michigan state university

Imagine if you actually met Jesus (Christ).

I’m not talking about the “Second Coming” or whatever, I mean what if you got transported back in time 2000 years ago and met Jesus of Nazareth. What would you see?

Studying the history of early Christianity really makes me appreciate how little we know about ancient history. Sure there’s some records here and there, but we’re really riding blind.

Imagine if historians 3000 years from now just have Arnold Schwarzenegger movies, this blog, and the ruins of Las Vegas to go on while studying our era. That would leave them with a pretty odd view. But that’s essentially what we’re going by when evaluating ancient times.

Every famous person from back then, like Julius Caesar or Alexander the Great, was probably half a foot shorter than you imagine and you could have easily kicked their ass. What I am saying is that I can stomp the shit out of a Spartan. 300 was just a movie, a shitty one at that. I am taller, got more muscle, and when I’m when I’m trying to quit nicotine I can take anybody. ANYBODY.

sudden impact yur ass!

We should all be thankful that we still have Clint Eastwood. The man’s been working for close to 70 years. He’s an absolute legend.

The Hollywood GOAT?

Seriously, think about that. He’s an accomplished actor AND director. It’s a career that will never be topped. Ever.

Many have tried, notably Sylvester Stallone, but it’s just not possible. (To be fair to Stallone though, Eastwood was in much more competent hands earlier in his career between Sergio Leone and Don Siegel).

This being said, Eastwood isn’t the most innovative director. In fact, when he does make a great film, it’s as though he accidentally did so. His two universally acclaimed films, Unforgiven and Million Dollar Baby, are mostly great because of their scripts (same with The Outlaw Josey Wales). Gran Torino appears to be a film with a lasting cultural impact, and while I wouldn’t say it had an outstanding script or direction, the movie works because of Eastwood’s personality, not because of anything he did behind the camera. But I’d say that Eastwood is to filmmaking what Steve Kerr is to the NBA…he’s extraordinarily competent.

Of course, when you go through a stretch where you’re making a movie ever 20 minutes, it’s hard to maintain quality.

Sudden Impact is one of the million Eastwood movies that gets lost in the shuffle. With a story from pioneering independent filmmaker and Arkansas legend Chuck B Pierce, this Dirty Harry sequel has our favorite 44 Magnum carrying San Francisco investigator being more dirty than usual. Eastwood’s then-wife Sandra Locke costars as woman exacting revenge against men who raped her 10 years earlier. I’d say that this is the best Dirty Harry sequel. Nay, this sequel is better than Dirty Harry, a film that defined raw 70s cop dramas.

What makes Sudden Impact so memorable is not the plot, I don’t remember if there was one, or character development or any of that bullshit. No, what makes this film great is watching Eastwood stumble from one scene to the next just absolutely beating the shit out of and shooting everyone. EVERYONE. To top it off, he runs around with a farting bulldog. He also kills a guy by just giving him a heart attack for fucks sake. Eastwood is just a straight up asshole, more so than usual for Dirty Harry. It’s probably that greatest Cannon film not produced by Cannon.

The film feels as though Eastwood didn’t want to return to the role and the only way they could convince him is if they allowed him to direct. And it payed off. Some of the best films made from this period were done when no one gave a shit. But Eastwood’s direction gave this entry an added edge, which is probably why Sudden Impact feels so different from the other Dirty Harry films.

While we still have him, I wish Eastwood would do ONE MORE Dirty Harry film. It’s what we need now more than ever: a 90 year old bastard just blasting the fuck out of bad guys with a 44 Magnum.

Do it Clint!

tf is narcissism?

“Narcissistic personality disorder” is HOT right now. I think it’s surpassed “borderline personality disorder” as the cool thing to have.

In all seriousness though, I think there’s been a turn in the psychological community. “Pop psychology” has turned disorders into badges of honor, or an identity, to the point where individuals no longer concern themselves with improvement and instead use their “disorder” as an excuse to continue shitty behavior then expect society to deal with it.

Of course, I’m speaking from personal experience. Obviously I’m an insane person that’s maladapted to society and require the services of doctors and therapists to help me. That has been the case since I was a teenager. When I first started seeking medical attention for my behavioral ailments, psychiatrists and therapists were in a mad dash to “diagnose” me into a neat category. Now, 93 years later, they don’t give a shit about that. It doesn’t matter. They just want to make sure that I don’t jump into traffic whenever I’m out in the public. That’s the important thing.

Anyways, personal anecdote aside, I’m fascinated by narcissism and the nature of mental disorders. I won’t get into that because it’s a lot of armchair philosophizing on my part, but is the prevalence of “narcissism” and “narcissistic personality disorder” a reflection of societal shifts?

I reckon that “narcissism” and “narcissistic personality disorder” are not synonymous, but I do think they share a link with the rise of radical individualism and consumer culture.

I’m not a psychologist. Thank god. But I can say with near certainty that I’ve been blessed with having not one, but two people very close to me have NPD. Crazy people have a tendency to attract other crazy people. Go figure. (I may say more about this at another time)

One was charismatic and the other a complete fucking moron, but they shared this commonality: when most people have an interaction with somebody, say someone they just met, all sorts of assumptions are being made. Most of these assumptions, by both parties, are not expressed and are usually rationalized as being just ASSUMPTIONS. Nothing more. There’s a wall of rationality between perception and reality, and most people are good at distinguishing between the two. A narcissist, at least the ones I’ve met, don’t have that ability.

