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Sunday, October 30th, 2005 - 2:09 AM

"Super Incredulity"

Like HELLO! Can someone tell me how Brandon Routh got the final approval as Superman over Jim Caviezel. After watching I Am David, where Caviezel played a supporting role, I started thinking, "Wow, does he look like Superman or what?!" - and I wasn't even thinking about Superman at the time. In my opinion, Caviezel has a more realistic and convincing face for the role than Routh. In fact, I think just Jim's face alone could boost the epic of the film and the legend. Didn't anyone learn from the fifteen years it took to correct the mistakes made in the modern Batman movie anthology. Are we going to do the same thing with Superman? Why not start it out right.

I'm sure there is more to it than Superman's face, however. Obviously it's not a big priority considering that Nicolas Cage was an early nominee! From the looks of things, the look of Superman is not key, but rather the effects and environments. I have read that Superman Returns may turn out to be one of the most expensive movies ever made. So I'm assuming that, while I might not look how Superman looks, I will thoroughly enjoy the visuals.

As far as Brandon Routh goes, I can't help but say, "What are they thinking?" Here is a guy who has about 3 credits to his name, two being total junk - a soap opera, and a weird teenage gender/sexuality oddness. Oh boy. Not that experience is everything, but I haven't ever seen a soap opera where the actors/actresses had any acting skill whatsoever. I actually laugh and flinch in disgust when I see those glossy heads flash back and forth, so close you can see the sweat pores of their chins. Sure, Routh has a semi-decent face, but I think Caviezel's is more convincing. Caviezel could make a more raw, real Superman, while Routh looks like Plastic Wonder. In my opinion, Routh would make a great flashback in the movie where Clark is going to college or high school, but he should not get the lead part.

My favorite images of Superman are when he goes no more Mr. Nice Guy. He shows some grit and is willing to put his life on the line. Dark colors, definite galactic peril, etc.. That scene in Superman the movie where he is poisoned with a weird kryptonite-like substance, and he becomes rough and messy haired - that's where he needs to go sometimes to gain credibility. There was this period of time in the comics where Superman went outside of earth and battled Mongul. If I remember right, Supes actually died. But the images of him in these comics are more real and dire, less polished, and I liked that. Superman vs. Mongul.

It appears the filmmakers involved with Superman Returns are trying to connect with the new, contemporary generation, rather than creating a Superman image to remember. A great temporal and monetarily valid concern, but I think Batman Begins proves that it is possible to be faithful to the original concepts and imagery while bridging the generational gap at the same time. After all, who are bigger fans, the older generation or the young? I would argue that possibly the older (or middle, like me) are, since Superman is possibly not as relevant and crucial to today as he was some years ago. It's like Zorro: sure I think he's pretty cool, but I'll bet my dad has fonder memories of him from his childhood. Perhaps half the kids today don't even know who Zorro is! .Oh well. No one asked me, I guess.

Here are some pictures comparing some of the Superman candidates I mentioned.

Brandon Routh (chosen as new Superman)

Photo 1: Not a bad Superman face, but too much "Young Punk" for me
Photo 2: "Plastic Boy". Costume: not too bad, but I've always prefered the symbol really large and covering the chest, and the redundancy on the belt buckle is a bit much. I also think the emblem should be part of the material that conforms to Superman's chest, not a 3D plastic thing. Traditionally, the emblem should be part of the material, not a separate entity. In fact, the emblem on the Chris Reeve version is ideal as far as I'm concerned. Click here for a fine emblem.
Photo 3: Getting a little closer with this one, but his lip and chin don't fit the bill.

Jim Caviezel

Photo 1: Look at those eyes... talk about credible, limitless serious scenarios and character development would be possible. No wonder Mel chose him for Jesus. So much introspection in that look.
Photo 2: With a little hair trim, Caviezel has "Clark Kent" written all over him. Was this image taken from Superman propoganda? Nope, just a still from an unrelated film. No image of any person walking this planet comes closer to the comics than this, in my opinion.
Photo 3: To me, this picture screams "I'm Superman, a force to be reckoned with. Take me seriously, I'm not a joke. I'm more than brawn; I actually have a brain."

Nicolas Cage

Photo 1: Are you kidding me? Need I say more?

In conclusion, Chris, why did your life have to wane?! You will always be Superman as far as I'm concerned. Christopher Reeve is Superman. Rest in Peace.

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Sunday, October 30th, 2005 - 2:06 PM

"Who is David?"

Who's David, Jim or Ben?

Just finished watching I Am David. It's actually kinda funny because, if you look at the cover of the movie, you would assume Jim Caviezel is David. I found that a little misleading, and I'm sure it was more of a marketing issue. It was certainly no disappointment to find out Caviezel filled only a supporting role. No harm, no foul, for I much enjoyed I Am David, and the movie could have done just as well without a big name, big face to fill DVD cover.

David and his friend, Johannes, at a Bulgarian concentration camp

The real star of the movie is virtually unknown child actor, Ben Tibber. Movies like I Am David, Empire of the Sun and Sixth Sense prove that it doesn't take years of polished practice and experience to deliver a convincing performance. It is always fun to see the child stars in the special features, to see that they are indeed just kids. To be honest, I feel I can relate more with their point of view than that of the icons of Hollywood. The children seem to have more passion and instinct than some of the seasoned adult professionals. Adults often take themselves too seriously and get wrapped up in the calculation of their performance, instead of just letting it flow, even with a hint of fun. Much can be learned from the authenticity of children. Oftentimes, this genuineness doesn't need to be staged. Child actors really don't get enough credit. Ben Tibber, for example, convinces me more of his plight in this film with one look than many actors could achieve with a hundred words.

I appreciated that the filmmakers didn't felt obligated to fill I Am David with droves of sideline filth and profanity just to make things "interesting" for the adult audience. This film does quite well for me as a palpable story, even carrying its PG rating. The acting, locations, sets and camera work do well enough to keep this film rolling and my eyes from rolling. I confidently recommend the compelling I Am David to virtually any audience (except to the outlandishly critical, to whom I would say "lighten up"! Happy Face).

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Saturday, October 29th, 2005 - 4:25 PM

"Suspended EsoGalleries"

Okay, is there any irony in the fact that Esotropiart no longer contains "art"? Well, art is more than images and galleries, so I still consider what I do "art", just in a different sense. So the story is that I decided to suspend the EsoGalleries. They just weren't up to snuff with the rest of my emerging site. The primary reason for the suspension is the unacceptable amount of time it takes to download the image thumbnails in the larger galleries. This rendered the galleries almost inoperable, so I decided to take them down for a while. As soon as I get motivated to redesign them, I'll let everyone know.

