Interstellar – Too Much Empty Space and Not Just Between Planets

  Space Interstellar Water planet InterstellarInterstellar is an interesting movie. Faint praise, perhaps, but it had so many ups and downs that reviewing it I feel like Tevya in Fiddler on the Roof – on the one hand —, but on the other hand —, but then on the other hand —. To start with the basics, the acting is – if not stellar (sorry, couldn’t resist) then excellent.

Farm InterstellarMatthew McConaughey (a name along with Rhys Ifans I can never get right off the top of my head) plays Cooper, a once pilot now farmer on an ecologically dying planet Earth.

Now – you see here, right at the start I have an issue with this. They never explain WHY Earth is supposedly dying. Plus the fact that, contrary to the goof balls in the Flat Earth Global Warming cult, there’s not a blessed thing we could do to destroy Earth permanently even if we all tried — real — hard. I wish we COULD influence the meteorological balance that much because had we that much power we could stop the many MANY hurricanes I have lived through.

ANYway – taking a deep breath and accepting the dumb premise (which my brother always calls a McGuffin – the “thing” that propels the story but which isn’t in and of itself necessarily very important and could be substituted for something else – as here it could have been diseased humans, alien invasion or a zombie apocalypse and the story COULD have played out about the same) I note the acting is quite good — and even distracts you from the ridiculous McGuffin.

Hathaway InterstellarAnne Hathaway, whose acting skill rocketed in my esteem exponentially having been blown away by her Fantine in Les Mis, plays Amelia, lady astronaut and daughter of one Professor Brand, played by Michael Caine (whose presence would have made this movie palatable even WERE the McGuffin about a zombie apocalypse). Brand thinks there is a way to save Earth BUT, given the time it will take and the risks of failure involved and what is at stake (the future of all humanity and its culture, blah, blah) he sends Amelia, Cooper, some fertilized eggs, the summation of culture of Earth and a variety of red shirts (Star Trek fans will know what I mean) TO INFINITY AND BEYO—- oh wait wrong movie.

OK now I have to stop being so snarky.

If you access Everything Wrong with Interstellar on Youtube you will get a hilarious verbal map of plot holes large enough to fly the Starship Enterprise throughBlack hole Interstellar – but you will ALSO get some scientific points on gravity and its effects which Interstellar got RIGHT. Now – be advised Jeremy Scott has a habit of using very salty adjectives. Many are pointlessly asterisked and bleeped out – pointless because it is quite obvious what that word is supposed to be. And frankly I wish he would use more family friendly and creative alternatives (there is a book available of Shakespearean insults, for example AND the movies dating back before the 60’s usually managed quite well without MOST of what we hear now as expletives) because it is this one unfortunate attribute that prevents me from recommending these Youtube videos more often.

For  Everything Wrong with Interstellar Dr. Neil deGrasse Tyson does a guest spot-co-host for this Youtube video and points out what they DID do correctly. Which brings me to the positives. The visuals are absolutely stunning. They feature both a frozen planet and a planet “near” a black hole and what those worlds might be like. Both planets are shown as shocking and terrifying and gorgeous all at once. (Great places to visit maybe but ——-) There are also some visuals concerning a fifth dimension which is dumb in concept, completely and illogically paradoxical and really cool looking all at the same time.

As for the language in Interstellar itself there is one use of each of the two worst of the profanities and a very small sprinkling of the lesser offenders. For more detail check out Screen-it on Interstellar. (You have to be a member to access all the info but it is definitely worth the $7.95/month OR $47/year. There are dozens of times a year I am quite happy to have had the subscription – they give good reviews and almost agonizing detail on everything from “jump scene” content to scary music, profanity and issues to discuss after.) No sex, but some very disturbing family issues appropriate enough to an end-of-world cataclysm movie. So who you think appropriate for this movie should be considered carefully.

BUT ———

I have seen the world and it is hollow (apologies to Star Trek for this rough paraphrase*):

While the science is fun, the visuals outstanding, the acting quite good and the overall idea of the story make it quite entertaining, I have one really big problem with the movie. In all the catastrophe going on, no one seeks any comfort in religion. This is both religiously biased and extremely unlikely. Personally I’d be heading for the nearest priest, but even for the agnostics and atheists – well, as my Dad used to say, there are NO atheists in fox holes and the whole world in this movie is IN one big fox hole. And while it is reasonable to believe that there could be some hold outs, I would say that inasmuch as the vast majority of the Earth’s population believes in a Supreme Being, that there would be SOME theological expressions. But – nope – their god is science. If you have enough of it we can: save the world, or at least save humanity, or seed the cosmos with our genes or—- whatever. That as long as our fertilized eggs are still around with a copy of the Mona Lisa then all’s right with the — Universe.

This made an otherwise, at least INTERESTING movie, to me feel quite hollow and empty as —- as —- as well, what is in Interstellar space.Black hole Interstellar 2

And HEY – I think I wrote this one without a single important spoiler!!

