Escape from the Planet of the Apes


image: Escape from the Planet of the Apes (1971)

We spent Christmas quality family time with the 5 original Planet of the Apes movies. (Seven months later, I found this post in my drafts folder).

You’d think we’d have these movies memorized by now, but when you’re dealing with such a sprawling franchise things get a bit hazy, even for Highly Trained Professionals such as ourselves.

After all, we’re not dealing with a mere trilogy. The first film, Planet of the Apes (1968), was adapted from a French novel, Pierre Boulle’s La Planete des Singes (1963) and was followed by 4 sequels in 4 years: Beneath the Planet of the Apes (1970), Escape from the Planet of the Apes (1971), Conquest of the Planet of the Apes (1972), and Battle for the Planet of the Apes (1973).

Plus, there were 2 TV series (1 live-action and 1 animated), 1 execrable reboot (2001), 2 prequels – (Rise of the Planet of the Apes (2011) and Dawn of the Planet of the Apes (2014) – and a whole bunch of comic books.

Plus, there’s time travel. Time travel that contradicts the time line established in the narrative – a narrative that’s already a bit nonsensical to begin with, to boot.

The 3rd film, Escape from the Planet of the Apes, may be a terrible movie, but it’s also terribly entertaining. And it’s got Ricardo Montalban and Eric Braeden giving the scenery a pretty thorough chew, so there’s that.

There’s a delightfully nutty scene in which Presidential Science Advisor Dr. Otto Hasslein (Braeden) goes on the nightly news and explains time travel. I couldn’t find the full scene on youtube, but I did find a remix called “A Lesson in Regression” that does it justice:

You really should watch Escape from the Planet of the Apes, if only to be thankful that the new prequels forego time travel in favor of something slightly more science-y and slightly less what-the-fuck-y.

Still the old films have something the new ones never will: 70s fashion. And, of course, Ricardo Montalban.


As I hurtle towards the inevitable end of the semester, it’s a good time to polish up some of the drafts that have been piling up. Instant content, just add coffee.

Yes. Well.

In my Anthropological Research Design seminar this semester we’ve been, um, designing research. Specifically, ethnographic research. (As a biological anthropologist, this is not something I do often).

I knew I wanted to do something involving Floridians and alligators. I’d read Laura Ogden’s Swamplife: People, Gators, and Mangroves Entangled in the Everglades and her scholarly articles on the cultural and political constructions of nature and the concept of ecosystems but I wasn’t quite sure where to go from there. (Here’s an interview on the Anthropology and Environment Society blog with Ogden about the book – it’s fascinating).

I was flailing about on a Friday night in late February, knee-deep in a literature review, when I decided to take a brief twitter-break. That’s when I saw that uber-scienceblogger Brian Switek had tweeted this::

My fear of a world where apes evolved from men kicked into high gear and I quickly responded.

Later I discovered my Tivo, Overlord II, had been trying to give me nudges in the right direction all week:

planetapes

Amidst all this chatter, and the inevitable branching twitter conversations, I realized I was thinking too narrowly. Reading Ajay Gandhi’s ethnography, “Catch Me if You Can: Monkey capture in Delhi” was a turning point. My ideas were sound, but my theoretical model was all wrong. I don’t think that multispecies ethnography (see references at the end of the post) is really going to be The Next Big Thing, but the possible applications are intriguing.

So the moral of the story: Twitter is not always a waste of time and Tivo is your friend and it just wants to help. Also, beware the Ricardo Montalban Effect, which I still haven’t fully explained but intend to in the very near future. I thought I had an old post explaining it, but I was mistaken. I’ll fix that, but probably not until the semester is over.

In related news, Brian Switek’s new book, My Beloved Brontosaurus: On the Road with Old Bones, New Science, and Our Favorite Dinosaurs, is waiting for you to buy it. It’s pretty great.

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References

Fuentes, Agustin
2010 Naturalcultural encounters in Bali: monkeys, temples, tourists, and ethnoprimatology. Cultural Anthropology 25(4):600 – 624.

Gandhi, Ajay
2012 Catch me if you can: Monkey capture in Delhi. Ethnography (13): 43-56.

Kirksey, S. Eben and Stefan Helmreich
2010 The Emergence of Multispecies Ethnography. Cultural Anthropology 25(4):545-576.

