Friday, August 31, 2012

Shannon Hoon says...

'All I can say is that my life is pretty plain, I like watching the puddles gather rain, all I can do is just pour some tea for two, and speak my point of view, but it's not sane, it's not sane..I just want someone to say to me, I'll always be there when you wake, you know I'd like to keep my cheeks dry today, so stay with me and I'll have it made, and I don't understand why I sleep all day, and I start to complain that there's no rain, all I can do is read a book to stay awake, and it rips my life away but it's a great escape, escape, escape..All I can say is that my life is pretty plain, you like my point of view but I'm insane, it's not sane, it's not sane..I just want someone to say to me, I'll always be there when you wake, yeah, you know I'd like to keep my cheeks dry today, so stay with me and I'll have it made, I'll have it made, you know I'm really gonna have it made, have it made.'

Shannon Hoon ('No Rain', Blind Melon, Blind Melon, 1992)

Photography: Feet in Nature

What can I say, I have a photographic fascination with feet in nature. Here are 8 examples of that! Keeping it real simple today.

These feet belong to: Chinacat Sunflower, Cash Dyno-mite, Corlin Rosewater, Guy Dudeman, Wayne Mugsby, and Chessterr Hollowberry (the most I'll ever show of myself on this blog).

These nature spots are in Maple Ridge, Abbotsford, and Deer Lake, British Columbia.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Ellen Farber says...

'Like, what if I liked you, and you could...tell, and what if you didn't try to kiss me. And we just sat here, and we, we talked, and we got to know each other, I mean, a kiss would stop that cold. But if you don't try to kiss me, and, um, we talk and talk, and say goodnight, then maybe we could see each other again, and keep talking, and still you don't try to kiss me. Maybe we could get close, and start to, to really like each other. But..we might kiss, but we don't make out, and you don't touch any part of my body. And maybe love would grow. We'd, we'd get excited just to hear each other's voices and feel pent up desire. What if we got married? And you still haven't seen me in my under garments, you haven't touched any part of me. Then, on that first night, we would be together for the first time. We could do anything, and everything, and know that the Lord is with us, and blesses us. And because we waited, that first time and every time after would be so passionate, and so free. I bet you've never had sex one time in your life like that. Where, where there's no shame, there's no fear, where you can put all of yourself in a woman and, and leave nothing behind. Just you and me. You in your body, me in my body. Touching. Being close. Before God.'

-Ellen Farber (in response to Louie's desperate kiss lunge, played by Liz Holtan, 'Come on, God', written by Louie CK, Louie, 2011)

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

The Narrator of The Road says...

'The world soon to be largely populated by men who would eat your children in front of your eyes and the cities themselves held by cores of blackened looters who tunneled among the ruins and crawled from the rubble white of tooth and eye carrying charred and anynymous tins of food in nylon nets like shoppers in the commissaries of hell. The soft black talc blew through the streets like squid ink uncoiling along a sea floor and the cold crept down and the dark came early and the scavengers passing down the steep canyons with their torches trod silky holes in the drifted ash that closed behind them silently as eyes. Out on the roads the pilgrims sank down and fell over and died and the bleak and shrouded earth went trundling past the sun and returned again as trackless and as unremarked as the path of any nameless sisterworld in the ancient dark beyond.'

-The Narrator (The Road, Cormac McCarthy, 2006)

Novel/Film Review: The Road

It's time for some more fun with post-apocalyptic fiction! This time, it's Cormac McCarthy's The Road, a novel about a Man and Boy who wander through an America that's been mostly burnt to ashes. Unlike other dystopias, The Road doesn't feature any corrupt governments or major social commentaries. Rather, it focuses on a father and son relationship as they struggle to survive in an all but dead America. So instead of making me shout 'damn the man' as I take in the moral message, instead the novel just makes me want to hug my dad. Sure, there's murder, cannibalism, starvation, and all the down-sides to living on after the apocalypse, but the heart of the novel lies in the bond between an almost destroyed father and a son that's never known any other world.

I've been a fan of Cormac MacCarthy since I read No Country for Old Men about five years ago. I had seen the film adaptation and was so intrigued by the source material that I had to read the novel. Since then, I've read the novel three times. I've read The Road once, since that's all I could handle of such a bleak novel. McCarthy's writing style has a classic feel and I was surprised to learn that he is a current writer, I expected a story like No Country to have been written in the mid-1900s rather than early 2000s. McCarthy's themes of morality and fate are timeless and his writing style is beautifully poetic while being plain and reader-friendly at the same time.

The Road is one of the most challenging stories I've ever endured, as it basically tracks a man and boy (who are never named in the novel) as they starve and freeze to death. Throughout the narrative, the man has dreams/flashbacks of his wife, who commited suicide after giving birth to their son. Other than the father and son, there are only a few other characters, ranging between murderous cannibals and wayward drifters. The novel, however, is not action packed with violence and villainous showdowns, rather, the narrative stays close to the interactions between the man and the boy as he tries to teach his son that they can still be good people, even in a terrible world. The father has made his son's survival his sole purpose, and while he tries not to murder or steal from others, he'll also do whatever's necessary to keep the boy alive. The son constantly questions his father's decisions, concerned that they are doing the 'right' thing.

What makes this tale of survival and death so worthwhile is the style in which McCarthy wrote the narrative. In No Country for Old Men, McCarthy strips everything down to exactly what it is. In The Road, he paints a picture of a burnt-down America through poetic description and feeling-based language. There were several paragraphs where I had to stop and re-read just to fully take in the natural beauty or horrific nature of the scene. Since most of the time the duo are attempting to survive, there are a few amazing in the moments in the book where they do find food or are able to breathe, and it's a sigh of relief in an otherwise tough-as-hell read. If you're a fan of post-apocalyptic fiction and are looking for something with a different focus than the usual dystopia-fiction, The Road is both heart-breaking and rewarding. McCarthy shows us, through the power of language and masterful storytelling, that love can still survive even after everything else has died.

The inspiration for today's post is that I finally had the chance to watch the film adaptation of The Road, created only 3 years after the novel's release. While reading the story, I never would have guessed that the novel could be adapted anywhere close to how McCarthy describes the setting. It turns out that it's not an impossible feat to create a burnt-down America, with constant overcast sky and ashey-snow. Viggo Mortensen, who I've always been luke-warm on, brilliantly plays The Man and really does look like he's been starving for years. Charlize Theron plays the Wife, who's role was increased (in flashbacks) for the purpose of the film. Theron can annoy me sometimes, but I respect her ability as a dramatic actress and she does a wonderful job here. Kodi Smit-McPhee, who I was impressed by in Let Me In, really shows his talent as the Boy, bringing all the curiosity and naivety of a child to a very difficult role. There are also appearances by Garret Dillahunt, who most people don't know by name, but he almost always plays a villain/killer/rapist/asshole, and has one of the creepiest voices currently on television/film. And it's always nice to see Guy Pearce, who never seems too concerned about whether he's a leading man or has a 5 minute cameo. Here, he appears for about 5 minutes, but quickly proves why it's better to go with a talented actor even for the smallest bit part.

Written by Joe Penhall and directed by John Hillcoat, The Road is one of the best examples I've ever seen of an adaptation staying true to the source material. From the setting and character design, to the inclusion of all the iconic scenes from the novel, to the fact that they didn't alter the original dialogue in any way, the film version of The Road is about as faithful to the novel as you can get. Which also means that it's quite bleak and a difficult watch. Amazing scenes from the novel, from nice ones like the Boy trying Coke for the first time, or the father and son finding a bunker full of food, to horrible scenes of cannibalism and violence, are perfectly brought to life in this adaptation. Though there are a few minor differences/omissions from the novel, the atmosphere is so accurate that small plot revisions can be forgiven. If you can see through all the grey and get to the heart of the father-son relationship, than this movie can be rewarding. It needs to be said, though: This is NOT a date movie.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Dennis Reynolds says...

'I hate listening to people's dreams. It's like flipping through a stack of photographs, if I'm not in any of them and nobody is having sex, I just don't care.'

-Dennis Reynolds (played by Glenn Howerton, 'The Gang Gets Racist', written by Charlie Day and Rob McElhenney, It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia, 2005)

Visual: Cast of It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia

Today, I'd like to celebrate the wacky and psychotic cast of It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia, a twisted sitcom that is easily one of my favourite sources for a laugh. They're returning for their 8th (count em, 8!) season at the end of September, so you can look forward to a full review sometime around then.

For now, let's appreciate the comedic talents of Glenn Howerton (Dennis), Rob McElhenney (Mac), Kaitlin Olson (Dee), Charlie Day (Charlie), and of course, one of the most disgusting characters on television, Danny DeVito (Frank).

Monday, August 27, 2012

Gord Downie also says...

