Sunday, January 25, 2009

Another Movie Update

So the Oscar's were announced this past week, and since they were we've seen 3 movies in 3 days. Yes, we either crazy or have too much time on our hands (or a little of both I fear). Here's our movie viewing so far:

Benjamin Button - Forrest Gump meets ET. I know the academy loves big life-stories like this one, but I am not sure it is worthy of a best picture nod. It was a good movie, but tooooooo long. It is nearly 3 hours long. I liked it, it wasn't a waste of my time, but Brad Pitt's acting left something to be desired. He felt detached and emotionless. I couldn't figure out if it was his character or his acting. But considering the character, I think it was the acting that was flawed. Anyway, don't let that stop you. It's a movie worthy of seeing, just not worthy of an oscar...

Milk - Excellent movie, I just loved it. Even though I knew how it was going to end, I was engaged and felt as though I was living the movement. Personally, I'm glad that we finally have a mainstream effort at illuminating the plight of the GLBT community. This movie goes a long way to shed the light on the injustice that their community has suffered, and continues to suffer.

Slumdog Millionaire - As much as I liked Milk, this movie is my favorite so far of the Best Picture nominees. The cinematography was spectacular, the storytelling fascinating, the characters compelling. An amazing movie with a no-name cast. You've likely not heard of anyone in this movie, but you'll leave not being able to get their characters out of your mind. Go see this movie!!!

I still need to see The Reader and Frost/Nixon before I can make my prediction on best picture. I have lots of other movies to see before February I hope you all don't mind my recaps as they come!

Tell me what you've thought of these movies?

Monday, January 19, 2009

MLK vis-à-vis MiLK

Two men, worlds apart, gave their lives for a cause so similar, yet by today's standards seen dissimilar. Today, on the holiday commemorating Martin Luther King, Jr., I reflect on another man who also gave his life for his cause, a cause of mirrored reflection to that of the civil rights movement. Both men fought, and made the ultimate sacrifice, so that their people might be freed from hatred borne of ignorance.

Just as MLK fought for the civil rights of African American and all people of color, Harvey Milk fought for the same rights for the unjustly disaffected GLBT community. Both communities suffered the hatred by those who seek to diminish their value in society.

Both causes share the same desire for freedom from prejudice, and entitlement to basic civil rights. The primary difference, at least to society (not to me), is that being born black is not a choice one makes. Unfortunately, too many in our society falsely believe that homosexuality is a choice, a conclusion I could not disagree with more ardent fervor! I firmly believe the origins are biological, and hope someday that modern science will prove this. But, truly, even if it was a choice - why should that matter?

Until that day when GLBT individuals are accepted as an equal member of the fabric of our humanity, I hold little hope that they will attain the equal rights that they deserve. In the same vein, I believe that we will never truly become a post-racial society until there remains not one soul who sees people as any less because of the color of their skin.

However, the fact remains that we (people of all colors) have broken an incredible barrier in the election of Barack Obama. In the past week, I've read several articles that posit the premise that MLK's sacrifice paved the way for Obama's presidency, that without his vigilance and sacrifice, our society would not have been ready to elect a black president.

I don't know if that's true or not, but it does have me wondering what triumph awaits humanity in the fight for GLBT equality? Was Harvey Milk's assassination that codifying event to pave that road? Perhaps now that his story is being told much like MLK's has been told, we can begin to educate and eradicate the ignorance.

So, today I honor Martin Luther King, Jr. for opening so many eyes, and showing the way to create truly meaningful discourse for change. I don't know if Harvey Milk was inspired by MLK, but I hope someday our society honors Harvey Milk as it does MLK!

Sunday, January 18, 2009

On the Precipice We Have Hope.

On the precipice we perch, huddled in hope.

Behind us, prosperity is strewn amid despair.
Fortunes once flaunted, now lamented.
Lives once promising, now lost.
Yet, we have hope...

Our future holds turbulence and challenge.
Uncertainty paints the skies of tomorrow.
Yet, we have hope...

Upon one man's shoulders rests this nation's hope.
A burden so large and impossible.
Yet, we have hope...

Decades ago a great man had a dream.
Today, that dream is alive and this man humbly accepts its challenge.

Yes! We have hope...

Dedicated to Barack Obama in celebration of his inauguration on January 20th, 2009. Let us all celebrate as Barack Obama is sworn into office of this great land.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

More Movie Reviews

If you're in search of Oscar worthy movies, Marley and Me is not one of them. However, it was a cute movie with a meaningful message. If you have younger kids, take them, they'll love it. If you're looking for an escape from heavy, deep, thought provoking movies - this is a good respite. But enough about that one...

I'm here today to rant about Gran Torino. This is a must see, and definitely an Oscar contender. The movie was written by a Minnesotan, and was set in Minnesota until the movie makers changed it to Michigan because Michigan gives a hefty tax break to movie producers! It tells a tale of prejudice and hatred mixed with respect and love. It is the story of colliding cultures that will leave you pondering the state of our world. I knew this was going to be a drama heading into it, so I was quite surprised at how much I laughed. The writing was spectacular. Witty. Hilarious. Thought provoking. Revealing.

I'm still utterly frustrated that we don't have Frost/Nixon, or Milk. I've also heard good things about Slumdog Millionaire, but haven't heard a word about when it will be here. It better be before the Oscars! It's hard to believe we're the third largest city in the state of Minnesota, behind only Minneapolis and St. Paul.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Open Source as a Work/Life Strategy?

Ok, I know I don't blog much about work related issues, but this one has been sitting in my juices fermenting and I think I just need to write a bit about it to gain some clarity for myself, and I know I have some tech-heads out there that read my blog who may have interesting input.

Input. I guess that's at the crux of it. Collaboration. Sharing. Growth. Mission. Open Source.

Open source, for my non-techie friends, is I guess a little like recipe sharing. If I develop a recipe for a fabulous chocolate cake with a secret ingredient of tomato sauce, I could do one of two things. I could share it with you, or keep it "secret" and proprietary only for my kitchen and those upon whom I chose to bestow the pleasure of eating it (or am paid for it). People would enjoy my cake when they had the opportunity, but they'd never understand the amazing truth that tomato sauce makes for an amazingly rich chocolate experience.

If, however, I decided to share that recipe with you, you may fiddle with it in your own kitchen and develop an absolutely dreamy orange flavored butter frosting made with blood oranges. The combination of your creation and mine is better together than they are individually. A new product has emerged and we all benefit from the best, most amazing chocolate cake around.

Open source software took some time for people to understand. We have been so ingrained in our proprietary ways and worrying about who gets credit, that we overlooked the truly awesome power of collaboration. Products built with open source are frequently quicker to market, cheaper, and contain brilliance that one person or entity alone could not conceive.

Parlay this concept into non-software areas of life and work and I think you will see why I've been fermenting. I work at a very conservative, risk-averse, institution that is ultra concerned with it's brand and image, and with good reason; we are one of the top medical centers in the world. So, yes, it's something that we should protect. But there's a lesson here that could be learned from the philosophy that underlies open source technologies. Providing something for free, and thereby taking a little more risk, can be incredibly fruitful. But how to do that while still protecting the brand - or better enhancing the brand - that is the challenge.

Our mission is all about the patient. The needs of the patient come first. If we truly believe that (which I believe we do), then taking a more open approach to our way of working to meet that mission should be inherent. It shouldn't take 10 committees and months and months to establish a new concept or idea. We're protective, yes, but to a fault. We're over-protective.

Now, go one step further. How can you employ this same strategy in life? I guess I need to think deeper on this one - maybe another blog posting will result. I have some pretty set philosophies on life - perhaps it's time to upset the apple cart and challenge myself to look at how I can change my life, and that of others, by exploring this concept. After-all, that's why we're here on this ball of learn, to grow, to share, and to love.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

My favorite time of year - OSCARS!

Yep, it's that time of year when all the Oscar contenders are trying to make their impression. It's crazy that we go through a severe movie drought every fall and then are deluged with a gazillion movies that want to be remembered come Oscar time.

And, I'm all too happy to oblige them. I try and see as many as I can - but never manage to see them all!

So far I've only seen a couple - Seven Pounds and Valkyrie. THIS IS A SPOILER ALERT...if you haven't seen them and don't want me to screw it up for you - come back to this post after you've seen them.

Valkyrie was a pretty good movie, although I think the story itself is more redeeming than the moviemaking of it. It's the true story of German citizens and soldiers who felt compelled to follow their conscience and dared to oppose Hitler. I don't know if it will get nominated for anything. I liked it - but don't think it was Oscar worthy.

Seven Pounds, on the other hand, was a heart wrenching and beautiful movie. I don't know why it's been panned by the critics, unless they're just not that into themes of introspection and selflessness. I was stunned by the heartbreaking turn of events and the beauty of the main character's gifts to others: The gift of life. He was tortured by his past. His way to redeem himself was to give of himself. Completely. I was balling my eyes out at the selflessness and beauty of his choice, however misguided and tragic it was. I thought it was a beautiful movie in an "Atonement" kind of way and hope it gets a nod from the academy.

That's it for my movie reviews so far...would love to hear your thoughts on these movies if you've seen them...