All posts by Boredhousehusband

An Ultimatum on Ultimatums

I’m gonna make an ultimatum about ultimatums:

For the last two years or so now, we’ve all been getting posts from people saying “I love Trump, and if you disagree with me, you may as well just block me now,” or “I love Hillary, and block me now if you don’t agree,” or Bernie or whomever. I don’t like any of those people, but you know what I like less?

Being told that if I don’t measure up to someone’s standards of intellectual purity, I’m not worth knowing. I really hate that.

Firstly: It’s insulting. Not to brag, but I’m actually a really good guy. I’ve done a lot of really good things that have helped a lot of people in my life. I don’t expect or want any praise for that. It is clearly something that you don’t care about, however, if you want to ditch me because I don’t love/hate Trump/Hillary/Bernie/Whomever in the way you do. I’m also charming, funny, smart, and creative. I’ve written six full-length books, which I’m told are quite good. Presumably that means nothing to you, though, because we disagree on some random issue, like, say, abortion or gay marriage or the Hawley-Smoot Tariff act. In other words, in your eyes, *none* of my good or interesting qualities matter, *ONLY* the way I vote. If I don’t goosestep along with your liberal or conservative goon squad, then I’m not worth knowing.

Secondly: If I like someone, like *them,* flaws and all. I can name 30 friends who disagree with me bitterly about different things, but I sill like them. And they still like me. If I like someone, I like them as a person, not because of a rigid set of arcane political views. This is called “Friendship,” and “Tolerance,” which are things that folks who sling ultimatums around clearly aren’t really into. Because clearly people don’t matter to you, just dogma.

Thirdly: I suspect you’re hypocrites. Guys: The hottest Victoria’s Secret model you can imagine asks you out, you go to dinner, you hit it off, she clearly wants to jump your bones and as you’re making out in the cab on the way to her place, she mentions that she voted differently than you did. Are you *REALLY* gonna say “Stop the car, because despite this being *literally* my fantasy since I was 12, you think differently than me, and I don’t even care about your reasons.” Are you *REALLY* gonna say that? If not, then clearly you’re a hypocrite. Ladies, gender-swap that (I dunno what the male equivalent of a Victoria’s Secret model is, but I’m sure there must be something). My point being that *IF* your’e the kind of person who *wouldn’t* get out of the cab, then you lack the strength of your convictions, which means you really don’t have any convictions, and you’re just blowing hot air to make yourself feel better.

Which is fine: Spew all the venom you want, I really don’t care, but telling me – or anyone – “If you don’t agree, then just block me right now” is a really bad thing to do, and I don’t think you realize that. Or you don’t care.

I was raised to think, and not just react. To value people more than money. To never trust *any* politician. I was trained not to give way to anger, at least not in public. The only blanket standard I expect from people is that they *don’t* tell me I’m worthless because THEY, THEMSELVES, are intractable. In short, you people who say “Block me if you disagree?” Guess what: I’m *BETTER* than you. You are self-righteous and petty and mean and you do not value others at all. I don’t praise myself much. I really don’t even like myself much, but there it is.

I expect a lot of you are gonna block me for this 

If so, I wish you well. Have a good life, and maybe try to grow up a little. Lose the anger.

So what order do episodes of The Prisoner go in, again?

I recently forced my family to watch “The Prisoner” series. As even casual fans know, there’s not really an official episode order. The broadcast order, the production order, and the order they were written in are all different. Worse still, four separate writers were working on four separate scripts that *they* were told were going to be the second episode. It’s confusing, and people have been nattering about it for fifty years.

I had my own opinion going in, based on the last time I mainlined the series about a decade ago. Upon completing it, though, I realized that while I was wasn’t any more wrong than anyone else, and probably less wrong than most, there was a more pleasing order they could go in.

Here, then, is my opinion of the best episode order, and my explanations as to why.

1) “Arrival.” – This is the premier episode, in which our protagonist is kidnapped and shows up in The Village. It’s sort of got to come first, right? Duh.

2) “Dance of the Dead” – This is one of the weakest episodes, generally relegated later to the run of the short series as a result. It’s also one of the four “Episode Number Twos” that were being written concurrently. Despite its dramatic problems, this is definitely the number two-iest of all the possible number twos.¬†Our hero is still¬†very angry, and he’s introduced to several locations for the first time, all of which he’ll take for granted in subsequent episodes. Here they get special notice, however. Likewise, the rambling and somewhat pointless plot seems to be more about impressing Six with how inscrutable the place was than any other purpose. “We’ll weird the truth out of you yet, six!”

3) “Chimes of Big Ben” – This is one of the four “Second episodes,” and the one that most people consider to be the second episode. They’re wrong, of course, but that’s the consensus. This is one of the best episodes of the series, and Leo McKern is the absolute best Number Two. So good, in fact, that they brought him back twice more. Interestingly, this is also the closest the Village ever came to breaking Six. He actually¬†starts to spill his guts. It’s also the episode in which they identify his one consistent weakness, which they’ll use against him for the rest of the run.

4)¬†“Free for All” – This is the one where Six discovers he can run for the office of Number Two. I’ll be honest, this one could also be in the 5 or 6 positions. It has to be fairly early on in his stay, as he sort of half-believes he can genuinely get power.¬† It wouldn’t be that easy to dupe him later on.

5 ) “Checkmate” – There’s no solid explanation for this one going here, but logically it must take place pretty early in Six’s stay. He realizes that prisoners and guards can be told apart by their attitudes. He attempts to organize a mass escape using this to figure out who he can trust, but his own imperious attitude runs it aground. I place it early because it’s simply not the kind of observation it would have taken Six long to make, and it’s not the kind of mistake Six would make later on.

6) “A Change of Mind” – To be honest, this could just as easily go in the #4 position. Flip a coin. It’s a sort of meh story, so I just placed the better one first. Definitely it has to take place in the first half of the series, though.

7) “The Schizoid Man”¬† – one of my favorite episodes, despite it really not making much sense. Evil Twin stuff. In the end, Six manages to assume the identity of one of his clones, and as he’s being driven to the heliport, Number Two mentions “The General,” rather conspicuously. Six has no idea what Two is talking about, so he plays along and says he’ll “Report in to the General,”¬† when he gets back home. Two finds this a really odd for him to have said, since one doesn’t “Report in” to the General. “Well, you know what I mean,” Six says.¬†Two realizes it’s actually Six, not one of his duplicates.¬† Given that, the next episode must logically be…

8) “The General” –¬† It turns out that “The General” is a supercomputer. There are seventeen “Number Twos” in the course of the series, but not all are created equal. “Arrival” starts with one in charge, and ends with another. “It’s Your Funeral” has¬†four. Likewise, as I said, Leo McKern turns up three times. Then there’s this guy: Colin Gordon. He’s got two episodes. This is the first. He’s very self-confident.

Interestingly, the plot of this episode doesn’t really have anything to do with Six directly. They’re not trying to break him. The masters of The Village are simply trying out some new technology (IE, the General), and Six decides to ruin it.

9) “A, B, C” – Colin Gordon turns up as Number Two again in this one. How do I know this one is second? Because Two was confident and self-assured in the previous one, and in this one he’s a disheveled wreck with a peptic ulcer. The episode makes it very clear that he’s in a lot of trouble from The General debacle, and if he doesn’t break Six this time, he’s done. He doesn’t break six.

10) “Many Happy Returns” – Six wakes up to find The Village deserted. He builds a raft and sails back to England, where he contacts his old bosses. They don’t trust him because he quit and then disappeared without a word “For month,” but eventually stuff happens and he’s back in the Village again. “Gee, Gilligan, you think we’ll get off the island this week?”

Why did I place it here? Internal references make it clear he’s been gone for a long time. The overall feel of the episode puts it towards the middle of the run, and the plots to break him are getting more elaborate but less effective. Which is all doubletalk for “It just feels like it fits” to me.

11) “It’s Your Funeral” – Six has realized he’s stuck in The Village for the long haul, and he begins to take an interest in the other people who live there. The plot does not revolve around them breaking him. He discovers a plot to assassinate Number Two (Well, *A* Number Two. There’s four in this episode), and stops it in order to prevent reprisals against the other Prisoners.

