My life without Sex in the City. (My pop culture deficiencies!)

I don’t remember watching much in the way of T.V. series when I was a kid. I know that by the time I graduated from high school, the only channel I liked was MTV. Almost five years later, post-army, I found that something had happened to MTV while I was away. MTV was still there, but it had met with disaster of some sort (I’ll spare you the gory details – if you’re Gen-X, too, you probably remember the trauma of it), and I could no longer watch.

It was 1992. I’d just moved to Phoenix. I was 23. I started watching Beverly Hills 90210 because I heard it was good. I watched it for a year or so, and when Melrose Place happened, I started watching that, too. Then I got into NYPD Blue. (I did enjoy Hill Street Blues when I was in high school, come to think of it.) Somewhere around 1994, I stopped with the T.V. series because college and work and homework and martial arts and grad school and work and etc. in a big, long-running snowball of busy, and there was no room in my life. I did find time to watch boxing and basketball, though. I don’t know if you remember, but the Suns were on fire in the 90’s. And movies. Always movies!

I finally started watching T.V. series again with Callaghan in 2011. We were living in the boondocks of the Alpes in France and needed some entertainment. But guys – I watched no T.V. series at all for almost 20 years. I missed out on almost 20 years of pop culture!

At least my time watching NYPD Blue led to my grasp of the significance of Dennis Franz’ bare ass running into the ocean in the film City of Angels. And thanks to my time watching Melrose Place, I knew who was responsible for the mainstream popularization of ambient-electronic music (I’m looking at you, Enigma). Melrose Place also explained Bohemian-inspired fashion with short, edgy haircuts on women.

The landscape of T.V. changed over the years, as I was well aware due to people buzzing around me in hysterics. High-quality cable series took off, starting with The Sopranos. Someone invented reality T.V., starting with Survivor. People were losing their minds with these developments. I had no sense of FOMO.

Here are some of the popular series I missed while I was away from T.V.:

  • Seinfeld
  • Ally McBeal
  • Friends
  • The Sopranos
  • Survivor
  • The Osbournes
  • Sex in the City
  • Lost
  • Six Feet Under
  • The Office

I’ll probably never see any of these, especially not Lost, as I remember the furor of the general public when the finale aired. Everyone was pissed off at the way the series ended, and that’s enough of a spoiler alert for me. Plus, I was already in therapy. I didn’t need another reason to go.

Callaghan and I did go back to watch/start watching:

  • Arrested Development
  • Damages
  • Dexter
  • American Horror Story
  • Breaking Bad

And perhaps some others. I wrote these lists off the top of my head. Currently, we’re catching up on Parks and Recreation.

The point of all of this? No point, really. This post is brought to you by a Facebook comment (again, you know who you are) that led to musing on my pop culture deficiencies. I guess all of this is to say that pop culture references originating from these series are mostly lost on me.

For more Tuesday randomness, in lieu of an image that makes sense with this post, have this pic of Callaghan with someone’s dog:

 

Callaghan with dog.

 

Actually, the pic goes perfectly with this post.

DUNkirk. (Non-review movie review!)

Last weekend, we went to see Dunkirk, an historical war drama written and directed by Christopher Nolan. As you may know, I enjoy historical war movies – the operative word being “historical.”

 

 

The film is named for the WWII event that took place in the town of Dunkirk (Dunkerque) on the shores of northern France: the rescue of allied forces hopelessly hemmed in by the Nazis.

I didn’t know anything about this event at the start of the movie; neither did I know much about it by the end. Dunkirk didn’t have a lot to teach. One thing I did learn is that I can gauge the appeal of a film by my degree of willingness to use the restroom in the middle of it. In the case of Dunkirk, the slightest urgency in my bladder had me rushing out of the theater.

Yes. I’d eagerly anticipated seeing Dunkirk, so it was with disappointment that I had no problem at all getting up to use the restroom about an hour in. I was disappointed because I feared missing… nothing. There was nothing worth the struggle of ignoring my bladder so I could sit through the remainder of the movie.

I wasn’t held in my seat by suspense (there was no suspense). I wasn’t invested in any character (there were no developed characters). I wasn’t afraid I’d miss out on great acting or brilliant writing going into the dialogue (there was very little in the way of dialogue).

Dunkirk starts out promising. There’s a scrappy kid on a mission to survive. He’s got his wits about him, and he seems resilient and resourceful. But the film’s human component fails to evolve beyond that. We never get to know the kid. What remains is a maelstrom of impersonal and chaotic drama that consumes the film, resulting in turbulence that had us fidgeting with annoyance and boredom.

