Totally Awesome 80’s August Weekend Update #2

Day 6 – finished “The Gunslinger.” I’ve read this book a few times already, in fact this is the sixth time I’ve read it. I read it in the summer of 2003 (fifteen years ago) for the first time, when I first started keeping track of everything I’ve read, and I’ve read more then 4000 pieces since then. I’m a big fan of Stephen King, obviously, and almost as obviously a big fan of the Dark Tower series. I’ve read the series in it’s entierty twice, it would have been more times had it not been for “The Song of Susanna” which is not very good, or once if you count “The Wind Through the Keyhole” which is good, but it’s newer. If you don’t already know, “The Gunslinger” is a Weird Western, a gun totting cowboy descendant of King Arthur and the last of his kind is traveling across a post-apocalyptic wasteland in search of the Dark Tower, though we don’t know why exactly he is searching for it, and also what it is. The novel can also be read as an interconnected story collection, five stories, not very long, are labeled as chapters, but there are chapters within these chapters, and with each sub-chapter the story goes back in time a few clicks until it is reset. The first chapter/story is very western, each chapter gets a little less western and a little more weird. They made it into a movie as well, but I have not seen it, in fact I refuse to see it and talk about it here. I may read the series again, it’s been a while. The book is more difficult to follow then your typical King novel, however, it’s nothing compared to the next book in the playlist which I started today “Here the Wind Sing.” I’ll probably finish it tomorrow and talk more about that in Day 7.

Day 7 – finished reading “Hear the Wind Sing” the first time I read this book/story I had a lot of early mornings that involved driving, and I was quite tired at the time, and I attribute that to why I didn’t understand or remember it quite as well. The story/book/(let’s call it a novel, since that’s what it’s author calls it) is not as difficult as I remember. There isn’t a whole lot of plot, and it’s certainly a post-modern work, and quite good. The story is basically about an unnamed narrator who spends the last two and a half weeks of his summer break from school drinking with a friend of his called “the Rat” they have interesting conversations, he gets involved with a woman with nine fingers, and that’s about it. He references a pulp writer from the 50’s, named Derek Hartfield, he wrote 50,000 words to 100,000 words a month (I’ve done that before but not regularly, if I wrote full time I probably could), and killed himself by jumping off the empire state building holding a portrait of Hitler in one hand and an umbrella in the other (the image of which to me is very funny for some reason, but I can’t exactly say why, it probably shouldn’t be, but come on, that is quite the image) I looked up Hartfield while listening to this book, because I am a fan of the old pulps, but as it turns out he is a fictional character in the book. Apparently sometimes fiction can be stranger then the truth, at least in Murakami’s world. “Hear the Wind Sing” is Murakami’s first novel, and the first part of “The Trilogy of the Rat” believe it or not today, Murakami is considered the most popular writer in the world. Including this I’ve read four of his novels, one of his story collections, and his children’s book, and I will be reading his latest story collection come September (since it’s not an 80’s book). I believe that is every audiobook of his available at the library. Personally I’ve been gunning for him or Pynchon to get the Nobel Prize for a few years now.

After finishing that novel. I listened to David Foster Wallace’s “Little Expressionless Animals” one of my favorite stories of his. It’s about a contestant on Jeopardy, which is my favorite game show (I watch it just about every night), Alex Trebek is a character in the story, as it Pat Sayjak. The story uses a lot of Wallace’s signature tricks within it and it is a very good way to experience the world of DFW before diving headfirst into his magnum opus “Infinite Jest.”

I finished mowing the lawn in the ungodly hot and muggy weather we’ve been having here on the east coast, and I was considering listening to more of “Pinball, 1979” while doing so, but instead I opted to listen to my 80’s drivin’ playlist. I said earlier that I should cover it a little more, so here’s the first song. “Lord of the Dance” by Jump Squad. I don’t know much about this band, other then that this song was released in 1981. “Lord of the Dance” is my favorite christian hymn, by far, not that there are a whole lot of contenders, it actually uses the same tune as a Quaker hymn called “Simple Gifts” which is just as good if you ask me, if not better since it’s less churchy, “Lord of the Dance” isn’t all that churchy either to be honest, the story and concepts conveyed are more vague then anything else. Also, let’s face it, Irish music is great (it’s not the greatest, that goes forever to the Finns), especially Irish Punk, which this song very much is, I hope you follow the link and enjoy the song as much as I have.

Day 8 – I built a big playlist for august, made up entirely of 80’s songs. The playlist is 10 hours long. Below is the full list, I’m not going to detail each song, it would take me too long. Some of these may not actually be 80’s but if they aren’t it’s an honest mistake:

  • Hear in my Car by Gary Newman

  • Where’s the Party by Madonna

  • I Ware My Sunglasses at Night by Corey Hart

  • Always Something There to Remind Me by Naked Eyes

  • Come On Eileen by Dexy’s Midnight Runners

  • Der Kommisar by After the Fire

  • Heart of Glass by Blondie

  • I Think We’re Alone Now by Tiffany

  • Cowboy by Boys Don’t Cry

  • Melt with You by Modern English

  • In the 21st Century by Men Without Hats

  • Just to Be the Next to Be With You by Mr. Big

  • Mony Mony by Billy Idol

  • You Drop the Bomb on Me by Gap Band

  • She Drives Me Crazy by Fine Young Cannibals

  • Don’t Let Let Him Get You Down by Fine Young Cannibals

  • Suspicious Minds by Fine Young Cannibals

  • Tarzan Boy by Baltimora

  • Somebody’s Watching Me by Rockwell

  • Jump (for Your Love) by the Pointer Sisters

  • Rhythm of the Night by DeBarge

  • Up All Night by the Boomtown Rats

  • Tell Him by Hello

  • Calling You by the Raccoons

  • In a Big Country by Big Country

  • On Our Own by Bobby Brown

  • Higher and Higher by Howard Huntsby

  • Fly to the Angles by Slaughter

  • Kickstart My Heart by Motley Crew

  • Jump by Van Halen

  • Turn Up the Radio by Autograph

  • Funky Town by Pseudo Echo

  • Shook Me All Night Long by AC/DC

  • God Blessed Video by Alcatraz

  • Lord of the Dance by Jump Squad

  • The War Song by Culture Club

  • Power of Love by Hewy Lewis and the News

  • Saint Elmo’s Fire (Man in Motion) by John Parr

  • Cult of Personality by Living Colour

  • Run Runaway by Slade

  • Swept Away by Yanni

  • She Sells Sanctuary by the Cult

  • Everyday is Holloween by Ministry

  • Haunted When the Minutes Drag by Love and Rockets

  • No Words by Clan of Xymox

  • Giving Ground by The Sisterhood

  • Hong Kong Garden by Siouxie and the Banshees

  • When the Punks Go Marching In by the Abrasive Wheels

  • Head Over Heals by Accept

  • Forever Young by Alphaville

  • Midnight Garden by And Also the Trees

  • Voor De Dood by Aroma Di Amore

  • Walk Like an Egyption by The Bangles

  • The Entertainer by Billy Joel

  • It’s Still Rock and Roll to Me by Billy Joel

  • Don’t Ask Me Why by Billy Joel

  • My Prerogative by Bobby Brown

  • One Foot in Front of the Other by Bone Symphony

  • Total Eclipse of the Heart by Bonnie Tyler

  • Born in the USA by Bruce Springsteen

  • Dancing in the Dark by Bruce Springsteen

  • Video Killed the Radio Star by the Buggles

I’ve been watching my 1988 Christmas Tape in peacemeal for a few days and watched a chunk of that. I’m not going to explain too much what’s on that tape (in fact I won’t be explaining anything about it at all) because it will be the subject of a forthcoming lengthy blogpost. Now I know I say that I have posts coming, but that one, already has significant work done on it, so I can in fact virtually guarantee you will see it in December.

