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February 19, 2017

If voting changed anything, they'd make it illegal
Emma Goldman

JW McGinnis
Click images for desktop size: "Untitled" by JW McGinnis

Meiko Kaji. It's a name you don't hear much anymore but for a while she was pretty iconic in Japan.
I first became aware of her in the "Lady Snowblood" movies. The Ghastly Ones These films fall short of being chambray classics for me, but still Tarentino copped liberally from them and even used two of Kajhi's recordings as theme music in the "Kill Bill" movies.
One thing that fascinated me about Kaji in the "Snowblood" films was her face. She seems to have mastered, or been born with, a face that enables you to read your own emotions into any scene. In other words her face manages to reflect your own feelings.
This was further proven when I stumbled across her Scorpion films. Briefly the Scorpion movies have Kaji as a hardened convict, Matsu. These movies are really over the top. Penal reform seems to consist of state sanctioned gang rape, over a year of solitary confinement chained hand and foot to the cold wet floor, (the year Matsu uses to sharpen a spoon into a knife honing the blade against the stone floor using only her teeth!)
Kaji uses only two expressions through the movies. They are ample. Lingering closeups and Vertovian editing conveys an emotional depth to these movies that is exceptional. One elegant sequence features a 100 foot cascading waterfall that gradually turns to blood. This is a practical effect which makes it even more stupefying in a Fleur De Mal kind of way.
But equally breathtaking is Kaji's flaccid appraisal of the horrifying miracle. Putting it into words would be like trying to describe the Mona Lisa or detail of Heronymous Bosch. The nattering of Manu's fellow convicts is a relief from the grim spectacle.
My next accidental discovery were the Stray Cat Rock movies. They all star Kaji, but in different roles. The 3 best movies all have some common traits. One is that Kaji wears only a single unchanged outfit Mike Kaluta's Shadow
Click images for desktop size: "The Shadow" by Mike Kaluta
in each, so her stylish look becomes a mere uniform of conformity. Even though the series was shot in the 70's in this Japan the Summer of Love never excited! The heft chunks of music are all defiantly mid 60's, often to exciting delirious effect. The dancing, the Japanese music are all mid 60's cool and hot. Imagine the Peanuts (the two miniature women in the Godzilla films who would sing "Maaawthra, Maaawthora") covering the Shangri-Las and you're close to it. I do hope that these were big deal bands in Japan, sort of like The Animals appearing in "Winter Carnival" or the like.
The plots to these 3 little films are intriguing. In all of them Kaji plays an aloof and very tough girl gang leader, fast with a blade and a decision. I get them confused but one of them has the bad boy gang driving around in surplus US Army jeeps! The leader decides to get rid of all the half breeds in201702191926.jpg town. (Half breeds are Japanese and white or black children from occupying soldiers. They are all portrayed as hard working men trying to just get by as opposed to the gang members who are just coasting on the hustle.)
The next is two out oft owners who've befriended a US Viet Nam deserter. They plan to finance a trip to Sweden by selling 500 caps of LSD. The math escapes me as it seems that to raise the $30,000 for the boat means each cap wpu;d have to sell for about $60, which is somehow not quite right. But, anyway, some members of Kaji's gang steal the LSD. The 3 fellows approach Kaji and explain their plight. For some reason helping a US Army deserter is such a just cause in her mind that she makes her girls return the stolen drugs.It doesn't end well for anyone.
And the last of the 3 good ones has a tall girl who everyone mistakes for a man? She even sings a song with one of the bands and sounds like a male. It good blasé fun,
"Wild Jumbo" Is something of a waste of Kaji's talent and a waste of time. "Beat '71" is the only one of the movies to go psychedelic. It's an abuse. Kaji is a terrible victim and that's all she is here. She also gets minimal screen time. It would be a total waste except for one inexplicable scene. For no apparent reason a Japanese hippy band shows up on a flat bed truck. The truck has a banner that says, I think, "The Kings of Rock". The lead singer plays the wadaiko, while the band plays aheavily percussive tune that's pretty good, a bit like Plan 9: crunching guitar, cowbell and trap set. After they play the number the truck drives off and one of the actors says, "Who were those guys?" and the reply is, "I have no idea." which sort of sums the whole flick up nicely.
All I'm really saying is that Meiko Kaji is cool in the same way that Bardot and Tuesday Weld are cool. She brings something gracious to the screen and to life. It's worthwhile checking out her movies.

Cool and Crazy 40

The title of this podcast is a pun . . . I thought it was funny even if I do have to explain it. It's acoustic, cowboy song stuff.

Signed D.C. (alt) - Love
A World Of Our Own - Seekers
It's Gonna Be Alright - Gerry and The Pacemakers
Rosemary Rose - Kinks
Three Steps To Heaven (Version 2) - Eddie Cochran
Bird Dog - Everly Brothers
A Teenager In Love - Lou Christie
I'm Low, Low, Low - Loy Clingman
Play That Cheap Trick - Tommy Womack
It's In The Bottle - Robert Gordon
Hey Joe - Ed Kuepper
Knapsack - Amy Rigby
Waimea - Travoltas
Wild Thing - Senator Bobby
A Thousand Miles From Nowhere (alt) - Dwight Yoakam
Treat Me Nice - Glen Glenn
For Your Love - Graham Gouldman
School's Out - Hellsongs
Singing In The Rain - John Martyn
Tompkins Square Blues - Optic Nerve
Don't - Persuasions
Waterloo Sunset - Peter Bruntnell
Ordinary World - Green Day
What Exactly - PF Sloan
A Day In The Life - Phil Angotti
Set Me Free - Pineapples
Dream Lover - Ricky Nelson
Sunrise - Who
Living Next Door To Alice - Smokie
Thirteen - Sparkle Jets UK
First Time - Teenage Bottle rocket
What Am I Doing Hangin' Round? - Those Big Belt Buckles
Find Another Man - Travis Wammack
Streets Of Laredo - Webb Wilder
Thank You - Whigs


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August 24, 2015

I got you to look after me, and you got me to look after you, and that's why.
John Steinbeck

1946 Esquire by Vargas
Click images for desktop size: "1946 Esquire" by Vargas
Back in the day movie music used to be not much but Miklos Roza and Ben Hur kind of things. Then "Blackboard Jungle" with "Rock Around the Clock" and Elvis changed all of that; for the better I think.
50,000 B.C. (BEFORE CLOTHING) I think it was Frank Zappa who pointed out that the best thing about "Blackboard Jungle" and Elvis in the movies was that there weren't any parents yelling to turn it down! No wonder some theaters reported riots and switch blade vandalism.
So this collection is nothing but a mess of music from TV shows and movies. I hope some of it is surprising and all of it fun in a Big Beat way. Odd to me is that pop music has pretty much taken over the media. I mean, you can take almost any reasonable song and find out some show or movie has used it. Alan Arkush took this to its peak or its nadir with "Crossing Jordan", and then David Chase and T Bone Burnett turned the quirky pop song soundtrack into its own growing genre. It also makes some embarrassing moments such as a review of the newer Fantastic Four movie where this person said the most exciting moment of the movie was recognizing a fave tune in Invisible Girl's ear buds!
This stuff isn't like that. Like I said, it's intended to be fun and you can dance to it. I can't think of any reason you wouldn't want to do that.
I've tended to use cover versions, just because they tend to be less mawkish than the originals and a bit more fun. One exception is "Love Is All Around" which Wet Wet Wet turned into a massive hit for "Notting Hill" by adding strings and aspartame to the max, then singing it in a smooth smooth tenor. I prefer the original which is sung by a dazed punk who just a few months before just wanted to do the "Wild Thing" with, probably, the same girl.



My Life In Motion Pictures
The Good, The Bad And The Ugly - Los Plantronics
Sing, Sing, Sing - Flat Duo Jets
Batusi A-Go! Go! - Or - (I Shouldn't Wish To Attract Attention) - Nelson Riddle
Ben - Me First And The Gimme Gimmes
Stand - REM
Cry Me A River - Jeff Beck
The Lonely Bull - Duo Tones
One Eyed Jack - Jailbirds
Battleship Chains - Georgia Satellites
Soul Man (stereo) - Sam And Dave
Runaway ('Crime Story' version) - Del Shannon
Poison Ivy - Vulcanes
Hang 'Em High - Sandblasters
Little Green Bag - George Baker Selection
Travelin' Man - Ricky Nelson
(What's So Funny 'Bout) Peace, Love And Understanding - Matthew Sweet And Susanna Hoffs
The Ballad Of Paladin - Johnny Western
Action - Freddy Cannon
High School Confidential - Blasters
Misirlou - Emotionals
Duke Of Earl - Gene Chandler
Goldfinger - Man or Astro-Man?
With a Girl Like You - Rutles
Do Anything You Wanna Do - Flashcubes
For A Few Dollars More - Death Valley
Goo Goo Muck - Frank Popp Ensemble
(Theme From) The Monkees (Previously Unissued Early Version) - Monkees
Five O'Clock World - Vogues
Eve Of Destruction - Dickies
Oh, Pretty Woman - Rockapella
Dead Flowers - Barney Bentall And The Legendary Hearts
Love Is All Around - Troggs
North To Alaska - Dwight Yoakam
You're So Vain - Tony Randall And Jack Klugman
Inner-Manipulations - Barry McGuire
The Riddler - Riddler
I'm Blue (The Gong-Gong Song) - Ikettes
Bits and Pieces (stereo/vinyl) - Dave Clark Five
Couldn't Get It Right - Climax Blues Band


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January 27, 2013

I'd rather sing one wild song and burst my heart with it, than live a thousand years watching my digestion and being afraid of the wet
Jack London

Beacon By Darcy
Click images for desktop size: "Beacon" by Darcy
There's been a lot going on. Too much really, and all that sort of stuff that to understand this story I have to tell you this other story first and then this other story third.
There's the old sufi story, "When sewn into a bag of oats one can panic or one can be like the mouse and slowly eat your way out." Or one can think about other great stories and the state of the world. Hickey And Boggs Hence, here's my list of the five greatest American novels.
  • The Long Goodbye by Raymond Chandler - To me, this is still the greatest American novel. It doesn't explain the world just the fabric and soul of a nation as encapsulated within Los Angeles. As everyone knows, as Hollywood goes so goes the world. In this story about friendship and devotions all the people are portrayed as human, faces loved by someone. Everyone has dreams, desires and a trace of nobility if one is open enough to see it. Even the evil and contemptible offer something glorious to the world and if you can't see it then it is because of the evil in you. There's plenty of politics here, all of the self serving and corrupt type. Politics makes even men of vision and hope finally succumb to the weariness of this world till they become as callous and embittered as the evil they seek to destroy.
    Robert Altman made of movie of this. It was terrible beyond believe.

  • The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck - Sadly, almost ridiculously this book is more pertinent today then it was to its contemporaries. The only thing is that the "bosses" have gotten more corrupt, more clever, and more ruthless and more heartless. This story holds up to the light the evil we have accepted and come to envy. How we have forgotten the Populism and drive that led us to love our fellow man is made clear in the way minor characters in the story are now harbingers of a grim future as apocalyptic as any cheesy sci-fi novel's worst dreamings.
    It's a story of people. The Joads are easy to identify with, in their simplicity, dumbness and urge to survive. That life is a black top highway is common knowledge to all of us from the Beauty Admiring A Warbler In A Plum Tree by Tsuki Settei
    Click images for desktop size: "Beauty Admiring a Warbler in a Plum Tree" by Tsuki Setti
    Far West.
    This book is so full of story and people that just skimming the film from the top of it like the skin from a hot cocoa gives enough material to make a great movie. And that happens so seldom except with those heavy Russian novels that are portentous and no fun at all.
    This book entertains, horrifies and educates. Looking at the past we can see our present and foretell the future. Politics, yeah we got it by the bucketful, and it's the politics we wish didn't exist.

  • The Journal of Albion Moonlight by Kenneth Patchen - America wasn't a superpower yet. Believing in her was betting on the underdog, the mongrel. It's easy now to be a jingoist xenophobia. We won and now we're fading out to join those other great empires of the past.Hammett
    Patchen's novel takes the same journey as the Joads took in Grapes of Wrath, but it is a different highway through a different country side. One where Adolph Hitler and Jesus Christ are hitchhikers riding in the same back seat of the same old Buick. And Hitler and Christ are only incidental characters we note almost in passing.
    It's a violent uncompromising vision of America. Accurate too. Right up to the final disintegration.

  • The Naked Lunch by William Burroughs - We need great books that make us laugh out loud. I first read this is high school. I passed it along to my friends and before long the entire team was yelling quotes at each other in the hallways and classrooms. We gave certain teachers and coaches nick names based on characters in the novel. Now I wonder what the school thought about their best, handsomest champions shouting out things like :I am the great Slashtubitch. You cannot fake the orgasm on me. I can tell if you come by the wiggle of your big toe."
    They made a weirds movie of this book, by David Cronenberg. The movie wasn't great at all. The novel is and will take you to an America ruled by caricatures who give into their basest desires and then put off the evil and monstrosities as being for our own good.

  • Ironweed by William Kennedy - The story of a second baseman.
    They made a movie of this book. When they announced it I said to people that it could be a great movie so long as they didn't cast Jack Nicholson and Meryl Streep in it. So of course it starred Jack Nicholson and Meryl Streep and of course it sucked.
    This is an amazing book.

This is the latest podcast. I'm still surprised that there are as many downloads of these as there are. Who knows why.
I'm proud of this one. It's what I wanted my wife's birthday podcast to sound like.

The Cool and The Crazy 8
Schooldays: LA

2013-01-19_coolandthecrazy-8-schooldaysinla.jpg
Travoltas - Endless Summer
Plimsouls - Good Times
Dorktones - Everlasting Love
Ramones - She's A Sensation
Third Bardo -Five Years Ahead Of My Time
Florian Munday & The Mundos - Rip It Up
Mink Jaguar - Red Queen
Boss Martians = Hey Hey Yeah Yeah
Bill Loyd - Trampoline (alt)
Wet Willie - Shout Bamalama
Exciters - Tell Him (unedited)
Red Cross - Yesterday Once More
Chesterfield Kings - Somewhere Nowhere
Jello Biafra - Convoy In The Sky
Teen Machine - Bitchin' Camaro
Crimson Ghost - Attitude
Trashmen - My Woodie
Astronauts - Our Car Club
DiMaggio Brothers - Every Breath You Take
Bob Dylan - You Belong To Me
Eddie Cochran - My Way
Big Daddy - Eye Of The Tiger
Everly Brothers - Gone, Gone, Gone
Blasters - Samson And Delilah
Outsiders - Time Won't Let Me
Brogues - I Ain't No Miracle Worker
Plan 9 - I'm Not There
King - Come As You Are
Herb - The Work Song
Yep - Waterloo Sunset
Come Ons - Strangelove
Toxic Audio - Lean On Me


May 18, 2012

Give a man a fire and he's warm for a day, but set fire to him and he's warm for the rest of his life
Terry Pratchett

Elephant
Click images for desktop size: "Elephant" by Unknown
I like movies from the early sixties. They were momentous movies and big stories that were only about people.Rinty
It was the bigness of ourselves that gave the stories their weight, the importance of ourselves to ourselves and to each other that made the morals important. The universe didn't have to be in jeopardy to keep our interest because there was enough universe in each of us to make any story interesting.
There was time to smile and laugh and tragedy didn't always mean that life could only end in death. It was a more complicated time because we were a more social race then. We were smarter and had to be better educated in order to survive and thrive in a world were madness only burbled over a distant horizon, instead of at our doorstep.
One such movie I can always quote is "Soldier In The Rain". It doesn't follow all of my guidelines but it's still pretty indicative. It starts out a light hearted military comedy but then, for a period grows dark. The dramatic impetus is the death of Steve McQueens dog, Donald.
We never see Donald in the movie, except for a small snapshot, but he is an overriding presence in the story, a thing that is real but also encapsulates all the hopes and dreams of a man, because that is simply what dog's do.
Loaded with grief Mcqueen retreats to his local bar to have a beer because that is what men do to swallow their grief. There, a few bar flies begin chatting him up trying to hustle some free drinks. McQueen talks about Donald and the bar flies give unconvincing support. McQueen talks in sad rapture about Donald and then orders a round for the barflies, He stands up and smiles then says, "Mister, you never had you no dog."
It's a scene from a moire that stayed with me since I was 8. A good scene that made a kid think about the awesomeness of a dog's love and the depth and capacity of a man's ability to love.
And today it reaffirms how much I love my little puppy.
With the Republican party leading the charge to try and tell us how we have to live instead of just giving us rules to co-exist by with each of us free to choose how to live I remain eternally grateful for dogs and the innocence of amateur sports.Skull Island-Kong
Click images for desktop size: "Kong-Skull Island" by Unknown

My puppy was eight years old on Tuesday. I look at her and I still see the skunky little puppy who demanded obedience and treats.
First time we met she bit me. Drew blood. She bit me and glared at me defiantly, from then on we were best friends. Shortly thereafter she got rejected by her mother and she ran to me for protection and an explanation.
When we were separated because of my heart attack and my eternal grief with governments we met again after six months. Six months where we were never permitted to say goodbye. She looked at me with terror and she bit me. When she was convinced I was not a zombie she leaned against me for pets.
A dog looks at you without prejudice. I love my wife but when she looks at me I know that she sees me through her lifetime of pain, hurts and joys. It's the only way we can look at anyone. We're only human. But dogs can look at you with nothing but love.
For eight years I've been blessed with a puppy who did anything she could to please me. She made me laugh. She commiserated when I was sad. She showed me that I could be more than I had any right to be.

June 18, 2011

You must die! I alone am best!
Yor Chun "Wutan Swordsman"

Minnesota Valley Canning Company by Andrew Wyeth
Click images for desktop size: "Minnesota Canning Company" by Andrew Wyeth
Life has been a chore lately. Debilitating heat and sweat mixed with hopeless rage and mercurial hopes.The Champ
Its like not much to walk 6 miles in a day but, nowadays, ending and starting your outside world day with that long walk and for it to be that way for 2 years is a feat, a testament to toughness and a gateway to helplessness. Independence comes at that cost most of the time.
My days have become tossing and turning in baed for 10 hours trying to get 4 hours of sleep. Then I walk around near zombie-ish for the rest of the day while I head into trying nights at work. It's a living.
So, I've been spending my idle thought cycles contemplating dogs. My puppy in particular and the species in general.
It's not that complicated. I'm not really capable of that complicated a thought process, pretty much like dogs. I'm reading this book about the emotional life of dogs: "For the Love of a Dog: Understanding Emotion in You and Your Best Friend" by Patricia B. McConnell, PhD. -whew- that's a mouthful and so is the book.
It gets pretty laboured at times especially when it tries to justify things that we intuit are right and good but really have no apt words to describe. The greatest pleasures in the book are when they codify, justify and give weight to things we already knew about dogs but were generally met with derision or at least sceptism by people who don't have it in them to be able to love another species.
I've never been able to grasp why not being able to love another species is considered cool, especially in the Judeo Christian ultra religious circle. Maybe loving an abstract that depends on faith wears out all their brain pan so they the synapses are too fatigued to love something that is standing at their side watching them with loving eyes. (I blame Thomas Aquinas a lot for this and Unknown
Click images for desktop size: "Untitled" by Unknown
the endless tripe this ancient bastard spewed out that became accepted as dogma. His whack job insistence that dogs had no more soul than a chair leg is so mean spirited and cause for so much cruelty that one can only hope he's wandering the same circle of hell as child rapists.)
I guess the best part of the book are those chunks that make you go, "HAH! I knew it!" I, for one, always enjoy being able to toss around a book with actual words that defend and protect my position on abstract and obscure matters.
I don't think that the book will convince the animal haters or move the stupider or shake the faith of those who condemn dogs to the same role as furniture and fashion accessories. It might convince doggie agnostics but just might. One thing that's annoying is that McConnell works most often with working dogs and justifies the working dog as the pinnacle of doggie achievement. My puppy is a working breed and I still feel that is hog wash. Dogs are dogs and selective breeding (further proof of evolution?) might have certain purebreds crazier than others, and selective breeding may have Burglar distilled certain traits, in my experience dogs are dogs. While I might find acclimating to a Belgium shepherd easier as I know what to expect from specific breed traits there is no doubt that each of the Belgiums who've I've met and have lived with have been as different as human beings are different.
Environment, expectations and education have a greater impact than fur or skin color.
I also think McConnell comes close to but shows the timidity of all Yul Brenner And Deborah Kerr
Click images for desktop size: "Brenner & Kerr"
over academic thinkers. She comes close to but shies away from the logical conclusion that dogs have a certain amount of reasoning and rough intelligence. I think that all emotions and their grade and intensity are predicated on intelligence anyway.
Sadly the idea that an animal has the ability to reason, that they have an ability to discern the difference between right and wrong is earth shattering and controversial. Rah! It isn't. I mean that mutant weasel who shot Congresswoman Gifford was found unfit to stand trial as he couldn't tell the difference between right and wrong (although he was sane enough to buy and own powerful hand guns??). I think my puppies are all capable of that sort of numbskull decision. The fact that they don't bite and crush our hands when they don't get the treats they want is proof of that.
Animal behaviorists like to ascribe that complicated thought process to simple learned behavior. Which is scardey cat twaddle or it can be put down that all humans are simple behavior machines. I reject that theory out of hand, except in the case of mutant weasels.
Like the giant dog has a joke. He likes to go to the door and act like he needs to go outside to go to the bathroom but as soon as you get to the door he spins around and jumps up on the couch and Unknown
Click images for desktop size: "Untitled" by Unknown
laughs and laughs.
It his joke. It's not a great joke at all but it's nearly as good as the jokes 4 and 5 year old humans have inflicted on me.
It also knocks the behaviorists theory for a loop. The only thing giant dog gets out of his joke is that he gets to laugh at you for getting up out of the chair. He gets satisfaction from convincing us he had to go to the bathroom. He gets no food, no treats, no physical satisfaction at all except the ability to laugh at us.
As to thought he had to imagine the result. He had to desire that result and logic out a way to arrive at that result. This is a creative complicated thought process with the payoff being laughter and amusement.
I wish the joke were better but he's just a dog.Canadian Mounties VS The Aliens

I've also added a new guitarist to my pantheon. Evan Foster of Boss Martians, Mystery Action and a stunning solo Surf album.
The Boss Martians are his main band but he's bursting with so many riffs that he starts as many side projects as Jack White! But Evan is cleaner and edgier than White. At first its not obvious how stunning Evan's guitar skills are. He believes, like me, that the song is the main thing, so his riffs are designed to make your jaw drop, they're designed to serve the song and let the tune rip your heart out. Avoid him at your peril.
His twisted cover of Link Wray's, "Fire And Brimstone" shows he has chops to better anybody, while his album "Instrumentals" is a maniacal take on reverb drenched excess.

One bright dot on the landscape is that I'm broke. Broke because I gave all my money to an immigration lawyer who seems very confident that my wife will be an American green card holder before Christmas.
That still makes me feel buoyant and happy.
Now it just has to happen and I will be happy.

May 25, 2011

Words mean exactly what I want them to mean
Humpty Dumpty via Lewis Carrol

Route 163 by Kuba Klewaniec
Click images for desktop size: "Route 163" by Kuba Klewaniec
Just finished re-reading Steinbeck's, "The Grapes of Wrath". Great book, great story.
What's crazy is that a rare masterpiece of a book was actually made into a masterpiece of a movie.The Blue Dahlia
I'm used to a masterpiece being decided as much by the medium as the content. I can think of great books making good movies and great movies being made from decent books, But almost no great movies coming from great books.
I think its a testament to John Ford that the hardest thing about reading the book is shaking the near indelible images from the film. And its a testament to John Steinbeck that it doesn't take long for Tom Joad to be talking in his own voice instead of Henry Fonda's, and for the Preacher to become something big and real instead of a creation of John Carradine's.
They're both great works and they stand independently without complimenting each other. They remain unique and special each unto themselves. I think this is mainly due to the brilliance of the story. Stories about people finding their own way in a terrible land full of promise, promise withheld from the people, are always the stuff that fires up my imagination, It's the sort of story that creates values and gives a vivid purpose to morals.
The book is what's in front of me now. We know the story, the dust storms and the banks that created the depression. The rich bastards that perpetuated the depression for their own self serving purposes.
In the book the enemy is spelled out plain: "when property accumulates in too few hands it is taken away. And that companion fact: when a majority of the people are hungry and cold they will take by force what they need. And the little screaming fact that sounds through all history: repression works only to strengthen and knit the oppressed. The great owners ignored the three cries of history. The land fell into fewer hands, the number of the dispossessed increased, and every effort of the great The Stranger DC Comics
Click images for desktop size: "The Stranger" by DC Comics
owners was directed at repression."
One of the things that sets literature apart from fiction is the ability of the writer to touch a stone and to see that stone from the gravel pit and into a future that exceeds his own generation's lifetime.
Steinbeck in telling the simple tragedy of the Joads driving a clunker 2,000 miles has set the stage for myth and metaphor. The simple plight of one family is amplified through it's present into ours so that people become symbols and names fail the reality and the names become us.
Explicit in "Grapes of Wrath" is the rise of the Populist movement in America. Populism terrified the big owners. They had to brand it with false names calling the adherents commies and reds. They were no such thing.
Populism believed in keeping people alive. It believed in self government , in supporting yourself and each other. It believed in feeding the children and in giving a man the dignity befitting a humanBorn To Be Bad being. Not very lofty ambitions.
The billionaires called the populists, reds, thugs, they called them an evil that would destroy America and they refused to let them alone and worked their hardest to destroy them. Steinbeck summed it up, "And the great owners, who had become through their holdings both more and less than men, ran to their destruction, and used every means that in the long run would destroy them. Every little means, every violence, every raid on a Hooverville, every deputy swaggering through a ragged camp put off the day a little and cemented the inevitability of the day."
See, the Koch Brothers haven't done anything new. They learned a few things. They appropriated the populist moniker and replaced swaggering deputies with racist young people and soft frightened old people. They used fear to motivate the people who don't have enough to arm them against the people who don't have anything. Then they went after the unions, the workers, while they acquire and force out the small businessman while telling the small businessman it is all the fault of those other guys. The Koch Russ Tamblyn-West Side Story
Click images for desktop size: "Russ Tamblyn"
Brothers and their allies scream: It's the Chinese or the Koreans or the Japanese and its your next door neighbor. It is everyone but me. And all we do we do to protect you until you become one of them.
Populism was bought with blood and gunfire and some of the blood was that of starved to death babies and all of it was from people who just wanted to work and have a home and enough to eat to stay alive. What we have today are the jack booted owners appropriating a name in an effort to side step the real suffering they are causing.
A better example of Tea Party faux populism is seen clearly in the film, "Meet John Doe" which is related to Steinbeck in its populist views and its view of the many by exploring the plight of the few. In "Meet john Doe" a genuine populist movement is financed then used and abused for personal gain by Eddy Arnold. Of course, in the movie as in real life, the populist characters survive the horrid abuse and exploitation because the faith in fellow man is greater than the faith in governments and establishments.Bride of the Gorilla
The book "Grapes of Wrath" is bleak because a world controlled by people who have forgotten their humanity in favor of acquisition is a terrible and bleak thing. The world of Ayn Rand jerks is a desolate and an unrich place not fit for habitation even by her adherents. Deeper and of great beauty is the life of those poor who struggle along and learn to live together with each other who see life as a small chance at pleasure and happiness.
"Grapes of Wrath" is a great book, meaning it's entertaining, lively with a story to tell about people.When you tell a great story about people you manage to become pretty all encompassing, not sodden or turgid but inspirational even in despair.

May 8, 2011

For the quality of owning freezes you forever into "I", and cuts you off forever from the "we"
John Steinbeck

Untitled by Marta Dahlig
Click images for desktop size: "Untitled" by Marta Dahlig
I did my blood work on Friday. They take too much blood. That night the fasting and the blood loss made me wake up with the shakes and the night sweats. Since it was in the mid 50's being drenched At The Circus with sweat was disconcerting. My puppy, who know matter what anyone says is a good girl and very crazy, took care of me and watched over me.
The blood work was as annoying as usual. They always have to stick me too many times to find a vein. The person drawing the blood kept talking about how tight my skin was. I asked what she meant by that. No one had ever called me a tight skinned anything before. It was a good thing, a compliment I guess. I might have taken it better if the nurse in charge hadn't put me through the usual tom foolery about how I don't look as sick as I am.
Won't get the results for a while. Have to get them online. Internet age. A curious thing, I think sometimes.

My wife has a new foster dog. An all white shepherd looking girl. The white girl dog was rescued from some well meaning but neglectful S4w-FashionSexPoliticsAndMusic-294.jpg
Click images for desktop size: "Unknown Goth"
abusive owners who thought they were doing the right thing . . .
The white girl is doing okay. She has issues. How could she not. She doesn't get along with the giant dog, which is understandable but she also has issues with the gentle dog. That is not understandable.
Still, experience dictates things will calm down and mellow. Dogs are too much like people sometimes. You take a small scared person and drop them into an established family and you know what happens.
Everybody reacts differently and yet we all react the same. Most, but not all, abused creatures including people are scared. When they come into a new situation from an abusive one they spend an amazing amount of energy either succumbing to the further abuse they anticipate or, the healthier ones, doing whatever they can to try and stop the abuse from ever happening again.
Purple Angel By Artemis Rosakis
Click images for desktop size: "Purple Angel" by Artemis Rosakis
Both types of people will usually respond to some calm and some laughs. They just need the space to be jerks and in a short time, shorter for dogs, when they don't get the terror they expect in response they give up the act. Some are too terribly abused and it takes more to get through to them, but they can be gotten through to if the goal is to let them be happy and not to control them.
I think the white girl will fit in well enough until she finds her forever home and that's all I ever ask.

One surprising effect of the great movie :I Saw The Devil" (which my wife thought was bleh) is the typical Asian rip offs of it. A sub genre exploring the tenets and roots of evil and fighting evil when just being good is nowhere near enough?
Jeong-beom Lee's "The Man From Nowhere" could never have existed with "I Saw The Devil". That Bad Girl doesn't stop it from being great. It actually benefits from the association and uses some shorthand to amplify its effects. Iy also uses a similar shorthand referring to Bresson's "Leon" to good effect.
Lee leaves most of the weighty stuff behind but gets plenty of good enough actors to give the timbre in the scenes.
Bin Won plays a former secret agent who left the service when his wife, pregnant with a girl, is killed in retaliation for one of his assignments. Won responds by becoming a ghost. He runs a pawn shop. He lives in the back of the shop and touches no one.
His clientele are junkies and thieves. One drug addict hooker has a little girl. Won has a safe affection for the little girl but keeps her at arms length. He barks at her and bullies her. She fills his iPod with music, for a fee and pawns her mothers things for drug money.
One day the mother gets involved in a drug heist. She is way over her head as the owners of the drugs want them back. She sticks the drugs in a camera case and has her daughter pawn the case to keep them safe.
After the gangsters show up to get the drugs this becomes a rip roaring action tale and its awesome, never letting the message get in the way of some terrific and terrifying fights. The message is pretty simple: The world is a terrible place and it is up to all of us to look after each other, especially for the strong to protect the weak.
The other rip=off movie that rates highly with me is Ching-Po Wong's :Revenge: A Love Story". Not surprisingly the title also describes the plot.
The movie starts with Juno Mak murdering women, pregnant women in the vilest most inhumane fashion possible. He slashes the women open and rips the near term fetuses from their bodies. He Pirate Pattern by Pirate Boy
Click images for desktop size: "Pirate Pattern" by Pirate Boy
then throws the fetuses into the river.
The murders are brutal and excruciating. We soon discover that the dead women's husbands are all cops, not only cops but cops on the same team. And just when we're about to settle in for a good ol' serial killer type film there's a shift. The cops catch Mak and after brutally torturing him we see, in flashback, the reason for these heinous crimes.
What we see is unexpected, terrifying and tear inducing. There's no way to prepare for the reality of the situation presented here other than it's more than just tragic. Its presented in a totally believable way and is guaranteed to score the soul.
A few American reviewers have trashed the movie as being pretentious, a B action movie with A movie aspirations. I say, so what?
It separates itself into sections introduced by Bhuddist koans. I think this makes some uncomfortable and needing to write the whole thing off.
It explores evil at his most common denominator. And it does so with a grim purpose to force us to have an understanding of humanity and with all understanding comes a dark price: Forgiveness.

April 17, 2011

Since you've been gone my guitar won't stay in tune
The Lolas

Airplane by unknown
Click images for desktop size: "Airplane" by Unknown
The world is in bad trouble. In the USA we've got a President who promised change but then turned in to George H Bush. In the mid-west we've got loonies hiding under the name of reverend going House of Whipcord around burning books that results in people getting killed and nobody condemns him or threatens to shoot him because he's against women having a choice, I guess that makes him alright.
Its dark and getting darker for the world: Climate change, the price of oil, the destruction of innovation by the lying politicians and their cold eyed assassins.
There's no way out so long as the poor, the middle class, the children and the puppies are the only ones getting hurt.
The National Visa Center sent me a letter today telling me that we'd been approved to proceed with our application. The sort of statement that makes sense only to government workers and bureaucrats of the 7th circle. The main point of it all seemed to be that I had to send them more money.
My puppy's annual physical is on Saturday. She should be fine. I plan to take photos. Since the separation from my wife (due to governments not personalities) I haven't been taking pictures like I'm used to. I keep trying to get enthused about it again but it's a hard go.
I remembered taking pictures when my puppy and I watched a fight between a crow and a squirrel. It was very interesting. And then about 1o minutes later we saw an opossum cross a busy street in front of us. It went hhhhhhh at us and didn't even attempt to fool us into thinking it was dead. We chaperoned it across the street but it was as ungrateful as it was ugly.
Yes, I wanted to take pictures of an animal fight and of something ugly. I think people would have liked them.
In the face of all this cataclysm and personality the only safe thing to do is think about and over analyze the trivial.

AppleTV vs WDTV Live



The first thing you have to understand is that the DVD is dead tech. The BluRay disk will be following it soon.
The future and now are media files: H264 mp4's and mkv's. They do to movies what mp3's, aac and Hawaiian Girls by Chris Sanders
Click images for desktop size: "Hawaiian Girl's Progress" by Chris Sanders
flac have done to music. And it's all a good thing no matter what the old fogies at the MPAA and the RAIA have convinced Obama and any other cash hungry government man.
With the means of production and now distribution falling into the hands of the creators there's a nice little well spring of music and books starting to flood over us, most poor but many good and a few great. All pretty much distinguished by the fact that without the new method of distribution we'd never have heard of them or been given a chance to decide what we love or hate.
Of course the people who are used to telling us what we like hate that. Choice sucks when you're intent on propagating mediocrity.
Mp3's were getting huge but it was the iPod, the hardware that pushed them to the top. And now there are plenty of cheap media players for video, all that scream to take me from the computer screen to the big screen, the screen in the living room. The first one I became aware of was the AppleTV 1. It was a sleek small silver box with a smallish hard drive. It was also totally cool evenAbducted Bride with its heavy heavy limitations and shortcomings.
I got a Western Digital WDTV Live because I liked their drives, the WDTV can read multiple HD formats and not just the usual Windows litany and I got it on sale for about $80. It addresses a lot of the AppleTV's shortcomings quite nicely. I can attach an external hard drive for unlimited storage and it can play almost anything, whereas the AppleTV only plays mp4 and then it has to be in iTunes.
The WDTV gui is ugly. It can be fixed and fiddled and be made to be more attractive but that doesn't change it's basic homeliness. It works alright though and that means something. The AppleTV gui is beautiful and well thought out. It is graceful and simple minded to comprehend.
I got an AppleTV 2 for my wife. It is even simpler than the 1 and smaller, lighter and fool proof to Sarah Walks by Marvel Comics
Click images for desktop size: "Sarah Walks" by Marvel Comics
install and run. More than it just works, it is just there.
The AppleTV is fun. The interface has enough things to do that you always feel you're onto some secret discoveries. With the addition of the, to me worthless, MLB and NBA channels and the potent addition of Netflix it really has become a full on entertainment center.
Netflix needs a digression. With it's new commitment to streaming only Netflix has become the first preview of all our entertainment in the cloud. The selection is pretty much like what you'd find in a popular video store just before closing on a Saturday night. It's all old movies and stuff you'd normally avoid. To me that's okay. I like that stuff.
If you want something more current there is, just two clicks away, the iTunes store with pricier rentals.
With the inclusion of podcasts, your own video libraries and music libraries you can fill up months of time and with a $99 MSRP what could any one complain about?
One caveat: The sound on the music is not as deep or full as the sound from most iPod docks. Most receivers have some sort of Compressed Music sound enhancement. Apple has long eschewed that. Big Foot It can be adjusted with some receiver based EQ but why?
The WDTV is not as much fun. In recent firmware upgrades it has added Flingo and Mediafly as a source of online media. It also has Facebook integration, although I've never gotten that to work so I can't comment. Facebook is not something I care about anyway.
Where the WDTV beats the AppleTV is all tech stuff. It will output 1080p as opposed to the 720p limitation put on by Apple. The WDTV will play anything. I've yet to find something it couldn't play, including camera mts files. AppleTV 2 will play only mp4's with H264 or X264 video encoding. It will finally handle High Profile encoding and CABAC encoded files but that is it.
The WDTV plays MKV files flawlessly and does a good job of steaming DTS sound. For me the DTS soundtrack is more important than the 1080p playback.
The WDTV also handles attached drives, so if you save your movies and music on an external drive it is nothing to attach the drives to your WDTV and have instant access to 2 TB of media. (And the WDTV is the only media player out there that can access any format on the drive - most demand the archaic Windows solutions for morons - a few European ones will allow Linus formats but that's about it.)
Apple still demands that you can only access movies stored on your computer and within iTunes. This keeps things simple but it is seriously limiting. (Even if its financial and designed to slow down piracy or reassure Apple's content providers it is a cheat to the consumer.)
The WDTV plays music well but it does not play the whacky Apple Lossless codec, while it handles FLAC just fine. Conversely the AppleTV plays Apple Lossless just fine but just ignores FLAC. FLAC is Virtual Girl by unknown
Click images for desktop size: "Virtual Girl" by Unknown
by far the superior codec.
I have 110 gigs of music so I actually like iTunes integration for various mundane and personal reasons. Hence I don't use the WDTV for music listening, preferring to use my receiver's iPod dock.
I like that I have access to my WDTV and my wife's AppleTV 2. If I had to choose I would have no problem saying goodbye to the AppleTV. The WDTV tries to be user friendly but it isn't. Still it makes more important things available to me. That no one else can easily access these things doesn't bother me much.
The AppleTV is fun and easy to use like an expert with nil effort. I could live with it easily if there was nothing else available.

I miss comments. I like hearing from people. Spam is still an ugly problem but in the near future I'm going to open them up again. Movable Type has improved their security again and I have hopes that it will sort the mess out. I still have over 300 malicious (spammer, hacker) hits an hour.

March 17, 2011

Whiskeyman's my friend, he's with me nearly all the time
John Entwistle

skulls.jpg
Click images for desktop size: "Skulls" by Unknown
I've been re-reading Ray Bradbury's "Fahrenheit 451". I may have to "revaluate Bradbury. I always remembered him as a high school type writer. The kind of guy who appealed to nerdy pimply kids Though Shalt Not Kill Except and their lost host fantasies.
"451" is a lot deeper than I recalled from when I read it in high school.
There's a longish speech from the Fire Captain, who represents, pretty much, the mores of the future society, that pretty neatly encapsulates the present state of the United States. The captain lays out and nearly justifies the epic rantings of the tea party ilk. He praises stupidity as the great leveler, as the ultimate path to total equality.
That seems to be where the Republicans are leading us, to a world of the mediocre, where the rich make the rules and force us to see the exceptional as dangerous and malformed.
I remember a conversation I had with a teammate back in college after, what to us was, a devastating loss. In football a loss produces a strange mixture of feelings. You're physically depleted from the game, nerves are twitching, muscle fibers are screaming for nourishment and craving adrenaline and there's nothing.
Self recrimination sets in for some; what could I have done? Most get flooded with those buried traumatic memories, those glimpses of the past we'd buried, the casual cruelties our loved ones inflicted on us without thinking.
Some, the less well balanced would blame someone else. And a select few just didn't care but had enough sense to keep quiet about it.
So, that was the mood that I was in slumped on the bench in front of my locker when the guy next to me, still in pads and jersey starting talking to me. He talked about life. He talked about success and succeeding. And he said the one thing I'll never forget. I can still see him, his brown hair spiked from helmet hair and sweat, his dirty face streaked with tears and sweat, three pimples on his chin, "If you want to win you have to be like them. You can't stand out; be too smart or too pretty you have to kiss ass and be like them."
I probably said something back like, "Yer nuts," and went back to the shelter of my own misery.
I thought he was nuts and succumbing to fatigue toxins but now/ Look, I've got nothing, except a Untitled by Reginald Birch
Click images for desktop size: "Untitled" by Reginald Birch
loving wife, a great dog and a fistful of gadgets. Last I heard he was rich with property and kids. Maybe he was right and the wolves have been driven to ground by the lambs. Being fat and drug addled is future and the path to power.
I think the main reason I trivialized Bradbury's book was that he got away from the point; he got obsessed with his McGuffin and ended up seeing the symbol as the reality. Books aren't important it's ideas and communication that important. It's the ability to dream dreams that aren't dolloped out to us by those who've decided they are our betters and must know what's best for us.
Bradbury got lost in his symbol, and the symbol is actually pretty trivial compared to what it represents in particular. Francois Truffaut made a banal and bizarre movie out of the book. It fails for too many reasons but the biggest failure is that it latches hardest onto Bradbury's tunnel vision, and that tunnel vision is that books are somehow the most important conveyor of ideas.A Gem of a Jam
One of the most terrifying concepts I could ever dream of is the conclusion of book and movie. What a terrible fate and how more horrifying that this horrifying fate is presented as somehow heroic, or uplifting. Truffaut would try and convince us that foregoing humanity to become literally become a Victorian novel is somehow an image of hope instead of the grim ugly doom of mankind.
People walking in bright shining snowflakes not talking, not conversing, not sharing but instead reciting the thin useless things that they have become is a nightmare. Why we're supposed to view this as bright hope of a revolution won will forever escape me.
And while I can appreciate the focus of the book on a single middle class working family it beggars the issue of the governing class, the rulers, the TV program directors. While Bradbury acknowledges that no armed force was needed to stop people from reading (thinking) he sidesteps the issue of who led mankind, or at least Americans to this step.
Like, I went to Buffalo a couple weeks ago. Fist time I've flown since the TSA became.
When I was in Europe I used to think that the Brits were incredible wimps. They thrived on that perverse Chandlerian logic, "A drunk driver hits a child and kills the child ergo we ban cars." It's a cowardly and stupid thought process and I felt a twinge of pride that Americans were that craven.
I was wrong. Some twerp of a wannabe terrorist puts some explosives on his shoes AND IT DOES NOT WORK but now the rest of America is forced to take their shoes off for special inspection.
A bigger moron boards a plane with explosives in his underwear AND IT DOES NOT WORK so now the entire country has to have their genitals fondled by government employees, and they're not 7th Street by Mike Campeau
Click images for desktop size: "7th Street" by Mike Campeau
fondling for our benefit or even their own.
(By the way, seeing my wife was great and even in a seedy motel we enjoyed ourselves and for 3 days were able to forget that such a world exists.)
While waiting in line to be fondled I speculated as to whether this was a government plot a Bush doctrine supported by Obama to reduce us to the serf level that they want but it seems to be not so deep. We are already serfs. This indignity is foisted on us so that the elite, the CEO's who earn more than their entire workforce combined, can feel safe and not have to clutter their purified minds with needless worry about what we might do.
So the terrorist won. The revolution is over and we, the people, lost.
That's part of what is missing from Bradbury's book. The allusions are all there but there's never a peek into the present he's depicted, never a hint as to who maintains and designs this dead formed A Lady Without a Passport life. Obviously people who's comfort is more important to them than yours.
It's a shame the Bradbury avoids the confrontation. It's one of the several gaps in populism in his books. In fact Preston Sturges evinces more humanism in one scene (In "Christmas in July" when a lower level manager stands up to the owner of the company and says in simplistic but direct terms, "You should care. These are your employees, your family. Everything that happens to them happens to you. To not be concerned is inhuman!" Being a movie the owner takes this harsh criticism.)
So while it was pretty unfair of me to trivialize Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451 as adolescent pap it falls far short of being literature. But it's good enough that this shortcoming saddens instead or angers me.

January 22, 2011

There are three constants in life: change, choice and principles
Stephen Covey

Dreaming Sighs
Click images for desktop size: "Dreaming Sighs" by Unknown
My mother-in-law was cremated at 1:00 PM on Friday.
I couldn't be there. Canada.
My wife is as devastated as you'd expect. She'll survive. She's tough enough for that even when she Tobor the Great doesn't believe she is.

Now I hate being an adult and being mature. Things like this make me regret it. I want to go back to those days of complicated decisions like whether or not I should iron my underwear.
It doesn't seem right that from life to the grave should take just a week.
Not fair at all. Just unvarying and inevitable. It's the pragmatic, existentialist attitude I have that takes affront at all this. It's the way it is and the way it has always been and people never expect it or learn from it or anticipate the sadness and madness we all carry within us. It sickens me that selfishness overwhelms compassion for many of us. But that is unvarying and inevitable too.
Ibsen said something like, "The majority is always wrong." Steve McQueen liked to quote it. We are the majority.
But we're also the white knights and the only hope each other has.
If we weren't that there'd be nothing left but despair.
My top ten flics for 2010 list is only 3 movies long.

1) Kick-Ass - This is a movie that slips past the mindlessness on first viewing. It starts out a simpleminded teen comedy thing but then erupts into something I've never seen before. It's a smart movie, with a hip sound track. It also includes one great performance and one great character. In one word "Hitgirl".
There's a scene in the movie that actually gets me misty eyed. Shocker. It's where the bad guys are beating Kick-Ass and Nick Cage to death on a web cast. All seems lost until an 11 year old girl's Grand Ages of Rome
Click images for desktop size: "Grand Ages of Rome" by Unknown
love for her father draws her into the heel bent world he created for her and leaves as her only legacy. She comes and systematically and believably kills off the bad guys with knife and gun. Cage has been set on fire but even while burning alive he yells out commands to Hitgirl, commands she understands even though Cage's voice is a shriek of pain, love and concern.
It's an unbelievable scene that they nearly but not quite ruin with the bathetic conclusion.

2) I Saw The Devil - I've already written about this devastating Korean serial killer movie.

3) Ong Bak 3 - Must see even though it fails as often as it succeeds. Tony Jaa will never, it appears, exceed his brilliant "Tom Yum Gum", but here he attempts so much more.

December 12, 2010

Eighty percent of success is showing up
Woody Allen

Seasons Greeting 2010 by Ankhammentu
Click images for desktop size: "Seasons Greetings 2010" by Ankhammentu
After too long I've finally seen a good movie, in fact it might be the best film I've seen in 2010.
"I Saw the Devil" directed by Ji-woon Kim. He's the guy who made the stunning "A Bittersweet Life"Calvin and Hobbes and the Asian mega-hit, "The Good, The Bad and the Weird".
Byung-hun Lee, from "A Bittersweet Life" and GI Joe, plays a Korean secret agent. On a snowy night his fiancee calls him. Her car has broken down and she waits for a tow truck. Lee, even though on assignment, finds a place to sing her a love song, to keep her company while she waits.
While Lee sings a good samaritan knocks on his fiancee's car's window. He offers to help. Lee tells her to stay in the car and not to trust the stranger. The stranger is played by Min-sik Choi, the brilliant actor best known from "Old Boy".
Lee tells his fiancee to send him away and to just sit and wait for the tow truck. Very politely and sweetly she thanks Choi and tells him she'd prefer to wait. He seems to go away. Moments after she hangs up the phone Choi attacks her car with a hammer breaking out the windows and then dragging her into his van. In his van he bashes her skull with the hammer but he waits to kill her back in his dingy dungeon where he rapes and decapitates her. Choi brushes the gore down the basement drain.
The next day a child finds a plastic bag with the fiancee's ear in it. The fiancee was the daughter of the local cops Chief of Detectives. This engenders a full on search. With much angst and fanfare they discover her head in the shallows of a river. Clearly it was thrown from a bridge. Implicitly this brings up the old Buddhist sutra, "I would be a bridge of stone for 500 years for the chance of her crossing me."
Kim takes two weeks off from work, supposedly to recover from his grief but, and this is true of John Lennon
Click images for desktop size: "John Lennon" by Unknown
much of the film - not much is stated outright except the ignorant claims of the police and the killers - the rest of the time we're nudged into believing we know what is going on in others minds, everyone knows he is going after the serial killer.
Even though we know who the killer is we watch Kim try and locate him. The first suspect he tortures brutally and so thoroughly that the scum confesses two murders he did commit to the police!
The hunt continues and it is sickly fascinating. Until Kim finally tracks down Choi in the middle of another rape and murder.
Kim rescues the girl but stops to smash and beat Choi. When he has beaten him near senseless he whispers to CHoi, "That which is coming will be even more terrible. Then Kim breaks Choi's arm. He also shoves a GPS capsule into his mouth so he can track him.
What follows is the disintegration of Kim. The atrocities he heaps up on Choi are transfixing and brutal. Kim, ultra cool and suave and Choi filthy and perverted, we find ourselves willing for Kim toPopeye simply kill Choi.
Then, unexpectedly, Choi proves his monstrous character has a brain and enough heart to hate and to want revenge.
From here on the movie stays taut, frightening and disheartening. It's not until the blistering conclusion, a conclusion that could scarcely be improved but still falls inches short, that we see humanity resurrect itself in these two monsters. The humanity it shows is as terribly sad as the depths of its depravity were hateful.
A movie to seek out. the direction and the acting could not be improved. It's a modern movie that avoids nothing and permits no mere coincidence to mar the terror it inflicts on our souls as it struggles to force us, the viewers, to admit or frail humanity.

The law that should have shut down my job went in to effect, but it only worked for 2 days.
I was disappointed. While one judge in a different district found the law shutting them down to be solid and enforceable another judge swallowed the argument that 1 line in the law was too vague and in its vagueness violated the 1st amendment!!
So it's business as usual. I got two days off though and that's a good thing . . . without pay of course. Money buys everything.

My wife is coming next week along with gentle dog and Giant dog.
We're excited.
I sent out my Christmas cards. If you didn't get one it's because I don't have your address, so it really is all your fault.

Now that the college season is over the NFL gets that more important. Last week I was 12-4, which Skyler Steele
Click images for desktop size: "Skye Steele as Red Santa"
is pretty blah for this part of the season. I want to win a prize! Even a 20 buck certificate for beer and hot dogs would be okay1 So long as I get a prize! My wife made some picks . . .
My picks are in bold.

Indianapolis at Tennessee - I figured the Colts were slightly less messed up than the Titans.

Cleveland at Buffalo - Cruddy game of the week and also my Mini-Upset of the week. To me the Bills have looked more impressive when they're losing than the Browns have while they're losing . . .

Tampa Bay at Washington - Common sense says to take the Bucs. Sometimes I wish I could tell my common sense to shut up because I really think the Redskins should win!

Atlanta at Carolina - I really wish I could track down anyone willing to pick the putrid Panthers. Santa Calus Conquers the Martians They probably think Jimmy Clausen is a great QB . . .

Oakland at Jacksonville - At the start of the season no one could have picked this as a game of the week contender. But it is. I'm taking the Jaguars because of Jack Del Rio and that they're at home.

Green Bay at Detroit - The Packers will win but I expect the Lions to make this a lot more interesting than it should be.

Cincinnati at Pittsburgh - This game is on TV here. I won't watch it. I have to pick the Steelers but I want to see the Bengals and Carson and Ochocinco tear it up!

St Louis at New Orleans - Its time for the Saints to start tearing opponents apart, at least if they want to get to the Super Bowl again.

Seattle at San Francisco - I never figured the SeaHawks would be as good as 6-6 but I sure figured the 49er's would be league killers! Now I'm picking them becasue the SeaHawks have not been too good on the road.

Miami at New York Jets - After the Jets getting beat down last week by the Patriots I'd hate to be their opponent this week.

Denver at Arizona - Cruddiest Game of the Week!
Star Leaves by Fabio Toscani
Click images for desktop size: "Star Leaves" by Fabio Toscani

Kansas City at San Diego - After the dismal showing last week the Chargers will not improve much but the Chiefs don't have Matt Cassel so . . . .
New England at Chicago - Game of the Week! The Bears have been shocking and the Patriots are riddled enough on D to make this one really really interesting!

New York Giants at Minnesota - When the big stories are the snow storm and whether Favre's streak ends tomorrow you know not to expect much from the game.

Baltimore at Houston - The Ravens need a win and the Texans are playing for next years paycheck.

Philadelphia 28 at Dallas 27 - The Over Hype Bowl. This game will be dire.

September 26, 2010

USC 50 Washington State 16

Pin Up by Unknown
Click images for desktop size: "Pin Up" by Unknown
It's been a dead dull if sweaty week. Too much heat. Numbs the mind makes life seem like a distant thing.
Only bright spot is that I finally got my wife's immigration application filed. I worry about that. The way the Republicans Mad Love and the racist Teabaggers are determined to destroy America, (Why did the Koch brothers and Rupert Murdoch decide to swipe the name of a pretty sleazy sex act for their creation? Was it some very nasty joke played by some rich nasty jerks on some stupid nasty morons?) I fret over the idea of her coming here. If racism and hatred are going to rule and turn us to a 3rd world banana republic she'd be better off staying where she is.
Still looking for a new job. It's discouraging but necessary. My paycheck for 20 hours late this week. It's one thing to be chattel and quite another to be treated as chattel.
I got my flu shot.
And now I wait.
At least there's football.

The first two weeks of the NFL season have been horrid. It is some of the worst football I've ever seen in my life. Sloppy routes, lazy QB reads, runners missing holes and defenders ignoring their gaps. Clearly the first team needed a lot more reps!
The NFL plan to take two practice games and turn them into real games is just going to cheat the fans and reduce the quality of the game
Still I was 12-4 in my picks last week. My wife made her picks two. She game in that she refuses to Outsiders
Click images for desktop size: "Outsiders" by Marvel Comics
concede her total and irrevocable defeat!

My picks are in bold.

San Francisco at Kansas City - Who'd have figured the 49ers would be 0-2 and the Chiefs would be 2-0. Matt Cassell has shown that USC back ups are more talented than most starters. His leadership for the previous hapless Chiefs is credible. The 49ers are against the wall. This week they should play the football they're capable of.

Detroit at Minnesota - Nearly the cruddy game of the week. Favre should be catching up enough now to beat the shell shocked Lions.

Buffalo at New England - I liked that Tom Brady owed up to his poor play leading to the Patriots loss to the Jets. Bad news for the Bills, he'll prove it won't happen again.

Atlanta at New Orleans - Game of the week. Matt Ryan and Tony Gonzalez against Dru Brees. Oh Lost Horizon yeah!

Tennessee at New York Giants - The Giants are heavy favorites which amazes me. They've played horrid football no matter what their level of talent. The Titans looked terrible last week but you have to figure they're going to rebound. They match up well against the Giants too.

Cleveland at Baltimore - The Ravens should destroy a team that looks like its already upset about not getting the number 1 pick last year.

Dallas at Houston - I think the Texans are a badly coached team but I also think the Cowboys are poorly coached and have the most over rated talent in the league. The Texans are rolling and can overcome a desperate Cowboys team who will quit in the face of adversity.

Pittsburgh at Tampa Bay - Forget all my negative feelings about the Steelers - Troy Polamonu has that D playing inspired crippling clean football. The Buccaneers are beside themselves that they're 2-0. Today is reality check day.

Cincinnati at Carolina - The Panthers are starting Jimmy Clausen . . .

Philadelphia at Jacksonville - The Eagles are heavy favorites. The claim is that Michael Vick is playing the best football in the league. I dispute that slightly. He is a great player but a miserable excuse for a human being. He has not made repartitions as he promised. Meanwhile Jack Del Rio has a decent team in the Jaguars and a lot to prove.

Oppossed Fates by snyp
Click images for desktop size: "Opposed Fates" by snyp
Washington at St Louis - Cruddy game of the week contender. McNabb looks like a steal for the redskins who are still a horribly coached team but the Rams are just hapless except for Steve Jackson who can win a game single handedly even now, just not today.

Indianapolis at Denver - A real head scratcher here. The Colts have looked lackadaisical except for Manning. The Broncos have to recover from a suicide of a 22 year old WR. Hard to read the impact there. This is a real coin toss of a game for reasons, that sadly have little to do with football.

Oakland at Arizona - Cruddy game of the week. When a head coach figures he's more important than the players you can't expect much better than a .500 season. The Cardinal won't make anywhere near that record. The Raiders still stink but less than in past years.Mask of Dimitrios

San Diego at Seattle - The Chargers are heavy favorites. But Seattle is a miserable road trip and the Chargers are really missing Tomlinson's leadership skills. This just feels like a time for an upset.

Green Bay at Chicago - This should be a good game unless the Packers start running away with it. The Bears have demolished themselves in the past two years and no reason to think they've ended that spiral.

New York Jets 17 at Miami 13 - Tie Breaker Game. The Jets pulled it together and demolished the more talented Patriots last week. They'll keep playing gritty hard edged games. I like them.

September 5, 2010

USC 49 Hawaii 36

Unknown
Click images for desktop size: "Untitled" by Unknown
I didn't have much of a birthday. Slept 18 hours out of the twenty four.
Woke up on the day with a pretty frightening ripping pain in my chest. Not heart attack pain but justThe Incredible Melting Man as intense.
Thought about going to the hospital but nixed that. Remembered my last emergency room visit: Over Five thousand for a 5 minute EKG and 15 minutes of hanging around. Made me mad at Obama and the Democrats and that weak heath care bill they passed. So I suffered Delores Fuller
Click images for desktop size: "Delores Fuller"
and I slept. The waking time spent taking care of my puppy. She was being overly solicitous so I knew the pain was serious. When I'm just uncomfortable she goes about her business (whatever that is) but when I'm in trouble she does what she can. Sadly most of what she can do is fret and worry, not a good thing for a dog brain to try and process.
So a week later the pain continues. I still do my walking to work. The exercise has no impact on the pain. Neither does work. Work makes it no better and no worse.
There are moments. Moments of light headedness and worrisome moments of extreme and sudden fatigue, so severe that I wasn't sure I can remain standing let alone walking. Deep weakness and jittery confusion that rested only on the surface.
On Friday I managed to get to the doctors. When you're going to doctors on the cuff you take what you can get. I remembered all those movies and stories where lives were always at stake and the only solution was raising some insane amount of money, like $35,000 in depression dollars, for an operation. I realized that none of these stories were ever resolved with the surgeon saying, "Hold on a minute! You mean they might die!?! Of course I'll do Bridge by Clarence Holbrook Carter
Click images for desktop size: "Bridge" by Clarence Holbrook Carter
the surgery for free or at least on credit!"
Many of those stories ended up with the sister dying and/or the brother going to prison for robbing a bank to try and pay the exorbitant medical costs. It's a cliche.
I spent about 6 hours at the clinics, not counting my travel time. My nook made it a lot easier. It was easy to read. Right now I'm reading Judith Freeman's "The Long Embrace: Raymond Chandler and the Woman He Loved", which is really just a detailed travelogue of LA, but a travelogue noting the constant decay of my hometown. For Freeman its going to Chandler's neighborhoods and examining the decay from the 30's until now. For me its the confirmation of the hell that LA has been enduring.
I remember when I left, or at least decided it was time to leave - in LA mind set and action are pretty much the same thing - I remember thinking my lovely, corrupt ugly home had become hell. I was standing in the Hollywood Hills and could see South LA in flames from the Rodney King RiotsDirty Harry and then to the north west the sky was a black mass reflecting the red fires of the canyon and beach adjacent homes below it.Urban ash and rural detrius caked black and gritty on my face, the leaves and the gray sidewalk. Another beloved puppy at my side swaddled in bandages from her most recent surgery to repair the damage from shotgun pellets and the whole future of LA and my place in it seemed clear and not abundant.
Freeman's book makes it clear that my vision of the future were discomfortingly accurate.
Freeman's a novelist, not an historian or a travel book writer so some of her situations are forced and some cheesy like a bad romance writer's sniffling but for the most part it's a strong book on an obscure subject. Trying to put Chandler into perspective and giving glimpses into his difficult persona via where he lived and the woman he spent his life with are brilliant endeavors. Its an enthralling book, at least for another native Angeleno.
Of course having a good book made even more convenient via the ebook format didn't stop me from rummaging through the cabinets in the examination rooms. I still figure that if they cared about the stuff they leave in there they wouldn't leave me alone with their things for so long.
I found the usual boring stuff but also a brand new rather expensive looking scalpel. My first thought was this was sharper than an exacto knife!
I put it back where I found it instead of lifting it. Not from some petty morality but because this is a free clinic, basically, and I figured that scalpel probably cost enough to force a rise in their prices.
The end result of all the testing and nonsense is that the fluids from my experience with lyrica are still present. In fact they said I'm allergic to lyrica . . . which seems to me to be tantamount to being allergic to hemlock. The shallowness of breath and the chest pain are from a toxic buildup of Untitled by Cole Phillips
Click images for desktop size: "Untitled" by Cole Phillips
fluid around my heart and lungs.
That sucks.
My grandmother died from congestive heart failure at around 92. My mother did too but she was somewhere around my age. I thought she was a lot oder but as my wife brutally pointed out she might have even been younger than me.
The end result of this is I have to take a diuretic everyday; Hydrochlorothiazide. (I copied the name from the label).
Lots of side effects. The first tablet really wrenched me around. Bad nausea and it felt like an icy hand was rooting around in my chest looking for something that I wouldn't understand even if the hand found it and pulled it in to daylight.
The other drag is that my blood sugars have to get lower. They want them at hypoglycemic levels. So instead of keeping my blood sugars between 4-7 the new targets are 3-5 . . . rah! They doubled my daily amount of lantus (insulin). It will be interesting to see how this goes.
The lower blood sugars are supposed to help the fluid build up as well as but a stauncher grip on the neuropathy that's always dogging me.I Married a Communist
Times like this I can't help but wonder why I've survived. There are a lot of people more important to the world, better people who've died. And if the lazy French existentialists are right and this is hell then there are a lot more people worse, crueler and badder than me who've been granted release.
Lucky for me I'm not very good at keeping those thought processes going to long. There's always a puppy that needs walking or petting and people who need caring for.
Since my birthday was on a Saturday I think most people forgot about it until their PDA's and smartphones sent them the reminder on Monday. I got lots of good wishes on the Monday. I liked that.
Getting my wife into the USA continues in its own plodding pace. I want the incumbents out of political office but not to replace with moronic racist tea baggers. What ever happened to good men?

August 22, 2010

A man may die, nations may rise and fall, but an idea lives on
John F. Kennedy

Autumnal by Christine Theis
Click images for desktop size: "Autumnal" by Christine Theiss
I saw "Ong Bak 3" the latest and possibly last Tony Jaa movie.
I saw it in Thai, without subtitles. Since I've only been to Thailand twice, make that once, the otherHeadless Ghost time I only went to Bangkok. Bangkok isn't Thailand any more than Tijuana and Juarez are Mexico. So I've really only been to Thailand once and that time with a native translator so there was never any need or urge to learn any Thai at all.
But I watched "Ong Bak 3" and I may not have gotten some subtle nuances but I sure followed the story, followed it well enough to gasp and holler at all the right spots too.
You might remember I was vaguely dissatisfied with Ong Bak 2. Number 3 makes it apparent why. These are not two films but one epic film. A three hour story that got chopped in half, chopped into mouth sized bits. Taken together its a film that just falls short of magnificent. They don't jell as two separate stories but as one tale of a man's transformation from prince, to slave to pirate to saint it's ambitious beyond the talent of Jaa as director. Don't mistake that I do not think that Jaa is seriously talented as a director. He made a comprehensible, enthralling story in a language that might have been gibberish for all I knew. The story he tells is big and has thwarted numerous directors and writers before him. The closest to his theme is, shockingly, Alejandro Jodowrosky's obnoxious "El Topo".
"Ong Bak" attempts much and delivers much. It's a solid noble film that is easy to believe in. It should be seen. This isn't some tired little story about a guy and girl who do something that doesn't mean a damn thing while it tries to be funny. This is a movie. It entertains and tries to lead us someplace different in our lives and tries to show us a new corner of the world our time and confusion has forced us to ignore. Its a big plan.

I;m a Jim Thompson fan. Only problem is that Thompson, due to money mostly, seldom put The Black Phantom by Syd
Click images for desktop size: "The Black Phantom" by Syd
together great books. There are great starts, great sections and sometimes great endings but it wasn't often he put together a masterpiece. His most solid book was probably "The Getaway" and his masterpiece is probably, "The Killer Inside Me".
"The Killer Inside Me" is about Lou, an affable, good looking, innocuous appearing dummy. Except Lou is nothing like the adaptive persona he's adopted. He's a sociopath, bright, cunning and evil. He's still likable and part of the books tension comes from wanting Lou to succeed in all the vicious things he does.
Lou probably would have lived out his life rejoicing in his small cruelties, concealing his insanity but a hooker moves to town. Lou discovers she's a submissive and loves to play sex scenes with his dom reality.
They concoct a scheme to escape the small town and to be able to go someplace where they can go live together and be happy. Except the girl forgets Lou is happy and he allows her to plan and works Hondo her plan into his plan of violent revenge and homicidal ecstasy.
Lou becomes a calm and calculating serial killer. He delights in watching others attempt to discover his evil. He enjoys planning around it and succeeding. He appears he deserves to keep murdering people.
Now there's a new movie based on the book. It;s really poor. The problems start with the casting. Casey Affleck is just the wrong type. It needed someone bright and buoyant. Even Ashton Krutcher Lara Croft
Click images for desktop size: "Lara Croft"
would have been a better choice. Affleck does fine with the broody stuff but is worthless at the good ol' boy end of things. The result is a thin performance devoid of any emotional patois.
But Affleck seems like a genius compared to the befuddled performance of Jessica Alba. How can I say this - playing the little sub whore Alba generates absolutely no heat. I remember having to see a high school play of "Death of a Salesman" where the kid stuck playing Willie Loman thought the way to show weariness was to read his lines as fast and monotonously as possible. Alba is horrible. She's playing a hooker, a fetishist. She has at least 3 sex scenes and she is just nothing but dull and boring.
The rest of the cast is good but with the two leads so abysmal and wrong headed they have no Love
Click images for desktop size: "Love" by Unknown
current to swim with or against.
The movie follows the book near exactly but it has, seemingly, no comprehension of what the book was about. They are just bits and skits. There's no emotion, no heat, no stink of the dust of West Texas. It's like a Disney version of the Kama Sutra or something. What a failure and these jerks will probably blame Jim Thompson's source material instead of their own bumbling incompetence.

I still love my nook. The Kindle is lighter, easier to hold and navigate. The nook touchscreen looks moderately cool but is a pain in the neck to work and a monstrous drain on the battery. Also the Kindle whispersync works while syncing the nook is a chore. But I love it. It lets me read.
With the Kindle 3 promised and B&N's future looking well, unpredictable, you can get nooks on ebay, brand new, for under $50!
The advantages of e-readers are pretty obvious. Still my favorite is carrying around the 3 books I'm High Sierra currently reading and changing the fonts and font sizes when appropriate.
Presently the most interesting thing I'm reading is "Through a Dog's Eyes" by Jennifer Arnold.
Arnold has cred because she founded and trains service dogs for Canine Assistance. Doesn't make her a good writer though. This book is a mess but no more so than 90% of the books I read about dogs.
She tries to be thorough but it comes across like a high school student trying to compose a Doctoral thesis. But the facts are interesting and her observations are valuable enough to make the slog worthwhile. I have to agree that my training and basis for my love of dogs is her old fashioned method that has been burnished and altered by my respect and general fondness for dogs. She has valid points that I discover I'm already incorporating in my doggie relationships.

With as much love as I have for lists I'm surprised to discover I've never written up a list of my top ten fave books!
  1. The Journal of Albion Moonlight by Kenneth Patchen - Sort of figures that this is one book that would not translate to an ebook reader as it uses typography to delineate some of its more astonishing images both on the page and in your head.
  2. The Long Goodbye by Raymond Chandler - This was a rough call as Chandler's "Farewell My Lovely" could fit here just as well. Moose Malloy and Phillip Marlowe are two of the greatest characters in fiction in a great story. "Goodbye" is the better more ambitious book though. Terry Lennox is no slouch as a character either.
  3. Hector Berlioz Autobiography - A life of music. Skillful and full of rhythms. Its a madman's descent into crushed dreams and genius.
  4. The Whole Earth Catalog edited by Stewart Brand - A catalog of tools, most of them books. A lot of toys and implements to take us into the future. And there was this grotty little novel onin the corner of each page. The future it was trying to build never happened. Shame really.
  5. The Complete Works of William Blake - You need the edition with plates and artwork. I even like to muddle through the prophetic poems and try and separate the poetry from the Swedenborganiasm.
  6. Alice in Wonderland - By Lewis Carroll - Another book that doesn't really work on an ereader. Its still brilliant.
  7. Ironweed by William Kennedy - Baseball, bums and music. A heart stopping examination of death and the thinness of life.
  8. Deus Irae by Philip K Dick and Roger Zelzaney - Perhaps the bleakest view of life after the apocalypse. It has no joy except the small joys that we find when we're not prepared to let despondency rule the day.
  9. Happy Birthday of Death by Gregory Corso - He used to read his poems to bongo music and thus created, single handed, a stereotype and a cliche. His stuff is solid.
  10. Naked Lunch by William Burroughs - Read this first in high school. For a while the entire football team and baseball team were doing impromptu skits quoting pages of the book. Crazy and cool.
A Desperate Stand by Charles Russell
Click images for desktop size: "A Desperate Stand" by Charles Russell

For me; I've been sick. Don't understand it. Wild stabbing pains, my joints all feel sprained, lots of chest pain. Don't get it. Cardiologist on Wednesday.

August 7, 2010

The future has a way of arriving unannounced
George Will

Catronics
Click images for desktop size: "Catronics" by Unknown
So much time has passed and so much life has filled and so much has run out.
I don't want any of it to be lost.The Grapes of Wrath
Nothing earth shattering perhaps. All of it precious. The only way to try and retain it is to start from now and work back.
My wife left yesterday. It was 4 months since we last saw each other. The hellish attitudes of imaginary lines drawn in the sand. Only someone who has never travelled could not question the stupidity that are borders and immigrants. I understand about the stupidity when it benefits a few of the wealthy. For the most part borders help only a few and hurt the rest of us.
It was good her being here. It felt like my life had been in suspension. WIth her being here it seemed like life resumed. It was easy, natural and profound and permanent.
We didn't accomplish much. She brought my two dogs with me. Gentle dog bit me and continued his 4 year quest of trying to kill me.
The giant dog was a bit of a creep. He attacked, not viciously but still, a smaller dog and frightened a child. Giant dog does a lot of things that normally I find unforgivable, but he always seduces me back by being dumb and guileless.
My wife's trip was planned around getting things done. We sort of did that, just not very well. We looked at houses.
The previous favorite was a noxious looking home farmhouse looking thing that was on 2.24 acres. As falling apart and ratty as the house was all the land made it beautiful. I could see fencing off an acre for the trio and then using the final acre to build a kennel and dog runs for all the strays and lost puppies that would find their way to out welcoming door.
The second place was a tiny little thing. I'd discounted it before as thieves were stealing the aluminum siding off of houses in the neighborhood, stealing the siding while people still lived there. Edge of Heaven by TitusBoy
Click images for desktop size: "Edge of Heaven" by TitusBoy
This house already had the central conditioning unit stolen with plenty of beer cans scattered about so you'd have no doubt about the neighborhood's attractions..
The house looked cute, 10 foot ceilings, interesting floor plan but it was an unmitigated disaster created by the cynical greed only a "developer" could create in their lust. The guy bought the house for 28k and jacked up the fallen floors, ignored the termites, slapped on some paint and before he was finished put it on the market for 130k, expecting the old 1000% return on a little bit of work and investment.
Then the crash happened. When we got into the house the first thing I found was the notice from the sheriff about unpaid property taxes. Then noticed that the floor had bowed, badly. It seems the floor sagged. Instead of repairing it properly the developer just jacked up the sag. Settling in less than a year caused the floor to warp crazy house style.
The killer was the roof. A month ago the roof looked okay. Now it was warped badly too. Badly Hamlet enough to need not just replacing, but rebuilding, from the struts and joists up. In other words in a year the house would need about 70k in repairs. So that some right wing bastard could realize a 500% return on his investment and stick some dreamy eyed couple with a disaster that would leave them homeless.
We did find a house though. A big house with a big yard. One acre yard. We'll know if we can get a mortgage tomorrow; August 2.
Jim McMahon
Click images for desktop size: "Jim McMahon"
I saw a lawyer about bringing my wife down here from that great foreign estate up north. Borders are the stupidest thing man ever created. Property lines to create jobs and unrest. Homeland Security now handles immigration so it is, of course a total mess. But it has to be gone through. We're no longer a free country. We're held waiting for the pogrom by all the cowards and fearful whiners who want to go back to the Monroe Doctrine and rewrite history to suit their fantasy.
I'm getting redundant redundant.

My wife reads. Sometimes literature, most often cook books and more often than that gory thrillers. I worry about her feeding her insatiable appetite for books then there was a deal on woot.com for a Kindle 2 . . . . I got it. It arrived DOA. I was pretty disappointed. Then shocked that Amazon made the thing good sending me a replacement on overnight delivery! And trusting me to return the dead one! It almost made up for the 3 hours on the phone with various tech support people.
I was still pretty skeptical but the end result is that rather rapidly I fell in love with the Kindle. I remembered when things were bad it was communicating with books that kept me sane®. I Untitled
Click images for desktop size: "Untitled" by Unknown
remember bad times when I'd pick up a book and let it take me away. The Kindle is not a replacement for books (like the iPod is replacement for a CD payer) but its an enjoyable way to read. In short order I read 4 books. One of my Destroyer series, a Johnny Bogg's western; "Northfield", Chandler's "The Big Sleep" and something I've forgotten.
Point is that it was transparent. It didn't feel like an electronic device. It felt like reading and all that reading entails. I was loathe to give it up when my wife arrived. She got stuck in it right away too reading and finishing that Dacre Stoker sequel to Dracula.
She likes it and that's what's important.
It's lighter than a book, easy to carry around (still buy all the cases like with an iPod) and it carries a library with it. Whispernet is simply cool.
Me, I'm waiting on another special to get either a Nook or a Kindle for myself. I'm leaning towardsA Hard Day's Night the new Kindle 3 but with lawyers and immigration fees its quite a ways off for now.

One of the reasons everything has to wait is that I've been legislated out of a job . . . Its not that bad a thing. My job is horrid and abusive in every way. I'm surrounded by gambling addicts. Personally I don't believe in making laws to protect people from themselves. The legislators used faulty data from the State Police who have just been busted for massive ethics violations to claim these places cause an increase in crime.
The voted, the governor signed the bill. December 1 I'm unemployed. Not that massive a deal. What is the creepiest is that my bosses who were NETTING upwards of 300K per week couldn't comprehend me, grossing about 72 a day didn't share their rabid hatred and concern . . . I kept pointing out that when they were making 300k a week I constantly suggested making $500 donations to youth clubs and local charities, high school sports etc not just because it was the right thing to do but because it would entrench the business in the community and give our neighbors a positive reason to see us survive and succeed.
A Woman
Click images for desktop size: "A Woman" by Unknown
They thought I was nuts. So when the fist came down they fought it but not in any kind of meaningful way. They got meetings with the Governor expecting her to veto the bill, not because they offered bribes or campaign contributions but because it was what they wanted.
Ah, the neaveau riche!
There final desperate ploy is filing a suit in fed court against the State claiming the law is discriminatory . . . They cling to this in there hope to keep extracting money from the poor.

Saw an immigration lawyer. It was worth the $250. We were going about it, not all wrong but with our energies misplaced. The lawyer should speed things up and save us money. He also clarified a lot of stuff that was not explicit in the instructions . . . not explicit means not even mentioned.
It seems we send in the printed forms along with proof we're eligible to be married, two passport pictures, the marriage license and the check for $355. And that's it.
Then you wait for that to be approved. When its approved - in like 90 days or so, they send you anHammer appointment for a personal interview - not together. It was a bit shocking to discover the interview would be standing at a window or a counter. The interview would last less than 15 minutes and maybe as little as 5 minutes . . . The other shocking thing was that my wife's interview would be in Montreal, which is oh guessing 500 miles away from her in Ontario . . . And of course the $500 fee was shocking too. The additional fees. Rah.
Nobody said coming to America would be easy.
I forgot to ask where my interview would be.
After that interview, which you figure would be no problem, she'd get a two year conditional permanent residency. Only a government can make something permanent conditional.
Then that's it. You can relax and be happy.

I've had to keep comments turned off. The spam is unreal. Some one even used my email address to spam!! When I complained this is the response i got from my hosting service:
Unfortunately, that is something spammers and hackers are doing more frequently. They do not need to hack into your account to do this. They do not even need to know your password or username to do this. All they need to do is send out spam email where they change the FROM email address to your email address. There is nothing we can do to stop them from doing this. You can either raise up your Spam protection to attempt to block their evil efforts, or you can stop using your email address that they are spoofing altogether. Those are the only two options that you have to combat the spammers.
YOW!!
This is one of the reasons I've turned my back on Obama. He recently had several websites shut down. These sites linked to unauthorized places to watch TV shows. I have views about that. But Drama Queen by Hoschie
Click images for desktop size: "Drama Queen" by Hoschie
now the point is that they spent thousands of man hours and millions of dollars protecting CBS, NBC, Fox and ABC etc, companies that have billions of their own dollars to pursue this sort of inanity and then these same FBI agents do nothing absolutely nothing to protect people from spammers. I guess because it's been shown that the RIAA and MPPA (the real bad guys) retain the services of several of the larger spammers for nefarious reasons they refuse to discuss.
The spammers hitting this site have figured out how to bypass the fact that I have turned comments off. I still get dozens of spam comments weekly. They don't get posted but they keep coming. What this does for the spammers I don't know. I guess they can show their client that they posted their adverts on 2 million sites even if they never appear. Incredibly annoying, harassing and unfair. The terrorists win with an able assist from our increasingly frustrating and misguided government. Far more unfair then kids Ground Hog Day watching TV shows on-line.

My puppy is a slim trim 67 pounds!! This has barely increased her already arrogant, if dignified pose.

And suddenly time has passed. We did not get the house. Partially our fault in trusting people. Partly ineptness on the part of people you're supposed to trust.
I got a nook off of craigslist for 25 bucks. The whole world is getting stoked over the kindle 3 so nooks are dwindling in value (with the announced sale of Barnes & Noble). I prefer the Kindle 2 to the nook but its okay. I can read on it and that's all that matters to me. In the brief time I've had it I read Paretsky's last VI Warshawski novel; "Hardball". It was okay and had some good scenes. Unfortunately the plot mechanisms are still creaky and woefully repetitive.
I'm almost finished with Larry Niven's sequel to "Inferno" which was his updating of Dante's Inferno. The sequel, "Escape From Hell" makes you glad Dante didn't feel compelled to write "Inferno II: The Devil Busts Loose".

Football season is starting. USC will look different/ Maybe better.
Looks like my puppy and I will need this season.

June 5, 2010

When you blame others, you give up your power to change
Robert Anthony

Total Eclipse
Click images for desktop size: "Total Eclipse" by Unknown
When I was on the different chemo's one thing I noticed is that I never got bothered by bugs or mosquitos. Something in the chemo put something in my blood that scared the bugs away. It's theForce Five only good thing about some of the more virulent chemo's.
There's a woman who comes into where I work. She's mean. Just a bitch. As the night goes on she gets meaner and meaner. She comes in with her daughter and they manage to harmonize their meanness till you can't stand either of them.
They're short. Each of them is about 150 pounds overweight. I'm probably being kind there. They tended to the rude and hateful. Not that much different from any of the other customers but they were noticeable for being a couple and for staying 12 to 14 hours at a stretch.
She didn't come in for a couple of weeks, just the daughter. Finally I asked where her mother was. "Oh, she's getting chemo." Then she waddled away, back to playing the game.
The mother and daughter came in again, about two weeks later. The mother was wearing a wig. I couldn't tell if she'd lost weight or not. Reflexively I went to talk to her, she had the deep fear of death on her face and the gray crust of nightmares collected in the skin around her eyes and jowls.
She told me she had leukemia. It was a different kind them mine. My leukemia is the one kids get, (got leukemia 14 years old looked like 65 when she died~Jim Carroll). The mother had the kind old people get. She wasn't that old but her body showed enough abuse for it to think it was that old.
I told her about my experience and that I was still alive. Being alive is all that matters. She held my hand and cried a bit then she went back to playing the game.
They keep coming in, almost nightly. If they're not where I work they're probably at one of the other joints. I find myself being inordinately kind to her, even as much as I dislike her. I don't think about The nerve by Psychopulse
Click images for desktop size: "The nerve" by Psychopulse
why. It's probably because I hate the disease and I hate for people to be afraid, even people I hate shouldn't ever have to be afraid, certainly not that kind of fear.
Of course she senses the kindness and is taking full advantage of it, more so as she's feeling better and better.
She can't help that. The sort of people who gamble always think that kindness is just a sign of weakness. They have no courage or strength themselves so they can't see it any other way.

Today I read that Tony Jaa has entered a monastery. He's decided to become a monk.
He's, without question, the biggest star in Thailand, probably the most famous Thai in the world.
When I told my wife she said it was inevitable. I can see that. I mean the man who takes time from an interview to state that the elephants who live on his land are not pets, that they are his family,Ghost of Frankenstein ranks close to saint hood in my eyes already. That Jaa can fight like he does, has perfected his body to such a mad extreme I guess there is no place left for him to go.
I re-watched "Ong Bak 2" and "Tom Yum Gum" recently. Ong Bak 2 is good when Jaa is moving even when the film is not totally satisfying. "Tom Yum Gum" is a masterpiece and each viewing Gene Kelly
Click images for desktop size: "Gene Kelly"
raises it in my opinion. Right now I can make arguments that its one of the 5 greatest films ever made. Because its a martial arts movie the people who care so much about their top ten lists would be appalled with the assertion.
I've railed about the movie before but it bears repeating. The first 15 minutes of a 90 minute movie is a love poem to elephants. The bad guys kill Jaa's father but it is the theft of the elephants that rings as the greatest tragedy.
The first shot we get of Jaa in action is of him flying through the air, crushing a man's chest and yammering, "Where are my elephants?!"
When Jaa goes to Sydney to search for them he tells everyone he is looking for his brothers.
Technically and stylistically the movie is a tour de force. There is one breathtaking sequence, a 10 minute single take of Jaa climbing to the top of the restaurant searching for his elephants. If it had been made by Antonionio it would have been hailed as a classic shot in cinema history. As it is it is all that and it is exhilarating, beautiful and violent. A more complicated set of logistics I can't Unknown
Click images for desktop size: "Untitled" by Unknown
imagine.
The director makes it function but its the performance and sheer physicality of Tony Jaa that makes it work.
"Where's my elephant."
Giving a gift like that to the world makes it easy to see and comprehend Jaa's decision. Whether he'll make movies again or if he's even thinking about making movies his religion is important to him and my wife is right, he wouldn't be the dynamic person he is if he were not above all true to himself and his family.
I'll miss him.

I'm updating the film catalogs over the next couple of days. I've upgraded to the newest Movable Type too, but haven't had time/energy to rebuild the site to show it. I took a day off of work to go fight with people about my drugs and to write affidavits to bring my wife down here. And to just have time with my super slim down to 71 pounds puppy.Friday the 13th
My little girl is so happy to have me around. She's my dog and wants to be with me. I'm her boy and love being with her. She's still on a diet though.
Now if we can sort out USA immigration and get my wife and my other two dogs down here we'll have some glimmers of happiness again.
Its a lot of work and produces a lot of tension. There's no one to talk to, no one to fight with or to beg. There's only us. I'm not small but I worry if I'm big enough still. I'm not wuitting and I haven't sold out any of my principals so it will be alright whatever we discover together.

February 22, 2010

I'll be sorry but I don't care

Haiko On Hanami by April Joy E Jasmin
Click images for desktop size: "Haiku On Hanami" by April Joy E Jasmin
My mother used to be terrified that she, being only fifteen years older than me and divorced, was going to deprive me and traumatize me. The only book, the only resource for new mothers then was Delinquent Schoolgirls Doctor Spock. She couldn't go to her mother for advice. My grandmother hadn't talked to her since my mother's divorce. So my mother fumbled around and did the best she could figure out.
Sometimes this entailed taking me to work with her. When she was working at the concession counter at the drive-in movie theater going with her was very cool. I would sit at a picnic table on a concrete slab by the projection booth, right next to a blaring metal loud speaker and float into the movies while my mom's teen co-workers inundated me with sugar-y soda, popcorn and ice cream.
It was in that state that I first saw "Godzilla". A warm California night, the sea breeze and eucalyptus scenting the air and sixty feet of city munching reptile destroying everything adults hold dear. Perhaps my still holding love affair with Japanese jidai-geki movies has more to do with remembering a mother's love than it does my fondness for giant lizards and men in rubber suits. I wouldn't know. I'm more Adlerian than Freudian.
I liked monster movies. So did my mother but she worried so her next big plan to keep me from being deprived was a subscription to The Children's Book Club.
This was some weird thing, probably from an ad in "Teen Mom's Weekly". For fifty nine cents a copy your child, meaning me, got a hard cover classic of children's literature.
They were cheaply printed things. Thing I remember most were the super ragged edges of the pages. But I liked the books. I liked the stories in them. Classics is a pretty broad term. There were Hardy Boys stories, strange science fiction and "Alice's Adventures In Wonderland". I really liked that book at age 7. I liked the pictures and I liked the horrible things that happened to the little girl.
Purple Vectors
Click images for desktop size: "Purple Vectors" by Unknown
At that stage of my life torturing little girls was a major part of my entertainment. Not real torture but stuff like dropping snails down their backs, stealing the heads from their dolls. Typical stuff. The one girl who thought it was cool and fought back instead of shrieking and threatening to tell on me became a life long friend.
So I liked that all the animals yelled at Alice, picked on her and tormented her. It kept my interest up.
I read that book and re-read it then got on with surfing, torturing little girls etc. In high school someone gave me a copy of Martin Gardener's "The Annotated Alice". I don't remember who. It took me a long time before I started reading it. When I did start to get into it I was enthralled. It started my trek into Lewis Carroll fandom.
I recently got a copy of Jenny Woolf's new book, "The Mystery of Lewis Carroll". It's a bit dry but it attempts to debunk some of the more bizarre suppositions about Charles Dodgson like that he wasThe Deadly Mantis actually Jack the Ripper. It also attempts to tackle the issue of his being a pedophile. That has always driven me crazy. I've read some persuasive arguments for it being so and I've tried to accept that he was a pedophile who never actually improperly touched or harmed a child.
That goes against my knowledge of pedophiles. When I took my training to help abused kids part of it was attending group therapy sessions and listening to child abusers. I think the plan was to get us trainees to have some compassion and empathy for the offensive Audrey Hepburn
Click images for desktop size: "Audrey Hepburn"
offenders.
It didn't have any such effect. I have been alone with thrill killers, reputed Mafia hitmen, drug addicts, prostitutes and movie stars. At some level I've always felt a bond of humanity. Sometimes it was tenuous and difficult but it was always still there.
Prior to my meeting the child abusers the group I felt most distant from were the hard core crack addicts. They were so lizard brained that any cloudy memory they had of being human was only called on to try and manipulate.
Child abusers, the ultimate victimizers, didn't have even that. To me they were an alien insect race that would be best served with a claw hammer and a room draped in plastic.
They have no control over their actions. They must abuse. So sordid and ingrained is their delusion that they speak often and in agreement that children are sexual seducers who lure them into the abusers horrific attacks and fantasies.
The thing is that they were all like this, all out of control. Even chemical and physical castration has not deterred child molesters from attacking children.
No matter how convincing the arguments it was hard, nearly impossible for me to put Dodgson in Rise on an Angel by Titusboy
Click images for desktop size: "Rise on an Angel" by Titusboy
this category, this misshapen lump. I could not even accept that he was a pedophile who had somehow managed to NOT harm children.
Ms Woolf's book tries to address this issue while presenting an image of Carroll full and deep. She uses a few newly discovered letters, gets some interesting interpretations of available data from MD's and such and uses a unique and solid bit of hard evidence.
She uses forensic accounting. Recently discovered are the complete bank records for Dodgson. From the first penny he spent till the decimation of his estate at his death. Financial records.
It seems odd. But so did bringing down Al Capone's empire based on his financial records. It paints a picture of Carroll and Dodgson that I am much more in agreement with that any other previous. Meaning it jibes most closely to my own perceptions of a major part of my pantheontology.
Woolf's writing style is a bit dry and prosaic but her observations are keen, her conclusions are onlyDevil Girl From Mars pedantic when strongly supported by evidence. It makes a good read and provides at least for the fans, which I am, a nice amount of dream time considering Dodgson/Carroll. My only complaint is that a bit too many words are spent rejecting some of the more inane conclusions about Dodgson.

I went for my stress tests on Wednesday. Interesting stuff. They made the mistake of leaving me alone in a room too long. I found a remarkable plastic model of a heart. It was dumped behind some boxes in a cupboard. I coveted it and considered stealing it. I didn't. Not because of any high handed moral arguments or out of fear but because it occurred to me that it might only appear to be discarded and might be of service to some other poor slob stuck in my kind of hell.
The stress tests themselves were not all that difficult. The first one was on a treadmill. I was out fitted with all the ekg terminals and an x-ray machine was pointed at my chest.
Wally Wood
Click images for desktop size: "Untitled" by Wally Wood
It was hard getting my pulse over 100. Not that I'm that fit but because the treadmill didn't offer up enough resistance and I was ordered to not bend over too much to accelerate so that the x-rays would hit the right spot.
After that we went to the stair masters. Due to my chemotherapy history they eschewed x-rays. Didn't want to blast me with too much radiation in case I turned into a super hero I bet. So this time I climbed the unending staircase and was monitored by electrodes and sound waves. I could see the sonogram as I worked out. It was so incredibly cool looking at my heart beat. In motion I was trying to control it and make it do interesting things. That got me yelled at.
Don't have all the results yet but what there is is good. My heart has healed. There are abnormalities but they have to be looked for rather than appearing as distorted lines and squibbles.
My vitals are all good. they doubled my blood pressure meds. Rah. My BP was 120 over 60, but they decided they want it even lower! Part of this is due to the congestive heart failure I had with theDouble Indemnity Lyrica. Then my BP was hovering around 190 over 80 due to all the fluid in my chest compressing everything. Getting my standard BP even lower will enable me to endure a real congestive heart attack (that's what killed my grandmother when she was 98 . . .) They said I was on an extremely minmal dosage anyway and this would still have me below average.
Now I just wait for the rest of the results and the fitness and fury.
Just wanted to mention my puppy. She's continued to be wonderful. She's crazy and calm by turns. When I'm feeling more under the weather than usual she's protective. When I'm feeling better she's bossy and obnoxious, demanding her way. She's my friend.
She's been on a diet. She hates it. But we went to the pet store yesterday and she has lost nearly TWO POUNDS! Bringing her weight down to 71! Only six more pounds to go till she is her ideal weight!
She could care less about ideal weight. She'd rather have ice cream at all of her meals.

February 21, 2010

I've seen the future; it looks like yesterday

Fairytale Land by Monica Corduneau
Click images for desktop size: "Fairy Tale Land" by Monica Corduneau
"I've never said this to a white man before. I love you."
I don't get nervous about things being said to me like that. It was a customer as I counted out herAlien vs Predator $3,200 winnings. She didn't give me a tip.
Nowadays most people don't understand the use or the power of words. Crack, meth, liquor and TV have minimized the impact of everything but mostly words have come to mean less and less.
The sounds of words get used to mesmerize and manipulate. The clarity and evocative power of words and sentences has been lost to soundbites, which tend to be meaningless emotion grabbers without depth.
Sarah Palin, who used to faqscinate me until she quit the job she insisted she craved so that she'd be free to be greedy. She uses soundbites. She doesn't even bother with words. She makes up sounds that sound like they have portent. It seems like the grunting of a caveman in a 10 thousand dollar suit.
Frank Capra made a movie. It was called "Meet John Doe". It was one of those great populist dramas. Gary Cooper was "John Doe" a baseball pitcher who blew his arm out. In the middle of the great depression that meant he was now a hobo, riding the rails, looking for a days work. Barbara Stanwyck is a newspaper columnist who just got fired. In an act of spite Stanwyck publishes a shaggy dog story about how John Doe was mad about the state of the world. John Doe is so mad that he plans to commit a Zen Bhuddist protest and throw himself off of City Hall on Christmas Eve.
Gary Cooper gives radio speeches that barbara Stanwyck writes for him. They're populist speeches that hold a pure clean vision for America. Mainly the populist themes of the times: employment, self esteem, distrust of the decadent rich, distrust of elected politicians who forget their constituency.
Hal 9000 by Maurico Fernandez Rosino
Click images for desktop size: "HAL 9000" by Maurico Fernandez Rosino
Gary Cooper's character becomes a national hero. Clubs, form up: "The John Doe Society". They agree with Cooper and the clubs form to collect signatures begging Cooper to not commit suicide.
The John Doe Clubs keep springing up all over America. Then Eddy Arnold comes forward. He's a rich guy and begins to bank roll The John Doe Society. He turns a grass roots organization into a powerful political third party. He spends depression millions creating the clubs, controlling the people. He plans to ride them into the White House, making himself a ruler. A ruler not with populist ideals but with fascist Stalinist principals that insure the success of white upper crust Americans while grinding the poor and the middle class into a bloody stew to grease the corporate wheels of his personal progress.
Eddy Arnold rests by building his own private army and by installing the movie world's best ever Christmas tree.
There's a lot more plot to the movie. Cooper finds out about Arnold's plans and plans to expose him. The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes Arnold, rather than be exposed, destroys Cooper and the John Doe Society. If he can't use it. He writes it off as a loss.
It all reminds me too much of Sarah Palin and Roger Ailes. Except there's no Gary Cooper around to save us from them. And, like they say, there's a sucker born every minute.
Palin has no mystery. She's just a greed machine who couldn't even finish out her sworn term of office because she was too greedy and feared her flame flickering out before she struck true gold. She's the Marylin Monroe and Jane Russell
Click image: "Marlyn Monroe & Jane Russell"
Paris Hilton of politics.

Next night at work was the night of the crack heads. There's an armed security guard who works with me. Most of the time he just sits and plays the games, he gambles almost 8 hours straight. I don't know if he was absorbed in gambling or intimidated by the crack heads. Either's possible. There were 14 of them in 3 cars: an Escalade and two Cadillac coupes. They were the sort of scum who couldn't afford Caddies but sold enough crack to make a big enough down payment.
It didn't mean anything to me. I kept them in line. They'd get aggro but aggro and bragging don't impress me. I know tough. Been around plenty of scary people in my life. These jerks were just loud and used to scaring little old ladies. After each confrontation they'd come up to me and wanting to make friends. Like I'd want a coward for a friend.
No head cracking ensued. Mainly because taking even one of them out probably would have killed me. And mainly because I'd look at them and just feel pity. I hate the drugs. I hate the lizard brained monsters crack turns people into but I feel saddened that crack was all they have and turning them into lizard brains was the best choice for them, as they see it. Because creeps like Sarah Palin want to take away any dream of a future and leave all but their select few as despairing multitudes begging for just a little more.
Marek Okon
Click images for desktop size: "Untitled" by Marek Okon
The next night was worse, worse than crack heads. There seems to be a type of woman who hangs around these places. Usually they seem pretty harmless to me. They beg for gambling money.
They scam and hustle but its pretty harmless stuff to my mind. Its more their gambling addiction than purer forms of poverty. Usually they "borrow" a couple bucks in exchange for bringing the fatties money to me. As in, "Eighteen bucks on Miss Ambrose's account and two on mine," while they hand me a crumpled twenty. For many of these women the effort of standing up and walking 6 feet is worth 2 bucks. Or "loan me five and we'll be partners and split anything I win."
I don't like that stuff but it's better than robbery. I've talked to a few women about it but it doesn't seem to have any impact. It annoys most of my co-workers, these people. I don't see why. They only bug me when they get rude but most of the time they are only obnoxious to me.
There's one of this group who fairly attractive i.e. not fat. She's pretty low life. One of the securityApocalypse Now guards was hitting on her as was one of my co--workers. In the introductory conversation she always swings it around to her time in prison and how proud she is of her mother who is like Queen of the Yard.
Depressing stuff.
The girl talks but she comes off as just a tease. She's just playing things out for the money and the attention.
So Thursday she's working this dude, Ronnell. He's a tall guy, a wanna be pimp sort. Wears tiny braids and a derby hat! In 2010 a derby hat looks pretty stupid to my eyes.
So the girl hustled him for a whole five bucks. It made me nervous because I dislike this guy Ronnell and get the idea that he thinks he's suave and dangerous, in a way a guy who's never set foot out of a small town can think he's suave and dangerous. Too many movies, too much TV and very little life other than street corners.
Ronnell decided to collect on his "investment". Fortunately caught him when he led the girl outside and slammed her against a wall and pressed hard against her. Fortunately stopped him before it My House
Click images for desktop size: "My Home" by Unknown
went any further than that. Sexual assault is slightly less disgusting than rape.
I asked the girl about calling the cops. She was startled. She was upset but nowhere near as upset as I'd expect. She hung around a couple of more hours.
The next morning my boss didn't fight me about banning the guy permanently.

I was supposed to see the neurologist on Friday. I got an email canceling the appointment and rescheduling it for April 21!!
I think I'd rather have a slightly worse doctor who was a little it more available.
I called the office and found out the guy was sick. Occupational hazard style sickness.
This Wednesday I get to see the cardiologist. I have some high hopes here. It's the stress test. I'm hoping to find out that the heat attacks have healed. I'm also hoping that the damage done by the Lyrica was only transitory.
So the weekend is nearly over and all I've done is recover physically enough to go into work tomorrow night.
It's going to be a short week. I'm taking off the night of the stress test and then the next night as well. I want to pass the stress test and be deemed healthy.

December 20, 2009

The more you can dream, the more you can do
Michael Korda


The Star My puppy and I took a two hour stroll. It was supposed to be an historic ice storm.
We weren't very impressed. I only slipped 4 times, 1 near fall and 0 falls. It's early in the season Calvin and Hobbes but I'd say I'm on track to winning winter.
One the near fall I had to wind mill my arms. The frozen shoulder barely hurt. It didn't rotate around as much as I'd want but it worked. A few months ago I'd have just let the fall happen instead of enduring the pain of moving my arm. So I'm winning everywhere . . . except work. I hate my job. It's the kind of job you have to hate. They don't give you much choice.
I still think like a worker, a laborer, and that its us against them. Sadly, not many of my co-workers agree with me. I ignore them.
One of my coworkers was accused of stealing $1,200. Stupidly the accusation took place right in front of me, which is as stupid and as disorienting as it sounds. After a few moments of pretending I was unaware of what was going on my coworker began, in near tears to beg not to be fired. Management seemed, to me, to be taunting him, saying how this sort of thing usually meant instant termination.
I thought the scene crossed too many lines of decency and humanity. Its pretty bad to have to beg for a cruddy job, in this economy you often feel that sort of trembling fear and anxiety. I understand it too well. It's the only reason I'm still working there.
I felt frozen, I didn't want my coworker to see I'd seen his anguish. I tried talking to management directly and offered up a bit of defense and pointed out I shouldn't be here for this sort of conversation, that it was demeaning for all 3 of us. I tried to offer up a stronger defense but I kept thinking of the new laptop with 4G dongle he'd shown me the day before, and how he was encouraging me to join him in spending a couple hundred bucks for gifts for the other workers.
Xmas I always believe that people are innocent and if they're not then there are things and personalities that I can't understand. The only ones I assume are guilty are governments, management and the powerful who view society as an impediment to their success.
My doubts must have been pretty strong because I couldn't mount a more vigorous defense. I managed to finish up and leave offering up my support. It distracted me all the way home, thinking about the situation. I sent out 3 more resumes when I got home.
The next day I was stunned by an entire wall of edicts all demanding to be signed by me. I fumed and felt like walking out. They were mainly to prevent theft. I'm never to pleased to be accused of being a thief. I have a lot of things I can be called out on but not for being a petty thief. (I always work of the old edict about stealing from your employer: If you're not stealing a minimum of 3 times your annual salary don't do it. That includes taking pens or paperclips. I mean, you are going to get caught.)
It turns out the coworker offered to make up the shortage at $20 per month . . . that's five years by Holiday Comics my calculator . . . great job security or I'm the fool for being honest. I mean, a five year zero interest loan . . .
That didn't bug me near as much as the 18 new rules and procedures I had to stomach on Christmas week.
I didn't walk out. Not more mature and level headed, just older and more fearful.

I'm enjoying having the TV. Still have mixed feelings about the WDTV Live. Odd thing is my feelings are very strong on loving and hating the device. My friend is coming to visit (with both the crazy dogs - which means my Christmas will be frenetic and most likely happy - just the way I like it!) and she's bringing the AppleTV with her. It's acting up in a way that's affecting a couple thousand people and the New Apple, is of course, ignoring the problem. It's a port problem that seems to have been launched with the new AppleTV 3.01 firmware.
I'll get to compare the two, side by side and I'll try to get it to work.
I did get to watch two of the best films I've seen this year. One's even American made!
"Moon" was a well hyped low budget flic. I liked it. Found it amusing and liked the return of science fiction, as opposed to Sci-Fi, to movies. Its been pretty well hyped so not much need to go over it. I found it a nice reaffirmation of freedom and humanity. Something most American movies seem to ignore in the 21st century.
The other film was denser and more surprising. Since "Running on Karma" I've always figured Johnny To and Ka-Fai Wa as two monster talents waiting to explode. They've done some brilliant work separately and done some light collaborations. this is the first film since "Karma" where've Xmas they've worked together as a team.
The movie is different. Firstly it's a FRENCH production! And stars French icon Johnny Hallyday! It starts off as a pretty standard though superbly made thriller, a move titled "Vengeance" makes it pretty obvious what we're going to see. I figured there'd be some sort of culture conflict, Europe vs Asia sort of thing.
To and Wa are too smart for that, in fact the film proudly touts the humanity of us all, even amidst society's killers. There are plenty of cool scenes and plenty of mayhem. The movie starts to turn at a picnic ground where the prey meets their families for dinner. The hunters stand by refusing to engage while the children are present.
Everyone gets shot up pretty badly. While the hunters administer to their wounds it turns out that Hallyday has a bullet in his skull that will cause him to become a total amnesiac with no long and a very spotty short term memory. An idea lifted in cloth from the cool "Memoir". To is smart enough Action Comics to use that movie as a shorthand stop to dispense with boring exposition.
To uses the device effectively to get to his and Wa's central theme, the nature, purity and need for revenge. When Hallyday's memory finally goes he doesn't remember pictures of his murdered daughter and grand children. He doesn't even remember the meaning of the word revenge.
Anthony Wong gives a solid performance as the hired killer with values and morals as well as brains. Simon Yam plays the villain with over the top glee. Its important he be so despicable to prove the thesis of the movie.
Wong delivers Hallyday over to his pregnant wife and 8 children. He knows he and his crew are going off to die. Since Hallyday offered him everything he had for his revenge Wong leads him to the only safe place he knows.
There in the family Hallyday laughs and spends his days playing with the children. He's happy perhaps for the only time in his life.
The children and mother are upset when the news of their father's death makes the local news. Hallyday only has a polaroid of Wong to tell him that he even knows the man. But he feels the upset around him and feels some how responsible.
Confused and befuddled he falls to his knees at the edge of the ocean and he begins to pray. He has no memory of his religion but for To and Wa faith and belief are instinctual things. And in praying to nothing Hallyday is coming into the zen of his situation. Hallyday sits at the ocean locked in his meditations even as the tide rises and threatens to drown him, even after it recedes he stays locked in his position, until the ghosts of his memory seem to rise from the ocean. The people he has loved Santa and the people he has grown to trust and see as friends rise up and give him release with a kiss.
And Hallyday the blank man from another world rises from the beach and goes off to kill, to seek vengeance. And he's aided cleverly and safely, by the children and the pregnant mother who need their own vengeance.
The idea of vengeance so elegantly woven into a high octane action movie is hard to conceive. It works for me and the film is enough of a hit to say To and Wa pulled it off.
I have a hard time accepting the organic necessity of revenge but that doesn't stop this from being one powerful film that would rank as one of the years best in any year.

I mentioned before that my friend is driving down from Canada to see me for the holidays. I'm touched and pleased and worried. I hope the weather is calmed down enough for her trip to be uninteresting. She'll have the two dogs with her. I don't know if they'll make the trek easier or more Santa Claus Funnies difficult. I'm looking forward to seeing them as well.
I'm poised to have a broke but excellent Christmas. What could be better.

I sort of lost interest in the NFL when the Saints lost tonight. The idea of two undefeated teams meeting in the SuperBowl was staggering and blissful. The Saints with Reggie Bush as the sun, Coulston as the wind and Drew Brees as the tired warrior bringing self esteem to a city and making that his primary goal despite the horrors that his own life have instilled filled me with a pride in the human race. I loved Brees leading the Saints in that pre-game high school rocking cheer. Seeing pros get as up and excited as kids is unique. The Saints may not have own them all but they won my heart. And sometimes a loss like this brings them down hard enough to reality to see them through to win the rest.
Pure crap such an important game was stuck on that dreary contentious NFL network. It should be banned by an act of congress and the NFL's anti-trust exemption revoked.

My picks are in bold.

Indianapolis at Jacksonville - The Colts did their part and the Jaguars made it more than interesting.

Dallas at New Orleans - Curse this shabby Cowboys team.

Christmas Toys Chicago at Baltimore - The Ravens have disappointed this season but still have a shot a playoff spot. The Bears only interest is in drafting some wide receivers.

New England at Buffalo - When will be certain that Tom Brady is really back?

Arizona at Detroit - Two teams coming off embarassing losses. The Lions are used to that.

Cleveland at Kansas City - Cruddy game of the week. The Browns beat the Steelers?

Atlanta at New York Jets - Mark Sanchez should be back and Ryan has the Jets paying some D. The Falcons need more than an 80% Matt Ryan to compete.

Houston at St Louis - A game of no interest whatsoever!

Miami at Tennessee - Two teams whose play off dreams are fading fast, this could still be one of the better games this Sunday. Taking the Vince Young Titans because he's playing inspired football Junior Partners 5.jpg and is pretty fun to watch.

Oakland at Denver - This game should stop the Broncos from achiving an 8-8 record after an 8-0 start!

Cincinnati at San Diego - Game of the Week. Chad Ocho Cinco invites his twitter followers out for breakfast the day before a game and then walks with them to Starbucks for coffee. Plans to wear his dead teammates jersey knowing he'll be fined massively. A teammate dies and it will either inspire or deaden a team. I hope it inspires. This is my second fave team this year. The Chargers will probably when going away but where's the beauty in that?

Tampa Bay at Seattle - Another who cares game.

San Francisco at Philadelphia - I like the 49ers. I don't like the Eagles this year. They took Vick and lied to defend it. They have also played erratic football.

Green Bay at Pittsburgh - The Steelers lost to Cleveland . . . They should just cancel the rest of their season. Maybe they already have.

New York Giants at Washington - Big rivalry game or snooze fest?

Minnesota 41 at Carolina 14 - At sometime they most have thought this would be a relevant game. What records will Favre and Petersen break is the only thing of possible interest.

MERRY CHRISTMAS! Peace on Earth!

October 3, 2009

You're only has good as your last haircut
Fran Lebowitz

3D
Click images for desktop size: "3D" by Unknown
Been tired. It's the job mainly and my normal not sleeping well thing. It just leaves me perpetually exhausted. Like last night was my first day off of the weekend I slept about 4 hours during the dayFriday Foster and then nearly 6 hours through the night. None of this helps me re0tune my body clock. It does show that my body is screaming for rest.
Today I also think I'm coming down with a cold.
Mainly I'm not doing much of anything except dealing with doctors and going to work. I don't think that's good, but almost anything else I do becomes an arduous labor that leaves me wasted and with no energy.
Not updating this site means I'm not thinking about myself and my puppy enough. I'm just reacting and living off of instinct. That's fine for a while. Its one of the reasons I live by a rigid code and set of rules I don't deviate from even if, most of the time, I don't remember why I made up the rules in the first place.
Physical therapy and all these doctors are starting to wear thin on me. On Monday I have to see the opthamologist. I'm close to blind in my left eye. Its useless for looking at anything but it doesn't look freakish and it does help me with depth perception. I drop enough stuff and stumble around enough that the idea of me thrashing about in a 2D world is amusing or daunting depending on the time of day.
I don't think the eye thing is that serious but it has to be dealt with. I've long known that I'd rather go blind then deaf. Not that I'd prefer it. I still want to barter though, like, "I'll give up my eye sight but I demand that I be able to play the guitar again, at least as well as I did 3 years ago!"
I like to pretend that there's justice in this life.
I saw the orthopedist this week. I like the guy. Turns out he put himself through school playing baseball. Was a shortstop! There's no Fraternal Order of Shortstops but there should be. At least it Abstract Affinity by XGA
Click images for desktop size: "Abstract Affinity" by XGA
made me feel a sense of commonality.
My right hand has been partially numb for a few months now. Now that the shoulder has been relatively tamed (about 30% of the motion returned, pain is common but not constant) the theory was that some of the numbness should have vanished. It hasn't.
The shoulder pain was so bad that I've distorted a lot of my body in trying to deal with it. That's made for some horrible pain as those muscles start to relax and unconstrict. It appears one of the things I've done is to compress my ulnar nerve.
Now I have to see a neurologist to have an EMT (?) to see where the compression is occurring. If its anywhere but my shoulder the only solution is surgery to move it and uncompress the nerve . . . If its him my shoulder surgery is a probable option but I might be able to decompress it with physical therapy.
I ended up talking about this with the doc. I expressed my concerns, mainly that I'd have to balance out surgery with my life expectancy. Like why put myself through this if I've got only 3 years to go.The Ghost of Zorro
I told him that the best prognosis I'd gotten was living through till last year. I tried to sit patiently while he reviewed my medical history and he agreed that looking at that thing its pretty hard to believe that I am still alive, harder to believe that I'm so robust and looking like I do. He told me his nurse wanted to check my ID because she thought I was stealing someone's identity. I couldn't possibly be as old as I claimed.
The final decision was that it was impossible to guess how long I Bo Jangles and Shirley Temple
Click image: "Bo Jangles and Shirley Temple"
could reasonably expect to hang on. He noticed that in February I'm scheduled for the big cardio stress test. He said that will give the clearest factual basis to determine how long I could fairly expect. With a grin he said, "And I'd say it close to impossible for anything else to happen to you!"
We agreed that I should get the EMT (?) so we'd have a handle on the problem and then there'd be little risk in waiting until after the cardio stress test to make a decision on the surgery. I need to get it fixed. It will just degrade to the point of paralysis, but that stage would be years down the line.
Physical therapy is going fine. They want me to do the underwater exercises 5 times a week. Another tedious wearying chore. I'll do it.

A few people have noticed I've updated the Jukebox. ANother 20 tunes from my hit list.
It might be the last time I can. I see where the music publishers have started to take umbrage against the internet.
Unlike the RIAA who are just a bunch of twerps who, to protect their useless job, have extended Pieces of a Dream by Titusboy
Click images for desktop size: "Pieces of a Dream" by Titusboy
their authority because there's no one to tell them to shut up, the music publishers are scary guys. They've controlled music in the world since at least the Civil War.
I mean they were a force back since young educated orphan ladies could make a living looking cute and playing and singing the latest cool hits at an upright piano in department stores, hawking the latest hit sheet music, making other girls dream of seducing the cute boys by emulating her playing skill.
The music publishers used to count the number of plays a record would get on a juke box to make sure they got their cut! They have the army, the interest and the money. I mean, the record labels owe the publishers MILLIONS! And they're past due. The publishers have lived through wars, external and internal, mob wars and discord. They're a force.
I've been debating about whether I should update the music libraries. I have a couple hundred new titles but I only have a couple hundred of the titles here. I'm considering the argument that mostForce Of Evil people just like to browse the library to see the posters and read about the movies. They also usually complain because I didn't write any of the reviews . . .

The most interesting movie I've seen has been "Written By," a Chinese movie. Ka-Fai Wai wrote and co-directed, with Johnny To, the shattering "Running on Karma". On his own he's been a quixotic and impressive director.
"Written By" is a sort of ghost story. I hate ghost stories. They never fail to bore me. But Ka-Fai Wai has made something unique here.
There's a car accident with the entire family, a Mom, Dad, sister and brother in the car. Dad is killed, Sister is blinded. The other two are relatively unscathed. Ten years on Mom still has not accepted her husband's death. Blind sister decides to write a novel, using her braille typewriter. The novel will tell Dad's story in a make believe world where everything is reversed. Dad is now blind and the only survivor of the accident.
The film criss crosses the stories, and, due to the plastic power of movies, both stories seem genuinely real to us. For the first half of the movie it feels like Ka-Fai Wai is going to explode the Cleopatra by Maxfield Parrish
Click images for desktop size: "Cleopatra" by Maxfield Parrish
ghost story genre and make it impossible for anyone else to ever make another one. Its powerful and deeply moving stuff. Writing the novel is therapeutic for the family. It also become obsessive and soon the Dad in the novel is handling the problems of the real world in a fashion that is more direct and sensible than the real family.
Oddly the films power begins to dissipate when the two world begin to collide. The end is almost just silly, but at least it's entertaining.
A great film that couldn't deliver on the genius of its original concept. Not a loss because at least it got made.
Ching Wan Lau, the actor who plays Dad, is incredible. Considering the stunning job he recently turned in for "The Mad Detective" I'd say that this guy has entered the Marlon Brando-Robert DiNero class of actors. He locks into the difficult part and never variates. His charters are complete rounded people that we can feel in our hearts and in out guts. He's brilliant in ways that would make an Anglo actor a legend.The Giant Claw

My puppy claims she's never been happier. We went to her therapy dog evaluation. She failed. But it seems she still wants to do this. Selfishly I've decided that I need to finish physica therapy before we start in on her refresher classes. They want her, she wants to do it. It will work out.

Finally Stafon Johnson, the awesome power tailback for the USC Trojans had a horrifying accident this week. He dropped a 275 pound free weight on his neck! Seven hours of surgery later and it looks like he'll survive . His loss will hurt the team this season but that's a small thing compared to how much the world would have suffered if he hadn't survived. He's doing okay. I'm glad for that.

July 19, 2009

Now all I've got is sorrow and pain
Joey Ramone

Emily by Jugeminias
Click images for desktop size: "Emily" by Jugeminias
Missing my puppy badly.
I slept better last night. Discovered a plan that semi-worked. Involved a lot of propping with pillowsRabid and proper splaying. I slept for 3 hours straight through.
But dreamt of my puppy. On nights like this she'd tell me puppy jokes, watch over me and recommend a good snack. Being a doctor dog she'd know when to nuzzle me, when to play with me, take me outside, when to have me pet her.
I miss my puppy. Trying hard to not let my desperation for her turn into obsession.
Obsession almost always means you miss the obvious solutions in life.
I'm hoping that tomorrow starts to yield some results to my mad flurry of resume rending job searching. Its time for interviews and time for hoping.
I went to this store, Ross. They have plenty f cheap slacks. They sell Dockers for like eight bucks. I figure dockers are okay for some interviews. I begrudge spending the eight bucks.
I bought some used books yesterday. The trip was to drop off job apps. I got four books for nine dollars. Three of them will be interesting but hardly vital, the find was David Drake's "Killer".
"Killer," is a book I was thinking about months ago. Its a science fiction tale about a vicious killing machine monster that gets loose on earth. What makes this story compelling is that the earth its gone to war with is ancient Rome! And the monsters hunter is a former gladiator!
I'm into the first one hundred pages. The story drags a bit more than I remembered but its still fascinating. There's some effort made to show the life of free Romans. The history lesson is integrated well into the plot so it hardly feels like you're learning anything at all! Good stuff.

July 5, 2009


We woke the next morning with heavy growing hearts. A border, an imaginary line meant we had to Enhanced Canadian Wilderness By James Davidson
Click images for desktop size: "Enhanced Canadian Wilderness" by James Davidson
go our own ways.
The Days Inn provided a free breakfast. We decided to save some money and eat it. The breakfast was poor but could fill you up.
The worst part was a tray full of eggs cooked someway that they're all perfectly round. They are also nearly indestructible. Even though heaped on the plate none of their yolks showed any hint of breaking. I was afraid of them. They did not seem like food but more like the Japanese plastic sculptures of food the restaurants display.
To while away the time until checkout we walked and talked. We thought of strategies, of hopes and of plans. All bright optimistic stuff to avoid thinking of my departure time.
When we checked out we went looking for a bookstore, so I could get something to read on the long bus ride.
We went to Borders. My friend found a couple of cook books and a gluten free magazine she'd never before seen. I couldn't find anything. The prices for he titles were too high for my remote interest inThe Return of the Vampire them.
We then found a spectacular looking used book store but it was closed on the Sunday. We looked through the windows and regretted the day.
It seemed a nice place to sit and talk and attempt to say goodbye.
Divine Right
Click images for desktop size: "Divine Right" by Marvel
We had lunch at this Irish style pub. I had a quesadilla . . . it was not good but better than I feared.
Following a last second "I need another bungi cord" panic we went to the bus station. We sat and waited. Talked.
There were two US Immigrations cop hanging around. Border Patrol this far from a border? My bus pulled in but we weren't allowed to board. The Border Patrol had to go in and harass the passengers. They pulled an Indian guy off the bus and were huge jerks. They made him get his luggage and they inspected everything in an incredibly arrogant fashion.
I got on the bus. My friend was in tears. I flashed all the ASL I knew at her. I don't know if she knew what I was saying. I kept flashing ASL even as the bus pulled out. When we got to the other side of the bus station my friend was out there. She waved. I waved back and watched her walk to her car. I wanted to tell her there's no sense in crying. No one was dead yet.
So two days out of prison, nearly 4 weeks from a heart attack and here I was on the dreaded Frank Melech
Click images for desktop size: "Untitled" by Frank Mellech
Greyhound. No chance to recover. No chance to breathe.
I had 16 hours to think about things.
I started thinking about the racist cop who started this ugly turn. I don't like cops. Its their insanity and their presumption I don't like. After they've been at it long enough they start to think that everyone is guilty and its only a matter of time till they have you under the lights burying their saps in your kidneys.
This Scott McVicar wasn't even unique. I'd noticed that the area cops were almost all of a freaky breed. They remind me of nothing more than the cops in "A Clockwork Orange". "Just jobs for two who are of job working age!"
They're thugs too cowardly to run with the gangs and the worst of them who find the gangs to tame for the sadistic hatred they carry in their souls.
The sick part is that they no longer make the cops wear uniforms, not consistent uniforms. They let them fuss and futz with their uniforms to the point that there is no longer any relief when you see aSan Quentin cop. McVicar wore no name tag - ever. He even obscured his badge. He fitted and tugged his uniform and wore so much extra unofficial gear he looked more like a manga character than a cop. He wasn't alone. The end result is they look like a manga inspired gang that gets to carry guns and openly hate.
I've never seen any police force in the world that allowed its cops to customize their uniforms to such an extent that the officers couldn't be readily identified. Not even in Africa around the equator. They want the police to be readily identified in an effort to stop trouble except in Canada where the by-word is to let the thugs keep the thugs in their place and who cares what they look like.
Suddenly squad car cops are allowed to do investigations. And a cop so stupid and ignorant he thinks everything he sees on the internet is true. And based on that I was thrown in prison. I was never fingerprinted, photographed nor DNA tested. They have no idea if I was even the guy in the story. But on the whim of a racist cop who thinks in sci-fi fantasy cop terms I was arrested and thrown in prison by K.W. (Ken) McMurtrie, an immigration cop who tried to glamorize his role by Frankenstein
Click images for desktop size: "Frankenstein" by Universal
pretending that I was a dangerous arch fiend so he could justify his budget. Then when his speculative case fell apart he lied and tied to justify his heinous acts. He doesn't care about people. Just about his superiors reaming him about going over budget.
In my friends neighborhood there was a mini scandal. Some 25 year old kid walked up to an old man and punched the old man until he was dead. No one could understand it.
Now I do know what happened. He'd just been released from Maplehurst.
You can't take a young violent man, throw him in a ell, abuse and debase him through a constant, clearly administratively approved series of verbal, physical and psychological abuse. Reduce his self esteem to less than zero and then give him nothing but time. No encouragement, no chance to improve himself, just encourage his violence, set him up to commit institutionally approved violence against other inmates.
Are the people who set up this system illiterate? Haven't they bothered to read or even be aware of Shiver of the Vampire the last 60 years of penal work and reform.
MAXSEX (Maximum Security) is harsh. I've visited prisoners in MAXSEC in Europe and the USA. I was treated with respect. So were the prisoners. The sort of behavior exhibited by the guards at Maplehurst would not have been tolerated at any of those prisons if only because the type of prisoners in MAXSEC would think nothing of killing a guard ho was insulting and belittling and threatening, but also because everyone knows very few MAXSEC prisoners get life sentences. Most of them will be out on the street. In a true MAXSEC prisoners case every effort is made to attempt to rehabilitate him to avoid just spitting killers back onto the street. They succeed quite often. More than 70%.
The prisoners at Maplehurst are NOT MAXSEC! Shoplifters are not MAXSEC. They do not promote a danger to others around them. Guys on two year sentences for being drunk and disorderly are not MAXSEC.
Maplehurst makes no attempt at education or rehabilitation. They punish. The punish the innocent and the guilty equally. But what else they are doing is training killers. You could even produce an argument proving it is intentional.
It was in the 1930's that it was shown that the treatment of prisoners especially in modes such as practiced at Maplehurst increased a prisoners propensity to violence and that propensity stayed with the prisoner long after his incarceration had ended. Repeat offenders increased and the repeat offenses were noted for their escalating physical violence.
Forest
Click images for desktop size: "Forest" by Unknown
The punishment administered at hell holes like Maplehurst punishes society far more than it punishes the prisoner.
We got nearer my stop. The bus was over crowded and it was making my shoulder crazy.
I knew instead of thinking of the injustice of the recent past I needed to start thinking about the future or I'd be in trouble.
All I could think about was my puppy.
But she's not here.
Maybe she never will be again.
I refuse to accept that I deserve anymore punishment. I rebel.

May 29, 2009

When I found out what made the world go round and that it wasn't love; that's when I went bad
William Rose

Californian Farm Sunset by 0videoman
Click images for desktop size: "Californian Farm Sunset" by 0videoman
I don't think its a good sign that I'm waking up feeling worse than when I went to sleep. It all feels so contrarian. Like a nap should cure a head ache or an upset stomach. Shouldn't it.The Quartermass Experiment
I'm feeling rotten. Worse than I've felt in years. No where near as bad as the first chemo but remarkably bad all the same. Hands all cramped up, stomach twirling, eyes struggling to focus through the head ache and my skin feels hot and clammy at the same time.
What a mess I've become.
Most of this was predicted as side effects to starting insulin. They're supposed to go away. I'm up to 25 units a day now with no stabilization in the offing. It bothers me that I was getting similar blood sugar numbers with just the pills and vigorous exercise. To have the expense and the discomfort as well as the psychological numbness from having to do the injections and not see any radical bim bam improvement is disheartening. This wretched feeling only adds to the malaise.
I've been using hot moist heat on my shoulders and elbow. It doesn't do anything to relieve the neuropathic pain but it does loosen up the other muscles that were clenched tight. It provides minimal relieve but minimal seems like a lot right now.
I looked it up and 25 units of insulin is equal to about one third of a milligram. I'm clearly astonished that I carry around a big old gland like a pancreas and all it does for all the care I give it is to produce about one third of a milligram of insulin a day. Its even more distressing to accept that I'm so vulnerable that a drug about the size and weight of a snow flake or half the size of a mosquito should have this devastating effect on me.
My friend is home from her conference. I opened the gate for her to drive into the yard and she ran over this big rock we keep by the gate for propping the gate open. The rock is about 10 inches in diameter. It didn't hurt the car but it did bounce the rock into my foot. My big toe is all blackened. It Silent Passage
Click images for desktop size: "Silent Passage" by Unknown
shows how bad off I am that I barely notice the pain from a traumatic injury.
I was glad to see my friend. I struggled hard not to pass out. By the time I'd sorted through that she'd fallen asleep! She slept for nearly 14 hours. Poor thing, she must have needed the rest.
She went into work today because she's the only management person who'll be accessible today. She took the giant dog and the gentle dog with her! That will be interesting for her and for her co-workers!
I'm going to miss them but I'm glad they're getting a break.
There was an upsetting incident with the foster dog yesterday. We took about an hour walk and been home about 15 minutes when I heard a bad bit of snarling and whining.
The foster dog had pressed the gentle dog into a corner and was snarling and biting at his neck. Gentle dog was not resisting but was clearly suffering. I pulled the foster dog off. He made no act or aggressive motion towards me.
The gentle dog was rattled but not physically harmed. He was upset but the one who was the mostReptilicus upset was the giant dog. He was trembling and stuck close to me for the next few hours. He was far more upset than the gentle dog.
The foster dog is subject to aggressive play. He initiates every play period and will not relent until the dogs play with him. After the attack they refused to deal with him for a couple of hours, all except my puppy who will only play with him if he plays her games.
Most of this is just a dog trying to figure out his place in the pack. Clearly he is not going to challenge me as the alpha dog and he's not interested in challenging my female puppy but he's using the Count Basie
Click images for desktop size: "Count Basie"
aggressive play to attempt to dominate the two males.
The only solution I have is to watch them carefully and when the foster begins to play and the playing is not reciprocated and continues to press he'll have to go to a time out.
The aggressive play indicates a lot of things. Breaking him of that bad habit may open him up to concentrating more clearly and being less stressed.
Its a saga.
One thing I might have known but didn't realize is that gentle dog was neutered late in life. This is odd to me because he is so gentle and happy, not in the way I associate with late neutered males. He was actually being used as a stud in the puppy mill he was rescued from which makes his gentleness and lack of aggression even more moving.
He still likes to bite me though . . .

For some reason I found myself thinking about Irvin Kershner. He's a film director there's no reason Call of the Wild by Cole Phillips
Click images for desktop size: "The Call of the Wild" by Cole Phillips
for anyone to know about except that for some incomprehensible reason he was picked to direct the "Star Wars" sequel, "The Empire Strikes Back". As I consider that to be the only watchable episode of "Star Wars" I find it interesting Lucas picked Kershner, a man whose career, up till then, had been defined by good but not remarkable gentle movies about people. There was never any hard edged cataclysms in Kershner;s movies. In "A Fine Madness" the hero, Sean Connery, is a poet who gets a lobotomy as a by product to trying to avoid jail for late alimony payments. in "The Flim Flam Man", George C Scott plays a con man who prowls the rural south. Scott is old, self aware, charming and sad without any bitterness.
Kershner's movies tended to be enjoyable, reasonably successful. How this translated out to working on a cash cow and making that cash cow the most interesting of the series is something worthRobin Hood contemplating.
Today figures to be much like tomorrow, with me trying to hold on. Friday is my friends "TV night". I've got the roomba running in the living room. I like to get everything nice so she can just veg out and enjoy the only show she watches. I'm still a believer in the Spartan aesthetic, and part of the asthetic is cleanliness. Even if she doesn't notice it makes me feel good getting it together for her.
I've learned how to move so as not to create any enormous pain for myself. I sort of had to. The sun has finally come out after 4 days! So it might be a better day.
There's no reason it shouldn't be. No reason it couldn't be.

