Category Archives: Nostalgia

Poetic Interlude: Special Announcement

I’m thrilled to announce that my first published poem, “Tract Home Take Down” has found a home in the debut issue of Angels Flight • literary west, a new magazine dedicated to celebrating the complex realities of Los Angeles and the artists who live and work here.

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Filed under Contemporary, Meta, Nostalgia, Power, Racism, Wordplay

Ode to Alan Rickman

“…the late Alan Rickman,” said the host of The Frame.

Hope is one of denial’s most powerful allies. Upon hearing these words on the radio, I was seized with the impulse to stop the car and fact-check, much as I had initially doubted the veracity of Monday’s news that David Bowie had passed away. But this passing was more personal. Or, to be more accurate, I’m a bigger fan of Alan Rickman. He first caught my notice in Galaxy Quest as my preferred type of comedy relief–self-effacing and intellectual–and quickly morphed into one of my secret celebrity crushes. Hearing, unexpectedly, that he had died actually made me feel something.

This past summer, I wrote an ode to Alan Rickman in the style of The Toast’s delightful “If X were you Y” series. Like most of my inexplicable infatuations with older actors, admitting to the depth of my fandom was embarrassing. But in light of Rickman’s passing, I’d like to share it as a sort of tribute.

If Alan Rickman were your boyfriend…

If Alan Rickman were your boyfriend, he would join you and your friends at karaoke, thrilling you all with renditions of 90’s hits sung two octaves lower than originally intended, inciting gales of giggles. After each number, he’d collapse beside you on the sticky bench and high-five whoever was up next.

If Alan Rickman were your boyfriend, at least once a month he’d indulge in some top notch Hans-Gruber-from-Die Hard role play, delighting you with his sensual German accent. Sometimes he would even speak in German. Try as you might to control yourself, you would swoon. Repeatedly.

If Alan Rickman were your boyfriend, he would let his hair go grey for keeps and encourage you to do the same…if that were what you wanted. Some days you would pretend you were living in the 70’s, spend an hour feathering each other’s silvery manes, and go out looking for a drum circle at a park or beach. You would be anachronistically dressed, because you’ve already spent a whole hour on your hairstyles, and really, how far can you be expected to take this whole personal grooming thing, anyway?

If Alan Rickman were your boyfriend, he would never deign to open a car door for you because he knows you are perfectly capable of operating them yourself. Unless of course your arms were full of groceries. But he would never let you carry all the groceries. Unless you had insisted.

If Alan Rickman were your boyfriend, he would not expect you to praise his interpretation of Snape, because you would have made it clear from the get-go that your imagination’s interpretation of the book version of the character is sacrosanct, and to bring up the topic at all would be touching the third rail of your relationship, straining it to such a degree that it would be nigh impossible to recover. Impossible, you’d say! He would be whispering to you in a soothing voice right now to help bring you down from the act of thinking about the dire consequences of such a fraught discourse. Breathe. Breathe…

If Alan Rickman were your boyfriend, you would address each other formally over supper at your favorite greasy spoon (i.e., Mr. Rickman, Ms./Mr. [Your Last Name Here]), and chuckle at the absurdity of it all. You would do this quietly, so as not to distract the other diners from their meals.

If Alan Rickman were your boyfriend, he would graciously accept your offer to pick up the check. You would return the favor, triggering an endless spiral of good-natured reciprocity. Neither of you would tire of this ritual. Because that’s how things work in a fantasy.

If Alan Rickman were your boyfriend, he would understand and respect your need to not see him for several days at a time. You have many things to attend to and important people in your life, not all of whom are him.

If Alan Rickman were your boyfriend, you would never have to ask to reenact the pillow talk scene from Snow Cake. He would always, always offer.

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Filed under Contemporary, Nostalgia, Television and Movies

Maximal Meta-Discourse, Engage: Ready (again) Player One

A few years ago, I wrote a response to a response to Ernest Cline’s sci-fi novel Ready Player One. Without having read it. But my response was mostly about the intersection of capitalism and nostalgia, not the book itself. I stand by that post, but I’m pleased to report that I’ve finally read the book.

Let’s pretend this is timely. After all, E3 just happened, bringing with it renewed hype surrounding the Oculus Rift.

But really, I just want to make good and examine Cline’s debut novel on its own merits, not in terms of what Douglas Wolk found compelling, unsettling, or disappointing. Now I have my own grievances to air.

