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Creek Running North

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July 11, 2005

Distractions

1) I was reading the breaking news about the London bombings when the phone rang. It was Becky. She was fine. She'd been driving the truck in Oakland Chinatown, was in the rightmost of two left-turn-only lanes, and the old guy in the lane to her left drove straight into my poor truck.

I went back to reading about the carnage in London, wondering why everything bad always happens to me.

The truck is at the body shop for a week.

2) Becky and I went to see War Of The Worlds last week, and there's this scene in which the Dakota Fanning character, who is completely freaked out to begin with and only gets more so when the aliens attack, asks the Tom Cruise character to sing her a lullabye. But Cruise evidently learned no lullabyes at Scientology Camp, and so he starts singing Little Deuce Coupe to her instead. And I'm all like, come ON, Martians! Where are you when the audience needs you?

It made me realize that the notion of Tom Cruise being vaporized by Martian invaders is enough to make me plunk down ten bucks to watch an otherwise regrettable movie. And I bet there are a lot of people who feel the same way. Movie production companies would do well to keep this in mind. So your script's plot hangs on the Olsen Twins accidentally taking each other's purses, with all the implied ensuing hilarity? Or you're working on HomeAlone XIV, in which Macauley Culkin's frat brothers leave for Evanston without him? Just put Cruise in a cameo, running down the street and ZAP! And I'm there.

This could work for Turnerized re-edits of old movies as well. Like Debra Winger's at the supermarket checkout, and she doesn't have enough cash for everything on the belt so she puts stuff back despite her kids complaining, and then John Lithgow pays her tab and berates the gum-chewing cashier for being rude.

Cashier: "I don't think I was being rude."
Lithgow: "Well then you must be from New York."
Tom Cruise, in the supermarket parking lot: "AAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!
SFX: zap!

Box office gold.

Posted by Chris Clarke at July 11, 2005 07:35 AM TrackBack URL for this entry:
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Distractions also
Excerpt: I'm using Chris Clarke's Distractions post as a model for my own timewasters. 1. Clarke may have temporarily lost a truck, but my wife has lost her beloved laptop. I dragged an ancient PowerMac G3 out of storage and wasted many hours trying t...
Weblog: Pharyngula
Tracked: July 11, 2005 03:25 PM
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Comments

I actually liked WOW. But perhaps that's because of the original author's intent.

Posted by: Roxanne at July 11, 2005 08:03 AM
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Oh, I liked it just fine too. Especially the first half.

Posted by: Chris Clarke at July 11, 2005 08:08 AM
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I thought it was OK, too. Good monsters. Cruise was kind of irrelevant.

Only thing is, I saw no virtue in the movie over the old George Pal version. I couldn't quite see why the new movie was made.

Also, I hated the ending. You know that stupid scene in Independence Day where everyone is getting incinerated and the camera is focussing on the dog racing to shelter, and everyone is supposed to be happy that he makes it despite the flying flaming cars and the bodies and the explosions? Everyone talks about Spielberg as a master craftsman, but that ending convinced me he's more on a par with a hack like Roland Emmerich.

Posted by: PZ Myers at July 11, 2005 08:24 AM
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Tom Cruise gets killed?

Posted by: Nikki (aka Fox's Vixen) at July 11, 2005 09:21 AM
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Nikki, I didn't say that. And I'm not saying he doesn't. Unless yu're sure you're not going to see the movie, in which case drop me an email note and I'll tell you.

PZ, call me silly: I liked that scene in Independence Day. But I'm the kind of guy who occasionally tears up during long distance service commercials, so I'm easily manipulated.

Debate Topic: The choice of dog breed (golden retriever) in that scene was intended to ensure that the Will Smith/Vivica Fox pairing possessed that essential Hollywood quality generally known as Not Too Black. Discuss. Extra Points awarded for clever observations about "Not Too Black" and Smith or Fox and redundancy.

Posted by: Chris Clarke at July 11, 2005 10:46 AM
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I think "Boomer" (the dog in Independence Day) was a yellow labrador retriever.

And I loved that scene too, got all teary-eyed that Boomer was saved. Screw those expendable bit-part actors in the red shirts. Let the aliens melt them into puddles.

I'm hoping that Cruise has peeled up the carpet on Scientology and the public will see how much dirt is under there. We've already had several small articles on Cruise/Holmes and Scientology in my paper, and the light has yet to be wholly flattering.

