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Monday, December 22, 2014

King Nerd

So I was looking at NFL standings yesterday and noticed that the Carolina Panthers are leading the NFC South division with a losing record.

They're 6-8-1, which means they're slightly better than the 6-9 Falcons/Saints and the 2-13 Bucs.  That's got to burn teams like the Browns, say, with their 7-8 record and no chance of making the playoffs.  

Suffice it to say, whoever wins the NFC South....they suck.

Gas Prices

For the last couple of years, I've implemented a weird strategy to insulate myself from wild swings in gas prices.  I never put more than $20 in my tank at a time.


I never "topped her off," but I also never got sticker shock.  It was a matter of practical budgeting, of saving a few pennies by not paying last week's prices for this week's gas.

Now gas is just over $2 a gallon and my $20 goes a long way.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Top Ten Feminist Fiascos of 2014

Tyler Cowen says:
This is a good example of how media focus on events which raise or lower the status of particular groups, rather than focusing on events which actually impact human welfare.
Then links to this piece, written by a feminist, about feminists.  What got me about it, though, was the critical tone.  Witness:
#Shirtstorm: In mid-November scientists managed, for the first time in human history, to land a robot on a comet hurtling through space some 25 million miles away from Earth. But the reaction of feminists was: Who cares? They were fixated on the fact that one of the physicists, Matt Taylor, wore a shirt printed with ladies in lingerie during a live screening of the feat. A blitzkrieg of Taylor-bashing Twitter-bombing ensued, on the theory that the shirt somehow discouraged women from entering STEM fields. Yes, feminists thought the best way to entice women into STEM was to disparage a monumental STEM achievement.
YES!  

Monday, November 24, 2014

Blood in the Water and the Sharks are Circling

I think it's highly likely that Bill Cosby is a grabby perv.  But it's been pretty disgusting to watch the pile-on in the media.  Accusers are popping up everywhere, and each one lends credence to the others.  They can't all be liars, right?

And yet, the whole thing makes me uncomfortable.  It seems to me that this is more about ruining an undesirable man's reputation than about seeking some kind of justice. 

If Bill Cosby is a rapist, why is it sufficient to see his projects canceled?  Shouldn't he be in prison?



The other thing that bothers me is that now that Cosby has been pegged, that leaves other people asking "Who's next?"

I swear, sometimes it seems like this country has been possessed by the spirit of Ulrike Meinhof



Monday, November 17, 2014

The Offensive Shirt

There is no hope for humanity.

Perhaps you heard some scientists landed a probe on a comet.  Pretty cool.

Perhaps you heard one of those scientists wore a shirt during the press conference that some people felt was inappropriate.  It covered up all offensive man-parts, it's true, but it did so featuring cartoon images of sexy women. 

That's a big no-no in our fragile culture.  I mean, think about the children. Some little boy is going to see that shirt and start to think women are little more than sex objects.  Some little girl is going to see that shirt and commit suicide because no matter what she does, she will always be little more than a sexy cartoon on a misogynist's shirt.

Meanwhile, the scientist was made to apologize for his shirt.  Forget the comet, scientist dude.  Let's talk about your offensive shirt.


Yes, because we're children...

The Shower Curtain

Even when my bathroom is clean, it's filthy.  Construction is complete.  Final step:  Decorating with profanity.

Huge props to my Mom, who got me an electrician for my birthday.  I've replaced light fixtures before.  Shoulda took a class before I attempted to replace a junction box....

Friday, October 31, 2014

Ghetto Bathroom

So I've been working on my bathroom.  I had to replace the tub spout, redo some of the walls, put up a tub surround, install a new shower curtain rod, and I still have to install a new light and paint.

I didn't take any "before" pictures because it was truly awful, but here's a "during:"
After:
Before:
After:
It's just a glue-up plastic tub surround, nothing fancy.  Someone else can tile it if they want.

I've just got the finishing touches left, a new coat of paint for the whole room --No more blue-- and some caulking.  I ordered a new shower curtain, too, one perfect for a bachelor of questionable taste.

It has a ouija board on it, as well as a couple of Dia De Los Muertos skeletons and scrawled across the top, it say, "Drop dead motherfucker."  I'll prove it next week.

You thought I was kidding about the ghetto bathroom thing.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Everything You Wanted to Know About the Australian Film Industry

One thing I'm becoming more aware of as I get older and the world shrinks ever more is how much of my perspective is an illusion of circumstance.

 Take, for instance, this article about the Australian film industry in the Sydney Morning Herald.  It's an interesting read, but it contains some sentences that floored me:
Homegrown films are likely to account for less than 3 per cent of the domestic box office in 2014.
To translate that into American, that means that Australian films account for less than 3% of the Australian box office.  What the hell?

I thought they had a film industry down there.  All these Aussie actors, all these big movies being filmed down there.  But I had it wrong. The Aussie actors move to America because there's no work back home, not because they're cultivated from a thriving film culture.   (You know, like our beloved Brits.)  

The big Hollywood films being produced down there?  It's not because their film infrastructure is cheaper, per se.  It's because their film infrastructure doesn't exist.  It's an untapped resource, the tar sands to L.A.'s depleted oil pump.

The article has more:
It has become a truism recently to say Australians are staying away from Australian films at the cinema.
As an American, this is almost inconceivable to me.  I mean, I've seen a lot of foreign films, but for every film you see...wow.

Hollywood has truly colonized the planet.

The article goes on to explain some of the reasons Australians don't like Australian films.  They're too dark, they're too stereotyped (or the wrong stereotype), too critically disdained, too limited in their release.

But eventually it gets to, for me, the most interesting part:
Australian films generally hit the cinemas, garner whatever scant attention they can, then disappear. Around 120 days later, they crop up on DVD, Blu-Ray or on iTunes or video on demand (VOD) platforms. But by then, the audience has moved on. For many in the industry, closing this release "window" so that titles are available to view at home on or very close to the day they hit cinemas is the best, perhaps only, chance many Australian films have to succeed. Expect to see some major developments in this area soon.
The ultimate point there....don't go long on Australian theater stocks.  I can be honest about this:  That release window is the only thing keeping theaters alive.

As a business, they are too stuck in their ways, unwilling to change, or --like so many other businesses struggling in this day and age-- unable to change.  Oh, they make a good show of it:  building all the 24-screen multiplexes in the 90s, introduced flashier sound systems, better seats.  Now we have digital projection and, more importantly from a business perspective, digital film distribution.

The release will inevitably shrink, and when it's gone...the multiplex theater will follow.


Stuff

Light blogging as of late.  You'll have to forgive me.  I've been hiding in my crawlspace, avoiding not just ebola but offensive Halloween costumes and the pot candy police are saying people will be handing out this year.

By the way, if you hear someone worry about pot candy being handed out on Halloween, you should be comforted by this fact:  That shit is expensive.  We're talking, like, five bucks per gummy bear.  No one's going to be giving out pot candy this year, at least not on purpose.  Don't be silly.

And now, the rest of the story.

Received Wisdom I'm Not Sure I Buy

From a review of Amy Poehler's new memoir:
(Tina) Fey reportedly netted a near-$6 million advance for her book, and (Lena) Dunham more than $3 million; Poehler’s fee is undisclosed, but she fits the bill. Women are still underrepresented as writers, directors, and stars of comedy, but the few women who have clawed to prominence on TV can find a comfortable perch in the publishing world.
This "women are still underrepresented" stuff is starting to take the sheen of old or bad information that just keeps getting passed around unchallenged.  I suppose it might come off as a little sexist to ask, "But are they really?"  I mean, I won't pretend to have an answer.  I'm not sure exactly what the acceptable level of representation is, so I can't say if women are "underrepresented" or not, but this is getting a bit absurd.

