June 28th, 2004

there!, Hello

Reaching Bottom

Ah, Monday.

Well, I tried to log on to this silly blog thing and had no luck, so therefore, here I am. I didn't attempt it over the weekend; I had other things on my mind...

Well, Friday was nice. Plum pie, yummy, though it might have been a little more tart. Chinese buffet for dinner. We tried to see *Fahrenheit 9/11*, but it was sold out until midnight -- thus we saw it Saturday morning, at its first showing, which was also, apparently, sold out. I enjoyed the movie, and had no real conception of the labyrinthine melange of corporate interests behind the war in Iraq... I had an inkling, sure, but no suspicion of the full picture.

Saturday afternoon, I watched the first three episodes of Firefly -- Joss "Buffy: the Vampire Slayer" Whedon's sf/western flavor show. Quite interesting. With a Baldwin. Too bad that show was cancelled. Interesting characters, though at times, they show some correlation to Buffy characters.

Had a reading bonanza this weekend. Finished Robert Parker's *The Godwulf Manuscript* (which was not bad for a first novel, though it feels its age, somewhat), Lawrence Block's *A Time To Murder and Create* (the second Matthew Scudder Crime novel, this one about blackmail and, of course, murder. Interesting series, so far), and Ira Levin's *The Stepford Wives* (thank you Kat for loaning it to me).

Unlike the movies, *The Stepford Wives* novel makes no effort to explain the behavior (as either the results of actual transformation or control), and therefore offers up the suggestion throughout the text that the main character may be imagining everything. The final chapter shows a definite change, and does not attempt to explain it. Interesting, though I need to chew it over. Thus, what the men do to subjugate the women is not important, the author says, merely that they do it. Perhaps most importantly, they do it unchecked. So, is the core of the book that married people no longer communicate? Or that men, still driven by old man id, is incapable of accepting a flawed human being as a mate... I am reminded of one of the scatalogical poems of Jonathan Swift, wherein a narrator breaks into his paramour's private chambers, and touches all her belongings, extolling her virtues, until he discovers a repository (of some stripe), where he thrusts his hands, and discovers, to his horror, that it is a chamber pot repository and that "Celia (the paramour) shits"! This acts as a turning point for the narrator, and thus devalues every other aspect of the woman, removing her goddess status... This in turn, recalls an episode of Jerry Springer, wherein the guest was a fellow who refused to marry 'whores' (anyone that is not a virgin), including his current girlfriend (he was the one who took her virginity). Most men are incapable, it seems, of accepting anything but ideals. Following a Swift reference with Jerry Springer, alas, may very well blow my credibility in this subject.

Sunday, we attended a farewell party for Marco, the sometimes annoying, sometimes funny Italian Fellow in my lab. The event took place near Spenser, at an A-frame cottage on a small lake. Homemade sausage, five different desserts, and a host of other horrible (for the figure, at least) things. I played Bocci twice, lost both times (though they were both close games), and had decent conversations with my boss, and another prof from across the street (the NMR guy named Karl).

The dreaded question arose, and I fully realized how much this question pisses me off. "So, what is the real world application of your research?" Trista got it; I did, too. Man, does this question piss me off, because it is often the product of small-minded, penny pinchers. I am a taxpayer. As a married couple, Trista and I fall into the 25% bracket, wherein 25% of our income goes to the feds. I want my money to go to pure research. I don't give a shit if there is a real world medical/pharmaceutical benefit directly relating to research. I want my money to fund crazy blokes doing exciting/crazy shit, which advances mankind's understanding about matter, energy, the universe and everything in between. Likewise, I want my money to fund art (another "useless product" which has no real world, measurable benefit), regardless of the subject. Once, I got into a debate with a schmo-hawk fellow worker, about the Piss Christ piece, which was funded by some federal grant. Do I like the piece? Nope; not for any offended religious reasons (I'm about the least religious bloke you're likely to find) but because it didn't really speak to me. Do I want my hard earned tax dollars paying for this? You bet I do. Why? Because it is frivolous, because it pays heed to the wild/Dionysian/chaotic forces that make up human nature, it breaks the rules, upsets the orderly/Apollonian pattern we establish for ourselves... Thus, to some degree I have to say fuck pharmacology and fuck the bottom line.

Saw *Bubba Ho-Tep*, again, last week. I love that movie more with each viewing. Joe (our chum) commented, "It's almost a real movie." Well, beyond the obvious fact that the thing was shot on film, edited on film, and post produced on film (thus making it, what, a film?) I have to say it is a movie. Joe then, tongue in cheek, tried to read symbolism into the movie, then commented that his film teacher would not be pleased with Joe watching a movie called *Bubba Ho-Tep*. It started the seed going. First of all, a teacher or critic who judges a work based only upon the genre it belongs to (and just what genre does a redemptive Elvis vs. mummy picture like *Bubba Ho-Tep* belong to anyway?), much less merely the name of the film, is obviously an uninformed, and therefore superfluous critic/teacher, whose advice is undoubtedly cobbled together from the works of other people and not from his/her own ability to formulate opinions (the bar room showdown in *Good Will Hunting* comes to mind). But I have not come here to dismantle an educator. Instead, I come to consider *Bubba* (one of the best movies of last year, IMHO). I think Bubba Ho-Tep is not only a 'real movie' but it is one of the most vital and interesting pieces of cinema to come along since the heyday of cinema in the seventies. Why? Because Bubba pays homage to one of the only truly American forms of storytelling -- the Tall Tale. You know what I mean: Paul Bunyon and Babe the Blue Ox, Johnny Appleseed, the Devil and Daniel Webster. Stories with possibly real people blown up and elevated into the realms of American Myth. We've got not one, but two American icons of the last century: Elvis and JFK. They are engaged in a larger than life story, against a villain that at once transcends The Real, and simultaneously embodies the real world fear of death/disintegration of the flesh. But wait, let's invoke Marilyn Monroe. There's even the unknown cowboy figure in there, a fellow who has no name other than "Kemosabe". It is a smorgasbord of hyped up Americana. The commentary track/featurettes often pose the film as a bittersweet meditation on how our society casts off/ignores the elderly, but it is more than this. Unintended perhaps, but it does transcend its B-movie roots, to become something profoundly interesting. Not on a technical level (the film is nice, the soundtrack is memorable, but it does not make advances in the field of cinematography) but in story/subject matter.
  • Current Music
    "Going Under" Evanescence, Bubba Ho-Tep Soundtrack