If you want to attract an honorable lady, be an honorable man.

Thursday, August 25, 2011


Well, a lot has happened since I last posted, so I will give a quick update. I moved the neighbors cow (again) but this time with much less antics. We had enough ropes on her to make her a mummy and enough people to make any running away attempt most difficult. They got one shot of me after I was done. I doctored it a bit, and I really liked the outcome.

I went and helped our butcher do three head of cattle. (Sorry, no pics, I was kinda messy and a camera simply wouldn't have been prudent.)
Finally, I went to a friends house WAY southeast of Tucson and stayed the weekend. We airsofted and camped overnight in a wash one mile above a notorious drug cartel camp - a bit unnerving to say the least. Then the next day, we hiked over a few hills behind their house, and went shooting. Special thanks to Jordanna for taking pictures while we shot clays and targets to kingdom come. (She shot too, just around taking pictures.)

Christopher G. and I throwing clays for Noah and Benjamin G.

Taking aim on my first day of using a 12 gauge

Benjamin G.
"Don't tread on me"

Christopher G. and his weapon of choice - a 7.62 Russian sniper rifle

Mr. G firing my XDM

A good day indeed

Monday, August 15, 2011

Indiana Jones and The Kingdom of the Crystal Skull: Review

     Third Review. I have to say, this is one of the most fascinating movies I have ever seen. Not only because of the non-stop action and adventure, but because of the absolute off the walls theory propounded by this film. Not only the most fascinating, but the most creepy, hair raising, and wild movie I have ever seen. With no further ado, lets get right to the story line.

