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Is the proof in the pudding?

I didn’t want to address the Bill Cosby rape allegation scandal but it’s part of a larger discussion needs to be had. I’m personally making a choice not to use names in this post since I’d prefer for people to pay attention to the words and not the feeling behind the name. I feel that any time we use names outside of identifying who we are talking about it causes them it (the people) to trend and makes it about them and not the larger issue.

For better or worse we have to deal with out US legal system. That is where we are to assign guilt. It’s not always possible they don’t always get it right but that’s the system we have.Just because he’s settled out of court before the civil case went to trial doesn’t make him guilty. However if someone has multiple accusations of rape over a number of years that seem quite consistent in the way it’s carried out there’s some reason for concern. These accusations were also made in a time where detailed information wasn’t as easily available for possible corroboration.

I can see the potential multiple instances of a young woman/women being raped, wanting to tell someone and either not having the courage because of the transgressors star power or being dismissed when telling someone because the other person was unwilling to listen or believe.

Much like the former Clippers owner all of this information was a matter of public record for years. We collectively have very short memories and news cycle is ever-changing. 8 years ago this was a national news story. The difference is there weren’t many people on YouTube to view the a comedian reference it in a routine. There’s a case to be made if it would have been uploaded in the first place since fewer people had camera on their phones.

There wasn’t a social media like we have today for people to carry on a discussion. The era of sweeping things under the rug is gone. That’s a bad and good thing. For someone who’s innocent they can be tried in the court of public opinion and the facts can be lost. For others, they are given a place to air grievances when the justice system fails and bring attention to issues and information others may not have.

Does this taint my view on the accused, no. But that’s because it’s not the first I’ve heard of this. I’m not going to grab a pitchfork anytime soon. I’d rather focus on ways to reform what went wrong rather than just pile on one specific situation. First, stop questioning women if they were raped. If someone goes to the police and say they were robbed they aren’t questioned if they are sure because they don’t have wounds.  Next, self defense during an attack should be taught be a reputable source not a reporter (Looking at you Don Lemon). There has been a call to reform the rape kit processing system. The stories of the backlog are deplorable. . Finally, there needs to be an overhaul of training for all those responsible, from responding officers to prosecutors.

I suggest we take this as a lesson that no one is above reproach and we shouldn’t be quick to dismiss claims nor should jump to conclusions.

I will leave with this 1969 route where Cosby has a bit that with all that has been reveled seems to have shady undertones.

So what do you think?

 
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Posted by on November 19, 2014 in Viewpoints

 

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Why I stopped being a (casual) Redskins fan

When I was a child the Redskins was more of an event than a team. I remember my dad talking about them as if they were force of nature. I recall my dad’s friends coming over for games and the camaraderie of sharing in the highs and lows. This culminated in the 92 Super Bowl. I was nine and my paternal grandfather had recently died and my dad flew back home to attend the funeral. The game was Jan 26th, my dad’s birthday was the day before. My mom and I went to pick him up from the airport. I remember it was cold and I was bundled up. We had made a sign saying Go Skins Go and Happy Birthday. That Super Bowl, which was also the last the Skins won, will always stay a lasting memory for me.

The very next year Gibbs retired and the Skins had a horrible season. It was just about this time that Michael Jordan and the NBA took over my Fall and Winters. Sure I still watched Skins games but this was the 90s it wasn’t like I had a choice. There wasn’t a local AFC team and everyone was a Skins fan. It was just about watching football. More and more for me it was about seeing the big named players on the other teams. This is was in a time before wall to wall ESPN and the internet. Once I reached high school, Jack Kent Cooke was dead the team had moved out of RFK and I had moved on. I was older and therefore paid more attention. Snyder seemed, on paper, like a good owner. He was a local and really into the team. His first year as owner they went to the playoffs for the first time since their Super Bowl run. This was also the beginning of “who’s the QB?”

It's the QB bunch

It’s the QB bunch

In my 20s, Sunday became a reset day where I’d sleep off my Saturday nights so I only ended up seeing either big games or what ever was the 4pm NFC game. As I got older the Skins fans that I knew became more, obnoxious. I’m for smack talk as  “I’m better than you” not “You suck”. There is a difference. The Skins weren’t great.  So the team wasn’t producing and the fans were insisting that everyone else were crap. Each new fan I met at college parties were people I just couldn’t stand. It wasn’t the regular just root for the home team. I’m speaking about the just will not shut up fan. I’m speaking of the middle of summer asking “Who’s your team” acting offended when I respond with Orioles. If I were to begrudging respond with the Skins they would almost always launch into a ten minute diatribe about the Cowboys, Eagles or Ravens. I try to be polite, and would try to change subjects. I’d say I didn’t care just to get out of the convo. I began just saying I didn’t watch football just to avoid those conversations.