  • I was referencing the title of the eighth episode of the third season of the original series: “For the World is Hollow and I Have Touched the Sky”    —–OK, OK, it seemed like a close paraphrase to me at the time!!!


You may have noticed I quit numbering these installments – See "From Marx Brothers to Superman". I plan to remove the numbers off of the previous ones as they are about as useful as wings are for flying on a chicken – added decoration but of little practical value.

Patriot cover - e.wikipedia.orgBut I also plan to continue to share my thoughts on the continuing theme of the Father Figure. This time as it relates to – The Patriot. SPOILERS!!! —– Substantial SPOILERS!!!

In the almost ubiquitously famous The Patriot, (forgive the refresher), the widowed Benjamin Martin raises his seven children on a farm just before the outbreak of hostilities between the British crown and her colonies. The mother is long deceased by the opening credits. Despite this, the family thrives. The children are happy, content, well educated, respectful and confident. The farm is successful and the people that work there respected and well treated.

When the war devastatingly intrudes into the family and their home, the children rise to meet the crushingly unreasonable demands that are thrust upon them.

Gibson burning house - writeandsleep.comAs the home burns behind them, one brother hauled off to face summary execution, and another brother lies shot dead at their feet, Benjamin tells his 13 year old daughter, Margaret, to take her two younger siblings into the woods. That if he and the two oldest remaining boys are not back by dark she is to "head for Aunt Charlotte’s". Almost 20 miles away from any help, on foot, entrusted with two small children, with dark encroaching and terrible people about, Margaret, while desperately frightened looks trustingly into her father’s eyes and he confidently knows she will carry out what MUST be done. He takes his two sons, Samuel and Nathan, little more than children themselves, into a fire fight to save the oldest son from hanging.

Trevor-in-The-Patriot-trevor-morgan-22817249-853-480Together the father and sons take on and defeat 20 British soldiers. Now obviously the Dad, veteran warrior, kills most, but the boys – about 13 and 11 – obey their father’s orders without question. They follow and obey him, even as they are horrified, even traumatized, by what they must do.

These are children who have an indomitable bond with their father. Gibson and girl side view - paradrasi.grThey have faith in him because he has ALWAYS been a strong leader, a good Dad, and a protector for them. And they survive against tremendous odds because of it.

The-Patriot-mika-boorem-24695250[1] - CopyCharlotte (Joely Richardson) – while brave and resourceful – when faced later in the movie with a similar confrontation – wisely —- grabs the children and runs. Obviously this is a movie but nary a movie goer questioned the credibility of Martin's feat – and notably the film was based roughly ON a combination of real life historical figures: Francis Marion, Elijah Clarke, Daniel Morgan, Andrew Pickens, and Thomas Sumter.

AND it is ALSO noteworthy that the main character of this awesome and inspirational story of bravery, patriotism, loyalty, devotion, familial bonds, and even self-recrimination to redemption is —– a man. More particularly a father.

One of my all time favorite lines in the movie is when Benjamin's oldest son, Gabriel, played by the late and wonderful Heath Ledger insists, against his father's command, on returning to his regiment despite the aforesaid devastating death of his brother, burning of their home and near execution. Gabriel challenges Benjamin: "I am not a child!" to which Benjamin roars in frustration: "You're MY child!"  I admit to having used this on my own children more than once to rather good effect.

That one sentence says it all: authority, conviction and — commitment. You can retire from your firm, you might retire from being a doctor or a lawyer, we will all eventually be retired from life, and you MIGHT even – more dramatically – retire from the Marines. But you can never – EVER – retire from parenthood. You might be a good parent, a bad parent, an absent parent or even a deceased parent, but once a parent, ALWAYS a parent (apologies TO the Marines).  And Benjamin knows this, understands it to his core being. And when Gabriel leaves anyway, Benjamin leaves his younger remaining children in the care and relative safety of Charlotte to go after his one wandering sheep – Gabriel. And this decision propels us through the rest of the movie.Gibson Ledger

The whole movie is fabulous. We watch, cheer during and cry over it every July 4th. But, to me, that one line sums up the motivation and character of Benjamin Martin: a brave soldier, warrior champion, leader among men, successful business man, loyal friend, patriotic American founder, legend. mel_flag[1]But his defining feature is that fact that he is —- a father.Gibson and children Patriot

Photo credits:,,,, The-Patriot-mika-boorem-246952501,,,


From Marx Brothers to Superman

5 Marx Brothers 5 Supermen

You ever watch those old Marx Brothers movies? Groucho, Chico, Harpo. They’re wonderful. Slapstick and droll, filmed in black and white but technicolor in scintillating classic humor, these guys were friends, colleagues, costars, collaborators, comedians and — well, brothers. The family of five (Zeppo was a straight man in a few) and Gummo who worked with the others on stage but never made it to the movies, started together in vaudeville as the Singing Nightingales. Groucho actually aspired to be a doctor, but there was no money for that so became an entertainer. Known as Groucho throughout the world, instantly recognizable for his mustache and ever present cigar, his real name was Julius and he was the head, on screen and off,  of this raucous bunch of never-aging hooligans. And, while Groucho’s on screen persona was not much of a sterling example of fatherhood in the conventional sense, Groucho did – much like Oddball’s modified tanks in the quirky World War II dramedy Kelly’s Heroes – manage to get them OUT of trouble at least as fast as he got them INto it.

