In response to Richard Brody’s “Best of the Decade” column on films:
i agree with Jordanm. to call the Darjeeling Limited one of the ten best films of the decade (!) and to call Anderson the best new director of the last twenty years (!!) beggars the imagination. This list is incoherent and specious, reflecting a gadfly’s sensibility–or is it a curmudgeon’s?
There’s no way to tell if that’s serious (outside of the anti-Anderson rant) or sincere, but let’s not let that get in the way of enjoying it.
For the record, I saw exactly one movie on the 26-film list and didn’t particularly like it. That says something, even if I’m not sure what. Maybe that most of the movies I see aren’t particularly good? I kind of feel that way anyway. Could be true. Step up your game, homey.
UPDATES: About 20 minutes after I posted this, I was sent the Balloon Boy Game. I know what I’m doing all morning. And then there’s this, which is just awesome—the Balloon Boy adventure as the Fresh Prince song, in Facebook comments. h/t TA.
The Balloon Boy story didn’t make sense from the beginning.
“URGENT,” a tweet from the Europe-based Breaking News Online blared over my Tweetdeck, “Six-year-old stuck in a hot air balloon near Denver.”
I wasn’t sure how that was urgent, to me, sitting at my computer in New York. Still, I pointed my browser over to CNN.com, where I saw a photo of the UFO-like spycraft floating east across Colorado. The whole thing sounded horrifying: a six-year-old kid had gotten into the inflated apparatus, unhitched it from the Earth, and had flown away? It sounded like a tragedy, or at least TV movie, in the making.
Doubt started to creep in when I heard the TV newsers describe the dirigible. I alternatingly heard that the compartment in which 6-year-old Falcon was stuck was made of “thin plywood” and then “cardboard,” leading the TV announcers to speculate that “he may have fallen out.” I came to a different conclusion: if the cab was that flimsy, how would the thing take off in the first place? Wouldn’t he just fall out the bottom?
But no. His brother had seen him elevate, flying far, far away. The ship kept going, and police needed to find a way to stop it.
I took an informal poll on Twitter, searching for solutions to a problem that sounds like something you’d hear at a job interview for a consulting agency. A six-year-old is stuck inside of a helium balloon. It will explode if ignited, and if it lands too hard, he will die. How do you save him? Responses included a net, a harpoon, and a Patriot Missile (that one was helpful). I thought that if a helicopter could get above the balloon, and match its speed of roughly 30 miles per hour, they could drop light weights on it and gradually bring it toward the ground.
Not a perfect solution, I know. But it was something.
As the drama unfolded, we learned more about the family. They were featured on ABC’s Wife Swap twice, the premise of which is that you’re a crazy family that will do anything for money. Why is it okay that America’s most family-focused network features a show that is directly inspired by ’70s-style key parties, and no one seems bothered by this? Of course, maybe a wife swap would have helped in this case, because maybe a replacement spouse would have pointed out the folly of keeping an INFLATED HELIUM BALLOON LOOSELY TIED UP IN THE YARD WITH A CABIN BIG ENOUGH FOR A SIX-YEAR-OLD.
But I digress.
Soon enough, the balloon crashed in a dirt field. Cops and paramedics were on the scene in no time, and found no kid. He wasn’t there, and they soon devised an alternate theory: Falcon hadn’t flown at all, and would reveal himself soon enough. This is, of course, exactly what happened. Within a couple hours, he was found in the attic of his house, napping through the drama. He was the one who had the good sense not to watch. We could learn something.
On Larry King Live last night, Falcon inadvertently put his dad in an odd position when he said that he had been instructed to do something “for the show.” Dad got defensive and tried to explain it away. Cops are now looking into the whole episode as a hoax, but what does it matter? The damage has been done. That’s two hours of my life I’m not getting back and frankly, I’m glad the kid’s okay, physically speaking. Psychologically, who knows. Maybe this was just a huge accident, and his parents are just as down-to-Earth as the rest of us and have an explanation for everything. I’d just be surprised if it wasn’t flimsier than cardboard.
I just received an invitation for a guided trip to China through the University of Chicago Alumni Association. Sounds fun!
University of Chicago Alumni Study Trips invites you to join fellow travelers on a 12-day tour of China’s most dynamic cities, beautiful countryside, Tibet, and the Yangzi River. In Beijing, visit the Forbidden City, Temple of Heaven, and Summer Palace. Tour the old Beijing district by pedicab for a firsthand view of traditional life. Marvel at the Great Wall, the most enduring symbol of China. Next, fly to Xian to view the legendary terracotta warriors at the tomb of China’s first emperor, Quinshihuang.
In Chongqing, board the Victoria cruise ship for a memorable cruise down the Yangzi River to see the breathtaking Three Gorges and the engineering feat of the Three Gorges Dam construction site. Finally, fly to Shanghai for an exploration of this European-influenced city that features beautiful colonial buildings on the historic Bund. Visit the world-class Shanghai Museum and classical Yuyuan Gardens.
Professor Guy Alitto from the Departments of History and East Asian Languages & Civilizations will accompany this program.
I actually took History of Modern China with Professor Alitto, so this could be great. I wonder… could there be a catch?
TRIP PRICE: from $4,590 per person, double occupancy
Well that’s not bad. I love bunking with others! And airfare alone is probably $1500.
DOES NOT INCLUDE: : international airfare, domestic airfare to and from San Francisco or New York, visa processing, excess baggage charges, travel insurance, two dinners, and items of a personal nature.
Bummer! Well, at least I can save up for it, right?
TRIP DATES: April 7-18, 2008
So the details are… they’re asking me to go on a $6000 trip before any other expenses and it leaves in two weeks. And here’s the kicker: you have to hang out with other U of C alumni for 12 days. Quite. Tempting.