The funny disease.

Friday, June 29, 2007

Barenaked Bridesmaid

Friday Editorial at Cynical Sarah:

Barenaked Bridesmaid

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Monday, June 25, 2007

After My Vacation



Friday, June 08, 2007

Rich Mouse, Poor Mouse

When I moved to Chandler, I was surprised by the diversity of the neighborhoods. There are palatial mansions within a few blocks of dumpy trailer parks. The impoverished pockets of tiny, poorly insulated houses and sad discount stores are a glaring contrast to the gated subdivisions and posh strip malls.

Chandler’s proximity to Phoenix made it attractive to a lot of people during the housing boom in the Valley. The economically challenged were here when the financially enhanced showed up. There doesn’t seem to be any noise about weeding out trailer parks and scaring discount grocery stores and cash advance businesses out of town. Or if there is, it can’t be heard above the shouts to keep out a chemical company that employs animal testing or the demands to keep a waste transfer station from being built next to a public park.

On the other side of the Valley, plans to build a transitional housing facility are provoking objections from local residents. The Phoenix City Council approved plans for the Southwest Leadership Foundation’s proposed transitional housing to assist homeless families in acquiring employment and establishing a residence. In an area already beleaguered by crime, residents worry that the influx of poor single mothers and their children will increase problems.

Similarly disinclined to sharing the neighborhood with those struggling to make a living, Disneyland is suing Anaheim over a proposed complex of subsidized apartments. Disney pays hundreds of park employees so little that the majority of them must commute, because they can’t afford to live in Anaheim. Disney has set their attack lawyers on the city to stop the development that would certainly benefit some of their so-called “cast members.” They claim that any housing development would be inappropriate for the area, which had to be rezoned. It used to be zoned for tourism-related business.

The contested area adjoins property that Disney owns and plans to build its third Anaheim attraction on. Apparently, the poor are good enough to go through the service entrance to operate park rides, assemble chilidogs and scrape gum off the sidewalk. But they are not good enough to be neighbors. Heaven forbid someone who spends the day wearing a 60-pound mouse costume in the relentless California sun should have a short commute.

In related news regarding disdain for the socioeconomic underclass, early Thursday morning Paris Hilton was released from prison and allowed to finish the remainder of her sentence under house arrest, due to an undisclosed medical condition. Because there are plenty of people with serious medical conditions in jail, my money is on a rare and debilitating allergy to poor people.

Despite a theoretical increase in crime or a possible allergic reaction, I would trade subsided housing for a waste transfer station as a neighbor faster than a celebrity heiress can say “Ankle bracelet.” These examples of shunning the fiscally depleted and the residentially challenged and deficient are stifling the very efforts meant to give them a boost. The attitude that the homeless and those living below the poverty line will go away if you don’t feed them is about as insightful and realistic as trying to keep illegal immigrants out of the U.S. with 2,000 miles of steel fence. Especially when we could easily get rid of poor neighbors by helping them prosper.

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Friday, June 01, 2007

Too Much Blush, Gush and Slush, Not Enough Spidey Crush

Over the Memorial Day weekend we went to see a movie for the first time in a long time. The only reason for me to ever venture into a movie theater is to see an action film in its entire ginormous screen, stadium-seating glory. (I’m still kicking myself for missing out on the larger than life cow spinning out of control in Twister.)

At the ticket window, we were asked why we wanted to see Spider-Man, because it wasn’t popular anymore. Being anti-social and obviously defective, I prefer to see the slightly stale flicks. It sure beats having to sit next to a strange, squirming 4 year-old. (By strange, I mean a 4 year-old child of a person with whom I am unacquainted and who didn’t care enough about their offspring to pony up cash for a babysitter.) We wanted to see Spider-Man in the theater, because we were under the impression that there would be a lot of action and many elaborate computer generated effects. We were correct on one account.

My embarrassing confession for the day is that I am missing the gene, which seems to be common in females, that makes fight scenes and violence in movies repulsive. For example, I enjoy Star Trek films. Not so much for the Sci Fi nerdy glory of the franchise. But more for the frequency of good, old-fashioned ass-kickings. They have phasers (ray guns), force shields and beaming technology. It’s absolutely ridiculous how often the action comes down to fisticuffs. And I love it.

There is a time and place for kissy googoo sentimental slush. The time and place is not in the middle of an action flick that I just paid $7 to see. The two previous Spider-Man movies, and the trailer for the current movie, led me to believe that Spider-Man 3 would be an action movie and not a sappy date flick with $250 million worth of special effects. This is why I have no compunction about sneaking Jujy Fruits into the theater.

It was bad enough that I had to put up with the wretch-inducing presence of Kirsten Dunst, as Spidey main squeeze Mary Jane. It’s great that she’s carrying on the banner of vapid comic book heroine from Margot Kidder, but by the end of Spider-Man 3 I was kind of hoping Spidey wouldn’t get there in the nick of time. To make matters worse, she sings, not once but twice. A voice so nasal and grating, it had to be hers. Critics theorized that her agent must have stipulated that she get two songs in the film. There is no godly reason that audiences should have been subjected to the tortuous tunes otherwise.

I don’t know where it was, but Tobey Maguire’s heart just wasn’t in the movie. He should be thoroughly embarrassed that he was upstaged by the actor who got his start on
That 70’s Show. (Topher Grace, as Venom, was the most engaging character in the whole movie.) Either that, or Maguire should have worn a tee shirt that said, “I’d rather be riding a zombie horse in Seabiscuit IV.” At the very least he owed his fans an explanation.

I don’t recommend seeing the Spidey 3, but I’ll try not to spoil the movie for those of you who haven’t already seen it, and choose not to believe me. Harry, Peter Parker’s estranged best friend, gets knocked on the head and conveniently forgets that he thinks Spiderman and thus Peter killed his father. Harry and Peter get manicures, talk about boys and then drink Chocolate-tinis. There’s touching, hugging and crying. I don’t have a problem with the new direction their relationship has taken, but it’s not the movie I chose to see.

Between the singing, the crying and the lack of enthusiasm by most of the main players, I’m beginning to think that instead of releasing films, Hollywood is testing our capacity for suffering. How many times can Tinsel Town ingest box office hits, churn them through its unimaginative digestive system, forcing sequels out through the colon of product placement and merchandising onto an uncomplaining public?

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