Monthly Archives: August 2009

Recent Cinema

Films watched lately that aren’t The Hurt Locker:

Ghost Town – Eric sat down to dinner and stated that I should pick a movie, he didn’t care which, even if it was a chick flick. I replied that he shouldn’t worry; I didn’t think I had any chick flicks. And proceeded to put Ghost Town on. The premise is not new: after an accident, a dentist is suddenly able to see and communicate with the dead. British comic Ricky Gervais might not be an American audiences first choice for a leading man, but few leading men start out as such a bastard. In the end, it’s a sweet movie with some funny moments, but doesn’t entirely gel.

The Pink Panther 2 – It’s funny.  It’s probably the funniest thing I’ve seen since Tropic Thunder.  Many of the setups are sketch oriented; set-pieces created for the comic potential, but when it’s funny, does it really matter?  And what is sure to become a favored quote in this household: “Let me bring you up to speed. We know nothing. You are now up to speed.”

Fast & Furious – There’s Vin Diesel.  There’s fast cars.  There’s not much else, but there also doesn’t need to be if you’re in it for the first two things.  Neither great cinema, nor the worst thing I’ve been subjected to.

Sunshine – I had forgotten that this is a Danny Boyle film.  Or rather I had forgotten about the things that I really liked about 28 Days Later: the manipulative use of beautiful imagery and immersive soundtrack.  And Cillian Murphy.  This movie might have been more interesting in a theater with its alternating brightness and dark.  (Also interesting is the contrast between burning and freezing.)  The science, and lack there of, didn’t bother me as much as I thought it might, though there are quite a few…stretches.  Also, space horror is not a new thing.  Sunshine made me want to go watch Event Horizon, which does the horror better.

A couple of documentaries from Netflix Instant:
Modify – Since I did some research on body modifications a while back, this documentary didn’t show me anything new.  It just did so in video form.  It is not for the faint of heart.  Some of the modifications are pretty extreme and there is footage of some of them being done.  What this documentary doesn’t go into any detail about is the risks of such procedures.  I understand that they want to be pro-modification, but not telling the whole story is a disservice to the topic.

Harvard Beats Yale 29-29 – College football is around the corner and stories like this are why I enjoy the game.  In 1968, both Harvard and Yale were undefeated when they met for the final game of the season.  Yale was heavily favored, and with 42 seconds left in the game, Harvard was down 16 points.  As told through first person account by members of both teams (including Tommy Lee Jones).  Good stuff.

Going on and on…

I never did post a run-down of Desert Diva’s last game. We ended the epic red/salmon match-up…in a tie.  11-11. Yes, as the lights went out, Marisa was committing some foul-y D on a Miss Red player. Even caught, I don’t believe it was a score, but it couldn’t have been most than a couple yards out from Miss Red’s endzone. It was a fun game, if really messy. And occasionally frustrating since we could not get more than a point or two up on Miss Red. Personally, I played my best game of the season. It’s not surprising that this was the game I went down field the most. I did some handling, but wasn’t afraid to take off down field, and caught two scores for my efforts. It’s what I should have been doing all season. I don’t have the quickness for handler cuts. The scores were both…not easy. Bonnie almost ran down the first one, and the second was over the top of about three or four other players from both teams. More importantly, for me at least, I felt good while playing. I went for a pretty long slow run before to warm up. I taped my index finger, wore a wrist band, and mentholed my back and the top of my left calf…and felt good while playing.

Both fall league registrations are up and going. Friday Night Flights, Keith’s project, premeired on Friday. Bone-headedly, I set up a weirdness concerning PayPal and email aliases and didn’t think to mention it to Ken (VOTS’ treasurer). Since I haven’t heard anything more from Ken, I’m guessing there hasn’t been any other problems. We didn’t open T/Th league until yesterday. This league we’re going to offer wicking shirts instead of plain old cotton and it took a little time to get the details of that sorted out. Eric and I have signed up to captain on Thursdays, but are still undecided on Fridays. We had hoped to maybe get a core of Wednesday disc players together, but it probably won’t happen. And I’m not sure I want to play three days in a row. Eric would only be playing two-in-a-row due to missing Wednesday disc for class, but he hurt his wrist over a month ago and it’s still bugging him.

On Monday, we took off on the fly to see The Hurt Locker. I was happy to see that it had reached a theater near me. Very good film, one of the best I’ve seen in a while, but a little light on plot. It relies on the characters and their situation. The one thing the story does exceedingly well is building tension. Peril is established early on and is made to pay dividends.

Yesterday, Eric and I hashed out the rest of Divine Fire. At least in outline form. The goal it to have a ‘The End’ draft completed by the end of August. We’re coming up on five years working on Weordan as a project (something I want to write about in the future). We’re planning to get Model Species, the first novel of the non-series, out the door by the end of the year. So, it’s an interesting time, writing-wise. I’m still struggling with this lethargy that has been plaguing me all year.  And especially this summer. Firm goals are good things.

