Jim A.

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Everything posted by Jim A.

  1. Atlas Shrugged Movie trailer

    Looking forward to seeing the film after watching the trailer (though I will "proceed with caution", not counting on it being a great adaptation of the novel). I'm especially curious to hear what the "Concerto of Deliverance" will be like, and about who the composer is. It won't be the first time a composer has worked on a concerto specifically for a film; there was Richard Addinsell, who composed the "Warsaw Concerto" for the 1941 film, Dangerous Moonlight, and that wasn't too bad.
  2. The Deadliest Ideas

    For years I've wondered about what ideas that people hold are the most hazardous to their own psychology. And not only to their psychology, but to their emotional state of mind. What ideas threaten an individual's happiness the most? When I ask that question, I'm keeping in mind the fact the opposite of happiness (I believe) is extreme depression. And what is the ultimate consequence of depression, if left unchecked? Suicide, of course. That's what I mean when I say the "deadliest" ideas. I have one candidate for that, but I want to hear what others would say, because I think it's extremely important. The foremost idea I would say, of course, that is the most destructive would probably be obvious: "A is non-A". But outside of that one, I would nominate the idea that there is an after-life. Why do I think that is deadly and destructive? Because I think that if one believes there is life after death, then he or she has no incentive to maximize the only time they know they have: today (if even that! A person could die in the next five minutes, there is no guarantee of life beyond the moment). A person could say to himself: "It is so hard to work to achieve my values, my ideal happiness. But there is an after-life; I'll do it then. In the meantime, I'll just do what I can do comfortably, I'll do whatever gives me that "warm" feeling. Example: It would be very hard to become a great artist, so therefore I'll produce what sells. After all, I can do that well. What are your nominees? (P.S. Incidentally, the film A Beautiful Mind really missed the mark regarding threats to one's own state-of-mind, in my view. A well directed and acted movie, it doesn't even recognize that John Nash's completely insane ideas in the areas of mathematics and economics may have been the ultimate contributor to his schizophrenia by adversely effecting his ideas in other areas of knowledge--and in his personal life.)
  3. My favorite scene in any of Ayn Rand's novels (or her short works and plays) is the scene in the first part of The Fountainhead when Howard Roark meets his first employer (as an architect), Henry Cameron. I love the scene not only because of the contrast between the way Cameron speaks to Roark versus the way Peter Keating's first employer speaks to him, but because of the profound respect Cameron shows toward Roark and his potential as an architect--and all this through the insults he hurls at him! The scene makes me aware of the fact that Cameron is the kind of mentor I would want in any field I may enter. I just love it! What is your favorite scene in an Ayn Rand work? and why?
  4. One expression I sometimes hear in my job as a caregiver at an assisted living facility is, when a resident has passed away: "Well, she's gone to a better place." This really bugs me. "Better" than what? Any place--metaphysically--would by its nature have adverse factors (such as bad weather, disease, inertia, gravity, etc.). And these adverse factors force one to be selective in his or her pursuit of values. Why would that be a problem? It is only a problem if one longs for a universe where one's unending life is guaranteed. The fact of the matter is that the Universe we live in is the only place a rational human being would want to live in. Remember the Twilight Zone episode, which I believe was called "A Nice Place to Visit", where a petty criminal dies in a chance accident and finds himself in Heaven--or so he thinks? Everything he wants is granted to him instantly: money, women, booze, a fancy car, etc. After awhile, however, he gets terribly bored. Terribly. Finally, he says to the angel who attends to him that he'd much rather be in the other place. The angel answers him, in essence: "Where do you think you are?" An excellent lesson there. Living in a universe where there are no challenges or struggles would, in the long run, be Hell. But just try explaining that to those people who believe that when someone dies, they go to a "better place". Just what is the psychology behind this idea?
  5. Happy 235th Birthday, Marines!

