Thursday, April 29, 2010

I Got Cutter Spray and A Healthy Sense of Worth

Ok, we have a lot to fix in this world and there isn’t much time, so let’s skip the pleasantries this time (if "Four Minutes to Save the World" just popped into your head, you are not alone).

Item 1: How are the loyal-inspirational-tear-jerker-animal movies still being made? You know, the ones about the dog who waits at the train every day expecting his master even years after his demise and the whole town rallies and talks about how this dog is their hero.

Ok, there was a little breakthrough in psychology called classical conditioning where Pavlov used a dog to show that through repetition, a significant stimulus will evoke an innate, often reflexive, response. Essentially, the dog doesn't know what it's doing.

And don't get all surprised or defensive about that statement. It's a dog, for crying out loud. I find the idea that people call an animal that licks its own genitalia their hero a little offensive.

Anthropomorphism is all grand and dandy, heaven knows I think my stuffed animals from my childhood are still pissed at me for leaving them in Sandy, but when push comes to shove Lassie can save Timmy from the well as many times as she wants but if she gets rabies or even just humps my leg I'll be the first one to grab the rifle.

Go get real heroes, people. There have been some pretty awesome individual humans out there. Maybe you like to make dogs your heroes because then you don't have to worry about unpleasantness surfacing, like your favorite world leader miraculously turning out to be a flawed person who's a tool to the serving staff. Well, it may be safer, but I'm still going to judge you for giving all glory laud and honor to something that regards plastic bags caught in the wind as real threats.

Without ruining the validity of my argument, I want to make clear that none of this criticism applies to White Fang. He's the balls.

Item 2: What is with the proclivity dough boys have of growing out their hair so that it hangs around their shoulders in an unkempt tangle? To clarify, dough boys is a term I've assigned in my head to men who have thin flyaway flaxen hair, are over six feet, three hundred pounds, and have the unfortunate pasty and splotchy coloring of a Celt.

You're already fighting battles on three different fronts, boys, don't compound your problem by emphasizing the unfortunate color and texture of your hair by letting it run wild. You don't look bad ass. You look sloppy and potential molester-status.

I know I frequently appear as the champion of nonconformity and doing-what-expresses-you-with-your-appearance-without-a-reference-to-others, but I'm truly just at a loss to see what your endgame is with this act. If I can't tell what your statement is, that means it was a complete communication failure and you should try something else now.

And yes I recognize that I am quite the coward, shouting at you from the anonymity of my screen since you could literally squish me into a little squawking puddle with your thumb. But how about we redirect your energies and not do that--instead, let's cut your hair.

Item 3: The ending scene of The Wizard of Oz is the biggest cop-out in cinematic history. I make it that strong of a declarative statement because this film, unlike most movies who back away from their potential, gets assigned Classic Movie status. And it is a classic. I still expect apple trees to start throwing their fruit at me, and "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" is truly the song of the century. It's a fabulous piece of storytelling. With an ending that honestly wouldn't make sense to anyone at all if we hadn't grown up with it.

What is up with the answer that Dorothy gives Glinda about what she's learned on her adventure? "If I ever go looking for my heart's desire again, I won't look any further than my own back yard. Because if it isn't there, I never really lost it to begin with!" What kind of un-American jibber jabber is that? Is she saying that we're not supposed to dream big, reach far, achieve things that no one has even imagined yet? What is this, some kind of police state where the region you were born in is doomed to be the only place you're permitted to explore? We already have enough people in the world who are living that way without pushing it further through brainwashing Hollywood techniques.

And that really wasn't what the movie was about up to that point! It was about finding inner strength to overcome huge obstacles, believing that even if you aren't fully equipped for the journey (i.e. no brain) you'll still be able to find the gumption to push through if you have a goal worth fighting for or if there's a real evil out there that must be thwarted.

When you think about it, not only is that ending a betrayal of L. Frank Baum's vision (don't even get me started about how they have it all be a concussed dream. So not how it went down in the book.), it's actually a demonstration of the protectionist values that Americans were embracing in the 1930s--don't worry about the bad that's going down out there in the big scary world, stick to your backyard, you'll learn to like that everything is the color taupe.

It comes down to this: how can you take the quote at the end and rationalize it with "If happy little bluebirds fly beyond the rainbow, why oh why can't I?" I refuse to cancel out the song in favor of the conclusion.

And yes, if you must know, I am searching for ways to fix the world because I have a final in two hours I don't want to study for and I would rather tackle impossibly large problems than attempt to study and fail. But who are you, the homework police? Ohhh, burn, I just went fourth grade on your ass.

