Posts tagged ‘Arts’

Castle Waiting

In a more appropriate context, Rulah Jungle Go...

Image via Wikipedia

Princess Celestia is a big fan of comic books and video games, especially role-playing video games. Literature is something that, like most people of her generation, as well as, hell, most of mine, doesn’t inspire her. She thinks of Shakespeare as archaic, and I dare say she resented having to read him in school. I do not like comic books or video games, so at times I have to pinch myself to stay in the conversation.

I have about as much interest in video games as I do in the fact that the New Kids on the Block is joining Back Street Boys for a concert tour. That is to say that it does not interest me. I only know about the concert because they ran ad space on a website that I visited. I feel like my mind was raped.

Comic books and “graphic novels” I see as the further dumbing down of America, anaesthetizing eye candy for the kiddos, something to enforce the good ol’ American values of sexism that we hold so dear. A whole book of men who put on tights and capes and become action heroes while women who look like the mirror image on a trucker’s mud flap display cleavage and gratitude, accordingly! Sounds like just my thing.

The comic books I remember from when I was young were lame. My brother had a bunch of them about Richie Rich. I hate fuckin’ Richie Rich.

In the interest of friendship, Princess Celestia had made a request that I explore alternative forms of entertainment, and, I guess, stop behaving like a little old lady. I draw the line at video games. Well, that’s not really true. I’ve played the Mr. Brewsters’ Wii. I’m just not any good at video games. My hand-eye coordination sucks, and I only win with games that require you to know voluminous amounts of useless information…and Scrabble. I’m not playing video games, especially not role playing games.

So, I said I’d read a comic book and be open minded about it. The book I was given was called Castle Waiting. For a comic book, it’s rather clever. It’s packaged just like a “real” book, hardcover with a ribbon for a bookmark. It’s bound really nicely. The art is appealing, and the story is sort of a send-up of fairy tales. There’s some clever word play and inside jokes. There’s even a nice, long subplot about an “order” of nuns entirely composed of bearded ladies. It has a not so subtle feminist angle.

I still do not like comic books, really. I think much gets lost in the art form, as compared to that of traditional literature. However, comic books have been around since my father was a kid. Maybe before that. There’s no reason why it has to be a case of either or. The two can co-exist. It’s both and. Maybe there’s another comic book out there just waiting to prove me wrong. Maybe there’s a video game…nah!

June 11, 2011 at 10:25 pm 4 comments

Twilight Had a Past Life

Beauty and the Beast (TV series)

Image via Wikipedia

Yesterday I was at work, chatting with a young friend, and we were bitching about the stupidity of Twilight, like I like to do, when somehow it occurred to me that Twilight has been around before. How, you might ask? Am I talking about Dracula? Interview with the Vampire, perhaps? No, it doesn’t involve vampires at all.

Over 20 years ago now someone in television had an idea about a lion-man who was living in an underworld of misfits in a sewer tunnel beneath New York City. And that lion-man saved a rich, spoiled attorney after she was viciously attacked in a city park. He nursed her back to health, and they formed a special bond, one where he could read her feelings. She gradually got better and went back to the real world where she decided to become an assistant district attorney and fight crime.

Eventually, the woman (Catherine) became a helper, someone from the real world who helped the misfit creatures keep their underworld labyrinth a secret. The lion-man (Vincent) came and saved Catherine from danger every week when he sensed that she was distressed, and then he read her poetry. They did not make love. A wealthy, super hot businessman was in love with Catherine, but she strung him along, caught between her powerful bond with Vincent and the hope of a normal life.

Hel-lo! Beauty and the Beast is Twilight. The parallels are amazing! Well, all except for the fact that I kind of liked Beauty and the Beast. First off, both Vincent and Edward are supernatural creatures. Both Vincent and Edward have psychic bonds with their objects of affection. Both Vincent and Edward have families of likewise unusual beings whose secrets must be guarded at all costs; in fact, both Vincent and Edward have a “Father.” Beauty and the Beast has a wealthy businessman. Twilight has a hot werewolf. Both the werewolf and the businessman are rivals that represent the hope of a more normal life for our heroine.

