I knew even from a young age what all those references to "1138" in various movies were to. So why was it not until a few years ago that it suddenly ocurred to me that the THX sound system so closely with Lucasfilm was also a reference to THX-1138?
Then the same thing happened to me last night. I was thinking about the book The Integral Trees, by Larry Niven, which I haven't read since I was a kid. Of course I had realized that the eponymous trees were integral to the people who lived on them, but as I pictured the little hand-drawn map of Dalton-Quinn Tree that had appeared at the beginning of the book, I suddenly realized that they weren't called "Integral Trees" because they were important, but because they looked like integral signs.
Why did it take me so long to figure these things out?
I'm trying to resist. I'm really trying. But I... I kind of want to buy a copy of this book. I missed out on my chance to buy Eternal Forest of the Soul before its existence was purged from the internet. Who's to say Space Ark! won't be following the Forest into the purple void?
And how could anyone resist that description? It has synthetic replicates! Circular wings! Trusty plenipotentiaries undertaking a very long expedition to faraway termini! Plenipotentiaries, people!
I mean, just look at the "reviews". Why, it's a best-seller at an Ear, Nose and Throat clinic in Hattiesburg, Mississippi!
I don't care if Space Ark! is real or not. I so want to read it.
Bizarre injuries (in case you ever needed to know how it's possible to burn your chin on a toaster)
One of my favorite parts of the Nanowrimo experience is seeing the esoteric bits of information people end up needing for their own stories. It gets even more strange and desperate once November 1 hits and people start posting hysterical requests for that one fact without which they can't make their 1667 word quota.
I just bought Kung Fu Hustle, and oh man, is it bringing back just how much I love the character of the Landlady, played by Yuen Qiu.
There are a couple of coolclips of the Landlady on YouTube at the moment, but unless you want to watch the whole movie, you can't see her best bit- when she wordlessly intimidates the leader of the Axe gang, and leaves him so terrified that he accidentally sets fire to his hair while trying to light his cigar.
Is there anything cooler than a middle-aged, slightly chubby, chainsmoking, totally kickass woman with a bad attitude and some kung fu superpowers? I think not.
I'm going through my shelves and purging my books today. The purged items so far number 41. They can be divided up as follows:
3 are perfectly nice cookbooks which just don't appeal to my taste in food.
1 is a copy of Aristophanes' Lysistrata which has somehow managed to tag along through three different moves even though I only read it once, and then just because I had to for a class in college.
9 are battered old paperback romance novels I bought for a quarter each at thrift stores. Last time I moved my books stayed packed for weeks, and in desperation I finally bought a stack of the cheapest books I could find at the nearest thrift store- ergo the collection of romances (which were uniformly awful and highly entertaining).
3 are books that people gave me and said, "You should read this." I promptly stuck them all on my bottom shelf and now they are being discarded.
5 are either by Japanese authors or about pre-Meiji Restoration Japan. I must have gone through a phase some time back.
7 are books I bought in a vain attempt to improve my reading habits, and include works by E. M. Forster, Oscar Wilde, and Ian McEwan.
4 are cheap fantasy novels that I bought after giving up on improving my reading habits.
5 are somewhat inexplicable, even to me, even though I bought them. Why do I own two copies of ThusSpake Zarathustra?
And the last few are the books which I read, wasn't sure if I liked or not, and kept on my shelves until I could figure it out. I have now decided that I just don't like Watership Down. I don't care if it is a classic- 4/5 of the book is devoted to a bunch of rabbits trying to get laid. And what the hell is the point of that long hallucination sequence on the train in To the White Sea?
Strangely, even though I'm purging Aristophanes, I still have St. Augustine on my shelf. They seem like they ought to go together.
On occasion, it can be both amusing and instructive to write badly. Today, while doing some writing exercises, I managed to write a sentence which I believe to be the worst I have ever written (but only with the help of a very complete thesaurus):
"One of the nymphs in the corner began to cachinnate as I festinated away."
