Friday, December 24, 2010


So, enough about a 28 year old move. What does the new TRON have to offer?

Well, it does succeed where the old TRON failed. It is a visual spectacle to anyone sitting in the audience. But unfortunately it fails where the original succeeded.

Where the original tried to be a good, old fashioned good guys vs. bad guys romp, the new movie strives for profundity and fails miserably. As a headline on said: "Tron Legacy Director Says He Aimed for Bold Concept- Made Tron Legacy Instead." The religious allegories take center stage instead of the passing wave the first film gave them. Flynn has become a holy man, a zen Lebowsky, trapped in a world of his own creation. This creator has two sons- his artificial progeny Clu, who has fallen from grace and decided to make the world perfect through fascism, and his human son, Sam, who holds the capacity for salvation of this microcosmic world and is transfigured into a simple program who is yet so much more. Like Satan, Clu is the ruler of this fallen world. He walks to and fro, back and forth in the earth, but his mouth doesn't work quite right and his face looks kind of freaky.

And there's the second problem for TRON redux. While AVATAR may have jumped the uncanny valley in a single bound, TRON LEGACY falls to it's death in the chasm. You might believe Clu as a soulless program, but you're never for a minute fooled into thinking he's the embodiment of a young Jeff Bridges. In TRON Bridges was funny, exciting, and droll. His face was expressive and (dare I say it) animated. Clu looks just a little bit more like a young Jeff Bridges than Jason in the FRIDAY THE 13TH movies looked like William Shatner (look it up). I never quite got away from the idea that it was somebody wearing a young Jeff Bridges latex mask. Or that rather than CGI that they had just given Bridges whole face Botox injections. It's a great idea, but everything is in the execution. And whoever thought audiences would be taken up in all this pseudo-religious claptrap or taken in by the digital youthening of the leads should be executed.

And then there's THE MATRIX.

You see, just over a decade ago they made a sequel to TRON. It was called THE MATRIX. It was about a computer uprising, where a programmer was trapped in a computer generated world, and had god-like powers. It came at a time when computers were becoming commonplace, when a worldwide network of them had entered the zeitgeist, and when pseudo-religious claptrap was becoming mainstream. THE MATRIX was the right movie at the right time to catch the imagination of the general public. And it had visually spectacular special effects. Neo fought using Kung-Fu, not day-glo frisbees. Neo lived in a completely realized computer world indistinguishable from reality, not a black light Salvadore Dali painting. Neo fought for the salvation of mankind from a monolithic, inhuman, oppressive, totalitarian state; not to prevent a bunch of 8-bit programs in an antiquated CRAY mainframe from getting into our cell phones and iPads.

And where THE MATRIX and its sequels tried to actually present some of the philosophical questions inherent in the story- mind-body dualism, determinism, messianic complexes, systems of control, whether consciousness is an emergent or intrinsic property, the nature of reality, subjectivism vs. objectivism- TRON LEGACY doesn't even give lip service to any of the ideas contained in its scenario. The closest we get to a philosophical idea is when Flynn says, "The only way to win is not to play." A bon mot so deep and insightful that they lifted it directly from another movie released around the same time as the original TRON- WARGAMES. The world Flynn built in his antiquated mainframe is a molecule deep at best. Shiny, but without substance.

And in addition to not giving the story even the depth of the original TRON, let alone THE MATRIX, they also seem to have borrowed a lot of the look of the film as well. TL's virtual world is a place where the sun never shines, where the sky is filled with roiling clouds all the time, and even interior rooms are dimly lit. It's like the "real world" from the MATRIX only with better urban renewal. The only place in the Mainframe that's brightly lit is Flynn's villa, and it resembles, more than anything else, the hotel room from the end of 2001. That's what passes for a visual metaphor in this movie.

I think that it's pretty clear that the people who made this movie knew they had been beaten to the punch.

And even the one part of the movie that was almost sure to add some depth, that it's in 3-D, didn't come off well for me. A lot of folks online have praised the 3-D effects as adding to the story. I didn't see it that way. Having the parts of the movie set in the real world in 2-D (mostly) and the parts in the computer in 3-D was a neat idea- WHEN THEY DID IT WITH COLOR IN THE WIZARD OF OZ 70 YEARS AGO! Taking a darkly lit movie and darkening it further with 3D, missing the fact that depth of field is compromised in a dark environment anyway, and still missing the fact that out of focus foregrounds and backgrounds are a way to have 2D cameras simulate depth and don't work in 3D films because in a real place your eye is able to focus on whatever it looks at automatically, whether near or far, just adds further to the feeling that nobody associated with the movie really gave a damn about anything except OOHHH LIGHTCYCLES.

The filmmakers must have known this was a problem. Before the movie started they had a disclaimer (here I quote from memory, so it may not be entirely accurate): "There are parts of this movie that were shot in 2-D and parts that were shot in 3-D. We realize this is going to be weird and disorienting to the audience so we're asking you to keep your glasses on and just go with it. Let's face it, we don't really know what we're doing. And that Cameron dude came along last year and changed all the rules and how were we supposed to know that was going to happen after we were two years into production? Anyway, we fucked up. Just go with it, like we said. You've already paid for the ticket so what have you got to lose? And by doing this little disclaimer where we claim that we meant to do it all along, we can say that it isn't us, it's you if you spend most of the movie wondering why things look shitty."

Now, don't get me wrong. I got a thrill out of seeing the old Lightcycles updated. I enjoyed seeing programs on the game grid shattered into cubes. I liked the new Solar Sailor, the dogfight with the virtual AT-10, the new lightcycles defying gravity and acting like, well, REAL motorcycles (except for the gravity defying part). I'm as much a victim of geekstalgia as anybody. And there were a couple of nice things about the movie. Olivia Wilde is pretty. And I'm a sucker for bowl haircuts. Michael Sheen was entertaining as Ziggy Stardust (the Merovingian? Oh yeah, Zuse), the bar owner. It's nice to see him getting work impersonating Brits besides Tony Blair. Garrett Hedlund is fine in a pretty flat role, although he keeps morphing from looking like Trip from Star Trek: Enterprise when shot straight on to Jon Stewart when shot in profile. Unfortunately Jeff Bridges, who was the standout performance in the original and who I like in just about everything, sleepwalks through the whole thing. Maybe he's overdosed on the Botox they gave him for the Clu scenes.

So what's left to say? TRON LEGACY isn't a bad movie if all you want is eye candy, lots of shiny vehicles going fast, and attractive people dressed up in funny costumes saying things between trips in other shiny vehicles going fast. And there isn't anything wrong with that. But if you are looking for anything more, it just ain't there.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010


Well, the Gfriend and I went to see TRON LEGACY on its opening weekend. But first we watched an HDNet showing of the original I'd been saving for about six months on my TIVO to set the mood. Here are my reflections on both movies in two parts.

The original TRON was groundbreaking for its time. The first movie to make use of what has now become ubiquitous computer generated special effects. Other than that, it was groundbreaking for Disney. It may be hard to remember, but in the early 1980s Disney was a company flirting with bankruptcy. It was considered passe and outdated. It's animation department was in shambles. (Don Bluth had left the company in 1979 out of disgust for their death spiral, and taken most of the good animators with him. The same year TRON came out, Bluth would release THE SECRET OF HIMH, a movie closer to the animated Disney classics like SNOW WHITE and DUMBO than anything the company had been able to manage in decades.) The company's stock was in the cellar. And the smart money was that Disney wasn't long for solvency. Their big post-STAR WARS SF attempt, THE BLACK HOLE, was just that- a black hole- at the box office and TRON was an act of desperation to cash in on the burgeoning video game market.

Disney's desperation led them to Steve Lisberger, someone outside their corporate plantation, who had the skills and "nerd cred" to undertake such a radical departure. Unfortunately, TRON wasn't the blockbuster Disney was hoping for and a couple of years later a hostile takeover attempt by financier Saul Steinberg would cause Roy Disney to enlist Jeffery Katsenberg to run the company. The rest is, shall we say, history. Katsenberg led the company back from the edge of corporate ruin to its current megacorp status.

But as a movie, TRON wasn't that bad. It didn't catch the popular imagination, probably because it was a little too esoteric for early 80s audiences to grasp. The whole idea of being sucked into a computer was a little too cutting edge for a population thats closest interaction with a computer had been a trip to the local arcade and whos most sophisticated computing device was an Atari 2600 or a PONG game. Added to this were all the "in" jokes in the script. TRON is, in fact, a command in Basic, the predominant programming language for home computers at the time. (Please realize, this is two full years before the first Macintosh- the first computer with a mouse!- was released by Apple. The same year that the original IBM PC was widely distributed, and when over 80% of the tiny market for home computers was pretty evenly divided between Radio Shack's TRS-80 and the Apple IIC. Owning a computer in 1982 was like owning a HAM radio rig, except there were more HAM radio rigs.) It meant TRace ON and was a command to debug a program you had written. Invaluable in a time when most of the programs you ran you had to write yourself.

The movie is full of such "in" jokes that audiences didn't get. "Bring in the logic probe" (it looked like the very logic probe I sold in my Radio Shack store at the time), "grid bugs" (bugs in a program were unknown to most people), I-O towers (input-output busses), laser digitization (scanners were unheard of, let alone 3-D scanners), users (Lisberger says that one of the Disney execs thought this was vaguely dirty), and even bits (Flynn's, and Clu's, sidekick was a visualization of the basic nomenclature of binary systems- it's either positive (YES) or negative (NO), 1's and 0's, get it?). And my all-time favorite, "Cummon you skuzzy data, be in there." (SCSI, pronounced 'skuzzy', was an early hard disk interface.) Too much of the movie was simply way too geeky for the audience.

But the movie itself is a great deal of fun. Jeff Bridges shows the kind of natural likeability in front of the camera that would serve him well for the next 30 years. His lines really aren't much: "That's a big door." "It's all in the wrist." "Hey, it's the big Master Control Program everybody's been talking about!" "You don't look anything like your pictures." "Does she still leave her clothes all over the floor?" "How you gonna run the universe if you can't solve a few insolvable problems?" But Bridges delivery makes them shine and is the reason some of them became standards in GeekSpeek.

The rest of the cast isn't really given much to do. David Warner somehow stands out as Dillenger/Sark, and has a few ironically funny moments (such as when he suddenly turns his smile on for Alan during their confrontation in the office). Bruce Boxleitner displays his typical cardboard hero character (which he pulled out of mothballs as John Sheridan on four seasons of Babylon 5) but here it's OK because he's playing an uninspired programmer and a soulless program. He does get one unintentional laugh however with his 'ol west delivery of the line, "The name... of my user." And Barnard Hughes is here because it was some sort of rule at the Disney Studios back then that Barnard Hughes had to be in EVERY FRIGGING MOVIE DISNEY MADE.

Walt Disney's Common Law Same Sex Marriage Partner

But the real reason to see TRON was the visual spectacle. It was the era of the Special Effects Movie and people went to the theater to be dazzled. Unfortunately, it was five years after George Lucas started this trend and two years after THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK. So bedazzlement was beginning to get a little old. And while TRON had a new way of putting impossible pictures on the screen, CGI wasn't really ready for prime time and the result looked like animation in a time when animation was almost a dirty word. Lucas and Spielberg had been delivering never-before-seen movie magic for years, using decades old techniques. And although 1982 was the debut year for the technology, with TRON, THE LAST STARFIGHTER, and the Genesis effect in STAR TREK II, CGI wouldn't begin to challenge conventional special effects technology until TERMINATOR II, and wouldn't draw crowds into theaters for the sheer spectacle until JURRASIC PARK. In fact, the technology was still so primitive that it couldn't even be used to paint in the glowing lines on the costumes- they had to be rotoscoped by hand! (The computers they used were about as powerful as the one in your watch and nowhere near as sophisticated as the one in your phone.) In contrast to the visual alacrity of TRON, Ridley Scott's BLADERUNNER came out the same year. And Douglas Trumbull's special effects on that film set new standards for veracity.

But one thing that TRON and BLADERUNNER shared was visual designer Syd Mead. At that time Mead was perhaps one of the busiest artists in Hollywood. It seems that almost no big budget SF movie made back then didn't employ Mead to design vehicles. And while Lucas didn't hire Mead to design for EMPIRE, he wasn't above stealing the design for the Imperial Snow Walkers from a painting Mead had done years before.

The other designer TRON used was the incredible artist Jean Giraud, who went by the pseudonym Mobius. Giraud was known predominantly to American audiences through his work in Heavy Metal magazine. But at the same time he was one of the most respected international comic artists, famous in Europe and Asia for his Blueberry westerns as much as his groundbreaking SF work. Mobius' more organic and complex style would be reflected in, of all things, the costuming of the programs inhabiting the computer world. Sark's helmet is a particularly iconic Mobius design.

Alas, TRON didn't do too well at the box office. Steve Lisberger would say afterward that it was because they didn't make the MCP evil enough, but I disagree. There was never any ambiguity in the good vs. evil story of TRON. After all, didn't they show Flynn's doppelganger Clu being derezzed in the first few minutes, and Bernard Hughes crucified and tortured near the end? No, I think the failure of TRON was due to the reasons stated above: special effects that were only special if you understood how unique they were, a story that didn't connect with an audience that didn't understand the implications of the new technology they were just beginning to sample, and Disney's faltering reputation for making childish entertainments with nothing to offer adults. Add that to a religious allegory in a time when religious allegories were out of fashion, and you have a movie simply too far ahead of it's time.

But what of TRON LEGACY?

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

MUSIC- Old Man's War (Toy Matinee)

Got together with an old friend from high school, that I hadn't seen for 30 years in-between, for the second time a couple of weeks ago. The uncanny thing the first time we re-met was that we were able to pick right up where we left off. The weird thing this time was that in the interviening years we had developed so many similar tastes. Perhaps it's no so strange. After all, we'd been together through our formative years. Why wouldn't we follow paraelle paths in the years later? But the thing is- we've had different carreers, different love lives, different interests. I traveled all over the world, he stayed close to home. I was prone to small groups of close friends, he was more outgoing and social. I developed odd ideas about the world that sometimes it seems only I subscribe to, he is funny, charming, and relatable. Even my girlfriend thought he was more immediately accessable than I am (she was privy to most of our last get-together) and she's every bit as odd as I am. (In fact, I often think of her as the female version of me since we are so much alike. And realize that when she annoys me it's just Karma paying me back for how much I must have annoyed everyone around me for all these years.)
But the thing we seem to have paraelled more than anything else was our taste in music. Perhaps that isn't surprising. We were both musicians in high school. We loved going to concerts (rock, classical, big band, marching band, whatever...). But I was surprised to hear that he didn't like Steely Dan so much in high school but came to appreciate their music in later years (just as I had). So I turned him onto a song from another band that I love who makes music just as pop and yet as complex as Steely Dan did.

Toy Matinee

Toy Matinee made only one album. Like Steely Dan it was the brainchild of a pair of musical geniuses: Kevin Gilbert and Patrick Leonard. Unfortunately, Gilbert died before a second album could be made. Their music was a combination of pop, progressive, jazz, and fusion, that dealt with political and intellectual subjects (the first album contains songs such as Remember My Name about Vaclav Havel and Turn It On Salvadore about Salvadore Dali) while being filled with great gituar and keyboard riffs, lush productions, lyrical complexity, and catchy pop melodies. I found them when a radio station started playing this tune while I was in college.

