Friday Flotsam: Top Gun and Reptile Videos

1. End of the week and I’m feeling very tired. As seems par for the course lately. Hitting that ‘don’t seem to be doing anything’ part of the cycle. Blah.

2. But working on that, breaking things down step-by-step to try to get myself moving in the right direction. I’ve been mostly meeting those small daily goals recently, so that’s a good thing. Just feels very dreary in the evenings

3. One thing I’ve started doing is going for a short walk first thing in the morning. It’s very pleasant and gives me something to sort of look forward to when I wake up, as opposed to trying to get myself either to exercise strenuously or sit and write. A walk strikes the perfect balance of being easy and pleasant, but also invigorating (especially at 6 am in January). I recommend it.

4. Saw Top Gun: Maverick last weekend and absolutely loved it. That’s easily the best example I’ve seen to come out of contemporary Hollywood of returning to a classic film and giving it a proper sequel. Granted, it requires retroactively undoing a bit of the original’s ending (Maverick hasn’t actually gotten over what happened to Goose, Kelly McGillis’s character is nowhere to be seen), but not in unbelievable or unacceptable ways. The romance was never very convincing in the original, to be honest, at least not as a “ladykiller is lost to the bachelor ranks” kind, and how often do we think we’re over something only for it to come back just as bad as ever? “When a demon leaves a house,” etc.

In any case, the important point is that Maverick’s character development from the original is intact; he’s older, wiser, and more mature than he was, even if he’s still a hot-headed pilot. Nor is he undermined by the young cast of new characters he has to train; he flies circles around them (one of the most satisfying parts of the film has him repeatedly curb-stomping the cocky youngsters in mock dogfights, this shortly after they’d wondered aloud who on earth was good enough to teach them).

This isn’t just satisfying to see a classic character proving himself against a lot of upstarts; it also ties into something rather beautiful the film does. See, Maverick isn’t just there to teach them how to be better, he’s there to show them that more is possible than they had thought. There’s a part where, after the pilots have repeatedly failed the test he set them, the commander wants to change the mission parameters to make it easier, even though this would mean exposing them to much greater danger. So Maverick jumps in a plane and flies the test himself to demonstrate to them that it can be done. They don’t have to lower their expectations of themselves or accept defeat; they are capable of more. It’s great, genuinely uplifting stuff.

(And, honestly, Jennifer Connelly is a big upgrade from Kelly McGillis – which shouldn’t be taken as too harsh, since Connelly would be an upgrade from most other actresses – and their relationship feels a lot more real to me)

5. My favorite part of the film, though, was Val Kilmer’s scene. The film works his real-life throat cancer into the story, lending a real sense of both melancholy and reflection to his meeting with Maverick. Story-wise, what’s happening here is two extreme high-achievers who came up together are meeting toward the end of their careers; one is still working, but knows his time on the job is running out, the other is dying. And, in real world terms, that’s exactly what it is. These two huge stars and fantastic actors from the 80s and 90s, whose careers were made by the same film return to their roles one last time; one of whom remains a powerhouse performer, perhaps the last real movie star of all time, the other crippled by illness.

(Kilmer is apparently doing much better than he was when the film was shot, by the way, though he’s mostly retired from acting of course).

It’s a really beautiful scene, full of heartfelt emotion and respect between the two men (Cruise was apparently very insistent that Kilmer be in the film). In many ways it feels like a farewell to that whole era of filmaking, as these two veterans say good-bye to each other. Indeed, the whole film is like that; a final bow for that kind of movie: the bombastic, gung-ho, idealistic stories told through practical effects supported by raw acting talent.

The whole tone of the film is embodied in the exchange between Maverick and Ed Harris:

“The end is inevitable, Maverick. Your kind is heading for extinction.”
“Maybe so, sir. But not today.”

6. Reptile care videos are proving a surprisingly addictive source of entertainment: I just discovered this channel.

The fun part is the host’s cheerful enthusiasm, even when he’s describing why no one in their right mind would want something like this as a pet. He says things like “You’re going to want to start working with that green anaconda while it is still too small to kill you,” in the same tone a youth pastor would use to explain how we’re all going to have fun and be safe.

Bonus: Gorgeous white King Cobra!

From another video: “For a giant turtle that can bite your hand off, they’re actually very easy to handle. But they’re a giant turtle than can bite your hand off.”

7. Finally got some substantial snow, so the world outside my windows is looking very pretty. Hopefully it’ll last a little while.

2 thoughts on “Friday Flotsam: Top Gun and Reptile Videos

  1. #3 – I was going to ask what you are doing regarding exercise, sunshine exposure, and proper diet to help manage your health. May I also suggest a fitness tracker s/a a fitbit? I’ve bought them for all of my family members and aggressively preach them to my coworkers as well.

    #4 – You have the correct opinions and some excellent thoughts. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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