I know the list of number elevens, of also-rans, of honorable mentions, probably already implies my taste in movies. Which many people have called suspect over the years, but which I can never help; I always want to love movies. Sometimes I get my expectations too high and then get disappointed when I’m not blown away.
Admittedly, being blown away shouldn’t be the measure of movies. Lots of great movies don’t blow people away.
But I still think the best do. Personally, I think the best movies are the ones you feel in your gut. I’m not interested in analysis, commentary, and socio-critical context; I don’t really give a flying flip what any particular movie says about society, for the most part. What I care about are movies that fulfill what I believe should be the primary objective of any story: to entertain.
Education is great. Information is awesome. Awareness is admirable, and enlightenment valuable.
But I still believe those things come after entertainment. I was not entertained by There Will Be Blood, nor No Country for Old Man; I thought both interminably slow and, worst of all, boring. Sure, some pretty images. Sure, a weird haircut. But pretty images and weird haircuts do not a movie make.
Everyone’s doing decade-end top-ten lists, and I keep reading them and not seeing anything I thought was awesome, so I decided to do my own, one each for movies, music, and books. I’ve decided to post them in that order, if only because the book one will probably be the most difficult. Always is. Love books, after all.
Rolling Stone named There Will Be Blood as its number-one movie of the first decade of the millennium, which I think disqualifies the rest of the list (which, in addition, ends with the mind-numbingly endless Lord of the Rings trilogy, or, as I like to refer to it, “That Fucking Day I’ll Never Get Back”). It’s filled with the usual suspects, No Country for Old Men and A History of Violence and Mulholland Drive; lots of, you know, arty sort of movies people always mistake the boringness of for things like subtlety and craft.
Gag me with a spork.
This past decade was pretty awesome for movies, though you wouldn’t know it from most top ten lists. There was a lot of stuff blowing up in ways we’d never seen shit blown up before. There was a whole lot of being really, really ridiculously good looking (spoiler spot!). We didn’t just believe a man could fly; we believed a man could build a suit that would enable him to fly.
Which was totally rad.
So I started to think about a top-ten list. I started to make up a top-ten list, in fact. And then it got long, when I realized how many absolutely awesome movies had been made in the last decade, and how many were going to go ignored. So I’m going with two top-ten movies of the past decade list: the absolute top ten, and then the top ten movies that didn’t make the top-ten list itself. I figured I’d start with the latter, all of which you can call number eleven.
When I got my loan disbursement this time around, I took care of all my education-related bills and such, and had a bit left over. Which was a nice relief after having been waiting to receive on so many accounts, and I decided to celebrate. To indulge, in fact, in two things I’d been wanting for a while.
The first was a new pair of headphones. Several years ago, after hearing very positive things about them, I invested in a pair of Grado SR80s. Grado is known among audiophiles as having totally premium cans of the sort that can often run into the thousands of dollars for a single pair of their most high-end product. The SR80s are not; they’re just a step above entry level, but I loved them. They sounded so good. Listening to my music really was different when I used them, as opposed the the earbuds I had been using.
And then they broke. They served well for several years, but the wire frayed and the right-side can sputtered, and I could have fixed them, probably, but it might have cost nearly as much as new cans, anyway. Besides the fact that I had bought a pair of Sennheiser earbuds to use with my iPod, and they were sufficient even if they weren’t quite as spectacular.
I’ve been wanting a pair of headphones since then, though, and so I bought a pair last week. I did some quite extensive shopping around, and noticed some spectacular deals around Christmas, including one particular pair of earbuds that normally retail for $500 but had been discounted by 50%. I admit I almost took that plunge, but I had already decided I wanted real cans again. Big, open, circumnaural cans to go over my head. I mean, mind you, I’m no more an audiophile than I might be an oenophile, but I like my music nearly as much as I like my wine (I prefer the term “lush”), and after having owned those Grados . . . I missed them. They had sounded so good. One thing about them, though, is that Grados are kind of retro in terms of design and really aren’t the most comfortable headphones in the world.
Given that I like my Sennheiser earbuds, I thought I’d give their headphones a shot. They have several series, but I stumbled upon their HD595 model. Nice design. Velvet ear cushions. Good, dynamic driving for all types of music. I consistently read people remark on their versatility. And their price was just about at the most I was willing to spend.
They came today. And ZOMG. Seriously.
Usually, higher-end cans need what audiophiles call “burn-in time.” Apparently, whatever in the cans works needs a while to equalize, or something. Most times, you hear that you want to play some music through them for, like, 24 hours straight before you really listen to them, as they reach some balance in their sound. I’ve heard some people open the package, hook them up, and then put them in a drawer for a week.
Readers of this blog, however, are probably well aware of my admittedly limited patience. Knowing me, does putting them in a drawer sound like something I’d be able to do?
Of course not. Come on, a brief tour of my music collection.
I was, until I then read them, after which I felt decidedly less interested.
I admit I used to be into the Globes and the Oscars. I watched them every year during college. I generally recall very little about the winners; I remember the year Roberto Benigni stepped on Spielberg’s head as he made his way up to accept his acting award for Life is Beautiful, beating out the likes of Edward Norton (American History X), Tom Hanks (Saving Private Ryan), and Sir Ian McKellan (Gods and Monsters). He didn’t, unfortunately, beat Joseph Fiennes, who was basically the only person not nominated for Shakespeare in Love even though he was, in fact, Shakespeare in love. The only thing I remember about the Globes is the year Jack Nicholson gave part of his acceptance speech (As Good As It Gets, I think) out of his ass, a la Jim Carrey in Ace Ventura, Pet Detective.
I think the embedding for YouTube is different on self-hosted WordPress blogs than over at WordPress.com, so I thought I’d test it out. Which is nicely coincidental, because there was a commercial I caught while taking a break that, on sight, I knew belonged on my blog.
Because it’s awesome:
I mean, seriously! It’s Heidi Klum! Playing video games!
In her underwear.
(excuse me while I wipe my chin. There. Much better)
It is, apparently, one of a series of Guitar Hero commercials, all based on the iconic scene from Risky Business:
Which is also awesome. Watching it, one can see why he became the star he did, who was awesome right up until Mission: Impossible III, and who desperately needs not only a better role but also to cut loose a little. Anyone else see his interview with Barbara Walters recently? Since when is Tom Cruise restrained?
I have to admit, I’ve not understood the allure of Guitar Hero; seems like an awful lot of work to invest in mastery over buttons when one could actually master a real musical instrument one wouldn’t have to plug in to a console for it to work. I’ve been contemplating picking up a guitar this spring; it’s something I’ve always wanted to learn but never managed to.
All that said, though, I found a video of a drummer using a modded controller to master an insane song:
But then again, looks like a dude who could probably actually play the real drums, too.
During one of the classes when I mentioned Eddie Izzard, one of my students mentioned a documentary called Heckler. I went to look it up, because I love when comedians pwn hecklers.
Here’s Jamie Kennedy (who, coincidentally, produced the documentary):
Jimmy Carr does it extraordinarily well. Here’s one:
And here’s another:
But it’s not just comedians. Here’s Kevin Smith:
And even Bill Clinton pwning some idiot “9/11 truth conspiracy theorist”:
I mean, seriously. Some people are just douchebags.
Thing is, Heckler turns out to only ostensibly be about heckling; over the course of interviewing Jamie Kennedy, Carrot Top, and Bill Maher (among many others), it slowly became a rumination about criticism. In doing so, it raised some terrific points about critics and their relation to, for lack of a better word, “art,” and especially about the way the Internet has changed things. It featured appearances by writers from CHUD.com and Giant magazine and questioned the idea of random dudes commenting about cinema. Kathy Griffin made an analogy between Internet commenters and hecklers, which I thought was apt, except for one crucial difference:
At a comedy show, the comedian gets to be face to face, even if across a room, with the person.
On the other hand, the Internet allows a degree of cowardice when someone like Shecky Gangrene or, as is most often the case, Anonymous wants to crap on somebody. I swear, I’d often heard quotes attributed to Anonymous before, but the Internet exponentially increased Anonymous’ body of work, which is mostly restricted to little more than saliva-spattered vitriol. I’ve rarely seen Anonymous actually be supportive; usually Anonymous uses the old “I’m sorry, but I’ve just got to be honest with you” to make personal attacks and mostly horrifying comments they’d never make in real life to someone’s face.
And while I’ve never gotten altogether much attention from Anonymous because I’m just a mostly unknown writer still making his way in his work, any attention from Anonymous can feel like too much. Most of the negativity I’ve encountered has come from Anonymous (who most often really, really doesn’t like me). Anonymous most often believes that the ends justify whatever means it is necessary to use, and frequently makes the case that anyone who has earned any degree of spotlight whatsoever must grin and bear it because it comes with the territory and one must develop thick skin.
To which I say: bullshit.
Bill Maher and Dr. Drew (ftw) address it best in the documentary by making two points: first, honesty does not excuse douchebaggery (that’s Dr. Drew), and second, as Maher notes, entertainers can’t develop thick skin. We need some degree of sensitivity because that’s our role in the culture we need to be part of.
Which I think is an awesome point.
The documentary is well worth checking out. Here’s the trailer:
I think my favorite part was the segment dedicated to director Uwe Boll, who challenged his critics to boxing matches and summarily beat the shit out of them. It’s absolutely hysterical to watch as the movie switches back and forth from idiot bloggers making asinine comments like “No, I’ve never watched one of his movies, but I’ve heard their awful” to selfsame bloggers falling to the canvas, culminating in a shot of a twenty-ish blogger lying on the curb, post-fight, wearing a tank top with Sharpie-written “Hi, Mom!” on its back while puking into the gutter.
I have to admit, I’ve not yet read a John Connolly novel, though by all accounts, his books seem right up my alley. He’s an Irish writer who writes ostensibly crime novels that have, according to his Wikipedia article, become in recent years increasingly concerned with the supernatural.
So yah, got to look me up some of those.
Dude’s won a bunch of genre-type awards: a Stoker for best first novel and a Shamus. And two of his books have apparently come with soundtracks, which is totally awesome (note to self: what is the soundtrack for my writing?).
Connolly recently posted a great blog on the old argument concerning ‘genre’ fiction versus ‘literary’ fiction. It’s well worth reading just to enjoy the pretension of some writers. I mean, holy shit, you think it’s a joke some writers think the way he portrays, and then you meet those writers who not only think that way but even speak that way, and you know for a fact those are the same damned annoying writers who appropriate agent/editor panels at writing conferences to ask deeply personal questions about their deeply personal pet projects and who believe the publishing world is totally against them because it’s a covert and Cabalistic cadre of secret societies and secreter handshakes one can only break into if one compromises one’s ‘artistic integrity.’
He makes a lot of points I agree a lot with, but the money one comes toward the end:
I believe that art and craft are not mutually exclusive. One works at one’s craft, and one hopes that, along the way, art may possibly emerge. Even if it does not, one can still take pride in the fact that one has done one’s best.
I think one of the reasons I felt the catharsis I mentioned was that we’ve gotten beyond the noise and chatter. No more political ads, no more proposition whatever, no more signs on people’s lawns. Used to be that it was difficult to separate the static from the noise; seems like now there’s too much noise, and it’s more difficult to separate the stupid from the real.
Sad the news that the 11th Doctor is now on his way
To usurping the Tardis with companions new and d’verse.
Just a few specials before Tennant goes on his merry way
To other projects, other lands, and other roles.
I would call his portrayal of the Time Lord my favorite
But have I in fact on real frame of reference;
I’ve seen no other perform the role, the acts
of heroism and humanity for which I’ve come to know
the Doctor as played by Tennant. Not Eccleston nor
Atkinson, nor Bakers double, Pertwee, or Hartnell.
Indeed, Doctor Who was my favorite with twice
The Tennants in the house of Tardis, as always
Bigger without than within. Much like the show.
With apologies for the bastardization/bardolization. But seriously, there are few things in the world better than either Doctor Who or Shakespeare, and the combination of the two?
I’m sad to hear Tennant is leaving (after a critically acclaimed turn as Hamlet for the Royal Shakespeare Company, mind), if only because he’s the only doctor I’ve ever known. That’s a deliberate choice, too, because he’s the sort of character I want to be. I love the tenth doctor for his childlike glee, for his unflappability, for his grin and his humour. He is one of my all time favorite characters in any medium. Up there with House and the brothers Winchester, not to mention Tristran Thorn, Richard Mayhew, and Fat Charlie.
Actually, what really seems to be happening is that there’s a British driver speeding past cameras in Bavaria. But since he (or she) is British, his (or her) steering wheel’s on the wrong side of the car, so that the cameras, which are set up to catch the driver’s side of the car, are actually catching the passenger’s side. Which would be neat enough, because if dude (or dudette) left it as it was, those crazy Kraut police would be trying to slap the invisible man with some speeding tickets.
