Because for him, Yeah. Devo was too mainstream. Fake alternative. He was above that, and what he thought they stood for.
“Of course I am,” I answered, thinking, Whatanasshole.“How could you not be?”
Because at the time there was no voice for the weird.
Used to be you were walking down the street, looked too weird, too punk, someone’d stick their head out of their car window and yell, “DEVO!”
It was the catch-all for anyone, anything so weird it still didn’t have a definition.
But Devo has been having a great time since the late-1970s. Laughing all the way to the bank probably because they’re still touring and their influence is widespread. It’s more than likely you heard something today that was touched by Devo and their commercial music spin-off Mutato Muzika.
It’s always fun to go back and review what I read, listened to and watched.
In many ways, it was a year for cyberpunk because I was anticipating Blade Runner 2049 and I wanted to reread Snowcrash. But overall, I didn’t read as much as I usually do because I was working on What’s Your Bio Strategy?
Rereading William Gibson’s Sprawl Trilogy was definitely a highlight. I realized how much those books influenced my own writing and how I approach telling biotech company stories.
Annalee Newitz’ Autonomous might not be cyberpunk but was my favorite book of the year. I’ll write about it later.
Watching-wise, I really enjoyed seeing It Follows again – that’s a brilliant horror movie.
The last season of Black Mirror was as disturbing as previous seasons though there was one uplifting episodes that even had a happy ending.
I enjoyed the second season of Stranger Things (though will admit I loved the first better), and A Series of Unfortunate Events was brilliant.
I did enjoy Blade Runner 2049 but found it long. It’s hard to write a sequel to a great movie, but I appreciated the nods to synthetic biology: especially around the creation of the replicants.
My all-time favorite movie of the year was Dope. I watched it more than a couple of times to figure out what director Rick Famuyiwa was doing. It was super smart. I can’t recommend it enough.
Arrival does a good job of showing scientists at work.
The movie tells the story of a linguist and a theoretical physicist on deadline to translate the language of an alien species. The aliens arrive in twelve giant, almond-shaped monoliths that float above cities and remote locations across the globe.
The US military recruits linguist Louise Banks, played by Amy Adams to help communicate with the aliens and understand why they have arrived on earth.
Banks is joined by physicist, played by Jeremy Renner. The two of them work methodologically, tirelessly, making slow progress to communicate with the aliens. They share information with their peers around the globe and share breakthroughs, albeit very slowly.
The clock ticks. The stock markets plummet. And the world’s military powers begin putting pressure on the scientists despite the challenge of communicating with an alien species, despite their progress, and despite the chaos and fear of the unknown that grip the world.
This is the way science progresses. In fits and starts. Slowly. With a lot of failure along the way. It’s not something that can be forced. Discoveries happen serendipitously.
But diverse points of view, listening, and open communication move science closer to a solution.
Arrival is an unusual alien movie. It’s not about aliens invading and taking over the world. It’s slow-moving. The storytelling is not linear – it goes back and forth in time. It requires patience as a viewer, just as doing science requires patience, asking the right questions and being willing to fail in search of an answer.
Admittedly, I’m late to seeing Looper. I saw it last night because Argo was sold out and The Cloud Atlas wasn’t for a couple of hours but I really enjoyed it and I’m glad we saw it.
The premise: In 2074, time travel has been invented. It’s illegal but is being used by criminal organizations to kill off their enemies. The assassins of 2044 are called Loopers. The main character, Joe (Joseph Gordon-Levitt), needs to “close the loop” when he meets his older self (Bruce Willis), but Old Joe escapes in hopes of changing his future.
Looper’s future doesn’t look that different from 2012. The U.S. has suffered a tremendous economic collapse. The streets are filled with vagrants and everyone sports some kind of weapon that they use freely. Crime is rampant. The cars are familiar except with a couple of extra pipes and hoses hanging off them. Solar panels are ubiquitous. People, like Joe, are addicted to some undefined drug that is dropped into your eye. And Loopers are paid in silver bars until the the loop is closed. Then they get shiny gold bars carved with a beautiful tag.
My favorite part of the movie was when we see Joe’s life between his life as a Looper in Kansas City and his move to Shanghai where he blows through his silver, becomes a contract killer, meets his wife, and eventually leaves the big city to start over. This 30-year backstory is told in a minute or two.
My biggest issue with the movie: The use of children. The Old Joe character comes from the future to look for the guy that will become the Rainmaker, a vicious mafia boss that has order the closing of loops. To prevent that from happening, Old Joe goes after three five-year old boys, eliminating one off-screen, then being caught while after the second. The suspense builds as 2044 Joe connects with Sid, a mechnically-minded young boy that lives on a farm with his super-hot mom (played by Emily Blunt). Did I mention telekinesis? That’s a mutation that has appeared sometime before 2044 and it plays a significant part in the movie.
Without giving it away, there are issues with the ending and that’s because time travel is complicated and messy, right?
Time machines are awesome. There’s no doubt about it. But they can also be very dangerous. It’s possible that a person could go back in time and accidentlaly change one little thing — and that one teeeny, tiny, itsy-bitsy thing could profoundly affect the future. This is what scientists refer to as the Banana Cream Pie Paradox.
The fact that a chapter book aimed at emerging readers — that is second and third graders, ages 7 and 8 — needs to explain time travel and how messy it can be (it involves Banana Cream Pies and a reference to the Three Stooges fer crissakes) shows how difficult it can be. But at least the second and third graders are being taught about time travel early on.
That said, Looper’s a fun and wild ride. If you’re willing to suspend belief, you’ll enjoy it. If not, there would be no movie.
As for Captain Underpants, I’ll write about him later.