Blog Summary

A blog for poetry, prose, and pop culture.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Flash Fiction: Under a Dead Sun: Past Sins

Chapter 2

Morgan Randall rose before the sun had crested the sky, like he had every day since he had come to this stretch of country. His brown pants and shirt looked like they hadn't been cleaned in weeks and large circles of salt lined the bill of his threadbare hat. His long brown hair hung in lanky strands down to his shoulders while his stringy bangs masked the dark circles beneath his gray eyes. He shuffled slowly through his morning routine, feeding the chickens and the pigs, milking his few cows, and watering the only piece of color on his dingy brown farm, a small bank of bluebells that were growing in a fenced in section several yards from the house, around a wooden cross.

Morgan wiped a line of sweat from his brow and dunked his head into the horse trough, feeling the sting of the cold water on his face, and took a few deep gulps of the water. He pulled his head free and swept his tangled mess of hair back under his hat, the water beading in trickles down his craggy, unshaven face. He walked slowly over to the barn, grabbing his pick and backhoe, and headed over to the crop fields. Winter looked to break early this year and he still had plenty of rocks to remove from this section of the land. Morgan took off his shirt, revealing a body lined with scars, most notably numerous lash marks across his back and a pucker shaped scar on his shoulder. He tied his shirt around his waist and went to work.

Morgan worked for nearly an hour, his back to the east and he could feel the warming rays of the sun finally start to break over his shoulder. He kept working, waiting for the heat to truly sink into his bones. Finally he stopped, stretching the kinks out of his back and noticed that there was still a strange pale cast over the ground and while warmer, there was still a chilling pall in the air. Morgan turned to the rising sun, sliding his hat off of his head, staring directly into the orb above. The sun had turned black, almost like a solar eclipse, the edges ending in black flares that seemed to claw at the sky around it. Morgan stared into the orb for minutes, transfixed.

His reverie was finally broken when he heard a loud snap, like a wooden plank being shattered. He turned back towards the farmhouse, hefting the pick up as he slowly crept forward. He hadn't seen anybody up this way in weeks, living out so far from the nearest town, Sedition; which was a good 3 day ride. There were some stray farms up this way, and the cattle trail through Hicken's Gorge, but it would be a couple of weeks before that showed any activity. Morgan crept closer to the house, peering for any signs of intrusion, but he saw nothing. He stood at the door to his house, having made certain it was empty, and straightened his back, wondering if the solitude had begun to play tricks with his mind. Then he heard another shattering crack, from the direction of the garden. He stalked slowly closer, the splintering cracks coming faster. Morgan stood at the entrance to the small gated area, staring at the ground, watching the bluebells churn as if they were being uprooted. Finally a chilling scream sounded and a long white gloved hand thrust free of the earth, tapered blackened points for fingers clawing at the sky. He stared at the mess of flesh and bone and sinew, decayed and yellowed, and was assaulted by a sallow, foul stench. Despite the horror unfolding before him, Morgan's eyes were draw to just one thing, the glint of gold around one of those monstrous fingers. A golden glint that was his wife's wedding band.

End of Line.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Movie Review: Top 5 Films of 2009

Hey all!

For my last Year in Review post I wanted to review my Top 5 films of 2009. I try to see a lot of movies throughout the year, and typically I try to hit the major ones. I usually miss a few, including a lot of the Oscar bait. So my list is comprised of all the movies I personally saw last year, so it may not include movies that you watched or even all the films that I wanted to watch. Last year I did a Top 10 List but this year I reduced it to 5, mainly because I don't think this was the most fertile year of quality film making and that a top 5 really forces you to evalute what you watched. Still despite a weaker year of cinema, my Top 5 still has some really great films, including a few that are all time classics in my mind. So if you don't see your favorite movie remember that this is simply a list of my favorite movies of the year. Enjoy!

5- Zombieland

One of the most fun times I have had at a movie this year, I really enjoyed the fresh take that Zombieland offered, breathing some new life into a very overplayed zombie genre. Woody Harrelson re-establishes himself in films with his performance, bringing a manic kind of energy to the film. It finds such a perfect blend of horror and comedy, straddling a line that was established by Shaun o the Dead, but keeping the action sequences fun and exciting. I'd also like to point out it has one of the best and certainly one of the funniest cameos in film history. Just a purely fun movie and my second favorite comedy of the year, easily beating The Hangover.

4- Star Trek

I have never been much of a trekker, but J.J. Abrams reboot of the beleaguered franchise changed the face of Star Trek as a whole. It manages to ride a fine line between updating the classic series while still giving it ties to the old one, thus allowing hardcore Star Trek fans to keep the old stories in continuity while creating a whole new world for the series to explore. Abrams proves he knows how to do action on screen the right way, and bid maybe the best job of casting of the year, with Chris Pine as Kirk, Zachary Quinto as Spock, and an especially surprising performance from Karl Urban as McKoy. Add in Leonard Nimoy to lend some credence to the film, and you have one of the best films of the year. Let's hope for some Khan in the sequel.

3- Up

Pixar as an animation team really can do no wrong. Up was a wonderfully beautiful and poignant tale about a very lonely old man named Carl and a young Wilderness Scout named Russell who embark on a journey that changes both of their lives. Up surprised me in so many ways, the humor, the pity, the pathos, all were so deftly brought together in such a way that these characters are more human than most live action films. Pixar continues its winning ways with a film that touched me, I actually cried as the story of Carl was laid out. Up is a beautiful movie that raised the already high bar set by Wall-E.

2- Black Dynamite

This is without a doubt the most fun I have ever had at a movie. No film made me laugh harder, cheer more, or become such a quotable part of my daily vocabulary in such a short time. A modern day blaxpoitation film that is so good at skewering what it's making fun of, that it becomes the best example of it itself. Michael Jai White is hilarious as the title character and his surrounded by some of the best cameo performances ever. It's fun, funny, and an instant classic. A movie so bad, that it is brilliant. Black Dynamite is easily my favorite movie of the year, but I realize that it is a flavor that not everyone understands or appreciates. Still I loved this movie.

1- Watchmen

Black Dynamite was my favorite film yes, but Watchmen was the BEST film I saw last year. I thought it was such a wonderful adaptation of a book that truly means a lot to me. Watchmen the graphic novel was one of the first books that really opened up my eyes to the possibilities that comics could contain. Director Zach Synder's almost slavish adaptation was really great. I know a lot of people didn't really get Watchmen, but it really spoke to me. The casting was totally perfect and the attention to detail really brought out all of the qualities of the Watchmen series that made the series work. Jackie Earl Haley, Malin Ackerman, Jeffery Dean Morgan, Patrick Wilson and Billy Crudup all brought the characters to life for me. It's not the story itself, or the acting, or the directing, it was all of the features that came together to make the movie one of my all time favorite films. The simple fact is that I loved the Watchmen for its attention to detail and the obvious reverence the entire cast had to the work. Who watches the Watchmen? I do.