The narcissist’s perceptions get projected onto the reality at hand, and they’re not able to tell where their emotions end and where objective reality begins. In my instances, both individuals reacted harshly against being labeled a liar. It was obvious that they had difficulty with the truth, but in their mind, they weren’t lying.

What this has to do with society at large, I don’t know. It’s merely conjecture on my part.

No I will not explain further.

david fincher

For whatever reasons, I’ve recently went through a David Fincher binge. And it occurred to me: I’m not a fan of his work.

That being said, The Game and Panic Room are his two best movies. Alien 3 is probably better than you remember. Se7en is alright.

Everything else is overrated. This includes Fight Club.

But The Game surprised me. It reminded me of one of my other favorite films: Roman Polanski’s Frantic. It’s hard to pull off these kinds of movies…watching a character descend into madness while information about what’s actually going on slowly leaks out.

Honestly, The Game doesn’t completely pull it off. Fincher’s visual style and Michael Douglas’s performance carry the film. But to completely enjoy it, one must ignore large plot holes and read more into subtext than what was probably intended (I assume).

I thought that Douglas’ character was suffering from the same madness that his father had and the ending indicated that “the game” was still being played. But I have the suspicion that this open ended interpretation bails out the script. In other words, Fincher’s direction saves the day.

As for everything else on Fincher’s resume, he seems to suffer from the same problem that Ridley Scott has: all style and the substance is overstated.

was Jesus an ascetic?

I don’t know man, I wasn’t there.

I’ll say this though: Jesus at least dabbled in asceticism. Any hard evidence for this? No. And none will ever turn up. BUT the two earliest accounts of Jesus’s life, the Gospel of Mark and the hypothetical “Q source” (which survives in the Gospels of Luke and Matthew) mention Jesus turning to the wilderness after his baptism from John the Baptist.

John the Baptist’s existence can be independently confirmed by Josephus, a first century Jewish historian. This is partly why it is universally agreed upon that the baptism of Jesus by John is a real historical event. The other reason why historians believe this is due to the criterion of embarrassment, which simply means that Jesus’s associations with John the Baptist would have been well known enough that it had to of been accounted for by early Christian writers, despite Jesus’s superiority to John.

It’s difficult to establish any degree of certainty from this period. Was John the Baptist an ascetic? It certainly appears that he had those tendencies from the surviving texts. It’s has even been suggested that he was an Essene, a “semi-ascetic” Jewish sect from the first century. Could Jesus have been a follower of John? We know that they met at least once, and the Gospels (whatever their historical worth) say that Jesus immediately did something ascetic-like after that meeting.

I like questions like these because it helps contextualize this era. I personally think that Jesus did ascetic-like things and might’ve ran with a few ascetic groups. But I don’t think he thought of himself ascetic or even monastic. Like I said, the historical information contained in the Gospels are dubious and hard facts will likely never appear, but I think it’s important to look at the language of the Gospels.

Mark and the “Q” source (or possible sources) seem to address a rural audience, meaning that Jesus likely focused his mission on the poor or “working class”. There are obvious problems with this assumption, the main one being that the entire New Testament is written in Koine Greek while the poor in Galilee and Judea, including Jesus, spoke Aramaic (plus the Gospels are written 40 years after the crucifixion of Jesus). How much of Jesus’s message was changed between his death and the written accounts is impossible to determine. Despite these problems though, I do think that Mark and Q are more than likely correct in Jesus’s focus.

So as I’ve said before, I think that Jesus was a religious-populist figure, and as we often find in populist movements, leaders often take a “postmodern” turn by becoming (as Apostle Paul later found out) “all things to all people”. This is why so many people can have so many different interpretations on what happened.

xXX: Revenge of Xander Berkeley

xXx is a film that came out 10 years too late. Bruce Willis would have fucking CRUSHED the role of Xander Cage.

Think about it: what if it xXx was directed by Renny Harlin or John McTiernan. Now those guys understand what action schlock is all about.

I don’t know why xXx sucks so much. Is it the script? The direction? Is it it’s leading actor?

Vin Diesel is proof that just because you look the part, doesn’t mean that you can play the part. Honestly, he is quietly one of the worst action stars I’ve ever seen. And it’s difficult to pinpoint why that is.

Is it because he’s not traditionally “good looking”? There are plenty of action stars that aren’t considered “good looking.”

Is it because he can’t act? To be a Hollywood leading man, having the ability to “act” is surprisingly low on the must-have list.

Is it because he doesn’t have a sense of humor? I think there’s something to this. I mean, Vin Diesel does have a sense of humor, but the joke is always on someone else and never on the absurdity of his character or the situation he’s in.

Being the butt of a joke is for other characters. Not for him.

Some action stars can get away with this. Steven Seagal for example. But the thing is that Seagal lacks the awareness to understand that he is the joke. Diesel is too smart for that.

So in xXx, Diesel comes across as a fucking asshole that I’m constantly rooting against.

Fuck this movie