I Hate Romance

Uh oh. You've made Donnie Yen angry. Prepare for asskicking.
(craveonline.com)

Even before the love of my life died, I hated romance as this post from 2010 attests. This is nothing new.

Immediately after Male died, I couldn’t read. I couldn’t write. I couldn’t concentrate or do anything productive, which left the boob tube as my only option besides silence. I hate silence unless I’m reading. I didn’t so much watch television as have it on in the background while I blankly stared at walls (like my cat) or cried a lot.

I couldn’t watch anything that had even a hint of romance in it. If there was so much as a conversation between a man and a woman that didn’t involve work, I’d turn it off.

This left me with few options since almost every form of entertainment today has a superfluous love story. I absolutely hate the superfluous love story. If you’re going to have romance in something, put it right there on the cover or in the description, because if there’s one thing I cannot stand, it’s getting sucker-punched with a romantic subplot that doesn’t need to be there in the first place. This applies generally, but particularly in the weeks following the death of the love of my life.

This penchant for throwing love stories about willy-nilly is the exact reason I don’t watch a lot of Hollywood movies even though I live in Hollywood. In the same way that restaurants don’t feel the need to mention on their menus that fucking onions are in everything they make (I hate onions), Hollywood throws the unnecessary love story into practically every movie produced.

There’s a movie about aliens coming down and taking over the human race? Add a love story. Action flick? Love story. War movie? Love story. Horror movie? Love story. A movie about genocide? Throw in a goddamn love story, because love and genocide go perfectly together I guess. I find it rather sexist, as if the only way they can get women to watch their schlock about stolen cars is to add romance in there.

I hate the superfluous love story. If I want to see a love story, I’ll watch a goddamned love story, but why must you ruin a perfectly good action movie with a love story that adds nothing to the plot? Not only does it not add, but it actually slows everything down. I don’t want to see that. If I watch an action movie, I want to see action not bloody love.

So, this left my viewing options very limited. I watched a ton of war movies, kung fu and wuxia (I’m all caught up on Donnie Yen now), and Korean revenge flicks.

Uh oh. You've made Donnie Yen angry. Prepare for asskicking. (craveonline.com)
Uh oh. You have angered the Donnie Yen. Prepare for asskicking.
(craveonline.com)

Did you know that Korean revenge is a genre? It is in my world anyway, and it’s one of my favorite sub-genres. South Korea has been making some mighty fine cinema for the last decade or so. If you haven’t seen Oldboy (not that godawful American abomination that has no right to exist, but the real one), go watch it now. I’ll wait.

Fucking amazing, right? Is that not the best movie you’ve seen in the last fifteen years or more? Damn straight it is. Park Chan-wook is a cinema god. Granted, nothing he’s done since has touched the cinematic brilliance of Oldboy, but I cut him some slack. It’s hard to rival that movie, because it is so unbelievably tits. Just like Ridley Scott can never touch Blade Runner, they should keep making movies anyway, just on the off-chance that they manage something nearly as good.

Anyway, Korean revenge movies. It’s a thing that I adore. They rarely throw love stories in there, and if they do, they’re integral to the plot, as in Oldboy, so it doesn’t bother me overmuch.

I’m the same way with books. The only romantic type stories I can deal with in literature are the kind that end badly like Wuthering Heights or Romeo & Juliet. I don’t mind romance in there as long as it’s the star-crossed variety. If one or more of them dies in the end, I’m in.

So, after all this preamble about disliking love stories, why is it that when I wrote the latest part of The Dwarf Making Sweet, Sweet Love To The Skeleton, a detective series I’ve been writing that has nothing to do with love, I added some sexual tension between Walker and Betsy? I haven’t published the latest installment of The Dwarf yet, because this fact chagrins me. I’ve even written the book’s ending where, well, I don’t want to add spoilers.

The romance in my writing is a lot like the horror in old horror movies; implied, but never  shown. Have you seen the The Haunting (1963)? It’s scary precisely because they don’t show anything scary. It’s all implied. It could be because of a tiny special effects budget or it could be that the director knew that the phantasms created in the imaginations of the viewers are way scarier than any animatronic creature Hollywood could invent. They remade The Haunting in 1999 and it’s boring, because they thought special effects could top our imaginations. They were wrong. They were wrong to remake it in the first place.

