From Slab City, I drove north in California to Joshua Tree National Park. I camped for 4 nights at different sites throughout the park, but was not blown away by it. That's probably indicative of me being a little burnt-out rather than the park being lackluster. I did a few hikes, including one to a palm tree oasis in a little valley. The weather was sunny and cool. After the landfill that was Slab City, every campground seemed pristine. Joshua Tree is popular amongst climbers (see the many boulder pics below) but I don't know how to climb.
I emerged on the north end of Joshua Tree and proceeded west, stopping in 29 Palms, Joshua Tree, and Yucca Valley. In 29 Palms I filed taxes at an HR Block. Thn I met with an old friend in Yucca Valley and hung out there for about a week. Parking laws are lax in Yucca Valley and I could more or less park overnight wherever I wanted. I had access to internet via coffee shops and there was a movie theater within walking distance where I saw WATCHMEN and THE INTERNATIONAL. Since I have nothing else to report in this blog entry I'm going to play the role of a movie critic for a few paragraphs...
I went into WATCHMEN as a loving fan of the novel. The film is a triumph in many ways but it stumbles severely with its climax and it's that misstep which is, unfortunately, the most memorable. At one point, about 20 minutes before the ending, audience members at my screening got up from their seats and collected their coats and cups and started to exit --- not because they were unhappy with the film, but because all signs seemed to indicate that the credits were about to roll! Then the action resumed and they sat down again. They looked embarassed but really the shame belongs solely to the filmmakers for their tone-deaf pacing and editing in the final act.
If I had to sum up WATCHMEN I'd compare it to that goofy football blunder by Philadelphia Eagle DeSean Jackson this past season. In an important game against a rival, Jackson, a rookie, made a stellar reception and began running toward what would have been his first NFL touchdown. However, about 1 yard from the goal line (and glory!), he "fumbled" the ball. Calling it a fumble is too forgiving. In fact he tossed it to the ground as if he were already in the endzone. The Eagles eventually recovered and won the game, so 'no harm, no foul'. Unfortunately, we can't say the same for the makers of WATCHMEN.
Then there was THE INTERNATIONAL - a film which I saw mainly for Clive Owen, who with each of these types of movies becomes more and more gloomy (and he's all the more magnetic for it). The film didn't disappoint me.
That's it for this post. I don't have much else to report. I've included some photographs from Joshua Tree below.