Monday, May 31, 2010

Hopeless Memories

I didn't want to write about Memorial Day again... not for a while. But I've been mentally exhausted since Saturday. At first I didn't know why, but then the dawn of realization crept up on me. Blinded me, really. I should've known better, but I can honestly state that even with awareness of the encroaching "holiday," it took me by surprise.

The old (and dishearteningly accurate) cliché is that ignorance is bliss. Memorial Day was a far better weekend back when there was no one to remember. But those days are long ago, never to return. And the fucking list just keeps getting longer.

Sure, I can bitch about the wars, the politics behind the wars, the politicians behind the politics, and the seemingly ignorant voters (blissful voters, perhaps) behind the politicians, but that's never been and never will be the point behind being in the military. Not for me, anyway. Soldiers, sailors, marines, airmen, whomever... they don't care. It's a job. And as blasé as that may seem, it's how most active service-members and veterans view it. There are no politics at the bottom levels. Only co-workers and friends.

Some of these men and women will continue to spend Memorial Day the way they've always spent it. With friends and family at the beach, or at a barbecue, or at an amusement park, or wherever it is their own personal traditions dictate that they go. For many, the status quo is a safety net... their way to cope. For others, it's a preservation of something. But they'll notice something different. They have no other choice.

Me, though. I'll be somewhere, lost in thought. It is a strange biological clock that reminds someone that it's time to be a little depressed and more reverent than usual. There's no point in fighting it. I'm already mentally exhausted, after all... why add physical exhaustion to the fold?

My time in the military - both the direct and indirect involvement - is now safely over. This newer status is likely never to change again and, for that, there is a small modicum of gratitude. But memories of names and faces remain, along with questions both hypothetically useless and hyperrealistically hopeless. Still, for one day at least, I'll allow them to be asked... and offer responses that have no answers.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Alas, You Once-Beautiful Water

*Yep, it's Friday, which means something's on my mind and it can't wait to get off...

A few days ago I posted a piece called "Beautiful Water," ostensibly about a woman but subliminally about the oceans. And, quite honestly, it is definitely about both. Water and woman are wondrously beautiful.

There is irony in the piece, however. I was rather drunk when I wrote it (and can't recall the exact day of its writing... certainly a few days before it posted) and while I was well-aware of this disaster in the Gulf of Mexico, I am forced to admit that it was only marginally on my mind as the piece was being composed. I did recognize its potential resonance, however, and am finding it increasingly difficult to remain calm (in a manner of speaking) regarding the subject matter of "Beautiful Water."

Within the past few hours (of this writing) I watched a video of Jacques Cousteau's grandson, Philippe Cousteau, Jr., examining how both the oil exploding into the Gulf of Mexico and the oil dispersant (known as Corexit) being sprayed by BP are affecting the ecosystem. It made me sick to my stomach. Horrendously so.

Within the past few minutes (just prior to starting this writing) I read a quote from Barack Obama in which he states, "This notion that somehow the federal government is sitting on the sidelines and for the last three or four or five weeks we've just been letting BP make a whole bunch of decisions is simply not true," among a plethora of similar statements.

To that, I say, bullshit. As I write this, it has been 36 days since the oil drill broke. 36 motherfucking days. Patriotic sentiment or no, this is the United States of America, a wealthy country (no China jokes, please) that is the home to some of the best - if not the best - engineers in the world. This oil problem is one that is to be solved by engineers... engineers who should've had a solution in 36 motherfucking hours, not days.

Anybody remember winning World War II? Getting to the moon? Sending satellites and probes to other planets and out of our Solar System? Reaching the bottom of the Marianas Trench (a nod to the Swiss engineers, Italian builders, and American divers)?

And this is why I don't believe Obama. Engineers (be they BP's, the US Navy's, NASA's, the Sierra Club's, Jiffy Lube's, who-the-fuck-ever's) could have solved this problem weeks ago had there been more pro-action by the United States government.

To his credit, Obama is publicly assuming responsibility ("My job is to get this fixed. And in case anybody wonders -- in any of your reporting, in case you're wondering who's responsible, I take responsibility. It is my job to make sure that everything is done to shut this down."), but he's also being superfluously childish in reminding everyone where the blame should go.

We get it. BP is to blame. There is no doubt in this and your saber-rattling, Mr. President, isn't convincing anyone that you actually give a shit.

The blame is obvious and we don't need your mouth to remind us of it. Just shut up and fix the problem. Punishment can come after we save the Gulf. Or, at least, save what's left of her.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

In-Love-In-Law

"You ready?" It is a rhetorical question, though one whose answer is not known, since there is no answer. Actually, there are several answers. All correct. All incorrect. This is simply a situation in which only the future will reveal what should've been said.

