Thursday, June 19, 2008

The Gauche and Unsophisticated List: Where I Earn the Scorn of All English Majors and Professors, Bluestockings, and Book Critics

Now, I love to read. I've even been known to read decent books on occassion - I highly recommend The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, and I swear at some point I will finish Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell. However, there is one whole genre of novels I cannot stand, and that is novels about Suburban Lives of Quiet Desperation. Here's a few examples: Empire Falls, A Spot of Bother, The Corrections. I hate them, and find them pretentious yet dull.
"But why, Miss Royalturkey?" you ask, "Such novels reflect gritty realism, and they're so edgy." Well dear readers, I don't find them edgy, and all that "grit" is so damn repetitive. Here's a list of tedious plot elements:
* Middle aged man suffers crisis, or has some small life decision to make that takes at least three hundred pages for him to decide
* Said middle aged man is so distant from his wife or significant other and the couple can no longer relate to each other
* Wife is having an affair because distant, minor crisis ridden husband no longer relates to her because they have been married for thirty years, and husband has worked outside the home for the entire time they have been married, and the wife was supposed to be submissive, so she never told him what she wants. Of course during this affair she finally has an orgasm for the first time in her life.
* Quietly dysfunctional couple also has quiet dysfunctional relationships with their children.
* Characters may have a hobby, but they don't really enjoy said hobbies, they just do them because it has become so tragically routine.
* Characters contemplate their bodily functions and/or genitalia, so authors can prove how "edgy" they are.
* Lots of cursing! Because edgy!
* Lots of long supposedly creative metaphors, which may involve discussion of genitalia or bodily functions (a two-fer)

Now I don't mind repetitive plot points. I'm always a sucker for quirky characters and wacky hijinks, but these plot points are so dull. I don't need all plot points in books to be huge or momentous, but these books never even depict the simplicity or every day routines of these characters lives in an interesting way, so I am just bored. I realize that everyday life is not that exciting. But if you insist on writing about everyday life, authors, you still have to make me care. However the authors of these books never do.

Further, the authors think it is enough to explain what is going on these characters lives, but they never really give me a reason to care about these characters. These characters are merely stock types that are really not that different from one book to another, their minor crises are just a bit different. Further, not only are they stock characters (because two-dimensional wacky characters still amuse me), these characters are miserable, and the only other character trait besides being miserable is that they are unable to communicate with those they love. I don't want to read at least three hundred, if not four hundred, pages of characters being miserable and unable to communicate and therefore becoming more miserable. These characters are just as two dimensional as their more entertaining counterparts (The wacky grandma! The nosy neighbors! The overly intrusive family! ), and even worse they are not even entertaining or interesting.

I really do not understand why these books garner such acclaim. Is it really that interesting that authors use the words fuck and penis, write overly involved metaphors, and explain the everyday minutiae of life in a step by step way? Is it supposed to be innovative that not one character is happy or at least has some interesting character traits? I hope not.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

The Gauche and Unsophisticated List: Guilty Pleasures Update

Just in case you were all concerned that bar studying has prevented my ability to consume large amounts of fickle entertainment, have no fear. My viewing habits continue to be shallow and fickle and here's an update!

Now I'm sure, my many loyal readers (just let me have my delusions of blogging grandeur, okay?) have been wondering why I have not described my movie guilty pleasures with many tangential anecdotes, and that is because my movie guilty pleasures are really too numerous to list. Let's just say if it is a cheesy romantic comedy, where the leads have excellent chemistry, and there are many two dimensionally quirky supporting characters - I will probably love it. Here's a few examples - While You Were Sleeping, Miss Congeniality, The Wedding Singer, and The Cutting Edge (only first one though - not the sequels - I have some standards). Also I frequently rewatch cheesy teen movies - Can't Hardly Wait, 10 Things I Hate About You (when I was 16 I watched this six times in one weekend - and still watch it more than once a year), Bring It On (again, only the first one), and Drive Me Crazy (Adrien Grenier is so-o dreamy). This is just the tip of the iceburg though, I have enjoyed many a cheesy movie, over and over again.