'Interesting and sophisticated, refusing to be celebrated, it's a monumental big screen kiss, it's so deep it's meaningless, one day you'll just up and quit, and that'll be it, just then the stripper stopped in a coughing fit, she said, sorry I can't go on with this...yeah that's awful close, but that's not why, I'm so hard done by...It was true cinema a clef, you should see it before there's nothing left, in an epic too small to be tragic, you'll have to wait a minute, cause it's an instamatic...yeah that's awful close, but that's not why, I'm so hard done by...Just then the room became more dimly lit, as the emcee carried on with it, and now that I got you all strangely compelled, I'm afraid that Candy's not feeling well...close, but that's not why, I'm so hard done by...'

-Gord Downie ('So Hard Done By', Day for Night, The Tragically Hip, 1994)

Gord Downie says...

'He said, I'm fabulously rich, c'mon just let's go, she kinda bit her lip, geez I don't know, but I can guarantee, there'll be no knock at the door, I'm a total pro, that's what I'm here for...I come from downtown, born ready for you, armed with will and determination, and grace, too...the secret rules of engagement, are hard to endorse, when the appearance of conflict, meets the appearance of force, but I can guarantee, there'll be no knock at the door, I'm a total pro here, that's what I'm here for...I come from downtown, born ready for you, armed with skill and its frustration, and grace too...'

-Gord Downie ('Grace, Too', Day for Night, The Tragically Hip, 1994)

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Jeff Winger says...

'I know I don't have to, but I want to. Look, we've known eachother for almost two years now. And yeah, in that time, I've given a LOT of speeches. But they all have one thing in common: they're all different. These drug runners aren't gonna execute Pierce because he's racist, it's a locomotive that runs on US, and the only sharks in that water, are the emotional ghosts that I like to call Fear, Anchovies, Fear, and the Dangers of Ingesting Mercury. Because the real bugs aren't the ones in those beds, and there's no such thing as a free caesar salad, and even if there were, The Cape still might find a second life on cable. And I'll tell you why: the heart of the water is truth. That water is a lie! Harrison Ford is irradiating your testicles with microwave satellite transmissions! So maybe we are caught in an endless cycle of screw ups and hurt feelings. But I choose to believe it's just the universe's way of molding us into some kind of super group. Yes Troy, like the Travelling Wilburys of pain. Prepared for any insane adventure life throws our way. And I don't know about you, but I'm looking forward to every single one of them.'

-Jeff Winger (played by Joel McHale, 'Paradigms of Human Memory', written by Chris McKenna, Community, 2011)

Note: This quote, admittedly, makes a LOT more sense if you've seen the episode and know that the speech is carried out through a montage of (fake) flashbacks. I still love how random it appears out of context.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Will McAvoy says... (with mini The Newsroom review)

'And you, sorority girl, yeah. Just in case you accidentally wander into a voting booth one day, there are some things you should know. And one of them is that there is absolutely no evidence to support the statement that we're the greatest country in the world. We're seventh in literacy, twenty-seventh in math, twenty-second in science, forty-ninth in life expectancy, 178th in infant mortality, third in median household income, number four in labor force, and number four in exports. We lead the world in only three categories: number of incarcerated citizens per capita, number of adults who believe angels are real, and defense spending, where we spend more than the next twenty-six countries combined, twenty-five of whom are allies. None of this is the fault of a 20-year-old college student, but you, nonetheless, are without a doubt, a member of the WORST-period-GENERATION-period-EVER-period. So when you ask what makes us the greatest country in the world, I don't know what the fuck you're talking about? Yosemite? We sure used to be. We stood up for what was right! We fought for moral reasons, we passed and struck down laws for moral reasons. We waged wars on poverty, not poor people. We sacrificed, we cared about our neighbors, we put our money where our mouths were, and we never beat our chest. We built great big things, made ungodly technological advances, explored the universe, cured diseases, and cultivated the world's greatest artists and the world's greatest economy. We reached for the stars, and we acted like men. We aspired to intelligence, we didn't belittle it, it didn't make us feel inferior. We didn't identify ourselves by who we voted for in the last election, and we didn't, ah, we didn't scare so easy. And we were able to be all these things and do all these things because we were informed. By great men, men who were revered. The first step in solving any problem is recognizing there is one: America is not the greatest country in the world anymore. Enough?'

-Will McAvoy (responding to the question 'What makes America the greatest country in the world?', played by Jeff Daniels, 'We Just Decided To', written by Aaron Sorkin, The Newsroom, 2012)

Mini Review:  The speech quoted above kicks off The Newsroom, a clever and idealistic news-drama show from the mind of Aaron Sorkin. Sorkin, known for writing The West Wing, The Social Network, and Moneyball, has quite the reputation for his style of fast-paced and ultra-witty dialogue, which has earned him as many fans as critics. The fans say that Sorkin's style is thoughtful and refreshing, the critics say his characters aren't realistic and that he's too preachy. I find myself somewhere in the middle. The premise of The Newsroom revolves around Will McAvoy, a super popular news anchor who falls from grace after spouting off the above rant in front of a group of college students. Following a leave of absence, McAvoy returns to team up with his ex-lover Mackenzie (an executive producer), to re-create the typical news show with a new twist: Honesty, in the interest of the people. So far, I've only watched half of the first (and only) season, and I find myself with a love-hate feeling towards this show. I appreciate that the show, which at the beginning is set in 2010, incorporates real-life news stories and controveries. I feel like I'm learning something, but always remember where the information is coming from, a television show with an obvious agenda. The dialogue is a problem, but does offer some refreshing exchanges and outstanding monologue. However, for the most part, the characters do seem a bit too clever, and you can really feel the writer's own opinions coming through in each of them. Jeff Daniels, who I've previously enjoyed in Imaginary Heroes and The Lookout, is the focal point of the show and really earns it, playing a complicated know-it-all who enrages people just as much as he impresses them. I'm not sure how long this show will keep my interest, it's quite challenging and dry at times (as well as sugary-sweet and over-optimistic), but for now, I'm enjoying the intellectual drama and the refreshing attempt at telling the truth on television.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Abraham says...

'I'll answer the handicapped fella's question first because he asked so nicely and without the use of firearms: What is a herd? That shot I just fired was heard in all directions for a long damn distance. Two miles? Three? Fuck if I know - - but a long damn way. Let me tell you how the world works since you fuckers don't seem to be paying attention for the last goddamn year of hell on earth we've all been living. Every rotting dead-alive fuck who just heard that is going to get up and start following that sound. That sound means people - - and people means meat. Some of them are close, and may actually make it to this area, since you've decided on a stationary camp - - that's a problem. Most of them can't walk a straight line and are as dumb as a post - - they'll lose interest or walk off in the wrong damn direction. But sometimes...not will walk by another one - - and that one will get up and follow. Then they'll meet more and they'll meet more, and more and more and more and more, you see where I'm going? They'll form a big group - - and sometimes these groups will encounter another group - - and they'll merge. What you end up with is hundreds of these undead fucks - - walking, nonstop, following a sound they've all forgotten. They're walking because everyone else is walking because they're walking, they're stupid as fuck. But these fucking massive groups of roaming zombies, did you call them roamers? That's cool. These fucking groups are called Herds. At least - - that's what we call them. They're bad fucking news. Now to answer little miss death threat's question...(Fuck you)...Right back at you. Eugene, what would your answer have been if you hadn't been so busy focusing on not shitting your pants?...It's classified. He never told us and he can't fucking tell you. Now I know what you're thinking - - this guy is crazy - - these people are crazy - - who the fuck would follow this crazy asshole to Washington D.C. without having any idea what the fuck it is he's actually trying to tell them. And rightly so...because that's what I thought about Eugene when I first met him. What a crazy piece of shit...that was my actual thought. But I was wrong. Once he rubs a needle on some silk to make a compass or makes you headache go away bu rubbing a thumb on the side of your head you'll start to realize, Eugene here is one smart mother fucker. The thing about smart mother fuckers is that sometimes, they sound like crazy mother fuckers to stupid mother fuckers...I hope you guys aren't a bunch of stupid mother fuckers...because Eugene here sure as fuck ain't crazy.'

Abraham (from Issue 54, The Walking Dead, written by Robert Kirkman, 2008)

The Walking Dead Visual: Love is Tough in a Zombie Apocalypse

Today I feel a bit morbid, so I put together aThe Walking Deadcomic montage, showing what happens to Rick Grime's wife Lori, and then to his lover Jessie. I call this photo set  Love is Tough in a Zombie Apocalypse. Rick hasn't had the best luck hanging onto female companions, and I don't expect that Andrea will be any exception.The Walking Deadis a comic that loves to kill it's characters. I predict that eventually, Carl Grimes will be the last of the original survivors. Poor poor Lori...

Image #1 from Issue 90, 2011

Image #2 from Issue 2, 2003 (illustrated by Tony Moore)

Image #3 from Issue 48, 2008

Image #4 from Issue 81 (Part 2 of 'No Way Out' arc), 2011

Image #5 from Issue 83 (Part 4 of 'No Way Out' arc), 2011

All images (except #2) illustrated by Charlie Adlard, gray toned by Cliff Rathburn.

