Monday, August 31, 2009

funnybooks revisited.

When I was a kid, I read comic books. I probably should've been playing sports more, but oh well.

I was a reader, not a collector. Sure, the idea of the comics that I bought being someday worth money was as cool as it would be to any capitalist kid, but I wasn't very interested in keeping them in special UV-resistant bags on acid free board in a cool, dry place. I wanted to read them, and then read them again. If the colors flaked a little around the staples or the pages got creased or the spine started to roll, too bad.

Marvel and DC were the two biggest publishers and probably still are today - sort of like the Democratic and Republican parties or the Coke and Pepsi of comics. Sure, there were some independents, but Marvel and DC pretty much sucked all of the air out of the room. I was into Marvel--Superman and Batman were classic characters even then and cool, but something about DC seemed too plain, too formal, too staid for my taste. Marvel just felt more hip, more cool, more energetic, more alive, more willing to take a chance, edgier. DC was a little too square.

Marvel had cooler characters - Frank Miller's Daredevil was my favorite, followed by the Avengers, then the X-Men. My discovery of comics came just as John Byrne's run as artist on the X-Men was winding down with the Dark Phoenix saga -- that's right, a saga--and he was white-hot, easily one of, the premier artists in the entire industry. Just a few months after ending his stint on the X-Men, he took over as writer and artist of one of Marvel's flagship titles, the Fantastic Four, dubbed--with typical Marvel bombast--"the World's Greatest Comic Magazine" (notice the use of the more sophisticated "comic magazine" instead of "comic book." Stan Lee may not have been the greatest writer ever, but he was one hell of a promoter). But around the time that my interest in comics peaked, the FF was running on vapors, trudging through uninspired stories and artwork.

Putting John Byrne on the Fantastic Four was one of the smartest things Marvel ever did and couldn't have happened at a better time. He completely reinvigorated the book, made it relevant again to comics readers, recharged it -- all by going back to the roots of it.

I'm rereading Byrne's FF run now, thanks to the "Marvel Visionaries" (again with that hyperbole) trade paperback series, full-color reproductions of comics that I haven't read in almost three decades but remember like yesterday -- Doctor Doom, Galactus, the X-Men. Frankie Raye. Ego, the Living Planet. Quicksilver and the Inhumans. Byrne gave the FF back their cosmic reach while staying focused on the four-character core. This is back when comic books were 50 or 60 cents an issue, $1 for the occasional double-sized edition, not the $2 or $3 or more they routinely are today.

The artwork is rock solid, superbly detailed when necessary for the right sense of scope, full of Byrne's typically sensual curves and smooth dynamism. The stories have aged surprisingly well -- they have the feel of an overarching vision and Byrne was deft with his storylines, unafraid to plant plot hints that wouldn't be resolved for an issue, sometimes two or three. Sure, some of the action is cheesy and there are thudding in-jokes and the dialogue is pure corn syrup in places, but that's forgiveable. It's comics, after all.

I liked to draw when I was a kid, and I suppose I wasn't completely without talent. Once upon a time, my dream was to become a comic book artist and writer myself, following in the footsteps of Frank Miller and John Byrne and others. I couldn't grasp a more fulfilling career than to sit around drawing the amazing adventures of superheroes all day. I had hundreds of comics and even How to Draw Comics the Marvel Way, which showed you how to break down items like handguns and airplanes and cars into a series of geometric shapes and how to draw figures and faces and how to portray action in that Marvel style. It even went into inking and coloring and lettering. It was a really cool book and I fooled around with it for a few years, even developing my own crude comics, a super-hero team called "The Victors" and a lone adventurer named "Captain Canadian," stolen almost totally from Byrne's own Vindicator character from a series called Alpha Flight.

