I know that I am guilty of driving past a stranded motorist on the side of the road.  In the age of ubiquitous cell phones, I can almost safely assume that a person sitting out of traffic has called a friend or AAA or a towing service, or in the Atlanta area on the highways that a HERO vehicle will be along shortly.  I consider this to be acceptable.  Especially in the middle of the day, off the side of the road, this person is very likely to be okay.

However, when a car is stalled and is blocking traffic, I usually pull up and ask if they need help.  Most of the time they say no, whether because they don’t need help or because the bald goatee’d strange guy is asking I don’t know, but at least I’ve asked.  Occasionally, people even say yes, and I help them.  Not often, because the truth is that it is fairly rare for a car to actually die completely in traffic and not be able to get off the road.  I’ve had cars die a few times, but in almost every case I was able to limp them off the road.

Yesterday, the wife’s car died while waiting at a stop light.  She called me, I told her to call the service station we use and have them send a truck, and then I packed up my stuff and left work to go help.  In the time it took me to get there, more than 20 minutes, many cars had gone by her honking and yelling.  One guy did help her slightly, and pushed her car forward enough that people could get around her easier, but didn’t help her get out of the road.  After I got there, I witnessed a large number of people continue to honk and yell and drive around.  I tried to move the car myself, but it was slightly uphill and I wasn’t going anywhere.  Then a guy in a truck towing a trailer asked if we needed help.  I said yes, he actually drove to a nearby gas station, parked, and ran back over to help.  The two of us pushed the car through the intersection and into a turn lane out of traffic.

For well over a half hour, the wife sat in traffic as people honked and yelled, complaining and upset at the jam her dead car was causing.  Out of all of those people, only two bothered to help.  I find this indicative of most people in general.  They would rather sit and complain about something being crappy rather than to actually take action to try to make it less crappy.  So many people would rather be the victim than the hero if being the hero means they have to actually do something.

Indiana Jones and the City of Gold

No, this isn’t news about some lame 5th Indiana Jones movie, nor is it an announcement of an upcoming video game. What follows is simply how I would have done the 4th Indiana Jones movie instead of what got made: Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. Some elements will be very similar to the movie you know, but other elements will be radically different. So, sit back and enjoy and I regale you with the tale of how Dr. Henry Jones Jr. gets mixed up with El Dorado…

We open on the Paramount logo, which fades into a slide projected picture in class. A teacher lectures, a door opens, and a boy about 17 or 18 years of age, wearing a leather jacket, sticks his head into the room. “May I help you, young man?” “I’m looking for Dr. Jones.” We follow the boy as he heads down the hall, a class lets out, “Dr. Jones?” he asks of someone, they point him into the class room. He enters, but no one is there, the door on the far side of the room shuts. He follows, out among the students, across the quad, and to the office on Dr. Henry Jones Jr. – Archeology. The interior is filled with students, the boy asks the secretary if Dr. Jones is in and she indicates he’ll need to wait. The boy looks unhappy with that answer and leaves.

Inside Jones’ office, he and the dean are speak. Dr. Jones has passed up another opportunity for field work, the dean says, “I know the past couple of years have been rough, with the loss of your father and Marcus” (cut to photos on the desk) “but you can’t hide in your classroom, and the University needs its head Archaeologist to go out and occasionally discover something, or at least research and publish.” They talk more leaving Henry under the orders that he has to find something else beyond just teaching his classes. The dean leaves. Just as Jones relaxes a little, the boy climbs in his window.

The boy introduces himself as Walt Williams, and explains he needs to talk to him about Harold Oxley… we get some back story here about how after Walt’s dad died, he and his mom, Mary, stayed with Oxley. Some months ago, Oxley went to South America in search of something. A couple months later, his mother got a letter asking her to come down and bring some things with her. That was a couple weeks ago that she left, and Walt got a letter from his mother telling him to find Dr. Henry Jones at Barnett College, which he did. Walt says, “Look, there’s more. Can we go somewhere?” Jones looks at his door and we hear the sounds of people waiting to see him. Both men leave through the window.