May 19, 2009

They'd live in New York and the stars would be their own; she'll be Debbie Harry and he'll be Joey Ramone
Helen Love

Nature by Celso Junior
Click images for desktop size: "Nature" by Celso Junior
Good news. Last night my blood sugars were 8.0 which is just a bit bad. This morning my blood sugars were 5.4 which is pretty good.Fantastic Voyage
I had a breakfast of eggs, frijoles, kiwi and potatoes. Two hours later my blood sugars were . . . (testing) 12.3 . . . That's not too good. Should have been between 7 and 10.
I'm up to 16 units of Lantus (insulin) so it will be 17 units tonight.
At least there's some sort of reaction.

The perspective foster dog parents didn't come yesterday. They'll come to meet him on Friday or Saturday. He could care less. He's found his place in the pack. Now he just has to face his place in the house hold.
The only thing wrong with him is that he is the world's sloppiest drinker. He drinks savagely and leaves at least half of what he takes out dripping from his mouth. I've watched him gulp up a pint of water, turn his head and let it all fall out on the floor. Fortunately I don't mind mopping a lot.
Yesterday, while cleaning up the painting for the day, the giant dog and the gentle dog found a real funny joke. I left the front door open because it was nice. The pair of them came up on the porch and whined and wiggled to get me to open the door for them so they could go into the house. They plowed in and two 20 seconds later they were back up on the porch begging to get into the house . . . I looked at them with one of my looks and let them in.
Twenty seconds later they RAN onto the porch, giant dog was wiggling and laughing so hard he could barely shine so gentle dog scratched at the door to get in.
I let them in. Five seconds later they were both stumbling onto the porch shaking with laughter and collapsing on each other going to the door. I laughed too. This was a signal to attack me and try and Peacock Phoenix
Click images for desktop size: "Peacock Phoenix" by Unknown
lick me. I hate being licked which, to them, made this all the funnier.
I have to remember I like dogs.
While I see painting as something that needs to be done I knew my friend enjoys it. I underestimated how much she would enjoy it. She said she was having fun. She looked forward to it.
This held even though she discovered that the paint wasn't exactly the color she had envisioned.
We got the paint at the Salvation Army! Recycled paint. It was cheaper but not a steal. Still it looks cleaner. The old paint looked like the product of a drunken hippy pipe dream. Not real hippies but like those old guys who have dreams of hooking up with a space cadet hard body chick. The chick had dreams of going to design school or being a fashionista.
She was with the old guy only because she had nothing else to do and no money to do it with. She probably needed a place to crash that night. After a couple of drinks and a joint she was probably wrinkling her nose at the state of the place and came up with this whacked design scheme. Since Freaks this was a way to get the chick to hang out the old guy readily agreed and the end result was . . . this?
She probably left as soon as it was finished, probably with the guy behind the counter at the liquor store.
Now the porch will look like the inside of a mushroom on a sunny day . . . Which is still better.
All week long there was an 80% chance of rain last night and today. So last night I spent about an hour hauling all the stuff I'd taken off the porch back onto the porch. There's a lot. The porch is more a summer room that a porch (two chaise lounges and three tables sort of things as well as an incalculable amount of lamps. My friend had fallen asleep so I had to do it myself. Hurt myself early and often.
Today its mid sixties and there's only a 30% chance of rain tonight . . . I couldn't have worked anyway. Even taped my shoulders are both killing me, add in all the dings and I'm close to worthless.
Still a vacation day is a vacation day.
I did watch two movies last evening. Back in the 80's Dolph Lundgren was the next big thing. There was this xeroxed magazine you couldn't afford to miss by the Hollywood Kids. It was six pages of No Peeking by Peter Dribben
Click images for desktop size: "No Peeking" by Peter Dribben
the nastiest cattiest fawning gossip in LA.
When Lundgren was cast in "He Man and the Masters of the Universe" opposite Frank Langella as Skeltor they went ballistic to the point of sneaking into the Lundgren's costume fitting. They reported he was more imposing and gorgeous in real life even if he did have pimples on his butt.
I figure that's the mark of real adoring fame. Either when someone takes the time to notice the pimples on your butt or loves you despite them.
Of course then then movie came out and Lundgren wasn't hot anymore. It was really bad. Langella survived because he got to wear a mask through the whole movie. Lundgren did a lot of junk movies after that. He became irrelevant.
He had that one interesting flash with "Big SHowdown in Little Tokyo" but everyone put that off to the burgeoning star power of Brandon Lee. Then he sort of faded to direct to video.Five Gates to Hell
I somehow got a hold of a copy of a movie called "Missionary Man" when I saw it starred Lundgren I left it on but proceeded to do chores while it played. It wasn't great but it was good and Lundgren directed himself in a way I guess he really wanted to be. Chaste, huge, dangerous with an leaning towards finer feelings that he and his character knew he would never fully grasp.
I liked it. Made me see his next (or maybe previous) direct to DVD thing called "Diamond Dogs". It really sucked.
But yesterday I watched the 1989 Lundgren "The Punisher". While Ray Charles
Click images for desktop size: "Ray Charles"
not a gruesome as the latest Punisher flic its surprisingly good. Lundgren is very effective as the deranged revenge fueled anti-hero. Marvel Comics wasn't the power house production company it is now so this is just a cheapie (even though Stan Lee still grabbed a production credit).
It actually made me feel warmly for Dolph Lundgren, and the cheap but stylish sets and his lumbering presence made for a cool enough 90 minutes.
After that I watched a strange movie, "Method Man". Nothing to do with the rapper/movie star. Its a seventies kung fu flic. This may be the worst movie ever made but and this is a shock the action choreography and the fighters are superb! It makes no sense. But when the fighters are mixing it up it reaches level similar to Liu Chia Lang's glorious choreography of Philip Kwok in the Chang Cheh flics that followed it. The fighters fly around and perform astonishing purely physical feats that dazzle and delight then we get back to the dreadful story which makes little sense even by cheapie 70's kung fu standards.
One Puff by Manogamez
Click images for desktop size: "One Puff" by Monogamez
Today is my puppy's aunt's birthday. To celebrate her 50 year old cat, (CAT!) is still hanging on. Perhaps just to spite me and my puppy. I can live with that. This is one of those cats with the sense to wish she were a dog.
My puppy's aunt other celebration was that their flat panel TV blew up! An over priced Sony. But even then there's a birthday miracle. They got the extended warranty so they get a brand new, current model FREE!
I've never heard of one of those extended warranties ever working out for anyone before. Sounds like a good, no make that an excellent happy birthday to me. Well, it should be.

May 15, 2009

When you come to a fork in the road, take it
Yogi Berra

Gunslinger Girl by VM
Click images for desktop size: "Gunslinger Girl" by VM
Before my injection my blood sugar was 6.8, just inside the target. This morning the count was 5.9, which is okay.Circus of Life
It bugs me that a couple of months ago I was getting better numbers just from the pills. For all the stigma and grief from the injections I was expecting something more dramatic from the insulin.
I have gotten a bit better at doing it. My stomach is sore from it. The hardest part is, well the whole thing is hard and tricky; holding the needle dead steady while it hurts is hard then pushing in the little plunger is tricky and uncomfortable but the part I got wired is holding the needle inside of me for a count of 20. It makes me cringe now, even thinking about it.
The reason is that if you pull the needle out too soon the insulin seeps out . . . Crazy.
The insulin is not improving the pain in my shoulders yet. Its still excruciating and stops me from doing things like putting on my jacket. and combing my hair.
I mowed the rest of the yard yesterday. It rained in the morning but then the sun came out and there was enough of a wind to dry out the grass. My left handed falling pull start still worked. I was able to grimace through getting the mower over and around all the hills and stumps and things.
I was concerned because I felt more exhausted than I should. Its a side effect that should level out. Quickly I hope. Getting fatigued stirs negative memories.

Today is a big day. An important day. It is my puppy's fourth birthday.
Kurbatova by Playboy
Click images for desktop size: "Kurbatova" by Playboy
Four years old and in all that time we've only been apart about 15 weeks. Twelve weeks while she was being weaned from her mother. Three weeks when we moved. The three weeks were hard on both of us for exactly the same reason and with pretty much the same intensity and longing.
She may not be the perfect dog to anyone else but she and I are perfect together.
She remembers things I tell her and will do things to please me. She gets defiant and demanding. She gets angry. She gets loving and protective. She plays jokes and tricks on me. We bicker and fight. We play games that are meaningless to everyone but her and me.
Together we are a boy and a dog.
I never much liked the show "Cheers", knowing a couple of the writers didn't help, but I heard a part of one episode where one of the characters said he was writing a novel about a man and his dog wandering the corn fields and drinking beer. I could read a novel like that and picture my puppy asCountess Dracula the dog.
The entire world would be a scary bad place if by some cosmic mishap she and I had never met.
I feel pretty much the same way about my friend.

This is my friend's last day of work. Vacation time.
Only a week but it will be nice for and for me. Except someone stupid, probably me, decided that the vacation should be spent painting the porch . . . how dull. I mean why ruin a vacation just because the house needs the work?
So it will improve our lives, what reason is that to ignore frivolous self gratification.
I hate painting. It will be fine. We might even laugh while we're suffering through the arduous chore.

We managed to get tickets for the Jack White tour. The one he's doing with that other side band of his, Dead something or other. I like Jack White and still think he's the guitarist of the 21st Century. Punk
Click images for desktop size: "Punk" by Unknownk
His shows don't disappoint. He's an entertainer. Of course on this tour he's playing the drums . . .
I always viewed the White Stripes as pretty much a solo act. I can imagine White dragging along his ex-wife as support. You just don't do solo acts with just an electric guitar. White showed you could.
Meg was a pretty poor drummer. She'd lose the beat a lot but White keep a more driving steady beat in his head. His work on the guitar still astounds me.
Its interesting seeing him not be the soloist with the Raconteurs, to lose a part of himself within a real band. Some of the work is excellent, none of it less than good but it felt like White was losing some part of himself, like he was being too deferential to his band mates. I would have been more interested if it had been "Jack White & The Raconteurs" instead of a true band. It would have been awesome seeing White's manic intensity with a back up band. The Raconteurs are a collaboration.
I've only seen YouTube Videos of the Raconteurs live. The stage show looks like the same sort ofThe Day the Earth Stood Still democratic sharing thing until White does "Bang Bang" the crazy Nancy Sinatra number. Its worth seeking out. It shows what White could do as the frontman.
This will b interesting. Jack White as a drummer. Yow! He can keep a beat so we'll see if it catches fire.

I saw "Zatoichi 17: Zatoichi Challenged".
Peter Welling's defined an auteur as a director who was able to work within established genres and stay within the strict conventions demanded while still managing to express his own voice. Zatoichi movies are almost a genre unto themselves. Formally they are Growing Love by Frida Lind
Click image: "Growing Love" by Frida Lind
Chambara (sword fighting) and jidai-geki (period piece).
Within this definition it still astonishes me that Kenjiro Misumi is not recognized as one of the greatest directors in the world.
Zatoichi's movie's follow a path, a path that Misumi defined. I wonder if most of his brilliant story telling innovations have been lost as they have comprised the bedrock of Japanese chambara films in the sixties and seventies.
This entry in the Zatoichi saga is fascinating on its own, touching and startling, moving with an economy and sparseness that recalls zen. It stands on its own as well as laying the groundwork for Misumi's later works and themes.
Worth renting for sure.

The foster dog is starting to fit in to the pack better with each moment. Now we're off to the closed down dog park to see what there might be to see on this birthday day.

May 11, 2009

We live and we work so we can die
Sam Fuller

D'Amour by Douleur
Click images for desktop size: "D'Amour" by Douleur
I'm re-reading Raymond Chandler's and Robert Parker's "Poodle Springs". That's the book that was supposedly based on notes and pages Chandler was working on when he died. I've heard itsKing Kong anywhere from 5 pages of manuscript to 100.
Anyway, somebody hired Robert Parker to finish the book up.
When I first heard of this I rushed and got it right away. Got it in hard cover. I mean this is literature. Raymond Chandler. When you Hope and Crosby
Click images for desktop size: "Hope and Crosby"
live in pop culture land as much as I do literature that you can actually enjoy, that isn't some arduous task that will some how make you into a mythic better person, you have to jump on it. Buying it in hard cover made it mean something, made it permanent and real.
I was pretty excited and really sort of sad that it more than a little bit sucked.
Robert Parker isn't anywhere near the writer Chandler was. Chandler was about the scene, the characters, and the poetry. Parker is about the plot, about the mystery and the crime.
Because of Chandler I've read a lot of mystery stuff. Don't care for most of it.
Part of the problem is that its hard to figure which is Chandler and what is Parker imitating Chandler. Like there's a scene where Marlowe helps out a gambling cheat who's also a bigamist. He helps him avoid getting arrested for murder because he saw the guy with his first wife and thought they looked sweet together. That's not totally inconsistent with Marlowe, but it's a bit too sentimental to be taken seriously. You wonder how much did Chandler intend to keep and how much was just taking a look at it.
Conquering the World
Click images for desktop size: "Conquering the World" by Unknown
At this stage of his life Chandler did all of his writing into a tape recorder then had it all transcribed. He would then ruthlessly edit the typewritten pages.
Its easy to imagine the meticulousness that he approached his editing. When he submitted his first short story he went through and typed it by himself. Because the cheap pulp magazines used justified margins Chandler went through and typed his manuscript with the same justified margins! This wasn't mousing over a button and clicking it, he counted letters and spaces and figured it all out.
So even though he typed things out there's no guarantee that he would have left it in the final story. We all know that Marlowe could get sappy, but he never acted sappy and he never saw killers as friends no matter how much he liked them before they became killers, no matter how sympathetic he might be.
In the book Marlowe is married to the multi-millionairess Linda Loring nee' Potter from "The Long3 Nuts in Search of a Bolt Goodbye". Parker has them constantly squabbling about how Marlowe has to be his own man. Chandler never squabbled. You get the impression that Parker had so many great squabble lines that he decided he needed to use them all. Instead of condensing them all down to a bare element he scatters them throughout the story so they become tedious instead of whip smart. After the first squabble you know this marriage is doomed. Chandler would have let us see that love is always present but the people are just too wrong for each other. All the bickering just makes us dislike both of the people and feel relieved when they're apart.
I even wonder about the title. "Poodle Springs" as a nom de plume for Palm Springs is a little weird. Chandler didn't like dogs so perhaps he'd have kept it to show his contempt for the desert resort. But the same way he let Faun Lake stand in for Big Bear I don't think he'd have let his roman de clef predominate the story. It was the location, the air of the scene not the feelings for the place that overwhelmed.
Back in the life where I cared about such things I wrote an adaptation of Chandler's last original unproduced screenplay. I wrote it so I could make the movie with my friends, shoot it on 8mm stock with sound than transfer it to video for a sale to VHS. It was a good plan and I managed to strip the story down to free to use locations (borrowing from all my friends, their homes and their clubs, restaurants and offices). We even shot a few scenes before the contact I had at the video distributorship told me the cost the Chandler Estate agents wanted for my adaptation. The WGA said that my script contained about 35% of Hannabai by Kurkosawa
Click images for desktop size: "Hannabai" by Kurkosawa
Chandler's so I had to play ball. Forced me to abandon that little dream.
In rewriting his screenplay and bringing it into contemporary LA, a stripped down LA, I was inadvertently following Chandler's big advice for how to learn to write. He always preached that you had to read something you liked then sit down and rewrite it in your own words. Not copy it but try to recreate the impact of the scene or the characters.
The by product of this is that I learned more about how Chandler constructed his scenes, what appealed to me and also how different Chandler's and my view of the world actually is.
In understanding it I grew to appreciate the differences as much as the similarities. I was able to see more clearly his concepts of the world and of LA. It served me well in understanding people, and having compassion for those who are different and those who I think are just wrong.
I guess "Poodle Springs" as flawed and poor as it is still serves some purpose in that it forces me to remember the the LA that Chandler created so that I can recall more vividly the LA I lived in.2001

It rained all weekend. My friend had to work all weekend. Not the best of times. Done now.
My friend meets her new boss today, on the telephone. Conference call thing. Seems odd to me but at least they didn't ask her to make the 2 hour drive to meet him.
My arms have become ridiculous. I'm bored with the agony. Tomorrow, if I get my bike running today, I get my Doctorate in self Injectology. I'm holding out the wispy hope that insulin might go some way to relieving this grief. So bad that muscles around the pain have turned into walnuts. If I was of the paranoid bent I'd decided the knots are masticized tumors.
The foster dog is amazing. He has to live in his crate with the stupid cone head collar on but he remains joyous. Sometimes a little bit more than required. I've only ever had one foster dog who arrived calm. Charles. an old cocker> He was very much about his business and even more so about his pace. Otherwise every foster has arrived full of life, a complete ignorance of most things human, and an inbred compulsion to play with everything.
I think that's right.

May 5, 2009

Do the leaves on the maple tree bloom or blossom

Untitled by Steve Argyle
Click images for desktop size: "Untitled" by Steve Argyle
Yesterday was filled with nothing else but dogs. Giant dog has decided that the foster dog is okay so long as he is playing with him and not with giant dog's toys.Mad Monster Party
Foster dog would bring toys to me to throw and drop them in my lap. I would reach for them and discover that giant dog, who was sitting next to me, had deftly removed them. He was holding them angrily between his paws. Foster dog just went and got new ones. At one stage giant dog was holding three toys between his paws. He glared at me in case I had any funny ideas.
Even my puppy got slightly less disdainful. She initiated play. Of course the play was her game and could only be played by her rules.
When giant dog would play bound at foster dog gentle dog would join in by attacking giant dog! And then foster dog had to go to the vet.
If ever a dog needed a trip to the vet . . . doesn't make it easier. He was a pain. There was an unfixed female beagle at the vet's office. He was uncontrollable. I took him outside. This is the rescue service's vet so we had no choice, but I soon saw that there was no exercise area. No grass at all except the little patch we were standing on, and that little patch was next to the highway. Cars went by too fast for me to be comfortable.
I wouldn't have left my dog there.
Foster dog is going to be fixed, shot up and the have his dew claws removed. He has the ugliest dew claws I've ever seen on a dog. I'm amazed that he hasn't hurt himself before this. They have to be removed. The healing process is long. Three weeks minimum. He'll have to be crated and carried around some.
Poor guy. He's still one of the happiest dogs I've ever seen. His life has been pretty miserable but he keeps playing and laughing. He keeps the world shaped in his image. I admire that. I hope he keeps his attitude after all this surgery.
The Last Supper by Da Vinci
Click images for desktop size: "The Last Supper" by Da Vinci
This surgery will make his life better but I always wonder if it will be worth it if he loses that gift of changing the world to his own joyous view.
Its one of the reason I go on so much about my health issues.
When the doctor's tell you some bad news, you got this or that brand of cancer for example, and then detail the available cures they always seem to do it in a rush. When you ask for details they get brusque, especially about the side effects.
Something like, "You've got lympho ballistic leukemia. No big deal its curable."
In my case it took over seven years to cure. I've been cured, or at least in remission for nearly two years. I've often felt like giving up, even recently. But I don't regret still being alive. No matter how low I've fallen or how despair filled things have often seemed. When it comes to doctor's and scuzzy insurance companies sucking up my money (This policy cover 100% of all costs of normal and average acceptable fees as decided by us you will be responsible for any additional charges as decided by your service provider.Mata Hari
Its been worth it to me. I have my puppy and I have my friend. I like the world well enough, I stubborn enough to enjoy things like music and songs and stories.
Its been worth it to me but it might not be worth it to someone else. When the doctor says, "I won't lie to you," or "I'm not going to sugar coat it," its safe to assume that he's going to enjoy being brutal, he won't discuss things so you can have a clear idea of what's in front of you, and that he's been pretty much misleading you in things up till then.
Most people will be empathetic at first but they don't know how to act. Most of us don't much like confronting mortality. I sure don't. I The Bride Of Frankenstein
Click images for desktop size: "The Bride of Frankenstein"
always planned to be immortal, spitting into microphones, running down fields while opponents tripped over their own feet trying to catch me with all the dogs who've ever lived with me cheering me on from the stands or the mosh pit.
When they find out your ill people shut it out of their front brain and work hard to drive it out of their back brain too. The light we see blinds us to all but itself.
They get dismissive or they avoid you. Or worse, they suck it up so every meeting becomes more a confrontation than a casual conversation. Your mind's not working great either. You can't ignore the moments of self pity where you won't like yourself very much either.
I was kind of lucky and people really couldn't notice. I'm pretty dour anyway. In almost any relationship there would come a point would someone would look at me a bit amazed and say, "I never realized it before, your really a pretty funny guy, like you tell a lot of jokes. I never knew you were joking!"
The only difference for me is that they stopped saying that.
I think, no, I know that people need to know what's in front of them. They don't need to know the Taoist Immortals by Fûgai Honko
Click images for desktop size: "Taoist Immortals" by Fûgai Honko
future but they have to know enough to make a decision they can live with, not live happily maybe but they have to see some joy out there at the end of it all.
Steve McQueen went through it all, even ended up in Mexico swallowing extract of peach pit (Laetrile) while two people I know killed themselves. One by driving head on into a fire truck that was enroute to a fire.
I miss them all but there's no choice but to respect their decisions even if you regret their choices.
That's all.

I've listened to the new Bob Dylan, "Together for Life" and the New Neil Young, "Fork in the Road".
I like Neil Young. Everybody has had to sit through my Neil Young story. (Maybe that should be Neil Young Story - keep it capitalized so it enters myth). Me and my buddies hid on a hill at Point DumeThe Mole People and watched them build Bob Dylan's house and got a rush when we saw Roger McQuinn, even ran down the hill to talk to him.
I still listen to their stuff, their old stuff.
Because I loved their old stuff so much I probably took it harder and more personally that I think this new tuff absolutely sucks. Too old, too used to a life of riches and wealth. Young at least seems to try and understand what's going on in the world. He even has feeling for it but its not there in the music.
Dylan has lived in the legend cocoon so long that he's forgotten what it means to be human, to be angry and sad. He writes about heartburn like it was heartbreak.
It makes me sad.
What cheered me was re-watching "Hustle and Flow" as I did the usual household chores. An old movie but still the best film ever about creating music. It works from points of extremity and hyperbole. Music does. What I keep finding touching is the fact that the people here are all dreaming and reaching for that dream and in struggling for it they regain the humanity that the world has sought to pull out of them. All the other movies that tried to tell this story forgot about the human part, they wasted my time telling me about being an inhuman legend.
Time to take the dogs for their walk.
Next week I have to meet the parents of the players of my team. I have to prepare a three minute speech about what to expect from me and what I want from them so that we can build their children into something the children can be proud of. And I have to do this while I'm laughing at the latest dog jokes. Then I have to get ready for poor foster dog to come back to his home.

May 1, 2009

Started back in sixty three with Jan & Dean, the Beach Boys and me
Roger Christian

Old Friends
Click images for desktop size: "Old Friends" by Unknown
When I was young (scary phrase that) I think I was in some sort of pain most days. Between football, baseball and surfing I was usually dinged up. (Football needs no explanation, I hope.The Informer Baseball, from always getting spiked, plowing into catchers and pulling the double play. From surfing it was mainly stepping on sea urchins, getting stung by jelly fish sort of thing.)
It never bothered me much then. It never slowed me down. Never really paid attention to it.
Maybe I was distracted or something. Now I'm growing weary of pain.
Tomorrow I have to do all the kitting of kids for the coming football season. It causes me great pain just to wash my own hair. The shoulder is killing me slowly. I'd feel near ecstatic to just have 15 minutes where I wasn't flinching and cringing from hurt.
Today I have to do a lot of exercises to loosen the shoulder. I figure the kid's will be anywhere from 4' 11" to 6' 2". I don't think it would make a good impression for me to be wincing every time I reach up to adjust a jaw pad or pump air into a helmet.
Today I have to bring up the kennel from the basement to get ready for the new foster puppy. Tat would normally be a pretty pleasurable task but now I have to worry about if I'll even be able to get it upstairs.
Yesterday wasn't a very great day. Lots of rain. Still it didn't start until after the dogs and I had our walk.
I haven't heard from the doc about my injecting myself with Lantus lessons. So I called and eft a lesson with the Pharmacist who's supposed to teach me. I got a call back a few hours later and the earliest appointment would be May 12th. I took the appointment but that didn't please me. For one thing the pain in my shoulder is neuropathic. That means it doesn't respond to acetomiaphin, ibuprofen or even aspirin. It only responds to this one pill. The pill was marketed as a mood Obsession by Michael Mobius
Click images for desktop size: "Obsession" by Michael Mobius
elevator but didn't work too well but they discovered that it was great for relieving neuropathic pain.
When I looked up the pill and saw that it was a mood elevator I panicked in a small way. I thought maybe they thought I was suicidal, depressed or something and were trying to slip something past me. They doubly assured me that wasn't the case but I didn't really believe them until I managed to read the whole history of the drug.
It did a fair, not great job of reducing the pain but it also made me groggy and made my skin feel numb and tingly, so I stopped taking it. I went looking for it yesterday. I couldn't find it. Its probably expired anyway.
While I was looking for the pills I got another call from the doctor's office. They wanted to make sure I knew that teaching me how to inject myself would cost at least one hundred bucks . . . I have to wonder how hard they think will be. I Dismember Mama
I called the pharmacy I use, the cheapest one and found out that they won't fill the script for Lantus until I've been taught to inject myself. I almost asked if I had to bring a certificate. Like maybe I got a diploma; Doctor of Gluteus Maximus Stickiumus. They probably just take my word for it.
Right away I got a call from my friend asking me to make an emergency appointment with the doctor. She banged her knee a few days ago. It was causing her a lot of hurt. It bruised and was making Music Lesson by Leighton
Click images for desktop size: "Music Lesson" by Leighton
her whole body cold and clammy. I'm not a doc but I ascribe cold and clammy to broken bones. That morning I gave her a sports wrap like I'd give a kid with a sore knee. It apparently didn't help.
She got to the doctor. His word was that it wasn't sprained or broken just a deep bruise. She could expect pain for two more weeks . . .
That was a bit of a relief, I guess, but not the best news. Especially with the weekend we've got coming up. Selfishly, I now realize, it never occurred to me that maybe we should cancel some of the plans for her. I guess I'll have to rely on my friend sticking up for herself and ignoring any pressure I might unintentionally be putting on her.
I want to do the dog walk Sunday but its pretty unfair to ask someone with a bum knee to walk under cloudy skies.
The worst part of pain, for me, is that it distracts me too much. When you've got as little brain power as I do even small distractions create obstacles.

I did watch a couple of movies last night. I like horror movies. I watch a lot of bad ones in the faint View of the Kiyomizudera
Click images for desktop size: "View of the Kiyomizudera" by Unknown
hope of finding that golden moments: Karloff as Frankenstein trying to catch a sunbeam; Leatherface dancing in the dawn, dancing to the beat of his revving chainsaw while Marilyn Burns, sticky with red Karo syrup in the back of a pick up truck, provides a lilting melody of the hysterical laughter of freedom; the mad family feud in "The Hills Have Eyes", a feud crystalized in the heart of the dog "Beast" who sees it as a blood feud of revenge as he avoids thinking of his female companion dog eviscerated by the mutants.
I like horror movies a lot. Some incredibly talented guys get started in horror movies. So do some jerks. Horror always sells. Guys like me will sit in dank movie theaters, rent the DVDs hoping for the one moment of splatter that manages to encapsulate all our fears and shows them to the light. Tobe Hooper, who disappointed me like no other, made the incredibly brilliant "Texas Chainsaw House of 1,000 Corpses Massacre" a film the critics all hated, at the time. So you can't trust anyone but your own eyes and ears when it comes to horror. Nothing else is reliable.
That said I watched "Laid to Rest". I was surprised that Bobbi Sue Luther, produced her first starring role. She's someone you'd describe as "big tits. little talent".
As a producer she did some great things. The gore and splatter were very good. The actors, except her and the killer, all worked really hard to make their cardboard characters seem to be made of flesh was well as obvious blood. Kevin Gage made a nothing character into someone likable. This got exploited pretty badly in a cruddy added on death scene at the end.
Cool special effects haven't moved me since I saw Tom Savini's glorious throat slitting scene that opened the carnage in "Friday the 13th". This stuff is cool but also really "so what".
The ending of the movie was stupid. It did one raise one interesting question. The star was whacked in the head which gave her amnesia. She discovers that she is/was a cheap prostitute so now she'd Kim Novak
Click images for desktop size: "Kim Novak"
almost wishes she were dead. Her rage grows from her self loathing. I thought that strange.
I then watched Enki Bilal's "Immortal (Ad Vitam)". I like a lot of Bilal's artwork. The movie's gotten a lot of buzz because of its mixing of cgi and live characters. I guess the tech was interesting. The movie was not. The monsters were semi cool but the story was stupid and seemed to have no point, dramatic purpose or consistency. I can accept that ancient Egyptian gods are real, I'm willing to meet a story teller that far. I can even accept that the ancient gods sole reason for existing past creating the universe is to breed with a special type of person to create new gods.
I think if I'm willing to work that hard that the story teller has to do more than just string together some scenes of unrelated people and events. I'd have liked it if any of the characters was slightly interesting.
The story starts with Horous, the God, trying to inhabit a human body. Because of the new fad of eugenics and transposing human body parts Horous discovers that every human he enters blows up! This brings in the cops who are searching for this new serial killer. Then they sort of forget about allJail Bait of that.
There's a weird love story about the guy Horous finds who never had a transplant and the chick who is the miracle who can breed a new god.
Bilal (which is the same name as the crazy mutant twin in the much better "Basket Case") throws out a whole lot of, I guess, very personal ideas about sex, love and loss. Not one of them did he explain, justify or explain. It was just a pretty boring mess that I felt was more an endurance contest than a movie.

At least the dog walk is this Sunday. I just got an email from my friend. She's as excited about it as I am, bum knee and all!

April 28, 2009

What you are is what you have been, what you will be is what you do now
Buddha

Grand Central Station by Ian Foster
Click images for desktop size: "Grand Central Station" by Ian Foster
Yesterday was bright and sunny. It reached 80.
Today it is 57 and pouring ice cold rain.
Gammera the Invincible
I took the dogs out for a shortish walk. Every person who was walking a dog got an advert from me telling them about the wonderful dog walk on Sunday. I started the pitch with the off the wall info that this place is so beautiful that they charge a hundred grand to have a wedding there!
I wonder if anyone of them will show. Their dogs would love it.
I walked the 5 miles to the doctor's office in 43 minutes. It would not have been as fast if I had the dogs with me but it would have been more memorable.The Jolie Family
Click images for desktop size: "The Jolie Family"

It was hot and I was sweaty. From the reaction and movement of the other waiting patients they must have figured I had swine flu. Anyway it got me into an examination room in record time.
While I waited for the doc I had time to read an entire book! It was "Diabetes for Dummies". Interesting franchise. They seem determined to provide instruction for everything.
The doc came in in a rush. He was nervous about something. The man has no chin. Where his chin would have been was quivering. He asked a couple of unimportant although mildly pertinent questions, clearly to calm himself down. He was so nervous I tried to be relaxing.
He sucked it up and then just plunged into it. He pulled up my blood tests. He explained them so fast I couldn't follow anything he said. When I asked for clarification he didn't get much calmer.
The hardest part for him was that my diabetes was out of control. The pills (metformin) that sensitizes my body to insulin was still working fine but the pill that forces my pancreas to produce more insulin was not. My pancreas was producing almost no insulin. Time for me to go on the needle.
He flinched when he said it. As if he was afraid I was going to slug him. I still had the dark glasses In Like Flint by JW MCGinnis
Click images for desktop size: "In Like Flint" by JW McGinnis
on and I was certain that I had my normal blank poker face on so he must have been reacting to something deep inside himself. "I'm afraid you're going to have to start doing injections. It's only one a night. The needles are so thin they don't really hurt. Honest." He said it all in a rush then rared back in his chair pulling as far away from me as he could.
While pulled back he continued, "And there's albumen in your urine. The chemo damage to your kidneys is degenerating. You'll have to take some pills for that. Apropo, no, Avisio for them. To protect them more than anything."
I pulled my chair closer so I could see his computer screen more clearly.
"Boy, my bad cholesterol is super low, isn't it. Sixty really good isn't it?"
"Yes, but your good cholesterol is far too low. The proportion is bad. You seem awfully calm about all this?"The Girls on the Beach
"I kind of knew this was coming. One day. Not happy about it but . . . It will it be Lantus? Is that the insulin injection?"
"Yes. Lantus. I'm putting you on 100 units a day. Increasing it by 10 units a day until the blood sugars get under control. The Lantus could cause further damage to your kidneys."
"I got my dialysis in my future?"
He fumbled before he said, "Most people don't need dialysis even after years of Lantus. You can't promise anything though."
All I could do was nod. He took my blood pressure while he went on to explain all the new procedures and things I'd have to fit into my new daily routine. And all the arcane cabalic rituals I'd have to undertake before I could fill my new prescriptions. One of them is I have to meet with the staff pharmacist. Not to fill the scripts but to have the rules explained to me and to show me how to inject myself. A pharmacist?
My blood pressure was 120 over 60. I was expecting it to be through the roof but it was the best its been in six weeks. I have not the slightest idea what that signifies. The doc ignored my question about it.
So after I start taking the injections I have to check my blood sugars 3 to 5 times a day. That means bleeding 3 to 5 times a day. Two weeks after I start I have to do another blood panel. Two weeks after that I have to go back in and see the doc.
The money for all this worries me the most.
I don't know how I feel about all this. Not happy. Not too upset. Just the grim inevitability of it all. Not even paranoid.
2009 USC Football
Click images for desktop size: "2009 USC Football"
More pills, plus injections plus more blood work is a pretty worst case scenario but at least I ain't dead. I figure bad news here means I'm owed some good luck over there.
I walked home. A lot slower. I passed some youngish girls walking dogs. I figured that a sweaty man wearing shades and ear buds might not come across right so I didn't tell them about the dog walk on Sunday. I wanted to.
On the way home I stopped at the bakery to get some of the cheaper but superior bread and some Halvarti with Jalapeno cheese. The bakery was uncomfortably warm. There was an irate guy there holding a screaming baby. He was shouting at the little old ladies who work there. It seems he ordered some rolls that he was supposed to pick up on Sunday. He didn't. They sold them to someone else. He had it in his head that once he ordered them they belonged to him and they should have held on to them. He hadn't called and told them this. He hadn't paid them anything.
He kept getting louder. The baby kept getting louder and the little old ladies looked warm, Gorgo uncomfortable and frightened.
I was pretty calm and suggested he go outside for a minute and let the baby cool down. He spun on me. I had about five inches on him and I wasn't holding a baby. He took my well meaning advice.
The little old lady thanked me. I said, "For what?"
She said, "I wish Mr Giant Dog had been here! Hem must be so comforting to you."
I explained that the dogs were at home. I never thought of Giant Dog as being comforting, at least not in the way she meant.
At home my friend and I watched another Doris Day movie, "It Happened to Jane". It wasn't very good. The situation was too real to be silly. Jack Lemmon had a good monologue and Kippy's dad Ernie Kovacs, was pretty much wasted. First totally duff Doris Day movie we've watched together. Next up will be "A Touch of Mink" with Day and Cary Grant. Rah!
My friend was beat after her day but she still offered up a lot of sympathy and support. I don't think she appreciated that I'd rather think about the dog walk and kitting up the kids on Saturday.
No problem is so big it can't be ignored.

April 27, 2009

Someone got excited; they had to call the state militia
John Fogerty

Carp
Click images for desktop size: "Carp" by Unknown
It was a pretty unexciting Sunday. But pleasant. I'd forgotten that time can sometimes just be a pleasant thing to just see pass.The Exorcist There aren't ever enough of these moments. I often forget to treasure them. Times where life is just content. It will be short lived and can't be sensibly ignored or taken for granted.
After the bad storms the clouds passed and the sun came out. We drove to the Indian Reservation, did some more light grocery shopping and went to Taco Bell. My friend loves their hard shell vegetarian tacos. I got a bean burrito and a "Beefy Cheesy Melt". Since everything else was vegetarian someone took it upon themselves to make my Melt Beefy-less. It was fine, They made up for the lack of meat by using extra rice. Rice was what I was craving anyway.
When we got back home it was nice enough to sit outside with the dogs. The dogs love me but my friend is "The Mom". Her being outside set them into joyous doggie paroxysms. Like me dogs seldom express joy by sitting still in quiet contentment.
My puppy played with her Kong and pressed it against my friends leg. My friend didn't understand that this meant you were supposed to try and steal it from my puppy. The giant dog bought out one of his squeaky toys and just drove us nuts with that. The gentle dog was the happiest and most active of the bunch. His way of expressing his joy is to bite me. Not painfully, he likes to grab hold of my wrist and just hang on. For whatever canine reason this puts him into a state approaching nirvana.
Clearly no side effects to Saturday's vet visit.
That evening we watched the Doris Day, Clark Gable movie "Teacher's Pet". I discovered that my Midnight Worries
Click images for desktop size: "Midnight Worries" by Unknown
friend is a budding Doris Day fan. She even knows facts about her! I'd never seen more than bits and pieces of the movie before and was surprised at just how good it was. Plenty of surprises and plenty of laughs with just a tinge of bathos, just enough to make you think you were seeing something more worthwhile than an entertainment.
Good movie.
We watched an episode of "Kung Fu". We'd fallen off the ritual. I hold that it was because the last few had been so dire. This one was good. For one thing it had the genius that is Keye Luke in it for even the briefest spell. Even a small amount of Keye Luke is enough to make anything taste better. The episode was "The Arrogant Dragon". Carradine was very effective even though his fighting skill still stinks, his acting ability was clicking at a high level. High enough to hide some bad plot holes and some uncomfortable sexual tension. And my old buddy Jimmy Hong got to play a rat!
What I liked most was the careful acknowledgment of Chinese history. It was surprising and welcome even if scant. Basically they acknowledged the birth of the Tongs as being a result of theThe Hunted Manchu's burning of the Shaolin Temple.
Today I've got my doctor's appointment. I called this morning and they've got my blood test results. I'm out of excuses. I have to get my home test results diary into a readable-by-others shape. This morning my blood pressure was 140 over 90. About ten points higher than is considered safe and about 20 points higher than sis safe for first thing in the morning.
I'm hoping that this can be addressed just through diet. I don't want Stevie Wonder
Click images for desktop size: "Stevie Wonder"
to take any more pills. I want no more pills worse than I want to be able to stop restricting my diet any further. My fat intake is already restricted to 45 grams per day, no sugar, no pork etc. I guess coffee and salt are next on the list.
My blood sugars have been running on the high side of acceptable. Within the parameters. There's a chance I might have to deal with that. I get amazed that my diet has to be so restrictive. I know an older diabetic here, on insulin injections, and I had breakfast with him. He had bacon and eggs! BACON! Sometimes its hard to remember that my diet is restricted as much by the chemo's and their after effects as they are by the diabetes. As much as I don't want more pills I want injections even less. So it goes, Diet, More Pills, Injections in my order of preferences. And I really want none of them.
Next Saturday I have to spend 8 hours kitting out kids. I roped my friend in for 4 hours of registering the kids. Paperwork . . . I'm still pleased she'll be there for part of the day.
Hot Air Balloons
Click images for desktop size: "Hot Air Balloons" by Unknown
Then on Sunday will be the spring dog walk!!
There is little on the appointment calendar that is as much fun as the dog walk, for me and the dogs. This will be the packs third one!

Even though the door is open to the pretty day my puppy has chosen to spend this time inside wrapped around my feet.
I love my puppy. Its nice that its reciprocated. Nicer to know she's not mad about the diet. I've cut all her food in half. She seems no hungrier than usual and she's always hungry.

Congrats to the Men of Troy. Eleven players taken in the NFL draft and 3 of them in the first round! Then Tony Dungy saying that a kid would be crazy not to attend USC becasue SOuthern California is the school that gives you the best chance to succeed!! YOW!

April 21, 2009

Come on baby and take a chance; lets dance
Chriz Montez

Crimson Dawn by Spargett
Click images for desktop size: "Crimson Dawn" by Spargett
With constant disk repair and running a full series of diagnostic and repair tools I'm keeping the iMac running. Running acceptably.Attack of the Crab Monsters
That's good because I'm going to need this thing to get ready for the season. I want to start prepping a playbook and do those other "coacherly" things. I used to be impressed when I'd go to pre-season coaches meetings and I'd see a coach there with a 4 inch binder over filled with his playbook. I always figure that this was one heck of of coach, a lot better than I could ever be. Then our teams would meet in the season and we'd beat them 80-0.
I never figured it out. I have a good friend who coaches O-Line at a Bob Dylan
Click images for desktop size: "Bob Dylan"
high school. He has a 400 page playbook! But its not really a playbook. It has some O-Line plays in it but the book is mainly a preparation, a how to book on the theory of playing the Line, dietary and strength needs. The whole shebang.
Each season he says he has to throw out about 100 pages and maybe add in 50 or sixty. Now he's a coach who's a lot better than I'll ever be.
See, I don't know how to prepare a playbook until I see what kind of kids I have. This Saturday a couple of coaches were waxing rhapsodic about how much they love the pulling guard. The pulling guard is where, for example, you would get your right guard to run down to the left side of the line and turn forward and block so you have an extra surprise blocker for your running back. I agree that it is a pretty play. In all my years of coaching I've only had one guard who had the speed to reach his assignment.
The coaches talked some more about the difficulty in getting their tackles alert enough to know to pick up any backside pursuit. A defensive end could read the pull and follow it. Their solution to having slow guards was to give the Running Back some extra steps in the backfield so that he couldn't get to the proposed hole until the guard got there.
I won't ever coach against these guys which is good. I hope that this attitude is prevalent throughout Angel Fish
Click images for desktop size: "Angel Fish" by Unknown
the league. When I see a slow guard pull the call is simple. You have the Defensive end hold his position which nullifies the tackle looking for back side pursuit, the middle line backer shadows the pulling guard and the Strong Safety pursues the pulling guard on a run blitz.
In college and high school ball that should either stop the play for no gain or limit it to 3 yards. At this level it should result in a three yard loss and 40% of the time a turn over.
If I get lucky and get a running back with that much speed I'll use cross blocking to open up seams and pound him up the A and B gaps for 4 yards a clip all day.
If I've got a guard who can turn and cover 4 yards in the time it takes my running back 7 yards I'll run a couple pulling plays to set up the decoy and go opposite and use the full back to pick off the Defensive End while the TE knocks off the Sam Backer.
And if I don't have players who can remember all that we just do straight ahead blocking and run aBeast From Haunted Cave spread like running game.
Thing is I like a wide open game. I like 50 yard passes on the corner route. But if I've got a QB who can only throw the ball twenty yards I sort of have to adapt and do something different.
I never saw the job of coaching as being something to please myself. I think of it as a chance to give kids their best opportunity at success. I can't figure out what method that might be until I've seen what the kids can do and what they like to do.
Sure I try to get my QB to throw 50 yard lasers. I try to get my RB's to run 4.2 forties. But if they can't my job is to figure out what we can do with the talent they have.
The only thing I can use to justify my unconventional approach is to say that in the last 10 years of coaching my teams have led their league in scoring 9 times and in total yardage 8 times. I've always been incredibly lucky in the talent that's been entrusted to me to teach so maybe if I went in with a system already planned out and fit the kids to the system the kids would have been even Brunette by Archie Dickens
Click images for desktop size: "Brunette" by Archie Dickens
more successful. I don't really know.
I've got my list of stuff I need for the first practice: 2 stop watches 3 whistles, a ladder, some cones and some step over blocks. And some bodies to fit in the whistles and stop watches. A Defensive Coordinator would be nice too.

My friend got home at 7:15 last night. That puts it at a 32 hour day. She survived it pretty well.
The month stays pretty rough with a new boss, budgets etc. She gets a couple weeks off in May. We're going to pain the porch. Probably being ably assisted by nosey dogs.
We actually watched a Zatoichi movie! I'm mildly surprised she's become a Shintaro Katsu fan. This was the eleventh Zatocihi film and there's no denying that Katsu has definitely worked incredibly hard on developing the character. He's made a sad, funny and never pathetic creature. His sword fighting in this one is very good. Its easy to believe that the carnage is being perpetuated by a blindApocalypse Now man. I think bathos is more enjoyable than pathos and bathos always works best when its resolved with gallons of stage blood.

I've checked my puppy's email. I was amazed that she had nearly one thousand. All from kids in hospitals. They don't get to see much spring in the hospital.
I made up a maze game for her site. I thought it would be a quick and easy thing to do. It took me six weeks and five drafts. The final thing had 28 layers! Normally I'm amazed to get 4 or 5 layers in a picture. I'm glad the kids like it. Much gladder than I am sad that they are where they are.
The main crux of their emails is that we need to have more adventures!
I also notice that a lot of the kids thank my puppy but almost none even acknowledge I exist! The few that do think I should give my puppy more ice cream . . .

My health feels better. The old complaints are not improving. They'll bug me but not inhibit me, I think. No doubt they'll improve just enough so I can be uncomfortable but still able to do all the porch painting . . .

April 16, 2009

Argument is meant to reveal the truth, not to create it
Edward de Bono

Night And Day by Michael Parkes
Click images for desktop size: "Night and Day" by Michael Parkes
On Tuesday for some reason I decided to wash my phone. In the washing machine with my jeans. I don't understand why I next decided to dry it in the dryer, with my jeans.
When Women Had Tails I heard something clunking around in the dryer but put it off to heavy jean zippers. It wasn't until I emptied the dryer that I started to find all the parts of the phone. Four of them to be exactly.
As my phone is the cheapest Samsung model made, free, sort of, with a pay as you go plan, I didn't have much hope but I Robert Mitchum
Click images for desktop size: "Robert Mitchum"
reassembled it anyway and I was surprised that it worked just as well as it did before.
There's some peculiar stippling on the screen but everything is still legible. I figure the stippling adds character and will be prove positive, should it ever be stolen or lost, that its my phone.
Comforting. I now have a bit of respect for Samsung.
This goes along with me not getting my blood work done today. The doc told me it was necessary to fast for twelve hours before the test.
I have to take four pills a day with food. Every morning I convince my body that coffee is food and I take two of the pills with coffee. Works fine. The doc insists that coffee is NOT food.
Last night I started the fast. Not that big a deal. This morning I went to the lab and was told I had not been fasting as I had a cup of coffee.
August Night Fire by Moving Insect
Click images for desktop size: "August Night Fire" by Moving Insect
This does not upset me as much as it pleases me. I now have proof that coffee is food and my pill regime is totally justified and with expert testimony!

I've been asked why I spend some much time worrying about chambara flic's like those of Kenji Misumi.
I think Misumi is a world class filmmaker. As much an artist as anyone can be who makes movies. I think that in understanding his movies we come closer to understanding parts of ourself and parts of others that were previously dark and maybe hidden. A part of humanity that no other filmmaker is dealing with or at least not dealing with so clearly and concisely and intentionally.
I think that we all relate to movies and art based on a lot of different factors. One of the most important ones, right after being entertained, is identification. Identifying with a situation, a fantasy or hope but most often with a character.The Woman Who Needed Killing
If you look at the top grossing movies, something like the "Titanic" the first movie to do a billion bucks in business, shows the identification factor pretty well. Men related to DiCaprio, king of the world, dying frozen, sacrificing himself for love, a selfish sacrifice that will forever lock his pale features into her brain and extol their love to mythic proportions at least to her. Women related to the lady being old and rich having that golden memory to cling to, a memory crystalized in a trinket.
I hated the "Titanic".
I feel the same way about Misumi's films. His lead character's provide me with something I can relate to; a character with no hope who refuses to die. What this says about my mental state compared to a guy who wants to die gloriously frozen in the dark Atlantic doesn't seem worth speculating about.
The fact that most of Misumi's resolutions seem to be that the lead simply kills everybody is the fantasy element and the entertainment part of the equation.
What is fascinating is how each character arrives at his moment of despair, the time when he discovers his dreams are gone, and with the dreams gone so is his life. And the fact that the lead has to think through and discover a solution to not dying is instructional.
A character like "The Mute Samurai" who merely goes mad and decides he has to make enough Old Mill by Maxfield Parrish
Click images for desktop size: "Old Mill" by Maxfield Parrish
money to go to Spain and kill holds almost no interest to him. The blind Zatoichi who fights to keep his humour and his vision of a world at peace and in proper order are his main interest.
His Ito Ogami who seeks reprieve by adhering closely to the tenets of bushido, rightness and politeness interest him, that the man stays sane in the face of lies and duplicity and condemnation is his meat. Staying this righteous, sane and pure enables Misumi's heroes to have the strength, mindset and ability to destroy small armies single handedly.
Misumi understands he needs to show us this blood letting power in a way that lures us into the tale and does not turn us away in horror, hence he constructs his bloody flowers of overwhelming peace extolling a loveliness of death and carnage.
So after seeing a minor Misumi film, such as his modern "Sword" where a kendo student seeks absolution in the glory of steel as opposed to wood, I leave the viewing with a different sense of the world around me and the people who inhabit it. I always thought, I was taught, that this is the main function and aspiration of all "art".Zombies of the Stratosphere

Yesterday was Tax Day. I'm chagrined about all these Tea Bag protests. Seems silly even as Roger Ailes tried to hype them as significant. Ailes is all about the dollar. His plan to try and get a grass roots thing going smacks of the loser tactic that has been in place since Caesar.
I forget that as stupid and transparent as these sorts of scams are every millennia or so they actually work. So I can't really be surprised that a rich white guy would try this silly stunt.
I wish people were protesting real things though. I'm sickened that Obama is fulfilling some of my worst nightmares. He's loading the DOJ with RIAA attorneys, the worst scum bag lawyers in existence are getting power.
Time Warner, the scuzziest of the mass media companies wants to restrict people's access to knowledge and information. With their plan you'd pay fifty bucks for enough internet access to make 10 minutes of VOIP calls, pay half your bills on-line and visit no other web pages while being allowed to receive about 3 unsecured emails a day. That is not fair or competitive. All of this based on an infrastructure that was built by us, the tax payers. An infra structure they have not updated or done decent upkeep on even though showing massive profits.
They justify this by claiming they have a responsibility to their share holders, conjuring up images of your granny not having to eat cat food because she got that sweet TWC dividend check. But the reality is that the guys demanding this outrageous increase in price are the major shareholders. So they're raking in massive unfair profits for themselves.
The latest figures show that CEO's still receive a wage 300 times larger than the workers.
Where the hell is Obama here? Why is he not threatening to force TWC and AT&T to repay the money they were given in the form of right of way and land use, municipality funded cable and monopolistic contracts by reducing the tariff? Resulting in free internet for a generation?
No protesters?

April 15, 2009

Its easy to see how we became snakes
Ribeye Brothers

Mourning He Warrior Dead by Charles Marion Russell
Click images for desktop size: "Mourning Her Warrior Dead" by Charles Marion Russell
Its seems I was mistaken about the dog shelters here. Blind man and the elephant thing.
The two shelters I've been to were non-kill shelters ergo I decided they're all non-kill. They're not.Two Faced Woman
The dogs we're fostering come from the kill shelter.
I begrudgingly concede that there might be a place in the world for kill shelters. Some dogs have been so cruelly tormented, usually by humans, that the end of life is the only way to end the poor creature's anguish.
I thoroughly believe that every animal and every person can become an important and necessary part of this world if they're Winning Hand
Click images for desktop size: "Winning Hand" by Unknown
only given a chance.
I have to concede that not everyone is capable of giving people and animals that second chance. Some of us have to work so hard to protect ourselves that its near impossible to drop the armour long enough to let an alien thing into our hearts. Understanding takes a toll too, even though I know the rewards are great so is the risk.
One of my fosters, Jack, was at death's door. He'd been fostered and even they couldn't cope with him. So he ended up with me. I never knew what the problem was. It was a lot of little things. Nothing that meant anything. He was fine. The only thing we couldn't cope with that he was worse than my puppy. When we went on walks the two of them were of the school of getting there fastest and getting back home even faster, and if they had to drag me along to do it so be it. He got better but that's just the way he is. He calmed down a lot, got curious about stuff and learned it was okay to love people.
That this is a kill shelter makes the decision about what pups to foster a lot easier. My urge is to Market Scene by Candle Light by Schendel van Petrus
Click images for desktop size: "Market Scene by Candle Ligh" by Schendel van Petrus
say, "Just give us all of them scheduled to die tomorrow," which isn't fair to them or to the dogs living with me now.
It looks like the pup we'll take will be a 9 month old chow/shepherd mix. YOW! Big girl. She was a surrender. The people who gave her up got her for free via one of those CraigsList permutations that runs locally. So they put about fifty cents worth of gas into her and gave her nearly a week to fit in.
She's head shy, afraid of children, afraid of other dogs. If you'd had three homes and a shelter in your life you'd feel pretty shy and scared too. She's being judged for temperament now. The only thing that worries me about a new dog is that it not be cruel to the dogs that live with me now. No vicious attacks. Yelling at them, nipping at them I understand and deal with but snarling ripping attacks are out.
I have a commitment to my family. The dogs who are my family members will help a foster and beVice Squad fine. They deserve most of my consideration at first. They deserve to feel safe in their home. If it seems hypocritical to place one animal's safety in front of another's I can live with being a hypocrite. The dogs and I have struggled to learn to live together and to be happy together. They are family and they deserve my protection as we welcome another family member into our lives.
We'll see how it plays out. I'm excited.

Yesterday was a pretty wasted mess. Too tired. Too cold.
I got the minimum done which is good enough most days.
I watched another episode of "The Mute Samurai". Mainly to see Misumi's direction. Misumi's episode was different in tone and effect than the rest of the series. Clearly personal. It was called, "The Girl with Blue Eyes" and was about a blonde gajin girl who washed ashore in the arms of her dead mother. The little girl is adopted by a kindly grandfather type. The rest of the village was prepared to let the infant to simply die. Even Anime
Click images for desktop size: "Anime" by Unknown
now with the girl only five years old they spit on her, revile her for being a foreigner.
The little girl is lonely. She spends her days wetting her hair and praying to the goddess of the stream that her fiery red hair will miraculously turn black.
A wanted outlaw comes into the area. He breaks into the grandpa's house and forces them to give him food. He does not harm them. He talks to the little girl, roughly and harshly but without prejudice. Then he leaves.
The next day the little girl is playing at the beach. There's commotion at the village bulletin board. They are all looking at the wanted poster for "Sabu", the outlaw who broke into her house. She goes to hear what they're saying and the adult women push her aside, calling her dirty and disgraceful.
The little girl goes home and begins making rice cakes and tea. She packs them into bamboo containers and heads off. She goes to the mountains and walks along a desolate path shouting the outlaw's name.
Sabu comes out and grabs her. She tells him she figured he must be hungry and offers him the riceTom Horn cakes and tea. He eats them greedily.
They're by a stream. As the little girl tells him what is happening in town she goes about her odd ritual of wetting her hair from the stream. She tells Sabu of her prayers to have black hair.
Sabu tells her he will turn her hair black if she brings him food everyday. She eagerly agrees and they continue talking.
Sabu uses her to deliver messages and to bring him food. She takes him to a deep cave, a better place to hide that only she knows about.
Finally Kiichi Hogan comes into the story. Kiichi is here for the reward. This time we see the subtle differences between Misumi's Ito Ogami, Lone Wolf, and Hogan. Ogami walks the path of hell but he is a complete, ruthless but sane, man. Kiichi Hogan is obsessive, loaded with rage and hate that his silence forces him to hold all inside of him. He's insane but has the saving grace of being a good man at his core.
In Misumi's episodes Hogan is not even allowed the ecstasy of voice over. He is just a massive unhinged killer who's innate goodness prohibits him from taking the easy way out.
Surprisingly this episode has almost no sword play, very little action at all. Hogan finds Sabu but at the little girl's entreaties he does not fight him and capture him. He leaves.
Other bounty hunters don't have his morals. They figure out the little girl is Sabu's contact. They grab her, hold her and without her help find Sabu's hiding place.
They're afraid to go into the deep cave and ferret him out so they tie the little girl to a tree and start to beat her with sticks, yelling into the cave that they'll stop beating the girl if Sabu comes out Unknown
Click images for desktop size: "Untitled" by Unknown
to be killed.
Sabu does. The little girl yells, "I never told them anything!"
Sabu replies, "I know that."
The bounty hunters and gang surround Sabu. They forget the beaten little girl. With no announcement Hogan comes up behind her. He cuts her ropes, freeing her. She looks at him and then runs to Sabu.
With little flash Hogan kills the bad guys. That's it for action.
The episode ends with Sabu about to go to prison. He turns to the little girl and promises to take care of her when he is released. He also apologizes to her for lying that he could turn her golden hair black. The cop then tells the little girl she should be proud of her differences. She made a black soul like Sabu's white due to her differences. She is a gift from the gods.

April 13, 2009

People are like stained-glass windows; they sparkle and shine when the sun is out, but when the darkness sets in their true beauty is revealed only if there is a light from within
Elisabeth Kubler-Ross

Interleaved by LawnElf
Click images for desktop size: "Interleaved" by Lawn Elf
My mother always had a lot of friends. They were usually young women.
I didn't understand it at the time but often one of these women would end up staying with us. TheyThe Night Walker were unwed expectant mothers. They had no place to go. Even though we lived in near poverty my mother always opened our home to them.
At first I didn't understand what pregnant even meant. I just knew it was some lady that worked at the concession stand at the drive-in with my mother. They stayed with us, got fat and then they weren't around anymore.
Day Dreams by Paul Fischer
Click image: "Day Dream" by Paul Fischer
It always felt a little bit empty when they'd leave.
My mother continued doing this even after she got married. My stepfather didn't mind having another attractive woman in the house. From my step-father I heard a lot f disparaging phrases: Round heels, shacked up and stupid, knocked up and broke, and one I still don't really get, tripped the guy and beat him to the ground.
I liked the young women. They'd stare at me sometimes in a funny way I couldn't grasp but I liked them well enough. One in particular fascinated me. She was a morose girl, from the east coast she was as close to a beatnik as I'd ever seen. She said "cool" a lot and wore black turtle necks and a beret. That's as close to a beatnik as you could get in Southern California. The climate is not conducive to introspection. She might have been my first love.
She would borrow my red card board record player and play this one album, Gregory Corso's "Happy Birthday to Death".
To me this was a weird record. It wasn't songs. It was this guy, Corso, reading his poetry while this bongo player just wailed away. I liked the bongo's at least. I'd sit with her while she played this. Partially to protect my precious record player and partly because she'd talk to me. I had little idea of what she was talking to me about but she spoke so seriously and intently it made me feel like I was being treated as an adult.
Pin Up Art by JW McGinnis
Click images for desktop size: "Book Cover" by JW McGinnis
After one of her soliloquies I felt like I should fill the silence so I'd ask a stupid question that seemed important to me. Like, on the record, it bugged me that after each cut the people didn't clap and applaud but they'd snap their fingers and shuffle their feet. It seemed weird then and now.
Now I realize it gives me the impression of some guy who got rich for the day at the race track and was at some lurid live sex show and this sweaty guy keeps shouting out, "Oh yeah baby!" while the rest of the raincoat crowd pretends to ignore him.
Anyway after I'd ask my stupid question the beatnik girl (who's name I can't remember) would tussle my hair gently, look at me sadly and give me a hug, sometimes even a kiss on the cheek.
I'd just started drum lessons then. I didn't have a set. I just had the rubber practice pad and anything else that fell under my drumsticks.The Return of Count Yorga
I liked the bongos. Liked them a lot. And then actually found a set at a yard sale. Cost a quarter. I think they were used more for decoration than for playing. Something to throw on the lanai for the tiki torch parties that were popular in the neighborhood.
I'd also only heard bongos on the record. I didn't know they were played by hand. It only took a couple of days for me to put the drumsticks through the skins. A whole quarter wasted. The price of a comic book down the tubes.
The beatnik girl who seldom noticed me except she was going through some sort of maternal angst, tried to show me how to use them, playing along with her Corso record. I wasn't interested in her bad music lessons so I listened to the words, Corso's words:
I stand in the dark light in the dark street and look up at my window,
I was born there.
The lights are on; other people are moving about.
I am with raincoat; cigarette in mouth,
hat over eye, hand on gat.
I cross the street and enter the building.
The garbage cans haven't stopped smelling.

Frank Sinatra
Click images for desktop size: "Frank Sinatra" by Unknown
I liked that.
I guess beatnik girl felt some maternal streak and decided to tell me about Corso, stuff she'd read on the record sleeve. Corso got sent to prison 3 times. For stealing a toaster, a suit and breaking into his school to have a warm place to sleep. All before he was 17. He was imprisoned as an adult with Mafia hoods and murders.
Prison scared me. I didn't think of poets as tough guys who could survive prison. I thought prisons were where you went to die.
I found out it was easier to read poetry than to listen to it. Even with bongos it's easier to read.
Corso's stuff was funny and mean. There was a picture on the back of one f beatnik girls books. He looked like a handsome prize fighter.
Poetry had its own music to it. It wasn't song lyrics. The best song lyrics, to me, are slogans, something to counterpoint the beat.
Poetry carried its own beat. For Corso it was tough and percussive. Words barking out at the night before heading into the long howl of the end of us all.The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2
I can't remember beatnik girl's name, or her face. But I remember Corso.

I'm getting used to my new mouth. Brushing my teeth is still a hassle. Eating is a chore but not an impossible one.
Blood pressure is still all over the place but always slightly too high.
The pain in my right shoulder is aggravating. I remember that when I had similar in the left it took me three months or more of daily exercise to finally sort it out. Since my left elbow and thumbs are still gimpy I feel a bit lost most of the time. Making coffee is more of a chore. It feels like one of the labours of Hercules getting the kettle plugged in. Reaching for stuff, even light stuff takes grit.
The best thing about this weekend was that my friend has got four days off. Today's the last of them. I like her being around. I think she likes being around. I like to think that part of her pleasure at being home is that I'm here. Crabby people like to think that they are somehow an asset.
We watched the "hot" new Japanese film, "Ichi". That's the rethinking of Zatoichi. It replaces the cool blind masseur with a femme yetar player.
It was terrible. They cast some forgettable J-pop star as Ichi, I figure to try and catch the same lightening that fired the similar in intent "Azumi".
"Ichi" sucked. It was boring, meandering and a waste of the totally cool actors they did have in it.
Rapunzel by Olivia
Click images for desktop size: "Rapunzel" by Olivia
No humanity. No soul. Bad fighting.

The iMac is giving me big fits. This morning it was all locked up. The UIServer crashed so couldn't do anything but reboot. Oddly it killed the network connection for some unknown reason. Then had to reboot it again after less than an hour. Everything just locked up and refused to quiesce. Still making daily back-ups, even though I forgot yesterdays.

April 9, 2009

In order to make an apple pie from scratch, you must first create the universe
Carl Sagan

Rossetti and Dunton by Dunn
Click images for desktop size: "Rossetti and Dunton" by Dunn
Not feeling well today. Whatever I think is wrong I've decided is wrong inside of me.
I'm to see the doctor on April 20th. Have to bring along all my numbers, my health diary.The Lost Missile
Its obvious somethings wrong. After doing the lite exercise of working out the pain in my shoulder, Stretch it to the point where the pain just is about to start, then hold it for a count of 10 - repeat; trotting around the yard my blood pressure was 195 over 108. At the oral surgeons on Tuesday it was 180 over 90. Waking up its around 155 over 90.
Wallpaper
Click images for desktop size: "Untitled" by Unknown
A year or so ago it never got above 130 over 70.
A year seems rapid to me. A rapid change.
I'm trying to resist self treatment. Diet is easy and obvious. Cut out sodium etc. I get twitched because I keep remembering the oncology team saying that it was important that I keep my blood pressure low, like my opthamologist was always telling me my eyes would do better if I kept my sugars at near hyperglycemic levels. Truths we hold to be self evident stuff.
My blood sugars are okay but not near the low levels I was keeping them at. Sometimes I think I'd do better if I would just get overwhelmed. Let panic take me someplace.
At least I can still laugh and think.
The giant dog has gone to work with my friend. The crazy thing jumped about four feet up in the air on his way to the car, he was so excited.
Inside my puppy let loose the saddest coyote/wolf howl I've ever heard from her. Its what prompted Emotion Machine
Click images for desktop size: "Emotion Machine" by Unknown
my trotting around the yard with her and gentle dog. My puppy gets the Kong. I chase her. Gentle dog latches on to my wrist and tries to keep me from catching her.
It must be a great game to them. They want to play it all the time.
It will be funny walking the two sane dogs. Easier on me but the giant dog's intent insanity sure makes every one of our expeditions a memorable adventure!
My mind may be wrapped up in morbidity but I can still think.
I've been watching a TV series. A Japanese TV series: The Mute Samurai. The first episode was entitled "The Man Who Lost The Ability to Sing" which is pretty RAH when you think about it.
What attracted me to it was the star, Tomisaburo Wakayama, of "Lone Wolf and Cub". Wakayama's brother Shintaro Katsu, Zatoichi, makes appearances. Hideo Gosha wrote the story! When I saw that a few episodes were directed by Misumi Kenji, it became must see stuff.New House on the Left
I'm watching them in order. They're pretty standard TV fair. I'm not keen on the pacing. The plot is that Kiichi's father was an honest judge in Nagasaki. He refused to turn a blind eye to the foreigners illegal drug smuggling so the foreigners killed him, his wife and slashed Kiichi's throat and left him to die so he could watch the foreigner's rape his fiancee.
Lots of reason for hopeless rage there.
Kiichi spends the show as a bounty hunter. He lives off the money but mainly is searching for criminals who can lead him to the foreigners. When the show picks up he's been on the quest for 18 years!!
He's become a deadly swordsman who's only fear is that the foreigners might have left Japan before he can kill them!
The humour of the stories comes from Kiichi's discovery that he only gets half as much money for bringing in the criminals dead. That and people making fun of the strong samurai that cannot speak. This is a tough show. In the first five minutes there's a graphic decapitation.
Misumi directs the third episode. It fit in to the series canon but because it's Misumi it takes an odder slant.
There are ideas that flow through all of Misumi's films. That's one of the requirements to be considered an "auteur". One of the most telling is his depiction of society and its relationship to his swordsmen. Society becomes a dense but single character in his films.
In this short film (which is what most of these TV episodes come across as) his concept of society gets clearer than ever before.
John Kennedy
Click images for desktop size: "John Kennedy"
Society and the people in it are vile, frightened contemptible things. Why shouldn't they be. Any hint of heroism from one of its part leads it to being rejected and destroyed by the society that protects itself above all else. Self preservation rules the vast majority. It is all they have.
And due to the low cruel lives they are forced into it is the superior man's instinctual need to love these people. To protect them and enable them to perhaps grow into something more than the miserable thing they are condemned to be.
And the superior man does this while not living amongst them, not ever letting them touch him lest they contaminate the purity of his love with their sodden reality.
Society's only touch of humanity comes from the women who maybe just as rough as their men but they have samurai's strength in their hearts. They are not afraid to show gratitude and realize their is pride in humility.
It would seem that this grim view of the world is essential to the power of Misumi's imagery. ItThe House of Frankenstein forces him to construct his "fleur de mal" images of gore and beauty.
A world where the only thing worth loving is contemptible and represents dirt that you would never allow to taint your own soul is a tough place to live. That Misumi's heroes thrive in this world without regret and that they never let their love for their common man become infused with pity presents an image unlike any I've encountered in classical or existentialist literature. I guess it only works if you've got a heavy sword and the emotional where with all to calmly slay dozens at a pitch.
I'm going to take my pair of dogs out to explore a world that's not tinged with madness. I like walking all three of them. I always figure people see us and point while thinking to themselves, "There goes the luckiest man in the world."

April 7, 2009

Be who you are and be that well
Saint Francis de Sales

Clothes Make The Man
Click images for desktop size: "Clothes Make the Man" by Unknown
There are four inches of snow on the ground. The temperature is 27. Easter weekend is this weekend.
Yesterday my friend left for work. The giant puppy has strange issues. Whenever we or she leaveWee Willie Winkie he starts a pathetic crying. My puppy will often join in with a mournful howl.
Normally this all ends as soon as I step back in the house. I have to go out with my friend to open and close the gate behind her. Yesterday when I came back inside the giant dog's tears didn't stop.
Before I could start to comfort him the phone rang. My friend was Charmed to Meet You
Click image: "Charmed to Meet You" by Unknown
coming home. The snow was too bad for her to go into work.
I think the giant dog is taking credit for bringing her back to him.
As we settled in, her to work and me to annoy her and the dogs, I felt something odd. My gums had been swollen since the tooth extractions but they started to throb in a way that worried me.
I called the oral surgeon and got an emergency appointment.
The guy who pulled my teeth is on vacation. I liked his stand in far better. He said I had the start of an infection and I was healing much slower than usual.
Leukemia and chemo-patients are extremely susceptible to infection. Diabetics are slow healers.
It bugged me that this was in all my medical history. Before the extraction I even called and asked if I could pick up the script for the antibiotics before hand. I was told of course not.
I wonder if my call rankled them enough to not prescribe any antibiotics out of some sort of professional spite or in a vain attempt to not pay that much attention to my own health - let the Esther by Benouville
Click images for desktop size: "Esther" by Benouville
MD's handle it all, Just be compliant and shut up.
I figure the latter.
So the stand in doc gave me a script for Amoxicillin, a pretty non-specific anti-biotic.
I was so amazed and relieved that there was no charge for the visit that it wasn't till some time later that I started to wonder why I wasn't charged.
I spent the idle moments waiting around asking anyone who was foolish enough to listen what they thought about the weather. No one seemed as upset about the snow and cold as I did. Much to my chagrin they all seemed to accept it pretty much as the way things work "around these parts".
Other than that relatively complicated ploy of mine to annoy my friend and the dogs we settled in.
It was pleasantly dull. I didn't even have much time for my usual pondering of what is going to snatch my simple comfort away from me.
We watched a Japanese movie: "Suspect X". It was surprisingly good and entertaining. It startedThe Story of Temple Drake with a crazy cool "Mister Wizard" style explanation and demonstration on how to make a super particle accelerator from things you can find around the house, if you happen to live in a medical tech supply factory anyway.
The film is based on a successful Japanese TV series so I wasn't all prepared for what was to come. A murder mystery that became a struggle between a genius physicist and a super genius mathematician.
And somehow it became a tale of enduring and effective heartbreak, loneliness and profound sadness. Its smart enough in its story telling to lay out some red herrings as to the character and motives of the characters, allowing you to gleefully jump to some conclusions that will intertwine your own guilt with the guilt of the leads and the distaste for the mere cops who slave away to solve the crime.
At one point the "villain", the mathematician, asks the physicist to not solve the crime; "It will bring no one happiness."
The ending is searing, simple with an elegance that speak to the truth of the lost.
A warmly recommended movie. Not great but terribly cool entertainment.
I've already had the dogs out in the bad weather. They love it. They knocked me down once. Unintentional this time. My puppy and the gentle dog saw something and went after it while giant DC
Click images for desktop size: "DC Comics"
dog saw the same thing and decided to back away from it, probably to consider joining in on the attack. I was doing pretty well until giant dog decided that whatever was out there was small enough to make it safe for him to join in on the attack. He moved too fast for me so I went over. To the pups disgust I kept a hold on all three leashes.
One of my kids (former players) likes to send me the UK top 40 three or four times a year. I think I once muttered something about being afraid of loosing touch. For some reason he sends me the POP top 40. And once again I'm amazed that there are as many of those tracks that I sort of like and there are tracks I down right hate (keyboards and drum machines are often but not always the progeny of hate).

March 31, 2009

It is human nature to think wisely and act in an absurd fashion
Anatole France

Summer Time by Lete
Click images for desktop size: "Summer Time" by Lete
My wires arrived today. About 5 minutes before it was time to go to the oral surgeon.
That made certain it would be a good day.Mark of the Vampire
I was up about 3:30 in the morning. Too much pain kicking in. I don't think I was worried but who knows.
My puppy feel asleep with me. She was pressed hard against me, probably trying to push me out of the bed.
When I got up she came in and stood guard around my chair. I always imagine that she's standing guard out of some sort of doggie sense of duty and that all the while she's really praying that no one shows up to bother me, fearful she might have to do something. Still, its comforting.
Unknown
Click images for desktop size: Unknown
I did little until it was time to feed the dogs. Did my vital sign stuff. It was about the same. Nothing special.
I got sleepy but now it was too late to go back to sleep.
I got my wires and hooked them up pretty easily. Its not very instinctive and very difficult to figure out the right left connection. I did it with trial and error. It requires a lot of force to connect and reconnect the things. They are so light and fragile all the force mad me nervous.
Then it was time to get the six teeth pulled.
It was pretty much a non-event. The worst part was the nine novocaine shots. They hurt like hell. Two under the tongue and two in the roof of my mouth were very memorable. My toes curled in an unpleasant way.
Then the doc came in and pulled all six in about five minutes . . . He did it pretty well, I guess, but his speed just confirmed the feeling that I had that I was product and not human. I got no meds or pain killers. They set up a two week follow-up appointment in 3 weeks.
My mouth was totally numb and stuffed full of bloody gauze and they kept asking me questions. I Strawberry
Click images for desktop size: "Strawberry" by Unknown
kept answering but they couldn't understand me.
The surprise was that the bill was less than the pre-approved amount. It was still too much but there were no complications.
As the novocaine wore off I watched Frank Miller's "The Spirit". It was pretty poor although I thought Gabriel Macht was excellent as The Spirit.
I always loved Will Eisner's comics. The Spirit was a real favorite. As bad as the movie was my heart was seriously warmed when they'd get some of the Will Eisner touches right. Except for Macht the movie lacked Eisner's humanity, what Eisner merely implied they spelled out, like the fact that The Spirit is the world's only Jewish Masked Crime Fighter. They lost the humanity, the understanding of evil and in place of Eisner's sly humour we got tacky slapstick.
The pain was pretty bad but compared to the pain of the 3 erupted teeth it seemed almost liThe Molesterske a relief. Like the torturer had moved on to adifferent set of nerves. There's an occasional bad stab but nothing that I can't handle.
I'm happy the wire for the Ultimate Ears finally arrived. The disgusting part is that it took 2 weeks for the Post Office to deliver a 2 ounce parcel less than 1 thousand miles. Very pathetic.
As much as I like the Entymotic 4's that I borrowed I'm happy to have the UE's back.
The Entymotics are more precise and much clearer in the midrange but the slightly boomy UE's are nearly as precise and have a much more soothing relaxing sound. Its very hard to pick between them. That the UE's were a gift probably gives them a slight edge.
I expect to be pretty laid up tomorrow but if I can I'll finish up telling about Ong Bak 2.

March 30, 2009

You're only late if you get here after I do

Scarf, Girl and New Friend by Leah Felicity
Click images for desktop size: "Scarf, Girl and New Friend" by Leah Felecity
It's snowing . . .

My puppy has always loved her Kong, a red hard rubber conical toy. But she's very specific about itThe Ladies Man being her Kong.
When Jack, our foster dog, got adopted I included a Kong with his going away package. I made a mistake and gave my puppies Kong to Jack and kept his. This was a bigger mistake than I thought. My puppy who spent every minute outside with the Kong in her mouth refused to touch "Jack;s" Kong. She had no interest in it. Instead she Fess Parker
Click images for desktop size: "Fess Parker"
spent a good portion of every day searching for her Kong.
After nearly a year she started to play with "Jack's" Kong. Soon she was as enamored with it as always. By enamored I mean chasing it, teasing me with it and wanting me to chase her to steal it from her.
After our move she lost the Kong in a snow drift. I'd been looking as hard as I can. She'd scuttle along beside me desperate and frustrated.
Her aunt sent her a new Kong for her birthday last year. My puppy studiously ignored it until yesterday.
She finds it vital to have her Kong and to torment me with it. I don't know why but it seems to be some sort of lifeline between us.

I spent the weekend lightly suffering. I wonder if tomorrow's oral surgery, six teeth gone, is preying that heavily on me. I also wonder if the debilitating effect of the pain in my mouth is starting to affect the rest of my health. I'm constantly weary. My right shoulder is hurting em terribly. I can't put on a jacket with out grunting in pain. The exercises seem to keep the worst of the pain away.
My left elbow has stated to throb and weaken. I have a hard time holding the coffee pot. My thumbs continue to ache and stay weak.
A Brito
Click images for desktop size: "Untitled" by A Brito
My left ankle feels tweaked and burning. My right knee burns and gives out when I try to stand.
My blood sugar levels have been haywire. And every day my blood pressure seems to be rising, particularly the diastolic (the littler number).
Maybe its holistic. Could the pain in my mouth be branching out and affecting the rest of my body? Or could it be a matter of will? Keeping the pain in my mouth in check has permitted the rest of my body's aches and pains to resurface.
It will be interesting to see after tomorrow afternoon when my life will be mainly saliva, blood and a numb tongue.

I did watch three movies this weekend.Sons of the Desert
The first was a surprise in that it didn't totally suck; "Marley and Me". How did this Owen guy get to be a star? Alan Arkin was in it and he was reliably funny.
For a while it seemed almost that the filmmakers had swiped a page from the Japanese. The Japanese style of dog movie making is to realize that the dogs are not merely an object to cutify but a separate character that has a value within the dramatic dynamic.
That wasn't quite so. It turned out that the film was mainly just a biography of this newspaper writer. At least the dog was in it a lot and was used, slightly, as a device to elucidate the character and miasma of the human characters.
I expected it to be terrible. It wasn't.
The Korean film, "The Divine Weapon" was something of a throwback. It was definitely made to cash in on the popularity of "Red Cliff", that monstrously huge John Woo epic detailing how China came to be.
This film details how Jaesong broke free of China to become its own tiny and proud country. Being Korean the epic part is incidental to the drama and relationships of the people.
There's been a trend, lately, in Korean films, to have these period pieces reflect modern times - rapping monks, ancient caps made to resemble backwards baseball caps. That sort of thing. I find it disconcerting and not a little bit stupid.
"The Divine Weapon" doesn't mess with that. Instead it paints a lovely picture of people in the 15th century trying to survive and make a new and better life.
by 3D
Click images for desktop size: "Untitled" by 3D
The odd thing that keeps this from being incredible is that the film's agenda is to push patriotism and freedom. Freedom can only be accomplished via creating weapons of mass destruction.
The movie details the Korean invention (or perfection) of the Flaming Arrow, or exploding arrows, including rockets, the first weapon capable of killing people over a mile away.
For me its hard to cheer 100 people killing 100,000 by using a weapon no one other than the inventors had even conceived.
The battles are epic and have a rough beauty but what was thrilling was the love story between the female creator of the divine weapon and the former noble, now a merchant, who helps her build the missiles. One scene in particular choked me up. It was intensely beautiful, simple and direct.
Earlier in the film the woman gives herself a pep talk; "Are you sad? No, you cannot afford to be sad! Even if I'm lonely I can't feel lonely. I can't ever admit how scared I am."
Later on she has been betrayed and ordered to be turned over to the Ming government forThe Love Wanga execution. The merchant fights and will surely die or kill his best friend but she stops him and surrenders herself. He yells after her, "Are you sad?"
"No!" she barks back.
"Are you sad?" he yells.
"No!", she exclaims as she walks to the prison cart.
"Are you lonely?"
"No!" and she turns, "I have you!"
He's speechless and watches silently as she is taken away. Its more powerful than anything but a movie could show.
Finally I got to see the long anticipated "Ong Bak 2".
I was nervous about the film ever since its was announced. I think Tony Jaa's "Tom Yum Gum" is one of the 10 greatest movies ever made. Mixing bone breaking martial arts with human feelings, love of creatures not human, gripping your heart and your adrenal gland is no small task.
"Chocolate proved that director Pikanew's talent is deadly real. But for some reason Tony Jaa decided to direct his third movie himself. The announcement made me flinch. I thought of Bruce Willis . . . (Have you seen "The Adventures of Hudson Hawke"?)
I was calmed only slightly when I saw the trailer, on line, for "Ong Bak 2". Then I read a really disparaging review. The review savaged the film. It was clear the writer had little knowledge of international cinema and no knowledge or interest in martial arts movies.
So I was excited and nervous about being disappointed.
the Salute of the Robe Trade by Charles Russell
Click images for desktop size: "The Salute of the Robe Trade" by Charles Russell
Any film with Tony Jaa is going to get 4 stars out of 5 from me. The man moves with a sensuous grace and ease that is totally unworldly. He moves how an angel or an ancient god would move as if gravity and the earth around him were mere incidentals that can't even distract him. The man has two pet elephants! Of course he is quick to correct, the elephants aren't pets. They are family. RAH!
"Ong Bak 2" starts with a simple title, "It was the Buddhist year 1974. In the Christian calendar it was 1491."
This was a surprise. Tony Jaa the ultimate 21st Century hero was doing an ancient?

I need to stop. My concentration is fragmenting. This is already long. I'll continue after my oral surgery tomorrow.
As my friend says, I find it impossible to stay quiet for too long.
How does she put up with me? Normally with good grace and humour.

March 24, 2009

Bring it to Jerome
Bo Diddley

In Bones We Trust
Click images for desktop size: "In Bones We Trust" by Unknown
When I dream, or at least remember my dreams, they are always very heavily plotted stories. They're seen like movies, complete with retakes and cutaway shoots with insets and over theHalf Human shoulder close-ups. Otherwise my dreams are just fleeting images, like wayward film frames.
Lately I've been dreaming about pain. I feel the pain in my dream. I wake up and sure enough I'm in pain. Prophesy fulfilled.
Since dreams are important, they tell me, I wonder what these strange overly constructed dreams of mine mean. Dreams are the way the subconscious mind helps us deal with the issues of the day, the reconstruction of events filed into memories, trauma and events forgotten. ( At least thats what they taught me in the classes I had to take to deal with victims of child abuse) My dreams often consist of shot after shot of a key being removed from a dresser. Different angles, different lighting, until I get the correct shot and the dream continues.
A lot has happened. Nothing earth shattering or even important to anyone but me.
Gloucester Harbour by Edward Hopper
Click images for desktop size: "Gloucester Harbor" by Edward Hopper
I went to the Doctor's on Friday, the GP. He gave me some chores. On Saturday my friend and I got the prescriptions filled. We got the Blood Pressure machine and more diabetic testing strips.
My blood pressure is high. Not scary so but high. 150 over 86 one morning! I'm putting it off to the pain and the tension about even using the blood pressure machine.
I haven't been checking my blood sugars as well as I normally should. The strips cost like eighty bucks for a months supply, so I got into the habit of only checking it when I felt weird or wanted to eat something on the "unapproved" list.
There's nothing to justify this. My blood sugars have been a bit on the high side. As the diabetes at this stage could lead to blindness or to losing a limb I'll have to go back to being paranoid checkingHard Rock Zombies them even after I finish the doc's medical stats diary.
Diabetes is a degenerative disease. It only gets worse. Its like a car, as much as you pray a knock in the car isn't going to go away until it breaks down or you get it fixed. I'll have to keep a tighter rein on everything.
Today becomes the first day of my extended walking exercise program. Its hard to figure. I can walk 2 miles in less than a half hour by myself. When I walk the dogs the same walk takes about 90 minutes. Some of that extra time is due to weird little doggie detours and stopping to smell the lamp posts of life.
I also have to figure where we're going to walk to. My puppy and the giant dog don't like going to too many new places so I need to double our walking time while staying relatively close to their comfort zone and working my body a bit.
I think that means walking around in circles.
On Saturday we too of on a mini shopping spree. The main goal was this decent second hand book store.
We also made a run for Gluten Free Ice Cream Cones for my friend. The place where she used to go for them was closed. HAd the sign up: "Under New Ownership Opening Soon".
Every time I see that I wince. The Oriental Theater on Sunset had that sign on their marquee for 4 years until it finally reopened; not as a movie house but as "The Guitar Center".
We went to 4 other health food joints on a vain quest for the elusive ice cream cone.
My friend got three vegan cookbooks she'd been coveting. Not second hand. She's been working like Favorite Poet by Alma Tadema
Click images for desktop size: "Favorite Poet" by Alma Tadema
a lost slave for the past couple months. I was pleased she'd gotten something that mad her eyes light up.
We stopped for lunch at some sea food place. Eating out was hard on me. I could barely chew. I had a "Cajun" Poor boy sandwich that I ate with a knife and fork. I never learn to not order cajun food except in Louisiana. It was okay for all that. It felt alien to be sitting in a restaurant with just my friend. I liked it. I still have this habit of always looking around for someone I might know.
We finally got to the bookstore and they had a sale on cookbooks! 35% off. RAH! My friend got 11! I found three of my Destroyer books, all three of them ghosted by my friend Will.
We drove home. The car did fine and we felt happy.
Sunday was just a lounging around day. Need those periodically. Monday my friend took the day off. We had some light plans but it turned into another lounging around day.Gone With the Wind
I'd enjoyed "King of the Texas Rangers" so much I decided to check out some more serials. I was disappointed, not in the serials themselves but in the discs. The Columbia serials (which tend to have better actors but less excitement and poorer special effects) looked like they'd been mastered from beat to death VHS tapes. There's was tearing at the bottom and occasional rolling!
The Republic serial, "Dick Tracy" looked like it was a CAM but not recorded from a screen but from an old sheet hung in a windy barn!
"Daredevils of the Red Circle" suffered from the same flaws but was, Soa Lee
Click images for desktop size: "Untitled" by Soa Lee
so far, at least watchable. Its pretty cool. The heroes are circus daredevils! The youngest is an escape artist, the middle (Herman Brix) a strong man, and the eldest an Olympic High Diver and Rhodes Scholar, or something similar.
Its been decent so far but its still hard to understand how Brix can stop crooks from fleeing by lifting up the rear end of their car but is lousy in the fights!
I also watched "The Yakuza". An old movie I first became aware of when I was a kid. The whole town was talking it up. Paul Schrader had managed to get the studios into a major bidding contest. Martin Scorsese was begging to make the movie. Sadly Sidney Pollack, he of "Tootsie" fame got the deal. If you'd ask me who would be the least competent director to make a big budget yakuza flic Pollack would have been near the top of the list.
It was cool that they had the brains to get a still fit and exceptional Ken Takura to play the lead. Even cooler they got sleepy eyed Robert Mitchum to play the American in Japan.
It was interesting to see how Pollack destroyed a great story. Takura and Mitchum wiping out a yakuza gang should have been classic but it was just boring. The only other time I saw it was when it first came out. I thought it was boring then. Sad that my kid instincts were justified by the crusty old man reality of today.
I can't help but thinking about how cool it could have been.
Dog baths today. The world quakes.

March 17, 2009

I love mankind; it's people I can't stand
Charles M. Schulz

Watchfinder General's Kitchen by Andy Jones
Click images for desktop size: "Witchfinder General's Kitchen" by Andy Jones"
Under threat of physical damage to myself I've been instructed to point out that my friend only ate NINE tacos on Saturday. The tenth was given to the pups. She does admit that she could have eatenConfessions of a Psycho Cat the tenth.
Further the implication that she often eats 9 or more tacos is erroneous. She struggles to keep her weight over 115. I believe that is pounds not kilograms.

Dog by S4W
Click images for desktop size: "Dog" by S4W
A while ago I broke the audio cable on my Ultimate Eat super.fi 5's. I've finally gotten around to finding that I can replace the cable for only 20 bucks. Which seems a lot for a cable but considering my disastrous attempts to rewire and splice the super thin wires it seems like a bargain.
The only issue is that there seems to be no way that I can see to remove the old cord. The only help is that the picture of the replacement cord shows two pretty little gold plugs that obviously plug into the old ear speakers. Still, I can't see anyway to remove the old cord short of cutting the wire off which makes me fearful of damaging the tiny female plugs that the picture indicates exist there.
I wrote to Ultimate Ears but haven't gotten a response yet. Frustrated I just now pulled the cord as hard as I could and I've either removed the old cord properly or damaged everything beyond repair. That's the way most of my repairs go.
Angie Dickensen
Click images for desktop size: "Angie Dickensen"
I'm going to order the replacement cable and see what happens from there.

We're still watching an episode of the old David Carradine TV show, "Kung Fu" every Sunday.
I'm a bit stunned about how the show progresses. I still have problems that becoming a star on a hit show Carradine never bothered to learn any rudiments of martial arts. His dancer kicks and repetitive moves that have no foundation in fighting get tedious and I constantly find myself thinking about how great it would have been to have had Bruce Lee in the role.
But the biggest problem is the lack of a story editor. The shows bring in forgotten plot points at random and then promptly forgets them again, not only within the show but in the series. Most of the time he's just wandering around America but for no apparent reason he is suddenly searching for The Crawling Eye his brother. He appears to wander from Louisiana to the Mojave Desert. Since this a distance of about 2,000 miles you have to figure part of his Shaolin training is teleportation.
These second season shows don't have Keye Luke very often. Luke is still one of my fave actors. He was a professional and committed to every role he played. As Charlie Chan's number one son he moved with an easy grace, easy enough to have him play an Olympic Athlete and be totally believable. As the blind Master Po in the series he lent the show a gravitas and sense of joy that they can't replicate. Without Luke the Temple sets suddenly look cheap and thrown together. Luke exuded enough sheer joyous power to steal all the focus so that all you see is him. He's always had the magic.
Oddly even with the overt input from Carradine and all the screaming flaws the show never fails to entertain. At its best it gives some serious insight and provides something more to think of than just Bedside Book by Kahle
Click images for desktop size: "Bedside Book" by Kahle
"cool!" (Which does not negate how much I like "cool!")
Its this constant battle between exhilaration and disappointment that makes me look forward to each episode. That and that I get to share the experience with my friend. As a guy who thought a great Saturday was to go to 4 different theaters and see 8 or nine movies on the day and who's greatest pleasure was when someone would go along with me on these celluloid forays that means a lot to me. Even when they hate something I enjoyed or loved something I thought was just okay it makes everything so much better.
Considering that the only book I found of interest in my friends library turned out to be one of those book vaults, where the middle of the book is cut out to hide stuff; it can't be underestimated.
I've been watching a lot of movies, as usual. Nothing great. In fact the best thing I've seen was "Alien Raiders", which says something about the movie funk I'm in. "Alien Raiders" was okay. A nice low budget movie that made the most of its situation, worked well. I liked it more than I did theDelinquent Parents preachy "The Mist", even with fewer monsters and a lot less special effects.
I've been watching the "new" Shaw Brothers films. Nothing spectacular there. So far the best of them was the previously unreleased "Martial Club" by Liu Chia Liang. The main focus of the movie was Lion Dancing!! There was an opening segment that Liu (a recognized Master of kung fu) explaining the rigid code and rules of the Lion Dance.
It was a fun breezy movie that made me laugh. Had some great fights and an incredible human pyramid of about fifty people. It walked and was part of the Lion Dance choreography.

Tomorrow I've got my appointment with the oral surgeon. Eight forty five in the morning.
I think I have a ride there but will probably have to walk home. Normally no big deal. We've had some nice enough weather lately but they're saying its going to rain tomorrow. Using child logic I've decided that if I manage to get home before it rains that signifies that everything in my life is gong to turn out well.

March 9, 2009

Pair up in threes
Joe DiMaggio

Moon Dreams by Yana Foltice
Click images for desktop size: "Moon Dreams" by Yana Foltice
My friend and I were talking this weekend. We were talking about governments and my grief at getting some documents.Theater of Death
She said, "The government is there to make my life easier. That's their job."
I find such optimism charming. Even when I strongly disagree.
I think the governments job is to get paid.
I think that's the absolute grief still left from Bush - he who believes in helping the rich, condemning the poor, who thinks freedom is not a right but a privilege for the select few; that the rich can lead the KC MO Library by gwENvision
Click image: "KC Mo Library" by gwENvision
cattle cows of the poor to the slaughterhouse and have them singing nice pop tunes in praise of the abattoir while filling them with fear of the black helicopters that seek to enslave them. You got to love the Republicans, the Conservatives and any other ruling party.
We're Americans and we do this kind of stuff better than most.
What I mean is that Bush hires guys, who hire guys, who hire guys building a pyramid, a great ponzi scheme to enrich themselves.
And the guys at the bottom, the faces of the government we actually deal with are guys with a sinecure, a job for life.
Funny thing is that government jobs, their raises, their promotions, their job prestige have twisted goals. No government employee gets a push for customer satisfaction.
Mudbugs by Carlos W
Click images for desktop size: "Mudbugs" by Carlos W
You can make a claim that elections are the ultimate expression of customer satisfaction, but elections haven't really been that for a long time. Even the recent election was more about customer dissatisfaction and fear.
Have you ever heard of a cop getting a promotion because he went out and talked to kids and managed to get them to give up gang banging and cut crime? Of course not. Those guys are out there. Normally they get transferred out. Stopping crime cuts into federal allocated funds.
Its like a traffic cop doesn't get kudos for stopping drivers and correcting bad driving habits. He gets his perks by writing tickets, and if he's below his quota maybe he sees somethings that aren't there. Because he's got that guilty conscience or if his entire moral foundation has been eroded by his jobTrouble Man he gets nasty, surly and hate filled and takes it out on you for no reason over than he can.
They don't fire this cop. They don't try and calm him down. As long as he's bringing in the money they give him promotions and praise. He gets to train others to be like him and all the other guys see that and begin to emulate him.
Or the corpulent 350 pound guy from Homeland Security. He can't get another job. He's fat, slovenly, sluggish and not very bright in the bargain but he gets to go through all of your belongings at the airport and he gets to keep whatever he sees or likes because in his limited world he can make a case for it being dangerous. Once one of these clones confiscated a nail clipper so I wouldn't clip a stewardesses jugular or something.
He's got a government job. Its impossible for him to get fired. Ever.
All the way down to the crabby lady at the DMV. She's been there for 20 years. She's mean, Hawkman and Adam Strange
Click image: "Adam Strange and Hawkman" by DC Comics
inaccurate hates her job and hates you, sees you as an inconvenience in the way of her happy life dream. She'll be there until they promote her or she decides to retire at a pension that will pay her 80% of her salary. No one cares, in government, that she's inept and slowing down a flawed system even further. She shows up.
I was in the Immigration office in London. Leave me alone too long and I explore. I saw a chart on the wall, very prominent. It was a list of all the immigration officers and it tracked how many Jamaicans, Africans and Hispanics they'd managed to deport or deny entry. Maybe it was a pool but it looked to white board official not be sanctioned.
There was no chart for how many people they'd allowed in who were leading happy productive lives, contributing to the community. Governments can't afford to expand their vision that far.
You can always remember a good experience with a government official or agency because they are The Tiger Woman rare glowing moments that shock and surprise. It takes a while to recollect all the miserable times with the government because they are the rule. Why remember the routine and ordinary.
It will take a generation to get rid of Bush's deadwood. Obama, shockingly, seems to be making attempts in that direction. I think that will fail.

We tried to watch "The Watchmen" yesterday. We were both falling asleep within fifteen minutes. What a dreary, talky mess.
I read "The Watchmen" comic. I thought it was okay. I even sought out some other Alan Moore stuff. As to thinking it was a "great novel". I'm a bit dumbfounded by that. I didn't even think it was a great comic book.
We watched the super hyped credit sequence set to Dylan's "The Times They Are A'Changing" and thought it was just messy.
We went and watched something else. Enjoyed it.

Dentist tomorrow.
I expect to have three teeth pulled. I'll be aggravated that they won't let me have the teeth. I want to save them up.
In "The Mother and the Whore" there's a character, an artist. He plans to have his left hand amputated and then place it in an ornate jar with a brass inscription that says, "The Artist's Hand 1956-1973". I don't want to got hat far I just want to have a cigar box collection of the things I used to be. Like Seth Brundle in Cronenberg's "The Fly". A display of the proof that I at least used to be human.
New Hat
Click images for desktop size: "New Hat" by Unknown
This morning the ibuprofen nearly masked the mouth pain. I was considering canceling the appointment, not seriously considering but it crossed my mind for sure. I can barely chew food now. When these 3 teeth (if it only becomes 3) are gone it will still be hard to eat, to chew. Of course I'm more worried about how I'll look.
Appointments at ten. I expect the crabbiness to last for about 30 days . . .
On the 20th I have to see the GP doctor . . . so much fun.
On Saturday we have to take the new car in for warranty work. Nothing serious. Squeaky brakes and a blown sounding front speaker.
Its been raining. Warmish and damp. A chilling damp. Plenty of mud so the dogs are very happy.
I've cut back on feeding skanky cat. Yesterday I discovered she was living in or at least keeping outThe Unearthly of the weather in the collapsed bomb shelter.
The idea of trapping a feral cat, taking her/it to the vet fatigues me. I've decided to feed it only every other day. That should keep it comfortable enough to stay alive but hungry enough to look for someplace else to hang out.
At least I hope so. I don't know much about cats. I think they started the bubonic plague and give people cancer. At least that's what I've heard.
There's so much that I think that I've forgotten. Maybe its not important but it seems important to me. At least too important to risk forgetting. Remembering used to be in my blood.

March 3, 2009

Since a politician never believes what he says, he is quite surprised to be taken at his word
Charles de Gaulle

Oasis by Michael Parkes
Click images for desktop size: "Oasis" by Michael Parkes
The gentle dog went to work with my friend. My puppy, surprisingly misses him. I figure they had some adventure penciled into their schedule.The H-Man
It always feels odd, now, having only two dogs. I know I liked it best when I had four. Having only two is like looking at the dregs in the bottle.
I'm going to put the giant dog on the corner. With his new haircut The Beatles
Click images for desktop size: "The Beatles"
and all I'll turn him into a "working dog". Get him to approach cars and people, 10 minutes of pets for a nickel. My puppy will be his "business manager". If we can avoid the vice cops we should make a few dollars.
It works out well though. The two remaining enjoy the extra attention, the extra room. Its easier to walk two dogs than three but three requires almost no effort. Getting pulled down on ice requires no effort at all, at least from me. I can fall down with almost no assistance at all.
Bad pain day. This is still a house filled with love and germs.
My friend coughed badly all night. She was feeling better but relapsed. I'm in what should be the final bad day of the germ. Tomorrow I should be recovering and I should be fine by Thursday night.
Last night I fell asleep watching a movie. It was an interesting one too.
This Hong Kong based company has set itself a lofty goal; they're releasing every Shaw Brothers film ever made on DVD. Remastering them, cleaning up the soundtracks and trying to present them Unknown
Click images for desktop size: "Unknown"
as classics. Guys like me appreciate that. (Quentin Tarentino does to. I have to admit it irks me that he's cadged the Shaw Brothers opening logo to open his movies. It seems some how disrespectful . . . if its possible to disrespect a movie studio, a money making operation).
Shaw Brothers always had the rep for making the best, slickest looking movies in Asia. Decent film stock, wonderfully detailed sets and a host of the best directors and a stable of Asian Superstars. They reworked the old Hollywood studio system, keeping their top talent working almost non-stop.
After Shaw Brothers broke the king fu movie at Cannes in the 70's they became an international force. Golden Harvest, who vacillated between making some of the best and the worst movies going - but they had Bruce Lee - benefited greatly from the superior product coming from their rivals.The Incredible Shrinking Man
What's cool is that Celestial has finally gotten into the movies that Shaw Brothers was making before they broke the genre world wide. This is the first time that these films have been able to be seen outside of China or your local China Town movie theater.
(I've always liked the theaters in China town and Little Tokyo. The Japanese theaters were always SOA but the Chinese theaters were always grim affairs with projection bulbs that were somehow always old and close to death. Its like the mystery of how some guys always managed to have 3 days growth of beard, never four and never clean shaven. Chinese Movie Houses (at least in LA) always had a dim bulb that would finally burn out in 10 hours. And of course the snacks for sale in the lobby were . . . interesting. Dried fish, strange crackers and popcorn you'd have to be fool hardy or at least braver than me to try.)
The new/old movies Celestial is bringing out are at least interesting and sometimes exquisite. The level of kung fu in the movies is far below what we've come to expect. For some reason every genre of Shaw Brothers films seems to require at least two kung fu battles. I'm not complaining.
So far I've been able to see "The Impostor" a sort of whacky story about David Chiang being this heavy duty altruist who is also a master of disguise. He's bored, rich and nosey, so he solves crimes . . . Its very amenable.
"The Delightful Forest" (The movie I fell asleep during last night) is a part of "The Water Margin" (The classic ultimate Chinese novel about freedom and brotherhood). Its got Lung Ti, an actor who's St Catherine by Carlo Dolci
Click images for desktop size: "St Catherine" by Carlo Dolci
career has easily spanned five decades! Lung Ti is this incredibly moral guy who also happens to be a devastating fighter. He' thrown in prison, a prison he could easily escape but choses not to as that would be wrong. The Delightful Forest of the title is a town of gambling casinos and brothels . . . what I saw was entertaining.
I've got about four more to see and more promised. These movies all hold enough potential that I keep thinking that there's going to be a mind blasting movie coming up any second. Maybe not but the search and expectations are a lot of fun.
Of the four I have seen none of them were disastrous or boring and that's saying something.
I might have gotten he dishwasher fixed. I tried not to tear it apart but to just fix most of it in place. The water here must be pretty hard. Mainly I had to pick out chunks of lime and calcium! It was hampering the spray of water.
Did a full load last night. I'm afraid to look at the dishes. If they're not clean it means I have to take the whole thing apart again. I usually enjoy that sort of thing. For some reason the dishwasher fallsThe Fiend Who Walked the West outside my list of things I like to take apart.
I only have six episodes of "King of the Rangers". I really hope I can get the last six. Its very enjoyable on its own level. I admit that part of the enjoyment is watching "Slingin'" Sammy Baugh attempt to act. They give him few lines, fortunately. He recites them like a six year old trying to remember a piece for his first assembly.
The only draw back is that Duncan Renaldo is so great its a shame that he keeps being limited to being the side kick, the guy who screws up and gets slugged so the bad guys can escape. Its still a potent good time serial.
I've set a deadline of this weekend to finish up a new little movie for my puppy's blog. The kids are starting to write and bug HER to get something new posted. I wish I had simpler ideas . . .

February 27, 2009

Life is a comedy for those who think and a tragedy for those who feel
Horace Walpole

Pin Up Art by JW McGinnis
Click images for desktop size: "Pin Up Art" by JW McGinnis
Just like in books movies have scenes, moments mainly, that stay fresh and alive in our minds forever. Since the genius of the scenes in books are always open to our personal interpretation, (I Spook Warfare always imagine the hero as looking like me . . . sort of thing) and the moments in movies are plastic concrete, universal and indisputable, I prefer movies.
No surprise there.
The dogs woke me at 1:30 this morning. I still have no idea why, although I expect it has something to do with two new dogs who moved into the area, even though they're about 200 yards away at the closest point to our yard, our dogs take great umbrage to their presence.
I woke up in pain. After letting the dogs out I took some ibuprofen and meditated about some of the great moments in movies. It helped get me to sleep in a nice way.
Somehow think about movies almost always starts with John Wayne. I don't know why, it just does. I guess I'm still surprised that he was a lineman at USC.
Wayne had a few great moments; indelible scenes that stay with you forever. Whenever things get hopeless I always have a flash of Wayne as Ringo in "Stagecoach", falling forward into the dust as he takes on three bad guys with only a winchester and 3 bullets. And that moment in "True Grit" when Wayne confronts Robert Duvall and Duvall's gang in the natural arena. After Duvall points out the obvious truth that Wayne is old, fat, one eyed and tired Wayne shouts, "Fill your hands you sonsabitches!" Put his horse's reins in his mouth and rides at the gang firing wildly.
A lot of movies have moments like that, moments that help us survive what our own imaginations Kitchen
Click images for desktop size: "Kitchen" by Unknown
might not let us survive. That's one of the reasons for art.
I wasn't thinking about those moments I was thinking about the moments that codify a movie so well that it burns and illuminates not only our lives but the lives of others, enabling to let us see things we perhaps never even sensed.
Like for me the greatest moment for Wayne came in "The Searchers". Its a movie loaded with great moments, like the crazy teenaged girls who've escaped the Apaches, or the moment when Wayne scoops up Natalie Wood as though she were no more significant than a doll, a wisp an image. But moment that fits my definition is when Wayne returns Natalie Woods to her family. He stands in the doorway a hero, but a hero ignored, Jeff Chandler pushes past him and we know that because of Wayne's efforts all will be better for the world, the people in that house whose life he has touched and Slaughter High improved will leave a version of happily ever after. But Wayne just stands in the doorway, gripping his own right arm with his left hand, while the Sons of the Pioneers acting like some bumpkin Greek chorus exhort him to ride away, ride way.
The house looks so dark, cool and inviting. We know it is filled with celebration and happiness, while the world beyond the doorway is bright, harsh and unrelenting. (The technology required to get that shot are remarkable considering 1957 film stock and lenses.) And Wayne turns away and does that John Wayne walk to his horse while invisible hands slam the door shut, locking him forever outside.
What makes this great is that in 45 seconds without being lectured or told we understand so many things; the nature of heroes, the way some men are meant to only be alone, how single decisions can unhinge and change the trajectory of a life, decisions fueled not with logic but with emotion.
The Monkees
Click images for desktop size: "The Monkees"
I'm glad they never made a sequel to "The Searchers". It would have destroyed that perfect moment.
Who doesn't remember Steve McQueen in "The Great Escape"? When he's sitting on his motorcycle looking at the miles long barbed wired fence that is the only impediment to his freedom. The German army closing in on him, surrounding him. And that moment when he revs the bike up, spins it around and makes that unforgettable leap. A fails.
What propels the scene from cool to the frisson I'm talking about is that while McQueen lies tangled in the wire that this is not a failure, its just a set back. He'll escape and if needed he'll escape again. Freedom is our nature and it doesn't take greatness or even great determination for all of us to be seeking freedom until we finally succeed.
There is a difference between totally cool and the frisson that impacts and makes fact of the swirl of thoughts and emotions that circulate around us everyday. Clint Eastwood's "The Unforgiven" offersSex Kittens Go To College up the best example of this. Everyone remembers the final scene in the bar where Eastwood blows everything apart and there's that great confrontation between Eastwood and Gene Hackman where Eastwood hisses out the line, "I've killed women and children, just about everything that's lived or crawled and now I'm going to kill you."
That scene is just cool entertainment but the scene proceeding, the New Ponies
Click images for desktop size: "New Ponies" by Unknown
bit that sets all this up is the powerful one that cuts to the quick of our humanity.
The whole film has shown Eastwood to be extremely strong, strong enough to change his life for a woman he loves and after she passes away his strength carries him through to continue for the sake of his two children. The biggest change has been for him to avoid liquor at all costs. Eastwood listens to the girl who brings them their money. He listens to the atrocities Little Bill has perpetuated against Eastwood's only friend.
Against a silver streaked black and gray sky he listens and in his shock and pain he gets week. He takes a bottle of whiskey and in between his horrified questions he pours the whiskey down his throat. The camera takes a low angle as if to frame him heroically against dramatic sky. Eastwood's aged face and cracking voice destroy any illusion of heroism, it simply denies us the ease of assuming he's transforming into a mere beast.
And its in that moment that so much is revealed about ourselves. The little kid cheerleader who sees the whiskey as Eastwood's spinach. We know as he drinks he's turing into an indomitable killer. Life Is A Stage by WallColl
Click images for desktop size: "Life Is A Stage" by WallColl
Then there's the profound sadness. We see a man so overcome with grief at losing his friend that he destroys himself the only way he knows will work. Eastwood gives up the sobriety and humanity he has struggled to maintain for nearly a many years as he was a mad outlaw. He gives up what he has fought to become out of rage, loneliness and a love for another that is greater than the love he has for himself.
"A Man Who Was Superman" is a movie I hold in high regard. I seem to be pretty much alone in this. Its okay. I can always wait for the rest of the world to catch up.
"A Man Who Was Superman" has a lot of those cool moments. But it also has an explosive scene that plays so simply and elegantly that it speaks not only of talent but fortuitous happenstance.
The movie is about this guy who is stark raving bonkers. He dresses in bright Hawaiian shirts andTeenage Caveman chinos. This is his "Superman" outfit. Most of the time he is deliriously happy. He spends his days helping people, saving kids, catching purse snatchers, doing what he can to save the planet. He always smiles, remembers people and adores his life.
He has bad moments. He can't always fly because Lex Luthor has exposed him to kryptonite. And he has psychotic breaks. He lives in a condemned building. One morning the wreckers show up. He sees the bulldozers as carnivorous monsters. He fights them.
This fight lands him back in the mental hospital. They treat him. He's heals. The medicate him to at least hold his level of healing. Everyone is certain they are doing the best for him.
"Superman" becomes Mon Suk. Mon Suk shuffles through life. Not happy. Not sad, He simply is. He remembers the trauma that drove him to madness but it is a distant memory that he cannot touch. The drugs see to that.
In his madness Mon Suk was tracking down a beast that lived in the sewers. It turns out the beast was actually a patch of explosive methane gas. It blows.
Mon Suk is a witness to the explosion. Many people are hurt, house and cars catch a fire. The fire engines rushing to the scene get caught up in the explosion. There is no more help coming.
For every person injured there are ten spectators who watch.
Mon Suk watches too and sees that a little five year old girl who was "Superman's" friend is trapped in the fire, trapped on the third floor. And the drugs that keep him calm, that keep him in twilight Monkey by WallColl
Click images for desktop size: "Monkey" by WallColl
allow him to simply watch.
Helpless he turns and walks away, doing that drug induced shuffle, holding his briefcase to his chest. He walks away.
A friend goes to look for him and she finds Mon Suk at a garden hose. He's dousing his head and his clothes. At first she thinks he's gone mad again but then she realizes that he's planning to go into the fire and rescue the girl. I guess you can't kill Superman.
In that moment you realize that sanity does not always mean happiness and that sometimes it takes insanity to save the world. It rushes at you and forces you to identify with Mon Suk. It makes you realize we can all be something more than the rest of the world thinks we can be. Its beautiful and its frightening.

Meditating on movies always brings something out of me. Something I feel is good. Even bad movies can sometimes have that fleeting movement where happenstance has more art than theThe Amazing Collasal Man guys behind or in front of the camera. Moments that encapsulate life and meaning.
I love the movies.

Its been raining for 18 hours now. Hard rain. All the snow has melted and the ground feels like primordial ooze. The dogs all had groomer baths . . . gentle dog and giant dog also got haircuts. My puppy got her nails trimmed. They seem to enjoy ruining the clean look playing in the muck. They make me laugh and it will all wash off eventually.
I'm pretty much over the cold. One odd side effect. I seem to have expended so much energy fighting the cold that I'm irretrievably fatigued. It takes a huge amount of energy just to move.
It's nowhere near the fatigue from leukemia. I just don't like it. I don't like the feeling of wanting to just curl up in a ball and forget the world. The rain and mud makes me not want to take a walk with the dogs. I may have to anyway. Cold rain and mud are better than this feeling.
My friend's cold is still lingering! This worries me more than I'm worried about myself.
She basically had two days off. She had to drive an hour to a meeting (GO GO LITTLE NEW CAR!) and then we had a lot of errands to run but I would have hoped that it would have been a gentle enough time for her to recover more fully.
We picked up our new glasses. Just lenses, used old frames. They help me a lot. Even through the cataract. I have to wear them a couple of weeks to see if my eyes are stable enough to invest in the tinted bifocals I'm supposed to wear outside.

February 25, 2009

If two wrongs don't make a right, try three
Laurence J. Peter

4 CM a Second by Kabegami
Click images for desktop size: "4 cm a Second" by Kabegami
Walked to the bakery with the dogs yesterday. They sell bread, fresh bread, for twenty cents less a loaf then the supermarkets. That's twenty cents less than the ultra cheap tasteless gummy generic5 Biker Classics supermarkets sell.
When we got there I realized I didn't have any money. At least I made the discovery before I went in, so its a good thing I spared myself that bit of humbleness.
At first I had a bit of panic that I'd lost the cash. But it was on my desk at home, all happy to see me.
My friend has to be gluten free. She gets painfully ill if she makes a mistake. I never ate much bread before. Once in a while, maybe. Now bread has become a luxury thing for me. Toast is my new filet mignon. Plain bread m steak tatar.
Amazing what we miss when its denied. I never missed drugs or alcohol when I stopped them. I sometimes miss sugar, but not often. I don't mind artificial sweeteners. I do sort of miss fat and meat in a funny compulsive way. Fat is far worse for me than sugar. Its interesting that so many American foods are too high in fat.
One thing I discovered, early on in the regime, is that the super cheap non-brand foods are generally lower in fat than the high priced brand name lo-fat equivalents. Some of those cheap foods are even edible. A few taste just fine.

Last night while my friend is still trying to catch up to her deadlines, (she's feeling about 50% better. So am I.) I watched an old TV show with one of my wife's old flames as the featured actor. I Mooz
Click images for desktop size: "Untitled" by Mooz
supplanted him in her life. I thought the show was really funny. It wasn't meant to be. It put me in a good move to think that when people compared us, and he was a notorious pretty boy actor, they used to say we were equally good looking but that I was taller and fitter.
Curse me for having mirrors in the house! The tyranny of mirrors is in their truth. I remember hearing that he went bald . . . I'm not there yet.
The I watched the first episode of a 1941 serial, "King of the Rangers". It's an English-Whitney Republic serial and it was pretty good. Its pretty silly, even in the first episode. Its a western but set in that mystical place where guys still wear six shooters and Nashville cowboy duds while driving those great monster 1930's cars. The cars look like they weigh about 6 tons! Cars are used for speed but horses are the preferred transportation.2001
The plot is the Texas Rangers versus the Nazis!! For some reason, maybe war hadn't been declared or something, they aren't called Bogart
Click images for desktop size: "Bogart" by S4W
Nazis and there aren't any swastikas, but even a 6 year old would know. They give the Nazi salute and say "Hail!" instead of "Heil!" sort of thing.
The coolest bit so far was the meeting between the spies and the Overlords. The Overlords fly around in a giant Zeppelin! I guess no one ever looks up in this part of Texas . . . and when they meet with the spies, the spies fly to the zeppelin in a monoplane which has a big hook on the top. They hook onto the zeppelin then climb a rope ladder up to the ballon cockpit!
They didn't show how they get the plane off of the hook. I'm looking forward to that. I imagine the plane plummeting to the ground while the motor kicks in somehow. Planes can't do a reverse so I think the only way off the zeppelin has to be dropped!
The thing that drew me to the serial was the cast. It stars Hall of Fame QB "Slingin'" Sammy Baugh. That's even how they billed him. He was in the middle of his NFL career. He looks great especially Polar Light by Mr Zer0
Click images for desktop size: "Polar Light" by Mr Zer0
when he takes out bad guys with a flying tackle. He says his lines clearly, which is the most you can say about his acting.
The Washington Redskins must have been cringing every time their Superstar QB did a stunt. Back then they paid him nearly as much as a shop foreman. He was getting nearly $500 a week to be in movies!
The other big draw is his side kick is the cool Duncan Rinaldo (who's biggest fame was as the "Cisco Kid" in old time TV). Rinaldo really looks great as the Mexican lawman who's helping out the Rangers. Snake thin, very quick, dangerous AND friendly looking! Very cool. Sadly his job as the Mexican sidekick is to lose fights and get rescued. His appearance doesn't make that seem possible. He's the hero, or at least he should be.
Oh, basic plot. Tom King (Sammy Baugh) is a superstar college football player. While the Texas All2019-After the Fall of New York Stars are playing the Alabama Unnameds Tom's father is driving to Austin to deliver a list of spies and saboteurs while he listens to his son's game.
The spies shoot him. Why he was driving a convertible and why he made no copies of the list is not addressed. He's shot skids off the road and dies while Tom scores the winning touchdown.
There's no real great old time football footage here.
After the game Tom is changing when he gets a telegram telling him his father has been murdered. He quits school and joins the Texas Rangers to avenge his father. They make him a captain!!
The adventures thereafter are a bit contrived, even by serial standards. But they are done with great gusto and astonishing special effects. Great fires, huge explosions.
What I liked as well was that they cross the border between Mexico and Texas with no impediment at all! It's noticed that at one time or another Baugh and Rinaldo are out of their jurisdiction but its handled with a simple, "Don't worry. You're with me," lazzies faire. I think that even in 1941 there was at least a little more border protection but where would the excitement be in that.
I have to admit I'm looking forward to more of this.

February 24, 2009

If everyone is thinking alike, then somebody isn't thinking
George S. Patton

Igniting Colours by KGRZ
Click images for desktop size: "Igniting Colours" by KGRZ
The skanky cat came back.
It's snowing.
I'm sick with a cold.Maple Leaves at Mt. Takao, Kyoto, Komai Ki (Genki), 1747-1797
My friend is sick with her cold. She shared it with me.
And that brings it all up to date.
Pretty much.
The day is snowing and the snow looks like glitter gently raining down. Its still snow. Its still cold.
The Oscars were Sunday. Pretty horrible affair. The winners anyway.
I refuse to acknowledge any award that doesn't go to Marisa Tomei this year. Although even if I don't think much of Penelope Cruz there is something infinitely cool imagining the party afterwards. Her ex, Tom Cruise, covets an Oscar as much as his Faces
Click images for desktop size: "Faces" by Unknown
"Theatan" brain can crave anything and while he's trying to rebuild a career his wackiness threatens to take from him him having to congratulate Cruz at one of the Post-Oscar parties would have been astonishing.
I've tried to watch "Slumdog Millionaire" twice. Fallen asleep once and found cutting my fingernails more interesting the second time. Now I feel obligated to try again . . . nothing like movies as home work assignments.
Its pretty much the same with "Milk". Keep trying to watch it and keep getting distracted. Watching it has become another chore.
Heath Ledger got the Oscar . . . Peter Finch got one after he died for his role in "Network". Finch was at least good. Ledger's take on Joker, that nothing has to make sense in his entire performance He Was My Friend by Hebus
Click images for desktop size: "He Was a Friend of Mine" by Hebus
and consistency from day to day is a trivial thing when you're playing a madmen isn't anything I could appreciate.
I liked the tech awards though . . .
I finally did watch Truffaut's "La Nuit Americane". It won a best foreign film Oscar, back in the day. Back then they used to put the foreign winner as an automatic candidate for Best Picture the following year. None of them ever won so they dropped the idea.
A lot of my fears were justified. When I first saw the movie I went to the theater everyday for a week to see it. It solidified my ambitions. I was going to be an NFL running back who used his fame to promote his band and then when I retired from the NFL I was going to use my fabulous wealth to make movies. This little movie made me certain that's what I wanted and was going to do.Goldilocks and the Three Bares
The movie is great, up there with "Sullivan's Travels" as one of the best movies ever about making movies. Back then it was a film that inspired me and made me want to be something more than I was. Now, its just a great "film".
Watching it reminded me of something. Bernie Grant was a black member of Parliament. The first black member if I recall. I liked him and was seriously grieved when he passed away.
One of the crazier dreams he had that he let me be a small part of was to start an Arts and Entertainment Academy. Fancy as heck. Not to be just a school but an open place where kids could come and use the creative urges they were overwhelmed with. Dance, theatre, music, TV, film, whatever. A place to learn and a place to create.
Bernie even had a location picked. Cheap land behind the sewer processing plant up by Edmonton. My light involvement was in the recording studio and the theatre. The construction and equipment end.
He had the dream, the location and the people lined up to make it a reality.
Then the focus for his plan got shifted, at least by the money people, to the London Olympic Committee. I was involved in that too, until I quit. I thought it was, is and will be a lousy idea. The London Olympics seemed to be an ego and money thing. There wasn't going to be any lasting legacy for the kids. The all white, all upper class steering members wanted the ego and the money. The benefits to kids that they insisted were there were all Iron Snowflakes
Click images for desktop size: "Iron Snowflakes" by Unknown
a sham that only rich white guys who never talked to poor, minority, or working class kids could ever take seriously.
And then Bernie died. His widow tried to keep his idea alive but she lacked the charisma and drive. The new blood who took over Bernie's seat had different ambitions. Not that his desires and drives weren't okay but they didn't focus on the kids.
So the dream died. Vanished as if it never existed. I think the world would have shifted some if it had happened. There's be fewer criminals, because they'd have had a chance to be something else. There'd have been a rise in self esteem. There'd have been hope, not just for the kids in Haringay but all the kids around the country and then the world. To go to the Academy all you had to do was want to.
That was what I felt now watching "La Nuit Americane". It was watching dreams die. It was seeingHide and Creep the few things in my grandiose plans seem small and ridiculous. I know they weren't. I know a lot of people would kill to have some of the chances I had, the chances I missed and the chances I seized on and the ones I made for myself.
It might seem silly to most but I realize that the only accomplishments that I truly think were important were the things I helped others accomplish. The kids who got into school, the ones who played sports pro and the few who got to the Olympics. Even the bad movies and plays that my work helped get finished. The puppies I've found who became friends and family.
I guess that's why I was a good tech and never really wanted to be a director.

There's a drag about being sick. My friend's cold has hung on for well over a week. Mine was terrible yesterday but only bad today. I figure tomorrow I'll be close to well and by Thursday I'll, hopefully, be fine.
Alice 19th by H02B
Click images for desktop size: "Alice 19th" by H02B
One drag is that the dentist called. They had a cancellation and could see me then. But the stupid cold caboshed that.
I figure the dentist will add to but ultimately reduce my discomfort by at least 40%, at least for now. Maybe someone else will cancel next week.
I did get the Medical History form to complete. I hate that, reliving the past. Somethings I remember far too clearly. I remember it through my eyes, my feet, my hands and my heart. I don't much like recalling the past. It hurts.
I know I write a lot about the past but those are thoughts that come unbidden. I don't dredge through "back then" except when I need it to understand "now".
At least this medical history form seems cognizant of chemo and its effects on the body, teeth etc.
The final drag is that the sold is slowing my friend down at work. She missed a couple of 4 Horsemen of the Apocalypse inconsequential deadlines. She takes that sort of thing seriously. It distresses her. Then she had her first major conflict at the job.
Her boss retired last month. The job is now held by a woman wearing two hats, as a National VP and as a Regional VP. Its temporary but for right now . . . Her normal position is National VP. She seems to be trying to use the new regional position to entrench her position Nationally while subordinating the regional objectives to her other objectives.
By all accounts he can be pretty rude too.
It will pass but its silly which makes it a drag.
The final drag is skanky cat. I put food out for her. She eats it. Problem is I'm not dead cert its a female. I don't know if she vanished because she found better food and warmth elsewhere or if she vanished to have a litter. If she's around at spring I'll have to catch it/her and probably have to have it neutered. Stupid cats.

February 18, 2009

Why do you think we've rode together for so long?
Burt Kennedy

Dreams of Smoke
Click images for desktop size: "Dreams of Smoke" by Unknown
Finally wrapping up my thoughts about the Budd Boetticher Box Set.
I know I'm going on about them but this is an important body of work to me. Boetticher is anHigh Noon important director who makes films that not only help me to understand the movie making process but also give dense glimpses into the make up of people and the different perceptions people have of each other and of the world.
Besides they're great fun and Boetticher is a great story teller. I still Cute Pug
Click images for desktop size: "Cute Pug" by Unknown
think fun is a vital part of any great work of art, any masterpiece and just as important as variant views of the world.
And sometimes thinking about these stories brings insight and sometimes its just a way to avoid, if only for a little while, the steady stream of upsets that come into your life.
Its like William Blake and Kenneth Patchen new the "real" world we all live in but saw worlds beyond that, worlds just as real but not as easily obtainable. Movie maker Anthony Mann saw the world but barely noticed the people. For him mankind was just a natural part of environment, twisted and shaped by emotional forces as powerful as the winds and water that carve mountains and canyons. John Ford saw people as caricatures that were burnished by their environment; men who lived in the spectacular landscapes became capable of spectacular things, but they were always in battle. Peace was a thing to be strived for but it was Dreams of Water by LawnElf
Click images for desktop size: "Dreams of Water" by LawnElf
seldom granted except to those people on the fringe who were really just spear carriers in the great framework of life.
Budd Boetticher didn't understand the real world. His midnight admissions to mental institutions prove that. He understood the stage and he understood people. The world for him was vacuum where men drifted occasionally stumbling across love but most often just drifting waiting for a place to cling to, to hold and belong to.
The twenty first century has gone even further than the twentieth in isolating people from their environment. People exist and live in a place they create in their minds. Boetticher's insights into people seem even more valid today, at least to me, than they did back in the late 50's.
Understanding people, especially people in extremis is important. Personal communication is driftingGorath and rage is seizing to many people's hearts. Icy rage, killing rage too much of the time. When cowards are being foisted as hero's, when groups are being idolized instead of people its time to reassess and to grasp at understanding.
I think Boetticher supplies some of those keys. I think its important to understand his movies so that we can have a cleaner view of the guy sitting next to us. Understanding can bring contempt as well as love. Both emotions need a real basis for growing other than to be mired in surfaces and glitz.
You have to start somewhere.

I've been asked to explain a couple of terms: low menemic and high menemic. Northrop Frye, a Canadian literary critic coined the phrases in his "Anatomy of Criticism". He thought characters in novels could either be classified as low menemic - average people, the normal guy trying to just get by in this life; high menemic - the superior man, a character with all the tools to not only survive but to conquer, control and dominate any situation; and finally the mythic character - the man emboldened with near supernatural powers, he cuts a swath through the world near invulnerable.
The terms are pretty commonplace in criticism nowadays and are especially apt when discussing movies and genre films specifically.

