“Rush” Movie Review

WARNING: Spoilers ahead!

So, I just saw the Ron Howard movie Rush, which is based on the real-life story of the 1970s rivalry between Formula-One racecar drivers James Hunt from the UK and Niki Lauda from Austria. I have to say, going into it, I didn’t know what to expect. I went with my brother who is a film major, and his taste in movies usually differs from mine. But after having seen it, I have to say…I really liked it. It was fast-paced enough to keep it interesting, pithy enough to be amusing, and dramatic enough to ensure that the characters weren’t just 2-dimensional.

The film starts out with narrations from both Lauda and Hunt, detailing how they met and how their fierce rivalry began.

Hunt, played by Chris Hemsworth (Thor), is a brash, care-free playboy type who seems to have everything; wealth, good looks, women, and most importantly to him — popularity. Hunt is driven (no pun intended) by the love of his fans. He points out that the only thing he really knows how to do is drive racecars, and to live every moment as if it was his last.

Lauda, portrayed by Daniel Brühl (Inglorious Bastards) is very nearly the exact polar opposite from Hunt. Being all about business, all Lauda appears to care about is results, and he’s willing to go to whatever lengths are necessary to achieve them. Humorless, blunt, and determined, Lauda attracts little popularity with his anti-social demeanor, even among his team-mates. But it is his determination that puts him in the lead on the racetrack.

After coming in first-place in several races with Hunt coming in second, the world begins to recognize Lauda (who was initially thought to be a rank amateur who bought his way into the big leagues) and the spotlight shifts to him and away from Hunt. This change in publicity causes Hunt to lose his major sponsors, and essentially puts him out of work. After weeks of wallowing depression, drinking, and estranging himself from his wife and his family, Hunt is finally offered a deal and a chance to get back on the track. However, his relief is short-lived as the now hot-shot Lauda wins nearly every race, and even resorts to petty semantics (such as calling Hunt’s vehicle illegal). And as the months wind down to the Grand Prix, Lauda pulls further and further ahead in points leaving Hunt in the dust.

Then, as fate would have it, in a highly-debated race with dangerous conditions, Lauda’s car spins out and bursts into flames, leaving him with burns all over his body. Though seemingly at death’s door, Lauda returns to the racetrack a mere six weeks later to attempt to make up for lost time. It is here that the relationship between Lauda and Hunt begins to change. Hunt feels chiefly responsible for Lauda’s accident as he insisted the race that caused his injuries go forward despite Lauda’s own warning that the conditions were too dangerous to drive in. And a mutual respect is born out the initial rivalry between the two drivers. Lauda accepts Hunts apologies, but assures him that though he may be, in part, responsible for the accident that scarred him, he was also responsible for getting him back in the car. Lauda’s determination to finish the World Championship and settle the rivalry was the one thought that kept him going.

When the day of the Japanese Grand Prix arrives, Lauda only trails Hunt by 3 points. However, like the race that injured him, the track conditions are extremely dangerous with torrential rains and heavy winds, but the race goes ahead as scheduled because of the media coverage. Throughout the race, Hunt holds a consistent lead, despite a few close advances from Lauda. But after only two laps, Lauda concedes the race, stating that the championship title is not worth his life. He proudly watches Hunt cross the finish line and solidify his position as the World Racing Champion.

While celebrating his victory, Hunt encounters Lauda once more, who urges him to focus on the next season of racing. Hunts responds by expressing his desire to continue racing, but also that all the success in the world is worth nothing if you can’t celebrate it and have fun. In the end, both Lauda and Hunt had as much to learn about themselves as the other. Lauda finishes the film saying that Hunt had nothing more to prove to anybody and one of the few men he had come to respect.

Obviously, the main part of the film is about racing. The relationship between Lauda and Hunt is indeed secondary but as the movie progresses, that’s all right. The racing scenes are exciting and fast-paced, with several different perspectives, probably the most notable being the first race that Lauda participates in after his accident. And when he not only finishes that race, but comes in third-place (something no one expected him to do), there’s actually a genuine feeling of contentment among the audience — it’s almost one of those moments when you actually want to stand and applaud. The musical score (done by Hans Zimmer), also adds a great deal to the film. So, while this film may have been about the rivalry that put two men at odds, it’s also about the friendship and understanding born out of the initial mistrust and dislike they had for one another.

So, in summary, I thought Rush was a very good movie. The character development was solid, the acting was genuine, the racing was exciting, and the effects were quite impressive. I’d give this film a solid 7/10.

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Common Spelling & Grammar errors

All right! This has been nagging at me for a while. I realize I’m just one guy, but I need to do something. Just because it’s the Internet doesn’t mean that we need to slip into a general sense of laziness. So, I’m here to set the record straight regarding a few grammatical errors I’ve observed more than twice while browsing online. (*cough*Reddit!*cough*)

Let’s start with something simple: “Its” vs. “It’s”.

“Its” is a possessive pronoun. This form of the word is used when referring to something that someone or something has. A good example might be, “every dog has its day” or “the site needs to update its information.” This is what sets it apart from “it’s” because “it’s” is simply a contraction like “didn’t” or “let’s.” You use “it’s” when you want to say, “it is” or “it has”: “It’s mine!” or “It’s been a good day.”

So quite simply, if you want to talk about something that belongs to something or someone, i.e. – something possessive — use “its.” If you want to want to shorten “it is” or “it has,” use “it’s.”

Now, let’s work on “Then” vs. “Than.”

“Then” is time or sequenced-based. You use it when referring to events or things that happen. Example: “I’m going to the store then I’m going to go home,” or “I have to take out the trash then do the dishes.” Use an “e” when talking about one thing coming after another — Use an “a” in “than” when comparing something to something else. Example: “He is older than she is,” or “It is hotter now than it was an hour ago.”

Use “then” when talking about a sequence of events, and use “than” when comparing things to one another. I know they are homophones (sound alike, but they have different meanings), but it’s important to know the difference.

Moving on: “Your” vs. “You’re.”

This is simple and is probably more of a spelling issue, but it’s still important. “Your” implies ownership. Use it when talking about something that belongs to someone. Example: “This is your half,” or “I need to know where your house is.” Conversely, use “you’re” when you want to say, “you are.” Example: “You’re crazy!” or “When do you think you’re going to get here?”

Again, these are two homophones, but there’s a world of difference between stating ownership with “your” and combining “you are” with “you’re.”

This is a very common mistake: “There”, “They’re”, and “Their.”

“There” is obviously used when talking about location – “Tell me when you get there.” Easy enough, right? “They’re” is simply a contraction of “they are.” — “They’re going to go to a movie,” or “They’re about to close the store.” Like “your,” the usage of “their” implies ownership. Example: “That was your half…this is their half,” or “That’s mine, and this is theirs.”

Basically, “there” = location. “They’re” = “they are.” And “their” = ownership.

Finally, this is a confusing one. So I can understand why it’s often not used properly, but I’m going to do the best I can to explain their usage: “Less” vs. “Fewer.”

“Less” is used when whatever you’re referring to can’t be counted — for example: “There needs to be less furniture in here.” You can’t count furniture, and there’s no plural. So, when the subject of your sentence can’t be quantified, you use “less.” When the subject can be counted, or there are many of them, use “fewer” — “There needs to be less furniture in here…we need fewer chairs.” Chairs are furniture, but they’re separate objects. There are many chairs, so they can be counted.

However, there always seems to be lingering exceptions to the rules for these two words, and there are too many to list here. Basically, if you can’t count it and there’s no plural of the word, use “less,” and if it can be counted and there are several, use “fewer.”

No one ever said the English language was easy. Even for native speakers, it’s often difficult. But we also have to be diligent in our spelling. Just because the Internet offers a certain amount of anonymity, doesn’t mean we should become sloppy and careless in how we spell words. It just looks bad you say something like, “I’ll be they’re in 10 minutes,” or “Let me borrow you’re bike.” I realize these words sound the same as their counterparts, but we need to be watchful of how we write these words so that we make sense. Practice, practice, practice! You CAN do it if you put your mind it!

Autism – Relationships & Communication

  • What is Communication?

Communication is the verbal and non-verbal interaction between two or more individuals by which information is exchanged or transmitted. And it is not always easy. On the contrary, it can be very difficult. But without communication, no one would say anything to anybody, nobody would write anything for anyone to read, relationships would simply not exist. So for all the challenges of communication, it is a proven fact that without it, we would be truly lost.

  • Communication and Autism

For autistic people, communication can indeed be quite challenging. For many people who are on the autistic spectrum are unable to verbally communicate as most others are. To help with this, they employ the use of sophisticated devices, which speak for them based on general questions and statements they may encounter every day. For everyone else who communicates verbally, there are several tips and strategies to use to insure your message is not only conveyed, but is also understood.

Effective Communication

  • Eye Contact

Not everyone can do this and that’s all right, but one of the most basic facets of communication is eye contact. Even in the initial meeting of someone, if you can look them straight in the eye just once, it shows them you’re truly trying to form a relationship/have a conversation. Even if you can’t hold the eye contact for long, that’s really not a problem. Look at their forehead, or pick a point on a nearby wall and look at that. As long as you’re looking in their general direction, and occasionally make the eye contact during the course of the conversation, it will go better. And chances are, whoever you’re talking to will not hold eye contact for the entire talk either.

  • Putting Words to Expectations

One important part of putting words to expectations is not assuming anything. Do not assume whoever you’re conveying your expectation to is completely and 100% on the same page as you, or vice versa. If you don’t understand something, do not hesitate to ask for clarification. No one will mind, and it shows you’re doing to your best to pay attention. Autistic people often need things explained to them several times before they truly understand — This is natural, so don’t be ashamed if you don’t get it right away. Write it down if you need to.

Communication Etiquette

  • Interests & Topics

It’s fairly typical that many autistic people have one or two very specific interests; things they like or enjoy very much and are skilled at. Because of this, in conversation and other social situations, they will often make mention of their particular interests even if they have nothing or very little to do with the subject currently being discussed. As a result of this potentially awkward interaction, some autistic people will elect not to speak at all or very little because they feel they have nothing to contribute to the conversation. Or, conversely, they may speak a great deal without allowing anyone else to get a word in edgewise. The balance can very difficult to locate, but it is possible.

  • Observation

The first thing you need to take note of is: what is everyone else talking about? It is not only potentially awkward, but also socially bad form to interrupt a conversation and begin interjecting your opinions and topics with no prior warning. Listen, and gauge the conversation until you can find an “entry point.” If none presents itself, do try and interact with others even if the topic at hand does not particularly interest you. Ask general questions, or attempt to find a suitable segue to shift the topic toward one you feel comfortable discussing. Just make sure you keep it long enough to be interesting but brief enough so you don’t completely dominate the conversation. Your opinions matter, but so does everyone else’s. Once you have your say, let them have theirs. This is especially important in a relationship where communication is a give-and-take. If nothing is given/taken, both parties will no longer wish to converse with one another.

  • Participation

On the other hand, it’s possible that some autistic people may not wish to communicate at all, or are unable to. While we encourage interaction and communication in the effort to form relationships, we do not demand it. Such an expectation can be unfair and even unreasonable to some on the autistic spectrum. We must all learn to communicate and interact with others at our own pace. But it is recommended that you take steps to try and engage others in some form of communication. Don’t rush it, but don’t get left behind either. There are many amazing pieces of technology out there for people who are unable to verbally communicate. These devices can allow many autistic people to interact with friends, colleagues, and peers in ways that are just as efficient (if not more-so) as verbal communication.

On Being Understood

Conflicts abound when we are not understood in daily interaction. When we say or do something that is interpreted as something else entirely by another, very little is accomplished. That is why it’s important to not only comprehend what is being said or done, but to truly understand it. And several factors contribute to this. Tone, volume, facial cues and body language, even preconceived notions on the part of one or more parties involved.

  • Tone

Tone matters in conversational interaction. No matter what the situation or whomever you’re talking to — striking the proper tone will help immensely. If your tone is flat and boring, no one will want to listen to you, but if it’s overly excited/boisterous, you’ll have a difficult time getting anyone to take you seriously. Of course it can also depend on your situation. Obviously, you don’t want to sound depressed and sad in a humorous environment, or vice versa. If in the course of a conversation, you become angry or agitated, it’s important to realize, especially in or when attempting to form a relationship, to not allow your frustration or anxiety to dominate the situation. It’s all right if you happen to become agitated, just try to keep a cool head about you to resolve whatever the issue is before it becomes enflamed. Again, tonal control is important.

  • Volume

Volume or how loud or soft your voice is, is also something to keep aware of. Going hand-in-hand with this is your environment. If you happen to be a public place with many people, keeping a lower, civilized volume of voice about you is acceptable. If the room happens to be filled with many people all talking over each other, it may become necessary to speak louder. Volume also implies how much “authority” you wish to display in any situation. In a scenario where you must issue or expectations, a louder, and perhaps more confidant approach would be recommended. Speaking with a quiet voice in a situation that requires a firmer approach is impractical. A prime example of this would be attempting to manage small children. They are taught from early ages to listen intently to authority figures. You do not have to be overly strict or demanding with them, just keep them reminded that of what is acceptable by communicating it in a firm but encouraging manner.

  • Body Language

Facial expressions and body language help people to really understand the nature of your message and your mood. When we interact with others, we unconsciously move our bodies in such a way as to imply the meaning of our message. If we’re happy we tend to make grand gestures and smile a lot. If we’re upset we tend to frown or keep a neutral expression while slouching somewhat. And if we’re nervous we tend to fidget. All these actions are clues to how someone is feeling. The issue that many people with autism have is not being aware when concepts like sarcasm are being used. When someone is kidding or joking, there is usually joviality about him or her that one is able to spot: a wide grin, or perhaps a wink. Keep a look out for cues that may suggest whether someone is being serious or not. And if all else fails, ask. It never hurts to make sure.

  • Judgments

One other thing that matters a great deal in communication and has the potential to lead to misunderstandings and conflicts are our preconceived notions about things, and indeed about people. Autistic people tend to make very fast judgments about others they may encounter based on appearance, attitude, habits, and/or behavior. For most neurotypicals, the impressions formed about strangers tend to change over time once they get to know the people they’ve met. It may take considerably longer for people with autism as it sometimes very difficult to part with that initial conclusion. But observe and try to look beyond the exterior to discover who someone is underneath. This is a baseline for forming relationships.

  • We must also all be aware of the perceptions we hold about the world in general. When something doesn’t fit with our supposed comprehension, we tend to argue the point. Debates are all fine and good of course, but people with autism usually live with very precise notions that are comfortable when they do not change. When those notions are challenged or called into question, confusion, apprehension, and sometimes frustration can occur. It’s important to keep cool heads and behave rationally. Discuss your issues calmly and fairly. It is likely you will reach a suitable solution for all involved.
  • Conclusion

Communication is more than just words. It is intent, actions, perception, and most importantly understanding. Autism indeed has a notable effect on how communication between two or more people works. Some people with autism are unable to verbally communicate, but with the use of audio devices that are used in lieu of speaking, it becomes possible. For those who are able to communicate verbally but are either too shy or too embarrassed to do so, we hope we’ve given you some things to think about and some strategies to employ in your future conversations with friends, colleagues, and any other people with whom you wish to form a meaningful relationship with. Relationships are perhaps as complicated as communication itself, if not more so. No one is a mind reader, so we must do all we can to make our purpose clear and our message understood so as to avoid unnecessary conflicts. The better the relationship, the easier it will be to communicate.

Autism – Self-Determination

Self-Determination – “Free choice of one’s own acts or states without external compulsion.”

This is how Webster’s Dictionary defines the concept of self-determination. And it is a concept that autistic people need to seriously take to heart. We live in a world of convenience — convenience, that when disrupted, becomes a problem. We, as humans, do not generally like problems. So that is why it’s so crucially important, after learning you’ve been diagnosed as autistic, that you make it a priority to learn how to stick up and advocate for yourself. Taking yourself seriously is the first step to making other people take you seriously as well.

Learning how to navigate the choppy and often time treacherous waters of human interaction and interpersonal communication is important. And no one is saying it will be easy. On the contrary, it will be difficult, but that is another part of self-determination — not backing down when the going gets tough. When you don’t back down, and instead show confidence in yourself and in your Autism, you show people that you are not afraid to stand up for what you believe in.

Let’s take the definition one bit at a time. Firstly: “Free choice.” Obviously, free choice means free will, emphasizing the importance of self. Free will means you are not subject to the will of another. Thusly, it remains up to you to choose how you will let your Autism affect your life. And it will affect your life, but how much is for you to determine. There will be “external compulsions,” (more on that later) advice from others along the way, and situations, which may seem confusing, but in the end, you’re the primary decision maker. You can allow Autism consume and dominate your life, or you can choose to master it and use it to your advantage. There really are several positives to being autistic. Keep them in mind going forward. Autism is a part of your life, but it can’t define YOU…you must define IT.

This is not to say that you mustn’t or can’t allow your Autism to play a significant role in your life. After all, it is a part of you, and you have to consider it in all your future endeavors. Merely that it is one part of you, amongst many other qualities that make you who you are…that make you unique from anyone else in the world. As such, combine all those factors, including your Autism, to make an informed and intelligent decision regarding all your actions.

Secondly: “One’s own acts or states.” This is the most important part of self-determination. And perhaps one of the most valuable life lessons anyone, whether they’re autistic or not, will learn. We must all take responsibility for our own actions. Mistakes will be made, that is what it means to be human. But we have to learn from those mistakes first, before doing anything else. To casually disregard them, or even worse, blame them on something else (including Autism), is not an acceptable practice. At some point, we all do things we regret — this is entirely natural. But the difference is, when you have Autism, you may not realize the mistake you’ve made until much later. So…let’s say you’ve just a mistake. What do you do about it now?

It’s important to remember, that these are usually two-sided situations. Because of your Autism, certain things may not become immediately apparent. It is up to you to learn to notice certain social cues/reactions among others, not just yourself. For example, you’re telling a joke or relating an anecdote that you think is particularly funny. Is everyone else smiling and laughing? Do they look annoyed? Uncomfortable? Bored? Pay attention to your audience. Just because you enjoy something, doesn’t mean everyone else will too. It will take you a while to get used to your environment and realize what is and is not acceptable in daily conversation. Just remember to consider your audience. And if you do end up offending others, or making them uncomfortable, taking charge of the situation becomes your next step. Determine WHAT you did, and more importantly, WHY it was wrong. Don’t worry; it’s all part of the learning process.

Finally: “Without external compulsion.” You are the only one who has any control over your life. While it is true we all have to answer to someone, be it a boss, teacher, parent, or counselor, it’s important to remember that while these “external compulsions” certainly have an impact on your life, they no not rule it. They can recommend a course of action, but only you can decide what course you will eventually take, and carry it out. And as with any situation, there will inevitably be peer pressure or coercion from others to make decisions that you may not feel comfortable with. Do what you think is right, and in the end, even if it turns out you were incorrect, if you can explain your decision and stand by it, in the long run, everything will eventually work out.

So, in review: free choice to choose your own actions, actions that you must take responsibility for, and external compulsions that in the long run, may be influential but seldom coercive.

One last thing we’ll discuss in this chapter is whether or not to disclose your Autism. This means whether you outright tell your friends/colleagues/employers that you are autistic or not tell them at all. This is all depending of course on your level of Autism. If you feel you can adapt and function well without anyone needing to know of your Autism (unless of course you feel it’s right to tell someone), then say nothing. Don’t keep it a secret; just don’t volunteer the information right off the bat. Let it come up in casual conversation where you can disclose comfortably if you choose.

