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Everything posted by Helen

  1. The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (2005)

    Hmmm... I think it really, really tried, but it just fell short of the books/radio show/BBC mini-series. Part of that could have been length and medium (the story is very episodic and not really suited to a feature film). I also felt they really tried to Americanize the humor, and it fell flat in places. A lot of the irreligiosity was removed, which is a shame. It just seemed random and disjointed. Granted, the original seems rather random and disjointed as well with the Guide sidebars and interspersed history lessons, but it works (and it isn't really all that random). That said, I do think some things worked. The acting was great and the some of the characters felt like the characters in the book, Arthur Dent and Zaphod most especially. Alan Rickman was PERFECT as the voice of Marvin and Stephen Fry was great as the Guide. One thing I think came across really well in terms of humor (though I believe they spent too much time on it) was the evil beaurocratic nature of the Vorgons. The factory floor scenes with Slartibartfast were AMAZING -- even better than I ever pictured in my mind. In the end, the film just didn't work. Not as a film, not as an adaptation. I understand a change in medium requires a change in the story, however, the changes here seemed completely arbitrary. An example of a GOOD adaptation would be Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban.
  2. Leia remembering her mother in Return of the Jedi: I suppose you could argue that Leia didn't know who was or was not her real mother, that Bail Organa remarried later on and Leia thought Bail's original wife who adopted her was her real mother. I've seen people say that Leia was remembering Padme from when she was born (the Force or some such nonsense). Personally, I think Lucas messed up. Or at least made things awkward from a continuity stand point. And I wouldn't be surprised if in the next Super Special Ultra Edition of Return of the Jedi, there was some, er, editing.
  3. It was... Star Wars. I went in with expectations floating within the molten rock beneath the earth's crust. I am a big fan of the original trilogy. It shaped my life in some really important ways. The first film came out a couple of weeks after I was born. I saw the films for the first time on the big screen as a child when they were re-released in the early eighties and was completely blown away. My father took my to see <i>Return of the Jedi</i> at least ten times in the theatre. If it hadn't been for Star Wars, I probably would not be writing science fiction now. I loved Star Wars. I loved the world and the characters and the incredible adventure. The prequels, however, have left much to be desired on any number of fronts. Leaving philosophy aside (and really, again, this is Star Wars), I feel the prequels have suffered from embarassingly bad writing (the dialogue is painful at times) and clumsy directing (at least of actors). This I put firmly on the shoulders of George Lucas as he has said that he doesn't think that part of filmaking is as important as the visual stuff. Well, it shows. As pretty as the CGI is, it doesn't feel nearly as solidly real as the miniatures and puppets of the originals. Lucas has a gripping, epic plot and a breathtaking world, but the execution falls short of the potential. Of the prequels, Episode III is definately the strongest. I don't think the philosophy was nearly as bad as some have said (still bad, however), mainly because I think it was quite clear that both the Sith AND the Jedi have it all wrong in terms of personal values and personal happiness. The fall of Anakin is a true tragedy. I just wish it had been better executed. That said, there were some scenes that really resonated. Hayden Christensen and Ian McDiarmid played incredibly well off of one another in places and I thought Christensen's acting most especially had improved since the last film. Ewan McGregor was wonderful throughout and has done an incredible job playing Obi-Wan in such a way that when you watch Episode IV after seeing the prequels, the character meshes perfectly with Obi-Wan as played by Alec Guinness. The scene where the mask is placed on Anakin's face gave me chills. I knew that was where it was all headed, but it was still incredibly powerful. The scenes on the lava planet between Anakin and Padme as well as Anakin and Obi-Wan were heartbreaking. The main flaw? No Han Solo Well, that and the giant plot hole of Leia remembering her mother.
  4. O. Henry research question

    I love O. Henry. Definately one of my favorite writers as I am a sucker for the twist ending. My favorite is probably "The Gift of the Magi". I also greatly enjoyed "The Green Door" and "The Last Leaf".
  5. Stargate SG-1 (1997)

