Copyright

All blog posts, unless otherwise noted, are copyrighted to the Author (that's me) and may not be used without written permission.

Thursday, May 31, 2007

The White Whale

Call me Ismael.
 
I went to Albertson's today for lunch. I ordered the Italian Delight. I said, in my clearest English, "I would like the Italian Delight exactly as it is written up there on that card. Nothing else." The woman to whom I spoke this plea was the manager of the department. I figured if anyone would get it right, understand me, and get me the sandwich the way I want it, it would be her.
 
Now, the card for the sandwich lists that it comes on a baguette, yet the lady asked me if I wanted it on a baguette... not a good start. It also lists ham, cotta and genoa salami, provolone cheese, lettuce, tomato, pepperoncinis, and Italian dressing. I figured I could remove the tomatoes. The way I ordered it was bound to get me everything else and nothing I didn't want, right?
 
Well, sort of.
 
The manager of the department, the only one in the department who lists English as her native language, decided that mustard and mayo are on that list. I've had this argument with her before. She firmly believes that, although the condiments section of the board (up at the top, separated from the sandwiches and ingredients list) says "your choice of," it really means "add to the sandwich unless the customer says not to." Which I don't get.
 
If someone came up to me and asked for everything on a list, exactly as that list states it and nothing more, I simply wouldn't think to add additional items to it. I may ask them about those items, figuring they haven't seen them or may be unaware they have those options, but I wouldn't just add them without asking.
 
It comes down to quality of effort, I guess. When I worked retail, if I was ever confused by a request from a customer, I asked rather than assuming. I believed in the motto "the customer is always right" and would do my best to get whatever it was for them the way they wanted it.
 
So, I sit and eat my sandwich after scraping off the awful mayo and plucking off the tomatoes. The mustard isn't horrible, but combines with the Italian dressing to make an interesting third flavor. I'm going through napkins like mad. The sandwich is overly wet due to having all three condiments (mustard, mayo, and Italian dressing) added.
 
I guess I either need to stop sailing after the White Whale or let it catch me, destroy my boat, and kill me as I stab at it's heart... .

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Spam Filter Failure

I think my Yahoo spam filter just failed. I got a flag saying that I had unread messages in my Yahoo email account. I went and looked-- and there were 500 unread messages! Holy crap, I thought, someone must have used my account on a bad online site or something . As I looked, there was only one unread, new message that was actually for me. All the others were spam messages that, apparently, simply made it through Yahoo's spam filter. Now, this filter isn't the best in the world, but it usually keeps most of the flack from my actual Inbox. Maybe one or two a day make it through, but that's typically it. 497 made it through between my checking that account before lunch and that flag popping up shortly after lunch.
 
Just now I went to check again, maybe 15-20 minutes after having cleaned up the entire list and getting my Inbox back to where it should be. Another 97 spam messages were waiting for me. there were 53 spam messages in the Bulk email folder, so it was still functioning; so why had so many made it into my actual Inbox?
 
I don't know if this means the spammers have hit on a new concept to get around generic spam filters or if Yahoo's just fritz on me today. Either way, that was an unpleasant thing to see.

Friday, May 25, 2007

Good Things Come

I have wanted two things made into movies for awhile now, the Repairman Jack series and The Dark Is Rising series.

Now, while I would greatly prefer that the first book of The Dark Is Rising, Over Sea, Under
Stone, be made first (it is the most cinematic of the novels and would make a great jumping off point), I can understand the idea of starting with the second novel. The final four novels all concern the same character while the first book has two other characters who get the whole ball rolling. That might confuse movie goers who are not fans of the series (to have a first movie with, really, only one recurring minor character that appears in the second through fifth movies).

Well, this year we get to see what they did with it:




Next, while this one is not yet even filming, there is a ton of good news about the possibility of seeing Repairman Jack on the screen as a film franchise:

http://www.repairmanjack.com/news.php#12

How often do you read that the author of the books has read and approved of the script. They (he and the producer) are trying to actually bring the character that people know and love to the silver screen. Now, I'm granting that some of the story lines will likely be simplified and streamlined for the screen, but, even still, this bodes pretty well after 11 years of development hell.

