Water, Minerals, and Incredible Things

Well, The Boy has been on this new diet for two months. So far, everything that the nutritionist has suggested would happen has happened. He’s had a few crashes that slowly came back up, but now we’re at the point where his body needs less fake insulin, or so the theory goes.

In practice, he’s reduced his per-meal insulin by half, while maintaining excellent blood sugar levels. He’s less thrown off by dietary lapses, as well. Too many carbs raise his blood sugar less dramatically and for less long. (It used to take him days to get it back under control sometimes.)

As for me, well, I’m losing weight. Sort of funny: I think the walking for 20, 30 plus hours a week built up muscle as much as it reduced fat, so no weight change. Not losing weight drinking the water is a little harder to explain, except that I was very dehydrated.

I’m not supposed to be exercising right now and meat is out, to say nothing of the various junk foods, and it’s difficult to impossible to maintain my weight without those things. (No tragedy; I can stand to lose a few pounds.) I am missing exercising, though.

Encouragement to be as good as I can so as to get my body in good enough shape to actually use it, I guess.

Automatic For The People

World peace, unlimited cheap energy, and higher MPGs in our cars: These are things we can all agree upon would be good to have. And it’s a characteristic of the juvenile mind to think that they can be accomplished by fiat, as unalloyed goods. If only, the child thinks, everyone thought like me, the world would be a better place.

But, of course, most things either can’t be accomplished by fiat, or have unforeseen consequences, which is why the founders of the American Republic sought to limit the power any individual or group of individuals can have through politics.

Since those limits are gone, now, we’ll get to learn (again) why they were such a good idea. First item:

1. Proposed mileage standards would kill more Americans than the Iraq War.

It’s no mean engineering feat to increase mileage in automobiles. My first new car was a Dodge Colt, and I got 43 miles to the gallon from it. (Modern hybrids seem to be hovering around 50.) But I could single-handedly push that Colt up a hill. I religiously drove the speed limit (55 mph at the time) in that car until I started doing deliveries around the Southland, and found 16-wheelers bearing down on me going 80.

Because, as my buds and I used to joke, the right of way goes to the car with the greatest momentum.

So we’ll get cars that have better mileage. We’ll pay for it, in blood and treasure. And this massive, Constitutionally unjustifiable exertion of power will be viewed as a nobler pursuit than overthrowing a tyrant.

And just in case you thought something more sophisticated than “fiat lux” was going on, we have item #2, a quote from an anonymous Obama administration official:

2. You don’t need banks and bondholders to build cars.

No, apparently, you only need to wish them to be, and voila! Also, an unlimited supply of tax money helps.

We live in interesting times.

The Anderson Tapes

TCM aired a rare Sean Connery movie called The Anderson Tapes on Friday. (I think it’s sort of become “rare” recently; it may have been a TV staple in pre-cable days.) I tuned in late, so I didn’t watch it much, but I had to stop because I saw Christoper Walken as “the Kid”.

He really did look like a kid, too, though he was in is late 20s. And then I saw Dyan Cannon, who was one of my earliest movie crushes. There’s only seven years between them but Sean was letting his baldiness come through–which actually just makes him cooler, in my opinion.

As clinical matter, keeping with the theme of this blog, I feel obliged to point out that Ms. Cannon has not ever had the pointy breasts.

By the way, Dyan Cannon was married for a short time to Cary Grant. If you’re a Cary Grant fan (as I am), you probably don’t want to know about this, since it reveals a much less glamorous Grant than his impossibly suave persona.

But they had a kid, his only and her only, I think. She is, as you might imagine, quite good looking, and has her mother’s smile:

Star Trek: The Next NEXT Generation

I’ve never been a Trekkie or a Trekker. In fact, my mom was a big fan of “Star Trek” and because I hated certain episodes (“Miri”, “And The Children Shall Lead”) but had to watch them anyway, it took me a couple of decades to where I could like the show.

I got into “The Next Generation” for a while but it got more and more ponderous as the series wore on. It seemed that every alien just needed a sympathetic ear and all technology was environmentally destructive. (I’ve heard that Roddenberry had to remind the writers that technophobia was not an appropriate attitude for the show.)

I loved “Deep Space Nine”. Which, it must be confessed, is barely Star Trek at all. Dark, with religion and spirituality woven in, reveling in the dark parts of society that Roddenberry would have us believe didn’t exist (yet which all turned up in the third season of the original series).

The less said about “Voyager” and “Enterprise” the better. (Well, okay, “Voyager” was “Star Trek meets The Lifetime Channel”. “Enterprise” should have worked. And yet, didn’t. Well, I heard it got better after I–and practically everyone else–stopped watching.)

So, was I excited about the new “reboot”? Nah, not really. “Curious” is a better word. The only JJ Abrams stuff I’m familiar with is Cloverfield, which is a good movie made of a pretty thin gruel. All good directors can do that. See The Birds or, hell, look at what Gore Verbinski did with the Pirates of the Caribbean or even Mouse Hunt.

