Sunday, August 03, 2014

Under The Skin Ennui

Last night I felt like I had a bit of attention deficit disorder as I was restless and couldn't quite decide on what to watch, and I think some of that ennui came about from watching Under The Skin, the newest SF art film.  In it Scarlett Johansson plays an alien seductress who prowls the streets of Glasgow, Scotland in search of male prey.  Not exactly a novel idea, as early SF films started out with a similar aliens or monsters need a mate tropes (Queen of Outer Space with Zsa Zsa Gabor, Creature From the Black Lagoon, or more recently, Species, etc.).  At any rate it's a slow film, without much dialogue, so don't expect Transformers or Michael Bay, or really much of a plot.  I sort of knew this going into it, but I was still restless. 

So I channeled surfed a bit while watching Under the Skin, and landed on the Cartoon Channel.  There I found some interesting anime.  Attack on Titan was about these large alien creatures, the Titans, (that look like large human giants) stalking the land and eating humans.  The humans are trying to stave them off.  The rebels  use these jet packs, and tactics to defend their fortress.  I'm catching the series in the middle? of it, so it's not like I have the full story.

 I'd go back and catch Johansson's alien striptease, then back to anime. Space Dandy is a more comedic anime, about a bounty hunter-type character, that cruises the spaceways for adventure with his robot and alien cat-like companion.  Last night they were fishing on an alien world for a mythic fish, wherein a reward/bounty was offered for its capture.  Very stylistic art, sort of psychedelic, Sgt. Peppers/ Yellow Submarine-like, pretty light on content, allowing the art to shine, but a pretty interesting series.

There were a couple of other animate cartoons on there I'm interested in, but it got late so I taped them for later: Blue Exorcist, a newer Batman series, and some Cowboy Bebop, which I probably haven't seen, though I've seen some of the earlier episodes of Cowboy Bebop, and they are a lot of fun.

Today, I'm putting together some poems or designing a short program for a spoken word program for the Apex Theatre 20 here in Tyler.  I'm more or less going into this blind as I don't know much about it at all.  I assume it's a collective of like-minded individuals that are getting together to see if the Tyler community will support such an event.  They had one last month, and I didn't attend, but I've decided to see if it will be worthwhile, and hopefully will meet a few people in the process too.

The theme for tonight's program is compassion, so I have a few things I've assembled to accommodate that theme.  I think I'm going to read a poem by the Japanese poet, Toyohiko Kagawa, a humanitarian author, who worked in the slums of Japan and saw disease and other human tragedies.  He was converted to Christian faith after his parents died, and then adopted, and though his poems speak of the terrible plights of the people in the slums, there's also a hope in his poems.  He was nominated for a Noble Peace prize for his writing.

The other piece is prose written by Frances Nail.  It comes from her book, Crow in the House, Wolf at the Door.  It's written about her growing up in a small rural part of Texas.   Her two brothers died while quite young in their teens, one was hit in the head playing baseball and developed meningitis, and the other developed pneumonia. It's about their absence, and her remembrances of her family during those growing years.  She's a writer that started writing late in life around the age of 70, and was later found by the Houston Chronicle, who later started publishing her work, which is now collected in books.  She's also a visual artist as well.  Her stories are very personal and highly readable.

The third selection I may read (still deciding) is a poem I wrote for my cousin, Mark.  He was shot during the University of Texas tower incident on August 1, 1966 in which Charles Whitman shot and killed sixteen people and injured and wounded thirty-one others.  Mark was the same age that I was when this happened (age 16).  My family had just moved from East Texas to West Texas when it happened.  Whitman first killed his wife and mother by stabbing and shooting them, and then killed the woman that was the receptionist at the Tower.  As he was setting up his arsenal of firearms along the top of the tower to begin his shooting spree, my aunt and uncle and cousins had headed up the tower to sight see.  At that time it was a noted landmark.  After the incident, they closed down the Tower, and I'm glad that they did at least for a while. 

They've since opened it back up, and the last time my sister and I were in Austin, we visited the Tower.  They now have armed guards on duty when you pay for tickets at the bottom of the building, and you go through a metal detector to get in as well.  I had such an eerie feeling as I rode the elevator up to the top of the Tower, and then walked the final steps up to the landing.  One of the things that I found different from the way that I had imagined it was that I thought there might be more room up there, but it's barely wide enough to squeeze around two people along the walkway going around the Tower.  In my mind, I thought the landing was more spacious.  The tour guides told a bit about the historical aspects of the building and tower, the large clock at the top, and the lightening system that is used when UT plays football, but omitted the Whitman incident, which I can understand.

If you look between the bars where I'm standing, you can see the Capital building off in the distance.


At 5:12 AM, Blogger Richard Bellush said...

Yes, xenophilia does have a long history, my favorite title (and not a bad movie) being “I Married a Monster from Outer Space” (1958).

Scarlett doesn’t seem comfortable in (so to speak) her own skin lately, much as her fans are fond of it. In “Lucy” she vanishes into another plane of existence. In “Her” she is just a voice from the outset. In “Under the Skin” beauty is literally skin deep.

That must have been an eerie experience at the tower. Revisits of that sort have a way of warping time for us. My sister (d. 1995 of natural causes) was the poet of the family – I have a bunch of her early stuff (“Echoes of the Boom”) posted at my site. Never having been happy with my metered efforts, I stick with prose, so I haven’t tried a hand at poetic tributes. A prose essay about the day I learned of my ex’s murder called Wake Up Call would be my closest thing to it. Do you still write poetry?

At 11:08 AM, Blogger El Vox said...

I do still write some poetry Richard, though not as active as I once was. Part of that is I just don't think it's that marketable (next to zilch really), not that that should be a factor. For me it was just a creative outlet and fun anyway.

I like it because you can sit down and write a poem quickly (I mostly write free verse), and it's not as involved as say a short story or anything longer. I'm amazed when I think of writers like Stephen King or J.R.R. Martin who are prolific. They must sit and write and write and have an acute way of centering themselves for such goals.

The other is my brother passed at the end of 2012 and I was named executor to his estate. I have much of that behind me, but for a few outstanding things. Still it depresses me to think about that time frame (and him) as we were close though he lived in Dallas we talked nearly ever day on the phone and would get together when possible.

Family is the best thing ever. I have a sister up in the Denver area, but she has her own family, and though I care for her, I guess due to being the same gender made me and my brother closer, plus when she moved to get married that just left us.

My poetry tends to be outside the norm :) But nature appeals to me, and I've written some about SF and fantasy as well. It's varied. I tend to not write about love or death per se.

At 11:11 AM, Blogger El Vox said...

Oh, by the way I have a copy of I Married A Monster From Outer Space. I saw that on a double bill with The Blob. I still remember the giant lobby cards of The Blob that stood upright in the lobby. It was my first monster/SF flick and they scared the piss outta me, and gave me nightmares for some time. Ah childhood :)

At 8:06 AM, Blogger Roman J. Martel said...

I still need to see "Under the Skin" it sounds like the kinda film I'd enjoy. Just have to be in the right mood.

I've heard some really good things about "Attack on Titan". It is definitely on my "to watch" list, which keeps getting longer and longer. One of my pals is a big fan of "Space Dandy". I should give that one a shot too.

I just started watching a newer anime series called "Sword Art Online" about a an MMORPG that traps the players inside. If they die in the game, their bodies die in the real world. Basically a spin on "Tron" but so far it is very entertaining. Survived my 4 episode test. If an anime doesn't grab me by the 4th episode, I'll usually pass it up.

At 10:39 AM, Blogger El Vox said...

Roman I understand your four episode litmus test. I'm pretty much the same way, and I think I can figure out whether or not I might like some kind of music even quicker.

But I will say one thing, sometimes with these episodic animes series: they are a bit longer winded, and take longer to get into. I didn't think Neon Gen was all that special, though I can appreciate it now. I started trying to figure out why it was on so many anime top list.

So I went on YT, and watched a few reviews of the series, which usually I don't like doing because most reviews drop so many spoilers, but I thought I had nothing to lose as I hadn't planned on going back to the series.

Anyway, due to digging a bit further, it renewed my interest. I'm up on episode nine now. I still think I like the movie anime better, as it's shorter and more to the point. But I'm glad I went back and watched some of the reviews to get a bit more feedback on the series.


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