Archive for September, 2010

Gattaca Film Review

Tuesday, September 28th, 2010

In the not-so-distant future, companies have adopted the practice of screening their employees based on their genetic makeup. A young man with a congenital heart condition attempts to assume the identity of a former athlete with perfect genes. The reason this young man goes to such risky lengths to attain a job may surprise you. . .

Gattaca is a 1997 sci-fi film written and directed by Andrew Niccol (screenwriter of 1998’s The Truman Show and director of 2005’s Lord of War). Starring Ethan Hawke, Jude Law, and Uma Thurman, Gattaca succeeds on virtually all levels as an intellectually provocative sci-fi drama. Featuring no aliens, no robots, and no epic intergalactic starfights, Gattaca’s attractions lie in its sleekly costumed casts, stylish sets, and absorbing story that raises interesting ethical questions about the nature of science.

Although the entire cast gives solid performances, Ethan Hawke’s is especially note-worthy as he embodies the character of the flawed Everyman with remarkable sympathy and conviction.

Perhaps most importantly, Gattaca succeeds in breaking the chains set on the science-fiction genre by Kubrick’s 2001. For too many years the genre has relied on technology and special effects, telling redundant tales of good versus evil on the intergalactic scale (Star Wars).

Although the film suffers from a final sequence that may be less than satisfying, it remains overall an indispensably fresh contribution to the sci-fie genre, with enough thought-provocation and beauty to make it a classic of modern science fiction.

A Creatively-Bent Paper Clip

Thursday, September 16th, 2010

I pulled into the gravel parking lot of my apartment complex. As always, the strange guy who’s perpetually taking apart lawn mowers and mopeds was hard at it. This summer, I have seen him on a daily basis in front of his rented garage, working diligiently, obsessively, perhaps insanely on a lawn mower or a moped or some other unidentified machine. I had never actually exchanged words with the man, and the only encounter I had with him involved him mistakenly saying hi to my wife and asking her how her baby was. We had gotten out of our car and were walking into our building when he had said this. We stopped and looked at him. He came walking towards us and stopped when he realized my wife was not who he thought she was. He held his hand out, open-palmed, and apologized.

“I’m sorry,” he said. “I thought you were Holly. You look like her.”

Sarah laughed uncomfortably and said it was okay. The man walked away and returned to his work in front of his garage.

So as I got out of my car with a paper clip in my pocket, I thought this might be a good opportunity to talk to this man. I slowly walked toward the garage, my feet crunching on the gravel. I could hear his radio blaring. It was a song by Beyonce.

When I reached his little driveway, I saw that he was laying with his back to the pavement. He had an old push-lawn mower propped up and his head was buried underneath it, right below the blades. I could see the side of his face. Droplets of sweat were running down his cheeks. He was squinting harshly, as if he were straining to see something underneath the mower.

He didn’t notice me. I don’t think he could hear me over the radio.¬†Inside his garage, there were three other push mowers. I don’t know if they worked or not. There were two large work benches, completely covered in old tools. There was also a riding lawn mower which I know was operable because I had seen him mowing the apartment lawns with it before. There was also his little moped. The moped had a wire basket attached to the back for transporting cargo. There was an orange flag jutting up from the back. I had seen him riding it before on the street. When riding, he wears a helmet and a bright neon vest. I had always held the opinion that his mental functions were not entirely normal.

I stood for several moments just watching him poke his head around the bottom of the mower. There were some tools lying next to him. He wore khaki shorts, running shoes, and a t-shirt, his usual attire. He was an average sized guy, about 5’9” and probably 170 pounds. He was always clean-shaven and his brown hair was medium length and a little wavy. If you just glanced at him for a second you’d think he’s normal. But if you stared longer than three seconds, he’d do something to indicate his mental state, whether it was by talking to himself, glancing unexpectedly at the sky, or suddenly grimacing, seemingly unprovoked.

Finally, he reached for one of the tools by his side. His hand felt out the pavement, but couldn’t find the particular tool he sought. He pulled his head out from underneath the mower. Then he noticed me, not five feet from him, staring at him.

We looked at each other for a few moments in silence. The sun was on his face, and he squinted.

“Hey,” I said, sounding friendly.

“Hi,” he said.

His voice was flat, perhaps even a bit suspicious.

