Category Archives: TV and Film

Winding down to the weekend

Posted on December 23, 2010 by

I have not been very bloggy of late–I am not awash in new photos, and the things that have been taking up my days aren’t, largely, worth sharing. I do have a third post about TV and homophobia up at TOR.com, in the form of a rewatch article about Running for Honor. This turned out to be some funky timing, what with the Senate repealing Don’t ask, Don’t tell this week.

I figure most of you will be taken up with holiday activities for the next few days, as will I. Rather than get into anything long here, I will just wish you all a happy one. As for me, my plan is to get back on the blogging horse slowly through what remains of December. I have an article about the word “look” and its various writing abuses in the offing, for example, but I will probably save it for Monday.

If Joss Whedon created Glee…

Posted on December 14, 2010 by

Jumping right in, with no further ado:

Due to a fateful encounter with a magical booby trap in Sue’s office fridge, Will finds all the women he ever kissed demanding song and dance numbers from him… some of them at gunpoint. Being a slut (slut slut slut…) and all, he is in serious danger of death by exhaustion, unless the kids can find out how to reverse the curse. Featuring the return of April Rhodes with a smashing rendition of “Hey, Big Spender.”

There would be fewer Eighties Classics and more Nineties emo rock. The kids would definitely have performed songs by Garbage (possibly “Bleed like Me“) and Four Star Mary.

A short distance from the William McKinley High School there would be a stunningly cool, entirely licensed, but nevertheless open to teens bar, the Gold, where the Solid Gold dancers and the cast of original Fame would rhythmically stalk the night, mysteriously immortal and thriving by sucking the talent out of unsuspecting performers.

Upon failing to get a decent solo–again!–Mercedes would work a spell to increase her already mighty musical moxie. When the spell turns on her, rats, small children and of course Britney, end up chasing her through Lima as she sings a nonstop rendition of Whitney Houston’s “I will always love You,” until finally the team finds and destroys the mystic music box where the spell resides. Will learns an important lesson.

Arty would receive the gift of real working legs from Santa Claus. Oh, sure, they would be scaly demon legs. You win some, you lose some, right? With them, he can dance the macarena, polka with ease and perform the rare but always fatal flying crane with a machete toe strike from Karate Kid 2012: The Slithering. In fact, the demonic claws puncture anything they touch, nixing his dream of becoming the football team’s new star kicker.

After a particularly memorable grapefruit and horseradish slushy pairing, Rachel turns to ex-boyfriend and all-demon Jesse for advice. Wacky hijinx ensue when he urges her to steal Dave Karofsky’s football pads for use in a vengeance spell. Jesse turns the pads into a giant rampaging Korofsky, who chases pretty young men through the town until the cheerleading squad forms a pyramid, topped by Kurt, that lures him into the meat packing plant and an inevitable but splashy end. Everyone agrees that this was neither helpful nor productive. Rachel sings a current pop song I’ve never heard of, one that truly captures her spirit of penitence and desire for redemption. She nevertheless fails to retain an important lesson.

We would live in constant fear of the sudden death of any likable or harmless character, especially if their romantic partner had just forgiven them for bad behavior.

Acting as the pawn of the mysterious media mogul who runs the local news station, Rod Remington hires Santana to appear in a TV commercial for a new exercise device, the Supple-izer. The Glee club girls are riven by jealousy over her stardom. But the commercial is enchanted, and causes the William McKinley High School staff to engage in an endless series of Supple-enhancing poses. The kids have to steal the enchanted video camera used to make the commercial, so that Santana can film and air a rendition of “Good Morning Baltimore” to snap the adults of Lima out of the trance. The plan nearly founders when she balks at singing a song expressly written for a fat girl.

Puck and Sue would get into a fistfight over which of them is badass Spike and which is post-souled emasculated whiner Spike.

Finn learns a valuable lesson when his dad comes back from the dead. Hey, what’d you do with my armchair? Let’s go throw a ball around the backyard, son. What do you say we go maim this Burt Hummel guy so I can patch things up with your Mom? Got any bbbrrrrrains in the fridge?

Show Choir rules would require the kids to recruit a hacker and a mage.

Terry Schuster would so try to kill Emma.

Not only would Emma and Will’s romance make sense, so would the overall story arc of each season. In fact, these scripts would be kick ass, nail biting, keep you up at night monuments of continuity. With songs!

