So the ball is about to drop on yet another year. Time rolls on. Things end while other things begin. Such is the natural order of things. But 2014 was quite the year for fandoms, pop culture and other things that keep us glued to our screens. Here are a few highlights.
And sure, these are all well and good, but someone, somewhere…it’s possible!…may be wondering Where can I find a movie to suit my particular festive interests, namely Santa Claus, aliens, cheap rocket ships, cheap sets, ridiculous costumes, bad dialogue and worse acting.
Well look no further very-unlikely-person-I-just-invented, there IS a movie to suit your holiday needs. May I introduce to you the lesser known 1964 penultimate classic Santa Claus Conquers the Martians.
In a nutshell, a group of people from Mars kidnaps Santa Claus in order for him to spread good cheer among Martian children. I’m not kidding. This actually exists.
And since I was holed up at my place last night nursing a cold, what do I go and do? When I have literally hundreds of other choices for festive movies? I watched this.
But before you go WHYYYYYYYY?! I thankfully had a little help with this…in the form of a guy and two robots. Let me also introduce you to, if you haven’t met them yet, the crew of Mystery Science Theatre 3000.
And now you’re all wondering What the heck was that? I’m confusing you a lot right before the holidays, aren’t I? Mystery Science Theatre 3000, often abbreviated as MST3K, was a comedy TV series that ran for over a decade, first on a small TV station on 1988, then Comedy Central, then the Sci Fi Channel until it was cancelled in 1999.
Basically, it’s about a dude and his robot friends who are shot into space and forced to watch bad movies as part of an experiment. (Ah, VHS films. For those who aren’t familiar, remember when Star Lord in Guardians of the Galaxylistened to music on a cassette tape? VHS is the same idea, but with video). But the guy and the robots, in an effort to keep from going crazy, keep a running commentary going through the whole movie, making smart aleck comments and submitting their own dialogue and sound effects throughout. You see them as you would if you were sitting behind them a few rows away in a movie theatre.
And so it was that I watched one of the few Sci Fi themed holiday movies, and one of the worst movies ever, with these guys making jokes all the way. And it was HILARIOUS! If laughter is the best medicine, than this certainly helped my cold. The MST3K crew referenced Twin Peaksand Monty Python, had a song about a Patrick Swayze Christmas during one of their breaks, and were just so sarcastic I couldn’t help but love it. Here’s a video of some of the highlights.
I had to be careful not to spit my tea out watching.
As for the movie itself, taken on it’s own merits…it was actually kind of cute in a cheesy, cheap kind of way. The sarcastic side comments definitely helped, but I think I’d have enjoyed the movie on it’s own too. You can watch it on IndieFlix, offered through VPL (sadly, without the robot commentary).
So I look forward to tracking down more MST3K versions of bad movies in the new year. In mean time, THE HOLIDAYS ARE ALMOST HERE! What movies will you be curling up in front of with egg nog and maybe a fire with the family?
“In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit. Not a nasty, dirty, wet hole, filled with the ends of worms and an oozy smell, nor yet a dry, bare, sandy hole with nothing in it to sit down on or to eat: it was a hobbit-hole, and that means comfort.” – Tolkien
Well ladies and gentlemen, it comes down to this. After more than a decade our journeys through the wonderous lands of Middle Earth will finally be coming to an end. The yearly anticipated adventures of hobbits, dwarves, elves and men, of wars of rings and battles of immense armies will fade into that realm of storytelling and memory.
Recently the Powers The Be released the ending song for the last installment of the Hobbit Trilogy, The Battle of the Five Armies. Composed and preformed by Billy Boyd, the actor who brought that loveable rapscallion Pippin to life in the Rings films, this song was created to be the final farewell not just to the Hobbit but to all of the great Tolkien adventures.
Take a moment and let it all sink in. Excuse me for a moment. I need to grab another tissue.
It is hard not to feel the urge to curl up into a tight ball and cry like the world is breaking every time this song is played. As previously mentioned in a past Music Minute the influence of Middle Earth Pop Culturehood is astounding and wide-spread. So even though the final film will not be released until December 17th Tolkien fans have already started going into mourning. It will be a bittersweet moment when the houselights go up while the credits roll. After all the battles, the journeys, the losses and the victories it finally comes to journey’s end.
Unlike with the Potter, Star Wars, and Superhero franchises there are no more stories to tell. The author who brought the magic of a golden ring into our lives has been dead for a great many years and the source materials have run dry. Sure there are the short side-talesand the Silmarillion(The source of the entire history of Middle Earth) but the tales that revolve around the characters that have grown into dear and well-loved friends over the years have been told.
So this is it.
However nothing is ever truly over. Something as deeply loved and respected as Middle Earth will keep on in the hearts and minds of the fans. Books will be re-read and continuously discussed. The films will be marathoned with good company and good food. The music will be played from start to finish so that we can be transported back to strolling along the green rolling hillsides of the Hobbiton or galloping full-out across the plains of Rohan when Gondor calls for aid. Dwarven songs will be sung quietly on cold winter nights to remember those that fell defending their homes against terrible darkness. In coffee houses and pubs everywhere someone will take a moment and hum a tune about a cat and a fiddle or a Green Dragon.
Unfortunately the Lord of the Rings Musical soundtrack is not available in North America but its songs are just as tale-telling and inspiring as anything that came from Howard Shore’s pen. This one sums up the Baggins Legacy in the straightforward and true nature of the Shire Folk.
These songs are our continuing link to what will be part of our past. Like the ballads and oral epics of old Middle Earth and all who dwell in it will be remembered through song as well as the written word.
So, there has been quite a lot of talk in the news these days about a certain radio host on CBC as well as a “pick-up artist” who helps teach men how to pick up women, and I would like to think that you have heard at least a few conversations regarding what’s happened/happening with these two individuals, and thought about why this is something that is making headlines, and – even more importantly - why you should be thinking about it.
So, to bring you in the loop if you’ve missed some of this, I’m referring to the current news of ex-CBC radio host, Jian Ghomeshi, and “dating guru”, Julien Blanc.
The Ghomeshi situation has highlighted the fact that there is still a very strong stigma about going to the authorities for help if you’re ever assaulted (sexual, or otherwise) and the Blanc situation seems to be showing evidence that suggests that the progress we as a society have made toward gender equality seems to be not as much as we had thought.
Basically, regardless of peoples’ sexual orientation/preferences, respect should be at the forefront of any and all interactions, especially when we’re talking about ‘romantic’ encounters.
I mean, yes – everyone has their own way of interacting, but there are some things that should be very clearly crossing the line and the WRONG way to go. I think the saddest thing with Blanc is how many followers are so keen to attend one of his ‘training sessions’ – and those things aren’t cheap, either! Honestly, it just seems mind-boggling.
So, to add my *free* two cents of wisdom: if you like someone, don’t be a jerk…the whole pulling pig-tails thing that is so gr. 2, really should stay in gr. 2. I mean, even Higa figured it out!!
So there are been a fair bit of discussion lately on the topic of how technology has brought about some rather impactful changes to society and teens in particular – and while there have been some pretty amazing good stuff that’s come out of it, there have also been some rather intense and harmful consequences…
First things first – what am I talking about. Well, to narrow down the tech I’m referring to, let’s say the connectivity of mobile tech and social media sites and apps. aka. Tumblr, Instagram, Facebook, Chatroulette, and Vine, just to name a few.
And for you lovely folk who are currently one of the millions of teens in the world at the moment, you have lived such an interesting and weird life!!!
Lol, seriously, try and imagine a world without everyone having cell phones. A world world where if you wanted to talk to you friend, you were either right in front of them, or they happened to be at home when you called them on the landline. A world where written communication was a letter that went through the postal service, and even if you lived in the same city, it would take at least 2+ days for it to reach them…unless you dropped it off in their mailbox yourself. Where if you wanted to show someone a picture you took, you’d have to grab the actual developed photo and physically bring it to them (not to mention that if you took a picture, you had to first finish that roll of film, then go to the store and wait for the film to be developed before you could see how the picture turned out!).
So, as I was saying, you have lived your whole life in a very weird world. Like, seriously, WEIRD! It’s insane. It’s super fast-paced, in your face, and constantly changing. It connects us all. It takes people (friends, acquaintances, and strangers alike) into our homes – H E double hockey stick – it can take people straight into your bedroom!
And it has changed us. But, I think maybe it has changed you even more so than those born pre-1990. And why? Because you are teenagers. Yep, that’s pretty much it.
Oh, technology! You’re so ageist!!
You guys are the age that that has this really odd mixture of knowing everything (though, well, you don’t actually know everything everything, but you sure do know a lot about certain things!) and yet not yet having the life experience, of having incredible power in the home you live in (amazingly enough) and very little at the same time (re: life experience). You are (relatively!) responsibility-free, all of your disposable income can likely go toward buying whatever you want. You are the target of numerous marketing campaigns. You are physiologically going through crazy changes – basically, your body is a wonderland for all the chemicals that are responsible for our emotions (hormones!!) to jump up and down and all over the place until they decide where they want to stay. You are living in a world where how and what the world thinks of you still matters to you – a lotmore than it probably will in the future.
And people, friends, companies will take advantage of that. Whether they do so in a way that is beneficial to you or not, is not up to you. And them’s the breaks. Which means that you need to make sure you stay in control as much as you can. Want to have an active online social scene? Fine, go for it – be the next Jenna Marbles or Ryan Higga, I’ll probably start following you (seriously…if you’re funny, witty, or musically talented, let me know).
But remember to keep yourself safe. While the positive gratification you can get from friends – or I guess I should say ‘friends’ or followers – is really great, don’t place too much importance on it, or don’t let it get to your head, or whatever – pick some other sage words of advise to the point of saying: Make sure you don’t lose yourself. How you choose to interpret that is up to you.
Keep in mind the bad things that have happened – cyberbullying is a byproduct that has never existed before, and it seems to be more harmful that any previous form of bullying and much more widespread to the ease of it. Becoming a bully has never been so easy; saying something nasty to someone via words on a screen are beyond simple, and it can be as public as you want.
Changing yourself or doing something because of pressures that either you are putting on yourself or others are putting on you…it’s just not worth it.
While it has been a few years since I lived my teenage years, I do remember them painfully poignantly. The good, the bad, and most especially, the ugly.
And to lighten the mood – here’s my sweety of a pup, Mercedes, in her Halloween costume from last year – She’s a princess, obviously =P (but she didn’t like wearing her tiara!)