Christmas is gone

Hope everyone had a great Christmas!

I didn’t get the BB gun I wanted, but I would have shot my eye out anyway.

I did get some great stuff though, including the extended editions of the Lord of the Rings movies, which I haven’t seen before. I watched The Fellowship of the Ring yesterday and loved it. I love all the bonus materials as well, so I spent a good deal of the day watching it. I think one of the keys to the film is the use of miniatures; they didn’t just use a bunch of CGI. The use of miniatures still makes images seem much more realistic and tangible. Watching how the film used miniatures just made me want to be a director and direct a film with miniatures.

I also got a couple computer games: Rome: Total War and SimCity Societies, which have been fun so far… I want to play them right now, in fact. I think Spore is set to come out in 2008, I believe, which will be the best computer game in history, but I just hope my 3.5 year old computer will be able to run it.

Finally, I got a 3-CD set collection of Mozart. Some music purists hate compilations, believing “movement 2” of something should not be separated from “movement 1” and “movement 3”, but I believe a single movement can still very much be enjoyed by itself. It’s not like a chapter out of a book sitting by itself because a piece of music has no meaning, but some people don’t believe that.

Finally, I must mention that I saw Sweeney Todd before Christmas and was very very pleased, despite Johnny Depp not being able to sing very well. Tim Burton’s vision worked perfectly for the story, and the over-the-top goriness created a good sense of dark humor mixed with dismal seriousness. It didn’t really have disgusting violence like Saw III did; it was kind of silly and unrealistic blood spurting, though it still wasn’t completely comic. I thought it worked well for the story though; if you listen to the lyrics, they too were filled with a mix of silliness and seriousness. I loved it.

Winter break begins

The semester is finally over and I’m free for a month! There’s lots I’d like to do, but only a little I’ll actually do… because that’s the way life is.

I got the complete series of Firefly for my birthday and I watched the first episode last night… it was great! Even better than the film Serenity, which is based on the series. Can’t wait to watch the rest of the series over the next month. I was pleasantly surprised by how good the special effects were. I was expecting to have to settle with cheap corny effects that sometimes prevail on TV sci-fi shows, but I didn’t have to. Awesome. Yay. Blah blah.

According to Wikipedia, the creator of Firefly, Joss Whedon, is producing another show called Dollhouse for FOX. Wikipedia says that the premise for the show is:

In Dollhouse, Dushku plays a young woman named Echo, one of a group of men and women who can be neurally imprinted with “personality packages,” encompassing things such as memory, muscle memory, skills, and language. Sheltered in a secret futuristic dormitory/laboratory named the “Dollhouse,” these individuals are imprinted with customized personas for performing any of a wide variety of assignments, which can be romantic, adventurous, outlandish, illegal, etc. After completing an assignment, they are mind-wiped into a child-like state with no memories. The series follows Echo as she begins to develop a persistent memory and self-awareness across imprints and wipes. Beyond Dushku’s character, the show will also revolve around the people who run the mysterious “dollhouse” and two other “dolls,” a man and woman who are friendly with Echo. Then there’s the federal agent who has heard a rumor about the dolls, and is trying to investigate their existence.

Personally, I think that sounds pretty awesome! Of course, it’s the treatment of the idea that really matters, it could easily be destroyed, but the idea itself is inspiring. So… I look forward to this show, if and when it ever happens.

Sweeney Todd comes out tomorrow, hopefully I’ll get to it on Friday or Saturday pulling along any family members I can. Been looking forward to the movie since I learned about its being made back in March. Woohoo!

I still don’t have all my Christmas shopping done, hopefully will by tonight, though I sort of fear the stores may not have exactly what I want…

It was all just a dream…

If at the end of a story it turns out that it was all just a dream or a vision, why does that anger so many people? The whole thing itself was just a movie, or just a book! Why does such an ending make the story seem less valid?

I’d agree that such an ending is worthless if it’s used only as a “twisted ending” attempt; it has to have meaning to the story.

Also, I think audiences are more willing to accept the “it was all just a dream” ending in comedy, though I’m not quite sure why.

This whole issue is probably wrapped up in the subject of “the suspension of disbelief” … the psychological relationship between audiences and a work of art; usually some form of a fictional story.

In its article on “the suspension of disbelief”, Wikipedia says:

Gary Larson discussed the question with regard to his comic strip, The Far Side; he noted that readers wrote him to complain that a male mosquito referred to his “job” sucking blood when it is in fact the females that drain blood, but that the same readers accepted that the mosquitoes (in “fact”) live in houses, wear clothes, and speak English.

I’d love to read a good book exploring the suspension of disbelief… anyone know of any? I’m particularly interested in a more narrow subject: the relationship between an audience member and the main character. Joseph Campbell’s The Hero With A Thousand Faces provides some clues, but his book is more about the common similarities found in stories (heroes’ journeys) from around the world and doesn’t really seek to identify the psychological reasons the similarities exist in the first place. (He does sometimes, sort of, in The Power of Myth, but to me it seems like he just blathers about his personal guesses more than anything else.)

Something to think about…