Thursday, September 15, 2011

Costume-Foolery, Both Camp and Gaga

   One of the things I do now is teach English privately. Some of the other things I do: sleeping; watching Castle reruns on Mnet Series; Cream Soda. Teaching English just happens to be marginally more lucrative than all of the above. Two of my students are the awesome twins, Jana and Jens, who are newly 12. Every week when it's time to go talk at them about verbs and other kinds of verbs I realise I'm really only about that old myself. For instance, I took along a bunch of home-made Mad Libs this week, to try to drive home the importance of verbs and other verbs, and goddamn but did it go down a treat.
   If you're not American and/or have not watched as much Friends quite as obsessively as I have and therefore have no idea what a Mad Lib might look like in the wild, here's one I did for the twins.

    So as you can probably gather- astute and impressively sharp as you are- you fill out the bottom bit first without looking at the context, to ensure maximum potential for randomness. Those words get filled into the gaps in the little story, and then the whole mess is read aloud. Now, I've known of these devils for many years, and have utterly failed to see the point of them in any context whatsoever. Cynical bastard that I am, I just couldn't imagine the humour in slightly nonsensical scrambling of words chosen for their silliness. 
   I was wrong.
   It took two excitable 12-year-olds, but the existence of Mad Libs has been properly and righteously justified. God, I cannot have picked a better tool to teach a pre-teen an adjective. There were some brief hiccups when I had to explain that were weren't making up our own words from scratch, because I tell you the temptation was strong and repeatedly acted upon. By the time we had completed our Mad Libs and had to read them out loud, I think two-thirds of the table's population had ruptured a lung laughing at the hilarity of what they had created. 
   But not even this was the high-light of the day my friend, oh no. Far and away, the absolute most spectacular thing I could have witnessed all week- nay, month- was the costume parade.
   Now, eagle-eyed readers (the whole two of you who read with any regularity. You know who you are, you certainly charge me enough for it.) will remember me polluting my young charges with Moving Pictures based on the adventures of one Dr. Horrible last week. Their assignment was to write their own superhero/villain back stories, come up with super-names, powers and costumes. All the fixin's. I said I would come in costume too, just to make them feel comfortable. As it turns out, I was almost entirely superlative to the whole exercise. They outdid me in the most spectacular fashion possible. I'm still busy obtaining permission to post pics of their awesomeness, but in the meanwhile I can definitely subject you to my own.

   What you are privy to here, oh you lucky viewer you, is the magnificent MISTRESS MIME, THE MIMESTRESS OF CRIME. Oh yes, there's rhyming. That's how you tell your truly proper supervillains from your day-players. Not pictured: Leopold the Leopard, The Snow Beast of the North East (of Mars.) You can't see it in that pic, but Mistress Mime is wearing some bitchin' suspenders and a poofy white skirt, as it befits the evilest mime this side of Clubview. 
   When Mistress Mime was but a young aspiring circus performer, she stumbled into her father Mad Scientist Joe (Hilarious side note: several attempts to spell the word "scientist" all kept coming out as "scientits.") (And don't all potentially villainous mimes-to-be have at least one in the family? Mad scientists, I mean, not scientits.)'s laboratory and was accidentally exposed to a strain of mutant, drug-resistant laryngitis that left her forever mute, but somehow also magic.
   Special super powers include, but are not limited to:

  • Communication via telepathy exclusively. She magics you into believing you see her lips moving and everything, but really it's all just in your mind. 
  • Ability to speak (or telepathise) in seven different languages fluently. Unfortunately they're all dialects of an archaic North-East Martian language, so it comes in handy less often than would be, you know, handy. 
  • Can arm herself by pulling invisible weapons from the air. Invisible bullets are very quiet, too, so that's gotta be a plus. 
  • Damn-near radio active charisma. I mean seriously, you gotta meet this chick, it's crazy.
  • The ability to say the letters "b" and "m" without using her bottom lip. Telepathically.
  • Magic tricks in multiple ranges of astounding.
   Leopold is her side-kick, and is well disguised as a stuffed leopard backpack. He is also mute, and Mistress Mime is the only one who can hear his thought waves. He speaks the same seven languages, as she got him on the working vacation she took to Mars a few years back.
   So there was much parading and evil laughing and declaring of nemeses across the living room that morning. It was beyond any awesome I could have hoped for really, and the fact that they took me out for sushi afterwards meant they had to beat me into submission or there would have been a real danger of me simply opting to stay forever.
   Speaking of costumery, a word on this.

   I caught Gaga's music video for Edge of Glory while watching So You Think You Can Dance. Now I've been thinking a little on this whole Gaga business after I saw her on Graham Norton the other night. She's got a semi-decent voice, even if she doesn't have the raw power or genuine talent of say, Adele. Her songs are ultra-pop which is not a crime, and some are even acceptably catchy. I dare say though if you heard something like Judas or Poker Face on the radio, having never actually seen or heard of her, it wouldn't necessarily make you slam on the brakes and turn the car over in a maddened cry of "GENIUS!". The theatrical costumes and bizarre demeanour are really the big selling point, no?
   So far my favourite explanation of the whole thing is that she's really an Illuminati puppet- a real girl who was chosen and brainwashed, then programmed with a new identity specifically engineered for pop super-stardom, the better to subliminally influence the public. The reason I love this, besides for the majestic lengths proponents of the theory will go to to identify the symbology in her act that support their ideas, is the image of a bunch of Masonite looking old men in a basement rented under a dry-cleaners somewhere, figuring out exactly how to put together a pop star. I love to think that all of her bizarre and seemingly braindamaged behaviour and odd interview answers are as a result of this bunch of lovable misfits having no earthly idea of what goes into a female, and no clue as to what a "pop-culture" may really be. So they improvised, programming her in their own stilted, creepy language, and sent her on her merry way. You know, in that same way all of Mike and the Mechanics and Sound Garden's lyrics are phrased in new and interesting ways that- while technically not incorrect- would never have occurred to native English-speakers.
   Then I see this video, and a new theory occurs to me: the reason she slaps on so many square acres of make-up and insists on wearing what amounts to the last nine seasons of Project Runway on her person every time she steps out is that she actually died back in 1995. What we're seeing here are the desperate attempts to cover up bits of disintegrating Gaga and distract from the zombie!tastic look by gluing moving parts and furniture to her clothes. Tell me that face doesn't scream consumption and eventual reanimation via Louis the Vampire circa 1832.
   And for some reason, I'm dying for her to make a celebrity cameo in the new season of Grey's Anatomy in full costume, with Meredith and Christina and the rest truly unaware that anything's amiss. Like if you had Martin Freeman on, you'd naturally have him play a marvellously affable everyman slash borderline geek, cause that's his bag. If you have Britney Spears or Katy Perry on How I Met Your Mother, then boobs. So if you had Lady Gaga on Grey's, (I'd settle for The Good Wife or Dexter here in a pinch) it'd only be natural for her to play up to her particular niche. And then to pretend like a crotch-eating bubble dress is only a natural reaction to a Thursday morning, and what the hell are you staring at?
   Maybe she can be the chick cracking jokes bravely whilst dealing admirably with the fact that she is about to die, impaled on a large beam with random other dude. And he has to lean forward on his bit of the beam so as not to be repeatedly stabbed in the eye by her enormous headdress in the shape of the solar system.

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