Thursday, February 14, 2008

Today in Absurdist Popular Culture

Aw, someone just told me that I should be Chuck Klosterman! (Don't worry, she's a reputable source, so I'm confident she meant that I should have a Chuck Klosterman level of success, not that I should, you know, be more like him in a general sense).

I noticed that he's billed as a "pop culture guru" in his blurbage. This is one of those difficult marketing conundrums. If you had to toil in obscurity, or call yourself a pop culture guru, and do so with a straight face....After all these years with my honey, you'd think I'd have worked on my deadpan a little more. But come to think of it, this is exactly where all that pop culture irony comes from. If I ever reached the point where I'd have to market, I think irony would be an absolute necessity!

In other news, I watched Hospital Massacre (sadly, not up to the standards of New Year's Evil), and I'm working on my review. I also watched Karz, and I can see why there were rumors of Om Shanti Om being a remake; the story's different, but there are similar elements. And O, the details! The villain, who's mute and communicates to his minions by rapping on various objects, looked, my honey said, "like an Indian Boss Hogg." Absolutely true. That observation was almost immediately followed by a car chase, giving us a Dukes of Hazzard in the Twilight Zone moment.

It's also the first movie I've seen so far featuring devotion to Kali, so, needless to say, I was very excited about that.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Religious Tolerance in cute packages

In today's headlines: "Report: Retailer halts sales of 'Jesus' cosmetics:Singapore store removes range extolling virtue of ‘Looking Good for Jesus.’ "

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/23129555/

I'm assuming these are the same "Looking Good for Jesus" products that I've been purchasing at our local coffee/tschotschke shop, which has also been my source for "Wash Away Your Sins" bubble bath and bracelets festooned with Virgin Marys.

A source is quoted as saying, "These products trivialize Jesus Christ and Christianity." As much as, say, the "Scent of the Bible" perfume from this site: http://www.virtueperfume.com/? In the first place, I'm obviously not virtuous enough, but even more daunting is the price -- $80 for 1.7 ounce.

Parable for the day: one company is selling Christian products facetiously, one in apparent sincerity...but frankly, facetious is all I can afford.

Monday, February 11, 2008

It was a Hitchhiker Day

The other day I posted a review of Feng Shui over on my more movie-oriented blog, www.areavoices.com/vinyl/ ... which I've been thinking of shifting to Wordpress because of better stats, etc. Right now it's hosted through the newspaper, and their blogging tools aren't all they could be. On the other hand, I enjoy thinking of people here in my Obscure Midwestern Town accidentally stumbling onto chit-chat about movies like Bhoot and Hell Comes to Frogtown. So there is a charm in keeping it local...

Anyway, it turns out that my Feng Shui post (titled "The Ancient, and Deadly, Art of Placement") was my 42nd post on that blog. And on that day, it got 42 hits. Yes, I am in tune with the universe! Unfortunately, the universe is all screwed up.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Dance Dance

I was looking up some more of the oeuvre of Mithun Chakraborty (star of the inimitable Disco Dancer, where he played a floppy-haired, baby-faced teen idol type, in the David Cassidy or Leif Garrett mold).

I found this one first, and had a flashback to the Solid Gold dancers. Oddly, I don't remember them fondly. But I loved this clip, from 1987's Dance Dance, so I rushed to order the DVD:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p48aulNPz5Q

And this gem is from 1984, so Bollywood was pretty quick to jump on the Michael Jackson bandwagon and get their version in theaters. Although there is no thematic connection between this dance number and the ostensible plot of Kasam Paida Karne Wale Ki as stated on the IMDB, which involves an inheritance, with the usual related murder and revenge.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=piN64sqbM8U&NR=1

(In a side note, I also discovered Nehaflix at http://store.nehaflix.com/, a source for harder-to-find Indian films and CDs. They're pretty inexpensive. But if anyone knows how things add up...Yikes. So much for my resolution to buy less stuff. On the other hand, I NEED the Disco Dancer soundtrack, so my hands are tied...)

Friday, February 8, 2008

Everybody's religion is fair game

Some people might wonder about the packages I get in the mail, but fortunately my honey is used to me and my curious ways. What might seem sort of crazy is just everyday life.

So yesterday, when I got a package from Mumbai, from Blessingz, "the one stop puja shoppe," he didn't ask why I needed any Hindu devotional supplies, like some fellows might have done. He just said "cool." (As for the "why," well, I already have a lot of Catholic memorabilia for someone raised Methodist. I need to expand my collection!)

What I got was a lovely box with little statues and incense and tons of little packets containing different supplies: ghee, sindoor, and things I'll need to look up to see what the heck they are. (Doing research online, the kits were originally marketed as corporate gifts, making it funny in itself that I stumbled across them).

From the box:

"Sacred Moments especially needed in this fast-paced world. Sacred Moments is a company that offers you the chance to go back to the traditions and ancient rituals...No more shopping for every little puja detail...Blessingz are not just hassle-free, they are the 21st century way to win favours with God."

This implies that some Hindus, like some members of all the established religions, feel they are losing touch with traditions that they are now trying to recapture. But in the modern age, they want to do it in a more convenient way and fit their spirituality into their "fast-paced" lives. I get the feeling that modernized urban environments create the same stresses the world over.

Obviously something like this would have more appeal to people who don't have access to their own local temples, which is probably why the eBay store I got mine from had it listed twice, one set up for mailing to the US and one for mailing to the UK. And of course, even though I'm physically not that far from my geographical point of origin, psychologically I feel completely removed from it.

This all led to some inarticulate train of thought about the folklore Yahoo group I'm on, where people always seem so judgmental about those of us who have lost touch with our "roots." (You people who learn everything from books, and not at your grandma's knee...) It's not my fault that no elders ever taught me about their folklore, and I have to figure things out for myself, tradition-wise. Phooey! Life isn't a museum piece; we do live in the 21st century. If we want to win favour with God, we may as well do it the 21st century way...

By the way, they included a beautiful metal yantra as a free gift, with a picture of Saraswati. It's not like I told these people anything about myself, and Saraswati is probably the most apt Hindu deity there is for me.

"Knowledge is power. Everybody needs enhance their knowledge through various ways like academic pursuits, private study of religious/ spiritual treatises etc. From Vedic times, Goddess Saraswati is regard as the giver of wisdom, education, intellect, speech and join through education. She is also referred as Vak devi (goddess of speech) and Sakala kaladhishtatri (goddess bestowing all the arts)... The worship of Saraswati blesses the person intuitive skills and a creative bent of mind. One is blessed with an understanding of the music, dance and other creative arts and is enabled to achieve proficiency in them. It also blesses women with marital bliss."

(from http://www.rudraksha-ratna.com/saraswatiyantra.htm)

My honey and I were all like, "Coincidence? Or could it be...karma?"