Saturday, December 10, 2005

In Praise of the Pineapple

John Locke apparently rhapsodized about the mysterious and ineffable flavor of the pineapple in his various essays expounding empiricism.

This reminded me of my undergraduate study when I read a paper also discussing how the taste of Vegimite is unknowable unless one experienced Vegemite. The description of such a taste is always woefully inadequate.

However, I have tasted Vegemite, and I now attempt to do the impossible:

Vegemite has tangy, salty flavor that is somewhat reminiscent of soy sauce. Its texture is thicker though is similar to Nutella or creamy peanut butter.

Obviously, I do not do the description justice since I am relying on analogues to other foods. However, since most of my audience has had soy sauce, nutella, or peanut butter at some point in their lives, hopefully they will now be able to somehow appreciate Vegemite without having to go to a specialty food store and spend $10 for a 10 ounce bottle.

Oh yes, pineapples are refreshing, but they can be a bit overwhelming at times.

Let me just add, the story of the pine-apple is both heartbreaking and uplifiting. A true testament to the human spirit and all that crap.

Link to Pineapple Article

Friday, December 09, 2005

More on Slackers

There seem to be two distinct types of slacker movie.

First, the buddy-movie (low brow slacker film). Typically, this type of slacker movie involves the travails and adventures of two friends after a McGuffin of sorts. The McGuffin is usually something particularly frivolous, which makes the slackers efforts to acquire the McGuffin that much more entertaining since they exert no effort to pursue something else that is more meaningful or productive. The characters are the slackers, but the movie itself tends to be frenetic and plot-driven. Also, drug use is usually prevalent, to amplify the aura of "slackerness" of the characters. The Cheech and Chong movies, Bill & Ted, Harold & Kumar, etc... are examples of such. Essentially, these movies are send-ups of the "road-movie," which are of course variations on the Odyssey.

Second, there are the atmospheric slacker movie (the high brow slacker film). These movies are more social in emphasis and tend to be more episodic. There is an atmosphere of lassitude and indolence. The characters have no goal. Bande a parte is an example (even though the two male characters are striving to steal money from the girl's house, most of the movie involves desultory set pieces).

I would imagine the origins from the second come from post neo-realism. Movies such as La Dolce Vita, or L'avventura, or the Leopard, obstensibly are social critiques, namely criticizing the aimless existence of the Italian upper-class. These movies also begat the French New Wave (Bande a parte capturing a similar mood, though less class conscious). Yet, the atmosphere and mood these movies convey are also crucial elements in many modern slacker comedies. The aimlessness of the Linklater films or the Gen-X films like Reality Bites, are basically variations of post neo-realism. Garden State kind of goes full circle with the main protagonist a drug induced emotional catatonic.

As an aside, you have a commingling of both genres in the Kevin Smith movies, since you have the buddy element with Jay and Silent Bob, or the two clerks, there is a sense of aimlessness. Neither buddies have any particular goals, and that is the subject matter of the film. But, the many humor of the film originates in the discourse between the buddies rather than the situation of the characters.

So, here is my thesis in an embryonic state. Older slacker movies would help to either support or contradict my ideas as listed above.

(an aside: both genres tend to be episodic in nature actually)

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Slacker movies

Well, having neglected this blog for the past two weeks (god damn you Kuhns and your evidence exam), I have decided that I am going to write a grand treatise on the advent of the "slacker" genre in film.

Of course, being a young twenty-something, my first experience with this genre was watching Clerks. With the gradual cultivation of my taste, I would later stumble upon other such classics as Dazed & Confused, the Big Lebowski, and of course, the inimitable, Harold and Kumar.

So, for my research, I am asking for other such movies that you know of.

I think "Cheech and Chong: Up in Smoke" was the first manifestation of the comedic slacker film, which I assumed was a burlesque of Easy Rider.

If I stretch it, even Bande a parte kind of fits this profile. But, I would love any additional submissions.