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Monthly Archives: August 2011

Often times I’ll allow myself to be sucked up in a world event, probably to the detriment of both my sanity and my home life. Nothing stirs the mental pot or sends the family pets into hiding more so than my fretting over a catastrophic world event. In some cases, I’ll even reference the predictions of Nostradamus to find either confirmation or deeper meaning. After all, he was right about the three Kennedy brothers – Ted did eventually die. So I was quite shaken when I came across the following quatrain and its relation to Hurricane Irene:

Hurry, Cain, and raise it like never before
Eye see you, but to your rage we are invisible
Coast along with the force of hell
Dare to kill the devil with crashing waves
Draped in Ire’s “pretty red dress”
– Century XXI, Quatrain 11

As I was near the point of sharing this revelation with others, I noticed some clues were less subtle while others seemed void of reference. However, as Irene proceeded up the East Coast, a few things stopped me from declaring that the sky was falling. The scenes of mummified news people reporting from overcast, windy beaches while in the background surfers waited for the emergence of at least one credible pipe wave. Claims of ships heading to the eye of Irene to ride it out, even though radar tracking clearly indicated an eyeless storm that had most likely drifted off into an irritable slumber. And a photo of the president at the helm at the hurricane command center appeared more like open mic at a local radio station’s state fair booth. (The weather was most likely not golf-friendly up at Martha’s Vineyard, so why not spend the day playing meteorological video games at the NRCC?)

Thankfully, I had sense enough to refer back to the original quatrain and to read the next one:

Rumors travel far and wide
Peddling fear from rainbow’s end
…A leader wasting a crisis not
Worst is soggy boots and foamy beaches
Only the masses’ minds are soaking wet
– Century XXI, Quatrain 11.1

So here’s an instance where the president and his advisers, the professional meteorologists, and the media sensationalists, would all have been well-advised to rely on the predictions of Nostradamus. After all, everyone of the computer models, pointed in the same direction, proved inaccurate. Guess I wasn’t the only one getting worked up over nothing.

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I was a senior in high school in the fall of 1980. There were no cell phones or MP3 players. In fact, some of us were still either tying up the party-line or spinning vinyl on a tabletop. While revisiting the flick “No Country for Old Men”, which takes place in 1980, it occurred to me how disconnected we were back then. If you weren’t comfortably ensconced in your 10-20 but, instead, caught up in some kind of trouble, a CB or a pay phone – if there was one nearby – became the source of communication. And unless you were scoring it big in Vegas, that satchel of riches you found during a drug deal gone bad was most likely being tracked by some ne’er-do-well’s transponder.

Llewelyn Moss, welder and somber pseudo-adventurer, finds himself in such a situation that leads him on a path absent of direct lines to the virtual world. As it turns out, quick access to others is what is needed to stay ahead of a deadly finish at the hands of either a ruthless cartel agent or those of a Mexican gang. Without it, Moss is forced to step slowly through time while looking over his shoulder. One motel after another replaces today’s version of online speed buying, i.e., finding the best route to get the hell outta Dodge, and fast. His movements are just as quiet as those of the relaxed Web surfer, only his results are far more unknown and drawn out, like the long fuse to a pile of dynamite. We know something’s got to give because, all the while, he just can’t get out of the way of flying projectiles, which are the only things moving fast in his world.

Local sheriff Ed Tom Bell provides the most acute summary of the times while attempting to locate Moss before it’s too late: “Time will flatten a man”. And although this statement was in reference to his “linear” analysis of a string of crimes, it’s apt to note that those who don’t conform to change do eventually become fodder for the steamroller known as time. And in Ed Tom’s case it’s a combination of his age and a degrading of the moral landscape that flattens and frightens him enough to up and quit.

Anton Chigurh, hired hitman and purveyor of chance, provides a glimpse into the future. He appears to be a man ahead of his time, possessing both cunning and calculated resourcefulness. He manages to make use of the hard-copy clues provided in order to track down Moss, e.g., the serial number plate from a pickup door or a telephone bill. But perhaps he would have been out of his element in today’s world of technological surveillance, and bored to tears by the lack of no longer needing to walk in stocking feet across the pavement in an attempt to surprise his victim. But I’m guessing that’s just him. I think there are plenty of others available to make use of today’s technology so as to do the quick, sanitary work that makes up the underworld. Think identity theft.

