↓ Archives ↓

Posts Tagged → good

Dune 2021 Movie Review

Setting aside Regal Theaters’ ear-splitting volume emitting from every theater room as well as the one we sat in, and setting aside our thoughts on the 25 minutes of shallow woke commercial bombardment before the 2021 movie Dune even started, we did enjoy the movie, if not the venue.

A cult classic movie, like the 1984 version of Dune, is usually a cult classic for good reasons: Excellent acting, good props and sets, good costumes, and fealty to author Frank Herbert’s vision all make the 1984 Dune movie a timeless classic with a cult following. You can watch it once a year and never grow tired of it.

Yes, to follow the 1984 version, a viewer must already be somewhat familiar with the book Dune and with its general story line to begin with. But it covers and tracks well with a lot of the 1,000-page book’s territory. For example, the 1984 Dune has a highly compelling and truly evil Baron Harkonnen, literally bathing in the blood of his slain enemies and reveling in the blood of a sexually molested slave boy whose heart plug he just pulled in front of his two nephews (one of whom, the actor Sting, evinces morbid fascination and horror turned to sadistic glee all too well).

Fast forward to Dune 2021, and now our evil Baron Harkonnen is merely deeply brooding and kind of distantly menacing. That he is surrounded by black-clad ministers of evil and a brutish thug nephew, and that he bathes in black used motor oil to “heal,” makes him icky and probably really bad. But we see no blood-baths, no sadistic glee as the vulnerable innocents twitch their last under his daintily painted finger nails. He doesn’t even look for Duke Leto’s ducal signet ring as the helpless prostrate mess breathes its last, a boring scene which contrasts poorly with the believable 1984 Baron, whose unfulfilled lust for the Atreides signet ring is foiled and gives way to howls of rage.

The same distance is observed between the Duke Leto Atreides character of 1984 and 2021. One radiates nobility and dead seriousness, while Oscar Isaac acts here exactly like he acts in every movie in which he appears. Which is to say weak. Oscar Isaac is literally the same character in Dune as he was in Star Wars. He emits no gripping leadership, exudes no magnetic charisma at the head of one of the universe’s greatest armies that we admire in the book and in the 1984 movie.

And again, the 2021 movie’s lack of the Sting character, Harkonnen Feyd Rautha, nephew of Baron Harkonnen, removes what was in the book the evil Harkonnen foil to young and good Paul Atreides. As House Atreides represents good, honor, justice, fairness and clean living, House Harkonnen is everything opposite- murder, coercion, violence, cruelty, sadism, greed etc. Throughout the book Dune, and in the 1984 movie, the two nephews (who turn out to actually be related by blood) ever more tightly circle each other, coming closer and closer to an in-person showdown knife fight to the death. All of this foil effect and symbolism is absent the 2021 movie

While the 2021 movie has fantastic special effects that are blended with just enough gritty sand to make them believable, today’s movie lacks the true grit, grime, and desperate feel of the 1984 version.  The 2021 space ships are superior to the almost pathetic hand-drawn ones of 1984. However, in 1984 the freaky-looking mutant spacing guild navigator folds time and space by shooting light beams out his mouth and ass, thereby connecting two distant parts of the universe and moving an entire army across the distance between the two points “without moving.”

We get no such mouth or ass action in 2021, and it is a true loss. Because no matter how good your special effects are, and no matter how much your movie watchers are supposed to innately know that eight thousand years from now weapons and space travel are really high tech, your viewers nonetheless want to see how that high tech moment is attained. That is the point of watching a movie. Having a bunch of spacing guild navigators show up in 1960s NASA astronaut space suits with their visors filled with a pink fume just does not cut it (when the Emperor’s representatives visit Caladan). That scene is oh-so Star Trek and Star Wars, and we who are in 2021 are  supposed to be oh-so-beyond those passe genres.

As much as I expected to be bothered by the woke racial aspect of the 2021 Dune movie, because Hollywood has done such a good job of butchering otherwise ok movies on the altar of PC, I was pleasantly surprised at how well it worked. In case you missed it, Hollywood now demands that non-white-skinned people appear in all kinds of movies in roles that were originally written by, of, and for white-skinned people. As a result, this ‘woke’ virtue signaling gone super foolish now has unfunny black women trying to play the humorous roles of truly funny Italian and Jewish guys in Ghost Busters IX or whatever. Go woke, go broke making stupid movies appealing to no one but Hollywood insiders.

