February 22, 2011

Buckaroo Banzai

I don't remember when I first saw The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension , but I never forgot the movie.  Banzai was a larger-than-life hero who modeled the attitude of the eighties at a fairly deep level.  Even now, I can't really put my finger on it.  He was every man's James Bond. He was the captain of his soul. He was a caring leader. And, it didn't hurt that he was a modern Renaissance man.

The makers of the movie call it a docudrama.  I'm not sure what that means.  Pretty sure there is no real Banzai Institute and there never was a real Dr. B. Banzai, so where the docu part comes from is a mystery to me.

Thanks to Netflix, I got to see the movie again.  It had always surprised me when I mentioned the movie to friends and they had no clue what I was talking about. Having rewatched, I'm even more surprised.  I had forgotten that the movie features Peter Weller of RoboCop fame, John Lithgow, Jeff Goldbloom, and Christopher Lloyd who later got his own jet powered Delorian.

My young mind had somehow idolized the movie, and I remembered it for far more than it actually is. There is no deep suspense. There is no twist ending.  The plot is not shallow, but perhaps could be called standard.  Yet, the movie is anything but standard.  It almost defies classification.  It is a science fiction movie in the style of Flash Gordon or The Last Starfighter. To watch it, you would expect that it is a comic book movie.  But, I can't find any reference to a comic book that predates the movie.  The fourth wall is there, but the comedy causes it to seem very thin.  It is an action movie, but the action is not the centerpiece.  It has geeky, but very odd technology throughout.

In the end, I suppose it is the attitude of the hero that makes the movie for me. Dr. Banzai is a guy who has all the natural gifts that God has to offer and yet he still cares about people.  He respects authority, but doesn't worship it.  He walks with intent and has the capacity to answer distractions while staying focused on his objective.

The movie still appears to have a following. I can see why. I still like it, even after all these years.

February 21, 2011

Ice Storm 2011

Just another ice storm in the Midwest. There have been worse.  Not much to say about it, but here are a few pictures. Click on the picture to zoom.

Evergreen Weighed Down and Parted
Laden Pine
Encrusted Tramp
The Other Evergreen
Natural Ice Sculpture and a Branch That Could Not Hold Out
Beauty Up Close

February 17, 2011

The Book of Eli

Watched this post-apocalyptic film last night.  Wasn't exactly sure what to think of it.  Enjoyed the ride, but when it was over, I thought it felt kind of empty.  There were a few thrilling fight scenes, and the Belly of the Whale moment was good, but for whatever reason, I had no empathy for the hero.

Except for an interesting twist ending, the movie was largely predictable in the same sense that The Titanic was predictable.  There was, however, a nice surprise in the end that caused me to roll back and watch a few scenes again in order to appreciate them.  I'm continuously amazed at how many clues a writer or director can throw at me and still the twist goes over my head.  Unfortunately, it's not clear to me that the director was entirely honest with the twist.  That is, as I rolled back the reel, I could see something very clearly that I did not see clearly at the end of the movie.  (I have been handed a level of disagreement on this by an argumentative cohort.  But I'm not convinced I'm wrong.)  Watch the movie.  Then roll it back and see if you see in the middle what you see at the end.  I don't think it's there. If it isn't there, the twist isn't entirely honest.

The underlying plot of the movie is difficult to believe.  There is only one copy of the book left on the planet.  If you believe that Eli is just a crazy man, you can pass off his comment as simple delusion. It makes that part easier to buy, but it makes other parts of the movie less so.  If you believe what Eli says about himself, then his statement about the book carries the weight of God.  I don't care how much book burning goes on, it seems highly unlikely that there would ever be only one copy of The Book left.

I didn't much care for the sepia toned cinematography.  It gave it a nice desolate feel, but for me, it kept pulling me out of the movie.

I recall three positive messages I took from the movie. One was said to Redridge and Carnegie.  There's always a choice. The other two were passed to Solaris by Eli. The first one, stated as a directive to her was to quit whining and change your situation if you don't like it. The second was an observation about his own journey and perhaps a resolution to change.  That is, observe to do what you believe and not just get caught up in reading it.  Wise words.

February 7, 2011

Isn't It Ironic?

It bugs me that the English dictionary is descriptive and not prescriptive. And yet, people still treat it as if it were.  The phrase, "look it up" seems to trump a great many arguments.  In fact, to my knowledge, there is no accepted authority for the definition of words.  English is an adaptive language.  If the populous misuses a word often enough, sooner or later, it will appear in the dictionary with the misused definition right there beside it.

I was discussing the definition of ironic with a fellow ponderer.  After a good deal of discussion, and because I was seen as an authority, we decided that the definition of the word indicated a sense of expecting a certain outcome from a certain action and achieving the totally opposite result.  For example: If you put up a sign that says don't look up, the intent is that you don't want people to look up.  But the irony is that the sign will actually cause people to look up.

It took a good deal of discussion to dissuade my compatriot of the notion that ironic meant coincidental.  He would say, "Isn't it ironic that when you were talking about bananas, a banana commercial came on TV?!?"  No, that isn't ironic.  That's a coincidence.  I can see how the term can become synonymous with coincidence because the two go hand-in-hand.  One incident is the one which is intended to cause the expected or perhaps predicted result.  The other incident is the actual occurance of the opposite result.  These incidents work in conjunction with each other and therefore coincide.

So today, I went to an Internet dictionary to see how exactly the definition of ironic should be phrased.  What did I find? Two references to irony and a reference to coincidence.  I didn't find the definition I expected until defnition #6 behind irony.  The word appears to be more strongly correlated with sarcasm but is still a notion of opposing expectations.

So, I looked up ironic and found that it was defined in a way I didn't expect.  That's ironic.  The fact that I was actually looking up the word ironic when it happened is...well...ironic (coincidental).  The fact that I just said ironic instead of coincidence is also ironic (sarcasm).

Blah. Language evolution is frustrating. I would use a dead language if using it wouldn't corrupt it by bringing it back to life.

Notice in the definition of irony that coincidence is not mentioned.  This implies that the use of ironic to mean coincidental truly a corruption of the meaning.  So, I'm still right even if the dictionary says I'm wrong.  So there.

Recently Watched: The Philidelphia Experiment, Dirty Jobs, Jim Henson's Storyteller, Jackie Chan Adventure Series

February 4, 2011


Netflix is on its way to becoming the vehicle that fulfills a prophecy I made many years ago.  Someday, I said, we will be able to download movies and watch what we want when we want to.  I'm sure I'm not sage. I said it when technology was ready.  Many probably saw the writing as well.

A side effect of buying a Wii console for my household is that I succumbed to the temptation to get Netflix.  I can watch all the movies I want for one very low monthly price.  Admittedly, not all movies are available for instant download but many are.  And, watch them I have been.  (Use your Yoda voice to say that last sentence.)

So, after countless episodes of Dirty Jobs with Mike Rowe and many more to come, after catching up on all the stupid movies I intended to watch but never did, after watching a few movies I wish I had not, I wonder if it is really worth it.  There's a whole lot of crap out there.  Most of it isn't worth reviewing.  I've watched Hudson Hawk and Clue, for example.  Hours of my life I will never get back.  So what's the point?  After all this waiting to get to this really cool science fiction age, was it worth it?  Most times, yes.  For Netflix? Probably not.

The sad thing is, though... I won't stop my subscription.  What else is a Stone Giant to do but sit and watch... and watch... and watch as the acid rain slowly and painfully erodes him away.

February 3, 2011

Expressing Grief Today

Grieving today. A very important person in my life is going to be away from me for six months.  I've never been apart from this individual for so long. Sunday begins the journey.  It's difficult to write about anything else because this is so big on my mind.  There are moments when I simply cannot contain the grief, and I break down crying.

I feel alone. I feel whelmed.

My hope is that this will be a growing experience that far outweighs the pain of separation.  It will be good for both of us.  Maybe I'll grow up and expressing myself through an unread blog–an open diary–won't be so important anymore.

Who knows?