Thursday, July 26, 2012

A Malazan Roadmap.

Now, before anyone jumps me.. I apologize if I've made any errors.. and will happily fix them.. but from what I can gather and from what I've read this is more or less how the series lays out or is projected to lay out.. once the last of Ian Cameron Esselmont's "Malazan Empire" novels are finished..

Red: Steven Erikson
Blue: Ian Cameron Esslemont

Friday, July 20, 2012

Summer Spectacle Stupor.

Caution: There may be spoilers.

This year, is a truly epic year for summer spectacle movies. This is the aftermath of the Hollywood writers strike from a few years ago, which provided us with such gems as "Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen".. projects which were rushed into production with half finished scripts or re-purposed scripts from unrelated projects in an effort to not have to work out a deal with the screen writers guild, and an effort not to delay releases. TV suffered, Movies Suffered, it all suffered..and it's effected lingered.

Now though, that's far enough behind us that we are back to where we were before, except, now, with a bigger budget. A much bigger budget.

I'm writing now after having just viewed a screening of the entire Nolan-Verse Batman Trilogy, and with this 3rd installment there is no second guessing that nomenclature. It is a trilogy, parts 1 and 3 feed of of each other as much as part two fed off part 1 and part 3 fed off part 2. If it weren't for the 8 year time gap between 2 & 3, I'd almost say they could be 3 acts of a single film. A truly epic Batman going from Das Rheingold to Gotterdammerung.

In reality it still feels that way. The Dark Knight rises is so bleak, so disheartening, so soul crushing in so many scenes, that it begins to wear the audience down and make you wish for the psychopathic Joker since at least he did all these things to try and make a point about humanity.. Bane just does it, well he does it for a different reason but if I told you the reason it would be a spoiler...but at the end.. you feel a little beaten down. Making the Dark Knight Rises something of a great counterpoint to the summers other big comic book movie, The Avengers.

This comparison is unavoidable, rival comic book companies competing for decades not withstanding, the penultimate action of both films billionaire playboy philanthropists with fancy toys practically mirror each other. Both films finale involves these characters trying to get rid of a nuclear weapon and nearly being killed in the process. Where as Tony Stark/ Iron Man survives, with a little assistance from the Hulk's vocal chords.. Bruce Wayne/Batman doesn't.  In a way the two characters are already something of a mirror verse version of each other. Both are brilliantly minded, insanely wealthy, ostentatious and don't always manage to do the right thing. The key difference is, Iron Man is always subordinate to Tony Stark.. as he asserts multiple times "I am Iron Man", But Batman.. is the obverse of that. Bruce Wayne is a mask which Batman wears.

The other difference is, where as Batman relentlessly beats you down, taking a perverse glee in letting you know that everything could in fact be a lot worse than it is.. Avengers spends its entire length trying to build you up. Even when things look the most hopeless, the characters never throw their hands up and hide inside. I wonder if maybe Mathew Modine's character in the TDKR didn't watch the Avengers before putting on his dress blues and going back out into the face of uncertainty. In other words, TDKR is a film which explains why films such as the Avengers need to exist.

They aren't in opposition to one another. They are actually complimentary. The Avengers uhh.. whatever it is.. , The Dark Knight Trilogy.. They compliment each other.  Batman shows us how a hero is created, crafted, built, falls, is redeemed, and is eventually killed. The Avengers shows us why Heros are so important.


After having written this post last night and set it up to autopost today, I thought I needed to come back and at least touch on the events which occurred at a theater in Colorado.  200+ people calmly watching the Dark Knight Rises were violently attacked by a deranged man. 12 died and 70 were wounded. I'll leave the pontificating on what caused this or the shooters motivations to other more interested parties, all I want to say is that he has yet again shown how badly the world needs heroes, how badly the world needs good people who are not willing to be silent and allow bad things to happen. But he's also proven how fragile our society is, how easy it is to manipulate, and bring to great harm. He is a coward for attacking a theatre full of people just trying to enjoy their movie, and I hope the state of Colorado swiftly finds him guilty of these heinous crimes.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

...I've got myself a plan!

So, since all of my other plans for the summer fell through. My plans to go to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, my plan to go to a LARP in Raleigh.. all of it.. It just got sucked down the drain. Who cares.

I've got something better now.

Being born in 85, scant months before they performed a single set at Live Aid, and 5 years after the band had broken up, I only have experienced Led Zeppelin through CD's and videos. Sure I've heard my mom and dad talk about how fantastic they were live.. but that doesn't do me a lot of good.

If you've ever seen the film "Almost Famous", I'm kind of like the kid that Jay Baruchael plays in that..

While it's not the real deal, there is a world renowned LZ cover band known as Zoso. They perform about 100+ shows a year all over the world. They do a HUGE set, spanning the entire catalog of the band.

This year, there are 3 shows all within 2 hours of me.

Wednesday, 8/15
Athens, GA
Friday, 8/17
Greenville, SC
Saturday, 8/18
Buford, GA

Since all my other summer plans got shot down.. I'm going to go to all three of these shows.

Sure, it won't be the same, But it's the closest I'm going to get to experiencing the real band.

I can't wait. And it's going to be a heck of a last weekend before classes start on the 20th! 

Friday, July 6, 2012

A King has his reign..

Dwight Allen may be aiming to be the Jaimie Lannister of Salon magazine with his recent admission that he just doesn't "Get" why Stephen King is so gosh darn popular (READ WHAT I LIKE, DAMMIT!). This rambling essay, mainly feeling like something you'd get out of a highschool kid who really really wanted to make sure you knew how smart he was, doesn't do anything for the author to prove his point, except illustrate he went into reading King already knowing he wasn't going to like him. Fair enough. King isn't for everyone, but he is for most people, a producer of great reads. After about a thousand words of self aggrandizing, name dropping, and constantly reffering to just how high brow and litterary his tastes are.. Allen does eventually get to the point where he feels he can quit writing about just how much more intelligent his tastes in books makes him feel.

I like to think that maybe, he was doing it to be ironic, since he just accused King of writing bloated and meandering works.. that he chose consciously to do the same with his little story.. still more kind to King than Harold Bloom has ever been.

The bit that really got me though, was this line at the end,

"After you’ve read Roberto Bolaño and Denis Johnson and David Foster Wallace and Thomas Pynchon, [...] why would you return to Stephen King? " 

Well, gee whiz Dwight, I have no idea. Oh, here's one, just to try on for size.. maybe it's because, unlike Wallace (Seriously, read this dudes Syllabus for his students.. talk about pedantry) and Johnson and Pynchon (All writers I've read, some of which I even enjoyed, I'm not going to talk about Bolano as I've not read him) aren't really all that much fun. Reading Johnson, Pynchon, or Wallace is to much like work, and unlike Dwight, I don't get paid for reading and writing.  Johnson, to his credit, does write some entertaining stuff, but Wallace and Pynchon are mostly incoherent and are seemingly more obsessed with stringing together obtuse, but technically correct sentences than they are about telling a story. For me, Books are an alternative form of entertainment, and King is entertaining. 

But, really, none of this is surprising, a litterari snubs a popular author, the world turns, stars go nova, and the Higgs-Boson gives them all mass. 

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Jeff, Who lives at home.

A film starring Jason Segel (I love you man, How I met your Mother, Freaks And Geeks), Ed Helms (The Hangover) and Susan Sarandon (do I really need to tell you?) which while advertized as a comedy, is actually probably one of the most curiously life affirming films I've seen.

Jeff (Segel), is a 30+ year old stoner, lay about, loser, who litterally does live in his mother's (Sarandon) basement. His older brother, Pat (Helms) manages a paint store and his marriage is on the rocks. The film starts with Jeff explaining how deep he finds the M. Night Shamalyan film "Signs", and how it exemplifies his philosophy of interconnectedness, how the fact the little girl is incapable of finishing a glass of water and leaves them all over the house ultimately saves the family. This may at first seem like typical stoner blithering.. the sort of thing we've seen Segel do a dozen times before. It's not. And Jeff is really as earnest as he comes across as.

The story begins with him getting high, and then receiving a wrong number from some one looking for a man named Kevin. Jeff, who is supposed to go to Home Depot to buy some wood glue, keeps seeing a young man in a jersey with Kevin emblazoned on the back, while on his trip to the DIY store. He eventually gets into an alteraction with the young man, and gets kicked off the bus.. where he runs into his older brother Pat who is at Hooter's trying to convince himself that his marriage isn't falling apart.

All sorts of mis-adventures occur, eventually culminating in them being on a bridge stuck in traffic.  He makes the comment "Do you ever the have the feeling that you've been waiting for your destiny.. but when it gets here it isn't really all that exciting?".. and then, sensing something is amiss, Jeff notices a life flight helicopter coming in to land. He gets out of the car and runs down the bridge, finding there has been an accident and a car has plunged into the water under the bridge with kids trapped inside he jumps in. Rescuing two children and their father and nearly dieing in the process.

In the end the film almost hits the same notes that "It's a wonderful life" hits. where the main character is shown what the world would be like to those who know him if he didn't exist. But the film hits these notes with a different tone. Instead of having a character who is ready to commit suicide out of unhappiness, this film features a character who is content with his lay about lifestyle.. because he knows that deep down everyone is important and everyone has some part to play.. he's content to simply wait for his cue to come on stage, and then retire once it's been played. The movie wants us to come away realizing that, yes, for all intents and purposes Jeff is a loser. He smokes dope and eats crackers in his boxers and has absolutely no ambition, but without him, 3 people would have died. It might seem preposterous, but things like this do happen in real life.

Curiously it reminded me of this passage from the Elder Edda poem Havamal.

Not all sick men are utterly wretched:
Some are blessed with sons,
Some with friends,
some with riches,
Some with worthy works.