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Saturday, October 29th, 2005 - 2:38 PM

"General Comments Begin"

I decided to invest the time in developing a simple catch-all contact form. It's about time, eh? I already had two features that allowed interaction and response, but nothing to allow visitors to simply offer general feedback or correspondence. So, if you have been waiting to chime in but always thought, "My comment has nothing to do with a particular blog entry or question.", now is your chance! This General Feedback form will send an email directly to me. Click here to use form.

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Saturday, October 29th, 2005 - 3:36 AM

"Digital Compositing"

Last week I finished my first significant digital compositing project. It was significant in its production, not necessarily in its application. In other words, it took quite a number of fun steps to complete, but it ended up producing a small JPG that I sent out in a mass advertising email.

The purpose of the image was to promote a canvas sale at C2F, where I work. I was given pretty much free reign to create some eye-catching graphics to send out in the form of a mass email to all C2F's customers, along with some promotional information. I talked back and forth with one of the marketing VIPs and came up with the idea of representing a large sum of canvases in a store-like setting, as if someone was going on a shopping spree of sorts to take advantage of the special promotional blowout pricing.

Several ideas surfaced, and I needed to figure out a way to either shoot the picture at work or find an appropriate offsite location. And who would be the shopper? Certainly not me. Since I was under a time crunch to get the email sent out as soon as possible, I opted not to get anyone else involved in the project. I have discovered that more heads are not better than one if you want to avoid time-consuming opinions. Yes, get feedback and be sure your ideas mesh with those of your superiors, but asking about every detail will simply delay more and more, unfortunately.

In the end, I decided that I would use imagery found around C2F's offices and warehouse. Instead of using a human model, I came up with the idea of using art mannequins, another of C2F's products of the same proprietary brand as the promoted canvas. So my challenge was to create a scene where one or more mannequins are shopping for canvases.

The process of compositing the final image ended up being quite the interesting and highly entertaining progression of creative steps and imaginative solutions. I employed many digital techniques I had never before attempted, including a crude blue screen masking method, and with much success to my surprise and delight. I don't claim the final image to be perfect by any means and will point out the errors later, yet I was pleased with the results.

The key to creating a somewhat believable composition is only to trick the average eye, not achieve perfection. Depending on the audience, there is a varying level of forgiveness. Since I was working with a fictitious environment that would never happen in the real world (and a short timeframe), my margin for error was slightly higher. When photo-editing with real source photographs, people and backdrops, there is much less margin. I have dabbled with such photo-editing on numerous occasions, but nothing on this scale. I will be working on a slideshow for EsoShow to outline the various steps necessary in creating a composition like the shopping mannequins. Hopefully I will present some useful tidbits for hobbyists and professionals of many skill levels. For now, here is a link to the final image. See the Shopping Mannequins here.

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Thursday, October 27th, 2005 - 11:51 PM

"Video Game Nostalgia"

My friend Dave got me thinking about video games today. Ah, nostalgia! A large part of my life can be traced in connection with video games. My friend Jubba Disk, perhaps one of the ultimate video game players and collectors of all time and space is more literal in his ability to connect life with video games. His memory of video games is astounding. He can literally remember what was happening in his life and what was being said based on which video games he was playing at the time. Very interesting.

I can say that I was privileged to live through the golden age of video games. My first video game system was my dad's Commodore 64. He had about 300 games, so there was endless fun... well, that is until the RF Switch stopped working. I can't remember how many of those we went through!

In the eighties, I had a Nintendo (NES) and a few games. Some of my favorite Nintendo games were:

Favorite Nintendo Games
  • Castlevania series (especially 2)
  • Contra 1 & 2
  • Chip 'n Dale: Rescue Rangers
  • Little Nemo: The Dream Master
  • Megaman series
  • Super Mario series - I still remember many of the secrets so many years later!
  • Zelda II: The Adventure of Link

Later I got a Genesis and can still remember looking up at Sonic for the first time. I was astounded. I became a master of Sonic 1 and 2. I still have a Genesis and a Super Nintendo and play them from time to time. Perhaps the most famous games from this era are The Shadow of the Beast games, highly regarded as some of the most impossible and worst programmed games Jim Guys have ever played! My favorite 16-bit games include:

Favorite Genesis Games
  • Castle of Illusion Starring Mickey Mouse (and other Mickey games - could beat these in 20 minutes)
  • Earthworm Jim 1 & 2
  • Golden Axe series
  • Gunstar Heroes
  • Kid Chameleon
  • Shadow Dancer
  • Sonic the Hedgehog 1 & 2
  • Streets of Rage
Favorite Super Nintendo Games
  • Actraiser 1 & 2
  • Contra III
  • Cool Spot
  • Donkey Kong Country 1, 2 & 3
  • Illusion of Gaia
  • The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past
  • Lost Vikings
  • Super Ghouls 'N Ghosts
  • Super Mario Allstars
  • Super Mario World 1 & 2
  • Super Metroid - one of my favorite games of all time

Here is a list of video game console systems I have actually played on (some ever so briefly):

  • Atari Lynx
  • Commodore 64
  • Gameboy
  • Gameboy Advance (I currently own one)
  • Neo Geo
  • Nintendo (NES)
  • Nintendo 64
  • Nintendo Game Cube
  • Playstation
  • Playstation 2
  • Sega 32X
  • Sega CD
  • Sega Dreamcast
  • Sega Game Gear
  • Sega Genesis
  • Sega Master System
  • Sega Nomad
  • Sega Saturn
  • Super Nintendo (SNES)
  • Turbo Graphix 16 & Turbo Express
  • Virtual Boy
  • X-Box

I haven't fully embraced the new 3D systems and can't convince myself it is worth the investment of time and money. Most of my video game playing has been lived out through my fanatical friend(s). I guess I'm still stuck in the golden age of video games. I know, I'm old. Oh man, the good ole summer days of playing games up to 8 hours a day. Now I have to work 8 hours a day. If only I could be a kid again...

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Wednesday, October 26th, 2005 - 9:05 PM

"...Is Here, Inside Your Mind"

Normally I would run full speed in the opposite direction of any place where I knew a musical was playing. Let's just say I'm not overly fond of movies with over 30% of their time spent bursting out in song. Occasional songs don't bother me and can often add value, but hours of joyful expression and uncanny dance choreography give me the creeps. It is particularly bothersome when not only the main character spouts a melody, but the entire scene turns into a ballet discotheque. Even the extras seem to know the tune and sing along. Aaaaaaah! Point. Narf. Egad.

