MOVIE REVIEW: The Theory of Everything

One of the questions the film The Theory of Everything did NOT address was how has Stephen Hawking lived to 70 with ALS?

theoryofeverythingWhen I heard the buzz about the movie The Theory of Everything, I expected that the movie-making would be less conventional. But it’s just a standard romantic biopic of boy meets girl/boy and girl fall in love/boy discovers he has ALS and has two years to live/boy and girl get married anyway/they live happily ever after (for a while).

The “boy” is astrophysicist Stephen Hawking (Eddie Redmayne from the movie Les Misérables), who will eventually become one of the most famous scientists in the world, and author of the bestseller A Brief History of Time. The “girl” is fellow Cambridge student Jane Wilde (Felicity Jones), an unlikely pair.

Jane: So, I take it you’ve never been to church?
Stephen: Once upon a time.
Jane: Tempted to convert?
Stephen: I have a slight problem with the celestial dictatorship premise.

Great physical transformations have taken place so often in film that I think this one by Redmayne may be underrated. Yet I think the greater evolution takes place with Jones, who, over a thirty-year period, convinces the viewer of the joys and tribulations of living and dealing with someone so physically limited, yet so intellectually stimulating.

Perhaps the story, based on Jane’s memoir Travelling to Infinity, feels a tad formulaic, though occasionally quite funny. But the acting, including Charlie Cox, Maxine Peake, and Simon McBurney, who I was unfamiliar with, and David Thewlis and Emily Watson, who I’ve watched for years, is solid.

The Wife and I were glad we saw it, as usual, at the Spectrum Theatre in Albany.

One of the questions the film did NOT address was How Has Stephen Hawking Lived to 70 with ALS?

In the year-in-review stories, it’s fascinating how the ALS ice bucket challenge became a viral storm.

August Rambling: Deep dark secrets

I wrote this blog post about my ambivalence about blogging on the Times Union website.

The Hook-Up Culture Is Getting 20-Somethings Nowhere. On the other hand, Casual Love.

How we get through life every day.

Nixon’s still the one. And What We Lost 40 Years Ago When Nixon Resigned. See Harry Shearer recreate Richard Nixon as he preps and delivers his resignation speech. Plus George Will Confirms Nixon’s Vietnam Treason.

New Zealand’s non-partisan Get Out the Vote campaign. I don’t see such things often in the US. Sure, there’s get our SUPPORTERS to vote, but that’s a different animal.

Deep Dark Fears is “a series of comics exploring those intimate, personal fears that mostly stem from your imagination getting darkly carried away.” Read more about it.

Rod Serling’s closing remarks from The Obsolete Man episode of The Twilight Zone. “It remains profoundly prescient and relevant.”

All these in a 48-hour period: How games’ lazy storytelling uses rape and violence against women as wallpaper and Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) has come forward with several stories of being called “chubby,” “fat,” and “porky” by her male colleagues in Congress and Fark prohibits misogyny in new addition to moderator guidelines and Snappy response to sexist harasser in the tech field.

Modern Office with Christina Hendricks.

FLOWCHART: Should You Catcall Her?

Guns and The Rule of Intended Consequences.

What our nightly views might look like if planets, instead of our moon, orbited Earth.

Cartoon: Pinocchio, Inc.

Remember when I wrote about flooding in Albany this month? Dan explains the systemic reason WHY it happened.

Arthur makes the case against “the case against time zones.” I’m not feeling the abolition of time zones either, at this point.

Nōtan: Dark and Light principles of Design.

The jungle gym as math tool.

The disaster drafts for professional sports.

The Procrastination Doom Loop—and How to Break It.

One of my favorite movie quotes, maybe because it’s so meta: “That’s part of your problem: you haven’t seen enough movies. All of life’s riddles are answered in the movies.” (Grand Canyon, 1991)

Seriously, Rebecca Jade, the first niece, is in about four different groups, in a variety of genres. Here’s The Soultones cover band – Promo video. Plus a link to her latest release, Galaxy, with Jaz Williams.

Tosy’s U2, ranked 40-31 and 30-21.

Who Wants To Be A Millionaire? Paul McCartney and Heather Mills, 2004.

August 22, 1969: The Beatles’ Final Photo Shoot

Coverville 1043: The Elvis Costello Cover Story III, in honor of him turning 60.

4 chairs, 4 women; 4 women, no chairs.

12 billion light-years from the edge. A funny bit!

Don Pardo, R.I.P..

Lauren Bacall: always the life of the party. And cinema icon of Hollywood’s golden age, 1924-2014. A Dustbury recollection.

More Robin Williams: on ‘cowardice’ and compassion. Also, a Dan Meth drawing and Aladdin’s Broadway cast gave a him beautiful tribute. Plus, a meeting of Yarmy’s Army and Ulysses.

