Monday, October 29, 2007

Hay Moros en el CostCo

Now that illegal Hispanic immigrants appear to have replaced Muslims as the ethnic boogeyman du jour, it's kinda funny to notice how often I run across evidence of Muslim immigration here in Dallas. Granted, Dallas is still a long way from having a Muslim population as large as the one in my hometown of Detroit. But I've seen too many women wearing traditional Muslim dress to pretend that the Muslim population is all that small. And it's even more amusing to notice the increasing number of hookah bars.

And all this in Texas, mind you. Dallas, Texas.

Of course, we're still a long way from having an Arab-American community as large as the one in my native Detroit (which, by the way, just happens to have the largest Arab-American population in the country). But we're getting there.

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All the Things That I Have Seen

1. Premonition (2007)

I have always loved the above painting, Las Meninas by Spanish painter Diego Velázquez. So when I spied a painting that looked a lot like it midway through Premonition, I had high hopes that it would be a sign that the movie was actually going to turn out to be more intelligent and sophisticated than I thought it was. However, it wasn't.

In fact, the movie was quite dumb -- even by the standards of the average Sandra Bullock movie. Yet another “supernatural” thriller by a Rod Serling wannabe with perhaps the most offensive scene being the one in which it was implied that the widowed female protagonist deserved her fate because she stopped going to church. Theological misogyny and stupid sci-fi tricks... Good times!

2. The Simpsons Movie (2007)

At long last a summer movie that does not suck. (Apart from the one about the rat who can cook, of course.) However, one would hardly argue that this movie was based on the most original of ideas -- even by Simpsons standards. And apart from a brief glimpse of Bart Simpson's private parts -- which wasn't exactly the type of thing that I wanted to see anywhere, much less on the big screen -- there isn't a whole lot here that one would not see on the small screen.

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Wednesday, October 24, 2007

The Horror Movie I've Seen Most Often...

Mind you, I'm not necessarily sure that's a good thing...

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I'm Only Happy When It Rains: Suspiria

If there's one thing director Dario Argento is good at, it's rain scenes so I guess it's no surprise that the two scenes I like best in his 70s horror flick Suspiria both involve rainstorms. One takes place at the beginning of the film when the protagonist (played by a young Jessica Harper) arrives. The other at the end when the Ms. Harper character flees to the accompaniment of the end credits.

Add to that a genuinely haunting score by Goblin and this film should have been a classic. Unfortunately, the stuff that happens between those two rain scenes isn't that great. In fact, between the so-so dubbing and the atrocious dialogue, the movie is often quite painful to watch.

But on the plus side, Jessica Harper does look cute with wet hair.

Whatever happened to her?

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Monday, October 22, 2007

Songs That Aren't Really Halloween Songs But Probably Should Be

1. “Blue Angel” -- Squirrel Nut Zippers
2. “Fire on High” -- Electric Light Orchestra
3. “Funeral for a Friend” -- Elton John
4. “Ghost Town” -- The Specials
5. “Heal It Up” -- Concrete Blonde
6. “Heart-Shaped Box” -- Nirvana
7. “Hurdy Gurdy Man” -- Donovan
8. “Run Through the Jungle” -- CCR
9. “St. James Infirmary” -- Snakefarm
10. “Uninvited” -- Alanis Morissette


Monday, October 15, 2007

Favorite Horror Movie Quotes

Feast your eyes! Glut your soul on my accursed ugliness!
--Lon Chaney, Phantom of the Opera (1925)

There are far worse things awaiting man than death.
--Bela Lugosi, Dracula (1931)

To a new world of gods and monsters!
--Ernest Thesiger, The Bride of Frankenstein (1935)

Even a man who is pure in heart and says his prayers by night, may become a wolf when the wolfbane blooms. And the autumn moon is bright.
--Claude Rains, The Wolf Man (1941)

She just goes a little mad sometimes. We all go a little mad sometimes. Haven't you?
--Anthony Perkins, Psycho (1960)

You're not thinking of atomic energy, you're thinking of... A brick wall!
--Martin Stephens, Village of the Damned (1960)

Better keep the doors closed and keep out the drafts as Dr... Starr used to say.
--Geoffrey Bayldon, Asylum (1972)

When there's no more room in hell, the dead will walk the earth.
--Ken Foree, Dawn of the Dead (1978)

One night when you come home you'll find me inside waiting and that will be the night you'll wish you'd never been born.
--Christopher Plummer, The Silent Partner (1978)

You play a good game, boy, but the game is finished. Now you die.
--Angus Scrimm, Phantasm (1979)

Be afraid. Be very afraid.
--Geena Davis, The Fly (1986)

My mommy always said there were no monsters. No real ones... But there are.
--Sigourney Weaver, Alien Resurrection (1997)

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Come to Think of It, We Rarely Saw the Shark Girls before Dusk...

