Blog Summary

A blog for poetry, prose, and pop culture.

Saturday, January 31, 2009

Movie Review: Best of 2008!

Hey all!

Before the end of the month I wanted to run down my top 10 films of 2008. Now remember this only covers films that I watched this year and not films that I missed out on that could have made the list, as is the Curious Case of Benjamin Button. Now normally I count DVD releases on my top 10 (as was the case with 2007's Shoot'em Up) but this year none made my list. I don't get the chance to watch everything in the theatre, and while normally I do not do a review of something that has hit DVD, I still count them hear. I may or may not add DVD reviews to the blog in the future if it is early enough in the release window of the DVD and if I haven't already reviewed it theatrically. We will have to see.

Now this list mostly reflects genre films and may not necessarily reflect what the Academy Awards or professional critics pick. Doubt (the new movie with Meryl Streep and Phillip Seymour Hoffman) may be a great movie, it just doesn't interest the average film goer, nor myself. These are the top 10 films for the populous, and if an award winning film makes the list, then it does. These are the movies that made me love going to the theatre.

Onto the reviews!

10- Zack and Miri Make a Porno

It was wonderful to see perennial fan favorite writer/director Kevin Smith break from the mold a bit. This film is the first step into creating pictures that don't rely on the same formula. One part Judd Apatow, one part nerd fanboy, Kevin, along with Seth Rogan and Elizabeth Banks, make a really funny gross out comedy that really does have a heart of gold.

9- Get Smart

Here is a film that I was surprised to find on the list. Going into this I had really low expectations but Steve Carrell and Anne Hathaway really delivers on a clever blend of action and comedy. It didn't try to recreate the old Get Smart, it just attempted to modernize it. It was fun and funny and I really came to find that Anne Hathaway is pretty hot! It was good to see Steve Carrell back in a vehicle that really allowed him to play on his strengths, and Hathaway showed a comedic range and sexiness that I previously hadn't noticed.

8- The Incredible Hulk

This was the Hulk movie that fans of the character had been clamoring for. you don't need fancy poetic imagery or to delve deep into the flaws of this character. You only need two words. HULK SMASH! Ed Norton, who helped develop the film along with director Joe Letrierri, really boiled the character down to a nice blend of the modern with a healthy dash of the 1970's TV show. Bruce Banner, a man tormented by his abilities and in love with a woman he endangers by being around, is on the run from the US military. What we as a movie goer want to see is the Hulk smashing building and effects heavy fighting. Through in the angst and internal torment that Norton brings and you have the ingredients for a successful remake.

7- Hellboy 2: The Golden Army

Director Guillermo Del Toro make my top 10 for the second year in a row with his smash followup to the original Hellboy. Returning actors Ron Perlman and Selma Blair were great in the first film and are even better in the second. Perlman may be the best actor ever to work in prosthetics. He had really convey emotion and feeling through all of the latex and Del Toro is a visionary genius in giving life to creator Mike Mignola's world. The character designs and effects are great, made even more so by the amount of practical effect work they did instead of CGI.

6- Appaloosa

A great old style western directed by Ed Harris, starring himself and Viggo Mortenson as two lawmen for hire brought to a small town to bring order to it. Along the way the formerly cold Harris falls in love with piano teacher Renee Zellweger, who has her own agenda. Its a wonderful pot boiler of a film, bringing each element to its own before hitting the watcher. Even the climatic gun fight, which is slowly drawn out, explodes in a flash before ending. It was a film reminiscent of the great westerns of the 1940's and 50's, like High Noon or The Searchers. It isn't about gunfights or action, its about the characters and their motivations. Besides, its a well known fact I love westerns.

Top 5!


I will probably be the only guy reviewing movies who has this on his list. For some reason, this film got ravaged by critics and audiences (a lot about its long run time) but I loved it. Once again, it appealed to the classic film watcher in me, reminding me of the grand sweeping epics like Gone With the Wind or Lawrence of Arabia. Huge epic landscapes, with a deft use of color and scope. It had romance, adventure, and comedy, 2 parts western, 1 part war film, 1 part romantic epic. yet this eclectic style didn't drag the film down, it made it all that much more fun. It was little bit of everything I like made in a style of film making that you just don't see anymore. Director Baz Lurhman has a unique style all his own and he always gets the best of of Nicole Kidman.

4- Iron Man

Easily one of the best comic to film adaptations ever, ranking up there with the first Spiderman film and X-Men 2. Director Jon Favreau hits the jackpot in casting Robert Downey, Jr as Tony Stark/Iron Man and surrounds the actor with great support from Gwynth Paltrow, Terance Howard, and Jeff Bridges. Downey is dead on as the booze swilling narcissist Stark who comes to relaize truely the cost of war. The effects are perfect and the storyline is tight, really setting up the key elements of who Stark is and why he does what he does. It's Downey that really makes the film though. He is the best casting choice ever for a super hero film and he brings Iron Man from a second tier character right into the big leagues.

3- The Wrestler

This is the first time in a long while that I have actively rooted for someone to win an Oscar. Mickey Rourke is a tour de force as Randy "The Ram", once the biggest professional wrestler in the 1980's who has now fallen on hard times. No friends and no money, and a daughter who hates him, his only confidant is an aging stripper played by Marisa Tomei. This is a movie that is wonderfully sad, and Rourke steals the show. He perfectly captures this man who has seen his best days behind him, but he just can't leave the thrill of it all behind. Watching him cope with the problems of his life, you start to wonder where "The Ram" stops and Rourke's own problems arrive, as Rourke's own career path took a very similar turn. This movie makes number three simply on the fact that it is some of the best acting I have seen in a while, director Darron Aronofsky really gets the most out of all of his talent here.

2- The Dark Knight

Okay, this may be an upset for many people (namely not ranking it number 1) but The Dark Knight is still the best super hero film ever made. Downey may be the best single casting choice, but Christian Bale is hands down the best to ever don the cowl and there really hasn't been enough said about Heath Ledger's turn as the Joker. Director Christoper Nolan really locks down the script and creates a movie that is not only visually unique, but compelling and entertaining. There are great performances (and casting choices) from top to bottom and its nearly $1 billion take at the box office assures it of its lasting impact and superiority. Simply put, The Dark Knight is great.

1- Wall-E

A personal surprise, this film ranked number 10 on my films to look forward to in 2008, and here in 2009 it stands as the single film I enjoyed the most. It is the greatest animated film I have ever seen, technically superior to anything before. It continues Pixar's perfect box office record by creating a character, a small robot, who while barely speaking, may be the most human character on film this year. You feel for Wall-E through every trial and tribulation and root for his success, and are genuinely sad for his failures. This movie appeals to all ages, young or old, adult or child, there is nothing to dislike about this charming film. It was pure fun and I loved it in a way that I had not expected.

I am sure that many will disagree with my picks this year but that's okay. The important thing is that you enjoy going to the movies and seeing everything that there is to offer. I'll keep reviewing them as long as you keep enjoying them! Thanks for another great year in cinema.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Flash Fiction: Three More Bullets

Chapter 3

It was 4 months before I could even get out of bed and another 3 before I could walk without help. Ever so slowly, my body was becoming my own. I had to relearn how to walk, how to hold things. My bones had been broken and despite the help of Maggie and her father, my bones had not set evenly. I knew that it was just a matter of time though until I could return to my true purpose.