I mean, we were utterly bored.

We yawned through scenes that seemed cut, altered, and pasted throughout the film. Did Nolan decide that after reaching the apotheosis of his vision in one scene, he could get away with making a few changes and then “saving as” so he could plug it in here and there? It was as if he re-worked the scenes repeatedly until he could use them to string the film together.

So yes… after an hour of this, I had no fear of missing anything in the 10 or so minutes I’d be out using the restroom.

Let me mention, too, the nuisance that is the film’s soundtrack. Dunkirk’s “music” is a ceaseless cacophony that plays too great of a part in that above-mentioned turbulence. The musical score could have used at least a measure or two of restraint, even a little bit of push-and-pull… not only to give us a break from the noise, but to employ the sound as a device of suspense-building.

Making it all worse was the fact that I later read about the event and found myself wondering whether the film was in fact historical or merely based on historical events. From what I read, it was more the latter. We saw fewer than 10 boats, fewer than five aircraft, and merely one or two hundred troops in peril. For all of its powerful, sweeping cinematography – the film’s great strength – we saw barely a fraction of the magnitude of the evacuation of Dunkirk. If Nolan’s strategy included condensing the event in order to give us a focal point representative of the event as a whole, he forgot to include in that strategy, as I said, an iota of character development to keep us engaged.

In summary, Dunkirk is inaccurate and repetitive. It’s somewhat difficult to follow as its perspective swings from land (specified as “mole”) , air, and sea, which made it often unclear as to where we were in time. The film has no human quality to speak of, which is why, perhaps, we felt no sense of profound triumph at the end of it. If you’re a fan of Nolan’s non-linear storytelling style and you wouldn’t mind seeing it applied to the telling of an historical event, then you may enjoy this movie.

We were drawn to Dunkirk by its trailer. We didn’t suspect that the merits of the film would stop there. We would have been better off leaving it at the trailer’s sweeping scenes, its enticing glimpses of sturm und drang and suggestions of gravitas promising an outcome of stirring heroism worthy of a film made more than 70 years later.

 

Don’t Breathe. (Non-review movie review! NO SPOILERS.)

Don’t Breathe is a thriller/drama, otherwise known as a thrillama. (Adorable, right? If that term didn’t already exist, it does now.) It’s categorized as a horror film because there’s no other way to describe the shit that goes down.

 

thatasianlookingchick-com-dontbreathe

 

Don’t Breathe is an anomaly of a horror film. There’s no hint of the supernatural. No monsters or creatures of lore. No deranged killer wearing a mask while hunting people. No scheming lunatic masquerading as an ordinary person in unsuspecting victims’ lives. No lethal super-virus trampling international borders. No evil aliens or UFOs. No colossal, razor-toothed fish torpedoing out of the ocean. No natural disaster threatening humankind with the apocalypse in a planetary meltdown. No serial killers. No creepy dolls. No clowns stalking children in the Carolinas. (Oh, wait… that’s not a movie. That’s really happening). (It’s not a movie yet, that is.)

There’s just a guy.

And he’s both a victim and a victimizer.

He has reason to do the things he’s doing, as he is being provoked. In his own home.

He does have an obsession, shall we say… but by the time it rears its head, the reveal is powerless to overtake the action and suspense already blurred in full throttle. We’re brought back to the central terror, albeit minus any sympathy we may have had for the guy.

Likewise, a reveal in the backstory of another character serves in the reverse: it seeks to help us feel sympathy for her, lest we’re feeling 100% like “she’s getting what she deserves”… though some of that sentiment may remain. It did for me. There can be no justification for her actions, but at least we’re given some kind of device with which to understand her emotional motives.

Don’t Breathe is smart, unlike a great percentage of its ilk. I enjoy a stupid, campy horror flick as much as the next devoted fan of the genre, but Don’t Breathe is a pleasurable breath of fresh air, as they say. Director Fede Alvarez (Evil Dead) crafted it into an exhilarating and tight ride.

I think I’ve said all I want to say that I can say without spoiling it for you, if you haven’t seen it. This aptly-titled film is worth the price of its ticket. (An alternate title could be Why Everyone Should Know How to Hot-wire a Car.) I recommend this film highly if you enjoy horror and/or thrillamas, if you don’t mind a bit of gore… and a lot of breath-holding.

On our loss of Prince. On Ethan 103’s release of “Punk Rock Fashion Police.”

At first, I was only going to write about a local punk rock band in celebration of their new song. Then Prince died, and I wanted to say a word about that… but I didn’t know where to begin. I don’t know where to begin. There is, in fact, nowhere to begin. Nothing I could say would be enough.

