Sunday, December 20, 2009

Stupid Thing of the Week

At work the other night, one of the coworkers wanted a copy of BENCHWARMERS (of all movies), but another coworker grabbed it off the shelf. She shouted, "He stole it from me!"

I said, "What, what did they steal from you, Gollum?"

To which she said, "Gollum? You're creepy."

Well, I guess you had to have been there, but I thought her comment was pretty funny. Until she complains to the manager and I get terminated for it, I choose to look back and laugh.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Underneath "Under the Dome"

So, for the last little while, I've been reading Stephen King's newest book "Under the Dome." From almost the first page, I was shocked by how good it was, by how fast it moved, and by how captivating and direct it was (as opposed to the meandering narratives he's fabricated these last few years). Now, while I'm only halfway through it in writing this, I'm tempted to proclaim the new book not just good, but great.

And what strikes me most about the book is how much it feels like OLD Stephen King, the kind of book he wrote in the Seventies and early Eighties (like, the pre-"IT" days). The storytelling is just so solid and compelling, it serves as a reminder as to why he was the biggest novelist in the world for a number of years there.

While this delights me--and it does, believe me, after so many books like "Lisey's Story" and "From A Buick 8"--it also confuses me. How can his writing degenerate so badly, and then come back again? Back to the top of his game?

I wrote this a while back, but was hesitant to post it, because of my recent experience with a book where I raved about how great it was, only to find myself disliking the seismic shift in tone it took later on.

Apparently, this was a book King started in the Seventies, only to abandon, pick up again a few years later, and abandon a second time. I figured that we'd hit a point where it would change style, and become the meandering, aimless yarn I've come to expect with the modern King.

But it didn't.* I was more satisfied with "Under the Dome" than I have been with a King book in a long, long time. And more amazingly, even though it's over a thousand pages long, I despaired when I neared the end, and could have handled a couple hundred more pages.

Thanks, Uncle Steve.

Rish "Flagg" Outfield

*True, there is a point where the feel of the book changes rather dramatically, and while I can see people complaining about that, it felt pretty built-to and organic to me.


My cousin sent me this cartoon today. It's only funny to me.

Friday, November 20, 2009

FixFlix 21

I totally forgot about this one.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Stupid Thing of the Month

So, I was briefly babysitting yesterday, my one year old nephew running around and destroying things as usual.

We were putting away Halloween stuff, when he grabbed the green hairspray I bought thinking I'd color my hair to be the Joker (I ended up just wearing a wig), and kept trying to open it with his teeth.

To deter him, I sprayed it on his hair to show him what it was for. Instead of getting upset, he laughed and said, "More!" so I said, "Okaaaaaay" and proceeded to paint his whole head green.*My sister seemed to think it was funny (her husband probably felt differently, since he washed it out immediately upon seeing it), and because it was a dumb thing to do, I probably won't ever do that again.

Oh, who am I kidding? I'll probably do much worse.Rish "World's Worst Babysitter" Outfield

*Okay, this isn't entirely true. I did ask his mother if it would be okay before I did it. But that makes the story less good.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Closing "-house"

Well, the day everyone expected a long time ago finally arrived: FOX has canceled "Dollhouse." I don't imagine any of its fans will be surprised.

If they were like me, they tried to hold the show at arm's length, because it was highly likely it wouldn't last long. While I personally know no one who loves the show, this sort of thing is always sad for those who do.

And while I've complained quite a bit about FOX and "Dollhouse" (though more about the former than the latter), I have to tip my hat to the network for bringing back such a poorly-rated show, and I'll also throw a nod Joss's way for the excellent last episode they aired.

And you know, FOX is still going to air all the remaining episodes, which is more than can be said for a lot of series. Plus, Joss HAD to know that there was a high chance he'd not get to shoot beyond the thirteenth episode, so surely he tied up the loose ends to give us a satisfying (or at least somewhat-satisfying) last episode. And I'll keep watching through till then.

I hope it's not too long before Joss graces us with another series. Or a movie. Or a comic book. Or a comic movie series. Or a sequel to "Dr. Horrible," 'cause I'm certainly not going to start watching "Glee."

Sunday, November 08, 2009

new acquisition

In 2004, a coworker friend of mine named Mat got himself a convertible. According to him, his wang grew three sizes that year.

Well, due to some kind of inexplicable madness, I picked myself up a convertible yesterday.

It did not come with a tape measure, unfortunately.

Thursday, November 05, 2009

"V" For Nostalgia

So, "V" is back, sort of.ABC and Warner Bros. have brought us a 2009 updating of the seminal NBC mini-series (followed by another mini-series, followed by a series) "V," which, if you recall, stood for either "Visitors" or "Victory," depending on whose side you were on.

I've been anticipating this greatly ever since I heard Morena Baccarin was cast in it. At Comic-Con this year, there were tons of promos for it, and they even had a couple of screenings of the pilot. ABC has advertised it up the wazoo, so it was no surprise to me that millions of people watched it on Tuesday.

I think I've mentioned my love for "V" before, but maybe that was only to my imaginary girlfriends. When I was a lad, and the original mini-series aired, my DAD of all people was the one who told me about it, who encouraged me to watch it, since it had aliens, spaceships, and monsters, three things I loved (the first two due to E.T. and STAR WARS, the last one due to my having been infused with the DNA of the Wolf Man, who died the same day I was born).

Anyway, I encouraged people to watch it so we could talk about it, hoping it would be as riveting as the 1983/84 version was, or at least as much as "Fringe" is in 2009.

I watched it with Jeff, but you know, it wasn't nearly as magical as the old one was. As a boy, I adored the lizard-creature aspect and the scariness, but as an adult, I most responded to the Nazi parallels and the well-drawn characters. I guess there's a bit of the former in the 2009 pilot, but absolutely none of the latter.

I'm not sure how thrilled I am by their brilliant idea of turning the Visitors into Cylons, but one or two of their new twists worked alright. I could see where they were going with some of the characters, but some of the choices didn't work for me, and some of the changes seemed like they had been made just for "modernization" reasons. And don't get me started on the irritating mother-son relationship at the heart of the show. Being a Mama's Boy, that should have resonated with me, but it did quite the opposite.

I wonder if I have a biased opinion because of how much I loved the "V" miniseries as a kid, or if everybody had issues with it. Obviously a ton of people watched it, and I'll continue to do so to see where it goes . . . but you should have been there on the school playground twenty-six years ago, to hear the kids talk about what we had seen the night before, and where it might go the next night. I kind of doubt that was going on in elementary schools this time around.I've become somewhat friendly with Kenneth Johnson, the creator of the original "V" mini-series (who had three credits at the beginning of the 2009 one), so I emailed him to see what he's been hearing.

He thanked me for caring, and said many people had written him with sentiment similar to mine. He's still trying to get a big-screen remake of his script made, though I can't imagine how that can happen now (though there is still talk of a Bryan Singer "Battlestar Galactica" movie, so you never know).

As I said, I'm willing to give it a chance, and as long as the show doesn't bore me or piss me off, I'll watch at least the three more episodes they're airing this year (oh, and that's another thing not to like, that these guys thought they could get away with only programming a show that airs during Sweeps Months). I had planned on blogging it, since I stopped blogging "Dollhouse" and didn't have another replacement handy, but now I think I won't. If they really grab me later in the season, like "Heroes" did when it was new, I may regret that.

But mostly I just regret getting old. And leaving L.A..

I wonder if those two are related.

Rish Outfield

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Death on pale wings

As I drove to Jeff's new house up in the hills tonight, I kept seeing floating white objects in my headlights. At first I thought they were moths, but there were far too many of them, so I decided they must be falling leaves.

However, when I got to his house (he'd left all the outdoor lights on for absolutely no reason at all), I found that there were not dozens, not hundreds, but literally THOUSANDS of little grey moths attacking the lightbulbs and covering the sides of his house like they were stucco. I'd never seen anything like it.

Jeff wouldn't let me in. As I often like to relate (and I mentioned on my podcast recently), Jeff has an inexplicable, nearly violent fear of moths. Well, this would be like a ophidiaphobe being dropped into the Well of Souls.He explained that, because it already snowed a couple of weeks ago where he lives, then suddenly, there was Native American summer the last several days, that the--what? Should I comment on that? It was a joke, alright?--that the insects thought that spring had come and came out in droves. Now, he's much smarter than I am, so I'm willing to accept that explanation, but wow, it was totally cool.

I went out with his daughter and we'd blow on the wall and the moths would swarm like bees all around us. I even had one fly up my nose. Unfortunately, when we went back in the house, several had clung to our clothes and hair (I had them in my sleeves and under my hat), sadly subjecting Jeff's new house to an infestation of fluttering moths.

They may never get the urine stains out.

Sunday, November 01, 2009

Three Things

After trick or treating in their home town, my sister brought her one year old over to play and show off his horse costume. The man across the street decorates his yard unbelievably, and the boy wanted to go see the "monstahs." I love that he's not even two yet and he already speaks with a proper British accent.

So, I took the boy across the street and then, amid the hundreds of flocking children, figured I'd take him trick or treating around the block. It was pretty awesome, carrying him to the porches and then letting him receive the candy on his own.* Often, they'd let him pick a candy from a bowl, but he would grab a handful, or take a piece then go back for seconds. With only one exception, everyone let him have the extra candy.

Weirdly enough, though, the child kept wanting to abandon this free sugar shit and go back to see the "monstahs." And I obliged him.

I don't imagine I'll ever have any kids of my own, but if I did, I highly doubt any of them would be as much like me as this boy is.

So, when I finally brought the child back in the house, his hands and face now dangerously cold, my sister informed me that she was going to see PARANORMAL ACTIVITY, and I was coming along. I told her I wasn't interested, that it wasn't my thing, and that I crap my pants enough without going to movies that will cause me to do it.

So I loaded into my brother-in-law's truck and we went to the theatre. For some reason, we had the showtimes confused, and arrived a half an hour early. That turned out to be good, though, because since it was Halloween, the movie totally sold out and there weren't enough seats for everyone that arrived after us.**

The theatre was completely full, and the stranger who sat next to me proceeded to cuss out the girl in the row behind us when, after a scare, she kicked our seats. No one, however, cussed him out when his cellphone began ringing later in the movie.

As anybody who knows me is very aware, I am a giant coward. So it will come as no surprise that I was scared by the movie. It's told in that pseudodocumentary style that Jeff so hates, and was really realistic as far as that went (with the camera being intrusive, inconvenient, and action actually happening offscreen because the characters forgot to take the camera with them), and I felt myself getting swept up in the narrative, which consists of a lot of waiting for something to happen, then reaction when something does, and then more waiting.

Even so, this was probably the tensest moviegoing experience in memory. Every time the darn characters went to sleep, my jaw would clench and my body would tense up like a Bjork song was playing somewhere. I am so scared of ghosts and strange nocturnal noises that the "What was that?!" techniques used here really got under my skin. I never quite forgot that it was a movie (partly because of how consistently made up the female protagonist was), but I enjoyed and admired it as it went along.

Oddly, just after mentioning DRAG ME TO HELL in my last Top Five post, I couldn't help but compare this movie with that one. I think, ultimately, DMTH was scarier to me, because of the constant loud noises and things jumping out, but PA was a slow, unpleasant knot in the stomach that went on for ninety minutes***. At one point, I think I cried a little due to the tension, which surprised me. And at the end of the movie, I tasted vomit.

That doesn't usually happen, since I don't see Paul Greengrass movies anymore.

During the drive home, my sister chilled my very blood by relating a story of an experience she had when she was pregnant with my nephew which parallels PARANORMAL ACTIVITY in a disturbing way. She had gotten an ultrasound of her unborn child, and that night had something between night terrors and a vision, awakening to "see" a presence in the room. Her husband's attempts to calm her were dampened by the fact that he claimed (then and now) to also see something in the darkened bedroom.

I couldn't believe I had never heard this story before, and my brother-in-law corroborated it with a "What're you gonna do?" sort of attitude.

As I've said in the past, my imagination is so overactive, and my sanity is so tenuous, that if anything even remotely similar were to happen to me, I'd be typing this with my arms strapped to my chest.

The next day, we got together with my mom for Sunday Dinner, with my Uncle John and his wife and kid along, and we talked about the movie. Then I urged my sister to tell the story again of what happened to her. She told it, but it didn't have NEARLY the same impact as it had the night before--especially with my uncle knocking holes in it with his irreverence throughout--and I sort of wished I hadn't told her to tell it again. I guess there's a life lesson in there somewhere, that some stories are better left private, or that my uncle can be a tool when he's not center of attention, or maybe that things are simply scarier in the middle of the night than they are in the light of day.


Rish "All Hallow's Steve" Outfield

*Now, of course, you with children are now shaking your heads because you've all been through this many times with your real offspring, and you have to stifle your eye-rolls to get through this since I can't possibly know of the real joy of true parenthood. To you I say: "Die."

**Okay, there probably was enough seats, but not enough so that people could sit together.

***Or a hundred minutes, in the version my Uncle John was telling me about at dinner today. He got a bootleg of the 2007 version shown at festivals, with a bit more footage and a very different ending.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Friday, October 30, 2009

Top Five Scary Movies

In honor of Halloween, which is every day in my world, I tried to resurrect the old Top Five list I used to so enjoy. So, I asked a bunch of people to provide me with their Top Five Scariest Movies. We'll see how it goes.

So, first off, I gotta come up with my picks.
I notice that most of these movies are recent, and there's a reason for that: I saw them in the theatre. Home video--or worse, television with commercials--just offers too many distractions, too many escapes, and stuck in a darkened room with a huge screen (and hopefully nobody text messaging across from you) is really the way to immerse yourself in the experience going on in the film. And I do have a great fear of ghosts, which I think all the above have in common.

You know what was really scary? DRAG ME TO HELL. The thing with that is, there was so much splatstick and comedy in it that you tend to brush off the fear easier than many horror flicks.

So, I asked a variety of people for their picks this time around, and the first to respond was Liz M. She included a practical essay for each entry. Her picks:

1. The Exorcist
2. The Shining
3. Se7en
4. Silence of the Lambs
5. Psycho
Tyranist was next to respond (strange, since I sent him the request last). His picks:

1. Halloween (I still have to run from the dark when I'm done watching it)
2. The Exorcist
3. The Shining
4. Alien
5. Black Christmas

He and I watched the 1974 BLACK CHRISTMAS a couple months ago, and I was really surprised by how scary and well made it was. Especially since we both liked the 2006 remake when it came out. After watching them both back to back, the remake kind of blows.

My evil cousin Ryan sent in his response: "I don't think my opinion here would be very useful." At least he was honest.

Big Bob Freelander sent in a similar list (except his reason was that it's too hard to decide). He put THE CHANGELING on and nothing else.

Chemist Jeff said:
"I can't really recall that many that were truly scary. Yes a bunch of them startled the crap out of me, but that's not what I think of as far as being scared. So my (short) list is:"

1) Prince of Darkness
2) The Omen
3) Exorcist
4) Nightmare on Elm Street (the first one)
5) Big Mama's House
(this was actually number one, but it's not really in the spirit of the question so I relegated it...)

Beta Ray Charles sent in:
I guess I haven't seen many, either. Or at least, not many good ones so my list will have some unorthodox ones, for sure.

5. The Grudge
4. The Fly (1958)
3. Terminator 2
2. This House Possessed*
1. Poltergeist

Prison Guard Johnny sent me:
1. Scream
2. The House on Haunted Hill
3. The Shining
4. Dead Girl
5. The Exorcist
Actually, he put BABY GENIUSES first, but I figured it would skew the voting. We want scary-fun, not scary-veryverywrong.

