18 April 2018

A CRAP LOAD OF DRAWINGS BY TIM VIGIL

Back a long time a go when I still bought comics books I tried to collect everything I could drawn by Tim Vigil, even though I often found some of it a little too extreme in content for me. Not that I so easily offended but yea I can be if it seems gratuitous and for no other purpose than low brow shock value. By this time in life I had mostly stopped reading comics and bought them just for the art. I did not care for the story lines of some of his stuff, like Faust, but loved the meticulous and painstaking black & white drawings. This are later drawings and reflect what I think is best in Vigil's work. A rare eye for exquisite detail and drawing that seems to lack any Photoshopping. If there is digital enhancement, and there usually is anymore, I cannot detect it. The themes are are mostly vampire women in some sort of almost Hammeresque setting. Hard to go wrong with that as subject matter. 













03 April 2018

FIRST NICK FURY, THEN ALEXANDER HAMILTON, AND NOW... JESUS CHRIST

Father, forgive them. They know not who they vote for. 


What's the buzz? Tell me what's a' happening? Well, for one thing this recent TV production of Jesus Christ Superstar looks look a load of retarded crap. And I will just come out and say it, casting an urban looking black dude as Christ is ridiculous and an utterly politically motivated move. Of some sort or another. Of what sort I have no clue but the source is coming from the left. I should say first that I am not a Christian, but that I also do not disdain Christianity or see it as the scourge of history and civilization. I sometimes read parts of the Gospels or the books of Pslams and Proverbs. I know about the book of Revelations from horror movies.  I am also not a fan of the Jesus Christ Superstar stage productions, including the hippie style Norman Jewson film, but the original studio recording (featuring the awesome Ian Gillian of Deep Purple as Jesus) on Decca Records is still one of my favorite pieces of music and occasionally I give a few favored tracks a "spin"on the old media player. I have seen clips of various stage performances on Youtube but I am not a fan of stage stuff. They are all just high school plays or talent shows with higher production values. Stage stuff always reeks of social elitism. Why in the hell people still even go to plays and musicals is beyond me. But who cares. Maybe I just have never seen a really good one. Well I have never even seen a bad one. Oh yea, I saw some weird ass opera/dance thing with the music of Philip Glass and the words of Allen Ginsberg. Yea, that's what happened to me maybe. I will also add that this is only piece of music I have ever listened to by Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice. You know most people do not even know who Tim Rice is. Or even who Bernie Taupin is for that matter. You should know. Don't know about anything from Cats or any of his/their other stuff. 

But I just heard of this new JCSS yesterday and decided to check into it. I immediately hit the breaks when I saw that Jesus was black. Albiet a fairly light skinned black dude of course, but still black. Yea, that's right. I said it. Its the end of the world. What next? A black Buddha or Krishna? Unlikely. That wold offend the peoples of those religions. As it should. Of course we would never see a black Mohammed, who probably was the blackest of the bunch,  because that would be an utter insult simply by depicting the character at all and in way shape or form.   Islam must never be offended by Hollywood, Broadway or American television. Thats is called Islamophobia. Yikes! And not only that but people would be risking their lives in producing and attending Mohammed Superstar. We all know that is the truth. But why Jesus then? 

The main characters of JCSS are Jesus and Judas and the story centers on the troubled relationship between them, with Judas being portrayed rather sympathetically. The way it is done on the record is excellent. Jesus is played by John Legend  and Judas is played by Brandon Victor Dixon. Dixon is known for his role in some trashy sounding stage production called Hamilton that depicts the life of founding father and first treasurer Alexander Hamilton (the man on the ten dollar bill) as a person of color of one sort or another! The main performer is a hispanic guy. Yea. And the man who killed Hamilton in a dual, the then sitting Vice Presidency Aaron Burr, is played by Dixon. A black dude with a raging hard on for Mike Pence. It is utter liberal black/brown washing of history and no one eats it all up more than guilt ridden elitist white people with the spare bucks enough to afford the tickets to all these pricey shows. And hardly any religious character in history is more maligned and despised by American liberals and progressives than Jesus. Not even Satan is so hated. But suddenly give them a black Jesus and they be all over dat shit. "hey, I still hate Jesus, but since he is black now I better pretend to like him! I don't wanna be racist!" The show is praised and praised and praised by liberal white critics who are afraid to say anything negative about a musical with a couple black performers in the lead and a bunch of ghetto thugs and heavy metal rockers (like Alice Cooper himself who claims to be a Christian) as the rest of the cast.

 Ice Jesus Dogg busted by the Tattooed Sanhedrin Panthers! 


Is there something wrong with casting a black man as Jesus? I dunno. But I feel there may be.  Is there anything wrong with casting a white guy as Martin Luther King? I think so. And one can argue that no one knows what Jesus looked like. True. Or even if he actually existed at all I suppose and if he did he did not look like some heroin addicted Swede. But then, why not cast a Chinese guy as Jesus then!? Or at least a Mexican dude!? Or... a real Jewish person!? Because it HAS to be a black dude in order to make a point, and the cast should be made of people who hate conservatives and are anything but traditional Christians. Okay, I doubt hedonistic wild man Ian Gillian is a Bible thumper. And traditionally the role of Judas has usually (but not always) been a black performer in the JCSS productions, such as Ben Vereen who portrayed Judas in the early stage shows and as Carl Anderson did in the film adaptation. But this reeks of sickening social justice entertainment. The audience no doubt filled up by the likes who laughed and cheered when barf worthy Kathy Griffin chortled "suck it Jesus" when she received some vacuous entertainment award. Haha, that's funny and applause worthy you know. Telling Jesus to suck it. But they are standing in lines to get tickets to this tripe I can assure you. 

So, is there something wrong with casting a black man as Jesus? No, I guess not. But there is nothing wrong with Jesus being depicted in the image he has traditionally been portrayed in either. Out of a type of respect and reverence. There is no doubt the image that Buddha is depicted in probably in no way resembled a person from Northern India near Nepal. And by the way the little fat, laughing guy is not a representation of Buddha but a bodhisattva named Budai (in the Chinese) who was simply a monk. But who cares about that, we are too busy destroying the past and darkening the tint of history. Alexander Hamilton was a Mexican dude. And Jesus is some sort of black guy with six pack abs now. Hey, but Mary the prostitute is still a white gal! Well, whiteish. 

It is total social justice agenda driven propaganda. People who actually hate Jesus and the Gospels should research a word called eschatology. It one sense it refers to the signs that point to the end times. The end of the world as we know it. And man o' man, I see it everyday anymore.  I refuse to even watch any of this garbage politically driven production because in doing so I may give even partial validation to the mindset from winch it came. And that is that there is no nation that has ever existed that is more evil than America and no race of people more vile and deprived than white people and we will not rest until America is vanquished and replaced with the nation of New Wakanda and all white people, or white men at least,  are sterilized and forced into slave labor. White women can serve some "other" purposes. Wink wink, nod nod. And finally, until Charlie Brown is redrawn as a black kid and Linus is transgendered! 


The Last Supper. Now held at Mickey D's and 
served with a bottle of Moscato. 



16 March 2018

SO BILL, WHY DID YOU STOP GOING TO THE THEATER IN CHINA?

If you look in the middle there are actually a couple empty seats. Must not be a popular movie. 


I actually had a request from a reader (and thank you sir)  for me to follow up on a self suggestion about doing a post on why I no longer go the the cinema here in China. It was a gradual process and there are a few reasons for it. When I lived in Seattle I went to the movies as often as I could, usually paying for one movie then sneaking into a few others while there like some sort of teenage punk. Seattle also had a lot of art house cinemas, little theaters seating twenty or thirty people at the most and I did my fair share of those sorts of films during my ten years there. When I first arrived in China in 2004 it was quickly apparent my cinema house days were all but over. Back then there were not that many movie houses or theaters in cinema and most of them only played Chinese movies anyway. And when I say Chinese movies I mean weird, low budget stuff you have never heard of. Dreadfully bad anti-Japanese propaganda war films and dismal romance comedies or yet another goofy Monkey King epic. Also at that time if I remember correctly the limit for all foreign films total, not just Hollywood films, was about twenty films. That went up a couple years ago to thirty five or so films, with no foreign films at all being shown in February. Only films from the nationalist driven motherland will be shown during February every year. 

Can never get enough noble Chinese soldiers butchering the evil Japanese or Nationalists. 
These are the number one films produced in China each year in terms 
of total number made and revenue earned. People love 'em. 


And while I like movies I must say that over the years here I have seen only about a dozen films in the theaters. There are lots more theaters now and most are of the super metroplex variety, and there are are also quite a few iMax theaters here now. There is an iMax and large metroplex now about fifteen minutes by bus from where I reside now. But, I have not been to a movie here over five years I am sure. I cannot even remember the last movie the wife and I watched together in China though I think it was either some Marvel thing or Prometheus (which I actually liid and have seen a few times). If I think about it the last film we may  have seen in a theater was one in Bangkok Thailand, and that was that Coen Brothers b/w film about some jaded folk singer and a runaway cat. I liked it but forget the title now. I could look it up on IMDb to make myself sound professional,   but it is not that big a deal. So, why the heck did I stop going to the movies here? And how do I watch any at all then? Well, I will try to sort those puzzling questions  out in this soul searching post. I think the best way to do this is to try and remember what I wrote on a yellow stickie note that I left in another room and just do a list type of thing, since there are a few reasons. 

