Wednesday, July 05, 2006

A Few Thoughts on Thunderlips and the Proper Spelling of Isiah

A few tidbits, none of which seems to be worthy of their own entry at this point...

1. In my last entry I repeatedly spelled "Isiah" wrong while referring to the doomed coach/ex-GM of the New York Knicks. Well, either I spelled "Isiah" wrong, or he has been spelling it wrong his entire life. Let me check...

Yep, I'm right. It's spelled "Isaiah" in the Old Testament. Maybe that's the Knicks' problem: never hire a GM that can't spell his own name.

2. Speaking of Is--OK, now I'm just going to call him Zeke--Mr. Knick himself is prominently featured in a documentary I rented over the weekend. "Hoop Dreams" is a flick from back in 1994 that follows the exploits of two kids from inner-city Chicago as they aspire to basketball greatness. I remember it being a good movie from when I first saw it, but that was before I myself served a mission in Chicago. Now it's a great movie. I sincerely can't think of a film that more accurately portrays the look and feel of my mission. The "Barbershop" movies do bring back a lot of memories, but they're still Hollywood stories; "Hoop Dreams", especially during the scenes in the boy's homes, is stark unapologetic reality.

3. Still on basketball...Good news for the Jazz: Matt Harpring is going to re-sign. May be the toughest guy on the team right now, and toughness is an intangible I don't think we can afford to lose. I don't care if he can't put up 30 points a night, in my mind, Harpring is the ultimate embodiment of those workhorse guys Jerry Sloan used to keep on the team year after year, with the difference being that Harpring brings starter quality play. Glad to hear you're coming back, Matt.

4. Bought the first local cherries of the season yesterday up in Fruit Heights. In a couple of weeks, we'll have decent corn, then peaches, then tomatoes. My pale complexion may hate the summer months, but my stomach loves them.

5. My "devolution" back to my mission days continues. In the last several months, I've gone back to eating Del Taco, watching "X-Files" episodes, and now I've picked up my first mountain bike in ten years. I haven't had a bike of my own since I sold "Thunderlips" to the Illinois Chicago Mission back in November of 1997. The original "Thunderlips" was a blue Trek 820 (though you couldn't tell it was blue due to the traditional "tube and tape" job we did on our bikes out in the field). Now, "Thunderlips II" is a blue Trek 920 with front suspension (and as of yesterday, a traditional "tube and tape" job). It's all coming full circle now. If I take up listening to Pink Floyd's "Piper at the Gates of Dawn" album again, I'll really start getting worried.

6. Saw "Superman Returns" on Saturday night after a fine meal at Red Iguana with a group of old friends, one of which was a former roommate in town from Washington. Reviews were so-so, but I actually enjoyed the film quite a bit. It went a little long, dragging to extend several points that labored things a bit, but overall I still liked it. The tone was set well from the beginning with all of the allusions--aurally and through the opening title style--to the original 1978 film, even going so far as to use some of Marlon Brando's old sound bites. (I wonder if they had to pay his estate to use them--his high price tag to appear in the first ten minutes of the original film is pretty legendary).

Two points on the movie:

A. I thought Kevin Spacey did a great job, but it only affirmed how big a fan I am of the Gene Hackman version of Lex Luthor. Spacey was much more of an "evil" character, but it was easier to identify with Gene. Hackman played Luthor like a smart person who had just gotten too sick of being surrounded by the less-brilliant layperson all the time. He reminded me of myself on the road every morning. "What are you THINKING? GET OUT OF THE FAST LANE!" The only difference is that while my frustration only leads to me yelling through my windshield, Hackman's Luthor opts to destroy millions of the people themselves by detonating nuclear missiles and such.

B. Favorite moment of the movie, also the quietest: On his way to "stalk" Lois at her coastal love nest with Cyclops, there is a five-second shot of a quiet city street in the early evening. There is no soundtrack music playing, just the sound of the wind whipping through Superman's cape as he flys by overhead, a quick shadow against the dimming sky. It occurred to me that if any of this story were to take place in reality, that's how it would come off. No fanfare, no dramatic entrance or explosion, just a quick whiff through the air and a, "hey, was that Superman?"

Yeah, so overall, I'd say thumbs-up on the movie. The best part, though, may have been the surprise "Spiderman III" preview in front of the movie. The black Spidey-suit looks pretty bad.