Friday, September 11, 2015

S/M: Experience #4

Today is 9/11/15.  It's not every day you write a book or a movie that anticipates a very particular day in the future (recently, I made a joke in court about a continuance to October 21, 2015 that did not go over very well), and on those days, you must celebrate.  You must celebrate (though on this day certainly, we must mourn) and reflect on your accomplishments and assess how accurate your vision has proven to be.  I never wanted to release S/M on its own blog, like my other two "completed" books, but now we have posted 2 out of the 34 chapters or so.  The previous one posted was not one of the highlights of the book, but was just extremely timely in the same way.  This is a definite highlight in the book.  This is the high point, the low point, the climax, the everything.  It's a definite spoiler, but given the amount of interest that S/M has generated, who really gives a fuck anymore?  Enjoy.

Experience #4
            Happiness, love, sex, and death.  The four essential experiences to a human life.  Birth might also be included, but I have a hard time believing anybody remembers being born.  I also mentioned, earlier, that work could be included there.  True, I could still go home, I could still get back on my feet, I could still work on a screenplay, I could still achieve success yet. 
            Enough!  My hope is all used up.  That is not accurate to say.  I do not want to have any hope.  I do not wish to join the simpering masses on their crowded commuter trains at 7 AM, on an inadequate sleeping schedule, returning at 5, facing the world as an equal when even the most basic bodily functions send terror shooting along my insides.  I have never been able to express myself in language aloud.  What few words I manage to issue forth from my mouth are filled with the most banal observations.  Only here, on the page, is the full magnitude of my personality presented.  It has been a long ride, but the roller coaster has just passed its final curve, and is now stopping, prepared for us to disembark and to load in another train of passengers. 
            Everyone wishes for sustained happiness.  Take Samantha for example.  Ben will provide her with sustained happiness.  By now he must have passed the Bar.  By now he must be working at a prestigious law firm in downtown Los Angeles.  The money will soon come rolling right in.  Samantha must be submitting shorts to the Hollywood Film Festival.  They must be living together and thinking about marriage.  Ben must be getting ready to pop the question, or has probably already done so.  Samantha will clearly accept.  Ben has very few faults.  There are none that I have witnessed, and none that I have heard Samantha mention.  Sustained happiness is theirs.
            Take me, for example.  Would Samantha and I even have experienced sustained happiness, were she to have dumped Ben after that fateful “day of reckoning” a month before the end of college?  There’s no way of knowing for sure, but my long term prospects could never equal those of Ben.  A rift in the relationship could have occurred.  The only reason our friendship is so strong is because Samantha never allowed herself to get close enough to me to be disappointed. 
            Happiness: Robby and I at a 4th of July celebration, carefree, successful for our age, doing totally typical teenage things, no cooler or less cool than anyone else.
            Love: Meeting Rhiannon for the first time, feeling like there was nothing I could do except impress her, going on an adventure downtown, feeling more advanced, comfortably normal, the way living should feel.
            Sex: Tamara swiftly taking my innocence, doing it gently, carefully, feeling more normal, now on the same level as everyone else.
            Death: At an early age, with profound works of art attached, a thrilling obituary, not famous, but oh so close. 
If only they knew!  If only those publishing houses had let me in their doors!  If only 20th Century Fox, ABC Disney, CBS Paramount, Warner Brothers, or NBC Universal had let me squeeze into their crowded, crowded worlds.  If only I had found a place I could feel comfortable, with everything taken care of for me, without feeling like an invalid. 
            I won’t go home.  What’s the day?  Why, it’s a national holiday in September.  No work today.  We must never forget.  I remember: I was ten years old.  I was getting ready to leave for school.  My parents told me I didn’t have to go.  We were witnessing something unprecedented.  One day of studies could not contain the lessons presented in that experience.  My parents called their relatives and friends, but none of them lived in New York.  We were safe.  None of us were hurt.  Now I live in New York.  And today nobody goes to work.  There are few symbolic dates in a calendar year.  January 1.  February 14.  Easter.  Thanksgiving.  December 25.  Your birthday.  October 31.  December 31.  And today. 
            Am I drinking?  I’m out of money.  I could still call my parents and ask for money to get home.  I have a few cigarettes left.  Smoke one. 
