July, 2012 Archives

Let’s talk about movies again, shall we?

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July 28th, 2012

I wrote a piece about movies last week. We pulled it due to a number of things, not the least of which was that monster over in Aurora. Now, it’s time to start talking about movies again.I love going to the movies—lots of us do in the summer.No one should be allowed to change that. […]

I wrote a piece about movies last week. We pulled it due to a number of things, not the least of which was that monster over in Aurora. Now, it’s time to start talking about movies again.
I love going to the movies—lots of us do in the summer.
No one should be allowed to change that.

Let’s drive over to the multiplex of my mind and see what’s showing.
That, to me, is one of life’s greatest joys; going out to the movies. It seems as though every one of them has something relevant to my own struggle to be human. When the show stinks, believe me, I can relate. When I can’t exactly figure out the plot line—been there, done that. But when something moves me or makes me laugh, there’s a strange sense of connection as I slip out of the theatre and back into this reality.

I think my fondness for movies borders on a bit of a neurosis, perhaps. Digging a bit deeper, I may be addicted to that “oh yeah” feeling in the darkness. Something shifts in my pscyhe and reminds me of who my best self is. It may be a cheesy montage scene where the hero gets his act together, finally, or a realization that the villain has at the end about life meaning more than just jewels or bank notes.

With good movies, I’m always motivated — for the next ten minutes anyway — to do something important. And generally it’s not to call in sick and dupe my unsuspecting teachers and parents.

There are movies I go back to again and again, like Zach Braff’s amazing Garden State or the mind-expanding What The Bleep Do We Know? These films have become such friends to me and my family over the years, that we call on them over and over. At Christmas time, every year, lots of families huddle together to watch It’s a Wonderful Life and sure, that’s a fine tradition. But my family with teen girls, prefers the more modern and certainly edgier-than-1946 Love Actually.

http://www.readthespirit.com/rodney-curtis/wp-content/uploads/sites/14/2013/03/wpid-rcGardenState.pngZach Braff wrote, directed and starred in Garden State.Some films catch me completely off guard and I don’t know how I’m supposed to react. The brilliant Hamlet 2 is one of them. Didn’t Hamlet die in the original? They ask that in the movie. And, that’s why the film includes a time machine, Hillary Clinton and Jesus. With its show stopping tune, Rock Me Sexy Jesus, I didn’t know whether I was supposed to be offended or thrown into fits of laughter. I actually own a promotional t-shirt now with the aforementioned song title emblazoned across it.

I like it when movies do that to me, keep me guessing. Usually. I hated the controversial Tree Of Life.

The original Matrix and Men In Black always thrill me with the thought that this ordinary life may not be all there is. Yet after seeing Midnight in Paris a few times, I’ve resolved to be a better writer and care more about the here and now.

Field of Dreams? Yep. I cry every time.

I don’t mind conflict in movies, but I guess I’m a sucker for happy endings. When my daughters were little, I always fast-forwarded through the part in The Lion King where Mufasa dies (SPOILER ALERT: Mufasa dies). And maybe it was the great music in Disney’s Hercules that I enjoyed so much, or perhaps it was Megara’s voice that I fell in love with, but way back then, that tape was generally my first choice to slip into the VCR (remember those things?).

It looks like the movies I gravitate to most are the ones that incorporate reality or a real struggle. There should be pegs to hang my hat and coat on. But I also want a sense of the magical and greatness bestowed upon a character. To witness the transformation from everyday schlub to enlightened being — no matter how silly the process — is a theme that runs through these movies again and again.

That’s what I’m looking for, to be transformed and transported to a better me. I think that’s what most of us are looking for, deep down. Although that really doesn’t explain chase scenes, talking animals, or Harold and Kumar.

Cue the closing credits.

But Wait, There’s More

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July 25th, 2012

It’s halfway through the week and, so far, nobody’s stormed the barricades demanding my removal as guest blogger over at OurValues. Since I take the absence of negatives as a positive, I’ll continue pointing out wonderful pictures on that site and adding some extra value to our Platinum Subscribers on this page. This morning at […]

http://www.readthespirit.com/rodney-curtis/wp-content/uploads/sites/14/2013/03/wpid-Rick_Loomis_LA_Times_series_on_Beyond_7_Billion.jpgIt’s halfway through the week and, so far, nobody’s stormed the barricades demanding my removal as guest blogger over at OurValues. Since I take the absence of negatives as a positive, I’ll continue pointing out wonderful pictures on that site and adding some extra value to our Platinum Subscribers on this page.