But no. Because dude (or dudette) is awesome, and instead of just letting the cameras capture an empty passenger seat, he (or she) is driving with a freakin’ Muppet!.
I would totally pay real, cash money to see a cop pull said car over and then approach the window only to find himself talking to a Muppet.
I wonder if the driver (or driverette) is also taking advantage of the carpool lane.
At least he (or she) chose the right Muppet. I mean, Animal? Totally:
But, like, one would never expect, say, Gonzo or Scooter to be speeding.
Because, of course, Scooter would be riding a scooter.
Which is not unusual; I’ve heard very little criticism concerning the Kindle. People may not rave over it like they raved about the iPod when it first came out, but the Kindle seems, for many intents and purposes, rad. Awesome. Exciting.
Which makes one wonder: if it’s so awesome and exciting, shouldn’t Entrekin be available for it?
Why yes, yes it should be:
Ain’t it purdy? You can click that link to find its shiny new Amazon page.
The timing couldn’t be better, nor, I think, any less coincidental. I’ve been working on the Kindle version since back in August. Not that it took that long, but I mentioned I was going to be changing things up toward the end of October.
I still go back and forth on Lulu. The reason I put Entrekin on the Kindle was that the digital downloads have been so extraordinarily successful, with more than a thousand across the various stories. I like that Lulu allows me to offer the DRM-free .pdfs, not to mention that it also allows for the tangible book for anyone who wants a souvenir. I had a bad experience in Lulu’s community, but then again I’ve realized that if I simply decide to use Lulu solely as the printing press I’d always meant it to be, it does still serve my purposes pretty well, its forums, policies, and customer service notwithstanding (more on those three later, and elsewhere).
So no, I’m not done yet. I’m still curious about a lot of aspects of publishing and the ways it’s changing, so it looks like Entrekin will still be around for a bit. As always, you can get it here.
Thanks to everyone who’s made it such a success so far, and remember to keep telling your friends about it.
Especially if, you know, your friends own Kindles.
(because, really, here, so far, I’m at a loss; where and how does one market to Kindle owners?)
There are few things that excite me more than ambition. A lot of music critics complained that The Killers’ Sam’s Town was too Springsteen-esque/epic, and while I’d be the first to admit it is, in places, sprawling and messy, well, so is sex a lot of the time, and I think we can all agree ain’t nothing wrong with that. “Read My Mind” is one of my favorite songs in recent memory:
And now a new Killers’ CD on the horizon, comin’ up soon: Day & Age drops in late November (the 25th to be exact), and I simply can’t imagine I’m the only one totally looking forward to it.
pay my respects to grace and virtue
send my condolences to good
give my regards to soul and romance
they always did the best they could
and so long to devotion, you taught me everything I know
wave good bye, wish me well.
Through most of my life, at various times, various people have remarked I look like others. Just a few weeks ago, during an orientation, one of my colleagues decided I reminded her of the lost Baldwin brother. Back when I used to be a substitute teacher, I’d often hear, amid a flurry of giggles, that I looked just like the guy from N’Sync. I’ve reminded people of Jack from Will & Grace and Tom Cruise, Dean Cain back when he was Superman, and even Superman himself.
My favorite, though, has always been and will always be when someone tells me I remind them of a young Paul Newman.
Because, seriously, is there, and has there ever been, and will there ever be, a cooler man?
Which I thought was awesome and highly recommend, though warning for the sensitive ears; there’s some, like, language. And not language like big words or excrement or incest, but words people think are naughty.
So if you can’t handle the word ‘fuck,’ don’t watch that shit, yo.
Back in the day, I used to read Hot Chicks with Douchebags, which I think is a site best enjoyed in small doses; continued reading results in SNL-sketch syndrome, the Internet equivalent of an overextended joke.
But it was through Hot Chicks with Douchebags that I discovered Ram Jam and “Black Betty”.
This is Ram Jam playing “Black Betty,” a video which may be the most cliched 70s-tastic thing I have ever seen. I mean, look at his sweater:
I write to
Will be someone.
Eventually, my lady, you
Will have a
Eventually I will know
Just who you are,
You, about whom I have
Wondered for years.
Eventually I will not
Have to settle for a
Eventually I will
Know you when I
When your soft, light
Finally echo from my
Dreams to my floor.
Thank God I’m
One of six poems in the collection, and one of the earliest overall. I wrote it during college, which is also true of “Inspiration Point,” “This Ain’t Wonderland,” and “A New Drink.” This was, of course, at a time when I thought every line of a poem should be capitalized (I’m no longer sure, and I’d concede this one might look better without the capped lines). These and my other college poems were the ones that came closest to not making it into the collection, in fact, because I thought so much else seemed so much stronger, but one of the good things about doing it in the first place was recording those times.
I think every writer has early work that makes them cringe a little. I know I have a novel on the top shelf of the closet in my parents basement, which will, as far as I’m concerned, remain there forever (or at least until they move), a big, thick, hunk of a novel I thought it took nearly a ream of paper to tell. I’m pretty sure it’s up near 500 single-spaced pages.
Better I offer you the poems than that, I think. The poems, it’s fun to see how I’ve grown.
The novel you might just bludgeon me with were I to try to sell it to you.
As well you should.
It’s nice to know, as well as a little ironic, that a couple of you cited this and other poetry as your favorite. We are so rarely good at judging what of our work will appeal to others.
I’m not so worried about that. It’s a legal grey area since it wasn’t for download, it wasn’t a finished product. We aren’t sure who owns the recordings. I feel like I might survive this.
And I’m sure he probably will, but one might wonder precisely how.
Apparently, the songs were only on his website for a little while before two things happened: first, it sounds like the host’s server crashed (which makes sense, because ZOMG NOO GNR!!!111!!!), and second, someone associated with GN’R asked the guy to take the songs down and erase the digital files, which he did (which was why he couldn’t supply the FBI with the original files when they later asked). So, really, no telling how many people managed to catch the audio stream at exactly the right time. In the meantime, after the songs were taken down at GN’R's request, copies managed to make their way around the tubes. It was one of those copies a friend of mine convinced me to listen to.
I had mixed feelings about doing so. I’ve heard a few people call Axl names for suing the guy who posted them, but I just can’t help seeing the situation from Axl’s perspective: here’s a guy whose name is on two of the greatest rock albums of all time (Appetite for Destruction and Use Your Illusion). I don’t know about you, but I wouldn’t want to have to try to make a follow up to Illusion; both CDs are, first minute to last, terrific. I still listen to them all the time. And Appetite? It’s turbo-charged summer on vinyl, barbecues and beers and bonfires, the groin-tightening excitement of making out for the first time, knowing you want to use your body but having not a clue what you want to use it for. So he’s got both those albums under his belt, and now everyone’s been waiting for the follow-up for, what, like, 13 years or something?
