Monday, December 27, 1993

Best of 1993

Best Movie: "Hard Target". Bodies were falling everywhere. The acting was wooden (Jean Claude Van Damme emotes less than me) but John Woo's picture was the one I enjoyed most this year. Maybe it was because it was the only movie I went to with someone else, and thus was reminded one of the benefits of the "big screen" experience is sharing the wonder in a communal setting.

Best TV Show: Barry Manilow's "Best of Me" shown recently during PBS's pledge week. To some, Barry was the seventies and to see him arrive in the nineties with a rendition of a Garth Brooks' song, plus a killer version of "Mandy" made me weep and remember a junior high romance. This is a subjective pick, I missed Roger Whittaker's special the following night.

Best Line: The premise-the Simpsons are attending a self helplself improvement seminar (a nineties type thing to do). The presenter ("I may not have the fancy degrees, but I do know about pain") was giving advice about taking care of the "inner child" and not always worrying about taking care of others, that it is "OK" to do something for' yourself. "If you're not a human being, you're a human doing." To which Bart replies, "I'm a human going," as he tries to escape from the hell.

Next Best Line: Philadelphia Phillie's first baseman, John Kruk, when asked what it felt like to be facing a "sudden death" scenario: "If you're going to die, I suppose it's best it be sudden. "

The Dan Quayle Award: Family values, a friend, and Max the cat continuing to show what a companion can be. The complete picturelpackage, the time-feeling continuum and writing for and about, talking to and at.

Best Trip: An excursion to our nation's Capitol, proved to me life on the road, traveling, is the best inspiration of all, made even better by family and friends.

Best CD: Paul McCartney's "Paul is Live". I bought this out in DC impressed with the wacky cover. Two days later, I finally got the real joke; Paul ain't dead, he's live. " And they say I'm losing my sense of humor. . . The nostalgia is a bit sad, but two of what were my least favorite Beatle songs, "Drive My Car" and "Paperback Writer" are now among my favorite because I got to "share" in the experience of the writer being able to "enjoy" his work. Ten years after Paul learned he was a lover not a fighter, he learned he is a performer not an artist.

Best song: Soul Asylum's "Runaway Train". The kids got popular, and the video was just hype, but the song is wonderful nonetheless.

Best Couple: Lyle and Julia. Worst Couple: (Tie) Joey and Amy or John and Loreena.

Best Energy Saving: Tip: Car pooling. It can work. Second place: Bike riding. What a gas.

What's HOT: Hats, Holly Hunter, Snapple, Smoking, Dilbert, Magritte, memorials.

What's < LUKE WARM: Malls, voice mail, E-mail, fax machines, Freddie "the Beedle" Barnes, movies made from books, getting back to one's "roots", wild card baseball races.

Monday, December 20, 1993

Sucking Big

We all know the most difficult decision to make in life is trying to choose a video taped movie to watch with another person. It begins with agreeing on the category: comedy, drama, musical, documentary, foreign, new releases, so many to choose from. Once the genre is decided, there has to be a choice made on whether you want a movie a) neither one has seen b) one has seen but the other hasn't c) the other has seen but the other hasn't d) both have seen and liked e) a movie both have seen and one liked etc. . .

There are several big name, big budget movies due out soon. Among these is the top grossing picture of all time, Steven Spielberg's Jurassic Park. A two word review of the movie would read, "It bites."

Spielberg's best movies are filled with wonder, made from the hand of an expert filmmaker, one who loves the magic of the medium itself. All Jurassic Park lacks is not only that sense of wonder, but a sense of drama, of humor, of fun, and of any entertaining qualities whatsoever.

The problems begin with the premise that humans would bring back dinosaurs solely for commercial purposes. In real life this may very well be true but one of this movie's objectives is to suspend reality. To give in to the cynicism, the heavy handed message (humans playing God: "God made dinosaurs, God killed dinosaurs, God made man, Man killed God, Man made Dinosaurs)-ruins and robs us of any reason to watch Jurassic Park.

The one thg that could have saved the movie, its special effects, fail to excite. There is nothing particularly spectacular about the dinosaurs. We're expecting to be awed but we're not. These days we can see just about anything in the movies, so a re-creation of something that we bring in pre-conceived notions, has much to live up to. David Letterman called them "mechanical lizards" but they're more like big elephants. Save your money- go see a hippo at your local zoo.

Compared to the humans in the movie however, the dinosaurs at least have a little personality, looks and beauty. With the exception of the Jeff Goldblum character, everyone else is a twit. Whenever there is a bad move to make, a stupid decision to arrive at, the humans undoubtedly move quickly. These characters make their counterparts in the old Godzilla movies look llke tactical geniuses.