            I’m watching documentaries on TV about today.  My history lesson, my déjà vu from a more innocent time.  Getting drunk might prove advantageous at a time like this, but there is literally no more money.  Seriously.  It’s call my parents and go home with my tail between my legs or leave this life and hope that some published history will suffice as a point of success, my education not a total waste after all. 
            Oh but what a waste anyways!  What a waste of a perfectly healthy body, an attractive frame, a reconstituted weight, and an artful mind.  Social anxiety makes such a waste of life.  I could still go home and see a therapist and receive a prescription and feel like normal people are supposed to feel.  You must know how I feel about that, though: they’re all wimps.  Did they have prescriptions for depression in Ancient Egypt, Ancient Greece, Ancient Rome?  People got along perfectly well on their wits.  All these chains we have to wear, more and more as we advance into the future—more invisible laws, more anxieties, more population, more technology, and more division.
            One thing that will I will miss: you, reader!  Reader, you have been with me from the start.  I applaud your efforts of patience.  You’ve been such a good friend to me, to listen to this entire confession, to push forward after many instances where others might have thrown it down in disgust—you believed in me, and you don’t know how much that means to me.  Unfortunately, no one else believes in me, and this is why I have to do this.  We had a good time though, didn’t we?  I got to tell you about all the different times I cut myself and how my life has inexorably led me to this decision, how my life isn’t worth living because it’s filled with so much disappointment.  Why get older!  I’m always concerned about significant accomplishments for one’s age.  I have two significant pieces of writing to my name.  Perhaps I may be awarded a posthumous literary prize!  Other people count success by whether they can get a good job and find a good partner and have their own happy family—but we all know that’s never been within my grasp.  Therefore, my version of success: live fast, die young, leave a good-looking corpse.  That’s such a cliché I can’t believe I just used it during such an important part!  But it is true—I have followed that cliché to a T.  But what other versions of success have I grasped?  There was the applause for 28 ½ Cuts, an experience many people never have.  There was the love shown to me by my first English class freshman year after that first essay I submitted.  There are the two literary documents—the first, a heartbreaking novel about a doomed romance, the second, a memoir filled to the brink with pathos, a companion for any fellow sufferers of abject humiliation and self-inflicted hate.  I give you all a giant hug from my soon-to-be sterilized lower east side apartment in NYC.    
            Notes on imperfection: if my first novel were good enough, it would have been published and I could have led a slightly different life than the one I’m in.  But no.  All the gods told me I was a failure as a scribe.  I couldn’t put together a compelling enough query letter.  I couldn’t get people interested in me.  It’s all a matter of selling, right?  Selling yourself in interviews with prospective employers.  Selling yourself at bars with prospective lovers.  Selling yourself in anonymous letters with prospective agents.  I wonder why I even started writing in the first place.  Oh wait, now I remember—I couldn’t deal with so many “teammates” on an original cinematic production.  I didn’t like selling my vision to a group.  I had to keep my vision inside my own head and waste two years, a year on it, only to see it come to nothing.  Nobody wanted it when I presented it.  There weren’t the right characters.  There weren’t the right problems.  There weren’t the right solutions.  There weren’t the right concepts to stand behind.  Excuses, excuses, excuses.  There really wasn’t any talent in the first place.  It was always people who I knew in person, telling me I had great potential, people that would be proud to know me if I ever hit it big—you can never have too many friends in this business.  Entertainment.  All 7 billion people on this Earth just want to be entertained.  And all 7 billion just want to be entertainers, too.  But who among us is actually educated in entertainment?  What about educated in enlightenment?  Despite the overcrowded marketplace, there is a glut of entertainment which does nothing to educate the dim swathe of America which will believe anything a talk show host tells them.  I’ve worked my entire life to gain the respect of anyone in a position to judge my talent and here we are at the end, disillusioned, disappointed, crestfallen, dismissed. 