This wasn’t true I still liked football just not the Skins. There was a potential light. The arrival of what many in the DMV called the second coming; Robert Griffin III. I knew of him from my college football viewing, but with the turnstile approach of the team figured he would have a breakout season or two and then end up on another team like so many players in the past.  There were talking heads that brought up his knee and how much the team gave up in picks to get him. For what it’s worth he had a great rookie season going 10–6 and winning the NFC East championship. Off the field the team decided to move further away from DC by choosing Richmond for training camp. The following season what can I say? Worst season in almost 20 years. Just as I began to care again.

What I haven’t addressed to this point is the name controversy. It was definitely a deciding factor in why I’ve broken all ties with the Skins. I was already a casual fan. It wasn’t just the name in and of itself. I’ve known since high school that there was people who took issue. It’s not that the name is offensive, which it is, it’s that the owner has over and over given two middle fingers to the Native American community. It was the “Never Ever” statements. It was the Washington Redskins Original Americans Foundation. This is insulting on a whole new level. People have issue with the name so Snyder attempts to do charity work by naming the organization the politically correct name of original americans but then slaps “Washington Redskins” in front of it. I have to assume he’s doing this on purpose. There’s no way that any publicist would say that was a good idea. He must be surrounded by yes people.

I still like watching football. MLB season is over in October and the NBA really doesn’t pick up until around Christmas day. So what was I to do? I’m not going to root for the Ravens. First, I don’t do purple. Secondly, I’m not rooting for a team that has a history like the Ravens.  Finally, NFC > AFC. Then there was the process of elimination. I couldn’t choose another team in the NFC east.  The South can do whatever it is they do. What remained was NFC North and West. A big factor was the division rivals. If you follow a team you gotta know their division. Right now The west is the most talked about. Super Bowl champion Seahawks and their rivalry with the 49er is big. The amount of coverage the Rams will get with the drafting of Michael Sam. All solid. Yet no individual team stood out. I was however pulled toward the Lions. The NFC North has a history as the Black and Blue division. The Lions also don’t have a cheerleading squad.. After reading the lawsuits against teams and the NFL, it was a factor. The Lions president Tom Lewand  said that they are very comfortable being a team that doesn’t have cheerleaders.  I also have a long love for Detroit. Many of my favorite films begin, are set in or end in Detroit.  I was already used to the disappointment of the Skins so this seems liked a good fit. They put up good plays. They just hired a new coach Jim Caldwell who worked under John Harbaugh and Tony Dungy. It doesn’t hurt that they have a top  20 QB and running back and one of the best wide receivers currently playing.

In closing I’m sure by making this official,  the Skins will have a breakout season or at least do better than the Lions. That’s just my luck. I’ll still feel good in my choice and can’t wait to see how my new adopted team does this season.

 
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Posted by on July 27, 2014 in Sports, Viewpoints

 

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Two Movies One Plot : Deep Rising (1998) and Virus (1999)

They both start on ships and get on bigger ships, but only one ends up on a lonely island.

Released  a year apart Deep Rising and Virus seem on the surface to be very similar in plot; motley crews of morally questionable characters discover larger seemingly abandoned ships and bad things happen. Yet once the layers are pulled back it’s easy to see which has more entertainment value and why one is a cult favorite and the other is a joke.

 

Deep Rising was released in January of 1998. I was originally going to star Harrison Ford who would have fit as the rogue captain. I think he could have pulled it off.  Once he backed out, the production budget was decreased and that may have caused the movie taking a hit in the special effects department. I think this was a plus since it made for a more streamlined and  tighter film that focused on the characters.  No one was “good” in this film. The captain, played by Treat Williams, is a Han Solo, Malcolm Reynolds type. He has a sense of duty but money runs his life. He takes a job taking a group of mercenaries somewhere in the South Pacific because “if the cash is there we do not care”.

