Do You Feel Lucky?

(and feel free to comment! My older posts are certainly no less relevant to the burning concerns of the day.)

Saturday, May 31, 2008

THAT'S IT!! No More 'critiques'!

I just stripped all 38 posts labelled 'critiques' of that label, and re-labelled them with the label 'criticism.'

I am through pussin' around.

U2: Overrated Or What?

I bet U2 could top a global poll of most-overrated artists. They really seem to have a lot of people pulling for them on that one.

But what sort of effect would that have, one wonders - what effect on their very overratedness? If U2 were named #1 Most Overrated, by resounding majority acclaim...would they still be overrated? After a cold-water accolade like that? Or would that balance the whole thing out, bring 'em back in line with reality?

I often wonder whether it isn't just that they just have a reputation for being overrated. Maybe it's all hype.

Or on the other hand, perhaps the designation simply suits them. For U2, being overrated may be something intrinsic, something unavoidable. Perhaps in the final analysis, we must simply accept them as a justly-overrated band.

I Made My First Wikipedia Edit.

Kind of on a whim, really. But I had to! I was just embarrassed for them. What a typo to make! Under "Examples of Memes" it said:
• Holocausts: complex produced story memes, including beliefs, such as the Jewish holocaust which never happened.

Now I read that a couple times, and I'm pretty sure they messed up a little on that. So I changed it to:
• Holocausts: complex produced story memes, including beliefs, such as the belief that the Jewish holocaust never happened.

That must have been what they meant. I'm almost sure.

Wikipedia, honestly. I can't imagine trying to keep that place honest. Anybody can go in and do a mess-up, anytime they want to, by mistake or even (if they wanted to) on purpose! My confidence level, my confidence in the truth value of the information they have on there...it's pretty low. If I had to quantify it, I'd say I feel like the content is probably between 5% and 20% fictitious at any given time. How do people rely on that?

I bet somebody changes it right back, too. Sometimes people get these weird ideas in their heads, I don't know where they come from or how they propagate.

The ideas, that is. Not the people. Although...an equally valid question perhaps?

Open Dream Journal #29: AC/DC Anxiety

I must be getting anxious about this new AC/DC Album that's coming out (all the tracks have been recording, they're in the mixing and finishing stage - DUE LATE '08!). I had a dream where I was watching a tv show interview with members of the band, plus the producer (noted top-notch or at the very least, upper-upper-middle-notch rock producer Brendan O'Brien). They all seemed happy about the album, talking and laughing with a lot of energy and excitement, but it was weird some of the things that Brendan O'Brien was saying - which didn't seem to phase the guys a bit!

Talking of the guitar on the album, O'Brien said Malcolm's riffs were "boring and perfunctory" and that Angus's solos were "histrionic and incomprehensible" - and then it cuts to a shot of Ang and Malc listening to this - they're both grinning, laughing, nodding their heads! I guess it could be that the reactions were edited in from a different part of the interview. At no point is O'Brien in the same shot with other band members when he makes one of these caustic remarks. He's seated in the black armchair off to the side, while the brothers Young sit on a red leather upholstered loveseat that looks very 1950s somehow and Brian Johnson stands, leaning against the Victorian print wallpaper and enthusing in that great gravelly scratchy Newcastle accent of his.

Anyway, enough about that. It's just a dream, right? Here's another dream: I just hope this album is as good as the last one. The last one was good, solid. Howard Hawks said that all it takes to make a great* movie is "three great scenes, no bad scenes." Well, all it takes to make a great AC/DC album is two great songs, seven solid songs, one really awful song. The really awful song is more important to the equation than you might think. It's true that Back In Black contained no awful songs whatsoever, but unless you've got a classic of that order on your hands, why not throw us a little unintentional comic relief! You can of course omit any number of the solid songs in favor of any additional great songs that you may have lying around.

My nightmare would be for them to put "Can't Stand Still" on this album. They put it on the last album twice - once as "Hold Me Back." Word was Johnson wanted "Can't Stand Still" to be a single. Ock! Awk! I can't even spell the noise of choking disgust that my neck is making at the suggestion of that. What a weak song! A total ballad. Nothing going on at all! Verse and chorus, milk and mildness. There was some slightly jumpy guitar, but still, soooooo tame - we're talking a song that gets stomped on by Bryan Adam's "Can't Stop This Thing We Started." Not something you'd like to say about any AC/DC song! Now, it was fine in terms of album filler, but unworthy of our boys' consideration as a SINGLE!! That bit of rumor, plus the fact that they put the song on the album twice under two different names, gave me a prophetic cringe: "Are they just getting this out of their system? Or is this a direction we'll be seeing more of in the future...?"

I sure hope not. But let me exorcise that fear - BEGONE! BEGONE "CAN'T STAND STILL!" - and move on. Because, I have a very good feeling about this album. I have good reasons to believe it will be at least a better-than-average AC/DC album (which is a fine thing indeed, a better-than-average AC/DC album!). But beyond that, I retain secret hopes that it will be THEIR BEST WORK SINCE (dare I say it?) BACK IN BLACK!

Why not? We've got the whole classic unit from Back In Black back together, and they've had plenty of time to come up with a ton of material (which supposedly, they've been telling us for years they've been doing - would they LIE?? - Brian even at one point let slip the spectre of a "double album!" - a rumor that was blissfully quashed).

And furtherly auspiciously, Brian's doing the lyrics again! Last few albums he hasn't written any lyrics - it was all Angus & Malcolm. And they done themselves proud! But I'm glad Brian's back on that. He has a brilliant touch, with some awesome non entendres and double sequiturs to his credit over the years.

Oh, but I can't wait for this one. Can't wait! Can't stand still. Can't hold me back.

Friday, May 30, 2008

I Like Tool.

I like Tool, the band Tool. I like that their t-shirts are very accurate. Almost anytime you see a guy wearing a Tool t-shirt...sure enough!

Very accurate.

Food Is Happy!

For a moment, the last four ingredients swirling in the clear broth of my won ton soup - a long carrot sliver, two green circles of cut chive and a third chive that had been crushed into a triangle - came together in perfect alignment to form a happy face!

That's how I like to think of my food. Happy to be eaten! Like in various mascots painted on the side of roadside farm market stands, or in certain tv commercials. Whenever I eat tuna, I like to fantasize that it is in fact Charlie the Starkist Tuna.

Finally living his dream.

Batman, and Other Property Risks

When Batman comes crashing through the skylight in your building to kick somebody's ass, is Bruce Wayne going to pay for that shit?

You just know that by now, after a couple years of him smashing through windows, putting peoples' heads through walls, demolishing criminal hideouts (criminals rarely own the buildings in which they hide out) and grinding up every innocent rooftop between point A and point B with that damn Bat-Tank of his, every insurer in Gotham has a Batman exemption clause written right into the policy: "This policy does not cover damage due to acts of Batman, or due to the acts of any of Batman's foes."

I mean on the one hand, sure, it could get a little suspicious. Wayne always forking out for Batman damage. Could draw a little attention to the whole "secret." But if he doesn't pay - if his big secret is so much more important than what's RIGHT - then he isn't really much of a hero, is he?

No, he isn't. Not really.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Open Dream Journal #28: Come On, Michael

I had a dream where I had written a song for Usher or Kanye West, one of those guys, and the video for it was all shots of present-day Michael Jackson, but he had been sort of CGI'd into his own iconic past outfits and legendary moments, which ought to have looked really awful and sad, but something about how well it was done made you sort of feel for the guy. Kind of a nostalgia crossed with all-is-forgiven.

And the refrain was "Come on, Michael / tell your side / you know we all want to heeeeeeeaarrrr it..."

It was really touching, man. I was touched.

Monday, May 26, 2008

NEVER FORGET

NEVER FORGET

The Incredible Hulk: Too Late For A Great Idea?

I have to mention Ang Lee's Hulk since I've already established that as my catch-all "Hulk" tag.

Anyway, this next one is going in a different direction so they say, and it may be too late to suggest a great idea for that direction, but here it is: since Banner is being played by Ed Norton, they ought to make the Hulk look more like Ralph Kramden.

And instead of stuff like "Hulk SMASH!" he could say things like "Bang! ZOOM!" and "One of these days, General, ONE OF THESE DAYS...! POW!! Right in the kisser!"

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Homeland Security Warning: Train Spotting

I don't know about this for sure, but it seems like a potential gap in our defenses. How come airport security is so tight, but anybody can take the trains? We might need to beef up the situation, or at least do a thorough analysis to make sure we aren't vulnerable. What are we going to do if a group of determined terrorists decides to hijack trains and crash them into buildings?

Has this been looked into? Are we prepared? Do we have a contingency hole?

I sure hell hope so. But anyway, if we don't/aren't/haven't, I've just done my part to draw attention to the lapse.

Either that...or I've just given some evildoers a VERY BAD IDEA.

It's a risk I've been willing to take.

God Exists, and I'll Tell You Why

Ah yes, Sunday again, my weekly theology post. Today's topic: pretty basic, pretty essential. The topic is "God exists."

God exists, and we can know that for a fact because if God didn't exist, that would leave a God-sized hole in the universe, and as we all know, God being infinite, this would basically be an infinite hole - a hole with no end, bottomless as well as topless, a hole of limitless extent that would inexorably suck up everything else in the universe, and there we'd be: gone. The vanishments! Completely sucked up. Pretty dumb way to go, all because of claiming "no God."

But suppose someone were to argue, "well what if God never existed? God wouldn't leave a hole then, would He?" That's a good point, but really all that the word "never" means is "since before the beginning of time." So really you're just postponing your dilemma. Or to be more accurate, you might be said to be "pre-poning" your dilemma. You're taking the dilemma out of the present, and pushing it off way, way back into the past, before the past even - before the beginning of time. Think that helps your case? To push away your dilemma like that? Think again: okay, let's say for the argument that it's back before the beginning of time, and all of a sudden we have no God. Suddenly we're left with that same problem: there's your God-sized hole again, and this time it blooms into infinity even before eternity has a chance to kick in! The big bang would be swallowed up before it could even light its own fuse.

It's pretty clear from the evidence of the universe continuously unfolding uninterruptedly all around us that there is no God-sized hole. Obviously, God exists.

Now your quantum theoreticians might quibble: suppose there is a God-sized hole, infinite as you say, stretching in all directions but separated from us by a quantum vibrational frequency, such that the whole universe doesn't end up falling into it?

Well I say, that's a nice theory, BUD. But let's see some proof first!

Kind Regards Pt.2

Re my earlier post "With Kind Regards" - I think I thought of the best one. Next time somebody signs off to me with "kind regards," I am immediately going to upstage them in my reply:

Glorious regards,


I think that might drive the point home, ever so subtly. Or maybe not. Maybe they'll just think I'm the weird one.

Ah well. Take a risk getting up in the morning!

More Racially, Ethnically, or Otherwise Offensive Fast Food Menu Items

We're all familiar with the low, rumbling furor over Dairy Queen's "MooLatte" (a fine product, by the way - shame). But what about these other offensively-named menu items? Why has no alarm been raised?
• "Big Mac" - clearly some sort of obscure slur upon the Scots, as if to say, "You Scots! Big you are, maybe, but you have a useless layer of flavorless bread in the middle, and a predilection for freaky pink sauce!"

• The "Whopper" - originally named the "Wopper," in tribute to its popularity within the Italian-American community.

• "Papa Burger" - this is just sexist. A Papa Burger but no Mama Burger? Apparently A&W used to have a Mama Burger. But I guess they bowed to the forces of the pressures of our current dominant non-traditional family paradigm and gave Mama the heave-ho. Leaving a nation of burger lovers motherless. Burger-wise, at least.

• Wendy's "Chicken Temptations" - "temptations" is salacious enough. But when you consider that "chicken" is slang for "prostitute" in Cantonese, that's a one-two punch of FILTH! Plus as if that weren't bad enough, the "Frosty" used to be called the "Stiffy." At least, that's what we used to call it. It's so stiff! Too thick for a straw. It's like...the milkshake that eats like a meal.

• "Green Beans" - I kid you not. "Green Beans." At KFC, this is considered a "side." That's got to be more offensive than any 3 of these others combined.

Changed The Comment Settings

Who Can Comment?

One's options:

* Anyone - includes Anonymous Users
* Registered Users - includes OpenID
* Users with Google Accounts
* Only members of this blog

So originally, I'd selected the option allowing only those with blogger accounts to comment. A comment spam limitation measure. But now it looks like that option has converted to "Users with Google Accounts." Which makes sense, given the takeover.

So anyway. First I was thinking, throw the whole thing open for a while! See if the anonymous people get unmanageable. But then I thought - what the heck do I care what anonymous people have to say? No offense, but even the most forthright and altruistic anonymous commenter will be forced to admit that there are more dickheads posting as 'anonymous' than any other handle. But that aside. I oughtn't obstruct these other "Registered Users," whoever they may be. If they care to comment, and they've taken steps to be registered, then they should have a chance to have a say.

Anyway, that's it. I don't expect a huge deluge or anything, but I know when I try to comment on some thing out there in the wide world's web, it's always a little letdown that I can't. So do unto others, sir.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Did You Hear...? #1: BILL WATTERSON TO RELAUNCH CALVIN AND HOBBES!!

Did you hear this?: "BILL WATTERSON TO RELAUNCH CALVIN AND HOBBES"??? Did you hear that? Did you hear anyone say that!?

Wow, what a dream come true it would be for any comics aficionado to hear those words finally after all these decade! As we all know, Calvin was what...five years old when the strip ended in 1996? Well the way I heard it, the new strip picks up in his high school years. He's a hulking, surly teenager who keeps to himself, scowls a lot, and has a gory and lurid fantasy life that he documents in a series of cryptic illustrated journals.

The Hobbes doll - mildewed, stuffing poking out at the seams, fur worn through in patches, discolored and matted with patches of dust and with one arm nearly torn off hanging by a few threads - sits unused jammed into a dark corner of Calvin's bedroom closet, but that does not stop Hobbes from bedeviling Calvin, dogging his every step! Sometimes appearing as a ratty and mutilated version of his old self, sometimes as a nightmarish and ferocious full-grown tiger, occasionally as a faint, ghostly apparition of good old Hobbes as we knew him, only crestfallen and dejected. Hobbes takes ever more futile and drastic steps to right the young lad from the path he's started down, functioning as Calvin's tormented and ignored conscience as well as his spurned best friend.

Calvin no longer speaks aloud to Hobbes, but Hobbes's pleading and cajoling is a constant running commentary on Calvin's scowling descent into a black pit of sullen alienation punctuated by occasional outbursts of rage.

Susie pretty much does her best to keep off-panel.

It's going to be great! It's going to be hilarious! Did anyone else hear about this?

Am I the only one who heard about this?

Huh. Go figure.

Summit Fire Pt. 2

Which is not to say that the areas in the path of the blaze are any less important. The prayers of the blog go out to those whose homes and belongings are in peril. DON'T BE FOOLS. CLEAR OUT OF THERE.

Also, the brave men and women who put their lives on the line every day: you know what I'm getting at here. Good job.

Serious Questions For Science #2: Technically Not A "Dome," Probably

Let's say they construct a planetary dome. It would be at a distance of just about right out to the very edge of the toposphere (that's the one that's on top, right?). It is assumed that the structural integrity of the dome is sufficient to withstand whatever pressures are involved. Anyway, there's the dome, however bajillion thousand feet up it is - right up against the edge of space! Of the ol' "hard vacuum."

Which reminds me: another thing: as fast as this big blob of whirling rock and water is plummeting through space, are you trying to tell me that NONE of the atmosphere is bleeding off the back of the trajectory?? Not that this is my reason to suggest this dome. Far from it. That's an unrelated topic, despite how you might look at it and say the two topics intersect - and you'd be right! Well-spotted.

But back to the dome. So it would be constructed way up at the edge of space, with all the atmosphere on the inside. It would be an amazing feat of engineering no doubt. You'd have to build a bunch of struts and supports, and construct it in a framework that you would keep filling in, until - *click!* - the last piece fits into place.