After Van Cleef (Frank) makes his calm reasoned speech understanding what Brigade is doing the film quietly shifts. We leave the light dusty browns of the desert for foliage and greenery; the first WalpapersMania
Click images for desktop size: "Untitled" by WallpapersMaina
incipient signs of civilization and femininity.
As they enter the grove the arena is dominated by a large lightening stripped tree with two cross like branches. "A hanging tree," Roberts proclaims it. He makes some off the cuff "gallows" jokes and is gruffly rebuffed by Brigade, "You talk too much."
Steele still doesn't like any of these men but she's grown to accept them. She's still grieving her husband but, as Roberts put it, "She's a woman that needs a man." The men begin to turn to her for a softness that wasn't one of their needs in the desert, only a need now when they're in the shade of trees and greenery.
Roberts begins by saying, "Mrs Lane, I'd be obliged to look after you when we hit Santa Cruz." He then proceeds to tell her about his place up in the Secos, he repeats the story about the bible salesman explaining the word Amnesty to him and how after he gets Billy away from Brigade how he plans to start a new life.Grizzly
Steele is horrified at the idea of Roberts killing Brigade to get Billy. Even more horrified that Brigade is trading Billy's life for money. Steele goes to Brigade and confronts him and tells him how Roberts plans to kill him for Billy. Brigade takes it nonchalantly until she begins to berate him for being a bounty hunter. Brigade erupts with a cold desolate fury.
He used to be the sheriff of Santa Cruz. One day he threw Billy's brother, Frank, into prison. Frank swore to get even. The day came when Frank was released. His wife pleaded with Brigade to leave Santa Cruz, to go someplace with her and to start a fresh. While Brigade was out of town Frank came and kidnapped his wife. Frank hung her on the hanging tree.
Not surprisingly Steele is unprepared for this shocking story. Brigade ends any comfort with a chilly, Gamago
Click images for desktop size: "Untitled" by Gamago
"Goodnight, Mrs Lane." Unknown to him is that Roberts was in the bushes and overheard the entire conversation. It clearly impacts the bad man but its unclear in what way.
He talks with Whit (James Coburn). Whit wants to plan how to kill Brigade and snatch Billy. "Brigade ain't a man you can take head on," he says.
"It wouldn't be right to do him any other way," Roberts replies, "Don't worry. When the time comes I'll take care of it."
Then in one of the movies most memorable scenes Whit asks Roberts. "I was thinking, I sure would be obliged if I could come work for you at your place."
What happens next is purely predictable but satisfying all the more for that. People sometimes needHorrors of Spider Island to have things go the way we want them to. After all the tales of carnage and the tension building up to a carnage promised conclusion we need to see affection turn right.
"Work for me! You ain't working for me Whit!"
Defensively Whit protests, "I don't know much but I can scratch at the dirt and I slop hogs real good . . ."
"Whit, how long you and I been riding together?"
"I don't know," Whit pauses, "About two years I reckon."
"More like five! Why do you think that is?" Roberts asks.
With a shrug Whit answers, "Guess your kind of used to it."
"No Whit, I like you." "Really?" Whit answers surprised.
"You ain't working for me Whit. We're partners. Right down the middle. Now go keep an eye on Billy. I got thinking to do."
This scene in all its simplicity is the one that everyone who has ever seen the film always remember. Its nearly sad that we are most moved by a man begrudgingly admitting to friendship.
Come the dawn Roberts sends Whit to the rise to watch for Frank and his men. He then confronts Brigade. Roberts tells him he overheard his conversation with Mrs Lane. He tells him that Whit and he will back his play with Frank but when its over it won't make a difference. He's going to go right over Brigade to get Billy and get that amnesty.
Brigade is stoic and dismissive.
Its worth noting, Whit goes to look for Frank. He stands in some odd otherworldly place. The rear of Babies
Click images for desktop size: "Babies" by Unknown
his horse stands in the green comfort while he gazes out at the burning deadly desert. He watches a dust cloud appear and turns and rides back hard to the embracing coolness of the trees and the grass, shouting Frank's coming.
The group prepares. Roberts and Whit hide in the bushes. Whit is giving the "chore" of protecting Steele.
Brigade tosses a rope over the branch of the hanging tree . . .
When Frank enters the arena he sees his brother on a horse with his neck in a noose. Brigade stands next to the horse, totally exposed, a rifle in his hand.
Nastily Brigade explains the situation to Frank. Frank understands and says, "If that horse spooks you'll kill him!"
Brigade responds, "If his neck don't snap you'll have time to cut him down."House of the Damned
"This ain't right, Brigade. What happened between us was so long ago I near forgot about it!"
Brigade gives one of the scariest responses in movie history, "A man can do that." When a man suspends his humanity or denies it, when he places himself below a level there's nothing left to do.
Frank charges firing wildly. Billy's horse spooks and Billy is swinging, gasping from the tree while Brigade calmly raises his rifle and blows Frank out of the saddle.
Frank's men start to followup the charge but retreat under a withering hail of fire from Roberts and Whit. When they retreat Brigade pulls out his six gun and shoots a single shot to cut the rope. Billy collapses still alive.
While Brigade inspects his prisoner Roberts comes thundering up on his black horse he dismounts on the run making you wonder what he's running from or to.
"I come for Billy," he says.
Blowout at Exit 168 by Till Nowak
Click images for desktop size: "Blowout at Exit 168" by Till Nowak
Brigade says in the same dead humanity denying voice, "Come get him."
Brigade stands perfectly erect while Roberts advances, his hand ready to draw. Suddenly Brigade turns his back to Roberts, turns back and tosses him the keys to Billy's handcuffs.
Roberts is google eyed. Brigade says in a voice that tries to sound friendly but can't, "If you ever go against the law again it will be me comes looking for you."
Laughing Roberts says, "I'll remember that. I surely will."
The two outlaws, Billy and Steele gather up to make the few hour ride to Santa Cruz. Steele's future is undetermined, Billy's future will be decided by an old west court and Whit and Robert's have a dream.
Brigade has no future. He burns down the hanging tree, that hateful symbol.
From the top of the rise Roberts can't see the fire but he sees the black smoke curling to the sky.I died a thousand times He turns and rides with the group saying, "It figures."

Scott should have retired after this. Ben Brigade was the pinnacle of his acting career. He used every power he had and made it into a memorable character it was the finest acting job he was capable of and the finest of his career.
"Ride Lonesome" was a big enough hit that Ranown rushed to do a follow-up, "Comanche Station".
Maybe if I'd seen "Comanche Station" sometime removed from "Ride Lonesome" I'd have a different opinion of it.
It's a good movie, good enough for anyone to be proud of. Unfortunately fresh off of seeing "Ride Lonesome" it seems like a redux, a rehash.
This time Scott is a man searching for his wife for the last ten years. She's was captured by Comanches. Every time he hears of a white woman captive being offered for trade he heads to the hills with "two bucks worth of blankets and a winchester rifle" to rescue the woman. He's constantly disappointed that it is not his wife.
On the mission he's on this time he rescues Nancy Lowe, played by Nancy Gates.
The first night out she's starts to escape the memory of her capture even trusting Scott far enough to ask if he thought her husband would still love her even after she'd been held captive by the Comanche.
Scott's response is predictable, "If he's man enough he will."
They go to Comanche Station, the stage coach point where he runs into Claude Aikens, a scalp hunter, and Aikens two young gunmen. Scott had Aikens courtmartialed when they were in the Army together. Aikens clearly has a festering hatred for him. He also informs Scott and Gates that there is a $5,000 reward on Gates, offered by her husband. Dead or alive. Her husband wants her dead body so he could at least have closure and give her a proper burial.
In Like Flint by JW McGinnis
Click images for desktop size: "In Like Flint" by JW McGinnis
Aikens and the gunmen plan to ride along with Scott, they need the extra gun because the Comanche are on the warpath in retaliation for some scalp hunters raiding their camp and killing the women and children. When its convenient they plan to kill Scott and the woman. The plan to kill the woman so she can't bear witness to their murder of Scott.
The two young guns are an amalgamation of the two young guns in "The Tall T" and Robert's and Coburn. Skip Homier plays essentially the same role in both films!
They are given some chances but they don't ever explode like the other two films. Its satisfying but not mesmerizing.
Aikens is not as strong as other Boetticher villains. Aikens is a good actor and reaches as well as he Imitation of Life did in Howard Hawk's "Rio Bravo". Aikens another guy who became a star playing a whacky sheriff, his turn came in "BJ and the Bear"! He's competent and shows some promise but he doesn't inspire fear or hatred. He's just a bad guy.
Its actually a great film but it is not up to the greatness of the ones preceding it.
The ending is odd and seems to be going for some point I failed to see.
Aikens is bothered by the fact that a man would post a reward instead of hunting for his wife himself. Scott rebuffs him with, "if he'd done that, they'd both be dead."
Aikens keeps at it though.
At the end when Scott finally delivers Gates it turns out she has a child and that her husband is blind.

There's a decent biography on Boetticher to complete the box set. It didn't teach me anything new but it might be informative for some just meeting his work.
Boetticher's work is the thing. It is brilliant. Its sad that he never released another film except for "Legs Diamond" a movie I never really got. He wasted his life in his dream. He was trying to make a documentary biography about Carlos Suara, the great bullfighter. Aside from the fact that I don't find men fighting cows entertaining the movie was doomed and afterwards irrevocably when Suara died in a car wreck. Boetticher spun out of control after that but for one great brief period he was amongst the best that ever was.

February 16, 2009

I did him a hurt once
Burt Kennedy

Clarence Carter
Click images for desktop size: "Untitled" by Clarence Carter
The main problem with "Decision at Sundown" was that the whole movie was set in a town.
Civilization for Boetticher is best represented when it is shown as a roughly held together series of Die You Zombie Bastard shacks that bend but determinedly refuse to buckle under the desert winds.
Its odd that Boetticher can take a crew into the desert and we always feel centered and easily understand our location in relation to the rest of the world, but when he moves into towns its disorienting and confusing.
In "Buchanan Rides Alone" its hard to keep even the relationship of the hotel, saloon straight. And its relationship to the judge's home is an absolute mystery. Sometimes you can walk there but most of the time you have to take a horse.
It seems that Boetticher is making a strong statement about our relationship to cities and towns.
In "Buchanan Rides Alone" the town of Agry is a border town. A bridge with a hand painted sign (and no border guards) details the imaginary line between countries. Scott crosses the line into Agry. He is smiling, jovial clearly happy to be back in the USA. But for all his genial demeanour he wears the crossed bandoliers of the Mexican Revolutionary. He smiles but resists orders from the corpulent aggro sheriff.
You can see him resisting anger, insisting to himself that he's going to keep his happy mood at nearly any cost. In total its a brilliant economical way of introducing a character.
The story itself is a bit quizzical and too complicated for what's involved, filled with elections, trials, familial squabbles and far too many people!
It can't be discounted completely. For one thing there is a remarkable portrayal of Mexicans. They Surf
Click images for desktop size: "Surf" by Unknown
are presented as being as smart and courageous as the Americans and far more honest. Its a handsome portrait of the people and surprising in a film of this era where the only good foreigners were the base totally submissive ones. Foreigners who had any ambition were normally criminals or spies, an enemy.
Ranown must have realized they had some problems and they got Burt Kennedy to doctor the script. His hand shows in a couple of fascinating ways.
During the Scott's trial the sheriff (who has his eyes on stealing the $2,000 dollar "stake Scott was carrying to buy his dream ranch) asks him, "So you're just another hard case drifter willing to kill for money?" Scott's laconic answer id "You could say that."
Kennedy's other obvious contribution is the character of Pecos, beautifully played by L.Q. Jones. Pecos is fascinating, easy going, amoral, amiable and loyal - to a point.Empire Strikes Back
He's attracted to Scott because they're both from West Texas. He admires Scott's ability to speak with unabashed love for West Texas.
After the trial the sheriff has the innocent Scott escorted out of town by two gunmen who's job is to murder Scott. As they ride along Scott conceals his gloom over his impending death by waxing euphoric on the beauty of West Texas.
Pecos apologizes for having to murder Scott. Scott accepts the apology.
At the river bank the other gunman forces Scott to dismount and unsaddle his horse. Pecos asks the other gunman if there's anyway to avoid having to do this killing. He's told no, they have to do the "job".
Scott stands with his hands at his side and his back to his executioners. A shot rings out and Scott collapses. After a moment Pecos walks up to Scott and kicks Scott's boots. "You ain't dead," he says.
The shot that Scott figured had ended his life was from Pecos shooting his partner in the head.
They try and bury the dead gunman but the hole they dug fills up with water so Pecos straps the body high up in a tree.
Dangerous Curves by 3D Fiction
Click images for desktop size: "Dangerous Curves" by 3D Fiction
Before Scott can gather up and take off Pecos starts to deliver a eulogy to his victim. Its darkly macabre and very funny. Scott keeps waiting for it to end his eyes growing larger as he listens to Pecos. He says "Amen" to end the unbalanced "tribute" and the explanation to the deadman that Pecos just couldn't allow a fellow West Texan to die.
As they ride along Scott offers Pecos a partnership in his dream ranch. He tells Pecos he's riding back to Agry to get his stake that the sheriff stole. He assures Pecos that even if he doesn't follow him into town he's still going to be his partner in the ranch.
Amazingly for movies but actually pretty sanely, Pecos agrees to wait for him then! He lets the hero ride off to fight the bad guys alone and has no qualms or issues about it!
If he'd stayed alive for the entire movie Pecos could have given the film a needed lift.
When you have talent it shows up most when you try and learn from your mistakes. Randolph ScottDouble Indemnity was talking about retiring. Ranown decided to make a masterpiece. They succeeded.
When I was 11 I'd outgrown Captain Spaceman's Cartoon show. Channel 13 started showing 90 minute movies after school, "After School Theater" or something. It's where I learned to love Corman flics like "Teenage Caveman" et al. One week they were doing a Robin by DC Comics
Click images for desktop size: "Robin" by DC Comics
Western week. I remember seeing a mash up of "Cisco Kid" episodes disguised as a movie, even a Roy Roger's thing. The care that they selected these films was apparent. Its where I first saw the movie, "The Man From Laramie" Anthony Mann's revenge film where Jimmy Stewart gets a bullet in his hand: Crucifixion with hot lead. The only thing I got out of that film was a long living fear of having my body desecrated and a fascination with anatomy. I figured a bullet through the hand was far worse than death. Jimmy Stewart was a good enough actor to convince me I was right. The next day they showed "Ride Lonesome".
Even as a kid I was blown away. Even watching it on a B&W TV couldn't detract from the power. Two people who were no more than icons (Scott and Karen Steele), a crazy bad guy (James Best), A bastion of evil (Lee Van Cleef) and two guys I thought were really funny (Parnell Roberts and James Coburn).
Throw in some Indians and a plot that was merely "3 guys and a girl get chased by Indians and bad guys while they take another bad guy to jail, was primal enough to reach through to the lizard brain in any of us.
It was pretty shocking to see the movie again, some 20 years later, and see that things weren't quite that simple.
You can make a pretty good argument for Boetticher being a genius in the fact that he constructed a movie that could reach out and impact a child and an adult. Its not that easy to do with out maudlin Candy
Click images for desktop size: "Candy" by Unknown
pandering ala Disney. Nor is it a simple thing to inject such complex dreams into minds and dreams of people without making the process opaque and annoying.
I watched the movie a few times off of a VHS tape I made from some late night broadcast. It wasn't available anyway else. Seeing the DVD in an excellent reproduction of the Cinerama process was illuminating. With Scott's impending retirement from movies they clearly went all out.
The movie opens with Scott hunting Billy John. James Best is superb here. He'd match this performance with his equally superb performance a couple of years later in Sam Fuller's "Shock Corridor". It leaves me nonplussed that he wouldn't gain fame or recognition until he played the moronic sheriff in the "Dukes of Hazard" TV series. Flash Gordon COnquers the Universe
Billy John is aware that Scott (as Ben Brigade) is close by. He continues to sip his coffee and sits easy and relaxed.
We know he's the bad guy. All characters in Boetticher movies are organic. They look like they were grown in the earth and locked in there until they felt the need to roam around the stones and bones of the desert. Boetticher villains are vain, created not by nature but by man. Richard Boone affected a silken peacock green scarf, Chink a fiery red shirt etc. In low budget productions these are considered options. In the equally sparse world these movies inhabit they are bright beacons.
Billy wears natural dusty gray but affects a long eagles feather that droops down the back. In this world something natural being worn for a sense of élan is more depraved than silken scarves.
(Its interesting to note that you can still go to Western Costume and find, Glen Ford hats, John Wayne hats, etc. It was commonplace for stars to effect one style of hat and then use it as a symbol for their entire career. Scott wasn't allowed this. He always wore a distinctly different style. I once worked with a director who thought that any scene could be saved by having the actor wear a "silly hat". He swiped the concept from Preston Surges. Boetticher seems to use the inverse of the principal in his costume choices. In "Ride Lonesome" Brigade wears a more standard wide brimmed Stetson.)
Billy shot a man in Santa Cruz; shot him in the back.
Billy is calm. He's prepared an ambush for Brigade. Three of his buddies are hiding in the sandstone rock ready to blow him apart. Brigade defuses the trap by the simple measure of assuring Billy that Desert Blooms
Click images for desktop size: "Desert Blooms" by Unknown
before they get him he will surely cut Billy down before he dies. Its no bluff.
In that one moment its apparent there's a radical change here. Previously Scott played nothing but low menemic characters, normal men pushed by circumstance to be something more than they ever intended to be. The confrontation with Billy establishes as a high menemic character, the man of will and talent.
It also sets up expectations of Billy's character, something of a coward, something of a rattlesnake, someone easily led.
Brigade starts the long task of dragging Billy back to Santa Cruz to be hanged. He lets Billy ride free, except for a pair of heavy handcuffs. Billy spends the time reminding Brigade of his brother, the dangerous brother Frank who is, no doubt, tailing them now rushing to catch up and free him.
They stop at a stage way station. Suddenly Brigade is ambushed! Billy is sure it is his brother FrankThe Fortune Cookie but it turns out to be someone Brigade knows; the outlaws Sam and Whit. (Roberts and Coburn).
Surprisingly Roberts is every bit the physical match for Brigade, broad shouldered, tall and moves with an athletic grace. Whit is tall, gawky but clearly efficient within his strictly limited range.
There is a tense moment when Roberts gathers up Brigades rifle. He's garrulous and chatters about meeting him out here.
Brigade listens, introduces Billy. Roberts says, "I heard of you. You're not as small as I figured you'd be."
Brigade says, "A man needs a reason to ride this Country, Boone." Stating his question as a fact.
Robert's response is equally laconic. "That he does. Can see what yours is." and then he casually tosses Brigade back his rifle.
Suddenly Karen Steele steps out of the Stage House yelling at the men to clear out! To punctuate her sincerity she fires her rifle sending a bullet uncomfortably close to the group. They scarcely react.
It pleases me that during the filming Steele and Boetticher were in love. In the movie she's the other icon, the tough blonde who should have been born in the noir 40's. She's soft, not brittle but strong and capable. She lives her life without a plan but lives it to the extreme.
Now she does not want 3 outlaws and a low life bounty hunter as her guests. She only wants the man she loves, the stationmaster to return from rounding up stray horses. She doesn't want him greeted by this motley crew.
Before there can be a serious confrontation the stage coach approaches. Roberts assures Brigade The Helper
Click images for desktop size: "The Helper" by Unknown
that they were not there to rob it. When the coach gets closer they see that the driver is dead, an Indian lance through his chest. The stage crashes into the corral but rights itself.
The men open the door and apparently everyone inside is dead. Surprisingly, while the men stare in silence, it's Billy who yells out to Steele, "Don't come out here! Ain't nothing for a woman to see!"
It strikes as discordant tone to have the bad guy be the only character who reacts to the woman's presence. It hurts us in our need to view Billy as merely scum.
Steele still wants the group to move out. She insists she is going to stay to wait for her husband's return. Until a group of Indians show up. They want to trade a horse for Steele . . . they play along with it until Steele discovers the horse they want to trade for her was the one her husband was riding when he left the station the day before.
Accepting her loss she agrees to travel with the stoic Brigade, his trophy and the two comicalFrom Hell It Came outlaws. Travel with them back to a distant civilization, a civilization that seems to make them all uneasy.
They travel. Roberts rides with Brigade shattering at him non-stop. At one point he tells them why they were riding this forbidden territory. It appears that there is not only a bounty on Billy John. They are also offering unconditional amnesty to anyone who brings him in.
It seems Roberts already has a patch of land up around Secos. Its nothing now but he plans to "run some cattle and work the dirt" until it is "someplace that a man can belong to."
While they're talking on the far distant sand hills some figures converge and begin to trail the group. They tiny shadows seem to be ignored by Roberts and Brigade. Its just one of the ways Boetticher uses the Cinerama screen and its great depth of field. For the most part it is used to show the vast panorama and to frame the men with it in such a way that they seem to dwarf the EndEffected_02-Envy.jpg
Click images for desktop size: "End Effected" by Envy
immensity of the world by force of will.
The indians weren't ignored. Brigade interrupts the conversation by telling Roberts there's an old adobe corral just over the next rise and they ride like demons to get into it while the tiny shadows start to converge on them resolving into a murderous pack of Indians.
The adobe corral is a cool set. A skeletal reminder of civilization conquered. The only thing that remains are the bricks that were made from the surrounding dirt. The four ride like demons to get to its thick walls while Brigade plays skirmisher and lays back firing efficiently into the onrushing Indians.
After beating back the Indian attack they settle in for the night. Brigade sets with his horse. Brigade is the only one Steele seems comfortable being around, She asks how his horse is doing. Brigade explains in a way that seems to be as much describing himself as the animals condition. "His legThe Ghost of Frankenstein ain't broke. He just won't get up. He's got it in his head that its all over and he's just waiting to die."
"What can you do for him?" Steele asks.
"Not much. Sit with him. Let him now he's not alone and hope he'll realize he can get up if he wants to." Brigade answers.
Later the horse does finally stand but only after Brigade has given up hope. The horse stands because Roberts saves Brigades life from Billy. As a sardonic joke Roberts fires off a round from his rifle in response the horse almost leaps to its feet. Power of life coming not from loving attention but from negligent bad bahaviour?
Roberts also uses the stop over to wax lovingly, if pornographically, about the psychology and beauty of Steele. Whit looks at Steele with different eyes after Roberts Rhapsodic reveries.
They also wonder why they're traveling out in the open when they all know that Frank is in hot pursuit. "its like he wants Frank to catch up to us!"
Frank (Lee Van Cleef) has been in hot pursuit with three of his men. He's run his horses near to death, but when he reaches the adobe corral he suddenly realizes he can slow down. "I did Brigade a hurt once. He's not taking Billy to hang, he's using him to get me. Water the horses and lets get some sleep. There's no hurry now. He'll wait for me."

I'll try to finish up the analysis of the Budd Boetticher Box Set in my next post. This one seems to be getting long.

Brown by Benoit Vanneuville
Click images for desktop size: "Brown" by Benoit Vanneuville
My back is better.
We picked up the new car on Saturday. Its pretty and seems to fit my friend well. Hoping it can reduce some of the tension that's been crawling up our spines and into our brains.
Only two things wrong with it so far. It was advertised as cruise controlled. Cruise Control is standard on it. But there's no cruise control!
Driving it home when I got out to open the gate saw a lot of white smoke coming from the wheel well. To me the smell and smoke meant a dragging brake! But there was no excessive heat from the brakes. I waited a half hour and checked again. Still no big heat or remnants of same. No sound like bad bearings or signs of the tire rubbing anything.Godzilla VS The Sea Monster
They checked the brakes before hand. Maybe they left something dangling. Its still under warranty so I'm waiting to call them to see if there's anything else to complain about.
I still plan to write them a letter of appreciation.
The puppies are all fine here.
One blast of negative news. My puppy's aunt was laid off today . . .
Makes me real happy that the Republican pigs did everything in their power to destroy the effectiveness of the Stimulus bill and then after gutting it still bragged about how they'd made it ineffective.

February 13, 2009

There are some things a man just can't ride around
Burt Kennedy

Betty Pabe by Olivia
Click images for desktop size: "Betty Page" by Olivia
Until Sergio Leone unraveled the western with his "Dollars" movies there were three kings of the genre. John "He made westerns" Ford, Anthony Mann and Budd Boetticher (pronounced bet-ek-er).
John Ford remains something of an icon, nearly a legend. Anthony Mann found the westerns tooCreature from the Black Lagoon small! He moved into epics like "El Cid" and Spartacus (the movie that launched Stanley Kubrick who took over when Mann died during production).
While Mann is appreciated he doesn't have the fame and accolades he deserves. Boetticher has been mainly ignored. A few guys, like me and a couple of other western aficionados have been playing him up forever, in just the same way I played up Preston Sturges, as a man who was an entertainer first and through his entertainment managed to produce first quality art. (Art, there's an ugly off putting Solitary Hunter
Click images for desktop size: "Solitary Hunter" by Unknown
word for most. It makes it sound like the opposite of fun, like something you can't just enjoy but a thing that has to be approached with awe and a tinge of fear. Bad art (Cecile B DeMille, I think, wants that aura. Sturges and Mann and Ford wanted you to have a rollicking good time first.)
But all in all Boetticher has been ignored. People still catch some of his movies on TV and marvel but it's usually too late in the movie for them to remember the credits.
As DVD sellers are desperate for product suddenly guys like Boetticher are getting some notice. It started when they finally discovered the Batjac library. Batjac was John Wayne's short lived production company. It was designed to make money but Wayne didn't have much of a head for Boat Girl by Scott Jackson
Click images for desktop size: "Boat Girl" by Scott Jackson
business.
I like the idea of great films being made while guys sit on the beach sharing a bottle, the deals finalized with a handshake and maybe, somewhere down the line we draw up a contract to appease those union guys. That's filmmaking I can appreciate.
When John Wayne died no one had any idea where the films even were! They found the Batjac library about 2005, stashed in one of the old Hollywood film vaults. There wasn't much of interest there but there was the Randolph Scott. Lee Marvin western "7 Men From Now." It was the first release from Batjac and got an excellent release, capitalizing on the fact that this film was never on TV and unseen since 1956. Tied into the John Wayne legend it did okay.
"7 Men From Now" was also the first collaboration between, Scott, Harry Joe Brown, Burt KennedyThe Curse of Frankenstein and Budd Boetticher.
It wasn't readily apparent but this was a stew that would grow into a gorgeous monster.
The disc didn't set any records but it made enough to justify gathering up the other RANOWN films (RAN-dolph Scott and Harry Joe Br-OWN=RANOWN) and making an interesting box set. Even though none of these films run over 72 minutes they're all on separate discs. The only extra of note is an okay talking head documentary about Boetticher.
The disks are all wide screen and done well enough. Since my memories of all these films are from TV the bright color and widescreen is a heady enhancement.
For Burt Kennedy "7 Men From Now" was his first produced screenplay. He learned a lot from it. He avoided the mistakes it made for the rest of his career. Kennedy eventually moved into directing, working in TV until he got a shot with "Return of the Seven" a sequel of sorts to "The Magnificent 7". The he exploded with the chilling western, Cherry Red with Butterfly
Click images for desktop size: "Cherry Red with Butterfly" by Anonymous
"Welcome to Hard Times" and the "Support Your Local Sheriff" and "Support Your Local Gunfighter". He even did an adaptation of Jim Thompson's brilliant pulp novel, "The Killer Inside Me."
Kennedy was in his mid 30's when he churned out "7 Men From Now". It was a learning experience. He used it to learn so he could now write some awesome things.
Boetticher was a hanger on fringe director. His last job before directing was as a Matador down in Mexico! Somehow he used this to get into Hollywood show biz.
He did maybe a dozen B type adventure films. Nothing truly astonishing from any I've seen. Then he had a small hit with his autobiographical movie, "The Bullfighter and the Lady." The movie didn't impress me, more because of my distaste for bullfighting then anything else. But the guy had learned how to tell a story.
He started to make westerns. His first was the Audie Murphy movie, "The Cimarron Kid". It wasThe Cycle Savages alright. It stepped him up to better budgets and better actors, like Glenn Ford in "The Man From the Alamo".
But it wasn't until "The Tall T" that he really exploded.
"The Tall T" is a movie that moves you in many different ways, few of which you could readily anticipate. Part of this is due to some astonishing acting. Part of it is due to Randolph Scott acknowledging the limits of his abilities and his willingness to see himself as the centerpiece of a project and not just a movie star.
"The Tall T" starts off with Scott pretty much playing the hapless buffoon. His buffoonery is amplified over and over. The only typical "manly" attribute he's given is honor.
Instead of going for a drink he goes to by the candy he promised a young boy he'd pick up. When he makes a bet with his old boss (his horse against a prize brahma "seed" bull) to ride the bull Scott looses and then dives into a water trough to avoid getting trampled. He rises from the trough looking like a rodeo clown.
Next we see Scott walking the 20 miles back home. His friend, Ringtoon, picks him up over the complaints of his chartered passengers. They pull into Scott's destination. The stage line office where Scott plans to borrow a horse and deliver his candy to the 9 year old boy.
Suddenly the movie transforms. It becomes galvanic with the appearance of Richard Boone, as gang leader Frank, and Henry Silva as Chink. The names are important. They are as much adjectives as they are nouns.
Program Cover by Maxfield Parrish
Click images for desktop size: "Program" by Maxfield Parrish
Boone is magnificent, quietly deadly, thin and easily quick, totally self aware and, by implication, totally self obsessed, and most of all charismatic. Silva, who became famous for playing noir-ish type deranged gangsters brings the edge of urban psychosis juvenile delinquency to the wild mountain scenery.
When the stage coach pulls into the station they are robbed by Frank, Chink and Billy Jack. Scott stands by helpless and ineffectual while Chink kills his friend Ringtoon.
They've already killed the station master and the 9 year old boy. Billy Jack takes the candy Scott bought for the kid and happily eats it. They dumped the bodies down the well, polluting the only water for miles. They refuse Scott the right to give his friend a "proper burial". Scott is forced to dump his friend into the well.
Its clear that Frank plans to kill Scott and the two passengers; the newlywed Mims. Mrs Mims is anThe Cabinet of Dr Caligari heiress. Her father owns the richest copper mine in the territory. Her husband bargains with the robbers by telling them this, even outlying a plan where the robbers can collect a huge ransom for the woman. In effect he's selling his wife, trying to barter her for his own life. She remains unaware of this.
Boone decides to follow through with this plan, asking for 50,000 in ransom. Mims' is relieved to be out of immediate danger and proud of himself for concocting such a masterful scheme to extort money from his father-in-law.
Mrs Mims is played by the lovely Maureen O'Sullivan, best known for playing the primally sexy Jane in the Weismuller Tarzan flics. Here she startlingly transforms herself into a dowdy, mousey subservient sub-human thing. She reacts, clearly, not with her heart but with what her mind tells her that her heart should feel. Its a wonderful performance.
To Chink's disappointment Frank doesn't allow him to kill Scott and put him in the well. At first that seems to be a mere plot contrivance. You can't kill the hero, sort of thing. It might have been that but it is used effectively to show what the film is really about, the revelation of character. The make up of humanity and the masks we use in order to live each day in a savage barren world. With that intent Boetticher steps very close to genius just for making the attempt.
The film plays out. The scheme plays out. It never cheats. It never loses its tension. What the story does to is astonish and surprise.
Disruption by Krabban
Click images for desktop size: "Disruption" by Krabban
The thrills start with Boone explaining to Scott that he kept Scott alive because he liked him. Scott works hard to contain his disgust at being "liked" by this criminal.
Boone doesn't notice. He tells Scott of the hours of tedium riding with young guns like Chink and Billy Jack. How they never have dreams beyond a bottle and a woman. And Boone is weary of that sort of conversation. He forces Scott to talk about his ranch.
True to the sociopath Boone turns Scott's wistful memories of his "place" to reflect on his own need to belong somewhere to have a part of the world where he belongs, that is absolutely his.
This small exchange makes us start to like Boone. It sets us up for the next scene.
Mims returns with Billy Jack. Their errand was successful. His father-in-law will raise the 50,000 and ransom his daughter. The three outlaws are joyous at the impending wealth. In a burst of generosity Boone tells Mims they don't need him anymore. He's free to go.The Decline of Western Civilization
Mims is stunned, but he can't stop talking. He tries to make Boone see what a brilliant idea this is. How much he will be able to speed up the money collection. He can even lead the father-in-law back to the money drop off.
Affably Boone agrees with him, nearly compliments him. Mims looks at the shack that imprisons his wife and says, "I should say goodbye. No, it's best I get going right away and get this done." He can barely conceal his glee as he mounts up and rides away.
Boone's performance is unsettling. He seems genuine and sincere but underneath the tone is the unhinged cruelty of a man who has had a lifetime of living with his mental disease and no longer recognizes it as a disease but merely a part of his life and personality.
Everybody but Scott, who is disgusted, is ecstatic. O'Sullivan comes out of the shack at the sound of all the laughter. When her husband reaches the top of the hill he turns and waves.
Now the first time I saw this scene my stomach dropped, like when you're playing Mario Brothers and you send the little guy jumping across a chasm and he misses and he plummets to his electronic death.
Boone stops smiling and says, "Bust him, Chink." Instantly Chink stops laughing and fires his rifle kitting Mims. Before he can finish falling Chink draws his six gun and shoots him twice more.
O'Sullivan shrieks in terror. Boone is stunned.
"What's wrong with her?" he says nonplussed. He speaks to her like he was talking to a slow child. "Lady, you should be thanking me for this. That man sold you. Do you hear me, lady? He sold you!" Then, rather annoyed, "She should be thanking me for ridding her of a thing like that husband of Ali Landry
Click images for desktop size: "Ali Landry"
hers."
"He was her husband," is Scott's laconic reply.
"That don't mean never mind," Boone grumbles, "it don't mean he's a man."
O'Sullivan gets her scene too, where she seems to spark inside her dowdy face and confess she's not crying for her dead husband but for herself. Now she thinks she is doomed to be forever alone. Good stuff. Touching and not jarring the mood.
Scott continues as a low menemic hero up through the end. His dispatching of the two youngsters is violent. More so that only because the deaths of Mims and Ringtoon were shown before. This is the 50's so the gore is only implied but the implication is horrendous enough.
When the two young guns are dispensed with and Boone is miles away O'Sullivan wants to run away, escape. Its a sensible plan. Scott rebuffs her with the line, "There are some things a man just can't ride around." And he plans to murder Boone.
Boone trumps him. He returns to the hideout, money bags stuffed with cash. He discovers his The Devil's Bride henchmen savagely murdered and then falls into Scott's trap. Instead of desperately fighting back he complies with Scott's demands to drop the money and his gun but he keeps his back to Scott and walks to his horse. "You won't shoot me in the back. Your not that kind of man."
And he rides off.
In some ways I would have preferred that would have been the ending. Boone stirred up so many ambivalent feelings that having him simply ride off would have been totally satisfying. But this was the 50's of Joe McCarthy and Richard Nixon. Bad guys couldn't ever just get away with it.
Boone rides out of sight and pulls his rifle from its scabbard and gallops back into camp where Scott blasts him out of the saddle. Scott and O'Sullivan walk to their horses gradually growing closer together.
For a B feature, "The Tall T" was a success. A lot of people going to see it instead of the A feature it Blueprint by Louie Mantia
Click images for desktop size: "Blueprint" by Louie Mantia
was played with.
After directing a couple of episodes of "The Count of Monte Cristo" TV show. (!) RANOWN wanted another movie. They rushed out "Decision at Sundown".
After the high achievements of "The Tall T" this was a let down. Burt Kennedy didn't do the script. This movie was pretty formulaic. Stranger rides into town makes complacent town people reassess their life etc. The interesting parts are plentiful. Scott was called on to play a psycho reminiscent of Howie Kemp, Jimmy Stewart's character in the great "Naked Spur". Its too nuanced a character for Scott to altogether pull off.
The movies not a waste and is enjoyable; but that's all.Dinosaurus
For the next one they bought Kennedy in to punch up an interesting but formulaic script' "Buchanan Rides Alone".
More of that next time and then the rest of the box set.

My back is about 95%. It usually is. No pain if I don't move to fast and I no longer have to crawl up my own body to stand up. Except I have a cold. I'm fighting it pretty well.
Tomorrow we pick up my friends new car. Getting stoked.
Beau coup walking today WITHOUT A DOG! Getting license plates, checks, the usual drill. You have to work for everything even the things you've earned.

February 2, 2009

Pittsburgh Steelers 27 Arizona Cardinals 23

Ginevra de Benci by Da Vinci
Click images for desktop size: "Ginvera de Benci" by Leonardo Da Vinci
And wasn't that one of the cruddiest Superbowls ever.
Definitely in the top 5. If it weren't for the final 10 minutes it would have been number 2. TenWeekend Murders minutes isn't a game.
The grand finale of the season was partially ruined by nightmarish bad officiating. When one team uses two challenges to get two horrific calls over turned you do have reason to question the ref's impartiality.
Still the most jaw dropping calls were the non-ejections of two Steelers. Their dirty play was disgraceful, a bad example to kids. Virtual Girl
Click image: "Virtual GIrl" by Wallpaper Collection
The worst was allowing James Harrison to remain in the game. Driving his fist into a player who was down on his knees is terrible but then to hit the guy in the throat while he's staggering to get up deserves the most powerful punishment.
James Harrison has worked hard to play this game. He had a magnificent season. For me it will be forever tainted by his twisted and dangerous antics.
The Cardinals' play calling was absurd. I still can't figure out what they were thinking of. Their most successful drive was off the no huddle and exploiting the brilliant play of Larry Fitzgerald, Bolden and Breaston. Then they forgot about it.
When all they had to do was stop the Steelers for two minutes they went into a weak prevent instead of maintaining the inspired play that got them the lead. The coaching got them to the Superbowl but the coaching cost them the championship.
Rockwell Poncho by Paul Gilligan
Click images for desktop size: "Poncho Rockwell" by Paul Gilligan
I managed to miss Bruce Springsteen . . .
Now comes that fallow part of the year. They'll be the Football Combine in a couple of weeks. There's enough Trojans invited to make that mildly interesting. I'll be curious about Clay Matthews and Mark Sanchez.
I'm one of those who think that Mark made a mistake in entering the draft early. I honestly think that a senior year could have seen him as at least a Heisman finalist. It would have let him learn to control his emotions and set him up for a solid NFL career.
As it is now I think he'll get the signing bonus he craves but will either set on the bench for two years, which would not be a bad thing, or get thrown to the lions too soon and end up shuffling around as a back up until he gets a fair chance somewhere down the line.Wicked Wicked
I still hope for the best for him. He is a fine young man.
Then there'll be the draft in April which is always lightly amusing. I wonder if USC can beat last years record for first round picks.
There's baseball season and there's spring ball and then a dearth until August.
Nice cycle of life. I don't think I would want to change it.

Today I plan to watch a movie, "Outlander". Its about a spaceship that crashes on Earth during the Iron Age and mixes the Space Man up with some Vikings who have to work together to kill a space monster.
There's this sci-fi writer, David Drake, who wrote a book with a near identical idea. Except in his book there was no space man, only the space monster. The monster was a baboon like creature, slightly larger than man sized and incredibly viscous.
The monster lands in ancient Rome and is hunted by Gladiators!! Drake is too prolific (I can't even remember the title of this book) to be great but he has written a couple of great books. This one and "Redliners".
What made this one great was the history of Ancient Rome he threw in not only for atmosphere but to advance the plot.
The gladiators aren't horrified by the creature, but like the mice in the Sufi legends seek only the most expedient professional means of killing it. Their vengeance and anger has no place in their plans to destroy something bigger and stronger than they are. They move like Gladiators, with no fear but only the need to finish the task.
Dogs
Click images for desktop size: "Dogs" by Unknown
Great book, I wish I could remember the title . . .

I was hoping that we'd hear about the car loan by now. The loan officer doesn't seem to be in. So we have to be patient.
I hate being patient sometimes. There should be no problems at all but with the economy the way it is now I trust banks even less, which is something I thought would be impossible.
My friend needs that car.
I need for her to have what she needs.
The dogs could care less.

February 1, 2009

Baseball, it is said, is only a game. True. And the Grand Canyon is only a hole in Arizona. Not all holes, or games, are created equal
George F. Will

Now You See Him
Click images for desktop size: "Now You See Him" by NFL Films
My friend got her new car yesterday. Not really, not yet but all is nearly finished.
The car lot was pretty interesting. The lot itself was just about a quarter mile long and it had fourThe Stuff rows of cars jammed side by side. Just a huge amount of cars.
Their system is that you inspect a car and then go to the main office where you give the the number of the car you want. They give you the key, copy your driver's license and that's about it. You drive the car as long as you want and then take out the next one you're Zathara
Click images for desktop size: "Zathara" by DC Comics
interested in.
RAH! No sales pressure at all. There's was a windy snow storm yesterday and the place was still packed! One of the cars we were interested in was sold wile we were there! We drove about 90 minutes to get there based on a recommendation and was very glad for the experience.
We checked out 6 cars. All makes, all models there for easy comparison. Aside from the thirty mile an hour winds and blinding snow it was a great experience.
After you pick the car you want you have to sit down with a salesman . . . that was painless too. The only thing that was tried to sell to us was a warranty. Its a good warranty but hyper-expensive. A thousand bucks for 2 years! Since its also like 90 minutes away I didn't see much value to it but Ninety Degrees by A Brito
Click images for desktop size: "Ninety Degrees" by A Brito
did think my friend should get the 6 month warranty to get into spring.
My friend went to the bank Friday evening. Did all the loan stuff. The guy said there should be no problem but it was too late to get the final approval. If he doesn't see a problem I'd ho[e that means there won't be any problems.
My friend was totally chuffed but a little bit dismayed that her favorite car was also the cheapest car we looked at! She felt even better that a local dealership had the identical car with 20 thousand fewer miles for FOURTEEN THOUSAND DOLLARS MORE!
The way this place works is that they get the car in and just set it in the lot. When the car is purchased they throw it into the shop, detail it, tune it new tires and do any work they find. You get to say any problems you saw. Like I pointed out some light staining on the rear seats and felt reallyThe Unholy Four anal for doing so, but so what.
Then in a week to 10 days you go and pick the car up. Seems odd at first but also seems incredibly fair.
Since my eyes got to bad to drive its been a long time since I got to shop for a car. It was fun, especially doing it this way. I was tired but not in the usual weary way that car salesmen usually inflict.
On the way home we stopped at Taco Bell to celebrate. She had gluten free bean tacos (yeah, they make them) and I had a bean burrito, meximelt and a chicken taco.
When we got home we continued to celebrate - she took a nap and I shoveled snow. Since I keep the yard so well shoveled out it only took me about a half hour to shovel the two inches of snow that fell. As soon as I finished it started to snow again!
My friend's nap was cut short. My puppy was sleeping with her and my puppy likes to cuddle, except she so big and so strong that her cuddling has the usual effect of pushing you off the bed!
So we watched the Chinese movie "Ip Man". Ip is best remembered today as the guy who first taught Bruce Lee.
The film was very good. Donnie Yen is still amazing. His hand speed is staggering.
The first two thirds of the movie are supposed to be pretty accurate. They had the two legendary episodes in Ip's life that I knew about: Ip fighting a swordsman armed with a feather duster and his famous fight with ten Japanese karate experts where he thrashed them all without ever being touched.
Marvelous recreations better than I had imagined from just reading about them. Like the final third Gothic
Click images for desktop size: "Gothic Alien" by Unknown
of the film which is a weird amalgamation of fantasy and fact, if that wasn't the way it really was this is the way it should have been.
Good stuff and a good movie to finish a celebratory day to.

Today's the Superbowl. The end of football for another year.
Once again the Superbowl is in a fair weather city. I always sort of wish the game were played in a driving snowstorm, an ice bowl, a real pit where the intensity would have to build and it could become a savage contest of men and nature.
While I don't think this game will be as bad as the Steelers-Seahawks debacle I don't expect a very good game.
The Steelers have all the tools to stage a massive blowout. If Heinz Ward is 80% or better it will be a long turgid day for the Cardinals.
The Cardinals just don't match up well. Their offense is too quick strike to wear the Steelers down. I expect Larry Fitzgerald to exploit an overly aggressive Troy Polamanu and avoid the shut out but Tombs of the Blind Dead that's about it.
There is an X Factor. Kurt Warner. He's been here before and knows he will probably never get here again.
He's won strong and lost to Tom Brady is Brady's first start and the beginning of his legend. He could rise up angry and dismantle the dream but it seems to miraculous.
Even though the Cardinals have been bigger underdog's than this in every single one of their playoff games. No one thought they could handle Carolina and felt certain that the Eagles would trounce them easily.
There's a pretty good chance the game will go to the back ups. Rothlisberger still holds the ball too long. His astonishing effectiveness on third and long this season justifies it but it makes him vulnerable.
Warner will have a hard time surviving the blitz. When it gets down to back-up QB's Matt Linehart World Wide
Click images for desktop size: "World Wide" by Unknown
still comes up short against Steeler back up Byron Leftwich.
It maybe herd like but I see the Steelers covering the spread in almost every scenario. That doesn't please me at all.
The half time show. A good reason to hate Janet Jackson and Justin Timberlake. Their nipple ring fiasco ensures that we will never see decent bands at the Superbowl. A strong performance by Tom Petty last year just proves to those old dinosaurs in the NFL (and I've met too many of the old untrustworthy bastards) that this is the ticket.
Bruce Springsteen . . . does anyone care? Springsteen's cred with me drops even lower, that he'd do such a gig smells like sell out.Under Age
He couldn't possible be as bad as Paul McCartney (the Superbowl and an aged Beatle??) and no one could be horrifying as the Rolling Stones but this should be an incredibly dreary show. I wonder if he opens or closes with Reagan's fave tune, "Born in the USA".

Before that we still have some errands to run while we have the rented car.
My friend will be gone for 3 days next week. Need FOOD for ME!
Its been so long that I've been able to drive I'm used to having to walk a few miles in bad conditions to feed myself, but there's no sense in being macho all the time.

January 30, 2009

One lives in the hope of becoming a memory
Antonio Porchia

Museum: Randor the Red by Artix Entertainment
Click images for desktop size: "Museum: Randor the Red" by Artix Entertainment LLC
Went to sleep last night certain I was going to wake up with a cold; scratchy throat, throbbing sinuses. I woke this morning feeling pretty much the way I always feel. I credit Linus Pawling andThe Manitou Vitamin C.
For some reason I found my thoughts stuck, not on the Superbowl, but on Blake, Patchen, Corso and Chandler. I like them because they saw a huge vista of the world that was near inclusive and set out to describe them in terms and ways that were clean and simple. Accessible. They knew it was important to see this world in the cadence they saw it.
I think that Blake's "Visionary" works got too wrapped up in TOADS
Click images for desktop size: "TOAD" by Unknown
Swedenborg to fully succeed in that. The mysticism lost me somewhere and its easier to blame Swedenborg than to see if the lack of comprehension is a failing in me.
Conversely I like Cocteau because all of his "revelations" are simple and obvious but he dressed them up in fine brocades and wild flowers to make them seem like more than they were.
I find it odd that none of my faves ever seemed to consider forgiveness. While Patchen and Blake railed against God and tried to take him to task they never blamed him for humanity and its gross failures. Patchen demanded to know why he allowed men to harm other men. Blake wanted to know why he did not elevate man from the toils of the earth.
(I have always found it amusing and educational that most of Blake's published letters to friends usually included a line about, "Could I borrow 50 pounds so that I can buy copper plates to complete . . . " Genius and grocers and landlords never mix.)
Monochrome Blonde Geometry by Doug Chavo
Click images for desktop size: "Monochrome Blonde Geometry" by Doug Chavo
Chandler's world was godless. Man created life carnally and cruelly. Survival of the fittest and only the high mnemic could possible survive.
None of them ever blamed God for terrible things that are god made, like diseases and cancers. They wanted him to account for greed and poverty and war. Man made things that he should have abolished.
Strange morning.

Another inch of snow yesterday. I discovered that the paths around the yard that the dogs and I have stomped down are pretty narrow. They're invisible under the new snow and if I step off them the snow is calf deep.
I did some light shoveling, loosened up my shoulders.The Psychopath
My puppy was anxious to play with me yesterday. She bought me a toy and demanded I chase her. It made me think that sometimes she misses being a therapy dog. We did have fun. I chased her, she scurried and the gentle dog would bite me, grab my wrist and hold on. Its the way he likes to play with me.
He used to be a somber, wary dog. Now he's happy and more doggish. I like that. I like that he's having fun and wants to join in.
My friend is probably going to rent a car this weekend so we can go look at new cars, well, used cars. The expense bothers me.
She applied for a car loan at her bank. Did it on-line. When she didn't have an answer she called them and was told they never received it and that they'd had a few other complaints like that. He wanted her to come in to fill out a loan app and claimed that applying from the banks website was dangerous that all of her confidential data could easily be hijacked . . . My paranoid streak makes me think this is a new banking ploy to sell Yungang Grottoes at Datong
Click image: "Yungang Grottoes at Datong" by Unknown
you stuff, (sell you money?). Its hard to accept that a bank would want its employees to claim that their secure web site is hopelessly insecure but it would work on a lot of people and it would force people through the door so they can sell you stuff. Like my friend applied for a 10-15 thousand dollar loan, just preliminary approval like we used to get. If they get her in they could bombard her, take her to the max of her credit limit. Tellers and loan officers are still grossly underpaid, they get their raises and bonuses based on how much they get out the door so it makes sense.
Basically I don't believe the on-line app was lost.
I was expecting to get a ride from my friend's parents to avoid having to pay to rent. They're going through their own little impenetrable miasma. No offer, just my expectations.
Funny, my friend's assistant is going to Aruba for two weeks. She has a new Hyundai that sheThe Stranger offered to loan my friend while she's gone!
My first thoughts were how could the assistant afford two weeks in Aruba and a new car while the boss cannot! I'm just like that and sometimes don't see the obvious (single, no house payment, helpful parents). That still doesn't overwhelm my gratitude at such a magnanimous gesture. The assistant has a new puppy. I put it off to the basic generosity of doggishness.
Today is blank. My head is still blank, still coping somewhat with pain and worries. We still have to figure out a good deal on the rental and have to prepare for my friend's being out of town for 3 days next week. Where she's staying has no internet! An odd thing, I think, in this day and age. At least the rental car and the hotel are being paid for by the company.
Then on Sunday, the Superbowl. I've seldom been less excited.
Every time I try to think seriously about the game I find myself falling asleep. It looks to be pretty boring. The Cardinals' O might bring some excitement but the Steelers' will probably make the excitement be mostly near misses.
Even as I think about it now I feel myself getting groggy.
I have to make some time to stay awake and make my pick.

January 28, 2009

If we were meant to understand life we'd be born dead

Legs
Click images for desktop size: "Legs" by Unknown
Its snowing. The drought is over.
Looking forward to shoveling and scooping and having dogs in my way while I do it.
The Bloodstained Butterly
My friend is going to work at home for the rest of the week. She found out yesterday that she has to go out of town for three days next week. The good part is that the company (a not for profit) will pay for the rental car.
Yesterday I made tuna melts on gluten free rye bread for her lunch, (plain ol' tuna salad for me) and then shrimp taco's with chipolite The Waterhole
Click images for desktop size: "The Waterhole" by Unknown
peppers for dinner. They were too hot but I liked them.
Today I have no idea for meals . . . The extent of my menu's usually runs only to days. My normal lunch is stuff she can't or won't eat; popcorn, cereal, macaroni and cheese . . . Now I'll have to think. Not my strongest suit.
Last night we saw the best American dog movie I've seen in a while: "Hotel for Dogs". There's a lot wrong with it. Mainly the script is pure Sid Fields.
Sid fields was a not very successful screenplay writer who needed money so he wrote a book on how to write a screenplay. I don't remember the exact title. The main part of the book that is still dogging the industry was his breakdown of pages - it's like, 1-2 grabber, 3-4 introduction of characters and plot, 80 low point, 85 resolution etc.
Lenbach by Franz Von Hirtenknabe
Click images for desktop size: "Lenbach" by Franz Von Hirtenknabe
An alarming number of producers in the 80's and 90's kept a copy of that breakdown in their desk or pocket. They'd run through a screenplay and order changes based on Field's breakdown. Their logic was movies A, B and C were the top three grossers that year and they all followed the Field's breakdown slavishly ergo if their movie did the same it would also have a shot.
A lot of people unfairly trash Hollywood movies. Field's breakdown actually gives them some footing for their arguments. When computers eventually begin to write the outlines for movies it will probably be Field's breakdown that forms the infrastructure and then they really will all look the same.
Anyway, "Hotel for Dogs" is a kids movie. A brother and sister are orphans living with Kevin Dillon. They're inept foster parents #10, funny and cruel without meaning to be.
The younger brother is something of a Rube Goldberg genius. They have a dog, "Friday" (as usual IThe Beach Girls and the Monster can't remember any of the characters names, just the dogs' names). He creates an elevator so the dog, who they're hiding from the foster parents, can get out of their 3rd floor apartment and back into it on its own volition. Its a crazy cool device using a power drill and a paw activated button. You can tell the props department had a lot of fun building this and the other gadgets.
Through a series of misadventures the kids end up with 6 stray dogs. Fortunately they have also discovered an abandoned hotel. They stash the dogs there. Eventually they have to figure out how to feed and care for the dogs while they are at school. The kid starts to build some incredible devices that automatically feed, bathe, exercise and amuse the dogs. All the devices are doggie activated and they are cooler than the gizmo's Tim Burton dreamt up for "Pee Wee's Big Adventure". Most of the joy of the movie is in seeing these marvelous constructions work. Its tempting to say, "You gotta see the . . . " I won't. If I did there's not much left towards the joy of discovery.
The brother and sister are next joined by the empathetic cute boy, the pudgy girl and the smart alec fat kid who decide to work together and save every stray dog in the city from the villainous dog catchers. (You need a villain but the dog catchers aren't very upsetting, more or less just city employees doing a job they don't much care about, which is chillingly accurate).
The kids end up with about 60 dogs and the devices get even more astounding. Eventually they are discovered. The dogs are all taken to the pound and the bother and sister are sent to different orphanages. (The low point)
Fashion Sex and Food
Click images for desktop size: "Fashion Sex & Food" by Unknown
On the eve of their execution (odd Chidiock Tichbone reference) Friday escaped from the pound. Using that good common sense that only movie dogs are blessed with he reunites the cute boy and the sister, they rescue the younger brother and get pudgy girl and fat smart alec kid together and form a rather credible plan to rescue the dogs! (resolution).
Its pretty amusing stuff actually.
The conclusion of the film could have been, should have been trite. Don Cheadle plays the Social WOrker who saves the day.
If you've seen "Taken" you know that its just a pretty mediocre action/thriller except they have Liam Neeson as the lead. Neeson takes the part seriously and gives the silly tale a weight that most action stars bring through physicality. As in he can't bring the joy or believability of seeing Donnie Yen fly through a glass liquor cabinet but he can make the grim faced father stalking the killers real. While Clint Eastwood made his avengers compelling blankness that tunneled through to faded memories of hard earned happinessThe Chamber Neeson makes his avenging father a deeply etched creature of despair finding solace in duty.
In a similar vein Cheadle brings gravitas to his final resolution. He gives his enunciation a touching genuiness as real as his scenes in "Hotel Rawanda". It works and end the film on a proud note.
The dogs are all pretty wonderful and, for the most part, act like genuine dogs. They're delightful to watch and joyous in their approach to their new lives.
An odd film for me to warmly recommend.
Morning Enough by Blurburger
Click images for desktop size: "Morning Enough" by Blurburger
After the movie my friend made a comment that she didn't think my puppy much liked her. My puppy's breed characteristics tend towards aloofness mixed with goofiness, a strange reserve. They tend to show love and loyalty to one person and to care fervently for their pack, or their herd or their family.
My puppy loves my friend. She doesn't like many people. She loves kids but even then she has to size them up first.
When she was working as a therapy dog part of her rounds were to go from room to room and see if the occupant could benefit from petting a dog. Some people she simply would ignore. On her own property she dislikes strangers until she decides they are alright. She won't be trifled with.
I watched her viscously get in the face of a handyman on the property because he moved to fast The Fly towards me. She didn't bite but she made it clear she would if he got any closer. And this fellow liked dogs!
Unless you have a treat for her. She'll take treats from anyone.
The glucosamine seems to have had a rather rapid effect on the dogs. Gentle dogs limp is hardly apparent. I have to stare at him intently to notice any hint of it. The giant dog is running like a maniac when he's outside, clearly feeling good all over. I'm amazed that this happened so quickly. My hope is that the injury to gentle dog was so minor it didn't take much to correct.
My puppy shows no effect whatsoever . . . she just keeps on being she.
Oh, I've had to clamp down on the images again due to hot linking. Now they'll only appear directly on this site. Somebody linked to a full sized one not even just a thumbnail, on some bulletin board. It used to allow you to put the url to the image in your browser to see it. They used that technique to get around the normal policy. Band width is flying through the roof. I've had to stop that until the bulleting board page moves on.

January 26, 2009

Time is not measured by the passing of years, but by what one does, what one feels and what one achieves
Jawaharlal Nehru

Jazz
Click images for desktop size: "Jazz" by Unknown
No football this weekend. None.
Why bother with weekends if there's not a feeling of football.Private Hell 36
It gives me time to think. Who needs time to think? What I think about is life and guilt.
Every time there's a tragedy there's a pretty human response to feel like some how you've failed. Like you could have done or didn't do the one thing that could have made things different. Somehow different always feels better.
Maybe its not a human thing. Maybe its a catholic thing, this guilt.
HK Pepnx II
Click images for desktop size: "Untitled" by HK Pepnx II
But like when the little blind dog died I spent weeks thinking what I could have done to give him more time. When the car died I still keep rolling through my mind what I could have done differently, what I should have done. Even when I conclude that we did what we could there's another possibility.
This doesn't detract from addressing issues. It doesn't bog you down. Maybe Catholics are trained to feel and deal with guilt.
We have found a place that sells cars at a reasonable cost. With a couple that look pretty possible. Used cars but . . .
When you remember that my first 3 cars each cost less than fifty bucks . . . I even got one car that ran until I sold it for a game ball used cars costing over 10 grand kind of freak me.
Some of these cars still have warranty time left so we'll check it out.
For various reasons that reminds me of stupid errands I did with my second car (the first car, a green 52 Pontiac with the amber indian head for a hood ornament [yes, older even than me] the one where I shoe polished the leather upholstery - the car still ran great, especially with my specially Indians Hunting Buffalo by Charles Russel Marion
Click images for desktop size: "Indians Hunting Buffalo" by Charles Marion
designed coat hanger choke, but the smell of the shoe polish got you super sick after about 10 minutes).
I was writing songs so I thought I should check out some poetry. I was driving back from the beach when I saw this book store I'd heard of on the wrong side of the street. I did a you turn and went into Papa Bach's. It was a weird hippie joint. They burned incense which still makes me queasy. They had all these small press books and this line called new directions.
They had this book by William Borroughs. "Naked Lunch". I thought it was "Naked Came a Stranger" which was like this porno book I'd read about in the LA Times. It was supposed to be an "erotic" novel that was written by a different author in each chapter. Being a kid I was most stunned that women had written some of it. I was still convinced that women hated sex and only endured it with a huge amount of cajoling and pleading. The idea of women writing porn was jaw dropping.Rape Squad
I figured in this hippie shop they'd sell porn even to a grossly underaged kid. So I grabbed "Naked Lunch" (thinking it was "Naked Came a Stranger", how many books could there be with naked in the title anyway) grabbed a mess of small press poetry and New Directions books (to conceal my real intention was the purpose) and stood there, a fifteen year old surfer in baggies ready to make my purchase.
I went to school that day and spent the whole day reading "Naked Lunch" in class. I didn't care if it was the wrong book. It had plenty of porn, but all the wrong sort. It was the fact I found it funny, mystifying and well, at that time my world consisted of the beach, football, clubs, school and avoiding my step father.
"Naked Lunch" was about places I never imagined could be, about people I didn't seriously think existed. I thought it was great.
After reading it through twice in a day I loaned it to my friend Tom. He thought it was crazy but liked some of the funny bits. We began having conversations straight from the book, talking in that weird broken metier of drug addicts and William Burroughs. Our favorite joke became, "I am the Great Slashtubitch and I can tell you fake the orgasm by the way you wiggle your big toe!" I have no idea why we thought it was funny except in some sort of Bevis and Butthead way.
Pretty soon we'd infected the entire football team with the book. About 80 high school kids roaming the halls reciting chunks of "Naked Lunch" to each other was not something I figure the Board of Education would have approved of.
Anime
Click images for desktop size: "Anime" by Unknown
There was an Assistant Principal at school. He was in charge of discipline. That meant he was the guy who gave you detention and called your parents if you were absent or parked your car in the wrong spot or if your muffler was too loud. He carried a hunk of celluloid in his pocket so he could measure your hair to make sure it didn't cover more than 1 and 1/2 inches of your collar . . . Catholic School.
Thing is, he dug the job, the power we guessed.
His name was close enough to one of the "Naked Lunch" characters, the Sollibees, that we all took to calling him Mr Sollibee (The sollibees were creatures who lived underneath tavern bars, they poked their heads out through holes in the bar to "service" customers while they drank. The name fit our attitude towards him perfectly. Soon the whole school was calling him Mr Sollibee. I don't think he ever twigged as to why we were all suddenly mispronouncing his name. None of the other teachers did either. At least we never caught any of them laughing.
Because that book was such a hit I checked out the other things I'd picked up that day. I wasRide The Pink Horse amazed. Kenneth Patchen, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Gregory Corso. Beat poets.
None of them helped me write any songs but they led me to believe that poets were the next Superman. I read how Corso used to read his poetry to a simple bongo accompaniment, which still sounds totally cool to me. And Kenneth Patchen explained the movies in his head and made them sound cooler than "The Great Escape" and "A Fistful of Dollars" combined.
I rally thought these were the guys who had powers "far beyond those of mortal men". I doubt if they helped me write better lyrics . . . (look for me babe but I ain't there; could hardly stand improvement . . . ) but I felt these guys understood parts of the world that I sensed were out there but had never seen. I thought that they had the map to something important. Something important to me and to the world and that it was a power they had, power louder than my Fender amp. I liked them, adored them and didn't want to be Jeanne D'Arc by Michael Parkes
Click images for desktop size: "Jeanne D'Arc" by Michael Parkes
like them but I wanted to know what they knew even while I thought it was impossible.
Their effect on me was that I lead the conference in yards and touchdowns that season.
For the first time in my life I wanted to go someplace that wasn't in California.

Its been cold here. But we seem to be in the middle of a snow drought. There's enough snow on the ground to keep everything pretty and the constant snow means the dogs and I have got solid paths wending through the yard. Great paths that lead no where but are easy to follow.
The giant dog has suddenly decided he won't go outside without me. I have no idea why. His attitude hasn't changed and when we go out together he gets full on dog play crazy. Bears watching.The Shining
A couple of weeks ago the gentle dog went to work with my friend. He got so excited he leapt in the air and landed, slipping on the ice. Lately we've noticed that he starts to limp every time he first gets up from sleeping or just lying around. Its not a bad limp and it vanished pretty quickly. He has no tenderness in his legs and no change in his attitude. Walking him is still like walking a kite. So I worry. Today started to give each of them 500 mg of Glucosamine to lubricate their joints. Reports as events warrant.
Of course my puppy still loves me and I love her.