Their destination is a luxury cruise ship on it’s maiden voyage. The mercs plan to take over ship and are bringing along a huge armament with rockets and gatling assault rifles. Jean Grey is aboard the cruise ship and is a thief after the vault independent of the mercs. Just after she’s caught, the mercs inside person shuts down the ship and then an unseen creature attacks. We don’t seen much of it for a while, just cutaways and lots of blood splatter.

Once everyone meets up it becomes more of a survival get off the ship and the heist plans are abandoned.  The cast is full of unknown knowns. The captain of the cruise ship is the South African who Killed Rigg’s wife in Lethal Weapon, Kano from the Mortal Kombat movie, Kevin J. O’Connor etc. There’re some good deaths and B-movie banter and puns. Any movie that has a chase with a jet ski inside a cruse ship get’s a thumbs up from me. The final location left thing open for a sequel but I felt it was more of a fun nod to the main protagonist’s catchphrase

 

Yes this happens

This happens

 

 

Virus was supposed to be released in the summer of 1998 but was pushed back to January 1999.  I don’t know if this was due to Deep Rising having just been released, but that’s my theory.  This film has a more well known cast. The captain is Donald Sutherland who is wasted in every sense of the word. The second in command and navigation is Jamie Lee Curtis. She’s there to be the tough female lead, until it’s time to be scared, scream and be rescued. There’s also one of the better looking Baldwin brothers. This film is about a completely  amoral captain and his salvage crew that loses it’s cargo in a storm. While taking refuge in the eye to make repairs they come across what seems to be an abandoned Russian research ship.

Before we continue I have to make special mention of Cliff Curtis. He has the special recognition of appearing in both films. Interestingly he plays characters in both films closer to his nationality. (New Zealander), than many of his other roles. This guy has played almost every race

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.

We were all scared of Smiley
We were all scared of Smiley

 

Anyway, the crew boards the ghost ship and realize if they can tow it to shore they get the salvage rights. It’s a multi million dollar research vessel so they each have a big pay day coming, if they can get it moving again. They notice bullet holes all over the ship and electrical cords cut everywhere. They don’t care they have dollar signs in their eyes. As soon as they restore power their own ship is sunk and a lone survivor tells them that “it” needs power and they must stop it. As required in all films, we take a while to get to what “it” really is and a number of people need to get attacked before everyone is in agreement. There’s some running around and trying to communicate with the life form to discover what it wants. Obviously the extinction of mankind because the only sentient life beyond out planet would hate humans.  Who wouldn’t. The lone black guy loses it and runs off saying he’s not going to be spare parts for some cyborg army. He runs off reminiscent of the bald dude in Predator 

I have to give Virus credit that between the two movies it passes the Bechdel test. In Deep Rising the two women never know of each other’s existence. More crew are killed and turned into cyborgs. The remaining crew realize the life form is sending the ship to a nearby British satellite installation so it can send itself to any and every linked system in the world. (OK Lawnmower Man) They have to sink the ship as it’s the only way to stop it. They flood the engine room with fuel and run back into the magical negro who says he has a plan to escape. President Snow meanwhile, made a deal with the life form and got turned into cyborg willingly. After maybe five lines and some 80s Clash of the Titans fighting he gets taken out like a Terminator

Jamie Lee is taken alive after a fight with a larger machine and it actually asks her does she speak English. Now I get that it was a Russian ship but it’s been stalking them for a few hours and when they talked to it earlier it spoke to them in English. Also if you’re going to have character asked if they speak English there’s only one proper way to ask. She gets rescued there’s a chase and one more fight with a larger machine. They come across what kind of fun Bagger Vance was having. He built a bomb and and rocket propelled ejection seat. Only those with famous last names get a ride and survive.

Between these two movies, Deep Rising knows it’s a B-movie and has it’s tongue firmly in it’s cheek. There’s winks and nods to film fans from the introduction of the anti-hero “I thought you would be older” to the final scene on a beach which for years was speculated to be the island from Lost. Virus, however,  doesn’t even know what it wants to be. Science fiction, horror, no one knows. Jamie Lee herself uses it as an example of a bad movie she was in.  There’s no reason to watch Virus but if you get a chance check out Deep Rising.

Speaking of ships and boats…..