STOP REMAKING OLD OR FOREIGN MOVIES, HOLLYWOOD.

Soap box over.

Why is it that when watching or reading something to entertain myself, I look for something without romance, but when I wrote it, I added it in there? Why am I such a huge hypocrite? It doesn’t really add to the plot. It doesn’t really move the plot along. It doesn’t have to be there, but it’s there anyway. Perhaps later today or tomorrow, I’ll pull the trigger and post it, and you can let me know if you think it’s superfluous or not, because obviously, I haven’t a clue.


Do you write romance in your stories that have nothing to do with romance? Does the superfluous love story bother you? Do you love Donnie Yen? Do you wish I had gotten to the point much sooner? Do you even know what the point is?

6 Genuinely Scary Things

Nazi hammers are the worst kind.

I don’t believe in demons, ghosts, ghouls, goblins or most other things that go bump in the night. I’ve gone through some terrifying experiences. I’ve been tied up, gagged, raped, and shoved into a dark closet when I wasn’t even double digits. I’ve been choked, punched, kicked, and had a gun pointed right at my head. I’ve flat-lined at least twice and been resuscitated.

My point is, it takes a lot to scare me. Haunted houses are laughable. They’re not even allowed to touch you. How can it be scary when none of the blood, guts or monsters are real? I have an excellent imagination, but I find it nearly impossible to be scared when I know things aren’t real.

Movies don’t do it either. They’re even less real than haunted houses. They’re just images captured on film (or digitally) of actors doing their thing.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I definitely am not implying that I don’t get scared, because I very much do. I am startled at least once a day just passing people in the hallway that I didn’t notice. It’s a fun part of PTSD called hyper-vigilance. That’s me. I am as startled as a fainting goat.

I also get creeped out, grossed out, anxious and I can even tie my own imagination into knots. I was sick a few weeks ago and watched the latest season of The Walking Dead in one weekend. When I left the house, I was seriously on guard for zombies until I realized that was silly.

So, I am capable of being startled and I definitely can be scared. It’s just that movies and haunted houses don’t do it for me. With Halloween right around the corner, I thought I’d talk about things that genuinely scare me.

Unemployment

I’ve been financially independent (not by choice) since I was fifteen years old. In all that time, I’ve never gone an entire year without a job. Unemployment scares the bejeezus out of me. First, there’s the loss of financial security and not knowing where your next meal will come from. Second, there’s all that time on my hands. I don’t do well with a lot of time on my hands. The last time I was unemployed, about four years ago, I ran aground on the second thing that scares me…

Depression

If you’re unlucky enough to have the chronic kind, depression is one of the scariest things I can think of. It means your brain is working against you. Your own brain is trying to convince you that you’re worthless. It’s all hopeless. You might as well give in to the darkness and end it all now… Seriously, how scary is that? It takes a tremendous amount of strength to fight it.

The Environment

I just finished watching the new Cosmos series with Neil DeGrasse Tyson. If you haven’t seen it, you should, because the cosmos is awesome in the original sense of the word. It will make you realize just how significant all of humankind really is on a cosmic scale, which is to say, not very. Anyway, in one of the episodes, Neil takes us through global warming and spells it out for us that we humans are very much responsible for global warming and what will happen to the planet if we don’t halt our evil ways. Terrifying business.

Outliving my body

One of my biggest fears is having my mind intact inside a body that can’t do anything about it, like being paralyzed from head to toe as in Johnny Got His Gun. Being trapped in your own mind sounds awful, but honestly, I’d take that over the next thing on the list…

johnnygun
Is that nurse lighting up?

Insanity

The flip side of having a sound mind trapped in a broken body is abject insanity. When I watched Pink Floyd’s The Wall, I related just a little too much with Pink. As I’ve said before: “Aside from the giant marching Nazi hammers, the man-eating vaginas, children being put through a meat grinder and all the rest, the scariest part about this movie to me is being trapped in your own mind with all of that. Pink has completely lost touch with reality and is living in a world that no one would ever choose to live in and there’s no way out.”

Nazi hammers are the worst kind.
Nazi hammers are the worst kind of hammers.

Humans

Part of the reason that ghost and ghouls and goblins aren’t scary to me is that I’ve seen the most evil creature on the planet in action–humans. Humans are the worst kind of monster there is. They kill, rape, steal, torture, enslave, make lampshades out of each other, and then look you right in the eye and lie about it. They can convince themselves that no matter what kind of evil they’re doing, it’s not that bad. Someone else is to blame as much as they are or more. It was an order. It’s their parents’ fault. It’s society’s fault. It’s video games, heavy metal music, comic books… It’s always someone or something else. I’ve never heard of a lying ghost. They tend to be pretty up front about things.

Humans are capable of selfless good, too, but they let the evil take over so often.


What’s on your list?

L.A. Woman

(bfi.org.uk)

That’s what I am, though I don’t much feel like it. My Levi’s, always a little too long, drag on the ground in back since I’m too tall for medium height and too short for tall. My Converse All Stars, caked with mud from kicking tennis balls at the dog park. My ubiquitous t-shirt and black hoodie–I have a closet full of them. These are hardly what The Doors had in mind.

 

I am just another lost angel–city of night.

I’m not what the rest of you have in mind when you think of L.A. either. You’ve all seen the Hollywood version of me. The glowing skin, the big tits, the blonde flowing hair and a smile. That smile. I don’t have that smile. I have a smile, but it’s not the smile you know. It’s not the smile the rest of the world sees. I am not on the billboards. You won’t see me in the glossy magazines.

I try to remember what I thought of those shimmering images before I saw the truth. I haven’t always been an L.A. woman. I was a Boston woman before that and a Detroit woman, too.

I try to remember my impression of L.A. and L.A. women before I became one, but it’s all so hazy. It was too long ago; it’s not new or fresh anymore. I’ve lived in L.A. long enough that it’s a part of me. If I ever leave this sprawling city, I will still be an L.A. woman, at least for a little while, until I become something else.

L.A. isn’t much like the movies, but it never has been. What you see isn’t what you get. There is a reason it’s called movie magic after all.

There aren’t many Raymond Chandlers or Charles Bukowskis in Los Angeles anymore. They left a void of booze, brawls and busty dames that we just cannot fill, even though we try. Sometimes, I wish I lived in Chandler’s Los Angeles, even if it means wearing heels, a hat and doing nothing all day but practicing my smoldering look like Lauren Bacall:

(bfi.org.uk)
(bfi.org.uk)

The little girls in their Hollywood bungalows.

I don’t think of myself as an L.A. woman, but then, I don’t often think of myself as a woman at all. My gender doesn’t define me. Really, I only consciously categorize myself as a woman if I’m filling out a form or searching for a public bathroom.

Important distinction right here.
Important distinction right here.

I’m the one with the A shape. That’s where I need to go. That’s as much as I pigeonhole myself.

After a brief fifteen-year temporary arrangement, L.A. still isn’t my city and it never will be; I was not born here. But, we’ve reached a détente. We don’t fight each other anymore. We accept each other as we are. Even though neither the city nor you see me as the type of woman who moves clear across the country to Los Angeles, that’s just what I am, muddy Converse and all.

Just another lost angel in the city of night.

25 Songs: Day 11 Soundtrack

darrellpeacock.wordpress.com

25-days
25-songs-blog-challenge5

Day 11 – A song from my favorite movie.

This one seems simple, but it’s not. From the age of whenever I saw Star Wars, that was my favorite movie. It was replaced by Blade Runner, which was supplanted by Fight Club. So far, nothing has replaced Fight Club. Although Blade Runner is still my favorite under certain circumstances, I’m going to pick the song at the end of Fight Club because it’s really the only “song” in both movies. The rest of the soundtracks to both are mainly just movie music.

This is the song that appears at the very end of Fight Club. It has always been a favorite song of mine since I’ve long been a fan of the Pixies, but the use of it at the end of Fight Club was a stroke of genius. When I first saw Fight Club, the fact that they used this song took my breath away.

Outgrowing Hipster

hipster-kitty

There was a time when I had to find the new and hidden. As much as I hate to say it, I was pretty much the very definition of hipster in the sense that I sought out things to like before other people liked them. I’ve never cared about being “in,” but I was obsessed with finding “new.” If too many people liked something, I subconsciously found myself backing away from whatever it was. I’m contrary like that. I can’t help it. I blame my grandmother for that ridiculous trait.

Nowadays, not only do I not dig as deep for new stuff anymore, but I don’t even care whether it’s liked by the masses or not. If it’s good, it’s good. If it’s new and good, that’s fine, too.

The problem is that I still find most mainstream stuff to be boring, and this applies to all facets of popular culture from movies to music to books. With rare exceptions, becoming even rarer, I find most blockbuster Hollywood movies to be hackneyed crap. This is nothing new. Hollywood has always repackaged old stuff and sold it as new.

Wizard Of Oz, 1925
The Wizard Of Oz, 1925
Wizard Of Oz 1939.
The Wizard Of Oz, 1939.

It has only gotten worse over the years though. Today, it’s rare that Hollywood studios even bother taking a risk. Why bet on something original when you can just make another Transformers or Batman movie for guaranteed box office sales? Hollywood is a business just like any other. With torrents and downloads, the studios have to rely on box office sales more than they have since television was invented, because they won’t make as much from the back-end DVD sales anymore. Hence the resurgence of 3-D movies. They have to get your butt in the seat somehow.

I still find new things to watch, read and listen to, but now, I’m more like Hollywood. I don’t take as many risks. I don’t search something out just because I like the name. I don’t care how many people like something.

The other day at the dog park, one of my dog owner friends called me a hipster. My initial reaction, like every other hipster on the planet, was to argue, “I’m not a hipster,” because every hipster thinks they’re not a hipster. But, then it struck me that I’m really, truly not a hipster anymore. I’m old and I just don’t give a flying fig about what’s cool or hip or in. And you know what? It’s really, really awesome not caring. I am no longer hipster and that’s rad.

Finding new stuff took up so much of my time and money. It takes a lot of energy to be ahead of, or even in step with, everyone else. It’s not that I consciously tried to do this, I just did. It was in my hipster nature to find the new, the hip, the happening.

hipster-kitty

I’m old and I like it. Just like always, I don’t care if what I wear, listen to, read or watch is cool, but now I don’t even feel the longing for new. I’m perfectly alright with old. I’m cool with listening to music that other people would find embarrassing. I’ll go ahead and wear my muddy Converse All Stars all the way to my grave just as I have always done, whether they’re cool or not. I don’t have a single ironic T-shirt. All of my T-shirts are of things I genuinely like.

Every hipster says they’re not a hipster, but I’m not a hipster. At least, not anymore. Just like always, I like what I like, but now, I don’t care whether you like it or not. These days, I’m more like the technicolor 1939 Wizard Of Oz, not the 1925 version. The hipster in me is dead. Long live the hipster. Cheers to being old and not giving a crap!

On Crying

oncewerewarriors600jakemuss

I don’t cry very often. I’m not one of those females who cries at the end of movies or commercials. I don’t cry when I’m happy. Sometimes, I laugh so hard that I cry from laughter, but that’s only because water needs to escape from my eyes. I think I got all of my crying done when I was an infant and nearly died from Meningitis. I’m told that I cried for months without stopping because bacteria was trying to eat my brain. I think it used up most of my allotted tears.

I have a lot to cry about, more than some anyway, but I don’t cry. Sometimes, I desperately need to cry and I can’t. When that happens, I watch Once Were Warriors. I keep a copy of that movie in case I need to cry. It always works. Every time I watch it, I think it won’t work this time, that my resistance has been worn down, that I’ve seen it too many times and it won’t work again, but then we get to that scene.

I won’t ruin it for you, but there’s a scene where the mother lets out a tremendous primeval wail that does it every single time. That scene is not acting. Rena Owen reached down deep into her soul and pulled that primordial howl from some experience inside of her. It’s true. It’s the truest thing I’ve ever seen in cinema. You just can’t fake a wail like that.

