Friday, April 23, 2010

Movie Update - Clash of the Titti-ans

Finally saw this movie...okay, okay, I saw it in the first weekend..dork, dork, dork! We heard 3D was done after filming and added in post production so we skipped the 5 dollar charge (5 dollars more!!! What the cuss!) and saw it in plain ole 2D. Maybe we should've seen it in 1D. Is that cheaper I wonder? Or better yet 0D. Because that would mean we wouldn't have seen it at all. Pretty disappointing, although funnier than I expected. wasn't supposed to funny. Duh!

They almost completely changed the story and added another female character, whom I sort of liked, but what?? And Perseus is practically bald - hair shaved completely off. And he's the only male character to have hair this way. What, he refused to at least wear a wig? He looked totally out of place. The Pegasus is black. Black for crying out loud. I guess that's better than red, orange..

The special effects are of course better, but a bit jarring sometimes. In 3D I probably would've been sick to my stomach and running to the bathroom and not because I had to pee. Although I had to do that too. Not that I would've missed anything..

Watch the preview instead. It's better.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

1984, Brave New World and other depressing stuff

Many a time we've participated as a family in the "No TV for a week" program at my children's school. Every year my kids, for the first few days, act like they're going to die a slow, retracted, terribly excruciating death. What? Read a book instead of watching SpongeBob? Play outside with our actual legs moving, our actual heart beating, instead of our fingers getting early carpel tunnel on a game console? But my "friends" won't know that I'm eating dinner, or that I ran an errand today! Perish the thought!

Until eventually, when the whining reaches a decibel only dogs can hear, it then, amazingly, stops. They adjust. They realign like a good hip joint slipping back into place. A miracle happens. We start to do more together as a family. We talk more around the dinner table because we're not in a rush to get back to the idiots on Survivor. Do we all fall in love again? No, this isn't The Cosby Show (hee hee), but really, by the end of the week we do connect again in almost a primal way. (Just kiddin. I do love my family anyway, sort of..when they're nice to me..)

I agree with Postman, we are now more Brave New World than 1984, in that we love the distractions, the silly minutiae that controlls us. I like OK Magazine just as much as I like Newsweek. Reading a book online and on the printed page is as aligned in my brain as peanut butter and jelly. But as our little tv and computer experiment shows, it is possible to get back to the prehistoric basics if we want to.

But do we want to?
That's the problem.
Brave New World here we come.

Written in the 1930's, I got the feeling throughout that Huxley wasn't a big fan of American capitalism, or was that just me. Hmm..
Have we turned out like he predicted? Are we sex-starved, atheist, gum-chewing, movie-watching, drug users who never want to be unhappy, at all costs? (Did I mention I like OK Magazine and Entertainment Tonight?)

Maybe not to that extreme, but we have evolved I guess. For better or worse, in this "marriage" of ideas who knows for sure. It probably depends on who you ask - which may also depend on who you voted for, and who you listen to on the radio. I tend to hope our country isn't headed straight down the crapper, but don't mind me - I'm high on my "soma" and am currently hanging out on Fantasy Island and getting a tan with Ricardo Montalban. Read the book and you'll get why I said that. Worth at least one try for its historical significance.

So, the year 1984 came and went without too many major government take overs. (Not really but let's pretend.) But we've made great strides haven't we? Currently, we can steal a person from their home claiming they've violated the rules of our country. They're an Enemy of the State not worthy of basic rights. A great danger to the norm we call our society. We torture them for answers they don't want to give. Tell them they're insane, that our way is the best way, the only way, until they break and the creases are permanent do we cure them of their vile ways. A shiny new American penny coming out clean on the other side. A carbon copy of ourselves and our ideals. Or so we think.

But what if instead of America, it's Oceania. In place of Guantanamo Bay, put the Ministry of Love. In the place of our government, put Big Brother.

Even I noticed the similarities.
And I'm a Democrat.
Scary, scary.
Anybody else have some thoughts on these books and the state of our current lives? What similarities do you see?

As for me, time to read something lighter, like Of Mice and Men before I run as fast as I can into a brick wall, or drive my imported car off a cliff.

Monday, April 19, 2010

The Fossil Hunter

Dinosaurs, Evolution, and the Woman Whose Discoveries Changed the World
By Shelley Emling

This is a book about Mary Anning. What?!? You’ve never heard of her? But she discovered the first ichthyosaur; the first plesiosaur, too. She was well-known throughout Europe in the early 1800’s. In fact, Charles Dickens himself wrote an article about her. The tongue-twister, “She sells sea-shells by the sea-shore” was inspired by her.

Still doesn’t ring a bell? Well, no surprise there. I’d never heard of her, and I’m into this sort of stuff. It’s a pity that the woman who made so many great discoveries should be so forgotten. I was thrilled to stumble upon a book that might help rescue Mary Anning from obscurity.

Unfortunately, the circumstances that allowed Mary to sink into oblivion are the very reasons that this book is largely unsuccessful. Mary Anning was poor, had little formal education and adhered to a Dissenter faith. Worst of all, she was a woman, she was plain, and she was an old maid.

It’s a miracle that she overcame all of this to become a relatively well-known paleontologist in her day. She had to work harder than anyone else to do so, though, and that didn’t leave her any time to write journals or autobiographies. Few others felt motivated to write about her either (Dickens being one of the notable exceptions, but of course, he of all people would appreciate a Dickensian story of beating the odds).

Perhaps most detrimental of all, because she wasn’t even allowed to be a member of the Geological Society of London (women weren’t admitted until 1904), her discoveries had to be presented to that body by men, men that would, more often than not, be given credit for her discoveries. Occasionally, one of these famous (male) geologists would kindly mention Mary Anning in his writings, but it always had a subtle hint of condescension.

All of this leaves very little in the way of records about Mary, which, over time, has allowed her to fade into anonymity. Sadly, this has also left little for author Shelley Emling to draw upon, forcing her to resort all too often to supposition. Mary likely did this, and probably felt that. She might have done this, but she might have done that. All Emling can give us is a shadowy reflection of who Mary Anning might have been. After reading the book, all 213 pages of it, I felt like I hardly knew Mary Anning at all. And that is a real shame. Mary Anning deserves better.