Saturday, March 26, 2011

New Column: From the Vault

(The blog is going to be changing over the next few weeks (i.e. when I get around to it)  There's going to be more focus on writing, and I'm going to try and bring back some of the music stuff.  Less ranting, less swooning and more essays . . . but don't worry, as long is there is Train, there will be ranting, and as long as Walton Goggins lives and breathes, there will be swooning.

I think I have that same scarf!

I've never really liked Saturdays.  When I was a kid, this meant that I had to go to my dad's, and although I love my Dad more than anyone on the planet, he lived in the middle of nowhere and I was too young to drive anywhere and even if I could, it wasn't like I had any real friends to drive and see.  When I got older, I had to work Saturday nights, and even now, my boyfriend works Saturday nights, so I'm stuck here alone.  Other people, people with social lives and friends and cable have something to do, but I just hang out, write, listen to records and, occasionally, discover something I'd forgotten.

I have a vague recollection of adding Ryan Adams' "My Winding Wheel" to a country mix CD I was making bacj when I was living in Binghamton and obsessively collecting music.  I don't know why I downloaded it or if I ever listened to it, but a few weeks ago I pulled out the country CD and threw it on to try and work by.

I ended up skipping over most of it.  One of these days, I will develop a taste for country music, but despite being born in Oklahoma, it just never caught on.  I like Meryl Haggard and I do a version of Cracker's "Lonesome Johnny Blues" that'll knock your boots off, but for the most part, I tend to skip that station.

There was something about that Saturday that was particuarly lonely.  For some reason, my heart was a rock in the pit of my stomach.  I was missing a phantom piece of myself, something I had no recollection of ever posessing but knew I was sorely lacking.  And when I heard the strains of "My Winding Wheel," something just clicked.  Something felt right

Adams' raw, quaking voice and Springsteen-esq guitars give the song this beautiful, sad, hopeful dispair.  His suggestion that his girl "buy a pretty dress/wear it out tonight/for any boy you think could outdo me" is a challenge, and not necessarily a cruel one.  She has a choice.  He wants her to go with him, but he offers her a chance to go find someone, anyone, who will love her as much as he does, pretty dress and all.  It's a song for lovers separated by time and distance and the folds of life . . . and it's so simple and pure and pretty, and I listen to it over and over and dream.

The only downside is that I discovered it right as I was finishing up the first season of Justified, and for some reason whenever I hear it, I picture Ava.  And you all know how I feel about Ava.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

I *heart* Oswald

I discovered two things on St. Patrick's Day.  One, no one, no matter how drunk, messes with you if you're wearing sunglasses and carrying a jagged chunk of brick. 

Two, and more importantly, I discovered Oswald the Lucky Rabbit.

Because our downtown was swarmed with obnoxious drunk college students too stupid to do anything but drink and wreck a town they don't live in, we holed up inside with the Wii and picked up Rabbids Go Home and Epic Mickey.  Generally I'm not a Disney fan and even less of a Mickey Mouse fan, but the idea of a Disney wasteland and the return of Walt Disney and Ub Iwerks first character (who happens to be a bunny, my very favorite) was pretty enticing. And hey, what else were we going to do?

The game was fun at first and then quickly turned to irritating and carpel tunnel inducing.  We liked Rabbids better.  But we got far enough to unlock a full-length Oswald cartoon from 1928, Oh What a Knight.

It's Impossible to Google "Team Rocket"
and NOT see pictures of hideous cosplayers
I have a passing fascination with animation as both an art and a storytelling medium.  When we think "cartoon" our minds generally leap to either full-length animation (especially when you say "Disney") or half-hour cartoon show--GI Joe, Pokemon, etc. 

We don't really think of cartoons as being the 5-10 minutes shorts they originally were, shown before the newsreel and in between a double feature.  I've always loved Tex Avery's sexy fairy tale shorts like "Red Hot Riding Hood" and although I tried to like the Fleischer Bros, the Betty Boop stuff was a little on the weird side (and by "weird" I mean "acid-trippy").  And cooler still, the music on the cartoon was lifted right out of the video game--that's not the cool part, actually, that's a really sucky part--but the cool part is that because the short was silent, the music we would have been hearing if it was 1928 was being played on an organ, live, at the front of the theater. 

So there we were, with our Wii and our couch and our chips, watching something that for decades had been locked somewhere in a vault, forgotten by everyone but pop culture historians.  It was a weird, wonderful, sweet little moment, a glimpse at history in the all-too-plush comforts of the present.  As tenchincally beautiful as Rango was, I'll take the rounded shapes, the soft lines and black-and-white scheme of vintage animation over CG or worse, the motion-capture carnival of souls that is the homophobic, misogynistic Mars Needs Moms.

I like Oswald.  I think he'd be a good sidekick for Max if Sam ever goes rouge.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Surprisingly, I Liked Rango

Most of my friends have stopped going to the movies with me, because I either A) Hate the movie and deconstruct why it sucked all the way home or B) Gush about what a babe Ewan McGregor/Jeff Goldblum/Walton Goggins/Whoever was.  I've stopped liking what theaters expect me to like, and of the Oscar nominated films last year, I saw 2 and I guess only liked one of them (fuck you, Inception, you're not fooling me!)  Of last year, I only enjoyed I Love You Phillip Morris, Morning Glory, the Last Exorcism and yes, Predators (I didn't say it was good). 

