August 7th, 2010

Good Omens

All this said, I still want a pet dinosaur! (Jurassic Park at the Bagdad)

Would not have been surprised to wake up to a world with actual rampaging dinosaurs after my late, late, late night watching Jurassic Park with several hundred people. Damn, the dinosaur special effects still look good.

I'm kind of more and more of a stick-in-the-mud about that film, though. I liked it but didn't love it when it came out; I never emotionally connected to it the way I have with many other films (even summer blockbusters: my love for, say, Raiders of the Lost Ark and Terminator 2 remains strong and true), so I enjoyed it mainly for the spectacle.

And for the reactions to it, too: the Merrifield (VA) multiplex that I'd go to when I lived in Northern Virginia had enough of a sense of flair to build a surprisingly large dinosaur upper body on top of the theater roof! That's where I saw Jurassic Park, more than once, in the summer of 1993 between my freshman and sophomore years of college. And as I wasn't really one for scare films when I was growing up, it may have been the first movie I went to where I saw someone (my friend Leo) literally jump out of a seat at a scare in the film.

Then Peter David explained my ambivalence better than I could: The plot of the film version of Jurassic Park is basically Murphy's Law, and all the Chaos Theory justification in the film doesn't hide that. (He also contrasted Dr. Alan Grant's character arc with that of Ripley in Aliens, and that REALLY cemented my opinion of Jurassic Park the film. "Oh, that's why I liked Aliens better.")

Last night I watched the film and cheered and laughed along with hundreds of others but kept thinking If the park can collapse this way over one weekend, when the similarly conceived San Diego Wild Animal Park has, um, collapsed in such a way NEVER, then it's horrendously badly designed! And if anyone accuses me of being contrary just because I'm not a fan of this flick, remember my goofy, doofus-y enjoyment more than once of Independence Day. I can get into big, stupid, explode-y entertainment. I've gotten into it more before.)

I do appreciate that even Michael Crichton once basically said This book and film aren't meant to be realistic. They can have verisimilitude -- and I'll cut in to add that Jurassic Park the novel, which I've read at least twice, pulls off the verisimilitude better than the film -- but they're exaggerated to make a point about being cautious with scientific discovery. (I'm remembering an article that ran sometime after the film came out, so I'm going on 17-year-old memories.)+

Meanwhile, last night was a good night. Good food (yay special chorizo burger! A good use for pork!), good crowd, fun with Steven Spielberg's Amazing Stories episode "The Mission" which showed before the film (we cheered more than once (and were surprised to find Anthony LaPaglia had a small part in it)), and fun hanging-out time afterward. I hitched a ride with Ryan and Stacey Pollard, who I've met via Twitter and the Cort and Fatboy screenings, and I and a friend of theirs rode to downtown to eat late-night food at Big-Ass Sandwiches. The Pollards were then nice enough to detour slightly and drop me off at home.

Next Midnight Movie: Ferris Bueller's Day Off, on Friday, September 3rd. And I already know what the October film will be, and it makes me smile. It's one I've never seen before, despite being in one of the right demographics for it. Seeing it with drunk geeks may be a GREAT way to first see it. :-)

+ Feel like I should say what Michael Crichton works I've experienced: ER, obviously, and of his novels I've read and liked The Andromeda Strain, The Great Train Robbery (especially so), Eaters of the Dead (much better than its movie adaptation) and Jurassic Park. When it became clearer how much of a mean crank he was becoming -- going after a writer who disagreed with him by naming a PEDOPHILE after that writer in his next book? Great way to make me NOT RESPECT YOUR FREAKIN' OPINION -- that torpedoed my desire to read more of his work.

San Diego: The Bad Thing

San Diego Comic Con 2010 had A Bad Thing happen at it.

At about 5:30 on Saturday, July 24th, a tussle before a presentation in the famously busy Hall H, where the major announcements and biggest panels are held, led to one guy stabbing another guy in the face with a pen. It was serious enough for the attacker to be arrested and for the attacked to be wheeled off for medical attention.

I was nowhere near Hall H when this happened; I was in a different meeting room area, floating around before deciding to go to a panel about the work and influence of special effects guru Stan Winston (the designer of The Terminator, the Alien Queen from Aliens, the Predator, and, before he died, the live-action Iron Man suits).

I learned what happened hours later by signing onto a hotel computer terminal and checking Twitter. I was surprised, and saddened. I saw several online reactions. I added commiseration for the victim. And I also thought, The Joker only needed a pencil.

We geeks have -- an often harsh sense of humor. It doesn’t mean we don’t care about the Bad Thing or the person hurt by it, but we may express that by saying “We’re going to see if we can make ‘I’ll go Hall H on your ass’ a synonym for ‘shiv.’” Or what I saw at the con Sunday morning: People were made up to look like they’d been stabbed in their eyes.

I’ve seen this before. Joke macros (photos with bizarrely funny “I CAN HAZ CHEESBURGER”-type captions) went online within hours of the 2007 Minnesota bridge collapse. People I know with connections to the Twin Cities, who had in the past driven over that suddenly-not-there edifice, joined in on the smart-assed snark. I know the loss and damage affected them. I know people were sad. I also know people cut through and ameliorated that sadness with humor. Brutal humor. It’s a well-known defense mechanism, but we geeks seem especially ready to jump to it. We need to laugh. We want to keep laughing.

We also, ultimately (and joking aside), don’t want this to be a Bad Thing that lingers. I believe nothing like that fight had ever happened at San Diego Comic Con. I’ll really hope it doesn’t repeat.

Is there more going on than a defense mechanism? I wonder. But those thoughts don’t seem to be coalescing. But trust me: I did not ignore The Bad Thing. Most of us at Comic Con didn’t.
iAm iSaid

And now, music

Via rafaela:

1. If you'd like to play along, reply to this post and I'll assign you a letter.
2. You then list (and upload or link to the video, if you feel like it) 5 songs that start with that letter.
3. Then, as I'm doing here, you'll post the list to your journal with the instructions.

rafaela gave me L. Preferable to her giving me Hell:

1. "Little Earthquakes," Tori Amos. A mission statement song. Okay, I've been through the shit that informed the rest of this album, now I'm moving past that as well as I can. I love the force of the repeated lines "Give me life/ Give me pain/ Give me my/ Self again..."
2. "Love You To," The Beatles. So many Beatles L songs -- "Let It Be," "Love Me Do," "Little Child," "Lovely Rita, "Long Long Long," "Lady Madonna," "The Long and Winding Road" -- but I'll go with George on sitar. "Love me while you can/ Before I'm a dead old man/ A lifetime is so short/ A new one can't be bought/ But what you've got means such a lot to me..."
3. "Layla," Derek and the Dominoes. Not only classic, but surprisingly epic, a little strange and a lot angry. And used, stunningly, in that killing montage late in Martin Scorcese's GoodFellas. I've gotten chills watching that scene.
4. "Land of Confusion," Genesis. This makes me grin and also think What were they thinking? Whatever they were thinking, with getting the sick people at Spitting Image do an all-puppet video for this scared song: We've gotta repair this world, and let's hope we can do that -- set, again, TO PUPPETS -- I approve of.
5. "Lily (My One and Only)," Smashing Pumpkins. As you've probably guessed, I often have NO PROBLEM with disturbing songs. That includes this disturbing song. "Oh, Lily/ I know you love me/ 'Cause as they're dragging me away/ I could've sworn I saw you raise your hand and wave/ Goodbye..." (It's about a creep.)