    I have enjoyed Stargate as well. I was not initially a fan when it first aired as I wasn't all that crazy about the movie which I thought was just okay, but not great. I am glad I eventually gave the television show a chance. I think it shares some problems with Star Trek in that, at times, the episodes can be of the formulaic planet-of-the-week variety. But not always (or even most of the time). And there is a much more epic, ongoing story unfolding. I think the real strength here is in the characters who are just simply good people and good friends. The characters are well acted and the actors have really great chemistry and play well off of one another, which is a real strength in an ensemble show and probably the greatest strength of this one. As been stated, there are some mystical elements, but they aren't presented as being mystical at all -- they have a definate nature. The primary villains are parasitic aliens who are the ultimate second handers and pose as gods. There is a definate pro-reason, pro-science, anti-faith undercurrent to the show. There is a spin-off series called Stargate Atlantis, but it hasn't quite found its legs yet. It is worth checking out, though I would agree that the characters (with a few exceptions) aren't as interesting.
  6. Farscape (1999)

    I really enjoyed this series and was very disappointed when it was cancelled. I do think it is an aquired taste and is not for everyone. I didn't watch it at first, as it seemed like Muppets in Space (many characters are, indeed, Muppets... the show was produced by Jim Henson's company). I was seriously wrong. John Crichton, a human astronaut, gets tossed across the far reaches of the galaxy though a worm hole while on a test flight of a ship he designed (Farscape 1). He ends up on a prison transport ship where a rag tag group of aliens (who eventually become his chosen family) have taken over. John just wants to get home, and that's the driving force of the series while interplanetary politics play out around him and he is pursued by enemies who all want the worm hole knowledge inside his head. The show is well written and well acted, if frenetic and seriously over the top at times. There is a lot of humor, engaging romance and the bad guys are truly BAD. It is true unabashed space opera with the fate of the universe hanging in the balance, but it's not Star Trek -- not by a long shot. And that, I think, is good. The aliens are truly alien, and not just humans with bumpy foreheads. Even though John is a scientist, and the show takes place in space, there is little to no technobabble and the drama is definately character driven. No deus ex machina here. There are engrossing ongoing arcs (both plot and character), giant plot twists and no reset button in sight. I think if you like the main character, you end up liking the show and he is extremely likable unless you are really put off by pop culture references (which actually end up working really well as it reminds you where John comes from and where he is trying to go while the universe goes nuts all around him). The show is easy to find on DVD (yay for TV shows on DVD!), you can pick it up at your local Blockbuster.
  7. Penn & Teller: Bulls#*t!

    I am a fan of Penn & Teller. Caught their live act a couple of years ago in Las Vegas, which I highly reccommend. I don't get Showtime, but I do believe I will have to check out this series on DVD. Thanks. Infant circumcision is positively horrifying. Sadly, most people in the US give it very little thought. Even rational people who want the best for their children. It's cosmetic surgery at best and genital mutilation at worst. The justifications I've seen for it are absolutely unreal.
  8. Firefly (2002)

    Well, the film was originally supposed to debut this weekend, IIRC. There are still a few unfinished effects shots, but not many (and by unfinished, I mean a little rough, not missing). They started doing test screenings back in November, I believe. The film wasn't 'finished' in the sense that it still may be tweaked (and it has already, as I know people who had seen it previously who attested to scenes being gone or changed and new scenes added on subsequent viewings). It wouldn't surprise me if they were working on it until the last minute, but that's pretty typical in Hollywood. There is some concern about fan vs. non-fan reaction (hence many, many test screenings). If you live in an area where test screenings are done, you might be able to catch the movie (definately worth it in case it later gets watered down due to studio pressure). If you ever go to the theatre and see people standing around passing out flyers for 'free sneak previews', grill them about the screenings. They aren't supposed to tell you the name of the film (though often will if you press them), but they will tell you what the movie is basically about and Serenity has a unique enough premise. If you live in the LA area, you probably know exactly what I am talking about and get regularly accosted by the promoters when you go to the movies, but there are test screenings in larger cities all over the US. Keep your eyes open. POTENTIAL SPOILERS BELOW I had heard there had been rumblings in test screenings from non-fans who were very much taken aback by Mal's ruthless selfishness and stealing from the government (you know, his more endearing qualities). One scene for sure was altered because it made people uncomfortable in the extreme (the idea is still there, however). I hope they keep this particular scene in there as it not only illustrates Mal's ethics, but it also illustrates the sheer evil of the baddies.
  9. Firefly (2002)

