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So, the following blog is emotional diarrhea.  I suggest that you do not read it.  I apologize.

I am not struggling with death, I am struggling with dying.  For the last 24 hours I have been thinking about how I want to die.  How do you want to die?  Or a better question:  How do you want to live?  You see, my father is not dead.  I can’t even say that he is dying, but he is alive.  I should be happy that he is alive, but I am not.  I want him to be living.  I have never understood the difference between being alive and living more than I do right now.  It is amazing how unprepared I am for this situation.  Why am I so unprepared for this?

In part I am angry at the church.  I have been to church most of my life.  My father is a pastor.  I have read the bible from beginning to end.  I believe, have faith in, trust and obey God.  I can think of the countless number of sermons I have heard regarding death and the afterlife, but not one of them ever addressed the fine line between life and death.  I have been thinking about Terri Schiavo.  Remember her?  She was big news for a while.  Terri Schiavo had a heart attack in 1990 and suffered severe brain damage.  For several years, doctors attempted to improve her brain function, but eventually she was diagnosed as being in a vegetative state.  In 1998, her husband petitioned to have her feeding tube removed.  Terri Schiavo’s parents attempted to block her husband’s petition.  It made national news.  Several politicians, including the President of the United States, George W. Bush got involved.  After years of court battles, people protesting in the streets, and massive news coverage, her feeding tube was finally removed in 2005.  Luckily, my situation is nowhere near the severity of that case, but all I can think of is how dare we get involved in that family’s business?  How dare we!  Why do we fight to keep people alive under any and all circumstances?  Is it the sanctity of life?  Is this what the Bible teaches?  Does a woman in a vegetative state in bed for well over a decade glorify God?  Were her parents just happy that she was alive?

I think people are afraid of death.  I don’t care if you are an atheist or a lifelong bible thumper, you are not likely to run in to death’s arms.  You will most likely go kicking and screaming.  Whether you are the atheist praying to the God that you don’t believe in as your plane is crashing to the ground or the believer that is praying to not be taken to that supposedly awesome place called heaven, no one wants to die.  As I stated in my last blog, I have no fear of my father’s death.  He will be going to a great place, but he is not in a great place right now.  How long should he remain in his current state?  How long would I want to remain in his current state?  The whole situation pisses me off.

In part, I am angry at science.  I know how the body works.  I know what every drug that is being pumped into my dad’s body is doing and what it is for.  I look at the blinking screens and can explain to you what each number means.  I also know that if it weren’t for science, he wouldn’t be alive right now.  I blame science for being in this current situation.  Before all of our medical technological advances, people died.  It was sad, but it was part of life.  Science teaches that if we can just figure everything out, we can cheat death.  Who would not be happy about this?  Babies are being born now that would have certainly died 10 years ago.  You can smoke and be 100 pounds over weight and be confident that there will be a drug that will allow you to continue to live in your “horrible life decisions” state.  Major disorders are being cured at the genetic level.  Our current generation believes that technology will fix everything, so why worry about your diet, exercise or health?  And why should they worry?  Technology is doing amazing things right now.  Eventually, no one will die.  Right?

I don’t know what the answers are to my situation or any other situation that involves death and dying.  I want him to be more than alive, I want him to live.  I wish I could talk to my father about this and discuss our current situation and ask him what he wants to do, but I can’t right now.  But one thing is for certain; I need to talk to my family about this; my wife, my mom, and eventually my kids because I would prefer to not be in this situation again.  I don’t want people fighting and trying to figure out what I would’ve wanted.  It is difficult to deal with the death and dying of a loved one.  Everyone is dealing with the issue in their own way and everyone is stressed and sad.  I don’t want my family fighting.  I don’t want my family to stop living while I am dying.  I want my family to bask in the knowledge of my love for them and trust that death will not be the end of me, but just the beginning.  I also want my family to focus on how awesome I was in life.  For all those reasons, you can let me go.  But if I am going to make sure that happens when the time comes, I am going to need to have the hard conversation about death.  If you are still reading, and if you haven’t already, maybe it is time for you to have the hard conversation now too.

