And when I found out that Rush, my musical obsession when I was in college, was going to make an appearance in the film, I was pretty stoked. Not just because, uh, I might still enjoy RAWKING THE FUCK OUT to some Ayn Rand-inspired, mathematically-precise pop/art rock, but because for a certain generation of slightly nerdy dudes, Rush is the music of male bonding.
Pompous, ridiculous, musically expert, with lyrics so full of glittering, hard-edged capitalist defiance you might think the band was from Soviet-dominated Poland rather than the suburbs of Toronto… it’s the kind of music that cries out for adoring internet hyperbole and endless comment-board wanking. In short, it’s music for powerless male nerds.
Sometimes these nerds are drawn in by the literary references and fantasy convention costuming:
And sometimes they’re attracted to the sheer stadium-anthem machismo of it all:
But it’s music that can be talked about endlessly, dissected and argued about in granular detail, before you and your buds turn out the lights, turn on some lasers (yeah, we had lasers), and get down to the serious business of air guitar and desk drum.
My old buddy Jim Hunter, a cinematographer, posted this recently on Facebook: Jim Hunter is out of stands. We’re lit. Which, if you know the way Jim lights, is hilarious. Check out his reel here — he’s fantastic!
Michael Moore can suck it.
I was kind of a fan back in the days when he was pulling silly stunts in front of GM’s corporate headquarters, and I think Bowling For Columbine is a fantastic exploration of the problem of gun violence, mostly because Moore goes outside of established liberal dogma and argues that the problem isn’t gun ownership, but paranoia. (Canada, he points out, has almost as many guns as we do, per capita.)
But when he (rightly) became exercised over the invasion of Iraq, I think he lost his goddamned mind, and he also became a pretty lousy filmmaker.
Maybe you’re not in the armed forces. Maybe you don’t know anyone in the armed forces. But even the most insulated Berkley peacenik ought to have had some sense of embarrassment at the way Moore, in Fahrenheit 9/11, first posited that the people who join the military are those too dumb to know better, and then shamelessly exploited the families of fallen soldiers to score cheap political points.
When Adama wrested control of the fleet from the President early in the show’s run, it was a terrifying demonstration of the fragility of civil order, and even though the citizens lived in spaceships rather than cities, the idea was clearly applicable to our own consensual democracy. Even the Cylons, as long as they didn’t dominate the show, were useful as analogs of certain classes of real human beings, and it was to the show’s credit that the analogies shifted over time. But once the writers jumped over into the realms of prophecy and magic and mystical pop songs, any individual episode became, necessarily, opaque to a viewer who hasn’t followed the plot devotedly, because he has no ability to guess at the emotional or intellectual weight of the information he doesn’t have.
All of this is developed with extraordinary depth and complexity in the graphic novel — which Alan Moore was deliberately trying to make the “Moby-Dick of comics” — and so it’s no slight compliment when I say that that the filmmakers handle all of this material in a remarkably compelling and mature way. Watchmen is fundamentally about the dark side of heroism — about the human cost of saving humanity from human nature — and each of the male superheroes can be seen as a different masculine approach to dealing with the application of power. Dr. Manhattan is one of the “Masters of the Universe,” someone so far removed from human suffering that he can no longer relate to it or make moral choices about it; Rorschach is his inverse, a small, faceless man defined entirely by his sense of righteousness. Meanwhile the Comedian and the Nite Owl also form a matched pair: the former is an unabashed defender of white male American privilege, while the latter is a milquetoast and largely ineffective peacemaker. Finally, there’s Adrian Veidt, Ozymandias, who’s smarter and faster than any of the other heroes except Dr. Manhattan, and whose drive to perfect the world is as outsized and unbalanced as his elephantine ego.
The Lady Friend and I recently decided to jump into the world of Asian supermarkets. We did this because we like Asian food and because we are adventure-seekers, but also because we are jobless hobos who wake up at noon and therefore miss things like actual farmers’ markets.
So we scoured the internets and found that Yelp is pretty postive about California Market near Western and 3rd. It’s a pretty cool place — when you pull into the parking lot, young ladies in paramilitary garb and red neckerchiefs try to hand you literature. Well, not us, because we’re white, but if you’re Korean you can go down there and find out what that’s about.
And the inside is pretty cool, too. It’s where old Korean ladies go to find things like coarse salt for pickling cabbage and where young Korean ladies go to buy prepackaged pickled cabbage. It’s also where discriminating young white hobos go to find the really good ramen.
But of course the Lady Friend and I like to cook, so we were there primarily for the raw ingredients. And here’s where my hippie paranoia began to spiral out of control, because as soon as I saw the GIGANTIC (and surely genetically tampered-with) Fuji apples on display, like a gang of grapefruits trying to get into an apple party, I began to feel like I had fallen out of my carefully cultivated bubble of organic-food wholesomeness and into a dystopic nightmare of Frankenfood imported from the Third World. Why is all this food so cheap? It’s never this cheap at Whole Foods. What’s wrong with it?? I began sifting through all the fruits and vegetables that had labels, confirming my own worst fear: many of them were from China.
So the recession of the 1970s led to a throw-the-bums-out dismantling of the government in the 1980s, fuelled by a surprisingly robust collective resentment of government’s most visible institutions — the DMV, the IRS, and the school system. I’m not convinced that most Americans really understood the economics of trucking regulation or savings-and-loan oversight. But they did understand their own personal experiences with public institutions, which by the late ’70s and early ’80s had become unpleasant, frustrating, and often quite costly. So voters gave fairly sweeping authority to President Reagan and, later, Newt Gingrich, allowing them to deregulate and privatize all kinds of things, not based on whether it made good social and economic sense to do so, but based on a highly personal anger towards a system seen as both hopelessly incompetent and full of knaves.