Sunday, December 30, 2007

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Back Home

As you can guess from the headline, me and Leah came home to STL today. I didn't have a terrible holiday break, but I am glad to be home. I still can't believe that I'm NOT going back to school in a few weeks. Strange days indeed.

Tomorrow is Sunday, and I plan on cleaning up and working on getting work. I'm afraid that's going to be the name of the game for a few weeks (hopefully not longer than that). I need money. I just paid my bills and I have very little left.

So yeah, I'm still freaking out...

Friday, December 28, 2007

(Still) In KC

Yep, still in Kansas City.

We were going to go home today, but there was supposed to be a snow storm...and it was a week day (which meant I wasn't going to be able to say goodbye to everyone). So here we are, still in KC. Tomorrow we're leaving for sure, though. I'm both relieved and dreading it. On one hand, I want to get home and find a job...on the other I hate that long drive.

So what have I been doing? Not a thing. Yesterday night we watched HAIRSPRAY (the new one) on DVD. It was actually really good (which surprised/shocked me). Today we went to the mall--it was slightly amusing. I hate the malls out here, but they remind me of my youth (in High School that's all we used to do...just go and hang out at the mall). We've been toying around with going to a movie, but no one really seems all that excited about going out again.

Not sure what we're doing for New Year's Eve. I'm toying around with having a get together at our place (but honestly, who would we invite?). Anyway, I've had a pretty good little break.

Lizard Petroglyph

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

An HP Commercial About Creativity

It's late. Leah's in bed, and I'm watching VH1 (I know, I'm lame). Anyway, I just saw a really good commercial (for HP laptops) featuring Gwen Stefani (of all people) that totally sums up how creativity works. A lot of people I know, who aren't active in the arts, don't understand how the creative process works...this commercial sums it all up.

You're My Boy BLUE, You're my boy...

I always did want blue hair, but Leah (and the world) would never let me...

Thanks PhotoShop!!!

Monday, December 24, 2007

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Real Deal?

Or is this more "fan art"?

The new claim is that THIS is what the CLOVERFIELD monster will look like:

I hope not...looks too much like Godzilla. I was hoping for something, really different (maybe something on four legs--rather than a biped).

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Snowball Fight

Well, I'm back home in KC. I had no trouble until I reached Blue Springs...when it started snowing. When I got home, we all played ROCK BAND for a really long time (I even sang a song!). To get my little sister, Lindsey, to practice her saxophone I agreed to participate in an after dark snowball fight.

Before the fight was over, I had a bit of a wardrobe malfunction...

Friday, December 21, 2007

Fake Monster

Okay so as stated, I spent yesterday at the movies. It was great! I hadn't been in forever, and I didn't have much to do. While I was there I saw a bunch of trailers (most of them sucked) but there were two that rocked--the (non-teaser) trailer for THE DARK KNIGHT (new Batman movie) and CLOVERFIELD.


Part of me wants to know everything I can about this movie, and another part wants to just go in cold (well, lukewarm...I already know so much). As the release date draws nearer, I'm finding more and more spoilers online. But there is one spoiler I'd probably look at--because I'm so damn curious...

What does the CLOVERFIELD monster look like?

Here is a (really well done) piece of fan-art that a bunch of idiots are saying is the real thing (it's not):

Whoever did this is well-versed in all things CLOVERFIELD. Notice the whale features (the tie-in site makes several mentions of a fish that "turned into a whale"). Also, the parasite the creature is reported to have would make sense if Cloverfield's monster is whale related (barnacles anyone?). But alas, this is a fake.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

A Fistfull of Movie Tickets

Boy am I sad.

I woke up, with nothing to do (I have a novel that needs finishing? Oh yeah...) so I decided to spend my day at the movies. I got online and remembered that my friend (whom I haven't spoken to in a while) Jimu recommended I AM LEGEND, so I decided to see that. Then I saw THE MIST. I have tickets for the midnight showing of WALK HARD (WALK THE LINE/music bio-pic spoof).

Where to begin...

