Love The Way You Lie

Author’s Note: This originally appeared on the blog I Fry Mine In Butter.

I’m including a Trigger Warning with this post, because I’d like the courtesy.

So, apparently there’s a bunch of controversy around Eminem’s new video for the song “Love The Way You Lie” featuring Rhianna. Not about the song (in fact, most folks agree that it’s pretty damn powerful), but about the video.

The video “stars” Megan Fox and Dominic Monaghan (“Charlie” from Lost), and chronicles their relationship—a relationship centered around alcohol, abuse, and sex. And it’s the combination of violence and sex that are throwing people up in arms.

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Fever Pitch, or How I Learned to Stop Rolling My Eyes and Enjoy Football

World Cup fever has gripped the world, even those of us who never intentionally watch soccer(which I will refer to as “football” for the rest of this post). And one of my goals was to finish the book Fever Pitch before the World Cup started. And so, I did.

I’m not going to say that reading the book changed my life. It didn’t. But the book helped me in my quest to understand the majority of my friends and my partner, who text each other whenever there’s a game going on. I usually know when this is going on, because his (my partner’s) cell phone starts chirping incessantly, and when I ask who it is, he tends to quietly murmur our uber-soccer-fan friend’s name and look sheepish. I know that it’s a football match when that happens, or that they’re ranting about a certain player, or arguing about why a certian player is/isn’t good. I’ve learned to stop asking questions, not about football, but about life (How is he? Has he been working on his novel? Got a compelling protagonist? Friends become enemies, enemies become friends? Hmm?) when this happens, because I’m going to get the “That is soooooo not important” look. 

Fever Pitch does not have the same plot as either of the movies (in the US, we have the baseball movie starring Jimmy Fallon and Drew Barrymore, about the obsessive BoSox fan; that was based on the British movie of the same name, which follows Colin Firth who’s an obsessive Arsenal fan, like Nick Hornby). The book, really, has no plot to speak of. Nick Hornby relates anecdotes, and progresses along a time line in which he explains relationships with various people (family, friends, girlfriends, coworkers) through the lens of football, and how he can see football affecting his life, but also how he has no idea why it affects his life so much. It just does, and he’s ok with that.

I’ve always loved Hornby’s writing style; it’s a very comfy way of writing to me, like a blanket I can wrap around my brain…it’s like chatting with a close friend, really. I have yet to read one of his books that I didn’t enjoy, so I wasn’t worried about that with Fever Pitch. I was, however, worried that, well, I just wouldn’t get it. I didn’t need to worry.

Do I understand the sport? Nope. I can follow it, and pick up bits of the rules, strategies, and player/club information as I go, like I’m a bird picking up shiny things. And really, that’s all I want to be able to do. What I did get from the book, as a casual enjoyer of football (and I’m a Rugby Girl at heart), is a sense of how someone can become that big a fan; it helped to put me in a place where I can understand people like my partner, and sympathize/empathize with him, and celebrate with him. Also, I’m better able to just sit and enjoy the sport; I’ve always appreciated football–it’s a hell of an endurance sport–but I’ve never really thought about the grace and beauty of the sport until I read Fever Pitch. I get that now.

One more thing: I love that Hornby calls out teams on the racism that has always occurred; things like fans throwing bananas at Black players (on their own team!!!!! askjfaiscniofcs;kj;dh!!!!) and all sorts of derogatory commentary from the stands have, it seems, always happened. And Hornby says, basically, that it needs to stop, because it’s ruining a beautiful sport and turning people (new players, new fans, etc) away from the game (and, you know, it’s just plain wrong). That said, he acknowledges that he’s having the “typical Liberal response” because he’s thinking about all the things he’d like to do or say to the racist rectal haberdashers, but that he’s too weak and lacks the courage of his convictions to do any of those things. It’s this sort of thing that keeps the narrative human and relatable, even if football’s not your obsession; it’s the sort of thing that we all deal with, on different levels, and I appreciate him not sugar-coating the stupid violence and hatred that can be created/engendered by the sport.

I’d recommend this to anyone who loves football, knows someone who obsesses over football, or someone who likes good conversations, because this book definitely provides that. It can drag from time to time, but never too much. I’d give it a solid “A.”

Featuring…

I love music. Duh. I study it, I perform it, I learn it inside and out. I love the trivia that exists in the music world, and I especially love all of the known and unknown collaborations out there.

Some of my favorites include:

Beat It–MJ (Eddie Van Halen does the guitar solo)

Modern Love–David Bowie (Steve Ray Vaughn plays the guitar part at the beginning, and actually was on most, if not all, of the Let’s Dance album)

(I apologize… you can’t embed the actual video)

Satellite of Love–Lou Reed (David Bowie sings back-up vocals)

Fame–David Bowie (John Lennon sings the “faaaaaame” part)

Gloria–Them with Van Morrison (Jimmy Page plays lead guitar)

(WTF is that donkey doing?)

Paradise By The Dashboard Light–Meatloaf (Roy Bittan and Max Weinburg of the E Street Band play keys and drums)

(The woman singing is Ellen Foley, but the video features Karla DeVito lip synching Foley’s part. My mom actually went through a Karla DeVito phase in the early 80’s, with the hair and makeup.)