            There are successes and then there are greater successes and there are failures and then there are greater failures.  Right here today, we mix the greatest success and the greatest failure a life contains.  The greatest success—the completion.  The greatest failure—the abortion.  Do not misunderstand my use of the word abortion—I am pro-choice—I do not believe abortion is a sign of failure.  In a way, it’s a sign of too much success.  I suppose it only seems like a failure for all of those couples unable to get pregnant.  A wasted gift. 
            We are at the end.  Two cigarettes left.  Smoke another. 
            What else do I have left to say?  I’ve already sent my final messages to Samantha and Robby, my two closest friends in this life.  What about Jake?  Jake deserves a place in the end of this confession, because I admit with Jake, I was respected as an equal.  He was an actor and I was a filmmaker.  We were cut out of the same cloth.  We were equally talented.  He stayed in L.A. and I went home on the premise of guaranteed income.  He stayed on his own and fended for himself.  Jake, I admire you. That is my message to him.  I admire him, I wish I had never stopped being his roommate.  We made a pretty good team, didn’t we?  We had some pretty good parties.  We collaborated on some pretty good work.  We had pretty good taste as far as people in L.A. are concerned.  Jake, may this work become famous and may you rise to fame yourself for your role as a character in this story. 
            Who else is there to mention?  Tim, my Canadian compatriot from French club?  We never spent enough time together, Tim.  I should have asked you if I could have moved in.  More intelligent to live in Chicago than New York.  New York may be where all the action is, but there’s just as much going on in Chicago.  The attitude is the only thing that’s different.  People in New York live life to the fullest because they’re aware of how thin a thread they’re hanging by, whereas people in Chicago live life to the emptiest because they’re completely confident they’ll be able to live forever and accomplish all of their family dreams.  People in L.A., the majority of them, have their heads up their asses and don’t know hell from high water.  The division of classes is more prevalent there than anywhere else.  But Tim, I belonged in Chicago and if I hadn’t been so stupid, I might have been able to salvage something out of this heap I call my life.
            Adam?  Dare I mention Adam again?  Or Tamara?  To both of them I want to say: I regret my fear of boldness. 
            Or anybody else there was that I will never forget: Bill, Zack, wanting me for something that I’ll never be again.  Nancy, Susie, Rachel, Jenn, treating me like a human being worthy of respect, despite less healthy qualities.  Sean, Corey, teaching me how not to behave.  Jessica, for introducing me to the concept of girlfriend.  Rhiannon, for introducing me to the concept of discretion.  Nick, showing me there was more than one way to be cool.  Professor Diminico, Jackie, Professor Sheetz, making me feel like I wasn’t born on this earth to be a failure. 
            My parents, who don’t deserve to be treated like this.  They never had anything but my best interests in mind.  What a reward for them to receive for a job well done, giving their son the best education money could buy (within their means), giving him the freedom of an automobile, and giving him the autonomy to decide where he should make his home without discouragement. 
            Down to the last cigarette now.  Smoke it!  Sometimes questions like these are fun to answer: if you had to pick, what would be the last album you ever listened to before you die?  The last song?  I remember reading that Kurt Cobain listened to Automatic for the People and that Joey Ramone listened to All That You Can’t Leave Behind.  There is the legendary listening of Iggy’s The Idiot by Ian Curtis.  I’ve read vague things about a novel where a depressed girl plans to slit her wrists while listening to “Strawberry Fields Forever.”  And I remember a friend of a friend once saying he would listen to Kid A if he were in a plane that was going to crash—maybe he was thinking of the song, “How to Disappear Completely.”
            For my pick I choose Young Team.  I plan to take the offending action at the start of the final track, and have everything ended by the close of its seventeen minute running time.  I wonder if I should run a bath.  We still have some time, maybe a little over forty-five minutes until the writing will be stopped.  Oh, I’ll run a bath.  I’ll bring this laptop with me in there and place it on top of the toilet. 
            This is intense!  Every minute holds greater and greater significance.  The decision is finally mine to be made.  Nobody is going to stop me except myself.  I can still call it off and call my parents and tell them that I can’t make it in New York and need to move home—could they send some money?  I could even take that money and have more good times and do this again a week from now, lying to my parents, but that wouldn’t be polite.  I at least want to go out as a thoughtful person, never asking for more than was appropriate at the time. 