The Walking Dead is created and written by Robert Kirkman.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Andy Millman says... (with mini Extras review)

'Ahhh, what are we doing? Selling ourselves, selling everything. Happiest day of my life: Oh, quick, I'd better do the invites and bake a cake, and get a press tent. Must have a press tent, it's a wedding. You know, I must see pictures of myself with other people I'm in a program with. Oh, and now I'm pregnant! Maybe we should televise the birth, get Ruby Wax to present it. Maybe it'll make Jimmy Carr's 'Hundred Greatest Caesarians'. I'm not having a go at you. I'm just sick of these celebrities, just living their life out in the open all the time. Why would you do that? It's like these pop stars who choose the perfect moment to go into rehab. They call their publicist before they call a taxi! And then they come out and they do their second autobiography. This one's called 'Love Me or I'll Kill Myself'. Oh, kill yourself then. And the papers lap it up. They follow us round, and that makes people think we're important, and that makes us think we're important. If they stopped following us round taking pictures of us, people wouldn't take to the streets going, 'Ooh, quick, I need a picture of Cameron Diaz with a pimple!' They wouldn't care, they'd get on with something else! They'd get on with their lives. You open the paper, and you see a picture of Lindsay Lohan getting out of a car, and the headline is, Cover up, Lindsay, We Can See your Knickers! Course you can see her knickers, your photographer is lying in the road, pointing his camera up her dress, to see her knickers! You're literally the gutter press. And fuck you, the makers of this show, as well! You can't wash your hands of this, you can't keep going, 'Oh, it's exploitation, but it's what the public want!' No! The Victorian Freak Show never went away. Now it's called Big Brother. Or The X-Factor, where in the preliminary rounds, we wheel out the bewildered to be sniggered at by multi-millionaires. And fuck you for watching this at home. Shame on you. And shame on me. I'm the worst of all, cause I'm one of these people that goes, 'Oh, I'm an entertainer. It's in my blood.' Yeah, it's in my blood cause a real job's too hard. I would've loved to have been a doctor. Too hard, didn't want to put the work in. Love to be a war hero, I'm too scared. So I go, 'It's what I do.' And I have someone bollocked if my cappucino's cold, or if they look at me the wrong way. Do you know what a friend of mine once said? They said I'll never be happy, cause I'll never be famous enough. And they were right. And if you're watching this, I'm so sorry. You're my best friend. You're my only friend. And you never did anything wrong. It was everything else. And I'll never do that again, I'll never treat you like that again. And it's eating at me, you asked me a stupid question once, and I just, I could have answered it, and I didn't, cause I was...I'll answer it now: I'd be the penguin. Cause I could eat the flying fish. I know what you're thinking: why doesn't the fish fly away? Well, they can't really fly, they sort of glide and flap. They should be called Glidey Flappy Fish. I'm so sorry.'

-Andy Millman (played by Ricky Gervais, 'The Extra Special Series Finale', written by Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant, Extras, 2007)

Mini-Review: I just finished watching the full Extras series, and the quote above is easily the stand-out moment from the show. I`ve never been a huge Ricky Gervais (or british comedy) fan, but Gervais fits perfectly into the role of Andy Millman, fame-starved extra turned embarassing-sitcom-star. This show relies a lot on word-play wit and offensive stereotype humour, but if you can keep up with the fast-talking accents, it`s actually quite well written. Each episode also features a celebrity, some of the highlights include: Ben Stiller, Daniel Radcliffe, Kate Winslet, Clive Owen, and Ian McKellan, all playing absolutely hilarious versions of themselves. Ashley Jenson as Andy`s best friend Maggie, is my favourite aspect of the show, she`s a great comedic actress who knows how to make self-deprecation quite amusing. She`s treated like a doormat through the show`s run, but plays the part perfectly. The speech above, performed by Andy Millman, who has begrudgingly found himself on Big Brother, was the perfect way to wrap up the show and to make us all think about the Celebrity lifestyle. I never thought Ricky Gervais, on a comedy show no less, could get me emotional, but man, his delivery of that monologue won me over big time. If British humour makes sense to you and you don`t mind witty offensive comedy, Extras is definitely worth checking out.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

A whole bunch of people say...

'Opinions are like assholes. Everyone has one and they all stink.'

- Common Expression

Note: I tried to find a true source for this saying, but there are so many variations that it's hard to tell which one is the original. It's a saying that's so woven into our culture that it's difficult to figure out who said it first. Out of all the versions, I chose my favourite, so whoever was the first to say it, cheers to you!

Trolls and Trolling: The Colourful World of Internet Opinions

On the internet, it's easy to have an opinion, but so difficult to be taken seriously. Since the creation of message boards and comment sections, anonymous strangers have been hurling insults and finding themselves in unsolveable arguments. For some reason, it isn't enough to just read or watch something, people want to discuss it. And for the most part, people are able to engage in rational discussions and analysis. But then we have the Trolls, a pop culture term for the trouble-makers on these boards and comment sections. Sometimes, the term Troll is well earned and well deserved by those who are labelled as such. Other times, it's an over-used cop out, a cheap way to discredit someone's argument.

Sites like YouTube and IMDb are infamous for their Trolls, but what's the best way to deal with these people? With the anonymous nature of message boards and the like, there's little to no accountability for acting like a true jackass. So maybe that's where it starts, having people sign in under their real names. Or, there's the classic solution, 'Don't Feed the Trolls', simply ignore the disrupter. But how to we distinguish between someone who is passionately and maybe controversially expressing their opinion, and someone who means nothing but harm by their comments?

There are a number of ways to spot a Troll. The easiest way is the use of ALL CAPS, exclamation marks!!!!!!!, lack of logic and reason, and most of all, brutal insults to other browers of the board. And in most cases, they post their attack and never appear again. And while usually, the most harm done is causing annoyance in other posters, when it comes to trolling on real life news stories, attempting to upset those who are there to learn and discuss, where do we draw the line? It's one of the toughest things in the world (in terms of first world problems, at least), to be attacked/insulted and just leave it alone. But as soon as you respond, the fight is on, and the Troll wins.

I believe that 90% of the time, the term Troll is mis-used or unwarranted. I've never been accused of being a Troll, because I'm usually able to construct my argument in a reasonable way. Also, I don't post nearly enough on comment sections or message boards to gain any attention. I like to visit IMDb message boards because many of my friends don't watch the same tv series and films as I do, so I find myself looking for like-minded fans and interesting discussion about plot points and writing/acting choices. I usually post when it appears like no one else is going to make the point that I want to make. So, I'm usually an observer when it comes to news sites and YouTube comments, and I usually find myself smacking my head at the stupidity, both of the Trolls and those who innocently feed them.

My definition of a Troll isn't someone who has a differing opinion, or even someone who feels the need to curse at or insult others. It all comes down to the delivery. If someone has an unpopular opinion and angrily expresses it, as long as the spelling/grammar is correct, I'll forgive them. My definition of a True Troll is someone who has no interest whatsoever in the subject matter, someone who didn't watch the video or read the article, and who only aims to upset others without remorse. If someone pops up on a message board to say 'THIS SHO SUXXXXXX!!!!!', that right there is a troll. If someone pops up to say "This show sucks, and here's why...', then others may label them as a Troll, but I wouldn't.

What interests me the most is that Trolls aren't just robots designed for hate, they are actual people, with minds and emotions and unique personalities. And these people consciously choose to attack and enrage others. What's the motivation there? There are the obvious explanations, like Trolls are attention-starved, unpopular, ignored in real life. But is creating a screen-name and acting like an asshole really a solution? I'll never understand exactly what motivates Trolls to act the way they do, but I do know that wherever there's a good person, like, say, Batman, there has to be a jerk, like, for instance, The Joker. So on the internet, anytime there's a reasonable person with something to say, there has to be the foil, the jerk who destroys any chance of intelligent discourse.

Recently, I heard a rumour that YouTube is giving people the option to sign-in with iGoogle, under their real names. A couple months ago, when I saw Henry Rollins, he had this exact idea as well. If people were forced to sign-in to YouTube, news sites, IMDb with their real name and home addresses, would we have Trolls? Probably, since some people have no self-awareness and act the way they do no matter what people think. But this sort of accountability would be positive, I think. Sure, I use a screen name too, I only wish I had been born Chessterr Hollowberry, but this isn't because I'm a coward who plans to upset people and get away with it, it's more just to create a persona away from my real-life one. But I never intend any harm. For those who do intend harm, is using their real information to sign-in going to stop them? In most cases, I'd say yes.

In the end, jerks will always be jerks, and the weak will always be defensive when their stance is attacked. I only ask that next time you're about to accuse someone of trolling, ask yourself, are they a Troll, or do I just disagree with them? And if any self-realized Trolls are reading this, there's more to life than pissing others off.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Tom Waits says...

'Your hands are like dogs, going to the same places they've been. You have to be careful when playing is no longer in the mind but in the fingers, going to happy places. You have to break them of their habits or you don't explore, you only play what is confident and pleasing. I'm learning to break those habits by playing instruments I know absolutely nothing about, like a bassoon or a waterphone.'

