“Man of Steel”: Truth, justice and the Nietzschean way

If no movie like “Man of Steel” had ever been made before – an attempt to darken up a superhero legend with a little mythological depth, some cutting-edge cinematic skills and a whole bunch of action – then Zack Snyder’s brooding and seemingly endless 143-minute Superman reboot might feel like a breakthrough. (I guess the “Superman Returns” reboot from 2006 really didn’t take.) To be fair, “Man of Steel” has an idea behind it and superior production design, which puts it ahead of a whole bunch of Hollywood movies. Superman aficionados will no doubt find it suitably canonical, with an extended prologue set on the dying planet of Krypton, even if Superman’s classic uniform is now made of that inevitable nylon-mesh athletic fiber that supposed to suggest contemporary coolness (if you’re 12 years old and really into LeBron James).

But despite looking, feeling and (especially) sounding expensive – this is one of the loudest summer spectacles of recent years – “Man of Steel” is second-tier and third-generation Chris Nolan-flavored neo-superhero material. Nolan chose not to direct this film, but co-wrote the original story with David S. Goyer (who wrote the final screenplay) and is one of the producers. I feel at least some compassion for Snyder, a director of immense ambition and technical skill whose work has yielded intriguingly mixed results in “Sucker Punch,” “Watchmen,” “300” and other movies. Here he finds himself in the impossible position of trying to put his own stamp on material that feels a lot like “Dark Knight Lite,” while avoiding the impression of serving as Nolan’s surrogate or transcriber.

Unfortunately he can’t pull it off, and “Man of Steel” has all the Nolan-esque tics you expect, from the Leni Riefenstahl heroic extreme close-ups to the oversize muscles and proto-fascist (or flat-out fascist) iconography to the creepy-looking technology ripped off from “Alien” to the assaultive and incoherent action sequences that go on so long you yearn for death, or at least for deafness. In the best moments of the “Dark Knight” trilogy, Nolan made you feel like the movies captured a certain gloomy or cynical insight into human nature, and in particular into the cycles of corruption and delusion that drive human politics. But while Batman is an isolated and peculiar rich man with human failings, Superman is a godlike being from another galaxy, created to inhabit the infantile fantasy lives of young children. Any attempt to invest him with philosophical depth risks becoming moronic and/or offensive almost immediately.

Indeed, it feels as if the idea for “Man of Steel” emerged from a sultry afternoon meeting when Goyer and Nolan played air hockey and drank Mountain Dew for hours until one of them said, “Hey! Superman! Didn’t Nietzsche write a book about him?” When it intermittently pretends to be about something, “Man of Steel” tries to split the difference between the old DC Comics or TV serial Superman, a square-jawed dude devoted to “truth, justice and the American way,” and the entirely different Nietzschean concept of the Übermensch, which even scholars of philosophy have a tough time pinning down. Superman is beyond good and evil, but chooses the ideology of Americanism, out of the infinite options available to him, in order to placate the idiotic sheeple of our planet. Or something like that.

Back on Krypton before the whole place blows up, Superman’s dad Jor-El (a suitably grave and hirsute Russell Crowe) makes clear that he understands his infant son will be received as a god by the lesser beings of Earth, and will form a kind of mystical bridge between his own people and ours. (I hadn’t noticed until now how much the Superman story resembles Mormon theology, or Scientology.) Once the baby Kal-El lands in Kansas and becomes Clark Kent, his human dad (Kevin Costner, with hitched-up jeans and a bad haircut) keeps telling him that he will be a singular figure in human history, but that he needs to keep his remarkable gifts hidden until he can master his own will and understand his own mission. I don’t dispute that you can find stuff like this in previous iterations of the Superman story, but Goyer and Nolan are clearly drawing on Nietzsche’s idea of the superman or “overman” as a transcendent, transformative figure who will create a new set of values in the moral vacuum left behind by the death of God.