Enamored with the Steely Dan combination of great musicianship, provocative lyrics, layered production, and catchy pop hooks, I sought out the album and in the interviening 20 years it has become the most played album in my life. It simply never seems to get old as I find new newance in the melody/countermelody, rythmic changes, key changes, and catchy tunes. Other standouts from the album include:
Turn It On Salvadore

wow, The first lyric references everything from UN CHIEN ANDALOU (drag the bound priest across the floor) to "death and a Gala Premere". Gala was, by the way, the love of Salvador Dali's life and the muse for most of his great works of art. It has nothing to do with a gala premere with the "a" having a long a sound.
This is just scratching the surface of why these guys made ART while most pop bands make SHIT.
Let's go back to the definition of ART: (well, at least my definition of ART, but I have yet to find a better one. If you know one, please clue me in.) Art is that which is complexly satisfying. Art is something that touches the brain and the heart. Art is something that makes you want to learn something while it makes you FEEL something. If you feel something visceral (if you get a chill, it sturs your loins, it frightens you, it moves you) while it makes you want to know something (it stirs your curiosity) then you have found a work of art.
Toy Matinee does that for me.

But, like so many artists, they didn't stick around on this world too long. Next time I'll talk about their successor: Third Matinee

In the meantime, go buy their album...

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

PERSONAL- The Social Network Part 2

This is another personal post and I apologize. Looking back, I've posted more personal stuff this year than in the entire history of the blog until now. I've also posted less than any other year. It's just been that kind of year.

So anyway (ahem) after seeing THE SOCIAL NETWORK I decided to open a Facebook page. Sunday morning, 3AM. Put out feelers for two old friends from high school who I hadn't seen since.

And boom.

After 30 years of carefully hiding my tracks on the Net, now it's like the walls of my house have turned transparent. And, no, that's not a typo- 30 years. I tell some of the younger people that I was on the net before the web existed, and they laugh. But it's true. I first went online in... well... a long time ago. Back in the antediluvian days of text only. I was old when Tim Berners-Lee invented the internet by pushing the button on the first webserver (a neXT if you remember that computer brand) in 1990. I was old when Apple introduced the first Macintosh. I was old when the first IBM PC was introduced.

Hell, I'm just old.

And now, for two weeks, I've been on Facebook. A newbie again for the first time in a long time, coming late to a technology that everybody else is already using. It's unnerving for me.

So I did what I imagine everybody does. I started looking up people from high school.
And what the heck- I found some!

Hell, I even met up with one the other day and got caught up.

But I'm still not sure what it's all about.

So I asked a friend who is much younger but far more experienced than I in these matters (a self professed Facebook Whore- a term I immediately fell in love with) because I figured that since she's hella smart she could give me the key. And she gave me the key.

Or what I think is the key.

It's for gossip.

Which means that I'm probably the last person Facebook is aimed at. I never know the gossip going around. I'm completely out of the loop. In fact, my neighbors could be sacrificing small animals to Chthlu next door and, unless they made too much noise,
I wouldn't have a clue. And this is a social space where I don't know the rules. Do you friend a 19 year old girl who you work with, or is it as creepy as it feels? Do you just friend everybody you know, like a fisherman with a net (bad joke, bad) and see what you catch? If you die with the most friends on Facebook, do you win?

I just don't know. And I HATE not knowing things.

But, what the hell. I'm going to give it a try. And perhaps that means that the blog can return to it's usual content of lame jokes, indecipherable movie reviews, weird links, obscure science articles, and general crap that nobody reads anyway.

