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There is only one success--to be able to spend your life in your own way.-Christopher Morley
I'm Kindled and Avatar
By David
Posted January 3, 2010

I'm Kindled

Over the past week, Iíve become the proud new owner of the Kindle, which is a thin, flat rectangular electronic device, about 8 inches high by 5 inches wide, that can download books from Amazon.com.

The Kindle resembles a small tablet, which displays the downloaded books in a way that is reminiscent of a paperback. It can store about 1,500 books, show the typeface at any size you want, and weighs just a few ounces so, as a new user, Iím impressed.

As some of you may recall, I typically head to the gym a couple of times each week. To fight the boredom of my exercise routine, Iíve tried listening to an iPod, watching the gym's TV and, lately, even reading novels. Whatever works. But balancing a book on gym equipment is not an easy task. Turning the pages becomes a challenge to fit each half of the book into the thin rails of the machine, and as I battle my inclination to jump off the machine, stop exercising and go order a pizza, Iím not looking for more challenges from the book-holder. Enter the Kindle. It fits into the railings with no problem, and instead of turning pages, you just click a button and the next page appears on the screen. Book balancing problem solved.

Of course, the Kindle isn't exactly a brand new product. It was introduced at the end of 2007. Ironically, even though my business relates to new technology, Iím usually late to purchase new electronics -- at least later than most of my friends. Better late than never...

The best production that money can buy
The best production that money can buy

Avatar

Since my children were born, virtually every movie Iíve seen in a theater has been a childrenís movie. Itís incredibly rare that I manage to go out to see a movie that is rated anything other than G in a theater. Instead, I just watch Movies On Demand on cable, which is pretty convenient, but I wind up seeing movies several months after their release.

Yesterday, however, I headed out with the Good Boy to see Avatar in IMAX 3D. He was thrilled to go see a ďbig boyĒ movie with his dad, and without "the girls." After seeing the previews in which US Marines and space aliens blast each other with various super-sized weapons, it was decided that this is of no interest to girls, and that itís only a "boys' movie." Right on...

Itís Sunday morning, and instead of sipping my coffee leisurely in bed, I am greeted by the Good Boy. Heís excited about it being not just a typical Sunday, but Avatar Day.

The plan is to make it to the 10:45am showing of Avatar in IMAX 3D, in the hopes of avoiding the sleepy and hung-over masses whom we mistakenly believe will only reach the theater for the later showtimes.

We arrive at the theater by 10am, purchase tickets and head to the concession where we purchase vastly overpriced but delicious junk food. We head into the theater and are able to get great seats. After all, the whole reason for going to the theater is to enjoy the visuals and sound system, and our timeliness is rewarded. Ultimately, the movie is sold out. Every seat is taken, except for the ones reserved for our pop-corn, nachos, and candy.

Including marketing costs, Avatar is a half-billion dollar production by director James Cameron. Yes, thatís billion with a Ďbí and yes, weíre talking about a movie, not an Obama social spending plan.

As one could expect from such a price tag, the movie is beautiful to watch. The plot is not among the greatest of all time, but it flows well and doesnít detract from the movieís enjoyment.

Avatar is an environmentalist tale set in the future when man can travel further into space. It is set on a distant moon-planet, which is inhabited by a plethora of wildlife and tropical forest plants and trees. It is also inhabited by a race of giant blue creatures called the Naívi People. They resemble a cross between upright-walking cats and monkeys. They are strong, nimble creatures who live in communities centered around large trees, and they hunt with bow and arrow. The Naívi have sacred grounds and are generally meant to represent native American Indians in their spiritual connection to the earth, trees, and all living creatures.

The bad guys are the humans, sent by an evil corporation (representing bad, environmentally insensitive capitalism) and evil US Marines, which are all too eager to kill the Naívi People with powerful weapons. The bad guys want to destroy the scared trees and evict the Naívi from their land, which happens to be situated atop a rich deposit of exotic metallic ore which resembles dog poop (really).

Humans canít breath the planetís air easily, so they mixed human DNA with Naívi DNA to create Naívi-looking bodies remotely operated by humans. The bodies are referred to as "Avatars," hence the name of the movie.

The hero is an Avatar who learns the ways of the Naívi and falls in love with their culture and with one of their females. She's the blue one in the photo.

*** Spoiler Alert: Stop here if you havenít yet seen the movie ***
Our hero leads a military resistance against the evil Corporation and drives the bad guys off the planet.
*** OK. End of Spoiler Alert. Continue reading ***

The main greatness of the movie is in the beautiful world of nature on the alien planet. The special effects teams have really earned their keep with colorful, detailed animation. The planet is often viewed from the vantage point of flying on the back of a giant bird-like creature which glides through the air. The backdrop is a better computer-generated world than found in any other movie or video game, and the visual experience alone is worth the price of admission.

The Good Boy and I thoroughly enjoyed the movie. When I think of it, I realize that this was the first time that we are together enjoying the same grownup movie. He's now just a few months away from his ninth birthday and he's a good-natured, happy boy who makes for good company.

His excitement at seeing a great movie and his eagerness to hold my hand when walking through the busy parking lot are as real as it gets. Even though kids don't yet have a sense of how quickly things change forever, they seem to sense that their time with their parents as young people is limited and they make the most of it. These are not emotions marred by having adult-level worries or responsibilities, or even teenage angst. It's so nice to see.

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