NaBloPoMo – December 2007

What work of art (film, book, record, whatever) changed your life?

What work of art (film, book, record, whatever) changed your life? The Question of the Day Submitted by bodhibound at VOX.

Films

-Film: Say Anything
It was the first film that I can truly say that I fell in love with John Cusack

-Film: (TV) I don’t Like it here Anymore
A film that starred Talia Shire and Burt (Adrian and Paulie from the Rocky movies) that introduced me to the concept of death and that kids can die if they run out in front of a car…

-Film: (Holiday-TV) Dark Night of the Scarecrow
The first tv-film that truly gave me nightmares. I still find it creepy today as desensitized to gore as I am these days.

-Film: (Holiday) The Amityville Horror
The first film that truly gave me nightmares. I still remember my mother being upset with my aunt for taking us wee ones to it. I also remember finding out that Siskel and Ebert of then “Sneak Previews” said that this was not a film for children and so being a long love affair with the reviews of these two gentlemen, who sadly have been hit by cancer-Gene Siskel succumbing to it and Roger Ebert battling back to it.

I also have to mention Scrooge, starring Albert Finney. The songs in this are plain fun but they also speak to Dickens’ themes more than any other production I have seen.

-Animated Film (US): The Rats of Nimh Don Bluth hit it out of the park with this film that introduced me to the voice at least of John Carradine, David, Keith and Robert’s dad. A story simply told with a mom (albeit a mouse) as the hero and not shown nearly enough. It does justice to the book, which is Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH. When I look back at the animated movies put out by the US that were and are good, this one comes to mind immediately.

-Animated Film (US): The Last Unicorn I saw this recently and it still holds up (though I can see how the soundtrack by the group ‘America’ could get on your nerves if you are not a fan of folk/filk/soft rock). Peter Beagle, the author of the story the movie is based on, did the script and it works well alongside of the compelling imagery. This was one of if not the best of Rankin-Bass’s fantasy output (those guys who were responsible for the holiday cartoons that we skewer every year along with things like the Thundercats, which a work like The Last Unicorn foreshadows a bit as a signal for the direction this company takes in the stories it decides to tell-less holiday and music groups and more fantasy and action). This is the other film I hold up when I say that there were some good animation of the 80s from the US. I always remembered one of the themes of this movie, which is that people see what they want to see and not what is really there. I’ve been better about seeing what is there.

-Animated Film (Japan): The Wings of Honnemaise
I saw this as a young adult. It was made in the 80s and had a lot to say about faith and science. People generally cite “Akira” as the great Japanese animated film of the 80s, but I think that people should look at this one too.

I also have to mention here the Robotech series as it is known in the US. There had been other Japanese imports before and since but if there was ever one that could play with the big dogs in terms of sweeping tv miniseries epics, it’s this one. More mature than anything shown on broadcast tv at the time and somewhat since, this series focused not just on the battle and good vs evil but on all the thorny issues that foreshadowed the writing on series like Firefly, some episodes of Star Trek: DS9, and the rebooted Battlestar Galactica.

One of the biggest strengths of the writing in this series are the little moments. To this day, one of my favorite scenes is when soldier Scott Bernard blushes as he zips up the dress of the beautiful and quiet Marlena 2.0 (she was given the name Marlena after his dead fiancee when she was found. She later turns out to be an alien and one of the enemy and her name is Ariel-aren’t they all named Ariel?) in a sequence that leads up to what becomes a romantic outing for two of the last people that you’d suspect would be attracted to each other.

 

 

I suppose I could take time to talk about what I have listened to of late-waking up with the Everett fire and going to bed to the Omaha massacre, listening to ON POINT archives and noting that Tom Ashbrook foreshadowed his current health situation. Immediate on my mind though are soaps.

Anyone who really knows me is familar with the fact that for all that I am quite the intellect and at home at dry knowledge and that I cut my teeth on soaps. My mother watched them when I was young and well, I watched them on and off during school and then never looked back once I hit college.

The first soaps I cut my teeth on were All My Children and Another World (I thought my mother had something of a love for the “A’s” until I saw that we also watched Days of Ours Lives, The Edge of Night, Ryan’s Hope and Love of Life.)

My “first run memories” (meaning that I watched it when it was on and not as a rerun or as a part of the increasingly lame retrospective/compilation shows that networks have resorted to since 2000 to fill programming needs) are definitely of All My Children. Erica Kane and I go back. I remember when she was married to Tom Cudahy and I did at the age of 2.75 see the infamous episode when he finds out that Erica was taking birth control pills and that’s why they weren’t having babies and he kicked her out of the house. I remember most from that two things:

A) The dialogue: (with admitted paraphrasing-c’mon I was almost 3)
Erica: where do I go?
Tom: I don’t give damn where you go!