Now here comes the question for Science: once the whole dome is complete, completely enclosing the Earth at a more or less uniform distance from the surface - (and here's the question) - could the supports be removed?

I mean, it wouldn't fall down at that point, would it? Gravity would be pulling it the same from all sides! Sure, the pull of the moon, maybe, but you could compensate for that. It wouldn't pull the whole thing down. Right? Right?

"Summit Fire" - Raging Out Of Control!! Run For Your Doomed Lives!!!

Okay, this is just completely dumb. Why do they keep saying the fire is near Hwy 17? They're just trying to curry hysteria. It's currently burning 10 miles West of Gilroy, and heading in the completely wrong direction to get to 17:
MapSummitFire
NOTE: FIRE IS NOT NEARLY AS BIG as the red circle on the map. At this point it's less than 3.5 square miles big. As it burns on through the night and into the weekend it's expected to get to about 10,000 acres or almost 16 square miles.

You can tell they're trying to get people all panicked when they express it in acres. Nobody really knows what an acre is. It's one of those old farm units that means "half again as big as the Jonsons' yard." But "10,000 acres!" sounds way worse than "almost 16 miles," so acres it is.

Anyway. Let's get a little calmness and factuality here. This blaze would have to switch directions and then burn through the entire Forest of Nisene Marks to get to Hwy 17. As it stands, according to the above map it appears to be heading out to sea, where the firefighters should be able to get it under control.

Further bulletins as events warrant.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Monday, May 19, 2008

So a Lot of People Have Asked Me, "Yeah, But What Do You Look Like?"

So I did a little self-portrait!

Self-Portrait

Actually, I've done a bunch of these. Reflective of my mood at the time.

This one's the most recent.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Whoops! It's Sunday.

Almost forgot my weekly theology post again. Let's see. What do I got.

I like to think of different people as like, different ideas that God had? Like, "what would this person be like? And then what would this person be like?" And then that's us! And then when we die, that's like God forgetting about you. Because you disappear! There might not be any afterlife in this version. At least, not such a traditional one maybe, but we can't know for sure? Because, we're just...as we're walking around in this world, or we think we are anyway, but really we are just thoughts in the mind of God! Beautiful thoughts flitting through God's mind! Isn't that a crazy idea? And then we die? We sort of wink out.

But we don't disappear completely because, God has a really good memory? And then sometimes, God would be like, "whatever happened to that guy?" And then *blink!* you're back! Just like that.

And that would be what Heaven is! God's memory of good times past?

God doesn't like to remember the bad times.

But it's just so crazy to think that God's mind is so complex, even His thoughts have feelings! Or we think we do. We think we have free will, too, or we think we do? I think we do. It's not like God is controlling everything down to the last t! He's just...He's letting His mind wander.

The Infinite Daydream.

Missing a Scene From Pulp Fiction

Yes, it would fit nowhere into the movie, but I'd still love to see it: the scene at Butch's, before Butch shows up.

Marsellus Wallace has set his empire in motion to track down the double-crossing Butch Coolidge, wherever he may flee upon the face of the earth. Meanwhile, Marsellus and Vincent Vega repair to the boxer's boxy apartment for a long-odds stakeout. They know - they know that this palooka isn't going to be coming back here! It's mostly just a pretext. Marsellus wants to hole up someplace where he can feel he's marginally on top of the search effort, but really he just wants to put it out of his mind while he takes the opportunity for him and Vincent to hang out, swap stories, and catch up from Vincent's time in Amsterdam.

I would have loved to see that scene! I'd love to see more of what their relationship is like. What's the dynamic between this too-cool hotheaded henchman and his ice-cold yet perversely affable kingpin boss? I'd expect a lot of fondly absurd banter, the Butch situation remaining tactfully undiscussed. Would Marsellus ask how Vincent's date went? Would Vincent's stomach drop like a stone, wondering whether and how much Marsellus knows? One gets the idea that Marsellus always knows a little too much for one's own good. But we feel that Mia kept her confidences. There would be nothing to worry about, no rift between these two. They're just chilling.

Until the fateful moment draws ever closer. Marsellus is going to say "Fuck it. I'm going to go get some coffees. Hold the fort down." That's going to sound perfect to Vincent. He'll request something mildly incongruous to go with it: "Hey, can you get me a croissant?"

"...a cwahsahnt...?"

"Yeah, a cwahsahnt."

Grins. "Yeah, [insert obscene or perhaps racist term of endearment]. I'll get you a damn croissant."

Vincent is going to look around thoughtfully, leaning back on the counter as the latch clicks shut behind Wallace. Brow creases. Reaches for his book.

Puts down the Mac-10.

Cue surf music.

What I Mean By "Art Is Mostly Dead" Pt.3

"Mostly dead, is partly alive." - Miracle Max

What I Mean By "Art Is Mostly Dead" Pt.2

...

Actually, I think I pretty much said everything in the part 1 post.

Maybe I should have broken it up a little. I expected it to divide itself neatly into parts, but it didn't seem to want to.

So, "Tah Dah!"

What I Mean By "Art Is Mostly Dead" Pt.1

First: what I mean by Art. I don't mean Music. I don't mean Literature. I don't mean Acting. I don't mean Film or Television, or any non-physical Transmitted Media. Certainly, these and many other things comprise The Arts, but when I talk of Art, I don't mean these things. I mean Painting first and foremost, plus assorted other Plastic Arts including Printmaking, Sculpture, and sometimes Photography and Architecture where there is a focus on applied artistic theory. Art with a capital "A" involves the creation* of an Art Object, be it functional or useless, be it 2-D image or 3-D form.

Design designs, Media publishes, Broadcasting broadcasts, but Art creates.

That's Art. I think most people are with me on this. I think most people have a vague sense that when writers, actors, directors, musicians forever refer to themselves as "artists," they are being pretentious. Whether the term "artist" is technically applicable or not (it is), it's not the best term to use. And not only are they being pretentious - their pretentiousness betrays a deep and troubling lack of confidence in the value of their own field. And consequently, of their work! It can be nothing but a mark of insecurity for a writer to refer to himself an artist. If you were truly a writer, you would never aspire to being called merely "an artist"! A writer knows that to be a Writer is a greater thing than to be some artist.

People only began referring to all creatives - writers, actors, musicians, directors, etc. - individually as "artists" once Art ceased to be of any colossal cultural relevance. There was (essentially) no Art anymore - no Art that mattered. Remember, at the height of Modernism, Art held a position at the pinnacle of prestige and influence within Western culture. Art was considered intellectually and indeed, morally superior to all the other creative fields that comprise the arts. After Art's de facto abdication, the allure of that mystique was still strong. Something had to fill the vacuum, and it's no surprise that all the other creatives tried to crowd onto the vacated throne like so many empty-head conformist 1950's teenagers into a phone booth.

Art's abdication was by no means a willing abdication, but it was in some sense chosen. Art bought into its own press, planned the path of its own demise, and never once seriously looked back. The path of Modernism was an insanely fruitful one, but ultimately (and irrevocably) a dead end. At the dawn of Modernism, Art Theory was given ascendancy over Art. The first aim of Art was no longer to create an object of beauty, inspiration, or contemplation. Art's true (perhaps only) aim was determined to be the advancement of Art Theory. Every Artist a trailblazer! No trail to be trod twice!

Inevitably, such an ethos yielded a relentless narrowing of focus. Theories were conceived, exploited, bled dry of all possible variations, and discarded. No one wanted to be tarred with the epithet derivative. No turning back! No nostalgia except where sufficiently snide. Art's scope diminished and diminished, as avenues for intellectual exploration and formal experimentation were used up and left behind. Art descended: from breaking boundaries, thence to pushing envelopes, finally to inhabiting margins.

Within the world of today's Art, Art is not respected that has not marginalized itself. Art must be accessible to the cognoscenti alone. This is quite sad, when you think about it. Art, gone from setting the tone for global trends, to providing grist for gossip or fodder for capital investment to tiny pockets of far-flung cosmopolitan socialites, would-be intellectuals, and plutocrats of a certain pseudo-sophisticate bent. This redefinition was forced upon Art for Art's own sake, as a necessary measure - but it has been gladly embraced; with relief, embraced! There was no other way to save face, but to change the rules of the game. When cutting-edge Art saw that it could no longer excite, appeal to, or influence the masses, because it had run out of all novel theories except for the frankly stupid ones, Art resorted to the only available cop-out: the people are Philistines. They just don't get Art. It's their own fault, for being so dense and unsophisticated.

