Getting back to pop culture experiences with bunny_hugger: we went, at my urging, to the Rifftrax Live riffing of Manos, the movie which made Mystery Science Theater 3000 and vice-versa. bunny_hugger is not particularly a fan of MST3K, though she likes participating in MiSTing events, since she's the booster type of person who likes participating in anything, particularly group-art stuff. She finds riffing herself more fun than watching others do it, and I'm not about to try telling her she's wrong to do that. But I wanted to see the live-theater-broadcast and she was glad to go with me.
She hadn't seen the MST3K version of Manos, and I've avoided going all fanboy on her about it because endless repetitions of quotes do so much to convince the non-fan that there's something enjoyable there (see also Monty Python, which is almost enjoyable through the mass of collected fanboyism), but she had read about it and knew some of the dimensions of general badness to follow. At the theater there was at least one person in costume, wearing a homemade version of The Master's robes, and she got applause as she walked in.
We had fun, of course, and left with a spot of disagreement about the dimensions of Manos's failure. The pivot is on Nathan Rabin's My Year Of Flops division of flop films into Failures, Secret Successes, or Fiascoes. Manos can't be called a Secret Success --- a film that's really great but unappreciated at the time --- but is it a Failure or a Fiasco. I was leaning toward Fiasco, since everything which could go wrong in the making went wrong in the most embarrassing way possible. bunny_hugger leans toward simple Failure, on the grounds that if you imagine Manos made perfectly, with all its flaws corrected, what do you have? An utterly unremarkable mid-60s Satanic cult horror film. Her view, and I'm coming around to it, is that a real Fiasco has to be something which, if it came out right, would expand the movie genre and be something that would be imitated or followed up significantly. For example, Xanadu is a great Fiasco; but if it were done perfectly, it'd have opened up movie musicals to new styles of music and modern cinematography. A perfect Manos would be one nobody cared about, and in this view, the actual Manos is simply a Failure. It's worth considering.
Also of interest to me is something I hadn't noticed on the even muddier than average print that MST3K had back in 1993. Within Torgo and the Master's Valley Lodge (I know their place isn't the actual Valley Lodge, but you come up with a name for it) there's bookshelves in every room. I'm sure The Master is one of those people who tells you at every chance how he proudly doesn't own a TV, so he and Torgo must do something those dull nights between abusing women. But what do they read? The books had that State Legal Code look to them, probably they're cheap to get when you have to decorate a set. This implies Torgo was studying to pass the Texas bar exam and maybe was working for the Master to pay off his student loans, which is at least as depressing as everything else in the film.
Trivia: Among the products owned by Asa Griggs Chandler around the time he bought Coca-Cola were De-lecta-lave dentifrice, Everlasting Cologne, and Botanic Blood Balm. Source: Indian Givers: How Native Americans Transformed The World, Jack Weatherford. (And isn't the world poorer for Botanic Blood Balm having gone the way of Uneeda Biscuits, only sooner?)
Currently Reading: The Invisible Kingdom: From The Tips Of Our Fingers To The Tops Of Our Trash, Inside The Curious World Of Microbes, Idan Ben-Barak. It's an interesting book about a neat subject, but so busy nudging you in the ribs that this reader at least is in danger of falling over. I suspect his classes start out with lots of laughter at the start of the term and then peter out into resigned chuckling mid-semester because people are just worn out.