This morning at OurValues, we’re sharing a picture by one of the most impressive photographers on the scene today, Rick Loomis. When I see the type of stories he’s telling — not only with photographs, but now with video — I am encouraged by what the journalism business can still accomplish.

Just this week, Loomis and the Los Angeles Times have rolled out an amazingly comprehensive series on the world’s expanding population. Rick travelled across the globe collecting stories and images along with writer Kenneth R. Weiss. The result is Beyond 7 billion, a five-part saga explaining how earth’s population — stagnant for millennia — is now rocketing skyward. This explosion impacts the poorest countries the most.

Along with Kenneth’s fine writing and Rick’s incredible visual work, there are also tremendous infographics that are actually narrated as you watch the story come to life. Plus, an ever increasing world population counter continually ticks upward on the front page of their site.

The series is a stunning example of important storytelling done right. Taking on this issue is a prime example of advocacy journalism at it’s finest. But if you set all that aside, it’s just darn awesome photography.

Where’s Rodney?

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July 23rd, 2012

The vague, shadowy figures responsible for pulling the puppet strings here at ReadTheSpirit Inc. have asked me to guest blog over at the popular OurValues site. Apparently they ran out of options and brought me in as a last resort. I wrote several blog ideas for them, each of the entries stunk worse than the […]

The vague, shadowy figures responsible for pulling the puppet strings here at ReadTheSpirit Inc. have asked me to guest blog over at the popular OurValues site. Apparently they ran out of options and brought me in as a last resort.

I wrote several blog ideas for them, each of the entries stunk worse than the last. Finally, late Friday evening, I had a simple realization; I began life as a photographer, so why don’t I talk about what I know more than most other things?

So this week I’ll be sharing some of my favorite photos (the ones other people took, not me). We start out the series with one of the pictures that got me into the business in the first place. The paparazzi nailed me in an unguarded moment and right then, I knew the power of photography.

It’s an ongoing series, Monday through Friday, and you can check back right here each day.

The bosses asked if I could put some “added value” here, on the Wanderer site and just now, I got the pun — added “Value.” Ohhh, as in OurValues. Mr. slow-on-the-uptake. So as a bonus, available only to you folks with an Executive Subscription to this site, I offer this look at our family back in our easy listening days. Although it might not qualify for Awkward Family Photos, it’s pretty close.

Oh, and don’t be surprised if some of my rejected ideas from that blog end up here in the near future; I’m way into recycling.

http://www.readthespirit.com/rodney-curtis/wp-content/uploads/sites/14/2013/03/wpid-rccurtisfamily.jpgMy family looked simply stunning back in the 70s. We were the height of casual fashion!

Back To The Future?

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July 15th, 2012

I’m not one to bash Michigan companies. Lord knows our business climate isn’t what we’d call robust these days. But just now, I was horrified and shocked out of my summer haze with an ad from ArtVan Furniture for Back-To-School savings. Somebody call the FTC. While people are still blowing up the nighttime sky with […]

http://www.readthespirit.com/rodney-curtis/wp-content/uploads/sites/14/2013/03/wpid-rcgreentomatoes.jpg

I’m not one to bash Michigan companies. Lord knows our business climate isn’t what we’d call robust these days. But just now, I was horrified and shocked out of my summer haze with an ad from ArtVan Furniture for Back-To-School savings. Somebody call the FTC.

While people are still blowing up the nighttime sky with until-this-year illegal fireworks, I think there should be a moratorium on businesses trying to make money off scaring us consumers about school.

The earliest we should be thinking about fall is when the Lions start Training Camp. That’s about two weeks from today and even then — when it’s still July — Back-To-School will be more than a month away. Is it just me, or should there be some sort of law against bringing up the fall, while the temperatures are soaring around 100 degrees?

Even my tomatoes are still small and green and vine-bound. We haven’t even celebrated Christmas in July yet. The Summer Olympics torch is still somewhere out on the Channel Islands.

It reminds me of that old TV show, Homefront. It was about our country just after WW II. The characters were walking through a department store, sometime around December 15th, and they said, “Can you believe this? They already have their Christmas decorations up!”

I wouldn’t be surprised if our local mall already has their Easter decorations up. Snow shovels are due in August.

We need to rally against this atrocity. Can we get a ballot amendment to vote this ad off the airwaves? I’ll bet Republicans and Democrats can agree that summer shouldn’t end until we say it ends. I’m sure the Coppertone people would sign on.

Granted, maybe I’m mad because autumn means my oldest daughter sails off to college four states away and our nest gets emptier.

Nah, couldn’t be.