Or maybe I'll just become a Facebook Whore.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

MOVIES- The Social Network, Facebook Part I

So I finally got a chance to catch the late showing of THE SOCIAL NETWORK a couple of weeks ago and it was everything I hoped it would be but not anything more. Of course, it's the story of the founding and the founder of Facebook, and the legal battles that resulted from that. Of course, it's a time capsule for later generations to understand the early years of digital communication and ubiquitous connectivity and connectedness. Of course, it's a history movie about history so recent that the memory is still green, like WWII movies made in the 1940's. Of course, it's David Fincher's first directorial endevour since Benjamin Button and allows him to use what he learned by aging Brad Pitt from old-man infanthood to baby dotage in order to cast two people and one face as a set of twins. Of course, it's Aaron Sorkin's return to docudrama in his first screenplay since CHARLIE WILSON'S WAR as he continues to mine recent history for a chance to improve recent history in the retelling.

Of course, it's a damn good movie, as its 97% rating on Rotten Tomatoes attests.
But is it a great movie? Does it make the transition to being art? Does it enlighten the human condition and make you think about the world and your place in it? Does it provoke discussion and provide insight into the vagaries of life?

Maybe a little. But honestly? Nah, not really.

It's just a damn good movie in a time when damn good movies are becoming more rare than untainted waters in the Gulf of Mexico. A damn fine movie In a time when most television has devolved into endless variations on watching the antics of indigenous troglodytes near the coast of New Jersey; watching people competing on endless game shows that involve either eating bugs or overcoming pointless challenges for the chance to stab each other in the back; watching endless crime procedurals where every room is lit like a disco and characters use fantasy science to arrive at unlikely solutions to unlikely crimes- all the while acting with the subtlety of a 19th century melodrama; or watching mindless sit-coms where various stereotypes are the basis for both the situation and the comedy (nerds are nerdy, bachelors are depraved, fat people are desperate, fathers are stupid, entertainers are neurotic, businessmen are dolts, and low level employees in telephone centers work in India). A damn original movie in a time when most movies have devolved into endless sequels, endless explosions, endless appeals to childhood nostalgia, endless stoner comedies about luckless losers, endless comic book adaptations (possibly an offshoot of the two former categories), and endless sit-coms made for the big screen with big names. Let’s face it. We live in a time when the original is so unusual that a one-off movie with no hope of a sequel or prequel, about something with even a passing resemblance to a reality bigger than what you could find by simply camping out in the parking lot of your local trailer park, winds up being both the most successful and most critically acclaimed movie of the year.

But credit where credit is due... Eighteen months ago, when the idea first was reviled on the internet that a movie about Facebook was going into production, the response was almost uniformly negative. "A movie about a web site?" "How can you make a movie about a web site?" "It's just Hollywood cashing-in on something it doesn't understand." And then Fincher and Sorkin remind us that it's execution and not subject that makes art. And that two talented men can tell a more interesting story about a web site than a horde of untalented ones can about the end of the world.

Of course, I have to start with Aaron Sorkin, the writer. With the disclaimer that I've been an unabashed fan for a long time. Sorkin writes of a fantasy world I wish I lived in. A Narnia where hella-smart people talk in rapid-fire repartee completely unafraid of being terribly clever or devilishly witty. It's a world where the smart-asses have taken over. Sorkin is fully aware of this as in the very first scene one of the characters says to the protagonist that talking to him is like being on a stair-master. Actually, it's more like the verbal equivalent of watching a ping pong match played with bazookas. IMDB reports that it took Jessie Eisenberg 99 takes to finish the scene. Such is the challenge for even excellent actors to reproduce Sorkin's dialogue, and they aren't even making it up as they go along.

And while on the subject of the actors, and the challenge of delivering Sorkin's machine gun words and ideas in a way that makes it seem they are your own, Jessie Eisenberg was an amazing piece of casting for the lead. With this role he cements his place as the thinking man's Micheal Cera- sensitive, dweeby, unlucky-at-love but a little (or a lot) smarter than the average bear. It's been fun to watch Eisenberg's ascension from the Could-have-easily-been-played-by-Cera character in ADVENTURELAND, to the Strangely-contemplative-and-empirical zombie-hunter in ZOMBIELAND, now to the Smartest-guy-in-any-room founder of facebook. However, unlike Cera, Eisenberg doesn’t play the same character in each role.

