Monday, May 26, 2008

Florida Bound

In a few hours I will be on my way to the airport for the sunny, hot, devastatingly muggy, blistering 90-degree weather of Orlando. I can't wait to sweat for a week.

Anyway, going black until next weekend.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

I've Found Christ!

But it's not the one you're thinking of.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Non-Oprah Book Club: The Horse Latitudes

This is one of those special surprise books. I remember that I was looking through the small book selection of my hometown drug strore, Laverdier's - one of the only "bookstores" in town, when I came upon this neon cover. It definitely stood out from the rest of the paperbacks. I picked it up and read the back; it reminded me a little of the few Elmore Leonard books I had read at the time. I bought it, probably went and played a couple of games of Hipoodrome in the arcade next door and went home to read.

That summer, there were two books that I read cover to back without taking a break: The Cider House Rules and The Horse Latitudes. I loved the book, but it was years before I saw another book by Robert Ferrigno. Back before Amazon and Borders, there were small bookstores scattered here and there where I lived; but they really didn't have a huge selection - and the selection at Laverdier's and Doug's Shop 'n Save didn't offer much.

If you've never read it, the book is a violent story of a drug dealer accused of a murder that involves his ex-wife. He has to get to the bottom of a scheme that involves a scientific breakthrough. And as savage as the novel is, it is also pretty funny, especially the bumbling of two thick-necked goons who have about a half of a brain between them.

Thursday, May 22, 2008


I'm very excited because I won the daily Craption contest on If you go to the main page today, you'll see my entry in the upper right corner. Or you can go here to see it anytime.

And yes, I do have a demented sense of humor.

Monday, May 19, 2008

I Don't Think This Has Anything to Do With Science

But it sure is fucking funny. I can't believe this idiot volunteered for this.


The tag: (from Patti Abbott)

1. The rules of the game get posted at the beginning.
2. Each player answers the questions about themselves.
3. At the end of the post, the player then tags 5-6 people and posts their names, then goes to their blogs and leaves them a comment, letting them know they’ve been tagged and asking them to read the player’s blog. [I'll leave this open to whomever wants to join in the fun. But do let me know if decide to participate.]
4. Let the person who tagged you know when you’ve posted your answer.

A Meme about Various Things

What were you doing ten years ago?
I was living in Portland (Maine), working as a reporter for a very old, very mean publisher - and I absolutely hated it.

What are five things on your to-do list for today (not in any particular order)?
Finish any leftover work I need to do before heading to Orlando next monday. Schedule a shitload of business trips I have to take in June (not counting the one in Florida). Figure out what the hell is wrong with the office website. Start thinking about what to pack for the trip next week. Re-edits on a story.

What are some snacks you enjoy?
Swedish fish, Twizzlers, spoon of peanut butter straight out of the jar.

What would you do if you were a billionaire?
Go to film school, then write and direct a movie or two.

What are five places where you have lived?
Maine. Maine. Maine. Maine. Maine.

What are five jobs you have had?
Reporter, Marketing Research Coordinator, Bag boy, House boy, Mill worker.

What were the last five books you read?
Tristram Shandy (Laurence Sterne). King of Lies (John Hart). Hardcore Hardboiled (various, including me!). Hollywood Station (Joseph Wambaugh). Murder on the Orient Express (Agatha Christie).

What are five web sites you visit daily (in no particular order)?
Ain't It Cool News
Huffington Report
New York TImes

Neglected Film: Frantic

With the fourth Indiana Jones movie coming out (I've already decided to go to the midnight show on Wednesday night) I thought I would highlight one of Harrison Ford's most underrated films.

