Saturday, April 28, 2012

Oh Please! Oh Please! Oh Please!

They're hyping the Chinese film market, saying it's going to be bigger than the US market.
This year China will surpass Japan as the world’s second-largest movie market, after America. Chinese box-office takings totalled 13 billion yuan ($2.06 billion) in 2011, an increase of 30% from 2010, which in turn had been more than 60% higher than in 2009. The number of movie screens has doubled in five years to more than 10,000 (and is projected to reach 15,000 in speedy fashion), and the new screens are mostly digital and 3D-capable. Meanwhile America’s market is stagnating. Takings in North America (America and Canada combined) declined by 4% in 2011, to $10.2 billion. Mr Cameron suggests that by the time “Avatar 3” is released later this decade, China may well rival America as the top movie market. That may be a stretch, but then just wait till “Avatar 4”; Mr Cameron calls it a possibility.
From a purely self-interested perspective, maybe not the best scenario job-wise, but then again my longterm plans include a career change. But from a movie aficionado perspective, I think this could be a good thing. Asian tastes can be just as absurd as the stuff Hollywood is pumping out, but they also have a mature dramatic side that's interesting as well. I'd like to see how that blends, you know, artistically.


This ad has a lot of people upset.  Those people are dicks.
Sad to say, but George W. Bush really lowered the standard in this country.  It's not like he can brag about being "the decider" and "commander in chief" but Obama can't, right?   I mean, that's what we let presidents do now, right?

Cabela's - Sucking on the Government Teat

Cabela's is finally coming to the Front Range, and I don't think I'll do much shopping there.  Bottom line is this:

They're a company with $2.7 billion (yes, with a B) in revenue who won't open a store unless they're given millions of dollars in incentives by cities.  And hey, I get it....cities are desperate for jobs and tax revenue.  Cabela's is desperate to put money in the bank.

This is the result:
In 2004, Cabela's announced plans to build a very large store in Wheat Ridge....

...In preparation of the construction, approximately $25 million in infrastructure work was done. A flyover was constructed to carry the anticipated traffic to the store.

The Colorado Department of Transportation built the flyover at a cost of $20 million in federal and local funds. The Longs Peak Metro District constructed an I-70 underpass at a cost of $5 million...

....By 2009, Goff says Cabela's had dropped their plans to build on the Wheat Ridge site. Cabela's in Wheat Ridge, even after the city, state, and federal governments invested $25 million in the project.

But there will a Cabela's in Lone Tree and one in Thornton.  Yep....thanks to incentives.

To secure the Cabela's stores in their communities, Lone Tree and Thornton committed to provide incentives. A spokesperson for the City of Thornton says it gifted 63 acres of land to the developer, THF. Thornton will also provide $15 million in infrastructure improvements including traffic and sewer improvements.

A spokesperson for the City of Lone Tree says it is providing $7.2 million incentives in infrastructure improvements. Those incentives will not be paid to Cabela's until the store is actually built.
Seriously...what the fuck?

Is it too much to ask a company with billions in revenue to fund their own expansion?

Is it too much to ask our city and state governments (and the feds too) to use public resources for public purposes?

Seriously, Thornton gave Cabela's 63 acres as a gift?  I just don't get that.  Here's a city that would be reluctant to buy a homeless man a meal and they're giving away a big chunk of land to a multi-billion dollar corporation?

No wonder the economy is shit.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Estes Park Pics

The hotel was right on the lake.
The Lodge
A hawk kept circling.  I guess during the silent walk I didn't go to, other people saw an eagle.

Some bighorn sheep just walking along the road, being stalked by the paparazzi.

Sunday morning the lake was glass.

We took a side trip up to the old Estes Park Power Plant.

I took this pic because this piece was forged on my birthday in 1909.

A trip into Rocky Mountain National Park on the bike gave us this view.

An Atheist At a Church Retreat

When they first started talking about calling forth the ancestors, I didn’t realize that five minutes later I would be saying “I love you” to a man I just met.  But there I was, staring into this man’s eyes, trying to be a spiritual vessel for his long-dead father, trying not to crack a smile, saying to this stranger, “Son, I’m proud of the man you’ve become.”  I can’t remember what else I said, but it was all bullshit, made up on the spot, winging it.  It was all just filler to get to the “I love you” and the hug.

I was at the annual men’s retreat hosted by Mile Hi Church, one of the more prominent New Thought churches in the state.  Aside from serving as the futuristic McDonald’s in the Woody Allen movie Sleeper, it also serves as a place of worship for practitioners of Religious Science, as explained by Ernest Holmes in his book The Science of Mind.  I’m not a follower or an adherent or a practitioner, but my brother invited me and, aside from the churchy stuff, it seemed like all pluses.  Take some time off, get up into the mountains, hang out with my bro.

So there we were, a roomful of men hugging each other, calling forth the ancestors.  Later there would be a drum circle and opportunities for meditation.  On the last day, just after breakfast and before the final service, we would fall silent like monks.  And of course, music.  A singer-songwriter was brought in just for the occasion, and you know, he was pretty good.

After the opening ceremonies and such, we were split off into clans, picking them randomly out of a basket.  My pick:  The Squirrel Clan.  I saw that and my first thought was WTF?  Squirrels?  Man...I hate squirrels.  Turns out the Squirrel Clan was a joke played on my Clan Leader, an old timer and an all-around jovial guy.  Big tall white guy in his sixties calling people “Dawg.”

At one point we were broken off into our clans doing this “process” thing, and I just zoned out.  I couldn’t focus on the mumbo jumbo, so I started writing story notes instead, sketches of people in the room, that sort of thing.  One guy stood out, we’ll call him Dick Franklin.  Tall guy, fat with a huge belly, leg in a cast, walking with a cane.  Bald but with gray hair down to his shoulders, big mottled hands, age spots on his forehead.  His face looked like Dick Cheney, but the haircut and the bearing looked like Benjamin Franklin.  Dick Franklin.

When we had to discuss our journaling in our clans, I just faked it.  I took the “talking stick” early and only held it for a little while.  What was I going to do?  Tell them about Dick Franklin?  I kept it vague and kept it short.

But still, there were some interesting people.  There was a former Dead Head who claimed his career was “this philosophy,” as in Religious Science.  Okay.  There was a guy who lives up in the mountains and follows the “Red Road,” Native American religion.  He offered to host a sweat lodge and let me borrow a drum for the drum circle, so you know…he’s alright in my book.

And then there was the former sportscaster for a local TV station, a real jovial guy who seemed to like me and my brother quite a bit.  Once we told him we were from Thornton, every time he saw us, it was, “Hey, it’s the Thornton boys.”  He was good friends with my Clan Leader, and we all had quite a few laughs at the bar and during mealtimes.

Yes, there was a drum circle.  Yes, there was a tribal circle dance.  There was also an embarrassing moment when I had to get up and sing this song, complete with hand motions, while looking in the eyes of another man.  “You are the face of God.  I hold you in my heart.  You are a part of me.  You are the face of God.”  Over and over, dude after dude. 

Not exactly my first choice of things to do on a Sunday morning, but I did it.  I probably serenaded fifteen guys, never quite making it down to Dick Franklin.

All told, I had a good time.  It wasn’t something I’d normally do, or even seek out to do, but I think having an open mind about it made the whole thing go smoother.  Not sure I could have done that at a retreat at any other church to be honest.