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Friday, March 31, 2006

Today, We Will Make Fudge!

This will most likely be short and sweet, as I have a Guinness getting warm while I'm typing.

After the long winded diatribe from yesterday, detailing all the ways in which I fill the mind-numbing hours from 8:30 to 5:30, got paid this afternoon, and also got a bonus. This is one of my main arguements that this job rewards you for just showing up, because over the past four years I've learned that you can go balls out and show them 110%, or you can completely half-ass it and get paid the same.

Sometimes you even get a bonus.

My biggest beef with the workplace is not that I think I'm any kind of example, my point is that there are no star pupils, so why the fuck do we bother to reward anyone? Don't get me wrong, I still deposited the check, I have no shame whatsoever, I just work the angles and stay out of the way as best I can.

I truly did apply myself for the first couple of years, but after that, I gave up, mostly due to my boss constantly reiterating that "it all pays the same, if you are doing something fun, or if you're scrubbing buckets", which is her idea of a pep talk, but only led me to realize that it all pays the same, whether I care or not, the paycheck is the same.

F that.

I was also offered a job today by a rival florist, but I think some of that may be due to the fact that an ex-employee of hers now works for us, so that could be her way of sticking it to my boss. I don't think I'm interested for a couple of reasons, mostly because I'll take the Devil I know over some new craziness any day of the week, and word has it that this woman is a pain in the ass to work with, and also because I'm nobody's pawn, except for possibly the Great Lord Cthulhu, of the Elder Gods fame and that's nobody's business but my own.

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Thursday, March 30, 2006

Workday Breakdown

In that it's a blow by blow of all the non-issues that drive me to distraction, not in reference to someone running amuck with a gun.

Yet.

8:36 AM : Arrive at the store only six minutes late, still beat the boss, so no worries.

9:28 AM : Already running out of things to do, orders are scarce, so I spend as much time as possible in the kitchen area, making coffee very slowly. Eventually get flushed out by chatty co-worker who doesn't understand the 'iPod as repellent' concept.

9:41 AM : Move fresh flowers around in cooler for about fifteen minutes, again until flushed by a co-worker. Begin to wonder what the life of a quail is like. Leave cooler, return to desk, defeated.

9:45 AM : The boss finally arrived awhile ago, she now comes out of her office, announces a new pricing on Italian Ruscus, a greenery we use as a filler for heighth in fresh arrangements. It is now $4.00 a stem, because we need to be more aware of how much money we put into each arrangement, and are apparently on a 'budgetary probation', courtesy of our parent store who think that we have no idea about our cost of goods. It occurs to me that this could have something to do with the entire cooler full of roses that we threw away after Valentine's day because we perennially over-order, but I manage to keep this thought to myself.

10:04 AM : I am told to load a group of 15 arrangements and table linens and deliver them to the country club, which feels like any port in a storm, given today's boredom. I load and get the hell out of Dodge.

10:25 AM : Arrive at country club, fight my way through obviously color-blind golfers. The main entrance of the country club stands dark, as does the upstairs where I have to set up. The $5,000 a year membership doesn't buy one something as simple as electricity, it would seem, but you can sweat in the sun on our manicured lawns as much as you'd like.

10:30 AM : Every member of waitstaff is on their own cellular phone, chattering away. Not wanting to be left out, I try to call K, to no avail.

10:45 AM : K calls me back, I'm somewhat brusque with her; the moment has passed.

10:55 AM : Finish set-up, puzzle over the extra table they have set out, when questioned, I'm assured that they "always set up extra, just in case". The woman seems unflinching in this, and refuses to see how odd said table looks without a centerpiece, I eventually give up, I don't know anyone who'll be at this function anyway, why am I fighting about it?

11:15 AM : Arrive back at store, dread hitting me like a bucket of water...is it still so fucking slow? I stall in the van for a few minutes before screwing up my courage and heading inside.

11:25 AM : Van unloaded, I move it to the remote parking area down the block near our storage building, traipse my ass back, wishing we had a shuttle like at the airport, wondering what the driver would get paid if we did. Then I remember our 'budgetary probation', and decide we couldn't hire anyone new even if we wanted to.

11:32 AM : Immediately get pounced on by someone who wants to tell me about all the bitchiness and cat-fighting that I missed in my absence, and goes on to tell me that I have somehow complimented the offending party recently, something I find rather distressing, because I don't remember saying any such a damned thing. If I'm going to be starting in with the blackouts, I'd better start drinking more, I want to at least have some fun to show for losing my memory.

11:45 AM : A delivery guy brings in Italian food, which alarms me, as I fully plan on taking a lunch. Take out food coming into the store is generally a classic sign of 'we're working through lunch today', so I make the mistake of asking. Our third in command is a verbose woman who can tell you the exact same information four times in the space of one run-on sentence, by frustratingly reiterating the facts over and over again. After a five minute dissertation about the fact that we need to clock out for lunch, that we take a lunch hour, that we can take some of the food with us, etc, I just put my headphones back in, as she seemed to be addressing anyone who would listen until she ran out of breath. No one seemed to notice that I'd lost interest.

12:05 PM : Leave for lunch, ignore free food.

Lunch at home with K, play with dog, desperately look for new Podcasts online for this afternoon, as I know it's only going to get worse.

1:01 PM : Return from lunch a few minutes early, curse self for those minutes that I'll never get back.

1:15 PM : Boss in a tizzy over her own party set up; watch with more than a little amusemant as co-worker makes a point of interrupting her to ask about changing spelling on a name for an order for a few days from now. Party is in four hours, boss' exasperation palpable.

2:10 PM : The flower processor comes in, he and I compare notes over the various power struggles of the past few days. I try unsuccessfully to convince him to wear his graduation gown to work the day after he graduates, but I don't think he's having it.

3:07 PM : There is quite officially nothing left to do for the day, and we still have 2 and 1/2 hours left. I begin to wonder if it is moments of boredom like this when we start talking amongst ourselves that leads to the hostilities that later surface. Idle hands are the Devil's playground, ladies...

3:40 PM : Chat with the processor some more, spend some time filling the vase stock, spend even more time moving boxes around in the storage area, stalling for time until 5:30.

4:05 PM : Press play on the final podcast from Stomp Tokyo that I have on the iPod, and a wave of panic hits me, will this kill enough time before we get to leave? Then I remember the twelve hours of music that is also on there and stop sweating. I won't be forced into conversation with anyone. Whew.

4:55 PM : Boredom becomes such that I start looking for small personal projects to work on, and after surreptitiously balancing my checkbook, I begin calling numbers in my cell phone's phone book that I haven't spoken with in ages, hoping to update numbers at the very least.

5:05 PM : Catch my friend Chris, and end up riding out the clock with him until 5:30, getting caught up on each other's lives.

5:30 PM : Clocked out while still on the phone, spoke to no one as I left, and didn't look back, for fear of turning into a pillar of salt.

Repeat as necessary, five days a week.

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Wednesday, March 29, 2006

The Hitcher (1986)

Netflixed this, gave it a look this afternoon, it being one of those movies that I just never got around to watching when I was getting into the whole horror film genre.

C. Thomas (E.T.) Howell is driving a car from Chicago to California when he makes the mistake of picking up a hitchhiking Rutger (Blind Fury) Hauer, thinking the company will keep him awake. It becomes quickly apparent that Hauer is slightly unbalanced at best, and completely crazed at worst, Howell tries to get him out of the car peacefully, and eventually has to eject him from the moving car. Thus begins a dogged cat and mouse pursuit that stretches across every backroad in the Godforsaken state, and eventually involves Jennifer Jason (eXistenZ) Leigh, a waitress from a small roadside diner.

Howell is repeatedly framed for Hauer's crimes, and then subsequently freed by Hauer when the police have him in custody, indicating that Hauer hasn't had enough of their game.

When the police finally have Hauer in their custody, Howell, pushed to a breaking point, refuses to let things lie, escaping from officers to pursue the police that are transporting his enemy.

This was enjoyable, and my only true quibbles are that there are a few sequences that stretch believability, but it's a horror film, y'know? You let a few things slide.

There was a funny moment when Howell is being arrested, and a cop slams him onto the trunk hard enough for his foot to come up behind them and catch the other deputy in the back of the head. I laughed out loud, and had to rewind it a few times to make sure I was seeing that correctly. Worth your rental, I don't know who would necessarily need to own this one.

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Completely Non-Productive Day Off

The dog's internal clock has now been re-set for sometime around seven AM, as I found out this morning when she woke me briefly, and I asked her if her mother had fed her yet, and K informed me it was only seven. I promptly forgot every last bit of this, and fell right back to sleep, awoke around 9:30, chit-chatted with the fiance for a bit while she fielded e-mails before heading to a meeting with our caterer for the wedding.

Spent a bit of time on the phone and online with David, who I'd made plans to visit this afternoon, he had called to cancel as he's been feeling a bit ill, so we got in a little visit and made plans to try and get together before he has to start chemotherapy again next week. That's been a real killer for me, David being one of the most active and healthy people I've known, this cancer thing has been quite the long haul for me, and I understand it's been somewhat taxing on David and his wife as well.

