Sunday, February 18, 2018

Short Post and a Song #149: No he didn't actually get me a giant cheese wheel, and yes I agree it was very cruel of him to toy with my emotions like that.

[Valentine's Day]

Star Wars: The Dan Awakens: My client said I should have bought you a rose on my way home.

Me: So I could be like, "Oh thaaaanks babe" and awkwardly put it in a glass since we don't have any vases and end up forgetting about it until the dead petals start crumbling all over the floor?

Teenage Mutant Ninja Dan: Yeah I told her you'd rather I bought you an enormous Valentine's Day cheese wheel.

Me: And the fact that you know me that well is gift enough. ...Seriously though did you get me a giant cheese wheel because now I can't stop thinking about it.


"The Very Thought of You" by Billie Holiday

Heya Velocininjas, I hope you had a good Valentine's Day, hope you really smeared your happy relationships in your single friends' faces all over social media. I've never been a fan of Valentine's Day, to be honest, or big organized holidays in general. I wish people would just give each other gifts and appreciate one another all the time instead of when they're forced to.

So when Yes We Dan neglected to get me a giant cheese wheel, I wasn't sad because it was Valentine's Day. I was sad because I had thought there was maybe cheese, and then there wasn't, and that was a goddamn tragedy. 

But then I ate like five string cheeses later so really it was all fine.

Here's a song Dandango somehow seems to still enjoy despite hearing me sing it several thousand times while doing the dishes over the years, and also one of the first pictures anyone ever took of us together when we were small eighteen-year-old children:

Monday, February 12, 2018

Movies with Velociraptor Hands: Dirty Dancing, Part 4

Read Part 1 herePart 2 here, and Part 3 here.

Heya friends, hope you had a nice weekend! Did you watch the Olympics? Because I didn't, and I won't, and you can't make me. 

Instead of the Olympics, let's talk Dirty Dancing. When we last left Johnny and Baby, Johnny got accused of stealing a bunch of guests' wallets by one of his jealous diamond-pocket-stuffing ladies. 

Baby tells the hotel manager (in front of her family) that Johnny couldn't have done it because they were together in his room all night. Then Johnny gets fired anyway because fraternization, and Baby's dad is kind of a dick about the whole thing.

And now, the thrilling final installment of the notes I took while watching a movie that came out a year before I was born: 

-Got genuinely emotional over the scene with Baby confronting her dad. “I’m sorry I let you down, but you let me down too.” Having to learn that your parents are human people who are every bit as fallible as you is a very relatable lesson, and one this movie conveys well.

-Patrick Swayze and Jennifer Grey had amazing chemistry, wow. 

-They believe in each other, aw.

-C’mon, Swayze, maybe not the all black and the sunglasses and the leather jacket when you go to see Baby’s dad.

-This movie has such a great soundtrack.

-Kinda sweet how the sister’s not a piece of shit for a second there when she offers to do Baby’s hair.

-The grandma from Gilmore Girls was pretty hot.

-“Nobody puts Baby in a corner” is a dumb line imo. It just sounds so unnatural (why wouldn’t he be speaking directly to Baby when she’s right there?), and their table’s hardly even in a corner. Unless he means it metaphorically, like she should be onstage instead of in the audience? Whatever, it's dumb and I don't like it.

-Okay so the speech Johnny makes about Baby before they do their final dance together is just the best. Instead of some mushy declaration about love at first sight, or focusing on Baby’s physical beauty, he professes admiration for what a great person she is. He talks about her willingness to stick up for others, and how she’s “someone who’s taught me about the kind of person that I wanna be.” Johnny doesn’t see Baby as a trophy on his arm or a paper doll who only matters as far as she can enrich his own story—to him she’s a full-blown person in her own right. This an attitude that is sadly very hard to find in other romantic films, and I’ve gotta hand it to Dirty Dancing for doing a great job with it.

-That final dance is very corny but I also kinda love it still. Plus the earlier mention of Johnny working with the staff kids on a dance makes their involvement more plausible.

