I saw it, and if memory is accurate, The Road Warrior remains the best Max film (and Mel Gibson the best Max), but Fury Road is getting people thinking and that’s a good thing. [UPDATE: I changed my mind after rewatching The Road Warrior.] Of course, the “Men’s Rights Activists” are pathetic creatures whose rants have worth only for those looking for a good laugh (and, perhaps in some cases, to establish a case for domestic abuse), like the quoted comment in the image above. There are similar fuckwits on the feminist extremist side of things, like the idiots who attacked Joss Whedon recently. And I respect Anita Sarkesian, and don’t think of her as a militant/unreasonable feminist, but she can be pretty reductively doctrinaire at times. This seems to be one of those times.
To me, yeah, sure it’s a feminist film. But neither it nor its characters are all that deep, and it seems that it had to hit a pretty low bar (promotion tied to Eve Ensler’s involvement, some really basic symbols and themes, passing the Bechdel test) to excite a lot of folks into raving that it’s some sort of revelation. In truth, it’s still just a beautifully crafted cartoon with the barest of ciphers for characters including Max and Furiosa.
Here’s Tina Turner (who could remind you that strong women in a Mad Max flick aren’t anything new) with a song of the week for everybody who can keep their heads out of their asses on the subject…
Last year, when the world was going “Oh noes, nakedness and tongue,” I watched Miley Cyrus’s video for “Wrecking Ball” and said, “That’s a hell of a good song.” Apparently I wasn’t the only one, as you can see in our song of the week.
Oh, and I’m so glad to see the Dixie Chicks still rockin’ even after the apocalyptic storm of hatred dumped on them by conservatives when they had the gall to criticize the worst president this country has ever had.
This week’s ABC Wednesday comes on Friday due to indecision and scheduling conflicts, and I’m combining it with the Song of the Week for efficiency’s sake.
I just completed the video game Batman: Arkham Origins.I’d gone into it with lowered expectations because, unlike the earlier Arkham games, this wasn’t written by the great Paul Dini, and it wasn’t developed by the original outfit, Rocksteady, but by a new developer using Rocksteady’s technical assets. I wasn’t just pleasantly surprised, I was blown away. The writing is probably the best in the games, with a strong storyline and some deeper insight into the characters’ minds; this is a grittier Arkham game (if that’s possible), with a more mature outlook. It operates on a more street-level scale than even Arkham City did, and does wondrous things with a full roster of Batman villains. And it has, by far, the best (and least video-gamey) boss fights in the series.
Most notable was the Joker. Now, for years Mark Hamill has owned this part both in animated and game forms. The fact that he wasn’t doing the vocals here was another point of trepidation. But let me tell you, Troy Baker is a phenomenal new Joker, playing the role with a similar manic energy but imbuing it with a subtle raspy cruelty that, I think, actually suits the character better. This Joker is genuinely creepy, and you get to play through Batman’s very first encounter with him. It’s really astonishing stuff. And if you play, just wait until you get to the Joker’s lair…it’s epic.
So, in celebration of Jokers past and present, I offer up this dark little number for song of the week.
“Cold Cold Heart” by The Joker (Troy Baker)
I’ll return next Wednesday with the letter K. I hope you’ll stop by. I’m a writer and I post about a wide variety of non-alphabet-specific topics. Feel free to comment under my posts. If you want to subscribe to the blog, there’s a button in the sidebar.
Also, feel free try to check out my adventure novel Doc Wilde and The Frogs of Doom. It’s been very well reviewed (KIRKUS REVIEWS: “Written in fast-paced, intelligent prose laced with humor and literary allusions ranging from Dante to Dr. Seuss, the story has all of the fun of old-fashioned pulp adventures.”) and is great for action-adventure lovers of all ages.
I was always a huge fan of Veronica Mars. Recently I started re-watching it with Nydia, who’d never seen it. We’re about a third of the way into the second season. Also, today the Veronica Marsmovie hit theaters. So what the hell, here’s the theme song from the show as our song of the week.
A few weeks ago, Nydia and I were watching a KISS concert on video, and we came to the inevitable part when Paul Stanley (in Pete Townsend’s footsteps) smashes an electric guitar to pieces like a sacrifice to the roaring crowd.
Nyd said, “I hate when bands do that.”
“Me too,” I said. “You know there’s a song about it?”
And indeed there is. This one, by one of our greatest singer/songwriters…
As I write this, it is late enough Thursday night that it’s Friday morning. I had a long, dreary fucking day, the depression kicking my plan to be productive right in the crotch, and I napped quite a bit. I’m not getting enough writing done. I’m not exercising enough. I haven’t finished cleaning the Byrdcave.
