31 July, 2008

Step Aside, Summer Blockbusters!

I know that there must be some deep-seated psychological reason as to why I am so eager to see a fictionalized version of my country's nearly eight-year long nightmare onscreen, but I'll be damned if that's going to stop me from seeing this movie:

Forget Twilight and its surrounding hype, I'll be spending $10 on seeing this film!

Meanwhile, my intense dislike of George W. Bush is nicely balanced by my intense adoration of Patti Smith--and, rather awesomely, there is a film about her that is soon to be released:

[In case the embedded trailer above refuses to work, it is also viewable here.]

25 July, 2008

Mondo Video: Music Videos That I Don't Hate

I have a complicated relationship with music videos. I remember seeing the video for Brandy and Monica's song "The Boy is Mine" when I was 11 years old or so, and thinking, "That's what I have to look forward to as a young woman--being in constant competition with other young women for boyfriends and the like? Ewww."

I saw the video for Garbage's "Push It" soon after, and found that I could relate to that video much more. The song was weird, the woman singing it was both in control and viciously beautiful (on her own terms, too!), and the video was completely bizarre. I found myself wishing that I could inhabit such an odd environment, one that did not seem available to the majority of women in music videos; often, the women in videos were reduced to sex toys for the male performers, or worse, singing almost exclusively about about their sexual capabilities. There were (and still are) obvious exceptions to this, but at that time, sex (or the appearance of it) sold. In many regards, sex still sells. (Try uttering that phrase three times fast.) For a more academic/media studies-esque view on this topic, check out Sut Jhally's excellent Dreamworlds 3: Desire, Sex and Power in Music Video.

If you'll allow me to indulge my nostalgic tendencies for a bit, here is Garbage's "Push It":

From around the same time period (late 1990s), here is Tori Amos's "Talula":

And another Tori video, this time for "Raspberry Swirl." It's sort of like the Garbage video in that it involves a weird alternate universe:

Tom Waits's "God's Away on Business." I might be an atheist, but damn do I love this song and its accompanying video (dig those ostriches!):

Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds' "Do You Love Me," which does some interesting things with gender (lots of drag queens):

And, to end, Alanis Morissette's latest video ("Underneath"). It is a bit cheesy, but I do like the special effects:

22 July, 2008

Happy Blogiversary...

Winnie and I wish to congratulate my fabulous blog buddies Amandaw and OuyangDan, both of whom are celebrating their blogiversaries this week!

As you can see, Winnie is very happy about the blogiversaries of these two fantastic women:

Congrats to you both on your outstanding blogging, and here's to more of the same!

18 July, 2008

Mondo Video Friday: Lulz Edition

In an effort to get myself to blog more, I'll be blogging every Friday about various video clips from around the internet that I find especially amusing, pertinent or thought-provoking. This week, the theme is "Videos that make me laugh because of their ineptitude." [Pro tip: If you get the lovely "This video is no longer available" error message, try reloading the page, or going straight to YouTube to watch the video. You can always use the back button on your browser to come back here for my acidic commentary.]

First, let's start off with Scarlett Johansson's video for "Falling Down," from her recently released and incredibly ill-advised collection of Tom Waits covers:

OH, SCARJO. She is such a talented actress--why she felt that she needed to get into the music industry is totally beyond me. Assuming that you already have a successful career, actual talent, lovely and youthful good looks, and millions of dollars, here are the ingredients that one needs to make something like ScarJo has done here:

1. Find a chronically underappreciated, unique musical talent who has been in the industry for decades, and claim his or her work as an "inspiration." If this person is famous for their lack of vocal talent, even better!

2. Make an entire album of covers of this person's songs. Be sure to drown all of the great songs that you select with crazy overproduction, as well as your own inability to carry a tune (don't worry too much about the latter; hopefully, with its evil twin, overproduction, no one will notice! Also, don't skimp when it comes to the pretension of the cover art!

3. To make the video, film some random shit, use your song as background music, and add liberal sprinklings of every young, trust fundy art school student film cliche ever, including: Lars von Trier-esque handheld camera work; shots of yourself looking variously pensive, bored, and vaguely anxious; cool-toned lighting; close-up shots of a process that no one finds particularly new or interesting; something to do with automobiles; overused time-lapse photography.

Stir. Serve chilled. Watch the money (or criticism) roll in! If you're lucky, iTunes might even invite you to contribute a live set to their series of "exclusive downloads"!

Next up, we have Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds' video for "Stagger Lee," off of one of my desert island discs, Murder Ballads.

NOT SAFE FOR WORK, or for children, due to lots of swearing and just a bit of homoeroticism. It will come as a surprise to no one that I once wrote a term paper for a music class on the song, the video and the homoerotic dynamics of both (as usual, I read waaaaaay too much into both song and video and used Michel Foucault's seminal The History of Sexuality to support my argument). It's pretty clear as to why I chose to write about it:

Love the song, kind of love the video simply because it is so hilariously bad. Let me count the ways: Nick Cave's dancing, his silver pants, and his Take That! shirt; the fact that there are no women in this video, and yet everyone involved seems somewhat oblivious to the homoerotic subtext of both song and video; the video's complete irrelevance to the actual subject of the song.

I was also going to post that damn Katy Perry video that everyone seems to love, because I hate it, but it won't embed! Blast.

10 July, 2008

Just Allergies?

Surely, there must be a better way to explain the allergic reactions that, periodically, send me into anaphylactic shock, along with a bunch of other crap. I experienced a particularly scary one a few nights ago, and had to go to the hospital.

Many people, when they hear the phrase "allergic reaction," automatically think of hay fever or something seasonal, or, at the very least, something very mild that can be magically solved with an antihistamine pill. My allergic reactions--the serious ones--have the potential to (as one ER doctor so bluntly put it to me a few years back) kill me. I have had these reactions off-and-on since the age of 14. They do not happen as frequently anymore, since some of the culprits ended up being certain foods; however, on occasion, these "attacks" still strike without any warning or wrongdoing (wrong-fooding?) on my part. As with many sudden health-related crises, they are terrifying.

Let me put it this way: These things usually start out with little twitches of something (or things) that is (or are) obviously not-quite-right. It may be the itchy feeling on or in my eyeballs, which causes them to feel like a particularly sneaky bug is creeping across the surface of my corneas. It might be--to put it gently--gastrointestinal distress, wherein what feels like a big-ass snake is eating its merry way through your lower intestines (and boy, does that one show up in colorful ways). It may be the firey, nails-on-chalkboard feeling that your lungs start to have; mere minutes later, you might not be able to breathe. All of these things may start within minutes of each other. Next: You cannot breathe. Forcing an antihistamine pill down your swollen gullet becomes akin to forcing a too-big bite of something down your throat; it can be done, but dammit, it takes a hell of a lot of work. The final touch of this "allergic reaction" may manifest in something that my mom, hilariously, calls "Homer Simpson eyes": your eye sockets will swell; they will look like purple and red-toned boils stuck to your face. In other words, you will not look human for a while, and you certainly will not feel human.

Those close to me--my family, my partner, and my close friends--take this matter seriously. They know what the signs are, and they certainly know that if I say that I need to go to the hospital, I mean it. Hospital staff, usually, also take these attacks seriously. I can, fortunately, count on one hand the number of times that I have had to yell (more accurately, wheeze) to an ignoramus desk clerk that this shit will kill me if they don't do something. If I were not white, or if I were poor, or without health insurance, the few times I've had to resort to such a gambit probably would not have worked. It is likely that I would not be typing this.

Some people do not take these reactions, and the resulting medication regimen in the days afterward, seriously. Let's see: There was a former friend of my family who had a "dream" that I was faking these attacks to get parental attention, and then, the next day (as if on cue!) called my mom up and told her this. My mom, to her credit, angrily hung up the phone and refused to speak to this person ever again. (I can't help but wonder what this former friend would think of my fibromyalgia! Ha.) There was the boss I had a few years ago who, after I had an attack at work (which she was not around to witness), accused me of conspiring to close her shop for the day by having an attack (nevermind that I worked full time for her, and had not missed a day of work before then) in order to get her to lose money. She also threatened to withhold payment if her store "lost money" as a result of my taking the day off after going to the ER and being put on a medication regimen that made me a less-than-effective salesperson. Now, this seemed ludicrous to me at the time, and it still does; why would anyone pre-mediate a serious allergic reaction, particularly if it would cause them pain and suffering?

The above examples make me very glad that some people will never have to experience serious health problems; good for them! I am, at present, extremely lucky to have a job where my superiors take the health and well-being of all of their employees seriously. I'm fully aware that I am extremely lucky to be in this sort of situation; many people are not so lucky. I believe that this needs to change.

I'm not entirely sure how to end this--my regimen of steroid pills seems to be kicking in, so I'm going to end this post. In sum: Allergic reactions can be serious business.