Thursday, April 16, 2009

Another Flood On The Horizon

Frustration is a Great Muse

I am working on a blog, but it is going to be lengthy so it will take some time to write. As I have done in the past, these lengthy blogs are usually broken up into sectional posts because they are too long and difficult to read all at once (I know, hard to believe).

I have done several of these serialized blogs in the past when I had more stuff trying to escape my brain than I had blog space to put it all on. Those blogs can be found here, here and here.

So for all my loyal readers out there in cyber-land, don't worry about me disappearing into the woodwork, I am just going to be hiding under the table like a dust bunny for the next week or so.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

I Hope The Brunette Wins

If I Had A Dollar For Everytime This Has Happened To Me....

I almost NEVER post videos created by someone else on my blog. I figure, I have so much talent, why waste time promoting someone else's work.

However, I have been known to make exceptions. Things haven't been going really well around the office of late and to say that the office 'malaise' has set in would be an understatement.

That is why this little video really lifted my spirits. Two smokin' hot Jedi Babes walk into a bar........what could go wrong.....NOTHING.

To all my female readers who think this is sexist and juvenile, hey....this is how men think....learn from it. Have a great weekend, and "May The Force Be With You!".
Click the picture for the video

Monday, April 6, 2009

Essential Cinema - 45

Martin Sheen... Kit
Sissy Spacek... Holly
Warren Oates... Father
Ramon Bieri... Cato
Alan Vint... Deputy
Gary Littlejohn... Sheriff

Terrence Malick

Terrence Malick

Tak Fujimoto (photography)
Stevan Larner (photography)
Brian Probyn (photography)

A teenage delinquent and his girlfriend go on a killing spree / road trip in the American Midwest.

Youthful angst, ego and love set against the bleak landscape and rigid fabric of conservative middle America during the 1950s.

Even though there is a disclaimer that the characters in the film are fictional, it is evident that this is a stylized depiction of the Charles Starkweather killing spree that gripped America in 1958. While this film gives a human and somewhat likeable persona to Starkweather's image it is still a disturbing film on several levels.

The cast is dominated by a young Charlie Sheen and an even younger Sissy Spacek as the doomed lovers on their cross country killing spree. Sheen's character, Kit, is an unmotivated loser with no real ambition or drive. Spacek's Holly comes off as a shy and introverted young girl who is mostly heard in voice over as she waxes poetic about her doomed relationship with Kit.

It doesn't seem that Holly is actually in love with Kit and she often times appears to just be along for the ride in an attempt to escape her repressive past. She finds Kit endearing at first, but grows tired of him throughout the course of the film, eventually abandoning him in the end. Sheen's character is a bit more interesting to watch. Taking a stand and questioning authority for the first time in his life, he comes to realize that he has power and prestige based on his random acts of violence. Much like a wolf coming of age in a land full of sheep.

Having grown up in the Midwest, I was struck by how this film captured the tone and feel of the vast American heartland in the 1950s. It is seen here in almost surrealistic terms, with towns-capes and landscapes that are mostly devoid of people, as if the world were empty except for the main characters and odd people that they happen to come across.

Near the end of the film, Kit knows he is doomed as the society he has run amok in starts to constrict around him. Instead of making an earnest effort to escape, he becomes wrapped up in his own notoriety and is transformed into one of the first media stars. In his final scenes he is seen charming his captors and giving away trivial personal possessions, knowing they will be worth something simply because 'he' owned them.

The scenes of violence in this film are almost happenstance and their deaths seem random and without meaning. No reason is given for them and until the end, the killer goes unpunished. This film is a prelude to the pulp fiction dramas of the late 90s where violence is a central theme of the story (think Pulp Fiction or SinCity). The viewer can't help but be captivated by this film and its' dream-like journey through a time and place that seems asleep or in some sort of malaise. In essence, a film that documents the end of innocence in the societal sense and is a prelude to the turbulent times that were to follow.

This film is a part of my LaserDisc Collection which is located on the LaserDisc Database.

Clicking on the "Essential Cinema" title will take you to the Internet Movie Database (IMDB) entry for this film. The listing of all the LaserDiscs that I have reviewed on IMDB can be found here.

Clicking here will take you to a listing of all the "Essential Cinema" reviews in my Blog.

Friday, April 3, 2009

First Friday Flashback

Because you can never have too much of a good thing....
Originally Published, August 15, 2005


Don't Forget To Breathe

Half awake, I take a quick warm shower. It's the rule. Then, knowing the quicker I get this started the better I will feel, I fall into the water. It's coolness rushes over me and jolts me awake. My skin tingles, my toes curl. I take a big gulp of air and submerge my head, rubbing all the oil from my face and sleep from my eyes...rubbing my cheeks and arms to wake up.

