This Friday, October 8th, kicks off the 2010 New York Comic Con. I was hoping to be there, but plans have changed. That said, NYCC is a big, noisy, wonderful convention (not yet as big and noisy as San Diego and far more comic book-centric), so if you’re in the New York area, and you love comics, you owe it to yourself to go.
Friday the 8th is also the day my next episode of Batman: The Brave and the Bold airs. This one features the Doom Patrol and I'm incredibly pleased with the way it turned out. A word of warning: The story skews a little darker than the average B & B episode. As they say: parental discretion is advised. You can catch the show on Cartoon Network, Friday night at 7 pm.
October 9th is John Lennon’s birthday—my one true rock and roll hero would have been seventy—and this seems like the perfect opportunity to post the second part of my “Meeting Lennon” story. (You can read part one here.) I can’t promise I’ll make it by Saturday, but I’m aiming to post the story within a week of the big day. If I blow that deadline, feel free to harass me about it.
I saw The Social Network over the weekend and thought it was terrific: a strong, smart script (by Aaron Sorkin), incredibly well-acted, surprisingly moving—and director David Fincher kept the whole thing moving like a shot. The reviews aren’t exaggerations: TSN really is one of the best films of the year. That said...
A number of critics—and the film makers themselves—have called the story of Mark Zuckerberg and the creation of Facebook a modern-day Citizen Kane. Here’s the big difference I see: although Welles based elements of CK on the life of William Randolph Heart, he didn’t pretend to be presenting a factual account of Hearst’s life. And he certainly didn’t call his character W.R. Hearst. By giving us an account of Zuckerberg’s life that is presented as a work of rigorously-researched non-fiction—Sorkin, in particular, is promoting it this way, despite many people pointing out the gap between movie-reality and the true story—the whole thing feels just a little...creepy. Whatever the facts, this film will define Zuckerberg in the public mind for years to come. However much I enjoyed The Social Network, I think I would have preferred a film about Charles Foster Zuck.
My previous post about Kraven’s Last Hunt—and the Russian origins of Sergei Kravinov—brought a flurry of comments about my literary idol, Dostoyevsky, whose work inspired my interpretation of Kraven the Hunter. This, in turn, reminded me of a 1940’s radio adaptation of Dostoyevsky’s Crime and Punishment that I heard a few months back: a wonderful—if wildly-truncated—version of the story that appeared on a show called Mystery In The Air. It starred Peter Lorre (who also starred in the 1935 film version) and you can download it, for free (and, yes, it’s perfectly legal), right here.
The other day I got into an email discussion with a friend about the nature of time; specifically the idea, which I wholeheartedly subscribe to, that time isn’t linear. “All moments are simultaneous,” I wrote him. “Among other things, that means time-travel is more a problem of perception. No time machine needed, just the mind aimed at a different moment.” He, in turn, told me about an experiment done by a Harvard professor, Dr. Ellen Langer, that... Well, here, I’ll let the Boston Globe explain:
The study...took place in 1979 and was, in its way, a feat of canny stagecraft. In an old monastery in Peterborough, N.H., Langer and her students set up an elaborate time capsule of the world 20 years earlier, then sent two separate groups of men in their late 70s and early 80s to spend a week there. Each group spent the week immersed in the year 1959, discussing Castro’s advances in Cuba and the Colts’ victory in the NFL championship, listening to Perry Como and Nat King Cole, watching “North by Northwest” and “Some Like it Hot.” The only difference between the two groups was that one talked about the year in the present tense - they were pretending it was 1959 - and the other group referred to it in the past.
Before and after, the men in both groups were given a battery of cognitive and physical tests. What Langer found was that the men in both groups seemed to have reversed many of the declines associated with aging - they were stronger and more flexible, their memories and their performance on intelligence tests improved. But the men who had acted as if it really was 1959 had improved significantly more. By mentally living as younger men for a week, they seemed actually to have turned back the clock.
Time travel indeed. Something for all of us to think about and, if you’re inclined, discuss right here at Creation Point.
© copyright 2010 J.M. DeMatteis
Is that why I start sucking my thumb and experience toilet training issues while watching Mad Men?ReplyDelete
No doubt, Jeff!ReplyDelete
Then I'd have to say: versimilitude's a bitch (and here I thought it was 'cause I was weird)!ReplyDelete
If you ever decide to write an autobiography, Jeff, I'd suggest VERISIMILITUDE'S A BITCH as the title.ReplyDelete
Yeah, then watch me get sued for slander by versimitude...ReplyDelete
I love time travel stories, and tend to think they're pointing us toward some unseen (but deeply felt) truth. I couldn't say what that truth is, but its existence is more important than its articulation.ReplyDelete
Re-watched the BACK TO THE FUTURE trilogy not too long ago, and it only reinforced my love affair with time travel.
