31 May 2013


Twelve Things about The Other F Word

12. What do you do when you are famous for writing a song called F*** Authority and then you become the foremost authority figure in your own home? This is precisely the question that The Other F Word asks Jim Lindberg, father and lead singer of Punk band Pennywise, and several of his contemporaries who are in the same bemusing boat.

11. What came first: the chicken of extended adolescence or the egg of middle-aged rockers? Let's ask New Romantic band Duran Duran, who are working on their fourteenth studio album as of this date. Old men in rock bands may be a new phenomenon, but something else refuses to grow old with them . . . A few years ago, when I mentioned their longevity to a musicologist friend, who has also built a career in the arts, she wasn't too impressed. If I remember correctly, the word she used for them was "pathetic."

But perhaps she was being ironic? There is something "pathetic" about making your living through music instead of getting a "real job"--and surely she would know that, too. No matter how much money you do make--and hard and honestly you work--it just stops being cute after you pass a certain age. (Heck, everything stops being cute after you pass a certain age.)

10. So let's talk about those F words, shall we? I mean the fathers . . .

25 May 2013


Locus Focus: Take Ninety-Four!

Doing a movie month is always fun. By the end of one, I'm always sorely tempted to turn Shredded Cheddar into a movie blog, with only occasional posts on books. (Well, what do you think?)

We had the first "movie edition" about three years ago, when Scream 3 reminded me that every cinematic setting comes boxed within the bigger locus of Hollywood. I have a vague memory of that post  being an unplanned, last-minute decision, due to my being unable to write about a good Horror setting from a fourth book--but I don't seem to have left a written record which corroborates that, so your guess is as a good as mine! =P It is 100% certain, however, that today's setting from television is here because I couldn't come up with something good for a fourth movie.

So our first ever TV setting also gets to be the last to answer the question May I Have Some Music? with a resounding yes.

24 May 2013


Twelve Things about Safe

12. The Terminator franchise may own the line "Come with me if you want to live," but it wasn't the first and won't be the last Action movie which rides on the same desperate dynamic. An instant bond between total strangers can be great--and it is the main thing that makes the brutality of Safe almost bearable.

But our two strangers certainly take their sweet time finding each other, and this doesn't do the plot any favours.

11. Are you surprised that the "leading lady" of this picture is a preteen girl? Ever since I read a prediction on The Partial Objects blog that the next generation of Action heroes would be little girls, I've actually been expecting it. =P

That aside, I think that Mei, a mathematical prodigy kidnapped from her native China to make calculations for gangsters in New York City's Chinatown, is pretty believable. (Yes, I know how that sentence sounds.)

18 May 2013


Locus Focus: Take Ninety-Three!

Yes, we're still doing movie musicals--my affirmative answer to my own question of May I Have Some Music?

I remember reading somewhere that most directors think of the music last, if only in the sense that they give it the smallest slice of the budget. Putting the music first, so that everything else is built on it, is much tougher: a director of a musical would benefit from an experienced crew who know their stuff. This is probably why the best musicals come out of the same studios all the time, like M-G-M and Disney. Today's featured film is an exception, although it's cute to note (with Wikipedia) that it is "jokingly regarded as the first (and only) M-G-M musical made at Paramount Studios."

17 May 2013


Friday Night Series: The Big Reunion

Is it so awful to think of art and religion as vehicles for making money? The professional apologist whom I have been most critical of told me that if what he produced did not break any commandments and had a market willing to buy it, then he had every right to make his living that way. Although I didn't realise it at the time, what really bothered me about that argument was not what it said, but what it didn't say.

It wasn't really until I got through all nine episodes of The Big Reunion that I was able to see what was missing. But don't worry that I'll make you sit through all nine with me as well. =P May I Have Some Music? month will feel complete even if I never live blog more than the first three episodes. So let's get started, aye?

15 May 2013


Wednesday Night Promo: "They're back!"

So did you guess correctly???

As hard as it may be to believe, there is an inner logic to my blogging madness this May. My interest in the ITV2 Reality show The Big Reunion happens to be rooted in a current theme in my life--one which is bigger than, and you might say gave birth to, the May I Have Some Music? motif for the month.

