Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for the ‘Entertainment’ Category

I’ve always described Game of Thrones as an eight-year object lesson in Stockholm syndrome. Almost every important story arc is about somebody coming to identify with their captors or kidnappers. How many times has somebody fallen in love with or identified with, those who have captured, degraded or beaten them, robbed them of their true selves? How many times have captives taken kidnappers’ values as their own? Theon was a hostage. Sansa was a hostage. Lyanna Stark. Arya. Daenerys. Jamie. Jon. It’s not one plotline. It’s more than half of them.

And after a week of reading unhinged rants by fans angry about this season, I’m starting to think the last hostages were the audience, the people too closely identifying with characters who “suddenly” did indefensible things, when in fact they had always been doing indefensible things. We cheered on revenge; we put our hopes in outcomes that couldn’t possibly be good and people who couldn’t possibly succeed in moral ways. Beheadings. Burnings at the stake. Crucifixions. Daggers in the heart. We were always happy to let these things happen to the right people–and that has always been the meretricious nature of fascism. (Our favorite character Tyrion nicely bright-lined this problem last night in the finale.)

So the show in the end did the absolute right thing: made us see our addiction to wrongness and did it in an accelerating pace the way all good fiction does as it races toward its end–in a frenzy of action that excited and shattered us in equal measure. That is so very difficult to accomplish. I think the show completely lived up to its promise and was right to break our hearts. We live in a world where good people turn evil out of political and religious conviction, as well as from conviction in the movements they join and from the false esteem they place in empty symbols (red hat, anybody?)

Spoiler here: Did Daenerys Targaryen turn evil too fast? She’d been fighting for innocent victims her whole life, right? Well, she’d also been crucifying and burning people, too. And doing so mostly out of conviction in her own destiny. Her empathy had always come in part from being downtrodden herself. And the moment she lost that empathy was the moment she finally seized total power–and knew the potential that the downtrodden of the world will never know. She’d had her closest advisors either die or turn on her and the only political capital she had was the fire and blood she’d always promised. I waited for this scene to feel forced to me, like the writers were coaching me how to feel over my shoulder. I never did. And trust me, I’m a writer of fiction. And a former critic. I know when it’s happening. My anger and sadness came from knowing that this change in a character, who had developed a obdurate existential quality all her own, was totally inevitable.

One of the most heartbreaking things was Tyrion’s insistence to Grey Worm that he still wanted to fulfill his queen’s ideals, even though his queen needed to die to fulfill them. It was a tragic admission that the queen and her ideals could not together be. Virtue and power come into conflict. This show isn’t Shakespeare, but the parallels to Caesar should have been obvious and should have been the context we put this tragedy in.

I was just asked in a chat room about why I singled out Arya Stark as a serial killer when she lives in a world of killers. I was just using the dictionary definition, friend … and you’ve employed moral relativism here why?

I’ve also seen chat room fanatics argue the show owes it to fans, the ones who kept the show alive, to give them more of what they wanted. In other words, they should have been pandered to more. As the great comedian Julie Brown once pointed out in a TV sketch, when fans write the shows, we end up with nothing but women in bikinis playing volleyball.

But my sincere condolences to the Game of Thrones fans who have been let down by their heroes and, especially, their feminist heroines this month. I am shocked and saddened to learn that so many people did not seem to understand what show they were watching for eight years.

Advertisements

Read Full Post »

It was difficult la-okc-trip-2004-029.jpggrowing up with the name “Eric Rasmussen” for a few obvious reasons. It’s a funny name for children to say, and given children’s talent for innovation, a fun name to mock. (“Raisin Muffin” was the sobriquet the junior high kids finally settled on for me.)

My name is now a problem for a different reason: It’s not anywhere near as as rare as many people think it is. “Rasmussen” is kind of like the Scandinavian “Smith.” and “Eric” is a natural fit for it. So not only are there tons of Eric Rasmussens in New York City (I even bumped into one at a party), but tons of them working in the same fields I work in–fiction, music, film and journalism. After I began recently releasing a slate of my novels, I realized there’s another Eric Rasmussen who writes short stories. He, like me, is published in several places.