But my comic book career never went anywhere because I didn't try hard enough. I could try to blame my parents for not supporting me more, but that would be a cop-out. They gave me drawing tables and pencils and pens and art lessons and all kinds of other support that I was just too callow, like most children of that age, to recognize for the gifts they were. It all comes down to me --the fact that I didn't want to sit up in my room drawing for hours and hours on end, learning and honing skills, just proves that I didn't want it badly enough. It's a shame, really. If I could turn back the clock to when I was thirteen or fourteen, maybe I'd force myself to work harder at it, to really try to make a name for myself there, but it just wasn't in me.

Alas. But I'm enjoying these comics from my youth, at least. I feel a little bit self-conscious reading comics again, and writing about it, to boot - but what the hell. Good stories are worthwhile, and it's nice when, every once in awhile--sometimes a great while--nostalgia doesn't let you down.

My Top Five comic-book artists:

1) Frank Miller - Daredevil, Batman: The Dark Knight Returns
2) John Byrne - X-Men, Fantastic Four
3) Walt Simonson - Thor, Battlestar Galactica, Star Wars, Alien: The Illustrated Story
4) Mike Golden - The 'Nam, ROM: Spaceknight, The Micronauts
5) George Perez - The Avengers, The New Teen Titans

Friday, August 28, 2009

Where Have You Gone, Michael Myers? A Nation of Horror Freaks Turns Its Lonely Eyes To You

There's a new movie out this week called Halloween 2.

But it's actually the 10th, or maybe 11th, or maybe the 12th movie in the Halloween series.

A few years ago, director Rob Zombie decided to "reboot" the Halloween franchise. "Rebooting"--basically, starting it over with a bit of fresh spin--has become more and more popular in the last decade or so of Hollywood's collective creative bankruptcy, the primary idea being that it's easier to revisit a proven idea than it is to generate a new one. And so, a lot of once-profitable enterprises have been recently "rebooted" to mixed effect: Batman, Star Trek, & James Bond (yes!), Superman and Friday the 13th (meh), the Texas Chainsaw Massacre (who cares).

Michael Myers burst on the movie scene in 1978 as a quiet but bloodthirsty force of nature, a rare and brutal combination of power, endurance, and single-minded purpose: to kill a bunch of teenagers. He was the template for dozens of others that followed, a paragon of implacable psychosis. Young madmen wanted to be him. They probably put posters of him up on their insane asylum walls. He was the face of horror before horror got too silly and self-effacing. If slasher films were football, he'd be that bruising fullback that no one could bring down near the goal line. If they were basketball, Michael was the Michael Jordan of mad slashers: he let his game do all the talking, and he was absolutely merciless.

Leatherface from the Texas Chainsaw Massacre? Important to the genre, yes, and certainly influential in his way, but more like Doctor J. - a different era, a different player. Jason from Friday the 13th? He's a Kobe Bryant - highly effective, occasionally transcendent, but never enough of his own killer to get fully out of Michael's shadow. A Nightmare on Elm Street's Freddy Kruger? He had potential in the early going, but he just got too silly in the long run, cracking too many jokes. Call him Derrick Coleman -- highly talented, but he just didn't respect the slasher-movie game enough.

It feels a little silly to call John Carpenter's original Halloween one of the best movies ever made, but in its demented, low-budget way, it's certainly one of the most effective movies ever -- a sharklike engine of a movie with only a very few basic goals. Halloween didn't set out to enlighten anyone, except perhaps in how effective a film can be on a limited budget. It set out to scare people silly, and for decades it was one of the leading players in that field. I clearly remember the giddy terror of that first viewing, in an edited-for-TV format, no less - it scared me and I loved it. I don't have my own copy, but I should. Every October, I check the TV listings for a showing somewhere, and I can usually find one. Of course, it's never as good as that first time, but seeing it again always lets me recapture just a little of that original thrill. To this day, I can't think of five movies that have scared me more.

One of the best things about the original Halloween is that it didn't explain Michael. We never knew what drove him to kill, why he snapped one Halloween night and murdered his sister, and why he bided his time for fifteen years before escaping from the asylum at Smith's Grove to return to Haddonfield on Halloween night. We didn't know how he could survive getting stabbed and shot and keep coming. We didn't know and not knowing made him scarier, because the unknown is always more terrifying than the familiar.

It's understood that a "reboot," to be successful, needs to change the gameplan a bit. And some "reboots" are successful - Batman Begins proved there's still a lot of tread in the Caped Crusader's tires by taking a dead serious, noirish approach that hadn't been tried with the character onscreen. Casino Royale recast James Bond as tougher, more brutish than past screen incarnations, closer to how Ian Fleming originally intended - far more of a blunt instrument than we'd previously seen, and it worked in spades.

But Rob Zombie's Halloween made the critical mistake of explaining what should be left unexplained. Like the original, Zombie's version starts with Michael Myers as a child, on Halloween - but it took what was originally just a few quick strokes of prosaic, middle-class, middle-American upbringing that gave no apparent hint of shocking violence and madness and recast it into squalid, garish, grating white-trash hell, one of Zombie's favorite canvasses.

Michael's sister was still fooling around with her boyfriend on Halloween night, but his mom was suddenly a stripper who had to work instead of taking him Trick-or-Treating. His mother's boyfriend was a drunk, abusive lout who flung insults for sport and said fuck every other word. Michael was the target of bullies at school. His house was a rundown mess. And so on.

Zombie's Halloween is actually somewhat interesting for about ten minutes, while you're still getting acclimated to the landscape and before the trashiness of the characters descends into shrill parody. The scene where Michael stalks and kills (or at least savagely beats) a schoolroom tormentor is reasonably effective, if too long and needlessly graphic. Although scary as hell and Rated R, the original Halloween is largely a bloodless affair.

But by the time the drunken layabout boyfriend has uttered about his sixteenth f-bomb, it's painfully clear that all of the preamble that Zombie provides in his version has only the effect of neutering Michael, making him actually less interesting instead of more. Now, instead of a terrifyingly inexplicable force of nature, Michael's just a kid from a bad home.

The backstory of Michael Myers is far from the only mistake made by Zombie's version, but it's probably the most crippling one. Rob Zombie's Halloween, rather than provide any scares or thrills or relevant take on the material, enlightens us to the fact that some material doesn't need to be "rebooted," or at least that some directors aren't the right people for the job.

But this Halloween redux made enough money, apparently, at least with regard to cost, to demand a sequel, and now we have one -- Halloween in late summer, which is all kinds of wrong to begin with, and just shows how out of step this whole enterprise really is.

Now the first sequel to the first Halloween, Halloween 2.0, I guess you could say, wasn't any great shakes, tawdry and stupid and drawn out where the first was clean and lean and economical, so it's hard to see how this new Halloween 2 will be substantially worse. I'm sure it'll even make a nice little pile of money and there will soon be talk of a new Halloween 3, even though Zombie says this is his last foray with Michael Myers. Maybe someday we'll have a whole new set of 12 or 13 or 14 Michael Myers movies, but the kids today won't realize what Michael was like in his prime. Comparing Michael then to Michael now is like comparing 1990's Chicago Bulls Jordan with the Jordan who unretired a second time to go to the Washington Wizards. He looked pretty much the same, and had a lot of the same moves, but it just wasn't the same guy and we all knew it.

I'd rather watch the Halloween from 1978 again, even though I know every beat, even though every scare is telegraphed miles in advance.

