I said in a Facebook status update that I love the book Ender’s Game. I do. I read it every year. It is one of my all-time favorite reads. In both print and even more in the unabridged audiobook. To me Stephan Rudnicki will always be the voice of Ender, and Gabrielle de Cuir the voice of Valentine.
But I had mixed feelings about going to see this film for two reasons:
1) I hate giving more money to the author Orson Scott Card, who has proven himself to be one hell of a bigot in recent years. His anti-gay rants bother me. Big time. But I am not going to allow that to not let me enjoy a dramatization of one of my all-time favorite books, which have NOTHING to do with his close-minded bigotry. His being a bigot does not take away from Ender’s Game being the award winning novel that it is.
2) I was incredibly leery of the film from the first previews. All the kids were teenagers. Enders Game is a story of children. Ender is 6 when he goes to Battle School, 10 when he graduates, 12 when he, ahem… finishes Command School. In this film all the actors are teenagers in the 12-15 year ago; the girls look to be more like 15-17. And the launch group seems to be half-girls.
But I told myself to "forget the book." This is a movie, it is a loose adaptation of the book. Enjoy it for what it is. The teachers are still the enemy, and the enemy’s gate is down. Yeah, ok. So I said that 10 or 20 times, and went to the theater.
I managed, for the most time to keep my “why isn’t this here? why did they do that with that character? etc…” out of my view. i absolutely loved being immersed into the world of Ender’s Game, and thought some of it was really good.
I think Asa Butterfield did a great job as Ender. Same with Harrison Ford and Ben Kingsley. I loved seeing Mazer sitting in Ender’s room, in that prostrate position. Just like in a drawing of it from the graphic novelization. I was sold. I could live Viola Davis cast as Major Anderson, I guess the major could be a woman. It worked.
I have ONE casting issue that I could not get away from the book with. Ender was a stinking foot taller than Bonzo Madrid? Why on earth would Bonzo even be intimidating, other than that he was a bit muscular? I wanted — No — I needed Bonzo to be a foot taller, and intimidating.
But I tried to think, If I did not know this story, would I walk away understanding it, or persuaded by it? For example, they move very quickly, it seems as if the whole story takes place in maybe a year. Ok, I guess… but did Ender do anything in that short time which would make him stand out as the one last great hope for humanity? I don’t know. It seemed forced. WHY was Ender better than Alai? Or Bean, or Petra? Or any of them?
And I started to cringe when Ender was holding Petra’s hand. I thought, NO! Don’t go there! There is no kissing in battle school!!! Luckily, that didn’t happen. But it was almost there. And if they did, I would probably have burst out swearing in Battle school slang.
My son asked me when it was over - “what was that with Valentine and the dream?” I don’t think they pulled off the ending very well. I got it; but I heard several people walking out kind of shaking their heads, “this is it?” “What happened there?”
I think the film-makers could have kept the film basically the same length and managed to spread out the story a bit. They could have made a transition with something like “two years later” or something like that. And still used the same actors. They were teenagers anyways. It might have made for a more compelling story on its own.
Did I enjoy it? Yes, was I disappointed? Not as much as I expected to be. Indeed, I’ll probably get the Blu-ray. In many ways my criticism of the film is a lot like my criticism of the first JJ Abrams Trek (No, Not about the alternate universe, don’t go there!) in terms of plot holes and plot devices that did not quite work for me (i.e., take a disgraced cadet and make him first officer of the flagship, yeah, that makes sense!). If I were to grade the film, I’d give it a low B. Still a good paper, but not quite where it could be.
Some advice for those of you iPhone and iPad users chomping at the bit for iOS7, which will drop in the next several hours.
1. Backup to itunes and to iCloud FIRST. Gotta make sure you don’t lose everything if something goes wrong.
2. Don’t whine about the new icons. In a week, you won’t even notice them.
3. The iPad beta software was buggy through the last release. No promises it has attained the “smooth as butter” quality of approval. The iPhone 5, however, is so smooth that when you say “Parkay” you will swear you heard “butter”
4. Your battery will initially drain faster - not only because you are using the phone MORE to test out the new features - but because the battery needs to be re-calibrated. After the OS is fully setup, do a hard reset - Hold down Power/Home for about 15 seconds and let it reset. In a day or so, the battery life will be normal.
Be Safe Out There.
It is being reported that the US agreed to a plan to remove chemical weapons from Syria by mid-2014, avoiding military strikes. The Obama administration will claim victory and argue that were it not for the credible threat of US military strikes, the Russians and Syrians would never have agreed to this. Sure, if that’s what they need to do to save face, fine.
But what are the collateral consequences of President Obama’s foray into Bush-like warmongering? The president alienated his already frayed and tattered core constituents, and damaged his public approval ratings. The president gave the GOP the ability to look like they are peace-niks. He forced his own Party to decide between supporting their party leader and sacrificing principles or siding with their disingenuous GOP counterparts (who never met a war in the modern period they didn’t like, but were primarily opposed to this just BECAUSE Obama was calling for it.)
So, now that this war threat is apparently over, the GOP can go back to their traditional hawk stances. They can return to the process of trying to dismantle federal social programs, and further the interest of the extremely well-to-do top 1 percent. Government shut down anyone?
And maybe, just maybe, the news can return to the issue of the crimes being committed by the NSA, FBI, DEA, & others in terms of violating the civil liberties of the American people on a monumental scale.
A friend of mine Brian Tessier just wrote a letter to Pope Francis, that I think is worth sharing with all of you - and I encourage you to share it with others.
September 13, 2013
I never thought I would actually sit down to craft a letter to a person who is the Bishop or Rome, Head of the Catholic Church but more importantly a representation of the Christ Spirit that does exist on earth. Admittedly, I have watched since your taking office like many others in my position to see who you were going to be and more importantly how you were going to lead. I can say, while I never lost faith, you have restored hope.