Peter winks upon Keith's nervous nod, then laughs when Keith nervously shakes his head. Peter's been married twice already - his third fiancée is sitting somewhere in the pews - and knows the answer doesn't even matter. All can be changed later. Reverted, converted… read more @ Panoramic Mindscapes

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Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Ridley Scott's Robin Hood

Of myths and legends, there are many (hundreds... thousands, even) I love. Regarding mythologies, I can safely claim that the Greek Mythos is my favorite. Regarding legends... well, that favorite would have to be Robin Hood.

Robin Hood, to me, has them all beat. King Arthur included. Maybe it's because I favor archery to swordplay, or maybe it's because Robin Hood has more successfully blended himself with factual history than has King Arthur. I guess I don't really know why, but good ol' Sherwood is just more attractive to me than the Round Table.

From N.C. Wyeth's fabulous oil paintings to Louis Rhead's amalgamation/interpretation of the overall legend; from Errol Flynn to a Disney-animated fox; from Sean Connery to Kevin Costner; from supporting roles in Ivanhoe to cameo appearances in Defender of the Crown... I just love Robin Hood.

So, by now it should be no surprise that I eagerly awaited the latest film adaption of the tale. One directed by an outstanding filmmaker (and a personal favorite), Ridley Scott, and starring one of the better actors of the current generation, Russell Crowe. I mean, these guys did Gladiator together. There was no doubt in my mind that this Robin Hood was just going to be a kick-ass film.

And then I watched it. It was definitely kick-ass. But, somehow, it was also very disappointing.

Before I continue, let's clear this up: Ridley Scott's Robin Hood is a good movie. Not as good as Gladiator (or even Kingdom of Heaven), but it's still very, very good.

But it wasn't Robin Hood.

Oh, sure, the names were the same, the era of history was the same, etc. But it wasn't Robin Hood. It was... it was... hmm... it was simply another "historical war movie." I have to apologize, as I'm really at a loss to explain this. The film just wasn't Robin Hood.

Now, Ridley Scott did a fine job tying the legend in with history (a much better job than Antoine Fuqua did with that King Arthur movie a few years ago) and really did put together a wonderful film... but the "Robin Hood" part of Robin Hood seemed absent (I apologize again, as I'm now repeating myself).

And... and... Russell Crowe was a very good titular character. Many complained about his casting, but like Michael Keaton as Batman, it worked. Not only that, Russell Crowe looks a bit like he could be a wrestler, and anyone familiar with the literary Robin Hood knows that the outlaw is only good at two things: archery and (voila!) wrestling. So Crowe was fine for me.

And Mark Strong rocked as the villain (as he always does, it seems).

But it just wasn't Robin Hood.

All that stated, go see it, for it is a good movie. And it sets itself up for a sequel which (probably unsurprisingly) looks like it will be "Robin Hood." I won't explain more... the film deserves a view.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Bougainville Was Yesterday... And Forever

Brisbane, Australia - December 4th, 1944.

She's eight months pregnant, lonely, and very much in love. She's not seen her husband since she visited him in Townsville and impatiently waits for his letters. So much so that her mother constantly nags her that she's going to go gray waiting for the post. Still, the sense of relief at receiving an envelope more than makes up for the anxiety she feels - never mind the fear she instills in the… read more @ Panoramic Mindscapes

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Monday, May 24, 2010

Merlot and Coffee: The Drinks

It was an accident, I assure you. Okay, not really an accident, more like a drunken discovery that happened due to a drunken thought that was more or less purposeful. In other words, a sober observer might claim it was an accident, but a drunk one would've been like, "Hell, yeah!"

Merlot. Followed by coffee. Is awesome.

Yes. It is.

Okay, so all of those aren't complete sentences (actually, one is... extra points if you know which one...)(sad that many won't know which one is, isn't it?), but the point is valid: a glass (or glasses) of Merlot followed by a cup (or cups) of coffee tastes rather awesome.

I've been touting the combination for a while now, and several of my friends react rather, well, poorly. But I assure you, it tastes great! I don't know why. I don't even care. I just know that now that I'm in the process of eliminating alcohol from my diet completely (sort of), Merlot and coffee has become a pretty fun staple of a lonely night.

Yes, I'm lonely. Seduce me, someone!

Er... forget I said that.

By the way, I'm currently imbibing in coffee after having imbibed in 750 ml of Merlot, so if I fail to make much sense, you know the reason!

By the way (again), I'm not really fond of the exclamation point in writing, though I do recognize its usefulness.

Back to the point: if you find yourself enjoying a glass (or glasses) of Merlot, follow it (or them) up with a cup (or cups) of coffee. You will, I assure you, be pleasantly surprised. Even if you think it sounds disgusting (yeah, you know who you are!).

It's great!

Oh, and if you're wondering why I didn't just call this "Merlot and Coffee" (and added "The Drinks"), it's because I realized I want to save the title for a creative writing piece.

Drink up, bastards!