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How do I want to die?  If all goes well, the earth will be attacked by aliens.  I will discover the weakness in the mother ship and everyone knows once the mother ship is destroyed, the remaining ships will follow.  Using a disguise of cabbage and cranberry juice poured over my body, I will sneak into the mother ship, killing at least 10 aliens with hand-to-hand combat, steal an alien weapon, grab the keys off a dead guard that I had to shoot, release the earth prisoners, which would include the President, hand the alien weapon to the President and explain to her how to get out of the ship safely, of course she will say, “What about you?”  I will say, “Mrs. President, it’s the 4th of July, and we haven’t had our fireworks yet.  It’s time for the big finale.”  I would then place my arm around her and give her a big kiss and say, “If you don’t mind, could you give that to my wife.”  The president and the other prisoners would run out of the ship.  I’d make it to the engineering room, overload the engines, find a button that will destroy the whole ship.  The alien commander bursts into the room, looks at me, I look back at him and say, “Yippy Ki Yay Motherfu…” -BOOM!!!  The whole world looks up and sees the explosions of all the ships and the Earth is saved.  The President says, “We owe our lives to that man.  We will honor him for years to come.  He was a father, husband, a great American, …” and then as a smile comes over her face, “and a great kisser.”  Pan out, show awesome alien ship explosions, cue 1812 overture and roll credits.  I’m just sayin’ …

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I love it when you stay to watch the credits and there is more movie.  Especially if after watching the credits it suggests a sequel.  For example, after I explode the mother ship, it turns out that by pushing the button, it automatically placed a force field around me.  I am encased in this bubble and I begin to float down to Earth.  I am shocked that I am still alive.  I start to laugh hysterically about how I just cheated death (This is important to any great movie.  Americans hate it when the hero doesn’t survive.  See blog above).  As I am floating down to earth, I stop laughing, quickly sober and realize, “Crap!  My wife is going to kill me because of that kiss!”  Continue credits.

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So, I just finished watching the A-Team.  I loved it!  I know what you are thinking.  “Are you kidding me?  You are going to open up a movie blog with the A-Team! Seriously?”  You better believe it Fool!  I pity the fool that don’t like the A-Team. 

Did you know that Mr. T had a cartoon? I did.

That’s right, a Mr.T reference.  Do you know why I liked the movie, because when it comes to movies, I follow one simple rule: Pure Entertainment Value.

I don’t want life lessons, political messages, redeeming value, or even reality from my movies.  I want to be entertained.  And I am relatively easily entertained, so when I am disappointed by a movie, it pisses me off.  I am so easily entertained that a plot is not one of my requirements for a good movie.  For example, one of the greatest movies of all time is ‘Friday’ with Ice Cube and Chris Tucker.  You read it right, Ice Cube.  Basically you have two guys hanging out in LA.  One person owes someone else money and they are worried that they are going to be killed for a couple of hundred bucks.  Maybe you have to be from California to truly appreciate this movie, but trust me, it is a classic. 

Daaaamn!

And the best character with almost zero lines was Deebo (Daaaamn!!!!!).

One of the down side to having a little knowledge is being able to point out inaccuracies in movies.  For example, in the movie, Lion King, there is an opening scene where you see ants carrying leaves across a tree branch.  As far as I can tell, they are leaf cutter ants.  Leaf cutter ants can be found in South America, Central America, the Caribbean, shoot, you will even find them in the southern parts of the United States.  You know where you won’t find them? In Africa.

Found in many places EXCEPT Africa.

  King Kong?  I loved the movie, absolutely loved it.  However, the commercials made it out as if gorillas were dangerous man-eaters.  You know who has to fear gorillas?  Celery.  That’s right, they are vegetarians.  A common “evil” animal is the wolf.  Do you know how many people have been attacked by wolves?  Zero.  Nonetheless, we love movies where we are attacked by some crazy rabid, genetically created, radioactive, science experimental animal gone wrong.  To be honest, I love them too.  If I am ever watching TV and Godzilla comes on, I will have no choice but to watch it to the end of the movie.  To this day, I hate the fact that Godzilla has been vilified.  He’s just a radioactive monster trying to make it through the day.

They are already working on Godzilla 2012. Crazy!