There is the rare exception to this pet peeve. For instance, The Sound of Music is one of my favorite movies of all time. I think the difference that makes this movie and a few others stand out from the crowd is that they are not performed in the standard broadway archetype. No fancy makeup, bright lights or outlandish costumes. You don't feel like you are watching something staged. And no zany acrobatic dancing! In addition, I find it easier to connect with characters and feel their emotion when they are not empty-eyed singers. No real person walks around singing enthusiastically about the mundane things of life, and it is hard to connect with a person who isn't real. Who has the time to calculate their words into a rhythmic melody? I guess that's why I never really appreciated Shakespeare much. I prefer more authentic and natural performances, rather than the ostentatious. My hypothesis is that only an ostentatious person would use the word ostentatious, furthermore. The only reason I knew to use it is due to the miracle of free online thesaurus power ultra mania deluxe prime recherch?.

Song stucco my head

All day today I had a song stucco my head, and it was due to the fact that I didn't run from a musical last night. Instead, I watched one, The Phantom of the Opera. I figured that it has so much fame, and it is about time I discover why. Besides, it was recommended to me by a friend (you know who you are!). I was somewhat pleasantly surprised with the movie.

Phantom of the Opera

I am not a big fan of earth-shattering vibrato and indecipherable Italian, so normally I would not enjoy opera. I consider a voice with pure, clear tone to be highly beautiful. The Phantom of the Opera had some of both styles, but the primary mode of music was not insufferable. The operatic, super-vibrato singers in the movie were portrayed as egotistical and eccentric, while the main characters sang with more beauty and clarity.

The drama of The Phantom of the Opera was not overly natural, but being set in Paris around the turn of the 20th century, the rigidity and chivalry were in character. There was indeed enough character development to keep me in suspense during the critical moments. Normally in films like this, a large part of emotion is stirred to make the audience pity the underdog character and hope he gets the girl in the end (similar to Disney's Hunchback of Notre Dame). In this case, however, the Phantom seemed to have a very small dose of good moral fiber, so I was relieved when he finally gave up on his greed, lust and jealousy - his only redeemable act in the film.

Though I would not consider myself a music connoisseur and certainly not a guru or even a musician, I have always had a deep appreciation for music. Music has a profound effect on my soul and has brought me through many a hard time in life. Watching The Phantom of the Opera reminded me of this appreciation.

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Tuesday, October 25th, 2005 - 9:17 PM

"Hedgehogsonics"

I learned an interesting new word the other day, neology. After reading its definition, I realized that my friends and I are neologists. No, we are not swayed by worthless doctrine, nor do we follow the latest religious trends. But we do get very creative with our words and ideas. We are always saying, "We should write this stuff down" or "I wish we were recording this". And perhaps some day we shall. There is a persistent dream to make a movie or a video game. Perhaps it is our destiny (density).

Boigis

Neology is defined as the coining of new words, or the assigning of new or additional meaning to already existing words. It is impossible to form a list of all the words Jim Guys have created, nor will I try. I'll give one example, however. Boigis. The definition of Boigis is all food and everything anyhow related to food. For example, one could say, "Let's go get some Boigis", meaning "Let's get something to eat". But there is a slight distinction and more common use, that is "Let's go to Boigis". This sentence means "Let's go to Burger King to get something to eat." Although the word could possibly mean any restaurant or food, it traditionally refers to Burger King. Ah, yes, some of the more important things of life.

I guess we'll have to write it all down and call it hedgehogsonics.

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Friday, October 21st, 2005 - 8:35 PM

"CPR, AED, Better Song Than, Yuck, Barney"

CPR is best performed by two people.

Wednesday night I took advantage of an interesting opportunity provided by my employer. A man who works in the emergency medical field was scheduled to come to our warehouse to provide free CPR and AED (Automatic External Defibrillator) training. Even though the class was a full 4 hours and would last until 9:45pm on a work night, I decided, "Why not go?", the exact thing my pastor asked the congregation when considering the possibility of going on a short missions trip to Brazil happy face. Why not go, since this is something that would ordinarily be a paid class at a college or medical facility? Why not go learn something that could enable me to potentially save a life? I couldn't think of any reason against going other than laziness, so I overcame my apathy and stayed for the training.

The instructor was incredibly qualified and very highly skilled. He was involved with the scientists who invented the original AED technology here in Portland in the early 1970s. He is actively out on the streets saving lives all the time. I cannot think of anyone more qualified to teach such a class, and he really did a great job. Everyone was impressed with his ability to convey this important information with such clarity while breaking down the fear of those in the room by radiating confidence.

Who you gonna call?

So can I now perform CPR and make use of an AED device? Yes. Can I save lives? Who knows. CPR is really just delaying impending death and doesn't usually revive a person (even though the movies make it seem that way). There is about a 10 minute window of possibility for helping to save a person whose brain or heart has stopped functioning. AEDs are more likely to bring a person back to a sustainable condition, but the real life savers are those who arrive on the scene several minutes later with flashing lights and blaring sirens.

Interestingly enough, CPR and other emergency response procedures are constantly being scrutinized by leading minds. If my training is to remain certified and useful, I will have to take a similar class every two years. Our instructor informed us that CPR and using AEDs has become much simpler in recent years due to some of this examination and study. Where training used to involve a confusing and hard to remember list of steps, now there is a simple 3 step process. Who is going to remember a huge list of steps regarding something that is probably never practiced? Simplification actually saves lives.

The very hardest part of CPR is creating an airway by raising the relaxed jaw.

A large part of our instructor's message was geared towards the goal to get AEDs in every public place and making available the universal training necessary to make the public aware of such a marvelous device. In the future, the value of our human lives will be reflected in the presence of a device that is intended and able to save lives. Currently every structure is required to have a fire extinguisher. Imagine the benefit of requiring a device that can save life, rather than wood and stone. The implications are astounding. The price of AEDs has decreased significantly since their conception, but the cost still keeps this widespread circulation from being a true reality.

In the end, though I would love to offer another human being hope in a desparate situation, I hope and pray to never have need of use these new skills.

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Thursday, October 20th, 2005 - 1:41 PM

"EsoQuery is Up and Running"

It's about time I release a new site feature. I've been slacking a little bit in providing consistent content to look forward too in my blog. I certainly haven't added new art in centuries. The reason being, I have been working on developing a good contact page. It is far from done, but there is something that can be released. The new contact page will be multi-faceted, allowing several ways for users to interact with the site. Perhaps most important and the catch-all will be the general comments form. This is not the feature I chose to develop first. I was too excited about another, more interesting feature and worked on that instead.