Friday, May 21, 2010

A War to End All Wars

Three men play a game of Axis & Allies on a dining table. To an observer, it is like any other time they play. Armchair strategies formulating in the minds of those who don't realize just how limited the strategy of such a game is. But the thought process makes them feel smart; superior. As if they control the world. Which, in point of fact, were the world actually relegated to being a playing board roughly 30 inches by 20, they do… read more @ Panoramic Mindscapes

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Thursday, May 20, 2010

Sagremor

He was born sometime in the latter half of 2004, shortly after the first time I moved to Wilmington, North Carolina. It was August, I think... September at the latest. I can't recall exactly, but I do have the date written down somewhere. I watched him come out of his mother, Guinevere, along with his two twin brothers - Arthur and Kay - and his twin sister, Isolde. Yes, he was part of my Cats of the Round Table, and while I fear the worst, I hope that he still is.

But he's probably dead. Being abandoned in a place where coyotes and hawks hunt freely tends to lead to that.

Sagremor wasn't always the friendliest cat, at least not as I remember. He wasn't my favorite - Guinevere and Arthur were - though my ex-girlfriend claims that he was hers (along with Tristan, from Gwen's first litter). As such, the first year-and-a-half of his life is lost on me. Upon preparing the leave Wilmington in early 2006, my ex and I made the decision to give up two of our cats. We had six, and trying to move nine animals (counting the three dogs) from North Carolina to California didn't seem like an ideal situation. So, using a strange method of determination, Kay and Sagremor were selected to be given to my ex's mother.

Now, as I implied, I didn't spend a lot of one-on-one time with Sagremor and even though I wasn't giving him up lightly, I felt that it was something that wouldn't keep me up at night. The day before he and Kay were supposed to go to their home, that all changed. For whatever reason - be it animal instinct or some other paranormal observation - both of those cats knew something was up. One at a time, they came up to me as I watched television, climbed into my lap, and pulled a cute act... cuddling at purring as if begging to stay. Obviously, given my attachment to my pets (and animals in general), they were loaded into the back of the truck with the other seven four-pawed members of my family.

Once in the West, misfortune forced all of us to settle in a small desert town in Northern Nevada. It was there that four of the cats - Isolde, Guinevere, Arthur, and Tristan - disappeared (I later saw Isolde and Guinevere hunting together in the middle of the desert a few miles away, but that's another story). Sagremor and Kay, however, stuck around as if to emphasize their loyalty to me for making the choice to remain loyal to them. I miss the others, sure, and often dream of them, but Sagremor and Kay became my favorites... and not just by default of them being the only ones left.

Sagremor was, by all accounts, a cuddling cat. He liked to hunt, loved the outdoors, but he always came back within a few hours to use the bathroom and take advantage of a free hand for a petting. He had an obnoxiously loud meow, but it was an effective tool to let one know that he wanted inside (or outside, depending). He loved being picked up, held upside like a baby, and having his stomach rubbed. And he had ridiculously long teeth... so long that I often called him "Vampire Cat." He also had a recurring problem with his wrists and could often be seen limping, particularly after attempting too high a jump (usually from the top of a refrigerator).

Like all cats, he hated traveling by car, but he tolerated it as we returned to Wilmington in the summer of 2007, settled in a sub-let, then settled again in our own place (barely 15 minutes from where he was born), then left again in October of 2009. He tolerated living in a garage outside of Fort Bragg while I tried to tie as many loose ends as I could before returning to the West.

Upon our return, I knew that I would need to place him temporarily with someone while I yet again found us a home. So I left him with my sister, thinking he would be well-taken care of and babied as much as he was used to. While I stayed with her, she let him (and Kay) in the house, got familiar enough with him so he'd sleep on her lap, and everything appeared to be going according to plan. But, on Wednesday, May 12, I left for Seattle to take care of some things. I last saw him cleaning his brother's forehead in my sister's living room. He looked happy.

She kicked him out of the house while I was away. In my head, I know what happened, because I know Sagremor very well. No doubt from his "let-me-in" meows being ignored, he took off in search of friendlier pastures... pastures that were never meant for him to find. I've been scouring the desert, all through the night for the past two days, in an attempt to bring him home.

There's a chance this eulogy is false, rash, and the result of too pessimistic an imagination, and I hope this to be the case. But in that there are no signs of him, combined with the strange behavior of his brother - behavior I saw in Tristan when Isolde disappeared - he's probably dead. And I will lose sleep over it.


*Serendipity smiles upon me... within 20 minutes of this post going up, the chubby bastard came home. He'd been gone for almost 8 days. I'll admit, I overreacted. But I'm happy and don't care if you sneer, roll your eyes, or laugh. And neither does his brother, who seems happier than I am.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Rating My Own "Write Anyways"

Yeah, so I caused a hub-bub. Been there, done that... probably going to do it again. Oh, but what hub-bub? Maybe you didn't ask that, but I'm going to assume that you did, despite my disdain for assumptions. Nyah.

Writing, that's what. In case you missed it, I wrote a piece concerning some philosophies I have toward the act of writing. Quick summary: 1) If you want to write, then write. 2) Writer's block doesn't exist. 3) Most of what you write will be crap. 4) Type even when you think of nothing. You can read the original rant here: On Writing: A Philosophy.

To punch those points home, I followed that one up with a list of 11 recent things I've written under the auspices of "type even when you think of nothing." That list is here: Write Anyways.

Naturally (well, in retrospect... I honestly felt that the topic would go away... wrong again!), several people emailed and/or called and asked which of those 11 pieces I felt were crap and which I felt were decent. When I said which were which, I got some strange reactions followed by more questions. So... I'm going to offer a cursory glance at my opinions of my own writing (which, believe it or not, I find rather odd to be doing):

First, the ones I like:
  • Uriah and Uriel: A Dialogue - this one wrote itself, and since it marks the first time that's ever happened to me, I'm rather partial to it.
  • Murder Mystery: An Exercise in Plot Creation - this one also wrote itself and reveals a sentiment that (I believe) all writers have.
  • Judicial Contempt - I'm actually on the fence with this one, but it's a companion to "Uriah and Uriel: A Dialogue," so I put it in this list.
  • Candy Girl - the twist came out of nowhere and was a lot better than where I thought the story was going.
Now, the ones I don't like:
  • Shadow and Sign - chaotic and unclear... definitely not into this one.
  • Overthought and Underdead - there's something to this one, but it's not quite right... something went unsaid, if that makes sense.
  • Go Tell It On the Molehill - to be honest, I find this one a bit charming, even though it's a bit false in sentiment.
  • Gaia's Lust - I'm guessing I was on a Greek Mythology kick. Oh, wait... I'm always on a Greek Mythology kick.
  • F-ing Up - basically transcribed (and fictionalized) a real conversation... more an exercise and less an actual attempt at writing.
  • His Wings Were Not Armor - had high hopes for this one, but my aim was low.
And one I didn't like, but after thinking about where the story will go, I now like:
  • The Window Blinks When the Mirror Sees - of course, this doesn't mean the rest of the story will be any good... still, it proves a point I try to make: what's written can be worked on; what's not written has no chance.
There's also been a new "Write Anyway" since I posted the list (The Scheherazadi, Part I), and I kinda like it.

What does this all mean? Not a damn thing, really. I'm just one opinion among, what? 7 billion? But I was asked, so there's my answer.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Beautiful Water

In the blue, over the blue, twin seas collide. Patience amid chaos, currents of wind and water caught between the hopes of breath and blood, longing for a moment that will never come. Storms of fury, propelled by lust, levied by the construct that some call love. But, they are not, and it is not. Merely the glint of beauty under a sun that shines everywhere, as long as they are nowhere.

In the blue, over the blue, hopes give way to reality. Impatience amid order, nature continuing her course between invention and… read more @ Panoramic Mindscapes

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Monday, May 17, 2010

An Addiction to Coffee... Cups

A couple of weeks ago a friend and I were discussing flaws in people. We weren't being mean or anything, merely noticing that flaws, more so than "perfections," tend to define who a person is. Naturally, the conversation turned to quirks, habits, and the like. Afterward, I started thinking about my own personal weirdnesses, and it was when I asked my sister for a coffee mug (I'd been staying with her for a while and adopted a particular mug as my own) that I realized... I have a strange affinity for coffee mugs.

Here's how it all went down:

"Hey, can I have this?"

"Ugh. Are you trying to steal my Tinker Bell mug?" (Yes, Tinker Bell... if you got a problem with that, we can resolve it elsewhere).

"That depends. If you give it to me, no. If you don't, yes."

Now, I'm not certain if she did, in fact, give me the mug, or just resigned herself to accepting the fact that it was going to disappear anyway... but Tinker Bell is currently in my possession.

I have no idea why I wanted the mug, save that I've been using it several times a day for the past few weeks. It's an ugly sort of green (the color of Tinker Bell's tunic/dress/whatever the Hell it is she wears) with a ridiculous "personality checklist" on it (we are apparently supposed to acknowledge that Tinker Bell is a *check* Frequent Flier, *check* Short and Sweet, and *check* Makes Everything Magical), but I became hopelessly addicted to drinking from it anyway.

And this isn't the first time this has happened (sorry, Tink). Just a few short weeks prior, my mother wanted to throw away a "nasty" coffee mug that belonged to an old roommate of mine. He was an older fellow, pretty cool dude, though he only lived with me for a month. He had moved in a hurry (to be closer to his son, who was in Colorado... we were in North Carolina) and, as such, accidentally left his coffee mug. Not one for wasting things, I kept it and usurped it as my own.

Real coffee drinkers know that mugs get stained, no matter how and how often you wash them. My mother, an OCD cleaner, couldn't accept this fact and tried to throw my mug away (actually, she did... I pulled it out of the trash). She even tried to bribe me by offering me a brand new, clean coffee mug. I declined.

Yes, I think I'm crazy. I must also take the opportunity to apologize for jumps in logic here, but not only have I had a few cups of coffee (out of Tinker Bell, no less), I've also enjoyed a few cups of Merlot (also out of Tinker Bell).

