GRAB BAG

          Welcome to Pin-The-Tale on You.  Every mature person you will ever pass on the street has more-than-probably done things which could qualify them to be labeled 'bad' or 'good'.  It just depends on who tells your story; and, of course, how the game show audience reacts to it.  Our grab bag spinner will stop when your tale is finished.  Will it land on B, for bad?  G for Good?  Maybe you're a combination of equal parts bad and good; if so, the spinner could stop on A for Average.  And—of course—the audience may choose to reject you from the game (spinner on R); this normally only happens when someone competes who's mentally incapable of understanding the difference between good and bad.         
          I recall grab bags from childhood fairs.  A game of chance.  After money was paid (I recall it being ten cents) I reached into a large basket and removed (grabbed) a wrapped unknown paper-wrapped item (bag).  It was usually something worthless; and, by that, I don't mean it had zero value, just that the items were worth less than a dime.  Worth less.

          When we were children my mother told us this nursery rhyme (which, today, Squire attributes to the poet Longfellow):  There was a little girl, who had a little curl, right in the middle of her forehead; when she was good, she was very very good, but when she was bad she was horrid. 

          For too-many-to-count I was (and am still) plagued by bad people.  I've had my fill.

          For seventeen of my twenty military years I worked in law enforcement, where (obviously) it was my job to prevent people from doing bad things, catch those who had already done bad things, and (once I became a supervisor) train my subordinates to do the preventing/catching while (most important) insure there were no subordinates who were bad.

          Lately, I've been (unsuccessfully) trying to help the two spawn of my fiancée grow up.  They, too, are worth less than the time and money I have invested.  Although one is nearly a legal adult (17 biological years old; mentally 14; emotionally 12) and the other is legally an adult (23 biological years old; mentally 15; emotionally ?...he has none) neither has the capacity, wherewithal, ability, or desire to be good.  Actually, the opposite seems to be true.

          Over the last eight months the 17 year old has spent 4 months in jail, (theft, drugs, various probation violations) the other 4 months he repeatedly ran away and lived on friends couches and the street.  There are no rules he is willing to obey.  He says jail means nothing.  It's just "hitting the pause button with free food and TV".  We've rarely seen him in 2011 except in various different courtrooms.

          My years as a cop tells me he is going to continue to commit more serious felonies and will spend the majority of his life in prison.

          The 23 year old has never had a drivers license, never held a job long enough to put on a résumé, and has also spent a few months in jail (drugs, resisting arrest).  His increasingly erratic behavior could be disorganized schizophrenia.  He refuses to discuss or ever admit he acts abnormally.  In his mind his actions (hording, inability to focus, substance abuse, lack of hygiene, obsessive-compulsive actions, and an inability to handle any property without damaging it) are normal.  He claims he doesn't need anything but to eat my food, waste my hot water, live in my guest room, and use my electricity.  We evicted him this week (and—don't get the wrong idea—he only visited for three weeks...which turned out to be 19 days too long). 

          My years as a member of civilized society tells me he is going to be a petty criminal who spends his life in dozens of different homeless shelters and on the street begging for spare change.

          The studio audience has voted.

          The spinner for the 17 year old lands on B...and it's leaning towards HORRID.

          The spinner for the 23 year old stopped on R.

One For My Love (14myLV)

The Tree of Life - Review (☆☆☆☆)

          This is not a film for the masses.  It doesn't matter that Pitt and Penn are in it.  It also doesn't matter that almost every critic loves it (including unpaid ones like me).  It matters slightly that it was written and directed by Terrence Malick, because he directed The Thin Red Line and The New World; if you remember those films, and liked them, there's a slight chance you'll like this one too.  And, it doesn't matter that Malick won the Palme D'Or for it either.

          The reason it doesn't matter that Pitt and Penn are in it is because dialogue is slim to nonexistent and they share a very crowded stage with trees, supernovas, rivers, dinosaurs, flames, volcanoes, oceans, births, deaths and dozens of other fractured-kaleidoscope images compiled with whispered suggestions for the viewer to interpret as they will.