It starts with a seemingly American army unit taking over a nuclear weapons sight, and you discover in a short period of time that is is no American unit. Enter Indiana. He and another fella nick-named Mack are dug out of a trunk of a car where then had been stashed upon capture and are told to dig out a box in a giant warehouse that only Indiana knows the contents of, but whatever it is, the contents are highly magnetic. This warehouse for years has been the resting place of all of his valuable findings.  Enter the villain: a rapier carrying, black-haired female with a heavy Russian or similar accent. She actually turns out to be South Ukrainian. Indiana, on pain of death, is forced to find the box by using gunpowder and shotgun shells to locate the box. After the discovery of this box, Indiana pulls a few tricks, almost escapes with his crate, but is thwarted upon finding his old friend Mack really is sold out to the soldiers, and is the one who got him there in the first place. He doesn't get the crate out, but does escape with his life in a mad chase though a giant warehouse stacked to the ceiling with boxes. In one interesting scene, a random box is ripped open by a passing truck, revealing the ark of the covenant. He escapes across the desert plains of Nevada after accidentally getting a lift out of there on a rocket car on wheels that propels him far into nowhere. He, in attempt to find civilization, stumbles across a nuclear testing sight - and finds out to late as to what it is. He takes shelter in a fridge and is blown sky high into the desert again, for him to stumble out battered and bruised, and regain civilization. Through some government interrogation wondering what he was doing at the nuke sight, he finds out just who the girl is. Irina Spalko, Lenin's girl-friend, is heading up his department on Psychic warfare. What she wanted this crate for, no one knows. Indiana returns to his life at the college he was teaching at, only to be kicked out after the FBI comes to the school for some snooping around. Upon losing his job, he is about to travel someplace to start anew, when he is stopped by an energetic young fella on a motorbike. His name is Mutt Williams. He knew a Professor named Oxley, who was onto a discovery of a          
     crystal skull, and a whole mystery behind it. To top it all off, Mutt's mom and Oxley are captured, and Mutt was instructed by a note from his mom to go to Indiana for help. A whole mystery develops, where fake FBI agents who are really working with Irina, are chasing Mutt and Indiana on Mutt's bike through a densely populated city. They escape their vigilance, and try to unravel this mystery. In this mystery are tied the Nazca Lines in the Peruvian desert, the disappearance of the famous Amazonian explorer Francisco de Orellana, and the question of how did "primitive" man create such works as the Nazca lines. All of these things are tied together in this mystery that Indian must unravel. Through many adventures, they discover that Oxley had discovered the final resting place of the remains of Orellana, supposedly unknown to all of mankind. When he found the remains, he also found this fascinating skull of pure crystal, but obviously not of human origin. It is too well done to be carved, but what creature would have a skull of crystal? Then to top it all off, the cranium of the skull is way to elongated. Evidently Oxley discovered this skull and an even deeper mystery behind it. Supposedly this skull came from El Dorado, the famed city of gold in the Amazon rain forest, and was stolen hundreds of years ago from that place. Whoever would return this skull would receive great riches. The confusing thing is, if Oxley discovered it, they why is the skull with Orellana? Indiana and Mutt are about to explore this further, only to be captured by Irina again. Irina at last reveals her plot. She, working on psychic warfare for Lenin, has been examining "crash sites" around the world of supposed "aliens". One of these remains happened to be in the container back at the warehouse. These remains of "space men" had skeletons of pure crystal, and she is sure these beings are from beyond the limits of our world. Indiana of course thinks the whole thing with the aliens is baloney. The reason she likes the skulls, is because of the power they have over the human mind. They supposedly activate an undeveloped part of the brain. She wants to harness this power for Lenin's idea of world domination, by taking over not only the bodies of men, but their minds as well. She is the one who captured Oxley and Mutt's mom, who just so happened to be Indiana's girlfriend from the first movie. Holding all the dice, she forces Indiana to help her on her quest, since Oxley has gone crazy by staring too long into the eyes of the skull. Indiana must help her find El Dorado (they call it a different name in the