Somehow my close high school friends, Joooooan!, RToo, and Weather Girl, who did not care for these movies at all, still patiently went with me, and even smiled and nodded when I extolled the fact that our little foursome was similar to group of friends in Divine Secrets of the Ya Ya Sisterhood without the abusive childhoods, tragic deaths, and alcoholism. And I'm still grateful that RToo did not smack me once when I started asking if the first Lord of the Rings movie was going to end soon at the hour and a half mark.

What is summer without more bad television shows to watch? Though I am supposed to be studying for the bar, I do love many summer television shows. Of course I am watching So You Think You Can Dance and The Mole, but here's a few more that are slightly less justifiable.

Legally Blonde The Musical: The Search for Elle Woods:
The title really does say it all, but here's a brief synopsis - this is a reality show that is casting for next girl to be Elle Woods in Legally Blonde the Musical. Ten young women from ages 18 - 28 live in a house and go through "Broadway Bootcamp" (singing, dancing, scenes), and one of them will learn so much from the experience that she will be picked for the part. Now I was very involved with high school and community theater back home. I portrayed such deep and evocative roles as Wife #4 in the King and I, Scottish Girl with Solo in Brigadoon, and Rosie the Dance Hall Girl in the Annual Ferndale Heritage Society Murder Mystery in the Park fundraiser. Sadly my biggest role was when I was Captain Hook in my elementary school production of Peter Pan when I was in the sixth grade. Once I hit college I was quite involved with the musical theater club. Despite this involvement, I never learned to harmonize, improvise (I suck at the game Freeze) or pick up choreography, so sadly I will never be a Broadway star.

However, I have done my fair share of auditions and know plenty of theater people, so this show just amuses me. The singing, the choreography, the cold reads and overemoting for the stage, the frustration when someone who is weaker than you gets praised and you get criticized - I love it all and remember the agony. Though the process is drawn out, the presentations in front of the judges are similar to an audition, though we never got feedback. Also, I firmly believe that theater people should never live together, and they have all ten hopefuls living together in the same house, so of course there's plenty of drama and fighting. Along with sniping, I quite enjoy self righteously criticizing the performances - She was flat! She is phony! She is using the wrong tone in her line reading! She is behind on her choreography! Half of these auditioners are too young for the part! Though I have no skills, I still love to judge. Of course I am overinvested in this series and if either Autumn or Natalie don't win, I will be very disappointed.

American Gladiators:
I have mentioned before that when I was younger, I loved the original American Gladiators. When the new series came out, at first I thought that it would not compare to the cheesy fantasticness of the old series, and I was appalled that there weren't more burly women. (Come on, Gladiators are supposed to be intimidating, Venom is not intimidating - Ice could totally snap her like a twig!) That said, I have become addicted to the new series as well - Wolf and Titan's antics amuse me, Justice is so strong yet so sweet and such a good sport, and I am impressed by Crush's joust skills - still undefeated! However, that said, I have to watch this show recorded on DVR, because this show has way too many contestant interviews and Hulk blather, I just watch it for the wacky events and Gladiator posturing. Also on DVR, I can watch the entire show in 25 minutes.

Also, I am looking forward to the premiere of Wipeout on ABC in a few weeks. I already love the wacky obstacles courses and events on both American Gladiators and Ninja Warrior, so why not add one more show with those elements?

Of course these are only the cheesiest shows of the cheesy - there are some marginally good shows that I've also watched frequently including Bones (but not the finale - slight spoiler coming, I can handle most things except for character assassination - poor Zach!), Greek (will Casey stand up to Rebecca already? Sheesh!), The Middleman (rapid fire dialogue and meta references make the show slightly intelligent, right?), and Army Wives (Affairs! Surrogacy for money! Child against Parent domestic violence! Melodramatic high school relationships! Two hostage situations! And all in the first season, who knows what the second season will bring?).

All right back to bar studying. Ugh!