It’s unnecessary and not enough to remark that once again, we’re in mourning for an icon, dazed by the loss of another staggering talent. It’s only been three months since we mourned for David Bowie.

What would be the point of writing anything more than, “Like everyone, I’m shocked and dismayed at the news of Prince’s sudden death. May he rest in peace.” What am I going to do, blog about my shock and dismay every time we lose a brilliant genius of a musical artist? At the rate it’s been going, I’d have to change the title of my blog to That Asian-Looking Chick Who Only Blogs About Pop Culture Icons’ Deaths. No one wants to read that.

Moreover, there are countless beautiful tributes and eulogies out there more poignant and well-said than anything I could write.

Michael Jackson is gone. Prince is gone. The last one standing out of that particular holy trinity of iconic artists (which owned the radio during my teen years in the 80’s) is Madonna. (Maybe I’ll never have to consider writing about her death, because maybe she’ll outlive us all.)

Prince has been everywhere. Sinéad O’Connor made the song “Nothing Compares 2 U” famous, but Prince wrote it. I never forgot that, because my appreciation for O’Connor started with that song, as I’m sure it did for many of us.

So it’s in the climate of our purple-hued sorrow that I want to highlight this fantastic local Arizona band, Ethan 103, in celebration of their new song, “Punk Rock Fashion Police” – right here in this same post. Because Prince would likely appreciate the correlation. I don’t think he’d want us to stop celebrating music that celebrates individualism, even for a minute. Prince was individualism. David Bowie and Prince were among the few whose art helped to make individualism acceptable, starting with their music.

Arizona Native punk rock band Ethan 103 released “Punk Rock Fashion Police” on Monday, an event that those of us who know these guys have been anticipating for months.

 

Caption from Facebook: "Newly recorded song from Ethan 103 titled "Punk Rock Fashion Police" to be played tonight on AZ 98 KUPD (97.9) FM on the Go Punk Yourself radio airwaves hosted by Craven Moorehead. Tune in 7pm-9pm. Www.ethan103.com as official music video releases tomorrow 4/18/2016."

Caption from Facebook: “Newly recorded song from Ethan 103 titled “Punk Rock Fashion Police” to be played tonight on AZ 98 KUPD (97.9) FM on the Go Punk Yourself radio airwaves hosted by Craven Moorehead. Tune in 7pm-9pm. Www.ethan103.com as official music video releases tomorrow 4/18/2016.”

 

Read the review (written by Yours Truly) and watch the video here:

Video – Punk Rock Fashion Police

“Ethan 103 Incinerates the Scene with new song ‘Punk Rock Fashion Police’.” Indeed, they do. And whether or not Prince was a fan of punk rock, I like to think that he would dig the spirit of this song.

Ass Landing.

Last night, I went to yahoo.com to check my email, and when the page loaded, one of many headlines to catch my eye was one about Kim Kardashian’s recent photo-shoot in Paper Magazine. It wasn’t the same as the last headline I’d scanned on the subject, though. I’m not bothering to count how many different Kim Kardashian photo-shoot-related headlines I’ve glimpsed in the last few days.

“Look at this,” I said. “Yet another article about Kim Kardashian’s photo-shoot!”

“Really?” He asked, distracted. I looked over at his screen. He was reading something about the comet landing… like that matters! Everyone knows that Kim Kardashian’s butt pictures are more important.

“You’ve seen the pictures, right…” I prodded his memory. “You know, she did that provocative photo-shoot for that magazine, and now everyone’s freaking out about her butt.”

This was when I discovered that Callaghan was apparently the only person on the planet who hadn’t yet seen the pictures. Being the decent citizen that I am, I clicked on the article and found a link to the full spread to show him. His reaction? Two words.

“That’s spooky.”

Spooky?

“Why is it spooky?” I had to ask.

“Because look at the size of her butt!”

“I don’t get it.”

“It’s like… this big,” he said, holding out his hands to frame an invisible Kim Kardashian butt.

“Well…”

“It’s the size of her butt compared to her waist,” he explained. “Why are you asking me this? You know that it’s spooky!”

“Because ‘spooky’ is a really specific adjective, and its use in reference to someone’s butt is unexpected,” I explained. “When I hear ‘spooky,’ I think of Halloween. Ghosts. Stalkers. You know. Spooky. It means scary in a quiet, obscure way.”

“I am scared, Baby,” he said. “I’m scared by her butt.”

He went back to reading about the comet landing. I said, “Maybe they could’ve landed that spacecraft on Kim Kardashian’s butt.”

This morning, he sent me this picture:

 

One picture. Two stories. You can thank Callaghan.

One picture. Two stories. You can thank Callaghan.

 

Happy Friday, Everyone!

Thrashing around in the Throes

“Mr. Hammond, after careful consideration, I’ve decided not to endorse your park.” (Jurassic Park)

What a great conclusion! What valleys of chaos traversed to reach it! (Hmm, if we were to return to our wilderness home in France, would we find T-Rex and Velociraptor tracks in our wake?) Humans seem to thrive on mayhem. What is it about disaster – especially violent disaster – that mesmerizes us?

“I wonder if robots will ever watch Terminator and figure out that they’re supposed to kill the humans,” Callaghan mused as we were eating our salad the other night. “Maybe it’s the movie that’s going to trigger everything!”

Indeed. When it comes to entertaining ourselves with disaster, it’s not enough for people to kill other people. Nature killing people isn’t enough, either. We need robots to kill us, too.

For me, it’s clowns… call me a traditionalist, or maybe just a person with a weak imagination. For those of you who were wondering, the incessant buzz over World War Z extinguished my preoccupation with zombies. Main-streaming the topic to that over-budgeted extent in a “summer action blockbuster” production finally killed it for me. (I enjoyed Zombieland, but even that was borderline. We did try to watch Warm Bodies recently, but we lost interest not even halfway through, and couldn’t finish it. When it comes to zombie movies, nothing does it for me like Shaun of the Dead.) World War Z might be a great movie, and I might really like it, but its making dethroned zombies from the top of my list of dark, fantastical obsessions. My horror sensibilities are stimulated most effectively in the more obscure tunnels of pop culture. Reading the hundredth little article on the production troubles of WWZ, I turned back to clowns with a perverse nod of respect and restored to them their hold on the freak-out center of my brain.

Clowns scare me because those colorfully diabolical characters embody the insane. Insanity means complexity, and the more complex something is, the more there is to fear. Clowns also tend to be smart, and that makes them terrifyingly unpredictable. Zombies are brainless and therefore completely predictable, engendering fear in the opposite way. (If we use this comparison as a political analogy, which would be the scarier party, then, the Clowns or the Zombies?)

Plus, clowns’ origins can be found in nature. This explains everything:

 

Am I right?

“The Dude’s not in. Leave a message after the beep.”

A while back, we were watching something, and there was a reference to boiling a bunny. Hart of Dixie, perhaps? I think it was Zoe Hart… she was talking to Lavon or someone about Wade – or maybe about George? – saying something along the lines of, “I’m not going to boil his bunny or anything like that.” (I could be misremembering this. Maybe it wasn’t Hart of Dixie at all.) Whatever the case, it made me snicker, and it brought to light an important information deficit. Callaghan didn’t get the reference. It turned out that he didn’t know anything about boiling bunnies, because he’d never seen Fatal Attraction. This threw me off. Callaghan got his American citizenship (he has dual French/American citizenship status) back in 2003, and I don’t know, I guess I’d just assumed that familiarity with Fatal Attraction is some sort of requirement. I mean, shouldn’t it be on the citizenship test? How can you claim to be an American if you don’t know about Glenn Close boiling a bunny? The cliché has become as American as baseball, hotdogs, apple pie and Chevrolet, as the old commercial jingle goes. It’s circa 1980’s American Pop Culture 101 material.

So we watched Fatal Attraction, effectively rectifying the situation. Now, Callaghan has all the background he needs on Glenn Close and boiling bunnies, and he is enriched. His life is complete. What would he do without me?

Being dedicated pop culture afficionados, we ventured downtown Friday night to the Alamo Drafthouse Cinema (Ritz) for The Big Lebowski Quote-Along, so we could sit in a theater with a bunch of fellow Big Lebowski geeks and shout out the famous lines captioned on the screen (lines we all know by heart, anyway), waving our glow sticks for The Jesus and swinging our oversize blow-up baseball bats to show Larry what happens when you fuck a stranger up the ass. Our waitress brought a White Russian for Callaghan, a tall glass of ice water for me, and a huge metal bowl of the best movie theater popcorn we’ve ever had.

The timing was great, since we’d been overdue for a Big Lebowski fix. Satiated, we emerged from the theater onto the thumping street. 6th Street in Austin at almost 2:00 on a Saturday morning looks like this:

 

Austin closes off vehicle access to 6th Street during the night on the weekends. The bar-hopping pedestrian party needs all the space it can get.

Austin closes off vehicle access to 6th Street during the night on the weekends. The bar-hopping pedestrian party needs all the space it can get.

