Thursday, June 14, 2012


I saw Prometheus earlier today and, well, it just doesn't work.  Some of it does, little pieces here and there, but as a cohesive's a noble attempt but still a failure.  There's a lot of goofy plot stuff (which you can read about in the pro reviews) but the main reason why it doesn't work, I think, is that you can't tell if it's just vague or undeveloped as an idea.

I'm actually glad I read every spoiler I could because if I didn't, it might have been a little confusing.  Hell, even with all the spoilers, it's confusing.  Things are intentionally left unexplained, other key facts are only hinted at.

Much has been made of the black goo, and for good reason.  What the hell is that shit?  Some kind of magic liquid.  Close-ups showing moving sparkles hint that maybe it's nanomachines or something in the goo.  And what is it for?  Well...that depends.

It could be used to create DNA on a barren planet, as you see in the first scene.  Or it could make your eyeball do weird things and make your veins go black.  It could turn a worm into a penis-snake.  It can turn a jerk scientist into a mutant.  It can be transmitted sexually.  I suppose it could probably do whatever was needed for the plot at that moment.

Apparently the aliens are intending on bringing it back to earth to wipe out mankind, but something happened at their base and they were all killed.  Don't ask me what, because I don't know.  You see some holographic projections of them running around, but you don't know what's happening.

They're weird people, these Engineers.  They create mankind, keep coming back to check on us, telling us about these star maps, which people then draw on cave walls.  But they also wear these suits (the Space Jockey suits from Alien) and fly their ships with flutes.  Why do they tell us to come to their black goo factory?

I dunno.  I thought they were going to bring the black goo to us.

But at any rate, all this is just the backstory for a dumb horror movie plot where the characters do dumb, inscrutable things.  If they weren't so dumb, there would be no movie.  The rich billionaire financing the project because he wants to live forever?  Dumb.  His spoiled daughter heading up the expedition?  Dumb.  Bringing the archaeologists along?  Dumb.  Programming the android to mess around with the black goo?  Dumb.  Reaching out to touch the penis-snake?  Dumb.

Like I said, I'm not sure if this movie is just vague or undeveloped, but I'm kinda leaning towards undeveloped.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Oh Rand

Via Dave Weigel, I discover that many Ron Paul fans are not happy with Rand Paul for endorsing Mitt Romney.

There's something I don't get, though.  Rand Paul.  Ron Paul.  Mitt Romney.

Aren't they all, you know, Republicans?  Who did you think you were supporting, Paulites?

Free Advice

Yes, I know it's outrageous that a McDonald's "chef" said, "I don't see anything on the menu that's unhealthy."

All you're going to do is convince them to start marketing over-priced oatmeal and apple slices as "healthy alternatives."  And that's the problem.  The marketing.

Lemme sing you a few notes:  "Ba-dup-ba-ba bah."  You finish the rest.  Everybody now:  "I'm lovin it."

But are you?  Are you really loving that frostbitten paper-thin burger, the little squirt of ketchup way over by the edge, the bagged onions bathing for who knows how many months in who knows what kind of chemicals?  The too-salty fries?  The poorly mixed fountain drinks?

Be honest with yourself.  You're not loving it.  You wish you were eating a decent meal prepared by someone trying to impress you.  The good news is You can!

Just not at McDonald's.

Last Night on the Night Shift

And I can't wait till it's over.  I'm looking forward to sleeping at night again.

Helsinki Syndrome*

I hate to say it, but part of me hopes Mitt Romney wins the presidential election.  It's not because I prefer his policies over the incumbents.  It's because I'm sick of the excuses and the finger-pointing and the hostage-taking.

I want to say, "Here, you got what you wanted.  You'll get your tax breaks and giveaways.  You'll get your union-busting and deregulation.  Once again, you'll have someone in office looking out for only you.  Now quit your bitching and go create some new jobs."

Of course, I know that's not going to happen.  The jobs will continue to be shipped off to the third world.  Proft-making will continue to be the primary motivation.  The 1%'s wealth will continue to grow while the 99% will continue to stagnate.  And the truth is that they don't have to do anything nefarious to keep it like that.

On a level playing field, they will kick your ass.  They can outspend you, outmaneuver you, and outlast you. Work as hard you want --there's merit in that-- but don't labor under any illusions that hard work will set you free.

