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WRITTEN BEAT: Annaplois Autumn by Bruce Flemming

August 11, 2013 Leave a comment

Recently I took the time to read Bruce Flemming’s Annapolis Autumn. And when I say recently, I should say finally. He wrote the book around the time I was a midshipman at the Naval Academy but it wasn’t until now, over five years later, for me to sit down and read his controversial accounts of life as a midshipman.

For anyone who has ever been curious about life at one of our nation’s service academies, I do highly recommend this book as it provides one point of view into that world. I say one point of view because, like any nonfiction work, the book is based on how Professor Flemming views the Academy. His views are neither right or wrong, but skewed by his life experiences. He tells one story where he helps a student of his learn better form while they are both swimming laps at the Academy pool. This student, who had been doing poorly in his class, respects the professor more after this event. Professor Flemming attributes this to his demonstrating physical prowess to the midshipman, something he highlights as a cornerstone for respect at the Academy. One could just as easily attribute the midshipman’s newfound respect for his professor to the fact Professor Flemming helped him outside of class, in an non-formal environment where it was not required to do so. Both arguments are valid, and the only one who knows the true answer is the midshipman involved.

Overall, Professor Flemming is very critical of how the Academy operates (especially in regards to its selection process, which created a great deal of debate during my time there). Even though he is critical of the school, I do not believe he does so out of hate or disgust. He does so because he believes in what the intuition stands for and what his role there is. The school’s foundation is of honor, courage, and commitment. But these ideals are not meant to be followed blindly. They are to be questioned constantly to ensure we are headed down the right path. For that reason, people like Professor Flemming are necessary. They are necessary in order to force ourselves to ask the questions we don’t really want to ask. And when we do, we may be disturbed by the answer.

J.

Categories: Uncategorized

Test

June 30, 2013 1 comment

I’m trying out this whole “Post by email” thing. Hopefully this works.

J.

Categories: Uncategorized

Reacting to the events of the Dark Knight

July 20, 2012 Leave a comment

Originally I was going to write a review for The Dark Knight Rises, since this is something I normally do after seeing a movie.  I, like many people, attended the midnight screening.  But on the drive home I decided not to add my review to the thousands  of others for this movie.  Let’s be honest; it was a highly anticipated movie that people will be talking about for some time.  Another review is not something that is necessarily wanted or needed.

Instead I decided to write about the experience I had leading up to the movie.  Along with a few hundred of my closest friends, I stood in line for almost two hours waiting to be let into the theater.  Conversations ensued.  We talked about the different variations of Batman we grew up with, from Adam West all the way to George Clooney.  We reminisced about old VHS tapes we used to own.  Somehow Michael Crichton and the big screen adaptation of his novel Sphere even came up in conversation.

I was excited about this.  It was a new type of blog entry for me.  It was going to be fun.  Then I woke up and turned on CNN.

That’s when I learned of the atrocity that took place in Aurora, Co.  My heart sank.  Words cannot describe the sorrow of that night.  In light of this new information, how could I write about my cheerful experience?

Then again, how could I not?

I cannot begin to comprehend the motivations behind the actions of this shooter.  What I do know is this:  if we as a society allow him to alter how we live, then he has in a way defeated us.  If there is anything that we have learned from Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy it is that we cannot allow ourselves to live in fear.  In the face of chaos, the strong must remain steadfast in their resolve.  And although pain is a part of life, if we hide behind it we are not really living.

To all those who’s lives were impacted by this travesty, my thoughts and prayers go out to you and your family.  May you find peace in a time of turmoil.  To everyone else, I ask that you soldier on.  In my opinion the best thing we can do is continue to live our lives. Spend time with our friends and families.  Go to the movies.  Show that we have not been defeated.  To take a line from The Dark Knight, “The night is darkest just before the dawn.”  Make it a dawn worth living.

J.

Critical Beat: Safety Not Guaranteed

July 15, 2012 Leave a comment

This past Friday I drove 45 minutes to see Safety Not Guaranteed.  Why did I drive 45 minutes to see a movie?  Simple, that was the closest theater actually playing this little indie flick.  Was it worth it?  Read on to find out.

 

 

Was I entertained?  

When I walked away from the theater I found myself full of hope, so I would have to say yes.

What I liked:  

Aubrey Plaza (Parks and Recreation).  At first I was going to refer to her as adorable, but that wouldn’t have given her enough credit.  She has a quick, razor sharp wit.  But she does it in such a way that it’s just so…disarming.  It’s hard not to love her throughout the entire movie.  And the onscreen chemistry between her and Mark Duplass (The League) was superb.  Those two just seemed to feed off each other.  Aubrey with her deadpan deliveries and Mark with his zany brand of seriousness worked well on screen.