12) “Living In Harmony” – a format-breaking episode that seems to take place in the Old West. Six is a sheriff who turned in his badge for unstated reasons, and left town. He gets knocked out and wakes up in a cowboy town called “Harmony,” where he immediately runs afoul of The Judge who runs the place. In the end it turns out to be Virtual Reality, and The Judge is Number Two.

Why did I place it here? As I said, the efforts to break Six are getting more elaborate and less effective. This is arguably the most elaborate.

13) “The Girl Who Was Death” – A terrible episode, and a terrible idea: Number Two hits on the idea that Six might let down his guard around children. It doesn’t work, predictably, as he spins a ludicrous Avengers-styled goofball story with Number Two as a supervillain. Why do I place this here? Because clearly the Village is out of ideas.

14) “Hammer into Anvil” – This week’s Number Two is a sadist who cajoles one of the other prisoners into suicide. Six swears revenge, and over the course of the episode he drives Two insane. This is one of the episodes in which no one is even remotely trying to break Six. I’ve placed it here because Six has grown stronger with each of their attempts. He’s now at the point where they know they can’t break him, but he can easily break¬†them.

15) “Once Upon A Time” – Flag on the play. None of the attempts to break Six have gotten anywhere, so Number 1 stops trying. He recalls Leo McKern to The Village and forces them to undergo Degree Absolute, a psychological test of will that will break one and kill the other. It goes about how you’d expect. Nobody questions that this is the penultimate episode of the series, since it leads directly into

16) “Fallout” – the finale.

“Wait, wait,” you say, “There’s seventeen episodes, not sixteen.” That’s true. I’ve omitted “Do Not Forsake Me Oh My Darling.” It was shot during a scheduling conflict when the star was filming a movie and couldn’t get away. His appearances are confined to some sloppy voiceovers, a thirty second cameo at the end, and a whole lot of stock footage. The rest of the story involves his brain being transferred into the body of another, and being sent out into the world to capture a missing scientist. Along the way he visits his fiance.

You see why I left it out? Everyone hates it, it’s just stupid and poorly acted and poorly written. Everyone onscreen seems bored. The entire thing plays out like someone’s fanfic. I’m not the only person to just drop it from the canon.

However: If you’ve gotta stick it in somewhere, I’d put it in between “It’s Your Funeral” And “Living in Harmony,” since it fits the whole theme of doing more elaborate stuff and getting less payoff.

Some of my order is pretty solid: The first two, the last two, the Schizoid/General/ABC troika, but some of it is pretty subjective, two. Episodes from the first half of the series have a different feel than the ones from the second half, so it’s pretty easy to group them accordingly, but *within* that grouping, my own order is based on what seems to me to flow best.

So there you go.

What do you think?

MY DIARY: Day 18,542: “Innocence.”

I’ve been thinking about my dad a little bit lately.

He suffered a traumatic brain injury on Christmas Eve, 2011, and died the day before New Years Eve, so it’s not surprising, I guess.

I never got to grieve for him. My mom is – I’ll be charitable – mentally ill. I have no siblings, no close relatives nearby, so keeping her functional and arranging the funeral and delivering the eulogy and all that stuff fell upon me. I did a good job, I say with no small amount of pride. I don’t take compliments well, and I compliment myself even less, but being thrown in cold into a trauma like that, I think I genuinely did good.

Life got worse after he was gone and, as I said, I never got time to grieve. I almost would, but people were counting on me. I couldn’t afford to let myself to fall apart. There were taxes to settle, corporations to dis-incorporate, estates to settle, things to re-title to my mom, finances to shift. None of this unique, everyone has to do it at some point, I suppose, but in my case if tell on me. I did adequately. I’m great in a crisis, merely ok in an ongoing state of duress. Barely-functional under normal circumstances.

As a result of all this, I feel oddly numb when I think about him. I packed it down so tight, suppressed it so thoroughly, even banishing him from my daydreams. (I daydream a lot). I was very afraid that if I wrote down the things I was feeling – like how it’s been years and I still can’t bring myself to sit in his chair – it would all come flooding out, and I’d be a basket case, and life would get worse for everyone, particularly my mentally-ill mother. And me. I definitely feared it would roll back on me.