Not to mention all the press he’s gotten in the meantime. People who have probably never actually seen him in real life, even on a stage, writing about his “neuroses” and “depression” and “erratic behavior,” and etc. And I’m not saying his behavior hasn’t been erratic at times, but I am saying I can totally understand why he’d want to become total recluse. With pretty much everyone scrutinizing your every move, would you want to leave your house?
I wouldn’t. I’d sit down in the studio and I’d spend a decade trying to write something better than what I had done before, and it would probably take that long, too, because let’s face it; what he’d done before was awesome. So Axl spends more than a decade trying to get it right, trying to get it better, and then some random dude posts the unfinished work on his random website.
Heck, I’d be pissed, too.
But, then, as a fan, man, do I want to hear what he’s working on. Which was why I had mixed feelings about listening to the songs; on one hand, I’m just dying to. On the other, I know that if they’re not out yet, there’s a reason they’re not out yet, and Axl probably doesn’t think they’re finished yet. And I’ll admit I ain’t musical enough to detect an extra note here or a more produced layer there, most of the time, but then again, I’m not cinematic enough to really know anything about lighting or whathaveyou, and I wouldn’t presume to try to view, say, Quantum of Solace before I sit down to watch it in a theater.
In the end, the GN’R fan in me won out, and yes, I listened to those 9 songs. I thought it’d be neat to do a review of them, but then I thought: as a writer, would I want someone to review an unpublished novel I didn’t feel I had finished revising yet?
Of course I wouldn’t.
Hell, I’m not even sure I should tell you that I thought they were awesome. The kind of awesome, in fact, that’s worth waiting nearly a decade and a half for.
So I won’t. I’m not going to tell you that I think it’s the best thing the man behind Appetite for Destruction and Use Your Illusion (I & II) has ever done.
Not right now.
Maybe when it comes out.
In the meantime, I think we should all wish Mr. Rose luck in finishing what he’s started.
First Bernie Mac, then Isaac Hayes, and now, sadly, Leroi Moore. Tragic all, but man . . . I love Dave Matthews Band. I didn’t until Everyday, after which I became the sort of fan who paid $80 no less than 3 times to see them perform (and loved them every time).
The Bulwer-Lytton prize, named after the author who first set down “It was a dark and stormy night,” is a parody award given to bad writing.
This year’s “winners” have been announced.
Thing is, I’d totally read a novel that began:
Mike Hummer had been a private detective so long he could remember Preparation A, his hair reminded everyone of a rat who’d bitten into an electrical cord, but he could still run faster than greased owl snot when he was on a bad guy’s trail, and they said his friskings were a lot like getting a vasectomy at Sears.
Because, seriously, a Sears vasectomy is the sort of imagery that would keep me going at least 50 more pages.
In fact, I kinda think the only bad thing about that entry is the comma splice after “Preparation A.”
I’ve mentioned before I’m currently in the submission process with my novel, The Prodigal Hour. So far it’s okay; not spectacular, but not terrible, either. Of course, “spectacular” would probably be defined as “offered representation,” and I’ll be sure to let you know when that happens. I considered talking more about the submission process itself, but I think I’m going to do so more after I’ve been offered representation, and not before.
I’m going through the process as you’d expect; search the Internet and Writers’ Market and etc. for agents who are either actively seeking new clients or sound like they may be vaguely interested. And then I send a query, which looks pretty much as you’d expect a query to look: intro, synopsis, bio, and out. The intro gives me some trouble, though, because that’s where I mention the title, word count, and genre of my novel, and boyhow is that last characteristic ever a trouble spot. Many might think it’s easy: time travel automatically = science fiction.
But not so fast, I say.
Because I don’t feel like I wrote a science fiction novel. I don’t generally read science fiction novels. Science fiction is all wars among and treks across the stars, and it has a long and illustrious history I don’t feel a part of. Growing up, my choices for reading material were all Dean Koontz and Stephen King pretty much straight across the board, with digressions into Douglas Adams and Christopher Stasheff. Given that among my first experiences with Stephen King was a short story called “Strawberry Spring,” after which I read Different Seasons, I always had trouble thinking of him as a ‘horror’ writer. I never read It and never got to his straight-up horror until after I’d already read “Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption” and “The Body.”
Try showing someone with no previous knowledge of their origins the movie adaptations of The Shawshank Redemption and Stand By Me and then explaining to them they were both based on books by a horror writer.
Because they certainly aren’t horror stories.
Admittedly, King is a bit of an exception; he himself is pretty much as much a genre as “horror”. People buy his books for his name, not for the genre.
Few people are going to buy The Prodigal Hour for my name, and you’re probably already reading this, anyway.
So far, I’ve been calling it a techno-thriller, but even that is a bit of a misnomer. It is thrilling (well. That’s the hope, at least), but character and plot work in pretty much equal measure, and it’s certainly not just about the thrills.
I sort of understand the requirement; it determines, basically, where your book is placed on bookstores’ shelves, which is key. I rarely venture to the scifi/fantasy shelves except to grab Neil Gaiman’s newest book, and again, I’m buying the name, not the genre.
One of the things that’s gotten me thinking about this, too, are the writers who write stories that seem pretty categorically genre but whose books are not placed there. Lethem started out writing mostly weird science fiction tales. Crichton’s got Jurassic Park and Timeline, at least, not to mention Sphere and The Andromeda Strain. Alice Sebold’s The Lovely Bones was narrated by a dead girl, while Audrey Niffenegger’s The Time-Traveler’s Wife seems like science fantasy.
And then there’s Michael Chabon. He just won a Hugo for The Yiddish Policeman’s Union. The Hugo is a major award so known for science fiction that, when a handful of fantasy novels won (including JK Rowling’s Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire and Gaiman’s American Gods), some controversy got stirred up.
It’s like people expect good entertainment from all media until they hit books, and then some weirdo mechanism steps in and says that it must be “literature” to be any good while preventing the memory that the whole reason Shakespeare is awesome is because he wrote swordfights and fairies and witches so damned well into really exciting stories.
I thought that since I had already written about Doctor Who and Supernatural, I really should devote some screentime to my favorite show, House, M.D..
Especially since I’m so worried about it.