I AM LEGEND is exactly as Jimu described's CAST AWAY with vampires. I honestly had low expectations going in. Will Smith is a charming dude, but he always plays the same character...Will Smith. Oh sure, he's a fighter pilot (Will Smith as a fighter pilot). Now he's a matchmaker? Will Smith the matchmaker. He doesn't act, he's just himself all the time. Like Jack Nicholson (who is great) basically just acts crazy all in every role (whether he should be crazy or not). But Will really carried this movie I AM LEGEND. Be warned, it's a very quiet movie (like CAST AWAY) so if you go see it at the movies don't sit next to the sniffly guy (like I did), lest you ruin the creepy ambiance. Despite the PG-13 rating there were a few really intense (read: scary) parts.

THE MIST, however is another ball of shit (literally). I saw it because I like Stephen King. God only knows why he let's them keep adapting his books, they've only gotten two right (THE GREEN MILE and THE SHAWSHANK REDEMPTION). I was hopeful because THE MIST was written and directed by the guy that did both of those movies. But alas, the movie was hampered by a weak script and lousy (like TV movie-of-the-week bad) special effects. You know how it looks when CGI creatures flop around, all lifeless and obviously not really there? Lots of that. The whole movie was basically the spider-pit scene in Peter Jackson's KING KONG. Spiders that spit acid, tentacles (with no body, at least that we see) that have teeth and claws.

I was very hopeful at the beginning of the flick, especially when the Gunslinger from the DARK TOWER popped up (yes! that's right, he makes a fuckin' cameo!!!!). That reminds me, I need to read the rest of that series...anyway, the movie was shit--avoid at all costs. Go re-watch the old b/w TWILIGHT ZONE episode "The Monsters are due on Maple Street," because that's what King (basically) ripped off. Except there are actual monsters...whatever.

I've seen so many people die today--so many monsters. I'm so ready to laugh at WALK HARD. If you're awake at midnight, think of me...alone, and laughing in a theater.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

"The Demon Barber of Fleet Street"

Buckets, upon buckets of blood! That's all I can say to describe SWEENEY TODD. Johnny Depp as usual can get away with just about anything. I'm not big on musicals as a general rule, and this one falls into that dreaded category of one where everything (for the most part) isn't said it's sung. Not like LION KING or whatever, where there's story then every now and then there is a, the most of the dialogue is spoken. But once I was able to get used to this (I find this convention works better on stage, in movies it just looks bizarre to see people randomly singing in such a "real" environment)I enjoyed myself.

At first, the movie was a bit slow. The set-up seemed a bit rushed as well (instead of seeing Todd's tragic past, we've told about them (via song) and a few quick flashes of flashback (that lazy narrative device).

Once things "get cooking," however, SWEENEY TODD was magnificent. Once again, Tim Burton has struck back at the mainstream world for all those sad "emo" and "goth" kids the world over. While I don't fall into either category, I am endlessly fascinated with Burton's somber, macabre, gray-tinged version of reality.

The movie is gruesome--but what do you expect? The story of a revenge-seeking barber (who's lost more than a few of his marbles) who kills people upstairs, while the lady that makes meat pies downstairs (guess what's in those pies?) is bound to have a few dabs of the red stuff. But Jesus was there a lot of blood. Definetly not for the faint of heart. However, there was some pretty funny (non-blood related) stuff. My favorite scene was a beach fantasy (I'll say no more, but it was the funniest thing I've seen in a theater all year).

If you like Depp, Burton, and/or musicals (and don't mind a bit of gore) go see SWEENEY TODD. Also Alan Rickman is the greatest bad guy-actor around (don't believe me? Go watch DIE HARD 1 and this movie...he's so slimly...I love to hate him!).

About to see a (free) advanced Screening of SWEENEY TODD, but...

Monday, December 17, 2007

Top Ten Bands You've Never Hear Of

Here we go again! At my friend Katie's suggestion, I've decided to tackle another list. Since I did movies last time, I thought it appropriate to do my other great love--music. Rather than do the best albums, or songs, or bands (all those would be impossible for me to do)...I decided to make my list of the Top 10 greatest bands not commonly known. My criteria is simple--I didn't find out about any of these bands in the "usual" way (i.e. MTV, radio). Some are old, some are new--they're all good and warrant more exposure (go buy a CD, check out a video on YOUTUBE).

10. Telephone--I found out about Telephone by chance on the Internet. I went in cold, and fell in love. They're very "New Wave" (lots of synths, this stuff is about as close to techno/dance music as I'll probably ever get). And yet, they have a very cool rock-aesthetic. My favorite song is "Rock Club" which sounds like Head Automatica and Guitar Hero/Rock Band favorites Freezepop blended together. It's fun.

9. Acid House Kings--No band has a more wrong-sounding name than AHK's. Sounds like some sort of metal band, right? Try Indie Swedish pop. I've always been a sucker for sickeningly sweet boy-girl groups, and AHK's are the sweetish I've ever heard (think ABBA, but less disco...more Indie). This band has some of the saddest, sweetest, most "heart-on-their-sleeve" songs I've ever heard. Their album MONDAYS ARE LIKE TUESDAYS AND TUESDAYS ARE LIKE WEDNESDAYS is heartbreaking and joyous at the same time. Go listen to "Say Yes If You Love Me," if you don't smile--you're heart is made of stone.

8. The Village Green--Though they get their name from an old Kinks record, The Village Green actually have more in common with 90's Britpop-ers like Oasis and Supergrass. I heard about this band on an internet radio station (that sadly no longer exists). The band used to only have an EP but recently put out an album on iTUNES. Go check out "Get Up, Get Out, Get High" it's the kinda thing Liam Gallagher used to write before all the fame.

7. The Shazam--The Shazam are the band that "Little" Steven Van Zandt champions on his famous Underground Garage radio show...but I found out about 'em on (a great indie-Cd shop). What can I say? They rock, really, really, really hard. Think Cheap Trick-meets-Jellyfish. Serious power-pop with killer hooks. I have no idea why this band isn't mega-famous. Check out "Gettin' Higher" or "Sweet Bitch" on iTUNES.

6. Scapegoat Wax--Don't like rap? Me neither, but I love Marty James. He sings and raps. Somewhere in between rock, rap, and techno-dance-music...there is Scapegoat Wax. I first heard about SW in (of all things) and XBOX game (JET SET FUTURE RADIO). The song was "Aisle 10 (Allison)" a song that spoke to the photo-clerk in me. This song is a pretty good slice of what makes SW great--killer hook, silly (but literate) lyrics, and subject matter that's slightly more down-to-earth than your regular rapper (he works in store, and from the register sees the girl of his dreams).

5. Bishop Allen--This one is gaining in popularity. Bishop Allen's first album CHARM SCHOOL was a blend of the White Stripes more quirky numbers coupled with The Beatles. The first record finds BA as a guy-girl band, while their latest THE BROKEN STRING, is just the boys (the gals both left and I hear are teachers). What's the big deal? These guys are serious about music--last year they put out a 3-song EP every month (each titled for the month it was released). I love the campfire-sing-along on CHARM SCHOOL, "Another Waster Night" (hint: go check that one out). The new record is good too (the Paul Simon-esque "Click, Click, Click" has already been in a few commercials...but I strongly recommend you seek out the stupidly upbeat "Rain" the next time you are down in the dumps--it will pick you up 100% guaranteed).

4. The Minus 5--What does REM do when they're not busy being REM? Well Peter Buck and Scott McCaughey are in this band! Loopy garage rock meets XTC (see below) style pop ensues. Now that REM is pretty dormant, the band is really starting to release more and more music, but check out 2004's IN ROCK--if for no other reason than the Byrds-ish sounding "The Little Black Egg." Great (overlooked) stuff, by some famous dudes.

3. Manda & the Marbles--This is a great 80's pop-rock band. I don't know much about them, except that they were obviously children of the 80's (no question). Now, I'm not talking Duran Duran...think Joan Jett (with a dash of young Madonna). The lead singer has a versatile voice (compare "Kids Just Wanna to Dance" with the softer "Seventeen") and is hot to boot! I only have ANGLES WITH DIRTY FACES, but I hear they have a new album out/coming out. They're worth checking out for sure! Go find the sentimental "Seventeen," "Lipstick," and "Kids Just Wanna Dance."

