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Archive for December, 2009

When, when I ask you, are movie makers going to break down and admit that they are making their action-adventure epics not for young males between 18-34, but for women 18 to 50-something?  Let’s stop for a moment and define chick flicks. “Chick flicks” are movies that are presumed to focus on things that have special appeal for women e.g. love, romance, relationships. As I define them, “action chick flicks” are action-adventure movies that, while heavily dominated by male characters not intent on “feminine” things like finding a mate, are chock full of things that women especially like.

And just what are those things says you? Thought you’d never ask.

Horses of Rohan from Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers.

Horses: It starts with My Little Pony and progresses to Black Beauty and National Velvet.  Women just plain love horses and hey, if the horse in question happens to be conveying the studly male hero around, that’s a bonus.

Russell Crowe as Maximus in Gladiator.

Leather Gear: No, not that kind of leather gear. I’m talking about beat up military harness or well-worn bomber jackets–leather clothing that the hero is wearing because it happens to be in his character’s closet. Chain mail is a plus as are close-fitting breeches and kilts of any kind.

Mel Gibson as Scottish freedom fighter William Wallace in Braveheart. The blue warpaint he’s wearing is woad.

Sweat and Dirt: Nothing improves the masculine appearance like a little–or a lot–of sweat and grime, especially if the male in question has gotten hot and grubby on the heroine’s behalf e.g. fighting off bandits or pulling her carriage out of the mud.

Adrian Paul as Duncan from the TV series, Highlander, based on the movie of the same name.

Full Body Immersion: At some point in the movie, the male lead must fall into the water and emerge dripping wet. Pools and bathtubs don’t count. Ideally, he should get soaking wet more often than the female lead. In the male-dominated movie business, it’s a given that the heroine will wind up taking a dip during the course of the story.

Left to right, Vyelle Croom as Aramis, Gerald Kyd as Athos and Paul Agar as Porthos. From the stage production of a play by Ken Ludwig, based on Alexander Dumas’s story, and commissioned by the Old Vic Theatre in Bristol, England.

Brawling/Sword Fighting: Is there anything that makes the female heart beat faster than the classic sword-duel-on-the-stairs between the hero and his main opponent? Gunfire just doesn’t have the same panache.  Likewise, trading punches in a tavern or on the battlefield is always good. Women don’t want to see loss of limbs or intestines–they just want to see some male-on-male pummeling action.

Viggo Mortensen as Aragron from the Lord of the Rings triology.

Bringing the Scruffy Back–Close attention must be paid to male facial stubble. The unshaven look isn’t for everyone. Does the hero’s three-day-growth of beard say “I haven’t gotten to a barber because I’ve been busy fighting oppression” or does it say “I’ve been drunk for a week and I can’t remember where I parked my horse”? In other words, can the gent in question work the stubble?

Miranda Otto as Eowyn from LOTR: The Return of the King.

Girl Power–The heroine can’t be a ninny. This is the area where otherwise promising films fall from contention. The ideal heroine needs to have a combination of brains, guts, and fighting ability and while she needn’t be an Amazon,  she can’t fall to pieces in the final scene.

Uma Thurman as Marianne and Patrick Bergin as Robert Hode from the TV movie, Robin Hood.

All for Love–In the immortal words of Damon Runyon, the guy’s gotta be doin’ it for some doll. No matter what initial motivation the hero had, by the end of the film, he must try to achieve his goal in part because he’s trying to help/save/win the love of the heroine.

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I am officially not in the holiday mood. Don’t get me wrong, any holiday devoted to chocolate can’t be all bad, but I just can’t stand the syrupy, touchy-feelyness that settles around the modern Christmas celebration like fake snow. So in honor of those of you, like me, who go all Grinch-y this time of year, I have prepared the following holiday playlist.

First, a little safety message from Johnny Cash. Stick to whiskey, boys, and let that cocaine be.

Next, Jerry Garcia talks about the importance of hobbies in this American version of an Irish song. The Irish version is entitled in “Whiskey in the Jar”. The American version is known as “Gilgarry Mountain” or “Gilgarra Mountain”.

“Some take delight in fishing and the bowling/Others take delight in carriage a-rolling/I take delight in the juice of the barley/Courting pretty women in the morning so early.”

At this point, you should be ready for “Whiskey River” to take your mind. And who better than Willie Nelson to do that?

By now, it’s time to get down on your knees and pray.

Of course, you should definitely take this bad boy down to the river so he can “Testify.”

I keep flashing on the outlaw character Russell played in “3:10 to Yuma” when I hear this song.

But the river can be a serious metaphor, too, as Billy Joel tells us.

This is the official music video for “River of Dreams” and I think it is quite simply one of the most beautiful music videos I’ve ever seen.

“That Old Man River, he must know something, but he don’t say nothing, he just keeps traveling on.”

This song is so strongly associated with Paul Robeson’s performance in “Steamboat” that it’s a surprise to hear a woman sing it. I think Judy Garland does a great job.

Finally, a song for the New Year that isn’t “Auld Lang Syne”. Russell Crowe started off as a singer/musician before he became an actor and he has a surprisingly good voice.  I like the sentiment he and his band, The Ordinary Fear of God, express here in “One Good Year”. The New Year is traditionally a time to evaluate how we’ve done in the past one and usually we find we’ve fallen short.

“I’ve been chasing grace, but grace ain’t so easily found.” True dat. Incidentally, that’s Alan Doyle from the Newfoundland folk/rock band, “Great Big Sea”, sharing the vocals in the vid.

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Librarian pasties posted by Calluna on Craftster.

For the burlesque librarian workin’ hard for the money at the Boom-Boom Book Room, paper craft nipple tassels complete with minature, hand sewn books for the tassel part. Check out the artist’s statement here. Rate these babies as NSFCF–Not Suitable for Casual Friday. Unless, of course, you work at a very different kind of library than I do ….

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