Saturday, May 30, 2009

Saturday Playlist

Now that I don't have the Throwdown up anymore, I think I'm going to move this bit to Friday. Especially with the G.I. Joe posts taking up so much room on Saturdays.

1. Ringo Starr: You’re Sixteen (You’re Beautiful and You’re Mine)
2. Jeff Lynne: Save Me Now
3. Al Green: Let’s Stay Together
4. Bob Dylan: The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll
5. Frank Sinatra: Strangers in the Night
6. Lindsay Lohan: What Are You Waiting For
7. Dean Martin: You Belong to Me
8. David Bowie: Rock ‘n’ Roll Suicide
9. Julie Andrews: My Ship
10. The Pixies: Caribou

1. A bouncy classic. The best version of this song, I think. Ringo's pretty high energy here; usually he's so laid back.
2. Closer from Lynne's Armchair Theatre album, which is from the Wilburys period.
3. Unassailable and perfect.
4. I always thought The Times They Are A-Changin' was a great album; stripped and low key, but with some really powerful and angry stuff on it. Oddly, I've never discussed a Bob Dylan album with more people who are just so polarized about it. There are a lot of people I know who just hate this album.
5. Frank classes up any playlist.
6. Decent song from the Confessions of a Teenage Drama Queen soundtrack.
7. I wonder how Lindsay likes being sandwiched between two members of the Rat Pack... Dean Martin did a couple of songs that just define romance, and this is one.
8. For a second, you really believe that David Bowie just wants to take your hand, turn on and be wonderful. What a great, passionate tune. I used to work with a guy who was a Bowie fanatic. He really despised the lyric "Chev brakes are snarlin' as you stumble across the road."
9. From the pretty Julie Andrews Sings. I love her voice so much.
10. Great song to listen to at night, comin' out of the darkness. "Caribooooooooooooooou."

Yo, Joe! Part 2

G.I. Joe: The Revenge of Cobra
Picking up where we left off, this is the second G.I. Joe miniseries. With the heroes and villains safely established, the action in this one starts right off. We've barely got time to breathe when Cobra attacks the Joes, who are providing a military escort to a truck carrying an experimental laser core. The ambush is led by Cobra Commander himself. This is a neat sequence because it shines a spotlight on a bunch of new characters interacting with returning favorites. On the Cobra side, there are the saboteur Firefly and Scrap Iron, who I barely remembered despite having had the action figure. On the Joe side, we're seeing all kinds of characters who I'll get to as we go along.

Duke gets captured almost right away. *sigh* I love the guy, but seriously, it's like he's doing it on purpose. Two miniseries spent as Cobra Commander's prisoner. Not only that, but Cobra captures the laser core and Snake-Eyes is addition to Duke. Snake-Eyes in in a new costume, the classic version with the visor.

At least G.I. Joe captures the Cobra Commander.

Okay, I just have to say here that I'm not really a fan of Flint. We've never seen him before, and all of a sudden he's the second-in-command of G.I. Joe. Duke gets captured and Flint just casually announces "I guess I'm in charge now." And all I'm thinking is, Stalker should be in charge now, smuggo. I liked Flint okay as a kid, probably even better than Duke. For whatever reason, as an adult, I'm totally on Team Duke and resent Flint taking the reins. Weird.

Next we go to the swamp, where we're introduced to Zartan and the Dreadnoks. Zartan, the master of disguise, looks like a heavy metal rocker. Some people say Ozzy Osbourne, but I say David St. Hubbins from Spinal Tap. Even his voice sounds a bit like Michael McKean doing that British accent. They give Zartan this cool echo-y reverb, too. The Dreadnoks--Buzzer, Ripper and Torch--are his mercenary band. Yes, Cobra has allied itself with what amounts to a magician and his biker gang. The Dreadnoks--who, according to the internet, bear the real names Tom Blinken, Dick Winken, and Harry Nod--have some of the worst fake English accents in cartoon history.

Zartan stops Colonel Sharp on his way to Blackwater Prison, captures him, and disguises himself as him. At the prison, Colonel Sharp and one Dr. Gassel completely antagonize Gung Ho by telling him that Cobra Commander is being considered for parole. The poor, dumb Marine actually buys it, too. An international terrorist leader considered for parole? Come on, Etienne!

He should've known that it was really Zartan and the Baroness in disguise! The Baroness was in a blue bodysuit in the first miniseries; here she first appears in her classic black leather. There's a firefight, but Cobra Commander is rescued and the Cobra operatives escape. Zartan has this weird allergy or something to light, but it doesn't seem to do much other than annoy him. I remember the action figure would turn this dark color if you put it in the sun. There's a nice gag with Cobra Commander hitting his head on a tree branch. Cobra Commander is more hilarious this time around, more obviously funny than menacing. They have fun with his ineptness, and with his squabbling with Destro.

Destro, by the way, has no problem carrying on in the absence of Cobra Commander. The newest Cobra fortress is hiding under a desert somewhere, and in the tallest tower sits the Weather Dominator, Destro's newest superweapon. A squadron of Skystrikers are following Cobra to recover the laser core and rescue Duke and Snake-Eyes, so Destro unleashes a storm on them just as they reach a gorge called the Pit of Chaos. Flint is leading the squad and tries to get everyone clear, but he, Roadblock, and Mutt are caught in the storm and disappear. Scarlett leads everyone else back to base.

Destro is extremely pleased that Major Bludd has brought back the laser core and two prisoners, one of whom is the leader of G.I. Joe. But he becomes disgruntled as hell when Cobra Commander shows up seconds later with Zartan in tow. Destro, despite being an arms dealer who provides weapons and equipment to an international terrorist leader, has a real distaste for mercenaries, and does not approve of Zartan. Cobra Commander, in a move that sets the tone for the upcoming regular series, quickly sides with Zartan and disparages Destro's abilities, despite the fact that Destro is always going to be the smartest guy in the room at Cobra.

(By the way, the theme song kind of bothers me. The theme song for the original miniseries had a line that went "It's G.I. Joe against Cobra and Destro." This was changed for this miniseries--and the regular series--to the more awkward "It's G.I. Joe against Cobra the enemy." Why did they do that, I wonder? I liked the idea that Destro was working with Cobra, but not really a member of Cobra. Plus, "Cobra the enemy" adds an extra syllable, which makes the verse clumsy. Weird.)

This is the first time we see Cobra Commander in the hood, which he wears from now on when he's not in battle or on a mission. Hooded Cobra Commander is also iconic to me. You had to send away for the action figure, which I did. I still have it, too.