On with the babbling! So... here's my worst offenses: I once worked in an engineering firm. I also once worked in a sound studio (actually, I've worked in sound studios more than once). At both of these particular places, I wound up using Styrofoam coffee cups. Again, I'm not one for wasting, so I wrote my name on each cup in question and reused them... for months. One wound up having the Batman symbol drawn on it, and the other wound up with a happy face. I kept both (even after I left these places) and still actually have the one with the happy face. I'd even still have the Batman one, save for one of my dogs destroying it on accident (which happened quite recently).

Anyway, I'm going nowhere with this. Just thought I'd share a quirk. I think it's time for more Merlot and coffee (which go together remarkably well... don't believe me? Try it!).

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Irrewind, 20100515: Language

I sometimes write about language (specifically English) because, well, I use it. Mostly I write about language because I have a covert desire to study linguistics (strange, though, that foreign language proficiency escapes me) and an overt desire to be a smartass (is smartass one word or two?) (hyphenated, perhaps?) (I bet you just love these rampant parentheticals). Yes, that is a warning not to take any of these seriously.

"Strange Afterthoughts of Language"
1) "I've caught a cold" - First of all, who catches a cold? It's not like my cold dug out under the backyard fence and I have to run him down with a milkbone and a leash. Or my partner and I held a stakeout at a house where a suspected cold might be selling drugs. The damn phrase should be... Read More

"Namely Neologisms"
Neologisms, for those who don't know, are "new words" created to, well, replace old words and phrases. For those who don't get it: neo = new; logo = word; hence, "neologisms," the "s" being an indicator for plural.
And, since I don't have anything better to do, here are eight neologisms that we should adopt into our... Read More

"The First Day of English Class"
 The second thing I would do is make each and every student write a book report on a venerable British classic: Where's Spot? That's right, assholes... you'll be doing a book report on "see spot run." And the caveat? Simple sentences only. Subject. Verb. Object. That's it. Anybody who breaks that rule fails miserably... Read More

"He and She Presents: Xhe!"
One of English's great shortcomings, from a grammarian's perspective, is its absence of neutral-gender singular pronouns. While most are blissfully unaware that the use of "they" or "their" as a singular reference is entirely incorrect, such use remains a bane for those who are actually schooled in the tongue. It's not really a big deal... Read More

"A Thousand Words"
A picture is worth a thousand words, they say. They say a lot of things that are bullshit. What does a picture of bullshit say? Not much; it's just an image. Maybe it connotes what it smells like, but what does it do for someone who's never seen a cow? Nothing. It's just a brown blob melting its way into grass. It's possible that it's still worth a... Read More

Thursday, May 13, 2010

The Scheherazadi, Part I

"A malicious pill for a malicious thrill, eh?"

"I hate it when you talk like that." I really do. There's something about tech-djinn that irritates me. It's either the ridiculous tattoos they sport or the alarming amount of cybernetic implants that stick out of their bodies. But I take the pill anyway.

"How? Maliciously?"

read more @ Panoramic Mindscapes

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*To be continued... maybe... in The Scheherazadi, Part II

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

A Foray Into Comic Books

I'm a huge comic book fan, and anyone who's read me long enough knows this. That stated, I've not actually purchased a comic book in at least three years; probably longer. My heyday of collecting was in the late 90s when DC enjoyed its renaissance and comics in general were of a relatively high quality. No, the late 90s were nothing like the new vision of comic writers in the 80s (darker, grittier, crazier), but the era was certainly a bastion of consistently good writing.

Then it all went to shit.

But, I figured I'd give the comic shop a try, and after watching Kick-Ass (the superb adaptation of the graphic novel) I moseyed my way into a store and picked up three books (and on Free Comic Book Day, no less... talk about serendipity). From DC Comics I grabbed Justice League: Cry for Justice #6 (of 7) and Wonder Woman #43, and from IDW I picked up The Last Unicorn #1.

And here's what I discovered:

I rarely read IDW Comics, save for the occasional Transformers title (once published by Dreamwave, a foolishly-run company that quickly went out of business). Like Dark Horse Comics, IDW specializes in licensed material. Always a fan of Peter S. Beagle's The Last Unicorn, the comic adaptation caught my eye, so I bought it. The art was intriguing, in typical IDW/Dreamwave style, but the story is so fast, so ready to "get on with it," I was bored from page 1. Sad to say, I won't be picking up #2.

Now, I'm a huge DC Comics fan. Their stable of characters and legacies are, far and away, my favorite. Yes, I like Marvel, too, but nobody creates a modern myth like DC does. I'd go on to posit that DC seems to realize that it's in the business of comics and therefore (more often than Marvel) allows itself to "create worlds" in which to play, while Marvel attempts to stay "more grounded in reality." Sure, they wax and wane, but for the most part, that's what I've noticed.

Anyway, long-story short, I've been looking for an excuse to return to comic collecting for a while now. And I've not found it.

