Monday, May 31, 2010

Strange Magic

Bing has charisma, and he knows how to use it. And I’m not talking about the vaguely baby seal-ish face he employs when he wants a treat. Nope, this true Aquarian’s got his blue eyes on a way bigger prize—the world in general, and the world of lady cats in particular.

How do I know this? He told the animal communicator that he sees himself as a “matinee idol” (I know, I know, I’ve told this story many times. I don’t know why I persist, because it’s nothing but a conversation stopper) and that he was sure that all the girl cats would fall in love with him when they saw his photograph as it appeared in the 2002 ASPCA calendar. “Oooooh, Mr. November,” I see them purring.

Star quality? Whatever you want to call it, I think it has something to do with going through life imagining/assuming that you are being looked at, that there is an enveloping, admiring gaze on you. You wanna see it in action in human form? Watch the next Yankees game and set your sights on lucky #13.

Though his technique isn’t as refined as Bing’s, A Rod is all over the matinee-idol wannabe thing. The first time I noticed it looked like he was playing for the camera, he actually was. As he was rounding the bases after hitting a home run, he paused ever so slightly at 3rd, turned to face the camera and…did he smile? did he give a thumbs-up? (Oh no, that was Don Johnson, whom I’m hoping my friend Stephanie will tell you about in the comments box…) Anyway, I later saw the same clip of him in some promotional material, and he hasn’t stopped acting like we’re all looking ever since. Well, we are all looking, but he’s so dang obvious I laugh (and fall for it) every time. He’s not only playing the game, he’s playing himself playing the game.

Yes, A Rod is hot sh** and he isn’t about to let us forget it. True charisma, however, is when someone makes you, the viewer, the one doing the looking, the one initiating the gaze, feel like hot sh**. You don’t have to be a famous actor to have charisma, though that’s probably where it gets you the most money…and as such, that’s probably its grossest form. (Gross meaning unrefined here).

I remember walking through Times Square after I’d been country line dancing one night, probably like 10 years ago. I passed by one of the Broadway theaters and noticed someone getting into a limousine, and that person was…looking at me. Looking at ME? Yes, looking at me, as I walked by. Well, why not? I was swaggering by in my cowboy boots, all cat’s meow and hot sh**. Who is that person who thinks I’m the cat’s meow? I’ve seen him, I know him, is he the weatherman from the local news or something, someone you relate to on a half-snoozy level?

No, it was Warren Beatty. And he wasn’t looking at me, I was looking at him, and he was reflecting it right back at me. It’s not like I necessarily liked him either. I mean, I like Shampoo, but never made any further investments.

It was simply that which makes you think you’re greater than anything that can be thought…that old devil, charisma. And I walked on home, a little lighter and brighter than before.

Music for those who’ve got their mojo on
Strange Magic, ELO
It’s Your Voodoo Working, Charles Sheffield

Monday, May 17, 2010

I Lack the Christian Life

I was sitting in the Panera across from the Nashville Convention Center yesterday when the soundtrack in my brain started playing “The Christian Life.”

What’s up with that? I haven’t heard it in awhile, and it’s really not the sort of song you listen to for fun. To even get past the first verse, there has to be this weird line-up of factors: an open heart and a satisfied mind and a buttload of irony, combined with “let me show off my snobby musical taste” and a plastic Mary statue on the dashboard. Oh, and it sounds best when you sing along, badly and loudly, after drinking too much at someone you like’s birthday party.

The version playing in my head was this crazy-good megamix, too. My memory had decided to grab the best bits of the three versions I know, so there was a shot of Louvin Brothers, a fifth of the Byrds, with a little Gram Parsons on lead vocals.

Sure, I'm in Music City and I’d just heard Emmylou Harris speak about how she got started helping shelter dogs (did I explain I was at HSUS Animal Care Expo?), and maybe I was feeling especially prim and proper since the nice woman who served me recommended I get my bagel sliced because it would be more “ladylike.” (How the heck did she know I probably would have pecked at it and pulled it apart like a chicken? No offense to chickens. )

No, it wasn’t any of those things. It was more that the Panera across from the Convention Center happened to be catty-corner to the McKendree United Methodist Church Christian Life Center. I was just an example of the power of suggestion, one of those manipulated bozos who’d probably run and buy a Coke at the movies when they show those subliminal messages on the screen.