Jaquandor remembers little Quinn. Damn middle recording made me cry.

The Wellington Hotel Annex in Albany, N.Y. was… murdered in plain sight in front of hundreds of onlookers. “If I were a building, this is how I’d like to go.” Here’s another view.

SamuraiFrog’s Muppet jamboree: C is for Clodhoppers and D Is for Delbert (who evolved) and E is for Eric the Parrot and F is for a Fraggle and G Is for the Gogolala Jubilee Jugband.

New SCRABBLE words. Word Up has identified some of the new three-letter words.

I SO don’t care: one space or two after the period. Here’s a third choice.

The ultimate word on that “digital natives” crap.

Whatever Happened to the Metric System?

Freedom from fear.

Ever wondered what those books behind the glass doors of the cupboard might be thinking or feeling?

The New Yorker thinks Yankovic is weirdly popular.

Here’s a nice Billy Joel story.

Pop songs as sonnets.

House of Clerks, a parody of House of Cards.

Saturday Night Live Political Secrets Revealed.

This Sergio Aragonés masterpiece is included as a fold-out poster within Inside Mad. His priceless gift to all Mad fans shows over six decades of Mad contributors and ephemera within a mish-mash of Mad office walls. The only thing missing in this beautiful mess is a key. Doug Gilford will be attempting to label everything you see with brief (pop-up) descriptions and links to pertinent pages…

Hello Kitty is not a cat. You may have known that; somehow, I missed it.

You May Have Something Extremely Valuable Hiding In Your Change.

Improved names for everyday things


I wrote this blog post about my ambivalence about blogging on the Times Union website. J. Eric Smith, who used to be a TU blogger, responds at length.

SamuraiFrog responds to my response to 16 Habits of Sensitive People. Also, per moi, he does his #1 songs on his birthday: 1987-1996 and 1997-2006, and 2007-2013. I’ll go back to this myself, eventually.

Dustbury on the theme song to My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic, which a passage in Schutte’s Mass resembles more than slightly. He discovers a Singapore McDonalds product.

Jaquandor answers my questions about vices such as swearing and politics/American exceptionalism.

He also writes of buckets and the dumping of the water therein, which Gordon thinks hurts nonprofits. Snopes, BTW, debunks the claim that 73 percent of donations to the ALS Association fund executive salaries and overhead.

Do you know that ABC Wednesday meme I mention with a great amount of regularity? I think this recent introduction I wrote explains it fairly well.

Slacktivism against ALS

What’s the difference between the ice bucket challenge and going on a walk to alleviate hunger (which I’ve done)?

the_als_challenge_540There’s this guy in North Carolina named Chris Rosati with ALS, known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, who handed out donuts to folks at schools, children’s hospitals, and cancer wards. He wanted to inspire kids to come up with BIGG ideas of generosity. And he has succeeded in spreading an epidemic of kindness. As Steve Hartmann of CBS news put it: “A lot of people take on a cause when diagnosed with a terminal illness, but it’s usually to cure their own disease. Rosati, on the other hand, isn’t as interested in fighting ALS as he is in healing all of us.”

This has colored my reaction to that ice bucket challenge for ALS. On one hand, it’s silly; on the other, it obviously works. From Forbes: “Have you ever “been to a big-ticket charity gala? Seen the big shots competing for auction items? Visited a local hospital or museum and noticed the wing named for well-known local philanthropist I.M. Arichguy? Watched the main stage at the Clinton Global Initiative? Heard of corporate philanthropy? And so on.

“Narcissism is part of public philanthropy, though it may be too harsh a word. Enlightened self-interest is better – because it’s not just showing off.”

I think the cries of slacktivism from those who consider the ice bucket challenge no more than a waste of good water – there’s a drought in California! – rather miss the point.

I mean, what’s the difference between the ice bucket challenge and going on a walk to alleviate hunger (which I’ve done), or running to fight for breast cancer, or bicycling to take on some other cause? The ice bucket challenge is faster!

Some of the videos are even clever, such as THIS ONE. I AM sympathetic to the observations by local news anchor John Gray that some of the videos could have been better; his mother died from ALS. But even he ultimately applauds the effort.

This is true: the amount of money contributed to charities to fight diseases is not necessarily proportional to how many people have the disease, or how much they suffer. It is a matter of visibility; right now, ALS has got it.

I knew a guy named Robin for a number of years who developed ALS and has since died. He was a gutsy guy, using the latest technology to communicate, involving looking at letters attached to some voice-recognition software. But it’s a bastard of a disease, and if it can be eliminated, I’m all for it.
Ironically, the co-founder of “ALS Ice Bucket Challenge” drown at age 27.

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