- Tom Waits (from the Wit & Wisdom section on his website,, 2009)

Visual/Lyrics: Tom Waits

'Well I know karate, voodoo too, I'm gonna make myself available to you, I don't need no make-up, I got real scars, I got hair on my chest, I look good without a shirt...well I don't lose my composure in a high speed chase, well my friends think I'm ugly, I got a masculine face, I got some dragstrip courage, I can really drive a bed, I'm gonna change my name to Hannibal, or maybe just Rex...' - 'Goin Out West', Bone Machine, 1992

Tom Waits is my hero for a lot of reasons. He's one of those musicians that changed music for me all over again when I discovered him, around six years ago now. He's a beast, a Thinker, a sweetheart, a magician, and a joker, all wrapped in one rugged package. One day, I'll write a full post about my Tom Waits experience, but today, we celebrate the many sides of Mr. Waits.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Ernest Hemingway says...

'For sale, baby shoes, never worn.'

-Ernest Hemingway (his response to a challenge/bar bet to write a complete story with six words, exact year unknown)

Note: The true origin of Hemingway's six word story is still (and probably forever) unknown. There are variations on the origin, and also variations on the story itself. Some say he was bet that he couldn't write a story under 10 words, and some say the story is: 'Classified: Baby goods, for sale, baby shoes, never worn.' Another variation is minor, with a colon: 'For sale: baby shoes, never worn.' I chose the quote above because it seems to be the most popular version of the story. The whole Hemingway Challenge is widely considered an urban legend, but the fact that such a short story fits Hemingway's usual style so well, it's easy to believe. A favourite high school teacher of mine once told me that my work reminded him of Ernest Hemingway. I took that as a compliment.

The Hemingway Challenge: 6 Favourites

The Revolution Will Be Accessorized is a compilation of essays, interviews, and writing from BlackBook magazine, edited by Aaron Hicklin. One of my favourite features in the book is a piece titled 'The Hemingway Challenge'. As the story goes, Ernest Hemingway was challenged to write a six word story, and the classic result is the accompanying quote for today's post. Inspired by Hemingway's brilliant response to the challenge, 25 authors offered their own six word stories. Some of them are almost as amazing as Hemingway's own, others are trying a little too hard to be clever with it. The beauty of Hemingway's story is the background story that it automatically presents, anyone with an active imagination can fill in the blanks.

Below, I've included my 6 favourite six word stories out of the 25 included in The Revolution Will be Accessorized.  I chose these stories based on the immediate reaciton that the very limiting six words give me and how intriguing and engaging the implied story behind the words.

'As she fell, her mind wandered.' -Rebecca Miller

'My nemesis is dead. Now what?' - Michael Cunningham

'Poison; meditation; skiing; ants - nothing worked.' Edward Albee

'Eyeballed me, killed him. Slight exaggeration.' - Irvine Welsh

'Satan - Jehovah - fifteen rounds. A draw.' - Norman Mailer

'She gave. He took. He forgot.' - Tobias Wolff

And, since it's too interesting a challenge to avoid, here's my attempt. I could probably write a different one every day, but here's what I have now:

'He worked hard and died alone.'

And since that's so damn depressing, here's a softer one:

'With him, her search is complete.'

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Ron Swanson says...

'Okay, everyone, shut up! And look at me! Welcome to 'Visions of Nature'. This room has several paintings in it. Some are big. Some are small. People did them and they're here now. I believe that after this is over, they'll be hung in government buildings. Why the government is involved in an art show is beyond me. I also think it's pointless for a human to paint scenes of nature when they could just go outside and stand in it. Anyway, please do not misinterpret the fact that I am talking right now as genuine interest in art and attempt to discuss it with me further. End of speech.'

-Ron Swanson (played by Nick Offerman, 'Jerry's Painting', written by Norm Hiscock, Parks and Recreation, 2011)

Visual: Ron Fn Swanson (aka Nick Offerman)

Today, let's celebrate the man who plays the infamous Ron Swanson on Parks and Recreation, Nick Offerman. Two years ago, I didn't know this guy existed, but now he's one of my favourite comedic actors. It's nice to see his soft side after seeing him all rough and gruff as Mr. Swanson.

Photo by Victoria Will

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Leonard Shelby says...

'I have to believe in a world outside my own mind. I have to believe that my actions still have meaning, even if I can't remember them. I have to believe that when my eyes are closed, the world is still here. Do I believe the world is still here? Is it still out there? Yeah. We all look into mirrors to remind ourselves who we are. I'm no different. Now, where was I?'

-Leonard Shelby (played by Guy Pearce, Memento, written and directed by Christopher Nolan, based on a short story titled Memento Mori, by Jonathan Nolan, 2000)

A Christopher Nolan Film Review

I was a fan of movies before I was ever a fan of directors, and I was a fan of Christopher Nolan before I even knew who the man was. The first Nolan film I saw was also his full-length feature film debut, Memento, which was a brand new film experience for me. At the time I was 15 or 16, still a casual film fan, and had no idea you were even allowed to structure a movie like that. Next, I watched Insomnia, because I'm a sucker for detective vs. killer crime stories. It wasn't until The Dark Knight was released that I realized Christopher Nolan had directed all of these films. Even to this day, it's a great feeling to be scrolling down someone's IMDb page and find that they've had a part in films you love. This week, I finally got around to seeing The Prestige, and I've now officially watched Nolan's filmography.

Nolan has made a name for himself over the past decade in the realm of crime and science fiction films. He's always stood out to me for his unique storytelling style. He never tries the same set-up twice (except for the Dark Knight trilogy, of course), and he isn't afraid to craft a film the way he wants it to look and feel, even if it's unpopular in the mainstream. I find his films, for the most part, to be creative, exciting, and thought-provoking. Nolan is a controversial director in the fact that for every dedicated and impressed fan he has, he also has an enraged critic. I think this split in fan-ship comes down to the fact that his films are truly dedicated to the world he is creating, to the message he's trying to send, and to the stories he's telling. If you don't understand why Memento is told backwards, or why Inception takes itself so seriously when it has such a ridiculous sounding plot, or why he would choose to adapt a Batman triology, then you probably won't like Nolan. I don't always agree with his film-making choices, but he's daring enough for me to at least give him a try. In his next project, The Man of Steel, Nolan will be in the role of producer, and I can only hope that he manages to reign in the over-ambitious and self-indulgent director Zack Snyder.

Below, I've ranked Christopher Nolan's films based on my own enjoyment, the execution and cinematography, and most importantly, the re-watchability factor. A thousand different Nolan fans would rank these movies in a thousand different orders, but here's how I'd break it down.

1. Memento, 2000: This is the obvious choice, but that isn't stopping me from ranking it as my favourite Nolan film. This was his major film debut, and among Nolan fans, is still considered to be his signature piece of work. Based on a short story titled Memento Mori, written by his brother Jonathan Nolan, Memento tells the story of a man trying to find his wife's killers, which is a very difficult task because he suffered brain damage in the attack and is unable to form new memories. That storyline alone is enough to pique my interest, but the fact that the story is told in reverse order, with the most film's 'final scene' appearing first, and the narrative working its way back to the 'beginning'. As far as challenging films go, this film takes a few close watches to fully be able to appreciate and understand the whole story, even if the film's lead, amazingly portrayed by Guy Pearce, never really figures it out. At age 15, just when I thought I had film-making figured out, Nolan came along with this masterpiece and changed my perceptions of how a story could be told on film.

2. The Dark Knight, 2008: I was never really a fan of any of the new wave of superhero films, until The Dark Knight came along. As a lifelong Batman fanboy, it was pleasantly surprising and thrilling to see that Nolan had avoided releasing a cheesy popcorn flick in favour of a more realistic and dramatic adaptation. It's pretty easy for me to say that this is a perfect film. Sure, it gets a lot of hate for it's over-the-top storylines and flaws in logic, but like I say, if you can accept Batman as a character, then you can accept pretty much anything the Gotham universe has to offer. My favourite aspect of this movie is that there isn't just one main narrative where the villain has a major plot and has to carry out a few minor schemes to pull it off. Rather, The Joker, played masterfully by Heath Ledger, has many violent plans that work towards his main goal of having Harvey Dent, played by Aaron Eckhart, fall into madness and bring Gotham down with him. While the film can be overwhelming at times, Nolan manages the action well, creating characters, even evil ones, that we are fascinated with. For any fan of Batman, crime and action movies, or just exciting movies in general, this is a must-see.

