Sunday, September 08, 2019

...and away we go...

It's been nice to know you, folks.

My silly season at work is about to kick off. I expect stress, overtime, and more typing than I have ever done in my life.
There will be blogs coming, as time permits, documenting the amazing weekend coming up.  Eva's got another guest blog coming about the big 5-0.  That will likely be all, barring something catastrophic, for quite some time.

This, accordingly, will be a cranial cleaning blog, gathering up a bunch of unrelated flotsam and jetsam in my head and getting it out.

Incidentally, how many of my readers know the difference? Flotsam is floating debris from a shipwreck and is the property of the original owner; jetsam is something jettisoned, deliberately thrown overboard, and is the property of whomever discovers it.

Drives Eva nuts, sometimes, my love of words and etymologies. It's a running gag in our house..."hey love, what's the difference between a nook and a cr"---"SHUT UP! DON'T KNOW, DON'T CARE!"

(ssssh...a nook is a corner, a recess, or an alcove; a a cranny is a small narrow opening, a crack, a fissure.)


Currently reading: CEMETARY ROAD, by Greg Iles. I have only three authors whose new works I will buy sight unseen without blinking. I've raved here about Guy Gavriel Kay, the Canadian historical fantasist whose novels usually concern little people swept up into extraordinary events. Peter F. Hamilton is the second: he tends towards grand, sweeping space operas. The third is Greg Iles.

He started off writing World War II thrillers, but quickly settled into a groove crafting rich, emotionally riveting novels about the American South. He's a streamlined and more action-oriented Pat Conroy, and believe me, that's high praise from me. His Natchez Burning magnum opus was a tour de force that was extremely difficult to read in places. Parts of it are set in the Jim Crow era, and I felt the racism was sickeningly over the top...a little supplementary research showed me that no, it was normal for that time and place. This is the sort of series that demands about seven HBO seasons.
CEMETARY ROAD is his first novel since that trilogy's conclusion, and I'm loving it.

Recent movie: IT chapter 2. I have anticipated this ever since Dad took me to the first part two years ago.

I ended up seeing this one alone. The why of that is a long, convoluted story, the telling of which would violate someone's privacy, and so we'll let that be.
I haven't been to a movie alone since Gone Girl. I bought my ticket--close to the front, at the center--and found someone sitting in my seat. He urged me to sit next to him, and I had to politely demur. I had purchased seat A16; I had no idea who might have purchased A15 and A17, but I also know the gentleman in A16 should have been somewhere else. He moved down a few seats, and proceeded to mutter all through the movie.

The critics don't always get it right. This movie has been very poorly reviewed. The general consensus is that it's (a) too long and (b) not scary. There are also more than a few reviewers upset about the opening gay-bashing scene, recreated faithfully from the novel.
Let me dispense with these criticisms. With all due apologies to the Dark Tower series, I consider IT to be King's magnum opus on horror. But it's much more than that. If you've seen Stand By Me...this movie is that movie on steroids. It's a treatise on childhood innocence, overcoming fears, and the bonds of friendship, and it just happens to have an evil, shapeshifting entity whose primary face is that of a clown.

For me, (a) devout fan, the two hour, 49 minute runtime flew by. I could easily have sat there another hour (the director's cut is apparently that much longer). After a murderous prologue, the novel proper opens with "Can an entire city be haunted?" Derry, Maine, certainly is. But it's also, crucially, its own world, and fans will want to live in that world a good deal longer than five and a half hours.

A big reason why is (b), it's not that scary. It really isn't. My dad said the same thing about the first one. There are some jump scares, of course, and some extremely creepy moments (you'll never eat a fortune cookie again). But despite diverging from the novel at several points, the film maintains its spirit remarkably well. And that spirit is rooted in the Losers Club: Bill, Ben, Beverly, Richie, Eddie, Mike, and Stan. As kids and as adults, they make this a damned good movie, regardless of genre.

About that gay-bashing s(c)ene. One of the major takeaways from IT, the novel, and from the work of Stephen King as a whole, is that evil most often wears a human face. You see it in virtually every King work: the Overlook wouldn't have gotten to Danny except through Jack's alcoholism; people like Annie Wilkes exist in the world; so do people (many people) like Percy Wetmore in The Green Mile. Adrian Mellon's beating is exactly the kind of thing that happens in provincial towns like Derry. Pennywise is there to administer the final coup de grĂ¥ce, but we all know Pennywise is a fiction. Macho assholes who see gay guys as an existential threat? All too real.

If you enjoyed the first chapter, this is more of the same. The adults do their child counterparts justice.

There is an entire universe of which I am completely ignorant. Video games.

I stopped playing video games when the joysticks suddenly had more than one button. That was a long, long time ago.

I used to watch Jade and Darien play, before Jade got a TV for her room and vanished into it (the room, maybe the TV too), periodically emerging for sustenance. I marvel at how complicated games are now. Every screen has reams and reams of information that Jade somehow absorbs all at once. Observing her, it becomes marginally less crazy to realize that people pay money to watch strangers playing games. Looking at the games themselves, and how movie-like so many of them are, you begin to understand how this industry now makes substantially more than Hollywood.

It intrigues me, but I'll steer clear. First, because I know I would suck...I'd find ways to die on the training screens. Hell, on the LOADING screens. Second, and more importantly, I already have more than too many online time-sinks.

Another recent movie (for me): Gran Torino. This, I am told, is not one of Clint Eastwood's better efforts. It makes me more than curious to see a few more (and no, I haven't seen anything of his before this). He was amazing in this film. the story of a bitter old man redeemed. That I could see the good in his character from the get-go speaks volumes about Eastwood's skill as an actor.


CONGRATULATIONS to Bianca Andreescu. I didn't get to see the winning match -- I was at work, and we can't stream video there -- but I did keep a tab open to "US Open score live" and watched the points, games and sets rack up. Serena put forth a valiant effort at a comeback, but in the end Bianca was too much for her.
My friend Jay introduced me to women's tennis a long time ago. I much prefer it to the men's game, which is mostly ace after ace after fault. Still, I haven't watched in a long time, and it's been forever  since I had a Canadian woman to cheer for. Andreescu looks like the real deal. Hard to believe she's only 19.

Love to you all. See you soon. Wish me luck, because I'm going to need it.

No comments: