Thursday, April 29, 2010

Apollyta and Arteseus, Part I

They are our great heroes. Perseus, Bellerophon, Heracles, Jason, Theseus, Achilles, and Odysseus. Men who were also gods, born of the great curse of divine intervention. Or men who should have been. Their tales only survive for us to tell because of survivors. But theirs are not the greatest feats of heroism. None saved the entire world. None prevented a new war between god and titan. None were as worthy as some whose names failed to be repeated and passed on… read more @ Panoramic Mindscapes

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*Continued in Apollyta and Arteseus, Part II

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Go Outside!

Recycle. Compost. Drive less. Use less energy. Use less water. We are fast approaching the point (if we've not already passed it) that everyone on this planet will be an environmentalist by default. Until Pandora or Endor are found, Earth is all we've got.

Trash and energy notwithstanding, there is something extremely simple that most everyone has the capability of doing in order to help Mother Earth and Mother Nature along their ways. What is it? Well, I'll tell you...

PISS OUTSIDE!

No, I'm not advocating those who live in concrete jungles to do so, but people who still have the luxuries of yards and other wildernesses about should do it. I mean, why not? It's no accident that the salt content of the oceans matches the salt content of our blood (and, hence, our piss). Urine is supposed to be returned to the water table or evaporated into the air. The animal kingdom does it and they've never had a problem with it, no? And think about it... that "purified" water you're drinking probably had piss in it at some point. Hell, it probably WAS piss at some point.

Quick aside: this reminds me of that god-awful scene in Waterworld in which Kevin Costner, surrounded by nothing but ocean, pisses in some sort of recycling device in order to obtain drinking water. What the fuck? If that thing's good enough to recycle piss into potable water, shouldn't it be good enough to recycle... I dunno... seawater???

Anyway... piss outside. Not only does that ensure the water goes directly back into nature, it'll cut your water/sewage bill down by eliminating many of your toilet flushes during the day. Not only that, it keeps your piss from returning to reclamation and sewage plants which are filled with water far more disgusting than any pool you've ever pissed in.

I also advocate not being buried in caskets and coffins (don't get me started on the fallacy of cremation), since that also allows our water and tissue to return to the environment more efficiently, but that's another story.

PISS OUTSIDE!!!

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Trophies for No One

Her children are less a responsibility and more of a reminder of victory, however Pyrrhic. She's bored by them and doesn't even really want them around, but her divorce was ugly and, well, she wanted to "win." Full custody escaped her, but the 50/50 arrangement is enough to make her smile. Her ex-husband already has complete custody of three other children by two other women, and she'd be damned if he got her three. It is an empty victory, but a victory nonetheless… read more @ Panoramic Mindscapes

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Monday, April 26, 2010

The 2010 Chargers Draft

I'm no draft expert and I don't claim to be. I don't follow college football closely and the players that teams pick are, for me, usually a surprise. I also think that many rookie NFL players are despicably overpaid and I wholeheartedly support a draft position-based pay scale. That stated, I do get as excited as the next guy over who my team (the San Diego Chargers, in case somebody hasn't noticed yet) picks during the NFL's annual meat market.

Yes, I criticize the general manager of the Chargers (A.J. Smith) quite often. Not because of his skill as a GM, but because of the oft-callous nature he treats his "employees." I understand that players get old and lose value, but I also understand the value of continuity and, for lack of better term, legacy. Say what I will, though, A.J. Smith knows how to pick players.

Anyway, here's who the Chargers acquired, accompanied by some of my painfully uneducated thoughts.

1. Ryan Mathews - RB - Fresno State - the heir-apparent to the departed LaDainian Tomlinson (now known as "Complainian" for the disrespectful manner in which he behaved upon leaving the Chargers), this guy averaged 157.5 yards per game his last season in college (per game???) and 6.55 yard per carry. The Chargers spent an awful lot to get this guy (their 28th, 40th, and 126th picks in the draft, plus LB Tim Dobbins to Miami... in return they got Mathews with the 12th pick, and received Miami's 110th and 173rd picks), and while I don't really see him filling LDT's shoes, if anyone could, this guy is it.

2. Donald Butler - LB - Washington - another "shocker" results in the Chargers trading up again, this time swapping their third-round pick with the 49ers (the Chargers did not have a second-round pick after the Mathews deal). San Diego also gave up their 173rd pick and a fourth-round pick in 2011. Call me crazy, but I think A.J. Smith seems relatively confident that most of the pieces are already in place for a run at the Super Bowl. Anyway, it's obvious that given the Shawne Merriman situation (he might not be a Charger much longer) and the Dobbins trade to Miami caused Smith to go for another linebacker. We'll see how this one pans out.

And the rest:

3. Darrell Stuckey - FS - Kansas - with the 110th pick, the Chargers drafted this guy to compete for the starting strong safety position (currently held by Kevin Ellison, opposite free safety Eric Weddle).
4. Cam Thomas - DT - North Carolina - the Chargers traded their 159th pick and next year's fifth-rounder to the Eagles in order to pick a new nose tackle at 146.
5. Jonathan Crompton - QB - Tennessee - after sending Charlie Whitehurst to the Seahawks (for a steal), the Chargers pick their new third-string quarterback with pick 168 (a compensatory selection).
6. Dedrick Epps - TE - Miami (FL) - not sure why, but with their final pick (235), the Chargers took a tight end.

Next up are the undrafted free agent signings, which is where A.J. Smith makes his money. Bring it on.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

His Wings Were Not Armor

I can't tell you my real name, but you can call me Lauren. If you're reading this, know that you'll never hear of me; you'll never know my complete story. But I don't want to die without... some evidence left behind that I existed. Because I am real. There are those who are trying to convince the world that I am fiction, but I assure you... I am real. Please believe this.

I'm almost 40 and I've been in love only twice in my life. The first man I fell in love with is the reason I'm on the run. I've been running for… read more @ Panoramic Mindscapes

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Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Things I Learned from Video Games That My Sister's Kids Didn't

I love video games. I do. Thankfully, I've moved past the point that I waste dozens of hours of week sitting in front of a television or a computer doing something that ultimately results in, well, nothing. But I still love a good video game. Strangely enough (or maybe not), I prefer a strong story to strong gameplay, though I do enjoy a mindless foray into whooping some virtual ass.

That stated, I grew up on the good ol' Atari 2600. Crap graphics combined with a one-button controller never really lent themselves to great gameplay, and the limited RAM and ROM space found on that particular system didn't really lend itself to engaging and encompassing stories. But, whatever.

Fast-forward to the 21st century (actually, the mid-90s), and video games now exhibit mind-blowing imagery and storylines that are so in-depth, they often require multiple run-throughs just to notice or understand all of their nuance. No, I'm not claiming that video games are the next great art form (though I would certainly, unlike Roger Ebert, consider them an art form), I'm merely acknowledging that a shitload of creativity goes into the things.

Still, kids seem to be taking everything for granted these days, and as I'm watching three under-10-year-olds playing a fairly comprehensive game on Nintendo Wii as I write this, it only confirms this notion for me. Video games taught me persistence. I played stupid little 8-bit (or less) games until they were completed. If I couldn't get past a level or an obstacle, I stayed at it until I could figure it out. For me, video games were a primal form (compared to today's games, of course) of problem solving. Movement and timing. But then again, video games were most certainly NOT my childhood's primary form of entertainment. There was television, sure, but it was mostly inanimate toys and books that I had to turn to in order to keep from getting bored.

Today, though... different story.

I'm watching three kids try to beat a level, each getting frustrated beyond belief in turn, and handing the controller off to another kid in angry defeat in order to just pass the level. Their willingness to quit a friggin' video game is, quite simply, amazing to me. What makes it somewhat depressing is that though there are snippets of what is actually a pretty decent story, they don't even give a shit. All they want to see are flashing lights and colors and some "bling bling" that lets them know they've passed the level.