2. XTC--Controversy! XTC was (at one time) on MTV...waaaaaaay back in the day. Why do I include them? Well, they're basically known as a "one-hit-wonder" band from the 80's ("Mayor of Simpleton"). But from their 1979 debut, Andy Partridge and company have been making some of the best, wittiest, catchy pop songs around. My uncle turned me onto them back in 2001 when their most recent (last?) set of records came out (the beautiful APPLE VENUS VOL. 1 and the wicked WASP STAR: APPLE VENUS VOL. 2). Since they've been around so long, their sound runs the gambit--from standard four piece rock, to quirky New Wave, to 80's lite-rock, to today's more experimental/rock. They never got famous because the lead singer/songwriter came down with a bad case of stage fright--had that not happened, I'm confident they'd be huge today. In recent years, I've heard rumors that the band is finished...which is too bad. But Partridge is still recording, releasing an album of weird songs every few years. Check out "Stupidly Happy" or "I'm The Man Who Murdered Love" both are on WASP STAR: APPLE VENUS VOL. 2. I think YOUTUBE also has some really funny (and very cheesy) videos from the 80's.

1. Locksley
--Out of all of 'em, Locksley is THE band you might one day hear people talking about in the "mainstream." I found them on CDbaby and bought their (now out-of-print) first record SAFELY FROM THE CITY. I fell in love with their Fountains Of Wayne-style pop-rock. But then the boys from New York fell off my radar. A few years later, I happen upon their new, "major" label debut DON'T MAKE ME WAIT. Now they're on MTV (sorta, one of their songs is used as the theme song for some make-over show). Like Rooney, they're now also opening for (in my opinion) crappier (but more famous) bands (Hanson). Though I don't hold any of this against them, the band's appeal is such that anyone caught listening to them will be a convert. I'm not even going to suggest a song for you to seek--they're all good. I am partial to "Don't Make Me Wait" and the blistering guitar solo on "For You." Anyone that yearns for the days of Beach Boys, Beatles, Byrds, and Stones needs to check these guys out.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

So now what?

I'm sitting here at home, listening to semi-inspirational/contemplative "adult" rock. Okay, actually I'm bouncing back and forth between Steely Dan's "Reeling in the Years" and Nick Lowe's "So it Goes." I find that my mood and outlook on life/the future changes by the minute now (as opposed to by the hour, like it did when I was still in school).

I started reading for pleasure again. I'm re-reading Charles Dickens A CHRISTMAS CAROL. I think it's going to be my new tradition this time of year. As I grow older (and live in and among agnostic-jews), I find my beliefs are all very muddled...but this book has such a great message for humanity, I cannot resist it. May ever Scrooge have a change of heart...

I'm here all alone in the apartment, Leah went with her sister and friend to see the "Body Worlds" exhibit down at the science center (dead bodies? no thanks). She's going to New Mexico on Wednesday, leaving me alone here in STL until I drive home for the holidays. I plan on using the time to update my resume and apply for a few jobs. I also plan on finishing THE MOSQUITO VINE. The subject came up over dinner the other night and more than a few people want to read it (so I need to finish it, so I can put it down for a while before I edit).

What about the "longterm"? Well, that's a damn good question, isn't it? Honestly, I have two ideas in my head right now--and boy are they both a lot of work. One, get in shape and enter the police force. That summer I spent in KC working along side the KCPD left a strong impression on me. I went online and learned a little about what I have to do to become a cop. First things first--I need to quit smoking (again) and lose about 20 pounds. Then I need to start working on being able to do: 33 push-ups in one minute, 40 sit-ups in a minute, and 1.5 miles in under 13 minutes. I've never been real keen on athletics, but I think the best plan of action is to take up a sport of some type (may as well have fun).

My other idea is to *GULP* figure out a way to go on and get my Master's Degree. I'm thinking creative writing (I think this is what my mentor Terri in KC did). I have no idea where the money will come for this...and the GRE scares me the shit out of me...but I think I could do it.

