Monday, February 18, 2013


It was minus 17 degrees and snowing.  He was strumming in front of the liquor store on Broadway Avenue.  I’d never seen him before.  Cap-a-pie in a navy toque and black worn-out looking skidoo suit and scruffy sneakers, he hardly looked to be the quintessential busker.  Going into the store I gave him a thumbs-up, to which he gave one nod, chin up chin down.  Coming out I gently set one of my German ERDINGERS (advertised as the world’s most popular wheat beer) into his open guitar case.

Thanks, man! he said.

Nothing like a warm beer on a cold day, I replied.  My name’s Neil.

Pleased to meet you.  I’m Ian.

How long are you staying? I asked.

Leavin’ right away.  Takin’ my honey to the movie, he said.

Oh yeah.  What movie?

Hotel Transylvania at the Rainbow; movies are cheap at the Rainbow.

Ian did not know that I was a movie critic.  And neither did you, I’m betting.  Hotel Transylvania is a destination resort where monsters and their families go on vocation. Frankenstein and his bride, the Mummy, the Invisible Man, and even a pack of werewolves all take their holidays at the Hotel Transylvania.  Adam Sandler is Dracula.

Hotel Transylvania, a five-star resort, not surprisingly projects to be a two-star movie.  Reading the reviews I’m thinking back to my hockey team wind-up bean suppers and movies, Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein; Abbott and Costello Meet the Invisible Man; Abbott and Costello Meet the Mummy.  You get the picture?  It’s reely black and white.

To every hockey season end, courtesy of the management and coaches of the Vanguard Eagles hockey team of the NHL (Notekeu Hockey League), we players were treated a bean supper and movie night at the Legion Hall.  Those were the number nine days of Gordie Mr. Hockey Howe (Detroit Red Wings), Maurice the Rocket Richard (Montreal Canadiens) and Bobby the Golden Hawk Hull (Chicago Blackhawks). 

Ah ... those were the days … but I digress.

Ian got me thinking about movies, and some especially came to mind:

The Sand Pebbles (1966) starring Steve McQueen and Candice Bergen; Out of Africa (1985) starring Robert Redford and Meryl Streep; Quigley Down Under (1990) starring Tom Selleck and Laura San Giacomo;  Groundhog Day (1993) starring Bill Murray and Andie McDowell; Lost in Translation (2003) starring Bill Murray and Scarlett Johansson; Kingdom of Heaven (2005) starring Orlando Bloom and Eva Green.

In The Sand Pebbles, sailor, Steve McQueen, assigned to the USS San Pablo, is sent up the Yangtze River on a rescue mission. One of those being rescued, of course, is school teacher, Candice Bergen.
The Sand Pebbles is a rich and dramatic anti-war movie set in 1926 pre-revolutionary China. Steve McQueen is the cool tough guy with the military mentality of doing the job with a focus on getting things done.  Candice Bergen plays the beautiful idealistic schoolmarm who believes that everyone in the world would get along, if they all got along with Jesus.

Out of Africa is set in 1913-14 British East Africa (soon to be Kenya). Robert Redford is a tough-guy big game hunter; Meryl Streep is a rich baroness, owner of a coffee plantation.  This movie is dramatic historic-adventure with beautiful vistas and lots of wonderful wild life footage.

In Quigley Down Under, Tom Selleck plays an American cowboy, plying his sharp shooting trade in 1874 Australia.  Laura San Giacomo plays a betrayed and extroverted beauty, also a transplanted American.  The crux of this dusty blockbuster is the racism directed towards Aborigines.

In Groundhog Day, quirky meteorologist, Bill Murray, is somehow caught in a time-loop, reliving February 2nd (Groundhog Day) again and again and again.  And in so doing, he is in pursuit of his classy and shapely work-mate, Andie McDowell, who he plots (daily) to make his sexual playmate.  I used to think the theme of Groundhog Day was that all of us always get another and another and another chance for redemption.  This very well could be a sub-theme, but for now I am thinking the reel theme of Groundhog Day is that most of us are leading repetitious and predictable and monotonous and uninspiring ho-hum lives.  

Lost in Translation is seriocomedy set in modern Tokyo.  An aging (but still suave) actor in midlife crisis, Bill Murray, develops an intensely generative rapport with Scarlett Johansson, a delicious recent college graduate, in this vibrant Japanese city of night clubs and karaoke.  Impressive and plausible, themes of loneliness and existential ennui are ever present (realistically) disturbing.

