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Friday, April 28, 2006

Dr. Metal, PhD

It seems I missed my calling.  I could have been a heavy metal anthropologist like Sam Dunn.  And yes, I’m talking about the music, not geology.  A PhD in metal?  Sign me up, man!  The quotable Dunn:
"Metal is about a release. It's a catharsis, it's an emotional form of music, so that is something that is just often overlooked."
I’d say that’s an accurate assessment, professor.

There’s been a lot of discussion about the new Flight 93 movie.  I’m more of a Netflix guy, so I won’t be rushing out and seeing this one, but I do think I’ll add it to my queue.  First of all, the director Paul Greengrass has style.  Yeah, the Bourne movies were decent thrillers, but if you saw his Bloody Sunday you’ll know what I’m talking about.  That movie, a documentary style retelling of the eponymous riots in Northern Ireland, was riveting not only because of the subject matter, but because of the fly-on-the-wall realism-uber-alles approach.  If you’re expecting a Hollywood movie with slow-motion action scenes and a manipulative score, you’re not going to get it.  Instead, you should expect more Blair Witch than Pearl Harbor.

Of course, this approach seems to be causing some confusion in the movie-going audience.  Hence the Washington Post is there to clear everything up with this story.  The big question, as the Post sees it, is this:
How far can a dramatic movie go in imposing its own reality before it distorts the public's understanding of the event? And with memories of 9/11 still vivid and raw, is it too soon for such films to be made?
The answer to the second question is easy.  For some people, yeah, but whether it’s too soon is such a subjective thing that it’s ridiculous to even ask about it.  The first question, though, the first question is a little more complex.  How far can a movie go?  Only so far.

Any movie, simply based on the fact that it’s a movie, is going to stray from reality.  Take your pick.  The Ten Commandments, Serpico, Braveheart, JFK.  They’re based on real stories, real history, and yet Charlton Heston plays Moses.  No one should mistake movies like this for an accurate depiction of what actually happened.  They are an interpretation, an artistic interpretation, and Art is slave to more than just Truth.  If a movie captures the essence of something, then it accomplishes what it intended and that’s all you really can ask for.

Another uproar that seems frivolous is that over the National Anthem being translated into Spanish.  Even my buddy George, who has a Spanish translation of his biography on the White House website, is getting into the debate.  El Presidente thinks Francis Scott Key’s original text should remain indecipherable to people who don’t speak English, apparently because he doesn’t want them to get that funny feeling on the back of their neck when they hear those last few words, “the land of the free and the home of the brave.”

Admittedly, I haven’t heard what the Star Spangled Banner sounds likes en Espanol, but I’m not offended by the translation.  In fact, I think it might be a good thing.  I hate to be the one to point this out, but Spanish is now this country’s second official language.  Okay, it’s not official…yet.  You can go to the grocery store, the bank, the post office, the laundromat, the mall, anywhere, and the only English word you need to know is dollar.

Maybe all those illegals just need to assimilate, learn English, dammit.  Or maybe we should just acknowledge the fact that a Spanish speaking culture lives alongside us, and it’s not just confined to the illegal immigrant community.  And it’s not waiting for official recognition from anybody to exist.

As Gnomey G commented on a previous post, there is something wrong with Harvard hotshot Kaavya Viswanathan.  Her book is being pulled from shelves.  Ouch.  Can’t even capitalize on the free publicity.  I have no sympathy for the girl.  And it has nothing to do with her apparent originality.  Reading that article a little more closely, I came upon this:
“Ms. Viswanathan worked with Alloy Entertainment in developing the concept for the book and its first four chapters. But she said Alloy was not responsible for any of the copying. Alloy has declined to comment.”
First of all, Viswawhatever is a writer?  And yet she worked with Alloy Entertainment, a “creative thinktank” that churns out teen junk at quite an impressive pace.  Forty books a year is a lot, but the likelihood that most of it is crap is high.  It’s not unthinkable that the copying started as modeling, as one would do after something became a hit (say, Scream, then the rest of the teen thrillers that followed, I Know What You Did Last Summer, Final Destination, etc.), but through sheer laziness and stupidity (she was just a kid, after all) they followed their model a little too well.

Tell you what, though.  As an unpaid young writer who doesn’t have a publisher, it bugs me that these hacks get paid lots of money to come up with crap that’s intended to separate a sucker from his dollar rather than add to the literary canon.  Have you no delusions of grandeur?  No wish for immortality in print?

I do, and though I grovel in obscurity, unknown and unpaid, I’m free to follow my own muses.  I don’t have to cater to the fickle demands of the market.  I just have to write the best possible book I can, and then I’ll worry about the market.

Speaking of my book…doesn’t Saturday technically count as the end of the week?  