1) Just too many people going to movies anymore - In the early days my wife and I had some near empty theaters to watch movies in. Especially this was true of foreign films in English and other languages because, to be direct, Chinese people hate other languages. We also went in the afternoons on workdays a lot so in some cases the theater was practically empty back then. But all that began to change around maybe 2008 to 2010 or so.  Suddenly everybody wanted to go to movies in droves. There are a lot of damned people in China, so even if a “few” decide to see the English language version that few can be a packed mob.  It is a country where a small, quiet city is a place with only one or two million people. Soon I just felt like it was not any fun. Even the once empty afternoon shows were getting packed. 

2) The odd ticket buying process - I have a picture here of people lined up in front of the ticket stand. Lots of people. Like everywhere here. I can be hard to adjust to completely for an American who grew up on a farm in Texas and then moved to Seattle. While the line might look normal there is something different if you look closely at the computer monitors. They have to choose their seating. People here cannot just choose their own seats without it getting all out of hand I guess. I suppose there are other reasons for that here but it really friggin’ slows down an already slow process to have each person or group have to decide where it is they want to sit. This what you do when you are buying tickets to a rock concert but you do it weeks in advance! Chinese people have no issues with taking their time once they are at some counter. And the all the people behind the ones at the counter huffing and puffing in frustration will do the same thing once there are up there. It can take about five minutes or more if there are more than two people in the group. Too much to endure. And all the while you will have, of course, people breaking line in front of you and forget about telling them to get in line. If you do you have just insulted all Chinese people and five thousand years of sacred Chinese history and it can get hairy. Oh, that is one of those cultural difference that give the place its charm. 

All this to see Spiderman: Homecoming? 


3) The snack food sucks - They just do not eat the same stuff here we do and it is no joke they have chicken feet and oily, spicy tofu in the snack area. They have sugarless cotton candy and the most grisly little sweet tasting hot dog served on a stick with red pepper powder. Cokes usually do not ice, but ice is bad for your health. So do they at least have popcorn? Yea, only it is some weird sweet, sticky sweet popcorn. The way you can get it in China. There is no options other than some fancy, expensive popcorn shop (yea, a popcorn shop) that might have seaweed flavored popcorn. They have no idea you can have plain popcorn or salted or buttered popcorn. People here never eat butter. Scares them. They may drench their food with  recycled vegetable oil straight from the bottle as flavoring,  but not that weird yellow foreign stuff. And salt, bad for your health. Tons of MSG, no problem. No candy. Nothing. Maybe a Snickers bar for like five dollars. They even have hot water stands for the instant noodles in a cup. And then it is so fun to sit in the packed theater and hear the people slurping and smacking on those greasy chicken feet and sweet popcorn all through the movie. Yea. A couple times we were given complementary popcorn and I just left it on the floor it tasted so crappy. 

There is a myth Chinese people do not eat junk food or snack food.
No, they love it. It is just that all the snack foods here suck.


4) Movies here are expensive - When I say expensive I am talking about like twenty American dollars and up to see a movie in a crowded theater with no buttered popcorn. You may retort "yea, well that is what they cost in America too!" But most people here actually probably make about two or three dollars (6 to 12 rmb) an hour at their jobs. The only reasons we even went is because my wife is adept at finding things online, like discount movie tickets that were only like about six dollars for the movie. I think the last time we paid about sixteen bucks each at that was towards the end. Who ants to pay like forty bucks (240 rmb) for two people in China to see Captain America? But people here are willing to fork it out. You don't want to be the only one in your social group not to have seen Avatar ten times. You will be weird then. 

5) Chinese people can be really loud and love their smart phones - While many of our early movie ventures were cool because we went in the afternoon on a weekday we started to get more and more situations with packed theaters. And man sometimes it was too much. While many people are quiet and polite it only take a few dozen around you to spoil the experience. People just talking at the top of their voices. Chinese people actually often bellow to one another while standing a foot or two part. I used to think they were about to start fighting, but my wife would explain they were just discussing what to have for lunch. And yea, Chinese people are totally addicted to their smart phones and watching a movie is not going to keep them from chatting with friends. While it is usually in the form of texting on QQ or WeChat (the Chinese instant messaging services) it is still annoying because of the glow and the constant finger tapping sound. If you say anything, which I would not, it will only incite a scene and confrontation because, well, some poor soul just lost face. 

