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Hollywood Razzle Dazzle

While listlessly trolling through the entertainment options on the various services, I noticed that Academy award winner La La Land had appeared amidst the thronging contenders–and in a moment of unwarranted optimism, clicked.
BLAM!
We’re in Los Angeles! A freeway, clogged with thousands of cars, honking, beeping–and then, one woman starts singing, gets out of her car–AND EVERYBODY STARTS DANCING!

High jinks!
Well, medium jinks actually.
Slipping towards low jinks, even.
The music is unmemorable, the dancing is merely competent, the costumes uninspired.
But wait, perhaps it was just my jaded point of view–stop being such a KVETCH, old lady!
So (despite all temptations to move to other stations) I doggedly kept watching.
The ladies, really, quite lovely! The young man quite handsome! Plus, he plays the piano!
So, the young couple, finally together, are on a hill with the city lying before them, all magic and twinkling lights! A song is building! Our young hero twirls on a handy lamp post–!
And alas, having foolishly invited the deadly comparison with Singing in the Rain, the movie sinks like a stone.

Ryan Gosling is a likeable lad, but he is no Gene Kelly.
Sigh. The music so pallid, the dancing so uninspired. This is Hollywood? How are the mighty fallen.
Really, for a shot of pure brilliant joy, just watch Singing in the Rain. It may be 65 years old but it has that wonderful youthful happiness so lamentably absent from La La Land.
Back in the 50’s, dear friends, Hollywood was truly dazzling.

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I imagine most TV show producers are casting the envious glance at Game of Thrones–WHY, WHY, is everybody watching that one and not the fine shows produced by, say, themselves? Think of the frantic meetings, the elaborate Powerpoints with Action Bullets, the tense discussions:

Violence

  • Check, totally have that covered

Naked ladies

  • check, totally have that covered

Beheadings

  • WAIT–this MUST BE IT! No beheadings in the series!
  • YET!

So, all these producers start frantically searching scripts to see where a beheading could most easily be slipped in.
And I am here to tell you that The Defenders (indefensible comic book series on Netflix) proudly presented not one but TWO beheadings! Yes!
Related image

No dragons though.

Ignite the Passion

The other day I edited a report in which I came across a figure so stupendously fatuous that I instantly set out to share it with you, dear friends.
But then, I thought of Scrooge’s chilly remark to Bob Cratchit–about how he might find himself celebrating the season by losing his situation.
And, I stayed my hand.
So, I will not give you a link to the report in which this amazingly instance of imbecilitude is to be found.
However, using the Magics of Language, I will attempt to describe it for you.
Imagine a figure which shows three columns of text boxes, all forcefully arrowing towards the one box on the left column (in this very special world, we read right to left, like Arabic) which is titled ‘Building Relationships at the Community Level to Achieve the Triple Aim’.
Triple?
The other two columns are titled “Secondary Drivers” and “Primary Drivers“. So, perhaps two Drivers = 3 Aims? That is, each Driver =1.5 Aims?
Anyway, let us not be bothered with vulgar arithmetic.
The boxes in the Drivers columns are crammed with text written in the imperative voice, ‘Create Innovation’, ‘Liberate’, etc. In one of the boxes in the Secondary Drivers column I was completely delighted to discover “Ignite the Passion“.
Not the sort of thing one expects in what purports to be a scientific document.
Naturally, I sent it out to all my colleagues at the office–well, those who would not be reporting me to Mr. Scrooge, that is.
And then, watching a silly show the other night (the Defenders, on Netflix, if you must know) I suddenly realized a thing. These shows, they all start with a really really well made opening credits scene. These little scenes are works of art, and they completely identify the shows they precede–music, images, mood. Brilliant, really brilliant–Game of Thrones, American Gods, and this one, Defenders.
And you know what they do?
They IGNITE THE PASSION.

I remember reading a story once about someone who forced himself to watch a bunch of gritty John Wayne war movies to convince his TiVo that he was a Manly Man–even though he had watched Pretty Woman. TiVo had made its own conclusions, and had been showering him with romantic lady flicks.
Well, Pandora is another thing altogether–it seems to be trying to BEND my mind towards its own preferences. Pandora will make you a so-called radio station out of any song you identify as sort of template. So, say you confess to a tendre for Chopin’s Piano Concerto #1 in E Minor, Pandora (for a slight monthly fee) will then regale you with other music that its labyrinthine logarithms indicate are similar to that charming piece of music.
All is well! Music fills the air!
But bit by bit, other music slips in and all of a sudden Pandora is playing an instrumental version of The Music of the Night from Phantom of the Opera. Eh…?? Something of a winding tortuous path to get to Andrew Lloyd Webber from Chopin.

Well, they both composed for musical instruments, I suppose. Violins featured in both pieces of music.
But I am not powerless in this! A quick click on the Thumb Down icon, and BOOM, Pandora is obediently playing Chopin again, head deferentially bowed.
However, as time goes by Pandora slyly starts interposing other music, music which I like, do you see–but which eventually will lead to Andrew Lloyd Weber.
Or even worse–to BARBRA STREISAND.
This has happened.
So I find I must be ever vigilant, ready to clamp down without mercy.
For this aggravation I pay $54.89 a year.