LOL, Jeff! No wonder you like Spider-Man so much. Sounds you've got the Parker wit AND the Parker luck!ReplyDelete
I, too, love time travel stories, David. From Rod Serling's TZ classic "Walking Distance" to Billy Pilgrim coming unstuck in Vonnegut's SLAUGHTERHOUSE FIVE. From Jack Finney's TIME AND AGAIN to Bradbury's "A Sound of Thunder." Then there's Richard Matheson's BID TIME RETURN, Robert Heinlein's "By His Bootstraps," Nicholas Meyer's wonderful film TIME AFTER TIME and...well, I could go on all day.ReplyDelete
Anyone else out there have nominees for best time travel story?
David- If I wake up and find my marriage never happened, I'm gonna be pissed!ReplyDelete
That's a tough one. I'll throw the film FREQUENCY into the mix. Fantastic movie.
Pretty much anything involving time travel during Mark Waid's FLASH run is gold to me. THE RETURN OF BARRY ALLEN, the alternate Flash story (starring Walter, not Wally, West), etc...
(Speaking of Waid, he's knocking his final ASM arc, ORIGIN OF THE SPECIES, out of the park so far.)
Love THE CITY ON THE EDGE OF FOREVER, even if it is a little bleak (but hey, it is tragedy).
And just to kick off some controversy, I think BACK TO THE FUTURE might just be the most satisfying trilogy ever.
Nah, you won't feel pissed. You'll just be confused, wondering why your un-wife is a little ticked about not getting flowers on your non-anniversary!:)
How could I have forgotten "City on the Edge"...? Best STAR TREK episode ever (and further proof, if proof be needed, that Shatner's a terrific actor).ReplyDelete
I'm a big fan of the first BACK TO THE FUTURE, David, less so with the other two.
You're not alone in that, JMD (I knew that would be controversial). The only real weakness I see is the future sequence from II, which is pretty unimaginative. But the 50s overlap, the alternate 1985, and the Wild West material still holds up.ReplyDelete
The way I see it, BTTF is one of the only trilogies to fulfill the promise of the first film, and bring things to a thoroughly satisfying conclusion. I'm fully aware I might be the only person who understands this! Ah, the price of being a visionary....
I was wondering about CITY ON THE EDGE...thought maybe there was a story behind your omission!
No story beyond simple forgetting, David.ReplyDelete
I hear you can make a lot of money in the visionary racket: you just need your own cable news show...
LOL! I'm afraid I'm not convincingly angry enough to hold my own in the cable news market.ReplyDelete
"IN TODAY'S MORON OR IDIOT? SEGMENT: BACK TO THE FUTURE, AND WHY CONGREES DOESN'T WANT YOU TO KNOW IT'S THE GREATEST TRILOGY EVER!"
How's that? I'm sure I could do better if traffic to the studio is bad.
Guess you'll just have to work on it, David!ReplyDelete
My favorite time travel movie is "12 Monkeys". It is inspired by another great time travel movie "La Jeteé" a short film told in pictures except for one very moving scene where the pictures movie just for a few seconds. La Jeteé was very good, but I like 12 Monkeys more. It was one of the first movies that I had to rewatch to understand it. I watched it three times when I was 12 and I've seen it several times since then.ReplyDelete
A lot of people like "Primer". This is also very hard to understand in one watching. But I never got into it as much as Twelve Monkeys. While this is intellectually interesting, it is not as artistically crafted as Monkeys.
In terms of television, there is an episode of Star Trek, where they relive a day over and over again, I don't know if that counts as time travel. I also like the movie where they go to 1980s San Francisco.
Babylon 5, one of my favorite TV shows, also has some pretty cool time travel stories. The first season has a goofy time travel episode, but it becomes very important in the third and fourth seasons, when time travel becomes a crucial element in the overall plot. Very well executed in my opinion.
I recently saw 12 MONKEYS again for the first time in years, Quique, and it really held up. Terry Gilliam is quite the director: whenever I imagine MOONSHADOW becoming a movie, Gilliam's the first guy I see behind the camera.ReplyDelete
I'm pretty sure I saw PRIMER -- according to Netflix I have -- but it left me with no impression whatsoever. I don't remember it!
I don't think I've ever seen more than five minutes of BABYLON 5, if that much. Is it worth renting the DVDs?
Time-Travel stories, you say. I'll pick a few favorites (It might be a spoiler that time-travel is involved, forgive me)ReplyDelete
Print:DISCIPLINE by Paco Ahlgren economics and chess make appearances as well. For the Young-Adult in me, WHEN YOU REACH ME by Rebecca Stead was satisfying.
Film: TIMECRIMES is an interesting Spanish time-travel film. THE TERMINATOR I & II get my votes (and some aspects of SALVATION) and I really enjoy SOUTHLAND TALES while most pan it but hard.
I echo the FLASH comments, and am looking forward to what is coming next year from Geoff Johns in FLASHPOINT.
