Week 20: Life Finds a Way

So, I’ve been waiting for this week for a while now.

Velociraptor

SPOILER ALERT: Most of this post will be about Jurassic Park and my superfandom thereof.

But first:

The Fitness

You guys, I’m unable to find a reason to try any other trainer’s workouts.  Keaira LaShae is my new jam, officially.  Like, I’m thinking of buying her superhero fitness meal-plan book which she sends to your email as a PDF.  Only…it’s $25 and I’m having a hard time justifying that to myself for a PDF.  But then I tell myself, I’ll be supporting her as an artist! And Amazon.com will get NO cut of it.

I’ll let you know what I officially decide.

The reggae dancehall workout was slightly easier for me than the Tampa Twerk, mostly because there was no awkward pushup halfway through.  Brina K, her bestie, is back with her.  In fact, half the time, I found myself following Brina more than Keaira.  Brina’s moves are a little more user friendly, while Keaira (the amazing talent that she is) veers frequently into the Impossibly Redonkulous (see: her take on the canoe move at about 19:15 of the video above).

So…she’s got a bellydancing video and…obviously I had to do that the following week.

The Recipe

Early on in this week (so long ago I almost don’t remember it) I made this Chicken and Spinach Pasta Bake.  It was something I had most of the ingredients for laying around the house and it looked tasty.

And…it was.

Chicken Spinach

I recall being very fond of the dish when we had it for dinner.  I saw none of the leftovers.  Jason INHALED them, taking it to work the next day and the day after, texting me both days to make sure I knew how much he was enjoying them.

So…awesome?

The Book

   

Part of the reason I’m a little backlogged is that it took me a little while to finish my reading…I read both JURASSIC PARK books in a little over a week!

For those of you that don’t know, Jurassic Park is my favorite movie.  It wasn’t always.  For a very long time, that title belonged to Fight Club.  But over the years, I’ve found that I keep coming back to John Hammond’s cloned dinosaurs.  I own the trilogy and I watch it at least once a year (though, for some reason, I always-ALWAYS fall asleep during the third one).  I think all of this evolved for me (do NOT pardon the pun) when I worked with the Lucy Fossil.

Something happened to me when I worked at Discovery Times Square and Ethiopia brought over the Lucy fossil for display.  It was one of the first exhibits to be shown at the new museum, I was one of the first employees and I wanted to be able to give the guests background on everything, so I immersed myself in Titanic history and the science behind Evolution.  And I fell madly in love with evolution.  Passionately so.  I remember thinking to myself while I worked the Lucy galleries that, because this was something that had been in the earth for three million years, something that gave us a mere glimpse of our origins, that I was standing in a room with God.  In fact, as I worked there, I began to look on some of the older artifacts (things not only from the Dead Sea Scrolls, but also from ancient Egypt) as some of the most holy things I’d ever been in the presence of.

It’s spiritual for me, really, evolution is.

Long story long: Jurassic Park is my thing.  Some people get really, really into Lord of the Rings.  Others about die over anything to do with Star Wars (though, honestly, I can’t see why).  JP is mine, just let me have it.

So, in anticipation of the new film, I read the books.

BOOK ONE: Jurassic Park

This banner is actually in the book

Reading the book was kind of like watching a super-special Extended Cut of the film.  There’s background on a lot of characters, as is the case with most book-to-movie iterations, but more deliciously for me, there’s a more detailed background on the science.  It’s true, there are certain discrepancies from the books to the movies.  Many people who show up in JP film sequels were not initially intended to survive, including the only character from the first film who shows up in Jurassic World.

Interesting trivia: Universal paid Crichton $2 million for the rights to the novel before it was even published.  Crichton also, I read, got the idea for JP about nine years before he actually wrote it; it took that long for him to be able to justify a way to clone dinosaurs.  And because DNA breaks down quickly in an insect, making a clone would be hypothetically possible, but unlikely.  However, in 2005, Mary Schweitzer discovered red blood cells and soft tissue in the fossil of a T-Rex, which would make the cloning process much more simpler.

Fortunately, today’s scientists deserve a little more credit than Ian Malcolm gives them in the book and film…it appears they’re not in the business of cloning dinos.

BOOK TWO: The Lost World

“Your lucky pack!”

This is where things go a bit off-course.  I want to start off by saying that I LOVE the film sequel.  All you haters can just go back and see The Avengers for the fifth time and buy another Harry Potter wand.  The T-Rex sequence in The Lost World (where the Rex parents push the trailer over a cliff) remains to this day one of the best action sequences I’ve ever seen.  The first time I rented the video, I rewound it five times.

I always knew that sequence was set up to mirror the T-Rex sequence in the first film, with the kids in the land cruiser.  What I didn’t know was that this sequence in the book was, by and large, the climax to the story.  Whoever adapted this (and rightly so, IMHO), moved it to the same place in the film that the T-Rex appears in the first one.  In the novel, the ultimate goal of the BioSyn bad guys is the same: to get an animal off Site B (Isla Sorna) and onto American soil. Here they’re just trying to bring eggs back, whereas in the movie, SPOILER ALERT: they bring back a full T-Rex and child, in what turns out to be a nice homage to Godzilla.

I left this novel with an impression that, like Bridget Jones Diary, the film had actually done a better job than the book.  But it has to be said that the movie does a piss-poor job explaining the differences between Hammond’s first island (Isla Nublar, the site of Jurassic Park and, subsequently, Jurassic World) and Site B (Isla Sorna, part of a fictitious chain of islands called The Five Deaths and where, it is revealed, they had a dino-growing factory that would feed into the Park on Nublar).

Another thing to the book’s credit: Sarah Harding is a badass.  It’s actually a little upsetting how weak Ian Malcolm’s character is in the book(s); he gives up several times.  If it weren’t for the character of Sarah Harding, he most certainly would have been dino pate.  She’s impressively heroic, the likes of which I haven’t seen since my beloved Doctor’s Wife from Blindness (and, ironically, both women were embodied in their respective film versions by Julianne Moore!  The Moore You Know).

So, yeah, yeah, yeah…most of you really don’t care, I get it.  What did I think of the new movie?

THE MOVIE: Jurassic World

You guys…I freaking LOVED it.  I was always going to like it, as we know.  And, as I’m quick to point out to all the haters shouting “It looks like the same old plot, people running from dinosaurs!”: This is the first movie that has been set in a fully-realized Jurassic Park.  It’s the first time the park is open and accepting visitors.  The movie picks up, seemingly months if not years after Jurassic World has opened.  It presents the park as an established attraction, one that might even be seeing a dip in attendance.  It looks a lot like Sea World (and, according to the film’s director, that’s not a mistake).

Here’s the thing:  One of the reasons JP stays so fresh for me (and, I would posit, the public at large) is the franchise’s ability to continually pose questions of its audience and their relationship to nature:

Jurassic Park asked us if it was really our place to play God or take any kind of dominion over nature.

The Lost World presented a dichotomy of what happens when we insert ourselves into nature’s territory versus what happens when nature is inserted into our territory.

The third film, in my opinion is less successful mostly because it doesn’t really pose a fresh take to us.  But Jurassic World is breathing new life into the franchise by asking us in what capacity do we have a right to keep animals in captivity–and what possible purpose could it be serving us?

Jurassic World made me cry.  Nay, I didn’t just cry…I dropped my basket at this movie.  Part of it was how moved I was just to be seeing the dinosaurs of Jurassic Park again.  T-Rex doesn’t show up til nearly the end, but when he does…they give him a GREAT entrance and, for me, it was like seeing an old friend.  But more than that, the domestication of the raptors reminded me, on a deep level, of my relationships with my dogs and, by the end, I was sobbing. At the second viewing, I was able to hold my shit together a little better, but I still left the theater yelling out loud “FREE WILLY!”

I was nervous at first when I heard that a guy whose only directing credit was a small, quirky independent film was directing the next installment in My Franchise.  But, I have to say, I was really impressed with what Colin Trevorrow did and I really hope to see more.  (At the end of the movie, I turned to Jason and said, “I already want another one.”).  Trevorrow told the press that it was his biggest goal to “give adults a movie that would make them feel like a kid again.”  For me, he knocked it out of Jurassic Park.

Up next:

Book: Brave New World

Recipe: Amazing Pork Loin

Fitness: Belly Dancing with Keaira LaShae

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