Back at Joe HQ, we're introduced to Sparks, who has no personality, really. He can't detect Cobra's whereabouts, but Cobra Commander sends a transmission unveiling the Weather Dominator and demonstrates it by creating a storm in the sunny Aegean Sea.

You tell him, Gung Ho!

Now, briefly, I have to mention another of my loyalties. As much as I don't really care for Flint, I hate Lady Jaye. I don't know what it is about her that bugs the hell out me, exactly, but I don't feel a need for Lady Jaye in this cartoon. She tries too hard. Like we're just supposed to accept that she's so awesome, so capable, so sexy. It's almost like she was created to be an imaginary girlfriend for kids watching the show--did Chris Claremont create her?--and I know a number of guys my age who were just so crushing on her. (And let's just admit now, the cartoons we saw then informed a number of crushes and weird sex fantasies and etc.) We don't need her. We've already got Scarlett.

Scarlett, who is all of the awesome, capable sexiness without having to call so much needy attention to it. I'm just saying.

So now Destro shows Cobra Commander and Zartan another invention: a dried up piece of vine which, when a single drop of water is placed on it, grows to amazing proportions and nearly strangles the life out of the two. Destro takes a lot of joy in Cobra Commander's panic (Zartan's, too), but the creeper vine soon dies from lack of water. Cobra Commander is very impressed once he catches his breath. Destro reveals that the Pit of Chaos is loaded with creeper vines.

As we may remember, there's a storm over the Pit of Chaos, and Flint, Roadblock, and Mutt have crashed inside. Soon they're covered in creeper vines; they only survive because Mutt thinks to turn on his Skystriker's thrusters and stop the vines in their tracks, but the fuel will only last so long. Mutt, a K9 specialist, also has his dog Junkyard with him. (Junk appears to be a Rottweiler.) Is it really, you know, convenient for a pilot in an F-14 to take his dog with him? Just asking.

Roadblock is one of my favorite G.I. Joe characters. Not only is he fun and hilarious, but he speaks in this singsong jive which often rhymes. It's awesome. Roadblock is the best.

Over in the fortress, Cobra Commander is up to his old tricks. He's got Duke as a prisoner (again), so what to do with him? That's right, it's time for the Arena of Sport. Cobra Commander is like a sadist in a Gor novel sometimes. I'm surprised he didn't make them strip their shirts off before fighting. Subtext? What subtext? This time, he puts Duke and Snake-Eyes in neural controls and forces them into full-on gladiatorial combat. Snake has the trident and net. Oy.

The neural controllers aren't powerful enough this time around, and the Joes are able to overcome the commands, hear Cobra Commander talking about his plans to strike Washington, DC, with the Weather Dominator, and bring down the power pillars for the neural controls. Snake-Eyes manages to pull a device out of his utility belt and transmit a Morse code message to Joe HQ. They're subdued, but I would hope that whichever Cobra soldier was searching these guys got demoted pretty harshly for not taking that thing off of Snake-Eyes.

Breaker discovers the message pretty quickly, by the way. Breaker is way cooler than Sparks.

Already, Doc has figured out a way to get around the Weather Dominator. He's created these energy mirrors which just absorb the energy. When they're aimed at a bigger redirection mirror, the energy can be collected, and then diverted elsewhere. How does it work? My guess would be magic, but hey, it's science fiction. I mean, how does the Weather Dominator simply create weather, right? Doc's implausible example for this implausible system is to have Blowtorch, another new guy with a silly Scottish or Irish accent (I can't tell which), shoot his flamethrower at the mirror. So, it converts the flame to pure energy? Okay, whatever keeps the plot moving.

And what about our men in the Pit of Chaos? They manage to construct a makeshift helicopter, a real hunk of junk, out of parts from their downed planes just as Mutt's Skystriker runs out of fuel and the engines die. The creeper vines move in and Flint, Mutt, and Junkyard are forced to leave Roadblock behind. The copter flies out of the storm, then almost immediately falls apart. Flint and Mutt run across some Cobra sentries, knock them out, and take their uniforms.

Roadblock escapes the vines through the sheer power of being a huge and awesome black man.

Destro is now uncertain about using the Weather Dominator on Washington, DC, but Zartan supports Cobra Commander--the Commander just eats this support up, too. Would you guys like room? Jeez. Destro creates a tornado in the nation's capitol, and the Joes arrive too late to stop it. Further, some of their energy mirrors are smashed by accompanying hail. Cobra Commander orders Destro to unleash the full power of the Weather Dominator (this is what the laser core was for), but the lightning strikes are collected as energy in the remaining mirrors, and Doc redirects the energy to the Cobra fortress. Destro escapes unharmed, but the Weather Dominator is destroyed. The three main components are apparently blown into outer space, where they break apart and fall to various points on the planet.

So now we've got the same main thrust as last time--a treasure hunt/race for various components both sides need. Cobra wants to rebuild the Weather Dominator; G.I. Joe needs it to reverse the effects of the Weather Dominator. The world's weather patterns are now in chaos.

Meanwhile, Flint and Mutt are wandering in the desert. They reach a town that owes quite a bit, design-wise, to Mos Eisley. The whole town is populated by Cobra soldiers and other drunken toughs; these two elite members of America's daring, highly-trained special missions force are shocked and slightly frightened to see guys getting beaten up outside of the "Cobra Cafe," but they still go in. And inside, they wind up in a bar fight with everyone in the place (great bit with Mutt growling at a dog threatening Junkyard) except for one guy. And here's where they meet my all time favorite Joe: Shipwreck.

I love Shipwreck. The dude's sarcastic and matter-of-fact at the same time. He's hot-tempered, but also somehow laid back. I love this dude. I also love the incredible incongruity of Flint and Mutt meeting a sailor in the desert. Shipwreck's not a Cobra--Junkyard trusts him instantly--but basically a mercenary. In other words, he's the Han Solo of the G.I. Joe universe. I'm sticking with that characterization. Shipwreck offers them a way out of town: a boat. A boat on skis with a sail that glides over the sand dunes. It's pretty cool, actually.

The ship is hit by a sandstorm pretty quickly, though. There's an exciting sequence where Flint and Shipwreck have to rescue Mutt, which is basically a sea rescue played out on the sand. It's creative. Shipwreck uses thrusters to get the sand-boat the rest of the way.

The first part of our treasure hunt takes place at the Island of No Return, which means Torpedo. I seriously hate Torpedo. He, Wild Bill, Doc, and this lameoid called Cutter (just a Coast Guard guy) lead the mission to recover the hydro-master component. Zartan and the Baroness lead the Cobra forces.

