A Bump in the Night

April 28, 2013

A Bump in the Night

Last night, I was over at Alan’s house. It was just a small get together that eventually fizzled down to us watching movies on Alan’s computer, which was hooked up to David’s projector. It was like our own personal movie theater.

Anyway, we started with Mama and eventually worked our way to Superman: Doomsday. As we worked through a few movies, we progressively got more and more slap-happy. Late night movie watching can get that way. Stupid things made us laugh hysterically. Small scares in Mama made us scream. And the ground started to feel like the plushiest bed we’d ever lain in.

While we were watching Mama, a few of the guys expressed a distaste for scary movies, and it got me thinking about why I enjoy a good (or bad) scary movie. When I was younger, I thought I hated scary movies and I refused to watch them. Especially because I was already scared of the dark. I didn’t need another reason to be afraid every night before bed. Nowadays, I look forward to watching crappy scary movies on Netflix.

Once you start perusing through horror flicks, you notice some patterns. There are only a few kinds of scary movies. There are ones with senseless gore like Saw or Final Destination. There are ones about explorers or scientists that “went too far” like The Cave or Splice or The Descent. There are ones about demons or possessions like The Exorcism or The Possession. There are ones with spooky, little, supernatural jump-scares like Paranormal Activity or Mama. There are shaky camera movies like Cloverfield or The Blaire Witch Project.  There are ones about killers stalking through the night like Friday the 13th or My Bloody Valentine or House of Wax. And finally, there are classics like the works of Alfred Hitchcock that realize the scariest monsters are the ones we don’t see.

Whether I’m sitting on the edge of my seat watching a suspenseful Paranormal Activity or looking for a barf bag as I cringe at a gruesome Saw, I enjoy scary movies. And I think it has a lot to do with feeling alive. Scary movies (like haunted houses and roller coasters) are like this safe way to electrocute your entire body with excitement. It’s a way to be reminded that you’ve got a heart ready to pump adrenaline through your veins at a moments notice. It’s a way to unashamedly let out a scream you didn’t realize you were holding in. It’s a way to laugh at yourself as you contort your body in weird ways to shelter it from the cinematic threat. It’s a way to feel human. Because being scared is what makes humanity great.

Without fear, we’d never be courageous. As the Third Doctor said: “Courage isn’t just a matter of not being frightened, you know. It’s being afraid and doing what you have to do anyway.”

Scary movies are great because they give us all a chance to be courageous, to be Supermen. Then, maybe someday when we’re faced with something truly scary…We can remember that we escaped Jason and Freddy Krueger and Mike Meyers. We survived the Bates Motel. We vanquished Toby and eradicated Jigsaw. What’s left to fear, right?

-Brian Wiegand (An Idiot, A Superman in training)

I can’t remember if I said that Glee was my favorite show in my post on the Gleeson Four Premiere. If I did…I might have been lying.

Monday the 24th marked the premiere of the 8th Season of How I Met Your Mother. And that may very well be the best show on TV today.

I just can’t help but feel like it’s one of the most well-thought out stories I’ve ever experienced and I think that’s something to be respected. Every plot-line has a purpose, even if it doesn’t seem like it at first, and references to events in the future happen seasons in advance. And it all makes sense. With the amount of flash-backs and flash-forwards that happen on that show, it’s amazing that the audience can follow each little detail. And, yet, I’ve never been confused. I’ve never had to rethink something. It’s always very clear and well laid out. If you don’t like anything else about How I Met your Mother, an applause should at least be given for the successful writing of one of the most complex plots I’ve ever seen in a TV show.

Complex plots aside, I find myself utterly in love with the themes presented in the show. The Importance of Stories. The Importance of Friends. The Quest for “The One.” And, most apparently, the Presence of Fate.

The Importance of Stories. The whole show is one (very long) story (with millions of stories within it). The story of how Ted Mosby met his wife and mother of his children. It’s the story of How I Met Your Mother. And I think one of my favorite moments in the show is in an episode where Ted asks his parents how they met, and they give him some quick, one line response and he says:

“That’s it? Man…when I have kids, and I tell them how I met their mother, I’m gonna tell them everything. The whole damn story.”

However, on the other end of the spectrum, in the premiere of Season 8, they do have a moment in which Barney sums up the entire plot of Ted’s journey for love (from 7 Seasons) in a minute. So, maybe Ted is being a little long winded. But we’re all proud of him for staying true to his word. It’s a story that he feels he must tell. And, personally, I’m glad he is telling it.

