vestige of course


digital rendering by veach st. glines, creative commons license 2005

sarah in the pity



digital rendering by veach st. glines, creative commons license 2005

shrimpcheese

In homage to the wonderful art found at Fluffmuppet takes on NYC I decided to try my hand at MSpaint-based renderings:



Book recommendation

Just finished Steven Gould's latest: reflex. A relatively predictable sequel to Jumper, Gould re-visits the main character and his wife after a ten year sabbatical. This story is paced more like the problem-story of Harry F. Saint's 1988 Memoirs of an Invisible Man than the character-story of Jumper. Pick up a copy at your local library.

film reviews (early winter 04 - 05)


Assault on Precinct 13 (2005) directed by Jean-François Richet (De l'Amour, 2001); starring Ethan Hawke and Laurence Fishburne: Snaprating=Cheaper, PROBLEM-theme. Fans of the original, directed by John Carpenter, will relish the gritty violence of this remake.

The Machinist (2004) directed by Brad Anderson (Session 9, 2001); starring Christian Bale and Jennifer Jason Leigh: Snaprating=WFD, PROBLEM-theme. Fans of Memento will enjoy this dark whodunnit.

The Incredibles (2004) directed by Brad Bird (The Iron Giant, 1999); starring the voices of Craig T. Nelson and Holly Hunter: Snaprating=Keeper, MILIEU-theme [strong secondary PROBLEM theme]. Fans of Toy Story will enjoy this animated family action adventure.

The Motorcycle Diaries (2004) directed by Walter Salles (Central Station, 1998); starring Gael Garcia Bernal and Rodrigo de la Serna: Snaprating=WFD, CHARACTER-theme. Fans of 'coming-of-age' and 'based-on-a-true-story' films should enjoy this bio-pic.

Sideways (2004) directed by Alexander Payne (About Schmidt, 2002); starring Paul Giamatti and Thomas Haden Church: Snaprating=Cheaper, CHARACTER-theme. Fans of films that bump the funnybone while squeezing heartstrings are shure to enjoy this one.

Spanglish (2004) directed by James L. Brooks (As Good As It Gets, 1997); starring Adam Sandler and Téa Leoni: Snaprating=WFC, CHARACTER-theme. Fans of Punch-Drunk Love should find this appealing.

A Very Long Engagement (2004) directed by Jean-Pierre Jeunet (Amélie, 2001); starring Audrey Tautou and Gaspard Ullie: Snaprating=Cheaper, PROBLEM-theme [strong CHARACTER secondary theme]. Fans of Amélie may be slightly disappointed but will still enjoy this anti-war film.

House of Flying Daggers (2004) directed by Yimou Zhang (Hero, 2002); starring Zhang Ziyi and Takeshi Kaneshiro: Snaprating=WFD, MILIEU-theme. Fans of the 'Keeper': Hero will discover this film flawed by weak plot and poor editing but may enjoy it none-the-less.

In Good Company (2004) directed by Paul Weitz (American Pie, 1999); starring Topher Grace and Scarlett Johansson: Snaprating=WFC, RE-ORDER-theme [CHARACTER secondary theme]. 'Buddy movie' and romantic comedy fans may enjoy this one.

Polar Express IMAX 3-D (2004) directed by Robert Zemeckis (Forrest Gump, 1994); starring the voice of Tom Hanks: Snaprating=Keeper [non-IMAX3D version=WFD], MILIEU-theme [CHARACTER secondary theme]. Fans of Final Fantasy and virtual rollercoasters will love this every x-mas.

The Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou (2004) directed by Wes Anderson (The Royal Tenenbaums, 2001); starring Bill Murray and Owen Wilson: Snaprating=Cheaper, RE-ORDER-theme. Wes Anderson film fans (especially The Royal Tennenbaums) will consider this one of his best and add it to their list of 'Keepers'.

Kinsey (2004) directed by Bill Condon (Gods and Monsters, 1998); starring Liam Neeson and Laura Linney: Snaprating=WFC, CHARACTER-theme. Based-on-true-story movie fans will be disappointed by this bland and lackluster bio-pic.

Part 2: Jorge with a Cat (Part 1: 20 Dec 04)

Out the corner of his eye, Jorge saw the reflection of a ghost-pale woman. Her head was down and her feet were up. He looked back at the cat and guessed it was probably their head and ass pointing in the wrong direction. With recessed light-strips along every surface but the door, there had been no way to determine which was the ceiling.

The door shut behind the ghost woman. Jorge still watched the cat. It clutched the sock in it's forelegs and kicked it to death. He could hear clicks (she must be attaching her straps to his walls) and the puffing of cat breath (as it killed the sock). The cat was drifting toward the surface Jorge had previously selected as the ceiling but was the ghost woman’s floor.

Eyeing her reflection peripherally, Jorge noticed she had re-oriented to his floor and ceiling. How accommodating, he thought.

The ghost woman's reflection was blurry, but Jorge could see that she was wearing the same gray suit he was dressed in, that she had a man’s hair cut, and that there was nothing in her hands. He grinned (because he enjoyed proving himself right).

"I was just playing with the cat." Jorge said. "I love how graceful she is and how she's able to get around so well."

The cat pushed off the ceiling with one paw and continued to mouth the sock as it roll-floated.

"Obviously she's been here a day or two longer than me." Jorge continued.

The ghost woman's reflection stared at his back.

Since they were now sharing a three-meter cube, he could hear the ghost woman’s breath almost as clearly as the cat's. And the ghost woman's was more rapid than someone of her diminutive size should sound, unless she just finished exerting herself (Jorge pictured her finishing a sexual-romp and rushing to get here). No, it was probably nervousness on her part; but why? He could smell her. It was a clean smell, no deodorant, no lotions, no sprays, and no sweat. Jorge posed a few mental guesses as he sized up her floating reflection.

Maybe the ghost woman was upset (unless stiff-stern was her normal posture). She probably was accustomed to people placing 'conversation with her' higher on their priority list than 'playing with a cat'. She might even think I'm being rude to expect her to talk to my back, he thought. Jorge decided she was a superior officer and possibly one of the vast majority he had met who relied primarily on the rank displayed on their uniform, instead of their personality or any semblance of an ability to lead, to command others.

Jorge's mind wandered...I wondered if the ghost woman just needs to get laid? He began to fabricate a mind-movie. The elastic straps and lack of gravity added flavor to his fantasy as he imagined her contorted into a position similar to the cat's at the present moment.

He checked her reflection again. Still there, still not even a throat clearing. Jorge drew out the silence by slowly reaching down to unfasten a strap before trying to turn around.

In a soft, slightly-husky voice, the ghost woman said, "Your cat is male."

Pleased he got her to talk first, Jorge unhooked, pushed-off, turned and (after missing once) re-hooked. He decided not to respond to her "your cat" bait — just because he woke up with it didn't make it his — she wanted to make him start a line of defensive questioning: Oh sorry, did I say she? I didn't notice. Yes, I see. It has balls. My mistake, I usually refer to all cats as a ‘she’ and all dogs as a ‘he’. How are you today ma'am? Why did you say this was my cat? Blah blah Bullshit.

Looking the ghost woman straight in her scowl, he said, "Name?" While he gave her his most innocent expression: Eyebrows raised. Hands motionless.

"The cat has a National Serial Number. Names aren't assigned." She didn't smile as she said it and her brow said she had nothing more to add.

Jorge noted her eyes were the same color as her hair. Mousy brown; sparrow brown was more appropriate. Combined with the stark whiteness of her skin, it put her on the unattractive side of plain. Jorge gave her a 4 on his desirability scale. He always ranked women. He never admitted to it. Never told others — even close male friends — and didn't really like the trait. He just did it. Always. Jorge didn't think he was going to like her. He'd do her; he'd do anyone on his scale above a 2. But he was well on the road to hating her.

In slightly less than 1.3 seconds Jorge mentally ticked through a few of the various other answers ghost-woman could have given:

1. Major Mary Wickless, but you can address me as Ma'am (would have given confirmation to his previous mental guesses).

2. I'm sorry. You are Chief Warrant Officer Jorge M. Hayden; I wasn’t told you had amnesia (taking the offensive and causing him to pause).

