I watched a funny film last night, "The Ghost and the Darkness" (1996), about two man-eating lions terrorizing a railway bridge construction site. In terms of plot and action it was very much like a sort of "Jaws Goes to Africa." By the movie's end I think the lions accounted for half a million deaths. It was much like the Transformers movie, except instead of explosion after explosion you get chewed-upon natives. And the lions in question are unnaturally clever; it's almost like The Far Side's Gary Larson wrote the script.
In one scene, the crafty lions fool the two Great White Hunters (Val Kilmer and Michael Douglas) who hatch a plan for their capture. After cleverly drawing some fire, the lions double back and attack the hospital instead, chewing up untold numbers of patients, leaping upon the tent poles and collapsing the tents, scattering the paperwork, urinating on the rifles, and, probably, upturning the ashtrays. Terrible!
Roger Ebert thought this film was ridiculous (and gave it half a star) - which it was - but he didn't think it was funny. I beg to differ - I thought it was hilarious. There's a scene towards the end where the bridge engineer's pretty little wife comes to visit, holding their new baby, both dressed in spotlessly white garb. She's standing at the depot, all smiles and excitement, waving happily to the husband, "Hi honey! I missed you so much! Look at your new child!" while Kilmer is running, doing one of those slow motion Noooooooo! things. Just then an enormous vengeful lion leaps out of the tall grass and does a rugby tackle on the wife and child, her legs flopping skyward. To quote Oscar Wilde, it would take a heart of stone not to laugh at it.
It's one of those all too familiar Hollywood productions where you can tell what's going to happen in the plot by simply looking at your watch. It's a 109 minute production. For instance, if the movie looks like it's ended at the 90 minute mark, you know you have a false ending.
Needless to say, this movie is based on a true story. ("Only the most incredible parts are true!" Yeah, right.) Also needless to say, Hollywood went way, way overboard with exaggerations. I plan to read the 1919 book account by the bridge engineer as soon as I can figure out how to turn the website into a .pdf so I can view it on the Sony electronic reader which came my way via my son.
I don't care what kind of heat wave the forecasters are calling for, it's clear to me that summer's back is broken. We were at the pool last night; it was an entirely different feel from June and July. Here we are on the last day of August... September is traditionally a bad vibe month for me due, I suppose, to it being the back-to-school month. (Despite the fact that I haven't gone back to a school in September - college - for 27 years.) It's also the "If you haven't gone on vacation by now it's too late" month, which is a traditional bummer. But... September is also the gateway to October and autumn, my favorite season.
That's the nice thing about Northern Virginia, the weather suits people like me who are constantly looking for variety and entertainment. As soon as you get tired of one season, the next is on its way. And unlike Southern California, which has but two seasons (a short wet and cool one and a long warm and then hot one), there are four distinct seasons here, each with their own moods, activities and rites.
I plan to start working on my Garage Improvement Project in fall, when the weather cools and I can stand being in the room. (The attic isn't insulated, which means that the garage gets dreadfully hot in the summer.) I started this in June, but then gave way as the interior temperature reached the high 90's on a daily basis. The idea is to change it from a cluttered, messy storage space to a sleek room for my handsome cars. I want to put everything, or as much as possible, behind closet or cabinet doors and to organize my tools better. This will involve patching all the holes in the drywall, painting the same a shade of gray - the cabinets will be in a darker shade of gray - and put up the correct German industrial VW signage.
Of course, another garage improvement will be getting rid of our now-despised 2002 Dodge minivan (which made perfect sense when we had three kids) and replacing it with the appropriate SUV. I'm all for a passenger car, but my wife likes the upright, commanding seating position in a smaller SUV. So we'll get one of those. But that won't happen for some months now. The safety inspection comes up next month on the minivan and we need new tires to pass it. As long as we're putting new tires on the minivan, we might as well keep it long enough to pay off the other car and get some use out of the tires. As loathsome as that minivan now seems to us, it has one undeniable virtue: it's been paid off for years.
I am now reading "How do you go to the Bathroom in Space?" by William R. Pogue, Astronaut. It's in a question and answer format. I like his description of the effects of traveling through bands of radiation in space. Now you know. If you close your eyes and see light trails and bomb flashes, you're being irradiated.
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