However, if you think it’s important for everyone to know you have Autism and feel the need to divulge this information immediately, do it with care and finesse. And be prepared to explain what Autism is, as understanding of Autism in the public eye is still relatively new. And if you do disclose right away, do make sure to express the importance of tolerance and understanding to your audience. Stress that if a mistake is made on your part (or even theirs), that it must be discussed mutually and a solution reached that each side is comfortable with. Otherwise, it could become a frustrating hindrance that may result in further disagreements.

We cannot tell you what course or action to take in your life. That is what self-determination is all about. It is your life to live. Learning, adapting, and growing to accept and utilize your Autism to the best of your ability will make you stronger. We can give you the strategies but only you can implement them. Just remember to stay focused, advocate for yourself and take responsibility for your actions. It won’t be easy, but you will eventually learn to recognize the various social situations you will find yourself in, and make the most informed decision you can about how best to proceed.

Low-Carb Diet

It goes without saying that the average American is over-weight. Approximately two-thirds of adults are technically obese. But what are we as a nation doing about it? Diets? Exercise? Gluten-free meals? Scientist and cordon bleu chef Mary-Clare Holst is seeking a way to help people find a better way to control their weight, but the answer may be more obscure than we ever could have thought. The human body has come a very long way and undergone many changes through evolution throughout history. However, what hasn’t changed much is our genetics. Our bodies still crave, consume and process energy, obtained from what we eat. But are we eating the right things? Holst would disagree.

She believes the answer lies in a low-to-no-carb diet. She believes the carbs that come from grains and starches, such as wheat, corn, bread, rice, and potatoes are un-necessary to the body. The Standard American Diet or S.A.D. consists of (on average) 50% carbs, 15% protein, and 35% fat. Holst argues that the carbohydrates are not needed in a regular diet, citing that our collective weight issue stems from glucose and fructose — dietary monosaccharides that are absorbed directly into the human bloodstream during digestion. Quite simply it is not the fat we need to be concerned with; it’s foodstuffs that create the fat cells. The sugars and other empty calories we consume on a daily basis play a major role in this process — the glucose enters our blood stimulating the pancreas to secrete the hormone insulin, which in turn changes into fat. Similarly with fructose, which enters the liver, serves to create bigger fat cells.

The body can survive without carbohydrates. It cannot survive without fat. Much of our natural bodily make-up is fat, or technically speaking, Adipose tissue. Adipose tissue is under the skin and around internal organs — even our brains are made up of fat. By depriving our bodies of the needed fat, we actually do more to damage them than help. As an example, we believe that drinking skim/non-fat milk is beneficial, however, it is actually safer to drink whole milk. Additionally, it’s better for our bodies if we consume amounts of red meat, which is rich in protein. Protein helps to build muscle, cartilage, and bones. It also plays a vital role in cellular maintenance.

So one may be asking one’s self, “what foods should I eat or not eat for a low-carb diet?” Low-starch vegetables such as cabbage, spinach, collard greens, bok choy, radishes, cucumbers, asparagus, and cauliflower are a good start. Herbs like basil and cilantro are also good ideas. Low-sugar fruits — berries, melons, and peaches go well with a low-carb diet as well. Most forms of meat, poultry, seafood, and eggs are acceptable. Butter and olive oil are good choices, as are many nuts and seeds, like almonds. Steer clear of baked goods, crackers, bread, pasta, cookies, candy, and most other processed foods. It is also important to be conscientious of the food labels and nutrition facts on any given can/container.

However, as with many things, the decision to put yourself on a diet is nothing without the will to carry it out. Some diets dictate smaller, easy steps should be taken when first started. However, for a low-carb diet, the body does not adapt fast enough to deal with the level of changes being introduced. If a person decides on pursuing a low-carbohydrate diet, they must leap in and begin immediately. This will almost certainly not be easy, but it is the most beneficial way to go about changing up the food regiment. Holst is a firm believer in this diet and is confident that with time, the sweet calorie-filled foods you used to eat will be merely a memory.