And that is the underlying problem with the movie. Spielberg never decides whether he wants to make another wondrous science fiction "amazing" story or whether he wants to make a horror picture. We are told the dinosaurs are not monsters, they're just doing what they do. Yet the last third of the movie is standard stuff old monster movies of yesteryear were filled with. Add to that a pseudo political, psychological message (what would motivate someone to steal a dinosaur embryo?) and the whole experience is a wretched exercise. I guess if you make things big enough, it doesn't matter how much they suck. Proves what hype and marketing can accomplish. This movie is a monstrosity, or should we say, a dinostrocity.

Santa in Atlanta, Like an Icon

Seasons greetings from your friends on the newsletter staff. We sincerely hope you are enjoying a safe and happy holiday season, while somehow surviving the stress of the shopping rush.

The hustle, bustle and tussle, the traditions that you must follow, can cause one's blood pressure to be hotter than a paper plate inside a microwave oven, not to mention the mood swings that become wider than Uncle Smokey's hips. Just remember to take the time to enjoy the spirit of the many festivities going on as well as reflect on the "true" meaning of the season.

Last week for example, we attended the K-3 Christmas presentation of St. Rose of Lima's Church in Roseville. Our young artist pen pal, Katie (see back page, original art work used by permission of guardian), did an extra special, extraordinary, fabulous job as the second wiseman. A great time was had by all (sorry we had to miss SK's holiday bash that probably out bashed them all).

Also thanks to we discovered a TV show called "Allo Allo" played on Friday nights between 10- 11 on Channel 2. It's a British comedy based in a Frenchman's pub, about his relations with the Germans and British during World War 11. It's a much better version of "Hogan's Heroes. " Check it out.

We want to take this opportunity to thank the many who contributed to the newsletter this past year. We enjoyed hearing from you, and appreciated all the effort and hard work. Also, thanks to those who have already gotten their end of the year lists in. So far all the contributions have been hn reading and entertaining. Next week's issue will be most excellent. A reminder for those still making your list and checking it twice, please get it to the warehouse by Sunday, December 26. The fax number is 644-8566. We truly hope to hear from everybody.

This week's issue is one of our sporadic "theme" efforts that has won us awards in the past. We take a long look at those wacky prehistoric creatures, the Dinosaurs. We hope you learn something as well as laugh and cry. . Enjoy the journey.

Monday, December 13, 1993

GnR Covers Manson

You'll have to excuse me if I'm in a surly mood (Dave in a bad mood, Surprise!), but the production of the newsletter this week has been difficult. Does anyone know Pagemaker? Could you please assist me? Hep me!

There's something else in my craw and you probably know how painful that can be. Maybe it's ignorance, maybe it's insensitivity but can someone explain to me what the brouhaha over Guns and Roses' decision to record a supposed Charles Manson song is? What is the issue?

No, I suppose we shouldn't be rewarding mass murderers. You kill someone, you lose some privileges others in society get to enjoy. I can go along with that. No use giving criminals any kind of motivation. Rather, I would agree we should set up some pre-determined deterrents. No one should profit over breaking the law (right Mr. Milken?)

Yet. . . throughout history, artists have often been tortured souls. Who would disagree Charles Manson must have some intriguing view on the human condition? If Billy the Kid was a poet, or Jack the Ripper a painter, or Adolph Hitler a sculptor, wouldn't it be historically significant to see their work? Wouldn't it help us understand the isolated insane?

Yes, it probably isn't right that Manson might be in line to receive some royalties from the song. But it is only money. If the system works, Manson himself won't be able to enjoy any benefits no matter the amount he might receive. And the rest of us might learn something along the way.

Maybe the issue is letting Manson get "his" message out to a large audience thus giving it some type of legitimacy. But the song is hardly one that proposes violence against others. It's quite literally just another song. Unfortunately the boys in the band, especially Slash and Axl have decided to give in to the controversy and back away from their decision to include the song on their CD.

Art isn't something that has defined morals. Even a member of the Supreme Court once defined obscenity as ". . .knowing it when I see it." The best art is often created by outcasts, by people who don't fit get 'his' message out to a large audience thus giving it some type of in with the rest of society. (Having never claimed to be an artist, 1-for one would jump off that bridge if the rest of the people did it.) The best art takes a creative often times unusual mind, and allows the rest of us to understand (if only briefly) the thoughts of one who thinks very differently.

For me, G'n'R has done much more offensive work. That they can relate to the mindset of Manson shouldn't surprise anyone who has followed the history of the band and particularly Axl. The new CD is pretty damn good and the publicity the one song has gotten unfortunately takes away from the rest of the work.