A week or so ago my dad turned up in my dreams. Because it was a dream I didn’t remember that he was dead. I just said, “Oh, hi dad,” and he nodded and sat down while I went on about whatever nonsense was going on in the story. Eventually I woke up to go to the bathroom (Because I’m 50), and when I laid back down again, I realized he’d been there. I was suddenly sorry I missed him. Not sad, oddly, but just sorry. I tried to will him back as I drifted off again, but, no luck, he was gone.

Now, I¬†know it wasn’t him. My belief in the supernatural is…measured… at best. I believe in God and an afterlife, but not ghosts or sleepytime messages from beyond the grave. That stuff doesn’t happen. I know full well that whatever goes on in my unconscious mind is a product of my unconscious mind, something I’m telling myself, sometimes with a reason, but mostly just random. I¬†know all that. More importantly, I¬†believe¬†it.

Still, the next morning I was sorry that I had largely ignored him in the dream. Even if it was my own subconscious speaking to me in his voice, it would have been nice to hear his voice again. It’s been so damn long.

Now, anyone who knew my dad could tell you he was a great guy. I called him “A living saint,” and he always bristled at that out of humility, but it’s really hard to stress how great a guy he was, and what a long shadow he’s cast as a result. He was a living Horatio Alger story, only without the creepy understated homoerotic elements.

His family was poor in the Great Depression. His mom ran off when he was three. He was homeless, but managed to survive and be a normal kid. Played with the kids with houses, went to school, slept in a coal cellar. Eventually the state picked him up and put him in an orphanage, which he hated.  My grandfather eventually re-married so he could get custody of his kids back, then the entire family moved to Florida, where the Child Welfare laws were unreasonably lax even then.

They were still dirt poor, but they had a house. My dad took odd jobs, mostly as a delivery boy on his bike, and the family frequently lived off of stuff that washed up on the beach. Eventually he graduated high school, joined the USAF, served out the Korean War, GI Billed his way through college, became an Aerospace engineer, and ended up working for NASA in the Apollo/Skylab glory days.

Then he lost everything because Congress effectively shut down NASA in 1973/4.

He started over again. This time he went into business, and my mom went nuts, and we moved, and working – no joke – sixteen hours a day he managed to build a successful career for himself capable of supporting all of us in nearly-patrician fashion. He could easily have been a millionaire, but his opinion was, “What do you need all that money for? As long as you’re comfortable, isn’t that enough?” He was a deacon at the church, honest to a fault, a great guy. He built his life from scratch *Twice.* The second time in middle age.

He died at Eighty. He looked 60 or 65. He took care of my mom, and he took care of me (I’m mentally ill too, just in a more entertaining fashion than my mom) and while that wasn’t the life he wanted – come on, everyone wants a *normal* family – he never once complained. It was just his lot in life, and he accepted it and worked to make it better.

the impressive details of his life aren’t really why I’m thinking of him, though. I’m thinking of the “Living Saint” quality that he had, and it struck me today that really, he made it through life uncorrupted. He didn’t lie, cheat, steal, or tolerate those who did. He didn’t hate anyone, and he held true to his values even when they were unpopular. He treated people of all races equally long before that was the norm. He made it through life assuming the best of everyone, and because he so clearly assumed that, most people tried to live up to it. He made life better for the people around him, just by merely being him.

I mean, yeah, he had some negative qualities too, everyone does, but in his case they were trivial.

I’m told the definition of “Saint” comes from the latin word meaning “Set Apart.” If so, that’s definitely my dad. Somehow he made it from one side of life to the other still pure of heart like a child, still full of faith for all the good stuff in life, and still believing in the future. So many people don’t. So many people, like me, just kind of give up. My dad, though? He was a good man from start to finish.

I miss him. I feel numb about him, but when I think about his fundamental goodness, I can feel…something? I’m not sure what, but something more vital than the little glimmerings of all the memories I’ve compressed into a little ball in my soul. I can’t take him out of that ball and look at him, or think about him. It’s been too long. I couldn’t grieve now even if I had the option to. I’ve grown coarse and gnarled and complicated and sad and self-loathing in ways he never did. That opportunity is shot, and will not return.

But when I think about how good he was, it always makes me smile.

