Lightning A-Salt

Our day care does 'Parents Night Out' once a month or so, and tonight was the night. We went out to see Salt; I'm not sure, but it might be the first time I've seen a movie on opening night. I've done opening day matinees maybe a dozen times, but it might be the first night.

In any event, it was a weird movie. Cohesion just wasn't there. The story didn't flow, they jumped from place to place... It just wasn't very good.

Close to the beginning, she's at the Rink Oil building (I didn't notice any of the surrounding buildings), but it was supposed to be a CIA front. Just as she's about to leave, she and a co-worker are called back in to interview a suspicious person. They do so; at the end, as shown in commercials, she's called a double-agent. She escapes the building after quite a bit of work (incidentally, at one point she pulls her panties off, and puts them over a security camera. I wonder what they would have done if Tom Cruise (originally slated for the lead) had remained in the cast), and is shown leaving the Hoover Building. Leaving aside that she hadn't started there, the CIA does not work within the FBI's headquarters.

She gets back to her apartment via taxi before the CIA can get there. That, in itself, is a little bit odd. Her directions to the cabby implied that she was already on U St, which is a minimum of 20 blocks from the building. She gets what she needs, and evades the CIA following her. They spot her outside less than a block away, though, and she takes off running. She beats them (running) to a metro stop that's about 2-3 blocks from the Hoover Bldg. What's more, she goes in that stop, and comes out of the Metro at L'Enfant Plaza, which would be fine if she'd gotten on a train (except that getting on a train would have taken way too long).

They catch her, and she gets away from the six or eight people who are all training guns on her. Yes, she only had to move ten or twelve feet, but in that space she needed to stand up, turn around, and jump. And she could do that before any of those people could pull a trigger? A sixty-year old with bad reflexes should have at least gotten a shot off in that amount of time.

And then it got even more ridiculous from there.

Ok, those are mostly continuity issues. Obviously, it was very weak in that department. I will say that the acting was excellent. Unfortunately, that wasn't enough to save the movie.

Plus, even the initial premise was weak. This man comes in to the CIA (ignoring for a moment that he went to a building that was a front; if someone does that, I'm sure they would never admit to being what they are. I'm sure they'd tell him to get lost, that he was in the wrong location. Anyway, what he ends up doing is activating her as an agent (plus there was another side to it). That's interesting, except that he told the US government what he was getting her to do.

They weren't sure whether to believe him, and we, as viewers, find it unlikely. After all, she's supposed to be the hero, right? But he is. Now, if that's what you're doing, don't you think you could find a better way that doesn't involve warning the people who are charged with stopping you? Doesn't that seem at least a tad unwise?
There are one or two other issues, but I'd have to give even bigger spoilers to discuss that. So I'll forbear, at least for the moment.

So, I guess it depends, if you're truly looking for mindless popcorn fare, this is it. But I really can't say as this movie has much of anything to recommend it. Angelina Jolie doesn't even look as good as she normally does. How the hell do you screw that up?

Oh yeah. I forgot. They also had a scene where Salt commits a federal crime by revealing that she's a CIA operative. Not only that, but the person to whom she reveals this isn't even an American. That's not a good way to go about maintaining a security clearance.

Update:The scene near the beginning where Orlov is introduced makes for a great game with the viewer, but from the perspective of an agent, it just makes no sense. In fact, not only does it warn the target, but it also blows the cover that you've spent twenty years creating. Stupid, stupid, stupid. Again, it just makes no sense.


Sink or Swim?

I just ran across this article on drowning. As a parent, it's a bit disturbing (although not as much so as my daughter isn't old enough to swim yet).

But what really bothered me, in reading it, was realizing that back when I took my Red Cross Basic Rescue class (not sure if they still call it that), they only talked about ways to help someone drowning. The topic of recognizing if someone is drowning either never came up, or was talked about as something much closer to what the article describes it not being.


Fireworks Surprise

Happy surprise on the fourth, this year. Previous years, we'd had friends over for BBQ, then walked down to the Iwo Jima memorial (about a mile away). That made for a nice vantage for seeing the fireworks on the mall.

This year, however, since we moved, that just isn't feasible. We debated for a while on where we'd go, and how we'd get there. But having a good time, combined with our daughter going to bed, led us to decide to just watch the fireworks on TV. A couple of minutes after that started, however, we heard a couple of very large BOOMs (much too large for neighbors to be setting them off) out our front window.

We ran to the front of the house, to look out, and saw that the Country Club across the street was putting on quite a fireworks show. We walked out into the front yard, and proceeded to watch that show for the next half hour or so.

That was very cool. Even better, despite being close enough that we could hear the launching, as well as the explosions, our daughter didn't wake up. Yay!

We thought that was going to be the second thing that we'd be missing in the move, but it turns out that it got even better. Woot!


