Weekend Coffee Share

wordswag_15073188796611453091488Weekend Coffee Share is a time for us to take a break out of our lives and enjoy some time catching up with friends (old and new)!

Grab a cup of coffee and share with us! What’s been going on in your life? What are your weekend plans? Is there a topic you’ve just been ruminating on that you want to talk about?

If we were having coffee, I’d urge you to see The Babushkas of Chernobyl. Talk about a movie about strong women! It’s truly unique.

I’d mention that I had a nice birthday starting with dinner at a favorite restaurant when my sister was in town. Then I had jury duty on my birthday, but got the afternoon free.

I’d tell you I’m reading C.S. Lewis’ Perelandra, the second book in his Space Trilogy. It’s grabbed me from the start as we have a new narrator, who’s likable, and who’s telling Dr. Ransom’s story. I wonder why . . . .

Our weather is getting a bit colder, which makes me shudder, but it’s been so sunny and clear that I’m remembering that autumn does have its charms.

I attended my Great Books discussion where we discussed a selection of Marx’s early writings on workers’ alienation. The reading was dense and it bothered me that Marx never explained how he came by his conclusions. Some explanation of how observations or survey data would have been nice, though I understand that it wasn’t common in 1844 to collect quantitative data the way. A major study on poverty was done street by street in London in the 1890s. While people approached Marx with an open mind, I was glad that I wasn’t the only one who found the reading a slog.

I haven’t heard from the library where I interviewed. I hoped to hear early last week, but didn’t. My guess is that I won’t get an offer, which is how things go. The waiting part of job hunting is trying.

Yesterday I met one of former students from China. We went to the Museum Day sponsored by the Smithsonian. After brunch we went to the Adler Planetarium, which I hadn’t been to in years. It was fun to see Melody who’s preparing for the CPA exam. She’s passed 3 of the 4 sections already. I wish her well.

Out of the Silent Planet

In fact, I’ve Out-of-the-Silent-Planet-9780684833644I’m not a big science-fi fan. I rarely read the genre, but I loved C.S. Lewis’ Out of the Silent Planet. I’ve already ordered book two in this tragedy.

In Out of the Silent Planet, average Joe, Dr. Ransom, happens upon and old schoolmate Devine and Devine’s new evil scientist buddy Weston. Ransom had been tramping around the countryside and, as a favor to a woman he met, went to this house to see why her son, a servant there was late and her mother was apprehensive. It turns out that she had good cause. When Ransom arrived, the two men were fighting, physically, with the boy. In the end Weston and Devine were in the process of abducting the boy. In the end the boy is freed and Ransom, when he comes to after being knocked unconscious. Ransom realizes he’s hurtling through space kidnapped by Weston and Devine.

Ransom overhears Weston and Devine. They’ve been to Malacandria, the planet they’re heading to, before and were returning to offer up Ransom to the aliens there. They’re hoping to load up on valuable resources and hand over Ransom to the sorns, a species of aliens on Malacandria.

Ransom’s forewarned and planned to escape. He manages to run off though a bizarre environment with pink sticky earth, odd food, three homo sapien species that can see angels and that get along with each other. As a philologist, Ransom is quickly able to learn the aliens’ language. (Well, one of them, as it turns out each species has its own language and one shared language.)

As Ransom evades and eventually is captured by the aliens, he learns to look at life in a completely different and wise way.

This is a book I relished. Lewis has such a gift for language and made me want to improve the book I’m working on currently. The themes are related to Christianity, but even if that’s not your faith, it makes you think about human life and our foibles.

I read that C.S. Lewis once criticized sci-fi because in most stories the writer takes you to the end of the universe, but everything is basically the same with the substitutions being basically the same as what we now have. For example, here we have guns while in outer space in most stories they just use lasers and use them in the same instances we  would. In Out of the Silent Planet, the aliens’ philosophy and approach to life is just about completely different from humans. They’re quite impressive on the whole.

Good Quotations

“And how could we endure to live and let time pass if we were always crying for one day or one year to come back–if we did not know that every day in a life fills the whole life with expectation and memory and that these are that day?”

“A pleasure is full grown only when it is remembered. You are speaking, Hmán, as if pleasure were one thing and the memory another. It is all one thing.”

