Tuesday, January 28, 2020

The Kung Fu Hustle Fiasco


When people try and impress me with their varying tastes, I try to not mock them. Oh, you like Gangster Rap and Death Metal? Who doesn't?

What makes music and film so special is that it can serve as your link to a certain point in time. It also can bond totally different people together. So when you say you like a variety of music and film, I assume it's because you've had life experiences and you're not dead...or my father (who falls asleep as soon as someone puts on anything that isn't mob movies or Foxy Brown).

Now, I've been cohabitating with my husband for the last 16 years. When you've spent as much time together as we, it's pretty safe to assume we share many of the same experiences and nostalgia. Right? It makes sense.

While we have shared many moments together, we do have different tastes in many things. I have a penchant for the obnoxious and campy and he does not.

Somewhere in our 20's, we were rattling down I-5 in a Pontiac Grand Am, blasting Gwen Stefani's "Wind It Up" (you really should listen). We had watched Repo! The Genetic Opera for the 50th time that month, and it occurred to me that my husband was lost in my rabbit hole, desperately clinging to a root of sanity in a deep dark tunnel.

He just couldn't go the distance. I needed to go a little bit slower and be a little more considerate. I made this conclusion after he yanked the CD player out of the dash and threw it in the back seat and said he couldn't take the "yodeling Mario music" anymore.

This is also why my best friend instantly ignores all my recommendations for anything, ever.

Okay, so...not everyone likes the stuff I like. I get it. Fast forward to 2020 where I decide to pop a few painkillers, give myself a Brazilian, and watch King Fu Hustle.

So, I'm sitting in a rather compromising position with hot wax all over my stuff, and I look over to see my husband watching this film with an expression I hadn't seen since he ate lemon oyster sushi (He said it tasted like a slug that had lived solely off of lemon rinds).

Oh no, my high ass broke him again.

I told him he could change it if he wanted to, it's only Bill Murray's favorite film. He sat up and said, "No! This is the most amazing movie I've ever seen!"

*Cue the head tilt*

Somehow, he had navigated the oceans of my strangeness and avoided Kung Fu Hustle island. He couldn't believe I had never made him watch it. I was shocked. He was hurt.

The next day, he proceeded to tell all his coworkers about how I had betrayed him. I had withheld information, which can pretty much be considered lying in a relationship. We can't take our drama to FaceBook because a cousin is going through a strange divorce and we don't want to appear to be mocking them.

So, he has been moping around with this grudge for few weeks now, and no one can hold a grudge like my husband, that's why I love him.

To make matter's worse, with the new puppy and work, Chinese New Year took us by surprise. We went to our friend Jason's house to celebrate and had a makeshift dumpling feast to which my husband then hears Jason and I discussing Kung Fu Hustle.

Of course, the Beijing guy knows all about it!

My husband is now demanding to know what else I've been hiding from him, and it's a game I can't win...because I don't know! I thought I was doing him a favor. I was wrong and our marriage has suffered as a result.


Friday, January 24, 2020

Cats: The Good, The Bad, and the really fucking ugly.


So, before we get into this. I love the Broadway version of Cats.

I had the 1997 London VHS, and apart from a few songs, I was enthralled with the singing, dancing Jellicle cats, and the written gospel about the Heavyside Layer.

It is an Andrew Lloyd Webber production, (Oklahoma! South Pacific, The King & I, basically, every filmed musical ever created.) which I had nearly his entire collection.

That being said: I find nothing strange about people dressed as cats singing and frolicking around.

If that's not your jam, I get it, but my review is based on the 1997 classic London recording of one of the most popular productions ever.

The Good:

There were a few good things about the reboot. Things I did like.

1. I loved the introduction of Victoria.

She is a cat abandoned by a shithead owner and the neighborhood cats introduce themselves and their world. It makes her interest in Grizzabella, the shunned cat, much more understandable than the original where everyone just decides Grizzabella is one of them.

Victoria is innocent, curious, and a little fearful, and we learn with her as she enters a very strange world.

2. Mr. Mistoffelees song (mostly). I like what they did with his character. While there was nothing wrong with the original magical cat, the unconfident magician tugged at the heartstrings.

The only problem I had with his song, was the very end. All the cats are singing in chorus "Oh, well, there never was there ever, a cat so magical as magical, Mr. Mistoffelees..." and Rum Tum Tugger is supposed to belt out this note over the chorus that just makes the whole song.

Why was this skipped? AGRRRHH!!! I need my correctly placed Diva note!

The Bad: 

All the actors. None of them had any business in this production apart from Francesca Hayward.

James Cordon and Rebel Wilson were the worst. They took up screentime where magical dancers and singers were trying to salvage what they could. Too many fat jokes, too much slapstick. The original Cats humor was about the humor of cats, not actors. There is a reason cat videos rule the internet. We would have laughed if a cat jumped at a cucumber...not Rebel Wilson pretending to lick her crotch.

At about the 40-minute mark, I had to start fast-forwarding. Judi was meh. Ian was meh. I hated that fucking train cat, but to be fair, I hated that fucking train cat in the original as well.

I was told that Taylor Swift's performance was the best in the film and found myself unimpressed. Mainly because the song she was singing is fucking hard.

Taylor tried to sound British, it was bad. The sequence itself wasn't terrible and was right up her alley, but Macavity is a robust Broadway show number, not something a singer/songwriter is capable of handling.

Taylor Swift is a songwriter first and foremost and as an entertainer, she has clearly worked very hard to strengthen her voice to sing those songs, but that is not going to cut it for this level of performance. So, I don't blame Taylor Swift for flopping one of the hardest songs to sing in the production, it was just the typical reboot that forces people into roles they cannot complete.

CGI. It was bad. I was able to work past it, but it was bad. It was overdone. If they did cat costumes and some CGI whiskers + tail, it probably would have worked. But the tiny heads looked weird.

They also put CGI on the dancing when it wasn't needed. Let the Dancers dance. Let them perform. They were beautiful and magical all on their own, just let them do what they do.

The Fucking Ugly

What the fuck was with Barge cat?

I'm glad McCavity had more presence aside from jumping out and scaring the cats, but man oh man, that took up a lot of time and gave Rebel and James the ability to take away from the whole point of the musical.

But Barge cat? That thing was gross, and weird and uncalled for.

I feel like this production would have been great if the actual cast mutinied against whatever executives or producers that needed fat slapstick in their lives and locked the special effects people in a dumpster.

I hope everyone aside from the singers and dancers feels deep regret and cringes every time they hear that tale-tell intro song because I can't stop cringing after watching that monstrosity.

Actors, do yourselves a favor, don't sign up for reboots of popular films. It's really that easy.

...Barge cat looked like Old Greg.

Tuesday, January 7, 2020

The Stink



I did everything I could, but malaise played peek-a-boo with my consciousness. It wasn’t the thought of being a bad daughter, I was well beyond such notions. It wasn’t the thoughts of what could have been done—I’m old enough to know better. They say that all women become their mothers in the end. That was what kept me up at night.

Her response to life was a handful of chalky white pills and a vodka I wouldn’t serve to my worst enemy. She died in a smoke-stained trailer in the heat of the summer. My therapist says there are seven stages of grief. I skipped shock and guilt and went straight to redlining blood pressure. She wouldn’t even try to get better, not even for me. She was always so fucking selfish.

Police and paramedics all stood around with averted gazes. I wanted to scream that I did not grow up among her trash mounds and cat feces and that it happened after I left.

“What are those little red marks all over?”

“They look like rat bites,” the paramedic says. “She had been in there for a minute.”

Maybe if the house was clean, I’d remember her that way. No time was wasted as I set to work with a dumpster rental and a respirator that kept me from inhaling my mother’s sickness. Countless black garbage bags stood in the places where heaps of old clothes and moldy towels once lay. Amputee furniture splintered into the dumpster, forever releasing their hold on my mother. These things meant more to her than I did, and now I was throwing them all away.

I found some things I wanted to keep, though I knew better than to take them. An old milk stool and a few rose bushes, I unearthed and stowed into pots. When I brought them home that night, I couldn’t help but notice the scent of my mother’s home filled my car. It was the smell of old cigarette smoke and towels that had been left wet for too long. The smell was coming from me. Despite every precaution, every careful purchase, and every designer medication, I was tainted by her illness. Undressing in my mudroom, I threw the contaminated clothing into my washer.

“Alexa,” I said as I walked to the bathroom. “Start laundry load, soil level high.”
“Your device is not filled to capacity. Are you sure you wish to proceed?”
“Yes.”

Despite the chill against my naked skin, the heated floors made the sting of the cold a little less. The hot water blessed my skin as I scrubbed everything twice over. When the steam of the bathroom subsided, I noted the red splotches on my skin. I had repeated this process for the last two weeks, and I was beginning to suffer for it. It’s almost over, I promised.

The trailer was purged of junk and now fully exposed the level of decay and ruination. Tobacco stained walls with chipped laminate counters and mold growing over mold stains. When did she give up? I returned to the house with industrial-strength cleaners and once again sealed my face against the toxicity. This time, the poison would be my own.

When I got into bed that night, my husband embraced me. With his nose against my hair, he inhaled, and I could feel his face lurch away.

“You’re going to smell like that place for months.”

“But I showered and sprayed the house with cleaners. The house doesn’t even smell like the house anymore.”

“You still smell like it, though.”

I returned to the house and confirmed that the smell of smoke and mold was gone, but I couldn’t deny that when I pressed my nose to my clean clothes—clothes that I had never worn in the house—the stink was present. I never bothered to rinse the cleaners off the laminate surfaces. The plastic curled from the plywood underneath, revealing the rotting stench that somehow made its way through.

It must have been coming from my car. The smell infested the carpeted panels of my Lexus and was latching on to my clothes. I simply needed to have the car detailed to stop the spread of the odor.
The man stuck his head inside the car and his face pruned, “You smoke in here?”

“No.”

“You probably shouldn’t leave any wet clothes in here.”

I bit back the snide remarks and reminded myself that another shower awaited me.  

 That night in bed, my husband gently shifted away from my advances. The rejection felt unwarranted, yet when I pressed my face to my pillow, I could smell the stink and understood why he denied me.

“Now that it's clean, we should think about selling it.”

“Fine.”

The laundry set was at full capacity all the next day. I stared into the washer and supervised the soapy water sloshing around in the drum. I scoured the path from the mudroom, through the kitchen, and into the bathroom from top to bottom so that no trace of the smell could possibly remain. My husband came home with my freshly detailed car to find me sitting in the tub with laundry bleach sitting on the rim. My skin was tight and red, but it was untainted by my mother’s illness.

The telltale stink of rot and carcinogen emanated from my hair as it dried. It was then that I knew I could never escape. My mother’s illness had infected me. My therapist says that mental illness is hereditary and that it was stress brought on by my mother’s horrid death. My therapist says many things because I say so little these days.

“Can you smell it?”

“If you can promise not to scratch at yourself, we can undo the bindings,” she said.

“Can you smell it?”

She doesn’t answer. I laugh and rail against my restraints. Even in the most sanitary conditions, I can still smell it, and so can they.