Are You Real?

Ana de Armas and Ryan Gosling in Blade Runner 2049

I am not used to saying nice things about sequels and remakes. The original Blade Runner (1982) was directed by Ridley Scott. In this sequel done thirty-five years later, Ridley Scott is listed as an Executive Producer. Could that be the reason that this sequel fits perfectly with the older film, and even shares several characters, most notably Harrison Ford as Rick Deckard.

If you are interested in seeing this film, I recommend that you not only see the original 1982 film, but read Philip K. Dick’s Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? Even though I have done both, I plan to re-read the Dick novel and see the Ridley Scott original within the next week or so.

Poster for the New Blade Runner 2049

What I love about this film is the philosophical question, “Is it real or is it a replicant?” (Replicants are robots, and a Blade Runner is a policeman who “retires” certain kinds of replicants who may be troublesome by assassinating them.) For most of the film, I kept asking myself whether Gosling as “K” is himself a replicant, as he seems to have some superhuman powers in a fight. The question is finally answered at the end, but I won’t spoil the ending for you.

Speaking as a Hungarian, I was pleasantly surprised to see that the film was shot in Hungary and that most of the crew and some of the cast were my fellow countrymen. This was the second film I saw this year that was shot in Hungary, and I’ve only seen a handful of new films. I wonder how much of a tendency this is getting to be.

There are images in this film that will stick with me, such as the ruins of Las Vegas and San Diego, the lovely female replicants who are available for monkey business (see illustration below), and the impassive face of Ryan Gosling.

Highly recommended!

A Projection of a Highly Available Replicant Tries to Persuade K

Bolivia’s Death Road

Map of Bolivia’s Death Road Connecting La Paz with Coroico

I have always wanted to go to Bolivia. I was close to it in 2014, but I got sick in Puno, near the border, and decided to head on to Cuzco directly instead.The two things I am most interested in seeing in Bolivia are the Salar de Uyuni—giant salt flats in the southwest of the country—and the so-called World’s Most Dangerous Road, connecting La Cumbre (near La Paz) at 4,670 meters, or 15,260 feet, all the way down to Coroico in the Yungas Valley rain forest at 1,525 meters, or 5,003 feet. That’s a drop of almost two miles.

The “Death Road” portion, shown as a red dash line in the map above, is largely a single lane unpaved highway subject to frequent landslides. Vehicles traveling uphill have the right of way, which means that downhill vehicles must sidle within inches of a drop of potentially thousands of feet. During rainy season from November to March, rain and fog could be deadly. In the dry season, the problem is rock slides and dust. The highway is dotted with frequent crosses where vehicles have gone over the side, killing 200-300 travelers a year.

Passing on the Death Road

Now there is a paved road to Coroico that is much safer. The only problem is that the new road is frequently closed because of landslides. Today, the Death Road is mostly used by cyclists going downhill. Even then, eighteen have plunged to their deaths since 1998.

Eighteen-Wheeler on the Edge

Needless to say, I think that having any alcohol before venturing on this road is tantamount to suicide.

Why do I want to see the road? The key word here is “see.” There is no way I would drive the road. I wouldn’t mind just going to a good vantage point and then turning around. I’m not altogether sure I would even trust another driver to conduct me down this road. Besides, I’m not all that interested in going to Coroico. Rain forests mean mosquitoes, and that would scare me even more.

Of Billionaires and Fashion Models

Orazio Gentileschi (Italian, 1563 – 1639)
Danaë and the Shower of Gold, 1621 to 1623, Oil on canvas
161.5 × 227.1 cm (63 9/16 × 89 7/16 in.)
The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles

You may have heard about how Zeus would fall in love with mortal women and transform himself into various disguises to have his way with them. In all, there were approximately twenty, ranging from Alcmene to Thyia. The one I found most interesting was Danaë, daughter and onlyc hild of the King of Argos, Acrisius. The story is as follows, according to Wikipedia:

Disappointed by his lack of male heirs, King Acrisius asked the oracle of Delphi if this would change. The oracle announced to him that he would never have a son, but his daughter would, and that he would be killed by his daughter’s son. At the time, Danae was childless and, meaning to keep her so, King Acrisius shut her up in a bronze chamber to be constructed under the court of his palace (other versions say she was imprisoned in a tall brass tower with a single richly adorned chamber, but with no doors or windows, just a sky-light as the source of light and air). She was buried in this tomb, never to see the light again. However, Zeus, the king of the gods, desired her, and came to her in the form of golden rain which streamed in through the roof of the subterranean chamber and down into her womb. Soon after, their child Perseus was born.

But then, isn’t that the way that all ugly billionaires woo fashion models (including our current President)?

The painting by Orazio Gentileschi is a recent acquisition of the Getty Center which I saw a couple of weeks ago. I like the way that the gold is shown as a shower of gold coins, which appears to be quite acceptable to the young lady.