movie, but I can't remember it.) Irina is sure that Oxley is the key, since she is sure that he had been to El Dorado. Things begin to make sense to Indiana. The skull was stolen from El Dorado hundreds of years ago and was lost to man. Orellana had found it, and died with it. Oxley had then found it. Oxley had gone to El Dorado, but was unable to return the skull, so he put it back where he found it. Now, they have to decode random, nonsensical clues that Oxley is jabbering, to decipher how to get there. Through many hair-raising adventures, Indiana, Mutt, who to his surprise turns out to be his own son, and Marian, his ex girlfriend, Mack, who claims to be a double agent and is now working with Indiana, and Oxley with the skull, escape Irina and her crew and head for El Dorado, Irina hot in pursuit. Through more adventures, they find the final resting place of the skull, a round room inside layers of pyramids and temples, surrounded by riches and wealth beyond measure, with thirteen other skeletons of crystal. Through more and more evidence, the story of the creatures finally is complete to Indiana. These creatures came from someplace, and taught the early man how to farm, make aqueducts, etc. they also helped with the making of the Nazca lines. How they all died, the story never says. Anyway, Irina, through the triple crossing of Mack, arrives in time to take possession of the skull, and replace it on the empty neck of the one skeleton missing its head. Now that they are all joined, weird things start to happen. The roof collapses upward, all the pieces flying into a "portal to another dimension" that opens up in the roof, as Oxley called it. (He regains sanity when the skull is replaced.) The floor gives way just before Indiana and the rest escape out of there, the thirteen figures around the room start circling the room, the building falling to pieces and reassembling itself into something. Eventually, all the skeletons collide and create one living alien, who stares at Irina and vaporizes her, all her cronies being sucked up into the portal. Indiana and the crew escape up top to watch the whole plain around the temple fall apart, and assemble itself into a spaceship, which goes up into the sky and pow, disappears into "the space in-between space" as Oxley puts it. Indiana and the crew are amazed, go home, and him and his old girlfriend get married, and they and the son live happily ever after.
The Worldview.
This is what makes the movie so weird. About the only reason I gave you the whole movie story is to show how they elaborately build the story, only to leave you hanging in the end. If what this movie says is true, there are "aliens" in essence, then what are we supposed to do? Ignore them? Worship them? Follow them? Study them? What's the application? They give you a tremendous amount of theory, and then drops what this theory is supposed to mean to us out the window - rather frustrating.
The Good.
Like in SHL which I first reviewed, Indiana has a passion for teaching the younger generation. While being chased by the fake FBI, Mutt goes sliding through a library and wipes out. While Mutt gets his bike in order, Indiana stops to answer a students question, and gives a book and author reference before speeding off again with Mutt. His passion almost gets him in trouble when he starts to talk and give a lecture about quicksand - while sinking in it himself.
I like the fact that he marries the girl in the end. They could have easily gotten back "together" and been in the same place again, but they don't. I do appreciate that. SOME reminiscence of Biblical thinking there.
I also like the fact that one of Indiana's implied goals in this movie, is that he is trying to keep Irina from getting the skull so Lenin can take control of the human mind. It never comes out and says that's one of his goals, but it is sorta implied, along with the main goal of him trying to solve the mystery.
The Bad:
A minimal amount of cussing, the whole "alien" worldview that is so obvious, and one other main, and bad component. Way back when before the time frame of this movie, Indiana and his girl friend broke up the day before the wedding - and evidently she was pregnant. OBVIOUSLY something wasn't right there. So Indiana isn't as moral of a character as you first think.
Mutt is pretty rebellious. It is implied that he does it to try to be cool, and has purposely been bad in lots of schools to get himself expelled. He eventually comes around to being more respectful in the end, but it certainly doesn't start there.
Indiana also lets his passion for education be an idol, and he is rather mad that Mutt didn't finish school when he finds out that Mutt is his son, whereas he wasn't mad before. Obviously an idol problem.
The Rest:
Overall rating: 2 stars. One for a fascinating story progression, one for some good action. Not recommended       

Thursday, August 4, 2011

A Knights Tale: Review

 Second Review. I saw this one on the bus to Mannasass, booking through Texas, and let me tell you right now, I wasn't impressed with this movie. It is a glorified romance movie, and not much else. Here's the main theme. 
A young squire named William is following his master Knight from tournament to tournament, helping him like all squires did. After one particular bout at jousting, his master is wounded, and dies outside of the arena, leaning up against the tree. The squire gets an idea. He, with the help of the other squires that aren't as keen on the idea as he is, decks out in his masters armor and finishes the tournament for him, and wins, as the case would have it. This fuels him, a common man, to play the part of a knight and go from tournament to tournament winning fame, prestige, honor and money. He trains in the backwoods with now his two squires and rural equipment, and heads off to start his life as a counterfeit knight. Only one thing stands in his way, and that is that to register in the tournaments, you have to have a proven list of ancestry that proves you are of noble blood. It would appear that fortune favors him, because he meets a man on the road (Who happens to have lost ALL of his clothes in a gambling game gone bad) who happens to be able to write up these documents of proof. A deal is quickly struck - clothes and food, for documents. They then continue to tournaments, him winning fame and prestige along the way as "Sir Ulriech of Lictineinstein" (sp?) He meets up with a lady at one of the tournaments, and is immediately twitterpated. This Lady (of course, this is Hollywood) likes the young bold knight and makes him her knight by giving him a favor. (Small token that the knight wears in battle to prove he is fighting for his lady, for those of you who don't know medieval jargon.) He of course gladly accepts. 
He continues in this life of farce, winning more fame and prestige, and the heart of his lady, until a slight altercation breaks them up. With the help of his friends, he writes a letter to her absolutely dripping with flattery and rather sappy as well, saying that he is heartbroken, which wins her back instantly - or so it seems. She wants to prove his loyalty and asks him to prove that he loves her by losing the next tournament in front of everybody. Here comes a main turning point in this movie. Before this point, Williams main goal has been to win, and win the spot of grand champion by winning at jousting. That has been his sole goal in life. So now, the girl he loves, asks him to love her more than he loves winning. At first he refuses, but on the day of the joust, he sits there and gets clobbered for his girl. She, then seeing that he does love her, tells him now that if he does love her, to win in front of everybody. This produces a funny and rather frustrated reaction, but he wins and both he and she are happy. 
The one thing that still eats at him, is that there is one knight (who is the bad-guy) who he has not yet beaten, but he has had only one chance against him so far. He is dying for another chance to try him and beat him. Finally he has a chance to compete against him, but the tournament is in London, his birthplace. He stops in by his old blind dad for a visit, and unbeknownst to him, he is followed by his opponent. He puts two and two together, discovers Williams real identity, and plans to hatch his news at the tournament to bust William once and for all for stealing the girl that he wanted. William hears that he is caught, and despite all his friends counsel to the contrary, shows up at the tournament to take whatever may come. He is arrested and thrown into the stocks, where he is subjected to abuse and humility. At this point, several key events earlier on in the movie play in. At one particular joust, earlier on in the movie, he had tried against a Anonymous knight, who refused to reveal his identity. The anonymous knight eventually backs out of the tournament, since "He knows he is beat, but he wishes to retire with his honor still intact." William lets him, and thanks him for a good fight. 
Another key scene after that plays into effect. He is at another tournament, and the bad-knight he has been dying to fight is up in the lists before he is. All of a sudden, the bad-knight backs out, striking his colors and retires from the field. This would leave William as the next contestant against the opponent. Confused, William lines up for the lists, just as his friend (the man he met on the road) runs up breathless and tells William that the reason the other knight backed out, is because his opponent is King Richard himself - the Anonymous knight. The friend runs up to strike the colors so William can back out as well (I guess a sign of honor to the king) but William spurs his horse ahead and meets the king head on in the lists. They both tie, and after a brief parlay, call it a draw and both retire from the field.
Flip to the present scene where William is in the stocks. Up comes the king upon this sad sight, and commands that he be released. He then, as he says "to repay the kindness you once showed me" knights William as Sir William Thatcher, because, as he says to the crowd "his scholars have searched into his lineage, and although it appears he is of humble origin, he really is descended from noble blood." I have no idea if this was true or another made up lie on the spot -  the movie does not make that clear. But, this removes his disability to compete, and he is now able to compete against his foe. You get the feel from this movie that the bad-knight, although he beat him once, is scared that he can't again, hence why he got William removed from the fight. Upon learning that he is back, he rigs up a dastardly stratagem. He has the head of his lance covered with a phony head, covering up the fact that he tipped his lance, in an effort to kill William once and for all. In the lists, William is wounded in the shoulder by the knight's plan, and due to the spot of the wound, his armor makes it hard to breath, as well as he can't hold the lance. So he removes his armor, and ties the lance to his hand, in one last win-or-die effort, with those exact stakes. He actually wins in this weakened state, gets the girl, and lives happily ever after. 
The Good:
Not much, actually. The one thing I found noteworthy is that he finally was willing to give up his desires for the sake of his girl. A very applaud-able attribute. The other thing is that when he was caught in his lie, he was willing to face what came, and not run away like his friends and girl pleaded him to do.
The Bad:
Just about everything else. He lies to get where he wants to be, he lies to keep himself there, and his pride is astronomical, in fact, that was his whole reason for not running. "All I have left is my pride, and they can't take that away." So he attributes his pride to why he did the right thing. So, right thing, wrong reason.
There is also a large amount of pre-marital kissing; bucket-loads of it. Also some NOT appropriate humor.
The funny:
This is what makes this movie odd. Despite some truly funny training scenes, the thing that makes this movie odd, is that they combine modern music with old times. Not just in the score, but in the movie itself. At the opening scene in the movie, all the spectators are stomping their feet to the famous "We Will Rock You" song of modern times, all the soldiers pounding the butt of their spears on the boards with the rhythm. Then all the peasants display the famous "wave" in the grandstands at the end of the song. 
Finally then, during a banquet scene after a victory in the lists, William and his girl are in a period correct dance, that suddenly erupts into a modern rock song, with everybody snapping into break-dancing instead of period dances. A VERY odd flavor indeed. 
In fact, almost the entire score of the movie is modern songs, giving it an old movie look with a modern movie feel.
Overall rating: 1.5 stars. The 1 is for humor, the .5 is because he did the right thing, despite the wrong reason. NOT a recommended film.                      