The other stand-out is, of course, David Fincher. Fincher has a real gift for telling complex stories in a way that is accessible to everyone, while at the same time adding those little visual surprises that remind you he used to make music videos. Scenes like the sculling race in London, that looks like a tilt-shift photograph, hearken back to Edward Norton’s Ikea catalog apartment in Fight Club. But as in Zodiac or Benjamin Button, Norton keeps enough of a lid on his penchant for visual fireworks that it doesn’t become a distraction. Which is a good thing since the multiple time frames and slight tinge of Roshomon-like storytelling might become confusing to audiences who didn’t already know the story.

And I have to take a moment to mention the supporting cast, who are each as perfect as the leads. Andrew Garfield as Edwardo Savarin, Mark Zuckerberg's co-founder, gives a pitch-perfect performance that somehow reminds one of a young Richard Benjamin. And Armie Hammer gets two roles which he pulls off so well that I didn't realize it was only one guy. (Trivia break: Armie Hammer is the great-grandson of Armond Hammer, famous for his baking soda fortune and having parents with a particularly silly sense of humor in naming their son. A sense of humor that seems to be genetic since Armie is also Armond.)

But, for all this talent and wizardry, somehow the end result is still just a very good and not a great movie. If there’s a moral it’s that if you are smart and lucky enough to create something original that might make you rich there will be plenty of people to try to take it away from you. (Just ask Preston Tucker and Leo Farnsworth). If there’s a philosophical question it’s how having an idea is different than actually creating something. (Just ask Jeremy, a character on Sorkin’s television series SPORTSNIGHT who once said “My grandfather invented the clipboard.” “Really,” someone asks. “Well,” Jeremy replies, “he did often complain that he didn’t have a portable writing surface.” If there’s a social more exposed it’s the idea that the rich have a casually nonchalant expectation that they should be the ones that profit from anything they are associated with without having to do any of the work and at the expense of their social inferiors. (Just ask, hell, anybody).

So, while THE SOCIAL NETWORK doesn’t really have anything profound to say, it says what it does have to say in such an entertaining way that it’s well worth a look.

And yah, my own fannish love for everyone associated with it aside, it's a great movie.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Fan Films- Batman

I'll never see Batman again the same way since I met my best friend fifteen years ago. He is BATMAN. He's the God damned Batman! It's funny. I was always Superman. Bigger, stronger, smarter, and more alienated than my contemporaries growing up. He was smarter, more disciplined, more touched by tragedy.

This is for him. The best Batman fan film since Batman: Dead End (do a Google search, it's worth it).

And contribute to the charity the film is pimping. It's a pretty good cause. If you want to be a hero.

Uploaded by Batinthesun. - Full seasons and entire episodes online.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Music- Lessons

Ever since I was a small child I've wondered if everything in a world is just a projection to see how I would react to it. I'm sure I'm not alone in this. The only subjective reality is what you perceive and everything else is just your interpretation of it. It's Plato's metaphor of the cave.

On of the things that has kept me from dismissing this viewpoint is the wild coincidence that music I like sometimes comes back to slap me in the face with what it's saying years after I've forgotten about it. I couldn't have known it was going to teach me something when I fell in love with it but there it is, years later, reminding me that it said something I would need to hear years before I needed to hear it.

Let me tell you a little story. When I was in college I fell in love with a woman. Our relationship progressed and eventually I was ready to move in with her. At that point she suddenly became distant and I learned it was because she (without being honest enough to just tell me outright) had gotten back together with an old boyfriend.

I was heart-broken. I had never been jilted by a lover, let alone cuckolded! Yet, after much crying and soul-searching, I picked myself up and continued with my life. She disappeared and I finished school. One of my last clinical projects was to spend two weeks at a state mental hospital in McClenny, Fl. When I returned home and returned to work my charge nurse (who was also my roomate) took me outside during a break and told me that she had called while I was gone. Over the next few weeks she called several times.

