Thursday, December 22, 2011

Weight Loss

Okay, so I've lost a bit of weight lately... but it's not what you think. I am now short an organ (and apparently suffering from low potassium), and since people have been wondering if I'm alive (yes, but for how long remains to be seen... hehehe), I figured I'd share some photos from my recent stay at a wonderful hotel, highlighted by images of early Christmas presents.

Anyhoo... after a pretty bad run of pain for two days, I decided to check in to a hospital. Needless to say, I was a bit surprised when I was told I needed to go into surgery. Fun, fun.

My new television


Apparently, In addition to surgery, I was told I was suffering from a potassium deficiency, and so the lovely nurses (actually, two of them sucked... but the rest were cool) pumped me full of three bags of the stuff (the little IV bag above is potassium). In case anyone doesn't know, potassium hurts like Hell when given intravenously.

My new canteen


Got some cool scars out of the deal... one of them is from the tube this little device left in my abdomen. It's called a Jackson-Pratt drain. They wouldn't let me keep it.

My new bluetooth


Three IV entry points on my poor arms. One on the right (for the antibiotics) and two on the left (including one in my biceps).

My publicist/producer giving birth to Starbuck


The hospital released me into the care of my friends, Pat and Tara, who took me home, at which point we discovered my house was a disaster (thanks to an irresponsible neighbor who left my dog locked in my friggin' bedroom). Between that and the fact that I was on drugs, Tara refused to let me stay there, and so took me to her house and nursed me for three days. On the ride there, Starbuck was somehow born again.

Anyway, I'm sure I bored everyone who read this. I'm gonna pop a vicodin and get some sleep.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Irreviews, 2011: Issue VI

All right, so I'm falling behind a bit in my Irreviews... I've decided to go to ten movies per entry until I catch up.

Buried (2010)
Director: Rodrigo Cortés
Writer(s): Chris Sparling
Starring: Ryan Reynolds, José Luis García Pérez, Robert Paterson
-----
My first question as I finished up Buried was: how can a movie take place in such a limited location and be so good? My second question was: how can such a movie cost $3 million to make? Regardless of where the money actually went, Buried (which takes place entirely inside of a coffin) is an awesome example of filmmakers challenging themselves with artificial limitations. There are probably a few too many cliches in the film, but given how difficult it must've been to come up with a story like this, it gets a pass.
Verdict: SEE it.

Centurion (2010)
Director: Neil Marshall
Writer(s): Neil Marshall
Starring: Michael Fassbender, Dominic West, Olga Kurylenko
-----
An interesting premise directed by the person responsible for two horror films I admire (The Descent and Dog Soldiers), I watched this based solely on the fact that Neil Marshall's name is on the poster. Basically, a bunch of Roman soldiers in 2nd century England gets screwed fighting the Picts (the story is very loosely based on the disappearance of the Roman Ninth Legion) and a handful of elite Roman soldiers survive to wreak havoc and find their ways back home. The problem with the film is that there's too much "contemporary sensibility" to the story, including some bad-ass ninja-type fighting, a pretty lame love story shoved in the middle, and, well... yeah, you get the idea. Not overly bad, but without a clear identity.
Verdict: Eh...

Cronos (1993)
Director: Guillermo del Toro
Writer(s): Guillermo del Toro
Starring: Federico Luppi, Ron Perlman, Claudio Brook
-----
We're all sick of teeny-bop, romantic vampires (thanks, Anne Rice... you single-handedly saved, then killed, the genre). But, way back in 1993, disturbo-extraordinaire Guillermo del Toro gave us a quirky, Spanish-language tale about a grandfather who inadvertently becomes a bloodsucker (thanks to a centuries-old magic insect stuck in a magic pocket watch... yes, ridiculous, but it works) and is caught between solving the mystery of what happened to him and taking care of his granddaughter (who would make a good meal). This is quite a romantic film, but it's rather unique place in celluloid vampire lore leaves you with a healthy gratitude that someone out there can still spin a vampire story that doesn't involve albino teenager angst. Then again, this was 18 years ago.
Verdict: SEE it.

Election (Hak se wui) (2005)
Director: Johnnie To
Writer(s): Nai-Hoi Yau, Tin-Shing Yip
Starring: Louis Koo, Suet Lam, Tony Leung Ka Fai
-----
There's really not much to say here. Chinese Triad/revenge movies are pretty much all the same these days. At least the ones US distributors seem to want to import. There are a few interesting characters (hit-men that are ordered to change sides on a whim, sadistic-but-not-murderous mob bosses) and the action scenes are well-done, but everything else about the film is pretty flat (I'll reserve from stating "boring," since the pacing is generally quick).
Verdict: SKIP it.

The Fighter (2010)
Director: David O. Russell
Writer(s): Scott Silver (screenplay), Paul Tamasy, Eric Johnson, Keith Dorrington (story)
Starring: Mark Wahlberg, Christian Bale, Amy Adams
-----
Mark Wahlberg's well-publicized journey to get this film produced often made Wahlberg look like a foolish ass, or a misguided ass, or just straight-up crazy. But, you know what? He just made all the press about it look foolish, misguided, and under-informed. By now you all know that Christian Bale and Melissa Leo won Best Supporting Actor and Actress, respectively (with Amy Adams receiving a nomination, as well), but even those accolades fall short of revealing how good this movie really is. The true story of one brother recovering from crack-cocaine addiction and another brother climbing the ranks in the boxing world is a breath of fresh air in a genre overrun by Disney-fied underdog sports movies.
Verdict: SEE it.

Intacto (2001)
Director: Juan Carlos Fresnadillo
Writer(s): Juan Carlos Fresnadillo, Andrés M. Koppel
Starring: Max von Sydow, Eusebio Poncela, Leonardo Sbaraglia
-----
I first saw a trailer for this film in 2002, when it was imported to the US on a limited art-house basis. But, I never got a chance to see it. Still, the image of blind-folded participants in some sick, twisted, luck-based game running full sprint through a forest never left me. And, so, finally, I tracked the film down and gave it a go. Unlike a previous film I waited years to see (Passion in the Desert), this one was worth the wait. Centered around a group of people who've discovered they can buy, sell, and otherwise transfer luck to each other and have created an underground sport based on that said ability (which culminates in the ultimate Russian roulette match... literally), it's an intriguing story to watch unfold.
Verdict: SEE it.

Red Road (2006)
Director: Andrea Arnold
Writer(s): Andrea Arnold, Lone Scherfig (characters), Anders Thomas Jensen (characters)
Starring: Kate Dickie, Tony Curran, Martin Compston
-----
I'm not a huge fan of Dogme films, a trend of independent filmmaking started by everyone's favorite audience torturer, Lars von Trier. That stated, I did like quite a few of them... I'm just saying that the self-imposed rules of provocative, raw filmmaking don't really add anything to the stories they're often attached to, save for usually making them depressing. Red Road, a Scottish film that was the result of a revival of the Dogme canon, is definitely depressing. For the UK viewer, it's depressing because it involves a woman hunting down the man who accidentally killed her husband and daughter. For the US viewer, it's depressing because it depicts "Big Brother" in such a terrifying manner. Still... I did kinda like it.
Verdict: Eh...

Shutter Island (2010)
Director: Martin Scorcese
Writer(s): Laeta Kalogridis, Dennis Lehane (novel)
Starring: Leonardo DiCaprio, Emily Mortimer, Mark Ruffalo
-----
I love Martin Scorsese. I think Leonardo DiCaprio is a fantastic actor. I think Mark Ruffalo and Ben Kingsley rock. I hate contrived films that want to you be in awe of how clever they are. Add those all together, and I'm not a big fan of this movie. This type of storytelling might have taken Hollywood by storm with The Usual Suspects (a film I love) and The Sixth Sense (a film I don't), but it's run its course. At least it's run its course the way Hollywood keeps trying to do it. Sorry, Marty, but you need to stick to your established genres... you know, the ones you're the indisputable master at. I will acknowledge, however, that Shutter Island was beautifully made.
Verdict: SKIP it.

Trick 'r Treat (2007)
Director: Michael Dougherty
Writer(s): Michael Dougherty
Starring: Anna Paquin, Brian Cox, Dylan Baker
-----
Not since the Creepshow films have we had such a fun collection of horror vignettes. Sure, there was that Tales from the Darkside movie, but who remembers that? Anyway, Trick 'r Treat takes the vignette one step further and intertwines each of its tales to form an almost-cohesive whole. It doesn't quite work as desired, but the backs and forths do provide for an additional laugh or two. Perfect? No. But definitely fun.
Verdict: SEE it.

Videodrome (1983)
Director: David Cronenberg
Writer(s): David Cronenberg
Starring: James Woods, Deborah Harry, Sonja Smits
-----
True story: James Woods has long creeped me out, and I've never really been able to pinpoint why. Another true story: I've long been terrified by the image of a television coming to life and scaring/seducing the man watching it. Last true story: thanks to Netflix and a recent article I read about Cronenberg, I queued and watched Videodrome. I now know why the first two stories are true. Anyway, enough about me... despite dated (and ridiculous) special effects, the moral of Videodrome concerning the dangers of a media-based culture is profound, has proven to be true, and watching this film in retrospect makes it that much more terrifying (in a philosophical sort of way... it's not really that scary... unless you're 5).
Verdict: SEE it.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Hair!

