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This is not actually true. Unless Disney has some seriously brilliant product placement going on. In any case, have you ever wondered what duct tape would be in the world of Tron? I have, in fact it keeps me up at night. Thankfully, someone has answered this question.
Bonus points for an old friend making an appearance.
I trust you’re doing well. With these hard economic times, Duct Tape is your friend!
(How to read this post: When a number (like these ➊) appears in the text, go to the corresponding number in the key at the foot of the post and follow the directions.)
As I spent a relaxing Saturday morning watching The Penguins of Madagascar and drinking a coffee ➊, I was confronted with a blast from the past ➋. Now, I have long complained that the biggest problem with The Penguins of Madagascar is that they’re shown on Nickelodeon, which means that you pretty much can’t avoid the Saturday morning advertising, which is broadcast directly from the pits of Hell ➌. Every time an ad for iCarly comes on I cower in fear in the corner of the sofa. But that was nothing compared the the truly frightening discovery that Smell-O-Vision has become a sinister reality! Remember Smell-O-Vision, also known as AromaRama, Scent-O-Vision or OdorAma? This shit used to be a joke, something generally accepted to be one of the worst ideas of all time. (Seriously, Time Magazine voted it one of the 100 Worst Ideas of All Time, which is actually impressive in a twisted way.)
So I guess it’s fitting that this terrible idea should be paired with an abysmal movie, such as Spy Kids 4. Which, the infernal broadcast informs me, is in ’4D AromaScope’. First problem: smell is not the 4th dimension. Smell is not a dimension at all. The 1950s have officially returned. Apparently they’ve improved the original idea a bit though. Instead of spraying the theater audience with noxious chemicals pumped in through the air system, you get a scratch and sniff card. So that’s an improvement over major flops like Scent of Mystery, but still not a winner, especially if Alonso Duralde’s experience is typical. “First things first: All eight scratch-and-sniff scents on the “Aroma-Scope” card I was handed at Spy Kids 4D: All the Time in the World smelled like Trix cereal and cardboard.”
Not a smash hit, apparently. But then, why would you want to smell along (what a bizarre phrase to find myself typing!) to a generic action movie like Spy Kids 4? Surely this technology would be better for a movie that involves interesting smells. Obvious choices would be movies about food. Mystic Pizza, Julie and Julia, Chocolat, Big Night. In an action movie I don’t quite see how it would add to the experience. I mean, take The Bourne Identity, a truly great action flick. When Jason’s body is pulled out of the Mediterranean by a fishing ship are you going to try to recreate the scent of a damp, dirty fishing boat on a rainy night?➍ God I hope not. Do you have any idea what that shit smells like? Let me tell you, it does not lend verisimilitude to the cinematic experience. What it adds is a god awful stench. And what about the car chase? Do they plan to pump in the smell of burning tires and an overheating Mini-Cooper engine backed up by the smell of Paris on garbage day?➎ I hope not.
I find the future confusing Puffin. Especially when it looks so much like the past.
➊ This was fair trade Chocolate roast from Fresh Market. Mix up a cup of dark roast coffee grounds with a 98% cacao Lindt bar and drink it at the dead of night in the bottom of an abandoned coal mine, and you might get close to how utterly inky black my coffee really is.
➋ The musty odor of the past can best be duplicated by finding a stuffy attic or garage and inhaling deeply. Multi dealer antique stores are also a good bet.
➌ Combine 3 parts brimstone and 2 parts sulphur in a cocktail shaker, add 3 frozen condemned souls and shake. Garnish with razor wire. Pour into a large syringe and inject the mixture up your nose. This will both accurately recreate the smell of Hell and also give you a rough idea of how I feel whenever I fail to mute an iCarly or Big Time Rush ad.
➍ 3 days old Galouise smoke, fish, foot fungus, bilge water and sweat. Usually so thick you could cut it with a knife.
➎ I would guess that it smells about like Scranton when there’s a tire fire. A smell I hope never to experience again. Route 81 right next to a burning scrap yard is not a good place to be stuck in traffic in a car without working AC.
Warning: spoilers ahead!
I know you’ll be thrilled to hear that I finally saw Hesher. Since you and I are respectively Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s #1 and #2 fangirls, I figured I should see it ASAP. Also the opportunity to see a shirtless JGL striding around to a soundtrack of pure Metallica is, as far as I’m concerned, the stuff that wet dreams are made of. Unfortunately there is somewhat less Metallica than I had been led to expect. And equally unfortunately, I’m still not sure if Hesher is a good movie or not. It’s interesting, there are moments of genuine tension, the acting is simply fantastic, and the characters are compelling. But the film doesn’t quite resolve in a way that works, and the end loses steam and devolves into something that is, at the same time, outrageous and formulaic.
It’s never really clear whether Hesher is a failure or a philosopher. He clearly has a different view on life than that of the middle class family whose grief stricken stupor he invades with such destructive glee. Unfortunately the plot is fairly formulaic. It’s unquestionably a reworking of the mysterious stranger shows middle class family what it means to really live trope, albeit a somewhat twisted one.
When you boil Hesher down it becomes apparent that this is another story about boundless grief being expressed by the breaking of boundaries. The film that did this best was Death at a Funeral, which broke every boundary, pushed every envelope, and challenged every taboo in the book. And Hesher is clearly, especially in the funeral scene, hearkening back to that trope. The family grieves in inadequate but seemly silence, while their emotional traumas fester away. And their inexpressible grief is given voice by an uncouth sociopath who violates every rule and shows up drunk to grandma’s funeral to tell it how it really was. Familiar, right? (We all know that story. In fact it’s pretty much exactly the story John Cleese satirized in his eulogy for Graham Chapman. “Anything” he said, “but mindless good taste.” )And that, for all the extreme violence, disgusting jokes and severed noses that have gone before, is exactly how Hesher ends. The raging, angry, injured, unspeakable pain of their loss is manifested in Hesher, externalized in the form of a dirty, drunk, tattooed, heavy metal enthusiast who invades their lives when they are least able to cope with him and sets up shop in the middle of their house. There are even some interesting scenes where Hesher is literally sitting between TJ and his father, like an impenetrable brick wall.
But the movie falters when you realize that the flaws which motivate the plot are mirrored in the structure of the movie as a whole, and what might be interesting as a statement about resolution becomes simply irritating when inflicted on the viewer in the form of an unresolved plot. The family is stuck in a limbo state after the tragic death of TJ’s mother, and they seem unable or unwilling to escape the slough of despond (I’ve always wanted to use that phrase!) that they find themselves in. And Hesher, an uncivilized barbarian of a man, who knows no limits and respects no boundaries, is supposed to arrive in their lives like a storm and force some sort of resolution. And he does. The arrival and antics of Hesher does serve to shake TJ and his father out of their shock.
So Hesher is an agent of resolution, but then the plot totally fails to resolve Hesher! Which is a problem, since the grief of the family has been comprehensively upstaged by the mysterious and enigmatic title character. Who the heck is Hesher? What is his deal? Is he actually insane? How the hell old is he? Actually ages are one of the biggest problems in this film and made it difficult to fully engage with the characters. How old is this kid, really?
TJ seems to be a child. He certainly shops in the children’s section. But then he’s shown in what appears to be a high school. I originally thought he was maybe 10, but I guess he’s meant to be trembling on the verge of adolescence, as they say.
And then there’s Natalie Portman as Nicole. How old is she supposed to be? Frankly she could be anywhere between 17 and 30. Is she a high school student? She say’s she can’t make rent so maybe she’s like, 27, but then what the hell is she doing hanging around with TJ? This is compounded by the awkward love that TJ develops for Nicole, which is either puppy love, adolescent lust, or a desire for a new mother figure, and the film never really decides which. Maybe it’s meant to be all at once, and to be expressive of TJ’s confusion and volatile emotions. But it just came off as befuddling.
Then there’s Hesher. Like Nicole, he hovers awkwardly and somewhat ominously between misguided youth and felonious adulthood. He drives a terrifying van, blows things up, lives completely alone, with no friends or parents. And then there he he is in the high school with TJ. Is he a fellow student? I’m unsure. I understand setting a film in Anytown USA, and Anyyear AD, in order to make a story universal. And I guess I see why you might leave the ages uncertain, since then you can’t know what’s subversive, transgressive or rebellious and what isn’t. But it’s more likely that it will lead to a confused and irritated audience losing their engagement with the story as they wonder why the unemployed, violent drifter is hanging out in a high school.
There’s a deeper problem with it too, which is that it keeps you from knowing Hesher’s level of rebellion. Is this a lifestyle choice? Has Hesher rejected society and chosen to live outside it, in abandoned houses and garages, with no job, and his penchant for arson as his only entertainment? Or is this the result of neglect? When he barges into TJ’s house is he there to act as a fucked up mentor to TJ, to take revenge on him, or is it because he really needs a place to stay because he’s a kid too. Basically, is Hesher Hesher because he chose to be, or as a reaction to abuse? I think it makes a huge difference, but the story leaves that question not only unanswered, but unasked. It isn’t necessary that we understand Hesher, arguably he’s better as an unknowable force of nature, but it’s important that we get some idea of how much of this is intentional. Hesher makes a lot more sense as a jaded adult who has checked out of the rat race than an angsty teenager.
In fact, what would be really interesting is if Hesher turned out, many years ago, to have been Brendan from Brick. Crushed at the death of his girlfriend, surrounded by a drug culture, with enemies everywhere, Brendan begins a downward spiral that ultimately leads to him becoming Hesher.
And this is where the disconnect with the movie becomes a problem. The character study of Hesher and the plot of Hesher don’t actually coexist very well. Hesher is interesting enough to be worth a whole movie on his own, and Hesher as a study in externalized grief is also pretty good. And Joseph Gordon-Levitt is versatile enough to play either of those roles, which is basically what he ends up doing anyway, and it’s a tribute to his amazing abilities that he comes so close to pulling it off. Either of those movies could have been good. But unfortunately Hesher the enigmatic psycho completely upstaged Hesher the movie, and the two got confused.
So in the end I don’t really know what to make of Hesher. I wanted to see it initially because it combined two of my favorite things- nearly naked Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Metallica. And I’m not sure what I got instead. Some seriously amazing acting, that’s for sure, and whole bunch of production stills of JGL looking like this:
So it’s not all bad. I think Natalie agrees with me. She and I are both thinking the same thing. “I never thought that Tommy from 3rd Rock from the Sun could ever in a million years grown up to look like that.” I really wish my 17 year old self could see this.
I hope you get to see it sometime soon Torte. The acting alone is worth it. Heck, JGL’s unexpected pecs alone are worth it.
I hope everyone has seen this wonderful video of New Jersey governor Chris Christie defending his appointment of Sohail Mohammed to the Superior Court of Passiac County.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m thrilled to see someone like Christie speaking out about this bullshit Sharia hysteria. And I think Sohail Hohammed sounds like a perfectly lovely judge and I’m sure he will be a great benefit to the legal community in the state of New Jersey.
But there is something in the reporting of this case that freaks me out, and it is this: everyone, Christie included, keeps reminding us that the Muslims Mohammed defended after 9/11 weren’t terrorists. They were the wrongly arrested ones who were proved innocent and it was totes all a big mistake, guys. Jeffrey Goldberg put it this way:
Sohail Mohammed represented, while in private practice, Muslims who had been detained by the FBI after the Sept. 11 attacks. None of the men was ever charged with anything related to terrorism.
Here’s the thing for me: I don’t give a highly colored damn whether they were guilty or innocent because everyone gets a defense lawyer in this country. EVERYONE. Even the guilty ones. I don’t care if Sohail Mohammed represented and defended terrorists, because he is a lawyer and that is his job, and they had a right to his services. Timothy McVeigh got a defense lawyer. Jeffrey Dahmer got a defense lawyer. And what is more, they had a constitutional right to a defense lawyer, and they had the right to demand that that lawyer do his very best to defend them. As a prominent litigator in the great state of New Jersey I expect Sohail Mohammed to defend his clients well, and to bring all his expertise to the defense of any person, guilty or innocent, that he is asked to represent. Everyone gets a defense lawyer, in order to ensure that no one is ever convicted without the prosecution fully and completely proving their case beyond a reasonable doubt, even in cases that seem open and shut. It is better for Casey Antony to go free than for us to corrupt the presumption of innocence and the burden of proof in order to convict her.
I am really uncomfortable with the underlying assumption that this is all ok because the people he defended weren’t terrorists after all. Note that the Goldberg quote “while in private practice” serves to neatly remind everyone that he wasn’t defending them on behalf of the government. It was something he did in his private practice which is his business and not official at all.
Basically what this is saying to me is that Sohail Mohammed would have been considered unfit for this appointment if those men he defended actually had been terrorists. And that is WRONG. This sets a seriously scary precedent, as far as I can see. If the media has gotten so out of control that defending a guilty party can jeopardize a public servant’s career to this degree, then I think we have a serious problem. Because you know what will happen? No lawyer will risk themselves to defend accused terrorists and you know what will happen then? Terrorists won’t get fair trials. And that actually WILL destroy America, more effectively than any bomb.
I can’t really think of anything clever to say about these figurines by Jessica Harrison, aside from the fact that they are awesome and I want one.
Finally, you wanna see something really macabre? Try a cuppa from the Hitler teapot. What is this I don’t even…..
OK, in mitigation, this is part of a series called Delft Disasterware by artist Charles Krafft. I’m going to go collapse on my fainting couch until the memory of the Hitler teapot has left me for good.
Other posts categorized as Art:
No doubt you’ve followed the tragedy in Norway closely. There’s a group working on decrypting the killer’s manifesto, “a rambling manifesto that at times rails at “cultural Marxists” and “multiculturalism”. I have not read the 1500 page ranting myself, but I do suspect it would be worthwhile to do so.
There isn’t much information on the group itself, it seems to be nothing more than a collection of amateur cryptologists. Great work has been done by such people in the past, actually.
Some points of interest from their Website:
- after some analysis, it has been discovered that the first segment contains information which can be easily converted into geographical coordinates (which coordinate system is not known)
- when plotted on a map in the most obvious way, these coordinates/points correspond with major european cities (see graphical map at http://u.no.net/4fi )
- some of these cities are represented with more than one coordinate/point (ex: oslo, stockholm, london, paris)
- the coordinates are precise down to street level, resolution is limited by an uncertainty of approximately 111 (n-s) x 55.5 (e-w) meters
I don’t know how much of this time is fruitful. I think that in the face of any tragedy, most of us just spend time trying to figure out how something that can happen. We have an innate need to rationalize the world.
However, I don’t necessarily believe that this is not time well spent. So far, I’ve seen nothing which points fingers at shadowy government organizations (I’m looking at you, Loose Change). It seems more likely that these people are running on the assumption that Breivik was trying to communicate something more.