Friday, December 25, 2009

Happy Holidays, Dammit

I've noticed a rather surprising amount of crabbiness this year directed at those of us who wish folks a "Happy Holiday" instead of "Merry Christmas." Some random stranger in the grocery the other day was wishing the clerk Merry Xmas--she was wearing a Santa hat, so seems safe to assume she's a celebrater of the holiday--and he had to do a 30 second diatribe on how he wasn't ashamed of saying Merry Xmas, and he wasn't going to be "politically correct," and got very self-righteous about the whole thing, although, as I said, the clerk was wearing a Santa hat at the time and therefore wasn't likely to argue with him. I've heard this in multiple places this year, in varying degrees. Not sure if it's just conservatives who feel "Happy Holidays" is part of the uncomfortable secularization of our (already secular by law) nation now that Bush and his god are out of office, but I find it mind-boggling. Back when I worked at the game store, our bookkeeper--who was a wonderful sweet person and I liked her a lot--sent me an Xmas card, with the statement that she didn't care whether I was a Christian or not, because SHE was, and so she was sending me a card, dammit. (Not that she'd have said dammit. She'd never have said dammit.) That seems to be the prevailing theme in all this bitching and moaning I've heard this year, with a slight edge of being the persecuted minority. As if Christians had ever been a persecuted minority in this country, for heaven's sake.

I'm one of those people who celebrates the Christmas season as a time for family and joy and love, even though I'm not a Christian. I don't object to friends telling me to "Have a Merry Christmas!" because I certainly intend to do so, and I appreciate the thought. But it just seems like common courtesy to wish strangers a Happy Holiday Season--if you don't know what holidays they celebrate, then why not cover them all with a single blanket statement of good wishes for the new year? It's not about you and your holiday, it's about them and theirs. Getting over yourself a little bit--that'd be a truly Christmassy thing to do, now wouldn't it?

Hope you're all having marvelous holidays of whatever type you desire!

Monday, December 21, 2009

Twilight: New Moon in Ten Paragraphs Or Less

All right, so first off, let me say that New Moon is better than Twilight I, merely due to the fact of it having a quantity of bare-chested native american hunky guys, and Graham Greene, who is an actor of a quality far exceeding that of the script. Let's see if I can sum it up in 10 paragraphs or less.

1. Bella is still stupidly in love with Vampire Ed--apparently it still has not occurred to her that perhaps she is not thinking clearly in this matter. They snuggle together in English class as they watch a Romeo and Juliet movie which Edward has memorized (because apparently being a vampire means Edward is doomed to an eternal hell of repeating the eleventh grade over and over.) Shortly after declaring his undying (heh) love for her, Edward dumps her, for no easily discernable reason--which does tie in nicely with his being an 11th grade boy. He leaves town, vowing that it will be as if he never existed. Would that this were true.

2. Bella's heart and mind are shattered, as she apparently sits in a chair and looks out the window for 3 straight months. Inexplicably, instead of having her forcibly committed, her father just looks worriedly at her from behind his facial hair and makes halfhearted threats to send her to live with her mother. Our window into Bella's distressed state of mind comes via the crude plot device of Bella's emails to Edward's "sister," Alice, who is one of the few enjoyable characters in the film. We see early on that all of Bella's emails to are bouncing back marked Account Deleted; yet we keep hearing her write them, in increasingly pathetic-sounding voice-overs.

3. Bella is just almost starting to act like a normal 16 year old girl again--which is to say self-involved and annoying, but social--when she discovers that doing something stupid or dangerous causes Edward to appear to her in ghost form, saying "er, don't do that." Ghost Edward is an improvement over Real Edward, in that he disappears after blurting out each warning and doesn't sneak into her bedroom to watch her sleeping. Thus Bella decides that occasional visits from Ghost Edward are worth risking grave bodily harm and possible sexual assault, so she goes for a ride with a random bike ganger, just to goad him into showing up. Then she buys a junky motorcycle of her own, and asks her incredibly hot ripped-out Indian friend Jacob to fix it up for her.

