Originally Posted to Blogger – Monday, December 17, 2007
It’s been some time since I’ve written here. As you may or may not know, I lost my mother at the end of October. It was very unexpected, and the single most difficult and damaging experience of my life. You expect a trauma like that to affect you, but I think ‘how’ is always the big surprise. My family and I are healing, and I appreciate all the help we received during this trying time – particularly from The Armada who, as always, stood by me and propped me up when the weight of it all threatened to overwhelm. I love you all. And no words can describe the unimaginable support provided by my wife and best friend, Wendy. She understands what I’m going through all too well, and it has been her unenviable task of picking up my pieces and gluing them back together when I am struck by the need to fall apart. I hope you all can be so fortunate to have somebody in your life with the capacity to love and give that she possesses.
As for my mom – I love her and miss her, always. Sometimes the ache of it all sets in without warning, waves of sadness and surreality crashing against my weary mind. If you discover me to be a bit odd now and then, please excuse – the carrier pigeons that pass for my neural impulses are slow to deliver to all the dusty corners of my brain. When they finally arrive, I get to experience it all again anew, and apparently each uncharted faction of the mind requires its own slightly personalized method of dealing.
However, this is not a blog about all of that.
I’d like this to be the beginning of a weekly entry – I’m not so thick as to think I’ll always been consistent, but I imagine it’s a worthy goal – especially because I wish no structure on it at all. Just a random collection of my thoughts on the things I encounter day to day. So, that said…
I WATCHED “WAITRESS” TONIGHT. It’s a little film about little people with complex, tangled relationships and one woman’s effort to escape a dead end life. It features Keri Russell (remember “Felicity”?) in an impressive, nuanced performance, and Nathan Fillian (Captain Mal in our beloved “Firefly”) as her awkward, sweet OBGYN and extra-marital love interest. Also contains a splendid turn from Andy Griffith. Sadly, the quirky, talented writer/director (and supporting cast member) Adrienne Shelly never got to see her film debut – she fell victim to an absolutely irrational act of violence, murdered by a construction worker in the building where she kept her office. “Waitress” is a testament to her filmmaking vision, a unique understanding of personal drama, friendship and the gravity of our decisions. It’s funny, sad and insightful, and you should go rent it.
I READ “THE BLADE ITSELF” BY JOE ABERCROMBIE. This is a hard book to describe succinctly, because it doesn’t have an obvious plot. Instead, it follows three very different characters as the threads of their lives are woven together against the backdrop of vivid and brutal fantasy world. Abercrombie’s startlingly good debut novel is packed in turns with exceptional characterizations and visceral, engaging action scenes. He finds a voice quite apart from most fantasy fair, in turns frank and funny and vulgar. Inspector Glokta and Logen Nine-Fingers are two of the most fascinating fantasy characters I’ve encountered in years, and I most eagerly await the sequel (set to land on American shores in February, I think). Get thee to a bookstore.
I MET WRITER/DIRECTOR JAMES GUNN. First, outside of the radio station, where I quickly introduced myself (with the obligatory “I’m a big fan” AND “we’re friends on MySpace”). Later, Cory, Big T and I spoke with him after a Q&A session at the St. Louis Movie Festival. Both times he was very gracious and easy to speak with. And he was hella funny during the Q&A – the man is a silly bitch. Not surprising from the fellow who wrote/directed “Slither” (starring the aforementioned Nathan Fillian as ‘Bill Pardy’).
I SAW “THE MIST” IN THE THEATER. 95% awesome, but that last 5% was such a kick in the privates that it made me hate the film. The director and I will have words some day, oh yes. Skip the last 3 minutes and it’s a pretty good flick.
ALSO SAW “BEOWULF” AT THE CINE, IN 3D. I felt bad that I missed Neil Gaiman’s “Stardust” in theaters, so I hastened to “Beowulf”. It’s impressively animated, but at times poorly directed or edited – it loses its flow frequently, with long, boring moments creating an awkward canter between some really thrilling action sequences. The dragon battle near the end is particularly badass. Angelina Jolie’s digital presence in the film is distracting, and the fact that her computer-rendered face looks absolutely identical to the real life version and yet is still sort of disturbing only suggests that she borders on inhuman. If you love CGI or sword-n-sorcery tales, give it a go. But it can wait for dvd – the 3d is neat, but I don’t think it will lose much without it.