January 23, 2009

Poets only pretend to die
Jean Cocteau

Fractal 4 by Clody
Click images for desktop size: "Fractal 4" by Clody
I was pretty pleased that among the first things Obama has done is to stop as much of the killing of endangered species that George Bush was trying to slip through.Metropolis
Bush was and is a pratt.
With the abrupt announcing of the end of torture and the closure of the illegal prisons more and more people are starting to bicker about criminal charges. I agree.
One thing that some sociologists and most film critics (real film critics, not opinion dispensers) agree on is that horror movies are a good indication of the general state of mind of the people. I think that's cool. Judging where we are by what scares us most. Understanding our fears gives a clearer image of who we are.
Unknown Starlet
Click images for desktop size: "Unknown Starlet"
Yeah. I like that.
I like horror movies almost as much as I like Westerns. Its harder to make a good scary movie than it is to make a great Western. Like Westerns the first filmmakers tried horror. Edison did that weird Oglethorpe version of Frankenstein, Melies flics had plenty of horror elements, pudgy ladies becoming skeletons and the Devil always lurking about with his imps. Cool stuff all.
The scariest thing for me was a book my mother left lying around the house, some stranger than fiction thing that was filled with lavacious stories about something unseen biting the hell out of innocent children; women whose eye spit fountains of blood around Mexican deserts; people spontaneously bursting into flames! Not the sort of thing you should let a 7 year old who was watching his happy world disintegrate only because his mother fell in love and bought this stranger into our home. I was hooked on fear and adrenalin from then out.
The twenties saw Lon Chaney and his monsters that were products of human deformity. In the 30's we had a continuation of the humanoid being the cruelest monster - Browning (who worked a lot Gallery of Covers
Click images for desktop size: "Gallery of Covers" by Unknown
with Chaney in the silent days) giving up Dracula and Freaks. And Whale gave up Frankenstein. Even what made King Kong so memorable was his resemblance to human beings.
The Germans, so heavily involved in great horror movies in the 20's following WWI seemed to stop horror. Maybe they weren't scared of anything.
The forties bought on the real ultimate horror: WWII; and the horror movies moved into a slightly new type of monster; the monster who grieved, the monster who couldn't stop his monstrous devotion to terror.
The fifties exploded with Sci-Fi and horror. Teenagers, the scariest thing adults had ever seen were the monsters now, rock & roll was a monster. And there was the atom bomb and any second we could all be vaporized and the entire planet destroyed in a paroxysm of wild adult fury. The worldNight Of The Howling Beast (1977)-1 was such a terrifying place that we also knew that there was even more evil out there in outer space. But the Japanese touched the real horror and showed it came not from the stars but as a natural rebellion to man, it came from nature: Godzilla.
The atomic legacy wasn't just a painful death it was giganticism: Giant ants, grasshoppers, leeches killing all those the bomb sought to spare.
The sixties was the Hammer and AIP era. American International took the fifties themes to even higher layers of hysteria to a thumping beat. The Hammer flics said the world is still a safe and scary place, familiar. The monsters are deviants but we already know them. It didn't go deep enough and justified the deviant fantasies of the Gore movies.
(What's more deviant than paying to see a former Playboy Playmate get her leg cut off with an axe or her tongue pulled out of her mouth with ice tongs.)
KRM Photos
Click images for desktop size: "Untitled" by KRM Photos
The 60's ended with a horror so great it opened up the 70's: George Romero's "Night of the Living Dead" changed the world for a little while. I mean Roger Ebert wrote a piece for Reader Digest calling this film a socially depraved nightmare! The medium was the new monster!
And the 70's saw "Last House on the Left", "Texas Chainsaw Massacre", "The Hills Have Eyes" and the emergence of David Cronenberg.
Horror became a sensual sexual thing. Pleasure was always punished and the weak were fodder, only the strong survived. The monster was us, just stronger and less inhibited, more willing to survive.
The 80's belonged to Cronenberg. He purified and extolled the 70's. Horror was a by product of our lives, a virus that floated from lover to eunuch and a horror that extolled the perverted.Night Of The Howling Beast (1977)-1 It gave Clive Barker his starting inspiration. The 80's monsters were creatures from Hell. creatures who had human vices and needed love, a deviant love.
It saw the Hellraiser films stand with the Freddie Krueger movies. Splatter moved into the main stream building off of Cronenberg and Paul Schrader's "Taxi Driver".
One oddity were the "Friday the 13th" movies. Created by Steve Miner who worked on "The Last House on the Left" took and exalted the 70's themes by creating an inhuman monster who punished promiscuity with a searing precision.
The 90's spawned little in new horror. Real life was getting too complicated. The old school ruled and shut out the upstarts who might interfere with their mini empires.
Charles Band made his straight to video cheapies. They were sometimes entertaining. Sam Rami did the most destruction by combining a healthy does of bleak humour with the fear, a natural enough reaction. The final decimation cam from Italy. It started in the 80's but blossomed under Argento's hand and guidance.
Horror was reduced to steel and a knife and our own ability to merely watch and remain passive. Great globs of cool icy hatred and death.
And the 00's? Bush's time of remaking the world saw everyone fleeing into a fear of creativity. Brian Yzuna continued onward making original films that were often flaccid but never unimposing (Where is Creaming Mad George). The Asian horror cycle clicked in. Lots of ghosts and possessions of inanimate objects. Diverting Green Lantern
Click images for desktop size: "Green Lantern" by DC Comics
but not much else.
It began the era of the re-make. The great lost propensity of the damned. Doomed to never create but to simply relive the same old fear over and over again. How dull.
Even the crazed independents, the usual saviors of horror were working harder to look and act like the hits. There were no demons driving them. I mean, they're remaking "My Bloody Valentine" which was a mediocre 80's rip off of Friday the 13th.
I recently saw some horrors that left me pretty cold but seem indicative of the 00's. "Vacancy" was psycho with a profit motive. It was simply fun to kill people and then sell the security tapes for some serious bucks. I guess its scary that people would die for something so trivial.
"The Strangers" was a turgid mess. So slow it was almost expressionistic. Pretty poor and derivative with no payoff at all.
"The Alphabet Killer" was an attempt at something undefinable. It ended up being worthless and Night Of The Howling Beast (1977)-1 shameless. I liked the idea of a serial killer being hunted by an ambulatory schizophrenic except Eliza Dushku is not the actress to pull it off. Her idea of a schizo coping with hallucinations seems to be to twitch a lot and make weird faces. Asia Argento could have made the role real and probably made this a better movie. Oh you do get a glance at Dushku's nude breasts. It wasn't that exciting.
"Hit and Run" was typically dreadful but had some odd quirks. A fat leading lady who is pretty despicable as a character. She gets drunk and runs over some random guy. On getting home she finds his broken body tangled in her Jeep's front bumper so she takes the easy way out and beats him to death with one of her daddy's gold clubs. Then she buries this poor victim out in the woods . . . and she's the heroine.
I mean she has a guilty conscious so I guess that's alright. The guy wasn't really dead and for some reason being hit by a car, bashed in the head and then buried alive doesn't sit well with him. He actually presented as unreasonable and monstrous for wanting justice!
Off course the heroine get away with it and kills this loathsome monster. See he's a monster because he was recently diagnosed as being bipolar. There's little made of the fact that the pudgy girl tried to murder a man with a wife and son. See, provoked by the pudgy girl he murder's his wife . . . see pudgy girl was doing the world a favor Untitled by Gibberling
Click images for desktop size: "Untitled" by Gibberling
because bipolar guys are notorious for murdering their spouses . . . well, that's the movies argument anyway.
There's a tacked on ending when pudgy girl gets caught. Someone must have said we can't let her get away with killing the guy even if she does have great tits! So she gets busted in a way that totally ignores the visual evidence we saw maybe two minutes before . . . I guess they figured that my attention span would have drifted away before then.
But it is an interesting trend: The perpetrator as victim: Bush's intended legacy. Nothing that happens to pudgy girl is anyway near as vile as the things she did to her victim. But it was an accident nearly and she even had a nightmare!Pieces
I like that movies try to present us with identifiable characters and then strives to find a person who embodies our self image, not the view others have but our self image. Its scary that being fat is becoming that idealized view of ourselves.

The server was down for a few hours. The hosting company says the cooling system broke and they had to shut down the servers to protect them. I can relate to that.
Should be fine now.

No football this weekend. I have a couple of Football movies to watch. I'm a football addict.
The dogs all love me. That's good but a little heart rending at times.
My friend planned to pull an all nighter. I was pleased she ended up coming home and getting some sleep.
There's been no solution to the car issue. Maybe when the job is done at work can sit down and come up with a real plan. Right now a lot of it eels like we're waiting for divine intervention. Not bad as ideas go but seldom workable.
One of her co-workers is facing a similar dilemma, a 10 year old car that costs just slightly less to repair than it would to replace.

January 22, 2009

No one needs your love like I do
Gene Pitney

Five O'Clock in Orksland by Mathias Kollros
Click images for desktop size: "Five O'Clock in Orksland" by Mathias Kollros
I've been so obsessed with the Great Car Trauma of 2009 and my friends difficult time at work (no problems, just excessive work) that I've lost sight of the other things I've been doing.Leave Her to Heaven
I made dog treats.
They finally decided that they love dehydrated sweet potato. My puppy loves dried apple. No surprise there, she love plain apple and will beg fiercely when I'm eating one. The gentle dog and the giant dog are more reserved about the dried apple. They only want it when my puppy is still happily eating hers. That figures. They are dogs as well as being my friends and family.
I like making things for the dogs. Not just out of love but because I am always worried about commercial dog food.
Today the Chinese government announced they had sentenced three Dogss by S4W
Click images for desktop size: "Dogs" by S4W
people to death for the use of melamine in baby formula that led directly to an undisclosed mount of infant deaths.
I just hope that its the right three people. I'm opposed to the death penalty but I guess murdering a few hundred kids justifies it as much as Ted Bundy's death.
I just hope its the right three people and not just 3 schmoes who were following orders from some highly placed party official or some rich businessman. They may have learned that from capitalism, protect the rich who kill for negligent profit.
Because all the American food producers used melamine (a deadly plastic additive that increases the measured protein level of foods when mixed in) to save about 10 cents a bag on their over priced premium food and then suffered no legal penalties for cheating us and killing animals. They made them take the poison food back . . . if it were unopened.
American Flag
Click images for desktop size: "American Flag" by Unknown
Can't feel too badly about that, after all we also cleared Union Carbide for killing nearly 4,000 in India because it Union Carbide was too cheap to install required safety equipment. Poison gas clouds or saving 10,000 bucks. To the corporate guys theirs no value to human lives, but 10,000 bucks that like a good months wage.
Its an old story which is why I'm nervous about prepared foods. I used a small factory to make my puppy's food to spec. Here the pet shop makes their own special blend. I feel slightly more secure.
Making my/their own dog treats makes me feel safer. So, its a selfish thing, because, trust me, the dogs don't much care.
My thumbs have gotten worse. Last night I had to figure out how to open the door with my elbows. Perseverance pays. Took me about 5 minutes. I can't open most jars.Jail Bait
Odd thing is that this morning my right thumb feels much better and the left feels much worse than the right one ever did. This just goes to confirm my self diagnoses of more neuropathic damage. Livable no that I'm certain what it is.
The pain in my thumbs has one benefit. I don't like living on pain killers even if the only ones I'll take are ibuprofen. I usually wait to long to take them only succumbing when the pain gets unendurable. Oddly I can never time it to figure out when to take them to avoid those episodes.
The thumbs start to hurt about half an hour before the big pain comes. So if I take the pills when the thumbs start to ache (and its a very endurable pain) I avoid those blind flashes. It is almost worth it.
The only real problem is in guitar playing. I use my left thumb to mute strings when I play certain chords. This makes that kind of impossible. It just means that I have to execute my right hand with a lot more accuracy. Since I've always been a pretty sloppy player in that sense (Mess and finesse) its energy that exercises new muscles.
My left hand is getting stronger and more precise. I'm pleased by that. I was afraid that the muscles wouldn't respond to exercise and would just atrophy. Its coming along fine. My biggest problems seem to be some of the more extravagant minor chords (which I adore) and some of the crazed 7ths (which I can play around by leaving out a couple of string. Who'd notice?)
I've also been rearranging the living room. Not so much rearranging it as tacking down wires and trying to hide them as well as I can. Its hard hammering.
Joan of Ark (Orleans) By Yasushi Nirasawa
Click images for desktop size: "Joan of Ark (Orleans)" by Yasushi Nirasawa
I do get to move all the furniture and unleash the roomba of dirt war upon it. The roomba still fascinates me. If I'm not careful I end up staring at it while it does its work, which sort of defeats the purpose of a vacuuming robot. I'm glad I'm not the only one who this happens to; a lot people comment on it.
So there's just a light dusty snow this morning. None since I shoveled out the driveway so no forced interaction with jerk neighbors. That's a good thing.
No luck on finding the ideal car. (Affordable) My friend just wants her old car back. Maybe that will be the way to go. She commented on the fact that the rental is causing her some pain in her arms.
The cat has not defecated in the house for a couple of days. This is another good thing.
My friend has decided that the cat is afraid of me. I could only wish. This morning it came and sat on my foot and yelled at me to let her out. Stupid cat.Killer Tongue
Haven't seen any decent movies. The Oscar nominations are boring as hell. Even the foreign flics are dull. Danny Boyle getting nominated makes me want to weep. He stinks and "Slum Dog Millionaire" was dull silliness to me.
I always thought Aronofsky's movies were pretentious tripe. "The Wrestler" came off like a low budget less ambitoius "Raging Bull". Mickey Rourke was pretty outstanding. I thought Marisa Tomei was incredible and pretty nice to look at. . .
I did find a copy of a film I haven't seen since it first came out "Truffaut's" La Nuit Americaine". I'm semi-afraid to watch it. This movie, as much as Cocteau and Steve McQueen probably made me go for the grad degree in Cinema. I mean, I remember watching this movie about making a movie and thinking, "This is what I need to do!" instead of taking a career I could make a living at . . . I'm afraid the movie will rightly stink and I'll stare at it and wonder about my own level of sanity then and now. Like running into an old girlfriend on the street it exposes you Luis Royo
Click images for desktop size: "Untitled" by Luis Royo
to more risk of ridicule than pleasure. I'll probably still watch it.
Also it seems we're in one of those fallow periods where there seems to be no new music to interest me. Bruce Springsteen doesn't interest me at all. Which at least gives me the chance to justifylistening to my old stuff.
I like that fine.
ecto, the app I use to layout this site, has sort of stagnated since the developer guy sold it to the big software company. Its still buggy but does what it does well enough to justify hassling with it. I was having a huge problem with it. It was just like taking forever to load. Figured out it was the attachment.plst file. Because there's so many attachments that file had grown for about 8k to 14 megs. The app insisted on writing and reading that file each time it was loaded and each time I added a picture. I just dumped the file. No ill effects after three days and it runs nice and smoothly again.
A bug I don't expect to see fixed.
Most people who use Mac's know about Quicksilver. A nifty little app for launching apps, docs, Louisiana Hussyediting, its kind of remarkable. And its free!
The guy who developed Quicksilver has dumped the project. He's made it open source but thus far no one seems to have taken it up.
He left Quicksilver for a paying gig with Google. I'm glad he's making money. He's developing a Quicksilver replacement for them called "Google Search Box". It works pretty well and its also free. Well, free only in the sense you don't have to pay for it.
The search box is dead ugly. Disappointing after the several elegant interfaces you could pick and chose with Quicksilver. Here you can only chose the color of the box. Not any color you want but select from 4. And you have to look at the stupid google logo.
One of its "benefits" is that it searches not only your hard drive but checks the internet as well, mostly launching the browser and the google search. It also launches the app associated with the document when you pull one of those up.
Its buggy, although the 2nd alpha fixes the most annoying things. Its got a long way to go. I'm trying to ignore Quicksilver and use it. Its hard as Quicksilver require no thought from me. Its an app that learns from you as you work so it is always snappy. Google Search Box isn't there yet at all, but maybe.
And that is all. Time to take my fit dogs for their fit walk.

January 21, 2009

Nothing valuable can be lost by taking time
Abraham Lincoln

Erotic Apera by Alex Varenne
Click images for desktop size: "Erotic Opera" by Alex Varenne
I wasn't very overwhelmed with the inauguration speech.
Somehow it reminded me of a my old physics professor berating the class for doing so poorly on anHere Comes Mr Jordan exam that he had to throw out the bell curve.
I don't mind being underwhelmed. FDR was not a very magnificent speaker and he pulled this country out of a similar set of nasty circumstances.
I was very disheartened by the actions and comments of people like Rush Limbaugh. I mean there's a fat kid who clearly had his butt kicked every day when he was growing up and now has so much nastiness left in him that all the other fat kids with bruised rear Penguins by Wallpaper Coll
Click image: "Penguins" by Wallpaper Collection
ends follow him slavishly.
And the other Republican antics are just so much dross that its apparent they're committed to becoming a third party.
One thing is that Cheney reminded me of was Mussolini. An evil man as judged by history who viewed himself as compassionate and who cared for his people. He did not think he lied. He thought he was being Machiavellian clever.
There was this odd book, "Inferno" by Larry Niven. I don't usually like much of Niven's stuff but this book had an interesting conceit.
It retold Dante's "Inferno" in the simplest Cliff Notes way possible. The guide through the Seven Circles of Hell was Benito Mussolini.
Here the endless damnation, pain and torment was not seen as an end in and of itself. The layers of hell were seen not as a test but a rite of purification. A voyage through lakes of boiling blood and burning pitch to self awareness and discovery. So that by making the long path of torture through hell one can finally understand themselves and rise up to heaven.
Girl, Scotty and Violin by Archie Dickens
Click images for desktop size: "Girl, Scotty and Violin" by Archie Dickens
The book uses people like Billy the Kid to show how this rite can be abandoned but not failed. "Inferno" eventually ends up listing the seven circles of hell the same way De Sade's last book descended into being a simple lists of tortures he wished he been able to try.
Its an nteresting read and as Mussolini details his sins and regrets it is words that belonged in Dick Cheney's mouth. Cheney has implemented torture and been directly responsible for the death of thousands and still feels no regrets.
Who moreso deserves hell and an eternity of struggling through the lake of boiling blood.
Not even Bush, moving into his restricted multi-million dollar home has been so callous, unrepentant, blame shifting and vile he's a man doomed by himself.
Here's to a future.The Incredible Shrinking Man

My puppy's aun made a suggestion: that we look for a year old car that still has a few years left on the warranty. A pretty good idea. The main stumbling block is that brand new cars can be had with 0% financing. That might make the slightly used car more expensive. We'll have to keep searching though. Its worth investigating.
One idle thought I'd had was trying to pick up a junker, "Transportation Cars" they call them in the ads. Something to last a few months until the Honda hybrids come out. The price on them seems to keep rising but its still cheaper than most out there and 63 mpg is pretty cool.
So much to consider and time is like a taxi meter right now.

January 13, 2009

Be kind whenever possible. It is always possible.
Dalai Lama

Amazing Taprohmtom Braid Tree Temple by Whamuel
Click images for desktop size: "Amazing Taprohmtom Braid Tree Temple" by Whamuel
It snowed. Another 2 and one half inches, I'd guess.
I was only partially joking about snow shoveling and martial arts having a similarity. When I shovel snow I get a feeling eerily similar to the feeling I used to get at karate special trainings.Blood Beach
Its the constant repetitive motion perhaps. Or its like the comedy training in "Return to the 36th Chamber" where the monks have the acolyte do what seems to be a dull never ending task. It ends up that the acolyte has been martial arts training. So well he isn't even aware of it. "Karate Kid" stole the well and condensed it to "wax on, wax off". Which is easier to remember but not quite as deep.
What I'm referring to is the meditation part of the exercise. Shoveling snow and throwing 1,000 kicks aren't as different as I'd Dark Days by PicDeskTop
Click images for desktop size: "Dark Days" by PicDeskTop
like to think. The major difference is that at the end of the snow shoveling exercise you can look back and see a clear path that, hopefully, leads somewhere. With martial arts you only have a tired body and the feeling that you've accomplished something great.
I'm not sure which is more zen.
In the "Lone Wolf and Cub" manga and movies there's a story about Ogami Itto being hired to kill a monk. a very holy monk; a Buddha walking the earth.
Ogami confronts the monk as he prays in a temple. In the manga Ogami's sword slashes and cannot touch the immobile monk. In the movie Ogami cannot even draw his sword.
The monk tells Ogami he cannot be killed because he "is one with the void. The universe begins and ends in me. There is no place where you can strike the heart of the universe. You are enlightened Ogami Itto but your enlightenment is only that of the assassin."
In the comic the exchange ends with the monk saying, "to kill a Buddha you must be a Buddha."
Woody Acres by Jon Draperr
Click images for desktop size: "Woody Acres" by Jon Draperr
In the manga Ogami goes to a temple, fast and prays for 3 months before feeling he is ready. He confronts the monk in a procession and attacks. A line of blood drops down his forehead. He raises his hand and says, "A magnificent stroke." Then his body splits in half, sliced down the vertical from skull to hips.
In the movie Ogami uses a scandalous trick to get the monk in his grasp. He pulls the monk from a boat and drags him underwater. There Ogami stabs the monk with a knife. The monk says, underwater, "so this is the path to enlightenment you have chosen."
I don't think I have a preference between the two ways of telling a story.
I do know that I used to do an annual fast. The first week was rough as the body tried to live off the toxins I'd ingested the previous year. After that first week I felt great. Demonstrably stronger, Belle et la Bette faster. Better concentration.
I used to run five miles every day. During those runs my mind thought of nothing. I didn't have a Walkman or an iPod. I only had the white noise in my brain to keep me company. I marked out the distance previously. I'd start the stop watch and run. Very few of those runs produced any memories. I'd look at the stop watch and 32 to 35 minutes had passed. I was at the mark I knew was five miles from the starting point. That was the only evidence that I had done what I set out to do.
I wonder, now not then, if this was the state of meditation that the Shaolin monks strove for when they practiced their martial arts. To simply flow. To live with their minds filled with something like my white noise?
I'm not a good Buddhist or Christian, I'm not much of a good anything, except a good man. I can say Autumn White Birch by Maxfield Parrish
Click images for desktop size: "Autumn White Birch" by Maxfield Parrish
that with pretty much a calm self assurance.
Shoveling snow produces some similar meditative ideals in me.
Lewis Carroll, (Charles Dodgson), wrote a book that's been fairly well maligned: "Sylvie and Bruno". Dodgson was a great writer. No contest. Most people would call James Joyce a great writer. He wrote three great books. William Faulkner is a great writer. He wrote three great books and created a lot of great scenes. Even my pet, Raymond Chandler only wrote two great books. Charles Dodgson was a great writer.
His "Sylvie and Bruno" is hard to track down. It has some problems but also some great scenes. One of the Chapters of the book is titled, "Bruno's Revenge". It was based on a short story he'd published years before in some dwee Victorian Kiddie mag.
In the story Bruno is angry with his sister, Sylvie. He feels he's been wronged and seeks revenge by Black Ceasar destroying her carefully tended flower garden.
Before he can begin his odious task the narrator, an ill defined adult who alternates between being omnipotent and hapless, stops Bruno and then helps him expend his rage by lovingly enhancing the garden, finding colored stones to accent and line the paths, removing weeds and whatever other stuff you do for a garden.
At the end of his labours Bruno and the narrator are exhausted. Bruno finds his rage has dissipated. The physical exertion in the spirit of kindness, not forgiveness but kindness has removed his rage and transported him closer to the Victorian God Dodgson fervently believed in.
I think you need to pay attention to Dodgson. He made a deep impression in four different disciplines, Kids Lit, Math, Photography and Religion. I mean, any guy who can mathematically prove that Jesus Christ was the Messiah is a force to contend with not against. And its in nice Western terms and not alien Eastern philosophy.
My shoveling the driveway, I guess that's a difficult task, some consider it ridiculous, was my "Bruno's revenge."
I've been angry about the neighbor's dumping a ton of snow pressed against the gate, angry about shoveling it out at midnight so we can get into the house, angry that I still can't use the man gate, angry that even after shoveling it out he sees fit to block the gate with his trailer and snowmobile.
The physical labour locked me into the white noise in my head. It expelled my rage and accomplished something positive.
An Impossible Dream by Sweibel
Click images for desktop size: "An Impossible Dream" by Sweibel
Last night I went out with the dogs to tour the house, like we do every night. I bought them inside and back out to get the mail. I have to use the car gate to do this now and while the gentle dog and the giant dog are getting better at it they still can't be 100% trusted outside. So I went back out to get the mail and was shocked to see that the snow mobile was parked so close to the gate I had to climb over it to get out.
I came back inside enraged. I know that I have to let the rage out or it turns into dark fury so I complained. I got responses that I didn't anticipate.
I went back, climbed the snow mobile and knocked on his door, filled with undisapated rage justified with ludicrous "facts", like the fire department can't get into the house, an ambulance and how he had no right to dictate what times we were allowed to come and go.
Angrier still that I still don't feel that this is malicious more that this guy is such an ass he doesn'tBorn for Hell think or care about others.
Luckily he didn't answer the door. I think he was asleep and I didn't press it. I wasn't that angry yet. That's the furious parts job, to be irrational.
This morning I dealt partially with the snow. When the snow stops I'll finish the rest of it, if I've time.
When cleaning the car I was surprised that it was coated all over with ice. There'd been no rain and the temperature has not gone above freezing, the car hadn't been moved in 3 and half days, so I'm bewildered. My only guess is that the sun shone yesterday. I guess it heated the glass and metal enough to melt stuff and then it refroze. Its just a guess.
When my brain isn't filled with white noise its filled with thoughts like that. Those thoughts always lead to other thoughts like that.
The noise is better, calmer.
Maybe its because I'm dumb. I'm the kind of dumb who believes people are smarter than me because they say they're smarter than me. It takes a lot to change my mind.

January 5, 2009

I don't exactly know what I mean by that, but I mean it
J.D. Salinger

Returning the Sphere by Michael Parkes
Click images for desktop size: "Returning the Sphere" by Michael Parkes
My friend goes back to work today.
Feel rather blank about that. She made this a happy holiday. I fell way behind in my self assigned chores but had nothing but memorable fun.
Sunset Blvd I think the dogs will miss her being about even more than I will.
Predicted horrid weather did not really materialize. No ice storm. So she'll go in and I'll take the dogs for a long walk and everything will settle back into place. The dogs will have the hardest time getting back onto the non-holiday schedule.
I know its been a good holiday because I have a morbid fear of taking out the garbage tomorrow.

We watched an interesting movie the other day, "Wendy and Scar Nebula
Click image for desktop size: "Scar Nebula" by NASA
Lucy". I don't think I liked it much.
Its about a girl who is traveling by car from Muncie, Indiana; going to Alaska to find a new frontier, a new life with just her and her dog, Lucy. Wendy's plans are vague. She takes employment advice from a drunken reprobate who dances around a bonfire while exhorting the other reprobates with stories of past drunkenness and destruction.
She sleeps in her car that night after calculating her meager finances. She's awakened by the store security guard who tells her that she has to move her car. It won't start. She grinds it. It sounds like a blown head gasket, but no one seems to know this.
She eats and waits for a garage to open. When she goes to feed the dog she discovers she's out of dog food. She goes to the local grocery store, ties Lucy to the bike rack while she goes inside. The Wolf by Wallpaper Collections
Click images for desktop size: "The Wolf" by Wallpaper Collection
Wendy gets busted by some nerdo high school kid for shoplifting two cans of dog food. The kid insists that they call the cops. The cops take her away ignoring her pleas about her dog, who is still tied up in front.
Several hours later she's released. She has to pay a fifty dollar fine. Cops being the jerks they like to be let her take a bus back to find her dog. Lucy's gone.
The rest of the film plot is about Wendy trying to find Lucy and to get her car running. This is probably enough plot for a movie. What's frightening is that the theme of the movie is the intense vulnerability of twenty-ish Wendy. One person is modestly kind to her, the security guard who made her move on. His kindness is manifested in directions to the dog pound and then by letting her use his mobile to call the pound even going so far as to let her give them his number if there's word on Lucy.The Host
The rest of the world, her family, the people on the street, the sun, the moon and the star, the garage mechanic could care less about her devastating plight. They all have their own lives and there is the pervading ill feeling that they are all just an unforeseen incident away from joining Wendy in her fall from stability.
Vulnerability, lack of stability and the lack of a caring world, where victims can only victimize each other and dreams are gambles and well meaning promises that cannot be kept.
Its a sad film. Well done for the budget. Slow but interesting enough to keep watching. Nothing dramatically tragic happens in the movie which makes it sadder still. Its a movie that's too easy. Its like watching the legacy of George W Bush, the train wrecks of the lives of the common man.

Somehow that movie made me think of the greatest tragedy of the 21st Century. The loss of our free press. A very systematic destruction caused by the freedom of the press being exploited by the rich. The constant dumbing down of America and the world.
Journalism used to be nobel. Reporters used to work on stories. The people trusted the press to blandly report staggering facts. We all knew the press was manipulated. One of the few scenes I liked in "Citizen Kane: was when he had the two A Walk In Time by n0rcalguy
Click images for desktop size: "A Walk In Time" by n0rcalguy
headlines prepared for election day. One read, "KANE WINS" while the other read "FRAUD AT POLLS". We were trained to look past that, to interpret and refine. Only the "other guy" was stupid enough to fall for the obvious ploys.
In the 60's guys like Truman Capote, Tom Wolfe and Hunter Thompson raised journalism to an art form.
They worked with unflagging energy, visiting the places, interviewing the people, assembling the facts from the phantasmagoria of conflicting views and distilled it to a vivid narrative that had the power and purity of fiction. But it was real. Almost too real to bear.
Capote's "In Cold Blood" showed the power of the "true crime" novel. All the facts and the words were real. The emotions, the words, the actions, the emotions were all real, verified and accurate.
At about the same time Tom Wolfe was also working on the "new" journalism. He produced some The Damned Don't Cry interesting work. (Although I'm still trying to understand what the surfers in his South Bay surf story were actually saying when they used the slang term "panthers" to describe non-surfers. It a word I've never heard used. I don't know if he misheard them or if they were having some one day joke, perhaps at Wolfe's expense.)
It culminated with the brilliant "Electric Kool Aid Acid Test" describing the life of Ken Kesey and Jack Cassidy, two giants of fiction. One a writer of not insignificant talent and the other a character transformed by Jack Kerouac into one of the great fictional characters of all time. Wolfe lived with them, reported on them and wrote a non-fiction book that burst with drama, reality and perception.
While Capote's book left him an emotional wreck unable to follow it up Wolfe's no less interesting but emotionally safer work enabled him to continue to the present day.
Spirit by Seven Edge
Click images for desktop size: "Spirit" by Seven Edge
The west coast had another journalist - Hunter Thompson wrote "Hell's Angels". He realized his job was not to create characters but to divine and then to define the character, conveying them with a clarity that infected the milieu. He worked not with boring stats and charts but with a vivid present that made the people even more real than they actually were.
Thompson then went on to create Gonzo Journalism with his serialized masterwork, "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas".
The success of these new journalists didn't go unnoticed by other aspiring reporters. But their work was too hard. Not only was it necessary to find the story but then you had to meet all those people, distill the facts, report the facts (which used to be the usual reporters job) but then you had to build these facts into aThe Man Who Turned to Stone narrative, adding drama and imagery. and somehow avoiding those moments were real life is not as exciting as drama.
It was a lot easier simply to create the whole story under the old justification that "someplace out there there really is somebody like this". Not only was this a tidier mode of reporting and story telling, it was quicker and much less stressful. Things could progress the way they should go instead of the way they might.
So we had all the scandals of award winning reporters actually just writing pure fiction. It created some scandals but it still is going on today.
So reporters got lazier. They saw the ambitious caught in their own scandal, they saw hacks get TV shows that replaced facts with opinion. They saw guys doing less work and getting more money while their employers refused to publish the big real stories for fear of offending advertisers and because it didn't fit the way the rich thought the world should be.
Now we have the internet. Which seems to be nothing but personal bias. Its easy to find a news source that fits your personal prejudices and easier still to find sites to revile. The reporting is sloppy most of the time. No one investigates or digs through to truth. They seem to start out with a concept they want to prove and look for the facts that prove it while ignoring any facts that might disprove.
The insanity of this was bred in the law. OJ Simpson is an easy example. We all "know" he is guilty. It used to be that only an idiot would dispute the verdict of judge and jury. But California passed a The Long Leg by Edward Hopper
Click images for desktop size: "The Long Leg" by Edward Hopper
law that said it didn't matter if you were found innocent, we could apply a new standard for the civil courts that ignored the criminal courts decision to redefine the truth.
Now we weren't idiots we were people who were capable of deciding the truth because we were told there were several black and white truths that were ours for the choosing. News became nothing more than entertainment to feed us the different truths we wanted. Pick one.
The free press gave way to entertainment and laziness that was rewarded more handsomely than those fools who put themselves at risk, who dug and fought to find the one truth.
Sad stuff for us. The end result is that a movie gets made about a nice girl who loves her dog and The Shiver of the Vampire discovers that the world is nothing but an uncaring place where what we are no longer matters and love has to be discarded for dollars and pence.
A documentary.
I think its just the end result of a press that ignores that our leaders have turned us all into war criminals who torture and violate all the principals that used to make us the good guys. They bow to the pressure instead of standing tough armed only with the truth and an unquenched desire to reveal that truth to us all.
So we suffer and we suddenly can only notice our own suffering and not the anguish of the man next to us.

The sun is out. Its time to take the dogs for a long walk. They don't like the fact that the world changes on human whims. They'll still laugh, are laughing now.
So am I.
Its just harder to notice when I do it.

December 31, 2008

It’s a recession when your neighbour loses his job; it’s a depression when you lose yours
Harry S. Truman

Modern Princess
Click images for desktop size: "Modern Princess" by Unknown
Its been a pretty good year.
Too much moving back and forth but a good year despite all that.
My friends birthday was sort of dull for her. It was fine for me. Her only present from me she gotA Detective Story too early. She had to go with me to the post office to pick it up and when we got there, despite my admonitions she read the box label . . . so I let her have it. The gift I mean. It was a set of knives. Not My Life and Yours
Click image: "My Life And Yours" by Unknown
very romantic but the sort of thing I think she likes . . .
We watched the klazzik, to our minds anyway, Japanese movie, "Dog Star".
Its a simple movie with an exquisite conceit. A blind man is struck by a truck. His seeing eye dog, Shiro, survives. The blind man has not done enough good deeds to get into heaven. He decides to grant his best friend, Shiro, a request, a good deed. Shiro wants to be a human so he can go see the little girl who raised him.
Shiro becomes an adult male human, but still a dog inside. They avoid most of the cheap dog stuff laffs and let Shiro be a man who is a dog inside.
He meets his old owner and is overwhelmed with his joy. One of my fave scenes is when he asks her if she is happy now. When she says yes Shiro gets up and runs full speed around the school playground.
The scene that breaks me down is when Shiro, after all of their adventures, sits with the girl on the beach and finally convinces her that he is not just the love of her life but is truly her old dog Shiro, more than anything her devoted friend.
There's a shot from behind where we see the girl sitting next to, not the man Shiro, but the dog Shiro as they stare into the clear night sky. It kills me even thinking about it. Its echoed later in the film with a heart rending sadness and beauty that is unshakeable.
I wish all my dogs could talk to me more fully instead of their struggles to communicate with me and my thick headed too human demeanor.
Its the end of the year today.
I can't come up with more than the three films I've already discussed as the best of the year. "A Man Who Was Superman," "The Underdog Patent Office
Click images for desktop size: "Patent Office
Knight", and "JCVD." I know the point is to list five at least but any other films in the list would just diminish the major accomplishments of these three. "A Man Who Was Superman" is already in the top 25 of my all time favorites. I still can recall vivid scenes that make little sense outside the film. The sense being explaining their power - Superman standing at a garden hose covering himself with water. Five teenagers struggling to lift a car all wearing tropical cheap Hawaiian shirts. Its that kind of movie. Beauty is there and makes itself beautiful by recreating our world in a vivid way that time makes us ignore.
For music . . . As doomed as I found Alkaline Trio and their putrid show the Album "Agony & Irony" was excellent. The only guy who has yet to disappoint is Jack White. The Raconteurs, "Consolers of the Lonely" was fine and contained a few songs that I want to learn so I can dazzle people.Empire of the Ants
The best album was a reissue. I've only had scratched up copies of Gene Vincent's "The Day the World Turned Blue" and "A Million Shades of Blue". The high compression and tics and pops have become a part of the music. The CD re-issue of both albums is impressive. The remastering is excellent but its Gene himself who devours my soul.
The man could sing. He knew how to sell a song. Most of the music on the disk is trivial, at time horrendous like the 8 minute hippie dirge "Tush Hog" is unlistenable to me.
Even in the trivial numbers Gene displays a compelling emotive power that almost thinks the music is good. It makes me wish he hadn't died a fat drunk. But if he hadn't would have have been able to compose and ding like he did. The closest I can compare him to is Charlie "Bird" Parker. If their lives weren't paeans to self destructiveness could they have heard the sounds they heard and been driven to make us understand?
I still know a lot of guys who'll punch you out for even hinting that Gene wasn't the greatest thing to ever happen in this life. As much as I love him some have taken umbrage with me. I'm not that violent about it. I just think that if you can't be carried away by the beauty of Blue that Gene carried within him its only sad for you.

Another Face
Click images for desktop size: "Another Face" by Unknown
For the New Year you always need some "Auld Lang Syne" for your party. Here's three.
Guy Lambardo and the Royal Canadians version is the standard, almost the original.
Me First and the Gimmie Gimmies bring a new funny life to the old tune. It rocks okay.
Lou Rawls brings a jaw dropping version. Its a solo accapela trip. I never new Rawls was this cool.

Best wishes for all into the New Year. Especially my friend, my friends and my puppies, past present and future.

December 30, 2008

The difference between genius and stupidity is that genius has its limits
Albert Einstein

Lost in the Fun
Click images for desktop size: "Lost in the Fun" by Unknown
Today is my friends birthday. I think she celebrated it a day early by staying in bed the whole day and reading a mystery suspense thriller book from a series she's interested in. Michael Connelly, I think.Coconuts
She also made Tomato Rice Soup from scratch. Rah.
For her I think that is a perfect day.
Today their are chores. One of them ugly in a nice way. Emissions check on her car then down to the DMV to renew her license plates for 2009. We also have to pick up some odds and ends for the growing list of house repairs.
Yesterday the side fence blew over!
Blue Fountain by Maxfield Parrish
Click image: "Blue Fountain" by Maxfield Parrish
The giant dog, of course for it is he that has the ultimate hold on gooniness in this world, escaped. We called the gentle dog and my puppy in. They came with no problem and calmly went about their business. We wondered where the giant dog was and then heard him crying.
He figured out how to escape and was upset that we hadn't come to rescue him as he had no clue how to return the same way he left.
So he was officially rescued and I had to do an emergency repair on the fence. I used to 4 inch logs as struts, logs from an old busted up "primitive" wood bench and the arms from an another outdoor chair for braces. It held well enough.
When I went to check it last night the struts had sunk about an inch into the ground. Their were 30 mph winds and their constant buffeting was more effective them my manly hammering at setting the things.
I need to add more braces today and set the already installed ones. I'm thinking about adding a metal connector between the two fence posts. (They abut as the damage was done at an By Marek Okon
Click images for desktop size: "Untitled" by Marek Okon
unused and forgotten gate). I need to check the soundness of the wood as I fear the heavy winds, which I guess aren't uncommon here, will just rip out the screws and do more damage instead of securing it. There were a lot of limbs blown down and two roof tiles so the damage wasn't too bad. The giant dog was fine after his trauma. I'm still a little bit concerned as to why the other two didn't make a fuss to let us know that the giant dog was in trouble.
Then there's the start/completion of the dishwasher repair. My instincts say that the repair were doing is necessary but isn't the final solution.
We'll have to see.
I watched two interesting movies last night. One is a semi-guilty pleasure - The final installment ofThe Creeping Unknown the Chambara, "Sleepy Eyes of Death". Sleepy Eyes is a ronin who was conceived during a black mass! His mother was a victim, not a willing participant and she was raped by a Dutch devil worshipper. After giving birth she kills herself, not via seppuku or hari kari but with the scary method of stabbing herself in the throat.
Sleepy Eyes, half caste and bitter is the most cynical ronin in movies. A deadly swordsman he hates everything and almost everyone. Almost because he doesn't really think of anyone but himself. He does not practice bushido he lives by his own moral code.
This final episode is very much worth seeing. Light gory entertainment with some decent samurai sword fights and surprisingly touching denouements.
The other film is a real oddity. A Vietnamese flic called "The Rebel". It stars Johnny Nyguen. He was the lead fighter bad guy in "Tom Yum Gum". In "The Rebel" he stars, wrote , produces and does the Mac Tag Girl by Lumac
Click images for desktop size: "Mac Tag Girl" by Lumac
fight choreography. His brother directs and other family members are all over the place.
I've seen a few Vietnamese films and wasn't very impressed. This one has excellent cinematography, a decent score and good acting. The fights are impressive enough.
Vietnamese fighting techniques are very brutal. They were meant to win and not to impress. They function by whittling your opponent down to size by breaking a finger and then a wrist and then an arm etc. They toned down some of the brutality but still made a nice high flying balletic style of its more cinematic techniques.
The film was intended for international distribution. That seems certain. Viet Nam is a country whose entire history is of it repelling invaders.
The film is set in the late 1920's when France was the conquering force. It seems apparent that Dawn of the Dead France is standing in for the United States. But putting the USA as the villain would cramp sales. Their are parallels between Mai Lai and Lt. Calley etc.
The vision from the view of the conquered is fascinating. The business as usual of the French is scary and sickening. Statements made by the French mine manager while he whips his slave labor about accepting his "white man's burden" are properly revolting.
The movie goes for an epic feel. WIth its nice period work and extensive battle scenes it succeeds. The final battle is very pleasing.
The only drawback is the lead's abrupt shifts in loyalty. Its easy to accept but causes some concern after the fact.
Still this movie gets a good recommendation from me for a different type of fighting and for its fascinating world view from the prospective of the Vietnamese.
I think Johnny Nyguen will make even better films in the future.
So its time to start my day and figure out how a broke guy can give a celiac with too many chores a happy birthday . . .

December 26, 2008

There is more logic in humor than in anything else
Victor Borge

How Do I Measure Up? by Peter Dribben
Click images for desktop size: "How Do I Measure Up?" by Peter Dribben
What a long day.
I think all good days should be as long as possible. Why is it that bad days get all the hype, the longevity and the honor?13 Ghosts
Very foolish.
The dogs all loved Christmas morning. The giant dog in particular. Every time his number came up in the gift wheel he'd abandon the previous present and take the new one extolling it as the best present he'd ever seen.
When all the gifts were passed out he stole every one of them, making sure they weren't better than anything he got. He was most pleased he got the rawhide he wanted. He carried it around Hanabi by Nekonote
Click image: "Hanabi" by Nekonote
with him all day.
The gentle dog was ecstatic. He got dental bones that he loves but would never ask for. He was happiest of them all because he likes it when everyone else is happy.
My puppy was disappointed. She didn't get either a car or a helicopter. She used to like toys but she never played with them in proper dog fashion. She used to like to walk around with them in her mouth and then occasionally she'd lay them all out and arrange them, very carefully appreciating the shapes and textures. She'd get upset if they were moved and quickly put them back to place.
That changed. The giant dog loves to mangle and destroy toys. For him the reason that they exist is to be chewed, then to have a squeakerectomy, then finally to be de-stuffed. For him it is a glorious ritual that ensures peace on the planet and the removal of tons of carcinogenics and CTF's from the atmosphere.
Fresh Cocktail
Click images for desktop size: "Fresh Cocktail" by Unknown
Since giant dog is so resolute my puppy has lost almost all interest in toys. Now she only will grab one if its to torment me in some way.
My puppy's attitude quickly changed when we got back from our Chinese Christmas dinner. I had a particularly good haul and the smell of steak, ham, pork chops and chicken was maddening to them. If she had gotten a car or helicopter there's no doubt that my puppy would have traded them all to me for just another smell of steak.
All three dogs loved Christmas dinner.
The Chinese Buffet was interesting. I was surprised to find it packed! I had figured it would be empty with a dozen or so lost souls wandering about feeling the warmth of Christmas cheer and willing to spare a smile and some conversation. Instead it was massive families of 12 to 20 people.Zoo The lost souls were there but barely noticeable.
The food was good. I'd gotten three plates before I got to eat anything.
I had a lot of shrimp things. The shumai was very good. I had the best onion rings in the world which are made from calamari and I had roast turkey, mashed potatoes and asparagus! First time I had roast turkey in six or seven years. I just had a small bit but I enjoyed it. I had jasmine tea and ice cream with bananas for afters. I wanted to have coconut pie but didn't feel like running the risk of getting sick.
I was stuffed.
After giving the dogs their special christmas dinner we watched the hot new Korean film, "The Good, The Bad and the Weird". It was pretty entertaining. One thing that made it jarring was well, its a Korean Western based on the Sergio Leone movie. Its based in the 30's, when Korea was conquered by and occupied by the Japanese.
The weird, Kang-ho Song from "The Host", is cool and funny stealing a treasure map. the map is targeted by the Japanese, the bad, Byung-hun Lee, the Russians, the Korean independent Army and finally by the good, Woo-sung Jung, who is brilliant. He's the best horse rider I've seen in movies since Yakima Canutt!
THe film is fun and silly but takes a nasty spin into dark reality whenever the Japanese Army appears. Their evil far outstrips the inchoate evil of the bad. The Army's evil is devastating, Piegan Hunting Party by Charles Marion Russell
Click image: "Piegan Hunting Party" by Charles Russell
complete and disinterested.
The movie is so filled with cool scenes, great stunts and shoot out that the gory destructive power of the Japanese is jarring the way dying men and animals should always be jarring. It moves the movie from a spectacular romp into a dark region for a moment although more so because it seems to come when you're laughing hardest.
It seems clearly premeditated. Its apparent it was an important part of the story. Even though the final denouement is bloody it still has less impact than booking cannons and machine guns smashing living flesh.
Writer-director previous film was the stunning "A Bittersweet Life". He clearly knows what he wants to convey. I'm just not sure of the why here. All in all an excellent movie.
It makes me think of the best films of 2008. So far I can't begin to come up with 10. I can only think of three . . . 1) A Man Who Was Superman - which is already worked its way into my dailyRevenge of the Creature consciousness 2) The Underdog Knight - A Mainland Chinese film about duty, caring and the lost dreams we all have (with good fight scenes) and 3) JCVD - Jean Claude Van Dammes powerful examination of celebrity, money and family. After that I draw a blank. Clint Eastwood's "Gran Torino" might be up there but it hasn't set quite right with me. Some of it is the triteness, some the predictability and some of it the lack of cliche. I'll keep thinking.
So all in all it was the Merriest of Christmases, at least for me.

December 23, 2008

Christmas is coming, it will soon be here
Paul Fix

Forgotten Memories by Reece Townsend
Click images for desktop size: "Forgotten Memories" by Reece Townsend
Yesterday we go distracted.
We went out to get dog food and the feed store had a living Nativity scene. No people but plenty ofDennis the Menace sheep, a donkey and a CAMEL!!
The animals were all fat and happy. Maybe the donkey had a bit of consternation. He kept his ass (that's a pun, son) under the heat lamp and mulishly refused to move!
Inside they had free hot cider and free candy canes! It was totally cool. No one, a couple of Santa
"Santa's Sleigh" by Unknown
customers maybe, was agitated or cranked on anything but good will. We got food and a Christmas treat for the dogs.
My friend had spent a lot of time petting the lambs. When we got home we were disappointed that the giant dog, who is childishly jealous, didn't seem to care or react to the sheep smells at all.
I wanted to take the dogs back to see the animals, which was probably a bad idea and vetoed by the driver.
It was still the nicest monderful Christmas thing I'd ever seen. Everyone was lost in it for a least a little while. We did some grocery shopping. Even in the middle of the day all the stores and parking lots were jammed and went home to recover.
I finished vacuum sealing the Secret Santa doggie treats. Our dogs are still bewildered by this bagging up of stuff that should belong to them.
Happy Holidays
Click images for desktop size: "Happy Holidays" by Unknown
I did some more shoveling. Then we tried to watch some movies. "Transporter 3" was a disappointment. Got up t the 2nd big fight scene then cut it off. Corey Yuen, the guy who directed the first one, knew how to film fights. This one has some dufus American so instead of watching the surprising speed and grace of Jason Stratham we get a lot of fast cuts and a mysteriously shaky camera that gets real annoying.
They're also disemboweled the Frank Martin character, who used to be very cool, pragmatic and lacking in self doubt. They've added in the dreary remote bomb trip (75 feet from the car and you die) so I was quickly losing interest.
Then did get through "Fred Claus". A not very good Christmas-y movie.Teen Beam
I wanted to see it because of the cast. Kevin Spacey as a Christmas villain is like YOW! Paul Giametti, the cool sociopath bad guy from "Shoot 'Em Up" as Santa Claus! Rachel Weiz as the love interest then cameo's by Frank Stallone, Steve Baldwin and Ken Clinton as other brothers who's lives were destroyed by their famous siblings. (Oh, Fred Claus is Santa's brother).
Weiz plays Vince Vaughn's love interest. I'm still trying to figure out how a woman with such a thick Cruel Snowkids
"Cruel Snowkids" by Unknown
Brit accent got a job as a meter maid in Chicago. It made no sense, unless it was intended to make some sort of weird comment on U.S. immigration policies.
The film wast sort of nothing. I found myself thinking about "Deck the Halls', last year's Christmas flic starring MAtthew Broderick and Danny DeVito. At least that one had some glitzy lights and some unrepentant anarchy going for it. This just lay there and I found myself wondering how they got this heavy weight talent to appear in this mess.
We started to watch the old "Here Comes Mr Jordan". I was enjoying it but my friend fell asleep. She needed the sleep. I was liking the movie too much to watch it by myself.
So I made mental plans for Christmas instead while watching the tepid Monday Night Football game.

Santa Claus
Click images for desktop size: "Santa" by Unknown
It seems Billy Idol has fans who were hacked by my saying Steve Steven's thrashed out his talent by being Idol's sideman. To soothe their jangled nerves at Christmas here's Billy Idol doing his version of "Frosty The Snowman". One of the great klazziks of Christmas music is Bob B Soxx and the Blue Jeans inspired rendition of "The Bells Of St Mary's". You'll never be able to watch the old Bing Crosby movie in the same light again.
BB King is a living legend. He finally decided to record a Christmas album. Its as cool as you could want. What I'd expect from a man who offered to give his beloved guitar "Lucille" as a reward to anyone who'd return his little lost puppy. BB King's "Christmas Celebration" proves the blues are for all year long.
John Water's once wrote that he always wanted to write a thank you letter to his grandmother, "Thanks for the five dollars. I used it to buy crack cocaine and a porno mag". In that light heWorld WIthout End released a Christmas album. Its not bad as proven by his choice of Big Dee Irwin and Little Eva's "I Wish You A Merry Christmas". Little Eva is the originator of "The Locomotion and she loco-motivates this track just fine.
Acceptance does an interesting version of "So This Is Christmas" which is just a re-titling of John Lennon's "Happy Christmas (War id Over). The song gives no clue as to why it was re-titled.
Christmas Eve Eve is a good time to start getting traditional. The Blue Hawaiians do a pleasant take on "We Four Kings" while America contributes "Hark! The Herald Angels Sing" to a weary world.

I still have cookies to make, presents to deliver and a few thousand Christmas emails for my puppy to go out. Have to deliver the presents tonight because it going to rain tomorrow . . .

December 18, 2008

I was just thinking I'd like to get back to before
Adam Faith

Violet Diva
Click images for desktop size: "Violet Diva" by Unknown
The carrot dehydrating scheme seemed to go okay. The dried carrots are not as popular with the dogs as the dried sweet potatoes.
That's okay. They provide a lot of color. They dry a nice fiery orange. They'll look cute in the littleInvasion of the Body Snatchers vacuum sealed pouches.
This has suddenly become important. My new Christmas tradition of passing out treats to the neighborhood dogs has grown from 3 to 10. And probably counting.
I have to have two of them ready for tomorrow. That might be three ready by tomorrow.
I also have to design a tag, a sticker to put on the treats so that when I fling these on the neighbor's porch they won't think I'm defiling their homes with wrinkled up garbage . . .
Christmas by Cole Phillips
Click image: "Christmas" by Cole Phillips
I'm going to try to dehydrate regular Idaho potatoes today. The dogs love french fries so this might work. The sweet potatoes are pricey. I was surprised that the 6 we used cost 12 bucks! Rah!
That's made me scale back on my dreams of fat goodie bags for all the pooches.
I'm glad for the project though. Christmas always seems better with insane projects and looming deadlines. Its part of the fun. Isn't it?
Yesterday was frustrating in small ways. There was some stuff I wanted to do but I had to wait for the Christmas delivery all day. Someone told me that the delivery was scheduled for between 7 AM and 1:00 PM. I called at 1:00 and was told it was between 12:00 and 5:00. Then the delivery guys called about 4:00 and said their truck got caught in the snow. They showed up about 6:00.
It went well enough. I'm happy with the delivery, so far. I was surprised that the two delivery guys were Jamaican. The shock being that they'd leave Kingston for this frigid, snowy winter landscape. They talked to me about Christmas in Jamaica but never Winter Shades by Mizz Fonky
Click images for desktop size: "Winter Shades" by Mizz Fonky
explained what dragged them all the way north.
While waiting for them I ended up talking to the guy who owns the little apartment building next door. It was a harmless small talk. I was surprised because the guy is only a few years older than me but looks much older. I'm used to that, but he talked to me as if he were even older than that, as if he were over 90 and waiting for death to creep in and grab him at any moment.
Maybe he was just having a bad day. He told me had three kids and got them all the same Christmas present, to avoid squabbling. He got them each a turkey deep fryer.
I'd always thought of deep fried turkey as a Southern dish. He said he'd had it once and thought it Battle Vixens was delicious. He wanted to share that delicious memory with his kids. Then he got worried about whether that was enough of a present.
I told him I thought it was. Even if they didn't react on the day sometime later they'd give it a try and be stoked and remember him and what he was trying to do.
Christmas
Click image: "Xmas" by WallColl
We ended up with him giving me so snow shoveling tips and advice on how to get the two snow blowers, that I avoid, up and running.
Ended the day by watching a Japanese film, "Rockers". It was pretty enjoyable. I got a copy that some guys I know put English subtitles on. Its a comedy about a a band from Hakata looking to make it big and go pro in Tokyo. There were a lot of jokes about communication in Japan. The kids from Hakata having a hard time being understood by the rest of Japan because of the accents and dialects. Something I never expected.
The music is all Japanese post punk. I liked it.
There's about 9 bands showcased in the flic. One of them had a very cool female brass section! The movie itself forces every conceivable rags to riches musician story into its 90 minutes. All amusing and, at times, oddly exciting.
Warmly recommended for Christmas viewing.

Rushing to get caught up, so todays Christmas music is sort of a hodgepodge. All very cool but hastily thrown together.
Merry Christmas 2008 by S4W
Click images for desktop size: "Merry Christmas 2008" by S4W
I don't imagine anyone expected Joe Pesci, yes, that Joe Pesci from "Raging Bull". The guy who asked, "So you think I'm funny? You think I'm here to amuse you?" in "Goodfellows" would record a Christmas song. If you did you're sicker than I am and we should meet for coffee. I cant speak to the quality of the song the mere fact that Joe Pesci recorded "If It Doesn't Snow On Christmas" is enough for me and should be for you too.
Up there in the I don't believe it is The Mighty Mighty BossTones did "This Time Of Year". A Christmas tune from the kings of punk ska? YOW!
One day maybe I'll understand the fascination that the Scandinavians have with the Beatles and with Christmas, to the point that they have to combine the two. Not only is there the Fab Four but there is also this Danish band Rubber Band here doing "Mary's Boy Child" in a poppy Beatles The Mummy's Hand style. Even the album cover is a take off on the Beatle's "Help" here featuring the four in Father Christmas costumes.
Les Paul was so cool they had to make a special guitar for him. Check out the cool country jazz stylings in his chilled out "White Christmas" he really makes the point that everyone else is over reaching.
And we'll wrap it up with The Pete Currey Orchestra doing "Drums for Christmas". One thing I hope we agree on is that you can never have too many drum breaks no matter what time of year!

December 15, 2008

Don't let the fear of striking out hold you back
Babe Ruth

Football Pin up by Al Moore
Click images for desktop size: "Football Pin Up" by Al Moore
The giant dog is feeling better. Much better.
In fact I don't think he recalls a second of how ill he was. This was reinforced after he woke me at The Day the Earth Stood Still 4:30 to go outside. His urgency wasn't related to anything internal. The rain had started and the sound of rain on the ice made him think the house was being stalked by thousands of dangerous kittens.
It was raining so hard the cat that lives here decided to come inside with the dogs.
So he's fine. I will probably collapse sometime today from lack of sleep. Can't afford to do that. Too much to do today.
Spent yesterday watching some pretty poor excuses for football Christmas Tree
Click image: "Christmas Tree" by Unknown
games, seeing Pete Carroll on "Sixty Minutes" (I was impressed with him. Very impressed.) And falling downstairs.
I'd been searching for two movies - the Japanese "Dog Star" DVD, which is very cool movie about a dog who dies. Because he led such a great dog life he's allowed a request. He returns to earth as a human being shape so he can be close again to his female mistress, so he can tell her how much he loved being her dog.
The other movie was "Bobby of Greyfriar", a Disney flic. I don't much care for Disney movies. Not sure why. Perhaps its the consistent stable of directors and cinematographers. For whatever reason I find Disney flics as appealing as McDonalds.
Finally sorted through the stacks and found them. Actually I didn't, my friend did. What I managed to find were some live Stevie Ray Vaughn DVD's which I'd semi-forgotten about.
After sorting through the disks I decided to move them downstairs, to make room under my desk. Since I'm converting everything to H264 they've become more of a back up than a watching media.
I was carrying about 200 of them down the stairs when I slipped on the steps. I was falling and Brocal by Remohi
Click images for desktop size: "Untitled" by Brocal Remohi
trying to catch the movies as I slid down the stairs.
I wasn't hurt much. The disks didn't do well. About 4 of them just split or cracked. Lucky for me these were all movies I had good back up of already. I'm nervous about the others. The basement is not a clean room and concrete skidding plastic is pretty short lived.
There was nothing "vital" in the disks, no last copy extant of the missing footage from "It's A Wonderful Life" where George Bailey throttles Uncle Billy and then sends Zazu out to sell matches on the street corner. But stuff I enjoyed having.
Maybe its all fine. I remember when CD's first game out. One of the approved selling methods was to throw a disk on the floor and then watch the salesman tread on it, pick it up and have it play Destroy All Monsters perfectly. Why did I believe that?
The only other noteworthy event was that the couple that adopted one of my puppy's foster dogs, and whom I'm fond of, STILL HAVE NOT HAD THEIR BABY!
One of my puppy's litter mates is scheduled to have her first litter at almost the exact same time. This is more strain on me than is fair!
My friend wants to start new Christmas traditions. Private traditions . . . Barring a last minute invite from her parents we're going to go to the Chinese buffet for Christmas dinner. I like that for far too many reasons.
The unambiguous ones are that they'll have turkey! With Chinese stuffing? And dog bacon! And neither my friend or I have ever gotten sick there! Has me stoked. I'm working on a better way to line the plastic in my inner jacket pockets to load up on serious dog treats.
The other tradition we should start is to get a dehydrator. While shopping she saw a bag of sweet potato dog treats for $16.00! The plan is to dehydrate a mess of sweet potatoes and then to leave them Christmas eve at the door steps of all of our neighborhood dog friends!
I like that tradition a lot!
The final new tradition is that she should change her birthdate to whenever I arbitrarily decide it should be. I never remember things like that especially when your birthday is after Christmas and Not for Sale
Click images for desktop size: "Christmas is Not for Sale" by Unknown
before the New Years. This year I've decided her birthday is on Boxing Day. Since she won't, or can't, contradict me. It stays and is official.

Doo wop is maybe the purest urban music. Four or five guys hanging around a street corner singing some of the hits off of the radio, learning how to apply church modal harmonies with gospel emotion to a pop ethos.
Doo wop was the streets. There were black bands, white bands and Hispanic doo wop groups, just people raising their voices in song from New York to LA they thrived and made some sounds that are now pure standards. In the pre civil rights days its remarkable that there were several integrated doo wop groups. The odd part is that they recorded and toured with no big fan fare or any particular notice being taken.Dr Jekyll and Mister Hyde
One of the most successful doo wop groups were the Temptations. They got so big that they stopped being thought of a a doo wop vocal band and were seen as the vanguard of the MoTown sound. They recorded what is possibly the definitive doo wop Christmas record with their stellar version of "Silent Night". The only complaint is that it might be too slick and over produced and lack the spontaneous bite that makes vocal music great.
The song builds from the doo wop sound pioneered by that ultra slick and smiling cool of the Platters. The Platters were definitely alright even if they were more geared towards night clubs than flat bed truck stages. Their version of "Silent Night, Holy Night" is worth a listen and carries its own chilly warmth to it.
The Orioles "(It's Gonna Be A) Lonely Christmas" is closer to the roots and has a rough primitive feel that suits the holidays well. While The Cadillacs "Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer" is nicely ebullient and totally secular reminder of Christmas being fun.
southern group with the awesome moniker The Harmony Grits do a cool version of "Santa Claus is Coming to Town" that threatens to, but never quite explodes in your face.
The Four Seasons were a 60's hit machine, with pretty good reason. They did a pretty forgettable Christmas album that had a few decent moments, on of them was their pure urban version of "Santa Claus is Coming to Town".Vaughn Bode
Click images for desktop size: "Untitled" by Vaughn Bode
While the Harmony grits version reeks of the delta and road side diners the Four Season's version smell of Philadelphia and Gimbels Christmas Parades. Good stuff.
One of the great innovators in doo wop was Dion of The Belmonts. Dion DiMucci reinvented himself nearly as often as Madonna. But he followed a musical line not simply fashion. Presently the "King of the New York Streets" is playing acoustic country blues! Its listenable stuff. When Dion was with the Belmonts they never really did any Christmas stuff. I don't think you can talk doo wop without talking about Dion, so here's one his his later tracks, doing that cool Phil Spectre song The Evil Dead "Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)". Its more rock than doo wop but it still sounds nice Christmas week.
Doo wop still hasn't died. It continues in a lot of styles and samples. One of the strangest are the large 80's looking acapella groups. Rockapella got famous by doing the title song for some PBS kids show, "Where In the World is Carmen San Diego" . . . they also did a pretty lamentable Christmas album. The track, "Silver Bells" is inoffensive and lilts as nicely as any song ever taken from a Bob Hope movie . . .

December 14, 2008

Is it Sunday yet?

The Vet
Click images for desktop size: "The Vet" by Unknown
The giant dog vomited this morning. There was blood in it.
Being a dog he's staying pretty perky but refused his food even though it had egg in it.The Boogie Man
Have to watch him closely.
We went out and did four hours of shopping yesterday. Not Christmas shopping but just get supplies in survivor type shopping. I started to weaken at about 2 and a half hours. Too much time on my feet with no food and no pain pills. Got through it by steering all the carts and seeing how close I could come to the too many other shoppers out there.Christmas Lights 34
Click image: "Christmas Lights 34" by Unknown

We have discovered that the Salvation Army Store here is pretty good.
Got home and tried to watch a dog movie, "The Twelve Dogs of Christmas." Great title. Movie seemed to have everything, Christmas AND dogs. It was dreadful. Acting so poor that it couldn't be called amateurish. Only the crazy dog lady had a spark of talent but even she got sucked into the poorly conceived role and terrible writing. Even the costuming was insipid, and I've yet to comprehend the reason this "depression era" film was shot through constant heavy diffusion filters.
My friend thought it was exploitive. I just thought it was bad. Had to turn it off when, well, the plot is that this town has banned dogs, which is kind of "huh?" but I could bear with that. They have a Zen Garden
Click images for desktop size: "Zen Garden" by Unknown
dog catcher who seems to have some great disturbance mentally, or at least that's the way they decided to play him. He catches up the dogs in the town and they just disappear. It appears that he hates dogs so much that he sells them to one of those notorious depression era dog fighting clubs . . . okay. I guess there's a lot of money to be made catering to the blood thirsty desires of the homeless and unemployed. I see that's evil but the dog fights are between a female Old English Sheep dog (who was very cute) and a neutered German Shepherd . . . I figure the headline fight was a pekinese against a Chihuahua.
The only commonsensical thing was they didn't show any dog fighting. Instead a 10 year old girl City Without Baseball (with the stupidest hat and pig tails in movie history) swoops down and rescues the dogs while 20 adult men stand around and watch her escape. There's too much dumbness to list and it all comes off as just dull.
The dogs are cute but clearly not movie trained. They claim, as an odd plot point that there are 51 dogs at the crazy dog lady's house. But through out the movie I saw less than a dozen all toll.
This is just a movie to avoid.
Then watched the problematic "Frost/Nixon".
Frank Langella gives a great performance. Its Oscar worthy for sure. All the acting is top notch. The film was . . . not that good. I liked that they hammered home a bit too incessantly that what Nixon was despised for is the same stuff that party boy frat house cheerleader George W is doing and laughing at us about. Its a point worth making.
The focus is too much on David Frost. A Brit mid-atlantic man who comes off pretty despicable in his own right.
I mean here's a guy flying first class, staying in the best hotels and eating at all the best restaurants in LA ad we're supposed to feel empathy because he's using his own fortune and borrowing from his rich buddies to make this massive interview.
I didn't buy it. It made the whole affair feel sleazy, like being in the house of a famous porn star. Langella's performance made it work and held things together. He makes Nixon human and vulnerable while not letting us forget the monster and destroyer that he most surely was.
Christmas-Best Night of the Year
Click images for desktop size: "The Best Night of the Year" by Unknown
Its a fine line he walked and he did it gracefully. It would be like watching someone do a portrait of Hitler.
I was up and down all night. I'll put it off to no college football anymore . . . and worry about Steve Sarkasian proving to me he is a total jerk by trying to hire away the entire USC coaching staff to go with him up to Washington. Doesn't he know that there are other good coaches out there?