    I was a Navy Corpsman serving with Marines in the mid-1980's. They're great people to work with!!
  6. Happy Birthday to B. Royce

    Happy Birthday to the Versemeister!! I only wish I could wish you a Happy Birthday in verse. Anyway, I hope you enjoy your favorite wine, music and other art today. I also hope the valley weather down there is conducive to a good little jaunt somewhere.
  7. Happy Birthday to JJPierce

    Have a great birthday, J.J.!!
  8. The Social Network (2010)

    I might see this movie sometime. My only trepidation is that it is directed by David Fincher. I haven't seen all of his films, but, except for The Curious Case of Benjamin Button and Seven (though I would caveat that one: it's extremely dark), the ones I've seen are atrocious, for various reasons. Alien 3 was a real stinker; after Alien and Aliens, I expected the same level of suspense and to not have every character I liked get killed! The Game is on my "atrocity list" of movies that attack capitalism and the businessman (it truly angered me). Panic Room didn't seem worth the time (I only watched half of it, admittedly). And Fight Club was one of the worst, most disgusting, and most outrageous movies I've ever seen (outrageous to me after 9/11; there's that multiple skyscraper destruction scene, shown as if it were something to celebrate). But maybe I'll see The Social Network sometime (I may need more convincing).
  9. Happy Birthday to RayK

    Have a great birthday, Ray! (And keep on posting!)
  10. Happy Birthday to Betsy Speicher!

    Happy Birthday, Betsy!! And thank you for maintaining this wonderful Forum. I don't know if you realize the extreme value it has for the people who post and who read posts here. Enjoy your special day! Be with your favorite person, drink your favorite wine, listen to your favorite music, enjoy your favorite kind of dinner. And forget about life's non-essentials for today.
  11. Insomnia (2002)

    WARNING: Possible plot-spoiler below: One of the things I thought was interesting in the film was the fact that Al Pacino's character, detective Will Dormer, is evading reality (the concrete aspects of which I won't reveal here) while working on a case in Alaska at the time of year when there is 24-hour sunlight. That's a great metaphor for the fact that reality is always present, always shining its light on things. The only way to evade it is to close one's eyes--but Will Dormer, because of his conscience, cannot sleep.

    I'd like to suggest the film, Insomnia, starring Al Pacino, Hillary Swank and Robin Williams for rating.
  13. The Singing Actress

    And to think that the musical A Little Night Music is based on a film by Ingmar Bergman, of all people--the master of cinematic gloom and depression (the film being Smiles of a Summer Night).
  14. Koran burnings

    The Westboro Baptist Church of Topeka, Kansas, is planning to burn copies of the Koran tomorrow, September 11th. They wouldn't listen, but I wish I could tell them: "Go ahead--burn that Koran! You have the freedom to do that. Just make damn sure your own Bible doesn't have any untruths or false premises in it." (By the way, today they were to hold a demonstration outside the funeral for Staff Sgt. Infante in Houston, Texas. Once again, they blame America's "tolerance for homosexuality" for the deaths of our fallen soldiers. And on their website, they say: "Thank God for IED's!!" I don't get it.) (Incidentally, their whole website is pretty scary--to think that anyone would use a technological medium to express such vile irrationality.)
  15. Inception (2010)

    Regarding the sense-of-life of the main characters in this film, all I can say is: I don't remember much of a sense-of-life in anyone in the movie. And, frankly, I was pretty confused by the whole thing. I guess if I were to try to name the sense-of-life of the main character, played by Leonardo di Caprio, I would say it is: "The Universe, Man and the subconscious are all against us. We must work with them in order to fight them and achieve our values." Totally nuts.
  16. Clive Donner dies

    Clive Donner, British director, has died at the age of 84. I'm not familiar with his work, except for one film: Stealing Heaven (1988). I thought it was a good film which examined, with almost surgical accuracy, the mind-set behind the Dark and Middle Ages. What is rather sad to me is not the fact that Mr. Donner has passed, but that the artist behind a good and perceptive piece of work died from indirect effects of Alzheimer's. Some of the residents at the Assisted Living facility I work at have either dementia or Alzheimer's, and so did my father. I've seen--from "outside"--the destructive effects of these diseases on the mind (and I'm sure a number of people on this Forum have or have had relatives who suffer from dementia or Alzheimer's).
  17. Koran burnings

    I have no problem with someone burning copies of the Koran that they've bought, either. And I would have a problem with a President or a government ordering citizens not to burn it. If we live in a world where we are so terrified of "kicking the hornet's nest", that ain't good. When are we going to stop worrying about angering statist/theocratic nations, or, probably one day soon, "kooks with nukes"? No free people can live in a world like that. They must focus on disabling such nations with military force. I just wish that those church people who lately want to burn the Koran would only re-examine their own moral and epistemological "field manual"--the Bible.
  18. The only type of possible "soulmate" who was religious that I could ever give a "second chance" to is one who tells me she believes what she believes because she has thought it through, and holds that her belief system is true because it is a reflection of reality (even though she would be very mistaken about the existence of the supernatural). In other words, what I require is first-handedness, even if mistaken, with reason as my potential mate's conscious guide. I once dated a woman who told me she believed in God, Jesus, etc., because she had "thought it through", and because the Bible said it was true. I responded by saying that that's no different then me saying that what Ayn Rand said is true because I've thought it through and because she said it. I said that the only standard of judging whether something is true or not is if it matches up against your awareness of reality--in other words, by use of your reason. Not one smidgen of second-handedness enters into it. I told her that just because something is written doesn't make it so. She disagreed in the Bible's case; that "written" was true because it was the Bible. Well, that was the death knell on that relationship. But it wouldn't have been if the woman had said only that she had thought things through, using her reasoning mind. If that is the reigning principle in someone, they may be persuadable, and may not require that you go on some "re-education campaign" to change them (which never works, anyway, and is only destructive to both parties).
  19. FAHRENHEIT 451

    I'd like to suggest the 1966 film Fahrenheit 451, which starred Oskar Werner and Julie Christie, for rating. It is one of my top five favorite films. It has some philosophical flaws, but I love it for its philosophical virtues. It is set in a future when fireman no longer put out fires--they burn books. The production of printed material is forbidden, and so is reading it. It shows how necessary it is for men's and women's minds to be free, and how they suffer when that freedom is stifled. It also demonstrates the correct time and context for rising up with arms against a totalitarian regime. And as a sidebar, it presents what happens to men and women when they marry without having inquired about or examined each other's fundamental values and beliefs. And it has one of Bernard Herrmann's best films scores. It is, in my view, a flawed but excellent film. And one of the few films I've seen that I thought was better than the book.
  20. Harriet Whitney Frishmuth

    I had the good fortune to see two fountain sculptures by Frishmuth at the Philbrook Museum in Tulsa a couple of years ago. The Philbrook is definitely worth a visit, not only for the early American art but also for the building itself and the grounds. It's terrific!
  21. The Deadliest Ideas

    To Scott A.: "Crushing psychological bind"...boy, is that ever true. (Probably truer than I realize, given my upbringing, early education and church indoctrination at an early age.) To Arnold: Regarding "plotting one's life": I think you've really hit on something. For years I've thought that our public education system (of which I am a "product") is missing one (of many) crucial area(s) of instruction: how to (rationally) plan one's future. For one thing, that would require the highest degree of selfishness--since we're talking about career here, among other things--but selfishness has been declared evil for decades/centuries, and so you can forget having such a course in the curriculum.
  22. Harold Lloyd scene

    Thanks, Betsy! I'll have to check that out. (I'm assuming this Harold Lloyd collection is the same one Linda gave a plug for on the Arts Cruise.)
  23. Harold Lloyd scene

    I'm trying to find out which Harold Lloyd film has one of the most side-splittingly hilarious scenes I've ever seen in a movie. The clip I saw, years ago, had Lloyd going to a ball and inadvertently picking-up the wrong jacket, that of a magician. It was so funny my sides hurt! Has anyone seen it, and does anyone know which film it's from?
  24. A Happy 84th Birthday

    There are many, many Tony Bennett recordings that I need to check out. But be sure to check out a fairly recent CD of his, The Art of Romance, which I've discussed in another thread. Terrific!! And so soothing.
  25. Happy Birthday to Thoyd Loki

    Happy Birthday, Thoyd!! I've always enjoyed your commentaries.