30 January 2007

Evil Skwerl

In my line of work I have to deal with in bound freight brought to my establishment by tractor-trailers. The east bound and down, convoy rolling through the night, 53 foot big rigs that cris-cross the country supplying every need we have. One aspect of a trailer’s existence is internal graffiti. We’ve all seen the “Jesus saves” or “Visualize world peace” written on dust on trailer’s doors. This is by no means the only graffiti that adorns our nation’s cargo haulers.

The freight business breeds conditions that would heighten the need to express one’s self. Long hours of isolation, the stress of keeping time tables, long waits at pick up/drop off points, and time away from home are contributing factors for a desire of self expression. I hypothesize that this is why inside most trailers can be found a plethora of the world’s most colorful graffiti. Most examples I am unable to print in this public forum.

The picture below is an example of said trucker art. This particular piece speaks to me on a number of levels.

Those that know me will know exactly why: my love for all things skwerl and an interest in crypto-zoology. There is no mistaking the evil skwerl as being part of the chupacabra legend. There’s a little known story of a peyote eating male chupacabra mating with a Red Foxx Skwerl on the outskirts of Tijuana. The result was an abomination of both species.

Known as the ardilla malvada to locals, the prime Skwerl adopted many of the physical characteristics of its mother. This new breed looked like any other skwerl, only slightly larger. From the father, the hybrid gained enhanced strength and speed, night vision, elongated teeth, and a carnivores’ appetite. A dangerous combination for a species of skwerl that is known to be protective of its warren’s territory. If you recall, a Red Foxx Skwerl is immortalized in Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter. This animal flings a nut at Hester Prynn’s child, beaning little Pearl’s head.

The Ardilla Malvada prime began to mate with the regular Red Foxx Skwerl population. Luckily there were few births in the first generation of Ardilla Malvada. Had the population grown to the density of skwerl in most cities’ parks, we all would have been in trouble. Small packs of Ardilla would band together in hunting groups. Some stories say that no fewer than five of these little boogers could take down a Bambi sized fawn in a matter of minutes.

Of course I have no hard proof that they exist and all my information is from a Coast-to-Coast AM caller. I didn’t think they really existed. At least till tonight when I saw the pictogram for myself. So the next time you’re in a public park or out hiking a back trail, watch out. Once an Evil Skwerl gets a taste for human blood, they will never eat anything else again….

27 January 2007

My Son the Jedi

Looks like my little boy has grown up to save the galaxy with his fellow Jedi...
They grow up so fast.

25 January 2007

Smokin' Aces Review

There is something in the American adult male psyche that has an adolescent craving to see violent acts on film. I’m sure it’s the influence of video games and music videos that warps our normally genteel sensibilities into a near Klingon blood lust. I’ll channel Freud later and ask him why this need exists and furthermore why Smokin’ Aces satisfied the longing so completely.

The trailers portray a straight forward plot line of a mob informant who has a million dollar contract out on his head. Groups of colorful assassins then head out in a It's A Mad Mad Mad Mad World dash to whack the mark. The mark is none other than Vegas magician Buddy “Aces” Israel. A freaked out Buddy is biding his time in a Reno hotel suite until the Feds finalize an immunity deal that will spirit him to safety.

Since we’ve entered Doug Henning’s world of illusion through Buddy, nothing is as it seems. The plot takes a number of twists along the way that make all of the previously mentioned gratuitous violence an integral character. Yes, the film is violent. But we are dipping into a world of bad men and women trying to kill someone. The overall feel of the first half of the film is light and almost cartoonish in it’s portrayal of these acts. Much in the same way The Big Hit , a few years back did.

Structurally, one might think that the divergent back stories and ensemble cast would make a confusing mess of any film. It might if you don’t pay just the slightest bit of attention. The script does throw a huge number of characters at you, but doesn’t over or under develop any of them. It’s almost like a miniskirt; long enough to cover everything, but short enough to be interesting.

Each character has very clearly defined motives that are generally shown by implication. The clever script leaves one with strong enough clues to work out what’s going on in the character’s heads without bashing yours in. In that respect the hit person duo of Alicia Keys and Taraji P. Henson steal the show. At the end, one is feeling sorry for the 50 cal sniper toting Henson in spite of her brutal profession.

The remainder of the cast gives almost equally as strong a performance. Jeremy Piven (as Buddy Israel) is plays a very believable despicably likable pseudo-mob figure. (Could I have strung any more adjectives together in that sentence?) The FBI triangle of Ryan Reynolds, Ray Liotta, and Andy Garcia are equally as believable in their motivations. Rapper Common even hits it out of the park as Buddy’s chief lieutenant.

Along the way the minor characters turn out to be the most memorable. The trailer park Karate Kid and Jason Bateman top that list. The unexplained characterizations of these two really make you wish they get more screen time in some DVD director’s cut. If I'm lucky Santa will have one under the tree for me next Christmas.

Smokin’ Aces made me laugh, it made me cry, and it became a part of me… I dug everything about it. I would have felt good paying full price and buying $30 worth of snacks. Not since Rumble in the Bronx have I walked out of a film saying, "That kicked ass!", over and over again…



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19 January 2007

Testing Fate and Learning Flyte...

I've been meaning to post this forever and keep forgetting to. These are some comments from one of the Chefs at Nashville's hippest new restaurant Flyte, Jen. If you haven't been to Flyte you're not hip and trendy. That's why I haven't been yet, but the Scene gave it a good review. Jen sent this to me this summer, and I've been meaning to post it since. If you would like to lavish Jen with praises, stop by Flyte for dinner and tell her how clever she is. The first part is a real news story...


Lioness in zoo kills man who invoked God

Mon Jun 5, 8:31 AM ET
KIEV (Reuters) - A man shouting that God would keep him safe was mauled to death by a lioness in Kiev zoo after he crept into the animal's enclosure, a zoo official said on Monday. "The man shouted 'God will save me, if he exists', lowered himself by a rope into the enclosure, took his shoes off and went up to the lions," the official said.
"A lioness went straight for him, knocked him down and severed his carotid artery." The incident, Sunday evening when the zoo was packed with visitors, was the first of its kind at the attraction. Lions and tigers are kept in an "animal island" protected by thick concrete blocks.

Jen's thoughts on the matter...
Top Things to do Before You Try This Would be:

1. Make sure you believe in the correct god, the one that saves you from lions.
2. Make sure you’ve talked to your god recently; perhaps feel him/her out on their opinion on saving people from zoo exhibits that were intentionally designed to keep people on the outside, and man-eating animals on the inside.
3. Make sure god’s schedule is clear that week, you don’t want to be hanging above lions and find out god is having his/her hair done.
4. Maybe give god a 5 second window – stick just a foot in and if god doesn’t show up within 5 seconds come back later.
5. Make sure the lions don’t believe in a better god than you do. How do you know that lion god doesn’t protect lions from stupid people who enter their cages and present themselves like a Hungry Man meal?
6. Maybe try watching some Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom first. If god was so interested in saving beings from lions he/she probably would have started a tradition that would be well documented by now.

18 January 2007

Sunshine Trailer

For those of you out there that dug Trainspotting and 28 Days Later check out this exclusive trailer of Danny Boyle's latest flick Sunshine. I think this is going to be a good one.

17 January 2007

Bruce Campbell is the Mark of a Man

I think if I could go out drinking with one celebrity, it would have to be Bruce Campbell. That's in a mannly, slap each other on the back and swap stories going out drinking. Not a come hither, batting of the eye-lash, have a drink with me sometime have a drink. At any rate, if you haven't seen Bruce in his new Old Spice commercial, you don't have it...

12 January 2007

del Toro to take on Lovecraft?

The only thing that excites me more than the prospect of Guillermo del Toro doing Hellboy 2, is what he has next in mind. In a Sci-Fi Wire article, del Toro says he’d like to direct a film version of H.P. Lovecraft’s In the Mouth of Madness. (No, we’re not talking about a remake of that crappy Sam Neil flick) If you have any doubts that del Toro could do justice to the father of modern horror’s work, you haven’t seen Pan’s Labyrinth.

You might have seen this headline floating around on the geek blog circuits and not actually read the article. For those who have taken a closer look knows del Toro isn’t planning on resting on his laurels. Other projects he is contemplating are: a new version of Tarzan (sans all the singing and Rosie O’Donnell), and a film called Silver he’s been writing on for the past 13 years. All we know about Silver is that it has to do with Mexico, vampires, and wrestlers. I guess that would make Jack Black the badest, most kick ass, vampire hunter in all of Mexico.


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11 January 2007

Highlander: The Source



This trailer for the latest Highlander film has made it's rounds on You Tube. In doing a little research, the film is about Duncan Macleod trying to find the source of the Immortals power. I really, really hope this doesn't lead to the planet Ziest again. Also, there is nothing wrong with your computer, there is no audio for the first 30 seconds of the clip.


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09 January 2007

Alpha Dog Review

“I'm a educated fool, with money on my mind
Got my ten in my hand and a gleam in my eye
I'm a loced-out gangsta, set-trippin banger
And my homies is down, so don't arouse my anger, fool

Death ain't nothing but a heart beat away
I'm livin life do-or-die ah, what can I say?
I'm twenty-three now, but will I live to see twenty-fo'?
The way things are goin I don't know”

Coolio, Gangsta’s Paradise

By watching the trailers and reading the blurbs, one would think that Alpha Dog is a modern day treatment of the famous Leopold and Lobe case. With tag lines like “A crime with this many witnesses, should never have gone this far”, one would think a certain connection would not be far off the mark. Well that’s as far as the connection goes. While Leopold and Lobe are of genius stature, the characters in Alpha Dog would have to make frequent trips to the brain bank to measure up.

Alpha Dog is a social commentary that is loosely based on events of six days in August 2000 that lead to the death of Nicholas Markowitz. The movie plot, and real life event, centers on mid-level drug dealers in Southern California trying to settle a $1200 debt with Markowitz’s older brother. While attempting to settle the tab with the elder Markowitz, our bumbling ganstas see Nicholas and kidnap him as a marker for the debt. Nicholas spends a few days partying with his new buddies eventually getting knocked in the head. Evidently kidnappers think the score of witnesses at their parties might link them with Markowitz.

The film’s underlying theme is that the glamorization of rap videos, desensitization of violence through video games has lead all of these youth down a primrose path. Every time I noticed a TV in the film, there was a rap video or video game on screen.While filmmaker and writer Nick Cassavetes places time stamps on the film and gives it a documentary back drop, the film makes no serious attempt to link back to real life events. Changing the names and certain events from real life into a Hollywood script takes a huge hit on the film’s underlying message. Like the raps and video games, the script turns into another dose of Hollywood fantasy.

Anachronism alert!!. The film is set in 1999. In once scene Justin Timberlake is playing a video game on an Xbox. Xboxes were not released in North American until 15 Nov 2001. If that doesn’t get me into the geek hall of fame, nothing will.

What is tragic about the real life and movie events is that the weak spirited do fall prey to the over stimuli of certain lifestyles. Whatever that particular lifestyle is, there will always be those that are seduced to an extreme level. There will always be those that follow like lemmings behind a stronger personality. The film’s real message should have been arm your children against the Svengalis out there. Men and women in the big bad world that possess this level of magnetism are infinitely more dangerous than locking someone up with an Xbox and an MP3 player chocked full of Time Life’s Greatest Thug Hits of all time.

The cast does portray all these archetypes to a key. Emil Hirsh portrays the group’s leader and simply does so by his ability to direct his minions and make decisions. Shawn Hatosy portrays Hirsh’s adoring lackey like he had spent time on an 18th Century British Man-of War. Even Justin Timberlake gets his inner Dr. Phillish badass on the big screen. Together with the mobbed up Bruce Willis and Harry Dean Stanton (who is always my choice for the washed up drunk role), a few more minor sycophants and hotties at parties, the wide eyed Anton Yelchin make the expected Hollywood roles work.

It’s worth a look if you’re up for Hollywood calling the kettle black.




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04 January 2007

And That's a Wrap...

It has taken me 4 days to convince myself that the 2006 holiday season is finally over with. The space from 1 Nov to 31 Dec turns me into something akin to Atlas and Sisyphus’ bastard love child. Between my friends, family, job, and dodging Burl Ives; life can get a little wiggy during this 61 day period. And the chorus of Tralfamadorians that reside in my head sing, “So it goes…”

In the journal of this year’s holiday season, I thought I would share some bullet point successes and failures, in clearing the books on naught-six. I have few hopes that this blog will serve any purpose other than releasing the pent up psycho-creative backwash that swims in between my ears. So take the red pill and ride the wave baby.

Successes

  • Lasting through the entire Nashville Christmas parade with my son without freezing to death or taking a hostage.
  • Carving the Thanksgiving turkey with a nail file from a knock off brand Swiss Army Knife
  • Not getting caught by Metro for driving on expired tags
  • Talking Laura into using a beaver puppet and Burt the stuffed squirrel as Christmas Tree decorations.
  • Beating Richard Nixon’s record for Maalox consumed in a 24 hour period of time.
  • Not physically or verbally abusing the guy in the mall that claimed, “Celine Dion can make anything sound wonderful.”
  • Finding out that South Beach Meal Replacement Bars give me worse gas than a trough full of cabbage, broccoli, and brussle sprouts.
  • Dressed as an elf and went from office party to office party in a Downtown building. No one was the wiser…

Failures

  • Burl Ives whooped my large white bottom on the 15th of November. You’ve bested me again fat man.
  • Attempted to seek the wisdom of three wise men and got the same response from all, “Don’t eat at a Mexican place that doesn’t warn you that the plates are hot.” I was hoping for a little more substance than that.
  • Loosing an argument with a woman that since 1979 the incremental size increase of chicken legs was not a government plot.
  • Being questioned by the FBI about my sale of a Play Station 4 on Ebay
  • Did not stave off turning 34
  • Not shooting someone’s eye out with an official Red Ryder carbine action two-hundred shot range model air rifle with a compass in the stock.
  • Finding out that Boxing Day does not mean that you dress for work as your favorite boxer.

Well that puts a lid on the major events of the holiday season. Happy Festivus to all and to all a good night.