The Importance of Friends. It’s hard to top a group of friends like Ted, Robin, Barney, Marshall, and Lilly. Even Ross, Rachel, Chandler, Monica, Phoebe, and Joey struggle to match up. All the characters are so clear in their strengths and weaknesses and their relationships to one another are vividly defined. They’re a real group of friends. They’re so familiar to us because, hopefully, we can all picture the people in our lives who make us smile just as much as Ted, Robin, Barney, Marshall, and Lilly make each other smile.

The Quest for “The One.” Ted is constantly on a journey to find his soulmate. That’s kinda the whole point of the the show. The story of How I Met Your Mother is a quest for love. A Quest for “The One.” As more and more episodes pass, I keep asking myself: “Do the writers really believe in everyone having “One” person who they’ll end up loving?” The idea just seems so far-fetched. I always tell myself that they’re just repeating that for the sake of the show. And, yet, every so often, an episode like the premiere of Season 8 crops up…and I think to myself: “Maybe. Just maybe.” Maybe there really is a soulmate out there for everyone. Maybe the writers really do believe that. Ted Mosby is certainly starting to believe it. Maybe. Just maybe.

The Presence of Fate. This is by far my favorite theme in How I Met Your Mother. It also ties in with the “complex plot” thing I was talking about earlier. Future Ted (the one telling the story) constantly makes references to the fact that he was thankful for this or that happening because it took him one step closer to finding his wife. It took him one step closer to finding “The One.” Future Ted usually follows up a comment about some Fateful event with “I just didn’t know it yet…” And I think that’s something prominent. How can any of us know whether we’ll be regretful or thankful in the long-term for something we do now? Ted was often met with misfortune in his story…but, in the end, we all know it’ll end with him finding her. “The One.

Overall, the show is about Life. And the little miracles that come with it. The miracle of finding love. Of achieving Life-long friends. Of experiencing. Of laughing. Of living. And that’s why I love it. Ted is on the Quest for “The One”, that much is for sure. But he’s also on the quest for happiness. He’s just trying to live Life. And that’s what we’re all here to do. We’re here to love and be loved to our best ability. And…maybe some silly show on TV can really help us learn that.

That’s why, every Monday night…? You’ll find me eagerly awaiting to discover who owns the Yellow Umbrella.

-Brian Wiegand (An Idiot, A Superman in training)

Thursday, September 13th, marked the Premiere of the Fourth Season of FOX’s hit musical comedy: Glee. Glee is, without a doubt, my favorite show of all time.

The Series Premiere aired 5 years ago, in the Spring of my 8th Grade Year. Only the pilot episode was shown on that warm evening, the continuation of Season One was held off until the start of my Freshman Year of High School. For each year of High School that I have faced, Glee has had another season.

I’m going through High School with the show. So, as you can imagine, my perception of High School is a little off…

To this day, I don’t understand why the Cheerleaders don’t walk around school in their uniforms every day. I don’t get why the Show Choir doesn’t spontaneously burst into song every lunch period. I’m confused as to why students aren’t allowed to randomly roam in and out of classrooms at their will. I’m really stumped when our assemblies don’t include absurdly impressive performances by a Show Choir that could sell out a concert hall…

Seriously, Glee is probably the farthest thing from reality. But, I suppose that’s why I watch it so avidly.

High School is great, don’t get me wrong. Life in general is pretty great. But that doesn’t mean it’s not cool to tune in for an hour each week to see what High School Life would be like if it had good writing, directing, sound, and lighting.

But, enough about the show in general, let’s talk specifically about the Gleeson Four Premiere. For those of you who aren’t Gleeks, this post may not be for you.

The New Rachel

First off, as a friend of mine very quickly pointed out: “Re-use story lines much?” I mean, the Cheerio who follows Sue’s every order? Just because Glee admitted in the episode that she was identical to Quinn, it’s still not okay to recycle her character. I swear, if that girl joins the New Directions and suddenly becomes nice, I’ll quit watching! Okay…that was a lie. I’ll still watch. But, I mean, come on…Puck’s little brother? He has a mean streak too? A bad temper that Mr. Shue will work out? So, they took Puck and Quinn off the show…and replaced them with Puck 2.0 and Quinn 2.0?

Secondly, I felt like everyone knew Blaine was going to be the new King on Campus…there was no need to hold a competition over it. Blaine is, without a doubt, my favorite character. I can’t wait for the innumerable solos he’ll get this Gleeson. Obviously, his rendition of “Cough Syrup” was one of Glee’s best songs so far, they might as well put him up in the limelight some more.

Thirdly, I am ecstatic over Rachel and Kurt. Honestly, I’d watch a whole show just about Rachel and Kurt in New York. Screw this switching back and forth between McKinley and NYADA, let’s have Glee…and then let’s have Berry and Hummel in the Big Apple.

Speaking of the switching back and forth, I’m worried. Already, I found this flip-flopping a little tedious. What am I going to do when they start Mercedes’ story? Or Santana’s? I can’t handle this nonsense!

Really, though, those are all very small critiques. I still love the show, in spite of any flaws. It all comes down to loving the music. A lot of people don’t like covers. I don’t mind them. I’d never say that a cover is “better” than the original, I don’t see it as a competition. The two songs are two completely separate entities, devoid of any connection with each other. I can appreciate an original and it’s cover as being entirely different songs. Sometimes, I find myself with multiple versions of a song on my iPod. The original, the Glee version, maybe some other random cover, and maybe a Mash-Up. And I don’t mind listening to any version.

Well, that’s my wrap up on Glee for now. Maybe I’ll write some other posts as the Gleeson intensifies. Overall, though, I’m happy the show was created and I’m happy to be going through High School with it.

It sort of makes me wish my High School career was a musical…

-Brian Wiegand (An Idiot, A Superman in training)

Bow-Ties Are Cool

September 2, 2012

It’s been a few days since my last post. I’ve been relatively busy. But not to worry. I’ve got something interesting to talk about today. Doctor Who.

When my Dad was a kid…or I suppose when my Dad was a teenager, he watched an absurd British sci-fi show called Doctor Who.

This show was based around a man known by everyone as merely…the Doctor. He was a Time Lord from the planet of Gallifrey and he owned a spaceship disguised as a police call box known as the TARDIS (Time and Relative Dimension in Space). This TARDIS was a police call box because it’s camouflage feature became jammed in England during one of the Doctor’s journeys to Earth.

The best part about the Doctor was that he was the noblest of heroes. While faced with life threatening situations, the Doctor never raised a weapon. His only tools were a Sonic Screwdriver and his mind. Just like the Scarlet Pimpernel, (if you get that reference, five stars) he solved his problems through the peaceful method of wit and extreme intelligence. He was a true hero. He never intentionally took a Life and always did his best to save the Lives of everyone, even those who attempted to kill him.

The show was extremely quick witted and had a very “tongue-and-cheek” kind of humor. The Doctor always had the answer to any problem and had no qualms expressing this answer with immense amounts of sarcasm. He even had a foxy assistant referred to as his “companion.” Most importantly, (especially to the survival of the show) it was nearly impossible to kill the Doctor. He had two hearts. Whenever he…for lack of a better word…”died”, his second heart would power his Regeneration Cycle into a new Doctor. Basically, every time an actor died or resigned or was fired, they would film an episode in which the Doctor goes through his Regeneration Cycle and a new actor becomes…the Doctor.

When I was about 13 or so, my Dad bought a series of Doctor Who episodes known as the Key to Time. And I ate them up. The Key to Time series occurred under the reign of the 4th Doctor, Tom Baker. Personally, I think he was the best Doctor of them all. Recently, though, someone told me that everyone’s biased to the first Doctor they see. Fair enough.

These days, Doctor Who has accumulated a huge cult of followers all over the world. The cheesy sci-fi show my Dad used to watch has evolved into a world-wide phenomena. And, ever the follower, I’ve started to watch it recently.

I’ve gotta say…I’m hooked.

The most recent seasons involving the 11th Doctor, Matt Smith, are just as clever and well written as the Key to Time series. And its got me sort of thinking. Its funny how one show could change so much over the course of 50 years and still retain this huge allure for so many viewers. Perhaps we all have an addiction to sic-fi. Perhaps the writers of the show have stayed the same for 50 years. Or perhaps the Doctor is the ultimate character. In any case, I think Doctor Who represents the diligence of an idea.

Roughly fifty years have passed since the start of the show and the viewership hasn’t dwindled. If anything, it’s grown. The diligence of an idea. The diligence of the Doctor. People flock to him and watch the show because he appeals to humans. The Doctor represents ideals that we can support in all times. The Doctor is a constant.

The Doctor is someone that Dads and Sons all over the world can look up to and say: “Now, that’s a hero.”

-Brian Wiegand (An Idiot, A Superman in training)