Wonder Woman has long been (along with Aquaman) the most popular DC staple who can't seem to hold her own title for very long. Her writers simply can't seem to keep her interesting for a decent period of time. The current writer, Gail Simone, seems to suffer from this shortcoming. Admittedly, as I have a fictional crush on the character, I picked up #43 because the art finally seemed appropriate to the title, and while not the best Wonder Woman work, Nicola Scott and Doug Hazlewood are definitely above par for the book. Still... serious letdown.

The Justice League is another DC staple that enjoys periods of extremely well-put together work and periods of extremely lame work. Browsing through the comic shop, I noticed that one of the best comic writers of the last 20 years, James Robinson, was handling the team. I'm usually hesitant to jump into the middle of a story (particularly a 7-issue miniseries), but I had to see what it was about. And, you know what? I kinda liked it. A bit quick, especially for Robinson (anybody who hasn't yet, pick up his fantastic run on Starman), but the art blew me away. Mauro Cascioli, whose work I've never had the privilege of seeing, is a brilliant artist, ranking with the likes of Alex Ross. I must admit, I've little idea what the overall arc of the story is about, but I was impressed.

Still, I doubt I'll be jumping back into comics full-on for a while. From the books I did pick up, to the advertisements for other books that didn't seem all that great, I'm not confident in spending the money... yet. But I will be keeping my eyes open.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Monsty Eye

*I informed my niece that I wanted to write a story about an eyeball, which somehow turned into "monster eyeball." Naturally, she wanted to help. This is my transcription (and occasional translation) of her story.

This is a story about Monsty Eye. He eats people who have bad dogs. Yesterday, he found somebody with a bad dog, so he took him to his lab. Oh, yeah, Monsty Eye has a lab full of other kinds of monsters, like the Sock Zombie and the Daylight Vampire. The Sock Zombie eats children who wear socks to bed and the Daylight Vampire eats children who sleep with nightlights on. The Daylight Vampire actually came to my house last night, but my uncle bribed him to go eat some other kids by giving him some candy. That's why there were candy wrappers on the kitchen floor this morning.

Anyway, Monsty Eye likes to eat people who have bad dogs. My neighbors have a bad dog. His name name is Lenny and he's a weener dog. I don't know how to spell weener, but my brother might. He's too busy playing Nintendo Wii though. And he peed on the toilet seat this morning. The neighbor girl doesn't take baths, so Monsty Eye ate her last night, I think. She stinks. I hope he ate her. Maybe that will teach her to clean herself.

Then Monsty Eye ate Cameron, who my uncle has never met, but I told him that Cameron has a bad dog. Cameron is my friend, but he should be eaten by now, so I guess I won't be playing with him anymore.

Then Monsty Eye ate Logan, my brother, but he left me alone. Logan doesn't have dogs, but my uncle's dog Jasper (he's a German Shepherd) barked at Logan because Logan is bad. So Monsty Eye ate Logan, because he also likes to eat bad people who dogs don't like.

Monsty Eye is a monster eyeball. I forgot to tell you that. But that's how Monsty Eye got his name.

Then Monsty Eye ate Colin, my cousin, because Colin is a brat and monster eyeballs don't like brats, either.

The next day the monster eyeball was full so he went back home to his lab and never came back again.

The End.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Irreviews, 2010: Issue VIII

Clash of the Titans (2010)
Director: Louis Leterrier
Writer(s): Travis Beacham, Phil Hay, Matt Manfredi, Beverley Cross (1981 screenplay)
Starring: Sam Worthington, Liam Neeson, Ralph Fiennes
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A remake of the campy and charming 1981 classic, this film is neither campy nor charming. It feels like it should've been campy, but it wasn't. Bad move. Break-neck pacing eliminates any chance of decent characters to emerge, and the plot is, well... somehow it manages not to be as good as the original. Not initially intended for a 3D release, the 3D scenes definitely feel tacked on and a bit rushed (the harpies or whatever they are look like crap), though the final Kraken battle does look pretty awesome. It's a pity the story didn't stay closer to the source material.
Verdict: Eh... SEE it, but wait for home video.

How to Train Your Dragon (2010)
Director: Dean DeBlois, Chris Sanders
Writer(s): William Davies, DeDeblois, Chris Sanders, Cressida Cowell (novel)
Starring: Jay Baruchel, Gerard Butler, Craig Ferguson, America Ferrara
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Not only one of the best animated films to come out in this young century (yes, that's acknowledging Up and Wall*E), it's one of the best films of 2010. The advertisements claim the 3D scenes give Avatar a run for its money, and it's true (although, let's be fair, it's easier to "3D" a cartoon than it is a live-action film). But, 3D or not, the story, the characters, the tone... Hell, everything about this film... is brilliant.
Verdict: SEE it! And again!

