Saturday, September 29, 2007, posted by Q6 at 2:18 PM
This Blog Entry may contain SPOILERS!
Spoilers are in Inviso-Text for your Protection
By now I'm sure everyone's heard about the title for the new "Indiana Jones" movie. I've been following the hype and hoopla on the web for a while, and I'm not quite sure how to react (which may be Lucas and Spielberg's plan, for all I know). I probably haven't kept up on everything that's floating around out there, but what I know is enough to have--with only a few concerns--some hope.

Film companies will register their titles with the Motion Picture Association of America before going public. It's a copyright-type thing, to be sure, but it's also where the information-gatherers collect their treasure. Here are the titles, each with a bit of commentary:

Indiana Jones and the City of Gods: Clearly the favorite among those on the Internet, this title suggested two things that everyone embraced. It suggested an approach involving the Ancient Greeks (something we hadn't seen in an Indy film yet, and should). Second, there are those that believed that this title signaled the return of the Ark of the Covenant, and that Indy & friends would use it to communicate with the heavens. There have been other allusions to the Ark's return, but more on that later.

Indiana Jones and the Destroyer of Worlds: I liked this one because it had that "Indy has to pull this off or the whole world gets sucked into hell" feel to it. It also played into the rumors that John Hurt had joined the cast to play Albert Einstein. Since Oppenheimer allegedly used the "Destroyer of Worlds" quote from Bhagavad Gita, and since the A-bomb fits nicely into the Indy timeline, it would have been cool to have Indy play a role in that somehow. There were also rumors that John Hurt would not be playing Einstein, but Abner Ravenwood--not quite as dead as we were lead to believe. Other casting backs that up, but more on that later.

Indiana Jones and the Fourth Corner of the Earth: This title only goes to prove two things: that some of these titles were meant just to pad the list, and that sometimes the people over at Spielberg's office drink. Heavily. There's no way this was a legit title.

Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull: This title has several problems. First, it suggests voodoo-like content, which was the downfall of Temple of Doom. Second, it screams "He-Man," which is all anyone can think about when they hear it. Third, it's a loooong title, which is never good news. Finally, it sounds like they're reaching, moving away from the typical storylines and trying to reinvent the franchise for what would presumably be its swan-song. Four problems, no upside--so naturally, that's the one they chose.

Indiana Jones and the Lost City of Gold: Featuring the return of Allan Quatermain? Is Richard Chamberlain coming back to the big screen? I know that Spielberg and Lucas created the Indy franchise as an homage to the serial cliffhangers of early film, but come on . . .

Indiana Jones and the Quest for the Covenant: Oooo. "Quest" suggests that we're going on an adventure. Nice. "Covenant" fuels the full-circle rumors that we're gonna dig the Ark out of an Army warehouse and save the world with it. It would be a nice closure tactic, to be sure, and would explain why Karen Allen has joined the cast, reprising her role as Marion Ravenwood (no need to Inviso-text that one--it's everywhere). Marion's return, however, has to do with Shia LeBeouf 's casting as Indiana Jones' son. He's gotta have a mom, right? So that explains away the "Ark" theory--OR DOES IT?

Here's what we know at this point: John Hurt's doing a great job of saying nothing to everyone. He could be Albert Einstein, he could be Abner Ravenwood. The basic storyline is this: in the opening sequence, Indy obtains an object, then loses it. The Russians want it, too (this is 1957, so no more Nazis), and they kidnap Marion Ravenwood (Karen Allen) to get Indy to help. This Crystal-skull thing is the object. The opening sequence is supposed to exceed everyone's expectations and standards.

Here's what we just learned that's super-cool: They're building, on a Downey soundstage, a set of the Army warehouse where the Ark of the Covenant is stored. We may be going back for the thing after all. And if you take a look at the teaser poster, you'll see further evidence of this.

Even though we're looking at an excellent script, and excellent cast, and three previous blockbusters, I'm still disappointed in the title. The first, or the last, in the above list would have sounded more like and Indiana Jones movie. So while I'm excited to see this film--the first trailer is due out Thanksgiving of 2007--I'm referring to it by a different title when I discuss it with family and friends:

Wednesday, September 26, 2007, posted by Q6 at 10:35 PM
There was a parent in the office the other day talking to the principal at my school, complaining about all kinds of things. I only sat in the meeting for the part that concerned me, and as I left the discussion turned to food services. Apparently, the cafeteria was running out of food before it ran out of customers. (This is the beginning of the school year. That kind of thing happens.) Of course, I later learned that there was food left, just nothing her daughter wanted. What's the easy solution to this problem?

That's right: a brown paper bag filled with good stuff from home.

I ended up having an entire conversation with this parent in my head as I returned to my office . . .