It turns out Maggie's father had been a pretty good surgeon back during the War of the States, until an errant shot cost him his leg. In the battle where he was shot he was captured. Gangrene and other infections, along with an inexperienced doctor amputating his leg, almost killed him, along with a bout of pneumonia he suffered while recovering in the prisoner's camp. In the waning days of the War as he was released, he, his wife, and their young daughter had headed out West for the drier climate to hopefully help him along. Her father's name was Charles, though her mother had died in an Indian raid before the county had been fully settled, forcing Maggie to run the house and help her father.

Charles did what he could for me with Maggie's help. Though her Father didn't have the ability anymore, he was still sharp and Maggie made a helluva nurse. They lived on a small plot of farmland about a week's ride from my farm. Maggie had been heading down to the river with a load of wash when she found me on the side of the creek bed. She wasn't sure how long I had been there or how I had got there, but I assumed that somehow I had come dislodged from my horse when he hit the creek and I washed downriver. I had to have been there a day or so though as my pants had been mostly dry.

Charles had doubted I would have survived the night with my injuries. The belly wound had infected and in my weakened state it should have killed me. Still he had managed to stop the bleeding and treat the infection as best he could. The rest involved time. Time to heal my broken bones and broken flesh. Time to rest and find my strength. I knew there was one thing that time wasn't going to heal. That was the hate. The need for revenge. Though I was grateful for the Lawson's help and hospitality, I knew it was only a matter of time. Time I had. I could wait. I could rest. I could heal. I could pay my debt to these people, to Maggie who fed me when I couldn't lift my arms and to Charles who brought me back to life. But one day I would find the men who did this to me. I would find the men who raped and murdered my wife and daughter.

Maggie may have been an angel of grace, but I was still alive to become an angel of vengeance.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

The Risk

Hey all,

This poem was written in the waning hours of Tuesday morning. It is actually my third attempt at writing a poem today. I wrote 1 or 2 stanzas of the other poems but i just couldn't find the feel, though I knew I had a poem inside of me waiting to be written. It may be a re-tread of familiar territory, but I like how it came out. Let me know what you think!

The Risk

Why cannot I tell you true?

For what cold fear holds my rule?

An iron grasp around my heart,

Lost in a maze no map can chart.

My fear stained mind cannot escape,

This quandary that my heart has shaped.

It seems so easy to tell you thus,

That you plus me could equal us.

But when we meet all thoughts then flee,

Though deep within I'd wish you'd see,

How much I love you with all my soul,

And that without you I can't be whole.

If I tell you how I really feel,

And lay true that which I conceal,

Will you find my love inside?

A smoldering ember where I reside.

Or will you say what I fear,

And utter words I loathe to hear.

Will the risk outweigh the chance?

Can I find this sweet romance?

Risk, reward of each has measure,

Though which one contains the treasure,

Of broken heart and cracked resolve,

Or a future bright which I evolve.

So that if I keep this silent tongue,

Then our love shall never be begun.

These feelings strong may not subside,

And each new day a bit more died.

I'd pine for you 'till days do end,

And you would see just a friend.

Though if my love did I proclaim,

I fear that you'd not feel the same.

Could you love one such as I?

It seems more likely you'd deny.

Would we then go separate ways,

From an awkwardness we couldn't allay.

I value you inside my life,

Despite these feelings held so rife,

I need for you, to be near,

So I pray one day that you'll hear,

These words that I've buried low,

Just that I love you so.

End of Line.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Movie Time: Rewind: Safety Last!

Hey all,

With a new year I thought the first installment of the Rewind we should turn the clock way back, to the early days of film making in Hollywood's silent era. I previewed my favorite silent film star, Buster Keaton, once already, so I thought we could turn to my second favorite actor of the time, Harold Lloyd. Lloyd was considered one of the top stars of his era, along with Keaton and the estimable Charlie Chaplin. In the early 1920's, Lloyd was arguably the biggest star of the three, out-grossing their films.

Lloyd also is one of the only silent stars considered to have made a successful transition to the talkie range, though it is his silent films that left their mark on his fans. Like Buster Keaton, Lloyd filled his comedies with sight gags and dangerous stunts that seemed impossibly dangerous to act out and none more so than the film highlighted today, his 1923 masterpiece Safety Last!

Made as a long "short" film, it clocks in at anywhere from 40 to 70 minutes, depending on the cut of the film. Lloyd stars as a simple country boy who takes a job as a store clerk in the big city. When he talks his boss into offering anyone who can bring in more customers to the store a $1000, Lloyd turns to his friend, a human fly. His friend will climb the skyscraper and collect the reward, but when he is arrested by the police, Lloyd must now make the climb in his place, encountering new challenges at each ledge.

The film is short on plot like many of its contemporaries but large on spectacle. Lloyd famously did his own stunts in the film, dangerous stunts that led into the films climax; in which we find Lloyd dangling from a clock tower high over the city. What is even more impressive is that all of Lloyd's stunts were done with only 8 fingers, having lost 2 of them via faulty explosives on the set of one of his films in 1919. He often wore expensive prosthetics or gloves and was extremely self conscious of the deformity even after his career ended. Though in later years after his death it was revealed that he did use stunt doubles and trick photography for some of his stunts, it doesn't make the feats any less stellar. The stunt man who doubled for Lloyd often credited him with performing many of the stunts himself. The climatic climb to the top of the building is truly a feat of film making and incredible bravery as the the stunts are all really dangerous and potentially deadly.

Lloyd, like Chaplin and Keaton, often played the same type of character, in his case a glasses wearing average guy who would let no obstacle stand in his way. Also like his peers, he was fiercely independent, forming his own production company and fighting for directorial control. With the exception of a few talkies, Lloyd owned all of his films made after 1922. This allowed him greater quality control and reaped enormous benefits, becoming extremely wealthy in the process. Sadly, Lloyd's career didn't last. Despite the successful transition to sound, Lloyd was nearly out of film making by age 45. His films budgets began exceeding his revenue and he found difficulty in finding studios to help him finance his films and distribute them. He even invested his own money in films to keep them at his high standards, but to no avail.

Sadly his peers, Buster Keaton and Charlie Chaplin would also fall from grace. Keaton signed a lucrative deal with MGM in 1927 and ultimately lost creative control over his own work, eventually ending up writing jokes for the Marx Bros and other comedians under MGM contract. Chaplin made several films after the talkie era began, including City Lights, Modern Times (a silent film from 1936!) and The Great Dictator in 1940. By the early 1950's though he was caught up in the wave of anti-communist McCarthyism and fled to Switzerland, effectively ending his career.

Even worse for Lloyd, many of his early works were lost in a fire at his elaborate home in the early 1940's, and much of the accolades that both Chaplin and Keaton finally found in the 1960's passed him by. As the sole owner of so much of his work, entire generations missed out on his work on the medium of television, which he feared would ruin his films by showing them at incorrect frame rates and interrupting them with commericals. It wasn't until his daughter's efforts decades later film goers re-discovered Lloyd's tremndous skill.

While much of this column has been dedicated to the great silent stars, don't forget that this post IS about Harold Lloyd's Safety Last! Easily my second favorite silent film, it is indefinitely rewatchable almost 80 years later. What made silent comedies work so well over time is the timelessness of the sight gag and stunt work. Unlike drama or horror films of the time, comedy remains immortal because it doesn't rely on the relevancy of the story or the acting, its simply about the laugh. Safety Last! should be on the short list of films to watch of this important era in Hollywood cinema.

Thanks for reading!