3. We call that ugly feline 'TB', short for ... oh, I hope that scratch on your cheek isn't from him? (Humor—the best way to take command).

4. Yours, the cat’s or mine? (The checkmate response.)

"I didn't mean Jenny." Jorge replied, pointing his thumb over his shoulder. "I meant you." He accented the word by bringing his hand back to point at the ghost woman before grabbing a strap (arm swinging had caused him to pivot). Jorge hoped anger would work. If his guess was right and she was upset, turning it into anger should be easy.

"Captain Susan Fortnoy. I’m the G3."

Jorge inwardly smiled (I really like being right).

She paused and scanned his face to see if her rank or position had sunk in, or if she needed to elaborate. No anger yet. Jorge guessed either his expression held or the captain figured anyone who would name a male cat 'Jenny' needed the full speech, because she continued.

"I am the Operations Officer responsible for foreign relations on the Minnesota."

Another pause, Jorge thought it was probably to see if he would show any confirmation that he had already figured out he was on the Minnesota (commonly referred to as the SS Minnow). He was certain Sue never referred to herself or the space station by nickname. Jorge hoped her use of 'foreign relations' hadn't caused him to change his expression, because he had no idea what was foreign about him that needed relating with (or to).

She kept going. "I'm here to provide a familiarization brief and welcome you to the station," with no emotion on her face or in her voice.

"Sue?" Jorge asked. "Captain . . . as in the Navy rank for Colonel?"

He was on the right track. Her eyes squinched and she folded her arms across her flat chest (impressively, without spinning against her straps). Jorge tried a little harder. Without hand gestures, he said, "I'm tired of the game Colonel. I want some answers: Why am I here? How did I get here? How did my last mission end? What are my present orders and what is a goddamned soldier doing in space?"

The Jorge Hayden Book of Rules listed: 'Referring to a Naval or Air Force officer by Army rank' as number one with a bullet, under the heading: successful ways to piss someone off.

"Anything else?" She asked. No anger.

"Yea." No. . .yes ma'am, Jorge went for broke. "Why is my roommate a cat? I've been locked in here with it for hours with nothing but six walls and a broken monitor. If I start bumping into cat turds or breathing piss, I'll kill and eat your station mascot."

"Mister Hayden, you are still a member of the US Army and will continue to handle yourself professionally. You will conduct yourself as an officer and representative of the United States on this multi-nationally operated station. As such, you will afford members of all forces, both US and foreign, with the respect due their rank and position."

The ghost-woman-captain was fairly good in her delivery. No stutters. She wasn't flushed. Worst of all she wasn't angry. She was stern. Her attitude was calm, but she still looked upset. Maybe she just didn't want to talk to him. In-briefing a lowly Warrant? Maybe that was the job of some Army Captain — what the Navy called a Commander or some shit. She hadn't even started a teeny-tiny sway against the straps.

She continued, "I am not here to answer questions. I will provide you with a short tour and point out the necessary facilities. The shower and bathroom for both you and (she paused) Jenny." As she said that she nodded at the wall opposite the monitor and said, “latrine open.”

A portion of the wall slid open to reveal odd-compact contraptions. Jorge had never seen a space latrine before and immediately wanted to ask how it worked. Instead he decided to keep on the track he had started.

"Look, I’ve got to hand it to you, Captain." Jorge chanced his infamous, 'eyebrows raised, lips pursed, shoulders hunched, and (the tricky part) palms upturned,' body posture. "My last memory, prior to waking up a while ago, was of a mission which ended negatively . . . the location and nature of which I am not at liberty to discuss." He added in case this conversation was being monitored or recorded by some US Department of Defense weenie who's job it would be to fuck him later.

Jorge knew no one was better at — or took more pride in — screwing their own, than the US DOD.

"I'm not dead," Jorge continued. "No...not in a hospital." Jorge let sarcasm enter his posture and voice, "Better yet, I have no memory of a free shuttle ride to the SS Minnow, where a person of my training and experience has abso-fucking-lutely no place to be in the first, middle, or last place." He started to sway and caught a ring above the monitor. He finished with the kicker, raising his voice for the effect, "I wake up, locked in a room with a cat? And you aren't here to answer questions?"

Looking at the cat, which Jorge referred to as 'Jenny' on the spur of the moment because it was the first pet name (his second wife's little kick-dog) that came to mind after the ghost woman said it was male. The cat was no longer occupied with his sock (which Jorge grabbed with a minimum of flailing and put back on his right foot with a twist-bounce against his straps). Jenny was now in the latrine; it’s orange head sticking out of a rubber-boot-looking thing near the ceiling (at least, the surface Jorge's head was closest to).

The ghost-captain said, "Hayden, the Minnesota's computer will answer your questions. Later." This accompanied a nod at the monitor. "Once we finish with a tour, you can come back here and ask. Ok?"

Two hours later, Jorge was finished with enough of a tour to make him certain he wasn't a prisoner of war.

"All your questions can best be answered by the computer," the captain had repeated every time he asked anything besides how to operate the exercise machine or how to flush the shower-toilet-cat box or what the lighted indicators in the gravity elevator meant.

"Your room monitor is voice recognition activated, turned on with the word Minnesota followed by your last name, and will open and lock your door."

"What about the cat?" Jorge asked as he finished thanking her and was returning to his room. They were standing in one of the workstations with gravity — false gravity — but when you were walking on a floor that was always a floor, Jorge didn't care if it was because down was down or down was spinning away from the center. Jorge figured the cat was a prank the crew played on newcomers.

"You mean Jenny?" The Captain asked, a hint of a smile restricted to her eyes. "He is yours." She was able to put an accent on both 'he' and 'is'. "Again, the computer will explain." She said and departed up a ladder that led to the central control room.

Jorge wanted to call it ‘the bridge’ but learned from the Captain that a bridge was for piloting a ship and this station was not piloted, but stationary in space — thus the name. He thought it was funny calling it the CCR, though. He may be the only person on the SS Minnow who knew of the music group, some ninety years gone, that went by that acronym-name. As he entered the gravity-elevator (the captain had given it a name he heard and immediately forgot) Jorge told the elevator to return to his floor and hummed a portion of a partly remembered tune, "Doot, Doot, Doot, walkin out my back door".

The elevator rose and so did Jorge, leaving the floor and beginning to drift.

Jenny greeted him when he returned. The cat seemed more attentive than when he left. Jorge didn't think cats acted like this; asking for attention like a dog. He never had a cat, so he just assumed they were loners. After insuring that the cat didn't need to use the latrine (waste unit was how the Captain referred to it) by opening the door and waiting to see if Jenny entered, the cat attached itself to Jorge's suit. It's claws were extremely uncomfortable. Jorge got them to retract only after he looped the cat and secured him with straps to his lap.

Jorge stroked the cat. Jenny began to purr.

...OK beulahs and beulnubbins, if the length of this spacestation's cruise isn't contorted in the minds of your fellow countrymen causing Jorge (pronounced whore-hey) to be mistakenly called Gilligan, then once this author hears what animal (from a 70's Chicago tune) Jenny is named after, he will continue with 'Jorge and the Cat part 3'...

100 words - (type 4 remnant)

On 6 Jan 2005, I submitted a story to:





On 10 Jan 2005, they published it.

I am feeling no small amount of pride that they liked it enough to post it.



Type 4 Remnant



Collins’s gloved hand tingled as he gripped the meteor cavern’s mouth. His other fist tightened on his blade when he heard the remnant.



The Hydrodem should have killed all eight, Collins scowled. He contemplated the cleanest means of extinguishing the survivor without fucking up his biospheronic suit.



In half an exhale, Collins realized it wasn’t a remnant. Since his sanction didn't extend to furry, yellow eyed, halfgets, he put his respirator to the survivor's mouth.



The cat inhaled.



"The licensed harvesters can't mine inhabited rock. You coming?" Collins asked.



Back in the cat's mouth, the respirator's translator said, "Iss choice?"



submitted by: Veach Glines

Film Code (Thru My Eyes First)

Critique is to Conversation,
as Sweat is to Sex

“Have you read the new..., tried the lunch specials at..., seen the most recent...?” Everyone is—and wants everyone else to be—a critic. It just makes economic sense.

If Julio has already bought, and read, the twenty-eight dollar hard-back copy and if he makes that scrunchy wrinkled-nose expression accompanied by a quick shoulder-shrug when describing it; you’ll wait for your sister to lend you her paperback once it comes out next spring.

When Julio learns you spent the same twenty-eight on two tickets and two large combo’s, stood in line for forty minutes, sat behind an obese man who afforded you the opportunity to hear his every inhale and exhale—even over the dialog—for the entire ninety minutes, he’ll wait for Enrique to being it home after it comes out on dvd next year.

My sister refuses to eat shellfish at Morrie’s on Eighth, because she heard that our Uncle Jim had a real bad night after a plate of oysters there, last spring.

I waited for the video release of the Madonna-as-dictator’s-wife musical, because JP, my musical-film-critic-neighbor’s-wife, tried to over sell me on it.

She exclaimed, “it’s the absolute best movie I’ve ever seen in years.”

I could tell from her tone and hand-movements that JP wanted to like it more than she actually did, couldn’t figure out why, and wanted me to see it and then clue her in (JP: Antonio fucked up the timing and your ability to stay in the story; sorry I didn’t tell you sooner).

Although JP didn’t know it at the time, she was saying — in her way — that it would not be a wise investment of my time and money to see the movie in a theater. I’ve since learned an abbreviated verbiage to use when discussing films, so as to quickly and accurately tell someone (you, at the present moment) if and when they should see what I’ve already seen.

”...Riiiggt...Yeaahh, Were Usin’ Code Words!”
KEEPER: Refer to a picture as a Keeper, and you are proclaiming this film is worth the price of first-run admission (currently, 2 person occupancy with snacks: thirty bucks).

The word ‘keeper’ is film collector jargon; used when an auspicious film contains qualities the collector prefers and has been deemed good enough to be ‘kept’ in his collection.

CHEAPER: A film qualifies as a Cheaper if it is only worth the price of a matinee show or viewing at a second-run theater (costs can vary from ten to twenty bucks).

D – Movie: Refer to a film as a D movie and you are saying everyone should WFD, 'Wait For the DVD'. In six to nine months (more or less) it will be available for rent at your local video store (with gas, sno-caps and an occasional late-fee: six bucks).  2011 Update:  Although Netflix has almost completely supplanted DVD stores (and they plan to completely make DVD's unnecessiary by 2013; every movie available on 'instant download') this category will remain.  D movie works for Wait For the Download. 

This term should not be confused with the term B - movie, a Hollywood slang term for “budget movies”.

C – Movie: Consider a film a C movie when you believe the viewing audience should WFC, 'Wait For Cable'. You are saying ‘it is no problem’ on the year-wait for it to come out on subscription movie channels. To determine the dollar value, begin with the amount you pay for the service. Subtract all the Keepers, Cheapers and D movies you already watched and you end up with the value of a C movie: around three dollars.

T – Movie: The remaining detritus are the T movies. Every film that qualifies as a WFT, 'waste of fucking time' ('wait for TV', for those who don’t speak French) is a T-Movie. These are all the movies you would never pay to see (if they weren’t full of T&A and included in your monthly subscription cable price).
When I read reviews written by other film critics, I translate: 4 stars = Keeper, 3 stars = Cheaper, 2 stars = D movie, 1 star = C movie, O stars = T movie.
I round 1/2 stars down; unless the written review grossly contradicts the number of stars or it is a Mileau film (my personal favorite of the four catagories).


Always Recruit From Outside

for the position of Umpire

People are always testing the opinions of others against their own: “Bobby said the latest Stephen King sucked; boy, was he right.” “I know you said their Chicken Caeser Salad was dry, but I thought it was OK.” “You mean she said it smelled terrible? I really like that potpourri!”

Once you discover someone with tastes similar to yours, you allow their opinion to guide your future decisions. You decide to ‘hire them as your umpire’. Everyone needs an umpire for things they are less than expert in. Just be as discriminating for the position as you would be for the baby-sitter of your four-month old.

Here is why you should never hire your film-ump from within your family circle:

My mother said many years ago (after I had just seen the film) “Well, don’t waste your money on that new Pulp Fiction garbage; it was so confusing, I walked out.”