Continuing with insight on my playlist, here’s a small description of the next song. “The War Song” by Culture Club. Most people when they hear the name Culture Club will think of “Karma Chameleon” or perhaps “Do You Want to Hurt Me” less so with this song. I never heard it before. I saw a video about vinyl rules, which said when ever you go to get records pick up something randomly from the dollar bin. That’s what I did for this one, there were three songs on the single all of them remixes of “The War Song” and it was quite good. The actual version of the song on my playlist is the “Ultimate Remix” that is 6 minutes plus and has the chorus in at least English and Spanish, and was recorded off the vinyl. It’s very catchy. I’ve woken up many mornings with it stuck in my head. However I’d have to admit that the song gets old fairly quick, and I tend to skip it when it comes up, my apologize Boy George.

Day 9 – I got home late from my writers group and I had about a half hour to watch something. I didn’t have time open my random movie selector so I used a tried and true method, a pair of dice. The dice told me to put in the 9th DVD on my first shelf, this turned out to be National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation, so that’s what I did. I’ve seen this movie hundreds of times, but I still enjoy it every time.

The next song on my playlist is “Power of Love” by Hewy Lewis and the News. Do I really need to say anything else? Probably not, but I do have a few things to say. This song is also recorded off my vinyl picture disk of the “Back to the Future Soundtrack” (one of my favorite vinyls in my collection, one of the few I’ve gotten new, and one of most expansive). The song is also the base of a very funny Family Guy nonesequitur. Ironic how these things work out sometimes, but I actually heard this song today at Wawa.

Day 10 – I left for a little father/son trip today (which is why this weekend update is a day late). There was nothing of 80’s significance today, so here’s the next song. “Saint Elmo’s Fire (Man in Motion) by John Parr. Back in May my wife and I were in a bird store when this song came on the radio. I had never heard it before, but I really liked the sound, vary 80’s power pop. I had to pull out my phone and shazam it, (its a vary powerful app, if you’ve never used it, and one I highly recommend). I got the name of the song and had it on my regular driving playlist since. Then later that month I went out to dinner with a friend of mine and it came on the radio again in his car I can’t exactly say why this song seems to be on the radio right now (or a few months ago), the movie that it is the theme song of (more on that in the last weekend update) was made in 1985, and 33 is not a vary significant anniversary. Regardless I’m glad I heard it, and to a degree part of the reason why I chose to do this Totally Awesome 80’s August.

Day 11 – still on vacation. My dad and I did a 30 miles bike ride today, and some of that time I had not my 80’s driving playlist going but instead my “Big August Playlist.”

When I got to the hotel tonight, I was too tired to do any writing, so instead I put a movie on my laptop. Instead of continuing with my Christmas Tape, I instead turned on “Heathers” another significant reason behind the to Totally Awesome 80’s August. I thought this movie was outstanding after the first time I watched it. After watching it for a second time, with some time to decompress… I thought it was even better. Dark? Oh yeah it’s dark, and calling this a black comedy is not really accurate. There is a term that is used in the movie “Bizarro” and that is actually a fairly good descriptor for it. It is an extreme movie and a grotesque one as well. Not grotesque in a visceral sort of way (a make you sick to your stomach/can’t look), but grotesque in it’s traditional sense, extreme and warped with extenuated pieces. It’s an atry film, and a teen film, and a romantic horror film, it’s really a sui genres (a genre unto itself), there are other movies of this type, which is to say of no type but themselves, on my list of films watched, the one which comes first to mind is “Amalie” (which itself is unfortunately about 10 years to young to make it into this project). The others are: “The Rocky Horror Picture Show” and “Donnie Darko.” the basic premise of this movie is: Wynona Rider is part of the most popular clique in school “the Heathers” all of whom are named Heather (accept for Ryder who’s name is Veronica), the main Heather (Kim Walker) sets out to destroy Veronica but before she can, Veronica with the help of her boyfriend J.D. (Christian Slater) kill her. This leads them on a love fueled killing spree, etc. this is not a typical movie in any way, it might start out as such, bullies, popular girls, and so on, but it dosn’t follow any traditional arch, even the opening credit sequence is grotesque and surreal. The movie has a 96% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, staggeringly high. We are going to do it for the film club in two days, at my suggestion, and it should make for a very interesting movie. I could write for hours detailing brilliance built on every small minute detail, but I’ll save that for another time.

The next song on my playlist is: “Cult of Personality” by Living Colour. I don’t want to sound raciest, but… don’t you just love sentences that start out like that, and you know the next part of that sentence is going to be something that is incredibly blatantly racist. I don’t think the next part of this sentence is racist personally, but just encase be forewarned… I am surprised that the band that wrote and performed this song is black. There are very few black people in the metal word, yes there are some of course, but not a lot, and also a lot of black people tend not to enjoy metal very much, which is completely their right to do so, I don’t hold it against them. But regardless it’s hard to believe that this song came from black musicians, it is very heavy and very metal, and very good. It’s almost as surprising that this song came from the 80’s, it was well ahead of it’s time. Even metal of the time, which was primarily dominated by Hair and Glam varieties, was not typically this fast or technical. This song had a bit of a resurgence in the mid aughts, when it was included in the video games “Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas” and “Guitar Hero” absolutely worth checking out, great song, heavy, fast, technical, with quite profound lyrics, and a very 80’s music video. A five star song all day any day. And a lot of review for today, sorry.

Day 12 – well the good news here is that there’s not much new to report, I finished watching “Heathers” and that was about all, as far as 80’s stuff goes. As for the last song that is currently on my 80’s drivin’ playlist, “Run Runaway” by Slade. I never heard this song before until I was waiting in line to get a prescription filled a few weeks ago. I loved it immediately, and I recognized it from something else, a distant memory. I listened to the song a bunch more times before I realized what it was. The song is based on an old West African folk song called “Fanga Alafia” don’t ask me why I know this song, but here listen to it and now listen to the Slade song and tell me they don’t sound similar, you know they do. Strangely enough, no one online seems to have made this connection before, perhaps I am the first.

Day 13 – I woke up this morning on the last day of my father/son trip in Punxatawny. I would have liked to watch groundhog day today, but unfortunately it’s not an 80’s movie, early 90’s. When I got home I finished watching Christmas Vacation, and I noticed something this time around that I hadn’t noticed before. When Clark is in the attic he pulls out an old film reel labeled “Christmas ’59” which as die hard Christmas Vacation fans should know is the title of the short story (by John Hughes) that the movie is based on. If you haven’t read it before, you can find it here, it took me years to find this story, and unfortunately it is not nearly as good as the movie, so be forewarned.

Once that was over I used my random selector for the next movie which turned out to be “The Looney Looney Looney Bugs Bunny Movie” as far as I know Warner Brothers made 3 feature length anthology movies that threw a bunch of classic cartoon shorts together with a thin frame story. This is the second one (the first was 1979). this movie features the following classic looney tunes shorts: Knighty Knight Bugs, Hare Trimmed, Roman Legion-Hare, Devil’s Feud Cake, Sahara Hare, Wild and Woolly Hare, the Unmentionables, Golden Yeggs, Catty Cornered, Three Little Bops, Birds Anonymous, High Diving Hare, and Show Biz Bugs. While the movie was playing I played a half hour of Top Gun on the NES, I died 4 times landed the plane 3 times, and got a high score of 34k, I never beat the second level.

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Totally Awesome All 80’s August – Weekend Update 1

Day 1 – the experiment started out badly, but that was not in relation to the experiment, so I will not be going into it. I did listen to a sliver of the song “Ride” by Tyr, which was on my playlist first thing in the morning, but then I switched to my 80’s driving list which started with “Lord of the Dance” by Jump Squad [link]. In the afternoon I put down “Breath of the Wild” (my favorite Wii U game), and started playing “NES Remix” (my second favorite Wii U game) now of course that’s not an 80’s game, but rather it is a collection of mini games from the NES era, most of which (but not all) are from the 80’s. I erased my save data on the game (the second time I’ve done so) and started collecting stars from the beginning.

Day 2 – I had to slightly break the rules to show a friend of mine a piece of “Constant Fear” by Bohren & Der Club of Gore, because I had to show him what Dark Jazz is. Nothing much else to report.

Day 3 – Okay, our first weekend night to really indulge in the 80’s, though I didn’t indulge a whole lot, because I wanted to work on some writing. I was able to dig into my 80’s audio book playlist while working during the day. I read/listened to: “The Birth of My Kitchen Table Fiction” by Haruki Murikami, “Crouch End” and “The End of the Whole Mess” by Stephen King, “Fictional Futures and the Conspicuously Young” and “Girl with Curious Hair” by David Foster Wallace, and a little bit of “The Gunslinger.”

Here’s a quick review of each story. “The Birth of My Kitchen Table Fiction” is technically a 2000’s essay and the introduction of the book “Wind/Pinball” it’s both a good introduction and a good stand alone autobiographical essay on writing, I’ll be reading the rest of the book this month so I figured I should listen to this essay regardless. “Crouch End” is a Cathulu horror based in a suburb of 1980’s London, told through a woman who walks into a police station reporting her missing husband, unusually the story (only an hour and change long) has an epilogue. “The End of the Whole Mess” read by 80’s icon Farris Buler himself, this is a story about a child genius who develops a protean that makes people peaceful, but with apocalyptic consequences, really good story in itself, takes place around now, but it’s set in the future, the future in this story is a little worse then things are right now, but not too far off. “Fictitious Futures and the Conspicuously Young” is an easy by David Foster Wallace bemoaning the (then) state of modern literature, specifically that of the minimalist literary brat pack movement of the mid to late 80’s (Ellis, Janowitz, MacInerney, Et. al), not a flattering essay, but an interesting cretique of the movement. “Girl with Curious Hair” I may be wrong, but I have a feeling that this story is Wallace’s attempt at mocking the very minimalist movement that he critiqued in the afor mentioned essay, interesting story, one of the better ones from the collection that shares the same name.

During the night, my first night of the Totally Awesome 80’s August, while I did some writing, I had Ducktales playing in the background. Ducktales has one of the best theme songs of all time (and here’s the obligatory metal cover) If you’ve been following the Mega DVD Marathon series on this blog, you will know that I watched Ducktales not all that long ago. This wasn’t a problem though, I like the show as it is (most people my age do), I wanted something on in the background that I was familiar with so that I wouldn’t get too distracted by it (nor unfairly not give my attention to something that hadn’t seen before), and most importantly, a random number genorator said to put it on, and since it fit with the other criteria, there was no need to do a second drawing of RNG.

Day 4 – I’ve been interested in seeing “Saint Elmo’s Fire” for a few months after coming across the John Parr theme song, but i’ve been holding off on watching it until this month. I had to get a copy from the library, because I don’t have it… yet, that will change if I come across it at a reasonable price, the movie is worth rewatching, I give it an easy 4 out of 5 stars. I thought it would be a teen drama, but it actually revolves around post college malaise. One downside is that the movie is much more timeless then I expected, yes it takes place in the 80’s and the apartment decor is very 80’s, but the movie could have been made at any time post maybe 60’s and would have been just as applicable. This would have been a good thing if it wasn’t for the nature of the experiment. I washed the movie down (using RNG) with Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles – Season 1. And because sometimes you have to do these sorts of things, I played TMNT on the NES, I made it to level 2 (the damn dam level). That game looks great in my Retron 2.

Day 5 – another rough day, it was very hot and humid and I was crazy enough to spend it mowing the lawn, it was grueling. I listened to my still rather short 80’s driving playlist three times before I put on and continued reading/listening to “The Gunslinger.” I also decided that if I am able to get through everything in the 80’s audiobook playlist, before month’s end, then I will start listing to “Blood Meridian or the Evening Redness in the West” by Cormack McCarthy. Since you asked, right now the “80’s Driving” playlist consists of the following, feel free to enjoy the links:

Looking at the list of songs, I probably should do a quick review of each because they are all quite interesting. But I’ll save that for another day I think.

Totally Awesome All 80’s August

So I’ve started a new project which I am calling “Totally Awesome All 80’s August.” throughout this month I will be listening to, watching, reading and playing exclusively content from the 80’s. I’m sure at some point I will slip up and experience something non-80’s related, but I will try to limit the amount of those things. For the most part I will be combing my collection for 80’s material, and I have all that material listed bellow. If any of you are interested leave me a comment on things from the list (or otherwise) that I should experience sooner rather then later this month. i will be updating this expariment weekly. Here is the list:

DVD

  • Back to the future

  • Back to the Future II

  • Batman (1989)

  • Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure

  • Blade Runner

  • The Breakfast Club

  • Cheers Seasons 1-6

  • Chip N’ Dale Rescue Rangers Vol 1

  • Christmas Vacation

  • Clue

  • Conan the Barbarian

  • Conan the Conqueror

  • David the Gnome – complete series

  • Ducktales Vol 1

  • Fast Times at Ridgemont High

  • Ghostbusters

  • Ghostbusters 2

  • The Real Ghostbusters season 1

  • Gummiebears

  • Heathcliff – compleat series

  • Heathers

  • Labyrinth

  • Stripes

  • The Littles – compleat series

  • The Looney Looney Looney Bugs Bunny Movie

  • 1001 Rabbit Tales

  • Mario Bros. Supershow

  • Monty Python’s Meaning of Life

  • The great Muppet Caper

  • The Muppets take Manhattan

  • Naked gun

  • Naked gun 2.5

  • Porky’s

  • Porky’s 2 the Next Day

  • Road Warrior

  • Robocop

  • Saturday Morning Cartoons of the 1980’s

  • See no evil hear no evil

  • Sixteen Candles

  • Sleepaway Camp

  • Sleepaway Camp 2: Unhappy Campers

  • Spinal Tap

  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles season 1

  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Season 2

  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles season 3

  • The Toxic Avenger

  • Vacation

  • The Witches of Eastwick

  • Who Framed Roger Rabbit

Video Games

  • Anticipation

  • Back to the Future

  • Baseball

  • A Boy and His Blob

  • Dragon Warrior

  • Faxanadue

  • Fester’s Quest

  • Golf

  • Gyromite

  • Hogan’s Ally

  • Lee Travino’s Fighting Golf

  • Lunar Pool

  • Marble Madness

  • Milon’s secret castle

  • Othello

  • Super Mario Bros

  • Duck Hunt

  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

  • Tetris

  • Tue Three Stooges

  • To The Earth

  • Top Gun

  • Track and Field II

  • Trojan

  • Wheel of Fortune

  • Wizards and Warriors

  • World Games

  • Zelda II – the Adventure of Link

Vinyl

  • Back to the Future Soundtrack

  • Benefactor by Romeo Void

  • Deathcrush by Mayham

  • Face Value by Phil Collins

  • The Flat Earth by Thomas Dolby

  • A Flock Of Seagulls (self titled)

  • Genesis (self titled)

  • Hello I Must Be Going by Phil Collins

  • High Infidelity by REO Speedwagon

  • Human’s Lib by Howard Jonas

  • Hunting High and Low by A-Ha

  • The Immaculate Collection by Madonna

  • Invisible Touch by Genesis

  • Jody watley (self titled)

  • Moving Pictures by Rush

  • No Jacket Required by Phil Collins

  • Out of the Cellar by Ratt

  • Reach for the Sky by Ratt

  • Rhythm of Youth by Men Without Hats

  • Secrets by OMD

  • Sign in Please by Autograph

  • Sowing the Seeds of Love by Tears for Fears

  • Sports by Huey Lewis and the News

  • Tainted love/where did our love go by Soft Cell

  • Tiger Tiger by Duran Duran

  • Transfer Affection by A Flock of Seagulls

  • Walk Like an Egyptian by the Bangles

  • The War Song by Culture Club

  • We Are the World by USA for Africa

  • What Up Dog? By Was (not Was)

Audiobooks & Stories

  • Crouch End by Stephen King

  • The End of the Whole Mess by Stephen King

  • Fictional Futures and the Conspicuously Young by David Foster Wallace

  • Girl with Curious Hair by David Foster Wallace

  • The Gunslinger by Stephen King

  • Little Expressionless Animals by David Foster Wallace

  • The Restaurant at the End of the Universe by Douglas Adams

  • Westward the Course of Empire Takes Its Way by David Foster Wallace

  • Wind/Pinball by Haruki Murikami

And here’s a picture of the 80’s haul for your enjoyment.

80's collection

Mega DVD Marathon – Episode 6 “The E’s”

Intro – now we have a short letter, the shortest since episode 1 (the #’s which only had 2) but in reality this is much shorter. The first episode consisted of almost 20 hours of material, where this one (consisting of only 3 movies) is only about 6 hours. As of this posting I am still making my way through the F’s but that is currently on hiatus because starting tomorrow I will be doing my Totally Awesome All 80’s August. More on that tomorrow.

The End of the Tour – my favorite author of all time is David Foster Wallace, this is a movie about him. An Indy borderline mumblecore film about the end of his “Infinite Jest” book tour while he’s followed around and interviewed by David Lipsky who’s working for Rolling Stones magazine. Lipsky is played by Jessie Eisenberg, I don’t know how closely he portrays his counterpart but I’ve seen him in a few movies and he has never disappointed. Wallace is played by Jason Seagal, and my God he captures Wallace 1000%, both in look and voice. If your a fan of Wallace, this is a must see. Otherwise I don’t know what you may think of it. Every January I read a lengthy selection of Wallace material, I’ve been doing this for 4 years, this year I’ve added this movie into the mix as well. I’ve seen it three times now and it gets better with every viewing, for me anyway.

Enter the Dragon – another kung-fu movie, and yes it does have Jackie Chan in it but in a very limited role (he gets hit with one punch I think, his screen time is under a minute, but yes I did notice him on my own without being told he was in the movie and looking for him) the main star of this film is Bruce Lee. The movie is very 70’s and not particularly funny (save a few parts) but it is quite good. A Chinese drug lord is hosting a kung-fu tournament and Lee (that’s his character name too btw) is sent in by a spy agency. The fight scenes are more minimalist, with few weapons being used, and less choreography compared to a typical Chan flick, which goes to making the film seem more real. Worth watching if you like the genre.

National Lampoons European Vacation – easily the worst of the three original vacation movies. It’s a bit of a mess, a thin plot to string together jokes with an international twist. It suffers from a problem that plagues a lot of sequels which is that is caricatures the original film and doesn’t continue the story set up in the first movie. It’s kind of surprising that a third movie in the series was even made, but I think we are all glad it was. There were a few good scenes in the movie, don’t get me wrong, it isn’t terrible, just not as good as it could have or should have been. My favorite scene in the movie by far is this. I didn’t actually get the joke at first because in context when I heard the German word for six I automatically thought of the number. I did take German in high school but never got very fluent, I’m not good with languages, accept for English, and that took me quite a while on its own.

The Tunnel

Think you’ve read a weird book? You aint seen nothing yet. When I found out that William H. Gass had passed away last year, I took it upon myself to become familiar with his fiction, I picked up his last book “Eyes” and read 3 of the stories out of that, I may finish it later on if I can find a copy, and to be honist I wasn’t too impressed with his writing style (more on that later), but I saw that one of his books “The Tunnel” was available as an audio book, at not a bad price on amazon, so I picked it up, expecting a short 5 hour book. I’m not sure why I thought it was so short. Inevitably I was wrong, the audio book came on 3 MP3-CD’s and stood at 45 hours long. The Tunnel is the magnum opus of the esteemed and highly regarded postmodern and metafictionalist. His second (of only three) novels, and close to 700 pages which took him close to 20 years to write.

The strangeness of this book exists on three levels: the concept, the writing style, and the text.

The concept – how someone would come up with this idea I don’t have a clue. The book jacket explains it all. Bill Kohler has just finished his personal magnum opus, a non-fiction work called “Guilt and Innocence in Hitler’s Germany” and all he needs to do is write the introduction, however as he tries to write this introduction what he ends up writing is a long, bizarre, highly self-deprecating autobiography. Meanwhile he tries to hide the ever accumulating pages of this text and starts digging a tunnel out of his basement office.

The writing style of Gass is unusual. poetic sentences, profound sentences, playful sentences, and sentences that seem to be written from a pre-teen using all the bad words he has on hand, all of which are often used within the same paragraph. As a writer I frequently try to avoid internal rhymes in my sentences or alliteration. Gass on the other hand seems to go out of his way to use them as often as possible. I can’t honestly say that I “like” his particular written voice, however I found that I was quickly able to at least get used to it.

Finally, the text itself is worth looking at, whether or not you plan to read the book. I listened to the audio book, read by the author, but that takes something away from the book. There are about a dozen different fonts used throughout the book, some words are in different colors. One of the limericks uses word art, i.e. using the letters of the words to make a shape, one page is a photocopy of a crumbled dirt covered page, there are illustrations, diagrams, bold words, etc. etc. if you listen to the book, do yourself a favor and pick up a paper copy just to skim through so you get the full effect.

So, yeah, strange book, but once you get passed all that, there are some interesting things within.

How fictional or autobiographical this book is is questionable: the main character has the same first name as the author, the main character is a college professor like the author (although Gass was a philosophy professor, where as Kolher’s subject is history), the main character’s father is an abusive racist and his mother is a meek alcoholic (as how the author described his actual parents). Now I don’t know a whole lot about Gass myself, and I don’t know if a whole lot of autobiographical information exists on him, but it certainly makes you wonder just how fictional this book is.

Besides the concept and autobiographical fodder which helps construct this book, there are probably a hundred or so limericks within each one starting with the line: “I once went to bed with a nun.” A friend and college of the main character, Culp (my favorite character in the book) had been writing 2 limerick cycles throughout the story, the first was a cycle on the history of the world written in limericks (he got up to the point of Hannibal crossing the alps, before he gave up), and the other was an endless cycle of limericks all starting with the line mentioned above, my favorite of these being: “I once went to bed with a nun / who served every nation but one / I don’t mean to Russia / but your pole feels like Prussia / to Chile to Finnish the Pun.” It’s unclear, most of the time (for me anyways) who exactly is writing these limericks, are they Culp’s or Kohler’s? There are other limericks that start with different lines, there are some that follow slightly different patters (the typical limerick is AABBA (like the one listed above), others are AABBCCDDA, and so on.). Culp explains the first line of all his limericks as: “a limerick is supposed to be blasphemous, and dirty, like the toilet seat in a public park. The line I chose takes care of all that with the first line, and then I have four more lines to do whatever I want” (that’s not an exact quote, but close enough).

Once you understand how to read this kind of book, you’ll find that the story (told out of order) is about the Kohler, his unappy childhood, unhappy marrage, and current unhappy existence. This is not a feel good book, but the limericks help lighten the mood a bit. That and the character of Culp, and I do mean character, he makes the tome worth getting through.

How would I rate it? Do you have to ask? 5 stars all day, I finished the book in March, not long after starting it in February, and even though it was so long, It never felt like it was dragging (once you get used to the voice). I don’t expect any other book this year to be better then it… but there’s time left for that to change.

Half Way Point

It’s July 1st again, which means it is time for the half way point update as to what’s been going on this year. So let’s get right to this.

Books – I’ve read 13 books so far this year, 9 new ones and 4 repeats. About the same mark as this point last year, however 3 of the books have been quite large, two of them were over 40 hours long each, and the third is difficulty to measure because it’s was technically an app (the Ultimate NES Guide). But if I had to guess I would say it was close to 240,000 words (roughtly 24 hours if an audiobook). Also, including that app, I’ve actually read 3 of those books (as apposed to listening to them. I’ve also read a lot of stories this year, both new and old. The best book i’ve read so far (and I doubt it will be surpassed this year) was “The Tunnel” by William H. Gass, who passed away at the end of last year. I will have a post forthcoming on that.

Writing – I started out the year with a series of different goals, and the goals keep changing, but regardless I’ve done a lot of work, 263 hours in fact, well more then an hour a day. I would like to clear 500 hours this year, and I am easily on track to do so. As far as product goes, I’ve written 7 new stories, that are slated to soon be published, or at least submitted. As far as publishing goes, so far I’ve had 3 published, and 2 more acceptances that won’t be published for a little while yet. I know I’m not going to hit the same numbers I did last year unless something highly unexpected happens, last year was highly unexpected as it is. I did want to post a blog each week this year, but sadly that has not happened, largely do to my own laziness, I apologize. So far this year I’ve posted 8, I’ll do some more this year, I promises.

Movies – so far this year I’ve watched 31 movies, well on track of my one movie a week goal. Of those movies, 16 are ones I haven’t seen before. The best of the new to me movies would probably be Bladerunner, but I didn’t like it very much until the second time I watched it. More on that later I think as well.

Video Games Played – the vast majority of video game played this year has been Breath of the Wild. It’s a little early to tell, but this might be my favorite game of all time. I’ve beaten it already, but I plan to beat all the shrines as well and get the official green outfit. I currently have 6 shrines left. No other game has had any significant time put into it yet this year, and I don’t know if any other game will.

Video Games Collected – unfortunately this category is small. Dedicated readers of this blog will undoubtedly remember that my favorite game store closed two years ago. Since then I’ve had to use a different store, which is where I got just about all my retro games last year. Sadly that store has closed too, in May. There is another not too too far away, but I haven’t gotten there yet. So far this year I’ve picked up 8 games, all of them retro/cartridge based, 2 for the Genesis, 1 for the SNES and 5 for the NES. The best of these so far is A Boy and His Blob (the last one I got at Jay Street) and I’ve put a little bit of time into it so far.

Wake up songs – yes I’ve been continuing to keep track of the songs stuck in my head when I wake up. There was even one today, “I Want My Shit” by ICP, not sure where that came from. So far there have been 83 wake up songs this year.

The Hours – I’ll keep this simple. Reading: 253 hours. Writing: 263 hours. Music: 0 hours (though I will start composing again rather soon). Video Editing: 21 hours. Movies: 42 hours. Video Games: 218 hours (over 100 of which were spent on Breath of the Wild). So that’s what I’ve been up to, how about you?

Hitching a Ride on Flying Colors

Happy first day of summer. I have my newest piece of fiction here for your enjoyment. If your interested in numbers, this is the third piece published this year, my sixth piece published in the Ginger Collect (I’ve been in every issue since it’s inception), and the 46th piece published over all. This story is one of the 14 for 14 that I have mentioned before, now only 4 of those pieces remain unpublished… however, I’ve received an acceptance for one of those, more to come on that later this year, hopefully.

The first segment of this story is more or less non-fictional about a hospitalization I had in 2013, that particular story however ends (obviously) differently then the published one. I hope you enjoy, but be forewarned, it is a bit heavier, dark and beautiful (if I do say so myself.)

Hitching a Ride on Flying Colors” | The Ginger Collect | Issue Six 

Mega DVD Marathon Episode 4 – The C’s

Cartoon Crazy: Fairytales – a very very old DVD in my collection, I purchased it during the winter after receiving my (our family’s) first DVD player, for 5$ (which was very cheep at that time considering DVDs were still a fairly new technology. The others purchased right around this time were: my first Marx Brothers box set, Scooby-Doo’s Original Mysteries, and the next DVD listed here. This is not one of my favorites however. It’s a bargain basement DVD, chalk full of PD cartoons, some are fairly good but not all. This DVD didn’t work great on my original DVD player, it would freeze and repeat a few of the toons at the end, but for some reason it seemed to work fine on my PS2 (go figure), however you can’t fast forward the DVD. There is another reason why this one isn’t that good, but will get into that in the next DVD.

Cartoon Crazy: Sci-fi – this is the much better of the two Cartoon Crazy DVDs, several of the good toons from the fairytale edition are on this one as well, plus it also contains some very good toons that everyone should be familiar with like: All’s Fair at the Fair, Cupid Gets His Man (which has an animated W.C. Fields), a couple original superman cartoons, The Cobweb Hotel, the Sunshine Makers (also on the Fairy tale DVD), Presto Changeo (featuring a prototype Bugs Bunny), and more. The only downside to this DVD is it has “There’s Good Boos Tonight” the very first Casper short, which I never watch.

Case closed: the secret life of Jimmy Kudo – the first of only a hand full of what are my wife’s DVD’s. She has a lot more of course but they don’t interest me all that much, Vietnamese Operas and Kung-fu movie that are only in Vietnamese, so I wouldn’t be able to follow them. There are actually 4 case closed DVDs on the shelf, one or two of them I got for her at some point and the others she got for herself, it was one of her favorite manga’s growing up, I don’t know if she watched the show back then or not, I’ll have to ask. Personally I really got into this show myself just before I started college, but unfortunately it was on too late at night (at a time before my night owl habits really kicked in). It was on Adult swim, and the show following it back then was Lupin III which was even better, but I’ve never seen that on DVD. anyway Case Closed follows Jimmy Kudo, a hot shot soccer playing 17 year old detective, who on one case is caught by someone he’s pursuing and given a poison, however, instead of dying he actually turns into an 8 year old boy and helps his girlfriends dad solve mysteries. This is all covered in the first two episodes, while the rest just focus on individual cases. I particularly like the last episode because it’s focuses on Jimmy (or Conan as he calls himself in the young body) and his other elementary school Friends solving a mystery, it reminds me a lot of Shin-Chan (the strange adult swim Americanized version) though the humor is not so crude and topical. I’m not a fan of mystery in general but this show blends youthfulness, an irreverent Japaneses humor, and heavy complex characters into a nice neo-noir anime. I would strongly suggest checking out the show. I won’t go into detail on the other 3 DVD’s in the series, because its just more of the same.

Chappelle’s Show the lost season – Interesting story about how I got this one, but I won’t be going into it. This is the infamous 3 episode season that occurred after Dave Chappelle was renewed for two more seasons and then had a personality crisis and has hardly been heard from since. It is really funny, I love the new 2pac song, the petty revenge sketch, the Howard Dean Sketch, and of course the infamous Pixie Sketch. The last deserves some comment. I don’t find it as overtly controversial as others do, it’s about broad stereotypes, and I can easily imagine what it’s like to be the people in those scenarios where they self consciously attempt to not act their race. There are two white pixie sketches, but both of them are a little bland, I don’t find them as funny as the others but neither do I find them offensive (not that I identify that much with the whites anyway). Maybe if he portrayed white trash to act thusly, it would have worked a little better.

Cheers season 1 – Well I have a little problem with this show… I like it too much. I can’t really leave it on in the background and write, I tried, it was useless, video games were less of a problem, especially if I’m not very into the game, so it looks like that’s what I’ll be doing while watching. Furthermore I’ll also be drinking while watching, though that wouldn’t typically conflict with the normal procedure. I’m thinking I have to recalculate my top 10 TV shows to include cheers. Sure it’s not as good as Seinfeld, there are some more serious moments, it’s less about nothing, and not every situation applies to my personal life, but all of this doesn’t deter too much, it should easily fit in the top ten somewhere. I used to watch this show when I was a kid, and I remember I used to take baths and would line my bath toys up on the edge of the tub like glasses and “play” cheers, while singing the them song. Granted a lot of the jokes I didn’t get back then, even now with the pseudo-intellectual character of Diane there are still a few I don’t get, but I get a lot more these days and it’s surprising some of the references they make: Schopenhauer, Updike, even the seafood restaurant above the bar is called Melville’s. It’s a show that your sports fan jock meathead can enjoy as much as the intellectual, no wonder it ran for 11 seasons. Anyway the first season is quite good. One of the three coach seasons, Norm and Cliff are there (cliff I identified with the most since we are both avid collectors of random facts), and so are Carla and Sam. But Woody and Fraiser are missing and will be for some time. I got season one back when I was 17 and watched it several times back then, less so later on. There is one particularly good episode called “One for the Books” about a WWI vet who plans on meeting all the other men of his platoon at cheers only to find out that he is the last of them, funny sad and heart warming all at once. That’s probably the best episode of the season, but they’re all good.

Cheers season 2 – unlike the first season, this one takes a different sort of arch throwing in occasional melodrama. In the previous season there were only a few somewhat heavy moments in the show, which worked to set up a good punchline. This season has some harder episodes to watch, such as “No Help Wanted” where Sam hires Norm to do his taxes, but then stays with his old accountant because Norm gets him a refund that seems too good to be true, it looks like Norm and Sam are going to duke it out in the end of the episode but instead Norm cries hysterically, I wouldn’t call that funny. Another episode “Cliff’s Rocky Moment” has Cliff involved with a guy who really dosen’t like him, but his “friends” at the bar don’t stand up for him. The season ends on a fairly serious note too when Diane says she is leaving and never coming back, but that episode does have Christopher Lloyd playing a very eccentric artist, and proving my point that Doc Brown was the most normal and down to earth character that Lloyd ever played.

Cheers season 9 – more a return to normality at least w/r/t the previous season mentioned, the few serious notes play off of Rebecca who is not really an emphatic character, so they can be laughable. Coach is long gone at this point as is Diane, though both are referenced. While watching this season I had to take a quick break to watch my 1988 Xmas DVD for Xmas in July, and also during this time i got Cheers seasons 1-6 on a big DVD box set, I won’t be watching seasons 3-6 until I get to the leftovers, no back tracking in this project. I gave seasons 1 and 2 to a friend of mine who I know will appreciate them, and hopefully will enjoy them as much as I have over the years. Now I’m only missing seasons 7 8 and 10. If I’m not mistaking season 7 has 2 of my favorite episodes.

Cheers season 11 – I wasn’t alive during the first two seasons of cheers, but season 11, the final season I definitely remember watching as a kid. For some reason though I had it in my mind that the first episode of the season was the last. The first episode “Little Match Girl” is kind of heavy, with the bar burning down and Sam harshly firing Rebecca, it would have made a good finale itself. There are other great episodes in this season several of which I remember in their first airings. Norm gets a job at a brewery tasting beer. Lilith and Frasier have sever marital problems which leads into the spin off of Frasier itself, but there is a continuity error. In “Don’t Forsake Me Oh My Postman” a man is hired to write a jingle for the bar, and that man is played by John Mahoney (RIP) who also plays Martin Crane, Frasier’s father in the spin off. In probably my favorite episode (other then the jeopardy one which is not currently in my collection) called “Woody Gets an Election” Peri Gilpin who played Roz on Fraiser shows up as a news reporter (she’s also in a Seinfeld episode as Jerry’s masseuse girlfriend who hates George), This episode btw is one of the few I remember from its original showing, I clearly remember the scene where woody is struggling with the oath of office for president. Another classic “The King of Beers” (mentioned supra) is one I remember as well. There is one glaring continuity error though (regardless of recycled actors) and that is the episode “The Last Picture Show” in which Gus O’Mally visits cheers, Gus is mentioned in the first season as a previous owner of the bar, but several owners back, in this episode it is stated that Sam baught the bar directly from Gus. Furthermore it is mentioned in the original episode “Coach Returns to Action” from the first season that Gus was dead. Of course after 11 seasons some mistakes will be made. As for the 3 part final episode, what can I say, it’s quite good, almost every story line is wrapped up, and there is even a very brief homage to coach when Sam touched his (Coaches) portrait of sitting bull. Not the heaviest, saddest or even best of all the episodes but it did well, I’ve seen much worse series finales, and there was a lot to end after 11 seasons and they did a very admirable job. I particularly liked the ending sequence when the door is locked and an unknown person knocks on the door to which Sam reply’s fittingly “Sorry, we’re closed” a nearly perfect way to end the show. Side note, while watching this season I picked up a copy of Fraiser seasons 1-6, which will be coming up in only a few letters, but I got a lot of great stuff to get through before that, and probably a few not so great, we’ll see. The best advantage to finishing cheers is that most of the remaining DVD’s won’t eat up so much of my time and I’ll actually be able to write with some of them on (of course I’ve still been fairly productive with writing during this chapter of DVDs, perhaps that’s why it took me so long to get through the 4 seasons)

Chip n’ Dales Rescue Rangers Vol. 1 – the first of the Disney cartoon DVDs, there will be more to come, the first Disney movie is still a ways away. I picked this one up at a comic store when I was in college and remembered it more fondly the perhaps it deserved. It’s not a bad show of course, but compared to a number of other Disney animated TV shows it’s easily the weakest. There was one episode that features Humphrey Bear, who is an obscure character created in response to Hanna-Barbara’s Yogi Bear but ultimately only had two shorts to his name (both of which are fantastic), he’s appeared here and there as a side character and I was glad to see him in Rescue Rangers. The best episode on the DVD is easily “The Cola Cult” it has a very catchy song and a healthy message about cults for kids to take in, the message being that cults are full of shit. If not already evident enough, I am not a fan of cults, so seeing them mocked here does my heart good. I can’t help drawing similarities between this episode and the cult leaders scene in the Nine Lives of Fritz the Cat (two very different cartoons of course).

A Christmas Story – I picked up this DVD because we were going to watch it for the film club. I watched it once, hated it, and skipped it here.

Christmas Vacation – strange watching this movie in mid September, but what can you do. I’ve watched this movie more times then I can count, and I still watch it every year during Christmas season, and sometimes in the summer for Christmas in July. I have all three of the vacation movies on DVD, but this one is by far the best. I could go on, but it’s pretty well remembered, so I don’t have to.

City Hunter – easily my favorite Jacky Chan movie (though not all agree). This one is a little more obscure then some of his others and hard to find with English subtitles (and unfortunately I don’t have an English dubbed one either). The basic premise is that a cruse ship gets hijacked and a stowaway privet eye Ryu Sabbot (Chan) is their only hope. There are several great fighting sequences the best of which is when Chan is thrown into a Street Fighter arcade machine and hallucinates himself fighting as the various characters (I should have been playing street fighter while watching, oh well live and learn). The other great sequence is the dance number on the boat. I don’t have any proof but I believe that this song was used as the base for the Teen Titan them song (unfortunately there are no YouTube links to compare).

Classic Mystery Collection (13 films) – And now we get to our first bargain bin multi-movie DVD pack, and the rules change a little bit. I like to savor the movies in these collections, and I have to give them full attention because I’ve never seen them before (for the most part), so here’s what I’ll be doing for the rest of this project. I watch the next one the list that I haven’t seen, and then move on to the next DVD. Then when I get to the left overs episode, I’ll watch the next. Then when I’m done this whole project I’ll start watching them and one day 10 years from now or so watch all of the movies in these collections. The first movie to come up on this collection that I haven’t watched is “Dick Tracy: Detective” a 1945 film noir. Its a good one, it follows Tracy on the trail of a maniac murderer called “Splitface.” I should have been playing dick Tracy in the NES while watching this movie, but that game is pretty horrendous. I have 2 dick Tracy action figures as well, one of them is missing a leg and was the first action figure I ever bought with my own money (the story behind that has been turned into a hardboiled semi-fiction that I will be looking for a publisher for soon), and the other more recent acquisition is “Steve the Tramp” still in the package. Should have had the two action figures watch the movie with me. I should think these things out a little more too, or at least lie and say I did play Dick Tracy and hade the action figures watch it with me.

A Clockwork Orange & 2001 – This is a Kurbick double feature, featuring not only 2 of Kubricks best movies but 2 of the best movies ever made ever. I picked it up for 3 reasons: A – it was only 10$, B – I’d wanted to see 2001 for some time, C – I loaned my old copy of A Clockwork orange to a friend of mine years ago and never got it back.

A Clockwork Orange – at one point (early college) this was my favorite movie, and I’ve watched it many many times, and I’ve read the book too which is almost as good as the movie. It’s only been superseded by a few other films so it’s still high on my list. It features a bizarre postmodern science fiction dystopia with a unique vernacular, and told through simply incredible cinematography. The opening scene in the Korva Milk Bar with its naked erotic mannequins, the next shot with the four droogs walking down the tunnel with their shadows, etc, etc. it’s going to be a hard movie for some people to get through, it’s very violent, very unusual, and apparently the colors disturbing people as well, so keep that in mind if you plan to check it out. If you think you can handle it though, it is 100% a film you should “viddy well little droogie, it’s real horror show.”

2001 – Kubrick is in my mind without a doubt, the greatest directed of all time, and he is tied in my mind with Zemeckis as my personal favorite director. However he is not a narrative director. Most people see film as a vehicle for narrative, which it can be, but it is an art form to itself. 2001: A Space Odyssey is just that, a motion picture at its highest form. Saying it’s difficult to understand is putting it mildly, so just strap in and enjoy the ride. I actually knew all the songs played in it, sure everyone knows the Blue Danube and Also Sprack Zarathustra (if you don’t know it by it’s name check out the link), but I knew the more unusual stuff and already had it on my iPod, like Atmospheres by Sergio Ligeti. This is definitely not a movie for everyone, and I’m utterly surprised at how well received it ultimately was and still is. It also has one of the strangest and best endings to a movie I’ve ever seen. Open the video feed of this one please Hal.

Clue – with this movie we movie into a new shelf, also interesting to note, this is one of my most recent pick ups, I saw it at the grocery store for a few bucks. I had seen part of it before, but never all the way through. I used to love the board game as a kid, and if I find it for the Genesis I’ll be sure to pick it up. As for the movie: Christopher Lloyd and Tim Curry, how could you go wrong? Turns out you can’t, not with this movie anyways. I remembered it being funnier the first time i saw part of it, but it was still pretty good, funny and high energy. A good comedy to watch on a dark and stormy night, come to think of it, I may throw it into my October Marathon Cycle, just because.

Conan the Complete Saga – this was a gift given to me last Christmas by my good friend over at Oblivion’s Realm, among several other DVDs which will all be gotten to eventually. The DVD, a single disk with two sides has a Conan movie on each. My friend qualified it as “a true metal movie” and he is right, I’d even say it’s a power metal movie in that it embodies the spirit of that genre. It would take to long to explain exactly what that means here, I may do another post on that later, so just take my word for it for now. As you may know (or may not, I didn’t before seeing the movie) Conan was a character from a number of pulp adventure short stories written by Robert E. Howard in the 1930’s. Several of these stories were adapted into the two films that make up the complete saga. I’ve read several of them at this point, all of them good, my highest recommendation is “The Tower of the Elephant” (which you can listen to, in a nice dramatization, here).

Conan the Barbarian – this movie is quite violent and I think that will put a lot of people off, but it really is a good movie. Very well done, stellar performances by superstars Arnold Shwartzenagger and James Earl Jones as pro and antagonist respectively. There is a spectacular scene where Conan is crucified to the “tree of woe” that is simply outstandingly filmed, something like that may seem gratuitous, but it’s really not. I’d also like to point out Theology/Civilization them and cross reference it to the power metal band Aquaria and their song “Firewings“, check the two links out for yourself and tell me what you hear. This movie is a little on the rough side, but if you don’t mind the violence, it’s well worth watching. This is the second time I’ve watched it this year, and I will probably watch it may more times to come.

Conan the Destroyer – Also damn good movie. After seeing the first one twice, I’ll give it a full 5 stars, this one is 4 stars, not quite as good, the plot is slightly less creative, the character of Subotai is replaced with Malak who’s considerably more annoying, and the warrior woman Valeria is replaced with Zula who is considerably more savage in nature. What it’s lacking though is made up (somewhat) by the use of magic and special effects. The plot focuses on Conan aiding a princess in a sort of spirit journey, the end of which will require her to be sacrificed (though she doesn’t know this) ironically Wilt Chamberlain is charged with protecting her and her virginity. The other downside to this movie is it doesn’t concluded the Conan tale, which is promised in the next installment, unfortunately that film was never made. Hollywood did make a new Conan, but of course they restarted the story instead of continuing it (as they are won’t to do… assholes, do you know how many times they restarted Spider-Man in my life time?) you could watch this movie without having seen the first and follow it easily (though they are loosely connected) however missing the first movie would be a great injustice.

Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon – it’s been years since I watched this one, and I’ve forgotten how powerful it is. The best Kung Foo movie ever, and one of the best movies regardless of genre. Funny, romantic, sad, deep, and highly highly entertaining. There is only one flaw, and that’s more with the DVD, but some of the dialogue is extremely quiet, I had to crank up the volume to 50 to listen to parts of it (normally the tv is set at 20 to give you an idea) but the fight sequences are loud, so your constantly fiddling with the volume. During this viewing I kind of had it on in the background, I think I’ll have to watch it again with my full attention soon. Interesting personal sidebar, this is also the first foreign language film I ever saw in theaters, and if I’m not mistaken, still the only one.

Cruel Intentions – to be honest I got this movie because of its sexuality, as a teenager this was hot stuff, it’s since been overshadowed, so now we have to account for the value of the movie itself. But that value is high, very high, 5 stars. It’s deep complex funny and yes still sexual, filled with complex themes and a level of backstabbing and plotting eclipsed only by Game of Thrones, stunning performances by the cast, and one of the best uses of music (w/r/t the final scene) seen in cinema. Though to be honest (again) Bittersweet Symphony is one of my favorite songs and you could splice it with almost anything and make it great (that might be a meme worth making). There’s a lot of good bonus features on the DVD too which I’ve watched in the past, but not this time around. The audio commentary is pretty funny. Guys, be sure to check out this movie, it’s not a chick flick and the time put in will be paid off exponentially. I find it strange that this isn’t a more widely touted film 20 years later.

Curb Your Enthusiasm Season 1 – it’s been quite a while since I’ve seen Curb, and after this watching, too long. Unlike the first Season of Seinfeld (comments coming much much later) every episode is great with lol moments even after having watched the show dozens of times before. I should point out that curb DVDs have the most unusual cases. You pull down on one end and both DVDs slide out, hard to describe so here’s a video. After watching the disks several times the boxes deteriorate and don’t work quite as well, so be forewarned. My favorite episode in this season for me is… oh they’re all so good, but probably the pants tent, yes the first one, but I really sets up exactly what the show will be.

Curb season 2 – with the exception of Season 1 all the seasons of Curb have a season-wide story arch. This particular story arch is about Larry trying to pitch a new TV show, first with Jason Alexander then with Julia Lois-Dreyfus. The second season is not as good as the first. The arguments are too abundant and too unrealistic and the show begins to wear on the viewer. David is smart in the way he does seasons separately, and doesn’t overstay his welcome. Now given that I should point out that it’s still funny, still a good show, and plenty of funny lines throughout, just not as good as the first season, then again not much is better than that first season anyway. The best episode here is probably “Shaq” where Larry accidentally trips Shaquille O’Neal at a Lakers game, and suddenly the world doesn’t want anything to do with him (which he is more than happy about). The episode also has the brilliant line, when Larry asks a doctor to give a quick look at something on his back the doctor replies: “next time you’re in a hurry why don’t you write me a bunch of shit for free.” Then ultimately karma kicks the doctor in the ass, which is atypical for the show, usually David is on the karmic receiving end.

Curb season 5 – I’ve only watched this DVD once in the past, you can tell because the case still works perfectly. The first time I watched it I didn’t enjoy it all that much, it must have had more to do with the time I watched it (I was very depressed that winter) which makes sense because this time it was a riot, much better than the second season, very funny, and it has Funkhouser, who is absent in the first two seasons. This is one I should go back to. Of the ten it’s hard to pick a favorite, but I’d probably go with “the Ski Lift” or maybe “The Bowtie” because of Funkhouser the season wide arc is about Larry finding out that he might be adopted and that Richard Lewis needs a Kidney. The last episode has a nice montage of various clips from past curb episodes (not all of which I have seen). It could have been a good end to the series, but as we all know it was not. However it is the end to my exposure of Curb Your Enthusiasm, and, finally, the end of the C’s.

Virtual Jehovah

Dear friends and readers,

I woke up this morning with an unexpected acceptance/publication, and I am passing the piece onto you.

This story is in a publication I have not been featured in before called “The Library of Rejected Beauty” which publishes stories that have been rejected by other places. This particular story has been rejected 4 times before and I had almost given up on it. Glad I didn’t, perhaps you will be glad to after you read it… or maybe not.

This is a particularly anti-religious story, ironically published the day before Easter, and thus has a more limited reading demographic. But for those limited readers, I hope you enjoy.

“Virtual Jehovah” | Library of Rejected Beauty | 3/31/2018

Brittle Lung Syndrome

I have for your enjoyment on this first day of spring (not that you’d know it if you live around here with the Nor’easter and all) my first story published this year. Now perhaps some of you might remember earlier this year I had sent out a post with a new publication (Schiesskopf 88)… but, that story was actually published at the tail end of last year and I didn’t notice until a few weeks later. So this story is officially the first of 2018… and what a story it is.

This one is a little heavier, I’ll warn you of that, but it plays to one of the best punch line endings I’ve done yet. I came up with the unusual premise of this story way back in I think 1995, and then wrote it in 2011, and it’s been rejected 8 times since then. also by odd coincidence this story is 4,444 words long and it is my 44th story published. Naturally, I am very glad to see it in its digital print medium after all these years.

I hope you all enjoy:

“Brittle Lung Syndrome or a Healthy Interest in Tobacco” | The Ginger Collect| Issue Five