Archive | November, 2013

“Corporations are people, my friend”

30 Nov

Over the years, the holiday shopping season has gone from crass commercialism to truly depraved crass commercialism. We’re of course referring to news stories of violence at shopping malls across the country as folks seek bargains. (Us, we’re wusses – we wouldn’t go through that ordeal if they were giving away Cartier diamonds.) As we read these accounts of crazed consumers going mano-a-mano with their fellow shoppers, we can’t help but notice that many of these incidents occur at Wal-mart stores.

Wal-mart has been in the news a lot lately, not just for the yearly brawls at its stores, but also for food drives at two of its locations to provide foodstuffs for its employees. When we first read this, we were incredulous, but we dug further and it appears to be true (http://www.businessinsider.com/second-walmart-holds-employee-food-drive-2013-11). This is weird in light of the fact that the Walton family are the richest family in America. This got us to thinking. If Mitt Romney is right that corporations are people (they aren’t), who would Wal-mart be if it were one of us people? We’ve got several ideas from the world of fiction:

Darth Smiley

Search your feelings, Luke. You’re a Walton.

1. Luke Skywalker’s dad
2. Ebenezer Scrooge
3. Mr. Potter from “It’s a Wonderful Life”
4. You-know-who from the Harry Potter books.

And from the world of non-fiction:

There was this guy who frequented the Whitechapel district during the time of Queen Victoria …

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Oil!

28 Nov

According to a letter we received, ‘there may be an Oil[sic] reserve deep underneath the surface of your property.’ This statement was followed by 5 pages of legalese. Whoo hoo! Cue the Walter Huston happy dance! Our troubles are over!

Walter Huston Happy Dance

Cue the happy dance!

Except that they’re not. The last thing we need is the ground water getting contaminated by a bunch of petroleum lovin’ yahoos traipsing about the property. Ya can’t drink oil.

We’re gonna try an’ head ’em off the the pass. Next stop, the county clerk’s office.

Music We Like: O Superman

20 Nov

Laurie Anderson

O Superman. O Judge …

We first heard Laurie Anderson’s O Superman  while in our car. Arriving at our destination, we were unable to leave the vehicle, spellbound by the sounds coming from our radio. Not knowing who created this haunting, ethereal work, we asked all our friends and acquaintances until the artsy guy at work identified the musician as Laurie Anderson.  We headed to the record store first chance we got and found it on Anderson’s Big Science album.  The work did not disappoint. We invited our elder sibling over, and upon hearing it, he summoned his friends to our abode.  We have heard O Superman (For Massenet) (the full title) many times since those halcyon days, and it never fails to move us.

We don’t know if you’ll like it as much as we do, but here is a link. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-VIqA3i2zQw The work is at once haunting, funny, and ominous. How often do you get a combination like that?

Thor: The Hot Mess

17 Nov

We decided to look in on the God of Thunder’s latest exploits, and so we headed out to the multiplex to see Thor: The Dark World. We managed to have a pretty good time at this flick, in spite of the film’s writers.

As Anthony Hopkins intones at the beginning of the movie, at one time,  darkness was all there was, and the Dark Elves liked that just fine (though he does not explain why the elves have eyes or how they got anything done while bumping into each other.)

Thor

What’s going on in your movie, O God of Thunder?

Anyhoo, those mean old elves were defeated by Asgard, so we now live in a world where there’s light and we don’t bump into things.  Unfortunately, those Dark Elves managed to hide a secret stash of Aether, the stuff that can plunge the nine worlds into darkness again.

For the first third of the movie, the writer’s lay on a whole slew of action scenes, hoping we won’t notice that the plot does not make a whole lot of sense.  Things finally get on a better footing when Thor recruits Loki (who’s been languishing in an Asgardian jail cell vaguely reminiscent of the room at the end of 2001) to help defeat the bad old elves.  From then on, the story is a bit more fun, though no less incoherent than before.

This film is enjoyable, as long as you don’t go in expecting too much.  The film could have been a lot better than it is, but we still found things to like and we’re not at all sorry that we saw it.

Never attempt to explain relativity to a 5 year-old

12 Nov

relativity

It’s all relative …

We can’t remember what possessed us to do this, but some years back we took it upon ourselves to explain Einstein’s theory of relativity to our offspring (this was a curious choice, as we don’t really understand the theory ourselves.) We explained that if she could board a spaceship and travel at nearly the speed of light, when she returned, she would find that we, her parental units, had become very old and her little sister had become an adult. She however, would be only, say, eight years old.

