Secret Pop

May 21, 2005

Threading the Spindle

For some reason, my journal entries have felt somewhat chore-like this past week or so. I let so many things slip through the cracks. Stories I don't bother to tell. I hear myself speaking them to the people I know and run into on a regular basis, and I lose my zest for making them permanent.

For instance, last week, I drove to Claremont to see a dinner theater matinee performance of A Chorus Line with my dad, who had bought tickets for himself and my mother only to later find that my mother was going to be out of town. So I drove fifty miles and joined him and this church group of older folks. They call themselves "55 Plus," but, let's face it, I'm closer to 55 than most of these people. "55 Plus Thirty" might be a better name. Anyway, when my father said it was going to be a church group and also that it was going to be A Chorus Line, I said, "Are you sure? Because you know there are some mature themes in that show." And he sort of shrugged it off. But sure enough, long before the number "Tits and Ass" even came up in the program, the pastor had excused himself out to the courtyard and apparently had no intention of coming back for the rest of the show. The fellow who organized this affair came back at intermission and told everyone that they were going to leave. And I was surprised to see my dad decide to leave with all of them, ditching me there, fifty miles from home and only halfway through a show I didn't really want to see so urgently in the first place. The people I told this story to heard me say things like, "Christians can be so immature," and make my case about the strange elitism they use to condemn all things secular. I talked about the idea of their being fishers of men, but apparently only of men who never talk about the unwanted erections they used to get in high school. My father is a right grown-up, and I don't think he would have left had he not been pressured to by all those cranky old skinbags. He even leaned over at one point and told me that one of the women on stage was really good. Clearly he can handle a little language, which is all there really was. I got into a frustrating debate with my Uncle Virgil about the content of the show. He threw around generalities that implied that the creators of this show put smut in it to make more money. And I had to object that I can't imagine paying a premium to hear the word "bullshit" said in a crowded room. I mean, if they put some horsefucking up there or something, then maybe. But mention of gonorrhea is no great shakes in my book. And he started telling me about how a show like this would never be done in a town called Branson. And it only got more inane from there. My dad even chimed in and supported me at one point when I was trying to say that the language and content are in there because of a desire to faithfully represent the community in which this show is taking place. Much like one might expect a play about the Navy -- and not Anchors Aweigh -- to have some language in it. And possibly horsefucking, as well.

I think I was going to call the blog entry I planned to write One Singular Sensation: Outrage. But I never got around to writing it. Anyway, bad as I felt about the cast coming back for Act Two and seeing this one table right down front empty of its former thirty occupants, I ended up leaving at intermission, too, because I decided I might as well beat the traffic back to Los Angeles, whence I immediately left for San Diego to drop Audrey off before my birthday weekend. Then I went and had some drinks, and I ended up driving back to Los Angeles at about three a.m. All told, I put about 350 miles on the car I am borrowing from my parents in one day. And I think I am still a bit tired from it.

That same day, I made a note that I've never been kicked in the yarbles, but I have fallen hard on the cross bar of a ten speed. I don't remember why I wanted to remember that fact. But I remember that it happened when I was in grade school and that there was actually some bruising.

I also went to see House of Wax last week, believe it or not. And it was really far less good than I could have ever imagined. Less good than House of a Thousand Corpses. Seriously, less good than that. And Paris Hilton gave an infuriatingly bad performance. Not that anyone else in the movie was particularly convincing or likeable. But Paris Hilton can't even convince you that something smells bad. And I'm not joking about that at all.

Tonight, I went to see Revenge of the Sith at The Arclight with Wayne Federman and Derek Hughes and Martín. I actually had a great time. I laughed at parts of the movie that were not meant to be funny. And I would look over at Martín from time to time as if to say, "What the...?" And he would nod in concurrence. He had already seen it twice before tonight. Which I appreciated, because there were a couple of times when I needed someone to tell me what had just happened that I couldn't discern with my logical brain. I don't want to write a lengthy review about it. I was made uncomfortable by the repeated use of the word "younglings." I was ever so disappointed in the Wookiee "battle" scenes, which had been far overhyped in geek discussion circles when the teasers first came out. And -- this will sound really awful of me -- but Peter Mayhew is too fat to play Chewbacca anymore. Unless we are to believe that twenty years later his metabolism finally hits its stride. There were a lot of battle scenes that reminded me perhaps too much of Starship Troopers. Or droids that reminded me of the Mondoshawan. Or of Captain Eo. And I tire of the trend in action films today for the combat to be so fast-paced that you can't see a single move distinctly from anything else that is happening. The lightsaber fighting looked like colorful windmills or maybe some sort of glowstick nunchaku thing at Burning Man. The art and elegance of swordfighting is utterly lost in them. When I was at the bar before the movie started, a greasy-haired youngling with one of those plastic, retractable lightsabers said this to his father, "Dad, I have a question. Do you think those lightsabers are real?" He was referring to something he had seen someone wielding outside the theater. And I found it both sweet and sad to overhear him ask, because it's great that children want so much to believe but he was clearly too advanced in years to be that naive.

But, really, in the gestalt, I enjoyed watching the movie. It was fun. And I didn't have anything at all riding on it being more than that. And my most stalwart advice for enjoying the movie in a zen sort of way is (a) have a cocktail or two before and/or during the screening and (b) don't let your brain start thinking about how good it could have been. I think the biggest letdown in all three of these films has been how obvious it seems to nearly any eye that the problems could so easily have been fixed. And if you don't lose yourself in the frustration of that idea, you can still watch it and be okay and not busy your brain with cutting dialogue from scene to scene or reworking premises when they make no kind of human sense. That's the way to play it, if you ask me. There is forgiveness in forgetting and forgetting in forgiving. And Natalie Portman and Ewan McGregor both have a surprising number of growths on their faces.

Martín and I agreed that the moments when foreshadowing of continuity showed up were the greatest pay-offs for us personally. It satisfies something of the geek in you (read: "me") to hear names or scenarios mentioned that you know will be coming into play in the following episodes or to see the two suns of Tattoine and that weird little igloo house. And I am still a great fan of the music. That callback to "The Duel of the Fates" was pretty nice. I remember hearing John Williams conducting the L.A. Philharmonic in a performance of that at the Hollywood Bowl back in 1999. It's hard to believe this second trilogy is already that time-spanning. My, but how easy it is to throw a huge chunk of your life away on stories and stuff.

I haven't been feeling so hot this week. My vim is at a record low. Anxiety begets anxiety. Staying up all night makes it hard to sleep. I went to a few comedy shows early in the week and fulfilled my typical food to drink ratio for a night out, meaning I ate nothing at all and drank a bit more than that. I went to the Joe Jackson/Todd Rundgren concert in San Diego and stayed out until dawn playing cards and drinking and generally disregarding the fact that I had to drive back to L.A. the next morning. Sometimes, I expect to wake up in the morning and see that I've suddenly aged a huge number of years. Like the dude who chooses poorly in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. I should take some vitamins. I don't have any desire to see what the bones under my facemeat look like.

No comments: