On occasion, thoughts come out of my brain. I’ll never promise that they’ll be good or interesting; a keen way to cop-out of defending my own work but they are interesting enough to me to want to do something with them. The problem is they’re not bulky enough to write a dedicated article to them. Not with my attention span, anyway. So, and without further ado, here are three topics I’ve wanted to talk about. If you are especially good today, class, I’ll throw in some homework assignments to make learning . . . fun?
And yes, I used a thesaurus to find the word “solicitudes”. Had that alliteration fever, you know how that goes. I apologize for nothing – except that one incident involving mule breeding in Budapest. Hey, live and learn.
Solicitude No. A
Back when the AFI (American Film Institute) had a modicum of interest of self-promotion, they filmed interviews with some of the greatest legends of the industry, impactful people to folks of my generation. Amongst them was Steven Spielberg, a director that is lumped into a group called the “Movie Brats”. A lot can be said about the movie brats and the film industry during the 1970s (much of it shadowing the movie industry of today) but this is not that place or time. We’re talking about what I want to talk about.
There is a section of Spielberg’s interview (clip above) that has always stuck with me. He calls out the younger generation for not embracing older films, mainly movies before 1960. This is a fitting bit of advice. A lot of the Movie Brats’ greatest contributions have more than a passing resemblance of post-war era of film and television. Einstein said it best:
The secret of creativity is knowing how to hide your sources. – Albert Einstein
But that’s not what I really wanted to talk about. I said all of that just to say this. Over the years it has become more and more clear to me that you probably can replace the phrase “young people” with J.J. Abrams. I swear he’s calling about J.J. and am I wrong? I like some of his work but he’s been camped out on Spielberg’s creative backyard for most of his career.
On a personal note. JJ, baby. Do yourself a favor. Stop messing around in fandoms that don’t like you and go back to projects you want to make (a./k./a. spy stuff). Your work will come out better and you’ll be a lot happier for it. OXOXOX
So, what about you? What films before 1960 can you say you’ve watched even liked? How big is your list? Write in the comments. Here’s a few of mine: King Kong, Stormy Weather, Seven Samurai, The Third Man, Gilda, The Big Sleep, and La Belle et la Bête. It’s okay if you put down The Wizard of Oz or a Disney film, just know you’ll be on par with most six-year-olds. If you put down Citizen Kane, I bet your film professor is mighty proud of you (but real talk, Citizen Kane is a good film).
Solicitude No. B
On a somewhat related note, Star Wars.
I really didn't dig the sequel trilogy movies or anything Disney has done with the franchise. At this point do I have to state that The Mandalorian is not included in that criticism? Okay.
There is one scene in The Last Jedi that gets a lot of attention for both good and ill, the Holdo Maneuver. I'm not interested in arguments concerning canon ramifications and the like but I am curious about the problem-solving challenges future writers might have. If you can ram space stuff into other space stuff at light speed, what is to stop all future fights devolving to ram fest? Here is my simple solution.
The "jump into hyperspace", as I understand it in the Star Wars universe, is less than a race in normal space but a hop into an alternate dimension, bypassing reality. The only reason exhausting calculations are needed for the jump is that real objects still influence hyperspace. Planets, large spaceships, and black holes are big enough to cast "shadows" in hyperspace, manifesting as a "solid" obstacle. (Okay, I know this is theoretical science applied in a fictional space opera but stay with me). I could be wrong (not too bothered if I am) but shadows in hyperspace are related to gravitational forces. Do you know what exist in the Star Wars universe that can alter gravity. Tractor beams. All one would have to do it lock onto a molecule with their tractor beam and wallah, instant shield.
Actually, this idea is not my own. I don't remember the Legends source (tell me if you know), but smugglers would use tractor beams to bust up ships in hyperspace. Strange isn't it. Somehow decades of literary backlogs written by several amazing authors is better thought out than the rushed screenplay written by the postmodern mastermind behind the tour de force film Evil Demon Golfball from Hell!!!
Solicitude No. C
Did I say three. Damn! I guess I can manage one more . . .
I'll probably mention it in future articles but I teach as a side job, mostly substituting but I'll take on the rare year contract or two. I have my own unrelated business but teaching helps subsidize my lifestyle (it sure helped prepare for COVID-19). Because I spend so much time in schools, I'm certain I'll wax poetically now and again from time to time on the subject. Also note, dear reader, I'm probably older than you and it's been a minute since I've actually went to high school.
With schools closed due to COVID-19, I can't help but think that the graduating classes of 2020 are missing out on one of those great moments life rarely hands out. Sure the candlelight ceremony (that's what my school did, what about you?) and/or The Walk are important parts of this transitional time and will be given in a digital forum but the small things that add up are my main concerns:
- That week when everyone is receiving their college acceptance letters but yours hasn't come yet.
- Walking down the halls for the last time and realizing it.
- Writing on your favorite teacher's whiteboard about being "free" and how they changed your life. Then learning that your teacher is not free and wishes they could have taught you something really important.
- The family celebrations in May.
- That last dance social.
- Making promises to stay in touch with friends, knowing it's a lie.
- Learning that the girl that you crushed on for four years also like you back but she's going to an out-of-state college.
- Taking that group photo with friends, sealing that place in time forever.
- The moment you realize you could have done more and tried harder.
Maybe you're thinking "good riddance". Maybe you're right but at least it was an option you had. The end of the high school experience should feel like something. We might differ on that exact feeling but it should add up to more than a passing day on the calendar. I'll keep my eyes open to see what schools do to give 2020 a sense of normalcy.
Until next time.