Actually, my friend David gave me a great boost of confidence a few days back in an email. Basically he was like "you didn't give up over the summer when your feet blistered and you're probably hard-headed enough to do anything." It's funny, but I never thought about it before, but I am pretty determined. My big problem is just getting starting (and figuring out what it is I'm going to start). Either way, I see a crappy, "temporary" job in my future.

Oh well: "so it goes, so it goes, so it goes..."

Saturday, December 15, 2007


Well it's all over! The ceremony was short, and frankly not that memorable. It seemed to go by in a blur. We had a few bumps on the way over to the school (Leah, my sister, and her sister got stuck at the mall!). But it all went well. I found out when I got there that I had graduated with Latin Honors (Cum Laude). That was a nice surprise.

After the ceremony I froze my ass off outside--I forgot to take a coat with me (the robes were so warm). So I ended up wearing after the ceremony. We went out to eat with my family (parents, sisters, and my uncle and aunt) and Leah's family (sister and brother-in-law, and parents). Our mutual friend Becky was there, with her boyfriend. It was nice (and expensive).

During dinner it snowed like crazy, thus no one wanted to come over to our place after dinner. So, we came home and played ROCK BAND on my XBOX 360. I have some pictures, but I'm too tired to upload them.

Overall, I'm happy/optimistic...but it still doesn't feel "real" to me. Maybe tomorrow???

UPDATE: Here are those family had my camera, but it was too dark in the gym for the pictures to turn out very good (too dark). However, there is a digital video...I don't I can post it on YOUTUBE (too long) but my mom's camera is state-of-the-art and it turned out really good. Maybe you'll have to just come over and watch it after she burns it on DVD for me (?).

Graduation Today

I can't believe that today, in a few hours, I'm going to be graduating from college. It seems like only yesterday I was at Longview--and my Associates Degree seemed so out of reach. Now, six years after I got my High School diploma, I'm finally getting my BA. There are so many people I wish could be here today, but time and distance has kept most of them away. My folks are here, and my Aunt and Uncle from Tennessee are coming. So that's good. Anyway, I gotta go.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Game Over

Hey, I'm back.

I think most of you know about why I was gone--but to recap: I was thinking that this blog might hinder my job search, so I hid it. But things change, and I decided that I probably won't be looking until after the holiday (I'm going home next week to KC) so here I am. Back online.

Today was my last day of finals. It feels really weird being done with school. For the last 20 years I've been in school, I don't know anything else. I'm worried/nervous about finding work (am I cut out for the 9-to-5?). Today the last of my childhood died. Ouch.

I'll miss UMSL, it's been my home these past two and a half years. I'm glad I moved off campus this semester, or I'd be facing a big-scary-move right about now (and that's no fun, plus I have enough on my mind). After my last final EVER (Victorian Prose and Poetry), I went and hung out with my friends. It's weird, but for some reason I can only make friends just before things end. I always make friends with people about a month before it's time to say goodbye. They convinced me to get back on FACEBOOK so we can keep in touch, but I've heard that before. Anyway, that made it all the more sad.

Once we all said goodbye, I went to the computer lab and printed off 10 more pages of my novel (use that free printing one last time). Then I just sort of walked around, still not believing that it was all over--just like that.

It's like the goddamn last episode of MASH. I'm Hawkeye-Pierce, bitching about hating Korea...then having a nervous breakdown when I find out I get to go home.

In short, I'm filled with mixed emotions.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Top Ten Movies

For some reason I couldn't sleep last night (perhaps it was the pot of coffee?). Anyway, I ended up in that bath tub at 1:00AM re-reading Chuck Klosterman's excellent dissection/attack on pop culture SEX, DRUGS, AND COCA PUFFS*. The book is interesting, but only if you're under 35 or a really BIG couch potato (there is a whole chapter devoted to '90s teen-sitcom SAVED BY THE BELL...yeah, it's that kind of book).

Reading it is kinda like watching one of those "list shows" that all the music channels (MTV 1-3, VH1, FUSE, etc.) like so cram down our throats. Does anyone else besides me enjoy these as much as they hate them? They're like crack (I imagine), once I start watching one (like "I Love the 90's Part II") I nearly always end up watching all 8 hours of it.

Anyway, SDACP's is a good read, the guy has some interesting theories that will make you laugh if you're a culture junkie.

Anyway, I can't watch those list shows anymore (no cable) so I'm doing my own (also, I'm very bored). I'm starting with my Top 10 movies (all time):

10. THE INCREDIBLES--I make no secret about it, I (still) like comic books...but let's face it, super heroes only work on the page for the most part. For every BATMAN BEGINS there are a dozen like ELECTRA, CATWOMAN, SUPERMAN V, DAREDEVIL, etc. The chief problem I have with most comic book movies is that, no how much money they throw on the screen, they always fail to capture the wonder of comic books. Brad Bird and the good folks at Pixar perfectly encapsulate everything that's good about super heroes--and what would happen if they were real. On top of that, the animation is top-notch, and the voice cast is fantastic (Sam Jackson, anyone?). The best part though, is that underneath the film's cape and spandex is a movie about the importance of family.

Of all the musicals ever made, only OZ is the one I could watch over-and-over and never get sick of it. The story is bizarre (if you think about it) and the famous transition from black and white to color is the perfect metaphor for the film's overall place in movie history--it helped usher in an era of bright, beautiful Technicolor dreams. "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" is probably one of the best happy/sad songs ever written (and to think it was almost cut from the movie!). Plus any flick with flying monkeys is alright by me.

8. STAR WARS: THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK--Universally agreed by everyone as the best in the series, EMPIRE had everything the first STAR WARS (Episode 4) had...just more of it. There was more action, romance, drama, special effects. But it was the ending that really made an impact--it was the first movie I ever saw where the "good guys" didn't win. Think about it, at the end of the movie: Luke has lost his hand(!), Han is frozen (taken God knows where), the rebels have lost their base...Vader is Luke's Dad!? And yet, despite the gloom the film does end on a (somewhat) happy note as Luke and Leia gaze hopefully out into space--reminding us that it's always darkest before the dawn.

Even though most people have probably never seen The Beatles first movie, it has changed the way every subsequent generation experiences music. Without this movie there would be no music videos and (for better and for worse) no MTV. Think about that. The film depicts The Beatles as they prepare for a really big/important gig (hilarity ensues). Wacky British comedy+good music=awesome. A double threat, this film paved the way for J. Lo and the like (again for better and for worse).

6. KING KONG (the original)--The original Kong is the granddaddy to movies like GODZILLA, JURASSIC PARK, ALIENS, and the upcoming CLOVERFIELD (of which, I am obsessed). There were "monster" movies before KONG, but nothing on the scale of RKO's classic monster movie. Sure, the effects are dated...but they still hold up in a way that CGI doesn't. There's still something creepy about the way the creatures move (thanks to the organic feel of stop-motion animation). Go watch it, the thing still holds up. The excitement, the danger, the thrill of watching Kong get shot down from atop the Empire State Building...It's the stuff movies were made for--allowing us to have impossible experiences with people (and things) that couldn't possibly exist in "the real world."

5. CITIZEN KANE--I love Orson Welles because he's proof that a single mind, when given the necessary tools, can create a masterpiece. Written, directed, staring, and produced by Welles, CITIZEN KANE should be a piece of shit (think about it, would a radio actor be your first choice to direct and star in a big-budget movie?). I love this movie because it could never happen today (at a studio), and yet...with improvements in recording technology virtually anyone reading this could make their own "Citizen Kane." All you need is the nerve (or balls) that Welles had in never compromising his vision. Beyond all that, though, the story of Charles Foster Kane scares the shit out of me (as a young person about to enter "the real world"). Kane's good intentions are quickly buried under egotism and the lust for power (and women). Watching KANE isn't as difficult for young people as a lot of other black and white movies because despite it's age, it seems very modern since many of the film conventions still used today were invented by Welles while he was making KANE (camera shots/placement, montages, wipes and pans, scene pacing). There's a reason this movie is still a film school staple.

By far the most quotable movie I have ever seen
. There is so much myth surrounding this movie, I have no idea if the rumors of most of it being ad-libbed are true, and I don't care...all I know is this movie has some funny lines. Period. The cast was great, the effects are amazing (for the time), but they don't steal the show--modern filmakers take note: make the people real and audiences won't care if your Marshmallow Man has a zipper or not. Oh, and the soundtrack is awesomely bad.

3. THE GODFATHER--What can I say? THE GODFATHER is a world unto itself. The movie is long, but it has to be. The story is epic, the characters are incredibly real. Sure, Brando's character is a bit of a joke now, but if you go in cold (no expectations) you cannot watch this movie and not be impressed. The period sets and costumes immerse you in the era perfectly. A great, great movie...less of a crime picture and more of a human drama (I mean, who hasn't looked at their parents and said "God I don't want to end up like that" only to end up just like that?). I'm still amazed when I meet people who haven't seen this movie.

2. PULP FICTION-- A lot of people dismiss the film's non-conventional/non-linear plot as just a gimmick. Look beyond it's structure--the dialogue is some of the best ever committed to celluloid and the cast is phenomenal (again Sam Jackson). Tarantino's movie, like THE GODFATHER is a world unto itself. There are so many memorable scenes and characters--Travolta stabbing the needle of adrenaline into Uma Thurman's chest, Mr. Wolf the underground "fix-it" man who comes to help clean up a horrible mess...As a short-story writer I can't help but admire how each of the film's little segments work both independently and as a greater whole. People complain about the language, and the drug use. It's true, all the characters are criminals, their world is a dangerous, dirty place. And yet...even in this world of filth, there are a few moments where human decency shines. Consider my favorite moment of the entire movie: Bruce Willis has just escaped from what is, without question, hell on Earth. He gets himself to safety and is fully prepared to abandon an man who, moments before was bent on killing him...but just before he goes, we see a little flash of humanity in Bruce's eyes. He can't just leave Ving Rhames to be brutally raped and tortured. So, despite the danger, he starts picking stuff up...looking for a weapon. PULP FICTION is filled with little moments like that, where you can almost see the gears turning inside the characters heads. I've seen it at least 100 times, and every time I always catch some little detail I missed the time before. That's the stuff of great movies.

And finally...Number 1:

Rick and Ilsa. There have been better screen couples, but none that you want to get together so badly (probably because you know they aren't going get together in the end, that's not a spoiler, by the way, because the film's ending so iconic it's impossible not to know how it ends). I studied this movie in my junior college Film as Literature class, and even the professor couldn't explain what it is that makes this movie so great. When they were making the movie, the people involved viewed it as just another flick. Back in those days (the late 40's) the studio's where run like factories, constantly churning out movies...CASABLANCA was one of hundreds. And yet, somehow it emerged as a critical darling--this is not the first, nor will it be the last time CASABLANCA will be put at the top of a list of "Best Movies." Like Tarantino's PULP FICTION, there is something special about the dialogue. Whereas Tarantino's characters all talk like wise-ass pop-culture geeks, everyone in CASABLANCA talks like they had a team of old-school Hollywood writers penning every witticism, every seems that way because that's exactly what happened. There were a slew of writers, the cream of the crop back then, who worked on CASABLANCA--and it shows. Rick's late night confessional (just before the flashback scene) gives me chills just thinking about it. No one does "tortured tough-guy" like Bogart. Sure, the movie may have a slightly jingoistic motive (the lovers give up happiness for patriotism), but that's what America needed back in1942 (hell, it's what America need today). If you're a young person, or if you hate black and white movies, you STILL need to check CASABLANCA out. You've never seen a true Hollywood movie, until you've seen CASABLANCA.

Saturday, December 01, 2007

What NaNoWritMo Taught Me (this is the last NaNoWriMo post ever (until next November I swear))

Today I didn't write, and it's the first time in a long while. When I went to the Barnes and Noble, the week before Halloween, I knew nothing of National Novel Writing Month. I happened upon a book of trivia, by accident while Leah was looking at puppy calendars.

