M.C.F.A.T. XIX: Answers

A M.C.F.A.T., or a Mysterious Cloaked Figure's Astonishing Test, is both a blessing and a curse. I can write questions pretty fast and get a break one week, only to have a lot more to write the week following. Still, for all those night's I struggle with writer's block and post meaningless drivel, it's nice to have a topic or five to focus on.

For our NINETEENTH edition, here are the fellow bloggers who participated:

Kev Bayer




And here are my answers:

1) Should film critics be genre-specific? Why or why not?
General critics do serve a purpose, but I think there should also be specialists, just as there are in the medical field. Certain genres have a very specific fan base, whether you're talking about horror movies, animation, science fiction, comic book movies, or even movies based on video games. Taste is subjective, and some critics may discount a movie solely based on its genre. Will Heath Ledger get the same recognition for his portrayal of the Joker? Some would look down on the role due to the source material, but I submit that comics are not only more mature than they were twenty or thirty years ago, but that Ledger was every bit the presence that Daniel Day-Lewis was in There Will Be Blood or Javier Bardem was in No Country For Old Men. I think certain genres have validity to the audience that appreciates them, and can be better judged by a true connoisseur of those flavors. One critic might deem all horror movies to be garbage, while a horror aficionado could explain the difference in quality between a Saw and a Jason X. I think we could benefit from professional genre specialists, beyond the thousands of fans who use the internet as our forum to say how great Robert Downey, Jr. was in Iron Man or Johnny Depp in Pirates of the Caribbean. Because no matter how much critics might universally pan certain genres, we're still going to see and love those films. I wonder though; if we see what we want to see anyway, then maybe we don't need critics at all.

2) What are some of your favorite movies and/or episodes of television shows depicting time travel?
The Back to the Future trilogy certainly ranks high on my list. I also have a soft spot for Groundhog Day style episodes of television shows where characters are caught in a loop. I remember a Star Trek: The Next Generation episode that starts with the ship exploding then keeps cutting back through events leading up to the destruction, with crew members recalling the events each time the loop resets. I think that series used that conceit many times. Supernatural ran an episode entitled “Mystery Spot” this past season, in which one brother continually relives the same day which ends and resets every time the other brother dies in ways ranging from comedic to horrific.

The Stargate SG-1 episode “Window of Opportunity” is probably my favorite instance of a time loop episode, certainly the funniest. That series has a lot of great time travel episodes, ranging from 1969 which establishes the precedent of precisely how a Stargate can be used to traverse time when a wormhole is caught in the path of a solar flare, to Moebius, in which a trip into the past radically alters the timestream and creates a new future. Most recently the direct-to-DVD movie Stargate: Continuum inspired this question, and while it follows a similar theme to Moebius with the altering of the timeline, I really appreciated the revelation about the time machine at the end, brilliant in the context of the series and the writers' attention to continuity.

I'll probably catch flak from Trekkies if I don't at least mention The City on the Edge of Forever, which set precedent for science fiction aliens hiding under a Winter cap, but I'd probably catch equal flak for mentioning Star Trek IV, which proved that when you're stuck in the past, you can always get by with a little help from your whales.

3) At this exact second, how did you get where you are in life?
Where I am physically is in my room in my parents' house, where they kept me imprisoned for 18 years only to have me get revenge by sticking around an extra fifteen years and counting. The real world is scary! Where I am professionally is employed as an art director making a decent living at a company that people have probably heard of. I was competitive with kids who could draw in elementary school, though I wasn't in their league, and by high school I got into comic books. With more art than notes in most of my note books, I decided to study art in college, despite people telling my my 99.9% math average might lead to more profitable fields. I wasn't sure I'd stick with my graphic design major until Sophomore year, when we got computers. I was hired immediately after graduation by the publishing company that I interned at during my last semester. I learned everything and was paid next to nothing, and after four years my friend Rey pulled some strings and got me into the catalog company he was working at. Seven years later I was caught in a wave of layoffs, my luck finally running out after surviving previous downsizings. I was fortunate to have a friend in yet another company put my resumé through, and I finished work at one company on a Friday only to start at another one the following Monday. That's where I am today; who knows where I'll be tomorrow?

4) Will there be sex in heaven?
(Hat tip to TheWriteJerry, who made this inquiry in an e-mail during the week that sparked an interesting discussion among the GeekFriends™. With their permission, I'll share some of their ideas next week.)

This is actually a pretty simplified excerpt of a much longer discussion about the nature of heaven itself, about which Curt mused, “...I think the afterlife will not be anything like anything we can imagine. I can imagine people floating around or walking around, or being old or young, or short or tall or neither. Since I can imagine it, I'm pretty sure it's all wholly inaccurate.” As Jeff pointed out in his response, my phrasing does presuppose the existence of an afterlife, a belief not everyone shares. As a Catholic, I do believe in an afterlife and so couldn't phrase the question any differently, and it was a question originally raised by Jerry(along with “will there be movies in heaven?”) Sex does serve a purpose in the physical world, as both the ultimate expression of love between a husband and wife but for procreation as well. Even a nonbeliever would have to admit from a Darwinian standpoint that our species wouldn't continue to be fruitful and multiply if the experience were unpleasant. But it is an Earthly pleasure, and I think Heaven is beyond our ability to understand in this life, as Curt said. I don't have Rey's permission to quote him exactly, but he basically paraphrased something C.S. Lewis once said about explaining love to children, with the analogy that chocolate is the greatest thing a small child might imagine sharing. As adults, we learn there's something more fun than candy. By that reasoning, as an ascended soul we might look back on our mortal life as our childhood. In the next life we'll be well beyond the things that are fun and serve a purpose in this one. Enjoy what you have, but don't mourn not having it in the future; it won't seem as important, and there may be something better, an intimacy greater than a few seconds of nerve endings firing.

SPECIAL BONUS QUESTION: What is “that” one thing Meat Loaf wouldn't do for love? I'll accept both humorous and serious responses.
For years I never really knew, but according to Wikipedia I just wasn't listening to the lyrics closely enough: “Each verse comprises two things that he would do for love, followed by one thing that he would not do. It is that latter part of each verse that is the "that" of the title.” I'm not alone in my confusion, and at one point the singer even tried unsuccessfully to diagram and explain the lyrics to an audience with a blackboard and chalk. He would have had more luck explaining Steve Miller's “Pompatus”.



Blogger Kev said...

Oh Noes!! I can't believe I forgot SG!'s Window of Opportunuty! That's one of the funniest (and arguably best) eps ever! ("...And in the middle of my swing?!!")

And City on the Edge of Forever? Again, a classic Classic Trek ep. One of the best.

8/03/2008 5:31 PM  

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