Mar 29, 2012

Even though I have a last name that hails from the land north of England, and the fact my family tried to instill respect into their heritage, there are two things in the world I hate more than anything, kilts and bagpipes. Well maybe I hate genocide, child molesters, and the Dali Lama more, but still I'm an affront to my heritage. See most fads I buy, or at least I can see the appeal. Kilts I can't abide by as they don't look good, nor are practical, and are just plain annoying. Still they're not as bad as bagpipes. I'd rather listen to kittens howl in pain than hear the unholy sounds of that miserable instrument. I swear Cuthulu will rise and the earth will perish to the march of Scotsmen playing, or what they call it, those things.

Well one high school shares my hatred for kilts as they barred a student from wearing a kilt to prom, which is all fucking ridiculous. And no it's not 2002, people still wear them, often. Look, I hate those excuses for men's wear, but I think people should have the freedom to wear them at a high school formal event. Hell I hate most fashions kids are involved in, but again the child should have the freedom to laugh at himself twenty years from now. Everyone should have the right to dress ridiculous when half drunk on bad alcohol and when performing weird rituals before having awkward sex.

"Is there anything worn under the kilt? No, it's all in perfect working order." - Spike Milligan

Mar 27, 2012

Bad Movies I Love Part 32

Most movie goers of my generation have never seen nor heard of "Song of the South". Yes the Disney film that the company doesn't want you to see, but for whatever reason will never let you forget, is one that most everyone under sixty has never laid eyes on. The last time I saw it was in the early eighties when it made it's last run in the theatres. I recall liking it, but up until this weekend I could tell you little of what I saw.

Thanks to the magic of Youtube and it's less than moral users, my folks and I decided to watch the classic film every one's forgotten about. What we found was both surprising in ways I never imagined. I was expecting a racist film on par with "The Birth of a Nation" or the infamous Warner Bros Censcored 11, but instead was treated to something that may be better classified as naive rather than outright hateful. I expected a misunderstood classic that was unfairly treated, but I found a movie designed for little children that can drag. I expected at the very least a charming tale that fit the strong narratives that Disney was known for, but I saw a film that was uneven, poorly paced, and had some characters, even the main ones, that are less than exciting.

The movie is a simple one that has too many stories for it's own good. It starts with live action and takes place in Reconstruction era Georgia, where a young boy named Johnny is being taken to a rural plantation to live with his grandmother and mother while his father, for reasons unknown, decides to leave them to do something, like work or check on his other family that no one knows about. Regardless he leaves and young Johnny decides to run away to catch up with him. On his way he meets Uncle Remus, who says he will run away with him, but sits him down and tells him the story of Brer Rabbit.

This is where the movie finally takes off. Uncle Remus then breaks into Zip-a-dee-doo-dah and is suddenly set in an animated world. Yes, this is where the song you've no doubt heard a lot when you were young is from. The story of Brer Rabbit then takes place, he leaves his home as he thinks it sucks, for whatever reason, then encounters the jive talking Brer Fox and Brer Bear, who want to eat the animated protagonist. Lessons are learned and little Johnny goes back to live with his mother.

Live action takes place again, and Johnny learns a couple of other life lessons, and his mother is wary of the relationship with him and the paternal Uncle Remus, for reasons unexplained. As this is a Disney film, a near tragedy occurs, but all is right with the world soon after and everything is satisfactual.

The film was probably made for very young children, and for that it'll work, but it doesn't resonate with the older viewers. The live action sequences are incredibly dull, and little Johnny has very little personality. The three stories within the film gives it an uneven feel. It may have worked better if Uncle Remus started the film with some exposition, and the rest of the movie used the animated Brers to tell one long narrative.

So why do I love this film? Well when it's not sucking, it's incredibly charming. The blend of live action and animation is very impressive, and the performances are very good, most notably by James Baskett as the magical negro, err, I mean Uncle Remus. The music is entertaining and has obviously stood the test of time, where the film hasn't. It also has nostalgia, which is subjective I know, but after watching the movie the question that begs to be asked is why is this so hard to find?

Disney could've released this with a disclaimer about how our cultural history has embarrassing points, as Warner Brothers has in the past. Children could've learned something from our civil rights history, and how far we have come with our portrayal of African-Americans, but Disney, under pressure from the NAACP and others, decided to sweep this under the rug, but yet oddly, built a theme park ride dedicated to the film's characters, release the song Zip-a-dee-doo-dah at every chance they can, and gives references to it in books, stuffed animals, and various other merchandise. Still this is no more offensive than the already mentioned "The Birth of a Nation", "Gone with the Wind", "The Jazz Singer", or even "The Little Rascals". Granted it's not the technical marvel that is "The Birth of a Nation", nor is it the sweeping epic of "Gone with the Wind", but it does have it's place in film history as being the first to seamlessly blend live action with animation. For that alone people should have the choice to see it.