Kick-Ass (2010)
Director: Matthew Vaughn
Writer(s): Jane Goldman, Matthew Vaughn, Mark Millar (comic book), John S. Romita, Jr. (comic book)
Starring: Aaron Johnson, Mark Strong, Nicholas Cage
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Matthew Vaughn's follow-up to one of my favorite films (Stardust) is damn close to being another of my favorite films. Satirical and extremely violent, the creators of Kick-Ass take the Batman mythos and turn it on its head. The result? A satirical and extremely violent movie that is fun, engaging, and a reminder of what compelling entertainment should be. Yes, I understand the "controversy" behind creating a young character who is so efficient a killing machine (the character in question is about 11, and a cute girl), but it's misguided. Batman and Robin (excuse me... Big Daddy and Hit-Girl) have rarely been so bold.
Verdict: SEE it. Fantastic all-around, but definitely NOT a movie for young children.

The Losers (2010)
Director: Sylvain White
Writer(s): Peter Berg, James Vanderbilt, Andy Diggle (characters)
Starring: Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Zoe Saldana, Chris Evans
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Both an update to the original DC Comics "The Losers" and homage to The A-Team (which got its own movie), The Losers is a film that struggles to find its footing, but is nevertheless enjoyable. Each of the five male members of the Losers are portrayed by ridiculously charismatic actors, and the female member (portrayed by Zoe Saldana) is, well, rather hot (and equally charismatic). Jason Patric, the film's villain, is far too over-the-top and his subplot equally so. In fact, were it not for the villain, this movie would've been way better than it was. Put it this way: the whole of the film is less than the sum of its parts. But it's still better than a lot of films out there... and the characters (the protagonists, anyway) are classics.
Verdict: Hmm... not for everyone, but action and comic book fans should love it. SEE it.

Passion in the Desert (1997)
Director: Lavinia Currier
Writer(s): Lavinia Currier, Martin Edmunds, Honoré de Balzac (story)
Starring: Ben Daniels, Michel Piccoli
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I have wanted to see this movie ever since it came out. I almost watched it in 2009, but thanks to a DVR hiccup, the recording was corrupted. And now I've finally seen it. This is a beautifully-shot movie that is ultimately about, well, not much at all. Rife with "hasty scenes" meant to be shocking or otherwise disturbing, the overall story fails miserably at being moving or otherwise emotionally engaging. Sure, animal lovers will wax fanatic at the interaction between the protagonist and the leopard he befriends in the desert, but the silliness and too-fast pace ruin any chance of this being considered "artistic."
Verdict: SKIP it. You're not missing much, I assure you.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Write Anyways

So here they are... my most recent examples of "writing anyway." These are all the product of not having a clue or an idea in my head and simply hitting the letters on a keyboard until something (hopefully) coherent came out. Some are decent, maybe even good. Others are utter crap. Regardless, they were written under the auspices of what others call "writer's block." Which, by the way, does not exist.

For your enjoyment (or disdain):

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Correspondence

Enclosed is a photo with my little league baseball team. I'm the cute one. - KW

Yes, you are cute. I find baseball boring. I prefer football. - AM

Football? I didn't know the French played football. - KW

You call it soccer, silly. Soccer. What an ugly word. - AM


read more @ Panoramic Mindscapes

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Wednesday, May 5, 2010

On Writing: A Philosophy

People have asked, inquired, mused, implied, commented, criticized, and complained. Normally, such things would be ignored by me, but it's been pervasive enough that I've decided to address it.

What am I talking about? Writing, that's what.

Now, I'm the first to admit that I'm not a writer, so don't read this with that perspective in mind. I've been published, but nothing that was a big deal. What I am, however, is a reader (yes, there are paid readers out there). And I used to "run" writers. Usually screenwriters, but there's been one or two who've gotten memoirs and short stories published under my watch. Not that they really needed me... they were just lazy (don't tell them I said that).

Anyway, long story short: writers need output. Writers write, after all. Those who talk about writing (or worse, talk about "ideas") and never write are most certainly not writers. It's no different than someone wanting to be a baseball player but never playing baseball. Intent is rarely judged in any professional world. Execution, however, always is.

There are many "writers" out there who only like to share what is invariably referred to as "polished" or "ready" work. While I admit that this is a luxury that makes the process ideal, it's not really how it works. Editors and readers typically get involved rather early in the process and, in my experience, actually love to do so. There's always a cringing moment when one starts to read "polished" or "ready" material, because it's rarely anything but.

One of the tenets I operate on and like to instill in aspiring writers that I know and/or work with is that 90% of everything one writes is crap. It's true of the great authors, it's true of the bad authors, and it's true of aspiring authors and wannabe author/bloggers (certainly it's true here). 90% of what you write is crap. But everything written, no matter how bad, always provides something usable (such as character or plot) or editable. Getting something written allows the process to continue. WRITING IT ALLOWS THE PROCESS TO CONTINUE. Those who talk about writing will be and are relegated to, well, talking about writing.

I am not a producer. I can't do a fucking thing with your idea (which, as far as producers are concerned, probably involves hiring a WRITER to WRITE it). What I can work with is a draft, no matter how bad anyone thinks it is.