-----"Maybe your daughter should bring her lunch. My son still brings his lunch to school four days a week. I've been making his lunch for years now."
-----"Wait," she stops me, "your son is a sophomore and you make his lunch?"
-----"Of course," I reply.
-----She looks at me as if my IQ has a decimal point in front of it. "Why can't he make is own lunch?"
-----"Well, he can, of course," I respond, clearly surprised that she doesn't get it, "but I like to do things for my kids to show that I love them. It's not just expensive birthday presents and trips to Disneyland that gets their attention; sometimes the little things mean just as much. Sometimes more." The look (I imagined) on her face demonstrated that I was still parentally talking over her head. "I don't make his lunch every day because I have to, I do it because I want to. I like to show him--not just tell him, but show him--that taking care of his needs is important to me. Sure, he could make his own lunch by himself and do other things, too. He could be completely self-sufficient, and there are times that I let him. There are other times, however, when I get to be the Dad and gets to be my son. Sometimes he'll stand there with me and we'll talk while I make his lunch."
-----She blinks at me in a lost, but still imaginary (remember, this isn't real; I'm back in my own office by now) way.
-----"If he becomes completely self-sufficient, what place is there for me in his day? Why should I have to invent occasions to do things for him, or wait until a birthday or holiday? He's my son--it's my job to care about him and do things for him. I'll do things--sometimes big things, but sometimes little things, too--until I can't do them anymore.
-----"It's the difference, you see, between being a parent and just having kids."

I actually can't wait until the day I get to have this conversation for real.

* I do things for my daughter, too; since she lives with her mom, however, the "things" are different: e-mails about TV shows we watch, special bike rides together when she's visiting, making sure I'm at the airport on time to pick her up and making sure I have the time to take her all the way to the gate--and wait for boarding time--when she leaves. Even when they get older, my time is still the gift I enjoy giving the most, because I get to enjoy the gift with them.
Wednesday, September 12, 2007, posted by Q6 at 8:03 AM
Growing up in my family was only difficult at the time.

My brother and I are two years apart in age, which means very little in our mid-to-late thirties. Back in junior high and high school, however, it was a different story. We were growing up much the same way most brothers do, with times of true comraderie and other times of get-the-hell-away-from-me. There are things I sometimes look back upon and regret: there are things I remember saying that I'm sure he doesn't even remember, yet they occasionally haunt me. There are other times that I truly cherish, and look back upon fondly. This is one:

Not long after our father passed away--this must have been when I was sixteen or seventeen and he was fifteen or so--our mother took a little trip with some friends to Las Vegas. By this time my brother and I had ceased hostilities--Mom clearly needed none of that--but there were still some tense moments brought on by growing pains. I had become accustomed to having a younger brother, and we were at the point where I was known in some circles as HIS older brother. There was no fighting over this, for it was what it was. But we had become closer through the experience of our father's death, and it could be measured, oddly enough, with a pair of dice.

Mom brought home little souvenirs for us from every little trip, and upon her return we were each presented with a pair of dice with our names on them. Each of us held two dice; without saying a word, with only a short glance, we agreed to swap one of each. He had two dice, each with one of our names on them, and I had the same. What meant so much to me is that we made this exchange without ever talking about it, before OR after. In fact, I think this is the first time I've made mention of it since it happened (more than twenty years ago). It meant a great deal to me that he and I could share that kind of moment.

And it still does. Happy Birthday, Bro.
Tuesday, September 11, 2007, posted by Q6 at 8:29 PM
My dentist appointment tomorrow isn't something to fear--I'm actually looking forward to it. But it was not always so.

A couple years back I started going to the dentist again after what I liked to think of as twelve years off. I hadn't been since early college, and although I experienced low-grade pain very infrequently, I brushed (at least) twice daily and everything seemed to stay where it was supposed to. In truth, I feared the pain as well as the ignominy of someone crawling around in my mouth; later on, I feared the lectures and disappointment from those licensed to crawl around in my mouth. (The same vanity made me two years late for my first prostate exam, but that's a story for another time.) One solitary Frito® later, one of my rear molars shattered into pieces so small that I must have swallowed them. With nothing but a stump left back there, and experiencing a new definition of pain with each intake of breath, I visited a friend's dentist and allowed my insurance to cover a conversation that ended with the words "root canal." (I know how my mom used to describe root canal, but times must have changed--this procedure fixed the problem, and the pain never came. I wonder if she lied about the valley-of-death experience of my birth as well?)

Tomorrow's appointment was supposed to be for a cleaning; instead, it will be to correct whatever is making my lower left jaw feel like it's about to split in two. (I would like to thank the kind people at Tylenolâ„¢ for their assistance these last two days . . . )
, posted by Q6 at 8:20 PM
Over yonder on my professional blog, I recently posted about the pranks high school students play, the way they should be done, and the sorry attempts some students make. Needless to say, I've been unimpressed for years.

Two of the only reasons I like David Letterman are his Top Ten lists and the "just-for-grins" types of pranks he plays on the streets of New York. Though I'm not one for long YouTube clips, this one (about eight minutes) was totally worth it:

It's the kind of thing that makes me think, "Why can't kids these days be this creative?" And the answer, of course, is that they think it's all about them, not about the prank. There's no room for narcissism in a good prank.