May 24th, 2004

Wedding day

What I thought of Troy (including why stupid people shouldn't see it)

Dad's birthday yesterday was nice. We were going to go out to a movie and then dinner, but sometime between Thursday night and Sunday morning, the plans changed and Dad ended up cooking pork on the grill. After lunch we went to see Troy. I'd heard both very good and very bad things about the movie, and my opinion is somewhere in the middle. It was a lot like Master and Commander in that I wouldn't pay to see it again, but it was a slick, polished Hollywood movie that holds the audience's attention. The ending credits say that Troy was "inspired by" The Iliad, rather than "adapted from" or "based on," so I wouldn't go as far as to use the word "butcher" to describe what the movie does to the story told in The Aeneid and The Iliad, but it's really compressed. I suppose it was either that or make a 20-hour PBS miniseries. The subtleties of Homer's version didn't make the translation from page to screen, and the gods don't show up to make aliances with or manipulate the characters. The major travesty of the film is that Homer's version is full of Big Important Moral lessons which aren't in the movie at all. Rather than simply ignoring them, parts of the story are totally rewritten to avoid them for no reason at all. This neither simplifies nor shortens the movie.

Anyway, that's the bad stuff. The good stuff? It's a film made for the lowest common denominator of moviegoers. That sounds like an insult, but I stress the word "common." Troy could've been much better movie, or a much worse one, but this way more people are going to like it which means more people are going to see it, the studio will be able to justify their expense, and that, ultimately was the point or making the movie. The story contains enough action and romance to keep everybody engaged, the casting, when it's not great, is still pretty good, and the directing is adequately competent.

Brian Cox is probably a more accurate King Agamemnon, but I liked Sean Connery better.

I'm also torn between feeling pity for and wanting to hit people like the woman behind us who, when Achilles got shot through the heel with an arrow, said something like "Oh! Achilles has an Achilles' heel! That was cheap joke." There was also the guy who, on the way out, was angry that the newspaper review gave away the ending -- as if 8th grade World Literature didn't.

Anyway... That was the movie. We went back to Stoughton, had supper, I went home, and that was pretty much my day. Today has gone by fairly quickly, which isn't good because I can't concentrate. That's why I'm writing in my journal.
  • Current Music
    Kneel Diamond -- Sweet Ermengarde
Wedding day

The Coolest Thing Ever (revised)

Alright. Waaay back in 1996, when "Weird Al" Yankovic released his album Bad Hair Day, it had a song on it called Everything You Know Is Wrong, which was a stylistic parody of the style of They Might Be Giants. Song was clearly supposed to sound like something John Linnell would write, and though the chord structure was way off, and the instrumentation wasn't right, it was roundly declared The Coolest Thing Ever by my friends.

Everything You Know Is Wrong eventually made way for The Curse of Monkey Island by LucasArts, but CMI didn't quite have the same charm as the first two Monkey Island games. Ron Gilbert had nothing to do with it, and the dialogue, while witty, lacked the sparkling brilliance of this exchange from the first game:
Guybrush Threepwood: You fight like a dairy farmer!
Carla the Swordmaster: How appropriate. You fight like a cow.
In time, CMI was supplanted by Blue Öyster Cult's comeback album, Heaven Forbid. Heaven Forbid is great. Really, it is, but the cover art turned a lot of fans off to the album, because it's a little disturbing (unless you have the European version, which features a painting of a woman who looks like Heather Locklear holding a scepter bearing the "inverted Saturn symbol." Uh, anyway...), so when Rob Matsushita's Irish Lesbian Vampire 2 opened, it quickly took center stage.

ILV2K was fantastic. It had great characters, a kickass soundtrack, and to this day I can't hear the song Come On Eileen without thinking of guns -- lots of 'em. Unfortunately, like any exploitation film play, the whole thing looks mediocre on paper. The play eventually closed, and in time, the magic surrounding the script died somewhat. I came to understand that the joy of ILV2K came more from that specific production than the play itself.

Around this time, They Might Be Giants and announced TMBG Unlimited, a subscription-based MP3 service which included a healthy monthly dose of TMBG MP3s. TMBG Unlimited, unfortunately, disappointed a lot of fans who apparently didn't realize that the promise of "new songs and previews of upcoming album tracks" would mean that they'd hear most of the new album before it was out in stores. As a result, Homestar Runner became The Coolest Thing Ever. It held this position, but occasionally it took a backseat to other things such as:
  • TMBG's soundtrack to Malcolm in the Middle (until the second season, where their additions to the show started diminishing)

  • the animated feature of The Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath (until the first previews came out -- it's not bad, but I'd like to see it get the full LOTR treatment)

  • Terry Gilliam's The Man Who Killed Don Quixote and Good Omens (until the former got cancelled and the latter started looking more and more dubious)

  • Full Throttle 2 and Sam and Max: Freelance Police (until both projects were cancelled)

  • Twin Peaks Season 2 on DVD (until they pushed the release date back to Never)

  • "Weird Al" Yankovic's Genius In France (except that too few of his fans know Zappa well enough to appreciate the song)
As you can see, all of these things, though cool, leave a little to be desired. I've since come to understand that the Coolest Thing Ever is a fusion of a couple of these things: it's an unholy alliance between The Brothers Chaps and They Might Be Giants.

And it's coming to be.

Oh yes. It started with Strong Bad E-mail #99, which featured a song composed by TMBG with words by TBC. Most recently, this partnership has yielded the Puppet Jam presently linked to on Homestar Runner. The Puppet Jam isn't even that great, but it's a taste of things to come: a video animated by The Brothers Chaps for the song Experimental Film, which will be featured on TMBG's upcoming album The Spine.

The naughties have been a very good decade so far for those of us who like TMBG, what with the movie Gigantic, tons o' multimedia projects, and approximately 300 new or previously unreleased studio recordings totalling more then ten hours of music.

I'm a happy boy.
  • Current Music
    They Might Be Giants -- Happy Doesn't Have To Have An Ending