I’m a hyphenate, which makes things more confusing. I’ve been working in at least four different media for years, subjects I’ve been passionate about since my teens. I never saw a reason not to pursue all of them at once, and I dare say I’m good at some of them. But to the outside world (and definitely to a career coach) it probably looks like I have multiple personality disorder.

So now I realize it’s become necessary to tell people both who I am and who I’m not. I talk about the latter in this companion piece. But for now, I’m going to give you my CV, if for some reason you get confused about which Eric Rasmussen you’re dealing with. My name is Eric Randolph Rasmussen. I grew up in Oklahoma, went to college in Austin, Texas, and I’ve lived in New York City for over two decades. I have a fairly large amount of content on the internet in multiple media.

Journalism

I’ve been a journalist since my college days. I focused first on arts and entertainment; in 1997, I started writing about finance. The following are the publications I’ve written for (if you see my name pop up in a different newspaper or magazine, it is not I):

The Daily Texan (the University of Texas student newspaper)
The Austin Chronicle
The Alcalde (The University of Texas alumni magazine)
Io magazine
Swing
magazine
Civil Engineering
Investment Management Weekly
Financial-Planning.com
Nurseweek
Financial Advisor magazine

Film

I’ve been making short films since 2006, and created a web series with my wife from 2007 to 2009. These are my works:

S&M Queen For A Day (2006)
Scrabble Rousers (2006)
The Retributioners (web TV series, 2007-2009)
Candy Rocks Doesn’t Grow Up (a screenplay and semi-finalist for the Austin Film Festival comedy screenplay competition in 2012)

Music

I am the sole musical artist behind Salon de la Guerre, which just released its 19th album. I worked on music through the 1990s, but didn’t start releasing definitive versions of my songs until 2007 on MySpace and didn’t start publishing them in album form until 2012. As of April 2019, I had 276 songs in circulation.

I’m listing the albums here with the dates I published them on the streaming sites (these are not the copyright dates of the songs, which go back as far as 1993). My albums are:

Time-Traveling Humanist Mangled by Space Turbine (2012)
Four-Track Demons (2014)
Diasporous (2014)
The Mechanical Bean (2014)
Toe-Tapping Songs of Pain and Loss (2014)
Your Eyes Have Mystic Beams (2014)
Clam Fake (2016)
Roses Don’t Push the Car Home (2016)
Gravitas: A Life (2016)
Liberty (2016)
The Church of Low Expectations (2016)
In the Lake of Feral Mermaids (2017)
The Widowhood of Bunny (2017)
Keep Your Slut Lamp Burning (2017)
Driver, Take This Cab to the Depths of the Soul (2017)
All Else Dross (2017)
Yipano (2018)
You’re Going To Regret What You Did (2018)
Bleed (2019)

Fiction

I’ve been writing fiction for well over two decades; however, for many reasons, most of them banal, my seven novels sat unpublished on my computer for years. A couple of months ago, that all changed: I began releasing my novels as e-books on Amazon, with the hopes of releasing the paperback versions on the platform later in the year. As of yesterday, five of my novels are now available on the site, and I plan to release the other two (one of which has three volumes) later this year. The books are mostly comic, though they also stretch into historical fiction and absurdism.

Here’s the complete list (I’ve listed the dates I released them on Amazon, though many of these books were finished at least five years ago):

Zip Monkey (2019)
Detective J (2019)
Letters to My Imaginary Friend Leticia (2019)
Traffic Waitress (2019)
Did it End? (2019)
American Banjo (2019)
The Ghost and the Hemispheres, Vol 1-3 (planned release date: 2019)

Poetry

My big plan as a teenager was to be a poet, and oddly enough, this is the field I’m least prolific in. I have only some few dozen poems to my name, almost all of which are available on this blog. However, I did get a few bits into the college literary magazine back in the day:

Analecta 1989-1991 (the University of Texas literary and arts journal)

The Blogosphere

Beauty is Imperfection is the blog you are reading right now. I started posting these little musings on MySpace in late 2006 and switched over to WordPress in 2009, moving a lot of the MySpace content over after seeing that the latter platform was dying.

As my long-suffering readers know, even in my blogging life, I’m something of a schizophrenic. For its first few years, Beauty Is Imperfection was a comedy blog with lots of Top 10 lists and other silliness, most of which was meant to help create buzz about my web series, The Retributioners. In 2010, my mother died, and the blog took on a more somber tone, and I also started posting a lot of political material to give the world a taste of my long-stifled polemical voice. My posts have been infrequent in the last few years; occasionally I post new poetry, but otherwise I use the blog to let people know about all these many other projects I’m working on.

Hopefully, this post gives you a more complete picture of me. I rarely talk about these projects with friends and colleagues, mostly because I’m not the bragging sort, I don’t like to shove art down people’s throats and I know how much great, perhaps better art is out there that I’m competing with. I’m offering this summary of my career mostly to help people navigating the internet avoid confusion if they see a name like mine and don’t know whom they are dealing with.

For the record, I haven’t written any plays.

Read Full Post »

What early characters were written out of George R.R. Martin’s finished drafts of A Song of Ice and Fire, the books behind HBO’s Game of Thrones?

–*Ser Talwyn, the Regifter

–*Queen Birgit the Apostate

–*Ser Warren the Insipid

–*Ser Mountain, Son of Molehill

–*The Pastry Knight

–*Ser Mantos the Sterile

–*Ser Dentos, the Impacted

–*Ser Eryl the Unweaned

–*Braven the Frotteurist

–*Magon the Unimpressive

–*Ser Fallos the Medium Talent

–*Ser Siddy the Umbrage-Taker

–*Ser Ballis the Huggy

–*Pollox, the Smart if Poor of Judgment

–*Tolyn Fuckjoy

–*Mirris Prepucepincher

–*Flavius Scroatworthy

–*Cousin Oliver

–*Fedon the Wood Respecter

–*Ser Color Swatch

–*Eleanor of Screwtown

–*Talys the Unbrassiered

–*Koros the Unclasper

–*Wondish the Pre-diabetic

–*Faleish of the Husks

–*Mellish of the Duck Lands

–*Dropcup

–*Fallmud

–*Burnface

–*Feliox the Hyperactive

–*Matten the Attention Deficit Disordered

–*Mentos, the Freshmaker

 

Read Full Post »

I’m thinking of a film called “The World’s Greatest Lover” right now. A 1977 film. Written and directed by Gene Wilder. It never got a lot of love from critics, and while I understand why, it’s always been comfort food for me as a Wilder fan. Because in some ways I always saw him as a silent film star out of his time–stuck in the 1970s, when method acting and documentary realism ruled. Really, how out of place would Wilder be if you dropped him into “Metropolis” or “The General” or “The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari”? He was a walking special effect. His own form of commedia dell’arte. He wrote things like the fake cane scene from “Willy Wonky” himself and made simple shtick rise above silliness. Pair him with perfect expressionist film heroine Carol Kane as his wife, both dreaming bigger things while trying to stay happy together, and you still have something very poignant. Beyond that …. “Blazing Saddles,” “The Producers,” “Young Frankenstein,” “Willy Wonka” I’m with the rest of you, and am reminded how important this man was to my childhood. RIP.

Read Full Post »

–*Ten childhood actors who now have goiters.

–*Ten stars with the most intractable liver diseases.

–*Celebs who are not afraid to munch carpet right in your face.

–*Who are the 10 biggest Noam Chomskys?

–*Bet you didn’t know these people were anti-Semites.

–*You’ll never guess what happened to this puppy that climbed into a coffer of unexploded Qassam rockets.

–*This part-time gym teacher destroys theory of evolution.

–*This woman nailed it with her letter to the compliance department about proper processes and work flow alerts.

–*Ten metacarpals most easily smashed with a claw hammer.

–*Ten richest celebs who weren’t rich enough to tip me 20%.

–*How many languages can Bibi Netanyahu say “Go fuck yourself” in?

–*The 100 hottest pictures of people who are purportedly Selena Gomez.

–*You’ll never guess what countries you can buy a child in right now.

–*Ten celebrities surprisingly small enough to put in a trunk.

–*These shocking facts will shock you shocking shock.