Once Were Warriors is my go to cry movie because it fires on all of my cylinders. There’s child abuse and an abusive relationship. It touches everything in me that I want to keep buried. If you’ve never seen it, you probably should, but bear in mind that it is not an easy film to watch, especially if you have a history like mine.

I didn’t watch Once Were Warriors last night. I wasn’t sad or in pain; I didn’t feel the need to cry. I haven’t even felt the inkling of the need to cry lately, but last night, I cried just the same. All of a sudden, the tears rolled down my face and they wouldn’t stop. It took me a while to even realize that they were there. I couldn’t figure out why they were there, but they just kept rolling.

I cried the sad, knowing tears that, fortunately, only some people can ever know. I didn’t sob or convulse; I just cried. The tears rolled. I didn’t feel better or worse for having done it. It just was.

Sometimes, you just need to cry. Sometimes, the pain and unfairness of it all gets to be too much, and the tears roll. Sometimes, it doesn’t even take Once Were Warriors for them to come and that’s the craziest part of all.

On Violence

ichi_the_killer_event_main

This week’s Daily Post writing challenge is about violence in film. Specifically, they ask whether I think watching violent movies inspires violence in the real world. As usual, there is a poll attached, and as usual, I don’t entirely agree with any of the answers. These polls are always black and white, and my opinion usually falls somewhere in the middle.

Picture 4

Let’s start with the first poll answer: “Yes, violence begets violence, fictional or otherwise.”

In 1888, Jack The Ripper didn’t leave the theater after seeing Michael Bay‘s new movie, Xtr3m3 Xploshuns 9 and start killing people. It’s hard to believe there was ever a world without omnipresent Michael Bay explosions, but it’s true. Thug Behram in India may have murdered 931 people through strangulation in the late 1700s through the early 1800s. Elizabeth Báthory is said to have killed up to 600 people between 1560 and 1614. Gilles de Rais sodomized and killed between 80 and 200 children starting in the spring 1432. Forty of his victims were discovered in Machecoul in 1437.

How you could do anything in this armor is beyond me. Gilles de Montmorency-Laval, c. 1835, wikipedia.
How you could do anything in this armor is beyond me.
Gilles de Rais. Image from wikipedia.

If you notice the dates there, all of those horrific, prolific serial killers were doing their thing long before the invention of television, movies, video games, comic books or death metal music. Serial killers existed well before movies were ever invented so anyone arguing that violent movies cause violence is arguing a contrived point.

The second poll answer isn’t entirely true either: “No, film violence is a scapegoat for deeper social issues.”

As an example of its untruthiness, John Hinckley, Jr. attempted to assassinate President Ronald Reagan because he was obsessed with the movie Taxi Driver, more specifically, the actress Jodie Foster, who plays a 12-year-old child prostitute. Towards the end of the film, the main character, Travis Bickle attempts to assassinate a United States Senator running for president.

Hinckley saw Taxi Driver at least fifteen times (an impressive number when you consider that this was before the days of VHS or internet torrents) and identified way too much with Travis Bickle. He began stalking Foster around the country, writing her letters and calling her, and even enrolled in the same university. When she said she wasn’t interested, he figured she was a little out of his league, which was clearly true. Instead of giving up like any reasonable chap, he decided that he had to enter her league by, you know, killing the President of the United States of America. Crazy logic is crazy. So, he started stalking the President, shot at him point blank six times and missed. He shot three of Reagan’s entourage and Reagan himself was hit by a bullet that ricocheted off the presidential limousine. Everyone survived.

If it weren’t for Taxi Driver, Hinckley probably wouldn’t have tried to assassinate the President. However, if the movie never existed, Hinckley would not have been less crazy. He most likely would have become obsessed with some local girl and done something horribly crazy for her instead. There’s no way that the movie was responsible for Hinckley’s lunacy.

In my typically scattered way, I’ve just proved and disproved the belief that violent entertainment causes real world violence. So, I chose the third answer to the poll: “Maybe, but crazy people will always find something to inspire them.” Strangely, at the time of writing this, my answer is solidly in the majority with 68% of the vote. I’m in the majority! Woot.

Let’s use me as an example. I love some gory movies. I love buckets and buckets of blood on screen. Here are some examples:

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I’ve seen all of those movies and they are all ridiculously violent. There is so much gore that it becomes unrealistic; it almost becomes a caricature of gore. Of course, it’s hard to take a girl with a machine gun for an arm or a robot geisha seriously anyhow, but really, these films are designed to entertain, not to glorify violence. I have seen all of those movies, yet I haven’t killed a single person. In fact, amazingly, I haven’t even attempted to kill anyone. I’ve never been arrested for anything. While I do have a gun and a baseball bat in my room, I have never used either on a single soul, nor would I, unless my life was in danger.

The films in the slideshow are all Japanese movies. They have produced some of the goriest and violent movies in all of cinema, yet their culture is not one of violence. Japan’s murder rate is 0.4% (506 total murders in 2012). From the same source, the United States has a rate of 4.8% (14,748 total in 2012). That’s embarrassing.

So, my real answer to the poll is none and all of the above. Violence in entertainment doesn’t necessarily beget violence in the real world, nor is it totally innocent of it. Humans make our own choices in life and accept the consequences of those choices. Just because some people use violent movies as an excuse, that doesn’t mean that violent movies are guilty or bad. People will always find something to inspire them to violence if they’re looking for it, where those of us not inclined to violence will not.

My Cold War

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I watched a documentary the other day called My Perestroika about the last generation of Soviet kids to grow into young adults before the collapse of the communist Soviet Union in 1991. For some reason, I have always been a little obsessively fascinated with the Soviet Union. This somewhat applies to Russia et al after the fall, but really, The Soviet Union is where it’s at. I’ve never really been able to understand why that is.

And then I watched this documentary and it hit me: the Cold War.

I wasn’t alive for the start of the Cold War. I missed the Korean War and the Cuban missile crisis. I was born well after all that, but I was born into the Cold War all the same.

In the documentary, they talked about what it was like for Russian children during the Cold War. They showed footage of Russian schoolchildren doing emergency drills with gas masks. The people in the film are older than me, but they are my contemporaries just the same. Even though we didn’t have gas masks when I was in school in America, it struck me that their experience wasn’t all that different from my own. They experienced the same threat we did. Somehow, that had never occurred to me before.

I was born and raised in an era where the Soviets and all things communist were the enemy. Russia had nuclear capability on par with America’s and they could strike at any time! I remember doing drills in school in the event of a nuclear attack. Our drills mostly entailed Duck and Cover. The video was hilarious. As if a flimsy school desk would save anyone from a nuclear missile. I suppose it made us feel better that there was something we should be doing in the event of an attack and that was the whole point. Honestly, the Russian children and their gas masks, weren’t any better off.

Image from all over the internet. Impossible to tell the original source.
Image of schoolkids shortly after WWII from all over the internet. It’s impossible to pinpoint the original source (or maybe I’m just lazy).

And the media… Oh, the media. Not unlike today with its “War on Terror!!!1!”, they ramped up the fear factor. The Russians are coming! These are just a few examples of the American propaganda I found, but they are all from long before I was born. The Soviet Union was much better at it.

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America didn’t have an official propaganda ministry like the Russians, but we had Hollywood. There are tons of movies from the 1980s, when I was a kid, that are all about the great Russian communist evil including Rocky IV, a.k.a Rocky goes to Russia to kick some commie ass. Who can ever forget Dolph Lundgren saying “I must break you”? Talk about your underdogs story.

Image from Rocky VI, Studios.
Image from Rocky VI, MGM Studios, 1985.

WarGames was another quintessential American Cold War propaganda movie where a kid confuses a computer named WOPR (because computers had their own names then) and nearly sets off World War III, Global Thermonuclear Annihilation Edition.

War Games, United Artists, 1983.
War Games, United Artists, 1983.

