Saturday, May 11, 2013

Pet Peeve: People Who Add/Mix Letters to Words

"Warshington" is neither a state nor a statesman. How has this even become a way that people say "Washington?" They added a letter. Why the hell would anyone add a letter? It's not easier. It doesn't roll off the tongue better. It doesn't make sense why this has become a thing. Stop making it a thing!
This is not what I meant by Freedom of Speech.
"Calvary" is the hill on which Jesus was crucified, not a type of military unit. This one at least makes a little bit of sense, because "cavalry" takes a little bit more effort. But is it really so hard to enunciate that we use another word instead? Next we'll have people saying that the United States placed Japanese Americans in "internet" camps because "internment" is just too much to say. Come on, people.
Pictured: soldiers on horses?

Pop Culture: 42

I went to see this movie a couple weeks ago, and it is worth the trip to the theater. I'm not saying that it was ground-breaking in terms of either a sports movie or a film about racism, but it should still be watched. The best thing that I took out of it was Jackie Robinson's struggle not to fight back against the people who stood in opposition to him. His ability to check his ego and just play baseball must have been quite impressive indeed.

Alan Tudyk's performance as Phillies' Manager Ben Chapman was quite good in that he really showed a good image of what other people in the game would do to try and antagonize him. Probably the opposite of Chapman was Pee Wee Reese, played by my man Lucas Black, who made a great effort to embrace Jackie (both literally and figuratively) as just another member of the team. Where Tudyk left me feeling angry, Black made me optimistic and reminded me that despite what happened in the past, both baseball and the world have become more accepting. Good performances on both sides.

42 is certainly nothing new or original, but that doesn't mean it's bad. On the contrary, I quite enjoyed it. I'm also excited to learn more about Jackie Robinson's life via Eric Metaxas' new book 7 Men.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Pet Peeve: Listening to Other People's Problems

I like people. I like to talk to them, spend time with them, and learn about them. With that comes the need to talk about more than what happened on TV last night, and occasionally to discuss issues that are less than pleasant. I'm fine with that, I think it's valuable and necessary for quality relationships. What I'm not great at, however, is listening to people's problems.
This scenario has never happened in real life.
Maybe it's just me, and maybe it's an issue that only I have, but I'm terrible at making people feel better. If someone comes to me and shares their problems, I have very little to offer them other than "Oh, that sucks. Sorry, man." They know it sucks. They're going through it. How can my assertion that yes, they are indeed in a difficult situation possibly do anything to help?
I see that you're about to fall to your death. That must be challenging for you.
This is not to say that I'm not a good person to talk to about your problems. On the contrary, I am able to offer a great deal of wisdom, knowledgeable advice, and personal experience (also, tons and tons of humility). But what I can't do is try to sympathize. The best response I've been able to come up with that is not advice is "I hate that for you." This may be one of the most useless platitudes around. How does someone respond to that? "It's very nice that you hate that for me, but I am doing a pretty good job hating it all by myself. Do you have anything of substance to offer? Perhaps a picture of an adorable kitten?"
If this doesn't cure your broken leg, I don't know what will.
So instead of attempting to sympathize with problems, I think it might be better to just listen to the situation and say something like this: "Your situation is clearly quite difficult, and I'm sorry that I can't fix it for you, but I would like to offer you the following advice: [insert wise advise that is available only from years of experience or extreme narcissism]. Does that help?" It'll help. It always helps.

Pop Culture: Jack the Giant Slayer

I saw this movie a while ago with my brother, and it fueled a great discussion between us. The movie was as mediocre as would be expected, but what got me was that it just tried to do too much. There were just too many things going on throughout the movie for me to be able to concentrate and appreciate any individual aspect. My brother, who has an excellent opinion on movies, wrote this off as one of the many problems with the movie, and wanted to leave the subject be. That's all well and good for him, but I make it a point in my life to over-analyze movies. For some reason or another, it's important to me.

Jack the Giant Slayer could have been much better than it was. That's a pretty safe statement, as any movie could be better, and to say that is to say very little indeed. But for the sake of over-analysis, I have some thoughts: Ian McShane plays the king in this movie, and despite the fact that I love Deadwood, The Pillars of the Earth, and even Kings, I think that McShane's role should've been minimal. I don't need to see attempts at politics or humanizing kings in a movie about Jack and the Beanstalk. Take out most of his parts, and we've got some room to work with. Room that could be filled with making me give a crap about the relationship between Jack and the princess. This is perhaps the area in which the movie should've spent the bulk of its time, because its the driving force for most of the plot. Instead, they focused on other stuff, for some reason. Give me more relationship building and less argument about whether or not to cut down the stalk and we're in business.

So, Jack the Giant Slayer. It's got Ewan McGregor, who is cool. It's got giants, who are interesting. And it's got a whole lot of other stuff, which was not engaging. And that's all I have to say about that.