I Got Yer Dark Ages Right Here
Back in 1989, when hurricane Hugo came through our fair city, I just happened to have a pot of chili in the fridge. For the next three days, cold chili was basically my diet, since there was no power and, being a college student, I didn't have anything else on hand. You might have thought that experience would have poisoned me on chili for the rest of my life, but no. A week later, after power was restored, the first thing I did was make a fresh pot of chili, and the following day lunch was the then ubiquitous chili cheese grilled sandwich. Far above being the best thing I ate that week-- my pal Dog Nagel staked me to a meal at the first joint we found open, which was Sonny's Barbeque, which sucks-- it was absolutely revelatory. It's not just food. It is love.
This was the result of, let us say one of the by-products of, the Wifey's coice to attend Dragon Con this year, and a damned good thing too. I think we had both heard bits and pieces about it over the last year, and I seem to think that the History channel screened it at some point, but getting it on DVD and sitting down and just chewing though the damned thing was the best way to do it. Even at that, there was a HELL of a lot of shorthand involved. James Marsters, who played Buzz Aldren-- oops! More shorthand required: this is a biopic detailing the Apollo 11 mission. So Marsters did a preso at the D*C and dished quite a bit of background, which the Wifey parsed out as we watched, and then I, with my own extensive knowledge of the moon landing, kicked in what I knew on background, and back and forth through the whole thing, to the point where we came to the conclusion that you might not have any real shot at enjoying this if you didn't have significant background to deal from. Whether that's true or not, eeeehhhhh, dunno. We managed to enjoy it, anyways, so that's enough for us.
This, on the other hand . . . We watched an unfinished version of it on a draft DVD about six months ago, with disjointed subtitles and about half the English commentary of the finished version, but I knew enough about the era of F1 involved and the driver himself-- Woops! This is a doc on the life and death of Ayreton Senna, possibly, no, probably, no, certainly the best Formula 1 race car driver of all time-- that we managed to digest and enjoy it with little effort. My Dad and I then went to watch the finished version, in it's limited release, at one of the local part-time art film theaters a week and a half ago. I enjoyed the hell out of it-- better subtitles, more racing footage than there had been in the scratch cut, more English speaking talking heads, and a lot more footage of Senna himself-- but my Dad seemed to think he would have enjoyed it more had there been mor subtext and explanation. And he's right. It'd be good to know that the first four seasons Senna competed in were not held solely at Susuka in Japan, just that that's where the final race of those seasons took place, so that's where the driver's championship was usually decided. Etcetera. I was going to keep going, but, honestly, it's F1. I find it largely the case that, on this subject, you either already know or just don't care.
This. Um. Well! This . . . This I tuned into periodically while I watched Tony Bourdain's show about Dubai, which is wack, and almost got sucked in several times. Ray Wolstone as an ethics professor! Tony Perkins as a star basketball player! Hanoi Jane as an embryo! And say what you will about her politics, she was, back in the day, and continues to be, and incredible piece of pulchritude. (And honestly, her politics don't bother me that much, largely because she really doesn't seem to have much in the way of politics, frankly.) But I just couldn't stick it out, in any way whatsoever, because it was just too ridiculous. Pop psychology and a bullet primer on the philosophical groundings of ethics drive a plot about a failing scholor who happens to be a hot shot on the court being offered a bribe to throw the big game against-- get this-- the Sputniks. I didn't stick around long enough to find out if they were supposed to be Russian or not. But I was there for the big punch line, wherein the hero is told to tell the ethics prof all he knew about Socrates. ("Socrates was a Greek. And they poisoned him.") Wherafter the Dean (or something) declares he passed the quiz because that's literally all he knew about Socrates. Now eat your spinach!