I was raised in a devout Catholic family, attended church regularly, was an altar boy and attended and graduated from a Catholic College. I always held my faith in my heart but also explored and listened to those of other faiths and found that as long as someone was on a path toward goodness, then, there was an inherent worth and dignity due them, regardless of their status in life, their past or other distinctions as I saw everyone as a child of god. In fact, I do not think there is a faith in the world that does not hold children in the highest regard. Christ, spoke often of children and what they bring and their inherent spirit and innate faith. Even today, I consider myself as a child of God.
I grew to maturity, suffered hardship but never lost faith or hope. I was never one not to follow my dreams and passions and pursued one of those despite all odds to become the adoptive father to two children who I adopted from Foster Care. My sons were born into this world in less than perfect beginnings. One born addicted to drugs, the other who suffered at the hands of a man while he was in utero and while and infant and many other things. By the grace of God, they survived and through what I call divine providence, we were brought together as a family.
As both of my children are latin and were born Catholic, I felt it was their inherent birthright to be baptized in the church and raised to follow the footsteps of Jesus in all of the magical simplicity and love that he brought to the world. I asked about having my children baptized and was told “NO”. Through a prominent Bishop in the US, I had the inquiry go all the way to Rome and the answer was still “NO”. Ironic as I am a distant relative of the late Pope John Paul, as I am of Polish descent. While I maintained Faith, I lost hope.
The reason I was given was that because I am a Gay man, the church would not baptize them. So, for the purported sins of the father my children were and are denied their birthright. Ultimately, as I wanted my children raised in a faith tradition, I left the church and have been raising them in another faith where they and I were welcomed as a family without regard to anything but the love that binds us.
I have also worked tirelessly to help adoptive parents become families and with the LGBT community to help children come from Foster Care to a forever home to be nurtured and loved. All the while I had faith, yet, when the church abruptly closed Catholic Charities across the United States over the issue of placing children in LGBT homes with loving parents, I was one of the people who saw 1000’s of children immediately displaced. Would Christ have done such a thing and turned his back on the children. Would John the Baptist have denied Jesus, baptism in the river Jordan based on some extrinsic quality?
￼So, as I watch you convene the world in prayers for peace, touch the young, the sick, the poor without regard for the external trappings, I simply ask why my children are not entitled to that grace and I am therefore not allowed a place in the house of worship I was raised in along with my sons that does not disparage who I love but recognizes the immense capacity I have for love?
On Twitter as: @NTtionalFather
Two days ago someone left a note in a bathroom in the classroom building I teach and work in. The note said there would be a bomb in the building.
The University went into what I would consider a high panic mode. The initial response was to close the building, and bring in dogs to do a sweep (after calling the FBI). This was appropriate, even though the threat was considered low to moderate.
They then sent an email to all 20,000 students alerting them, that classes would not be cancelled, but that only two entrances to the building would be open, and anyone entering would be subject to a search of all bags/purses.
So, yesterday morning, they started the day with another sweep with the dogs. I have nothing against that. Made sense. It was an appropriate response. Nothing was found. And then they began what is turning into a 3 day long security theater facade. All with the best intentions of course, but a reaction that far exceeds the nature of the threat.
The lines for warrantless, suspicion-less, searches was incredibly long. But more importantly, the administration completely ignored the constitutional rights of the faculty, staff, and students who use the building. There is NO established exception to the Fourth Amendment’s requirements of probable cause and a warrant to conduct a search. Yet, in the post-911 world of a culture of fear, all reason and rights go out the door with any threat. Even a juvenile act of leaving a piece of paper in a bathroom.
What is sad is that most students seemed to accept the violation of their rights, like sheep going to the slaughterhouse. A few protested “you do not have to consent to a search to go to class!” Members of the administration were seen outside the building joking, “ok, you can frisk me!” as if this was all perfectly acceptable. Yet, it is not funny, nor is it acceptable. Our rights should not be jettisoned just at the mere mention of the words public safety. ”Security measures” in an airport are bad enough, but they should not be given free reign to throw away rights to enter a classroom building on a state university campus. IF the threat was REAL, they would have closed the building. I know if I thought the threat was real, I wouldn’t have taught in the building, or even have been there. Heck, I am not dying in that building. And I think I have a far greater risk of death from the building’s elevator, than from a bomb.
I protected my own constitutional rights, by not bringing my bag with me. I was not going to consent to an illegal search - not because I had ANYTHING to hide; but because my privacy rights do not require me to consent in such a situation. Privacy and security are not mutually exclusive. You do not have to give up privacy for security.
Faculty were told if they felt “uncomfortable” they could cancel classes (I don’t think anyone did), some students emailed, saying they weren’t coming to class, as they were nervous. Administrators were going from classroom to classroom to see if classes were occurring, marking something down on a clipboard. Deans instructed department chairs to account for their faculty; we were told to tell our chair when we entered or left the building.
It was security theater. And at the end of the day, there was no bomb. I mean come on, how many times have notes like this been found on college campuses? This is what happens when we live in a culture of fear, in a national insecurity state. In that culture of fear, there is a tendency to over-react, lest one is accused of “not doing enough.” There is a tendency to take measures that inadvertently create more fear than is warranted.
YET the charade of security theater continues for at least two more days.
Will the sheep continue to be complacent today if it rains mid-morning?
The administration’s argument for how violating our Fourth Amendment rights is “legal” under the Patriot Act. - Yeah, ok. Whatever, Mr. president. Obama, Bush, all the same when it comes to this crap. Can I have the money I gave you last year back??