August

The air today was horrid muggy–like having a hot and sweaty hand clasped around your face. Disagreeable, very. But—FRIDAY! So, I left work a little early, to do some shopping and then consider whether a Pina Colada (SO 1970s!) or a Strawberry Daiquiri (SO 1980’s!) or a Dark and Stormy (SO 2016!) would be the best drink with which to celebrate the evening.

HOWSOEVER.
Some sad person decided that today would be a good day to jump in front of a train, and though I of course sympathize with her desperate grief and despair, I will own that one could wish that she had chosen a method that did not discommode thousands of commuters.
But how shameful of me to even think such an unsympathetic thought! Poor fellow human! Who, apparently, did not in fact succeed in her project of self-immolation.
So there’s that.

Also, it turns out that sitting in a well chilled train with a book in hand is not the worst way to pass some time on an oppressive summer afternoon.
So there’s that.
Anyway, I eventually arrived at the station, boarded the bus and made my way home. The sky was ominous with louring clouds–huge storm on the way! As soon as I got home I grabbed shopping list and drove off in haste to grocery store, to get shopping done before apocalypse.
A flash lit up the car dashboard! Was it lightning, announcing the deadly storm?
No, it was that DAMN TRAFFIC CAMERA.
Sigh. Can’t win for losing.
But here is the good thing about today: it is my dear sister-in-law’s birthday! So, Happy Birthday Claire!

May the traffic cameras never see your car and may the rain clouds miss your celebration!

PS. In case you’re wondering, the pina colada won the coveted Which Drink Is Most Lovesome Prize.

I finally watched the movie to blame for those oddly decorative Guy Fawkes masks appearing at every tiresome pep rally of a couple years back–V for Vendetta.

The story involves–oh, I can’t be bothered to tell the story. Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing–it is based on a comic book, ludicrously unbelievable, and touting a repugnant concept of politics–so why, why was I continuing to watch such silliness?
Simply, those astonishing actors, filling the screen with their lunatic energy and panache. As the repellent dictator, John Hurt was mesmerizing–his baleful face, all wrinkles and bad teeth, spitting virulent hatred–projected into the huge screen in the conference room where sat his minions, resentfully regarding him.

There was Stephen Rea, as the dogged detective, and wicked wicked Tim Piggott-Smith (whom I remember so well as the heinous Ronald Merrick in The Jewel in the Crown)–oh, and Stephen Fry, Roger Allam, Sinead Cusack–this movie is a feast of fabulous acting.
With, I’ll admit, a completely silly plot. But it is after all based on a comic book.
Intelligent entertainments based on brilliant works of art are rare. This will do until the intelligent, brilliant one comes along.
PS. RIP, John Hurt and Tim Piggott-Smith. Both died this year.

I was watching a VERRA exciting movie, one of those Star Wars shows, a prequel–the wicked villains are BUILDING the I-felt-a-great-disturbance-in-the-Force Death Star–GOSH! Non stop action! Space ships! Hyperdrive! Huge explosions! Robots!
Image result for rogue oneBut I had to stop, it being my bedtime and a school night. And, such was the perturbation of spirits aroused by the show that I was unable to sink into slumber for at least an hour, if not more.

 

So the next night, instead of watching the heart-stopping conclusion of Rogue One…I watched Mystery Science Theater 3000.
Netflix has poured roughly a gazillion dollars into this much loved old clunker, and a great deal of wild zest too. I own that while at first I held back–ever faithful to the incredible silliness of the original show–I was guffawing away soon enough. The ghastly movie our team is forced to watch–Reptilicus–is so extremely awful one can hardly believe it wasn’t actually created to be the butt of their wit, but, not. Reptilicus is a Danish-American Big Monster movie, and apparently still a Thing in Denmark, cheesy and dumb, but THEIR cheesy and dumb. See, a bunch of Copper Miners in the Frozen North drill into–FLESH. They take it back to the Lab in Copenhagen and keep it in a Freezer Room. But UH OH! The door is left open, the flesh thaws and regenerates into a MONSTER (“t-t-talking bout regeneration!” sing the MST bots).

The terrible production values, the stilted dialogue, the amazing stupidity–it’s all there!

Image result for mads mikkelsen dancerAnd speaking of Denmark, I notice that Danish Favorite Son Mads Mikkelson is now all over the place–just saw him as Evil Caecilius in Dr. Strange, and there he was as Brilliant Scientist and Loving Dad in Rogue One.
Nice looking fellow, no?

From gymnast to ballet dancer to actor to WORLD STAR. Well done Mr. Denmark! Once I felt strong enough to continue with Rogue One, I was pleased to find that–after terrible trials–he is reunited with his now-all-grown-up daughter; albeit briefly. It was a completely unbelievable but nonetheless heart-warming scene, after which he…
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DIES.

But so does everyone else as the Bad Empire forces blow up the entire set. But not before the Plans to the Death Star are smuggled to Princess Leia, or at least, an slightly creepy CGI version of Princess Leia.
Image result for rogue one cgi carrie fisher
The CGI Tarkin is even more creepy. The Stars die but the movie making goes on. T-t-talking bout regeneration!

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