I don’t quite remember when I became a fan of House, but I certainly remember how: my best friend in my writing program at some point, told me I needed to watch it and lent me the first season on DVD. I don’t remember why, nor how it came up, but man, it hooked me right away.
Some background: I was, during college, premed. I got right up to the MCATs before I realized I’m not a doctor, and by then it was late enough that I ended up graduating with a secondary major in science. My primary major was literature, and I did my thesis on the connection between medicine and writing as embodied in the work of Arthur Conan Doyle and William Carlos Williams. Looking back, I think what ultimately made me give it up was realizing that I really couldn’t handle that responsibility. It’s not the blood or the guts or anything; it’s the fear of making a mistake the cost of which would be a life.
I was skeptical when my friend lent me that DVD, but then I started watching the show, and I found I very quickly couldn’t stop. I’d say I’m not sure there’s a better show on television because I’d have a very limited sample set (I haven’t really owned a television in several years), but I know I just kept going, straight on through. I watched the entire first season in a weekend, and then watched most of the second over my first USC winter break, my first Christmas and New Year’s on my own and in LA.
And I loved it.
For anyone not watching; House is less a show about medicine than it is about diagnostics, problem solving, and detective work, and House himself has less in common with, say, Doug Ross (or choose a favorite doctor character) than he has with Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes. One can pretty much pick up the series with any episode; most are completely self-contained, and all focus primarily on a single case. With nearly perfect three-act structure in every episode. Plus, House is acerbic, sarcastic, and brilliantly curmudgeonly.
But after last season, I’ve been wondering if he hasn’t limped over the shark.
The first three were mostly terrific, and the third ended on a bit of a cliff-hanger in which he lost his entire team (Omar Epps, Jesse Spencer, and uber-hot Jennifer Morrison). It was set up well enough to be a dramatic development, and season three began first with House on his own, until his boss forces him to hire a new team. In typical House fashion, he basically has a marathon interview with, like, forty applicants. The third season pretty much became survivor in a hospital with House as Jeff Probst, with several odd-ish complications along the way.
I started to notice it most when House used a hunting knife and a wall socket to electrocute himself. I’m not sure how he did it, though; my father is an electrician, and so far as I know (do not try on your own), one needs at least two such implements, one in each slot of a socket, to complete the circuit and get a shock. How he managed to kill himself with just the knife is anyone’s guess (though, I guess, being House, he probably accounted for it), but moreso it took the character to a weird extreme. House is a Vicodin addict, certainly often a prick, and by most accounts self-destructive in some ways, but destructive enough to set aside survival instinct to see if there’s a light at the end of the tunnel? It felt very much against character.
I can really only hope that the issues that occurred midway through the season did so for the same reasons that I speculate occurred with Supernatural; that writers’ strike messed up productions several ways to Sunday, and about the only show I’d guess it didn’t affect would have been The Bachelorette and its “reality”-based ilk.
The season ended with the death of a character too prevalent and well developed, over the season, to really be called minor but not really exactly major, either. It seemed to come a bit out of left field, but it did complicate various relationships in the show in a lot of ways.
With a few weeks left before the new season starts, I hope they’ve gotten their act together and pull it off well. I’m interested to see where it goes. The friction between House and Wilson (played by Robert Sean Leonard– Swing Heil!) could be insanely tense, and Laurie and Leonard are two actors I’d love to see holding nothing back while going for each other’s throats. They have as dramatic and amazing a chemistry as Laurie ever had with Fry (and if you haven’t seen A Bit of Fry and Laurie, you must).
I’m also wondering if they’ll ever demonstrate just what Taub actually brings to anything, because so far, I’m not totally clear on his use in the show, and why he’s there.
I’m also hoping to see more of Jennifer Morrison. But that’s kind of an obvious request, probably.
The day: Southern California just south of Santa Monica, warm and oppressive as Los Angeles so often is. I’m in my old beater of a Mazda (which has served me oh-so-well through the years) playing the rock station I think Butch Walker introduced me to, if I’m not mistaken, when I hear a song by Katy Perry. It’s obviously pretty purely pop confection, with the kind of heavy, thuddy beat that masks the fact that there’s really nothing going on and then kind of vocal enhancement that tries to conceal that the vocalist can’t actually sing.
But don’t take my word for it:
My first thought on hearing it was: “Jill Sobule called. She wants her song back.”
Which is, I think, actually charitable. Because really, it doesn’t really rip Sobule off so much as insult homosexuality and the GLBT community in general.
Here’s Jill Sobule’s “I Kissed a Girl”:
You know what I love about Jill Sobule? She looks so happy and joyful. She’s having so much fun playing her guitar she nearly falls backward in her bed, and there’s her feet not reaching the floor. I love her facial expressions, and the way she sings, like kissing a girl was, for her, a revelation. An epiphany.
“They can have their diamonds while we have our pearls.”
It’s a rather defiant statement but one without anger or resentment behind it. It’s like she gets the fact that the most powerful and influential revolutionary, and the one who will most change the world, is the one who’s smiling.
And then there’s Katy Perry.
So the video opens with her on the bed, stroking her pussy (cat). Already, it goes, arguably, a little more toward crude and tasteless than Sobule’s. And okay, I get that we can’t really exactly compare the two videos, because videos are less about the artist and the song than they are about the record companies and the marketing.
So fair play. How about that song?
The first time I heard it was driving down that sunny California street (I was actually on Romaine, a block south of Santa Monica). Quiet residential streets flooded with hard sunshine. Which I tell you because I had no visual to go with it. All I had was the song and the lyrics. Which start off mostly okay; I didn’t take issue with her lack of planning or intentions. So it was sorta spontaneous. Took her by surprise. All right. It’s not what she’s used to, she just wants to “try you on.”
Not quite the best metaphor, I don’t think. Doesn’t “try you on” objectify the recipient? You don’t “try” a person “on”; people are not blouses that are not going to fit correctly and which you have to bring to your tailor to take in the sides. People are not high heels that look great but are totally uncomfortable.
Peoples, as I learned from The Muppets Take Manhattan, is peoples.
“I kissed a girl and I liked it/the taste of cherry chapstick.” And hey, sure, I identify with that. I’ve kissed girls and it’s generally something I like, as well. Some have tasted of cherry chapstick. Or vanilla. I like kisses sans flavor, personally, but that’s a personal proclivity we’ll not discuss farther because it has little to do with the topic at hand.
