Upon the sunlit fields, the summer sun shines bright and warm.
And from behind the hill, the sound of cheerful chatter rises.
Yet, ‘neath the tranquil mask, there hides a heart all black and filthy
Pumping out the wretched blood that this facade disguises.
Upon these lovely fields, the very souls are sacrificed
To those damned Gods who dwell in other horrid spheres.
Behind the people’s laughter is a growl, inhuman and unholy,
Of something in the shadows that grows hungry as it hears
The poor unthinking wretches who frolic in its thrall.
Beneath the chiming bells, the passer-by may see its soul:
The ossified remains of carnivores and monsters
A-dragged up from some old and stinking wormy hole.
The pretty city brims with personalities so witty,
Who, recalling naught of times gone past,
Celebrate the future, knowing it can never come,
And optimism is the only thing to last.
But off the shore there lies the glinting lizard eyes
Awaiting as the predator the fateful opportunity.
For howsoever far civilizations come
There remain those lacking in remorse or pity.
Guided by the cosmic laws, by no ideas or cause,
There loom the claws of obsolescence.
From somewhere across the bay seems to come
A fearful, frightful wail of demoniac essence.
But neither God nor Devil could long becalm the revel,
But perhaps they did not want or need to.
For all these things must end, howe’er that end must come;
It cometh no matter what the revelers do.
In spite of their political biases, newsmagazines
Often have some excellent photographs.
I once saw a picture of the seaside that
Might have been an impressionist painting.
The truth of course is much more ugly.
Even the sea lies.
“All forks in the road are as knives in the flesh”,
Said the Commander to his men.
The Enemy approaches, binding us with blood,
Yet I know my loyalty must be to my love.
But faced with the choice of my love or
my hunger, which to choose?
And so I am a courier, a runner,
And I’m back in the ancient tomb,
And the ruin’d palace, and the museum,
And the casino, and the farmlands,
And my choice is the same as it ever was;
Between power and love. Yet!—
Perhaps it is no choice at all. I may
Have both, or neither. Such is the
Nature of things that choices appear
As if they were not. And I still see
Her hair, and her eyes and her body
And her shoes.
The clock is digital, so there is no ticking,
Only the sound of the battery.
I shudder as I gaze into the simmering
Void that mocks my existence,
And I fear death, not because I wish to live,
But because I cannot lose my thoughts of her.
I steady myself. The minds of Gods and Goddesses
Dead or Never Living seem to reach me.
Left or Right or otherwise
Make the move.
I don’t care much for superhero movies. The concept is boring to me. I also don’t much care for Norse mythology, so Thor was pretty far down on the list of superhero movies I would want to see. But Natalie Portman is my favorite actress, and she plays the eponymous hero’s love interest, so when it came on TV the other night, I figured I’d check it out.
The first thing that struck me was how bad the digital special effects were. The city of Asgard, where Thor (Chris Hemsworth), Odin (Anthony Hopkins) and the rest of the Norse Gods live looks like the City from The Wizard of Oz, only less believable. The enemy creatures that Thor and his comrades fight early on looked pretty fake, and of course, the color palette was the standard blue and orange that I’ve blogged about before.
The first half hour of the movie was pretty tedious, with lots of comic-book fights and bad special effects. The essence of it was this: Thor is persuaded by his brother Loki to attack the enemy “Frost giants”, but it turns out to be a huge mistake, and Thor is banished and deemed unworthy to wield his hammer. He is forcibly cast out of Asgard and crashes in the New Mexico desert, his hammer landing not far away.
At this point, we leave the hokey special effects behind for the most part, and the movie turns into an enjoyable romance between Thor and Dr. Jane Foster, (Portman) an astrophysicist who observes him crashing to Earth after his banishment.
Against the advice of her colleague, Dr. Selvig, Jane takes Thor to the site where his hammer has crashed. Meanwhile, Thor’s brother Loki is busy taking over Asgard while Odin is in a coma. (Or something. I had trouble following this part.) Loki, it becomes clear, has been orchestrating the whole thing to gain power.
Back on Earth, Thor tries but fails to pull the hammer out of the crater in which it is embedded. It becomes clear that, per Odin’s command, he is not worthy to wield the hammer. When this happens, Thor despairs and is taken into custody by government agents, who earlier had confiscated Jane’s scientific notes and equipment in order to study them.
Thor is rescued from them by Selvig, and is able to take back Jane’s notebook. He and Jane then share a romantic interlude, after which Thor’s friends from Asgard return to let him know of Loki’s treachery. Then Loki sends this big metal robot-soldier thing down to Earth to kill everyone.
