An edited version was published in the April 2, 2005 edition of College of Southern Nevada’s Coyote Press.
What if I told you that there’s a song on Top 40 radio dedicated to our humble town?
“Somebody told me/that you had a boyfriend/that looked like a girlfriend/that I had in February of last year.”
Who hasn’t dated someone in Vegas that didn’t look androgynous? If so, send them my digits.
The Killers – made up of lead singer/keyboardist Brandon Flowers, guitarist David Keuning, bassist Mark Stoermer, and percussionist Ronnie Vannucci – became an outfit after Flowers answered a newspaper ad by Keuning in the Las Vegas Weekly. The name comes from the bass drum set of the 2001 “Crystal” video by New Order (directed by Sophie Muller, who in turn directed “Mr. Brightside”, the second single from their debut album, “Hot Fuss”).
How Vegas is this band? Flowers worked as a bellhop at the Gold Coast, Keuning (the only non-Vegas native, having moved here from Pella, Iowa in 2000, but we’ll overlook that) worked at the Banana Republic, Stoermer shuffled body parts as a medical courier, and Vannucci was a photographer at the Little Chapel of Flowers (yeah, the same one Britney Spears put on the map last New Year’s Eve). As it was, they were heard by Lizard King, a UK-based indie record label, and they subsequently toured in support of “Somebody Told Me” and the UK version of “Hot Fuss.” Island/Def Jam released the US version of “Hot Fuss” with “Change Your Mind” in place of “Indie Rock ‘n’ Roll.”
“Hot Fuss” opens with “Jenny Was a Friend of Mine,” the perfect opener to an even better album. “Jenny” is one part of the murder mystery trilogy with “Midnight Show” and the currently unreleased “Bourbon on the Shelf” rounding out the three. The two tracks that did end up on “Hot Fuss” give you some insight as to what exactly the mystery is. It’s obvious how true to their influences the band succeed when listening to “Hot Fuss” the first time around. You can hear the shameless ghosts of Morrissey (in “Smile Like You Mean It”, rumored to be the third single), Duran Duran, New Order, The Cars, and 80s rock bands.
I decided to do a double feature of the original Mystery of the Wax Museum and its 50s remake, House of Wax.
Mystery is a fun 30s romp… on the surface. It was a suspenseful thriller, and it hooks you from the first punch to Igor’s face. I liked the pacing. It didn’t fill up the time with useless backstory, or filler montage scenes like we expect in modern films. It was just go go go. I think that’s what I appreciate about movies back in the day. They didn’t waste anyone’s time with nonsense. Michael Curtiz was a masterful director, later directing Casablanca and Mildred Pierce, among many others.
Igor’s backstory reminded me of the Pygmalion myth, where the creator falls in love with his creation. You could say Mystery takes the Pygmalion myth further, when he takes a human being devoid of humanity, and turns them into creatures (the judge into Voltaire, Joan Gale into St. Joan of Arc). I love exploring the idea that humanity is controlled and harnessed to live forever in art.
What is unique about the film is the power the women hold. The villains from Mystery fall into the same gender slots: Igor is horribly disfigured, and wax is the only thing preserving the appearance of humanity. Professor Darcy is a junkie and follows Igor’s directives because he is guaranteed his next fix. Drugs are bad m’kay? Hugo is a deaf-mute and must follow his master’s orders or be cast out in the dark. I love that dynamic. He’s guaranteed room and board, so long as he keeps Igor’s macabre secret. No one would question Hugo, and no one would go so far as to harbor a deaf-mute back in those days. The autonomy of the villains is fascinating, and probably not thought of much.
The affections of Joe Worth – the millionaire playboy suspected of murdering Joan Gale – change as soon as he meets Florence. Which brings me to my next point. I felt the way that Florence’s love life played out was poor. She establishes her goals in life quite early in the film that she’s all about being a legit reporter and having fun, and if she’s gonna marry, she’s gonna marry for money. She interviews Worth in jail and dazzles him. She’s a sassy broad, and he wants to strap on the old ball and chain and marry her within 24 hours of their initial meeting.
Of course, my feminist lens became further blurred with annoyance when her editor-in-chief’s final directive was “act like a lady and marry me.” Rude. He spent the whole film maligning her work, going as far as to fire her for lack of good stories. He spends the whole movie telling her she wasn’t good enough. The moment she shows her mettle, then he goes, “oh a worthy opponent. She should be my wife!” She shoves aside Worth – a guy guaranteed to take care of her and genuinely love her without any pretension – in favor of the editor. It’s technically a Pre-Code film, so I’m a little off-put by the happily ever after we Americans are so famous for. I only like HEAs if they make sense. She should’ve married for money, that’s all I’m saying. At least she could continue being a reporter. She wouldn’t have to worry about financing her lifestyle. Yes, I know I am looking at this with a modern lens but I want to believe.
It’s technically a lost film, and the print that is being distributed now is a poor man’s copy of the original Technicolor. There were some parts of the film where the Technicolor saturation was mastered terribly, as has been noted by other reviews and on Wikipedia. Of course, that’s the copy I have since I have the bundled version of Mystery and House. It’s okay. Some of the colors are a bit jarring but doesn’t detract all that much. It only becomes an annoyance when you know to look for it.
House of Wax follows the original plot of Mystery with some slight changes. I don’t wish to dwell too much on that aspect. I preferred Mystery over House, to be honest.
I caught the opening credits where it said it was mastered for 3-D. Apparently, when it was first released, it was the first successful 3-D picture. Fascinating. You can always tell when a movie slathers on the 3-D. I was like, “why is this annoying guy with the paddle ball breaking the third wall right now?” Then my brain looped my thoughts together: his character was meant to be seen in 3-D. How exciting it must’ve been to see that in a theater. I personally and professionally hate 3-D. You might as well give the people Smellovision. But this movie came out in 1953. The novelty must’ve made for a fun theater-going experience.
I loved Vincent Price’s performance as Professor Jarrod. I think he carries the picture. The evolution of his character was fun to see play out too. He embraces the horror that he has to live with every day. I’m glad Mr. Wallace called him out on it. I would definitely think something was amiss if an artist changed his point of view so rapidly like that. I kept looking at Igor and tried to place him every time he came onscreen. I finally had to look it up. He was played by Charles Bronson!! That was hilarious to me. You can’t forget that chin.
I think the cops in this film were more believable than Mystery, however. I will give it that. They actually did detective work, rather than having a newspaper lady character to kick rocks. I was thoroughly annoyed by the vapid Cathy character. I did feel bad that she had to die in that manner to become Joan of Arc though.
From the feminist side, you can clearly see who owns this version of the story. That’s right; THE MEN. Pfft. They dominate this story. I didn’t feel anything for Sue even though she was a huge part of the story moving forward. She was relegated to an even lesser status than Florence. At least Florence was brassy enough to keep making noise. Sue was diminished to the point where her fears were merely troublesome for the men in charge because she was a lady.
The difference between Sue and Florence is that Florence didn’t let her gender stop her. She kept busting balls. For Florence, she had something to prove to everyone. Sue cried from the grief of losing Cathy the whole time, and the men only kicked rocks to shut her up. There was a part of me that hoped House would truly become a horror picture and refuse the happily ever after for Sue. I had no sympathy for her and hoped she would die. You can see how the Production Code had a huge influence on movies. Remember that only 20 years elapsed between Mystery and House.
Maybe that’s why they remade it: to remind women of their place in a horror picture.
Rating: PG. Category: Suspense. Summary: A happy-go-lucky woman with political roots and a near-genius brain joins OST. Timeline: Mid-season 2. Disclaimer: The Agency characters belong to their respective entities. Made-ups are mine and mine alone.
Maria Sieber was an internal, cerebral person. From a young age, she was taking apart the family vacuum cleaner and putting it back together in a matter of hours. She loved seeing how things worked. She loved manipulating machines and was gifted with the knowledge on how to program and use the family VCR with no trouble at all. Somehow, none of this impressed her father, who had had political aspirations since before she was born. He felt that little girls shouldn’t be cooped up in their houses on their computers in their spare time. Girls should be girls, he always said. Maria never let him down in school though; she was a B student with above-average intelligence. But her choice of extra-curricular activities exasperated him to no end. And for that, Maria always felt like the black sheep in the family.
Instead of driving into the city to drop off only 70 pages of thesis work, I decided to go to the De Young Museum at Golden Gate Park as well. It’s down the street from my school. As I do, I got lost trying to find the parking garage. Just once, I’d like to drive somewhere and know where I’m going.
But let’s be real, I do enjoy getting lost. Once I make a mistake, I learn from it immediately. I got there around noon or so. I didn’t eat breakfast so I ate at their cafe. I had a turkey sandwich, chips, Coke and a chocolate croissant for dessert. I’m still dreaming about that croissant, it was so good.
It was a great experience, and I tried to get through as much as I could, and I know I missed a lot. The Ed Ruscha and the American West exhibit was inspiring. He’s inspired greatly by road trips through the Mojave Desert. I saw that we shared a lot of influences as well, the main one being Jack Kerouac’s On the Road. I had to laugh, as though we were in on a private joke. I guess I’m as obsessed with it as I am because I want to have written it.
I want to use 1 of Ruscha’s photos for the book cover to “Last Exit to Vegas.” I would’ve purchased the exhibition catalog but it was a bit pricey. I plan to buy the books he’s done individually.
Pokémon came out when I was in high school. I wasn’t the target audience. But I was drawn to the characters, the monsters that fit in my pocket, and the adventures and hijinks they got into together every day.
A cynical person will say that cartoons are meant for kids. But a great cartoon brings joy to anyone who watches it and teaches you something new about yourself.
With the surge of popularity – and my devoted attention to the mobile game Pokémon Go – I began to look deeper at the stories the show was trying to tell. I’ve gained a deeper appreciation in my old age (ha!) for those ideas and thoughts that I walked away from after the first season because I had moved onto the next big thing.
Bad guys get what’s coming to them, even if they’re persistent.
2. Sometimes, you don’t know your own strength and that’s okay.
3. There’s always something going on that you can participate in. Like the Pokémon Sumo Conference in Rikishii Town, Johto.
4. It takes some time to find your place in life but look at it from a different view and you’ll find it.
5. Your journey is always “to be continued.”
6. Never give up, never surrender.
7. Never underestimate a great meal with friends.
8. You can’t win ‘em all but you can have fun and have memorable adventures while doing it.
9. You can learn something from everyone you meet.
10. Use your skills for good.
11. You might not like aspects of your job but you still have a job to do.
Did you have a cartoon or anime from your childhood where you learned something about yourself? Let me know in the comments.
Baby Driver was a beautiful film. I felt emotionally satisfied leaving the theater.
If you haven’t seen Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, Hot Fuzz, or Shaun of the Dead, you’ll enjoy this movie for what it is. But there are hallmarks of Wright’s filmmaking that stand out, and fans of his will notice right away.
The opening scene of Baby getting the coffees was beat-for-beat the same as Shaun‘s opening. The pop culture-centric soundtrack. And although it shares the same pace and visual techniques that Wright is known for, it had this crisp Atlanta sheen to it. It was refreshing how Wright’s movies embrace their environment.
I’ve always enjoyed how Wright will slow down a scene as needed. It’s all very high energy and cylinders are firing all over the place, especially in the scenes where they’re discussing the next heist. But then, it slows down when it needs to without losing the pace. This is particularly true with the development of Baby and Debora’s relationship from their meet-cute to whatever end you think they deserve. I like how ambiguous that ending was.
That said, I thought the relationship between Baby and Debora felt… rushed? Which works for the movie, because she became one of the reasons why he wanted to go straight. But, I don’t know. It felt odd to me. She pours her heart out to Baby when we first meet her. Maybe they established that he comes in a lot. I may have missed that. If so, wouldn’t she know of him, even in passing if she’d been working there a long time?
I guess I’m used to deep-seated relationships in Wright’s movies. Definitely a hallmark. Somehow, everybody knows everybody before we meet them in the film (Scott/Envy). They’re all connected, whether they’ve dated (Ramona and her exes), or they’ve known each other since university (Shaun/Ed/Pete). There are no double lives being led. One crisp line of dialogue and you know how far back their relationship goes, and how much it sucks, and you’re sold on whatever Wright’s selling you as the scene plays out.
And that’s literally the only criticism I have. Every performance was on point: Kevin Spacey as Doc, Jon Hamm as Buddy, Eiza González as Darling, and Jamie Foxx as Bats. Even Jon Bernthal’s cameo as Griff was great. Brogan Hall as Samm was a welcome respite from the tension in the movie.
If this movie isn’t nominated for Best Sound Editing, there’s no justice in the world. Everything is set to music, even the firing of the guns. I don’t think anyone has ever done that before. Just when you think you can’t innovate the way movies are made, someone like Wright comes around and is like, “yo, I gotchu fam.”
This is a great addition to the canon of heist films. It’s fun, it’s got heart, it’s action-packed. It’s a great summer movie.
Rating: PG-13 Category: Humor/Action. Summary: The Agency’s latest project causes some unusual results. Timeline: Season 3. Disclaimer: The Invisible Man characters belong to their respective entities. Made-ups are mine and mine alone.
Darien Fawkes approached the Keeper’s lab in search of another discussion on getting the gland out of his brain.
“Claire? Hey, Keep, ya in here?” Darien called. It was a literal ghost town in the Keep. “That’s strange.”
He began asking around to no avail. Finally, he was able to get the slightest hint from Eberts. Apparently she was working on a “top secret” project for the Agency and would be unavailable until the end of the week.
Olivia Joules is a freelance journalist for the Sunday Times. She has been asked by her editor to cover a fabulous Hollywood makeup line launch party. While there, she ends up catching the eye of the sexy Pierre Feramo, who may or may not be an Al-Qaeda terrorist. What follows is her adventures around the world. She pursues hunches and leads on the pretense of working when really, she wants to know more about Feramo.
She is eventually recruited by MI6 for a mission of utmost importance. Her adventures were presented very much like a modern-day James Bond. Not quite as exciting as saying something Sydney Bristow would’ve found herself in, but I shall leave it at that.
Olivia is a more fully functioning human being, having had to grow up at a very young age due to a family tragedy – unlike Bridget Jones, Ms. Fielding’s most famous heroine, who seemed to make stumbling through her thirties endearing. Not that Olivia was unlikable, but she was more mature than the featherhead Bridget.
She spoke many languages and could get herself out of messes without freaking out too much. Olivia took control of what was otherwise a boring life that was set for her at birth, and made herself over, beginning with her name. That’s right; Olivia Joules isn’t even her real name, and again, I shall leave it at that.
I almost felt like something was missing throughout the story. Like she could’ve been fleshed out more. Or perhaps it’s because even without formal spook training, Olivia knew what she was doing, which probably added to my overall confusion about the character. I find that very hard to believe she knew EXACTLY what she was doing, even though Ms. Fielding seeded in how the Olivia alias came to be.
She was well-traveled for a young woman, street smart, always had her wits about her, even when her internal voice was freaking out about the situation on hand at that moment. Somehow she was never shot at or grievously injured, considering the danger she consistently put herself through. On purpose. Several times I found myself asking, “Olivia, seriously, quit pursuing Feramo! You’re going to get yourself killed!” But she had some guardians on this adventure who made sure she wasn’t harmed.
The ending is definitely a Hollywood one, including the romance with the smokin’ hot CIA agent, Morton C.
I enjoyed the book, and it was a welcome diversion from my reality. Ms. Fielding wrote it with the intention to make light of the September 11th attacks, but not in a bad way. Why couldn’t a woman be able to get in the fray, kick some ass in her own non-threatening way, and save the world?
That is essentially the heart of Olivia Joules: women can do everything a man can do, but better.