Brains — Let’s face it, as a class medievalists are just plain smarter than other people. Academic medievalists can often read more dead languages than most people can read living languages. We know what happened between the fall of Rome and the discovery of the New World. We know art, philosophy, you name it. You’ll never find conversation with a medievalist dull.
Apocalypse — If civilization collapses, who would you rather be with: the National Guard, or the Society for Creative Anachronism? I’d go with the SCA, because as soon as the gasoline and ammo run out, you’ll need guys who can fletch their own arrows and pierce a zombie’s eye at 50 yards. Never again have a date go bad because of unexpected apocalypse.
Plenty of other good reasons there, too.
H/T A Commonplace Book.
I’m so doing this. My favourite:
Drink Three Fingers If:
Nick Griffin moans about how television isn’t as good as it used to be. What happened to ‘The Black & White Minstrel Show’ and ‘Love Thy Neighbour’?
He breaks into a version of ‘I Will Survive’
Down All Drinks If:
He attempts a comedy foreign accent.
Roland Emmerich (of Stargate and Independence Day fame) is doing a new movie called 2012, again about the end of the world. This guy smashes up so many little models of the White House that he’s single-handedly keeping the miniature manufactory industry in business.
I’ve been looking at the trailers, and they’re done in exactly that sort of coy style that promises a garden of visual delights but doesn’t show them in a way that is at all satisfying. There are little flashes – what looks like a giant Brazilian statue of Jesus cracking into pieces; the dome of St Peter’s toppling over; an entire city sinking into the ocean – which then cut to John Cusack looking scared, but not nearly as scared as an actual human would be when confronted with, e.g., dozens of car-sized meteors hailing down on his Winnebago.
And this is what always bugs me about Roland Emmerich films. He presents me with the idea of fascinating disasters, but either his imagination is not as good as mine or I’m one sick puppy, because my vision of said disasters is always more interesting than what he comes up with. To give one example: part of the 2012 eschatology is predicated on the idea of ‘polar shift’ – an amusing amalgamation of geomagnetic reversal (a real scientific phenomenon) and the theory that some weird celestial catalyst might tilt the earth on its axis so that the poles become equatorial and the equator becomes polar (not a real scientific phenomenon, or at least not since the Precambrian era). Apparently ‘polar shift’ will cause earthquakes, tsunamis, etc., etc., and in the 2012 previews we are treated to some frankly dull imagery of a Los Angeles motorway collapsing, some buildings falling down (hey, that doesn’t impress me, I’ve seen that in real life now about, oh, eight years ago), and aerial views of flaming buildings collapsing into giant crevasses. The closest we get to ‘wow, that’s kinda awesome’ is a scene of ocean waves cresting over the Himalayas and exploding the obligatory Tibetan monastery.
What Emmerich doesn’t seem to get is that pictures of disasters aren’t that compelling unless they really show the scale of the thing. Polar shift? Forget Los Angeles, which isn’t very pristine even on its best days. Show us the whole earth, twisting around like a mad tennis ball in mid-space, oceans sloshing, volcanoes erupting. St Peter’s collapsing? Forget hairline cracks in the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel (which isn’t, by the way, in St Peter’s). The dome of St Peter’s is absolutely enormous – why not show it rolling down the hill and squashing Ostia? The trailers also show more than a few shots of wildly escaping airplanes slicing off the pinnacles of various buildings with the tips of their wings. I think we all know that when a fibreglass wingtip runs into the Washington Monument, it’s not the monument that’s going to crash and burn.
The rest of the film looks pretty predictable – professionally unsuccessful main character trying to save his children and ex-wife (why is it always an ex-wife in this guy’s movies, by the way? I know 50% of marriages end in divorce in the US, but the whole ‘I’m sorry I’m a nerd, I still love you’ routine was already lame when Jeff Goldblum’s cable guy/computer genius did it in ID4). The noble president struggling against the inhumane advice of his slimy advisers. Humanity uniting in a small space (in this film, Noah’s Ark aircraft carriers). No doubt there will be a heart-wrenching and self-sacrificial fatality. Perhaps even a lovable pet (‘Boomer!’). I’m sure at the end the characters will emerge into the wreckage to start building their new world, because it’s altogether too much to hope for that the film will conclude with everyone dying slowly of starvation in the clusterfuck that is (a) global farmland now covered in salt water and (b) suburban Californians with no agricultural skills.