          Were we seeing the narrator's today-thoughts?  His or her memories?  Dreams?  Could these images (set to pipe organ religious and classical music) be interpreted as answers to the various narrator's muttered prayers?  Was this just a 50's era retelling of the Oedipus myth?  If you like/need your films to provide closure and answers...this one intentionally does the opposite.  It provides nothing but fodder for thought and discussion.  I suspect very few people will take away the same message.  (Leaving the theater, I overheard a woman ask, "Who was Sean Penn supposed to be?")

          I question if it would ever be necessary to include the words 'spoiler alert' when talking about this film.  I don't think so.  Just like it's impossible to spoil an abstract expressionist's painting by explaining what you think someone else should look for in it, The Tree of Life is an existential expressionist film and telling about the images shown and scenes depicted is no way similar to saying "Keven Spacey is Keyser Söze" because...in more ways than one...there is no plot.  There are events that unfold.  Personalities are revealed.  Characters interact.  But everything important to understanding the film goes on in the viewer's mind.  The various beliefs and multitude of experiences you bring to the theater—impacts what the film means.  To you.

          Riddles and panoramic images of the massively huge and the insanely tiny (some of the CGI = low Discovery-Channel quality) are interspersed with day-in-the-life scenes from middle America, half a century ago.  The target audience for this film are those who can relate, personally, with white, middle-class, small town life before the era of The Beatles/Vietnam/Woodstock et. al. (viewers who are not Caucasian, or never lived in a small town, or were not middle class, or are not—currently—older than 40...will probably dislike/not understand this film).

          I've read a few reviews of this film; there are some common threads.

          Many critics focus on the father's (Pitt's) stern attitude and behavior.  Some use the term abusive; others soften their label and write: borderline abusive.  No matter.  What's important is they're all unable to keep their personal beliefs out of their reviews.  It is that kind of film.  It forces you to focus on and evaluate your personal beliefs.  (If I were to allow personal beliefs to enter mine, I'd write: the little deviant, back-talking, miscreants deserved more punishment than they got and their mindless moronic mother needed something to force her head out of the clouds.)

          Also, the vast majority of those who dislike/don't understand this film use the word pretentious in their reviews (seems to be the go-to word of the proudly and willfully ignorant).  If you're not a fan of art-house films as well as recent Palm D'Or winners (e.g. The White Ribbon, 2009; 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days, 2007; Dancer in the Dark, 2000) don't let slick marketing (Pitt and Penn!) convince you to see this one.  In the future, ask someone you trust to be your film umpire.  If you do see a film you don't understand, don't be petulant...just admit it was beyond your grasp.     

          I haven't seen many abstract fiction films (Ingmar Bergman's come to mind; I don't understand them at all) but I give this one four stars because it's unique and, even though I can't say I understood all of it, I liked/like thinking about what it caused me to contemplate.

          Those avid filmophiles who see hundreds of films a year will be entertained by its originality.  Every year there are so many films which are almost immediately forgettable; this film is anything but.

More on my film criticism:

Why?

          I rarely look at my blog's statistics.  My reason for writing these pages is more about the act of creating than who my audience might be.  I occasionally enjoy looking back at my thoughts from yestermonth; and in a decade or three I'll have a massive record of who I was.  (Hey...stranger things have happened!  Just because my male ancestors on both sides all died before reaching social-security-age...doesn't mean the grim reaper has already penciled-in my reservation. *he says, mentally knocking on wood*)  If I do survive until then, I intend to re-read and peruse this s n a p p e r h e a d web blog in order to combat or stimulate my senility.

          Today, I learned from my blog's statistics that the post I wrote on 20 November 2009, Life-Mission: Possible, has been read (or at least visited) 512 unique times.  I crafted that hopefully-funny, quasi-autobiographical post to show how, from childhood to retirement, I selfishly and constantly consumed things, furnishings, appliances, pets, and women.  In the article, I reflected on films and TV shows (like Mission Impossible) as my life's mileage markers.