THE UNRATED, UNCUT OF “TALLEDEGA NIGHTS” SUCKS. Seriously, get the theatrical version – the director’s cut ruins the comedic timing of the entire movie. They say 13 minutes were put back in, but it feels like an extra 2 hours. “The Ballad of Ricky Bobby” works as a concise piece of pop silliness, but fails when the editor becomes indulgent. And you’ll hear the phrase ‘Shake and Bake’ way more than is really tolerable.
THE FIRST EPISODE OF THE “TERMINATOR” TV SERIES ROCKS. I was fortunate enough to land a screener of the upcoming “Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles” pilot from Fox. I didn’t have high hopes for this, but Summer Glau (River on “Firefly”) co-stars as a new take on the protective Terminator, and that was enough to get me in the door. The show follows roughly after T2, with some time lapse. And it rocked – totally captured the feel of T2’s ominous paranoia and machine-blunt action. T, Cory and I re-entered this world with severe doubts and left genuinely jazzed up. Debuts in January, and I think a fair amount of it was finished before the writer’s strike, so yay for non-rerun TV!
I JOINED A COMIC BOOK CREATOR CLUB. My new dorky haunt, Twilight Comics in Shiloh (in the Green Mount shopping plaza near Target) is hosting a bi-weekly gathering of writers, artists and assorted other creative types interested in making comics. Despite the crappy weather, the first meeting was well attended and tons of fun. It was compelling to converse with a handful of other guys entrenched in the craft of sequential art storytelling. The group was heavy on writers in this first go ‘round, but there was an artist there whose portfolio and work ethic were extremely impressive. The second meeting is this coming Thursday. We’ve been charged with creating something new for each week, pages of script or art, at least a little something creative to share with the group. I’ve not had a very productive couple of weeks, but I’m hoping to complete a six page rough draft of a script for one of my comic properties.
A HANDFUL OF OTHER THINGS:
I’m reading “Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Joss Whedon’s Season 8”, DC’s “Booster Gold” and My Chemical Romance frontman Gerard Way’s “Umbrella Academy” comics. Good stuff all around. After 7 years, though, I’m losing interesting Brian Michael Bendis’ “Powers”. I think I’m only still getting it out of habit.
I received the “His Dark Materials” trilogy as an early Christmas present, which I’m excited about. Also got the first volume of “Preacher”, which I read on the job at Fantasy Shop years ago. It was a fun re-read – a little rough around the edges, but sets up the inspired insanity of the rest of the series.
I’m 3/5 of the way through “The Spiderwick Chronicles”. It’s pretty decent kid’s fare, really one book split into a 5 volume serial – presumably to make more money by releasing them as $10 mini-hardcovers. The reading leans a bit thin as it often relies on the accompanying illustrations to describe the people, creatures and locales. My favorite element so far is, of the three sibling protagonists, one is singled out as our main touch point, while his twin takes a backseat. I think that’s a fairly unique way to portray twins in fiction.
My friend Roi’s band, The Material, made it all the way to second place in a big MTV2 contest. They performed at the competition finale in Times Square. It’s a big deal for these guys, a real break that is creating some exciting opportunities. Roi’s been pursuing music as a career for the better part of 15 years, so I’m really excited for him. (Some of you may remember him as the guitarist from Cory’s old band, Cope.) The Material has a nice hard melodic rock sound with a female vocalist. Strangely, I’d been following the band for almost a year on MySpace before Roi moved west and eventually joined up with them. Find them and show them some love.
Jimmy Eat World’s new record is pretty awesome, especially the first single “Big Casino”.
Another band to check out is In This Moment – met them the other day. Nice folks, solid performers, and the lead guitarist is sorta like a dreadlocked, metal version of Seth Rogen.
It’s now 12:30 and I have physical therapy in the morning. Yay for cracking and stretching and putting my body back into some semblance of alignment.
All my love,