Many years ago… before the dark times… before the Special Editions… my lovely lady Anne and I attended an all-night marathon screening of the original Star Wars trilogy. I made it through the first two films without too much difficulty, but I found myself fading by the time Return of the Jedi got under way. Not surprising, as it must’ve been going on 4 AM by that time, and even my awesome levels of nerdish enthusiasm weren’t enough to keep me going around the clock. I very clearly remember seeing the rebel star fleet, led by Lando Calrissian aboard the Millennium Falcon, going to lightspeed… and then opening my eyes again just as the fleet came outof lightspeed. I’d dropped off and missed all of the mucking about with the Ewoks on Endor, probably a half-hour or so of the film. I laughed for a long time about that…
(My affection and/or tolerance for the Ewoks has waxed and waned over the years, and at the time I was in a low point toward them. These days, I’m not quite so down on them as I was then; besides, I’d also missed the speeder bikes during my nap, and that could never be anything but a shame.)
Anyhow, I just ran across a video clip that edits the film’s climatic space battle together pretty much exactly how I remember it from that screening. Enjoy!
I’ve now lived long enough to see just about everything that ever meant anything to me, pop-culturally speaking, get hollowed out, recycled, subverted, and/or exploited by cynical beings who make their money by feeding off a generation’s nostalgia, like one of those emotional-parasite energy creatures that occasionally turned up on the old Star Trek series. And yes, I am kinda bitter about the whole deal. You may have noticed.
But every once in awhile, one of these exercises in crass commercialism comes along that is so disarmingly silly, and so affectionate toward the material it’s aping, that even I can’t help but smile at it. Case in point: a new advertisement that perfectly recreates the look of a music video circa 1985, from the film-noir-inspired lighting and shadows to the editing montages, garish fashions, and cheapo compositing effects. Everything about this feels authentic, right down to the occasional VCR tracking glitch. But there’s one important difference between this and an actual vintage MTV clip… in this video, the band is composed of cats.
Such an obvious mashup of the two most enormous forces on the Internet — nostalgia and funny cat videos — could easily have come across as being too calculated and crashed under its own weight. Execution is everything, though, and this piece is, in my humble opinion, pure marketing genius. If I must be sold cat treats using a parody of one of my all-time favorite songs, well, this is the way you do it.
I understand there’s also a 30-second broadcast version, so I imagine we’ll be seeing “The Electric Furs” on our TVs very soon…
Confession time: I’ve long had this odd little fascination for… brothels.
Oh, stop! I don’t mean it like that. My interest is purely academic. Well… mostly academic. When you grow up in strait-laced Utah, you can’t help but feel some attraction to the seedier side of things, especially when the notorious flesh-pots of Nevada are only a few hours away. (The Mustang Ranch outside of Reno had a near-legendary quality among my peers when I was in my early twenties; I remember much discussion of taking a little road trip… of course, it never happened, but the idea occupied a large patch of real-estate in our imaginations for a time.)
Seriously, though, youthful rebelliousness and licentiousness aside, I really am interested in the history and sociology of the whole phenomenon, especially in the context of how puritanical American culture tends to be, generally speaking. Basically, there are certain underground economies that flaunt traditional morality and that flourish in spite of — or maybe because of? — the country’s surface-level propriety, and these never really go away despite periodic attempts to stamp them out. I’m intrigued by that dichotomy, and by the hypocrisy of a society that’s unwilling to legitimize these economies even while so many individual Americans privately embrace them. So naturally a new book by Jayme Lynn Blaschke called Inside the Texas Chicken Ranch, which is just out today, has been on my radar for some time.
The Chicken Ranch (I don’t know why these places are always “ranches,” but that’s the way of things) is probably the best-known brothel in America, thanks to its being immortalized in the stage musical and Dolly Parton/Burt Reynolds film The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas, as well as that staple of classic-rock radio, ZZ Top’s “La Grange.” Jayme himself is a native of the La Grange area who grew up hearing tales of the infamous “home on the range,” and spent years researching the real story behind the legend, followed by further years trying to find a publisher for his book. I’m really delighted for him that he’s finally succeeded. Here’s the book’s official promo:
As I said, Inside the Chicken Ranch is on the market as of today, available from all the usual outlets, including Amazon and direct from the publisher. Congratulations, Jayme, I can’t wait to read it!