This is kind of the reverse scenario. There’s too much in the “Star Trek” universe–much of it contradictory–to capture in a movie. And if “Enterprise” proved anything, it was that retconning is incredibly dull, except perhaps to die-hard fans.

Now that I’ve seen it, my reaction is a kind of generally positive “Meh”. Read on.

Dropping the canon was an excellent choice: They actually manage to do some pretty surprising things by untethering themselves from the bloated beast that is the Trek universe, while still making plenty of references. And you can savor the irony of fans being upset by this by noting that the device used to justify the changes is a Trek cliché that formed the basis for half the movies and TV series.

It was also smart of Chris Pine, who plays Kirk, not to study Shatner. While I’ve long maintained that Shatner’s performance–his utter conviction in selling some truly awful storylines in front of papier mache backdrops–is a big part of the reason the original show is watchable at all, his performance style is too iconic to be imitated without creating an entirely surreal atmosphere. Pine–apparently drawing on Indiana Jones and Han Solo–still manages to evoke a famliar feeling Kirk.

Using relatively little known actors was also a good choice. The first person I recognized was Bruce Greenwood, playing Captain Christopher Pike, the captain that young Kirk is supposed to serve under. (OK, I “recognized” Eric Bana as the villain, but only because I knew it was him. Bana for some reason never makes enough of an impression on me where I could actually identify him.) I didn’t really recognize Winona Ryder (in Jane Wyatt’s old role as Spock’s mother), though, so maybe I should just give up that battle right there.

The acting is, overall, very solid. Casa Maelstrom favorite Simon Pegg does a nice job as Scotty and Karl Urban steals the show as “Bones” McCoy, channeling the late DeForest Kelley without seeming like a parody. Zoe Saldana plays the Uhura role Nichelle Nichols wishes Uhura had been wrttten for her. John Cho (Harold, of “Harold and Kumar”) plays a tough guy Sulu, while Anton Yelchin (Bird from “!huff”) does a super-young Chekov (with heavier accent than Walter Koneig) to round out the core crew.

The action is pretty good. Kirk is drawn as a rash, arrogant, cocky SOB, and this often results in him getting the crap beaten out of him. (He gets beaten up by redshirts! Who are actually portrayed as pretty tough in this, in contrast to the original series.) They resist the urge to make him a superhero, good at everything, which gives the rest of the crew a chance to do their things.

So, if I consider it a decent homage to the past and a good, fresh summer action flick, why am I sort of “meh”? I think because it’s not really great at either. One thing that Star Trek is known for is absurd plot resolutions, the sci-fi equivalent of deus ex machina. “The Next Generation” was so awful in this regard, that it probably put “reversing the polarity” into the cultural lexicon.

There are plenty of absurd situations which might be suspenseful if one didn’t know how things sort of had to turn out. And even if you don’t watch the show, there are certain things you know. So when Kirk is stranded on a remote planet with no way (in the story’s own terms) to catch up to the plot, you know that some sort of technological magic is going to have to arise.

This ultimately diminishes the movie. I would’ve liked to see a reboot like the Bond reboot that eschewed the dumber aspects of the franchise.

The other thing that really diminishes it is Leonard Nimoy. Not that I don’t love the guy, or that he does a bad job. It’s nice to see him don the ears again after 15 years. But he’s a crutch, the deus ex the machina. He acts as both fan service and plot device, and I thank God they didn’t resurrect Shatner for Kirk, despite the pressure. (Kirk pretty definitively died in the first TNG movie.)

The whole thing feels a little stale to me, even with the new angle and approach. Now I’m not sure a (much) better outcome was actually possible here–certainly much worse outcomes were–so I’m disinclined to cast any stones. The kids should like it, the fans (who are a shrinking base, I think) maybe less so, depending on how invested they are in the original history.

The Boy liked it quite a bit, saying it was a lot more than he expected. The two Trek fans I know (including the one I saw it with) also liked it. My mom’s convinced, well-trained as she is, that they’ll move the new franchise in to merge with the old history. I’m trying to explain that the whole point of the movie was to reimagine a lot of this stuff. We have a bet that a certain minor character that died is (or isn’t, I say) going to come back in a later movie as a result.

There’s a lot about this movie that is really well done, too. The production values are quite good. They eschewed the trend of making things darker, both with the physical setting and attitude, and kept it light, even when things were, plot-wise, dire.

Strangely, the music is sort of disappointing. Michael Giacchino, who did the marvelous scores for The Incredibles and Ratatouille, never really delivers the goods with a iconic, hummable tune a la Alexander Courage (who wrote the theme to the original) or Jerry Goldsmith (who wrote the movie theme which became the theme for “The Next Generation”).

Maybe I’m just a grouch, here, or still burnt out from past disappointments, not feeling energized (no pun intended) by the new stuff, and not excited enough by the old stuff to really have that carry me through.

It’s not that I thought it was bad, it’s just that it wasn’t as good as I wanted it to be.

Government: Is there nothing it can’t do?

No, that’s not a rhetorical question.

I’m just wondering, with all the things the government is doing, like stealing from unfavored groups to give to favored groups–which, when the government breaks a contract to do, is theft, after all–if there is anything that supporters of the current administration would say, “No, nu-uh, they can’t do that.”

After all, Obama’s doing everything Bush did. Gitmo, interrogations, rendition, eavesdropping, increasing executive power, etc., etc., etc. And he seems to have claimed authority over private business–finances, automobiles, health care, and salaries–so, really, answer me that.

What can’t the government do?

All Clear

OK, so tests came back and everything’s fine.

Phew.

Everyone’s happy with the results. No need for further tests. And my dietary numbers look good, too. Well, not good, but better.

I’m still not allowed to exercise. Exercise may have contributed to the situation, actually. (Though my money’s still on the antibiotics.)

In any event, I’m good to go. I live…again.

UPDATE: And pardon my manners. Thank you all for being so supportive here. Means a lot, even though I wasn’t all that communicative about it.

More Trooper York Fan Service

TCM and I have a Twitter relationship now. (It was inevitable.)

So when I followed this tweet, I thought of Trooper York: TCM’s five favorite bathtub scenes! Er, no, five favorite movies with bathtub scenes. (There’s a difference, I’m sure.)

  1. SPARTACUS (1960)
  2. PILLOW TALK (1959)
  3. PRETTY WOMAN (1990)
  1. THE SIGN OF THE CROSS (1932)
  2. THE WOMEN (1939)

Not bad. I think I would’ve picked–er, excluding the late night Cinemax movies which often have some stirring bathtub scenes–some Westerns. When I think of baths in movies (before considering actual titles), I think of Westerns, movies set in Ancient Greece or Rome, or maybe Japan.

I’ve having trouble thinking of specific titles right at the moment. The Cheyenne Social Club? I think Fonda and/or Stewart bathe in that one. Clint Eastwood was always taking a bath, it seemed like. Even in Gran Torino! Caligula had a lot of scenes in and around a bath….

OK, here’s one: My Neighbor Totoro. Great kids/family movie. Bathing is significant in that one. Though not as significant as in Spirited Away, which takes place in a bath house that services “demons”. Both Hayao Miyazaki.

Nightmare on Elm Street. Great horror bath scene. David Cronenberg’s Shivers (aka They Came From Within) had a horrifying bathtub scene used in some of the movie posters.

Actually, the more I think about it, the more horror bathtub scenes I can think of: The Shining, the absolutely horrifying drowning scene in The Changeling, Final Destination. Geeze, between Psycho for showers and these movies, it’s amazing anyone ever gets clean.

This Guy…

…is so gettin’ some:

“Apparently the guy was getting ready to rape his girlfriend. So he told the girls to get down and he started shooting. The guy jumped out of the window,” said Bailey.

Hell, the guys should be queuing up.

Seriously, though, he missed the second guy. More time at the range. The would-be rapist has been picked up, allegedly.

No word on whether College Park is a gun-free zone or if the student who saved the lives of his ten friends would be prosecuted.

Lists You Should Not Take Seriously

Actually, most of them should not be taken seriously. But this one here is called “14 Bizarre Movies Everyone Should See”.

Do.

Not.

Believe.

It’s not that these aren’t good movies, nor that a serious student of film should have many of these on their list, but they are not at all “everyone should see” people-pleasing films. The whole premise is flawed. A great many people do not like bizarre movies. They should not be subjected to them. As a cinephile, I do enjoy many of these movies, and yet feel equally confident knowing that some people just would not enjoy them or find viewing them enriching experiences.

Some of these are slam dunks. Like Scanners. In some ways, David Cronenberg’s break-through movie, and a surprisingly deep and thoughtful horror film, for a movie which is most notorious for having a guy’s head explode. But the funny thing about it is that while the gore early on in the film is enough to rule out a good portion of the potential audience, the sedate, ‘70s hippie vibe that permeates the rest of the movie is enough to turn off a lot of those who like exploding heads. (The great Howard Shore scored the movie, but it’s hard on the ears.)

Clockwork Orange is in some ways very similar. Higher production values, obviously. But very much a combination of brutal violence and high art that is really not something that everyone has to, or wants to, see. And some folks just plain don’t like Kubrick.

Which brings us to Mullholland Drive and Eraserhead? Look, you probably know if you like David Lynch by now. There isn’t something magical about these movies that’s going to change your mind.

Same for Brazil (Terry Gilliam) and The Wall (Pink Floyd).

And so on. It’s not a bad list for someone looking for some interesting cinematic experiences, though it’s certainly not the list I would make. But everyone? Not even close.