After a while, Evil Cousin Ryan did send it a list (he's not a big fan of Horror), which went like:
1 Terminator
2 Aliens
3 Alien
4 I know what you did last summer

I sent out my request several days ago, hoping I'd be in time for Halloween. But more than half the folks I asked for answers never got back to me. If they do, I suppose I can change this around, but until then, our winners are:
But the weak turnout may be a reminder of why I let the Top Five lists die.

Rish "The" Outfield

*Apparently, this was, ironically enough, a movie about a possessed house. He said a scene where someone was taking a shower and the water suddenly became boiling hot and killed them stuck with him for years.

FixFlix 20

Oh, merciful Lord, no.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

"Dollhouse" addendum

Folks, it would be douchie (Dush-y?) of me to not post about the "Dollhouse" episode Jeff and I watched tonight. The reason: it was really, really good.

Yeah, I've bagged on the show of late, and I said recently that I hope that Joss can go on to a good show soon, now that "Dollhouse" is going to be canceled.

But maybe I spoke too soon (oh, not about the cancellation; they may as well start the "only four more episodes left"-type ad campaign), as I sure would hate for the rest of the bunch to be as good as the last one, and have my negativity posts be my final word.

So, the episode in question, "Belonging," written by Maurissa Tancharoen and Jed Whedon, was unusual, in that Echo was a supporting character throughout. It something of an origin story for Sierra, and it went miles toward making Sierra, Adelle, and especially Topher into sympathetic characters. I never liked Topher from the very beginning, and except for the birthday episode, I got the impression half of the writers felt we weren't supposed to like him (despite the other half's filling him with clever/cute dialogue).

I've noticed Eliza Dushku's performances really vary, and while she's always nice to look at, sometimes she can't pull off the acting without visible effort. But in this episode (and the one before, where she had a lot more to do), she was very, very good.

There were a couple of really great, interesting, and thought-provoking moments in this episode. Commander Will Riker himself, Jonathan Frakes, directed the episode, and while I'm not suggesting he's slumming it doing episodes of television (he's got a "Castle" airing in just a week or two) and a wildly uneven couple of "Librarian" TV movies, but the man directed STAR TREK: FIRST CONTACT. That alone should get him work on Sci-Fi, time travel, and horror movies.

Well, if anything, I'll check out the last episodes in December with a bit more anticipation than I otherwise would have.

Rish "Glass Is Half Fu--" Outfield

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

"Thrill Me!"

I just had to drop a quick post to mention that one of my all-time favorite movies, NIGHT OF THE CREEPS, finally came out on DVD today.

I first saw NOTC in junior high, when I hadn't seen a ton of horror movies, and even though I loved it then, I had no idea what a special, uniquely great movie it was. Was it any wonder that, after that, I expected all teen horror films to be scary, funny, well-written, enjoyable, sad, realistic and surreal, only to find that most of them aren't any of those things? The film is considered a B-Movie, and if that's what it is, it's the best B-Movie of all time*, with a plot that goes something like . . .

A canister filled with alien slugs crash-lands in the woods in 1959, infecting a frat boy who dies and is placed in cryogenic freeze. In 1986, a couple of geeky best friends, in order to try and impress a beautiful sorority chick, pledge a fratrnity, and are told to steal a dead body and put it on a rival frat's doorstep. The body they grab turns out to be the one in cryogenic storage, and still harbors the space slugs, which go on a rampage, entering the dead and living alike and turning them into zombified incubators for more of the alien parasites. And somehow, hilarity ensues.

The film was made on a low budget in 1986 by twenty-six year old writer/director Fred Dekker. I worked in 2001 at a video store in Los Angeles, and before I was unceremoniously fired, met Dekker several times, as he was a regular customer. I showered him with praise for NIGHT OF THE CREEPS, and he was happy to talk about it, telling me time and time again that he didn't know when it was coming out on DVD.

Well, there were rights issues, music issues, and general headaches due to the property changing hands, so it wasn't until October 27th, eight years later that it finally came out (if you think about UMD, HD-DVD, and Blu-Ray, there have been three video formats since then, crazy).

I'm not writing this to encourage people to go out and buy NIGHT OF THE CREEPS (though if you want to, I'll not stand in your way), but just to mark the occasion (I was watching the special features on the DVD and would've felt guilty if I hadn't said something). There are very few movies that only get better with repeated viewings (WRATH OF KHAN and HOT FUZZ come immediately to mind), and this is one of them. Dekker's not made a lot of stuff in the decades since, and very few people have heard of NOTCs, but I just had to say a few words, since the film brought me joy twenty years ago, and even more today.

Rish "Afternoon of the Creeps" Outfield

*Unless TERMINATOR is a B-Movie. Not sure exactly on the 21st Century definition.

FixFlix 19

Here's another one that would be really nice.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

FixFlix 18

Keep those cards and letters coming, folks.

Friday, October 23, 2009

"Dollhouse" countdown begins

So, Jeff and I watched another episode of "Dollhouse" this week. It was the one where Echo is replacing a mother who died and gets this motherly instinct so powerful it continues when she is wiped. It was alright, had a couple fairly good moments, but nothing close to what I'd need to care when I hear that the show is being taken off the schedule during November sweeps.

Sweeps are when networks sell advertising space, and hence, is when the special guest stars, the big-budget episodes, and the entire run of ABC's new "V" are put on the air. For a show to be taken off the air during those months is pretty indicative of its fate.

"Dollhouse" hasn't been canceled yet, but their parking spots are already been divied out to somebody new.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

FixFlix 17

My cousin mentioned yesterday that he is enjoying these.

Darn. Just when I was phasing them out.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Happy October

Everyone's entitled to one good scare.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Spider Baby 2

Children are just so much closer to nature than we are, you know?

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Slaughterhouse Rish

So, I don't know if it was a mistake or not, but I blogged about a book recently, and now I'm reading "Slaughterhouse 5" by Kurt Vonnegut, and I'm somewhat tempted to blog this one too.
I'd heard of the book before, and I was vaguely aware there was a movie made once, but I never read it, and except for the main character in CAN'T HARDLY WAIT, know no one else who has read it.

In fact, I can't think of what motivated me to pick it up. I think there was a comment on an old Dunesteef episode where somebody mentioned this as one of their favorite books, but I found it at the library, and I grabbed it (and a collection of Hans Christian Anderson fairy tales, but that one I put down fairly quickly).

"Slaughterhouse Five" is actually quite amusing, even though it is a rough, dark, almost mean-spirited novel. That surprised me, since I have such an old-fashioned view on the past it's almost embarrassing. A lot of it takes place during World War II, and it constantly surprises me that things like vulgarity, porn, a-holism, and the f-word existed in those days.

The repeated phrase "So it goes" impressed me at first, then I felt like it got repeated too much, and then, after it had been repeated a dozen more times, I started to laugh whenever it was used.

From back in the Horror Film Compendium days, I had set aside two major compliments for a movie. The first one doesn't really apply, since books tend to be much better written than horror movies, but the second one totally works for "Slaughterhouse Five." When it ended, I was disappointed, because I was enjoying it so much I could've stood for more.

Rish "Billy Pilgrim" Outfield

Friday, October 09, 2009

Thursday, October 08, 2009

Dollhouse Airing Out

So, apparently last week's "Dollhouse" was its lowest rated show yet. I heard somebody point out that "Stargate Universe" got higher ratings, and that's on a cable channel with an utterly moronic name. So, it looks like the show is going to be canceled.

Jeff and I started watching Eliza Dushku's last series, "Tru Calling" during the summer. It started out fairly weak, though it had a pretty bang-up premise. After four or five episodes, he and I considered not watching anymore, but decided to watch the rest of the disc before deciding for sure. Well, as if somebody somewhere in-a-time-warp-but-with-future-reality-altering powers heard what we were considering, and immediately, the show got not only better, but really quite good. I was surprised, and happy to discover that I was wrong.

I looked up "Tru Calling," though, and saw that while FOX did renew it for a second season, they canceled it after only five episodes had aired. Of course, "Tru Calling" had about twice as many viewers as "Dollhouse" does.*

So, it's going to get canceled, and I still don't get why it was renewed for this season, since FOX has always seemed to be about money. I guess the main reason for writing this is that I went to Jeff's place last night and we started to watch the new season of "Dollhouse," and it did absolutely nothing for me. If anything, most of the momentum and interest I had for it in the first season were gone, and except for looking at attractive young people (which I could watch the CW for), I could see very little worth sticking around for.

I guess that makes me a bad man. I know I was a big supporter of this show. It just doesn't mean anything to me anymore. Heck, I'm much more interested in the remaining "Tru Calling"s I haven't seen. Better luck next time, okay?

Rish Iscariot Outfield

*I was curious, so I checked out "Firefly"'s ratings, and you know what? It got twice as many viewers a week as "Dollhouse" too.

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Saturday, October 03, 2009

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

FixFlix 11

Hmmm. I think it's fair to say that these will spill over into October. Sorry.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

FixFlix 10

This one's for my buddy Jeff.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

"Stranger" redux

So, a week or three ago, I posted about how much I was loving Stranger In A Strange Land, but I must have forgotten to knock on wood, 'cause almost immediately afterward, I started to NOT love it so much.

I'm embarrassed to say this, since I so rarely blog about books, but maybe it's 'cause I don't talk about books that I ought to amend my original post. There comes a point in the book where the storyline suddenly changes. It's like night and day, when there's a shift in storytelling technique, and from that point on, almost without exception, the book was never the same. It started to get really strange, what with the Fosterites, and then the time at the carnival, and the sharing of more than just water, and eventually the whole Mike starts his own religion thing.

I have to admit that I considered quitting on a couple of occasions (something I do a lot more with books nowadays than I used to; if a book starts to lose my attention or rub me the wrong way, I just dump it, because whatever I paid for the book is no longer the overriding concern in reading it), though I would have missed that great joke at the end where some guy in the mob that attacks Mike demands that he "stop the goddamn blasphemy."

Really, Stranger In A Strange Land was two books, and it's the second half, the second book, if you will) that has touched so many lives, inspired so many people to think differently, and encouraged them to leave their puritanical upbringings in the dust, never looking back. That I didn't respond to it, appreciate it, or really, even "get" it says a lot more about me than the novel.