Here's hoping they both turn out to be quality productions.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Marriage

We spoke with Father John on Thursday and I continued to question what the Catholic Church required of me as a non-follower. It is important to M that our church wedding be sacramental, (otherwise what is the point of being remarried in the church?) but I also have misgivings and my own beliefs that also need to be considered.

Originally he felt that I would have to get my parents to attest, in writing, to two things: 1. that my baptism did, in fact, occur and that two important parts were followed (use of water and the trinity in the blessing) and 2. that I had never been married. I explained to the priest that I found this to be sort of a dubious in nature, as we all could simply lie in order to get the marriage to go forward. He understood that aspect of things, but said the church requires some sort of good-faith since we cannot find my baptism records and I am not Catholic.

I pressed a bit more and he agreed to call the Chancery office to double-check what was required of a non-Catholic. He phoned us back on Friday to let us know that those requirements were not needed any more. The church would accept my word on things that I was baptized and that I had never been married prior to M.

He answered a few more questions and we put down a temporary date for the wedding-- which we will share with everyone once we can confirm a reception location for that same date. I will say this much for those interested-- we are looking at early September or later if we have to move the date.

Border Back

It took nearly an hour to recross the border, as the line was long and they did not have the same number of people working as we expected. The woman at the border was also extra curious about our situation; she did not seem to understand that I had flown to Canada on a visit, that during the visit we decided to go to Calais for some shopping, and now we were returning to Canada for me to complete my visit.

However, in the end, she let us go without a search and without further comment. Just sort of hard to explain.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Border

M took me to the border today on a shopping trip to Calais. We have been slowly inching forward to cross for about half an hour now. I can see the river and we're just about to the Canada side.

We brought our passport and marriage licence just in case. I am using M's BlackBerry to write this.

We are now on the bridge over the St. Croix River.

Sick

We went to see the local presentation of Cabaret last night; first, although this is not my cup of tea play-wise, the cast and crew did a phenomenal job. Two of the ladies in the show were very good singers and the EmCee really got into his role with relish!

However, I was a bit anti-social. I stayed in my seat during the intermission and had to run to the bathroom after the show; turns out I had minor food poisoning or something from the sausage we ate at breakfast. It didn't really affect me until we put dinner on top of it-- then it had something to work with and I slowly felt worse and worse. Made M take me home rather than going to the after-show party and I had some additional issues before going straight to bed.

Feeling better today, so it doesn't appear to be anything more than bad sausage. Wheew!

Flooded, Addendum

Alex (M's dad) came over the next day with a good idea; bust up the concrete between the nearby sewer hole and the sump pump and at least get that hole draining to the pump. This good idea seems to have solved all the trouble; it appears that all the drain tile is sloped to cause the water to head predominantly toward that hole with the intent of it draining to the sewer. However, there is no way for the water to actually get into the sewer. Once he busted the hole through to the sump pump, the water has been draining to the pump and it has been going off very regularly. The floor of the basement is not predominantly dry and the stream of water to the pump is keeping the water level from rising too high. Everything seems like it is fixed and back on track.
 
Last step will be to put a false top on that hole and cover the remainder with hydro-cement to seal it. And, of course, to finish the bathroom so the two holes in there can have the same done to them. But finishing the bathroom is farther off than finishing the first hole.
 
Her dad is very handy and I think I will learn a lot from him over the years.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Flooded

When M has told me in the past that her basement flooded, I believed her but I had no mental picture in my head. Where I'm from, there are really only two kinds of flooding: man made/accidental and flash floods. Neither of which seemed to correspond with what she was telling me; man-made can usually be drained off to a safe place once it is identified and flash floods tend to come like a freight train and then disappear just as fast.
 
Wednesday night her basement flooded. We didn't know until lunchtime Thursday when I decided to go down and light a small fire to take the chill off. We knew it had been raining fairly steadily for a few days, but we had been down in the basement and hadn't seen any issues, so thought we were in the clear. As I stepped off the last step of the stairs, however, it was readily apparent we were not. The first step, about as far away from the areas that flood as can be, squished from the wetness the rug had absorbed.
 
