Beauty and the Beast Goes Gay

disneys-lefou  Disney will be treating the world to yet another new version of “Beauty and the Beast” shortly but it’s already drawn some unwanted press. In this version, Gaston’s sidekick, LeFou (Josh Gad–see photo above), turns out to be gay. Maybe they figured they could push it past parents because it’s a Disney film, but it’s already gotten some backlash. One theatre in Alabama said they will not run this movie because having a gay character in it is an “act against God”.

I’m not sure where they beauty_and_the_beast_2017_poster got this from, but I’m pretty sure this theatre has previously shown movies that were equally or more “offensive” than merely having a gay character in it. The film has a powerful cast that includes Emma Watson, Ewan McGregor, Kevin Kline, and Stanley Tucci. The one scene in question is fleeting as best, as LeFou, who has often thought about being Gaston, wonders if it would be better to kiss him. Surely, this could have been palmed off as a form of “hero worship”, and I’m sure Disney will handle it with applomb and consideration for the kiddies’ sensitivities.

By this time, there is hardly a child who can follow this movie and does NOT have some idea about gays. Maybe  now that the movie industry is out of its seasonal kid movie cycle, and it’s about to bombard us with more adult themes and monsters,with “Kong Skull Island”, “CHiPs”, “Baywatch”, “Life”, and “Alien Covenant”, there will be precious little for thedisneys-lefou-2 kids to see apart from this Disney production, since “Power Rangers” and “Wonder Woman” may fall short of being exactly kid friendly. We could have done much worse than a gay character, and we know Hollywood CAN be funny with homosexuality since we’ve seen “Zorro, the Gay Blade” years ago. This is Disney, for heaven’s sake, but people are always finding hidden sexual innuendos about these films. Remember the clouds “forming the word SEX” in “Lion King”, or the “phallic symbol” on the “Little Mermaid” poster? Now they won’t have to look as hard. Come on, people! Get a life—this is 2017! I think it’s much more important to point out that the character’s name, LeFou, in French, means “the crazy one”. Is Disney trying to subtly pass the idea that to be gay, you must be crazy? I think THAT is the truly serious issue here.

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Filed under animation, comedy, movies

Minimum Wage Hike Means Doom

wendys   A tremendous battle is brewing over a hot-button issue that will culminate in a war with no winners. I am referring, of course, to this senseless minimum wage hike being sought by a lot of workers. Sorry, but we don’t need a higher minimum wage—we need prices we can afford.

The fast food segment is bearing the brunt of this fight, and while the wages earned by many of these people could use a slight upgrade, $15 an hour is too much. My last employment was as an upper level manager in the automotive segment, and I wasn’t making $15 an hour. You’re telling me burger flipping is more important than MY job?

Let’s look at the overall picture here. Too few people are making too big a share of the  money. An actor works three months on a movie and gets paid $20 million by the studio. Why? What makes him so special? His name? An athlete plays, for example, baseball. This is more like a job because he uses his skills to a higher extent. Yet he plays in about 100 games a year (much less if he’s a pitcher), yet makes the equivalent of over $100,000 an hour. These are the people who can afford $5 million homes and $80,000 cars. You can’t, yet want the same perks they do.

mcdonalds-sign  You petition for $15 an hour without considering what your employer will do about it. First, he’ll measure your importance against the company’s financial future—and this includes his wallet. Let’s see—one of our stores has 30 employees, and 15 of them mostly take orders, making them little more than waiters. People are more tech-savvy today than ever before, so we can replace the waiters with mechanised order kiosks. McDonald’s has begun doing this in several cities, and Wendy’s announced today it’s doing this in 1,000 of its stores soon. The result? No more temperamental employees being paid every hour of every day they work, and a few machines can now do the work of those 15 workers. Within months, we’ll have saved millions of dollars chain-wide in salary and medical coverage, not to mention having to pay into the tax structure. Company wins, you lose–money, house, and job.

dennysThe scenario is the same everywhere as our governments fail to see that my plan will put a stop to this. With lower prices, there will be no need for higher wages, and we can keep the status quo. If we keep spiraling in the opposite direction, the human race is doomed. It will become too costly to employ humans, but without humans being able to earn money, they can’t but your products, and you will become archaic yourselves. Result? Total chaos and civil war. Do we want that?Think about THAT in your ivory towers.

 

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Filed under employment, minimum wage, Restaurants, Uncategorized, work

Day Without Immigrants A Dud

protests-1   If you were expecting more of this mayhem, you were probably disappointed, although probably not as much as the people who participated. It was being billed as another protest, the Day Without Immigrants, and like the one a few years ago, it failed massively. Yes, a few companies, like McDonald’s closed quite a few stores, and small bodegas in mainly Hispanic sanctuary cities didn’t open their doors today, to which most of the population said “So what?”

