Tuesday, December 20, 2005

The Twelve Days Of Christmas

[Y Note: I dinna know if this is true or not, but got it in an email chain and thot it was cool, so here ya go.]

See the first comment, this is all a bunch of malarkey. Thanks Sharon!

I kinda sorta suspected this was BS, and here's why: It seemed to me that it would be easier to memorize the things that this myth says all the lyrics are mnemonics for rather than the mnemonics themselves, as mnemonics are supposed to suggest the thing you're trying to remember. I can see the little tot now asking, "Can't I just remember it's Jesus and not a Partridge?"

The "oppression" thing struck me as odd, too. I know in Britain there was some silliness in that regard, and Catholics have certainly been made to feel unwelcome in some places, but this myth made me wonder where the oppression had been so bad they'd had to go into stealth mode. Glad it's just myth.

Makes one wonder what the song is supposed to really mean, or if it was just alliterative devices and that's it.

This is one Christmas Carol that has always baffled me.

What in the world do leaping lords, French hens, swimming swans, and especially the partridge who won't come out of the pear tree have to do with Christmas?

Today I found out, thanks to the Internet.

From 1558 until 1829, Roman Catholics in England were not permitted to practice their faith openly. Someone during that era wrote this carol as a catechism song for young Catholics. It has two levels of meaning: the surface meaning plus a hidden meaning known only to members of their church.

Each element in the carol has a code word for a religious reality which the children could remember.

* The partridge in a pear tree was Jesus Christ.

* Two turtle doves were the Old and New Testaments.

* Three French hens stood for faith, hope, and love.

* The four calling birds were the four gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John.

* The five golden rings recalled the Torah or Law, the first five books of the Old Testament.

* The six geese a-laying stood for the six days of creation.

* Seven swans a-swimming represented the sevenfold gifts of the Holy Spirit: Prophesy, Serving, Teaching, Exhortation, Contribution, Leadership, and Mercy.

* The eight maids a-milking were the eight beatitudes.

* Nine ladies dancing were the nine fruits of the Holy Spirit: Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Goodness, Faithfulness, Gentleness, and Self Control.

* The 10 lords a-leaping were the 10 commandments.

* The 11 pipers piping stood for the 11 faithful disciples.

* The 12 drummers drumming symbolized the 12 points of belief in the Apostles' Creed.

So, there is your history for today. This knowledge was shared with me and I found it interesting and enlightening and now I know how that strange song became a Christmas Carol... so pass it on if you wish.

Monday, December 19, 2005

Ennui or Apathy?

I used to make a point of seeing every movie nominated for an Oscar© in order to make the horse race of the show more fun.

It's not the list of nominated films, because that hasn't happened yet, but Ebert's "best of" list usually contains a lot of those nominated, so I consider it kind of a "first look."

This year, I just can't seem to get up the gumption to care. I don't know if this is a function of age (something I wonder about a lot these days) or the fact that what movies tend to be about lately just doesn't get me all that excited.

Allow me to respond to Ebert's list re why I'm awash with inertia on each. (The brief description after each is Ebert's; my response follows. Captain Obvious reminds you that I have not seen any of these.)

1. "Crash": Much of the world's misery is caused by conflicts of race and religion. Paul Haggis' film, written with Robert Moresco, uses interlocking stories to show we are in the same boat, that prejudice flows freely from one ethnic group to another.

I think a lot of us have empathy fatigue on this one. Most of us try and succeed at not being racist, so a navel-gazing exploration of encounters between racists just doesn't strike me as a reason to wade through the crowds with my $10 bucket of popcorn, or even stand in line at the video rental store. Besides, I consider a lot of Hollywood types WAY out of touch with average America, so when they attempt projects like these, they usually have nothing to do with the planet I'm on.

2. "Syriana": Stephen Gaghan's film doesn't reveal the plot, but surrounds us with it. Interlocking stories again: There is less oil than the world requires, and that will make some rich and others dead, unless we all die first.

I'll probably see this on DVD, but only after the library gets it (and they will because it's a serious film, donchaknow) and when I have time to watch it by myself. Normally I wouldn't have trouble getting my lovely wife to watch George Clooney in anything, but she's already goes "pffffft" when she sees market hoo-ha on this one. Everything I've read says this centers on the corruption and blood involved in the oil market; which strikes me the same way a movie centered around the fact that plutonium is radioactive would.

