January pinecone opportunity
Sunday, January 17 2010
The other night after Avatar, my unnamed friends and I (they have to be unnamed because, oh my God, there was marijuana involved and they're not 20-somethings, so they have responsibilities) were talking about movies where the humans were the bad guys and the aliens were the good guys. I couldn't think of any other such movie except District 9 (which I'd not yet seen), but one of my friends was insisting there are a bunch. We eventually agreed that even if there are a lot of such movies, it's a fairly recent trend.
The mention of District 9 sent me looking to download it. I wondered if perhaps it had been made to recently to be easily found, but no, it had been released on DVD and the Bittorrent swarms were huge, ensuring rapid download of a good copy. (By contrast, the copy of Avatar I'd downloaded the other day had been a shoddy copy made by someone with a camera in a German movie theatre, as the DVD has not yet been released.)
District 9 is a very different sort of SciFi movie from Avatar, partly in that it takes itself considerably less seriously. We're presented with an alien encounter in the form of an enormous floating space ship full of the downtrodden dregs of some other planet's society. It's conventional to think of aliens as warlike, hyperintelligent, or at least hyperevolved. These aliens were none of those things. It's an interesting premise, but from there the movie sort of turns into that 1986 remake of The Fly. Peter Jackson was one of the film's producers, and you can tell he was having some fun reliving the gross-out possibilities of his early movie Bad Taste (which also featured incompetent rank-and-file aliens and a singular intelligent master alien). Bad Taste had been made for something like $25,000 using friends as actors and makeshift rubber outfits. Though District 9 is also low budget, it still had cost $30 million to produce (and all the aliens are CGI, but of the stiff pre-Avatar kind). Part of what made District 9 such a gross-out movie wasn't just the high-tech weapons that turned people into pink clouds of diffuse chunks or the nasty systems aliens deployed to provided for their preborn young, it was also the squalor of the run-down slum where the aliens lived. (The space ship had conveniently chosen Johannesburg as its point of first contact, so the aliens were settled in what looked like the grimmest part of Soweto.
The new woodstove is a little harder to start in the morning than the old stove had been. Often, though, I don't actually need to start it because it's still warm with live coals from the night before. When I do have to start it, though, it's good to have real kindling, not just the cardboard and grocery flyers that were sufficient for starting the old stove. There has been enough attrition of the snow cover to expose pine cones that have fallen to the ground, particularly along the north shoulder of Dug Hill Road (where I collected a five gallon bucket of cones yesterday). Pine cones are full of pitch and burn very energetically. I also like bone-dry skeletonized White Pine trunks (which act as kindling even when they are six inches thick), and I collected a couple of those today, along with some small-diameter White Ash that was similarly dry.
By this evening clouds had rolled in and snow had begun to fall, though it never accumulated more than an inch or so. By late evening the snow had turned to rain. But temperatures were in the mid-30s, so the snow soaked it up like a sponge instead of being washed away.
Gretchen's birthday is the 19th, so today I painted her a life-size painting of Marie, her favorite cat. Marie is mostly referred to as "the Baby."
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