But hey, somebody's got to buy those "Star Trek" tie-in books, kids.

Rish "Juvenile Fiction" Outfield

Monday, September 21, 2009

FixFlix 8

I should've arranged it so this came out the same day WOLVERINE hit DVD. Sorry, God.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

And Then There Was NUN

I don't watch television. I know that sounds like a gigantic lie from a dude who blogged every episode of "Dollhouse," but I don't have cable (and, wow, it finally happened, I can't pick up even local stations anymore thanks to the whole dreaded analog to digital conversation), and I watch stuff at my friend's house or check out movies via Netflix or on the internet. But my mom went out of town yesterday and I was flipping through her channels just now, and came across a movie called THE NUN.

I would've kept on flipping if it hadn't been for the brilliant and/or hysterical copy the cable had about the film.

THE NUN (2005)
Anita Briem, Lola Marceli
A group of Catholic school girls are tormented by a sadistic nun. And if that isn't worth the price of admission, it gets even better. The girls fight back and end up killing the nun. All is good, until twenty years later, when it isn't Jesus who returns.

I swear, except for capitalizing "Catholic," I didn't change a word of the description. Whoever wrote that deserves a huge raise in pay.

Guess what I'm watching as soon as I turn on the sprinklers?

Rish "And then she unzipped her jumper" Outfield

Friday, September 18, 2009

FixFlix 7

I really should've reeled myself in with this one. I'm fond of those writing exercises where you have to tell a story in 500 words or only a hundred, since I invariably have to hack away at my writing like the world's fattest ice sculptor, trying to say in one sentence what first took my three. Ah well.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Funereal Post (that's a strange word, isn't it?)

My uncle's funeral was today. He was buried beside my Grandma and Grandpa in the village where I grew up (and which seems not to have changed in all these years). It was an interesting day.

About a dozen years ago, my dad's little brother did something that a couple of his siblings felt was unforgivable. When I heard about it, I think I felt closer to my father than I had in years, because his part of it so reminded me of me.

Jeez, it's weird to be writing something so personal in what is essentially a public forum. Maybe I shouldn't write this here, in case there's a Sony lawyer looking for a chance to make me lose another job. But hey, just because there are strangers (indifferent, or the snide, blood-sucking kind) who COULD read my blog doesn't mean that they are.

I'm just going to go ahead and type this anyway, because if it were a celebrity instead of an uncle, I would've written my thoughts and feelings (and also because I have never once gone back and read one of the entries in my private journal, so it may as well not exist).

I was a pallbearer, and I know I was out of place because I had no real connection to my uncle except for some small shared blood. So, it's kind of the opposite of when my best friend didn't choose me for Best Man at his wedding, isn't it?

Bottom line: the man had screwed up in many ways, and he was despised for it for a long long time. But none of that mattered on September 17th, 2009, when his funeral was held and he was buried. During the service, most of the attention was placed where it belonged, on his seven year old son, who stood by the casket with a combination of stoicism and bewilderment that would have emotionally bowled me over, were I not feeling so gosh-darned sour right now.

There was a picture on my grandma's kitchen wall all during my childhood of my uncle with a frog and a pollywog (what my family called tadpoles before I decided I'd start pretending I was something I wasn't), and that is, essentially, how I will always remember the man. That photo was there on the table with a bunch of other mementos, and I remarked it to my cousin, who I haven't said a word to in twenty years or more.

And during the tributes/speeches/eulogy/talks, everybody focused on the positive, the brightest memories, the happiest times. My dad talked about his little brother as though he was still a child, how much their mom and dad loved him and how great he was at high school sports. How much he loved the outdoors, how great a golfer he was, how much tougher he was than everyone else, how talented he was at killing deer and elk and fish and touchdown passes.

That's human nature, I guess, to sanctify the dead, overlooking their flaws, and shining light at their noblest moments, their most extraordinary traits. Maybe everybody does it, and that's why Michael Jackson sold more albums in 2009 than he did in the last dozen years.

But I'm going to choose to respect my old man a little more because of it, if that's alright.

And it made me wonder what will be said at my funeral, if anybody bothers to show up. Hopefully people will forget that I have been unhappy for pretty much as long as I can remember, and that I was never one to smile on the fortune of others. My dad will forget he used to refer to me as "you no-good brother," and my mom will casually forget that she gave birth to the laziest person for miles around (even at a recreational wheelchair expo).

I hope they remember that I was good for a laugh, from time to time, and that I loved my niece and nephew, and that I wrote a really good story once and spent the next twenty years writing it again. Perhaps my love for Eighties pop songs, comic books, Pepsi-Cola, frogs, scary stories, and the word "chalupa" will suddenly seem endearing, even if me crying during an episode of "Punky Brewster" shall never be. Oh, and somebody better mention my Sean Connery impersonation. I'm not kidding.

My uncle wasn't a great man, but people loved him, and in the end, that seemed to be--not all that mattered, but mostly--what mattered.

I've been around for a while. You woulda thought I'd have learned that by now.

Rish "Doogie" Outfield

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

FixFlix 6

Oh, would that it were so.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Devilish old photo

My mom gave me a box from our old house that had, among other things, old pictures from my childhood in it. I looked through them, only vaguely remembering the circumstances behind half a dozen of them.