–*Carrie Fisher insulted nerf herders. This nerf herder destroys her.

–*Five things you’re doing wrong right now.

–*This woman put a tomato in the refrigerator. The tomato destroys her.

–*Make your credit card do what your pancreas no longer can.

–*Ten celebrity hairstyles we hope to see on a YouTube puppy in the next 10 minutes.

–*Ten shocking GPS coordinates of women breastfeeding their babies in public right now.

–*These people took sides in the Israel-Palestinian debate. Watch what happens to their cars.

–*This person made a movie when she was 5. We destroy her.

–*You’ll never believe whose endoscopy footage this is.

Read Full Post »

In the 1990s, I once attended a poetry reading by Derek Walcott and Seamus Heaney in lower Manhattan. Both of them had already won their Nobel prizes in literature, and both had made indelible impressions on my young mind about the beauty of language, the possibilities of extended poetic works still being written in modern language, the hope for poetry in general.

Cost to see them both back to back: $5, a bit more than a Happy Meal. Can of waterproofing Scotchgard that year: about $8. The irony: priceless.

How could it be, I wondered, that two of the greatest living gifts to the English language cost less than the Verrazano Narrows bridge fare? (To Staten Island!) Something seemed horribly amiss. Sure, Walcott is a turgid, affectless speaker who does no justice to his own jaunty iambs when he speaks them out loud in his heavy basso profundo voice. But Heaney more than compensates. To hear him speak, “A rowan like a lipsticked girl” in his playful brogue with all his funny asides is a real hoot. Well worth $10 at least.

So when my wife mentioned last night to friends at dinner that the Jersey Shore‘s own Nicole “Snooki” Polizzi was speaking at Rutgers, I knew immediately that she would fetch more than any mere Nobel or Pulitzer prize winner. In fact, I could have written this OMG! story myself if I had just made a few phone calls. Supposedly Snooki, who likely doesn’t know who fought on whose side in World War I, is getting $32,000 to speak to kids who just finished their engineering and pharmaceutical science midterms. And as we know from efficient market theory, she is worth every penny, right?

Right?

Is it wrong to pay Snooki so much to speak to college students at a renowned university? Rutgers’ motto is, “Sun of righteousness, shine upon the West also.” Is it wrong to say, “Sun of righteousness, shine upon Snooki, also”? How about “Sun of righteousness, give the drummer some!”

As you know if you’re a regular Jersey Shore viewer, the morning sun shining on Snooki usually reveals only a full ashtray and a semen-stained cocktail dress. So what, exactly, will be illuminated on the Rutgers campus? Would Snooki, like Toni Morrison, both defend and attack the classical reading canon? Or would she just try to come up with variants on “Hold onto your dreams girls!” for an hour and a half? Would she recall that time JWoww peed behind the bar and use it as an allegorical statement on feminism and commodification? Would she remind people to stay in college and offer herself as a bad example? Would she remind us that Angelina is a back-stabbing whore and Rutgers students who even think of acting like Angelina better watch their step in her home town?

Would she talk to mostly business students about how to sell your brand and how powerful that brand can be if there’s a smell attached?

Really, what could Snooki tell Rutgers students that they don’t already know about drunk townies? Wasn’t it people like Snooki in high school who hastened a lot of us into college in the first place? Really, Rutgers, hasn’t she already done her job?

And that’s when it struck me:  It’s not the content of Snooki’s words that matter but Snooki herself. She has become a semion now. A walking representation of the post-industrial dream. With her proud provincialism, she leapfrogged over the moneyed swells and reminded them that all the money they are spending on college would have been better flushed down the toilet on one of the turnpike bathrooms as they made their way to the Shore, bitch.

You think I’m kidding, but consider that college tuition has been rising faster than everything–even stock appreciation–while salaries for most of us stall. The American dream of upward mobility still has a lot of power, but the perception of it and the reality of it are more at odds every year. When the people in the top 2% of income make 450 times more than those in the bottom 50%, when home ownership has become an unreachable aspiration in the new paradigm, and when retirement will likely be withheld longer as savings rates decline, you know for sure that the American dream seems ever more like a hustle, that it’s not guaranteed your children will be better off than you are, and that it’s time to look at moving to China or Brazil. (Look at the overseas currencies and you might get a sense of where your middle class is going.)