Regarding Babylon 5, I watched it from start to finish last year. I recommend it as worthwhile. Its series-arc was planned and large enough to carry the show for me. Having characters that develop and a reason for most events is a big plus in multi-season TV.
12 MONKEYS is great, Quique. My only complaint is that it transformed my reaction to "What a Wonderful World" forever! Song still gives me chills.ReplyDelete
I watched STAR TREK IV: THE VOYAGE HOME over and over when it first came out, and I still revisit it from time to time. That was my favorite movie for about two years, actually, until Batmania hit in '89.
Lots of material there that I've never heard of, Tim, which is great: I'm always looking for new things to read and watch.ReplyDelete
Yes, the first two TERMINATOR movies were terrific; and it's looking like I'll have to add BABYLON 5 to my Netflix queue.
Here's a fun fact: the first animation script I ever sold was for a show called THE REAL GHOSTBUSTERS. The story editor I sold the script to? BABYLON 5 creator -- and comics scripter -- J. Michael Straczynski.
STAR TREK IV isn't the best TREK movie, David, but it's certainly the most charming. I'm very fond of it.ReplyDelete
The first season of Babylon 5 isn't great, but it has an episode I really like and it sets up the great story that would unfold later on. My wife didn't like it and wouldn't see it, but by chance she saw a crucial episode in the second season where the show went from good to fantastic. The episode is around episode 8 of season 2 and from then on, everything set up before starts rolling in great dramatic fashion. It seems incredible that Straczynski was able to write every episode of a show for three seasons (I think he wrote every episode of seasons 3 and 4 and all but one of season 5 where he had Gaiman as a guest writer).ReplyDelete
There is one episode called "Walkabout" or something like that, that I am quite certain you would find interesting. It seems like the kind of story you would like (forgive me for assuming this from what I read in your blog and the books I've read written from you).
I think it is a great show, it has its flaws as most things, but it has some great characters, a great plot and a lot of interesting stories. It also has a story that it is full of hope.
Gah, I was hoping to see you at the show, JMD. Oh well.ReplyDelete
I remember my Dad taking me to see Time After Time, a great time travel movie. That and the couple of Treks that centered around the concept were probably my introduction to the whole idea of time travel.
There's a passage in one of Stephen Hawking's books about how time would pass--or, more accurately, wouldn't--if you were in a black hole (as if you could withstand being there in the first place). More and more "time" would "pass" in between the ticks of your watch, until it would stop entirely. Kind of chilling, really.
I'm agreed on STIV: not the best, but the most charming. I can't recall if Nimoy said it was his favorite, but I do remember reading he was very proud of making a TREK movie that avoided violence so capably.ReplyDelete
And I can't believe I forgot THE TERMINATOR and T2!
Cool story about JMS. And how funny that he would end up writing ASM, too.
"It's a small world after all..."
Sounds like BABYLON 5 will be perfect for viewing next summer, Quique. Nothing on TV, so we can relax and blow through season after season. Thanks for the expert analysis!ReplyDelete
There's always 2011, Rob!ReplyDelete
I've seen TIME AFTER TIME many times over the years and it really holds up. As the man behind both TAT and THE WRATH OF KHAN, Nicholas Meyer's place in Geek Heaven is secure. Friends of mine are working on a film project with Meyer right now and they say he's an incredibly interesting -- and intelligent -- guy.
Speaking of time stopping, there's an wonderful short story by Walter Tevis -- who wrote THE HUSTLER and THE MAN WHO FELL TO EARTH -- about a man and woman who have the ability to stop time whenever they're together in a certain place. Talk about chilling. I've never forgotten it. (Although I HAVE forgotten the name of the story!)
It is a VERY small world, David. I remember being impressed by JMS's skills way back when he edited my GHOSTBUSTERS script. He sliced and diced where necessary, but in such a way that my own voice -- and contributions -- remained clear and strong. The best kind of editing.ReplyDelete
Sounds like an exciting time for you! Hope all goes well, sure it will.ReplyDelete
Thanks, Mike! All the best -- JMDReplyDelete
My belated thoughts on last week's $#*! MY DAD SAYS:ReplyDelete
We're pretty much in agreement, David. The one glimmer of hope I saw re: the father-son relationship was the last scene, with the two of them on the couch -- invoking Denny Crane and Alan Shore on the balcony? -- sending Instant Messages back and forth. It had a real humanity and tenderness. The show seems to work better during these quiet, character moments than it does when the comedy tries to hard.ReplyDelete
But, yes, getting better. I'm keeping my fingers crossed. I WANT to love this show.
Great point about the IM scene, JMD. Hopefully the show will tap into more of that.ReplyDelete
By the way: I loved the caption under the picture on your blog: "Dad, my back hurts. Can you carry the show tonight?" Too true!ReplyDelete
Have you seen the Google Logo for today (10/9)? It's a Lennon tribute. In case your 'deadline' needed a few more inspiring prods.ReplyDelete
I did see it, Tim. And thanks for the gentle prod!ReplyDelete