Saturday, July 05, 2014

Three Films

I don't get to the movies as much as I used to. I don't even watch movies at home as much as I used to, and I've got a pretty big stack of dvds that I need to watch sometime soon. A number of factors are responsible, including the internet, life, music that needs listening to, and books that need reading. That said, I've seen a few films lately that I feel are worth noting.

Today, Jeanine and I went to go see Bong Joon Ho's new film, "Snowpiercer". Yes, it's another film set in a dystopian near-future - in this case an attempt to reverse climate change literally freezes the world - but I sure do love depictions of dystopia. Tilda Swinton's character is particularly bizarre, in a good way, of course. Check out the trailer here. Bong Joon Ho's "The Host" is also worth checking out.

"Cold In July", based on a novel by the marvelous Joe R. Lansdale, is an excellent film as well. More Lansdale adaptations are in the works, with "The Bottoms" on the horizon. It's about time. Trailer here. The film features Michael C. Hall of "Dexter" fame and a great, haunting score by Jeff Grace.

Finally, Jim Jarmusch's newest film, "Only Lovers Left Alive", nearly slipped by me. I'm glad that we managed to catch it because, not only was it a great film (with Tilda Swinton again - come to think of it, John Hurt is also in both films), but the soundtrack is absolutely amazing. Trailer here.

Also of recent note is an oddball short film by David Cronenberg, called "The Nest". Watch the whole thing here (warning, breasts).

Explosives, Encounters, and Changes

The constant, thundering assault of illegal fireworks explosions last night shook the ground enough to set off my car alarm a couple of times. The cat looked bothered, but never slipped into full panic mode. I was irritated because I had to put my book down to turn off the car alarm. Yeah, you can keep your holiday. It's just another opportunity for people to get drunk and make noise. I've never really gotten the concept of national pride. A lot of people who claim to be patriots have never done a damn thing to justify the claim, at least on a national scale, unless you count things like drinking American beer and buying American fireworks (although I think a lot of the big, illegal ones come from elsewhere). Be proud of the things you accomplish. I guess it's easier for some people to jump on the bandwagon of the whole touchy-feely group belongingness thing, especially if they've never done anything to warrant any feelings of personal pride.

Last night, I was grumpy enough about the explosions that I found myself wishing somebody would hold onto one just a bit too long. This morning, predictably, there was this news story. I didn't see any news about fires though. That's a good thing. I would have expected idiocy + drought to equal fires.

This all happened at the tail end of the third week of summer camp. The week went well, with a couple of my all time favorite campers attending (and being in my group). The water level in the pond has dipped some more, and the snakes were scarce. We saw a couple of rattlesnakes on Monday, but that was it. The chaparral area has been pretty much obliterated by heavy equipment. I'm not sure what the County Parks people have planned for it, but so far all they've done is kill a bunch of Coyote Brush and Scotch Broom. The Scotch Broom is invasive, so maybe they're trying to wipe out invasives. This has more or less wiped out one of the places we visit to find snakes, so I don't like it.

On our first afternoon critter hunt, one of the counselors had to answer a call of nature behind some of the remaining bushes in the chaparral, and in doing so dropped his keys. The next day, he went up to find them, and when he came back, he had a story. A pair of eyes was watching him up there. They belonged to a mother Mountain Lion who was in the process of carrying her cubs into the forest where it abuts the chaparral. My theory is she was disturbed by all of the noise the park rangers were making as they cleared out brush, and was heading deeper into the forest with her young. The drought seems to have enticed the larger wild animals closer to the water sources, although now that one of those is being drained, options become even more limited. What a thing to see while looking for your keys!

Here's a female Southern Alligator Lizard, being photographed by a camper in the upper chaparral area.

Next week, I shift gears and work for our Trailblazers camp, which has a narrower focus, delving more into natural history, ecology, and stewardship. It should be fun, although I'm not excited to have to get up earlier.