Friday, September 25, 2009

Bryan Cranston And Emmy Voters Will Be Welcomed Into The BatCave: Stay Out Of My Territory

Bryan Cranston won again. It restores one's faith in mankind.

Who would have guessed, years ago, that the dad from Malcolm in the Middle would end up being like the coolest motherfucker alive?

There is absolutely no question that, along with Dexter, Breaking Bad is one of the two best shows currently in production.

There are surprises at every single turn and not a single one of them feels forced.

Everything that happens grows organically from our protagonist, played with an unheard of credibility by Cranston.

The fact that Bryan Cranston has won two Emmys in a row is very heartening. Maybe the world doesn't have as bad taste as I thought.

Christ, he's the only actor I know who can play that contradiction that is an emotionally vulnerable bad-ass.

I'm tagging this post film instead of TV just because Breaking Bad is actually better than most moving abortions of sadly incompetent storytelling masquerading as television and films being cranked out today.

Bryan Cranston, Verily, I say to thee, this day (well, not this day but when the time comes) shalt thou be with me in the BatCave.

And if you care, I'm listening to:

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

I Guess I Can't Argue With You There

Okay, you win.

And in case you care, I'm listening to:

I Heart Protesters

Oh God, why did we put her in that Chinese nursing home?

Monday, September 21, 2009

One Without The Other

Mr. President, I really want to support you.

I do.

But if you pass an individual mandate for everyone to carry Medical insurance, you have to accompany it with a public option and an employer mandate.

And please stop saying that this mandate is comparable to the requirement for every driver to carry auto insurance. That requirement is to offset liability for harm that you might accidentally cause somebody else.

Huge difference.

You don't have to compromise the way the Clinton administration did.

You have the majority.

You have the upper hand.

Is it so outrageous to ask you to put the single payer option back on the table?

Please don't give away so much that this reform turns into a payday for insurance companies and a screwing for the poor.

Actually, as long as I'm asking for things, is there any way I can talk you into having an intern break into Senator Baucus' office and take a shit on his desk?

Workers Unite!

And, in case anyone cares, I'm listening to:

A Reasonable Parson

This was encouraging.

Reverend Tchividjian, grandson of Billy Graham gets to keep his job at Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church in Fort Lauderdale.

Coral Ridge, under Rev. D. James Kennedy was a fiercely political voice of opposition to both reproductive rights and gay rights.

Rev. Tchividjian, like his grandfather, believes that the primary function of a church is to meet the spiritual needs of its congregation, not a cynical political tool.

Naturally, this does not sit well with some worshipers.

Six church members organized an effort to oust Rev. Tchividjian, calling his leadership a "disaster" claiming that he has shown "a complete lack of respect."

The church voted to keep Rev. Tchividjian by more than a two-to-one margin.

So more Christians than we realize believe that the church is more than just another group of conservative lobbyists.

Once again, this is encouraging.

And if it matters, I'm listening to:

And later, I plan to listen to:

The Tattooed Girl by Joyce Carol Oates

The Tattooed Girl by Joyce Carol Oates is quite simply a horrifying, heartbreaking story.

It actually recalls the underhanded sadism that was in Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been, which just so happened to be my introduction to Oates.

It's haunted me ever since I read it.

This story will in turns surprise, repulse and touch you.

Early in the book, we are introduced to a character, Dmitri the waiter, who doesn’t seem like a bad guy at first, and then, as Oates gradually and methodically peels back his layers, we are shocked to find that he is truly and evil fuck.

His brutality is truly sickening and through his character, Oates manages to do the impossible. As I was reading one passage, I felt ashamed of myself.

Not because I had done anything even close to that, but because I was a man.

Or rather because I was human.

The characters in this book are more than dysfunctional; they are simply broken.

It’s odd but strangely touching how two people, so fucked up they could hardly pass for rational develop this kind of affection, friendship, love and then complete dependency.