"Hey, this book says November is National Novel Writing Month!"

Wow. What a long, strange trip it's been. I wrote more in November 2007 than any other month EVER. Don't believe me? Consider this: besides writing my novel, I posted nearly everyday on this blog. That's a TON of words people. In fact, NaNoWriMo helped make November 2007 the first month where I posted 50+ times (making it my most blogged month ever). I guess you write more, when you're actually DOING something (as opposed to skipping class and playing video games).

ANYWAY, I plan on getting right back on the horse tomorrow. While Leah is working a Rams game, I'm going to study for my last Art History Exam (love that modern art...NOT!) and try to get some more work done on my book. I'm thinking another two weeks, keeping the 1,667 words a day should finish it. I used to think that I was only half-way done, but I think I'm closer to 2/3. After that--then what?

Well, I'm going to put THE MOSQUITO VINE away for a while. I guess I'll take a few days off and think up something new to write. Then I'm going to jump in and start working on some new material. Not another novel, maybe just a few short stories. Eventually, I'll get an idea and run with it...and my second novel will probably start the way my first one did--as a failed short story. After three or four weeks have gone by, I'll dust off my NaNoWriMo novel and start the long process of editing it (making it make sense). Once it's fairly readable, I'll print it off and let Leah read it (who I guess is my Alpha reader). If she deems it passing, I guess I'll take her suggestions/edits into consideration, produce a third draft and mail copies off to my "reading circle" who I'll need to pick/contact.

I don't look beyond that, because frankly, if THE MOSQUITO VINE ever gets that far, I'll be surprised. To be honest, I haven't read it, but I don't think this is going to be the novel I "share" with the world. What this book is, however, is a start. I'm more confident about my ability to sustain a narrative. I never thought I could write a book, but I see now that with time, I can do it. My dialogue is still my weakest point, I think. It's really difficult to give each character a unique voice, without reducing it to stereotypes or gross inarticulate nonsense.

Also, my dialogue tag's are also a sticky point. I know it's a sign of weak writing to attach adverbs, but just using "said" over and over seems a bit repetitive to me. Though my Uncle Stevie (King) says this is perfectly fine, and indeed, the proper way to go.

I guess I'll have to work these things out.

The main thing that NaNoWriMo taught me, if nothing else, is this:

I can do anything, all I need to do is set goals for myself. Shoot for the moon/aim high all you want, but take it one step at a time. Baby steps, baby that's the key!!! 1,667 words a day isn't hard, you can do it...and if you do it everyday for 30 days, it can snowball into a book. Every journey starts with a single step, blah blah blah...IT'S TRUE!!!

I doubt anyone will actually sit here and read all of this gibberish, but if you only get one thing from this post, I hope it's this:

Whatever it is you dream of doing, quit putting it off! Go do it, today! Life is too short, and it'll pass you by if you're not careful. Live the dream.
If you can't catch it, at least try to run after it...sitting on your ass gets nothing done. I've been very lucky, I've had a few dreams, and most of them have come true. But you know what? Everyone has come to pass because of something I did--not sitting around, jawing about it. You have no excuses. If you want to do it, you can. The desire is all you need--if you desire it enough you'll make the'll sacrifice whatever you have to. The time, the money, the energy, your health.

I'm sure this whole thing has taken a few years off my life, but you know what? I accept that. I'd rather die a year early, than live 365 days and never have tired to write a book. That's what defines me, what defines you?

Say goodbye to my "NaNoWriMo" blog-pic, until next year:

Flight of the Conchords

Me and Leah are really into an HBO show that my friend Andy told me about, FLIGHT OF THE CONCHORDS. It's about a fictional band from New Zealand, living in New York. It's really absurd, I love it.

Leah's friend Becky is in Saint Louis this weekend, and she came over we had a fondue party! After we played Guitar Hero, Leah busted out her laptop and showed her some of our favorite songs.

The first season just came out on DVD, and if you get a chance, you should check it out. It's really funny. Some of my favorite songs:

"Business Time"

"Bowie's In Space"

"Hiphopopotomus Vs. Rhymnocerous"