Movies: We Bought a Zoo (2011)

I wasn’t interested in this movie at all. The trailers looked boring. It looked really, really corny. But wow….was I surprised. I attempt to only write about movies that blindside me, not about every movie under the sun that I see, and man did this film blindside me. In a cinematic world filled with violence, murder, vulgar language, pornography and re-used boring plots; it’s nice to see a quality family film sometimes. This one is based off a true story too! Don’t get me wrong, I like a good R-rated film once and a while too…..but I can easily say that this is the best live-action family film that I’ve seen in a long, long time. Good job Matt Damon…..and Scarlett Johansson, she’s pretty awesome in it as well.

‘We Bought a Zoo’ (2011) is a true story about a widowed man and his children, who purchase an old, dilapidated zoo and rehab and re-open it. It’s about their family relationships and the relationships they create with others while dealing with their grief. And I highly recommend the film.

Pros: Great Acting. Great character development & relationships. Great use of flashbacks. An amazing story. There’s animals in it.

Cons: None that I could see. I was so engaged in the story that I found no flaws.

Worth a rental? Heck yes. Worth a purchase? Even more so. It’s a really nice film that you can enjoy by yourself, and if you’re looking for a non-violent, non-vulgar film to watch with your family or children….this is perfect.

M.A.V.B.L.O.G. Score- 10 out of 10. Great film. Touching. Breath of fresh air. A nice true story.

Outrageousness: Cell Phones are The Devil

Cell Phones…….very convenient, very appealing and captivating (especially to the new generations); you can watch a movie, pay your bills, listen to music, talk to your friends (haha…..who talks anymore- I meant text your friends) and you can even play mindless video games and apps for hours and hours on end………. No thank you. Not for me. Why do I say that?…….because I lived up to the age of 21 without a cell phone and it was a much better existence. It was way more fun and much more peaceful. Now, of course I have a cell phone right now. But I’m not happy about it.

I’ve been able to witness the progression of the ‘evil’ cell phone since its inception. I’ve seen it slowly creep into our culture, taking over the hearts and minds (and attention spans) of our wonderful human compatriots. I remember a time when families and couples went out to dinner and just talked to each other…..maybe someone checked their beeper once and a while and had to find a pay phone because of an emergency. Dudes and Chicks at bars weren’t checking their facebook or twitter every 3 seconds. People actually sat. They ate. They drank a beer. They talked. Ya know….speaking. People actually spoke to one another. That may seem like a boring concept now…..but it wasn’t. It was nice. It was much less stressful too. I would go out with friends, have a good time, interact with who I was with, if there was an emergency my beeper would go off, if not I’d just come home at the end of the night….click the answering machine to see who called…and call them back. There was some zest to life. Some suspense. Some excitement. ‘Hey maybe the girl I asked out called while I wasn’t home and left a message’ or ‘Hey….I’m going out to a party to chill out. Beep me if it’s an emergency’ or ‘Hey maybe I’ll get home and see how many messages I have!’……now it’s just boring. Everyone knows where you are. All the time. You’re available. All the time. If you don’t answer someones call or text instantaneously, your girlfriend or cousin or prospective employer gets mad at you because 99% of the people in America assume you have an iPhone….and they assume that you’re on it, all the time. And people talked so much in the first decade cell phones became available that they’re exhausted now and just text message. No one even listens to voicemails anymore!!

Not to mention that people are cooking their brains with radiation….and they pay no attention to it. (Here is a CNN list of what phones emit what amounts of radiation). Remember the short run of the Andy Dick show where they had a sketch with people who had cell phone brain tumors? No?….well the show didn’t last very long (2001-2002) but that was just before cell phones were rampant in society and it was pretty accurate in my opinion. You can get on your high horse if you want to and tell me about how safe cell phones are, how many jobs the cell phone industry provides and how many lies there are about cell phone risks…..but I’ve heard that propaganda since cell phones became available. I’m not buying it. I don’t need to read any articles or news stories. I just need to look at personal experience. When I’m on a cell phone for more than 10 minutes, whichever ear I’m using gets hot and I start to get a headache. That’s not really normal. I personally know someone who talked for 8 hours a day at work on his cell phone, on the same ear, for 2 years, and developed a massive brain tumor (non-cancerous), directly behind that same ear….and had to have a huge surgery with facial reconstruction. That’s proof to me! I don’t really need to get shot in the leg 1,000 times to realize that if someone points a gun at my leg and pulls the trigger…..I will get shot in the leg!!!

And sometimes you can find the truth if you look outside of the USA for the news, as in Italy where the Italian Supreme Court ruled that Cell Phones cause Brain Tumors. The old cell phone cooking an egg thing might be bogus…..but a lot of people have tried it at home since it surfaced on youtube. And folks….it works. That same cell phone is cooking your brain every time you make a call.

Also, how ridiculous are the prices now!?! I remember a simple block phone or a flip phone. Now we’ve got mostly smart phones that cost $200-500 bucks and last for maybe a year. The rest of the time you’re stuck yelling or complaining about how crappy your phone is. (Man is my current phone terrible AND my last one too….I won’t say what company) And the monthly payments too! $100 bucks is cheap!?! Since when?? Even if I was a multi-millionare, I’d be pissed at cell phone costs.

I mean….even some celebrities stay away from cell phones. Isn’t that a sign because celebrities are rich and know all the secrets to the universe, right?? Even if you’re super famous you’re still going to want your own phone line to call mom or your spouse or kids. You can’t leave everything to your personal assistants and nannies. So why don’t those famous people like cell phones?

