Get Off My Parsec – OR – Grumpy Old Fans

I couldn’t choose a title, so I’m going with both.

New Coke Can

We even survived New Coke.

I’ve talked about the unearned cynicism of my generation and our fading sense of wonder. I’m consumed with Jimmy Stewart-style rants about how we should be kinder to each other and more willing to embrace fun instead of a skeptical, sardonic take on everything.

I mean this sincerely when I say that this is addressed to everyone in my generation. We live in an age of technological wonders, yet remember an era of four channels and no remote control.

But instead of going down so broad a path as to attack the generational sense of entitlement, I’m going to focus on movies. Geek stuff is what I love, breathe and podcast about, so that’s a bit more in my wheelhouse.

Lighten Up

Big Boss Man

We also believed in the power of Pro Wrestling.

Growing up, we saw great films like Jaws and The Godfather. Star Wars defined many childhoods, especially for self-professed geeks. Treasures like Raiders of the Lost Ark resonate today. There are others I’m overlooking for the sake of brevity.

Those films, lauded beyond measure, are the yard stick by which we measure current films.

They also eclipse that most of what we watched wasn’t really that good.

We Say They Don’t Make ‘Em Like They Used to Make Them.

I don’t know if we’re aging faster because we were exposed to mature themes in things like Star Trek II before we were really ready to process them.

Maybe the advent of home computer, cell phone and internet have so blasted our senses of wonder that we just advanced to a certain “older” mental point too quickly.

Maybe the curtain has been pulled back so many times that we just don’t believe in magic anymore. There isn’t a trick from film that hasn’t been diagrammed, to such a minute detail, that it’s impossible to see past the artifice anymore.

But There Were Gems!

I know, I know. People generally do dislike stinkers like Freejack and Hudson Hawk, but they embrace stinkers like The Last Starfighter still. That’s right, I said it.

And let’s not forget the patriotic crappiness of Iron Eagle or the disdainful tripe that was Top Gun. There were plenty of other forgettable “classics” like Night Crossing (saw it in the theatre, chumps) and the rise of the gut-churning Friday the 13th and Nightmare on Elm Street slasher series.

I’m not even dwelling on the horrific s***-fest that is the enduringly awful Dirty Dancing. And go back to re-watch Ghost, because it’s not quite so good as you remember when you were trying to impress the Girls with your Feelings.

Am I Tearing Down the Past?

Not at all. Much like our folks thought Lawrence Welk was the best way to end a night, we have to accept that the classics were fewer and farther between than they might seem. We can still love the less awesome aspects of those days, but let’s be honest with ourselves.

For every Wrath of Khan, there was a Search for Spock, Transformers: The Movie and The Black Cauldron. You know what those four films have in common? I love them for what they are though only one is held in truly high esteem by anyone outside those of us who experienced them in our youth.

So instead of walking around talking about how much better it was in our good old days, let’s look for things to love in these days; and let’s remember that the good of our old days was just as hard to find.

Can a Love Interest Be a Sidekick?

On the last episode of Words with Nerds (available here on iTunes and Podbean) we debated sidekicks and henchmen. One argument has continued in the Twitterverse between Craig and a legendary antagonist (Jar Jar Hater) who insists that love interests can, indeed, be sidekicks.

The first example, I have to say, does not support the cause (and was addressed by Craig on the podcast).

Lois Lane

Kate Bosworth

I’ve got nothing personal against Margot Kidder, but I’ve also got nothing *for* Margot Kidder. So here’s Kate Bosworth.

Lois Lane is many things. A damsel in distress, a mysteriously well-respected reporter and, in only one of the Superman films, attractive.

But she is not a sidekick. The key criteria she fails to meet is joining the hero in battle.

Lois is often the cause of a contest between Superman and his current enemy, or bait to get him to walk into Luthor’s latest lead–lined Kryptonite factory (seriously, did every bit of Kryptonite fall within 50 miles of Metropolis?).

But there is one interesting example.

I’m undecided, though, if she’s the exception that proves the rule.

Marion Ravenwood

If I’m honest, Marion Ravenwood was the first girl to steal my chidhood heart from Princess Leia.

Marion Ravenwood is everything that Lois Lane is not.

Stunning smile, twinkling eyes and the ability to drink opponents into comas. Marion Ravenwood may be Indiana Jones’ love interest, but she’s easily considered a sidekick.

She can shoot a gun, keep a secret and throw a punch. She follows the hero into battle and risks life and limb for what’s right. She uses her sexuality as a tool and a weapon, and almost a means of escape.

Lois, meanwhile, would sit on her ass and wait for Clark to save her.

So it’s something on which to chew. Has an effective counter–argument been provided, thus re–opening the debate?

Or is Marion the rare case that would register as a “false positive”?

Sound off below!

The. Man.

Happy Birthday, John Williams!

The. Man.

I don’t care what his detractors say, I don’t care that I can hear stunningly similar thematic treatments between Superman, Raiders of the Lost Ark and Return of the Jedi.

When your body of work is nearly every noteworthy film score for several decades’ worth of film, it’s OK to have repetitive moments.

Especially when your music is what elevates a whole lot of those movies from “cool” or “terrific” into memorable.

He changed the way music was done for film, forever and for good.

So happy birthday to John Williams. You’ve had as much influence over my artistic tastes as anyone else.

And thank goodness, otherwise I might have become a Philip Glass or Elliot Goldenthal fan, which would have been sad.

The Importance of Being Music

Sheet Music

I can't read this for the life of me. Hat's off to anyone who can.

With all of my recent Star Wars posts, I started thinking about how important the scores of those films are.

Then I started thinking about how important the music is for other films. So I came up with a Top Ten List of Movie Scores. This is a personal list of favorites of course, and in no way is meant to imply that I’m competent in music. I just know what I like.

I also want to see what others think. At least it’s not all John Williams, disproving at least one person’s prediction about the list (his name rhymes with “Pony”).

I’m going to cheat it out a little bit with one of the slots, as you would expect, while giving clear preference to one of The Six. My uncle Bruce would run me down with how that’s not a fair way to rank things, but it doesn’t have to be fair. It’s my list and I’ll make up any rules I darn well want.


Won’t Someone Think of the Children?

This is a thought that’s been cooking in my head for a while, which was triggered again when I wrote the other blog about my girls watching The Clone Wars.

More than once, I’ve encountered people chastising the violence in the show, stating that it’s shocking to them that it’s rated TV-PG when so much wanton violence occurs. After all, lightsabers slash droids on a regular basis! Grievous kills people! Anakin kills people!

Think of the Children!

Helen Lovejoy

Our Hero, Helen Lovejoy

Do I sift out some of the more intense Clone Wars episodes for my kids, since I’m not sure that the themes (not the violence) are ones for which they’re ready? Sure.

But the funny thing is that this isn’t a new complaint about the Star Wars franchise. In 1999 Katie Couric interviewed George Lucas as a ramp-up to the release of The Phantom Menage, which happened to be in the wake of the tragedy in Columbine. Couric wondered aloud what role violence plays in shaping kids’ actions. Watch the gut-churning questions from Couric here, as well as Lucas’ intelligent responses to her idiocy. Watch the whole thing for the chilling prophecy of the future about attitudes in the media, fulfilled by later Lords of Late Night.

What has bugged me about the whole exchange since 1999, and the many exchanges that have occurred like it, is that the hand-wringing overprotectiveness does nothing than make the hand-wringer feel better about themselves.