There you have it, my top 5 films of 2009. You may notice a few films missing from my list, like Up in the Air which I have not seen and thus couldn't review, or even Avatar, which I thought was great but not quite top 5 worthy. Also missing was Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, a good film but one that ultimately cast to much of the source material aside to make the list. I am also sure someone will see how high I put Black Dynamite and call me crazy. That's okay, this is my list. Let me know what you think, I'd love to hear some feedback on my choices and what kind of films you think I have omitted. Thanks for reading and I will see you at the movies this year!

End of Line.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Flash Fiction: Noir Story

Chapter 29

I desperately tried to draw the Beretta up in time, but the guy with the semi was to fast. I gritted my teeth, waiting for the spray of bullets to come. Just as he layed the barrel down, Mike popped up from behind the counter, his face a mask of blood, and fired his shotgun. The buckshot caught the guy full and he fell to the side, the automatic fire going wide. I bounded forward, firing the Beretta at another guy who was crawling towards his gun. With him down, I took count of Sixx's boys, making sure that we had all of them. Satisfied, I slipped and fresh clip in the Beretta and made my way towards Mike.

He was cut up pretty bad from the glass shards of the mirror, including a viciously deep one across his scalp. He had a bullet lodged in his shoulder and his leg. He slipped free his walkie talkie and radioed for backup. It was a cluster fuck, but if I wanted to get at Sixx, I needed to act fast. He told me he's cover me and motioned for me to check out Sixx's office. I nodded and made my way over to the door. My left arm burned and blood was falling freely down from my shoulder. I'd also had another round graze my scalp. This job certainly was earning me my hazard pay.

I kicked the door down and ducked back as the doorway erupted in a spray of automatic fire. The gun chattered as the doorway was peppered with bullets and I waited for the first empty click of the gun. At the sound I shoved myself around the corner, ignoring the pain in my shoulder, and thumbed the hammer back on the gun, feeling the pistol buck as each bullet roared free. I wasn't really aiming at anything in particular, but I knew the shooter had to be near the doorway based on the bullet fire. I dove into the room and kept firing, getting lucky as one of the rounds caught the shooter in the arm. I hit the ground and came up in a roll that sent a screech of protest up one side of my arm and down the other, but I muscled through and came up by the shooter. I lashed out with my gun hand, catching the shooter in the face with the butt of the pistol and I crashed it against his skull a few times for good measure. He dropped, clutching his face and I kicked the sub machine gun away and brought my gun back up.

Johnny Sixx sat at his desk, hands on the table. He wore an all black suit and his hair was slicked back. His desk was mostly free, though a loaded .45 sat beside a silver tray with several lines of coke drawn on it. I kept the gun aimed at him and he smiled, a kind of crocodile smile that someone gets when they think they still know all the angles. Time to change that perception. I fired the Beretta, catching him in the meat of his shoulder. He flew off the chair and hit the floor. Sweeping the platter of coke of the desk, I hopped up and fired to more rounds into each of his legs. Sixx tried to crawl, tears streaming down his face. I calmly plugged in my last clip and chambered in another round. I hopped down off the desk and placed the cold barrel of the gun against Sixx's balls. I made sure he heard the hammer being cocked, then I told him he was going to answer a few questions. The answers I learned, however, I wasn't gonna like.

End of Line.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Movie Review: Avatar

Hey all,

Finally got enough time off to go check out what is turning out to be one of the biggest blockbusters of all time, and may even be before to long, James Cameron' Avatar. Reportedly costing over 400 million dollars to make including the costs of developing the technology of the film making, including the 3D cameras and rendering technology as well as the marketing budget, it is one of the most expensive films ever made. Avatar also marks director James Cameron return to motion pictures for the first time since 1998 Titanic and he returns doing what he does better than most other directors today, filming an epic movie.

Avatar is about Jake Sulley (Terminator: Salvation's Sam Worthington), a former Marine who was crippled in the line of action who has agreed to take his deceased brothers place on the far off world of Pandora. His brother was to be part of their Avatar Initiative, a program that melds human DNA with that of the Pandora's indigenous people, the Na'vi's DNA to create a hybrid that humans can mentally inhabit and control. Upon arrival to the planet, Sulley learns that the Company, the business that is footing the cost of this operation, wants a mineral called unobtanium, which is worth billions back on Earth.

Sulley is introduced to the head of the Avatar program, Grace (Aliens Sigourney Weaver) and the head of security, Colonel Miles Quaritch (character actor Stephen Lang). Each has a separate mission for Sulley, infiltrating the Na'vi, Grace wants him to find a peaceful way to negotiate with the race as tensions between them and humanity is at an all time high, and Quaritch wants Sulley to get him information that he can use to destroy the Na'vi when war inevitably comes. Things change for Jake though when he is lost on the forests of Pandora after an attack and meets native Neytiri (Zoe Saldana, Uhura of Star Trek) and is welcomed into their society after much debate, though many signs point to Sulley's importance to the tribe. Sulley initially plays both sides against the middle, learning the culture and the rituals of a people so attuned to the planet as well as sending defense information to the Colonel. Eventually Sulley has to decide who's side he is on, as tensions flare between the cultures and the Company gets more impatient. Sulley has to figure out just where his loyalties lie, because in the end, either way, there is going to be a reckoning.

Let me be up front, Avatar is a very good film for a lot of reasons. First let's talk about the special effects. Avatar really pushes the envelope in terms of motion capture and visual effects work in creating a dynamic alien race. The Na'vi are very well done, expressive and fully imagined. I would have loved to see what kind of work they could have done rendering a more human body though. They DID do an excellent job in rendering each Na'vi avatar to carry many of the same facial features of the actors. Sigourney Weaver's Avatar really had her facial structure. My only complaint is that most of the other Na'vi did look a little cartoony. Not in a bad way so much, but as a race they all had such a similar body structure and style. I would have preferred some variety. Don't let this small caveat take anything away though, it's easily one of the best uses of 3D technology I have ever seen. The film isn't 3D for the sake of being 3D, they really try to immerse you into the world. The movie is filmed so that everything pops out of the screen, not so much in a way that distracts you and makes you say wow, it does it in a way that enhances what you are watching.

Cameron himself does a great job filming as well. Few directors in the business today can do action in the same vein that Cameron can. He makes the fight sequences, whether between the Na'vi and the humans, or the avatars and the indigenous animals of Pandora, wildly explosive and action packed. Even the sequences of flying through the mountains or forests on the backs of the Na'vi winged steeds are visually pretty incredible.

I also have to give Cameron some props for casting. Sam Worthington does a decent job playing the crippled Marine in his scenes, but his voice has a very nice quality in his avatar form. Just the right amount of hurt and anger to come across in his performance. Sigourney Weaver is great as Grace and its good to see her re-unite with Cameron. Stephen Lang as the Colonel may be the biggest surprise of the film. His portrayal of the Colonel is a tough as nails performance, really bringing an almost tactile quality to his callousness. Michelle Rodriguez also has a part as a tough chopper pilot, but with a soft heart. It's a role that she is perfect for, fierce and tough, but still willing to do what's right. Zoe Saldana also gives a real dimension to a role that is entirely computer generated from her motion capture performance. Soft and hard, loving and viral, she is easily the most fully fleshed out of the Na'vi and sets herself apart from the rest of teh natives.

If I was to make a complaint about the film it would be in the story. The movie is basically Dances With Wolves, a broken soldier takes a job at a far off outpost and falls in love with a prickly native while learning their ways and who ultimately has to battle his own culture to protect what he loves. Its the same movie. A Western set in space, of the primitive versus the advanced. The hooks of the story are pretty much set up throughout the film, you know exactly what is going to happen, how Sulley will react and each beat of the story certainly doesn't surprise. Even the ending. That doesn't change the fact that you can still enjoy the trip in how you get there. The world is very lush and lavish, and Cameron certainly can deliver on the visual journey in a way that you may never have seen before.

The bottom line for me is that I genuinely enjoyed Avatar. Visually it is a stunning piece of film making, the first real brush with creating CGI characters that can emote and be as realistic as humans since Gollem in the Lord of the Rings movies. I would be really excited to see what a few more years or special effects work and computer imagery upgrades could do in the potential Avatar sequel. I think this is a film worth seeing in the theatres, the first film to use 3D effects not as a crutch or marketing tool, but as a means to further the story. Up was a wonderful film that they made 3D, Avatar is a wonderful film IN 3D. Immersive I really think is the bet way to describe it. James Cameron has once again struck gold when everyone predicted failure, and while teh film certainly has some weak points structurally, there is plenty still going on here to make it a must see on your viewing lists. Avatar is a motion picture experience, not just a motion picture.

End of Line.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Poetry: Soft Cries

Hey all,

Been a few days since I posted, I have just been knee deep in stuff at work and a trying to deal with a slight video game addiction to Left For Dead 2. Still no excuse to be missing self imposed deadlines. I have some time off this week and I'll be aiming for a couple of blog dumps over the next 5 days or so.

Today I though I would start with a bit of a poem I have been working on the past 2 or 3 days. A good friend of mine recently went through a very hard breakup. In talking with her and the pain she was dealing with, I tried to take some of the emotions she was feeling and channel some of her words into a poem. It's very much an artistic interpretation of the conversation we had. Take it for what you will. Be back tomorrow with another post.

Soft Cries

It's such a hard shock,

To hear your soft cries.

It's the worst kind of love,

When your heart dies.

Looked through the window,

To your bruised soul.

The pain is etched on,

Its death's telling blow.

I heard your broken sobs,

Wiped the tears you've shed,

The hurts still so raw,

From where your heart's bled.

It feels like right now,

The pain won't ever end,

For all you've known,

Has been torn and rend.

You thought your love,

Had blossomed like a rose,

But it's wilted too fast,

The petals pulled close.

Say your farewells,

There are no more tomorrows,

Swept away in the flood,

Of heart sickened sorrows.

I wish I could say,

Some magic word or phrase,

To ease your suffering,

These next bitter days.

But there is no salve,

For a wound of the heart,

Just patience and time,

To patch up the frayed part.

So sadness may beckon,

And salty tears may still fall,

The days may seem to never end,

Yet I'd remain at your call.

Your friends are here,

To sooth the painful scar,

So when you feel most lost,

We won't be very far.

The worst is still to come,

But know that better days lay ahead.

Resolve your bruised heart,

Down this path you've been led.

So stay strong my dear,

Of this you can still cope,

You've a brave hard soul,

Never give up on hope.

End of Line.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

True Story Time!

Hey all,

It's been a crazy few days. My Step-Mom having a stroke, one Grandmother having a heart attack, and one Grandfather having a femoral embolism. Not a particularly good time to be related to me I guess. I feel bad that they are all living in Ohio, and I am out here in Arizona. I know my Dad and Mom, though separated, are still back that way taking care of things, but it doesn't change the fact that I wish I could help more.

Anyway, based on the events of the past day, I thought maybe it was time for another True Story. This one isn't about me though, it is about my other Grandfather, on my Dad's side. We of the McConnell family tend to have a very dark sense of humor. Very dark. One of the ways we show love and appreciation is through teasing, and there are very few jokes we find in ill taste. That being said, based on this story, I think you can trace back the lineage of this kind of humor to my Grandpa Mac.

About 4 or 5 years ago, my Grandpa was diagnosed with some pretty aggressive cancer. His wife, my Grandma, was also dealing with intense emphysema and diabetes problems that were making her very ill and frail. The prognosis on both was about 6 months to a year. My Dad packed up everything and moved back to his hometown ostensibly to take over the family business and to care for his parents. My Grandpa, being a very practical person, didn't want the burdens of arranging his funeral to be something that his children would have to worry about, so he took care of everything. He bought a plot for him and Grandma, arranged for mortuary services through the towns funeral home, got tombstones, everything. This way when the event did happen, no one would have to deal with it.

This is where the story takes a turn though. One day my Grandpa comes home with a picture under his arm. My Dad and my Step mom, as well as my Aunt, were all there. He proudly unveils the picture to them proclaiming that this is the picture he is putting on his tombstone. The picture though is of him holding his own tombstone with a big cheesy grin on his face! My Dad thinks its hysterical, that the picture on his grave will be a picture of him at his grave, though my Aunt and Step-mom are horrified at the prospect. He also joked to my Step mom that his plot was perfect, right on the corner of the drive path with a trashcan nearby, they wouldn't even have to get out of the car to pay respects, they could just drive through and honk. This also horrified my Step mom, but my Dad found it all the more funny for that reason. In fact, so did I. To hear my Dad tell this story, I literally had tears of laughter streaming out of my eyes. Only the men of my family would find gallows humor, their own gallows humor at that, this funny. We take a kind of perverse pride in the humor of other people's uncomfortableness.

Now the good news is that both of my Grandparents are still alive. My Dad's presence back home really motivated my Grandma to get more active and while she still struggles, her condition and mobility are improved. Grandpa faced chemo and beat it and he is currently fighting off another round of cancer, though he seems to be doing OK.

That isn't quite the end of the story though. A few years have passed since that story and Grandpa is still up to his old tricks. He lives in a very small town in Ohio, the kind where everybody knows everybody and there really isn't such a thing as a secret. He is friends with the undertaker in town, having known them nearly his whole life. He slipped the undertaker a bribe to tell the town gossips, of which his wife is friends with, that he had the biggest penis he had seen in his 40 years working in the business. This sis a story that would spread like wildfire and my Grandpa loves a prank and this may be the ultimate one. My Dad and him are laughing so hard that his business partner comes out and is worried about them. They tell this story, along with plans to record my Grandpa's voice so that each time someone comes up to the funeral viewing, there is a programmed phrase or joke that he tells from beyond the grave.

This caused such a stink that the business partner called my Grandma and my Aunt, relating this story and ultimately the made them swear not to do it, calling it sick and perverted. Somehow though, the three of us saw it as a perfectly reasonable plan of action for a funeral. I still hope he does it anyway though, at least with the bribe. Oh and he also re-took his picture for his tombstone, as that last one just wasn't right. This time, he's standing next to his headstone at his own plot with a shovel in his hand, that same cheesy grin on his face.

It sort of puts the day into perspective reminiscing about this story. That even in tragedy and hard times, there can still be humor and warmth. Hopefully all of my relatives will be able to get through these trails and find health and happiness. At any rate I hope that I have the same sense of humor when my times comes. Until then, I shall try to keep the smile on my families face, or at least in their hearts. Thanks for listening to me today.

End of Line.

Friday, January 15, 2010

FlashFiction: Addendum

Hey all,

As promised I have started my next serialized flash fiction tale, a sequel of sorts to the first longer form story arc I ever wrote, Under a Dead Sun. This volume, entitled Past Sins, will be dealing with a whole new cast of characters, but there may be an Easter Egg or two for observant readers. You don't need to have read the previous story at all to enjoy this one, it is a completely stand alone tale. What you do need to know is that Under a Dead Sun is basically a Zombie Western. Cowboys versus zombies, doesn't get much simpler.

The last time I told a Dead Sun tale I told it in a disjointed order, meaning each chapter could be read in any order, but once you read the whole tale, you could put together your own time line, connecting the dots if you will. I think this time I am going to take a bit more of a traditional storytelling approach, telling the tale more or less chronologically. I have the over reaching arc of the story plotted out, exactly how many chapters is still in question, though I imagine around 40 like the last one. The first 3 or 4 chapters will introduce you to the cast, more of a slow fade in to the meat of the story. I'd say by the third installment you will have met the principal players, and where it goes from there should be a lot of fun. Any feedback you have will be much appreciated.

Ideally new Dead Sun tales will come out on Tuesdays for the foreseeable future, with the next two Sundays more or less finishing off Noir Story. I put this one up a bit early as I have been rather neglect in posting this past week. Enjoy reading.

End of Line.

Flash Fiction: Under a Dead Sun: Past Sins

Chapter 1-

Cody Jarrett spurred his horse faster, watching the flecks of spittle and lather flake from the tiring horse. Still he dug his spurs deep into the beats flank, a wild gleam in his eye as he crested the top of the valley. He spared a glance over his shoulder, seeing his partners the Johnson Brothers urging their horses just as insistently. Beau Johnson was tall and lean with long scraggly hair and a face that had a perpetual 5 o'clock shadow. His younger brother Buford was short and stocky, with thinning blind hair that he always kept under his hat. Buford was slumped over his horse, one hand clinging to the reins, the other clutching the belly wound he had received back in Sedition.

Jarrett spied father back, seeing the trailing dust clouds of the posse on their heels getting closer and grimaced. He'd be damned if they caught him now. He turned his gaze down the valley floor, and saw the river stretched out in the distance, maybe another 5 miles. He spiked his spurs again and held on as the horse careened down the winding slope, shouting for the brothers to hurry along.

Cody had two saddle bags full of stolen money taken from the Wells Fargo bank in Sedition. He had been planning the robbery for weeks and it had went off perfectly, until the damned deputy had gone for his gun. Jarret was deadly with his guns, matching Colt Peacemakers, ebony pearl handles with his initials carved in them, each slung crosswise on his belt. Jarrett had shot the deputy, then both the tellers and the bank manager. It wasn't the killin' he minded, no. Killing men was something that Cody Jarrett was good at. It was something he liked doing. What he didn't like, was whiny sons of bitches slowing him down.

The trio beat through the thin sagebrush, aiming for the raft that was spun across the surging river by a large rope suspended on either side. Make the raft and on the other side lay fresh horses, and a few days farther down the river, a boat to take them to the town of Desperation. Just a few more days and Cody Jarrett, the most wanted man in the county, would be home free. What he didn't know though, is that being a wanted man would take on a whole new meaning.

End of Line.

Saturday, January 09, 2010

Movie Review: 2010 Preview

Hey all,

Welcome to my 2010 movie preview. Here I am going to highlight the top 10 films that I am most looking forward too in 2010. This is going to be a huge year, especially in terms of re-makes of several classically loved films and TV shows. It is also a big year for sequels, so many of them made my list. It was hard picking out just 10 films, but I like to give a little bit of variety, so it won't all just be all tent pole summer blockbusters, I will try to shed some light on a few picks that may not be in most peoples top 10. Once again I stress that this is my top 10, and not necessarily the films that are going to be the best or most popular.

10- The Rum Diary

My off the wall pick, this film stars Johnny Depp in the adaptation of the classic novel by famed gonzo journalist Hunter S. Thompson. Depp has experience adapting Thompson's material before, doing it so wonderfully in Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. this time he has teamed with screenwriter and director Bruce Robinson, who hasn't made a film since 1992 wonderfully weird and creepy thriller Jennifer 8. I am excited to see what the two can cook up together, especially with a stellar supporting cast like Aaron Eckhart, Amber Heard and Richard Jenkins. Sorry, I couldn't find a teaser poster so I put up an image of Thompson's novel.

9- The Wolfman

Another re-boot of a long dormant franchise, Universal looks to resurrect their horror line with a stellar cast and modern effects. Benicio del Toro, Anthony Hopkins, Emily Blunt and Hugo Weaving are led by director Joe Johnson (Hildago and the upcoming Captain America film) who looks to re-charge the horror franchise while sticking to its Victorian roots. Previews of the film look promising and if the film is successful, look to Universal to bring out some of their other great classic monsters from the vault.