          I can understand why some of my other posts have been (and will continue to be) so-often visited; they contain adult oriented, often searched, keywords.

          When a page contains more than a couple anatomically explicit words, which your average cock in hand mouth-breather thinks are somehow connotative of sex, it might blow your mind the bucket load of ass-hats who flock to that page.  You get the idea...I don't need to include words like cum, cunt, or fuck to pull in page views...hell...this post (now that it contains all these naughty bits) may surpass 512 visits in less than a month.  The icing on the cake (albeit the word fetish would help it become a shoe in) to guarantee that it becomes the post-with-the-most is a lurid image (or threesome).  Not even a good or explicit pornographic picture, just a light to attract the porn moth's attention.  Maybe just a black and white snapshot which looks like something it isn't.

I THINK YOU KNOW WHY

Disc Golf Stability Chart, overstable/understable

          While perusing SQUIRE for disc-golf information, I failed to find a succinctly written explanation which might assist novice discgolfers in disc selection; so, here are a few simple suggestions:

          You can play disc golf with only one disc.  Start with a very stable multi-purpose one (like a Vibram Ascent).  I recommend bright colors; why take a chance on losing it?

          Three discs are sufficient to attain good scores: a long-range driver that turns slightly at the end of its flight; a mid-range disc that turns slightly in the opposite direction of your driver; and a putter.

          Putters are soft and designed to absorb forward momentum and bend/drop on impact (with the target chains, hopefully).  Drivers and mid-range discs are hard and bounce/ricochet upon impact.

          Disc weights only become important once you refine your throw.  Heavy discs (more than 170 grams) fly longer and are less affected by cross-winds; light discs (less than 150 grams) are better for children.  Begin with medium driving and mid-range discs (150 to 170 grams).  The weight of your putting-disc is unimportant.

          Depending upon which hand you use and whether you throw sidearm or backhand, (some throw both) either a clockwise or counterclockwise spin is imparted on the disc.  Almost all discs 'fade slightly' or 'turn greatly' one way or the other, as they slow down at the end of their flight.  This chart should help you understand disc stability:

 
          Those discs which turn or fade in the same direction as their spin are referred to as under-stable.  The amount they fade is indicated in negative numbers:  -0.5 = slightly under-stable, -4.0 = very under-stable.  Discs which turn or fade in the opposite direction from their spin are referred to as over-stable.  The amount they fade is indicated in positive numbers: +0.5 = slightly over-stable, +4.0 = very over-stable.   (I use this key to remember these terms:  O = Opposite, Over-stable, pOsitive numbers).

          The driver and mid-range discs of beginners should be between .5 and 1.5 (If your first driver is over-stable your first mid-range disc should be under-stable and vice versa.)

          LOCAL PDX DISC GOLF COURSE:  If you're a discgolfer in the Portland area, the best place to play is Horning's Hideout.  They have three 18 hole courses.  All 54 holes have professional tee boxes, signage, and targets.  Their Meadow Ridge Course is ranked in the top ten nationally (and it'll kick your ass and send it home crying to momma if you're a bogey discgolfer...like me).  Their Canyon Course is my favorite and their Highland Course is fun and challenging.  The $3.00 day-fee and the 30-45 minute drive cuts down on lark-in-the-park-nutjobs.  Interested in a game?—veachglines@gmail.com—and I'll meet you there (as long as it isn't raining).

Disc Golf Station - Review (☆☆☆☆)

          Another first.

          Last month, the fantastic folks at Disc Golf Station offered me a free disc in exchange for my review.  I explained to them that I was in the market for an under-stable heavy disc and they selected/sent me a DISCRAFT ESP Meteor mid-range (pictured).  It is heavy (175 grams) has a great feel on release, and is minutely under-stable.