Oh, snap! It's a video blog (which is what I'm guessing a "vlog" is). Anyhoo... first one ever (for me, that is).

Friday, October 28, 2011

Brilliance


Got news for you. You don't know shit, and neither do I. Everything you've learned is worth forgetting. Everything you've forgotten is worth relearning, as long as it feels new. Friends close and enemies closer doesn't always work; sometimes your enemies stab you too quickly. The best ones don't even wait for you to turn your back, and I'm talking about your friends. Rejoice, shake hands, give a few hugs, cop a feel or two and hope she doesn't call the cops. The twinkle in your eyes is a smile, it's just hard to see in the dark. Then again, everything's hard to see in the dark. So laugh. Make yourself heard when all others are blind. They'll blink first, trust me. You really think those you left by the wayside are better off than you? Maybe they are, but why do you care? They're gone for a reason. Good riddance. Rid yourself of the negativity in your life. If those negativities happen to be people, then say your goodbyes. The world's a big place. Travel it. Never settle. There's always something bigger and better, and all you can take with you are your experiences. Never believe someone who says all they want is to be happy, because they don't know the meaning of the word. All they can see is a wall, a fence, and wonder naively what's on the other side. You ever seen someone who's climbed a fence? They're just as disappointed as they were yesterday. Tomorrow is all that's important, because that's what you'll accomplish. Sure, what you've done has cleared the way, but clarity is only important when there's nothing left to see. And there's always something new, something borrowed, something blue. Like the skies, plural, and the oceans. They're the limits, and they're limitless. Why limit yourself? Be the world around you. Eat, drink, and sleep the world around you. It's not going anywhere, no matter how bad some idiot claims things to be. Life can only be as great as it is shit, otherwise no one would know the difference. Don't worry about what time it is, just know that time is passing. Fuck a watch. All it does is leave an uneven tan line. The Sun loves all of you. Let yourself shine.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Irreviews, 2011: Issue V

13 Assassins (Jūsannin no Shikaku) (2010)
Director: Takashi Miike
Writer(s): Daisuke Tengan, Kaneo Ikegami (original film),
tarring:
-----
Yet another Japanese film that's based on both a true story and Kurosawa's great The Seven Samurai. This one also happens to be remake. The action's crazy, fun to watch, but a tad over the top. Run of the mill honor/action/intrigue samurai film from a country that's been responsible for far better honor/action/intrigue samurai films (including the original Thirteen Assassins). Production value is outstanding, however, which is to be expected from Takashi Miike (as is the gore). Not much to say about it beyond that.
Verdict: Unless you're a hard-core jidaigeki fan, SKIP it. Watch the original instead.

Ink (2009)
Director: Jamin Winans
Writer(s): Jamin Winans
Starring: Christopher Soren Kelly, Quinn Hunchar, Jessica Duffy
-----
I've never heard of Ink, but its poster intrigued me and I wound up staring at it long enough that I decided to watch the movie. I am very glad I did. Part fantasy, part family drama, this film exhibits an imagination as good as anyone's in mainstream Hollywood. No, the acting isn't great (and hurts it in quite a few places), but the story, action, and imagery are phenomenal. Even more so considering the film's production budget was $250k.
Verdict: SEE it.

Night Watch (2004)
Director: Timur Bekmambitov
Writer(s): Timur Bekmambitov, Laeta Kalogridis, Sergey Lukyanenko (novel)
Starring: Konstantin Khabenskiy, Vladimir Menshov, Mariya Poroshina
-----
I've been trying to see this film for years, ever since I read about how it set a new standard in the Russian film industry. And, boy, the wait was... sort of a disappointment. An interesting take on vampire lore with several unique/uncommon details concerning our favorite bloodsuckers, the movie starts off interesting enough, but quickly devolves into an action spectacle that makes little sense. Yes, the portions of the story that dealt strictly with the vampires are generally to the point, but a strange subplot (ultimately revealed to be the plot, and then not...) involving the apocalypse throws everything for a loop. The movie looks great, but I have no real interest in watching its sequel any time soon.
Verdict: Eh...

Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time (2010)
Director: Mike Newell
Writer(s): Boaz Yakin, Doug Miro, Carlo Bernard, Jordan Mechner (screen story and video game)
Starring: Jake Gyllenhaal, Gemma Arterton, Ben Kingsley
-----
I can honestly claim that Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time is the best movie based on a video game ever. Of course, with a list of films such as Super Mario Bros., Streetfighter, Mortal Kombat, Wing Commander, and Resident Evil, that's not exactly a revealing accomplishment. That stated, it's a fun movie and a potential franchise-launcher. Jake Gyllenhaal wasn't as bad in the role as most feared he would be and, in fact, he pulled it off quite nicely.
Verdict: It's fun. SEE it.

Wilderness (2006)
Director: Michael J. Bassett.
Writer(s): Dario Poloni
Starring: Sean Pertwee, Alex Reid, Toby Kebbell
-----
A low-budget teen thriller set on a small island off the coast of England. This had all the markings of yet another "kids run around getting killed off by maniacal killer one at a time" movie, and that's exactly what it is. Except it knows that's what it is and plays it more intelligently than Hollywood's thrill-mill genre. A good cast with good characters and a (mostly) believable premise make this a good one for fans of the genre. I'll be honest... I only watched it because Alex Reid is in it.
Verdict: I liked it, but I'll refrain from recommending it. SKIP it.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

What a Day...

Yeah, I'm in an inordinately massive good mood. Why? Well, I'll tell ya. I had a seriously eventful day... yarp... all of this happened in a single day (give or take a few hours)...


A script I wrote got agency representation...


Two different film investment groups expressed interest in purchasing said script and are on the verge of a bidding war...


And I have a pitch meeting at a production company in which I'm supposed to bring a ton of my work... apparently, they already like me...


A friend of mine hooked me up with filmmakers who have connections with some little known films such as Bull Durham and Tin Cup... and they dig me...


A couple of aspiring writers somehow heard of the Aussie Breakfast technique and have approached me to help develop them...


I got a gig working on writing hip-hop music videos... Really? Those things have writers???


Beyond that, I'm still riding a high because one of the writers I'm developing got a short story published in a New Zealand magazine...


And my dog loves me. Hooray for October 4, 2011.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

A Victory for an Aussie Breakfast

Since this past April, I've been developing a writing exercise to help aspiring writers. Anyone who knows me knows that I don't believe in the bullshit of "writer's block," and part of the intent of this exercise is to help prove that writer's block does not exist. Basically, I wanted to shove that proof down the throats of creative writers who keep trying to hide behind that arbitrary, self-inflicted, totally craptacular notion.

And, what can I say, it's worked. I haven't formally asked any of the participants in the exercise yet, but I'm certain they will now agree that there's no such thing as writer's block, if they didn't already.

Anyway, the exercise is called "Aussie breakfast writing," so-named because the first piece written using the method was titled An Australian Breakfast (believe me, I wanted to call the method something else, but the name sorta stuck...). The exercise itself is nothing special, but I'm not going to discuss how it works as of yet, since I'm still testing it out with writers and am in the process of analyzing and comparing the works they've created.

Which brings us to the question: Why the Hell am I mentioning it?

Well, I admit, I was going to wait before I wrote about Aussie breakfasts, but something pretty friggin' awesome happened this past week...

One of them got published.

Yes, that's right... an Aussie breakfast piece, "Fakie," written by a university student in New Zealand, got picked up in a magazine that sent out a call for creative writing for one of their September issues. What's amazing is that the writer (check out her blog here) has no formal creative writing training, and beat out several entries written by people who do.

Now's probably the time I should mention that another goal of Aussie breakfast writing is to obviate creative writing courses... cough, cough.

I guess we're on our way.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Irreviews, 2011: Issue IV

The Descent: Part 2 (2009)
Director: Jon Harris
Writer(s): James McCarthy, J Blakeson, James Watkins, Neil Marshall (characters)
Starring: Shauna Macdonald, Krysten Cummings, Gavan O'Herlihy, Anna Skellern
-----
It's a generalization that movie sequels aren't as good as the films they follow (and, likely, not entirely true). It's another generalization that horror movie sequels are despicably bad (and, likely, true). That stated, The Descent: Part 2 isn't a bad movie... it's just not good, either. A horribly contrived setup and throwaway characters (something the first movie avoided) just make this another run-of-the-mill move from the horror-movie-mill of the motion picture industry. Not to mention an ending that, well... didn't make a whole lot of sense.
Verdict: Uber-fans of the original, sure. Otherwise, SKIP it.

The Expendables (2010)
Director: Sylvester Stallone
Writer(s): Dave Callaham, Sylverster Stallone
Starring: Sylvester Stallone, Jason Statham, Jet Li, Dolph Lundgren, Eric Roberts, Randy Couture, Steve Austin, Giselle Itié, Terry Crews, Mickey Rourke
-----
A throwback to the action movies of the 80s in every way, shape, and form. Plot? 80s. Hell, Reagan could've written it. Characters? 80s. Total "badass" archetypes. Actors? Heh... mostly 80s action stars who are well over the hill. But, it's this last point that makes the movie kinda fun. Stallone knew what he was doing when he put this spectacularly spectacle-filled garbage together. It did its job.
Verdict: Did I enjoy it? Yes. Can I recommend it? No. SKIP it.