End of Line.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Flash Fiction: Three More Bullets

Chapter 2

Again it was the pain that woke me. It seemed like all there was in the world was the pain and nothing else. Even the memory of the angel had faded away, her golden hair and perfect skin now just a thought lost to the recesses of my pain. I tried to remember where I was, tried to remember the anger and the passion that had been so fervent before, but now I only knew the pain.

Ever so slowly though, I began to feel things from outside this realm. First it was the feeling of fabric beneath me. Threadbare and worn, but soft to the touch. fingers! Coarse and rough, but I could feel them again. Then I opened my eyes.

The light wasn't as bright this time, just the soft dull glow from a small bit of tallow on the table beside me. I was in a room I had never seen before. There was a table with the candle and a wash basin and a chair against the corner. There was a small window across from the bed I was laying on. The walls were white stucco, but well washed and clean. The door to the room was cracked open, but there was nothing but darkness outside.

I tried to lift my arms from beneath the sheets, but they were sluggish and slow. Every motion sent a fresh wave of agony through me. I tried to speak but only a dull croak escaped my throat, my lips chapped and cut. I desperately tried to work a bit of spit up in my dry mouth to lick my lips, as maybe that would quell one instant of pain.

I closed my eyes trying to wall off the pain, but when I closed them this time something more painful than the hurt came back, it was her face. My wife. My daughter. Dead. A pain so powerful that even the roar of my body paled in comparison. Somewhere deep within, I let free a wail bringing with it a coughing fit of blood and phlegm.

It was then I saw the glow of a light outside my door and it pull open. There, framed by the glow of candlelight, was my angel. She wore a white cotton sleeping gown that had seen better days and her hair was pulled into a loose nest of pins and bangs. She quickly came to my bed and whispered soft words of encouragement that at the time I couldn't hear, but looking back realized they were meant to calm me.


I had managed to spit out that one sentence as she pressed a damp cloth to my head. She rubbed my head soothingly as she talked.

"My name is Maggie Lawson, I live in Sedation Falls. I found you down by the river, half drowned and mostly dead. I brought you home and me and my Pa patched you up. He said in alla his years he never seen someone as ornery as you as to spit in the devils eye and cling ta life like you did."

I should have said I was surprised to still be alive but I wasn't, I knew why I was here and I knew what I had to do. Three men had killed my family. They had raped and tortured them for a lousy piece of farm land. I knew what my job was and why I was still alive. Revenge. Plain, simple, cold blooded revenge.

End of Line.

Friday, January 23, 2009


Hey all,

So anyone who reads this blog (like both of you) knows that I have like 3 controlling interests in my life, writing, comic books, and my latest craze, collectible vinyl art toys. Specifically toy manufacturer Kidrobot's 3 inch vinyl line, Dunnys. I've posted before anytime they launch a new series. which on average is about twice a year. They rolled out early this year with a brand new line of 17 figures by some of the United Kingdoms best urban artists, people like Julie West, Jon Burgerman, CLUTTER, and Shok 1 among others.

Typically they roll out two series a year, the next numerical series that has a medley of artists from around the world, of which they rolled out with series 5 towards the end of last year, and a theme series. Some of the themes from past series have been New York, L.A., French, and Azteca (Spanish /South American) featuring artists from these sections of the globe. This theme was the UK. I have to say that despite liking the last two series (Series 5 and French) they have been weaker launches than past series. For me, this is the best series they have done in a while. My room mate Jason, his girlfriend Autumn, and myself went in on a case and pretty much finished the set, except for two of the figures, one of the hard to get chases (though we did get the other) and a mystery figure, both of which I am sure we will track down.

We headed out for the local vinyl and urban toy store, Red Hot Robot as they typically run a launch party whenever new series come out. What is great about the parties are the cool prizes the owner gives away and the sweet snacks he rolls out with, this time coordinating a lot of the prizes with English themed treats including English beers, snacks, and candy. It was cool. You can also trade for stuff you may need than another person has extra of. Trading may be the best part of it as sometime you can strike a good deal. With the French series we got all but one through trades (though I came across the other later) and with this we are just two short. I'll post some picks up top for you to enjoy.

Truth be told, my favorite artist, Tara McPherson, has a whole series all to herself rolling out in March or May so that is definitely something I am looking forward to to tie me over until the next release of Series 6. The party was cool and I always like heading down to Red Hot to get my vinyl fix! Take a look and maybe you can see how cool some of these pieces of collectible art are!

Thanks for reading!

End of Line.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Movie Review: 2009 Preview Edition

Hey all!

Before posting my top 5 films of 2008, I thought we should take a small segue way and take a look at some of the upcoming films of 2009. Specifically some of the really hyped pictures that I am looking forward to. This is by no means a complete listing of every great movie that is coming out, just sort of a run down on projects that have caught my interest and the big time tent pole releases that everyone looks forward to watching.

I am going to pick out 10 films that I think everyone (not necessarily just me) are looking forward to coming out, and maybe a few honorable mentions to go along with them. I have also included movie posters to everything though many of them are still in the teaser state and haven't officially had the final poster art released yet. Still, a little bit is better than nothing yes?

10- Bruno

The latest from comedy savant Sasha Baron Cohen, he returns to the last character from his hit HBO show that hasn't seen the big screen treatment. Cohen met limited success with Ali G Indahouse, but exploded with the hit Borat. Bruno is his last character, the flamboyantly gay Austrian fashonista who will seek to undermine American sensibilities on homosexuality. If form holds true, this film with push the envelope on gay standards in America and be wickedly subversive and funny.

9- G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra

The 1980's toy and cartoon staple gets the big screen treatment courtesy of director Stephen Sommers (yeah the guy that made The Mummy and Van Helsing.) G.I. Joe is about a group of military operatives formed to combat the terrorist organization of Cobra. It stars Dennis Quaid, Sierra Miller, Marlon Wayans, and Ray Park (Darth Maul of Episode 1 fame) as Snake Eyes. To be honest, I am not sure that this is going to be a good film. Sommers isn't known for making substantial films in terms of plot or acting, usually sticking with big budget effects and spectacle to hide loose story elements. Still the nostalgia factor will be high and the formula worked with Transformers in 2007 so this could be a breakout hit.

8- Avatar

Director James Cameron is back behind the camera with his first new film since Titanic. Starring up and comer Sam Worthington, Michelle Rodriguez, and Sigourney Weaver, it is about a group of humans who discover a new planet, Pandora, and seek to exploit the world of its vast riches. It's then a wounded ex-marine must battle for the sake of not only the new world of Pandora, but for Earth as well. To be honest not a whole lot is out there on this film. It's been in pre-production for so long I will believe it is released when it actually gets released. Tentatively its scheduled to come out in December of 2009. I still have to say that Cameron is known for his ground breaking special effects work, so the bar has been set pretty high here. The only reason I didn't rank the expectation on this film in the top five is that I am not sure it will make its release window. I mean the poster alone has it debiting this summer in 200, but current release charts have it marked in December.

7- Star Trek

J.J. Abrams reboots the classic franchise by going back to the roots of the series. Starring a young Kirk and Spock, the film centers on the first mission of the Enterprise and the bonds that form as the crew come together battling the Romulan Nero. Abrams has been gold lately with hits like Lost, Fringe and Cloverfield, so Star Trek is his next test. So far the trailers for the film look incredible and the casting top notch, with Christopher Pine, Zachary Quinto, Eric Bana, and Simon Pegg he has really looked for actors to emulate the feel of teh classics while remaining respectful to the original series. He even got Leonard Nemoy back on board. Abrams hasn't failed us yet, he may be just the man to take Star Trek boldly to where no man has gone before, (okay at least in a long time) the top of the box office.

6- X-Men Origins: Wolverine

Marvel Comics most popular mutant strikes out on his own in a prequel to the X-Men franchises, this time focusing on the origins of Wolverine and the Weapon X program that gave him his metal bones. Expect Wolverine paired against a younger William Stryker (the villain from X-Men 2) and fights against Sabertooth as both characters develop their powers. Hugh Jackman is back as well and he is bringing a host of Marvel Comic characters with him. Expect cameo appearances from the ever popular, Gambit, Deadpool, Agent Zero, and the Blob. Wolverine is Marvel's most popular character and the most popular X-Men, I expect big things from this film.

5- Terminator: Salvation

Christian Bale is in another tent pole summer blockbuster as an adult John Conner kicking ass in the future against the armies of Skynet. Sam Worthington (of Avatar fame) is also in this film as the war for humanity rages on. This is supposedly the first film in a new three film franchise of the venerable series for Bale and Worthington. What more do you need to know other than armies Terminators fighting Christian Bale in the future war we have wanted since the first film! Allegedly even the Govinator himself has allowed his likeness and voice to make an appearance.

4- Transformers 2: Revenge of the Fallen

G.I.Joe isn't the only 1980's toy property hitting theatres this summer. Michael Bay, Shia Lebeouf, and Megan Fox are back in the big budget sequel to the smash hit film Transformers. Expect Optimus Prime, Megatron, Starscream, and a host of new Transformers all brought to life. Megatron is resurrected and with new Decepticon re-enforcements on the way, the Autobots team up with the armies of humanity in what is sure to be a huge battle. Personally I didn't care much for the first film, but I realize I am in the minority with that statement as this film is sure to be one of the biggest of the summer.

3- Up

The latest from Disney/Pixar, Up is the story of an elderly man who wants to fulfill his life long dream to see the wilds of South America. He ties thousands of balloons to his house and sets loose for adventure, only to find a young stowaway on board for the ride. Pixar's record at the box office is unbeatable and they keep getting better with each year. I have liked each film they make a bit more than the last, and I loved Wall-E. I am confident that this will be the number one animated movie of the year. For the icing on the cake, Pixar is also re-releasing their original hit, Toy Story in 3D.

2- Watchmen

The magnum opus of comic book movies, hype for this film has been off the charts. I may be rating it a little higher on my depth chart letting personal bias shade me a little, but I am okay with that. Watchmen is a deconstructionist tale of real world superheroes. If superheroes really existed in the world, what would happen? Starting in the 1940's and running into an alternate future in the 1980's where Nixon is still President. Once great hero Rorschach (like the ink blot tests) is investigating the murder of former hero The Comedian. As he digs deeper and investigates his old team mates, you dive into the real world affects of super heroes. Imagine Superman fighting in Vietnam for the U.S., and when someone has that much power and is supposed to watch over you, who watches the Watchmen? Often thought to be next to impossible to film, 300 director Chris Synder has teamed up with original series artist Dave Gibbons to bring this to the screen in one of the hottest films of 2009. While I am scared that they will ruin what many people consider the greatest comic book of all time, deep down I am hopeful that it will be the film I imagine.


1- Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince

While I don't guarantee that Transformers will not out gross this film, I do believe that anticipation on this film is higher. Originally scheduled for a November release in 2008, it was pushed back to a summer release in 2009 with the overwhelming success of The Dark Knight for Warner Bros. I mean why out out this film then when you can pad your profits for next year. It will also reduce wait on the final films in the book adaptations on 2010 and 2011 respectively. By this point you know the story of Harry Potter, a young wizard attending Hogwarts School who is embroiled in a battle with the evil Dark Wizard Voldemorte. This is one of my favorite books in the series and reveals alot of the origins of Potter and Voldemorte, as well as ending with one of the best cliffhangers ever. The books get progressively darker as the series rolls on and this is the darkest of the lot, really pushing Harry in an adult direction. By far the adaption that I was looking forward to the most in the series.

Now I am sure that I probably didn't get the order right, I tried to find a blend of films I want to see and what everyone wants to see. Personally I don't want to watch Transformers 2 and I think that G.I. Joe could potentially be terrible with the directorial pedigree behind it. It was hard to pic 10 movies for the list, several films I really wanted to see missed the cut including Public Enemies with Christian Bale and Johnny Depp (about FBI agents in the 1930's hunting notorious criminals); Inglorious Bastards (the new Quentin Tarentino World War 2 film); Coraline, a stop-motion animated film from the mind of writer Neil Gaiman; Angels and Demons, the prequel to the Da Vinci Code with Tom Hanks; and Funny People, the new Judd Apatow directed comedy with Adam Sandler and Seth Rogan. I am sure there are other great films I haven't even heard about yet, though they will be just as good. I look forward to another year at the movies, I hope you read about a few you are looking forward to.

End of Line.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

True Story Time!

Hey all!

Well, I know it has been some time since I last posted another strange but true story that happened to me and even I have to say that yesterday was a doozy! So it seems that yours truly, your humble narrator if this tale, was questioned by the police for my possible involvement in a murder case. Yeah... that's right, a murder.

Okay, to be fair it was probably considered more of a homicide cases, but the effect is the same that the police questioned ME! Here is the rundown, I am at home, minding my own business, surfing the 'net and prepping to write another blog entry at about 5:00pm. I hear the door bell ring so I spring up and answer it. To my surprise there are two uniformed police officers waiting for me. Then they start in on the questions. The following is not verbatim, just how I remember it being asked.

"Are you Gerrad McConnell?"

"Yes I am."

"Do you drive a Ford Mustang?"

"Yes I do."

"Is it black?"

"No its charcoal gray."

"Where you driving last night around 11:00pm?"

"Let me think... yeah I was I was probably almost back to work by then."

"How about around 4:00am? Were you driving then as well?"

"Yeah I could have been, I think I left work around 3:45 or 4:00am I guess. What's going on?"

Look, by this point the police are in my house and I have taken a seat and am pretty much ready to shit my pants. I don't know what is going on but I sincerely do not want to not answer any questions or do any thing to make me look guilty of anything because I knew I hadn't done anything. Finally after about the longest 20 minutes or so of questioning in my life, they start to fill in the blanks.

Apparently there was a hit and run accident on Monday night around 11:00pm by reportedly a dark or black Mustang. The kind of car I drive at the time I was driving. The hit and run had ended up killing someone, and fleeing from the scene made it now a homicide. There was also a report on a dark Mustang driving erratically around 4:00am Tuesday morning. That Mustang was apparently me. Someone called in my license number and claimed that I was driving unsafely around that time.

Now I freely admitted during questioning that I was super tired on my way home from work. I had worked a 10 hour day earlier from 7am to 6pm give or take, then when back in at around 11pm for inventory reasons and left at like 4am or so, so yea I might have been close to exhausted. Still I don't remember driving erratically , I do remember sing along to Weezer at the top of my lungs around where the call was reported. So maybe I was driving erratically I don't know, but still this is not adding up nicely for me.

The police were on the trail of the hit and run driver, and this call about a very similar Mustang was a lead that added up. Dark Mustang hitting a car, another call about a dark Mustang driving erratically. It was a pretty smart answer to put two and two together to deduce that they could be the same car. Add in the fact that you have the license plate number of my car and you have your first lead.

