Random Thoughts by Alan Decker

This past Thursday was Thanksgiving here in the United States, and it seems to be somewhat traditional this time of year for bloggers, pundits, random people on Facebook, and the like to talk about what they’re thankful for.

I’m not going to do that (Feel free to be thankful for this, if you'd like.).

Instead, I’m going to take this time to discuss several bits of miscellanea that have been rattling around my brain for the last several weeks:

  1. My house gets its water from a well, and a couple of weeks ago (after dealing with exceptionally low water pressure for a month or so) I learned that I had a leak in the pipes that take the water from the well into my home (And yes, this WAS very soon after I had to replace the starter in my car.  Thank you for asking.).  As these pipes were under a concrete patio, I ended up having to have new pipes run to the house.  This meant that I didn’t have running water for two days.  It’s a strange feeling.  I realized that I take water completely for granted and that our easy access to it is really a luxury.  I don’t camp and I’m not big on roughing it, so I ended up going to a hotel for the night (I also thought my coworkers would appreciate it if I’d had a shower before coming into the office).  The whole thing wasn’t exactly a hardship, but it did make me far more cognizant of the fact that the water I use in my house doesn’t just magically appear.
  2. I think it’s time for me to finally admit that I didn’t like “The Dark Knight Rises.”  I enjoyed pieces of it, and I was a big fan of “The Dark Knight.”  Neither of those things mean that “The Dark Knight Rises” was a good movie.  When plot hole after plot hole have to be explained away by fans (Bruce’s disappearing limp, for example), something’s wrong.  What bothered me more was that “Rises” completely undercut the end of “The Dark Knight.”  At the end of that film, Jim Gordon makes this speech to his son about how, even though the police would be hunting Batman, he is Gotham’s silent guardian and watchful protector.  Based on “Rises,” though, Bruce went home after Dark Knight and hung up his cowl.  Sure the death of Harvey Dent increased support for the police and helped with Gotham’s crime problem, but I can’t imagine it eliminated it altogether.  Batman was still needed.  My biggest problem with “Rises” really extends through the entire trilogy.    The Bruce Wayne in these films just isn’t that smart.  He’s certainly not the brilliant detective we’re used to from the comics or Batman: The Animated Series.  He walks into obvious traps and seems to be more of a blunt instrument than anything else.  He doesn’t defeat Bane in “Rises” through cunning.  His plan to deal with the big guy boils down to punching Bane in the mouth really hard…in broad daylight.  I’m sorry but Batman looks silly running around in the daytime.  In the end, though, it really comes down to whether or not I was entertained by “The Dark Knight Rises,” and overall I wasn’t.  Despite that, I’d definitely go see a movie with Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s John Blake taking over as Batman.
  3. Since I’m on the subject of movies based on DC comic book characters, I have another admission to make: I had more fun watching “Superman Returns” than “Man of Steel.”  “Returns” has a ton of problems, and Kate Bosworth is possibly the most boring Lois Lane ever put to film.  Still, Kevin Spacey’s Lex Luthor is far more vibrant than anyone in “Man of Steel,” and I would argue that the plane rescue in “Returns” is a better action sequence than anything in “Man of Steel.”  Sure, “Returns” can’t come near the level of destruction in “Man of Steel,” but Zack Snyder managed to make demolishing most of a city kind of boring.  I also have two questions. First, was anybody else reminded of Mr. Incredible fighting one of Syndrome’s Omnidroids when Superman was battling the world engine?  And second, why does he even bother with the secret identity?  By the end of the movie, doesn’t pretty much everybody know he’s Clark Kent?
  4. I am amazed by the human brain’s ability to remember song lyrics.  I can’t remember what I’m going to the store for unless I write a list, but if I hear the first few chords of The Go-Go’s “Head Over Heels,” I can sing the whole song.  Of course, I love that song (I also had a thing for Belinda Carlisle), and I’ve listened to it a lot.  It makes sense that I’d know it.  But this same thing holds true for songs that I wasn’t as big a fan of and that I haven’t heard for years.  Boyz II Men’s “Motownphilly” came on a few weeks ago, and, even though I’m pretty sure I haven’t heard that song since the mid-90s, I still knew every word.  How?  How can I do that and not remember five minutes after I’ve left the house that I need to pick up hamburger buns?
  5. There are now almost seven billion people on the planet.  While I get that conservation of mass isn’t a hard and fast law when it comes to things like relativity and quantum mechanics, it’s still generally true.  That means that since the year 2000, when Earth was around the six billion people mark, matter and energy from various sources has been converted into another billion people.  I know that’s a gross oversimplification of the concept, but, like the water in my house, none of us just magically appeared.  We’re made out of stuff that was once other stuff.  Neil deGrasse Tyson puts it far better than I do, though:

“Recognize that the very molecules that make up your body, the atoms that construct the molecules, are traceable to the crucibles that were once the centers of high mass stars that exploded their chemically rich guts into the galaxy, enriching pristine gas clouds with the chemistry of life. So that we are all connected to each other biologically, to the earth chemically and to the rest of the universe atomically. That’s kinda cool! That makes me smile and I actually feel quite large at the end of that. It’s not that we are better than the universe, we are part of the universe. We are in the universe and the universe is in us.”

The universe was also in that turkey I ate a couple of days ago, which may explain why I’m still feeling full.  On the upside, star stuff goes quite well with gravy.

- Alan Decker

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