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Friday, January 28, 2011

Da Birds

Remember when all you once had to fear about birds was that they were going to shit on you?

For eons, that's probably the biggest fear mankind could muster about birds. I mean, besides prehistoric, pointy-teeth birds that weighed more than oil tankers, most modern birds are, well, kind of funny looking. Kind of innocuous.

Kind of, well, dumb.

But even dumb birds have poodie-holes, n'est-ce pas? And that's the thing I've always feared most about birds-- that they were going to zero in on some lumbering, gimpy-assed schlep like me and, well, shit on me. And then, one day in June of 2010, it happened. And now I don't fear that happening anymore because, like, it's not going to happen twice. Not to me. Come on. No way.

These days, the major avian phenomenon that we have to contend with is mass bird death. As you've heard of, and as I've blogged about, roving bands of white supremacist birds have assassinated scores of black birds in the Deep South.

Ironically, it was a case of mass birdie demise that inspired Alfred Hitchcock to create his 1963 film, "The Birds." In 1961, a small town in California experienced a massive die-off of Sooty Shearweathers, the streets absolutely littered with carcasses. According to the local paper, Hitchcock called and asked for articles about the event for research "for his latest thriller." A thriller my wife and I watched with my sister-in-law and her boyfriend in Pittsburgh this weekend.

I admit, I'm not up on my Hitchcock. And by "not up on my Hitchcock" I mean that I have never seen a Hitchcock movie. I know. You can scream and squeal and make weird birdie noises at the computer monitor. It doesn't matter-- I can't see you. Not even when you take off your tank top or whatever.

So, I am really at a loss to explain the dearth of Hitchcockery from my life. I guess I just don't like being scared-- that must really be what it is. It's funny, because I work in a locked psychiatric hospital-- with people who have raped others, with people who have burned down houses-- with people inside them-- I work in a scary place. I've seen and done scary things. And yet, I don't like being scared, as many do. I've never been to a horror movie. I refuse to pay money to have some director and a special effects team and an eerie soundtrack scare the shit out of me. I like my shit on the inside, thank you.

Standing in front of the rather imposing video collection of my sister-in-law's boyfriend was a little nostalgia-inducing. I remembered when I spent nearly every penny I earned on movies, and I longed for the days when I could easily blow $50.00 on some of my favorite films. Having them. Owning them. Placing them on a shelf to gaze upon them. All those colors. All those vertically-opposed letters.

*Le sigh.*

I admit that I was slightly crestfallen when my wife decided that we ought to watch a Hitchcock film. Dude had this extremely impressive-looking box-set of them. There are precious few film creations that I give enough of a deuce about to buy something like that:

The Pink Panther series

Wes Anderson's films (he had all of them-- props)

Homicide: Life on the Street

Monty Python's Flying Circus

Fawlty Towers

So, I realized that my sister-in-law's boyfriend was pretty dead-ass serious about Alfred Hitchcock. He was elucidating factoids about Hitchcock, the film, and the film's impossibly-coiffed starlet, Tippi Hedren. Because I like my sister-in-law's boyfriend, I wanted to like "The Birds."

I didn't.

I mean, I was disturbed, which is probably what Alfred Hitchcock was going for. Which is nice for him. I mean, I don't know how especially one likes a film where thousands of birds are pecking out peoples' eyes and mercilessly dive-bombing into awkward, overdressed schoolchildren. But I'm sure some people managed to like it. I mean, look-- maybe I'm an ignoramus. It's distinctly possible. Just because I use big words like "ignoramus" and "distinctly" doesn't mean anything.

It was interesting to me to think that "The Birds" was the "Saw IV" of its day-- that men in skinny ties escorted chicks in pencil skirts to get their heart rates up. This is how we used to get scared. Now, we make movies about hot sluts in nearly invisible clothing getting together at some lake cabin to fuck each other and then they get their skin eaten off by some homicidal cabana boy's ghost or whatever.

As you can tell, I don't watch horror movies.

I suppose it's important to see films like that, even if you don't like them, to increase your cultural lexicon. Earlier last week, I increased my wife's cultural lexicon by subjecting her to "The Great Outdoors," the fantastic John Candy/Dan Aykroyd film that taught us all what hotdogs are really made of.

And there were no birds, attacking or otherwise, featured in that film. Just a bat that adhered itself to John Candy's face, a bunch of trash-loving (and trash-talking) raccoons, and one bald-headed, bare-assed motherfucking bear.

Yakkity-yak: don't talk back... or the birds'll get ya.

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