"The central drama is only intermittently successful, and not only because any rational modern viewer will be seriously put off by the jolly racial ignorance of it all... but its heart is in the right place." - Tim Brayton

Mar 21, 2012

White chocolate

I was in the grocery store doing some last minute shopping as the folks are coming into town tonight. I came across the candy aisle and found a delicious treat, white chocolate Reeses Peanut Butter Eggs. I'm not a big fan of chocolate, but folks who know me understand that I will kill you with a ball point pen for white chocolate. So I took a pic, sent it to my wife, and posted the pic on Facebook. The resulting comments ensued, to the delight of many:

Her: Mmmm reese mmmm. Btw what does "white" mean... White chocolate?
Him: its actually white peanut butter. made from albino peanut plants.. very rare.. thats why these are only out once a year. :)
Her: Oh, we don't get this product in Canada. We just have brownish PB lol.
Him: Another reason why you don't hear about the "White peanut allergy" SUPER RARE! It only affects 2% of actual Albino's.
Her 2: Wow... "Albino peanut plants". I've heard it all now... ha ha
Her: I've been played ahahahaha.
Her: Now that, that's out of the way.. Is it white chocolate reese eggs?
Her 2: Yes.
Him: akshully its just the white part of the egg is used, no yolk's in these baby's.
Me: My god this is so going on my blog!
Her: Wow, don't I feel like a douche.

"Could people be trained to be less gullible? Or are you as stuck with gullibility as you are with skin colour?" - Keith Henson

Mar 14, 2012

Overrated films part 32

You ever go see a film that everyone loves and recommends, only to walk out scratching your head wondering why it was so popular? I do that often, hence this overrated films list, but it's happened to everyone. This may destroy any amount of geek cred I may have ever had, but I'll say it anyways, I'm not of fan of Ghostbusters, and I never really was.

I saw the movie well after everyone else did. It was the talk of the nation as it was a massive hit, and spawned the overplayed theme song that was Ray Parker Jr's one hit. Finally my father relented after I begged him to take me, and we saw Ghostbusters. It was impressive looking film, and to a child of my age, hilarious, but upon repeated viewings it stopped being funny quickly.

I saw the movie a few years ago at the Cinerama, and I will say it still has a few funny moments, but all are owned by Bill Murray, and the rest of the cast might have well not existed. The special effects are still amazing even in a post CGI world, but the movie fails at what it sets out to do, make me laugh anymore. Sure some comedies don't age well as jokes become more sophisticated, but there are those that stand the test of time. For some reason Ghostbusters has stood in the hallowed halls of great cinema, and I'm hard pressed to figure out why, especially considering how awful it's sequel is.

"There is more attention to special effects than to humor." - Janet Maslin

Mar 6, 2012

Why now?

Rush Limbaugh is a character I've chosen to ignore for many years for one reason alone, he's Rush Limbaugh. Well actually it was back in 1992, or somewhere around there, when he had a late night television show. He, for whatever reason, announced he had a pic of the future White House dog, President-elect Clinton still hadn't had one, and held up a pic of Bill's thirteen year old daughter Chelsea.

Low as that is, Rush repeatedly denied any wrongdoing and claimed it was a staff/technical error, on a pre-taped show recorded hours before it aired. What the original joke was is a mystery, as I don't see where he was going with it otherwise, and neither did anyone else. Still I don't see how the crew couldn't have just re shot the segment, but I don't work in television. Now there's controversy that this even happened, or it didn't happen as the way it's been described, but that's all horse shit. I saw the show, and his ensuing lame apology which was clear he wasn't sorry. If he really cared about the girl's feelings he could've redone the take, or eliminated it all together.

So I decided to pay him little mind, but every now and then he says things that gets him national attention, and his defenders go from their usual stance that "Rush is champion of American values" to "he's just an entertainer" whenever it's popular to hate on him. He's back in the spotlight for calling Sandra fluke a slut and deemed it appropriate to ask her to post sex videos of herself online should her insurance company cover her birth control. Yes, that's outrageous, but this is coming from a guy who claimed a man stricken with Parkinson's was faking his symptoms for political gain, called another President's daughter unattractive, called out the media for supposedly coddling black quarterbacks, told a black caller to pull a bone out of his nose, and we all should recall the Barack the Magic Negro bit.