Now no offense to Japan, and the problems that they are facing truly deserve prayer, and I encourage everyone reading this blog to donate to the Red Cross if they haven’t done so already.  But, is there another country that has embraced major tragedy more than Japan?  Just nine years after Hiroshima was bombed, the movie ‘Gohira’ was released.  Gohira, better known as Godzilla was created by American nuclear weapons testing.  It makes me wonder what the country will come up with after its latest tragedy.  One thing is for certain, radioactivity does not create giant monsters or super heroes.  Seriously, donate to the Red Cross.

Despite my knowledge, I don’t mind inaccuracies, because when I go to the movies I check my brain at the door.  Sometimes inaccuracies are crucial to making the movie work.  For example, one of my favorites from 2010, The Book of Eli. 

<<SPOILER ALERT>>

In ‘The Book of Eli’, the movie is set in a post-apocalyptic world in which Eli is protecting a sacred book that he must bring to the West where he believes there are people who will know what to do with the book.  Of course, along the way some bad guys try to take the book from him.  He helps a young girl and some serious ass-kicking takes place.  Has all the elements of PEV (Pure Entertainment Value).  But there is one serious problem.  In order to make the movie work, the movie must break one very clear reality rule.  You see Eli …,  wait for it …   wait for it …  wait for it …

is blind.

 You see in the movie, Eli carries around the sacred book which turns out to be the Bible.  The reality rule that is broken is the size of a braille bible.  The new King James Version of the braille bible was completed in the 80’s.  It is a 20 volume set that requires 76 inches of shelf space at least 12 inches high.

Try lugging this across country.

I forgive this reality rule ‘error’ because the movie just would not be as slick if Denzel Washington’s character was dragging along 20 braille volumes in a cart.  You now see why I must turn my brain off when I see movies.

As a biologist I struggle with movies like Jurassic Park.  You will never ever see a predator spend over an hour hunting/chasing a prey.  Stalking, maybe, but never chase as they do in most predator movies.  It uses too much energy.

One of my favorite movies of all time was remade in 2010, The Karate Kid.  First of all, the first Karate Kid did not need to be remade.  In general I am not a fan of remakes or sequels.  They are almost never as good as the original.  There are exceptions.  Toy Story 3 might be the best one.  Believe the hype, it is that good.  If I was more in touch with my feelings, I would have bawled like a baby.  If you are prone to tears, have a handkerchief ready when you watch it, trust me.  But Karate Kid (2010) sucked. 

Now keep in mind, I am a HUGE fan of Karate Kid (1984).  My fantasy football team’s name is CobraKai, and has been for years.  “Sweep the leg” and “wax on, wax off” are still very quotable.  So, understand that my review of this movie is highly biased.  That being said, Karate Kid (2010) blows.  I am all for supporting the family, but Jaden Smith would not have “won” this role had it not been for his dad, Will Smith.  Now, I am a huge Will Smith fan, but even I know that Smith has the acting range of a grape in a painting of a fruit basket.  So, instead of just randomly trashing this movie, I have decided to break it down like a preview of a football game, position by position.  To my surprise, and possibly yours, KK 2010 does not lose every battle.  Let’s start with the most obvious positions:

SPOILER ALERT!!!! (Like it matters)

Daniel Larusso (Ralph Macchio) Vs Dre Parker (Jaden Smith):  Both are bad actors and Macchio has finally entered the death throws of his acting career by being the next one-hit wonder to be on Dancing with the Stars.  Jaden will get more work, but that has more to do with his parents than ability.  This is still no contest, Daniel beats Dre every time.

Come on Man!! You were the Karate Kid! Now this. Sad.

Mr. Miyagi (Pat Morita) vs Mr. Han (Jackie Chan):  Please, not even close.  Mr. Miyagi by a landslide.

Ali (Elisabeth Shue) vs Meiying (Wenwen Han):  Here is the problem that I have always had with the character Ali.  Was there ever a more awkward looking couple than Daniel and Ali in The Karate Kid?  Ali was like twice Daniel’s size.  They defined mismatch.  For this reason, and this reason alone, slight favor to Meiying.

Bad Boys Johnny (Billy Zabka) vs Cheng (Zhenwei Wang):  There are few characters that are type cast for good reason as Zabka was as a teenage bad boy.  Who played a spoiled Arian nation looking kid better than Zabka?  That being said, Wang nailed the Cheng role in KK 2010.  And his Kung Fu was strong (despite the name of the movie).  So, it pains me, and may surprise you, but ever so slight edge goes to Cheng.

