Thursday, June 28, 2012

Films that Closely Followed the Book

People positively love bitching about how an optioned book butchers the original printed story, but rarely do we see anyone comment on the reverse.
Yesterday, I was doing a search for this exact thing but many of my searches were returned with names like Fight Club (where the ending is completely changed), Brokeback Mountain (which was expanded substantially off the 13 page story), and One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest.
So, being sure that people just picked book-based cinema they liked, I've made my own list.
Everything here keeps closely to the story, tone, and themes of their original ink inscribed counterparts.

5. A Clockwork Orange
A know that people will disagree, but we must bare in mind that Kubrick's version was done off the American version of the novel, the one missing the final chapter that rejects senseless violence. With that in mind, the tone of dystopian society swathed in violence from the state and the citizens is well kept, and the dialogue is nearly word for word.

4. Harry Potter and the Philosopher's/Sorcerers Stone
Back before it donned on Warner Brothers that the could slap 'Harry Potter' on any movie trailer and the fans would show up regardless of quality, they cared about those books its started as and for two movies did a goddamn job of adaptation.

3. Running With Scissors

Ryan Murphy manages to do something exceptionally rare for a film based on memoirs and that's to not fuse a bunch of characters into one.

2. No Country For Old Men

I don't know how many times I can rephrase 'well translated tone' and 'original dialogue but the film version has both.

1. A Scanner Darkly
Written during Philip K. Dick's prolific explosion of science fiction novels, not only is the tone, every motif, and the exact dialogue translated perfectly to the silver screen, its almost improved by the disjointed soundtrack and use of interpolated rotoscope animation.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

A Word of Warning if You've Read '50 Shades of Grey'

I don't delve into my personal life much on this blog, but today it seems necessary. On occasion I feel the need to go out to dark place and receive a good old-fashioned pedestrian flogging. These dark places are S&M clubs.

Listening to Lady Sovereign is
another intense form of masochism 
While my knowledge of this places only spans a meager three cities, I feel that there are some silly mythologies that need clearing.
After Rihanna's lazily named song 'S&M' and especially since the publication and over and almost forced popularization by the publishing houses of '50 Shades of Grey' and its sequels 'Same Story without Initial Intrigue' and 'Lazy Recycled Plot' S & M seems to be back in vogue.

Angelina Jolie helped as well

Maybe E.L.James helped a lot of people discover their inner kink
but at the same time I've heard my S&M orientated friends complaining at the number of green horns coming in and acting a fool.

Firstly, for most people, sado-masochism is not the adventures of a weekend warrior, it's an entire lifestyle complete with its own sub-culture and rules that go along with it. And no not break the rule and get 'tortured' kind, the break them and get ostracized kind.

Moreover, when you come in there's no magical registrar when you enter that asks your fetish/kink/whatever and sends you to the other side of your ampersand. It's a society, you network. So if you're not social don't bother.

The Dangers of Romanticism

When you read the Grey series it describes everything as sexy, interesting, and exciting. Once the tone is set, your brain takes over and fills in any non-described elements in the same manner, so E.L.James has created a really romanticized version of S&M culture revolving around a gorgeous protagonist and her equally fantastic cohorts. The book is an idealized and enthralling mirror that takes out the boring parts of the characters' days (as does most fiction). So don't expect you're life to turn into something novelesque because you've chosen to play around with whips.

I think the biggest disappointment that newcomers will find coming to the club or scene or whatever is the attractive levels. Movies like The Matrix trilogies, or Secretary would have their viewers believe some unfortunately false elements.
  • Not everyone is young
  • Not everyone is beautiful, or even in shape
  • Not everyone is rich
The Matrix's Club Hel, a beatiful lie

The vast majority of people who participate in sadomasochism are just like the vast majority of people you see in every day society. The proportions of attractiveness, youth, and money are pretty much the same. 
So while a new comer might expect the dark forest to be full of sexy nymphs, vampires, and fair folk, you should know those types are few and far between. You're more likely to just find (sigh) humans or even worse trolls.

Of course there are paid dominatrices in the world (maybe even in your town) but they are a minority working for a minority. The greater majority of them have daytime jobs anyways.
Concerning money, those full leather suites may look cool and have a custom made whip or natural horse hair may seem like a good idea, but damn those things are expensive. Go online right now and look at prices or head to your nearest sex shop and take a gander. Triple digit numbers almost consistently.

Here a sight gladly willing to sell you the rope, for a meager 50 bucks. Good luck with the corsets.

What this is meant to remind you is that it's a lifestyle to be respected and you should avoid using as a tool to create a wild 'when I was young' story.

