Tuesday, January 22, 2008

The Rider Of Old

A lone highway stretched endlessly in either direction.

The biker moved swiftly across it. He could not remember where he had come from, only that the direction of the highway bore him straight to the resting place of the sun.

For the last two weeks that was all the biker did. Caught between point A and B he was drawn towards whatever lay at B. In a near constant run he rumbled westward, stopping at an abandoned gas station long enough to fill up.

For the past three days the biker had been lone on the highway. The sun bleached concrete, cracked beyond repair and at some places nonexistent, had been the biker's only company. He enjoyed that. The occasional animal skull leered at him with a death grin, but never once had he seen life to accompany the death. By this time the mountains had all but disappeared, swallowed up by the gray and red cloud cast sky. The biker crested a final hill, the highest point along the highway yet, and stared over the vast stretch of highway, meeting the sky at the horizon. At the base of the hill was a small building, run down, cast in the glow of a broken neon sign.

The Red Wheel Tavern looked as though it had existed since the dawn of time, and aganst all odds would probably remain to bid it farewell. Where its patrons came from was a mystery, and if they ever left was another debatable point. The front porch had collapsed in two spots, but where it had persevered an old rocking chair sat, and in it a man with the look of God eyed the stranger as he crested the hill and dismounted from his bike.

He stood. An apparition on the horizon, standing like the ever impending doom, silhouetted in the bleeding sun which seemed to shine for he and he alone. Without a word he walked down the steep hill, towards the tavern, but then words would be wasted on him.

His eyes were covered by the black sheen of his boxy sunglasses, soulless as whatever Hell must've spat him back out. They seemed omnipotent as they surveeyed the surrounding barren landscape.

Like falling mortar shells his steps landed on the concrete with dull exploding thumps, accompanied ironically by the familiar clink, which could easily have been mistaken for spurs. He came to rest before the old man, kneeling to meet his gaze. Unchecked, the old man with God in his eyes stared back at him. That was when he spoke, and when he did it was as though Zeus had unleashed the full wrath of his thunder upon the masses.

"They have beds?" Even the wind seemed to check itself at the mercy of the stranger. This didn't seem to even phase the old man.

"'pends on you, my son." The old man stared at the stranger with a grin sans most of his teeth.

"I'm no one's son, old timer." The stranger returned the small grin with a frightful smile of his own. He pulled himself back to full height, lit a cigarette. "Return to your dead, old man," he flatly intoned, his mouth bleeding smoke like a dragon's breath.

"And you to the hell that spawned you." The old man's gaze slipped back towards the horizon, or maybe to another world. The stranger stepped by him and through the doors into the din of the tavern. As he passed through the sagging door frame his oiled hair brushed the wood.


This is a little bit of the Rider's story draft one from high school. It is amazing how much it hasn't changed over the years of mulling... Real entry to come

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Cloverfield: A Review

First off I want to get this out there right away. This is, in fact, an actual review for the movie "Cloverfield." There are probably a dozen or more fake reviews for this movie circulating about the web, this is not one of those. At 8pm EST at Michigan State University in the basement lecture hall B108 of Wells a prescreening was given for students and the public of MSU and East Lansing. Those are my credentials, look around and see what you can find. The facebook event is here.

Also I want to get out of the way right now the fact that, yes, this review contains spoilers. The big ones will be reserved for the end of the review, so with that warning in mind


Ok. Now that we've got all that preamble crap out of the way, lets get to this freakin movie review....

It should be understood that Cloverfield IS NOT A MONSTER MOVIE. Well... It is a monster movie, but not in the traditional sense. It's a love story. It's a story about obsession. About one man's obsession with this girl, and about how after he blew it a monster attacks the city. This gives him that one more chance to go and save her. That's the movie in a nutshell. That's what it's about. The monster is a vehicle for this one more chance. The misconception that many people take into this movie is that it's a strict traditional monster movie. This isn't Godzilla. What it is is a damn good question.

In a traditional review people want to know things about the cinematography, the acting, the soundtrack, the special effects. It's hard to fathom how to review a movie like this because it's not about that. The special effects are great. Not the most top notch, but with the pacing and emotion it's hard to not get swept up in the terrifying fervor.