The mostly finished contact feature is called EsoQuery, or "Ask Phil". It is basically like a single thread forum with possibility for expansion later. Anyone can ask questions of me, and I will do my best to answer them. There is the option of whether the question is intended to be displayed on the site or if it is a private question. I am hoping I will get some public questions so I can develop a sizable database of questions and answers on a variety of topics. The topics I chose to include for users to select from are topics I have some ability or interest in. Of course, don't expect me to know everything about any of these topics. I don't claim to be an expert at anything. I will, however, do my best to answer your questions or refer you to a resource that can help. In many cases, it will be a learning experience for me as well - one of the goals of this feature: we can learn together. In the future, I will possibly open select questions to the public for other peoples' answers, much like a forum. I do want to be selective in this, however, not because I think I have the best answers, but I want to make sure the scope and purpose of the site remains intact.

When asking a question, you must provide a 200 character or less question sentence that provides the gist of your query. This short sentence will be used as a list heading. If you have a big question that requires a lot of text or code of some sort, use the optional details box to describe your question further. It is required that you provide an email address because otherwise I will not be able to respond to your question. Email addresses provided will not be displayed anywhere on the site and will not be abused, sold or spread in anyway whatsoever. By asking a question, it implies you wish me to send you an email answer. If your question is something that seems appropriate and relevant to my site, and you specify to do so, I will include it as a viewable question for other visitors to benefit from, as well as my answer. In most cases, I will answer in the form of a blog entry. Eventually the questions on EsoQuery will link directly into these blog entries. It is my intent to continue to expand EsoBlog to be used for many different purposes... more than the average blog. Many of my site features will tie into each other... like a slideshow that relates to a blog entry, as I have done before, for example (and linked the two together).

I somewhat tested this new feature and am hoping it is ready for use. I am aware of some minor issues that still need to be modified. Click here to visit the brand new EsoQuery. This and the other soon to be released contact page features will be available by clicking the Contact link on the main menu.

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Wednesday, October 19th, 2005 - 12:17 AM

"Sly Bliss EsoLogo"

Sly Bliss EsoLogo

I created yet another logo variation. I will call it the Sly Bliss EsoLogo. Why did I create another logo? Well, I guess I had two reasons or causes. First, I saw my friend Dave's site and noticed his new logo. I actually quite like it. Some logos just work, and his is one of those. I hope he keeps it clean and simple. It really looks nice. The second catalyst was reading web design tips written by Jakob Nielen. I would suggest his site to anyone wishing to improve the site usability and friendliness of their site (www.useit.com). I will probably eventually read his tips again and refine my site to take into consideration a few of his tips I agree with. Though I'm not a perfect minimalist and enjoy including graphics in my pages, I am aware of download sizes/speeds and wish to keep my pages as small as possible while still looking interesting. So I designed this slightly smaller logo and got rid of the left bottom corner logo. Therefore, pages should load slightly faster now, and there is something new to look at (though I wouldn't necessarily say I like this new logo better).

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Monday, October 17th, 2005 - 9:42 PM

"A Kingdom of Conscience"

The Kingdom of Heaven

I quite enjoyed The Kingdom of Heaven and its many intriguing social and spiritual implications. To me, the morals of the film spoke louder than the quality of the visuals themselves (as amazing as they were). The historic period of the Crusades is a conversation propellant vivid enough for many deep conversations. To see a presumably accurate depiction of such provocative events is certainly eye-opening.

For many critics, the Crusades are the primary impetus for criticizing Christianity and justification for calling Christians "hypocrites". I'm sure there isn't a single modern apologist who hasn't been asked, "What about the Crusades?". The Crusades are the bane and stain of Christianity. It is an unfortunate setback to spend so much time explaining something that happened almost a thousand years ago and such tomfoolery (tommyrot - poor Thomas: if only he didn't doubt, he'd still have a honorable name) to assume that all Christians are jumping at the chance to go kill thousands in the name of Christ!

How many centuries of good acts and love will it take to erase this transgression before the eyes of the world? Unfortunately each new generation adds to the list of atrocities done in the name of Christ. It seems bloodthirsty Muslim extremists sometimes get more tolerance than the average Christian. These terrorists no more represent the peaceful majority of Muslims than the crusaders represent me or most others as followers of Christ.

The antagonist of the film, when his word is questioned and he compared to his ancestors who killed without mercy, responds: "I am not those men. I am Saladin." History smiles a bit on Saladin (a real historical figure) because of his chivalry, respect and certain level of mercy in battle. To answer those who continue to remember the Crusades as an argument against Christianity, I must say it's a good thing God is more forgiving and "forgetful" than man! (Romans 4:8; Psalm 103:8-14)

To the credit of The Kingdom of Heaven, both the Muslims and Christians are given equal and fair stage presence. Both are portrayed in good and bad light. Unfortunately the character with the purest motives is one who has no religion and has rejected God, assuming that he has been rejected. One could argue that this insinuates religion is a futile and vain pursuit. I would essentially agree, for true Christianity is not a religion, but a relationship. As it has been said before, "Religion is man's effort to reach God. Christianity is God's effort to reach man." And Billy Graham is quoted as saying, "Religion can do more harm than good. It's like a vaccine; you're given a little religion, but if all you get is the religion and not the relationship, it becomes a poison." Furthermore, I don't see Balian (the main character with admirable morals) as anti-religious. In fact, he certainly had some form of religion. It is exactly the relationship that he lacked (or perhaps he once had it, but life had clouded it).

Perhaps my favorite element of the movie was the realization that the Kingdom of Heaven is a kingdom of conscience. Though you could pick that apart theologically, it has a good moral. To most people, the church is equated with buildings and stained glass. But in reality, the church is the body of Christ, formed up by the members of the church, the very people themselves, and the Spirit living in them (Romans 12:4,5; I Corinthians 12:12,13). There was an interesting allusion to this concept in the movie, when Balian's father and his adopted priest taught him that the kingdom is in "here and here", pointing to the brain and the heart. And as an interesting twist, it seems to me that the brain and the heart are the very things that must come together before Christianity becomes real. To believe something in your brain is a lot different than really knowing in the depths of your soul and experiencing it each day. As Pastor has said many times, the challenge is "moving God eighteen inches, from the head to the heart."