-Why is everyone doing that weird bridge thing with their arms?

-“When I’m wrong I say I’m wrong.” Was that supposed to be an apology, Baby’s dad? Because it sure as hell didn’t sound like one.

-How come no one ever brings up the prospect of Baby and Johnny staying in touch after the summer’s over? People probably didn’t come from super far to work or stay at a resort in the Catskills—they could’ve made their relationship work if they had wanted, I bet.

-Swayze always looks like he’s about to cry before he kisses her. 

Aaaand that's it! You would not be wrong to point out that I did not have the kindest things to say about Dirty Dancing during the first few installments. Watching the film, I couldn't help but agree with my friends' assessment: The dialogue was garbage and Baby and Johnny's relationship had no substance apart from several dance montages (or rather one very long dance montage with teeny tiny breaks for dialogue).

But in the last third or so of the movie you can see a definite change in the tone of my notes. Once Johnny and Baby were actually together I found myself rooting for their relationship, despite not giving a shit about it before it started. I also started to relate more to Baby as a character, and admire that she managed to become so nice and empathetic when her parents both seem kind of terrible.

Maybe I'm still biased because I grew up adoring this movie. Maybe I'll never have perspective. But I can say at twenty-nine that while I see a lot of problems with the movie that I didn't when I was a kid, I still also see a lot about it to love.

I skipped doing a Short Post and a Song this Sunday since this has already been way more than I've posted in five years, and I didn't want the blog to explode from posting too much at once. But since watching Dirty Dancing I have been listening to the soundtrack pretty frequently, and have grown particularly attached to a smooth little tune called "Stay" by Maurice Williams & the Zodiacs:

Thanks for joining me on another trip down memory lane, Velocininjas! This was way more fun than rereading Twilight, thank God.

Friday, February 9, 2018

Movies with Velociraptor Hands: Dirty Dancing, Part 3

Read Part 1 here and Part 2 here.

Hello again Velocininjas! Yes that's right, I'm blogging three days in a row, it's like a regular 2012 up in here. It's a lot easier to put out blog posts quickly when all I'm doing is copying and pasting a chunk of the notes I took while watching Dirty Dancing last week.

When we last left off, Baby had gone to a hotel staff party with a lot of sexy dancing and met Johnny. She's smitten with him when he gives her an impromptu dance lesson at the party, but he's kind of a dick to her at first, honestly. 

Baby finds out Johnny's dance partner, Penny, is pregnant and in need of an abortion, but can't find someone to cover for her in a show at another hotel when the traveling abortionist comes through town. It's decided that Baby will take Penny's place as Johnny's dance partner, since why not add the risk of being seen fraternizing with a guest to this already very tricky situation?

Aaand that's about as coherent as things are gonna get, I'm afraid. Let's get back to my notes:

-“Ga-gung” is a weird noise to make for a heartbeat. You too good for a simple “bum-bum”, Swayze?

-How long is this dancing montage?

-Is this movie just a dancing montage now?

-Too cool for a raincoat, Swayze? Your precious leather jacket is gonna be so fucked from wearing it in the pouring rain and you will deserve it.

-I have always despised the moment when Johnny and Baby get in his car after he broke the window to get his keys, and Baby exclaims, “You’re wild!” To make matters worse, Johnny doesn’t hear her the first time and asks what she said, and she repeats it, only much louder and more obnoxiously. It’s awkward and forced and way too on the nose and I hate it so much.

-Baby and Johnny's relationship is based almost entirely on dance montages.

-Swayze’s talking about women “stuffing diamonds” in his pockets. So is he a prostitute who gets paid in diamonds? Are the diamonds in necklace or ring form, or are these women just jamming big ol handfuls of uncut diamonds in there?

-Love how the music synchs perfectly with Baby grabbing Johnny’s ass.

-Beige iridescent lipstick sounds like just the worst thing.

