Thursday, November 30, 2006

Eat your heart out, Jack London

Mrs. Z is home. My office is closing at 3 p.m. because of the encroaching wintry mess. Life is good.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

In praise of Douglas

"Asking people about their opinions is a very good way of making friends. Telling them about your own opinions can also work, but not always quite as well."

The preceding quote is from my favorite writer of all time, England's Douglas Adams. He is one of the most brilliant humorists and least obnoxious activists ever to walk this Earth. Adams is best known for having written “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy” and its four sequels.

A note, here. If you find me funny personally, or if you like my writing, please, please, PLEASE find and read a copy of “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.” It was the single most influential work as far as both my sense of humor and my writing style are concerned. And don’t try to watch the movie first. It will most likely leave you feeling lost and disillusioned. (Now there are many Adams fans who have read the book many time, yet still claim to have felt lost and disillusioned after watching the movie. That is entirely their problem.)

The reason I bring Douglas Adams up is that one of the things I’ve done to pass the time while Mrs. Z’s been away this week is read a wonderful compilation of Adams’s writings called “The Salmon of Doubt.” The book contains the highlights of what was on his Macintosh at the time of his tragically early death – including an unfinished novel. I have particularly enjoyed the essays included in the book, which cover everything from The Beatles to climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro in a rhino suit. And scattered amongst these writings are nuggets of wisdom like the one I opened this post with – which, incidentally, is from an essay entitled “For Children Only.”

Brilliant stuff, and it got me thinking. If you had access to the personal writings of anyone you chose, who would it be and why? Write a blog entry about it if you like, or merely use this blog’s comment space.

And for goodness’s sake, please read some Douglas Adams. It will make you smile.

Monday, November 27, 2006

What's been going on ...

Well, kids, as you can surmise from the time gap between my previous entry and this one, plenty has been going on in Zoomland – only a fraction of which shall be discussed in this post. That restrictive disclaimer aside, there is still quite a bit to get to, so let’s get to it.

I should first mention Mrs. Z. is, due to a series of extraordinary kindnesses, in the midst of a week’s sabbatical visiting a dear friend in Minnesota. She’s having a great trip, which is not to say she needed some time away from me; rather, she needed some time to and for herself. And that is something she’s had precious little of in the nearly 15 years we’ve been married. It already seems to be agreeing with her, based on this photo I received from her.

Part of the upshot of all this is my spending more time with my mother, or “Z-Mom,“ as I have just now decided to refer to her. While it has been at times maddening spending so much time with someone who admits to still seeing me as 10 years old half the time, it has been, for the most part, a pleasant if somewhat poignant experience. You see, as much as she still sees me as 10, I still see her as 50ish. And to see her age – particularly during the weekend together – has been difficult.

On the plus side, we’ve seen some pretty awesome movies.

First and foremost, I must add my voice to the universal choir singing the praises of “Casino Royale.” Daniel Craig is the best Bond since Sean Connery, and the movie does a great job of recapturing the original essence of 007. This isn’t to say the rest of the Bond films are crap, but they’d become such self-caricatures that they were in danger of becoming irrelevant. Not anymore!

We also saw the latest Denzel Washington/Tony Scott film, “Déjà Vu.” I do recommend it for its sheer entertainment value, but I have a hard time giving it an unqualified “thumbs up.” Because I don’t want to give away any of the movie (and discovery is a big draw to this film), I will just say that “Déjà Vu” deftly switches genres about a third of the way through, then causes fans of that genre to roll their eyes with what I consider a copout ending. That said, it’s very much worth seeing, and in the theater at that.

Then there’s “The Fountain.”

Z-Mom and I saw the Hugh Jackman-Rachel Weisz film on Saturday. No less than six people walked out during the movie, and one young lady who managed to stick through it was heard to mutter, “I have no idea what that was fucking about.” We tended to agree, though Z-Mom would be loath to use such language in public. I know for a fact, however, that she was thinking “What the fuck?” throughout. And I’m sure she still is.

However, the more that I think about it, the more this initially incomprehensible opus is growing on me in precisely the way “Magnolia” didn’t. Its visuals are breathtaking, its acting sincere and its score singularly beautiful. I’m still saying “What the fuck?” but I think I actually like it now. And if I see it again, I’m pretty sure I’ll love it.

Coming soon: more on my week of bachelorhood, including how I quit smoking. (GASP! Literally!)