Tina Fey and Amy Poehler "represented" about half of NBC's valuable and highly-rated Thursday night block for, oh, I dunno, years.  Shonda Rimes is on her way to "representing" Shondaland 7 days a week over at ABC.  Show me the 28 year old dude who is writing, directing, and starring in the third season of his HBO show.


In other words, if you're saying "women are still underrepresented," it's not because you've run the numbers.  It's because you haven't been paying attention.

Why We Need Net Neutrality

A lot of supposedly smart people say we don't need net neutrality policies.  This from Matt Yglesias points to why that might be a bit naive:

Over the past year, the company reports that it lost about 155,000 pay television customers. But during this same period revenue from pay television customers actually rose one percent due to higher prices. That's a sign that Comcast isn't really trying to save pay television as a long-term business proposition. The company isn't lowering prices to try to beat reduced customer demand, it's accepting that this will keep shrinking and they're simply trying to squeeze the customer base for all their worth.
I mean, at what point will these economic theorists pull their noses out of their textbooks and see for once and all that these telecom companies don't want to innovate or compete with each other.  They can argue for a "de-regulate" approach all they want, but it's the regulations that are keeping these companies honest.  Not market discipline.


And finally, some wisdom from David Simon, creator of The Wire.
Stories have a beginning, a middle, and an end, and until very recently American television didn’t plan the end. You just tried to keep the franchise going for as long as you could. That lent itself to mediocrity eventually, because you need to be thinking about your last page as soon as you start filming your first.
Damn straight.

Suit

This is a reflection of a lack of effort more than anything, but my primary source of "new music" these days is commercials.

This song came up on a Youtube ad, and bam....loved it.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Best Team in the NFL

Last year's Super Bowl notwithstanding, it's a great time to be a Bronco fan.  Week to week, if you're watching Broncos games, you're watching some of the best football on the planet. 

Sure, there's hype.  But it's good hype.
It's only October, but the Broncos are the best team in the NFL because of their balance. Look at their roster and then look at their resume. They have dispatched half of the best teams in the league: Indianapolis, San Francisco, Arizona and now San Diego. Denver has arguably faced the toughest schedule in the league, they are 6-1, and they are only getting better.
I like it.

I would also like to note that one of my competitors in my fantasy league made an incredibly smart play when he denied a trade offer I made this week.  I offered Golden Tate and his solid numbers for Immanuel Sanders and his clutch plays. 

Until last week, Sanders hadn't scored any touchdowns, which is why I thought the trade would work.  Oh, he'd catch the third down conversion or inexplicably pick up the long ball with two defenders on his back, but he wasn't scoring. 

Last night, he scored three touchdowns.  And they should have been mine!

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Radley Balko is Mostly Useful

So I'd like to formally apologize to Radley Balko.  I wrote a post once that he picked up on his Twitter feed and some of his followers trolled me.  It was all good fun.

Since that time, I've run into people who absolutely adore the guy and I must say the quality of his work has improved since he joined the Washington Post.  I think we would still disagree on a lot of  things, but he's working a beat now, and the man has got it covered.

So, dude, I'm sorry.  You're mostly useful, which means you're not useless at all.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Found on the Web

A video called Animal Kills People 2014.

The description is simple:  Animal Killing The People



It's a "running of the bulls" and as far as I can tell, no people actually got killed.  But Animal Killing the People is my new band name. 

Thursday, October 09, 2014

Doing it Wrong

The biggest difference between me and the average liberal is that I think there should be some correlation between the goals you have and the actions you take.

For instance, occupying a park will not actually result in bank reform.

Likewise, getting a TV show canceled will not actually result in equality of the sexes.

I mean, I haven't seen Stalker so I don't know if it's a show that "hates women," but such a thing strikes me as rather unlikely.  More likely, it's a show that doesn't conform to feminist expectations, like so many shows out there, and that's why they want to "burn it to the ground."


Try this:  Watch something else.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Asked and Then Answered

In my previous post, I asked:
Will we allow (the NFL), despite their visibility and influence, to remain an organization devoted to the game of football or shall we demand that they be advocates for the social issue of the day?
In a post that attempts to explain why we should go ape-shit over Ray Rice, but not Hope Solo who is also accused of domestic abuse, that question is answered:
Why exactly do we care about domestic violence in the NFL? It’s not because football players are our nation’s leading batterers of women. (In the Atlantic last week, Conor Friedersdorf nominated police officers for that honor.) It’s because domestic violence is a problem bigger than football, one too easily perpetrated in homes across America and excused by law enforcement, and one that is (again) overwhelmingly committed by male partners who exert physical, social, and financial control to keep their victims in their power. Meanwhile, no institution rivals football in its power to exert social and financial pressure on American men and boys. That makes the NFL an awfully convenient perch for tackling this issue.
What utter horseshit.

Just because football is, for the moment, "an awfully convenient perch for tackling" the domestic violence issue does not mean it's an effective one.  Maybe this is one of those situations, like junk food or credit cards, where the convenience of a thing obscures the fact that it's not actually very helpful.

More horseshit:
Domestic violence also serves as a powerful symbol of the toxic masculinity and devaluation of women that football promotes: This is a sport where men are rewarded for beating other men until they can’t even walk or think anymore while women appear solely as sexual objects (a task they perform for a criminal sum) and are systematically underrepresented (to the point of nonexistence) as executives, journalists, coaches, and referees.
Before accepting a premise, one should attempt to challenge it.  It's not clear that the writer of this piece has made that attempt.

What exactly is "toxic masculinity?"  How is "toxic masculinity" different from regular masculinity?  Does football actually promote it?   Can we fairly describe the cheerleaders on the sidelines and the all-male referee crew as "promoting the devaluation of women" or is that just feminist rhetoric?

Frankly, I take issue with the description of football as "a sport where men are rewarded for beating other men until they can’t even walk or think anymore while women appear solely as sexual objects."  Does this demonstrate a keen understanding of the game, or does it demonstrate the exact opposite?

Furthermore, is this misunderstanding the reason why she thinks football is "a convenient perch for tackling the domestic violence issue?"  If she understood football to be the competitive contact sport it is, would she think it so easy to plug domestic violence's square peg into the NFL's round hole?


Probably not.  You have to read all the way to the piece's end to realize it's hopeless.  It's all just bitterness and bad faith and double standards:
(S)pare the indignation about how women’s soccer is somehow doing worse on domestic violence than the NFL. If you believe that, you’re either a raging football apologist, or the commissioner of the NFL.
A raging football apologist?  Hey, if the shoe fits....

Monday, September 22, 2014

Stuff to Think About

Undeveloped thought I must think about more:

Could the NFL's October "Breast Cancer Awareness" pink-fest be a contributing factor to its current "problem with women?" 

That is, by volunteering to engage in non-football related advocacy, has the NFL now claimed responsibilities beyond the scope of football?

The size and scope of the NFL does tend to convey upon it certain social responsibilities.  Players are, for better or worse, role models, and the NFL cannot claim no responsibility to the prevailing winds of social discourse.  If Michael Vick is killing dogs and Richie Incognito is hazing teammates, the NFL must respond.

But do they also have to become an animal-rights or anti-bullying advocate as well?  Will we allow them, despite their visibility and influence, to remain an organization devoted to the game of football or shall we demand that they be advocates for the social issue of the day?


It seems to me that there are natural limits as to what the NFL can accomplish when it comes to domestic violence or breast cancer or animal rights.  Are we setting ourselves up for disappointment when our approach to social issues resembles a PR campaign?