            Let me offer one final shout at God: This is it!  This is the brain you gave me, this is what it led to.  Utter despair.  Do you think I blame you for letting this world get too crowded, for letting opportunities come to the few that separate themselves by god-knows-what mechanism?  No, I would rather blame my parents for having me.  They didn’t deserve a child with my face, with my body, with my personality.  They deserved the starting quarterback of the high school varsity football team.  But it was you that made that decision, you that chose consciousness for me.  I would rather be a non-entity, unaware that anything lively ever occurred.  Knowledge and observation is a curse.  To see all those people, complaining about not getting laid in a month.  I went years until I had the boldness to bring back Trudie.  And I even owe all of that to heroin.  Why am I talking to God about my sex life?  That’s so inappropriate it’s not even funny.  Why are people so obsessed with their sexual activity?  Why did you have to make me so abnormal in this category?  Like that author whose name I won’t reveal said: sex is one of the four basic elements to the human life.  And I am deprived of a normal one.  Why?  I’m intelligent, I’m attractive—what the hell is wrong with me?  Oh, right, I’m just confused, that’s all.  Just put it out of your mind.  Life is not one big Greek drama, complete with a protagonist’s tragic flaw.  It’s just babies being born, growing up, doing the things adults do, growing old, and dying.  It’s just making a living, that’s all it comes down to.  Work.  Why can’t we all live in harmony, God?  Why can’t there be enough for everyone to go around?  Why do we always have to worry about how we’re ever going to be able to survive?  Is it just this country I’m living in, that has perverted the basic elements of human existence, or is it the entire world, and is this place actually better than others?  I don’t know who to believe about anything anymore.  The greatest writers in history.  Plato and Aristotle, Sophocles and Homer, Aeschylus and Aristophanes, Dante and Cervantes, Shakespeare and Milton, Lao Tzu, Flaubert and Balzac, Tolstoy and Kafka, Joyce and Proust, Nabokov and Mann, Hemingway and Fitzgerald.  They’re the only ones I can believe.  And who knows how many of them were motivated by commercial popularity.  Who knows how many of them were fixated on immortality.  I suppose I should believe in doctors who only have the health of their patients in mind.  Or lawyers, who only have the freedom of their clients in mind.  Or journalists, who only have the ideal of objective truth in mind.  None of them can help me.  I can’t join their ranks.  There’s enough of them as it is.  All that’s in store for me is low-wage slavery. What a fantastic way to go out.  Barely squeaking past the rent every month.  Only being able to afford the cheapest food, and then having to cook it myself, without anyone to share it with.  Or else, with someone to share it with, but with constant anxiety in regards to conversation, tedium, fear of double-crossing.  Better to be alone, to go out with a real bang, to show everyone I was here, I saw what it was like, and there wasn’t any place for me.  Except being a loser that returned home to his parents without any money.  And I will not give in to that failure.  I will not be condemned to that life.  Better to be an independent being, a victim of impossible circumstances, a fool perhaps, but a very talented one that went unappreciated.  A person whose legacy is defined by this very document, a work of filth, a work of half-lived life, a piece that will live in infamy as the definitive treatise on inadequacy, depression, anxiety, self-injury, deviance, abuse, popularity, failure, bitterness, hostility, paranoia, competitiveness, dilettantism, and love—real , imagined, denied. 
            Enough with the grandiose vocabulary—are you still into it?  I’m not.  It’s time to go.  I’m in the bathtub.  Here’s my utility blade.  You’ve been a wonderful audience.  Let’s see how long I can last.  Just like when you’re scared to do something, like jumping into a cold pool.  One, two, three, go!  Right one cut!  Right one cut!  Oh, the blood is spewing, it is spewing!  So much!  So fast!  It’s crazy.  Okay, left one now, left one now.  And, left one cut!  Left one cut!  Oh, that is crazy.  I should put my arms in the water for the soothing feeling but this is incredible, no one has ever written this way before, I swear to God no one has ever spent their last minutes writing as their life gives out.  Oh, it would be soothing to put them in the water.  There is pain, and blood is getting all over the keyboard, I hope the circuitry doesn’t become damaged and this document unrecoverable.  A buzz!  A buzz at the door.  I must buzz them in.  A visitor! 
            Well I just got out of the bathtub to grant them admittance to my building and I opened up my front door a crack so they can push it in.  Maybe they will rescue me and bring me to the hospital and I will survive yet, but oh well!  It’s up to them.  For now, I’m going to stop typing.  Put my arms back in the tub and relax.  This song is so soothing. 


Tuesday, September 1, 2015

The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao - Junot Diaz (2007)

This is the first book I have read by Junot Diaz.  Recently, it held the #1 spot on the list referenced in the post on The Corrections.  I'm going to nip this one in the bud: that list is a bunch of BS.  The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao is a decent read, and I recommend it, but it is not the greatest novel of the still-young 21st century.  To hold that title, the novel must be perfect, or as close to perfect as practicable.  Assessing perfection isn't an easy task either.

What are the perfect novels I have read?  The Sorrows of Young Werther, The Great Gatsby and Lolita come to mind, but even such esteemed classics as these have their detractors--they're "overrated" or "the work of a sick man."  Truthfully, if Diaz had not been at the top of that list, I would give it a better review.  For me at least, something kicks in when a new book becomes critically-acclaimed: I want to find a defect to prove that it's not as good as everyone says it is.  I don't feel this way about films, TV shows, theater, music or any other type of art.  Just books.  I've been waiting to "hate-read" The Goldfinch for almost two years now.  Why?  Because books take concentration and sometimes people skim them.  I feel that I always put enough "effort" into a book to write an accurate review--not always the case for those other mediums (though I have toyed with writing reviews of Interstellar and Ant-Man over the past couple of weeks and months, it can be hard to say something original about them).

The first problem with this book (for me) is the Spanish.  There is a lot of Spanish in this book and it is almost never translated.  True, if one does not know the language, one can still easily read the book and get something out of it, but I have to believe that with the quantity of Spanish (or "Spanglish," if you call it that), knowledge will enhance your experience.  One comment on race: Spanish is already on its way to becoming a second national language, so perhaps the popularity of this book is merely a reflection of that cultural shift in progress.  Obviously, this book will be enjoyed most by children of immigrants from the Dominican Republic, and to a lesser extent, Hispanic-Americans generally.  "Nerds" are another target demographic, and though I think Comic Con attendees will also enjoy it, the ethnic connection is ultimately more powerful.  People that know what Hispanic families are like (and don't need to keep a Spanish-to-English dictionary at hand) will enjoy it the most.

The plot?  Fuku.  Fuku is a curse that has bedeviled Oscar's family for the past hundred years or more.  Oscar himself is not named Wao, but Cabral de Leon (he is called Oscar Wao by his friends in reference to a Doctor Who character, I think).  This account of "Oscar's life" is much more an account of his family's history.  Anybody going into this blind deserves to know that.  (As usual, I will avoid spoilers--though it is quite easy to go almost all the way to the end of this book without spoiling anything.)

Because of this aspect, the book bears an unsettling resemblance to One Hundred Years of Solitude (the rare review without an excerpt!).  Checking that review, I would say the historical parts are easier to follow in this one, but equally maddening.  Obviously, this story is about Oscar.  But really it amounts to about three or four decent-sized chapters or short stories about Oscar and the different periods in his life (teen-hood, college-dom, young adult-hood).  The book has 335 pages and it seems like less than half of them are about Oscar.

Oscar, the character, and the tales of his existence, are all very well done.  Though in the same way the book's structure and modus operandi seem plucked from Marquez, Oscar seems like Ignatius J. Reilly of A Confederacy of Dunces updated for the 1980's.  This is a book that wears its influences on its sleeve--in other ways more obvious than this.  I particularly enjoy the Watchmen references.

Along the way, the story is narrated by Oscar's former college roommate, and ex-boyfriend of his sister Lola.  Lola herself is one of the major characters, and a significant portion of the text is devoted to her, as well as their mother Beli.

Basically, the story starts with Oscar in the early 1980's.  On display right away is the Spanglish and the brash narrative tone--which is a bit unnerving.  A second comment on race, if I may--urban patois is used here not in the typical stereotypical way, but it seems a bit disingenuous.  I'm glad that it is not reserved for the token ghetto character that ambitious society-spanning comedie-humaines must include, but it seems like it's trying too hard to be cool or appeal to a younger generation of readers.  I prefer to excerpt passages that highlight certain great things about a book, but in this instance it's just going to sound really racist if I don't back it up.  On a related note the n-word is used way too breezily.  Okay, maybe this is realistic, but it