So if you’re so inCline’d, check out my review of the actual book over at my other site, “Books, not People.”

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Filed under Book Reviews, Meta, Nostalgia, Technology

Evangelical Morality: now with more time travel

The Duke is back, kids. Our long national nightmare is over. At long last, we can stop waiting and once again bask in the calm judgmentalism that will never lead us astray.

John Wayne values billboard

To whom are you speaking, sir?

Who, exactly, is the intended audience here? Clearly not females. Women can quit and not endure the disappointment of Random Cowboy at the Bus Stop. But if I identified as male, I would resent the implication that I should be interpellated with this passive-aggressive bullshit. Who are you calling “son,” old man? Why are you assuming I’m a quitter? Who are you to judge me? You don’t know my life! Maybe I should quit whatever it is I was just doing. What business is it of yours? Why should I care what you think, Vaguely Cowboy-ish White Man?

I know, I know. It’s not really John Wayne who is giving the troubled male youth of America a stern talking-to. A committee of people are putting words in his mouth and using his image to indoctrinate said youth into blissful, suburban 1950’s submission.

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Filed under Contemporary, Media, Nostalgia

Shifting Aesthetic Sensibilities and the Resultant Discontinuity in “Historical” Representation: Nit-picking at one scene in “Hugo”

[SPOILERS]

Ali G is in this movie. Just kidding, that’s not the spoiler. Okay, onto the rant:

Among other things, Hugo is a love letter to Georges Melies and his work, signed smugly by Martin Scorsese. Its subject is ostensibly historical, but it was made for a modern audience.  Some might say the mission of the film was to fill a gap in the imagined knowledge of the modern movie-goer: Hugo, in part, tries to educate the ignorant masses about the Fathers (and Mothers) of the movies.

Motion pictures are presented as a form of magical realism in Hugo–an art form whose beginnings have/had been tragically forgotten and in dire need of pedantic revival. Toward the middle of the film, we are treated to a history-lesson and picture show, featuring (surprise!) some of the older the actors in Hugo. This scene reveals a living Mother of Cinema: the woman in the scene watching the movie is in the movie! (Cue emotional music meant to evoke nostalgia.) See, she’s right there, in the close-up! Crazy! But wait…something’s missing. When you’re trying to educate the masses, authenticity only goes so far. Apparently you have to make concessions for their delicate aesthetic sensibilities.

The actress playing the old-timey actress is from the present day, playing for present-day eyes and modern (American) gendered aesthetic sensibilities. We flash back and forth to what is supposed to be the same woman, but the long-shots, when the archival footage is being shown, and the close-ups, when the present-day actress is inserted, a consistent image is not maintained. There is a glaring omission in the modern recreation of the early-day film: and that omission is underarm hair. It seems it wouldn’t do to go for full authenticity, however briefly. Body hair on a woman is a no-no these days, especially for those in the public eye. And even if authenticity is discounted as a value that this film was striving for, surely there’s something to be said for visual continuity!

To be fair, the style of the movie was on the fantastical side, and historical accuracy didn’t seem to be as high of a priority as effecting a certain aesthetic mood. But for a movie so drunk on its infatuation with the infancy of cinema, so eager to put the secrets of early cinematic magic on display, it sure dropped the ball on inserting its characters into this historical world. This flub, to my mind, rather undermines Hugo‘s reverent tone. And it would not have been difficult to fix: there are few things easier than not removing the hair from one’s body. So the blatant discontinuity in this one scene seems, well, unnecessary.

Upon seeing it, this scene almost made me laugh out loud in the theatre. Oh, come on! I thought with glee. This is too much–of course the actress doesn’t want to commit to the natural look that would have been the norm back when this old film was made; to the look of her real-life historical counterpart. No, she wants to look pretty to present-day eyes, or the director or other people in charge didn’t want the side-tracking public backlash that might come if the authenticity and continuity had been preserved. Who knows exactly why modern-day gendered aesthetics triumphed over the mission of Hugo to bring early day cinema out of the shadows and give it its due…again. (I won’t get into the how the story of the movie is mirrored by the movie itself, is a layer of the same mission: educating a new generation of movie-going masses on the origins of this entertainment form. Suffice it to say that it’s meta and fractal and kind of awesome in a self-congratulatory way.) But back to the erasure of female body hair: how hilariously amazing…and disappointingly expected.

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Filed under Gender Trouble, Nostalgia, Television and Movies