It's not, of course. It's Art's own fault. The blame falls square. Art does not matter, because Art chose not to matter. The path ahead was laid out the moment novelty became more important than quality, and the path behind was forever blocked by all of the (admittedly transcendent) masterworks produced, before the flames from all those burning bridges caught up to the avant garde. There was no way to reverse course without repudiating all of Modernism's achievements - the very achievements that had elevated Art to the peak of its prestige and influence in the first place! There is no other historical conception of Art or Art's role that looks likely to attain to that peak, and so we're stuck with what we've got: Art's embarrassingly rich legacy, married to Art's embarrassingly impotent, inconsequential status quo.

It's not really a paradox, it's not really a quandary, it's just kind of stupid and unfortunate. Art is just kind of stupid and unfortunate. Art is an embarrassment, now.

I can't imagine why anyone would want to call himself or herself an Artist. I can only guess that it's an attempt to glom onto that grand legacy. As if the work one is doing today is even remotely comparable to what was accomplished by those bygone giants. As if the work one is doing today is powerful enough to distract from the stink and the taint of what Art is now. Anyone who thinks their work is good enough to pull that off...that's exactly what people mean by pretentious.

Don't go back. Go forward. Not to advance Art - for the sake of your work.

Be a painter. Be a sculptor.

Be a writer.

Be an actor.

Don't be an Artist.

Art Is Mostly Dead

Well, it is. Come on! Anybody can see that. Name one Artist. Working today. Who has anything like the prestige and influence on western culture that Picasso, Matisse or even Klee or Mondrian - even Dali! Pollock! Lichtenstein! Warhol! - had at their height!

See, that last part makes it unfair, doesn't it! But why should it? Why can't we field even one guy, one girl who can compete with the past on even footing?

I'll tell you why.

It is because Art Is Mostly Dead.

Sexual Dysfunction Fetish Update

Okay! So anyway, after the previous post on the topic, I had to break down, hold my nose, cover my eyes and take a peek at whether this fetish already existed in googleable form.

Doesn't look like it! "Sexual dysfunction fetish" scored a mere 25 hits, and apart from my blog post, every single hit looked to be just a coincidental placement of "sexual dysfunction" adjacent to "fetish" in a list of perverted words or a plausible sentence-like context. None of them seemed to refer to any actual Fetish for Sexual Dysfunction.

So I guess I invented it!

I can feel proud of myself now.

A Comedy That's "Laugh Out Loud Funny!"

I don't understand the prevalence of this as a DVD-box blurb. Some critic or other confirms that the comedy in question is indeed "Laugh-Out-Loud Funny!" Sometimes with hyphens, sometimes not. But the point is, what kind of a ringing endorsement is that? Isn't it rather faint praise? Shouldn't we consider the generation of at least a little audible laughter to be a sort of bare-minimum criteria for anything to be hailed as "funny"?

I mean, if I don't laugh out loud at least once...how funny was it, really? I'm guessing "not very." At best we're talking "Chuckle-Inwardly Amusing."

Serious Questions For Science #1: Good-Bye Galaxy!

Okay, here's one: If something unimaginable ATE the ENTIRE MILKY-WAY except for our own dear solar system, what if any effect would that have on us?

Clarification #1: by "ate" I mean nothing left, nothing at all

Clarification #2: I'm talking about the galaxy not the candy bar

It's a serious question! Maybe not serious in the sense that "it could actually happen." More like, serious in the sense of "what if it did?"

I'm thinking we'd be able to see whatever's behind that huge damn thing a whole lot better.

Sexism Is Daring; Edgy

Damn. Great post title like that and absolutely no justification for it.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

May Is Decidedly Not Poetry Month

Sin Once

Sin once was a jungle, a
wide, chaotic garden
tended only by beasts
and God. Now, it is
an orchard we have

pruned, to bring
forth fruits in
fecund abundance, their
tart juices grown tame,
fertilized
by method and attention
pleasure by the bushel yield
harvested, bled dry,
free and easy, cheap.
Tasteless.

We need to try neglect.

Let the orderly rows grow
over, wound and vined
and brambled in with
beautiful weeds
forbidden trees again
grown wild, grown wicked
in their re-abandonment
grown overgrown

until we, the prodigal
gardeners, return to
the scene of temptation
and find it again
delicious. But really,
though - we know neglect.

It's just another method

Decreasingly Unlikely Sexual Fetishes

I remember reading a review of Cronenberg's Crash that noted the movie was based on a sexual fetish that nobody actually has. I also remember a conversation to the effect that no matter how far out, any fetish you could conceive of is already out there. Somebody's got it, somebody's getting off on it. Actually, the term in use might have been "perversion" rather than the decidedly more square and tame "sexual fetish." But perversion has fallen out of fashion lately, somehow. I blame the Puritans.

Anyhow! This was one that I came up with at that time, then promptly or perhaps, gradually forgot all about: Sexual Dysfunction Fetish! I wonder if anyone has caught this one yet?

I don't think I'm going to check. I think that to find the truth, I'd have to venture into danker corners of the internet than I'd really want to sink into.

It would make for a funny sort of porn, though! Certainly not "hardcore."

Ahem.

Quasi-Biblical Musings - And A Slammer Of A Novel/Movie Idea!

Those gnostic gospels are a riot! One of them (Gospel of Thomas?) has all these great stories about Jesus as a kid, travelling around turning stuff into flowers, bringing statues to life with a clap of his hands, basically performing nonsense miracles hither and yon all over Galilee (or was it Judea?). Ironic that the incredulous Thomas would pen such yarns! There's also a second gnostic gospel of Thomas, completely different, by an unrelated evangelist (or more accurately, re-vangelist).

Crypto-theologians love these things. They especially love conflating theories from disparate and conflicting traditions, without regard to whether they mesh. They take whatever fringe tidbits they can find to support their pet scenario, discarding the absolutely central elements that don't fit.

Perfect example: using gnostic gospels to support your view of Mary Magdalene as Jesus's consort is well and good, if you regard the gnostic tradition as reliable. But how can you regard that tradition as reliable when your other central contention is that Jesus was not divine? That would be anathema to the gnostic tradition, which if anything would be more likely to deny Jesus' humanity than his divinity!

It's that 'postmodern' school of scholarship via collage. I mean, I love a novel that overlays a ripping tale with a light pseudo-historical gloss as much as the next guy. But poor scholarship like this - seriously, even stridently presented - just leaves you feeling duped when you take the trouble to dig a little deeper. You end up feeling dubious about any scholarship that seeks to draw real-world historical conclusions from gnostic apocrypha.

Somebody needs to write a novel (or hell, just skip the novel and go straight to the screenplay) along these same lines, except instead of endorsing all this fanciful dreck, they would be exposing these shoddy, spurious theoreticians for the incoherent pastiche merchants that they are. The hero could be Fr. Theo Desmondos, Jesuit Ninja and Mystery Archaeologist! He works for the Vatican, helping them hoard their secret truth by travelling the world, stealing faked artifacts and thwarting myth-chasing new age propagandists! Expounding thick reams of exposition all the way, he points out the deficiencies of this or that particular myth to his sexy new sidekick/audience stand-in/travelling companion/implied love interest (totally chaste, now, totally chaste - not only because he's a serious priest, but also because Fr. Theo sports a truly unfortunate haircut that's hard to describe...sort of...sculpted, yet...bushy). Each mission would feature a different neophyte sidekick "caught up in the mystery" (handily allowing Fr. Theo to expound to his heart's content every damn adventure, since if he kept the same sidekick each time out, longtime readers would begin to think she must be an idiot to keep so wide-eyed incredulous about it all). And in-between missions (which Fr. Theo calls "my little pilgrimages"), he holds breezy conversations with Jesus Christ at his secret Tuscan villa!

I'll call it The Michaelangelo Principle, or The Raphael Files, or The Donatello Conspiracy. Or some similar crap like that. You know. Exploiting the Teenage-Mutant-Turtle tie-in.

By the way, that's Fr. Theo's secret Tuscan villa - not Jesus Christ's secret Tuscan villa. Although that might be even cooler. The real hidden truth about Jesus is, he never left! He's been taking it easy, living high on the hog at his secret Tuscan villa.

Seriously. How Cool Would That Be.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Too Much To Ask?

I just want to punch somebody in the face in some context that would make me a hero for doing it.

"Mister...I Gots to Know."

You know what? It's a little hard to believe that Dirty Harry, at the end of the movie when he's got Scorpio dead to rights, would then recite the entire legendary "Do I Feel Lucky" monologue again, word-for-word from earlier in the movie. Especially since Harry's pretty worked up right then, pretty overwrought. The first time he unspooled that little verbal ditty to the bank robber, he was just talking shit off the top of his head, enjoying himself and the moment. Finishing his hot dog. But in the scene at the end, his nerves are rubbed raw. He's through with this punk, and the world at large. He's on the verge of throwing his...in fact, he does throw his badge away. You can't tell me Harry Callahan's going to stand there at a moment like that, reach within himself and pull out a prepared soliloquy for the occasion.

Let alone the fact that quite a long time had passed by then, since he first said it. What did he do, memorize it on the spot? Rehearse it a couple times later? Dirty Harry doesn't seem like the type to run home after a hard day's violence and say "You know, that was a great speech I laid on that punk earlier. I need to write that one down in my Taunt Journal!"

The repetition here smacks of nothing more than young 70's Hollywood's nascent awareness of the Pop Culture cachet attached to a sweet catchphrase or sound bite, if you can feature and market it right. Some script wizard said, "hey, that's a great speech! We gotta see if we can work that in again someplace. Audiences will eat that up, people are going to go for this speech in a major groovy way." Or some similar 70's smooth-hype talk. And you know what, the guy who said that was right! - about the speech. It's a great speech. But the thing is, while that may be a reason for them to put a speech in twice, it's not any kind of a reason for Harry Callahan to say it that second time. They created an iconic character over 90 minutes or whatever, a guy who is no-bullshit, irate righteousness incarnate. Then in the last reel, they have him reciting his big speech like a local theater type eager to try out his delivery on you. It rings a little false.

They didn't realize the power and purity of what they had created, maybe. They figured "hey, it punches up the moment! So it's a false character note, who cares?" But the problem is, the better job you do creating a character, the less leeway you have to fudge actions and motives.

I suppose it is just possible that, as with Jules Winfield's own personal version of Ezekiel 25:17, Harry has just been saying this speech for years. Maybe he just trots it out because it's a cold-blooded thing to say to a mother fucker, right before you pop a cap in and/or arrest his ass. But even for Harry...isn't it a bit of a stretch, to think he finds himself in enough of these situations to make it worth the effort? Situations where he can stand there at his leisure, reeling off a sweet speech to a guy he's shot at six times? (Or...was it only five...?)

I don't know. If this is really the kind of guy Callahan is, preparing monologues in advance to spring on unsuspecting perps at the peak dramatic moment...I'd have wanted to see a few scenes that spotlighted this whole theatrical side of his a little more. Maybe he could have done a little Shakespeare in the park in between suspensions.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Tom Cruise IS...The Scientologer

There's only one way for Tom Cruise to rehabilitate his struggling image: with a big-budget crowd-pleasing blockbuster film that makes a ton of money. And as we know, what's big now? Superhero flicks.

I've got a script that's a win-win, both for Cruise's tarnished box-office clout and for his cherished, deeply-held beliefs. Get ready world: TOM CRUISE IS...The SCIENTOLOGER.

That's right! You already get the idea, but let me lay it out for you. Hot young WASP actor struggles to make good amidst the petty backbiting and personal reversals that make up life in Hollywood. Then one evening without warning, this mild-mannered and deeply heterosexual golden boy ends up caught in a freak explosion, or doused with meteor dust from planet Exo Spangula, or bitten by a radioactive Scientologist...we're still workshopping the particulars...the upshot of it all is that suddenly he spontaneously attains all the core innermost precepts of Scientology, instantly "going clear," destroying his reactive mind, and becoming endowed with abilities well beyond those which he normally considers he possesses!

He then launches a one-man campaign to right wrongs brought upon the weak and gullible by various misguided aspects of society such as psychiatry, or the mentally ill, or the pregnant. Wait. Scratch that, it would be even better if he concentrated on battling colorful costumed adversaries such as evil mastermind Doctor Engram, or The Scientologer's dread arch-nemesis, Suppressive Person.

Watch out, evildoers! This Summer, for The Scientologer - the bad guys are "Fair Game"!

I Gotta Tell You Pt.2

So I was driving yesterday, or was I...was I driving when I thought of this? Maybe I was drifting on the edge of sleep, about to dream of driving. Maybe I was driving, but about to nod off. No, that couldn't have been the case! I don't do that, that's messed up. Could KILL somebody! Anyway, I was either driving or falling asleep yesterday (but not both), when it occurred to me - this was one of those cases where the train of thought was more memorable than whatever I was doing at the time the train of thought rolled through, you see, that's why the difficulty remembering - anyway, it occurred to me that...

Shit. Shit! Now I can't remember. It was pretty arresting at the time let me tell you!

Dang.

Thoughts on Success

Success is easy. It's getting success that's hard.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

The Proof That God Doesn't Exist

The only thing that could prove God doesn't exist, would be if God himself came down and said, "Look, People - I Don't Exist. I Just Don't."

That would prove it, because He doesn't lie.

And any nonbelievers, anyone who would disbelieve in God not existing, even when He just said it - when He proved it right there, in His very Word - well, those people are heathens and blasphemers. Hypocrites, too! Probably hypocrites. I have to untangle it a little to be sure.

But we wouldn't care at that point. Since we'd have to kind of ease up on all of that stuff by then, what with God not existing at all.

Anyway, that's when I'll believe it. When that happens.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

The Looming Specter of Marriage

When I get married, it will be because a powerful coalition of interests have cynically chosen me as the best conduit through which to cement their alliance.

There will also be a girl involved. Chosen for similar reasons, but with an additional emphasis on hotness.

We will be but pawns.

Minorly Disconcerting Thought Of The Day

Do I overuse the word "epiphany"??

Or...do I just have a lot of epiphanies.

Non-Specific Rant

These unspecified mutha thumpas really cheese me off! Them and those damned actions and statements of theirs! Clearly calculated to annoy. If they were right here right now I would threaten unspecified action against them - leaving the implication hanging out there that such action might even be violent or at least, threatening! Then I would toss around such insults as "You jerk!", "Your intelligence is insufficient to the task appointed to you by cruel Fate!" and "Pick on your own damn size for a change!" Or perhaps, "your face looks like something ugly that somebody left behind!"

Now, if anyone here might have taken offense, or if certain things that were said in the above rant were taken personally, well, that just goes to show what you know.

Whew! Man that feels good. To get that out of my system!

Friday, May 09, 2008

Tips for Aspiring Short Story Writers

You want to know a sure-fire way to add dramatic impact to a short story you're writing? Drop a baby on its head.

I'm serious, I've read like 2 or 3 short stories lately where they drop a baby on its head. It works. It's like money in the bank, drama-wise. Instant dramatic heft. There are always all these emotional repercussions, and - well, there would be, wouldn't there? You drop a baby on its head, come on! There are going to be some repercussions.

The first time I came across this little trick in a short story, by the time I finished the story I cried! Literally. Cried tears. It was undeniable! Tragic. Even if you're not a sentimentalist like me, that's going to get you. You're just minding your business, reading a short story, suddenly they drop a baby on its head - whoa! That's a grabber!

Now the second time, they didn't really pull it off as neatly. So it didn't have quite the same impact, but it was still one hell of a gut-punch! How could it not be? Just remember, if you're going to drop a baby on its head, you have to pull it off with some style. Make the most of the opportunity. You're pulling out the big guns, there - don't waste it! Don't cheapen the effect with a half-assed effort. No matter how great a plot point or an incident you have up your sleeve, you always have to deliver the goods, writing-wise! You can't just drop a baby on its head and think you're home free. You need to do it with panache. And yet...just from the incident alone, it's so charged that you start off way ahead of the game! It's like writing downhill. Pull it off with a even little panache, and you can ride that momentum all the rest of the way.

The third time - now, I didn't actually see three stories. There were only two that I could swear to. Sometimes you may say "2 or 3," even though you know the number is two, but you choose to say "2 or 3" because you want to convey that additional emphasis. That's another example of good writing ratcheting up the impact a bit.

For a while now I've been planning on writing a book of short stories. I had a sweet title idea for it and everything! In fact, getting the title idea was the only reason I wanted to do a book of short stories in the first place. It was that good. But then when I noticed this baby thing, I started to think I might put that in there. Something like that...see, short stories are a difficult form. You need to pack your stories with an emotional jolt. That extra boost could mean the difference between getting published! I figure I could probably get away with dropping a baby on its head in like, half the stories. Maybe in a couple of the stories, that would be the main focus. In the rest of them it could just be a secondary thing, or an element in the backstory, or maybe just happening in the background or something.

Because I'll tell you what: it's a guaranteed gut-wrencher no matter how you do it! How could it not be.

So that's one tip. If you think about it, you can probably come up with some others yourself.

Thursday, May 08, 2008

The Black Keys Are Like the AC/DC of Being Themselves

If asked, if pressed, I would like to put the Black Keys on the same basic level as AC/DC. Albeit, the level itself is sort of...tilted, and the Black Keys would be over on the down end, whereas AC/DC would be over on the top end of it. I guess some people might say that's unfair, to put them both on that same tilted level together. But that's not how I see it. I say it's fair.

When I say that, what I mean is that within their respective oeuvres, they both manage to keep all their albums sounding about the same. Album to album, pretty much the same. Which is a sweet trick if you can pull it off with a great sound and decent songs! And nobody else would claim otherwise, where these two greats are concerned - lest they get a crack across the mouth for that.

Which is a definite threat. Don't mess with me on this. That's right.

Now when I say "greats," I really should clarify, or to be more precise, contradict myself: AC/DC is "a great." The Black Keys...they may get there one day. Right now, they're a great band already, but not perhaps yet "a great."

So for any confusion I may have occasioned with my remarks on that score, glad we got that straightened out.

Infamy At A Pool Hall

The people I play pool with are a bunch of fucking pigs, man. You be the judge. Here are some actual remarks that were heard spoken, aloud, often in an audibly loud voice, by some of us guys playing pool. I'm not talking about at the other tables! I'm talking about at my table - just the group of guys that I was a part of, playing pool! Is that some messed up stuff or what? That I could countenance that, that I could deign to stamp that with my implicit lick of approval! I mean lick...like one would lick a stamp. You know. Stamp. Lick? Okay, maybe you'll think I lost the metaphor on that one, but just you read for yourself, you be the judge:

Actually you know what, I'm going to include some examples of not-necessarily piggish trash-talking mixed in as well, along with the more overt piggishness, just to give you more of the flavor of the whole atmosphere.

:
"Whenever I see a girl with a BIG ASS - you know, a real big ass? And some nice, real tight jeans on them and it looks real good? I always get a little suspicious. Because...what's really holding what up, there? The ass or the jeans?" (I should point out that no one said "True Dat" at this point - but they might just as well have)

"You can look at your watch for a thousand hours straight, son, but it ain't EVER going to be time for you to kick my ass, SON."

"You know, if I had a gay lover? She would probably be one of those with the short haircut, you know? When it comes to lesbians I prefer the butch ones. Otherwise what's the point - where's the exotic component?"

"I find if you put a little effort into cultivating the minor enthusiasms, it goes a long way towards offsetting the major disappointments." - "Yeah?" - "Yeah, I think so." - "Maybe that's a sign good has more of an effect than evil...?" - "Yeah? COULD BE, motherfucker!" - "Indeed."

"Eight off the twelve, corner."

"You know what I like about Playboy? It's the blatant objectification of women in a sexual context."

"Four in the side." - "Bullshit."

"You know how sometimes you look at a girl you know, and you look at her, and you can suddenly just see what she's going to look like twenty years down the road? You can already see what she's going to look like old? Now that can be a pretty freaky moment when that happens. But when you think about it it's not nearly as sad as when you look at a woman and say man...she was real cute, real hot ten years ago. That's a kind of a wistful melancholy right there man."

"I gotta apologize, I almost said something real mean to you there, Dan. But I couldn't think of anything good."

April Is Poetry Month Pt. 3 or is it 4 (belated)

Every Now And Then, A Noose

Every now and then a noose
drops from the sky and strangles a guy
right before he can say the three
most important words of his life.
Now when that happens - as his feet
kick out sideways and he's lifted
hovering a foot off the earth,
twisting, trying to make gurking noises
("gurk! gurk!") eyes bugging out,
neck straining, head back unable
to see the rope, to see what its attached to -
what is going through his mind? Is it
"oh no - no! Not now! I did not get
the chance to tell her: 'I love you'?"
Fuck no. It's "get this fucking noose
off me!" I mean, let's be real here.
Love is a luxury you can only pause
to consider when you're not in the process
of being being choked to death
by
a
mysterious
airborne
noose.

Little Known Facts #2: Plagiarism

Little Known Fact: the word "plagiarism" was originally the first completely made-up word inserted into a text by an early printer to trip up a rival who was copying on the sly. Prior to that, the word had no meaning.

That printer's name? Ben Franklin.

Occasionally these days, people use entire made-up stories for the same purpose.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

My Songs Are More Than Adequate

Nobody plays my songs like I play my songs. Nobody even hears my songs - not like I do. I write my songs like nobody else ever BETTER write them, because these songs are MINE, dig? Nobody else can be writing my songs. Not like I do.

Not that they're like, 70's influenced. Such as one might suppose from the whole "dig" bit.

One of these days I might RECORD one of my songs, post it up right on HERE. I would record one - I would pick a good one, I would record...I can't tell you the title yet, it's copyright. But I assure you, I have 300 plus songs, EASY. That's no joke - I'm SERIOUS. And of those songs, which, I said 300? It's more like 350. At least 20 of those are very, very good.

Or very good, at a minimum. That's enough for a greatest hits album! Easy.

But you can't just record a greatest hits album and put it out there. Half the people would be like "what albums are all these great songs from?" and the other people would be waiting for the followup.

And then what would you do?

See. I can't record yet. I have to write more SONGS.

I Gotta Tell You

I gotta tell you. I got to share something with you here. Something personal.

I was...I was sitting right there, and the couch, I was on the couch...she said...and...inside, I could feel that I had...

You know what, never mind. Fuck it.

Monday, May 05, 2008

The Positive Thought Process #3: Advertising Is The Key

In a transparent attempt to increase my readership, I am turning to advertising. And where better to advertise than right here on this blog? That's right folks. Any of these links you see here on this page - click those links, and your clicks will keep adding up on my counter as revenue! Well, not revenue, specifically. Although I guess I could pay myself a percentage of the profits for whatever traffic I bring in.

Look, that's not the point. The point is: Advertising. I'm right here, telling you: READ this blog. CLICK the links. SEE where they take you. WHO better to believe than ME, telling you this?? Each click costs your finger only 3 muscles - if that. Yet when you smile, that costs PLENTY. You use practically every muscle in your face when you smile. So you could look at that two ways: depending on whether you want to be the kind of person who smiles a lot and doesn't mind having a really over-exercised, 'cut,' beefed-up and rippling face, or you're the kind of person who'd rather ignore the obvious in favor of avoiding the facts. Whichever kind of person you are - this blog is for you! How could it not be? See how well I just described you!

See, I figured something out. A lot of people out there, they want me to FAIL. They think that if I fail, that will go to show I didn't have what it takes in the first place. But that's just where they're wrong: because I had PLENTY of what it takes. I just took what it takes and made the crucial mistake of doing the wrong thing with it. That's right: I sold out in order to achieve success. And people hate that. There's nothing they hate more. Result: failure.

And that's one thing I do not tolerate. I won't tolerate failure. In fact, I just use that failure to fuel my drive! Then I turn the whole thing around, and redefine the parameters of success until it's clear that I have already succeeded - by definition.

You just can't stop a guy who is capable of thinking like that.

Not safely, anyhow.

Announcing the Drastic Reorganization of this Blog

From now on, it's a shattered paradigm approach here at Consider Your Ass Kicked! Instead of the tightly-centralized creative engine we've enjoyed the fruits of thus far, instead of that, you'll be treated to the ever fuller, riper fruits of our new dynamic, non-concentric, decentralized parallel non-intersecting business model. Instead of just me, typing, whatever comes into my collective head, I will be compartmentalizing and separating my various...you know...mind parts...into the following divisions or I guess you could say, "departments":

· Research & Development

· Marketing

· Advertising

· Purchasing

· Sales

· Manufacturing

· Feeling

I have been named Executive VP of each of these sections, organized under the leadership of an Acting CEO to be named later.

In the interim, things will be proceeding precisely as usual.

Open Dream Journal #27: Remembering My War Buddies

This was an epic sort of dream. I was running around in near pitch black on a network of wooden catwalks and bridges that were suspended across and around the edges of a canyon. The canyon was roughly rectangular in shape, but rounded off at the corners. In what dim light there was, you could see that tall grasses covered the canyon floor, reaching to a height almost halfway up to the catwalks.

I knew I was being hunted. The enemy was trying to locate me in this maze of darkness! The overall effect was similar to a Medal of Honor type game, where you run around shooting people and waiting to get shot, except...I couldn't seem to find anybone to shoot and/or to shoot me.

Then the tenor of the whole desperate race changed, and I was just trying to find my way out of there! Because I was now convinced that Godzilla was coming any minute.

Somehow I must have found my way out of there, because next I knew, I was safe in a trench with my war buddies, swapping stories. I didn't really have a good story to swap, so I listened. My one war buddy was telling us about the time he saw Silverado. He recounted the whole plot, right up to where the one main guy was giving up, leaving town to head back East "to civilization". At that point, the movie just ends - the screen goes black, no resolution whatsoever. I was like, "man, that sucks!" But my war buddy disagreed, saying "Nope, they were just being true to the original story as written by mister Mark Twain. He was in the middle of writing it when he died." Which set me straight, I guess.

I'm still not in any hurry to see it in real life, though!

Next the scene changed, and my war buddy (the one who saw Silverado) was with a group of dignitaries meeting with high-level Chinese cold war detente diplomats. All of the dignitaries had lavish and significant gifts to give the Chinese diplomats. My war buddy gave them a quarter. At first you would think this was a slight. But then, he explained the special significance of this particular quarter, and you kept getting a close-up of the quarter as he was explaining it.

The dream kind of backed-up and forthed a couple times here, with different explanations of the quarter, each time with a new closeup. It was 1946, or then 1976, or then a quarter with the year of my war buddy's birth - each time there was something different on the quarter, creating the impression that different quarters in the old days had different 'heads' facings as well as special mottos on the face. One of the quarters showed a company of soldiers in loose formation, tromping through high grasses along the floor of a canyon. It bore the motto "HOW BOUT THEM COWBOYS" - who knew that Jimmy Johnson stole that quote from a WWII-era quarter!

After this, I was standing in a shallow cave in a canyon wall, watching a grim mass of soldiers make their way past through the high grass. Ben Franklin looked dismayed at the loose formation of soldiers walking along in drips and packs, some with rifles shouldered, others held in both hands, others slung across backs. As Ben groused about this, there was a sort of a musical jingle in the background accompanied by fife-flutes: "what sort of com-pan-ies are these?" Then two kids who were there set Ben straight: "No sir, Mister Franklin - this is the safest army in the history of the world! Meaning they keep us safest. I learned it in school!" Ben seemed very pleased to hear this. He immediately dropped all complaint, smiling and nodding amiably and clearly now proud of the ongoing military legacy of the nation he helped to birth.

The dream ended up with me in the Old West, as one of the Mexicans being hunted by a grim company of soldiers. We had sheltered in a cave hidden by tall grasses - sharing the cave with a pride of mountain lions - but the soldiers had tracked us right to the hilltop that the cave was burrowed into/under. One of the mountain lions heroically sacrificed itself by charging out, which was supposed to make the leader of the soldiers say "dang it, we thought we were tracking Mexicans - but we've been tracking lions!" after the soldiers all finished shooting the lion. We thought it worked, but then the soldiers rolled in a big lit bundle of dynamite, right into the cave mouth.

I forget what happened next, but it can't have been good.

Hulk Pants

Okay, I know Ang Lee's Hulk caught flack over those purple stretch pants he wore, but at least they made it plausible for him not to be rampaging bare ass naked with his Lil' Hulk flapping in the breeze. I mean, mere human pants cannot contain the Hulk! A Lou-Ferrigno-sized hulk, maybe - but not a Hulk-size Hulk. So Ang Lee's Hulk ended up wearing purple stretch shorts that were huge and baggy on Banner, but snug on the green guy when he Hulks up.

Now, in the poster for the upcoming Incredible Hulk,...the Hulk is wearing jeans. The Hulk is wearing jeans. And they fit. He's clearly like, two or three times the size...I mean, it would take all the fabric in Norton/Banner's Levis to cover one thigh of this big green behemoth.

All I'm saying is, when the film comes out, they better explain how it's possible.

JEANS.

Sunday, May 04, 2008

The Tough Topics #6: Evolution

I think it's pretty clear that if you really examine the evidence, a close reading-between-the-lines of the Genesis account shows that we evolved from apples.

Not apes. Apples.

See, sometimes it's something as simple as that. Darwin makes one dumb mistake, and everybody's bashing each other for years over it!

Come on. Apes. What are we, living in a reverse science-fiction movie?

Vast Zero Wing Conspiracy

This video is pretty sweet, look was I found:



I'm thinking, a video like that...you could start a craze with something of that caliber. Potentially.

Saturday, May 03, 2008

Iron Man: Hero Or Drunk?

Iron Man rocks. Robert Downey Jr. rocks. I knew my boy Favreau wouldn't let me down after the job he did on Elf! After I saw Elf, I said "go get this guy Iron Man. He can do the job."

This was the most well-paced superhero film I've ever seen, and I saw Super Fuzz.

I tell you, they start you right out in the thick of it. Throw you right into the mix. Then the flashback, "how did we get here?" But they kept that shit BRIEF and ON-POINT. And the whole "origin scene" bit...normally the most boring part of the superhero movie - where they spend 30 minutes laying ten layers of bricks to try to support your suspension of disbelief later as to how mortal man can do such feats - well, the whole "how did he get that way?" portion of this film is a joy to watch! They make it interesting, exciting, and (in an alternate-dimension-where-one-guy-can-design-and-build-a-complex-integrated-system-from-scratch, each-of-the-most-minor-components-of-which-would-take-decades-to-develop-in-our-world sort of way) even plausible.

It didn't even matter that the big fight at the end was a shot-for-shot remake of the climax of Robocop II. It still worked like a charm. Except I wasn't sure just how exactly Lex Luthor's limbs were supposed to be situated in that suit.

Downey's Tony Stark is what we've been missing in our superhero millionaire alter-egos. Let's face it, Bruce Wayne never has any damn fun with his money! His whole existence is a self-inflicted Lenten penance for not stopping his parents from getting shot when he was like five. And his whole emotional life's growth was arrested right then and there! Even when he looks like he's having fun, he's only pretending to have fun. It's his cover. Stark, on the other hand, is a grownup: a man who may be a driven genius, but he lives to blow off steam - and he takes advantage of the means at his disposal to do so. He's a man whose conflict stems not from childhood trauma, but from the consequences of his own actions as an adult. And when he realizes what he needs to do, it isn't some pre-adolescent's magnified vengeance-personified fantasy crusade. It's just what he has to do, to clean up his own mess. It's maturity.