But now that Sandra Fluke has been insulted, the nation finally decides to take action, or at least post about it a lot on Facebook. Advertisers are bailing, as they normally do when he says something stupid, which is a lot, but they come back after a while, because he garners huge ratings from easily amused folks. With all of this controversy going on, Missouri House Speaker, having solved all of the state's financial issues, has commissioned a statue erected of him in the hall of famous Missourians.

And yet, people say Rush adds a lot to the public discourse, but none of them can say exactly how. He offers nothing productive to any issue, ever. In fact, his constant bombardment of misinformation on the airwaves is damaging it. That's what his viewers love about him, he'll lie to them all the time to make them think they're right, and they'll spew his nosense in stupid email forwards and inappropriate political discussions at the dinner table. Nothing will change because of this advertising fall out. Rush will be back, and we all have to keep rolling our eyes at all this.

"You know, she may be the most unattractive presidential daughter in the history of the country," - Rush Limbaugh

Mar 2, 2012

Monkee boy

When news struck of Davy Jones' passing, I have to admit I didn't feel much at all as I wasn't a fan of the Monkees, never saw their show, nor did I know anything really relevant about them. My first thought was actually, "I wonder how Monkee boy is handling this?"

Years ago I worked in a camera store in Factoria, Washington. On my first day I was cleaning up the photo lab (yeah it was that long ago) and I heard some faint yelling. A co-worker told me to come to the window and check out some guy on the street. The store was located on a hill above the road, and I first feasted eyes upon the man we knew as Monkee boy (pictured, credit to Weird

Monkee boy was a different sort of man, as he was dancing and yelling while sporting what appeared to be a CD walkman. With wild hair and a huge backpack, the man danced about the street while showing he had a black belt in the ancient art of not giving a shit. I asked my co-worker what the guy's story is, and she said according to legend this man would appear often in the area singing to the Monkees and showing off his moves for no apparent reason.

I admired his energy, as he would do this for hours on end, dancing up and down the street and belting out the lyrics to this silly band. This went on for months, until one fateful day I stepped out of the back room of the store to see him engaged in conversation with a co-worker. My eyes lit up, here I was in the same vicinity with what was known as the village weirdo. He then turned his attention towards me.

Ye gods the dancing maniac was going to engage in conversation with me.

He asked if I knew him. I said I didn't know him personally, but I saw him on a daily basis. He remarked that it was awesome I was aware of his existence. I asked him what he listened to while dancing, and he confirmed it was the Monkees and the Beattles, even going so far as to pull a toy Monkee car from his backpack and displaying it for me.

His name is Kenny and he talked about his search for employment, which wasn't going well. He asked for an application, which I gave him. He started filling it out, but seemed to be struggling as he didn't understand some of the questions. A customer came in and dropped off some film and he turned to her and asked if she knew him. She responded in the positive, which gave him excitment that he was so popular, dubious reasons be damned.

I asked if he was aware what people think of him as he danced about at all hours of the day and night. He said he didn't care, but I didn't buy it. He really loved the attention he was receiving, which struck me as odd. He had to know people thought of him as a freak, but he didn't seem to mind, as long as he stuck in their memory.

Kenny was your anything but average attention whore. While meeting him then, and the frequent visits he made later, solved some of the mysteries surrounding his antics, I still wondered why someone like him would do such a thing. What compells someone to wake up and say, "You know how I want to spend my day? Dancing around in the street to classic boy bands."

As he got more familiar with the staff the conversations got a bit weirder and more perverse as he would talk about things ranging from politics to soliciting the services of Vegas hookers (an activity he engaged in. No I've never done that, nor ever will.) The female staff members were a bit taken aback by him as he seemed to get a bit flirty, so I walked down to the gas station across the street to talk with the employee who I've seen talk to Kenny at great lengths. I asked the obvious questions, if he was harmless or not, to which the guy, in a thick Indian accent, told me Kenny was a very nice person, just had a really rough childhood and this is his vice to escape his homelife.

I pitied Kenny from then on. He was a sad character who just wanted to be loved and paid attention to, but in all my conversations with him, he seemed so happy in what he was doing, and he did it with energy few even have. I envied him in a way, as at the time I wished there was something I could get that excited about, even if it was silly music.

I left the job after about a year and saw Kenny from time to time. Last I saw him he had gainful employment holding signs for Dominoes Pizza and the like, dancing on the sidewalk and promoting their food. He finally landed something that fits his marketable skills, and I smiled a bit, thinking good ole Monkee boy has found his calling. Godspeed Kenny, godspeed.

"So in short: he’s got the look, the moves, the recognition and steady work doing what he loves best. By any standard, he’s good to go! Rock on, Kenny!" - Weird Washington