Second Hand Lions: Review

        First Review.
I've seen this movie a couple of times, and I just saw it recently again before the Manassas trip, so of course, I have to do a review on it. :)
This is one of my favorite movies, not for for worldview reasons, but I will explain why shortly.
This is the story of a young boy named Walter, who is dumped off at his two great-uncles house in Texas for the summer while his single mom goes off to a court-reporting school in Dallas. These two uncle are legendary in the family for disappearing for 40 years and then coming back supposedly filthy rich. No one knows where they got their money, or where it is, or whether or not they are even rich at all. Right from the beginning, you get the feel that Walter really doesn't trust his mom very much at all, for very good reasons that you find out later. He is dropped off at his uncles house, and finds out from the start that this summer will be nothing like he expected. From the signs that lead to the house down the mile long driveway reading that firearms are in use, danger, turn back now, to the multitude of dogs and one lone hog that greets them upon arrival, topped off by finding both of the uncles in chest waders in the back pond with shotguns hunting catfish, Walter is getting more than even he bargained for.
 (Starting to see why this is one of my favorites? ) :)
It goes downhill from there. The two uncles have no television, no phone, and spend the day amusing themselves with sitting on their front porch and taking pot-shots at salesmen that come to sell things to them. (The fame of their money goes far beyond just the family.) Walter's new life has no end of adventures, from watching his uncle Hub beat up 4 teenagers who try to dice him up with their switchblades, to adopting an old lion his uncles bought so they could have their own personal safari in their front yard. (These are some REAL rednecks.)
All through the summer, Walter learns about his uncles past. The two of them, on a tour of Europe before WWI, were captured by French soldiers and shanghaied into the French legion. After the war, Hub (the one to the left) ran slave-trade busts, and saved a handmaid to a princess. Through a long list of adventures, Hub marries the Princess and they would have lived happily ever after, if it wasn't for the fact that a nearby sheikh was aiming for her, and is constantly hunting down Hub to kill him and get his girl. He has many adventures, and eventually, with his brother Garth's help, turns himself in so his brother can collect the huge ransom on his head, and then Garth helps Hub escape, both filthy rich and free. Hub's wife dies in childbirth, and since the service was the only thing he knew how to do, Hub rejoined it, eventually returning home.
The two Uncles, who are rather rough and prickly, finally become attached to Walter during his stay for the summer, and Walter becomes attached to them. Walter eventually ends up living with his uncles, after his mom comes back from Vegas (not Dallas) and Walter asks if his mom could do something good for him for a change. The Uncles eventually kill themselves accidentally by flying the plane they built upside-down into a barn. Upon their death, a rich young sheikh comes out to the old house "to visit the place where my uncle's greatest adversaries lived"
The End :)
The main theme to this story is twofold. First, Walter is burned, and bad by his mom. His mom has lied to him so many times, he doesn't trust anybody or anything anymore, heightened by the fact that she goes off to Vegas instead of Dallas as she had said. The key scene where he finally learns to trust is by the pond at night talking to his uncle Hub, who sleepwalks, dreaming of his youth. Walter asks if all the stories are true that he has been told by Garth. Hub makes a key statement.
"It doesn't matter whether or not its true, but whether you believe its true. Sometimes the things in life that aren't true are the things worth believing in, because of what they are and what they stand for."
(Or a near paraphrase of that. :))
Walter eventually learns to trust and believe what he believes, even when all he believes is challenged in the end. A very good point to stick to what we believe by faith, not by sight. Hubs statement is not true, because the only things worth believing in are true. So he missed the mark on that one.
The other theme is that Hub is searching for meaning in life in his old age. He says when he was young, things made sense, and things had a purpose. Now that he's old, he is constantly questioning what is his purpose, and it is eating at him that soon he will be useless. He makes up for it by keeping himself amused with active hobbies, making himself feel useful. He rates purpose with usefulness, and he feels that as he gets old, he therefore gets useless, and it eats at him. This theme also climaxes at the pond scene, where Walter tells Hub that his value isn't in what he can do, but that he is loved, and will be missed if he dies and goes away. This seems to console him, but it doesn't stop him from his wacky pursuits. :)
The Good:
There is a very neat theme throughout this movie that I liked, that I don't see in many. Hub is always willing to teach the younger generation. He has a "what every young man must know about being a man" speech, and he takes the time to teach 4 teenagers after they attempt to slice them up with their switchblades. He also gives a part of it to Walter at the pond scene at night. The good is that he is willing to teach. Unfortunately, his message comes under....
The Bad:
"Man is basically good, Courage, dignity, and honor everything, and true love never dies"
That's just a segment, but it conveys the main thrust of what he said. He thinks man's nature is basically good, and the "love" part comes from his past with his wife, and he still loves her dearly. Depending on how you define love, that statement might be true, but the rest of his statement isn't.
The only other bad thing in this movie is minimal cussing, and kissing scenes before Hub and the Princess are married.
The Rest:
This movie is one of the funniest I know of, all with my flavor of humor. From shooting catfish with shotguns to playing clay pigeons over the pond to buying a lion for their own personal safari.... the honest to goodness clean humor goes on and on, and I love it all.
Overall rating: 3 stars. Only recommended if one can pick out the worldview and ignore the cussing.