Beauty and the Beast, Revisited

Ah, don’t cha love Netflix?

I do, and one reason I love it so much is that I can revisit past favorites. Lately, I have been watching Linda Hamilton’s Beauty opposite the impeccable Ron Perlman’s Beast. While the short-lived television series made each of them famous, Perlman’s career has been more varied and probably more lucrative. In a recent interview, he stated he had been in 15 films this year. Of course, Hamilton repeated her Sarah Conner role in Terminator 2—Judgment Day, as well as successful films such as Dante’s Peak.

The pilot for this modern treatment of the fairy tale sets up the story, as lovely lawyer Catherine Chandler is the victim of a savage attack. Vincent, the Beast who lurks in darkness, saves the the damsel in distress, and introduces her to a labyrinth of tunnels below New York City, and to the people who dwell there. Although I knew the series was set in New York City, but I did not realize how much New York is not just the setting, but a via shining cityscapes and location shots, it is really a co-star. When Vincent needs to rescue Catherine, a frequent occurrence, he rides atop subway trains and traverses tunnels beneath the city. As an assistant district attorney, Catherine alternately assists the downtrodden and fights to rid the streets of criminals; indeed, some of the plots are drawn from issues facing NYC in the late 80s, such as corporate harassment of tenants in rent controlled apartment buildings.

The scripts for Beauty and the Beast are by George R. R. Martin, a well-known scifi/fantasy writer, and fantasy elements abound. From the first episode, Vincent feels a “bond” for Catherine, and he knows when she is in danger, a necessary aspect to keep him in the above ground action. When I originally saw the series, the cinematography was impressive for television. While it has not aged well, there are still some impressive shots, painting the setting with light. Catherine’s extensive wardrobe and make-up help create her “Beauty” persona. Linda Hamilton’s Sarah Conner character in the Terminator films was not nearly so glamorous. Perlman no doubt spent many hours in the make-up chair to portray Vincent, but the results are still impressive. When he roars at attackers, his leonine look and rugged wardrobe are quite beastly, but his soft voice and precise diction when he reads poetry are enough to melt my crotchety old English teacher’s heart.

Online, there are numerous sites for fans to visit, and I was especially impressed with the artistic renderings of Vincent and Catherine posted to various sites, but those are generally not for reposting. There is also fan fiction, and a few conventions have been held, too. Obviously, I am not the only one who enjoys this modern fantasy.

The Brilliant Mr. Jobs is gone

Once, at a family gathering, my nephew the IT dude told me that he would not hire me, because I am not technologically proficient. He is a Microsoft guy, and I am a Mac user. Thankful that I wasn’t looking for a job, I just smiled and changed the subject.

Steve Jobs, co-founder and visionary at Apple, has been behind so many technical devices and concepts that I and countless others use every day. My nephew was right— I live and work in a technologically sophisticated world, with little understanding of exactly how all of this stuff functions. Mr. Jobs and company created the devices, the software, and the slick interfaces that have made it just as easy to operate computers, music players, smart phones, and other items without being able to crawl under the hood and fix them. Just as I drive my Honda, without knowing its valve clearances and final drive ratio, I can create a web page, edit a movie, or share music without understanding the inner workings of my iPad, Mac, or Airport Express. The beauty of all things Apple is that they operate intuitively, with no need to read the manual or hire a member of the Geek Squad.

During his career, Steve Jobs has repeatedly been able to see what people wanted, then create devices that did those things. Moreover, his company went beyond that, and created hardware and apps which I didn’t even know I wanted— until I saw them in action.

I am saddened that his family lost him at such an early age, 56, and I am also sorry that his passionate vision has been cut short. Just today, Apple announced the introduction of software that lets customers verbally interface with the newest iPhone, a technology that promises to change everything, one more time. And in Apple stores across the globe, customers are seeing this new feature, and thinking, what will they think of next?

Ironically, a more important question might be who will think of these new things, now that the “insanely great” Steve Jobs is no longer with us?

By Pamela/Pilar Posted in writing