Thoughts on “Avatar”

Today, I had to see what all the buzz was about. Me and my wife saw Avatar in 3D before she had to go to work. The  3D was a nice effect, but after over two hours of that, I had pretty bad motion sickness getting out of the theater. I think I’d enjoy the movie more minus the nausea.

spoiler alert ** do not continue if you don’t want the plot revealed (this is really intended reading for people who watched the movie anyway, not a proper review; I don’t do movie reviews)

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Why do the Morlocks still Clothe the Eloi?

(note to friends: I meant to post this way earlier but hadn’t had time to edit it down. That’s why it refers to events way past. But the point is still fresh)

As is my fashion, I read a book on the plane. I read Time Machine on the way to Japan and King Hrolf Kraki’s saga on the way back. I have nothing to say about the latter except it would make an awesome series of movies with endless sequels and that modern literature lacks the sheer succinctness of poets of old. Of the Time Machine, well, what can I say, it was awesome, as expected. I also wonder why I didn’t read it earlier. It’s exactly the kind of book I would have read as a teenager, though I was much more into Asimov and Clark back then.

What made H.G. Wells such an awesome sci-fi writer (aside from those qualities that made him just plain old a good writer) was his ability to suspend disbelief by bringing heavy doses of real science into his stories while he makes his political commentary. My disbelief is not so easily suspended (one reason I seldom enjoy movies), so of course the SciFi I like is hard sci-fi, though I can appreciate the preposterous if it is at least internally consistent (e.g., if the way magic works makes sense and the world is as it would be were there magic; Lovecraft did this better than anyone else). His science isn’t the point of the novel. It isn’t to warn of an eventuality, but to make a separate point. It’s the good (for the time) science that draws you into the tale. Continue reading

Compare and Weep (plus, bonus Ponyo Review)

Saw Ponyo a few nights ago. Highly recommended, but I do not want to give away plot details. Rather, I want to call attention to a murder that took place. A Disney-hired thug shot down this:

and replaced it with this monstrosity:

It’s hard to believe that they are (supposedly) the same song. The first is emotional, fun, bouncy, full of life. There’s expressiveness in the kid’s voice. The second sounds like I was sleep deprived and drunk and needed to turn in a song by the next day.. Sure, the first lacks “cool” (as if that’s what’s needed to make something kids like), while the second tries so hard to be cool, which only means that in 3 short years it will be worse than uncool. It will be like latter-era Elvis. FAIL


Anyway, do watch the movie. Disney deserves credit for putting the effort (if sometimes misplaced) in bringing Miyazaki’s movies to the monolingual masses in America. I recommend watching it subtitled if you can read fast enough. If you’re watching it with kids then, yeah, you’ll probably want to dub it. Better yet, teach your kids Japanese! You know how kids have this annoying tendency to do things over and over again? Well, if your kid insists on watching this repeatedly, let them, but force them to watch it in Japanese with no subtitles subsequent times. That’ll teach ‘em.. Japanese, that is.

(read below for what I think of the movie, some spoilers contained)
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Dream my Wife Had The Other Night (Makings of a Horror Flick)

My wife told me about a strange nightmare she had when she woke up. I thought it was interesting enough I had her dictate it to me again so I can unleash on the world the melodramatic horror flick that appeared before her rapidly moving eyes (R.E.M.)

She saw the dream from the perspective of a student in a boarding school. She was at a party at a restaurant with all of her friends and everyone else was leaving for downtown LA, perhaps to go to a club or something like that. The girl had to meet her mom so couldn’t go with her friends. She called her mother and then found out, however, that she wasn’t needed, so she called her friend so they could share a cab to downtown to meet their friends. When she went down to meet her friend, she saw her in the taxi alone. When she entered, her friend told her that the taxi driver left and didn’t come back. The girl decided to drive her and her friend in the cab to the police station to let them know that the car was abandoned. The police questioned us about the appearance of the man so they could possibly identify him. Some way or another, the two friends finally arrived in downtown and had fun with their classmates.

Back in the dormitory, something weird and suspicious kept happening to the girl to make her feel that someone was out to get her. Perhaps it was a sound or just a feeling she had in her gut. She had the ominous feeling that somebody was going to do something evil. There was a poster in her dorm room that was left there from the previous inhabitant. The girl never took it down because she liked it, but took it down thinking it might be covering something up and found a hole. Her heart sunk; she realized that somebody has always been watching her. She stormed out of the room and the girl she thought was a good friend of hers (the girl she was in a cab with) was found to be a something such as a ghoul that eats humans and leads a pack of other ghouls who do her bidding. She infects them and turns them into her servants, helping her hunt down people to eat. It was a dramatic scene with all of her friends, including her best friend, turning out to be monsters and in the dorm hallway.

“Hah, you remember that one time that the taxi driver disappeared and we reported it to the police?,” asked the girl’s “friend” who turned out to be the leader of the ghouls, “You know what happened to him? I ate him! That’s why he disappeared!” The girl stormed out from the dorm, running with the ghouls chasing her. Somehow, she ended up in the fashion district. She found a costume store that looked narrow from the outside, but was really deep and two-storied. The third floor was, like many stores in the fashion district, a residential floor for the owners to live in. She arrived at the top floor. Even though she was running away from ghouls, she felt guilty about intruding into the owners’ private space. In the residence, she saw three nice middle-aged women eating dinner together. She told them that she was in danger and they said that she could stay there for as long as she wants, provided she helps with the business.

It was a peaceful period for a while. She would go out, using a different costume each time so the monsters wouldn’t find her. She’s been going out like that so she thought it would be okay to do just live that way indefinitely. Perhaps the ghouls forgot her, she thought. Maybe she could just stay this way. But, one day she saw that they found her and ran back home from the store and went upstairs, finding all three of the nice women who lived above the store, dead. She felt a rush of guilt that they hid her and because of her, died. The ghouls almost found her and almost got into the store. There was nowhere to go. She got to above a beam above the store and they were trying to get up to her, looking up hungrily. She become progressively more and more panicked when suddenly I (Thomas Webb) appeared and unleashed the ultimate weapon – I peed on them. The urine was very painful to them, especially their eyes. The girl (or perhaps by this point in the dream, the girl became my wife, identities do shift around in dreams) jumped off the beam and killed every last one of them. When I killed the leader with a Japanese sword (which the costume store had), the servants started screaming in agony.

It was a mixed victory. While she was thinking that she finally won, she also had this feeling of guilt that that killed somebody and that, though she saved herself, she has to live with the guilt of having murdered the rest of her life.