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Brilliant Idea for a new Buddy-Road Trip Period Movie

Posted 2008.07.30 0.00 in Swords by Stephanie

I got this idea from a post in a thread on a forum about swords and armour. I sorely wanted to post it as a reply there, but it would be so far off topic… Here’s the gist of the post:

for example, in the icelandic saga of gunnlaug, we have Hrafn and Gunnlaug intent on dueling each other to the death. They try to fight in Iceland, only to have the ruling council there tell them no – no dueling here. illegal upon pain of death to duel here. so they agree to sail to norway to settle their differences but again, the earl there tells them no – no dueling here. so they wind up walking into sweden just so that they could come to blows. that is a heck of a long way to travel just to find a jurisdiction where they would be free to fight.

So here’s the angle – the movie version of Hrafn and Gunnlaug’s Saga: You’ve got two guys, strong, athletic, but also kind of cute and loveable in their fighting-and-pillaging kind of way. They get in a squabble about some perceived injustice, something kind of small and ridiculous, but it gets out of hand. Hrafn steps on Gunnlaug’s foot, or Gunnlaug crashes his cart through Hrafn’s fence or something. So, there are some insults, some bravado, one thing leads to another and swords are drawn. They’re gonna duel it out. But wait! No, not here. The ruling council forbids it. Well, these two get drinking and talking and finally they both put their foots down – their gonna do it. The fourth cousin of a friend of a guy Hrafn once drank with heard that there was dueling in Norway. So they’re gonna go to Norway and fight it out. To save cost and make sure neither back out, they’re gonna go together – on the same boat! Now you’ve got Hrafn and Gunnlaug, road tripping, getting into some wacky adventures – they end up having to save each other from the occasional predicament, because neither wants the other one to get dead before he can get a chance to have the darn duel! Finally, they reach Norway. Ready to Get It On! But no. The Earl forbids it. So they’re having a drink, telling the story to the innkeeper, and he says Oh – My wife’s no-good cousin had a friend who got killed in a duel in Sweden – you can duel there. So off they go, Hrafn and Gunnlaug, walking to Sweden. More whacky adventures ensue.

In the movie version, neither Hrafn or Gunnlaug actually die. They do get to have their duel, but it ends up in a draw – they battle it out for a full 5 or 10 minutes, first one then the other losing or breaking his sword, they resort to fists, and so forth. Finally, exhausted, the two are laying muddy and bruised in a ditch, panting.

Hrafn (panting): “Gunnlaug… I think I yield?”
Gunnlaug (panting): “Yield…not a chance…I won’t forgive… uh..”
Hrafn : “No…it is I who cannot forgive…ah…”
Gunnlaug (hesitant>: “Hrafn…I no longer remember, what we were fighting about.”
Hrafn : “Nor I. Let’s go home.”

In the director’s cut — or after the credits roll — the final scene will be Hrafn and Gunnlaug, back in their home village, where Gunnlaug buys drinks, but accidentally knocks one of the mugs over, pouring meade all over Hrafn. Hrafn jumps up in anger, going for his sword, saying something untoward about Gunnlaug’s mother. Gunnlaug goes for his sword too, demanding justice.
The end…

Categorization of Disaster Movies

Posted 2008.07.29 0.00 in Music/Movies/TV by Stephanie

Although the Disaster Movie genre is not my very favorite, it’s certainly one of them. It seems to me that in the 70s or 80s there were a few rather enjoyable films which fit this genre, and by and large, they seemed to fall into one of two main categories.

Type One Disaster Movies are the kind in which the calamity takes place during the first 25% of the film – usually within the first 15 to 30 minutes. The storyline then follows a group of survivors — typically their numbers dwindle as the movie progresses — and we gradually know more and more about the fewer and fewer characters, till the end of the movie when a handful reach safety. The Posiedon Adventure and Towering Inferno are, to me, the most typical of this class of disaster movie. To me, this category is designed primarily for suspense and ‘thrills’ as you follow the group through each step of progress or setback.

Type Two Disaster Movies are more rare, I think. These are the movies in which the majority of the film is spent introducing us to a group of select characters and a looming or growing crisis which threatens them. The actual disaster is saved for the latter 1/3 or 1/4 of the film, in which some of the characters we are to have become interested in are killed, and some of them survive. Part of the fun of this type is in trying to guess which of the characters will survive and which won’t. Score more points for guessing early, before you even know which ones you are supposed to be interested in. Interestingly, the best example of this category that I can think of offhand is Two Minute Warning, which most may not recognize as a disaster movie at all – the disaster is played by a man, rather than Nature or Technology. Nonetheless it is typical of the category, and the disaster does not occur until almost the end of the film. A more recent example that I would classify as a Type Two disaster film is Deep Impact. Also, virtually every episode of the documantary TV series Disasters of the Century fit in this category, as the show’s basic formula is to introduce a handful of real people, set up the disaster, then depict the disaster in the second half of the show, and finally reveal (through narration or interviews) who survived and who did not.

As with all ‘rules’ there will be exceptions. More recently, I have seen a trend towards a new Type Three Disaster Movie, in which the disaster is more of an on-going event. These start out like a Type One movie, in which we get to meet some characters then something terrible happens. The difference is, the Something Terrible continues to happen, or even gets worse, and we may or may not get new characters along the way. Initially the Type Three movies may feel more like Type One, and it may be argued that there shouldn’t be a third type at all. Or that Type One movies follow the Type Three formula – in Poseidon Adventure, the ship kept sinking, in Towering Inferno, the building kept burning. True. In both cases, however, the continuation of the primary disaster was just that – a continuation, not a prolonged main event. A good example of Type Three was the relatively recent Dante’s Peak, where the disaster was set up in the first 1/3 of the film, then continued as an ongoing event through most of the final 2/3s.Day After Tomorrow is another example of the type three, I think.

At one point I was thinking of expanding my categorization system to include some hybrid types, such as a One-Two (disaster occurs at the beginning, group struggles to survive, then gets wiped out at the end) or Two-One (1st half of the movie sets up lots of characters and threat, disaster in the middle, then 2nd half of movie follows the plight of some survivors – Earthquake comes to mind here) but at this stage I think these types do not need their own category; they may be viewed merely as unusual or malformed type ones or type twos – or even type threes, depending on how it plays out.

And one last comment – if you enjoy disaster movies, and you haven’t seen Two Minute Warning, do go and see it. It’s atypical of the disaster genre, but there is a large cast of familiar actors, and a lot of them get wiped out in the end. Classic Type Two disaster.

Soon to be posted on my office door…

Posted 2008.07.24 0.00 in Work by Stephanie

office door warning sign

Buddy the baby Skunk

Posted 2008.07.16 0.00 in Family/Friends by Stephanie

I was wandering around my house after work today, not sure what to do with myself, and ended up out in the backyard looking at the plants in the garden. When I turned to head back inside, I spotted a little tuft of black and white fur on the ground at the corner of my deck. For a moment I thought someone had thrown a hat or stuffed toy into my yard. Then I approached, and felt a bit of fear, that maybe this was a little wounded kitty…

No…cat’s don’t have those two white stripes. I remember the cartoons, from when I was young. TV might not be a great teacher, but it did teach me the archetypal details of skunks. And that they are cute.

This one was not being as cute though. He was being kind of still, kind of curled up, and kind of…well dusty. Yet… still a skunk, so I decided to proceed with caution. A few moments of careful observation revealed that he was indeed breathing. A few more moments of contemplation, and I knew the best thing to do was call the animal control folks. I put the call in, they took down the info, and then all I had to do was wait.

Only… He just looked so… I couldn’t just wait. I couldn’t just go inside, close the door, and let him be Someone Else’s Problem.

I stayed with him (from a distance), talked to him a bit, then finally got up the gumption to get him some water. It’s been such a hot, dry day that I thought maybe he was just starved, dehydrated. Certainly, I could see no wounds or injuries. Not a dog-bite or car-hit victem, so far as I could tell. So, a dish of water. But still – skunk.

I ended up placing a little saucer of water down about 5 feet from him, then using a long stick, I slid the saucer along the ground till it was right by his nose. At first, nothing…

After some minutes, he started to move. He was lifting his head, sniffing the air. He could tell there was water. He figured out where it was, and tried getting to it. This both broke my heart and made me hopefull, all at once. He kept trying to get his head up and over the edge of the saucer. It was only about a centimeter up, and a centimeter over, but it took Buddy about 4 tries. Four times, he got so close, then he just slumped down, exhausted…

Finally though, he did it! He got his chin onto the edge of the saucer and started drinking. Skunks have cute little pink tongues and drink like cats. They don’t look like cats though. As an aside, up close, Buddy looked like much more like a squirrel than a cat. Anyhow – he drank, and drank, and drank. For a few minutes. He seemed to get stronger very quickly, he sat up completely and kept drinking. I was very happy, and told him so.

After he had a good drink and got some strength back, he started to move – but he was heading in the direction of the street! After a few feet, he fell over. He moved as if drunk, or exhausted… Again, I was both hopefull (movement!) but heartbroken (staggering, collapsing)… Plus, I was now worried that he’d either wander into the road, or wander infront of some passers-by, or a neighbor. Folks don’t like skunks and get all wierded out by them. I was afraid he’d end up in even worse shape. However – still, skunk. Wild and sick sunk.

I happened to have a small recycling box nearby, and a bit of cardboard. Without touching him, and without putting myself in too much risk (he really did not look like he had much left in him) I was able to negotiate him into the bin. I didn’t want to keep him there though, it was kind of backyard grubby and had no lid. So, I grabbed a cat carrier. Due to another sad story, I have three cat carriers and only two cats. I took the extra cat carrier, and again without touching him or putting myself at much risk, I was able to negotiate him into the carrier. Once inside, I closed the door so he wouldn’t be able to wander off or get into any other troubles.

The cat carrier was clean, had some padding to make it comfortable, and was sort of dark and covered. I think once he settled down he was able to relax a bit. Skunks live in dens or holes or something and the carrier box probably helped him feel a bit more safe and protected, rather than being sprawled in the open in the yard.

Finally the person from animal control arrived. She was very nice, and more than a little surprised that I had offered the skunk water and got him all carefully put into a carrier. After I had explained all the details I could, all his symptoms and everything I observed, she was able to determine what the most-likely problem was. She also could see that he was just a wee baby. Were he in good health, he’d have been stomping around in the carrier, full of piss-and-vinegar, trying to spray us both down…

Unfortunately, that was pretty much the extent of how far we could help him. I guess the important thing is that in the end, his final time was spent in comfort, with some clean water in his tummy, and a companion who cared for him. He was loved, and although he is gone, he will be remembered.

I would also like to once again thank the lady from animal control. She was very compassionate and I am very sorry that I didn’t think to ask her name. I’m sure some folks could have been all business, just ‘where is it’ and ‘kthanksbai’. But she took the time to listen as I told her everything I could, and then patiently explained the situation and what was going to have to happen. So, anonymous animal control lady, thank you very much.

Buddy, the baby skunk
Not a great picture, but the only one I had the chance to take.