They cut ribbon on the Georgia Aquarium yesterday -- it opens Wednesday, I believe. I haven't gotten any kind of press preview, which disappoints me, as I wrote about it in our Fall Preview and it sounds pretty cool, and I sure as heck don't want to pay to see it. But given my (admittedly limited) experience with the organization, and from what I've read about it, I'm not surprised. They were almost comically secretive about providing even the most basic information (like what their ticket prices would be), and in interviews with Home Depot founder Bernie Marcus, this not-yet-justified arrogance comes through that reminds me very much of Billy Payne and the Atlanta Olympics. The Games were certainly a net plus for the city, but also brought some lingering embarassments, like Whatizzit and unprofessional logistics problems. I think the Georgia Aquarium will be the same -- it'll have lots of neat qualities, but some really dumb ones, too. (One of those might be the ticket prices -- it's like $22 for an adult and $17 or so for kid. So it would be practically $40 just to get me and Sweetness in the door. Uh, no thanks.)
Most of Atlanta's media are, not surprisingly, falling over themselves with adultation and treating Bernie Marcus with a reverence usually reserved for the likes of Albert Einstein and Martin Luther King Jr. Last night the NBC affiliate had two hours of Aquarium specials, one of which was called "The Georgia Aquarium: A Window to Wow!"
Which reminds me of a line in 'Sammy and Rosie Get Laid"' (one of the few things I actually remember about the film). Someone (I guess it would be Sammy) asks his mistress why she has a "W" tattooed on each of her buttocks, and she replies, "It's so, when I bend over, it spells 'WOW.'"
1. I saw 'Syriana' Friday, the Oscar-bait drama about the oil industry, the Middle East and terrorism written and directed by Stephen Gaghan, the Oscar-winning screenwriter of 'Traffic.' 'Syriana' cuts between four different plotlines instead of 'Traffic's' three, and in terms of narrative complexity, it makes 'Traffic' look like 'The Legend of Zorro.' I'm certainly glad movies like it, which try to do justice to the complexities of real-world issues, can get made, but 'Syriana' is stubbornly hard to love. It reminded me of Mad Magazine's spoof of 'The French Connection' in the early 1970s, called 'What's the Connection?' with random scenes interrupting the Gene Hackman-esque guy, and characters asking each other 'Yes, but what's the connection?' 'Syriana' also makes me think that, in anticipation of the Academy Awards, that there's going to be another 'Million Dollar Baby' this year. Last year at this time no one was talking about 'MDB,' but it made its way into year-end contention and went onto win, well, practically everything. This year, 'Walk the Line' is not as good as 'Ray,' 'Rent' is not as good as 'Chicago,' 'Syriana' is not as good as 'Traffic,' and while 'Cinderella Man' is probably better than 'Seabiscuit,' will its disappointing summer box office work against it? I dunno -- but I'm sure some kind of dark horse that nobody's talking about right now will be really big in a few weeks. But which? 'The White Countess?' 'The Libertine?' 'Aeon Flux?' 'Cheaper by the Dozen 2?'
2. I recently read the novel 'Woken Furies' by Richard K. Morgan, which sort of revives the cyberpunk genre with a cool sci-fi premise that takes too long to explain while I'm trying to play catch-up. Not as good as the guy's previous book about the same character, 'Broken Angels' (which is like a 25th century 'Three Kings,' in the sense that it's a thrilling, cynical heist story set in a war zone); 'Woken Furies' tries to cover more material than it needs to. But it has the quote of the week: ""It's amazing how constant repetition can make even the most obvious truths irritating enough to disagree with." (It reminds me of listening to the Majority Report.)
3. Also read 'The Brief and Frightening Reign of Phil' by George Saunders, a sort-of young-adult novella that's a satire about demagogeury. Good for what it is, but I'm impatient for him to have another story collection (to follow 'CivilWarLand in Bad Decline' and 'Pastoralia'). He's published in the New Yorker often enough that you'd think there'd be enough material.
4. SPOILER: Taken aback that 'Lost' killed off Shannon (can't remember the actress's name), not just because there seemed to be plenty of potential conficts/developments for her character, but also simply because of her looks. Somehow I don't think ABC execs were saying, "What, a young, tall blonde? Get her outta here!" Maybe there are behind-the-scenes reasons that we don't know about... I guess what's her name (I just think of her as 'Girlfight') is her de facto replacement. I liked the last ep what's been going on with the other survivors and can't wait for the flashback episode for Mr. Eko (who played the very frightening Adebisi on 'Oz'). But the flashbacks arcs haven't done much for me this season -- it's like they're taking time building up stuff (what happened to Jack's wife? Or Locke's legs? Why the heck was Hurley in a mental institution?) that'll pay off later.