At some point it would become obvious that the oft-mentioned AV club is a secret order of high school students operating as a freelance Junior Achievement franchise of the aforementioned Mysterious Media Mogul, with a mission of spreading pain, woe and degradation among the teenagers of Lima.

In a stunning revelation, the evil media mogul turns out to be Adam Baldwin.

After the painful romantic revelations of sectionals, a choir of evil babies attacks the school, rupturing eardrums with their high E’s until Puck and Finn sing them lullabies one by one. By the end of the confrontation, there has been communication, catharsis, and forgiveness. Both boys feel they’ve learned a valuable lesson, but cannot quite articulate what that might be.

When an anonymous visitor leaves the Lima Class of 89 Glee Club time capsule on his front porch, Will realizes his memories of those precious hallowed days are… well, murky. Inside the time capsule, he finds an early arrangement of “Thriller“, written in blood, with such powerfully musical music that he knows it will blow Vocal Adrenaline out of the water at Regionals. Unfortunately, the song calls forth the dancing zombie hoards, who attack the audience and threaten an eternal reign of torment unless the Glee clubber with the purest heart, Kurt, can bring himself to deliver a pitch-perfect and sincere rendition of the anti-pop anthem, Candle in the Wind.

Vocal Adrenaline’s big number, following this musical fiasco, would be New Pornographer’s song “The Slow Descent into Alcoholism.” (Courtesy kelly-yoyoKelly)

Students who cause a disturbance in the library are never seen again.

After an encounter with her one-time mentor, played with deliciously wicked abandon by guest star Eliza Dushku, reformed dark priestess Suzy Pepper has a relapse to her Will loving ways. She turns Emma into an adorable cartoon mouse… and Sue and Terri into cats.

Succumbing to one of his random fits of badness, Will lets an opposing school’s cheerleading coach into Sue’s office, and the coach steals Sue’s diary. The lurking force of irrational babble within the diary is usually contained by Sue’s personality, but now the entire school runs amok, making megalomaniacal pronouncements, advocating bizarre legislation and telling people that’s how they “Cee” it. Will realizes what he’s done only after he is arrested for gross overuse of haircare products. But how can he get back the journal if he’s in jail?

Gina Torres would take over the school board. She would be wearing extremely provocative boots (and other garments as well) and have Bryan Ryan on a leash. She would sing “When You’re Good to Mama,” from Chicago, to the terrified WMHS student body.

I will leave the true nature of Quinn’s baby unexplored. Or perhaps to you. Additions are, naturally, extremely welcome.

Links and language

Posted on December 10, 2010 by

A couple links, first: my Quantum Leap rewatch of “A Single Drop of Rain” is up at TOR.COM, and there’s a new review of Indigo Springs here. Reviewer C.N. Rivera wasn’t crazy about the back and forth between the two storylines, and she hated Sahara from the git-go. To the latter, I confess I thought: “GOOD!”

Second, because she’s so darned interesting, I want to show you my friend Linda Carson, talking about art history and Lady Gaga’s references to same. (It’s a quickie: the Waterloo Ignite talks give speakers five minutes and twenty slides–the motto is “Enlighten Us, but Do it Quick.”)

I’m thinking “Bring on the meat dress!” may become a new catchphrase here at Chez Dua, which ties into some musings and observation of mine about language. None of us speaks quite the same language, you see: we all have our own DIY dialect.

Groups of people start building their own language as soon as they come together. Work groups, friendships, sports teams, theater companies, lovers… it’s part of the process of forging connections: in-jokes, the task-specific language, all this in-speak forms the true secret handshake. Once established, it can be used to refer back to specific facts, to memories, to emotions; it can also be used include or exclude. Your personal language is a merger of these separate variations, a fusion of the tongues of the family, the workplace, and your variety of social spheres.

The inspeak also can come with grammar and usage conventions. This spring I learned that in birding, the use of the term LBJ can refer to any one of the numberless brown handful-sized birds out there. LBJ stands for little brown job, and means, therefore, your basic bushtit or sparrowy bird. But I dug further, and discovered that within birding culture, you can’t just just go sticking this label on every LBJ that comes along. Once or twice, and you’re in the club. Once too many times, and you become some schmuck who can’t identify what’s in front of them.

(Also, if you’re me, this leads to an earworm of: LBJ, LBJ, how many kids did you kill today? Which sparrows appreciate not at all. Or it takes me to memories of the weird-butt animatronic LBJ cracking jokes at the Presidential Library in Austin. Really. Not joking.)

One very rich and heavily mined source of inspeak, of course, is pop culture. Here in North America, we eat, sleep, and breathe movies, TV, and books. We transform catchy quotes, imbue them with our own meanings, and sometimes make them impermeable to others in the process.

Some examples:
In my house, Monty Python has provided the line “S/he is a standard British Bird.” To us, this means any UK actor we recognize from multiple costume dramas, but don’t know by name. Not Dame Judy, not Rupert Graves… but the actress who was in Sense and Sensibility, say, who then played the King’s widow in Young Victoria. (I know, I could look her up, but that’s not the point.) Anyway, she’s an SBB.

Or the two blink and you miss ’em little boys on BlueBloods (What, you’re thinking, there are kids on Bluebloods?) have become Dr. Quinn and Medicine Woman thanks to Will Ferrell and Talladega Nights. kelly-yoyoKelly and I crack up pretty much every time we say this.

Finally, no Child of the Eighties private language would be complete without a scattering of quotes, some mangled, from Ghostbusters. We were dragging ourselves out the door the other day and what came out of my mouth wasn’t “Rah rah, let’s go, we can do it, go team!” It was: “Let’s show this prehistoric bitch how we do things downtown.” It made sense. I’m not sure it should have.

This is a basic human behavior, but it can be a tricky thing to set up in fiction. If you’re writing something contemporary and you use actual pop culture, you may be stale-dating your stories. If you’re not, there’s a process. You make up the source, put it in context, use it appropriately… and bang! When you bring off that effect, of letting the reader in the club, of having them understand perfectly, on an emotional level, something that doesn’t make actual sense when scanned… it’s a powerful thing. It’s hard to do but it’s also something I find hugely compelling, when I encounter it as a reader.

Where do your linguistic quirks originate? If you’re a writer–have you ever pulled this off in a way you’re exceptionally proud of?

Violent homophobia, TV style

Posted on December 6, 2010 by

This week my Favorite thing Ever is gay marriage, by way of a ramble through Fame, Glee and the laugh-riot topic of gaybashing. It’s a bit of a weird essay, perhaps; I had mixed feelings about season two of Glee even before they embarked on a certain Kurt storyline.

Glee has so many great things going for it, and the events of “Furt” are very Toobworthy. I don’t care for very special episodes and one thing that’s good about this storyline is it isn’t some self-contained boo boo kiss. McKinley High has been bully heaven since the show hit the airwaves, and Kurt was always the target of choice for its scariest thuggizens. I like that nobody pretends that teachers or school boards or parents can fix the part of human nature that makes mean kids prowl around seeking out weak kids and selectively terrorizing those least likely to get support or sympathy.

This is also why I admire the It Gets Better videos that are popping up on my Facebook and Twitter feeds with such regularity; the soul-destroying abuse of queer kids in schools is on people’s minds and that is great, totally amazing.

My friend Jay Lake, as many of you know, has a stunningly honest and revealing blog about his life and, lately, about his battle with cancer. I admire Jay’s openness, but I don’t aspire to it. Oh, I’ll happily post images of every square inch of Vancouver or anywhere else I happen to go. I’ll tell you about writing, and reading, and teaching and other bits and pieces. But I conceive of and then discard a stunning number of posts that deal with the nuts and bolts of my day to day life, because I suspect a lot of it of being kinda dull, and because I am a fairly private person.

That said, I don’t have much use for closets or coyness. I’ve been always been out online, made it known that I’m proudly queer and genderqueer, and I’ve even occasionally made reference in my blog to having been gay-bashed in my teens. I do this because there’s a difference between privacy and pretense. While I almost never go looking for big conversations or comment streams full of virtual hugs, I’m not gonna lie to avoid ’em.


So, anyway. The part of the Glee episode “Furt,” the bit that poked my gaybash button, was the vivid depiction of one kid causing another to live in abject abject terror. Wow. That was so my life for awhile! Complete with the thing where you forget for a second, and let start feeling something other than fear, and WHAM!

I haven’t ever seen the mirror held up, on a TV show, with such clarity. There was heebie and jeebie, folks.

Then it passed, and instead I got to thinking about the yay of my marriage to Kelly, and that’s what led to this Favorite Thing Ever post. And next week I will spin back to the Eighties and watch Sam and Al get their gay on for TOR.COM when I rewatch “Running for Honor”.

After that, who knows? Though there’s probably a 75% chance that a photograph of a bird will be involved.