One, though, struck me as particularly strange. When I was in Kindergarten, our school did a Halloween program, and our contribution was all of the girls dressing up as witches, the boys as ghosts, and me . . . as The Devil (which I capitalize out of respect).I have absolutely no memory of this, except for having that devil costume, the horns, and the pitchfork for years afterward.

The only reason I post this is that I find it absolutely mind-boggling that an American elementary school class could present witches and Satan in a school program. Seems like that would get the school burned down in 2009.

Only one way to find out, I guess. My niece is in elementary school right now . . .

Rish "El Diablo" Outfield

Saturday, September 12, 2009

FixFlix 5

WARNING: I'm going to keep these up unless I am stopped. By you.

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

FixFlix 4

Just imagine how stupid the cartoons I DIDN'T include were.

Sunday, September 06, 2009

FixFlix 3

Boy, it's harder than I thought to add the text to these things. It shouldn't be, but I guess I should take a remedial MS Paint course at the local community college.

Saturday, September 05, 2009 a Stranger in a Strange Strange Land

A couple of weeks ago, I had a conversation with a friend of mine about how many movies I'd seen versus how many books I'd read. The final verdict was that I have seen more movies than is probably healthy, but that I'm rather ignorant when it comes to all the books out there.

And then, Big and I did an episode of our podcast the other day about a collector of old Science Fiction books, and how magical a lot of those classic and/or forgotten stories were. So I decided that I would try and read something, a book, a Sci-Fi book. The one I chose was "Stranger in a Strange Land" by Robert E. Heinlein.
And wow, I am totally loving it. Some of the future the man wrote about is still futuristic to us, some of it is archaic now (especially the quaint, almost amusing sexism and racism, and the old fashioned way of talking and advertising), and some is right on the button.

I am so glad I picked this book up. Hopefully I'll actually finish this one, instead of abandoning it partway through, like I have . . . Wow, have I ever finished a book before?

Rish "Oh Learned One" Outfield

Which reminds me, I used to see "I Grok Spock" bumper stickers and buttons from time to time, and not having read SIASL I always thought they were incredibly stupid. Now that I get the reference, I realize that they were just incredibly nerdy. Fair enough.

Thursday, September 03, 2009

FixFlix 2

This is pretty much the reason I created these cartoons (and the conversation I had with Jeff that inspired it).Rish Michaelangelo Outfield

Monday, August 31, 2009

FixFlix 1

So, not long ago, my cousin got one of those CleanFlix DVD editor machines, where you put in a disc of, say, Disney's HUNCHBACK OF NOTRE DAME, and it cuts out the "Hellfire" song. Or you put in TITANIC and there's no painting scene.* Or you put in SHAWSHANK REDEMPTION and the cursing and buggery is removed. Or you put in BASIC INSTINCT, and it's suddenly twenty-three minutes long.

I don't know how many hours of fun he had playing his movies and seeing what edits were made by some faceless Mormon board of censors, but he'd heard that if you played TERMINATOR in it, then John Connor was created through immaculate conception, so he wanted to borrow my T1 and T2.

I told him no, told his wife no, and then, when I was in the bathroom, he opened my DVD cabinet and took them himself.

He later returned the DVDs, and I believe he returned the player, and that was the end of it. I never asked him how his experience was because, well, I don't give a rodent's posterior, but I've always been curious as to what gets taken out and what gets left in in movies if you stick 'em in one of those players. Then, due to a conversation I was having with Jeff yesterday, I thought I would give it a try myself.

Oh, I didn't buy one of those censor machines, no sir. I just drew up a little cartoon to let my imagination go to work. So, enjoy!
Rish DaVinci Outfield

*I nearly said, "Or you put in E.T. and it takes out all the weapons," but then I realized that all DVDs do that.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

New cartoon alert

I had an interesting conversation with Jeff today . . .

Okay, it was mostly me screaming and cursing and him playing with that little I-Phone thing of his, but it inspired a new cartoon series I'm going to post on here for the month of September.*

I'm going to finish it up and scan it into the computer (where I've found that my drawings always look much crappier than they did on paper, much less in my head), and get the first one posted tomorrow.

Now back to your regularly scheduled program.

Rish "Peyo" Outfield

*Or until I lose interest and forget to put any more up here.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Soccer? I barely know her.

My buddy Jeff took me to a soccer game tonight, and I really enjoyed myself. My friends Jeff and Merrill both really love soccer and the local MLS team, and while I think the game is fun to watch, I'm not exactly the aficionado of futbol I am of, say, cockfighting or wangbaiting.

But it was great tonight, since the weather was perfect, we had really good seats, I saw a couple of pretty girls, and most importantly, the game was really exciting. And the team we were rooting for won.

The only cloud over the night was that my pal Merrill, who didn't make it to the game tonight, had his picture on the tickets. That meant that every attractive teenage girl in the stadium, had Merrill's face pressed to their bosom at least once tonight.

Some things never change.

Rish "Lonely Guy" Outfield

Monday, August 24, 2009

Driving Buddy

We were going to podcast tonight, but due to an abnormal work schedule (not mine, of course), I found myself with nothing to do this evening. My sister had brought by her one year old, who hasn't yet outgrown me, and we get along pretty well. The boy loves to run and play and throw things scream in the sort of unbridled happiness I never see outside of movies with lots of X's in the titles, so I asked him if he wanted to go to the park.