No, having enough money to hire someone to do your work for you will set you free.  Just ask your boss.

So good luck, Mitt.  Hope you do well.  Hope you accomplish what you want to accomplish.  Hope the economy recovers and some new jobs are created.  I want one.

*  This is a joke from Die Hard.  As in Helsinki, Sweden.

Calling Bullshit

Yesterday news broke that Commerce Secretary John Bryson was involved in a hit and run collision in California this weekend.  Details are scant, but he's saying that he "suffered a seizure" and blames some medical issue.

I seriously doubt that.  And I know, I know, I'm a liberal so I'm supposed to buy this seizure story, but a quick look at the known details raises a lot of suspicions.  The reporting says:

Bryson, who was driving a Lexus, rear-ended a Buick occupied by three men that was stopped at a railroad crossing in San Gabriel, said the police statement Sunday.

"Bryson spoke with the males, then left the scene, hitting the same car again as he left," the statement said.

The men in the Buick followed Bryson while calling 911 to report the accident, it said.

Bryson then drove to the neighboring city of Rosemead, where he hit a second car, according to authorities.
 I'm sorry, but not all of this can be explained by a seizure.  If we're just talking about rear-ending the Buick....maybe.

But Bryson got out of the vehicle, engaged the people in the Buick, then fled.  That may not seem like a fair assessment of what happened, but he hit the Buick a second time as he was leaving, which indicates some level of haste.  Plus the occupants of the Buick reacted in a way that indicates they thought they were dealing with a fleeing criminal as opposed to a man with a medical problem.

Then after fleeing the initial collision, Bryson drove almost two miles away and hit another car.  (I looked it up on Google Earth.)  Police found him unconscious behind the wheel at the scene.

The sequence of events, the timing, the distance, the reactions, all of this makes the seizure story the least plausible explanation.  When did he suffer the seizure?  Before the initial collision?  Was he seizing when he got out to engage the occupants of the Buick?  Did he have another seizure that caused him to get back into his Lexus and drove off? 

And how to explain the second car two miles away?  After effects of the previous seizure?  Another seizure?

Indeed, I think it's more likely that he was on something (bath salts?) or tired or just plain careless.  Of course, none of those things are a defense for felony hit and run charges, so I can see why he's going with the seizure thing.

For what it's worth, his colleagues at the Commerce Department don't seem to be buying it either.  They released a statement that mentions the seizure defense, but it's so carefully worded that one can almost read between the lines.

"Secretary Bryson was involved in a traffic accident in Los Angeles over the weekend," said a statement by Commerce Director of Public Affairs Jennifer Friedman. "He suffered a seizure. He was taken to the hospital for examination and remained overnight for observation. He was released and has returned to Washington. The investigation is ongoing."
Yes, he was involved in "a traffic accident."  Two of them, actually, miles apart, and he fled the first one.   They also offer no details on timing, duration, or severity of this alleged seizure.  Indeed, if it's ever established that the seizure (if there was a seizure) had nothing to do with the two accidents, they have plausible deniability on this one.  "Hey, I didn't say the seizure caused the accident.  I just said he had a seizure."  Also notice how the hospital visit is mentioned, but not the felony citation.  It's a spin statement cooked up by publicists and lawyers.

Bryson has already taken a "medical leave" from his post at Commerce, but he better hope that blood test comes back negative.  I have a feeling jail time is in his near future.  He's just lucky he didn't kill anyone.

I Heart Mindy

I'm looking forward to Mindy Kaling's new show from Fox.  I have this weird thing for brown girls with black hair (I love em!) plus the show looks hilarious.

I didn't realize she had written a book, a humor book, not a memoir.  (Maybe it's a memoir....but hey, I'd say Mindy Kaling's experiences are a little more unique than yet another tale of yet another sober addict.) 

This part flat out cracked me up:
However, you should know I disagree with a lot of traditional advice.  For instance, they say the best revenge is living well.  I say it's acid in the face --who will love them now?

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Back to the Grind

I've been out of writing practice for a while. Not blocked, just lazy and unmotivated. After a while, though, the muscles atrophy. If you give up, no big deal, but if your brain is still coming up with shit, stories and characters and scenes, and you have weak, scrawny muscles? That's no good.