Frisbeetarianism

When Your Beliefs Are Not Open to Change

George Carlin defines Frisbeetarianism as the belief that, when you die, your soul goes up on the roof and gets stuck there. But there is a version of Frisbeetarianism that affects us while we are still alive. All too many of us treat our values as fixed in place, impervious to all attempts to change them. Are facts contrary to your values? Well, then, adhere to “alternative facts,” or, as I call them, lies.

I remember years ago going to a coffee shop in Cambria, California, for lunch. At the next table were a couple of ranchers discussing how Rush Limbaugh was such a God-fearing man. Did these ranchers care to know that their beloved Rushbo goes to the Dominican Republic loaded with Viagra to have his way with loose women? Or that he has had problems of addiction to Oxycontin, the so-called “Hillbilly Heroin” that is an opioid? And that’s only the beginning.

These men would be offended if I brought up any of these points. Why? Because they conflict with their beliefs and values.

We all have beliefs that affect our behavior. That’s why I get my news from CNN and NBC rather than Breitbart. Oh, occasionally I look at Breitbart.Com, though it fails to move me in any positive way. But I have changed my political affiliation lately to Independent, because the last several elections have soured me on the Democrats, thus changing voting behavior that goes back to the election of 1968. I also look warily at Progressives of the “Brie and Chablis” variety that populate West Los Angeles.

The point is that my beliefs are still in flux. What used to be a wide paved road has become for me a pitted dirt path that can lead me into making horrendous and immoral decisions. I consider myself a person who is still evolving.

And by no means do I wish to sail onto the roof and get stuck there.

A Master of Onomatopoeia

His Were the Best

There was a time when I could not in good conscience miss an issue of MAD Magazine. I loved all of it—and the darn thing of it, it was all good clean fun. There was considerable nudity in The National Lampoon, but not in MAD. There were a lot of things in MAD that I loved, and Don Martin was near the very top.  The following is from a dictionary of his sound effects compiled by Doug Guilford:

AHHHHHHHHHH – Frankenstein inhaling.
ARGLE GLARGLE GLORGLE GLUK – Princess using mouthwash.
AWK GAK ARGH GASP – Patient choking.
BBFRPRAFPGHPP – Doctor farting.
BLIB BLIB BLIB-BLIP – Helicopter hovering.
BROOM PUCKA PUCKA PUCKA BROOM PUCKA PUCKA – Cars revving for a drag race.
CHOMP CHOMPLE SLURP GLUK – Castaway eating and drinking.
ECCH YAACH BARF GAHORK – Andy Capp drinking water by mistake.
FASHKLORK – Huge fish emerging from pond.
FLOOT THWIP THOP KLOP – Man folding up beach umbrella.
FOOM – Explosion.
GA-SHPLUCT – Farmer stepping in cowflop.

… and so on. You can also check out the Futility Closet entry on the subject.

 

Twin Peaks

My Latest Discovery, 27 Years After the Fact

I have never been a big fan of television series—making time to watch them on a regular basis was too much of a drag on my time—but I have always been a big fan of David Lynch.I have loved all his films I have seen, even the strange Eraserhead (1977). Dune (1984) was something of a disappointment, but then came Blue Velvet (1986), Wild at Heart (1990), and all his subsequent work.

Over the last several weeks, I have slowly been going over the Twin Peaks (1990-1991) TV series. Even when it does not appear to make any sense, it is brilliant. The people of that strange little Northwestern town beggar all attempts at pat descriptions and then there is FBI Special Agent Dale Cooper, who has fallen in love with the town, its people, its coffee, donuts, and cherry pie. Not to mention Tibetan mysticism and dreams that provide answers to the crimes that have plagued the town.

In this country of ours, very little makes sense in a God-is-in-His-Heaven-and-all’s-right-with-the-world 19th century way. Does Trumpf make sense? Does our Senate and Congress make any sense? Very little, in fact.

The Log Lady of Twin Peaks

To date, I have seen the first thirteen of the thirty episodes that make up the show as it was in 1990-1991. (I am not into binge watching, because I tend to miss too much that way.) Whether I find out, definitively, who killed Laura Palmer does not matter to me. I am not looking for answers. What I am looking for are interesting questions, and the series delivers on this scorebig time!

New Wheels

2018 Subaru Forester

Today I picked up my new Subaru Forester. Inasmuch as I loved my old Nissan, there were a lot of things it didn’t have, or which no longer worked. It’s nice once again to have a radio which I can tune visually: The light on the Nissan radio had burned out years ago. And I would much rather play CDs than tape cassettes anytime. On the other hand, there are ever so many more controls with which I have to familiarize myself. It will take a while before I am altogether at home driving it.

As you can probably tell, I did not take the picture above. It looks, however, just like mine, except that mine is white. The funny thing is that the basic configuration of the Forester is what I wanted: no moon roof, no GPS, no phone.

I’ll take some pictures of me with my new car in a week or two. Right now, I am still trying to cope with Martine leaving me; and that’s what occupies my waking (and sleeping) thoughts. Life is a mixed bag.