I hope summer has taken it’s turn now and is on the way out. School’s starting soon, and college football. Fall league is around the corner and there’s Halloween candy in the grocery stores. We had a low of 95 degrees last night. I’m ready for summer to be over.

The horror, the horror…

Fan Rant: Lazy Parents, Stop Blaming the MPAA! – Cinematical
Deborah Knight Snyder: PG-13 versus R: Where’s the line?

Ms. Synder cites an incident in which her 12-year-old son watched The Ring and was seriously creeped out by it. I’ll admit that at the age of 30 when I saw it, *I* was pretty creeped out by The Ring too. But are her son and I really the worse for it? Okay, maybe we’re not better for it either, but it’s just a movie. It’s not a big deal to be creeped out by something, to spend a restless night or two. In fact, I *might* be better for it because I asked myself, “Why is this movie pushing my buttons, and how can I use that in my fiction?”* As a kid the thing that scared me the most was Disney’s Headless Horseman, shown on TV without a thought. On the other hand, my parents wouldn’t let me see Poltergeist. Probably a good call. I’m not saying that parents shouldn’t be involved or that the MPAA does a good job, but, really, is it necessary to protect everyone from everything?

*It’s my theory that revenants are particularly scary because all they really want is revenge. They can’t be reasoned with, their only purpose in death is to destroy the living. You can’t do much with that and helplessness is a pretty universal fear. On a personal level, The Ring hits on a couple of things that make me uneasy: confined spaces and water…in confined spaces. I would not do well being trapped at the bottom of a well.

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Book #14 — The Road by Cormac McCarthy

I once again feel like people have been telling me that there’s a giraffe in the closet

Among my failings as student of literature, I will freely admit that I have no head for allegory and satire. I’ve known this since 9th grade when I finished Orwell’s Animal Farm. Oh, I know that the book isn’t *really* about talking animals and barnyard politics, but I couldn’t make the historical leap. Especially considering that I didn’t really know the history in 9th grade. In fact, I would have been happier reading about the history. Maybe I’m a lazy reader, maybe I’m unsophisticated, or maybe instead of trying to figure out what the writer is saying but isn’t saying, I look at other things in a book.

With that preface I will say that I just don’t get Cormac McCarthy’s The Road.

I did not find the ultra-minimalist prose interesting. The man (no name) and the boy (no name) are traveling south on the road (no name). Everything is gray and ash-covered because something has happened to the world. I’ve just spoiled over 270 pages of the book with those two sentences. The details are nil.

I will try to recount my experience of this book:

In the first sixty pages of the mass-market media tie-in edition, we learn that the boy’s mother committed suicide sometime after the boy was born and the world went to unspecific pot. As a reader I wondered, would a mother really act that way? I could see her making off with the boy and killing them both, and I could see her insisting, hope beyond hope, to keep the boy alive even when it might be better not to. But, fine. Who know how anyone would act with the world crumbling? I also wondered briefly if the man might not be better off on his own without the boy, but the notion was baseless speculation.

The next 210 pages are the unrelenting “adventures” of the man and the boy. Amid the gray and the ash, there are groups of people who may or may not be bad. The man and the boy successfully hide from them or run away from them. Amid the gray and ash, the man and the boy starve and get cold. Food and blankets are found after characters suffer for a while. After these perils were averted a couple of times, they lost credibility with me. It became obvious that both the man and the boy would make it to nearly the end of the book despite the horrors. By page 200, I kind of wished that the recently found jars of food *were* poisoned and they’d both die. I’ve never before wished death on another writer’s characters before. I don’t know how this is going to make an interesting movie.

By the end of the book, I wondered if maybe the man’s perception of the world wasn’t just a tad on the mentally ill side. Again, I’m an optimist when it comes to the human race. I don’t see the whole of human society sinking back to animalistic levels, no matter what the calamity.

I’ve read a couple of reviews of the book and nearly all mention that this is a fable, a warning, a cautionary tale, and mutter vaguely about it being an environmental novel. For the life of me, I don’t see what I’m being warned against. We’re never given a reason why this apocalypse has happened. If the warning is, “Mankind, do not continue down your current road,” the message is a vague cope-out and a mixed message as well. The road in the book is an ambivalent space. It contains both good and bad. While you might easily be seen on the road and meet other (bad) travelers, it’s takes you where you think you want to go; without its necessity, you’re cold and hungry in the wilderness.

If McCarthy’s intent is to elicit a reaction, I suppose it’s a job well-done. I’ve just written more about it than many other books combined.  If his intent was to tell a well-structured story, I can’t give it a pass.