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Under The Boardwalk

This is where I tell you that I’ve never seen Boardwalk Empire, but I’m going to write about it anyway, and you scratch your head like you do.

I found that showreel of special effects for the show fascinating. I think that the technical part of the production of movies, TV, music, and so forth has become so versatile and realistic, and engrossing effects readily achievable, that it’s overshadowing the stories or music or whatever the locus of attention’s supposed to be in the first place. The actors can’t act, they’re told to say ridiculous sentences and do unbelievable things while everything explodes, with deserts of filler in between the plastic oases of action. Singers barely mumble into a microphone and have it turned into a robotic melody while they hop around like second-string cheerleaders, all decided beforehand by committee. That sort of thing is driving me to the abandoned island of hardcover books, LP records, and David Lean movies.

Boardwalk Empire‘s coterie of participants hints that it might be better than your average teleplay, but I’m not that likely to go out of my way to look at it. I’m tired of gangsters. Do you know any crooks? They’re deadly dull, generally, and kinda thick for the most part. I’ve known some really interesting honest people. Hollywood dug a shallow grave for honest people a while back and rolled them in. It’s much easier to get conflict and action going if someone pulls out a gat from the get-go. But it’s kinda lazy, and it gets old pretty fast. The pistol is the official deus ex machina of American entertainment. Got a plot hole? Fill it with a bullethole. Problem solved!

I suppose I should just enjoy The Old Man And The Sea And A Nine-Millimeter And A Shirtless Chick by Michael Bay like everyone else, but I’m having a hard time with it. I’m still interested in the process, and astonished by what the people that aren’t in charge are capable of doing. Hardworking and talented people can put anything on the screen. It’s not their fault if you hired Pauly Shore to play Sam Spade in a musical.

I’d –ahem– kill to put words in these actor’s mouths, surrounded by these visual wonders. First, you kill all the characters’ fathers. Writes itself after that, really.

How Can A Man Explain The Phlorescent Leech And Eddie To His Son? I’d Rather Have The Sex Talk. There’s Less Perversion In It

Turtles! 1968. You try working “et cetera” into a pop song.

You got a thing about you
I just can’t live without you
I really want you, Elenore, near me
Your looks intoxicate me
Even though your folks hate me
There’s no one like you, Elenore, really

Elenore, gee I think you’re swell
And you really do me well
You’re my pride and joy, et cetera
Elenore, can I take the time
To ask you to speak your mind
Tell me that you love me better

I really think you’re groovy
Let’s go out to a movie
What do you say, now, Elenore, can we?
They’ll turn the lights way down low
Maybe we won’t watch the show
I think I love you, Elenore, love me

Pretty Girls Can Run Their Mouths And Get Away With It

The “Flower Duet” from Lakmé, by Clément Philibert Léo Delibes

Under the dense canopy
Where the white jasmine
Blends with the rose
On the flowering bank
Laughing at the morning
Come, let us drift down together
Let us gently glide along
With the enchanting flow
Of the fleeing current
On the rippling surface
With a lazy hand
Let us reach the shore
Where the source sleeps
And the bird sings
Under the dense canopy
Under the white jasmine
Let us drift down together

If it sounds familiar, it should; Hollywood, video games, Madison Avenue, and every fruit stand and conglomerate alike have been raping it for thirty years now.

According to Wikipedia’s list of uses of the melody in pop culture, you listened to it in sorrow as you shoveled Godiva chocolates in your gob with one hand while smearing Ghirardelli chocolate all over the rest of your face with the other. You were bereft; your lover left you when you demanded he stop playing video games like Fallout: New Vegas instead of watching Kirstie Alley waddle around the Dancing With The Stars stage leaving footprints in the hardwood floor, while dead Leo’s old warhorse purred in the background of both. You’d already had a tiff over whether David Usher’s sample of the song or LL Cool J’s sample of the song was superior; then the cad said he liked the cello-based rock band Rasputina’s gloss on the song best, which they called “Mr. Romberg” for some reason, and you knew it was over. What a barbarian.

So he split town on British Airways, kited high into the stratosphere by its dulcet tones, and you went to your Netflix queue and erased True Romance, Private Parts, The American President, The Oh in Ohio, Lara Croft Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life, Meet the Parents, Superman Returns, Five Corners, Someone to Watch Over Me, The Hunger, Carlito’s Way, I’ve Heard the Mermaids Singing, The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor, because you knew they’d use some version of the thing — one that sounded like a chicken pecking it out on a toy piano if they couldn’t afford the rights to a talented live person singing it — and it would remind you of that beast. You tried cable for a while, but CSI: Miami, The Animal Planet, Nip and Tuck, Alias, and pretty much everyone outside R. Lee Ermey had it on a continuous loop — and even Ermey looked like he might go wobbly on you — so you decided to end it all, and took a bottle of pills.

