Friday, April 29, 2011

Separation Reflection

As a moviegoer, I'd like to think that I'm capable of discerning taste. Even as a (younger) lass, though, the visually appealing aspects of cinema held sway over me, far beyond such annoyances as plot, dialogue, and content; and for this reason, perhaps, the works of director Ridley Scott have always tickled my fancy, be it on an aesthetic or even, put simply, some primevally visceral level of appreciation. For all of the man's great films (Alien, Blade Runner and of course, Thelma & Louise), let it be known far and wide that Legend is not, for most intents and purposes, one of them. Unlike, say, Blade Runner, Scott's foray into the realm of fantasy bears a lamentably forgettable roster of pathetically archetypical characters, to say nothing of the storyline itself; and also, unlike Alien, there is no gloriously monstrous presence to hold everything together. What Legend shares with its predecessors, however, is exquisite ocular delights, the kind of stuff that can stay with you for a while, if not longer. I, for one, will never forget the inherent beauty of the following scene. Think of it, or me, what you will, but chances are, you (or the child within) will remember it.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

The Mighty Thor

I saw Thor today, internationally titled as Thor: God of Thunder, domestically titled in the U.S. as just "Thor," because there's only one god in America, and His name is glocalization. Can't use the word "god" so casually in a fundamentally religious nation like the U.S., right? It's like drawing Mohammed; people might get offended. But go ahead, let them worship their pagan deities abroad. They're animals anyway, so let them lose their souls.


I've been a fan of the Thunder God since grade school. Why? Beats me. Buff blond guy with wings on his helmet, wields a mighty's amazing I'm not gay. Seriously, though, it's because the combination of myth and imagination stirred my senses as a youth. The possibilities seemed endless. Stan Lee, Jack Kirby, and Larry Lieber made the adventures of a mythological Norse god epic in comic form, staying somewhat true to the foundation of Norse mythology while at the same time bending its parameters to create their own mythos. Then came along Walt Simonson, who deserves his own article (seriously). Church: they were the original mash-up artists, because anything's game when you're playing with characters created before copyright laws were invented. Ask Walt Disney.

I love the hell out of Thor (2011**); how it's received by the rest of Midgard is another matter. If I were a betting man, I'd say that Chris Hemsworth's charisma alone will catapult its box-office through word of mouth. But he's unproven, and Fast Five is released one week later stateside. And I'm drunk on mead.

If you're into hammer and grammar, though, read on for some non-spoiler points:

- Chris Hemsworth is fantastic. Young Hollywood just got its next big star (Sam Worthington is so fucked). The man has Brad Pitt-level charisma. With Downey Jr., Hemsworth, Chris Evans and Jeremy Renner, The Avengers is packed with talent. That's a charisma overdose.

- Loki is the best and most realistic Marvel movie villain yet.

- The trailer and previews really shortchanged the actual look of the film. Asgard looks amazing. The Rainbow Bridge is breathtaking.

- Holy shit, the Destroyer.

- The Marvel Movieverse tie-in stuff is handled a lot more aptly than it was in Iron Man 2. It's virtually seamless, and in one case will sound like a throwaway comment to a lot of audiences. But the nerds will get it. Then circulate it online so everyone will know. They're great at that.

- Vincent D'Onofrio has a great cameo.

- Don't see the film in 3D. I saw a 2D digital projection, and even then it was murky in spots, perhaps due to poor projection, a bad trend at too many theaters. No way I'd want to see that with tinted glasses and post-conversion 3D and cataracts.

- Idris Elba is a stoic badass as Heimdall. Word to Stringer Bell. No typecast.

- Demerit points for all the Dutch angles Branagh uses. They serve no purpose whatsoever. They're visually displeasing to the point of annoyance. The crowd I saw it with was oddly -- for modern Korean audiences -- rude during the film, talking, using their cell phones, etc. Maybe the American-superhero-via-Norse-mythology plot had something to do with it, but when the film was clicking everyone was silent. Even for me the Dutch angles were unsettling. Seriously, there were like 30 people in the theater (a matinee), and folks started squirming like kids on a long car ride. Such an overuse of Dutch angles would make for an interesting social experiment, I suppose, but for Thor it realistically could hurt the film's gross, and it puts a significant bruise on a great addition to modern superhero films.

- Odin's speech that Mjolnir -- and, yes, I'm capitalizing that sucker, the greatest supporting inanimate object in film since Wilson the volleyball* -- is a powerful weapon and a powerful tool is terrifically subtle foreshadowing.

- A little more nitpicking: the sets on Earth are spartan, and that's being kind. The New Mexican town 50 miles away where later action takes place looks like a B-movie set. Overall, Branagh's sense of mise en scene on Earth is claustrophobic. It's a thematic idea gone wrong.

- Screw Pandora, I want to live in Asgard. But only if I can take my Shih Tzu with me. In the Marvel tradition, there's a nice message contained within the storyline. Hogun's Japanese, Heimdall's black, and frost giants are blue. The Rainbow Bridge is rainbow-colored. It's a simple analogy, but the simplest ones are the greatest. Ask Aesop.

* No one believes me, but when I saw Cast Away in Korea in 2000, Wilson was actually a Spalding. To this day, I haven't been able to find any evidence, but I know what I saw. At the time, I found it an ironic joke. Now, I think global corporate mergers are to blame, and maybe some mischief on Loki's behalf.

** The 2017 reboot not so much. Gary Oldman didn't work for me as Odin, nor did Armie Hammer as Balder the Brave.

Friday, April 22, 2011

What Steve Kerr Said

This morning I was lucky enough to catch game 3 of the Heat-76ers first-round series, and it was a good game, especially for this Heat Stan. Miami trailed the entire first half, looked good coming out of the break only to falter from a 12-0 Sixers' run, and then managed to right the ship in the 4th quarter, claiming a 3-0 series lead.

That was pretty much expected. What wasn't was Steve Kerr's comment in the closing minutes that, "barring a bus crash," the Heat will undoubtedly win the series.

Tasteless? Inappropriate? Voodoo? Honestly, I don't know anymore.

Were Steve Kerr -- one of the best announcers in any sport, by the way -- sitting next to me when he said that I probably would have laughed at the statement's morbid truth. Then I would have marveled that Steve Kerr had been teleported into my apartment.

I suppose Steve's comment is considered NSFW. Death, even of the hypothetical variety, is a sensitive issue, as Kerr undoubtedly knows. I'm sure, also, that he's the kind of guy who realized what he said casually then immediately registered the weight of his words. If I were to make a comment like that, odds are in my favor that no one in present company has been affected by a horrible traffic accident (unless my wife is there, because her mother was killed in such a way). But on live television, with millions tuned in, those odds aren't as good, and they're compounded by the fact that, instead of genuine offense taken, a lot of people are conditioned to look for it, to sniff it out like a German Shepherd does drugs at an airport, and to get up in arms over it. It's evident in Western society that a large percentage of the population, subconsciously or not, seeks out ways to get offended.

Sorry, for a couple minutes there I forgot Steve is white (not his fault!).

Taking a guess here, but Kerr's comment won't be scrutinized by the league, nor will he be reprimanded. Whether he is or not, I'm also betting that Kerr himself will offer up an apology. That's the kind of guy Steve Kerr is. He knows a lot about insensitivity in sports. And there was no malice in what he said. It was a comment perhaps too casual for some viewers -- he made Marv Albert shout, "Whoa!" no mean feat, that -- but there was no hate in what he said.

But if Kerr were black, I imagine we'd have a different scenario. Yes, I went there.

Thursday, April 21, 2011


The Devil is a good many things and more:

“I smoke because the money I spend on cigarettes is money I’d otherwise spend on booze, and when I drink I beat my kids.” But he does that anyway.

“I think it’s better to stay away from her because she’s better off without me.” But that’s fearful conjecture at best.

“I cheat on tests because they’re designed to be too hard in the first place.” But she never studies for more than ten minutes a day.

“There’s no point in voting. Nothing we do makes a lick of difference.” But that’s asking for what one gets, if not a vote all its own.

“Drinking is what keeps me sane. It allows me to forget the things which trouble me.” But nothing has been forgotten and, if anything, matters have become exacerbated.

“Wanton unprotected sex with eight mutual acquaintances is the best way to teach my ex a lesson.” But it does so much more than that, and not to the ex.

“I’m not running. I’m changing gears, and far away at that.” But the cost to oneself far outweighs the benefits.

“Nothing will change. I know it’s true. Nothing you say to the contrary will alter the truth. We can’t change. Don’t ask me to think about it. This is for the best." But that’s untrue on all counts.

Pessimism and justifications have their rightful place and time, but The Devil goes one step further, beyond the realm of reason into one that lies on the edge of self-destruction and, much worse, that of stagnation. Stillness is not what The Devil craves, per se, but it’s the end result of rationalizing pathetically obtrusive thoughts, behaviors, and values; and yet, the path of The Devil is seductively, deceptively facile - which is not to say that it’s effortless. Far from it, in fact, as such an outlook requires constant attention to neglecting details, details which, lo and behold, would lift The Devil from the quagmire of his own design.

Of all the cards, The Devil is, ostensibly, the most alluring to those with more than a few copies shuffled into the deck. Seemingly luxuriate within its willful ignorance, The Devil nonetheless potentially undermines all the decisions that may lead to progress, offering instead the pleasure of shallow ease fueled by defeatist tendencies, a criminal’s incredulity, and subversive diversion. (In-of-itself, The Devil is not the most dangerous card, but on the rare occasion it's paired or conjoined with others, the results can be cataclysmic.)

Even so, there comes a time, however, when The Devil must loosen its hold and give way to something else. That, or languish forever. But the sway of other cards is powerful indeed and even The Devil can see change coming, foolish justifications be damned.

Block of Ages

I came across this banner the other day while passing by the local Menards and found myself positively compelled to capture the magic in gloriously digital detail, though I am, as of yet, uncertain as to the why part of the process. But that's not the half of it, really, as questions abound. Questions, questions, questions, I say.

Why, for example, are concrete blocks so popular as to require a a goddamn banner? And let me stress here that the photo belies the size of this thing. It's quite large, and size does indeed matter, especially when we're discussing an arguably superfluous advertisement in the first place.  So again, is it necessary to advertise concrete blocks? I know concrete blocks like the back of my hand, and I say no.

Secondly, the context. It's a Menards, people. If, just for shits and giggles, we're to assume that concrete blocks require banners and whatnot -and I'm not saying they don't, but I am, actually- would Menards need to advertise them? Again, I say no, on account of it being a Menards. In fact, if I were in the market for concrete blocks -say, to drop onto some douche bag yuppie's BMW from an overpass- Menards would be just about the FIRST FUCKING PLACE on my mind to shop. Seriously, that would be like going to Wal-Mart only to see a ginormous banner on the exterior that read We Sell Shitty Electronics!! 

Also, why am I consumed by the desire to acquire concrete blocks? It can't be the banner itself, no way, but the banner got me thinking about concrete blocks, and the thought of concrete blocks gets me thinking about dropping them on some manicured fuck's windshield, and...

Oh Menards, you sly dog. I should have known. 

Friday, April 08, 2011

What about the Other Zero, Stupid?

Man, Planet X is such a drag. It’s not the rocks that bother me so much -as they can be blown to pieces, mind you- but the dust that really gets to me; and when the rocks have been reduced to dust, it’s just more dust, always the color of rust. The dust has been collecting upon my scales, wings, and two oozing stumps from which a pair of glorious heads once spat crackling shafts of energy. I’ve neglected to mention what happened to those heads, correct? That I’m missing a few is obvious, yet how this came to pass is something I’ll leave to your imagination, for stories are so utterly meaningless when recounted by one-headed monsters with three necks and besides, you wouldn’t believe me if told you, anyway, or you’d laugh and say it was my own fault, like if I said that I’d tried to spew said beams of energy with my jaws clamped shut. That’s not what transpired, of course, but you get the idea.

Now Earth, that’s a happening place. It’s pleasantly warm for the most part, at least where humanity resides, and those locations are filled with glittering spires, happy homes, and countless delicatessens to stomp, mash, chew, and trash - possibly with sizzling bolts of deadly energy. Energy, as in vitality, zest, fire, pizazz, exuberance, sprightliness, zip and/ or zing, passion. Pizazz, yeah.* I like the sound of that. I’d pizazz that shit to the ground! Not entirely, since Earth without people and their machinations would be like Planet X, all rocks and dust.

Rocks and dust are what I have alongside a single head where once there were three, and that one good head has its eyes on you, Earth, even if you don’t see me.

* Pizazz is the sound of one's flesh melting away.

The Arcanum of Zero

The Fool isn't the only card in my deck, yet it's one that's bound to appear at some point or another - possibly due to me having slipped a few extra copies into the stack, if only to lesson the odds of an abundance of other, less admirable cards from being dealt. But we're talking about the The Fool tonight, and that, as I say, is that.

The Fool lacks the faculty of proper reasoning, though an almost impishly accurate interpretation of events and facts somewhat offsets this dearth of logical thought. A holy terror of sorts, The Fool at once ensnares, enrages, and endears himself to those he encounters, albeit to some much, much more than others. If he were smarter, The Fool would be able to focus upon those individuals for whom he cares, if not loves most of all, and thus expedite his spiritual maturation; alas, the lad is a tad dim, for mental clarity is something beyond his grasp even if the greatest things dangle before his very eyes, as visual acuity has been retarded alongside his inability to recognize the inherent dangers of his obliviousness to all that should matter.

The void is of no concern to The Fool since the precipice on which he prances is not as it appears to those near him, and the dog nipping at his heels (and possibly on his ass) is merely 'reality' cramping his style, and that's the best way to describe his slipshod sagacity. A wisdom of sorts does exist within him, most certainly, but its relationship to the world -and vice versa- is tenuous at best.

The tendency to fuck things up characterizes The Fool and it takes him quite a while to understand such mistakes. It takes him so long to apprehend the situation, in fact, that it could be argued that by the time The Fool fully comprehends what he's done, another card has been dealt and he's The Fool no longer; which is not to imply that he's become anything better than before, but that's another matter entirely.

I'm not the brightest knife in the drawer, you know,* yet we'd be mistaken if we were to presume The Fool is the card most drawn.

* Or the sharpest bulb in the socket.

Saturday, April 02, 2011

Money Isn't Everything...

...But it's not so bad.