At a diner, they talk a little more, Oxley was looking for El Dorado, the City of Gold. The letter from his mother said Oxley was in trouble, there are some notes in the margins which Walt thinks might refer to some of Oxley’s books. Jones notices a couple men in suits watching them, one has a gun. They get up to leave, the suits get up to block them, Jones has Walt start a fight to cover their escape. A chase scene ensues with several men in suits trying to catch them. They evade capture.

Map overlay – travel to Chicago.

At Oxley’s home, they quickly run through the clues on the letter. Those written within the letter give them info on where to find them, Mary and Oxley, where they’ve gone. The clues in the margin which are more difficult indicate that Jones should not come. He’s about to tell Walt to take the location information to the US Embassy to get the authorities involved when he discovers that Mary Williams is actually Marion Ravenwood. He agrees to go, although Walt has his doubts that Jones is going to able to do much if his mother really is in trouble.

Map overlay – travel to Peru.

Here they find where Marion and Oxley have been and where they were headed. Again they are followed by men in suits who now have thugs in more casual attire as well as native guides. They discover they need to go to Brazil after sorting through what they find (at one point, Walt slips a small sack into his backpack when Indy isn’t looking), and Indy says he “knows a guy” who can probably help them. Indy meets up with Jock (pilot from the opening scenes of Raiders) who says he can’t fly Indy to Brazil, but puts him in touch with a group who will take him by truck. Unknown to Jock, the guys he knows are working with the men in suits.

Map overlay – travel to Brazil.

Indy and Walt get out of the truck and find themselves surrounded. Pull back to show the men in suits, Indy appears to look around, beyond the men and says, “Didn’t you guys lose?” and gets hit with the butt of a gun. Pull back farther to reveal their camp, complete with Nazi symbols.

Dr. Jones wakes up restrained, bound at the hands and feet. The Nazi in charge explains that Indiana Jones is somewhat of a legend among the SS, while historians may decide that many different things lead to the downfall of the Third Reich, those with the knowledge know that ultimately it was the denial of true power… the Ark, the Grail… that lead to their defeat. He explains that when they find El Dorado, they will have all the money they need to rebuild, to start the Fourth Reich, that thanks to ODESSA many officers of the SS are in South America just waiting for the call to arms, that when they rise, Germany, though defeated, will stand behind them again. But in order to win, they need to fulfill the prophesy, to bring the Crystal Skull to the City of Gold, and that they were just waiting for Jones to bring them the skull. “Well, you’re out of luck, if it exists, I don’t have it.” “No?” The Nazi opens Walt’s bag, opens the small sack from Peru and reveals the skull. “The best part, Dr. Jones, is that in the past, we have needed you… to find the Ark, to find the Grail… but the Fourth Reich, to find El Dorado, we have Dr. Oxley, so we don’t need you.” They pack up most of camp, load Walt into a truck and the Nazi tells Jones, “I’d kill you myself, Dr. Jones, but I’m afraid someone else will get that honor.” and they load him into a different truck. The main group heads off one way, Jones’ truck head in another.

Action scene, Jones fights men in truck and turns it around.

The Nazi brings Walt and the skull to a new camp, Walt is reunited with Marion and the skull is given to Oxley. Marion asks when Jones is, Walt says that he was to be executed. Marion gets very angry. Walt and Marion are locked up. The Nazi takes Oxley and the skull and begins to threaten him about leading them to the City. Walt manages to get free of his bonds, frees Marion and knocks out a guard. He and Marion are trying to sneak out of camp, another guard is coming up behind them. A truck comes smashing through camp and hits the guard. Its Jones. “Get in! Where’s Oxley?” Short action sequence of getting Oxley and the skull, the four of them drive off in the truck. They stop, pursuit vehicles are heard. Everyone gets out and Jones rigs the truck to drive straight and they hide in the jungle. A couple of jeeps and motorcycles drive past after the truck.

Oxley explains that even though they have the skull, the Nazis know how to find the city, but if they can get there first, the skull is rumored to have the power to destroy the city. So they go.