At this point it becomes semi-obligatory for me to concede that as badass as Iron Man clearly is, and as plainly ludicrous as it is on the face of things to say this, the fact nevertheless remains that Batman can "beat him in a fight." Batman is assumed to have a tricky well-crafted foolproof plan all set and ready to go to take down ANY superhero, even the ones that work for other comics companies and, consequently, do not operate in Batman's universe. Batman doesn't care. Batman is ready regardless.

Performances strong all around. Gwynnie Paltrow does her thing to perfection in this one, and somehow it works anyway. Lex Luthor does a great job as Obidiah Stane, even growing a beard for that extra layer of evil. Terrence Howard as Rhodey "Jim" Rhodes provides a surprisingly human moral center. Usually when a black guy plays the moral center sidekick to the flawed hero, they make him kind of off-puttingly polly-pureheart perfect. Then they kill him. But Rhodey's a flesh and blood, funny guy. Then they kill him.

No, I'm kidding. Then they let him live. For now.

But the key to it all is the man in the suit. I can't imagine this film with any other actor in the lead. Robert Downey Jr. is Tony Stark.

SPOILER ALERT!

Tony Stark is IRON MAN.

Hole In The Ice

A Nice Potential Niche for Me

I would like to be a professional picketer. Union, of course. I want to belong to the Picketers Union. We would be called in and paid to picket, any time a union found itself in need of picketers and the actual striking union members were either insufficiently numerous or disinclined. We wouldn't charge our union brethren and cistern too much for the service. Solidarity.

This would be a sweet gig! I would be in a constant state of fighting the righteous fight, laying it all on the line every day that I was on the job. And I would be the best, most effective picketer on the line! I can come up with good shouting slogans all the time, right off the top of my head.

I really wish the tip of my tongue and the back of my mind were as accessible as the top of my head.

But where was I? Yes, picketing. Treading that invisible line. Don't cross it!

I Was Thinking...Part Whatever

I was thinking, if you had a band called The Good Eggs, and they had a few albums that were kind of successful, and they decided to put out a greatest hits album, they could call it Oeuvre Easy.

Is The War On Drugs?

I mean...I don't mean to start any rumors or cast any aspersions. But it's been acting really funny lately. Showing up late. Spacing out when it's supposed to be paying attention. Got a funny smell, too.

Are these the danger signs? Or are there others, that we might possibly have missed...?

Friday, May 02, 2008

Inspirational Quotes

"Will succeeds where talent falls short." - Neil Finn

Why Actresses Should Be Forced To Do Nude Scenes

I've got a theory about what it is that causes an itch. I was trying to look it up online. I did a cursory search. No luck. I was trying to pinpoint the physiological mechanism by which an itch is born, and I couldn't - which sucks because I wanted very much to verify my hunch! Maybe a neurophysiologist amongst my loyal readership might weigh in to back me up on this one.

Here's what I think: I think that first, something causes the capillaries to tighten up, restricting the tiny blood flow next to the tiny tiny nerve, whatever. Some sort of minor inflammation or swelling, probably not even visible to the nude eye. The nerve in charge of itching feels the pinch: Hey, why's my blood flow getting cut? The nerve sends out the signal to scratch. Now, the nerve here is thinking, "what's with the blood restriction? What I need here is some big ol' fingernails digging into the region, stirring things up. Maybe a smack n' scratch - kill the bug first, then scratch the itch! The slap alone will feel pretty good. Shoot, I don't even know if it is a bug. I can't see! I'm only a poor little nerve. Nobody ever asked me my opinion on anything, nobody wants to know what I thought of The Bourne Supremacy."

The particular nerve in the example is a bit high-strung. Most nerves are.

Anyway, that's what the nerve is thinking, and a lot of the time the itch gets scratched, the blood gets moving, and everybody's happy. Itch signal assuaged. But when there's a RASH involved, the scratching stimulates more swelling, leading to more constriction, leading to more itch and more intense itch.

That's gotta be it, right? I mean, it seems so obvious. That's gotta be the why of it.

Back me up on this one, neurophysiologists!

Inspirational Words

"We won't do it justice...but we will do it."

Thursday, May 01, 2008

The Crippling Grip of Self-Doubt

The instant before the fork hit my mouth, I suddenly realized, "I have a vested interest in this pie being delicious." And now I'm not sure who to trust. My mouth? Or my mind. And since the experience of my mouth can only be viewed through my mind's twisted prism, how am I ever to separate the two?

It's a dilemma.

But this is damn good peach pie.

But...

Am I being too gullible?

I need to examine my reactions with more scrutiny. The pie is sweet, plump, juicy, good dough-y crust (points off for that, perhaps, it ought ideally to be flaky). The peach is quite nicely al dente. Points up for that. But isn't there a sort of a hint of something off-terroir in it? Something in the bouquet, or the finish? Subtle notes of safflower oil and rancid salami? Just the faintest, faintest hints now! Nothing overpowering. Nothing even technically noticeable.

Or am I imagining it? Have I faked out my own senses, to the point where I begin picking imaginary nits upon an innocent pastry, impugning the baked goodness of a blameless baked good?

Did I ever truly have a vested interest in this pie being delicious? Or was I an impartial observer all along?

Wow. I probably was.

What a relief. Thank God that's all over.

This peach pie is delicious.

What Are God's Feelings Towards Satan?

Does God HATE Satan?

I mean...isn't God above hate? I think people on earth who think God has hate are seriously anthropomorphizing the Deity. They believe their hatreds are righteous, and so they conceive of a God who shares in their hate. A God who even delights in their hate. This God, that these supposed Christians are praying to...are they sure it's God? It sounds a bit more like the Other Guy.

These people need to rethink their conception of the infinite.

Now, don't misunderstand me. Me saying all of the above doesn't mean that I'm one of these pansies who claim Satan and everybody else in Hell gets a get-out-of-Hell free card at the end of Eternity, when God pulls the plug on time. I'm not in that camp. While I do concede it's a neat little trick, how they argue it: God was at the beginning of time, and God will be at the end of time. So when we say "Eternity", we're really only saying "until the end of time." Therefore (the argument goes) you might be scheduled to burn for eternity, but there could still come a point where God calls an end to eternity. Has mercy on you. And you are released.

I don't truck with that theory. Not me personally. Maybe others might. Not me.

I'm also not one of those milquetoasts who claim there's no punishment in hell. I'm not one of those people who say "hell is simply the eternal absence of God, which is BAD ENOUGH once you die and you acquire an understanding of what you have missed out on." Nor am I one to say "those who are not saved simply die forever" i.e. no afterlife whatsoever for those who are not saved.

I'm not one of those people. I'm not one to say that. Although I have a certain sympathy for the position. Nobody with the grace of a loving and merciful God in their heart really wants to think too close about...you know...torture.

Anyway. Where was I. On top of all that, far be it from me to second-guess however it may actually be set up. ANY way that God wants to set it up, God has my full blessings and permission on that. That's God's call. But when you're dealing with your real abhorrent types, I tend to think that winking them out of existence doesn't quite satisfy the requirements of justice. I mean...I don't like to invoke the cliches, but the standard Hitler example is hard to argue against - and I for one am not naive enough to believe he's the worst that humanity has had to offer up over the millennia.

People like that shouldn't get to wink out. But the operative principle here isn't hatred. It's justice.

Justice is the key concept. God does not need hatred - God has justice. At the end of mortal life, evil beings are punished by God, for the sake of justice. God's punishment comes down with perfect absence of malice. Hatred is a petty human emotion, not for God. In most of us, when we hate, that hatred is fueled by our sense of our own powerlessness. We hate the evil or the enemy that we can't stop or control. We hate because we are helpless. When we are in control, we deal with the bad never needing to resort to hate! Hate is a substitute for being able to act. Whereas God is not generally subject to feelings of powerlessness.

Hatred is beneath God. Hatred was invented by mankind.

Of course, some of us will always blame Satan for that. But you know...even way back in the Garden, that snake was having too much fun spinning temptation to really put his heart into hate. Then he slithered off, having helped us wreck our paradise.

And that was when hate entered the world. Not from Satan! Satan wasn't feeling powerless - Satan was happy and smug from his first victory. No, that first bloom of hate came from us.

We hated that snake.