          A brief explanation (for those elderly readers thinking 'backyard Frisbee').  A discgolf disc is referred to as stable when it remains on a straight path no matter how it is spun-thrown (which would be indicated by the number 0.0 in its description).  Depending upon which hand you throw with and how you throw, you impart a clockwise or a counterclockwise spin on the disc; almost all discs 'fade slightly' or 'turn greatly' one way or the other, as their spin slows at the end of their flight.

          Those discs which turn or fade in the same direction as their spin are referred to as under-stable.  The amount they fade is indicated in negative numbers:  -0.5 = slightly under-stable, -4.0 = very under-stable.

          Discs which turn or fade in the opposite direction from their spin are referred to as over-stable.  The amount they fade is indicated in positive numbers: +0.5 = slightly over-stable, +4.0 = very over-stable. (a key I use to remember these terms:  O = Opposite, Over-stable, pOsitive numbers).

          PROS:  Discgolfstation.com has a continually-evolving and wonderful selection of discs.  They are aware of the importance of clearly identifying the available weight, stability, and color of each disc they have on-hand.  Color is important.  I refuse to throw green or blue discs...the colors of professionals and fools (for those who know exactly where their discs will land and those who don't mind losing $15.00 in short foliage).  I'm neither.  I love that they include free shipping for almost everything.  Their discs are comparable (and in a majority of cases cheaper) than I've found in several brick-and-mortar stores.  For these reasons, I'll continue to shop for future discs at Disc Golf Station.

          CONS:  Some of the descriptions on discgolfstation.com are confusing and many don't take into consideration that wear and use will change a disc's flight performance.  Strangely, a few of the disc's write-ups explain how it'll fly when thrown in one manner ("for right hand, backhand throws" is found in many places).  Any disc-synopsis containing the words 'right', 'left', as well as 'hyzer' or 'anhyzer' (which always need added explanation) is confusing and misleading.  Intentionally snubbing every left-handed discgolfer and all those right handed discgolfers who don't throw backhanded seems contrary to good business.  

          I've been playing disc golf for years and I'm familiar with all the foolish and incomprehensible terms, so I don't pay attention to confusing explanations for what +1.5 or -0.5 means when describing over- or under-stability.  I suspect, however, that's not the case with everyone.  For the novice shopper, Disc Golf Station could benefit from a clearer and more-succinct emphasis on the browsing and pre-ordering phase.

          Their entire Disc Golf Info page should be re-tooled with a more mature and professional audience in mind.  Currently, it begins with: Disc Golf, commonly known as frisbee golf, is the most amazing sport ever invented!  Easy to learn and FUN to play..."  Gadzooks Batman, it hasn't been referred to as 'frisbee golf' for decades.  The flagrant use of exclamation points and CAPS indicates someone thought it'd be neato-keeno to have their ten year old write copy.

          None the less, thank you Disc Golf Station, your Discraft Meteor ESP is a fantastic disc.  If you are a knowledgeable discgolfer and are already aware what disc you are looking for, I recommend Disc Golf Station.

Glove Shoes (Glooes)

      I've always been a little out-there in je-ne-sais-quoi-land when it comes to what I wear on my feet.  I think it's probably because, in the military, I had very little footwear options.

          For about five years in the mid-1980s I wore grey puffy moon-boots.  In the 1990s I had a pair of deckshoes, made by Timberland, with a foot-hugging gripping padded insert (which they discontinued).  It seems when I find something I absolutely love it's a sure-bet guarantee there're very few other people on the planet who think the same way.  In the early 2000s I found a pair of leather clogs with a squshy leather insole made by a company in Israel that fit perfectly...so I bought three pairs; one a little larger for when I might need to wear socks.

          Recently, I purchased my first pair of Vibram FiveFingers leather toe-shoes.  It's like walking barefoot only with traction and protection.  Hiking, disc golfing, no matter where...they are more comfortable than any other summer shoe I've ever worn.  I feel as if I'm wearing a thin glove on my feet.  I love them.

          Which means they are just too weird and will only be available on ebay soon.  So.  I'll have to get a few pair in different colors and one a size bigger for socks.  Yea...these socks.