They reach the city, but so do the Nazis. The City of Gold isn’t really made of gold, but instead all the walls have yellow crystals in them, as the sun begins to rise, the light begins to shine in the city making the entire thing talk on a gold colored shimmer from the crystals. Jones and company race through the ancient city occasionally fighting and occasionally avoiding soldiers, eventually they reach the main temple. Inside there is much gold, real gold, on the walls and in the chambers. They reach the central chamber to find a room surrounded by thrones. They try to understand what to do with the skull, but the Nazi arrives. “So, looks like I’ll get to kill you after all, Dr. Jones.” Indy uses his whip to disarm the Nazi, but the Nazi uses the whip to pull Jones off balance. Other soldiers enter but the Nazi holds them off, preferring to take Jones alone. They start to fight.

During the confusion, Marion, Walt and Oxley slip off behind one of the huge thrones. While Jones fights, the others try to figure out the room. Light begins to pour in from a hole in the ceiling. The crystals are reflecting/refracting the sunlight causing a beam to shine down into the center of the chamber where a chest high pillar sits. As Walt looks on, the Nazi gets hold of Jones’ arm and forces his head down onto the pillar. “I know what to do.” Walt says, “Give me the skull.” Jones breaks free of the Nazi and gets in a few good shots. The soldiers look on. Walt comes running out and places the skull on to the pillar and with his hands on the sides, aims it toward the soldiers. The light from the ceiling pours into the top of the skull and beams of light shoot out of its eyes, burning the soldiers like lasers, setting them afire. He turns, Jones takes a hit and falls, the beams cross over the Nazi and he screams. Jones gets up and looks around the room. Chest high, in the main throne is a hole, he puts the skull back into the column of light and aims the eyes toward the hole. The beams shoot out of the eyes and reflect off something there and go downward. The Nazi stand up, his face and hands burned. He looks at the skull, “The power of the skull…” “… can be used to destroy the City of Gold” Oxley says as he and Marion step down. The ground begins to shake. Indy, Walt, Marion and Oxley run from the chamber, out of the temple, trying to leave the city as it begins to fall apart behind them. The Nazi takes the skull from the pillar, but the rumbling doesn’t stop. “The power of the skull is mine.” And they run, Jones hypothesizes that the heat from the beam must have triggered something that is literally tearing the city apart.

Jones and company run from the city in time to see the retaining wall at the far end of the valley in which the city rests collapse. They climb and beat the waters as the city is buried beneath them taking the Fourth Reich with it. “That was clever, kid”, Jones tells Walt, “that bit with the light and skull. Clever. And Quick. That’s one smart kid you’ve got here Marion.” “He gets that from his father.” then through a bit of clever dialog which I can’t work out at the moment, it is revealed that Walt is Henry Walton Jones III.

As with that last little bit, obviously I’ve left out pretty much all the dialog. Throughout, much like, although much better than, Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, I’d want to see Jones getting close to the kid, and when Marion arrives, a bit of witty banter that shows the old spark is still alive (I actually loved the bit where Indy said that all the girls after Marion hadn’t worked out because “They weren’t you”). I wouldn’t, however, end the film with a cheesy wedding scene. Just a smile, maybe a wink.

Anyway… that’s essentially how I would have preferred to see the new Indiana Jones film go instead of the gophers, monkeys and aliens we got… oh well.

Rest Stop

5 out of 13 nots
for Confusing Yet Stupid Twists and Unneeded Characters

Rest Stop is supposed to be a horror film, but in the end its just a mildly disgusting film that leaves you saying, “What exactly did I just watch?” The 5 out of 13 I’m giving it is generous, it would be a 4, perhaps even a 3, but it had naked boobs in it, and they were kinda nice. Be warned though, I watched the unrated version, so view the regular version at your own risk because it may not even have the boobs. Overall, still not worth the time.

More after the break.

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Covered in a White Sheet

Yesterday, on my way to work, there was traffic. Lots of it. As usual, I guessed there was an accident, and there was. Normally when I get stuck in traffic, by the time I reach the area of the accident the most I ever see is the last of the tow trucks pulling away. Yesterday was different.