We quickly grabbed appropriate shoes and started looking. Nearly every square inch of her basement floor was covered in an 1/8 inch to 1/4 inch layer of water. Her wood piles were getting soaked from below, the few items not in plastic bins were getting thoroughly drenched, and the water had nowhere to go.
 
M's basement is the same size as her top floor; about 1200 square feet. She has installed walls to make a large main area with the fireplace, wood piles, and a spot for reading and chairs. There is a hallway in the center of the basement and off of it are are good-sized storage room, a nice bedroom, and a bathroom. The bathroom and storage room are not finished, but the bedroom has some furniture in it.
 
My friend Matt (former math teacher and my general math guru) tells me, with an average of 3/16 of an inch over the entire floor (1200 sq ft), that we had about 140 gallons (530 litres) of liquid down there! To put that into perspective, the average tank capacity of the largest home water heaters is between 40 and 50 gallons. So this was about three times that amount! Those really large aquariums you see in movies that are the same length as a three-cushion couch are roughly 140-150 gallons.
 
In the storage room is an access to the sewer to which her wash basin is attached. In the bathroom are two other access holes in her foundation to get at other pipes. One is for the tub access to drain, and no one seems to know what the other is for. Anyway, it is from these holes that the flooding occurs. As they are open to the ground below her house, if the water table rises high enough it can just seep right up those holes and into the basement. She also gets a little flooding from her back door, but some landscaping has lessened/negated that aspect.
 
M knew just what to do with one hole, opening up the sewer valve and letting the water there drain into the sewer. I tried to broom some of the water toward another drain hole near her water heater, but had limited success.
 
M called her father, who came over with his tools and finished installing the sump pump. This is a device that you install in your floor that the water from the water table or flooding is supposed to find and drain into. When it does, a float raises and the pump turns on, draining the excess water into the sewer. One problem, though-- once he had the sump pump fully installed and working, it didn't start draining! Even the sewer access hole that was two feet away from the sump pump hole remained filled with water, indicating that the water was not draining out and not seeking the sump pump.
 
We kept the fire burning until we went to bed, and M turned R2, her dehumidifier that looks strangely like R2-D2, on high to deal with the excess liquid. Last night as we were about to head out for a meeting with her priest we heard the sump pump kick on automatically for the first time. So we know it works and we know the water is finally seeking it.
 
Today, the three holes are mostly drained and the majority of the water on the basement floor is gone. However, the remaining water really shows how many areas are not level in her basement. I lit another fire to help with the water evaporation and R2 is still going full blast. I took a broom and spread out the water in those pools to help thin it out and get it evaporating faster.
 
I haven't heard the sump pump go off all day today, but the water level has also dropped significantly. Hopefully we are beyond the worst of it and won't have any further issues. However, I am concerned that the sump pump wasn't working all that great last night (we only heard it activate the one time) and that flooding still may be an issue in the future. Of course, the pump will help for sure, but it may not be the only solution to this situation.
 
One solution that her father recommended is having someone come in and re-do the flooring so that it is purposely not level. Have them slope it so that the entire floor is subtly draining toward the drain by the water heater and the sump pump (which we could leave with an access or drain hole). Also, finishing the downstairs bathroom and hydro-cementing over the two holes there would also greatly reduce the ability of the water to enter in the first place. Water being water, it will always seek the easiest path. If we remove the three easy paths, it may drain more into the sump pump and her issues may be gone.
 
Coming from the desert, it is an odd experience to see this kind of flooding. Had I been thinking, I would have taken pictures and posted them with this entry. As it is, you can imagine our surprise when we saw the vast amount of water inundating her basement.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Jim Emerson's 102 Movies to Become Movie Literate

Stolen from Chris by way of Liz:

1. 2001: A Space Odyssey (hated the first hour and a half)
The 400 Blows
8 1/2
Aguirre, the Wrath of God
2. Alien (great horror movie that just happens to take place in space)
3. All About Eve
4. Annie Hall (meh, not a fan of Woody Allen)
5. Apocalypse Now (still don't know if this is one of the all-time best or all-time worst movies I've ever seen)
6. Bambi (hated it)
The Battleship Potemkin
7. Blue Velvet (Dennis Hopper at his creepiest)
8. Bonnie and Clyde (little movie that could; was in release for over a year before it really found its audience-- you won't see that happen in theaters any more)
Breathless
9. Bringing Up Baby
10. Carrie (that ending still makes me jump)
11. Casablanca (an all-time classic)
Un Chien Andalou
Children of Paradise
12. Chinatown (Jack is in nearly every frame of this picture)
13. Citizen Kane
14. A Clockwork Orange (I hope we avoid this future. Some would argue we lived it and have gone well beyond now)
15. The Crying Game (It's just a piece of flesh, like any other)
16. The Day the Earth Stood Still (a classic sci-fi. Gotta love Klatu)
Days of Heaven
17. Dirty Harry
The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie
18. Do the Right Thing (overrated, even for its time, but a good discourse on race)
19. La Dolce Vita
Double Indemnity
20. Dr. Strangelove (incredible; Peter Sellers at his best)
21. Duck Soup
22. E.T. - The Extra-Terrestrial
23. Easy Rider
24. The Empire Strikes Back
25. The Exorcist
26. Fargo (didn't get it, don't get it, don't understand why this is considered a classic)
27. Fight Club
28. Frankenstein (have to watch it with the flower girls death scene in it-- makes the story more real and poignant)
The General
29. The Godfather
The Godfather, Part 2
30. Gone With the Wind (I found it tripe)
31. Goodfellas
32. The Graduate
33. Halloween (incredible horror; later versions and franchise took things over the top and made it a violent cartoon, but this is fairly understated and creepy)
A Hard Day's Night
Intolerance
It's a Gift
34. It's a Wonderful Life
35. Jaws (an all-time favorite)
The Lady Eve
36. Lawrence of Arabia (incredible movie; David Lean at his best)
M
37. Mad Max 2
38. The Maltese Falcon
39. The Manchurian Candidate
40. Metropolis
41. Modern Times
42. Monty Python and the Holy Grail
Nashville
The Night of the Hunter
43. Night of the Living Dead
North by Northwest
44. Nosferatu (closer to Bram Stoker's vision than "Dracula" was)
On the Waterfront
Once Upon a Time in the West
Out of the Past
Persona
Pink Flamingos
45. Psycho
46. Pulp Fiction (piece of crap; waste of celluloid)
Rashomon
47. Rear Window
48. Rebel Without a Cause (never finished it)
Red River
Repulsion
The Rules of the Game
49. Scarface
The Scarlet Empress
50. Schindler's List (incredible movie)
51. The Searchers
The Seven Samurai
52. Singin' in the Rain
53. Some Like It Hot
54. A Star Is Born
A Streetcar Named Desire
Sunset Boulevard
Taxi Driver
The Third Man
Tokyo Story
Touch of Evil
55. The Treasure of the Sierra Madre (great portrayal of madness and greed)
Trouble in Paradise
Vertigo
56. West Side Story (I just met a girl named Maria!)
The Wild Bunch
57. The Wizard of Oz (an all-time favorite of mine; can you imagine being in the first showing of this in the theater when she leaves the house and everything was in such vibrant color??)

Some of these I have seen parts of, but never sat down and watched the entire movie. One (Godfather 2) is borrowed from Jay and will be watched in the next week and a half.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Garfield Humor



Hopefully I'm not this bad. I do take fashion advice and I rarely go clothes shopping without a qualified female around. It is the only

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Workplace Rules

I am the type of person who tells you if you have snot on your nose, food in your teeth, smeared lipstick, dirt, etc. I figure, I would want someone else to tell me so I don't go through the day thinking everything is okay while secretly I have a big something on my face making everyone stare, so why wouldn't another person want to know. Generally, I try to be specific and kind in the way I tell the person, to minimize their embarrassment and allow them to correct the issue as quickly as possible.
 
As I was returning from the bathroom, a woman in front of me was also returning. Her skirt had become tucked into her underwear in such a way so that her bottom and both legs were visible from behind.
 
My first response was to catch her and quietly tell her so that she could fix it before someone else walked up behind her. But, then, I had a sudden glaring rules issue pop into my head: would she consider it sexual harassment? Would it be more embarrassing having it pointed out by a man than a woman?
 
