December 26th, 2006


drawing to a close

I've been up since 9:45 a.m., and I'm still trying to shake off the dreamsickness. An IV drip of taurine might help. I'm settling for coffee. Don't write it down. Forget it all. Push it away.

But at least frelling Xmas is mostly passed and will not come again until next October.

Yesterday, I wrote 1,462 words on "The Sphinx's Kiss." It's going quite well. Spooky likes it a lot, which is almost always a good thing, that especial enthusiasm she gets sometimes. I'd hoped to finish the story yesterday, but got distracted reading Oscar Wilde's Salomé.

Not much else to yesterday (the familiar refrain). Spooky made gingerbread. I did some Wikipedia. I forgot to go outside. I taught my mother (via e-mail) how to make a hyperlink. We watched Anthony Bourdain's Beirut special, which was really very good. We have fallen somewhat is love with him. Spooky and I have agreed we would consent to be the wives of Anthony Bourdain. Or, hell, just the kept women of Anthony Bourdain. Oh, and we watched Ron Howard's adaptation of The DaVinci Code.

Going in — knowing as I did that all that business about the Priory of Sion has been shown to be a hoax and so on and so forth — I resolved to watch this simply as an action/adventure/fantasy film. Like, say, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, with which is seemed likely to share a good deal of common ground. Problem is, Ron Howard's film is dull as dirt, Tom Hanks makes a lousy Indiana Jones, and I absolutely could not force from my mind the knowledge that millions of people genuinely believe this stuff. I can't recall the last time I saw performances that felt so phoned in. Really. Tom Hanks appears to be asleep through most of the film. Audrey Tautou is lifeless (and I didn't think that was possible). Jean Reno looks baffled and bored. Only Ian McKellen brings any iota of passion to his role, but even he seems to be on autopilot, going through the motions, falling back on Gandalf more than actually trying wrangle something from the character of Sir Leigh Teabing. And it's no wonder. This is not a film about people. There is hardly a smidgen of characterization to be found anywhere. This is a film about an idea. Indeed, the film simply grinds to a halt once Sophie Neveu and Robert Langdon reach Teabing's estate, so Gandalf can recite a litany of pseudohistory, double talk, and conspiracy nonsense in a lecture that must have lasted a good half hour. Even Hans Zimmer's score falls flat. In the end, there is very little good that can be said about the film, which should not come as a surprise, really. I think the only thing that continues to surprise me is that a book and film which posits that all of modern Xtianity is built upon a vicious, murderous hoax and that falls just shy of suggesting "the pagans" had it right to start with has been so incredibly popular in the Xtianized West.

Also, has it occurred to no one that a geneticist could not use the body of Mary Magdalene to confirm that Sophie Neveu is the last living descendant of Jesus? For that matter, one likely could not even use the remains in the sarcophagus to demonstrate that she was related to the historical Mary Magdalene. Genetic testing could only confirm or deny her relationship to that corpse, which might well be anyone. Even if irrefutable documentation existed to demonstrate that the corpse was Mary Magdalene (and it's hard to imagine how it could), without a genetic sample that could be unquestioningly attributed to Jesus with with Sophie's genotype could also be compared...well...the best one could determine is that Sophie Neveu is related to the woman in the sarcophagus. Period. Isn't this obvious? At any rate, the film is, at it's least annoying, a wishful but debunked fantasy and further evidence that people will believe just about anything, no matter how dumb, as long as someone presents it with a straight face.

We're working our way through Mirkwood, and I'm astounded that in all his footnotes Mark Z. Danielewski never once makes mention of either The Hobbit or The Lord of the Rings, when so much obvious resonance exists between House of Leaves and particalr portions of Tolkien's novel. Mirkwood, Moria, the House on Ash Tree Lane. It's an odd omission. I can't believe that Danielewski is unfamiliar with Tolkien. Maybe I just missed it somehow in my two readings of HoL.

Anyway, time to make the doughnuts.