4 Marx BrothersChico (whose real name, for the record, was Leonard), always featured in his pork pie hat, played the piano — astonishingly well, and humorously. He employed what I can only describe as finger gymnastics. He’d run his hand along the keys, then point and stab at another note, make his hands look all floppy. Yet the music came out beautifully. Chico played the piano by playing WITH the piano. It was almost like a one man musical comedy magic act. If a piano was a ventriloquist’s dummy, Chico was the ventriloquist.

Animal Crackers coverBut there was one scene in Animal Crackers that I always found especially charming, and unusually subdued, for a Marx Brothers’ routine. Chico performs a party recital of “Catch a Falling Star” wherein he interjects an interlude after the first line which comes back around to the initial musical line – so he plays it in a loop.Animal Crackers - Groucho Chico Harpo It’s a very funny scene as you watch the audience – primarily consisting of Groucho front and center with the indomitable and ubiquitous Margaret Dumont (who, it was said, rarely understood Groucho’s jokes) at his side – become progressively more bored and annoyed at the seemingly endless cycle of this repeating banal ditty.

GROUCHO: Say — if you get near a song, play it.

CHICO: I can’t think of the finish.

GROUCHO: That’s strange – and I can’t think of anything else. (Even Margaret Dumont grinned at that one.)

CHICO: You know what I think – I think I went past it.

GROUCHO: Well if you come around again, jump off.

CHICO: I once kept this up for three days.

Which brings me to the point of this post. I’ve kept the series I entitled Back to the Father running for exactly ten times the time Chico claimed to have once been stuck on that musical phrase — one month today – kind of an anniversary.

Well, I know how Chico felt. I started the Back to the Father series thinking it would be a one or two part series, but cannot think of a way to finish it. Thing is – there are more examples of Hollywood’s instinctive, though denied, avowal of the irreplaceability of the father or strong father-figure in the home than even I thought there were. And I enjoy finding them. So I have decided to randomly just continue on that theme and point them up when I find ones that I find particularly appealing.

Jar-el with Kal-elJar-el with Kal-el - Crow

So in keeping with that promise I bring you —- SUPERMAN! Remade about a gazillion times, from its inception as a comic book to novels, movies, cartoons, this Man of Steel has been an American iconic since the publication of the first comic book in June 1938. Comic book Jar-el familyAnd in all of the manifestations of Superman, from print to film, from the stories starring TVs George ReevesGeorge Reeves to film’s Chris Reeves SupermanChris Reeves (the BEST!!!) to the most recent inception of Cavill supermanHenry Cavill, these Supermen’s father, Jar-el Family - Crow Jar-el Family - BrandoJor-el, is the one who must make the decision to send Kal-el (Superman) off to Earth. It is Jor-el who the one who makes the hard choice to send his son away to save his life and does so, not only for his son’s sake, but for the betterment of a lesser culture – mankind.

The mother, understandably, does not want to let her child go but concedes to  her husband’s wisdom: to sacrifice their lives to protect the life of their son. In addition, it is not the mother’s consciousness which is sent to teach, guard and mentor the famous Kryptonian survivor,  it is the father’s. Brando - Jor-el computerGranted this is recognized in the funny animated How Man of Steel Should Have Ended How Man of Steel should have endedbut it’s never really questioned. Again, for a good reason. because, while a mom is nice to have around – a son needs a father to become a Superman.Jor-el - Crow

I’ll randomly throw in more from time to time, because, unlike Chico, I don’t WANT to think of a finish.


Saving Grace DVD coverOld DVD cover Saving Grace

I like to share movies that likely no one in the solar system other than me remembers. A New Leaf is one of those rarified films which are hard to get but very much worth the effort. Another is Saving Grace with Tom Conti.

There are a lot of movies with the name of Saving Grace: from a 17 minute English short about two men romancing a woman named Grace to a kidnap/horror movie about a hospital janitor obsessed with a junkie. I have seen neither of these films and don’t plan to.

No, the movie to which I am now referring is the 1986 remarkably charming dramedy starring the brilliant but little known Tom Conti. (Though you MIGHT remember him as Christian Bale’s improvisate chiropractor in The Dark Knight Rises.) Conti cut his teeth and has mostly sustained his career in the theater but made a permanent mark on film in the ’80’s co-starring with none other than David Bowie in the unusual war film Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence as well as the very dark and odd ball love story Reuben, Reuben.  Son of a Catholic Italian family, endearingly he has been married only once and to the same woman, Kara Wilson,  since 1967.Conti and Wilson youngConti and Wilson old  While an actor’s personal life often has nothing to do with whom or what they represent when they work, I find his background relevant in this case as he portrays the Pope. Not any real life pope in particular but a fictional one, so in a way his performance could be seen to represent all popes.

I love this movie. Conti plays a very young priest who is elected, to his own surprise and some dismay, to the papacy.Cardinal Leo getting elected Pope Leo He becomes Pope Leo XIV. However, while dressed appropriately for engaging in the past time that helps alleviate the stresses of his office, gardening, Pope Leo accidentally manages to get himself locked out of the Vatican and away from the protectively intrusive eyes of his bodyguards, assistants, and fellow clergy. He then decides to do a Henry V.

If you remember from any Shakespeare class, Henry V is about the English King who invades France. The night of the fateful battle he dons the clothes of a common soldier and walks about the camp to assess the level of enthusiasm and patriotic temperature of his troops.

Pope Leo w childrenPope Leo, remembering the pleas of a little girl entreating on behalf of her small  village during one of his Papal audiences, decides to visit the little girl’s village and provide what assistance he can as a good old parish priest.Leo w girl It is in this little village that he falls in love again with the reasons he became a priest. Ergo, why I titled this post as a love story. It is a beautiful love story between a man and his faith, a priest and his congregation, and ultimately a Pope and his worldwide flock. By reaffirming the first he is able to renew the latter and the entire world is made a better place by Leo’s interaction with this small seemingly unimportant unassuming village.

Pope Leo w villagerChildren Saving GraceLeo w woman

The subsequent story is gentle, funny and heart breaking as Leo reconnects with some of the most humble of his flock, while his colleagues at the Vatican desperately search for him and simultaneously divert attention to the fact the Pope is  ….. well… missing!! nuns Saving GraceLeo's colleagues

This is a very one-off movie, unique in its perspective on one man’s search for renewed spiritual inspiration. It’s also a little hard to find. Not as difficult as A New Leaf, as you can buy Saving Grace on DVD through But be careful you are choosing the correct one “Saving Grace”, as I warned above there are a number of movies with the same name. Or you can watch it in pieces on

B&W Saving Grace

Faithful to Catholic teaching, highly respectful of the church and the priesthood, this film is appropriate for all ages. HOWEVER, as always, Mr. Phelps, should you choose to accept this mission…I mean film, you should watch it yourself first before showing it to any members of your family you think vulnerable or sensitive.Leo and girl on bridge B&W

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Bella and Edward

"….not only would I recommend this rather awful film series but had I the authority I'd be tempted to make it required watching for teens."

To quote my favorite expression from the re-booted Dr. Who series, oft spoke by Dr. River Song: SPOILERS!!!!

I'm not a big fan of sappy stories. I've watched more than my share but it's not my favorite genre. There are a few exceptions. Jane Eyre was my favorite book as a kid. Helped that George C Scott did an amazing movie version back in 1970. But Jane Eyre is less romance than it is a tale of righteousness over romping – that's my story and I'm sticking to it.

And I did see Titanic a couple of times over the years but frankly enjoyed the rather droll How it Should Have Ended animated satire more.

Which brings us to the Twilight series.

Bella Edward 2

Is the movie badly acted? Why, yes, the acting is terrible. Kristen Stewart's whispering, sniveling, gasping response to EVERYTHING has become a cliché of pitiful thespian skills. The Everything Wrong With… Twilight is hysterical and worth watching for their "Breathing, Laughing and other Bella Noises Bonus Round" alone. IMPORTANT CAVEAT – while I LOVE the "Everything Wrong With…." series on, it is chock full of sexual innuendo and raw language, the latter of which is, while bleeped, pretty obvious.

Is Twilight well written? I'll let you judge:

Edward Cullen: I don't have the strength to stay away from you anymore. Isabella Swan: Then don't.

Edward bedroom

Edward Cullen: Uh, yeah this is my room.   Isabella Swan: …No bed?  Edward Cullen: Ah no I don't, I don't sleep.  Isabella Swan: Ever?  Edward Cullen: No, not at all. Isabella Swan: Ok, hmmm, boy you have so much music, what were you listening to. Edward Cullen: It's Debussy. Isabella Swan: Clair de Lune is great.

Edward Cullen: I hate you for making me want you so much.

And these are from as memorable quotes. Need I say more?

So, it's sappy, badly acted, awkwardly written, ham handedly directed but——-not only would I recommend this rather awful film series but had I the authority I'd be tempted to make it required watching for teens."

But, you might reasonably ask…………..WHY!?!?!?!

BECAUSE – This movie advocates powerfully for some of our modern culture's most vitally important but least present virtues and makes those virtues irresistible to the very demographic audience who most desperately need to witness them.

Edward Bella wedding

Edward is a 100+ year old vampire in love with the atheistic Bella. (Quick quiz: Edward is played by Robert Pattinson. What other iconic movie series does he appear in?) Edward is in a family of vampires who have sworn to abstain from human blood, led by the beneficent and altruistic father-figure, Carlisle. I could and probably will add Carlisle to the Back to the Father series but that's for another post. Bella is a child of the current age anxious to demonstrate her affections for Edward and not afraid to make those feelings obvious. Edward ——– refuses.