3. "Munich": Stephen Spielberg's film may be the bravest of the year, and it plays like a flowing together of the currents in "Crash" and "Syriana," showing an ethnic and religious conflict that floats atop a fundamental struggle over land and oil.

Oooo, another serious issue movie with culture clashes and doom everywhere. Gosh, sigh me up. Not. And even though they usually contain something worth seeing (the taking of Normandy Beach, chained slaves being dumped from slave ships, the causal killing of concentration camp victims), Spielberg's serious flicks are like everyone else's serious flicks: Tedious from being too serious and ultimately a consummate bummer.

4. "Junebug": At last, a movie about ordinary people. Or put it this way: Phil Morrison's "Junebug" was the best non-geopolitical film of the year. In simply human terms, there was no other film like it. It understands, profoundly and with love and sadness, the world of small towns; it captures ways of talking and living I remember from my childhood, and has the complexity and precision of great fiction.

Ebert's always been kind of a sucker for these quiet-observation-of-small-events-in-people's-lives movies. I'm more of a fan of actual quiet observation, and movies of it tend to bore me past apathy and right into annoyance.

5. "Brokeback Mountain": Two cowboys in Wyoming discover to their surprise that they love each other. [My correction: "that they like to fuck each other." There is a difference between sex and love, mon amour.] They have no way to deal with that fact.

China called recently and complained about a pounding noise, so I have desisted.

6. "Me and You and Everyone We Know": The previous films have waded fearlessly into troubled waters. Miranda July's walks on them. It's a comedy about falling in love with someone who speaks your rare emotional language of playfulness and daring, of playful mind games and bold challenges. July writes, directs, and stars.

This is the only film in this group I'm pumped to see because everyone who's seen it talks about what a wonderful oddball experience it is. I loved Amelie and Primer, which also got the same sort of reaction, so I'm enthused.

7. "Nine Lives": Rodrigo Garcia's film involves nine stories told in a total of nine shots. The best story involves Robin Wright Penn and Jason Isaacs as two former lovers, now married to others (she pregnant), who meet by chance in a supermarket and during a casual conversation, realize that although their lives are content, they made the mistakes of their lifetimes by not marrying each other.

Lovely. Next!
(Or, if you've seen the original Bedazzled: "Bpbpbpbt!")
(And am I the only one tired of seeing the luminous Robin Wright Penn play haunted, done-wrong romance victims over and over again? Is she trying to get a point across to Sean, perhaps?)

8. "King Kong": A stupendous cliffhanger, a glorious adventure, a shameless celebration of every single resource of the blockbuster, told in a film of visual beauty and surprising emotional impact.

Until the reviews came out screaming WOW!, I had all intention of catching this on DVD. I'm still not all that thrilled, having seen the original and its first remake several times. (I worked a theatre that was contractually obligated to show the remake for over a month in a small town, long after people completely stopped coming to see it. So I sat in an empty theater over and over again watching Jessica Lang's dress being pushed down by a big robot gorilla hand while Jeff Bridge's beard made a stab for "best supporting actor.") But MPC1 wants to see it, and I'm not opposed, so I've applied for financing for popcorn and a coke.

9. "Yes": An elegant Irish-American woman, living with a rich and distant British politician, makes eye contact with a waiter. He was a surgeon in Lebanon. Sally Potter tells their story in iambic pentameter, the rhythm of Shakespeare.

I suspect this is like many entrants on the list: It exists primarily because the romance or plot engine has to do with interactions between European-descent straight people and (pick one) a "minority" (how I dislike that word)/gay/foreign/anything-but-a-European-descent-straight person. Please just stop already. Gad, half to a third of the people on my block fit this "odd couple" definition. Same for where I work. Same for my city. And I live in the west/Midwest and not a larger melting pot like the coasts or huge city centers, where it's even more common. These days, I more surprised by myself when I register someone's race or ethnicity at all. (Though a thick Irish or Scottish accent still tickles me. They're sexy as hell.) Will Hollywood ever get the memo that the rest of us have pretty much moved on here?

And even if that's not the case, to quote "Hades" in Disney's Hercules: "Oy. Verse. Oy."

