Review “Mad Max: Fury Road”

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Mad Max: Fury Road is a fantastic movie. I will state right up front that I love action movies. I love action adventure, sci-fi action, fantasy action, action thrillers, action comedies, you name it, I like it. Now, not all action movies are good movies and I will not see a movie just because it is an action movie. Unless I’m home battling a cold. Then I can lay on the couch all day long watching horrible Sy-Fy channel (don’t you just hate their new spelling?) original movies. In a cold medicine induced haze even the true terribleness of those movies are fun. Like the original Mad Max, Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior, and Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdrome, Mad Max: Fury Road was directed by George Miller who also shares writing credit on all four films. The film stars Tom Hardy as the title character and Charlize Theron.

Let’s talk about Charlize Theron’s character Imperator Furiosa for a moment. Because she is awesome and because well-known “men’s rights” blogger Aaron Clarey has issued a call to all “real men” to boycott the movie for its “feminist agenda” and all manner of other horrible, no-good, terrible, liberal whatevers. George Miller is on record as stating that the movie did not start out with a feminist agenda, but that the mechanics of the story went in that direction. I don’t care whether George Miller is feminist, or meant to make a feminist movie. What I do care about is that there are a LOT of REAL women of all ages in this movie who are bad ass in any number of ways. And it shows women’s true strength as well as the one thing about them that makes them most vulnerable and is exploited to this day in all manner of ways; their reproductive abilities. Charlize Theron’s character is strong, empathetic, discerning, caring, formidable, capable, and fearless when needed, but understanding completely the odds against her and it is all of those qualities, even the seeming “feminine” or “soft” of them that make her so bad ass. The other women’s parts aren’t as large and they don’t have a lot of time to flesh out their characters, but they are all well written and well acted and important to the movie. And this profusion of women characters who are there for more than just eye candy, make this movie so much better than the usual action flick. Don’t get me wrong. I like eye candy as much as the next person. As a heterosexual woman I enjoy seeing gorgeous, fit men on the big screen as much as the next woman. But, I get to see those guys being more than just fit and gorgeous and it is so refreshing to see the same from women characters who are more than just the “token” strong woman who’s also the romantic interest of the male character.

As much as I appreciate Charlize Theron’s character and work in this movie, and she is the co-star, the story is still Mad Max’s. Max has the biggest character arc in this story, and changes the most due to the circumstances. There is one other male character with a similar arc and change that is also quite well done, that I won’t discuss to avoid spoilers. Tom Hardy’s Max is truly mad. More so, I think, than any of the previous incarnations of Max. He’s the kind of crazy that would get a person institutionalized in a pre-apocalyptic world. And the genius I think of Miller’s story is that Max is not the driver of this story. He’s sucked into other’s stories right from the beginning and is forced along for the ride very much against his will. This is something I think that men’s right proponents don’t seem to get. Their life is not just their story. Every one around them has their own life and story and sometimes they overlap in good ways and bad, but you will never make it through this life without allies, no matter their gender. Making entire other groups of people the enemy will never work out for you in the long run. And trust me, in a post-apocalyptic scenario you are going to want some bad ass women on your side. That is the reason a strong male character like Max survives. His strength is not just in his maleness, but his ability to see others as friend or foe based on their actions, not their gender or sexual orientation or skin color or any other thing that some people use as excuses to see themselves as superior.

George Miller clearly had a bigger budget than especially the first two Mad Max movies. The cinematography is appropriately post-apocalyptic. There is very little color other than the beiges and browns and grays of a desert world with very little water. The music is it’s own character in this movie. Literally. And I’ll leave it at that, other than to say it’s one of my favorites. The costumes and make-up are all great as well, showcasing the crazy, parched world where the haves and the have nots are easily delineated. Which brings me to the other aspect of this movie that I loved. I have no idea of George Miller’s politics or even if he meant to make a statement about inequality with this movie. But this movie shows clearly the atrocity of a few people having almost all of the resources, leaving the masses scrabbling for scraps and most importantly, the inherent instability of that kind of system. And to my point above, the masses, at the end of the day, care less about the gender, skin color etc. of their leaders, than their ability to make their lives better and will embrace change gladly.

Now if you could care less about the political and social nuances of a good action flick and are just there for the the stunts, explosions and naked women, this movie will not disappoint. The stunts are jaw-dropping and apparently none of the vehicle stunts were done with CGI, they were all real-world. This movie was so intense that it literally wore me out. I was so tense throughout the movie that a couple of times I realized I was hurting my sides I was squeezing my arms together so hard. I saw it in 3-D and while I hate the bits that come flying out at you really fast making you jump, this movie wasn’t terribly egregious in their use. And there was one bit near the end that was totally inspired. There was quite a bit of applause at the end of this movie, which doesn’t happen very often in a movie theater. I highly recommend this movie. It is quite a ride and will give you something to think about along the way.

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Top 11 Reasons to vote Republican

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1. You are all for the military industrial complex. You think it’s great that the U.S. spends more on defense than the next 7 countries combined. You are absolutely convinced we are about to be overrun by ISIS this year. In the past it was Al Quaeda, and Saddam Hussein with his nonexistent WMD’s and before that it was…well anyway, you believe all the war-mongering propaganda, so the uber-rich can get obscenely rich off of war, and bonus points, you get to wave the American flag and be oh so proud of your patriotism.

2. And speaking of the military you believe this country is way too broke to be taking good care of all the veterans of all the wars that you wave your flag over and feel so proud over. You nod your head when your Republican politicians claim that there just isn’t enough money to make sure veterans are adequately cared for and I’m assuming make peace with that by believing “sacrifices” must be made to keep this country safe. Because ISIS. And Immigrants. Which brings us to…

3. You believe immigrants are evil. You believe they are here to take over the country and take away everything you’ve worked so hard to build! They are nothing but takers who want a piece of the American pie and there is not enough to go around! The fact that unless you are 100% Native American, you are descended from immigrants, DOES NOT matter because YOUR immigrant descendants BUILT this country after stealing it and committing genocide against the native inhabitants. And there could never, ever, ever, be hard-working, smart, entrepreneurial immigrants now that could be awesome for our economy and country because they all come from, you know, ssshhh…”brown countries.” But you’re not racist.

4. You believe that if you believe something, then your “rights” around your beliefs are sacrosanct and you can behave as you wish because other people don’t get rights that differ from your beliefs. Ever. So you think gays are icky? And you have an ancient book that mentions gays are icky so you get to tell those icky people what rights they have and what rights they don’t have and if you don’t get to keep them from having rights then YOUR rights are being violated because remember? Icky. Oh and that book, that also says slaves are good, shellfish is bad, stoning your wife, ok. YOU get to choose which one of the rules in your book MUST be followed or oh my god you’re being PERSECUTED. Persecute: to harass or punish in a manner designed to injure, grieve, or afflict; specifically to cause to suffer because of belief. So it’s ok to injure, grieve or afflict a gay person by denying them civil rights that YOU enjoy because of your “belief” and that is not persecution, but just by the fact that you DON’T get to deny a gay person a particular right because of your belief YOU are being persecuted. UM. NO. PERIOD. See bold above. But your Republican politicians need your votes and will deny people’s civil rights happily to keep their rich overlords happy.

5. And along the same lines as number 4 you believe that “babies” are “babies” the instant they are conceived and MUST have all the protections afforded actual alive and breathing people (unless you think they’re icky, then you get to say which protections they should have) so you have the right, no the DUTY to tell a woman how she should determine her reproductive life. You’re right, she’s wrong, she doesn’t get a choice. Because your book. You know the one with shellfish is bad? And we all know doctors are just in it because, well, they’re wrong too, so there. And why leave it at abortion? You need to make sure those slutty women keep their legs together so you work to make accessing affordable birth control difficult. And if closing down health clinics to keep women from having access to abortions and birth control also makes them lose access to life saving cancer screenings and medications, then oh well too bad, so sad, they should just work harder so they can afford the 1,000’s of dollars a private practice doctor would charge. Right? You made yours, they should make theirs. Right?

6. You believe Obamacare (The Affordable Care Act) is a socialist program designed to wipe out America as we know it turning it into a disgusting, horrible place where most people (it should be ALL people, a single payer Medicare system for ALL but can you imagine? that would definitely signal the apocalypse, am I right?) can actually afford to get medical treatment for themselves before things get so bad they have no choice but to show up at the emergency room, where taxpayers have to foot the bill. It’s too bad there are laws in place that state ER’s have to treat patients regardless of their ability to pay, am I right? Because that would free up more of your hard earned tax dollars for the next war to keep you safe from whoever. But never fear, your hard-working Republican politicians are keeping red states safe from the tyrannies of affordable healthcare by refusing to take federal funding from the U.S. government to expand Medicaid in their states. I mean healthcare isn’t a RIGHT, right? You should get it only if you can pay for it, right? Or have a job that provides it for you. If your job doesn’t provide it, that just means you’re a lazy moocher, you know? And hey, keeping insurance companies from putting lifetime coverage limits on policies, denying people coverage due to pre-existing conditions, dumping people who get really ill from their insurance because they didn’t put on their application they had acne as a kid so that means they were trying to defraud the company, are all bad, bad, bad, socialist things. Because Obama.

7. You believe the 2nd amendment should be put on a pedestal and worshipped above all others. EVERYONE should have the right to open carry any gun they want, with any ammunition they want, anywhere they want, without any of that big government hassle of background checks or waiting periods, because THE CONSTITUTION! So what that 10’s of thousand die each year and more 10’s of thousands more are injured each year, many of them children because THE CONSTITUTION! I mean good guy responsible gun owners are the only thing keeping people safe! And when those responsible gun owners blow off their own heads when they feel sad, or kill their spouses when they feel mad or lose their children because the kid just didn’t LISTEN when they were told not to touch the gun laying around, or some mentally ill person shoots up a movie theater or a kindergarten classroom, it’s all just a TRAGIC ACCIDENT, or GOD’s WILL. Certainly not the gun owner’s fault. And the NRA and the Republicans are working hard all across the country to make sure there are no barriers whatsoever to gun ownership and where you can carry one so you should feel safer already!

8. You believe in the free market. You believe that the only way for this country to work is to de-regulate everything because by golly the market will work! And it does work, for the top 1% of earners. They are so happy you believe that if there are no government regulations on corporations, that if their are no regulations on the shenanigan’s of Wall Street and the TOO BIG TO FAIL banks, that if there are no consumer protections, that if taxes for the super rich are super low and even lower on their massive amount of “carried interest” because they are getting away with not calling it “income”… I could go on and on but, if you haven’t figured it out by now you won’t. You’ll sit there, proud Republican that you are, hunched under the uber-wealthy, waiting for something, anything, to trickle down to you, never realizing you are being gleefully shat upon and nothing else.

9. You are happy with the state of education in this country. You are happy to change history taught to our young so that slavery and racism in this country seem like no big deal. You are happy to deny science because your book! The one that says slavery is great! And also because your corporate overlords don’t want regulation, so no science! There’s no rise in the sea levels, because you read articles on the internet and therefore know more than scientists! There’s no proof that global warming is causing more and more catastrophic weather events around the world because you don’t read scientific articles because scientists have no idea what they’re talking about (or maybe you don’t understand them, but hey that’s just my opinion). You believe that your book is the book and any other book is just hooey so you try to have your “creationism” taught in schools and Oh my goodness, you’re actually making headway! Pretty soon, if your Republican politicians keep gerrymandering so they can stay in power despite the majority of American’s wanting nothing to do with them, you’ll have the theocracy you’ve always wanted. God’s law over Man’s law. And of course YOU’LL get to decide what God’s law means. Am I right?

10. You believe in American Exceptionalism. You believe America is the greatest country on earth! You think America has the best healthcare available. We don’t. We used to have the best educated workforce in the world. We don’t anymore. For reasons why see number 9. You think all babies are the bomb! So much so you want to force every woman to carry every pregnancy to term. And yet the US ranks 25th in infant mortality rates of full term babies. I wonder if it has anything to do with our lousy healthcare and the determination of Republicans to control a woman’s body. Just saying’. Oh and the U.S., the richest country on earth ranks 34th on child poverty. You know little kids not having enough to eat or shoes for their feet. Because once women have been forced to have those little ones, those little ones are on their own. Got to pull themselves up by their bootstraps. If they have shoes. And if their parents weren’t lazy moochers it wouldn’t be a problem, am I right? (Never mind the fact that the vast majority of the poor in this country are working poor. I mean, we wouldn’t want those corporations raking in billions of profits for their shareholders every year to have to pay people a living wage. Bootstraps don’t you know.) And we have the best infrastructure in the world! Not anymore. Nope, Republicans won’t raise taxes to pay for it, because trickle-down will start working any time!!! And we have the best tech in the world! Nope. And good grief I could go on all day.

11. You believe Medicare would work better as a voucher system, because the free market! And you believe Social Security is going broke and needs to be privatized, because the free market! Social Security is not going broke by the way, except through the thievery of the people you vote for who “borrow” from the fund to pay for war and shit and then have to convince you old folks shouldn’t get an “entitlement” that THEY paid into their entire lives so that you won’t ever realize it was stolen in the first place.

So why is the richest country in the world behind in so many areas? Well, I’ve said several times already, but it’s worth repeating. The super rich buy politicians to do their bidding. The Supreme Court made it that much easier with their disastrous Citizens United decision with a 5 to 4 majority from the conservative justices. The Republicans are the party most indebted to the 1% although there are plenty of culpable Democrats as well. And the Republicans have jumped on the Fundamentalist Christian bandwagon, knowing that will buy them that segment of the conservative vote. Because what they are doing to this country isn’t stupidity or lack of education or even “belief” in God. Most of them have more education than 99% of the conservatives in this country could even dream of. Nope, it is calculated political horse shit from a party whose soul is bought and paid for by a few oligarchs. And they will sit and watch children and old people starve, allow tens of thousands to die from gun violence. Allow tens of thousands more to lose their homes and many hundreds or thousands die from climate catastrophes. Watch as people die on collapsing bridges and antiquated rail systems. Send more and more young people off to never ending wars to be maimed or killed in order to “keep America safe” from the people their foreign policies cultivate to rage. Refuse to fund taking care of the needs of veterans of those wars. And all you Republicans, 99% who are not and never will be the wealthy that your politicians kowtow to will keep voting for them against your own self-interests and those of your parents and grandparents and children. And I will never, never, never understand how seemingly decent people are so callous to other’s pain and so ignorant of what is being done to them just so they can proudly wear the label “conservative”.

Middle-earth’s “master of light” Passes Away …

I agree so much with A Tolkienist’s Perspectives thoughts on Andrew Lesnie’s work and share his sorrow that we will not have any more of his movie magic to enjoy.

A Tolkienist's Perspective

Andrew Lesnie

Andrew Lesnie (1956-2015)

What looked like the start of a positive and optimistic day, soon turned into a melancholic struggle.

Andrew Lesnie, the master cinematographer whose indispensable contribution brought Middle-earth to life, passed away earlier today.

To general audiences the names of actors and directors are perhaps at the forefront of a film-viewing experience.

To someone like me who loves the technical aspects of filmmaking, the work of every major crew member behind the camera is of deep interest.

As with many others, I was introduced to Andrew Lesnie and his work via The Lord of the Rings trilogy. Suffice to say, the impressive visuals captivated my young mind and made me believe in the wonders of Middle-earth.

Peter Jackson may have had the vision and direction, but Lesnie brought the artistry to the moving images.

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Why do People Deny the Science Around Climate Change?

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I’ve been having a bit of a back and forth with a fellow blogger in the comments section of one of his posts in which he states with all kinds of authority why rising sea levels are not and never will be a problem. He is not a scientist of any stripe, so I’m not sure where he gets his information, but it matters not because it is not only bogus, it also makes no sense. I should know better than to argue with these guys because there is no logic in their belief of a mass conspiracy to, well, I haven’t figured out what they think the reason is for such a conspiracy. I’ve been accused of being a loyal follower of a cult (?!) because I believe the science that shows that climate change is a real threat. I find that assertion bizarre, but whatever. So in honor of Earth Day (a day late) I’m sharing this beautiful video. It is a lovely poetic piece. I certainly don’t expect it to change the minds of those whose heads are so firmly in the sand on this issue, if they don’t believe the science, a poetic rapper certainly won’t convince them. I just think it’s lovely and wanted to share.

Beauty in the Mist

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It has been very dreary in my neck of the woods of late. Always threatening rain, with very little sunshine. I know it is spring and we need the rain. But it seems like weeks with cloudy skies and just a bit of rain. It’s wearing on me to be honest. Texas is supposed to be sunny! At least most of the time.

But this morning as I was walking to my car on the way to work, on another misty, gray, rainy day, feeling a little blue, a bit of beauty caught my eye and I just had to stop and take a picture. Raindrops on a spiderweb surrounded by the most luscious green, and that one little thing gave me such a boost. I hope it does for you as well. Happy Spring!

Spiderweb on a holly bush after rain.

Spiderweb on a holly bush after rain.