6) Foreign movies get edited here - My best example of this would be our trip to see Jurassic Park when it was re-released. I did a post on that adventure here. They cut out every jump scare. Like the goat leg scene, and Samual L. Jackson’s arm falling on Laura Dern, and even the lawyer on the toilet getting eaten scene.  Ridiculous. It was deemed to harsh for delicate chinese people.  As well they will trim anything the government decides makes China look poor or unsophisticated, like panning camera shots of old buildings in Shanghai, like in one of the Mission Impossible films.  China only has shiny modern buildings you know. 

7) They only promote Hollywood blockbusters - Remember, I said earlier they only allow about thirty five foreign films a year here. This includes films from South Korea and Japan and everywhere else as well.  Chinese people do love what is called 美国大片mei guo da pian, or basically Big American Movies. Blockbusters. The theaters and most movie goers here have no interest in independent films or art films. That is not to say all Chinese movie watchers feel this way and many young people seek out old movies like The Midnight Cowboy or A Streetcar Named Desire online through streaming sites or as downloads and share there thought on sites like Dou Ban, the Chinese IMDb. My wife leaves her opinion on very movie she watches there and shares the comments with me since I cannot read Chinese.  

But theaters only want what people will pay that twenty to thirty dollars to see, sometimes over and over. Some people here saw Avatar like dozens of times. Oh, I saw that one in the theater here too. They wold have continued to see it over and over, but the government pulled it from the theaters because, strangely, it was too popular and making too much money and made the Chinese movie about Confucius (Kong Zi) look bad at the box office. They love brainless action packed 3D stuff. And since you have barely have two dozen films you can choose to show ( actually the government will make that choice for them) then you probably do not want to take a risk with artsy b/w Coen Brothers or Jim Jarmusch  stuff. And I just do not alway want to watch a blockbuster. I am not anti-blockbuster, but it is all they offer here from the US. The same way the only western food you find here is McDonald’s or KFC or a strange mutation of what was once Pizza Hut (you could rename it Noodle Hut here I think) they only provide fast food movies as if that represents all of American culture. I do not think they think about it that deeply. They want what will make lots of money. 


I'll bet you I've seen more versions of The Monkey King than you ever will. Lucky you. 


8) And while I could go on I will end with this - English movies are often dubbed and English language versions play at select times and for more money - That’s right. Out of, let’s say, six showings of a Hollywood style film that day maybe one one or two, or even none, will be in English. They are dubbed and foleyed (not sure how to spell the past tense of foley here) over in the worst ways imaginable. My wife tells me they use about six Chinese actors and actresses to dub all the films into Mandarin with one actor often doing several characters. And many people here dig it. They hate the sound of other languages. The very sound of something other than the precious mother tongue sickens many people here. But luckily some Chinese people have class and want to see the original language, whether it be English, French or Japanese. In some instances foreign films have run here without one single showing in the original language. What a load of crap.

Before closing one vapid argument I have encountered in situation like this is something like “well, since you’re in China now have you considered just watching Chinese movies?” (or eating just Chinese food, etc, etc…) “ to which the response is “no, because most Chinese movies suck!” I am not talking about ALL Chinese films and I have reviewed a few here from a couple Sixth Generation filmmakers that were very decent movies, like Night Train and Blind Mountain, but those movies do not play in the theaters here. They do better abroad and are often financed and distributed, abroad, by foreign companies, with the filmmakers sometimes being punished here at home if they are released abroad before official approval has been granted. But, I am not talking about those  few under the radar films that one has to sniff out like a pig searching for truffles, I am talking about all the stuff at the theater’s here competing for a Golden Rooster (the Chinese Oscar). No. I will not watch that brain drain drek. I liked a couple of Zhang Yimou’s early films,  like Not One Less and Raise the Red Lantern, but nothing of his newer ones. Meaning from Hero onward. Including Hero. What a pretentious mess. I find all of modern Chinese cinema appalling and superficial. Boring period pieces. Propaganda films. Vapid romances and brainless comedies. All of it CCP approved of course. I do not include Hong Kong films in with those films nor the independent, underground type films here. 

I actually saw some of this on a streaming service. It was, uh, pretty bad man. 
Not so bad it is good bad. Just bad bad. It was a hit. 
 

And so, then how, exactly,  do I watch movies here? Netflix is blocked here in case you don’t know, like almost everything. Like Google and Blogger for example. Well, why don’t I save that for a follow up post. But in closing I will say it is unlikely I will ever go to a movie theater again in China. 