Horror Express (1972)
Director: Gene Martin
Writer(s): Arnaud d'Usseau, Julian Zimet
Starring: Christopher Lee, Peter Cushing, Alberto de Mendoza, Silvia Tortosa
-----
What's this? Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee on the same side??? That alone makes this B-movie nod to both Hammer films and The Thing From Another World worth seeing. Yes, the plot is ridiculous, the monster/alien/zombie/whatever-the-fuck is ridiculous. But, damn... Cushing and Lee! On the same side! And Telly Savalas as a Russian sort-of-villain, to boot. This is guilty pleasure at its best.
Verdict: Yeah, well, why not? SEE it.

Iron Man 2 (2010)
Director: Jon Favreau
Writer(s): Justin Theroux, Stan Lee (comic), Jack Kirby (comic)
Starring: Robert Downey, Jr., Gwyneth Paltrow, Don Cheadle, Scarlett Johansson, Sam Rockwell, Mickey Rourke
-----
It's a generalization that movie sequels aren't as good as the films they follow (that sounds familiar...). And while Iron Man 2 is not as good as Iron Man, it's an awesome movie. The recast of Rhodes from Terrence Howard to Don Cheadle had me worried, at first, but it's now clear to me that Cheadle's a good fit. Sure, he lacks Howard's somberness, but he more than makes up for it with Cheadle-ness (that's a good thing). And, anyway, who cares? This film's all about the suit and the man who plays it. Robert Downey, Jr. keeps the fun going, and even Scarlett Johansson isn't as annoying as she can often be (I state this for no apparent reason, since I typically enjoy her films).
Verdict: SEE it.

Shiver (2007)
Director: Isidro Ortiz
Writer(s): Hernán Migoya, José Gamo, Alejandro Hernández, Isidro Ortiz
Starring: Junio Valverde, Francesc Orella, Mar Sodupe, Jimmy Barnatán, Blanca Suárez
-----
Shiver marks yet another Spanish horror film that is... well... good. I can't be sure if it's because the Spanish are just good at horror at the moment, or because of the "foreign film effect" in which only good foreign films are imported to the US (probably the latter), but Shiver is a good movie. It plays upon vampire and werewolf themes without (egad) being about either of those two creatures. That's probably giving too much away, so I'll shut up now.
Verdict: SEE it.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Irreviews, 2011: Issue III

Animal Farm (1954)
Director: Joy Batchelor, John Halas
Writer(s): George Orwell (novel), Lothar Wolff, Borden Mace, Philip Stapp
Starring: Gordon Heath, Maurice Denham
-----
George Orwell comes to the screen in this animated classic. Though slightly more pro-Western than the source material (keeping its anti-communist bent, but muting its anti-capitalist bent a tad), it's nevertheless an excellent cinematic political satire. I've never been so pissed off at the mistreatment of a horse in my life. Death to Pigs!
Verdict: SEE it.

The Chronicles of Narnia: Voyage of the Dawn Treader (2010)
Director: Michael Apted
Writer(s): Christopher Markus, Stephen McFeely, Michael Petroni, C.S. Lewis (novel)
Starring: Georgie Henley, Skandar Keynes, Ben Barnes, Will Poulter
-----
The first entry in The Chronicles of Narnia from new distributor Fox, the story continues to be told competently, even if it's losing some of its charm. I'll admit, I had high hopes for this one, since Voyage of the Dawn Treader is (along with The Horse and His Boy) one of my two favorite books in the series. I wasn't disappointed, but neither was I overly impressed.
Verdict: Er... SEE it, if you're already a fan.

The Social Network (2010)
Director: David Fincher
Writer(s): Aaron Sorkin, Ben Mezrich (book)
Starring: Jesse Eisenberg, Andrew Garfield
-----
Facebook rules the world. Pretty much. And this movie purports to be the (highly fictionalized) true story of how Facebook began to the rule the world. Say what you will, it's a damned good movie. Jesse Eisenberg is fantastic as the screen Mark Zuckerberg, and even Justin Timberlake (who's yet to show he can act) didn't suck things up. David Fincher continues to show he's one of the best directors out there, capable of handling any genre with relative ease.
Verdict: SEE it.

The Tree of Life (2011)
Director: Terrence Malick
Writer(s): Terrence Malick
Starring: Brad Pitt, Sean Penn, Jessica Chastain
-----
Terrence Malick makes good movies. Terrence Malick makes beautiful movies. The Tree of Life is a beautiful movie. But, boy, is it boring. While the slices of "real life" are convincing and the plot is easily believable, the movie's "little train that could" determination to be considered an art film derails it... big time. Clearly, Terrence Malick wanted to share his personal beliefs and perspectives with the rest of the world, yelling "look how perceptive and omniscient I am" at the audience. If you want good Malick, skip this one and rent The Thin Red Line instead.
Verdict: SKIP it. Full of pretense, satisfying only to the pretentious.

Zack and Miri Make a Porno (2008)
Director: Kevin Smith
Writer(s): Kevin Smith
Starring: Elizabeth Banks, Seth Rogen, Craig Robinson
-----
Yes, the title caused a hubbub. But the movie is cute, romantic, and Kevin Smith's best directorial effort since Dogma (even though I liked Clerks II, but more for nostalgic reasons). Seth Rogen isn't annoying, and Elizabeth Banks sells her role with ease. Who knew porn could inspire true love to reveal itself?
Verdict: SEE it.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Irreviews: British Television, Issue II

More British shows for you to check out (or not):

Misfits (2009-present, 2 series, 17 episodes)
Starring: Robert Sheehan, Iwan Rheon, Lauren Socha, Antonia Thomas, Nathan Stewart-Jarrett
-----
For those of you who still have a bad taste in their mouths from Heroes, look no further. Misfits takes the accidental superheroes theme and runs full-sprint with it. Deep, layered characterizations combined with top-notch writing, and you'll never bother with "save the cheerleader" again. As implied, the series isn't entirely original, but its execution earns its kudos (although the series 2 finale left something to be desired...).
Verdict: SEE it. Quite simply one of the best sci-fi series ever.

Smack the Pony (1999-2003, 3 series, 21 episodes + 2 specials)
Starring: Fiona Allen, Doon Mackichan, Sally Phillips, Sarah Alexander, Darren Boyd
-----
Not only decidedly British, but decidedly British woman, Smack the Pony is a skit show that takes some time to find its footing (almost losing this viewer in the process), but ultimately turns into a solid source of laughs.
Verdict: SEE it, but you might want to skim the first series.

That Mitchell and Webb Look (2006-present, 4 series, 24 episodes)
Starring: David Mitchell, Robert Webb, James Bachman
-----
Ridiculous, inane, irreverent... and all from the guys who bring you Peep Show. Another skit show from the land of awesome skit shows, That Mitchell and Webb Look is top-notch, top-tier, and a laugh riot.
Verdict: SEE it.

Ultimate Force (2002-2006, 4 series, 21 episodes)
Starring: Ross Kemp, Jamie Draven, Miles Anderson, Alex Reid, Danny Sapani, Jamie Bamber, Tony Curran
-----
This show is, no doubt, one of the inspirations for the American series, The Unit. However, where The Unit never really found balance between action and character, the first two series' of Ultimate Force hit the nail on the proverbial head. Quite possibly the best special operations-oriented television show in history... for its first two series, that is. A ghastly decision by the showrunners to reformat into a more action-oriented spectacle resulted in one of the worst special operations-oriented television shows in history. It's no wonder a huge portion of the cast quit after series two (seriously... four of the six regulars took off).
Verdict: The first two series... SEE it. SKIP the rest.

Ultraviolet (1998, 1 series, 6 episodes)
Starring: Jack Davenport, Susannah Harker, Idris Elba, Philip Quast, Colette Brown, Fiona Dolman
-----
An interesting take on vampires, it's one part police procedural and one part conspiracy theory. It's clear there was an attempt to be scientific/forensic concerning vampirism, but there are far too many "magical explanations" that keep the wall of disbelief up. Still, it's different enough to be worth a look, and the appearance of Stephen Moyer as a vampire (nearly a decade before True Blood) will probably garner interest among True Blood fans.
Verdict: If you need a vampire fix, SEE it.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Eulogies


For Omer, for Dave, for Glen, and for countless others I don't have the ability to properly write for.

De oppresso liber, essayons, and this we'll defend...

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

12,300


And there you are, alone in the dark, alone with your thoughts. A glass of Merlot recalls what it once was to be grapes on a vine, underfoot, barefoot, the sand between your toes and saltwater for sex. The Sun rises anywhere, but it looks different everywhere. Have you seen the Southern Cross? Experience the world upside down and realize Dorothy had it right all along. All roads lead to Rome, all roads to home. Welcome back and au revoir.

"Are you happy?"

Answer a question with a question. Revel in your rhetoric, but know it won't change a thing.

"Are you?"

Seals on the beach stare for moment, curious. It doesn't take long for them to become disinterested. They've learned the meaning of it all... we just are. It's reason enough for them to live, why isn't it enough for you? Nothing's behind the curtain because there is no curtain. It's all there to see, all there to touch, and when you see her, when you touch her, well... it's all you'll need to know. Good enough is good enough, because the pursuit of perfection takes you where everything else will take you, and you already know you can't take it with you.

