Sunday, June 24, 2012

More Than Qualified (Kids Today)


Several summers ago I hired a nice, well-mannered person to lend a hand in my high-tech workplace. Pleasant enough, good sense of humor, polite in terms of the pleases and thank-yous. Spoke several languages fluently. More or less showed up for work in decent attire, albeit a tad wrinkly. And SO young. Privileged enough for an excellent education, worldly enough to have needed extra pages added to a well-traveled passport, but too young to rent a car.

My first Millennial.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Any Other Sunday

“I may not have gone where I intended to go, but I think I have ended up where I needed to be.”
― Douglas Adams, The Long Dark Tea-Time of the Soul
Father's Day. My day to reflect upon the fact that I've never turned any man into a father. Certainly not a daddy.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Team Muther vs Team Kaufman: Flip-flopping on the Issue

Boston Globe writer Christopher Muther has unwittingly sparked another round of heated debate amongst my circle of friends today. No, it's not about the unemployment rate or the high cost of housing. It's not about the way the Catholic church still treats women and it's not about Netanyahu or Chavez, or even Casey Anthony or George Zimmerman.

Some of you pro-floppers may want to click away from Low Budget Superhero now, because yes, dear reader, Mr. Muther's divisive write-up is about flip flops. 

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

With Friends Like These

Whenever I consider machine-gunning my Facebook account, I stay my hand. The problem is that I have some of the most well-read, pop culturally savvy, politically-aware and sharply intellectual friends, and despite the proliferation of the blog as a modern day conveyance of one's thoughts on any given topic, most of these friends do not, in fact, have blogs of their own. What they do have is Facebook, and even though half of what's posted on there is mind-numbingly stupid anymore, my own friends are generally spot-on, and as a bonus none of them use nearly as many hyphenated words as I do.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

This One's For Cats

So I've got this old-old online diary. Not to be confused with my, um, new-old online diary. It's not all archived here, because a lot of it was crap on a stick. Sometimes there wasn't even a stick. So basically just a pile of crap.

At one point in the early 2000s I would leap for my memo pad whenever life turned comical, and so we have, ladies and gentlemen, some fairly verbatim conversational gold spattered throughout those archives. Gold, I tell ya. I'm no fiction writer, I can't make this shit up. To wit, I give you "me and my mother on the phone."

Friday, June 1, 2012

Doggy Poo (Movie Review)

Title: Doggy Poo
Release Date: 2004
Run time: 33 minutes
Animated short, Korean

This odd little animated short is a uniquely-crafted fable offering a fresh, inspirational take on the meaning of life. The stop-motion animation is simple yet elegant, and the voice characterizations are delivered with candor, feeling and completely devoid of irony. Now when a film's protagonist is a sad, bulbous mound of excrement, it's easy to summarily dismiss it as ridiculous, trite, even tasteless. But remember, it wasn't so very long ago that parents were gazing quizzically at the television as their delighted children squealed at the antics of a yellow sponge wearing jeans. At the end of the day, it isn't so much the animal, chemical or mineral make-up of the main character, but whether or not the story achieves a poignant emotional high. This tale of a hopeful little pile of poo brings the viewer along on a shared journey, and why not, as every one of us seeks to find our place in the...

...dude, you were seriously gonna keep reading that? No. What you just read is literally the worst kind of writing, in my opinion. Here's the real on Doggy Poo: it is SO WEIRD but you should see it.

I first stumbled across Doggy Poo in 2007. Somehow I'd come across  the cover art online, and if you know me at all, you know I watched that shit twice and then posted an essay on Diaryland. Now it's five years later. Every person who watched Doggy Poo because of me feels a certain kinda way about it, as will you, especially Generation X. As kids, our entertainment characters included a whole multiverse of monsters, dolls, fairy tale things, vaguely humanoid weirdlings and a bunch of unexplainables. Those would be Smurfs, Weebles, the Schmoo, Cousin Itt, Grimace. Everything talked. From an adult perspective, I've grown to appreciate today's "things," like Pokemon, Spongebob, and whatever the Yo Gabba Gabba guy Muno* is -- but even Muno's one-eyed nubbed-for-her-pleasure shape are nothing compared to the strangeness of Doggy Poo.

So allow me to tell you about Doggy Poo.

Once pinched out of a grunting puppy's butt, Doggy Poo plops onto the side of the road, and there he sits, miserable, immobile. Doggy Poo can only mewl, moan, cry and hiccup, forced to endure ongoing torment by wild birds, barn fowl, a year's worth of weather, and a mean pile of soil. Poo's keening mouth quivers, his eyes fill with tears and stream down his...cheeks? On the one hand, you want to sympathize. On the other hand is a plastic glove holding a pooper-scooper.

That's one mean pile of soil. 

Soil is the antagonist who tells Doggy Poo what he is in a taunting tone. "You know where you came from, what else did you think you were?" Soil is eventually guilted by Poo's sorrow into apologizing, but not before his taunts have made Doggy Poo sob appallingly for endless minutes. Soil tells his own sad story: having been dug out of the ground where he was perfectly happy fulfilling his life's work of growing potatoes, he got shoveled onto a cart, and then jounced out and onto the road, where he will soon die at the next passing cart's wheel.

Thanks for bumming everybody out, Soil.

Easy to miss given its litany of quirks is the problem of Doggy Poo's time span. The puppy takes a dump in autumn. Through sweeping scenery shots it is suggested that a year passes. In that entire year not one person swept away a grunt in the road? Nor did it get driven over, stepped in, trod upon or washed away in the rain. You begin to wonder if maybe this is going to morph into story about a super-heroic, indestructible poo. Maybe the title is actually his superhero name. Maybe he'll get a cape and a leotard. Big "DP" on the front in comic book font.

Or not.

Okay, I'm poking fun at Doggy Poo. But obviously it made an impression, since this is the second time I'm writing about it, you clicked on this and you've read the whole thing. So I feel I owe you guys this much: It's an uniquely-crafted fable offering a decidedly strange but fresh take on the meaning of life. The stop-motion animation is simple yet elegant, and the voice characterizations are delivered with candor, feeling and completely devoid of irony. Though Doggy Poo dabbles with some universal themes such as entitlement, morality, destiny and class warfare, the ultimate message is that everyone here has a purpose in life. Even if you're just a piece of shit. You know who you are. ∎

(* Muno is a big talking dildo)




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