Friday, May 09, 2008

Pop Culture Roundup

As I mentioned the other day, I started N.T. Wright's Simply Christian, and since writing that entry I haven't made it any further into the book. That other entry may make it seem like I don't like the book too much, but that wouldn't be accurate. In the first two chapters, Wright has first argued that all humanity has an internal compass of justice (basically the philosophical Argument from Morality) and that all humanity has certain spiritual tendencies as well. I never really bought into the Argument from Morality (the notion that our natural sense of right and wrong proves that God exists) because I don't think it adequately addresses environmental factors in which people are nurtured. Unless one whittles things down to a very bare argument that people tend to believe that certain things are good and other things are bad without getting into specifics about which things fall into either category, this argument doesn't always work that well. Anyway, the book is doing what I want it to do, namely getting me to argue with it.

We watched I Am Legend this week, and to be honest, I didn't really like it. This is the Will Smith movie about a scientist living alone in a post-plague New York, trying to find a cure for the virus that has turned people into animalistic cannibals (some reviews call them "zombies," which is wrong because they aren't dead...or undead...or whatever). The other important thing to know is that these infected people can't go out in the light because it burns their skin. I think that my biggest problem with the movie was the portrayal of the infected. We're supposed to think of them as very devolved, lower-brain creatures, and yet in certain scenes they seem to have a leader and one of them sics attack dogs (also infected) on Smith's character [I've since learned that in the book the creatures are more intelligent, in which case the movie can't seem to make up its mind]. Besides that, they're computer animated, which would have been easier to buy into if they weren't supposed to look so human. The mummies in
The Mummy? Okay. The skeletons and fishpeople in the Pirates movies? Fine. But these are supposed to be still pretty close to human-looking, and they come off very cartoonish. The best scenes are the ones with Smith all by himself, when the movie explores his loneliness and his desperation to find a cure.

We also watched Futurama: Bender's Big Score, which is the feature-length DVD that just came out within the past year with the reunited cast. The professor is tricked into signing over the delivery service to some internet-scamming aliens. The aliens find a Bender-shaped tattoo on Fry's butt showing binary code for time-travel ability. Bender, meanwhile, is reprogrammed to do the aliens' bidding, so he goes back in time repeatedly to steal famous treasures for them. The time travel stuff is also used to re-attach Hermes' head to his body, and Fry goes back repeatedly for various reasons as well. After a while, the time-traveling stuff started to grate. The writers did manage to cram most of the regular side characters into the plot, so kudos for effort there. I read on Wikipedia that this movie was actually the first of four that will be produced, which is good, because the ending was pretty bleak.

I discovered a TV show last night on Animal Planet called Creature Comforts. It originated in Britain; this is the U.S. adaptation. The concept is that they interview people all over the country, and then match up what they say to Claymation animals. Of course, the animals give the interviews a totally different context. In one, an ant complains that her supervisor never notices her. In another, two cockroaches talk about how hard it is to live in an urban environment. It's great. You have to watch. Seriously.

Around the web, here's a game
where you tranquilize runaway sheep.