What’s The Big Lebowski Deal?

biglebowski

Out of all the Coen Brother’s brilliant films, The Big Lebowski has always been my least favorite – for good reason though: I never got it. I’d walk away after seeing it, scratching my head and wondering to myself, “what just happened?” I have however been known for giving things a another chance, so when I was invited to go see the movie on the big screen with friends who find merit in this Coen-cult film – and knowing how much I respect their opinions, I decided to go. I pulled together my best Dude outfit and tumble-weeded my way towards the dark theater.

Maybe it was my Dude transformation, the two White Russians I had, my more mature outlook on film analyses (snicker), or maybe it was being in the throes of a theater packed with Big Lebowski fans, because…

Uh, sorry everyone… I was all prepared to talk a good game about existentialism and wow you with some nihilist bullshit, but hell, it would be easier just to ask the brothers themselves about the film. Better yet, ask Frances McDermott, because I think I read somewhere that it was a friend of hers that wrote the script.

So, suffice to say, I can’t lie to you and say I had an epiphany after seeing the film this time and now I completely and fully understand what the hidden meaning is behind it – unfortunately, I walked out of the theater, once again not really getting it. What I do really like about the film and have always understood, other than it’s well-crafted with good writing, acting and a funny plot-line is it’s a tribute to Los Angeles. The film referenced facts, historical figures and places only someone that really appreciates Los Angeles could know.

Okay, so there might be a smidgen of tongue-’n-cheek love of LA going on here, because there was that scene about Malibu… but come on, Malibu really stands up and begs to get picked on. I suppose one could argue that Los Angeles does have an abundance of smoke and mirrors going on, mostly because of the Hollywood scene. There doesn’t seem to be a shortage of plastic body parts, plastic money and plastic cars, so it makes it even more difficult to look pass the veneer and see things and see people for what and who they really are. Sometimes after you strip everything down to its naked soul, you still might find you don’t like what you see, but sometimes you find a real gem, like the warmth, compassion and honesty the Coen’s found in The Dude. And The Dude, well that feller, he was from Los Angeles.

 

The Dude Abides
Neve Black

Breaking Bad Is So Good

breakingbad

I don’t find many shows on television very good, which is why I don’t have any of the various cable-related services. Hells, I don’t even own a television. So when some of my most well respected writer/artist friends hammered convinced me, with great zeal to become addicted watch a television show called, Breaking Bad – I was suspicious.

How good could Breaking Bad really be?

Quite frankly, I snubbed the entire idea of watching the show. I have a love/hate relationship with television. Let’s be honest, a lot of what’s on television these days, or days gone by, is nothing but mind-numbing nonsense. Noisy, vacuously-bovine shows filling the empty hollows of our often already washed-out brains from the daily tediousness of life. There’s nothing wrong with vacuously-bovine, I suppose, but a brain needs nourishment too. Too many empty calories of the poorly written, badly directed and going nowhere plot lines, all in the name of Neilson Ratings can’t be good for you. Also, I’m always fearful of getting sucked into the ETCS: empty-caloric, television-watching, couch-potato syndrome. I know plenty of smart, articulate, vibrant people this has happened to: here today; gone to T.V. land tomorrow – never to be heard from again.

With all that being said, I pushed my fears aside and took a leap of faith – trusting the good judgment of fellow writers and off to Amazon I went and proceeded to download Breaking Bad Season I.

Season I: Whoa! I felt like I’d just witnessed the second coming in terms of television writing, directing and acting. How the hell did this show get past my radar for so long? Never mind, we already know the answer to that question. Wincing through the violence, shaking my head at the utter stupidity of the two main character’s decision to take on a life of crime, Walter White and Jesse Pinkman, I watched the first season in less than a week. Watching Breaking Bad was like heroine. I took on one sensational episode after the next. And before I could say, crystal meth, I’d slipped into the dark side of ETCS, even if I didn’t own a television and I was viewing the show from my 15” laptop screen.

Obsessively I purchased Season II and greedily obliterated it: filling my mind with more violence and the shock of just how really, damn good the show was, while simultaneously scratching my head and repeatedly asking myself, “this was written for television…really…?” Holy hells, this shit is good. Before too long, I was talking like Jesse Pinkman, dropping yo and biatch like they were common words in my non-television watching vocabulary. Oh, and I also pulled out my pork-pie hat, similar to the one Walter White wears when he starts to realize how good breaking bad feels.

 Why is it so good to Break Bad? Breaking Bad has believable characters, both the acting and directing are stellar – and the writing…well, it’s superb. The story in of itself escalates at a steady life-of-crime rate, the music is amazing and camera direction is fantastic. It’s without question a great show because it contains all these things I’ve mentioned. But like the recipe that produces those perfect, blue crystals, there’s something else to this show’s successful ingredients too – I like to think it’s because we all secretly want to break bad – and really what better way is there to break some bad, while conveniently avoiding prison, than going for the ride of your life with Jesse and Walter?

I’m now watching Season V, which is the final season of this show – I suppose that now makes me a veteran of Breaking Bad, as well as couch potato, yo!

 

 Television is not so bad,
Neve Black

I Think You Should Know

An open letter to John Kuegler:

john

Your death shocked us all, John. I don’t think anyone could honestly say that they saw it coming either, unless of course someone in the vast group of persons that knew you was a psychic. And I wouldn’t find that to be so unlikely either, after all, you were a man of great variation.

I was teary-eyed and saddened by the news that you were gone. And even though you and I weren’t really ever that close, you touched by life in a way that was special all to me.

I think you should know, there was a rain shower…well, that’s not completely true, it was really more like a torrential downpour of persons that were as equally shocked and genuinely upset to learn about this news. Your family, your close friends, and not so close friends, as well as acquaintances that knew you were all shaking their heads in unison with disbelief and sadness.

I know I keep mentioning the word, sad here, and I knew you well enough to know that you don’t want to hear about that, because you were an optimist, John. So, okay then, fair enough – enough with the sad. Even though life would sometimes get you down, and kick you hard, like it does all of us, you my friend found a way out from under the sad – you found happiness in music. Music was your muse, your lover, your best friend. Music was you.

Last night I joined your family, friends, acquaintances, and fellow musicians from all corners of Ohio to celebrate you; to celebrate your life here with us. It was a wonderful summer night. The air was warm, so the doors at The Spider were all open – live, loud, powerful, emotional, beautiful, gripping, foot-stopping, swinging, sing-along kinds of music poured onto the streets; dancing up past the stars and moon; moving out past the world; hoping to reach you -  wherever you are.

Sure, I’m not going to lie, there were some tears of sadness, but there was much laughter and there were many wonderful stories about you too. I shared my tale of when I first met you 10 years’ ago, and how I recently caught up with you and we talked about life and religion for two hours, while sipping on beers at a local spot in Tremont. I will always have that memory – I am thankful for that time with you.

I think what I want to say here, John is… I think you should know that I’m not the only person’s life you touched. I think you should know how much you will be missed. And I think you should know how many people loved you, my friend.

 

Rest In Peace, John Kuegler

Neve Black

Buried Treasure

I can’t believe the dirt actually washed clean from my fingernails. I say this to you as well to myself, as I type this post - looking down at soft- pink moons and white fingernail tips poised eagery across my laptop’s keys.  I’ve played in so much dirt the past couple days, the golden brown hue on my shoulders and upper back, which I thought was the affects of a deepening, summer suntan, looks to have mostly washed down the shower drain a little bit ago. I was a very dirty girl.

Suffice to say,  I’ve been spending some time digg’n  in the dirt lately. My dirt digg’n ways include crazy stuff like shoveling up huge  pieces of cement, encrusted in red brick. My backyard was overwhelmed with many large old stones and cement pieces just hours ago, until I hauled it all away today. To give you some perspective on the quantity of these cement/brick pieces, the hauling of said stone pieces took hours to get rid of today: there were several trips of rubble and debris loaded up in the back of my Jeep, along with a few wheel-barrow haulings to my neighbors dumpster (permission granted).  All this digg’n is necessary when trying to create a new garden of beauty though. I have garden vision. I can see Shangra-la-Black on the horizon.

 I have to admit, with all the digging I’ve been doing, I keep thinking I’m going to uncover lost loot. I know. I sound like a ten year-old child convinced  lost, buried treasure resides somewhere in her recently acquired backyard. These thoughts I’m sure have to do with my vivid imagination, fueled by my love of reading, and watching movies. Movies such as Goonies. And just so you know, my ten year-old imagination runs more wildly than normal too when I’m dreaming up big – all the things I’d do with this found treasure! The treasure in my 10 year-old mind, of course is millions of dollars. All tucked away in neat, crisp wads of Grover Cleveland’s; unscathed, and safe inside an old coffee cannister, or metal box. I imagine the tip of my shovel hits the metal treasure chest, and I rotate the shovel around the sides, pushing the shovel deeper into the ground, hearing the shovel scrape across the metal container, until I can get below it, and lift the money safe up from the darkened, cool earth.  Sitting down, Indian-style, the dirty box sits in my lap. As I push away the dark earth that surrounds the dirty containers opening, I pull my work gloves from my hands. I open the lid, and the smell of dust, spores of old earth, and money fill my nostrils. I’m rich! I’m rich!

Later, after I’ve cleaned up, and managed to gain composure, I’m interviewed by the local news, and then some faved home improvement television show. I wear dark sun-glasses, and a wide-brimmed hat to protect my identity of course, but the money…it’s all mine.

As I step back into reality…and realize that I am not 10 years’-old – even if I often act like I am – unfortunately, I didn’t find a box of buried money in my backyard today. Upon reflection, I suppose however, I am uncovering buried treasure though.  I’m creating something out there, which has been an utter mess and clean-up project. I’m creating a treasure that will be a place of beauty, and solace. A treasure of a place for friends, family, cats, bugs, and other critters to enjoy. My buried treasure is that all my hard-work and vision will pay off – and that my friends is what finding buried treasure is all about.

 

Neve Black

p.s. feeling like you’re 10 years-old is marvelous. I highly recommend it.