From The Vault: Retro Rewind-Say Anything…

Cover of "Say Anything"

Cover of Say Anything

I am, once again, reaching back into my vault of material from defunct blogs to repost a piece about my all-time favorite movie, Say Anything… I don’t think there is any more introduction needed than that.

If you are of a certain age, and strive to be a sensitive man of any sort, than you are quite familiar with the topic of today’s Retro Rewind. Perhaps it is the fact that the film captures the fear that comes with graduating high school without a clear plan for your future perfectly, or maybe it is that every “sensitive” guy knows what it is like to be on the outside looking in at a beautiful woman who everybody thinks is out of their league. Whatever it is, this movie is able to capture the heart and mind of an entire generation of non-Neanderthal men, and many women looking for a non-Neanderthal man.

The tagline for the movie when it was released read “To Know Lloyd Dobler Is To Love Him, Get Ready To Know Lloyd Dobler”. So, what is it about Lloyd Dobler, and the movie Say Anything…, that makes us love him so? Read on.Full Disclosure: John Cusack is my own personal Jesus. This love was born from this very movie and will never, ever be extinguished. Therefore, I am, perhaps, the most biased source for information about this movie to ever set foot on the planet. But, dammit, bias is important here!

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Debunking The “Idiot Box”: How Television Helped Educate Me

The Andy Griffith Show

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What I am about to do is going to sound like bragging. Trust me, it is not. However, for the argument I am about to make, I feel that it is necessary for me to give a few details about myself. I apologize if this seems like braggadocio.

I like to think of myself as an intelligent human being. I was in the gifted program at my various schools from the time I was in the 2nd grade. I have, on multiple occasions, had my IQ tested and, each time, it has come back at near-genius or genius level. While I don’t actually put much stock into the idea of these “Intelligent Quotient” tests, it is clear that I am not a stupid individual. I graduated college with a 3.5 GPA and a degree in political science. I am, by all standards applied by our society, intelligent.

I watch more television than anybody that I know. I always have. I grew up with TV as my babysitter and have developed a love affair with it that has spanned decades now. When I was a kid I’d watch TV when I got up in the morning before going to school(good ol’ Gilligan’s Island reruns on TBS) and then watch it again from the time I got home from school until I went to bed. Sure there were occasional breaks for me to go outside and play, but not as many as most advocates would say there should have been.

Bear in mind, I was growing up in the ’80s and ’90s. This was a social and political climate that would have you believe that television was the worst possible thing that a child could be subjected to. If a child watched too much TV they would become desensitized to violence, sex, and Sally Jesse Raphael! It would rot their brains and they would believe anything that they heard come out of their digital overlords! While this may have been the case for some people, as it is the only explanation that could possibly explain the viewers of Fox News, I think that through anecdotal evidence that I can show that this is not a given outcome for every single child that was raised on television.

I would argue that television had the exact opposite effect on me. While I have the utmost respect for the teachers that I have had in my life, and would not be the man I am without them, television has supplemented my formal education in ways that are too numerous to give an exhaustive list. Instead, let me give you an example.

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Crimson: A Short Short Story

Something a bit different today, my first bit of fiction to post to the blog. Again, this has been shared at a now-defunct blog before, but it is new to here and my own work, so here it is.

Crimson

“I’m losing my mind.” These were the only words that Father Timothy could form in that moment. He couldn’t remember the last twelve hours, but he definitely couldn’t deny the scene before him.

Strewn around the room were the bodies of many members of his congregation. There was little Jamie Sanders, the altar boy who had been so helpful over the past six months. At least, he thought it was little Jamie. It was hard to tell any details through the ground chuck that resided where his face used to be. This was the same for each of his flock surrounding him in his private study.

Father Timothy saw the blood smeared on every wall. So bright. Not just red, but crimson. Who could have done this? What was that weight in his hands?

He looked down and realized that he held a shotgun. The smell, ozone and smoke, told him everything he needed to know about why he held it. The crimson tapestry that once had been the walls of his little sanctuary were all the proof he needed that he had committed a horrible sin.

BANG! BANG! BANG!

