March 18th, 2008

Blow My Mind

I remembered most of this!

For those of you (like me) who watched way too much cable in the Eighties:

Metafilter did an entry about the short film HBO ran in the 1980s that aired before each 8:00 p.m. Feature Presentation, as well as link to a featurette about the creation of it. Enjoy model effects!

Meanwhile, I'm wrapping up work early: feeling a little queasy and very low-energy. I got done my usual morning duties, thank everything, but now my job is to go home and NOT GET SICKER.

Much later edit (as in 4/30/08 edit): That Metafilter entry's gone from LJ, but here are the direct links:

The "Feature Presentation animation:

The behind-the-scenes doc:

Home now; soup cooking on the stovetop

Okay, now relaxing commences. I got home a few minutes ago and am already in bedclothes.

I'm at that annoying stage where I'm not full-on sick, but feel the possibility of getting sicker: I'm a little queasy, and am looooooooooow on energy. It was worse earlier, when at moments I'd have this vague though not entirely unpleasant floating sensation. I decided to leave before whatever was floating started banging into stuff.

Taking it easy, it's

Rest In Peace, Arthur C. Clarke

Author Arthur C. Clarke has passed away at age 90. (A slightly more in-depth obit from the BBC.) (And now the Yahoo obit; thanks to leonardpart6 for the link.)

Clarke was one of the first writers I latched onto as a kid, wanting to read more of this particular guy. He co-created 2001: A Space Odyssey, which scrambled my brains in a great way when I was very young.

There's comfort and warmth and a smile in Clarke's writing; he was an elegant, amused observer of the world and our possible futures, much of which he anticipated and/or popularized like the geosynchronous satellite and e-mail (a proto version of which he used in the early Eighties to help Peter Hyams make the film 2010: The Year We Make Contact). And when pedants were arguing over whether to celebrate the new millennium early in 2000 or at its proper start in 2001, Clarke suggested that maybe we should all just take the whole year 2000 off and party.

And he looked like a British version of my Grandpa Bob, another elegant and amused man.

God, he's been on my mind lately: I'd pulled out my copy of The Odyssey File, compiling his and Hyams's e-correspondance during preproduction of the movie 2010. Just minutes ago I brought up that film on a friend's journal. Clarke took joy in discovery, trying things out (he's pretty funny talking about his early experience with word processors), thinking things through; hell, he may have been my first exposure to the idea that science could be fun. I figure that was true for many people who became actual scientists.

He lived a long, good life. Ninety years ain't nothin' to sneeze at. He met and corresponded with Lord Dunsany and C.S. Lewis. He lived to see the space age, the moon landings, the exploration of much of the outer solar system and the electronic linking of so much of our world. He survived the 2004 Tsunami, a disaster on a scale you might have seen him portray in one of his stories. He kept writing and thinking through it all, in his gentle way. He may have been one of the most influential people of my lifetime, and he'll have an influence well beyond his life...and mine. And I hope to live a long, good time, too, like him.

You were here, Arthur C. Clarke, and you mattered. And I miss you.
Whale fluke

The Good

I think I've thought this thought on this journal before, but I want to work through the thought again, and feel it's worth doing so:

Good happens. The thing is, Good often happens quietly. It builds up incrementally. Say it's a Good Thing that people who love each other become parents; maybe they were meant to be parents. They make kids, they give birth to kids, they raise kids. The various dramas and crises of family and youth occur, erupt, whatever, but the raising of another human being (or two or more) keeps happening.

Life happens. Life's made up of these seemingly infinite increments of time, moment after moment after moment. Not an infinite number, of course, and we know that, but part of us never completely accepts that. Meanwhile, we live. Our emotions do their thing; our bodies do their thing; we get excited and bored and sick and energetic and full of love and full of anger. We learn. We spend 20 years becoming adults, and we hope we learn enough in those 20 years to function well for the rest, for however many years we're granted. We make mistakes, we deal with them, we brood over them (and I'm a champion brooder, I admit it); we do the right things a lot; we do the wrong things a lot; and we hope we recognize which is which.

But, often enough, the Right Thing happens. Enough keeps working. Enough keeps working well. The amount of love and good in the world is staggering. It's goodness and love that leads to us having such emotional reactions to the bad, tough things that happen. And we should react.

There's a gag from The Simpsons's King Kong episode of a 1930s newspaper. One of its headlines is "Dick Cavett Born." Birthdays: more of the Good. But it's Good that takes a while to show itself. Whether it was the birth of Jesus Christ or the birth of Arthur C. Clarke, the good that would result from their entering the world wasn't obvious for a few decades at least. But the nature of news is usually that Something Happens Suddenly. And bad and difficult stuff is more likely to happen suddenly, or to seem to happen suddenly. I saw the loss of the space shuttle Challenger live on television. I listened to the radio reports of the 9/11 attacks. Negligence and sheer bad luck caused the loss of the shuttle and the deaths of the astronauts onboard; hate caused Bin Laden's people to attack. And, on the whole, in the aftermath, we recognized that. The Wrong Things happened. Many of us were hurt by those Wrong Things. It's easy to get hurt. We're well-practiced at it. We have to risk getting hurt while we try to keep doing what's good and right, or at least what we believe is good and right.

We keep trying. Another TV reference: I'm thinking of how Babylon 5's fourth season ends. It ends with a fast-forward to a hundred years after the events of the show, then to five hundred years after, and then to a thousand years after. We see consequences of those events: some wonderful, some calamitous. Some of what the characters did turned out, in the long view, to be wrong. But knowing that the Right Thing might one day become the Wrong Thing -- or that the Wrong Thing might one day become the Right Thing -- can't stop us from trying to do what we think is Right. What we think is Good.

We make the Good happen. It's the best we can do. It's not all we can do -- we can be negative, hateful and destructive -- but it's what we should aspire to doing.

We want more Good in our world. And we can make more Good.

And, as it turns out, Queen said it well their own way:

Every drop of rain that falls in Sahara Desert says it all
It's a miracle
All God's creations great and small, the Golden Gate and the Taj Mahal
That's a miracle
Test tube babies being born, mothers, fathers dead and gone
It's a miracle
We're having a miracle on earth, Mother Nature does it all for us
The wonders of this world go on, the Hanging Gardens of Babylon
Captain Cook and Cain and Abel, Jimi Hendrix to the Tower of Babel
It's a miracle, it's a miracle, it's a miracle, it's a miracle
The one thing we're all waiting for, is peace on Earth - an end to war
It's a miracle we need - the miracle
The miracle we're all waiting for today
If every leaf on every tree, could tell a story that would be a miracle
If every child on every street, had clothes to wear and food to eat
That's a miracle
If all God's people could be free, to live in perfect harmony
It's a miracle, we're having a miracle on Earth
Mother nature does it all for us
(the wonders of this world go on)
Open hearts and surgery, Sunday mornings with a cup of tea
Superpowers always fighting
But Mona Lisa just keeps on smiling
It's a miracle, it's a miracle, it's a miracle

(The wonders of this world go on)
Well it's a miracle, it's a miracle, it's a miracle, it's a miracle
The one thing (the one thing)
We're all waiting for (we're all waiting for)
Is peace on Earth (peace on Earth) and an end to war (end to war)
It's a miracle we need, the miracle, the miracle
Peace on Earth and end to war today
That time will come one day you'll see when we can all be friends
That time will come one day you'll see when we can all be friends
That time will come one day you'll see when we can all be friends
That time will come one day you'll see when we can all be friends
That time will come

And passed along by copperwise are these words I'm glad to read, by fireriven.