I am very touchy about those issues not because of who I am (my personality could care less and I'm not very politically correct in general) but because of the threats of workplace policy. A person here can be fired summarily for sexual harassment, so if she felt that was the case, my attempt at helping her avoid further embarrassment could lead to me being jobless!
 
Luckily, I am fairly quick on my feet. I went to my boss' office, asked her if she could do something for me that I didn't feel it was appropriate for me to do, and explained the situation. She agreed that any woman would want to know but that due to the rules of the workplace and my gender, I had better avoid the issue. She went straightaway and told her and got a profuse thank you from the woman in question. She was "...happy only you noticed." And my boss came over and quietly passed on her thanks to me so that no one, not even the woman in question, need know it was me the entire time.
 
It is, really, too bad that I had to go that route and involve another person. But with the workplace being so cautious today, and people being so touchy in general, it was better that I stayed an invisible partner in the event than make a comment-- no matter how well-meaning.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Sometimes It Works

I decided today to get a new combined cable modem/router. I saw a few when my mother was down shopping for similar and thought it might help with a few issues I've been having with my network setup.

Surprisingly enough, the hardest part was finding the damn modem! I bought the wrong thing at the first store, returned it, and they didn't have the one I wanted for an exchange. So I went online when I got home and figured I would just look at prices and get one when I got back from SJ.

Low and behold, my Best Buy across the street showed it available and in stock. Better yet, they have the In-store Pickup feature. I ordered it, paid for it, and just had to stop by and pick it up.

Got home, plugged everything in, called Cox Communications and spoke with Kevin about the MAC address, etc. and got it all set up.

Then I struggled a bit to figure out from the manual how to set up my wireless protection. Boy, could that use some better technical writing! Finally figured out how to set it up for a modem that doesn't come with the "one touch" setup feature, and have a new password securing the wi-fi from prying eyes.

On a side note, I got a new, much faster laptop for my work PC and I needed to test it by connecting from home. I am currently using it wirelessly to write this blog, proving that a) my new work laptop can connect from home with no issues and b) that my wireless works and the password is in place.

Lastly, I checked to make sure my TiVo can connect using the new modem/router, and it does.

I think I'm all set.

Monday, May 07, 2007

Insanity

What does a teacher do?
  • Educator: teaches our kids reading, writing, arithmetic, history, sociology, sciences, arts. They also teach socialization skills.
  • Babysitter: these kids are out of their parents hair and not roaming the streets being hooligans while at school.
  • Role model: many kids don't know what they want to do with their lives until that one teacher sparks a response and gets them interested in doing something.
  • Mentor: many kids have strained relationships with their parents. Oftentimes, a good teacher can serve the role as mentor, confidante, and parental figure.
  • Lawyer and Law enforcement officer: kids often have behavioral and other socialization skills when they arrive at school. Teachers must educate these kids as to right and wrong, moral implications, and, often, the actual law.
  • Health inspector: teachers are often the first to notice things like malnutrition, child abuse, mental and physical abnormalities, and other problems that children may have or develop. And, with little specific education in all of these areas, they are still required by law to report them to the school and possibly to the proper authorities.
  • Public speaker: teachers must spend an hour per class, for 4 to 6 classes per day and for 20 to 50 students per class speaking to the public, dealing with the disruptions from those children with bad manners or behavioral issues, and conversing on a wide range of topics. Just as a comment-- the number one biggest fear in America is public speaking. It ranks higher than death and severe illness as a fear/phobia.
And, of course, the most important aspect of all of these responsibilities is the fact that our teachers are creating the leaders (business and political) of the future. They mold the future adult workforce in general. And the people who will have control of you when you no longer are able to take care of yourself due to illness, old age, or mental frailty.
 
I am probably forgetting some of the other tasks that many teachers wind up performing for the community. In addition to these varied tasks, the  teacher generally has to work 5-7 hours actually on the school site or in the classroom and typically spends at least 3-4 hours each night outside of the classroom in preparation, grading, and other activities to challenge and excite the children. The average teacher I know sees between 120 and 200 students per day in 4 to six classes (Junior High and High School).
 
