Monday, August 2, 2010

To The Beach

Second last day in Florida – and with the last day demanding time to pack, and clean, and get ready to move on, this is the last day to relax. Clearly there was only one thing we could do... Head to the beach.

Fifty five minutes outside of Port Charlotte is the town of Venice. We went through it on our way to Sarasota. Without the need of a Scott Pilgrimage we were free to actually hang around and laze on the beach today. Beaches are not really my thing. Or maybe it's the water. No, to be truthful, it's the salt water. It tastes gross, it feels – for lack of a better word – icky. It's not my thing. And you just sit around and get heat stroke.

Still, I'm told many a girl enjoys lounging on the beach, and Katherine is no exception. So off we went, her driving up to it while I read some more of Forrest Gump to us.

Now – look – you've seen the movie, you think you know what's what – but I assure you this book is nothing like the movie. Not after about page one hundred. Up to that point you can see where it's going, and you can recognize the tale for what it was. Then, I can only assume this to be true, the author started experimenting with drugs. Lots of drugs. Heavy drugs. And the tale takes a turn for the WTF.

Forrest goes to jail, and since he is a genius with math (the novel Forrest is more of a Rainman) NASA blackmails him into going up in a rocket with a female astronaut and a monkey. (Karl Pilkerton would be proud.) Next thing you know, they're being blasted up up an away, but wait – the monkey was switched by accident. Instead of a well trained female gorilla it's an angry male the pulls the circuits apart. Oh noes! Then the ship is falling to Earth, but Forrest uses his math skills to save it, landing in New Guinea.

A bunch of cannibals take them as prisoners, but luckily one of them was taught at Yale during World War 2 and will spare their lives so long as Forrest doesn't lose to him at Chess. As luck would have it, Forrest is a Chess master too. So for four years they live there, the female astronaut hooking up with one of the people who wanted to eat her.

Then the Chess Cannibal has Forrest grow cotton, for which a barge is constructed. Forrest is in the middle of losing a game, when he escapes under the pretense of having to pee, gets the monkey, the woman, and her new lover onto the boat – but is stopped. Just as the Yale cannibal is about to eat them all, the Pygmies come and capture everyone. Yale cannibal is thrown into a cooking pot and eaten, but before he dies he tells Forrest to play harmonica to woo the king of the Pygmies.

Forrest does this, and says they are a band. The monkey plays the spears, and the woman plays the knives. The Pygmy king gives them these things, and they then use them to fight for freedom. Just as they are almost caught, NASA rescuers canoe through the jungle to save them in the nick of time – four years too late – claiming they had 'other things to deal with.'

The woman stays in the jungle with her new husband creature, and the monkey stays too. But fear not, for after Forrest goes through a phase as a professional wrestler, he meets the monkey again on the set of a movie that he stars in – until he ends up stripped Raquel Welch naked, by accident becoming black balled from the industry. Luckily he gets to keep the monkey – as they are best friends.

I'm still thirty five pages from the end, and it's starting to calm down again – but whatever the author was on for those fifty? My lord, if they don't just reinforce my opinion that drugs are bad!

Then we were at the beach. It turned out we had a great big beach umbrella, which was good, as the shade made sitting on the sand more bearable. It also made the sand far less painful to step on. Until a foot accidentally reached out into the sun. Yow!

Being honest, I think I kinda dug the beach. Being able to kick back and read (this time The Congo) and not worry about anything? Well there's something to be said for that. And having the ability to get up off the chair and wander down into the ocean whenever you wanted? That wasn't too bad either. I forgot how easy it was to float in salt water. Closing your eyes, and just laying there... that's a good feeling, so long as you can keep the creeping suspicion that a rip is pulling you out to sea from your mind.

I could have used three or four degrees colder water. It was as if we were swimming around in a bunch of three year olds urine. But, you know, that's fine – everyone else was doing it – so...

When we actually left – Katherine being the one to pull the plug – I found that my earlier preconceptions of this place were wrong. Give me some shade, and a good book, and I am more than willing to sit around all day doing nothing. The type of nothing where you don't feel like you should be doing something. S'good.

And then back home to start getting things together to leave the day after tomorrow.

Just before going to sleep we finished up the HBO series, The Pacific. I tell you what – I think they made a mistake on this one. Band of Brothers? That was great. But by the end of The Pacific, I couldn't tell you who the characters were, nor why I should care about them. It was just hour after hour of them in jungle shooting and killing. Opportunity missed. The bombing of Hiroshima, Pearl Harbour, Midway – these things needed touching on. I get it, you're showing that the marines did nothing but live in terrible conditions, fighting mostly unremembered battles – but then you get to Iwo Jima, and don't even show the flag being raised? Also – showing the Japanese perspective? That could have been a bloody brilliant thing to do. The German soldiers were humanized in Band of Brothers all the time.

I get the point of the series – but it would be like having band of Brothers be ten episodes of being shelled in the French forests. I remember two episodes from the Pacific that didn't blur together – the Australia episode, and the final one. Unfortunately I never made connections with any of the characters (real people) throughout this series, so seeing how they ended up didn't really have all that much of a pay off.

But that's me, gripe gripe gripe.

Enough of looking back, and more looking forward. Pretty soon we'll be pushing on to Alabama, and then off to New Orleans. There's still a great big country ahead of us, and I am looking forward to seeing it.

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