Tuesday, September 22, 2009

I Almost Died at Six Flags.

Okay, I didn't actually almost die, but it felt like I was going to. And I will get to that story in a moment. Let me start by saying that I love Six Flags. I know I'm kind of supposed to be a grown-up at this point, but I'm not and I'm not sure that I ever will be. But I'd never been to Six Flags Great Adventure, only the ones in Texas, and I was not disappointed. The park was nice, and since we went in the middle of September, it was a nice, cool day and the park was only half full, which was a definite plus.

Though the themes in the park weren't as strong overall as I've seen in other parks, the rides more than made up for it. This ride to the left, is the Bizarro, and I'd have to say it was my favorite. I've realized that I love roller coasters, but I hate falling (take a look at the Kingda Ka, which there was no way in hell I was going to ride it) so the Bizarro was a perfect ride for me. It does take you up really high, but then rather than dropping you straight down, it kinda twists and rolls and then goes into loops. You go through mist, between two bursts of fire and around this freezing-misting-flashy thing (as pictured) and the whole time Bizzaro talks to you via speakers by the seats. We rode it twice. It was fabulous.

My next favorite ride was the Superman: Ultimate Flight, and I'm sure it was Rickey's favorite. Basically you get strapped in and then turned so that you're facing the ground, then you ride up the initial hill (I'm sure there's a technical term for it) and all the while you're just hanging, looking straight down with nothing underneath you, as you're pulled a couple hundred feet (if it hadn't been for that part, this ride would've been my favorite). It was all very intense cause your body is pulling you down and you know you're super strapped in, but it's still a little unsettling. But then as soon as the car goes over the peak and starts falling, the gravity sucks you up into your seat and you really feel like you are flying. It was bad ass. We wanted to ride it again but unfortunately we ran out of time.

There were a couple more pretty cool rides, but I'm going to skip all that and get to the terrifying stuff. The second ride of the day (and this is like 11:30 am) was the Nitro (as picutred). It was a very long, ups & downs type coaster, and it seemed pretty simple. One part in particular was too simple: the harness. As you can see in the picture, the only thing holding you in is a little lap thingy. Well, when you are taken up 22 stories, and then dropped at a 30 degree angle, that lap thingy really doesn't do the trick. You come up out of your seat, and you can feel the harness moving slightly, and I know it's safe and it's not going to spring open, but it sure didn't feel that way. Every little hill was completely terrifying and I just couldn't enjoy myself. Had there been those fun chest harnesses, I'm sure this would've been a cool ride.

Now for the almost death part. Rickey thought it would be fun to ride the little sky tram thing (as pictured) and I thought, sure, that'll be fun and nice. I think I rode one when I lived in Germany, but I don't remember. Well, we get in a car, and after we're about 20 feet off the ground it hits me-- I have a fear of open-air heights. I'm not confronted by it too often but when I am, I don't handle it well (it goes back to the whole falling thing). So I'm breathing and internally calming myself down and Rickey's all excited and looking at stuff, and I realize we're going to be fine. And then BAM! the whole track stops moving. So we're hanging there, the other track is moving fine but we're just stopped. Rickey assures me it will be fine, but as the minutes pass, and the douchebag kids passing us are making fun of us, I start freaking out. Eventually a man on the speaker tells us we'll be moving in a few minutes, but then a few minutes later he comes on again and it seems like it's going to take a long while.

After a few more minutes we start moving again, but very very slowly. And then we stop again. The first time we stopped, we were on one of the steel beams, so should something go terribly wrong we're at least hanging on something. The second time we stop, we're just out there on the line, and now we're near a car of freaked out teenage girls who won't shut up and are making me freak out even more. We hang there for a little while longer, and I'm clinging on to the center pole for dear life, but I'm trying not to show Rickey how completely terrified I am, because he's totally calm and cool and I'm positive he'll think I'm big weirdo. So eventually they get us moving again, but still very slowly, and we finally get pulled in and get off the car. And I couldn't be more relieved. I'm sure it all sounds completely stupid and irrational, and it probably is, but hanging in a little cage a hundred feet off the ground while experiencing technical difficulties, well, it was rather unsettling. We move away from the ride and Rickey asks if I'm okay, and I am, and it turns out, he was just as freaked out as I was, but he didn't want to worry me more by showing it. And it's good he did, because I would have lost my shit if I knew he was scared too.