Kingdom of Heaven, an adventure swashbuckling romance of kings and queens set during the Crusades in 12th Century, is historically adequate and extremely somber in the depiction of battles royal between Christians and Christians, and between Christians and Muslims for the Kingdom of Jerusalem.

My point of these quick and wry movie reviews is simple.  Motion pictures projected onto a screen can also serve as projected tests in Psychology.  The hypothesis of Projective Psychology is that we tend to put structure on ambiguous settings, in ways that are consistent with our own conscious and unconscious needs. The Rorschach (inkblots), Draw-A-Person, Picture Arrangement, and Word Association are some commonly accepted projective tests. Recipients of these tests attach their personal meanings, oftentimes revealing their personal histories and values when being administered any of these so-called standardized projective tests.

I am inclined to believe that the kind of movie one tends to enjoy, too, can be listed as a projective test, and will, indeed, reveal personal mindsets, admissions, and axioms.  A movie-review self- analysis is necessary to prove my point.

All the movies that I’ve written about today are love stories with cool male heroes serving damsels in distress.  That fact that I’ve listed just the two main stars in each movie, male first, female second, suggests something about my placement of males as they’re depicted in my imaginary order of real world values.

It could be, too, that because in each of these movies I’ve presented depicts both male and female stars of importance, being of a heterosexual nature is of primary importance to me.

It could also be that I liken myself as the blending manly composite of cool ruggedly handsome Steve McQueen, suavely handsome Robert Redford, hunky cowboy handsome Tom Selleck, an angst Bill Murray, and devout Orlando Bloom.  Did I mention the word, handsome? Yes I did.

And it could be that I love to view such projected American buxom beauties that are juicy and luscious and vulnerable?  Did I mention the word, voluptuous? No I did not, but I was thinking it.

Am I really, the complex conglomeration of the reel movie males that I write about?  Yes, I am, and in a very handsome way I might add ... but only when I busk.

And do I really lust after synthesized and debased adulterant on-screen dames and sylphs?  Of course I do … but only when I busk.

The Hollywood projector truly doth depict me. I am a cumulative, delusional, and temerarious sailor- cowboy who is tormented because of my tendency toward lookism.  Employing some inductive reasoning, and judging from movie sales and movie star lifestyles, I daresay the majority of other adult heterosexual males think in almost exactly the same imaginary way. Thus, are the projected values of Westerners.

I shall close as I began, with Ian the busker, who was off to see Hotel Transylvania. Imagine on a big screen this perfect mise-en-scene:  It is cold and it is snowy. An adenoidal singing busker is blurting his last song so he can catch his honey in time to attend a monster mash. What the hell is projected here?


The characters marching in my Chaucerian Parade this week are the many people who ask me each and every day, Are you going busking?  (I love you guys!)

  • It’s a swell season …
The surf’s up in South Korea where it’s cold and it’s snowy, and the surfers are riding the waves right now as I type.
  • Out of this world …
A meteor storm in the Ural Mountains of Russia, injured 1200 people while traveling 54,000 kilometers per hour blowing out windows in more than 4000 homes. (Nationalist leader, Vladimir Zhirinovsky, told reporters in Moscow that this catastrophe was not caused by a meteor, but was rather a new weapon being tested by the Americans.  Comrade, Vladimir, you've been watching too many episodes of American television shows, specifically  Fireball XL5 and Star Trek.)
  • An eye for the future …
And speaking Star Trek, Lieutenant Geordi LaForge’s visor has been re-invented. Argus II is a video camera mounted on special sunglasses that sends a wireless image to a grid of 60 electrodes surgically implanted in a patient's damaged retina. This could be the first bionic eye. 
  • Burning rubber in Aleppo ... 
Because of the bloody war, the oil and gas prices in Syria have skyrocketed.  Residents are burning army boots as fuel to keep themselves warm.
  • Tea Hee-Haw -- Donkey Con
In the United Kingdom, where beef consumption is symbolic of Englishness, the consumption of horse meat is considered culturally scandalous.  Brits, you can relax, some food officials have speculated that some of the unpalatable horse meat that is mentioned on the front page of every newspaper is not even horse meat -- it is donkey meat.

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