Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Review Of Predestination

Predestination is the name of the latest sci-fi offering from Michael and Peter Spierig. There are no car chases, no torrid sex scenes, no aliens, no cowboys and sadly, no Indians. Somehow, it is still quite an entertaining film.

The 97 minute story stars Ethan Hawke as a professional time traveler working for a mysterious agency whose task it is to "make things right" by preventing crimes and taking out bad guys. At the beginning of the movie, we find Ethan tending bar in 1975 New York. A guy walks into the bar, sits, begins drinking, and a conversation ensues between him and Mr. Hawke.

Sarah Snook
Now, it wouldn't be a story if there wasn't more to it, right? The guy at that bar (played by Sarah Snook), as it turns out, has some legitimate gender issues and, on a bet, tells Temporal Agent Hawke his life story. He/she had a complicated life that began in a Cleveland orphanage as a young baby girl. Later, she is accepted by a government entity to train for specialized work, ostensibly working in outer space. However, as her story reveals, she becomes pregnant and is released from training. During childbirth, it is discovered she has two full sets of internal sexual organs, one male, the other female. Unfortunately, or fortunately depending on your point of view, there is damage due to the pregnancy and birth. The doctors fix her up but leave her with the male equipment, opting to make her completely male. Jane, now John, is recruited by our Temporal Agent barkeeper to work at "The Bureau."

I'm sure all this sounds rather far out and unlikely but the Spierig brothers handle it all adeptly. The acting is superb, especially Ms. Snook, and the plot pacing doesn't leave time for confusion. If it does, remember that it's only a movie and you can watch it over again.

Predestination uses time travel to explore ideas of fate and individual choice as well as how much control we have over who we are.

The film story is adapted from a 1959 Robert A. Heinlein short story. Key lines in the movie have double meanings and every plot point is intricately connected.

Predestination is a puzzle, a mystery, but then, what successful story isn't? Not everyone is going to like this movie because they might have to think a little in order to keep up and, like I said before, there are no car chases. Despite that, Predestination is worth the time. Very entertaining. Two thumbs up.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

How To Be Happy

Everybody wants to be happy. Right? Well, not necessarily. There are plenty of disturbed individuals out there who actually derive meaning from being unhappy. It helps them to form their reality, like those who believe they've suffered and have made it their life's purpose to correct the perceived reasons for their suffering. See? such reasoning can give meaning to someone. At least, for a while.

Anyway, forget those mental cripples for a moment and remember that most of us want to be happy in some way or another. Our daily commitment is to find the means to make us happy so we work at it. Unfortunately, for one reason or another, many of us come up short.

The truth is, most people are sabotaging themselves. Grouches have certain traits in common. For one thing, they hate their jobs, so there is no satisfaction in where they spend most of their hours away from home. I mean, let's face it. Most people spend eight hours or more at work five days a week. If you hate your job, it's likely you'll hate your life because you’re spending 40 out of the 168 hours in a week doing something that makes you feel awful. You take that anger and frustration home with you where it festers and grows and spoils your home life. The solution is obvious. Make a change. I’m not saying go out and quit your job tomorrow. Instead, take an aerial view of your life. Why don’t you love your job? What’s missing? Is it the career itself? Is it your boss or your company? What’s your passion? What are you good at? Take time to answer these questions and then make a plan to move towards change, however long it takes.

Lots of people say that if they had more money, it would solve all their problems and they could find that elusive, happy place if only they had enough. This attitude couldn't be more wrong. If you're unhappy in a hut, chances are you'll be unhappy in a mansion. Now, you may be more comfortable, but you won't be any happier. Don't believe me? Research has shown that being rich won’t make us any happier. What one needs is to be able to comfortably pay bills without worrying about finances.

Unhappy people are constantly trying to replace their dissatisfaction with consumption, whether it be alcohol, food, or shopping. The problem is, happiness can’t be consumed, it’s cultivated from within. Fulfilling material desires only brings fleeting happiness.

On the other hand, financial uncertainty can make us unhappy so, like the job situation, this might be another chance for evaluation. Do you overspend? Can you downsize? Can you minimize your life so that you can afford it? Maybe you're just self-centered and selfish?

Not selfish? Are you sure? Well then, maybe your unhappiness is linked to your activity level. You have to move to feel good. Do you sit all day? Is your butt the size of a small mattress? Try getting up and moving around. Walking for a half hour every day works miracles. It's not just moving, either. It's also about engaging your mind, and that doesn't mean watching television. Find active hobbies that make you work your mind and your body and get to it.

Unhappy people are in the habit of being unhappy. They have restless minds. According to Science News, “[a] wandering mind often stumbles downhill emotionally. People spend nearly half their waking lives thinking about stuff other than what they’re actually doing, and these imaginary rambles frequently feel bad, according to a new study.” The more you can focus on what you’re doing when you’re doing it, the happier you will be. Meditation or concentrating on one thing allows you to learn to focus on the present moment so you can actually live the life you’ve been given.

Most unhappy people are lonely. Bear in mind that being alone does not necessarily mean being lonely. It could be, one is lonely because others avoid them -- because they're hard to be around. They say cultivating relationships is important for both our health and our happiness. That doesn’t just mean how good you are at social networking. It's not the amount of friends you have on Facebook. Unfortunately, more than a few of us view our laptop as our very best friend. Single or not, married or not, it’s good to strive to make friends and to keep them. This goes for family relationships as well.

Some people don't like where they live. Maybe they have allergies and actually need to live in a different climate to gain some sort of physical relief. But alas, we often feel stuck in our lives. We may live in a town we don't like and aren’t sure how to change the situation. Is it the town or is it you? Who says you have to live in the same place your entire life?

Unhappy people often find mental relief with pets. Not saying you need to own a pet to be happy, but those people who keep pets have a love and responsibility outside of themselves that gives them a purpose. Pets serve as support and provide unconditional love. So, maybe adopting a pet will part the clouds in your life.

I've saved the best and most honest for last. The number one cause for unhappiness in people is that they just don’t like themselves. You see, we make ourselves happy by the way we view life and by learning to enjoy the moment. We make ourselves happy by the way in which we view ourselves. By opening our hearts to opportunity we find peace. If you dislike something about yourself, change it. Otherwise, you can never be happy.

To put any of this to work, obviously you've got to get real. You've got to be honest in your self-evaluation. That's the first step. Second, form a plan. Third, stick to it. Doesn't hurt to develop a good sense of humor too.

Here's a little story about an unhappy man: A woman accompanied her husband to the doctor’s office. After his checkup, the doctor called the wife into his office alone. He said, “Your husband is suffering from a very severe stress disorder. If you don’t do the following, your husband will surely die.” The doctor continued, “Each morning, fix him a healthy breakfast. Be pleasant at all times. For lunch make him a nutritious meal. For dinner prepare an especially nice meal for him. Don’t burden him with chores. Don’t discuss your problems with him, it will only make his stress worse. No nagging. And most importantly, make love with your husband several times a week. If you can do this for the next 10 months to a year, I think your husband will regain his health completely.” On the way home, the husband asked his wife. “What did the doctor say?” To which his wife responded, “He said you’re going to die.”

Saturday, November 22, 2014

The Day The World Changed

November 22, 1963 was the day President John F. Kennedy was shot in Dealey Plaza at downtown Dallas, Texas. Today marks the 51st anniversary. There was a time when most Americans knew what happened on the date, but it seems to be slipping into the past and not so many readily recall it anymore. When they do, it brings up scenarios of conspiracies and somehow, a collective guilt that encompassed not only the city of Dallas, but the state of Texas and conservatism in general. JFK was, after all, a democrat. But that was back in the day when democrats were, well, patriotic.

They nabbed a guy named Lee Harvey Oswald for killing the President as well as a cop named Tippit in South Oak Cliff on the same day. Oswald was hiding in a movie theater but someone had seen him enter and called the cops. Oswald said he didn't shoot anybody and claimed he was a patsy. We never got to find out for sure because two days later, while being transferred from police headquarters in downtown Dallas to the county jail, he was shot and mortally wounded by a shady character with mob connections by the name of Jack Ruby in full view of live television cameras.

I was just a kid at the time, but I remember thinking it was a crime committed in order to cover another crime. So Ruby shot and killed Oswald because he was upset about Kennedy being murdered. That's what the media said. Well, okay, sure, that makes sense. I guess.

Despite the Warren Commission's findings in 1964 that Oswald acted alone, the House Select Committee on Assassinations concluded in 1974 that there had indeed been a conspiracy but nothing ever came of it. Don't believe me? Go read some books.

John Kennedy most likely stirred up the wrong people, powerful people in high places, likely connected to both the criminal world and national security agencies. It was hard to believe then and it's hard to believe now. All the same, Kennedy's brother, Robert, the Attorney General, was murdered five years later as he was campaigning for President.

Oh, what a tangled web. By now (2014), it doesn't take a professional conspiracy analyst to see that Kennedy was murdered by a group of powerful conspirators. The thing is, big things are still going on before our very eyes to the point where the media should be asking the public, "Who are you going to believe, us or your lying eyes?"

In any case, rest easy, John and brother Robert. You boys apparently tangled with the wrong folks.

By the way, I've read mucho plenty books about the assassination and during the course of checking a few facts for this article, I used Wikipedia and discovered what appears to be a striking bias towards the lone gunman theory in all references. That's not only unfair, it is inaccurate, but it goes to show the direction Wikipedia is headed. The internet is slowly going the way of the mainstream media where truth is often distorted and sometimes buried altogether.

Edit: I watched a video series this week entitled "The Men Who Killed Kennedy." I highly recommend it to you truth seekers out there.