4. Bella and Jacob grow closer and bond over the bike repair project, and she emails Alice's non-working address to tell it that she thinks she is falling for Jacob. OH NOES! How will she handle these feelings of not-Edward?? By agreeing to go to a movie with that nice boy at school who she generally treats like crap, and inviting Jacob along, that's how. And so begins Bella's career as the world's biggest cock-tease. Nice boy wants her, she ignores him for Jacob. Jacob wants her, she turns him down at the crucial second. He swears he will be her friend forever.... aaand then the moon turns full and he runs off and doesn't come back. Bella's heart and mind are shattered, and--waaaaait a minute....

5. It is at this point we realize that we are watching the SAME GODDAMNED MOVIE as last year! Bella falls in love. Bella acts like a dumbass. Boy loves her back. Boy suddenly becomes distant and weird. Boy has a secret. Bella whines and moans until she finds out secret--Boy is a Monster who Might Hurt Her if they ever Had Sex or Anything Like That and so therefore Bella Cannot Have Love. But she wants love anyway! And boy loves her and wants to protect her, and *****sounds of violent retching****

6. Werewolves are way cooler than vampires. This is all that is necessary for us to know. Werewolves jump off cliffs for fun. Werewolves work out and are incredibly tan and buff. Werewolves have an endless supply of spare gym shorts to replace the ones that shred off each time they transform. Werewolves catch and eat vampires. They eat the annoying vampire with the dreds from the first movie. They chase the redhead vampire chick off a cliff, but can't follow her despite their mad cliff-jumping skillz, and she swims away to safety in the next film.

7. Bella jumps off a cliff. Because everyone is doing it.

8. Jacob saves her and brings her back to her house; her father is off dealing with the fact that Graham Greene has died, no doubt wisely, as it saves him appearing in "Eclipse." Somehow, miraculously, Alice is waiting in her house, despite not having been invited in and despite the fact that she and her family are theoretically hundreds of miles from Forks. Her weird psychic powers told her Bella was dead! So she came out in Bella's empty house and eventually scare the shit out of her grieving dad? Alice is not a good planner. She and Jacob have some tete-a-tete, and then the phone rings, and Jacob tells the caller that Bella's dad isn't home because he's arranging a funeral. DOHHHHHH!!!! It was EDWARD on the phone!!! Now he thinks Bella is dead, due to this bizarre coincidence/misunderstanding! Now he is going to kill himself because he cannot live in a Bella-less world! Wait wait I get it this is just like Romeo and Juliet, right down to the ridiculous gimmicky ending! OH NOOOOOOOOOOO

9. At THIS point, the plot jumps the rails. There was a plot, albeit a feeble one, involving Bella and Jacob and the mean redheaded vampire and all those indian dudes who we'd like to see a little more of, thanks. Bella opts out of this plot with nary a backward glance, as now she must go to Italy with Alice to save Edward (because when vampires commit suicide, they have to go to Italy to do it.) It was here that I actually said, out loud in the theatre, "What the SHIT just happened?" as Bella's airplane streaked out of Sea-Tac.

10. Edward wants the vampire council to kill him, because he can't do it himself. The vampire council, who look--as a friend of mine said on facebook--like a flaming cross between Monty Python's inquisitors and La Cage aux Folies, tell him no. So apparently the only way to force them to off him is for him to go out and sparkle in public, thus violating Vampire Law by revealing the carefully guarded secret of the vampires' existence. But before he can completely drop trou in the town square, Bella shows up and grabs him around his pale skinny chest and hugs him back into the shadows. Whew, that was close! Now comes the really scary part, where they meet the deadly dangerous and terrifying vampire council and.... wait, hang on. Nothing happens. Hm, that wasn't scary at all. They make Alice promise to turn Bella into a vampire sometime soon, and then turn them all loose. Whew! Close call, guys! Good thing you didn't piss off the council, they might have got out the Soft Cushions and the Comfy Chair....

And so Edward and Bella return to Forks, and she cockteases Jacob a bit more before admitting that she likes Edward best. Jacob points out that if Bella gets vampireated, the werewolves will go completely freestyle on the Cullen clan. Bella says "Whatever!" Jacob leaves, and Edward tells Bella that before he can have sex with h--er, before he can make her a vampire, they will need to---***DUN DUNNNNN***---Get Married! Yes. No biting before marriage for this Romeo. Aww how romantic! Roll end credits!

(yes, I know, it was 11 paragraphs. Stuff it.)

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

The Weekly WTF, Episode 1: Holiday Edition

For quite a while now, I've been meaning to start a series of blog posts devoted to the vast number of pictures I have of things that make me go Holy Crap What the Fuck is Up With THAT? There is more weird stuff in heaven and earth, Horatio, than is dreamt of in your philosophy... In fact, if you were to build a philosophical worldview out of some of this shit, you would end up with a belief system far more damaging even than The Dao of Whiskey.

Now, I wanted to start this off with something light. Something holiday-themed, perhaps, something even OH MY GOD WHAT THE HELL IS THAT THING NOOOOOOO MY EYES

Festive, isn't it? Nothing says Christmas like drunken Santa stumbling into the midst of Sigfried and Roy's holiday performance at the Mirage, and collapsing to sleep off his bender against the flank of a tiger who has alrady slain and is preparing to eat one of his elves.

No doubt this is an act of revenge, in response to Drunk Santa's having grabbed a tiger cub and crammed it in his bag of presents "just for a laugh." Cruel old bastard.

This is actually an item from our museum's collection, and I have to say that on a 1-10 scale of scary, this is only about a 6 compared to some of the Xmas stuff we own. It boggles my mind how many different ways people can find to make something as innocuous as Santa Claus unintentionally creepy, ugly, or downright disturbing. But for sheer surreal incongruity, this has to be one of the finest holiday creations I've seen. So There you have it! Join us again next week, when I will have yet another photo of some high-quality What the Fuck on display for your edification. Thank you, and good night.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

In Which a Free Book is Won

Apparently, my admission that I read Wondermark in my bathroom was the clincher. The marvelous thing is that not only did I win a free book--thus freeing up my cash to buy more of the Wondermark backlist!--but so did Robin, whom I have been barraging with Wondermark links for over a year now. Huzzah! I think I forgot to mention that David Malki also makes short films which are fairly excellent. If you like that sort of thing, go check out Expendable, which is about the rough life of the supervillain henchman.

In other news, I got to go see Star Wars in Concert last night, which was utterly fabulous. Live orchestra performing selections from all 6 films, with clips showing on the huge hi-def screen behind them and a laser/light show surrounding. The whole thing is given some coherence by live narration from Anthony Daniels--very cool to see and hear him in person. Here is a man who is making the most of a career primarily spent playing one character over and over (though I did love him in this.) The narration itself was a little over-the-top silly; Fathead didn't like it at all, but I figured it was aimed primarily at the kids in the audience, of which there were thousands. And seriously, the music's incredible, our seats were amazing--thank you, Lucasfilm, for comping the museum some dead-center floor seats!--and I had a great time. Best thing I saw was a gang of little teeny kids having a lightsaber battle with cones of cotton candy (pink and blue, of course.) Hilarious. Who could ask for anything more?

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Going Stag

I write you all today from Hartford, CT, a city primary known for insurance, mutual funds, and mutual fund insurance.

The Hartford Stag was a staple image of my childhood, though I'm not entirely sure why--must have been sponsoring something I watched religiously on TV, or something. Technically, that should be the Hartford Hart... I wonder when "Hart" and "Hind" were replaced by "Stag" and "Doe" in the American lexicon. Hmm. Hmmmmm....

Anyway, the point--such as it is--is that I flew into Hartford last night for a business trip, to be greeted by a massive thunderstorm that was following on the heels of 5" of wet snow. Last time I was here, it was fall, and New Englandy-looking in a completely different sense; but honestly, I'm fairly pleased with the current state of the weather. Today it's sunny, there's still snow everywhere yet traffic is humming past my window at a decent clip, so I've no complaints. I'm just sitting around the hotel waiting for my coworker to show up--she's been on the coast for a few days, so was taking the train from NYC to New Haven, picking up a rental car, and driving to pick my other coworker and I up before we head over to LEGO for our brainstorm meetings. Eric's watching Firefly over in his room... not a bad way to spend a morning. Think I'll join him.