Bet you didn’t think we were going there in a review of a summer popcorn movie, did you? Yet at the same time there’s a profound confusion at work in “Man of Steel,” because Snyder, Goyer and Nolan also want to identify Superman with the last transformative, otherworldly dude to put in an appearance here, 2,000 or so years ago. In this telling, Clark bums around for most of his young adulthood, working odd jobs and stuff (though I guess he’s not actually a carpenter) before mastering his powers and unveiling the Superman persona at age 33, a fact mentioned several times. When the Kryptonian renegade General Zod (Michael Shannon, enjoyable as ever, with a goatee and a Roman-emperor haircut) shows up on Earth and demands the surrender of Kal-El, the adult Clark (Henry Cavill) goes to visit a priest or minister and tells him about his true identity. Just in case we haven’t gotten any of this so far, cinematographer Amir Mokri frames Cavill before a stained-glass window depicting You Know Who, I think preaching the Sermon on the Mount.

Christian iconography is nothing new in the Superman universe either – the Christopher Reeve movies were loaded with it – but my real point is that the organizing principle of “Man of Steel” seems to be a little bit of this and then a little bit of that, religion, philosophy, blah blah blah, and when things start to get dull let’s pump up the volume and fling some locomotives around. Following the lead of “Star Trek Into Darkness” and other recent summer spectacles, Snyder depicts an apocalyptic battle between Superman and Zod that inflicts planetary devastation on a scale hundreds of times larger than 9/11, with no real acknowledgment of death or suffering or moral consequences that might endanger the PG-13 rating.

Crowe, Costner and the diabolical Shannon (who seems to be channeling his own version of the Ricardo Montalban role in “Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan”) are by far the best things about the movie, managing to seem like recognizable humanoid types in this arid landscape. I also enjoyed Diane Lane as Clark’s Kansas mom, even if the role mainly involves beaming adoringly at her marvelous son. As Superman and Clark Kent, Cavill is a big, handsome and undeniably impressive slab of beef, genial enough but with no visible personality. Amy Adams, one of the best character actresses in American movies, can’t do much with intrepid reporter Lois Lane, perhaps the most boring of all boring female characters in the boy-centric world of comic books. (German actress Antje Traue is far more memorable, as General Zod’s smoldering and sinister gal sidekick.) But all these people pale before the impressive, monumental and supremely empty effects, along with the general mood of forced-march exhaustion and pointless effort.

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Holy Vexillologists! It’s Flag Day!

flags

Yes, it’s Flag Day, the legal holiday where Americans honor their flag. But how much do you really know about the Stars and Stripes?

Here are 10 facts about the flag, including some new vocabulary words and the location of five flags flying a long way from the United States.

1. The flag predates the Constitution.

The flag was authorized by the Continental Congress on June 14, 1777. The motion read, “Resolved that the flag of the thirteen United States be 13 stripes alternate red and white: that the union be 13 stars, white in a blue field, representing a new constellation.” The Constitution was written 10 years after that and ratified in 1789.

2. What’s the deal with Betsy Ross?

Historians are still debating Betsy’s role in designing the first flag, but she recounted that she was asked to sew the flag by her fellow churchgoer, George Washington. Ross had also done some seamstress work for Washington. You can read the debates online,  but here’s what the historic marker in front of her house says: “Credited with making the first stars and stripes flag, Ross was a successful upholsterer. She produced flags for the government for over 50 years. As a skilled artisan, Ross represents the many women who supported their families during the Revolution and early Republic.”

3. What exactly is a vexillologist?

A vexillologist is a flag expert. It’s a relatively new word, coming into use in 1959. According to the North American Vexillological Association, there are currently no degrees offered on the subject.

4. Who approves design changes in the flag?

Congress and the president have ordered design changes in the past to accommodate the addition of new states. President James Monroe and Congress agreed in 1818 that there should be 13 stripes as well as one star for each state in the Union.

5. Who decides the rules for flag etiquette?

It’s in the federal code as Chapter 1 of Title 4. The law also includes the approved text of the Pledge of Allegiance.

6. Where outside the United States can you see the flag continuously 24 hours a day?

There are five American flags flying on the moon, thanks to the Apollo astronauts. You may not be able to see markings on them, though; they have mostly likely turned white over the years.

