Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Poema de Mi Id: Parte IX

"White Trash Girl"

I want myself a white trash girl.
A chick who knows where all the pawn shops are.
A woman who looks how to use a food stamp card.
A girl whose hair smells like mayonnaise and
whose skin is the same color as cottage cheese.

I want myself a white trash girl.
A dame who hides her nakedness in Dollar Store underwear.
Who bears scars and bruises from her last boyfriend
And who continually bumps into doors when I'm not around.
A girl who still has a scar on her belly from her last child.
One who knows every last cuss word in the book -- and then some.

I want myself a white trash girl.
Of course, I could just date a girl
from the local barrio instead.
But that would be tacky.

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Monday, January 14, 2019

Literary Quote I Like

Balty praised his host's admirable wall and asked if it kept out the savages.

Stuyvesant smiled. "But the wall is not for keeping out Indians. It's for keeping out English!"

"Oh," Balty said, unsure how to respond. "Has it... worked?"

Stuyvesant chortled. "It seems not. After all, here are you." He added diplomatically, "But you are welcome in New Amsterdam."

"Too kind."

"People now are saying we must have a bigger wall."

"Not on our account, I hope."

Stuyvesant shrugged. "If to this it comes, maybe I will ask your King Charles to pay for it."

"A most amusing idea. Is it not, Huncks?"

"Sartainly, his majesty would find it so."
--Christopher Buckley, The Judge Hunter

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A Second Look at High Tension


Warning: Here Be Spoilers

I can think of a thousand things wrong with High Tension and I still stand by my original review but there is something about the way the ending of High Tension sticks in my mind that makes it hard to forget.



Perhaps it was the way the director took a standard image usually associated with happy endings -- in this case, a young girl eagerly turning in the direction of her current object of affection and then reaching out in that direction as if to give her a hug -- and then made it seem -- well -- creepy. The sad part is that I couldn't help sensing that Alex -- the objection of the young girl's affection -- still felt sorry for Marie -- the young girl in the mental hospital. Yet it was fairly obvious that any chance of a serious relationship between the two of them ended when Marie killed Alex's family. And that Alex had ample reason to hate Marie after everything Marie had put her through. Indeed, it could be that Alex's feeling in that final scene was not so much pity but relief that Marie was in a cell and not likely to bother her again.

Yet Marie somehow sensed that Alex was watching her even though she could not see her and turned in her direction with a facial expression that most people reserve for their deities. (Indeed, it did not seem like that much of a coincidence that the way Marie was muttering those words at the beginning of that scene made it almost sound as if Marie was praying.) Alex obviously no longer loved Marie and never did love her in the way that Marie wanted her to. But Marie still loved Alex -- and probably will continue to do so till the day she dies -- even though her violent actions have ended any realistic hope she ever had of ever being loved back.

Some people would consider that last part a happy ending and separated from the rest of the movie, one might even be fooled into thinking that it was. In context, though, it seemed far more scarier than the ending of any conventional final girl thriller.

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Saturday, January 12, 2019

Movie Quote of the Week

You don't vote for kings.
--Graham Chapman, Monty Python and the Holy Grail (1975)

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TV Quote of the Week

I got what the world would call a normal, boring job. I wake up in the morning, get dressed, drive myself to work, put on a nametag... take my brain out of my skull and place it in a drawer. I spend the next 9 hours smiling at people, pretending to be interested in their happiness, tolerating the company of my coworkers... staring at the clock. At the end of the day, I take my nametag off, open the drawer, reach for my brain, plop it back inside, walk to the employee parking lot, drive myself home and it's really, really... really boring. Looks like I'm going to be doing it for a long, long time.
--Mary-Louise Parker, Weeds, "No Man Is Pudding"

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Pensamientos Acerca de Televisión

Weeds: “No Man Is Pudding”

I've been wanting to avoid talking about certain episodes of the fourth season of Weeds because that was when the show started to become maddeningly uneven. Not because of the Mexican characters. In fact, when I look back at that season, I get more irritated by the white non-Hispanic characters like the one played by Albert Brooks. But I get a sense from certain online comments by fans of Weeds that the whole show started going downhill in the fourth season because the main character Nancy Botwin got involved with Mexicans and that was the fault of the Mexican characters that the show kept going downhill. I don't agree with that argument. However, I suspect that a lot of people out there do.

In any event, "No Man Is Pudding" is one of my favorite episodes of Weeds if for no other reason that it has such a surreally WTF-type ending. I have tried several times to try to think of a written description that could do it justice but perhaps the best way to describe it is to show you this.



And yes, that was Demián Bichir of A Better Life fame sitting there at the end with a big cigar. For that matter, Mary-Louise Parker -- aka Nancy Botwin -- also put on a pretty good performance even though most of it in that sequence was just a reaction.

Anyway, with all this talk about building a wall on the Mexican-U.S, border, I could not help thinking of this sequence as the ultimate argument against such a project. There are obviously more idealistic reasons but I don't see President Trump paying much attention to those. "They're just going to go under it" is no doubt far from the best argument I can come up with but at least there is a small -- very small -- chance that he might listen to it. But who knows?

Then again there have already been real-life examples of that tunnel -- and yet Trump is still trying to go ahead with his Wall project. Heck, there was even one on the Canadian-U.S. border. I'm kinda surprised that we haven't heard more about that one.

And now I'm imagining a bunch of Canadians in Ontario digging a tunnel under the Detroit River and finally saying upon its completion. "Okay, hosers! We're open for business."

Hmmm.

Perhaps I'm better off thinking about that tunnel in terms of yonic symbolism. Nancy Botwin stares into a tunnel and sees -- what, exactly? Life? Death? A path to heaven? Her own -- ahem -- yoni? The mind boggles at the possibilities. I might have to write another essay about this episode very soon. We'll see.

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Friday, January 11, 2019

Song Quote of the Week

But I left my soul behind me
In an old cathedral town.
--Al Dubin and Harry Warren, "Boulevard of Broken Dreams"

My comment: I hate it when that happens.

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Contracultura and Daniel Ellsberg

When I moved to Texas I found myself attending school with kids who were taught that Vietnam War protester and folk singer Joan Baez was a Communist. Interestingly enough, that didn't prevent Baez's big hit "The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down" from being performed in a school play but then I doubt they necessarily associated said song with her political views. Nor do I believe they picked up on the fact that Baez's version was probably meant not so much to be a defense of Dixie as it was to be an anti-war song.

Even today, I come across some people -- including people way younger than me who practice many of the same customs as your average hippie -- who use "hippie" as an insult. Usually they say something like, "Of course so-and-so is fucked up. Her parents were hippies." But the sentiment is still there.

And, of course, back in the 1990s, it was common for people in my Catholic singles group to note that you could get away with a pro-JFK sentiment more easily in Boston than you could in Dallas.

That said, we shouldn't pretend that Daniel Ellsberg was all that popular in his day. Much of the country's idea of political commentary back then began and ended with Merle Haggard and even moderate newsman Walter Cronkite--aka "the most trusted man in America"--was considered dangerously liberal in some quarters.

Despite attempts at evenhandedness in our high school history class, it seemed obvious to me when I was young that my teachers were biased toward the pro-establishment view of the Vietnam War and indeed, it wasn't until I ran into a fellow high school student who claimed to be a socialist that I met anyone who could explain what the fuss about the Pentagon Papers was all about.

And if you read the stuff written by people who actually lived through the period--for example, Harlan Ellison's "Glass Teat" columns--you'll note that there was as much despair over the effectiveness of the counterculture back then -- in an era which it was supposedly making much progress -- as there is today.

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Wednesday, January 09, 2019

Quote of the Week

It’s about who they believe
they is. You hardly even there.
--Anders Carlson-Wee, "How-To", The Nation, July 5, 2018

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Poema de Mi Id: Parte VIII

"Lessons"

Before the new kids came,
they told you all sorts of sad stories
about them and their parents.
Then you got beat up on the first day
the new kids came to school.
And when you hit back,
you got into even more trouble.
The people who ran things refused to believe
you were only defending yourself.
Though they talked a lot about justice,
they were not really interested in defending it.
So you decided from then on
to not make waves
and to not hit back
when the new kids tried to hit you.
Instead, you learned to hit first.

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Tuesday, January 08, 2019

Poema de Mi Id: Parte VII

"Respect"

Don't disrespect your older cousin,
his beloved father said,
not so much for your cousin's sake
but for the sake for your grandmother
who still remembers him as a young boy,
innocent and full of promise,
and who must now visit him in prison,
where he'll undoubtedly be
for the rest of his natural life.

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Monday, January 07, 2019

Dueling Quotes

Here is where you'll always find me,
Always walking up and down.
--Al Dubin and Harry Warren, "Boulevard of Broken Dreams"

And the LORD said unto Satan, Whence comest thou? Then Satan answered the LORD, and said, From going to and fro in the earth, and from walking up and down in it.
--Job 1:7, King James Version

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