The conclusion of the movie set this kingdom of souls concept in stone. After all the fighting, Balian put his religion into practice. He realized that if he continued to fight against the invading Muslims, he would lose all the lives. He opted to surrender Jerusalem, the "holy" place in exchange for a kingdom of souls. Saladin offered the terms of safe retreat for all the Christians if they but give up the walls and go. What a testament to where the true Kingdom and true value are found! If all the churches in the world were torn down and all the crosses incinerated, the church of Jesus would continue on. The kingdom or dominion of God contains all that is under His direct control and influence. Though He is sovereign and ultimately in charge of all, He has temporarily allowed men to make the choice to build their own kingdoms, or the kingdom of Satan. All those who bow to him are effectively giving up their will to His and becoming part of His kingdom, as subjects to Him. Yet He shares His reign with us... amazing! (Revelation 22:3-5)

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Sunday, October 16th, 2005 - 9:52 PM

"Making Mr. Right Gets It All Wrong"

Making Mr. Right: Oh, yuck! I cannot believe how bad this movie was. Don't bother with it unless you want something to scrutinize. I assumed John Malcovich was a good enough actor to always portray a believable character. Not so with this movie. Can anything good come out of the eighties? Vomitrocious!

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Sunday, October 16th, 2005 - 7:58 PM

"Icon Madness (Get Out of the Building!)"

It's hardly worth writing a tutorial for browser favorites/bookmarks icons for two reasons:

  1. There are a million tutorials out on the web that have essentially the same instructions as I have.
  2. Even if you follow these instructions very closely, half the time it won't work! Woo hoo!

So why am I going to write such a repetitious, ineffective tutorial? Because I said I would in an earlier EsoBlog entry. I better watch what I say! happy face Here goes...

For those of you who simply don't know what I'm talking about, go to an extremely famous web site, like Google, Yahoo or MSN (or Esotropiart). Notice how large sites like these have a custom icon showing up to the left of their addresses in your address bar? If not, then you probably don't have a browser that supports such functionality very well. Firefox and IE5+ generally support favorite icons, but I'll get into that later. Anyhoo, the idea of such icons is to visually promote a site's identity. When a site is added as a browser bookmark or favorite the icon will appear alongside the name of the site, so sites with icons grab more attention.

There are two steps to adding an icon:

  1. Dreaming up and Designing an icon (.ico) file.
  2. Putting the newly created file in the right place so browsers will use it.

The fist step of designing and creating the icon file is by far the hardest step in the process. For those of you people who know what you are doing graphically, this should be no problem at all. For an average computer user, this is a somewhat daunting task, but I'll show you how I did it.

First of all, you need a paint (or photo-editing) program of some sort that can save in a variety of formats. On the Windows platform, Windows Paint is fine for this, though there are certainly better programs. Secondly, you need a program that can save in .ico (icon) format. If you have any graphics or paint programs on your computer, open any file with the program, click on "Save As" in the File menu, click on the "Save as Type" drop-down box, and if you see ".ico" in the list, you're in business. Most people don't have such a program, so go on the net and do a search for "freeware icon editor" or "shareware icon editor". You will find numerous such programs; download one and see if you can draw out a little icon. It should not be hard to figure out. I suggest doing a search for IconEdit32, an extremely good free icon editor - no need to look further.

If you find a free icon editor, just use that for simplicity rather than trying to use both your paint program and the icon editor. Since each icon editor is slightly different, I can't offer a step-by-step tutorial on how to draw an icon. I think it is fairly self-explanatory once you have an icon program to fool around with. For advanced users, however, you can design your icon in any graphics application. If going this route, make sure to design your icon at about 48 x 48 pixels because icons can be various sizes, and you can always shrink the master icon down to the smaller required sizes (unless you are meticulous and want to draw the smaller ones pixel by pixel). Save the master icon in .TIF, .GIF, and .JPG file formats. Most icon editors will allow you to import a source image to work from. Since paint programs have more tools than icon editors, I found it much easier to paint the icon how I wanted it and just use the icon editor to save as the .ico file format.

One thing you should know about icons is that they are actually libraries. An icon is not a single image, but rather it can be a group of many icon images packed into one file. Typically, a good icon will contain the same image several times in different sizes and color depths. Internet browsers vary in what they "want", but the safest bet is to create your icon as a 16 pixels wide by 16 pixels high image with a maximum of 16 unique colors (4 bit color, for those who know what that means). I would encourage you to save your icon in the following sizes and color depths:

  1. 16 W x 16 H, 16 colors
  2. 32 W x 32 H, 16 colors
  3. 48 W x 48 H, 16 colors
  4. 16 W x 16 H, 256 colors
  5. 32 W x 32 H, 256 colors
  6. 48 W x 48 H, 256 colors

Here are examples of the icons I created for Esotropiart to fill my icon library (matching the above specifications):

  1. 16 x 16 x 16
  2. 32 x 32 x 16
  3. 48 x 48 x 16
  4. 16 x 16 x 256
  5. 32 x 32 x 256
  6. 48 x 48 x 256

If you don't notice much difference between the 16 and 256 color samples above, that is because I chose a custom palette (or adaptive palette) for all, meaning that only colors that appear in the untouched, original image are used, creating very nice results. If you work with web-safe colors found in a standard palette of sorts, your icons will look horrible (unless you like super hard edges and bright colors). You could technically add three more images to your library for the various sizes in true color depth (millions of colors), but there is not much point when a 256 color version looks perfect. Icon images are so small that they rarely use all 256 available colors unless you have a really colorful icon. Besides, the more icons you add to the library, the larger the file becomes. Any good icon editor will take a source file (like your 48 x 48 pixels master image) and automatically create images of all these sizes and colors depths and store the images in a single icon libray (.ico). If the icon editor allows you to edit each size and color depth image, resize your master image and limit the colors within your favorite paint program. When you have the perfect icon for each size, cut and paste the entire image from your paint program into the icon editor window of the same size and colors (this should be possible, but you may have to save each different file and import them).

Make sure to save the icon file with this exact name: favicon.ico. Don't ask me whether or not that makes any difference. I don't think it does, but other tutorials out there have had this little tidbit, so I must also. It is possible that web browsers only look for an icon with such a name, so it can't hurt.

Now for step 2, the easy part: where to put the icon so the browsers will find and use it. Upload the icon file (favicon.ico) to the root folder of your web page, as well as every subfolder where reside HTML files that actually produce visitable content (.htm, .php, .asp, etc.). This might be all you need, but to be "safe", you might try putting the following code somewhere in-between the

tags in each file where you want the icon to be used:

If you don't want to duplicate the icon file into every single folder, you can simply vary the above code to include either a complete absolute or relative path to where the file can be found (these are just examples from my site, yours will vary):

absolute:
relative:

Disclaimer: As far as I can tell, these are all the tricks of the trade to get the icons to appear in most browsers. Mind you, you might have to refresh pages, delete old bookmarks/favorites and re-add them, etc. There is about a 50% chance this whole thing will work because it seems this cool feature is not fully supported by any browser. For example, to get it to work in IE6, you might have to click and drag the blue "e" icon that appears in the address bar to some random location on your screen, because that little "e" likes sit on top of your newly created icon just to annoy you. And he might jump right back on top and make faces at you. happy face

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Sunday, October 16th, 2005 - 6:02 PM

"drueck.net begins"

Congratulations!!

