"2001, an Odd Spacity"


Thanks to TiVo, I was able to spend part of New Year’s watching a three-hour cinematic exercise in inaccurate futurism I enjoyed much more than “2001”: Wim Wenders’ “Until the End of the World”. Now, I’m not saying it was BETTER than “2001”, it’s just one of my all-time favorite long movies; its highlights include (Obligatory Spoiler Warning) a female lead character who actually grows emotionally (how often do you see that?), a whirlwind world tour of videophone design, stunning Australian outback scenery, more hauntingly beautiful pop music than I thought existed in ’91, more ways than any other film to make William Hurt hurt (I am a sadistic punster), having “The End of the World” of the title occur approximately halfway through, and the film’s final resolution, in which Sam Neill, using an old fashioned typewriter, achieved his final victory of the written word over computer-generated video dreams (another inspiration for me to resume weblogging – if you don’t like my stuff, blame Wim Wenders).
As for “2001”, I saw the movie when it first came out in theaters, sitting through the full-length of the interminably long psychedelic “flight” sequence; I bought the book by Arthur C. Clark to help me figure out what it was all about; I even named a pet cockatiel after a minor character in the movie (Dr. Floyd, who was much more central to the “2010” sequel). I know all about “2001: A Space Odyssey”, okay?

But three days into the real year of the same name, I am sick and tired of hearing about it.

I was starting to get itchy when the Oxymoronic cable channel BBC America titled its pre-New-Years Red Dwarf marathon: “2001 A Space Oddity” (and I would think David Bowie would be slightly ticked).

And I blissfully ignored it when one of Ted Turner’s channels aired the original movie at Midnight on New Years (the last time I saw it on TV I caught myself wondering “were those pods always orange, or did Ted colorize them?”). I must admit, last year’s Millennial hype was much more fun, if only to see ABC’s Peter Jennings develop sleep-deprivation-dementia.

And that new Priceline commercial with the Hendrix-esque “Zarathustra” wailing over slow-motion close-ups of William Shatner’s artificial hairline really got to me!

But now, you can’t open a news site’s homepage without getting more “2001:ASO” post-millennial cross-promotion:

Arthur C. Clarke has signed up to participate in a cosmic message in a bottle, which, though it’s called “Encounter 2001”, won’t launch until the third quarter of 2003. His contribution: a DNA sample and a handwritten note saying “Fare well my clone!”

The Fairfield, Connecticut, Arts Council thinks has decided to honor “2001” actor and area resident Keir Dullea, with their artist of the year award, even though he hasn’t done much in the last 30 years…

And then there’s the 2001-esque obelisk mysteriously dropped into Magnusson Park in Seattle.

Why Seattle?

Are the Cosmic Forces That Be hoping it might fall over and crush a high-ranking Microsoft official?

Do the local residents more resemble the pre-humans that discovered the monolith in the movie than in any other major US city?

Or is it just a piece of left-over material from Seattle’s Boeing days – a part on a Stealth Bomber that just came out of Stealth mode?

Or did Pat Cashman (my favorite Seattlite) need a new topic for his column?

Just don’t wake me when Steve Jobs introduces “MAC HAL”.

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