Ogden, Laura
2008 The Everglades Ecosystem and the Politics of Nature. American Anthropologist 110(1):21-32.

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[embedded image: post-smoothie cleanup operation]

This morning I decided to make a green tea fruit smoothie because I had a large quantity of frozen fruit. This is not rocket surgery. You put fruit, green tea, honey and lime juice in a blender. Then you paint the ceiling with the smoothie when you accidentally turn the blender back on after Husband removes the lid.

I make it sound much easier than it is.

In between, there are a few intermediary steps that involve destroying Husband’s kitchen appliances, as well as a significant amount of profanity.

Destruction and profanity. That pretty much sums up my entire cooking style.

To be fair, the death of Husband’s beloved kitchen appliances was not exactly my fault.

Much like the ape uprising wasn’t exactly Caesar’s fault in Conquest of the Planet of the Apes, but was more precisely the result of what is known in scientific circles as the Ricardo Montalban Effect, an inevitable trajectory begun when Cornelius and Zira travelled back through time in Escape from the Planet of the Apes.

I’m not sure Husband sees it that way. Frankly, Husband should have seized operational control of this entire enterprise as soon as he heard me snuffling around in the kitchen, but he didn’t.

So really, who’s to blame here?

Ricardo Montalban, obviously.

First, the blender mysteriously refused to work. Husband joined me in the kitchen as soon as he heard me muttering and swearing at the blender. The indicator lights were on and the outlet worked, but no matter how much button-pushing we tried, the blender was an inert object. Our blender has 3 buttons. It’s not a complicated device.

For a brief moment I thought I’d well and truly lost my ability to function as an adult, so I felt better when it didn’t work for Husband, either.

House elves, we* agreed, are to blame for the death of the blender. I would feel bad if Ricardo Montalban was blamed for killing our blender.

At that point, Husband suggested we use the mixie. He dumped the ingredients from the blender carafe into the mixie carafe and started the mixie, which promptly broke. The little plastic pieces that spin the blades all broke off.

To be fair, the mixie has endured years of steady, almost daily use, and I contend it was time for a new one. I never touched the mixie, so clearly this was in no way my fault. I didn’t even suggest using it.

Clearly, this was Husband’s fault.

Although I may have been the one who failed to warn him that the pineapple chunks were still frozen and that there was a quarter cup of honey in the mix just waiting for an opportunity to ooze to the bottom of the carafe and gum up the blades. So that may have been my fault, but who can say, really?

While Husband was standing over the mixie, possibly administering Last Rites, I plugged the blender back in and hit the start button in what I figured was an act of futility. Of course the bastard roared to life. One of the three buttons didn’t work, so it’s still a bit of a mystery what’s up, but “on” and “off” were in good working order so who needs to the pulse function?

Husband dumped the ingredients back into the blender carafe, at which point we discovered that hard clump of honey and pineapple in the bottom of the mixie carafe.

You don’t need this much detail, and we don’t know for sure this is what killed the mixie, but I like typing the word “mixie.”

We then made smoothies without any further difficulty.

Unless you count the part where Husband removed the lid from the blender and I immediately reached over to make sure the blender was turned completely off so that we wouldn’t have any more accidental disasters. The carafe was still sitting on the blender body, where Husband left it when he removed the lid. Instead of powering down when I hit the button, the blender roared to life and geysered smoothie all over the kitchen counter and everything on that counter.

Obviously, it was his fault for not maintaining situational awareness (read: remembering that I was still in the room) and taking the carafe off the blender body before he removed the lid.

Husband does not agree with my logic.

In closing, making smoothies is serious business. Also, don’t forget to clean out the toaster while you’re wiping smoothie goo off of every other surface in the room.

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*We. I. One of those.


[embedded: Rise of the Planet of the Apes trailer]

I’m still aggravated by the mess Tim Burton made with his PotA remake, but I have high hopes for Rise of the Plant of the Apes because the trailer looks cool.

I think a lot of movies come out in 3D that don’t need to be in 3D. But this one? This one is not in 3D? This movie that has an ape jumping off of a skyscraper and into a helicopter in mid-air is not in 3D?

Why? Why is this movie not in 3D?

I repeat: Ape. Helicopter.