Anyway once all the details were filled in I told them to go check out my car. There was no kind of body damage to the car indicative of being in a hit and run. I was even telling the cops to check out the level of dirt on the car, there was no way that it had been doctored to look like it hadn't been in an accident.

At this point they believed that I wasn't involved, that I was just driving the wrong kind of car at the wrong kind of times but it still was a very crazy experience. To even think that I was being questioned in a murder case is crazy! I mean at some kind of point in my life the karma swing has to come back around right? Or maybe my karma is that bad shit happens to me but in the end it works out. I don't know. I mean, why does the craziest shit keep happening to me? How many other people do you know that have been questioned in a murder investigation?

I can kind of see the humor in the situation now, but for about 20 minutes there, I was really freaked out. How's that for some crazy shit!

End of Line.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Word Balloon: Young Liars

Hey all!

For the New Year I thought we would start off with a brand new title currently being published by DC Comics Vertigo imprint. Vertigo is where DC publishes a lot of the edgier non super hero fare that it produces. Books like Preacher and Y-The Last Man that I have highlighted in this column before. This month is all about writer-artist David Lapham's Young Liars.

Currently sitting on 11 published issues, the first trade paperback was released last month entitled Daydream Believer and it collects the first 6 issues. Young Liars is about a group of 20 somethings living in New York, but the plot quickly spreads across America and into Europe. The main characters are Danny, a musician who is obsessively in love and often finds himself in extremely self destructive behavior. This includes multiple suicide attempts and infidelity, though he often tries to justify his actions through lies. The love interest is played by Sadie, the daughter of a wealthy owner of a chain of super stores that left with Danny to become musicians. We learn she has a bullet in her brain that causes her to act erratically, where she only wants to fight, dance, or have sex. We also learn that Danny has a very manipulative hold on her.

They are surrounded by a wide variety of character including Big C, a former groupie that initially dislikes Danny, Annie X, a bulimic former model, Donnie, a heroin addicted cross dresser, and Runco, a rich kid obsessed with get rich quick schemes. The story in the first volume is that the Runco gets the group to agree to go to Spain to retrieve a painting worth a lot of money. Along the way they get tangled up with the police at a nightclub, hijack a boat, and run afoul of Pinkertons who are hot on the trail of Sadie to send her back to her father.

We also learn a lot about the group of "friends." Mainly that most of them are lying to each other. The bullet lodged in Sadie's brain causes her erratic behavior, often times she claims that Spiders from Mars are out to enslave humanity and that they work for her father. We are never lead to believe if this is truth or just Sadie's injury talking, the story often times seems to make both aevenues a disticny possibility. We do learn a lot about Danny though and why he manipulates Sadie as he does. Even more importantly we learn why he hates himself so much more. It forces you to wonder untrustworthy your friends can be when money is involved, and how far you will go for the girl of your dreams.

There isn't really anyway to neatly sum up this book in a single sentence. It's one part true crime, one part science fiction, and one part drama. Creator David Lapham made his mark on comics in the 1990's with his crime series Stray Bullets (which I will preview at a later date) and he translates it so well into this series. Just when I think I have the book figured out, he flips my reality or changes the perspective. I love the feel of this book as it is really unlike any other being published right now. No capes, just the worst bits of some of the worst people you will ever meet, and yet you can really find empathy in these despicable characters.

Lapham has a great artistic look to the title as well. Penciled in a very grounded reality, its all the more surreal when he peels back that layer into the bizarre that lies beneath. It's the equivalent of an Indy rock feel while maintaining a really clean and actualized environment. Lapham is a very underrated artist who can capture emotion with some of the best.

All in all, Young Liars topped my list as my favorite new book of last year and I eagerly await each new issue to see what twist in the path has occurred this month. Truthfully, the out there nature of this comic might not apply to everyone, I would liken it to the gonzo journalistic approach of Hunter S. Thompson in Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, the truth is there, just beneath a varnish of lies and unreality. If your ready for something that is completely different, check out David Lapham's Young Liars: Volume 1 Daydream Believer; from DC Comics Vertigo. The book starts off at a 1000 miles per hour (the title of the first chapter) and never looks back. The cover alone seeks to find if you are prepared for what is within, asking "Are you ready for this?" That image alone had me hooked.

End of Line.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Flash Fiction: Three More Bullets

Chapter 1

It started with my finger. Just the one. Moving ever so slowly. Eventually it was two, then three, until I could clench my fist. Slowly feeling came back into my arm, then my body began to awaken. It was agonizing like my entire body was on fire. The pain threatened to make me black out, but I held on to the glimmer of light at the edge of the darkness. I cracked my eyes open and my vision went white, blurred against the blaring sun and reminding me of just how dry my mouth was. My lips cracked as they spread and my throat felt like it had a layer of dust in it.

My sight still a blurry white smear, the night before came flooding back to me.I could still see his laughing face leering over me. The smell of his breath, like bad whiskey and onions. The memory of hate was the only thing that hurt more than this pain. I could still picture his two laughing cronies over his shoulder as he held me down, bashing me with the butt of my own gun. The gun my father has used in the war. I remembered my boots being pulled off and my shirt and jacket removed as they punched me repeatedly. Never letting up. I remember him throwing the gun in the dirt as he motioned for his men to go back in the house and pull them out. My wife, my daughter.

I remembered as they beat me with wooden clubs until my bones cracked. Hitting my feet until they were blackened lumps of blood and meat and I couldn't stand anymore. Bringing them across my hands and face until I could barely open my swollen and puffy eyes. Hearing the sobbing sounds of my wife and daughter as they pummeled me. Then laying in a pool of my own blood as they turned on my girls. Raping and murdering them in front of my eyes. Punching my wife in the face over and over until she couldn't even speak.

Afterwards he took my gun and shot them in the head, laughing as his friends pissed on their mangled bodies. I screamed with rage until my throat was dry and hoarse; the whole time unable to protect them. When they were done, they turned my own gun on me and shot me once in the stomach. A slow, painful death they promised as they tied my broken hands behind my own horse.

My arms were nearly pulled out of their sockets as the mare sprang forward, the weeds and thickets surrounding my homestead tearing at my exposed flesh. The last thing I remembered was the sound of laughter falling further behind me.

As the blurry white nothingness faded away, I began to hear something at the edge of consciousness. The sound of crying, and suddenly I could see her face. Blond hair and smooth skin, tears flowing down her cheeks, eyes alight in blue from the watery tears. She had to be an angel.

Then she spoke.

"You're ALIVE!"

End of Line.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Movie Review: The Wrestler

Hey all,

So I finally managed to watch The Wrestler, starring Mickey Rourke, Marisa Tomei, and Evan Rachel Wood. This is the last film of 2008 that I really wanted to watch before posting my year in review material, though it was a safe guess I thought that it wouldn't make my Worst list. I was really intrigued by several facets of this movie, specifically Mickey Rourke and the word Oscar being mentioned in the same sentence.

Rourke, who I thought was fabulous as Marv in Robert Rodriguez and Frank Miller's Sin City, really hadn't been on the radar much throughout the mid 1990's and into this decade until Sin City rocketed him back into the spotlight. His portrayal of Randy "the Ram" has already earned him a Golden Globe, so I knew that I had to check this film out.

The premise of this film is that Rourke is Randy "The Ram", an old broken down professional wrestler who was one of the biggest stars of the 1980's who now in 2009 is facing hard times. Having spent all of his money, "The Ram" lives in a trailer that he is often locked out of for failing to pay his rent and who works weekdays unloading stock for the local grocery. On the weekends is when he rekindles his past glory by wrestling at small local shows, where his name still holds a small measure of promise.

Randy, whose real name is Robin Ramnisky, doesn't know how to face life being anything other than "The Ram." His daughter, played by Evan Rachael Wood, has disowned him, and his only friend is a local stripper, Cassie, played by Marisa Tomei. Cassie is older than most of the other girls at the club, and often finds herself with her most dependable client, Randy. The to develop a bond, though at first Cassie just looks at him as a way to keep making a few dollars. Eventually the sparks of a relationship develop that Cassie tries to push away, not wanting to mix her business and private life. Randy learns that Cassie is just her stage name though, and Randy discovers her real name is Pam and that she has a 9 year old son and wants to quit stripping and move to a better neighborhood.

After a particularly hardcore match, involving ladders, glass, and staples "The Ram" has a heart attack back stage and is forced to give up wrestling. Here is where the movie really finds itself, as the "the Ram" tries to become Robin Ramnisky, by re-connecting with the daughter he abandoned in childhood through the help of Cassie, and by taking on regular work at the local grocery as a deli clerk. The true question that Cassie and Randy face is whether they can survive as the other half of the persona they have been playing for so long. Can Robin leave "The Ram" behind when one more big match arrives, a rematch of his most famous bout on its 20th anniversary? Or can Cassie leave behind the world of stripping that has been such a part of her life before age completely leaves her behind, like Randy.

The film is wonderful. Director Darren Aronofsky, who also directed The Fountain and Requiem For a Dream, really gets down and dirty with his film making. There are no track shots or dolly cams, just single camera work, often times handheld. The world these people inhabit is real and poor, dirty and visceral. The film isn't about wrestling, though he gets it dead on. He shows the sport with realism without ever mocking it. He highlights the humor and the camaraderie of the wrestlers without ever making fun of them. He really keeps the film about the path that "The Ram" has taken, and where it has taken him.

The acting is great as well. Rourke is the only guy who could play this part. Such a parallel in careers, where both had seen there hay day in the 80's, and both character and actor were , to quote Rourke's character, "broken down pieces of meat." You really feel for his character and the mess he has made of his life, and that he acknowledges himself as a failure in many ways. Tomei and Wood really complement the story arcs as well, with Tomei facing similar decisions in her life. Both roles could have become very cliche, the stripper with a heart of gold and the angry abandoned daughter, but each actress leads Rourke to some of his best scenes. I really love the very touching scene between Rourke and Wood where he only wants his daughter to not hate him anymore. Very powerful. This is film that is honest to the point of brutality, where you really feel the pathos of each actor.

I even need to comment on the soundtrack a little, using staples of classic hair metal from the 80's, like Ratt and Guns and Roses, really kept the nostalgic feel that his character still lived in his glory days. The ending, which I won't ruin, is a bit abrupt, but is very moving and fitting for the characters.

Overall this is easily one of my favorite films of the year and maybe one of the best performances of an actor that I have seen. Where Rourke ends and "The Ram" begins is a difficult line to shade, but do yourself a favor and see this movie. The Wrestler, with Mickey Rourke, Maris Tomei, Evan Rachel Wood, directed by Darren Aronofsky.

End of Line.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Never, or A Brutal Afterglow

Hey all,

Comprised below is a poem written as I was stuck on the side of the road. My car had broken down, my battery cables having literally melted away to nothingness. I was sitting on a rock looking at my car, waiting for the tow truck to show up. Though I surely was in a bad place mentally with all the problems I seem to be having with my house and my car and the monetary issues they represent, I took this as an omen to get out my travel journal and write.

This was another rare case where I had the title for the poem in my head before writing it, the thought of an ending relationship, forlorn from the start, and that is left is the brutal afterglow of what you had. The words seemed to resonate with me at any rate.

When I found my rhythm (very quickly I might add) actually, the repeating structure of the first lines of each stanza just seemed a very natural fit. So while Never is probably the better title, I just couldn't seem to shake the phrase. In the end, I was pretty happy with how it turned out, especially as it seemed to come very easily over the course of the hour or so I spent on it. Enjoy or lament as you will.

Never, or A Brutal Afterglow

Would that you had never kissed me,

And all the fleeting days since then,

Had never truly com to happen,

Past away to history, never seen again.

That I'd never felt your lips,

Oh! A sweeter taste I'd never known.

Succumbed the urge to passions grip,

Even the memory makes me more alone.

If I'd never closed my eyes,

And dreamed of what could be,

The possibility of our love,

Had blinded me to pending agony.

Would that you had never held me close,

And locked yourself inside my heart.

For that you are not around,

My world has seemed to fall apart.

That I'd never longed for you,

Prayed so hard that you'd be mine.

All I noticed was my love,

Ignoring all the obvious signs.

If I'd never fell in love,

Then now I'd not feel so low.

You broke my heart and went away,

All that's left 'tis a brutal afterglow.

End of Line.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Assorted Nuts!

Hey all,

So no one knows better than me how spastic this publishing schedule has been. I just have really hit a wall with this series and I need to find my passion again for it. This chapter originally was a little longer, but I thought this seemed like a better breaking point so I cut it here. While I have the next few chapters planned out, I just haven't had the motivation to write this story.

I am thinking about adding another series of short stories in between to tell a story to get the juices flowing again. I have a few ideas, one for a drama, one for more of a sci-fi bend, and another western, this in a more classic tone.

I also want to keep working on some new poetry to stay strong with the posts. The other problem is that I am suffering from a new video game bug, specifically the new game Left 4 Dead. Even now I want to get online and play, I really like the motif and play style where it is a shooter, but the bend is for co-op playing and you have to be a team, its not a 1 on 8 frag fest. The co-op feature has me hooked!

Also with the Cardinals in the playoffs and making a deep run this has really kept me pre-occupied. Anyway, I'll try to post more this week and stay on track!

End of Line.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Flash Fiction: The Darkest Dawn

Chapter 21

My mind was screaming at me to unleash the power I was holding in upon the User and finish my job. My skin boiled and bubbled, like a raging flood of golden lava and the walled of section of my sub-conscious was threatening to let the damned off wall of pain free that I had forced down. All I could make myself do was stare at Allegra. My sister. So beautiful and so angry.

She landed smoothly, her liquid golden wings drawing in behind her and walked ever so calmly beside me. My Second Sight still flared as she walked towards me, her aura throwing off more colors than I had ever seen anyone use, from Red's and Green's to Orange and Blue, she held more power within than I could hope. She made no threatening move towards me, but I could still see that sneer on her face. Finally she broke the tense silence between us.

"Alex dear brother, I am so happy and so sad at the same time. I have expended much effort to bring you to me. Much effort indeed. Yet here I find you, unable to even control your own form. Pathetic really."

As she walked her skin rippled subtly, lines of power running through her perfect form. She moved her golden spear into her left hand and smoothed her long hair out of her eyes as she spoke again. As she spoke again, she walked around me in a slow circle.

"You could have had so much potential my brother had you not become so....sullied by the likes of these mere mortals you care about so. We are the only two beings like us in the world. Beings so powerful even the Lords of Light and Dark fear our wake. It is not to late though for you, you could still realize your potential, still join the side of right. The end is coming. I will marshal the charge and free the Earth of the blights of impurity."

I stood silent as she spoke, my eyes never leaving her. My skin boiled and erupted, churning with discontent and power. The rage inside was threatening to spill out, but I could do nothing as she spoke.

"Alex, I can be merciful. All Gods can be merciful. Look around us. Look as my charges attack those you believe you care about. This little fray means NOTHING to me. Nothing. It is all designed to bring you out, so that you can see the Light. I want you Alex. Join with me, your sister, the only one in the world who knows what it is like to be you. You will see what a God can do. As a token of my generosity, I shall grant you these poor souls. It matters not in the end whether they live or die in this moment. For the purification of Earth shall happen."

She had stopped circling at this point, the tell tale signs of battle still rang clear in the background. She walked towards the user and placed a hand on his shoulder. Her touch passed through the shielding around him like it wasn't even there. She slowly caressed his neck, softly, before her beautiful face turned dark and her skin flowed over the User. He struggled for a moment before the searing fire drowned out his screams. She stood stoically as the backlash of power exploded around her and the body of the User fell to the ground, a burned out husk. Smoke rising from the shell that once was human, now burnt like thin paper. She gently kicked off the ground, taking flight, and turned back to me, her face once again beautific.

"You see Alex, this is my gift to you. Think upon what I have said. You can still correct all these years of mistakes, just pledge your allegiance to the Light, and we can usher in a new age of purity to this Earth. Think upon what I have said, for when next we meet, God may not be as merciful."

It was now that I finally caught my voice. Shoving the pain and the anger down into the corner of my mind, I summoned the words through gritted teeth.

"Listen lady, I don't give a fuck who you are. Light side, sister, God... I don't fucking care. You come down to my town and try to start some shit, we are gonna have an issue. I'll die before that happens."

"Ah Alex, so naive. Still, it is the heat of the moment, you should really consider my offer. I can teach you how to control your powers. I can show you the true meaning of godhood. Think on what I have said, for we shall see each other very soon."

She took flight, along with several other of the Greater Flight demons as the battle died down. I stood out in the sun watching her fade away into the light. I stood there until the pain of my transformation flooded over me and I could stand it no longer. My body an aching wave of agony, the heat rippling off my bubbling flesh. I managed to walk back towards the house before I collapsed. I remember the last thing I said before the blackness drew me in.

"Not again Juliet. Not again."

End of Line.

Friday, January 09, 2009

Movie Review: Top 5 Worst Films of 2008

Hey all,

January for me is a month about reflecting on some of the movies we have watched over the past year. As a layman movie watcher I don't get to see the broad range of films that most reviewers are given access to, so my list is strictly limited top the films I managed to see this year on DVD and in the theatre. FOr the first of my Top Lists this month, I thought we would look at the Worst films that I caught this year.

Now remember that this list isn't reflective of such fare as Fool's Gold with Kate Hudson or Drillbit Taylor because I wisely chose not to see those movies. This is simply based on my perspective.

5- The Spirit

Maybe I wanted to much, but this film was maybe the second most disappointing on my list. I had a decent level of expectation and hoped for something resembling a fun or daring picture. The lead actor was wooden, and Sam Jackson was cartoonish to the point of absurdity. All in all it was an exercise in one man's ego. I'll pass thanks.

4- The Love Guru

I often don't run a DVD review of a film because it is so far after the initial release, most movie goers know what to expect. I make the rare exceptions for films that I really like. The Love Guru is the opposite case. A truly terrible comedy I didn't even watch all the way through. Dwarf jokes and bad bits with defecating elephants that seemed played out years ago. Mike Myers just isn't as funny as everyone thought he was. Please don't watch this.

3- Speed Racer

A bombastic, spastic kaleidoscope of sugar and color. It was like a hyperactive kid threw up crayons and animated it to the point where the film wasn't even real, just a cartoon take on an old cartoon that lost its relevance before the target demographic was even born. From acting to directing to story, this film missed on all cylinders. Another film that I didn't even finish watching on DVD because it was that bad.

2- Indiana Jones and The Kingdom of the Crystal Skull.

By far and way the most disappointing film of 2008. There was no movie I had higher hopes for this year, and next maybe to the Star Wars prequels no movie I ever wanted more to be better than it ended up being. This was a film that took all the things we loved about Indy and flushed them down the drain. The only worthwhile contribution was making me believe that a 60 plus year old man could win a fist fight. The down side, just about everything else, from Indy's annoying progeny to George Lucas need to make every fucking this he does kid friendly. I never want to see Shia Lebouf swing like Tarzan through the jungle or have Indy fight fucking aliens. He should be grounded in theology and history, not fighting the future.

This film is narrowly number two, only beating the one spot by the narrowest of margins.

1- The Happening

This, for me, was the worst movie I saw through the entire year. The only time I ever felt like getting up and leaving during a movie was in this film. Long, boring, and about as subtle as a hammer to the groin, M. Night Shaymalan really bottomed out on a career that once seemed full of viable and fun new movies. Mark Walhberg is unconvincing as a high school science teacher charged with saving his family from angry trees and grass and shit. Zooey Deschanel is almost completely unsympathetic in her role as a wife, and honestly the message that we need to be kinder to the Earth could have at least been told in a way that didn't make it seem like every person was an idiot and there were no redeemable qualities in mankind. It was another case of a director/writer losing his scope and vision because he was caught up in the supposed clamor of his own influence. There wasn't even a twist, just hey, these trees are gonna kill us. Just really lame and awful.

Well there you go, my 5 Worst, most disappointing films of 2008. As we progress through the month I will pick the top 5 films I saw, as well as a preview of 10 upcoming films in 2009 that I am really excited about. Thanks for reading and enjoying movies as much as me!

End of Line.

Thursday, January 08, 2009


Hey all,

Recently I have had several conversations about the measure of a man's life. As accidents happen to people around me, I often begin to wonder how you measure the impact of your life. My best friend told me that he will measure his life by the influence he has on the world. That his life will have the meaning he wants when he creates something that influences the world, or at least a portion of the world, at large.

I had another friend who measured his life by getting married and having kids. Progeny would be his immortality and that his life's meaning was only going to be found when he got married. Still another friend of mine knows not how to measure one's self worth. Life is merely a series of events that interrupted by random moments of despair or happiness.

I don't think any of these answers are right. My first friend wants to influence the world, never realizing how much he has influenced those around him. Sometimes the most important thing is the one that is closest to home. Maybe my friend has an expectation that we should be supportive of his work, not realizing often that it is with awe that we look on to what he can do. That the knowing of one another has changed who I am. Creativity is a well, and though I may have known about its location longer, it doesn't make the drinking any less quenching.

Marriage these days more often than not ends much worse than it begins. I don't think that one can find one's meaning of life in another. It has to come from within and create the passions of fire. It is your feelings for the other person that makes you who you are, not merely a presence. Children I can more understand, but looking to them to provide you with a form of immortality isn't practical. You are alive inside their hearts, but only for so long until you fade from memory with the passing of time. Life must be lived in the moment, for the fragility of what we have makes each moment more special.

As for my last friend, I don't think that life is a series of random events. Without the belief in a greater purpose, life loses the luster, that sheen grows with each passing day. As the days tick away, you have to find that which drives you to continue on through those days. Its the meaning of your life to simply TAKE THE JOURNEY. In the end, that which was important will be clear.

I think that the journey is the important part. We are on a path that we don't have a map for. Each day that passes is the last of its kind, and each day that dawns is the first of its. Its not so much about what drives you through the days and years, but that you make a journey. If your life were to end tomorrow, think about the people who would miss you. Think about how you affect the people around you. Maybe you only effect one or two people, a wife, a husband, a child, a friend. All of these people are changed for having met you. The measure of your life is not in the quantity of deeds accomplished, or the days that have gone by, but in the people you meet.

