pickling the ham canyon.
You should have seen him
absorbing the nether wombat.
She seemed like a shy girl when they met,
but a few drinks later,
they were spray painting the trout.
I suppose it's mindless fun, but considering how pervasive the non-sequiter was during my formative years (see Monty Python and my high school crew for details), I think they're funny.
There has been an interesting side-effect of two different aspects of my life.
Money being tight, I have decided to forego using a MetroCard to get to school, opting instead to walk. This has been how I've gotten to school most days of the past few weeks. Furthermore, the lack of a car and money to do stuff has meant that I've had to revert to some of the forms of entertainment that I used to amuse myself at the beginning of last year, when I was faced with a similar financial crisis. This involves watching a lot of movies on the Ballbuster DVD welfare plan, long conversations with suitboyskin about our new project and listening to a lot of music. The latter two options I can perform in a mobile capacity, as I have a cellphone exclusively, and the iRiver is a toy that I've referenced many times in this journal. So, I am often just taking a long, leisurely stroll through my neighborhood with the hands-free device or my headphones on.
I have also been getting a lot of pleasure from cooking, as I have the opportunity to shape the flavor of the food that I eat, a power I had never enjoyed before. Because my tastes do include stuff that is often good for you, including vegetables such as peas, spinach and brussel sprouts, I tend to try to intergrate them into what I am cooking. The result is that my diet is much more balanced than it was when I was eating primarily pre-prepared food.
I noticed, with a shock, that I had unintentionally lost a significant amount of weight. This was in no way, shape or form a goal, just merely how things worked out.
A few weeks ago, I found an old watch that no longer worked. I also found the watch I had previously that did work, but the band was broken. I took the band off the old watch and put it on the new one and now I have a watch again for the first time since Tim got married. He gave out pocketwatches to the wedding party, so I abandoned the wristwatch, but there are drawbacks to those. I never got a wristwatch again, instead using my cellphone as my timepiece.
What is notable about this is that until I got the pocketwatch, I had worn a watch on my right wrist (because I'm left-handed) since I was eight years old. Putting on the watch and wearing it took no more readjustment than seeing my face in the mirror once I was able to grow my beard back earlier this year. In a sense, I sort of feel as though I'm reclaiming much of my former identity and combining it with whom I have become...
I wonder where this is going...
My single page paper due today on a film and its relationship to its genre ended up being a four page essay on how Escape from New York is a kaleidescope of different genres. I though long and hard about which film to use for this paper. At one point, suitboyskin mentioned Bad Santa because of how many Christmas movie conventions it doesn't just violate, but annihilate. I was considering it, but the truth is that my knowledge of the Christmas movie is somewhat limited. In going through my collection on DVD, I was looking for some movie I could use that where my responses wouldn't be obvious. I noticed Escape from New York and thought about it for a few minutes, and this is what I came up with:
The Melange of Genres Conventions
Found in Escape from New York
John Carpenter's absurdist science-fiction fable is a film that has only increased in popularity since its release in 1981. I think much of the reason for the success of the film is because of the fact that it employs elements from multiple genres in its discourse, and manages to satisfy several audiences at once.
The semantics of the film are science-fiction, although aspects of both the dystopian and post-apocalyptic subgenres are employed, for both satirical effect – the world Snake lives in is a fascist hell, and the nightmarish landscape of New York does not seem so different – and for the dramatic, which is where the story evolves from.
Air Force One has been shot down over Manhattan, which has been converted into a maximum security dumping ground for everybody that society doesn't care to deal with. The President (Donald Pleasance) is held prisoner by the Duke of New York (Isaac Hayes), and former Special Forces hero-turned-criminal Snake Plissken (Kurt Russell) is sent by warden Hauk (Lee Van Cleef) to retrieve him.
When we get into syntax is where we find so many other elements crowding the playing field. In addition to the science-fiction genres that the film is employing that there are elements of both the prison escape film (which makes sense given the premise) the Western, and a whole mess of other tropes coming from a myriad of different genres.
Snake himself is a character not too removed from Clint Eastwood's Man with No Name found in the Titoli di Dollari. As in a Spaghetti Western, the characters in the film operate in a moral vacuum; that is to say, if somebody is typed as a “good guy,” it is only in comparison to the other people one find around him. Furthermore, Snake's conflict with the Duke of New York remains rather impersonal for Snake, which is a break from the traditional Western but a notable trope of the Italian Western. This aspect of the film is telegraphed by the presence of Lee Van Cleef, a veteran of many Spaghetti Westerns, and by Carpenter's use of his favored Panavision photography by Dean Cundey, which at times mimics the way that Sergio Leone might use a widescreen frame. The fact that Snake is a disenfranchised veteran touches a bit on the war drama as well.
From the prison break genre, we find several elements that work in traditional ways. Once in New York, Snake puts together a small group of people, each with different talents, that may assist him in the escape. Cabbie (Ernest Borgnine) can drive, Brain (Harry Dean Stanton) knows a way across the 69th Street Bridge (ha ha ha) and, in a coup unavailable to previous prison pictures, Maggie (Adrienne Barbeau), who is a crack shot, can also display her cleavage in several dimensions at once. These characters maintain presence throughout the film, but during the actual prison break are gradually eliminated one-by-one.
There are other, lesser influences as well. Snake also has had a bomb placed in his bloodstream in order to guarantee his cooperation. The ticking-time-bomb characteristic of the film gives it much in common with a Cold War thriller as well. Over the course of the movie, we are also introduced to the “crazies,” people who live underground and come up only to feed on whomever they can find there (introduced appearing in front of a “Chock Full O' Nuts” storefront), and the sequences with them take on the air of a zombie picture, and the Duke of New York himself is a character straight out of a blaxploitation thriller. Snake is forced to fight to the death in a ring, which has shades of a wrestling picture, and Joe Alves' production design (the film was shot in the power deprived St. Louis) features empty husks of buildings with echoes of post-war Europe. The film's cast of recognizable character actors imply an Irwin Allen disaster film as well.
New York itself is a social panorama that perhaps most easily resembles George Miller's Mad Max films, with most of the people reduced to primitive tribal interactions while the more organized (in the case of Mad Max 2 (The Road Warrior), it is the forces of Lord Humongous, while here it is those of the Duke) have a brutal Darwinism to them.
What brings all of these aspects of the film together is the dark tone of the film, which is an area where the sequel, Escape from L.A. failed miserably, an implication of danger which is pervasive. Much of this comes from the score composed by Carpenter and Alan Howarth, which is essentially electronic minimalism employed to give the film a faster pulse. This is an aspect of the film that lies firmly in the science-fiction arena, not only because of the fact that the music is entirely synthesized, but also because minimalism (short, repeating tonal musical phrases with slight changes to accompaniment) is a musical idiom that has generally been associated with science fiction (the most obvious example of this is Bernard Herrmann's “Radar” cue from The Day the Earth Stood Still).
So, in watching Escape from New York, one finds that the journey that Snake takes goes through not only lower and midtown Manhattan, but also through several story idioms. As I said, the fact that it has such a kitchen-sink aspect to it may well be accountable for why the film is so popular with so many different audiences. There is something for almost everybody.
I hand it in today, and hopefully get beck my mid-term paper on autuer Robert Altman.
Off to class...