Archive for June, 2016

Third ‘Atlas Shrugged’ film horrid, but message inspires me anyway

by David McElroy

Atlas Shrugged 3-still

I finally got around to watching the third film in the “Atlas Shrugged” trilogy. It’s awful.

I can’t think of anything good to say about this movie, just as I haven’t had anything good to say about its two predecessors. (Here are my thoughts about Part 1 and Part 2.) There’s a reason it lost lots of money and there’s a reason that reviewers trashed it. As a film, everything about it is bad.

As with the first two films, the core problem is that the producer was intent on translating Ayn Rand’s book to the screen faithfully, without having any real understanding of the differences between books and films as art. He also doesn’t seem to have any understanding of the book’s weaknesses.

The result is a film that manages to misunderstand the medium of film — by giving awkward speeches that work acceptably in print but are laughable in a film — yet retains all the dramatic weaknesses of a book in which no character ever undergoes real change. Good people are always good and heroic. Bad people are always bad and despicable. Nobody has a real character arc in which he learns and grows and changes.

Since the script essentially transfers as much of the book as possible to a screenplay — and does it in a way that violates film’s “show, don’t tell” ethos — I assume better directors weren’t willing to touch these three films. The result of the awkward production and slavish faithfulness to the book is a result that feels as though there was no director. It’s as though actors were given scripts and a cinematographer simply shot them saying their lines — with no film professional bringing cohesion to the whole.

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Feral cats and hurting people both require trust, patience, time to heal

by David McElroy

Bessie1

Although Bessie has lived inside with me for more than seven years, she’s still a wild, untamed and terrified little cat — just as she was when I brought her in from the cold on a freezing December night years ago.

Bessie and her sister, Molly, had lived on the streets around my house with their mother. They were a few months old when their mother suddenly disappeared. I took them in with the assumption that I could teach them to trust humans if they were loved and cared for. After all, I had done that repeatedly with other cats who had turned into loving companions.

But Bessie and Molly never learned to trust. They enjoy food and a safe place to sleep and live, but they have never accepted that it’s safe for me to touch them. Something in their feral genes or their early life on the street has taught them that humans aren’t to be trusted. So I just accepted long ago that I could give them a safe place to live but that they would never want human love.

In the last month, I’ve had reason to think I might have been mistaken. Maybe with even more time and work and love, Bessie might change.

Nearly a month ago, I had to catch Bessie to shave some mats out of her fur. She had gotten something into the fur of her back and she hadn’t been able to clean it out, so it had matted. She has only three legs, so it’s harder for her to clean some parts of herself than it is for other cats.

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Accepting happiness tomorrow does no good if tomorrow never comes

by David McElroy

Waiting

When I was a child, the days, weeks and months took forever to pass.

A day seemed to drag on. A week or a month seemed forever. The time from one Christmas to the next might as well have been a lifetime.

And then I got old enough to start thinking about my future self — the adult self who would conquer the world, make a fortune and be loved. I longingly looked forward to that day. I made childish plans. I had fantasy stories in which I was the beloved hero.

When I grew up, I would do all the things I yearned to do — and I would be happy in that distant tomorrow. The picture was crystal clear in my young mind.

Decades later, tomorrow has never come.

I’ve known people who live in the past, but I’ve known others who live in a perfect future that never comes. They think if some particular thing can happen, it will allow something else good to happen — and then they’ll be happy. Until then, everything is on hold.

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I choose love over hate, because the Author of the story isn’t finished

by David McElroy

Heart graphic

We all have a natural inclination to hate those we see as our enemies. We hate those who hate us. We hate those who hurt us. We hate those who threaten us.

The righteous indignation of anger leads to burning hate — and it feels so justified. We’re the ones who are right. Everyone else is wrong. It seems so simple.

Hate is easy. Love is staggeringly difficult.

Hate is the default reaction for all of us, me included. It feels so good and so right to burn with rage at certain people, even if we claim principles that teach love.

Love isn’t a default reaction. Instead, it’s a difficult choice, especially at first. But as you continue to make that choice, you change. Your heart softens and gets bigger. Eventually, love seems like the only viable choice — even though you know it will remain difficult as your choice is tested again and again.

If you read or watch news — something I strongly advise you to avoid — you’ll soon be filled with reasons to hate people, both individuals and groups. Everybody has a good justification for their hate.

“They hated us first.”

“Those people have been killing us for generations.”

“My group has always been oppressed and hated.”

All of the justifications will be true on some level. History is full of groups hating each other. Humans have murdered and stolen from each other, almost always blaming the victims or — even worse — saying, “God told us to do that.”

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Start over here

When this site launched in 2011, it was intended as a way to find others who were sick of partisan politics and wanted to connect with like-minded people who were ready to go beyond politics and find ways of escaping. It has shifted focus in ways that reflect my own shifting thinking. I’m less interested in politics and more interested in looking at the things that make life worth living, such as love, creation, self-understanding and connecting with others. Every article I have posted since 2011 is still in my archives, but everything I write is a reflection of my current thinking. Sometimes I’m wrong — and that’s fine with me — and I don’t always end up agreeing with what I wrote five years ago. For now, you can still read what I wrote about the site’s purpose in 2011, but I should rewrite this. Read more.

Contact David

David likes email, but can’t reply to every message. I get a surprisingly large number of requests for relationship advice — seriously — but I rarely have the time to respond. (Sorry.) Besides, with my own romantic track record, maybe my advice isn’t worth taking. I’d like to find a wife one of these days, so maybe I should add an “application.”

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