Saturday, January 8th, 2011

Our Saturday morning ritual included breakfast at the farmer’s market, the first one this winter after they moved to the senior center on Mifflin Street. Scrambled eggs, breakfast sausages, toast, mixed vegetables and fresh spinach. We took our trays upstairs where the crowds wouldn’t be so bad and it would be a lot warmer. The ground-floor entrance was pretty much open all the time with the steady stream of people traipsing in and out, allowing the Merry Little Breezes to come in and play, and temps outside were in the teens all morning. If we’d taken a table downstairs, my scrambled eggs would have gone from hot to stone-cold in about three minutes, and my feet would turn blue.

We found a table with a few empty chairs upstairs and the people who were sitting there were just finishing up, so in a few minutes we had the whole table to ourselves until the people who had been in line behind us showed up and asked if they could join us. One of them was from Hawaii.

“You came here from Hawaii?” I asked her. “In January? What were you thinking?” She allowed as to how that wasn’t the very best planning, and that if she were ever to come back it would probably be later in the year, like June.

Another woman in the party told us she came to the farmer’s market every week, same as we did. She was from a bit closer than Hawaii: Middleton, just on the other side of town, and said that she used to ride her bicycle into town every Saturday, spend the morning at the market, then ride back. “That’s about a six- or eight-mile trip, isn’t it?” I asked her. “Pretty good ride!”

“Well, I was a lot younger then,” she noted.

We rounded up some fresh veggies and other food stuffs after we finished breakfast, then stopped along Willy Street on the way home so we could complete our Saturday morning ritual: B ducked into the co-op to pick up a few things for tonight’s dinner, and I cleared an armload of books off the shelves at St. Vinnie’s thrift store.

Instead of going straight home after that we put the shop in Shopko, detouring to the South Towne Mall to see if they sold DVD players. Ours went on the fritz last week and we like watching movies enough that we decided to bite the bullet and buy a new one, figuring we could find a cheap-o model for about a hundred bucks as Shopko. Shows how long it’s been since we’ve bought any kind of electronic gadget (about ten years, we figured out later). DVD players started at about forty bucks, and even those were pretty good. And tiny! “Look at how little it is!” B squealed as if she were cuddling a newborn puppy, holding up a model no bigger than the plastic cases that DVDs are sold in.

Home again, home again, jiggidy-jog, I watched Moon, the Sam Rockwell movie about a guy who’s been working alone on the surface of the moon for three years and is either going crazy, or the victim of a corporate plot. It’s never really clear, and I’m not sure whether or not I liked it. But I finally watched it, a week after I rented it from Bongo Video! After all the late fees I knew I’d be stuck with, I was determined to watch every damned minute of it, even if it sucked. I don’t think it sucked, but I’m not sure what happened and I don’t like that kind of uncertainty. I like my movies a little more blunt. Like almost to the point of trauma. I need to be hit over the head with a plot point in order for it to sink in. Maybe I’ll wake up tomorrow morning and it’ll be a little clearer.

Oh, hell, might as well just spoil the whole thing for you. It’s my blog, and your free will. Stop reading if you don’t want to know what happens.

Rockwell plays Sam Bell, who is working alone on the far side of the moon. That right there seemed pretty improbable to me, so I had trouble suspending disbelief from the start. How would anybody be expected to work alone for three whole years? Not just alone, but on the far side of the moon, cut off from everyone else in every way, physically and emotionally isolated. Utterly. Cut. Off. It just doesn’t seem likely.

Bell had a robot sidekick named Gerty, voiced by Kevin Spacey. I have to say it would be just plain awesome to have a robot voiced by Kevin Spacey in my house, but if all I had to talk with for three years was a robot, I’d go completely ga-ga in very short order no matter whose voice was coming out of it. A robot companion is the most sure-fire way I can think of to drive a guy batshit crazy in a movie about working alone on the far side of the moon.

The movie opened showing Bell with Charles Manson hair and a beard, just in case you didn’t get the idea right off the bat that he was a little crazy. His one job is to get in a truck and drive out to one of four automated mining machines whenever they gather enough helium-3 for him to send back to earth. Everything else about the operation is automated. All he does it drive up behind the mining machines through a hail of rocks, like that makes any sense, drive his truck up on to the machine’s tailgate, hop off, pick up a tin can full of helium-3, take it back to base and put it on a sled that’s launched into space on a rail gun. The Kevin Spacey robot even tells him it can do the job but he does it anyway. So why Bell is there, I don’t know.

One day, he sees a woman in the space station. Obviously she shouldn’t be there. A day or two later while he’s driving out to pick up some helium-3 from a mining machine, he sees the woman again standing on the surface of the moon. This is obviously a little distracting and while his mind is wandering the mining machine runs over his truck.

Bell wakes up in the infirmary. He doesn’t remember the crash so he doesn’t ask the robot, which hangs from the ceiling on a steel pipe, how he got there, but it was the first question that popped into my mind. In the next scene he catches the robot talking to his corporate overlords using his video phone, when all along he’s been told that the direct satellite link is down because of a solar flare. Since this is a crucial plot point, I have to ask: Why would a robot talk on the phone with a human? Doesn’t it have a wireless card or whatever they’re using for a direct router connection in the future? Why would it say anything aloud instead of, I don’t know, texting? It doesn’t make any sense … unless Bell is crazy and imagines this part.

Eventually, Bell is well enough to get back to work, but the robot won’t let him go outside. Bell orders it to let him out and the robot tells him he’s not allowed to let Bell out, so Bell plays a trick that is so obvious that nobody, especially not a robot that presumably knows everything that’s going on everywhere in the station, would fall for it. The robot falls for it and lets Bell out.

Bell drives his truck out to the wrecked mining machine and finds another Bell trapped in another pickup truck. Bell One brings Bell Two back to the moon station and puts him in the infirmary. For the middle third of the movie they nervously pace around each other, trying to figure out if this is craziness or what. At this point the movie was still an interesting psychological drama about how a person goes crazy in isolation, especially when Bell Number Two started jabbering about a bizarre corporate plot to run the helium-3 mining project using cloned human slaves.

But then the story seemed to take a wide left turn and became a story about a bizarre corporate plot to run a mining project using clone slaves! Bell One and Bell Two discover a vast underground room with thousands of cloned Bells! And the robot confirms that he’s a clone with implanted memories. Of course, this could all have been a paranoid fiction made up by the crazy mind of Bell … until Bell Two hatches a plan that involves waking up another Bell clone, which he does all on his own, isolated from Bell One.

Once Bell Two and Bell One are acting independently, it’s not about being crazy any more. Bell One watches Bell Two escape the station by using the rocket sled that delivers helium-3 to Earth. Bell Two is show escaping. Bell Three is still on the station.

So he wasn’t crazy! Oh, maybe a little, but the Manson beard was obviously a case of classic misdirection! The imaginary girl was a red herring! He wasn’t crazy at all … or was he? Well, shit, I don’t know, and by the time the credits rolled I didn’t care much anymore, to tell you the truth. So I guess the movie sucked after all. I would’ve liked the psychological drama, but the crazy clone conspiracy wasn’t all that interesting. Too bad, because I like Sam Rockwell.

Speaking of which, how many movies has Sam Rockwell been bare-assed in his movies? He was absolutely buck naked in Confessions of a Dangerous Mind, again in Charlie’s Angels, and once again he shows off his ass in a shower scene in Moon. Were there any more that you remember?

Eggs For Breakfast | 11:38 pm CST
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