Monthly Archives: January 2012

‘Tintin’ … eh

SPOILER ALERT.  (It pisses me off when no one warns me, so I’m doing you the courtesy.)

The family went to see Tintin. My son, who is in early grade school, loved it. Why wouldn’t he? It’s about an adventurous boy reporter and his dog. It was like it was made for him.

But it wasn’t made for me. Why? Because it’s about an adventurous boy reporter and his dog. That’s what you know about the title character in the first five minutes of the film, and that’s what you know about him in the last five minutes of the film. It’s not like there isn’t character development in the film. Tintin pal Captain Haddock and villain Rackham and the story that binds them works. But Tintin is pretty … blank. He seems to be merely the driver of the story. He leaves no impression other than being in the middle of what goes on around him. It’s disappointing.

It’s really disappointing when you consider director Steven Spielberg has done this before. Tintin has a lot in common with the Indiana Jones franchise, except Indiana is a scruffy, stubborn, charming, brilliant, brave, foolish archaeologist with a string of friends and former lovers around the world. In other words, Indiana Jones is interesting in many ways, many ways that Tintin is not.

Animation may have something to do with it. With Indiana Jones, you could feel his sweat, smell his fear, feel your heart pump as he was about to lose his. With the animation of Tintin, you don’t get that sensory experience. But maybe the problem is, you really don’t know if Tintin would ever break a sweat, or if he would, why, what would push him to feel that deeply.

Or, for those of you who want the five-words-or-less review, wait for the DVD.

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Wow

An extensive interview with William Gibson from the Paris Review.

'Idoru'

And I’m not lying about extensive. Well worth it, though. Gibson explains the inspirations for “cyberspace.”

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Absurdity

Finished up four courses of Phillip K. Dick: Ubik, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldrich and The Man in the High Castle. Wrote a bit about The Man in the High Castle earlier, but Ubik is what’s on my mind right now.

There’s a lot to like about Ubik. In this future Earth, death isn’t the end. You have some time left after your body dies, and for the right price, you can be kept in storage so your friends, family and business associates can continue to consult you for years to come. It’s not immortality; your essence will eventually move on to whatever is beyond. It is also a time of mutants, people with special mental powers, both to act on the minds of other unsuspecting people and to block the mental powers of those who would prey on the unprepared. So you can see the potential for darkness, to alter the reality of anyone or prevent such reality-bending trickery … for a price.

What Dick does that’s really impresses me – in this bleak landscape of wavering reality – is to turn it on its head with two extreme absurdities: outrageous outfits of the characters and the fact that everything is coin-operated.

The fashion of this future Earth is a mixture of all of the fashion that preceded it … usually on one person’s body … all at the same time. Want to wear penny loafers, leg warmers, a poodle skirt, a Michael Jackson zipper jacket and a football helmet? You can, but that’s what your neighbor’s wearing today. How about six-inch stiletto heals, bell bottom jeans, a tube top, a bow tie and a top hat? Sure, but when you see your dental hygienist in the same outfit, it’s going to be awkward. No matter how formidable the character or how much power they have, they dress like doofuses. It’s a goofier Dick than I’m used to, and provides for great visuals.

When I say everything is coin-operated, I mean everything. Want to go to the bathroom? That’ll be a quarter. You’ll need a roll of nickels if you plan on drinking a bunch of coffee in the morning. Time to go to work? Don’t forget your dime to get out the door. Not kidding. It’s hilarious and occasionally creates tension, particularly for one of the main characters who is consistently short on money. One of the more fun aspects of reading sci-fi is seeing how writers get the future right or veer off into something altogether its own. In this case, Dick missed … but just by a bit. We don’t pay for everything coin by coin as he envisioned. But he wasn’t far off in that everything costs something. It’s just in 2011, we usually pay for everything by putting up with the over-saturation of advertising displayed everywhere and beamed out to multiple platforms, instead of payment coming directly from our own pockets.

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A new hope?

Congratulations, Mayor Tyler. I genuinely admire the job you did as my state representative. Unfortunately, I have little hope that your election will lead to anything but a renewal of the Democratic good old boys club of Muncie, which brought us such winners as dimwitted con artist Pepper Cooper  and a complete resistance to any type public of smoking ban. I wish you the best, but I expect nothing but the worst.

Mayor McShurley, thank you for your service. This liberal, son of a UAW member felt odd voting for you not once, but twice, but I think in the end, you did a pretty damn good job. Mayor Canan’s inability to stand up to the firefighters’ union at a time of great budget concerns and the national economy gave you a shit sandwich to eat the second you stepped into office. I didn’t agree with everything you did, but I guarantee this city would be in dire straights had Jim “An original idea would give me a stroke” Mansfield had been elected. Good luck in your future endeavors. Muncie owes you more than it admits.

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