"...What's wrong with you? his mother asked.  She was getting ready to go to her second job, the eczema on her hands looking like a messy meal that had set.  When Oscar whimpered, Girls, Moms de Leon nearly exploded.  Tu ta llorando por una muchacha?  She hauled Oscar to his feet by his ear.
Mami, stop it, his sister cried, stop it!
She threw him to the floor.  Dale un galletazo, she panted, then see if the little puta respects you.
If he'd been a different nigger he might have considered the galletazo.  It wasn't just that he didn't have no kind of father to show him the masculine ropes, he simply lacked all aggressive and martial tendencies.  (Unlike his sister, who fought boys and packs or morena girls who hated her thin nose and straightish hair.) Oscar had like a zero combat rating; even Olga and her toothpick arms could have stomped him silly.  Aggression and intimidation was out of the question.  So he thought it over.  Didn't take him long to decide.  After all, Maritza was beautiful and Olga was not; Olga sometimes smelled like pee and Maritza did not.  Maritza was allowed over their house and Olga was not.  (A puertorican over here? his mother scoffed.  Jamas!) His logic as close to the yes/no math of insects as a nigger could get.  He broke up with Olga the following day on the playground, Maritza at his side, and how Olga had cried!  Shaking like a rag in her hand-me-downs and in the shoes that were four sizes too big!  Snots pouring out her nose and everything!" (14-15)

In a way, I can see how people find this tone to be charming, and sometimes it is very funny and more entertaining than not.  It keeps the action moving along.  It is "energetic."  But I need to look up what galletazo means to get it--sort of.  Like, I get it eventually, but this story is really made for a person that has a more innate understanding of the DR experience.  And I get that Dominicans are dark-skinned and the n-word is not confined to the African-American experience, but it feels unnecessary to me--this is probably a cultural thing though.

There are footnotes, and these usually provide background on the political history of the Dominican Republic.  In my humble opinion, these are some of the best parts of the book.  I'm not sure if they are made-up or actually true--most likely a "magical realism" blend--but they're great stories, told well (even with the sometimes unsettling narrative tone).  I had never heard of Trujillo previous to reading this, so in that sense, the book expanded my worldview.  Moreover, perhaps because I feel this way about the historical elements, my favorite chapter was the 5th, which concerns Oscar's heretofor-mysterious grandfather, Abelard.  For me, this was one of the finest moments of the novel.  On a personal note, I may have felt this way because I experienced a reversal in my employment situation around the time I read it, and certain details felt prescient:

"What followed is still, to this day, hotly disputed.  There are those who swear on their mothers that when Abelard finally opened the trunk he poked his head inside and said, Nope, no bodies here.  This is what Abelard himself claimed to have said.  A poor joke, certainly, but not 'slander' or 'gross calumny.'  In Abelard's version of the events, his friends laughed, the bureau was secured, and off he drove to his Santiago apartment, where Lydia was waiting for him (forty-two and still lovely and still worried shitless about his daughter).  The court officers and their hidden 'witnesses,' however, argued that something quite different happened, that when Dr. Abelard Luis Cabral opened the trunk of the Packard, he said, Nope, no bodies here, Trujillo must have cleaned them out for me.
End quote." (234-235)

There are also chapters featuring Lola and Beli, and one that is apparently written by Lola.  As one wades through the text, it can be jarring, and even though it comes together eventually, I'm not sure of the purpose (at least of the chapter that Lola narrates).

The ending of the book is both triumphant and maddening.  The reader will likely be stirred and uplifted by Oscar's redemption, but personally I don't understand why he needs to take his trip.  There is the nice motif of the sugar cane fields, but Oscar's actions also appear senseless to me.

Far be it from me to criticize a book that is not a series of sexual escapades, but rather a series of unrequited love-scapades, and featuring a main character named Oscar in 2007, but I do not buy the ending.  Oscar has transformed into a different person by the end of the novel, and one that appears readily capable of overcoming his "pathetic" nature.  So I do not buy that he needs to take the trip.  And I do not buy that he would act so recklessly in the face of such visceral threats.  Regardless, the setting is the occasion for my favorite line in the book, even though I've never been an RPG gamer or D&D wizard:

"What the fuck, Oscar, I said on the phone.  I leave you alone for a couple days and you almost get yourself slabbed?
His voice sounded muffled.  I kissed a girl, Yunior.  I finally kissed a girl.
But, O, you almost got yourself killed.
It wasn't completely egregious, he said.  I still had a few hit points left." (305)

In sum, this is an original book whose influences are worn on its sleeve.  It does feel "energetically" written and I can see why people like it.  It's not the best book of the 21st century though.  It's not aiming for that.  I liked it, even a lot at times, but I think it will be best appreciated by those with a better working knowledge of Spanish.  And big fat dorks that live in the ghetto.