Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Urban Renewal

Your conversation
with him is the home from which
I was evicted

Copyright 2012 Matthew J Wells

Monday, March 26, 2012

The Dead

The dead are always watching, with the whole
range of their undone lives, with every goal
they never met and every little deed
they left unfinished--staring with the need
of hungry children at the way we waste
the time they'll never have--yearning to taste,
just for a day or two, the scraps we throw
away, or leave behind, or never know.

The dead will trade eternity for one
brief minute in a body overrun
by cancer--they will sell their precious souls
to feel a flush of nausea as it rolls
over a drunkard--they will climb from hell
to spend five minutes in a death-row cell.

They see us lose what they would gladly die
to have again; they hear the way we lie
and tell ourselves that waiting is no crime
because we all assume that we have time
not only to do what we want, but to
put off the things that we could always do.

They look at us, and marvel at the ways
we find to squeeze the life out of the days
they'd kill to have. They beat against the walls
that separate them from the crowded halls
of the mundane; they scream that death's unfair.

And yet they're filled with hope and not despair--
for every time something within us dies,
they take a breath and open up their eyes.

Copyright 2012 Matthew J Wells

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Therapy sonnet

“You really should stop falling for girls who
  go home to other men,” my married lover 
said at the door last night.  I said: “Like you?”
  and for an instant, I saw something hover
in her gray eyes, something with bloody claws,
  before it flew away, and she said: “Oh,
I have no home,” adding, after a pause:
  “I’m just a girl who never could say no
except to a commitment.  Such a pair.”
  She scrunched her nose up, said: “Thanks for the ride,”
and walked out with a wave, leaving me there
  with her smell on the blue sheets by my side
      and stomach sick, as if I had just lied,
      and nothing but my body satisfied.

Copyright 2012 Matthew J Wells

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

It's John Carter of Mars, okay? And it's from the director of Finding Nemo and Wall-E.

And isn't that enough to make you go see it? It should be, right? So why didn't Disney use that somewhere--anywhere--in a trailer or a print ad? It's like somebody WANTED this movie to fail, and fail big. Or somebody was really, really stupid. Because when you sink a quarter of a billion dollars into something, and then effectively throw it to the wolves by never telling anyone it was co-written by a Pulitzer-Prize winning author, titling it after a character in ER, and booking it into 90% 3D cinemas and only 10% 2D, it either has to be deliberate sabotage or stratospheric stupidity.

JADED MOVIEGOERS WORLDWIDE: It's Hollywood. Go with stupidity.

I saw John Carter [OF MARS] over the weekend at the only cinema in town which is running regular 2D screenings (the AMC 42nd Street) and it was packed (like sold-out packed) at 11:45 AM.  And I liked it a lot.  It was true to its source (which was also a drawback--see below), it had a good script and great special effects, it took itself seriously, and it was fun Saturday morning entertainment.  Did I believe it was taking place on Mars and not in Utah?  No--I've seen too many westerns set in the same canyons.  Did I care?  No.  It was fun.  Was it the greatest movie ever made?  No, but then neither is The Rocketeer.  Was it the worst big-budget movie ever made?  God no--it has a lo-o-o-ong way to go to beat Alexander, Sahara and Rush Hour 3, lemme tell ya.

The main drawback--and pretty much every review mentions this--is that, when Edgar Rice Burroughs wrote Under The Moons of Mars in 1912, he created a genre which everyone after him has been strip-mining mercilessly, from Flash Gordon to Buck Rogers to Star Wars to Superman.  Everything that was original to the Burroughs novel has been used and re-used so often it's become a tradition--which means the source and origin of all these tropes, now that it's been filmed, looks like it's completely derivative and doesn't have an original thing going for it.  And when the guy who said the words first sounds like nothing but echoes, you need to do one of three things--emphasize the fact that he was there before everyone; find something new and unexpected for him to do; or tell the story straight and assume audiences will understand that by appearing derivative, you're actually being faithful to the source material.  

Needless to say, what we have on screen is Option 3.  Not counting one or two smart updates . One of which is the way Carter is transported to Mars.  The other?  Dejah Thoris.

If you're looking for a genre movie with a strong female lead, look no further.  Yes, she does a Lois Lane plummet not once but twice so she can get rescued by the super guy, but she's no damsel in distress--she rescues Carter, too.  She's smart, she's strong, she's real-world sexy (as opposed to movie bimbo sexy) and jeez, she's played by the same actress who held her own as Portia opposite Al Pacino's Shylock.  What more do you want?  Seriously--you're looking for someone who could play Wonder Woman?  Here she is.  That's how good Lynn Collins is.

Like I say, it's not a movie without problems, but it's chief problem is that it's gotten such unrelentingly dismissive reviews that people aren't going to enjoy it for what it is: an interplanetary romance, in the old sense of the word romance, which implies a certain kind of adventure, that follows a certain set of rules. If that's your cup of tea, go see the 2D version (if you can find a theatre that's playing it--stoopid Disney).  And don't bother to wait through the credits; there's no teaser at the end. Just a long close-up of a Disney accountant working a spreadsheet to balance the pre-production costs without taking a write-down.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Slutgate - The Aspirin Mentality

As much fun as it would be to lay into Rush Limbaugh for being a hypocrite who claims he’s a political commentator whenever he speaks and an entertainer whenever he has to apologize, I think it’s much more instructive to look at exactly what WAS said, and examine the premise behind each of these howling whoppers, because every one of them reflects a specific view of women.

We'll get to Rush's blathering in later posts, but for this one, let's start with the "Thank God for free speech because the assholes always say something assholey" quotation that began the whole mess:

QUOTE: “Back in my day, they used Bayer aspirin for contraceptives. The gals put it between their knees and it wasn’t that costly." -- Foster Friess, financial backer of Rick Santorum.

PREMISE #1: Women are always the only ones who determine whether sex happens or not. If they say no, it doesn’t happen. If they keep their legs together, it doesn’t happen. And if they open their legs, it does happen. 

Which implies that

PREMISE #2: If sex happens, it’s because the woman opened her legs, so she wanted it to happen. This automatically means that, if a man has sex with a woman who says “No,” then what she was really saying was “Yes! Yes! Oh yes!” Why? Because sex occurred, silly! And since sex cannot occur without the woman’s say-so, she must have been saying so. See how simple it is when you know the rules?

But the real underlying premise here is the one nobody talks about, and it defines the entire worldview of women that lies behind that aspirin crack. It’s a three-fold notion that nobody ever contradicts, and everybody assumes is true. Including the legal system in most civilized countries.

PREMISE #3.1: Men not only always WANT sex to happen, they always EXPECT sex to happen. Always. It’s the given behind everything. And when you think of it as a call and response, it’s totally illogical. Normally, The Party of The First Part is the one who asks the Question, and The Party Of The Second Part is the one who is responsible for the Answer. But since all responsibility for the sexual act resides in the woman, that makes HER both The Party of The First Part AND The Party of The Second Part. In other words, the Question itself is embodied by the presence of the woman. Simply by walking into a room full of men, any woman, single or married, is required by unwritten law to declare “No I do not want to have sex with you!” as loudly as she can to every single man in the room. Otherwise, the same unwritten law declares that, since silence is universally recognized as giving assent, simply by being in that room, she is saying: “Do me. Do me now.” 

PREMISE #3.2: All women are sexually irresistible. This is the finger-pointing side of the responsibility angle. All a man has to do to defend himself from any form of sexual misconduct is prove that he had sex with a human being with a vagina, and a judge will slam down a hammer and say “Case closed.” Because men have no control over their actions whenever a woman is involved. It’s a given. Which is, sadly, why “The existence of a woman’s genitals” is a legally-recognized excuse for rape.

PREMISE #3.3: Women are nothing but doorways to sex. What do you do to a door? You knock on it. If it opens, you get to go in. If it stays closed, you don’t go in. Simple, right? And the great thing about this analogy is that there is no legally-recognized precedent for breaking the door down. If a man takes a sledgehammer to that door or blows it up with C4, the fact that he can walk into the bedroom means that door was opened willingly. Which means he’s off the hook. (See Premise 3.2 above.)

And y'know? This kind of guy is even GRAMMATICALLY off the hook.  He doesn't think about having sex; he thinks about getting laid.  Which is passive, not active; which implies that it's something that happens to him, not something he does.  Getting laid; getting a blowjob--these things just happen, and if there's an active verb involved, then the subject of that verb is always somebody else.  Somebody conveniently third-person female.

I would lay cash money that Santorum's rich friend Friess talks about sex in the passive tense, because it totally fits what his type of male really thinks.  If, that is, he's capable of introspection.  Which I kind of doubt.  You can always count on two things with assholes: they're happier than everybody else, and they're barely capable of a first thought, never mind a second one.  Which puts them in the same league with blowhards who think that the purchase of female contraceptives means that the buyer is having sex all the time.  (I'm looking at you, Rush.)

LIMBAUGH: That was an exaggeration with humorous intent.
ME:  No, that was a solipsism.
LIMBAUGH: Big words for a feminist-loving playwright.
ME: Big logical error for an overweight prescription-drug-abusing male chauvinist.  Because a man only buys contraceptives when he thinks he's going to have sex, you think that the same thing is true for a woman.
LIMBAUGH: Contraceptives are always a sex issue.
ME:Contraceptives are sometimes a health issue.
LIMBAUGH: Health has nothing to do with it.
ME: Oh that has everything to do with it--as you've been finding out, and totally ignoring, for the last couple of weeks. 

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Songs for a Tuesday Morning - "Who's the other guy playing with him?"

The story goes that when Brian Jones played a Robert Johnson record for Keith Richards, Richards gave Jones a puzzled look and said, "So who's the other guy playing with him?"

And there will be a bunch of other guys playing him tonight at the Apollo Theatre, where they're holding a Robert Johnson at 100 concert (which I would love to be going to but I can't) (and technically he's almost 101--he was born on May 8, 1911).

So, in case you too have other plans, here are three versions of his most famous song. 

The original:

The Cream version:

And the Ry Cooder (yes--honest) gospel version from that Ralph Macchio/Jami Gertz movie in the 80's:

Thursday, March 1, 2012

No Reflection On You

My heart is like a mirror: empty and
yearning by nature, useless until filled
with someone else, and only capable
of observation.

Copyright 2012 Matthew J Wells