Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Memories of the Big Easy

I'm in mourning for New Orleans.

I haven't spent a lot of time in the Big Easy-- I still haven't made it to Mardis Gras, for one thing-- but I have nothing but good memories about the times I've dwelt there.

The first time the future Mrs. Meauxjeaux Fabulous and I gambled together was at the Harrah's Casino in New Orleans. I sat down at the blackjack table (I know, but they didn't have a poker room back then) and was up about $100 in short order. Meaux sat down next to me and proceeded to get her clock cleaned. That night established the precedent-- which holds true to this day-- that only one of us can win at the blackjack table at a time. Not once have we both finished a winning session on the same night.

That same trip saw us eating Oyster and Shrimp Po' Boys at a hole-in-the-wall dive; carrying our open containers of alcohol around Jackson Square; wiggling our way in and out of galleries during a free art show, at one point staring at a motionless naked woman in a cage and being unable to decide if the figure was a real woman or a mannequin; swilling Hurricanes (now a sadly misnamed drink) at Pat O'Brien's.

We also took our first cruise out of New Orleans. We cruised the Western Caribbean on the Carnival Inspiration, which sailed out of New Orleans harbor. We departed about 7pm for the six-hour journey down the Mighty Mississippi to the Gulf, and got to watch the sun set while the Big Easy slowly dwindled in the distance. After dark, we stood out on the observation deck while the black river and shadow-draped shorelines rolled by us. We'd see what looked like a major metropolitan city, dazzling the night sky with its thousands of lights; as we got closer, we'd realize that it was actually an oil refinery. At about 1am, it was too dark to see anything with the new moon overhead. But when we finally left the confines of the Mississippi and hit the Gulf of Mexico, we could feel the change in the air nonetheless. It was the most impossibly romantic moment I'd ever experienced.

And then there's the architecture, which is-- was-- my personal favorite aspect of the New Orleans experience. I'm not just talking about the flashy scene around Jackson Square, although that's cool enough. I'm talking about the afternoons we spent just driving around the residential quarters of the city, our jaws agape at the spectacular old homes with their gamboled roofs, turrets, balconies and ivy-strangled columns. What fabulous Tennessee Williams-inspired lives these folks must lead, I remember thinking.

New Orleans is the closest we Americans can come to visiting a foreign city without leaving the continental US. There's something about the combination of the architecture, the food, the liquor, the music, the humidity and the filth that made spending time in New Orleans like spending the night with a high-class hooker. Yeah, you had to pay her for her time. But man, what I time you had.

And now she's gone. I have no doubt that New Orleans will be rebuilt, in some fashion. But all those fantastic old homes I loved are gone now, or soon will be. What's left of the city will become a theme park for tourists who want to experience a sanitized version of the culture without wallowing in the seediness that makes it authentic. What New Orleans was will never return. She needs to be mourned properly, with music and booze and cigarettes.

Say a prayer for the Big Easy. May she rest in peace.

Friday, August 26, 2005

Surrender Dorothy

This has been all over the internet, so I'm not exactly breaking any news here. But check out these adorable pictures of little Tom Cruise all dolled up, courtesy of the British tabloid The Sun:

Two things strike me about these pictures: One, little Tommy looks extaordinarily happy to be wearing a dress. Look at that beaming little smile! Two, little Tommy actually makes a cute little girl.

Tom, Tom. I hope you realize that you brought this on yourself.

Friday, August 19, 2005

Movie Meth and Star Trek perverts

All of us movie fans have a small list of films that, if we happen upon them while channel-surfing digital cable, absolutely must watch to the end, whether the movie is ten minutes or an hour in. It's like rediscovering your crystal meth addiction after six months off. Below are my personal top five instances of Movie Meth. You may decide that I harbor secret gay love for either Patrick Swayze or Keanu Reeves, since I can't keep my eyes off of either of them:

1) Road House: One of the best bad movies ever made, featuring Swayze as a Zen philosopher/bouncer who spouts such brilliant bon mots as, "Pain don't hurt."

2) The Devil's Advocate: Al Pacino and Reeves star as Satan and his son, respectively. Naturally, they're both attorneys. Later remade by Adam Sandler as Little Nicky.

3) Point Break: Swayze as the Zen philosopher/surfer/bank robber and Reeves as the FBI agent determined to hunt him down. The most touching gay love story since Top Gun.

4) Raising Arizona: Can't help it. I know ever line in the movie by heart, but I still lose it every time I hear Holly Hunter say, "Mind his little fontanelle."

5) The Godfather: Part one only please. Part II is great, but doesn't have the mythic forward momentum of the original. Part III is the Fredo to its better older brothers.

Also, found this mention in Slate magazine about the connection between Star Trek fans and pedophelia. As a former Trekkie myself, I couldn't help but laugh.


In May, Yale cyberlaw expert Ernest Miller noticed an astonishing tidbit in a Los Angeles Times story on the Toronto police Sex Crimes Unit's pursuit of pedophiles:
All but one of the [over 100] offenders they have arrested in the last four years was a hard-core Trekkie.

Miller was skeptical but the cops basically stood by their story--at the least, a "majority of those arrested show 'at least a passing interest in Star Trek, if not a strong interest.'" Not just an interest in science fiction generally, mind you. But Star Trek.

The conventional explanation for this seemingly bizarre correlation was that pedophiles must simply be trying to use an interest in Star Trek as a device to lure their prey. But Ellen Ladowsky, an L.A. therapist, thinks there actually is something inherent in the show itself that makes it "irresistible to perverts.". She lays out her case in HuffPost. Sample:

[W]hen it comes to relationships off the ship, Captain Kirk displays a truly astonishing emotional poverty. He goes from planet to planet, having trysts with an assortment of nubile women, but never forms any real attachments. ... [snip] ...There's a pervasive message that women are toxic. In an episode called Cat's Paw, there is an evil sorceress who separates the crew from each other and from the starship. The perpetually indignant Dr. McCoy cautions Kirk, "Don't let her touch your wand Jim, or you'll lose all your power!["] On the very rare occasions where Kirk seems to find love, his partners quickly die off. After one of his loves has croaked, Kirk admonishes Spock "Love, you're better off without it."

Ladowsky argues pedophiles naturally identify with the crew's "utopian interracial and interplanetary world" as a model for "denial of the difference between the sexes and the difference between the generations." And then there are the monsters:

[I]f the pedophiles are identifying with the crew members, who do the monsters represent? Possibly aspects of the pedophile's mind that are split off because they are unthinkable, and projected into someone else. On the Enterprise, aggressive impulses aren't battling it out with libidinal ones as they are here on earth. In the Star Trek universe, every "bad" impulse is attributed to an external force. When it comes to sex, for example, it's always an outside influence that takes possession of the crew's minds and bodies, causing them to behave in erotically driven ways. Child molesters have a similar mechanism at work. They deny having any sexual impulses themselves; they frequently claim that it was the children who seduced them.

Ladowsky only discusses the original Star Trek series, not the Next Generation and subsequent follow-ups. But her post certainly seems a big step in the direction of an actual explanation. Give her tenure!


Off to see The 40 Year-Old Virgin this weekend. TGIF!

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Movie Review: The Devil's Rejects

I’m not a Rob Zombie fan, per se, but I am an admirer. Zombie (aka Robert Cummings) is a great American success story. A self-made renaissance man who began his career as a musician fronting the 90’s thrash-metal outfit White Zombie (named after a Bela Lugosi film, naturally), he transformed himself into a living comic book character— a dreadlocked undead superhero as envisioned by Boris Vallejo with a bevy of big-titted babes at his feet and a guitar at his side. Zombie wasn’t just the bandleader; he also drew the covers for his CDs, directed the videos, wrote the complementary comic books and even designed his own tattoos, which he wears. He’s performed with childhood heroes Alice Cooper and Ozzy Osbourne. His music was never original or compelling, just loud and omnipresent, which makes him living proof that talent is the least essential ingredient of success. What really counts is moxie, a little luck and a lot of good old-fashioned elbow grease.

Read the full review.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Movie Review: The Island

How fitting, then, that Michael Bay’s most artistically successful film— and remember that we’re grading on a curve here— is also his biggest bomb. The man who tortured us in his personal cinematic dungeon with such diabolical instruments as Armageddon, Bad Boys II and Pearl Harbor finally gets his comeuppance. No one could be happier than me. I’ve prayed for this moment for years, but my victory is a Pyrrhic one. I actually kind of liked this film, in the way you kind of like a really ugly dog who keeps breathing his stink-breath on you because he’s so happy to see you. I felt sorry for The Island. It’s no classic, but neither is it Pearl Harbor. At the very least, it deserves a pat on the head.

Read the full review.