    I don't mean to spam, and I would just edit my last post if I could figure out how. I just wanted to update and say that I am fortunate to have friends who are better connected than I. As a result, I got to see a test screening of Serenity last night in Thousand Oaks. I was quite impressed overall. The movie is much more overtly about ideas than any of the episodes in the series. That is all I can say as I don't want to spoil it for anyone here. I sat in the very same row as Joss Whedon, but was too shy to approach him. If I had it to do over, I would shake his hand and give him a very enthusiastic thank you.
  10. That was very lovely, Dan. And I will third what Betsy said I met my significant other online, so the initial attraction happened in reverse. He had a wonderful mind and swept me off my feet with his words. When we did finally meet in person, the physical attraction was very immediate and overwhelming (and it still is nearly eight years later).
  11. non-contradictor -- I will be there at midnight breathing in that new book smell! I am embarassingly fangirlish about Harry Potter, and I am a childless adult (I almost typed childish, heh). I have read the existing books many, many times. I am also getting together with friends. We are meeting at the Barnes and Noble at the Grove in LA and will be renting a room at the Standard on Sunset. Last time, I drove Frode (my fiance) absolutely nuts while I was reading it. I offered to get him his own copy, but no, he would just read mine when I was done. He had to leave the house because I was constantly gasping and laughing and, at times, crying and I couldn't tell him why, of course, because that would spoil it for him. My friends and I (and we are all women in our twenties and thirties) also have very firm (though differing) opinions on what should happen and who should be romantically involved with whom (I just hope Harry makes it out happy and alive). I had the pleasure of JK Rowling answering one of my questions in a chat once -- I was giddy for days. I love the Harry Potter series and I enthusiastically recommend it to anyone who enjoys good values and a complicated mystery plot (don't be fooled by the simplicity of the prose). The books start out as fun, lighthearted adventures, but starting with the third book, you see this huge, epic mystery begin to unfold. Ms. Rowling planned out the entire seven books series from the beginning, and it is a joy to see her weave together all of these plot threads together into a brilliant tapestry. I think the fifth book would be especially appreciated by Objectivists, as one of the major themes is the consequences of evading reality. While I enjoy the movies (I saw the first one before reading the books), they just can't capture the depth or magic of the books. I also really enjoyed the Heinlein juveniles. Those are by far his best work, in my opinion. Of the adult books, I enjoyed Job: A Comedy of Justice the most. And since I am talking about fiction for children/young adults, I would also recommend the His Dark Materials series by Phillip Pullman. The first book in the series is The Golden Compass in the US and Northern Lights in the UK. I do have some issues with a few things, but I recommend it overall as a strong indictment of organized religion as a force of evil. The two main characters in this series are absolutely delightful. I didn't read very much fiction for children when I was a child as I was an advanced reader at a very early age. I have found, however, as an adult that I enjoy it more than most fiction written for adults.
  12. Meyers-Briggs used in career counseling

