Posts tagged ‘Arts’
So, the video to “Take A Chance on Me” reminded me that song lyrics are something that I frequently mess up on. For instance, the lyrics to that song include the line, “Honey, I’m still free/Take a chance on me,” but when I was a kid I thought that they were singing, “Olly oxen free/Take a chance on me.” For real. Like they were playing hide and go seek.
Or how ‘bout the lyrics to “Blinded By the Light” as recorded by Manfred Mann? I grew up thinking that they were singing, “Wrapped up like a douche/Another runner in the night.” Turns out the guys were singing deuce, not douche. They were referring to a deck of cards and not a bottle of vinegar and water marked Massengill. This should have occurred to me since I’m pretty sure that douche is a word that would have been censored from the radio when I was a child. Probably even now. Since I wouldn’t have had the foggiest notion of what a douche was at the time I guess it’s kind of a moot point.
And what about “Down Under” by Men at Work? Could anybody from the States even tell what all those lyrics were? For instance, all this time I’ve been thinking that they were saying that I better, better run, I better take a boat when it turns out that they were saying that I better run, I better take cover. Did anyone else besides me get that version? I had to look it up on the internet to figure out the real lyrics. And what the hell does it mean to chunder? I think they made that up.
Here’s another great one. You know “Let It Snow”? Well, I always used to think the lyrics went like this, “Later on we’ll perspire as we dream by the fire.” Frankly, that made sense to me. That fire’s toasty warm. You’re going to be sweating.
Well, I’m sure that you can all think of some great examples yourselves. Happy holidays!
If you read this regularly, you’ll notice (or not) that I don’t write about my day job. Yes, I have one. Again, this blog doesn’t make me one penny.
I recently started working for a new company. I still socialize with people from my old company, a great company where I worked for three years. Let’s call my old company ABC Company. ABC Company is a multi-billion dollar company with division offices here in Austin.
Because I don’t want to lose my job or be sued for releasing proprietary information or any nonsense like that, I don’t usually write about my job. I just don’t even want to be tempted to write something that’s going to get me in trouble. Even now I’m not giving much away.
Suffice it to say that ABC Company was a great company to work for with good benefits and a top-notch, pleasant working environment. It is considered the premiere company in its field, and its stock is favorably rated. It’s a tech forward company run by a charismatic CEO, a sort of cult of personality if you will. People greatly admire ABC Company, and the corporate culture refers to this admiration as “drinking the Kool-Aid.” You could guess as to the identity of ABC Company, and you just might be right.
Now I work at XYZ Corporation. XYZ Corporation has a division office in Austin. They bought a wholly owned subsidiary that started in Austin, and they office some of their people out of this office. They also still operate the subsidiary under its original name with its original purpose.
So, like the other company, they are not headquartered here. XYZ Corporation is also a pleasant working environment. It’s very technologically adept. It’s publicly traded. They have comparable benefits and just as much free food and free concerts and other unusual perks as ABC Company did. You might even say that XYZ Corporation is the premiere company in its field. It has been around forever, and it has a stellar reputation.
Now if I mentioned the actual names of either of these companies you would know exactly what I am talking about because both of these corporations are multi-billion dollar household names with global presences. So, why is it that everyone that I used to work with at ABC Company looks at me at parties, wrinkles their foreheads, puts on an air of pity and tells me, “You know, you can always go back to work for ABC Company,” as if ABC Company were the only company in the world?
Is it because I no longer have to work on weekends or in the evenings or work in a call center? Or is it because it’s a smaller environment where my contributions are more likely to stand out in the crowd? Or is it because I really will have an actual shot at a writing job at XYZ Corporation, where they not only employ procedural and technical writers but have an entire editorial department that offices here in Austin? I’m confused.
I went to see one of those frou-frou, artsy fartsy type movies with my friend Lubbock last weekend. This meant that we went to the Arbor Regal Cinema where I circled around for approximately twenty minutes before I could find a parking spot.
If you want to see an independent film that will be the slightest bit original or cause you to think, this is usually the only game in town. There’s also the Dobie and sometimes the Alamo Drafthouse, but The Arbor is usually where you go, surrounded by the too cool and the post-millennium yuppies.
The movie is called Crazy Heart, and it stars Jeff Bridges, Colin Farrell, Maggie Gyllenhaal, and Robert Duvall. It’s about a down on his luck, fifty-seven year old alcoholic country singer who was a big success once upon a time. The music is exceptionally good, if you like country music.
Jeff Bridges (who is totally the King of Cool and can be my best friend if he wants to be (Call me!)) plays the drunk, Bad Blake. Yes, Bad is his name. That is how effortlessly cool Jeff Bridges is.
The movie is like a cross between Tender Mercies and A Star is Born, with a little Twenty Eight Days thrown in at the end. Bridges is a dead ringer for Kris Kristofferson throughout the whole movie, which might be the only reason I referenced A Star is Born, since I’ve never actually seen that movie. It shows the unseemly side of the music business, what living on the road is really like for the majority of artists who choose to make their living through music.
Since it is the story of an alcoholic, there are the requisiste scenes of debauchery and one night stands, drunk driving and car accident, cold sweats, pass outs and projectile vomiting. By the time the movie opens he’s already hit pretty close to rock bottom, and we get to see him gain a little foothold in hope with the much younger and incredibly lovely Maggie Gylenhaal character and her four-year-old son. The son, coincidentally, (wink, wink) is the same age of Bad’s own son when he abandoned him over twenty years before.
Then, of course, you see him lose the impossibly lovely woman and the adorable boy with a tragic mistake that’s no one’s fault but his own. In truth, it could have happened to anyone, but it had the bad luck to happen to Bad when he was drunk. You can see this plot point at the end of Act II coming a mile away, but that doesn’t make it any less moving.
As far as Bad’s redemption goes, you can spot that before it comes, too. The Robert Duvall character, a bar owner in Houston, is so obviously Bad’s patient recovering alcoholic friend, just waiting for that phone call. At one point in the movie, he comes into Bad’s house and finds him passed out on his bathroom floor, vomit in the toilet, whiskey bottle in hand, and calmly tells him to get up and get dressed ‘cause they’re going fishing. No reaction at all.
The movie does redeem the character of Bad. We see him get sober, and he writes a song that his former protégé, Tommy Sweet [Colin Farrell], records and makes into a big country hit, thus literally reversing Bad’s fortune. There is even a bittersweet reunion with the Maggie Gylenhaal character. But, like in real life, she didn’t wait for Bad to get his act together.
In real life, the alcoholic and her object of affection, who tells her he wants to rescue her, have a huge blow out and then the object of affection continues dating a younger, prettier, thinner woman who’s probably not smarter or funnier than the alcoholic but definitely less neurotic. Imagine if Miss Romania were the poster child for mental health, with a glass of sparkling bubbly in her hand. (Ahem! Did I just write that out loud?)
Oh, yeah. I was writing about the movie, Crazy Heart. In the movie, the Maggie Gyllenhaal character moves on with “a good guy” that we don’t get to see. But if there’s any poetic justice in this world, the good guy looks exactly like Matt Damon or Mark Wahlberg, with washboard abs. And he’s hung like a horse. Maybe there’s even an unrated director’s cut DVD with some soft corn porn scenes that got lost on the cutting room floor. Take that, Bad, you horrible, old, fat, miserable drunkard, you!
In this, at least, the movie gets it right. I mean, really, if you had a choice between Jeff Bridges, made up to look like Kris Kristofferson with twenty-five extra pounds of Haagen Daazs, and a much younger, prettier and thinner woman who’s your exact physical description of the ideal woman who stars in your every wet dream, who would you pick? Even I would pick Miss Romania, and I’m not a lesbian. It’s a no brainer.
Okay. That’s not really true. I would still pick Jeff Bridges, but that’s only because I’m not a man or a lesbian, but, hell, he’s Jeff Bridges! (Wait!! Did I get my life confused with the movie again? We’re talking about the movie, dammit! Oh, well, they probably get it. Assume your audience has some intelligence.)
This is probably what separates this little movie from a big budget Hollywood fantasy. In the big budget Hollywood fantasy, Bad would get the girl as well. In the independent movie, he doesn’t get the girl, but there’s denouement, there’s catharsis, there is closure. In real life, you move on and wish the object of your affection well. You probably never speak to him again.
After all, what’s the point? It won’t change anything. He’s not going to be able to say a single thing that will not be entirely too painful to hear. You can’t say anything that won’t make him feel like shit for doing nothing more than living his own life and finding his own happiness, something he’s perfectly entitled to pursue as a Constitutional right. And he can’t rescue you. With God’s help, you have to rescue yourself.
I would say that this movie is more realistic about what it’s like to be an alcoholic. But the truth is that it’s more like real life, period, sober or drunk, than a typical Hollywood fantasy. To paraphrase the Rolling Stones, “You can’t always get what you want. But if you try sometimes, you just might find, you get what you need.” It’s just one of those things.
Have you ever wanted to have a fantasy dinner party? What if you could invite any eight people alive or dead over for dinner? Who would you pick? I am going to attempt to pick eight people for my dinner party and to tell you why I would have them there. They don’t come in any order of particular favoritism.
1. William Shakespeare – I think this one is pretty self evident. He’s brilliant. Perhaps the best writer of all time. I would want to pick his brain.
3. Carrie Fisher – The author of Postcards from the Edge and Wishful Drinking and the woman who played Princess Leia and co-starred in When Harry Met Sally. She is undoubtedly the wittiest woman alive.
4. Jesus – Depending upon how you feel about the issue, he could be my second dead guest or he could be very much among the living. He might not seem to fit in, but I think he’d be a great contributor to our conversation.
5. Don Henley – We have to have at least one musician, and he is one whom I greatly admire. He’s thoughtful, involved in lots of great causes. His lyrics seem to mirror a lot of my sensibilities.
6. Dorothy Parker – The wittiest woman that ever lived could give Carrie Fisher a run for her money, and I would love to hear stories from the Algonquin Round Table.
7. Eleanor Roosevelt – Out of all the guests so far, I think she might get along with everyone the best except for Jesus. Jesus loves everyone. I’d want to hear her views on the current world situation and her ideas on how to improve it.
8. Cary Grant – This is just because he fascinates me. I’ve probably read at least five biographies on him. He was supposedly a fascinating raconteur. I’d want to hear all about his life from his viewpoint.
Of course, I can think of more people I’d like to have dinner with besides just these eight. However, I don’t want to have to cook for more people than that. Maybe I could win the Publisher’s Clearinghouse and have the event catered.
My favorite television shows when I was a kid weren’t very sophisticated. I liked Batman and Get Smart, Brady Bunch and The Partridge Family. I loved variety shows like Sonny and Cher, The Donny and Marie Show, and The Carol Burnett Show. I still like The Carol Burnett Show, not that you see it anymore except for in late night infomercials for DVDs from Guthy-Renker. I loved The Mary Tyler Moore Show and Marlo Thomas in That Girl, because they represented, for me, single career women who were independent, happy and fabulous. I looked up to them and wanted to be them one day when I grew up.
I didn’t care for The Dukes of Hazard or A-Team, but I loved The Bionic Woman and Charlie’s Angels. I had Barbie dolls of Cher, Marie Osmond, and The Bionic Woman growing up. When detective shows were everywhere I loved Hart to Hart and Remington Steele. I loved both The Cosby Show and Family Ties. Don’t get me started on Michael J. Fox. I’ll never stop. And then when I was in high school there was a revelation of what might be the greatest TV show of all time.
I remember my first viewing of Moonlighting. The pilot. It was greatness. The writing was great. I was too young and unsophisticated to realize they were ripping off the screwball comedies of the 1930s that I also loved. I just knew that it was wildly funny and entertaining and imaginative. And the sexual tension was palpable. Ah, Bruce Willis with hair in Ray Bans and a suit, in a BMW. His impression on my formative adolescent years was so strong that that image is like sex on film for me. When they finally got together to Ronnie and the Ronettes’ “Be My Baby,” it was thrilling. Even when I viewed the entire series on DVD as an adult a few years ago I still thought it was marvelous and fresh. There’s never been anything on television like it, before or since.
After Moonlighting, nothing really caught my imagination to the same degree until Ally McBeal came along. And I loved that show. People had a hard time with that show to some degree. There were criticisms and articles about how she brought back feminism by several years. How? Because she liked to wear mini-skirts and look attractive? Because she was obsessed with her married ex-boyfriend, Billy? Because she saw hallucinations of Dancing Babies accompanied to B.J. Thomas’s “Hooked on a Feeling”? Because she represented independent career women who still wanted to find love and raise a family? How very offensive! Everyone knows that true feminists should look and act and feel and have all the same opinions as Norman Lear’s Maude.
I liked a show called Christy that was based on a book by Catherine Marshall about a young woman who volunteered as a missionary teacher in the Appalachians. But like so much TV that I find watchable and worthy of praise even, it didn’t last.
The next show to hook me was Felicity. Over the years, it evolved into more of a soap opera, but in the beginning it was really wonderful. Felicity was about a freakishly intelligent woman with a famous head of curly hair who moves to New York from California to run after a boy from high school that she had a crush on. She does this because he “encourages” her by writing in her yearbook that he always wished that he knew her better. This show also had a lot of great writing and great actors. It was one of Jennifer Garner’s first acting roles of any consequence, and John Ritter and Chris Sarandon both had lengthy guest roles. It introduced us to Keri Russell and Scott Speedman and Scott Foley. It was created by J.J. Abrams, the man who brought us Lost, my favorite television show of the present.
I didn’t watch Lost for the first season. I caught on in repeats that were shown during that first summer hiatus. I loved it for the mystery and the characterizations and the fantastical plot that seemed to almost rival anything that Days of our Lives has ever done. My favorite characters are not Jack, Sawyer or Kate, although I like them okay. My favorites are John Locke and Sayid, followed by Desmond, Rose, Hurley and Ben. They are much more interesting to me. And I think that both Sayid and Richard Alpert are sexy as hell.
I could go on, but these are the stand outs in my mind. With the possible exception of Friends, Seinfeld, Frasier, the British show Keeping Up Appearances, and the super funny Arrested Development I think I’ve made an almost exhaustive list. But maybe I’ll think of some others later.
Holly Golightly coined the phrase The Mean Reds. Instead of having the blues she had the mean reds. Sometimes I think that I have the mean reds. To me, it’s like an extreme form of the blues. It’s like being suddenly and inexplicably depressed. There’s no reason to it. It can last for a day or several days or even several weeks.
There are thoughts that play through my head. The thoughts are like this. I am somehow unlovable. I will die alone. I will never have sex again unless a mortician molests my dead body. They will find my dead body partially eaten by my dog. There is no point to life. Why do I get out of bed in the morning? I used to think I was special, and I would do something great with my life, but the truth is that I’m just ordinary. My life has no purpose or meaning. The things I wanted out of life will never be mine. I can’t even get the consolation prizes that should automatically be mine. The rules of the universe change in order to bring me disappointment. Why do I even try?
This is the soundtrack in my mind. I am dangerous when I get like this. I say things that provoke arguments. I misunderstand what’s said to me. I attribute the worst meaning possible to innocuous statements. I should just refuse to speak with people when I have the mean reds. I should write letters of apology in advance.