Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Karaoke and Serial Murder

I finished reading Ryu Murakami's Popular Hits of the Showa Era. It was published in the mid 90s, like around 1994, but now it is finally being released with an English translation in the states. So it's about these two groups seeking revenge on each other. One is a group of young men who get together to hang out and experience existential angst and start laughing for no reason, and then also sometimes they do karaoke together. One night one of the young men murders a woman who is kind of like a Japanese version of an "old maid" -- not really old, but unmarried and in her 30s, too young to be a "cougar" but too old to be considered appetizing in a traditional lame businessman-looking-for-a-wife, although sometimes they can be divorced and have joint custody of a kid. Bla bla bla. So the woman has this group of friends that avenge her death, and then the 2 groups become these waring factions. All of this sounds to me like "Meh. BUT, here's the part that pulled me in, and that is there's this whole karaoke connection. So both factions are really in to karaoke. Unfortunately, although I have done karaoke in Japan, I didn't know any of the songs they were really talking about. But I think the title of the book is taken from the Showa songs that the women do in the book -- showa being a genre of music that's kind of like a Japanese equivalent to what Americans think of as "oldies" (for the sake of simplicity). So of course, I had to read it. Any time I find any sort of reference to karaoke somewhere, my karaoke radar immediately goes off, and I have to go suss it out. In fact, I am really obnoxious about it. The only way I can explain my karaoke fetish is such that my husband's mom was wasting away in a private room in a nursing home and they made an announcement that they were doing karaoke in the main TV room and my husband had to virtually hold me down to stay in the room. There are 3 things that are like crack to me: pugs, Britney Spears and karaoke. If you had a pug wearing a pink wig and a shirt that says "I heart karaoke" my world would pretty much explode.

Anyway, I noticed that they have a movie that was made of the book. It is called Karaoke Terror, and there seems to be a general consensus that it blows. But I moved it to the top of my Netflix queue anyway. That will fit in just fine with the serial killer movie/documentary phase I'm going through right now. Well, to be more accurate, I was going through a true crime/serial killer reading phase a few years ago when I put it all in my queue, but since the queue is so long it took that long to get here. The other night I watched American Psycho and by and large it was pretty preposterous, like so over the top. I mean, I know it was supposed to be, but even that sort of tongue in cheek-ness was over the top. I enjoyed the monologues he did while he was preparing the grisly murders he would do (which reminded me very much of Dexter, which I have seen a few seasons of and read the first book -- although I want the whole show just to be Dexter's sister). Anyway, Christian Bale's character would talk about the critical aspects of the later work of Huey Lewis, or the merits of Whitney Houston's version of "Greatest Love of All," or even something equally ridiculous about Phil Collins. Those were like little nuggets of hilarity (or something) to me, that I think would be awesome to memorize. I could take or leave the rest of the movie or any of the grisly murder stuff, but those little nuggets of monologueyness about top 40, those were the parts I liked. If they could just distill it down to those moments, that would have been enough for me. For example, I will paste in some of the more preposterous things I enjoyed that Christian Bale's character said (I don't know if his character says them in the Brett Easton Ellis book since I never read it but I have to imagine they probably are there):

*"But I also think Phil Collins works best within the confines of the group, than as a solo artist, and I stress the word artist," I almost want to sample that. like if I was into making sound art collages or something."
*"When Sports came out in '83, I think they [Huey Lewis and the News] really came into their own, commercially and artistically."
*"It's hard to choose a favorite among so many great tracks, but "The Greatest Love of All" is one of the best, most powerful songs ever written about self-preservation, dignity. Its universal message crosses all boundaries and instills one with the hope that it's not too late to better ourselves."

I like the idea of doing "The Greatest Love of All" at karaoke and saying that at the beginning of the performance because I'm sure it would sound ridiculous -- and I'm sure it was supposed to sound ludicrous in the movie. Also! Sidenote: in the DVD extras there was discussion about how the movie studio originally wanted Leonardo DiCaprio to play the serial killer character! And it was right after Titanic came out! And Gloria Steinem told him not to do it. Interesting!

ANYWAY, so the Showa Era book -- perhaps I will check in about my thoughts after I see the movie. And then, if I am so inclined, I may go check out the movie they made based on another book by the same author, Audition. I think that might actually already be in my Netflix queue. In a strange twist of fate, I received Deepak Chopra: Seven Spiritual Laws (staring Olivia Newton John -- I swear to you now -- and there was part where she was supposed to be sort of illuminated from behind and it reminded me of her in Xanadu, where her and her fellow muse sisters are magically illuminated from a mural and then born into being in real life, all by the power of ELO magic) -- anyway, I received that DVD at the same time as some documentary about the cultural look at the archetype of the devil and how it manifests in different cultures. I guess I have a lot of interests or something. Also coming this week: Bollyrobics: Dance Workout. So you know, like I said, lots of interests.

Maybe the world needs more fiction books about karaoke. Are there any? I know there are stories about being getting lynched for doing "My Way." But I'm talking fiction. Which is funny, that the "My Way" thing is real and that it's happened in multiple countries! That is insanity.

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