Avatar – an enjoyable American fairy tale with the usual moral values, but wonderful entertainment

A movie ticket stub for AvatarOk, we went to the movies today in Albany. A special trip to the Imax to take in Avatar on a two story high screen with full digital sight and sound. We thought that we would be the only ones there, excepting a few other early-bird old farts. Not true, the place was 80% full.

So, to get it out of the way, this movie is a classic American morality tale. Re-runs of the old cowboy movies deliver the same messages. The only updating is the corporate villain, the natives as good guys,  and the new age touchy-feely stuff about the interconnected world spirit. Similar ground has also been rummaged through almost continuously for decades in the science fiction world.

Nevertheless, Avatar is enormously entertaining, even enthralling at times. The visual and audio experience is completely engaging. The enormous array of special effects support the story line without sticking out with moments where you might say there were gratuitous displays of technique. A very worthwhile trip to the movies. And, as the corporate blather before the movie began, seeing it in full digital audio and visual on an enormous screen is something that you can not find at home.

Wet Pavement Conspiracy?

Several years ago I began to notice that many TV ads for cars featured swooping shots of speeding cars on mountain or desert roads, many with wet pavement. As time went along, I became fixated on the ads showing cars in desert scenes roaring over wet pavement.

Movies also seem prone to wet scenes in Los Angeles. LA Confidential and Training Day quickly come to mind as featuring a large number of wet days and nights and puddles in back alleys.

How did they get this wet pavement? The arid and semiarid regions of the American southwest don’t have more than a handful of wet days in a year. In fact, deserts, typically have 10 or fewer inches of rain per year. Semiarid fall in the 10 to 15 inches per year. Here are a few cities and their average annual rainfall.

Average Annual Rain Fall (inches)

Miami

60

Atlanta

48

Boston

43

New York City

40

Washington, DC

39

Chicago

34

Jerusalem

19

Sacramento

17

Salt Lake City

15

Los Angeles

14

San Diego

10

Phoenix

7

Mojave Desert

4

Las Vegas

4

Cairo

1

More recently I have been noticing that TV and movie images of Los Angeles in particular are prone to wet pavement. Take the current Denzel Washington vehicle, Training Day, or the earlier LA Confidential as examples. Who are they kidding. We all know that LA is in a desert. Where does all this wet pavement come from? Are the filmmakers rubbing our noses in the history of all the Federal money that went into water projects?

11/20/01