-Johnny tells his tale of being a man whore like he’s the poor, used victim in all this. Yes, those women were using you, but you were also using them for money and sex while not giving a shit that they were cheating on their husbands with you, sooo…

-“You’re not daddy’s girl anymore. He listens when I talk now.” How long could they have been on this vacation that Baby’s older sister could claim that her father has switched favorite children? That sort of shift usually takes more than a week or two.

-Baby’s older sister singing to rehearse for the talent show remains as amazing a scene as I remember.

-What do all these women see in Garbage Robbie? He’s such an asshole it’s absurd—he’s a cartoon, a caricature of an asshole. He has a copy of The Fountainhead with notes in the margins that he's able to just whip out at any given moment since he has it on him even while he's doing his job. As a waiter. For Christ's sake.

Okay, I've got one chunk of notes left, so you guys get to wait until next week for the thrilling conclusion of me watching a very popular film and making snarky comments about it while other people go to their jobs and actually contribute to society.

Thursday, February 8, 2018

Movies with Velociraptor Hands: Dirty Dancing, Part 2

Read Part 1 here

All right dudes and duderinas, it's time for our discussion of the seminal film, Dirty Dancing, (aka the many poorly organized stream-of-consciousness notes I took while watching the movie) to truly begin.

Btw I just looked up "seminal" to make sure I was using it right and I totally was:

I am, of course, referring to the second definition.

Without any further ado, let the stream of consciousness ramblings begin!

-Baby does a voice-over at the beginning of the movie and I don’t think it ever comes back. Is that normal, to be like, “This is gonna be a movie with voice-over narration” for the first minute, and then just go, “Haha, psyyyche bitchesss, no voice-over for you!”

-“I’d be standing here dead.” No you fucking wouldn’t, guy, dead people can’t stand up. That’s like one of the core aspects of being dead, not being able to stand anymore.

-During dance class Penny says, “God wouldn’t have given you maracas if he didn’t want you to shake ’em” to a room of women in reference to their breasts, and I wanna know how that’s not sexual harassment.

-In Johnny Castle’s first appearance he’s wearing sunglasses at night, carrying his leather jacket over his shoulder, and holding a large sign that says “BAD BOY” with his other hand. (Okay maybe not the last one, but he may as well have.)

-I love how the manager of the hotel treats his dance teachers like they’re these hard criminals or something. They’re dance teachers. At a fucking summer camp for adults in the Catskills.

-Johnny tells Robbie the waiter to “put your pickle on everybody’s plate and leave the hard stuff to me” and I can't even choose a dick joke to make, there are just too many options. Also what sort of resort is this where everyone gets a pickle on their plate? Is that really a thing? That sounds awesome, sign me up for that.

-The hotel manager’s bitch of a grandson is gonna have a shitty career ahead of him if he really thinks the dance teachers “showing off for each other” isn’t going to sell lessons.

-Johnny’s nose is in his dance partner’s crotch at one point. Their platonic friendship is a strange one.

-Bitch Boy, as the hotel manager’s grandson shall now be known, tells Baby, “I love to watch your hair blowing in the breeze” when there is seriously zero breeze. Fuck this guy.

-I have never seen people in real life now dance as much like they're about to bone as the hotel staff at this party in 1963.

And on that wholesome note we'll end for today. Join me next time for my groundbreaking observations about dance montages.

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Movies with Velociraptor Hands: Dirty Dancing, Part 1

Heya Velocininjas and Velocininjettes! You might’ve noticed that I’ve been blogging a lot more regularly lately, and even managed to do a few posts that aren’t Short Post and a Song posts. 

That is partly because I recently finished editing my novel Viable for the final time and am taking a break before I start editing/rewriting my (very) rough draft of Rebel, the second book in the Renaissance Experiment trilogy. Normally I would waste all that time and writerly energy making stupid jokes on Twitter, but I’m taking a break from that to work on self-publishing Viable. In the meantime the blog gets to endure my attempts at comedy instead.