3. Inception, 2010: This film, other than maybe Memento, is Nolan's most passionately debated piece of work. Some call it genius film-making, others call it utterly contrived. I find it interesting that this is Nolan's only film where he had full credit for the writing. Inception isn't an adaption or a co-operative effort, it came completely from the mind of the film-maker himself. I feel like this film is almost too smart for it's own good and alienates a lot of film-goers who dislike the process of mentally breaking down a film and want everything to make perfect sense. I also think that a lot of the film's critics completely overlook that this is a work of science fiction. I can accept the fact that Nolan creates a world where it's possible to infiltrate another person's dreams, because at least it's creative. I recognize the criticisms that the film is too complicated, pretentious, and that the plot is corny, but Nolan's execution of the source material makes all the difference. With mind-blowing special effects, creatively stylish cinematography, and a great cast, Nolan managed to make an over-the-top unbelieveable story work within the context of the film. That all being said, South Park does a great job of satirizing Inception's absurd plot in the episode 'Insheeption'.

4. The Dark Knight Rises, 2012: Last month, I wrote an extensive review of The Dark Knight Rises, probably the longest review I've ever written. So I won't talk about it too much here for fear of repeating myself. Generally, I thought this film was a success. I liked that Nolan and company focused a lot on character interaction and development, and balanced the exposition well with breath-taking action. I loved the character design of Bane, right down to that eerie and iconic voice, and I thought that the cast was at their absolute best. It scratched every bit of my Batman fanboy itch, so I was able to forgive problems with pacing and some of the story choice. The film acted as a very satisfying finale to the Dark Knight trilogy and I'll definitely return to it in the future.

5. Insomnia, 2002: This was the second Christopher Nolan film I ever watched, and at the time, it was the perfect film for my tastes. The film is actually a remake of a 1997 Norwegian film of the same name, and it's interesting to note that this is the only film in Nolan's filmography where he had no hand in the writing (the screenplay was adapted by Hillary Seitz), he was purely a director. The story is about an aging homocide detective (Al Pacino) who is called to Alaska during 24-hour daylight to help hunt a killer (Robin Williams). The title Insomnia also happens to be the 'gimmick' of the film, as the endlessly bright setting and the haunting details of the case keep the lead detective awake the whole time he's in Alaska. This is a classic cop vs killer scenario, and aside from creepy cinematography and an interesting set-up, there's not much else here. I'm not usually a fan of Al Pacino, I'm never a fan of Hilary Swank, and Robin Williams can be good in the right role. It's also interesting to note that this was William's first turn as a film's villain, and he seemed to have no problem flicking the switch from comedy to suspense thriller. Since originally seeing it about ten years ago, I've only returned to this film once. It's entertaining for what it is, but not as timelessly classic as most of Nolan's other directorial efforts.

6. The Prestige, 2006:  I just saw this movie a couple of days ago, so it's still fairly fresh in my mind. I've been a Nolan fan for a while now, and I've always been aware of The Prestige, but the fact that I rarely enjoy period pieces, especially based in the 1800s, had kept me away until now. I decided to give it a fair chance, and I was mostly impressed with the film. I was pleased by the fact that although the story is set in 1899, the setting is just that, a setting, not a major focal point of the film. The Prestige (based on the novel by Christopher Priest) is very much about the two lead characters, played by Christian Bale and Hugh Jackman, who are up-and-coming magicians turned bitter rivals after a tragic incident. I do love a good film rivalry, but I found the plot to be a little messy, and the editing was a bit jumbled and confusing. The story is told in non-linear fashion, which I have no problem with, but the way the plot progresses can be mind-boggling if you aren't paying close attention. The highlight of the film is the lead performances, and my major criticism is that the film itself seemed to suffer from an identity crisis, resulting in an somewhat awkward movie-watching experience. As entertaining as the film is, I have a hard time ranking it above Nolan's more organized and well-executed efforts.

7. Batman Begins, 2005: Don't let the low ranking of this film trick you, I really do believe that it is well-made adaptation of the Batman universe and does a great job of setting up the rest of the trilogy. However, I've only fully watched this film once and have never really had the desire to return to it, I got the point the first time around I feel like a film should never feel like a chore, and with the overly dry pacing of this film (though it does have its more exciting moments), I found my attention wandering. From my perspective, this film served more as an introduction to the films that follow than a stand-alone story. I do absolutely love Cillian Murphy's role as The Scarecrow, and it's probably the only reason I'd return to the film. If I need my fix of Nolan-style Batman action, there's better ways to get it. And to be a bit blunt for a moment: What the hell was Katie Holmes doing in this movie? Should have been Maggie Gyllenhaal as Rachel all along.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Paul Simon says...

'I don't write to get something through to somebody. I write for various reasons. Some songs, I write for the pleasure of writing the song. It doesn't have any great meaning, it's just a song. Songs are nice. Kids sing songs all the time, for the pleasure of the singing. The pleasure of the rhythm. London Bridge is falling down. There's a pleasure in singing the songs, there is a pleasure in writing the songs. Some songs, you try and express yourself emotionally. Those are different songs for me. And they express what I feel and they relieve tensions that I feel when I express them. But I don't think about getting through to somebody.'

-Paul Simon (from the documentary Songs of America, Simon and Garfunkel, 1969)

...the unedited truth...: An Explanation

This week I posted another piece of short fiction from my personal collection, titled ...the unedited truth.... I've mentioned in previous explanations that I have a wide variety of half-finished short stories and concept outlines, and this story is one of those. Five years in the making, actually. Usually, when I conceive a character description or general plotline, the rest of the story falls into place and I find myself imagining the momentum of the story right through to the end. I think this habit of mine may actually cause me to refrain from finishing some of my stories. Since I already personally know where the narrator's journey is going, since it's already so clear in my head, it almost seems redundant to sit there and write it out. But that's where audience comes in. Sure, I primarily write stories with myself as my targeted audience, but as self-professed Writer, it's also my responsibility to share my words with whoever cares to read them.

Five years ago, I was working at Starbucks Coffee Company (this whole experience is for another blog post, one that I'll likely never write). Back in those days, I was in the usual shift-work grind and daydreaming about story ideas was a major help in getting me to the end of my shift, so I'd usually keep my inspiration window wide open. On one particular day, an image came to me from the abyss of creativity deep in my mind. I saw two brothers, one a young adult, the other a small child. They're walking down a long farmland road in the middle of nowhere, and the boy is nursing an ice cream cone that is quickly melting everywhere in the heat. As always, I began to ask questions about this image. Almost immeditately I knew that the older brother had found himself in some deep trouble, and although the younger one believed he was just having a nice day, the older brother would know that they wouldn't be making it home. I loved the idea of using the ice cream cone as a ticking-clock, as soon as it was devoured, the story would come to an end.

So I took a fifteen minute break, grabbed a pad of paper and a pen, and started writing. The first line that came to me is still the first line of the story: Winter isn't coming this year. The line about locking the door was added later, once I realized exactly the kind of trouble the older brother was in. The part that comes next in the intro, about the mother passing down cautionary tales, is actually inspired by stories my own mother used to tell me as a child. In the fifteen minutes that I wrote, I had myself an opening paragraph and a rough outline for the story. I found myself fascinated with the theme of the innocence of childhood vs. the cruel reality of adulthood. The running theme throughout the tragic tale is that you can never really tell a child the truth, not in any way that they can appreciate or understand.

After the day that I began to write the story, it sat for a while, waiting until I figured out the situation that the older brother was in. When I returned to the story, I continued the walk with the brothers, and the nicknames Rolly and Lolly came to me. This is a rare occasion, when a narrator of mine actually has a name. I wish I could tell you exactly where the inspiration for The Cone Zone, the criminal undertones, Hugo Huge, and sex with ice cream girl Remi came from, but that was honestly just the magic of storytelling. As I became more comfortable with Lolly's narrative style, the rest just fell into place. I knew early on that he was in major trouble with the wrong people, and I knew for sure that I wouldn't cop out and have him surivive. He made a mistake, and he would pay for it. But really, it's not Lolly's story. He is executed and that's where it ends for him. The real story is Rolly's experience of watching his brother murdered and having no idea why.

For a very long time, at least a couple years, the furthest I had written was up to the moment where Lolly grabs Rolly and runs out of the Cone Zone, still hanging out of his pants. I'm not sure what held me back for so long, other than I generally knew where the story was going and was satisfied enough with it living in my head. Skip way ahead to about half a year ago, when I showed my friend Guy Dudeman what I had written so far, and he encouraged me to finish the damn thing. So I took the motivation and ran with it, writing the rest of the story in one shot. That ending is easily one of the most heartbreaking I've ever written, just no mercy at all for the brothers. But even though I had an ending, there was still one paragraph that I found myself unable to write. For a long time, I had 'INSERT WISDOM PARAGRAPH HERE' and knew that I would return to it when I had the proper inspiration. All I knew is that there'd be a moment where Lolly knows the ending is coming and tries to share all his worldly knowledge with his younger brother. I'm not sure why this was such a difficult paragraph to write, I was just nervous about getting it exactly right, to say everything that I thought Lolly would want to say. So for a while I had an almost-story, with that one section begging to be written.

