06 June 2012

Cornucopia of Things That Suck (There, I Said It)

I've been out of bed for about 90 minutes and already I've had to process several topics, each worthy of their own posts here. Gonna try to hit this by the numbers in a catch-all rundown.

I-71 Gunshots
Sometime this afternoon, two different cars traveling on I-71 in Oldham County were struck by bullets. No one was apparently injured, which is certainly a positive thing but it's also improbable. There are accidents on 71 every day because someone is driving like a complete jerk, going well in excess of the posted 70mph limit and giving other drivers insufficient reaction distance while they change lanes and get as close to the back of the car in front of them in an effort to bully them out of the way. Somehow, our shooter managed to find the one stretch of traffic where drivers were actually competent enough to not crash into one another at what had to have been a startling moment.

Governor Scott Walker Survives Recall Election in Wisconsin
I've discussed Gov. Walker in this blog before, but I've tried to only look at what he portends for the rest of us. It's been my considered opinion that whether the citizens of Wisconsin accept and endorse his shenanigans is a matter for them to decide. Yesterday, of course, social media was full of discussion on both sides. The one that struck me was a comment I can't seem to find at present praising Gov. Walker for transforming a massive deficit into a surplus.

I didn't have it in me to get into it with that person, but it's worth noting - again - that Governor Walker inherited one of the healthiest state economies in the country, then deliberately gutted it for the express purpose of citing economic misery as justification for stripping away union rights and scaling back numerous legal protections for the people of Wisconsin. I can only assume one of two things. One, the person in question doesn't understand (or chooses to willfully ignore) the actual context of what Walker really did. Two, the person in question has a perception of politics that amounts to keeping score based on deficit figures that is so specific that they are incapable of understand what any of those numbers actually mean. I think this is the case for many voters. They can only process politics as a series of "wins" and "losses," and they're perfectly willing to ignore "losses" from their "team" as long as they have a recent "win" to gloat about.

Ray Bradbury
The prolific author died today. I've shared in the past the impact that Fahrenheit 451 made on me. Rather than repeat that, I thought I'd share my favorite Bradbury anecdote, which he told himself in an interview on the Late Late Show with Tom Snyder sometime in the late 90s.

Bradbury had been invited to give a lecture at some prestigious institute (I want to say the Smithsonian, but perhaps it was another one). He initially demurred, noting that he was merely a guy who wrote works of fiction and not actually trained in matters of science. They insisted it would be fine, and besides the excitement of having him speak would be a great pleasure for all in attendance. He accepted, went in and gave this lecture.

Halfway through, they took a recess and he chatted with the event organizers. When he asked how they thought it was going, they were clearly distraught. "Well, there are a lot of problems," they told him. When he asked for an example, they pointed to his notes on the chalkboard and said, "Well, for one thing, you've got the Big Bang happening here, when it really happened there."

Bradbury replied, "Prove it."

I love that story.

Wreck-It Ralph
This trailer was released today:
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Video gamers are all kinds of excited about this already and I'm not one to begrudge anyone their excitement. After all, I know not everyone shares my fondness for Welcome Back, Kotter. Still, I can't help but roll my eyes at this. There doesn't appear to be a shred of originality to this, and in fact it's all the more disappointing because it seems Disney is now presenting glorified fanfic ripping off their own previous material.

Here's how the pitch went:

"Dude! Remember Toy Story, where we used all these real toys to make a story? What if we did that with video game characters?"

"Brilliant!"

"Wait! What if we combined that with that trippy door scene in Monsters, Inc.?"

"ZOMG! BEST IDEA EVAR."

That trailer looks like the kind of thing a fan would splice together and put on YouTube for fun. It could even be a Robot Chicken sketch. But it should not be something that an actual studio - Disney, no less - would actually green light.

I know what you're saying. Give the movie a break, it's "just" a kid's movie. My problem is, I'm not a video gamer so I can't "appreciate" how cool this is. What about when I was excited about Who Framed Roger Rabbit in 1988 for meshing various cartoon characters? Aren't I a hypocrite?

In entertainment media across the board, I have become sick of stories whose sole premise is "Wouldn't it be cool if...?"

Somehow, it's fitting that these four things all happened today. I don't know which I find most discouraging, really. Gunfire on the interstate in my own home county, the recall of a governor who very publicly prosecuted the agenda of wealthy donors at the expense of his own electorate, the death of one of our era's finest storytellers or proof that even Disney doesn't have storytelling standards anymore.

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