When I first saw “Gone With the Wind” on tv, I couldn’t remember why the ending dialogue of Scarlett and Rhett seemed so familiar. When I was a teen, I put it all together.

B) Up to that moment, I had never seen a person be that furious on tv or real life. I think I may have asked if he was going to hit her.

Yeah, back in the days when it was okay to play with wooden toys that had wire parts and to eat peanut butter in everything.

I was with Erica for the most part through marriages 3-present (although she and Jack are divorced for now), through the drug addiction, the loss of mother Mona (not too long before the loss of my own), the jail term, Bianca’s coming out, the roller coaster marriages to Adam and Dmitri, the arrival of Kendall (the Sarah Michelle Gellar version), the bear incident, Charlie 1.0 where Ruth Martin in Stephanie Forrester style asks Erica how many generations of the men in her family was she going to go through and her last wedding (so far) with Jack where all of her children were present.

Now I have a hard time watching the show simply because everyone looks a like on the show. I can make out Erica’s daughters, Kendall and Bianca and sometimes I pick up Josh Madden (Erica’s son by her first ever husband Jeff Martin who was conceived apparently in a manner that led me to call such things the soapdish rewrite. Info dump: “Soapdish” was a movie in the 90s that starred Sally Field, Whoopi Goldberg, Kevin Kline, Elisabeth Shue and Robert Downey, Jr. that spoofed the soaps. The scene that was played forever in the movie trailer was of Whoopi as Rose the head writer and Robert as the producer having a difference of opinion about how to reintroduce Kevin Kline’s character, since he was killed off in an accident that decapitated him. Robert apparently felt that saying that a groundbreaking surgery where they reattached the head would take care of it while Whoopi, speaking for all of those who have common sense kept saying, “but he doesn’t have a head” in frustration to get him to see that this doesn’t make sense. She did the rewrite per Robert’s suggestion because he was the producer but I imagine that there are discussions that take place like that in the real world considering some of the ways retcons and aging and exits and returns are explained.)

I can’t say that I can tell any of the blondes a part. This was once true for me of As The World Turns but I can tell Katie from Carly and now that they killed of Rose (though personally I felt they killed the wrong sister and yes, I know I incurred the wrath of all the ‘Lilden’ fans out there) and some recasts have alleviated the problem with the men although Carly and Jack’s sons Parker and AJ (?) are still a problem with me.

Guiding Light is proof of what happens when you runs a show into a ditch. I don’t listen to it so much anymore. I thought that it did a great thing by writing the storyline with Daisy choosing abortion and exploring the aftermath although that started getting a bit heavy handed. I got sick of the Marina-Cyrus-etc. storylines. The Marina/Cyrus relationship is the type that I wish soaps would stop doing. I never think that it’s romantic to be kidnapped, shot and to place your family in danger-even if the perpetrator is handsome, has a “heart of gold” and “mends his ways” because of the love of a good woman. This is a fantasy and a stupid one.

More egregious is the “if I wait long enough, he’ll mature and we’ll be together…” General Hospital did this with the one character I thought was above that-Robin Scorpio. Robin and I go back to the 80s. She has the dubious distinction of being one of the few characters who has not been aged as well as being played by the same actress that originated the role-Kimberley McCullough. I rather liked Robin and her precociousness and her fearlessness and I was all for her and mobster Jason. Their breakup I thought was one of thse stupid soapdish moves and I am continually irritated that they will not put them back together. Robin came back to Port Charles in ’05 to work in GH and then the writers decided that it would be fun to pair her with Patrick Drake, Noah Drake’s arrogant son. He treated her like crap for months and then they became close-one of the main drivers of this was Patrick’s exposure to HIV and the uncertainty. Then of course he would display behaviour that would remind you why this strategy never works-the “love of a good mature woman to make a man be better”. They finally broke up over the fact that Robin wanted a baby and could with the means today have one as an HIV positive person. He did not want a child. Then they have Robin go off the deep end in trying to find a donor for her father in a way that really make her character look pitiful. (Again running characters and stories into a ditch.).

The Young and The Restless is my “drug of choice” these days. I have always says that it is the best plotted-best written of the soaps with some of the best written characters. Notice I said “some of” for characters because there are some good ones that are languishing on poorly written shows. Robin for the most part, Jason, Sonny and Spinelli on General Hospital for one.

Well, I think I will muse more about soaps later-it’s time for The Young and The Restless.

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