That’s not much, I know. It’s enough, though. For now, anyway.

SUNDAY SERMON: My unusual take on the book of Revelation

The Revelation, the conclusion of the Bible is attributed to the apostle John was writing in the 90s. Given its trippy imagery, and imminent eschatology, it’s always been a source of unhealthy obsession for my fellow Christians. Not least of which because John *clearly* thought this stuff was happening any day, and yet here we are more than 2000 years later and, well, it hasn’t.

There are many theories to explain this, and apologetic interpretations to explain this. Most of them range from ignorance to outright lunacy, with a layover in con-job somewhere in the middle. This is my take on it, which is far from unique, but is very unusual. It mostly comes from reading Dr. Hugh Schoenfeld in his 1988 book, “The Original New Testament.”

Now, the Apostle John would have lived through the First Jewish War of 66-70 AD, which lasted almost exactly 3 1/2 years. He was talking about prophecy and visions, but he had to do it in a manner that was not immediately obvious to his oppressors, so he used highly elliptical imagery, mostly culled from Daniel. However, it’s important to remember that he was writing for his immediate audience: late 1st Century Christians, and *NOT* 21st Century Christians. Thus he uses allusions and things that THEY would easily understand, but which are befuddling to us because we live in a different time, place, culture, and political reality than they did.

Imagine you’re writing a letter to a friend, and it’s full of coded Simpsons references. Imagine someone in 4200 AD trying to understand it. They can’t without understanding our period. Likewise we cant’ without understanding the period Revelation was written in.

When you take the time to study it from a historical perspective you find that pretty much everything up until “There was silence in heaven for about a half an hour” is a direct (Yet coded) reference to specific instances from the 66-70 war. Wormwood refers to the Roman practice of poisoning wells. The water becoming as blood refers to the Battle of Joppa in which there were so many dead bodies that the water actually did turn red. The locusts are the Roman army with their horsehair helmets. The scorpions are (IIRC, I don’t have my notes right now) the Assyrian cavalry. The number of the beast is *ALSO* the number of the Roman Tax Stamp used during the rein of the Emperor Dominitian, and so on.

All this stuff had already happened. It wasn’t stuff that was yet to happen, it was in the past. John was getting across the idea that the end times were already upon them, and that they’ve lived through a lot of it.

At the “Silence in heaven for about a half an hour” part, this shifts from relating the war to actually talking about The Future. In context, the “Silence” is a kind of time out between the first half of this tribulation (Which has already past) and the second half, which is yet to come. God has extended this time out because He is merciful and wishes as many as possible to be saved before the end, but make no mistake: The end *IS* coming, eventually. Since the war lasted 3.5 years, John assumes the 2nd half will last 3.5 years, hence 7 years of (Active) tribulation.

So there you go: Half of Revelation has already come and gone.

ANNOUNCEMENT: I finished Big Pharma!

I just finished writing the novel, “Big Pharma,” which I’ve been working on (And mostly fighting my anxieties about) for a bit over a year.

About a year and a half ago, maybe a little under, my friend¬†James Stephen Graham¬†told me he was dying. He’d written several space adventure novels in an ongoing series, and there was one that he was about 4/5ths done with, which he’d obviously be unable to finish. He asked me if I’d do it for him. I said, sure, of course, I’d be glad to.

Since then I have taken a *SHAMEFULLY* long time finishing the manuscript. (And, as I said, mostly fighting my own anxieties about doing justice to my late friend’s work). I read and re-read his other books, took extensive notes, wrote, got frustrated that I wasn’t really capturing his voice, started over again, got frustrated. It wasn’t hard work, all the details and outlines I could need were given to me, but I was basically fighting myself. I do that a lot.

Anyway, the manuscript is done. Now I need a British friend of mine to translate my portions from American to British (You know, spelling, weirdo quotation marks, etc) so it’s not a jarring transition for the reader. Then a quick formatting edit, and then it’s online.

This also ends my self-imposed exile from writing.

To all Jim’s fans, and his wife¬†Vivien, I truely, deeply apologize for the delays.