Winning Move – Crane versus Cobra:  Can you think of a better ending to a movie than Daniel’s crane kick to win the tournament?  Has any move been more duplicated?  It was the 80’s version of the slow motion back bending Matrix move, and just about as duplicated.  Furthermore, I believed that Daniel could have learned that move.  A kid brand new to Kung Fu learns a Cobra move that takes masters decades to learn.  I don’t think so.  No Contest – Crane kick wins.

Overall the movie is more of a cover than a remake.  If you watch both movies close together, you will notice that many of the lines are not changed.  How lazy can you get?  And despite that everyone is clearly practicing Kung Fu, they don’t change the title of the movie.  It’s a cover, maybe at best, an homage, but mainly a cover and have you ever heard a good cover that was even close to as good as the original?  There are a few, but if you are honest with yourself, how many cover albums do you own? Exactly.

So, let me end this rather lengthy blog with my Top Ten Movies of 2010.  Keep in mind that I did not see all the movies of 2010, so if you have recommendations, please do not hesitate to comment and I will see them and modify my list if necessary.  Also, don’t forget, Pure Entertainment Value.

#10 The A-Team – It’s just a fun movie and stayed true to the TV series.  So, if you liked the Tv series, you will love this movie.  Only one fatal flaw, no Mr. T cameo.  Oh well.
# 9 Alice in Wonderland – As remakes go, well done.
# 8 Get Him to the Greek – Puffy’s role in this movie is down right hilarious.  This goes in my went above expectations category.  Only one other movie on this list pleasantly surprised me more than this movie.
# 7 Red – Think Ocean’s 11, but with lots and lots of guns.
# 6 Hot Tub Time Machine – This movie is truly an homage to 80’s movies.  I was excited to see it and it did not disappoint.
# 5 Book of Eli – Although I try to avoid redeeming value in movies as well as my blog, this one had a little redeeming value.  It did not distract from the butt whoopins galore, however.  “that’s not a knife.  THIS is a knife.”  Not from the movie, but you get it if you have seen it.
# 4 Toy Story 3 – Nice way to say farewell to some excellent children characters.  Bring your hankee.
# 3 How to Train your Dragon – Fun Fun Fun movie.  Best animated film of the year in my opinion.  I can and have watched many times.
# 2 The Other Guys – Biggest surprise of the year.  It went well above and beyond my expectations.  It forever has me thinking of lions and tuna differently.  Must See!
# 1 Inception – Maybe the most intelligent movie of the decade.  I had to turn my brain on for this movie, but it was worth it.

Honorable mentions that you might be surprised by:  Tooth Fairy (Good family movie.  Laughed more than I would have predicted.); Easy A (Smart movie and if you have teenage kids, you should watch it, possibly own it.) and finally She’s Out of My League (I thought it was cute.  It was formulaic, but did not apologize for it.  If you are ever bored one weekend, rent it.)

Maybe my longest blog to date.  I hope you have made it this far.  If so, thank you.  I welcome your comments, especially on movies that you think was a travesty to not be on my Top Ten 2010 Movie List.

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I have two major movie research projects I would conduct if I had the time.  The first is to determine exactly what is the probability that a minority character making through a movie alive?  Especially if the character is a black man.  Often, he is the first to go, like in Jurassic Park.  I see it so often, I am convinced it happens with great regularity.

Secondly, did Walt Disney hate women?  Snow White (drugged and witch killed); Dumbo (Mother locked up); Bambi (mother shot by hunter); Cinderella (Evil sisters and step-mom); Peter Pan (no mothers for pirate boys); Sleeping Beauty (Woman turns into dragon and killed with sword); 101 Dalmatians (Cruella Deville); Fox and the Hound (Mother fox is killed by hunter); The Little Mermaid (No mom, and evil octopus woman); Beauty and the Beast (Belle did not have a mom); Aladdin (Princess, King, NO Queen); The Lion King (despite the fact that female lions do all the hunting and teach the young to hunt, who teaches Simba to hunt?  Mufasa.  Male lions don’t do jack.); Tangled (Evil woman who locks girl away in a tower)  Is this a pattern?  I’m just sayin …

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