The second fragment, the ion correlator, is at the Palace of Doom in a jungle. Cobra Commander assigns Major Bludd to recover it. While the Joes are planning, Flint and Mutt make their return, Shipwreck alongside them. There's some lame flirting between Lady Jaye and Flint, which he sheepishly tries to deflect, so Shipwreck moves right in and starts hitting on her. The Joes are going to head out to the Palace of Doom, led by Flint and Lady Jaye, and Shipwreck comes along for the ride, so I guess he's in G.I. Joe now. I'm pleased to have him, but if G.I. Joe is supposed to be the elite, the highly-trained, the best of the best of the best, how can he just show up and decide to tag along? I mean, they'll just let anyone with a costume and a gimmick in? You know there's got to be regular Army or guys in the Marines who are working really hard to be good enough to get into G.I. Joe, and they're all pissed right now that Shipwreck is just sticking around.

Shipwreck's awesome.

Speaking of awesome, Roadblock sneaks into the back of a semi truck at the end of a Cobra convoy in the middle of the night. (And by the way, where is the Cobra fortress? It seems like it must be in the American southwest somewhere.) There's a cowgirl tied up in the back of the truck, and Roadblock frees her. She's Honda Lou West (ouch) and she's kind of a sarcasmo. Roadblock's all cool, talking about being a gourmet chef, casually mentioning his G.I. Joe affiliation, and puts Honda Lou at ease. Roadblock is about a thousand times cooler than B.A. Baracus. Turns out that Honda Lou owns all of the semis in the Cobra convoy and that they've been stolen.

(Neat trivia note--the trucks all look like Optimus Prime. They're the same model; Sunbow released the original Transformers miniseries this same year.)

One of the key Joe figures in the jungle is Recondo, a jungle ranger who always seems way too impressed with himself.

The fighting continues at the Island of No Return, and breaks out at the Palace of Doom. Tornadoes cause a whirlpool at the Island of No Return, which Torpedo routes with, well, torpedo fire. "They don't call me Torpedo for nothing!" Ugh, I effing hate Torpedo. Die in a fire, Torpedo. Spirit, the native tracker, offers to go himself and try to retrieve the component.

At the Palace of Doom, things are considerably more awesome, as a giant Cobra robot fights a Harryhausen-esque stone temple guardian for the other component. It's bliss.

Spirit is forced to fight another new Cobra operative: the ninja Storm Shadow. They're pretty evenly matched, too, because Spirit totally falls into the native mystical warrior stereotype. I have to admit, I like both characters even though I find them totally clich├ęd. Their fight for the component takes them over the edge of a waterfall, and an earthquake sends Shipwreck and Gung Ho hurtling into a chasm at the Palace of Doom. Meanwhile, Major Bludd makes off with the first component.

Lady Jaye saves Gung Ho and Shipwreck by throwing a javelin with a net in it. She's always throwing javelins and spears, totally ripping off Scarlett's crossbow shtick. Lady Jaye is so not cool. Also, her javelins bother me because the perspective is always off. They nearly always are way too long to actually fit into the pack she carries. Ugh, she's so lame.

Meanwhile, Spirit and Storm Shadow are trapped inside a cavern and, with their oxygen running out, stop fighting. Both being stereotypical spiritual characters, they sit and contemplate their situation. At the Cobra fortress, Roadblock and Honda Lou smuggle themselves inside while Destro discovers the location of the laser core: a snowy mountain range called the Roof of the World. Back at the cavern, Spirit theorizes that there must be some kind of blow hole on the island, and he and Storm Shadow escape. In repayment for saving his life, and because he operates by a stereotypical honor code (what stereotypical ninja doesn't?), Storm Shadow lets Spirit take the component. Spirit is unknowingly aided by Zartan, who keeps Firefly and the Cobra soldiers from stopping Spirit with a torpedo. The Dreadnoks are confused--as always--but Zartan has a plan.

So now Cobra has one component and G.I. Joe has another, so it'll be a race for the third.

Going to the Roof of the World means Snowjob is back. Cobra has sent Destro and Major Bludd to lead the effort to recover the laser core, driving a giant drill machine. And Zartan and his Dreadnoks are also closing in.

Roadblock captures Cobra Commander and kind of humiliates him a bit. It's pretty hilarious, and the Commander is scared out of his mind; when he first hears Roadblock's voice behind him, he nearly shits himself. Roadblock and Honda Lou make a run for it, but are captured by Scrap Iron. The Commander throws them into the Arena of Sport with Duke and Snake-Eyes. I have to say, it's kind of disappointing to see Snake-Eyes, one of the cooler Joes, shunted to the sidelines this time around. He and Duke are barely in the thing.

Cobra Commander initiates the Endgame program, which is basically a couple of computer-generated snakes that bear down on the four. I honestly don't understand how they pose even the remotest physical threat to our heroes. They're about as intimidating as Laser Floyd.

There's a pretty neat sequence at the Roof of the World where the battle for the laser core basically becomes a hockey match. I enjoyed the heck out of that. Storm Shadow saves Spirit from being crushed in an avalanche, which makes them square. Zartan and the Dreadnoks, somehow able to drive their motorcycles perfectly in the ice and snow, steal the laser core and drag it off. With the Joes possessing one component and Cobra possessing the other, Zartan announces that the laser core will go to the highest bidder. An avalanche nearly takes out the Joes, but Lady Jaye saves them with another javelin and the kind of cute quip that some men find charming but which makes me want to slap her hard. The Joes have another of their big self-congratulatory fist-pumping moments.

Those are always too much. At every little thing, the Joes will pump their fists in the air and yell "YO, JOE!" I can just imagine their barracks. "Hey, I won five bucks on a scratch-off." "YO, JOE!" "Hey, a very special episode of Webster is on tonight!" "YO, JOE!" "Oh, man, my new issue of Omni just got here." "YO, JOE!"

Zartan decides to move the action to an abandoned carnival, because I guess that's just what villains do. It reminded me a little too eerily of the climax from The Care Bears Movie, which takes place in a creepy carnival. It may seem like a setting worthy of the Joker, but I kept expecting some little bear to run out and pummel someone into being caring and thoughtful.

Destro does have a nice little moment of smugness when Zartan sends a transmission to both Cobra and Joe HQ and reveals his scheme. Cobra Commander is so pissed off he smashes his chair into a console. Well, that's what you get for hiring mercenaries, dude.

I have no idea how this is even physically possible.

Meanwhile, in the Arena of Sport, Duke and Snake-Eyes toss Honda Lou up to the energy poles (they're not any better designed than they were before), where she crosses one with the other. This destroys the Endgame program through one of the most overused skiffy fix-it-all devices: reversing the polarity.

The Joe and Cobra forces close in on Zartan; Breaker and Ripcord parachute into the base. At Joe HQ, Storm Shadow easily sneaks in (Zap and Short-Fuze are on duty, which probably makes it easier; they continue to be useless characters with no distinct personalities), knocks out Timber (making a brief appearance in this second miniseries), and steals the hydro-master component. Which is kind of shitty, since he let Spirit have it in repayment for his life. Gosh, what do you call an Indian-giver who Indian-gives to an Indian?

Zartan and the Dreadnoks try to fight off G.I. Joe and Cobra, but are forced to retreat after Breaker and Ripcord destroy their power station. Zartan nearly makes it, but he's captured by a very, very gratified Destro. At the Cobra fortress, Zartan grovels before Cobra Commander. Destro can't wait to punish this guy, but the Commander lovingly forgives Zartan because he now has all three components to rebuild the Weather Dominator. Destro is seriously pissed off over this one. The Commander, siding once again with Zartan over Destro, tells Destro to "stop sputtering like a wet toaster oven," which is a wonderfully bizarre insult.

Duke activates a homing beacon and the Joes are on their way. Roadblock finds the room where Destro keeps the creeper vines and comes up with a plan. When the Joes attack, the Weather Dominator is at full capacity and Destro hits them with an intense heatwave, a snowstorm, and a thunderstorm. Duke and the others unleash the creeper vines, which grow over the Weather Dominator controls and turn it into an ideal, sunny day. The Joes seize their moment and press on in a full attack.

This full attack involves Scarlett and the Baroness pummeling each other and wrestling around. Good stuff. Between this and all of the bondage on Wonder Woman, I got a pretty early taste for this kind of stuff.

Major Bludd tries to submerge the Cobra fortress into the sand, but Flint stops it from happening. Cobra Commander is captured, although he was captured at the end of the first miniseries, and that didn't stick, either, so he probably won't be in custody for long. Hell, he was already captured once this adventure. Destro and Zartan escape to fight another day. Destro always has an escape route.

The last step is to fix the crazy weather around the world, which Breaker does with the Weather Dominator. He accidentally creates a snowstorm over the Joe HQ (which seems to be out in a desert, but which in the comic book was in New Jersey), causing everyone to laugh. It ends exactly the same way as the first miniseries did; with Breaker saying "Well, nobody's perfect," and Flint (instead of Duke this time) quipping "No, but we do okay."

I enjoyed this miniseries even more than the first one, despite some touches which I didn't care for (the predominance of Flint and Lady Jaye over Duke and Scarlett, the sidelining of Snake-Eyes). It was enhanced by some of the cool new characters, especially (for me) Shipwreck and Roadblock. Funnily enough, Shipwreck is my favorite Joe and Roadblock is Becca's favorite.

Next time, I'll cover the five-parter that opened the first regular season.

Pictures again from the invaluable JoeToonArchive.

Plastic Chicks Also Dig Daleks

Friday, May 29, 2009

Jess and Shamu

You know, for some reason I could take Jessica leaving me for Shamu a lot better than I could take her leaving me for John Mayer.

Cameron's House Is For Sale

The house that doubled as Cameron Frye's house in Ferris Bueller's Day Off is for sale. It's over in Highland Park, IL. I've driven past the house and it's very beautiful.

But why would you want to live there? It's always cold and you can't touch anything.

The Best and Worst Remakes of All Time

More James Gunn polls I'm just purposelessly commenting on.

First, the 10 Worst Remakes of All Time:

1. Psycho (1998)
Agreed. Not only the worst remake ever, but just one of the biggest wastes of film in history. I mean, Gus Van Sant wanted to make a new version of Robert Bloch, that's one thing. Remaking Hitchcock... well, if you must, just do something original and of yourself with it. But timing every scene so that you're essentially making a photocopy of the original with new actors? How creatively bankrupt can you be? This movie alone is why Gus Van Sant will never rate very highly with me (although Elephant doesn't help, either). What a putz.

2. The Wicker Man (2006)
I planned to never see this movie, but I got caught up in the sheer awfulness of it on cable one night, and... yeah, it's terrible. The Wicker Man is one of my all time favorites, a wonderful classic, a masterful film. The remake would be a terrible movie on its own, but to call itself The Wicker Man is just adding insult to terrible filmmaking. I used to love Neil LaBute, too. Now it's like he's just looking for anything remotely misogynistic. I still love Leelee Sobieski, but come on. Britt Ekland took her clothes off. Top that.

3. The Day the Earth Stood Still (2008)
I didn't see it. I don't plan to. What do you think Keanu Reeves does in this movie that's differently wooden from his usual woodenness?

4. Planet of the Apes (2001)
I do agree that this is a horrible movie. The ending makes sense--Becca--but it's a shitty, shitty movie, and Tim Burton's never recovered from it creatively. The original is a science fiction classic, like a great feature-length episode of The Twilight Zone. The remake is, as per usual, a crappy action movie with nothing to say.

5. Godzilla (1998)
Another shit movie. Just 100% unlikable and awful, and some of the worst special effects. Godzilla is a hero, damn it. Watching Godzilla stuck in that suspension bridge and the military shooting missiles while it slowly died... guys, we like Godzilla. We don't take pleasure in watching him die. You know, that said, I've never liked the 1954 Godzilla at all. It's all of the stupid American stuff that takes me right out of the movie. I'd like to see the original Japanese version, the one without Raymond Burr. I just haven't yet. I think I need to go on a Godzilla binge this summer.

6. The Fog (2005)
I never saw the original or the remake.

7. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (2005)
Remake, or another version of the same book? It's a gray area for me. But Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory is a whimsical delight, and Tim Burton's movie is silly and small and surprisingly unimaginative. Great score, though.

8. Halloween (2007)
Absolutely not. The Rob Zombie version is superior.

9. The Haunting (1999)
Yeah, this was a really shitty movie, too. Shitty and entirely forgettable.

10. TIE: Guess Who (2005); The Omen (2006); and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (2003)
I only saw bits and pieces of Guess Who on cable. I couldn't get into it, didn't care. I didn't see The Omen; didn't like the original very much.

The Texas Chainsaw Massacre is just such a sore point with me, though. The original is one of the great horror movies of all time. It's about something. It touches on something elemental in the human condition. The remake has nothing to say. It's a cash-in, a slick action movie that revels in cruelty to no purpose. I hated the remake. Hated it.

