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Monday, August 29, 2011

O Sullivan, Where Art Thou?

There is an awful lot of attempts on the part of different artists to portray the grime of society.  Writers, painters, sculptors, and directors want to explore the dark heart of people.  They want to see what makes average people break.  These artists want to put people to the test to see what makes them compromise and transform into something less traditional.  Or, perhaps they just want to explore the dark depths of society's heart. 

Whether I am talking about Breaking Bad, the newest Batman movies, vampire fantasy, post-modern sculptures, or "alternative music," the trend is clear: enough with heroes and goodness, let's be bad.  Or: let's see what bad people do.  And so, here we have a society thrilled with Hannibal Lecter.  Serial killers work with police departments on television to solve cases.  Whatever, you name it. 

The whole situation has often left me feeling like a spectator at a Roman circus.  Not a happy colorful tent filled with animals, clowns, and contortionists.  Not that kind of a circus at all.  But rather, a colosseum.  A place where gladiators go to kill one another.  Where we go to see disobedient citizens tortured and executed.  Where we see "plays" of the ancient world, in which the lives of actors are ended in one scene for the sake of storyline.  A stage where starving lions rip apart martyrs.  This is the kind of circus I am witnessing these days. 

It leaves a shallow feeling in the heart, and one cannot help but ask what is left of our generation.  Does no one have any kind of a deep thought, or a longing for Providental Grace?  One statement that I heard in the last few years really summed up my thoughts on the present generation: Depth of emotion and sincerity are beyond my generation

To be honest, it was these troubled thoughts that led me to write what I thought was a silly short story.

But then, a fellow named Epiphany over on the Fisheaters forum told me about a marvelous film: Sullivan's Travels.  He said that the basic plot was that "a movie director wants to make a movie that the 'working man' can relate to.  He plans to make a depressing movie called 'O Brother Where Art Thou?'  In the process, he accidentally becomes a working man and realizes the importance movies made for pure entertainment."

I watched it.  It's great.  It is almost sad in its innocence, because you know that such a wholesome movie will never be made again.


Just as there are elements in our current culture that seek to explore and enjoy the darker parts of our society, Sullivan also sought to exploit the dark elements of his time--that is, the poor and downtrodden, the train boxcars filled with hobos, the soup lines, the prisons.  Yet, in the end, Sullivan realized that people wanted to leave the darkness and reach the light.  People did not want to be reminded of their grime and filth.  They did not want to linger on the dark elements that they struggled with every day; the people of Sullivan's day wanted to escape in happy fun cartoons that made them laugh innocently, or comedic light movies that brought them joy. 

I think that people of our day also want to escape the darkness that tries to influence us.  There is a longing for something better, brighter, and Divine.  People want to think there is more than "just this."  More than just this horrible world we are dealing with.  Increased crime, increased poverty, increased war, increased injustice.  Is it inconceivable that this desire leads people to watch all these comic-based movies, in which the typical individual radically escapes the same boring life and transcends into a fantastical superhero lifestyle?  Maybe this desire to shed our filth--perhaps a subconscious desire--is what keeps masses of young fantasy lovers waiting with bated breath for the release of The Hobbit in 2012.  Honestly, the only thing I can think of more wholesome than watching hobbits is Little House on the Prarie.
 

In the beginning, Sullivan did not understand that the poor did not want to be reminded of their state.  This in spite of the words of wisdom from his butler:  "If you'll permit me to say so sir, the subject is not an interesting one.  The poor know all about poverty and only the morbid rich would find the topic glamorous." 

Still, Sullivan had to learn the hard way, didn't he?  If only others of our day could learn at all.  Unfortunately, I fear a great majority of artists have lost all touch of Grace and Divinity.  


Saturday, August 20, 2011

Zombie Messenger Infects Me With Weirdness --True Story

Today was a rough day.  Started around the early morning when I was still asleep.  My belly was aching terribly throughout the night.  I was really worried, because I need a good night's sleep before my long double-shift work day.  But the aches never abated.  Something ominous was going to happen, I felt.

I woke every hour or so.  But then, an odd thing happened around four in the morning.  The doorbell rang.  I bolted up.  I figured someone was in trouble.  I was feeling a little ill, but I had enough power over my faculties that I could at least decide that a ring at the doorbell could be the occasion of an emergency.  So I went to the front door and peeped out of the spy hole.  It was a little kid; a neighbor, actually.  I was puzzled.  Again, it was Four AM

I opened the door, and asked him if everything was okay.  I tried to get some sense out of the boy, but he wasn't talking.  Instead, he babbled strange syllables and what not.  His body gyrated and his eyes focused on nothing.  Truly worried, I needed to get to the bottom of why the boy was out at this time of night ringing my bell.  But I could not get any answer from him, no matter what I said to him.  I had to sit down; my body felt weird.  I hoped he'd sit down with me--I could not focus.  I could not act.  Was this even a boy?  Was this real?  Something was happening with my insides.  I was paralyzed right then and there, with a strange boy who couldn't speak wobbling some sort of a voodoo dance right next to me.  As if the kid had infected me with some sort of zombie virus. 

I had no choice...I had to get out of the paralysis.  I needed to get somewhere I could control myself.  I had to get to the bathroom quick.  I shouted to the boy: "Stay here," and told the wife to stay near him.  I got halfway to the bathroom, and I went blind, my eyes rolling every which way into the back of my head.  Sweat poured out of my pores at a high volume--not even on a hot day of 114 degrees has so much sweat exited my body all at once.  Losing balance.  Could not stand straight.  I was so cold.  Ten seconds, and I'd collapse.  What was happening to me?  My torso gyrated in a counter clockwise rotation.  I sat on the toilet.  And then...I wretched from both ends. 