“But Ransom, as time wore on, became aware of another and more spiritual cause for his progressive lightening and exultation of heart. A nightmare, long engendered in the modern mind by the mythology that follows in the wake of science, was falling off him. He had read of ‘Space’: at the back of his thinking for years had lurked the dismal fancy of the black, cold vacuity, the utter deadness, which was supposed to separate the worlds. He had not known how much it affected him till now-now that the very name ‘Space’ seemed a blasphemous libel for this empyrean ocean of radiance in which they swam. He could not call it ‘dead’; he felt life pouring into him from it every moment. How indeed should it be otherwise, since out of this ocean all the worlds and all their life had come? He had thought it barren: he now saw that it was the womb of worlds, whose blazing and innumerable offspring looked down nightly even upon the earth with so many eyes-and here, with how many more! No: Space was the wrong name.”

The Forbidden Planet

A rather corny, yet fun sci-fi movie, The Forbidden Planet is a welcome delight. The effects are primitive compared to today’s, but I still enjoyed this film. In fact, the lower quality, not at all overstimulating, effects were just fine, rather nostalgic in fact.

Starring Walter Pidgeon as Dr. Moribus, a reclusive scientist who’s lived on this remote planet for years. He came there 20 or so years ago with a group of 20 or so scientists who all died mysteriously. When the film takes place Commander Adams, played by Leslie Nielsen, ignores Moribus’ warnings to turn around. Adams’ mission is to find out what happened on a planet called Altair IV when Moribus’ colleagues all died. Soon after landing, the commander and his men (there are no female or minority astronauts in 2200) are greeting by Robbie the Robot, whom I thoroughly enjoyed. Robbie speaks hundreds of laws, can manufacture clothing, food, alcohol and who knows what else.

Robbie takes a team of Adams’ men to Dr. Moribus, where they learn about the planet’s history and all the advanced technology he’s developed or was developed by a highly sophisticated society, the Krells. Despite their intelligence and high-minded philosophy, the Krells are no more, which is mysterious.

forbidden_planet_poster

Adams and his colleagues meet Dr. Moribus’ beautiful, sheltered daughter Alta and romance ensues.

Soon the odd Moribus, who’s not about to leave the planet, comes into conflict with Adams’. On top of that, a formidable monster attacks and kills one of Adams’ men. Then the monster comes to attack Moribus’ home/headquarters.

The film was fun and swift. Robbie the Robot was a real star, and the first robot to show personality in the history of science-fiction films.

Out of curiosity, I looked at the 1956 review in the Chicago Daily Tribune and saw that the reviewer was far from amused. Sci-Fi clearly wasn’t the reviewers’ genre. Take a look at the citation to see that writer’s pen name.

Note: My friend Kevin shared an article that shows how The Forbidden Planet is an adaptation of Shakespeare’s The Tempest.

Reference
TINEE, MAE. “This Space Ship Fails to Soar Far enough.” Chicago Daily Tribune (1923-1963), Apr 17 1956, p. 1. ProQuest. Web. 9 June 2018 .

12 Days of Christmas Stories, #4

Doctor Who Last Christmas is an outstanding episode, that’s funny, mind-bending, and emotionally satisfying. It delivers smart science-fi that makes you think about our dreams and our dreams within dreams. We see Clara missing her boyfriend Danny, who had died (I haven’t seen that episode. I’m quite behind in my Doctor Who viewing. As usual Peter Capaldi is a frantic, whip smart and yet annoying Doctor, who usually makes a good point when you think about it.

It’s got the gross monstrous villains you expect. The twists and turns that make the plot unpredictable and moments between Clara and Danny and the Doctor and Clara that provide emotion that’s more real than what’s on a lot of television. It does a lot of questioning our dream states that was compelling.

Oh, and Santa, Santa and elves with attitude and smarts feature prominently.

You can find it on Amazon or DVD. Give it a watch!

Jellyfish Eyes

film-jellyfish-eyes

A mix of animation and live action, Jellyfish Eyes amazed me. It’s the story of Masashi, a Japanese boy whose father died in the tsunami. He moves with his mother to a new town where he befriends an otherworldly creature and soon learns that all the other children have similar strange friends that they control with remote controls and have fight each other whenever their teacher turns her back.

Mashasi’s uncle works at a mysterious lab, which turns out to be run by a nefarious group of evil scientists trying to harness negative energy through children since children’s energy is purest. His uncle opposes the mad scientists, but they ignore his warnings and pleas.