Also yeah, don’t think I’ve mentioned yet, but I’m going to be self-publishing Viable in the very near future. In fact it’s being formatted this very second (unless you’re reading this a long time from now). Navigating the self-publishing process has been fun and tedious and exciting and frustrating and fascinating. It’s definitely been both complicated and time-consuming, but overall it's still been much easier and more manageable than I initially assumed.

As part of my break from working on The Renaissance Experiment trilogy, I decided to rewatch the film Dirty Dancing. I had not seen Dirty Dancing since high school, but had seen it many, many times between the ages of ten and sixteen. 

I fucking loved that movie. I grew up doing various forms of dance and therefore tended to appreciate dance movies more than your average person. I was also completely in love with Patrick Swayze, which I don’t think requires any explanation.

In the intervening years between high school and now I’ve had many people tell me what terrible, terrible, very bad, godawful film Dirty Dancing is. The dialogue is garbage and no one acts like real people. There’s no story aside from Baby and Johnny dancing at this hotel one time, a girl getting an abortion, and Baby and Johnny dancing at a different hotel this other time.

In general folks whose opinions I trusted found this movie I’d grown up adoring to be a heap of overly cheesy bullshit.

So I rewatched the movie for the first time in thirteen years to see if the film held up. I took several notes while watching, hoping I’d be able to structure them into a blog post of some sort.

But alas I am a lazy fuck who doesn’t feel like doing that now, so instead I’m just going to just transcribe my notes as I wrote them. It’ll basically be like I’m live-tweeting the movie, only it won’t be live and this isn’t Twitter. I took kind of a lot of notes, so I’ll also split this up into a few different posts. So, again, another way that this won’t be like live-tweeting at all. It was a bad comparison, I apologize.

See you all next time for Part 2 in the epic saga of me watching Dirty Dancing for the first time since high school!

Sunday, February 4, 2018

Short Post and a Song #148: Gillian is Black Mirror's Barb, I guess

[watching the end credits of the Star Trek episode of Black Mirror with Danfleet]

Capdan Picard: (at screen) But what about Gillian?? SHE WAS IN MARKETING


"Quarter Chicken Dark" by Yo-Yo Ma, Stuart Duncan, Edgar Meyer, and Chris Thile

I've always had a soft spot for string instruments, and play one of them (guitar, badly). Two actually if you include piano, but piano's kind of a weird percussion/string half-breed monstrosity that neither instrument family wants to claim as its own, so I'm not sure it counts. Recently I discovered this album of four of the best string musicians in the world playing together exists and got pretty damn excited about it. 

I don't know what musical genre this song/jam session falls into, but whatever it is rocks so very, very hard. Getting off to a fun and groovy start these guys take you through a fucking roller coaster ride, getting softer and slower, then faster and louder, playing around with the original melody in the laid-back and playful way only truly skilled musicians can. Chris Thile, the mandolinist, also has a cover of "Heart in a Cage" by The Strokes that I highly recommend.

Sunday, January 28, 2018

Short Post and a Song #147: Here make yourself a belt, guy

Dan Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest recently ordered a belt on Amazon, and we were both pretty surprised by what he received:

I never thought the phrase "some assembly required" would apply to a belt, but I stand corrected.


"Brain Stew" by Green Day

I have two sisters who are a bit older than I am (by four years and six years, respectively), and what that tended to mean growing up was that I got into quite a few books/movies/albums at an earlier age than appropriate. So I remember a distinct period in my early childhood where my Walkman alternated between Dookie, Insomniac, and a set of ten different "Best of the 50s" cassettes. ...It was a weird time.

Nowadays I still love early Green Day. It takes me back to my teenage angst, despite the fact that I originally listened to it as an angtsy eight-year-old. When I'm writing a scene where a character feels trapped, or angry, or both at once (aka my protagonist for most of Viable), I usually end up putting on "Brain Stew" to get myself in the right state of mind. There's something mad and desperate about the song that kinda makes me think of the brainwashy aspects of A Clockwork Orange