Heh. One of the articles mentioned Katie Holmes' "Scientology chaperone," this woman who is with her constantly now. In an interview with Holmes, Holmes was at a momentary loss for words after being asked how she felt about Tom Cruise. The "chaperone" prompted her "You adore him."

Whoo. Creepy. Katie Holmes, Stepford Wife.


Posted by: Hank Fox at July 11, 2005 11:22 AM
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Hank - Are you saying that if I convert to Scientology, my wife will be assigned a chaperone who will continually remind her that she adores me?

Where do I sign up?

Chris - You can get away with a lot on Creek Running North, but you best not be ripping on golden retrievers. Labs? Sure, go ahead. Will Smith? Who cares. Vivica Fox? Yawn. But goldens? Not on your life.

Also, those of you who are interested can see a full page photo of my dog Cody on page 66 of the Voyageur Press classic, "Goldens Forever: A Heartwarming Celebration of the Golden Retriever." Which is, of course, the follow-up to the hugely successful "Love of Goldens." In fact, both books are still in print, so run out and pick them up tonight. They make wonderful birthday gifts as well as incredible Christmas presents.


Posted by: tost at July 11, 2005 01:30 PM
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Geez. I can't believe you people.

Of course, I'm the guy who thinks it's just fine to bring high school kids to the vet to watch dogs getting hacked up.

Oh, well, if you like seeing people disintegrated en masse, WOW was a good movie. However,

*** SPOILER ALERT ***


*** SPOILER ALERT ***

*** SPOILER ALERT ***


I don't think one dog got zapped in that movie. If your heart is set on canine obliteration, you can skip it.

Posted by: PZ Myers at July 11, 2005 02:45 PM
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Actually, I went looking for spoilers on the Internet and found what I wanted to know.

I'm one of those people who will read the end of the mystery, then go back and finish it anyway to see how the author got from point A to point B. My sister likes to torture me by not telling me how the movie is going to end. Knowing the ending doesn't stop me from enjoying a good book or movie.

Posted by: Nikki (Fox's Vixen) at July 11, 2005 03:32 PM
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That's fine Nikki, but I haven't gotten around to seeing Titanic yet, so don't go telling me how it ends.

I don't think I weighed in on that dog dissection thread at your place, PZ. I know I wouldn't object. I also know I'd never make it all the way through the procedure. I'd be in a coma on the floor.

Posted by: Chris Clarke at July 11, 2005 03:38 PM
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You can get away with a lot on Creek Running North, but you best not be ripping on golden retrievers. Labs? Sure, go ahead. Will Smith? Who cares. Vivica Fox? Yawn. But goldens? Not on your life.

Oh, I like goldens, don't get me wrong. I'd even go so far as to say a solid fifth of all goldens - the cream of the crop, as it were - are no dumber than this dog.

Posted by: Chris Clarke at July 11, 2005 03:44 PM
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I see.

So that’s how it’s going to go down.

Well, people, what we have here is a classic case of “golden retriever envy,” a jealousy so deep, so pervasive, that it leaves those afflicted completely bereft of their normal sensibilities and forces them to wallow through the most sordid paths of their subconscious, crying over and over, “Why am I not worthy of partnering with this most noble of canines?”

I’ve seen it time and again, an otherwise upstanding citizen of our great nation reduced to frothing at the mouth and staring, slack-jawed, at his or her reflection in a water dish or toilet bowl.

Quick, before it’s too late, someone get Chris an “Air Bud” video.

Or better yet, a copy of “Goldens Forever.”

Ease his pain.

Posted by: tost at July 11, 2005 05:39 PM
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“golden retriever envy,” a jealousy so deep, so pervasive, that it leaves those afflicted completely bereft of their normal sensibilities and forces them to wallow through the most sordid paths of their subconscious, crying over and over, “Why am I not worthy of partnering with this most noble of canines?”

Noble in the sense of inert and gaseous, I'll grant you.

(You want noble? I'll give you noble.)

Posted by: Chris Clarke at July 11, 2005 05:49 PM
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The only golden I know has a stick fetish. She will follow you around, hoping you are foolish enough to throw a stick for her. She will then pester you the entire remainder of the day, bonking into you with said stick, hoping for more throws. The only way we could ever do anything in peace after someone fell for her ploy was to put the stick in a tree. A tall, thin tree (she eventually learned how to climb).

She's a sweet dog, but there's not much room in her soft, fuzzy head for more than one obsession at a time. She's the only golden I know, so I have no opinion on whether she is a typical example.

Posted by: Rana at July 11, 2005 06:08 PM
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Sorry, but none of your dogs is fit to share the same hemisphere with Heidi.