I'm going to take a moment to congratulate my friend Dave. He called me last night asking some questions about the web hosting service I use, expressing interest in getting his own web site started. I told him the few tips I know, and within a couple hours he had a simple home page up and running. Mind you, it is starting out as just a couple simple paragraphs. But that simplicity is no indicator of Dave's taste or skill. He is quite capable in many facets of web design and has an aptitude for scripting & programming.

In my opinion, it is a good sign, getting something up there so it can be seen that something is happening. My problem is often looking at the entire task of designing something. I get discouraged and put it off for a long time. While the planning stage is important, and it will save you time in the end, there is value to getting content out there where it can be seen.

I'm anxious to see Dave's site develop, and I'll write about any significant improvements here as I see the need. I'll continue to have a link to his site in "My Friends" links to the left, but here is a quick link for the purpose of redundancy: drueck.net.

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Saturday, October 15th, 2005 - 4:49 PM

"Search Engines - Utility or Futility?"

Wow, thank my lucky stars! I just discovered something very cool about search engines. There is actually a use to their "cached version" feature. I had noticed before that search engines like Google and Yahoo have a link to older versions of sites alongside most search results. Before just a few minutes ago, however, I couldn't think of any reason why that would be useful.

About a half-hour ago, I accidentally saved my latest blog entry over the top of an older file and mindlessly uploaded the overwritten file to my web server. That means that both the file on my computer and the one on my web site were overwritten, and the older blog entry was effectively lost. I began to brainstorm of ways to restore the older file and couldn't think of any. I did have a backup plan, so wasn't to the panicking stage yet (not that the content of my blog entries amount to much importance, but think of all those faithful viewers who wouldn't sleep that night, knowing they had missed something!). There are two computers I use to work on my web site, and I could go to the other computer to restore the file. However, something came to mind in the meantime.

I suddenly realized I could check some search engines for a cached version of my site, and copy the overwritten text from there. And it worked, "Yahoo!" Speaking of search engines, what are your opinions, anyone who might be reading? I remember when Excite, Webcrawler and Lycos were the most used in my little world. Then all-of-a-sudden I found out about several others, including Alta Vista, Yahoo, Dogpile and Mamma. After that, Google gained universal popularity and now seems to be the default search engine for everyone in the world, including me. I am actually quite a fan of Google, and I am enthralled with all their additional technologies. Most recently, I have discovered Ask.com to be quite an effective search engine.

I'm beginning to wonder why Google is so popular. In reality, I think I have just influenced by the majority, rather than looking to see which actually finds the results I want. Most of the time I don't actually find what I'm looking for on Google. In order to find something, you have to type out an extremely advanced search string, something I haven't mastered. I would prefer to find a search engine that actually looks for sensible English patterns like sentences or concepts. I guess AI (Artificial Intelligence) simply hasn't got there yet. I think this is somewhat the goal of Ask.com, a search engine that allows you to type questions in English, often returning results that actually relate to the question, rather than weighing results by how many times each word of your sentence appears in the text (a mostly useless method). It would be nice if some of the other engines, including Google would follow suit and generate more intelligent results.

As far as crawling the web, I have found that Yahoo's bots seems to crawl far faster than Google's. Maybe it is different for each domain, but Yahoo caches Esotropiart far faster than Google. Eso appeared on Yahoo long before Google even knew of its existence. In fact, all Google had for the longest time was an extremely early cached version of my site as it appeared on the student web server where I started the project in late 2004. It was due to Yahoo's fast crawling speed that I was able to restore my lost blog entry. Google also had a cached version of my site, but it was from several days before the blog entry was written. In these modern, competitive times, I'm once again learning to look outside Google for my searching needs. Unfortunately, I just don't know where to look. If anyone has any suggestions, like which is your favorite engine, or explain how you use different ones for different purposes, or how to use effective search strings to find what you are looking for, let me know by leaving a descriptive comment.

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Thursday, October 13th, 2005 - 12:49 AM

"Me Make Stuff Better"

In my efforts to spread the word about Esotropiart, I have added EsoBlog to several blog communities and lists. I don't expect to get much traffic as the result, but it's a start. In addition, I have been looking at some other blogs and have been adding features that other bloggers expect to see. The RSS feed that I added recently allows people to subscribe to EsoBlog entries. Each time I add an entry, anyone who is subscribed will be aware of the new content almost immediately.

This evening I added a profile to my blog page because I noticed most blogs include some basic personal information in this format. Eventually, I might also add a popup containing links to friends' blogs or interesting and relevant online communities.

This afternoon my good friend Dave suggested a new feature for my site. Well, actually, he asked if I knew anything about those little icons that show up next to page titles in the browser address bar or next to favorites/bookmarks. I had noticed the icons, but for some reason it never occurred to me to look into it and take advantage of it for my own projects. I instantly searched the the internet and found a resource explaining how the icons are created. I downloaded a simple icon editor and generated a very simple "Eso" icon. Anyone using Firefox should see the icon in their address bar when they load my Home Page or add it as a bookmark/favorite. I'll try to get it to work on all supplementary pages. The functionality seems a little sketchy right now. As soon as I get it working consistently, I'll write a simple tutorial explaining how it is done. Here is the tutorial.

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Thursday, October 13th, 2005 - 12:24 AM

"First Contact - Come As You Are"

Lately, I have become more interested in sharing Esotropiart with people and attracting some regular visitors. Yes, I enjoy web design. I very much enjoy the process of creating something from scratch. It is an absolute delight to learn something new through my own reading or research and improve my site each day. To be honest, if I could design stuff like this as a career, I would go for it. Of course, I do a fair amount of design at work, but I really want some projects where I have complete control over the back end development as well as the design. I feel competent enough to take on some projects that require dynamic features. I offered to help design a web site for a church in my area some time ago, but haven't heard back much so far.

Anyway, as I seek to improve my site, I have become increasingly interested in showing my site to other people an involving them in my interests, developing a community of like-minded people. Actually, I'd love to have a diverse crowd visiting my site, but realistically only people with similar interests will visit more than once or twice. Every site has a niche, and I hope to find mine.

