Culture vulture

Photo By C. Owsley Rain

Way to graduate, dude
Despite having quite a few friends who are college graduates, Culture Vulture has attended very few graduation ceremonies. If asked how we would sum up our impression of the graduation process, the phrase “tediously ritualistic” would probably roll out of the back of our mind and off the tip of our tongue like a ball bearing coated with olive oil.

But, weird similes aside, sometimes one must participate in a ritual in order to gain a more complete appreciation of its inner workings. And there’s no better reason for attending a graduation exercise than having a good and highly respected friend donning the cap and gown.

So when our friend Big Scotty sent an invitation to attend the pinning ceremony for the 2005 Chico State graduating class of registered nurses, you can bet that the lovely I. Daphne St. Brie and self RSVP’d with alacrity. To celebrate a friend’s graduation in any field of study is a worthwhile affirmative activity, but to welcome a freshly minted nurse into the world is to affirm the arrival of a life devoted to healing and service to the infirm, and that is truly cause for celebration.

Hats off to Scott Dauwalder and all of the graduating nurses—the world is a better place because you are in it. Thanks.

Way to lose the Force, George
Long ago (1977), while living in a town not very far away (Corning), I drove over to Chico to see a highly touted new sci-fi film (Star Wars). As a longtime science-fiction reader who had heretofore been pretty underwhelmed by most of what passed for SF in the cinematic realm, I had high hopes that at last someone was going to get it right.

Driving home, I compared Star Wars to my previous favorites, which included Douglas Trumball’s Silent Running (1972) and Richard Fleischer’s Fantastic Voyage (1966). Growing up rural, without the cultural benefits of cable TV, I hadn’t yet seen such marvels as Forbidden Planet (1956), The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951) or even Day of the Triffids (1962), all of which, in retrospect, I consider equal to if not far better than Star Wars. Not that I think Star Wars is a bad motion picture—it’s pleasantly spectacular lightweight entertainment in a puerile, willfully naive sort of way—it just never explores its own implied universe deeply enough to make us take it seriously.

Having come up with the dualistic Force as the motivating factor of his universe, Lucas never delves into the humanistic/mystical implications of his most intriguing creation. And the subsequent movies have continued to reduce the Force to just another cartoonish plot device good for allowing a guy to levitate a piece of fruit for his girlfriend or retrieve his light saber from underneath the couch.

I haven’t seen the newest chapter yet, so I can’t condemn the whole franchise as a hollow and tedious spectacle, but so far my hopes—especially after seeing the Attack of the Clones on TV the other night and falling asleep somewhere in the last half hour—are not high for a redeeming final chapter to the series. I hope the film proves me wrong.