Sunday, March 12, 2017

Time. Again.

This morning I'm a little hung up on the concept of time. Again. Which means that we've monkeyed around once more with its perceived linear construct for the purpose of Daylight Savings. These days, it's about the only 'savings' most people have. I waited until this morning to set my clocks ahead. For a brief moment, I considered setting them so far ahead that I'd have to deal with the Morlocks rather than the Trump reality show.


For those who have forgotten, or for the uninitiated, the Morlocks are creatures who inhabit a utopian/dystopian future in the H. G. Wells novel, 'The Time Machine' and its various subsequent radio, film, and television adaptations. In its future epoch, long after nuclear wars have devastated our planet, humans have evolved into two distinct branches. The Eloi live on the planet's surface enjoying -without work- a strife free existence of idle play, lush vegetation, and meals of fruit provided for them. Their only task is reproduction. 'Eloi' is the Hebrew plural for 'lesser gods' in the Old Testament. Think idle rich. The workers of this future have lived in the dark underground for so many eons that they can no longer tolerate light. They are the Morlocks, who tend the machines, and collect and provide fruit as food for the Eloi. Central to the story is a giant sphinx. This is more of a Greek sphinx that an Egyptian one. In Greek legend, the Sphinx asks a riddle. Those who can not answer it are killed and eaten. And therein lies the relationship between the Eloi and the Morlocks, who are, as you might guess, meat eaters.


I have the 1960 George Pal film adaptation in my DVR. I saw it at the movies back when it was released, and I've never forgotten it. In the part of the pretty blonde girl in distress (there was always a pretty blonde girl in distress back then) was Yvette Mimieux, who would be emblazoned into my consciousness in 1964 as the epileptic surfer girl love interest for tv's Dr. Kildare, as personified by the sigh-worthy Richard Chamberlain. The first episode of the two parter was called "Tyger, Tyger", a reference to a poem. I searched it out, and that is how I began reading William Blake at the age of 13. Surfer girl had grand-mal seizures, which was my introduction to such crises and attendant terminology. Also in the movie, in the part of 'best friend', was Alan Young. Mr. Young was quite well known to me, as he had been appearing on tv since 1958 as Wilbur Post. My father's name was Wilbur, so of course I was amused by this coincidence of nomenclature, and a fan of the show. The show was 'Mr. Ed', whose hero was a talking horse. Considering the movies and tv shows I watched as a kid, (which included action heroes like Superman and Zorro, do-gooders who wore capes and extremely tight pants) no wonder I was/am so fucking weird. (Sorry for the language there. I had considered the euphemistic 'fugging', which Norman Mailer utilized in 'The Naked and the Dead'. That tome was written in an era in which such words could not be seen in print without risking some quality time in prison. When Mailer was introduced to Tallulah Bankhead, she immediately remarked, "Oh, Yes. The young man who can't spell." As I often engage in battle with various spell-check and auto-correct programs, I am loathe to be the old guy who can't spell. At least my time at the computer isn't in the basement where I won't have to deal with a biologically acquired aversion to bright light while indulging in carnivorous pursuits. No, I'd be the Time Machine's narrator, trying to help the poor thoughtless Eloi survive. In my version of the story, the Morlocks are led by Steve Bannon.



I first recorded The Time Machine when it was last on Turner Classic Movies a couple of years ago, and deleted it after watching. That was before I got the video projector. When it was shown again last month as part of their Academy Award films run-out, I recorded it again. (It won for Special Effects.)
It should be noted that the lengthy set of steps going to the dome under which the Eloi eat and sleep were originally built for the 1944 MGM version of Kismet, which detailed fun with Muslims in old Bagdad. They were used every now and again, most memorably (for me) as the steps to a library on the Twilight Zone. By the way, in the Time Machine novel, neither the narrator, nor the machine's inventor, are named. In the 1960 movie, the hero is referred to as 'George'. Which was the G in H. G. Wells. Furthermore, when George sits in his machine in the movie, we see an engraved plate on the console which states, 'Manufactured by H George Wells'. In need of space on the DVR, I thought I'd delete the movie, but as I had only watched the Victorian era part of it via the projector, I decided to catch the rest of it first, which I did a few days ago. Seeing the various future sets, and noticing how cheap some of them were, there was no way I could erase it yet. It was just too much fun.


As it happens, there is a fairly recent entertainment trend of the last couple of years with which I've been intending to catch up. I first noticed it with a Fox tv series in which Ichabod Crane wakes up to fight the Headless Horseman, as well as various minions of darkness, in present day Tarrytown, NY. There are now three or four shows whose heroes travel around in time to solve whatever existential crisis is featured that week. I find it interesting that as vampires returned to being a bit passé, as zombies began wearing thinner than their ragged clothing, and as superheroes became too numerous and oversaturated, the problems we face are now solved through time travel. I should point out that one of the new tv shows, based on a 1979 movie, has a plot in which H.G. Wells uses his time machine to visit the present to track down a time traveling Jack the Ripper. I suppose in my mental casting for the ripper, who is out to destroy whatever he can, the part will be played by Stephen Bannon. Or maybe Stephen Miller.





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