8- The A Team

My pick as my most anticipated re-make of 2010, there are many positives signs about this film. Director John Singleton is a really under-rated commodity and can do gritty urban action and keep it credible like few others. the casting choices have been very promising as well, Liam Neeson as Hannibal, MMA fighter uinton "Rampage" Jackson as BA Baracus, Sharto Copley (of District 9) as Murdock, and Bradley Cooper (the Hangover) as Face. Its supported by a great cast including Jessica Beil, Patrick Wilson, and cameos from some of the original A Team. Here's to hoping they find that right mix of humor and action and keep the vein of the original alive, just updating it for the modern audience.

7- Toy Story 3

This picture doubles as my all ages and comedy choice for 2010. Pixar has never made a bad film and I do not expect anything less than perfection with their flagship franchise. While I do not know that they can mine the same emotional depth and character development that they have done with their last 2 offerings, WALL-E and Up, I do expect this to be the best animated mobie of the year, and maybe even the best comedy of the year.

6- The Expendables

It's the greatest 1980's action movie never made. Sylvester Stallone, Dolph Lundgren, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Bruce Willis, Jet Li and Jason Statham all team up in what I am sure will be the most testosterone ridden bloodbath ever caught on film. This is the type of movie my Dad would always bring home when he went to the video store and I can't wait to see the awesome spectacle of action and shoot'em up excitement that is bound to be in this film. I mean sure, the potential for this to be a hugely terrible film is huge, but damn, so is the reward.

5- Alice in Wonderland

Visionary director Tim Burton teams up with Johnny Depp (who makes his second appearance on the list) in this version of the Lewis Carrol classic. Burton is one of my favorite directors working today and he always brings his unique take on everything he works on. Teaming up with Depp for their 7th collaboration (as well as Helena Bonham Carter's 6th collaboration), Burton is sure to bring something fresh to the screen. Besides, some of the most imaginative films of the past few years have been adaptations of children's novels, like Where the Wild Things Are, The Fantastic Mr. Fox and Burton own Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. I hope to find more of the same here.

4- Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (Part 1)

The franchise draws to its penultimate chapter (at least film wise) as Harry must unravel the secrets of Voldemort's strength and power before confronting him in the final battle. Director David Yates has helmed the last two Potter films to huge critical and financial success, and I don't expect any less this time. While I wasn't happy with the screen play of the last Potter film, I expect them to be back on track this go around. Despite cutting the final novel into two films, I remain hopeful that with the additional time, they will be able to flesh out the story more, as I felt the last film was a bit rushed. One more turn for Harry, Ron and Hermione before the final showdown.

3- Inception

Little is known about director Christopher Nolan's next film. Starring Leonardo DiCaprio as an architect embroiled in a blackmail plot, the real twist develops as technology designed to allow someone to enter your dreams and extract information. Dicaprio enters the dream state and becomes embroiled in a fight for his life. Nolan is easily one of my favorite directors working today and he has a pretty good track record in recent years, with films like The Dark Knight, The Prestige, and Memento over the past decade. Anytime he steps behind the camera, the potential for greatness is there.

2- Iron Man 2

Jon Favreau hit big with one of the best big screen comic book adaptations to date and he looks to continue his run with the sequel this year. With an all star cast including Robert Downey Jr as Iron Man, and filled out by Gwyneth Paltrow, Don Cheadle, Mickey Rourke, and Scarlett Johanssen this film promises to bring all the action and excitement of the first, plus the introduction of new characters like the Black Widow, Whiplash, and War Machine. Plus it is sure to segue way into 2011's big screen versions of Thor and Captain America. It is easily the most anticipated movie of the year.

1- Tron 2: Legacy

While Iron Man may be the worlds most anticipated film, it's my list and after almost 30 years, they are sequeling one of my all time favorite films, Tron. Most of the details of the film are pretty sketchy still with its late 2010 Holiday release date, but the film that founded computer generated graphics looks to build on the world it created first. They have brought back Jeff Bridges and Bruce Boxleitner, along with Oliva Wilde and newcomer Michael Sheen to team up with first time director Joseph Kosinski to re-imagine the computer generated world of video games. Tron was a huge film of my childhood, and in recent years has started really developing a cult following. I'm hoping that Disney can find the same magic that made the first one so fun, but combine it with today's computer graphics. So much of this could be bad, but the fact that they got Jeff Bridges back bodes well for me, he usually doesn't make bad choices.

There is my preview of my top 10 films of 2010. A lot of potentially good films did not make the cut, films like Russell Crowe's Robin Hood, Seth Rogan's Green Hornet or the huge amount of re-makes that Hollywood is churning out this year. You can expect re-makes of Red Dawn, Red Sonja, The Karate Kid, and Highlander. A couple of films, like The Imaginarium of Dr. Parnassus, Jonah Hex, and the re-boot of the Predator franchise also look promising. this list doesn't even count the great films that haven't gotten noticed yet, I am sure this year will have sleeper hits like Zombieland or The Hangover. 2010 looks to be a huge year for movies, hopefully there are a few in there that sound good to you!

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Friday, January 08, 2010

Word Balloon: Fables

Hey all,

Fir the new year I thought I would post what is easily my favorite comic book being published right now, Bill Willingham's Fables, published by DC Comics Vertigo imprint. Vertigo Comics specialize in creating books outside of the regular spectrum of comics, namely no capes or cowls. Typically Vertigo books are mature reads and encompass wildly different topics. Fables is certainly no exception to that rule, but it IS one of the cornerstone books of the imprint.

Fables started publication in 2002 and it is about the various characters of fairy tales and folklore, who refer to themselves as Fables, that have fled from their native home worlds to ours. All the characters we associate from these fairy tales, Cinderella, Snow White, Beauty and the Beast, have all retreated to our world as their native lands have been invaded by a creature known only as the Adversary and his hordes. The Fables have set up a small community deep in the heart of New York City, along a few magically en-spelled streets, and are content to live in anonymity. The also have a large en-spelled community in Upstate New York called the Farm for the large variety of Fables that cannot blend in to society, like the various monsters and anthropomorphic animals that fled the Adversary (for example Puss in Boots or the Three Little Pigs.)

This could easily be a book that sounds cutesy or trite, but author Bill Willingham has really put a unique spin on each character. Prince Charming for example, is the same Prince Charming from ALL the fairy tales, his philandering has cost him three marriages, first with Snow White, then Cinderella, and finally Sleeping Beauty. Snow White is here divorced and jaded, working as the Deputy Mayor to Old King Cole and overseeing the operations of the Fabletown community. She is assisted by the reformed Big Bad Wolf, calling himself Bigby and who can turn himself human now, as the town Sheriff.

