Thursday, August 12, 2010

The Day the Earth Slept Still

So Stephen Hawking thinks we need to get the heck off this planet, but we don't have much time to do it -- oh, and there's really no place to go in the short term, anyway. We may as well go back to sleep. At least Steven Slater, the new public relations rep-by-default for JetBlue, knew what to do (whatever the truth of this incident, whose foundation has been thrown into question) -- You grab a microphone, thank the cordial among you, tell everybody else to go to hell in colorful terms, grab a couple of beers and slide down an airplane chute to escape the madness. I guess that's sort of what Hawking was saying, except we don't have any reliable destination at the end of the chute.

And Patricia Neal died this week. The entertainment folks were making a big deal about her major film performances, such as a role opposite Paul Newman in Hud. I know Hud was a fine movie, but I remember Ms. Neal for her appearance in 1951's The Day the Earth Stood Still. The remake couldn't beat the original.

The remake. Well, I had been looking forward to seeing the new version of the movie, The Day the Earth Stood Still, but only got around to that a few months ago. Spectacularly bad film! Keanu Reeves had no reason to show up, "Gort's" brief presence as a computerized studio creation was about as frightening as a house cat attacking a litter box, and the script (which bears almost no relationship to the original) often seemed estranged from, yet encumbered by, any action or inactivity on the screen. Worse for me was the production's disintegration into a stock film environmental statement -- and as somebody who used to fondly embrace and donate to environmental causes, which I currently find ruled by too many radicals and impressionable folks inspired by political agendas and half-baked ideas posing dangers unfathomed, that's saying something.

Yet, there were two moments when I almost wanted to cheer. The first was when the motion picture mercifully ended.

My other brush with satisfaction occurred when extraterrestrial technology began destroying everything in its path on the planet and the camera lingered for a few seconds as a huge sports stadium was eaten out of existence by nanobot-like thingies. Go team! I don't much like stadiums, though I understand their importance to the masses. We've become far, far too focused upon the game, the game, the game, whether it's "professional" football, baseball, basketball, soccer, skateboarding or any variety of diversions one takes on, serving as an alternative to keeping a close eye on politicians who deal dirt behind closed doors, themselves in full approval of the anesthesia administered via Big Sports. Stadiums and professional athletic events in conjunction with rock concerts and an abundance of other fluff frequently quench the brain thirst exhibited by people who don't even know the names of their local legislators or congressional representatives, and frankly couldn't care less. Many recognize names and decades-old statistics regarding their sports "heroes," but can't write a paragraph using proper English -- or any English at all. In addition, as I've said before, I never encountered a dog who couldn't catch a Frisbee every time, retrieve a ball consistently or put a generally round object into a hole without the assistance of a team of coyotes -- and they didn't lap up absurdly overpriced contracts to accomplish their super canine feats, either. Nor do dogs routinely find their names in the press for betraying their clean role model images, only to reveal themselves publicly as the innate thugs they are. Well, I guess I should be grateful that the movie remake demonstrated some positive annihilation. Truly, the world would televise, sell and worship flyspecks if a profit could be realized.

What a month. Patricia Neal's gone, Churchill and Eisenhower aren't available for prodding in the UFO court, deploying airplane emergency exit chutes on a whim may soon become hugely fashionable, there's evidently a new "super bug" without a cure starting to make rounds on the planet, Leslie Kean's new book is reportedly exceptional (that's a good thing), machinery isn't working well on the space station and Stephen Hawking says get off the planet soon, except Mars still needs a good cleaning and an interior decorator and there's no other place to go -- not even to the space station.