So anyways, the other parts of the day were all fun and fabulous. We had delicious burgers, saw a super fantastic tiger show and just had solid fun all around. And as a kicker at the end of the day, we decided to try to and win something from the boardwalk. First we thought about a stuffed animal, but then realized those were stupid. And there were these superhero capes that you could win, but you can buy them for almost just as cheap. And then I saw one you couldn't buy, and you had to win: a University of Texas cape (which is where I went to school). So Rickey helped me play the basketball-shooter game, and he won it for me! It's totally rad. Six Flags=WIN.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Fables Casting Via Deadwood

I'm liking Fables less and less as the series goes on, but those first few volumes were really fantastic, and they have a special place in my comic book heart. So I'd been thinking of doing a Fables casting (especially with the shifting of power over at DC, there's a chance that this will be translated to TV or film), and a couple of actors from Deadwood popped into my head for certain characters. I then thought how cool would it be if everyone from Fables was pulled from the western epic, so here, enjoy.

(There are some potential Fables and Deadwood spoilers, so read with caution.)
Molly Parker (Alma Garrett) as Snow White-Alma ended up being a really interesting character in the show, and she balanced her soft, emotional side and her want to take her future(as well as the town's) into her own hands quite nicely. She held up as one of the leads, and whoever takes on the role of Snow White is going to have to do that.
Titus Welliver(Silas Adams) as Bigby-He didn't come on until later in the show, but he ended up being one of my favorite characters. He has the perfect balance of tough, sassy and quiet that I think really defines Bigby, plus the whole brooding and handsome thing.
Timothy Olyphant(Seth Bullock) as Prince Charming-I heart Timothy Olyphant. This doesn't really need much more commentary than that. I'm sure you all feel the same way, whether or not you've seen Deadwood.
John Eriksson (William Bullock) as Boy Blue-This is kind of a cheat, because he's really the only young kid on Deadwood, but he did a great job, and he's really sweet and innocent looking, so I'm sure it would work out.
John Hawkes(Sol Star) as Flycatcher-Fly is pretty reserved and quiet and in the background for a long time, but when he has his moment to step out, it's really nice. Hawkes very much played that role on Deadwood, and though he never really got to shine in an epic fashion, he had some really great moments and showed a lot of heart.
Ian McShane(Al Swearengen) as Pinocchio-This would probably be a voice-over kind of deal, but Pinocchio is so gruff and tough, even tough he looks like a little boy and I would just love to really push that with someone like McShane. He is the best.Gale Harold (Wyatt Earp) as Jack-He was only on the show for 2 episodes, but I've loved him so ever since Queer as Folk. He very much has that 'lovable rouge' thing going on, and can win the ladies over and swindle the fellas.
Kim Dickens (Joanie Stubbs) as Rose Red-On Deadwood, Kim Dickens played a character with a heart of gold who just couldn't get her shit together. And that's totally Rose Red. Also, she and Molly Parker could definitely pass for sisters.
W. Earl Brown (Dan Dority) as Weyland Smith-I loved Dan on the show. He's a great good 'ol boy, and he's tough and protective and does what needs to be done. He'd be a great Weyland.
Jeffrey Jones (A.W. Merrick) as King Cole-I always got this vibe that King Cole knew his shit, but was just a little flighty and out of touch. Enter the fabulous Jeffrey Jones (who up until Deadwood was only Lydia's dad in my mind).
Sarah Paulson(Miss Isringhausen) as Beauty-This casting is really more about everything that I've seen Sarah Paulson in. She's really beautiful, but very talented and I've never seen anything really badass in Beauty, but Paulson could probably make it so.
Garret Dillahunt (Francis Wolcott) as Beast-I feel the same way about Beast as I do about Beauty, but Dillahunt really pulled some awesome stuff out with his portrayal of Wolcott. He's not super beefy, so physically it's not quite a perfect fit, but I don't mind that.
Meghan Glennon (Lila) as Briar Rose-She didn't have a large role on Deadwood, but she pulled everything off quite well, and Briar Rose more than anything I think needs to be soft and sweet and feminine. She could totally do that.
Alice Krige (Maddie) as Frau Totenkinder-Totenkinder is awesome and you're quite sure which side of the fence she's on. The character of Maddie was very much the same way, and Alice Krige isn't super old, but I think she could really convey that creepily awesome vagueness.
Izabella Miko (Carrie) as Cinderella- So in the series, Cinderella is this super badass spy, and though Miko's character on Deadwood was nothing like that, she did really well. Her stint was short, but she went through a great deal of emotions so I'm sure she could pull it off. Plus she's got that awesome doll-like face.
Paula Malcolmson (Trixie) as Red Riding Hood/Baba Yaga-This casting is less about the first part, and more about the second. Baba Yaga hides in the form of this sweet young girl, only later to be revealed. Trixie on the show went through all kinds of levels of stuff, so I think she can do anything.
William Sanderson (E.B.Farnum) as Bufkin-Another voice-over job, William Sanderson was epic in his loserness. He's totally a down-his-luck, drunk flying monkey to be swarmed away.
Zach Grenier (Andy Cramed) as Kay- Kay is one of my favorite characters from the series, and if you've read it, you can understand why. Zach Grenier had some really great, compelling moments as Andy, so I would love to see him embody this character. He even kinda looks like him.
Powers Boothe (Cy Tolliver) as Blue Beard-Okay, Powers Boothe played a super badass, murderous character all the while being super charming and fabulous while he was on Deadwood. He's already played Bluebeard, he just doesn't know it yet.
Kristen Bell (Flora Anderson) as Goldilocks-Another short lived character, she was really great as the cute, sweet innocent girl who was actually something quite sinister. And that's what Goldilocks is in Fables.
Brad Dourif (Doc Cochran) as Gepetto-Brad Dourif was another of my favorites on Deadwood, and I was totally unfamiliar with him up until now. But he's epically awesome. And I don't want to get too spoilery, but Gepetto needs that kind of actor. It would be glorious.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Urban Malignancy

I recently read an article about the last surviving doctor who performs late-term abortions in America and I really recommend reading it. His name is Dr. Warren Hern and he seems like a really interesting person and what he's currently having to go through is quite saddening. But that's not what this post is about. In the article, there was mention of a paper Hern had written titled Urban Malignancy: Similarity in the Fractal Dimensions of Urban Morphology and Malignant Neoplasms (you can view the PDF file here, and I recommend you do because it's really interesting and I'm probably not going to do it justice). Basically the overall idea is that the way in which modern cities grow and develop is strikingly similar to the way malignant tumors and growths develop.

Here is an excerpt from the abstract that basically sums up the whole paper:
"From the point of the physician, the expanding, invasive, colonizing urban form with highly irregular borders resembles a malignant lesion. Malignant neoplasms have at least four major characteristics: rapid, uncontrolled growth; invasion and destruction of adjacent normal tissues (ecosystems); metastasis (distant colonization); and de-differentiation."
He lists these four qualities, because in order for a tissue irregularity to be deemed malignant, it must meet 2 out of 4 of them. He then spends the rest of the paper basically showing how modern cities meet all four.

He spends a long time talking about fractal geometry and about the fact that border irregularity is higher in tumors that are malignant as opposed to those that are benign. Similarly, the larger a city a grows, the more irregular the border becomes. Also, both urban communities and tissue malignancies send out satellites, suburbs or lesions respectively. Basically both urban communities and malignant tissues just grow out and out and out with no real purpose other than to just be, and if the main entity can't grow any larger, it sends out little ones to keep the growing going.

As for the de-differentiation (the simplification of cells and tissue to a simplified, unspecialized form), he mentions how once upon a time, ancient cities reflected the local culture in terms of layout and look. However, modern cities basically all look the same. There are of course minor difference, but the bigger a city gets, the more it tends to look like all the other bigger cities.

And of course, the main similarity between urban growth and malignant growth, is that it's just freaking rapid. He lists all kinds of specific examples and you can see in the photo above, how little time it takes for a city to just overwhelm an area. And here's an overall sum of the kind of growth he's talking about:
"Reflecting this is the fact that rapid urban growth has taken place in a context of unprecedented growth of the global human population, which has more than quadrupled in the century from the beginning of the twentieth century to the present-from 1.6 billion to more than 6.6 billion. The proportion of urban population, which was 220 million (13%) in 1900, has grown to 29% (732 million) in 1950, and 49% (3.2 billion) in 2005. By 2030, the 4.9 billion people living in urban agglomerations will represent 60% of the human population."
That's a lot of people in not a whole lot of time. And all of this ultimately is a metaphor, because no, urban cities are not cancers, but there are some really creepy similarities. It's hard to deny that any large city hasn't had a negative influence on the ecology surrounding it, and often even it's inhabitants. Malignant cancers grow and feed off the host until it is either treated or it kills the host. They grow and grow without stopping, until they are stopped by outside forces. What city has ever stopped growing unless it was physically stopped?

And here's the part that's somewhat unsettling:
"Death of the host organism in a cancer occurs between the 37th and 40th doubling of the cell population. The human population has doubled its numbers 32.5 times by 1999, but global energy use by human beings has doubled 36 times..."
I know I'm a massive cynic and I have a tendency to look for the bad in everything, but I'm pretty sure we're killing the planet. And I mean that in the least hippie-centric way possible.