Monday, November 14, 2016

Movie Review - The Arrival

Spoiler Alert - movie review. I went to see The Arrival, a movie in which Louise Banks', a Professor of Linguistics, played by Amy Adams, class is cancelled when giant heptapuses (like an octopus but with seven legs) in their giant spaceships, 12 of them, don't quite land on Earth, but hover a few feet above requiring a scissor lift to access a mysterious door that opens every 18 hours. The 12 and 18 are never explained. The aliens landed in Montana, which makes perfect sense, as well as 11 other spots on the planet. The Army enlists Professor Banks as a translator because she apparently assisted some time earlier translating something which lead to blowing up terrorists in some unnamed middle eastern country. Anyway, Louise has lost a daughter to an unknown fatal disease, but by the end of the movie in a bit of a time loop I haven't quite unscrambled, meets the man who will be her daughter's father except that at the beginning of the movie the daughter has already died. As usual, as they always do in these movies, Army troops try to kill the aliens and do indeed kill the one Louise and her husband-to-be, a physicist played by Jeremy Renner, named Costello, as in Abbot and Costello. The Sapir-Whorf Hypothesis is invoked, which I appreciated as a student of language, as the difficulty of translating a non-alphabetic language written in black ink smoke- rings in the foggy interior of the spaceship is explored to answer the questions about why they are here and what do they want. And then there's the climactic phone call between Professor Banks and a Chinese general which is never explained but which saves the planet. The General, in the future, informs Dr. Banks at a post-alien-scare cocktail party that she should call him in the past and then whispers in her ear what to say in their past conversation that didn't take place but will take place some number of months ago and which ends a potentially humanity-ending conflagration - a lovely topsy-turvy quantum nonlocality paradoxic mindbender. I love time-loop paradoxes in movies like in The Twelve Monkeys, or Slaughterhouse Five, or that Star Trek episode where the number three keeps appearing over and over again in card games, and rank pins on somebody's collar, before android Data finally figures it out, The Edge of Tomorrow in which Tom Cruise relives an apocalyptic Groundhog Day, or Ground Hog Day in which Bill Murray -well, you all know that one, or Timecop with Jean-Claude Van Damme walking a timecop beat back and forth from the past to the present, or The Terminator movies where a future artificial intelligence sends back the Terminator to kill the mother of John Connor, the head of the future resistance, and in one of those time-warp paradoxes is impregnated with her son by Kyle Reese, a human sent back from that same future by her son to protect her. "There's a storm a' coming," says that Mexican gas station attendant. "I know," says Sarah Connor. Anyway, it was an interesting movie I'd see again sometime for sure, unless I already have. Rotten Tomatoes gave it a 93.

Friday, November 11, 2016

I am now in the Resistance

On this Veteran's Day 2016, I am remembering my Dad's and his brothers' service in WWII in the Navy fighting fascism and pondering our 2016 election to the Presidency of the United States of America -- a fascist. Ponder that. * * * * * * * * * * Russia seems happier with this election than do Americans. ********** In doing my own autopsy on the election, I have several theories as to why Hillary Clinton lost. I can't help but think the third party vanity candidate Gary Johnson helped elect Trump; I can't help think the FBI's announcement re. new emails found in Anthony Weiner's computer helped elect Trump in a "tipping point" fashion that did not show up in the polls until election night. And systematic voter suppression of minority voters and gerry-mandering of Congressional districts succeeded. Beyond those, I can't help but think the Democratic National Committee's perceived manipulation in the Clinton v. Sanders primaries helped elect Trump. It was also Donald Trump fanning the flames of inchoate anger in segments of the population who are racist and sexist. It was a sustained vilification campaign against Hillary Clinton for decades by Republicans, it was the news media's tendency to "normalize" Trump's behavior that all helped elect Trump. Another aspect is the Big Lie. If you tell a Big Lie over and over again it become accepted truth. In the case of Donald Trump, he lied about everything, not just one thing. Over and over and over and the news media, with the exception of a few fact checkers rolled over. For example, moderators of debates decline to do fact checking. It's no longer the Big Lie --- it is Ubiquitous Lying all the time about everything.....I can only hope the news media holds a President Trump to a higher standard than they did for candidate Trump.......* * * * * * * * * * President Trump may find that it is far easier to be a demagogue than a President. * * * * * * * * * He will, of course, claim a mandate despite losing the popular vote. The man who claimed the entire election was "rigged" is ascending to the same office once held by Abraham Lincoln after coming in second. * * * * * * * * * **I'm watching videos of young people protesting across the country and can't help but wonder what if the election outcome had been different: I suspect we'd be watching protestors from the KKK and various militias armed with AK-47s and people would be dead. * * * * * * * * Hillary Clinton gave a moving and gracious concession speech. Do I think Donald Trump would have done the same had he lost? Not for one second. * * * * * * * * * * I tried to reassure a Muslim student of mine today that she had friends who would look after her........and that most Americans are decent people. She was worried. The same is true of LGBTQs, minorities, the disabled, and others, as well. * * * * * * * * * To Melania Trump: Dear Melania - Now that you will be the First Lady, go back to college and get your degree. Surely there are community colleges in DC and suburbs. Set an example. Sincerely, Bud Cassiday * * * * * * * * * * There is no bright side to any of this that I can see. Women's rights to control their own bodies are at risk, people's health care is at risk, equal rights for minorities and LGBTQs are at risk, economic growth is at risk, religious freedom is at risk, freedom of the press is at risk, clean air and water are at risk, our very planet is at risk. It might be a generation before the damage headed our way can be undone........if even then. Martin Luther King said the arc of history bends toward justice; I hope so.

