Movie: The Fourth Noble Truth

Nice movie, not on DVD yet, you can only watch it on Amazon. The trailer is misleading, this movie isn’t a romantic comedy.  There is very little sex and romance in it.

A jaded action movie star with anger issues by benefit of his fame is sentenced to meditation lessons, in lieu of jail.  He doesn’t it take it seriously, but the teacher does. In the process she gives him and the audience a small, painless introduction to Buddhism.

This movie is great for people who are curious what Buddhism is about, but who aren’t ready to read a book yet or otherwise go deeper than an enjoyable movie.

The bits of Buddhism presented and the story are down to Earth which any human struggling with life can relate to.

The Big Bang Theory

The cast of "The Big Bang Theory"
The cast of “The Big Bang Theory”

I recently started watching “The Big Bang Theory” and after seeing 3 of the 7 seasons so far I have to say it is one of my new favorite distractions.

It is funny. All else is commentary. Now, for the commentary.

The story of the show is that the young blonde bombshell would be actress and Cheesecake Factory waitress Penny moves next door to an apartment shared by two super smart, super nerdy, young physicists.

The entertainment comes from the fly on the wall view of the subculture of the hyper smart, but socially awkward.

At first I thought this would be another run of the mill dumb situation comedy. Aside from the insipid ( and unnecessary ) laugh track, that is simply not true.

The first way that isn’t true is with the portrayal of the character Penny. As expected she plays “the straight man” to the comedy of the nerd culture she encounters. Refreshingly, the writers did not make her into yet another dumb blonde clown ( think of Suzanne Somers’ character in “Threes Company” after the first season ) whose sole purpose is decoration. Penny has a personality, a sense of humor, and is three dimensional. Penny is a *person*. I love how she doesn’t allow the put downs from the hyper-smart to effect her. She also gets her due when she turns the tables on them by creating humor out of their cognitive blind spots. I was also impressed that at one point she ends her relationship with Leonard because she sees that they do not have much to relate to each other on, but remains friends with the group. The writers made her character into something more than a mannequin who only exists for the male characters in the show.

My favorite character is Sheldon, who finished his education at 14 and is on his way to becoming one of the leading physicists in the world. He has very little sense of how to deal with people, he knows how smart he is, he is vocal about it and unapologetic about it. Despite being an extremely smart grown man he sees the world much the way an asexual 12 year old boy would. In reality such a person would be insufferable, but the writers of The Big Bang Theory make his character the source of much of the humor and even make him lovable. I especially like Sheldon’s childlike enthusiasm for physics and how it makes him refreshingly blind to many of the games people play. Sheldon doesn’t care who you are, you are considered as worthy of being heard until he decides you have nothing interesting or informative to tell him. One of my most favorite aspects of the show, hands down, is his inadvertent flirting with Leonard’s equally poorly socialized, super intelligent mother.

The character of Howard, the MIT educated engineer who builds equipment for NASA is also interesting. From the first moment you are introduced to him in the show you find yourself suppressing an urge to yell at your screen telling him to get a new haircut…any haircut. At the very least, make the bangs of his sugar bowl haircut even. I found him interesting because he seems very close to seeing things how a normal human being would and you think he could change. You yearn for him to walk into a barber shop, any barber shop, to get any kind rof eal haircut before he goes out to buy non-Sears buckaroo clothing and stop making the sleazy sexual innuendos that alienate him from women. His screaming mother, who the viewer never sees, is also classic.

All of the characters, aside from Sheldon, seem to be just around the corner from being “normal” socially. Like Penny, the writer’s have granted them a three dimensions instead of damming them to be the two dimensional pop stereotypes that inhabit American situation comedies.

This is especially true of the main character Leonard, who is the closest among the nerds to being a normal human being. His character is portrayed with a decent amount of humanity and you can’t help but root for his success with his on again, off again romance with Penny.

The show is reliably funny. I find myself laughing out loud consistently with every single episode.

Highly recommended :).


The Top 5 Underrated Sci-Fi Movie Masterpieces

Steven James Snyder, Techland’s resident movie geek, outlines the top 5 most under-rated sci-fi movies of all time. You can watch his video review here.

Here is his list, hyperlinked to the Internet Movie Database ( ):

  1. Silent Running ( 1972 )
  2. Gattaca ( 1994 )
  3. Serenity ( 2005 )
  4. Dark City ( 1998 )
  5. Primer ( 2004 )

I saw both Gattaca and Serenity and I can say that those movies deserve a place on that list