Stranded In The Southland

Thursday, January 06, 2005

Rocky Peak, Hummingbird Trail, and the Simi Hills

As it was really snowy in the San Gabriels, the Wednesday folks bailed on the original plan to go up Mt. Hillyer, and made an alternate trip in the Santa Suzannas. We took 210 to 118 to Keuhner Drive; the trailhead was almost immediately off the road.

This turned out ot be a really fantastic hike, perfectly timed -- the hills were basicly all sandstone, and the fresh rains resulted in lots and lots of beautiful little waterfalls. Even without the water, the sandstone was wildly eroded, with all sorts of dips and caves and deep cuts into the rock.

On the way up, we passed a creek that was running in a slot cut probably 15 feet deep into the sandstone. It was wonderful to hear it tinkling along down below us, and to have to carefully peer over the lip of the slot to actually see it.

Strangely enough, the mountains were were hiking through were a complete mix of dirt and rock. The rocks poked out everywhere, but there was enough earth for plenty of what our leader, Mary, called PLFs -- Pretty Little Flowers. It turned into a reasonably long hike -- all the more so, since most of us had taken at least a couple weeks off from hiking during the holidays -- that ended up at Rocky Peak.

I'd been slightly bummed that I wasn't going to be bagging a peak today, but it turns out the Rocky Peak is on the Lower Peaks list, so I did in fact get one. It wasn't clear which of the four or five largish rockpiles was actually the highest, so Brookes and I set out for the farthest off, rockiest summit, and bagged that, while the rest of the folks sat down to lunch. It turned out that there was a strange, six-pointed star painted up on the summit -- is this from Jewish pagans, or what?

On the way back, Mary showed us a cave formed by the falling boulders, not so far from the start of the hike. It was too wet and slippery to really go back in there, but I could imagine that during the summer it'd be the perfect cool picnic spot!

THX1138 & A Clockwork Orange

Okay, so I checked out "THX1138". Unfortunately, this was the new director's cut, with CGI enhancements, and I'm afraid that this detracted from the movie, rather than enhancing it.

I've never seen the original, but I'm perfectly comfortable with state-of-the-art 70's special effects. It looked like Lucas did a great job of disguising BART tunnels and other weird architectural features of the San Francisco area as a community of the future, but the CGI "enhancements" really stand out. He throws in some digital creatures which look artificial, and seem like they do little to really move the story forward, and I believe that he made a slightly more realistic working environment for THX. All in all, I wish I'd gotten the older version.

In any case, I found the movie comprehensible, but not compelling. The storytelling wasn't that clear, although the Lucas commentary track on the DVD helped to clarify a few details. For instance, the weird red polygonal solid was actually supposed to be a comsumable. This wasn't at all clear from a single viewing of the film.

I mean, the film certainly gave me a feeling of being disconnected and disoriented and confused, but it just seems like one more stylized 70's distopia picture. Of course, it is really kind of unfair to view the film in 2004 and come to this conclusion -- it could be that it pioneered all sorts of wonderful things that have showed up in subsequent film. I mean, I'd hate to be blaming a much-imitated film for subsequent films ripping it off; I suppose I oughta corner some film historians... :-)

I didn't understand why LUH wasn't the hero -- I mean, she was the one who got THX off of drugs and into love. Similarly, SEN seems to be the catalyst for a certain amount of action. And THX just kind of stumbles onto the way out of the city, and who knows if he'll be able to survive or not. It might not have been a brilliant idea to climb out! Oh, well, I suppose I'm happy to have seen it at least.

A Clockwork Orange, on the other hand, was entirely satisfying, from the cool production design through the bizarre plot and the phenomenal acting. If I have any complaint, it is that the DVD didn't have any extras, so I couldn't delve deeper into the movie very easily.

Oh, yeah, and one of our friends pointed out that it might be cool to watch the threesome scene in slow-motion to check it out. Alas, it is pretty boring in slow motion, there really didn't seem to be quite that much going on. Bummer. :-)

Anyway, I enjoyed the wonderful slang of ACO, plus the amazing looking milk bar. I'm almost convinced that I need a giant nekkid female manikin table for my living room. Yow. Plus the fun car (what was that!?) and the amazing bedspread in Alex's room. I definitely need on o' them.

The plot and the acting were great, too. The ultraviolence hit me in my gut and made me hate Alex, but I was almost sorry for the little fucker by the end. Almost. He did sorta get what was coming to him, almost.