March 4, 2008
The other day I was talking about something from my early childhood – I don’t remember what it was – and I absentmindedly added, “Yeah, that was probably 20 years ago.” Twenty years.
It feels weird to be able to vividly remember something that happened 20 years ago. I was at my cousins’, watching in terrified awe as they jumped from the third step of their staircase to the carpet miles below. I was sitting on the back of Mom’s bike, soaring through the Duck Creek Greenbelt in the early morning with the lingering taste of Raisin Bran still on my lips. I was filling a lapse between Super Mario Bros. and Gyromite by watching Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. I was living on Sycamore in Garland, falling asleep in my firetruck bunk bed to Dad gently singing House at Pooh Corner.
Twenty years ago.
I don’t feel like I have twenty years’ worth of memories to pull from. But, I can’t think of another span of time that sounds more appropriate. It just feels strange to have my conscious existence summed up so concisely. To me, it wasn’t twenty years ago, it was at the beginning. The beginning of me. The beginning of everything.
That period in my life doesn’t move, but it keeps getting further away. I will always have been four years old in March 1988, but not so long ago that was 15 years ago. Not so long ago, it was 10 years. Not so long ago, it was last week.
I can still taste the Raisin Bran.
February 20, 2007
“The Final Countdown” by Swedish mega-band Europe is one of my favorite albums of all time. I will, however, not follow that statement up with, “…because it is one of the best albums ever released.” Because it isn’t. In fact, it’s not even close. It is a lame album. I’ll be the first to admit it. It is lame, and it reeks of ’80s cheese. And therein lies it’s brilliance.
There is something terribly nostalgic about ’80s music to me. Though I was barely 6 when the ’80s came to a horrific end, it still brings back memories of childhood. And “The Final Countdown” is the epitome of ’80s hair metal awesomeness.
It’s a really strange phenomenon. I can’t explain how I realize and agree that ’80s rock (or ’80s music in general) is cheesy and lame, yet I still absolutely love it. It doesn’t make any sense to me. But, when I listen to Europe belting out their tribute to Ninjas, or Cherokee Indians in that unmistakable ’80s soprano style, backed up by the classic guitar shredding like only the golden decade could produce, it makes me smile like no other music can. I’m half laughing at it, half smiling, because I’m thoroughly entertained.
’80s culture in general has that effect on me. I know it’s lame. I know it’s not an era that most people look back on as the height of modern culture. I laugh at it as I embrace it. That’s probably the way most people feel about the era that they grew up in. They shake their heads at it, wondering what they were thinking. But, they still smile at it, thinking back with fond memories.
Back to my original point, though. “The Final Countdown” should be experienced by everyone at least once. It is an event that will not be soon forgotten. I do it every so often to rejuvenate my chi. This mornings revisitation is what sparked this little post.
Long live Joey Tempest.
January 18, 2007
I have, ladies and gentleladies, reached a new level of humanity which few, if any, will ever have the joy of sharing with me. I have achieved a goal that I never thought possible by any mere mortal. Brace yourselves, but I have, as of this weekend, now seen two movies with the word “Labyrinth” in the title Please suspend your disbelief for a moment, and allow me to explain.
I was able to achieve this incomprehensible feat, simply enough, by sitting down to watch Guillermo del Toro’s latest, “Pan’s Labyrinth” with a group of friends Saturday night. The other movie that was required to fulfill the strict demands of such bragging rights would, of course, be the 1986 epic, “Labyrinth”. I thought I would celebrate this historic event by comparing the two movies, and declaring a final victor after rating them in five different categories. These meticulously picked, catastrophically significant categories would be 1)Visual Appeal; 2) Musical Appeal 3) Morality 4) Fantasticality and 5) Use of the word “Labyrinth.” So, without further ado, I give you…
1) Visual Appeal
This is a pretty tough call, because both movies are very visually lush in their own particular ways. “Labyrinth” has that Jim Henson charm that’s hard to resist. It has a very dark, earthy look throughout, and of course the characters are strange and varied. Also, Jennifer Connelly. But, as dark as “Labyrinth” is, “Pan’s Labyrinth,” is even darker still. And while the variety and sheer number of creatures in Pan’s Labyrinth is much smaller, the art direction is much more appealing. It’s creepier, inspired, and more intricate. As much as I love the trademark Jim Henson look, I’m going to have to give this one to Pan.