There is a ritual to all this. First I put the lap fins on my feet; small flippers to work out my legs. Next the ear plugs, because I know how annoying it can be to get water in my ears during the turns. Then the web gloves on my hands to give my arms more traction. Finally, I put the goggles over my eyes. Within a minute, I am transformed into the middle-aged dolphin of the suburbs.

The ritual continues. I have been doing it so long that I have tweaked all the steps and know them without thinking. Stretching my arms and my legs, I take deep breaths. One breath, then another, and then another, blowing the spent air out of my lungs quickly. One final gulp and I drop under the surface, spring from the edge of the pool with my legs and kick my fins in unison to drive the length of the pool underwater. The ritual dictates that I cannot surface. I must traverse the entire length of the pool kicking like a fish, using only my legs.

As the oxygen slowly runs out, the far side of the pool comes into view and I surface. I have passed the first test. It is an easy one.

Looking back at the lane, it is empty, as is the whole pool. Forcing myself out of bed at 4am in the morning to be the first one here has given me this advantage. I am the master of the lap pool. Outside, the sun has yet to invade the day. The echo of the pool and the ripples in the water are the only sound. Here, there is solitude, before the day invades my world. Here, there is just me and the rhythms of my body and the coolness of the water.

I push off and start a lazy breast stroke. Doing this for so many years, I have learned to inch my heart rate up slowly. In the beginning, I had to keep reminding myself to slow down, to not swim too fast. Running out of breath in the middle of the pool is never a good thing. At the end of each stroke I tilt my head to gasp some air before turning my face downward to stare at the blue strip of tile that defines my lane. The rule is that I can't stop. Once the journey has begun, I have to complete the laps. The total is usually 10, sometimes more depending on how long I have to swim. As the end of the lane comes into view, I take one last deep gulp of air into my lungs and somersault in the water, kick off from the side of the pool and twist in the water so that I surface in the opposite direction and continue swimming. That's lap #1.

Swimming like this forces solitude upon me. There are no distractions. The ear plugs muffle and distort all sound, although the only sound at this time of the day is the water splashing past me. With nothing but the rate of my breathing and the blue line below me, my mind starts to wander. Deprived of all distractions, my mind becomes and ocean that is vast and deep. The flotsam and jetsam of my life floats through my thoughts.

What tasks are on my schedule once I get to the office? Is my left front tire leaking air? I need to remember to pay those utility bills before the end of the week.

End of the blue line, flip, push off, twist... surface. Where was I? Owe yea those bills, not to mention the car insurance coming due soon, Yeah, that was lap #2.

I still have to force myself to slow down and allow my lungs to catch with my brains desire to become the human torpedo. Patience. That is one of the reasons I am here. Forcing myself to slow down. See the different light, seek the different solution. It isn't all traffic, bills and job interviews and ... end of line, flip, push, twist, surface.

I have to start thinking of my next vacation. I know that the practical side of my brains is telling me this is a good workout and that I need to lose that weight. The realistic side of my brain knows that this is all about stress reduction. Too much stress in the modern industrial age. I need to get away more. Go hiking, maybe in the Superstitions, or down in Mexico. But that will take planning; swimming is much easier and is on my way to work. Besides I know this is better for me than drinking down Vodka to try and get relaxed or munching on Cheetos while I watch Starsky and Hutch on ....wall, flip, push, twist, surface.

Yea, food. What am I going to eat when I get to work? After these laps I deserve some sort of reward. What lap was that? Shit. Always forgetting. I think that was 4, no 3. Great, now I am going to wonder if I swam too many laps or not enough. Damn it.

Breakfast Burrito, yeah, that would be so good, with eggs and sausage in it, and the good coffee from Circle K. I am gliding through the water now, my heart rate in synch with my breathing. My pace quickens slightly since I have warmed up. With each turn, my mind wanders to a long since forgotten corner of the ocean. Old relationships and why they went wrong, the things I want to buy, but really don't need. My societal trained urges to want things that have no real purpose. My struggle to become more creative. Each thought eventually interrupted by a turn and a push off the wall.

Eventually, I notice other swimmers in the lane next to mine, gliding past me in the opposite direction. They are visible only for a moment. What are they thinking? Have they lost count? What are they escaping from?