“I kissed a girl just to try it.” I’ve kissed a couple girls “just to try it.” I prefer to be romantically interested in the girl, because I kinda think just kissing someone you’re not actually interested in dating is leading them on, but then again I’ve gone on first dates I wasn’t entirely certain were going to lead to second dates but still ended with a kiss. Only a couple, mind, but still.
“I hope my boyfriend don’t [sic] mind it.”
Oh, now hold the phone. You’re romantically involved with someone enough to call him your boyfriend but still kissed someone else? Infidelity much? Sorry, here’s where I take real issues. Not saying, of course, that one can’t be in a romantic relationship and kiss someone else; lots of people have open relationships, but the “rules,” so to speak, of such relationships are generally clearly delineated ahead of time, no? I mean, it’s not something that you just go to a bar and start making out with random people, unless you’ve clearly established that’s okay beforehand. Otherwise, it’s really kinda cheating, ain’t it? And sure, I know lots of guys wouldn’t mind it if their girlfriends started making out with other girls, but the reason there, of course, is the visions of threesomes dancing like sugarplums in their heads.
Well, mostly, anyway. Probably. My point is, she kissed a girl without first discussing it with her boyfriend.
And then the next stanza:
“No I don’t even know your name
It doesn’t matter
You’re my experimental game
Just human nature.”
So on one hand: I agree about homosexuality. I don’t believe it’s a lifestyle choice, and I think anyone who does is bisexual (it seems to me that anyone who thinks gay people made a choice about which gender to be attracted to probably, at some point, made that choice themselves. Stands to reason, I think), which means that yes, I agree it’s human nature.
What I don’t agree with is “experimental.” I think there’s a Bill Maher or Chris Rock joke that goes something along the lines of “experiment my ass. Unless you’re wearing a lab coat and goggles, it’s not an experiment. An experiment? Really? So what was your hypothesis, Heisenberg?” To me, again, it goes back to objectification and just trying a person on.
I mean, again, it doesn’t have to be so, but only with the consent of both parties. And given that Katy Perry doesn’t even know the name of the girl she kissed, how can she know she has her consent to do so? The song states there’s alcohol involved; what if this poor girl Katy Perry kissed and whose name she never knew starts to struggle with depression and anxiety due to the questions about her sexuality kissing Perry raises?
“It’s not what good girls do
Not how they should behave.”
Oh, really? Kissing other girls is not what “good girls” do? So all lesbians are, by opposition, bad girls? Good girls shouldn’t be lesbians?
Which, in addition, led me to her other music video for “Ur so Gay”:
1) she’s not talking about gay; she’s talking about emo.
2) she opens by wishing someone would accidentally kill themselves by suffocating on their H&M scarf while masturbating (to Mozart? zuh?).
3) Zooey Deschanel called. She wants her look back, because, like with Jill Sobule, you stole it and don’t even do it right.
4) It sounds like she’s just bitter because emo dude with whom she fell in love and who later dumped her is prettier than she is, thinner than she is, wears make-up better than she does, and dresses better than she does.
And the only reason I link to that video is so you know I’m not making any of that up.
(well. Except for the prettier thing and all that, because obviously it’s just dolls in the video, so I’m just assuming that based on her looks/style)
And look, the funny thing is that I must confess I’m kinda completely a dude when it comes to lesbians (ZOMGLEZBIENSWOOTFTWBBQ!!!!111!). Like Charlie Sheen in Being John Malkovich: “Hot lesbian witches? That’s fucking genius!” And even though Perry never actually kisses a girl in her video, there’s a sequence where lingerie models have a pillowfight, and we all know what happens when lingerie models pillowfight.
What, no? But I thought—
Man, next thing you’re going to tell me is there’s no Easter bunny!
No, but in all seriousness, one of the major objections raised to Kevin Smith’s Chasing Amy was that it implied that all lesbians really needed was a good, hard dickin’ to “cure them of their ways,” so to speak, and I think Perry perpetuates this somehow. Because the way I read the song, she’s doing it for attention and basically because she’s bored, as an experiment. And (and I can’t stress this enough) she already has a boyfriend.
So really, homosexuality is just confusion and experimentation and boredom, because it’s not what good people do, not the way good people behave. (/sarcasm)
I mean, can you imagine if a guy sang a song like this? Can you imagine if Justin Timberlake came out with a song called “Tickle Kiss” about making out with a guy who hadn’t shaved for a week? Nevermind that it’s all the news channels would talk about for a month while whatever evangelical preacher who cared lamented that it was a sign of the moral degradation of society and a signal that the end is NIGH!
But is it okay because it’s a chic–I’m sorry–girl? Am I making too much of girls making out, or do you take some umbrage, too? Why is what’s good for the goose not good for the gander?
Because it debuted before The Dark Knight, which, this past weekend, became the single most successful movie to open ever, the trailer for Zach Snyder’s Watchmen garnered a lot of attention. Lots of (well deserved) drooling, lots of controversy. My particular favorite note came from Galleycat, which said:
“Remember earlier this week, when a well-placed movie trailer turned Watchmen into a hit 22 years after the first installment of the graphic novel appeared in comic book shops?”
As if it were a trailer for the book and not for the upcoming moviezation. Also, I’m pretty well certain Watchmen has been a “hit,” off and on, for the better part of two decades. I’d bet that, if comic books sales systems pulled a Soundscan to remove the bestsellers overall from the charts (because stuff like Michael Jackson’s Thriller and Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon still sells so many copies, so many years later, it would affect the sales reporting), Watchmen would rank up there along with The Dark Knight Returns and Sandman; books that still sell well so long after their original publication.
And so now this is where I admit something: I couldn’t get through Watchmen.
I tried. I picked up the book at some point either during college or shortly thereafter. I’m pretty sure I bought it at Midtown Comics in Manhattan, which I still consider the single coolest comics shop I’ve ever been to. Back then, I was a regular commuter between midtown Manhattan and southern New Jersey, and I often picked up comics or entertainment magazines at Midtown to read on the Greyhound back home. So I’m pretty certain I intended to read Watchmen on the bus, and I know I started it, but I also know I got about 30 pages in before I gave up on it. Even still, that paperback is somewhere in my parents’ basement.
I’ve picked it up again to skim a few times, hoping each time that I would appreciate it, get into it, like I hadn’t before. I hated Shakespeare until my sophomore year of college, when a professor-prompted epiphany finally demonstrated to me how awesome King Lear was. I read both The Great Gatsby and The Catcher in the Rye in high school but appreciated neither until I read them on my own while in college; I reread Gatsby a year or so ago, and discovered it was even better.
I keep hoping I will experience something similar with Alan Moore.
Because it’s not just Watchmen; I’ve read enough people I admire praise him that I’ve tried lots of stuff by him. Promethea. The League of Extraordinary Gentleman. Lost Girls sounded vaguely interesting, because I always like modern fiction that remixes and revamps old stories to change the way we look at them, but I never did pick it up. But I’ve discovered the cool reaction I had to Watchmen is roughly the reaction I have to anything Alan Moore writes. And I really do want to “get” him, I think; I know he did seminal work on Swamp Thing, and I know he wrote a bunch of Superman stories a lot of people I admire think are awesome, and hell, the man gave Neil Gaiman what may be the most awesome nickname ever (“Scary Trousers”), which comes with one of the single coolest nickname stories in history:
But I don’t. I never have, and I am unsure I ever will.
I keep hoping it will come with age. That as my taste becomes more sophisticated, I will begin to appreciate the writing, the nuance, the genius of Mr. Moore.
Because that’s his big thing isn’t it? That he’s such a genius? That he’s so smart, and he crams his writing so densely with references to literature and popular culture, that his work is above the understanding of most mere mortals? From The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen to From Hell and such, everything I’ve seen of his is dense and verbose and meticulous, but more in the way that I want to say, “Yes, Mr. Moore, I understand you’re intelligent. Now if you’ll just stop attempting to demonstrate/prove it, can we please get on with the story?”
It’s because, of course, he wants to “keep out the scum.” No, really, that’s what he says. In this interview with Forbidden Planet, when asked about his to-come novel Jerusalem, the interviewer asks if it will have “one of these intractable, impenetrable first chapters like with Voice of the Fire,” to which Moore replies:
“Now, I did deliberately put the Hob’s Hog chapter in Voice of the Fire. I have been asked since why I did that. The only thing I could think of was, to keep out scum.”
Well, hey, mission accomplished, Mr. Moore. This particular scum? Totally kept out.
The thing about the Watchmen movie, though, is that I totally loved V for Vendetta, so maybe, I figure, this new one will be all right. I know a lot of people hated V for the changes it made to the story in the original comic, but I had the distinct advantage of never having read the comic before I saw the movie, which, on its own, I think, is just spectacular. Having only read a few dozen pages of Watchmen before putting it aside for something I might enjoy more, I can’t help wondering if I’ll have a similar experience with Watchmen; I’m one of the people interested in the movie but with no real investment in it either way. I like a couple of the actors (Crudup ftw! And seriously, the dad from Supernatural? Hell ya!), and the visuals, from what I saw on the giant IMAX screen with the holy-shit sound, were certainly impressive.
I know I probably shouldn’t get too uber-excited about this one yet, as it doesn’t come out until, I think, November, but this is another I just can’t help myself for.
Quantum of Solace:
Now, I figure this is going to big and loud as all get out, just as the first one was. And probably with bloat in places, as the first one was, too.
But I think it also has a lot of potential to be awesome.
The trailer above is 8 minutes, though only the first two are the content; there’s, like, six minutes of filler at the end. But the above trailer had the best aspect ratio and looked the best of all I found, so this is the one I went with.
Just got back from an afternoon IMAX showing of The Dark Knight.
I have very, very mixed feelings about the experience as a whole, not to mention about the movie in particular. Warning: here be spoilers.
First, IMAX is awesome, but you’ve got to sit toward the back of the theater or it’s just too big. I mean, huge. Ginormous. I saw The Matrix: Reloaded in IMAX, and I think it’s one of the reasons I enjoyed it on first viewing.
Second, what is it with long-ass sequels? Seriously, first movie performs well and suddenly people think it justifies three frickin’ hours? It’s like Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest and Spider-Man 3; you cram too much shit into them and they just bloat. I saw Pirates 2 at the El Capitan theater in Hollywood and was restless for at least the final third of the movie.
This movie was at least better in that regard, but it was still a solid twenty minutes too damned long, while during the final ten or so I felt completely bludgeoned over the head by the “message” it was trying to send me home with: blahblahblah hero blahblahblah survivor blahblahblah what we need more than what we want blahblah.
The tone was sporadic: at times dark and intense, at times tedious to the point of boring. I mean, come on, Batman wears a giant layer of body armor he modifies, in the first ten minutes of the movie, to be both faster and lighter, and then, when it comes down to it, when he finally fights the two characters who become the major villains of the movie,
he fuckin’ talks at them!
(and that’s not even mentioning that apparently the Batsuit gives Bruce Wayne a tracheotomy every damned time he puts it on. Batman speaks in some weirdo gravelly mumble like he’s both smoked too many cigarettes and is just about to hurl)
And let’s talk about those villains.
About midway through (so: at the seven-hour mark), Aaron Eckhardt’s Harvey Dent gets half-blowed up and becomes Two-Face. Who has a gruesome make-up job (that comes off on his hospital pillow, by the way), as well as a big ole’ eyeball he can’t lube because he no longer has eyelids, but which never actually seems to bother him. Dent may well be the best character in the movie and certainly has more dimensions (which isn’t difficult, considering most of the others seem to have one); Eckhardt plays him at first heroically and then later tragically.
The other villain is the Joker, as played by Heath Ledger in borrowed vaudeville clothes and make-up he stole from James O’Barr; somewhere, Brandon Lee spins in his grave. Except: Lee actually has motivation in the story, and while Alfred has a nice speech that some guys just like to watch the world burn… well, meh. I’ve heard some talk of posthumous Oscars. I ended that sentence because I didn’t want to mention Ledger in the same one. It’s not a bad performance, exactly; in fact, it’s fun, in parts, and creepy in a few, but overall it’s not even nearly as good as Depp’s in the first Pirates movie.
And I mention that role for a specific reason: two vaguely trickster-y characters in two summer blockbusters lauded for the roles. But Depp’s Jack Sparrow is not just more nuanced but even more consistent than Ledger’s Joker. There’s quite ado that the Joker is just chaos and has no rules, which is all well and good, but ultimately, there’s no motivation for him, so ultimately he doesn’t really want anything Batman can stop him from getting, besides chaos, and that’s just boring.
Ultimately, it’s a bit sad, because Batman, more than most superheroes, is defined by his villains. The Joker is his ultimate nemesis, and I give Nolan kudos for not killing him in the end. I think that was one of the major flaws of Burton’s Batman movies; it should be a rule that you’re not allowed to kill the villain in a superhero movie, because the point of villains in comic books is that they always come back. The Spider-Man movies keep killing characters that have been around in the comics for half a century; the Joker’s been around since even before then, I think.