A lot of people then argue that a teacher "gets 2 months off every year" as compensation for all of this. However, those people tend not to realize that teachers also don't get paid for that time off. Most people don't understand how valuable those 2-4 weeks of paid vacation are in the overall workforce. Teachers get sick time, which they are generally encourage not to use, and are only paid 10 months out of any year. Or, they can opt to get paid all 12 months, but at the same salary (so each individual paycheck is significantly less, but they get paychecks during those two months they are without work).
 
All of these comments are to set up this link:
 
 
It has taken my mom 30 years and continuing education to reach the full end of the pay scale, and she is still beat on this chart by quite a few jobs that, frankly, do less in a day than she is forced to deal with as a teacher. I am not saying that these other jobs are less important and should be paid less than the average starting teacher salary. I'm saying that what a teacher does is, in my estimation, the most important job in the world. They take care of, educate, socialize, and (de facto) raise our children for us from the age of 5 to 18. Yet they get paid less than many jobs that we all can't help but consider fairly low-pay.
 
Think about this for a minute: the average salary in the NBA is around $4.2 million a year (the most recent official stats I could find, for 2001-2002 year ). That same amount of money could pay 140 teacher salaries at the average of around $30,000 a year per this NEA article. Which is more important-- a guy able to dunk a basketball or 140 teachers educating and raising our children?
 
It is insanity that we pay our teachers such a low starting wage and make it so difficult for them to get pay increases. It is no wonder that so many teachers leave the profession after 3-5 years, as the volume of work, lack of pay, and severe lack of respect from the children and parents takes its toll.
 
We need to do whatever it takes to lure the best and brightest to the teaching profession. One of the primary ways we can do this is to pour the money that deserves to be there into the profession. We should thank our teachers properly for all of the jobs they do for us on a daily basis.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Sadly Ironic

This was the quote that came up on my home page when I logged in this morning:

America believes in education: the average professor earns more money in a year than a professional athlete earns in a whole week.
- Evan Esar

Children of Men

Children of Men was far superior to most of the "Best Picture" movies that M and I watched in preparation for the Oscars. I found the story taut and enthralling, the acting very natural and unforced, the art direction incredible, and the cinematography involving.

What I particularly liked was that they just set you into this world, one about 20 years in the "future," give you only the basic idea of what that world entails, and then let you work it out as the film progresses. Of course, the fact it is set in the future makes people categorize this as "sci-fi." Which is too bad; had that label not been applied, this film may have had a better box office and chance at awards. With the exception of just a few scenes, this movie could have just been a war story taking place in any embattled city existing today.

The basic plot is that human beings have become infertile. Those women who can get pregnant cannot carry it to term. It has been 18 years since the last child was born and still no one has a reason or response to the infertility. Either because of that, or just because the world was heading that way anyway, most of the world is at war with itself. England has closed its borders and is trying to maintain its way of life in a world gone mad.

Clive Owen is Theo, just a guy in this world, who is suddenly thrust into the middle of the chaos when his estranged wife asks him for help transporting a mysteriously pregnant "fugee" (refugee) woman to a near-mythical boat operated by the Human Project-- the last free group truly trying to solve the infertility problem. He plays the reluctant but real man with effortless conviction. When one close to him dies, he walks away, slugs a drink from him flask, tries to light a cigarette, and then collapses and cries by a tree. But, when they must move on, he quickly composes himself and gets up again. Owen makes it so believable how Theo just tries to keep putting one foot in front of the other.

Claire-Hope Ashitey is a fresh face as Kee, the pregnant woman. She is totally believable as a confused woman who doesn't know who to trust but knows she must get her baby to somewhere safe. She is running primarily on a mother's instincts, especially as she has never seen another pregnant woman and doesn't know what to expect.

Michael Caine has a small supporting role in the film as one of Theo's friends and confidantes. He is surprisingly effective and robust in the role. He lends a little humor, but not distracting humor, to an otherwise dramatic and somewhat bleak movie.