Some years back, a similar “work stoppage” was tried by illegal immigrants nationwide, but the overall effect was that people who didn’t take part were amazingly pleased that with the lesser amount of traffic on the roads and a smaller number of customers in the stores, people reported shorter commuting times and a more pleasurable shopping experience.

I live in Washington now after finally being able (after a two-decade struggle) to escape California. Nearby Seattle is rapidly becoming the Santa Ana of the Northwest, and I think there was more support here than in southern California. I nonetheless posted on several Los Angeles TV station boards, and got much support when I mentioned the previous Day Without (Illegal) Immigrants. Many people recounted how they had not had such an easy commute since the same day years ago.

protests-2  Like the recent Women’s Protests, this “non-event” created nothing but ill feelings and indifference among non-protesters. I want to go on record here and say that NOT having the illegals report to work WILL affect some businesses, especially food and hospitality because overall, these people DO perform the jobs that legal citizens consider either too low-paying or “beneath their dignity”, which is why we have such an immigrant problem today.  The “privileged” middle class hasn’t caught up with the idea that there’s really no such thing as a “bad” job, just jobs that don’t pay what you’d like. This is a major problem that won’t be rectified until the Feds jump in and set price and salary controls.  Why should an actor get $20 million for a few month’s work to pretend to be someone else while people who perform actual life-saving work (like police and firemen, for example) get relatively low pay? Why should an athlete be paid (comparatively speaking, based on their salaries) $25,000 an hour and then work only six months out of the year? Then when he’s being interviewed on TV, he has to have a translator because he doesn’t understand or speak English? On that angle, I have to give pro wrestlers a big nod, since they work year-round without vacation (usually) in a job that can be dangerous. When’s the last time you heard a wrestler say he’s going on strike?

So, getting back to the illegals. Yes, you work in our fields and perform hard manual labour under less than ideal conditions for often inadequate pay, but you’re here because it’s still more than you’d make back home, if there WERE jobs. The fact that you chose to come here illegally, usually because you didn’t want to wait the required time to come here legally, is not relevant. You’re breaking the law and know it, which is why you refuse to apply for legal residence here. Because of this, you reap much dislike (and yes, hatred) from the citizens of this nation. Those of you who have a bit more education find citizen patsies who are willing to take a chance and offer you work in better jobs like retail and other services.  Today, some of you even feel as “privileged” as the people who are citizens, thanks to bleeding heart liberal Democrats like Hillary Clinton. These politicians lead you to believe they actually care about you and even get you to illegally vote for them, and once they get into office, they reject you like last week’s trash.

My solution? Go back and try to re-enter America  legally, because I don’t think (although the idea HAS been bantered about) that you’ll ever see a mass “forgiveness” of illegals like we saw back in the 80s. We remember too well where THAT got us, and won’t repeat that mistake again.

 

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Filed under illegal immigrants, Immigration, Protests, work

xXx the Return of Xander Cage

If somebody told me that I’d be going to see a “XXX” movie back in the 70s, it would have meant something completely different. Vin Diesel has already appeared as Xander Cage in a  couple of previous films, but in this one he’s “pressed” into service when he hears about his old boss being killed.

xxx-poster The action starts within seconds of the opening credits and never lets up under the direction of D.J. Caruso. In fact, if you look up the definition of “action movie”, it would probably refer you to the film. In a nutshell: a device called “Pandora’s Box”, which can be used to direct orbiting satellites into becoming weapons crashing down from space is stolen by agents from a government headquarters. When the “brass” decides that this will require equally skilled men to bring them in, a female official says she knows of such a man.

xxx-1 She goes to Santo Domingo to “reactivate” Xander Cage and team him up with some military muscle, but Cage has these men “drop out” and assembles his own crew, which begins a series of deceptions, double crosses, and triple crosses that keeps the audience guessing. Cage and crew travel to the Phillippines to track down the thieves, who turn out to be xXx agents themselves, including UFC Welterweight Champion Michael Bisping in a cool role. Much of this cast were virtual unknowns to me, but they all gelled quite well together.

XXX: RETURN OF XANDER CAGE, from left: Tony Jaa, Michael Bisping, Donnie Yen, 2017. ph: Michael The device is recovered, but as Xander points out when another satellite is highjacked, this was a “single unit” device, and the real one capable of accessing any satellite, is still out there. The real device is tracked down to Detroit, in a high-rise building, and the two groups of xXx agents work separately to get it, setting up a violent fight along Detroit streets until both teams decide to work together. It turns out the evil mastermind is himself a rogue CIA man with delusions of grandeur (old plot twist here).

