M.A. Van Wey Travel & Photo


Random thoughts about Avatar
March 29, 2010, 11:33 am
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Of course I was skeptical at first, the movie sounded interesting but the hype surrounding it’s release was dubious.  One of the main reasons I ignored my doubts was the director.  James Cameron has been one of my favorite directors for a long time, perhaps since I watched Aliens for the first time.  I’ve probably watched Aliens, Terminator 2, and The Abyss more times than any other movies, barring Goonies.  I think I find such satisfaction with his movies because the way he creates this tight, comprehensive, completely engrossing world.  His favorite movies of mine are always incredibly detailed and believable, and always use a satisfying balance of character development, plot development and action.  Avatar fit right in with these classics and perhaps even surpassed them.

Jennifer and I went to Bangkok and had the opportunity to watch the 3D version.  I haven’t seen a 3D movie since I was maybe 10 years old and had to wear paper glasses that irritated me more than anything.  The 3D was really cool, definitely worth the extra dollar.  There was even a moment when the Navi were climbing the floating mountains, jumping from ledge to ledge, where I had an intense sensation of vertigo.  After that scene I was completely in awe of the 3D experience, amazed that it could trick my mind into feeling like I was looking over a thousand meter void and actually about to jump it.

The movie was excellent; I was completely sucked in from the opening scene.  I loved every bit, from the hard-ass corporal, the gunships and Mechwarriors, to the tree hugging Navi shamans and their Taruk-Makto.  I believe the movie touched on something that many people, maybe most people, are only vaguely aware of yet is deeply ingrained in our genetic memory.  The Navi have a connection with their planet and everything living on it depicted as a physical bond, our human ancestors (ancient Greeks, Native Americans, etc) had an emotional and spiritual bond with their planet, today we have but a vague or non-existent bond.  I think many people sense that empty space, where there was once a deep appreciation for our environment, our co-inhabitants, and our place in the system.  Maybe this is just a personal response (I did spend 5 formative years in Boulder), but the movie summarized very compellingly the direction we’ve been going for the few hundred years and its consequences.  Avatar was obviously a big budget undertaking, yet it was far more edgy and socially stirring than anything I’ve seen put out in the past with that kind of money behind it.  Anyways, I loved the movie and have since watched it 3 more times (at home).

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Too Hot to Think
March 8, 2010, 11:08 am
Filed under: Travel Abroad | Tags: , ,

Moving to a tropical climate is more difficult than I had imagined.  I’ve always liked to walk around in shorts and flip flops; while I was at boarding school in New England I had a hard time giving them up and would frequently don them despite the freezing temperatures and snow.  In Thailand, shorts and flip-flops are as ubiquitous as tight jeans and converse in Seattle, which makes me very happy.  Unfortunately though, even in shorts and flip-flops the heat is oppressive.

When I first arrived in Bangkok the heat was intense, but after a week or so I started getting used to it.  I thought I had the heat under control until about a month ago, when temperatures started averaging 40 Celsius (104 Fahrenheit).  The problem with heat like this isn’t the sweating, I’ve gotten used that after only a few weeks in Thailand.  In fact I’ve come to expect that if I make any sort of athletic movement I’ll start sweating profusely.  I’m used to the permanently sweaty upper lip.  In a strange kind of way, I like the sweatiness of everything.  It makes me feel alive, active, like an animal (even if I’m just sweeping the porch).  No the problem is not sweat, but rather the cloud it casts over your mental clarity and calmness.  Perhaps this too is something that one can get used to, but I’ve been struggling with it these last few weeks.

When it’s 40 degrees out, it’s too hot to think.  My mind fails to make its usual neural connections, like the synapses have been filled with putty and nothing is getting through.  Motivation drops off precipitously, making it difficult to do the simplest things.  It’s difficult to feel calm when your mind and body are reeling from the heat.  Some things are numbed by the heat, others are aggravated.  Eventually the heat will taper off a bit when the monsoon’s start around May.  Hopefully then I’ll regain some of my lost sanity and creative drive.  In the meantime, I’m slowly baking my brain into useless custard under the Thai sun.  I hear in the coming months 45 degrees Celsius is not uncommon.