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Thursday Post

Yesterday, I tore down the rickety patio cover that had been slapped up in the back of my house before I moved in. The elements had gotten to it and started warping the boards, but it had been a victim of poor construction from the beginning. The plywood was shingled, but never painted or treated. (Guess how long it takes untreated plywood to bow? Not long.) Also, instead of using 4X4s for the posts, they nailed two 2X4s together and pretended they were 4X4s. I’m telling you, as a carpenter, Jesus would be ashamed.

You can see what it used to look like in the background of this photograph of my dog Jack. This is what it looks like now. As you can see, I really need to paint the house. That’s on the to-do list this summer. The piss yellow has got to go! But that begs the question of what color to paint it. Maybe I’ll paint it….purple!

On another front, I’m dangerously close to finishing Chapter Four of Poets Row. (It’s kind of weird to have a title now…) My goal, unbelievably low considering the time I have on my hands, was to finish it by the end of the week and I just might finish it today. It’s taken longer than I thought, which kind of bugs me, but I did get some encouraging feedback from one of my faithful readers that offsets my annoyance.

Chapter Three introduced one of the key conflicts in the story, Max’s relationship with his wife, and it’s seems my portrayal was vivid enough to elicit a strong reaction to the Karen Beatty character. I think the exact word was “bitch,” which is great because that was my intention. She is a bitch, or at least a lot of people think she’s a bitch. She’s a cop, a vet with years in uniform and now a big shot administrative job in Internal Affairs. I imagine you would have to be tough to be a cop, any cop, but even tougher to be a cop working your way up the ladder, and to top it all off, she’s a woman. In her career, she’s seen all the doubters and ignored all the macho comments, and prevailed.

And let’s not forget that she’s married to Max Beatty, which wouldn’t be that hard, if you think about it, unless, like Karen, you viewed him as a disappointment, as a wash-out cop who couldn’t hack it so he’s now hustling for peanuts on the street with his little “detective business.” Soon, you would see Max less as a husband and partner and more as dead weight grabbing your ankles and dragging you down.

Chapter Four gets into a little more of that, as well as some new insights into the Creep from the door man at Charlie’s and the introduction of Abby’s band, the Heartbreakers. (Some of the Heartbreakers are aptly named, too. It’s great.) I’ll post it up as soon as it’s done.

And now the news.

Some free advice for all the perverts out there. If you meet a teenaged girl online and she agrees to have sex with your old disgusting ass, chances are she’s really a cop on a sting operation. Don’t set up a rendezvous unless you want to spend the rest of your life in the sex offender registry or you’re an idiot.

Looking at these guys, I can only surmise they are idiots.

They all thought a fourteen year old girl was actually going to sleep with them. Yeah right.

Dean guitars unleashes a new custom Dime guitar, the Razorback. It’s only a few grand (which means I won’t be getting one anytime soon), but the website includes a few videos of Dime talking about Dean guitars. It’s great. Getcha pull!

Oil companies are loving these high prices. Of course, I’m assuming all this dough they’re making is going to go into investing alternative fuels and such rather than say, a yacht on both coasts, a lodge in Aspen, a retreat in Martha’s Vineyard, a loft in New York and a ranch in Montana.

A bus full of kids crashed into a house. A bus. How could something like this happen?
A 13-year-old student told 9NEWS the bus driver was reaching for a sweater at the time of the crash.
Yep, that’ll do it.

One last thing:

All the go-go girls in hell dance to this song.

Leggo my Elbow

Sleeping on the Job?

Monday, April 24, 2006

A Little Politics

Take that, corporate slave masters.  Eat my bandwidth, whiny IT guy.  Surf’s up, motherfucker.  (Of course, if I had a job, I might have something more intelligent to say, but right now this is kind of like the drinking age issue to me.  I used to care about it, but now, not so much.)

In political news, Colorado Senator Wayne Allard, recently named by Time Magazine one of the country’s five worst senators, will be meeting with members of heavy metal rock group (yeah, that’s clunky but it’s how Koppel would say it) System of a Down to discuss their campaign to get the government to recognize the Armenian genocide.  Do I even need to write a joke?

Speaking of jokes, here’s another hot shot Ivy Leaguer who got caught stealing other people’s stuff.  First Ben Domenech (to be fair, I’m not really sure if he was an Ivy Leaguer or not…) and now Kaavya Viswanathan.  Interestingly enough, her Indian heritage and her ahem, creative writing techniques gave me an idea.  I’m going to outsource a book to a bunch of Indian hack writers, publish it under my own name, sell the movie rights, and retire to Lake Cuomo.  

I mean, why am I slaving over this “original” novel all by myself?  I will say this though…at least I have the balls to steal from real life.