So three strikes for persistence, and three more for following plot.

I also learned how to share with the video games of my generation. There were relatively few simultaneous multiplayer games when I was growing up, and "Player 2" usually went about his or her business while I twiddled my thumbs awaiting my next turn. Not so with today's games. Everything's at the same time, be it on the same team or in versus modes, and the sudden demise of one player typically results in arguments over whether or not to hit the reset button.

On that note, I also learned how to lose with video games. I think we can safely count that lesson out, as evidenced by the almost broken Wii controller now laying on the living room floor and the bratty neighbor kid stewing in the kitchen.

Now, while I don't subscribe to the theory that video games are destroying our children (I blame that on bad parenting, which has pretty much always been the culprit of that particular accusation), I do admit that children learn fewer valuable life lessons from the games and style of gaming in vogue today.

Of course, I'm probably just getting old.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

The Art of War

an actor's violent act
scripted in a blink
the sculpture holds, bleeding
salients salient; perceptive; aware… read more @ Panoramic Mindscapes

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*For Tom, Dave, Glen, and everyone else who now only reside in memory...

Monday, April 19, 2010

Avatar Revisited

When I originally reviewed Avatar (way back in Irreviews, 2010: Issue II), I mentioned that I wanted to see it again to determine if its awe-inspiration and story hold up under further scrutiny. Left unsaid (or unwritten, rather) was that I wanted to see if it could make its way onto my personal "All-Time Great Movies" list.

Well, I've seen it two more times since, and I have my answers.

First of all, yes, the awe-inspiration holds up. While many of the 3D sequences did lose some effect, the flying sequences (particularly the initial ikran/banshee scene) remains as breathtaking and wondrous as they were the first time I saw it. That it does so is even more meaningful (to me, anyway) in that I saw the film for the third time the day after I saw How to Train Your Dragon (another great 3D film, and great film in general, but I'll talk about that one in the next Irreviews). I simply can't say enough about how fantastic Avatar looks.

Moving on to the story. There are many, many films whose stories are "worse" upon subsequent viewings, and there are many, many films whose stories are "better." Whether this is from an inherent ability to notice more during a second look or the phenomenon of it "growing on you," I can't claim to know. But I do think Avatar's story offers quite a bit of depth that gets overlooked the first time one watches it. There are many subtle moments found in the protagonist's portrayal that I simply didn't see initially, and the same holds true for much of the so-called hidden commentary in the film. So, yes, the story does hold up and actually improves, in my opinion. Does this put the story in the same category as the stories from the films typically recognized as the greats? No. But it certainly speaks to Avatar's (and James Cameron's) competence in telling a story.

Still, while I do recognize Avatar as one of the most important films of all time, it does not make my "All-Time Great Movies" list (in which there are only seven films). It almost did, and I must admit that I wanted it to, but it doesn't. What it does do is change filmmaking forever. Regardless of your own personal opinion of the movie, that is an inarguable fact.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Irrewind, 20100417: Battlestar Galactica

Some of you are aware of the recent remake of Battlestar Galactica that aired on the SciFi channel (now ridiculously labeled "Syfy"). Some of you are not. When it began, I was a huge fan. I even still claim that the first season of the show is one of the shining examples of science fiction found on television... ever. But I also claim that the show quickly devolved into garbage, perpetuated largely by the thoroughly unhelpful "fanboy syndrome" (which also includes fangirls... I'm not entirely sexist, you know) of which the two showrunners completely fell for.

Many of you probably don't care, but I used to write about (well, complain about) the series quite often. I made several criticisms and several predictions that eventually proved to be misguided and incorrect, but made just as many that proved to be on-track and totally right. What's this mean? Nothing, really, except that I'm sometimes right and sometimes wrong, just like everyone else.

Anyway, since my brain is not allowing me to think of a better Irrewind topic, here you go:

"Battlestar Galactica, Season 3: A Bad Start"
The error of this, quite obviously, lies in characterization. Suddenly, because we are expected to acknowledge that 16 months of change just occured, characters are acting what seems to be "out of character." Starbuck, in what was the single most stupid subplot of the premiere, is now acting like a mother to her supposed half-Cylon child. Lee... Read More

"Battlestar Galactica: Returning to Form? Or Saying Goodbye?"
I'm a science fiction geek; most of you know that. And, as such, I happen to really like the SciFi network television series Battlestar Galactica. Generally, it is not only the best science fiction series on the small screen, it is also one of the best drama series on the small screen. Yes, it belongs in the same sentence as House, CSI, Law & Order... Read More

"Battlestar What-the-Heck-tica"
At the end of the second season of Battlestar Galactica, the writers of the show decided to leave us with a bad taste in our mouths by jumping "one year later" and robbing us of much plot and character development. Not a mistake those same writers would let go quietly, they decided to one-up themselves and leave us with a bad taste in our... Read More

"Battlestar Galactica: From Great to Lazy"
Where's my proof? Well, just take a look at the silly "Final Five" Cylon concept. Initially, we were led to believe that there were 12 "human" Cylons, infiltrated in the RTF and causing all sorts of problems. Eventually, only 7 of those Cylons were revealed, leaving us wondering who the last 5 were. But, instead of drawing it out, keeping us guessing... Read More


"Battlestar Galactica: Ultimately Pointless"
If you're even half of a science fiction fan, you know by now that the "re-imagined" version of Battlestar Galactica aired its series finale last Friday. In it, the fugitive Colonials finally defeated the mean Cylons (with the help of some friendly Cylons) and settled on Earth. Our Earth, mind you; not the one they were looking for, which was a... Read More

Thursday, April 15, 2010

F-ing Up

Type. Type. Type some more. Something will pop up in my brain, I'm sure of it. It's not working yet, but that's sort of the point, isn't it? Yet. An implication of an eventuality. But. Maybe not. Where's my cell phone? I need to call my friend. The neurotic one who enjoys fucking her own life up. She claims she doesn't, but I know she does. She keeps doing it, even though she has a good idea of what the outcome will be. Hell, she writes about what the outcome will be, but she does it anyway. She knows what her "yets" will be… read more @ Panoramic Mindscapes

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Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Dogs: The New Kids

It's painfully overdone, isn't it? Referring to pets as children. But they are, in a way... take mine, for instance. Fighting among themselves because of an aborted fight with a stranger's dog. Was one mad at the other for not kicking ass? Or for not letting him kick ass? Or is it all just instinctual response personified by humans with nothing better to do?

Probably the latter, but since that would be no fun, I'll pretend it's not.

Anyway... so last night some douchebag let his dog run around off of a leash. Now, I have no problem with that. In fact, I do it all the time. The difference here is that while I let my all-too-wild dogs go running in the middle of a desert, or a forest, or a mountain range (you know, the middle of nowhere), this asshole let his dog go in the middle of a populated neighborhood.

Caveat #2: Had this particular dog been better-trained, I wouldn't have had a problem, either. But it wasn't. In fact, as soon as it smelled my dogs, it went into kill mode. Too bad a fence was in the way... that dog would've learned what pack dogs (mine) can do in a brawl. Scary, yeah, and I'm not too particularly fond of the fact that my dogs are such competent hunters and killers, but they're animals... and I like letting dogs be canines.

Where was I? Oh, yeah... asshole. So his dog runs up to the fence my dogs are behind. Now, anybody who's been following the adventures of my pets know that my alpha male is kind of a dick. He's not neutered (can't bring myself to do it, no matter how much he deserves it) and at barely 35 pounds, he's managed to make an 80-pound German Shepherd submit to his will. He was a stray when I got him, and he still likes to feed himself from time to time (so I let him... don't tell the people whose pet birds are missing).