This book is filled with surprises and I’m not talking about show-offy twists in the vein of Shyamalan or Palahniuk, (although I do think Palahniuk is the exception to the rule as far as dramatic surprises go. He is one of the few that can pull it off and make it feel organic.)

Oates amazed me with how quickly the hatred of her characters can turn to love and vice versa.

She offers insight into why some people love monsters unconditionally.

Another surprise is the tender romance that blossoms between Joshua Siegl and Sondra Blumenthal, who is pretty much the only functional character in this story.

What sets Oates apart is that most writers feel a need to define their characters whereas Oates realizes that this is not always possible since most people don’t know who they are themselves.

Still, she treats her characters with an affection and delicacy that is so rare in an age of mostly cynical and sarcastic art.

This, like Oates' Black Water,' is an incredible, devastating novel and seriously, whether you’ve read Oates or not, whether you’ve liked her before or not, give this one a shot because not only does Oates understand the craft of writing better than most writers, she understand what it means to be human more than most people.

Joker, 100 Bullets & Azarello vs. Miller

So I picked up Joker by Brian Azzarello &Lee Bermajo at Half Price Books for like $9.

I devoured it immediately.

First, the artwork by Bermajo is just some of the best work I have ever seen.

I could put the story aside entirely and spend hours going through the book, just staring at the pictures. Look at the Joker's mouth on the cover art. It's scary as hell.

I had never read anything of Azzarello's before, but I had heard good things about 100 Bullets.

I don't think I had gotten more than four or five pages into Joker before I decided that I was going to buy every issue or graphic novel of 100 Bullets I could get my hands on.

Azzarello has that fundamental skill that so many writers are lacking. He knows how to tell a story and even better than that, he can give us characters that are rich and surprising.

And offering the reader any kind of a surprise when you're working with characters that we've all known for decades from other comics, graphic novels, TV shows, movies and even music is especially challenging.

When Joker opens up, our favorite comic book sociopath has just been inexplicably released from Arkham Asylum.

The book never explains why he was let out and, for what the focus of the story is, it doesn't matter.

Azzarello seems to understand that here, it would be unnecessary exposition.

What follows is just an insane ride seen through the eyes of one of the Joker's wannabe goons. Our bumbling protagonist, like us, doesn't know where he's going.

We're all of us just following the Joker out of loyalty, thrill-seeking or just curiosity to see what the crazy bastard is going to do next, who knows?

Suffice it to say that it's worth seeking out and it's worth shelling out the sticker price. This ranks up there with the great graphic novels and, in my humble opinion, beats the hell out of Frank Miller's The Dark Knight Returns.
Although when the Joker takes aim at Batman in The Dark Knight Returns and simply mutters the word, 'darling' under his breath before he fires still stands as possibly my favorite comic book moment ever.
Now, it was on to 100 Bullets.

Quick run down of the premise.

Somebody is wronged and a mystery man appears, offering a gun, evidence against whoever fucked them over, 100 bullets and a guarantee of impunity should they opt for revenge.

A friend at work, (hi, Jennifer!) was kind enough to loan me the first of the graphic novels, First Shot, Last Call, which contains two stories.

In the first, a woman is released from prison and on her way home to an empty house since her husband and son were killed during her incarceration.

And the rest of the story is her coming to grips with what happened and deciding whether or not to take advantage of the generous offer of revenge that has been offered to her on a silver platter.

The second story revolves around a bartender who has lost his entire life because he was framed as a pedophile.

Again, he is offered evidence as to who set him up along with a gun, some ammo and a promise of absolution.

The two heroes/anti-heroes take different paths with alternately exhilerating and devastating results.

And now, I have to read every other 100 Bullets comic/graphic novel out there.

I hereby declare Azzarallo to be the shit.
And in case you care, I'm listening to:

Friday, September 18, 2009

Classism At Its Worst: Indulging My Inner-Childish-Name-Caller

Warning. If you read this, you're not going to find much if you're looking at coherent arguments. If that's what you want, look at my previous post.

I just wanted to take some time here to verbally abuse my new least favorite person, Senator Max Baucus. So you've been warned. This is going to get very immature very fast.

