The Real Paul Jones

Accept no substitutes

Date: 7/31/2005

Father-son flicks on a rainy day

Without entirely realizing the theme or the local connections, Tucker and I watched two great father-son movies with Chapel Hill connections on this rainy Sunday.

Danny Wallace‘s Big Fish as interpreted by Tim Burton is dazzling and funny. The father here is a teller of tales which are nearly true and to everyone but his son better than the truth. they are mythic and aspire to more than the father has actually achieved which drives his son now a reporter in france up the wall. the son tries to get at the truth — the wrong truth it turns out — until the last moments of his father’s life when he must create the final mythic tale for his father. then the funeral comes and we see that there are pieces of fact among the stories. just pieces but enough to give the myths meanings and to make them more than just fantasy.

October Sky, an anagram as it turns out for Rocket Boys the title of the memoir by Homer Hickham, has an appearance by Chapel Hill’s Mark J. Miller as the alcoholic stepfather of one of the boys. The tension in the story of Hickham and his friends is between Hickham’s father who is secure only in his work in the coal mines and is threatened by his son’s going interest and success in rocketry. The father has his reasons: people are dying in the mines, the local mine isn’t producing up to the expected levels, the United Mine Workers are calling for a strike, there are layoffs called for, and the town, a company owned town, might close down with the mine. Still the son must follow his dream of creating rockets with his friends and of reaching beyond the small coaltown to some other larger world — to be as it were a big fish.

kegbot kegerator and Tar Heel of the Week

Technology to the rescue! Teen age drinking is a problem in Chapel Hill and elsewhere. Anti-drinking crusader Dale Pratt-Wilson is on the case and is featured as Tar Heel of the Week in the News and Observer (note: I was TotW back nearly 10 years ago. My being there had nothing to do with drinking.). Pratt-Wilson was a strong proponent of keg registration laws which if put in place would create stronger controls on kegs than on firearms. DPW makes sense on at least one point since more teens die in drinking related accidents than from gun shots. But as opponents point out, teens are not buying or drinking most of the beer. Immediate civil liberty questions come to mind. There was even a move to put RFIDs on kegs.

Leave it to the folks at Make Magazine. These technologists have gone several steps better with the kegbot kegerator. The Kegbot keeps up with all kinds of information including temperature, amount of beer remaining, etc but more importantly Kegbot keeps up with who is drinking how much using an iButton key. It can cut off heavy drinkers. And it does create an amusing way of measuring beer usage.

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