I am currently developing a very feature-packed contact page so that visitors can interact in several different ways. The page will eventually have at least 5 sections, or forms:

  • General Feedback - A form for general communication or feedback. This is where people might send me a message just saying "hi", or "I like your site!"
  • Guest Book - A place for first-time visitors to chime in, and let me know there were there.
  • Ask Phil - Ask me anything about a wide variety of subjects. Questions as well as my answers will be posted on my site for others to see and benefit from.
  • Blog Comments - Here is where the blog comments can be read in a more intuitive manner. Currently it is hard to see if a new comment has been posted in response to an older blog entry. The Blog Comments page will allow these comments to be sorted by date or topic all in one place, instead of hunting for new ones for each blog entry. This page will be linked directly to EsoBlog.
  • Report an Error - It will be possible to report a broken link, spelling error or other problems here. Each page of the entire site will be listed here, so it will be possible for my dedicated fans to pinpoint the exact location of a problem on the site and communicate the nature of the problem, so I can fix it in a jiffy (everyone's favorite word).

My goal is never notoriety for myself. I just want a group of people with whom I can interact through my web site on a regular basis. Esotropiart is a fun project for me to work on, but I have hopes for so much more to come out of it. I think it has potential to bring a community of interesting people together and help them appreciate more the joy and significance of life through mutual sharing of experience and learning. Life is a process and a journey containing reflections of eternity. I hope Esotropiart will help myself as well as others reach together towards Someone higher and greater than ourselves.

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Sunday, October 9th, 2005 - 10:01 PM

"Kinship"

I am so thankful that I am going to my church. There are thousands in the area, and I feel blessed to be a part of this local body in particular. I am privileged to see God at work in the lives of a small and intimate group of people, my spiritual family. I can honestly say that I consider these people family. For about as long as I have been attending this church I have made part of a small group that meets Sunday evenings. We call these small groups "kinship groups".

The purpose of kinship groups is not to study the Bible, though that is what we are doing at the moment. Rather, there is an intentional directive of getting to know each other on an intimate level while together seeking a closer walk with God. Never before have I seen or been part of such a meaningful group of people. The ages and backgrounds of each person who comes is diverse, and somehow it still works. There is a family love there that extends beyond verbal description.

Typical meetings involve reading a book together and discussing our reactions, praying for each other, joking and eating snacks. In my humble opinion, these small gatherings feel more like church than any worship service I have been to. Considering that the body of Christ is not composed of a building or a program, such feelings make sense. The body of Christ is made up of the people, the hearts who choose to follow Him together. And for me, there has been no clearer picture of this than what I have experienced in small groups. If there is anyone out there who just doesn't feel part of a church, and it feels empty just attending a large service each week; find out if your church offers small groups of some sort, the type that meet regularly in someone's home in the evenings. I don't think you will regret it.

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Thursday, October 6th, 2005 - 9:52 PM

"For Your Own Enjoyment, Remove Thinking Caps"

Sahara movie poster

This book-based movie is a stereotypical, fun American action movie. There was almost nothing realistic in the entire film, but sometimes that's a plus rather than a minus. I generally like Sahara with Matthew McConaughey, Steve Zahn and Pen?lope Cruz. Typically I don't like Matthew McConaughey's film presence. It seems that always plays some sort of major chauvinist pig who assumes he can and will get all the girls by virtue of his big smile and yuckus-ruckus big hair. I'm not saying his character is perfect in Sahara, but he at least shows some restraint, a characteristic seemingly impossible for him to muster in many of his other films. Matt, Hugh Grant, and Leonardo DiCaprio all have that big hair (well, not Leo so much), big ego presence on film that makes me squirm and spew. I can actually bear to watch McConaughey in this movie, though I still can't help myself saying, "Get a haircut!".

Sahara has virtually no connection with plausible reality other than it being an outlandish "historical fiction" of sorts. The two main characters, Dirk (McConaughey) and Al (Zahn) are marine treasure hunters, Dirk with an extensive knowledge of the field, as well as the science involved. Dirk's ultimate dream is to find a famous iron "Ship of Death" from Civil War times, and he will literally stop at nothing to find it. The two globetrotters end up in the Sahara desert, following a very unlikely lead.

Eva, Dirk and Al, victorious

Dirk and Al meet up with Eva, a World Health Organization doctor whose passion is to discover the nature of a mysterious disease in a war-stricken country. The three join up and smuggle themselves into Mali, each with their own dead set motivation. They encounter many characters, including an African warlord, rebels, and a wealthy french businessman gone foul. As they search for their respective mysteries, the three end up uncovering an enormous plot to do something that I can't remember, having something to do with an enormous solar powered incinerator and toxic waste. The point is, that it doesn't really matter what the evil plot is; you just have fun watching Dirk and Al scuttle their way through a series of ridiculous adventures, quipping back and forth all the way. The fondness of their longstanding friendship and the way they frolic against with even the strongest punches makes the movie an enjoyable, though mindless, spectacle.

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Thursday, October 6th, 2005 - 10:38 AM

"RSS Gimme Yubbies"

Last night I experimented with a new technology and learned it to a certain degree. Currently, as far as I know, I have about three or four people who visit my site on a somewhat regular basis. If I am lucky, there might be a total of ten or twenty people who have seen my site altogether. I am certainly not seeking wealth and fame, but I think it would be fun to see more interaction with my site from like-minded people. I enjoy receiving comments and emails about the site, and I am currently working on developing several new ways for visitors to interact.

In efforts to gain a little more exposure, I decided to see if I could get EsoBlog added to some blog communities and directories. I searched around until I found a pretty good list of weblog communities and did my best to add my site into the mix.

While searching for ways to extend my audience I came across a technology I was formerly unaware of called "RSS". RSS, Rich Site Summary (or Really Simple Syndication), is a manifestation of XML that syndicates (publishes) web content in article-like form. At first, it seemed to me that RSS was a somewhat cloudy method, but after a fair amount of searching on the internet, I found some clearly written documentation on the subject. RSS is indeed a loose term for there are many versions and syntactical variations that claim the name "RSS". Common to seemingly all the variations are several XML tags. Take a look at the feed I created for this blog for an example of the descriptions that follow.

The entire body of the RSS document is enclosed in an <rss> tag, much like the <html> tag in an HTML document, specifying which version of RSS is being implemented. Inside the <rss> tag is a <channel> tag, much like the <body> tag in an HTML document. The first three tags inside the channel are a <title>, <description> and <link>. These describe the root content and location of the news site or weblog. All the following content blocks represent the individual news articles or blog entries, and are each enclosed in a <item> tag. Each item can have a <title>, <description> and <link> of their own.