As you drifted off, you knew in your heart they’d play it at your funeral .

Red, Right, Return

Gracie Gardner’s Vimeo Channel

The average contemporary human does not consider the sublime much. Life is not seen as linear –with an end — or even circular, with an eastern repetition. In many people’s mind they were never a baby and will never be old. It’s a botoxed cougar world, facing off against forty year old men still dressing up like Star Wars characters.

I don’t want to be sixty years old at a Coldplay concert with a girlfriend on my shoulders, thanks. I don’t think it will be fun to eventually look at eternity and only have fifteen minutes of real adult behavior in your CV. And I don’t want to act as if children are just short adults. I’m six-foot-two, there’s plenty of short adults around already.  It’s common for people to remark that they don’t want to see children out in public, and old people should find an ice floe before we have to find one for you. Out of sight, out of mind. Me? I like children that act childish and babies that coo and old people if they don’t say tsk too often.

Hey, there’s an aphorism: Out of sight, out of mind.  “Get out of our sight, and we’re out of our minds,” might be more to the point nowadays. Time for  new aphorisms, I guess.

My wife and I have children. We’re married to one another and stay that way. We raise the little shavers as best we can, and treat them like children, and try to prepare them to be adults so we can treat them like adults later. Maybe if we do it right they won’t start picking out an ice floe for us before we’re sixty.

Part of raising an adult is having respect for their opinions, at least eventually. Asking your four-year-old to pick out a color to paint their room is foolish. When you’re four-years-old, decisions should be made with an appropriate amount of serendipity, and not written in stone, or at least not eggshell paint. Children need help, and eventually you’re going to need help from your children in return, if for no other reason than to figure out what the hell you’ve been put on this earth for when your time’s up.

You have to protect your children from touching the stove, it’s true; but sooner or later they’re going to get older, and they’ll find themselves in a room with a hot stove, and they’re going to have to cook if they want to eat. How do you prepare your kids properly for modern life? Beats me. Maybe the simple fact that you try is where the success is hidden. It’s all quality time, if you ask me. Hey, that would make a nifty newage aphorism.  I often tell my wife, I’m a bad father, but I am a father, and take pride in not receiving an incomplete, never mind an “F”. Minus.

You can give your kids rules of thumb to navigate the world by. Aesop’s Fables. Red, Right, Return. Aphorisms. Eventually, they’ll grow up and make their own, and if you do your job right, maybe they’ll surprise and charm the hell out of you, considering what a world full of hot stoves we just handed them.

He Coulda Been Somebody

(Note: A little foul language in there)

I think Marlon Brando is better than you do.

It’s because I didn’t pay attention to the last thirty years or so of his life. More or less, The Godfather is the last movie I saw him in, and I didn’t see that when it came out; too young. So no, Jor-El didn’t affect my opinion much. Neither did Apocalypse Now, which isn’t really a movie, and he’s not really in it– it’s just a big self-indulgent mess of misplaced anger and sentiment, with Marlon doing the only sensible thing in it: cashing a check and going home.

All those bad movies were Marlon’s version of an old ballplayer sitting at a card table signing autographs for a few bucks apiece. But in Brando’s case, the little kids waiting to touch the hem of his shabby muu-muu were film directors clutching a few hundred grand, and the card table was a film set.  He got too big for the milieu he was in, which is very big indeed, and became Elvis or Santa Claus or something. That’s not his fault. Hell, whoever made this mashup pasted it over a Beatles song that tested the outer limits of the public’s appetite to adore anything, and there’s Brando on the album’s cover.

People should be aware of things that happened before they were born. They should pay some attention to things that matter to those younger than themselves, too. How else will you raise children properly? People should put things in context.

You can see it, if you look closely. There’s this dotted line between standing on wooden floorboards yelling whispers to a house, and having a lens an inch from your nose in an artificial world with only a theoretical audience to pitch your wares to. Marlon Brando erased this line.

Our Continuing Series: Paul Robeson Playing Softball

Hello, and welcome from the management. Please remember to tip our bartenders and waitresses, and remember we are not responsible for lost articles, or adjectives for that matter.

If you’re new to the Cottage, we have a longstanding tradition. We feature pictures of Paul Robeson playing softball each Wednesday at exactly 9:38 in the AM.

The management regrets that we are a little short of pictures of Paul Robeson playing softball this week, and our fallback offerings of Videos Of Marlon Brando Playing The Bongos In A Grotto Fashioned After A Drunkard’s Nightmare Videos are offline right now, so we offer you, the discerning listener, er, reader, er, viewer, er, connoisseur, yes, that’s it, our Videos of Marlon Brando Playing the Ukelele On French Television Videos. Look for it in labels under VMBPUOFTV in the future. Enjoy, and drive safely.


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