Monday, December 6, 1993

What I Learned In DC

"Many works of feminist ethics and theory suffer from problems of essentialism and related exclusions. Such theories tend to look for that which is essential to women's existence but excluded from male centered theory. Even when this essential core of women's experience is not regarded as unchanging, in an analysis along the single axis of gender, not all women fit into the category of 'women'."
-Occidental College Professor Donna Maeda

"The essence of woman debate places women in the peculiar position of having to insist that all women are the same or else that, as Kristeva says, strictly speaking, there is no such thing as woman."
-Emory University Professor Wendy Farley .

"She sure is bubble gum for the eyes."
-Certified Goofball David Maeda

Society as we know it, has its problems. Social injustice, oppression, discrimination, power games are among a sliver of what groups of "minorities" (and others) have to face in addition to all the day to day hardships of human existence.

So what are the options to deal with the burdens of every day living? One can attempt to fight the established unjust walls of all the ills hoping to make a dent, hoping the effort will lead to a better way of life for all who might follow; and glean some meaning and satisfaction in the struggle itself.

One can also fight through the troubles, lending a voice where the opportunity presents itself. Playing the part of a passive, part-time activist, you make the justification spending a lifetime of work fighting an uphll battle isn't desirable.

The last option is to give in to the system; to give in to cynicism. You move forward admitting an individual can't make a difference, can't change the years of an immoral set of rules. You close your mind to troubles that obviously exist, choosing consciously to find meaning in day to day life or even more eternal issues of right and wrong; a belief that justice will prevail when it all really matters.

One can't endorse what is up to the individual to work through. As the man once wrote, "People do what's most convenient than they repent ..." Maybe some of us thmk about ideals when night falls and the glow of the day's embers dims, but generally the pile of green tags in the comer left to price is more of a pressing issue.

One of the hardest traps to escape is trying to attach meaning to all that goes on around you. You have to continually ask what does this mean? but you also have to sometimes realize it doesn't mean anything. Things just happen. To allow another's opinion help shape your own, to let what "society" thinks, influence thinking is to become a victim. Sometimes that's another one of those "easy" choices. Sometimes it's a matter of too much thought; other times it's a lobotomy, of not thinking at all.

The struggles some women face, the problems some people of color deal with, are too large to group into categories. In a sense "women" don't exist. Debbie might, as might Melissa. But they aren't generically the same. What is the definition of a "woman"? The problems are deepened when to understand another, people begin to "identify" groups of "similar" people.

A disturbing trend that has become too prevalent is that of "marketing" to or trying to "appeal" to demographically separated tribes of "like" people. It's an insult to lump people in with others that might look the same, might be the same age, might have similar backgrounds, as if similarities mean we are the "same" people. Individual perceptions, individual thoughts and feelings? What do they matter?

Experts or as Sid would call them, "geniuses" exist everywhere you look. Concern and "right thinking" or political correctness are fashionable at the moment. It's better to be sensitive caring 90's type person than to admit what goes on out there doesn't really matter in the end. Just read Ecclesiastes. "Political activism" is trying to make a fashionable comeback.

"Binary thinking silences real speech. And we must ask why we are speaking. In the patriarchal and academic world, the speech of one is privileged over another. Speech is a form of silencing opponents. Debate and criticism are modes of attacks."
-Angela Graboys

"I and I the creation where one's nature neither honors or forgives. "
-Bob Dylan

I don't pretend to understand women (ain't that stating the obvious) or more specifically "women's" issues. Some of the more identifiable concerns are the pressures culture places upon many "women". Newsworthy "stories" of eating disorders, sexism, discrimination, harassment, the over emphasis on "fashion" are all items that have gotten attention from the press and the elite "concerned". (Is it better to be blissfully, by choice, unconcerned or to involve oneself for guilt's sake?) To sort the "truth" out is to become numb to all that segments of our population must face or worse, endure.

"Feminism" is a threat because those in "power" lose control. It's equally a threat because it creates another category in which to identify "women". It stifles original thought like any label inherently does. But it also gives comfort, a way for a group to find reinforcement in self identified similar beliefs. Thus the danger becomes relying too dependently on another's viewpoint to give some type of self credibility to one's thinking; the most subservient submissive mind set one can buy into. People for whatever reason seem to need the constant stroking of knowing original thought somehow co-exists with a larger collective. To be accepted is all some strive for.

Whatever one's "religious" convictions may be, in the end, to many another's perceptions and opinions mean as much as what one has managed to accumulate. It would seem all that matters is whether one has done what one set out to do, or what one was meant to do.

Putting it all into some sort of acceptable perspective is a lifetime task. But it is also an individual, sometimes solitary bridge we all must eventually cross.