Speaking of real life, I was reading this John Gibson piece and found myself nodding along, saying to myself, you know, John, you’re making some sense.  (This is unusual for John.  His biggest contribution to the national debate was his book, The War on Christmas, currently #145,582 on the Amazon hardcover bestseller list.)  But then I got to the end, and John spoiled it all by blaming the gas crunch on “enviros who won't allow new refinery construction.”  That’s a new term, enviros, but I’m assuming he’s talking about environmentalists.  It sounds great though, almost like virus, which is like the plague, and let’s be honest here, people, environmentalists are like the plague.  They have such vast powers that they “won’t allow” new refinery construction.  They must be stopped.

Oil companies though?  They’re not even mentioned in Gibson’s analysis.  

And finally, FINALLY, I have to tell you what I think about Hillary Clinton.  I think it’s sad that there’s a considerable faction in the Democratic party that are serious about a Clinton candidacy in 08.  I think it’s deplorable that the people of New York voted her to be their senator.  I think it’s an insult to American intelligence that she is among our national leaders.

And it’s not because I disagree with her politics, nor because she’s married to Bill Clinton.  Mostly it’s because she is a manufactured political brand shoved down the throats of the American people in place of real ideas, real principles and real leadership.  From the beginning, her Senate career was geared towards getting her the credibility to run for President.  And what if she is elected?  The history books would have four years of Bush, eight years of Clinton, eight years of Bush, and then how many more years of Clinton?  Twenty plus years of American power concentrated into two small spheres of influence.  That’s a long time for Americans to be politically stagnant.  We can do better.

If somehow, Hillary wins the Democratic nomination, the question I would ask her would be this:  Do you want to lead America and the world into the 21st Century?  Or do you just want to become the first woman president?

Personal ambition and political glory can be good things.  But we’re talking about our lives here, our very society, not some overachiever’s personal playground.  You want to get into the history books, make history.  Don’t just be another image that’s sold to voters like shampoo.

And that’s all I have to say about that.

Nice Day...For a Funeral

It was a cloudy, wet day today, bitterly cold, and after the events of this afternoon, it reminded me of this song.

My Aunt Paula was laid to rest today.  At the Baptist church where services were held, they had a small table full of pictures of a younger vibrant Paula, the Paula I remember, and on the opposite wall, they had the open casket.  Inside was a shrunken, wrinkled, prematurely aged person I didn’t recognize.  I couldn’t even look after that first glance.

This is how I always want to remember Paula.Aside from my Mom, and my cousins Josh and Emily, the only other people that I knew there was my Uncle Tom, who didn’t say anything to us.  And I mean, nothing.  Tom has never really had anything to say to his family.  He’s just kind of there, not involved, still alive, but out of touch.

There were a few things to lighten the somber mood, at least for me.  During the service, while the pastor was going on and on about Jesus’s love, someone’s cellphone started ringing.  They successfully muted it, but it set off a round of barely contained chuckles in the row.  It was the kind of chuckle that would just go away if you could get it out in one big guffaw, but you try to stifle it because it’s just not appropriate to start laughing hysterically in the middle of a funeral service.  And yet the very act of keeping that chuckle in your throat becomes funny, so funny that you feel another chuckle brewing and pretty soon, you’re cracking up and you have no reason why.

Of course, such laughter is contagious, so when I looked over and saw the people in the next row, their bodies shaking in silent uncontrollable laughter, their eyes watering from the effort of keeping it contained, I found myself trying to hide a giggle.  I held my head down and covered my face, tears forming.  I HAD TO LAUGH.  I was infected with the disease.  I don’t know what was so funny, but man, it was funny.

Later, at the cemetery, we were walking amongst the graves to Paula’s final resting spot.  The headstones were a blur of names and dates and surprisingly, pictures, photographic likenesses etched into stone.  I had never seen this before, so took a mental note.  Now that would be cool for my headstone.  But then I heard someone behind me make a remark about the pletherora of Hispanic surnames.  “Hmm, we must be in the Mexican section,” they said.  It probably wasn’t meant to be derogatory, but how could it not be?  Like they segregate the graves by ethnicity, Mexicans over here, Germans and Polacks over there.  Or not even that, what about the fact that Colorado has a huge Hispanic population, many of them not even immigrants since Colorado used to be a Spanish territory before it was an American State?

See, as an observation, it’s ignorant and shallow.  But as comedy, it’s hilarious.

During the prayer, another America’s Funniest Home Videos moment occurred.  When the Baptist minister began with the words, “Our father,” a couple and their small children began to recite the Lord’s Prayer.  They got through the “Who art in heaven part” before realizing it was one of those group prayers where the pastor does all the talking.  It wasn’t funny, per se.  It was…cute.

On another note, I’m dog sitting for a friend who’s going to be spending the next two weeks Down Under.  In the span of twenty minutes, her dog, Calvin, managed to shit on my floor and rape my (male) dog.  Other than that, he seems well-behaved.  These next two weeks should fly by.