Saturday, April 26, 2008

Sports: what's the big deal?

I'm not interested in watching adults play children's ball games. Fortunately, none of my friends are interested in that kind of thing, either. The sports we enjoy are those we actually participate in ourselves. If I did have a "sports" watching friend, I'm afraid I would be the hapless gentlemen in this edition of Wondermark:

The Rittmaster and I have a discussion from time to time that revolves around the average American's obsession with ball teams, and especially the way so many people seem to personalize their fascination with a group of grown men (usually) being paid zillions of dollars to throw a ball around. "We never should have traded so-and-so!", they say, or "We're at such-and-such place in the series!" Um, what's this "we"? They don't know you and you probably don't know any of them personally. You're a face in the stands or, even more remotely, in front of a TV. More importantly to them, you're just a means to a paycheck. Not only that, but gone are the days when a ball team was actually made up of local chaps actually representing their local population base. I suppose I could see getting all het up about a college team (even though I never made it to a game when I was in college...too busy with much more interesting pursuits like boats and books), or an actual home-town grassroots league thing...but pro "sports"? Not so much.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Got teenagers? Get Teen Away!

Brought to you by alert researchers over at Rifftrax! Finally, a way to repel pesky teenagers! It's a device that emits a hypersonic tone only (mostly) audible to the bobby socks and hair grease set...or the gut muffin and saggy pants set, depending on how up to date you are. The down side is that I, at age 44, can hear it, too. How annoying is that? Well, the cat sitting in my lap wasn't too thrilled either (sorry, Beany), so I guess I won't be picking up this little number any time soon.

Ironically, for me anyway, this recalls a memory of visiting a hardware store in Bremerton with my family back when I myself was a pesky teenager. Something in that store, perhaps a prototypical "Mosquito Noise Teen Repeller", emitted a very irritating high-pitched electronic whine that just set my teeth on edge and triggered a headache. My parents, being the stoic, staid, unflappable (transplanted) Midwesterners that they are, didn't buy it. I guess they thought I was just being a surly teen and crabby about being in a hardware store. Excuse me? I love hardware....not as much as books or office supplies, but I can waste a lot of time in a hardware store (even more now that I'm a home-owner). No, this was yet another case in a string of instances in my childhood where I, the resident alien life form, was experiencing something that the locals couldn't understand and weren't going to take my word for. It was just this one store, too. I never ran into that sound anywhere else.

We also had a running battle at home over whether or not a running TV set constituted a nuisance to somebody trying to sleep twenty feet away, even with the sound turned down. It was for ME, so naturally the TV stayed on no matter how early I had to get up the next day. I wondered if I was psychotic somehow, but now it seems that I just had typically hyper-sensitive teen ears.

This astounding new application of sound technology vindicates me! At least I think it does. Sort of. Not that it really matters.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

We'll miss you, Mr. Heston!

I was away at the Renaissance Soldier School all weekend, and so didn't know of Charlton Heston's passing until I read it over the shoulder of a person on the airplane. It wasn't shocking or anything; the man has led a rich and full life and was in failing health, but still a bit of a blow. For as long as I've been alive there's been a Charlton Heston. I remember watching "The Ten Commandments" at Christmastime, "Ben Hur" at Easter time, and "Planet of the Apes" one Summer with my dad, all on TV. One year the Seattle Film Society ran "Ben Hur" on the big screen at the 4th Ave. theater, a fabulous Chinese-theme theater in Seattle, and I drove through the snow (lots of parking downtown!) to see it. Wow.

He was not afraid to speak his mind even if it made him appear reactionary, ultra-conservative, or politically incorrect to the sheeple of the entertainment industry and others. Late in his career, a cameo or walk-on performance in a film lent it instant class and weight. One of my husband's all-time favorite films is "The Omega Man", which he saw at just the right age to idolize the tough, resourceful male characters in the story. My personal favorite, which is sadly not available on DVD from Hallmark for reasons I cannot remotely guess, is their version of "Treasure Island", with Christian Bale as Jim, and Heston as Long John Silver. If you haven't seen it you're missing a treat. Music by The Chieftans, boats I'd give my right leg for, and THE best Silver ever. Sorry, Robert Newton, you're a hoot and a classic, but Heston gives us a darker, richer character and far more believable.

My favorite Heston story comes from the making of Ben Hur. Legendary stunt man Yakima Canute was helping Heston with the chariot race scene. For the wide shots and dangerous stunts, Hur was played by a Stunt man. However, there were tighter shots needed, and Heston was going to have to drive a four-abreast team to a chariot with no brakes, careering around an arena with a bunch of other hot horse teams. Needless to say, he was a bit nervous and expressed his concerns to the Stunt Coordinator. According to Heston, Canute just said, "Don't worry, Chuck. You're going to win."