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April 27, 2006

And then he . . .

Huric4Ne Persiancarpet 1440X900
Click images for desktop size: "Persian Carpet" by HuRiC4nE
I like movies. I like stories, even abstract stories by Stan Brakhage.
What I like is the way some stories have a small interest and then build to something great and then that spins into another story you weren't expecting which leads to something even greater.
Its what guys like Andrew Sarris see in the films of Charlie Chaplin and Don Seigal, not just the economy of their story telling but the way small things follow on and on to one huge shattering conclusion, a plastic epiphany.
Its the thing, I told you that story so I could tell you this!
For now I'm going to relate the story of Andy Lau, a Hong Kong actor.
Lau made a Korean Film titled “In The Mood For Love”. It was a monster hit, everywhere in the world but North America. Lau was the first Asian actor to win the Best Acting prize at the Cannes Film Festival.
He was so popular he had romantic leading roles in 3 very successful French films. He started to creep into some of those sexiest man in the world lists.
Hollywood was sniffing. It looked like he was on the verge of superstardom.
Interesting story so far. Kid from the streets struggles and gets rich with only some talent and some good looks.
Then Lau pulled the switch that makes your jaw drop.
Personalbest Instead of laying back and reaping the rewards he returned to Hong Kong, this was after the British had left and China was reclaiming its own. he came back and produced a movie he wanted to make.
The film was “Running On Karma”. Lau plays a Bhuddist monk who has left the temple to work as a male stripper . . . I can see guys throwing money at Lau just because of the millions of women who would love to see him naked.
That's not what the movies about. Westerners have a pretty vague concept of Karma. I guess its similar to a Shinto priest trying to grasp the Holy Trinity or the Immaculate Conception.
Now in this film - the male stripper part - this had to horrify the investors: lau does not actually appear nude. He wears a prosthetic body that makes him look like Lou Ferrigno in his prime. Its odd and at first off putting. Its clearly expensive and effective if it were being worn by someone who was not an international star it would deceive the eye and the mind.
Back to the story - Lau, the characters name is Big, is working at this club which is raided just as he exposes himself. He's busted for obscenity by a female cop. He claims entrapment as she was the one screaming loudest for him to show the goods.
While he's being hauled away he touches the lady cop and this is when we discover that he is a priest and we discover that he left the temple because he has a gift: He can see a person's karma.
This is hard to grasp for me. I learned about karma because of the John Lennon song, “Instant Karma”. That makes me far from an expert or anything at all.
When Big touches the cop he sees those moments in her past life, the actions and decisions that have bought her to this moment in her current life and also those moments in her current future and her future lives.
Asian reviewers seemed to have no problem with this but Western reviewers were as perplexed as I was.
Clearly this is not the way to make an international smash hit as Lau had proven himself capable of doing.
There is a set up side bar, a serial killer is terrifying Hong Kong. Big, after seeing this deep into someone's soul has no choice but to help her in her karmic meeting.
This provides some decent action scenes but the killer is caught quickly. When Big touches the killer he senses that the killers karma and the cops are not at all intertwined.
Machine
Click images for desktop size: "Machine" by Zipangu

This is the wrong serial killer.
The plot gets complicated, interestingly so, and is still full of lush surprises and attractive photography.
There's another serial killer who has been hiding out in the mountains near Big's old monastery. The ambitious cop sees this as a chance to both get Big to respond to her advances and as a chance to advance her career.
With Big as a guide they set off.
Big is blasted by karmic influences when he enters the mountains to the point of not being able to tell if the murder of the female cop is past present or future.
In these sometimes beautiful sometimes clumsy montages it is soon apparent why he HAD to leave the monastery but not the faith. There are also subtle clues as to his choice of life in the real world where he is trying to change his own karmic fortune.
But the cop is dead. Really, brutally dead.
Big buries her. His sorrow is partially at his own inability to change karma.
He begins to hunt down the killer, only part of his motive being love for the cop. It is a four year pain filled hunt.
1906 Moving Picture Advert-1 When he finally does catch the lunatic he finds that the killer is more lunatic than monster, lost and frightened from his years wandering the mountains alone.
It is a charitable act for Big to take him down the mountain and surrender him to the authorities.
And when they finally do reach the end of their trip - this is where the film says, “I had to tell you all of that so you would understand this.”
After the years wandering and hunting Big has lost his musculature. He is now just thin. His hair has fallen out, so he is as bald as a monk.
When he nears the town he is greeted with a hero's reception for capturing the mad killer. He passes through it and tenderly hands over the lunatic.
He walks through the crowd ignoring everything and they seem to take the hint and ignore him in their quest to get a better view of the notorious murderer.
Big stops and borrows a cigarette, lights it and walks off.