Because the memory of what Michael Myers was is still miles better than who Rob Zombie says he is today.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Top Ten Albums - #10: Grace, by Jeff Buckley

Year released: 1994


Mojo Pin -Grace - Last Goodbye - Lilac Wine - So Real - Hallelujah - Lover, You Should Have Come Over - Corpus Christi Carol (For Roy) - Eternal Life - Dream Brother

I had this album for years before I really got it -- really, before I even gave it an honest chance. Back in those 90s alt-rock days before you could download singles and you had to buy a whole CD just to get one song, I picked this up in Savannah, Georgia on the strength of "Last Goodbye," the lone radio / MTV song. "Last Goodbye," with its dreamy-mournful slide and string break, was orchestrated like few radio songs I'd heard to that point, and all about swoony sacrifice and heartbreak. Having made a complete fool of myself romantically around that time, the song struck a deep chord and took me away to a place where I fantasized that I could actually turn the tables -- instead of the rejected, I could recast the whole overwrought scenario and become the rejector: "oh, you know it makes me so angy / 'cause I know that in time / I'd only make you cry / this is our last goodbye."

But the rest of the album? Too ethereal, too falsetto, just too far outside the accustomed rock album template for me at the time. Minimalist guitar, little percussion, the primary instrument was that voice of Buckley's, which even though I knew was amazing in its own right, I still couldn't fully appreciate.

When I heard about Buckley's death just a few years later, I recalled that I had the album somewhere, but I didn't go back to it then, or even for a few years afterward. It was actually the events of September 11, 2001 and a Leonard Cohen cover that unlocked the rest of it for me.

Some of the video montages that sprang up in the wake of 9/11 were scored to Buckley's version of Cohen's "Hallelujah," and while I'm not that familiar with Cohen's version -- I've only heard clips of it, I think, most recently during the movie Watchmen--I feel safe in saying that Buckley's cover outstrips the original quite handily. Cohen's lyrics are close enough to genius to endure, but when matched with Buckley's delivery, they border on incomparable. Jeff Buckley's "Hallelujah," with its single lonely breath-intro and that cold, chiming guitar with a bridge that climbs away into the night like a fading memory, describes all of the beauty and sadness that come with lovestruck despair so fully that it becomes the song itself, one of those covers that so fully transforms and transcends the original--a la Hendrix's "All Along the Watchtower"--that it is, in essence, the definitive version of the material.

Beauty and sadness - that's the whole album boiled down, really--largely contrasting ideas, here inseparable. And in the world that Buckley paints, it couldn't and shouldn't be any other way.

Key Tracks:

2. "Grace" - almost unnerving to hear Buckley, who died at only 28, sing "it's my time coming / I'm not afraid / afraid to die."

3. "Last Goodbye"

6. "Hallelujah"

9. "Eternal Life" - the album's most rocking track, and, per Buckley himself, an tribute to Led Zeppelin.

10. "Dream Brother" - combines with "Eternal Life" to close Grace on an up-tempo (if not upbeat) note, bringing guitar and drums closer to the fore, even letting them bear the load for much of the song's midsection.

Although a fairly significant archival material exists -- including much of the album that was in the works when he died, along with numerous outtakes and live material -- Grace is the primary output of Jeff Buckley's career. It's cold comfort, but ten years after his passing, worth noting to say that many lives have gone much longer without even approaching the highs that Buckely scaled with this one indelible collection of songs.

Next: #9 - Radiohead, The Bends

Friday, August 21, 2009

Top Ten Albums

I read a good article in the latest Rolling Stone about the last days of the Beatles, and that got me in a musical mood.

So over the next few weeks, I'm going to take each of my current favorite rock albums and give them a good spin and write about what I hear, reviewing them almost as if they were new releases. It's been quite awhile since I've heard some of them start-to-finish. Maybe I've forgotten some things. Maybe I'll hear something completely different. Maybe they'll rise on this list; maybe they'll fall off.

1 rule: no more than one album per artist.

Without further preamble, here is the list:

10. Grace - Jeff Buckley
9. The Bends - Radiohead
8. Lifes Rich Pageant - R.E.M.
7. The Velvet Underground + Nico - The Velvet Underground
6. Before These Crowded Streets - Dave Matthews Band
5. Everyday - Widespread Panic
4. Animals - Pink Floyd
3. Revolver - The Beatles
2. Yield - Pearl Jam
1. Superunknown - Soundgarden

Up next - part one...

Don't Mess with Beyonce

Once upon a time, some critics called the television show "In Living Color" the "black Saturday Night Live," even though it came on Sundays and wasn't aired live, on account of it being a comedy sketch show in which most of the performing cast was black. I'm not entirely sure, but I'll bet that label really pissed the creators of "In Living Color" off.

The movie Obsessed could be called "the black Fatal Attraction," and it probably was, because the media never met a convenient label it didn't like--just look at how many movies over the years have been described as "Die Hard on / in a bus/boat/airplane/house/etc." But in this case, I doubt there was any angst or fuss. For one thing, the comparison is to a 20-year-old movie that became a cultural touchstone and still holds up today; "Saturday Night Live" is a touchstone as well, but also a warhorse franchise with a decidedly checkered resume. And Obsessed is a profit engine, a highly calculated piece of work, not a scrappy comedy show looking to forge a unique identity on a fledgling network. Obsessed was designed to open in theaters in that late-winter-to-early-spring lull in most major studio release schedules, after the Oscars but before the summer blitz, a low-cost venture built to turn a tidy profit with a couple or three decent earning weekends. It's organized entirely to move characters to one particular scene, which I'll get to in a bit. If the comparison to Fatal Attraction got more butts in seats, I'd imagine the makers of Obsessed were all for it.

Obsessed stars Beyonce Knowles (hereafter just Beyonce) as the wife of a high-profile executive (Idris Elba) who learns that an attractive temp worker (Ali Larter) at her husband's company has developed a dangerous--maybe even fatal--ahem, attraction to her man. Now, this being a different film, Elba's character never succumbs to temptation, like Michael Douglas did in Fatal Attraction. But Larter's character still attempts suicide, and there's a bit where she menaces Beyonce's kid, and there's a climactic confrontation at the end. Then again, most of those same beats also occurred in Play Misty For Me, so maybe Obsessed is really the black Play Misty, except that there's no late-night jazz radio DJ and dewy soft-core interlude in the woods. After all, Fatal Attraction wasn't much more than a riff on Play Misty with a mid-80s corporate sheen.

It's never really revealed what Elba's character does for a living -- something to do with stocks or bonds or portfolios or something --but it's clear that he's successful, because he drives a sleek Mercedes and the house he shares with Beyonce is full of rich dark wood and his office is all bright glass and stainless steel and he wears nice shirts and ties. Elba, after being so good and full of cool, coiled menace as Stringer Bell for three seasons of HBO's The Wire, pretty much just plays a guy here, and you can't really see the role demanding much of an acting stretch, but you can't blame him for that; after elevating the role of the drug dealer so well on TV, he surely didn't want to go there, and it doesn't seem that there are a lot of other good parts for black actors out there outside of Tyler Perry movies.

So Elba is just a smart, hardworking, and successful dude who runs into the wrong woman--maybe he kinda/sorta leads Larter on, but it's also pretty clear that no one who wasn't already a psycho would ever go as far as she does.

Like much of the movie itself, this is all a lot of preamble--what really matters is the catfight, the sequence I alluded to earlier, the money shot. The movie has to have some build up to it, but it dispenses with the buildup pretty efficiently. In Fatal Attraction, you kinda thought that Glenn Close and her witchy black eyeliner actually hated Michael Douglas when they first met, but here you know Larter is into Elba right off the bat. And when it comes, the fight is pretty good, as far as these things go. Yes, it goes on way too long, and in typical movie fashion, both women sustain blows that would have put either in the hospital long before the climax, but there are a couple of really good flurries between Larter and Beyonce, and Beyonce even goads Larter on at a couple of points, and I'm sure a lot of audiences ate that up. And it doesn't take itself as seriously as any part of Kill Bill. If catfights are your thing, this movie probably deserves a place on your shelf.