Speak of disgusting things in French, it'll sound better. Play the piano, even if you can't play the piano. Touch a wild horse. Ride a horse. Watch a sport you don't know the rules to, and enjoy it. Fly across an ocean to look at a beautiful woman. See the stars under a different sky. Drive to Belize. Scream at the top of your lungs until it becomes a song. And dance. Never forget to dance. Never stop moving. Be confident; never comfortable. Sharks rule the oceans because they don't know what it is to be complacent. The kings of the jungle don't even live in jungles. It's easy to rule when your empire is far away. A far off place. We are all monarchs of our memories.

Laugh more often. The joke's on you. Cry more often. Woe is me. Ignore what everyone else wears, what everyone else drives. The road doesn't care. The landscape doesn't mind. Just go... While you're sitting down, thankful that you have a job, someone else has learned to live. No longer the race, but the rat. Nature provides. It's all so fucking hysterical, this irony. This belief that intelligence is responsible for intelligence. What, then, is learning? You are you who want to be... it's not anyone else's fault that your aspirations are so banal.

"What is it you do?"

"Nothing."

Smile as they try to figure out whether to be jealous or to feel sorry for you.

"What do you want to do?"

"Don't really know. Don't really care."

In their confusion, they'll think you're confused.

Eat, sleep, fuck. Have another glass of wine. Play in the rain. Learn to cook. Want to know everything, knowing you're too small. Take everything at face value as long as it's not two-faced. Realize that the moral are only so because they fuck around. Know your enemies. They're probably friends. As long as you're willing to lie on any level, white or black, you're not to be trusted. Fiction only entertains. The truth will, as it's said, set you free. Break your God damned chains and accept that God is worthy of being damned. Who you listen to is up to you. Avoid indoctrination. Find North on your own, be it by star or by gravity. Fall from a plane, at least once. Breathe underwater. Humanity is unnatural. Live it.

What can I do and what have I done are the two most important things to ask. We are weak, we are frail. Imagination and memory are what sets us apart. A true church relishes instinct, it doesn't suppress it. You want to walk on water? Then spread the legs of the one you love and wake them up with an orgasm. You want a kingdom? Love her. You want power? Tell her you love her. You want glory? Show her. The rules of life change, and rules from yesterday no longer apply. Everything moves in one direction. It's called time. Accept it, and join in the progression. Grow old gracefully. Someone will remember you for the way you were, even if it's all a lie.

"Where do you see yourself in five years?"

"Five years from now."

"Yes, where do you see yourself?"

"That was my answer."

Talk of everything and nothing. Worry only about what you can change. Tell the children of dead friends how good their fathers and mothers were. Forget that you weren't there to help. Screw the guilt before it screws you. You can't be everywhere at once. Omnipresence is a myth, as is omnipotence. Omniscience? The world is more than you'll ever know. It's more than anyone can ever know.

And there you are, alone in the dark, alone with your thoughts. A cup of coffee recalls what it once was to be beans on a tree, underhand, barehanded, the wind in your hair and blood for lust. The Moon disappears, but it'll be back. Have you seen the North Star? Stand on your own two feet and remember that wherever you've gone, you've been. The path not taken wasn't worth taking. Bonjour. Find what you're looking for.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Irreviews: British Television, Issue I

I haven't done any kind of television rant, rave, or review in a while, so here's one for you.

Thanks to magic of Hulu, I've been catching up on shows watched by our cousins across the pond. It all started when a long-favorite show of mine (Spaced) landed on Hulu. I can't state it enough: best. sitcom. ever. And, yes, I did the fanboy thing and watched the entire series again.

That led me to a bunch of other series (strategically advertised by Hulu's placement ads).

Now, I'm no stranger to British television (I've been watching Top Gear and Graham Norton for years), but until recently, I haven't seen enough of it to get a decent cultural picture of it. Given the shows below (along with several others I've seen the past - Primeval, Spooks, etc.) I think I'm learning... and quickly. I also think that London is, as far as television is concerned, the new New York.

In other words, the quality of British television is much, much higher than ours. HBO notwithstanding.

Australian television, on the other hand... well, I'll save that for another rant.

Black Books (2000-2004, 3 series, 18 episodes)
Starring: Dylan Moran, Bill Bailey, Tamsin Greig
-----
Bernard Black (Moran) is an irreverent, disrespectful, deviant of a man. And he owns a book shop. Problem is, he can't be bothered to run it properly. Enter Manny (Bailey), an aloof, kind-hearted weirdo who has a propensity for business and a need for a job, room, and board. Sort of an over-the-top Odd Couple (odd threesome, really, when accounting for Fran, Bernard's oldest friend), Black Books is a riot.
Verdict: SEE it. And worship the Bernard.

The Book Group (2002-2003, 2 series, 12 episodes)
Starring: Anne Dudek, Bonnie Engstrom, Michelle Gomez, James Lance, Rory McCann, Saskia Mulder, Derek Riddell
-----
Scotland-based American ex-pat Clare Pettengill (Dudek) has trouble making friends, so she decides to form a book group in an attempt to find like-minded people. Instead, she finds a drug-addicted smart-ass, three footballers' wives who just want to get away from the grind of celebrity, a secretly gay football fan who just wants to get close to footballers, and a paraplegic aspiring writer. It's touted as a comedy, but it's not very funny. Avid American viewers might enjoy Anne Dudek (formerly of House) and the later appearance of Henry Ian Cusick (Lost).
Verdict: SKIP it.

Green Wing (2004-2006, 2 series, 17 episodes + 1 special)
Starring: Sally Breton, Oliver Chris, Olivia Colman, Michelle Gomez, Tamsin Greig, Pippa Haywood, Mark Heap, Katie Lyons, Stephen Mangan, Lucinda Raikes, Julian Rhind-Tutt, Karl Theobald, Sarah Alexander
-----
Scrubs, meet your competition from across the pond. This entirely over-the-top comedy is somehow both more cheeky and more realistic than its American cousin. The cast is perfect, the characters are insane, and it's a riot. I'll probably watch this again at some point.
Verdict: SEE it.

The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (1981, 6 episodes)
Starring: Peter Jones, Simon Jones, David Dixon, Sandra Dickinson, Mark Wing-Davey, Stephen Moore
-----
The first attempt at adapting Douglas Adams' BBC radio classic to the screen, it's arguably the best version. No, the recent film isn't as bad as people claimed and, no, you can't really state that any version is more faithful to the source material since Adams himself has rewritten the source material several times. That stated, is the BBC miniseries all that great? Maybe... but it hasn't aged well.
Verdict: If you're a fan, SEE it. Otherwise, you won't feel like you've missed anything.

Peep Show (2003-present, 7 series, 42 episodes)
Starring: David Mitchell, Robert Webb, Olivia Colman, Matt King, Neil Fitzmaurice
-----
A unique sitcom told primarily from the first-person perspectives of its two main characters, Mark and Jeremy (Mitchell and Webb). Mark tries to live his life responsibly, pursuing a corporate career and studying history. Jeremy tries to live his life on the edge, pursuing music and doing a lot of drugs. The problem is, neither is any good at what they do, and role-reversals abound. What's the gimmick? Not only is the series shot first-person, it's narrated by the characters' thoughts.
Verdict: SEE it. Mitchell and Webb are hilarious.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Driving With Starbuck

Most of you know by now that I'm a dog-lover (cat-lover, too, but we're not discussing that at the moment). For a long time, I had three dogs. But, faced with the decision to pursue a career aspiration or "keeping the family together," I was forced to leave two of them. It's a decision that bothers me and will continue to do so. Hopefully, one day, I can get them back. Until that happens, though... it's just me and Starbuck.

L-R: Starbuck, Jax, Jasper - happier times

I've learned a lot about Starbuck over the past year of just him and me. You see, I initially acquired him for my then-girlfriend, who often liked to complain (playfully, of course) that she didn't have a dog that loved just her. Which was, I'll admit, true. Jax was mine (but adored the girlfriend) and Jasper was mine (but looked upon the girlfriend as his surrogate mother). She wanted a dog that was hers and hers alone.

Silly thought, yes, but I figured... why not?

So we went to a local PetSmart on a Saturday and spent some time looking at the not-great selection of dogs they had for adoption. There was Starbuck (named Skeeter - bleh - at the time), sitting in his cage, basically looking scared and curious at the same time. I could tell my girlfriend was on the fence, having something else in mind (probably a Yorky or some sort of purse-dog), but she was taken with his personality. Something about him screamed "I need you." We asked one of the workers if we could walk him around the store for a while, and that's what my girlfriend did. She probably won't admit it, but she found herself liking the guy. I told her to get him, and that I'd pay for everything. She balked at the price tag (rather hefty, I'll confess), but I said it was okay. She wanted a dog and I was more than willing to get her one (I will, however, also confess to being apprehensive about getting a third dog... keep in mind that, at that time, we also had six - SIX - cats).

Wondering where his mother is...

Long-story short, she took him home and he latched onto her like glue. Point of fact was that he was scared of me. It was revealed to us, both by the adoption worker and by the dog's behavior, that he was severely beaten by his previous owner. He avoided me like the plague, going so far to beg, scratch, and whine at the bedroom door whenever my girlfriend closed it. We had an on-again, off-again rule pertaining to no pets in the bedroom, and while we broke it often anyway, she always broke it for Starbuck.

