Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Right of Way

I submitted a poem to the 511.org bicycle poetry contest around bike to work day. And I won (a brand $600 new bike)! I was probably one of two people who submitted, but hey! given that I wrote it in all of 10 minutes, not a bad return :-)

Some people will recognize the irony that I was in a bike accident several weeks later. And that my helmet (on my head and not on the handlebars) saved my precious noggin.


I am gliding on my bike,
my helmet is hanging from
my handlebars,
the wind speeds through my hair,
my finger is poised above the bell


I don't want to stop.

I want this hill to go forever
I want the lights to remain an
I want those cars and people to
give way
to my inertia.

I don't want to stop.

I would coast forever
if I had my way,
past giant buildings,
old houses,
children waving by the side of the road,
past traffic,
past box stores,
out into the country,
along the coast,
small towns and large, and
look, I am back where I started, because

I don't want to stop

I would coast forever.

But I do stop. I brake and come to a halt,
bring a foot back to the ground,
lean on my handlebars,
and let you pass on
your way.

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Thursday, July 12, 2007

Book vs Movie

I just finished reading P.D. James' Children of Men, and I find myself liking the movie more than the book. This is a rare thing. I can count the number on one hand of movies I've liked more than the books.


One obvious difference is that P.D. James is just a dense writer. The psychology of her character is more important than the plot in many ways, and her books are measured meditations on humanity. To mix some metaphors, a movie could only ever hope to sketch the kind of depths she tends to plumb.

I was surprised however, to find, that the movie was only loosely based on the book. If you haven't seen it, the movie is a quick descent into hell, moderated by occassional moments of purgatory and a laugh or two. The movie's plotline seems more like a second story set in the same world, with the same setup, but with completely different people (it so happens some of whom happen to share names and one shares the same occupation). Its remarkable how little dialog or even the action is shared.

The writers of the movie have clearly been informed by the events since 911, and the increasing pressures of globalization Immigrants are mentioned in the book, but we never see any, there is no trip to a refugee camp, no "'fugees". The character pregnant in the book is an older white woman. The movie feels much more realistic for it.

But at the heart of why I like it better is because the characters are much more sympathetic. The book's main character is an aloof arrogant professor once very closely tied to the government, in the movie, he's one of us, being used really, and stumbling into a situation he has little control over. His great old friend in the movie, is an awful old oxford don. It was hard to find any character that was particularly likeable in the book.

For the movie, you could almost find yourself in anyone's shoes. There's no particularly evil people, even the person you hate the most is acting out of a kind of love, almost everyone is acting in what they see as their own best self interest. The movie shows perhaps where that can lead: to much evil that is certain, but also to some good.

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Sunday, July 08, 2007


Transformers - I heard from a lot of people that this was worth seeing. Only just. If it is at all enjoyable to watch it is because the plot is thin, the action fast and furious, with enough decent comedy thrown in to keep it light.

Sadly it is weighted down by the ponderous and ridiculous statements of Optimus Prime, and the equally ridiculous performance of John Turturro (sp?). As if, the director/writers couldn't quite make up their mind to write a Men in Black style parody, or a Armageddon style science fiction movie.

The movie certainly has all the qualities of a Jerry Bruckheimer blockbuster. They might have well just used the same soundtrack as the Rock or Armageddon, and the paeons

Granted I was not a Transformer fan as a kid, so perhaps it is mostly a nostalgia trip? Why do I continue to go see movies that are translations of things I did not care about to being with. That's the real question!