The Michael Moore Challenge

The Michael Moore Challenge

Some people estimate that Michael Moore’s worth is 100 million or better, and in his new movie he declares that capitalism is evil. Since capitalism is merely property and the trading thereof, I call on Michael to stop relishing his own evil by giving every penny he has away. Every bit of property, every car, all his clothes, all his stock portfolio all represent evil if he truly believes the theme of his new movie, so he should stop being a hypocrite and give it away, all of it. It’s EEEEVVVVUUUL.

The opposite however is true. For every evil Moore can point at from capitalism, a hundred or a thousand goods can be pointed out as well. Moore, like all socialist/marxist idealists fails to recognize that capitalism is a primal force of human nature that is a pure outgrowth and necessary evolutionary adaptation to our social environment.

While capitalism has flaws that can be exploited by those who are evil it certainly has fewer of those than any possible replacement. The real evil is in denying the reality of human nature which keeps us muddling towards a better outcome for all — even though it’s sometimes by fits and starts. When capitalism is interrupted then there are great wars and grief, and when populist ideologues try to force  change to natural order then great evil results. (see “The Last Bloody Century” )

Marxism, socialism, and the associated philosophies are banal, piteous, last century, and more than that they’ve been debunked, defenestrated, and are deceased – killed by time, reality, and dreams of a free future. It’s a new century Michael and communism is dead, so either give over your goods or get real and join us in this century.

Fork and Screen: New Movie Experience

Fork and Screen: New Movie Experience

rendering_homeAs part of my wife’s birthday gift the kids took us to see the latest Harry Potter movie at AMC’s new “Fork and Screen” theater in Olathe. It seems a bit spendy when you look at total price, but if you compare it to other movie outings for the family it actually fares better. Ticket price was $20.00 each, but included ten dollar vouchers for the meal. Since we spend nearly that much on movie tickets and refreshments anyway (we average 15 to 18 dollars each,) and then still go to a restaurant afterward I consider this a steal.

The experience includes a bar, dining, and a wide recliner. No, not a fake recliner, but a motorized almost too reclined chair with a foot rest. They also have “no children” showings, which is great if you want to see that kid’s movie without all of the distraction that comes with an all-kid audience.

The food was good, the chair was comfortable, and the price tag actually came out less than the usual movie and restaurant that we do. You also save some time, so what’s not to like? I’ll be doing this for most movies I see henceforward. One thing the marketeers might have done better: “Beer and Screen” would draw a larger audience…

Verdict: Great concept well executed.

Even a Man Who is Pure of Heart

Even a Man Who is Pure of Heart…

moon-obscured-by-branches-a “and says his prayers by night, may become a wolf when the wolfbane blooms and the autumn moon is bright.”

When I was a kid I lived for staying up late on Friday nights and watching the horror movies that were on then, like The Wolfman with Lon Chaney. It was one of the few things that tended to bring me out of my near- autistic world of otherwise incessant reading, and it was cool because horror movies were never as scary as my own imagination and what I read in books like Babi Yar or history books.

There was one movie of the supernatural that really did make me afraid, it was called “Black Sunday”  (no, not the one with Bruce Dern in the Blimp, even though that is much scarier nowadays…) After watching the moody Italian gothic film about a vampire witch resurrected after having a spiked mask pounded into her face I was so frightened that when I hopped into bed I used the side rail from the bunk bed to turn out the lightswitch by leaning far, far, over, and nearly falling out. I did that because I did not want to walk from the lightswitch to the bed in the dark.

I laid there with the covers up to my chin and then heard a small scratching noise. Of course I had to look… and there in the closet was that face, that demonic mask, looking back at me. I could see the blank eye sockets, the shape, the grim mouth… it was indeed the most shocking thing I had encountered until that time, and I am certain that I was blanched and pale white.

I laid there for five minutes, or so it seemed, paralyzed with fright. I was unwilling to call out, my father was in Viet Nam, and I sure didn’t want to call my mother in because that thing might get her or my sisters.

Then it was that I decided that it could not be real. It hadn’t moved a twitch, and something inside me told me it could not exist. I had a long mental conversation to convince myself that it could not be. There was however only one way to know for certain. So sweating and pale I climbed out of the bunk bed, facing it the whole time, and walked up to the closet and put my hand on the mask I saw there.

The shadow of my hand blotted it out a moment, and I felt the closet door smooth and wooden beneath my palm. I moved my hand again, and that mask distorted again. Then I followed the light back to my window where the moon was shining through the curtains – forming by weird happenstance a simulacra of the mask from the movie with light and shadow.

I went back to the closet and looked closer – noting that the mask wasn’t perfect, that there were gaps and flaws. The knotholes in the pine pattern on the door that formed the eyes were  lopsided. I couldn’t make myself see it as the mask again, even though my unbridled imagination seeded with a grim image from a chiarascurro film was able to fill the gaps and make the perfect image of that mask in my mind before I had touched it.

That’s the night that I became a rational human being; someone who knew that the mind is both fallible and suggestible, and that knowing meant having the courage to challenge assumptions and perceptions through testing.

A couple of notes: If you haven’t seen the movie I recommend it, it’s a classic horror movie that was certainly ahead of it’s time, and the cinematography is still a reference point for some.

The moon photo above was shot this way because the normal telephoto moon shots I take wouldn’t work due to high thin clouds and wind. So instead you see tree branches in a long exposure blurred by that same wind. If you click on the thumbnail and view the large version you can see the traceries repeated. Synapses in moonlight.

Oh, you ask about the scratching noise? That too I found. When I placed the rail for the bunk bed back after using it to flip the lightswitch, the paper/linen composite tag for my pillow was caught between the rail and the holder. When I moved my head it would move the tag, and the sound was amplified by the wood of the rail.

The Dark Knight of Our Souls

The Hero and Terror

The Dark Knight portrays a quintessential struggle between good and evil in in a fantasy setting that’s an allegory for the real world and the larger struggles within it. It’s the movie about the war on terror that Hollywood cannot and will not force itself to make.

Hollywood has made several attempts at war movies, but they cannot help but be perniciously moralistic in purveying their political views in them.  There’s no choice to make other than to not watch if you oppose those views. Nobody goes to see those movies because you know how they will be. Our troops, the US, our institutions are almost always portrayed in them as bad. Who wants to see them when most people, even if they disagree with the war, know that the US is not wholly bad?

When you start from the concept that all war is bad no matter the motive, then you end in a moral quagmire where the good becomes the bad and evil gets ignored, or worse, justified.

The Dark Knight is breaking records and many will see this movie multiple times. They will see it not because of the special effects, not because of the great acting, not because of the superb editing or directing. They will see it instead because it portrays heros who must make moral choices over and over throughout the movie. They must choose between life and death, good and evil, they must choose between happiness and misery, they must weigh and judge.

I’ll not spoil the movie with specificity about those choices, but among them are the choice to confront or submit to terror, to sacrifice happiness for the greater good, to choose between life and death, to submit to venality and easy path or to persist through pain and horror.

Most of America and our troops will love this movie because in every scene those moral choices are made during The Dark Knight moment by moment by moment. They will recognize those choices for they also have to choose, to judge, to decide. In the case of our troops every choice in the movie is one they’ve already confronted and chosen rightly on.

The poster says “Welcome to a world with no rules” but the nihilistic and Nietzschean statement gets overuled by laws and choices: those laws that the universe and reality present us with, and those choices we make to build purpose within it. Watch for the choices in this movie if you would grasp meaning from it.