Edward in Bella's room

Not only does he refuse but states that:

1. He will not put her IMMORTAL SOUL in danger, especially as he is already worried about his own given that he is now a vampire, and

2. He will give in to her amorous desires ONLY after they are married. It is Bella who drags her feet on matrimony, having watched her distant-cop Dad and hippie free love mother destroy their own marriage through self absorption and cluelessness. But Edward is true to his word all the way (so to speak). And, atypically for a modern movie, nuptials are NOT had until the nuptials are — well performed by a minister at the end of the third book. Yes, dear friends there are FOUR books and FIVE movies!!

Now let's think about what Ms. Meyers has written. Her story involves a vampire. And vampires have been analogous to sexuality since the inception of the idea was made popular by Bram Stoker 118 years ago. Twilight proposes, if a VAMPIRE – who is the very embodiment of lust – can restrain himself for moral reasons for the woman he loves, then Mister-taking-his-girl-out-to-this-movie, so can you. If Edward can keep himself from both Bella's blood and bed, then you, oh mortal boy, no matter how much you may tell your girlfriend you love her, should too. Because NO one can emote more than the Bella-Edward characters about how devoted they are, how much they love each other, how thoroughly they would die for each other than this sappy over the top couple. Furthermore Edward is abstaining for the right reason – for Bella's soul, and he is clear and blunt about this DESPITE Bella's insistence that she does not believe in God.

I can just hear the after movie conversation – "If EDWARD can restrain himself then YOU should be able to, too! Don't you love me as much as Edward loves Bella?" And the more the young man may try to convince his lady friend that he wants to show his affection for her, the more he will be hoisted by his own petard of love. I can't help but chuckle.

The second reason I would advocate for this movie strongly comes in the form of the unbelieving Bella. In the fourth book/movie she discovers, soon after the honeymoon, that she is what everyone thought impossible – she has been made pregnant by Edward.

Edward had promised to make Bella a vampire, against his own better judgment, after they are married. Bella wants to start their honeymoon as a human. So subsequent to the mortal/vampire coupling and before the vampire changing process can begin, Bella finds herself with child. Rushing back to Carlisle, who is a doctor, they are told that a full term pregnancy will be terminal for Bella.

Bella, the atheist, in a welcome about face to her up to now single minded obsession with Edward, decides to die for her baby. And in a surprising but believable character shift, the life respecting Cullen family, so desperate are they to keep Bella alive, try emphatically to convince Bella to abort. Up to now Bella has almost worshipped the Cullens. But not only does Bella successfully fight them on this, she enlists the assistance of the one Cullen who hates her, Rosalie.

Rosalie and Bella pregnant

Rosalie is a vampire who was turned by Carlisle, in what he thought was an act of mercy, when he found Rosalie left for dead after a brutal attack. While grateful for the rescue she has grieved the loss of her  ability to bear children ever since. (Why male vampire have sperm which are alive enough to impregnate women but women vampires do not have living eggs is never explained, but is convenient to the plot, so just go with it.) And she hates Bella because Bella is voluntarily throwing away what Rosalie rightly sees as a blessing. So when Bella asks Rosalie for help to protect the unborn baby, Rosalie is more than willing to stand guard.

Bella alienates ALL the Cullens who love her and welcomed her to ally herself with the one Cullen who would be happy to kill her — all for the sake of her unborn child, whose continued existence is guaranteed to kill her.

Pregnant Bella

You really can't get a more pro-life scenario than that. With that one decision I became rather fond of the up-to-then rather annoying Miss Bella. You can't help but respect a woman readily giving up: the love of her life, the approval of the only real family she has ever had, and her best chance at immortality she believes she has, since she does not believe in an afterlife and the Cullens doubt they will be able to change her to a vampire after the birth of her child in time to save her — well, not life — but continued existence.

As it so happens they do, of course, save Bella, or it would have been a much shorter book, there would have been no fifth movie and the series would not have been NEARLY as popular with the teen crowd as it is.

So —- having created characters and a love story rivaling in the youth popularity pretty much every love story since Gone With the Wind and Love Story combined, Ms. Meyers makes a lust-representing vampire chaste, THEN turns a self-absorbed and atheistic modern female into a self-sacrificing pro-life mom.

Twilight fight

Then I'll go you one better – now this is a big spoiler so be warned. At the end of the series there is a climactic battle between the Cullens and their allies against the Volturi – bad scary vampires who want to take away or kill the Cullen child for her powers. But vampires from all over the world are enlisted to come to the aid of the Cullens. Those coming to fight side by side with the Cullens include: your traditional 1,000 year old vampires who snack on people as a matter of course, other "veggie" vampires who abstain from human blood, and…werewolves. OK they aren't your run of the mill werewolves, but more shapeshifters as they can change at will and are around to PROTECT humans rather than eat them, but these guys DO change INTO wolves.

