It was a soggy weekend. Mild, but it rained more or less non-stop. Since we aren’t caught up in the pre-holidays rush, we took it easy. Thought we’d stay in, but ended up going to our favorite pizza place for supper on Saturday. My wife asked me if there were any movies I wanted to see. There was one, and it started in fifteen minutes. Fortunately, we were only a block from the theater.
I was surprised to learn later that In the Heart of the Sea “flopped” during its opening weekend. It may not be Citizen Kane, but we enjoyed the heck out of it. I thought that some of the matte paintings that formed the background of Nantucket looked stage-y, but once the adventure got out onto the open ocean, everything worked. The whale, when it puts in its appearance, is convincing and terrifying, but there’s also the various survivor stories. We came away feeling like we got our money’s worth.
The movie is based on the real events that inspired Melville to write Moby-Dick. It has as a framing device Melville calling upon one of the survivors of the Essex, an older man who was but fourteen at the time of the incident. The man is reluctant to speak about his experiences but his wife, some cash and some liquor all conspire to loosen his tongue and he reveals the darkest secrets of that long-ago misadventure. For some strange reason we’ve been watching and/or reading a lot of nautical adventures lately, so this one played into an ongoing theme.
This was the first time we experienced DBox, those theater chairs that rock you around to enhance the viewing experience. I wondered if we’d be tossed about like ships on the ocean, but the usage was mild and didn’t really contribute much. I don’t think I’d pay extra for it in the future.
We also watched a Netflix documentary called Chaos on the Bridge. It’s a 60-minute documentary written and directed by William Shatner that explores the problems Star Trek: The Next Generation had during the first couple of years of its run. Brian Keene mentioned it as a cautionary tale about the perils of writing for TV, and when you hear how many writers left the show or were fired in the first couple of years, you’ll see why. It was a power struggle among massive egos with vastly different visions of what the series should be about, and the show only got on its true course with new blood (including Michael Piller, father of Haven’s Shawn Piller) and a better vision in its third season. Nautical connection: Captain Horatio Hornblower—those were the books given to Patrick Stewart when he wanted to know more about his character.
Fargo ended on a solid note. The ties to season 1 crystallized, and the fates of the various characters resolved, though I still wonder if Peggy got her room with a view of San Francisco Bay’s pelicans. Some wag offered the opinion that Ted Danson’s character invented emojis, which is pretty funny. Was it better than Season 1? I never know how to resolve issues like that, but I think so. It felt more invested in humanity.
Lots of other shows coming to a close soon. The Affair—they’re sure trying hard to make us think that Noah was the hit-and-run driver. Why else all those visions on the road? Homeland—it’s up to Carrie to save Berlin next week. Haven—the two-hour series finale this week. The Returned—I wonder how much of this convoluted story they can clarify in one more episode. I want to at least know more about Victor/Louis. Where he comes from, what he is, really. Creepy, creepy kid. Survivor—I’ll have to work hard to avoid spoilers because I rarely see the show live. And we get a one-off Luther this week, too.
I read a short story collection by Joyce Carol Oates (The Doll-Master and Other Tales of Terror) and am in the midst of another by Joe R. Lansdale (Hap and Leonard). I also read Ernest Hemingway: The Last Interview, which actually consists of two real interviews and a couple of interview attempts, all of which took place while Hemingway still lived in Cuba. It was interesting to compare some of the things Hemingway said between the two formal interviews. He definitely had pat answers that he delivered in certain contexts, and he was irascible and testy at times, impatient with stupid questions and totally unwilling to discuss writing in any detail. This is the second book in this series that I’ve read recently (the other was about Ray Bradbury, thus the call-out in this post’s title), and they’re well worth exploring. This one was only 90 pages and I was able to read it in an evening.
Here are some recent reviews, books that I read during our cruise: Even Dogs in the Wild by Ian Rankin, Career of Evil by Robert Galbraith, The Crossing by Michael Connelly, and Dead Wake by Erik Larson.