DVDs, Skepticism, and Politics

Diary 7/5 to 7/6/22: Movies on DVD; why I’m a skeptic; getting a little preachy; unable to “find the penguin”; shredding by hand; Democrats; no Dr. Strange DVD at Walmart.

Copyright 2022 (text only) by Alan Carl Nicoll
All Rights Reserved

Ali Skovbye

{7/5/22} Continued.

Put on the DVD of M. Night Shyamalan’s Old (2021).  He’d be a better film writer if he’d never heard of The Twilight Zone TV series.  As he’s done so often, here again he’s channeling the old show and, this time, not doing a very good job with it.  There are some creepy moments (an abdominal operation is memorable), a not-very-surprising “surprise ending” (seen this kind of thing many times), some good and some annoying characters, overall not close to recommending this even for “Night” fans.  50% and 53% (critics and audiences) at Rotten Tomatoes.  Full disclosure:  I fast forwarded through much of it after the first half or so—a good reason to catch this guy’s movies on DVD (or, this century, streaming) instead of in the theater.  Phooey.  The credits were too tiny to read.

I’m assuming that one can fast-forward a streaming movie, never having done this.

Scarlett Johansson and Florence Pugh

I don’t know what MCU phase 4 is all about, but if Black Widow and Thor: Love and Thunder are visions of the future, I’ll be sure to catch future releases on DVD.  The latest Doctor Strange also was about as much disappointing as satisfying.  Now, I haven’t seen the latest Thor yet, but given the reviews at RT, I won’t be going to the theater for it.  BW is okay for an origin story, and Florence Pugh is excellent as always, but as a DVD I haven’t been excited enough to watch it more than twice.  Maybe I’m just getting tired of the usual tropes?  Granted, it would be virtually impossible to top the last two Avengers movies—Infinity War especially.

Stock photo of books, duh.

In trying to get rid of some clutter on my desk, I picked up a book, W. T. Anderson’s Reality Isn’t What It Used to Be, which I reviewed here on 6/19/22.  In looking at my comment on the title page and glancing at the table of contents, I turned to the title page for Part I, “The Collapse of Belief,” and wrote this:  “‘Collapse’?  Or growing up at last?”  I never was much of a believer in God, Country, or Mom’s Apple Pie, and admittedly it took me more years than I’d care to think about to get fully comfortable living a “life without belief,” or in other words, being a cynic.

In looking at America today, I find nothing to “believe in”—certainly none of the available religions (those I’ve looked at enough to form an opinion), none of the available politicians, and I’m skeptical about almost everything, including skepticism.  Now, it’s easy to make such an overweening claim, not so easy to “walk the walk” (or is it “walk the talk”?  Either?).  I try.

Crucial to this maturation (if I can call it that, and who’s to stop me?) was, first, recognizing that all of science amounts to “our current best guess.”  And second (or perhaps vice versa) was this conclusion, as stated in my Bleak Philosophy:  “A book, a sentence, a proposition, a position, a truth, anything is worthless to me unless I can understand it.”  It’s altogether too easy in this country to talk complete nonsense and get millions to follow you while throwing money at you.

Prominent on my radar as purveyors of complete nonsense are:  The former guy (and MAGA repugliKKKans in general); The Aware Show on my otherwise-much-beloved Free Speech TV and KPFK-FM; all creationists, televangelists, and Stupid Christian Fanatics; “psychics”; and all TV commercials—that’s enough for now.  I’d like to add “movie stars who talk about anything other than their movies,” but I suspect there might be one or two lurking among the 100% jerks who have something sensible to offer.

Listen:  If you hear someone talking, trying to persuade you to a point of view and he or she never says “I could be wrong about that” or “I’m not an expert,” if he or she is talking about some subject where he has no ironclad bona fides such as advanced degrees and years in the field, please be skeptical and frankly disbelieving until you can prove the case to yourself.  And if it’s important, like medical and dietary or legal advice that you might want to follow, look for alternative opinions, eh?

Some very smart people seem not to have heard, “If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.”  Don’t be one of them.

[Stepping down from soapbox.]

On 6/26/22 I linked to “Find the Penguin” from Neuroscience News, saying that the answer would be published Monday following.  Well, I missed the notice (if they published it) in the Monday email, so just now I searched several different ways for their published answer, and “came up with a handful of empty,” as Dodgers announcer Vin Scully used to say, such as when an infielder missed a ground ball.  What time we squander of such things in our youth!  What time I squander on such things in my dotage!

{7/6/22}

If you print out your file of passwords and the printout later becomes obsolete, what do you do with the old printout?  Not having a shredder, I today have torn the old printout into vertical strips and put just half of them in the trash.  Next time I toss my trash, I’ll get rid of the other half.  I wouldn’t bother so much except that credit card information is included.

Op-ed from Truthout this morning:  “Democratic Leadership Can Protect Abortion Rights. They Would Rather Fundraise.”  Yeah, about that.

My blog posts run about a thousand words.  I took a look at another blog which had posts of about the same length or a bit longer, devoted to reviewing just one movie or TV episode.  It was too much to read about one subject, so I didn’t bother following or bookmarking.  But they (two authors) have three times my followers… [7/7/22: By “one subject” I meant “one trivial subject”–of course one reads many books.]

Bought a seven-movie set of DVDs, The Conjuring (2013) and sequels and I watched the first.  I had mistaken the movie, thinking that I had seen something by this title (and failed to fit it together with the Annabelle movies, one or two of which I’ve seen).  Anyway, it’s excellent, a very good ghost story (if you can accept such a thing), hitting on all cylinders, with appealing characters and scary ghost or ghosts (avoiding spoilers here).  James Wan directed, and labors mightily to persuade that This Is A True Story.  I’m not convinced, given that this is a fictional telling of the story; if it looked like a documentary instead of a drama, I still wouldn’t believe it, being a confirmed skeptic.  All that aside, I recommend this as excellent of its type.  86% and 83% from critics and audiences at Rotten Tomatoes.

I also bought and watched The Corruption of Divine Providence (2020), retitled as The Devil Within.  I give the original title first.  I liked this very well for bringing an original view of this material, up until the final couple of scenes, which I couldn’t make sense of and which were a letdown.  The story is rather chaotic and puzzling, with some seemingly irrelevant scenes; what I especially liked about it was eighteen-year-old Ali Skovbye’s role as Jeanne, who appears to be exhibiting stigmata and perhaps is a vehicle for God’s message to the world.  I was touched by her plight, so I guess she’s a good actress (check her out at IMDB—an already-impressive list of credits) [her photo starts this post].  The movie is from Canada, set in Manitoba, with a heavy influence from native Americans (or indians, if you prefer)—it’s from White Bear Films, eh?  It gets a bit preachy at times, but I had a hard time deciding (or the director had a hard time) if it was black comedy, satire, or maybe just a badly done but straight horror film.  I found a lot to like, but it scores a pretty terrible 4.5/10 at IMDB with links to five critic’s reviews, two splats from critics and no audience reviews at RT.  HorrorBuzz.com has a longer, good review, where it scores 6/10.

My favorite T-shirt? (not the one I have)

I also bought fifty Warner Brothers cartoons on DVD, haven’t watched any yet–they’ll be good as occasional replacements for Have Gun, Will Travel episodes, which I watch as I eat my meals alone. I couldn’t find the new Doctor Strange on DVD at Wal-Mart, which is why I ended up with these selections.

Copyright 2022 (text only) by Alan Carl Nicoll
All Rights Reserved

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