    I think Meyers-Briggs can be a useful tool in certain contexts. I dislike the false alternatives, but find MB a useful shorthand in dealing with other people in certain contexts. I am an INTP, which, along with INTJ is relatively rare. In fact, Rationals (all NT types) are more rare in general. I think pretty much all Objectivists will come up T, and probably more than normal would would come up J and I rather than P and E, just because the way the questions are worded. I think for an Objectivist, the best way to determine E vs. I is to guage your energy level after spending time with a group of people you enjoy. Are you tired or are you energized? Even with people I enjoy spending time with, I have to retreat after a while for some introspection because it just wears me out. The best way for an Objectivist to judge J vs. P would probably be to look at his or her desk. Is it messy? Cluttered? You are probably a P. Do you have a perfectly neat filing system and a place for everything and everything in its place? You are probably a J. Does it take you a long time to reach a decision, do you have a strong need to 'weigh all of the options' before making even a small decision like where to have dinner? You are probably a P. I am most strongly P. Which is great for creativity and exploring the possibilities, but not so great when it comes to getting organized or moving forward without second guessing myself. Getting some insight into that has actually helped me a great deal. I am an introvert, but Meyers-Briggs has helped me in understanding and communicating with extroverts. I find that I usually have real communication challenges with SJ personality types as they tend to be very concrete bound and rule focused. I have to explain things differently -- less with the abstract, more with the concrete examples, leave the metaphor and word play at home. I have learned that F's have to be dealt with in such a way as to not hurt their feelings -- be gentle, but firm. I think the real problem is the dichotomy between T and F. What often gets defined as F isn't necessarily those who make decisions merely based on whim and feeling, but those who are more sensitive to the thoughts and feelings of others and are more tuned into emotions in general. I've seen many a rational non-Objectivist come up F, so it rather puzzles me. This system isn't perfect by any means, I wouldn't use it to pick a career (I am a systems builder personality type who isn't crazy about math) or pick a mate (mine is also an INTP, we are doomed to forever be late and forget where we parked), but I think it can help in figuring out your own shortcomings and communicate with those who do not think as you do.
  13. Firefly (2002)

    The trailer! http://www.apple.com/trailers/universal/serenity/ I didn't think it was possible to be any more excited, but I am
  14. Betsy -- oh we are most certainly different -- yes. There are biological and physiological differences between men and women, no question. Do they lead to psychological differences? Yes, I would agree that they do. I am just not quite sure any of it leads to the very precise definitions of femininity/masculinity being put forth. As far as the visual/tactile divide is concerned, part of that is physiological, but part of that is also a result of our irrational culture. Girls and boys are raised very differently when it comes to acceptable sexual/romantic behaviors. Good girls aren't supposed to look at boys and find them sexually desirable. Really good girls aren't supposed to have sexual desire (or at least admit to it), period. They are definitely discouraged from pursuing men (which can be a real hindrance to those girls who prefer the geeky, bookish types ). Male beauty isn't worshipped to the degree female beauty is in our culture (for various reasons). We have to go back to the Greeks and Romans for that. Boys receive physical affection/touching to a far lesser degree (in general) and are often taught that the need to be touched or hugged or held or made emotionally vulnerable in any way makes them 'weak' or 'gay'. There are very clear differences in how boys and girls are treated and spoken to even as infants. Girls generally learn to speak before boys, but girls are also spoken to more. How much is this differential due to a difference in brain physiology and how much is environment? This particular definition of femininity/masculinity doesn't seem to rest on the visual vs. tactile differences in men and women, but when this topic comes up, I just like to point out that many of these differences aren't strictly biological in nature and exist on a very wide spectrum anyway. For many a man, a touch on the neck or ear sends him to the moon (especially such a touch from the right woman). Women can and do revel in the sexually stimulating visual delights the male form has to offer. This is most especially true with women raised in households with healthy, rational attitudes about the human body. RE: size and strength. Oh yes, it has led to some very clearly defined sex roles over the course of human history that made very clear biological sense at one time. Thankfully, we no longer live in a world where a woman has to depend on a man with big strong muscles to keep her safe and provide for her and their children. Men and women both provide for themselves with the fruits of their minds rather than the fruits of their physical labor. Women are able to enjoy sex for recreation without the same worries of it leading to procreation. We are no longer slaves to our reproductive systems. We live in a society with rule of law, not rule of muscle, where rape is recognized for what it is -- violent assault. Rational people have sex with one another because they both choose to do so. I agree that because of the general size differential, women are more physically vulnerable to sexual assault (not that men can't also victims of sexual assault). Women are also vulnerable to pregnancy (thankfully preventable and even reversible) and more vulnerable than men to sexually transmitted diseases (not that men aren't also vulnerable). Women do require a higher degree of trust, but men also require trust (especially emotional trust). I do agree that the physical differences do lead to differences in psychology in the realm of sexuality. But we aren't defining the essence of being a man or woman on a violent act irrelevant to sexual relationships between rational individuals, are we? I have found that I do enjoy a man to take charge sexually -- this is a common female experience. But you know, I like taking charge, too -- also a common female experience. There is choice involved on both sides in both cases. I don't think that the need for control is essential to being masculine nor is the need to surrender essential to being feminine because between rational people, this control and surrender can and does flow both ways. It is always a mutual choice. I don't have perfect answers. And I am not so sure there are universal answers, except that romantic relationships between like-minded individuals are good and human beings should seek out those who share their values (both essential and optional). This is the touchy feely area of psychology, not philosophy. There are some very real reasons why someone (man or woman) would find giving up or taking control therapeutic in sexual situations due to past trauma (most especially physical, sexual or mental abuse as child). There are differences, and certainly sexual attraction between heterosexuals is based on those differences. I am just not so sure control/surrender is the essential difference when it can be experienced by both sexes. I couldn't agree more. And I do let my man take the drivers seat... but I change the flat tires, check the oil and do all of the navigating. I also wish kilts would come into fashion in this country to better highlight those masculine legs.
  15. I am going to agree with Sam on this one. Sexuality is such a complex thing. There is so much more to sex than simply insert Tab A into Slot B, thank goodness, since only something like 20-30% of women can reach orgasm from vaginal penetration alone (and of those, not always regularly). I am 98% heterosexual and a woman. I *get* the emotional/physical surrender being discussed, I have experienced it, I understand you on an emotional level. I love being thrown on the bed and shagged senseless as much as the next gal, but in my experience, sexual surrender is not a strictly female experience. Men are also made vulnerable by sex -- physically and emotionally. There is still a surrender to pleasure and intimacy with another individual. A man can lay back and let his female lover take charge of his sexual pleasure, of awakening him to sensations and experiences he has never felt before just as a woman can. He still has to mentally and emotionally let go, to just feel while she takes him there. He has to trust her just as she has to trust him -- with his body, with his heart, with his mind. I would also submit that two people can have an earth shatteringly incredible sexual experience with no penetration at all. I don't have a perfect answer to what is 'masculine' or 'feminine' other than our different sets of plumbing, but I am not going to base my view of my sexuality and my ‘role’ in a relationship with the man I choose (or, heaven forbid men I don't choose) on plumbing or a man needing an erection to penetrate a vagina properly. As rational, thinking beings with free will and so much capacity for sexual enjoyment beyond procreation, it just seems limiting to define ourselves based on this one part of the total human sexual experience. Is a man suffering erectile dysfunction no longer ‘masculine’, no matter if he can please his lover in so many other ways? Is his lover no longer ‘feminine’ because she can no longer get him erect? It is common enough that it can't be dismissed. I've known too many people who were either homosexual or bisexual (to varying degrees) in my life to totally dismiss these individuals as abnormal aberrations. Like I said, I don’t have any real answers… but I am not so sure I need clear answers in order to have a fulfilling romantic and sexual relationship with a worthy man of my choosing. I have encountered this many times in my ten years as an admirer of Ayn Rand. Not saying this is what is going on here, and Betsy makes her case better than all of them, but I have to respectfully disagree. I think I understand where you all are coming from, I just think there is too large a leap from penetration to woman as worshipper and man as worshipped.
  16. Firefly (2002)

    I would rate this one among my all time favorite television shows ever based on the existing twelve episodes. It's shiny! The writing, characters, snappy dialogue, plotting, visuals, acting -- all brilliant. It doesn't hurt that Mal is the rugged space cowboy hero of my teenage fantasies . However, I am a sucker for mystery. Not crime drama whodunnit style mystery, but the 'nothing is quite what it seems' type mystery that isn't solved at the end of the episode (I am a huge Harry Potter fan for similar reasons). I love obsessing over the tiny little clues sprinkled everywhere, from Book's past to Inara's past to the Hands of Blue. I am glad I didn't watch Firefly until after it was cancelled, because the heartbreak was bad enough when I realized I had watched every single existing episode and there would be no more. I am very much looking forward to the movie in September. The trailer is coming out on Tuesday on Apple.com and will be in theatres on Friday with <i>The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy</i>. So excited!