But here, in this movie, the roles are believable. Even the role of Dr. Liet Kynes, who in the book is a tough guy, and who in the 1984 movie is played very well by a big tough guy, is now switched to a black lady. I think she carries the role off well and believably. And so do the varied multi-racial Fremen, whose skin tones run from crusty white to deeply black. The 1984 movie had some blacks and American Indians in military roles, which was avante gard for its time. Here, the pursuit of heterogeneity is not forced, and it flows. Thank Shai Hulud.

In sum, the 2021 Dune movie is pretty good. I say A for weapons and action acting, B for acting, A for special effects, C+ for script, A for props and sets. My son said they should have simply used the 1984 script verbatim or close to it, and he is right.

It is easy for me to say that it could have been better, and I am but one lone watcher in a sea of watchers. But then again, I am a customer and my opinion is supposed to count with the people selling this movie. After all, Dune is the first movie I have gone to see in a couple years, maybe even three years. That is because Hollywood has turned out endless nonstop trash and junk that is either not entertaining, or not meaningful, or shallowly PC woke preachy and annoying. At this point, I now simply refuse to transfer my hard-earned wealth into the pockets of Hollywood America haters. When a decent movie comes along that promotes family, loyalty, fearless stoicism and fearless warriors, vision for a better future, risk and sacrifice, why then Hollywood can expect a donation from me.

This Dune was part one, and that is one of its main superior aspects over the 1984 movie, which tried to do too much in too short a time. To serve up the book well and just, one must convey it in bites that can be consumed and digested. Such is part one here. I am looking forward to part two, and hopefully more intensity and inward awareness from the protagonist, Paul M’uad Dib Atreides aka Timothee Chalamet.

Gaza or everything you love: Your choice

Gaza. Poor, poor Gaza.

The ultimate self-victim, the impoverished and destroyed Gaza Strip is the compressed store house for every bad, wrong, foolish, selfish, suicidal, stupid, short-sighted, and self-defeating choice any group of humans ever made or could make. Like launching thousands of randomly aimed fatal missiles at their next door neighbor, and then falsely claiming victimhood when the neighbor defends themselves.

Mentioned in the Bible as one of the great Phoenician strongholds (‘Aza), Gaza’s failure today is Biblical in every way. While the place and its present day human population do deserve better everything, and could have it if they but willed it, its human population has also consciously determined that being miserable, phony symbolic martyrs is their highest and best use. Gaza the ever-martyr serves one purpose: To destroy Western Civilization.

What is Western Civilization? Whether we call it Christendom, Europe, America, Australia, or Judeo-Christian values, it is a rare democracy of republican institutions that diffuse political power among its citizens, rewarding free choice with maximum individual liberty and minimal government power. Open societies, whose governments are owned by The People, not by warlords.

Nothing could be more different from Gaza (or Syria, Iraq, and other self-destroyed Middle Eastern nations etc) than Paris, London, St. Petersburg, Venice, Rome, Madrid, or Manhattan. Willful decay, poverty, and constant pointless warfare on the one hand, juxtaposed to great communal celebrations of freedom of thought and conscience, science, and mutual beneficence on the other carved in stone.

Gaza’s role is to worm its way into the mind of Western Civilization and play Iago, always questioning what our eyes and ears plainly see and hear, and placing the blame for their misery not on the merciless ideology of Gaza’s Hamas, or on the infestatious Arab colonialism that carved up the current Middle East, nor on brute Islamic imperialism, but on the world’s beacon of light, Western Civilization. Gaza’s siren song is playing to the shallow desire for many affluent Western people to virtue signal that they are not really as bad as they might be thought. That they are soft hearted for even the worst of murderers.

And so Western “journalists” — come on, they are open propagandists and partisan political activists, not arbiters of accuracy or truth — broadcast totally false images back into Western Civilization that blames us for what we see happening over there.

These false images are crying parents, grieving over the dead propaganda prop children they allowed Hamas to use as magnets hidden among their missile batteries that targeted children in Israel. Or the destroyed building that the Associated Press knowingly shared with Hamas’ most important people, in addition to missile batteries on its roof, raining down on kindergartens in Israel. None of the sadness for Gaza the media portrays back home is true. It is all false.

Truth represents the penultimate achievement in Western Civilization, and every decision we make is ideally for truth, for the common good. Few other civilizations now or in the past sought truth or common good. Most great civilizations sought power and domination, and most still do today. Democracy and freedom are outliers, and truth is anathema to most governments around the world.

