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Washtenaw Flaneurade
31 December 2010
Easy As Cake
Now Playing: Crystal Castles (!!!)--"I Am Made Of Chalk"

2010 (subtitled The Year We Make Contact) was a pretty decent sequel to Stanley Kubrick's classic adaptation of Arthur C. Clarke's "The Sentinel," overseen by British journeyman director Peter Hyams. It's a good, solid sci-fi film, and a refreshingly evenhanded plea for tolerance and goodwill among humanity (it was made in 1984 and concerned a joint US-Soviet expedition to Jupiter, not knowing that the Soviet Union would be gone within the decade). Though certainly nowhere near the classic status of its forbear, it's got some great actors and good performances (I'm trying to think of any bad performance Helen Mirren's actually given), and allows one of our great character actors, Bob Balaban, his moment in the sun (or the reflected light of Jupiter, in this case) as the obsessive Dr. Chandra, HAL-9000's creator who comes along on the expedition to reason with his troubled brainchild (their final scene together still brings a tear to the eye). I haven't seen it in over a decade, but I'm pretty sure there's a flying car in one scene, and that hasn't happened yet.

Still, 2010 was, for me, a good, solid year. There were none of the social or occupational fireworks of 2009, and some of the political promise that had many of us cautiously excited has dissipated. For myself, there's been a lot of creating and a few solid achievements. I was made head gardener (the actual title would mean nothing to most of you) at work, along with my regular duties, I had a batch of film reviews published in Darrell Buxton's excellent collection The Shrieking Sixties, I acquired a fun new hobby with buying a camera and have taken some really good shots, from what people tell me, and I just completed a much longer project that fulfils a long-standing ambition. So it's been a bit quieter than 2009, but none the worse for it.

I'm wrapping it up with a mess of society. Mittenfest in Ypsilanti finally opened early enough for me to make it out there (the buses stop running back at 10), now to Woodruff's, a fun new club in historic Depot Town. I snuck in there the first night, said hello to Brandon and Annie, and marveled at how much my life had changed since the first proto-version of Mittenfest played at the Madison House on Memorial Day, 2005 and kick-started my social life (it's interesting that I started the decade on a high and went out on one, despite a huge slump right before the middle). Mittenfest primarily benefits 826michigan, a species of the nationwide 826 program started by writer Dave Eggers to help promote literacy and creative writing for secondary school-age kids. I think they do great work, despite their de facto tenuous connection with the egregious McSweeney's. Sadly, the acts I saw (only a couple, to be sure) weren't terribly inspiring, with the exception of Hamtramck's superb Pewter Cub, who I firmly plan to investigate further--their CD the door opened; you get in... is pretty sweet, too. Tonight I'll be hitting my friend Margot's party (after a trepidatious period of seeing if we'd be getting any rain, as I'll be taking the bike) and then, if I'm feeling silly enough, hitting the Bang! at the Blind Pig in a ludicrously circuitous route home. I have to work tomorrow, too, so can't stay out too late. And then I just found out there's another party tomorrow at another friend's house. If you'd told me I would have had to worry about this stuff six or seven years ago, I would have told you "yes, please."

I think this decade could be an eventful one, and I hope they aren't the wrong kind. This next year I think will be rather weird. Just a feeling; there are minor shakeups coming at the job due to the construction project that will double the business in physical size and we still have little idea as to what they'll really be. I've made a decision regarding my personal life that I hope to put into action this year, and it could be pretty influential--it's certainly frightening. In any event, it won't be boring. I also need to make a bird feeder.

Wherever you are, have a happy New Year, and I'll see you around! Maybe people, myself included, will realize we don't need flying cars by the time New Year's Eve 2020 rolls around.

Posted by Charles J. Microphone at 9:28 PM EST
Updated: 31 December 2010 9:30 PM EST
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19 January 2011 - 3:15 PM EST

Name: "Neil Pike"

Nice to see a shout-out for 2010 W, a really good, completely under-rated piece of old-style literary SF amid a morass of juvenile fayre.


Hope 2011 is good for you.

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