Last Sunday, I explained what selling records has to do with my word-resolution for 2013, which is CLOSE, but this post can be traced further back to 2009, when running into a mega shark in the Catholic blogo-sea convinced me not to swim in those waters any longer.  

For someone like me, what better way to come to terms with the convert-driven Catholic apologetics industry (the challenge-within-a-challenge of my first post of the month) than to reflect on the pop music industry? Everything one professional apologist told me about his livelihood could have been said by a member of a manufactured boyband. Which, now that I realise it, raises my estimation of professional apologists.

And there is even a connection to the Starship Troopers readalong, the final meeting for which was opened just yesterday. The only difference between Basic training at Camp Currie and "celebrity bootcamp" is what the recruits in each group are expected to do afterwards. There really are deep psychological effects from this sort of thing that you cannot just walk away from after you must rejoin civilian society.

Fourthly, and incidentally, there is also music. So let me tell you more about the show . . .

14 May 2013


"Two or Three" Book Club, Meeting 54

It would have been so wonderful to have ended the Starship Troopers readalong yesterday, which was, for me, Election Day. But despite a weekend of reading, rereading and brainstorming, this post refused to be either forced out early or backdated. Besides, I've been so wrapped up in the spirited discussion from Meeting 53 that it was harder than usual to make this one its own separate entity.

Now I'd like to thank Belfry Bat, Bob, Darwin, Dauvit, LTG, and Sheila for helping this readalong be as fantastic as it has been, and for making the theme In Space, No One Can Hear You Blog an irony rather than a self-fulfilling prophecy. My life is less lonely because of you!

So let's get on with it now, aye? =)

"Mr. Salomon, can you give me a reason--not historical nor theoretical but practical--why the franchise is today limited to discharged veterans?"

"Uh, because they are picked men, sir. Smarter."

posterous . . . Service men are not brighter than civilians. In many cases, civilians are much more intelligent . . ."

. . . "Uh, service men are disciplined, sir."

Major Reid was gentle with him. "Sorry. An appealing theory not backed up by facts. You and I are not permitted to vote as long as we remain in the Service, nor is it verifiable that military discipline makes a man self-disciplined once he is out; the crime rate of veterans is much like that of civilians. And you have forgotten that in peacetime most veterans come from non-combatant auxiliary services and have not been subjected to the rigours of full military discipline . . ."

I may have quit reading for several days after getting to Chapter 12, because it was "just" History and Moral Philosophy again . . . but when I got back to the text and finished the chapter, I was flat out impressed at the answer to Major Reid's question. In an ideal world, it really would make sense . . .

12 May 2013


Voices Which Sell Records

The Voice of Ireland has just wrapped Series 2, but I didn't get too into it this year. Something about it just felt so 2012. (Remember this 2012 post?) Yet it is a comment from the newest judge Jamelia which makes the perfect introduction to my 2013 Reality show passion, one of the highlights of May I Have Some Music? month.

During the Blind Auditions stage, when the Superstar was making a pitch to a contestant she really wanted to coach, she and Bressie had a bit of a spat which revealed what each of them was looking for in an act.

Jamelia: "You want to have people who are going sell records now, not people who--"
Bressie: "It's not just about selling records--"
Jamelia: "Of course it is!"
Bressie: "So for you, the height . . . Success is selling records: that's it? That's what you put it down to?"
Jamelia: "Yes . . . What else is it? . . . Seriously, what else is it?"

And they weren't even fighting over that guy! =P

11 May 2013


Locus Focus: Take Ninety-Two!

For the third year in a row, May is our month for movie settings. This year, thanks to this month's greater theme May I Have Some Music?, the twist is they are also all musical.

Last weekend, I featured one of Hollywood's most artistic efforts. Today, I'm going with the sort of setting that makes people wonder why they come here.