But, that’s progress. If I’m not getting enough writing done, that implies I’m getting some writing done. If I’m not exercising enough, that must mean I’m exercising at least some. And if I haven’t finished cleaning the Byrdcave, that would mean that I did start cleaning it. And all that is true, though it’s weak tea for a guy who is really trying to pick his life back up after it was stomped flat by the black dog of depression.
Anyway, lots of napping during the day leads inevitably to being wide awake when it’s so late that it’s early. And I’m feeling pretty good. I started playing God of War: Ascension, which got my blood moving, and now I’m listening to great rock ‘n’ roll, dancing like no one’s watching (I’m actually quite good at that), and singing like no one’s listening (not quite as good, though I won a singing contest in a bar in Spain one time, long ago). Mark Twain would be proud.
What better time to write this week’s Song of the Week post, and to bring you into my private party by sharing one of the songs I’m listening to? Rock on.
I’ve been reading to Nydia since last year (we began with Robert Devereaux’s excellent Santa Steps Out,which has been mentioned a few times before on this blog), and lately I’ve focused on introducing her to one of my favorite writers, the late great Robert B. Parker (whose strong impact on my life I wrote about here). The trend began with a viewing of Appaloosa, Ed Harris’s awesome film of one of Parker’s Hitch & Cole westerns (both of which I reviewed here), a nearly perfect movie but for a painful, hideous, off-key performance by Renee Zellweger, though everyone else is wonderful and I think the flick has Viggo Mortensen’s best performance. Then I read the sequel, Resolution, out loud to Nyd (it benefitted from exactly no Zellweger).
This naturally led to discussions of Parker’s most famous character, Spenser, who was, of course, a lot better on the page than he was on TV (Robert Urich did a pretty good job with him, but GOOD GOD Joe Mantegna was miscast like a Zellweger in the last telefilms made of Parker’s books). So I read to her the Edgar Award winning Promised Land, the fourth book but the novel in which the key elements that people tend to associate with Spenser (especially his relationship with Susan Silverman and the presence of the menacing-yet-honorable mob enforcer Hawk) really clicked into place. (This was also the book originally adapted for the Spenser: For Hire pilot, I’m sure for the same reasons). She loved it, and I really enjoyed rereading the book many years after I originally read it.
So, in celebration of our Parkerish season, today’s Song of the Week is an unusual choice: the cool sax intro of the show Spenser: For Hire. If you were also a fan of Spenser, Jesse Stone, Hitch & Cole, or any other Parker creations, feel free to comment below.
Last September, Bruce Springsteen played here in Brazil for the first time in twenty-five years (!), opening his shows with a cover of Brazilian star Raul Seixas’s song “Sociedade Alternativa,” a paean to progressivism, freedom, and the counter-culture. To celebrate my own Brazilian experience, that’s our Song of the Week. If you’re curious to see an English translation of the lyrics, go here; if you want to hear Bruce’s full two hours and forty-three minute show from Rock in Rio 2013 (an awesome set in which, among other things, Bruce and the E Streeters play the entirety of the Born in the USA album from start to finish), go here.
It’s been a rough few months…or years…and I’m on the verge of a major personal overhaul. A Hail Mary pass, even. I’ll write more about that soon. In the meantime, a song of the week…or the years…that really speaks to the jagged depression that has eaten so many of my days since I was a kid…
Everyone is all abuzz about the asteroid flyby and the meteorite strike in Russia this week, and it was quite spectacular, and scary. Some of the video footage from Russia is amazing; watching the fireball appear in the sky through someone’s windshield, burning closer and closer, I couldn’t help but think what a pants-shitting moment that had to be.
It also made me remember my own close encounter with a meteor, many years ago. I survived, just as I survived the time I was struck by lightning, though the meteor was both a lot less dramatic and a lot cooler.
I was a teenager, visiting my maternal grandparents in a backward crack in the world called Valle Mines, Missouri. They lived in a farmhouse off a rural highway with a fair chunk of land, much of it thickly forested. The forest, of course, was the good part, especially to a kid who’d retreated to the woods most of his life as an escape from a horrible life at home. The bad part was the isolation from culture, and the lack of things to do. Nowadays, they probably have a big Teabagger dance or something to pass the time.
Anyway, late one dark country night, I was out back, and for some reason I was standing on my grandparents’ picnic table. The only light was from the windows of the house, and the sky was clear. Suddenly, I saw a thin streak of fire lancing toward me. It passed about ten feet over my head, sputtering into sparks as it fully disintegrated about twenty feet away, just short of the woods. A shard of space rock crumbling to fairy dust before my eyes.
Another cosmic encounter also comes to mind. Back in 1997, Comet Hale-Bopp streaked slowly cross earth’s skies, incredibly bright and visible to the naked eye for a record 18 months. Living in town, it was tough to see because of the light pollution, but I had a wonderful visit with it one cold spring night.
We took my son, Nathaniel, who was just under a year old, on his first camping trip, to Lake Conasauga, the highest lake in Georgia, on Grassy Mountain in the Chattahoochee Forest. It was chilly, but he enjoyed the woods and the lakeshore. Our late great akita, Travis, played with us, and charged through the woods like a white rocket. Towards dusk, we retreated to our tent and snuggled in, and Nathaniel was happy. Happy until night fell, that is, and with it, the temperature.
It was like a switch was thrown. The sun disappeared and suddenly it was below freezing. And Nathaniel started crying. We bundled him in several layers of clothing, including a pair of my thick wool socks and my Polartec jacket, and nestled together deep into the sleeping bags. The crying stopped, and he was content.
He fell asleep, as did his mom. I lay there, listening to the night sounds. We had planned to hike to the top of the mountain at night to see the comet, but it was so comfortable in the sleeping bags, and so damned cold outside them. But, knowing this was my best chance, I mustered the strength. I woke my son’s mom to give her the chance to do likewise, but that wasn’t happening. She, and Nathaniel, were too content where they were.
So I pulled on my cold boots and crawled out of the tent. I let Travis off his leash and the two of us headed up the trail.
When we reached the summit, the world was spectacular. Dark ridges of forest stretched away in every direction, and the sky above was utterly cloudless and perfectly black but for its trillions of bright stars, so many stars, up high, without city lights, without smog. Just that sky, alone, would have been reason enough to clamber up that trail that night.
Hale-Bopp burned out there, a streak of star fire, huge and otherworldly, stark against that dark sky, a titan among the glittering pinpricks that were the stars. I stood there staring at it, the cold forgotten, my dog pacing and hunting night critters, for a long cosmic moment.
A couple of days ago, Barack Obama won his second term as President of the United States, bringing a welcome end to an interminable campaign season, allowing those of us who supported him to relax and breathe easy for a while.
I’m happy things turned out as they did, because overall Obama has been a good president. He might already be a great one had he not been constantly, stupidly obstructed by the most disloyal opposition in American history, had he aimed higher on the things he did manage like healthcare reform, and had he the spine and integrity to actually disavow the more fascistic tendencies of the Bush administration rather than embracing and exceeding them.
I hope now, with the need to worry about the next election out of the way, President Obama will step us his game and act boldly and decisively to make the changes we need as a country. I don’t doubt his ability to do so, only his resolve. He has greatness in him, now he must cultivate it.
After winning like this, it’s easy to gloat. Schadenfreude is a wickedly tasty treat, especially when the other side has relentlessly attacked your freedoms, your patriotism, even your value as a human being. I have literally seen some folks turn on a dime, going from “You are a stupid, ungodly, un-American, traitorous abomination” to “It’s not classy to gloat like that.” So if my relief at winning over people like that is a bit high-handed at times, I can forgive myself.
But my thoughts turn to my many friends, and even my enemies, on the right. I’m glad they lost, certainly, but it’s not entirely for my own benefit. I’m glad they lost for their benefit as well, though they won’t agree, and many of them won’t even be able to see through their grotty filters well enough to understand that I wish them well and hope for the best for all of us. I care about them. I respect them, or at least those who haven’t thrown away any right to respect (like any of them who calls Barack Obama a nigger, for example). And I, and most of us progressives, actually want to work with them towards the common good. Obama wants to, and last time they turned his sincere desire to reach across the aisle into a tactical failing. I hope, after the message they were just sent by the American people, the conservatives in congress accept a working relationship with the president this time instead of holding their breath until, as it turns out, the country turns blue.
So, Casey, could you please play “Land of Hope and Dreams” by Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band for my friends on the right? I hope they’ll leave behind their sorrows, let this day be the last, tomorrow there’ll be sunshine, and all this darkness past…big wheels roll through fields, where sunlight streams, and we can all meet in a land of hope and dreams…
Tim in Decatur
Tim, here’s your song. I hope your friends take this opportunity to reevaluate things, and that for the next four years and beyond, all of us can start actually working together toward solutions that help us all. And remember, we all need to keep our feet on the ground, but keep reaching for the stars…