Friday, April 2, 2010
It’s time for a new school!
It is time to tear the Spalding School down, after 55 years, and replace it with a new, larger two-story building to serve students enrolled in grades preK through 2. Spalding has the poorest facility rating by state standards and it obviously needs to be replaced. With the Massachusetts School Building Authority (MSBA) providing $7 million towards the $20 million project, which also includes repairs and renovations to the Robbins, Wilkins, and Corey buildings, the cost to Carlisle residents will be $13 million. Carlisle is in the fi rst group of schools that the MSBA has agreed to collaborate with on a school building project. The Town has 120 days to decide if we wish to accept this offer. If we vote No, it may be diffi cult to secure state funding for such a project in the near future, especially in these harsh economic times.
For more details on the school building project, check out page 4 of this week’s issue, as well as the four March issues of the Mosquito. Also look over the brochure sent to all town residents by the School Building Committee, with detailed drawings and an overview of construction and project costs. Both the Finance Committee and the Board of Selectmen are unanimous in their support.
Those of you with children may bring them along on Monday night. After 6:45 p.m., the Carlisle Kids’ House will provide day care in the exercise room of the Corey Building.
I was pleased when The Hurt Locker beat out Avatar for Best Picture. (To avoid copyright infringement, I won’t mention the name of the award.) This tiny blip on the radar screen of what is truly important in a country embroiled in its longest war and with a widening gap between rich and poor helped restore my faith in America. Karen and I did see Avatar in 3D, so no need to worry that we missed the full Avatar experience. Sure, it suffered from all the hype; perhaps nothing could have met our expectations. Yes, the creation of a believable entire world (for a mere $250 million dollars, less than 1/50th the cost of the Big Dig), with its astonishing flora and fauna (on Pandora, not in the tunnels through Boston), was occasionally breathtaking. But the storytelling was so conventional that for all its swoop and sweep, Avatar left me cold.
The Hurt Locker, which follows members of a bomb squad in Iraq – a war that was apparently part of the inspiration for Avatar – is small and tightly focused, where Avatar is big and broad. For all the inventiveness of Avatar, it was The Hurt Locker that gave me the sense I was experiencing something unlike anything I had before. As if I were the one inside the protective suit the protagonist wears when diffusing IEDs, I felt anxiety gripping me (seemingly more acutely than the cool character himself, who relishes his job). The immediacy of The Hurt Locker also made me appreciate the heroism and empathize with the sacrifi ce of our soldiers and their families. Although the first chunk of Avatar introduces the technology that allows humans to get inside the skin – even the minds – of the Na’vi, I recall but one, too short moment that expressed the niftiness of that idea: just after paraplegic human Jake in his avatar form fi rst sets foot on Pandora, we see a close-up of his bare foot feeling the texture of Pandoran soil. But it’s gone in an instant. The rest is conventional – militaristic capitalist bad guys versus aboriginal attuned-to-nature good guys. Sadly, the nature lovers defeat the bad guys at their own game in a pitched battle with minimal reliance on their special connection to nature. (I’m sorry, but the neural link the Na’vi have with their pterodactyl steeds seems no more special than what the bad guys have with their transformers-style war-bodies.)
Okay, The Hurt Locker is the better movie. But box offi ce is king and it was David versus Goliath; according to The New Yorker, one took in 16 million dollars and the other 11 million, but the bigger number was the entire take for The Hurt Locker and the smaller number was one weekend’s gross for Avatar… in Italy. A sweet upset. James Cameron is an egotistical schmo, self-proclaimed “King of the World!” and Kathryn Bigelow, the first female Best Director, is one of Cameron’s several ex-wives and seems human. It sounds a bit like a script pitched in Hollywood. Avatar represents the superfi cial side of America: all that money and technological innovation to create a glorifi ed and basically empty self-playing video game for maximum profit. It’s literally about watching; we’re outside the experience. The Hurt Locker is the experience. Yes, it is entertainment, but it seems real, and it connects. It does so using conventional means in an unconventional way. That’s real creativity, and for me, that’s what it’s all about.
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