Winner: Pan’s Labyrinth
“Pan’s Labyrinth” had a great score that accented the atmosphere of the movie extremely well. It was dark and haunting, yet it also had a softer, gentler side. Unfortunately, “Labyrinth” has two things that just blow “Pan” clean away. David. Bowie. I can really think of nothing more to say to argue this point. If you aren’t convinced, then watch this clip and believe.
What’s a good Labyrinth movie without a solid moral underlining? It’s crap. That’s what. Fortunately, both of these two films lived up to the moral depth implied by their titles. “Pan’s Labyrinth” is a story about the journey to adulthood, the power of imagination and lisping your “S”s. And don’t you forget it. As all true Spaniards would agree, the film is actually called “Pan’th Labrintthh”. If even the hint of a hiss escapes your lips, excommunication from the entire human race will swiftly follow in it’s foot steps. “Labyrinth,” similarly, is a story of growing up and finding your true self, yet not completely discarding the things from one’s childhood. All of these moral concepts are, of course, tagged on to the standard, typical morals present in every “labyrinth” themed movie. “Don’t get lost in life,” “Always expect the unexpected,” and “The “Y” is silent.” Though the themes of both movies can be seen as very similar on a very basic level, “Labyrinth” pulls ahead in this one due to it’s inclusion of the vital, “Don’t eat peaches from strangers (ie 80s Pop Star Goblin Kings)”
Let’s answer this one by looking at some key fantastic elements from each film, starting with “Pan’s Labyrinth.” Fairies, ancient underground kingdoms, magical books, a faun, giant tree-killing toads, a freaky flesh-eating, sees-with-its-hands, pale-as-Michael-Jackson thing, and the Spanish Civil War. Impressive line-up, no doubt. How could “Labyrinth” hope to top such a film? How about with goblins, fairies, dwarves, talking animals, the bog of eternal stench, talking door knockers, dancing and singing creatures with detachable limbs, and Jennifer Connelly? That’s how! Unfortunately, “Labyrinth” loses points for putting David Bowie in the role of the goblin king, which, as we all know, is 100% accurate. Pan wins by a hair.
Winner: Pan’s Labyrinth
5) Use of the word “Labyrinth”
The deciding category is also unarguably the most important. “Labyrinth” uses the word labyrinth exactly 25 times. Or rather, I can remember something like 25 times that the word was used, but I haven’t seen this movie in probably five years. But, every single one of those instances of the word was immaculately fitting to the best of my memory. “Pan’s Labyrinth,” on the other hand, is in Spanish and the Spanish word for labyrinth is “laberinto.” Lame, Panny boy. Lame indeed. You’re called “Pan’s Labyrinth,” yet you don’t even use the word once in the entire film. Sure, they say “laberinto” every now and then, but I don’t care. And as if that isn’t enough, there’s not even a friggin’ character named Pan in the entire movie. They don’t even vaguely elude to anyone named Pan. There’s no Peter Pan peanut butter, pan flutes, or cooking pans either. They even went so far as to have nobody in the movie wears pants, because it sounds too much like “Pan’s” This one’s a no-brainer.
Clear winner: Labyrinth
It looks like we have a winner. Not that anyone should be surprised by the outcome. “Labyrinth” is clearly the superior movie, and I have just proven it. Mathematically. Still, “Pan’s Labyrinth” is certainly nothing to scoff at. It’s a fascinating movie in its own right and definitely worth seeing. But, in the end, nothing can stand against Henson and Bowie, the collaboration that defied time and space. Heck, I still can’t believe this one got made. But, “got made” it did. And the world hasn’t quite been the same since. “Labyrinth,” my hat’s off to you.
So much for shorter posts.