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Back To the Drawing Board

I was reading an interview with David Mitchell (Cloud Atlas) about his new book, The Bone Clocks, and a phrase kicked me in the gut.
"the murderous feud between two circles of shadow immortals"
I read that and thought, Oh, you motherfucker.

A story I've been working on, as currently conceived, could be fairly described as being about "the murderous feud between two circles of shadow immortals." 

Now I'll have to read the book to see if I must come up with a new idea.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Thanks For the Clarification

Alyssa Rosenberg says:
Nobody is asking that Marvel and DC stop making movies and television shows about male superheroes until we have enough Black Panther, She-Hulk, Ms. Marvel and Wonder Woman movies to constitute parity or proportional representation. Instead, the request is that, in a market where the appetite for superhero movies seems to be infinite, a few of these non-white, non-male characters get some of the slots in an ever-expanding roster that may stretch as far out as 2028.
The ignorance and naivete of this statement boggles my mind.  I don't even know where to start.

*  "In a market where the appetite for superhero movies seems to be infinite..."

Things are often not what they seem.  The appetite for superhero movies is, obviously, not infinite.  It's a trend, one that's been going for a while now, giving it the illusion of permanence, but it's a trend nonetheless.  The comic book A team is already in the reboot and team-up phase, and it's only a matter of time before the B team is exhausted, too.

No golden age lasts forever.   Just ask the good ole reliable Hollywood western.

*   "Nobody is asking that Marvel and DC stop making movies and television shows about male superheroes"

Well, that's nice, but you have to understand the nature of your request.  We are, despite the "ever-expanding" rhetoric, talking about limited resources.  A movie studio is only going to put out X number of pictures a year.  Depending on its size, that number could be very low.

Would it hurt, in such a zero sum game, to have more stories featuring "non-white, non-male characters?"  Hell no.  Done properly, it would be great.  But this is what I don't get:

If you want to pursue stories about "non-white, non-male characters," why would you mine a canon that contains almost exclusively white male characters?  Batman, Superman, Spiderman, Iron Man, Captain America.  You pick a stable of white male characters and then "request" the complete opposite?

It makes no sense!

Alright, so now that the ranting is done, I will say I agree with (some) of her premise.  But something about it bugged me.
Maybe this is a period of adjustment, and flag-flying geeks and nerds will emerge from this upheaval in a better place. Maybe people will see that the video game industry can survive both expansion and criticism. Maybe “Game of Thrones” fans will recognize that the show’s essence will survive even with fewer naked, threatened women on screen. Maybe the bomb threats will stop.
 She doesn't seem to understand that when people are talking about the "geeks and nerds," they're talking about people like her.  People who get all pissed off at Sons of Anarchy because it doesn't play as an afterschool special. 

I mean, bomb threats?  That's ridiculous.  But some of this "criticism," that is too.
"Maybe "Game of Thrones" fans will recognize that the show's essence will survive even with fewer naked, threatened women on screen."

The show's essence?  R-rated adult content, sex and violence and the F word?  Or are we talking about some other essence?

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Does the NFL have a "Woman Problem" or do Women have an "NFL Problem?"

Am I getting old or is our culture getting dumber?   People don't like to think of themselves as herd animals, but Jesus Christ, we're a bunch of cows.

Item:  Ray Rice

In case you've been living under a rock, Ray Rice punched his then-fiance/now-wife, then dragged her unconscious body through a hotel.  There's video.  You've probably seen it more than once.

If that leads you to think that Ray Rice is a piece of shit, a failure of a man and a generally horrible human being, then you're onto something.  It should not, on the other hand, lead you here:

Can you believe in women's rights and enjoy football? Can you be angry about Ray Rice and the NFL's inadequate handling of him but still feel okay about watching the game? The answer, to both, is no.
 A couple things:

1)  Liberals need to figure out just exactly why they hate the NFL and then stick with it.  Is it because of concussions?  Is it because of racist team nicknames?  Is it because the NFL is "awful to women?" I get that liberals want Roger Goodell's head on a spike, but they need to come up with a good reason.

Not 10 dumb ones.

2)  "Can you believe in women's rights and enjoy football?"

It is not as obvious to me as it is to Dr. Peggy Drexler that the answer is "No."  Millions of women, it seems to me, are quite capable of simultaneously believing in women's rights and also enjoying the game of football.  To suggest they are not should be as insulting as the idea that women must choose between their careers and having children.

3)   "Can you be angry about Ray Rice and the NFL's inadequate handling of him but still feel okay about watching the game?"

Again, I don't see why not.  Ray Rice is one man on one team.  And while I agree the NFL's handling of the Rice situation was initially inadequate, shouldn't the later response --rule changes and banishing Rice from the league-- have any influence over our thinking?

Me, I'm going to watch as many games as possible today, comfortable in the knowledge that Ray Rice won't be playing in any of them. 

Monday, September 08, 2014

The Good Things in Life

A Broncos victory.  (They almost blew it?  No way.  The Colts never gave up.  It was gladiatorial combat, the best kind.)

A new season of Trailer Park Boys on Netflix.

My "Friday" and three days off.

Shwarama twice this week.

New book by James Ellroy coming out tomorrow.

A big ass 30 hour audiobook on the history of the ancient world from Audible.

Life is good.

Saturday, September 06, 2014

Cops: Ferguson

This is too funny. I love the part where he stabs the basketball.

Basketball is a known gang activity.



Thursday, September 04, 2014

Now That's What I'm Talking Bout

Good news on the metal underground front:
CORROSION OF CONFORMITY drummer Reed Mullin has confirmed that the band will reunite with its onetime guitarist and vocalist Pepper Keenan in 2015 to record a new studio album and embark on a tour.
I have tried, and failed, to like a Pepper-less COC.  Pepper's a better singer than Woody or Mike Dean, but I've also missed his song-writing influence.  COC were never better than when Pepper ruled the roost.

Their Deliverance album gets all the love, and it should.  It's a great album.  But there are some cuts on Blind, which is getting a limited edition release on vinyl this year, and Wiseblood that I cannot live without.

 Like this one:


Past regrets and future fears,
Turns a boy into a man
Sooner than planned
All the same, the boy remains
Even though he's free,
He can't fly with these heavy chains

Conventions of Sports Movies

I watched Ron Howard's racing film Rush last night, and while it was a passable, even enjoyable, movie, it got me thinking about how formulaic sports biopics have become.

Example:  Show me a sports movie that does not, at any time, cut up to the announcing booth for expository purposes.

And hey, I get it.  In our media-saturated world, sports memories are more likely to be memories of sports broadcasts, and if you want people to think you "nailed it," evoke that memory. 

But it's a bit lazy on the part of the filmmakers, if you ask me.

In a sports movie, if the stakes are unclear or the action confusing, just cue the announcers.  They'll explain it.  "Hunt needs to place third or better to be World Champion.  It's the race of his life."

Imagine your average car chase or shoot-out relying on such a convenient gimmick.  "Oh, the SWAT team just arrived.  The bank robbers are really going to need to step on it if they want to get away."

In a sports movie, it becomes a kind of crutch, an excuse not to tell the story visually or dramatically.  It always seems to end with people watching TV screens.  Cut to the ex-wife, watching the race on TV.  Cut to the old racing partner, watching TV.  Cut to the crew, watching the TV in the pit.

New rule for sports screenwriting:  No announcers.  No people watching TV.

You have already chosen a dynamic, interesting subject to stage and photograph.  Let it, finally, speak for itself.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

A Fragment - Ghosts of War Edition

Sometimes I feel like I've giving up writing.  I haven't, but I have for too long been undisciplined about it.  It seems strange now, but I used to feel guilty if I didn't have at least some kind of daily writing session.  Now I'm lucky if I allow myself one a week.

Last week, though, I had a session that put to shame my recent writing habits.  I took a late day nap, found myself waking up around bedtime, mind fresh and brimming with ideas.  I sat down and forged ahead, expanding on a few paragraphs I had started and abandoned. 

A thousand words later, I had a scene. Here it is.  Let me know what you think in the comments.

Dmitri blinks blood out of his eyes. He attempts to roll over, trying to come to all fours so he can push himself back onto his feet, but he’s pinned and can’t move. A swirling dustcloud in the gray sky is all that is left of the obliterated building he had been standing in. Rubble had fallen all around him, burying him under layers of concrete, steel, and glass. Something pokes him in the side every time he takes a breath and his legs feel like they’re a mile away, crushed and hidden under debris, not really legs anymore, just a distant throbbing numbness.
The thought flashes in his mind:
I’m going to die from this.
This makes Dmitri angry and he makes a renewed effort to squirm out of his trap. The movement only makes pain explode in his bones, the spear in his side ripping new tears in his internal organs. The renewed warmth there, he realizes, is his own blood. He cries out, his voice barely a whisper above the shrill buzz in his ears. Explosions and thunder sound hollow in the distance, kicking up waves of particulates that continue to slap him in the face like a hot wind.
His body starts to go ice cold and his breathing becomes more ragged. Not long now, Dmitri thinks. At least it will be quick.
But then his mind drifts to his companion, an American named Monte. The two of them had been cowering at opposite ends of a heavy desk when the building disintegrated around them. A big man, bigger than Dmitri, Monte had no better chance of surviving the blast than Dmitri. He no doubt is lying a few feet away, crushed under the same rubble, dying in his own way. If he isn’t already dead.
Having no better last words, Dmitri calls out for his friend. The most likely response, he realizes, is silence, but he hopes for some sign that Monte is still there. Buried and twisted, broken and pierced, the most important thing it seems now is that he doesn’t go out alone.
After a few moments, there’s a response, Monte’s voice, muffled but close. He’s saying, “I got you. Hang on, man, I got you.” Over and over, “I got you.”
Dmitri can hear him digging, pulling debris out of the way, and then he feels a hand brushing dirt from his face and wiping blood out of his eyes. Monte’s dark face, eyes whiter than anything Dmitri has ever seen, staring down at him. His face is streaked with grime but otherwise, he looks untouched.
He says, “I got you.”
Dmitri watches him lift chunks of concrete and ceiling tile, scooping away the debris with his bare hands, relieving pressure bit by bit with each handful. Dmitri can breathe again, but each breath bubbles out through the jagged tear in his torso. Rebar, he can see now, attached to a section of roof, that first impaled him before toppling and gutting him like a fish.
His horror at the wound is matched in Monte’s eyes. Dmitri tries to say something, but his words get lost. Another try results in, “It’s bad, innit?”
“Don’t worry, man. I got you,” Monte says, his voice gentle and resolute. He frees Dmitri’s gnarled legs, stacking what is left of them into a parallel leg-shaped configuration, and he sets Dmitri’s arms, also broken, one bone sticking out at the elbow, to his sides.
Dmitri feels all of this at a distance, like he’s a remote observer experiencing the moment objectively. Monte yanks out the rebar. Blood spurts. Dmitri’s body contorts, his eyelids fluttering. It all happens over there as Dmitri watches from over here. He’s someone else now, somewhere else.
Monte’s hand closes Dmitri’s eyes and he leans down to whisper something in the dying man’s ear. The words are quiet, in a language and dialect that Dmitri’s fading mind cannot understand, but they are imbued with meaning. Dmitri can sense that, even as his consciousness drifts out of this life and into the next one, and he finds himself wanting to stick around to hear what Monte is saying. Dmitri forgets the pain, forgets the fatality of his wounds, and he listens.
And as he listens, he begins to feel a surge of warmth and light welling deep within his chest.
This is it, he thinks. This is what it feels like to die.
He takes in one final breath, and then he lets go. Darkness swallows him.
And spits him back out.
Dmitri gasps as he comes to on the rubble heap, Monte still crouched over him, dust still swirling in the sky, the battle still raging around them. Monte’s eyes are closed as if in prayer and his lips move in chant-like whispers. As if compelled by the power of Monte’s words, Dmitri’s broken body twitches as it begins to reform itself, vital organs and bones reconstituting, blood vessels splicing together, muscles finding tendons, wounds forming seams, then scars, then nothing at all.
The air tastes of blood and ash, and Dmitri is surprised he can taste it. He wiggles his toes and he feels them inside his boot. His hands clench at his sides, the elbow throbbing but no longer broken. His torn shirt flaps around the flawless skin that now covers an abdomen that had been moments before split open by a rebar knife.
Monte still hovers over him, his incantations still a mumble of nonsense, his eyes still closed.
Dmitri puts a trembling hand on his shoulder and Monte’s eyes open. Dmitri expects to see shock, considering the miracle that has just occurred, but he only sees relief.
Dmitri wipes blood out of his eyes. And then he sits up.

Monday, August 11, 2014

On Robin Williams Suicide

It coulda been me.

Don't know where I'm going, I just keep on rowing
I just keep on pulling, gotta row

Friday, August 01, 2014

Interstellar

One thing I enjoy about Christopher Nolan's movies is how much work he and his brother (his usual screen-writing partner) put into the scripts.  It's about telling a story, not about product-placement or international marketing.  It's about making the audience feel something.

A lot of the big movies this year have been absolute dreck.  Captain America:  The Winter Soldier?  I couldn't even tell you what that was about.  (Making money, I think.)  X-Men stank.  Transformers was unbearable.  So far, the only movies I've managed to care about while watching them were Edge of Tomorrow and the new Planet of the Apes, and even then only Planet of the Apes was able to get me with any heart.  (Edge of Tomorrow was merely clever.)

This new trailer for Interstellar is amazing.  Nolan packs more heart into a few minutes of clips than anything Marvel has done all year.

Thursday, July 31, 2014

The Rains

We must be in the middle of a mini-wet period here in Colorado.  Last October it rained for a week straight, washing out roads, flooding homes, business, and entire towns, and of course, destroying the roof over my storage closet.

This week, it's been raining since Tuesday night, and though weather reports said it would be tapering off last night, it's still raining.

From a gardening perspective, I say bring it.  My summer annuals are blooming and my veggies are producing. I just fertilized before the rains, so it's like a one-two punch of nutrition and moisture, and once the hot weather returns, the plants will be loving life.

But that said, I was kind of hoping for a semi-nice day today.   Truth is, I'm a Sexy Beast and this is my idea of paradise:



Monday, July 28, 2014

Fury Road

When it was announced, I wasn't too enthused about a Mad Max remake.  But after watching this trailer, I can't wait to see it.  Tom Hardy, Charlize Theron, the George Miller.

It's gonna be good.



Good One

Here we go again:
I'm tired of seeing white people on the silver screen.

First, let me note that I am white. I am a white woman who goes to the theater to see probably a dozen films (if not more) in a given year, a white woman who readily consumes TV shows and series and often blogs/tweets about them. I love film. I love what Hollywood could be, but I must say that I don't love what it is, and that is a machine generating story after story in which the audience is asked to root for a white (usually male) hero over and over and over (and over) again.
We get it.  You're a racist, sexist fool who has trouble picking her movies.  Next!

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Slayer...on a Ukelele

This is an incredibly faithful rendition of Slayer's War Ensemble being played on a ukelele.  It's pretty awesome, even though you can't convincingly headbang while playing a ukelele.


I totally loved about a minute of it.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Commune

I watched a documentary on Netflix about hippies who once lived at the Black Bear Commune in Northern California.  There was a time when I had a neutral-to-positive reaction to hippies, but I must admit:  Those days are over.