Finally, I 'think' the last lap is upon me. Here, there are no reserves. I open it up and thrash through the water like a crazed shark. No doubt, terrifying anyone that might stray into my lane. My lungs straining, I reach the far wall and stop. Gasping for air, my feet touch the bottom of the pool for the first time in 15 minutes and I remove my goggles. I am spent, tired, relaxed. Only two things left to do.

While still breathing hard, I lie on my back and do a lazy paddle with my feet to the opposite end of the pool where this all started. As I let my breathing slow down, I stare at the ceiling as it passes over me. I have to count the number of beams or risk the chance of slamming my head into the far end of the pool. This is the cool down lap. The lap where I get to gloat about my conquest of the morning.

As I reach the end of the pool, I climb from the water, put my apparatus away and head for the steam room. The ultimate goal. Solitary, warm, relaxing, a place to hide with my thoughts before the invasion of the day.

Wrapping my towel around my head, I swing open the glass door to the hissing sound or escaping steam. It is tiled, with tiers to sit on and a glass wall that looks out onto the pool. The wet heat envelopes me, immediately nullifying the coolness of the water on my skin that is left over from the pool. The hiss of the steam coming from a pipe in the corner is almost deafening. Yet, it serves a purpose. Like so much white noise, it cancels out any sound from the outside world. Like the air escaping a punctured tire, the pressure and the stress are released with it. I sit in the far corner of the room, towel over my head to prevent the super heated air from burning my nostrils and my lips as I slowly breathe in and out.

Between the sound of the steam, the hard tile floors, the glass windows and the echoing of the voices in the pool beyond, all the sounds that reach my ears here are garbled. Undistinguishable. There are people in the pool now, there is talk and splashing. But the sounds they make are distorted by the echoes off the water and the hard walls, so that they sound distant, transformed, and unearthly. I stretch me legs in the heat, I crack my neck. For all the things that I am told to want and desire in life, I always end up realizing that this is one of the most important and most attainable.

The door to the steam room opens and someone else walks in. Between the steam and the towel over my head I cannot see who, nor do I care. The outside world has started to come in. The real struggle begins. Time to start a brand new day. I just have to remember to pace myself and breathe

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

They're Here!

Run For Your Lives....

There is a lot of talk these days about the immigration debate. These folks are stealing jobs and robbing us of our entitlements and are a threat to national security, blah, blah, blah.....

But no one seems to be concerned about the real threat. I am talking about the invasion that is underway that threatens our very way of life. We are so distracted by the economy and the media and the illegals from across the border that we are not noticing the evil menace that has landed on our planet from a distant galaxy. They walk among us right now! Wake up people, can't you see them? The extra-terrestrials from the planet Oblivious! The OBLIVIONS!

They look just like you and me. They might be occupying the cubicle right next to you, or maybe they just moved into the house down the block, or they are sitting next to you on the subway. You must have seen them. They are slowly turning us all into mindless zombies just like in the movie "Invasion of the Body Snatchers".

For those of you that have not been paying attention, here are a few pointers to help you spot these inter-galactic interlopers.

The Oblivions have no concept of the affect they have on others. Those folks going 40mph in the high-speed HOV lane....OBLIVIONS! That person paying for one item in the express checkout lane....with a personal check...OBLIVIONS! Those two people having an in-depth conversation at the base of the down escalator.....OBLIVIONS!...BOTH OF THEM!....they are in collusion! The brainiacs that schedule a meeting at 4:30pm on the Friday before a long holiday weekend.....OBLIVIONS in Management....they must be stopped!!!

No 'normal' person would do these things. Any self conscious human would say to themselves....I would be a JERK if I did something like that. But Noooo, not the Oblivions...they live to disrupt and destroy. That is their evil plan. They will make us so frustrated from being around them, that we will all leave. Then they will have the whole town, city, nation, planet to themselves.

They are the intergalactic relatives that invite themselves to dinner and then NEVER LEAVE! We must unite before our towns become Oblivi-ville and we all become the Oblivi-nation.

Stand Up And Fight! Fight I say! Beat back the legion of incompetence that is slowly burying our civilization. Disseminate competence...expect and demand higher standards. Fire CEOs that don't have the foresight to foster long term sustainable growth. Lynch those that only strive for short term gain to benefit the shareholders. Practice yelling, "Hey, Jackass!, Go back to the planet Oblivious where you BELONG!".

If we don't we are all doomed.

(Damn, my new office-mate just came into my cube asking me how to fix the pencil sharpener.....OBLIVIONS!!!.....OUT, OUT I SAY!!!!)