Saturday, March 08, 2008

A penny for my thoughts.

Pennies from heaven, or pennies from... hell?
I've found myself picking up pennies off the street on the way to work recently. I'm not sure why, but I think at some point something in my head clicked, and I reverted back to that fourth grade level of thinking that just sort of goes "hey, free penny!" I mean, it can't hurt, right?

Or, then again, maybe it can. I mean, it's a fairly well known fact that it costs the US government more to make pennies than they are worth. Add to that the fact that you can't really buy anything for one penny. If you think about it, it just might be possible that every time I stop to pick up a penny, I'm actually accumulating debt.

Or, maybe my math is just wrong.

Either that, or picking up pennies is the ultimate Zen activity. A ritual act that has no imediate benefit. But, after many, many year just might pay off. Either way... oh look! A penny!

Stop making cents

As I mentioned several entries ago, I got the Talking Heads' Once in a Lifetime box set for Christmas. The other day I finally got around to throwing the video DVD in and checking out the library of Talking Heads videos on it. In addition to all the old favorites, like Burning Down the House, I saw the video for Blind for the first time.

And, oh what a lost treasure it is! In addition to featuring the creepiest facial distortion special effects this side of Aphex Twin's "Come to Daddy", it also features some inspired sequences involving a slobbering crescent wrench holding a political rally. And, in these seemingly endless days leading up to the election, it just feels oddly timely. So, let's watch it together, shall we?

Citizen Freak

I've also been watching a number of old movies recently. Movies that I really should have seen long ago, and have no real excuse for missing until my 32 year on this planet. I mean, one of them was Citizen Kane, for pete sake!

The funny thing about seeing Citizen Kane is that you go into the movie with so much background. I mean, for one, a large portion of the population considers it the Greatest Movie Ever™. As a result, another almost equally large portion of the Earth's population has deemed it Over-Rated™.

I, being a wishy-washy Washingtonian, have dubbed it Pretty Darned Good™. I mean, it's no Big Trouble In Little China, but I still wish that more movies these days were made like Citizen Kane. I manages to have energy, creativity and visual style without drowning in quick cuts and quirky characters the way most movies with "energy, creativity, and visual style" do today. I think that, in today's world of MTV Editing, more directors could stand to learn from Welles example and dial things back a bit.

For example, look at how much energy this scene has, with comparatively few cuts by todays standards...

Or, maybe, more films just need chorus lines, hollering newsmen and a dancing Orson Welles in them. That's probably it.

Another movie that I really should have seen ages ago was Tod Browning's cult classic Freaks. (And, actually, I've seen several parts of it, but mostly in college and after a half dozen beers.) Freaks is famous (or rather infamous) for starring a cast made up largely of circus freaks. Midgets. Pinheads. Legless men. Armless women.

All of this makes Freaks the type of movie that is difficult to review because its a bit morally complex. And its not complex not because of the movies plot, but instead because it's hard to work out the morals behind it being made, and your own morals for watching it. Is it championing and humanizing the people in it? Or exploiting them for voyeuristic purposes? Am I watching it because its place in cinematic history? Or am I watching it for voyeuristic purposes? Probably a little of both in both cases.

And, I'm almost possible that, if you haven't seen it, you are at least a little curious. Because, face it, you are one of us... one of us.... one of us...

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