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.