The changes at the CIA are serious bizness. Consequently, it’s a little annoying that everytime I read something about David Petraeus I picture him dancing around dressed like an orangutan. It’s because of this:

Which over the years has combined with this Simpson’s sketch about Planet of the Apes, the musical:

I know, I know, I need to get out more. Or watch the news less.

Oh, the news, the news.

Did you watch any 24 hour cable news channels yesterday? I did. I watched them all.

What’s that you’re saying? You have a life?

Well, you’re in luck, because Hank Stuever tells you what you missed. And yesterday, you missed cable news in an episode of ADD that we haven’t seen in a long time. Stuever writes, in today’s Washington Post TV Review column:

It was like watching a crazy uncle — some still call him Sam — have another of his little episodes, what the nation’s overworked home health-care aides would call “an active day.” The country’s up outta the recliner and straight through the back screen door and over the fence. Again.

Good stuff. Stuever’s column, that is, not cable news.

Honestly, I didn’t watch that much TV yesterday because it was too ridiculous, even for me.

Even. For. Me.

Think about that for a minute, people.

I caught a little bit of Ben Bernanke’s press conference and then when they switched over to a segment on dogs who looked like the royal couple. Or maybe they were dressed like the royal couple. Or were going to watch the royal wedding while in costumes. Or preferred to pee on newspapers with articles about the royal wedding. Or maybe the dogs want to be on celebrity apprentice or something like that.

I don’t really know – I turned the TV off and picked up a book.

On an unrelated note, have you ever googled “dogs who look like Donald Trump?” I don’t recommend it. If you really want to see a dog who looks like Donald Trump, I’ll leave you with this link from Animal Planet, “Dog is Donald Trump Doppelganger.” As a bonus, it includes a picture of a chihuahua dressed like Sarah Palin.

If we don’t go to the movies tonight, maybe I’ll get out my pixelvision camera and make my own movie. We bought a lot of Chips action figures from a clearance bin so we can create a world of Ponch and John clones.

I think the Ponch and John might be fixing Georgetown University Barbie up on a blind date with the Charleton Heston/Planet of the Apes doll. Later, maybe the Cornelius and the Ozzie Osborn dolls can crucify her!

[there were two versions of this post in the archives. I think the one I’d previously restored was a draft, so I’m replacing it with this one].

I enjoyed the Jaws reissue on DVD so much the other night that I felt compelled to watch the Jaws 2 reissue. I rented this one, I did not buy it. Let’s be clear – I may be crazy but I’m not stupid.

Jaws 2 was pretty awful. I knew it was bad going in, but I really didn’t remember it being this, well, awful.

There’s a fine line between bad and awful. But if you can transcend mere awfulness, you can reach the sublime state of Bad, which is more good than bad, really.

I believe I’ve explained all this to you before. My problem was that I had 4 mixed up with Jaws 3/3-D (the one at Sea World) which was was a bad/good interlude bordering on Bad before the franchise descended into bad/awful territory in Jaws 4D, wherein our hero pursues Brody’s widow and a drunk pilot played by Michael Caine to the ends of the earth.

You think the shark isn’t our hero? Oh baby, you haven’t seen all 4 of these in a row in a while have you? Yikes.

This took a deeper toll on me than the time we watched all of the Planet of the Apes movies – in their entirety – more than once over the course of one weekend. I thought I was made of stronger stuff but clearly I was mistaken. How do I know this? Because after I finished viewing Jaws 2 I got it into my head that watching a series of inferior sequels in one stretch was a good idea.

I not only watched Ace Ventura, Pet Detective, but I laughed. I didn’t laugh nearly as hard at Ace as I did at my next selection, the unintentionally hilarious Halloween 2.

I swear to you Donald Pleasance is method acting and has apparently been given the instruction to feel the pain of Cornelius in Escape from the Planet the Apes. He delivers a line and then shuffles off in this lurching way I can’t describe. Why does he walk that way? We never see his feet, maybe he’s wearing McDowell’s Ape-suit feet, necessitating the otherwise illogical loping/shuffling gait but still not explaining why he swings his arms that way. I simply don’t get it. Neither does Jamie Lee Curtis, which may be why her character spends the whole film hiding not only from her brother, but everyone else in the cast.

Do not try this at home, that’s all I have to say.