Walking with Dinosaurs
Sunday, April 16 2000
I spent most of the day earning my rent, so to speak, doing web development work for Evan in exchange for being allowed to stay with Kim in his apartment.
In the evening, we were all super hungry, so Kim and I drove down to ever-funky downtown Venice to buy an extra-large pie at the Paesano Pizza Parlor. Paesano's was experiencing unusually brisk business, with a full dining room and a desperately understaffed kitchen. Complicating matters, the main pizza chef was in the process of training a fresh new hire whose mastery of English was incomplete at best.
The urine-perfumed streets of Venice were alive with the unintelligible voices of numerous young foreigners, especially small groups of tall Germans dressed in the sort of slightly unfashionable clothes that would be considered cool if self-consciously worn for that purpose.
In the evening Kim and I found ourselves watching a show called Walking With Dinosaurs, a new crash history course on the creatures that ruled the world so long ago. It's done from an unusual perspective, that of the nature photographer focusing on the small dramas of individual creatures doing their best in their part of prehistory. This perspective is made possible by the latest in computer animation technology, with computer-generated sauropods moving across real earthly landscapes, ones chosen for their similarity to those that existed before flowering plants, powerlines, strip malls and cows. This wasn't your usual watered-down television programming either; we got to see the dinosaurs taking shits, having brief episodes of intercourse, and laying eggs with multi-yard ovipositors. The dinosaurs were portrayed with an unusual amount of human sympathy, as if perhaps we Mammals really did snatch this world from them 65 million years ago. I was fascinated. This was a much better telling of the dinosaur story than I remember from my childhood, when we were left to imagine the movement of dinosaurs in our heads:
A long time ago there were these creatures.
They were a lot bigger than any creatures that live today.
They ate each other if they didn't eat plants.
They mysteriously died out 65,000,000 years before you were born.
Back in the day, that was enough to excite any eight-year-old boy. But now, with this series, imagination isn't even required; it's all presented like some sort of journalistically-documented biological fact. What I find especially amusing is the notion that some day we'll all be watching this series and looking for the glitches and artifacts of our period, when we didn't quite have it figured out how large animals move in space. Thirty years from now the spasms of puppet-like physics-defying jerkiness will be emblematic of our primitive age. On our screens (or perhaps even in our books) simulated dinosaurs will move with the fluidness of any animal alive today. At that point our world will forever transcend the quaintness that still envelopes us.
A utility pole, skyline and assorted palms of Mar Vista, looking west towards the Pacific.
Sophie on Evan and Corynna's balcony, among a variety of plants.
Kim with Corynna's angel wings.
Me on Evan and Corynna's balcony.
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