As the movie progresses,a girl befriends Masashi saving him from bullies. The girl’s mother in reaction to the tsunami and following nuclear disaster, has joined a religious cult. Thus the girl, like Masashi must parent herself. The film is unique in that shows children coping with trauma and loss. It has a powerful message of self-sacrifice and pulling together rationally in times of crisis. At the end I was stunned. As the film’s directed towards children it ends happily, but that was uncertain till the last minutes. I thought it was brave and smart to give children a chance to see such a wise, exciting and delightful film.

It offers adults the message of how technocrats and scientists gamble with our safety when they get caught up with an idea or “solution.” It’s such a different film and one old and young (as young as say 10) could enjoy and ponder.

Things to Come

Everytown, UK, circa 1970

Everytown, UK, circa 1970

H. G. Wells wrote Things to Come (1936) is a wild wide of speculative science fiction. I do wonder what people in 1936 thought of it. The plot revolves around war, never ending war that starts on Christmas in Everytown, UK. The world war drags on and leads to a plague causing civilization to decline. By the 1970s the plague is over but a tyrant obsesses over continuing the fighting. This maniac, dressed in a tattered WWII era uniform which he accessorizes with a barbaric animal skin, bullies and rages mostly against the scientists and aviators in his city. Yet he’s no match for the league of engineers and scientists of Wings over the World who live in a prosperous, sane society where logic and reason rule.

After the Wings over the World defeat the brute and his ragged army, we leap to 2045, where every building is sleek and people dress in Jetson-like attire with the one difference that men wear sleek, short Roman looking skirts or shorts. The head of the government is played by an actor who plays a rational man in 1936, and the emissary of Wings over the World in 1970. He’s the progeny of these earlier men. His personality, regal and scientific, is the same from generation to generation. He’s keen to send his daughter and a young man up into outer space via a high tech canon. A rebel tries to stop this voyage railing that this constant movement to progress is bad for society.

The set is brilliant. In the 1960s and 70s Everytown is falling apart. Every wall is decaying. Not one object is new or in good shape. The tyrant’s coffee pot has lost its handle. People use old cars as carriages drawn by horses. That’s the best metaphor for how the war has impacted society. In the sleek, 2040s era everything’s shiny and sleek. No doubt this set inspired subsequent futuristic films.

Everytown, UK, 2045

Everytown, UK, 2045

Since history didn’t exactly pan out the way Things to Come envisioned. The film amused me more than than anything else. The characters we’re to align with are so earnest in their dire prophecies. Unlike 1984 or The Brave New World, I don’t see any metaphoric parallels in civilization. It’s more of an example of early sci fi than a film with a message for me.

Things to Come

Everytown, UK, circa 1970

Everytown, UK, circa 1970

H. G. Wells wrote Things to Come (1936) is a wild wide of speculative science fiction. I do wonder what people in 1936 thought of it. The plot revolves around war, never ending war that starts on Christmas in Everytown, UK. The world war drags on and leads to a plague causing civilization to decline. By the 1970s the plague is over but a tyrant obsesses over continuing the fighting. This maniac, dressed in a tattered WWII era uniform which he accessorizes with a barbaric animal skin, bullies and rages mostly against the scientists and aviators in his city. Yet he’s no match for the league of engineers and scientists of Wings over the World who live in a prosperous, sane society where logic and reason rule.

After the Wings over the World defeat the brute and his ragged army, we leap to 2045, where every building is sleek and people dress in Jetson-like attire with the one difference that men wear sleek, short Roman looking skirts or shorts. The head of the government is played by an actor who plays a rational man in 1936, and the emissary of Wings over the World in 1970. He’s the progeny of these earlier men. His personality, regal and scientific, is the same from generation to generation. He’s keen to send his daughter and a young man up into outer space via a high tech canon. A rebel tries to stop this voyage railing that this constant movement to progress is bad for society.

The set is brilliant. In the 1960s and 70s Everytown is falling apart. Every wall is decaying. Not one object is new or in good shape. The tyrant’s coffee pot has lost its handle. People use old cars as carriages drawn by horses. That’s the best metaphor for how the war has impacted society. In the sleek, 2040s era everything’s shiny and sleek. No doubt this set inspired subsequent futuristic films.

Everytown, UK, 2045

Everytown, UK, 2045

Since history didn’t exactly pan out the way Things to Come envisioned. The film amused me more than than anything else. The characters we’re to align with are so earnest in their dire prophecies. Unlike 1984 or The Brave New World, I don’t see any metaphoric parallels in civilization. It’s more of an example of early sci fi than a film with a message for me.