“Father Timothy, are you alright? We thought we heard something fall!”

It was Sister Catherine. She was never going to understand what had happened here. Father Timothy knew that he must face the music. He slowly laid the shotgun on the dresser and opened the door.

“Father, what happened here? Did you drop your water pitcher again?”

Father Timothy was quite confused by this line of inquiry. He knew that the scene behind him in the room was a hell of a lot more catastrophic than another shattered glass pitcher. However, Sister Margaret’s face was filled with playfulness and joy. Had she lost her mind too?

Father Timothy turned to look at the room behind him and saw that where there had only moments before been the bodies of his congregation, there was now only a shattered glass pitcher with water pooling next to it. He couldn’t help but begin to laugh. Because at that moment, Father Timothy realized that he had truly lost his goddamn mind.

New Comic Book Day: What I’m Buying

Stephanie Brown (comics)

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Looking at my trusty Chicago Cubs desk calendar, I see that today is Wednesday. Wednesday means many things to many people. It is “hump day”, which, as a comedian said in my youth(I think it was Jay Mohr but don’t hold me to that), “makes no sense as most people get laid on the weekends”. Wednesday is also the day associated with the color green in the Thai solar calendar. Wednesday is represented by the sign Mercury in that bullshit that is known as astrology and is the day that Solomon Grundy was married in the well-known folk rhyme(which spawned a Superman villain).

But, as anybody who has read this blog knows, Wednesday is a holiday around these parts. It is New Comic Book Day! And, as I did last week, I’m going to give a brief rundown of the books that will be in my bag when I leave my local comic shop. Last week was a bit of a Marvel-heavy week, while being an overall very light week of only 4 books. While this week is a slightly heavier week(6 books), it also is much more in line with my reading habits of the past few years, as it is a DC-centric week. So, without further ado, here is what I’m buying this week.

  • Batgirl #20

From the solicit:

Batgirl + Proxy vs. Slipstream – Oracle = disaster! With Oracle out of the picture, Stephanie Brown and Wendy Harris throw everything their newly upgraded firewall has at superspeed villain Slipstream (including Batgirl’s new car). When the dust settles, will Team Batgirl be able to pick up the pieces?

I’ve really been enjoying this run of Batgirl. I know that many comic fans were disappointed when they brought back this title without Cassandra Cain as the titular heroine, as I was among them. However, by using Stephanie Brown, ex-Robin and ex-Spoiler, they have actually opened this title up to be more fun and engaging. Cass Cain may be one of the most interesting and layered characters in the DC Universe but having Batgirl portrayed by a woman who was raised to be the greatest assassin to ever live always limited the amount of humor and good fun that could be found within the pages of the book. Plus, Damian Wayne has the market cornered on children raised to be assassins that are now heroes in the Bat Family. Also, with Oracle no longer playing the role of Oracle in the DC Universe, this is proving to be a great place for her protegé, Proxy, to really shine. The writing by Bryan Q. Miller in this book has not disappointed me yet, and Dustin Nguyen’s art is always something that I look forward to, in any book. Plus, I’m always a sucker for a book with a well-written female lead.

Pop Culture Staple: Buffy The Vampire Slayer

Tom Lenk, Emma Caulfield, Alexis Denisof, Alys...

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I’m struggling through some writer’s block, so I’ve decided to repost another old blog post of mine from a defunct blog. I hope you enjoy it.

From the very first scene of the Buffy TV series, two things are abundantly clear. First, this is not the lackluster film version of Whedon’s vision that had been churned out several years before, starring Kristy Swanson and Luke Perry. In fact, it is obvious in that first episode that the tone of the series and the movie could not be further apart. While the movie was campy for camp’s sake, including a role for Paul “Pee-Wee” Ruebens, the TV show was edgier, darker, and infinitely smarter.

The second thing that immediately was clear in the opening scene of Buffy is that this was not your prototypical show about vampires. The first image that is shown on-screen is that of a beautiful, young blonde woman being led into a deserted high school by a stereotypically delinquent young man. However, in that first scene, we learn that things are never what they seem in Sunnydale, CA(the fictional setting of the show).  As soon as the young lady confirms that they are all alone in the school, her face transforms into that of a vampire and she attacks the young man, sucking his blood dry. This scene alone turns the standard horror genre cliché of beautiful young girls being in danger on its head. When coupled with the fact that the hero of the series is actually a heroine, who also happens to be young, blonde, and beautiful, you start to see that Whedon has, very consciously, made a choice to subvert standard gender norms through his choice to portray a strong female as his lead character. This is a fact that has been confirmed in multiple interviews by Mr. Whedon himself.

Now, as a women’s rights activist and feminist, this would be enough of a reason for me to include this show as a Pop Culture Staple, but there is so much more to love about this show.

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Nervous Condition: One Person’s Struggle With Anxiety

Panic attack

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I started this blog with the intention of just writing about popular culture. I have done that for the most part. However, as I am the sole editor and writer for the blog, I have decided that there is no reason as to not, on occasion, post writing that has little to no bearing on popular culture, but, instead, is about me. Or is a piece that I have written and would like to put out there. This is one of those occasions. I wrote the following piece in a non-fiction writing class about a year ago. It still holds true to this day and is the most open I’ve ever been in my writing about my anxiety issues. Enjoy!

Oh, and fair warning. It is pretty long.

Nervous Condition

 

Imagine that you wake suddenly at three in the morning. You’re covered in sweat. Your heart is racing. You are absolutely certain that there is somebody in your house. This belief is so strong that, for your own piece of mind, you are compelled to search every inch of your home for this hidden intruder. You check each room, closet, window, and door in turn. Hell, even though you realize it is ludicrous, you inspect the kitchen cabinets for any sign of this unwelcome interloper. Of course, you find absolutely nothing because there was nothing there to begin with. Still, this does nothing to allay your fear that your sanctuary has been violated. You will lay in your bed for the rest of the night, sleepless, starting at every sound, no matter how small. Sounds absolutely miserable, right? Welcome to my life. This scenario, in every crazed detail, is played out in my apartment at least once, and usually three to four times per week.

I am, by almost every definition imaginable, mentally ill. Sure, I’m not the flashy kind of crazy. I don’t have hallucinations, disassociated identities, or megalomania. I’m not a sociopath, a psychopath, or some other type of criminally insane individual that will eventually land me on the FBI’s most wanted list. No, my brand of insanity is not as movie of the week worth as that, yet it pervades every aspect of my being. I suffer from anxiety disorders. Yes, that is anxiety disorders, plural.

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A 17-Year Old Girl Struck Out Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig in 1931?

Babe Ruth & Lou Gehrig at West Point 1927

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I don’t have a lot of time to write this morning, but I just read this amazing story on SI.com and felt the need to share it. The young lady’s name was Jackie Mitchell and it was her first professional appearance.

From the article by William Jeanes:

Ruth stepped in against Mitchell and took his classic stance. Using a motion best described as an underhand Bobo Newsom, her pitch would take a mean drop just before it reached the plate. She wound up and threw. Wide, a ball. The next two pitches were in or near the strike zone. Ruth swung and missed them both. He then asked that the ball be inspected. The plate umpire found nothing amiss. Mitchell then delivered the 1-2 pitch.

“STEEE-rike,” bellowed Owens, who had to be at least as brave as Mitchell. The Babe flung down his bat in protest and stalked off the field. The crowd went berserk. “He was really mad … and something to behold,” recalled Mitchell in a 1986 interview with Hal Hayes of The Atlanta Constitution.

After Ruth disappeared into the dugout, Gehrig stepped up and swung hard at three sinkers, missing them all. Yankee second baseman Tony Lazzeri was up next. He checked his swing on the first ball, which missed its mark, then walked on three subsequent pitches. Niehoff returned to the mound and called for the reinstatement of starting pitcher Barfoot. Mitchell walked off the field and into the record book.

While the article does bring up the fact that some thought that it might have been a publicity stunt, it should be noted that there is no evidence actually cited to support that theory. It is much more likely that men started that rumor as a way of trying to save face that some of their heroes were beaten by a 17-year old girl.
This story just made my day.