“Can you help me with something?” I said.

He was still lying on his back. He brought his hand to his forehead, sheilding his eyes from the sun.

“What’s that?” he said. “You need something fixed?”

I shook my head. “No,” I said.

I reached in my pocket and pulled out the paper clip. I pinched it between my fingers and held it up so he could see.

I said, “Could you bend this paper clip in a creative way?”

He stared at the paper clip for a moment. “Huh?” he said.

I said, “I need someone to bend this paper clip in a creative way. A paper clip is a simple machine, and you’re good with machines.”

“Oh,” he said. His face seemed more comfortable after I’d told him he was good with machines.

He scooted out from under the mower and stood up.

“Let’s see it,” he said, holding out his hand.

I placed the paper clip in his hand. He pinched it between his fingers. He held it close to his face.

“Looks like a regular paper clip,” he said.

“It is,” I said. “Right now, it’s bent in the standard way that paper clips are bent. But you can un-bend it and bend it in a different way. That’s what I need someone to do.”

“Okay,” he said.

He pulled the paper clip apart until it was almost straight, save for the few bends and juts that always remain when you try to bend a paper clip straight.

“How should I bend it?” he said.

“However you want,” I said.

He nodded. Now a song by Lady Gaga came on the radio.

He bent the paper clip in two spots towards the opposite ends at ninety-degree angles, so that it looked like half of a square. He looked at it for a moment.

“What is it?” I said.

He shook his head. “I don’t know.”

We looked at the paper clip for a moment. He handed it back to me. I brought it close to my face.

“It looks creative,” I said.

I looked at him and he nodded his head.

“Is that it then?” he said.

“Yeah,” I said. “Thanks a lot for your help.”

“You’re welcome,” he said.

He nodded his head again and got back on the ground. He grabbed a wrench and slid under the mower, returning to his work. I didn’t stay to watch him work. I could do that any day.

Lead Re-writes

Thursday, September 9th, 2010

Wedding Bells for Michelle

Having no legs and only one arm does not inhibit the social mobility of Michelle Holdorf. She’s getting married September 5th to a two-armed and two-legged man named Doug Loughlin.

Couch Comfort

Driving by the Sigma Chi fraternity house on a sunny summer day, one cannot help but notice the large plot of couch potatoes growing on the front lawn.

Flamingo Enjoys her Freedom

Held against her will, longing to spread her wings and fly, Pinky the flamingo escaped at last from captivity. Thanks to Pinky, the image of a hot-pink flamingo, alongside the American flag, endures as a symbol of freedom.

Christians (plan on) Feed Qurans to the Fire!

Thursday, September 9th, 2010

This is the original lead:

A plan by a small Florida church to burn Qurans on September 11, which has triggered worldwide controversy, is a “recruitment bonanza for al Qaeda,” President Barack Obama said Thursday.

This is my rewrite:

Back in the ’60’s, after John Lennon declared the Beatles to be “more popular than Jesus,” many took to the streets and enthusiastically participated in public burnings of Beatles records. Today, offended Christians, this time motivated by a phobia to Muslims, plan to burn Qurans on September 11. The potential arsonists are members of a small Florida church, and their proposal has sparked world-wide controversy. Obama called the situation a “recruitment bonanza for al Qaeda.”

This is a link to the article:

My Favorite Dessert

Tuesday, September 7th, 2010

My favorite dessert is whatever Sarah wants. I don’t really have a sweet-tooth, but she, like many females, has an immense weakness for sweet, oozing-chocolaty food stuffs. I typically refrain from indulging in desserts unless on some celebratory occasion such as my mother’s birthday. I never find myself craving desserts, not even after an enormous meal. However, that is not to say that after a spirited, gluttonous rampage in the company of others, I won’t follow suit and grab a piece of cake. There are certain occasions in which the consumption of desserts are inevitable, such as one’s wedding. At my wedding, I was willing to consent to the traditional practice of cutting the wedding cake and shoving it in each others’ mouths – though not for the enjoyment of the cake’s taste, but rather, for providing amusement to those in attendance. Had I not of chosen to partake in the cake-eating tradition, many people who attended my wedding would likely think of me as a poor sport and might go as far as predicting that my marriage would be one characterized by little fun and even less cake consumption.