May 29, 2004

"The Day After Tomorrow”- -A Film Review

A Triumph of Aberrant Weather Over Genuineness
By Fred H. Arm
Giant tornados slash across Los Angeles, snow falls in New Delhi, hailstones as big as coconuts deluge Tokyo, and polar ice shelves crack off and float away. What is this all about? Easy--global warming has accelerated to such an extent that massive aberrant weather patterns are appearing all across the globe. World leaders are alarmed, yet the US vice-president Becker (Kenneth Welch remarkably resembling Dick Cheney) scoffs at climatologist Jack Hall’s (Dennis Quaid) theory that global warming will produce another ice age of disastrous proportions.

When the situation worsens and the matter comes before US president Blake (Perry King), who incidentally is a dead ringer for Al Gore, all the Pres. can say is “what do you think we should do?” to his VP. This sort of corny dialogue is typical for film, nevertheless with such awesome and fantastic special effects, who really pays that much attention?

Much of the film centers on Jack Hall’s brilliant and handsome son Sam (Jake Glyllenhaal) and his two friends who have gone to New York City for an educational decathlon. After a massive hurricane unleashes a gigantic wave sweeping across New York Harbor, nearly submerging the Statue of Liberty; it rages through the streets of Manhattan, destroying everything in its path and drowning or crushing tens of thousands of panicked New Yorkers in a matter of minutes. Sam and his friends are now trapped in the flooded New York library on Fifth Avenue with hundreds of other survivors. After an almost underwater phone call to his Dad, Sam is promised by Jack that he will come to New York to rescue him.

After the hurricane has subsided, a blizzard with sub, sub-freezing temperatures covers the city in thirty feet of snow and kills anyone caught outside without the proper clothing protection. Through all these whiteout condition, Jack Hall and his buddies stomp through the blizzard to rescue his son trapped in the library. What he plans on doing once he makes it through the fiendish weather is too absurd to speculate. Naturally, in the meantime, his pretty son brilliantly uses his ingenuity and courage to fight the elements and other mishaps to save his colleagues. The plot is clearly an expensive adventure in cornball and predictable lines that one needs to forgive as we are jolted with one splendid and horrendous catastrophe after the other. The picture is spellbinding, yet could have been vastly improved by some serious editing of the more clichéd and unnecessary scenes.
Roland Emmerich, the director of this $125 million movie, has wreaked havoc on New York twice before, once with the help of aliens in "Independence Day" (1996) and two years later with a big lizard in "Godzilla." Yet, those movies were made before the 9/11 attacks forced movie producers to rethink plots involving deadly mayhem. Warner Brothers delayed the release of "Collateral Damage," with Arnold Schwarzenegger as a Los Angeles firefighter tracking down Colombian terrorists to appease the wounded nation shocked by the mayhem in New York.

This film had an excellent opportunity to reveal and demonstrate the cause and effects of global warming; however, Emmerich instead chose to exploit the extraordinary effects by making the film an implausible scientific fluke. The real effect of global warming is a very slow process, not virtually overnight as depicted here. Nevertheless, the film is an incredible experience that I would highly recommend to anyone.

Posted by fredarm at 09:07 PM | Comments (0)

May 22, 2004

The ‘Stroll’ – Another Success For Point Richmond

Crowds Devour Their Way Through The Village
By Fred H. Arm
Last Thursday marked the day for the Point Richmond Stroll where the businesses of the Point opened up their establishments for all to savor and taste their yummies. Thousands of residents and neighbors wandered through the streets of the town center to sample the foods, wines, and wares of local merchants. Musicians and minstrels entertained the revelers as they ‘strolled’ through the historic village while sampling exotic delights from the various restaurants and tasting the rare and not-so-rare wines offered by other merchants.

With handfuls of food and other goodies gleaned from tables outside their stores, the partygoers danced merrily to the various tunes offered by bands stationed at strategic points along the ‘Avenue’. The children were entertained by a balloon lady in the park and they seemed particularly delighted when the local Fireman offered them Junior Fireman badges and plastic fire-hats from their shiny fire trucks.
Vintage cars lined the streets as an added treat helping us to further step back in time to the “good old bad days”. Diversity was the maxim of the day. From Chiropractic freebies at Dr. Amy Jackson’s Network Care to salsa dips at Rosa Maria’s, the crowd gorged themselves and indulged in their dreams. You could get free toothbrushes from the local Dentist, Dr. Pearce, or Band-Aids from the Merchant’s Bank. The Santa Fe Market offered Australian natural lamb as well as other treats, while the market across the street churned out hundreds of pita pockets of salad and falafel.
The Alturas Café offered Gyros slices and the West Contra Costa Times gave away some really nice pens. Overall, it was a grand treat time for the entire family. Lines quickly formed in front of the markets and restaurants as the owners doled out delicious mini-meals of every description. David Moore offered us a John Kerry Booth, replete with specially baked goodies, political rhetoric and party favors to help us get rid of that nasty Bush fellow that is destroying our country.
It was a time when you could meet all your old friends and perhaps make some new ones along the way. It was a time for fun, eating, drinking and frolic with few exceptions. A splendid way to meet the merchants and to share the fun with the residents and visitors. By now, it has become an established annual event that surely will remain high on our list of favorites and traditions.

Posted by fredarm at 06:01 PM | Comments (1)

May 02, 2004

Freedom of Speech

An Unexercised Privilege
By Fred H. Arm
The First Amendment of the Constitution guarantees all Americans the freedom to speak, whether to criticize the government, promote good health, support novel ideas or whatever the individual feels he or she needs to express. Unfortunately, it is a right too few take advantage of and/or are too fearful or lazy to speak our minds.

We have oft been criticized as a nation of sheep, playing follow the leader no matter how distasteful the plans of the leaders. Sure there are always a bunch of complainers in letters to the editor, at City Council Meetings, or at stockholder’s meetings. They are very rare birds. Most people just want to go along with the program, whether it costs them dollars, inconvenience, or the loss of certain rights or privileges.

Take the City of Richmond for example. Recently, during the so-called financial crisis, the citizens were invited to a series of community meetings where they could provide their voice and input to remedies the City could undertake. Unfortunately, only a handful of the concerned populous appeared. Does this mean that the citizens do not really want a voice in what happens to them? Are they afraid to tell their leaders what to do with their money? Or are they simply “sheeple” who will follow along with every hair-brained plan the City comes up with to stay afloat? Perhaps it is all of these reasons.

What would you say if someone from the City came to your home and let us say took all your garden furniture? It is worth maybe $200.00 on the used marketplace, if that. I am sure that 99% of you would be extremely upset and immediately call the Police demanding that your property be returned. Yet when the City, State of Us Government, without any permission from you, assesses you hundreds, if not thousands of dollars in extra assessments, taxes, or fees, there is little said in opposition, except for those same few concerned people who always seem to go up against the government.

It always amazed me how much less percentage of our incomes we paid for governmental services in the last two centuries. As the percentages crept up higher and higher, we blithely went along with the programs, the bureaucracy growing ever larger and larger and more inefficient. Alas, the bureaucracy is so large today that more than twenty percent of all people work for the government in one way or the other.

So wake up “sheeple”! It is all about your money. You spend thousands of dollars every year for the local government to provide the community with services that we are not getting. Can’t we just keep the money and hire out the services ourselves? It may come to that if the financial situation keeps getting deeper. Things will only change if there are enough voices out there to be heard. What do you think?

Posted by fredarm at 01:33 PM | Comments (0)