort would take his wand, shove it so far up Harry’s ass that he’s screaming in pain and then hit the nuke button. See how nice I am? 🙂 I did like the character of Snape though, he had the most depth.

I absolutely love Dante’s Divine Comedy trilogy. Didn’t know they were making trilogies in the early 1300’s did ya? They were making trilogies way before that, but that’s a different blog entry. Anyway I have scarcely had a better reading experience in my life, and that’s a significant statement for someone who’s as big a reader as I am. But when I tell others about it excitedly and they say they tried but didn’t like it, do I encourage them to read even more? No. Why? Because I’m an adult! I have the ability to distinguish between wanting to give someone the opportunity to enjoy something I have enjoyed, and browbeating someone into doing something they are definitely not interested in. Other people don’t seem to have this ability. One more example. I have a good friend who absolutely hates Liam Neeson. Hates him. He doesn’t want him to die in a plane crash or anything, but I don’t think he’d shed a lot of tears if Mr. Neeson did. Anyway, when I see an enjoyable movie with him in it, I don’t go and encourage my friend to watch it. See how easy that is?

Why am I writing about this? It happened today. There’s a very well-known anime series that I don’t care for, Rurouni Kenshin. I don’t care specifically for the main character. It’s a pretty long series that went on for 95 episodes and spawned an animated movie or two. I watched every single episode of the series anyway, and the movies. Why? Because I knew someday I would run into folks who love it, and when I said I didn’t they would encourage me to “watch more, just watch more, you’ll get into it!” With great satisfaction I informed him that I had seen every single episode of the show, and the movies, and I didn’t like it. This might sound a bit strange to you, that I would go to that much trouble, but–yeah ok, it is a bit strange. To his credit he handled it well (of course did he have much choice?), and said something like we all have our tastes.

So here’s the essence of this post. Folks, if you are telling someone about something you do like and you hear that they don’t, drop it. You don’t need to reassert that you like that thing and the reasons why. They already know that, and as likely as not they’ll just reassert that they don’t. Especially don’t try to convince them they will enjoy something just because you do. It’s insulting to the person, and it makes you sound self-centered and frankly immature. It’s okay for you to have different tastes than even your closest friends and family, in fact it’s healthy. Take it from a licensed therapist. Or not. 🙂


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I love my Kindle, but…

So, what the heck is up with e-books costing different amounts of money? I can understand printed books costing more. I mean paper costs money so I can understand trade paperbacks costing more than mass markets, hardcover books costing even more, etc. E-books don’t work like that, it’s all digital. No matter how big the book is or how new it is, it shouldn’t cost more than about $7.99. That’s right, I said it and I’m even setting the price!