Friday, December 07, 2007

Remember Pearl Harbor

It still matters.

Further In Sickness

I've been curious to see how my body would adapt to its first winter in five years, and this week I got the answer: It will sacrifice the lymph nodes.

Those of you who have read my book (don't tell me if you haven't; I'll just feel rejected and you'll just feel guilty) are aware of my titanic battle with a tonsil abscess. A lymph node infection kind of feels like that, only slightly less like total upper-respiratory Armageddon. On the plus side, according to the medical link up there at the top of the post, swollen lymph nodes can also indicate genital herpes and the plague, so I've got that going for me. For the time I am content to have nearly passed out in the emergency clinic after a blood draw, although it involved hanging up on Josh The Pilot with the announcement, "I need to go now. I'm fainting."

So my most excellent husband magnanimously offered to stay home from work and care for me, which so far has involved laying next to me while eating a Rice Krispie treat, and also trekking to the grocery for chicken noodle soup, which I asked for due to the fact that it requires a great deal of courage to swallow at the moment.

Josh The Pilot returned much flummoxed, declaring that he was not aware soup was so complicated, and handed me a can of Campell's Chunky Homestyle, which is precisely what a person who cannot swallow pines for-- large bits of carrots and chicken. So as I type this, he is manually de-chunking the soup, which, while tedious, is probably far preferable to dealing with my last major illness, the Dreaded Both-Ends NoroVirus. I am sure my sister's duck-shaped bathmat agrees.

Mary Beth Ellis and the Nodes of Lymph at:

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

"Boring Conversation Anyway."

We have achieved the perfect geek storm for Christmas: The next Rifftrax will be The Star Wars Holiday Special.

This steaming pile aired when I was all of a year old, so I don't remember much of it except for all the weeping and rioting that followed. But I have seen it, thanks to eBay, and now it shall be tied to MSTiedom, forever. The Internet: The gift that just won't stop regurgitating the worst possible crap our society can create.

No, The Holiday Special is not commercially available, and blessedly so. It's perhaps the only Star Wars-related product George Lucas hasn't released, possibly only because the residual traces from the enormous amounts of cocaine that clearly powered this thing could be classified as a WMD. How bad is it? Even Lucas-- even Lucas, the man who served you "I hate sand" on a platter of CGI platinum-- once admitted, "That's one of those things that happened, and I just have to live with it." To my knowledge, there's no mention of it on the official Star Wars website, and, as we all know, if George doesn't like something, it never existed to begin with.

Well, George, you can't CGI-purge and redub a bootleg. The special introduces us to Chewbacca's family, which, if I recall correctly, involves Chewy's son, Lumpy, and his father, Itchy, because apparently Wookies only name their children after current skin conditions and cookie descriptors.

I can't wait.

now knowing what to get a Wookie for Christmas when he already owns a comb at:

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Man's Work

Upon viewing Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer as a married thirty-year-old lady, one notices stuff that one did not notice the first twenty-nine times around. Rudoph and Pac-Man were my first true loves (dissect and shudder over that as you will) but, having moved on to 1) human beings 2) who actually exist, I am now able to watch Rudolph as a fully actualized person might.

I said might.

The Rudolph Realizations

1) Donner: Not A Reindeer I'd Necessarily Hang Out With, But I Sort Of Get Him Now

I'm surprised CBS still shows this thing unedited, given its outstanding contribution to gender equality issues. Which makes it, somehow, wonderfully refreshing. Every time Donner says "No! This is man's work!" as he stomps out of the cave, I shake my head over the fact that he still has a job when he comes back. You try that today, you'll have a picket line the size of China by noon and every blogger in America tip-tapping furiously away: "I must admit I was shocked today when Drudge reported Mr. Donner's comments. Here's the link. This is unacceptable, and I..."

But I can see, psychologically, where he's coming from. Given the fact that Santa Claus completely emasculated him about ten minutes prior by being all, "Donner! You should be ashamed of yourself! Your sperm produced a mutant! YOU AND YOUR SPERM SUCK, ALL OF YOU!" in front of everybody, he needed to reclaim his reindeer sack, his very manhood. Therefore, he lashes out at the Missus in a self-defensive patriarchal manner. You see, folks, all negative behavior stems from pain, and so I ask you, on behalf of Donner-- don't hate. Appreciate.

2) The People of Christmas Town Were Really Kind of Emotionally Stunted

It is no wonder that Donner has trouble expressing himself in a more constructive manner; poor communication has been modeled for him his entire life. He and his wife are so shut-down they just kind of stand around cowering while the Abominable Snow Monster prepares to eat their son. People, I once saw Jim The Small Child Nephew go careening down a driveway in the direction of street traffic at approximately 400 MPH in a wagon, and I, quite the least athletically talented person I have ever met, hurled aside a wine cart and covered about ten yards in .00000000001 seconds to catch him before he hit the curb. And that's just aunt instinct. You're telling me proper parents wouldn't be butting the living crap out of that thing?

We've been over Donner's issues; what concerns me here is his wife, whom, you'll notice, does not have a name of her own. She exists merely as "Mrs. Donner," as an extension of her husband. Her non-personage (non-deerage, if you will) expresses itself in her perceived inability to help her child.

That, or she's just a raging *&^#%.

Finally, consider the following narration from Sam the Snowman:

"Well, they are all very sad at the loss of their friend, but they realize that the best thing to do is to get the women back to Christmas Town. So, they make it back."

There--sexism, an improperly completed grieving process, and a raw violation of the show-don't-tell rule of storytelling, all in two sentences. If they can't talk to us, how can we expect them to talk to each other?

3) Clarice Is a Big Ol' Slut

Really, now. She just met Rudolph, and then she lets him walk her home, and before they've taken two steps? Full body contact. Then, at the end of the film, while everybody else is working, she's standing around under the mistletoe like the little harlot she is. This is not seemly, Clarice.

And I really don't think she cares all that much about Rudolph anyway. The Abominable Snow Monster is looming over him, and what does she say? Not "NOOOOO!" Not "Fry me up instead!" You know what she says? "Why doesn't he just get it over with?"

Most supportive, and also helpful. Shut up, Clarice. You and your bow, you shut it. This particular Christmas special has been decried as sexist, but when we have ho-bags the likes of Clarice sashaying about, it's no wonder. She's filling exactly the role the men surrounding her expect her to, and her ten-foot eyelashes must be saved by Yukon Cornelius and a non-licensed dentist.

4) On The Other Hand, The Female Elves Were Really Quite Liberated

Don't let the pink hats fool y'all. They sang with them male elves, and, I am told on very good authority, also played instruments, which indicates a healthy development in the arts. At the end of the story, they are shown carrying and pushing presents to the sleigh, just like their male counterparts.

They also wear very sensible shoes.

5) This Movie Is Kind of Deep, Actually

Setting aside the massive dysfunctional issues present at the North Pole, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer offers up life lessons not normally found in a seasonal film. We learn, for example, that life sucks. We are reminded that we cannot run away from rejection and the failure to find self-fulfillment. Instead, what we need to do is have angry outbursts that almost get us and everyone around us killed, and then, once our former detractors discover a use for us, then we will be accepted.

As a chronic misfit myself, this is what first resonated with me in Rudolph. Do not be swayed by the Christmas decoration-eating squirrels; there is subtlety in this film. Watch, for instance, the pond Rudolph and Hermey ford during "We're a Couple of Misfits"; at the very end, a goldfish pops his head above the surface and gives 'em the fishe... never mind, I shall not allow myself to go there. The point is, during this simple song about misfits, we're slyly shown, quite literally, a fish out of water.

(Actually, that's not so much a truly deep thing as much as I'm really, really proud of myself for noticing that. After a mere 30 viewings.)

6) Those Are Some Pretty Pissed-Off Elves Santa's Got Working For Him

In the scene in which Hermey admits he doesn't like to make toys (very self-actualized, Hermey was) all the other elves have these beetled eyebrows, even before he makes his Shocking! Confession!. None of them look happy, and methinks their shame on yous doth protest a bit too much.

I can feel that. There is zero room for self-expression in Christmas Town if you're an elf; you will wear this pointy hat, and you will like it. And those who might change the system from within simply shrug their shoulders at their plight; when we return from that scene, Sam is all, "Oh, well. Such is the life of an elf." Whatever. You get to have the wild plaid vest and the very expressive umbrella, so step off, Snow#@*. You're The Man every bit as much as Claus here.

Much has been made of Santa's incredible sense of entitlement in this film, and as we can see, the North Pole is very much a top-down operation, with counterproductive attitudes flowing right from the boot of St. Nick. I suggest a corporate retreat, or, at the very least, Hawaiian Shirt Day at the Pole.

7) Dolls With Mental Health Issues Are People Too

On the Island of Misfit Toys, every inhabitant features some sort of fearsome deformity, including a bear who not only has peacock feathers, but a bicycle. That's some serious LSD toymaking, right there.

You've wondered about the dolly, right? What was wrong with the doll in the red checkered dress? The one who can even can even say "How do you do?" Perhaps that was the problem. Perhaps she had some sort of STD. She and Clarice could go barhopping, flashing their non-pantied selves at the paparazzi.

But I checked, and you know what the problem is? She was depressed.

I would not kid about something as serious as chronically depressed doll. From Rick Goldschmidt's The Enchanted World of Rankin-Bass:

"Arthur Rankin says that Dolly's problem is more psychological... Dolly is perhaps there because she feels she is unloved (as King Moonracer explains about misfits) and perhaps the little girl who once played with her is now grown up and Dolly now sits in a box, unwanted, waiting to be loved by another little girl again."

This is huge. This was enormous, for 1964. Even Toy Story, in all its incarnations, doesn't feature a mentally unbalanced toy. For a special often derided for its heavy focus on rejection, behold! Prozac Nation is represented.

8) Yukon Cornelius: Red-Stater

Yukon is on his way to obtain, quote, "cornmeal and hamhocks and gunpowder and guitar strings." Fatty foods, capitalism, willing to bust up ANWR in exchange for a form of transportation, access to firearms, and country music: Yukon would not much care for federal health insurance, I'm thinking.

9) The Character Who Seems To Require The Least Amount of Changing and Learning Actually Changes and Learns the Most

That would be our hero, and that's some pretty bold film making.

Rudolph was the only one who showed any character development whatsoever. Him, and the Abominable Snow Monster-- and the former only did any changing because he couldn't find anyone to hire his hairy self.

Upon reviewing the tape, Rudolph was, in his youth, really a whiny little *&^%#. He was the Luke Skywalker of reindeer. ("What do we do now?" "It's my nose! It's ruined us!" Dude-- maintain.) As he sailed away from us on his ice floe, he was a naive and innocent little buck, with no idea what a dentist was and blissfully in the dark about Yukon's eeeevil mine plotting; his only concept of silver and gold is their function as "tinsel." Rudolph has some thinking to do.

When we see Rudolph again, fully antlered, he's done that thinking. He stands up for himself now, and even though he's clearly the victim here with all sorts of filable lawsuits, he attempts to protect those who have hurt him, and, as we all know, pulls Santa's judgmental *&# right out of the fire.

Okay. I'm done inhaling writing now.

and they told me I'd never use that English degree at:

Monday, December 03, 2007

Whirling Cows

Dear People Responsible For Desperate Housewives:

Many congratulations on your creation of the World's Least Realistic Tornado. I would love to know what sort of otherworldly weather dome hovers over Wisteria Lane, such that people in the path of a tornado have an entire day's warning in the form of a wind machine slowly ramping up over a 24-hour period from "suspiciously breezy day" to "WHAT?! WHAAAAAAAAAAT?! I CAN'T HEAR YOU REDUBBING YOUR LINES OVER THE WIND MACHINE!!"

And then when the funnel actually arrived, it was so good as to do so the guise of a hurricane. Everybody was wandering around taping windows, people. There was a little kid selling bottled water at gouge prices door to door. If some little kid back in my 'hood (shoutout to the General Custer's Last Ice Cream Stand, yo!) tried gouging people in the middle of a tornado warning, you know what would happen? That is correct: Nothing. Because everybody would be in the *#&$% basement. You don't have time to sell bottled water in an actual tornado. You might create some water, but you don't buy any.

Are none of the writers or producers from the Midwest? Have they never spent, like, four seconds in front of You're Going To Die Any Second Now on the Weather Channel? All they had to do was screen the first twenty minutes of that meteorological poop for one Midwesterner, and that Midwesterner, after he stopped laughing, would have gently informed the big famous important Hollywood people that when there is a tornado watch, most towns forgo setting up a public shelter.

Once the storm actually showed up, it was a particularly efficient tornado. Let us have a casualty roundup:

-Victor (killed by fisty, fisty irony)
-A fugly lawn fountain (killed by the forces of good taste; the tornado was not only efficient, it was fabulous)
-Some woman some guy slept with some time (sucked right out of a doorway)
-One car (dropped upside down in the middle of a street as Victor and Carlos stood fully upright nearby, hair slightly tousled)
-Possibly Carlos (taken out by the fountain)
-Possibly one cat (because only the smartest, bestest cats run towards the danger)
-Possibly Lynette's entire family (buried under a neighbor's house, which would at least solve her childcare problems)

Not that I don't allow room for suspension of disbelief, but when that disbelief is supposed to be suspended for twenty minutes while the people who see the funnel cloud bearing down on the cul-de-sac run outside for a nice gun battle? Noooooooot so much.

supercell at:

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