Posted by: Paul Tomblin at July 11, 2005 06:56 PM
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All goldens have stick fetishes. For chewing on. One of my goldens has a sock fetish. For carrying them around. The one I just got has a ball fetish. Throw and retrieve. Throw and retrieve.

It's what they were bred to do.

Posted by: donna at July 11, 2005 07:40 PM
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no dumber than this dog.

It's heart-breaking to hear the callous laughter of the audience when this animal is obviously in desperate need of an exorcist. clearly the back half of its body is possessed by the devil. (alternatively, it's a throwback to certain very large dinosaurs that had brains in their tails IIRC, in addition to the teensy ones in their heads.)

Posted by: mmcc at July 11, 2005 07:51 PM
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Exhibit one, you Honor, from the intro to the Tom Davis book, "Just Goldens."

"Of course, it's hard to talk about goldens without bringing up Labradors. Both are retrieving breeds, obviously, and both are hugely popular. In terms of temperament, however, they're oceans apart. It's almost as if they represent the two sides of the human brain, or the Type A/ Type B personality dichotomy. (This makes absolute sense when you consider that the various dog breeds are, ultimately, the products of man's relentless urge to tinker.) The Lab is the left side, Type A dog: logical, driven, intensely goal oriented. If Labs were people, they'd be surgeons, accountants, attorneys, and CEOs - successful, yes, but a little, um, predictable.

Goldens, in contrast, are right side, Type B dogs: imaginative, mellow, enemies of routines. They'd be dancers, musicians, poets, artists - quirky, fun-loving, and full of surprises. You'd want a Labrador to handle your money, but you'd want a golden to throw your party. A couple hours into the festivities, it'd be the one wearing the lampshade."

And exhibit two, from an interview with author and environmental writer R. Bass. When asked why he didn't own a golden retriever, Bass replied, "Because I refuse to own a dog that's smarter than I am."

Finally, exhibit three. In 1993, the town of Guffey, Colorado elected a golden retriever named Shanda to the office of mayor.

We could go on and on, Your Honor, but it seems obvious that the plaintiff, Mr. Clarke, has no case and that the Court should do it’s duty and find him in contempt of a superior breed. The penalty being no less than 60 hours of old Ronald Reagan movies.

Posted by: tost at July 11, 2005 09:43 PM
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"We could go on and on, Your Honor, but it seems obvious that the plaintiff, Mr. Clarke, has no case and that the Court should do it’s duty and find him in contempt of a superior breed. The penalty being no less than 60 hours of old Ronald Reagan movies."

Hmmm. Well, Zeke's no superstar, but he's a damn sight smarter than any purebred lab or golden I ever met. And either of those is still a cut above Ronnie and the current chimp.

Posted by: Mike Lerch at July 11, 2005 11:05 PM
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I've been around golden retrievers and labs both, and they're BOTH lampshade-wearing party animals when you get them out near a cold, clear mountain creek. Hard to get them out of the water AT ALL.

I have a Wosijmu (wise old saying I just made up) about the fact that they will come out every few minutes and tell you, physically and emphatically, how much fun they're having:

Nobody loves you more than a wet dog.

Posted by: Hank Fox at July 12, 2005 09:35 AM
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BTW, somebody rent Independence Day and watch it, tell me what type of dog Boomer was. I found some corroboration for the yellow lab theory on a couple of web pages, but I'm not sure I trust them, because they were people commenting on the movie instead of associated with it.

I did find out that the "real" name of the dog-actor who plays Boomer is Deenie Dakota. And in the original script, oddly enough, the dog was a beagle.

http://movies2.nytimes.com/gst/movies/filmography.html?p_id=16610

Posted by: Hank Fox at July 12, 2005 09:41 AM
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PZ sez:
Also, I hated the ending. You know that stupid scene in Independence Day where everyone is getting incinerated and the camera is focussing on the dog racing to shelter, and everyone is supposed to be happy that he makes it despite the flying flaming cars and the bodies and the explosions? Everyone talks about Spielberg as a master craftsman, but that ending convinced me he's more on a par with a hack like Roland Emmerich.

Good Ra, could that ending have been any more disgustingly classist and nasty? It's a giant fuck you to the scabby, the poor, and the ethnic as our clean-scrubbed Boston Brahmins emerge from their pristine brownstone, intact, coiffed, and manicured, giving their blue collar ex-son-in-law /ex-husband/subpar-sperm donor a grateful elbow-elbow-wrist-wrist-wrist wave from an appropriate distance.