XXX: RETURN OF XANDER CAGE, Ruby Rose, 2017. ph: George Kraychyk / ©Paramount /Courtesy Everett

Just as the villain is “taken out” by sharpshooter Adele Wolff (Ruby Rose), yet another development pops up involving equally crooked government agents (surprise) and even more shootouts and a harrowing plane ride that resolves it all in a neatly wrapped package that brings Xander and Serena (Deepika Padukone) together before the final scene in a church for the funeral of dead chief Augustus Gibbons(Samuel L. Jackson) who was killed all the way back at the film’s beginning.

XXX: RETURN OF XANDER CAGE, from left: Vin Diesel, Deepika Padukone, 2017. ph: George Kraychyk / Diesel and Padukone, we deduce by the end, will definitely be an item. Diesel himself is listed as one of the producers in this movie, so he definitely has a vested interest in keeping the story going, and the end definitely points that way. “xXx” runs for just under two hours, and there isn’t time to get bored or even catch your breath, so if you crave action, you’ll get a full plate of it here.

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Filed under action films, Action-adventure, movies

Passengers Is Believable Sci-fi

passengers-poster   Passengers takes a fresh new look at an old problem which is currently on a lot of lips as we prepare to colonise Mars—how will people get there? This film concentrates on the “Homestead Corporation” which is sending thousands of people (in this case 5,000 passengers and 258 crew members) to a new world on a 120-year long trip under suspended animation on the Starship Avalon. At the beginning, we see the huge, essentially robotic ship and how it handles meteorites in space. It encounters a huge piece of space debris which figures heavily in the plot later.

passengers-2Jim Preston(Chris Pratt)is one of the passengers who awakens from the induced slumber and finds no one else has. He interacts with the ship’s systems and discovers that a malfunction has awakened him early and the ship still has 90 years to travel before it reaches its destination. Jim ambles around and encounters an android bartender named Arthur (Michael Sheen) who helps him keep a grip on loneliness until he finds another sleeping passenger named Aurora Lane(Jennifer Lawrence).

Jim agonizes over her, we eventually find out, for a whole year before waking her up for his own selfish needs, knowing that by doing so he basically ends her life prematurely. Jim and Aurora develop a friendship, then a romance, before she finds out Jim awakened her and grows to dislike him for it. Jim tries all sorts of tricks to win her back. About this time, several of the Avalon’s systems malfunction, and a crew member,Gus Mancuso(Laurence Fishbourne) also awakens.

Together, they figure out that something is causing the ship to malfunction, but it turns out Gus is ill and dying. In fact, he dies before the problem is found, which turns out to be a piece of the huge space rock that crashed in the Avalon at the film’s beginning.  Jim and Aurora have to fix it themselves,  which involves a highly dangerous extravehicular trip that costs Jim his life, although Aurora uses the ship’s robotic doctor to revive him.

passengers-3

Jim figures out a way to get Aurora back into suspended animation to finish the trip, but as the film ends we discover that she opted not to do that and made a life for themselves on the ship as the crew awakens when the Avalon nears the Homestead Planet 88 years later. Passengers,uses a sharp, credible script to work in the heavy, gee-whiz special effects in what turns out to be a formulaic romantic story on steroids that is highly enjoyable.

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Welcoming the Alcatel Idol 4SWindows 10 VR

Just when T-mobile had us convinced they had joined the world and given up on Windows Phone, they pull a switch on us and become the exclusive distributor for the new upscale-looking Windows 10 phone from Alcatel–the Idol 4S VR. Several things set this unit apart from the competition.

First off is the price. At $469, it isn’t exactly cheap, yet it’s priced quite a bit below the other “premium” phones. T-mobile’s top-tier customers can order one with no money down and repay it in two years with payments of under $20 a month. No money down isn’t exactly right either, since you have to pay tax and shipping up front—under $47. Also of note is the large capacity battery (3000 mAh) and the whopping factory supplied 64GB of storage, upgradable to 128 GB with an SD card This is all guided by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 processor—largest and fastest in use in today’s phones, and found only in a competitive model selling for over twice the price. This makes the Idol 4S lightning fast with a 5.5-inch AMOLED Dragontrail  screen  at 1080X 1920 pixels with a 441 ppi density.

It doesn’t stop there, though. The main camera is a 21 MP marvel with a Sony processor, and the front-facing “selfie” camera is 8 MP, with both lenses having their own flash. The cameras have autofocus, digital zoom, geo tagging, exposure compensation, ISO controls, white balance presets, High Dynamic Range mode, and panoramic capabilities. High resolution video is standard. But perhaps the most interesting thing is that the Idol 4S comes with a virtual reality (VR) headset and is prepackaged with several VR apps and access to a VR store for more. This will appeal to gamers but the average phone fan will just occasionally use that feature, although they will find the 4 GB of RAM memory useful.