Had lunch at the Italian treat that is the Olive Garden, which had a few less children in it than the McDonalds Playplace area on a Saturday afternoon during summer break. More than one screaming child at a table at a time makes me want to look into a vasectomy. My friend Kristi and K's friend Brian met us. K was telling Kristi about her recent Dallas trip for wedding related stuff, and made the comment that she had gone to meet the make-up artist, only to find out that her home had burned down.

"Don't you think that could be some kinda sign?" asked the waiter as he handed out drink refills.

We laughed, but I don't put a lot of stock in what wisdom a waiter might have unless it involves the age of the entrees that they are trying to get rid of before they fully turn that day.

K and I hit Barnes & Noble, I picked up a new Juxtapoz magazine, and the first issue of some kind of horror genre magazine that looked interesting, called Cryptic Magazine, because it had a Joe Lansdale feature and something about Dario Argento. Upon closer inspection back home, the magazine, which is published by a comic book publisher, has more of a cheesy feel to it, I don't see picking it up again, unless they come up with a particularly fascinating slant to things.

I also picked up the You Can't Fix Stupid DVD from Ron White, who I've really enjoyed. He is the least red-necky of the Blue Collar Comedy tour guys, in that I think a lot of his humor is more universal than the rest of the group.

I watched a movie in the afternoon, The Hitcher, which was part of the little film discussion this week on the Rue Morgue Magazine forums. Enjoyable film, nothing too special, nothing I need to own, but Rutger Hauer is effectively creepy as the muderous hitchhiker.

I did nothing today but eat and spend money.

This feels like a slippery slope that could snowball into staunch conservatism. If I post a photo of myself with either of the George Bushes, please feel free to put me out of my misery.

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Tuesday, March 28, 2006

The Weather Man (2005)

First things first, let me just say that I haven't seen Nicolas (Wild At Heart) Cage in many films that I haven't liked. He has some kind of weird twist that he brings to virtually any role that I enjoy, but doesn't seem to over-power the role to the point of 'Oh, that's Nicolas Cage', something that I think Robin Williams does to his detriment a lot of the time, a notable exception being something like One Hour Photo.

The film is amazingly simple, with Cage as Chicago weatherman David Spritz, lately estranged of his wife, trying to spend time with his two children, and vie for a coveted position with Hello America, a Bryant Gumbel hosted show that he believes will be the answer to his problems. Michael Caine plays his father, diagnosed with lymphoma, who just seems vaguely disappointed with his son's life in general way, and Cage feels this to the bone, as his father is a very successful, Pulitzer Prize winning author.

There is a lot of humor to the film, and I was reminded of how American Beauty made me feel, in that the film has a vaguely melancholy tone that is tempered with humor, and a true message of hope in the end, that despite what trials life can give you, you can make the best of things.

Cage does a lot of narration, that gives background on he and his wife's (American Splendor's Hope Davis) seperation, and on his life as a weatherman, and the various repercussions of predicting something as erratic as the weather.

I really enjoyed this, and would highly recommend it.

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Truth In Advertising

This subject finds a new champion with the forthcoming Samuel (Pulp Fiction) L. Jackson film Snakes On A Plane.

"Hey, what's the plot of this film?"

Complete truth in advertising, this movie will probably completely suck, but who doesn't want to hear Sam Jackson yelling "There's snakes on the mutha-fuckin' plane!" for 2 hours or so? The teaser has him whipping one against a seat like a belt that he was really angry with. The plot, if you truly think a film like this needs one, is as follows : On board a flight over the Pacific Ocean, an assassin, bent on killing a passenger who's a witness in protective custody, lets loose a crate full of deadly snakes.

Yeah, because just shooting the witness would be waaay too complicated. Or poison, or blowing up the plane, or any number of other techniques. Snakes are the only way to go. Seriously, I don't understand why snakes don't get more play in the international espionage game...I guess they're considered unreliable and difficult to work with.

The most vocal champion of this film in my Podcast listening has been the guys at the Cult Movie Podcast, a division of Stomp Tokyo, your number one source for all things Godzilla and B-movie related. These guys have been pimping this movie for a few weeks now, and in their last 'cast announced that the internet buzz has been such that the studio has gone back to film more footage for the film, to beef it up a bit before its release.

The film is directed by David Ellis, who gave us Cellular (which I never saw) and the 2nd Final Destination sequel, which I fucking adored. Anyone who kills off teenagers in such a creative manner is okay by me, and the log truck mishap in that film still gives me the willies every time we pass one on the highway. Arkansas was a nightmare for me when K and I went the last time; apparently all they do is ship timber from one end of the state to the other.

This film looks to have real and CGI snakes, and will be terrible, but also a lot of fun, I think.

It also follows the great producer/director Roger (Fall Of The House Of Usher) Corman's cardinal rule of the film title actually telling you what the film's about.

Death Race 2000: There's a lot of death, it's about a race, and it's set in the year 2000.

Snakes on a plane, Jackson screaming about "Yes they deserved to die and I hope they burn in hell!", and just going apeshit on a bunch of CGI reptiles.

So simple in its perfection.

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Monday, March 27, 2006

White Skin (2004)

A very peculiar film that I watched tonight, a Canadian production, French dialogue, the French title is La Peau Blanche. TiVo gives us this brief synopsis: "A graduate student uncovers secrets about his pale, sickly girlfriend", with a category of horror/suspense. Hold onto your hats, kids, it's going to be a strange ride.

Thierry and his roommate Henri are out for a few drinks, and end up picking up a couple of hookers. Thierry, alone with his girl, has trouble performing, and when questioned if he preferred the other girl, a redhead, he assures the girl that he does not, that he finds redheads sickly and unattractive. Meanwhile, the redhead in question has attempted to slash his friends' throat, Thierry, hearing the commotion, comes to his aid, and the girl escapes.

Unwilling to call the cops for fear of his parents finding out what was happening, Thierry persuades his friend to walk to a fucking hospital, and give a story about being attacked by skinheads because Henri is black rather than call the cops. I now know the true meaning of a friend, because anyone who would walk around bleeding out of his neck rather than let his bud's parents know that their son was with a whore is a true pal, let me tell you.

Henri's friends and family are outraged by the hate-crime, and stunned that the boys have no descriptions of the attackers.

The next day, Thierry meets and becomes immediately infatuated with Claire, a pale redheaded girl who is the very picture of the type of woman he's not attracted to. As the couple continue to date, she remains distant, and a rift grows between Thierry and his roommates and friends. Claire finally reveals that she has cancer, and is undergoing chemotherapy, and during this process, Thierry meets her mother and two sisters, the youngest of which is the redhead who tried to kill Henri.

Then Henri discovers that the women are succubi.

Yeah, that's right, about forty-five minutes into the film, it's decided/revealed that the women, all four of them, are succubi, and suddenly we're in the middle of a vampire movie, which I for one wasn't really prepared for...I thought 'grad student discovering secrets about sickly girlfriend' lent itself to something less supernatural, but apparently I was wrong.

I didn't really like this that much, too low-key to be a horror film, too weirdly paranoid to be a straight dramatic narrative. A lot of time is wasted with racial tension that is ultimately pointless, as it serves no real point except to cause conflict with Thierry and Henri's relatives.

Pass.

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Interesting Turn Of Events

I thought so, at least.

The most response elicited recently was to a post about the workplace, which I found somewhat fascinating, considering there was also a post fairly recently about a lesbian being sexually harrassed by a stupid guy. If I had been forced to wager on it, I would've figured that lesbians beat disgruntled employees hands down, and I would've been dead wrong. My finger is far, far from the pulse of my readership, apparently. I may have inadvertanly given you nice folks the mistaken impression that you can find something thoughtful or interesting here.

Monday fading into dusk, I am content to be home and filling the box once again with minutiae from the workplace, I found out this morning that by leaving early I was able to narrowly avoid yet another verbal scuffle/power struggle shortly before the store closed, which is nice. I find it to be much like holding a ticket for the Hindenberg that hasn't been cancelled, watching the pretty lights from a distance, glad I missed my ride to the airfield. What amuses the most is that it is always over something asinine that someone feels the need to be in charge of, or something that isn't really that complicated if you don't have several hands in the pot.

Gave the newest (Cool) Shite a spin this morning, caught a link to a film news feedsite that is in the same vein as the Ain't It Cool News site, but has a much less clique-ish sound to its approach. As annoying as the clique thing is, it's only sadder/more annoying when film nerds get involved. Check out Filmrot for a decent overview of recent genre news, all in convenient link format. I also listened to an older Cinemaslave Podcast, which was cool, it actually didn't mention that fucking Crash movie. I swear to God, I've begun to think Joe of Cinemaslave is actually Paul Haggis, or at the very least a cousin of his or something, the way he pimps that movie. It was okay, contrived, but okay, now let it go...yeesh.

Still in the latter half of the Transmetropolitan saga, though they tend to be a quick read, and I'd like to finish it out this week so I can get back to a novel of some sort.

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Sunday, March 26, 2006

It's Late Here

I don't know that I necessarily have a whole lot to add to the world tonight, but in the ongoing effort to squeeze creativity from the turnip, I find myself here once again, bathed in the light of my flat panel Jesus, genuflecting in the unholy sway of the almighty Web, hollow be thy name.

I also notice that being stumped for material seems to bring out the flowery language to a severe degree. This I blame on the recent visual consumption of the first 8 volumes of Warren Ellis' Transmetropolitan, as he tends to wax poetic more often than not, to great effect, whereas I tend to do it to hide a lack of creativity. Look Ma, no plot, just a series of big words.

I recently gave a fellow from work the link to this site, which could have been a mistake; I do tend to wonder if I need a local audience, considering the grim picture I tend to paint about the workplace and the drones contained therein. Upon receiving an e-mail from him questioning my bitterness towards the workplace and the sincerity of peoples' actions/attitudes that he has encountered there, I felt obligated to try and kinda talk him down a bit. Basically, assuring him that my opinions are definitely my own, based on my own experiences and interpretations of events, and re-iterating the fact that I do tend to keep the co-workers at an icy arms' length for my own sake/sanity. Frankly put, I have two friends outside of my fiance who truly know my heart, and I don't need any more. The most I have in common with the majority of co-workers that I've had is the fact that we spend 8 hours a day together, nothing more. Obviously I've made friends that have wormed their way into my black heart, (and they know who they are) but for the most part I've found it easier to try to blend into a background than to ingratiate myself with these people. This is particularly true of the current gig, as most of the people there have a ten year age difference from mine, mostly to the senior.

I must admit, I did feel a little guilty for possibly coloring his views of the work-place. Obviously this has passed, as I find myself discussing it here., but we are talking about a man who fully plans to open his resignation letter with 'Dear Bastards...', so I do tend to move on pretty quickly.

I don't honestly know how many people find any fulfillment in their job, or feel a true kinship with their co-workers, I just have to bluntly say that there has been scant few occasions that either has happened for me. I've had better jobs than this, I've had worse, but I have to say, once I found a way to disconnect myself from the in-fighting and backbiting Mickey Mouse bullshit of it, this has been something of a cakewalk job for me. I like to think that it's a lot like American Beauty, only without my being obsessed with teen pussy: I've got a job with as little responsibility as possible, which suits me pretty well.

Smile, you're at Mr. Smiley's.

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Motel Hell (1980)

A questionable choice to be run on the Sundance Channel, but I had never seen this, and decided to give it a shot. Inspired lunacy abounds, with no ryhme or reason connecting it to how things happen here in the real world.

Farmer Vincent is a simple soul, who runs a motel, Motel Hello, whose second 'o' is burning out, leaving him to run Motel Hell, where he's become a bit of a local celebrity by selling his wonderful smoked meats.

Insert your own jokes here.

He and his sister spend their evenings trapping unwary tourists and passers-by off the nearby country road and burying them up to their necks in a hidden garden, where they are kept for an arbitrary period of time, fattened up via a forcefeeding process, their vocal cords severed to prevent their crying out for help. Grim? Weird? You betcha, but it gets better.

Vincent has a lone survivor early in the film, a young girl that he and his sis try to help recuperate at their motel, with the hope of possibly bringing her into the fold of cannibalistic meat smokers.

Again, your joke goes here.

Vincent has a younger brother who just so happens to be the town sheriff, and has no idea about his family's habits, and falls for the young girl his brother has decided to take as a bride, giving us a nice cannibal stand-off love triangle. From this gloriously lunatic conflict comes a chainsaw fight, with Vincent wearing a pig's head as a mask for the entirety of the battle.

Other wacky highlights of this turkey include Cheers' John Ratzenberger as an unlucky victim, a couple of truly depraved swingers getting taken captive, and Wolfman Jack as the town preacher, in raging Bible thumping glory.

Nice 80's B-movie fun, particularly if you just want a little mindless entertainment that isn't just like every other slasher flick.

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Saturday, March 25, 2006

Weekend Update

The Pomeranian officially lived to see her owner's return, and has vacated the premises, though the chicken rug in the kitchen is much the worse for wear, and the large rug in the den is well and truly fucked. The edge has been gnawed beyond any hope of repair, something the young Yorkie has shown a slight interest in, but not to any great degree, leading me to be rather suspicious of the Pomeranian, who just so happens to have the odd black string turning up in her stool recently. That's right, I CSI'ed it, and carpet fibers never lie.

Cue "Who Are You?" from The Who....

The strangest thing to appear in my e-mail of late (and that's not a challenge, so stop trying to link whatever it is you're trying to send to me...) was a list of links a good friend ran across while shw was trying to find a dress to wear to my wedding. To qoute from her e-mail:

"One minute I was looking at cleavage revealing black dresses, and the next minute this shit."

I have zero interest in digging into the site to try and figure this out, but I was immediately struck with this question: Why does every other site linked here mention Jesus or Christianity in the description? Are the patterns blessed by someone's Baptist minister somewhere in Bumfuck, Arkansas? Because if so, my fiance may have relatives near there....

I was just cracked up by the fact that most of this looks like some sort of listing of where to buy Amish-wear (or make it your damned self), yet linked on the technological wonder that is the internet.

I'll close my thoughts on the subject with this. I don't want to save our planet this bad, and I shudder to meet the person who does.

How was your week?

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Scanners (1981)

Bought this one on the cheap earlier in the week, watched it for the first time tonight. More early Cronenberg, so fasten your seatbelt and get ready for some head-poppin' madness.

There are 4 billion people on Earth, and 237 of them are Scanners, born with amazing telepathic abilities. Our hero is the appropriately named Stephen Lack, who turns up in Cronenberg's Dead Ringers according to the IMDB, and was an 'action vehicle coordinator' for the Gawdafully bad Darkness Falls a few years ago. Homeless when we first meet him, he causes a woman to have a seizure in a mall and is brought in by a scientist (The Prisoner's Patrick McGoohan) who works for a corporation that manufactures a drug that makes the Scanner power more manageable. McGoohan wants Lack to help find information on a Scanner named Revok, played by Michael (Starship Troopers) Ironside, who has organized an underground group of Scanners with their own agenda.

Lack discovers a group of Scanners who have bonded together as a means of mutual support, only to have them gunned down by Ironside's men, and he and a single survivor, Jennifer (Committed) O'Neill eventually regroup with McGoohan, with the information that there is a traitor within his corporation.

Again, decent practical effects go a long way towards selling this one, and I really enjoyed the ride. I would have to say that I was surprised by how fast paced this film was, you are drawn into the action immediately. The only critism I actually have is that some of the dialog was a bit contrived, in that you have Lack's character being completely fished into McGoohan's cause, and willing to die for it after meeting the guy once, saying things like "He's a great man, he's done a lot for our (Scanners) kind.." as if the guy were a lifelong friend, which I had a little bit of a hard time buying.

Good movie, though, and definitely worth the $6.00.

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Videodrome (1983)

I had TiVo'd this off one of the movie channels awhile back, finally gave it a look again last evening. Released during Cronenberg's earlier cycle of body-horror/sci-fi films, I think I may have caught this with friends late one night in my early twenties, and didn't really recall a lot about the film. Which isn't to say that he abandoned the body-horror themes that ran through his earlier work, but he does tend to couch it in more drama in his later works.

The film finds James (Another Day In Paradise) Woods as Max Renn, a network exec for a station that focuses on sex and violence as a rule in their programming. He is made aware of a pirate video signal called Videodrome, which features explicit torture and death, and begins to try and learn of the signals' origins. Along the way, he picks up a girlfriend(?) in the form of an S & M loving Debbie (Heavy) Harry, who is more than a little intrigued with Videodrome, which they eventually uncover originates from Pittsburgh. Harry goes in search of the signals' producer, against Woods better advise, as he's begun to have hallucinations after watching the Videodrome tapes.

Woods seeks advise from a Professor O'Blivion and his daughter, who run the Church Of The Cathode Ray, which seeks to save the world using television as a tool, and they make it apparent that the Videodrome signal is not only causing hallucinations, but is indeed changing Max's body physically.

Well-done practical effects and a nagging question about whether or not what Max is experiencing is hallucination or reality make this one worth a look. A great film that straddles the horror/sci-fi border that Cronenberg has definitely made his own.

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Friday, March 24, 2006

Cadaver Army

I spoke with Derek for an hour or so this evening, which was a lot of fun, as he's always good for a crazy story or two. He had to fire a guy today for sexually harrassing a lesbian that works with them.

"Yeah, it was the weirdest thing, I get into work today, I mention his name, the girl I'm talking to says "are you sure he'll still be here?", I look confused, so she explains further: "well, y'know, after what he said to Katy".

"What did he say to Katy? He's been here two weeks, I've heard him say like two things the whole time."

"Last night he asked Katy if she'd sleep with his girlfriend."

I lost my shit laughing at this point...Derek has heard this guy speak twice in two weeks, and the third thing was something lecherous. Who works like this?
"Hi, I'm Bob, nice to meet everyone."

then a few days later,

"Can you show me the timeclock function again?"

and finally, last evening:

"Hey, would you maybe want to toss my girlfriends' salad? Just asking."

"Wait, where are you going? Come back."

Genius.

I also took the opportunity to compare notes with Derek about The Office, which led into a discussion of the Gareth fellow. We have posed a theory that Mackenzie Crook is somehow related to the equally sickly looking American actor D.J. Qualls, of Road Trip and The New Guy fame. I think that papa was a rolling stone, as they say, and he was forming a weird cadaverous army, so expect to see another brother or two turn up in Asian cinema, as well as good old Bollywood. I was amused to find out that upon spotting Crook in Pirates Of The Caribbean, Derek exclaimed happily "Hey, it's the zombie from The Office!"

What we've learned today: Lesbians don't want to fuck your girlfriend, and my friend Satan's lil Helper will one day have a band called either Urine-Streaming Pomeranians or Cadaver Army.

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Thursday, March 23, 2006

Feedback Thursday

Wow, several bits of commentary from the usual suspects today, and a word from Bruce of the (Cool) Shite gang, which was a pleasant surprise.

I do have to take issue with my friend, Satan's Lil Helper, as I do find the Carlos Mencia stuff pretty even handed, and if you show me a comedian of any ethnicity that doesn't give whitey grief, I'll show you Wayne Brady. Give me something edgey over boring any day of the week. Mencia does have bits that run long, or times when it seems that he wants to coin a catch phrase rather than push the comedy envelope, but I think when he's on, he's on, in the same brutal vein as Chris Rock, George Carlin, or even Bill Hicks. Anyone who has the balls to show outright contempt for his audience at times is okay with me. And as for the 'tighten our borders' bit, I could give a shit, no one's running me out of a job, man, and I don't think you're worried about that either. If some poor bastard wants to dig a ditch for $2.00 an hour, that's his prerogative, but I sure as hell ain't going to be doing it.

I'm more concerned about the white woman I work for trying to find a new way to screw me into working over-time that I don't want than about some migrant worker trying to feed six kids selling oranges.

And don't tell me about any government programs that someone is taking advantage of, because that's a bunch of intangible shit that doesn't effect me on a basic level. If someone was building a shanty beside my house, we might have a problem, otherwise, I could give a shit. That's right, like a Good American, like George Carlin said, the n.i.m.b.y. syndrome: not in my back yard.

I am truly the worst kind of person, because I don't care about that which doesn't effect me directly, and I honestly don't feel any effect from this issue.

Were someone putting me out of a job, or taking an obvious chunk of my paycheck, I'd be pissed.

I don't see this happening.

That said...

Had a nice time of things this evening, actually got to see David for a bit, as the chemo has been keeping him in, he was finally up to an adventure, came by for awhile, watched a few episodes of The Office with me. That show is amazing, the understated humor kills me, the weird comic beats as someone steals a glance at the camera, the weirdly uncomfortable situations Gervais constantly puts his workers in, I could go on forever. Great stuff. One question for you Brits though, is the Gareth fellow actually dead? He looks awful.

K and her mother left for Dallas today, on a whirlwind tour of wedding-related rat-killing, including, in no particular order: meetings with dress-maker, calligrapher and a visit with her friend that lives there.

Not mentioned specifically on the itinerary: Assorted shopping, boutiques, etc.

I'm here with the Yorkie and the future mother-in-law's urine-streaming Pomeranian, who I hope lives to see Sunday. I'll have a hell of a time making it look like an accident.

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Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Getting My Ducks In A Row

Jesus Tapdancing Christ what a hectic day. In an effort to be able to say I've done everything on the last wedding-related memo K has given me, we ran a few errands today, most important of which was the tuxedo mission, as I had no clue at all what I wanted to wear. Thanks to the bored clerks at the recently opened Men's Wearhouse, that was a pretty painless experience, although when the girl asked me the names of my groomsmen, I actually drew a fucking blank on the fourth man. I blame the fact that I've spent the past couple of months wondering if a friend who was ill would be able to be involved in things, and trying to keep an alternate on the bench, ready to jump in if needed, so I hadn't really nailed down a solid list until a week ago.

We had lunch, ran by Best Buy because I don't own all the movies yet, I dropped more money than I needed to and picked up the Mind Of Mencia Season One collection, The Complete Office series, as I've been loving the Ricky Gervais stuff in Extras on HBO, and a cheap copy of Cronenberg's Scanners.

Early afternoon at the church for a meeting with the Pastor for our 'pre-marital' counseling, which has been dragging on for fucking ages, which is our own fault for getting engaged a year ago. He usually likes to do 8 sessions or so, which most couples have to hurry and squeeze in, but our dumbasses got engaged last April, and have been meeting with him around once a month, in my opinion to basically let him know we still want to get married. We did get a few months off during the holidays, 'cause I think he was sick of seeing us.

Today's visit was to be our last, so we now have a few months off until June 3rd.

I'm rather glad, as I was kind of running out of things to tell the man about our lives. Frankly, most of my anecdotes involve more profanity than I'm usually comfortable with using in the company of a man of the cloth.

Things are moving forward, I'm quite happy with it...now if I could just get the work malaise under control, I'd feel like I've set the world on fire.

I guess I'll have to settle for a contained burst of enthusiasm and productivity.

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Race With The Devil (1975)

With a tagline like "If you're going to race with the Devil, you've got to be fast as Hell!", this film lets you know what kind of a corn-ball ride you're in for from the get go.

A post-Easy Rider Peter (The Limey) Fonda heads off with his wife and another couple in a fancy new RV, going away for a much-needed ski vacation. The first night out, they camp off a main road near a creek, cooking out and boozing it up late into the night. While the wives are inside the RV, the two husbands notice a bonfire across the creek, with some folks in strange robes dancing around it, which of course they spy on, as some of the women start to lose their robes in the dance. Everyone's fun is cut abruptly short when the dancing strangers suddenly drive a knife into one of the women in a sacrifice to Satan. This is done by the guy wearing a strange goat-like mask, that our eavesdropping 'heros' thought was nothing more than a wacky party outfit. Me, I'd know right off the bat that it was a Satanic ritual, but I'm a man of the world.

The Satanists catch wind of the interlopers, and give chase, so our daring quartet hop into the RV, and haul ass, barely escaping with a few of the cultists hanging off the back of the motor-home. The town sheriff investigates, they find evidence of a fire and blood, but only uncover a dead dog nearby. Sheriff assures them that they should be on their way, and that he'll see that everything is sorted out. They reluctantly leave town, but the Sheriff's odd behavior puts a bug in their ears that anyone could be suspect, which is an effect that works rather well, as the audience is also left wondering, 'are these just wacky local yokels, or are they in on it?', a feeling that grows with each person they encounter, as the Satanists continue to give chase.

There are laughable chase sequences throughout the film, what passed for exciting at the time I suppose, but I think most modern audiences will find them from quaint to corny, depending on your suspension of disbelief.

Fun movie, the distrust of strangers theme works well, worth a rental just to see Loretta (Hot Lips Houlihan) Swit in a role outside of M.A.S.H.

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Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Lemora: A Child's Tale Of The Supernatural (1973)

This movie was terrible. I've seen several five star ratings for it floating around the net, and I can't imagine why, unless the director has an extended family with internet access and an extraordinary amount of free time.

The movie has a low budget spookhouse feel in that we basically follow 13 year old Lila Lee through a series of encounters with various people, with varying degrees of creepiness. Lila is the daughter of a notorious gangster, on the run and in hiding from the law, leaving Lila to stay with the town minister. She recieves a letter from a mysterious woman known as Lemora, who says that her father is ill, and wants to make peace with Lila before he dies. Lila runs away to meet her father, catching a bus to the town of Asteroth, but on the way, the bus breaks down, and when the bus-driver is attacked by bestial locals, infected with a mysterious plague, Lila finds herself a captive in Lemora's home.

I could go on with more detail about the somewhat convoluted plot for a film in which essentially nothing happens, but I'm going to stop there, suffice to say, there are a few supposedly shocking reveals, but you'll see them coming a mile away. My advise relating to this film is: if you have a choice between elective surgery chosen for you by a bitter ex, or watching this movie, grab the anesthesia and hop on the fucking table.

The strangest thing to me about this film is that your 13 year old protagonist is openly flirted with by basically every adult she encounters, men and women, giving the film a weird pedophilic note that has no particular logic.

Gothic atmosphere, a creepy perfomance by Leslie Gilb, who apparently made this movie and then fell of the face of the fucking planet, 'cause the IMDB has nothing on her, an early role as Lila by Cheryl 'Rainbeaux' Smith, all that be damned, this movie was terrible and should be avoided like the plague that it is.

Should you fall victim to it, don't watch alone as I did, it's not as much fun to make smart-ass comments about a movie to yourself.

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Monday, March 20, 2006

Another iPod Monday

We begin the work-week with no management present, which has apparently become the norm, which leads me to believe that they may actually care even less than I do about this store. Who would have imagined?

I spend a good part of the morning listening to a couple of (Cool) Shite On The Tube podcasts that I'd missed, and a new Mondo Movie, which was interesting. It's funny how many of these things that I listen to are actually produced out of the UK or Australia, including The Horror Podcast, although that one tends to be less analytical than the others in their approach, with a lot of phrases like "...fuck around, some shit happens, then some girls take off their gear." I suppose I find myself easily charmed by accents that don't use "ya'll" as often as I'm used to hearing it, given the West Texas area I live in.

Home for lunch, I discover a deluge of packages waiting on the doorstep, all wedding stuff, I later find out from K, including coffee mugs which bear our names and the wedding date. These are to be put into gift baskets that will be awaiting out of town guests when they check into their hotel rooms. I've been more and more amused by all the wedding trinkets and whatnot that we've had trickling in, I'm waiting for the toilet-paper imprinted with our smiling faces to stock the facilities at the reception venue.

I'm going to have to draw a line there.

I still have the occasional comment popping up here or there for the blog, which makes me feel good that a few people are wandering by here, either by design or by accident. Braving the wilds of the unknown html brackets, I got a wild hair this evening and added a hit counter to the site, just to satisfy my own curiousity about how many people might be getting subjected to this.

That is one major question I've had about the blog world, how does the average person navigate their way through these? I've found a few that interest me with searches for related interests, or the 'next blog' button, but I'm curious how anyone else goes about it.

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Sunday, March 19, 2006

Empire Of The Wolves (2005)

A new arrival via those rental throttling pricks at Netflix, this French thriller was fairly enjoyable, though it did lose steam in the third act, which left it feeling a bit overlong. Written by the same novelist who gave us the Jean (Leon, The Professional) Reno vehicle The Crimson Rivers (which I recall being flawed but somewhat compelling), this film concerns a woman who is having hallucinations, and bouts of amnesia, and how this seemingly unrelated story connects with a series of brutal killings in Paris.

Reno gives us something to snicker at with a blond dye-job and a wierdly styled beard/mustache combo, playing a disgraced cop who is brought back into the thick of things due to his knowledge of the Turkish illegals in Paris, as each of the murder victims are Turkish seamstresses, petite, and red-headed.

There is a nice amount of gritty, brutal violence that the French never seem to shy away from of late, and the story moves along at a fair clip, until the film seems to get too big for its own good, and we are left with what happens in the last reel, which, while it does somewhat successfully tie up loose ends, still feels as if they just HAD to stretch the movie to a full 120 minutes.

I enjoyed it, but I don't think you would need to own it.

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Sky Captain & the World Of Tomorrow (2004)

Caught this one on the old TiVo last night, and I'd have to say, in spite of a few bumps in the plot along the way, I really enjoyed this film. From a first time writer/director, Sky Captian & The World of Tomorrow watches like an hour and a half homage to an era of high adventure and the wonder that we used to hold for the space age.

Gwyneth (Se7En) Paltrow is Polly Perkins, alliterative news reporter in search of the origins of giant robots attacking New York City, and ex girl-friend to our titular character, portrayed by everyone's favorite nanny-diddling Brit, Jude (Love, Honour, And Obey) Law. They follow a trail of clues that leads them from New York, to Nepal, to a British heli-carrier, which finally introduces the one-eyed Franky Cook, Angelina (Mr. & Mrs. Smith) Jolie looking uber-cool as yet another old flame for out illustrious Sky Captain.

Having been to Sin City and enjoying what that had to offer, this film was actually easier to swallow, as it consists of an extraordinary amount of blue-screen, and is visually stunning. Every shot is filtered through a sepia-toned looking glass back into a time that probably hasn't existed outside of a 30's adventure serial and the sci-fi pulps of the time. The 30's feel of the film, tempered with an art deco sensibility and style, finely held together with a grasp of the 50's atomic age feel is quite an enjoyable hybrid for those willing to take the leap of faith.

Yes, there is a a certian element of cheese at work here, but that is to be expected in a film that is an obvious love-letter to a bygone era. I think this would find a comparison with the Indiana Jones films, in the same vein of high adventure, but this is definitely infused with a noir/sci-fi flavor. Give it a look.

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Kunoichi: Lady Ninja (1998)

TiVo, thou art my Jesus Christ, the God position still being firmly held down by the almighty iPod. Thou hast rendered unto me this film with which to fight the afternoon boredom and for that we art grateful, and possibly a little buzzed.

Amen.

Set in fuedal Japan, we have a fairly simple set-up that has a group of female ninjas/nuns seeking revenge for the atrocities committed against them by a Japanese lord and his henchmen, who are seeking one specific girl you has refused the Lord's advances. That said, this film owes a great debt to the Ninja Scroll anime series and seems to have its tongue firmly tucked in cheek for the special 'ninja powers' that each of the women sport. You will find tunneling ninjas that blast forth from the ground to do battle, demon warriors that pull out their own eyes, people that bleed like a fucking SPRINKLER when cut, and lines like (I shit you not) "Ninja power: Nipple shock wave!"

Corny as all hell, but a fun way to kill a couple hours if you aren't expecting high art and just want to see some larger than life action and somewhat dated effects.

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Saturday, March 18, 2006

O Warren Where Art Thou?

Fair warning, internet wanderers, this will contain a large amount of nerdy comic-book related yammerings, not for the easily bored, nor those without a stout tolerance for all things dorky.

The evil assistant manager who actually had the audacity to give me shit about being 20 minutes late on the day of the week when we are notoriously slow and dead, then decided to reward me by letting me leave a full two hours early?

Given such abundant free time, I decided to delve into the stack of books left over from, oh, CHRISTMAS that I still haven't read, which happened to include a set of the Transmetropolitan compilations by Warren (Global Frequency) Ellis. A fine book that I managed to miss out on when I quit buying comics around five years ago in favor of paying the rent and eating on a semi-regular basis. Given the current circumstances of a co-habitational situation that allows for a little extra money, and recently getting back online with more regularity, I find myself checking out some of the stuff that I've missed out on.

Deciding to boogie on over to the www.warrenellis.com for all the info on the man himself, I was rather puzzled by the set-up of his site. Now, unless I'm just completely overlooking the most obvious links, there's not a stitch of true bio/bibliography information on his site beyond what you may happen to run across in one of the (rather) random posts that are categorized by topic. Honest to God, the very first thing you encounter on his main page isn't about the writer, but a list of links he (or a lackey) has compiled for the day of odd news stories and the like.

While I've always found his comic work to have a very forward thinking grasp of technology and genetics, I wasn't prepared for his website to be set up as a hub for a million other articles that somewhat reflect this view. I have particularly enjoyed the way technology has been presented in his work usually in a passing, matter-of-fact kind of way, nothing specifically drawing attention to itself, just things that I've thought after reading, "Yeah, there should be something like that invented.", very refreshing in a field where most writers have details like that in their press release about the books.

Informationally speaking, the most I can hope for with Ellis seems to be what can be gleaned from the various posts that are categorized by subject (photography, non-comics work, etc.), most of which has fuck-all to do with his actual work, and tends to be news stories about him, or photos of promotional materials for his many projects.

I am very disappointed by how little you actually get from the writer's main site, and I do realize that you can trade messages with him on any number of his journals and blogs, I was just expecting a tad more self promotion on the dedicated web address.

Or am I missing something?

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Friday, March 17, 2006

High Plains Dipshit

Let me try to describe the latest work-related atrocity that has recently befallen my trembling eyebulbs, and impress upon you, dear internet victim, the true measure of what it means to be in the presence of someone so socially retarded that their judgement fails them at every turn.

At the workplace, we have on staff a certian delivery person, one who has quite an illustrious and, to my mind, questionable past. It would seem that said individual was once in the military, in a position of some importance, according to his own tales, involving operations of a nuclear submarine. This gentleman (hold your titters until the end) now works two jobs, one for us, during the day, delivering flowers, the second at night delivering for a restuarant.

Nuclear submarines.

Flowers and take-out.

There's a real big fucking drop-off here.

My boss doesn't question this, but I feel we're missing a REAL big piece of the puzzle between honorable military service and delivery-boy, call me the suspicious type if you want.

Let me first preface today's events with a short description of this character, by way of an example. Imagine you work for a film company, and one day you're filming an afterschool special about someone who gets touched in their swimsuit area by a stranger. Now in your imagination, think about the fellow you would have sent to the set if you called central casting and said, "Send me a pedophile."

Now imagine that my fucking co-worker is creepier looking than THAT guy, and you're getting warmer, just a slimey looking, shadowy, lurker creature that one might find in their bushes, possibly carrying that pair of underwear you thought you lost at the laundromat in his tattered raincoat pocket.

Once you have a reasonably formed image in your head, what I want you to do next is try to drop a straw cowboy hat onto his head, something similar to what one might have seen Bret Michaels of Poison fame sporting back when he still had a career, say the Unskinny Bop era, or perhaps something Al Jourgensen of Ministry wears. You'll also want to make it a little ill-fitting, so it sits atop the head as if waiting for any better offer to leap off and toss its fate to the four winds, and you also want to see it crimped all to hell on each side, as if it has definitely seen better days. Complete this get-up with relatively normal street clothes, t-shirt, jeans, with worn sneakers, like all the true-grit, hardcore cowpoke types wear here in the Lone Star State.

This image in your tingling, possibly somewhat revolted cerebellum still won't do justice to what I witnessed strutting about our store today, so taken aback was I that I actually had to question the origins of the hat, assuming it was something he'd owned for years, possibly bought from a seedy local in some strange port of call during his sea-going stint. Crushing disappointment met my queries, as he informed me that it was a newly prized treasure bought a few days ago from a fucking 7-11, that he was obviously quite proud of, and why, did I not like it?

Thoroughly confused on every level, I had to retreat, mumbling something about it not being my taste, but to each their own, staggered back to my desk to mull over two things:
A) Yes, he CAN actually look creepier than usual,
and
B) I finally know who would buy those odd items of clothing that are for sale side by side with the Slim-Jims and the various brands of prophylactics at our local convenience store.

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Thursday, March 16, 2006

And Would You Like Ketchup With That?

I'm not sure what her problem was, but I'm relatively sure she was new, because it's become my experience of late that the drive-thru help tends to treat the request for ketchup as if you've just asked them for a fucking kidney or something. I secretly maintain the idea that they tell these people on the first day of work that the McDonald's corporation will take one day off of their children's lives for every ketchup packet that they give out of their own free will.

Stunned, was I, your humble narrator, when I found what can only be described as an exorbitant amount of ketchup, in handy packet form, nestled, quite sexily, I might add, betwixt my piping hot, grease-laden french fries.

Said fries already beginning their God-given task of soaking the brown paper bag clear with their greasey abundance, working at the car seat next.

The joy that filled my greasey heart was near tangible, for once in my miserable fast food life I would have condiments aplenty to enjoy with my meal, rather than having to hope to God that the old, half empty bottle of Heinz was still knocking around in the back of the refrigerator at home. The one that you break out on emergencies, the one that has seperated, with that weird watery substance floating around atop the ketchup proper, that no amount of futile shaking will ever put right.

Nay, none of that for me, not tonight, and I sped happily away, trying not to think about the fact that the poor girl would probably have her wages docked for giving me eight packets of precious fast food currency.

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Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Near Dark (1987)

Eshcewing HBO's Big Love in favor of a more familiar, scenery-chewing Bill (Frailty) Paxton, I gave Kathryn (Strange Days) Bigelow's Near Dark a spin this evening, courtesy of the rental throttling pricks at Netflix. I can't honestly remember if I'd seen the entire film before or not, but I enjoyed it quite a bit.

I'm not certian what state(s) this is supposed to take place in, but I did catch mention of Oklahoma and there is a Kansas police car in one scene, but I honestly had to identify the areas they visit with the familiar desolation of West Texas.

Basic plot has Caleb, simple cowboy type, pursuing Mae, a cute young stranger that he runs into in town, they spend a flirty night, then shortly before dawn, she bites him amidst heavy necking, and disappears across a plowed field towards her family's trailer. His truck won't start, and as he stumbles home, sicker by the moment, said family zooms by in a motor home with blacked out windows and scoops him up.

After a few false starts, when the rag-tag 'family' is trapped, Caleb has a chance to prove himself to them, and finally earns their respect, starting to accept his new vampire life and become accepted into the group. Of course, his worried father and younger sister turn up around this point and he's forced to choose between his loved ones and the girl he's come to love, and all the crazy vampire baggage that comes with her.

This movie isn't designed to be particularly scary, but the atmosphere draws you in, and the characters are interestingly drawn, you find yourself lost in their moral ambivalance. I liked the vaguely rainy, deserted little one-horse towns that Bigelow brings her characters to, it's an interesting background. I was also pleasantly surprised to find what felt like half the cast of Aliens on display here, apparently not so coincidental considering Bigelow was married to Aliens director James (Terminator) Cameron.

Decent film, worth a rental for sure, just for a different take on vampires that doesn't completely go apeshit in a Matrix-y fashion, Underworld, Blade, I'm looking in your general direction.

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Time To Fill Up The Box

Words will go here, in this box, to tell people I've never met something about myself that they'll find interesting. I get caught up in a billion other things online, which makes this daily filling of the 'compose post' box sometimes difficult and frustrating, as I feel like this stuff should stand alone, and not be involved with what I have to say about a particular film or with the (very) mundane details of the days' events. I find myself actually composing things in my head at work, trying to come up with an interesting opening line, to fish in the casual 'next Blog' button presser, something that might actually keep them around, might have them checking out the profile, maybe even book-marking the address because who knows, maybe it gets funnier if you come back on a different day.

I try to come up with an interesting opening line, yes, that's right, I said it, and I know you may find yourself thinking, 'and that's what you fucking settled on?', yes, it's the painful truth of it, folks, this is simply as good as it gets, for now. If you stick it out with us (my self doubt and I), there's a very good chance that it could get better, over time.

Of course, I could end up screwing both of us on that deal, as well. Only time will tell.

Hey, the box is full, I can finally stop.

Son of a bitch, when this publishes, you can't see the box, nor how gloriously full it is, and I just sound like a lunatic.

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Tuesday, March 14, 2006

The Tesseract (2003)

I actually had a chance to watch this film that the TiVo grabbed a few days ago Monday evening.

This was directed by one half of the Pang Brothers (The Eye), Oxide Pang Chun, and has me rather confounded over my impressions of it. On one hand, you have a few instances of rather contrived circumstances that I hated about Crash, our recent best picture, things that have you saying "Oh, come on", and there is some camera work that is downright distracting in the effort to be 'edgy'.

That said, there are a few surprises, and the length of the film is beautifully photographed, and a lot of the camera tricks do work very well. I got the feeling that Pang was trying too hard to impress, and in the effort felt he had to shoot his creative wad all in one fell swoop rather than using less style to serve his narrative.

What a narrative, based on a novel by Alex Garland (who apparently also gave us The Beach, basis of the Danny Boyle film), it tells the story of four different people, whose lives intersect in a seedy Thai hotel. An English Psychologist, grieving her son's death, an English drug trafficker waiting out a deal, a young Thai bell-hop trying to thieve his way out of the ghetto, and a wounded female assassin awaiting instruction as to her next target all figure into one anothers' lives, via a series of flash-backs, flash-forwards and some inventive camera trickery.

Jonathan (I'll Sleep When I'm Dead) Rhys Meyers, playing his typical twitchy/sleazy druggie type is the only star I was familiar with, and has a majority screen-time, I believe, but is far from a sympathetic character. Actually, there aren't any characters you really root for, and the closest you might come is pity for a few of them.

I enjoyed the film, and would watch it again, just to try to unravel the various timelines that are told in such a disjointed, ultimately distracting manner. A flawed experiment in cinema, this is still worth a look.

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Monday, March 13, 2006

No Sudden Movements

Work finally behind me, after a long, typically boring Monday that I passed away quietly behind my desk, trying to be as unobtrusive as possible. They can smell your fear, and more inportantly, if they detect movement, they'll be down on you like a fuckin' raptor out of Jurassic Park, so the secret is to be as still and self-involved as humanly possible, so as to make your life simpler, you draw no attention to yourself, and in fact, the only time they truly notice that you're there is when the phone is ringing off the wall and no one else can be bothered to answer it. Only then are you a vital, integral part of the machine, and how the hell dare you be caught slacking off and doing your own work at your desk whilst they would be much better served with you doing their job for awhile, leaving your work undone and abandoned at your desk like that unpleasant child left behind in a supermarket to fend for itself.

But enough about that cesspit, I find that I spend too much time actually dwelling on and come close to caring about it when I'm there, I'm resentful of the fact that I even find it creeping in at the corners of my private life.

I can proudly say that I've made some kind of contribution to this thing every day for a solid week now, and there has been sporadic commentary drifting in, which is nice, and not just from the three friends I've told about the site. I've enjoyed the 'next blog' button a lot, as the sheer bizarro chain of sites it brings up is hilarious. I go from my boring self-indulgent shit to pics of someone's Israeli sweet sixteen party, a site about the best loan APR currently being offered, onward into someone's junky diary, then into a 70 year old man's ramblings about the way the government is fucking us on a daily basis. Wow.

I have tomorrow off, which is an odd day for me, but I can use the time to run several errands, not the least of which is to get the car inspected before I get hassled by the cops about it, and I also need to go look into the tuxedo situation for the wedding. We're getting closer and closer, June 3rd is creeping up on us faster than I realize, hell, K and I have the second anniversary of the first date coming on April 3rd...when the hell did that happen?

I feel as though I'll post something next week about our 5th wedding anniversary, then spend a dozen paragraphs wondering where in the name of God the time went. I suppose time truly passes without you realizing it when you are actually happy with your life. It's certianly been a long time since I could say that, hence the surprise when it occurs to me how smoothly things are going.

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Sunday, March 12, 2006

Sunday Afternoon (Or,Wow, There's Really Fuck-All On Television..)

I find myself online out of a general boredom, feeling like I could just catch a nap, but would much rather try to do something at least vaguely constructive. I was rather annoyed to find out that one of the few interesting sounding writing competitions I'd run across online has actually ended, and that the site itself isn't taking any new submissions until late spring, as they are tied up with the people who actually got submissions into their contest on time.

I didn't read far enough into the main page when I ran across it, just book-marked it for later perusal, as it turns out what I read as an entry deadline was actually a publication date for the winners of said contest, ah, alas...perhaps next time. I'm still looking for other options, I really feel that the contest route may be the way to go, as I have zero desire in trying to retain some sort of representation to do leg work for me in actually getting something published, and I know that I'm too unmotivated to do anything too heavy myself, unless I am assured a return on the hassle. On the other hand, banging out a story, essay or whatnot, paying an entry fee, and waiting for a response, that I can totally do.

If anyone happens to have any ideas on the subject, feel free to shoot me a link to a site, or give me some information about something that is looking for submissions, preferably in the general fiction, horror or the personal essay genres, 'cause let's be realistic, there's no way in hell I can bluff my way through some kind of Christian fiction writing contest.

Missing out on the above 'zine is really kinda annoying, as I'd like to be able to say that I entered the Raymond Carver short story contest, but what can ya do, we were apparently buying the computer I'm typing this on around the time that ship sailed. I guess I was enjoying the idea of having my name hypothetically published in association with such a figure in short fiction. I suppose the search begins anew, and I may have to break down and look around the local bookstores for a few small press magazines, though I fear they may be quite clique-ish and more to the point, rather over-priced, and I have a hard time dropping in excess of $7.00 for a slim volume of depressed existentialism from a group of grad students who probably hate my ass on general principal.

Of course, that is my schtick as well, so who am I to judge?

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Saturday, March 11, 2006

Candyman (1992)

Caught this one on cable this evening, out of a 'well there's nothing else on' hole that everyone has fallen into. I believe I've seen this one before, but for the life of me, I couldn't remember any real details about things. I have the vaguest of recollections about Barker's original story, but I doubt it has more than a fleeting connection with the film of the same name.

Virginia (Sideways) Madsen is a student working on a thesis with a friend about urban legends, when they encounter the legend of The Candyman, a killer with a hook for a hand that haunts a building in the Chicago projects called Cabrini Green. They begin to delve into the legend, and more importantly, recent deaths in and around the projects, only to discover a very real person has appropriated the characters name. Madsen has a run-in with this character in a public toilet outside the slum, and then presses charges. It's only when she leaves the police station that she encounters Tony (Night Of The Living Dead '90) Todd, our true hook-handed villian, who tells her that he needs her to be his victim, and bring back his power of myth, ala something later addressed in a legend losing its power in Freddy Vs. Jason. Madsen suitably black out.

Madsen awakes to have been framed for murder by The Candyman, and finds herself either the victim of a conspiracy that has no tangible proof, or the victim of her own slipping sanity.

I enjoyed the film, there are many operatic, almost religious choral-styled music cues that have a nice effect, as well as many airiel tracking shots of the city and all of the urban decay that help set the scene and mood of the film quite well.

Decent rental prospect, nothing too new, but a fun ride. Worth owning for Barker completists, or for horror fans.

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Without A Paddle (2004)

I had Tivo'd this a few days ago, and finally gave it a spin this afternoon. Basically, I knew nothing about the film, and was watching the movie for the Matthew (SLC Punk) Lillard content, which is always a big selling point, as that tall lanky bastard cracks me up.

Three childhood friends, all in various stages of disenchantment with their personal lives and careers, are reunited by the death of their fourth childhood friend, Tommy, who had apparently been orchestrating a trip into the wilderness area that D.B. Cooper disappeared in to search for the treasure that they, as boys, always knew was there. After the map and new information telling them that their friend had still been planning the trip surfaces post-funeral, they decide to honor his memory by going through with the adventure.

Much fairly predictable hilarity ensues, as we get a lot of typical fish-out-of-water, city-slickers style comedy, including harrowing encounters with nature, hillbilly pot farmers, and a couple of earth-child hot hippie honeys trying to save a tree from a logging company. The oddest turn is, by far, Burt (Smokey And The Bandit)Reynolds in a near unrecognizable role.

I enjoyed the film, it has a few laugh out loud moments, and even when it's predictable, it's still a fun journey. There is a moral that they try to tack onto things, which is acceptable, but most people will be interested in bumbling city-folk out of their element, not in the film-maker wanting people to learn something.

Fun, worth your rental, I don't know if anyone needs to own this unless it's pretty cheap.

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Friday, March 10, 2006

Depressing Things I Thought About Outside The Liquor Store

I hit the liquor store this evening after work, as I wanted to have a cocktail or two in celebration of the first full weekend off I've had in a looong time. As I headed back to the car, I noticed a girl in a car, possibly in her teens, checking her makeup while her forty-something mother trotted into the store. Starting the car, I saw another vehicle pull in beside me, and another mom get out and leave a daughter in the pickup while she ran into the store for mother's little helper.

Sitting in my Saturn with a large bottle of Vodka might not seem the most appropriate place to be when judging someone, but I guess I have more balls than I would have imagined. I found it kind of depressing to see these folks exposing their children to what is basically a self-destructive habit at such a young age. The truly bizarre thing is, I would have very little problem drinking in front of my fictional children, but I would never dream of leaving them in a running car while I ran into a store for a sixer of Guinness and a bottle of Scotch. There's just something about the acquisition of the items that I don't like, and I don't understand what the particular twist is in my mind that allows the consumption of the item, but not the purchase of it. I guess it is just because it is a self-destructive item/pattern, I wouldn't especially want my kids to know where to buy items that I'd prefer that they avoid.

I have never understood the people I knew when younger that got drunk with their parents, or in one amazingly depressing case, a guy I worked with who told me about his father (who eventually died of an overdose) being the first person to show him how to cook up a shot of heroin. It was just something that I started to think about on the way home after seeing the 'tweens hanging out waiting for their respective moms in the parking lot of the liquor store, and it kinda extrapolated into a little circular logic rant about bad parenting.

I don't really have any kind of point with this, and to be perfectly honest, my general attitude runs to the negative side of things anyway, so a part of me wonders why I'm even surprised by what I saw this evening. I guess I would hope that we could do better than we are as a culture, and maybe this is me drawing a small line in the sand for myself, that I won't be taking little baby/junior/sonofabitch on a beer run in a couple of years when K and I have decided to procreate.

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Hitch-Hike (1978)

Watched this flick via the old Netflix this evening, as I had heard it recommended via the Mondo Movie Podcast (I'm certianly getting a lot of mileage out of the iPod recently, aren't I?) , in reference to Peckinpah's Straw Dogs.

The set-up is fairly simple, as we begin the film with a couple on a camping trip, hunting and pulling their camper across the Southwest. Things begin to look amiss as we see the husband (Django's Franco Nero) watching his wife (Corinne Clery) through a rifle scope, and this only goes further downhill when we see them actually interact with one another. Obviously estranged, we follow them through a few embarrassing encounters with fellow campers, and the husband basically forcing himself on his spouse before the true action of the film begins, as they pick up a hitchhiker, David (Last House On The Left) Hess, in a typically sleazy role.

Having just been involved in a robbery and double-crossing his partners, he takes the couple hostage and starts to abuse and humiliate Clery while brainstorming ideas for a book he wants Nero, a reporter, to write about his life and adventures.

There are actually a few surprises to the film, and Hess is exceptionally unpleasant, with the comparisons to Straw Dogs involving the ambiguity of the rape scene being mirrored here between both the husband and Hess' encounters with Clery.

Not a great film, it was entertaining, not too shabby for a rental, nothing I need to own though.

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Thursday, March 09, 2006

A Trip Down Indie Lane

Boring day at work, save for the newest iTunes discovery, a little Podcast called Indie Spinner Rack, which has a couple of pretty knowledgeable guys talking about the indie comic scene, which, while I'm not even remotely into comics anymore, is still rather enjoyable. They talked about a lot of stuff I would actually like to check out in the compilation form, and since I gather their ages are in the early to mid-thirties, I found their frame of reference very indentifiable, they actually have a sense of the history of the medium. A lot of things you encounter on the net, and in the radio show stuff David had played for me seems to have no idea that the comic medium existed before the early nineties, and the arrival of the Image artists.

This is worth a look for any fan of the independent comic world, or for anyone who wants to know why, as they said many years ago 'comics aren't just for kids anymore'.

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Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Thank God And Greyhound You're Gone

Having watched K's Mother's new Pomeranian for the past month while the Mother In Law was out of town, I find myself with newfound appreciation for the old Roy Clark standard that occasionally makes its way into my trembling ear-bulbs via the magnificent technology that is the iPod. Thank god and Greyhound that dog is gone, indeed. I've never been so frustrated with an animal that I couldn't just drop off at the pound before, and I was rather impressed with my own restraint concerning the matter, though I'm certian K would argue that one with me. In my defense, folks, we went, overnight, from being a single dog household, said dog having learned fairly well what the potty pads were all about over a series of months, to a two dog household, the new one of which treated our entire fucking house as a toilet.

Imagine not being able to walk from your bedroom to your kitchen without stepping in cold urine at least three or four times, and you might get a taste of what I've been up against for the past 30 days, folks. It hasn't been an easy journey, when you consider the fact that the Yorkie still does her business properly, usually while watching her Pom cohort stand in full view of anyone and piss on the sofa, with a vacant "What? Why are you screaming?" look in her glazed little eyes. It's my understanding that if one animal is trained, the others will pick it up fairly quickly. This hasn't been the case with young Sabrina, in fact the Pom in question did everything save for write her name in feces on the walls whilst pissing on our curtians during her stay at our now humbled, urine-stained abode.

Bus station men's rooms in poor neighborhoods don't smell as bad as what hits me in the face when I come in the back door of the house.

Now that we are a 100% Pomeranian free, I guess we can begin the long, tedious process of having the house de-loused, burning area rugs, Cloroxing the floors, and having an old priest and a young priest over to try and get the foul demon odor out of the corner of the bedroom that the dog's bed was in.

The Yorkie, she still rocks, she's just a solo act again, and that's the way it should always be.

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The Little Girl Who Lives Down The Lane (1976)

Got this one in the mail today from the old Netflix, gave it a spin to see what it was all about. This was a flick K was interested in seeing, though neither one of us can remember where the hell she heard about it.

Basic story is as follows: Jodie Foster in a bad wig as Rynn, a 13 yr old girl whose father's dying wish was that his daughter live quietly and independently in the secluded house he'd leased for 3 years. All goes well, until a creepy land-lady, and her even creepier son (a slimey Martin Sheen) start nosing around, intent on finding out why no one has seen her father in quite some time. Rynn eventually finds a friend/accomplice in Mario, a boy around her own age who happens by and helps her at a crucial moment in the film. Made the same year as Taxi Driver, this film has a very strong performance from both of the young actors, Foster is quite believable as the serious, adult-acting teen, trying to keep everyone in the small, rural village out of the quiet, simple life her father has made for her before his death.

Very interesting film, well worth the rental.

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The Long Afternoons' Journey Into Night

Lazy day off, which is nothing new, I find myself just bumping around the house with no real interest in watching anything and not enough concentration to actually sit still and read a book, so we find ourselves here again. Got up around ten this morning, got all the paperwork together so we could make the trek out to the airport area to the main Post Office and get the wheels in motion on my passport, which was actually surprisingly easy. I honestly felt like I could have had a slightly weathered, handmade birth certificate that I put together on the computer, and they would've gladly accepted it as long as it had a small crimped seal notarizing it as being "from the library of David W. Cochran" down in the lower corner. Nothing notable about the seal, except that David is the only friend I've had who has one of those stamps for his books.

I picked up the newest Rue Morgue Magazine yesterday afternoon, and I've been thumbing through that a bit. It has a large piece on The Hills Have Eyes remake, which I've been looking forward to, from Alexandre Aja, who brought us last year's High Tension. That film, despite its' flawed plot twist near the end, was still pretty damned good, unrelenting in it's violence and gore, a very gritty and visceral experience. I'm also still working my way (slowly) through Naked by David Sedaris. Sedaris has a perfect blend of sarcasm, satire and heart that gives his work charm you don't find in a lot of other writers. I don't know how fictionalized his work tends to be, but there are stories that read like witty autobio, and then other pieces that just drop you down a rabbit-hole so fast it'll make your head swim.

Holidays On Ice is a good starting point, as it is a slim little volume containing, I think, six stories, all relating to Christmas. It'll give you a good feel for his work, and let you know if he's your cup if tea.

I've come to the decision that the Dear Bastards may be updated more than once a day, as I may find myself with new ramblings as the day progresses. The whole idea of this little fiasco is that I'm going to be forcing myself to pursue the writing in whatever form it may take, with the general idea that a theme or pattern may eventually make itself evident. The only problem is that the general public will be privy to these clumsy plodding steps and growing pains, which are usually reserved for a much more limited audience.

Perhaps I need an editor.

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Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Where I'm Coming From

You write it down.

You write it all down

You do it because no matter what kind of security you find in your later life, the reality of the poverty of your childhood is always fresh on your mind, like a hang-nail that catches on everything, yanks you back to the real world, where everything sucked and you'd never have anything or amount to anything, where getting by was as good as it was ever going to get, where you could be happy, content on some level if you could just buy any kind of sad little trinket or toy or comic book to try to fill the fucking void in your life that you didn't even realize was there, not even on a subconcious level. You had to know something was wrong with things, but as a child you just drifted through, wishing for an imaginary better life that would never come, and even if it did come along, you'd never let it work out because that'd mean letting someone else into the misery and self-loathing that had become your existence, and who in their right mind would ever sign up for a tour of duty like that?

There is something fundamentally wrong with a child knowing, intangibly, that there is something wrong with their life, and being ashamed of the way that they have to live, not being able to have friends over, not being able to feel any sense of pride beyond their own accomplishments and behavior.

You write it down, you write it all down, because it's a hell of a lot easier to see it here than to feel it in your heart, even after all these long years .

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Monday, March 06, 2006

Brian's 30th Birthday

I'm actually trying to write a bit ahead of myself, so that I can just pop in on the particular day, possibly edit a few details, then add a comment or whatever about the days' specifics, then post that mother. We'll see how long this lasts, I can totally see myself jumping online desperately each night, mumbling my way through some half-assed "uh, some stuff happened today...hmnn, I hate work...um..yeah" type of shit within a week from now. The whole idea for me, knowing my personal habits will be to build up a bit of momentum, and maintain the routine.

Work was typical, listened to several different Podcasts, including a new Pickled Embryo, the Cinemaslave Oscar wrap-up, and the new Horror Podcast, which was actually kind of boring. I have to say, I find the info and discussion on the Mondo Movie Podcast more interesting than anything else that I've encountered so far.

I got out of work at a normal time, had a few cocktails before we met Brian and his family at Outback for dinner, just for fun, since I'm off tomorrow. We had dessert at his aunt's house, then we came home, I returned a few e-mails, and decided to work on this little time-sink, and now we find ourselves here together once again.

I'm still finding a lot to love on the new Hank III album, it's pretty amazing, the songs are full of mourning and self -destruction and an amazing amount of truth, and I ended up listening to it on steady rotation for most of the afternoon, and am actually kinda jealous of a friend who will get to see him in Houston on the 14th of March.

K and I almost made plans to see her friend Morris in Dallas for his birthday later this month, but he's going to be tied up with a class for his job, so I don't actually have to fight the boss about it, which is fine, though I do sort of enjoy our little sparring over who has the upper hand in our relationship.

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Prozac Monday

The new Hank III on the iTunes as I type this, giving things a nice melancholy flavor. Mondays are always rather anticlimactic in my job, since I usually feel like I have to psych myself up to paste on a happy face and dance for these people, and all we ever do is the typical Monday morning shooting the shit, how was your weekend thing, though I doubt any of these people actually care about each others lives. I may be putting a totally cynical spin on these folks, reading my own personal attitude into their lives, but I somehow doubt it. I have a very negative vibe towards the workplace lately, but I think I'm just being more honest about things than anyone else is willing to. It's not that I feel like I'm any more bitter than anyone else, I'm just more up-front about things; they want to bicker and fight amongst themselves, I just pop on the iPod headphones and listen to whatever and tune it all out.
I think that most of the co-workers, if given the choice, wouldn't really associate with one another unless forced to do so. I just take myself out of that equation, and it seems to annoy some of them, which I find puzzling...why do you care whether or not I play your reindeer games or not? If you want to wallow in the misery and vomit of all the bickering and back-biting, knock yourself out, but me, I'm out. I have less important things to do, like sleep and dig in my ass.
Okay, so I can't do either at the job, but I do tend to keep to myself, and still find myself drawn into others' drama against my will. I'm still looking for a way to change this, since no matter how disinterested I appear to the casual eye, someone always has a question, a favor, something that they need that interrupts the solitude. This will be a theme that becomes more apparent as the blog goes on, hence the idea that I need to write for a living, a truly solitary pursuit.
I also hold a certian amount of bitterness for Mondays when neither the boss, nor the assistant manager can be bothered to work on what is conceivably the second busiest day of the week.
Watched 'Prozac Nation' this evening, it was okay, but nothing I need to own, or watch again anytime soon. Odd gratuitious nude scene from Christina Ricci near the beginning was a pleasant surprise, otherwise, you just watch her and mother Jessica Lange alternately have depressive screaming jags for an hour and forty-five minutes.

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First Volley Fired...

This will be an attempt at forcing myself to write something on a daily basis, because the day-job thing has certainly gotten old, and I know that I'd much rather spend my time in front of a computer than in front of my boss, having another one of her 'come to Jesus' talks, as I like to think of them. I've reached a point in my life that will allow me to explore other avenues that don't involve scraping the rent together and barely affording food, and I'm committed to taking full advantage of that. The fiance has expressed interest in my doing some kind of writing, and I've decided that the easiest way to get that whole ball rolling is to commit to something online, even if I end up bitching about what films I watched this evening, and bemoaning the state of Hollywood on a daily basis.

That said, what the hell is going on with the Oscars that Crash can win Best Picture? Not that I didn't enjoy the movie, but could the film have been any more predictable and contrived? I have no problem with the subject matter, and have greatly enjoyed similar ensemble pieces ('Short Cuts' springs to mind) , but this film felt as if EVERY single event was carefully constructed to take us into the next bit of racism so we can feel like we have learned a lesson, so we can feel like we can shake our finger at those unenlightened people on the screen, so we can look inwards and examine what kind of racism we harbor within ourselves. Yeesh, give me a break, Haggis, do I really need you to tell me that everyone is a racist on some level? This film was decent, nothing new, no new conclusions to be drawn, yet it has been amazingly well rewarded, which just leads me to believe that I need to pursue screen-writing. I have no problem telling you things that you already know for a huge paycheck.

Sign me up, Daddy.

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