So the idea that a tiny nation of seven million Jews is somehow an unjust outpost in an area a thousand times Israel’s size is a preposterous idea. Most Muslim Arab capitols house more Muslim Arabs than there are Jews on the entire planet, so how Israel’s Jews are a threat is another preposterous idea. Only the most simple minded, careless people can identify with Gaza or its self-manufactured unhappiness.

A month ago, when Gaza was bombarding its neighbor with thousands of missiles, a nice man emailed me. He asked what I thought of the situation. Knowing that my views are generally conservative, I believe he thought I was going to bend the knee and worship the false graven images being broadcast back into our homes by the lying media. And gosh, was the international media ever full of that junk! My response was:

*Flatten Gaza

*Defend Western Civilization

*Do not reward or give in to violent crybullies

The war between Gaza and Israel is the war between good and evil, Hitler and the West, all that is good versus all that is wrong and bad in humanity. Western Civilization cannot afford to cry for Gaza, especially because Gaza does not cry for itself. To allow Gaza to shape Western Civilization is for Westerners like the people who read this blog to throw overboard everything that our own civilization represents. I know this following statement is really difficult for a lot of Westerners today, especially the young, but grow a pair of balls and make a stand for what is right and just and good.

Support Israel, oppose Gaza.

Whatever your religious belief, our nation now basks in goodness

Christmas is America’s national holiday, and while there are many Christians reminding fellow citizens that there is a more spiritual and faith based core to the holiday, it is, in fact, a glorious time of year no matter what your religious beliefs may be.

Seven days ago, Hanuka began on the 25th day of the Hebrew month Kislev, as usual. Just after Hanuka ends this year, tomorrow night, Christmas will then begin on the 25th day of the Gregorian month of December, as usual.

The two holidays are naturally linked, as early Christians both tied their new religion to the parent faith with a holiday (“Holy Day”) on nearly identical dates, and then separated from it from Hanuka with a new holiday, “Christ’s Mass,” which has been turned into a conjunction, Christmas.

Much has been said about the Judeo-Christian roots of America, and our Christmas holiday is just one more example of that shared religious basis of our nation’s founding. It is a testament to the tolerant and open sensibility at the root of American identity, to shared values among many different people.

You don’t have to be Jewish to like Jewish-style rye bread, and you don’t have to be Christian to enjoy Christmas. Every American should enjoy Christmas, and wish one another a Merry Christmas. There is no declaration of faith in that, but rather it is a declaration of love for all things good and for a shared, common identity in a truly good nation.

Probably the only really good nation on the planet: We have the rule of law, more opportunity than anywhere else, the highest standard of living, etc. Christmas crowns that all at the end of the year, and it reminds us that the sum total of our year is simply good.

In that spirit of goodness, I wish all my fellow Americans and our many guests here Happy Hanuka, and Merry Christmas!

Despite digital technology advances, actual humans are necessary

Digital technology is amazing, no doubt about it.

Yes, it enables all kinds of speed in research and communications.

But the internet has also inspired a “digital wall” response to basic inquiries that used to be handled by people answering phones.  You cannot just pick up a phone and ask someone a question, any longer.  Instead, you must navigate a maze of circular questions and answers and phone tree options, long before you get to hit the star key or number one and talk to a person.

eBay is the prime example of the digital wall.  You cannot get real customer service at eBay.  eBay’s digital artificial intelligence is supposed to satisfactorily respond to all customer issues, but it doesn’t.  It is a failure.

One online commenter says “It is easier to talk with the Pope than to actually speak with a person at eBay,” a sad but true fact that I myself have learned the hard way.

Here in Pennsylvania, the Tom Ridge Revolution for responsive government is looong over.

Remember how back in the 1990s, Governor Tom Ridge opened up Pennsylvania state government with a crowbar and a box of dynamite, and got the scurrying inhabitants of the many faceless concrete government buildings in downtown Harrisburg to actually view taxpayers as “customers”?

Maybe you don’t recall that time, but it was refreshing.  Suddenly, state workers at most agencies were required to actually answer the calls of the taxpayers they serve, and to act professionally, and to help resolve problems.

PennDOT was at that time a notoriously labyrinthine experience, kind of like the Vatican, one might guess, in that if a taxpayer was fortunate enough to find an IN door, they might spend a day shambling down shuttered halls with closed doors with jargon printed on them, searching yet more for the answer to their government-inspired problem.