On a much happier note, when I was actually successfully studying last night for this final I flipped open a library to the exact page of Cindy Sherman's Untitled Film Still #35 (seen above). I have been mildly obsessed with this piece since my Introduction to Art History class five years ago. And somehow I had forgotten the name. And now me and good ol' #35 are reunited again. God bless finals. Ish.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Livin' Just To Find Emotion

Recent news: I had a near death experience. My head almost snapped off my neck completely. This was largely due to a week of where I attended four different concerts up in Salt Lake. Epic, but it had a price.By the time I was at Passion Pit (concert number 3), I was forced to sedately step-and-snap to the music, since my head was already at such a precarious state that I was a perpetual bobble head. Oh wow that just created an awesome tongue twister in my head: “At Passion Pit my pate was perpetually placed precariously.”

But in reaction to this brush with my own mortality, I feel compelled to confess to something. It’s a shameful secret, something that has been gnawing at me for some time. But even now as I’m on the brink of telling all, the Radiohead I’m listening to right now seems to be shouting me (or angstily scolding, as is more their style) into silence. But if being close to becoming a dashboard novelty has taught me anything, it’s that above all you must be true to yourself! Well, that and if you’re going to head bang, do it more with your entire back folding forward, but that is not the point we are going to focus on right now. The truth will out me one day, might as well do it myself:

I enjoy the music group known as Train. I thought it was a fluke, that “Meet Virginia” was a one-time delightful bouquet of clever nonsense lyrics and a swingin tempo, but I’m afraid it’s much worse than that. The percentage of their tunes I find myself gleefully bopping along to unfortunately confirms that Train and I have a game show love connection we can’t deny. I know, I am way too cool-hipster-obscure-groove-reverence-for-the-classics to be this person!

And yet it remains. I like Train. Which if you look at it a certain way, it’s a pretty cool demonstration of the wonders of music—how personal an individual reaction can be, and how unpredictable what chord progression is going to sing in your bones and what epic classics are going to leave you saying “meh.”

Yes, I did just try that hard to make my fanness of Train cool and philosophically significant. And if you’re judging me or considering cutting me off as an acquaintance because of this revelation, consider two things: A) ever since I informed Pandora of my Train love it has clogged my station with all sorts of sentimental twangy crap. I believe that is sufficient penance, and B) that’s insanely lame of you to not be ok with what other people like.

Other confessions that have been crawling stealthily out of the suppressed area they were supposed to stay in: I appreciate Led Zeppelin but never listen to it for pleasure, I think Zac Effron was hot in Hairspray, I’m going to see “The Jonses” even though it looks pretty crazy lame solely because it has David Duchovny in it, I still know every word and musical cue for Alanis’ album “Jagged Little Pill,” I’ve read a Nicholas Sparks book or two—although now that he’s publicly stated that he’s a better novelist than Cormac McCarthy I solemnly swear to never read another—and I cried through the first twenty minutes of “Up” and at the end of the Glee episode when she sings the Rhianna song (she’s so sad!). There. Whew. That felt good. It isn’t even close to the amount of dirt I have on myself, but at least the load has been lightened. Marginally.

To conclude, let us focus on two songs I’ve been currently obsessed with: The Door’s “Hello, I Love You” and Velvet Underground’s “Rock and Roll.”

The Doors rock, even though I have to be in the mood for their more self-indulgent nine minute songs—not that I’m against those epic recordings as a strict rule, but because even the greatest musician in the world could learn from the three-minute pop song format. There’s a reason why The Beatle’s became gods of the earth with “Help!” and “She Loves You.” You gotta earn your “Revolution No. 9.” This means you, pretentious local bands. That’s awesome that you can turn your back on the audience and rock out without hitting anything discordant. No one cares.

The key point to “Rock and Roll” is the lyric when Jenny “couldn't believe what she heard at all. She started dancin' to that fine fine music—you know her life was saved by rock 'n' roll.” Does anybody else have that moment in their life when they really listened to rock and looked upon it and found that it was good? For me it was when Royden and Jeff were rocking out to “Foxy Lady” by Jimi Hendrix. I must have been about 12 or 13. And I couldn’t have told you it was Jimi singin’ to me, but I know we played that song eight or nine times straight, taking turns spinning and jamming on the slick hardwood floor in our kitchen to the gutsy guitar riffs.

And then I’m pretty sure Randy came in and was a complete buzzkill. But still, my life was changed by rock ‘n’ roll.