Life and death are not the sum of life, its the spaces in between that make us up.

End of Line.

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

New Year's Eve

Hey all,

Here is a poem on the passing of time, especially around New Year's Eve. That is a window of time that has me feeling especially reflective. I hope you like the poem, I wanted to find a theme that wasn't about washing away the old year with the new, but in finding that sometimes you don't want things to end. What is it like to wish that time didn't pass.

At any rate this was my first attempt at creative writing in almost 2 weeks so I feel a bit rusty, but overall I am very happy that I managed to finish the poem. I am sure that a few extra read throughs and some fine tuning could improve it, but I once read that a poem is never finished, just abandoned. I think that is a good sentiment. I don't like over thinking poetry. To much though clouds emotion and more than one or two attempts at a poem changes what originally drove the author to write it. Anyway, thanks for reading!

New Year's Eve

This is a day of ending,

The final tick falls off the clock.

And as the year runs itself out,

It's time to keep the past under key and lock.

Swept away are the thoughts to fade.

Trickling by into the past,

Forgotten moments that can't come again,

And burning memories that ever last.

The Dawn of a brand new year,

Holds a promise of times to come.

Shiny and new the days arrive,

Though the past feels so much less alive.

Tears are shed for what I've lost,

The fear at what still lies ahead.

Soon they'll be but a dream,

A story now you've already said.

Seconds now are all that's left,

On this the time of a New Year's Eve.

I fold my heart and say farewell,

And wonder what is left to believe.

The happy moments that have past,

The melancholy days of yesteryear.

Have closed up upon itself,

Trapping me in the same fraught fears.

The second hand strikes at twelve,

And the gonging chimes sound the end.

Goodbye to that which once was,

A funeral of time I called my friend.

I rage against the closing year,

And the days that fell behind,

Bracing myself for a future,

That I'm so unprepared to find.

End of Line.

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Movie Review: The Spirit

Hey all,

A few days ago I headed out to the multiplex to catch Frank Miller's theatrical adaptation of The Spirit, originally created by comic book legend Will Eisner in the 1940's. Frank Miller is another comic book icon, having written such seminal books like The Dark Knight Returns, Batman: Year One, Daredevil: Born Again, and creating the successful Sin City line of books.

The Spirit stars Gabriel Macht as Deny Colt, the Spirit. A police officer killed in the line of duty and escapes the embrace of death (personified by the beautiful Jamie Bell) thanks to a chemical injection by the criminal genius The Octopus (played by Samuel L. Jackson. The Octopus was testing a solution to provide extraordinary healing powers and longevity and Colt happened to be the perfect specimen. With Colt back to life, The Octopus injects himself and begins a quest to complete his godhood, by finding the blood of Hercules. Colt, realizing that this is his chance to make a difference, has adopted the guise of The Spirit and becomes a vigilante working with the police commissioner.

Most of the Spirit's origin is told in flashbacks, as well as his link to a wanted thief, Sand Serif (played by Eva Mendes), who was the Spirit's childhood sweetheart before becoming a thief after the death of her father. In the beginning of the film, Sand Serif and the Octopus both are trying to steal an ancient vase, but there are two of them, one contains the blood of Hercules, the other the Golden Fleece of Jason (of the Argonauts fame). Sad Serif grabs the blood unknowingly thinking it the Fleece while the Octopus is battling the Spirit. The Octopus winds up with the Fleece in the end. The film culminates in a proposed trade of vases, one that the Spirit tries to stop.

I am going to be completely honest in how i feel about this movie. It was terrible. Just terrible. The Spirit is not a well known quantity even in the comic book community and Frank Miller tried to do to much. Telling his origin in a flashback almost a third of the way through the film is not how you establish a hero with an audience who doesn't know your character. The true fault lies mostly with director Miller himself, who also wrote the screenplay. This was his first solo effort as a director, though he did have several film writing credits to his name, like Robocop 3.

You can see Miller trying to pass his film off as a homage to his own work and the work he did when he co-directed Sin City with experienced director Robert Rodriguez. In Sin City the two used Miller's own books as storyboards and created a world no one had seen before, with an unprecedented visual approach to film making. What was important was that they used strong actors and that they stayed true to the source material. I think that Miller let his hubris get the better of him and ultimately tried to tell his version of a Spirit tale instead of Will Eisner's. What results is a poor shade of a Sin City film. With an experienced hand and strong casting, you can take something over the top and make it believable in the situation, like what happened in Sin City. It was wild and crazy, but you were involved with the story and the characters. In this movie you never catch that believability, it just seems cornball and fake. Jackson is chewing scenery with his over the top take on his character while Macht is stiff and lifeless, I never believed that he was the ladies man he is made out to be.

If I had to find a positive in the film it would be the female casting. Eva Mendes is clearly enjoying her role as a sex pot jewel thief and I enjoyed Scarlett Johanson's take on her character Silken Floss, the Octopus's right hand man so to speak. She was enjoying playing something fun and different as a bad guy who was in it for the fun and the money and who knew her looks made the thing work. Even Sarah Paulson brings some credibility as the only "real" woman in Deny's life. She plays Dr. Ellen Dolan, daughter of the police commissioner and former love of Colt, before his death and rebirth as The Spirit. There is even another beautiful villainess in the film, Plaster of Paris played by Laz Vega, who while being totally unnecessary to the plot, would definitely count as eye candy.

The bottom line is to watch this movie when it hits cable. It is not well made and suffers from many obvious directorial flaws. It is my hope that this will not effect the possibility of a Sin City 2 with Rodriguez and Miller attached though, as I believe in what Rodriguez is capable of. I really wanted to like this movie, but it is my opinion that the resulting effort is not worth your $10.00.

End of Line.

Blog Dump!

Happy 2009 everyone!

Okay so it seems the New Year didn't start out quite like I planned, at least with the blog. I have been in a real creative funk this past week or so and have absolutely hit rock bottom in terms of having a creative output. I haven't wanted to work on poetry or flash fiction, just nothing. I have very much felt just creatively empty.

I am very much resolved to change that this week. At my core I still really want to write, and to be a writer. It times like this when you are so broken that you have to scrape yourself together and find your light. I have spent the last 5 days or so really thinking about the blog and what I want to do. Invariably I come to the same conclusion. I want to be a writer. Even if its for just one person, I want to know for myself that what I do matters. I think its hard to keep yourself motivated when you start to feel like what you create doesn't really matter.

A real artist is going to dig deep and continue creating despite what anyone else says. I surely don't think of myself as an artist, but I can find solace in that sentiment at least. Writing is for me a very solitary experience and sometimes I feel that is why I find myself feeling alone. Ever since I started this blog, I have found this to be a good place to express those feelings. This time of year is usually when I start to find myself at my most melancholy. New Years to about Valentine's Day. It when I start to feel a little bit (or a lot bit) sorry for myself and I think that is really the case this year more so than in years past. In looking at myself, I didn't like what I saw. The same guy in the same position as he has been in before. Feeling like I can't talk about what is bothering me because I don't know how to express it.

This sense of apathy really spilled into my desire to write. Today is the day I take a step against those feelings. I am resolving to continue to build on what I have worked on for the past 2 years and stay focused. Over the next few days I will be working on multiple blog dumps through the weekend to get on track with at least five or 6 posts by Sunday, including continuing The Darkest Dawn.

I appreciate the opportunity to write. I love writing. It's loving myself enough to stay strong to what I want to do that needs the effort.

End of Line.