Musical Elephants

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This video made me smile broadly and every time I think about it I smile some more. Elephants bebopping, shaking their booties and playing the piano. What could be better? There is more and more proof that animals are so much smarter and have such a capacity for joy and growth than they’ve been given credit for in the past. We must, must, must, make conservation of all animals a priority. Take a look at the video. You won’t be sorry you took the two minutes out of your life to share in the joy of these elephants!

Equal Pay Day

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Today is Equal Pay Day. It is the day that brings us a sort of divisive political holiday, representing how far past Dec. 31 women must work to earn as much as men did the previous calendar year. Put another way, for the average woman to earn as much as the average man did in 2014, she has to work 104 days into 2015. But oops, look how far behind she is in 2015 now. And that yearly difference is not made up during her lifetime. The average woman loses $420,000 dollars of income over the course of her employment years due to this disparity, making only .78 to every $1.00 earned by the average man. And this impacts not only her yearly income, but her retirement income since a) Social Security payments are based on your earnings, but also, b) it’s a lot harder to save for yourself when you’re struggling to make ends meet. And since women still on average live longer than men, it impacts them even more.

In 1936 my grandmother was married with a 10 year old son, a 7 year old son and was pregnant with my mother. This was in the middle of the Great Depression. In May, when she was 6 mos. pregnant with my mother, my grandfather was eating peanuts, throwing them into the air and catching them in his mouth. He choked on one and inhaled it. The peanut in his lung gave him pneumonia. This was before antibiotics and the pneumonia combined with the enlarged heart that he got serving in World War I, killed him a week or so later. My grandmother gave birth to my mother in September and then had to go to work to support her family. Her mother, my great-grandmother Mary Anne whom I’m named after (and who was supported by my grandfather before his death because there was no Social Security at that time) looked after my mother and uncles while my grandmother went to work as a teacher. So my grandmother was working to support herself, 3 children and her mother.

At one point, my grandmother went to the school board to request to be paid the same as the male teachers on staff. Keep in mind that this was in a small town and everyone knew her circumstances. The board unanimously denied her request, telling her with straight faces that the reason men made so much more than she did was because they had families to support. When she politely pointed out that she was supporting her family since her husband’s death, they told her that she needed to get out there and find herself another husband. My grandmother never remarried. She taught for many years and then became a principal until her retirement. She was never paid, either as a teacher or a principal, anywhere close to what her male counterparts made throughout her long career. She was respected and well loved in her school district, but never deemed worthy to earn as much as a man.

It is 2015 and things really aren’t much different. For any number of reasons, there are large numbers of single parent families, the vast majority of whom are led by women. Child support laws are enforced with varying degrees of success from place to place, with far too many places doing a terrible job. The number of men who abdicate their financial responsibilities to their children is outrageous. And yet it is the women who are more often than not demonized in our culture. The vast majority of them work, many times more than one job at a time to support their children, on 78 cents to the dollar. Equal pay is not something that should be controversial. People who earn more money spend more money, benefitting the entire economy. Fewer children would live in poverty if their mothers earned more money. It is far past time that the sexist, misogynist views that women don’t deserve to make as much, or should be taken care of by a male, or whatever goes on in the mind of the majority, male power structure, are cast aside. Equal pay is a win, win for everyone.

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How Do Regular People Afford Flight School?

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It is outrageously expensive. And the cost is on top of the bachelor’s degree that you have to have in order to be a pilot. Take a look at the link below for my son’s GoFundMe page for flight school. Check out his story and regardless of whether it is something you would like to contribute to, please share far and wide. The more people that see it, the more likely there are those who would find it something they would like to help with. Thank you, thank you, thank you!

Taking Flight

What is the Definition of Beauty?

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According to this video from Dove, each person, in this case woman, defines beauty for themselves. And I so identified with what this said. I had tears in my eyes as I was watching it, because as a woman I feel the sting of looking in the mirror and wondering if I measure up to society’s standards and believing that I don’t most of the time. 96% of women would not classify themselves as beautiful although 80% did say that there was something beautiful about them. I applaud Dove for bringing to light how the harsh way media, advertising and male expectation cloud a woman’s perception of herself from a very early age. While not every person is going to find every woman beautiful, because beauty is such a subjective idea, every woman should be able to say that they are beautiful and believe it. What did you think of this video and how women are perceived and perceive themselves? Let me know in the comments!