Now I can't decide if they're naive or just stupid.

Consider the Black Bear Commune.  It was founded by young idealists who wanted to escape mainstream society.  Their slogan was "Free land for free people."  Of course, that's just a slogan, not a policy, so they had to buy some land for their commune.  Being young idealist hippies, they had no money, so what did they do?

They went to Hollywood and started shaking down rock stars, telling them "you're profiting off our lifestyle, so you owe us."  As absurd as this is, some rock stars actually paid up and so the hippies bought Black Bear Ranch. 

As is common with Utopian settlements, the first few years were tough.  They almost starved in winter, and it took some going to figure out how to live with each other.  Since they were hippies, it was free love and nakedness all the time. 

But being reality, there had to be rules.  You couldn't sleep with the same person more than two nights in a row because it promoted couples, which if you think about it is every bit as oppressive a social convention as the one that demands monogamy.  Eventually, human nature being what it is, couples form anyway.

Towards the end, they discover that their "free land for free people" mantra has holes big enough to drive a cult through it.  When the Shiva Lila arrived at Black Bear, they were welcomed and allowed to stay.  But apparently hanging around a bunch of acid-taking baby-worshippers was too much, and the Shiva Lila were asked to leave.

"Hey, man, I thought it was free land for free people."

"Yeah, well...fuck you."

The history of the world right there.

Black Bear Ranch still exists today, even though all the old hippies left to seek fulfillment as individuals.  For me, it's on the "nice place to visit but wouldn't want to live there" list.

Monday, July 21, 2014

That's a Shot!

I know, I'm evil.  I really don't like "Pornstache" Mendez on Orange is the New Black, but I loved Pablo Schreiber's performance in this scene.

I found myself watching it over and over and over...



Wednesday, July 09, 2014

Loretta Pearce - R.I.P.

My step-mom passed away on Monday after a long illness.  I had been long estranged from that side of the family for a variety of reasons, but when I got word on Friday that she was on her deathbed, I set those reasons aside and showed up at the hospital.

If I couldn't live with her, the least I could do is be there for her when she died.

I wasn't prepared for what I saw when I arrived.  My Dad, shockingly aged and frail in a way I've never seen before.  My step-brothers, one of whom I haven't seen in a over a decade, and his kids, neither of whom I've met.  And then my step-mom, laying half-sideways in the bed, medical equipment obscuring her swollen face.

When I looked at her, all the bitterness and anger dissipated and I just felt sadness and compassion.

I was on death watch for three days, while also trying to stay focused at work, and each day she got progressively worse.  By the end, she was at home, no longer connected to monitors, no longer receiving any medical treatment whatsoever, and she was barely conscious.

I sat down to say some final words, not sure if she could hear me.  I couldn't bring myself to say the words "I'm sorry" but I told her I loved her and that I was grateful.  She couldn't reply.

My Dad is heartbroken, kept aloft only by the optimistic dreams of a widower:  working on his train set, or selling everything and traveling the country in an RV.  I worry that optimism will be swallowed by grief in the coming months.  He may not be ready for the independence that has been suddenly foist upon him.


I was glad, at least, to get some closure.

Wednesday, July 02, 2014

Six Seasons and a Movie!

Community was canceled by NBC earlier this year, which made everyone sad, so Yahoo "picked them up" for a sixth season.  I didn't know Yahoo was getting into the TV business, but a sixth season of Community?

I'm listening.

Hopefully I don't have to subscribe to something to watch it though.  I mean, hopefully I don't have to subscribe to something else.  DirecTV, Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime.  On the subscription front, I'm covered.  Sell me the episodes themselves or I'll wait for the DVD.

All this, of course, is an excuse to post this clip, which not only features Abed's hilarious Nicolas Cage freakout, but my favorite joke from Community.

 Britta starts talking about some goofy social theory that makes no sense and the professor, played by Kevin Corrigan, interrupts her with "Good one."  It's not that funny, but the patronizing indifference from Corrigan and Britta's reaction to it is priceless.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Stuff

Rock is Not Dead - Once More Around the Sun Edition

New Mastodon record out this week.  First impression:  Sounds great.  It's heavy yet clean, with some really focused song-writing that retains that proggy sensibility. 


I can't wait to let it soak in. 

The Fridge

Not too long ago, I bought a new fridge.  The old one started making a noise I didn't feel like repairing and I wanted a smaller one anyway.  My kitchen isn't the biggest and I don't need to stock up for a huge family, so the smallest full-size fridge?  Hook me up.

I was thinking space mostly but in the back of my mind I was wondering if a smaller fridge would save me money on my electric bill.

The proof is in the pudding.  This month's bill was less than a hundred dollars, a record for the decade I've been living in this house.

Walmart to Go

I live near the worst Walmart in America.  (It's an objective fact.)  And yet I rely on them for supplies of cat food, hot cocoa, coffee, and other staples.  This leaves me with a dilemma.  The convenient Walmart is a nightmare, and all the others are not convenient.

So I tried their Walmart to Go service.  For a small fee, they will deliver your groceries to your front door.  There is waiting involved, as you have to schedule a delivery window, but you are not standing three deep in a line staffed by someone who can compete in the Special Olympics.

Standing in one of those lines, I've often wished there was some way I could just pay to get out of there.  Just, please take my money.  Free me from this prison of Handiwipes and Bic lighters.

So Walmart says if I pay them $5, I don't have to stand in one of those lines and they'll deliver my entire grocery list to my front door sometime after I get off work. 

DEAL.

True Detective

I don't mean to keep beating this drum, but shortly after acquiring the first season of True Detective on Blu Ray, I binge-watched it again and then after that, I re-watched certain scenes, and even re-watched entire episodes.

You could call it a bit of a study, to figure out how this story was constructed.  Unlike many viewers, I'm not really motivated by novelty.  It's less interesting to find out what happens next than it is to see if what happens next makes some kind of sense in terms of theme or character.

Unusual for a mystery story, there are no red herrings.  All the completely bonkers stuff --the devil worship and the child sacrifice-- all that turns out to be true.  Indeed, detectives Cohle and Hart only scratch the surface, peeling back just one layer of a larger, darker story that's merely hinted at.

Consider what they find:  a Satanic cult operating in secret along the Louisiana Coast that has been killing women and children for generations.  A serial killer?  No, it's bigger than that.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Narcissistic Navel-Gazing

I found this piece through Alyssa Rosenberg, who's working for the Washington Post now, and I loved how it basically calls out the Rosenbergian school of cultural criticism.  The writer, Glenn Kenny, is either too gentle or too untalented to come out and say what he means directly, but he does make some great points:
These days, in the discourse of popular culture, nothing is JUST entertainment, but EVERYTHING must be fun.
This is why these critics can't accept shows like True Detective or Sons of Anarchy without performing an audit of its "social responsibility" factor, and it's also why they reject the one-dimensional polemics they seemingly desire in favor of things in the pop culture mainstream, which --to their endless frustration-- refuses to conform to their narrow expectations.

Kenny hits it out of the park with this:

This leaves us free to debate just how adolescent we’d like our culture to be, e.g., ought we read "adult" books as a teenager would (what did I learn from Updike, what was he trying to tell me?), or should we just give up and read YA as adults because that has its value too, and what ought we be embarrassed by?
Before now, I never thought of it as an issue of maturity.  Rosenberg's work has always struck me as the work of a teacher's pet seeking out an atta-boy, but I never really thought of it as "immature." 

But damn it, watching at Sons of Anarchy and thinking you're going to get some kind of diatribe against gun violence is rather immature.  It displays a childish ignorance of how art is created and how it interacts with the commercial marketplace.

