A blog post I read recently made me think back to when I was growing up. The world was changing. Vietnam was done, and now we got our Asian war fix from the 4077th. Disco and prog rock gave way to hair bands and pop. And while we were moving from the hippie idealism of the ’70s to the cold capitalism of the ’80s, a young director came on the scene and changed the face of science fiction films. He had only made a couple movies before, but his new film, a tale of robots and rebellion and redemption, created a world so rich it would touch sci-fi movies for decades to come and attract a legion of devoted fans.
But then we come to find out that the movie he made didn’t live up to his expectations, and when time and technology allowed, he recrafted it, adding bits here and subtracting bits there, even changing one scene in such a way that it totally altered the nature of Harrison Ford’s character. And when the final product was revealed to the fans, they loved it even more than the original, and spent lots of money on the new release, and were thrilled that the director could at last have his vision realized.
This is a difficult post to write.
Oh, not difficult mentally; I know what I want to say. It’s not anything I’m embarrassed about, or can’t find the words for. It’s all things I’ve been thinking about for a while now.
No, it’s just physically hard for me to type these days. They’re right when they say you don’t know what you’ve got ’til it’s gone, and it wasn’t one of the things I ever worried about (or even thought about) while they were treating me for cancer last year.
So John Scalzi, in addition to writing really good sci-fi novels, also writes a column for filmcritic.com. Since he’s on a book tour in Germany, instead of the usual sci-fi movie stuff he writes, his latest column was a list of writing assignments for his readers. Now this is not the sort of thing you can do to my brain, which proceeded to wake me up constantly last night with new lines for the first topic, namely convincing him (and his flamethrower) that I am not the Thing. In rhyme. Here’s what my sleepy head came up with. (Note: Spoilers for the 1982 movie, The Thing, ahead. And if you haven’t seen it, well why not?)
I’m Not a Thing (But You Are Dressed as One)
Yes, you want to test my blood, but I don’t think it’s necessary.
If I were a monster, wouldn’t I be all grotesque and hairy?
Plus I’ve never been alone with anyone that’s been infected.
Even if you did the test, I’m sure I wouldn’t be rejected.
I’m the one that you should trust, so put that old flamethrower down.
Don’t let your suspicions keep on making you act like a clown.
Look, I’ll even burn myself, since that’s all that your test is doing.
Ow, that really smarts! But there’s no metamorphosis ensuing.
C’mon, put the scalpel down, MacReady. Let’s be reasonable.
We’ll survive the night and then we’ll go somewhere more seasonable.
I can even bring the scotch, and you can grab a couple glasses.
We’ll track down some girls and spend the night attempting drunken passes.
Okay, I can see that you’re not buying anything I’m saying,
So I guess there isn’t any point for me to plan on staying.
If you’re so concerned that I’m a creature from another place,
I’ll just take off in the snow and you can all forget my face.
See you later, paranoids. Just let me grab a pack of smokes.
Even if I freeze, it’s better than appeasing crazy folks.
Steve Jobs is dead. It’s still something I’m trying to process. I don’t choke up as badly now as I did when it first happened.
It’s not because I’m an Apple fanboy. I have two Macs on my desk, but they’re for work, and I loathe turning them on because the Apple dev tools are so much worse than the ones on Windows. I don’t even like using them as computers. I’m too used to how things work on Windows. And I don’t have stories about how my first computer was an Apple or anything, because I’ve never personally owned one, and the only ones I used as a kid were Canadian clones at a friend’s house.
Two more to go. Tomorrow I go in for my second to last chemo treatment. (The side effects have been getting progressively worse, but that’s to be expected. I don’t know if I could handle more than a couple more of them.)
We like to mark out our lives in milestones. Halfway there. Two more to go. One left. Sixteen and you can drive. Eighteen and you can vote. Twenty-one and you can drink. The big 4-0. Graduations. Weddings. Mid-life crisis. Retirement at sixty-five.
My younger daughter just celebrated a birthday last month, an annual milestone we all look forward to, whether with joy or dread. This one was another milestone, though, because now she is also a teenager. My youngest son also had his first birthday, one which he shares with my parents’ anniversary, a milestone of love and devotion for married people, or at least one of persistence.
A few months ago, we all got to see young people across the country celebrate a major milestone, graduating from high school, ready (or not) to begin their life as adults. And I realized, it’s been 25 years since I passed that particular milestone. When I walked across the stage to get my diploma, the kids who did it this year weren’t even born. And I’m sure some of the kids I graduated with have already graduated their own kids. I know it won’t be long before mine will.
I ended up giving the salutatory speech that year. I was valedictorian (not bragging, the class had only 13 kids in it, and I am not the most diligent person out there, as evidenced by my blog posting frequency), but I had only been at the school for three years, while the salutatorian had been there for ten. So while he got to wax poetic on our (or at least their) shared memories, I had to look forward, which is a trickier proposition. (A wise muppet once said, “Difficult to tell. Always in motion is the future.”) So I talked about how life is a journey that we all have to take. And like any good Presbyterian, I broke it down into three sections, all beginning with the same letter.
This is what my brain does when the indigestion is keeping it awake at three in the morning. (Sung to the tune of the old Spiderman cartoon.)