We watched this information sink in and we saw her become agitated. Did she find the idea frightening? No, it wasn’t that. Did her parental units becoming wizened faze her? It wasn’t that either. The thing that stuck in her craw was ceding ground to her younger sister. She was the eldest child, and for us to suggest that a spaceship ride could subvert the moral order to the point that she became the younger sibling was just too much. She rejected the entire concept as preposterous.

So, if you happened to be thinking to yourself “Wow, it’s time that I introduced my child to the concept of relativity,” our own experience suggests that it might be better to hold off for a few years (earthbound years, not years at near-light speed.)

Buff is boffo

11 Nov

Gotta love the English language (we certainly do.) Many English words have multiple meanings and here’s one that has no less than five

Car

Polishing cars in the altogether

.

The word “buff” can mean:

1. a brownish-yellow color; tan.
2. To polish or shine.
3. Informal. the bare skin: in the buff.
4. a fan or devotee.
5. Muscular, in good physical shape (slang)

So, a muscular person with a spray-on tan who likes to polish cars in the altogether could be described as a buff buff in the buff buff buff.

Good Evening…

8 Nov

Alfred Hitchcock

Sir Alfred

We’ve liked Alfred Hitchcock movies for years. “Suspicion”, “Spellbound”, “North by Northwest”, and “Vertigo”, are only a few of the Hitchcock films we’ve loved. (We would mention “Psycho”, but we’re too scared to utter its name.) In our eyes, Hitch could do no wrong. That is, except when he could.

In last year’s HBO film “The Girl” and in interviews Tippi Hedren has given, Hitchcock is depicted as an mean-spirited old letch who made Hedren’s life miserable during the making of “The Birds” and “Marnie.” Should we believe Ms. Hedren’s allegations? In reply, we answer “Why not?” After all, Ms. Hedren made herself vulnerable to criticism by coming forward with these allegations.

Several of Hitchcock’s leading ladies are on record as having spoken positively about him. (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/celebritynews/9766218/BBC-under-fire-over-Hitchcock-drama.html) OK, but if these actresses were telling the truth, it doesn’t follow that Hedren must be lying. Eva Marie Saint, Doris Day, and Kim Novak were already established actresses when they worked with Hitchcock. Hedren was newcomer; it’s certainly possible that Hitchcock made the calculation that he could push her around in a way that he never could these other women.

We don’t really know where we’re going with this, except to say that when artists we like are alleged to have behaved in a beastly fashion, we don’t think they should get a pass just because we’ve liked their work. To state the matter another way: can we like an artist’s work even if we discover that they’ve behaved disgracefully? We’re still mulling this one.

DeJungle Presents …

6 Nov

In association with LowBrow Pictures

An adaptation of George Eliot’s famous novel of 1860 …

The Mill on the Floss

We’ve spared no expense…

The Mill on the Floss

Gravitating to Gravity

3 Nov

astronaut

Lost in space

We can’t remember the last time we got off lazy duffs to go out to the movies and sit on our lazy duffs. Today we took in Gravity, which has been all the rage at the multiplex for the past several weeks (though last week it was bested in box office biz by Bad Grandpa – go figure. By the way, when did a movie’s box office receipts become the measure of its worth?)

We’re leery of 3D versions of movies, as we think that 3D is usually a tacked-on gimmick. As showings of Gravity in the ‘regular’ format were few, we saw the 3D version . We’re happy to report that in this case, the use of 3D seems justified and not at all a gimmick.

Some reviews have questioned why Sandra Bullock’s character, an M.D., is calibrating the Hubble Space Telescope, but to us this is mere quibbling. We’re also not too troubled about this or that scientific inaccuracy, as storytelling will always trump science, as any episode from Star Trek will attest. We’ve also read that some found the back story of Bullock’s character superfluous, but we were unfazed by this as well.

The film is gripping, visceral, and we found it quite enjoyable. There is one scene that to us seemed similar in tone to one that appears in Jane Campion’s The Piano when Holly Hunter’s character in that film plunges into the ocean. (We’re not going to say more, because we might ruin the movie for you.)

We’re now feeling a little bit guilty because we chose the escapist intensity of Gravity over the more realistic intensity of a film like 12 Years a Slave, but we’ll save that one for another day.