Back to School, Wm Gibson, Promises, Promises, and General Malaise


After three months of summer vacation, I had to go back to work on Monday. Yet even as I write this, the immortal classic Back to School airs on Comedy Central, reminding me of my commitment to education. Any moment now, Kurt Vonnegut will show up to help Thornton Melon pass Dr. Turner’s English class (weird convergence: ten years after Back to School, Keith Gordon–Jason Melon, the diver, Rodney’s kid–directed a version of Vonnegut’s Mother Night. My college roommate and I watched it when it came out, but I don’t really remember any of it).


Anyway, I promise to recover and get back to the semi-daily blogging (any semi-day now): I’ve been reading Joyce’s Ulysses; I’ve also read a couple of graphic novels; I’m hoping to get around to watching Inland Empire and letting you know what I think. So there’s that.

For now, AV Club has a pretty good interview with ‘klept favorite William Gibson up today. We forgive him for All Tomorrow’s Parties. And Idoru. And even the Johnny Mnemonic movie. Who knows–maybe his upcoming novel Spook Country won’t be half bad.


3 thoughts on “Back to School, Wm Gibson, Promises, Promises, and General Malaise”

  1. Back to School is a masterpiece.

    The Vonnegut scene was hilarious. Thornton Mellon (Dangerfield) gets an F on his paper, and that scary, skeletal blonde teacher of his tells him, “whoever did write it doesn’t know the first thing about Kurt Vonnegut.”

    The big dorm party is a great schene too. Oingo Boingo’s “Dead Man’s Party”, sung by your boy film score guy extraordinaire Danny Elfman, is a very underrated 80’s movie song.

    I just realized that I was the college roommate that watched Mother Night with you. You don’t remember it? I thought it was a pretty solid effort from Nick Nolte. The rest of the cast wasn’t as exciting, especially Laura Palmer (Sheryl Lee).


  2. To me, JOHNNY MNEMONIC stands out as a great example of a socially-conscious B-movie. So star KR acts the shallow Everyman, as ever (compare his super-deadpan style of acting to that of Asian films and his “anti-method” clicks), a prisoner of awkward exposition.

    Recall the underground hospital where victims of the “Black Shakes” are treated. Manic Doc Henry “Hermes” Rollins attends to twitchy patients undergoing total nervous system trauma resulting from constant exposure to narcotic neuro-tech: the illness resembles opiate withdrawal, and its neglect by government medical authorities is reminiscent of the AIDS plague during the Reagan years.

    While lacking the hypnotic grandeur and noir sexiness of BLADE RUNNER or the Baudrillard references and action flash of THE MATRIX, JM perhaps accomplishes something neither of those contemporary myths dares to do: it is unabashedly schlocky and silly: it “knows what it is”…its tongue-in-cheek shoddiness only increases my affection.

    Like the cell phone delivered to Neo’s cubicle, such works may seem humorously dated and disposable, but the message they transmit remains as urgent as ever.

    JM does what SF films have done best over the years: to dramatize the conflict between individuals and an increasingly regulated, simulated environment. Let me tell you a story, since the facts remain shocking and unspeakable.

    May we be nourished and empowered by stories of liberation, empowerment, and renewal, in this time of fragmentation, coercion, and spectacular distraction.

    Tell the kids!!!!!!!!!!!!!


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