Gratefully the old brain is still ticking. It's full of ideas, some of them admittedly silly. But silly or not, I still believe in them. This one here is an idea I have for doing a kind of hardboiled western. It's a gangster story set at the turn of the century, very loosely based on the adventures of notorious Denver con-men Soapy Smith and Lou Blonger. Serious literature? No. It's a hardboiled western.

Tell me what you think of this:

The blade hissed each time Sue Ellen dragged it across the strop, a reassuring sound to JR Smith, who was at the mirror lathering his face with a brush. The last time Sue Ellen had shaved him, the blade didn’t hiss, it rasped against the leather, and the resulting shave had left his face chafed for days. After that, he refused to shave for weeks, his beard coming in full and wiry, and when Sue Ellen couldn’t endure it any longer, she had swiped a sharp new razor and some fancy shaving powder from a barber across the street. Now the frothy powder tingled JR’s cheeks.
Tucking a towel into his shirt front, JR took his chair and said, “Try and avoid any nicks, darling. I have quite enough scars.”
Sue Ellen held the blade up, squinting at it. She licked a thumb and tested the edge, saying, “I ain’t making no promises. Who knows? Might even slip, cut a vein.”
“Now that would be tragic, darling. Whatever will I do then?” JR said, scratching at a spot of foam at his throat. He opened the newspaper and leaned back in his chair. “Let’s get on with the execution, shall we? My face is a smelter.”
Leaning in, Sue Ellen said, “Those lips might come off if you keep moving them. Be still.”
She tilted his head back and JR closed his eyes. The first stroke slid across his cheek smooth as butter. Dropping the newspaper in his lap, he let out a purr and grinned. He said, “Five stars, darling, five stars.”
A few moments later there was a pounding on the door, Doc Baggs in half a panic, saying, “Boss, boss. Open up. Boss, you in there?”
JR growled out a “What?” His contented smile disappeared into the angry folds on his face and became the snarl of a mongrel.
Sue Ellen rinsed the blade in the water bowl and stepped back. Years of experience had given her a keen understanding on the reach of JR’s volatility and just how far one must stand to avoid it. She held the razor tight in her fist, just in case.
Through the door, Doc said, “Rausch is out. He’s out, boss.”
JR ripped off the towel and tossed it. He stomped over to the door, nearly ripping it off its hinges. Standing in the doorway, Doc Baggs blinked a few times at him.
“Say what?”
Doc stammered, “The election. Rausch didn’t make it. Rutledge got the nod instead. Can you believe that?”
Shaving cream dripped off JR’s chin and fell in big globs on the floor. He said, “Don’t just stand there. Get in here. I want details.”
Doc came into the room, nervously flipping his hat in his hands. He was shorter than JR but probably outweighed him by a hundred pounds. Sweat dripped from his balding head as he paced, breathing heavy. He poured himself a drink with shaking hands, gulped it down, then poured another for sipping.
JR said, “Alright, calm down. No one’s died. Our fortunes do not depend solely on incumbent Rausch.” JR claimed his chair again and gestured for Sue Ellen. “Darling, can we finish up here? I must attend to these affairs.” Sue Ellen resumed her work but the way JR wagged his finger at her took away her gentle hand.
As she scraped and gouged, JR thought aloud. “Rausch was weak, a sheep before wolves. His fall was inevitable. Rutledge is not yet what we could call a loyal compadre, but he is a goon and all goons have their price. He may yet be even more corruptible than our Rausch, we shall see. But do tell me, where did such a pliable lump of horseshit get his votes? This I must hear.”
“All through the east,” Doc said, “and most of the north. Rausch had a minor lead in the south, nothing spectacular, but that didn’t last long once the dairy boys got to the polls. Then it started coming up Rutledge, Rutledge, Rutledge. They got two more districts to call, but word is that Rausch is going to concede. The election office says he’s down by twelve points. Twelve points. It’s insurmountable, boss.”
“An unfortunate turn, no doubt,” JR said. “Where is Rausch now?”
“The Windsor ballroom, crying into his champagne.”
“As he should be. Get down there and keep him occupied. I’d like to speak to Rausch before his concession speech, and since I paid for the man’s campaign I shall not be refused. Make that clear, Doc. There shall be no speech until my speech. We have much to discuss, our former Mayor and I.”
“You got it, Boss.”