Ultimately, we believe the cause of this strange sickness over me to be food poisoning from yesterday's pot roast.  Yet, what of the boy?  The wife saw him through the window.  Yet when she got to the door, he was gone.  Where did he go?  Was he real?  Did we both see a spectre?

We saw him outside later on in the afternoon.  It's been a rough day.  My body needed rest.  I took comfort knowing the neighbor boy was still alive and acting normal again.  We concluded he was sleepwalking. 

Still, it was an eerie situation that I'll never forget.  Threw off my whole weekend.  I'm over the wretching now, thank the Lord.  But psychological damage has been done.   

Friday, August 19, 2011

"Do What Thou Wilt"


The Great Fire of London

Amidst all the excitement of the London riots, I not only was reminded of the pressing need to get an iron fence put up in my front yard and more locks for my doors, but I was also reminded of the anarchist elements that seem to hide under the thin veneer of shallow British culture. 
 
As modern secular Britain is a society of people who lost comprehension of the Divine, it is no small wonder that some bored disenfranchised "youths" decided to use the shooting of a man as an excuse to riot and vandalize their own neighborhoods to their hearts' content. 
 
Honestly, I'm surprised it hadn't happened sooner. 
 
Back in the early 1980s, there was a great amount of broo-ha-ha stirred up by Sid Vicious and a legion of punk rockers that foamed up in his wake.  It's a wonder something memorable like this didn't blow up two or three decades ago.
 
But then again, Western Culture hadn't reverted back into barbarism as savagely as it has now.  In the early 80s, the cynical disrespectful style of young punks of that day was just that--a style.  A simple fad, not a movement or a societal regression.  Most of society held togther in that day, in spite of the fact that Sid Vicious wanted to be an antichrist.  Yet, in this day of 2011, entire generations grow up living completely in the id, a life of pure emotion all the time.  Glued to Blackberries, I-Phones, World of Warcraft, or whatever.  Youth are constantly looking for a source of thoughtless media to keep the Dopamine levels in their brains high.  Nothing at all as creative or fun as punk rockers.
 
 
In my mind, it was always the legions of punks who would rise up and conquer.  And so inspired was I by this concept, that I couldn't help but give in to the muses and record the prophetic tale of just what would happnen when the punk rockers of Britain would do in that day of anarchy. 
 
I realize, of course, that punks shall never rise to the monstrous reputation they earned in those early years of the 1980 decade.  In that day, we imagined Post-Apocalyptica would be infested with such dregs of society, as we saw in the Mad Max movies.  Even to this day, if you play Fallout, you will stumble upon this strange breed of human in the post-nuclear wastes. 
 
Yet, punks and their like have dwindled in number, and often if you see groups of people dressed in chains or spikes, they are the friendliest people you will ever meet.  I find that to be tastelessly oxymoronic, by the way. 
 
But a man can hold on to his dreams, can he not?
 
And so came a tale of a dark sorcerer known as Aleister Crowley, who from his evil lair at lake Loch Ness would send out the brainwashing vibes to all youthful ignorant followers to "Do What Thou Wilt."  Over and over, the scum of Britain would hear those words, until they could not help themselves, and felt compelled to tear the cities apart. 
 
The only savior against such an evil man, of course, would have to be someone from tradition.  Someone of renown.  Some undying legend, unafraid of the petty sneers and barbaric clumsy attacks of young ruffians.  And it was then that I realized that only King Arthur would do. 
 
After all, who wouldn't be satisfied seeing King Arthur swinging his broadsword through masses of post-apocalyptic mohawked scumbags?
 
So, yeah.  I wrote a story called King Arthur vs. Aleister Crowley and the Punk Rockers.  Good times.  It just seems so much more fun than: King Arthur vs. the Disenfranchised Youths.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Spiderman: An African-American/Latino Gay Boy

Yup.  Seems that after Marvel had Spiderman meet with President Obama, they decided to REALLY "get with the times," kill off Peter Parker, and replace him with a Latino/African-American boy who's gay.
 

I'm absolutely thrilled about the development. 

At last, the masses will truly be represented in this conglomeration of what Marvel thinks American society is becoming. 


I'm so glad they're doing away with a character that has traditionally been cherished among comic fans for most of my life. 


I am sure the first issues will fly off the shelves, due to the novelty of the situation.  After that, though, I am not so sure sales will do too well. 

I wonder if this represents a shift in the comic book world, in which we can see another large corporation losing touch with its base of customers.  Time will tell, I suppose.

I remember back in the day (was it in the 90s?) when DC was trying to capitalize off of Superman.  Dad and I, we must've bought over two dozen copies of that issue: The Death of Superman.  We were so sure it'd be a collectible comic.  I mean, it was Superman.  But with this kind of a twist, something tells me that Dad and I would be investing our money into something else. 


* UPDATE: Seems that the rumor of Spiderman being gay is being denied by Marvel.  A lot of people are pouncing on the Daily Mail for taking the words of Ultimate Spider-Man artist Sara Pichelli out of context.  She reported that "maybe sooner or later a black or gay - or both - hero will be considered something absolutely normal." 

Sara, I say that if you people want to have new ethnicities and sexualities represented with comic book "heroes," why not invent new heroes, instead of transforming the figures that fans already love?