Perhaps that’s why I left Panera and wandered past the Ryman Auditorium, straight to the tackiest Elvis-filled souvenir store (YES! quite like a crow finding something shiny) I could find. I purchased the first item that made me laugh out loud. (If you Google “The Slut’s Pen,” you’ll find out where to buy a dozen for 48 bucks.)

And no, I won’t describe it here because, believe it or not, I’m not that kind of girl. Er, blogger.

Music to realign your cosmos
The Christian Life, The Byrds (w/GP singing lead)

Return of the Grievous Angel, Gram Parsons & Emmylou Harris
The ‘calico bonnet’ line makes me think of my cat Paloma, so even if it weren’t for the gorgeous lyrics and harmonies, I’d love this dang song anyway.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

There's Something About Mary

What the heck is the mother of Jesus doing at the Limelight? Well, this pic was snapped circa-1999, so she sure as heck isn’t looking for the latest LeSportsac or nibbling on “mini wedding gateaux made of, yes, candy” at the former Episcopal church’s recent incarnation as a mall. Oh, sorry, they’re calling it a marketplace.

Can we just go back to 1999, when the building on the corner of 20th & 6th was still an old-school (through admittedly drug-peddling) nightclub? That’s not really Mary, but yours truly, posing with a red-tailed boa constrictor named Girlsnake (if you look closely, you can see her laced through my fingers). FYI, she put herself there, it’s not like I tied her or anything…Could you tie a snake in a knot anyway? Talk about an exercise in futility, like trying to stop the world from becoming one big store.

Anyway, I was posing as Mary as part of my friend Michael Cerchiai’s (sometimes Tweaka Turner) art installation. I stood all reverent like that for an hour, which actually flew by. I heard people debating about whether or not I was real or not. “Look at the feet, though,” they said. “They’re too white.”

And, “Ewwww, a snake.”

Alas, I no longer have Girlsnake, or that dress, and Mike has up and moved to San Francisco anyway, so we won’t be doing a repeat performance. Sometimes you just can’t go back.

Music to say your Hail Marys by
Sunday Morning, The Velvet Underground
Sunday morning=church. Limelight=church. Limelight=opening party hosted by Andy Warhol in 1983. Velvets=hosted by Andy Warhol in 1969.

I Believe, The Buzzcocks
Apparently I missed the whole point of this song the first 500 times I listened to it. I like it better now.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Whole Lotta Snakin’ Goin’ On

100% recycled headline alert! I originally used this for an article on rattlesnake roundups, but is it stealing if you take something from yourself? I guess you could undermine your confidence or get high on your own supply, but headlines….Hmmm…. I’d say yes since it’s hard to really own a word. (Oh wait, that’s what trademarks are all about. D’oh!)

Anyway, this post was originally inspired by a recent viewing of Snakes on a Plane. The movie was confusing to me because I couldn’t figure out if we were expected to suspend our belief and be all scared, or laugh because the snakes were really funny. Yes, they were computer-generated but they had charisma! I read on Wikipedia that “the film gained a considerable amount of attention before its release, forming large fan bases…In response to the Internet fan base, New Line Cinema incorporated feedback from online users into its production, and added five days of reshooting.” So…someone made a calculated decision to present it as you see it now, presumably to give the people what they wanted. Which makes me even more confused, because why would they want that? I wish I understood the Snakes on a Plane-likers better.

Snakes can’t do user surveys and focus groups, and it’s just as well. Once a snake starts to strike, that’s it. He smells potential prey, which elicits a feeding response. He follows it through, he takes it as it comes, there’s no turning back, there’s no stopping to rewrite the ending. I think it’s like there’s a bunch of sequential actions that get triggered and it’s like a house of cards…(if that’s not the case, I apologize for simplifying science and stuff.)

How the heck did we get from snakes to user surveys? Marketing! We’re being manipulated! I know it’s all calculated! If I could only find solace and safety in that, I’d find total satisfaction just being a consumer…as in, tell me what I need and I’ll buy it…Don’t get me wrong, I like finding tacky Siamese cat-patterned pants on eBay just as much (more!) as the next person…I just get confused by all the varieties of M&Ms, ya know?

And snakes, well, they don’t even like chocolate.

Music to help you find your own truth (and booty)
Lost in the Supermarket, The Clash
- I quoted this song in an essay I wrote for Marxist Philosophy. Bless you, Professor Despalatovic, for not kicking my pretentious a**.

Baby Got Back, Sir Mix-A-Lot
- We used to dance to this in class all the time, until someone actually listened to the lyrics and complained. My anaconda don’t want none…