The first trade paperback, Legend in Exile, deals with a murder mystery that pits Snow White and the often maligned and mistrusted Bigby together to solve the apparent murder of Snow White's hard partying sister, Rose Red. The arc is an excellent way to introduce us to the huge cast that Willingham has at his disposal, specifically targeting an introduction to the more important Fables. Here we meet Little Boy Blue, once a soldier against the Adversary, now sad and missing his lost love. We also meet Flycatcher, the Frog Prince, now the Fabletown office janitor, who mourns the loss of his family. Jack of the Fables, also known as Jack the Giantkiller, Jack of the Beanstalk, Jack Frost, Jack and the candlestick, here a bit of a scam artist who always has a get rich quick scheme and is usually the source for most of Fabletowns mischief. You also meet Cinderella, King Cole, Beauty and the Beast, and a little farther down the line, meet the important characters from the Farm, including most of Rudyard Kipling's The Jungle Book characters and many other.

Fables is a deep and complex tale encompassing everything from murder mysteries to conspiracy capers. What really impresses me is that over 90 issues into the series, Willingham has still managed to keep it fresh and entertaining. The characters are constantly changing and evolving, never staying stagnate. With such a huge cast to chose from, everyone can get a moment in the sun. Early in the series he sticks to the core characters, Bigby, Snow White, Jack, but over the run of the book everyone has a spell. The first 5 issues introduce us to the characters, but each book builds into the next, fleshing out the Fables universe and building towards the inevitable confrontation and unmasking of the Adversary. The final battle actually builds up for nearly 75 issues, and it was at this point i feared the book would lose its way. Instead Willingham introduces new characters and fleshes out old ones in such a manner as to keep the book exciting. In fact, I look forward to this book more than any other each week. Part of me wishes he would actually get back to some of my favorite characters, like Snow and Bigby, but he makes the new ones so enthralling that you really don't mind.

Fables has been mostly drawn by mark Buckingham, a veteran penciler who brings a unique take to the world, though Willingham has used a variety of artists depending on the story to be told. The cover artist for the series was James Jean, a personal favorite through over 80 issues of the run, though he has been replaced by João Ruas who has brought a similar, yet uniquely different flavor to the covers. All in all, the art works hand in hand with the story no matter who is penciling, and they really help accentuate the story. They may not be the flashiest artists working in comics, but they are so perfect for the book that its hard to imagine anyone using the more super hero style of penciling on this book.

I think the things that draws me to this book is the way that Willingham has united the world. Building new relationships with stories everyone knows by heart and changing how we perceive them, or better yet changing how the character perceives themselves. The genius of Prince Charming being the same for every story, or of taking characters like Pinocchio who has to deal with the consequences of being stuck as a boy. Or the Big Bad Wolf, untrusted despite being pardoned, dealing with the prejudices of his former dealings with Red Riding Hood and the Three Little Pigs. He has even worked Fables into different mediums, most recently writing a wonderful prose novel about Peter Piper, who happens to be the same Peter as the one from the stories Peter and the Wolf, the Pied Piper, and the Peter from the nursery rhymes. Its wonderfully complex and layered, and has a great re-read value. He also wrote several stand alone graphic novels and one shots, like the Last Castle, detailing Little Boy Blue's last days in his homeworld and the fate of Little Red Riding Hood. As well as 1,001 Nights of Snowfall, detailing Snow Whites time dealing with the Persian Fables (like Sinbad) who must tell their king stories to prevent her own execution, as a take on the famous Persian fable 1001 Arabian Nights. In this original graphic novel, he uses a wide variety of artists, including cover artist James Jean's first interior work and one of my all time favorite artists Tara McPherson's tale of Rose Red and Snow White's rescue of the Witch of the Forest, from tales like Hansel and Gretel. It also may be one of my favorite books of all time.

You may ask me why it took nearly two years of doing this column for me to post Fables. Part of it was not wanting to overload you on Vertigo books, of which I have highlighted quite a few. The other was that last year there was an announcement that Fables had been optioned for television development and I put off recommending it to perhaps one day coincide the column with the show. As I thought about the book for this month though I realized that I should not wait anymore to highlight this series. Bill Willingham is writing what I believe to be the BEST COMIC BOOK ONGOING SERIES of the last decade, and I don't think its hyperbole. Fables is the kind of comic you can give to all comic fans to find something, it's usually one of the first two gateway books that I also give to new and potential readers. It elevates the medium in a way that very few books do. Please, if you are looking for a new comic book series, or just an awesome read, check out Fables by Bill Willingham from DC/Vertigo. Start at the beginning with Fables: Volume 1- Legends in Exile, and I guarantee by volume 2- Animal Farm, you will be hooked.

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Thursday, January 07, 2010

Movie Review: Top 5 Worst Films of 2009

Hey all,

In what has become a typical feature in the month of January, I am going to run down the 5 worst films I have seen this year. I may or may not have actually reviewed them at their release, sometimes I know a movie is bad and don't watch it until it hits DVD or On Demand. Remember this is not an all encompassing list, I certainly cannot afford to see every movie released, and I may make an oversight and leave off a film. So the bottom line I guess is that these are the 5 worst films I personally saw in 2009.

5- Transformers 2: Revenge of the Fallen

I watched this on Blue Ray and a friends house and truthfully expected the worst thing ever based on the reviews of people who had loved the first film and hated this one. As one of the few people who utterly hated the first film, I was not thrilled about watching it. It honestly was about as bad as the first one, which was my worst film of 2007. The rapping robots, the over extended special effects, and lack of story were horrible, though not to the level of drudgery that I expected. In the end though, I still hated the film and have no desire to ever see it again.

4- Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun Li

Another film caught at a friends house (a theme you will see several times though out this list) and Street Fighter may be one of the most vapid and witless films ever made. It was horrible in execution and took what is a very simple story concept and alienated the entire built in fan base for the film by changing the mythology of Street Fighter. The casting was terrible, poor Kristen Kreuk and Michael Clark Duncan, you can actually cringe watching them in this. It's hard enough to make a passable video game film, this is one that actually makes the Jean Claude Van Damme version better by comparison.

3- Dragonball: Evolution

Like Street Fighter, Dragonball cashes in on its built in fan base and proceeds to butcher it. Both film had better casts than they should have had and an audience that WANTED to see this movie. The lead character of Goku was mis-cast severely as a young white guy, and James Marsters as the villainous Piccalo seemed to be cast solely based on the fact that he had done similar makeup work in Buffy. Don't even get me started on Chow-Yun Fat as Master Roshi. This movie was just as bad as Street Fighter, its just that I hated it a sliver more.

2- Funny People

Judd Apatow has been involved in some of my favorite comedies of the past few years, either as a producer, writer, or director. Talledega Nights, Anchorman, Walk Hard, The 40 Year Old Virgin, all very funny films. Here he manages to make the normally lovable Adam Sandler and make him an unlikeable and miserable. The film is just long and uncomfortable and lacks what the films title promises, Funny people. These people are not funny, they are just sad and cruel, and certainly not what I wanted going into this movie.

1- Miss March

Once again, at a friends house. The same friend that I also watched most of these films with. He is a huge Whitest Kids U'Know fan, which is the television show the lead actors from this film come from. Me, not so much. Miss March did not do anything to change my perception of the show. Mindless, tasteless, and unimaginative is the best way I can describe this film. Actually pedantic is better. I have not watched a more uninspired film in a long time and I really hated it. Zach Cregger
Trevor Moore wrote, starred, and directed this stinker so at least I know who to blame. Miss March is a singularly punishing experience.

There you have it. The Five Worst Films I have watched this year. I am sure there may have been a few more that were more deserving. I never did watch Year One and observe and Report was dangerously close to making my list. Leave a comment and let me know what your worst flick of the tear was, I'd be happy to see what you all have to say.

Next week I should have my 2010 Preview up, and before the end of the month I'll do my best of list. I still haven't seen Avatar and I don''t think I can make a really complete list before I have a chance to review that one. Thanks for reading!

End of Line.

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Poetry: Reflections

Hey all,

Decided to take a crack at writing some new poetry, specifically about facing a new year. I think I wrote something along these lines around this time last year, facing the fears of your future and the regrets of your choices. Here I also tried to look at the uncertainty of the new year and the reflections on the choices you make. Hopefully you find a small piece that resonates, there are some bits of the poems that I think came across really nicely. Anyway, enjoy the poem and above all, thank you for taking the time to read these posts.


Reflections on the path I've led,

Lead me to no greater thoughts,

All the year I tried to change,

Yet only has it left me wrought.

I face a brand new year,

For what is old has turned away,

Unsure of what the future brings,

Knowing that it won't delay.

I pray to be a better man,

To rise above all I've failed.

But still the doubts pluck at me,

At all the faults that cry unveiled.

Damn this future, so full of fog,

Shading that which I can't see.

Each choice I make, the good the bad,

Become the binds at which I cleave.

Always regrets that plague my life,

Of all the moments lost,

Yet scarier now is the unknown,

And the price to learn the cost.

Unfolded lays the year ahead,

So many different roads,

Each one a choice I must make,

Crumbling as my soul corrodes.

This doubt that fills my veins,

And clinging ill regret,

Corrupts the bright days before,

Never letting me forget.

Wishing so to wash away,

All the failing thought,

To hold myself against the storm,

And face the battle to be fought.

Behind me lays a path grown cold,

A darkened road without retreat.

Before runs a new lit path,

Whose end alone I can complete.

A year has birthed and severed cord,

The trailing days now dying fast,

Into this strange new world I step,

And hope it won't be like the last.

End of Line.

Monday, January 04, 2010

Movie Review: The Princess and the Frog

Hey all,

I took my niece to see Disney's The Princess and the Frog as part of her Christmas present last week and I have finally gotten the opportunity and time to put my thoughts on the movie down as it were. The Princess and the Frog marks Disney's return to its roots in traditional 2D animation and the film really hearkens back to Disney's early 90's run of classically animated pictures. Almost to a fault to be honest.

The Princess and the Frog is a retelling of the classic fairy tale of a Prince who had been turned into a frog by an evil witch, until a kiss from a Princess can reverse the spell. In this take, the film is set in Louisiana during the 1920's and really tries to add that Creole flavor to the picture. It stars Tiana (Anika Noni Rose)as a hard working, no time for nonsense girl whose dream it is to open her own restaurant. She meets lazy Prince Naveen (voiced by Bruno Campos), a visiting noble in search of a rich bride to refill his sagging coffers as his playboy lifestyle has gotten him cut off. Naveen, mistakenly assuming Tiana is a Princess at a costume ball, convinces Tiana to kiss him to reverse the spell.

What the old fairy tale adage doesn't say is that if a Frog prince kisses someone who is not a Pricess, they become a Frog too. The duo must then journey across the Louisiana bayou to meet elderly voodoo queen Mama Odie with the help of some colorful friends, Ray a slightly crazy firefly, and Louis, a jazz loving alligator. Attempting to prevent them from reversing the spell that was worked on Naveen is Dr. Facilier, or the Shadowman, voiced wonderfully by Keith David, an evil Witch Doctor who wants his man to marry Naveen's real rich princess, Tiana's friend Charlotte, the Princess of the festival.

This is Disney's first 2D musical film since 1998's Mulan. You can really see the growth and explosiveness of traditional animation at the time, as well as the hand of new Disney CEO John Lassiter of Pixar fame, who really lets the animation team try some new techniques. The animation is of course top notch. They really experiment with color and light techniques that I have never seen before, evening changing animation styles during some of the musical set pieces. Disney does a wonderful job as well of making characters look like their race. So much is made of this being Disney's first attempt at having an African American leading character in an animated movie, and they really differentiate the characters, not letting them fall into a stereotype. The capture the beauty and exoticism of each character. the animation is really a breath of fresh air, especially considering that man y kids these days may not have even SEEN a 2D movie.

The music is by Randy Newman, a staple of Pixar's Toy Story movies, and here he really brings a variety of flavors to the song choices. From the traditional ballads you have come to expect from these types of movies, to the deep jazz influence that permeates other songs, it has a very unique vocal signature when compared to other films in Disney' past. While arguably not as catchy as some of Disney's greatest hits, the changing animation styles really help carry the songs. Randy Newman has a very particular song style, and that does not always necessarily translate when other people sing his songs. Still they are not bad songs, just not as catchy as works from The Lion King or the Little Mermaid.

Still the movie does fall victim to a few foibles of its own. The movie has a heavy social consciousness in its undertone. Pushing the wholesome themes of hard work and perseverance almost to the point of overload. Naveen sings of having dated multiple women and is almost unsympathetic in his unwillingness to avoid work. there are even times when Tiana comes across and humorless and taciturn as well. In the end it's merely a veil to help show each characters growth at the end of the film, but it comes across as a bit forced early on. There is also some quirky stereotyping in Ray, the firefly, which draws on the backwoods hillbilly idea that many people still carry about the deep south. For the most part I don't think children will pick up on these things, but as they grow older, or as you watch it, there are some undercurrents there. Once again, you could also view this as a slight maturation on Disney's part, a willingness to try to bring some edge to what is usually a very vanilla medium, though i tend to think that most of it is very unintentional.

My biggest complaint about the film is that outside of the animation, its nearly the same film that Disney has churned out before. As the poster child for the rebirth of traditional animation, it tries so hard to be the Disney films of old, that it has bypassed the things that have made so many modern animated movies do so well, appeal to children of all ages. Movies like Shrek, Madagascar, and especially the Pixar films, really try to put some things in the movies for adults to enjoy, and I felt that this was an area they did not focus on. Part of the rewatchabilty and even the box office success, is that older audiences want to see what these animated features have to offer, because they have done such a wonderful job of appealing to all ages, and not in the sense of the word being strictly kid friendly. Just because a film is rated G, doesn't mean it can't resonate with outside of that range.

The bottom line is this. If you are a fan of the Disney films of eh 90's, this is a perfect addition to the library. It does not break any new ground or change the mold of 2D movies, it does offer a nice opening entry for the resurgence of traditional animation, of which I would like to see more. The animation itself IS the highlight of the film, its beautiful and inspiring in ways that haven't been seen in years. The downside is that the script and songs are merely okay, highlighted solely by David Keith's menacing Shadowman. There have been far better animated films this year, particularly the wonderful Up and the equally stunning Coraline, but this does bode a nice start to a return to an animation style that I have sorely missed.

End of Line.

Sunday, January 03, 2010

Flash Fiction: Noir Story

Chapter 28

The Crooked Cue was set up much like any pool hall, a bunch of tables set around a long bar that had seen better days back when days WERE better. There was an almost palpable layer of smoke covering everything, a sort of grey-green cloud that hung in the air threatening to stifle even the paint itself. It smelled of stale cigarettes, sweat, cheap beer, and desperation. Mike and I walked in, shotguns primed. It wasn't as empty as I had hoped it would be, though it wasn't as full either. There were 8 guys loitering around a single table, all of the Sixx's men. You could tell by the bandanna tucked in their back pocket, green and faded. They ranged from Mexican to white, even one black guy, but all of them had the look of hard men. The black guy went for his gun first but I fired, the shotgun bucking hard in my hand. The spray caught him full in the chest, lifting him off of his feet and flinging him against the next pool table.

I turned to the other seven and asked one question. Where was Johnny Sixx. One of the Hispanics stood straight up and held his arms out to the side. He had on a matching faded green do rag and he peeled off a smile that showed his yellow teeth. He said something not nice in Spanish so I shot him too. The other six dived into action, pulling guns and ducking under tables. Mike managed to catch two before they got to cover and I caught another in the leg as he dived under the next table. Mike vaulted right, heading for the bar. I ducked left, upending one of the regular serving tables in front of me. I thumbed in a few more shells and felt a hot splinter of wood cut across my cheek a bullet exploded through the thin Formica table beside me. That's one ef those bullshit things they don't tell you in movies. Couches and tables make for some shitty fucking cover.

I rolled left again staying low, keeping my eyesight in line with the floor. I saw one of Sixx's boys laying underneath a table. He was turned to the sid eof me, peppering Mike's location with bullets from his .45. I fired once, pumped, and fired again, spraying the area with buckshot. He let out a gurgled scream before falling silent. I kept rolling as I fired, hearing the pop of more bullets firing at where I use to be. I rolled up to another pool table and vaulted over it to the other side as suddenly a new sound entered the fight, the chattering of an semi-automatic.

I heard Mike let out a grunt and I risked a glance, seeing another Mexican spraying the bar with gunfire. I took a bead, but ducked back as the other two peppered my location, bullets flying from their automatics. I needed to do something quick, I could hear the semi-auto lighting into the glass mirror behind the bar over Mike. I counted the bullets fired, waiting until I heard teh first one click empty and reload. I popped up and let loose, pumping shells into the chamber as fast as my arm could work. I felt something hot and wet run across my scalp and felt another arm shattering thud rocket through my arm. The wild spray caught both guys, one trying to dislodge a jammed shell from his gun, the second firing rapidly at me. I watched them both fly backwards, almost in slow motion as the shotgun fell from my hands. It wasn't empty, but my left arm didn't seem to want to work anymore. I pulled my Berreta free with my right and started to take aim, when the guy turned the semi-automatic towards me.

End of Line.

Saturday, January 02, 2010

Assorted Nuts

Happy New Year All!

Sorry about the gap in posting the last few days, its another one of those times at work. The holidays are always especially busy for us, with the Christmas rush piling up the days before and all the customers making returns the days afterword. The New Years hits, which isn't much of a holiday anymore when you have to report to work at 3 or 4 in the morning to do counts and inventory. Plus I changed my schedule up this month to put me on several Sundays to address some operational concerns I have been having with the store. Not really looking forward to that, but what are you gonna do?

Another bit that has come along is the fact that I have picked up a bit of a second job. It's not much really, just a couple of hours every Saturday night working for my local comic book store. I work from 4pm until 9pm only, mostly there to help out talking to customers, making occasional phone calls, though I may pick up some register work if I am lucky and I am there long enough. I usually do volunteer work for them a few times a year, whether helping with moves or on Free Comic Book Day, I have a pretty good relationship with the guys there. They asked me if I would be willing to help out on this one shift a week since and I readily agreed. Honestly, its pretty fun. I Get to talk comic books to people and I really like the staff down there. Besides its basically keeping me in free comics and that is something you will never hear me argue about. I get to keep doing it until they decide they don't need me anymore. Hopefully, I can go a little while and stockpile up.

Overall I was pretty happy with the blog output last month, I got 3 chapters of Noir Story posted, plus a Christmas piece done. I only missed one chapter posting but I at least made up for it with a good selection of poetry. Plus all of my columns, a first in the last few months. This month will see both regular installments of the Word Balloon and The Rewind, plus my Year in Review Posts, looking at the Top 5 and Bottom 5 films of 2009. I will preview the new year with my Top 10 films in 2010 as well. January should see Noir Story draw to a close, as well as kick start a move to Flash Fiction on every Wednesday with my long belabored new serial, my sequel to Under a Dead Sun. I am really excited for this story as I have been hatching out the first few chapters the past month in my notebooks, as well as formulating the overall story over the past three months. I don't have all the kinks worked out yet, most specifically a good enough climax to top the train battle from the last one, but I do have several ideas that I didn't use in the first story that will see light here. I also have 3 different characters that I am pretty excited to start writing. I just hope I can match the level of fun I had before. Look for new Dead Sun to start in about 2 weeks.

You will also have a few poems if I am lucky, and a review of Avatar and the Princess and the Frog this week sometime. Thanks for sticking with me through 2009, I promise to try to do better in 2010. Thanks.

End of Line.