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A Funny Thing Happened On My Way Downtown

Back in the goodol'days, before grad school, when I had both free time and disposable income, I watched a lot more movies than I do now. A LOT more. More than one should reasonably expect to see, or admit to seeing, in a given week/month/year. Not quite Cinemania-a-lot, but considerably more than a young, healthy, mentally fit and emotionally aware young person should be spending their time watching. So now that the semester is over, and I have a week off from work for holiday festivities and observances and the like... well, let the great movie binge begin!

I kicked things off with Must Love Dogs (surprised anyone?) partly because of an unepxpected reference to Say Anything by SeaMackey, and partly because of some unexpected seasonal something-or-other. Let's just say it was entertaining and leave it at that. Then it was The Chronicles of Narnia, aptly putting me in the Christmas spirit, baby-Jesus-style. It was fantastic in its not-so-subtle allegorical trajectory. Christmas Eve brought another long-standing Bernasek Family tradition: the annual viewing of A Christmas Carol at McCarter Theatre. I have witnessed the scared-straight reformation of one Ebenezer Scrooge over 25 times in this life, and it still doesn't fail to make me joyfully weepy. On Christmas it was another demonstrative offering: Opie-at-heart's Cinderella Man. One more Jersey-boy-makes-good story from Ron Howard. Keep em' coming. Monday was Imaginary Heroes, which was entertaining MST3K-style, but otherwise left a little to be desired. It was not sunny in any way at all, but if you like watching irredeemable @$$holes on-screen then by all means rush to your nearest Blockbuster.

And finally, yesterday I subjected myself to the three-hour mishmash that is King Kong. It goes without saying - but I'll say it anyway - that this "little" flick could benefit from some heavy editing (and a decent screenwriter - preferrably one without the predilections of a 13 year-old boy). Deep thoughts should not be wasted on this one - unless you're wondering how Peter Jackson could make better use of his CGI-obsessed "directorial" talent - still I'm wondering if this whole debacle wasn't an unintentional pitch for intelligent design. Perhaps what I mean to say is that it was really a convincing argument against evolution, or that this is my own brand of wishful thinking. I had a hard time watching all three hours of Kong and feeling comfortable with the "fact" that we're only a couple genetic steps away from our big fuzzy ape brothers.

Possibly my favorite scene: Adrien Brody risks life and limb in about a million preposterously CGI-laden ways to rescue the positively loopy Naomi Watts. As she wakes up from her blissful kitten-nap in the palm of Kong to see her recently forgotten flame eager to negotiate her rescue I could almost hear her thinking: You are more intelligent, more sensitive, and well... human, but... he's so strong.

Ugh. And double-ugh. It was only slightly more irritating to watch her fall into Brody's arms after her big fuzzy true-love had plummeted to his death from atop New York's famous phall... I mean, the Chrysler Building.

But no matter, these were all diversions. Sidelines from the main event. I've recently fallen into obsessive lust/like/love for a little tv show called House M.D. I don't have a tv at home, so I'm a little slow on the uptake for these things, but I'd rather gorge myself on an entire season of something in the space of a week or so, like I've been doing with House. [Besides that, now that I have access to cable at the 'rents' place, it keeps my off of the hard stuff: reality tv, and other shows with unforgivable boobs-to-plot ratios.] Like all obsessions, this one has some rather complicated ins-and-outs. After all, House can be irritatingly formulaic at times. It's not a great tv show, in the manner of Northern Exposure or The West Wing, but it's pretty entertaining, and I certainly have a soft spot for misanthropes with a heart of gold.

But really, the crux of the biscuit, so to speak, is in the show's semi-fictitious location: The Princeton-Plainsboro Teaching Hospital, or some such nonsense. All of those swooping helicopter shots that they use to establish locale are images of the Princeton University campus, primarily the newly renovated student center, and well, that's home as far as I'm concerned. While driving up Washington Road on my way downtown the other day, I passed the student center - or should I say the Princeton-Plainsboro Teaching Hospital - and worlds collided.

I could sit just about anywhere in Princeton - Palmer Square, for instance - and imagine an endless number of former selves walking and talking in past (and future) parallel universes. Memory being what it is, often mixing liberally with wishful thinking, these scenarios are rather untrustworthy at times, but now add a completely fictitious alternate plane to the mix... it wreaks havoc with my mental space. Though I knew better, I found myself thinking about House and his cohorts (oh, Dr. Cameron) walking around their imaginary turf, almost completely forgetting the always superior undergrads no doubt infesting the student center instead.

It can be rather daunting to have one's own personal mythology - which is really just a poetic way of saying you think the world revolves around you - but artifacts like House make it hard to deny that all-roads-lead-to-Princeton* in one way or another. After all, Bryan Singer is House's executive producer and sometimes director and guest star. Aside from being the director of The Usual Suspects both X-Men movies and the new Superman remake, this punk** went to my high school way back when. [Wikipedia article! Are you kidding!?] That could explain all of the sly references to Princeton locales and establishments that make their way into the show: episode #9 (DNR) prominently features one of those infamous yellow bags from the record store where I worked for a couple years after college.

Long story short, all of this contributes to my NEED to keep watching House.

12 episodes down, 9 to go in Season One. Season Two comes out on DVD... oh, jeez. Maybe I should be rationing these things out.

*Aside from Ron Howard's two NJ-epics (one actually taking place in Princeton), Imaginary Heroes sends up a shout out to Mr. Bryan Singer, and might as well take place in Princeton for all I know.
**For those of you keeping score at home, Ethan Hawke did a short stint at WW-P, too. My sister's ex-boyfriend used to ride with him to pop-warner football.

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  • From East Hartford, Connecticut, United States
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