It's difficult to know what the child understands and what he doesn't. I wouldn't have guessed that a one year old could have any comprehension of language, but then, my mom's dog somehow knows that "I need to pick up some envelopes at Wal-mart" translates to "I'm going to get in the car soon and if you bark enough you can go for a ride," so that shows how much I know.

But it seemed like he wanted to go, so I pretty much kidnapped him. So I loaded him up in the car* and took him to the park.We ran around on the grass, let him look at the flowers, then swung on the swings. After a while, the most muscular dude I've ever seen came up with his little blonde daughter and swung her too.** Then the child and I hung out at the pond, watching the ducks that swim in its waters and hang around its bank. We hadn't brought any bread, but a woman with a couple of kids gave us part of a tortilla to feed to them. The boy chased a white female duck quite a while and I was pretty sure she was going to bite him, though she ultimately didn't.

I carried him around after that, then let him play on the slide. He's at that age where he has no fear, and it's caused him to fall down innumerable times, but he had no problems climbing up the stairs and sliding down on his own. I sometimes find it difficult to remember a time when all I had to do was climb up someplace high and slide down to feel completely happy, but I get a glimpse at that time watching him whoop into my arms.

It was a good time. Sure, he bawled a bit when I said it was time to go home (his new favorite word is "No," which he says approximately two thousand times a day, including to every question you ask him), but as we were almost back, Jeff Buckley's cover of "Hallelujah" started on the radio, and to my surprise, the kid loved it, singing along. We both knew the words about the same, but it was just astounding to look into the back seat and see him smiling there, enjoying the late summer breeze on his face and delighting in something about this song which surely had to be new to him.

And I thought, when I'm far away, surrounded by hateful strangers, this is how I'm going to remember the boy.

And I'll either feel warm inside, or weep all the more.Rish Obediah Outfield

*Boy, I know these car seat mechanisms probably save lives, but why does it have to be such a Sisyphean task to insert the seats into the car and insert children into the seats? If he's ever going to learn the f-word, it'll be from listening to me trying to get him all strapped into that overdesigned mechanism.

**I'm not kidding, this guy was so bodybuilder-esqe that he couldn't even move right, almost the way an enormously fat person can't move right. It was weird to see this hulk out with his kid, and it made me feel ridiculously out of shape. But no worries, my kid was cuter.

Friday, August 07, 2009

Top Five John Hughes Movies

After losing John Hughes and thinking about it while camping, I decided I'd go back to the old Top Five lists I enjoyed so much before they petered out a year ago. I asked my friends to send me their Top Five John Hughes Films, deciding to include the films he wrote as well as directed, since my cousin was sure to have seen none of them.

So, here was my list:
1. PLANES, TRAINS & AUTOMOBILES (1987) (writer/director)
2. FERRIS BUELLER'S DAY OFF (1986) (writer/director)
3. THE BREAKFAST CLUB (1985) (writer/director)
4. SIXTEEN CANDLES (1984) (writer/director)
5. HOME ALONE (1990) (writer) First person to respond was Prison Guard Johnny. He told me that, of all the celebrity deaths in past month and a half, this one is the one he was the most sad about. His list:
1.Ferris Bueller's Day Off
2.National Lampoon's Vacation
3.Home alone
4.Planes Trains and Automobiles
5.The Breakfast Club
Then my friend Saur sent me his list. This guy knows more about movies than Quentin Taranfriggintino. He has forgotten more about them than I will ever know. His list:
Tyranist was next to respond. He only listed four, since he despises a couple of the movies Hughes was involved with, and wasn't about to list those. His list:
1. Nate & Hayes
2. Ferris Bueller's Day Off
3. Weird Science
4. Vacation
Jeff the Chemist sent me this list:
1 Planes Trains & Automobiles
2 Mr. Mom
3 16 candles
4 Breakfast Club
5 Vacation

My Evil Cousin Ryan, who seldom shares movie tastes with me (this guy actually owns MORTAL KOMBAT ANNIHILATION), actually had five John Hughes movies to list. I was a little proud of him, until five minutes later he gave me reason not to be anymore. His list was:
Christmas Vacation
Home Alone
Ferris Bueller's Day Off
Home Alone 2
National Lampoon's Vacation
Merrill sent me his list, with a warning that compiling it was hard, since "this guy's movies kicked ass." That list went like:
1. Ferris Bueller's Day Off
2. Some Kind Of Wonderful
3. Vacation
4. Weird Science
5. Home Alone

Last to participate was Ian, my friend who, back in college, at least, totally idolized John Hughes. I'll make sure to lift a glass to the man who gave us Long Duck Dong and Wally World and Abe Frohman the next time I see him. Ian's picks:
1. Some Kind Of Wonderful
2. Ferris Bueller's Day Off
3. Home Alone
4. Planes Trains and Automobiles
5. Vacation
Well, that makes our winners:
1. FERRIS BUELLER (still the hardest name to spell in ages)

But you know, John Hughes's writing and insights into the minds and hearts of young people (and old people too) made us all winners. Even the losers like me an Anthony Michael Hall. Thanks, John.

Rish Shermer Outfield

"I always figured life would be like the movies."
"It is, man. It's just not a John Hughes movie. More like one by George A. Romero."