Come in, come in! We won't bite you until we know you better.
--Rita Moreno, West Side Story (1961)

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Literary Quote I Like

Alas! Life is obstinate and clings closest where it is most hated.
--Victor Frankenstein in Mary Shelley's Frankenstein

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TV Quote of the Week

Crime does not pay, not even on television. It must have a sponsor.
--Alfred Hitchcock, Alfred Hitchcock Presents, “Revenge”

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Song Quote of the Week

Dark languages rarely survive.
--Mark Z. Danielewski, Kenneth Burgomaster and Poe, “Hey Pretty [Drive-By 2001 Mix]”

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Pensamientos Acerca de Televisión

Alfred Hitchcock Presents: “Revenge”

One of the more famous episodes of the series and one that continues to have an influence on today's directors as well. (Christopher Nolan being the most obvious example.)

Directed by Hitchcock himself and based on a teleplay by Francis M. Cockrell (which in turn was based on a story by Samuel Blas), “Revenge” tells a simple story about a man who finds out that his wife has been attacked in his absence. Since the spouse had been recovering from a nervous breakdown, she is not the most useful of witnesses, but the man is nonetheless determined to use her to help track down her assailant. Unfortunately, he makes a fatal error in judgment....

The episode stars a pre-Psycho Vera Miles as the wronged wife and a pre-Andy Griffith Show Francis Bavier (aka Aunt Bea) as a nosy neighbor.

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Thursday, October 04, 2007

Pensamientos Acerca de Televisión

Heroes: “Genesis”

You just gotta love a TV show in which the first scene reminds you of the beginning of Run, Lola, Run.

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Pensamientos Acerca de Televisión

Ugly Betty: “Pilot”

I really wanted to hate this series with a white-hot passion when I first heard about it. I wanted to hate it even more when I heard about the illegal alien subplot the show's writers added midway through the first season.

And yet now that I'm watching it on DVD...

I've grown to love it.

Not just because it's one of the few shows on the air with a Hispanic protagonist. After all, The George Lopez Show could have made a similar boast and yet I was never really attracted to that show.

And not just because star America Ferrera manages to be oh so cute in spite of her character's “ugliness.” (Though that certainly doesn't hurt.)

I suspect the reason I most love the show is the way it handles the issue of class anxiety. The feeling that one really isn't supposed to be working in a certain environment and the fear that the upper-class folks with which one works really are laughing at one behind one's back. I've heard quite a few fellow Hispanics express just such feelings and I'm kinda glad to see a TV show deal with such feelings instead of merely sweeping them under the rug.

It might be argued that this show takes an especially sunny view of such anxiety. And that it is a bit unrealistic when it comes to depicting the way Ms. Ferrera's character Betty Suarez manages to overcome the various obstacles in her new environment.

But at least it manages to acknowledge these issues instead of pretending everyone who matters is a white, non-Hispanic executive who lives in the suburbs. And that all Hispanics are gang members, drug dealers or servants.

Though the show is a bit cartoonish at times, it also manages to be quite intriguing in a way that most Anglocentric TV fare is not anymore.

I'm sure I'll have more to say about this show in the future.

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“Nesisto Ayuda”

In other words, help wanted. A term I saw on a recent sign posted at a restaurant at which I dine quite regularly.

Apparently the employer in question -- Hispanic, natch -- wasn't even bothering to accept applications from English-speaking applicants. I'm not quite sure whether I should consider this shameless ethnocentrism or poetic justice.

And, yes, I know the first word should be “necesito.” But that's not the way the signwriter spelled it.

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Tuesday, October 02, 2007

October Is the Busiest Month

I've been meaning to post far more than I have been as of late, but due to various plans involving my upcoming nupitals, such posts have been delayed.

Just as well. We in Dallas have been having a rainier-than-usual September and now we're having a hotter-than-usual October. Apparently Mother Nature is taking the term "Indian Summer" way too literally since it sometimes feels like we might as well be in that country as far as the weather is concerned.

Oh, well. I'll post when I can.

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