The idea that a good college education these days is going to deliver you the life that even your grandparents got is starting to seem pretty silly. Even law students are starting to think that the allure of their profession with its promise of high income is a scam. And of course, ask doctors how much they are making these days and if it’s what they expected.

It’s likely that the cast of Jersey Shore is smarter than we give them credit for. Supposedly, they are monetizing their celebrity with rich endorsement deals and making hay while the sun shines. But that is part of the sick, horrible lesson here: How many of us can reap wheat from personality? Is personality really going to be the next great American export, like cars, oil and IPods? How much of it do we have? When will it run out? How soon must I turn my son into a personality after he arrives if I am to start creating a nest egg? It seems like getting him to react to a sneeze on a YouTube video is the only way to fund his future. (Thirteen million views? Not too shabby!)

Snooki is coming to Rutgers, I surmise, to remind people of this very thing. “Study hard,” says Snooki, “But party harder.” May I suggest ending with “Pull my finger”?

She couldn’t be any worse than Derek Walcott.

Read Full Post »

Incarcerated swindler Bernie Madoff proved once again he just can’t shut up on Monday as he railed from prison that Oscar host James Franco offered a lackluster and uninspired performance Sunday night at the Academy Awards, and that Anne Hathaway was trying too hard.

“I know I’m no saint,” said the fraudster, now serving a 150-year prison sentence for bilking investors out of tens of billions of dollars. “But I really thought James Franco should have brought it. He thinks he’s all James Dean–that he’s above it all somehow. That doesn’t give the audience confidence. It just makes them hate you. He’s been doing that shtick since ‘Freaks and Geeks.’ and we’re not buying it anymore.”

Madoff also called the SEC a joke, said the entire U.S. government was a Ponzi scheme, and insisted that Anne Hathaway used too many costume changes to make up for her lack of charisma.

“She’s no comedienne,” said Madoff, whose hedge fund was a giant black box promising 10% returns with no underlying securities in it. “I don’t see why they can’t get Billy Crystal back to do the whole thing, not just some lame bit. He knows what comedy is. It means being willing to try anything for a laugh, being willing to fall on your face or use wit barbed with irony. Comedy doesn’t mean glamming it up for a lot of dead-behind-the-eyes teenagers and hoping your C-cups pass for personality.”

Madoff, who has ruined hundreds of families, wiped out billions in wealth and shamed his family, then turned his sights on Melissa Leo, who in an unguarded moment used the “F” word during her Oscar acceptance speech for “The Fighter.”

“This was your moment to shine, and instead you came off like a trailer-park mama with a jug head, bow legs and Vitamin D deficiency. You ought to give that gold statuette back to the artisan gold miner in Nicaragua who dug it out for you.”

Madoff also attacked the rules begun last year that allow 10 nominees into the best picture category.

“If you know the first thing about stock dilution, you know that it cheapens everybody’s share,” said Madoff. “Not that my fund was invested in any stocks, of course. I take full responsibility for my actions, unlike the Academy.”

The ceremony was watched by millions of viewers, including, allegedly, prisoner number 61727-054. It could not be ascertained by press time, however, if Madoff, who looked into the faces and televisions cameras and the eyes of regulators for years and convinced them he had a real business behind the Imperial granite and steel facade of the Lipstick Building, had actually watched the Oscars.

Madoff says he understands that Franco is a polymath currently getting advanced degrees while pursuing his acting career.

“That doesn’t impress me. It seems like he’s hyperactive and taking on more than he can chew. Why not do just one thing well, like acting, rather than jerking me off with your horrible Ryan Seacrest imitation and then pretending like you don’t care.”

Madoff also argued that the Twittering about the Oscars from the backstage and Colin Firth’s early anointment as winner further cheapened the awards.

“The magic is just not there,” said Madoff, who will spend the rest of his life eating jail food. “I don’t know if I’ll watch again next year. But I always like talking to reporters. It’s really lonely in here.”

Oscar Image: Francesco Marino / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »