Thursday, 24 April 2014


Hello Friends.

Because I'm perpetually late to the party, the Doc and I have finally started watching Orange is the New Black. It's a good show with a great premise and a really solid cast, we're about eight episodes in. I particularly like the Brittany Murphy-type who's always going on about her fiancĂ©, the old Creole lady who is mean but not mean, the transsexual hairdresser, and the cute guard who lost his leg below the knee. Oh, and Natasha Lyonne! It's nice to see actresses who all look different and aren't just cast to be versions of the same sort of pretty. That sounds condescending in a sexist, "Way to go ladies!" way, but it's true. There's just one problem I have with that show, and Kashi Good Friends Cereal, and I Still Know What You Did Last Summer, and a bunch of other things: they're all titled wrong, called by a name that doesn't make sense, improperly labeled.  

Orange is the New Black is particularly bad, I'm afraid. What does that mean? I know there's an expression " ____ is the new black" that used to be used in reference to fashion, as in "Once upon a time, everyone wore black to be fashionable, but seeing all the mauve onesies on the red carpet this season proves mauve is the new black!" And prison jumpsuits are orange (even though they're tan colored on the show). So do they mean prison is newly in fashion? Or is it some commentary on the majority of the prison population being black people? Neither really makes sense in the context of the show (although the points about race seem a little ham-fisted; I'm not sure if joking about how segregated the prison population is socially makes it okay to just keep splitting characters up that way). Why not call the show "Oops, I'm in Jail!" or "Lady Lockup" or "Piper and the Cons"? I'm not of the opinion that olden timey descriptive titles are passé. What better title for The Lego Movie than The Lego Movie? Nobody ever forgets what That 70's Show was called, and it's easy to remember the host's name on Oprah. The titles I like the best are the ones I administer myself. For instance, the Doc and I were super into the first couple of seasons of that show Damages, but nobody on that show is called Dr. Damages or Judge Lynda Damages or whatever, so the title didn't stick with an immediate Nurse Jackie-style recognition. But at the beginning of the theme song, it sounds like the guy says, "Little bear..." Give it a listen, it's about four seconds in. Anyone, it's extremely cute that my boyfriend and I would say things to each other after dinner like, "Should we catch up on Little Bear?" or, "Can you believe what happened to Ted Danson on Little Bear?"

Dream: Give some things a new title.

Goal: Achievable. I followed Little Bear religiously, even as it became increasingly convoluted and self-important, chiefly because I was so pleased with the self-anointed title. Likewise, I give Le1f's album several plays during trips to the gym because of the simply titled tracks, Hey, Sup, Boom, Wut, and Buzz (actually, I give Le1f's album several plays because he's a gay hip-hopper and I want him to succeed so badly and I feel like I can listen to him less self-consciously as a white person because we're both gay, which is stupid. It's not as if I could be blasting him in an Escalade, roll up on a car full of black guys and confidently say, "It's alright, fellows, we both like dinguses.".) But anyway, I can't actually change the title of established things, but I can give them new names myself and hope they stick.

Plan: List alternate title suggestions for things and hope enough of you reading adopt those titles yourself and popular usage dictates an eventual title-change (like how That 70's Show was originally called Feelin' Alright or something like that, even in the pilot as I understand it, but enough people were like, "That's stupid"). Anyway, new titles. Oh, and also, I realize I should do something to indicate titles like italicize or underline, which I normally do, but this entry is so stuffed with titles that it just reads distractingly, lIkE tHe WoRkS oF tHoSe MoRoNs WhO tYpE lIkE tHiS. With that out of the way, here are some of the worst titles and alternate suggestions:

  • Jeopardy! doesn't have anyone in jeopardy. Let's call it Quiz Show or What Is A Quiz Show.
  • Game of Thrones should be called Rape Dragon
  • Dragon's Den should be called Business Buttholes
  • Q with Jian Ghomeshi should be called Whispered Smugness
  • Grape Nuts should be Hard Things
  • Orphan Black should be called Tatiana Maslany Presents The Clone Zone
  • Instagram should be called Narcissism Examples
  • Goatees? Douche Rings!
  • Mason jars are Hipster Catchalls
  • Sean Saves the World didn't feature him saving anyone and was abruptly canceled. But would it have met the same fate if it was Remember This Gay Guy?
  • Tattoo sleeves are Arm Mistakes
  • Urinals should be called Pee Walls
  • Barbara Walters should be called B Walls
  • Graham Crackers with peanut butter on them should be called Shut Up, Children
  • Heaven is For Real should be Heaven is Real. I don't know the story, but doesn't it tamper the integrity of something we're supposed to believe if we keep the 5 year old's title? It's lucky he didn't visit the Lord and decide to name his book Super Jesus Dream. Actually, I'd watch Super Jesus Dream.
  • Ke$ha - Kesha. Come on.
  • P!nk - Pink. Stop it.
  • kd lang - You can do whatever you want.
  • Baby Shower - Forthcoming Child Celebration. Tig Notaro has a great bit about how absolutely darling a baby showering would be. Just scrubbing up in there with their giant heads and stupid 1 inch feet.
  • Reese's Peanut Butter Cups should be The Peanut Butter Cups of Reese
  • Sbarro. I never know how you're supposed to combine an S and B in speech, so I'd rather we go with Bad Food Court Choice
  • Betty & Veronica - Betty or Veronica. DECIDE, YOU GINGER GOON!
  • Tyler Perry Presents Tyler Perry in ______, A Film by Tyler Perry. Tyler Perry, you need to calm down a little bit. I can't begin to understand what it must feel like, as a black writer/director, to not only write, direct, produce, and star in several Hollywood movies, but to see them turn amazing profits and garner a built-in audience. That's amazing. But you've done it! You have the funding and studio backing to get any movie you like into any theatre screen in North America, you don't have to put your name all over it, and maybe you shouldn't. You're a divisive figure among critics, who fawn over your accomplishments while side-stepping the quality of your film-making, or lambast the one-dimensional characters and pedantic pandering in your films as part of your overall shtick. If you put a movie out without your name preceding it's title, more theatregoers might walk in blind, and judge the film on its merit. Not as a black movie, or a Tyler Perry movie, but just as a movie. Wouldn't that be fun? I often wonder what would happen if you took Woody Allen's name completely off one of his projects and got rid of his distinctive opening credits sequence. Would the films be judged better without the spectre of his previous work hanging over them, or would they be completely maligned without the "this isn't great but his other films are SO great that this one gets a pass" excuse?

Finally, I suppose this blog deserves a major title change. Big City James made sense insofar as I began it as a kind of letter home when I lived in Toronto. Now I don't live in a big city anymore (unless you consider Edmonton a big city because you were born in a clearing somewhere), but how else do I package what I write on Thursdays? I suppose I could call it Dream, Goal, Plan but that might confuse people into thinking I've created something helpful (I have not). But really, talk about Tyler Perry narcissism. Who the fuck cares what I call this thing? Call it Big City James, call it Dumb Blog I Read Sometimes, just don't call me late for dinner because all I've had today are a plate of Shut Up, Children and I'm STARVING.

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