Talking to myself

I went with a crew from work to see I Am Legend on Friday night at Mann's Chinese Theater. I love the sound system there. Somewhere along the way they decided to solve that instead of offering the hearing impaired separate earphones they'd just kill two birds with one stone and crank the volume up to such ear-splitting levels that you walk out of the theater with your hair sticking back as if you'd been riding on the highway in a convertible with the top down. We even caught the new CGI-plant THX trailer (not up on the THX website yet), and there are few theaters better suited to demo a THX trailer in than the Chinese.

[I've never met anyone who enjoys THX, Dolby Digital, and DTS trailers more than I do. Of all of those, the THX trailers are my favorite. I whooped when it was over, embarrassing some of the people sitting with me. Another random thing that gives me an bizarrely disproportionate thrill: when Phil Collins goes all falsetto to sing "crying at the top of my lungs" in "In Too Deep" off of Invisible Touch; I have no idea why I just thought of that]

The "dark seekers" in I Am Legend did not achieve THX certification, if such a thing existed for CGI creatures. They looked like something out of a video game. It's a compliment to say that something in a video game looks like it came out of a movie, but the reverse is not so flattering. The last man on earth may not be alone, but it feels like he is because the bad guys chasing him are so poorly rendered.

Will Smith spends a lot of time wandering around Manhattan with his dog Sam, and, in the absence of other human beings, talks to everything he can: his dog, store mannequins, computers, and himself, in the grand tradition of Tom Hanks speaking to his volleyball in Cast Away. I don't think it's just a device to keep the movie interesting (though it does serve that convenient purpose).

In 2003, while on sabbatical, I wandered around South America for five weeks by myself. While in Torres del Paine, I went on a three and a half day trek by myself. I expected to see other people on the trail, but it was the middle of winter, not exactly peak tourist season. For three days, I didn't see a single person, not even way off in the distance. I didn't even see a trace of another person save for a piece of trash at one of the campsites.

In my childhood, I was fine going long periods without conversation, but after a day and a half on the trail I began talking to myself. I'd use the royal "we" in verbalizing my thoughts.

"Okay, what do we feel like eating?" I'd say, rummaging through my backpack for energy bars. "Do we want chocolate chip or peanut butter crunch?"

"Where the hell am I?" I'd say, unfolding my trail map and gazing up at the sky as if I had the ability to circumnavigate by the orientation of the sun.

Later, in the evening, as I lay shivering in my sleeping bag, I'd mutter, "Who the hell thought it was a good idea to trek through a Patagonian wilderness in the dead of winter?"