Thor walks up to the robot and addresses Loki, asking him to spare the lives of Jane and her friends. In exchange, he tells Loki to take his life. The robot does so, and strikes Thor, knocking him to the ground. But, as Jane kneels over the apparently dying Thor, the hammer comes soaring out of the ground and flies into his hand, transfiguring him into the God of Thunder.
I won’t lie; it’s a powerful moment. Thor has become worthy, through sacrificing his life for his loved ones, to wield the hammer. Of course, he revives and is able to fight off the robot. He shares a passionate kiss with Jane before returning to Asgard to fight his treacherous brother.
Unfortunately, in the course of defeating Loki and waking Odin, Thor destroys the bridge between Asgard and Earth, meaning he and Jane are separated at the film’s end. But it ends on a hopeful note, with a shot of Jane and her friends making progress in their research into the portals between realms, and Jane smiling as Thor does the same across the Universe.
As I said, I don’t like superhero movies, but this isn’t a typical superhero movie. It was directed by the Shakespearean actor/director Sir Kenneth Branagh, and the Bard’s influence is quite clear. You have a Prince struggling to be worthy of the throne, a usurper taking the throne from the rightful King, and intrigues that lead to wars between kingdoms. It’s a strong, character-driven adventure story. The chemistry between Portman and Hemsworth is spectacular, and the supporting characters all hit just the right notes. The mood is light and adventurous, while still having some very powerful scenes. If you can get past the weak special effects, it’s a very enjoyable romp.
Longtime friend of this blog Maggie Jean, (aka “Thingy”) has written a book, entitled “Whaddya Know!” You can get it here, or by clicking the image below. Congratulations, Maggie!
The statue spoke with a voice that echoed for centuries
As we stood in that dread cosmic citadel.
Surrounded by the dying celestial bodies,
It pronounced its sentence upon me.
Was it all predetermined? said I,
And was answered only by silence.
I gazed again into the eerie twilight of infinity.
For minutes verging on eons, we drifted
Into the quiet certainty of decay.
I spoke again, knowing the question at last:
Could I have changed it?
A bell chimed in the blackness.
The Statue Spoke,
and all that remained of Creation spoke with it:
I looked at the darkness without
That was as Sol itself compared
To the darkness within.
I had known what it all meant
When I made my decisions.
I may have hoped otherwise–
But I had known.
No, I said finally.
All at once, the Fortress began to collapse,
And my Stony companion and I
Were left to the pitiless void.
And before the Universe and I felt each other snuffed out
That awful voice said to me:
Then it was you who predetermined it.
I’m not sure how many people will get this, but here goes. So, I was riding the bus the other day, and the fellow who stepped on in front of me was a massive, mustachioed fellow, and I instantly thought “My God, he looks exactly like Ignatius J. Reilly!” He really did–I mean he was dressed better than the protagonist of John Kennedy Toole’s strange comic novel, A Confederacy of Dunces, but he had the look and manner to a “T”.
What makes this extra funny is that a bus ride figures prominently in Reilly’s backstory. So not only did he look like Reilly, he was even in a situation like Reilly himself might be found in.
“A strange coincidence”, you say. So I thought too. But in itself, not the sort of thing worth posting about. Odd, but not really that odd–there are lots of heavy-set, mustachioed guys in the world.
But then, dear readers, we reached the realm of the truly uncanny.
It was about a 20 minute ride, and I was standing directly behind the Reilly doppelganger. During the 20 minutes, the bus stopped a few times, and two different passengers sat next to him. He conversed with both of them; though I got the sense he didn’t know either of them.
With the first passenger, he talked about theology. After that one left, he talked with the next one about geometry.
I swear I am not kidding. For those who haven’t read the book–and make no mistake, you have to read the book to truly understand this–Ignatius J. Reilly is always talking about how modern society needs “theology and geometry”. It’s like a running joke in the book, mostly because it seems like such an odd combination. And here was someone actually talking about these things.
I was waiting for the Twilight Zone music to start. It was one of the most surreal experiences I’ve ever had.
In this forest, each night seemeth haunted and dark;
The cold Autumn landscape relentlessly stark;
While the beasts of the night snarl and bark–
As in legends of Devils and Ghosts.
I can hear the melancholy wind as it moans,
Swirling around the trees and the stones,
Making the branches to rattle like bones,
As night birds cry out from their posts.
In the dying orange light of the fire
The shadows a-dancing begin to inspire
Shimmering shapes all dreadful and dire
Surrounding me here in my room.
I glance at the door, to be sure of the lock,
Another wind gust makes the cabin walls rock.
And I fancy I hear an inhuman voice talk
And whisper of pain and of doom.