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Blogs June 2004

June 21, 2004

Movie irritation #237: The big moral awakening scene.

This weekend, I was subjected to Garfield: The Movie. More info I thought the movie was funny at the beginning. It reminded me of when I used to enjoy the strip years ago (before merchandising started showing up everywhere, and I wanted to take the next stuffed Garfield I saw suction cupped to a car window and give it to a Rottweiler as a chew toy). But the movie's creators decided about two-thirds of the way through, "Oh! A movie is not supposed to be funny all of the way through! A movie must have some redeeming value. A movie must have a Message!" So, the story took a rather dreary, improbable turn where our feline hero must learn The Important Moral Lesson.

Quests where characters are forced to grow can be exciting and engrossing. The first Shrek movie was like that, and it was funny as well as thoughtful and tender. More info The difference with Shrek is that it was set up as a quest from the beginning. With Garfield, it was slapped onto some silly talking animal gags. Once again, if you don't set up viewers' expectations at the beginning, you'll wind up disappointing them at the end. More info 

June 13, 2004

Here is the latest about Jennifer Hahn, my fellow club member who the Division G and Founders District International speech contest. (More info) She came in third place at the Region II speech contest. She was up against the district champions from all over the western United States. The winner of this contest goes on to compete at the World Championship of Speaking, so Jennifer competed with some formidable speakers.

As she writes, "I am really very happy for two reasons. One is that I have accomplished so much more that I ever expected when I began this journey. I have learned a lot, grown as a speaker and have met amazing people. The second reason is that I now get my life back! When you compete in these contests your life begins to be consumed by your speech and practicing and improving. It is mentally, physically, and emotionally draining. But now I get to breathe!!! Yeah!!

"My first goal after relaxing a bit will be to speak to others about what I have learned. I have become more and more excited about doing this recently. So stay tuned...

"By the way, I was told by one of my mentors that I shouldn't eat any junk before I speak. I didn't...but when I got home I downed a bowl of Lucky Charms. Yum!"

Here's to a "magically delicious" victory. Congratulations, Jennifer!

June 6, 2004

There was a time when I wished that Ronald Reagan was dead.

It was in the darkest part of my college years in 1982. My mom was paralyzed by a stroke. To take care of my family and stay in college, I was dependent on Social Security and financial aid benefits that the Reagan Administration was cutting. I also feared of being drafted to fight in Central America or getting blown up in a nuclear war he seemed to be provoking with the Soviets. I hated him, as though he personally was adding to the hardship I was facing in my life.

Now that President Reagan is dead, I mourn for him and feel sympathy for his wife Nancy and his family. I didn't agree with many of his policies, but I respect his desire to serve, his courage to stand by his convictions, and his belief in the goodness and possibilities of our country.

I've also come to appreciate his ability to communicate. He didn't merely speak well any competent politician can do that. He was able to personify the values he represented. From his bold declaration, "Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!" to his eloquent expressions of grief after the Challenger explosion, Reagan owned and embodied the words he said. He spoke with a clarity, sincerity, and conviction that assured you that he meant what he said. This same quality also made him the lightning rod for the anger of people like me who disagreed with his policies. Reagan demonstrated the glories and perils of being a leader, and he always faced them with an endearing boldness, grace, and humor.

Regardless of how we felt about President Reagan's policies at the time, we can agree that few very presidents filled the role as he did, and that he will always been remembered as one of the prominent leaders of our time. 

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