On the other hand, I also managed to write a sentence that included the phrase "stentorian catadupe".
Doubletime is a documentary following four five-person teams of double-dutch jump rope peformers to the Double Dutch Holiday Classic competition at the Apollo Theater in New York. The kids represent two different teams, the Double Dutch Forces and the Bouncing Bulldogs, with each team fielding an entry in the novice (junior) division and the advanced (senior) division.
The first hour of the documentary is spent going over the history of competitive jump rope and double dutch competitions in the US, and introducing us to the various kids who make up the teams. The two teams both claim to be national champions, and they are, but in different leagues. The Bouncing Bulldogs, a predominantly white team from Chapel Hill, NC, competes in the USA Jump Rope Federation, while the Double Dutch Forces, a predominantly black team from Columbia, SC, competes in the American Double Dutch League.
Both teams are new to the Holiday Classic competition, and to the style required. Their usual competitions involve tests of speed and trick performance, but the Apollo Theater competition requires a "fusion" style- a mixture of dancing and double dutch tricks (you can see some examples here and here). We watch as they put together their routines, pick out their outfits, and finally, compete against 11 other teams from around the world.
The jump rope performances on display here are amazing. One boy, Tim Martin, performs tricks with the rope spinning so fast that it can't be captured on film. The kids are charismatic, and the movie was a crowd-pleaser in general, highly entertaining and uplifting.
“The Aerial” (aka “La Antena” in the original Spanish) is a modern film shot as if it were a silent film from the 1920s.It has a Fritz Lang-ish, Metropolis sort of vibe, but the film it most reminded me of was actually “L'Idée” because of the similar themes.
The movie takes place in a city where all the voices of the people have been stolen.Everyone communicates by reading lips (this leads to some clever visual jokes- for example, a megaphone now consists of a device to magnify the lips of the speaker to make them more easily visible).Only one woman (La Voz, or The Voice) can speak, and she is the star of the TV network run by the evil Mr. TV, who has a diabolical plot afoot to steal all words away from the people entirely.Unbeknownst to Mr. TV, The Voice has a son (who has no eyes – they’re covered by a very creepy prosthetic) who can also speak.A TV repairman and his family rescue the boy and try to defeat Mr. TV by counteracting his doomsday device with their own transmission from an old abandoned TV antenna in the mountains outside the city.
It’s all about freedom of speech (or the lack thereof) but with the twist that the silencing isn’t being done in the name of government or ideology, but in service to commerce.We find out (spoiler alert!) that the stolen voices and words are the raw material used to produce the “TV food” that is the sole source of food in the city and Mr. TV’s source of income.
Amusingly, I just finished reading Terry Pratchett’s Discworld novel “Going Postal” this week, and it makes some similar points.For example, below is a description of a newspaper article about the villainous financial con-man Reacher Gilt and the communication company he’s in the process of gutting:
You had to admire the way perfectly innocent words were mugged, ravished, stripped of all true meaning and decency, and then sent to walk the gutter for Reacher Gilt, although “synergistically” had probably been a whore from the start…. The Times reporter had made an effort, but nothing short of a stampede could have stopped Reacher Gilt in his crazed assault on the meaning of meaning.The Grand Trunk “was about people” and the reporter had completely failed to ask what that meant, exactly? … Meaningless, stupid words, from people without wisdom or intelligence or any skill beyond the ability to water the currency of expression.Oh, the Grand Trunk sood for everything, from life and liberty to Mom’s homemade Distressed Pudding.It stood for everything, except anything.
Visually, the movie is very striking.Subtitles (in Spanish) are used instead of title cards, and this movie goes on the short list of ones that I have seen (the others being Night Watch and Man on Fire) that use subtitles not just for putting words up on screen but also for conveying mood and meaning.
Probably my single favorite sequence is where the family inflate themselves like balloons and float away to the mountains.The mountains themselves are constructed from wadded-up pages torn from books, and it works both as a special effect and a nod to the theme.