Where strange fact and stranger fiction collide
In the past I have done a pretty normal pop culture awards post at the end of the year. Best actor and actress and that kind of stuff. I decided that this year I will present some more specific awards. But of course I am keeping the best new barn animal awards, because this is DCotU. None of the winners really get anything, other than a good write up, besides Best New Goat, he gets a handful of raisins. And if any other winner wants to drive out to Northern Oregon am sure I can come up some raisins for them too.
Best optical illusion: The blue/white dress. I know it seems like it was a long time ago that the dress who some people saw as white and others as blue hit the internet, but it was only last January and February that the Lace Bodycon Dress was going viral on the net. Like all on line trends it died out. But when it hit I was doing a lot of thinking about how different people perceive things differently. And I was excited that people were finally having any kind of national discussion about this. BTW I’m a White & Gold guy.
Best bad guy: Look out Loki there is a new top villain in the MCU, and his name is Kilgrave. David Tenant is dead on as Jessica Jones mind controlling villain. The crew over in Marvel made a wise choice in limiting his screen time so he doesn’t steal the show. They were also probably right in not going literal with the purple skin thing. (Except for a fleeting moment when he gets injected with power boosting serum and when he is getting chocked). Gone is the comic book’s cold war spy, replaced with a cunning manipulator who blames everything on those around him.
I have several reviews from women who have been caught up in manipulating relationships, and despite the super power aspects of JJ they see a lot of what they went through in the show. And surprisingly they say that is a good thing. People should see how manipulators turn seemingly normal and mentally healthy women in on themselves. It took thirteen episodes for Jess to free herself from the demon who claimed he loved her. And you know if one woman gets out of bad relationship because the saw the show, Kilgrave becomes a force for good.
Best fight scene: Last year this time what was the movie I wanted to see the most? Star Wars: VII – no, Age of Ultron?-Nope. It was Kingsmen. James Bond by way of Kick Ass and Wanted. And in all I wasn’t disappointed. The only bad thing about it was it had three parts, the recruitment, the training, And the mission, all in about two hours. But like most people who saw it I liked it.
I had heard about the scene in the church when the parishioners of a Westboro Baptist like church go crazy and attack each other. It is more or less a one cut scene. It puts the massacre at House of Blue leaves in Kill Bill Vol. 1., to shame. It is probably the best choreographed fight scene, and get this it is choreographed to Free Bird by Lynyard Skynyrd. It’s on Youtube if you want to take a look, but warning it is pretty gory. How gory? The movies villain played by Samuel L. Jackson doesn’t even want to watch.
Best retro sounding song: Cage the Elephant, has that So. Cal. Punk sound down so well, with songs Like Ain’t no rest for the weary, or Back Up Against the wall, that even though they are from Bowling Green, I thought they were from Santa Barbara. Well with their new single new single Mess Around it sounds like they walked off the plane with the Beatles. Bonus points because their video for this song, like Smashing Pumpkin’s Tonight, Tonight, they tackle early 20th Century film making it as fun to watch as hear.
Best album: The Double Click’s: President Snakes. OK, confession time this was going to go to Weird Al’s Mandatory Fun, but Wikipedia, insists that it came out in 2014. Who am I to disagree with the depository of common information? So Instead it goes out to DCotU fav’s The Double Clicks. I got to see them play at a tapping of the NPR show and compared to the other band in that taping they were on spot, interacted with the audience and the crew. Not so much a Pac Nor West phenomena any more their album hit #4 on the comedy charts and they had a world tour. Hope to see big things from the sisters in 2016.
Best genre coming out of cold: Espionage movies. By my count there were more soy movies in 2015, than there were superhero movies. Not just Bond in SPECTER, but also Spy, American Ultra, Spy, Kingsmen: The Secret Service, MI:V- Rouge nation, The man From Uncle, Bridge of Spies and even the Minions Movie had 60’s spy fi vibe to it. Admittedly they were a mixed bag both critically and finically. But look at what a mixed bag the cat-burglar dragged in. Sequels, historical dramas, comedies, thrillers and even a kid show. I only see a couple spy shows coming down the pike in 2016, but hopefully this will be a trend that makes a big comeback in the near future.