Yeah, fine... he was hers. I'd pretend to argue, but I didn't really care. She loved that dog more than, again, she'd probably admit.

Over the years, we moved around a lot and my girlfriend took off for home, leaving me with Starbuck. It bothered him greatly, at first, but eventually he came around to trusting me. I can now raise my hand, sweep the floor with a broom, and put him in a vehicle without him freaking out (he used to throw up in cars... I'm thinking his previous owner locked him in the trunk or something).

So, another long-story short, Starbuck - the dog I didn't really want - became mine. He was stubborn, smart (showing a strange knack for escaping and problem-solving in general), and altogether loveable. He was reunited with my ex for a while, and it was clear that he (along with the other two dogs) remembered her fondly (which she'll deny... but I had a howling German Shepherd to prove it). The reunion didn't last very long, and he was mine alone once again.

Then came the decision to move for my career. I could only bring one dog with me. Jasper, the Shepherd, was too big and too loud. Jax (my preference, since I had him the longest) couldn't go, since there was already a dog living where I'd be moving to, and she wasn't spayed (Jax still has his nuts). So, by default, I took Starbuck... fearing countless escapes and altogether bad behavior.

Only... it never happened. Yes, he escaped from a gated, concrete-and-brick-walled yard the first week there, but as he was alone (without his escape buddy, Jax), he generally stuck around. He became my best friend. I found I could walk him around town without a leash. I found he got along with other dogs extremely well, even whining when he could smell a German Shepherd or other large dog (I'm guessing he initially thinks they're Jasper). I found he was a good companion for my cats (although maybe not my squirrels). I found, truly, I had a good and loyal friend. A dog I was never even supposed to have.

Caught in the act...

Now, one of things I used to do with all three dogs was go on drives, hikes, and road-trips in general. They used to ride happily in the back of my pickup, enjoying each other's company in anticipation of the adventures ahead. Obviously, without the other two, riding in the back is now lonely proposition.

So... I started letting Starbuck ride in the passenger seat up front. Not an easy decision, mind you, as cleaning his white hair on my charcoal gray upholstered seats is not something to look forward to. But I just couldn't leave him by himself.

That's when I discovered his fear of driving at night. Oh, he's tip-top and blissful during the day, but oncoming headlights terrify him. And I do mean terrify. He flinches at their passing, sometimes even hiding on the floorboard. Very often, if you look carefully as I drive by, I'll have my hand over his eyes so he doesn't freak out. It's pathetic, I know, but I can't bear the thought of him again becoming afraid of an activity that he, not so very long ago, had gotten over his fear of.

What else can I do but engage in a modified form of peek-a-boo with oncoming traffic?

 He's not just sticking his head out the driver's side...
he's fucking driving.

And you know what? I couldn't care less. He's an awesome dog. I used to mock-complain about how my girlfriend should come take him off my hands (three dogs is expensive, you know), but she'd have to shoot me to get him back now.

That stated, he's still a stubborn bastard, getting into trouble whenever and however he can. I got the mugshot to prove it:

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

More Squirrel! And Cats!

Some of you (the three of you who bother to come here) might remember me raving about an adopted squirrel a couple of months ago. Well... there's been some... er... developments on the little bugger's life.

And, well... I sort of recorded the... er... Let's just say I'm a fan of the nature videographer's ethic that one shouldn't interfere in the chaos of nature.

The dark cat on the left is Sagremor. The white cat on the right (the killer) is Kay. Apparently, they're like the velociraptors from Jurassic Park.



Here comes the carnage...



All right, all right. Nothing happened. Except for Sagremor literally lying down a few moments later and going to sleep. I did have to chase Kay away... he was getting a little too curious.

At any rate, about a month after those videos were taken, I went outside to feed the squirrel and was welcomed with a bit of a surprise.



I have to point out that the voice-over is wrong... we actually had met both squirrels. In fact, upon remembering the day I pointed out he was getting fat, it dawned on us... we'd been feeding the wrong squirrel. The revelation of which also solved the mystery as to why our baby squirrel was so schizophrenic (the newer squirrel is rather aggressive and has bit me twice).



And to top it off, we realized that our previous disagreements as to whether it was a boy or a girl were moot. Fatso is a boy. The original one is a girl. She's a sweetheart.



Now we're just afraid they're going to mate, and we're going to wind up the godparents of an entire squirrel colony.

Ah, well... it could be worse.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

South Sudan

At midnight on Friday, local time, South Sudan became the 193rd independent nation recognized by the United Nations.

That is pretty awesome. I had planned on being there (one of my goals is to be somewhere when that "somewhere" becomes independent), but I had shit to do... I know, right? Of the 364 days I don't have shit to do, I had shit to do on July 8th. WTF? Really... WTF?

Anyway... just to put things in perspective... it's taken the Republic of South Sudan the better part of 50 years, two civil wars, six years of a UN-enforced peace accord, and a voter's referendum to gain independence from Sudan. And, yet, there's still vocal extremist Americans running around the USA screaming about how bad we have it and how we're doomed. Sorry... I'll take an American version of doomed over a Sudanese version of blessed any day of the fucking week.

Some facts: Sudan itself is largely Muslim, while South Sudan is largely animist and Christian. It's also (voila) oil rich and depressingly underdeveloped. Its capital city is Juba, and several nations already have or are in the process of opening embassies there. It's completely landlocked, which may mean it's as screwed as most landlocked African nations, but... there's the oil. I'm sure a neighboring country (be it Ethiopia, or even Sudan itself) stands to gain from a potential pipeline agreement.

Whether it's destined to be accosted for the remainder of its independent existence (which, hopefully, is a long time) or it will find a way to maintain sovereignty without falling into political, religious, and tribal disarray, I think the formation of the country is pretty fucking cool. A little known fact about me is that I love maps... love 'em. Can't explain it, I just do.

And now I have to go buy a new world atlas.

Shityeah.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Book Irreviews, 2011: Issue II

Song of Kali - Dan Simmons
Plot: A literary journalist is sent to Calcutta to verify the legitimacy of a new poem written by a poet long-thought dead. Disappointed with his initial findings, Robert Luzcak digs deeper until he uncovers a dangerous cult that worships the Hindu goddess of death... and practices resurrection.
Thoughts: Simmons' first horror novel (and first novel in general, I believe). It's solid, not all that scary. I like it because Simmons is a favorite of mine and it was interesting to see how he's progressed. He establishes himself as a research-oriented author in the vein of Michael Crichton.
Verdict: If you haven't read Simmons at all - or are (like myself) a huge Simmons fan - read it. Hard-core horror enthusiasts might be a little disappointed.

Neverwhere - Neil Gaiman
Plot: Richard Mayhew lives the rat race in London. A good job, a beautiful girlfriend, and a serviceable flat. One night, on his way to a dinner with his girlfriend's influential boss, Richard makes the fateful decision to help a wounded, disheveled woman who seemed to appear out of nowhere. He doesn't know it yet, but he's just crossed over into another reality... once that exists beneath the city.
Thoughts: Like Dan Simmons' work, I'm a huge fan of Neil Gaiman's. The guy is just awesome... he gets "modern fantasy" and I'd almost be willing to go out on a limb and claim he's the late 20th century's/early 21st century's Lewis Carroll. Okay, I'll go out on a limb and claim that.
Verdict: Read it.

The Cat Who Walks Through Walls - Robert A. Heinlein
Plot: In a strange case of mistaken identity, and uninvited dinner guest is killed at the table. Richard Ames, an adventurer in his own right, is caught in a web of conspiracy that only his would-be lover can help him solve. People are never who they seem and actions are never what they are.
Thoughts:Robert Heinlein wrote one of my favorite books (Starship Troopers). I've read something from all of the "Big 3" of 20th century science fiction (Asimov and Clarke, the other two), but I've been wanting to expand my Heinlein. I should've went with Stranger in a Strange Land, but I picked this mess instead. My impression? That Heinlein read Douglas Adams' The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy and felt he could do better. I realize that The Cat Who Walks Through Walls is part of a larger story, and I realize that it's not the first book in the (loose) sequence... but I still don't think I would've liked it.
Verdict: Skip it, unless you've a hard-on for Heinlein. Or have read the books you're "supposed" to read first.

The Man-Eaters of Tsavo - J.H. Patterson
Thoughts: The basis for the movie, The Ghost and the Darkness, I was a little disappointed that the titular man-eaters were such a small part of the book. It's mainly a British adventurer musing about his overall experiences in Africa, with the point of emphasis being his hunting excursions and the building of a railroad.
Verdict: Not sure... decent memoir, but I won't recommend it based on the misleading title.

The Third Man / The Fallen Idol - Graham Greene
Plot: The Third Man: Rollo Martins is a pulp novelist called to post-World War II Vienna to visit his longtime friend, Harry Lime. By the time Martins gets there, Harry's been killed in a tragic car accident. Problem is, the cops don't believe it was an accident, and neither does Martins. The search for the truth leads to more tragedy, and a revelation worse than Martins could have envisioned. The Fallen Idol (also known as "The Basement Room"): Young Philip is, for all intents and purposes, raised by two house-servants: Baines and Mrs. Baines. He idolizes Baines and despises Baines' wife. One night, while pretending to run away, Philip sees Baines with another, younger woman. Secrets are kept, truth rears its ugly head, and a cover-up threatens to drive a young boy insane.
Thoughts: Graham Greene is regarded as a literary giant. That's because Graham Greene is a literary giant. His style rocks, his characters rock, his plots rock. He just rocks. I will be reading a lot more of him in the near future. What else do you need to know?
Verdict: Read it (or them, depending on which edition you can get a hold of).

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Tenth Daughters of Memory, 2011: Volume 1

Here they are... all of The Tenth Daughter of Memory entries for the first half of 2011.

Unlike last year's Volume 1, I've already posted February's River of Mnemosyne entry in a separate index. "Uncharted" appeared on Irreverent Irrelevance (the last bit of creative writing to do so) and all the rest are on Museless Propaganda.

Happy to say that "Uncharted" and "Departure" won their respective Muses, while "An Australian Breakfast," "Clandestine's Daughter," and "Eagle, Anchor, Trident" finished as runners-up.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Walk the Mindscape

Figure it out?

Don't lie. The only truth is that it's all fucked up. There's no intelligence in the design, just lobotomized ramblings of someone who doesn't give a shit. You have no idea what you believe, because someone else told you to believe it. The greatest story ever told hasn't been told yet.

Contradiction.

Contraindication.

Contraceptive.

Stop yourself before someone stops you.

What is the topic? Histories, geographies, and humanities of imagined people and places that are created by one who is real. But they are unimportant. The ones whose characters are good enough, bad enough, interesting enough, will be the stories told. With interpretations and interruptions as subjective as the reader.

They miss a beat, they skip a step, they are the memory you can't remember and the nightmare that wakes you up at night. Friends, enemies, lovers, and people you want to fuck or fuck over. Sex and vengeance make for good conversation, locker rooms and bureaus are the meeting places of the new gods. Good versus Evil, ambiguous depending on which side of the line you're on. Your god is not their god, and they want to kill yours. Always have. Always will.

Dreams do not exist here, for those stories are written and told. Life does not exist here, for the page does not breathe. Leafs and leaflets falling from trees of knowledge growing in the gardens of the mind. The Book's only truth is that it is already dead. It doesn't care what happens to you, as long as you teach someone else to read before you go.

It is ignorance that sparked the flame. Intelligence that ignited it. And intolerance that fans it. Everyone's an arsonist, but nobody knows what to burn.

The Sun, that pagan symbol of life, can kill you. The moon can do nothing but stare at its own reflection. Narcissism guides your hand, even as you claim modesty. Pride will be your downfall after it leads to your success. Secede from expectations, and chaos becomes wonderful.

Is she in the picture? Does the photograph truly speak thousands of words? Or do your eyes deceive you? If she's so perfect, why doesn't everyone draw her the same way?

She is model, actress, slut. Smiling when required, crying when alone. Suckling both nipple and cock at some point in her life. The end always justifies the means. Happiness is the goal.

He is model, actor, asshole. Shaking hands even if he doesn't like you, talking shit even if he does. Putting foot and crow into his mouth and washing it down with alcohol. Pride can be swallowed if your throat is wide enough. Power is everything.

Who are the heroes? Where are the deceivers who walk on water and grant three wishes, heal lepers and give great blowjobs, prophesy the end of times and make the best wine?

Has the sea parted? Or are we simply part of the sea? To rely on Noah for rescue is to realize that you're not allowed on board. Everyone else was clearly too stupid to build a boat, including you.

Is she worth it? Are her curves exhilarating enough in the blue light of the stars? Does the girl next door have a better squeal? She just wants someone to spend eternity with. He just wants someone to last through the summer. Does the paper boy deliver? Can the porn star perform on demand? What does he drive?

When a killer has standards, you know the world is in trouble. No women, no children, means overpopulation. The coming extinction of a privileged class too vain to harvest their own food. The rise of an uneducated population who would rather blame their problems on everyone else. When the lights are off, they're all the same... dicks still throb and cunts still drip. Just make sure you're doing it right.

Words are just words. Patterns of letters depicting concepts understood. Concepts created by those who needed to understand. Creations dreamed of by those who didn't know any better. Why invent language if you don't want to insult your enemies?

History proves that no matter how much you disprove, people remain unconvinced. Trust is a one-way street, since there's no way to know what the other guy's thinking. Is it a game? If it's chess, we're in luck. The smart will survive. If it's tic-tac-toe, kiss your ass goodbye. If it's Mahjong, you've clearly run out of things to do.

It's a game, alright. Is it over, already? If there's a stage 2, you'd better hope you're going the right way. You've convinced yourself you are. But why would you care? Isn't exploration what it's all about? Why the need to pretend you already know?

Knowledge is earned on the back of those who tried. Wisdom is learned on the back of those who failed. To stand on the shoulders of giants means to understand where they came from, not pretend they've always been there. It is with fealty that one shows love. Piety is spiritual masturbation. It's probably better to just pull your pants down and stroke.

You can shove your judgements up your ass. Where the Sun doesn't shine is as good a place as any. If you cannot stomach the musings of others, don't think they can stomach yours. Everyone's right, everyone's wrong. Take your rhetoric and go home. Leave them alone and they won't try to kill you. Stay, and you're on your own.

Sustenance isn't just about survival, it's about pleasure. In the garden of hedonism there was only one rule, and it was broken. She couldn't look at his phallus because it reminded her of the snake. She took it anyway. Endurance is the measure of man, woman, animal. Longer and harder wins the day, regardless of size. That's what we tell ourselves, anyway. And then we rot.

It's a short ride, so enjoy it. It's a rough ride, so learn the bumps. You won't avoid them again, but at least you'll have an idea of when to jump. The sky's the limit, and mankind has learned to fly. Where to next? That's the only question that matters.

Anything goes here. Leave your sensibilities at the door. Or don't come in. Laugh. Cry. Scream. If you aren't taken to the limit of acceptability - and beyond it - then this view is a failure.
Are you afraid yet? You'd better be. You're a fucking idiot if you're not.

I invite you to walk The Mindscape. If you want in, just ask.

Enjoy.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Laughing Matters

One of my favorite lines in all of motion picture history is "Because it's all so fucking hilarious," spoken by Daniel Craig in Road to Perdition. Great movie, great line, and I've adopted it a bit in the way I look at the world. Partially because it's accurate, and partially because it makes "moving on" relatively easy.

But none of that is relevant to what I'm actually rambling about.

And... what am I rambling about?

When it comes to certain things, I hate being right. Not that I'm always right, or even often right, but when it comes to predicting certain people, figuring out motivations, causes, effects, and consequences... well, there's a handful of people I just seem to nail. Not a lot... I'm not psychologist, no oracle, not even a good excuse for a fortune cookie. But... for these few people, I seem to be.

Granted, most of this handful are wanton and willing train wrecks anyway, and will freely confess to their predictability, but it's this latest example of a "prediction" that's gonna bug me.

You see, I don't know the particular person in question as well as I do "the handful." But, this person is painfully easy to read. It's no great mystery, I assure you. I do know a person very close to the the one in question, and I know a few others who are intimate with the "question" (we'll just assign that nickname, shall we?) well enough.

In short, what the Question does really isn't any of my business.

Why is this an issue?

Because, I predicted a few months ago that the Question's significant other had, well, another "question." And, by complete accident, proof of that was recently established. So, now what? "Question's" friend (not really a friend, but we'll keep it simple), who is close to me, has a vested interest in Question's happiness. Another of Question's circle of people also has a vested interest in Question's happiness. They're going to want to know.

No-brainer, right? Well... no. There's the small matter that the Question held some added relevance to me in the past (how and what is also irrelevant).

Which leads to the predicament: if I rat, I'm an envious, vindictive asshole (which I'm not denying). If I don't rat, I'm a backstabbing, lying asshole (which I may or may not deny). Either way, I come out on the losing end of things.

So, I guess I'm going to have to do something I hate doing...

Lie about it.

What else can I say, but "I was wrong" with a smile? Mere days after the significant other had some "fun" with someone else, the significant other is going to party, laugh, have "fun" with, and probably tell the Question "I love you" at some point (some of those while my other friends are present, I'm sure). It's enough to make you gag, but you've gotta admit... it has the makings of a good joke.

It's all so fucking hilarious.

What would you do?

Monday, June 27, 2011

Sex and Death, I Suppose: A Review

Sex and Death, I Suppose, by Michael Colonnese.

THE SYNOPSIS - Pete Lombardo is a down-on-his-luck private investigator who takes photos of real estate on the side. During one of his real estate excursions, he happens upon a dead body and his P.I. instincts take over. Unfortunately, so do his survival instincts and he fails to properly report the crime scene.

His girlfriend, a psychoanalyst (and also his therapist), recommends Pete as a P.I. to an elderly woman who believes her husband - a former mayor and dead for 50 years - was murdered. Pete doesn't want the job, but because of the troubles stemming from his aborted photography, he needs the money.

The police, the mob, and a cadre of lesbian Muslim terrorists soon make finding and harming Mr. Lombardo their ultimate goal. What has Lombardo uncovered? Even he doesn't know.

THE DISCLAIMER - I'll keep the synopsis at that, for I need to confess something: I've known Michael Colonnese since 1999 and want you to go out and buy his book. It's a quick and enjoyable read (though there are things I don't like... I'll get to those below) and entirely worthy of a debut novel (quality-wise, I'd rate it with Simmons' Song of Kali, despite their different genres). It's available through Amazon.com (click here). Disclaimer 2: I like parentheticals (they're cool).

THE REVIEW - There are quite a few things one takes away from this story. One is that, despite its reputation, Connecticut probably isn't a nice place to live. Another is that private investigators do not live a glamorous life.

The story is filled with over-the-top characters. Simply put, there isn't one "straight man" character in the entire work, and it somehow makes the whole thing strangely believable. There is no lack of three-dimension in these people and, as far-fetched as some of their quirks may seem, readers are likely to know someone in real life who suffers from similar neuroses as the population of Sex and Death, I Suppose does.

The aforementioned Pete Lombardo is a sleazy, self-centered imp of a man. Sort of. However a reader will wind up describing Lombardo's ambiguous ambiguity, he's an awesome character. Marlowe-light, with a healthy serving of irreverence (everyone knows how I feel about irreverence), and an obsession with sex and food that rivals Nigella Lawson.

Everyone else in the book, whether they are enemies or allies, is designed to clash with Lombardo in some way, shape, or form. If the essence of a good story is, in fact, dramatic conflict, the people Lombardo interacts with from the first page to the last page are good storytellers. Simply put, nothing is cut-and-dried for Lombardo, because nobody lets him cut and dry. Starting with Lombardo's girlfriend and ending with the novel's villain (whose identity may or may not surprise you), nobody acts in a predictable manner, for the reader or the protagonist. It does seem a little much at times, but overall, it's pretty fun (and funny) to sift through the relationships.

At several points in the book, the detailed narration can overwhelm the reader, but never will you be left with the impression that you don't know who the characters are, where they are, or what's immediately going on. Regardless of whether or not you find the narrative style too heavy, the plot, the tone, and the various characterizations are crystal clear throughout the entire book.

In short, Sex and Death, I Suppose is classic noir and pulp with a modern bent, and totally irreverent. Lombardo is a great protagonist and I, for one, would like to read more about him in the future.

*Complaint 1: the proofreaders at the publisher - if they even employ any - absolutely suck balls. There's easily an error at least every other page. Bad errors, too. Missing letters, fucked up punctuation, repeated words, changed words, wrong words... gah. Drove me bonkers (I discovered later that the proofreading/editing was farmed out to a firm in China... a firm run by non-English-speaking Chinese... true story).

*Complaint 2: Ignore the plot description on the cover. While it doesn't "lie" to the reader, it's extremely misleading and does nothing to help one want to read it.

Verdict: Read it.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Book Irreviews, 2011: Issue I

I've mentioned elsewhere that I'm trying to read a lot this year. Novels 'n shit. As of this writing, I've finished seven novels (I started an eighth... a Dan Brown... and chucked it after 19 pages), two short story anthologies, and a memoir (not including works I'm paid to read). Not great by avid reader standards, but certainly great by mine.

A quick run-through for those curious... think of these as "Irreviews" for books (because, well, that's what they are):

The Thing - Alan Dean Foster
Plot: A team of American researchers discovers a spaceship buried beneath the ice of Antarctica. After accidentally rescuing a malevolent shape-shifting alien from Norwegian scientists, the researchers are caught in a fight for survival. The stakes? All life on Earth.
Thoughts: An adaptation of the John Carpenter horror film (itself an adaptation of John Campbell's novella Who Goes There? and Howard Hawks' original film, The Thing From Another World). Not much else to say.
Verdict: Eh. Sci-fi/horror fans who love the movie, sure. Everyone else... nah.

2010: Odyssey Two - Arthur C. Clarke
Plot: Something strange is happening on Jupiter, and Discovery and the Jupiter Monolith hold the clues. The window of opportunity closing, the Soviet and American space agencies band together to solve the mystery.
Thoughts: The sequel to 2001: A Space Odyssey, it more closely follows Kubrick's film version than Clarke's novel (much to my chagrin, though I understand why Clarke chose to do it that way). Still, an awesome read.
Verdict: Read it.

The Other Side of the Sky - Arthur C. Clarke
Thoughts: An older anthology of Clarke's short stories. Many are extremely interesting and have aged well. Some are a little boring and have aged poorly. A must for Clarke and sci-fi fans.
Verdict: Read it. There are some "challenge-based" short stories included that any aspiring writer should check out.

The Drowned World - J.G. Ballard
Plot: Earth is heating up, the ice caps are melting, swamps and oceans are expanding. Stranger still, life itself seems to be devolving. The definition of being human will never be the same.
Thoughts: Yes, the little boy played by Christian Bale in Empire of the Sun is a real person and wound up writing a bunch of pulpish science fiction. An interesting read, though a little dry. But as a book warning of the ecological and psychological dangers resulting from Global Warming, it's a hoot. Why? Because it was written in 1962.
Verdict: Pulp fans, yes. Conspiracy theorists, maybe. Sci-fan fans, eh...

Sex and Death, I Suppose - Michael Colonnese
Plot: Corruption in government, corruption in industry. A down-on-his luck private investigator and part-time realty photographer gets caught in the middle of it all.
Thoughts: I'm a little biased about this one, since Michael Colonnese is a friend of mine, but I still have to say that his book was a fun read. Not perfect, but fun. I'll refrain from saying too much, since I plan on giving it a proper review in the future.
Verdict: Read it. Support an aspiring novelist. Dammit.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Horse!

Last weekend a friend of mine asked if I'd help with an indie short he put together. He had no sound guy and, since I once dabbled in production sound (I suck at it... hence, "dabbled" and not "worked"), I was basically asked by default.

Of course, to make matters worse, the place they rented the sound equipment from forgot to include a set of headphones, which meant checking the levels while recording was impossible. I didn't rent the gear, so I didn't inspect the gear. Yes, that was me passing the buck.

Anyway, it was a good time. Figured I'd share some photos and a video or two. I'll post a third video at some point, but since my dumbass held the camera sideways, I'm going to have to rotate the image first (read: I'll have to ask someone with the equipment and the know-how to rotate the image first).

Our super-professional and high-tech vehicles and gear... plus the "deputy" looking a bit lost.


The director's back. Trust me, you don't wanna see his front.


Three horses and two outlaw Indians. Why are Indians always outlaws?


Oh, wait... because Cody and Rod ARE outlaws.


Prop horse. Okay, not really... I've just always wanted to type the phrase, "prop horse." Okay, not really...


Cody's ride-by.


And last, but not least... a douche on a horse.
Look at my horse, my horse is amazing...


Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Getting Ready... and Other Ramblings


Yeah, so... considering leaving Los Angeles a bit earlier than I had planned (four years was my intended limit). No specific reason... just seems right. We'll see what the next few weeks bring. Probably nothing. I have a strange way of being apathetic to what happened yesterday and what will happen tomorrow.

Helped out on a short Western last weekend. First time on a horse in years. Felt good. Had a blast. I'll get some videos up soon.

Life is strange, yeah? Life's brought me five or six friends who I know - without an ounce of doubt - will help me in fucked up situations no matter what. Ironically, the only person who's ever actually told me they'll "help no matter what" is not one of them.

Trust actions, not words.

Found a memorial site on the Internet for combat engineers in the Army. Sucks, how many of them I know. Or knew, rather. Not sure which tense is appropriate.

A lot of people are predicting the end of the world, and for various reasons. Is it really worth being that miserable? World's not going anywhere... not for a very long time. I seem to recall a cult that formed about 2000 years ago... they predicted the end of the world back then. Whoops. Just accept that the stars aren't trying to tell us anything. Numbers aren't signs. Nor are cards. Or tea leaves. Or folds of skin in palms. Or pieces of paper in cookies.

Don't jump to conclusions... I am neither down in the dumps nor pissed off. On the contrary, just watched a rough cut of a short film I worked on and am enjoying a quiet evening with my dog and two cats.

Nothing is so valuable as loyalty.

Hypocrites are the worst criminals. People who settle are hypocrites. Dream or don't. Don't lie to yourself about it. I may fail, but I'll never settle.

Re: figuring it all out - What's the fucking rush?

R. Fernandez: survived a war, then died of a freak accident at his birthday party. WTF?

Saw someone last Saturday that I hadn't seen in six years. Kinda weird. Even though I've been no one important in her life, she stood there for five minutes with her jaw to the floor. Guess she didn't get the memo...

Life is strange, yeah?

Song lyric of the month: "It'll take you 'round and 'round; sometimes you're up, sometimes you're down... It's just a ride." - Jem

Aight... gotta finish getting ready. For what, I have no idea. Wouldn't have it any other way.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Squirrel!

Okay, so there's this adopted squirrel, and it eats out of my hand... although I'm not sure why I'm telling you this, since no one believes me. Even after I take photos of it, nobody believes me.



Not satisfied with photos, a disbeliever challenges me to take video. So I do.



And THEN said disbeliever wants to know why the video isn't longer and whether or not that is really my hand. So I take another one... much longer... one that ends in tragedy.