But, the ultimate Cold War movie has to be Red Dawn. Not only is this movie entirely ridiculous and improbable, but it also features a Patrick Swayze snot bubble. That’s real acting, folks. You just can’t fake a snot bubble.

Anyway, the premise of the movie is that The Soviet Union (along with Cuba and Nicaragua) invade the US, specifically Colorado, and some plucky highschoolers try to prevent it.

Red Dawn, 1984.
Red Dawn, United Artists, 1984.

They recently remade Red Dawn for some unknown reason. I can’t imagine why since it is specifically a movie of the Cold War era. It doesn’t translate. You had to be there.

I remember when the made-for-TV movie, The Day After came out in 1983. From the IMDB link: “A graphic, disturbing film about the effects of a devastating nuclear holocaust on small-town residents of eastern Kansas.” Not only did we watch the movie in school, but we were all handed scripts and we had to reenact it in class. I shit you not. Granted I was in Catholic school at the time, so maybe public school kids didn’t have to do that, but still…

The Day After, 1983.
The Day After, 1983.

All of this was designed to feed our terror. The Soviet Union was the enemy and they wanted to take our freedom away. I don’t think anyone who didn’t live through it, who didn’t have the fear of a nuclear war as a constant, niggling threat, can understand what the Cold War was really like. It was full of fear, perpetuated by the media and Hollywood, and even our own teachers when we had emergency drills.

Perestroika is the Russian word for restructuring. It was the fall of communism in The Soviet Union, which effectively ended the Cold War and the Soviet Union itself. After that, Ukraine, Lithuania, Estonia and others became independent. The Soviet Union became Russia. I remember when Gorbachev announce the glasnost (openness) policy. I remember the sigh of relief I felt when it was finally over. We should always remember so that it never happens again.

Ура, Россия. Ты не мой враг. Cheers, Russia. You are not my enemy.

This is your life and it’s ending one minute at a time.

Fight_Club_Quote

Daily Post prompt: Take a quote from your favorite movie — there’s the title of your post. Now, write!

There are too many good quotes in that movie to just use one. Fight Club is my favorite movie. The title used to be held by Blade Runner and it still is depending on how you ask me. But Fight Club won me over the second I saw it and I have not stopped watching it since. When it first came out on DVD, there was a two-week period where I watched nothing but Fight Club. I said I would keep watching it until I didn’t see anything new. I still watch it at least once a year.

I read the book, which I didn’t like as much. The movie is so much better. The framework is there in the book, but the screenwriters did all the heavy lifting. They pared down the unnecessary plot points and added others to streamline it to perfection.

It pisses me off when people entirely miss the point of this movie. Like one of my other favorite movies, A Clockwork Orange, a lot of people seem to think Fight Club is just about violence. For example, Roger Ebert:

“Fight Club” is the most frankly and cheerfully fascist big-star movie since “Death Wish,” a celebration of violence in which the heroes write themselves a license to drink, smoke, screw and beat one another up.

Sometimes, for variety, they beat up themselves. It’s macho porn — the sex movie Hollywood has been moving toward for years, in which eroticism between the sexes is replaced by all-guy locker-room fights. Women, who have had a lifetime of practice at dealing with little-boy posturing, will instinctively see through it; men may get off on the testosterone rush. The fact that it is very well made and has a great first act certainly clouds the issue. more

And Kenneth Turan, film reviewer for the Los Angeles Times and NPR:

“Fight Club,” a film about men who like to fight, is an unsettling experience, but not the way anyone intended. What’s most troubling about this witless mishmash of whiny, infantile philosophizing and bone-crunching violence is the increasing realization that it actually thinks it’s saying something of significance. That is a scary notion indeed. more

Way to miss the entire point, fellas. Ebert’s assumption that men would only enjoy it for the testosterone rush and that women, like me, would only see it as “little-boy posturing” is insulting. You only saw the surface. To quote myself from the post A Fight Club Moment, this is the point:

This life of ours is so goddamn short and so full of nonsensical, man-made distractions that it’s hard to keep perspective at times. Sometimes we lose focus on what actually is important in life and it’s not your bank account or who’s going to win the next American Idol. It’s what you do with the time that you have and what you leave behind you. Have you done everything you could do to make this life worth living? Have you tried everything you could have? Have you been too scared of living to actually live? “If you died right now, how would you feel about your life?” Have you even thought about it? It’s just people out there. People like us. Rocks, water, sky, fish, birds, clouds, grass and trees on a tiny globe wobbling around in infinite space. That’s all there really is. That’s all that’s important anyway. “This is your life and it’s ending one minute at a time.”

That is what Fight Club is about and that is why it’s my favorite movie. It reminds me how much of my time on this planet is spent worrying and fussing over triviality. It reminds me that this life of ours is so short that you can blink and miss it if you’re not careful. It reminds me to take note of the little things. Look up at the stars and realize how tiny we all are. Smell the roses. Find shapes in clouds. Drive with your windows down. Go skinny-dipping. Take off your shoes. Scream if you have to, but live and enjoy it.

This life we have is not about how powerful or rich you are; it’s about living life to the fullest. It’s about finding joy in everything. It’s about being really, truly alive, not just going through the motions. It’s about remembering that it can end at any second, so make the best of it while you can.

5 Movies Everyone Should See At Least Once

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Make a list of movies you believe everyone should see at least once.

Uh oh. There’s no number limit on this question. That could be trouble since I love movies. Not to mention that I can think of about a thousand documentaries that everyone should see, too. Also, my list of favorite films would be different than this list in some cases. This is a list of films I think people either haven’t given a proper chance or just haven’t seen because they’ve never heard of them before and they should.

In the interest of brevity, I’m going to choose just five fictional films. In no particular order:

 Fight Club

As soon as I saw this movie, it instantly became top ten, if not my favorite. Many, many people have entirely missed the point, including Roger Ebert and Kenneth Turan, film critic for the LA Times. This movie is not about violence; it’s about freedom. It might take more than one viewing.

A Clockwork Orange

It’s impossible to pick just one Kubrick film. I think people should see all of them (except Eyes Wide Shut). If I have to pick one that is constantly misconstrued, I’d pick A Clockwork Orange. Like Fight Club, this movie is not about violence. Visually, it is stunning and the message is eternal. Kubrick did an excellent job of turning Burgess’ brilliant book into a marvelous film.

Blade Runner

I don’t mean the theatrical version nor the recent digitally enhanced version, but the original director’s cut. This movie has been my pat answer favorite film of all time since I first saw it. I’m not sure anything could replace it. You might not like it, but I think everyone should see it at least once.

In The Mood For Love

If you’ve never heard of Wong Kar-Wai, you are missing out. In my opinion, this is his best film, though he has many. It is absolutely one of the most beautiful films you are ever likely to see. In cinematography, acting, story, costumes, set design, soundtrack and every other measurable way, In The Mood For Love is an outstanding film. It is as close to perfect as cinema ever gets.

Ikiru

Like Kubrick, it’s impossible to pick just one Akira Kurosawa film. Seven Samurai is my favorite film by him, but if I have to pick one that everyone should see once, it’s Ikiru. There are no flashy samurai in this film, no fight scenes, no historical backdrop, no Toshiro Mifune antics. It is a simple, pared down story that might actually change your outlook on life.

Bonus film: Infernal Affairs

Did you know that Martin Scorcese’s Oscar winning film The Departed is a remake? I didn’t know until I watched it and realized I knew the plot already. If you think The Departed is a good, original movie, watch Infernal Affairs. The original version has a great cast, it’s more succinct (by 50 unnecessary filler minutes), and it’s just generally better than Scorsese’s rip off of it. Besides, it’s part of a trilogy and the second and third movies aren’t half bad. Subtitles are not a bad thing.

Runners Up

Monty Python & The Holy Grail
Seven Samurai
Full Metal Jacket
Paths of Glory
Oldboy
La Bête Humaine
The Best Years of Our Lives
The Battle of Algiers
The Wages of Fear
Woman in the Dunes
Harakiri
Army of Shadows
City Lights
Steamboat Bill, Jr.
Star Wars
Night of the Living Dead
Army of Darkness

…and a million others.

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