And are children really safer because of cell phones? Are pedophiles and psychotic gunman not attacking because of cell phones?? Is anyone safer for being on the cell phone leash 24/7?? As a small child, I got lost in Disney World twice. I was completely separated from my family. I didn’t panic, though my family did. And what happened? I was fine. I found my family after 30 minutes. No kidnapping. No funny business. Also, I used to play in the woods as a kid; I wandered around, I walked across town with my buddies, I got hurt on my bike, I stepped into some sticky situations as a teen….without a cell phone. Without any means of communication….and I’m fine. I’m here. I was never molested or kidnapped or maimed (I know that happens sometimes- but unfortunately stuff like that will always happen no matter how many cell phones we give our children). Look, I understand the benefits…..you don’t want to lose your child, you don’t want to get lost and stranded, you want to stay connected, you don’t want anything bad to happen; for logistical problems, emergency situations and certain occupations cell phones are wonderful. But that’s it.

Hey…I’m not telling you what to do. You wanna use a cell phone all day? Go ahead. Be my guest. Put your brain tissue to the test. It’s your choice. You work for a cell phone company? You feel safer with a cell phone on non-stop? You feel comfortable being able to be found all the time? Fine. Do your thing. I’m just exercising my American right of free speech, stating some opinions and sharing some information. Cell phones may have added a safety net in this tumultuous world that we live in….but cell phones have also taken away a lot of wonderful things.

Just do me a favor if you’ve read this far. Ask yourself some questions and do some observations & exercises. Think hard. Does being available all the time stress you out or make you feel better? Does having a little entertainment box feel like a burden or a benefit? How many in-person conversations do you have with people in a day (non work related) that last longer than 30 seconds? Look around the next time you’re at a bar/restaurant at how many people, and how frequently, they check their cell phones. Couldn’t that time be spent better? Couldn’t that anxious need for gratification or acceptance be provided by being silent in your mind and enjoying the moment with yourself or whoever you’re with? How many times have you almost been in an accident because of texting while driving? What’s the average percentage of people that you see texting while driving? How many people do you know that complain about their cell phone? (Either their bill, their service provider, their actual phone, how they feel after using the phone or any health issues that arose from using their phone) How many times do you see people texting while at the dinner table? How many hours a day is your cell phone within reach?

There are some good things happening. I’m not just a bitter, angry guy. Skype, Tango, Facetime and other video chat services are great. They’re free in most cases. And you actually see the person while you speak!! (I know, computers emit radiation too- but at least the computer is not glued to your ear while you use it). So if you’re going to continue to use your cell phone a lot just be mindful, use some common sense and educate yourself. (That goes for me too! There’s always new information to learn!)

Cell phones emit radiation, whether you believe it or not, so don’t keep the phone in your bra, pants or pockets too long. Leave it on the table or buy a cell phone holder. Cell phones alienate people; try meeting up with friends without a phone, or once you’re with friends/family….don’t check your cell phone. Cell phones are extremely dangerous when driving; try informing people where you’re going beforehand and power down your phone when in the car. If you’re going away on vacation….only turn your cell phone on at night to check your messages or use it only for emergencies. Don’t be a sheep and join the mac cult; if you don’t have the money you can get a pre-paid phone, get a phone with texting only or just use a free video chat service to keep in touch.

As always, for more information do some google searches. Thanks for reading! And please….take care of yourself and your health! You only get one go round on this earth…that we know of.

Art: Farewell Tacheles

Tacheles. One of the most amazing places I’ve ever been in my life. And a place that I may never see again. Close your eyes for me….well, you can’t. This is a blog. Ok, close your eyes after you read this. Imagine an art gallery as large as a building. In each room, a different artist; living and creating. Graffiti covering the walls. A faint smell of urine and stale beer as if there’d been thousands of parties on top of parties. You walk up the stairs and go into a video exhibition. Around the next corner is a small, underground bar filled with artists and locals. You have a drink and then go outside into a dusty backyard, littered with busted trailers and metal sculptures. You’re not sure if it’s a war zone or the greatest place on earth. Around every corner is something new. Something so unique you haven’t even thought it could exist. Grunge. Graffiti. Poverty. Community. This is art. This is what art is supposed to be. For some reason you feel freer than you’ve ever felt before. There’s something special about this place.

Tacheles is the last remaining part of a department store complex built at the beginning of the 20th century. It was heavily damaged by aerial bombs in World War II and the East Berlin authority had much of it torn down in the 1980s.’ -The end of an Era

In short, Tacheles was a squat. But a squat that turned into a haven for artists from around the world. A giant abandoned building that Berliners made into an artists utopia, which then turned into a must see tourist destination by foreigners and locals alike.

I spent some time in Berlin and was lucky enough to enjoy a few days at Tacheles. I wish that we could go back in time so that we all could see this gem. But unfortunately, all things must end. To use a Johnny Depp quote from Pirates of the Carribean, ‘(The) World’s still the same. There’s just less in it.’

There is talk that the city of Berlin will step in and declare this a historical site, at the urging of Tacheles supporters…..but there’s big money involved and politics. For the worlds sake, I hope that Tacheles survives. I understand the situation from both sides; artists want their home and big business wants to make money and gentrify the city. But come on, money can be made anywhere. My vote is with Tacheles. It is a dirty, cold mess……but it’s one of the most beautiful pieces of art I’ve seen.

You can do a quick google search or youtube search to learn more about Tacheles. I suggest that you take a little time out of your day and watch a video or read some articles. It’s beautiful.