10. "Millions": The best family film of the year is by the unlikely team of director Danny Boyle and writer Frank Cottrell Boyce. Nine-year-old Anthony Cunningham and his 7-year-old brother, Damian (Lewis McGibbon and Alex Etel) find a bag containing loot that bounced off a train and is currently stuffed under their bed. With limitless imagination and joy, the film follows the brothers as they deal with their windfall.

This will be another library procurement when I suspect the MPC1 and I can sit down and watch this together. But, 'til then...

So, they're just not doing it for me. How about you?

In other news, Ebert had this great bon-mot in his review of a movie I do want to see very much: Ellie Parker.

"We understand why Hollywood is such a hotbed of self-improvement beliefs, disciplines, formulas and cults. I walked into the Bodhi Tree psychic bookstore one day, and saw a big star rummaging through the shelves. What was she looking for? Didn't she know those books were written to help people get to the point she was already at? Maybe the star was trying to reverse the process. Maybe self-help bookstores should have a section named "Uninstall."

LOL! {snort!}

I'm stealing that one for my next party.

Friday, December 16, 2005

It's just my month to be a contrarian I guess.

So the death penalty is on the minds of many bloggers at the moment. Dave Trowbridge (aka Redwood Dragon) has an articulate and heartfelt argument against it, and the comments in Patrick's post on Making Light are the intelligent pro and con you'll usually find there.

I myself support the death penalty as an option for punishment of violent crime, and violent crime only.

Potheads, crackheads, Enron-like evil CEO bastards, and theft where no one was threatened do not merit the taking of a life.

Some warriors of the drug war have tried to drag the death penalty into drug dealing cases, which to me is unconscionable, and there will be a special circle of hell for anyone who succeeds at this endeavor. If we kill people for selling a bag of pot, or even crack, then we are truly lost.

My reason for supporting the death penalty is this: Some crimes are so heinous as to prove beyond a shadow of a doubt the irrevocable damage the perpetrator must have to their mind or soul, therefore it is only for society's best good that they are dispatched into the void. I no longer care about their fate as they have effectively rendered themselves toxic to the human race, so my primary concern is the society's safety.

To be crude and inappropriately flip: Buh bye. Thanks for playing.

Mr. Trowbridge has a good point in that if our means of putting these criminals to death is cruel, and that seems to be the case since we won't even use those means to put animals to death, we should correct that situation and make sure our means are as humane as possible. We cannot correct the torture brought upon the criminal knowing they are facing death and when, but the means of death itself should be painless and swift.
My People, Part 2

In what I hope will be a continuing thread.

Eino - a Finnlander from Cook County in northern Minnesota - was an older, single gentleman who was born and raised a Lutheran.

Each Friday night after work, he would fire up his outdoor grill and cook a venison steak.

Now, all of Eino's neighbors were Catholic and since it was Lent, they were forbidden from eating meat on Fridays. The delicious aroma from the grilled venison steaks was causing such a problem for the Catholic faithful that they finally talked to their priest.

The priest came to visit Eino, and suggested that Eino convert to Catholicism. After several classes and much study, Eino attended Mass and as the priest sprinkled holy water over Eino, he said, "You were born a Lutheran and raised a Lutheran, but now you are Catholic." Eino's neighbors were greatly relieved, until Friday night arrived, and the wonderful aroma of grilled venison filled the neighborhood.

The priest was called immediately by the neighbors, and as he rushed into Eino's yard clutching a rosary and prepared to scold Eino, he stopped in amazement and watched...

There stood Eino, clutching a small bottle of water which he carefully sprinkled over the grilling meat, and chanted: "You were born a deer, and raised a deer, but now you are a walleye."

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Wanted: New Worry Stone

Caution: Mild spoilers ahead, though no endings are given away.

Once more into the breach!

Since there's a darn good chance I will never voluntarily see the film of Brokeback Mountain, which just got was awarded best film by Los Angeles Film Critics Association and the New York Film Critics Circle in what looks like another The Hours kinda critical clusterfandango, I took the opportunity to read the original short story by Annie Proulx when Kottke.org provided a link to it (which is now broken, so I reposted it on my vanity site). I'm willing to commit half an hour to something I'm probably going to dislike (fairly or not) in the comfort of my living room, as opposed to two squirming hours in a darkened theatre.

Well, it left me ambivalent.