The premise of the movie is pretty straight forward.  At least that’s how it appears.  Three reporters investigate a guy who thinks he can travel back in time.  This “out there” premise is a disguise for a much simpler idea:  Can you ever truly revisit the past and fix the mistakes you made?  Watching how two different characters approach this idea is where the movie really shines.  Aubrey Plaza joins with Mark Duplass’s character as they explore the idea of time travel.  Jake M. Johnson (New Girl) instead seeks out his old high school flame and attempts to recreate what they once had.  Though they are approaching it with different methods, they are all trying to get back to a time where they were happier and life was simpler.  It’s through this exploration of their past that allows our characters to grow throughout the movie.

What I didn’t like:  

The storyline with Karan Soni is an awkward part of the movie.  He plays your stereotypical shy college student who loves playing WoW and can’t talk to women.  Jake M. Johnson’s character eventually tries to live his life through Soni’s character and it is a forced and unneccesssary way to try to present the movie’s message of living life in the now.

And as much as I love Aubrey Plaza in this movie, at times she is just way too trusting.  Some of the things Mark Duplass’s character does in this movie are out there.  And I’m not just talking crazy out there.  He actually does some things that would have him winding up in Guantanamo Bay never again to see the light of day.  And she goes along with it.  And all for a story?  I find that hard to believe.

What was the purpose of this movie:

Simply to remind us to live in the now.  The past is gone.  Never to be recreated.  Never to be changed.  At least that’s what we tell ourselves so we can sleep at night.

J.

My DVR

July 14, 2012 Leave a comment

I started with a reading list, but why stop there?  I’ve added another page titled “My DVR” which lists all the television shows that I currently follow.  Or at the very least the shows I try to fit into my life.  Some of them I do wait for on DVD.  There are also shows marked that I used to watch but no longer follow because they are no longer on the air or I just chose to stop following them (feel free to ask why).

Since the new television season is almost upon us, stand by to see a post in the coming weeks about which new shows I’m most excited about and plan on adding to my DVR list.  Also, if you have any recommendations for shows not on the list, let me know.

J.

Categories: Television Tags: ,

Firefly 10th Anniversary Panel

July 14, 2012 Leave a comment

Like many of you, I was unable to attend Comic-Con in San Diego this year.  But that doesn’t mean we can’t enjoy it from afar.

One of the most anticipated events for me was the Firefly 10th Anniversary panel.  I discovered the show on DVD around the time Serenity was being released in theaters and I instantly fell in love with it.  So when I heard about a reunion panel I was quite excited.

Now, this panel will actually air as a special on the Science Channel (which has had some success airing Firefly reruns as of late), but that won’t be for some time and like many people I don’t get that channel.  Lucky for us, the folks over at Things From Another World (TFAW) were able to film the panel and put it up on YouTube.

I’m not going to try and recap the 52 minute YouTube video for you, because I don’t want rob you of the experience.  Just know that the panel includes Joss Whedon, Nathan Fillion, Alan Tudyk, Summer Glau, Sean Maher, Adam Baldwin, Tim Minear, Jose Molina, and about 4,000 other Browncoats.  The entire panel was very heartfelt and sincere.  It’s amazing to see what this show means to not only the fans, but the cast and crew after all these years.

 

If the embedded video doesn’t work you can always view it here.  And if you don’t have the time to watch the entire panel, The Huffington Post has a pretty decent recap here.

Thanks for playing along.  We’re still flying.

J.

Console Gaming Redux with OUYA

July 13, 2012 1 comment

Remember the original Nintendo Entertainment System? You know, the NES. Nintendo in all its 8-bit glory. Where “saving” a game of Super Mario Brothers meant hitting the pause button and turning off the TV during dinner. Or how no matter how many times you tried you just couldn’t kill that damn laughing dog in Duck Hunt. In other words, remember your childhood? Well it seems the makers of the new gaming console OUYA (pronounced OOO-yah) do and they’re running a ridiculously successful Kickstarter campaign to prove it.

The makers of OUYA are powering their new console with Android, and they hope to bring back “innovation, experimentation and creativity to the big screen.” Televisions, that is. In a world of smart phones and tablets, they are setting out to prove that console gaming isn’t dead. And it seems that they were right because just a few days into their Kickstarter campaign they have already raised over $4.2 million with the support of over 33,000 backers (at the time I wrote this). The sky is apparently the limitfor this project.

I myself have become quite addicted to Kickstarter as of late. The sites fosters creativity and ingenuity. And not only to you get to brag about supporting ideas that normally wouldn’t see the light of day, but they give you rewards for doing it. It’s a win-win scenario.

With the Wii, Playstation 3 and Xbox 360 dominating the market, I wouldn’t exactly say console gaming is dead. I myself am an Xbox fan, mostly because I love Halo. That being said, I chose to back this project because it offers a cheaper way to game. With console games costing $60 on average with hit and miss quality, the idea of cheap (or even free) games developed by independent designers appealed to me. Here’s hoping that the final product will be as good as it sounds.

If you want to check it out, their Kickstarter page can be found here: OUYA Kickstarter

Thanks again for playing along.

J.