There was a backlash to Cloverfield not that long ago. A concern about it exploiting the emotions of 9-11 for commercial gain. To that effect I ask about the American Flag T-shirts, United 93, World Trade Center, anything having to do with terrorism, or patriotism, or any of the round the clock news coverage. Does the movie tap into fears of 9-11? Yes. Hell yes. To watch that movie and having seen the replayed video footage when the towers went down is a terrifying thing. What it does is channel that nervous fear that most everything else surrounding 9-11 has missed. The Terror of terrorism, that fear of the unknown. The movie does this very well.

This goes on to fill in the acting. Don't look for Oscar-worthy performances. It's not about that. There's no great overt drama. No enthralling characters, because the characters on the screen are me and you. This is how you'd react. Screaming, running, falling. My friend complained about the overacting, especially towards the beginning. I beg to differ. How do you act when someone turns the video camera on you? You overact to try and compensate for this fear of clumsiness. That's what you see. Real people dealing with surreal problems.

Cloverfield has done something special. It's really truly the first of its kind. A big budget monster flick told in an intimate indie sort of manner. The images are haunting. The implications terrifying. AND YES! You see the monster in all it's glory. Now for spoilers


Keep in mind the way I started this review. This is not a monster movie. This is not Godzilla. There are no Matt Brodericks to tell you how it came to be, or how to beat it. There are no Jeff Goldblums to tell you to put a virus in the mothership. JJ Abrams has managed to make a movie that gives you no answers. What is it? A monster. Where'd it come from? Hell if I know. Do we win? Considering the implications of them finding the tape in the rubble of former Manhattan, yes, I'd say so, but it's not certain. How do you stop? Dunno.

This is not a movie about giving you answers. Because the movie isn't about the monster. The movie is about Beth and Rob, and about Rob finding Beth. And that is where it gets interesting. When the final scenes of the movie are approaching there is this almost sad dawning realization that Rob was so focused and so obsessed with getting to Beth that he never bothered to plan his way out. And Rob (and Beth) is after all, just a human. Just a regular guy, and that sad realization along with how the tape was found, prepares you for a bittersweet conclusion. Kick me for saying it, but life is rarely satisfying, and we aren't invincible. They die. It's sad. It really is. But it's so high octane that it takes you a while to digest just how sad it is.

The monster is fucked up. REALLY MESSED UP. A sketch of an artists conception can be found here. And while it is not exact, it's pretty close. It's theory on the little crab things are spot on. While the monster is ravaging our city, it's far too busy to focus on one person. Instead we have to do one on one battles with it's lice. And they kick our ass. They also make people explode.

Many will find this unsatisfying. The movie, that is. They'll complain about the lack of answers, and the abrupt ending. About how everyone dies. But let's face reality here, people. Against sheer indifference and indiscriminate destruction, who really stands a chance? Godzilla had a brain with some levels of higher functions (both the original and the Americanized update). The aliens in Independence Day had strategy. This monster is a beast with no higher brain function beyond eat and survive. And we piss it off. Rob and Beth had no hope. It's sad, but at least their story lived on.

Go forth and Enjoy

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

I'm in the studio...

ie: my bedroom door is shut.

I'm starting to move ahead on my desired indie cd... It'll be all DIY. Computer Mic's and bootlegged software. Forrest, my friend near Murfreesboro, who is working on breaking into the recording industry, is going to master the final project for me. This is mostly going to be a solo effort. Duke is going to toss some filler and sounds my way. I'm gonna try and get Zach to lay down some guitar harmonies and maybe some drums. Welcome to the world of guerrilla music making.

I'm writing songs like a madman. My muse is talking to me again.

More to come, along with pictures later. Off to the bar...

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

So This Is The New Year

Welcome to 2008.

Every time this calendar resets itself for another 12 months I get really meditative on myself and on my goals and on the past year, which usually involves me being far more critical than I should be on myself.

So here are the potential reforms for 2008:

Finish draft one of my first book by the end of January. This was originally hoped to be done by the first, but laziness and school took its toll. Now it's time to step it up a notch. The Long Goodnight, here I come.

No more soda. Yeah it's dumb, but I picked it up along with a few extra and mostly useless pounds.

Exercise More. Ahh the old battle axe of the new years.

Read More. Which means less television (except for Lost...God help me if I don't get my Lost fixation).

Spend less. Another battle axe of the resolutions.

Last and not least is to update this damn blog more often. I've got a new digital camera. I have stories to tell, just ask any of my exhausted friends. There is no reason I shouldn't be doing more regular updates.

And to all those reading: May you find joy in change and growth in the next year. May the problems never be insurmountable, and the rewards never too great. And may you never walk alone.