7. Which flag had the snake on it?

You’ve probably seen the yellow flag with a coiled rattlesnake and the motto “Don’t Tread On Me.” This is theCHARLES BABINGTON, Associated Press Gadsden flag, named after its designer, General Christopher Gadsden. The flag was used in the Revolutionary War. There are other variations of the flag with rattlesnakes and versions of the motto. Benjamin Franklin was one of the originators of the snake as an American political symbol, in a famous 1754 political cartoon. Photo: CHARLES BABINGTON, Associated Press

8. Where was the first flag flown outside the U.S. in a military action?

It was first flown over the shores of Tripoli. The Marines were involved in military actions against the Barbary pirates and after they hit the shore, they raised the Stars and Stripes. After the Battle of Derne in 1805, the flag was raised on foreign soil for the first time after a battle.

9. What is Francis Scott Key’s flag connection?

Key witnessed the American flag flying after a British attack on Fort McHenry in Baltimore in 1814, while he was a guest on a British ship as he negotiated for the return of American prisoners. His experience inspired him to write a poem, “Defence of Fort McHenry.” After it was published, Key matched it up with music from a popular British tune, which eventually became “The Star-Spangled Banner,” our national anthem. By the way, if “vexillology” wasn’t enough fun, here’s another one: the act of adding new lyrics to an existing song is called “contrafactum.”

10. What’s the biggest American flag?

It’s so big you can’t fly it, but the “Superflag” conceived of by the late Thomas Demski measures 505 by 225 feet and weighs 3,000 pounds. It takes 600 people to unfurl. Each star is 17 feet high. Bonus fact: The National Constitution Center in Philadelphia has its own giant American flag on display in its Grand Hall Overlook, surrounded by the flags of all the U.S. states and territories and with the iconic Independence Hall in the background. The flag has flown over the capitals of all 50 states and was hung by Muhammad Ali in a special Flag Day ceremony on June 14, 2003, when the museum opened. Photo of Constitution Center flag folding by Tom Gralish / Staff.

Exercise and Cellulite

When Mike turned 65, he was 25 pounds overweight. By strict dieting, he shed the extra pounds, but he lost more weight; he also lost his energy and vitality. He was always exhausted, and his friends, seeing his gaunt, drawn face, worried about his health.

By the time volunteered for a particular fitness program two years later, he had put 25 extra pounds back on. After 6 months of exercise and some willpower at the dinner table, Mike slimmed down again. This time he felt better than he ever had, brimming with energy and glowing with good health.

What made the difference? The first time Mike lost weight; the second time he lost fat. The distinction is important. According to research, a large portion of the weight lost by dieting alone is active tissue, such as muscle and connective tissue, while a smaller fraction is excess fat. Exercise has the opposite effect. It increased his lean body mass and decreased his excess fat.

Same thing goes with cellulite. Most people tend to think that cellulites are only present to people who are obese. That is why they sometimes associate cellulite with fats and obesity.

Actually, even if cellulite refers to the chain of wrinkled “fat cells” and “subcutaneous connective tissues” beneath the layer of the skin, it should never be associated with people who are fat or obese. In fact, there are many people who have cellulite but are not fat at all.

In reality, nobody knows the main reason why some people accumulate cellulite. However, there are some factors that health experts are considering such as the structure of the fat cells or the poison that entered the body. Some experts say it may be caused by some hormonal changes in the body. But none of these things has been proven to cause cellulites.

However, the only main reason why most of the cellulite cases are abundant in women is that the connective tissues of women are more rigid and firm than men. Hence, whenever a woman gets fat, the fatty cells tend to swell and get bigger. It creates a protruding appearance to the skin producing an “orange peel” look.

For this reason, women are more prone to cellulite than men. That is why it is important for women to be more careful on their body as they have higher chances of accumulating cellulite.

Fats and Cellulite

With the many cases of obese people having cellulites in their body, most of them believed that their cellulites are caused by being too fat.

Even though not all those who are obese develop cellulites, being overweight can really trigger the development of cellulites. This is because too much fat under the skin tend to push the connective tissue creating a strain on the skin. Thus, cellulites form.

However, this is still dependent on the structure of the cells. If an individual’s cell structure does not inhibit the tendency to bulge or expand even if fat deposits accumulate, then there will be no cellulites.

So, the most important thing to remember here is to keep those connective tissues firm and strong and avoid accumulating excess fats so as to avoid the development of cellulite.

How? Start an exercise routine program.

Transforming food into fat seems all too easy for most of us. Losing fat is far more difficult, and to accomplish this, we have only three alternatives: (1) decrease food intake and keep activity constant; (2) increase activity and keep food intake constant; or (3) combine both approaches: diet and exercise.

Physical activity can help reverse the results of inactivity. An hour of vigorous exercise burns up 300 to 600 calories. If you also cut 300 to 500 calories from your daily menu, you can also lose weight at the rate of one to two pounds a week.

Without exercise, you would have to eat 500 to 1,000 fewer calories a day to lose the same number of pounds in a week. Exercise is not for everyone who is over-fat, however. The severely obese person should exercise only under medical supervision to prevent strain on the cardiovascular system and connective tissue. And no one should restrict food intake drastically without consulting doctor.

Resorting to this kind of activity will only get the matter worse. Remember what happened to Mike? He thought that when he started dieting, he would eventually lose all the excess fats he has accumulated. The problem is that he lost those connective tissues rather than excess fat.

For people who are prone to cellulites, this will be a greater problem. Losing connective tissues instead of fat by strict dieting can only make the skin more prone to greater problems but the fat cells are still there. That only means that the problem is not solved at all.

Hence, if you wish to loose those cellulites, it would be better to loose those fats first. The idea here is to burn those fats by increasing your metabolism by 7.5% to 28% more than your normal rate.

It is for this reason that exercising is an important factor in losing cellulite. So for a more cellulite free body, always engage in an exercise routine.

‘300: Rise of an Empire’ Trailer Debuts Online

A trailer for 300: Rise of an Empire, the follow-up to 2006 action film 300, surfaced online Wednesday. Similar to its predecessor, Rise of an Empire is filmed in a graphic-novel style, and depicts mortal-turned-god Xerxes in his bid to overtake more territory.

A two-and-a-half minute trailer, above, reveals intense battle scenes between Xerxes (Rodrigo Santoro reprising his role in 300) and woman-warrior Artemisia (Eva Green of Casino Royale fame) against Greek general Themistocles (Sullivan Stapleton). The film is based on Frank Miller’s latest graphic novel, Xerxes.

Directed by Noam Murro, 300: Rise of an Empire is slated to hit theaters on March 7, 2014. Do you plan to watch it? Tell us in the comments, below.

 

 

Diet tips to kick start your weight loss

This is a tough time of year for people battling to keep control of their weight.

The burst of good resolutions from New Year has faded, and chocolate in every shape and form arrived in our homes for Easter.

Meanwhile the horrible thought of summer sun and struggling into skimpy swimming costumes looms.  So what can you do to keep motivation going?

Ultimately the key to successful weightloss is, in some shape or form, less calories in and more calories burned up with exercise.

Here are some ideas from TheHealthCounter.com to help:

Get out in the fresh air for a little every day

This will help in several ways to rev up your body. Spring sunlight on your skin will start to top up Vitamin D levels after the dark winter – this vitamin is essential for bone and muscle strength, and you will need it if you are going to be more active.

The clear Spring light also triggers signals in the retina of the eye that stimulate your pineal gland in your brain. This regulates production of the hormone melatonin by the gland, getting your body clock into order, clearing out winter cobwebs and putting you in a better mood to tackle your health issues.

Make a new start

Set a date to refresh your eating plans, or test out a new diet to see if it suits you (there’s lots to try) or join a weight loss scheme such as Weightwatchers.

But be rigorous – do it all properly, mark your efforts on a chart and count your points or calories carefully.

Time to try out a new activity or exercise regimen

As the weather improves outdoor sports regain their appeal so explore new areas on your bike or get along to your local club to have a go at sports like rowing, tennis or climbing.

See if High Intensity Training works for you

Experts now think that just a few minutes each day of running, cross training or cycling at full pelt for about 60 seconds at a time to the point where you are uncomfortably out of breath with your heart rate around 90% of max, are enough to shake your metabolism into a higher gear.  Check first with your doctor especially if you have heart problems.

3 simple exercises for a flat tummy

 

Want that enviable washboard ab? Practicing these moves regularly will help you

 

Don’t want to end up injured or exhausted? Don’t overdo things on the workout front. Instead, aim for a brisk 20-minute walk every day to burn fat, plus do the following exercises to help tone your abdominal muscles.

 

Bicycle crunch: Lie down with your back pressed onto the floor. Bring your hands behind your head. Starting with your legs bent at a 45-degree angle, bring the right knee into the chest while straightening out your left leg. At the same time, rotate your top half so your left elbow goes to your right knee, then switch to the other side. Repeat for one minute,three times a day.

 

The boat: Sit on the floor, with your knees bent and feet flat and tilt back, extending your legs so your body forms a right angle. Pull your abs in to balance. Extend your arms at shoulder height past your knees. Hold for five slow breaths and return to your starting position. Repeat five times a day.

 

The plank: Lie face down then lift yourself up on to your toes and forearms, with your elbows bent at 90 degrees. Keeping your core muscles -— your stomach and bottom — tight and your legs straight, hold for 10 seconds. Repeat three times a day, gradually building to 40 seconds each.

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BEAUTY TIPS: 10 QUICK BEAUTY FIXES

Everyone of us had the situation when we were running late to the meeting, finishing final make touches and suddenly mascara smudged, or your blush landed on the wrong place just before you need to run out of the door…
In today’s article lets talk about 10 beauty tips and quick beauty fixes that you can use to rescue your beauty meltdowns:
1) If you’ve applied too much blush and you don’t have time to wash it off and do your makeup all over again, take a clean blush brush, deep it into your fixing (or translucent) powder and go over your cheeks till you tone down the bright color on your cheeks. If you used a cream blush, blend your moisturizer with foundation on the back of your hand and blend it lightly onto your cheeks, like this you will calm down the bright cheek color.
2) If you look in the mirror and notice that your foundation became cakey, try this: lightly spray your face with water and then smooth out everything with a damp sponge, blending very well all the edges.
3) To make your lipstick last longer, first line your lips with the lip pencil of the same color as your lipstick, then apply your lipstick and blot it down with paper and, finally, powder your lips. Repeat one more time all the steps and you will get “bullet proof” lip color that will last you through the 3 course dinner!
4) When your mascara smudged at the wrong moment (when  you are in a hurry or late for the meeting) here is the fix: dip a flat q-tip into your moisturizer and gently remove the smudge off your face. Use the other side of the q-tip to smooth out the area.
5) Lip gloss is a wonderful beauty invention that can make your lips look juicy and very attractive! But lip glosses usually don’t have a long staying power. To prolong the juicy shine of your lip gloss on your lips try this: first apply a soft lip pencil of the same color as your lips, blend it well with your finger, and then only apply your lip gloss on top of it. The waxy texture of the lip pencil will help keep your lip gloss on your lips for longer. Who doesn’t love glossy and shiny lips?!
6) Your mascara got clumpy? No worries! Submerge your tightly closed tube of mascara into a glass of hot water (not boiling hot, just hot water) for couple of minutes. When you take it out (make sure you don’t burn your fingers!), you’ll see how your mascara softened and it won’t clump any more!
7) If your creamy eye shadow tends to crease, but you love it’s color and still want to use it, try this: after you’ve applied your cream eye shadow, lightly brush some translucent powder on top of it, it will help keep the shadow at place, working on the same principle of “fixer”, just as it does when you fix your foundation with translucent powder.
8) If your eyeliner tends to smudge (it’s especially relevant for girls with oily skin), try this tip: after you’ve applied your liquid or gel liner, go over it with a powder eye shadow of matching color (if you use black eyeliner – use black eye shadow). The eye shadow will seal the eyeliner, so that it will last longer without smudging.
9) Here is a great tip for a night out: if your lipstick looks flat and too matte, here is how you can “spice it up”: you can apply a lip gloss just at the center of your lips or you can apply a shimmery eye shadow at the center of your lips instead. Applying shiny eye shadow on top of your lipstick will make your lips look fuller and the powdery texture of an eye shadow will also significantly prolong the wear time.
10) If your lip gloss tends to slip off your lips in half an hour, try to mix your lip gloss with your lipstick on the back of your hand and then apply it on your lips using your finger or a lip brush, like this your lip color and shine will last longer.
I hope you found it useful. What are your favorite quick beauty fixers? Please, share your thoughts and ideas on the comment’s section below.
Stay pretty!