The workers there at that time could not have cared less for serving the public, and no one took any initiative to make them serve the public, until the Ridge Administration arrived.

Then, PennDOT was required to post phone numbers, email addresses, have customer service representatives on call, so that no citizen had to waste their time trying to make sense of the bureaucratic maze while to trying to meet some official mandate.

After all, if the government is going to require something, then the government absolutely must provide the means to achieve that.

Well, now PennDOT is back to its bad old ways.  The foolish young punks running the disastrous Corbett Administration into the ground at Mach 4 wouldn’t know a damned thing about customer service or taxpayers, for that matter.  PennDOT has been allowed to crawl back under a heavy cloak of secrecy and impenetrable darkness.  Go ahead, call PennDOT.  Try to reach a human being through their main portal:

“Call 1-800-932-4600 (from within PA) or 717-412-5300 (from out of state). You can also send an email through our Driver and Vehicle Services Customer Call Center, or write to the following address:

Riverfront Office Center (Driver and Vehicle Services)
1101 South Front Street
Harrisburg, PA 17104-2516
1-800-932-4600

Oh, you will hear a human voice,  which right off the bat asks you that if you want to continue in English, “Press One.”  Imagine my surprise when I just held the line, did not press one, and was shuttled off into yet another maze of foreign languages, as if just wanting to encounter my own government in our native language was something we should have to ask for.

Anyhow, the phone options in English are another maze of options and circular loops.  One answer gives the locations of  service centers, but saves providing you with the hours for each one until the very end, as if you might actually recall which service center was “one,” “two,” or “three.”

This is the very essence of Bad Government.

Government absolutely must be responsive, open, transparent, or it is illegitimate.  If it cannot serve its citizens and taxpayers, then government has failed.  Once government has failed, it cannot hold citizens to a higher standard.

Governor-elect Tom Wolf faces a Republican legislature, which is not likely to go along with his tax-and-spend approach to government.

Well, here is an opportunity that is guaranteed to make Wolf a hero among all citizens: Force government to open up again; get our taxpayer-funded bureaucrats to be responsive, or get out.  No more digital walls for the people who pay the bills.

And maybe Wolf can talk to the owners of eBay, and persuade them to provide real customer service, too.

People ask me why

For some people, politics and political activism are their bread and butter.  Politics pays their bills.  With the right clients, they can make millions of dollars out of politics as a business model.

For me, politics is about personal liberty, freedom, opportunity and many other inspiring principles behind the founding of America.  It is also about the little freedoms we have that emanate from the bigger ideas:  The freedom to drive or walk somewhere without having to prove that you belong there, the freedom to choose where to live, the ability to select from a wide assembly of fresh food, to name a few popular ones.

Call it an innate sense of justice and right and wrong, which family and friends have said I’ve had since I was a little kid, or call it a lack of patience, an inability to watch, participate in, listen to, or tolerate BS/fluff/empty slogans/lies/self-interest, whatever it is that motivates me, I am passionate about good government.

Good government has been a passion of mine since I was a teenager, when I first got involved in political campaigns.  Back then, I was horrified at the way abortion-on-demand was changing our culture, I was against gun control, and nuclear missiles scared me.  Later on, watching police beat non-violent pro-democracy marchers in South Africa motivated me to put my voice behind change there (note that now the monumentally corrupt and un-just African National Congress government there is hardly better than the overtly racist apartheid government it replaced).  Age, paying taxes, and work experience have a way of shaping political views for normal people, and I was no exception.

So here I am, living a life that has meaning for me, trying to shape Pennsylvania and American politics in ways I believe are healthy, necessary, and just.  The citizens and taxpayers who are supposed to be served well by their government (of the people, by the people, for the people) are not being well served today.  This is why I am involved in politics.  That is why I will not go away, at least not until things are fixed to my satisfaction.

When the government just takes your land

About four years ago, Pennsylvania state government created a new regulation setting aside 150-foot buffers on waterways classified as High Quality and Exceptional Value.

This means that 150 feet from the edge of the waterway up into the private property, it’s designated as off-limits to most types of disturbances.

The purpose was to protect these waterways from the effects of development.

The end result is an obviously uncompensated taking of private property by the government. When the government takes a tape measure and marks off your own private land and says you can’t do anything with this huge area, or a road is going through, you’re simply taken advantage of. You’re robbed. It’s Un-American.  It’s unconstitutional.

