Monday, November 14, 2016

Update

Howdy!  Hope everyone had a nice weekend.  After about 9 or 10 days of cloud cover and rain, we finally got some sunshine this weekend in Austin, and not a moment too soon!
Amy and I had a three day weekend due to the Veterans Day holiday on Friday.
Amy flew out for Arizona early on Friday morning to visit her family for the weekend.  My Mom and Dad took Raylan on Thursday and Friday (so I could get Amy to the airport, take care of a few errands, and see a few friends).
On Thursday night Amy and I got to go out for dinner before she went on her trip.  We went to Curra's and had some Mexican food.  We also watched The Warriors, which, surprisingly, Amy both suggested and enjoyed (she had never seen it and was intrigued by some clips she saw online).  It was a nice evening.
Nothing makes your husband miss you like having a nice date night right before you jet out of town!  ;-)
Anyway, I took Amy to the airport early on Friday morning.  Then I went and and ate migas at La Posada. It was early, and the place was mostly empty, so I watched the news with the waitstaff and spent some time talking with them about the Trump win.  Judging from what I heard, they were pretty freaked out.  I'm guessing that not all of the people who work there are documented, so there's the specter of deportation hanging over the place (along with tons of other Texas businesses that rely on undocumented workers).  I've been going to that place for over 10 years.  Sad to see them all so down.
I've been trying to avoid the internet and the news ever since the election.  But at some point you just can't avoid it, I guess.
I spent Friday, Veterans Day. shopping for a couple of new suits.  I got a haircut.  I went to see The Arrival while they were working on my suits.

The Arrival was a pretty good movie, but it was a little onerously self important, in my opinion.  The movie clearly had a lot to say about the nature of "otherness" or the separation of the alien from the normal. (spoilers)  By learning to understand the language of an alien race, Louise learns to experience time itself in an utterly new and different way, thereby changing the entire way that she comprehends and appreciates in life.
What the movie either intentionally or unintentionally passes over, however, is the possibility that people may not possess the inherent ability to ever truly understand the alien.  Maybe the skills that understanding an alien mind are not something that we possess, as a consequence of our nature or our biology.  Seems like it something more truly alien would be a more interesting turn of events, and very few movies address it.  I guess that's more or less the theme of 2001, but it seems like there is still an awful lot of ground to cover in exploring that scenario.
For all of the talk of the utterly unfathomable natures of the aliens in the movie, ultimately we were given little evidence that their minds were all that different than our own- except with superpowers that let them see the future.
Furthermore, the movie conspicuously skips over the question of whether the ability to "see the future" means that humans are devoid of free will.  This question is presented in the starkest of terms by the plot, but then ultimately never discussed in any meaningful sense (which feels very artificial when dealing with a protagonist who has the ability to see the future, but then fails to act upon that knowledge in any number of possible ways, even to protect those closest to her).
I thought that The Arrival was a good film, but not as smart as it found itself.  For one thing, I think that, for a movie which seemed to be taking pride in presenting philosophical issues, it spent too much time on the very tired "will humanity irrationally destroy itself?" hand wringing.  I also found the film's metaphor to be stretched a little thin.  It's one thing to gain a different view of the world by learning to communicate in a different way.  It's probably another thing to gain a new sensory ability itself simply by learning a new language.
I thought that the best moment in the film came as Louise diagrammed a sentence on a white board, giving examples to her colleagues of all of the different ways that an alien intelligence might be different than our own (e.g., do they have a concept of individual identity? do they have a concept of intent as opposed to acting out of pure instinct? etc.)
This felt like a movie, in the end, with a relatively thin examination of philosophical question, albeit wrapped up in a very nice, glossy, heart-tugging, critic-friendly package.  (But it will probably end up receiving critical attention that would make it seem as thought none of these concepts had ever been asked before)
Anyway, in the end, The Arrival was worth seeing, and I'm probably being too hard on it.  It just glossed over too many interesting things, in my opinion, but maybe those are the constraints of making a two hour movie as opposed to a book or a series.



Here's how Dad spent his Veterans Day.
Thanks for your service, Dad!
(and the child care, too!)
Anyway, I had big plans to go for a bike ride on Friday, but I never made it.  The suit took a lot longer than I had hoped.  Got a haircut, though!
In the evening I went out to dinner with my friend, James, at Pinthouse Pizza.  Later our friend Robert joined us with his girlfriend, Laura.  We ate pizza and drank beer and ultimately shut the place down around midnight.  I rode my bike over there and back.  Because beer.

On Saturday I went over to my parents' house to watch UT lose to West Virginia.  It was a pretty good game, and, darn it, we were close.  But we lost.  Oh well.
I couldn't keep watching UT if I was gonna let their losses put me in a bad mood for very long.
Ryan and Jamie came over to watch the game, and it was good to see them.  Raylan and I stayed until around dinner time.  We went for a walk with Mom and talked to Dad and just sort of hung out.

Reunited!!



On Sunday I got up and, after breakfast, took Raylan with me to run errands.  We went to the grocery store, and Raylan got to ride in the race car shopping cart.

"Hey!  Hey!  Trying merge, here, buddy!"
Later we went to the park.  There were a lot of other kids there (not pictured, so as not to freak out their parents), and Raylan had fun playing with them.  The weather was great,



Raylan not only enjoyed the park, but also running up and down the ramps at the portable buildings at Joslin Elementary.

"ZOOOOOM!!"
We also went for some walks on Sunday.  We stopped by to visit Mandy and her doggies.  Raylan got to feed the fish in her pond.

"Mandy, I think this would work better if I could get in there to
pet the fish while I was feeding them."
Also, mixed in there, we played cars and read books and watched a video with garbage trucks on it.
Hot Wheels just don't go out of style
It was a nice day with Raylan.  He asked for his mom a few times, but he seemed pretty happy to hang out with me.  Which was nice.  I was, admittedly, a little nervous about Amy going out of town, but we managed to keep things going for a few days (with a lot of help from Mom and Dad) while she was gone.
It was also kind of good to just hang out with just the two of us for a little while.  When Amy and Mom and other people aren't around, Raylan is more likely to give me a little bit more of his attention.  He starts talking to me a lot more and bringing me his favorite toys and asking me for things that he wants and just sort of communicating with me a little differently.  We both had a little bit of good bonding time.
But we'll be really happy to have Amy back!
And that was the weekend.
Hope you have a good week!



1 comment:

Ryan Steans said...

Despite my positive comments about the movie, I actually agree with you about the "did we just skip over the problem of pre-destination?" bit. That's a pretty big matzah ball to drop and then ignore, and while I appreciated the integration of the concept of non-linear experience of time into the plot, it seemed under explored or under-questioned, even in cursory terms.

I did assume that the film zipped up the issues of what sort of communication the aliens were capable of by virtue of what the plot told us about them - and had they been unable to communicate, they would have known as much.

And, yeah, while you could spend time exploring an alien race with whom communication was impossible, that was literally antithetical to the themes and analogies the movie was seeking to highlight as analog to human experience and the possibility of new viewpoints becoming possible, new solutions available, when we work to listen and understand, no matter how threatening or different. It's an elementary school lesson draped in a fancy mid-budget sci-fi movie, but it's also seemingly more necessary a message now than in quite some time.