Sunday, March 25, 2018

A problem we have...

A problem we have...  Debbie and I have different tastes in movies, mostly overlapping.  In music our tastes are nearly two disjoint sets. :)  That's just background for the problem we have, though: we can't rely on reviews to help us choose a movie to watch.

The latest case in point is Pan's Labyrinth.  On Rotten Tomatoes, we saw that both viewers and critics loved it.  We watched the trailer and thought it had possibilities.  So a couple of nights ago, we streamed it from Amazon, and ... we were disgusted with it.  One big surprise for us: it was full of gratuitous, cartoonish violence.  There were many scenes that we just couldn't stand to watch, and several violent scenes that happened by surprise, so we had no chance to turn away.  We thought the characters, even the main characters, were very poorly developed.  The plot was full of things that just made no sense to us as we were watching, though some we managed to puzzle out afterwards.  It was definitely surreal, but not in any way that we found interesting, intriguing, or entertaining.  I had a similar reaction to it that I have to much modern art: I just don't get it.  I don't understand what could possess anyone to say “I like this!”

And that, in short, is our problem.  This one you could summarize as “lots of false positives” on movie reviews, meaning that many movies that are positively reviewed – either by critics or viewers – we think are awful.  It is quite possibly over half of positive reviews are “false” from our perspective.  Even worse: we also get a lot of “false negatives” – many movies are are negatively reviewed we think are great.  The rate of false negatives isn't quite as high as the false positives, but it's far from zero.  So the end result is that we basically can't use reviews as guidance for movies we've never seen.

What we need is “movie reviews for weirdos like us.”  Rotten Loonies, maybe?  Anybody know of such a thing?

Felt like hell yesterday...

Felt like hell yesterday ... and about the same this morning.  Whatever damned virus has got a hold on me is really annoying.  Because of the fever associated with the virus, my brain feels like it's running at a tiny fraction of its normal power, and that's the part I hate the most.  Yesterday I was playing my usual Scrabble games over the Internet (with my sister and her friend, and with a friend in Poland), and it was really, really hard for me – trying to think of words to fit my letters felt like I was wading through mental quicksand, where normally it's a breezy sprint for me.

I didn't do much of anything yesterday (see previously mentioned virus), but a few things did stick out.

First, I ran to our little local grocery store (Ridley's) in Hyrum to get some hamburger.  Debbie was making her patented chili comfort food, figuring (correctly!) that I would like it when I was feeling awful.  On the way into the store I was confronted (very politely, and with humor) by an adult woman dressed in a cookie costume and waving a sign around.  I soon figured out that she was guiding victims customers to the table in front of the store where several cute Girl Scouts and an adult woman were selling Girl Scout cookies.  On my way out of the store, I bought two boxes of them.  The Girl Scout who helped me choose the cookies, when we were done, asked me “What happened to your hair?”  My hair is pretty short at the moment, and it's getting sparser by the day.  This was not long after my morning shower, and my hair was all frizzy and pointing in every which way.  I don't blame her at all for being curious about it! :)  The adult woman behind her, though, sucked in her breath and called out the girl's name admonishingly.  I laughed and told her it was fine, and told the little girl that my hair is what happens to men who are older than dirt.  She just looked confused, but the mom behind her got a laugh. 

When I went to pay for my cookies, I had an experience of quite the different kind.  I was directed to another Girl Scout, a little older, to take my money.  She told me the cookies were $4 a box.  I didn't have correct change, so I handed her a $20 bill.  She looked up at me, apologetically, and said “I’m really bad at math, and I’m in high school.  I don’t know how much change you’re supposed to get.”  I found out, through a bit more conversation, that she was in 10th grade.  If we were still in California, where the poor Girl Scouts (where and when we lived) had to compute a 8.67% sales tax, I could forgive the inability to compute the correct change in her head.  But here in Utah there is no sales tax on Girl Scout cookies, and the price ($4 a box) is about as easy to compute as you can get.  I talked it out with the girl, mom behind her watching closely, and determined that she could figure the price for the two boxes (though only after great mental labor), but figuring the change I was due was completely beyond her.  Even in my mentally incapacitated (see fever mentioned earlier), this was a trivial exercise for me.  In the end I had to tell this high school girl that $20 - (2 x $4) = $12.  With relief evident in her face, she handed me the change. 

In most countries I've traveled in (and that's quite a few), such an encounter would be unthinkable unless that little girl actually had a mental deficiency.  Here, even in Utah, it is all too common an occurrence.  It's this sort of thing that makes me feel the doom coming on – and makes me confident that there will be a successor to the U.S. hegemony in the world.  I'm not sure which country it will be.  China and India are the two likeliest looking ones to me at the moment...

Last night we watched an old (1963) movie: The Three Lives of Thomasina.  I had never seen it before, but it was a favorite of Debbie's childhood.  I had read the book (Thomasina by Paul Gallico); it was a Christmas present from my parents in the late '50s, one of the first books my parents bought for me (as opposed to the books my dad inherited, and the many books they bought for themselves).  I remember getting it not long before they surprised me with a complete encyclopedia (that one purchased from a yard sale).  Both are vivid memories for me, along with three or four other books that were early and special to me.  Anyway, the movie's plot at least resembles the book, enough that I could easily follow along.  I quite enjoyed it.  Debbie did too, through her sobbing and sniffling (she gets quite emotional about stories involving animals).

It's snowing this morning.  Dang it!  I thought we were likely done with this white stuff, but apparently not quite yet...