 

6th St, Austin (6/28/13)

 

6th St, Austin (6/28/13)

 

Even the going-home was entertaining! The bus that took us back to our apartment is dubbed “The Night Owl,” but it should be called “The Party Bus,” because that’s exactly what it is. From 6th Street to our apartment. Direct.

No In-and-Out Burger on the way home for us, though. Nor music by the Eagles. You see what happens, Larry?

“Go then, there are other worlds than these.”

…said Jake Chambers in The Dark Tower epic series by Stephen King. Better words to capture the essence of escapism have never been spoken.

Whoa! This last week’s been about packing, cleaning, taking stuff to the dump, hanging out with a friend who came to stay for a couple of days, and working around technical difficulties – up until this minute, in fact – with both our internet connection and my computer AC adaptor malfunction.

I’m flipping through my agenda, the book in which I keep track of exciting things coming up. I like looking forward to stuff. I have post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) with secondary clinical depression, so looking forward to stuff is like the key to my well-being.

Mainly, right now, I’m looking forward to moving, and that’s a big thing. It’s exciting, but it’s big. It’s so big that it’s not on my list of things that I’m looking forward to, even though I am. It’s the small things that make a difference, because they don’t carry the caveat of stress that the big things do. The small things are just there to be anticipated. They are fluff, and fluff cannot be underrated.

Here, I’ll share this with you… Fluffy Things I’m looking forward to, in no particular order:

1. The return of Arrested Development (T.V. series) in May. The Bluth family. Because the chicken dance matters.

2. The next episode of The Following (T.V. series). Thank you again for this recommendation, Arne F.!

3. Stephen King’s The Wind through the Keyhole. Because Roland “The Gunslinger” Deschain, aka Roland of Gilead in the aforementioned Dark Tower epic series, is my fictional boyfriend.

I’m not an aficionado of the fantasy genre, but I’m obsessed with The Dark Tower, which is a brilliantly crafted literary collage of fantasy-horror-western-drama. When I finished all seven books in the series, I sought out the short stories that featured Roland. After that, I had to accept the fact that I’d read everything with Roland in existence. Life went on. Then, last week, we were browsing through the books in the English section at Cultura, and guess what! I discovered The Wind through the Keyhole. How did I not know about this publication? It came out last year. It’s a new installment in the Dark Tower series, but it can be read as a stand-alone novel, too. I’m forcing myself to wait until I’m on the airplane to crack it open.

Yep. Settling down on the plane over the Atlantic with this new Dark Tower book on my tray is going to be my reward to myself for surviving the stress of moving.

4. Lee Child’s new Jack Reacher novel Never Go Back (August). Because… Reacher!!

5. American Horror Story, Season 3 (October). This new season is called “Coven,” and a lot of it will be filmed in New Orleans. I’m sure it’s going to be as richly atmospheric as the first two seasons. Can’t. Wait.

(If we’ve been friends forever and you’re confused because you never knew me to watch T.V., let me explain what happened: Netflix streaming. And we started to watch Bob’s Burgers. That was the beginning of it. Or the end of it, depending on how you look at it.)

I also used to think that I’d never be interested in reality T.V., but then? Cake Boss.

For those of you who don’t know, the Cake Boss is this guy called Buddy who owns Carlo’s Bakery in Hoboken, New Jersey. The show follows Buddy and his family and crew as they create these freaktastically detailed specialty cakes custom-ordered by people for various occasions and events. The Cake Boss takes on some spectacular challenges; he seems to be the type of person who works well under pressure, thriving in merging funnels of drama and disaster, always managing to deliver his splendiferous works of sugary art in style. “NOW WHO WANTS TO EAT SOME CAKE?!”

Callaghan and I have an ongoing banter about what cakes we’d order from the Cake Boss. Callaghan knows that I’d love to have one for Valentine’s Day. Every once in a while, I’ll suddenly ask him… wait, okay, let me do it right now…

“What cake are you going to order for me?” I’m calling it out, since he’s in the other room.

“It’s a surprise… you’re not going to know. Heheheh! Coquine! You thought I was going to tell you, hein?”

See? He answered immediately, like he was waiting for me to ask! He has no idea that I’m writing this, and that I just keyed in what he said, word for word.

Shoot. I mean, okay, I’m not desperate to know. I’m not going to secretly administer a truth serum so he’ll tell me. I’ll enjoy being surprised.

It’s just fun to think about what he might order. It’s fun to think about getting, say, a Jack Reacher cake from the Cake Boss. Or a beautiful Dark Tower cake, featuring red roses and lobstrosities.