Pennsylvania is a great state. I love living here. It’s saddening to see such top-down, command and control, clunky, one-size-fits-all regulations in this day and age. We can do so much better than this approach.

To start, create incentives for landowners to go along. Give tax credits and write-offs for land taken by government.

Do we all want clean air, soil, and water? Sure. Breathing, eating, and drinking clean air, food, and water are necessary to surviving. But that’s not the question.

The question is HOW we pursue those goals.

Requiring American citizens to simply give up their investments, with no compensation, creates losers in a system that was originally designed to make everyone a winner.

Instead of pitting government against the citizens, we need policies and laws that help and serve citizens, that are fair to citizens. That is by definition good government.

This current 150-foot buffer regulation is by definition bad government.

Oh, those funerals…

If you live long enough, you get to go to increasing numbers of funerals.

Friends, colleagues, family, acquaintances, leaders you admire, they all begin to fall as time marches on.  Because each of us is already “born terminal,” dying is a natural part of living.

Of course, it is not necessarily the dying part that is upsetting at a funeral.  Unless the particular ending is unexpected, violent, or tragic, what gets me is the sudden absence of the qualities that particular person brought into the world around them.  The absence of their warm personality, their humor, their bravery, their way of thinking or looking at and solving problems, friendliness, and so on.  Whatever vacuum suddenly appears in the wake of a deceased person is the foil to the wonderful qualities the person had developed over a lifetime.

Recently I participated in several funerals, all for older people whose families loved them very much.  At the last one, hardly anyone cried during the eulogies or the burial, not because the person was so horrible, but because they had lived such an utterly full and meaningful life.  She had squeezed every available drop of opportunity, family, love, and community from her time on Earth.  No one felt sad, because she had lived so well and had made so many people feel so good about themselves, and instead, there was much laughter and chuckling.

At each funeral I find myself somewhere in the back, musing, contemplating, listening, and reflecting.  There is not one deceased person I know, or knew, whose abilities, talents, personality traits, character, and strengths I did not wish were my own, in some way.

I am a pretty hard-charging person.  Trying new, entrepreneurial business models, speaking out about my own ideas and beliefs, challenging political orthodoxies I believe are destructive of American liberty and individual freedom, not to mention the outdoor adventures I do each year that put some wear and tear on my increasingly stiff frame and joints…all of this makes me the person I am, now.

Hopefully, with the increasing number of funerals under my belt and the personal qualities I see getting buried each time, I will be a better and improved person as I try to take on some aspect of the person we lost.  Bear with me…

Huffington Post: No democracy for you!

A Huffington Post headline reads “Congress Inaction Prompts Obama to Act Alone.”

American civics class 101 teaches citizens that the executive branch cannot act alone, not really. If Congress is inactive, the president can only enforce laws that are on the books. He cannot create new laws. That would be dictatorial.

Ah-hah. There’s the point. Obama fans LOVE his dictatorship. Unashamedly.

Just remind us of that love when we have a new president from the other party, surrounded by angry citizens demanding retroactive corrections to the Obama years. You’ll learn to love it then, friends.

Warmer weather can’t come too soon

What began as a happy trip to the wood shed for a load of seasoned oak in the Fall is now a crabby trudge through deep snow and ice, a drudgery opposite the cheerfulness felt with the first flames to beat back Winter’s early chill.

Spring warmth cannot come too soon.  Naturally, it will arrive, melt the Arctic snow cap occupying my lawn, and probably result in some Biblical flood carrying my home down river to the Chesapeake Bay.

Speaking of floods, and flood insurance, I am hopeful that the insane congresswoman Maxcine Waters will have her bizarre legislation permanently overturned, so that people can either afford to own their homes (something she is not familiar with or supportive of) or the Federal government will buy out the landowners so the societal costs and benefits are not concentrated on just the private property owners.  Government cannot change the social contract in one week.  Well, under liberals it can, of course.  Let’s rephrase that: Government should not restructure the social contract in such a short time that private property owners see their investments destroyed overnight.  That would be good government, something unknown to Maxcine Waters and her fellow liberals.

Happy New Year!

Friends, here is to a happy next year, a new year, The New Year, 2014, for you, for all of us.
And thank you for being part of my past year, which was good in so many ways, thank God.
Make it count.
Josh