Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Baby, It's Cold Outside

I was packing my stuff last night for this afternoon's lunchtime run, and I realized that it's gotten cold. I put in pretty much everything: tights, beenie cap, gloves, Under-Armor base layer, wind-briefs...  The forecast says mid- to upper-30s around lunch today, so maybe I won't need all that stuff, but I practically froze last night walking back from the train, so over-packing seemed like a reasonable idea.  Plus, it was only 26-degrees when I woke up this morning.

Don't get me wrong: we've had a lot of nice weather lately.  But the mid-twenties is still cold as Hell, especially for mid-November. And even with all the sunshine we've seen of late, I could still do with a few more 50-degree days. 

We saw Thor: The Dark World over the weekend, and as I put out on both Facebook and Twitter, it struck me as a kind of super-high-end He-Man & the Masters of the Universe.  I mean, it wasn't a bad movie by any means, but I personally found it disconcertingly weird to see dark elves flying around in stealth space ships, fighting guys on horseback with magic swords. Don't get me wrong: the movie was entertaining as it could be. But the way that movie-makers continually misunderstand the value of standoff in a fight--even the value of  being able to shoot someone from fifteen feet away with a ray-gun versus having to physically close the distance and stab them--that's weird, and it will always stretch my suspension of disbelief to it's breaking point. 

At least with Star Wars, Luke had to block the bullets with his lightsaber, and when he did it, people were like, "Wow!  That's amazing!"  Here, the elves get off the spaceship with their laser guns and are immediately met--and driven back!--by dudes with short swords and small shields moving in an old-school phalanx. A quad-mounted fifty-cal would've changed the whole complexity of that fight, but luckily for our heroes, the bad guys only brought lasers and stealth space ships. 

Anyway, Thor has never been one of my favorite comics, and there's a reason why. But if you liked the movie and you want to read more Marvel-in-Asgaard, I highly recommend the New Mutants in Asgaard One-Shot that came out in the late 80s in conjunction with an X-Men/Alpha Flight two-issue mini-series. Basically, Loki kidnaps Storm, and in trying to rescue her, the New Mutants run afoul of the Enchantress.  The book is a sixty-four page one-shot, and I got it for $1.50 back in 1985. The whole thing has since been repackaged as X-Men: The Asgaardian Wars, available only in print via Amazon.Com because for whatever reason Marvel hasn't digitized the thing and put it up on Comixology. And it's out-of-print, too, so you'll have to get it from a third-party supplier. 

Argh. I'm guessing that no one's gonna actually do that.  It's a shame, too, because the book is terrific. 

Well, if you live close by, let me know, and I'll let you borrow my copy. I bought another in a little shop in Tennessee a few years back--out of the their quarter-bin. Still cost me a buck, but I've been saving it for Emma ever since. Probably ought to go ahead and give it to her now that she's into Asgaard and whatnot. 

We also saw Ender's Game over the weekend. I quite liked it, and so did my older daughter, Hannah. Emma got bored, I think. 

My only critique of the movie is that they played it dishonestly with the moral-quandary aspects. In the book, there is no hint whatsoever that committing genocide against the Formics is a bad idea. In fact, it's only in the last chapter that we start to realize that these guys have not only been using Ender--we knew that, that's the point of the book--but now, having won the war, they intend to actually throw him away. He's like nuclear waste--too dangerous to let near actual people. 

But this is a part of what makes the second book, Speaker for the Dead, so amazing. Because it's a Hell of an ironic reversal to realize that Ender hates himself, that he's gone to near-Herculean lengths to demonize himself in the eyes of the populace of humanity, and that he's also been carrying a hive-queen pupa around with him for a thousand years or so.  And when he sets that queen up to repopulate a new planet, suddenly all the people who were quick to call him a monster are, well, a little worried. 

As they should be.

My kids weren't real fired up about talking about Just War Theory after the movie was over, but we did it anyway.  It was a serious challenge to get them to see the Formics as an enemy that maybe really did need to be destroyed, to get them to realize that a threat to the survival of the species might actually need to be eradicated, rights and wrongs be damned. But that is also part of the point of the story, which is why I say that the movie-makers cheated on the story's moral aspects. 

In the end, I personally can't help thinking that Col. Graff was right. 

And now we're almost in New York. Happy Hump Day. 

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