And this year, I'm only excited about Cowboys and Aliens because it combines three great things--Harrison Ford, Walton Goggins and Clancy Brown.  But mostly the first two.  It's like my 11 year old self and my 28 year old self are giving each other a high five.  And . . . yeah, that was the only movie I was planning to see.

POINT IS that I was certainly not planning to see Rango.  I gave up on Johnny Depp, officially, after Public Enemies.  I'd mostly written him off following Pirates of the Carribbean 2 and gave in, with regret, to Sweeney Todd.  I got tired of his shtick and missed the Johnny Depp I'd loved when all the other girls I knew were in love with Justin Timberlake--Depp's quiet, nuanced, subltle performances in Edward Scissorhands and Ed Wood.  I didn't like his trademarked wackiness, which felt to me like a half-reheated Hot Pocket version of his Hunter S. Thompson gag.

Sad to say, Rango had a lot of that Johnny Depp-ness, including a cameo by Raul Duke himself (with an awesome homage to Ralph Steadman serving as Dr. Gonzo). 

And in spite of this, I really, really liked Rango.

For starters, the film doesn't cater to any demographic.  Movies are made, for the most part, to appeal at least two of these demographics: teenage males, teenage females, older men, older women, and stupid little kids.  This movie appealed to none of that.  Everyone (thing?) in this film is ugly and un-plush-able.  Johnny Depp is not awkwardly hot, he's a freakin' lizard.  There is a lot of grown-up humor in the film, but not enough for packs of adults to get a babysitter and go out on a Saturday night.  Films that don't appeal to any demographic appeal to the Me Demographic.  I don't like being labled and I don't like being pandered to.  Studios don't know me, because if they did, they wouldn't have taken so long to release I Love You Phillip Morris and Walton Goggins would be a leading man. 

This compared to the two previews which opened the film--the revolting-looking 3D CG crap-a-ganza Mars Needs Moms (it was fun with it lasted, Princess and the Frog) and the utterly generic Kung-Fu Panda 2 (I miss the offensive, loud Jack Black that I hated) two films which appear to prove that kids are stupid and their parents are also stupid.

Rango is dark.  It's very dark.  And weird.  There were moments where I felt a little awkward, like watching Rango flirt with a naked headless Barbie torso (three minutes in), or the presence of massive frog prostitute boobs.  There's a lot of western-y type stuff even I didn't catch onto at first and a body count that rivals Hardboiled.  There's talking roadkill.  Creepy walking cactuses.  Massive frog prostitute boobies.  The plot to Chinatown.  It's not not a kid's film in that kids can't handle this (after all, Who Framed Roger Rabbit is dark and weird and wonderful) it's not a kids film because they probably don't get it or care. 

And that's fine, because again, it wasn't trying to appeal to any demographic.  They made the film they wanted to make at a time when everything has to be based on a pre-existing franchise.  Gore Verbinski didn't get locked into how many toys he could sell or how many teen girls would buy Rango-inspired lipgloss sets at Claires.  He made the movie he wanted to make, and it STILL kicked the ass of vanity projects like Take Me Home Tonight .  . . . and that is the ultimate Hollywood Fuck You.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Fire in the Hole

Who is it out there that likes Train's "Hey Soul Sister?"  Damn it, even just writing the title gets it stuck in my head.  I hate this song.  This song is an act of terrorism.  It's a war crime.  I had to listen to Britney Spears' "Piece of Me" on the hour, every hour when I worked at FYE (I swear, she samples a chicken in opening bars) and I would take that in a heartbeat over "H-- S--- S----"
Gizmonics Institute Does Not Endorse Torture . . . or Train

The brain-numbingly awful lyrics make me pine for the days of "Meet Virginia."  No, Train, that probably isn't Mr. Mister on the radio (stereo) because it's 2011 and Mr. Mister hasn't been relevant since 1990. They put out an album last year and they still aren't relevant, and you just sound like an asshole for even mentioning them. 

As for the tune, well, maybe it's part of Train's evil plot to take over the world.  Much like Dr. Forrester and TV's Frank, Train must have some sort of plot to make people go weak and submit to anything, anything, just to not hear that song anymore.  Worse, it's an earworm that makes me wish I had a drill to stuff through my skull.  Once I even think about the title, it's stuck in my head for days.  Not even thinking the word "bunny" to the tune of The Commish theme makes it better.

Welcome Back
This song makes me want to set myself on fire.  It makes me want to kill people. It makes me want to toss a grenade into an orphanage.  It makes me want to fire a rocket launcher into a church.  So will somebody please, please, pass a consitutional amendment to ban this song from the airwaves?  I will vote for whatever Presidental candidate removes this song from the radio.  Obama, Palin, Lobsterman, I don't care.   Just please make it end.  Please make it stop.