I thought the language/style was replete with somewhat forced, reheated Hemingway/Ring Lardner/Larry McMurtry cowpoke cliches, though ultimately it almost achieves the cowboy story tone it's aiming for. Still, the inflections and the clipped sentences are troweled on a little thick. I've met these guys - Wyoming and generally Midwestern cowboys - and their brogue just ain't that thick, and neither are they. It really smacked of someone who was raised and educated on the East Coast and relocated to Wyoming, which accurately describes Ms. Proulx (pronounced "Proo").

The sheer obtuseness of the characters is a common trope of people outside the Midwest trying to depict Midwesterners. She says years of observation informed the story, and I don't doubt that, but ask any astronomer about accurate observation and they'll tell you that it's crucial that first and foremost you're looking at the right part of the sky. These kind of guys aren't the type to gas on about their feelings, even after a few whiskies, but that shouldn't be confused with stupidity or a lack of self-awareness. Closer to the truth is this observation by Kathleen Norris in Dakota: A Spiritual Geography: "On the plains ... we also treasure our world-champion slow talkers, people who speak as if God has given them only so many words to use in a lifetime, and having said them they will die."

The story itself attempts to be what the press packages for the movie claim it is: Just a sweeping romance. And, y'know, it gets close after the initial shock, I'll admit. You do get a sense of the yearning and loss these two guys feel, so on that level, the story succeeds.

The problem I have with the story, besides the implied IQ of the characters, is that the two seem surprised by their sexuality. I don't know a single gay person who wasn't aware they were gay from at least the onset of puberty on. To be SURPRISED! by that fact strikes me as specious. They aren't aware of this until, as it's phrased in the story, "Jack seized [Ennis'] left hand and brought it to his erect cock."

This abrupt left-hand turn with no signal from the boredom of sheep herding into a "Penthouse" letter is jarring in a way I'm not sure the author intended. In this way she misses the lessons of McMurtry (who wrote the screenplay for the movie, btw), Irving, and the like who can segue straight into a carnal scene and not make you feel as though a homeless person suddenly opened his trenchcoat to expose his nakedness in your general direction during a casual walk through the park.

The final aftertaste was that it felt contrived. And I couldn't put my finger on it until I read this quote in the interview on the story on Proulx's site:
Where did the story come from?
I write almost exclusively about rural North America and rural social situations. Brokeback began as an examination of country homophobia in the land of the Great Pure Noble Cowboy. Years of accumulated observation went into the story.

So, Lileks was right: This is literary spinach. (Not to disparage spinach, a fine and noble vegetable.)

Gosh, every single piece of fiction I've ever read where the author had an agenda, a lesson, a moral, it just falls flat and leaves an aftertaste that's akin to skunked beer.

This is just a sloppy second-guess, but perhaps the misfire is that Proulx teed-off with the sex and not the love. Her agenda was primarily to bitch-slap the reader with homophobia, and only secondarily to tell a love story.

Why didn't they at least display affection before this moment? One of the themes of the story is these guys aren't very articulate, so they wouldn't be shouting sonnets at one another across the valleys. But they could have touched, or sat closely to each other, or leaned in and whispered - you know, basic flirting. A love story typically emphasizes that, but this goes from sheep, to a shot of porn - doggie-style no less (or would that be sheep-style given the context?) - and them caroms into the supposed love. (And here I'm breaking Ebert's rule, or is it Siskel's?, where I'm not critiquing the story as written, but offering how I think it could have been better. My bad. Apologies to Ms. Proulx.)

So the main engine of the story is not really about a deep, abiding love. The deep, abiding love is tacked on somewhat after the fact to get past the fact that the author used a tactic much like the late, great Buddy Hackett's dirtiest joke where he would pretend to offer a little old lady in the audience a joke she could tell at the bridge club, and then say, (and I quote): "These two fags was fucking a dead alligator..." (And the use of the word "fags" was intentionally self-aware critique of using it as a slur and ahead of its time, like most of Hackett's stuff). It killed in the clubs (and usually nearly killed the poor little blue-haired victim), and it works as a joke, but not the beginning of a love story.

So stylistically Brokeback Mountain is close enough that we'll call it horseshoes and say Proulx pulled off (har har) the writing side of it, but she spliffed in making the characters as dumb as sheep, and then trotted them out for a cheapened morality play, denying them any respect as people because she made them too stupid, and as lovers because they were blindsided by boners before any sense of mutual affection was apparent (to us at least).

On a final note about the story, and please forgive me as I temporarily lapse into an egregious postmodern/deconstructionist analysis of the names Jack Twist and Ennis del Mar, but "Ennis" is awful close to "penis." Babelfish says that "del Mar" is Spanish for "of the sea," like a sailor. Is this yet another "40 men go down but 20 couples come back up" Navy joke? "Penis of the sea." Hmmm. Thanks to instructions found on the lid of every disposable drink container, the words "twist off" are forever linked in word association for anyone who understands English, and you don't really need that Freudian game to replace Jack's last name with "off." Was Proulx playing word games with their names, again sorta at their expense? <loony toons voice>Mmmmmmm could be<loony toons voice>.

While doing research for this post, I came across Roger Ebert's recent interview with Ang Lee. This quote of Mr. Lee's took me aback:
"This story is Larry McMurtry's Lonesome Dove in everything but its sexuality. I discussed this with McMurtry, who wrote the screenplay. Lonesome Dove was ripe for a homosexual love story. It took a foreigner like me or a woman like Annie to tip that over and spill it out and get rid of the metaphor and just see it. It's just there."

Uh ... no it's not. <Quavering Dan Quail Voice>I know Lonesome Dove, and sir, you are no Lonesome Dove</Quavering Dan Quail Voice>

One of the issues that seems to be confusing to some gays is that straight men (and women) can have deep love for each other without it ever being remotely sexual. I've seen a LOT of the gay friends have trouble grasping that, and it makes sense. As Billy Crystal's character maintains in When Harry Met Sally, men and women can't be friends without the issue of sex coming up eventually, which I agree is more or less true. In my entire life, I've had ONE female friend where I had no passing interest in her sexually, and she was a hottie, too. I suspect it's the same for some gays, and perhaps they can't fathom that heterosexuals can love someone of their own gender deeply and not have any eros attached to it. I think Lee is making that same mistaken assumption.

Finally, before accusing me of yet another anti-gay rant, I wrote up my views on the topic, which you can read here, if you're interested. I'll invoke the typical Lileks warning in that if such things are going to upset you, bore you, or otherwise cramp your happy, I suggest that you skip it altogether.

Apparently the movie does a better job at portraying the relationship as a universal love story. Which, you might be surprised to learn after reading my posts on the topic, I think is great. That was my primary criticism of the short story. If I were to hazard a guess, I'd bet McMurtry's involvement helped a lot.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Narnia vs. Cowpokes

Y'know, I had wondered when I wrote this original post if I should mention the concurrence of the release of the "alternate lifestyle" movies and "The Chronicles of Narnia" and if someone out there had a plan. An "Us" and "Them" kinda plan. But, then I thought that just might be a little too far into tinfoil hat land (which have been proven not to work, by the way), and let it go. But since Salon.com and James Lileks also made similar connections, maybe I wasn't noticing something that wasn't there.

Heck, Salon made sure they weren't perceived as being subtle:

Since Lileks more or less mirrors what I think, I'll liberally quote him from his Bleat on the topic. But then I have a couple more thoughts after his:

Well, in retrospect my big essay turned out to be 94% typing and 6% thinking, so nevermind. It had to do with the fact that EW put “Brokeback Mountain” on the cover this week instead of that Nornio or Neeneria movie or whatever it’s called. For all I know next week's issue will eschew all things Kong for a big happy Narnia-o-rama, and my whole point will be moot, so there's no need to make a fool of myself. Again. The second feature in EW was a movie about a transsexual who discovers the existence of a son; for all I know it’s a fine movie too - but I do not think these are two subjects that necessarily grip the public mind. BUT THEY SHOULD! And that’s the sense that I got from the EW issue – not that you MUST see “Brokeback” to prove you’re not homophobic, but that you should, because it’s helpful. In some vague sense. Seeing Narnia is not necessarily unhelpful, but it gives off those Bible-y Christy vibes somehow, and while that’s fine, we must encourage movies about cowboys in love, because somewhere in some small town a gay youth looks at the box office grosses, and decides to stay in the closet out of fear he will be eaten by a computer generated lion who manifests the stigmata. Or something like that. As if the two movies are somehow in a meta-competition for the Soul of America; as if disinterest in a gay cowboy love story means that 99.98 percent of America HATE GAYS.