And this is the film he chose to make instead of “Lethal Weapon 6” or whatever other high concept project he was offered.
I thought the ending was one of the most beautiful I had ever seen. So did most of the Asian audience.

Now I put you through all of that so you might understand this:
I've been ill. Bad ill, but not fatally ill.
There's nothing positive to report except I'm still alive. The list keeps growing and I feel threatened by the fact that I have no more freedom. I have to get to a pharmacy at least once a month. Which doesn't sound so bad but feels terrible.
There's more doctors coming up.
I missed a day of work and that bothers me the most.
My little puppy, she makes me smile all the time.

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April 21, 2006

My life is a series of small destructions
F Scott Fitzgerald

Colour Face
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The pain came sneaking up on me last night. It responded to painkillers so not that big a deal.
My vision seems to be worsening. They don't consider it an emergency so no Doctor until Weds. at SEVEN THIRTY!!! IN THE MORNING!!
This afternoon both of my hands started to cramp up badly. This used to frighten me but now I don't panic. It takes all the strength from the opposite hand but I can bend the hands back into position. It was going from hand to hand for a while. They're still sore but its only worrisome because it probably indicates something.
What worries me is that my puppy gets agitated when I'm unwell. So, if she seems to be picking up on it I make a point of going outside and playing as hard as I can.
That calms her down.
Like most of us, she loves to play.

ImmortalbelovedI spent the evening watching the Godzilla sequel.
I liked it fine. There were a number of things I enjoyed on a “camp” level. (Like the fact that Godzilla just reappeared after being savagely killed in the first. It's handled by saying, “That Godzilla is dead at the bottom of the sea. This is a new Godzilla!”)
Some things were just cool; like the first ever giant monsters fighting in the middle of Osaka sequence - very black and white, very energetic and very fun in a WWF way.
I also liked the way Godzilla not only reappeared but he reappeared locked in combat with a giant armadillo
They decided this beast was an Angliasaurus . . . hence to be named Anglia . . .
They elucidated comments about Anglia come from a copy of the encyclopedia Brittanica. They only have one copy so there is some argument around the conference table about who gets to hold the actual book. But then I found the next bit very amusing (A digression here; one of my best friends is an archaeologist - he told me about a popular archeological insanity - he had found a small piece of pottery about 1 inch square, from this he surmised the shape of the pot, which he envisaged as an ornate gilded piece, and from that he envisaged the pedestal it had to sit upon, from that the room, from that the castle that held the room, from that the society that held the castle, complete with laser swords and flying horses. Its a common problem in the isolated scientific community, I guess. the film ended with it probably being a pot some ancient woman used to boil clothes and turnips in.)
Anyway, its decided that the “expert” should be the one to hold the book . . . so he can refer to it I suppose.
“We have found a bone from an ancient Anglia. From it we know it was a meat eating creature. It was virtually indestructible. Its only vulnerable spots being its neck and stomach. The Anglia was the enemy of all the war like creatures. We men of science are pleased that its appearance battling with Godzilla bears this all out. Gentlemen, we have no weapons capable of defeating Anglia short of the hydrogen bomb.”
Alpha Howl
Click images for desktop size: "Alpha Howl"
I liked that from one bone they could tell it was the enemy of all war like creatures. I liked that there were ancient war like creatures. The question come to mind about where it views mankind but that is outside the plot.
What happened next is rather incredible. It reminded me of why I loved being a film student. In any film, I think, there is always a chance for great beauty. Sometimes the most dreadful films will happenstance into a beautiful shot, a elegiac moment.
the “expert” decides to show a film of Godzilla, so that the community will remember the terror they are about to deal with. He turns on a silent 16 mm projector.
We see the projected image against the blank wall while we watch the entire conclusion of the original Gojira flic. But we watch it in dead silence.
At first there is the steady click of the projector but as the carnage crescendo's it too falls into silence. And then all there is, is the image of the monster destroying the world.
It wasn't until the next film, King Kong VS Godzilla, that the special effects got lousy and the plotting started is saccharine turn and bathetic nausea inducing turgidity.
In these films the ambition is high, the characters intense and purely Japanese. It attempts and often succeeds, in giving an insight into a people's soul.
And that is probably enough words about movies starring men in rubber suits.

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April 18, 2006

Somewhere

Michael Kaluta
Click images for desktop size: "Untitled" by Michael Kaluta
Today I discovered that I received a subscription to the New York TImes. This surprised me because I'd gotten no papers, just a bill.
I called and found out that a telemarketer supposedly called me and I had ordered it . . .
They cancelled it with such ease it makes me skeptical. Shame. The idea of subscribing to the Times sounded pretty good to me, but not with those sort of tactics.

My biggest discovery today was that the pain I'm feeling has subsided. I have to quantify my pain so much for the doctors it is easy to say that it has ebbed to about 25% of the norm.
There's no rational reason for this so I can concoct my own wild theories.
I ascribe it to:
a) A good puppy
b) wearing fairly decent socks and underwear

Manfriday I don't see how anyone can argue about a puppy being good for whatever ails you. As they bring therapy dogs to scenes of disasters as well as to hospitals it just seems so obvious now.
But decent socks and underwear . . . its hard to believe I'm promoting this concept . . . reminds me of a Canadian columnist from the early 70's who published a much reviled piece on how disgusting he found it to see people using the toilet during the day when there wasn't a bidet close by . . .
But its true. Not wearing 10 pair of socks for $5, and 5 pair of underwear for $5 makes me feel better. It just feels nicer, more peaceful more relaxed and hence less pain.
I think that no one except the people who've had to experience both ends of the spectrum could comprehend this.
I still wouldn't prescribe this as an analgesic. I am the guy who walked around for 2 weeks with a fractured skull and finally went to the doctor because the head ache wouldn't go away . . .

I watched Godzilla the other day. The actual original 1954 one all in Japanese that DIDN'T have Raymond Burr playing Reporter Steve Martin. Briefly the US distributor bought a 100 minute film cut it down to 65 minutes and then added 14 minutes of Raymond Burr and other Americans explaining things. I liked that version. I like Godzilla.
This one surprised me. It was not camp. And for a movie that features a fifteen story lizard played by a guy in a rubber suit it was a shock how serious the film was. You could almost call it an allegory. Less than 10 years previously Japan was the only country to be nuked.
They discovered child mutations, radiation sickness; the new death. Under those extremes its not hard to accept a legendary fire breathing dragon rising from the sea and creating death and destruction. It was their tragedy and manifesting that rag, fear and impotence into the shape of a 150 foot thing makes some sense.
Its odd but the ambition seemed to be more towards Kurosawa and Mizoguchi than Hollywood.
I also have the sequel. A different distributor picked it up and had no rights to use the American name Godzilla so its called, “Gigantis, The Fire Lizard”. The Japanese title translates out as “Godzilla Raids Again.”
It has a giant armadillo in it so you know I'm jazzed.

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April 16, 2006

The day of . . .

Just Not Right Wallpaper By Wingless One
Click images for desktop size: "Just Not Right" by Wingless One
It was a pleasant Easter.
We started off at the Hospital for an Easter Egg hunt with the kids.
There is no scene of anarchy, confusion or child like madness that a black puppy cannot . . . enhance.
There were some new kids there. My puppy is a therapy dog and the kids adore her near as much as I do.
There was quite a bit of the longer term kids claiming that my puppy loved them more.
It was a successful party. My silly DVD which consists of nothing but pix and shots of my puppy running about like a buffoon was incredibly popular with the 9 and under crowd. They watched it twice. I left them with a copy of the Lassie movie for this evening but they all claimed to just want to see her movie again.
Tenants [02] She helped them hunt eggs and despite my requests, the kids fed her a lot of junk. If you looked at them the immediate answer was, “She just took it from me!” Walking home my puppy vomited and was greatly distressed that I wouldn't let her sort through it for good bits.
Other than diarrhea she's shown no ill effects. In fact she's been driving me crazy with constant playing.
One thing everyone notices about her after a while is that she is always happy. Even when she is being serious or thoughtful she is happy and smiling.
I'm glad for that.
She makes me happy and makes me smile all the time too.
Tomorrow our Vet, Doctor K is coming back to work after giving birth to a near TEN POUND baby girl!
I have to give her another copy of the infamous puppy DVD. A vet is someone else who might not find all 8 minutes tedious.
My eyes are still giving me fits. As usual I've come to peace with that.