Okay, I lied about the tragedy, but I'm telling the truth about the squirrel!

Monday, June 6, 2011

D-Day

Dear Mother,

I am reminded of something that happened a while back. Someone wished me a Happy Memorial Day. It was a woman and her children were present. I am under the impression she singled me out because of my regulation haircut.

I feel guilty for how I reacted, but I told that person to go fuck themselves. I couldn't help myself. I confessed to the Chaplain later and asked for Forgiveness. There was nothing else for me to do, for I do not know the woman nor have I seen her again. I am unable - not unwilling - to apologize.

In my head, in the moment before I responded with the unfortunate expletive, I had asked her many questions.

Did she remember Charles and Andrew? Charles, who bled to death on Andrew's back while Andrew struggled to carry Charles 25 kilometers to safety. Andrew, who wound up drinking much of Charles' blood because of the position with which he was carrying his friend. No, she did not.

Did she remember Daniel and Jonathan? Daniel, who was burned alive trying to push the rest of his squad out of a downed aircraft engulfed in flames. Jonanthan, Daniel's youngest soldier, who - despite a broken arm - tried to pull Daniel from the aircraft but only succeeded in having portions of Daniel's immolated flesh stuck to his hands. No, she did not.

Did she remember Thomas and Scott? Thomas, who volunteered to stay behind during a retreat for no other reason than he had twisted his ankle and knew he would slow the retreat enough that they would no doubt be overrun. Scott, who volunteered to stay with Thomas for no other reason than to alleviate Thomas the loneliness of dying alone. No, she did not.

I suppose I reacted so badly because in her hand was a bag of frozen steaks and bottles of ketchup and mustard. It isn't their fault, I will admit. How are they to know not everyone has a barbeque for Memorial Day?

Anyway, I find that I should get to the point. If you're reading this, you have no doubt received - or will soon receive - notice that I have been killed in action. I ask you to not use my death as a topic of conversation, discussion, or debate for any future Memorial Day, or any other day set aside for the supposed remembrance of soldiers. I have no desire to be remembered by a society that cares more about a day at a beach than the men who stormed beaches to ensure they could have the freedom to celebrate. I suspect you would receive a great deal of superficial condolences and sympathy that would be as quickly forgotten - if not more so - than the many names found on many walls.

To paraphrase Larry Hama, "A soldier's job is to do the impossible, to do the unthinkable, and then be forgotten for it." I have done the impossible. I have done the unthinkable. I take no issue with being forgotten and have no desire to be thanked for my service.

All the good ones are dead. I am proud to be, once again, in their company.

I love you. Now and forever.

Sincerely,

******* * ******

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Soundtracks After the Fact I: Intensity

It's no secret that I often write to music. It's no secret that many often write to music. And since neither of those are secrets, I won't state anything more about them.

Something cool happened the other day as I was piddling about doing nothing in particular... I was listening to a mix of the various versions of Eminem's/Rihanna's/Skylar Grey's "Love the Way You Lie" and wound up perusing some old stories I crapped out at one time or another. Anyway, long-story-short, I came across my "Intensity." It was... well... pretty cool. Added some relevance to an otherwise irrelevant story.

As you can tell, I've got nothing important to say (I rarely do), but I invite you to listen to Rihanna's "Love the Way You Lie, Part 2" while reading "Intensity." Let me know what you think.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Gil and George: Get It Together

Press "play." These dirty words are not televised.



"GET IT TOGETHER"
a mash-up of

"The Revolution Will Not Be Televised"
Gil Scott-Heron
&
"A Modern Man"
George Carlin

You will not be able to stay home, brother. I'm a modern man, digital and smoke-free; a man for the millennium. You will not be able to plug in, turn on and cop out.

You will not be able to lose yourself on skag and skip, skip out for beer during commercials, because the revolution - a diversified, multi-cultural, post-modern deconstructionist; politically, anatomically and ecologically incorrect - will not be televised.

The revolution will not be televised. The revolution will not be brought to you by Xerox in four parts without commercial interruptions. I've been uplinked and downloaded, I've been inputted and outsourced.

The revolution will not show you pictures of Nixon blowing a bugle and leading a charge by John Mitchell, General Abrams and Spiro Agnew to eat hog maws confiscated from a Harlem sanctuary. I know the upside of downsizing, I know the downside of upgrading. The revolution will not be televised.

The revolution will not be brought to you by the Schaefer Award Theatre and will not star Natalie Wood and Steve McQueen or Bullwinkle and Julia. I'm a high-tech low-life. A cutting-edge, state-of-the-art, bi-coastal multi-tasker, and I can give you a gigabyte in a nanosecond.

The revolution will not give your mouth sex appeal. I'm new-wave, but I'm old-school; and my inner child is outward-bound.

The revolution will not get rid of the nubs. I'm a hot-wired, heat-seeking, warm-hearted cool customer; voice-activated and bio-degradable.

The revolution will not make you look five pounds thinner, because the revolution will not be televised, brother. I interface with my database; my database is in cyberspace; so I'm interactive, I'm hyperactive, and from time to time I'm radioactive.

There will be no pictures of you and Willie May pushing that shopping cart down the block on the dead run, or trying to slide that color television into a stolen ambulance. Behind the eight ball, ahead of the curve, riding the wave, dodging the bullet, pushing the envelope.

NBC will not be able predict the winner at 8:32 or report from 29 districts. I'm on point, on task, on message, and off drugs. I've got no need for coke and speed; I've got no urge to binge and purge. I'm in the moment, on the edge, over the top, but under the radar. The revolution will not be televised.

There will be no pictures of pigs shooting down brothers in the instant replay. A high-concept, low-profile, medium-range ballistic missionary. A street-wise smart bomb. A top-gun bottom-feeder.

There will be no pictures of Whitney Young being run out of Harlem on a rail with a brand new process. I wear power ties, I tell power lies, I take power naps, I run victory laps.

There will be no slow motion or still life of Roy Wilkens strolling through Watts in a Red, Black and Green liberation jumpsuit that he had been saving for just the proper occasion. I'm a totally ongoing, big-foot, slam-dunk rainmaker with a pro-active outreach. A raging workaholic, a working rageaholic; out of rehab and in denial.

Green Acres, The Beverly Hillbillies, and Hooterville Junction will no longer be so damned relevant, and women will not care if Dick finally gets down with Jane on Search for Tomorrow because Black people will be in the street looking for a brighter day. I've got a personal trainer, a personal shopper, a personal assistant, and a personal agenda. You can't shut me up; you can't dumb me down. Because I'm tireless, and I'm wireless. I'm an alpha-male on beta-blockers. The revolution will not be televised.

There will be no highlights on the eleven o'clock news and no pictures of hairy-armed women liberationists and Jackie Onassis blowing her nose. I'm a non-believer, I'm an over-achiever; laid-back and fashion-forward. Up-front, down-home; low-rent, high-maintenance. I'm super-sized, long-lasting, high-definition, fast-acting, oven-ready and built to last.

The theme song will not be written by Jim Webb, Francis Scott Key, nor sung by Glen Campbell, Tom Jones, Johnny Cash, Englebert Humperdink, or the Rare Earth. A hands-on, footloose, knee-jerk head case; prematurely post-traumatic, and I have a love child who sends me hate-mail. But I'm feeling, I'm caring, I'm healing, I'm sharing. A supportive, bonding, nurturing primary-care giver. My output is down, but my income is up. I take a short position on the long bond, and my revenue stream has its own cash flow. The revolution will not be televised.

The revolution will not be right back after a message about a white tornado, white lightning, or white people. I read junk mail, I eat junk food, I buy junk bonds, I watch trash sports. I'm gender-specific, capital-intensive, user-friendly and lactose-intolerant.

You will not have to worry about a dove in your bedroom, a tiger in your tank, or the giant in your toilet bowl. I like rough sex; I like tough love. I use the f-word in my e-mail. And the software on my hard drive is hard-core—no soft porn.

The revolution will not go better with Coke. I bought a microwave at a mini-mall. I bought a mini-van at a mega-store. I eat fast food in the slow lane. I'm toll-free, bite-size, ready-to-wear, and I come in all sizes. A fully equipped, factory-authorized, hospital-tested, clinically proven, scientifically formulated medical miracle.

The revolution will not fight the germs that may cause bad breath. I've been pre-washed, pre-cooked, pre-heated, pre-screened, pre-approved, pre-packaged, post-dated, freeze-dried, double-wrapped and vacuum-packed. And I have unlimited broadband capacity.

The revolution will put you in the driver's seat. I'm a rude dude, but I'm the real deal. Lean and mean. Cocked, locked and ready to rock; rough, tough and hard to bluff. I take it slow, I go with the flow; I ride with the tide, I've got glide in my stride.

The revolution will not be televised driving and moving; will not be televised sailing and spinning; will not be televised jiving and grooving; will not be televised wailing and winning.

The revolution will be no re-run brothers; I don't snooze, so I don't lose. I keep the pedal to the metal and the rubber on the road. I party hearty, and lunchtime is crunch time. I'm hanging in, there ain't no doubt, and I'm hanging tough.

The revolution will be live. Over and out.

Irreview, Book Review: The Nutshell Technique

I have, to date, read well over two dozen books on screenwriting and its related mediums (theatre, specifically).  While most - if not all -...