Monthly Archives: February 2014

Why I still don’t read slate.

Getting hard to read anything on the internet. Thank goodness for steady stream of Anrgy Birds levels.

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Untimely Reviews: Fanboys Hate George Lucas, Apparently

This documentary lost me less than half-way through. The entire movie is a kaleidescope of sound bites from random fanboys who appear to have no particular expertise or social capital required to keep my attention. At one point, one of the random people says something like, “Our opinions don’t matter anymore. We are old and paunchy!” As an aside, there is a clinically big difference between paunchy and morbidly obese. The increased mortality of these fanboys means that in another 20 years, they won’t be around to complain about George Lucas. 

Age is most certainly a factor to the viewpoint of this documentary. Fictional character Barney Stimpson calls May 25, 1973, Ewok Line. If you born after the Ewok Line like me and my children, you find the Ewoks funny and cute. If you are born before the Ewok line, like all of the fanboys in “The People Verus George Lucas”, then you think the Ewoks are stupid. Full presentation available here

Perhaps the opposite is also true; folks born after the Ewok Line may be more likely to find complaints about “Star Wars” to be overly cynical and pointless. 

There is also, in my mind, the myth about “The Empire Strikes Back” being great because it was the darkest movie. First off, hardly anyone dies in “The Empire Strikes Back”. None of the main characters die and Luke even gets a robot hand to replace his real hand. By comparison, the original “Star Wars” had a huge body count: hundres of dead Jawas, the crispy corpses of Uncle Owen and Aunt Beru, and the billions of Alderonians exploded into space. The “I know” line is also misinterpreted. Many think of the line as a kind of an F-you. Earlier in the film, though, Han impishly tries to goad Leia into admit that she loves him. The “I know” line is comparable to the mom’s monologue from “Terms of Endearment”. Just listen to Harrison Ford’s voice. His tone is comforting, not bitter. Then “The Empire Strikes Back” ends with everybody safe and ready for the next adventure. This ending was hardly the portent for the bummer endings demanded by today’s portly fanboys. 

Criticism of the Star Wars prequels and “The Kingdom of the Crystal Skull” are fair in their own right. All four movies suffer from over use of computer generated effects and clearly George Lucas was past his creative prime at the time these movies were made. And I do mean George Lucas was past his creative prime. I remember seeing “The Phantom Menace” on opening day. There were waiting lines of excited young fans in costume, giddy as all get out. (Because the prequel was showing on so many screes, the lines were in fact unnecessary. I just walked right in and bought a ticket). Everyone was yelling with excited joy as the scrawl started. Then everyone fell silent as they read the words “The taxation of trade routes to outlying star systems is in dispute.” This is not how you open a movie in your creative prime. (My kids have not seen it, and without an understanding of tax law, perhaps they will love it.) But the prequels and “The Kindgom of the Crystal Skull” were not made by Lucas alone. And now George Lucas has sold the rights to Star Wars. From here on out, the fans cannot blame him for anything. 

Maybe my problem with this documentary is the sole focus on fan opinion.  “The People vs. George Lucas” needed the insider-outsider’s perspective. William Shatner made the wonderfully entertaining “The Captains” and “How William Shatner Changed the World“. Shatner, of course, is not a fan. His connection between the success of a Star Trek spin-off and how positively it portrays technology is particularly hilarious and insightful. Fans tend to polarize to admiration and loathing, making their opinions rather pointless. If “The People vs. George Lucas” had someone like Shatner to give it focus, I might have watched all of it. 

 

 

Viruses

An affliction with. a virus this week has lead to a panoply of thoughts, few of them are good.

My virus is clearly set upon transmitting itself to another human. Every orifice on my face is leaking fluids. My eyes are tearing so much I look like I just watched “Lorenzo’s Oil” for the first time. My mouth is a swimming pool of saliva. I shan’t reward the virus by spitting. My nose of course runs like a leaky faucet, only to dry up like a lizard in the sun. Even my ear wax is building up. The worst offender is the cough. One cough can fill a whole room with virus particles and in the meantime every cough breaks my concentration.

The most excellent strategy of the virus is keeping me mostly alive and healthy. The cold virus hardly dents the health of its victims and there are more than 200 varieties at a given time. The more deadly flu is much rarer. Ebola and West Nile are rarer yet. Despite the fear of super viruses, the selection pressure pushes viruses to be more mild, not more deadly. That these viruses have no conscience strategy is all the more vexing, in my opinion, though their evolutionary paths do create the opportunity for virus extinction. Virus evolution is only present in progeny and a virus cannot make progeny when its been wiped out. In other words, be a deterministic being, beat the viruses, and get yourself vaccinated.  

Aside of the terrible symptoms, my other thought was to my deteriorating will power. Fighting a fever, headache, and general wooziness, ever positive act is a drain on willpower. I let my local grocery store charge me too much for Chinese food because I was too tired to go back to the deli section and ask for a new price sticker. All I wanted to do was sit down in the front seat of my car and it only cost me a couple of dollars. If the store knew I was in such bad shape – fever, headache, fatigue, and labored breathing – I would charge them with duress. Quick tip: if you feel bad, then you should put off major decisions until you feel healthy again.

Lastly, my thoughts are on quarantine. At work I can slink into my office where my coughing sputum cannot sicken my coworkers. My strategy must be working, because no one in my office has been infected all week. At home, there is not practical way to protect my family from whatever virus I have. My theory is that I have the flu and they are immune because we were all vaccinated back in October. Of course, I was vaccinated and I came down with something. True, but keep in mind that the flu virus is always mutating and there are many varieties. The flu vaccine only covers the most common of the most recent flu viruses. Antibodies are not little decision makers, though, and if they can stick to an antigen, they will. This means that a flue vaccine or a bout with the flu will help you create antibodies that can attenuate other flu viruses. (I used to study viruses; I know these things.) My theory is that my family all got lucky, and their antibodies are crushing the virus that is making me miserable. Either that or they are about to get hit hard by whatever attacker I am spewing out with each cough.