And give the writers some credit--I was almost certain that the mirror that happens to be in Elba and Beyonce's bedroom ceiling was gonna come into play at some point, maybe in a dream sequence in which Elba looks up at night and imagines himself in bed with Larter, or maybe somehow in the final fight with Larter getting showered in falling glass from it, but that never actually happens. Maybe in the Director's Cut.

The acting is OK, nothing special, but there really isn't much that actors can really do with roles this transparent. Beyonce was in Dreamgirls I think, but I don't really remember--all I really remember of that movie is its crazy split personality and abrupt shift from musical biopic to full-blown musical. But while Dreamgirls was a prestige grab that wound up working better for Jennifer Hudson than it did Beyonce, Obsessed is just a disposable sorta thriller, and she comes out no worse than unscathed. In fact, none of the cast (including Jerry O'Connell in character actor mode) embarrasses themselves, except for Larter, but that's because her character has to -- if she doesn't, there's no movie.

My first reaction to this movie wasn't positive, but in the end, I didn't hate it anywhere near as much as, say, Rob Zombie's remake / defiling of Halloween. While I won't look back on Obsessed with any particular fondness, I don't feel unclean.

And I learned that Beyonce can be one badass bitch when she wants to be.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

On Quentin Tarantino & "Inglourious Basterds"

In the last 20 years, no American director has made a better film than Pulp Fiction. I borrowed that line from Owen Gleiberman, except he was writing about Blue Velvet, and Velvet has now been more than 20 years ago. So I lifted it for Pulp Fiction, and it's every bit as true.

Pulp Fiction was one of those very rare things, the perfect collaboration of story and direction and acting. It was electrifying in its confidence, the way it took a familiar world but just twisted it this way and that to show something different. We know about mobsters and boxing and breakfast diners and armed robbery, or think we do: we've seen it before. We've seen heroin use before. But never quite like that, set askew and cranked up to 10 or 11 and turbocharged with wit, sharply observed and just ambiguous enough at the right times. What's in the briefcase? Why is Winston Wolf wearing a tuxedo early in the morning - is it that he's at a party that's gone into the morning hours, or at some bizarre gathering that requires formal attire at 7 am? Who is Russell and what happened in his old room? Being the fan of ambiguity that I am, that scores big points with me. Those unresolved questions ring up cherries every time I watch the movie. I think you've gotta have balls as a filmmaker to tell a story but know exactly what parts to leave out.

Quentin Tarantino has been chasing Pulp Fiction ever since 1995. It's the kind of work that redeems an entire career; let's say Pulp Fiction were a rock album, and you could say "well, the band's career was pretty much shit, but they DID make Pulp Fiction," and everyone in the room would have to nod and stop bashing the band, if only for a second or two. Or if The Beatles had only done Sgt Pepper's, they would have still done at least that (although I like Revolver better).

Now, Tarantino really hasn't done that much since Fiction, if you really sit down and look at it. In fourteen years, this pretty much sums it up: Jackie Brown, which I never saw and can't comment on; an episode of the television show "ER," which I used to watch and like, an episode that was tonally out-of-step with the rest of the show and a mistake the producers never repeated; some cameos and bit parts in some terrible movies, like Desperado (awful) and From Dusk 'Til Dawn (worse); Kill Bill parts 1 and 2, fetishistic drivel that I wish I'd walked out on, instead of hanging with in the vain hope of some redemption that never came; half of the stunt / vanity project Grindhouse with Robert Rodriguez, something called Death Proof that bored me stupid for the five minutes that I watched. Oh yeah, there might've been a vignette in a collaborative movie called Four Rooms somewhere in there. Didn't see that, either.

And now there's Inglourious Basterds, which stars Brad Pitt and concerns a band of Nazi-killing Jews in Germany sometime near the end of World War II.

What makes Inglourious Basterds an almost complete non-event for me is the fact that, over the course of his nineteen years as a director, Tarantino has exhibited very nearly zero artistic growth. He's making the same movies with the same flourishes and bratty penchant for over-the-top macho situations and violence. It's patently obvious after watching only the TV commercials for Inglourious Basterds that you could transplant a great deal of it into almost any other movie in Tarantino's oeuvre and the world would be no poorer culturally; to put it another way, the scenes I've seen look exactly like they were taken from the part of Pulp Fiction that didn't measure up to the rest and was cut out.

I personally can't think of much I find more boring than an artist that doesn't push themselves a bit, that doesn't try to stretch, at least to a degree. Pearl Jam is my favorite band, and the Pearl Jam of today doesn't sound anything like the Pearl Jam that came on the scene in 1991 - around the same time as Quentin Tarantino, in fact. They realized that they and their audience would grow bored quickly with the same riffing on "Evenflow" and "Jeremy" album after album.

Look at Bob Dylan. Look at the Beatles. Look at Pablo Picasso. In a more modern and cinematic context, look at Paul Thomas Anderson. I'm not a huge fan. I liked Boogie Nights pretty well, but the movie has a lot of flaws. I couldn't get into Magnolia or Punch-Drunk Love. There Will Be Blood was very good, but I agree with the Academy Awards that the better film of 2007 was actually No Country For Old Men.

But one thing you can definitely state about Paul Thomas Anderson is that he tries something different with each movie; There Will Be Blood, a period drama, is absolutely nothing like Punch-Drunk Love, a contemporary black comedy with fairy-tale underpinnings. And that's nothing like Magnolia, which is nothing at all like Boogie Nights. He stretches himself, and that makes him interesting to watch, whether or not I can embrace everything he does.

Well, anyway. I suppose that there's a market for consistency - after all, a Big Mac tastes pretty much the same in Florida as it does in Texas or California; and after all, they made eight or nine or ten Friday the 13th movies, and they all made money, even though they're all pretty much the same thing over and over and over again.

I think I'd rather watch Pulp Fiction again; there's bound to be more energy in almost any given scene than the entirety of Inglourious Basterds*, which just has the feel to me of rich people jerking off into piles of money.

But if you want to see QT churn out more of the same sausage, slightly different seasoning--in this case, Brad Pitt's cartoonish accent--Basterds is now open nationwide.


* - To Tarantino's credit, he hasn't really tried to explain the oddball spelling of the movie's title, outside of owning up to it as an artistic flourish; my guess is that it's to distinguish this movie from an older one called Inglorious Bastards, which apparently shares a fairly minimal set of characteristics. Kind of like the way the movie Kalifornia (also starring Pitt - wow!) spelled its title with a "K" to make it stand out from another film called California -- but in Kalifornia they actually tried to work the misspelling into the movie itself instead of letting it stand on its own, which was stupid.

The Hurt Locker

Since earlier this month, I've been blogging separately about a movie called "The Hurt Locker" which is one of the best movies I've seen in the theater in several years & a movie I wish would get nominated for & win Best Picture of 2009 at the Academy Awards next February.

If you haven't seen it and have a chance, I cannot recommend it highly enough. It's a great film and fully deserving of whatever audience it can get.

To read those blog posts, go here.


Some Ideas...

...just won't leave you alone. And that gives me hope.

Some ideas just stick around and echo in your head like sonar, laps of repeating sound or vision or both radiating outward from the initial strike.

I have a lot of ideas like that.

I have just very recently reentered the blogosphere after a few attempts in the past.

This is where I'll share my thoughts on numerous topics...ideas...scattered theories, relevant and irrelevant...musings...shadows...

Thoughts on music, movies, books...politics...sports...lists, stories, anecdotes, essays...

Instead of the bits and scraps of paper in my pocket or notebooks on my closet shelves, my intent is to capture more of those fragments here, capture them in more of a "live" environment, more spontaneously...less preservatives, less polish - less filtered, perhaps a little more raw, maybe even a bit dirty...but cleaner, too.