Also mentioned:
* Death Race -- didn't see it.
* The Wiz -- I think that's kind of unfair; The Wonderful Wizard of Oz is the basis for a lot of movies, before and after the 1939 MGM version, and I don't consider The Wiz a remake of Judy Garland. The Wiz is a stage musical with the same source material. I mean, if we're talking inspired by something else, Zardoz is a much worse "version" of The Wizard of Oz. The Wiz is a great movie.
* The Last House on the Left -- I haven't seen the remake, but I plan on seeing it on DVD.
* Rollerball -- didn't see the remake.
* The Ladykillers -- still haven't seen the original, but I love the Coen Brothers movie.
* The Women -- I've never liked the original; didn't see the remake, but I might (Eva Mendes will do that to me).
* The Truth About Charlie -- I haven't seen this or Charade.

James Gunn also mentions:
* Greystoke: The Legend of Tarzan, Lord of the Apes -- I'm not sure I buy this as a remake, either. Gunn lists it as a remake of 1932's Tarzan, the Ape Man with Johnny Weismuller, but there were Tarzan movies before that one. Greystoke is just another version of the same novel to me. And there are parts of Greystoke I like, including Christopher Lambert's performance. It's not a good movie by any measure, but I appreciate the attempt at taking a serious approach. (Although there's part of me that echoes Ebert's review: "If this is a Tarzan movie, where are the ant men and the lost villages?")
* How the Grinch Stole Christmas -- this is kind of an unfair pick, too. It's a film version of a TV special. Not that Ron Howard's movie didn't suck, but still. Although I did enjoy parts of this movie, too, and it was something I actually liked Jim Carrey in.
* Sabrina -- haven't seen the original (I am not a fan of Audrey Hepburn). I didn't care for the one with Harrison Ford very much, though Greg Kinnear was alright in it.
* The Manchurian Candidate -- haven't seen the remake, but the original is fantastic.
* The Longest Yard -- haven't seen either version.


And second, the 11 Best Remakes of All Time:

1. The Thing (1982)
I haven't seen the original, but I love this movie. I also love the original short story it's based on.

2. The Fly (1986)
Haven't seen the original, loved this movie.

3. Little Shop of Horrors (1986)
Haven't seen the original, loved this movie (although, having seen the original ending to the musical--the work print version is on YouTube, go find it, you need to see it--they really should've stuck with that one; the happy ending seems like a mistake to me now).

4. The Departed (2006)
Haven't seen Infernal Affairs, but I thought The Departed was quite good.

5. The Hills Have Eyes (2006)
Haven't seen it, loved the original.

6. The Blob (1988)
Haven't seen either one.

7. Ocean's Eleven (2001)
Excellent movie, but I also thought the original was great. They were pretty different in tone, but, come on, the 1960 version has Dean Martin. That's a lot of cool right there.

8. Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978)
Thank you. The original is a good movie, but I think the 1978 version outclasses it entirely.

9. The Maltese Falcon (1941)
I've never seen the 1931 version. The Bogart version is one of the greatest films ever made.

10. Casino Royale (2006)
Another vote on a technicality. Who in their right mind considers the 1967 version a James Bond movie? They come from the same book and both have characters named James Bond. Otherwise, you can't even compare the two.

11. Scarface (1983)
The Brian De Palma movie is so wildly different from the Howard Hawks movie I can't think of De Palma's as a remake. Anyway, both of these movies are ridiculous. But De Palma's is much more over-the-top and ridiculous than the 1932 version, so I guess that's some kind of victory.

James Gunn also mentions Peter Jackson's "update" of Ralph Bakshi's The Lord of the Rings as being the best remake ever. Again, same source novel, but no one would accuse Jackson of simply remaking Bakshi's film (except for Bakshi, who did just that, to anyone who would listen). Personally, there are things I like about Bakshi's film, but it's not, you know, a good movie.

80s Revisited: Overboard

Overboard (1987)
Directed by Garry Marshall; written by Leslie Dixon; produced by Alexandra Rose & Anthea Sylbert

I remember going to see this in the theater when I was 11. I liked it, I think. Well, I liked Kurt Russell, anyway. I always like Kurt Russell.

Goldie Hawn plays a stereotypical 80s movie rich bitch who dominates her husband, Edward Herrmann, playing a stereotypical 80s movie rich buffoon. They're traveling on a yacht, and while docked for one reason or another, Goldie has a local handyman--Kurt Russell--brought on board to build her a new closet. She's as bitchy as it gets, but what also surprised me seeing it now is how much the yacht is like some kind of messed-up 80s porn movie. The first two pornos I ever saw were Trinity Brown with Colleen Brennan and Downstairs, Upstairs with Seka and Kay Parker; these were, I think now, towards the end of really good adult movies, movies that had plots and tried to look like real movies. Anyway, watching Goldie walk around in her heavy, tacky 80s makeup and her one-piece thong-back bathing suit and her lean body and her severe pulled-back hair, all I could think of was how she reminded me of Tamara Longley in Trinity Brown. Especially with rough, lumbering Kurt Russell in his wife beater and sweat. It was a porno waiting to happen.

Garry Marshall doesn't go there, of course. Instead, she stiffs Kurt Russell on the money, and later falls into the ocean and loses her memory, so Kurt shows up and claims she's his wife and takes her home to raise his ill-behaved, semi-literate brats. Edward Herrmann, glad to be rid of her, lives it up on his yacht with floozies and his butler (Roddy McDowall, always a pleasure, even when wasted), until his mother-in-law (Katherine Helmond) shows up. Of course, Goldie falls in love with Kurt for real, and the kids love their new mom, etc etc etc, no surprises here.

And Mike Hagerty's in it. I just always like him.

It's a cute movie. It's breezy and enjoyable. I can't see ever watching this on purpose, but it's harmless. It's a trifle. Some of the romance was cute, which mostly has to do with Goldie Hawn still being at the top of her comedic game and Kurt Russell always being so damn likable. They're charming together, I just wish they'd had a better vehicle. It seems like they're aiming for one of those domestic romantic comedies Cary Grant used to make in the fifties and early sixties--Houseboat or Father Goose--but instead it feels like Kurt Russell making another of the lame, toothless Disney movies he used to star in.

I mean, it's Garry Marshall, it's not like they got a real director, here.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

They Wouldn't Have Fit, Anyway

Rob Zombie and Horror

/Film has a two-part interview with Rob Zombie up. Hunter Stephenson (who also wrote this great essay about why the animosity directed at Rob Zombie's Halloween remake should have been aimed at the Platinum Dunes remake factory instead) did the interview. The first part is here and the second part is here. I recommend reading it if you're interested at all in what Rob Zombie is trying to do with horror in movies.

I was watching Zombie's Halloween again on Showtime the other night, and I just can't see what it is about that movie that pisses so many people off. I thought it was better than about 90% of the horror movies I've seen come out in the last 15 years. But it inspires so many people to anger. Not, like, disinterest or dismissal, but genuine hatred.

I wanted to highlight a couple of things Zombie has to say in the interview:

Regarding the "sacrilege" of showing Michael as a young boy: "I don’t think it’s sacrilege. I think what is sacrilege is all of the shitty sequels. I mean, is that what everyone enjoyed? Is that what they want more of?"

Regarding movie mythology and reboot/remakes: "See, these things are interesting and funny because everyone creates their own mythology. Someone made Halloween thirty years ago thinking it was a one-off movie. And that movie ends with that guy disappearing. And then, with each movie, more and more baggage was added, weird mythology, and cross-stories. And to be honest, I really just don’t give a shit about that stuff. It’s like what you said earlier about characters like Batman. I mean, even in films and in TV, what does The Dark Knight have to do with Adam West dressed up as Batman? Nothing."

On humanizing Michael Meyers: "Well, we mentioned serial killers, and I’ve read a lot of books about them. Everyone from John Wayne Gacy to Charles Manson to Henry Lee Lucas. And their pasts never justify anything these people did. But when you read about their lives, it makes the crimes seem so different. See, I think these people become scarier when they become humanized. At one point, these guys were little kids. How did this little kid become this psychotic maniac? A lot of people piss and moan and say Michael Myers is so much scarier if he’s just a boogeyman. But to me, that’s already been done. Who needs to see that again? I’m not big on doing the same shit that so many other people already did. I mean, I almost feel bad for Michael. I mean, not really, but you sort of do, because he’s so fucked up inside, you know?"

Regarding violence in horror movies: "I like when violence seems real and I like when it seems ugly. I like when the act doesn’t seem fun. I was never a fan of ‘80s slasher movies. I think they are cartoony and silly. I was more into the violence in movies like Taxi Driver, The Wild Bunch, and Bonnie and Clyde. The violence in those films makes a statement in some way. You know what I mean? It’s saying something. And it’s either brutal, or depressing, or it’s real. But it’s never fun."

I find those approaches towards horror a lot more in line with what I think of as a horror film than a lot of what we get these days. Most recent horror that I've seen--the remake of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre is the example I'm always going to use, because it was shit--are just action movies with cruel streaks. I thought Rob Zombie's Halloween really ran with the idea of realism and the psychological meaning of these cinematic bogeyman figures. I think, if anything, the cinemascape is too jaded and too crowded with a kind of cynical coolness to be interested in something that thoughtful.

Bumblebee's Creepy Gaze Is the Badly-Designed, Poorly-Rendered Face of My Nightmares

Liftoff

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Official Sherlock Holmes Trailer

I know a couple of Holmes purists, and I'm sure this has them all in a twist. But I think it looks like fun. There's room in my life for wide and varied interpretations of Sherlock Holmes. It's not strictly Conan Doyle, but I don't care. I'm more worried about being entertained.

Fan-Made Green Lantern Trailer

I don't know if everyone's seen this yet or what, but this fan trailer for Green Lantern is about a thousand times more awesome than I ever expect a Green Lantern movie would be. And casting Nathan Fillion is just too perfect. It's absolutely insane to me that this isn't a trailer for a movie that exists. I need this to be made.

Film Week

A review of the films I've seen this past week.

NIGHT AT THE MUSEUM: THE BATTLE OF THE SMITHSONIAN (2009)
I love movies that remind me of just how desperately most movie reviewers are to be seen as clever and brilliant and immune to simple fantasy. So many "critics" worried about what having to see such a movie says about their intelligence, or whether they can "respect" a movie that "offers so little." The movie is what it is, and it takes a lot of pleasure in just being that. I liked the first movie more than I thought I would; I had just as much fun at this one, especially with all of the cameos (including Mindy Kaling, Jonah Hill, Ed Helms, Christopher Guest, and Oscar the Grouch), my darling Amy Adams (and her cute butt in aviatrix pants), and Hank Azaria funny for a change in a full-on Boris Karloff impression. It's like the first, only bigger. I just had a hell of a fun time with it. *** stars.

THE PARTY NEVER STOPS (2007)
Lifetime movie with Sara Paxton as a nice girl who goes to college and becomes an alcoholic. Not as much fun as it sounds. Poor Nancy Travis, whom I've always liked, is wasted as the concerned mother. *1/2 stars.

One-Sided Conversation Regarding E.T.

- Thanks for the Reese's Peanut Butter Cups! I love Reese's products as much as E.T. did. Like him, they also stave my murderous rampage against little boys.

- That was what the movie was about, right?

- E.T. had some horrible space addiction, and he was going to freak out and murder that kid, but the sugar in the Reese's Pieces evened him out and stopped him from going on a rampage, right?

- I thought the whole point of that movie was the E.T. was a recovering alcoholic. And then he relapsed and got drunk in the kitchen because he didn't have any sugar left. I mean, you can talk alien technology all you want, he sure knew how to open those beer cans without any problem.

- Then he hits bottom, and that's when he goes all crazy and white and dies. Did we watch a totally different movie?

Of course, I was just kidding with this person. I still believe that E.T. is really about a boy discovering his own penis.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Heroes Helping Heroes

I remember seeing this ad all the time in comic books when I was a kid.

Meat Loaf totally should have billed himself as "Humongous Rock Star of the Universe."

The Health Report, Year 3: Week 24

I've been thinking about divorce.

I'm going to engage in some therapy here, so feel free to skip this one. It might get uncomfortable.

The second series of In Treatment just ended, and I've been thinking a lot about one character in particular: Oliver. Oliver is the 13 year-old boy who is in therapy because his parents are divorcing. His episodes have been especially hard for me to watch, because I was about the same age when my parents finally got divorced, and the feelings he goes through are so familiar to me.

Like Oliver, I was unpopular in school. I had gained a lot of weight, like him, and was always uncomfortable in school. Like I said recently on some post or other, I didn't realize until I heard him say "I'm not comfortable anywhere" that that's been one of my problems since I was 12 or 13: I'm not comfortable anywhere. It's like I'm always waiting for the other shoe to drop.

Let me start at the beginning.

My parents were having trouble for longer than I had realized. I was amazingly self-absorbed as a child, and I was wrapped up in my cocoon of cartoons and toys and comic books and video games and didn't really think about what was going on around me. Then one day it dawned on my that my dad hadn't spent a night home in months. When I asked my parents about it, they made up some bullshit about my dad spending more time at work or something. They wanted to keep me and my sister in the dark about it. And I bought it, too, because my dad was always traveling for his job--at least once, maybe twice a year, he had to take a trip with other members of his company to the home office in Boston for training, etc (my dad's always worked with computers) so it seemed believable to me. I didn't think about it, because I still saw my dad a lot. He was still there on the weekends for our tradition of making pancakes and listening to his 8-tracks.

I think I was 12 when my mom told me that she and dad were getting divorced. She was obviously upset. I started to cry immediately. I was a very sensitive kid, very emotional, and I probably cried a lot more than I remember. I've told the story before about how I used to get scared by movies as a kid, how Pinocchio and E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial scared me more than movies that were supposed to scare me because they made me so emotional, which made their scarier bits more intense and realistic to me. I was that kind of kid. After I saw E.T., I was checking the backyard for aliens for months before I would walk outside.

I had especially become oversensitive when I was about 10 years old. That was the year I got fat and everyone stopped being my friend because of it. The combination of being fat and being still into cartoons and comics made me the class outcast, where I had once been a popular kid because I invented a lot of games and could draw really well. That was the first time, by the way, I contemplated suicide. I knew where my dad kept a shotgun. I was going to shoot myself in the head. I got scared, but I didn't go to school the next day, and a lot of the kids got pretty freaked out about it. Some of them tried to be friendlier with me when I came back, but I wouldn't let them because I couldn't get over the way they'd treated me. I didn't want to be anyone's friend if I could help it.

Outwardly I was a kid who was once happy and had suddenly become fearful and sullen. Inwardly, everything made me want to cry. I'd just wait until I was in my bedroom alone to do so. I was so overly sensitive to things that I couldn't even enjoy Bugs Bunny cartoons; they seemed weirdly cruel to me and I would get upset.

And there was the day when every boy in my class walked home around me in a group, beating me up as I silently walked home. One of their leaders had been my best friend for three years.

So when I found out my parents were getting divorced it was just the final blow to my self-esteem. No, actually, the final blow was my mom. When she told me she couldn't have been less interested in my feelings. She told me my dad was in love with someone else, and when I started to cry and cry and cry, she slapped me hard across the face. It was so confusing. I was so hurt and shocked that I didn't know how to react. It still feels like my whole life before that is some kind of dream that I can only occasionally remember. Maybe that's part of the reason why I'm so interested in stuff from when I was a kid--it's hard to really remember anything that happened.

I love my mom, but the fact is, she's always been pretty selfish. And in that moment, she didn't want anyone to feel worse about the divorce than she did. She was the victim, and like parents always tell you, the divorce has nothing to do with the kids.

I think that's a pretty awful fucking thing to say to a child, by the way. For twenty years I've been thinking about that. Parents become so self-involved when they're divorcing--and I understand why--and they don't realize what they're doing to their kids. They think the divorce is all about them and that just because they want to continue to be involved in the lives of their children, somehow their children are going to come out of it unscathed. It's a rationalization, and it's a pretty loathsome one.

Here's what my parents' divorce did to me: on my mom's end, it forced me to move from the town house I'd lived in since I was 4 and put me in a condo where, for a time, I had to share a bedroom with my sister (this happened in my first year of junior high, which was a traumatic enough time); on my dad's end, it took one of my parents out of the home permanently and forced me to accept that every time I went to see him I was going to have to deal with this woman who was suddenly the most important person in his life, but whom I had never even met before.

Divorce has nothing to do with the kids? It only destroyed my life as I knew it and left me in pieces.

Am I exaggerating?

My room, gone. Most of my possessions, sold at a garage sale by my mom while I was spending the weekend in Des Moines at Grandma's. Forced to move into a much smaller place with a mom who was so wrapped up in her own problems that she ignored me, to share a bedroom with my younger sister.

And my dad, now living in an apartment with another woman, a woman I didn't know. It was a reality I was just forced to accept. And I'm not making any judgments on the woman who is now my stepmother. But when you're that young, at that time in your life, and your dad just suddenly doesn't live with you anymore, and he's suddenly got this whole other life... it's weird.

Do you know what I felt like? Company.

I felt like company at my dad's apartment. And I felt like company at home, sharing a room with my sister. I had no place in the world where I could feel comfortable. Where I could feel like myself. Where I could be alone with my problems, or where I could escape from my problems.

At least I didn't live in the same room as my sister for long.

But time went on, and I was always uncomfortable in school. In high school I wasn't the kid everyone hated. In some classes I was, but because of my drawing and my writing, kids from all groups came to like me, so while I had a number of bullies who teased me and tried to terrorize me, I had individual friends in different groups who liked my company and wanted me around. Burnout friends, geek friends, science nerd friends. But the thing is, I barely ever felt like any of them were really my friends. They were just people who were sometimes nice to me and would have a conversation with me. I never asked for anything more.

The only friend I really had outside of school was Carl. He was my best friend, but he went to a different high school. We knew each other from church, where we were both basically the outcasts of the youth group for various reasons. I spent a lot of weekends at Carl's house in high school, and stopped going over to my dad's very often. I felt more comfortable at Carl's, even though I never felt like his dad like having me around very much.

(Except for one day when Carl either forgot he was working or the schedule was changed on him. His dad had to drive me home that day, and we had a nice conversation where he talked about riding trains and old jobs he used to have. That was a nice ride home. He treated me like a young adult who was worthy of respect. It's fascinating how other people can see things in your parents that you can't. Carl was always frustrated with his mom, especially. But she was his mom, you know? That's part of growing up, trying to become autonomous from your mother, who often stubbornly refuses to see you as the person you're trying to become. Carl's mom was always incredibly nice to me, and for a while called me "my other son." I talked to her on the phone a lot for a while, which I don't know if he knows about or not. I'm really grateful to her for treating me so well during a time when I felt like I really wasn't worthy of such consideration.)

So my point is, I wasn't comfortable at either of the places I was supposed to feel like I was home. I felt alone in what I was going through, and I shunned a lot of closeness. I became as fearful of the world as my mom is, and I still have problems dealing with a lot of that (and it keeps getting worse; soon, I'm afraid it's going to develop into full-blown agoraphobia). And I sure as hell didn't feel comfortable at school. My grades were mostly awful, except in English classes, because I didn't care most of the time and I never asked for help because it seemed like asking for help was a sign of weakness. When my mom slapped me that time, it felt like I could never bother an adult with my problems again.

That's why family therapy never worked for me. One time when I was talking about why I was so hurt and angry, my mom actually laughed. I refused to go after that. My mother wasn't taking the problems we were supposed to work out seriously.

I was in a group therapy at my high school, too. Can you imagine group therapy with a bunch of teenagers, all trying to look disaffected and supposed to be talking about their problems? I openly talked about my problems, and they laughed at me, too. I stopped going. I didn't feel comfortable there, either.

I know I'm saying the same thing over and over again. But that's what it was like. I didn't think I was better than anyone else. I just felt unimportant, so I believed I was unimportant. I didn't get good grades because I didn't think it mattered. Nothing I did seemed like it mattered. For a couple of years, my parents pretty much just ignored me. I went for a couple of months keeping track of the amount of times either of my parents would not hear what I was saying. I remember once, in Indiana, trying to tell my dad something. He interrupted me. And I realized, he didn't interrupt me, he just wasn't listening to me. I repeated the same sentence, over and over again, just in an attempt to see if he would ever hear me. He never did. My sister was right there, she noticed. She was frustrated by it, too.

So I felt ignored, unimportant. Like nothing I did mattered, so why try? I wasn't punishing myself or my parents, I just didn't feel like my feelings were an issue. I buried myself and tried to get through the day. I had things I wanted to do with my life, but I had been inadvertently trained to "know" that I'd never get to do any of those things. I just sort of "knew" that no one would ever love me and no one would ever be worried about me, and I tried to be numb. Unfortunately, I was still sensitive deep down, and would often explode in a rage at the slightest thing. I couldn't process anger or disappointment. I felt so unwanted that it made me think about killing myself a lot.

That's a feeling I've never been able to get entirely rid of: the feeling that my non-existence would make everyone's life easier.

Last week's In Treatment is what really made me think about all of this. Oliver's mom gets a job in another city and has to move, but she doesn't want to "uproot" Oliver, even though he's incredibly unhappy at school. Oliver's father doesn't want to take Oliver full time because he can't handle it. And Oliver is caught in the middle. Neither parent is willing to give up their job or give up their new freedom or new lives to be a parent. And it just hurt me so damn much, because it was like an argument over who doesn't want their son the least. And Oliver didn't want to move. He had the same fears I did--these fears that come from being taken out of the only home you've ever known and having your previous life obliterated. From being forced into new responsibilities and new roles before you're ready. And from being made to feel, purposely or not, like your feelings don't matter to anyone because of the bullshit lie that it has nothing to do with you.

Oliver said this week that he felt like if he wasn't around, his parents would get to move on into their new lives easily. I recognized that sentiment so much. The feeling that the mere fact of your existence is what's hindering everyone from doing what they want to do. You don't feel comfortable with your mom, you don't feel comfortable with your dad, you don't feel comfortable at school--when you're 13, where the fuck do you go?

Sometimes I'm amazed I'm still alive.

And you convince yourself you're over it. That everything's fine. That you don't carry any damage because of it. But you always do, and it spills out in your relationships and in how you live your life. Everyone tells you to just get over it and move on, stop living in the past. But living in the past isn't the problem. The problem is living in the present after all of those years of discomfort, rage, and believing your life is insignificant.

I'm still dealing with the revelation of not being comfortable. I'm okay with who I am; I'm pretty open and honest about how I feel and who I am. But I'm 32 and I've found it so hard to relax. Maybe this is part of the reason I don't want to move out of this apartment--despite all of the noise and the neighbors, this is the only place I've ever truly felt comfortable. The first place I've ever felt like I was at home. At least, for the first time since I was an oblivious little kid living in that town house in Woodridge. Living here, with my wife, a woman I've been with for 14 years, and my pet rabbit, is the only place in the world I feel completely at ease.

I don't feel comfortable at my dad's or my mom's, or at work or at the pool, or even on the internet. And my rage isn't completely under control, either. And it's only in the past three years that I've felt like I should do something that helps me keep on living because at least one person wants me around.

It's been a hard, hard road. I want to do something with this knowledge and try to ease myself into a place I've never been: a place where I'm comfortable within the world.

Is It Time for Avril Lavigne in a Bikini Already?

I always enjoy this time of year.

Prop 8 Upheld

It's official: the State of California does not believe in equality and has sided with the fundamentalists against individual rights.

UPDATE 5:58 PM: A reader of Andrew Sullivan's writes:

Have been through the Prop 8 opinion and dissents. It appears that this is a blockbuster pro-gay-rights decision, restricting the effect of Prop 8 to the effect of removing the designation of gay civil unions as "marriage," but upholding all equal rights previously declared by the Court; and, suggesting that if the opponents of gay rights were to try to restrict equal union rights for gays by constitutional change, such change would be an Amendment (not a revision) and thus would be procedurally much more difficult to accomplish.

Being able to lay claim to the word "marriage" is important, but in all other respects this appears to be a spectacular decision in favor of gay rights.

The decision leaves intact the holding of the Marriage Cases that gays have the fundamental "right to marry" under the California constitution, now and in the future; but unless and until the California constitution is again amended to the contrary, such unions cannot be called marriage.

Opponents of gay civil union rights could try another ballot initiative to expressly amend the constitution to ban such rights, but under the Court's ruling, that proposed amendment would have to ban such rights expressly to be effective. The Court's opinion makes clear that generally, amendments will not be interpreted to repeal constitutional rights by implication. The disfavor of repeal by implication is a longstanding legal principle, and the Court's use of it here is a deft way of sending this issue back to the political process while upholding gay civil union rights for the foreseeable future. Under this approach by the Court, opponents of gay civil union rights would have to word any future proposed amendments in such a way as to expressly ban gay civil union rights, and as a result, their ability to secure a sufficient number of petition signatures to get the amendment on the ballot, and then a majority of votes at the polls, will be all the more difficult.

This is a very, very good day for the cause of gay marriage rights.

Is there a silver lining here, then?

Happy 60th Birthday, Pam Grier

Monday, May 25, 2009

TV Report: Land of the Lost

I've been watching a marathon all day of the original Land of the Lost. I haven't seen this show since I was under 10, but I've really been enjoying it. I noticed that there's a DVD set of the series coming out or just come out, so maybe I'll have to Netflix it or something, because I've really been digging it.

I think my only complaint is that I can only handle so many Sleestaks in a day. That hissing sound--actually, it sounds more like a bunch of dental suction tools going off at the same time--gets old and a little irritating after six or so episodes.

I was saying on Twitter that the funny thing about Land of the Lost is that you can really see how much Lost is kind of ripping straight from it. I'm waiting to find out that the Others are evolved from the Pakuni and that Jacob is really Enik, or something. (Or Number Six, maybe; Lost is very often a pastiche of better science fiction.) Land of the Lost is kind of like a less irritating, less smug, understandable version of Lost.

Really digging this show.