09 March 2018

WHY I MIGHT NOT (BUT I MIGHT) WATCH THE OSCAR WINNING THE SHAPE OF WATER

Is there more fishy about 
this movie than just the sex scene?
I live in China if you do not know and I basically had to download this film if I wanted to actually see it. I hate watching movies in the cinema here and that is another post altogether. But I had heard of this and felt some slight desire to check it out. I had tried to watch two other films by "visionary" Guillermo del Torro, Crimson Peak and Pan's Labyrinth, but while they looked nice they were so friggin' boring and confusing I could not handle them and quit.  Well I had been hearing all the hype about this new one and that it even had a fish man having sex with a physically impaired human female (she is mute I take it) so I thought that might be cool to see. I downloaded the film and scanned it for quality and also to get a sense of the story line, and there was suddenly a super big issue. The bad guy. The villain. Every story must have an antagonist of course. And I like Michael Shannon as a bad guy, like he was in The Iceman. But I just felt a super WTF moment when it was obvious that Shannon was not playing minor league style bad guy like he did in The Iceman, a murderous thrill killing hitman who sawed his victims to pieces and froze them in meat lockers (with the help of Chris Evans), but he was going to play the most vile and evil type villain imaginable... a patriotic, America loving, conservative white male Christian. Scary stuff man. 

The movie suddenly took on a sort of ET feel to me. Cutesy, misunderstood creature, some sort of human outsider who befriends it and the evil secret US government agency that wants to capture it,  study it, exploit it for money or weapons research (which is what they wanted the fish man for here I understand) or simply destroy it if things get icky. And screw any pinko-commie human beings with a shred of moral dignity (liberals and socialists I guess)  who try and get in in their way and stand up for the rights of some sort of "alien". Get it? Alien? Eh? It's a deep metaphor. Or simile. Or analogy. I don't know what. One has to have a profoundly advanced critical thinking ability to grasp this stuff. I'm just lucky I guess, being raised primarily in Kentucky and Texas I grew up naturally lacking in these skills. Luckily I spent ten years in Seattle and so I picked some limited ability to think there like an advanced human being.

Well, I actually deleted the film along with all its condescending metaphors. Then I thought maybe I could watch it after all with my wife and her brother who is a guest here with us for a few days. So, like a true neurotic, I downloaded it again. I figured it was a brainless Hollywood flick with cool visuals and it did not seems as ploddingly painful as the other two films I tried. To my surprise when  suggested this to my wife (who is Chinese) she said, and I quote, "Oh I heard that is a lame story. It only won the Oscar because of the PC story." The users on movie message boards and sites here (like Dou Ban, the Chinese IMDb) seem to feel the message is glaringly anti-tradtional American and even simple minded. Like a B-movie storyline. Believe me, most all Chinese people do not praise the USA as a whole and see it as competition and even a military rival, but they also do not really see it as the Evil Empire or that people there are treated so unreasonably and unfairly and they are a bit confused as to why movies from the US seem bent on portraying the US and its government as the most evil and dangerous entity to have ever come into existence. And I totally agree with them. The USA is cool. And it was odd because my initial feeling about the film from scanning it was the same as what the Chinese netizens felt in their comments. Of course they had seen the film to get that opinion and many liked the movie as a bit of escapism, but I could tell from what I had scanned with Shannon saying things like "God created man in his image. Does THAT look like God?" and later quoting stories from the Old Testament that this was in fact Hollywood social justice drivel dressed up with artsy European sets and cinematography. All form and no substance indeed.

"I dunno, I give up. The damned Godless thing will not denounce Marxism and embrace white , patriarchal capitalism. On top of that he holds to his views on Darwinism and says Islam is not all that bad. Why can't he just think like me! I guess water boarding would not be of any use here." 


Now, if my wife decides to watch it when she gets home we might give it go, but it is not looking good. I may just pass on it and do some music recording later on Ableton Live or watch some more MST3K, but with Mike this time instead of Joel. Joel gets annoying after a while. But, movies with no social messages for me. I love a movie anymore with no agenda and no message. Especially a social message about America and its brutish and malignant Cold War mentality as seen through the eyes of a European dude who goes to the same gym and stylist as Michael Moore. I hate Oscar winners anymore typically anyway and was upset that James Franco was snubbed for his excellent work on The Disaster Artist because he treated a couple delicate, totally innocent, sweet virgin girls who had yet to even see a man naked in their lives with less than perfect chivalrous behavior. Jeesh, he's James Franco for Christ's sake. I am beginning to see part of my problems with movie blogging these days is I am starting to hate movies and the people who make them more and more.

UPDATE: Wife was not interested and  I deleted it a 2nd time.