And perhaps the most important parallel of all: no one is having sex. Nobody is getting any. But it isn’t that they don’t want to! No. The reason Vincent and Edward don’t touch their lovers except to save the constant damsels in distress is because they are both afraid that they will hurt their lady loves. This is the most crucial parallel: the crux of the stories.

Oh, sure, eventually Edward and Bella and Catherine and Vincent get around to doing it. But you have to wait for the last book with Twilight. And Catherine has Vincent’s baby but then later dies in the jump the shark moment from Beauty and the Beast. Sex is a killer. Gotta save it for the last book.

I’ve totally discovered the route to commercial success! It’s a blueprint. First, create a mythical man-beast. Then have him rescue a young heroine, repeatedly, as in so often that you wonder how it is possible for one woman to be so clumsy and/or attract so much danger. Have the heroine be smitten with the man-beast but torn between him and a more conventional life represented by a rival who’s hopefully both hot and rich. But just hot will do.

Have the hero risk his life repeatedly for the heroine but selflessly refuse to have sex with her, even if she begs him to do it. And voila! You have a blueprint for success. And I think what Stephenie Meyer has learned is that if you absolutely remove body hair or any semblance of post pubescent masculinity, that you can appeal to teenage girls with this formula! Amazing!

Now that I’ve figured this out I can write my own bestselling saga. In fact, I can write a bunch of them. I’ll just change the hero out. My first page turner will be called Minotaur. That’ll get me a five book deal at least. Next, I’ll write Satyr. Oooh. I wonder if you could remake The Fly as a teen romance. I’m going to be very busy writing crap. If you have any story ideas for some mythical men who won’t have sex, feel free to comment here.

April 19, 2011 at 11:12 pm Leave a comment

Lyrical Mishaps

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!

December 22, 2010 at 12:36 am 2 comments

The Kool-Aid of Personality

A typical North American office

Image via Wikipedia

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.


December 17, 2010 at 12:06 am 4 comments

Funny Women: Daria Morgendorffer


Image via Wikipedia

“People call me a feminist whenever I express sentiments that differentiate me from a doormat or a prostitute.”  — Daria

Daria is actually a cartoon character, but I think she might be one of the funniest women I’ve ever seen. Daria was a spin off of Beavis & Butthead. The character was created to serve as the foil of the dimwitted boys. She was given her own series because MTV was looking for a way to ride the wave of the disaffected teen girl shows of the late 90s, like My So Called Life.

The show was on the air for five years from 1997 to 2002. When the series begins, Daria is a high school sophomore moving to a new city. When it ends, Daria is an 18-year-old graduating senior headed to the fictional Raft University in Boston. Along the way she’s made a friend or two, gained and lost her first boyfriend, and explored teenage suburbia with keen insight and acerbic wit.

The man principally responsible for her creation was a Beavis & Butthead producer.  Glenn Eichler and Susie Lewis Lynn created the spinoff together. Eichler is now a staff writer for The Colbert Show on Comedy Central and recently won an Emmy for his writing on that show. Daria was a social satire, and Eichler recently commented that he felt that his work on The Colbert Show was essentially an extension of what he did on Daria, calling out hypocrisy.

Daria shot scripts from a lot of female writers, and many of the production staff were women. Of the eighteen writers for all of the show’s scripts, eight of them were women, which is a higher proportion than most of the television comedy shows on the air at that time, or even now.

November 19, 2010 at 4:28 pm 1 comment

Crazy Heart

Cover of "Crazy Heart"

Cover of Crazy Heart

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.

January 19, 2010 at 9:10 pm Leave a comment

My Fantasy Dinner Party

Steven Spielberg and Carrie Fisher. Photo take...

Image via Wikipedia

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.

2. Steve Martin – A great writer, a funny and creative soul. I love The Jerk, L.A. Story, Roxanne, and Shop Girl. He’s wonderful. I hope he brings his banjo.

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.

August 10, 2009 at 11:41 pm 2 comments

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