Category: Culture

Over-analyzing the rap game: Kendrick Lamar is a Kardashian

From: Goodreads.com

From: Goodreads.com

If you’ve been on social media recently you will have noticed that the rap world is in Game of Thrones level turmoil. Headlines abound. Kendrick Lamar blasts other rappers. Kendrick Lamar scorches other rappers. Kendrick Lamar hostile verb other rappers. In his new freshly leaked song* (*meaning “released by Kendrick Lamar’s people at a pre-established time”), Kendrick Lamar spends a great deal of time “calling out” other big name rappers and declaring himself – in no uncertain terms – the King of both the East Coast and the West Coast (why it took so long for rappers to discover manifest destiny is beyond the scope of this article).

I heard the barbershops be in great debates all the time
Bout who’s the best MC? Kendrick, Jigga and Nas
Eminem, Andre 3000, the rest of y’all
New niggas just new niggas, don’t get involved
I’m usually homeboys with the same niggas I’m rhymin’ wit
But this is hip hop and them niggas should know what time it is
And that goes for Jermaine Cole, Big KRIT, Wale
Pusha T, Meek Millz, A$AP Rocky, Drake
Big Sean, Jay Electron’, Tyler, Mac Miller
I got love for you all but I’m tryna murder you niggas
Tryna make sure your core fans never heard of you niggas
They dont wanna hear not one more noun or verb from you niggas
What is competition? I’m tryna raise the bar high
Who tryna jump and get it? You better off tryna skydive
Out the exit window of 5 G5’s with 5 grand
With your granddad as the pilot he drunk as fuck tryna land
With the hand full of arthritis and popping prosthetic leg
Bumpin Pac in the cockpit so the shit that pops in his head
Is an option of violence, someone heard the stewardess said
That your parachute is a latex condom hooked to a dread

Rap fans ate it up.

That was the point.

You know what else was exactly the point? What happened next. What happened next was this: The rappers who were (and weren’t) named spent the day responding to Kendrick Lamar in kind. More headlines came in, more page views were achieved, more hashtags were made trending.

Kendrick Lamar could be a great Kardashian

Kendrick Lamar could be a great Kardashian

Obviously the rappers eviscerated in the song played their part (they knew the role well) and responded with come backs, drama and vows to get lyrical on his ass. Secretly, they were probably giddy. The only thing that can make someone swallow their ego is the prospect of making big money to do so. That’s what this latest spat of drama means. Dollars all around. Stoke the fires of manufactured drama and the public will pay for the privilege of being along for the ride, such is our addiction to intrigue.

Big K.R.I.T. (one of the rappers named) said it best:

Gladiator shit not in its combative sense, but in its sense of spectacle. Rap has always walked a very different path then that of other genres of music. Calling people out, creating drama and sadly, even actual violence, are all part of its legacy. It’s like a less regulated pro wrestling saga, where age old feuds and convoluted backstories (complete with betrayals, sacrifices and shaky alliances) play out in the public eye and raise the stakes of the music. Tupac and Biggie engineered such a masterful publicity feud that it still plays out daily for their legions of fans who have not forgotten (it also ended, sadly, with both promising rappers dead).

This is all so reality TV. Real Housewives of Compton called by any other name would seem as shamelessly self indulgent. This is no different than what Keeping up with the Kardashians does so well, and like a reality producer who knows when the drama is in need of a boost, Kendrick Lamar recognized that the rap game needed someone to rake the coals.

What this means in terms of money can only be positive. Loyal fans in both camps will feel it is their duty to vote with their wallets. It’s the only way, aside from ineffectually dissing one another on Youtube videos, that they can support “their guys”. Us vs Them is a helluva drug and one that leads to a vested interest in winning something. The feud is amplified further by social media algorithms that act as a feedback loop as more and more people see trending topics about Kendrick Lamar and chime in, making the topics trend even stronger.

Whether or not Kendrick Lamar is lyrically King of the rap game is of little consequence, he’s certainly the King of playing the rap game.

How true to life is the movie version of “The Conjuring”

The-Conjuring

This weekend, I took time out of my busy schedule of channel surfing and checking twitter to watch “The Conjuring”, the latest in a string of “based on true events” exorcism movies that have been coming to theaters near you (or RIGHT BEHIND YOU AHHH) for years now. I suspended my disbelief and enjoyed the movie for its creepiness, inventiveness and downright cinematographic artistry (yeah, it really does have some beautifully shot sequences). I really liked this movie, but I also didn’t know much about the story behind it before sitting in that darkened theater.

The film tells the story of a family, the Perrons, who arrive at their freshly purchased house (they got it cheap at an auction…DUN DUN DUN). The family, a loving husband and wife and five daughters including an impressionable little girl and an angsty teen because every family needs one of each. Almost immediately it becomes clear that all is not well at this house. I actually admire the way the story doesn’t slip into a “what was that? Ah, probably just the wind.” cliche that makes audiences pull their hair out as they watch the family confront the obvious and miss it time and time again. In this movie, all pretense that this house is just eerie and not definitely haunted is gone in about a day. After that, it almost shifts entirely to a fight for survival because, even after consulting the paranormal fighting duo we learn is the Warrens, it’s clear that this house has it out for the family. The movie itself is remarkably unoriginal and yet somehow doesn’t feel that way. The scares are straightforward and obvious but you still find yourself jumping when the inevitable “AHHH” moment happens. I also give credit to a few of the sequences that are just plain fun for an audience. In one scene, a girl is convinced that a ghost is lurking just beyond the shadows as her sister stands in front. Nothing happens for a long time, but as the young girl’s terror mounts, our eyes scan frantically around the shadow darkened room trying to catch a glimpse of something, anything, that could confirm our suspicion that something sinister is in that room with those two girls. It’s great fun and the payoff is amplified by making us do our own work.

After I got home, curious to see what “really happened”, I tried to do some research on the real ghost hunters: Ed and Lorraine Warren (made famous for investigating – or inventing – the Amnityville haunting). Ed and Lorraine Warren are a husband and wife team of paranormal investigators who started a private practice of sorts of going into creepy, wooden houses and explaining what was going bump in the night. They’re Catholic so, spoilers, it was usually satanic demons. As a story concept, I love the Warrens. A husband and wife team, hunting demons, he a demonologist, she a clairvoyant. That could totally be a movie… and in “The Conjuring” it finally is. While Ed has passed away, Lorraine is still alive and consulting on various paranormal investigations and/or publicity stunts, including “Paranormal State” the eye roll inducing paranormal investigation show where guys standing around in the dark with night vision goggles taping themselves freaking themselves out and calling it “science”.

Unfortunately for MY paranormal investigating into the truth behind “The Conjuring”, the details are hard to come by. That is because, like I mentioned earlier, the film has so thoroughly marketed itself around this story that the ACTUAL story is hard to find. Goggling “true story of The Conjuring” gets you about a hundred links that mainly talk about the movie and the spooky stuff that happens in it. Apparently, most people are under the impression that this was a documentary (hint: it’s not even close). Even the articles that talk about the actual crime frame it in such a way that it reads as if an intern for New Line Cinema wrote it. Look for lines like: “While all the creepy events that happened in the farmhouse can’t be shown in a two hour movie, the filmmakers were able to give an accurate portrayal by condensing and streamlining the haunting.” Thanks for nothing.

Also, one of the daughters who experienced the events in the farmhouse, Andrea Perron, self published a book about it which, instead of illuminating the facts, makes them more dubious. If you’re keeping score, we now have three parties (The Warrens, Andrea Perron, and the filmmakers) who all have financial and reputational stakes in this thing appearing real and terrifying. As a cynical stick in the mud, that doesn’t give me much confidence in the treatment of the source material.

Further stifling an honest look into the haunting is the premise that the Warren’s put forward (and the movie’s advertising exploited) that this haunting was simply too traumatic or too scary for it to be talked about for 30 years. Yeah, right. But because of that, little has been researched or written about this particular “case”. The Amnityville haunting gets much of the attention – having already been made into a famous horror movie – so even the Warren’s wikipedia page does not include a mention of “The Conjuring” case.

Finally, I found a website that at least had a few facts about the actual case, and how they were expressed in the movie. Over at Chasingthefrog.com, an article was devoted to filling in these blanks. While the article still does little to shine a hard light on the events it does contrast the two stories: The one that was told in 1971 and the one being portrayed in the movie. For example, in the movie there is a doll named “Annabelle” which becomes possessed by an evil entity and whose role extends beyond the separate case and into the actual Perron one (I guess demons help each other out, their satanic entities not monsters!). In real life, that case was a separate one entirely and never the two did meet. (Again as a cynical stick in the mud, I can’t help but think that this doll and the role it plays in the film is more about stoking the ego of Lorraine Warren by personally injecting her and her family into the drama where they would normally only play a supportive role. Whether this was done by the Warrens themselves or by the filmmakers trying to spice up the later act of the movie I was never able to uncover although I will update this article should I come across an answer.)

Another example, and this one is probably the most telling in terms of how a movie can dramatize a nebulous conjecture, is the entire premise of the haunting. If you haven’t seen the movie, this next portion contains some spoilers.

In the film, the Warren’s pinpoint a witch, named Bathsheba Sherman for some reason known only to her parents, from the 1800s who lived on the farm that the Perron family now resides. It appears she was caught sacrificing a young child to Satan (because why not?) and eventually hung herself from a tree in the backyard of the property. This lady or demon or ghost or whatever now possesses the house as if possessing a person (because if you’re a self professed clairvoyant, you can say things like that with a straight face and no one can really disprove it) and it attaches itself to the humans that enter it. It is this demon that must be exorcised by Ed Warren at the climax and it’s really suspenseful in the movie and… well, almost entirely made up by Ed and Lorraine Warren in a reach so far that it trespasses into Miss Cleo territory.

miss cleo

Please don’t call Miss Cleo now.

In real life, Bathsheba really did exist. Unfortunately, she never sacrificed a child to Satan. Instead a child died in her care, and the townspeople assumed it was from some sort of sacrifice because in the 1800s “townspeople” were idiots and literally stopped going to school after 5th grade to work on farms. She was even acquitted for the crime in a trial. She then lived well into her 70s and metaphorically hung herself by dying of an age related illness. But those creaks in the floorboards at the farmhouse (which, by the way, wasn’t even where she lived but next to it) are definitely Bathsheba’s ghost, guys.

Pictured: Bathsheba as imagined by Ed Warren

Pictured: Bathsheba as imagined by Ed Warren

So, sadly, unlike the movie the real events at the Perron’s house was much less overt and much more “drafts” and creaks. Ironically, the obligatory “skeptic” in the movie, a police office who for some reason needs to accompany the Warrens on their investigation, gets made fun of throughout for his laughable belief that what was happening could be the work of air flow and a house shifting under its weight. If anyone should be vindicated for what happened there it was this (fictional) guy. Good on him for holding out for a rational explanation while everyone else played a figurative game of “bloody mary”. Maybe while the rest of the group panicked and stoked conjecture, he had the sense to look up who the supposed witch was. Armed with that knowledge, I bet he could exorcise the demon more thoroughly than any Catholic ritual, and all he’d need was some WD-40.

Not in my back yarn! Episode 3: Remember “Remember the Titans”?

In this episode of Not in my back yarn! We have a very special guest in the form of our good friend Dan LaBrecque. We talk movies. What makes a movie memorable? What are the things that keep us coming back to a particular film again and again. How is water cooler talk important? We tackle these questions and more (including “what happened to M. Night Shyamalan and what did we do to deserve it?”). Check it out! More to come soon, listeners.

Warning: Because of the nature of this podcast, quite a few films will be spoiled during the discussion. Although you should have seen them already, be careful if you still don’t know the endings to:
Children of Men, Man from Earth, The Shining, Man of Steel, World War Z, Horsemen, and some ridiculous movie called “Happy Birthday to me”.

happybirthdaytomedvd

Feel Good Story: the ASL interpreter at Bonnaroo

Even though I try to be aware of challenges people different from myself experience (even “checking my privilege” here and there), it is to my great shame that I had never really given deaf people’s interaction with music much thought. If I thought of it at all, I probably assumed that there wasn’t much, that it was an experience wholly unknowable to a person who couldn’t hear. That misinterpretation was blasted away at extreme decibel levels last week when a video from the Bonnaroo music festival surfaced showing a American Sign Language interpreter KILLING IT along with the Wu-Tang Clan. Take a look:

What’s more embarrassing about my ignorance is how obvious it is that deaf people can still enjoy many forms of music. Duh. First, many of the deaf can still feel beats, giving them an experience of the tempo, rhythm and force of a song. Second, music (especially rap music) is often more about the lyrics behind a song than the notes played with it. A well written line can be just as powerful to a person reading it rather than hearing it (I should know, I have about a million books that testify to this). So it should be a given that musicians have hearing impaired fans too. Again: Duh.

Holly Maniatty signs at a Phish concert.

Holly Maniatty (source: Slate.com)

After watching the video I looked up the woman behind the assume dance moves and ridiculously smooth signs. Her name is Holly Maniatty, a professional ASL interpreter who has made somewhat of a name for herself as being one of the best concert and festival interpreters around. And for good reason. The amount of time and effort she puts into researching an upcoming show is nothing short of awe inspiring. According to her own estimates, she spends around 50 to 100 hours researching the entire catalog of work of whatever musician she is working with. Along with that, she has to study the movements and style of each artists as well and tries her best to mimic it for the benefit of those watching her when not watching the artist him or her self. She describes it best here:

“[Eminem] has a very specific body cadence,” she said, “and if you’re able to mimic that, it almost looks like you are him. Jay-Z’s got a big boisterous chest-out way to rap sometimes. So you have to watch the different performers and watch how they move the body because the more genuine you are to their way of presenting themselves as an artist, the more equal of an experience the deaf person is going to have.”

While ASL at concerts and festivals is on the rise, I’m guessing the people don’t pay her anywhere near enough to deserve the kind of professionalism and energy she brings. But I’m glad she does it anyway. She represents a world I want to live in. It’s not enough to accommodate people who aren’t “like us”, they deserve more. We need to change the conceptualization of disabilities to one where they aren’t considered a separate group but instead that their needs are just another challenge that needs to be met when organizing events. We can do it, we just have to try and Holly Maniatty tries. Clearly talented, she is bringing concerts to people who for a long time were left out, not because of their own limitations but because, like me, the concert organizers didn’t stop to think or didn’t bother to ask the hearing impaired whether they wanted in. The organization that Holly works for is called Everyone’s Invited, and it seems like they are ensuring that everyone is. Duh.

Meet World War Z: The summer movie that will do well and still bomb

brad-pitt-world-war-z

“Brains”, traditionally what zombies hunger for, are apparently what the filmmakers of Brad Pitt’s latest movie World War Z lack. A movie based off of the ingenious and titillating book by Max Brooks seemed too good not to bring to the big screen, and when Brad Pitt and his fledgling production company “Plan B” acquired the rights to the source material it probably seemed like a sure thing. *Cue lightning and thunder sound effect*

Unfortunately, things quickly spiraled out of control from there. From expensive (and disappointing) rewrites to the script – including some that were made after scenes had been shot that then had to be reshot – to highly publicized fights between lead actor Brad Pitt and Director Marc Forster, this film seemed doomed to fail.

And yet…

Despite it’s reported 400 million dollar budget (far and away the most expensive movie ever made), and it’s on set drama, and it’s troublesome script rewrites, there still seems to be something interesting about the movie. I still really want to see it. It will also probably do respectable numbers at the domestic box office, although that isn’t great considering the cost of the film.

In a trailer that doesn’t really give us a lot of plot to go off of, there still seems to be enough life in the film to drive audiences to the theater seats. In particular, the scene in the airplane has an intensity factor of 10 and could be one of those memorable scenes that you can’t wait to talk about after you leave. These highlights make World War Z a conundrum. At times the film looks formulaic and color by numbers, at others it appears to aspire to something more. The original script drew comparisons to Contagion which may have turned off the masses (and would not be a good idea sinking $400 million into), but would have made me climb over the movie theater lines to see it first.

horde big fix lower copy

Me (400th from left), in line for “World War Z”

I was a big fan of Contagion, and a movie that mixes zombies and geopolitics would be a supreme delight. Unfortunately, that script (I encourage you to read this summary of the unpublished original World War Z script because it does sound just fantastic) was scrapped for a lighter, more extravagant affair that appears to be more action and less depth. Too bad for me, and with a movie that was well over budget already its possible that the powers that be were just being pragmatic, but allow me to play the devil’s advocate.

Risking $400 million on a movie in the already crowded zombie genre (a genre that some are already saying is…uh…dead), seems like a bad idea, and if this watered down version is what we get for that hefty price tag that would be a shame. Talking down to audiences is always a mixed bag. For every Transformers 3 (which did remarkably well for being remarkably bad), there is a Catwoman (which did about as much talking down as could occur and imploded for its troubles). What I wish they had done was instead gone all in. Make the film they had wanted to make, with all of its emotional depth and human drama and just let the film speak for itself. If the movie was good enough, the audience would come. What they didn’t want to do was exactly what they did. By compromising the story for the sake of salvaging some bucks, they may have cost the movie its ”raison d’être”, the reason for it existing in the first place.

My only hope is that inside this lumbering, decaying, primal story is enough of the former goodness and humanity of the original script that those elements shine through despite the outer ugliness. If not, then we are doomed, not to the extinction of humanity, but to another bloated, meaningless summer spectacle film with no heart and that may be the more tragic of the two.

Not in my back yarn! Episode One

Tonight, I am unveiling the first episode of a weekly podcast co-hosted by friend and fellow countryman Mason about storytelling in pop culture.

This episode focuses on consistency of character in stories and quickly spirals into a rant about just how bad the new movie “The Purge” is at doing that. If you care, be warned, there are brief spoilers ahead.

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Shout out to our sponsor, Subway! Subway, live hard, eat fresh. That’s Subway, with an “S”.

An open letter to M. Night Shyamalan from someone who hasn’t (quite) given up on him

m_night_shyamalan

Hi M, it’s me again. You know, one of your old fans from the glory days of Unbreakable and The Sixth Sense. Remember those days? Man, we were all so young and naive weren’t we? Remember Y2K? LOL.

Anyway, I’ve heard you had kind of a rough week. At the box office, your new movie, After Earth, lost to Now You See Me (a movie about magicians) and Fast and Furious 6 (a movie about sentient piles of meat that race cars). Coming off of The Last Airbender, the sharks are circling and whispers of your career being over are now heard from many corners of the Internet. Sorry, M.

No doubt you are worried about your future as a director of Hollywood films. I don’t blame you. But I’m here to tell you that, for your own good, I hope you get banned from making big budget movies. Let’s face it, you are awful at it. You are NOT the next Spielberg.

MNightspielberg

Petition to fire Jeff Giles

You aren’t even the next Michael Bay. At least his movies suck and still make money. You are box office poison. Embrace that. I know it may feel like getting banned from soaring budgets and A list stars is a step back in your career but the alternative is much worse. You will forever be relegated to begging for projects, lampooned in the media, and judged before you shoot a single scene. Again, I can’t stress this enough, You. Are. Box. Office. Poison.

Don’t worry though, there is a way to be great again. And, like a character in one of your movies (probably a bad one like Lady in the Water), you just need to discover that the answer was in you all along.

You should wake up every morning, stumble groggily to the bathroom mirror and say “I’m the guy who wrote and directed Unbreakable and that movie was incredible.” Forget the last decade even happened. Declare a do over. Prove to the audience and the media that you can make movie magic again. And I think you can.

Let’s remind ourselves of what made you stand out in the first place.

By now, your name has become synonymous with “twist ending”, but that didn’t start after The Sixth Sense. It started much later, and retroactively applied to that movie because it was the best example of the “twist” working well. But after The Sixth Sense, you made Unbreakable. A movie that has plenty of twists and turns but they never seemed to come out of nowhere and give you that “WHAAAATTTT?” experience. Instead, you wrote a quiet, subtle film about a relationship between three people (Bruce Willis, his wife and son) that had been quietly, subtly drifting apart because of unspoken failed dreams and enshrouded it in a fantastic conceit. That is a damn good movie and you wrote that thing.

It seems like you’ve forgotten that your old approach to movies was that concept shouldn’t get in the way of character. You used concept to explore character. And that’s the makings of a great movie. Even better, your concepts are always super interesting. Even the critically eviscerated The Happening had a concept that was actually pretty interesting: After thousands of years of abuse, nature “fights back”. But the concept didn’t have anything structure to build on and the characters consisted of watching two attractive people running a lot and occasionally whining. That isn’t a movie. Somebody should have stopped you half way through your first draft of the script and informed you that you can’t make a movie where the villain is the wind.

Mark Wahlberg, Zooey Deschanel The Happening movie image

“It’s out there somewhere. Watching us. Waiting to blow gently on our faces.”

It’s popular these days to dismiss The Sixth Sense as “another Shyamalan movie”, but it shouldn’t be. It’s a victim of all your later failures. When The Sixth Sense came out, it blew peoples minds. The concept was interesting, the characters were motivated by multidimensional problems, and it was memorable in every sense (even the sixth). If you’ve ever seen a person walking by with a “I see dead people” shirt on, that’s because that line worked. In the film, Haley Joel Osment nails it and the simplicity of it sends shivers down your spine. Later, as the story reveals itself, the line becomes even more important. Outside of the movie, it was a cultural sensation. It was parodied, endlessly quoted and marketed to death. But that’s because it resonated with people.

Lately, your movies have been soulless and it shows. You’ve lost touch, M. While not all of your smaller budget movies (e.g. Lady in the Water) were hits, they at least had a spark of something in them. After Earth has been described as “devoid of emotion” which is a crime because your movies, at their best, were always about emotion. An attempt to get at that feeling behind our lives. I think you need to take a few years off, possibly lose all your money in a Ponzi scheme, disconnect your phone and delete your Hollywood contacts and just write a film that a young M. Night Shyamalan would want to make. You can probably even harvest the emotional depths of rejection and failure that you’ve experienced in your own career. Place the bad reviews, the poor sales, and mockery around you in your little writing room and swing away, M.

Arrested Development is a victim and it’s all YOUR fault

arrested-development

Well, I hope you’re happy. You begged and begged. You signed petitions. You wrote emails. You created “buzz” from the ground up. Finally, you got your wish and the powers that be greenlit an Arrested Development season four. Only now it would be released in full on Netflix instant. I bet you were so happy, weren’t you? You probably posted immediately about it to Facebook. You probably didn’t even bother checking your newsfeed to see that 50 of your friends had already beaten you to the punch. It’s not your fault. You were distracted by which clever “inside joke” to use. You decided on Mr. Manager. Yeah, Mr. Manager was pretty funny.

Time seemed to stand still. You would sit there staring at the clock ticking away and it was unbearable to think you still had five months to go before the new season came out. You couldn’t take it! Ugh. You tweeted that exact thing – “I can’t take it! Ugh.” – and all of your friends knew what you meant. You got a ton of retweets.

You poked and prodded. “Did you hear, they’re making a new season of ‘Arrested Development’?” You asked co-workers, cashiers, strangers. “What?!” You’d scream when they said they hadn’t seen the show. You’d make it sound like you were offended, but secretly, you were delighted. You lived for this. Missionaries landing in the New World for the first time must have felt the same way. Finally, some potential converts.

Around a month ago, you noticed a change. Everyone was talking about the new season. Twitter could barely handle the load. All of your favorite blogs were buzzing. Even cable television (yuck!) had promos for it which was weird, like a radio ad for Pandora. Orange was everywhere. So was Jason Bateman. You almost forgot to call off work for the release day and tweeted about it. It got a ton of retweets.

Here’s the debate. Do you “live tweet” it at midnight or should you wait to blog about it after a few episodes? What would Walter Cronkite do? Didn’t journalists back then always carry around a notepad? That was like livetweeting, right? You decide to livetweet. Let the bloggers get scooped.

You read somewhere that the premiere would account for roughly 5% of Netflix’s total bandwidth. This was bigger than the moon landing. You felt ready. All day you had prepared. If the power went out during the show you would kill yourself. You tweeted that. No retweets. They’re probably all getting ready for the premiere.

It begins and it’s all there. The whole gang. The music. The familiar atmosphere of a night spent with the Bluths. But then a joke doesn’t hit. You begin to wonder what happened. You tweet. Your facebook is refreshing increasingly pessimistic views on the season. Someone you went to high school with writes “This new Arrested Development blows”. You are worried he’s right. You tweet that you didn’t like the first episode and a few of your friends favorite it.

You want the old show back. That’s all you ever wanted. You want to be seven years younger, sitting alone in your studio apartment relishing every witty inside joke. Now it just seems like some show. You want it the way it was. Jason Bateman seems a lot more tired. Everyone seems slightly less fresh faced. This isn’t what you signed up for. Not to mention, you can’t figure out any of the inside jokes. They are all so new. Where are the old ones? You begin to worry that maybe you aren’t an Arrested Development expert any more. Now you’re just watching the show like everybody else. You’ve lost the ability to identify potential converts. They’ve all seen the episodes by now. They are just like you, and even worse, you’re just like them.

What were you thinking? Did you expect this to live up to your nostalgia laced fever dream? That’s a laugh. It was never going to. Even worse, the show was out of your control from the second it got picked up. The writers could do whatever they wanted with it and you’d just have to sit here and watch it. It would never be as safe as those first three seasons sitting comfortably in a box set in your TV stand. It was going to make things different.

It might even take time to fully grasp the show. What if it takes seven years? What if you aren’t able to livetweet? How are you supposed to consume this? There’s no manual on how to digest a show that isn’t meant to pass through you in seconds. You’re used to television that passes from eyes to finger tips as fast as the nerve impulses will allow. Now, you feel full after a half hour. You feel bloated and tired. You begin to wonder why you ordered this at all. You didn’t even want this. It was too much, you weren’t ready. Or maybe you were past ready.

The curious incident of Tim Curry in the May time

tim curry

On May 23rd, the world was saddened to learn that Tim Curry had apparently suffered a massive stroke in his California home. While the rumor mill churned out low information, high speculation nuggets like “he can no longer talk” or “he might not live”, people close to him, specifically his agent, Marcia Hurwitz, said:

Tim is doing great. He absolutely can speak and is recovering at this time and in great humor.

But still, things must be pretty bad for the guy and well wishes started pouring in from social media. Rightfully so. Tim Curry is an incredible actor and has probably had a bigger influence on pop culture than many people realize. In fact, I – what’s that? Wait, Marcia Hurwitz has a bit more to say:

The stroke actually occurred “last July,” she told USA Today. “He has been going to physical therapy, doing very well and in great humor,” she added. “He thanks everyone for sending him good wishes.”

Last July?!? For those reading this in “the future” (how are hoverboards?), “last July” means July, 2012…like pretty much a year ago. So much for breaking news. But in this case, no breaking news is good news because it appears Tim Curry isn’t clinging to life the way everyone seemed to think (and many websites haven’t corrected).

Even so, this is as good a time as any to list a few of the ways Tim Curry is incredible:

Rocky Horror Picture Show

Rocky Horror Picture Show is hands down my favorite musical. It is one of a kind and so unapologetically odd that I’m hopelessly drawn to it (I’ve written before about how I’m drawn to odd things, expect it to be a reoccurring theme). Tim Curry as Dr. Frank N. Furter is a HUGE part of my love for this movie. “Sweet Transvestite” should be required singing in our nation’s elementary school music classes (what?).

You’re welcome.

Clue

Clue is one of the best comedies in existence and I’ll fight anyone who says other wise. The dialogue is clever, the story is clever, but more importantly the way the story is told (like the board game is played) is really clever. It’s a testimony to the fact that a storyless board game needn’t be a storyless movie (I’m looking at you, “Battleship”). This embedded clip is a huge spoiler so if you haven’t seen Clue watch the movie, dummy!

Muppet Treasure Island

It’s my favorite Muppet movie (and I liked all of them). Another musical but with less fishnet stockings, Muppet Treasure Island was a childhood staple of mine and even now it’s hard to pass up when it’s on TV.

Literally every great cartoon you’ve ever seen

ahh real monsters

captain planet

gargoylesgroup

Hey_Arnold_logo

Thornberry

So it’s clear that Tim Curry has given us some of our favorite childhood memories and it’s criminal that he isn’t more of a household name. I’m relieved to see that he still has several projects in the works according to his IMDB page, so he isn’t done with us yet. I’m also glad he appears to be doing well and hope he continues to get better. That would be smashing.

Oh and sorry about this:

it clown

Yep, he was the clown from It. (source: hotteahotbooks.wordpress.com)