It’s the one thing Superman Returns got right; you don’t kill Lex Luthor. Superman’s allowed to beat him (that’s why he’s the titular character), but you can’t kill him.
Now, don’t get me wrong; I like the tone Nolan went for, for the most part. It’s like superhero noir–Batman noir–which was cool. And suitably dark, in places. And the characters seem to wrestle with their roles even if it’s not exactly clear what they’re really wrestling with. Wayne seems vexed–very, very vexed–over his cowl, but yet keeps right on donning it. He seems to want to give up the cape racket altogether at some points, but yet he builds some weirdo sonar doohickey that makes for some half-assed special effects in the final act we all saw in the eighties and didn’t really work much better then.
Oh, and I don’t care how strong your body armor is: you don’t jump out of a penthouse apartment in Gotham City, catch a girl on the way down, plunge onto a car you dent, and survive with nary a scratch. Last time I saw somebody jump off anything of great height (in the rad In Bruges), Brendan Gleason literally lost his arm.
But no, Batman and the girl manage to quip between them.
There are nice touches here and there. And I mostly enjoyed the experience. It ain’t a bad movie, or anything.
Still, I had more fun at Ironman, and enjoyed it way more as a movie. There was a superhero movie that knew what it was doing.
When I first started the new blog, I meant Imagery to be not just pictures but videos as well, and not just videos like my cousin playing his guitar. I’ve gotten sidetracked lately, admittedly; I have lots of pictures to post, but my first and greatest priority for the past two months was revising The Prodigal Hour.
Now that I’m done, though, and now that I’m even in the process of submitting for representation, I can do more of what I originally intended.
Hopefully, this will reduce the ambiguity Emily Veinglory complained of in her review of the freeview. I generally tried to be as explicit as I could without becoming actually graphic, but I was trying to capture something simple: if the world were to end right now, if the news were interrupted to report Iran had launched a nuclear attack on the US and there really was no hope for survival, well, I’d want to spend my remaining time makin’ love.
Anyway, that’s the story and its Imagery; as this is the first one, I’m cross-posting it to both blogs. Mostly to announce it.
I have plans for more, I think. But this, as well as the usual pictures, is what to expect.
Hope you enjoy watching it as much as I enjoyed making it.
(edit: unfortunately, I was informed that one of the images I had used was actually the work of an artist who hadn’t licensed his work under Creative Commons, which was the impression I had been working with. While I sort the issue out, I’m pulling the link and the video itself. I’ll repost if I can.
My full memory of the following story is somewhat fuzzy, as is where I first heard it, but the cotent is what counts and has to do with Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (hereafter: IJ4), which is what I wanted to mention. I’ve read several people lament the direction the series has taken (and from what I’ve read about the movie, I tend to agree), but I’ve also read about a direction it didn’t take. That latter is cited with sighs of relief that “It could have been worse,” but still I wonder.
So, the story: I think it was in On Writing–I’m fairly certain it’s Stephen King’s memory of the moment he was sitting in a movie theater, enjoying the serials before the actual flick, when the house lights came on and the theater manager’s voice crackled over the loudspeaker to announce that the Soviets had launched Sputnik, the first man-made object to orbit the Earth. This was in 1957, after the spectacular failure of a couple of American attempts, and, obviously, a full eleven years before the US managed to get a man on the moon. This in addition came during one of the worst periods of Communist fear in American history (McCarthyism began in 1950, when Joseph McCarthy began his investigations etc.).
I bring this up because both Spielberg and Lucas often cite those serials as the foundation for Indiana Jones. Raiders of the Lost Ark began the franchise in 1981, and became, at first blush, pretty much one of the most commercially successful movies of all time. Its reception was better than I would have given it credit for: for a blockbuster, it was critically received well, and was nominated for a go-jillion awards, to match the go-jillions of dollars it made. Lucas and Spielberg based the story on those old serials, which both had watched when they were children.
And the trilogy did well. IJ2 and IJ3 both continued the tradition of the first, though Temple of Doom is kinda the oddball, darker in tone and scope. The Last Crusade featured Indy’s dad, not to mention: Hitler. The Nazis were the villains throughout those three. There was the face-melting tornado in Raiders, which mostly just affected the Nazis, and who can forget when Indy punched the Nazi on the zeppelin in Crusade.
And now IJ4. I have no inclination to see it; I learned my lesson from the Star Wars prequels, thanks much, and to quote ole’ Dubya, “fool me once, shame on… fool me twice… you can’t fool me again.” The reviews I’ve read have been mostly mixed, and the spoiler material has seemed to hit the two cardinal sins of entertainment: both dumb and boring.
But I’ve also read that Lucas had a different idea for the next installment: Indiana Jones and the Saucer Men from Mars, and I wonder if that wouldn’t have been the better direction. Those serials often went from action and Nazis in the forties to suspense and science fiction and Commies in the fifties, didn’t they? By the 50s, we obviously had our eyes to the heavens–we were in a space race, after all, which was why Sputnik came as such a kick in the can. The Day the Earth Stood Still came in 1951.
My point is, it’s obvious the tide was turning, and being that Indy is of that era, the best way to continue the franchise might have been to turn him, too, to his next logical storypoint: out of archaeology and Nazis and into space and Commies. Sure, it’s not really consistent with the character from before, but this movie seems more of a transition, anyway (if Indy doesn’t hand his fedora to Shia by the end of IJ4, I’d be surprised); Indiana Jones and the Saucer Men from Mars could have represented the 50s, when we were petrified with the Red Scare (and where better for the red scare to originate from than the red planet?); from what I’ve read, IJ4 is set in the fifties, anyway. And plus, it could have made a parallel between the red scare and the current political climate (PATRIOT act, al qaeda, terrorists, et al.; was it Twain who said that history doesn’t repeat itself, but it sure does echo?).
Indy’s world has always been exaggerated, from boulders and idols to madman ripping hearts out and 500-year-old knights of the Holy Grail. It’s always been a caricature, the ideal representation of its world, and really, the best way for it to continue is to follow its own lead by continuing to caricature its world (and not in a bad way; Indy’s always been a caricature, mostly, which is why you can recognize him by his hat alone).
Of course, I’ll be the first to admit that going in that direction could have sucked. But, then, from what I’ve read of the latest installment, it ain’t all that great, and shit, if it’s gonna be bad, it might as well go for broke, no? If you’re going to jump the shark, why not use a jetpack?