I respect Alfonso Cuaron's vision for this film. It almost feels at times like you are watching a documentary. The world is so real it is frightening. And that reality, the way in which you just see this world as far as the camera's lens can see, makes it easy to suspend your disbelief and just marvel at the film. It allows you to be totally involved in the film. There is almost no CGI in this movie and nearly all of the effects involve real stunt work and special effects (actual bombs, real buildings, etc.). And it is the smallest details that make the world so believable; the graffiti, the TV ads in the background, the incredible autos and costumes-- the art director didn't miss a thing.

Another part that I found impressive was the music. Or lack of it. For most of the film I didn't hear or notice the music, if any was even in the scene. What music was used was so perfectly placed and made so much sense that it was nearly invisible. In two places, the music is purposefully noticeable and it is almost jarring. However, for those scenes, that is the point; they are supposed to be jarring and make you stand up and take notice. The second of these was doubly incredible because it referenced something that one character said almost in passing really early in the film and plays with it.

Lastly, the film doesn't draw any conclusions for you. You can debate the story, where they chose to end it, and the world presented. You can debate the ethics presented. You can even discuss what you would do in that world. However, don't get me wrong-- the film does end. It just purposely leaves off at a spot with no clear cut solutions or pat answers. Matter of fact, had they put the pat, Hollywood ending on it, it would have ruined the entire film. By leaving it off where they did, the film ends with the same bleakly hopeful note it plays throughout.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Not How an MVP Should Play

While I am a Lakers fan through and through, I watch other teams and watch a lot of the playoffs, no matter who is playing.

Last night's Mavericks/Warriors game was an interesting one. I like watching Nowitzki play, so was excited about this game. Dallas came out fast and played hard, getting the early lead, and the arena was jumping. However, Golden State played tough, kept chipping away, and slowly caught up to them.

I had never bought into the "Nowitzki is a soft player" rumors and innuendo until this game. Yes, I had seen some soft play and, yes, he takes way too many fall away jump shots for a seven footer playing against guys 4-6 inches shorter and nowhere near as good with the ball as he is. I just chalked it up to the difference between the European players and how American players are taught the game.

Nowitzki, as the "best player" on the Mavericks and the likely season MVP, should have been leading his team, setting the tempo, and doing whatever he could to keep the Warriors from catching up. However, that didn't happen. For the third quarter, he was 1-2. But, worse than that, he played with no energy, no passion, and didn't seem to want the ball. Howard and Harris were left to carry the load because Nowitzki wasn't even trying to fight the double teams. He rarely stayed in the post, I almost never saw him call for the ball, and he wasn't crashing the boards at all. He would wander into the post for a moment, and then would fade to the outside and watch as the team played four on five.

The first 9 minutes of the fourth quarter was more of the same. I saw one stretch, from about 9:45 until about 5:15 where he didn't touch the ball at all. Not even as part of their passing scheme as they probed for a good shot. Of course, this was the very stretch where the Warriors came from an impossibly deep deficit to tie the game. Then they started to pull away. An MVP-caliber player doesn't go nearly 5 minutes of a quarter when the other team has the momentum and is making the game close without touching the ball. 'Melo, Shaq, Kobe, Duncan, KG, Kidd, Nash, Wade... they demand the ball and take over the game and keep the boot on the throat of the other team when they are down. They don't stand behind the 3-point line and watch their teammates failing.

Everyone is talking about Nowitzki's two 3-pointers when the Mavs were down 12 with about 3 minutes to go and how he scored nearly all of the points for the team in the final minutes. Why isn't anyone talking about the 21 minutes prior to that where, if he had played with the same passion and ability, Golden State wouldn't have caught up, wouldn't have taken the lead, and wouldn't have had any hope at all? Why isn't anyone mentioning that, if Nowitzki had played like an MVP for the entire game, the Warriors never would have threatened or taken the lead?

The best player on the Mavericks has been Josh Howard. He's been pretty consistent, has brought the needed energy, and has battled whenever the team was down. He's the one I see fighting through double teams, calling for the ball, and driving through the lane and getting to the foul line. I haven't seen the same effort or play from Nowitzki, even in the wins.

Makes me wonder-- Nowitzki may not even be the best player on his own team let alone in the league. How can he be such a "lock" for league MVP?