UPDATE: I'm sorry that I forgot my usual Question of the Week! It's there now, if you'd like to answer it. =)

09 May 2013


Character Connection 41

After I decided that May's theme would be May I Have Some Music?, I did a quick scan of my bookshelves for novels with musical characters . . . and came up surprisingly short. Whether it's the print medium that isn't very friendly to sound or just my unfortunate book buying patterns, I don't know. But from the looks of it, my musical interests and my literary tastes don't overlap at all.

I managed to find about four characters whom I'd be happy to feature this month, but whether I will get to them all is the question. All of them will require a bit of rereading, so I'll do what I can and just hope for the best. Today's character is the first one I thought of . . . 

07 May 2013


"Two or Three" Book Club, Meeting 53

What do you get when the seemingly opposed themes of In Space, No One Can Hear You Blog and May I Have Some Music? overlap? If I were a better blogger, you'd get a suggested soundtrack for Starship Troopers--but with nothing embedded, so you still wouldn't be able to hear it. =P 

I see that I didn't make any mention of how the Terran Federation moved from "peace" to a "state of emergency" and then onto war. I didn't notice it too closely myself. When I enrolled, it was "peace," the normal condition, at least so people think (who ever expects anything else?). Then, while I was at Currie, it became a "state of emergency" but I still didn't notice it, as what Corporal Bronski thought about my haircut, uniform, combat drill, and kit was much more important--and what Sergeant Zim thought about such matters was overwhelmingly important. In any case, "emergency" is still "peace."

"Peace" is a condition in which no civilian pays any attention to military casualties which do not achieve page-one, lead-story prominence--unless the civilian is a close relative of one of the casualties. But, if there ever was a time in history when "peace" meant that there was no fighting going on, I have been unable to find out about it. When I reported to my first outfit . . . the fighting had already been going on for several years . . .

It's not quite "We have always been at war with Eastasia"--but the blissful ignorance of civilians can be just as important to a war effort as their willing consumption of propaganda. Partly because these are virtually the same things. Not that anyone cares what civilians think . . .

04 May 2013


Locus Focus: Take Ninety-One!

Now Showing: May at the Movies, Part 3!

The first time I did May at the Movies, I was also thinking a lot about mothers, so I found settings from movies that were also about motherhood. The theme premiered with a scene from one of the most famous almarum matrum from a movie: Shermer High School Library.

When I produced the sequel, I decided to tie the twist to my usual literary routine and feature movie settings full of books, like pretty much the only good thing about the Sabrina remake.

This year, since May's theme is actually May I Have Some Music?, I'm taking all the settings from movie musicals. Preferably settings that are also romanticised in the musical numbers.

01 May 2013


Life as a Reading Challenge, Chapter 12

Do you read author bios? I rarely do. For all my aversion to Margaret Atwood, I totally agree with her that wanting to meet an author because you liked his book is like wanting to meet a rooster because you liked fried chicken. Off the top of my bibliophilic head, I can name exactly two writers whose work made me want to sit down with them for a chat (a real chat, mind you, not fangirling in between episodes of fainting); but I'm usually happy to let them do what they do while I do what I do. Not exactly like ships passing each other in the night, but like celebrities living next door to each other and playing that game in which they're all ordinary people.

But I have noticed that bios have become a huge deal in book marketing these days--just part of the trend of authors marketing themselves in order to sell their books. And they often read like this parody by Parajunkee:

Annie Lynn is from a little town in Kansas, called Middletown, where she has lived all her life. Annie hopes to one day travel to the places she writes about, but for now she must visit only within her imagination. Annie is married to a wonderful man whom she met in high-school and they have three beautiful children. Annie loves to write m/m erotica and paranormal romance of the spicy variety. Annie's most scariest high-light in life was when she visited Las Vegas and talked to a pimp without even knowing he was a pimp!

How sad is that, right? =P But not as sad as all the commenters who thought it was an actual bio of a real writer--because there are so many written exactly in this style!

I refer to it as the "Author Next Door": a carefully cultivated persona which makes a writer seem to be approachable, accessible, easy to relate to. And yes, this totally sells books. It's all happy and friendly and fun (Well, if you're an extravert, it is), but it has its own dark underbelly, as I realised a few hours after reading Parajunkee's post . . .