Longest Wind Briefs – 10 Cloverfield Lane, the Alien Franchise, and Kentucky Fried Chicken

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These posts are like tapas, only less expensive!

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Earlier this month, I scoured this year’s new movie schedule in order to get an idea of how many movies I absolutely must see in theaters. I came up with five: Captain America: Civil War (5-6-16), The Conjuring 2: The Enfield Poltergeist (6-10-16), Independence Day: Resurgence (6-24-16), Doctor Strange (11-4-16), and Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (12-16-16).

Of course, that was before J.J. Abrams surprised us by unveiling 10 Cloverfield Lane, a movie that Abrams describes as a blood relative to the 2008 film Cloverfield. Here’s the trailer:

The Boring Brilliance of the Alien Franchise

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In the ’50s and ’60s, science fiction was depicted the future as an exciting time to live in. Everything was perfectly polished. Men and women wore skin-tight jumpers and we were all in peak condition. We had flying cars and silly ray guns and adventure was around every corner. It was a terrible lie, because everyone knows you can only be excited about something for so long. You watch a vine of someone teleporting from Earth to Venus, you share it with some friends, and in no time you have assimilated this information into the status quo. If you watch the same video a year later, you’re already bored with it.

This is why the Alien films are some of the best science fiction out there. When A New Hope came out in 1977, viewers were blown away by the giant Corellian Corvette, a bright and exciting space vessel that just kept getting bigger and bigger. In 1979, when the Nostromo comes on the screen, it just looks like some trash barge or oil rig in the middle of space. There are a lot of suspense-related reasons for Alien being exemplary in its genre, but it is exactly this boredom factor that makes it the best of the best.

The scene that originally brought me to this conclusion was Ripley’s epic battle with the alien queen at the end of Aliens (1986). In classic Japanese style, Ripley has donned a mech suit in order to battle a monster, but this suit was not built for battling larger-than-life beasts. It is basically the future’s equivalent of a forklift. The operator steps inside and can use hydraulics to lift heavy objects, to weld metal with less risk of harm, and to do various other shipping and repair duties. This was not a scene from Evangelion or Guyver; this was the equivalent of battling an elephant with a hi-lo. Hurley’s battle with the queen makes me proud of all the forklift drivers I’ve worked with over the years. Until we invent airlocks, you guys and gals may just be our last line of defense against rampaging biologicals.

The First Rule of Fried Chicken

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“I don’t know what to order,” Amy said as we stared at the menu. “I have never been to KFC before.” This wasn’t entirely true. While peeling apart a chicken thigh, Amy realized she had been to Kentucky Fried Chicken in the past, but only once. She could still count her experiences with the Colonel on one Ninja Turtle foot.

We each settled on a 3-piece chicken value meal with a drink, a biscuit, mashed potatoes, and macaroni, and I was actually surprised that I only got three pieces of chicken. Before you blow up at me, I used to work at a place called Chicken Express and on the first day I was taught that you always give the customer at least one extra piece of chicken. Nobody ever told me why, but I assumed that you always want to give people more chicken so they don’t complain. Because chickens naturally come in different shapes and sizes, a leg is not always the same as another leg. Some pieces might still be fresh but aren’t piping hot still. We would give extra pieces to customers to make up for chicken inequality. Once I knew about this, I started noticing it at other fast food fried chicken restaurants. This habit was not limited to Chicken Express. Over time, I’ve decided “Give ’em one extra” is the first rule of fried chicken.

Kentucky Fried Chicken broke the rules. I ordered three pieces of chicken and they gave me three pieces of chicken. Nobody shouted out, “Throw in an extra wing.” Just three pieces of chicken. After I discussed this with my wife, we compared our chicken thighs — they were all the same size! I hadn’t had a legitimate problem with the lack of extra chicken until I really started thinking about it. Real chickens come in different shapes and sizes, but KFC can guarantee the same size on each piece of chicken. Chickens were once an organic being, full of variance and life and unpredictability, but now they can be patented and grown to order. You have to wonder if there’s a point where these creatures stop being chickens and start being some mad product of mad science. Needless to say, the concept made me skeptical about ever returning to KFC. Amy was pretty much over it too, but mostly because she thought the food tasted gross.

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