Thursday, December 31, 2009

New Years - New Title

Every year, I make a resolution and for the past few years I have actually been good at following them up. My resolution for 2009 was to read more. I now have participated in one book club and am in the process of starting one myself. The year before that I resolved to run more, did that. The year before that cook, ditto. So for new years 2010, I am resolving to write more. I think that there is a good writer in here somewhere, and I will use this blog as the vehicle. My ideal thing would be to write 5-6 days out of the week for 30 minutes at a time. An exercise that I did at UW writing and thoroughly enjoyed it

I am unsatisfied with the title of the blog currently. AMQA UK, Jr. is too long and convoluted. I once saw Norman Mailer on 60 Minutes or some such program and he said that he started each day by doing the NYTimes crossword, he said it was an exercise and called it "combing his brain". I liked that "combing my brain", I thought it not only brings to mind an amazing image of a Goody(R) passing through the gray matter, but an apt description of a mental exercise.

So maybe as a new name I can call the blog:
"Combing my Brain"; or
"Brain Combing"; or
"Literary calisthenics"; or
"calisthenics with commas"
"Shawn's Syllables" or

Any suggestion from my vast and loyal readership on this topic would be great.
A Safe, Happy and prosperious New Year to all.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Avatar and District 9 -

Seen a lot of movies in the last couple of days with the wife home from work, and the networks running nothing but “year end” and holidays specials and prempting new broadcasts of any of our shows.

This afternoon I saw Avatar, and last night I saw District 9. Both are science fiction films, and both have similar themes of oppression of the other, whether through segregation in ghettos (District 9) or genocidal land grabs (Avatar).
In Avatar humans go to another planet that is rich in valuable mineral Unobtainium (stupid name Cameron, Lucas help you with that one?). But finds that there is an aboriginal race (the Nav’i) on the planet that is similar to all aboriginals throughout human history. All of the actors playing the Nav’I are African Americans. They ride 6 legged horses and use bows and arrows like American Indians, and are so in tune with nature and their environment that they can actually link into it like a network.

In District 9, the aliens (the Prawns) come to Johannesberg, South Africa (of all places). Where they are placed into temporary camps that become and massive permanent slums.

In both movies humans cannot get along with the aliens, we either isolate and oppress at home, or try to systematically eliminate them abroad. Hmm…

Avatar was an amazing movie to see, and if you are going to see it, see in the theaters and with the 3-D glasses it is utterly amazing and thrilling visually. Avatar is more spectacle than movie, and should probably be seen with as many bells and whistles as possible, because the story itself is lacking, all the major points of the plot are telegraphed before hand. Yet I found myself so wrapped up in the movie, despite these flaws, archetypal characters.

In District 9, there was real tension, the finale and the conclusion are legitimately up in the doubt throughout. D9 employs the documentary style which is the cliché of the 00’s film and television, yet it does work. The fact that the setting is South Africa makes the Prawn ghetto allegory that much more powerful, and the documentary style makes it that much more hard hitting and thought provoking.

Both movies have similar protagonists both undergo a transformation, one willingly the other unwillingly, but yet each end up at opposite ends of the fortune spectrum too. Both are fighting against giant evil corporations with military power, whom they each once worked for. The military leaders in both films are the primary villains.

Ultimately District 9 is the better movie, but Avatar is something that absolutely needs to be seen on the big screen. I am beginning to wonder if this 3D thing maybe the thing to keep the theatres afloat for the next few decades because there is no real way to replicate the 3D experience at home, at least for now.

Lots of identity in both of these films, this person has a pretty good take on it: