Sunday, September 27, 2009

Twenty Years have passed, Boy!

Twenty years have passed, Boy
But the memory still warms me
Wild Flowers in a Mason Jar

A couple of months ago, I received my HP 20 year long service certificate. Twenty years ago, I'd just left Singapore Airlines, where I had an Engineering job and had been having a good time cavorting around the aircraft hanger and within the aircraft airframes. I was about to start a new career, in systems support for business mini-computers. The internet was just a research thing back then, but we did have a connection and got a lot of joy from the text based, terminal based apps of the day. This was well before Andreessen & Bina created Mosaic, the browser that would later become Netscape, the browser that would mark the start of the consumerisation of the internet.

The Smell of Rain......
and the Warm Earth in his Hands....

JenMei, now just starting her second year in Stanford, was born 20 years ago.
We were driving a dark metallic grey Honda Quintet back then.
Home was a 2 bedroom Bayshore Park apartment for which we were heavily (but in retrospect, thankfully), in debt.
My home PC was a IBM PC XT Clone with green monitor and an add-on mouse that required a special ISA card (think jumpers, IRQs, I/O addresses). I remember buying the mouse specifically to try out Win2.x. All the other DOS apps I was using had little need of a mouse.

...his face was mirrored in the window
And his reflection flew across the moonlit land

The Song of the Month (which is a rather odd naming convention, as I've not been very monthly about my song posts) is John Denver's "Wild Flowers in a Mason Jar", from his "Some Days are Diamonds" album. There are many great lines in the song. But what I like best about it is how it builds images of a journey, and a look back to simpler times.

Were those really simpler times, 20 years ago? George Bush the Elder was president of the US, Gorbachev was leading the Soviet Union, Margaret Thatcher was PM of the UK, Corazon Aquino was president of the Phillipines, and Lee Kuan Yew was Prime Minister of Singapore. The Soviets were pulling out of Afganistan, fleeing fighters and weapons that were later turned on the providers of those very weapons. Salman Rushdie was hiding to save his life. Exxon Valdez committed major environmental carnage against the Alaskan coast. Solidarity joined in the Polish Elections and the country saw a non-Communist become the elected Prime Minister. Massacre in Tiananmen Square. Ayatollah Khomeini moved to the next world. Tim Burton's version of Batman hit the cinemas, with the oddly cast Michael Keaton as Bruce Wayne. Aung San Suu Kyi began her house arrest that carries on till this day. Nelson Mandela's party took part in elections in South Africa, signalling the last days of Apartheid. And .........Matt Groening's "The Simpsons" premiered on Fox.

And so much has happened since then. We've said goodbye to lots of people who have left the physical world. We live in a different place. Our thinking has expanded & broadened. There's bigger geographic distances between family members. We've visited many new places and learnt new things. We have grown.
Twenty years have passed, Boy
But the memory still warms me

Wild Flowers in a Mason Jar

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Making my spirits go UP!

I have a new all time favourite movie.
How does Pixar keep coming up with films filled with heart, wisdom, fun, pathos, imagination and adventure?

UP! is a masterpiece.

The childhood dreaming of Carl and Ellie brought to mind Randy Pausch's last lecture.
The land around Paradise Falls made me think of Conan Doyle's, Edgar Rice Burroughs' & Jules Verne's respective Lost Worlds.
The little short before the main film was a lovely look at how some partners life gives us are partners that bring us pain, but it is still possible to love and to be faithful.
The colors thrown against the wall of the little girl's room, from the light coming through the balloons, rising up to the ceiling were spectacular.
The blueness of the sky, the little house against it and the balloons like a giant heart held by many, many strings.
The badges wanted not for themselves, but for the hope they gave Russell of seeing his Father again.
The need to let go of what's weighing us down, in order to lift off.
Charles Muntz fails as an adventurer and a person because what he wants is glory for himself. In contrast, Carl is doing what he does first for Ellie and then for Russell, and Russell does what he does in the hope of getting his Father back.
Kevin the bird, whose behaviour in his first scenes in the film harken back to the days of Chuck Jones' RoadRunner.
The dogs so brilliantly portrayed. Their behaviour and mannerisms (and speech!) was ultimately so dog like in devotion and simpleness ..... "squirril!" ...... "point!" .... "master!"
And Dug. He who once wore the cone of shame was the most adorable of all.

When the wonderfully rendered credits roll at the end of the film, you'll catch Brad Bird and John Lasseter listed. Oh happy fault, that both these masters of graphic storytelling had to leave Disney over creative differences (in very separate incidents), and eventually ended up working in the same company, Pixar.