Dedicated to D.S.

A Few Thoughts on Memory

Firstly, I’d like to remark that hindsight is not 20/20, it is something deluded to fractional impossibility of Carroll or Escher style porportions by poor recollection, supplanting confabulation arising from any emotion under the sun. Pride can warp the past for any mnemonic  interloper, guilt even more so. Most people look backwards polish the scraps of the past into heterocosms of nostalgia and why not, there’s no memory police to say nay or any janitors of Mnemosyne to clean up. 

A.L.M. con ti, niente e impossibile

some colorful ants

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Untranslatable Words (From English)

Search Google for untranslatable words a there are whole sites dedicated exclusively to words that the English lexicon fails to find an equivalent for. Oddly, I've never found a list of words that don't translate from English. So I made a list.

Butter Face
Girl with a great body, but her face is...unfortunate

The Itis
That sleepy feeling after you eat a big meal and craze a nap

My itis on the Moscow metro

Buddy who helps you get laid when you go out

The drinking before you go out

usually with knife-wielding primate

(see below)

Breaking the Seal
That first time you pee when drinking that makes you pee every 30 minutes thereafter

Things to do Before Graduating FSU

  • Perform the Tennessee Waltz (every bar along the strip)
  • See a Show at the Moon
  • Walk along The Rape Trail (St. Mark's Trail) at night
  • Be Thrown in the Fountain (bonus if it's your birthday)
  • Participate in Dance Marathon
  • Participate in Relay for Life
  • Dress well for Club Pub
  • Go to a Frat Party
  • Happy Hour at Pots
  • Ride Night-Nole drunk
  • Eat Breakfast for a dollar
  • Pre-game for a Football Game
  • Go to a Homecoming Game
  • Spontaneous Seminole Chop in a group at a non-sporting event 
  • All-nighter at Strozier
  • Canoe/Kayak/Paddle Board at the Rez Center
  • Wakulla Springs
  • Sister Sinks
  • Bear Paw (must be drunk)
  • See a step-performance on Market Wednesday
  • Eat at Po'Boys
  • Eat at Gordo's
  • Visit Tennessee St. McDonald's drunk

Zef and Poshlust - Die Antwoord and R. Kelly

My old Russian professor was once attempting to explain the concept of poshlust' to us and through Soviet dentures and style of lecture better classified as informative rambling, she failed. Entirely.
This led a brave freshmen asking if it was like zef, a South African word to describe the qualities of the consciously low class. Our professor not understanding asked for further explanation and was given Enter the Ninja by Die Antwoord a South African self proclaimed zef group that showers itself in a kitsch and white trash persona. Here's the video.

After a minute the Russian emigre had enough and proudly rounded her lips to convey every shade of the initial nasal sound in 'no.'
After a second attempt to explain involving a Nabokov quote -

"Corny trash, vulgar clich├ęs, Philistinism in all its phases, imitations of imitations, bogus profundities, crude, moronic and dishonest pseudo-literature"

Here the young girls courage swelled again and with her manual extremities skyward inquired its relationship with R. Kelly's Trapped in the Closet.

For those who don't know, Trapped in the Closet is rapper R. Kelly's bizarre attempt at combining rap and opera to create a hip-hopera. Through a cliche ridden story, poor acting, no concept of was an opera actually is, and the use of a SINGLE beat THROUGH THE ENTIRE 2 plus hours, he fails.

Needless to say, our professor refused to be led to YouTube's dark clutches a second time, but I believe the girl was almost correct.

Poshlust' is used by an author to make a character unlikable often foil a protagonist. R. Kelly manages to supersede poshlust' by making an entire feat or nothing but. By having the story be based solely on adultery with flat characters and absolutely no character development he made us hate them all. Trapped in the Closet chaotically oozes poshlust' with no foils whatsoever.

So why am I discussing this with zef. Let's review.

  • Poshlust' is a flat character acting with aggressive philistinism, who try to appear intelligent.
  • Zef is a normally flat character acting with aggressive kitsch and ignorance who want to appear kitsch and ignorant.
Zef acts as the hyperbolic parody to poshlust'. Poshlust' characters speak in cliches, listen to some Die Antwoord lyrics, which are actually cliches.

"you can't do this, you can't do that. Who said so?"
"I do my own thing...Maybe I answer, Maybe I'm busy."
"getting closer to God...I flow from the heart."
"Yippee ki yay."
"Why is your (dick) so big. All the better to love you with."
"I know what you're never gonna get it."

Or choruses of

"I don't need you" "Rich Bitch" "Wat kyk jy (What you looking at)"

Everything zef is both kitsch, consciously low-class, tawdry and also incredibly random. Any feeling of sensibility is lost to a combination of kitschy gimmicks and self imposed Dadaism. So I want to expand zef to all those shows and music videos that are baffling, but must be seen, not hilarious, but hypnotizing. And while Die Antwoord is certainly a prototypical example, with this re-appropriation of nomenclature we can give a classification to some work by

Odd Future

Das Racist

And literally everything by Leslie Hall

(All of these video have at least 1,000,000 views)

And Williams Street

The adventures of fries, a milkshake, and uncooked meat for example

12 oz. Mouse

China, IL

I pronounce all these zef.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Postmodern Horror: The Slender Man Mythos and House of Leaves

For any avid readers of novels riddled with mind-screws, multiple narratives, and horror you've probably read Danielewski's House of Leaves, for those who haven't a brief summary. A family moves into a house, the father (for no discernable reason) decides to measure out the house to every inch to make sure it meets the dimensions in the schematics. He finds and incosistancy of 1/4 inch and this bothers him to the point of obsession, then the dimensions of the house change and he and some mates go explore an enormous cavern inside of a closet within the house and the horrors commence.
yeah...something like that

But what fascinates most readers is its style. Footnotes can go on for pages, their are books within books, multiple and distinctive narratives.

In the last few years along the underbelly of the internet, The Slender Man Mythos has been popping up. Stories about him describe a mysterious being who rather slim, faceless, and kills or torments victims into insanity.

What's different about Slender Man is that he is the product of no one author. He is a mutated urban legend that never gathered enough momentum to escape cyberspace. Anyone with a keyboard and wifi can add to the story and that's what makes him more opaque and uncomfortable.

Somehow they reminded me of each other.As if they were two sides to one coin complimenting and foiling the other.

Slender man is the logical extreme and foil to Danielevski's work. Here's how.
  • Within House of Leaves, Danielevski masquerades as at least a half dozen authors, for Slender Man the mythos is actually built up around the stories of more than two dozen authors
  • The dimensions and measurements of the house are subject to change, Slender Man's entire story is subject to change due to unlimited authorship
  • Both entities often drive their victims to madness but rarely kill them outright
  • Their method of killing is not well defined
  • Both have no faces (bonus points because Slender Man has a head)
  • Both are mute
  • Both have no explained motives
  • The house exists in a fixed location and is stationary, while Slender Man can be anywhere and stalks.
  • The house destroys a family, Slender Man prefers solo victims
But the best part of these two is that they represent different evolutions of a story in the same post-modern world. House of Leaves is like Community, in that some of its only good if you get the reference. The Slender Man is like what Japan does to every single popular story. Take Battle Royale, it has book which led to movie and a manga and sequel and merchandise etc. Slender Man has films, stories, comics, art, and forthcoming books. It proves that even no one is getting paid people love different flavors of the same damn desert.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

The Many Avatars of 'The Crazy Guy' in Sitcoms

Everyone can agree that Seinfeld really set some trends in the ways of sitcoms. It told us that our main characters didn't have to be immediately likable, but that they could be shallow, petty, and we would still watch them and sympathize with them. And while the trend for more realistic and less noble characters has been continued it also set into foreground a new character, 'the crazy guy.'

You see, before if there was a crazy character, his zaniness and social ineptitude was the main draw (Mork and Mindy, Kenan and Kel) or they were a gimmick character (Family Matters). Seinfeld brought in Kramer as a median, as character in a larger cast who neither hogs the focus nor does he shy away from it. Half his appeal is his interaction with other main characters as we've all enjoyed George's endless consternation at Kramer's lifestyle.

They success and culture magnitude of the show has left us with the idea that we now need a crazy guy to pull the characters into wacky situations they couldn't have created on their own and make them more relatable as foils to someone off their rocker, yet hilarious.

So Examples are in order

Cosmo Kramer - Seinfeld
Source of Income - ???
Ability to Land Women - Fantastic and Unexplained
Catchphrase - Yes
Wacky adventures outside of group - Constantly
Least sober in Group? - Probably

Lewis - The Drew Carey Show
Source of Income - Drugco then ???
Ability to Land Women - Oddly good for his character
Catchphrase - Sort of
Wacky Adventures Outside of Group - They've involved gorillas and pools of margaritas
Least sober in Group - Works at a Drug company

Quagmire - Family Guy
Source of Income - Pilot and ???
Ability to Land Women - Baffling and Rapey
Catchphrase - Many
Wacky Adventures Outside of Group - Indeed
Least Sober in Group - Depends on the episode

Taco - The League
Source of Income - ???
Ability to Land Women - Fantastic, Unexplained, and Effortless
Catchphrase - Sometimes
Wacky adventures outside of group - Yes
Least sober in Group? - Always, and lampshaded

Barney Stinson - How I Met Your Mother
Source of Income - ??? works in same building as Marshall
Ability to Land Women - Fantastic and Legendary
Catchphrase - So many
Wacky adventures outside of group - Referenced in nearly every episode
Least sober in Group? - Normally

This whole thing is weird because they are all iterations of the same hyperspecific trope character. But you many say, but that's only five characters. So I extended it to more shows focused on friends.

Phoebe - Friends
Source of Income - ???
Ability to Land Men - Sure
Catchphrase - Sort of
Wacky Adventures outside of Group - Yes
Least Sober in Group - Definitely

The Slutty One - Sex in the City
Source of Income - Party Planning but it makes no fucking sense
Ability to Land Men - Every appearance
Catchphrase - More like quotes
Wacky adventures outside of group - Constantly
Least sober in Group? - Yes

Jessa Johansson - Girls
Source of Income - Nanny? (Like Samatha makes too much money)
Ability to Land Men - Seduces for fun
Catchphrase - Like Samatha, just memorable quotes
Wacky adventures outside of group - Constantly
Least sober in Group? - Yes

Turns out the need of a wacky wheel on sitcom car is something women support as well.

This fascination with characters that float in a limbo between charm, surreality, and insanity has evolved to the point where they've supplanted the main cast of straight men entirely.

Neurotic and Relatable Crazy
Nutty and Zany Crazy
Batshit Crazy

For all of these only Jim and Stanley of The Office can be considered a sane man in a cast of otherwise crazy.

The Buddy Sitcom or Three Guys, A Girl, and Some Sexism

As I've said, my next door neighboors are in love with How I Met Your Mother and they got me in the show as my asking to borrow sugar or milk just turned to me coming over to see Neil Patrick Harris do something kitschy and find out when Ted finally pokevolves into Bob Saget.
After being jilted as a viewer by the fantastic pointlessness of Stella, I opted to watch some of the earlier episodes. In the very beginning of the show Robin does not exist as main character, she's just some extension of Ted's love life. The cast proper is just Barney, Lily, Marshall, and Bob Saget's retroactively younger persona. The show centers around them, we learn about Marshall and Lily's relationship and how crazy Barney is and how Ted needs to find love right fokken now, but Robin as a character is flat.
So we have three guys and a girl and this for some reason struck me as relevant. Then I started thinking about other sitcoms and realized how consistent this was for shows about friends.
Mind you, this is only in reference to shows about friend who's only connection is friendship, so this excludes all family sitcoms (Arrested Development, Everybody Loves Raymond, Home Improvement, Boy Meets World, Two and a Half Men, etc) or sitcoms pertaining to co-workers (Scrubs, The Office, 30 Rock, etc). If the show calls for just friends, you'll have 3 guys and girl or something very close.
So let's move backwards.
How I Met Your Mother (before we all loved Robin)
It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia (before Danny DeVito jumped on board)
The Drew Carey Show
Then we have shows that fall in nearly the same formula, but only add guys
It's Always Sunny In Philadelphia's later seasons
The Girl was cast as eye-candy
The Girl is in-universe eye-candy
Why this is Sexist
Already we're seeing a pattern of disproportionate gender representation. It seems that on shows aimed at a general audience (men and women) there remains a dearth of ladies to go around. So while a family sitcom can have an even distribution (cause it would be weird if there were no aunts or moms) and work sitcoms need the equality (cause it would be really weird if Jim and Dwight from The Office just worked with a bunch of dudes), the buddy sitcom is where network sexism really shows its face.
I'm sure a lot of women want to bring up Sex and the City, Will and GraceThe New Adventures of Old Christine, or something along that vein, but being realistic those are shows that were never made for a general audience. They were made for the viewer with a penchant for expensive shoes and lacking a Y chromosome.
That 70's Show and How I Met Your Mother are the only shows that come to mind that actually have more than a lone girl on the main cast. Of course they loose points both having female characters who are in relationships (nearly) the whole show. So don't expect too many single and independent ladies on the primetime sitcom slot.
But good job Community on having a nearly even cast, 4:3 is impressive ratio...unless we count Chang.
Which the picture on Hulu does...well 5;3 ratio

Interconnectivity in Media Part 1 : Films with Footnotes

My next door neighbors love weed and How I Met Your Mother, and more so the two in combination. I'm often over at theirs watching Neil Patrick Harris be awesome and Ted be, well a pussy. Then they started referencing the real world, moreover in real time e.g. Marshall referencing that Stella hasn't had sex since The Da Vinci code came out as a book. This put actually contemporary media in an elevated place.
With the glut of sites for watching TV and movies online and the increasing connectivity in society, the televisual media has followed suite and done so with gusto. Due to a terminal combination of not owning a television and not giving a shit, I catch the hot new shows with consistent irregularity, save a few (Family Guy, Primeval, Misfits, The Office, etc.)
James Woods' stomach vagina teaches us the evils of televisual addiction
But even among the dearth of shows and movies that I watch, I've noticed a significant trend of them recognizing one another as media.
On Family Guy, Peter questions when/why Ted from How I Met Your Mother eventually pokevolves into Bob Saget, the show's narrator (with good reason). On How I Met Your Mother, Marshall compares he and Barney's lives to the characters of Mad Men.
I'm wholly unsure what my reaction should be. Are shows admitting to their ephemeral statuses? How can they be so unafraid of isolating their audience to only those who watch other shows?
I blame the Simpsons and  Seinfeld's constant and carefree references to both then-current events and pop-culture throughout their runs. Seinfeld is still hilarious, but when I watch re-runs, like the episode where Jerry's exceptionally Jewish mother complains about his disrespect for Schindler's List I notice that my fellow viewers who are younger are missing out on the funny. As this becomes more common, the concept of timeless comedy is being tossed aside in favor of jokes for the nonce that can become irrelevant and opaque a few seasons after its debut.
Dinosaurs,  irrelevant to this post
My real worry is when this sort thing becomes more widespread in movies. In Zack and Miri Make a Porno the cameraman discusses J. J. Abrams' Lost, the epitome of television drama blueballs, mocking its commonly known sporadic pacing, dense storyline, and lack of answers (again, with good reason). The operative words are 'commonly known'. At the time of the its release in 2008 ,with Lost having been off the air for 2 years now, a rewatch makes the joke grow more and more stale, especially if someone never watched Lost to begin with.
Will the future result be DVDs (no those too will be irrelevant) with optional asterisk to appear whenever a joke becomes too esoteric?
It seems that the only branch that is immune to the compulsive need to reference something else is Science Fiction. Possibly due to science fiction writers' need to create new universes.
In all fairness, Dune is the shit
While running from giant sea snakes/rock monsters/bats/robots/monster of the week and fighting the evil corporation is a timeless and accessible story, the writing is rarely good enough that it doesn't also get pushed into some terrible dead of uninterested viewers.

American Dialects preserved by Drugs

I tried marijuana once. Then repeatedly for between my junior year of high school and sophomore as an undergraduate. It was a phase I went through that help me waste a lot of time, meet a lot people, and learn an enormous amount of slang.
Having not purchased in more than a year, I forgot the absolute lexical fluidity in the drug user's cant so when I was watching my little and his roommate refer to hits from a gravity bong as a swat I was incline to comment.
an ultimately irrelevant photo
We've all been on youtube, better yet we've all watched television, even better yet we've all read a newspaper. What these three media all have in common is that they each help to standardize a language and render null dialectical differences. The various forms of Italian in the 1920's could almost be viewed as different language. Today, thanks to mass media influence standard Italian has not only gained a foothold but is massacre-ing regional variants.
take that dialetto Romanesco!
The same is widely true across the States, but with some exceptions, specifically drug lingo. I came to learn that swat is a hit from a g-bot common used in the St. Augustine/Jacksonville area of Florida.
On shows like WeedsBreaking Bad, and any show where a character does drugs, they can say herb, ganja, pot, cannabis because they are widely known. To incorporate a specific area's slang would only serve to confuse and alienate the audience as opposed to simply using a commonly known term like grass. Shows don't even touch on the various strains and grades of drugs (save the occasional chance for a writer to make up some ridiculous name like 'The dank stank' or 'Big Daddy Snowbeast' because its confusing for the housewife tuning in for a story that exciting and sexy because someone mentioned hash.
While regional names for U-turns might die out (except in Minnesota)
for them its called 'whipping a shitty'
the ones for weed, cocaine, and ecstasy will retain their geographic loyalty.
So when in the future when California and New York based telemedia has destroyed all differences in American dialects, you might only be able to tell that someone's from Texas by their word for weed.
and the hat