Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Turtle Power and Life on the Edge

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 1990
Living down here is great except for
those C.H.U.D assholes.
The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles cartoon show was pretty much required viewing for any child born in the 1980s.  By the time I was in grade 4, Ninja Turtles merchandise had become more ubiquitous than the ill-fated and short-lived Pog phenomenon that would threaten to overwhelm parents' wallets in a deluge of cheap cardboard and surprisingly painful plastic and metal projectiles ever would.  During the height of Turtle-Mania, you couldn't walk into someone's house, a school, a store, a bar, a prison, a brothel, a 1960's style barber shop where the barber shaves you with a straight razor and the endings are always happy, a Somali pirate ship, an opium den, the MIR space station, OJ's white Ford Bronco, or a brothel without being inundated with or tripping over some product proudly bearing the resemblance of or branded with the characters or symbols from the Ninja Turtle Universe.  It wouldn't surprise me if the Ninja Turtle phenomenon later inspired an entire sector of the porn industry, though the possibilities of what the final products of such nostalgic fascination might resemble fill me with a certain kind of Terror that prohibits me from actually soliciting Google for such potentially mind-warping fare.

The TMNT animated show seemed by far to garner the largest following and, I think, did the most to ensure that the brand was enshrined in the hearts of the youth.  However, the Ninja Turtles cartoon show was a candy-coated version of the live action movie and the ultimate source material in the comics that was decidedly aimed at a much more mature audience with sufficient intestinal fortitude and adequate steel content in their genitals.  The Turtles of the comics (at least the early ones) were serious assassins-in-training, and, unlike their counterparts in the neon-bright, bubble-gum flavoured cartoon show, actually put their weapons to good use, helping their enemies shuffle off their mortal coils in a fashion that would make Paul Verhoeven proud.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Problem Solved: STFU Environment

Well, we can all sleep a little sounder at night now that one of the major problems plaguing our species has been thoroughly dealt with.  That's right, world governments, leaders of industry, NASA scientists, Tibetan monks, and one super-intelligent chimp have come together in order to solve the environmental crisis known as Global Warming.  And in a surprising twist, they have actually solved it.  You heard it here first: we have officially Saved the Environment.  "But how?" you might ask.  Was it monumental social and legal reform on a massive scale?  Was some new form of free, clean, and infinite power discovered?  Did world governments cast aside the petty bickering, political maneuvering, and senseless exploitation and the slaughter of innocent civilians for their own twisted purposes in order to work together for the common Good of all Humankind?  Did Logic and Reason finally win out and keep us from destroying the only planet that we know of within reasonable travelling distance that can actually sustain human life?  Well, it was actually a lot simpler than we had originally thought.

Behold, the instrument of your salvation:

Why?  Why was I programmed to feel pain?
That's right, the environment has now been solved.  And it's all thanks to these new "eco friendly" DVD and Blu-Ray cases that have been so graciously bestowed upon us.  Well, to tell you the truth, I sleep a lot better at night now knowing that my children and their children after them will have one less thing to worry about.  If only we could travel back in time and tell our grandparents about this marvel of engineering, the height of Human Technological Innovation, that would bring about their environmental salvation, we could have saved decades of debate, uncertainty, and stress.  What fools we've all been!  The answer was so obvious, we must have just been too smart to see it.

So what the fuck is all this about?  What the fuck is wrong with this picture (both literally and metaphorically)?  How could any free-thinking, socially-conscious citizen be opposed to any effort, no matter how small, insignificant, and stupid, to work towards a viable solution to global warming?  Well, besides the fact that the solution people have come up with is a total crock, there's plenty to be bothered about by this sort of shit.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Summer Anthems and the Outskirts of Humanity... Many Things To Many People

It's not always a given, but typically each year around the time the world emerges from the winter thaw and slowly coaxes Her children back to life, I tend to get obsessed with a single song that essentially becomes my Summer Anthem. This tradition is not enshrined in stone tablets for the Masses or anything so rigidly formal, though it does in some ways inform the themes and narrative structure of that particular season of my life. I'm not sure why the annual Great Thaw inspires me to be more receptive to musical stimuli. Perhaps it is symbolic of the endless cycles of Life and Death that permeate the natural world and my constant destruction and rebirth like some kind of Dark Phoenix, but as I get older I am becoming increasingly bound by a grim inverse relationship where as age increases enjoyment of winter decreases.

The problem is that this relationship is increasing exponentially, and though the winter in my particular geographic region was particularly long, I find that my yearly cycle of depression and withdrawal in the winter months is worsening, and my psychological barriers that protect my mind from the ravages of ice, snow, wind, and various other forms of arctic sorcery seem to be weakening at an alarming rate. This year, I was getting close to Giving Up, whatever that meant. But I knew that this year I was dangerously close to that vague boundary, and I was overcome with the vague sensation of slowly being dragged to the depths of some watery abyss like my innards after consuming any quantity of Chinese food.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Fall of the Mighty... A Long Way to the Bottom with Iron Man. Third Time's a What Now?

What did you say about my mother?
There was a viral video phenomenon back in 2007 - 2008 known as Two Girls One Cup.  From what I've been told, it depicted two girls each repeatedly taking turns consuming the other's shit and vomit, which, depending on your particular proclivities, was either a window into the depths of human sexual depravity or "just another Saturday night."  I, myself, never bore witness to this cultural phenomenon.  When it was described to me by others with the inevitable epilogue, "Dude, you've got to watch it for yourself," I never felt the urge to follow up on that imperative. Based on the descriptions I heard and my conscious evaluation of what might fall into my normative range of pleasurable stimuli, I decided that I wanted absolutely no part of that.  I've seen a lot of crazy shit in a variety of media, but the Two Girls One Cup video definitely seemed to fall outside the boundaries of anything I wanted to willingly subject myself to.  It was a mature decision that I was proud of, and one of the few that I look back on with absolutely no regret.

Until now.

A little while ago, I was subjected to IRON MAN 3, the cap on Marvel's Iron Man movie trilogy and its cinematic follow-up to THE AVENGERS.  There was a lot of hype built up surrounding the film, with IRON MAN 3 shattering box office records and many fans of the genre favorably comparing the movie to Joss Whedon's massively successful AVENGERS ensemble.  I wasn't holding out much hope of greatness considering Marvel's typical appeals to mediocrity, but considering the positive energy from fans surrounding the film, I thought that perhaps we'd get a decent action film that, if not on par with the first IRON MAN, would at least provide the same level of mindless entertainment as THE AVENGERS.

Wednesday, April 09, 2014

The Quest for The Rock and Youth Lost in the 90s

The heart of INDIANA JONES AND THE LAST CRUSADE is, of course, the father/son dynamic between Indiana and his dad. It's significant to note, however, that the movie title employs a certain ambiguity and specifically leaves out mention of the object that serves as the catalyst of the crusade. By evoking the word "crusade," which itself is rife with numerous socio-political and historical implications, and then introducing an artifact central to the Judeo-Christian mythology, the filmmakers effectively misdirect the audience. The "misdirect" here, however, is more in line with its use in relation to a magic trick rather than, oh, I don't know, distracting someone so you can slip something into his drink and unwittingly make him the host of an alien life form of unknown make or model.

By the end of the movie, though, it becomes clear that the grail was a metaphor for what both Indiana and his father were really searching for, which was an emotional connection (People... People who need people...).  THE LAST CRUSADE is actually thematically similar to FIELD OF DREAMS, insofar as the main characters were on a quest for something they thought held some form of Ultimate Meaning, but really they were looking for reconciliation with dear old dad.  For me, one of the final scenes of THE LAST CRUSADE, when Henry Jones Sr. gently urges his son to "let it go" is almost as emotionally poignant as when Ray asks his dad to play catch at the end of FIELD OF DREAMS.  There's a certain catharsis in those moments.  Nothing's really solved per se, but in that moment there's a connection, and all of the shit kind of melts away and there's something Real and raw and significant.

Friday, April 04, 2014

Spring Break 4 Eva... Cultural Dysphoria Armed to the Teeth. And Bikinis to Boot.

"Just pretend it's a video game. Like you're in a fucking movie."

This is the immortal advice given by one of the young protagonists of SPRING BREAKERS to her three partners in (future) crime as they make their way towards their first armed robbery. This is not the rousing call to arms that one might expect from warriors on their way to find glory on the field of battle, unless, of course, those warriors were four, young college-aged women in the early twenty-first century on their way to commit a felony, and the field of battle was a crowded restaurant filled with unsuspecting part-time employees, slack-jawed customers, and enough MSG to satisfy a village in China for a month.