 

 

 
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Posted by on July 22, 2014 in Movies, Reviews, Viewpoints

 

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Video Games: The Movie; The Review

This was an interesting documentary. It’s more about the technical aspect of how video games began and were they are going. There’s plenty of nostalgia from big name game creators. I have some great memories of the beginnings of the Nintendo era. I wasn’t as into it as others. I grew up an only child so I spent as much time outside as possible and played most games over at a friend’s house. What I like about video games is the stories. they create entire worlds that they allow us to play in. They allow us to interact in a way that movies and music cannot do.

There’s been a debate questioning if video games are art. I don’t see how they aren’t they combine engrossing stories, amazing musical scores and visuals that rival the biggest summer blockbuster. What is art is subjective but if Jackson Pollock is considered art, video games are art. Watch clips from “Last of Us” and tell me there’s no art.

They lightly touch upon licensed games that were and still are produced just to cash in on a popular movie. There was a time where every big action movie had a game based on it . Either the game was released around the same time as the movie or very shortly after. Even non action films received games. The most famous example of this is the E.T. game for the Atari system that had just little over a month production time and was so bad that it and many other poor selling games were buried in the New Mexican desert

It’s like The Mystery of Al Capone’s Vaults but with a pay off

Not an urban legend

 

They covered Nintendo and Playstation fairly . How they were weren’t video game consoles; they were entertainment systems.  How people wanted to play as characters like Mario.  Many of the biggest games you pay as someone and not something like games of the past like “Space Invaders” or “Pong”.

I don’t think they did enough with the coverage of the rise of the ESRB and congressional hearing on violence in video games and how they are always the scapegoat whenever someone commits a violent public act. There was a great quotation asking why is it that many other nations play the same games yet don’t have half of the acts that are blamed on the medium.

I feel they also missed the mark when addressing women and gaming . From the number of female protagonist to women in creative roles. This is something that’s becoming bigger as more people speak out but for many years all we saw of women in games were the damsel in distress. There have been a few but the are easily outnumbered by their male counterparts. There are plenty of games that changing the gender wouldn’t impact the gameplay or story in any significant way. The latest excuse for the new Assassins Creed game was that it would take more time to animate a female. Which is complete bull shit since not all women a particular way. Hell in some parts of the world women pretend to be boy and men not to get killed or to go to school   In fact Marie-Anne Charlotte de Corday d’Armont was put to death for the assassination of a journalist during the French Revolution. 

That being said Video Games: The Movie was entertain and informative enough for those who know little but really like playing games. If you’re a real hardcore gamer you would appreciate some of the interviews they had, and wish they went on longer. I say see it and support it so more documentaries about video games area seen by the general public.

 
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Posted by on July 20, 2014 in Games, Reviews, Viewpoints

 

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The Christians are “Persecuted” in new movie

I was on Rotten Tomatoes looking up reviews and came across a page for the movie “Persecuted”. I saw that  James Remar, Bruce Davison, Dean Stockwell and Fred Thompson were all cast members. My interest piqued so I clicked on the trailer.

 

I had to immediately pause. Gretchen Carlson? That doesn’t bode well for the legitimacy of this movie.  It appears set up as Christian thriller. I don’t take issue with that. It’s a genre that has a built-in audience. I have a problem when they paint the Christians as completely innocent and right and those who oppose them as evil. There are many shades of grey and nuance that would be nice to show up in movies like this more.

The plot is a senator wants to pass a religious reform bill and he needs the support of TV dad to everyone James Remar. Remar is a pastor who according to the trailer reaches more people than the evening news. This is a trope that appears over and over in political thrillers. A singular person stands in the way of the bad guy(s) from getting their way. They can’t kill the protagonist because it would be to suspicious or it would galvanize and make their supporters who would become more hardened. So instead they make up convoluted plots that no basic person would believe.

There are plenty of other films that paint the religious (Christian) as crazy fanatics. Those  who just randomly quote passages that seem bible like and are willing to kill and believe the most insane things. This is the other side of that coin. That the bad atheist/shadow government types will destroy the faith and go to any means to further their agenda

I came across something interesting while looking up this movie. The campaign of the Senator who’s after the pastor is named SUMAC. Poison sumac is a shrub that causes a rash and is more toxic than poison ivy and poison oak. 

Not long after seeing the trailer online. I saw a TV promo from the movie.  This flashed across the screen and again it was a pause worthy moment:

Never trust misleading reviews

Never trust misleading reviews

Despite very little marketing thus far, the movie’s trailer was recently No. 1 on the iTunes “most popular” list, a feat insiders attribute to a robust Facebook page and the ripped-from-the headlines themes that the movie explores.