After Ford received an Oscar nomination for 1985's Witness it seemed that he was trying to repeat that success by taking roles that screamed, "give me another nomination." There were fantastic films during this period, such as Presumed Innocent and The Mosquito Coast along with pretty mediocre fare like Regarding Henry (a film that proves that J.J. Abrams, who wrote the screenplay, is a complete hack). Despite Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade in 1989, Ford shunned the audience pleasers that made his career until it seems he just said "fuck it" and became Jack Ryan in 1992's Patriot Games, signifying an end to his quest for Oscar. But between 1985 and 1992, Ford went to work with some of the greatest film directors working at the time. Mike Nichols, Peter Weir, Alan J. Pakula; and in 1988, Roman Polanski with Frantic.

The movie is a modern Hitchcock tale. You have the unsuspecting hero out of his element, the MacGuffin, the twists and turns, etc. Ford plays an American doctor vacationing with his wife (Betty Buckley) in Paris. Within hours of landing in France, Buckley is kidnapped and Ford finds himself mixed up with international terrorists. It seems his wife picked up the wrong suitcase at the airport. Soon the American doctor joins up with the only person who can help him, a beautiful smuggler (Emmanuelle Seigner) who brought the MacGuffin from the United States.

An interesting aspect of the film is that it is from the American's point of view, but directed by a European, which gives the movie a more European feel. Though it was probably unintentional, the effect can be very scrambling, immitating the confusion Ford's character feels.

The film received moderately good reviews, however they were very mixed. And it never found any appreciation with moviegoers.

And, as always, I send out an open meme to everyone to write about a neglected film. If you do one, let me know and I'll link it here.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Non-Oprah Book Club: Splinter of the Mind's Eye

OK, this book isn't anyone's idea of high literature, but it was one of my favorites growing up. Truth be told, I haven't read it since probably junior high, and my tastes have matured since then (maybe) so re-reading it today would most likely prove it to be disappointing.

Star Wars was the center of my childhood. My grandparents took me to the first movie in 1977 when I was almost four years old - it's the first movie I remember seeing in the theater; I had just about every toy Kenner produced; I've seen each of the original three movies at least 200 times each... and my childhood pretty much died when The Phantom Menace was released. But since the Star Wars universe was a major part of my life when I was a kid, I grabbed hold of anything related to the movies, included Splinter of the Mind's Eye by Alan Dean Foster.

The book is a sequel of sorts to the first Star Wars movie (god help me, I will never ever be so moronic as to refer to the first movie as A New Hope). And if you read it (or find a used copy of it somewhere and read it now) you realized that it was conceived and written before Empire and Jedi were even considered. Or, if it wasn't, then George Lucas has some major problems. You see, the creepiest thing about the book is the sexual tension between Luke and Leia. Yeah, that's right - and Lucas has said that he's always had the whole story mapped out, including the whole brother and sister thing. So, if they had done it, their kids would have the power of the Force and an extra chromosome. When you think about it, that would be pretty cool - a powerful Jedi with retard strength. But then again, you'd have this touched child running around Hoth doing face plants in the snow and screaming, "Ice Cream! Ice Cream!" Or walking around the sand dunes of Tatooine telling everyone, "I went poo poo like a kitty."

Anyway, I really liked the book when I was a kid, so I thought I'd mention it here.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

The Creative Process

So few videos come close to the essence of the creative process. (Warning: This is in no way suitable for any work environment, so keep the volume way down.)

I think my favorite part is that they're listening to the Indigo Girls.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Neglected Films: Tristram Shandy: A Cock and Bull Story

OK, when I originally envisioned this segment I thought I'd highlight older movies that have been lost over a number of years, however, I thought I'd include a movie that I actually watched last night. Now, this film was very much neglected when it was released a few years ago, in fact I think its total box office was somewhere in the neighborhood of $3 - someone got in for a half-price matinee.

Anyway, it's a shame because Tristram Shandy: A Cock and Bull Story is incredibly smart and incredibly brilliant. It's part adaptation of the unfilmable novel The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman, which many believe to be a metafiction book 200 years ahead of its time, and part faux documentary on the filming of the movie. The whole film is a metafiction on filmmaking.

Actor Steve Coogan plays Steve Coogan, actor; a more or less fictionalized version of himself. He's insecure, childish and ultimately funny as hell. It certainly took a lot of guts to pull off this character. There are a few others who also play "themselves" in the movie, such as Gillian Anderson, but they aren't as painfully awkward as Coogan.

The movie was directed by Michael Winterbottom who has had a very interesting career to say the least (A great movie of his to check out, which belongs here too, is Welcome to Sarajevo). He is someone who's more interested in experimenting with filmmaking rather than sticking with the norms - which is probably the reason you've never heard of him. However, his approaches to different movies haven't always led to great movies. Winterbottom has the potential to make a major breakthrough, but I doubt he's interested in that.

I caught Tristram Shandy on the Independent Film Channel, so if you're lucky enough to have the channel you may be able to catch it; if not, then go out and rent it.

Again, I'm leaving an open invitation for others out there who wish to do their own neglect film. If you do so, let me know and I'll link you.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

What Really Goes Through Men's Minds

This is the reason they could never make a movie called What Men Want.

Friday, May 09, 2008

Non-Oprah Book Club: The Giant's House

To prove to you that I do indeed have a soft side - it's not all blood and guts, you know - I offer a sweet book for this week's selection. This is the story of a lonely librarian who befriends a boy of unusual height, a sort of mundane set-up, I know, but Elizabeth McCracken is such a brilliant writer that you soon forget the high concept idea and become immersed in its complex emotional connections. I could not put this book down once I started it. Absolutely beautiful in its execution and prose.

The Giant's House was published in 1996 and gained some attention when it was nominated for the National Book Award - sadly, it did not win.

You might think, living alone so long, so seldom touched, I wouldn't know what to do. But I did. Alone in my bed, I'd sometimes tested on myself. I ran a tentative hand along my collarbone; then a confident hand; then somewhere between. There wasn't an inch of skin I hadn't skimmed my fingers along, wondering would someone else like this? I thumbed my ears, traced the outer trough with just a fingernail; strummed my belly; outlined my nose, mouth, as if they were places on a map I longed to visit, a homeland I had not seen since childhood.

Some lonely untouched people might get used to it, decide they could do without. Not me. I learned to touch myself tenderly to give myself what I could not ask others for. I stroked my own cheek; late at night, I brushed the hair off my own tired, worried forehead.

I knew in what order to caress a face, a back. I knew what would be expected, and what surprising. I remembered: there is bone, and there is skin, and muscle, and other things. You must always remember this, encountering a body, the same way you must remember when you walk around Cape Cod that there are trees, and also dunes so vast that while walking in them you cannot see the ocean or road; there are roads, and the ocean, and the bay, scrubby forests full of things that scratch, and bogs. It may seem impossible to dress in readiness for all these things, but you can as long as you are mindful.

Go to Patti's Blog for more Forgotten Friday Books.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Bad Boy

I did it. I told myself not to do it, but I did it anyway. I went back to page one and read the manuscript I'm working on before finishing it. Good idea? Bad idea? I can't say right now. I was pleased with what I read, even though I had to figure out some sentences that were horribly written or contained words that were creatively spelled. And there was one place where a character gets hit by a car and then miraculously comes back to life without a scratch on him, or any mention that an accident even happened. Some how I put the Terminator in there and didn't even realize it.

One conclusion I did make was that rewrite is going to suck. I was very good in that I didn't correct anything, I didn't add or delete and I didn't scratch any notes in the margins. I left it alone.

Now I have to charge into the last act and bring this puppy to a close... but I'm writing this instead. So goes the life of the procrastinating writer.

Monday, May 05, 2008

Neglected Film: Evolution

In the tradition of what Patti Abbott is doing with forgotten books, I thought I'd try the same thing with movies. I'm not going to tag anyone to do this, but if you happen to like the idea and want to join in (or if you want to tag someone yourself), let me know and I'll link to your site.