Friday, November 04, 2016

Election Special Edition - Nov. 2016

A few thoughts on the upcoming election - The man who said having lots of sex was his Vietnam experience, that going to a military prep school was more rigorous than serving in the army, who got five deferments from the draft and says he wouldn't want to share a fox hole with John McCain, is on third wife, had five bankruptcies, led the Obama birth certificate nonsense, dissed John McCain for getting shot down, has on-going bromance with Russian dictator Putin, says Mexicans are rapists, wants to deport 11 million men, women, and children, says he would block Muslims from coming to the United States, lied about giving money to veterans and other charities, likely paid no income tax for 20 years for losing $1 billion of other people's money while claiming to be worth $10 billion, is enthusiastically backed by the KKK and other white supremacist groups, says he might default on America's debt, doesn't know Latvia from Ecuador, encouraged Russia to spy on the Democratic National Committee, bragged about sexually assaulting women, has been accused by a couple dozen women of such assault, walked in on naked young women at Miss Teen USA contests, promised to spread more nuclear weapons around the world, and is about to have two criminals trials commence, one for child rape and another for fraud, says Hillary using wrong email account disqualifies her from the Presidency. * * * * * * * * * * * As near as I can tell, Republicans want to privatize everything in Washington DC but the Secretary of State's email server. * * * * * * * * * Much of the American electorate is still trying to process the factors in their vote for the President. On the one hand is a lying, racist, fascist, mean-spirited, ignorant, con-man, sexual predator with the emotional maturity of a 3 year old, who wants more nuclear weapons in the world, and the other a former First Lady, Senator who used a private email server when she was Secretary of State, which, btw, was not prohibited at the time. What to do? What to do? On balance, it doesn't seem like that difficult a choice to me. Andy Borowitz, a comic genius, said, "We've made so much progress in this country that a woman with forty years of public service can actually dream of narrowly defeating a man with no experience whatsoever." * * * * * * * * * * * * The Chicago Cubs won the World Series of Baseball, although the only two countries participating are the US and Canada. Anyway while watching the other night I was imagining what it might be like to face a 96 mph fast ball. I'm guessing I would faint and pee my pants. Not necessarily in that order. * * * * * * * I remember batting against an Exeter pitcher named Dennis Hall way back when when I was a base baller in Friend, Nebraska. In those little leagues, the pitcher's mound was about 12 feet away and this kid Dennis was about 8 feet tall as I remember and was widely thought of as the best pitcher in Saline County, if not the entire United States, that is, if Exeter is in the same county as Friend. I'll look it up later. I was maybe 12 or 13 and was 5'9" and weighed about 130. I'm pretty sure my knees were knocking and I think I closed my eyes and swung when he pitched a 300 mph fast ball and I somehow hit a bloop single to right field, so I really don't remember what that pitch looked like. But I was standing on first base, much to the pitcher's dislike. I really don't remember the rest of the game, but I do remember that "at bat." And I'm pretty sure my pants were dry. * * * * * * * * * Oh, and I'd be a lot happier for The Chicago Cubs if they weren't owned by the Ricketts family. * * * * * * ** * * * And yes, my calendars are still available. $20. email me at One nice thing about my Art by Cassiday 2017 calendars is that there is no Presidential Election in Nov. 2017.