Tuesday, February 6, 2007

Readin' on a jet plane

Seventeen hours. That’s a long time to be in a little plane seat. However, my 17-hour plane ride to Thailand was exponentially more comfortable than any of the 4-hour trips I took from Champaign to Newark, NJ. Seriously. I would much rather fly 10 hours to Japan than 4 hours to Atlanta (or wherever), and here’s why: International flights to Japan have 2 meals, 4 snack times, all the green tea and coffee you can drink, about 20 movies in a little monitor on the seat you can watch for free, and the plane is almost never over 1/3 capacity. This means that I had two seats to myself (as did everyone else) and got to watch shitty movies the whole flight and read books. I will now give a short review of the movies and books I read or watched on the flight.

1st book: Farnham’s Freehold. (by Robert Heinlein) Much to Paul and Brando’s surprise, I’m sure, is that I had never before read the Heinlein novel Farnham’s Freehold. It’s a surprise because the book is about a guy who constantly prepares for the apocalypse (nuclear war style) and is made fun of by his family. Right up until the Ruskies drop a couple of nukes on the city, and his preparation saves his family. The book’s first half is a paranoid survivalist’s wet dream. Heinlein, through use of his sci-fi creative license, bypasses all the nasty radioactivity problems of post-bomb survival and jumps right from nuclear shelter fallout time to Robinson Crusoe bear-fighting adventure during the book. I loved it. Right up until page 160. At page 160 Heinlein decides to drop some LSD and take us on a 60’s Star Trek Holodeck-esque adventure of super-futuristic lessons about racism, the corruptibility of those in power, and soylent green-style cannibalism. One thing that’s interesting is that he paints a picture where the Muslims take over the world after the western powers destroy each other, which I thought was very appropriate for the current political climate. Overall it was a good book and worth reading for anyone who likes to think about how you’d make clothes from grass. Needed zombies.

1st movie: Flyboys. WW1 pilots learn about bad French jokes and uninspired love stories! This movie was pure garbage, I mean, really, really bad. And I remember I wanted to go see it in the theater when it came out. I am extremely glad I didn’t pay to watch this trite piece of garbage. James Franco at his wors...well, his basic crappy performance.

2nd movie: Barbershop. Ice cube needs to save the family barbershop from the evil land developers! If the employees stopped making low-brow jokes about yo’ mama’s fat ass and actually cut some goddamn hair maybe they’d stay in business. I rooted for the land developers on this one.

3rd movie: Toy Story 2. Good enough. Its another inexplicable Toy Story adventure, where the Toys so love being enslaved by children they go through hair-raising adventures just so they can be manhandled by little kids. While I never understood the Toys motivation, it had a lot of funny parts and is a good movie to watch if your only other choices are bad romantic comedies starring Matt McConnaughy.

2nd book: The Blind Watchmaker. (by Richard Dawkins) This is staunch atheist Dawkins’ follow-up to The Selfish Gene. The feel-good book of the year for asshole scientists and skeptical rationalist smartasses. I loved it. Presents an excellent genetic hypothesis as to the evolution of morals in human societies. Long story short: Morals help keep your tribe alive longer, which is good for you.