Finishing the Quarters

Another crazy day. The Germany-Argentina match, which I expected to be pretty wild, was actually quite tame. The Germans just put on a clinic, absolutely dismantling the Argentines. Klose got two goals, though he was far from being the most important player. Mueller and Oezil were again beasts. And Schweinsteiger, who I've been generally unimpressed with, even had a beautiful play to set up Friedrich for the third goal (he also assisted on Mueller's goal, though I can't say as he did anything special for that one).

Give credit to the Germans for playing fabulous defense, but Argentina just did not look like the same team that was romping through the tournament up to this point. They didn't appear to be enjoying playing (of course, giving up a goal three minutes in wouldn't help that), and had very few good passing sequences. Messi was his usual brilliant self, except that he didn't have his shot today (kind of like Podolsky in the Serbia game); I don't think he managed a shot on goal among the many he tried. He also didn't really have any help; nobody else had even a decent game for the Albiceleste.

Paraguay and Spain, on the other hand, was of a piece with yesterday's games. Two penalty kicks (one for each side) within a couple of minutes of each other. After one got called back for offsides, both were saved.

And Spain finally scored in the 80th or so minute when Paraguay was just too tired to maintain the pressure they'd applied up to that point. And even then it took a ball caroming off a post right to David Villa and him just barely putting it in (hitting one post and bouncing off to hit the inside of the other post.

While I expected Spain to win, I was still quite disappointed. Paraguay gave it their all, and really took Spain off its stride. They almost managed the upset, not being helped by a goal being disallowed on a very questionable offsides call.

Spain only got into their game after the goal was finally scored. They couldn't manage another goal, but their passes started connecting consistently. At that point, they looked very, very good. Their game against Germany will be very interesting, and Germany will definitely miss Mueller.

One thing I forgot to mention yesterday was that the Dutch are really screwed going forward. Right now, they're going to be missing two starters against Uruguay, and have eight players carrying yellow cards forward. Especially given how physical a team they are, if they do get by Uruguay (and I think they will, especially with Uruguay missing Suarez and Fucile), they're likely to be missing multiple players in the final.

Germany will also need to be careful, they're carrying six now. Uruguay and Spain, on the other hand, are generally ok, carrying only seven between the two.

It used to be (and I'm not sure when it changed) that yellow cards reset after the group stage. I wish they'd go back to that; the carryover makes it really hard to maintain tough defense over so many games.

Anyway, I had Netherlands and Argentina winning the next round, originally. Argentina being out, I'm going to go with Germany winning their game. Spain's definitely got the talent (heck, they've got the talent to win by a bunch), but they haven't been playing up to their talent so far. I imagine that Germany will look at the pressure that Paraguay applied, and see how well it worked, and try to do the same.


Wild World Cup Day

Man, after last weekend, I thought things would settle down, but both games today were kind of crazy.

I did predict the Dutch victory over Brazil, but again, it happened not at all the way I'd expected. The Lusos outplayed the Dutch badly for the first half, but had only one goal to show for it.

And in the second half, they just came unglued. Part of it, I think, was a continuation of their great frustration with the refs (which, incidentally, I don't really understand. The ref called a very good game, I thought, but the South Americans treated every call that went against them as if it were a mortal injustice). After the weird own goal equalized, Brazil just lost it for a while. The second goal was a very interesting one (I'd call it very pretty, but it was really more luck than skill), and the red card was well-deserved.

I probably would have gone crazy while watching the game, except that I watched it after recording it, and a coworker told me (without warning) that the Dutch won, so I knew what the final result was going to be.

Uruguay also moved on, as I expected, but man that was a wild end of the game. My jaw hit the floor after the second goal-line save not by a goalie, but it made a lot more sense after seeing the hand ball. I really can't say that justice was done, there; a deliberate hand ball to save a certain goal should not be a winning play.

I did love the Uruguayan goalie doing everything but kissing the crossbar (I think he would have done that, too, if he'd been a bit taller) in appreciation after that penalty kick.

I was happy to see Gyan somewhat atone for that gaffe with a beautiful shot in the shootout. Ghana really needs to work on its penalty kicks, though; two of them being saved in the shootout is completely inexcusable.

And Abreu's winning penalty kick? That was quite a metagaming shot. I've never seen a little chip shot like that on a penalty shot... The Uruguayan goaltender actually would have saved that, because he was reacting, rather than trying to predict, on the shots.

In any event, I'm now even more looking forward to Germany/Argentina tomorrow. I figured that would be the closest match of the four today and tomorrow, but I can't imagine it being closer than the two today. I just hope that Paraguay/Spain isn't a blowout. Then again, it might be good for my health if it is. If both games tomorrow are as wild as the ones today... I don't know what I'll do.