Thursday, January 28, 2016

Turbo kid


I feel like, for a person my age, I'm not especially nostalgic for the '80s. I think it was really a pretty low point in culture overall. Generally speaking, I don't like the music, although I'm not without my moments of nostalgia, as evidenced by recent posts. I have definite soft spots for some '80s movies, but it's far from my favorite decade as whole. So, on the surface it makes sense that I'm resistant to things like Kung Fury, which try to use an '80s nostalgia vibe to attract people to their particular brand of nostalgia.

I think it's something else, though. It seems to me on the surface, and here I admit I'm picking an obvious target that I have not yet brought myself to watch, that most of these are approaching the '80s nostalgia out of a basic cowardice. You don't have to own the bug nutty shit that explodes from your head when you're paying tribute to the cinema of Cannon Films, The Beastmaster, Joe Dante, Big Trouble in Little China, etc. Of course it's fucking nuts, right?

The thing is, though, the defense I'd offer all of those things and so much more is that they went out naked into the world and fucking meant it. It feels like too much of the '80s nostalgia crowd don't mean it, or if they do, they still want a little distance where they can let you know they're in on the joke of it being something.

With that in mind, when I started Turbo Kid, which I had been very much looking forward to, and it gave a little introduction in which there was these '80s credits and a voiceover letting us know that it takes place in the post-apocalyptic future of 1997, my heart sank a little. So, on that level, I wish they hadn't done that.

That said, I think it's a disarming and sincere movie and a truer tribute than most in that it's also wearing its heart on its sleeve. It's not wearing the '80s as cover from sincerity, it's using the motif to remind of us of that very sincerity. On some level, I think that's great. That was a nice reminder.

I'm not sure I'm wrong. I'm not sure the movie itself wouldn't have stood stronger without those early and broad nods to its creative origins, but I do feel better about it as a whole. And the longer I live with the movie, the better I feel about it.

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Quiet Riot


Some random thoughts on Quiet Riot after watching Quiet Riot: Well Now You're Here, There's No Way Back.

First, I was among those fans in 1983, who was turned on to hard rock/heavy metal by the breakout success of Metal Health. Admittedly, I changed loyalties to Van Halen shortly afterward, something I know would have been no end of irritation to Quiet Riot lead singer Kevin DuBrow who had a long time frustration with that rivalry, having been in what was to many the "other L.A. party band with an amazing guitarist".

That said, even with adult ears, I think there's much to be said for that album. The fact that it was a band that had worked hard for years and built up some killer material that knocked audiences out still shows.



For a band with only two hit albums - You might not remember, but Critical Condition performed pretty well at the time, even if it was a drop from the massive success of "Metal Health". - there are a number of focal points you could have used for a documentary on them. I think that a movie that focused on the breakdown of their success surrounding the rock presses turning on DuBrow regarding his opinions on the other L.A. metal bands that rose up in Quiet Riot's wake. There's something really interesting there that I think could be examined.

I think that was my first experience with a celebrity or creative person being put in their place for expressing less-than-glowing opinions about their peers. It's continued to fascinate me through the years. I'm not sure I understand how or why it works.

But after going on a little Quiet Riot listening session following my viewing, I can't help noting that I think if their material was stronger during that period, they might have weathered it. It's not bad, for the most part, but it's not the follow-up for a band that made a breakthrough with material that killed it for audiences in 1983, showing they'd earned a position through hard work and a dedication to building up show stopping material. It's merely solid, listenable middle-of-the-road hard rock.

I suppose the lack of anything that really had the punch needed is why someone convinced them to make the bone-headed decision to lead with another Slade cover.



Drummer Frankie Balani comes across very likable in the movie, so however ill-advised his continuing attempts to revive the band since the death of DuBrow might be, I can't help rooting for him while watching and even carry that over into my life.

One only needs to compare the footage of Glenn Hughes performing at a tribute to DuBrow, along with the footage of DuBrow himself, of course, to see how ill-fitting the string of impressive Karaoke singers that Balani and his cohorts have attached to are. Hughes is not really right for the material. He simply has a different quality to his voice. But he's a fucking rock star and looks like he should be on stage with a multi-platinum band that rocked the US Festival in a way that the replacement singers simply couldn't.

The movie didn't include footage with current singer Jizzy Pearl, and I haven't had the interest to look it up, but I hope he has some of that.

It shows that there is something to be said for DuBrow's feeling about putting in your time and earning your place on the big stage, even if he didn't necessarily put it in as nice a terms as he should have, or perhaps only target people who had it coming.

Saturday, January 16, 2016

Creative fields and race


Race issues are back in discussion with the new list of Oscar nominees. Here's a couple of good articles, if you're interested in this specifically, Oscar So White: Membership Rules are the Heart of the Problem and Yes, You Should Be Mad About The Oscars.

My issue, however, is not in awards, but is simpler and perhaps more personal.

I have pondered on and sketched and worked on "Gaunt Land", in one form or another, for years. Most of that has been as a movie project. Most recently, I have thought as an Independent Serial, but occasionally I have pondered others.

Of late, my drive to get something completed has come to a head, but my belief in my energy and social levels to embark on a sizable movie project is low. Not to mention, on the better side, I have been rather enthusiastically reading, so I would very much like to go ahead with completing it a novel or series of novels.

That leads to a rather odd, I'm sure to most, creative conundrum for me.

I'd always pictured it very much multi-ethnic, however not in any specific way. I always thought it would be exciting to cast every role for the best actors regardless of race and find a good mix in that process. It sounds fun and exciting.

With prose, there's more to it.

Sure, I could write all or most of the characters without specifying race, which, of course, means most readers will view them as white by default, see White Until Proven Black or Black Hermione Controversy, so that seems a pretty shitty solution. Not to mention, I have to come up with creative solutions to portraying the kind of stories I want on the covers without explicitly showing the main characters. Not impossible, but it is two creative challenges that I'd avoid altogether with a movie project or by, as some cranky part of my brain sees it, not bothering to bestow this glory upon the world.

As I rarely feel as cocky as the latter reaction suggests, that is probably not the way I'll decide to go.

That leaves me with the other two possibilities I see. I can either get my energy levels up to where I'd need to make a movie project going or I need to suck it up and decide on specific races myself and mark them down for posterity. I still have next to no idea which sounds better or more realistic to me.

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