Sunday, June 28, 2009

Was I Wrong?

I am a contributor to the eHow website, which is a place where people can share tips on aspects of life that they are expert at. (FYI, my eHow name is "jenniebrown".) I added two articles this evening (after not posting since December of last year), and then, out of curiosity, searched the site for "Michael Jackson". (No, the site did not freeze afterwards.)

Not surprisingly, I found articles titled "How to Mourn the Death of Michael Jackson" and "How to Think of Michael Jackson" and "How to Deal with Michael Jackson's Death", etc. This one stood out: "How to Not Care That Michael Jackson Died" (find it here).

The author, "edieness", takes a highly skeptical point of view about Michael Jackson, the person behind the "King of Pop". She includes some jokes which are not -- how do I put this -- tasteful, but then again humor is not BFF with good taste.

I thought "edieness" was interesting, even gutsy, because she went against the grain of the mostly reverent Michael Jackson coverage that is pouring out of major news outlets like water from a neglected faucet. I was so impressed that I went to Twitter and called it to everyone's attention.

Seconds later, regret crashed between my eyebrows like a tiny silver hammer.

Was I mean by "passing on" a not-so-nice article about a celebrity who died only a few days ago?

But who was I mean to?

Michael Jackson?

No matter what you believe about the afterlife, it's unlikely that he cares now.

Michael Jackson's fans?

They would not likely read an article with that title, anyway, and if they did it would not change their minds.

The records of the Jackson Five were some of the first that I had ever listened to. I paid attention to the Jacksons throughout the 1970s, and listened to "Thriller" over and over again. No one can say that Michael Jackson is not one of the most important artists in popular music. No one can listen to one of his hits without recognition, if not tapping one's feet.

No one can say that he was not also an extremely troubled individual whose interactions with children were sometimes dubious. No one can say that some unpleasant truths are not about to come to light.

Must we be unswervingly reverent to people just because they die? Must we keep our opinions locked behind our teeth, or hovering at the edge of our fingertips, because you're just not supposed to speak ill of the dead?

I don't think so.

As writers, artists, and thinkers, we must not be afraid to express ourselves, as long as we are not gratuitously cruel to the innocent. We must not be afraid that some people won't like us for what we say. To try to please everyone is to turn yourself into tasteless mush - and it's impossible anyways. Don't be afraid to be contrary.

I guess I just answered my own question.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Get Dad Some “Eats Free” This Year

There are no bad apostrophes, just bad typesetting, as shown in this sign at a local restaurant:

Move the apostrophe from “Dads” to “Fathers” and the (grammatical) sun comes out again.

P.S. If you need some good typesetting, please contact your friendly neighborhood (and by neighborhood, I mean Internet) Meandering Mouse.

The Inimitable Magic of Midnight Movies

Last night, Two Dogs and I watched a documentary called Midnight Movies (which is available at Netflix. This doc (based on the eponymous book by Stuart Samuels), takes a close look at six of the most important films of the genre (though far from the only ones): El Topo, Night of the Living Dead, Pink Flamingos, The Harder They Come, The Rocky Horror Picture Show, and Eraserhead.

Of these, I have only seen Rocky Horror, and frankly was not that impressed, except for “Time Warp” and Rocky Horror’s blond hunky goodness. I had never heard of El Topo, thought that The Harder They Come looked like a dull crime drama, am too frightened of Night of the Living Dead (even though it was filmed in Pittsburgh, the big city near me when I was growing up), and am still working up the courage to see Pink Flamingos and Eraserhead. Despite this record, I still love the idea of midnight movies, and harbor hope that they won’t become completely extinct.

Born in the convention-defiant maelstrom of the late 1960s, and living long enough to become all but obsolete in the home video age, midnight movies share these characteristics:

1. Out of the mainstream – way far out;
2. Sexually and/or politically subversive;
3. Packed with weird and disturbing imagery, almost like dreams;
4. Marijuana-friendly

The midnight hour was also an essential ingredient. Larry Jackson, the manager of the Orson Welles Theater in Boston (an early promoter of midnight movies) said, “At 12 o’ clock, a different world of movie-going took place.”

Imagine driving to a big-city or college-town theater at a quarter to midnight, finding a parking space, and then walking to the theater under ghostly street lamps. You won’t see little kids or uptight middle-aged matrons among your fellow movie-goers; they’re people who know, people who dare, people who don’t let Reader’s Digest tell them how to think – people like you.

You buy a popcorn and a drink at the concession stand (that alone is transgressive; snacking after midnight is so naughty), and find a seat in the middle of the theater. You sniff the air, and discover the skunky aroma of pot smoke. Before the lights go down, you notice that the theater itself is a little run-down; the velvet of the curtains is worn-down in spots and the wooden armrests are grooved with amateur carvings. This doesn’t bother you one bit; who wants to see a midnight movie in an antiseptic chain theater?

Darkness closes in on the theater. The mumble of conversation sinks into whispering. The curtain parts with the rattling of pulleys. After a series of coming attraction trailers and lovably cheesy “go-get-some-popcorn-now” ads, up comes the midnight movie. And man, it’s stranger and better than you ever imagined. It turns you over and cracks your head open like an egg. It’s as if the sky had turned bubblegum pink.

Beats sitting at home watching some lame Loretta Young movie on the Late Late Show, no?

What are your favorite midnight movies? Two Dogs wasn’t happy that his favorite, The Song Remains The Same, wasn’t in the documentary. I can also vouch for Freaks, Heavy Metal, and that collection of Beatles shorts that popped up from time to time (Beatles fans, you know what they are). We are keeping our eyes out for the midnight movie experience again, but no more Rocky Horror. BT, DT.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Mr. and Mrs. Mouse Bomb

Along with my various and sundry hats of writer, graphic artist, photographer, and mousewife, I also design T-shirts and other goods for Cafe Press.

I received these two T-shirts a few days ago. I call the design "Mouse Bomb". Two Dogs and a drummer friend came up with the idea in Orange not too long ago -- "The mouse is the bomb." So I designed a bomb-like mouse (a mouse-like bomb?). Here's how the shirts came out:

And the back view:

Small creatures can have a huge impact, no?

You can buy the shirts for yourself at my Mouse Bomb outpost. Be the first on your block to know...the mouse is the bomb.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Mouse in motion

Sorry for the delay in my June blogging, but I have been a mouse in motion. I was laid off from my full-time job late last month. I was a little surprised, for I had been busy all that week. But my mom said to me that big changes were going to happen within the family, and this must be my big change.

I do not see this as a referendum of my worth. I see this as an opportunity to take the next step upward. I am still figuring out what that next step will look like, even as I make "micromovements" (as the artist SARK puts it) every day. All I can do is all I can do.