Today Christmas music focuses on punk Xmas. I always thought it was funny that punk bands paid any attention to Christmas at all. The first Christmas punk single I heard was from some Gardena band. They did a thrash version of "O Come All Ye Faithful". It wasn't very good. The record had a yellow label. And that's all I really remember about it. That yellow label and its adolescent scream of "we're so rebellious we even hate Christmas, but we still like Boys' Prison presents."
The Dickies thrashy "Silent Night" is the first song I remember having an impact. I got it on this wild 45. It was pressed on clear vinyl that was shaped like a Christmas tree! The other tracks I've lost but they were great too. (Maibooz "Santa's Gone Surfin'" and some turgid mawkish thing I don't remember. I don't have either of them to post.)
That was soon followed up with the freakish follow-up "(Its Gonna Be a) Punk Rock Christmas" by the Ravers. Its bad but funny and incredibly dated. I never heard of the Ravers before or since. Figure they were a mock band made up by some producer with dollar signs in his eyes who figured this could be a novelty hit.
Later on we got the awesome Shonen Knife doing "Space Christmas". A nice bouncy Christmas tune with nice crunchy guitar.
Which somehow leads us to The Presidents Of The United States doing "Space Piglet". This is on a Surfer Sihlouette by Chris Welch
Click images for desktop size: "Surfer Sihlouette" by Chris Welsh
punk compilation. I don't like that the new punk would accept this.
I think that the tradition started with the Seattle garage punks of the 60's. The sonics were part of a compilation album that the producer figured would generate a lot of interest. Its a pretty collectable album. Pretty amazing because its sort of dull. The Sonics stuff rules okay, but the Wailers are mawkish and dull and I can't even remember the other tracks because they're nothing but bad.
The Sonics tune, written to the tune of "Farmer John" was so good it was covered by Gruesomes covering "Santa Claus". The coolness of the chorus, "I want a twangy guitar, a cute little honey and lots of money, Santa Claus," says all I need it to say.
Before they eventually folded like a giant star collapsing in on itself the Sonics did another Marvel Holiday Special Christmas tune, "It's Christmas" doesn't destroy civilization like a lot of their tracks but nothing the Sonics do is ever dull or without interest.

Last week I was 11-5 in my football picks. In the past couple of years that would have been one of my off weeks. This season its one of my best. I figure corrupt officials! Its the only thing that explains the bizarre calls that have become a part of every game recently. My friend was 12-4. Which is easy to explain. She cheated.
With only three games left in the season the really cruddy games out number games of interest and good games. No one is really dominating are looking uncrushable. No one's looking that good either. A lot of teams are looking that bad and a record number of teams are looking remarkably mediocre and boring.
As usual my picks are in bold.

New Orleans at Chicago - I picked the Saints. This was an incredibly unimpressive game. That the Bears will probably end up in first place this weekend is a shame. They're a really poor team. The Saints have broken my heart. They looked just as bad as the Bears.

Washington at Cincinnati - The Redskins are in serious meltdown mode. Their stars are complaining, the intensity is fading as they are looking at another 8-8 season. Personally I don't know how they played so well during that early stretch. The Bengals are officially a disaster. The bright spot of the season being a tie with the Eagles. So the Redskins should pull out of this one Christmas 31
Click images for desktop size: "Christmas Tree" by Unknown
pretty easily and build up some confidence.

Tampa Bay at Atlanta - A game of the week pretender. The Buccaneers looked pretty horrid against the flimsy Panthers last week. Matt Ryan is good but showed signs of the fatigue of the long season against the Saints. Both teams have their back against the wall. You'd have to figure this one to be low scoring and close. Normally I'd pick Buc's coach Jon Gruden to do something stupid to cost them the game, but Ryan looks like he's dealing with a tired arm and dead legs. He might be able to pull it together but the Tampa Bay defense should be too tough.

Tennessee at Houston - Since the Titans have clinched everything you can in the regular season the Texans best hope is for a total loss of concentration by the 12-1 Titans. Otherwise this could beCaptain Video really ugly. I wouldn't be too surprised to see the Texans jump to an early lead before Tennessee wakes up and brings down the hammer.

Detroit at Indianapolis - I can think of no reason whatsoever to watch this game. Its a live scrimmage for the Colts. Calvin Johnson will play well for the Lions but no one will be able to get the ball to him.

Green Bay at Jacksonville - A strong contender for cruddy game of the week. Two teams with lost seasons playing out the string so they don't have to give refunds on the season tickets. No offense for the Jaguars. The packers looking more than a little bit lost and dazzled. I suppose Green Bay could get crazy like they did against the Bears but it seems unlikely on the road.

San Diego at Kansas City - The AFC West is so poor the Chargers aren't officially eliminated yet. These guys are playing for pride and next years contract. Kansas City has some talent but very little on defense. This is another cruddy game but Ladanian Tomlinson might wake up and go crazy. So "Swarm" detl by Tessa
Click images for desktop size: "Swarm - detail" by Tessa
might Larry Johnson . . .

San Francisco at Miami - I'm sure the Dolphins were looking at this as a lock game but after the fire Mike Singletary has bought to the 49er's and proven last week in their thumping of the Jets the Dolphins had better be leery. They've got much more talent than the Niners and they still have a shot at the playoffs. They still have a shot at winning the division. This suddenly is a game of the week contender!

Buffalo at the New York Jets - A lot of the luster is off this game. Two badly exposed teams. This could be competitive for all the wrong reasons. I'm going with Brett Favre to make a march to the playoffs. I'll be surprised if he doesn't throw at least one incredibly painful pick.

Seattle at St Louis - Cruddy game of the week. This could top the Auburn 3-2 game for inept The Crawling Eye humor.

Minnesota at Arizona - The two worst divisions in football put their two best teams against each other. What a yawn. The Vikings D will harass Kurt Warner a little bit but he'll still get his 300 yards. The Cardinal D will still give the Vikings their 13 points and we can all get to sleep early.

New England at Oakland - The Patriots are still mathematically alive in the playoff hunt but Matt Cassel's, the Patriot's QB, father passed away this week. Who can imagine what he's going through. I'm not sure he'll even play even though he returned to the team to practice. A tragic game whatever happens.

Denver at Carolina - Two teams playing bad football even with division leading records. Jay Cutler could lead the Bronco's to a win but their defense is way to poor to stop the Panthers too few strengths.
Santa Checking it Twice
Click images for desktop size: "Santa Checking it Twice" by Unknown

Pittsburgh at Baltimore - Game of the week. Running scared Willie Parker won't do much against a healthy and vicious Ravens defense. The Ravens believe in themselves and are nasty enough to prevent any miracles. The Steelers are leading the division due to inept calls and miracles. The Ravens have seen them already. Joe Flacco, Ravens rookie QB, is playing like a vet and not showing the expected fatigue. this game will have more hard hitting than the rest of the league. This is for the division lead, for pride and for honor. Ray Lewis is fighting Father Time and knows this might be his last chance to be on top of the world. They'll be focused and ready to break the other teams heart. This might be the game of the year. If it goes to overtime we'll se who has the bigger heart.

Cleveland at Philadelphia - The only thing this game will accomplish is to give the sportswriters the Beast of Blood chance to exclaim how the Eagles have pulled a dramatic turnaround and have gotten hot at the right time just like the Giants did last year. Its still a snoozer.

New York Giants at Dallas - The hyped game of the week. It should still be interesting. The guys are pro's so I don't put too much worry into Witten, Romo and Romo punching each other out during the game. What is a worry is just inept the Cowboy offense has looked for the last 8 games. The Giants won't have their top rusher which will keep the game closer than it should be.

As usual these picks are a certain test of your laughing muscles. Even my puppy thinks she do better picks . . .

Giant dog going up and down. Outside by himself now, gorging on grass. We didn't do any Christmas decorating yesterday as my friend has off from the 19th until after New Years. Seemed smart to wait until she could relax and have fun. Sick giant puppy might cause some plans to change. No difference to me or her so long as the big galloot feels good.

December 11, 2008

We have learned to fly in the air like birds and swim in the sea like fish, but we have not learned the simple art of living together as brothers
Martin Luther King

Tides Of Change by Panic Wolf
Click images for desktop size: "Tides of Change" by Panic Wolf
I can't imagine I'm not the only person who's aggravated by George Bush going on about what a great party time he's had as president. He sounds like an unrepentant frat rat, which I guess he is and just never out grew.French Dr No
To celebrate the first black president Bush plans to retire to a restricted community. I didn't think such things still existed. I was wrong. Hatred and intolerance will always find a nasty way to fight on.
I'm also irked that he claims to have saved us from any future terrorist attacks. No freedom. A Stalinist regime and the price he The Three Stooges
Click image: "The Three Stooges"
claims is that we've had no more terrorist attacks. Its not worth it. I lost a friend in the Pentagon crash so I don't think lightly of the hatred that generated that but since there were only two foreign attacks in out history both at the World Trade Center I don't think the suffering Bush inflicts on us as his legacy probably prevented much of anything.
When you don't recant the lies you've been caught out in I find it impossible to accept many other claims.

Didn't do much yesterday. Got some things accomplished but never enough.
Tranquil Surface
Click images for desktop size: "Tranquil Surface" by Unknown
I fell asleep with the giant dog, watching "Law and Order". He woke me shortly after when Jack McCoy came on. He can't control his excitement on seeing or hearing Jack McCoy . . . When I woke up it felt like my mouth was filled with dry blood. This is a new one. I went to brush my teeth and, sure enough, my mouth was filled with blood. I have no idea what caused this. No side effects but how strange.
The internet went out for about 2 hours. Its most worrisome when you only have a VOIP (voice over internet protocol) phone. Still, this is the longest its ever gone down in the 7 months since we've had the cheap alternative ISP (internet service provider). I remember it going down far March Of Comics 7 more often when we had the full over priced dsl service. So no real complaints.
I did feel oddly isolated and slightly anxious not being able to get email.
Took the dogs for a walk. It was worse outside then I expected. A nice cold sunny day but the rain and slush had frozen everything into a nice icy sheet. I fell 3 times. The last one sort of dazed me but no serious damage. And no dogs dragging me down the street by their leashes.
I was looking at some old reports. I think I'm shrinking. Before Thanksgiving I was 6 feet tall and 192. On Tuesday I was just under 6 foot and 188 pounds! I like the movie "The Incredible Shrinking Man" so I think this is cool. You can shrink with no pain and get to fight spiders with a pin for a sword so I'm sort of looking forward to shrinking. I figure if I'm smaller we cannot only have so many more adventures but it will hurt a lot less when I fall on the ice.
Two small pieces of good news. All the schools and hospitals use a couple of different services to black list web sites. Partially to protect the kids and partly to keep the staff from skeeving off. They automatically block all bogs, sex, porn and any mention of weapons. I'm always happy when they tell me they've approved my puppy's site so that the kids can see.
Yesterday I got two such messages. One from the Mayo Clinic and another from the State of Indiana Board of Education. Its the first time I've heard from a state. Usually its a county, or a district Violet Christmas Night
Click images for desktop size: "Violet Christmas Night" by Unknown
and most often individual schools. I put on another movie. The giant dog was excited. He thought we were going to watch his new hero "White Dog" again. He was disappointed when the movie was the Mainland China film, "The Underdog Knight".
I guess when we owe them 3 or 4 years of our Gross National Product its no longer cool to call Mainland China, Red China.
China seems to have decided on two different strategies for their entertainment. There are the big Hong Kong movies that they successfully promote internationally and then there are the films that are intended for just China. Some of those just in China only movies are pretty fantastic. "Assembly" was a devastating war movie, even if it was from the side of the People's Liberation Army.
"The Underdog Knight" is pretty stunning. A much smaller film much more Chinese than I could Santa Claus Conquers the Martians completely grasp. A lot of history that its just assumed that we're familiar with. Its embarrassing that I have no idea who the great Chinese heroes are.
The movie is about Loa Sin. His entire life has been devoted to joining the Chinese Navy, the tough guy equivalent of our Marines. In the Navy he excels. He worships his commander who respects Loa Sin.
Then Loa Sin has to pay the price of heroism. A fellow recruit falls into the icy water and seems doomed. Loa Sin dives in after him and rescues him, The guy he saves is fine but Loa Sin has suffered brain damage from the oxygen deprivation. The brain damage has had a grave effect on his intelligence. He's functioning at about a 9 year olds level.
Its something of an indictment of the system that the kid is given a medal and then sent home with no pension or plan for his care and future.
Loa Sin lives with his mother and trains maniacally. He doesn't practice kung fu but the vicious street fighting techniques used by the Navy. He has a solid grasp of reality but channels through a consistent lifetime of experience and a nine year old grasp of the emotions.
He continues to act as if he is in the Navy. He looks in the mirror and speaks to himself as if he were his commanding officer.
His CO left the Navy and tried to stop a mugging. The CO succeeded but was seriously injured. Loa Sin interprets this as a command. "The word is to destroy evil. I am the word."
Loa Sin attacks purse snatchers, mugger and con men all of which are far too prevalent in modern Fashion Sex Politics and Music 4
Click images for desktop size: "Fashion Sex Politics and Music" by S4W
Bejing. The cops would like to stop him, they call him "Kick and Run".
His mother wants him to stop fighting. His girlfriend, who seems to have stayed in love and loyal to him through his accident, wants him to stop fighting. Loa Sin can't stop. It is his reason for life, to stop the evil, the liars and the cheaters.
He fights and it is brutal. And yet the fight scenes are tinged with this moving desperation. Loa Sin not only needs to fight his battles but we need him to keep fighting for us.
There's a plot. Anthony Wong, the noted Hong Kong actor, plays a fabulous villain. Wong is not evil. He is proud of being a criminal. He has his own rigid code of ethics that are lofty and can only be considered ideals.
The sub plots involve his relationship with the beautiful girl who claims to be loyal to him and clearly loves him and cares about him. There's also his best friend a nine year old deaf kid. Their A Lady Without A Passport friendship is very well portrayed. The deaf kid is probably smarter than Loa Sin and is truly his friend and ally.
Finally there is the Police Lieutenant who is all shot and beaten up. He lost his partner to some of the criminals that Lao Sin beats up everyday. He empathizes with Lao Sin, even admires him. He and Wong are the only characters in the film who feel heartbreak when confronted with Loa Sin's reality.
The plot develops in a most satisfying and exciting way but the movie isn't about police tactics and fighting. Like all the best films its about the characters, unique people who are forged by the world they must live in.
For me its another of the best films of 2008.

Todays Christmas music is a gentler mixed bag.
Untitled by VM
Click images for desktop size: "Untitled" by VM
I've always been fond of those odd little stings that bands used to put out to celebrate the Season. Things like Dennis Wilson's "Christmas Message" used to play in between the songs on the radio and gave us the impression that we were closer to the pop stars we loved then we actually were.
They've tried to regenerate this tiny Christmas custom with stuff like Jackie Chan's "Christmas Message" . These things have a certain charm for me anyway and when you throw it on the tape of CD they break up the songs nicely and seem to take you to someplace different in Christmas land.
In terms of foreign land Christmases. Here's two. The first is crazy cool weird. A Swedish band calls themselves the Fab Four. They released two albums of Christmas music. The take is that they do the tracks in the style of the Beatles . . . yeah. Its weird. Like this crazy take on "Hark! The Hearld Angels Sing", Aliens 2which is sort of like to the tune of the Beatles, "Help!"
The there's that most foreign land in America, HAWAII. One of the coolest records I used to own was the 45 of Alfred Apaca doing "Mele Kalihimala". It had a picture sleeve with Apaca standing in front of a trimmed out palm tree. I lost the single years ago but remember it fondly. This is a new version, The Blue Hawaiians doing "Mele Kalihimala". Its no way as cool as Apaca's but it's cool in its own right. "Mele Kalihimala is the thing to say on a bright Hawaiian Christmas Day." Cool stuff.
Finally you always need songs that aren't about Christmas per se but still fit the mood. Normally I'm not much into piano music. Too many arguments with keyboardists . . . but this is a song I'd like to learn piano to play. Its another slowed down take on a Buddy Holly number done by another guitarist, Albert Lee singing Buddy Holly's "Learning The Game". Its as beautiful as you can stand it and perfect for tree trimming with that certain special one.

December 10, 2008

Light is good. It lets us see the world we live in
Tsiu Hark

Tangents by M Prado
Click images for desktop size: "Tangents" by M Prado
Can't sleep.
Again.
Some pain and discomfort but mainly just the blackness of the world oozing out of the sewers.
The Brain that Wouldn't Die Everybody's got a right to be happy. Don't they?
It really bugs me that there is so much bad going on, companies closing their doors and stiffing their long time employees out of pay checks while we allow the guys with the padlocks to pay themselves then help them go back into business under another name.
Luis Royo
Click images for desktop size: "Untitled" by Luis Royo
I think it was always this way. I don't think there's a time in modern history where the working man controlled his own fate and destiny. Where you could work hard and be fairly rewarded.
I had friends who parents seemed rich. They had money because they lived in the same house for 30 years, kept the same job and lived on about the same money in 1988 that they lived on in 1958. They saved the rest to send their kids to school and to have enough to take some vacations when it was time to retire.
The Forest
Click images for desktop size: "The Forest" by Unknown
Then Reagan destroyed the unions and Bush destroyed the economy and the environment and here we stand, scared confused and bewildered.
I had a good day yesterday. My friend stayed in to work from home and to take me on a couple of errands. I like having her around.
It made the day pleasant even though the weather was atrocious. After 18 degree days 40 seems balmy. There was about 4 inches of snow during the night then there was a steady rain all day. The ground is mud and slush. It is all going to freeze today. Its going to be low 30's and then hit 16 tonight.
There was some good/bad news at her work place. Her assistant had been MIA on Monday. Worried and concerned there. My friend's assistant finally got in touch with her yesterday. She developed a The Gore Gore Girls severe kidney infection. She sent her assistant home from the office.
Talking about that we got into a small discussion about how she has fears about her boss leaving. She believes that things have never gone well for her when a new boss has come in.
I can think of two fairly recent instances where I can see the root of her fears. I don't buy it as a legitimate fear but you can't ever tell people what they feel or make them feel any differently. I don't like her being afraid of anything.
I guess the good news is her assistant wasn't more seriously hurt . . .
The giant dog and I watched a movie last night. The giant dog is a fan of "Law and Order" repeats. I watched a few episodes of the show originally because it had Michael Moriarity and Paul Sorvino in it, then they got in the great Jerry Orbach.
I don't live a life conducive to watching shows regularly but with all the steady stream of repeats it seems near impossible not to watch "Law and Order" almost anytime.
The giant dog recognizes the theme music to the show and when he hears it he gets into the love seat and waits. He'll stare at the TV for a while until his attention drifts but he gets riveted and excited as soon as he hears San Wannamaker's (Jack McCoy's) voice. He stays glued until he stops talking but waits a bit before drifting away.
Last night I watched the Sam Fuller movie "White Dog".
Christmas Handicrafts
Click images for desktop size: "Christmas Handicrafts" by Unknown
Sam Fuller is very high up in my pantheontology. The man makes manic movies that rule. My favorite quote from him was, "Blood is not the color of ketchup."
Fuller had a crime reporter's eye for nuance and detail and an unflinching eye. He worked in melodramatic frame works to lull the viewer into simple acceptance then upended the world with garish flashes of reality.
Fuller's world was full of tough people, people with goals and obsessions. His movies like "Forty Guns" and "The Naked Kiss" gave us women who were soft and feminine but every bit as tough as a man.
His characters all had a central ambiguity as they struggle to achieve their goals while trying to be the person they see in the mirror. Most of the time this is impossible.Tobor The Great
When "White Dog" was first in production there was a strong buzz about the movie. It was based on an article written by Romain Gary, a Hollywood writer married to waif actress Jean Seberg ("Breathless" is her legend making role.) After the story was published he took a lot of flac and heat. Racists in particular claimed he made the whole thing up.
It was a supposedly true story about his wife's finding a "white dog". A dog that was trained from birth to kill blacks.
The first time I'd heard of this was in Louis Lamour's "Hondo" where Hondo explains to a boy that his constant companion dog has been trained to smell and hate Indians. Hondo trained him by paying Indians with bottles of whisky to come in and beat the pup with a stick every day from the time it was a puppy. Lamour some how portrayed this as a cagey good thing to do . . .
In Gary's story white racists would by black wino's or junkies to do the same thing to raise a dog Don't Fret by Lawn Elf
Click images for desktop size: "Don't Fret" by Lawn Elf
that fears and then sees its fear turn to hatred. A dog only sees in black and white so its mental unbalancing is an easy thing to do.
Fuller was always very pro-civil rights and a dog lover. This seemed like a fascinating potentially great film.
Then the studio's refused to release it. After Ralph Bakshi's disastrous "Coon Skin" they feared a major racist back lash.
I can't see it in the movie, but I'm not black. I know a lot of people don't understand why I sometimes flinch at the Frito Bandito or cringe at some of Speedy Gonzaleze's relatives. When your ethnic group only has Alphonso Bedoya, Ricky Ricardo and Freddie Prinze as media role models I can see being touchy.
Thanks to the efforts of a few people in LA the famous and dead Z channel showed the film one time. A lot of people came over to the house and we watched it and we were all pretty disappointed The Maltese Falcon for different reasons.
Last night was the first time I'd seen the movie since 1982. Its been given the Criterion treatment. They're doing a good job of getting Fuller's movies out there.
The DVD looks good. The movie isn't as disappointing as I remembered. There were signs of what could have thrown me into a tail spin.
First the cast Kristy McNicol in the Jean Seberg role. Kristy McNicol was a little actress who got hot for a while because she was on some dufus TV show I watched once and hated. McNicol is no Jean Seberg, who was a fascinating character in her own right. McNicol's performance is bland and stick figure like. There are jarring moments, like when she comes on all 80's disco and Fiorucci and more than a few times she is sitting in scenes looking like a bland hunk of white bread trying to decide if its time to slowly turn moldy, but the performance is bland enough to not distract even though it adds nothing to the story.
Burl Ives does a yeoman's job as the animal training center owner. The surprise was Paul Winfield. He gives a bravura performance as the black genius who is committed in a Dr Frankenstein way to "curing" the "white dog".
Its turns out to be a decent but not great movie.
Five dogs played the central character who is a loving but mentally unbalanced animal. Fuller insisted that the Humane Society be present on the film. The dog actors were the best I've seen in an American film. There was no tail wagging as they killed, they moved with lithe power and it was a grim reminder that the sweet creatures who love us have jaws capable of breaking bones, that they can attack with a cruel punishing power.
I was glad to know about the Humane supervision. I know Fuller to be a dog lover but I always remember that Luis Bunel filmed the beautiful curtsey of a mule by having someone off camera shoot the mule in the head with a rifle! I have problems with art achieved for whatever purpose by using inhuman means.
Giant dog disagrees with me. He thought it was the greatest movie he's ever seen. He sat with me Petlovers by S4W
Click images for desktop size: "Pet Lovers" by S4W
on the love seat and was riveted from beginning to end. He watched intently through out. His expression changed he stood up, he whined and snarled at scenes.
He clearly was not "seeing" the same movie I was. I think his version was better.
He got positively joyous when the "White Dog" escaped from his kennel and ran around the animal compound. Giant dog was ecstatic as the dog ran past elephants and chimpanzees and figured out how to leap over an electric fence.
He whimpered when the dog crashed against the bars of his kennel in an attempt to kill Paul Winfield. And smiled at me when the dog finally calmed down enough to take the cheeseburger from Winfield's outstretched hand.
And he was especially rapt when the "White Dog" chased down Richard Roundtree, chased him through the doors of a church and savaged the man. That made me a little nervous when after theVaran the Unbelievable scene Giant Dog looked at me and smiled, panting slightly. (Maybe I should be nicer to him.)
There was one excellent scene: the "White Dog" has escaped and is prowling the garbage cans for something to eat when a black child comes outside to play. The dog starts to pad towards it and there's real suspense that he'll see the child. The suspense is doubled when the child's mother comes out into the street and scolds the child to come back indoors.
Giant dog raised up during this scene. He was reacting. I think he was watching a different movie than me for sure. I was watching a movie about a good animal transformed and warped by the illogical hatred of men into something that seemed cruel and hurt. He was watching a movie about a dog running around and scaring other animals and getting cheeseburgers for beating up people!
I really have to make a point of being nicer to him. Last night he refused to get off the bed so I Wet Back could lie down!
I think this is a sign that I have to decide just how good of a friends are we?
(That was a joke. We're very good friends and he'd never hurt anyone . . . unless a cheeseburger was in the offing . . . wait, no that's my puppy who'd sell me out for a cheeseburger!!)
I have no idea what, if anything, I'll get accomplished today. That's what bothers me the most about these white nights. What they mean to the day.
I promised some Christmas music. One thing to understand is that when you're in a working band the prime gigs are always New Year's Eve and Christmas week.
A bar or a club Christmas week is a different place. If you're lucky it will be filled with people who just got into town to see their families and are looking to hook up with friends they haven't seen since summer. They're filled with good humor and good will. Then there are the quiet and desperate for whom the holidays only serve to remind them of lonliness and loss. Then there's the hustlers, they are always out and we all know what they're after.
In the band you have to entertain them all and you better have a couple of Christmas songs on the play list or it will become a lost gig.
You need a song that will enchance the good will of the happy, cleanse the mood of the depressed and it better have a rocking beat so the hustlers can dance with their prey.
These are three semi-klazziks.
The Trashmen have always defined teen genius to me. Teen genius is that ability to catch a mood without having a clue as to where it come from. To me its no surprise that they came up with the perfect bar Christmas tune, "Dancin' With Santa" is everything you want in a Christmas song. Its easy t imagine five guys stomping this one out on a poorly lit stage.
Three Aces and A Joker have one of the coolest names in rock and roll history. They're remembered only becasue of one song, a cover, but maybe the greatest cover ever. No one knows much about these guys. Who needs to know. Its all right there in this tough rockabilly punk number "Sleigh Bell Rock". If you don't dig this then I really feel sorry for you. You've probably joined the ranks of the walking dead. This little tune will feed your craving for brains.
Buck Owens wasn't always a bit of a fool on bad TV shows. He was the original Bakersfield Cowboy. Smashing Skating
Click images for desktop size: "Smashing Skating" by Smashing Magazine
He earned the right to wear too many rhinestones by playing clubs that really needed chicken wire strung across the stage. Where a bad set would lead to a bunch of oil workers and construction workers laying for the band in the parking lot. A Friday night is a vauable thing to a working man, to valuable for a cruddy band to mess up. I don't think anybody ever punched out Buck Owens. His Country Western Christmas tune is driving, amusing and oh so cool, from Barstow to Austin "Santa Looked A Lot Like Daddy" is the tune to lift you up and make you smile while you wrap your kids presents.
Now this Chris Bailey cover of a Buddy Holly song isn't about Christmas, its still the perfect arrangement for a Christmas gig. Its a slow dnce number so people can get close and its so touching This Island Earth and bittersweet it almost makes you want to get dumped so you have a right to feel this oh so touching pain. When Buddy Holly wrote the song it was a bouncy catchy tune. When Chris Bailey sings "It Doesn't Matter Anymore" it becomes a weapon of pain. Near perfect for the revelers to remember the past year, for the lonely to justify their grief ad for the hustlers to exploit.
And isn't that at least part of what Christmas is all about?

December 9, 2008

Most people have the will to win, few have the will to prepare to win
Bobby Knight

Stop or I'll Shoot by The Real 7
Click images for desktop size: "Stop or I'll Shoot" by The Real 7
I don't think there's ever been a great book written about football. Except for things like "Radar Blocking: Its Practice and Techniques" or "Five Hundred Drills for Specific Goals".Squirm
There's never been a book that encapsulates the sport and its players and makes clear the beauty, the drama and the tragedy of the game. No Dickens, or Thoreau or Chandler has ever been able to step forward and codify its beauty.
What we have are things like, "Semi-Tough", or "North Dallas Forty" and "Meat On the Hoof". Decent enough stories in them but they come across, to me anyway, more like expose best seller types. There's no attempt to telling the bigger more global story.
If I was forced to pick the best I'd say that "Friday Night Lights" is Soa Lee
Click images for desktop size: "Untitled" by Soa Lee
the best book about the game, good enough to survive the turgid movie and the annoying TV show. Its more a journal of a season then a story. It attempts to give insights to the players and the drama but being non-fiction it has too much detail and back story to fill in. Often the characters get lost.
And "Remember the Titans" is probably the best movie, but its more a movie about racism and coping with it, using football as a metaphor. The storybook ending may have been accurate but it never takes the time, or maybe has the time, to examine the inner turmoil about the game itself. Things get simplistic. Why would these kids put themselves in this difficult position to merely play a game? One kid because he's fat, another to get that football scholarship etc etc.
There have been plenty of those cheesy "auto-biographies" of stud athletes. They usually start with a bullet list of twenty high points in the stars career and some sports writer who the star is Christmas Sticker
Click images for desktop size: "Christmas Sticker" by Unknown
comfortable with because he sees him for a couple of hours after every game gets a 6 hour interview to fill in the details.
I sucked those books up when I was a kid. I was always looking for the key to being a better athlete. They were sometimes interesting but never illuminating. The writers lacked the skill to broaden the message and the athlete's agent was more concerned about the book then the athlete himself. Normally the athlete doesn't want to look bad or offend anybody.
After Jim Bouton came out with the baseball book, "Ball Four" it looked like things might change. "Ball Four" was funny and a shocking expose of the biggest team in sports at the time, the New York Yankees. It was fun and had dirty words in it so as a kid I loved it. It came close to explaining theStrip-Girls drive to compete, the desire to play a game.
Part of this is because most athletes aren't very articulate. The few that are described as articulate usually get the tag from adding "sir" to the end of their answers.
A lot of reasons for this. I was pretty startled to discover that I'd been trained to not voice words in my head but to see and react.
A simple example is when a teacher asks a question like, "What is two time three?" Most people would go "two times three equals six" and then actually voice the words.
When I hear the question I visualize the symbols and then blurt out the answer. There's no translation in my head. Of course I'm just as likely to blurt out five as i am six, which is part of the reason athletes get branded as dumb. Our life training forces us to analyze things in a different way.
The closest description I can give is like when you're driving home from work. You're thinking about the job, there's a favorite song on the car stereo and you suddenly discover that you're home with no clear memory of how you got there.
It happens to everyone but athletes, especially football players tend to live that way.
It starts on the field. The difference between a guy who runs a 4.4 forty and a 4.3 forty is huge in a straight line. If the guy running the 4.3 has to think about where to go next the extra speed is more than lost.
Sword and Fans
Click images for desktop size: "Sword and Fans" by Unknown
We're drilled to recognize a cover two defense with a blitzing linebacker coming off the edge. The entire team has to see the same thing, recognize it and know what to do. If you have to say to yourself, "Let's see, the SS is playing centerfield and the FS is faking a blitz without committing his front foot while the Willie back is crowding the End so the pass is off and it will be a run to the strong side at the B gap," the play is over and either busted or for a loss.
The recognition has to be spontaneous and symbolic and the execution as routine as your dive home from work.
I have a friend who was a four year starter at Penn State, a defensive end. He was a second day draft pick and decided that rabbiting the NFL training camps wasn't for him. He returned to school and got his Doctorate in Micro-Biology. When he got his degree he taught for a few months before aSweet Smell of Success Fortune 50 company offered him a position doing pure research with his own private lab.
As one of his professor's explained to him, "Too many scientists learn things by rote. They learn the answers and where to find them when they forget them they learn where to re-find the answers. The best way tolerant is to assimilate the knowledge taught and to make it a part of your life, a pure part of your logical thinking process."
The Fortune 50 passed over a lot of candidates for their position and took my friend not because he was the most brilliant but because they hoped that the dedication and tenacity he had shown in playing football at that high a level would translate to the lab and research. He's worked there for nearly 20 years.
Its this ll important facet of the make up of an athlete that all writers seem to ignore to the point of me wondering if they know it even exists.
Now no film director I know of has ever played football. I find this odd because making a movie 3D Abstract
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requires a lot of the same skill sets as playing football; especially for the director, cameraman and actors. With this rather significant similarity in thought processing I'd expect a more sympathetic approach to sports in movies.
John Hancock made a brilliant short film called "Sticky My Fingers and Fleet My Feet". Its about a middle-aged guy ho is very proud of how much he keeps in shape. Every Sunday he goes to the park and plays a flag game with his buddies. He's the star of the team. Then one Sunday one of the guys brings along his 14 year old nephew. The nephew has to cover our "hero". He smokes him completely. Our hero has his worst game of the season.
After the game he accuses the nephew of being a ringer, a high school stud they bought in to The Boy Who Cried Werewolf humiliate him. The kid never even tried out for his school team. He knew he wasn't good enough.
It was stunningly good entertainment. Hancock got offered a lot of movies, all of them sports related. Problem was that what came across as a paean to dreams was actually, in Hancock's mind a derisive comment on athletes and wannabe athletes. He had a strong antipathy for anything athletic.
This worked to his advantage in the lethargic and macabre "Bang the Drum Slowly", the Robert DiNero, Michael Moriarity film about a major league catcher dying of Hodgkins Disease and his friendship with the teams star pitcher.
But it was the next film that highlighted the attitude of Hancock in particular and movies in general towards sport.
Hancock's next film was the surfer flic "California Dreaming". It starred Dennis Christopher, hot off the surprise hit movie about bike racing, "Breaking Away" and stalwart Seymour Cassell.
The film was a dismal failure. Hancock hated surfing and surfers. A few guys who extra-ed and did surf stunt work on the movie were appalled at the contempt in which Hancock held them. The film failed on every level because the contempt shown through. It was impossible to care for any of the characters. They all came across as arrogant and dislikable. It was a sad movie that undercut its strong script with bad choices.
In fact it started to typify the "sports" movie in that the only way to succeed in one was to ignore the sports and the athletes and focus on the story away from the field. Sports became only a catalyst or as a source of conflict.
Santa Claus
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Its given us horror films like Oliver Stone's "Any Given Sunday" and tons of teen romance flics. All varying in ambition and all missing the point of playing the game, of understanding the character's motivations and drives.
Its said that a masterpiece is identifiable because it finds its perfect form. Since books and films escape football perhaps it is the game itself that is the ultimate form for the game.
there is more drama in even a bad football game then most movies could encompass. A cast of fifty each one who is pivotal in the final outcome and resolution. Fifty stories focused on concentration that shuts out everything but the task at hand. Fifty stories about what breaks that concentration and leads to disarray. Unfortunately TV sportscasters seldom get involved in anything that deep. They bring up the easy stories like Brett Favre playing the game of his life on the evening The Boss of his father's death. But they provide no empathetic set-up, no basis to understand and to make Favre's plight and tragedy and triumph a tangible thing. Its left to the players on the field to convey those vivid emotions while enacting a play they've been practicing for years. Convey it with ballet like grace and the steady tempo of a driving rock tune.
There's more to think about here, at least for me. I'm just struggling too much to make it clearer.

Its been six months since my little blind dog passed away. Eighteen years since my wife and son were in their accident. Ten years since my best friend Tom died. I miss them and so many others every day.
I keep meeting new people. I'm lucky enough to have loved so many people and so many dogs. I'm lucky that somehow I have the capacity to love my friend and my three dogs as much as I've ever Yakuza Girl by Evgeny
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loved anyone. All the people, past and present are a part of me. A part I never want to see go.
Looking back through this journal I'm irked that there are a lot of things I've omitted about my daily life. I follow George Orwell's journal. Some guys are presenting it as a blog. Interesting stuff. I like that Orwell was obsessed with his chickens. He records their egg output every day. Some entries only read, "Two eggs."
I need to to something like that. When I look back I can feel what I was feeling then but not always the why for the feelings. I get more of that from the pictures then from the words. Like I say the words are just here to make pretty frames for the pictures.
Tomorrow begins Christmas Music season. I'm going through and picking them out now.

December 7, 2008

USC 28 UCLA 7

Royal Dream
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It snowed all day yesterday. Nearly four inches of soft powder.
Not soft enough. It covered up the slabs of ice very nicely so that when crazy dogs tried to get me to play with them they succeeded in knocking me down. I wasn't hurt bad but I'd figure 4 inches ofNight and the City snow should be softer than that.
USC won another Pac 10 Championship. Somehow it feels hollow. One bad quarter and USC is out of the National Title game. I can stand that except I can't quite cope with the over hyped Big 12 and SEC getting the shot over more deserving teams.
Penn State will be a good game and a worthy opponent. I saw Joe Paterno at his first visit to the Coliseum. I sat behind his bench. It was great. I got to see USC win against a legend and I got to see and hear the legend. Very classy guy he was too. The mental image is of him wearing his Penn State blue tie, a gray business suit and clunky white sneakers, standing next to a giant O-Line man who missed a block. Paterno explained to him with grave patience the Grunge Christmas
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right way to try and handle Tim Ryan on obvious passing downs. It was memorable and educational.
Still, I wish Oregon State had won out and that USC was playing Texas . . .
The USC season seems to be embodied in Mark Sanchez. I adore the kid and think he's a stellar QB. But no one gives him any respect and there are a lot of calls to bench him. The kid threw 30 TD passes. Only Matt Leinhart and Carson Palmer have ever thrown for more. The odd thing is that Mark throws some beautiful balls and then manages to throw some of the dumbest passes imaginable, like there another QB inside him that doesn't want to be great.
He'll be back next year. I think he'll become a killer. I hope so. His support for and in the Hispanic community is endearing. His support of a kid who died of cancer was heartening. He comes across like a young man you would like to have a a son. Someone to be Spiderman
Click images for desktop size: "Spiderman" by Marvel Comics
proud of.

Years ago we were sitting in a Thai restaurant we frequented. We were seated next to a table with two guys and a girl. I recognized one of the guys as Andy Robinson. Robinson gave one of the greatest performances in movie history when he got to play Scorpio, the evil villain in Don Seigal's "Ditty Harry". Robinson was so effective in the role that he found it close to impossible to get work. Casting agents and producers assumed that that type of deep malicious madness couldn't be acted. It had to be real.
Robinson's classic performance was too good, especially in a debut role. Seigal tried to help him out by giving him a different sort of part in the excellent "Charlie Varrick" but Robinson was too subdued to make any real impact. I'd guess he was afraid to unleash the monster within ever again.The Molesters
During a lull in the conversation at our table I suddenly heard Robinson say, "I'm an actor. I did one of those Clint Eastwood movies. You probably never saw it. It was . . . well, just a movie."
Before I knew what I'd done I heard myself saying something like, "You don't need to apologize. That's a classic movie and you were fantastic in it. You were inspirational. If they don't know who you are they don't deserve to be sitting with you."
I got a look from him that I'm sure is the same kind of look that scared the bejeebers out of casting agents. But he said, "Thank you. Its easy to forget that people watch those things. Thanks."
We ended up talking and he gave us tickets to a show he was doing at the Amudsen Theater. I don't like theater but I liked him. I liked how Robinson looked bone chilling and deranged even when he Fashion Sex Politics and Music by S4W
Click image: "Fashion Sex Politics and Music" by S4W
was just talking trash.
That came to mind last night when I watched the semi-remarkable "JVCD". My friend didn't want to watch it because its a Jean Claude Van Damme flic.
I like Van Damme movies. He tries. He insists on directors and brings in talent like John Woo and Ringo Lamm to work with. He tries to be more than just a stony hero.
In "JCVD" Van Damme plays himself. The movie is almost painfully autobiographical. Van Damme produced the movie.
The movie opens with a single take six minute action sequence. Pretty tour de force stuff as Van Damme goes through about 60 guys, fighting and shooting through a clearly stage bound war set. Its impressive stuff and frightening to think of the logistics to get all those stunts in one continuous fluid take with only one camera. Lots of fights, bullet hits and explosions. Very cool.Paleface
When the take ends Van Damme talks to the director, a Chinese kid who is throwing darts at a photo of the Hollywood sign and not watching the take. Van Damme claims he is too old to keep doing these long single takes. The Chinese director thinks Van Damme is a worthless hunk of meat.
JCVD is also involved in a bitter divorce and a custody battle for his daughter. He is forced to sit in a classroom and hear his daughter say she doesn't want to live with him because every time her father is on TV the other kids all make fun of her.
Van Damme wants to make decent movies but his image and his agent won't let him. HE decided to return home to Belgium to try and escape from his pain from the divorce and from losing his child. While there he goes to bank to get some cash. The bank is being robbed and the cops decide that its Van Damme doing the robbery!
There's so many great and telling bits here about celebrity and illusion, myth and reality. But what holds the core is the remarkable self deprecating performance by Van Damme.
Cagily, we keep waiting for Van Damme to explode and take out the robbers and exonerate himself. What actually happens is that JCVD gives a monologue. If it were anyone else but Van Damme it would be considered an Oscar clincher.
Its one of those speeches you hear from a stranger in trouble. Van Damme explains his entire life in one long static take. The revelations are so jumbled and personal you know you're eavesdropping on Studies by Benvenuto Cellini
Click images for desktop size: "Studies" by Benvenuto Cellini
someone's thoughts. When its a stranger you can occasionally look away. And what moves you the most is that the stranger has trusted you enough to share with you the fact that he's another human being.
Charlize Therzon got an Oscar for "monster" a horribly hackneyed film and an atrocious performance that impressed people because Therzon didn't wear make up and had her hair done badly. People love beautiful women making themselves look ugly. I'm not sure why.
Van Damme doesn't use any device that cheap. He strips away the celebrity and exposes his humanity and the hopes and dreams and thrills of being human. Its a magnificent moment.
This is a film to see. Its entertaining and after "The Man Who Was Superman" the best film I've seen Please Don't Eat My Mother in 2008. Oh, its in French mostly which surprised me.
Week fourteen of the NFL. The week where the rookies hit a wall. The space like the 13th round in the old World Championship boxing matches. Its a place they've never been before and its impossible to know how they'll react.
Last week I was a dismal 7-9 . . . it shows the predicament of trying to gauge injuries and the traumas of the long season. My friend was 7-9 as well because she clearly does not understand the sport!
My picks are in bold.   
Oakland at San Diego - It was nice of the NFL to keep the cruddy game of the week on the NFL Network, thus sparing most of us. I watched about 5 minutes before I became bored.

Minnesota at Detroit - Another cruddy game. The only interest is in seeing if Adrien Petersen can break 300 yards. If he doesn't it will be an off game for him. Can anyone believe that the Vikings are going to win the division? Its easier to figure the Lions will go 0-16.

Houston at Green Bay - The cruddiness continues. The Texans are proving to merely stink and not be the total disaster that I imagined. The Packers are a train wreck with hopes. There are some decent games this week.

Jacksonville at Chicago - And this isn't one of them. The Jaguars are just bad this year. The Bears are my pick for most inconsistent team of the year. I can't think of any reason to care about any of the above games. I hope they're not on TV here.

Thirty Feet Tall by persona
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Cincinnati at Indianapolis - Some place in this country they're playing a game someone cares about . . .

Philadelphia at New York Giants - This is a little better, but not much. McNabb kept the Eagles from embarrassing themselves last week. It doesn't figure he'll do the same this week, even with a healthy Brian Westbrook. The Giants have already survived the Plaxico Buress debacle and should proceed to win a a nice hum drum fashion.

Atlanta at New Orleans - The Falcons are hot. They look real and they look very good. The Saints are the beneficiaries of justice and get back 3 valuable players that the NFL tried to unfairly ban. Return of the Fly Reggie Bush should be in for some play and Dru Brees is still looking like the QB of the year, even more so than Kurt Warner. I'm going with my hearts for the Saints to over step themselves at home.

Miami at Buffalo - The Bills have battled their way back to .500 but they haven't beaten anyone who mattered to do so. The Dolphins are not over achieving and struggled pathetically last week. In the bad weather I think Pennington will look good but the defense will have some issues. Marshawn Lynch is the heart of the Bills team and he should carry them past the superior Dolphins. I changed this pick at the last minute. I didn't realize that this game was to be played at a neutral field in Canada, more to the point that it would be an indoor game! The Bills have given up a win for a few bucks.
Scarlet Cascade by Frank Frazetta
Click image: "Scarlet Cascade" by Frank Frazetta

Kansas City at Denver - This is my insane pick of the week. But it makes sense to me. Larry Johnson is back in shape. He should slash the Bronco's D for about 150 yards. Thigpen is looking better. The Broncos have Jay Cutler who is looking awfully impressive. This should be a cruddy game that gets pretty competitive in a crazy shootout way.

New York Jets at San Francisco - And you thought picking the Chiefs was crazy . . . The Jets have looked good and then they've looked execrable. Singletary has got far less talent on the 49er's, but they keep improving each week. They are playing like a team while the Jets are playing like talented units who sometimes play together but often don't. The Jets should win this one but Singletary's under talented bunch keep comingReturn of the Vampire together. This could be the upset of the week.

New England at Seattle - The Seahawks still look dreadful to me, even at home and even with Hassleback returned and in shape. The Patriots are pulling together but a 39 year old our for a year Junior Seau makes them pretty vulnerable to the run and the short passing game. I'd still don't see the Seahawks being able to win.

St Louis at Arizona - The only thing to see here is whether Kurt Warner can get close to 500 yards against the bumbling Rams.

Dallas at Pittsburgh - Game of the week. I've gone back and forth on this one. Its fun to think about. The Steelers have that D. The Cowboys D is pretty good too. Both teams need the win to stay in the play off chase, the Cowboys need it more. Troy Polamonu should light up Terrell Owens. The final comes down to the Steelers have no Running game at all. Willie Parker is running scared and without abandon. The Cowboys running games is hampered but in better shape. This is going to be good.

Cleveland at Tennessee - Back to the crud. 11-1 Titans against the Browns 3rd string QB. This will be ugly.

Tampa Bay at Carolina - I don't believe in the Panthers even at home. The Buccaneers are playing for it all and look better poised to do it. Jeff Garcia loves Monday night games.

Washington at Baltimore - Runner up game of the week and its the Sunday night game so I'll for sure get to see this one. The Ravens are believing in themselves while the Redskins confidence is cracking. Every match up favors the Ravens.

So 4 decent games out of 16 . . . Doesn't speak well for the NFL. A judge has stopped them from unfairly suspending 5 players. The NFL's repsonse is ugly. They are falling back on an interpretation of the collective bargaining agreement and claiming that thier anti-trust exemption places them above the law.
Much the ame way my picks place me outside the realm of football knowledge . . .

December 2, 2008

Most of the things worth doing in the world had been declared impossible before they were done
Louis Brandis

Untitled
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I think I over did things yesterday.
Happens. Felt good, felt better getting a lot of things done. Nice not to be cowering under a blanket and hurting.
The Day The Earth Stood Still I did laundry and discovered that the cat (the one who decided to use her teeth like a stapler and my arm as a ream of newsletters) had used three corners of the basement as a washroom. The smell was repugnant.
I cleaned that up. When I went down to put clothes in the dryer the smell had abated so I'm hopeful I got it all cleaned up.
I roombaed a few rooms (love the roomba!) and mopped. While the roomba did its thing I took the dogs for a walk. I managed to stay upright the entire time, much to their evil chagrin. I've discovered another quality of snow on our walk.
I'd always assumed that slush was something made by cars running over the pretty slow transforming it into that half frozen gunk. I was Christmas at Night
Click image: "Christmas At Night" by Unknown
surprised to discover that slush could fall from the sky. It came down as stinging snow with a few big flakes thrown in there and ended up on the ground in growing puddles of gray melange.
Still we got to inspect the neighbors already installed Christmas lights. Kind of dull to look at Christmas lights during the day but we enjoyed it. We have some lights here. I'm inspired to string some of them outside. The house isn't in a place where anyone could see them except us. I don't mind that much.
After mopping the floors I shoveled snow. I don't think my technique has improved much from last year. This slushy stuff was heavy, still slick but had the added bonus of being wet enough to sneak inside my shoe. I got the walks and car home shoveled, cleared the drive way in a sloppy way and kept the gates cleared.
Snow: My Friend, My Enemy.
Marylin Monroe
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I got some interesting emails yesterday.
The first was from the animal rescue service I used to foster puppies for. I still feel grateful to them for trusting all those great dogs to me. That I got to meet a couple of great people who adopted my dogs was a sweet fringe benefit (one of them, a couple I'm fond of, is having a baby any day now!!).
Early in November they had to send out a message. They were flat broke. They couldn't rescue any more dogs. I find it odd that the city and county still charges a rescue group money for dogs that the government is planning to cruelly murder.
This was distressing. They're in the midst of doing all those crazy desperate fundraising things, selling coupon books and junk like that.Cinderella
Yesterday I got another email from them. The group won a contest to become "America's Best Animal Shelter". Which is sweet in and of itself. I like a few people in the group quite a lot and was pleased for them. The best part was that the title comes with a $10,000 prize! This pleases me most. My best friend in the group already emailed me that this meant at least 1,200 dogs would be rescued! And she already had 20 picked out.
Seems semi-miraculous. I'm counting it a one of my Christmas presents. Over a thousand dogs I no longer have to worry about!
I heard from one of my kids. He asked me "if I minded all the pain".
If you don't know the kid or understand a coach's relationship to his athletes that might seem like an obtuse and even weird question.
This kid, he's a man now but my issue is that I almost always think of them first as kids, had a Tall Building
Click images for desktop size: "Tall Building" by Unknown
rougher time of it then most. He played right tackle for me. He was excellent. Part of our first National Championship team and was an important part of that team.
He was going to get thrown out of school. Not for conduct but because they'd decided this big kid was mentally retarded. This surprised me quite a bit. I didn't think a mentally retarded kid could learn his assignments for me quite so well.
Fortunately for him one of my coaches was dyslexic. He recognized the symptoms and had a similar experience when he was in school.
With the assistance of my friend we were able to get him tested. The kid was dyslexic. We managed to keep him in school. He did so well he got accepted into a pretty prestigious University. He did pretty well there too. Then he was diagnosed with Crohns Disease.
Being the sort of dummy I am I'd never heard of it. I figured something I'd never heard of couldn'tCornered be that bad. (Sometimes I am such an American.)
When I next saw him I was surprised. He'd lost at least 50 pounds of muscle mass. He looked sickly. He was in and out of hospital but he was still managing to keep on top of his studies and with the bare minimum of concessions from his prof's he was not falling behind his class.
He was stoked because Anastasia, the blues pop star, also has Crohns disease. To her credit while she was on tour she visited kids in the hospital with the same disease.
It finally came that the kid was going to graduate university. I was as proud of him as I'd ever been of any kid. All that was left were his finals and he was pure confidence about them.
Then I got the call that he was in hospital. His bowel had ruptured and he had certainly developed peritonitis.
I visited him in hospital while he was having surgery. Most of his old teammates were there. Some of them had taken it on themselves to contact his school and set it up for him to take his two remaining finals after he got out of hospital.
Another kid had driven the kid's mother to the hospital so she wouldn't have to take the tube. All of them were very solicitous of her.
I was proud of them all, proud of the kids who had grown into good young men. A bit dismayed that I'd never noticed it before. I put it off to the beauty and integrity of the game I loved that they had all played to the best of their abilities.
My kid survived the operation. He survived the entire ordeal. He graduated with a BS degree and Mandan
Click images for desktop size: "Untitled" by Mandan
started to work. He's living the life he's dreamed of.
I remember him giving me a lift once from the leukemia hospice, shortly after his operation. We shared hospital stories and he showed me his colostomy bag . . .
When he wants to know "if I mind the pain" I know what he's asking and why. I only want him to be alright.
There's plenty of times you have to be tough in this life. I hope its not too often and not ever now for him.

After reading yet another email about how I could love animals and not be a vegetarian . . . my friend got home from the first day back at work. She was sleepy. She still spent nearly 4 hours making vegetarian shis ka bab. Desperate Hours
I tired to start a fire in the fireplace. It didn't go well. I burned up most of the paper designated for recycling and a couple of those camphor smelling "fire starter" blocks and nada. I managed to burn all of the wood up but never got it to burst into pretty warm flames.
If I were a cave man we'd all be eating cow sushi and grinding beans between our teeth.
I did get a good high quality smolder going on. Lots of good smoke and little heat . . .
To celebrate I had to go out and continue shoveling newly fallen slush.
I think I was a California kid for a reason . . .
The dogs enjoyed the shoveling although they were, as usual, disappointed I didn't slip and fall down.
I didn't watch the cruddy football game. I watched a South American movie called Tres Dias. An odd Sci-Fi thing. A meteor is going to strike the planet earth and its a dead lock that no one will survive.
Rockin' Cadillac
Click images for desktop size: "Rockin' Cadillac" by Unknown
At first it was pretty interesting as it told the apocalypse completely through the eyes of a small Chilean village, with fuzzy TV pictures and suicides. (All the communication satellites are not out, planes are crashing as the earth magnetic poles getting skewed.) It was interesting but then it got silly.
The prison guards abandon their posts and all the prisoners escape. One brutal convict decides that the last 3 days of his life should be used to get revenge against this guy and his mother in this little village. Its sort of dull as a thriller. Especially after it was being so elegant in its depiction of the small and bewildered people trying to grasp the enormity of their mortality.
I went to bed relatively early. Good thing. I was up at 5. The gentle dog was barking at something outside. Turns out it was the cat . . .

November 27, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving

Glass Flowers
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Its a good day for a Thanksgiving Day.
Plenty of football, plenty of food and I'm with the people and dogs I want to be with.
Trivial Matters PLUS I checked and the Chinese buffet has bacon! Happy happy pups.
I watched an odd but oddly engrossing movie last night. A Hong Kong baseball movie called "City Without Baseball." What made it stand out is that only a very few actors were used. Most of the characters were playing themselves. And the script was written out of stories that the players told on themselves.
All of the music was either performed or written by people who had died recently (there were little title cards saying who they were and the extent of their lives) or was written by the bisexual pitcher on the team.
Fashion, Sex, Politics and Music
Click image: "Sex, Politics & Music" by SW4
The acting was fine. Never false or misleading. I got confused between some of the characters. They're were a lot of brothers and three of the girls had the same hairstyle! But the story managed to roll along just fine.
There were several very good quotes in the movie, like Confucius and "We do not even understand life, how can we understand death." and cool stuff from a half dozen other Chinese philosophers.
Wizard Of Oz But the best quote in the movie came from a character, the baseball teams manager. He was a soft little guy and he was talking to the bisexual pitcher. The pitcher was concerned because no one on the team liked him. This scene made me wonder how much were the people's words and how much the writers had taken their words and honed them into film dialogue. The manager said them so matter of factly and with an official type of glibness that I think the words were his own: "I've been at this so long that there's no problems I haven't seen and that I don't know how to solve. If its something new then it hasn't been classified as a problem yet, so that no matter what happens it is always no problem at all."
Yellow Submarine We ended by watching an old Doris Day flic.
It was pretty funny and horrifying in its overt sexism. Day is a housewife and gets a shot at being a TV commercial star. The comedy is in her trying to balance a career and still not to forgo any of her vital "wifely duties!"
Its pretty offensive and mild.
So I'm off to start to enjoy the four day weekend. No big shopping plans for Black Friday but I'll still be enjoying myself.
I hope you do too.
I hope you get to enjoy some of the monstrous amount of football lined up for the weekend!
Especially Notre Dame at USC!

November 14, 2008

You got to get down and kneel like you want to pray
Carter-Lewis

Sakura by Digital Blasphemy
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This has become a house of illness!
My friend was home yesterday. Home sick. She puts it off to gluten poisoning! I'm not so sure, but what do I know.Blood On The Moon
The giant dog was ill Wednesday night. Then my puppy was ill last night. So ill she didn't even come and start bugging me for dinner!
My puppy being ill is always a source of worry.
The worst part is that I'm still sick but I'm used to it so I got to be nursemaid . . . I'm not that good at that.
Still got some of the things done. Changed and washed the sheets and the vomited on things, so that my friend would at least have a cool clean bed to suffer in.
I got some bare maintenance house cleaning done. It was raining so I couldn't do any yard work. Which bugged me. The worse I feel the more I like to be doing something.Tom Ewell And Marilyn Monroe
Click image: "Tom Ewell & Marilyn Monroe"
Mot heroic something but when I'm moving around I don't have time focusing on my pain. Nursemaiding doesn't change my focus enough to do the same thing.
When the rain broke I took the gentle dog and my puppy for a walk to get a loaf of bread for me (I still like to eat "raw" bread when I'm sick) and some Jalapeno Halvarti cheese for my friend . . . I'm not sure if cheese is the best thing for someone who's sick. I didn't think of that then. I only thought of that now.
After that I put on "Air Bud: Spikes Back". The Air Bud movies are these harmless pretty bad flics about a sports playing golden retriever.
Yeah. I liked it plenty. But I'm the sort who enjoys seeing how nicely a dog walks down stairs. My friend does too so it was a good movie for lounging about and feeling terrible to.
In this one Bud plays volleyball. Bud plays the center or the setter on the team. This lets us have a couple jokes about too bad he's not an irish setter, which tells you the quality of these films.
I really liked the Air Bud movie where he played football. I laughed a lot just seeing a dog wearing a THor-Blood Oath
Click images for desktop size: "Thor & Hercules" by Marvel Comics
silly football helmet . . . This one was okay by those standards but "Spikes Back" is the least of these movies.
When you see the Japanese dog films and compare it to the American output its pretty depressing.
It makes me worry a lot about Richard Gere making a movie about Hachiko. Hachiko is still one of the most thrilling and moving true dog stories ever.
I worry about how they'll miss the simple beauty of Hachiko's story and turn it into something that's not about a dog's love and loyalty and will instead make a movie about people. There are plenty of movies about people. I think that this one could afford to be about the dog. He's the quiet heart broken hero, not the reporter or the emperor.Caltiki The Immortal Monster
After that my friend went for a proper lie down and I put on "The Face of Another". Its one of those Japanese art films from the sixties. Pretentious and all that. This is from the guy who made "Woman In The Dunes" which was pretty pretentious but kind of fun.
This one was a black and white semi science fiction thing. A tech salary man gets his face blown off by using a tank of liquid oxygen instead of a tank of liquid air . . . I have no real idea what the difference is.
The salary man goes crazier and crazier but in one of those wordy ways, not slicing and dicing people but just talking too much.
The salary man goes to a shrink who specializes in building the self esteem of people who've been disfigured in accidents. He makes plastic body parts to stop people from obsessing about their differences.
For the salary man he decides to do something incredibly unethical and make him a mask! I have no idea why making a mask is unethical.
The shrink makes him a mask that is super real. No one would ever think it was a mask. The salary man develops another personality to go along with his new face. And that's about it.
There's all sorts of babble about how society perceives faces and that's about it . . .
I fell asleep during it. Slept so hard that I couldn't be awakened. Which is strange for me. Stranger that my puppy didn't try and wake me at dinner time!
At least all the dogs ate their usual breakfasts. I made them blander than usual. What could be Conceptions by Luis Royo
Click images for desktop size: "Conceptions" by Luis Royo
blander than dog food anyway. They all ate it up and are all in their usual sleeping positions.
The gentle dog is wrapped around my feet. The giant dog is on the love seat hoping that someone will try and steal his precious rawhide. And my puppy is sprawled on the bed.
My friend is at work and I have that nasty totally hollow feeling in my body.
So all is normal.
Today's plan: To unclog the drains around the house, preventative somewhat. To take all the dogs for a good long walk. And to not succumb to falling asleep in the middle of the day.
After a bright sunny morning the clouds are gathering again. I don't want ti to rain. They say it will snow this weekend.
I don't mind the snow. Somethings about it I like a lot. I've just got all these leaves that have to be removed and right now they are too wet and yukky to deal with. At least to wet and yukky for me.
I feel terrible. For some reason I still think I'm going to win . . .

November 12, 2008

The shaving razor's cold and it stings
Boyce & Hart

Sorry Wrong Number
Click images for desktop size: "Sorry, Wrong Number" by Unknown
One day during our chemo-therapy "support group" sessions the two people in charge of it were running late.
There were two of them: A pretty young woman with a severe disability that forced her to walk withBlack Gold a peculiar rolling gait; a bearded psychologist who liked to stroke his beard and make profound announcements. At least he thought they were profound. The members in my group never discussed these laborious sessions so I can't say that they found his statements as torturous as I did.
He was a Notre Dame fan, even though he didn't go to Notre Dame and for some reason he thought it would endear himself to me by proclaiming this over and over to me. Probably clouds my memory of him now as well as my opinion of him then.
The woman was a social worker. We would have felt better about her except she kept trying to be empathetic and that just made us pity her all the more.
So there are the nine of us sitting in our circle in our uncomfortable institution type chairs when this oil company exec pulls out one of those hospital oxygen masks. He's got a long chunks of surgical tubing hot glued to the intake and exhaust ports.
He explained in great detail that he was going to attach this to a tank of helium. I got quickly Pet Lover
Click images for desktop size: "Puppies" by Unknown
interested. Once Tom and I got a tank of helium and spent a good week walking around talking like munchkins to everybody at any inappropriate opportunity. It was fun and cool. We even worked out a rapid version of "We Represent The Lollipop Guild" that started out in cool high trembly harmony and, as the helium wore out, descended into a crazed sounding baritones.
This exec wasn't looking to sound crazy cool. He explained that if the chemo didn't put him into remission he was going to hook his mask to a tank of helium. Hook it all up to himself, turn on the gas and drift off to the endless sleep.
He explained that he'd talk to some of his doctor friends and they all assured him this was the easiest non-painful ways to commit suicide.
Anyone who's ever been puking up clear bile for a few hours while watching clumps of their hair fallAttack of the Crab Monsters out into the toilet while their veins and lymph nodes burned in unholy white fire from chemo would have no problem understanding his macabre plan.
No one wants to die of cancer or leukemia. Its a terrifying kind of death. But no one wants to ever go through chemo ever again. Its too vivid a pain that doesn't dull in memory.
So we all understood. It started the most animated conversation I'd ever seen in the support group.anime _18.jpg
Click images for desktop size: "Hanabi" by Unknown
For the next twenty minutes everyone laid out their suicide plan. Only one woman said that it was foolish to consider suicide after all we'd each been through but then she added that she had no intention of dying from cancer and if it came to that she'd put her husband's 9 mm in her mouth an pull the trigger, sparing her family the grief of watching her decay until she passed away.
Listening to everyone's preferable mode of death was pretty interesting. Being human and American it soon became competitive with details and flourishes. One woman wanting to emulate Jayne Mansfield and Claudia Jennings by speeding along the FDR Expressway and ramming into a giant buttress that hung over the road just a couple miles past some exit or other.
Being what I am I was fixated on the idea of a tank of helium and how much fun it would be to have some now. So that the next time the psychologist asked me how I was feeling and when I grunted out my usual, "Fine" and he dismissed me with his usual, "Fine is not a feeling, tell us how you're feeling" I could answer him in great detail huffing on a balloon of helium and doing that great munchkin voice, ending the performance with a solo rendition of "We Represent The Lollipop Guild".
Somewhere in there the social worker and the psychologist must have entered the room.
Holeproof Hosiery by Phillip Coles
Click images for desktop size: "Holeproof Hosiery" by Philip Coles
They were pretty shocked at what they were hearing. I imagine at first they were pleased to hear us inter-reacting and being semi-raucous. They probably smiled smugly to themselves, thinking all their hard work was finally paying off. Then when they heard what we were talking about I suspect they kind of freaked. Maybe they took it personally. Like some personal failure they couldn't convince a mess of adults to be joyous in their suffering.
The psychologist lectured us for about 20 minutes about how stupid we were and the social worker went on about how she could understand how we felt but that yadda yadda yadda blah blah blah.Attack Of The 50 Foot Woman
Attack Of The 60 Foot Centerfold
And we went from being enthused story tellers and fantasizers to being another room of suffers who resented the world for not suffering like we suffered. Some grew surly, as usual, because the gods did not elevate us to sainthood for enduring the suffering and the temptations we endured.
Most grew depressed again, counting the days, minutes and seconds in their chemo trials, afraid to pray for release because it might seem selfish while one or two's thoughts drifted to their families and worried how they'd feel about their love ones being bald and emaciated, sick and sad and lonely in their private hell, a hell they'd never imagine sharing with their kids or their spouses because some hells are too intense and too real and seem to ridiculous to want to inflict on anyone you care about. Most of the time you want to spare people you care about, spare them even a glimpse of that glowing smoldering revulsive grief and pain.
And that's what they social worker and the psychologist didn't understand, what they couldn't grasp.
You can't get encouragement to survive in hell. You survive because you have no other choice but to go on to the next second of the next day. You don't expect rebate. You don't expect cessation. You only want to get through the time you have to get through.
I had a dog who had to have chemo and have a leg amputated because of cancer. I spent a lot of time with him during his chemo. He was suffering and had no idea of why or how. He only knew he trusted me and he would lie there with his head in my lap while I squatted in his kennel. Once in a great while he would slowly and with great effort thump his tail to let me know he appreciated me being there. The fact that he could lie there in his misery and still think it important enough to let me know that it was important to him that I was there is just one small piece of proof in my mind that dogs are, in some ways, better than people.
He lived for 3 years after all that and he was as happy as he'd ever been. Not once did he blame me for forcing him to live which was, after all pretty selfish of me; forcing him to live so I could enjoy seeing him laugh and play.
That's what I was thinking about when the psychologist finally finished up and suddenly asked me, "How are you feeling today?"
I said, "Fine," and he went into his usual spiel. I wished i had a tank of helium.

I'm not feeling better. I guess I just adapt well to being ill.
On Monday I was upset. I tried to do some yard work. DIdn't get too far. Sat on the sofa and put a movie on TV. Slept right through the whole thing. Put on another movie. (Couldn't re-watch the one I'd slept through. If it was any good I wouldn't have fallen asleep. Right?)
Zuma Beach by n0rcalguy
Click images for desktop size: "Zuma Beach" by n0rcalguy
I slept right through that one too. I seemed to be picking out boring movies.
I don't like sleeping, especially during the day. It bothers me for all the standard reasons.
I felt pretty wretched. Even though the sleep probably helped me heal and kept me from feeling worse it agitated me to waste so much time. I tried to console myself by thinking that I'd slept more this day than I had in any night in the last week.
I tried to get somethings done. I felt to thick skulled to remember exactly what that was, but I remember trying.
On Tuesday I woke up feeling about 40% better. After an hour I felt about 20% better and it held that way all the day.
I stayed awake the whole day. Watched 3 movies. They were all pretty dull. I mean the best of Bela Lugosi Meets A Brooklyn Gorilla them was "Doom", that old The Rock movie based on a video game . . .
I also watched "Irma Vep" a pretty pretentious French flic that starred Jean Pierre Leaud, he the star of "The Four Hundred Blows" and all the way to "Last Tango In Paris". Now he's about 65 and looks it. He is still remarkable talented. The real revelation was Maggie Cheung. She was incredible playing . . . MAGGIE CHEUNG! Cheung is the female in a lot of Jackie Chan Movies and the good "bad girl" in the Heroic Trio movies. Her she was acting as herself as a Hong Kong actress hired to go to Paris and star as Irma Vep in Leaud's remake of Felliuade's "Les Vampyres". Leaud has a nervous breakdown who is replaced by another intellectual filmmaker who fires Cheung for purely racist reasons. It was pretty boring except for the two leads.
And I finished by watching "In Bruges" which is this Brit flic that's not as clever or telling as it seems to think it is. It was pretty boring but I did manage to stay awake.
I'm worried that my illness is worrying and depressing people.
It shouldn't.
I woke up feeling about the same way as I felt going to bed. I can cope with that without much thought or effort.

November 7, 2008

You know more than you think you do
Dr Spock

Lilac Swamp
Click images for desktop size: "Lilac Swamp" by Unknown
A full week of bad pain.
The Tylenol and 800 mg of ibuprofen seem to bring it into manageable lengths. I'm still keeping my Woman's Prison good humour. Still laughing at the antics of my crazy dogs.
Forced myself to stay in bed until 6:30. Got up several times during the night. Only once did I meditate about taking some of the neuropathic pain killers.
No denying the things work but they disconnect me so far from life that the pain relief is scarcely worth it. Its a relief though to know that the scary pills exist. If it gets to the point of being unendurable its a viable method of last resort. I notice that the Babes by BJ
Click images for desktop size: "Babe" by BJ
pain pills contain a mood elevator. I don't know if that's smart or drug company arrogant.
The last resort being when I think that the pain is going to make me mad, when it becomes a force so great that it threatens to overwhelm, when all life becomes just a gray wall of deadening pain. Or when I find I can't laugh at the antics of the dogs.
When I had back surgery they gave me a morphine pump for when the pain got to bad. I'm still scared of addictive drugs, scared a lot. It was nice holding the little plunger button in my hand. It felt like I had a way out. When the pain would stab me I'd clench it tight, but I never used it. I figure it did its job well. I'd do well with placebos.
The dogs have been hysterical as of late. Especially the giant dog.
This morning there were two cats under the deck. One is a cat who lives here but the other was a huge gray and white big headed cat. I think I'd seen it skulking around in that cat fashion but I don't notice cats enough to say for sure. I only recognize our cat because it wears a bell.
Nebula X4 by Hunzonian
Click images for desktop size: "Nebula X4" by Hunzonian
This big headed cat was driving all three guys crazy! My puppy crawled under the deck so she could growl at it and at least remove some of its cat smugness.
The space under the deck is about 24 inches not counting the support beams. My puppy can crawl under it on her belly.
The giant dog thought she was getting more than her fair share of barking in so he crawled under the deck too . . . in about two minutes he was whining so I had to crawl under the deck to help pull him out.
My puppy resented me entering her "private" club house and looked me in the eye while she crawled out. The giant dog kept licking me gratefully while I tugged him around. (I still dThe Time Machineon't like dogs licking me.)
Finally got him pulled free, so of course since it was safe he went right back under. Got stuck again . . . I pulled him out again.
He thought this was a good game and plunged right back in.
I was aggravated, crawling around in damp dirt isn't much fun. Really, its not, for me anyway.
When he started to whimper this time I decided to ignore him. Of course the other two dogs where running back and forth the outside of the deck trying to find a gap big enough to stick their noses into and worry the smug big headed cat. They were amusing too and didn't require me brushing cobwebs out of my hair.
Suddenly the giant dong slunk out from under the deck. It looked like the thousand clown coming out of that little car.
The giant dog was angry and angry with me. I didn't understand the game very well, not well Warlords Of Atlantis enough to suit him.
He ignored the other two running back and forth and came over and stared at me. His tail was not wagging. He then turned around and went back under the deck. After a minute you could hear him happily barking at the big headed cat then he emitted a long anguished howl and then a sharp staccato series of whines and yips.
I'm not that hard hearted yet so I had to crawl back under the deck. Once again the giant dog was ecstatically pleased to be rescued. His whole body was trembling with pleasure.
I'd finished my morning routine outside and was heading inside. The other two eagerly followed. The final part of the morning routine is breakfast treats. The giant dog watched us head in quietly and then turned around and went back under the deck!
I called him. He ignored me. Being a mature human I decided to ignore him in return.
We went inside. I decided to not give the two other dogs their treat yet. I have it in my head that they all get their treats at the same time. Prevents jealousy and, more importantly, it cuts back on some of the treat stealing that my puppy is the main perpetrator of.
After a few minutes I felt guilty and went to the door to go rescue the giant dog. He was standing at the door, not even deigning to scratch as usual. He was angry.
Sheltering Oaks by Maxfield Parrish
Click images for desktop size: "Sheltering Oaks" Maxfield Parrish
He came inside. He wasn't even going to take his treat, He refused to sit!
The dogs always sit before they get their treat. My puppy always sits right in front of me and pokes me with her nose in case I'm particularly stupid that day and don't notice that she's sitting right in front of me.
The gentle dog sat and got his treat but the giant dog just glared at me. He couldn't believe I left him there to suffer!
He refused his treat! Aggravated I poked it into his mouth. He just let it fall to the floor still glaring at me! Of course my puppy knows the sound of a treat hitting the floor, she was on it like a shot. It took her a couple of seconds to figure out how to keep her treat in her mouth while picking up the giant dog's.
As soon as she had it she ran out of the room and the giant dog panicked. I had to go to my puppy and ask her to give me back the giant dog's treat. She did so with poorly concealed bad humour.The Whip Hand
The giant dog was happy and took his treat and danced around with it proudly.
And that's my boring dog story of the day.
I have a million of them . . . Every minute they amaze and amuse me.

I have discovered that the real reason for the desperate push for the White House wasn't a mad lust for power by the Democrats. It was so the candidates could get them some dogs!
My friend read me a story this morning about how Biden's wife said he could have a dog if he got to the White House! Biden kept pictures of his dream dogs pasted to the back of the seat in front of him on the plane as an inspiration to him when he grew weary of the campaign trail!
His wife has tried to hedge her bets and claim that her intention was that if Biden got to be President then he could get his big dog!Tron
Biden is sticking to the letter of her proclamation and stating that the White House is the White House even as Vice President.
Well done! And an excellent reason to seek high office. If he'd told the story abut his need to win the election to get his dog I'd have had no problem campaigning for him!
I'm getting bombarded with emails urging me to sign petitions for Obama to get different kinds of dogs. I liked that he mentioned getting the dog in his acceptance speech.
The emails are urging this breed or that breed. I have sympathy for the petitions urging him to get a shelter pup. But I still think that choosing a family member who is going to live with you is an incredibly personal choice. I don't think he or his kids should be influenced by the outside. Although I do think that Belgian Shepherds have a keen understanding of economics and fighting! They are also protective and good at looking after you when you're up late at night. I think that Obama will be pulling quite a few all nighters, especially at first.
Whatever dog they choose I'm mainly pleased that they'll be two dogs in the White House. Between them I figure two dogs can get this country running in the right direction!
Its been three days now since Obama and Biden were elected.
Aside from the vital issues of dogs and dog procurement I remain disappointed . . .
Nemets
Click images for desktop size: "6" by Nemets
The disappointment line is one I copped from Rudy Vallee and the movie "How To Succeed In Business Without Really Trying". The first example of a weird how-to book being successfully realized as a musical! Since it was a hit we've had to endure scads of bad movies trying to capture that same lightening.
Anyway Robert Morse (who I met when I was doing sound for my friend, when Tobe was directing a Christmas play at the Pasadena Play House - Morse played the toymaker and he is as pleasantly crazy as I'd ever wished for) decides to advance his career he needs to move into advertising. Rudy Vallee (who I saw perform at his church - I got to shake his hand - a thrill for me as I was a fan because of this film and "Palm Beach Story" - Valle was cool, ancient but so very cool) the Bride Of Frankenstein president of the company talks about his trouble with advertising but against his wishes, because Vallee likes Morse, he gives him the job.
As they end the conversation, about two minutes later Vallee says, "Finch, now that you're the Vice President of advertising I have to say that, so far, I m very disappointed in what I've seen!"
Whenever I steal a joke that I really like no one ever gets it . . .
At least my puppy looks at me with a look at deep pity and then insists that I listen to hundreds of her "better" jokes . . .

November 6, 2008

Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss, you'll land among the stars
Les Brown

Mon Belle
Click images for desktop size: "Mon Belle Ami" by Unknown
Like most people I see things as I want to see them. This isn't neurotic or psychotic. It is just one of those things you learn in Philosophy 101, along with that damn Plato's Cave thing.
The Hitch Hiker Like when I look at my puppy I always see that erstwhile little dog who stood on her hind legs with her front feet resting on the little console as she stared resolutely out the windshield, occasionally and unexpectedly leaning over to give my face a lick.
That's a problem. It let me over feed her to the point of obesity. That's bad. Real bad. Worse in dogs than even in humans. But she always looked so happy when she got a treat . . .
Her being happy made my moments joyous, even as I was killing her. All because my subjective reality saw that little puppy dealing with her stress and doing so only to please me, to make me happy.
When I look at my friend . . .
The Valley
Click images for desktop size: "Valley" by Unknown

Yesterday was a long day. I did a lot. Not a lot of different things but a lot.
It was nice because I did a lot of yard work and had all three dogs outside with me for most of it.
I filled in the two holes the giant dog had dug. I still don't know why he digs them. Its not boredom, so I wonder what he's looking for.
Knowing the giant dog well I figure he lost a bone someplace in the yard and he's digging the holes here because its easier to dig here than there. There's no grass right in front of the door. The dogs always hit the ground running there and have a nice little circle of dirt and dust to roll in.
I filled all three of them in with mushroom mulch. I have a fantasy of grass growing back there one day.
I took the half empty bag of mulch back and then went to the shed to get the leaf blower. It took me about 10 minutes.
When I got back the giant dog was all pleased and excited. His butt was wiggling with unbridled joy and expectation. He knew I;d be pleased. Instead of three holes there were now four, and these were all much deeper and bigger than the ones I filled in.
Yin Yang Sky by WK Wong
Click images for desktop size: "Yin and Yang Sky" by WK Wong
In dog reality I had clearly filled in the holes not due to hating holes but because I clearly wanted a better quality hole. He just knew I'd be so pleased.
He made me laugh. I laughed harder when he was shocked I didn't give him a cookie as a reward for his hard work.
I'd never really used a leaf blower before. I was looking forward to it. I got the dogs in the house. If anyone was going to get blinded I figured it should only be me.
Now, my friend has this Black & Decker Leaf Hog. Interesting name. I guess its intended to be appealing.
My friend said that it was intended to vacuum up leaves and mulch them. She said it did this terriblyLast House On The Left and that it was only useful as a leaf blower. Its a huge thing, nearly 5 feet long.
There a long thick nozzle that ends in a six inch diameter intake. Then down by the handgrip is a three inch exhaust.
Even though there's a sticker on the nozzle that says "Be sure power is off before converting to vacuum or blower" there's absolutely no apparent way to make this conversion. When I turned it on it was pretty apparent that it was set to vacuum. It wasn't picking anything up but there was a pleasantly powerful exhaust blasting my feet.
I fussed with it, got bored with the fussing so I carried the thing like a military rifle at "order arms" position and directed the exhaust as a leaf blower by turning my body and twisting the thing up and down.
Worked pretty well but made me pretty arm weary. Its electric so not so heavy just big enough to be awkward and uncomfortable.
I got some big sections of the yard done. I had to give up at one space when I had a fifteen foot wall of leaves about three feet high. The dogs loved that. They've made it a fifteen foot wall that's now two feet tall and five feet wide (at last look).
Inside the house I continued my love affair with the new roomba. I'd left it running with the dogs in the house. I wasn't worried about it after I'd seen the gentle dog sleeping on the floor. The roomba bumped his foot and he lazily looked up at it then lay back down to sleep.The Omega Man
The roomba picked up an amazing amount of filth. I sent the dogs outside so I could mop the house. The place looked and smelled immaculate. I was very impressed.
I let the dogs back in. The cat came in with them and suddenly my immaculate floors were covered with yard dirt and dead leaves. Darn cat . . . always dragging in filth.
Darkness was coming on so I decided to watch a movie. My friend Jon had sent me a Thai flic called "Som Tum".
I've known Jon since he was 12. He was a pet store groupie. He liked to hang out and play with all the animals, eventually my wife had to give him a job.
Jon was thai. His mom was a single parent. She worked in the notorious Oki Dog. Oki Dog is that place at the fringe of West Hollywood that's used to be the hangout for the runaways and male hustlers. It made the most revolting food ever Dark Art
Click images for desktop size: "Untitled" by Dark Art
conceived. An okie dog was two grilled hot dogs with chili and a huge amount of odd veggies all wrapped in a flour tortilla. An oki dog was incredibly cheap though. I think it was a buck. You sure couldn't eat more than one . . .
Jon's mom said, correctly, that she couldn't afford for Jon to have all the pets he craved. Jon loved animals, birds, mice, and especially dogs and rabbits. He came to our house often and our dogs and rabbits loved him nearly as much as he loved them. They were always excited to see him and he never even gave them treats.
When we were entrusted by our vet to feed an abandoned tiger cub Jon worked even harder than we did to try and keep the thing alive. The tiger had to be fed every two hours. When I'd get up in the middle of the night to feed it Jon would already be there at the cage wanting to help.
When the tiger didn't make it Jon cried, not hysterically but with a deep profound sense of loss.
Working at a cruddy minimum wage job where she had to fend off the advances of the owner was The Brasher Dubloon not the reason Jon's mom had immigrated.
She decided to return to Thailand. This upset Jon terribly. He was 17 now and had turned into a pretty good kid. His love of animals had not diminished. We talked to his mom and we decided he could stay with us until he graduated from Fairfax High. He was no problem, actually a lot of help with our menagerie of animals.
Jon took me to the Thai movie theater for my birthday. It was this dilapidated joint down on Vermont way past Pico is all I remember but way before Exposition too.
The films were terrible. It didn't help that the theater was using a projector bulb that should have been replaced months ago. Seeing a dim shadow of a poorly shot film with indecipherable poorly translated subtitles is not my idea of arty filmmaking.
Like all kids Jon decided that since I didn't like those THREE movies I hated all Thai cinema. And as I Bandicoot
Click images for desktop size: "Bandicoot" by Unknown
was an adult this meant my opinion could never ever change.
When he graduated from school I took him back to Thailand. I';d never been and he was eager for me to see what a terrible wretched place it was so I could always feel sorry for him . . . or something like that.
We assiduously avoided all movie theaters. His choice. I was actually rather interested. I liked the garish posters.
He was shocked to read that I consider "Tom Yum Gum" as one of the 10 greatest films ever made. See, its a Thai movie. How could I like it? I hated Thai movies!
For my birthday Jon sent me a copy of a Thai move, Som Tum". It stars Nathan Jones. Jones was the giant muscle man that Tony Jaa has a memorable fight with at the Buddhist temple in "Tom Yum Gum"
Three Extremes I was surprised when I started the movie and over the logo's the subtitles read, "Subtitles not for sale. Specially prepared translation by Jon for his friend DC".
I was moved by this. I had to be.
For some reason Jon translated the Aussie English in the movie as well as the Thai. I guess he figures that I'm too stupid and too American to understand the accented English without help. He knows me pretty well so he probably has a point.
"Som Tum" is an alright movie. It has some remarkably touching scenes. It has some excellent fights, mainly from a 12 year old girl who is truly incredible. Jones is mainly a comic prop who, even though he has a big fight scene at the end, mainly seems to be showing how through love and concern for others it is possible to build self esteem and familial ties WITHOUT fighting.
Pretty laudable.
The plot is that Jones is a gentle giant but when he eats Sum Tom, a spicy Thai salad, the chili's make him flush red and he turns into a crazed fighting machine. Fortunately this weird take on Popeye and his spinach is not overdone.
Most of the film is about four people learning to trust and love each other even though they are alien and speak a different language. Its over plotted: there's a jewel robbery and plenty of fights but at its heart its more sweet than exhilarating.
Jones and the girls rebuilding the family restaurant is given more emotional weight and thrills than the very good fight scenes. The final denouement is Jones realizing he's not a loser or a low life. He Winter Lights
Click images for desktop size: "Winter Lights" by Unknown
came to Thailand because he won a raffle where the trip was the prize. For Jones it was more exciting that he got his name in the newspaper for being the winner then actually winning something. Its was the only time in his life he'd felt like he'd accomplished anything.
A good movie that I'll always hold as special.

Post election I'm still amused by the Palin stories. She seems unaware that she's become a national joke.
Obama has been President elect for a whole day.
So far nothing in my life has changed for the better.
So far I'd have to say I'm very disappointed in his performance . . .

October 30, 2008

Do you hear them? The children of the night
Tod Browning

Pumpkins by Trablex
Click images for desktop size: "Pumpkins" by Trablex
Sometimes you have to accept things that, on the surface, seem unacceptable.
There was and is a lot of furor about OJ Simpson. He was found not guilty. White America went berserk.
Skeleton Man There were six cops tried for beating Rodney King. They admitted to beating him. There was the stunning home videotape of the cops standing around lazily waiting for their chance to night stick the guy. They got the trial moved to Simi Valley. And the six cops were found not guilty.
Seems kind of incredible. You had to accept it. Maybe it was just a brilliant stroke by the defense attorney, or maybe it was just like some lawyer pals of mine said, we have no idea what went through the minds of the jurors and the way the evidence seemed to them sitting in the lofty precipice of the jury box.
I know Simi Valley pretty well. A lot of friends moved there because MGM announced that it planned to dump its facility in Culver City and move all of its operations out to Simi Valley.
Most of the MGM infrastructure, the guys in the machine shop, prop department, all those guys who really make movies and are so good at their art that American movies really were the best made in the world for a long long time, moved there.
A 3 bedroom house in LA could be found, if you were lucky, for about $300,000 (at the time). A 4 bedroom house in SImi Valley was about $115,000. The LA house would be pretty ramshackle with 1930's wiring and plumbing. The SImi Valley house would be 10 years old or even new.
Not much to consider. The TV show "MASH" was already being shot in SImi Valley - yeah, it stood in Elvira
Click images for desktop size: "Elvira" by Robert Redmond
for Korea and did it well enough to fool people for a lot of years. "Little House on the Prairie" was shot there. The wild area around there was abundant and cheap. No massive per diem's to the government like you had to pay in LA.
So all these guys packed up and moved to what they hoped for in a better life.
Guys who used to work at McDonald Douglas making airplanes who were now making armatures for life sized King Kongs made the move and liked it.
One friend of mine who worked in the prop department lived in a mobile home on a chunk of land he'd bought for $90,000. To get a house for his wife and three THe Invisible Ghost kids seemed incredible.
After he moved in there was one of those flash floods we get in SOuthern Cal. It seemed there was a graveyard there where the undertaker had been cutting corners and he hadn't buried people quite as deeply as he should. After the flood he got up to survey the flood damage and found one of the 100 plus coffins the flood had dug up dumped on his front yard.
It probably had nothing to do with it but shortly thereafter MGM decided not to move to Simi Valley. There was an under used 8 lane high way built to accommodate the expected rush. Their were all those ancillary businesses that spring up around move studios - messengers, sfx labs, recording studios who suddenly had no promised clients.
A few of the techs stayed on, finding the commute to Culver City to not be too bad.
For the most part all those people who trusted the MGM promise found themselves stuck and they began to sell things off.
Forest Sprite by Evegney
Click images for desktop size: "Forest Sprite" by Evegney
There are a lot of cops in Southern Cal. Just in LA you've got LAPD and the LA County Sheriffs, the CHP and then all those little towns and suburbs like Beverly Hills who want their own local cops.
A lot of law.
A whole lot of those cops thought that Simi Valley was a huge bargain and so they moved there. In big bunches. Movie people, cops, the old timers, the newly weds looking to get a start in life and the cowboys and stuntmen made for an interesting community.
Cops probably don't seem so bad when you live in between a mess of them and share schools with their kids.
Even though LA cops are pretty notorious for being the most white racist group in the area.
So getting the Rodney King cop trial moved there made it pretty clear the cops would be acquitted. Even if there weren't any cops on the jury the entire jury The Cat Girl pool had to have fiends and neighbors who were cops.
Senator Ted Stevens wants a new trial. He doesn't want the trial in Washington, where the 7 crimes he was convicted of happened. He wants his new trial in his home state.
Somehow that doesn't seem quite right. I can understand that his greedy corruption hurt the people in Alaska the very most but the trial venue is supposed to be in the area where the crimes were perpetrated. Stevens wasn't busted for being a greedy pig bastard who took bribes from rich oil men. He was convicted for lying about it. For lying about it to his peers, his fellow Senators.
He's claiming that the people of Washington are not his peers. I guess this goes back to the Alaska secessionist views. He committed his crimes in Washington DC but finds the people of Washington DC to not be able to comprehend who he is and defer to him.
Fair deal I guess. Although the fact that Alaska has changed their laws to tweak them enough to allow a convicted fellow to vote for himself on election days makes it appear that it would be less likely that the people of America would be well served by a jury of our peers.
We live in a country governed by laws. People break laws, people interpret laws the way they see fit. Its an imperfect system but most of the time its the only system that seems to work.
For a Senator, a law maker, to deride the law seems to me to be ungainly. Laughable. That he's being allowed to run for re-election is just, well, Marion Berry style mind blowing.

I watched a film yesterday, "Cyber Girl". Its the new movie by Jae-young Kwak, the guy who made the delightful and moving, "My Sassy Girl" (moving means I got misty and sniffly watching it).
Gothic
Click images for desktop size: "Gothic" by Unknown
Oddly this most Korean of Film makers made the film in Japan with Japanese actors. It feels much more Japanese than Korean.
The plot is quixotic, which I don't mind. The hero, Jiro, is a loner, shopping for his own birthday present in a fancy department store when this strangely dressed beautiful girl appears and starts making eyes at him. Jiro watches the girl shop lift a designer outfit. She then follows Jiro and takes him on the most wonderful night of his life. There's no sexual contact, only the fun and life that come from sudden deep friendships.
They part in a sweet and sad way.
Jiro can't forget the crazy girl. He doesn't see her for a year. Then on November 22, 2008 she reappears in a big blasto "Terminator" kind of way. All splashy sfx. The beautiful girl is different. Just as attractive but powerful and robotic, not the delightful crazy girl from before.
Jiro finds her and they go to the same restaurant they went to the The Black Sleep year before. Only this time the girl saves Jiro from a mad killer gunman.
She tells Jiro she is a cyborg and shows him a tape of Jiro himself. Jiro from the future as a 90 year old crippled man. Jiro sent the cyborg back to save him from the gunman who in the original past had shot Jiro and crippled him.
The cyborg is beautiful but stiff and stilted. They spend all their time together. She's his quiet body guard. She also stops a lot of tragedy, accidents that killed children. She was programmed to do this by the Jiro from the future.
This takes about an hour of the film time and is tedious and dull as heck.
Having a gorgeous super woman robot at your disposal shouldn't be this boring.
Then the film gets interesting in its final third.
Predictably Jiro falls in love with the robot. She's so stiff and robotic it has little impact. Which is another flaw. He tells her to get lost. He can't take being so sexually aroused in his tiny world with Eye
Click images for desktop size: "Eye" by Unknown
not having any reciprocation. In a drunken outburst he tells the cyborg to get lost, that he never wants to see her again.
Of course when she vanishes Jiro misses her but keeps finding little signs that she is still out there looking over him and protecting him.
Then the film takes a rather astounding twist. There is a massive earthquake that devastates Tokyo. The effects are all from the small limited view of Jiro but they are astonishingly real and effective. Most effective is Jiro's and our confusion in trying to figure out what the hell is going on. Earthquake, atomic attack? There's nothing clear at first just that it is an all encompassing calamity.
Jiro's home is destroyed and he plummets to a certain death. The cyborg saves him, of course. The cyborg tries to take Jiro to a place of safety. As Tokyo is collapsing around them it is near impossible. The cyborg gets buried under a collapsing The Mole People skyscraper. Jiro is hanging by a pip over a burning chasm of doom.
The cyborg cuts herself in half to free herself so she can go and save Jiro. Jiro saved grabs her hugs her and tells her how much he loves her. She violently pushes him out of the way just as another collapsing building buries her under tons of rubble.
Jiro is stunned and heartbroken and wanders the night with the hundreds of other lonely and devastated survivors. Here the movie really works. Its impossible not to feel the inner terror and desolation of the world as they wander with everyone suffering the loss of home, family friends, things and love.
The next day Jiro goes and using only his hands digs through the mountain of rubble to find his cyborg. She dead or broken, whatever a cyborg becomes when it stops working. (Of note - to rescue him the cyborg loses its bottom half, which codifies the true extent of his love for the cyborg. It was made clear before that she had sex organs.)
He cries and again professes his love for her.
Then the film jumps 133 years to the future!
Its all very interesting stuff about Jiro's future self and the fate of the cyborg. She is auctioned off after Jiro's death. Her memory chip was still intact and she has learned to reciprocate Jiro's affections. The cyborgs new owners permit her to travel back to the past to see Jiro one last time.
This is a fascinating conceit. We re-watch almost the entirety of the cyborgs and Jiro's first meeting, only this time completely from the perspective of the cyborg. Its wrenchingly effective. She is so in love with him and so angry at his lack of understanding of the depth of her feelings. It wonderful and gripping.
I'd have been bitterly satisfied with the ending except they went The Pit and the Pendulem for the happy ending.
Back to the "present" of 2010. Jiro has just dug up the remnants of his cyborg love. As he again begins his lament and professions of love, the new cyborg appears, time traveled back again to live the rest of Jiro's life with them together.
Confusing movie. Not for the plot. That's actually taken care of with a master's ease. What's confusing is how excruciating the opening two thirds is especially when the final third is so wonderful.
I can't bring myself to watch it again but, aside from the final end, I'm very glad to have the last third locked forever in my memory.

Tomorrow is Halloween. I'm going to do stuff, including taking the dogs trick or treating, hence all the groovy Halloween pix today.
One of my money orders has finally been posted! This is small relief. Its the least of them but at least it did get there. I note they posted it as of Oct 23 - 8 days after I mailed it and it still took them 7 days after that to get it credited to my account!
Business.

October 29, 2008

Half the lies they tell about me aren't true
Yogi Berra

Starcraft 2
Click images for desktop size: "Starcraft 2" by Blizzard Entertainment
Why are they still playing baseball?
I've been avoiding baseball this year. I still have this fantasy that my arm will miraculously heal all on its own and then I'll be able to find a senior league and play. Play forever.
UFO Watching games is just a sort of negative, bitter sweet reminder that I'm no longer what I was. That's a hard thing for the heart and mind to swallow whole.
But baseball and Halloween? That just doesn't seem right. They might drag this on until November. Which is a real drag since this is, sadly, about the dullest World Series ever.
I figured it would be better. The Tampa Bay team is loaded with guys I watched at the Triple A level. What little I've seen is that they looked great in Triple A but merely adequate in the bigs. The World Series isn't supposed to be merely adequate.
Its supposed to be legendary and not on TV while I'm watching snow flakes fall on my puppy.
Its snowing here. And in my memory of baseball.

A lot of people were upset about my seeming defense of the Hells Angels. I don't think the Angels need any defense.
In Southern Cal you end up knowing a lot of people from the future and the past. Hair boys, car boys, bikers and surfers.
I never became a biker. I loved the surf too much and that gave me a freedom that I could hold in the hands and in my mind all day, every day. And when I finally got old enough to own and ride a bike I looked at Harley Sportsters. Thought they were cool but had more of a leaning towards Japanese crotch rockets.
I still do have a fondness for the memory of the bikers. Especially for their origins. They are as Forsaken Angel
Click images for desktop size: "Forsaken Angel" by Unknown
Californian as surfers and a Tommy's burger eaten in a convertible muscle car.
When the Angels started, I guess it was after World War II. They had Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome back then too, only then vets who displayed the symptoms were branded as weak and cowardly. Patton would walk around slapping all their faces if he could.
These lost souls found their homes to small, the world too oppressive. Like all Americans they looked to the west and drifted to California. Solitary figures without a home they found a release in the cheap motorcycles floating around and found it exhilarating. The drifters ended up drifting together. I'd guess the old military feeling of belonging to a group caused them to come up with a uniform: colors. A uniform that set them apart as well as setting them together.
I imagine that guy wearing the old style baggy jeans, parked with his stripped down Harley Electro Guide on one of the hills, looking out aUnder Aget the pounding surf of Malibu and the long silver ribbon of PCH, hunching his shoulders inside his army fatigue jacket, the sleeves discolored from the removed rank insignia and service badges. And what he saw in the California dawn was a place to be what he was with no war, no killing and less fear then he'd known in half a decade.
Then there was the Korean War, or "The Police Action." And there were more vets, more people ostracized from society. WWII vets were at least acknowledged as heroes. Vets from Korea were lucky that they weren't branded as traitors.
(A big part of my problem with McCain is his embracing being called a war hero for his actions in Viet Nam. McCain should be grateful for guys like William Ayres - who has NOT been found guilty of any terrorists acts - and all the underground and war protestors who humanized the soldiers. A soldier in Korea who behaved like McCain did in Viet Nam would have been court martialed. An officer, such as he was, would have been court martialed with the possibility of facing a firing squad. Korean vets who did far less than he faced far worse.)
And there was rock & roll. And there were the movies. Marlon Brando and Lee Marvin set the new Edmund Dulac
Click images for desktop size: "Untitled" by Edmund Dulac
standard for bikers with "The Wild One". Based on an incident in northern California where a couple of biker gangs stopped for beer and a party "The Wild One" did for bikers what the Godfather movies did for the Mafia. It glorified and made it beautiful. Brando and Marvin were like the schizo image of bikers everywhere - the good and the bad so big and intense it took two stars to embody one individual biker.
The bikers grew and held steady and strong within themselves. Until the 60's when Roger Corman, Peter Fonda and Nancy Sinatra (!) made it seem wonderful again. A movie that was mainly guys riding their bikes to the glorious sound of Davie Allen and the Arrows. Heavenly Blues as played by Fonda became an instant icon and Vampire Circus aviator sunglasses the direguer fashion accessory for people who never saw a bike. Why not. Heavenly Blues who didn't even let death separate him from his buddy Bruce Dern. (The seminal scene where they steal Dern's body and prop him up and pass him the joint and the bottle still reverberates and affects today.)
And lord they made money. And a bunch of bikers had to be chagrined. Some of them got extra pay (like $50 a day) to be in the movie looking like themselves which meant they looked like nothing the world had ever seen before, and they watched as everyone else made money and more money.
Most seem to credit Sonny Barger for reacting to this and starting to register the Angels trademarks to try and pick up on the cash cow that was blossoming in front of them. Money.
I've met Angels, usually at Hollywood "too hip" parties or most often at Country Line. We'd play dominos and drink Mickey Big Mouth Malt Liquor. I never had any issues with them nor they with me. They were just guys.
Maybe the money and the toughness has led them to lives of "organized crime". I wouldn't know. I do know I don't trust lazy cops take on them. These are the same cops who are using Bush's whack anti-terrorist laws to brand black street gangs as terrorists so they can violate their civil rights and get away with it.
So whatever the Angels may have become or may not have become I'll keep my memory intact. Some of them probably are criminals, they probably were before they joined up with the Angels. The Angels might have been the only place where they could find a home. Everyone is entitled to a home.
"No one remembers the good we do. Everyone Remembers the bad."
Due to the state trashing my bank account I've had The Unholy Wife to pay my bills with Money Orders this month. Its been a mess. I sent them out 15 days ago and not one of them has been credited to my account . . .
This is frustrating and vaguely frightening. Todays task is to sort through this mess.
And to do some laundry and mop the floors while puppies with snow packed paws track all over everything.
The giant dog has suddenly gone lame. He's fine and in good spirits. He still runs and bounds like a maniac but then he'll suddenly stop and limp. For a while he'll barely be able to crawl up to his favorite perch on the sofa.
I'll be keeping an eye on him and hoping that this is as bad as it gets and its just a mild sprain from playing too hard.

October 27, 2008

Life must be understood backwards; but it must be lived forward
Soren Kierkegaard

Cracked Wheat
Click images for desktop size: "Cracked Wheat" by Unknown
When I was around 7 I remember being in the car with my new step-father and my mother. We were on a two lane highway going someplace I don't remember. It wasn't very important, to me anyway.
Robot Monster We were in a salmon cake colored Plymouth Belvedere, old but fancy, when suddenly I saw behind us a bunch of motorcycles: choppers.
In a few moments the car was surrounded by choppers. Big hairy brutes wearing Hells Angels colors, riding choppers. Some of the bikes were elegant and beautiful. Others were ratty and rusted while others were in the middle of their transformation. All of them glistened gloriously in the bright California sun.
It was a Hells Angel snake about 50 bikers just tearing up the highway.Ghosts
Click images for desktop size: "Ghosts" by Unknown

I heard my father yell at my mother, "Whatever you do DON'T look at them!" as he scrunched low behind the steering wheel. My step-father was the biggest adult I'd ever seen. I was fascinated that these bikers scared even him.
Of course I clung to the window staring at these guys. They were big, ugly brutes. They looked beautiful because they looked like freedom.
Some of them even waved at me but mainly they were focused on something else; on being free I'd have thought. For about five minutes the bikes roared past us. The snake trailed two abreast and when they reached the car they zipped and passed us on both sides. They counted only on their sheer presence to hold my step fathers fear in check to stop him from veering the car to either side and wiping one of them out.
It was incredibly exciting. Free to be anywhere they chose with their buddies who were just like them. That they scared the bejeezus out of adults was only a fringe benefit. What was cool was their Wall Of China
Click images for desktop size: "Wall Of China" by Unknown
arrogance in their sheer presence.
I read the papers and looked at adult books about the Hells Angels. For a while they were my icons. They represented everything I wanted to be.
That's how I discovered Hunter Thompson. I was about 10 when I read his book on the Hells Angels.
I never became a biker. I had a couple of friends who did. Two of them are dead and the others in prison. The two who died did so on the road. One smashed into a culvert on PCH. They figured he was doing over a hundred on his old Indian Chopper. The other smashed into a truck on the 405 during rush hour. The third is in prison. He was the "pick up man" in some sort of kidnapping. I never got the full details. He was just the guy who was supposed to pick up the money. When he did he was descended upon byShe Creature cops. I've seen enough movies to understand that.
If you go down to Venice Beach you always see the burned out bikers hanging around. Like the old norse crones who shared one eye and a tooth between the three of them you can see the drug wrecked bikers passing a joint and, you assume, their surviving brain cell as they laugh and tell stories that don't make a whole lot of sense. A lot like listening to Sky Saxon tell you about his plans for the future. (Sky Saxon and the old drug casualty bikers should be hired by the government to travel to high schools. Twenty minutes of listening to them talk is the surest inducement to not to drugs that I can imagine.)
I've been thinking about bikers because I've been reading this book: "At War With Hells Angels". War?
Its a bad book. I find it amusing. This is the third book this guy has, apparently written about the Angels. I think he's obsessive. The book is about the war between bikers in Illinois, Canada and Luis Royo
Click images for desktop size: "Untitled" by Luis Royo
Scandinavia!
I'm a SoCal guy so I've always been a touch perplexed about how you can be a biker in a place where you can only ride about four months out of the year, but that's just my own personal concern. Who wouldn't want to be part of a family that represents freedom and fear?
This writer tries to paint the Angels as the new Mafia. Maybe its so but I'm befuddled by how you can be a secret crime organization when everything about you marks you as a biker. When you wear a uniform that is known throughout the world.
He paints the Angels as the ultimate evil in the world. I'm not exaggerating. He sees the Angels as evil incarnate and proof that God is in retreat!
I think he saw the totally cool movie "Stone Cold". Its the last great biker movie staring Brian Bosworth (Awesome line backer from Oklahoma who fizzled as a Seattle SeaHawk in the NFL - Bosworth's big claim to fame was being one of the first Scarlet Claw athletes suspended from the NCAA for steroid use, which prompted Bosworth to show up at the OU bowl game wearing a knee length T-Shirt that used the NCAA initials to spell out National Communists Against Athletes . . . strange. Maybe it was this attitude that kept him from being a movie star. He's pretty good here, especially as a debut.)
In "Stone Cold" Lance Henriksen gives his greatest performance as "Chains" the president and leader of "The Brotherhood". A Hells Angel's clone. Henriksen gives the movie the edge and movement towards greatness. He;s incredible and undefeatable. He raises evil on earth to giddy heights. Tres cool.
But even this fictitious character so brilliantly embodied cannot compare to the evil that this writer paints for the real world Angels.
The writer uses too many charts and diagrams to ever prove his point to me but I like that it reminds me of my child hood when I could think of nothing more gorgeous than ripping through the highways with my friends while my step-father cowered behind the wheel of his safe car.

Lots going on. All just life. The drains here are clogged. This is an old house and the clog is at a junction of ancient cast iron where PVC pipe has somehow been welded on. The runs of pipe are over thirty feet long! I have a six foot snake . . . So it will be interesting.

October 2, 2008

Furthermore, to hell with hate
Joe South

Darkness To Light by Shifted Reality
Click images for desktop size: "From Darkness To Light" by Shifted Reality
With the Dodgers and the Cubs both in the playoff's I can't lose! At least not in the first round. I was surprised that the Dodgers showed so much power. Not so surprised that the Cubs were held in check.
Scandal I hope it goes seven games and that the winner eviscerates the Phillies and gets to the world series. The series really should be the Cubs vs the Angels, but I'll take whatever happens!

Finished off the sick day by watching two more movies, watched them curled up and too hot underneath down like comforters.
Watched "The Rocker". Pretty bad comedy about a drummer who got kicked out of his band on the eve of their legendary success. The Bride Of Frankenstein
Click for desktop size: "Bride Of Frankenstein" by Universal
drummer stages a comeback twenty bitter years later with his nephews alternative rock band. It had a surprising number of good laughs in it. The acting was on a pretty decent level. The real surprise was they cast Pete Best (the drummer the Beatles kicked out of the band on the eve of their success) playing the replacement drummer.
The plot was wonky and the music was dreadful but I laughed aloud quite a few times. Much more enjoyable than it had any right to be.
We ended the night watching "10 Things I Promised My Dog". Now, I'm a sucker for Japanese dog movies. They are virtually their own genre.
They are remarkably gentle films. Extremely life like in their tragedy and conflict but always there are redeeming people about, always there is love and always there is a beautiful dog who behaves exactly like a dog and not like a movie star.Superman-DC Comics
Click images for desktop size: "Superman" by DC Comics

There's never a bad guy in these movies. There's never any dramatic conflict of that sort. The intrusions into the little world are always the product of fate, of life and its vagaries.
It works well for me. I always get misty when the dog passes away from old age.
The genre is so popular in Japan that they made a film that was a massive hit: "Always". It was a generic dog movie WITHOUT THE DOG!
I liked "Always" fine. I preferred "10 Things I Promised My Dog" because it has the cathartic release of getting me misty when the dog passed away at the end. "10 Things" had some great acting. The guy playing the father was superb. The dog was excellent, the girl was cute and bland. There was a classical guitarist. Sunset Boulevard He was actually playing live in the film. He was impressive as a player. Its always stunning when musicians play live in movies. It got Gary Busey his oscar nomination ("The Buddy Holly Story"). Its so effective in building its own little tension that its surprising its not done more often.
I can't recommend this one to anyone but fans of the genre. The director stuck too closely to the formula and didn't seek to expand or contract his vision within the genre like Anthony Mann did with the Western, or Don Seigal did with the prison movie. I enjoyed it immensely. It did what it was supposed to do well, exactly as was expected. That was its only flaw.
It got worried and agitated at all the right sports, laughed when I needed to relief the tension, excited at learning something that was obvious but seemed like a private insight. It did all you could expect and did it extremely well it just didn't Luis Royo
Click images for desktop size: "Untitled" by Luis Royo
add anything new. In other words I wanted to love the movie, but instead I only liked it a lot. That's the weakness of the Japanese dog movies.
Like the rest of America I'm stoked about the Vice Presidential debate tonight. Sarah Palin has become the funniest TV character in decades. This is like the ultimate reality show comedy.
Every day she seems to top herself. I really don't know how she does it, how she keeps coming up with these great lines!
Yesterday was so totally cool when she accused Kate Couric of being unethical!! And she made it even funnier by claiming she knows that "pop quizzes" and reporting what a candidate says is unethical based on her community college degree in journalism!
She's a riot!
Terminator-The Sarah Connors Chronicles She nearly blew it with her commiserating about how "Joe Six Pack" she was by then pointing out how she had lost 20k in the market melt down . . . she seemed to think that everybody in America lost at least that much . . . sort of ignoring that all the people on minimum wage don't earn 20k in a year. I got the point of the joke but I thought it fell flat. I was sort of hoping she'd try and recover by giving us a flute solo but no such luck.
I do have to question the sanity of anyone who thinks this awesome comedienne could actually be in charge of anything more than a TV production house. I mean I think its clever that she screwed over the people in Alaska by charging them for transportation from her house to her house, and brilliant to charge them a per diem for sleeping in her own house. That's the kind of creative accounting that TV producers live by. But to be in actual charge of a whole lot of people? I keep thinking about RoseAnne. Maybe Palin could show us her private tattoos tonight.
I hope Sarah doesn't ket me down tonight.
I was seriously disappointed in Obama. He gave a good speech from the Senate floor. Pointing out the greed and government ineptitude that led to the stock market going off (it still has not crashed). He decried everything that needed decrying but he voted for it anyway. We're still giving rich lying stealing bastards our money.
That's not right.

September 29, 2008

A working class hero is something to be
John Lennon

Paul Newman by Robert Risko
Click images for desktop size: "Paul Newman" by Robert Risko
I never met Paul Newman. Never even saw him walking around Melrose or Rodeo Drive. Never saw him in any of the chi chi restaurants.
Saw his wife, Joanne Woodward, at a rally once. It Never Trust A Gambler was a protest thing for something that seemed vital at the time. I can't remember what it was about. Didn't meet her, just saw her from my place in the crowd.
I never worked on any movies with them. I know a few guys who did. Newman always seemed to work with old-school crews. Guys with proven track records, maybe not brilliant but steady and more than capable. The kind of crews that kept American movies considered as the ultimate in technical competence.
Those guys always spoke highly of him. Crews can mess up a star pretty easily. It happens all the time. The rude jerk who yells at them, insults them. During a brilliant take a garbage can gets kicked, a light gets spun, simple things that say we have to do it all over again. Some actors never The Beach
Click images for desktop size: "The Beach" by Unknown
learn and wonder why these things always happen to them. Wonder why they're always doing retakes trying to recapture fire flies, a moment that never happens again.
According to the old guys Newman never had that problem. He made them a part of making the movie. He got them to be on his side, not that easy with jaded Hollywood crews. He did it just with simple human respect. He didn't pander to them, like some stars who get hip but who still lack the compassion to see others as equals. He'd even yell at them when it was called for but not too often and not over the top.
That's the stories they tell. It seems pretty accurate. Its up on the screen to see. Almost always.
I'm not a big fan of Paul Newman movies. I was too young for "The Hustler" and "Cat on a Hot Tin Waiting and Mad by Charles Russell
Click images for desktop size: "Waiting and Mad" by Charles Marion Russell
Roof" to have the same impact on me that they must have had on contemporary audiences.
Then there were those films that he made with Robert Altman, including an inexplicable disastrous post-apocalyptic Sci-Fi flic, Quintet.
Probably my favorite Paul Newman movies are "Judge Roy Bean" and, of course, "Slap Shot". Which probably says more abut my taste than Newman's talent.
So I wasn't a big fan of the actor but I am a huge fan of the man. He led a life of honor that stands as a pinnacle of, at least, my fantasy.
He lived a happy life. He loved life. The memory I always have is him on TV. For some reason I had the "David Letterman Show" on TV. I wasn't paying much attention No Way Out when there was suddenly a commotion in the audience. Some guy was pushing his way through a row of seats trying to leave - a big no-no in TV tapings.
Letterman asked the guy what his problem was. he guy turned around and it was Paul Newman. Newman said, "I thought this was going to be "Cats"!"
Then he just left. I thought it was funny then. I still do.
A big star taking the time to do a little bit when he had nothing to promote, nothing to gain except to have a chuckle and a good time. I like that. It doesn't happen very often so you need to remark upon it.
I like that Newman directed a movie with his wife, to give the world a shot at seeing the woman he loved though his eyes, to showcase the talent and beauty he saw in her. I like that he loved his race cars and won championships.
But what I loved the most was that he changed the world in the best possible ways.
Carolina Morning by Edward Hopper
Click images for desktop size: "Carolina Morning" by Edward Hopper
There's a lot of mention that Newman with all his food products generated about $200 million for charity. It ignores the few thousand jobs his charity created. It ignores the fact that that amount equals about $10 million a year. Newman was not making $300 million a year. That's the minimum he'd have had to make for this kind of donation to benefit him as a tax write off.
The only benefit he got from his largesse was in doing the right thing. He had enough money to be happy, to provide for his family and to keep them happy and secure. So he gave the rest to the world to make the world a better place for everyone else.
The money from the food and popcorn and stuff is pretty well known. But Newman also set up homes for kids that were seriously ill. Newman let himself feel andModesty Blaise what he felt for sick kids he didn't like and he had enough man in him to do something about it. To change it.
It's hard to list all the things that Newman did, big and small for the world. Things that let the world spin a bit better. He held to his beliefs and didn't waver or back off from them. And he he believed in people and in people's rights.
He inspired others. Look at Robert Redford. Look at Reford's choices in roles after he worked with Newman. Look how Redford used his stardom after Butch Cassidy. Its important and its audacious.
Movies will continue without Paul Newman. He'll be missed like Steve McQueen is missed but they'll go on. Because of his foresight his charities will go on and continue to change and reshape the world for the better. Some small amount of suffering will be lifted. That's a powerful legacy; removing even a small amount of even one person's suffering is a big deal, to be able to do that for thousands each and every day is something I can be envious of without regrets.
The world's going to miss that. I'll miss that.
There's no one taking his place there. None of the much richer present day movie stars. Nicholson, Ford, what are they doing with their mega-millions? George Clooney has made some efforts but not in the selfless way that Newman did.
Newman just did what he did so he could live easily and happily with himself and his family, helping the world try and get to it's own place so it could be a happy as he was.

September 19, 2008

You're my brother. You should have looked after me
Bud Schulberg

Falling Star by Emperaa
Click images for desktop size: "Falling Star" by Emperaa
There's a writer, Stanley Elkin. He likes to be identified as a Chicago writer. A pretty select group, I guess.
I can only think of Elkin, Saul Bellow and Sara Paretsky and that fellow who wrote "Man With the Golden Arm", Nelson Algren.
I always think of ALgren as New York based because of all his early TV work. The Legend Of Hillbilly John Thing is I always think writers who locate themselves in a particular area are pretty interesting. I mean, Faulkner had his mythic south, Kennedy has Albany New York, Joyce had Dublin and Chandler had L.A.
It always seems that the more specific a good writer gets the more universal his story becomes. I've got no proof of this. Its just the way things feel to me.
Stanley Elkin had multiple sclerosis. It killed him. He was probably thinking about how it was going to kill him when he wrote "The Living End".
"The Living End" is a funny story about this jewish guy who dies. The fellow goes to Heaven. He's disappointed because Heaven really doesn't come up to his expectations. He thinks it looks a lot like Disneyland, but he guesses its better than the alternative.
Suddenly he is confronted by the voice of God. God begins to berate our hero. He condemns him to hell because he once ate a piece of bacon, he wore pants with zippers instead of buttons, he worked on the sabbath. God casts this guy into the darkest pits of hell shouting out his final transgression; "and you thought Heaven looked like an amusement park!"
Fernando Vicente
Click images for desktop size: "Untitled" by Fernando Viecente
For this sins the hero is doomed to suffer eternal torment alongside murderers, rapists, child abusers, lawyers . . . That his seemingly minor sins were seen, by God, to be as serious as genocide. A commandment is a commandment. A sin is a sin. Its a funny little book. Too hard to find, I think, but worth picking up.
There's always something about divine justice that horrifies and interests me. I think its pretty normal to at some part of your life to think that you've been hard done by. What's important, I think, is not to let it bug you to the point of being morose or silly or cruel.
I've taken it too far, often. I have an adolescent concept of correctness. My greatest fault has been in not allowing people who love me to be a part of me. Sometimes in idiotically minor ways. To let a player help me set up the field, help me carry stuff when my arms are full. The Canyon by Maxfield Parrish
Click images for desktop size: "The Canyon" by Maxfield Parrish
Little meaningless things that might have let them know that I valued them and trusted them to be a part of me.
Its an old true cliche that the easiest way to get someone to feel indebted to you is not to do them a favor but to allow them to do you a favor.
Somehow I turned that into a code. I didn't want to have people feel indebted to me. I feel indebted to so many and sometimes it weighs heavy. I wanted everyone I loved to feel unencumbered, free to pursue their dreams and to help others they met to pursue their dreams.
I have to remind myself that this tic of mine when added to my natural aloofness can make me seem heartless and unfeeling. That's not very important in itself, others perceptions of me. It is important when it makes people think that I think less of them. I don't grasp sometimes that how I feel about people is sometimes important to them. Probably a lot more The Hills Have Eyes important to them than how they feel about me.
Its just something I have to remember.
My friend sent me one of those test things that was supposed to tell you how much of an animal lover you are. I had a problem with it. The basic premise was skewed. It relied on a faulty concept that you could only love animals if you hated people . . . there was no lee way in thinking that animals and people are pretty equal in my eyes.
Its that same sort of thinking, not realizing there are alternatives that exist outside of ourselves that plagues me. I have to stay always aware of it or I become nothing except some sort of monstrous saint.

I've been calling the school twice a day trying to reach the HC. I left a message today. If he doesn't call me back I'll move along. There's a limit to how much stalking I'll do to get an unpaying gig.
My friends interview went well. They pointed out she's pretty well over qualified for the position. From what she says her potential immediate superior was the most concerned about this.
She liked the people and the job seemed interesting enough, at this stage, to keep her interested. They were seeing 9 applicants and will start their short list call backs on Tuesday.

Last night watched the last of this summers comic book flics. "The Incredible Hulk fits in nicely between "Iron Man" and "The Dark Knight."
I didn't think it was that good. The acting was fine and for the first time I appreciated Liv Tyler. Fat Frac by NBD
Click images for desktop size: "Fat Frac" by NBD
I had a hard time thinking of skinny Tim Roth as a quasi killer super soldier . . .
What I liked about the Hulk movie was that he wore purple pants, the Lou Ferrigno and whack Bill Bixby cameos, and that he says, "HULK SMASH!"
I also got excited because the story played out almost like the comic book "Abomination" I remember reading when I was a kid.
I was pretty disappointed in the action. I guess Corey Yuen was a lot more responsible for "The Transporter" than given credit for.
Of course all misgivings were forgotten at the end when Robert Downey Jr enters the bar and gives a hint that there'll be an Avengers movie next summer!
I know it wasn't promised but in these kind of things a hint is more binding than a promise.

September 18, 2008

I get what I want when I want it
The Hives

Electric Honey Hornet Mitten by J3 Designs
Click images for desktop size: "Electric Honey Hornet Mitten" by J3 Designs
They finally came and got the old washer and dryer out of here yesterday. Took them all of 7 minutes from entry to exit.
At least it's done. Now I have to write a letter to Sears complaining to get some more compensation. A week of inconvenience and extra work caused their sub-contractor should be compensated,
Teenage Doll Right now my friend is off on a job interview. The main attraction in this job is that it is less than a mile from the house!
Oddly her job title will be a reduction in status, from Controller to some sort of accounting manager. But the money will be close to the same . . . I put it down to the vagaries of working for not for profits.
Here present job is a national wilderness preservation group. Well thought of I guess. The job interview is in the same field but only state wide.
There's a small part of me that would like to see her stay at her present job. She's just getting to know the people and likes a few of them well.
Clarence Holbrook Carter
Click images for desktop size: "Untitled" by Clarence H Carter
But the idea of being able to take the dogs over to meet up for lunch and whatever is more than a little cool.
Plus with the coming depression and the oil company gouging being able to walk to work and/or only having to drive a mile to work means a savings of about $500.00 a month!
And the time factor. Now her job is about 45 minutes a way. This is a 12 minute walk . . .
Its nice going on a job interview when there's no real pressure to get the job. It would just be nicer. Its all cool.
If she has fun on the interview maybe she'll get past being angry with me for not wanting to drive 100 miles to see the Mudhoneys . . .
She say's they're one of the original grunge bands. I think them as a tired punk metal act. I'll probably end up going and then if I hate the show I can use it as leverage to get something I want . . .
I've always had reservations about bands that name themselves after Russ Meyer's flics.

We finally watched "The Dark Knight". Evening Wind by Edward Hopper
Click images for desktop size: "Evening Wind" by Edward Hopper
I was pretty disappointed, especially as I'm a big fan of "Batman Begins".
"Iron Man" was definitely more fun. "The Dark Knight" had some decent moments but it was too thin to be such a long long movie. The acting was fine but not very exceptional. I thought Heath Ledger's Joker was more hammy (hammier?) than even Jack Nicholson's Joker.
Ledger had some decent scenes but they ended up being too mannered for my tastes.
Aside from Morgan Freeman's line about, "You think that one of the wealthiest most powerful men in the world is a vigilante who spends his nights beating criminals to a pulp with his bare hands and you want to blackmail him?" there wasn't much to enjoy here.
The special effects and gismos were okay. The thing I spent The Beyond most of the time wondering about was how this movie got to be the monster hit that it is.
One thing I found fascinating was that the themes that it hit on most effectively were explored much more touchingly in "A Man Who Was Superman".
"A Man Who Was Superman" has been rising higher and higher in my estimation. It was such a light colored film that explored such dark insidious themes, but it did it with a smile on its face and a far more mature perspective on the world.
"The Dark Knight," at times seemed to be going for the dark for no real purpose than it was the easier thematic way out of things.
I like dark. I like unremitting darkness in movies too, but here they were going for too many other things and it got to be a bit of a mess.
The only thing I actively disliked though was the final battle between Batman and the Joker. The conflict between Gordon and Batman when we know that Bats is always right about this sort of thing, especially in view of the fact that Gordon kept being wrong throughout the movie added nothing but grate for me.
The comics have prepared me for the Joker getting that one lucky punch in that decks Batman but I couldn't quite accept that just whacking Batman with a pipe would get him down. Then for Bats to escape only because of a rather dull gizmo was annoyingly anticlimactic.
The Garment Jungle I watched WALL-E by myself last night. I didn't get it. I liked WALL-E and the insane cleaning robot but that was it. I didn't get the point of showing people as basically good but as fat non-moving unattractive non-capable creatures.
It made the ending bewildering for me.
There was a time when I would have gotten a kick out of the omnipresent Apple images - the iPod video, the robots re-booting with the Mac chimes, now it just comes across as commercial propaganda aimed at kids.
That's a bit too cynical for me.
Today I'm going to take the ebike to the store to get some dog food. Its about a two hour walk and about 15 minutes on the bike!
I love being mobile.

September 13, 2008

Sometimes the good guys win one

A Good Mixer by Maxfield Parrish
Click images for desktop size: "A Good Mixer" by Maxfield Parrish
I'm sick of politics.
For me its over. Barring anything unreasonable happening or someone standing up proud to change my mind. I'm done.
Good thing too as today is the day of the game of the season (so far). USC v OSU.
Murder My Sweet I'm a bit startled at how much hype the game has received. I don't like much of where the attention has gone wither. The sports media seems to always forget that these are young men. Kids really, most of them not even 21 years old.
Point spreads and injury reports are fine in the NFL, as far as I'm concerned. Its a pro sport and it was created for that sort of thing. Bu this is kids going out to fight for pride, for old alumni guys like me, for their teammates, for their family and for their girl friends or better still, their want them to be girl friends.
There'll be a score. You need a score to have a handle on how to judge your performance Blue Character Anime
Click images for desktop size: "Cardinal & Gold Anime" by Unknown
but that's all it should really mean.
I'm excited about this game because it does pit two of the finest defenses in the country against a decent offense (OSU) and an unproven but potentially great offense (USC).
I do hope that Jim Tressel (OSU HC) isn't playing mind games or games ,man ship regarding Beanie Wells. I want the kid to be healthy enough to play and to play well. I want to see him against the Trojan defense.
I hope its not games man ship. Tressel has done enough of that with his two game suspension of his two DB's. (Never heard of a two game suspension before - its usually one game or three.)
I was pretty shocked to read Coach Terry Bowden state that he thinks that Tressel's ploy with Wells is games man ship. Then Bowden added that it was a two game plan to play mind games with USC to set OSU up for a victory. He went on to say that the Ohio game and Wells being listed as doubtful is exactly what he would do . . .
I still say that kind of junk is for the NFL where its a big Lady In The Lake "who cares" deal. Its not something that in play for the development of young men. Its not beneficial to either the Buckeye or the Trojan players. Its not part of education. If winning becomes that Lombardi like in College ball then the sport will lack and be just an unpaid minor leagues for the NFL.
Its a lot more than that. I hope that the money doesn't drag the game down.
I also hope they don't do something as daft or dangerous as novocaine Wells. I want him to play. Without him I think OSU can move the ball and score some but the pressure will really be on the OSU defense to win the game. Counting on defense to score you points is do-able but it can't be relied on.
On offense I think the Buckeyes can handle the Trojan front four pretty well. They won't be able to handle the linebackers. I expect to see Clay Matthews sneak in on a few plays and incredibly disrupt things. Brian Cushing, Ray Maualuga will be forces and MaiavaAlex's Eye
Click images for desktop size: "Alex's Eye" by Unknown
will stand strong against any running backs.
They'll be some cool safety blitzes and at least one outrageous corner blitz. If they decide to test out Taylor Mays he should have at least one pick.
The USC offense is a bit worrisome. Our wideouts have to improve a lot against what they did at Virginia. Virginia hit them with pretty much zone all day. OSU likes man to man and they have the physical presence to make it work and hold up for their blitzes. If Mark Sanchez stays cool and uses his feet well he will get some shots downfield that will open up the dump passes to Joe McKnight and Stanley Havili. Our TE's will not be much of a passing factor. They may get a couple but they'll be used primarily to keep the blitz off of Mark's back.
Mark of the Vampire Our running game might wear the Buckeyes front seven out. They could start ripping them hard in the second half, with Bradford, Johnson and Gable pounding them up the middle and with "OH NO ITS" Joe taking them wide this will be an interesting test of stamina.
I'm hoping Sarkasian (USC OC) uses the first quarter to run. Go deep a couple times to keep the box open but mainly just beat up the front 3 and get some solid crunchers in on the linebackers. Get them weary and dazed and then explode on them.
Realistically OSU has never seen a relentless running attack like USC is capable of. Last year they couldn't handle Illinois attack which was nearly as strong as but not as varied at the Trojan attack. It seems impossible that OSU can stuff the run consistently but if they do and they can get Mark Sanchez to force the game they'll have a shot. I'm sure that's their plan.
It won't be that easy. The OSU should make some big plays, exploiting their experience against the Trojan youth. If they don't things will get very ugly.
Special teams are strange. Neither team has much experience on punt return coverage yet both have game breakers on their return team. Ray Small put a bulls eye on his neck with his comments dissing the Trojans. It will be interesting to see if he can back those words.
Joe McKnight is probably the finest punt returner in the country but he fumbles!
USC's long snapping is a big worry. They'll be practiced up but the Buckeyes will be coming hard to mess it up. There could be a big play here against Troy.
On kick offs USC has a bad history of screwing up in their return coverage. They can feast or famine here, force the fumble or allow the big return. Ohio's kick return coverage is better and more consistent.
It should be exciting. Sadly it will probably be heart breaking for one school or the other.
None of the other junk matters now. Today belongs to the kids. I hope the adults haven't messed it up for them.
Planet Of The Apes
Waiting for the washer/dryer to be re-delivered today. I don't know.
Got a call from Sears today that was very aggravating. I had to fight to keep my temper in check and just relate the inanity of their contracted delivery guys. They were jerks. Put me on hold for twenty minutes and then disconnected me . . .
I called back and railed at them some. Got them to agree to a Saturday delivery and to waive the hefty delivery fee.
I still don't trust them. Although, since it gives them the chance to mess up my Saturday of football they'll probably show up. Whether they deliver the stuff is a different issue.

I did see a rather interesting movie last night. Johnny To is one of my favorite directors. He started On the Prowl By Charles Russell
Click images for desktop size: "On The Prowl" by Charles Russell
out making Michelle Yeoh a star in those manic "Heroic Trio" flics. Very over the top stuff but very cool and fun.
Then he teamed up with Andy Lau and delivered the stunning "Running On Karma". A devastating film that showed pure cinematic power and love.
He had huge hits with the triad flics, "Election" and "Election 2". Calling them the Chinese Godfather flics is faint praise. Last year he delivered the fascinating "Mad Detective". In retrospect it seems he was experimenting with nuance, character and allowing the actor to tell his story.
His latest is "Sparrow". The film has minimal dialogue, possibly less than "The Driver". (Walter Hill's interesting stab at existentialism).M
The brilliant part of the movie is that To explains NOTHING! No character is giving a background, they are all as we see them, but we are never at a loss to know exactly who they are. Each character is nuanced because To gives them just enough to complete them so that we know who and what they are. Its stunning.
What it lacks is an interesting story. Perhaps to avoid the easy way out and rely on genre cliches To's little story about pick pockets doesn't really give us much. There are some emotions and some touching scenes (particularly the last scene of the cri