Either-Or

Yesterday I saw Atlas Shrugged Part 2. This time around, it was playing at a nearby Regal theater, which also showed Obama’s America, so I didn’t have to drive to a far-flung, unfamiliar theater, as I did for Part 1.

Of the two, Part 2 is unquestionably better, and not merely due to the meatier, more exciting material. It also did not suffer from the cast changes as I thought it might.

If there was ever any question that Atlas Shrugged falls in the science ficion genre, this movie, even more than the book, argues that it does. Simply being future/alt-history suggests it, without some of the futuristic technologies or elements.

If there was ever any question that John Galt was inspired by Nikola Tesla, this movie, even more than the book, makes clear that he was. Among the special effects are those associated with efforts to get Galt’s “motor” for drawing unlimited power from the air to work without Galt around to help.

As an aside, such a device represents the ultimate intellectual property challenge. Obviously, if anyone can build such a device, can know how, have access to it for reverse-engineering, then selling electricity generated from it would not be lucrative for long. The very reason Tesla lost backing for the very device he allegedly had working or near to it. As such, it would have to remain a black box, unable to be accessed to reverse-engineer. At that, simply knowing such a thing was possible would set others on the path of figuring out how to create their own. On the other hand, one might accept it quickly falling into public domain or generating competition, given what it would do to the world, and given the other ways its inventor could then make money.

Anyway, I liked the movie a lot. The script was pared down from the source material skillfully, with inclusion of key points, some of which I might have expected to suffer. What it could not convey was Reardon’s internal guilt and thought processes that made blackmailing him successful. I am not sure this would have been clear to a viewer who’d never read the book, despite being subtly implicit.

The flash forward opening was a nice touch, drawing us in with excitement and adrenaline. The fact that it is set in near future modern times actually helps Reader’s Digest things. All the action regarding the tunnel disaster and the buck-passing is distilled into the central control room and the scene itself.

The root of money speech was there, briefer but more than adequate. The breakout was there. The cabin was there, but barely, and wasn’t it in New Hampshire originally? And not sitting on a flood plain, immediately beside water? The wet nurse was well done, and well acted, in that you could see the character developing and thinking without a word.

Most of the casting was good, even great. Esai Morales, whom I knew from the ill-fated Caprica, was a better Francisco. Lillian was equally good, perhaps better, even if the original was the one to fit my mental image. This one was at least as good at portraying that form of evil. I could see Cheryl’s gears starting to turn before the movie was out. I couldn’t remember if she had her final scenes in 2 or 3, but must be 3. Dagny was better. Reardon was as good or better, though he could have supplied the voice of Batman in the most recent films. Robert Picardo rocks anyway, and did in this. Even having read about Teller’s small speaking role, I almost missed who it was, and there were faces like that of Michael Gross that looked familiar but I didn’t place at the time. Wyatt wasn’t in it, but they showed his picture on the news as the guy from Part 1. I’d love to see him back, even if he is not as described in the book.

On an unexpected note, I loved the soundtrack, or score, if that’s the better term. I don’t usually even notice a soundrack. I stayed through the credits mainly for the music.

I’m still amused by DB Sweeney as Galt! And we still haven’t seen his face, even at the end, when he finally becomes a person, not a question. I will forever think of him as Doug Dorsey from The Cutting Edge, one of my favorite “good bad movies” of all time. I’ve watched it at least six times. In Part 3, seeing him in the actual role may allow me finally to picture him otherwise.

There was one point when I thought we might actually see Danneskold, who has been almost entirely left out of the movie adaptation, but it proved instead to be the scene when Reardon calls his lawyer and finally orders up a divorce. About time.

The times depicted are worse and yet shockingly similar to our current ones. The actions of government are familiar, as are the consequences. The use of consequences of government to justify even worse actions of government are familiar. Even timeless.

Could someone see it without Part 1? Absolutely, if they’ve read the book. Probably, even if they haven’t. It doesn’t start with one of those total recaps, but you get enough of an idea the circumstances and background. Perhaps I am biased.

Overall, it’s a better adaptaion than we might have had cause to expect, considering the density of the source.

$63>$5

When I got my stents, they put me on Effient, which is now $63 a month for my copay. At the time, we asked why that versus Plavix, which is $5, and the hospital cardiologist thought it possible, even likely, that my regular cardiologist (a funny description for someone I have seen once) would switch after a month of “and we mean it” treatment at the hands of the newer drug. I understand they have slightly different mechanisms, but the main thing is the result.

It’s been a month. Took my last Effient today, and have to get one or the other today, for morning. I am still waiting for a call back from cardiology. She is not in today, so they were leaving my cardio a message. We are so strapped this week, it borders on being not possible to fill the prescription, but not doing so could be deadly. Lovely situation. And one I’ll have to start planning around, so as not to be in it again.

Even if we get that drug this month, it’s a huge hit to the budget if we can’t switch, which is already hundreds a month in the hole. That’s a big kick in the balls, being worse off in real terms than before we increased our income hundreds per month this year, to the point where we are poised at the edge of the donut hole. Get into the donut hole, and suddenly costs are more than what you make extra, between tax effects and loss of income-based benefits of the sort we’d prefer not to need.

Don’t Call Us…

Introvert’s view of phones, which sounds exactly right to me.

Speaking of which, after being a Verizon customer for 13 years, straight pone, then DSL, then FiOS for the last 6 or so, I am cancelling today. We have Comcast for internet and we have cell service through Verizon Wireless. The land line exists as a number that bill collectors know, and is archaic and unused. Well, except when I can’t find my cell that I set down somewhere unexpected in the house in which case making it ring is a good locator. Since Verizon effectively refused to eliminate the phone service from our plan, and has gone up and up, the best way to eliminate the unwanted phone service and save money to boot was to invoke the competition.

What Verizon doesn’t seem to grasp yet is that they are now an internet connectivity company, which just happens to generate marginal added revenue/added value for customers in the form of phone and TV service. I suppose it would be easier to grasp that if FiOS or the equivalent were rolled out everywhere they service.

Comcast seems to have arrived at that realization to a greater degree. They are internet, and also they offer TV and phone. Perhaps easier to make the leap, having not started as The Phone Company.

Wireless companies face a similar struggle with recognizing what they are. They are wireless data (internet) services, which happen to be more closely associated with phones than anything, since that is the primary small device through which data services are accessed. Personally, I don’t have a smartphone, but even for me my cell phone is for texting first, calls a distant second. I’d love more capability, but I’d also love to be able to see the screen… oh, and afford it. Which is ultimately what the Comcast switch is about. For a year, we save upwards of $70 a month. We always have to option of switching based on new customer deals – for internet service alone – from Verizon once the initial rate expires, but we’ll see.