Not that Rollerball

Rollerball was on. Cool. I was busy writing and wasn’t watching the television but within seconds of half listening I knew something was wrong. For one thing, the voices were all wrong. For another, there was no Bob Miller announcing. And there was a helluva lot of screeching. Tires screeching. Players screeching. Crowds screeching. I didn’t remember that much screeching. I also didn’t remember Rollerball being this mindnumbingly stupid. I looked at the television. Oh yeah, this was a remake.

I didn’t think I was going to hear Toccata and Fugue in D Minor anytime soon. Or Shostakovich. I think I heard Green Day, though. I didn’t stick around to see who the new John Houseman was. Caught a glimpse of some lady without a lot of clothes on. More loud music. Screeching. And LL Cool J. I remember when he couldn’t live without his radio. Rocking the bells with real bells on. And here he is twenty years later in an incredibly bad remake of a favorite science fiction movie of mine.

Yup, this was the Rollerball remake, 2002. You probably never saw it in the theater. It apparently shows up on IFC occasionally for irony’s sake. Unfortunately, by my age, I don’t feel that I have enough time to spend on irony. Irony is best left for the twenty somethings. Things are funnier then. I imagine a man of my reputation being felled by a stroke watching the remake of Rollerball. Staring dead eyed at whoever that is who’s not James Caan, Green Day blasting from the television. My friends wouldn’t remember what I’m writing now. No, they’d remember that I died watching the remake of Rollerball. You spend your life being an arrogant intellectual snob and they find you watching that. My mother used to warn me about things like this. Well, she said I should wear clean underwear in case I ever had to go to the hospital. You don’t want the nurses to know you wear dirty underwear. But the metaphor holds. So I don’t want people to know I was watching the remake of Rollerball either. I can just hear my smartass friends at my wake, snickering.

So I turn it off. The room fills with silence, nothing but the clacking of the keys as I write this. Though in my head I’m hearing Bach’s Toccata and Fugue in D Minor. But that’s not a pipe organ, it’s a Moog. Switched on Bach, Walter Carlos switching into Wendy Carlos. And before it mentally morphs into Hooked on Classics, I turn on the stereo. Afro-funk fills the room and brings this to a close.

James Caan in the real Rollerball (1975), which was set in 2018, actually.

James Caan in the original Rollerball (1975), which was set in 2018, incidentally.


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