“Am I some kind of condescending prick for feeling mildly embarrassed for these kids?”
“Well,” Kevin said after some consideration, “it’s a Sunday night in May and this IS a Walmart parking lot. You would think that there’d be some better way of spending your time . . .”
Kevin and I had parked our car and stared in wonder at the convocation of pick-ups and supped-up Hondas at the far end of the Walmart. Carroll County Maryland has never proven itself the most . . . urbane area in the state, but occasionally my neighbors go out of their way to check off every stereotype in the book.
Local teenagers leaned against the bumpers and sat on car roofs, watching some kid attempt to drop-kick a basketball at one of the parking lights. Occasionally, he’d routinely lose control, and their heads would turn with the syncopation of a Wimbledon crowd to gaze at kid and ball bouncing across the asphalt. Another weird feature: there was no music. Nothing audible at least. It seemed the kid and his basketball was the main event here.
In my experience, nothing excites and unnerves a geek more than pitting his (or her) favorite imaginary character against a rival fictional character in a hypothetical showdown to the figurative death. Nothing. My good friend, Rodney, believes with every fiber of his being that Jason Bourne epitomizes ‘badass.’ Yeah, Matt Damon . . . badass . . . My friend is somewhat goofy in the head. Rodney has even gone to such lengths to name his iPhone after the chronic amnesiac, and dubbing himself ‘The Rod Identity,’ secret sidekick to the world’s most kickass secret agent Again, the guy’s goofy in the head.
Still like all zealots, Rodney actively sought altercations with those who believed Mr. Bourne had proven himself . . . slightly less-than-awesome. As so often was the case, the argument exploded from a deep intellectual discussion on the quality of Hugh Jackman’s performance in The Wolverine while on vacation last July . . .
We had just exited the theater at Downtown Disney, a cornucopia of Disney merchandise, theme restaurants, and — my favorite — AMC theaters. Both Ryan and Rodney, having tragically lost half-a-dozen tennis matches two weeks prior owed the gang lunch, ice cream, and a few hours at the local cineplex. We had spent much of the day at Animal Kingdom, sweating in lines and jumping between sunshine and deluges of afternoon thunderstorms. As the evening sky cleared, we felt grateful for the safety of soft red velvet and an air-conditioned movie theater. I had suggested Marvel’s latest superhero tale — thus, harmonizing my love for Japanese culture with my passion for Canadian mutant assassins — at AMC’s Dine-in theater where we snacked on sushi, mozzarella sticks, and bread pudding . . . mmmm.
It’s nearly quarter to 1AM and the boys are arguing in the other room about what late night game to play: Call of Duty or the Zombie game within Call of Duty. A four-player limit finds me the fifth wheel, and I bow out to play some Starcraft. Kevin is sleeping behind me, having passed out hours earlier. Every half-hour he mumbles incoherent curses in his sleep, a sign my roommate’s sleeping peaceful (the boy is never happy unless he’s not), rousing himself as Ryan begins his recital in the other room. I do not know what prompts it, perhaps the excitement for digital battle, the click of electronic triggers, the tinkling of bullets on 3-D landscapes. His voice begins low, gradually crescendo-ing into a rebel shout, a call to arms for humans against the inhuman, a love-letter to the battle-borne and bullet-ridden:
“Good evening,” he begins. ” In less than an hour, aircraft from here will join others from around the world. And you will be launching the largest aerial battle in the history of mankind. “Mankind.” That word should have new meaning for all of us today. We can’t be consumed by our petty differences anymore. We will be united in our common interests. Perhaps it’s fate that today is the Fourth of July, and you will once again be fighting for our freedom… Not from tyranny, oppression, or persecution… but from annihilation.”
So, the boys and I sat down to watch Blade Runner last night: not the original theatrical release, the remastered director’s final cut with the unicorn and without the voice over — if you’ve ever seen the film you’ll know why it’s important to be specific. Sadly, Kevin and Shannon barely lasted through the first fifteen minutes, citing exhaustion and heavy eyelids as the reason. I can’t really blame them; the slow deliberate pacing of the film is not for everyone, particularly movie-goers in this post-Avengers world. Still the world that Scott drafted in the film delights me with its horrid beauty like a living breathing movie monster. If the boys could get past the pace, I think they’d find a wonderful enlightening experience.
What’s all this got to do with Disney and vacation?
Well, on Tuesday, we had stepped out into the rain to eat lunch at Epcot, which lies within walking distance of the Boardwalk Resort. Epcot unlike the other Disney parks is often ignored I think by the younger generations. It doesn’t possess the flumes, animals, and roller coasters of the more ‘fun’ parks, but offers a worthwhile experience if you’re willing to explore . . . and perhaps old enough to drink. Just like Blade Runner. Continue reading
The first day of our Disney vacation (as appose to our ‘road trip vacation,’ ‘St. Augustine vacation’ or ‘cabernet-induced vacation’) found Tropical Storm Debbie hovering over our resort like a large fly buzzing a particularly spacious picnic. Other families may feel flummoxed by the gloomy weather, bolting themselves inside until the sun should emerge to chase away the gloom to some other, less entertaining state . . . like Ohio, but the Murphey clan does not shrink from natural calamities. We simply bought a quiver of over-priced Disney umbrellas and trod to the local cinema . . . like men! Continue reading
“Nerd. Nerd. Nerd,” Dasad muttered, pointing at the sundry collection of costumed moviegoers, the vast majority sporting Marvel-themed t-shirts. “God, we’ve landed in some antisocial geek convention. Again.”
“It’s just a movie, dude,” I sigh. “Try to enjoy the energy from the crowd. Everyone’s been waiting years for this moment.”
Dasad and I had decided see the Avengers a few Saturdays ago, a day after Disney had released it here stateside to glowing reviews both from fans and reviewers alike. Many of us, myself include, were simply happy the film was so well received as it guaranteed the superhero genre had not yet jumped the shark. However, not everyone was enjoying the growing anticipation — not vocally at any rate.
“You do realize that you’re a computer science major, right?” I argue. “You work all day long building databases and designing web sites. You’re not just a geek, man. You’re a prince.”
“Ha! And what does that make you?” he laughed. “You dabble in every nerd world there is: super-heroes, hobbits, anime, manga, and semi-clad bishoujo figurines. All tucked away in your parents’ basement. What does that make you?”
“A king. But don’t tell anyone,” I whisper. “I’m traveling incognito.” Continue reading
A few weeks ago my grandmother during one of our Sunday brunches admitted that The Muppets proved one of the worst films of 2012 for her: “Absolutel A profound wave of sadness and horror washed over me afterwards, as if I was twelve again watching the long-eared stars of Watership Down spray animated viscera on the big screen. After she had left, well fed on eggs and the joys of childhood, I stumbled over to the piano and played ‘Rainbow Connection’ until the whole house was singing. Throughout the rest of the day — amid homework, chores, and a chicken pot pie — we immersed ourselves in Muppet Treasure Island and The Muppet Caper until little by little, we felt the hope return to the world.
And just because it’s awesome . . .