Dirty Words: We Don’t Need No Education

Graffiti taken at a parking garage in Reno, Nev. Photo copyright 2012 Paul George. Feel free to share, but please credit me for the picture.

As far as education goes, Nevada has been in a race to the bottom with Arizona for the last few years. As an article from The Huffington Post shows, we are far below average. A report by the National Education Association also shows a consistent pattern; Nevada continues to spend less and less money on education per capita and the results are an embarrassing education system.

But I was surprised as this little piece of graffiti I found next to my car in Reno, Nev.

Our children cannot even spell dirty words correctly. I’m not sure what “pusy” is, but this kid loves it!

By second grade, I could spell all of the good dirty words. But then, I was an excellent student and a young deviant.

If we are going to produce any new Paul Robert Cohens in our society, they are going to need a good education and, most importantly, learn to spell dirty words correctly.

Copyright 2012 Paul George

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The Hobbit – Peter Jackson’s Cash Grab

Poster for "The Hobbit"

“The Hobbit” will now be released as three films starting December 2012. Poster courtesy Warner Brothers and New Line Cinema.

J.R.R. Tolkien’s “The Hobbit” is a short novel aimed toward the young and the young at heart. Written in 1937, it is a brisk tale of a young hobbit who goes on a journey with the wizard Gandalf and a group of dwarves to save Middle Earth. Along his journey he meets ogres, elves, Gollum and the dragon Smog. Really that is the  story. And there is a ring.

I blame the ring. Seventeen years later, Tolkien produced the massive literary epic “The Lord of the Rings.” An epic so massive that it had to be published in three volumes. While “The Hobbit” is short and fun, “The Lord of the Rings” is Tolkien’s successful attempt to produce a epic with its own mythology. And the entire epic boils down to one basic story element, a young hobbit must travel to Mordor and toss the ring into a pit of lava.

Peter Jackson’s “The Lord of the Rings” trilogy manages to juggle many of the details of the novel into a great trilogy of movies. The books were long and detailed, so it was expected, if not required, that the films would be large in scope and great in length. Jackson even released longer versions of all three films on DVD and Blu-ray. I liked the long version a lot.

But then talk of filming “The Hobbit” started. After a lot of negotiating, Jackson returned as director. Many fans expressed enthusiasm over this decision. I did not. Originally director Guillermo del Toro was to direct the film. I thought this was a much better choice. For me, it was not a question of who was a better director. Both have produced enjoyable movies. However, based on “Pan’s Labyrinth” and “Hellboy 2,” I believe del Toro had an eye for whimsy and a wide-eyed sense of wonder that would make “The Hobbit” an adventure accessible to adults and children.

As soon as it was announced that “The Hobbit” would be divided into two full-length feature films, I began to have doubts about the movie. This was going to be big; too big for a story about a hobbit, a wizard and a group of dwarves. The the teaser trailer came out. Visually it was beautiful. But it looked like it should have been titled “Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings Part IV.” Based on the teaser, Jackson’s “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey” is so enslaved to his vision of “The Lord of the Rings” that I have trouble having any real excitement about it.

And then there’s an article published July 30, 2012 by Variety.

Jackson confirmed that he is making a third installment of “The Hobbit.” I have read the book many times. Given Jackson’s love of long screen times, I can’t imagine any installment being less than two and a half hours long. There is no artistic or narrative-based reason for stretching this short children’s story out to the length of an epic, released over a two-year period.

So that leaves the reason most decisions in Hollywood are made: Money! This third installment involved some hurdles, one of which must have included Jackson’s fee for directing a third film. Jackson, the writers and the producers stand to make a lot of extra money for assembling an entire movie out of extra footage. The studios, Warner Brothers and New Line Cinema, stand to make money by releasing the third installment as a tent pole summer film. To add injury, the movies are being filmed at 48 frames per second, which will most likely translate to a premium added to the ticket price to compensate for new projection equipment.

If Tolkien’s “The Hobbit” was a fun there-and-back adventure appealing to young readers, Jackson’s “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey” is a bloated three-film epic designed to alienate that same audience. As an adult who looked forward to the film, I’m exhausted just thinking about this project.

Copyright 2012 Paul George

The Echo: A Collection of Published Articles from 2009

These articles, in PDF format, represent my work as a freshman at Truckee Meadows Community College. They were published in the school’s student paper, The Echo throughout 2009.

The Echo is a student-run newspaper at Truckee Meadows Community College in Reno, Nevada.

I have lost a few of the articles I wrote and some of the dates are missing.

Many of these articles are single-source news articles and film reviews. I have provided additional comments under the link when I feel it is required. For example, there are editing errors that are not in my original submissions. Also, I did not write the headlines unless I state otherwise in my comments.

Published News Articles

NSF awards grant to TMCC (September 15, 2009)

My first published news article.

 Business competition offers money (September 29, 2009)

Front page! Above the crease!

Graffiti plagues Vista building (September 29, 2009)

TMCC to go to the dogs (October 6, 2009)

 Alumnus to talk about filmmaking (October 13, 2009)

Author of ‘My Hope for Peace’ to visit TMCC (October 13, 2009)

This is really a book review, but it served as an advance for an upcoming speech at TMCC in 2009.

Fitness walk set Nov. 7 (October 20, 2009)

‘Dogtober’ has fair turnout (October 27, 2009)

This article represents my first try at covering an advance and then the follow-up. It was also the first time I took pictures for an article. The pictures are not shown here, but I will post them soon.

Pet owners can learn CPR (date unknown)

This was an article I pocketed because I knew I would run short on stories the week after Dogtoberfest.

 Sadat: Education creates democracy (November 10, 2009)

Cities promote green living (November 17, 2009)

Editing note: The first word of this article should be “Government.” My original submission was correct. This is a printing error.

This was my final for the class, which focused on finding multiple sources.

Published Reviews

 Pandora’s Box, worth opening (Pandora.com review, April 21, 2009)

This review of the free music website is clunky, but was a good exercise. I seem to spend more time promoting my musical tastes instead of explaining how the service works.

‘Frost/Nixon’ teaches but fails to inspire (March 3, 2009)

My last paragraph is cut off due to an error in the editing process after I submitted the article. I did not fall asleep at my computer. A bit too long for a film review, but I stand by my opinion.

‘Inglourious Basterds’ not history but OK entertainment (September 2009)

Hell is a teenage girl (“Jennifer’s Body” review, September 29, 2009)

Zombieland, so funny it’s horrific (October 6, 2009)

 It’s joyless (“Where the Wild Things Are” review, October 20, 2009)

My negative review of this film was published next to a review that loved the film. It was an interesting contrast, but I stand by my review. I watched the film again about a year ago, thinking I was perhaps a bit harsh toward Spike Jonze’s approach. It turns out I was being nice the first time!

 ‘Vampire’s Assistant’ Ok for 13 year olds (“Cirque du Freak: The Vampire’s Assistant” review, October 27, 2009)

This is one of those films no one remembers and for good reason.

‘2012’ is cinematic junk food (date unknown, but most likely November 17, 2009)

I have always wanted to be a movie critic. As a child I would watch Gene Siskel and Roger Ebert talk about movies and thought they had the greatest job in the world. Critics get to watch movies and then get paid to write about them.

I would still love to do this.

However, like many people, I always thought that many negative reviews were being a bit smug or elitist. After all, can’t a film just be fun to watch? After “2012,” I began to understand that, yes; critics enjoy making clever quips about bad movies. However, this is because the film was worthy of such derision.

 ‘Badass’ = Great history (date unknown, late 2009)

"Badass" by Ben ThompsonThis is a book review of Ben Thompson’s book “Badass.”