But disinterest does not mean intolerance.

I have no problem with EW putting it on the cover; I have no problem with the movie whatsoever. I do wonder why the editors chose that movie instead of Narnia, though, and I suspect that it was a matter of which provided the proper dose of societal spinach. Narnia appeals to them; Narnia isn’t helpful.

There. You’ve been spared two thousand words.

This all kinda strikes me the same way the bullshite debate about science vs. religion does. The only folks who have a horse in that race are the creationist fundies. The rest of us accept the theory of evolution (mostly), and go grab a cold one. Some scientists drink the koolaid and think there's a point to debating with Creationists/Intelligent Design guys, when in fact all they have to do is point out that Creationist/Intelligent Design theories aren't even science.

Well, again, religion is not the antithesis to homosexuality. Sure, some fundies think it's wrong, and that's their prerogative. Even I will allow that the Bible, in both the Old and New Testaments say the same gender shouldn't have sex. But, then, it can be legitimately interpreted that it means heterosexuals shouldn't engage in same gender sex for the sheer perverted fun of it. And, a broader point is that we are all sinners who need forgiveness and love, so that kind of trumps the sin that may or may not be the act of gay sex (to really, really oversimplify it).

Therefore, religion - traditional Christianity in particular - is not the enemy of gays and lesbians by any stretch, or vice versa.

So seeing these two movies and their subtext juxtaposed in nearly all the media recently just makes me wonder who thinks it proves some sort of point or makes any statement other than some folks must think them there windmills are really giants who need a good poke or two.

Ok, it's not just me (and Lileks) who thinks this alignment of entertainment planets seems to be running a little retrograde into the pink. From Salon's "The Fix" article of Dec. 14, 2005 (emphasis added):

Award season continues: The Golden Globes list was announced yesterday and, not surprisingly, "Brokeback Mountain" picked up a bevy of nominations, including ones for best drama, best director (Ang Lee), best actor and best supporting actress in a drama (Heath Ledger, Michelle Williams) and best screenplay. Two themes everyone seems to note: All five of the best-drama nominations went to indies -- "Brokeback," "The Constant Gardener," "Good Night, and Good Luck," "A History of Violence" and Woody Allen's forthcoming "Match Point." And several of the films nominated feature gay or transgendered characters. Felicity Huffman gets a nod for "Transamerica," as does Philip Seymour Hoffman for "Capote" and Cillian Murphy for "Breakfast on Pluto." Even Pierce Brosnan picked up a nomination for his portrayal of a bisexual hit man in "Matador." Let the culture wars, er, continue. (Associated Press, Variety)

Tuesday, December 06, 2005


Saw Gus Van Sant's Elephant, which I conclude was a brilliant mistake. Not to say I wasn't warned by the reviews, but this is really half a movie.

The subject is essentially the Columbine high school shooting here in Colorado, though no place is specifically mentioned in the movie.

This movie is all about the vibe. It's 80 minutes long, and for most of it, we follow the students around, experiencing the tedium and banality of their day. By the time the shooting starts, it does have the (probably) intended effect of conveying the complexity of dismay and terror felt.

But then it spliffs it by essentially ending in mid-note. Had this had some semblance of an ending - and it could have been as non-conclusive as the actual current "ending" is - this would have been a minor event of a film.

If you want to see a movie that achieves the atmosphere it's going for, and you're an aficionado of experimental (but ultimately a failed experiment), I recommend it halfheartedly. If you wanna see a good movie, see something else.

Read Ubik by the acclaimed sci-fi author Philip K. Dick, who wrote the stories that gave us the movies Bladerunner, Total Recall, Minority Report, Paycheck, and the upcoming A Scanner Darkly.

He's never been known as a great stylist, and this book supports that assertion. Man, his stuff is hard to plow through. I only acquiesced because it was on Time's list of 100 best novels, like, ever. I admit, he's a hell of an idea man, but he writes like crep.

I didn't enjoy the novel primarily because the jacket copy completely gives away what's going on (and secondarily due to the bad writing). When the big plot twist occurred, I thought, oh, they all must have [blah de blah], because it says so on the cover.

It would have been an interesting twist had it not been spoiled.

Still, wait for the movie if they ever make one.

The best thing I've seen lately was Madagascar. Very amusing. The plot telegraphs coming complications from a mile away, but the execution saves it.

And it gets the award for the best ever use of the line, "Well this sucks."

Check it out.

Monday, December 05, 2005

Oh That Woman

We were listening to a radio station that was playing Christmas music this weekend whilst decorating the tree and discovered that both my daughter and myself really really dislike "The Little Drummer Boy." I like the tune, but hate the lyrics (playing drums for an infant? C'mon), my daughter just dislikes it, period.

I told you that to tell you this:
Then they played something from one of the animated Christmas specials they play every year, and my wife noted how they don't play animated "The Little Drummer Boy" anymore. I surmised that it was probably too overtly religious for today's tastes.

To which my wife retorted, "So it's probably going to be replaced with 'A Transgender Christmas'."

Here's why that's funny, he explained to the room full of crickets...

We had on the TV during dinner prior to the exchange above, and before we got around to turning off "Entertainment Tonight", it dogpiled onto the media push this weekend for the two big movie releases besides "Narnia" (they were literally in every magazine and on every entertainment/news show we watch):
1) Brokeback Mountain, about two cowboys hired to tend sheep who haul off and fuck one night, but nay, 'tis forbidden love, so apparently the rest of the movie is two cowboys with thick redneck accents talking incessantly about the porkfest and wouldn't it be nice if cowboys could sometimes be pirates. Unrequited lust, etc.
2) Transamerica in which one of the actresses from the TV show "Desperate Housewives" plays a man who's transgendered and wants a "gender reassignment," but hilarity ensues when his/her long lost son shows up. Life's complicated when you don't know if you're a boy or a girl, etc.

Around my household, we're experiencing a little fatigue regarding movies, shows, etc. on "alternative lifestyles." We've grundingly had to explain what "gay" and "lesbian" were to our nine-year-old (back when she was eight), since there's really not a TV station that doesn't have it on commercials, teasers, in reports, previews, and what have you. We feel that sexual orientation belongs strictly in the adult realm, and little kids shouldn't have to be aware of it unless their parents decide they do. Well, unless we were to completely go into media blackout, which we don't feel is a good thing - all the kids we knew growing up who had that happen were a mess - the media has removed that decision from us. Forcibly. So, we cope.

I have no quarrel with movies, etc., about being gay/lesbian. In fact, my ambivalence about it, as long as it stays in the adult world, is nearly complete. I just hope those who produce entertainments don't misjudge the potential audience for the same. As I recently opined on a 2Blowhards thread, I usta love theatrical plays, but just before and during the onset of AIDs, Broadway and the New York scene kinda went "all gay, all the time" (as another person put it on that thread), and I lost interest. So, I hope movies and TV don't go that direction.

A small part of it is that I've yet to see/read an entertainment where the main engine of the plot was that someone/everyone was gay that I found at all intriguing. The same goes for opera, the rap/hip-hop world, costume dramas, or the new action genre where a bunch of tough assholes get together and be tough assholes during an adventure (see the last two "Alien" travesties). Yawn, baby, yawn.

TLD: One element of gay/lesbian dramas I think the people who make them assume is: The rest of us view them as subversive or controversial, so putting them all up in our face is only for our own good, so that our minds will be expanded, etc. Well, sorry dudes, but those days have past for the most part. We've all seen the dance card, and most of us are happy with you being happy. Rock on with your bad selves, already. Frankly, Brokeback Mountain would have been more subversive in these days of PETA if they'd hauled off and fucked a sheep. Really.

Here's one of the true things about fiction: For a reader/consumer/viewer/audience member to be invested in the fiction, they have to be able to see themselves as one of the characters or be empathetic with one of them (this can include merely hating a bad character). Since I dig the ladies, stories of great loves between those who love their own gender (Gods and Monsters comes to mind, where Gandalf wants Brandon Fraiser to wear tight things and bend over a lot) just bore me.

In other words, I don't really want to see "A Transgendered Christmas" any time soon, thanks, even if it is a good punchline. Nor do I want to see "Christmas with the Rock" (the former pro wrestler turned action nubbin), or "A Christmas Carol Opera", or "Snoop Dog's Pimpin' at the North Pole", or "A Downhome Christmas Buggering Sheep". Hey, you can make'em. Just don't expect me to tune in, K? More for you.