Jade's Trick

Reviews, Spotlights, and Randomosity of all things under the sun.

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Location: Hartford, Connecticut, United States

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Sunday, May 29, 2005

"I have the high ground." -- Star Wars Episode III

If you don't know where that line's from, consider yourself fortunate. That's right, this is a negative review.

Star Wars Episode III sadly sucked. I know I'm in the minority of critics, but my theory is that there's a groupthink going on wherein everyone has reached the conclusion that the third one must be good since it doesn't suck quite as much as the other two prequels. Well, wrong that groupthink is, and because of it, I went in expecting something at the very least "ok." I was sorely disappointed.

Perhaps I should elaborate. You see, I didn't originally want to see this movie until it came out on DVD. My plan was to wait for a friend to rent or buy it and then mooch; I'd been burned badly by the first two prequels and didn't want it to happen again. However, after it came out, all the critics gave it a pretty good rating, and my friends recommended it. Therefore, I went in thinking I was in for a treat. So the movie started, and my phantom mustache started drooping. I said to myself, "Well, Blaine, I'm sure it gets better later on. No one's talked much about the beginning anyway, so its probably not the good part." So I waited, and waited, and kept waiting until the credits rolled. It never really got good, with one or two enclosed exceptions.

I'm not going to bother with a plot summary. If you don't already know what basically happens, you need to get that plate in your head replaced with something not made out of lead, because it's leaking into your cranium.

Let's start with the things I liked, although many of these bleed over into the (many) things I didn't. I liked the opening shot of the space battle. It was amusing and surprising in a way similar to how the beginning of episode IV must have been way back in the '70s. I liked Yoda's lightsaber fights. They seemed to have lost a lot of the absurdity they had in Episode II (in large part because Episode II had helped to desensitize people to Yoda with a lightsaber). I LOVED virtually everything having to do with Obi Wan. At one point, he infiltrates the enemy's army and flips out and kills everyone. So totally cool. The special effects were well done, as always. And finally, I thought there was a certain pleasure to be gained from watching the movies finally connect.

Now on to the lengthier list: here are some of the things I disliked.

First, let's go back to the connection value of this movie. Although I admit it has a certain appeal, I feel that the very existence of this movie absolutely destroys the stupendous way the original three were in medias res. Now, it's a natural progression instead of a beautiful confusion. Blech.

Second, I will speak of the single most egregious flaw of the movie: Anakin's vision that "Padme will die in childbirth." This basically leads him down the dark path, turning him into Vadar. And, it's completly, totally, and utterly BULLSHIT (pardon my Hungarian). At the tech level Star Wars has, this simply cannot happen. Even today, death of the mother during childbirth in the US is virtually unknown. For example, this site gives the % as 0.00003 (on the high end). In a galaxy with light speed, fully articulate droids, and the ability to give a person with third degree burns and only stumps for limbs a brand new body of basically normal human dexterity (Vader), there is no plausible way for a very rich and healthy young woman with easy access to sophisticated medical systems could die due to childbirth. If this was a smaller thing, it might be forgivable, but since the entire movie basically hinges on it, its terrible quality strongly negatively impacts the whole film. Corollary to this, Padme dies at the end because she "lost the will to live." They specifically state that she has no medical problems whatsoever; she dies only because Anakin turned evil and she couldn't take it. Another big BULLSHIT stamp right across that; if you could die just by wanting too, the suicide rate would be much much higher than it is. Both of these problems are the result of extremely lazy and unimaginative writing.

Third, red shirt jedi. "Red shirt" alludes to the original Star Trek series; whenever the command crew went on an Away mission, they would take some unnamed crewman with them, and these crewmen would always wear red shirts. They were there to die so that the audience would know when the situation had gotten serious (for a detailed description of what playing a red shirt will do to an actor, go watch Galaxy Quest. In fact, see that movie instead of this, as it's a lot better). So, a red shirt is someone who has no purpose but to die. Like all jedi in this movie (excluding Obi Wan and Yoda, of course). Let's start with the jedi that accompany Mace Windu to arrest Palpatine. All I will say is this: I, one who is not a Star Wars fanboy, one who almost never resorts to violence, one who would probably sooner slice myself with a lightsaber than my enemy, could have survived longer than those jedi. One gets the impression that they were in fact bums off the street to whom Mace had picked yup as an impromptu entourage. As I said, I know very little about swordfighting, but I do know that ou do not raise your sword over your head just as your enemy thrusts, thus giving him a completelly clear shot to your torso. Next, let's talk about the jedi the clones killed . Now, many of these we have seen on the Jedi Master's Council, so they are all at least as awesome as Obi Wan, if not awesomer. They die ... wait for it ... from regular blaster blasts while they have all their uber jedi senses active and their lightsabers out and at the ready. I repeat my mantra from earlier: BULLSHIT. The whole point of being a jedi is that stuff like that can't happen to you. Jedi don't get shot by blasters, period. There weren't even that many blasts, for goodness sake!

Third, during the opening scene, Anakin and Obi Wan pretty much destroy a big 'ol ship in orbit over what appears to be Corruscant, causing it to immediately crash into the planet. Let me repeat that so it's perfectly clear: a ship in outer-space orbit lost its engines and promptly fell into the planet. Mantra time: BULLSHIT. At the very least, they would have a couple hours before it crashed in, and in all likelyhood they would have much more time than that.

Fourth, the acting was almost universally terrible and wooden (Obi Wan was pretty good though). Hayden Christensen was a bit better in this movie than in the last one, but not by much. Even Christopher Lee in his short role as Count Dooku had pretty poor acting, which surprised the heck outta me since he had a darned good turn as Sauruman.

Fifth, the dialogue in some parts was unbearably bad, specifically the scenes between Padme and Anakin. Now, I'm told by a friend that he has a credible source that claims that Natalie Portman and Hayden Christensen despise each other in real life, which would explain (but by no means excuse) why the acting during those parts was so particularly terrible, but no pair of actors in the world could have pulled off those lines convincingly. I found Yoda's dialogue to sound like a broken record; yes, Yoda's supposed to have semilatinate grammar, but that doesn't preclude at least some variation, not does it mean he has to speak everything with the verb at the end.

Sixth, the lightsaber battles. They were ... boring. I mean, they didn't totally suck or anything, and despite what some say I don't think they went on for too long, but by and large, these battles offered nothing at all new, nothing at all interesting, and nothing at all worth paying $10 for. The duels in the original series were all either heavily intersperced with conversation or short; here, they were obviously trying to make the lightsaber fights selling points for those in search of a good action movie, but in comparison to the fights from Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon or Hero, they were superrepetetive pointless drivel.

Seventh, run time. This movie ddddrrrrraaaaaggggggsssssss. At 2 hours and 16 minutes, it's not much longer than Episode IV, but it should have been much shorter. The last twenty minutes, for example, were completely and utterly unnecessary. The audience learns almost nothing new, and what was learned was either unimportant, stupid, or patantly obvious. For example, they waste our time by showing us Senator Organa taking baby Leia home to his wife. We've already been told this will happen; if you watch Episode IV, you know for certain. Showing us this accomplishes nothing whatsover, and I find it rather insulting. I don't need my hand held every single step of the way. This film also has a sordid love affair with long monotonous shots of ships landing, people getting out of the ships, people walking across the landing pad, people walking back to their ships, people closing the canopy, people checking their harneses, people checking the gauges, people powering up the engines, people slowly taking off, people slowly flying out into space, people slowing jumping to light speed..... I think you get the picture.

Eight, travel time, namely lack thereof. If someone wants to be somewhere, they jump on a ship and whhhuuup! they are there without even a moment lost. Laughably quick travel time is a Star Wars staple (light speed, even if it were possible, would not be able to get you from an outer rim planet to a more center planet in anything less than many decades), but at least the original three had some transit time; the trip from Tatooine to Alderan gave R2 and Chewy enough time play a board game and Luke enough time to learn the basics of blaster fire blocking. Here, none of that. BULLSHIT, says I!

Ninth, the whole shades thing. You know how Obi Wan and Yoda come back as shades after their deaths? This movie decided to "explain" this. Apparently, Qui Gon Jin discovered a way in his afterlife for Jedi to become shades, and apparently Yoda and Obi Wan spend the next 25 years mastering this technique. Ignoring how stupid and unnecessary it is (who questioned it in the original three?), it flat out doesn't make sense because at the end of Episode VI, Anakin can do it too! Yes, he's teh uber, but so is Yoda and he still had to study. It's an inconsistency, and when cut up into letters and rearranged, it spells out BULLSHIT.

Tenth, all the little things. At the beginning when those bugbots cover his ship, why wouldn't Obi Wan just use his jedi telekinesis to get rid of them? R2-D2 of course makes his appearance, but he feels very very gimicky. Everyone seems to have this remarkable ability to pull names from the ether (ie Padme randomly barks "Luke" and "Leia," Darth Sidious just happens to have "Darth Vader" lying about his mind, etc etc). General Grevious spent a lot of the movie walking around hunched over and coughing, which was extremely stupid and contrived; althought it was kindasorta explained later on, it could have easily been omitted with nothing lost. And finally, jedi repeatedly reference Anakin's great power and Obi Wan even remarks that he can never match Anakin's prowess, but it is not once shown; yes, he does better than Obi Wan vs. Count Dooku, but Palpatine didn't need or want Obi Wan to live, so he just had Dooku go a little easier on Anakin and a little harder on Obi Wan.

Ok, that's it. Here are the final ratings.

Action: 2.6/5 scrapped ships (Decent, but boring. Rating bumped higher because of Obi Wan).
Acting: 1/5 brown robes (If not for Ewan McGregor, this would have been a 0/5).
Story: 2.5/5 space fighters (Star Wars is usually quite good with at least the story, but certain problems, namely "Padme dying in childbirth," dragged it down a lot).
Sound: 3/5 droids (I didn't notice it once).
Dialogue: -1/5 buckets of lava (Most of the movie just has mediocre dialogue, but it has far more dialogue which causes physical pain in anyone who hears it).
Visuals: 3.5/5 exposed shield generators (Good, as always. Just seemed kinda pointless, as nothing that hasn't been done before is done).

Overall (not necessarily determined by the above categories): 2/5 lightsabers (Not as bad as Episodes I or II, but objectively speaking a very crappy movie).

Sunday, May 22, 2005

"So I did." -- Running With Scissors

I'm gonna try something a little different this week.

Running With Scissors is Weirld Al Yankovich's 1999 album. If you don't already know, Weird Al's songs are pretty much all either parodies of songs, movies, and whatever, or random randomness, and they are usually pretty funny. Just grouping the songs all together couldn't possibly do them justice, so I'll go through the disk ditty by ditty.

The first song, "The Saga Begins," is a pretty good parody of Don Lean's "American Pie" which basically re-works the lyrics to be about Star Wars Episode 1. Although the Laugh factor is lowish, the song is clever and can be fun to listen to after watching the movie.
Humor: 2.5/5 midichlorians.

Next comes "My Baby's In Love With Eddie Vedder," which is not, to my knowledge, a parody of another song so much as about Eddie Vedder. This one is funnier than the first, but it perhaps would have been a better idea to parody someone more famous.
Humor: 3.2/5 sweaters.

"Pretty Fly For A Rabbi" comes in at slot #3. I'll give you three guesses which song it's parodying. Continuing the trend (up until now) of increasing funny, this has a number of laugh-out-loud moments. The rabbi in question is more than a little stereotypical, which would have been a stronger negative if it wasn't obviously not making a statement.
Humor: 3.6/5 shticks.

For a short time, Weird Al had a television show, and of course he wrote the theme song for it. "The Weird Al Show Theme" is that theme song, and it's one of those utterly nonsensical riffs that Weird Al's so good at. A mere 1:14 long, this song moves very fast and it will take a quick ear to catch it all the first time through.
Humor: 4/5 bear traps.

One of the funniest songs in the album, "Jerry Springer" parodies both Barenaked Ladies' "One Week" and (*gasp*) The Jerry Springer Show. The lines really pop out at you, utterly random and perfectly poignant at the same time. Although he's taking the show's premise to an absurd level, somehow it always seems just close enough to possibility to keep it from getting, well, absurd beyond recognition. Particularly funny is a short dialogue between two "guests" of the Jerry Springer show shouting back and forth at each other inserted in the middle. This song is damned funny.
Humor: 5/5 strippers (with the implants).

Following a high point is a low point: "Germs." I strongly dislike this song. First, its not funny. Second, you get the distinct impression that Weird All is standing uncomfortably close to you as he's singing it. And third, who wants to hear about germs covering everything?
Humor: 1/5 germs (duh).

He throws one of these in every album, but I still don't get them. "Polka Power" takes short refrains, verses, and snippets from various pop/etc. songs and plays them more quickly and in a higher octave than they were meant to be played, as well as with Weird Al's voice and to Polka. EXTREMELY bizarre, and rather funny, in its own way. It's hard to know exactly why its funny, though. Just ... yeah. Weirdness.
Humor: 3.5/5 pretty ones.

Also ranking near the top, "Your Horoscope For Today" is breathtakingly hilarious. Just everything from the lyrics to the tone, to the music, to the voice effects: everything comes together to create a beautiful amalgamation of funny and comedy. Most of the song is in an up-beat, happy voice, while singing terrible prophesies, but the single funniest moment is when it switches to a very low, menacing voice (while keeping the doom prophesies, of course).
Humor: 5/5 naked posters of Ernest Borgnine.

Another great song, "It's All About The Pentiums" is chock-full of computer geek lingo, computer geek injokes, and overall funny. A good song for anyone who's owned a computer, but those of you who churn through computer upgrades like a duck through warm saline solution will find it particularly interesting. (See that thing about a duck through saline solution? That's the sign that I need to go to bed. A sign that a intent wholeheartedly to ignore).
Humor: 4/5 nice, heavy, paper weights.

"Truck Drivin' Song" weirds even me out, and that's not easy to do. I'm sorry, but truckers just should *not* be allowed to use the words "crotchless panties," especially when they are talking about how they "ride up." *Shudders* Whatever you do, do *not* sing this song outloud near other people while listening to the album with headphones.
Humor: 2/5 rhinestone pumps (it's not that its unfunny, its just that it weirds me out too much to make me laugh).

"Grapefruit Diet," the calm before the storm, disappoints. Although the execution of the idea is pretty well done, it still ends up being flat-out not funny. The beat's pretty good, though.
Humor: 1/5 aerial-view pictures.

The last pays for all. "Albuquerque" is exactly eleven minutes and twenty five seconds of sheer hilarity (as opposed to opaque hilarity, the poser of the hilarity universe). Similar to "The Weird Al Show Theme," "Albuquerque" isn't parodying anything or anyone; its just random and arbitrary. Really, every moment of this song/story has parts that make sense and parts that really don't, and it all works just well. A delightful song definitely worth the price of the album all by itself.
Humor: 5/5 molecules on Leonard Nemoy's butt.

Well ... that's pretty much it ... might as well wrap up, though ...

Overall Humor (not necessarily directly determined by the above ratings): 5/5 boxes of starving crazed weasels (If you don't want to laugh, avoid this album like a rare Albanian cheese plague).
Melody: 4/5 Kings of Confrontation (Although there are undoubtedly better scores elsewhere, the music itself is still pretty good).
Sing-a-long-a-bility: 4.5/5 high heels (Most of the songs are great fun to sing along with, but it's very difficult to do this with a few, namely "Albuquerque").
CD Visuals: 3.5/5 TicketMasters (Although the pictures used for the CD case were good, they were rather predictable considering the title).

Overall (not necessarily determined by the above categories): 4.5/5 Columbia Record Clubs (Funny funny funny! That's funny^3, which, for those of you without calculators capable of computing that, is a whole lot of funny!).

Monday, May 16, 2005

"Gurgle." -- Water (yes, *water.* Do shut up).

Laugh, darn you!

Water. It's everywhere. It's in the air, the plumbing, and even in you. It's the most overrated substance of all time, and it's time to take it down a notch or seventy.

The plot is pretty simple: two happy-go-lucky hydrogen atoms are walking along when BAM! They're knocked on the head by a very depressed oxygen atom which promptly duct-tapes itself to our captured heroes. Then, this water molecule goes around and does weird, pointless things that don't make any sense in context; for example, there's this one scene in which it moves around a computer and cools it, but in the very next scene it's frozen (so it's even colder now) and surrounding a person with a bunch of its buddies and the person is heated up. The continuity editor clearly didn't do his job well at all, as this isn't even the only plot hole (it gets smaller when it goes from gas to liquid but gets larger when it goes from liquid to gas).

The CG for water is terrible. Stick a pencil in it and you know what happens? THE PENCIL BREAKS!!!! But of course when you take it out, it's just like nothing ever happened again. What the fuzzy? And what the heck is up with the sound? It's either "gurgle," "shhhhhhh," or "glorp." Why can't we have just a little variation from time to time? Just once I'd like to hear a water fountain bust out with some Led Zepplin or a little Mozart.

Don't even get my started about water as a beverage. It's the only drink I know of that actually tastes better when you put ground-up rocks (taken right off the ground, no less) into it. What's worse, you have to actually pay people to throw those rocks into your water for you! Water is two things: Oxygen and hydrogen, but since water's so sneaky it doesn't want you to know that. Instead, it tries to con you out of your hard-earned cabbage leafs with claims such as "2% dirt" and "24% quartz shavings." Don't get sucked into the scam!

Water thinks its got such a great sense of humor, but it's really just a one trick pony that plays around with variations of "Get person X wet." When will Hollywood learn that getting people wet just isn't funny? It's clownish at best, but since clowns wouldn't know humor if it came up and offered them $1,293,513.57 to dance to the beat of A Different Drummer, it's best is pret-ty forlorn.

Bah! My blood is boiling just thinking about this stupid molecule, so I'm going to move on to the scoring.

Action: 3.5/5 spewing geysers (I have to admit that water does a pretty good job of causing mayhem when at high pressures. It's a real sight to see a pillar of water 45 feet high).
Acting: 0/5 reflective surfaces (It's just so cold, flat, and emotionless. It just sits there and does nothing! However, the Academy likes this sort of actor, so it'll probably win at least Best Supporting).
Story: 1/5 falling droplets (It's a dull tired story with no surprises: evaporation, condensation, precipitation. However, I've seen worse).
Sound: 1.5/5 icicles (Although there's a certain charm to the EXACT SAME NOTE FOR TWENTY FOUR HOURS A DAY, if you're into that sort of thing, most of the time it's just irritating. It bores into the back of your skull and sticks there, like a post-it with accidental superglue).
Visuals: 2/5 vapor bursts (Although it's a little cool that it can play the mirror, most of the time the water's just lazy, making errors like the pencil thing left and right).

Overall (not necessarily determined by the above categories): 1/5 invisible bacterium (There's no good reason to go see this, as it offers nothing new or interesting in the least. Really, it's one of the biggest flops to come out of the industry since sliced motherboards. I weep when I think of that amount of thought that must have gone into water to make it as low quality as it is).

Sunday, May 08, 2005

"I think this is where you and I shake hands." -- Unbreakable

See? I said I'd get back to reviewing and indeed I did. Enjoy!

Unbreakable was the first movie M. Night Shyamalan did after The Sixth Sense, and it flopped. Unfairly so, however, because it was incorrectly marketed as a thriller. As a speculative fiction / drama piece, however, it awes.

Basic plot summary: Bruce Willis survives a horrible train wreck, meets Samuel L. Jackson as a man with extremely brittle bones, and finds out he's a superhero. See, here's where the movie was mistagged: it poses a "What if" question and then shows us a character on a self-discovery mission rather than spending the 107 minutes trying to get out blood pumping. Additionally, unlike in The Sixth Sense, the ending doesn't make the movie. Yes, it's a damned bizarre, interesting, clever, and enlightening ending, but the movie won't be ruined for you if someone tells you going in "Oh, and by the way: Bruce Willis is a ghost."

Let's talk about the drama. The acting makes or breaks drama, and the acting here is magnificent. I couldn't even really tell that these were actors. The lines they deliver so well are so realistic that, again, it becomes impossible to tell that they are, in fact, lines and not merely spontaneously generated speech. Due in large part to the drama and the way the drama takes place, this superhero movie doesn't feel at all like a superhero movie. And yes, that's a good thing, at least here.

This realism juxtaposes, and greatly strengthens, the somewhat shakey speculative elements of the film. Bruce Willis has four basic superpowers: 1) super strength (although he has to exert himself, he can seemingly lift as much as he has to), 2) super toughness (he survived a car crash in high school and a train crash more recently, for example), 3) super immune system (he has never been sick, with one exception due to his weakness, water), and 4) limited telepathy (he gets mental pictures of when someone's "done something wrong"). These are never really explained; there's no father who worked at a nuclear plant, and he wasn't struck by lightning while skinny dipping or something similar. He just has these powers and always had. However, in a fit of circular logic, we can accept this irrational premise because the rest of the movie works so realistically, assuming the premise is correct. It's a really delicious dilemma that works quite well.

I won't bore you with my musings on every single part of the movie, but I simply must touch on the cinematics before I bid you adieu. Say what you will about Mr. Shyamalan, but it can't be denied that the man knows where to plop his cameras. He has this uncanny knock of finding the spot which will make the film most interesting. Even leaving out that pretty much every scene starts in medias res, the placement of our point of view forces us to spend just a few seconds quickly searching the screen in an attempt to ascertain where we are and what's happening. It keeps the audience on its toes and forces us to watch the movie more actively, something rarely seen in most American cinema. Add to this that he doesn't pull any punches with dialogue and you get a situation in which the audience really has to pay attention and use their craniums. It's refreshing, it's interesting, and it's beauty incarnate.

Action: 3.5/5 scrapped cars (The fight scene between Bruce and the janitor is not the best in cinema history, but it's still pretty good).
Acting: 5/5 green ponchos (Are these even actors? Are they instead real people in a documentary? These questions would be difficult to answer if not for secondary evidence, such as Bruce Willis' other acting gigs).
Story: 4/5 comic books (Many might not appreciate the story, which is admittedly flawed, but it's delivered which such a matter-of-fact style that questioning it is not the usually response. It resolves its "What If" questions pretty well, which is far more than many SF movies can say).
Sound: 3/5 pools (The music is pretty decent in this movie. I didn't find it particularly notable, for good or for ill).
Visuals: 5/5 glass canes (The camera angles wowed me).

Overall (not necessarily determined by the above categories): 4.5/5 paint canes (A deeply interesting, enthralling, and beautiful film, it's a shame more people haven't seen Unbreakable).

Sunday, May 01, 2005

Insert badly over-used "Flying Circus" reference here.

This week was movie-light for me, mostly because I've been playing Guild Wars a lot. (It is as good, if not better than, the beta made it seem). I saw Dr. Strangelove, or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb today, but spotlighting it would be stupidly pointless. If you haven't seen it, go out and see it. It's a classic for a reason. The "Behind the scenes" featurette was also pretty good.

Because Dr. Strangelove was the only movie I saw this week (and because I don't feel like half-assing a review of something I saw months ago), I will instead post a shortish semi-stream-of-consciousness piece I wrote a while ago. I'll probably have another review next week (perhaps of a certain new movie), so don't worry about this becoming a recurring theme. Anyway:


As I was running along the brick wall (full of cracks and absolutely perfectly straight lines of grought sticking out) at full speed (precariously close to the wall, might I add), I came to a startling revelation.

And I will not tell you what it is.

This is the sort of revelation that means nothing to anyone, not even me, but still affects my life profoundly. Indebtedly.

That revelation was chiefly why I was running along the brick wall (filled with cracks and perfectly geometric lines of grought poking out) at full speed (dangeresquely close to the wall, I might arithmatate). For, you see, my revelation was of the sort that it is, to be frank, personal and personal only. But of course, revelations, even of the persona variety, are meant to be shared. No sense in being selfish, after all. So few revelations to go around, after all.

So I shared it with the one person whom I thought would appreciate the profundity of it all. She did not, as my flight clearly suggests. Her volume button was depressed and I fear the neighbors telephoned the watch. So I ran and run and am running along that brick wall with such handsome and punctual lines.

My name is Jonathan Evergreen, Jack to many, Jackass to many more. My life is lived in shards. Like this one, for example. Shard 27B-6. Terrifying, isn’t it? Yes.

In the previous shard, 27B-5, I was walking my dog. Yes, more movement. Not along an angular brick wall, as I am now. No! my dog was on a stroll and I was accompanying him through a blue part of town. The homes were dressed in lightest robins egg, the streets were the color of exulted violet, and the city towers that stretched high into the sky to puncture the clouds themselves, those were the hue of blue that one only sees in a blood-stained carpet bombarded with the light of a sparrow’s wing in the sunrise.

Oh, it was so very very blue.

And I walked my blissfully color-blind dog walking down Blue Lane until he reached the intersection of Blue Lane and Blue Drive at which point we made a sharp right turn by way of the left hand side of the street, Blue Drive, sending us out an alley and into a tiny bookstore that happily allowed pets.

The bookstore was titled, appropriately enough, Blue Drive Hats. They sold mass-production paperbacks that had the built-in feature of being hat-like. I entered the clanging door, not really knowing what to expect, for although I had seen many paperback books before and many hats before, I had never yet seen a paperback book hat store in a blue street, which it indeed was.

Clangity bomp. Noisey sound the bells on the door make when opened. A small steel diode fell from a lofty place on the ceiling when I opened the door, landed on a small lever, and fired, via air cannon, a sliver-thin book-hat into my forehead where it buried itself, momentarily, until I thought about pain and it fell out of its own accord. Catching it, I read its phrase in one swift stroke – I seem to have lost it since thus – and that was enough to trigger what you might call an epiphany, but I call it revelation.

Nothing earth-shattering about the intensely personal revelation. It’s just something everyone should know, which is why I cannot tell you anything about it, except that its very simple while, at the same time, staring you right in the face.

My dog got away from me, exulted at the smell of bookish hat, a hat you can read. I would have chased him through the store, only to find him sniffing the tail end of an exhaust pipe somewhere in the Periodicals section except that a sign dropped from the roof displaying the only rule of the comely shop: “Never eat instant soup in a bar with monkeys.” Seemed reasonable enough, so I thought I’d try following it. It could be hard, however, as I intend fully to go to quite a few bars in my life, just as soon as I begin going to bars, and I think it highly likely that those bars will serve instant soup, particularly with monkeys.

It’s nice to see a store concerned about my morality. Finite.