Any favorites to add to this list?

Ain’t No Place For The Weary Kind

My boo and I watched Crazy Heart tonight. We try to watch all of the Oscar noms before the actual ceremony, but didn’t get around to it til now. 

Holy crap.

I know that everyone said it was like The Wrestler except about country music and that while The Wrestler  was better, Jeff “The Dude” Bridges was better/more compelling than Mickey Rourke. Frankly, I don’t think that The Wrestler was better; honestly, I fell asleep during the first hour of it. And no, I never finished it. I will eventually, I promise. 

Maybe it comes from the fact that I’ve spent time on the road with a bunch of musicians, traveling around in a beat-up, smelly van. And not just any musicians, but country musicians. Let me tell you, if you’re not familiar with the current state of country music, that it’s nothing even resembling what “country” music should sound like. Acts like the fictional Bad Blake or Tommy Sweet are hard to find out there, and when you do find them, it’s usually in some run-down, out of the way hole in the wall where only the lonely and depressed can find solace. 

I’m not  a country music purist, by any stretch of the imagination. While I grew up with parents who broadened my musical horizons and exposed me to music like Hank Sr. and Waylon as well as all sorts of Southern gospel music, I never really latched on to country music. I think most of that was because of my disinterest in most over-produced stuff, not to mention a rebellion against where I’m from. 

Crazy Heart features some great music by T Bone Burnett (who did the  O Brother soundtrack and oversaw the music for The Big Lebowski and Walk The Line), and a solid, solid, solid performance by Jeff Bridges as an old, road-tired, alcoholic country musician traveling the Southwest. It’s fairly typical of your average redemption story, but for some reason it hits more chords with me (pardon the musical pun!).  I tend to read everything ever on Wikipedia, but I refused to read up on this movie. As a result, I honestly didn’t know how the movie was going to end; I figured there were several option: one, he winds up dying; two, he continues life, drinking himself into a stupor and playing in dive bars; or three, he gets his act together. 

All of them could have happened, and, honestly, I would have been okay with any of the endings. I’m not telling which one it was, of course, but it was ultimately satisfying.

Jeff Bridges was, of course, awesome. Honestly, The Dude can do little wrong in my book. Maggie Gyllenhaal was surprisingly good (I say that, even though I liked her in The Dark Knight and love-love-loved her in Secretary), and Colin Farrell was a delight in his few scenes. Also, cue an awesome cameo from Robert Duvall, and you got yourself a gumbo!

Overall, I enjoyed the ride through country music land, and am going to download the soundtrack as soon as possible.

A Day For Geeks

Yesterday, my dearies, was a combination holiday for me. May 25 is the (original) Star Wars Day, Geek Pride Day, and Towel Day! Wheeeeee!

Growing up, I was surrounded by awesome nerd culture. My parents both loved sci-fi (my mom more so than my dad), and I was raised on a fairly steady diet of Star Wars, old science fiction movies, and Star Trek (both TOS and TNG). Oh sure, I wanted to be a princess, but only if I got to be Princess Leia. Or her best friend who wound up with Lando (who was a close second to Han Solo for me). Our kids would play together, and we’d all make fun of their whiny Uncle Luke. What could be better?

My dad grew up during the ’50s, so he spent many Saturday afternoons watching the monster movies. His favorites (and mine as well) were the ones featuring “Science! Gone! Wroooonnnnnngggg!!!!” So, as a child, I saw most, if not all, of the Godzilla movies (not to mention any other number of “kaiju” movies). And movies like “Them!” “The Day The Earth Stood Still,” “The Fly,” and “X: The Man With X-Ray Eyes” traumatized him enough that he felt it was his fatherly duty to share them with me (and yes, I know “X: etc” came out in the 60s). Rather than being traumatized (because, seriously, I was 5 and knew how hokey they were), I was instead fascinated. I still think that all scientists are, indeed, mad (mad mad MAAAD!) and regularly request that my science-nerd best friend figure out how to make tiny clone-monster versions of me.

Star Trek was my mom’s thing. And she was an expert. I’m not quite as up on my ST knowledge as she was, but I can still pull the really obscure reference out of my ass if need be. I was in the Challenge program from 2nd grade through high school, when I started taking AP classes, and I remember clearly the first computer animation I created when I was in 3rd grade. I believe we were using Apple 2Es, and saved everything on those gigantic (literally) floppy disks. I created an animation of the Enterprise (I think I created the NCC-1701-A, since “The Voyage Home” was my favorite movie EVAR!) blowing up a Klingon Bird of Prey. Man, I wish I still had that. 

Towel Day is, of course, in reference to The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy by Douglas Adams. This is something I came to later in life, so it’s not part of my formative years or my creation as a nerd. But it’s still something that’s become a part of my everyday life/conversations (which are riddled with quotes and references to all things pop culture). Also, it presents a pretty good female character in Trillian, which makes me happy.

Granted, this is a very limited scope of geekdom. But for yesterday, it’s pretty good. And relevant to me. So pffft.

Summer Reading List

Since I spend the majority of my days at home (evenings are spent teaching), I’ve decided that this is the summer I catch up on some of my reading. This year, I’ve gone through the bookshelves in the house and picked books that I either should have already read or that I’ve read excerpts from for school. I may write about some of them upon completion.

This list isn’t in order, by the way. It also is comprised of fiction and non-fiction. All links click to an Amazon page (and no, I’m not getting paid for this).

Edit: I will mark through the books I’ve finished. I’ll also be adding to the list if I happen to pick up other books along the way.

The Guernsey Literary and Potato-Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer (I’m reading this for the book club I’m in)

Fever Pitch by Nick Hornby (This is a book about football {soccer} and inspired the movie of the same name, starring Jimmy Fallon and Drew Barrymore. And yes, I enjoyed that movie.)

The Glorious Deception and Hiding The Elephant by Jim Steinmeyer (both about old-school magic and magicians)

Sin in the Second City by Karen Abbott (an account of the history of Chicago’s Everleigh Club, the women who ran it, and the men who wanted it shut down)

Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand (I’ve never read it, and thus feel like a failure of an English major)

Will in the World by Stephen Greenblatt (we read bits of this in a Shakespeare class, and I’ve always wanted to finish it)

Under The Dome by Stephen King (I’m a Stephen King fan, and proud of it. I recognize all of his issues, but can still find enjoyment in his works. And I’ve heard this was pretty good)

Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout (also for my book club)

The Ender’s Shadow Series by Orson Scott Card (OSC is, for me, a problematic person, but I love his writing style and the world that he created for Ender. The Shadow series follows the other children from Ender’s Game, so I’m interested to see how well OSC can work with a preexisting story that he’s trying to parallel)

I can promise that’s not going to be the entirety of what I read this summer, and I may update this from time to time. What are you guys going to be reading?

Oh Noes! The Apocalypse n’ junk!

Oh my. 

First off, I’m feeling inspired to write, which is kinda…new…for me right now. Also, the gang over at the super-awesome-and-fatabulescent  I Fry Mine In Butter made little ol’ me the IFMiB Commenter of the Week!

So, today I’m feeling inspired by the (fairly) recent apocalyptic thriller by Scott Stewart, Legion. It stars Paul Bettany as renegade angel Michael, who blows shit up, has an awesome knowledge of modern weaponry, and is sent to save (yet) another HOLY WHITE BABY from, like, totes evil minions. 

BUT WAIT!

Michael is actually here of his own volition, having defied God’s will to come down here and save the wee tiny fetus from…um…God.

Why? To quote Brian Griffin: GOD. IS. PISSED.

Why is God angry enough to smite us all? Uh. Well. That’s not really discussed.

Ok, well, what makes this baby so special? That’s…not really mentioned either. 

Also, why the hell does the character Jeep (for realz, y’all, that’s his name) have an incredibly awesome Southern accent? He lives in the frickin’ Mojave desert! In a “town” named (get this!) “Paradise Falls” and is Dennis Quaid’s son. Now, I know that they probably didn’t feel up to getting a dialect coach for Lucas Black (aka that kid from “Sling Blade”), but still… I take offense to the “Dude lives in a trailer so he must have a ‘trashy’ accent” trope. Also, seriously, did we need another “spoiled brat reconciles with rich, obnoxious parents who are APPALLED! to be stuck at a truck stop” thing or a “Older, wiser Black man who’s ‘seen things’ gives words of wisdom to the young thug” scene? 

Basically, as was discussed with my besties last night, this movie comes across like something from an Intro to Screenwriting class. There’s lots of “show, don’t tell” which is good, but it’s always so…overdone. The idea of the story (God being pissed at humans for their wicked ways, so he tries to smites them) isn’t too bad, but could have been explored in a better, and more logical way. Or at least in a way that somehow had some semblance of a plot. And, really, we were spared FOR NOW *dum dum dummmm* because Michael was able to change God’s mind? Because the shmuck Jeep never gave up on the pregnant, smoking, snarky  Girl Of His Dreams? (She’s also apparently slut-tastic, which is a whole ‘nother thing I take issue with, but won’t get into now. Why’d it have to be insinuated that she’s a skank, just because she’s a pregnant single woman who doesn’t like The Dude That’s Right For Her? Mrar.)

I enjoyed Paul Bettany (possibly mostly because I have always and will always love him and will fight Jennifer Connelly and her eyebrows for him in an epic battle at some point in the future).  And some of the dialogue was so-bad-it-was-awesome (my personal favorites were all uttered by Tyrese, like something along the lines of “Why do I have to explain the motherfucking meaning of the word pestilence?” Also, another gem is the line “It’s because I woke up hoping to get double teamed by a couple of meth head truckers in some bathroom of a desert shithole. It’s good that we got stuck here.” That was not said by Tyrese, but by the aforementioned spoiled brat.) And I enjoyed the line “And yet in the midst of all this darkness I see some people who will not be bowed. I see some people who will not give up even when they know all hope is lost. Some people, who realize being lost is so close to being found.” It’s a sentiment that I can enjoy on a few levels, but then the dialogue goes to shit again. 

Legion is a case of something trying a little too hard without really trying at all. Which is kind of amazing.