Oct 30, 2014

Life & Times: Belle Of The Ball

Me as Belle cheesing severely hard at age 6 on Halloween '92 
Halloween is really enjoyed best as a kid. As I go kicking and screaming into adulthood I realize that Halloween is now an excuse for adults to be assholes. It's Halloween! Let me be as racist, sexist, insensitive, and as idiotic as I can possibly be! Woot woot! Whether it's a retailer taking extra special care to enrage and chastise their consumers or some fools thinking they're oh so clever by dressing up as the latest tragic current event, every year I begin to feel that hanging out with Dracula and even fucking Pennywise the Clown are better than associating with adults on Halloween.

So that's why I choose to reach for nostalgia during this ghoulish time, because it was when Halloween wasn't the national holiday for assholery. It was just the last day in October where I was supposed to get dressed up, stuff my face with candy, and watch Halloween and Hocus Pocus till my eyes droop. Nothing more and nothing less.

Aside from the candy and the horror films, the number one thing I loved about Halloween was dressing up in a costume and pretending to be someone else for the day. I have been many things throughout Halloween --- a Power Ranger (the pink one, duh), a cheerleader (when I was a marching band nerd...it's an oxymoron y'all!), and even Zombie Tina Turner (which I've been since college because I'm broke). Still, I have yet to have a Halloween costume like the one I had when I was six years old.

Oct 29, 2014

Muse: Pretty Princesses Drop F-Bombs For Feminism

Hmm. Hmm. Hrrumph.

At first glance, I wasn't sure what to make of this video sponsored by socially aware clothing retailer FCKH8 that features little girls dressed up as princesses who are continuously spouting out the word "fuck" to spread awareness over sexism. The video begins harmlessly with the girls saying the word "pretty" and acting all precious, till one of the girls interrupts the pretty party and screams, "What the fuck!" while declaring how she's not 'a pretty and helpless princess'. With furrowed brows and arms akimbo, the girls then ask the question: what is more offensive, little girls saying the word "fuck?" or gender equality?

Trick question.

Mostly people are going with the former as far as the video's comments suggest (enter the comment lair if you dare), because we can't be having little girls in frilly dresses and sparkly crowns smarting off as if they are auditioning to be a Goodfella. Yet, ha ha ha, FCKH8 have bamboozled you right into the web of truth as this is exactly the type of rise they were hoping to get, that obviously people will rush to bemoan that a little girl saying "fuck" is highly and morally mucho more offensive than sexual assault. Gotcha good, didn't they?

Okay, sure, FCKH8 walk a thin line with this. Using children to push for what is considered an adult situation always makes people queasy, because it courts depravity, it corrupts the 'delicacy' of childhood. True, some of what is presented here is for shock. I was especially uneasy at the line where the girls were discussing the stat over how many women will be raped, and one little girl questions, "which one of us will be next?" Quite appalling, yes, but so is the statistic itself. That is why we need to cut the 'wrecking innocence' bullshit for a second, because 'F-Bombs For Feminism' is saying some valid things through the mouths of their little sass pot babes.

Oct 27, 2014

Impressions: The Devilish Details In 'Rosemary's Baby'

"Tannis, anyone?"

The devil is in the details.

For me, it's the tiny, blink-and-you-might-miss-them details that are sprinkled throughout Rosemary's Baby that make it the classic film that it is. For the horror genre, Rosemary's Baby raised the bar on how horror films, especially psychological horror films, were to be executed for the following decade as it made sure to take the details presented (and those that were cleverly hidden) and have them take on bigger, unnerving forms and meanings by film's end --- everything is truly not what it appears to be at first glance.

When it was released, Rosemary's Baby diverted boldly away from the usual horror film set-up. Gone were the dark and stormy nights and Gothic castle settings of 1960s Hammer horror films. The setting of terror was now a posh apartment house in the middle of the hustle and bustle of 1960s New York City, its horrors confined in its claustrophobic quarters and illuminated in broad daylight. Gone are the snarling creatures that rise out of coffins and stumble around in fog saturated forests. The creatures are now humans in guises of busy-body octogenarians and a suave and seemingly devoted husband.

The horror is still just as unsettling as any old-fashioned chiller --- a young woman (Mia Farrow) becomes a pawn in a Satanic plot and is unknowingly raped and impregnated by the Devil himself --- but it's modernized by its eerie and slow burning build-up, its stark normalcy, and the pinpricks of foreshadowing that all seem mismatched and obtuse, even insane, but then come creepily together by film's end.

Not a minute or a movement is wasted in Roman Polanski's 1968 masterpiece, and to my knowledge, it follows Ira Levin's novel of the same name right down to every last detail. I know NBC had the dumb idea to make a TV mini-series remake recently, and from watching clips it left me with a chalky under taste (heh). I don't even know why they tried, I mean, you just can't recreate chilling intricacy like the 1968 version did. Plus everyone in the original film gives great performances, especially Farrow, who's innocence is just ruptured so chillingly, and Ruth Gordon, who is just so amazing as the comical and creepy Minnie Castevet. You just can't replicate or even top those performances.

You can't even replicate the look of this film. It's brightly lit for the most part, which thrusts the sinister events out in the naked open, and everything is so oddly colorful and has that great '60s Mod style that it's feels strange, dreamy, and trance-like throughout, like everything that's happening can't possibly be --- but it is. Even when that odd 'drugged dream' sequence creeps in, you never leave it after the fact, and really the movie began like a hazy nightmare right from the beginning, and you're just constantly feeling dread mount as the film progresses thanks to these stark seemingly natural, everyday images being distorted.

I never watch this movie the same way as I did before. I'm always finding something new that I missed, some little quote spoken that takes on new meaning or those fine-tuned little details that spring up to change my perspective or question others (though I still don't buy into the "Rosemary was hallucinating the whole thing" theory, total BS). I know every twist and turn, and of course, the doomed outcome, but it still feels fresh, and never am I not trying to warn Rosemary to get away from those meddling neighbors and that shifty-eyed husband of hers. I'm also never not chilled over the fact that a woman's pregnancy, something that is supposed to be intimate and innocent is turned into something so perverse. Oh, and that devil rape/procreating scene? --- absolutely terrifying.

Oct 22, 2014

Writer's Block: 8 Things I Learned During National Novel Writing Month

Gypsy Rose Lee writing her book, The G-String Murders (1941)
I'm the grand dame of drafts. Of starting, stopping, and somewhat finishing. You should see all the unpublished posts I have in the post drafts of this blog. You should see all the drafts that are stuffed on my computer documents and jump drives. To the gills. One of these days those drafts will be finalized, but for now they are the start of something, which is, to me, the most exciting part of the writing gamut.

November is National Novel Writing Month and it is all about the first draft. It's the start of some molecule of a story that could end up being the greatest thing ever put down on paper (or not, but flow with me..). They really should call it National First Draft Month because that's what it truly is, but I think the military might get peeved about that title.

So what exactly is National Novel Writing Month?

National Novel Writing Month (or NaNo for short) is where for 30 days people attempt to write 50,000 words on a novel, a short story, a book of poetry, a screenplay, etc., and go batshit crazy during the process.

Oct 20, 2014

Impressions: 'Big Driver' Explores The Monsters We Know All Too Well

In horror stories we're used to viewing the sharp, blood dripping fangs of a vampire or seeing a restless specter wreak havoc on unsuspecting non-believers, forcing them to believe that things do go bump in the night. That there are ghouls, goblins, and demons, and that their existence is without understanding --- just happenstance. Those monsters are easy to decode, easier to run in the opposite direction from. Yet, human beings translate different.

We toss around the word "normal" or "ordinary" whenever we describe people, especially in the aftermath of horrific acts because it just seems outlandish for anyone to be step outside of those things. Serial killers were "normal" acquaintances to their friends, lovers, and family. Their victims were just "ordinary" harmless people minding their own business till tragedy struck. Or so we're told. Lines are often blurred.

Humans, all of us so "ordinary" and "normal" may offer kindness and a smile, but we're just as easily capable of turning around and snarling, showing our fangs, and sending people running. Lifetime's Big Driver explores the horrors of humanized monsters, as we follow one woman's confrontation with not just the horror of her defilers, but her coming face-to-face with the monster that has been awoken within her.

Oct 11, 2014

What I ♥ Today: Malala Brings The Peace

When I grow up, I want to be Malala Yousafzai. Seventeen years old, a champion for women's education rights, with courage and intelligence by the tons, and now the youngest recipient of a Nobel Peace Prize.


Oct 10, 2014

Writer's Block: 8 Fictional Femme Characters That Shaped Me As A Writer

We are all influenced by something, somebody. As a writer, an artist who 'paints' images with words, I don't always turn to the writers whose work practices I desire for sparks of inspiration. Most of the time, the films and television shows I view, the music I obsessively collect and absorb, and the characters that leap out of the dogged-eared novels on my bookshelf influence how my writing flows on the page.

A lot of these mediums began as scribbled down ideas on paper, so my practice of it is nothing obscure, but sometimes I feel that a lot of the fictional characters in these films, television shows, and books spark my creativity more than real-life people. I guess because sometimes real flesh and blood folk can be disappointing because they evolve with age and experience, or they masquerade their true selves in order to conform to the ebb and flow of society. They are disappointing because they are duh! human. Flawed and fluctuating fuck-ups. Fictional characters, especially the well-drawn ones, are ones that are fixated in their vibe. They are never-changing --- they are as is --- and you can return to them again and again, and they are exactly as you remembered them last. I don't know about you, but there is some comfort in knowing that.

Growing up I saw a lot of images of what a "woman writer" was supposed to be. A lot of what I saw was either a thirty, flirty, and thriving dame who stuck pencils in her teeth and hairbun, or a salt- tongued navigator who could rock a mean blazer and swap wits and snarks with the boys. All of them were saddled with a 'you're gonna make it after all' quest to conquer the newsroom and the 'big city' --- which was 9 times out of 10 was always New York City. Still a lot of of the fictional journalistic and writing femmes I admired were not Carrie Bradshaws, Mary Tyler Moores, Murphy Browns, or any character Kate Hudson has played in a film. They fit my scope. They were unconventional. They were stumbling through life in heels and high-tops. They were somewhat misbegotten, yet I didn't forget them as they inspired me and continue to inspire me to put pen to paper, fingers to keyboard, urging me to let it all pour out.

Oct 2, 2014

Book Looks: The Antagonist Of Self & Setting In 'Midnight Cowboy'

From synopsis alone, there wasn't any way I could relate or even care about the tale of a naïve guy in the 1960s with rose-colored dreams of taking New York City by storm as a male prostitute. Those aren't shoes I walk in or have even come close to walking by. Yet, James Leo Herlihy makes me walk in them, makes me become involved, as after being sucked into Joe Buck’s lonely, seedy, and reckless world, meeting the depressing little lump that is Rico "Ratso" Rizzo, thrown about the underworld of New York's shivering and starving nights, and then being released from all of that confusion and soil with a hard shove out the door by novel’s end --- I was nodding my head. I got it. I understood. I formed compassion, and in a lot of ways, I related. I got it all completely and now I’m left feeling numb and consumed by this classic tale of friendship, hard lessons, and isolation.

Midnight Cowboy is an extremely H-E-A-V-Y story. Sorry for the caps, but it has to be emphasized that this isn't an easy, breezy sunshine of a read. I hadn't seen the notorious X-rated movie before reading the book. All I knew of the film was that it won a Best Picture Oscar, that it starred Jon Voight and Dustin Hoffman, and from the iconic film poster, they made them look shaaady as all get out.

My vagueness on the story and the movie helped me to enjoy being shaken out of my plush environment. I'll admit this isn't the type of book that I would immediately pick up, and I wasn't sure about it when I began reading, but within a few pages I became charmed at how Herlihy has written what is the ultimate tome of isolation, focusing chillingly on the irony of being surrounded by people and still feeling as insignificant as possible as he takes us through every cracked sidewalk step into a man's reluctant and brutal coming-of-age.