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April 11, 2006

Viva les Rock & Roll

Gearing
Click images for desktop size: "Gearing" by Zipangu
I've neglected a number of things lately.
I've been preparing the summer workout programs for 46 players.
Too much of it is fundamental. I have kids running with heel flicks (weak inner thighs), discombobulated coordination between hands and feet, pigeon toes, the gamut.
This is one of the few times I haven't been able to just create a half dozen programs and modify them slightly for the individual. Here I've had to prepare about 24.
It will be worth it if the kids do the 15 minute drills at least once a day during the summer. If they do it will be a noticeable improvement. Easy to say that there will be at least a .3 to 1 second improvement in their 40 times and at least .5 to .75 second improvements in their 20 times.
This isn't a testament to the efficacy of my program but to the neglect that has been heaped on their running form.
I have to get them running properly before I can work on refining and extracting the full potential from them. Superman, Ep#00-C (1948-Teaser) For the most part these are good kids. I expect them to work the programs. You can see the glimmer in them. They want to be the best.
just want them to have the tools available to be the best.
I want them to have a fair chance to win or lose.
They'll be okay.

I'm struggling some. Work, pain, health. It gets to be a tedious existence. I do exist though and that's saying something. Something positive.
My vision is concerning me the most right now. Its a side effect to the chemo. No one will tell me that its only temporary so its a fair bet that its permanent. Hopefully its acute and not chronic and pernicious.
My puppy continues to lighten my days. Her games and bad doggie jokes always amuse me.
What I don't like is when I wake up and find her staring at me, her face inches from mine. She doesn't want anything except to make sure that I am alive. When I reach out she accepts a cursory pet and then goes back to lie down and sleep.
I guess in her mind she's done her job.
I don't mind that. I don't like her stressing over me. I don't like to think of her worrying or experiencing anything that might be interpreted as pain.

I'm embarrassed to say how much I've enjoyed new socks and underwear. I couldn't afford the best so I got stuff in the middle range. They feel so much better than the cheapest stuff I was wearing. These help me to feel clothed where the cheapest stuff just kept me from being naked.
I even enjoy the 32 bucks a bar soap I have to use. Laszlo works. My skin feels less dead, more elastic. Their is no more pain in the skin. I can smile all the way to my eyes with no discomfort. Thirty two bucks is a bargain for that alone.

In music I've been more and more bored. the new Alkaline Trio album, “Crimson” is okay but nothing on it burns as bright as “Good Mourning”. I knew that “This Could Be Love” was a once in a lifetime track but nothing on “Crimson” rises to the level of “Every Thug Needs A Lady.” Its okay but I was hoping for so much more.
The new Flaming Lips album is just sort of listless. Not a total waste but nothing joyous for me in the tracks at all.
I guess I'll keep feeling like grandpa and dredging through the old stuff.

Baseball season has finally started. Go teams.

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April 7, 2006

Only love can break your heart

Clog Them Veins Widescreen By Bigger K
Click images for desktop size: "Clog Them Veins" by Bigger K
There's a little carnival at the field where we practice tonight. After practice we watched them set up, you know making the rides safe while they struggled through hours of driving and hang overs.
Someone was playing a radio and it was there that I heard that Gene Pitney had died on April the fifth. People are generally confused by my fascination with Gene Pitney.
As a performer I hated him. He was a “Sharp Stick Boy”, you know, the careening falsetto thing. He had a light tenor but tried for the big pop opera effect perfected by Roy Orbison. He was a skillful arranger and knew how to get a pop orchestra to hit those giddy little hooks and give them weight.
Seeing him live was fascinating. I hated the whole show but even then it felt like I'd been wrung through an emotional cement mixer.
Then when I was about to discount him totally I'd find out something by chance, like he wrote the Crystals, “He's A Rebel”. Or that he wrote “Hello Mary Lou” while parked in his cherry red 39 Ford Coupe, parked along the reservoir. He wrote Bobby Vee's cool hit, “Rubber Ball” because he loved Buddy Holly.
Zombies Of The Stratosphere, Ep#00-A (1952-Teaser) For me those things are totally cool and not in keeping with the guy who did, “The Man Who Shot Liberty
Valance” or the uselessly lurid “A Town Without Pity”. And then without even thinking about him you'd hear a track like “Follow The Sun” a totally cool tune with rolling tympani's and pound sparse drums. And when you recognized it was Pitney you'd kind of curse yourself for being fooled, for liking something he'd made.
When he recorded “Something's got A Hold Of My Heart” as a duet with Marc Almond (Soft Cell) when Pitney sang he dominated the recording and made it painful to hear Almond's voice when it came back. That record went to number 1 so you had to hear way to often but somehow Pitney's voice had character. It had sincere emotion.
When you heard pop divas covering it tracks, like “I'm Going to be Strong” and “It Hurts to Be In Love” its painful. They never got the point. Pitney's main skill was in gross manipulation. Its one of the reasons it was so easy to hate him. He knew how to do it and knew that bombast had to be edged into. He knew that screeching away like every word was important and meant the end of the world was wearisome and fatiguing.
All in all I suddenly had to concede he had talent. Probably a lot of talent.
I've got the windows open and I can hear the sounds of the carnival down the street. You know how the carnys play music loud through cheesy speakers. Been listing to old elvis stuff and just now they played Pitney's “It Hurts To be In Love”. The only one of his angst tunes that had a heavy beat.
Pitney died after performing a sell out concert in Cardiff Wales. He showed no signs of illness. He went to his hotel room and died in his sleep.
I think I'm going to miss him.

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April 2, 2006

The fate that lies before us

Purity Wallpaper By Subterfugemalaises
Click images for desktop size: "Purity" by Subterfuge Malaises
It was a beautiful day. A day to listen to birds sing, butterflies flutter and to watch my puppy expect the world to always be this kind and wonderful.
Yesterday the special clinic was successful. Forty four kids showed up and four sent word that they had to work.
I've held similar things where it was just me and one other kid. The quantity isn't ultra important to me. Of course I missed the 6 who didn't come.
It was one of my Shark sessions - named after my brave dog of long ago - Sharky, named so because if she stopped moving she thought she'd die.
We did forty eight minutes of constant motion. Forty eight minutes is how long it takes to play an high school game. I always thought that to play at max for 1 hour you had to enter the game prepared to go for three.
I only had three kids quit, not the session, they just had to take a break. Only one vomited and none passed out.
I ended the session with a team race. Some of you've been through that with me.
Four teams - 11 athletes on each. They link arms and race as a unit.
Velvet Fingers Ep#10 One hundred yards. The winner gets to stop and the other 3 continue till they're finished. I think it builds character, interdependence as well as team work and competitiveness.

To leave the office I have to walk through the locker room. I try not to eaves drop but I still heard the kids chattering and discussing me.
One kid said, “He's a volunteer? He don't get paid?”
Another answered, “yeah, he just gets off on torturing us!”
And another said, “I don't know. I feel like I'm getting something out of this.”
I kept walking but I didn't hear anyone knocking the last speaker down.
I felt pretty good about that.

Coaching and then work tomorrow.
Work is a grind. It's worse this time period because of money. The last check was small and was 21 days between pay checks. Vagaries of the calendar that no one in an exec position cares about. They do not value their employees.
Being broke gets hard.
I keep making lists of things I plan to buy. Pathetically the list is headed with, “Socks, underwear, fuzzy bathroom rug . . . ”

While I enjoyed not being poked by doctors for the last two weeks I'm looking forward to seeing them this Weds. The sickness is overwhelming.
If I thought that they had planned it this way, to encourage me not to hate seeing them, I'd have more respect for them. I figure it just is one of those things.

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