The bus crested the hill and we could see the cop cars, the ones that had been passing by us for the last twenty minutes. The road is five lanes, two each direction with a turn lane in the center, and the cops have three lanes, the two southbound and the turn lane, closed and are routing traffic through the two remaining lanes. As we approach, I notice that there aren’t any tow trucks, no fire engine, no wrecked cars. As we pass, I see trails of blood on the street, and human sized white lump with tennis shoes sticking out of it. The white sheet is stained with red in places, and the shoes are pointing in directions that two feet on the same person shouldn’t be pointing at the same time. There was a truck and a couple of cars pulled over, and there was a man, the truck driver from his dress, sitting on the curb crying. About a dozen cop cars were around, and everyone was waiting for the ambulance or the coroner to show up. And then we passed and continued down the road on our route.

I assumed that the truck had hit a pedestrian, since he was the one who was crying and being consoled by officers, but I wanted to know what happened. So I started to search the web… all the local news channel sites I could find… nothing. It seems that there was another accident earlier that morning in the Atlanta area, a 19 year old kid who was drunk or high was on the wrong side of the road and killed a woman in a head on collision. I found lots of stories on that, but none on the accident I can seen the aftermath of. Finally I did find something, on Scan Gwinnett, a website where they scan police and emergency freqencies and post stories and recordings. It turns out the truck had nothing to do with it… however, the pedestrian had been crossing the street and was hit by three cars. Police are still investigating, and so far no one has been charged, and they don’t know why the man was crossing the street there and not at one of the nearby lighted intersections.

I’d never actually seen a dead body not in a coffin before, technically I guess I still haven’t since I only saw shoes and a white sheet, and the whole thing kinda creeped me out. I felt sad even though I didn’t know the guy or any of the drivers, and I also felt angry because it was his own damn fault for not crossing at the light. And today I feel… differently sad, because this guy died and three people will live with having hit him, and lots of people saw the accident and the aftermath, but it wasn’t important enough to rate coverage by any of the local news stations. I mean, I can understand having to pick and choose what stories get airtime in the limited broadcast, but there is no limit on a website. Did none of their reporters even cover it? Was a story even written?

4 July 1998

We will not go quietly into the night! We will not vanish without a fight! We’re going to live on! We’re going to survive! Today, we celebrate our Independence Day!
Sorry, had to do it. Today is the 4th of July. Meant to watch “Born on the 4th of July” the other night, but I missed it. Now I think I’ll have to rent it.
Lots of little things going on ’round here… nothing to fantastic though. I start work on Monday. I got tired of sitting on my ass at home while unemployed, but now that I have a job… I don’t wanna go, I wanna stay at home and sit on my ass.
Ever get one of those weeks where you sleep alot, but you don’t seem to be getting any rest? I’m having one.
I’m thinking of redesigning my whole page here… the front anyway… making it a gate to all my other stuff… and linking the pages together better… now that I’m at Xoom, I can make subdirectories, and if you have ever made a webpage before you know how much subdirs help organize the mess.
Well, I still have that rant in the wings… but I’m gonna hold off until I get a chance to properly write it up, when I come home angry from work one day next week… :p
Theater Review: Black Dog. This is a gem. Patrick Swayze, Meat Loaf, Randy Travis, and a mythical truck driver road legend of the, you guessed it, “Black Dog”. This is not a movie to see alone. Take friends who know how to throw a good one-liner MST3K style and you will have a blast. My personal best was finding ways to work in every one of Meat Loaf’s songs into his scenes, and I almost didn’t work in one of his most famous, Bat Out Of Hell, but he returned in the end (since he is one of the bad guys) and presented the opportunity as one of the actors says “What was that?” after getting rammed by Meat with a truck, “That’s a BAT OUT OF HELL, baby!!” This was a sad, sad movie… we were able to work in all of Patrick’s movies too. Not to mention all the Smokey and the Bandit jokes flying. I’m glad I only payed a dollar to see it, because in the sarcastic words of Kelly, “This is the best movie ever!”
Today’s Song: First Cool Hive by Moby. It’s on the Scream soundtrack and they used it in some of the early previews for the 5th Element. It’s just a groovin’ tune.
Today’s Movie: A Clockwork Orange. This is a sick, disguesting, demented film. But I love it anyway. And with Warner Bros. re-releasing new digitally mastered versions of movies for their 75th, I’ll be able to get a new copy of this (mine being worn out of course, I bought it previously viewed).