The reason I started writing about this film, however, is entirely unrelated to the eye-tease visuals or mechanical plot. It was this teaser-trailer, which made me laugh out loud. YouTube won’t let me embed it, so here’s a description:
An elderly Tibetan monk is running up a mountain, sandals flapping, red robes, twisting in the breeze. He finally reaches the tiny temple at the summit where, huffing and puffing, he enters and sees another monk ringing a bell. Interspersed with these scenes are black screens bearing the words ‘How would the governments of our planet prepare six billion people for the end of the world?’ in stark capitals.
Creepy marimba music, oddly in time with the winded monks’ bell-ringing, plays in the background. Cut to distant view of snow-capped Himalayas. What’s that behind the mountains? More mountains? No, it’s water! Some of it begins to pour down the snowy slopes. The temple, in this aerial view, looks very tiny and vulnerable. Inside it, the monks can see the water bearing down on them, but they keep on ringin’ that bell. They don’t look particularly concerned, and are still ringing when the water engulfs the temple, breaking it into tiny pieces. In the aerial shot, you can’t even see the distant mountaintops any more – they are entirely underwater now.
Black screen again: ‘They wouldn’t.’
Then: ‘2012. Find out the truth. Google search: 2012.’
By the time we’d got to ‘They wouldn’t,’ I’d forgotten who they were and what it was they wouldn’t do. Oh yeah, they were the government, and they wouldn’t prepare us for the end of the world. I’m not sure whether Emmerich is implying that governments are untrustworthy bastards and we’d be better off preparing ourselves, or if he was snarking on them for not looking after our sorry asses. Either way, I laughed, because we all know there’s sweet fuck-all the government can do when all of Washington has been crushed under the rolling hull of the aircraft carrier USS John F Kennedy and bits of the Kremlin have washed up on Mt Everest.
In the last two days, I have been led to believe, by the search terms that lead people to this blog, that the hardest word in the English language to spell is ‘Australian.’ Here are a few of the variations since yesterday:
Oddly enough, these orthographically-challenged Googlers all seem to be searching for websites that feature Australian women having sex.
Except for the one visitor who spelled Australian correctly, whose entire search term was perfectly capitalised, punctuated, and somehow managed to convey the author’s sense of incredulousness: “Do Australians really fuck sheep?”
Occasionally, a confluence of events in pop culture seems so elegant, so mathematically perfect, that my heart cannot help but swell in gleeful appreciation.
The appeal was easy to see: If you can’t whittle a toy horse, knit a blanket, write a poem or play an instrument, at least you might be able to destroy some amount of the free time possessed by the people that can. If the productive members of society who are usually out there creating something–no matter how small or trivial–instead used their time yelling at you for slights that you put absolutely no effort into, then they were also not producing. And if they were not producing, and you were not producing, then voila! You’re suddenly just as valuable to society as they are! Instead of simply being “lesser than” the average person, now you’re finally “lesser than or equal to“! You’re no better, but at least they’re a little worse! And thus trolling was born. It was easy, it provided a largely illusory benefit (but a benefit nonetheless) and best of all – you’re ruining something! They always say, “It’s easier to destroy than it is to create,” and while most people saying that intend it to be a bad thing, you, the troll, see it as a benefit.
They’re totally right! It is easier, isn’t it? Aren’t easier things better?
It’s like you practically have no choice but to type “meh” or “fag” or better yet (and I’m only giving this to you because I love you) you could combine the two.
You could type “mehfag.”
A pack of dogs, a pride of lions, a murder of crows, a parliament of owls…
And now, via Samizdata: a stupidity of voters.
Someone arrived at this blog by searching “nice true sex photos only”.
(a) Why would anyone search for that?
(b) How in the world did this blog come up in the results?
(c) Given that it did, it must have been pretty far down the list – what sort of person patiently sorts through innumerable search results and then clicks on something so unlikely as this blog?