And the more one writes, the larger that 10% is going to be.

What's the moral of this rant? Write anyway. Type anyway. Writer's block is bullshit and doesn't exist, unless your hands and fingers are broken (and even then, there's voice recognition software to get around that obstacle). I "write anyway" all the time, less as an exercise and more to prove my point. And guess what? At least 90% of that stuff is crap, and I'm being generous. But it's workable material, rather than vague ideas in a head that refuse to come down and put themselves on paper (virtual or otherwise).

Writers write. So write. Accept that it'll be crap 9 times out of 10. If it's written, it can be improved. If it isn't, well... keep talking.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Tender Are the Young

Diana hates living in the middle of nowhere. She's only 13 and, practically, is still quite adaptable, but 12 years of being a city girl is a hard habit to break no matter the circumstances. It wasn't her fault that her father was laid off, after all, so why should she be punished for it? She misses her friends, her old school - everyone here just seems like a backwards country blumpkin - and the reassuring noises of traffic and city life. Even the fresh air irritates her, though even she might admit it does so only because it's not city air. Her city's air… read more @ Panoramic Mindscapes

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Monday, May 3, 2010

Separation Anxiety

I'm in the process of giving up my pets, and it sucks. No, it's not a permanent situation, merely one borne of necessity as I attempt to resettle into an oversized city and get back to work. As soon as I'm able to acquire a place with a decent backyard, I'll retrieve my four-legged companions (all five of the bastards) and live happily ever after... at least in terms of cats and dogs.

I've done it before with two of my dogs (Jasper and Starbuck), but this will mark the first time that I'll be separated long-term from my alpha male (Jax, who's very close to getting his nuts chopped off) and the two most loyal cats I've ever known (Kay and Sagremor). Oh, there's a possibility Jax's adopted mother won't be able to handle him and he'll wind up with me in the city of angels, but until that presents itself, I'm planning on not seeing him for a while.

And it sucks.

I'm not a worrier. That gene seems generally absent from my DNA, but I am going to feel a bit sad at not being able to run and spoil these guys (yes, they're all male... that's another story). I know this beyond any reasonable doubt. A while back I drove to Las Vegas for some work. This drive marked the first time I made a long-distance drive without my dogs in the back of my truck. I couldn't help but checking the bed every so often to make sure they were doing okay, even though there was nothing back there.

And now I'll be making another long-distance drive to drop them off with a friend of mine so I can concentrate on getting back into the industry that I left over a year ago. And it sucks. I can already see myself suffering from depressing separation anxiety on the drive back. It's bad enough that I've already left my two cats with my reluctant but willing sister. I feel as though I'm somehow punishing them for their loyalty (that, too, is another story).

But, people have to do what they have to do.

It still sucks.

Sucks, sucks, sucks, sucks, sucks.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Irrewind, 20100501: Metaphor II

When I started these Irrewind thingies, I led off with a group of writings I call "metaphoric prose." Sounds obvious, I realize that, but to me "metaphoric prose" just means a poem too lazy to be in a poem format. Thanks to some unexpected motivation last summer, I sort of went on a tear of the things and knocked quite a few of them out. Not my favorite style of writing, but I found them useful when writing other things, and I did enjoy them.

Anyway, here are more:

"The Strange Walk That is Memory Lane"
Nostalgia's a strange thing. Okay, maybe not, but it is a curious thing that so many find reaching into mail boxes on memory lane such an addicting sensation. Most of the time nothing is there but junk mail. Sometimes, however, letters completely forgotten are pulled out and delivered anew. Maybe it's a memory sent, maybe received... Read More

"Beauty; Fear: A Fairy Tale"
Fear in beauty. Beauty in fear. Opposite ends of a compass that only points in one direction. Shy in the face of a beautiful woman is the same as fear in the face of drowning. The more beautiful it is, the better to kill you with. The curious snake bearing poisoned apples, the avalanche of pure white sliding down a mountain, a smiling cat... Read More

"Memoir of a Forgotten Memory"
There's a friend lost somewhere. There always is. Someone or something that brought out childhood laughter, someone or something that was there to hold when the sky fell. A neighborhood crush, maybe a teddy bear. A random snippet of a show on television. A sad movie whose title was never known. Or, perhaps, the perfect angle... Read More

"Sine Nomine"
It's imagined many ways. To the left, to the right, straight ahead with eyes closed and the hope that nothing goes awry. So many thoughts into so few spans of time. A sensation longing to endure, betrayed by a lifetime seemingly unwilling to begin. In the dark, a mirror or a photograph, perhaps real or just of the mind's eye... Read More

"The Whale and the Albatross"
It's empty out here, but there's air to breathe closer to the surface. Silence is relative, the gentle breeze and the crest of wave so familiar they make no noticeable sound. Cloud and island are all that break the landscape of blue deserts. A setting sun and its reflection point the way home and to a much needed rest. Tomorrow, sunrise will... Read More