So now there's this unknown dog on one side of the fence, and my three dogs on the other. Alpha male goes nuts, strange dog goes nuts. I think that the alpha gave an order to the German Shepherd to kill something, and the next thing I know, the Shepherd attacks my other dog. What. The. Fuck? Honestly, the Shepherd had NEVER done something like that before (first time for everything, I guess). I don't notice it at first, but one of the Shepherd's claws catches my other dog just right and the claw rips open the skin above my other dog's stomach. Yelps of pain (of a type I've not heard before) lead to a few moments of confusion, and then I see the blood when the poor guy tries to clean his wounds.

Ugh. And leave it to the local area to have shut down their own emergency veterinarian hospital (make note, pet owners... if you're going to have a catastrophe, do your best to schedule them during normal operating hours).

So I grab a small first aid kit and apply a dressing to the wound (stomach wounds are tricky... it always cracks me up whenever a TV show or a movie shows a medic applying pressure to the stomach). While I'm doing so, I hear my alpha male start kicking the crap out of the German Shepherd. Literally. There's crap everywhere. The (other) poor guy shit himself.

Wait... I forgot to mention that while my first injured dog was yelping, the owner of the other dog simply sat in his driveway and watched. I should've jumped the fence and kicked his dog in the mouth. Or the owner in the mouth... I'm not a huge fan of hitting animals, even the misbehaved ones (of which I own three).

Okay, back to story: one dog with a tear in his skin; one dog with shit in his coat; one dog sitting there with an Alfred E. Newman expression on his face. I suddenly debate obtaining pet insurance. Then I debate cutting the alpha's nuts off. Then I debate exchanging my dogs for three new cats (just kidding... I still have two cats... they'd eat me as I sleep if I brought home more).

So what do I do? I double-check the dressing, convince my sister to let the wounded dog sleep in the house, then sneak the dog onto the bed. In the morning, I take him to the vet where he gets cleaned up and stapled. There's a moment when his lampshade makes him walk into a door, and while I can't help but laugh my ass off, I remove it from his neck. He's already in pain, why submit him to torture? And mockery from my other pets (oh, snap... there I go personifying again).

I do learn that the alpha male gets seriously depressed when I separate him from his adopted brother. He's outside right now, sitting in the middle of the yard, waiting for the other to come out and play. Unfortunately, that's going to be a few days.

There's no point to this story. I just like talking about my boys (yes, all three dogs and both cats are boys). It's kinda like when people show you pictures of their ugly children and you're forced to sit there and smile. Nyah.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Candy Girl

Sugar, sugar... or something like that. Whatever the taste is, it's wonderful. Her lipstick is my favorite flavor, and I don't even remember what color she liked to wear. My memories of her are always affected by light. A dark shade in blue light, a bright shade in white. Red and yellow, well, her lips just sort of blended in. They have a texture that is just... wonderful. Removing the lipstick with my own lips is my favorite past time. Excuse me, my second favorite. Maybe my third, I don't know. I keep forgetting what she could do with her mouth… read more @ Panoramic Mindscapes

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Monday, April 12, 2010

Southland

It's about to happen again, I can feel it. Yet another of my favorite television shows is going to get canceled and disappear from my continually shrinking "to watch" list. Seriously, I get that one man's trash is another's treasure, but why do the truly great shows never seem to find an audience?

A few years ago it was The Black Donnellys. The year after that it was Journeyman. Next came Life. And now... probably the best of the bunch: Southland. Maybe it's just coincidence that all of these shows originally aired on the much-maligned NBC network, or maybe not. Brilliant shows all. Add to these the disappearance of ABC's Pushing Daisies and my prime time viewing enjoyment has been severely inhibited over the past few seasons.

For those unfamiliar, Southland is yet another cop show. This one, however, more closely resembles popular hospital dramas such as E.R. and Chicago Hope (and, I'll say it... Grey's Anatomy... pardon me while I clean the puke out of my mouth) in that it's an ensemble show. It follows in the footsteps of the great Hill Street Blues (which set the precedent for ensemble cop dramas) and the underrated High Incident.

But it's better than all of those. And it's only been on for 13 episodes.

Some history: the show premiered on NBC in the late Spring of 2009. Its first season ran only seven episodes, probably largely to the fact that NBC can't keep a non-Law & Order show on the air for much longer than that. So then NBC picks it up for 13-episode second season. But, largely due to the Jay Leno fiasco, NBC cancels the show for being "too dark" after six episodes have been filmed, but none aired.

Thanks, Jay.

Anyway, TNT buys the show in toto from NBC and re-airs the first season in a lead-up to the six episodes of the second. The final episode aired last week and now fans of Southland anxiously await TNT's verdict concerning renewal. The show did well, but not well enough to be a shoe-in. And here we are.

Seriously, this gritty look into the LAPD is the best ensemble cop show I've ever seen (and is definitely a candidate for best cop show, period). Extremely well-written, with realistic dialogue (heavy subjects are often casually dismissed, while frivolous topics often take up entire conversations), documentary-style camera work (though I'm tired of hand-held camera, the show's use of digital cameras lends to its tone), and character development that not only provides subplot, but pervades into the main plot.

I've no idea how realistic the portrayal of the show is (I've never been a cop), but it seems far more so than anything else... including that "gritty" (I use this word, but I do hate doing so) NYPD Blue. Maybe The Wire has it beat, but I've yet to watch all of that particular show. And, besides, HBO has a leg-up on everybody.

Still, I do hope TNT does fans of the show a favor and gives us a third season... or the rest of the second season. There are too many character threads left hanging, and I just have to know what happens. The show has done well enough to double TNT's ratings in its timeslot, and it (to the best of my interpretation) is not losing money for the network. So why not?

And besides... it made me fall in love with Regina King. Like... totally.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Gaia's Lust

They say the night is to be feared. She thinks they are all idiots. It is under the stars that the Earth feels free. She relishes her clear skies, her crisp air. And her children seem to finally admire her. Sometimes, she wishes the Sun would fade away. Then perhaps her children might sleep long enough to allow her to recover. She is an old woman, after all, though still beautiful. She is Gaia. And she misses her lover, Ouranos… read more @ Panoramic Mindscapes

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Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Unaccomplishments: April 7, 2010

You ever have one of those days that you actually get a lot of what you needed to get done done? You know... days in which asking a question that ends with the same word repeated somehow makes sense in your head? Or... a rampant use of ellipses seems cool for some reason? Yeah... ?

In other words... well, no. Let me back up. I don't even want to present a question. I merely want to present a statement: I'm exhausted. I don't know why. I took care of a banking matter today. I took care of a Veterans Administration matter today. I'm taking my dog to the vet (as in veterinarian, in case you were wondering if my dog is a former soldier) tomorrow to finally rid him of those nasty tape worms he carried with him from North Carolina. I'm also beginning many sentences with "I" and "I'm." I don't know why. I just am.

Oh, yeah... (look at that ellipses!) I'm exhausted. I guess I didn't sleep well last night. Somehow I passed out on my niece's bed at 4 in the morning or so. I think I was writing something. I know I was conversing with a friend in Australia (time differences suck). Oh, yeah... oh, yeah... I was definitely typing something. Something about people who claim to want to be writers but refuse to write. It was going to be ready today, but it's not. Instead I'm rambling in a zombified and catatonic state. Speaking of cats... there's one trying to fall asleep on this keyboard. The bastard.

I just watched my nephew beat a racing cup in Mario Kart Wii. Not that you care. I don't even care. I just had nothing else cross my mind at the moment just prior to typing that.

Ah, where would the world be without Nintendo? Anybody else think that Nintendo prevented the Cold War? A decade of Atari's lack of rapid technological advancement made better by a little-known Japanese import accompanied by a zapper gun, foot pad, retarded robot, and creepy mushrooms attacking Italian plumbers.

Come to think of it... that kind of sounds like the Cold War, doesn't it?

Anyway, one thing I forgot to do (well, I didn't forget... I procrastinated in lieu of a nap) was to check on if I'm working in Las Vegas next week. I really need to do that tomorrow.

I should probably clean the litter box and clean up all the dog crap in my sister's backyard, too. But I'm sitting in a reclining love seat (alas, with no lover... unless you count Sagremor... one of my cats... who's not even female...) and have no desire to get up. Not even to use the bathroom. Now would be a good time for someone to invent a toilet/couch combination. And deliver it to my sister's house before I have an accident.

Then again... accidents can be liberating. A little humility goes a long way, no?

I have no idea why I wrote any of this. It wasn't to prevent insanity. I'm already insane.

Maybe I just wanted to share it. And my lack of accomplishment today (well, yesterday by this point).

Eat me.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Go Tell It on the Molehill

The first date was fantastic. They were instantly attracted to each other. Both imagined their kids as gorgeous amalgamations of gorgeous people. He had a full head of hair and her breasts were real. It was a match made in Heaven. Good thing he wasn't aware of that.

The second date was better. Conversation was actually paid attention to amid a walk along the beach near the Santa Monica pier. She… read more @ Panoramic Mindscapes

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Monday, April 5, 2010

Irreviews, 2010: Issue VII

Corpse Bride (2005)
Director: Tim Burton, Mike Johnson
Writer(s): John August, Caroline Thompson, Pamela Pettler
Starring: Johnny Depp, Helena Bonham Carter, Emily Watson
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Tim Burton's follow-up to The Nightmare Before Christmas was a long-time coming (12 years or so, in fact), but it was well worth it. Thought not as groundbreaking as its predecessor, neither narrative nor conceptually, Corpse Bride is a more traditional film and is likely to appeal to a wider audience. Funny, witty, and disturbingly cute (or is that cutely disturbing), let's hope Burton knocks more of these types of film out on a more frequent basis.
Verdict: SEE it.

Frost/Nixon (2008)
Director: Ron Howard
Writer(s): Peter Morgan
Starring: Frank Langella, Michael Sheen, Sam Rockwell, Kevin Bacon
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Ron Howard is good at what he does. And what he does is take real (or otherwise plausible) situations and turn them into good dramatic fare. Armed with Peter Morgan's screenplay (based on Morgan's stage play of the same name), Howard gives us a peek into the admirable, controversial, and conniving mind that was Richard Nixon. Surprisingly middle of the road in terms of politics, the film is better for it. Both Frost and Nixon are portrayed as normal people, driving by extraordinary motivations (greed, in this case). Still, the film is nowhere near as good as Howard's best works and is far from great, but it's certainly a good one. Rife with typical "Howard-esque" emotional tugging, it's important to keep in the mind that the film is based on the play and not necessarily on what really happened.
Verdict: SEE it.

Precious (2009)
Director: Lee Daniels
Writer(s): Geoffrey Fletcher, Sapphire (novel)
Starring: Gabourey Sidibe, Mo'Nique, Paula Patton
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A hard-hitting fictional memoir into the life of Clareece Precious Johnson. And I do mean hard-hitting. Brutal, in your face, unapologetic. Every moment of hope experienced by the protagonist is taken away by a moment of despair. Though the film ends on somewhat of a high note, this is not a film with a happy ending. Gabourey Sidibe and Mo'Nique are excellent in their roles, and even Mariah Carey knocks out a very good supporting role. There are character moments that seem a little stereotypical, but perhaps that was the point. Overall, a great film. Unlike The Hurt Locker, this one earns its press.
Verdict: SEE it.

Repo Men (2010)
Director: Miguel Sapochnik
Writer(s): Eric Garcia, Garrett Lerner
Starring: Jude Law, Forrest Whitaker, Alice Braga, Liev Schreiber
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Yet another fantastic concept ruined by an unwillingness to diverge from standard Hollywood action formula. Repo Men is supposed to be about an industry centered on recovering artificial organs from recipients who can no longer afford their installment payments. Sounds great, right? It should've been, that's for sure. Instead we wind up with nothing more than a banal action film, replete with inexplicable love story (Hello!!! The protagonist was happily married!!!), and gratuitous plot twist (and a retarded one, at that). The film looks great for the most part, and is very well acted (Liev Schreiber's the highlight), but the whole thing just falls flat on its face. You can repo my kidney if you refund the ticket price.
Verdict: SKIP it.

Sunshine Cleaning (2008)
Director: Christine Jeffs
Writer(s): Megan Holley
Starring: Amy Adams, Emily Blunt, Alan Arkin
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You ever wonder who cleans up bloody crime scenes? This film answers that question. A dark-ish comedy that revolves around a woman who is having an affair with her now-married high school boyfriend. The high school boyfriend is now a cop. She is a cleaning lady struggling to survive. The cop hooks her up with crime scene cleanup. And, hey, it works as a plot. A subtly funny movie, fairly charming, and very enjoyable (thanks mostly to great performances). There is some unauthentic emotion, as if the writer just wanted to get to the punchline (there's a "CB radio to heaven" motif that is poorly setup and even more poorly executed)
 and the subplot involving the sister and the daughter of a "client" sometimes overpowers the main storyline, but all in all it's worth a watch.
Verdict: SEE it.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Irrewind, 20100403: Pets

I'm an animal lover. I daresay I like animals more than I like humans (yes, I know humans are animals, but I'm being colloquial). Over the course of my childhood my mother had a whole slew of birds (several dozen, if I recall) and I had three dogs, some mealworms, and I vaguely recall a fish (or two... but don't quote me on that second one). After high school I joined the Army and pets were largely absent from my life, save a meager attempt to adopt a stray cat with a roommate of mine back in the late 90s. Since I've been out, though, I've had a ton of animals. Like... almost literally. So I guess it makes sense that I write about them from time to time.

"A Sleepless Night"
On Wednesday, May 24, 2006, I took my dogs for a walk in a wide-open field. Not quite the middle-of-nowhere, but a good couple of miles from the nearest house and the nearest highway. In fact, other than a small livestock farm, a gravel quarry, and a water tower, there's nothing but acres upon acres of playground (for a four-legged... Read More

"Sympathy for a Field Mouse"
I love cats. There was a time when I didn't really care for them, but now I love the damn things. I love them so much, I have six. Sure, two of them haven't come home in a few weeks, but that still leaves me with four, and that's still a lot of cats. They're great, have distinct individual personalities, and they're all named after King Arthur... Read More

"The Irony of Cats and My Life"
I received the first of those nine cats while I was living in Fayetteville, NC, in 2003, I think, from my girlfriend at the time. She had caught Lancelot in her old neighborhood and brought him to me. He was a doll, I must say... big eyes, scared shitless of my dog, Jax, and loved to attack my toes and my eyelids while I slept (the latter of which is... Read More

"Jasper, Part I"
As I watched one at around 11:30 PM, I really didn't know how to react. I worried, I wanted to panic, but I stayed calm. I watched as he tried to fold and swallow his tongue. I watched as he realized that something was wrong. I watched as he went into a panic, running around wherever there was room. I watched as his adopted brother, as... Read More

"Priorities"
Now, my cats adore me. I'm not exactly sure why, as I don't treat them any better than my dogs, but these two cats adore me. They follow me around like begging dogs, watch TV with me, sleep with me, and fight over which one gets to sit in my lap. I haven't been a cat person for very long, relatively speaking, so forgive me if this all comes... Read More

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Overthought and Underdead

"We could do it."

"Are you sure? Like, really sure? Because we don't need this fucked up."

The fat guy might not need this fucked up, but he definitely needed a bath.

"Yeah, we could do it."

read more @ Panoramic Mindscapes

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