Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Valentine for Wonder Woman

Yes, I’m a blogger. Just because I haven’t done it for a month or two, people give up on me. Sad. But at least let me explain what Wonder Woman is doing here.

If you check out the Cinema Cervello blog on a semi regular basis (and please do if you enjoy fun film reviews, along with links to other cool sites), you’ve noticed the “character assassination” game going on. Basically, the idea is to list several popular fictional characters and eliminate the “lesser” ones until “there can be only one.” Readers are invited to cast votes for the character they like the best. So far in the competition, Benjamin Linus from “Lost” has won, managing to win out over the king from “Lord of the Rings,” Han Solo, Commander Adama from “Battlestar Galactica,” Willow from “Buffy the Vampire Slayer,“ and Treebeard. (That Treebeard loss really gets to me, man.)

What would happen if we were to do such a thing on this blog? I can see the competition now: Underdog vs. Carolyne Heldman vs. Mister Rogers vs. Meredith Vieira vs. George the Lobster. (Thankfully for both of us, there won’t be such a competition. To paraphrase one of the Wayans brothers, “This is a dictatorship, and I’m Dick.”) But I couldn’t help but thinking, who WOULD be the person/creature best suited to lead all the ragtag fictional characters I love? As I see it, the goal is not necessarily to vote for your favorite person, but for the one you feel would be best able to lead. The one with the most well-rounded set of skills and personality. That’s a lot to ask for when you consider the myriad of different characters to choose from. Not an easy task. Everyone has strengths in many different areas. Nobody’s perfect, even in the “fantasy world.” That may be because in the largest sense, perfection itself is a fantasy. Hang on, I’m getting profound. I need to get back to the pointless point.

My first choice was Superman, knowing that he had the physical, emotional and intellectual strength to conquer just about anybody. (The Hulk may theoretically be stronger, but would you trust him to rule?) But as I thought about the Cinema Cervello competition, and specifically how Willow initially won out over Commander Adama, I had to admit that looks count for something. I had to admit that there was someone who I would rather watch in action than Superman. Someone also physically strong, smart and emotionally strong. And gorgeous. Yep, WW. Not as strong as Superman, but if you’re looking for a well-rounded heroine who is physically strong enough to whip just about any bad guy, it’s hard to top her.

Picture this. You’re a German general in World War 2. You are fighting the enemy on the battlefield. You have plenty of ammunition and grenades at your disposal. An American soldier charges at you. You raise your rifle. BANG! He’s dead. A group of soldiers come at you. Again, your rifle comes to your aid. BANG BANG BANG! Down they fall. Suddenly, you see a tank headed your way. You throw a grenade at it. BOOM! It’s enough to disorient it at least. You keep fighting. Then a half-naked woman wrapped in an American flag runs toward you. “What the. . ?” You drop your rifle and grenade. Even if you’re not overcome with lust, you’re wondering how this is possible. You just don’t expect to see something like this. Not on the battlefield, or anywhere else. You’re stunned just as much as if you had been hit in the face. And before too long, you literally ARE hit in the face by the beautiful woman that you were too shocked by to attack. You fall to the ground, defeated by a weapon that was the last thing in the world you were expecting. If you had never heard of Wonder Woman before, you could not possibly have been prepared for this.

For a time, in the comic books, Wonder Woman was taken out of her traditional costume and put into - well, basically regular clothes. They were nice enough clothes, but it was clearly a bad move! They were trying to make it a more realistic situation, but in this case it didn’t really work and the traditional costume finally won out. I mention this to demonstrate how important the costume is. Without it, you don’t really have the heroine. You know WW immediately by her costume. That German soldier probably wouldn’t have been too impressed by WW had she attacked him while wearing regular army fatigues.

As usual, so much more to write and so little time. Let’s just say that WW is a heroine for everyone, man or woman. And guys, if you’re only interested in her beauty, you’re not looking at her hard enough.


THE SEARCH FOR ‘THE SEARCH FOR SOLUTIONS’: For me, music collecting is not limited to record collecting, or CD collecting, or mp3 collecting. It includes music that in some cases has never been released commercially. That’s part of the challenge and the fun, of course. Here’s a good example of how something like that can eventually be found.

Back in my grade school days, there was a film series (dang, remember when schools used movie projectors to show movies?) called “The Search for Solutions.” I’m sure we didn’t see the complete series, but we saw some of it, and it included a short music piece that has stuck with me to this day. I filed it away under “you’ll never find that one” for many years. When the Internet came along, I was pleased to find that it at least knew what “Search for Solutions” was. That’s a big plus. Often, the Internet will be pretty much clueless as to a particular short movie that you saw in school. While the series was still in school circulation, I don’t own a projector, and I probably wouldn’t be able to rent them anyway. I can hear the librarian now. “You’re not a teacher, or a student, but you want to rent this film? How do I know you’re not a movie destroyer intent on cutting up this precious masterpiece?”

But in my spare time one day (and incidentally, that’s something that the die-hard music collector is going to need), I did a “Search for Solutions” search again and found out that the music had actually been composed by Lyle Mays and. . .Pat Metheny! It was neat to realize that someone I had heard of composed the music. On Pat’s site, it not only includes a video clip from the series featuring a cute balloonist (there’s something about me and brunettes, I know), but at the end of the clip, we get to hear the music that I heard way back in school. It has taken nearly 30 years for me to hear this music again. That’s how much spare time you’re going to need. And that’s why music collecting - or any hobby - must only be a hobby, and not your whole life. Enjoy the clip.


CONAN’S LAST REQUEST: I’m not much of a fan of late night TV. But when I had the chance to catch the last few minutes of Conan O’Brien’s final “Tonight Show”, I had to tune in. I’m not much of a fan of Conan either, but I really like what he said before signing off:

"To all the people watching, I can never thank you enough for your kindness to me and I'll think about it for the rest of my life. All I ask of you is one thing: Please don't be cynical. I hate cynicism - it's my least favorite quality and it doesn't lead anywhere. Nobody in life gets exactly what they thought they were going to get. But if you work really hard and you're kind, amazing things will happen."

For the past few weeks, NBC has reminded us of the fact that it (and life) is not fair. It has put the quest for ratings on a higher level than a man’s career. Nothing new there, of course - TV is notorious for dropping shows and people that don’t make the “cut.” Which is probably why so many people have grown cynical about it. What’s the use of doing your very best on a TV show only to have it yanked off the air whenever someone decides they don’t like you? A lot of talented people probably look at the entertainment industry and realize it isn’t for them - because their talents will not be truly appreciated by the people who pay them. Who knows what kind of talent we’re missing out on?

But as he exited the show, Conan asked us not to be cynical. That means a lot. Conan is smart. He realizes that he has been very blessed and chooses to focus on that rather than on his exiting the show. That’s the way it ought to be for all of us when something good has to end. And perhaps most important point of all: When Conan encouraged us to not be cynical and to be kind, it was an indirect way of saying, “Don’t be like NBC,” which is an indirect way of saying, “Don’t be like the world.”

I can’t help but like that.

A few more seconds of Carolyne Heldman from late 1980s MTV has made it to YouTube. This will have to suffice until the long-awaited “Best of Carolyne” DVD is available sometime in my wildest dreams. Enjoy the clip from MTV of old on my YouTube page in my favorites folder.