Earlier this week, I decided to give myself some motivation in the form of pressure. I thought that if I posted the first half of the story, there's no way I could just leave it half told, so I would have to write the missing section and finally complete the story. There was also the issue of what the hell to title the thing. Usually titles come quite easy to me, they fall into place during the writing process. For this one, the best I had was 'Lolly and Rolly' and that just wasn't going to do. So I skimmed the narrative for a line that stood out as a title, and that's when I noticed 'The unedited truth', which worked perfectly. I knew that the story was brutally honest with its characters, and I knew that Lolly was going to have a little discussion with Rolly where he's more honest that anybody would be with a child. So it worked. And my motivation tactic worked as well. I sat down to write the missing paragraph and actually ended up with 3 new paragraphs. One to fill in the gap between The Cone Zone and getting to the long road, and two with Lolly's advice to Rolly. A couple of quick edits, and five years later, I had a draft of ...the unedited truth....

This story has a lot of the themes and imagery that most of my stories have, which runs the risk of seeming repetitive, but also creates a unity between all my pieces of short fiction. There's the jaded male first-person narrator, the blazing sun (one day I'll write a story that takes place in the winter), an incredible lack of description about the character's appearances and the setting around them, and of course, an open-ended and very morbid ending. Other than the theme of a child's world vs. an adult's world, I didn't have a moral or message that I was trying to get across. I just wanted to write, as Lolly puts it in the intro, a cautionary tale that asks the question: what did Lolly really do wrong? I knew I didn't want him to be a hero and somehow find a way out of the mess, I liked the idea of him having a death sentence the moment he is caught with Remi. And when Rolly's ice cream cone is done, the car appears, and Lolly is done as well.

Just today, while thinking about this story in preparation for this post, I realized that ...the unedited truth... is really only the beginning, a prologue of sorts. I started thinking about Rolly's character growing up and the kind of person he'd be at Lolly's age. He'd still go by the name Rolly, and not know why. His earliest memory would be writing a story about an older brother being murdered, but not have any idea what inspired it. He'd absolutely hate ice cream, and not know why. And I'd reference a lot of Lolly's advice, incorporating it into Rolly's character as an adult. Eventually, throughout the narrative, he'd learn the truth about his brother and seek out revenge against Hugo Huge.  The title ...the unexpected truth... has a nice sound to it. The idea is there, I just have to write it.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Screwtape says...

'The more one thinks about it, the worse it becomes. He got through so easily! No gradual misgivings, no doctor's sentence, no nursing home, no operating theatre, no false hopes of life; sheer, instantaneous liberation. One moment it seemed to be all our world; the scream of bombs, the fall of houses, the stink and taste of high explosive on the lips and in the lungs, the feet burning with weariness, the heart cold with horrors, the brain reeling, the legs aching; next moment all this was gone, gone like a bad dream, never again to be of any account. Defeated, out-manoeuvred fool! Did you mark now naturally - as if he'd been born for it - the earth-born vermin entered the new life? How all his doubts became, in the twinkling of an eye, ridiculous? I know what the creature was saying to itself! 'Yes. Of course. It always was like this. All horrors have followed the same course, getting worse and worse and forcing you into a kind of bottle-neck till, at the very moment when you thought you must be crushed, behold! You were out of the narrows and all was suddenly well. The extraction hurt more and more and then the tooth was out. The dream became a nightmare and then you woke. You die and die and then you are beyond death. How could I ever have doubted it?'

-Screwtape (A demon speaking about failing to corrupt a man who fell in love with a Christian woman, became a Christian, joined the army, was blown up, and went to Heaven. The Screwtape Letters, C.S. Lewis, 1942)

...the unedited truth... (Finale)

Before I could get Rolly and myself to my motorbike, Hugo Huge's hotshot goon put a bullet in each of the tires. He would have shot me too if Hugo hadn't been hollering to let me live, to let me go. At the time, this was surprising and confusing, but now, it's clear to me that Hugo himself wanted to be the one to shut my lights off. Running from the Cone Zone, I tucked myself back in with one hand and held a bewildered Rolly close to me. He refused to drop his ice cream cone and I wasn't about to take it away from him. I avoided the main road and ran to a backroad in the farmlands. It'll take us a lot longer to get to safety this way, if we ever make it, but at least I'll have a bit more time to spend with my little brother. Rolly snapped me out of my thoughts with a question, asking me when we'd be back home. 'Not for a long time, Rol, just be patient for me okay?'. He replies with a whine, the poor kid is exhausted and needs to stop. His ice cream is melted away and his hands and arms are sticky with melted choco-swirl. He's now holding just a waffle cone that he occasionally nibbles at. I decide to take this time to offer Rolly some words to live by.

'Rolly, I love you, I want you to always think of that word, when you think of me. That love word, it's going to follow you around for your whole life. Never say it unless you really feel it. Save it for family, save it for friends, save it for a special girl. Girls are gonna seem gross to you for a long while yet, but at some point, they won't seem so bad. When you're a teenager, try and touch as many of them as you can, okay? They could be thin and pretty or fat and ugly, doesn't make a difference, you get as much experience with them as you can. When you're a man, older than I'll get to be, that's when you look at the woman inside, that's when you find someone special. And even if they ask you to, I'm telling you buddy, never pull out. You'll know what that means one day. Even if you get a million children out of it, you shoot into as many girls as you can, okay? I'll never get to have a kid. You've pretty much been a son to me, and I've been the absent father that our father was. It sucks that I have to cram a lifetime of advice into two minutes, and I know you have no idea why I'm being so serious. It's just, uh, you have to know.

Money, cash, coins, debit, credit, it's all bullshit, okay? And that religion stuff you'll hear about, don't take it too seriously, alright buddy? You have to make it right with yourself, that's all. But don't ever feel important. Never feel like you're better than anybody, but never feel like anybody's better than you, okay? Everybody shits themselves at one time or another. And there's going to all kinds of people telling you what to be, where to work, who to be with, how to live. They might mean well, but ignore all of it. You just have to find what makes you happy, even if the pay is shit and nobody else believes in you. I didn't amount to anything, just a bunch of forgotten nights and dumb mistakes, you can do a lot more than I ever did. And don't hurt anybody on purpose unless they hurt you first. Don't ever let em see you cry either. Oh man, what else, what else. I guess the main thing I want you to know is...never tell the truth to anybody. You know that word, true? You know what a lie is? You'll need to. People don't want to hear the truth, the unedited truth, how you really feel. People want to hear what makes sense to them, what makes them feel good, your feelings only matter to you. All these teachers are gonna tell you lying is wrong, and well, they're lying to you. Lying is one of your most useful survival skills, and even if someone catches you in a lie, never, never, never ever admit it, okay? There's so much more I could tell you, so many little things that'll help you along the way, but I know that when you witness what's inevitably going to happen, this little talk will all slip away anyways. Just remember, it's about you. You, you, you. Not anyone else. I love you, buddy.'

A few peaceful moments pass and I know that Rolly has already forgotten my words. Maybe they’ll come back to him in some distant future. Rolly breaks the silence by shouting at me to look. I don’t see anything ahead, the same drylands and boring scenery, so I turn around. I tell him to stop walking. There’s a car in the distance. That must be the car. My heart starts pounding but it’s only because I’m nervous I haven’t shared enough with Rolly. I kneel down in front of him so that his face blocks what’s coming down the road. He gobbles up the rest of his cone, probably his last good childhood memory. I manage to lock his attention for a moment, and I tell him to listen. He knows the word‘listen’. I say “Hey, buddy. You know how you like to make stories? And you know you’re a great drawer, right? What’s about to happen, you’re going to remember it for the rest of your life. I want you to make a story of this, the best you can remember, okay? Draw all the faces and write exactly the way you remember this, can you do that? Remember the name ‘Hugo Huge’. Say it, ‘Hugo Huge’. Yeah, good.When the story is done, show it to an adult. Any adult that’s around you, okay? Do you know the word trust? I trust you.’ A cloud of dust bursts in our face as the car swerves to the side of the road.

I look at Rolly just a moment longer as a car door slams. The driver, just some goon, gets out of the car very calmly. Rolly politely greets him. The passenger door opens and it’s Hugo Huge, with his new face, smashed nose and purple bloody splotches. Rolly doesn’t greet him, he clutches onto my jean leg and starts to sneak behind my leg. Hugo sizes me up and tells his goon to watch the kid. I tell Hugo not to kill Rolly, plainly as I can. He sniffles blood and smiles red and says tells me he doesn’t touch kids. He tells me he doesn’t touch other men’s girls, either, and he fires a bullet into my thigh. Rolly shrieks at the sound of the gunshot and he runs out into the road. I drop to the gravel and stare right into Hugo’s eyes. The sun is setting behind him and it all looks too perfect. Rolly is running around in the road screaming for help. He doesn’t know the word ‘orgasm’, but he knows pain when he sees it. If a car comes, it’ll likely just mean that som one else is going to get hurt for my big mistake. Hugo tells his goon to pop the trunk. He walks away for a moment, leaving me bleeding badly and unable to go anywhere. The reality of the pain my body is feeling won’t even set in for a couple moments, and by then I’ll probably be dead. Hugo retrieves a severed leg from his trunk and tosses it beside me on the dirt.

