You’re Gonna Carry That Weight: Why You Should Watch “Cowboy Bebop”

I first saw a few episodes of Cowboy Bebop on cable TV in my late teens.  In my early 20s I rented the DVD’s from Netflix.  As this video by Eyepatch Wolf beautifully explains, unlike a lot of popular anime, Bebop is an adult show about adults; themes of loneliness, heartache, and being haunted by your past all loom large over a trio of bounty hunters in a strange landscape scattered across planets and space.

For me, the story arc that most resonated was Spike’s on-again-off-again search for his former lover Julia.  There was a woman whom I met in college, and for me to say I had a crush on her would be a gross understatement.  To make a long story short, keeping in touch with her proved difficult.  While I’m nowhere near as reckless or aloof as Spike, the way he will immediately abandon whatever he is working on to follow up on a lead as to Julia’s whereabouts, reminds me a great deal of how I felt about her.   Also, whenever I hear the song “Goodnight Julia” from the Bebop soundtrack,  I’m reminded of his struggle to find Julia, as well as my of how I struggled to find my own “Julia”.

Whether or not this show is new to you, give this video a watch:

 

Lindsay Ellis on “Rent”

When I was in college Rent posters were everywhere. I was never into musicals so I never gave it a chance. I’m glad I didn’t, because it is absolute garbage that demeans all the hard work and sacrifice the LGBTQIA community endured back in the day to get the powers that be to do something about the AIDS virus. Don’t watch Rent. Watch And The Band Played On.

Between Racism and Ignorance

This evening, I came across this post from Humans of New York where a Muslim woman named Zahra recounted her experiences covering the 2016 election (bold emphasis mine)

I covered a lot of Trump rallies as a journalist. I didn’t feel any hatred. People were more curious than anything. I was never assaulted. I felt like most people were just supporting him because he wasn’t part of the establishment. Or because they were tired of politics. But it was confusing. Because even though I didn’t feel like they hated me, these people were supporting someone who said I should be banned from the country.

I’m not sure which scares me more.  The fact that so many White Supremacists have come out in support of Trump or the fact that voters cast their lot with him for the sheer sake of going someone “different”.  They willfully ignore his bigotry, sexism, and petulance, and they outright embrace his unhinged ranting and raving as some kind of down-to-earth honesty.  This shortsightedness, this delusion, this cognitive dissonance is another facet of the ever rising Idiocracy in America.  Trump is the walking price tag of American anti-intellectualism and so many innocent people may end up paying dearly.

Whenever a politician would get caught in a scandal, my Mom often wanted to ask said politician “You’re either corrupt, incompetent, or both.  So which is it?”

To the people who voted for Trump, even after a deluge of thoroughly unpresidential antics, I say….you’re either racist, ignorant, or both.  So which is it?

 

 

Deftones: Scorched Earth and Soundscapes

Throughout their discography, Deftones have never failed to impress me.  Even on the weaker, uneven albums Deftones and Saturday Night Wrist, they still have at least a handful of songs that captivate me.  I finally got around to listening to Koi No Yokan and it dazzles just as much as their previous effort Diamond Eyes.  “Entombed” has become a new favorite.

Their new album Gore comes out on the 8th and I can’t wait.  These men have worked hard at shedding the “nu-metal” tag by deeply embracing non-metal influences like the shoegaze bands of the 80’s and 90’s.  Front man Chino Moreno prefers lyrics that focus more on mood and imagery rather than narrative.  Guitarist Stephen Carpenter can pummel with bottom heavy riffs or caress with feather light delicacy.  DJ/keyboardist Frank Delgado tends to keep to the background, but his presence can still be felt.  Abe Cunningham is as sharp as ever on the drums and the band couldn’t ask for a better replacement for the late Chi Cheng than Sergio Vega on bass.

When I was in my 20s, I made a Deftones mix CD for a friend who was still in her teens.  She liked the music, but had difficulty relating to the lyrics, saying the topics sounded less like teen angst and more like adult problems.  This fascinated me because as a teenager I had no problem relating Moreno’s abstract lyrics to my own problems.  “Lotion” from Around The Fur in particular provided a soundtrack to some high school drama involving an image obsessed circle of friends I had to part ways with, especially after an ugly swarm of misogynistic rumors were started about an innocent girl out of sheer malice.

I was doing work around the house with headphones on and Deftones on shuffle, and  marveled at how I barely felt the need to skip a song.  Keep up the good work guys! Looking forward to the seventh album!

Brave Danny Flint

TRIGGER WARNING: Abuse and sexual assault.

I’ve been reading the A Song of Ice and Fire novels upon which Game of Thrones is based.  I’m up to volume two, A Clash of Kings.  A fan-run Facebook group posted about a character named Danny Flint who is mentioned in the books.  Danny was a very young orphan girl who fled an abusive uncle.  She disguised herself as a boy and joined the Night’s Watch, a men-only military order guarding The Wall, a 700 ft wall of ice stretching to both ends of the continent.  The original purpose of the Night’s Watch was to guard the realm against ice creatures called The Others in the books and called White Walkers on the show.  As time wore on and less people believed in the existence of such creatures, the Watch devolved into a border patrol, keeping out the Wildlings. Their diminished reputation and dwindling numbers forced them to primarily recruit new members from prisons.

Danny passed as a boy long enough to officially join their ranks, however one night her true identity was discovered.  She was raped and murdered by the other members of the Night’s Watch.  Some say her ghost still haunts the Nightfort.  A mournful ballad was written in her memory called “Brave Danny Flint”.

Now, both the novels and the show are not without their issues when it comes to female characters, but I do give author George R.R. Martin some credit for making readers think about the lives of women in a medieval culture; be they peasants or princesses.  The fantasy genre is often synonymous with allowing the reader to escape, but Martin prefers confrontation.  Arya Stark disguises herself as a boy to escape being held hostage by Baratheons of King’s Landing.  Brienne of Tarth has all the makings of a knight but will never be named as such regardless of her bravery and martial prowess.  The only places in Westeros with any semblance of gender equality are Bear Island and Dorne.

If you are reading or watching these stories and you don’t come away from them thinking about gender roles and equality, you haven’t been paying attention.

Hear you now the sad lament
Of Brave Young Danny Flint
Whose parents died of sickness
When she was not but ten.

So off Young Danny went to live
With her wicked uncle
Who one night stole her maidenhead
So into the North she fled.

Oh Danny Flint you’ll never escape
The Fate the Gods have written
And life must seem the cruelest jape
Oh Brave Young Danny Flint.

North she fled to take the Black
And leave her troubles past
She cut her hair and changed her name
To Danny Flint the Brave.

At the Nightfort Danny took the oath
Thought a boy by all
And she hoped to live forever
As a Brother upon the Wall.

Oh Danny Flint you’ll never escape
The Fate the Gods have written
And life must seem the cruelest jape
Oh Brave Young Danny Flint.

Now Danny was so diligent
To keep from watchful stares
But one night as she bathed
Her Brothers saw her body bare.

These men were quick to break their vows
As they threw her to the ground
They took her honor then her life
While Danny made not a sound.

Oh Danny Flint there’s no escape
The Fate the Gods have written
And life does seem the cruelest jape
Oh Brave Young Danny Flint.

It is said Young Danny still yet walks
The Nightfort’s shadowy halls
A pale form singing sorrowfully
The loneliest, saddest song.

Oh, Danny boy, the pipes the pipes are calling…