A playlist for the 2016 election…

This election is remarkable in that whoever wins will be absolutely loathed by a plurality of the populace, and distrusted by a majority. It is quite possible that on inauguration day our president elect will have underwater approval ratings. If there is any state out there that splits by less than the margin of error, we are probably going to see a reprise of 2000 and a return to “selected not elected” as a meme, with further damage to the infrastructure of our democracy. Our best case scenario at this point is for Gary Johnson to do well enough to deny anyone an electoral vote majority and kick decision to the incoming congress, something that would make the premise of Designated Survivor look like Reagan’s second term. So here are seven tunes appropriate to watching our republic burn.

  1. O Fortuna— Carl Orff: This election is the bastard stepchild of Fate and Karma, and the final line “mecum omnes plangite!” (“everyone weep with me![“) seems appropriate.
  2. Fortunate Son— Creedence Clearwater Revival: We seem on the verge of electing a Democratic administration set to continue years of unbroken military adventures, so yeah.
  3. Edge of a Revolution— Nickelback: I know what you’re saying. “Nickelback!? Everyone hates Nickelback!” But consider, if Nickelback’s doing protest songs, something is very wrong in this country.
  4. 99 Luftballons— Nena: Say what you want about the Cold War, it produced some catchy tunes. Since we’re reviving the specter of nuclear annihilation, we can at least bring back the fatalistic German pop music that went with it.
  5. Crack of Doom— The Tiger Lillies: This one is sort of self explanatory.
  6. Killing Strangers— Marylin Manson: No particular rationale, but every time I see a campaign commercial I have this running in my head accompanied by a John Wick firefight.
  7. Ticking Bomb— Aloe Blacc: Another self-explanatory one, from another action movie.

 

Luke Cage— or what Marvel can learn from itself

I’m only five episodes into Luke Cage and I think I can say Marvel’s managed to hit it out of the park again.  Like the prior two Netflix series, Daredevil and Jessica Jones, Luke Cage manages to draw on all the strengths of the MCU in a smaller-scope more street-level fashion.  It perfectly encapsulates one chief strength I’ve mentioned before, superhero as trope as opposed to genre.  What Winter Soldier owes to 70’s era espionage movies, Luke Cage owes to the Blacksploitation flicks of the same era, while still being relevant, modern, and part of the wider Marvel universe.

It also shows that Marvel’s Netflix lineup continues to avoid one of the major problems of the MCU.  (See, I’m not a complete drooling Marvel fanboy, I admit the movies do have some problems.) Like its two small-screen predecessors, Luke Cage has a primary villain who isn’t a non-entity, a plot device, or completely ‘meh.’

My favorite Marvel movie, Guardians of the Galaxy has an antagonist that could be swapped with the one from Thor: Dark World and no one would even notice.  How many great scenes do you remember with Red Skull or Whiplash?  Do you even remember anything about the villain from the first Iron Man movie beyond the climatic fight scene?  When the high water mark of cinematic villainy is the guy from Ant Man and Ben Kingsley pretending to be a terrorist, you have a bit of an issue.

But in Luke Cage, Cottonmouth is a villain that’s as fascinating and scary to watch as Wilson Fisk or Killgrave.  The achievement is that much more impressive since a lot of his character echoes that of Fisk; the snaps of violence, the deep roots into his city, the desire to be a pillar of his community… but the acting sells it.  Cottonmouth has an edge of desperation that makes him both more sympathetic and more threatening.  Whenever he starts laughing, you expect someone to die.

Yeah, the series is recommended.

A Ten Video Defense of Cultural Appropriation

“Cultural Appropriation” has reared it’s sombrero-sporting head in the literary community once again in another series of critiques and critiques of critiques and critiques of critiquing and those doing the critiquing, over something that should, in the end, be a fairly straightforward caution for authors to just get it right, that somehow never ends up that simple.

Rather than attempt to spill more words into this never-ending tumult, I instead present a series of videos in defense of “Cultural Appropriation:”

So white dudes can’t rap…

This is really problematic…

If this isn’t cultural imperialism, I don’t know what is…

A university costume party goes really off the rails…

This has to be because we nuked Japan…

…or this is…

Italy, Fascism,  Eastwood, that empty chair, it all makes sense now…

A movie this fun must be bad for you…

That don’t look like Deep Purple…

And we all know country music is problematic…

Five Favorite Covers

I mentioned on Facebook that the best cover songs are ones that bring something new to the table. There’s something magical when an artist takes an existing song, does something radically different with it, and makes it work. In the following cases, I think the result surpasses the original.

5 remakes I would like to see

So there was this Ghostbusters remake/reboot that caused a lot of angst among various peoples. Since I’ve yet to see it (I’ll probably wait until it’s on Netflix.) I don’t have an opinion on it one way or another. But the existence of the film has made me ponder the idea of remakes/reboots in general; why they work (Battlestar Galactica, Casino Royale), limp past the post (Star Trek, Miami Vice), or explode in an incandescent glory of fail (The Wicker Man, The Day The Earth Stood Still.)

One obvious thing is that decent quality source material doesn’t guarantee the quality of a remake. In fact, it often seems that there is an inverse relationship; the better the original, the worse subsequent attempts seem.  That may be simply a side effect of comparing the two.  After all, it’s easier to improve on a crappy movie than improve on a great one, and making any movie worse is the easiest task of all. It also seems to me that the best remakes take the existing property and do something new with it (counter-example and failure: Psycho). Much is made of “gritty reboots,” so much so that it’s now a cliché, but there’s also the “campy reboot” that can also work/not work just as well (see Dragnet or Dark Shadows), what matters is that the change in tone gives a reason for the remake to exist.  The gender flip in Ghostbusters obviously serves a similar meta-purpose, to change the story enough to justify the movie’s existence.

With that in mind, here are five stories I’d like to see getting remade.
Continue reading “5 remakes I would like to see”

Exhibit #235 why Libertarians are the new hippies. . .

Progressives really get steamed when people point to the Tea Party and/or Libertarians as the spiritual successors to the last great anti-establishment mass movements of the 60s and 70s. To them I provide the following interview with Starchild, a San Francisco erotic services provider and Libertarian candidate for school board (h/t):

I might also note that chief among my libertarian friends are a pagan SF author and a long-haired dude who makes guitars for rock bands, while every single progressive I know is pretty much part of the establishment.