Rolly is on the other side of the car, crying and yelling for help, he doesn’t see this gruesome artifact. With ink like that, the leg doesn’t need a face to be recognized. Hugo tells me he liked Remi, maybe he even loved her. He tells me he cut her up into pieces, and that’s why it took him so long to get here. He tells me that he liked her, and he sure as hell doesn’t like me. There’s nothing for me to say to him, and he shoots me in the stomach. Rolly tries to run back around the car, but the goon grabs his overalls and I try to scream to leave him alone, but get a mouthful of blood. Hugo stands there and watches me suffer, watches me bleed to death on the side of the road. He must have been an only child. What kind of wisdom can a man like that pass on, I wonder. He steps closer and points the gun at my forehead. He tells me that a man like him can’t let a guy like me get away with something like this, he’d never get any respect. He lowers his gun and shoots me in the stomach again. Rolly is bawling his eyes out and the blank-faced goon keeps holding him back.

Hugo gets back into the car and the driver lets go of Rolly and gets back into the car. I lay in the dirt without any real thought in my head. Rolly comes over and sits right in my pool of blood beside me. He scrunches his noses and examines Remi’s leg with his eyes, not fully understanding where the rest of her is. Pretty soon he’ll wonder where the rest of me is. Someone will find him, crying and confused, covered in ice cream and blood. He touches my arm and softly sings, Roll-eeeeee loves Loll-eeee loves Roll-eeee looooves Loll-eeeee. Winter isn’t coming this year. And oh, I should have locked that door.


This is original writing and copyright and all that fine print kind of stuff. Please credit this to Chessterr Hollowberry. Thanks!

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Bob Dylan says...

'Advertising signs that con you into thinking you're the one that can do what's never been done, that can win what's never been won, meantime life outside goes on all around you, you lose yourself, you reappear, you suddenly find you got nothing to fear, alone you stand without nobody near, when a trembling distant voice unclear, startles your sleeping ears to hear that somebody thinks they really found you, a question in your nerves is lit, yet you know there is no answer fit to satisfy, assure you not to quit, to keep it in your mind and not forget, that it is not he or she or them or it that you belong to.'

-Bob Dylan ('It's Alright Ma, I'm Only Bleeding', Bringing it all Back Home, 1965)

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Marge Gunderson says...

'So that was Mrs. Lundegaard on the floor in there. And I guess that was your accomplice in the wood chipper. And those three people in Brainerd. And for what? For a little bit of money. There's more to life than a little money, you know. Don't you know that? And here ya are, and it's a beautiful day. Well, I just don't understand it.'

Marge Gunderson (played by Frances McDormand, Fargo, written by Ethan Coen and Joel Coen, 1996)

...the unedited truth... (1)

Winter isn’t coming this year. And oh, I should have locked that door. Things you never consider. Too late. There’s a lesson here, there has to be, of course, there is. Cautionary tale to pass on to the young ones, make them terrified of the outside so they always stay snuggled up to mommy. My mother, she’d tell me about boys face down in swimming pools, little girls gone missing with a stranger and found in halves, a cousin I’d never heard of had died in a dishwasher, her best friends son choked on peanut butter, eaten with a spoon right out of the jar. I learned at a very young age that no matter how safe you think you are, there's always an easy way to die.

Sky’s blue end to end, only interruption is right above us, that perfect circle a million miles away. Still so close, enough to fry us. My brother, just a boy, I call him Rolly because his real name is so ugly. He calls me Lolly for no reason. The road we’re walking down, there’s only colours and barely a sound. The dusty brown below out feet, the green all around us, the black or brown and white of cows with no clue, the grey of the road cutting down the middle. This time of day, sun’s as hot as it’s going to get and when I see that car, oh I better be ready. I could use this walk, this journey back home to teach Rolly all I know. Not for him, wouldn’t make sense to him. How do you tell a kid the truth? The unedited truth. It’d frighten him but it’d put me at ease. The sounds, no wind, no traffic, the random bird squawking, the klopp klopp klopp scratch of Rolly’s loose shoes scraping over the road behind me, the squish squish squee squish squee of blood-soaked shoes.

Rolly’s wearing the same exact overalls I wore at his age, six years old, that perfect kid age. Now I’m wearing clothes my father wore at my age and it haunts me to the core but I shut all that away and close my eyes and listen to Rolly’s song, Ro-lleee loves Loll-lleeee loves Roll-eee loves Lo-lleeeee, absently falling out of his mouth through breaths, his focus is on maintaining the ice cream cone in his hand. A race against the heat, a losing battle but he wouldn’t understand that. Little eyes of wonder set and focused on the edge, where his choco-swirl ice cream meets the waffle cone, his fingers wrapped around, sticky and sweet with melt, a trail of brown crawling down his arm to his elbow. Still at least ten miles away from home, out in the open, on the road to be seen by anyone looking. Oh, I should have locked that door.

Earlier, in the bathroom. Her name, Remi, her position: ass in the sink, hair wiping the mirror, legs over my shoulders. My position: hands clutching breasts, standing, swinging hips, feeling her. It was our ritual, every Sunday at the Cone Zone where she worked. Cone Zone, where ice cream is a lie, a front for darker sorts of business. Remi’s position: moaning and humping ice cream girl, girlfriend of the boss and I mean The Boss. Every Sunday, she watches the store, he conducts his dirty deeds elsewhere. Every Sunday, we have 5 two-minute quickies throughout one hour, I’ll sit and wait and lick all the flavors until she gives me the signal. This has been going on months, since my motorbike broke down a mile away and I walked here, since she saw me stained with sweat, since she pulled me by my hand and didn’t tell me who her Man was and she made a mess of me in the bathroom. 

I left poor Rolly sitting at the counter with his cone, told him to stay there, stay there, don’t move, stay there. Like it means anything to a child. First minute into the first round with Remi, front door chimes. Rolly’s unsure, no trust, he goes to the unlocked door to find me, and oh, he finds me. Ass naked, I see him in the mirror, just staring. Past him, I see my life end. Unexpected. Hugo Huge, ice cream man, criminal, psycho-killer, The Boss. All he can see are her legs and feet, I’m blocking the rest, having the staring contest of my life with this man. I’ve seen, Hugo’s seen, most of the men that pass through have seen the tattoo on the back of her calf and with ink like that you don’t need a face to be recognized. Rolly asked me, why is the ice cream lady in the sink? Remi, oh Remi, she screams Hugo help me, this bastard forc…and I pulled out, the sensation catching her breath and ending that sentence. Hugo took one damn step forward and I bolted, grabbing the shoulder of Rolly’s overalls one hand and turning the other into a fist, one mighty swing that’d either buy me some time or result in immediate death. Landed directly on his nose, the blood still crusted on my knuckles, broke it right into his skull. Remi was screaming for real and I just ran, holding my little brother tight as I could, wet dick still hanging out my fly.  

(End of Part 1)

This is original writing and copyright and all that fine print kind of stuff. Please credit this to Chessterr Hollowberry. Thanks!

Monday, August 13, 2012

The Narrator of The Hitchhiker's Guide says...

'Whatever it was raced across the sky in its monstrous yellowness, tore the sky apart with a mind-bugging noise and leapt off into the distance leaving the gaping air to shut behind it with a bang that drove your ears six feet into your skull. Another one followed and did exactly the same thing only louder. It's difficult to say exactly what the people on the surface of the planet were doing now, because they didn't really know what they were doing themselves. None of it made a lot of sense - running into houses, running out of houses, howling noiselessly at the noise. All around the world city streets exploded with people, cars slewed into each other as the noise fell on them and then rolled off like a tidal wave over hills and valleys, deserts and oceans, seeming to flatten everything it hit. Only one man stood and watched the sky, stood with terrible sadness in his eyes and rubber bungs in his ears. He knew exactly what was happening and had known ever since his Sens-O-Matic had started winking in the dead of night beside his pillow and woken him with a start. It was what he had waited for all these years, but when he had deciphered the signal pattern, sitting alone in his small dark room, a coldness had gripped him and squeezed his heart. Of all the races in all the Galaxy who could have come and said a big hello to planet Earth, he thought, didn't it just have to be the Vogons. Still, he knew what he had to do. As the Vogon craft screamed through the air high above him he opened his satchel. He threw away a copy of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, he threw away a copy of Godspell: he wouldn't need them where he was going. Everything was ready. Everything was prepared. He knew where his towel was.'

- The Narrator (The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, Douglas Adams, 1979)

Sunday, August 12, 2012

The Joker says...

'Oh, you. You just couldn't let me go, could you? This is what happens when an unstoppable force meets an immovable object. You truly are incorruptible, aren't you? You won't kill me out of some misplaced sense of self-righteousness. And I won't kill you because you're just too much fun. I think you are I are destined to do this forever.'

-The Joker (played by Heath Ledger, The Dark Knight, written by Christopher Nolan, Jonathan Nolan, and David S. Goyer, 2008)

Visual Loveburst: The Joker by Tim Sale

Anytime you have a character like the Batman, you need to have a perfect foil, a nemesis, a counter-part. In the Gotham City universe, you have the moody creature of the night, and of course, his most dangerous villain is a bright and smiling psychotic clown. Through all the Batman films, comics, and television shows, we've all seen several different interpretations of the infamous Joker. Sometimes he's far-fetched and cartoony, other times he's disfigured and horrifying, or just a goofy guy in clown make-up, or a number of other designs.

Other than Alan Grant's Joker in The Killing Joke, my all-time favourite Joker character animation comes from Tim Sale in The Long Halloween arc and its sequel, The Dark Victory arc. Joker isn't the main villain in these stories, but he does pop up to cause trouble throughout each arc. Sale's design of the insane clown walks the line between cartoony-physics and terrifying realism. His smile, with all those long, sharp, crooked teeth, is the most effective aspect of Sale's version of The Joker, it's all about that smile. Today, I'd like to celebrate and share eight of my favourite panels and pages of Tim Sale's take on The Joker. Have a laugh!

Image #1 from 'Revenge', Issue 12/13 of The Dark Victory, 2000

Image #2 from 'Battle', Issue 8/13 of The Dark Victory, 2000

Image #3 from 'Revenge', Issue 12/13 of The Dark Victory, 2000

Image #4 from 'New Year's Eve', Issue 4/13 of The Long Halloween, 1996

Image #5 from 'Peace', Issue 13/13 of The Dark Victory, 2000

Image #6 from 'Hate', Issue 6/13 of The Dark Victory, 2000

Image #7 from 'Christmas', Issue 3/13 of The Long Halloween, 1996

Image #8 from 'New Year's Eve', Issue 4/13 of The Long Halloween, 2000

All panels and pages were drawn by Tim Sale.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Billy Loomis says...

'Now Sid, don't you blame the movies! Movies don't create psychos, movies make psychos more creative!'

-Billy Loomis (played by Skeet Ulrich, Scream, written by Kevin Williamson, 1996)

The Horror Movie Experience

For as long as there have been stories, whether told around a campfire, written in a book, or displayed on a screen, there have been villains and heroes, killers and victims, the scarers and the scared. In all forms of entertainment, we have a wide variety of genres, because each of us is designed differently when it comes to what lights our brains on fire. There's comedy for the light-hearted, drama for the heavy-hearted, and horror for the wicked-hearted. As a society, we frown down on real violence and try our hardest to stop criminals, but many of us still watch death and gore for entertainment. A man shoots a man in real life, we're shocked and appalled. An actor on screen 'shoots' another actor and he 'dies', and we cheer. There will never be an end to the debate about the cause-and-effect nature of violent films and real-life killers, but I don't think that ignorance or censorship is ever the answer. My attitude towards horror films, even the more shockingly offensive ones, is that if someone was allowed to make it, I should at least try and watch it.

The 'horror' genre comes with many different styles, but it all comes down to a fascination with fear, murder, and gore. It's no secret and no surprise that human beings are very curious creatures, about our minds, bodies, and the world around us. So of course, the more thick-skinned of us get excited about the prospect of seeing what we'd look like ripped wide open. But maybe it isn't the victims we're interested in. Personally, I've always been intrigued by the mind of the killer, by the winner of the brain lottery who ended up with a lust for violence. Then there's the figure of the Hero, the symbol of justice, the satisfaction we get from watching the bad guy go down in the end. Though, as the genre progresses, villains we cheer for and 'unhappy endings' are much more common.

Horror films come in many shapes and forms, and the horror genre is really an umbrella term for a vast variety of film styles. There's slashers, monsters, aliens, ghosts, demons, robots, and anything else we can turn into a deadly villain. There's comedic horror, drama with elements of horror, supernatural horror (which seems to be quite popular lately), gross-out horror, and just good old horror-horror, which sticks to the conventional rules. Although I could name a few monster/alien horror films that I've enjoyed, and who doesn't love a good zombie feature, I find myself most interested in slasher films. Sure, a monster or a demon can be scary, but I can't ever relate on an emotional or psychological level. But when a person snaps, put on a mask, and hunts down idiot teenagers, then you've got my attention. No conflict is ever more fascinating to me than human vs. human. We can create all the ghosts and ghouls we want, but human and human violence is always the scariest. And I'm a sucker for the big reveal at the end, when the mask comes off, and the killer delivers the all-important motive speech.

I could criticize a lot of the choices my parents made in raising me, but one aspect that I'll always be proud of is the fact that they never tried to shelter me or censor the material I've had access to. Obviously they wouldn't put porno on in the place of Sesame Street, but they'd always explain why something wasn't healthy for me to watch, and usually give me the chance anyways. I owe this style of parenting to my very open-minded taste in films and to my ability to watch just about anything without being offended or disgusted. My reaction to horror scenes is usually to laugh, rather than to shield my eyes or scream 'turn it off, turn it off!'. I feel like covering my eyes is one of the biggest insults I could direct at a film-maker. If it's on screen, I'll watch. This isn't always a good thing for me, but it's better than being afraid of special effects and scary acting.

When I was 5, about 20 years ago, my father sat me down in front of a television and put on Nightmare on Elm Street, then left the room. A very risky move for a parent, and it led to some sleepless nights (and probably some psychological issues that I haven't discovered yet), but it was an important lesson for a child. I learned that children are not safe, that there are dangerous criminals lurking around the corner, and I learned an important lesson about the difference between reality and fiction. Of course, at the time, I was just terrified to go to sleep, but eventually I wasn't afraid anymore.

The next major step in my horror-fanatic progression came when I was 11/12 years old. On Friday nights, my best friend and I would walk to to the video store (back when those existed) where old horror movies could be rented for 99 cents each. We'd rent 5 or 6, and stay up til 4am laughing our asses off at the crappy acting and embarassingly bad special effects. Having this routine for a couple years, I was able to watch just about every known classic horror film, from the Halloween and Friday the 13th series to way lesser known horror duds about cannibal parents and deadly washing machines, we saw it all. And I never found myself scared, just amused. I guess the point is that cutting someone wide open in real life is wrong, so we (the sane ones, at least) live out our morbid curiosity through the magic of cinema.

Next came the now classic Scream. This meta-horror slasher flick is known for many things. First, it's probably known for being a 90s icon and being cheesy as hell. It also brought back the popularity of teen slasher films. But it didn't do that by just being a teen slasher flick, they added an element of self-awareness to the genre that nobody had ever seen before. The teens being stalked and murdered weren't just hanging out waiting to die, these were teens that had grown up on horror films and knew The Rules. For a good year or two after first seeing Scream, I was just about obsessed with the movie. I guess it was a matter of a piece of art (though most wouldn't call it that) being introduced to me at the exact right time. The movie was fun, intelligent, gross, and even a little scary. And the big killer reveal at the end, along with the motive speech, is still one of my all-time favourites.

Scream, of course, led to about a million other slasher films all with the same formula, but none having as much fun with the genre as Scream did. Through my teen years, I'd keep an eye on the horror films that were coming out, but eventually my interests shifted to other genres and forms of entertainment, with horror films providing more nostalgia than excitement. Now, we're in a new age of horror films. We're in the era of The Remake/Reboot. It's no secret that Hollywood ran out of ideas years ago, so why not take movies that scared us as kids and relive the terror for a new generation. Some of these remakes, such as The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and Rob Zombie's Halloween, were very successful in not just copying the original, but really adapting the subject matter to a modern audience. Other remakes, well just about all of them, were just forced, obvious money-grabbers.

Then there's Scream 4, which came out last year, an attempt to once again redefine the genre for a new generation, with new rules for both the killer and victims to play by. As a die-hard fan of the original (not so much the 2nd and 3rd installments), this movie appealed to my nostalgia and I found it entertaining without taking it too seriously. There are also some film-makers out there who are currently trying to re-invent the genre and allow it to grow in new directions. Forget teen vampires, that's not what I'm talking about. Joss Whedon's Cabin in the Woods is a great example. This is another example of meta-horror, as horror movie figures and conventions are examined and parodied in this film. I didn't love the movie, but I appreciated what Whedon and company were trying to accomplish. There's also a supernatural slasher flick called Detention, which I haven't seen, and which has received terrible reviews, but from the trailer it at least looks like the film is trying to keep the genre fresh.

Whether it makes sense or not, people love watching depictions of terror and violence. As time passes by and we are able to track the effects of these types of movies, lots of questions are being raised about the danger of exposing a young mind to violent imagery and subject matter. On one hand, childhood should be full of innocent play and curiosity, and shouldn't be tarnished by adult-style entertainment. On the other hand though, the bloody one holding the butcher knife, children also shouldn't be sheltered and led to believe that the world is safe. Sure, witnessing simulated violence could indeed lead to real violence, but it can also prevent that exact outcome. By understanding the value of violent entertainment as a way of coping with real-world terrors, by understanding the difference between movie blood and real blood, and by understanding and fully appreciating the place of horror movies in our society, I think we could all learn something about ourselves and this crazy world we live in.