Monday January 16, 2017
Book 17: A Little Immortality — Part I
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Hidden Figures

hiddenfiguresI loved Hidden Figures. It was beautiful, and uplifting ,and pretty much the perfect first-film-of-the-year for me. It clears my Threshold of Awesome, and reminded me of how awesome actual human people can be.

It also reminded me of how far we’ve come since the decade in which I was born, and how courageous we had to be in order to make it that far. And that’s pretty important because we have a long way to go, and more courage will be required.

The leads, Taraji P. Henson, Octavia Spencer, and Janelle Monáe, were all powerfully convincing, and Kevin Costner finally got to make up for Pa Kent, which I shouldn’t have been holding against him, but that’s a different story altogether. I also loved seeing Aldis Hodge¹ play support-staff for someone else’s genius, and Mahershala Ali² be so completely different than the Cottonmouth character he sold to me in Luke Cage. 

I wish we’d seen just a little bit more of the mathematics, enough for me to fully grasp the enormity of the problems faced by the space program, but that’s a tough call to make for filmmakers. Confuse the audience for just a few seconds, and you run the risk of losing everybody. So, you know, they probably made the right call.


 

¹Hodge played Hardison in Leverage, and I cannot un-see him as a hacker with mad grifting skills.

²Cottonmouth was pretty much my favorite character from Netflix’s Luke Cage. Shame about that mic stand thing.

 

Welcome to 2017, Now Let’s Get to Work.

Back in 1999 I had a boss who would consider our team’s approach to over-engineering some solution or another and say “I don’t want you to boil the ocean. Just make a nice cup of tea.” Put another way: “Don’t try to fix everything. Fix the thing right in front of you.”

I’ve been thinking about how bad 2016 was, and I’ve determined that most of the worst bits were parts over which I had little or no control. A few of the worst bits, for me anyway, were totally my fault, but they weren’t bad enough to make the news so they don’t show up on the global score card. In short, the oceans aren’t my fault, but this cup of tepid water is totally on me, and I can do better.

“Doing better” does mean looking beyond the top of the teacup. Maybe not all the way to the ocean, but at least to the rest of the mugs, cups, glasses, and carafes in the room. It’s possible that I can fix the thing right in front of me AND fix a few things that happen to be within reach. If I pay close attention, I may find that my reach even extends beyond the white-room drink station of this metaphor, and into the wider world of insufficiently incalescent beverage preparation.

But first, a pot of hot water, right here. And as long as I’m heating water, there are things that can be cleaned in it, like the dishes, the laundry, and oh! A hot bath!

2017 is here. I don’t know what opportunities and crises will present themselves, but I’m here for them, as ready as I can make myself. And if I need to keep a pot of boiling water handy, at least that’s a thing I know how to do.


 

Passengers

passengersI saw Passengers on Tuesday night. Here are some words I used on Twitter:

Beautiful. Powerful. Heartbreaking. Inspiring. Awesome.

Chris Pratt did a fine job, and Michael Sheen was spot on, but Jennifer Lawrence absolutely owned her role, all the way to the bone. She was astounding, and without her performance the film simply wouldn’t have worked. Chris Pratt may have been positioned as our protagonist, but Jennifer Lawrence was the beating heart of the story.

Enough gushing. It’s a fine movie, and it clears my Threshold of Awesome.