You can find Jim’s other books here¬†https://www.amazon.com/‚Ķ/B0‚Ķ/ref=bseries_auth_1_B006OM9GX0_1

MOVIE REVIEW: “Pokemon: I Choose You” (2017)

This is a gorgeous movie. I really wish I’d been able to see it on the big screen.

Much to my surprise, that actually¬†was an option. They hadn’t released a Pokemon movie theatrically in the US sine 2001, which was, like¬†sixteen movies ago. Turns out that since this is the twentieth anniversary film in the franchise (And the twentieth film total – yikes!), it went into limited release, whereas the others have always been dumped on Cartoon Network or DVD or wherever. Believe it or not, it actually played in my dinky-assed market (Tampa) but only for two days, and in a really bad neighborhood (University Square Mall) which I just kinda didn’t want to chance after dark. I’m uneasy in that place during the day. There’s only like 6 or 7 stores still open, and it’s mostly gangs and pushers and hookers wandering around. Which is a shame because they blew a lot of money building that new food court.

But I digress…

Pokemon movies are always much better looking than you’d expect. Yeah, they’re generally disappointing, and the stories are frequently meh and the scripts don’t really feel fully-cooked, presumably because they’re cranking out one of these a year. Even so, they’re way, way better animated than the shows, and the shorts before the film are adorable, so even if it’s a terrible flick you can just zone out and enjoy it for how pretty it is. Except for “Genesect and the Legend Awakened.” That one sucked.

But I’m not digressing this time: This movie is absolutely far-and-away the most gorgeous Pokemon film ever. It’s nearly Studio Ghibli quality in some parts. They really pulled out all the stops for this one as part of the “Wow, can you believe it’s been two decades and we’re still going strong?” celebration.

Of course even coming up with a concept for a movie like this is difficult. What can you give the fans that they haven’t already seen a dozen times before? You can’t just dump another “Jirachi The Wishmaker,” on them. They need something new and different. At the same time, it needs to be a celebration of the past of the franchise. What do you do? What¬†do¬†you do?

The solution was pretty brilliant: Do an alternate-world version of the start of Ash’s adventures. I admit I thought this was pretty dodgy when I first heard of it, but, yeah, it really was clever.

The first 10 minutes are basically a remake of the first episode of the entire series in compressed form. Ash gets Pikachu, who doesn’t like him, they head off on their Pokemon Journey. They get in trouble, Ash risks his life and gets injured saving Pikachu, and they’re best friends from then on. At the end of the episode they see Ho-Oh, one of the legendary Pokemon. There’s no real significance to this, it’s just an omen of a bright future for him. In the next episode he meets his companion Misty, and an episode after that he meets Brock, and that’s your basic lineup for the next six years.

In¬†this¬†version of things, Ho-Oh happens to drop a feather while flying overhead. Ash catches it, and as a result he goes off on a different course. He turns left instead of right, basically. As a result he never meets Misty or Brock, and he’s on his own a lot longer. This results in him being less successful as a trainer, but more self-reliant than we’re used to seeing him. We see all this mostly in montage, but eventually he meets up with two never-before-heard-of companions: A girl named Verity and Sorrel, a wiser, more intellectually curious trainer.

They quickly recognize the importance of the feather, and the three of them spend the rest of the movie on a side-quest, finding their way to Ho-Oh, rescuing Charmander from an abusive trainer, and having repeated run-ins with the trainer, who’s the closest thing this movie has to a big bad.

Eventually they meet Ho-Oh in the climax, the bad guy is defeated and is somewhat repentant, Ash and his new pals go their separate ways, “And the journey continues.”

What makes this brilliant? Well, we do get to see Classic Ash again (And Pikachu is even somewhat redesigned to look midway between his current appearance and the older “90s Chu” version. We get to revisit a bunch of stuff from the first year of the show and yet it all feels new because it’s fundamentally not retreading the same old ground.

It’s also interesting because the stakes aren’t so high. We’ve already seen Ash save the world 6 or 7 times in 20 films, and save cities at least as many. (Honestly, Ash seems chosen of the Pokegods to be their fixer) This time out nothing much is at risk, other than an evil ghost type trying to corrupt the feather which…will be bad for some reason I never quite understood. It’s a personal story. It looks in instead of out, and that’s really what they needed to do here.

The relationship between Pikachu and Ash is pretty heartwarming. They have always been close, of course, but here it’s more like father and child or big brother and little brother. We see a lot of scenes of them just playing, and there’s no other way to say it, it’s just cute as hell. We also find out the reason for the twenty-year mystery as to why Pikachu refuses to go into his pokeball. A lot of people have complained about that scene, and the answer honestly doesn’t entirely make sense, but if it doesn’t make you tear up a little bit, then you just don’t have a heart. Pikachu’s reaction when Ash dies is also pretty gut-wrenching, though undercut a bit because we know he won’t stay dead. (Ash is very death-prone, but he always resurrects. Again: Chosen of the pokegods)

The B-story about Charmander and his evil trainer is good, too. The first scene is Ash walking along in the woods in the rain. He sees a Charmander sitting on a rock, looking like an abandoned baby, which, of course he is. This is a near-recreation of the same sequence from the show, but in THIS version, when Charmander’s master comes out of the woods, Charmander jumps up and runs towards him with his arms outstretched like a scared toddler (Which he is) and hugs his leg, and the trainer just kicks him away. Again, if this doesn’t put a lump in your throat then you’re probably just not a good person.

There’s also some trippy sequences like the one where Ash hallucinates¬†our world, the real world, and doesn’t even remember Pokemon exist.

Reviews for this movie have not been very good. That’s fair. I’ll be honest: Some of this stuff lands and some of it doesn’t. I get why they did what they did. They took some chances. The story lacks urgency given the absence of a threat, which probably put some people off. The character of Verity doesn’t make much of an impression. Sorrell is a little on the bland side, but a really harrowing flashback to him as a kid more than makes up for that (Again: Lump-in-the-throat time. If it doesn’t affect you, you should probably seek counseling). There’s no real reason for Team Rocket to keep showing up. I get them turning up in a cameo or something, but their repeated appearances through the film add nothing and simply aren’t funny.¬† Ash’s brief time in the world of the dead is cool looking (And eerily similar to his pokemon-free dream sequence earlier on), but it lacks payoff. It feels like he should have done something there, something that he wasn’t able to do when alive, though I have no idea what that might be. And, yes, they didn’t explore the alternate timeline as thoroughly as they could have.

Just the same…this whole is greater than the sum of the parts. It took a big chance, unlike the others, and is flat-out gorgeous, and is the only Pokemovie that ever raised any real emotions in me. Strongly reccomended.

The Creation of Man: Greek Style

My son was just discussing the Prometheus legend with me, and it struck me that it’s one of those things everyone has vaguely heard of (“Don’t tamper in the gods’ domain, or they’ll kick your ass”), but most people don’t really know. So here’s the deal:

Titans outrank gods. The Titans ruled the universe. They were pretty awful, though, so the gods rebelled and overthrew the Titans and took over the universe. Several of the Titans recognized that this was for the best, so during the course of the war, they abandoned their own kind and joined the gods.

Among these turncoats were Prometheus and his brother Epimetheus. Their names mean “Forethought” and “Afterthought,” respectively, but I prefer to think of them as “Jerkass” and “Dumbass,” as as Prometheus was a trickster, and Epimethius was, well, dumb.

(“Tricksters” are like Anansi in African mythology, or Loki in Norse mythology [which has nothing to do with the depiction of him in Marvel]. They’re not evil, they’re frequently chaotic and always unpredictable. Think of Prometheus as Daffy Duck.)

Because they’d been allies in the war, the brothers were allowed to live in Olympus. Prometheus was a little paranoid of the gods because they’d just overthrown their more-or-less rightful leaders, and also because they were notoriously fickle. As Epimetheus was kind of a dope, they said, “You there! Go down to earth and do something to make it pretty so we have nice views. We really don’t care what.” Epimetheus then created nature. (Up to this point, earth was just a rock with occasional water)

Prometheus saw this and thought, “Cool! I want to try!” As his brother had already created animals, he decided to make the best animal ever: Man. Mostly he did this to piss off the gods.

The gods were super-pissed, and were looking at wiping us all out, but eventually they realized we were useful insofar as we made the whole ‘offerings’ thing easier. How were offerings done before there were people? Who the crap knows. It’s mythology. It’s drunken and sloppy at the best of times. So the gods allowed us to live, but they refused to let the brothers back into Olympus as punishment. Also, humans were limited to not being immortal, nor having any supernatural powers.

Time passes, and Prometheus has grown kind of fond of his practical joke, so he decides to give them something that will lift them above being mere animals. He sneaks into Olympus, steals fire from the gods, and gives it to man, thus starting civilization. Yay! This was not entirely humanitarian, though. He was still in large part motivated by a desire to piss off the gods.

Which he did. They chained him to a rock, while a giant monster bird would peck his liver out of his body every day and eat it. Prometheus’ liver would grow back every day, and get eaten out again. Because the gods are jerks. This, by the way, is where earthquakes come from: Prometheus convulsing and yanking on his unbreakable chains.

The story continues: Civilization is starting, and while he’s a dim bulb by divine standards, he’s a bright light to cavemen everywhere. The gods decide to punish the thing Epimetheus loved, rather than him directly. They created Pandora from scratch, specifically designing her to be curious. Then they sent her down with her jar full of plague and disease and said, “Don’t open it. Yo! Epimetheus! Marry this chick!” “Gosh, thanks, Zeus!” “Don’t mention it, kid.”

So of course she opened the jar (It’s not a box, it’s an amphora) and let out just every awful thing on earth, torturing humanity for all existence.

The funky thing about this is that Prometheus was a prophecy god. He did all this *knowing* full well what would happen. Talk about committing to a gag! And we’re left to think that even with all the plauges and crap, mankind was still better off than it was before we had fire.

Amnesty International has been protesting for several years, trying to get Prometheus released, but thus far nothing has come of it.

Patrick and Curi and why I suck at Closure.

Recently I sent out two “Goodbye forever, please don’t write me back” letters to two of my once-and-former best friends. They didn’t do anything wrong or cross me or anything, I just needed to end stuff, and I also need closure because I’m 50, and that’s what fat, middle-aged overdramatic crazy people entering the third act of their lives do. I guess. I’m new at this.
 
The impetus was simply that I’ve had a lot of death in my life lately. Since the start of the year I’ve lost three people, plus a fourth who died a while back and I just found out about it this year. Plus a fifth who’s still alive, but is dead to me. I realize that’s melodramatic, he’s not really dead, but emotionally he went on that same pile.
 
Now, both of these people were folks I was really close to, and who were really important to me at some stage in my life. Patrick “Bad News” Hughes basically transformed me from a humorless, scared-of-girls, fanatical kid who got frightened by hearing “American Pie” on the radio, decided all popular music was satanic, and stopped listening, into, well, *me.* Then he disappeared for a long time, and turned up again around 2001, and we hit it off immediately.
 
Curi was a super-smart teenaged girl who started college at 16 and needed some positive reinforcement from a big brother figure who didn’t actually want anything from her. She inspired me to get back into music again, after many years away.
 
So these folks drifted away over time, to the point where I’d send out my rambling, hilariously profane Christmas letters, and that was about it. Every other year or so, I’d drop another letter on Patrick, just to see if he’d email me or whatever. He never did. Curi would send the occasional “I want you to know I always read everything you send,” comment, and nothing more. You never know how to take that. Is it “I like hearing from you,” or is it “My flesh crawls when I read your letters?” In any event, there was never any other follow up from her.
 
After a while, writing letters to people who never write you back begins to seem creepy and stalkerish. I hadn’t realized it, but I haven’t heard from Patrick in EIGHT years! I decided I needed to say goodbye, and have a period at the end of that sentence. Not because they’d done anything wrong, just because it was important to close out those files in my head, you know?
 
Then Patrick’s letter got returned as “undeliverable,” and I felt cheated. If I had to keep one of ’em, I’d keep Curi, who’s a loveable kid sister. Patrick is an accurately self-described asshole who is no end of fun and challenges me to try new things, then gets pissed off at me for whatever reason, and disappears.
 
So, yeah, the better of the two probably thinks I hate her and the worse of the two probably thinks I’m still pinin’ away for him to drop me a line.
 
Typically my attempts at closure end with guilt (Curi) and an absence of closure (Patrick)