Best book better heard on tape: Sarah Vowell’s Lafayette and the Somewhat United States. I love Sarah Vowell, who is a radio commentator and author but most people know her from the voice of Violet on the Incredibles. I even got her to autograph my copy of LatSUS. But I think I like her better when I hear her tell a story than when I read her writings. When I read the words on the page I even imagined them in her nasally yet somehow sexy voice, and it just not the same. It may not have helped that Lafayette is probably the weakest of her writings. Still a good book but not quite up there with Assassination Vacation or Unfamiliar Fishes, both of which I heard on tape. Several people have commented that to me that they prefer to listen to her tell the story than read it. So do yourself a favor and listen to it on CD.
Best comeback– Dark Horse’s comic book Barb Wire. In the 1980’s Barb Wire was part of DH’s Comic’s Greatest World. Back then she was the stand out of the series but still admittedly a bit of a cardboard cutout of a female heroine. Then came the Pam Anderson movie (which I admit is kind of fun in the parts Anderson isn’t in) But the 2015 reboot is everything I want in a comic book good guy bad girl. She is sexy but not slutty. She is tough but flawed. She can’t quit smoking and doesn’t want to stop drinking. She is tough but deep down she cares. And she can’t seem to catch a break. Even when she wins The Man takes her victory away. The only thing she can salvage from the system is her pride. And this sistuh has a lot to be proud of.
Best comic book concept that doesn’t quite work: DC’s Bombshells. A feminist retelling or World War Two with Wonder Woman, Poison Ivy, Batgirl, Cat Woman and Harley Quinn. I am in. And they pay off wasn’t bad. It just wasn’t as good as I had hoped. And the weird sporadic shipping dates really kind of dampened my enthusiasm for the project. The other drawback is that the first six or so issues were my least favorite comic book trope, the origin story. Now I do have to say this you can’t really tell the story without reintroducing the characters origin. But still I would like have seen this more driven by story than character.
Best comic book concept that worked: We Stand on Guard. America invades Canada with mecha because of faulty intelligence and politics. Do I have your interest? With a story by Brian K Vaughn and art by Steve Skroce, on the surface this is a rollicking post Canadian/US war story told by members of the Canadian resistance. But it is much more. I am down with taking out the Islamic State, but sometimes we forget that the targets of US drone strikes are not our enemy. Vaughn makes the ‘others’ the people most like us. It is a thought evoking piece and is up there with Maus in showing what comics can say and do.
Best pop culture event of 2015. Harry Potter is returning with a black Hermione. I am not a big HP fan. But don’t underestimate how important this is. Noma Dumezweni as a grown up Hermione is ubber important, this pop culture as social statement. Millions of young women saw themselves as JK Rowling’s heroine. Now they can see themselves as a person of color. How big do I think this is? I think it is up there with Star Treks first interracial kiss, Paul Robeson dominating the stage in the 20’s and 30’s and Run DMC singing with Areosmith. Now I get some people are not excited about this. Heck Potter fan’s complained when an Asian character was played by an Asian. But this takes HP from the level of pop culture to a force for civil rights. Yes there is magic, and it doesn’t matter what your color or sex is to wield it.
Best new farm animal non-mammal. Bruce the adorable little chicken. We live in unincorporated Clackamas County so we pretty much don’t have any laws telling us we can or cannot have any combination of animals. That is not so for much of the surrounding area. My sister’s friend bought a couple of chicks, it was legal for them to have chickens but not roosters. So we got one of the chicks that was miss-sexed. Unlike out chickens this is Cornish chicken and so cute and adorable. But the other chickens don’t seem to like him, so he begins to hang out with the farm’s ducks. The ducks prevent him from being picked on by the other rooster who is literally four times his size. But who can’t love a little roster that jumps on the back of the goats and rides around on them.
Best new animal mammal non-goat. A tie Helios and Theodore the new barn cats. We needed some barn cats to take care of the mice infestation in our barn. So my sister set off to get some feral mean barn cats. What we got are not only hunters but sweet hearts. The mice have disappeared, but when I am milking the goats, Helios would reach down from his roost and kneed my shoulder. He goes out and plays with the goats in the field. His littermate Theodore was worried that my brother in law was getting a bit skinny, so he captured a mouse and took it to him and tried to get him to chase it. It not to anthromorphizing to see their actions as nearly human.
Best new goat: Quatermass II. This new goat is the son of last year’s winner Claes. And if anything he is even smarter than his mother. He figured out how to undo the knots that tie the recumbent bike hanging from the rafters, almost dropping it on his siblings. Also when I bring food to them, all the other goats run to the food, he moves to where I am going to take the food. He anticipates where it is going to go not where it will be. I know humans that can’t do that. He is also maybe the most photogenic goat ever.