Friday, June 22, 2012

Post 2: Electric Boogaloo

Alright, so yesterday I learned about Taken 2.


That's a thing.


For some reason, hearing it existed and watching the trailer filled me with this strange and powerful rage.  All I could think was 'Why?'  Why is that a thing?  Don't get me wrong, Taken was ridiculously fun, and I thoroughly, oh-so-thoroughly  enjoyed watching Liam Neeson kill people in inventive ways for two hours.  That was neat.  But when did it become necessary for any movie that makes $60 million* to automatically have a sequel?

I know.  There's nothing new in complaining about the number of sequels, prequels, remakes and reboots clogging the film industry these days.  But Taken 2 was the straw that broke the camel's back.  I snapped.  I just couldn't take it anymore.  My soul collapsed, and I cried for the lack of creativity and originality in today's pop culture.  I despaired for our generation and for the future, stuck in the mire of endless, brainless media loops.

Luckily, good choices were made last night, and I ended up watching The Big Lebowski.  As I watched the Dude and his pratfalls, the ins and outs and what-have-yous, everything changed.  The world had color.  I remembered that as long as this world has the Coen brothers (and people of their ilk, like Rian Johnson and Christopher Nolan and Dan Harmon and Neil Gaiman and Scott Snyder and..... now I'm getting carried away), we'll be OK.  I watched the Dude with pure delight, marveling at how such a story came into existence.  Feeling victorious because it was made.  Because it was awesome.  Because it abides.

* Ok, I know Taken made more than that.  But Ghost Rider 2? Piranha 3DD?  Wrath of the Titans?  Who asked for these?

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

"The Time Has Come," The Walrus Said

After three months of perfectly coordinated work/school schedules, Taylor and I are operating at different times, which means I finally get some alone time in the apartment.  Oh yeah!

On the flip side, it also means I don't have anyone to work/cook/make myself look decent for.  Which is awesome, but also a throwback to College Cat, who lived for months on tortilla chips. J-Dawgs, and whatever food Ashley would make.  It was a glamorous life.

ANYWAY.  The basic point to that exposition is to say that tonight, I felt no urge to actually 'make' food, but my hunger was driving me to do something.  That, and a tomato that had to be eaten, led to this:

If you think this is gross, TOO BAD.  It was delicious.  And full of tasty subtext.

And all of a sudden, I was transported.  Zapped back to a simpler time, when I read Harriet the Spy ad nauseum, made endless tomato sandwiches despite my aversion to mayonnaise, and carried around a little red notebook festooned with exclamations of "Private!"  and "Keep Out, Under Penalty of Death!"

Do you remember Harriet?  It was amazing.  That book was hands down my favorite as a child.  I spent most of my six-year-old life jumping over fences and lurking around my neighbor's backyards.  I meticulously wrote down everything I saw.  Unlike Harriet, I did not live in an exotic city.  I did not have eccentric hermits or family groceries in my neighborhood.  Instead, the notebook was filled with tidbits like "Mr. Gove moved his tramp to mow the lawn.  Why?  You can mow around it.  Also, he looks old," or "Oops, Mrs. Kirkpatrick caught me.  But she gave me cookies!," or "The Murray's dog is really friendly, so I wonder why they keep such a big fence around it.  Every time I sneak in, he just wants to be pet."  Such ground-breaking observations.

I could go on about how I was one of the first to see the movie, at good old Gateway 8 in Bountiful.  Or about how incredible Harriet is as a character--how's she's snotty, and honest, and funny, and so self-assured and resolute about her life.  She wants to write, and nothing will deter her.  And it's amazing.  Or I could discuss how Ole Golly is basically the perfect sage figure, so full of wisdom and truth, the perfect life guide. Or I could make more deep and emotional ties to my own childhood, admitting that the depression and loneliness Harriet felt as she was tormented by her peers mirrors my own elementary experience, and how the fact that she did not change herself to fit in, that she managed to be strong whilst being ostracized gave me hope in my own future.

Yes I could talk about all those things.  But as I could not do them justice at the present, I'll just say that Harriet the Spy is a wonderful book, one that I think you should definitely read if you haven't.  Yes, it's a kid's book.  But it's smarter, and tougher, and more honest than half the books out there.  And it's vastly more enjoyable.  Just saying.

So that book, plus tomato sandwich, equals bliss. Trust me.  You won't be sorry if you do.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Quote Dumps and Philosophies

A while back, I read Travels With Charley, by John Steinbeck.  I really, truly loved that book.  You know the feeling when you read a book, and you can tell that it's changing you?  Where you read it, and every page tingles because you're connecting with the text in a lasting, meaningful way?  That's what happened.  Reading it was an experience in personal philosophy making.  A tangible, recognizable extension of personal canon.  Within the first ten pages, I knew that I had found a favorite book, one that immediately joined such elite tomes as Dracula, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, and Fugitive Pieces in my All Time Favorite Books Ever List.

When I read it, I was borrowing a friend's copy, and it drove me crazy that I couldn't underline my favorite passages.  Yes, I am one of those people who "desecrates" their books.  Here's how I see it: in Judaism, the Rabbinical studies of the Torah are considered so sacred and beautiful that they take on new life as part of the Talmud, a book that is studied and revered on the same level of scripture by certain sects.  Now, I'm not saying that my comments and interactions with the written word are that enlightened.  But I like the idea that books take on new layers and dimensions as they accumulate discussion.*  Reading a used copy of a book, one that has previous markings, always makes me pay attention to lines I might have skimmed over.  Even if the only interaction is a long-forgotten inscription in the front cover, the fact that this was an ancient gift colors my reading, makes me look at it in a way where I try to see the value that made that book so important to someone that they would share it with another.  So yes, I write in my books.  It helps me remember why they are important to me, and lets me make similar connections with others.

Sorry.  Tangent over.  Anyway, I couldn't mark up that copy, so I was left to frantically type the quotes I loved in my phone (naturally, it was the only thing I could count to always have on hand, as I sometimes didn't have a notebook near me when I was reading).  I didn't want to lose those quotes when I finally bought the book, so I'm putting them here as a method of safe-keeping.  And so that perhaps someone else will read this under-rated treasure, and it will spread to the masses!  Revolution!  Or, at least, I'll have someone else to geek out with me.

So, without further ado, some of my favorite Steinbeck moments:

"I was born lost and take no pleasure in being found."

"How myth wipes out fact. ... I am happy to report that in the war between reality and romance, reality is not the stronger."

"A man with nothing to say has no words.  Can it's reverse be true-- a man who has no one to say anything to has no words as he has no need for words?"

"The American tendency in travel.  One goes, not so much to see but to tell afterward."

"What I found was closely intermeshed with how I felt at the moment."

"But to get to be people they must fight those who aren't satisfied to be people."

"This used to be a nation of giants.  Where have they gone?  You can't defend a nation with a board of directors.  That takes men."

"In those days there was no world beyond the mountains."

"A journey is a person in itself; no two are alike."

*If you want to learn more about these theories, I highly recommend The Talmud and the Internet by Jonathan Rosen.  It completely changed my relationship with text, and strengthened my respect for Judaism.