Dear Senator Baucus, you pompous, elitist shit-slurpee sipping, anal-licking, hollowed out shit of a man,
Go fuck a donkey, you bloated, disconnected, classist fuck.

Go play for the other team.

You're seriously proposing a mandate on individuals to carry health insurance without providing them with it?

Are you actually trying to make it worse for the working class or have you really not been paying attention enough to see that as you compromise, point by point, you're not just diluting reform, but subverting it?
Does the insurance industry have pictures of you jerking off a poodle and sucking a llama?

This is one fuck of a payday you're handing them and one fuck of a burden you're putting on the poor.

Does the insurance lobby maybe have its fist so far up your ass that it's using you as a ventriloquist dummy, you candy-ass corporate cunt? Does Aetna's arm smell like Max Baucus' shit from the elbow down? I'll bet it does, you fucktard of a walking abortion.

Not to say that I wish you had never been born, but if I could give any person any gift, I'd get your mother a gift card to Planned Parenthood and a time machine.

If only abortion was legal through the 280th trimester.

So come up with something we can use, you rusty tromboning motherfucker.

Because we need health care as soon as possible so we can deal with the nasty syphilis your mom has been spreading across the Midwest. It's getting to be more of a problem than H1N1, you goat-sucking Jesus-banger.

And, in case anybody cares, I'm listening to:

Wednesday, September 16, 2009


Couple of quick points.

First, stop asking who's going to pay for health care. I get sodomized bi-weekly by Aetna to the tune of $160. That's more than Social Security, state, federal and city taxes combined. I'm already paying. Something tells me that if there were a public option, my family could be covered for less than $320 per month out of my pocket, not to mention co-pays and deductible.

Also, and this is very important, so pay attention, any mandate on citizens to carry health insurance MUST be accompanied by a public option. Otherwise, so-called reform is a win for insurance companies and a huge 'fuck you' to poor people.

Christ, we're compromising so much that not only is reform going to be meaningless, but under Baucus' new plan it's going to make things even worse for the uninsured.

Last point. Health Care isn't a privilege and shouldn't be treated as such. It is a basic human right. If the wealthiest country on earth refuses to provide every one living in the country with health care, this is the height of greed and gluttony.

That's two out of the seven deadly sins for those of who who are still holding onto the insane notion that conservative ideology is in line with Biblical teaching.

Because when you look past all the arguments and finances and logistics, we are faced with the simple fact that denying care for people who can't afford it is just sinful.

As a Socialist, I frequently vote for Democratic candidates, but in all seriousness, if the Democrats can't get Health Care passed, I'm out.

Tell me I'm throwing away my vote, but how can I support a party that is either so impotent or incompetent that they can't push through free health care for everybody even with the overwhelming majority they have?

So, we wait and see what happens.

Nobody is even talking about what ought to be done and that is expand Medicare and Medicaid to cover every American, period. Remember when Socialized Medicine was actually part of the Democratic platform?

Taking a single payer system off the table was bad enough, even though the Americans on Medicare & Medicaid are happier with their coverage than anyone else. If a Health Care bill passes through without a public option, I'm officially out.

Workers Unite!

And if any of you care, I'm listening to:

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

#42: 13 Tzameti – Gela Babluani (2005)

If Truffaut had made a film based on an original screenplay by Shirley Jackson, it would go something like this.

This film is goddamn near perfect.

You could attribute aspects of it to any number of films, novels, stories, directors, whatever, but what we end up with is a jarring hour and a half of we-dare-you-to-look-away.

As we follow our 'hero' for lack of a better word, we don’t know what is going on any more than he does.

And, as it slowly dawns on him what he’s in for, his eyes grow wider at the same pace that we find ourselves with that dropping feeling in the pit of our stomachs like plunging down the first dive on a roller coaster, knowing that it had just failed a safety inspection.

Truffaut, in all his ordinary glory, (If you can’t tell whether or not that was a compliment, I assure you that it is.) had his protagonists almost sleepwalking through their lives as we watch.

Truffaut's heroes are observers, like Hitchcock's everyman only without the weird and dangerous shit happening.

And our Sebastian is set up as an observer until he suddenly, in a shocking first round to a game that he had no idea he was going to have to play, he realizes that he’s actually one of the ones on show in this morbid story.

Watch this movie. You’ve probably never heard of it.

I don’t care. Find it and watch it. Hell, the poster art is worth the price of admission.

And, in case you care, I’m listening to:

Monday, September 14, 2009

Eden Lake – James Watkins (2008)

Eden Lake has a very familiar plot but it manages to distinguish itself from the likes of Wolf Creek and other generic ‘lost-in-the-woods-please-somebody-save-us-from-these-sadists’ pics.

First, Kelly Reilly’s performance as the damsel in distress who shifts from victim waiting to be picked off to bad-ass motherfucker ready to fuck these vicious bastards up is believable.

Second, each member in the gang of punk kids has their own separate personality, which most screenwriters don’t bother with. And the leader of the gang is unusually cruel, even for movies like this.

And lastly, the film is actually saying something about the complicity of inaction.

The two most disturbing sequences in the film come when the leader of the gang makes everyone take the knife to one of the victims, though it’s clear most of them don’t want to.

It’s equally clear that those who want out could easily overpower those who want to keep going, but they don’t.

The second very chilling sequencing is the last when our heroine stumbles onto the parents of these kids.

Having said all of this and giving this film a great deal of credit, I’m not sure if I actually liked it or not. I am pretty sure I did not enjoy it.

However, it certainly stuck with me and giving me the satisfaction I wanted by seeing the bad guys get their comeuppance by meeting a grizzly and bloody certainly would have been gratifying, but it would have undermined the whole point of the film.

I do recommend it, though, but only for fans of either horror or art films.

There are elements of both Lord of the Flies and Wrong Turn (how’s that for a fucking mix?) here.

Just expect to be haunted for a day or so after watching it. Maybe have something like Superbad on deck to watch if you need to get the taste of this one out of your brain.

And, just in case you care, I'm listening to

Saturday, September 12, 2009

District 9 - Neill Blomkamp (2009)

The most striking thing about this film is just the simple fact that it exists. Frankly, I am amazed this movie ever found financing.

If someone had come into my office (assuming I was an investor or producer or whatever) and said, "Okay hear me out, this movie is gonna be the shit. It's like War of the Worlds meets Schindler's List," I would have said, "Get out of my office! No, wait, don't move first I have to come out from around my desk, come over there and slap you with my dick. Not because I enjoy slapping people with my dick, but I think you just need to be slapped with a dick. War of the Worlds meets Schindler's List, what the hell is the matter with you? Get out! No, wait, I almost forgot about the dick slapping."

But as it turns out, I would have been wrong.

From the very beginning, this film unravels slowly, showing you just a little bit at a time to keep you wondering who's got the upper hand on who.

First, the obvious. I loved this film's protagonist. He moves from pocket-protector-wearing nerd to bureaucratic bully to victim and finally to bad motherfucker alien/robot hybrid thingy seamlessly.

Watching this doofus just throw down in the third act of the movie was nothing short of priceless.

What really sells this movie is that it is one of those rare science fiction films that truly understands the craft of social criticism.

Coming off of eight years of some of the worst abuses of power in American history, District 9 might have arrived a few years late, but hell, you can't have everything.

What the film captures so distinctly is the absolute hubris of what we call civilized society.

In District 9, we encounter a society who we know has mastered both intergalactic travel and bio-weaponry so advanced, you have to have the right DNA just to fire their guns. Yet the political and military leaders are convinced that this society is lazy and stupid.

And that's the single treasure of this film. It says more about human arrogance in its 100 or so minutes than could ever be said in a million op-ed pieces.

So, I’m just immensely grateful that whoever green-lit this film did so which just proves the old adage: Measure twice, slap with a dick once.

And, if you care I'm listening to: