Tag Archives: disaster

Fuel for the Millennium

american salvage 13 fuel for the millennium_edited-2.png

I’m sure there are pole barns in heaven, but I don’t know about Faith Channel ministers. That might be a bit of a stretch. 

Obviously, Bonnie Jo did not write this story in order to explain how Donald Trump got elected, because American Salvage was published in 2009, but…I think this story kind of explains how Donald Trump got elected.

There’s not a lot of story in the story—it’s almost more of a character sketch, and it tells you, very concisely, about the kind of person who believes whatever the minister on the Faith Channel says and acts accordingly. Hal Little is not a bad guy; he’s a pretty decent guy who likes babies and birdsong and whose prejudices aren’t his own, but things he’s picked up from the people he trusts. His father taught him to have faith in his religious leaders, and so he does. So much faith that he’s destroyed his life.

“Fuel for the Millennium” is like the flip side of “World of Gas.” Hal is one of the guys driving Susan crazy with his crazy intention to control the uncontrollable. And then, what happened to these dudes after midnight on New Year’s Eve? Some of them ended up like Tiny in “Blood Work, 1999″ and I guess the rest of them became doomsday preppers. What else could they do? Nobody’s going to pay them enough money for their pole barns and windmills that they can buy back their houses in town. Plus it would be embarrassing to admit that they were wrong, so they just doubled down and kept predicting crisis at a later dater, and then they voted the crisis into office because the ministers on the Faith Channel told them to.

I chose the classic image of Jimmy Stewart calming the citizens of Bedford Falls at the start of the Great Depression because it’s the most recognizable depiction of a bank run, but also because the idea of a bank runs seems ridiculous in the 21st century. Let me put it this way: if civilization collapses, do you really think your little green pieces of paper are going to have value? Almost everybody’s money is all electronic now, and we know that it’s only our collective belief in the reality of that money that makes it real. If the sort of thing that Hal describes in this story actually happened, the chickens would be the most valuable thing you could have.

I’m pretty pleased with that chicken, as well as the drawing of the raptured pole barn.

Disaster Movie Sequels

Clearly, the way to prevent all these explosions is with even *bigger* explosions.

Clearly, the way to prevent all these explosions is with even *bigger* explosions.

According to Aristotle, of the six components of a tragedy, spectacle is the least important. The most important is plot, followed by character.

In the typical big budget, special-effects heavy blockbuster action adventure disaster film, plot is irrelevant, characterization is perfunctory, and the only feature that matters is the spectacle. Much like a circus, but with death. Escalating quantities of increasingly gruesome death. Explosions, monsters, blood, that’s what people pay to see. They don’t care if it makes sense: sound and fury, signifying nothing.

That is to say, the kids talked me into seeing Jurassic World and it gave me a headache. Not since Pacific Rim have I so fervently wished that someone would recut a film so that I could watch the 30 minutes of CGI without suffering through 90 minutes of pat stereotypes and cardboard dialog holding up a flimsy excuse to showcase primal violence and random explosions. This movie was very stupid. I read that it had one of the highest grossing opening weekends of all time.