For my first neglected movie I thought I'd highlight a film that no one else seems to appreciate: Ivan Reitman's Evolution. Released in 2001, this spiritual cousin to Reitman's own Ghostbusters received little love from critics (it has only a 41% Tomatometer rating from Rotten Tomatoes) and moviegoers, grossing only $40 million - a blockbuster by independent film standards, but a huge bomb for a summer movie with a $80 million price tag. It's too bad because this is one hilarious comedy.

Faced with dangerous alien lifeforms that evolve at an astronomical pace (accomplishing in a few hours what it has taken us millions of years to do), two community college professors, a firefighter wannabe and a bumbling CDC scientist must find a way to save humanity. Okay, not the most innovative plot in the world - and if it were filmed as the serious thriller it was originally intendend to be, it would have been a disaster; but the comedy is so sarcastic and farcical that the plot doesn't really matter.

But as amusing as the comedy is, it probably wouldn't have been as great without its perfectly cast stars. David Duchovny's dry delivery is something approaching perfection; Orlando Jones, sadly, hasn't found a better role to showcase his vast comedic talents and Seann William Scott is wonderfully goofy. And not to be outdone, Julianne Moore is an amazing klutz.

So, if you're in a whimsical mood and want to watch something extremely giddy, then try Evolution.

Other neglected films:

Patti Abbott - Do the Right Thing

Todd Mason - Prime Cut and The Explosive Generation

Friday, May 02, 2008

Forgotten Books, or the Resurrection of the Non-Oprah Book Club

Patti Abbott, mother of recent Edgar Award winner Megan Abbott, (congrats!), has started an around the blogosphere friday project that asks bloggers to write about a favorite book that has been lost to the general public. Make that reading public, because the average man on the street couldn't even recall The Great Gatsby. So, I thought I'd chip in, and in doing so, bring back a long forgotten idea I had for this blog, which I called the Non-Oprah Book Club. I'm sure you all remember it and the two books I recommended. By the way, did you like those past recommendations?

Anyway, on to today's forgotten book: The Temple of Gold by William Goldman. If you recognize the author's name, then congratulations, you haven't had your head up your ass for the past forty years. Yes, this Goldman is the same guy who wrote Marathon Man, Magic and The Princess Bride. But beyond that, he is also the Godfather of screenwriters having won two Oscars for Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid and All the President's Men; as well as adapting The Stepford Wives (the good one with Katherine Ross), Misery and The Hot Rock. In his published scolding of Hollywood, Adventures in the Screen Trade, he famously wrote the often quoted axiam of Hollywood, "Nobody knows anything."

While Goldman's name will continue on, especially in its attachement to The Princess Bride (Goldman has written that the only reason he'll have an obit in the The New York Times is because of Butch and Sundance, but I think his work of Princess Buttercup and her Wesley will overshadow the outlaws); however, The Temple of Gold has already been lost from neglect from the reading public in general and literary snobs who refuse to believe that the author of Marathon Man (a secret favorite of dentists everywhere) could write something that deserves their attention. It's a shame on both counts. This coming-of-age novel is usually only referred to as Goldman's first book without any acknowledgement on how well written it is. When it was published in 1957, some critics mentioned the book in the same league as Salinger's The Catcher in the Rye; and personally I agree. It is a story of an unfocused character confronted with the devestsating consequences of his reckless actions. To say anymore would spoil the book for its reader. Highly recommended.

My father was a stuffy man.

That is not meant as criticism but rather to be the truth. It is the word that best fit him. Stuffy. He always wore dark suits and ugly ties, and was forever pursing his lips and wrinkling up his forehead before he said anything. “Is that you?” my mother would call when he came home. Then he’d purse his lips and there would go his forehead and after a while he’d say: “Yes, my dear.” He always called her that—“my dear”; never her real name, which was Katherine. And I was always Raymond.

It’s easiest to begin with my father rather than my mother or Grandmother Rae for the simple reason that I knew less about him than the others. We lived side by side in the same house for many years, but I never really got to know him. That again isn’t meant to be criticism; it was just the way things worked out.