Wednesday, June 2, 2004

Forgive the stilted phraseology of this post. After I get home from work each day this week, I do more work to finish up one particulalry onerous document by the end of the week. The result: I can barely make myself write these journal posts, much less write anything like the VR story.

I’ve discovered that Buster Keaton is indeed God.

I’d read that this was true, mainly from Chynna Clugston-Major in The Kids Are Alright. This weekend, I sat down with two Keaton films: The General and Steamboat Bill, Jr. Remember Walt Disney’s first cartoon? Steamboat Willie? Yeah, it was a reference to a Buster Keaton flick.

Keaton’s brilliant, and not in the way I expected a silent film star to be. He’s a master of economy; he never moves except when needed to enhance the comedy. This is not to suggest he’s minimal. It’s just that when he does move, every muscle is part of a comedic action. He can perform acrobatic stunts as well as anyone I’ve ever seen, Jackie Chan included.

He’s also one of the first “lovable loser” characters in film. He manages to pull it off perfectly, which is particularly difficult considering that one essential characteristic of the lovable loser is his/her ability to pull through in the end. The character must be truly heroic, eventually. And here again, Keaton delivers; his characters literally throw themselves into danger when the time comes.

I also finally saw all of Charlie Chaplin’s film The Great Dictator, a devastating spoof of Adolf Hitler (and made when Hitler was still alive, in 1938–1940). You wouldn’t think anyone could make Hitler funny (ther was “Springtime for Hitler” in The Producers, but that was absurdity as opposed to true parody), but Chaplin made me laugh out loud at the furious arm-wavings of the self-important dictator Adenoid Hynkel. And my throat tightened at an amazing shot as a Jewish barber watches his shop be torched and burned by the SS. And then came the abrupt but fabulous speech at the end, which clearly comes straight from Chaplin’s heart.

And now, more VR story. Boy, I’m glad I’m ahead on this; there’s no way I’d be able to write more this week.

Doodlehopper stood up from between them, a tazer in each of her hands. She was wearing only a black sports bra and black panties. She looked like an Amazon warrior rising from her kill, glorious and proud and beautiful.

She looked at him, ensuring he was okay, and he realized he was staring at her body. He looked away, blushing slightly, knowing that that was not a road he wanted to travel.

Doodlehopper grinned like a wolf at him, then turned and walked into the bathroom. “Get dressed,” she said as she pulled her clothes on.

Thomas nodded to himself. Yes, clothes were a very good idea right now.

They slipped through grimy back alleys and slunk across intersections still empty in the pale, ghostly grey of early dawn. They paused occasionally to warm themselves on plumes of warm steam that bellowed from the grates that punctuated the pavement. Once, they stepped into a coffee shop and bought oversweet donuts and coffee that tasted like thin crude oil. And they continued to run.

Thomas let the girl lead, though after an hour or so of following her zig-zagging path across the city he began to wonder if she had any specific destination or was just wandering.

“Where are we going?” he finally asked.

“Safe house,” she replied over her shoulder, and kept moving.

They crept along an alley that was so narrow it was dim as a cave despite the morning sun. On either side of them stood grim concrete buildings, their lowest floor covered with riots of graffiti and their upper floors studded with grim little windows that seemed to begrudge the light.

Doodlehopper stopped halfway down the alley and laid one hand on the concrete wall next to her, almost casually, then turned and leaned her back against it, folding her arms against her chest and glancing up and down the alley.

Thomas stood next to her for a few moments, listening to the buzz of traffic in the distance, then said, “Um, what are we waiting for?”

She continued looking around, but grinned. “Can’t tell you,” she said. “Just wait.”

(Yay! Now I’ll get lots of hits from perverts searching for “panties”!)

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