The more I think about this movie, the more I dislike it. I went into the theater with the pre-conceived notion that if the humans were to allow the apes to take over the planet, then the humans had no right managing it in the first place. C’mon! They’re apes! Well, this proved truer than I imagined.

If I hadn’t known this was a Fox production, I would have thought Disney played a hand in the manipulation of the audience’s heartstrings. Rated PG-13, it seemed evident Fox was shooting for as young an audience as possible. And in order to accomplish this, the main character, Caesar, was given all the CGI characteristics of an evolving curious child and into those of a maturing adolescent with a contemporary teenage attitude. I think what soured me in this attempt at human conformity was the fact that the more Caesar became human-like, the meaner he got, until he finally reaches crusader-like status. But it’s hard to imagine an ape inspired by such notions as liberty and equality unless he’s been injected with mind-altering drugs. Such was the case here. In order to make a lot of money for its investors – oh, yeah, and to help cure Alzheimer’s – the nasty corporation’s research team uses apes for testing the latest formula.

The humans really hadn’t a chance as the script had them all behaving far too human. Greed, abuse and selfishness proved to be their undoing, and I think this was subtly underscored by the production’s efforts to victimize the apes from start to finish through experimental subjugation, incarceration and abuse – a sort of simian holocaust. Such cruelty can only lead to insurrection and reprisals. And, taking only one smart ape to incite the brotherhood, the carnage begins. But once again, Fox, rather than going for gratuitous realism, chooses to entertain the multitudes with incredible and sanitized scenes of violence. Can apes really organize and climb to the foggy tops of the Golden Gate Bridge, or monkey-bar their way beneath it, and slam hard on stupefied law enforcement? This scene appeared more like flash mobbery on steroids. God help us all should today’s youth become this intelligent, agile and aggressive.

I finished “The Razor’s Edge” last evening. I found the only huge difference between the book and the movies to be the in-depth, all-night discussion Maugham and Larry had in a restaurant. That helped to answer some of the questions about Larry that the movies barely touch on. The discussion reminded me of “My Dinner with Andre” and, in fact, it seemed to end similarly, i.e., neither seemed to change the other’s perspective, which, I’m sure, wasn’t the primary intent anyway. But it was interesting to see that although both Andre and Larry each had their own sort of epiphany through the years, neither proved strong enough to sway the world view of each one’s respective listener. I found myself not swayed as well, and in that sense, the book was a bit of a letdown. I’m glad I read it as it is well-written and describes an interesting time in history, but my death anxiety remains challenged and I still agree with the assertion life is absurd. I would question whether Larry really found happiness or not. To my point of view, he’s no different than the rest of us, forced to live among people, some of which can be quite annoying or nasty. There’s nothing like running into someone from the other end of the spectrum to make one ask, “Do I really have life figured out or not?”

Your spouse has just been shot by a nearby assailant right before your eyes. You’re probably next to be shot at. Do you run or stay?

Mine:

In a flash everything is hotter. The high sun. The shouting. The parking lot. The trace of a hot breeze. The back of my neck. Hot. Hot with anguish and confusion. I see the dark barrel in someone’s hands. It too looks hot.

My wife’s face, unrecognizable, is a sweaty mess, her mouth agape with screaming eyes while frightened strands of hair cling to her forehead. Is the warm blood pooling around her beginning to boil against the hot pavement? Quick! Decide!

In a flash everything is colder. The shading from a crowd of unrecognizable faces provides a comfortable coolness. White sheets flowing in the wind, so clean and cool, like ghosts chasing lost souls. The sun is dimming, not so bright, as my eyes pool with coolness filled with contentment. I breathe. Deep. Hard. Cool. My wife’s hand is as cold as mine. She and I are together. And we are not so lost.