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Wednesday, November 26, 2008
The Really Big Picture
Internet bookmarks remain a conundrum. We all do it -- find an intriguing website, then “bookmark” it to make return visits a simple matter of point-and-click. It’s a wonderful technology, but sometimes too much of a good thing is just that: too much. We keep finding more and more interesting sites to bookmark, and as the list grows ever longer, some invariably get lost in the mix. It’s easy to lose track of those few truly golden nuggets of wheat amidst the ever-mounting piles of internet chaff.
What’s this got to do with anything? It's very slow in my part of Hollywood these days, which is to say that although many people are still working – most of them on shows that have been fully crewed-up for months now -- I am not among them. With feature production still in the doldrums, there are a lot more juicers available than jobs right now.
Either that, or it’s finally happened – I really am finished in this town, and everybody knows it but me...
Paranoia runs deep, as the song said, especially after three weeks of sustained silence from the phone, but it’s all part of the deal here in California, where boom-and-bust cycles have been the rule ever since the Gold Rush. Having thus been blessed with “the gift of time,” I now have the opportunity to put up more mid-week posts than usual. Given that Sundays are pretty much reserved for Industry topics (hiatus weeks excepted), these random weekday posts tend to wander off the reservation. That said, the subheading at the top of the page reads “Life in Hollywood, Below the Line” – and since not-working is every bit as integral to Industry life as working, it all qualifies.
Besides, I’ve got nothing to say about The Biz today. It is what it is, and right now, that ain’t much.
Instead, I’ve been contemplating the big picture. No, not the impending new era of Obama, Hope, and Change, nor am I gloomily dwelling on the slim-to-none chance that Our Way of Life here in the First World will survive the shit-rain tsunami slowly and steadily building just over the horizon.*
None of that today -- instead, I’m talking about the really big picture: the cosmos.
Why? Because while looking for another bookmark the other day, I stumbled across this, a list of photos taken by astronomers all round the world, including the Hubble space telescope. This is no dry-as-dust, scientists-only compendium of data – just look at the titles: “A Spectre in the Eastern Veil,” “A Witch by Starlight,” or “Haunting the Cepheus Flare.” These could all be titles of 1950’s era Sci Fi novels, but they're the real thing – the cosmos beyond the paper-thin atmosphere of our tiny planet, an unfathomably immense and beautiful universe Way Out There.
Granted, some of them sound anything but inspiring. “Anticrepuscular Rays,” for instance, which are not some new hotter-than-Botox skin treatment for aging divorcees in Tarzana, but rather a very cool earthbound phenomenon. Then there’s the “Tarantula Nebula,” which sounds creepy, but is breathtaking in the very best way. These, and thousands more stunning images are available to anyone with a little time and an internet connection – even (ahem), dial-up -- absolutely free, thanks to NASA and your tax dollars. Each photo comes with further links and a clearly worded explanation of exactly what it is you’re looking at.
Somebody sent me the URL several years ago, and I dutifully bookmarked it. But time did what time does, and this wonderful site slipped from the rather dull edge of my consciousness into the dark abyss of the past. Only by accident did I recently stumble across it while searching for something else.
Lucky me – and now, lucky you, because we all need to pull our heads out from our asses every now and then to re-boot of the internal navigation system. A sense of perspective is essential to staying sane in this increasingly unstable world, especially as the holidays roll around. A really good book or movie can get the job done, as can a truly tectonic roll in the hay (laugh at Hemmingway all you want, but the man had a point), and so can these photos. If you don't want to bookmark it, no problem; the link will remain on the sidebar for as long as this blog exists, under the heading "All the Universe."
Because that's where we live.
*I have just two words to say on this dismal subject: Peak Oil. Google it and weep...