I liked Independence Day, though.

Posted by: CMD at July 12, 2005 11:31 AM
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Apart from that dogs are loyal which increases the sentimental value in the rescue scenes, I would prefer cats:

1. I _do_ prefer cats.

2. They would last for 8 sequels.

Posted by: Torbjorn Larsson at July 12, 2005 02:31 PM
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OK, Chris, I'll grant you that he's a noble-looking dog, with fine ears and an obvious intelligence - in fact, I'm curious how you ended up with such a handsome dog - but he's not nearly as noble as Cody. In fact, I'm willing to make a little wager. I'll go take a photo of Cody, who's almost 9, and then I'll e-mail it to you. You post it on your site, along with the best photo you've ever taken of your admittedly-handsome dog. Then people can vote on who looks the most intelligent, the most regal, the most charismatic. But there's a catch. Every vote costs $5, and all proceeds go to a local animal shelter, which the winner designates.

Are you in?

Posted by: tost at July 12, 2005 03:02 PM
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in fact, I'm curious how you ended up with such a handsome dog

He's adopted.

I'll go take a photo of Cody, who's almost 9, and then I'll e-mail it to you. You post it on your site, along with the best photo you've ever taken of your admittedly-handsome dog. Then people can vote on who looks the most intelligent, the most regal, the most charismatic. But there's a catch. Every vote costs $5, and all proceeds go to a local animal shelter, which the winner designates.

Great idea. I'm in. But let's make it a sliding scale starting at one buck, as I think we'll get more votes and probably more donatable cash that way. Besides, all of Zeke's friends are broke.

Also: I'll vote for your dog if you vote for mine.

Posted by: Chris Clarke at July 12, 2005 03:09 PM
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A buck works. Just tell people to vote early and often.

"Also: I'll vote for your dog if you vote for mine."

Cody would never forgive me. How about if I vote for both of them?

By the way, we're going to take the baby and the dogs down to the river, but I'll send out a couple images before I go. You can use them both (I'm a firm believer that you can never have too many dog photos) or feel free to pick the ugly one.

Posted by: tost at July 12, 2005 03:48 PM
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Oboy! PuppyFight! DoggieDuel! It's the Four-Footed Cold-Nose Limpid-Eye Smackdown!

Come on, guys.

*waves fistfuls of dollars*

Show us what you got.

Posted by: CaseyL at July 12, 2005 08:32 PM
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Tost, pick your shelter and I'll set things up.

(None of that ecoterrorist PETA stuff, either. I know your kind.)

Posted by: Chris Clarke at July 13, 2005 09:05 AM
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Haha! God, what a great way to get rid of a freaky Scientologist. By the way, I loved your recent photo of Pinole Creek. Is there any way I can get a copy of this? I guess I can't save it to my computer, but I'm willing to pay you for a decent copy. Thanks! By the way, I am in love with Zeke. He seems such a gentle companion (unlike my 2 anxious and nutty dogs).

Posted by: Jane at July 13, 2005 09:51 AM
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Kootenai Pets For Life is a small, no-euthanasia facility in northwestern Montana. Much-appreciated financial donations can be sent to:

Kooteani Pets For Life.
P.O. Box 1454
Libby, Montana 59923

By the way, I agree with PETA that animals should be treated with dignity.

Unfortunately, however, most of PETA's ideas on how to treat animals with dignity lead me to believe that they're, oh, shall we say "divorced from reality." In other words, they don't have a clue how the natural world works, or how humanity needs to interact with nature in order to achieve anything resembling balance.

Of course, most people in my line of work think PETA is a bigger threat to our way of life than Osama and his minions, and would just as soon ship all PETA members off to Siberia. So I guess you could call me something of a moderate - about the only time that title will ever fit.

Posted by: tost at July 13, 2005 10:43 AM
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Oh, late to a dog fight. Such is my life.

I just read Bailey the relevant context and she says, "Let it go. Let it go." Wise dog, that, but I must insist upon speaking up.

The reason golden retrievers are featured in so many movies is not only can they take direction, but they can also understand the motivation of their characters, which makes them far superior to actors such as Tom Cruise. In fact, there's a reason Meryl Streep is called the "golden retriever of acting."

For instance, my dog is currently exploring Method acting, wherein she imagines herself a cow and grazes among the weeds in the common. It's an amazing performance. Even the cows are fooled.

Posted by: KathyF at July 13, 2005 01:58 PM
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