I also like Kenny's conclusion:
Nowadays, nobody wants to destroy Hollywood. That would be ugly. Not to mention impossible. But, it’s "important" to make Hollywood "less sexist." So we can feel more comfortable in our chains or pods or whatever you prefer to call them .... because we have a better, nicer, more "representative" mirror to dwell on/in.
Translation:  Making Hollywood "less sexist" is not important.  Instead of grappling with real problems, it amounts to little more than narcissistic navel-gazing.

Thursday, June 05, 2014

Pain & Gain

I watched Pain & Gain the other night, a crime caper with Mark Wahlberg, Anthony Mackie, and the Rock.  It was funnier and darker than I expected, which means I pretty much loved it.

A couple of bodybuilders who have ambitions two sizes too big for their capabilities decide to kidnap a rich guy and steal all his stuff.  It kinda works.

Michael Bay directed the movie, so some of this gets played as a joke, but underneath is a script throbbing with subtext.

At one point, Mark Wahlberg is trying to scam a guy by putting on a slide show about a telecom venture in India.  There's a few quick cuts of him sounding almost convincing, but then he says, "We get you in on the groundfloor.  Boom.  Sky rocket.  Next!"


Later the guy he's trying to scam admits that some of the stuff he says sounds goofy and calls him an amateur.  Boom.  Mark Wahlberg kills him with some Olympic 45s.  Next!


And then there's this scene:

I was rolling. "But that bat was aluminum.  I switched to wood."

Tuesday, June 03, 2014

Pit Bull Ban

Well, this is an easy one.  The city is allowing voters to consider lifting a ban on pit bulls.  The ban is enforced mostly bureaucratically, with licenses and such, but it's also somewhat silly.


Pit bulls can be vicious animals, it's true, but they can also be great dogs.  I've chosen a garden over a pit bull for myself, but if my neighbors want to get one, I say go for it.

May it drive out all the squirrels.

Friday, May 30, 2014

Off to Utopia

I don't believe in censorship, but I do believe in editing.

And some shit just doesn't need to be promoted.

The Normal Heart

Last night, I watched most of The Normal Heart, HBO's new film about the early days of the AIDS epidemic.  Tears were streaming down my face, although it's mostly because my allergies are going haywire at the moment.  (For the past 50 hours, I've had brief sensations of odor, and almost none of taste.)

I think the writing was pretty good, but I'll just come out and say it: I bought Mark Ruffalo's performance except for all the parts where he added a bunch of swish.

The canted hips, the occasional limp wrist.   He's smart not to overdo it, but it's still an affectation that's totally unnecessary and a bit showy.  It calls attention to his performance --oh, look, straight actor playing gay-- and takes you out of the moment.

Matt Boemer, who plays Ruffalo's doomed partner in the film, and is actually a gay man in real life, doesn't do any of that.  He plays it, pardon the expression, fairly straight.

Hate to say it, but Boemer's comes off as the more powerful performance.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Challenges

This was last week, when it snowed.  This little entry way faces west, so it's in shade most of the day and gets a big blast of sun in the afternoon.  The plants grow in weird directions if I don't turn them around every day or so.

The space heater was keeping them nice and toasty during a frost.
After the frost, I moved them out back to the patio.  Some I planted, others I didn't.  This is what they looked like after the storms.  The white stuff, that's hail.
The worst hail I've ever seen in my gardening career. 
Obviously most of my stock is gone.  I still have a few tomatoes growing under lights in the closet, so...that's good.  I also planted some seeds in the ground that should...hopefully...survive.  (I usually just do all transplants.)

The bonus is that I just started two more flats of seedlings and I had yet to set out some of the younger transplants that have been potted up in the last few days.

In other words, I'm trying not to be too sad about it, and my diligent preparation is making that an easy task.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Why Bother?

Last weekend it snowed.  I put a heater on my plants, which weren't quite yet set outside.

This weekend was nicer, so I did some planting.

This afternoon, a hailstorm rolled through.  Nearly everything that I planted has been shredded. 

Wednesday, May 07, 2014

True Story

A small plane carrying a banner for an insurance company starts having air trouble.  The pilot maneuvers as best as he can until he can't.

Maybe he says, "We're going down."  Maybe all you can hear is a grunt and the air moving out between his teeth.

He looks down and sees houses, trees, curving suburban lanes.  He aims toward a street that has at least some green space on one side.  The mechanical fails, or maybe it's his aim.

He glides over a back yard and Thwap! crashes into the second floor of a house.  Drywall and plywood and insulation crash down on him.  The plane tilts, ready to plummet down to the yard below.  He smells fuel, feels heat.

He exits the plane, realizes he's in someone's home.  He calls out, maybe saying "Is anyone here?   Hello?"  No one answers.

The fire grows more intense.  He bangs down the steps, coughing out the door.  He looks over his shoulder and stops.

What the fuck?  This house looks familiar.

He knows where the hose is, so he grabs it.  He can hear the sirens in the distance, growing louder on approach.  He tries fanning at the flames with the hose.  The flames win.

When the firefighters arrive, he collapses. He tells the paramedics, "I used to live in that house."  They check his pupils, examine his scalp for contusions.  Rather than believe him, they suspect head injury.

"Of all the houses I could crash into," he says, "I crash into one I used to live in."

And yes, this is a true story.

A Sad Old Fat Man

This is how old and out of shape I am.

On Monday, I went to the movies.  I tried to watch Spiderman 2, but I couldn't really follow what was going on because my back was on fire.  I actually left the auditorium at the mid-point and stretched out in the hall.  It didn't help.

Later that night, I went to the Mastodon show.  My approach was bogus.  I wanted to skip most of the opening bands, but still get a comfortable spot on the mezzanine: a stool, a ledge, an unimpeded view.  But by the time we got there, it was standing room only. 

For most of Gojira's set, I was trying to inch the guy in front of me closer.  He had all kinds of space in front of him, but he would.  Not.  Move.  During the break, he went to go throw away his beer cup and I claimed it all.  I parked my nephew in front of me so he could see, tall guys in back and all that.

The show started and it went on.  The pain in my back did not subside.  It moved down, rings of fire radiating down my back, across my buttchecks, around my groin.  It shot down my legs and raced around my calves.

A few thoughts occurred to me:

Wow, Troy (bass) is taller than I thought.

Wow, Brann is killing it on the drums.

Where's Bill?  Oh, there he is, stage right.  I can see the top of his head....

Wow, this is really going to hurt when I move from this spot.

And it did!  I hate to admit this, but right after Naked Burn, one of my favorite Mastodon songs, we split.  I took a few steps toward the stairs and was wracked with unbelievable pain, not the taking a few steps going "Ow, ow, ow," kind of pain but the kind that stops you in your tracks and makes you think, "Please don't let me wake up on the floor with all these people staring at me."

I made it down the stairs, out the building, and around the block before I had to stop and find a seat.

That was two days ago. 

This morning I took my truck into the shop before work and rode my bike the extra mile to the office.  During the year I had no drivers license, I did that almost every day.  It was never easy.

But it was never as difficult as this morning's ride.  I reached the top of the hill barely finding strength for one more pump.  I coasted in, parked my bike, and immediately keeled over, thinking I was going to puke.  Head to toe drenched in sweat, muscles shaking, I leaned over the edge of the parking garage and just breathed.  I was breathing so hard that a bush a couple feet away started swaying in time with my lungs.

I took a few minutes, composed myself, and then went into work.

Both of these experiences are payback for a winter spent sitting on my ass.  Summer is coming.  And it's going to be grueling.

Saturday, May 03, 2014

Best Jesse Ventura Impression Ever

This one's for my Uncle Jim.  Proof that you don't have to look like the guy to nail an impression.

Thursday, May 01, 2014

Counting Vaginas - August: Osage County Edition

I was tempted to see it in theaters, but I waited until Redbox had it.  I was interested in August: Osage County not because the play won the Pulitzer but because Tracy Letts wrote it.  He writes these really weird and nasty plays, most of them set in Oklahoma, plays I must admit I have only seen in movie form. 

Sitting in an audience, watching it unfold in person I imagine would be quite the uncomfortable experience.

August: Osage County is no different, but it is somewhat gentler than Bug or Killer Joe.

I suppose it doesn't pass the Bechdel test, either, even though most of its cast are women and they have lots of conversations.  Most of the discussions, however, seem to be about men, which is not unexpected in a play about a family coming together, and falling apart, after the patriarch's death.

I thought it was a pretty decent movie.  I'm glad I didn't see it on the big screen.  The effect isn't so much a cinematic experience as it is a literary one.  I even put the subtitles on, so I could read the words, see how they looked.

There's no blood, but there are a lot of knives.  Should you watch it?  I guess that depends on how much drama you can take.

Counting Vaginas - Star Wars Edition

I suppose it was inevitable.  The cast of the new Star Wars film was released and while no one would dare complain about the fact that the lead actor is black, apparently it's perfectly acceptable to complain about the fact that he's male.

Hit it, dude:
(Daisy) Ridley does have the distinction of being the one woman on the cast who isn't Carrie Fisher. In other words, Abrams's Star Wars sounds like it may keep with the franchise's tradition of spectacularly failing the Bechdel Test. Princess Leia was the only major female character in the original trilogy, and the prequels weren't much more egalitarian.
First, Princess Leia was a bad ass.  So there.

Second, the Bechdel Test for a Star Wars film?  The Bechdel Test says that a story must have "1) at least two women 2) who talk to each other 3) about something besides a man."  As if all a story needs is a conversation between two women about not-male subjects!

I mean, I can't wait for that Star Wars film.  Forget the sword fights and space battles.   It's just going to be two women talking about the Force...

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Lie Down With Dogs....

It has been incredibly amusing to watch the Cliven Bundy ranch saga blow up in all the right-wing faces who indulged in his nonsense. 

First, why come to this guy's rescue in the first place?  He's just another rich moocher who thinks that public resources exist for private exploitation, and a not particularly smart one, either.  When Gaylord Entertainment came knocking on the Capitol door with hat in hand, they at least had the sense to get the authorities to buy into their scam.

Bundy's been fighting a losing battle for twenty years and it doesn't matter how many gun-toting  Tea-baggers with "Don't Tread On Me" tattoos show up, he's not going to win this one.  Bundy's wrong on the merits, and that matters.

The most amusing part, however, is how many right-wingers leapt to Bundy's aid not only knowing he was wrong on the merits, but also knowing that Bundy is animated by weird, fringe beliefs.  They actually thought this was a recipe for success.  They thought Bundy would actually be useful in their ongoing battle against big government.  They saw no red flags:  not the lost court cases, not the self-interest masquerading as principle. 

I mean, this guy spouts neo-Confederate views on federal authority and they're surprised that he also has neo-Confederate views on race

Shocker....

Friday, April 25, 2014

Facebook Comments I Didn't Write

To my Uncle Jim, who posted a picture of the people who joined his after-work workout:

Registration Day at the Clown College
Something about the picture just made me laugh.  I didn't want to be discouraging though, make them feel all self-conscious, so I convinced myself that it wasn't funny and didn't post it.

To my cousin Denise, who just announced that she found out online that her boyfriend was cheating on her:
Jerry!  Jerry!  Jerry!
This is made funnier by the fact that my cousin Denise was, in fact, once on the Jerry Springer Show.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Another Day in the Neighborhood

Yesterday I was out working in the garden and I heard in the distance what sounded like two firecrackers going off, pop-pop, but there was a quality to the sound that made me think, "That sounds like a gunshot."

A while later, I noticed a helicopter flying around and at first I thought nothing of it.  I live near several hospitals, as well as in the airspace of Buckley Air Force Base, so helicopters in the sky are not an uncommon sight.  Usually, though, they're hauling ass to some destination, the tiny red ones toward the hospital, the big bulky green ones toward the base.

This one was black.  It was in no hurry to go anywhere.  Indeed, it flew in a lazy circle for a while, not really hovering but also not sticking to any established flight plan.  Sometime between when I saw it circling and when it took off, I thought, "Huh, the police must be looking for someone."

It didn't occur to me to connect the sounds I heard with the helicopter until I read about this:
Aurora police are looking for two teenage boys in connection to a shooting that wounded one person in Aurora Monday afternoon.

The shooting occurred near East 16th Avenue and Lansing Street.
That's one block down and two blocks over from the, appropriately named, Ghetto Garden.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Sleeping Giant

Since my nephew subjects me to his music, I'm subjecting him to mine.  Mastodon is coming to the Ogden on May 5th and I picked up a couple of tickets.  In preparation, I've gone almost all Mastodon all the time.

This was today's fixation.

The Song of the Summer

Since I made my nephew help me clean out the swamp cooler, he made me watch a couple of rap videos.  This one cracked me up.

It would be absurd if I tried to describe it to you.  "He humps the TV, then he does the worm on the coffee table, and then she cocks her butt like a gun and jumps on him." 

It makes sense, and it's a pretty tight beat.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Books You Can Read With Callouses on Your Hands

I have to say, when I surreptitiously came upon this video of Mike Rowe talking about John D. Macdonald I was quite impressed.
He ticks off the titles with such ease that you can tell he's actually read them.  And in order to read John D. Macdonald, who died in the early 80s, you have to a) be a habitual reader, b) be comfortable cracking an old paperback, c) appreciate good literary writing while also appreciating all the action, bravado, and fantasy in a genre story.

It got me thinking about how the publishing industry is underserving an important demographic:  Men.  Not just the bookish academic sort, obsessing over culture and writing Oprah-approved novels for women.

But the guys with dirt under their fingernails.  The guys who make fart jokes and drink beer and ride motorcycles and gut fish.  These guys don't want to read Jonathan Franzen or David Foster Wallace.  Well, some of them do.

And while literature is full of men writing manly stuff --Jack London, Kipling, Melville-- and some of it is semi-recent --the Chandlers, L'Amours, and Macdonalds-- what we're missing today is new literature for men.

It's just not minted in the way it once was.

Which brings me to Nic Pizzolatto's novel Galveston.   It was an Edgar award finalist, but Pizzolatto is better known as the creator of the show True Detective.  That show got a lot of heat for being, ahem, too male-dominated, but now that I think about it, it has a very Macdonald-esque feel.

I'm only about 50 pages into Galveston, so can't critique much, but this could be a contender.  At times, the writing style seems to be a bit above the first person narrator's educational capabilities, which was also true of Macdonald's Travis McGee, but it has a muscular, propulsive force behind it.

One particularly bloody passage stayed with me long after I read it:

The man beside me slapped the side of my head, the he shoved me forward and I acted like I stumbled, fell to one knee.

When he tugged me to my feet I flicked my wrist and whipped the stiletto into his neck.  Blood geysered hot over my face and mouth.

I left the blade in and fell behind him as the other two raised guns.  One shot at me and smacked plaster off a wall as the other fired at Angelo and the top of his pompadour flew off and he fell to his knees.  They both fired at me.  The shots went thwap like pneumatic bolts and all struck the third man.  He spasmed at the bullets, the blade still in his neck.

My gun was right in front of me, stuck in the man's waistband.  I pulled it out and raised it and fired through the blood fountain at the closest one.

