Tuesday, April 26, 2005

A Crowe Is No Fighter For Seeming Sloshed

"A crow is no whiter for being washed."
-French Proverb
"I'd like to play passionate women, but no one will let me."
-Russell Crowe

I like Russell Crowe, now. It turns out he's not a full time jerk, as most people suspect, but when we see him react with his well-known "personality quirks" he's merely lashing out against people that are seriously bugging him.

My newly found respect for the man did not arise from a moving performance (though he was in a few good movies), nor did I swoon over his startingly mediocre music, and I hardly gained the respect I now have for him because of his public fisticuffs. This newly purchased affinity toward the begrudgingly plain actor came about after sitting down this morning to watch the latter half of an Inside the Actor[']s Studio episode that featured the Aussie export.

This 44-minute hour-long show revealed a surprisingly cogent man of entertainment that convinced me that he is not a muscled brute yearning for bloodshed as much as he is a chained rottweiler that only desires peace and quiet alone in his tiny, tiny doghouse. His approach to his craft was realistic yet respectful and his modesty was overwhelming.

That's the beauty of Inside the Actor[']s Studio (or ITAS to the hardcore fans), it opens an actor's vulnerability to the audience, because an audience is actually present at the filming. An actor interviewed is almost regarded as a substitute teacher or a guest lecturer for the period of time that host James Lipton's spotlight shifts to the chair across from his big oak desk.

It's really the new Behind the Music except the artist actually speaks about his or her craft in addition to all the tribulations they've experienced in front of adoring fans and box office grosses. It adds onto the interest factor that the former show lacked (did we really need an hour about the Bay City Rollers?). It seems as if the viewer is actually learning something about a trade that has become mysticized in media-centric modernity.

Like a lot of Behind the Music episodes, one comes out at the end of an ITAS with a newfound respect for the artist at the center (most of the time. I found that I had even less respect for Vanilla Ice at the end of his BTM than I did when the show started). And with this in mind, you can understand my newfound headnod to Russell Crowe.

Maybe it's a part of UK-thing, why even though the bastard dropped out of High School, he's still smarter than most of the student body at American universities. He can form a complete sentence and can speak in great detail, and at great lengths, about a particular subject without losing his focus or structure, and he values that quality in the people he meets as well. So, that's why I gave him the thumbs up earlier.

Many people today, and I've addressed this in a previous post at greater length, simply go to school to get a job. And why do they want to get a job? Simply to make money.

Don't lose me, now; I'm all for making money, but that's not the only reason why I'm making decisions about my future. There's a kid in my History class who says he'd love to major in the subject, but he won't specifically because there's no money in it. How unfortunate is that? He would rather get a degree he doesn't want to get a job he doesn't like just so he can make a lot of money. What about satisfaction with your life? I would rather have a job where I could come home at night and feel that my contribution was worthwhile. Is this just a pipe dream? Is this really beyond what I should expect out of my life on this planet? The only life I've got? To that I say fuck no--pardon my french.

Keep a good thought, and thank you, Mr. Crowe (and a slight smirk for the other Crowe), for keeping me from falling into a funk.

Monday, April 18, 2005

Even I Can't Understand Me

I'm taking a class in Linguistics, or the study of language, right now. What one basically does with a skill like linguistics is listen to how people talk. So, naturally, we talk a lot about different American dialects, and how they specifically differ.
Anyway, as I was browsing the list of my favorite sites today, I found this little test entitled What Kind of American English Do You Speak? and this intrigued me because, well, I've been paying particular attention to this subject since starting this class.
It can't be entirely accurate, it doesn't actually analyze your voice, but it asks some pretty good questions. My results are as follows...hopefully:

Your Linguistic Profile:

70% General American English
15% Yankee
10% Upper Midwestern
5% Dixie
0% Midwestern

As you can see, it divides your speech into percentages of various American dialects. I think it's pretty crazy...but maybe that's just me. For those of you who don't care, here's a link to something cool and this too.

Saturday, April 09, 2005

Deadwood, Part 1: I Promise I'm Getting Somewhere

In High School, I was what some scholars would call a Japanophile, that is, I loved all things Japanese. More specifically, I loved everything about ancient Japanese culture. My interest for this history died, however, by point of the timeline marked at about 1853, when, in my opinion at the time, the Japanese story went to pot.

To be even more specific, I loved all things samurai. I loved the attitude; the ethos; the weaponry (of course, what teenage boy could resist swords?); hell, even the clothing. I lived my life by these things, especially the attitude. It shaped who I became. But I don't worship it anymore; at least, not with the same fervor that I attacked it with before. Instead, I transfered my obsessive tendencies to other things. In other words, I started playing guitar.

I fell in love with the blues. And eventually, I became obsessed with them. Not your standard electric, fat, old-guy blues that you only find bald white guys playing, I mean real blues. Old, friggin' scary blues. Not, "My baby left me" blues, but "I'm running because I've kinda made a deal with the devil" blues. It connected with me; it made sense to me. It scared me, in a way. But I stopped trying to make that kind of music for many reasons. The main few being that I will never suffer they way they've had to throughout their lives, simply because of the fact that I'm white. Because of that and the way American society has shaped itself throughout its history, I will never know the type of discrimination that those musicians have had to endure. So, I gave it up and tried to find other music to make while still truly loving and appreciating the blues that taught me how to play.

I find it funny that I focused on these two subjects during my lifetime, because they are both things that I could never comfortably become. I could not become a samurai because I am not a) japanese, and b) living in 1600 Japan. Plus, I'd look pretty lame if I dressed up as one as is. I would not be comfortable as a blues musician because I would always be an imitator, unsettled by the same discomfort in the back of my mind if I gone through with trying to be a samurai. Always in imitation and deference to the "real" ones.

So, having realized this, I felt like I was falling into a personal trap: trying to be something that I could never be. And as the years passed, my interests have shifted, much to the confusion of some of my friends and relatives. Nothing earth-shattering, but something I could actually reach out to and touch, something that isn't completely possible in today's America, but more possible than my other dreams.

I will continue this in a second installment because I write too much as it is...