Now many of the ancillary reasons these disparate groups have for fighting the Volturi include: vendettas against the Volturi, desire for autonomy from the Volturi, respect/affection/old debts owed to the Cullens. But all are drawn primarily under one simple principle: to protect the life of —- a child. An innocent whose one life is properly seen as more important than the dozens of grown ups who have pledged to protect her.

And you wonder why I endorse this series of books/movies? Stephanie Meyers takes virtues we need more desperately in this culture than Bella needs Edward – chastity, protection of the unborn child, and protection of child against the forces of evil – and plants them right into two characters who have fired the imagination of the very demographic part of our culture which needs to hear this the most – the teen and twenties. From a pragmatic view to culture change she has done an enormous good.

Twilight movies   Twilight books

God bless you Ms. Meyers. I own and have read every page of all your books and have sat through every single minute of all five movies – it's the least I could do to thank you.

Answer: He was in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire as the ill-fated Cedric Diggory.

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I am especially offended by the rampages through the movie theaters. Not that any incident of this kind isn’t a horrifying, appalling display of the most base cowardice by either the demon possessed or the terminally insane. But think about it – there is a random demographic of people in the theater – from elderly nursing home residents on an outing to a small child. Thanks to the idiot anti-Second Amendment liberal mentality these loonies can be sure that the people there are completely unarmed and helpless. They are in the dark, distracted, relaxed, planning on some casual entertainment and then – literally – Hell breaks loose. These are the kinds of people from whom Jesus would expel demons. This is Satan on display. But, of course, if there is no God then there is no devil and isn’t that terribly convenient for those who do not wish to be held accountable for anything. And they will sacrifice the rest of the world on their altar of self-indulgence. Like Verbal said in The Usual Suspects: “The greatest trick the devil ever pulled was convincing the world he did not exist. ”

What this guy did in Lafayette was Satanic. There is really no other rational explanation for it.

Tell you what I would do:

If I owned a movie theater I would offer free movie tickets to anyone who brought a current concealed carry license and gun to my business. And I’d give them TWO free tickets if they brought a firearm and were active military or could show they were also currently working as police, security guard or fireman. That would discourage anyone planning this kind of c***. Like having an air marshal on a plane. Then these degenerates would not be able to stand there killing people as though they were targets in a carny fair game.

Life’s not safe. No one gets out of it alive. But this kind of mayhem would not go on for very long and many lives would be saved.

But of course the liberal moron politicians will force the exact OPPOSITE and start to treat theaters like the airports. The liberals will probably start frisking everyone to be absolutely SURE the theater is full of the completely unarmed and helpless so that the most possible people will die in case some crazy person gets by all their stupid security measures with some kind of a lethal weapon. And does it not occur to anyone that:

1. You could turn even a plastic spoon into a weapon?

2. A maniac that would kill innocent strangers will really NOT be impressed, daunted or in any way slowed down by laws preventing the sane citizenry from carrying measures of self-defense?

I wouldn’t be at all surprised to find out this guy was paid/encouraged/subsidized somehow by the same lot in our administration that funded and continued the ATF’s Operation Fast and Furious scandal – providing criminals with guns so they would kill innocent people just so they could further their anti-Second Amendment agenda.

Find me a movie theater who ENCOURAGES self-protection of its patrons and that’s a theater I intend to patronize.



Blacklist 1

SPOILERS – really. This show is cool but HAS to be watched chronologically. So if you have NOT seen the show and ever want to, just SKIP THIS POST until you have seen both seasons….OR  If you want to carry on reading anyway, I will be as spoiler-free as possible, but a few tidbits have to be revealed to make my point.

OK, this is a TV show but a darned good ADULT ONLY one and, arguably just a REEEAALLY long TV movie. All the elements come together at different points and there are complex character arcs and a background plot that even after two seasons is not complete.

Raymond Reddington (James Spader), a mastermind criminal and one of the top Most Wanted's on the FBI list, comes across a four year old orphan girl. The details of the how and why are still not clear even after two years but – never mind. To whom does he entrust this child? A strong woman? (And through the course of the show we run into a LOT of excellent candidates for foster motherhood for the child.) No. He brings her to a trusted male friend, Sam, who, even though unmarried and childless, takes Liz in and raises her as his own. She grows up to be a straight arrow: brilliant, beautiful, compassionate, confident and (excuse the expression) kicka** Federal agent but a by-the-book Girl Scout of an agent.

Liz’s problems begin after Sam dies and her allegiances begin to shift from her clean cut father, Sam, to the shadowy but protective Reddington. The moral here is that even Reddington, a kind of sane Moriarty figure, is created with an understanding that a child, even (I'd say especially) a female child, needs a strong male father to survive and thrive. And her morality begins to slip, even though an adult, even though an FBI agent, only after she loses her moral Gibraltar of a father and is forced to rely on the far more morally ambiguous Raymond Reddington.

Of course this is only a TV show. BUT the point here, again, is the expose of the Hollywood mentality. The Hollywood public persona is that of the politically correct liberal feminist. But when they create shows they want to actually succeed, the powers that be seem to understand that most audience members will respond to a scenario where there is a strong father or father-like figure.

Blacklist 2

Next Up –  The Patriot – Compilation of American Heroes but a Father First

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The Judge 1 by The Judge 2 by

Robert Downey, Jr. (Hank Palmer) contends with Robert Duvall (Joseph Palmer) in a head to head son-father contest in  The Judge. The story revolves around the contentious relationship between Downey's and Duvall’s characters. Hank is a very successful high priced criminal lawyer. Joseph is a renowned small town tough judge. At opening, Joseph Palmer – the Judge – has just suddenly lost his wife to a stroke and Hank comes in for the funeral. The reunion with these two is anything but cordial and the tension between them could have plucked out the high note in Mozart's Queen of the Night aria. Hank makes a hasty post-funeral retreat. But before Hank's plane has left the runway he gets a panicked call from his brother. Joseph has just killed a man with his car. Accident or vengeance? Hank becomes his father’s attorney and it’s not a pretty situation. BUT – the movie is filled with heart, humor and humanity.

I won’t give away any more than I have to but there is a brilliantly written moment in the film I must mention for this piece. During a hurricane quality storm – poetically sympathetic – Hank and Joseph STORM (and I DO intend this quite apt pun) out of the shelter and into the family kitchen to have it out verbally during the height of the maelstrom. During this auditory altercation we find out that Joseph sent Hank to reform school. Downey’s youthful history included drinking, drugs, and almost killing his brother in a car crash. The script (thanks to Quotes from speaks for itself (though I have taken the liberty of asterisking the rather colorful adjectives and invectives):untitled

Judge Joseph Palmer: Is that all you wanted, Henry, was a kind word? An 'atta boy? Then to use your words, you should have come the ***** home! We all waited, quietly, but you never came. Okay? And I was the one she'd <the mom> blame, because you wouldn't come home. Me. Now, was I tough on you? Yes. How'd you turn out, Henry? Waiting tables? A bum?

Hank Palmer: You put me in Juvenile Detention… you sent me to ******* Vanderburgh!

Judge Joseph Palmer: [Interrupting] No, no, no, no, no, you put yourself there.

Hank Palmer: Did I?

Judge Joseph Palmer: Yes.

Hank Palmer: The prosecutor recommended community service. That was your call!

Judge Joseph Palmer: No, no, no, it wouldn't have helped you!

Hank Palmer: I didn't need help, I needed you!

Judge Joseph Palmer: You were high, you rolled a car with your brother in it! He had a major league career ahead of him, a 90 mile-an-hour fast ball, and he runs a turnip shop! You crippled him, you stole his future, and you call me an *****?

Hank Palmer: What do you want from me? I was 17 when that happened. I was 17.

Judge Joseph Palmer: Oooh, "I was 13, I was 17." You were headed down the wrong path! I did what I thought was right.

Hank Palmer: [Holding back tears] You know, I didn't just graduate from law school, I graduated first in my class… I was first in my class… I did really well, dad.

Judge Joseph Palmer: You're welcome.

Hank "blames" his father for sending him to reform school as a youth. Instead  Joseph – the Dad – KNOWS that when Hank was a youth that he, as Hank's father, had to make that hard choice and apply some extremely tough love. Even as an adult Hank didn’t understand. What they did not bring up in the conversation was that Hank was now also a father, so this lesson is a difficult one to face. What Joseph did was absolutely critical to Hank. But it was also something your average mom is just not hard wired to do. I doubt my own ability to have the fortitude to do this and I have personally witnessed mothers who were similarly not equipped to make that kind of terrible, terrible but essential decision. That is what a good father does. He is the bad guy who must make the gut wrenching RIGHT decisions for which everyone will blame him later, but from which he can only pray his child will learn.

Duvall Duvall shake hands by

Next Up – The Blacklist – Even Girl Scouts Get Lost Without a Moral Compass

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Mature George

At the conclusion of Back to the Future George's new found self-respect in 1955 cascades down to his family, instilling in them a respect for themselves, their family, their own lives, and for George all the way into 1985.

Before Marty's intervention, George was a punching bag – literally and figuratively – for Biff. And that malevolent dynamic followed him into adulthood, destroying his confidence and self-respect – until Marty gave him the chance and incentive to fight back. But self respect does not have to be beaten out of a man. It can be leached out, bit by bit, (paraphrasing Shakespeare) through a thousand unnatural cuts by the very people who are supposed to love and support him. In short – if you want a good leader, you must be prepared to be a good follower. This doesn't mean if your trailblazer does something wrong or stupid one shouldn't address it. But it must, even then, be done with a sense towards building up, not tearing down. But the media today revels in every opportunity to tear down or trivialize the institution of fatherhood.

If you want to undermine someone or something you can use the simple expediency of laughing at it – or him. Gone are the days of Father Knows Best Make Room for Daddy My Three Sons

Father Knows Best, Make Room for Daddy, and My Three Sons – all comedies, none took life too seriously and even Dad was occasionally the source of some humor. But it was gentle and respectful, showing that Dad is human and prone to mistakes like the rest of us, but generally demonstrating the importance of Dad in the family. Today the best you might get are shows like Tim Allen's Home Improvement, where Dad is there and involved but pretty much looked at more as one of the kids, but certainly not an especially strong authority figure. And when something goes wrong – who do they blame? Good old Dad. More the kids' pal than their father, he is seen, in today's society, as having all the responsibility but none of the ability to back it up. Kind of like an ill-treated babysitter who is given unruly kids to watch and rules to observe but none of the allowance to discipline which might make establishing some order possible.

Two of the more grotesque and iconic examples of media anti-family propaganda in the guise of entertainment are Married With Children and The Simpsons. Even though the fathers in those shows (Al Bundy in the former and Homer Simpson in the latter) are: married to the mom, faithful, employed, not abusive to their families, not alcoholics or drug addicts, they are shown to be completely idiotic and to fault for the poor upbringing of their children, financial insecurity and lack of social mobility. BUT does it not occur to anyone watching that the woman is not blamed for not stepping up to the plate, for redefining what is arguably a bad family dynamic and socio-economic situation? And, no, I'm not reading too much into these kinds of comedies.

How do you demean, or minimize a person or situation – you laugh at it. When the Dad is regularly the unkind butt of the joke then that diminishes the office of fatherhood. That's not to say that there isn't a LOT of room for humor in any family structure. And a perfectly legitimate sense of fun can be infused into the concept of fatherhood. There have been quite delightful comedies about Dads: the now classic Steve Martin version of

Father of the Bride,Father of the Bride the recent

Mom's Night Out,Mom's Night Out the very charming indie

Chef, Chef just to name a few, all treat fathers and fatherhood in a comic fashion but do so with a sense of respect and appreciation.

BUT, if a strong leader, good father, trailblazing partner is not your cup of tea — if you WANT to create a weenie George in your life – just laugh at him enough. That’ll do it.Dweeb George

Next Up – The Judge – Duvall and Downey, Jr Exchange Heroically Tough Love

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Sound of Music

The Sound of Music – this classic iconic tale has children, singing, nuns, the hills of Austria and nuns – did I mention it has nuns? The Sound of Music story hinges on Maria bringing the family Von Trapp back together after the father steps out of the lives of his children following the death of his wife. The solution, if you note, is not the arrival of Maria, but the recommitment of the dad back into the children's lives. Even when Maria leaves in the middle of the movie subsequent to her becoming aware of her infatuation with Captain Von Trapp, the family is fundamentally healed because the Captain has retaken the mantle of father. Maria's return is the icing on the cake but her return is not essential to the children's ultimate well being.

Kingsman              Kingsman2 by

Kingsman: The Secret Service could not be more in contrast. British comedy drama. Over the top semi-spoof, semi-homage to the spy thriller. Extremely violent, full of profanity. Not a nun to be found. Yet here too the theme plays out. Eggsy is the teen son of a deceased member of an elite secret squad of spy/troubleshooters. In the first 5 minutes of the movie his father is killed in the line of duty. When Eggsy's future mentor, Harry Hart (Colin Firth) brings the news to Eggsy's mom, Eggsy is a young child. Nice middle class home. Sensible widow. Fast forward 17 years and the sensible widow is now a slutty co-dependent case book definition of abused woman in a destructive relationship, living in a tenement with Eggsy and her illegitimate child of the live-in abusive boyfriend. Without the Dad – disaster. Eggsy will eventually step up to the plate but only after Harry has provided Eggsy with the desperately needed father figure.

Two movies with drastically different audience demographics. One's a family-oriented, religiously devout musical, the other a futuristic, somewhat dystopian, occasionally sexually crass, graphically violent action flick. (I'll let you figure out which is which. LOL) If you created a Venn diagram of people who would want to see either movie, you would have an intersecting sliver with little more than a tangent line connecting them.  (OK – I've seen both but, then I watch a LOT of movies.) You really cannot get much more of a contrast between styles than Sound of Music and Kingsman. The only thing they share superficially is the fact there are British accents in both.  But both share, unexpectedly, the EXACT same world-view on the family – that there is no real family without a strong father figure.

How is that relevant? Well, my point here is that there seems to be an instinctive understanding, even in film makers who do not have sensitivity for conventional morals, that a solid father figure, such as Captain Von Trapp in SoM and Harry in Kingsman, who has the best interests of the youth in their care, is vital to the well being of those young people. That a mom, while nice to have around, is NOT the lynch pin that a family should depend on. Sorry ladies. And I am the mother of six.

Next Up: Back to the Father – Part VIII: Laughing at Dad

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