I read up on this device for over a week and found several discrepancies with the product. First, all the reviewers claimed there was no charger or SIM card with the phone. The charger, as a space-saving measure, is packed inside the VR unit’s goggles, and while the Android version of this phone may not have a SIM card, the T-mobile version comes with a “nano-SIM” card, a size unlike any I’ve used before. A factory-supplied “key” opens a small tray housing the SIM and SD card (SD card sold separately, of course, and I would recommend a 64 GB card). Reviewers report (and T-mobile states) that a shock-absorbing case comes with the phone, but it doesn’t. The 4S has a body made of tough glass, but glass nonetheless. This will make it a fingerprint magnet and a breakage liability. There are already several companies (including Incipio) who make cases for this beauty for about $25.

Speaking of fingerprints, there is a fingerprint sensor to unlock the phone, but its not explained in the user manual that comes with the phone how it works. I am going to contact Alcatel about this omission. Because my previous phone was also Windows OS, the 4S, as part of its setup, automatically tagged my Lumia 635 and transferred everything in its memory to the 4S via Bluetooth. T-mobile did a computer-derived jumpstart of the SIM card and I was ready to go. The “fast charger” will do a “zombie revival” dead to full charge in less than 2 hours with the new-style  USB-C cable that can be plugged in to a receptacle with no “up” or “down” connector alignment.alcatel-idol-4s-6Also interesting is that this phone has no “up” position. If you pick it up “upside down”, the screen realigns itself to look “right-side up” to you. This stunning mobile unit is the new standard bearer for the market. Web pages look just like they do on my laptop, which none of my previous phones could do.  The Idol 4S may be the phone that will revive the Windows platform, and it’s already shaken things up as over the last few months there have been more WP units making their way to the market. Ask any Microsoft Store employee.

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Filed under Alcatel, Windows Phone

Arrival Slick New Invasion Film

arrival-poster-2    Never have I been so completely confused by such an excellent piece of film making. There is an old Eastern provern that says time is a constant, renewing circle, yet those that don’t understand it are doomed to “fall out of time and perish from their own lack of knowledge”. Time is a weapon in and of itself, and that’s the premise of “Arrival”, a movie told from the thoughts and voice-over of Amy Adams, who plays Louise, a linguistics expert who gets brought in by  Forrest Whitaker, who has worked with her before and wishes to have her around as part of his team, also composed of scientist Ian (a post-Avengers Jeremy Renner) who are assigned to investigate a giant UFO that’s stationed itself over the western U.S. Plains—assigned to decipher the aliens’ language so we can tell what they want. Turns out that 11 more such ships have stationed themselves over various parts of the world and other governments are engaged in similar operations.

The beginning of this film is originally confusing, but it quickly clarifies itself as Louise’s life as she gets married, has a girl, and eventually loses that girl to what appears to be cancer and her husband walks out on her as a result. Louise, it turns out, has some sort of sixth sense that allows her to empathise with others, which turns out to be a great help in understanding the aliens.

The team enters the alien ship by a door which opens at regular intervals each day. The aliens are large globs with six octopus-like tentacles that open up into similarly octopoidal hands. Officially, they are called “Heptapods”, but when Louise asks what they should call the two aliens in the craft, Ian suggests “Abbott and Costello”, and it sticks. The aliens have deep, sonorus vocals, but they communicate by creating circles of a cloudy inklike substance from their “hands”. They appear to float in a heavy, foglike atmosphere on the other side of a glassy wall.

Arrival 1.jpg After a while, communication appears to become possible as the team mathematically analises the pictures of the “idea blobs” the aliens make, but several of the worldwide teams have apparently lost something in the translation and disconnect themselves from the info net that was set up. Even our own team is tricked into carrying explosives into the ship, but as it explodes, the aliens isolate Ian and. Louise from the explosion. That’s when Louise really realises that these are not evil entities, but the world prepares a violent conflict anyway, led by China, Sudan, and Pakistan. Louise re-enters the craft and sees only one alien. Her query reveals that the other was fatally hurt by the explosion. She apologises for the attack and fathoms out the whole story. The aliens have come to help us figure out how to make use of time as a commodity, a tool, a “weapon” (this “weapon” reference is what others mistook for aggression.

Arrival 3.jpg From that point, we go through a “fast-forward” segment where Louise manages to reach the Chinese warlord and convinces him of the aliens’ true purpose, leading into the various world powers agreeing to defuse tensions and work together again. The crisis is averted and the alien ships leave.

This is definitely not your run-of-the-mill invasion film, more in the vein of the original “Day the Earth Stood Still”rather  than “Independence Day”, and in the end you tend to remember Louise rather than the aliens. This is a highly intellectual tour-de-force that plays out a bit slowly in the beginning but always stays on track. It gets 5 Tomahawks all the way.

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Filed under movies, science fiction, Uncategorized