Quick Roundup 230

Friday, August 24, 2007

A Couple of Sci-Fi Classics

My good friend, Adrian Hester, wrote me recently with the following movie recommendations:

I recently acquired two of the classic SF films form the 50s, The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951) and Forbidden Planet (1956). Tonight I finally got around to watching Forbidden Planet. You know, it was quite good. There's a quip that's gone 'round about it, that it was the first episode of Star Trek. It really has that feel, except that the special effects and the story were both better--and, for that matter, Leslie Nielsen's acting was far better than William Shatner's.

The story really is like an episode of Star Trek, and having been a trekkie ages 6-13 I can think of at least three episodes similar to it and a number of turns of phrase and imagery running throughout the series. (Indeed, the original pilot movie for Star Trek with Pike in place of Kirk, cut up into the later episode "The Menagerie", was very much like Forbidden Planet in many respects.) And it had the usual ST denouement, taken over from so much earlier sci-fi, in which there are certain things mankind has not developed sufficiently to control, or perhaps never can develop sufficiently to control, but in this case it actually fit naturally into the set-up of the movie. Only the last line was really typical 50s "Man must not play God." It's not out of place to add that the story was inspired indirectly by Shakespeare's Tempest, and what's especially fun is that the silly subplot with the drink-loving cook actually ended up playing a decent role in the unfolding of the central plot. Of course, you've probably already seen it and are chuckling at my old hat, but if not, it's well worth a watch. (But now it's back to the special feaures on the second disc, which includes a documentary about 50s sci-fi flicks--very few qualify as SF, of course--with interesting interviews with Spielberg, Lucas, Cameron, and Scott.) [minor edits]
Well. No, I wasn't chuckling! I've never seen either of these, so they're now in the Netflix queue.

How Not to Flaunt

Ian Hamet commented on something awhile back that also drives me nuts, "I don't care how many people use 'flaunt' to mean 'flout', the two are not the same."

I have long been annoyed by this sort of phenomenon, which I call "media English", borrowing from a literature professor from college. Somebody uses a word a few other ill-educated journalists have never heard of, but like the sound of -- but not enough to look up the word-- and -- um -- "run" with it. Pretty soon, it seems like it's all you ever hear.

Related are the assorted "verbal tics" I notice propagating through the workplace or even the culture from time to time. Back in grad school, a well-liked professor had a tendency to start every other sentence with "So ....".

So ... everyone else in his wing started doing it too. One of them was so bad about it during a graded lecture that I decided that my sole comment on it would be to state that, "Miss Umptysquat started seventy-four sentences with the word, 'So'". Based on the next lecture I heard from a student in that wing, I think the consensus must have been, "So .... what?"

And don't even get me started on "Thank you soooo much!" That sounded spontaneous and sincere for only the first thousand times I heard it. Hmmmm. "Mirror Neurons vs. Free Will" might be a charitable way to put this!

Belgian ... Pale Ale?!?!

Looking for other things, I noticed this interesting review and list of suggestions for an overshadowed and often-overlooked Belgian style of beer: pale ale.
If you want something with flavor and complexity -- something inspiring -- that is light and refreshing as well, you have to be discerning, especially as many American microbrewers are favoring bigger, more alcoholic styles that may be delicious and complex, but are decidedly not chug-worthy.

India pale ale is a case in point. Not content with a sturdy ale awash in refreshing bitterness, many brewers are making their I.P.A.’s stronger and stronger, with a hop bitterness so aggressive it will knock anybody out of her hammock. These beers can be fascinating in the proper context, but it’s August, man! Cool me off, but don’t bowl me over.
Coincidentally, yesterday was my day to shop for beer. I didn't buy this one (and it's not a pale ale), but I loved the piano-key nimbus around the head of Thelonius Monk on the bottle of North Coast's Brother Thelonius I saw on display.

And on the subject of tasty beers that are also good in hot weather, let this ale drinker startle his friends by suggesting a lager: Full Sail's Session Premium Lager. Don't let the low ratings at the link dissuade you: It is common among beer snobs to speak ill of lagers at every opportunity. (I'm not exactly claiming to be a connoisseur here, but I've been through that phase myself....)

A lager is not an ale. As a lager, I find Session quite good. Heck. As a beer it is quite good. All but one of the people I have introduced to this at parties and poker games have agreed with me.

I do find it slightly puzzling, though, that the Full Sail brewery chose to package this beer in bottles and labels so similar to the much more famous -- but inferior -- Red Stripe.

Privatizing Money

GB offers a succinct discussion of easy credit and its relationship to the boom-and-bust cycle of the economy over at his blog.
"Helicopter Ben" is the nickname Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke reportedly got for a comment he once made regarding how the government should aggressively use monetary policy to prevent a recession. Emphasizing that the key point is to inflate quickly to avert a crisis, he said the government could simply drop money from a helicopter to stimulate the economy.
GB also suggests how we bring our economic policy back down to earth -- without crashing like a helicopter in the process.

-- CAV


: Changed "It is common among beer snobs to slam lagers ..." to "It is common among beer snobs to speak ill of lagers ...". One thing they won't do is get close enough to a lager to slam it down!


bothenook said...

your buddy has good taste in SF movies. and regarding beer, Red Stripe is so overrated that the whole current hooha over it reminds me of the days in hawaii, where the only folks that ordered Primo beer were haolies and locals that were too poor to buy schlitz, but you could buy a Primo t-shirt at the local department store in Billings Mont.

Gus Van Horn said...

I've known Adrian for well over a decade and if I've learned one thing, it's to pay attention when he makes a recommendation about almost anything!

If you give Session a try, drop me a line.

Inspector said...

So... Yeah, I'm familiar with that kind of thing. I had a professor - teaching environmentalism no less* - who used to have all kinds of weird pet words that he, maddeningly, kept repeating.

One day I started a tally on my notepad. It would have the word in question, with a series of tally marks beneath it, separated by the date in question.

After a student next to me cringed at yet another use of one of the words, I showed the notepad and he just about fell off of his chair.

Good times.

*Yes, environmental biology or somesuch. I made his class... interesting.

Gus Van Horn said...

Stealing an idea from. I believe, Reader's Digest, a friend of mine and I used a high school teacher's numerous speech tics as a basis for a baseball game. "Fairly simple" was a strikeout, etc., etc.

After we got caught, the teacher turned beet red and suddenly stopped using the speech tics he learned about.

But then he developed a whole new set within a week!