But I began to piece together some things that didn't make sense. She said that she wasn't with the man she had left me for, yet she was living in his mother's house. She only called me from work and wouldn't give me her home phone number. She was vague about what she was doing and what was going on in her life. Eventually I came right out and asked her. "Are you still living with -----?" Yes, she was. I told her that I wasn't interested in playing the same role in her relationship with him that he had in ours and she was welcome never to call me again.

I thought that was the end of it.

Until three months later when she showed up on my doorstep.

Sure, I should have known better. God knows all my friends told me she was nothing but trouble (more unanimity than I had ever known them to show before). But, what can I say. I was young. I was a romantic. I thought that what we had was true love.

In short, I was stupid.

I was in love.

So, a year later, we got married.

Over the next twenty years I supported her and her three children. Paid for her to go to college (she flunked out). Set her up in her own Real Estate Business (she never sold a house). Begged her not to ruin her children through a combination of enablement and bad parenting (her daughter was arrested for the first time at 10 years old for shoplifting and spent the majority of her teen aged years in reform school). Bought her the first new car she had ever owned. Bought her the first house she ever owned. Tried to be the best husband and father to her children I could be.

And the whole while begged her to stop being emotionally unavailable and stop belittling me at all times.

Then one day while I was at work I got a phone call. "I just wanted to know that you were alright." "Yeah, sure. See you tonight."

Except when I got home that night what I found was that she had taken everything she wanted from the house, emptied out our bank accounts (including the profits from a house we had just sold in Colorado), and told me that she was leaving with a message on my voice mail.

Still, I let her go. Two months later I called my step-son and told him that I was filing for divorce, he ought to tell his mother. I hadn't heard from her. I didn't know where she was. I just didn't think it was right to divorce her without at least letting her know.

A week later she was naked on my living room rug.

Yeah. I know. I'm usually a very logical person. My only excuse is that I was deeply, passionately, head-over-heels in love with this woman the whole twenty years I was with her. In spite of being used and abused, cheated on, lied to, and stolen from, none of it changed the way I felt about her.

Over the next three years I tried to reconsile with her. Even when I found out that she was cheating on me again. Even when she lied to me about it. The bottom line was that I wasn't ready to quit making excuses for the way she acted.

Eventually she did one thing too many and I had to admit that I was just being stubborn. She wasn't ever worth what I invested in her and I had to finally admit that she was just what she was- not what I wanted her to be.

Since then things had gotten a lot better. I've fallen in love with a woman who is everything any man would want. She's beautiful, tall, willowy, caring, financially secure, and 16 years my junior. She's put up with a lot of shit that she doesn't deserve from the damage done by my last relationship and yet she seems to love me for who I am and not be afraid to show it.

But about music teaching you things you don't know you need to learn yet. Here's a song I liked long before I met my ex-wife that perfectly taught me a lesson I didn't know I needed to learn for a long time.

(BTW, the last nasty thing she did to me was just last week when I realized that my mortgage company had stopped sending me statements for the last few months. When I called them about it they informed me that she had changed the address on the account to her P.O. Box! I called her and asked why she would do such a thing and, in typical form, she told me the bald-faced lie that she had never done any such thing. Yeah. That's it. Now my bank is lying on her to make her look bad! It's completely conincidence that she used to work for that bank and knows their services inside out.

They say that one possible definition of a sociopath is that they don't see anything wrong with lying to you and can't figure out why you would see anything wrong with them lying to you either.)


Following my post about Michael Hedges, I want to introduce you to another dead poet and songwriter. I fell in love with Jim Croce when I was just a child, not nearly old enough to know how profound his lyrics were.

Here's one song that proves my point...

And any man who has given everything for a woman and hung on the cross to pay for every sin of her old lovers knows what this song is about.

But my fave has to be this story-song about a man on the road who still pines for a lost love who threw him over for his best friend.

But Croche wasn't all about unrequited love or broken romances. He wrote some of the most sublime love songs ever penned. Such as this...

And there were things that were just for fun...