I didn't have time to actually aim, and I was half-blind with arterial spray, but I hit him in the throat and he twitched and fired and dropped backward.
It's like Hemingway and Cormac McCarthy had a baby and the kid didn't have any of their annoying ticks.  "Blood geysered."  I don't know, man.  Maybe you have to be a writer to appreciate how perfect that is.

Two words!  Only two words used to create that image.

Friday, March 28, 2014

All This and That Too

I've made known my distaste for feminist critics with their clipboards and checkboxes, performing a census on every film, book, or TV show, rejecting anything with too many men while giving extra credit to anything female-oriented, even if it's not very good.


They even have tests, and it's a pass or fail.

In the latest installment, we have a woman wondering how feminists can gain leverage over Hollywood studios if women are buying half of all movie tickets.  She complains:
They keep buying movie tickets despite the fact that they are less likely to direct, write, edit, or executive produce these films than they were in 1998. They buy tickets even though female characters are less likely to talk and more likely to get naked than male ones are. In the 500 top-grossing films released from 2007 to 2012, male actors outnumbered actresses 2.25 to 1, and yet women keep watching. And we're not just showing up to heralded female-driven stories like The Hunger Games and Frozen: According to PostTrack data, women recently outnumbered men in the audience for the new Liam Neeson thriller, Non-Stop.
If you can listen closely, you'll hear a little voice crying, "How can this be?"

The confusion is not unwarranted.  When the prow of your ideology crashes against the shoals of reality, one should be confused.  The mind should reach out for orientation, ready to throw overboard the dead weight or even abandon ship altogether.

This lady thinks there is an audience out there for "female-driven" stories that is not being satisfied because of a male-dominated patriarchy.  That is clearly not true.

There may be a male-dominated patriarchy --not really going to deny that-- but the audience for "female-driven" stories is being fed, and what's more, they also have an appetite for other things.

They can, despite the feminist patronizing, hold in their minds a desire to see both The Hunger Games and Non-Stop.  It's not that they want to let their sisters down.

It's just that they have more open minds.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

GWAR is No More

If there's a hell, Dave Brockie is surely sitting on one of its beaches, giving himself a fire and brimstone tan and drinking cocktails with Jeffrey Dahmer and Saddam Hussein.

The GWAR frontman, better known as Oderus Urungus, was found dead in his home at age 50.  The cause of death has not been released, but it's suspected that he died of syphilis caught from the retarded midget he kept in basement as a sex slave.


He was a rock god and a homicidal genius, so when you hit your crack pipe today, give a puff for Dave Brockie.

R.I.P. Oderus

Two favorites:






This isn't a music video.  It's just Oderus walking around at SXSW.  And it's hilarious.


Thursday, March 20, 2014

Another False Start

Since it's becoming a kind of blog feature, I'm going to try and post some more of my false starts as they come up. These are things that could be stories, if I had a mind to finish them.  Sometimes I want to go in another direction and sometimes I'm just playing around.

Looking through my files, I found this one.  I can't remember where I was going with it, but reading it again several months after writing it, I was semi-impressed.  I was clearly going for a Elmore Leonard/Michael Connelly thing here, and that's probably why I left it.

But, you know, it's worth a read.  Mingle, who's a royal bastard, and Boone, who's a stand-up guy, will be back, I'm sure.  Check it out after the jump and let me know what you think in the comments.

Happy

I hate to admit that most of the new music I've heard in the last year or so has come from movies, TV shows, or commercials.  In my old age, I'm just not that concerned about hearing the hot new jams.  I don't care if it's new or popular;  I just care that it's good.

But I heard a song in a commercial last night and it became an earworm today.  I had heard it before, but couldn't have told you what it was called or who did it.

Thinking it might be both popular and new, I checked out the Billboard Top 100.  Surely it had to be on there, and through a process of elimination, I could probably find it.

Bam, it's the number one song in the country.


I wonder why...

(Shoulda known it was Pharrell...  Many a time over the years, he's reached through my metal-soaked resistance to pop music and grabbed me by the ears.  Here's to you, buddy.)

Thursday, March 13, 2014

True Detective

Now that True Detective is over, can the haters please stop griping about it? Watch some other show for Christ's sake. This lady encapsulates all that I can't stand about True Detective griping:
I’m not saying that women can’t or don’t like True Detective. Obviously, I like True Detective. But I think whatever else it is, True Detective is an unfettered celebration of two men, men whose flaws and doubts and mistakes only make them more heroic, and this has been integral to the show becoming a phenomenon. The series has a lady problem, yes, but it is also a bro bonanza. It looks and feels like an all-time great drama, not just because of its production values, performances, and themes. It also looks like an all-time great drama because it’s mostly men on the screen.
I have seen so much commentary in this vein about the show that I can only laugh at it now.  It's as if these women are so used to be catered to on other shows that they cannot accept that there exists a show about men.

And seriously....get over yourselves, ladies.

Take a page out of the Dude Book.   Faced with an overly girly show that has no natural appeal to us, we don't say, "This show would be better if it had more dudes."  No, we shrug our shoulders and say, "Well, I guess I'm not watching that shit."  And we watch something else.

We don't wonder about what we're missing on Grey's Anatomy.  We just don't care.  Try it sometime.
***
It goes without saying that I'm a huge fan of True Detective.  Mileage obviously varies, but the show was firing on all cylinders with me.  It was strange listening to some of my own thoughts come out of Rust's mouth, and Marty was the kind of complicated, contradictory character that I'm most interested in.  I didn't mind that the "mystery" didn't have some profound explanation, or that loose threads were left to dangle.  The "mystery" is, or should be, the least interesting thing of any mystery story.

I can't wait to buy it on blu ray and watch it again.

Saturday, March 08, 2014

Nirvana Sucks

This made me laugh:
I was listening to some music with the kids the other day and Ollie saw the cover for Nevermind in my iTunes and asked, "hey Daddy, what's that one with the floating baby?" So we played some songs and tried to explain what that album had meant to so many people, but I didn't do it justice. How do you explain culture shifts to kindergarten-age children? "Everything was the same as it was before, except that everything was different. Does that make sense?" In the end, I pulled a power-dad move and said, "I guess you just had to be there."
 Just the other day I was listening to some old Soundgarden tunes, wondering who still listens to Nirvana.  Nirvana always seemed like the most over-rated of the Seattle bands, as much a product of MTV as all the hair metal bands that Nirvana came to slay.  They had one fairly solid album, and a couple more that were comprised mostly of filler.  They changed the scene, no doubt, but not for the better. 

Indeed, if I were to thank someone for five years of crappy indie rock on the radio, for Metallica's "Load" period, for the dearth of screaming girls at rock shows, I'd thank Nirvana. 

Me, being facetious:  Thanks, Nirvana, for taking all the joy out of rock music.


Wednesday, March 05, 2014

Deals

This weekend I procured two new chairs from random people on Craigslist.  Plagued with muscle spasms in my back, I was looking for some damn relief.

Bam, I find a leather massage chair for $135.  This thing is like a medical device, weighs a half ton, rumbles quite loudly when it's all going, but it looks good, sits comfortably, and it works great.  The big downside is the recline function only works electronically, and it's comically slow. 

It's a great addition to my living room, but I needed something for the man cave.

Bam, I find a chair they're giving away for free.  All leather, they say it works great.  In the pictures, it's big and overstuffed.  Compared to the massage chair, it's light as a feather.  This one doesn't rub your back, but the recline function is on a lever. 

And it was free.

Two new chairs, $135 and some gas money.

Best part about it, yesterday was the first day in a long time that didn't end with a knot of throbbing pain in my back.