 

Persecuted comes out July 18th and I know I’ll end up watching it at some point if not to see what deus ex machina resolves the plot.

 
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Posted by on July 18, 2014 in Viewpoints

 

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Avenues of Anger

 

Streets of Rage may my favorite game. I love RPGs like Fallout and the Elder Scrolls series and stealth games like the Metal Gear and Splinter Cells series, but the simple story of Street of Rage speaks to me on a deeper level.

The original game debuted in 1991 for the Sega Genesis. It’s the story of three former police detectives who fight back against the corruption and gangs in their city led by Mr. X. The game consists of side-scrolling beat ’em levels where the player(s) defeat wave after wave of enemies. The game play isn’t mind-blowing. There are plenty of game that are similar. What makes this game special to me it the music and the story.

That is one of the greatest game intros ever. The music influenced by the times was very club music, which is now called EDM, was a big thing. I know this is pure uncut nostalgia for me. Hearing the intro or music from a specific stage is like mainlining positive childhood memories. Games that I’m exposed to or play seem to have generic synthetic pop that have no heart or soul. The rest use the popular songs of the day. I’m indifferent to most and the rest I actively avoid and only hear them when playing sports games. This was the first game I played that had a different ending theme if the player chose the evil ending.

The story. Pure 90s action. A mysterious Mr. X has taken over the city. The people in power are all paid off. Cops, politicians, everyone. The first game gives little in the way of  much else to the story. That being said, it’s one of my favorite game storylines. A city gets taken over and it’s cops who decide to fight back. It’s not some ex CIA soldier or Special Forces. It’s the cops from the city who after trying to do things within the system become vigilantes. They on their own except for one officer who’s used as a special attack and fires a rocket that takes out all enemies on the screen. Later games add the friends and younger brother of one of the protagonists from the first game. There did end up being a playable character who was a kangaroo. I mostly disregard that entry.

 

I know it’s a videogame, but a kangaroo?

 

With so many other games sequels year after year and remakes. I don’t know why this can’t be one of them. The advancement in-game technology could make a great fun game with more than just fighting. Games like Ninja Gaiden, God of War and Bayonetta are examples of modern games that could be used for inspiration.  I don’t want them to start running around with guns but I’d like to add some exploration and collectables that progress the story and help get a more complete ending. Maybe you have to find all the hidden documents to find out Mr. X’s true identity.

If I can’t get a new game I wouldn’t mind a movie. The simplicity of the plot lends to a plot that could be fleshed out. It could even be expanded into a trilogy. Part one is the rise of Mr X. The main character are still on the force trying to stop a new rise in violence. Part two could be a year later and the city overrun  over and falling apart. This would be most of the original game. Part three  would expand on the twist, as any good second film in a trilogy has, and set up a great conclusion.  Then again it could fall into the hands of the worst director for video game adaptations.

 

Or Is It?
Or Is It?
 
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Posted by on July 15, 2014 in Viewpoints

 

Broken Tail Light

I came across the following PSA about the life of undocumented immigrants. Supposedly the message is  something as innocent as a broken tail light can have long-lasting consequences.

There’s just a few issues with this PSA. First, why isn’t that child in a child safety seat or at least have on a seatbelt? That’s just poor directing. An officer would have given her a citation for that. Depending on the jurisdiction she may have to have a child restraint system. If you’re going to do a PSA about traffic violations you should make sure that you have the basic bases covered. Secondly driving is a privilege not right. People don’t get to drive without a license. There’s no excuse on this. There are plenty of people who don’t have access to a car. Driving a car requires a license, insurance (where applicable), and the vehicle registration. Finally, if she doesn’t have a photo ID  the officer is going to detain her until she can prove her identity. That’s not an immigration status thing, that’s doing his job. She could be wanted for taking that child. He has no way to corroborate who she is.

I’m sympathetic to the immigration issue. I understand that there are some laws that are impossible to follow since the current state of the immigration system is broken. I get that. There are examples of people who are on foot profiled and then detained because they don’t have ID. That’s different. You don’t have to have ID to walk. This PSA misses the mark since her lack of  paperwork isn’t about her immigration status, it’s about her legal status to drive the car.

 

 
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Posted by on July 14, 2014 in Viewpoints

 
 
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