This simple document structure makes it possible to provide updated news or journal content to anyone who wants to subscribe to the site's provided content. The entire XML document is typically referred to as an "RSS Feed" because it allows special web sites and software to monitor the XML content and regularly decide if there is anything new. When new content is detected in the feed it is sent along to anyone subscribed to the site, making it possible to provide immediate awareness of new site content. Many people are conveniently subscribed to numerous RSS feeds, and they are free to wait for new content to appear through the feed, rather than visiting each page regularly to check for new articles or blog entries.

I learned the bare essentials for creating a simple RSS feed last night, and wrote a simple XML document and uploaded it to my site. I then searched around the web and found some sites where it is possible to submit the feed for free. Eventually Esotropiart EsoBlog will be viewable through several major RSS feed and Blog collections. For those who have a free membership to Yahoo, it is possible to sign into MyYahoo and add my RSS feed to your home page through the "Add Content" button. There are numerous other free applications that will inform you of new content without having to log into a particular web site.

As I research the specifics of the newest RSS specification, I will probably add new functionality to the feed to make it more powerful and useful. Moreover, for now I believe it works like a charm! Soon, I'll add the familiar little blue/orange icon to the menu on my blog page for those who are used to seeing that. I'm still not sure exactly why it is important to provide a link to the XML, but conformance to standards is sometimes nice.

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Tuesday, October 4th, 2005 - 11:19 PM

"Movie Review: Haunted Mansion"

Disney's Haunted Mansion

I go right down the middle with this Disney theme park attraction gone Hollywood, starring Eddie Murphy. I don't think it was a great movie, but I also would not give it the worst possible review. I half-enjoyed seeing Eddie Murphy in a role where I didn't have to close my eyes or plug my ears every time he comes on screen. His style of humor and acting is typically a bit more coarse than I can appreciate. Disney's Haunted Mansion was for the most part an exception to Murphy's pattern of vulgarity, though as Disney is becoming notorious for there were a few suggestive lines unfit for a young audience.

By the way, I guess it's about time I give a disclaimer in regards to my movie reviews: I am a follower of Christ, and I do desire that all I do is honoring to Him. I haven't become convinced to watch only movies that were released from well-known Christian studios. I am not a great fan of Hollywood and the clear moral corruption found there, but I feel free to enjoy a good movie, imperfect as it may be. Each person must make their own decision about movies.

I consider Esotropiart a family friendly web site, and I strive to maintain a fun and innocent, though meaningful and inspiring environment. On the other hand, it is not my goal to personally legislate an extremely strict morality. I do not take the time to detail out every indication of violence, bad language or sexual innuendo in every movie mentioned on this site. There are people who have full-time jobs doing this sort of thing, and I simply don't have this luxury. Please, if you are a worrisome parent who is looking to find out which movies to let your children watch, I advise you to seek a web site whose purpose matches your level of concern. I have set limits for myself as an adult and know when to stop watching a movie that oversteps my boundaries. Each person has their own boundaries which may be stricter or looser than mine. Feel free to email me with questions about the details of a movie I talk about in my blog. I'll do my best to recollect the content of the film and answer your questions, though I must admit I have a pretty horrible memory. For a movie review that breaks down all occurrences of questionable content, please visit Focus on the Family's movie review site, www.pluggedinonline.com. I highly recommend this site for those with a sensitive conscience concerning movie viewing. It's also a great place to hear an interesting spiritual perspective of mainstream hollywood films.

Typically my movie reviews focus on one characteristic of a film that fascinates me. There is no consistent pattern to how I write my reviews, and I don't impose a personal rating system. This is, after all, a platform for my own personal thoughts (much like a journal), rather than a professional daily review column. I don't write a blog entry for every movie I watch because some simply aren't interesting, and others have been so horrible that I don't want to dignify them with a review, good or bad. One such movie is Alexander, Director's Cut. Don't bother EVER watching that one! Yuck! Spew! (email me for details, if you are curious)

camera pans to show very nice CGI haunted mansion

So, back to Haunted Mansion. Perhaps the most interesting aspect of this movie for me was its perspective on the afterlife. I am not fascinated with the myth that restless spirits or ghosts of deceased people wander the earth, and I don't see any evidence or support for such ideas. The whole idea, however, is very ingrained in virtually every society, and the portrayal of such things does not particularly offend me. My focus and attention is more on the stereotypical eternal destination syndrome presented in the movie. Basically the premise of this and many other fictitious, secular scenarios is that man is essentially good. All people go to heaven by default, and hell is reserved for those who don't make good decisions in life, or for those who do something atrocious. The Bible teaches the contrary, that all people are essentially bad from birth due to a curse on all mankind as the direct result of disobedience against a holy and compassionate God and Creator (Romans 3:10-18, 5:12-21). Believe me, if our eternal destination depended solely on what we did, we'd all be in big trouble! Those who do not decide to follow Jesus and to receive His awesome, free gift of life are destined to this fate according to the Bible (Revelation 20:11-15).

Another common spiritual falsity was manifested near the end of the movie. It seems that Hollywood likes to present the idea that hell is Satan's dominion, where what he says goes. In Haunted Mansion, a horrible fire demon grabs the evil, murderous villain of the movie (an actor I can't help but associate with demonic roles) and pulls him through a vortex to hell, where he belongs (as payment for his immoral and hateful life). How interesting and convenient: the demons are kind enough to only pull in those who do evil. This fallacy makes Satan out to be a righteous judge, punishing the wicked. Only God has the power as righteous Judge to hand out punishment (Matthew 10:28). In reality, Satan wishes the worst for every man and woman, be they evil or righteous. If he had his way, all would die a horrible death, and their lives would be filled with constant pain and suffering (I Peter 5:8, Revelation 12:12). He wouldn't just grab the "bad guys", like this fire demon in Haunted Mansion and the shadowy creatures in Ghost did (with Patrick Swayze and Demi Moore), but he would grab everyone if the power was given him to do so. In addition, hell is no kingdom of Satan; he has no influence there. In fact, hell is the final destination of Satan and all his followers, as well as all those unfortunate human souls who don't call upon the name of the Lord to be saved (Romans 10:9-13, Matthew 13:40-43). There is no freedom or dominion in such a place, for it is a place of sorrow and eternal punishment (Matthew 25:31-46).

I don't want to be the bearer of bad news, so I'll end on a hopeful note, for Christianity is a message of good news to all mankind:

"For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him." (John 3:16,17 NIV)

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