My Mother—like a four-year old to cartoons—connects herself umbilically to news and home-shopping channels. I absolutely, positively, never ask my mother about films and would never consider her to fill a film ump position.

But, I’d fallen into my own trap. I had foolishly commented, “I’m so busy, I haven’t seen a new film in months.”

A tale I was unsuccessfully weaving, to explain my lack of sitting down with things I once wrote with—pens—inscribing on processed dead-tree flesh—paper—and then providing their combination—letters—to a long parade of couriers, for a fee; so they would deliver them to Mom next week. During that conversation I asked if giving her my old laptop would entice her to obtain an Internet account and an electronic address.

“Mom, they call it e-mail; it’s NOT as hard as programming one of those VCR things so you can catch the fashion jewelry hour while at the dentist.”

I Wore This Uncomfortable Chunk of Metal…”

I don’t have an old laptop. Saying I did, was just an innocent fib. If she had agreed, then I would have had a good excuse to refer to my laptop as my old one, which would (obviously) need replacing. My second fib was: that working with computer on the Internet is slightly harder than programming a VCR. But, goddamn it, that is only as simple as reading the manual, which got thrown away with the box, ten minutes after it was plugged in.

(For those reading this who ‘walked out because you didn’t understand the film’): If you had given a small amount of attention to the Milieu (the setting and all the visible details in the film environment) you would have noticed the main character’s clothing change and the varying times of day provided sufficient hints to assist in mentally un-shuffling Quentin’s fantabulous job of editing. Which would have been no more difficult than, say, remembering your partner’s last two plays in Euchre.

I didn’t allow any of these comments to escape my brain and travel across phone lines all those years ago, which is probably why Mom still calls and asks when I’m going to write.

A few years back, one of my film umpires said, “You should make a list of films I need to catch-up on.”

I had just expressed shock at the number of quality films she had never seen. I think my expression of surprise was actually a combination of fear and sadness, which caused my face muscles to convulse so that they could prevent my skull, jawbone, and all my teeth from jumping out of my mouth. It wasn’t just that she had never seen It’s a Wonderful Life, or The Wizard of Oz (among other classics); but I was now probably going to have to fire another ump.

For a few years I had assumed the existence of film-umpire credentials based on her outstanding record of recommendations. Now, I had discovered her opinions were foundationless. I was afraid to learn what other films she had never considered renting. The idea of incessantly re-watching craft movies by John Hughes in preference to meeting Clarence the angel or the witches of Oz caused me to shudder.

“I’m the Dude, Man.”

My film ump and I had previously agreed on films like Jaws, The Big Lebowski, and The Blair Witch Project, and on movies made (and re-made) for the movie masses.

Here’s a simple test to see if you are part of the movie masses (the target audience of Hollywood movie producers who are in the money-making business and will spend millions on advertising and hope that your film-ump won’t tell you it’s a WFD, WFC or worst of all a WFT):
Movie Masses Test

Consider yourself a member of the movie masses if:

You think the film remake of The War of the Worlds, (H.G. Wells’ tale of Martians attempting to conquer Earth) was improved with computer effects, snappy one-liners and big explosions.

If you were unaware it was re-done or thought the Will Smith movie released on the 4th of July several years ago was an original script, then you are not only a member of the masses, but a full-fledged voting member (and every producer in Hollywood should include you on their Christmas card list).
A few months after I learned that my film ump had poor credentials, she questioned my failure to see the last Stanley Kubrick film. I then made her aware of her status as my film-umpire, when I reminded her of her critique: D-movie.

I had been waiting for the DVD, as she had suggested.

She immediately recanted. Claiming she distrusted her initial impression, she said that she saw the FILM again (notice her intentional use of film instead of movie) and was now diligently waiving me around the bases and through the theater doors. Which, at the time, meant I should find it at a second-run theater.

I still waited for the DVD. My intuition told me to contemplate the reason she felt obligated to go see a D-movie again. I considered her credentials and flavored her latest critique with a peppering of: maybe there was too much of a desire to like it. Maybe a pinch of, “By god I didn’t like Kubrick! The director of Clockwork Orange and Full Metal Jacket; I must be wrong.”

At the time I thought, Maybe this grand-master of film was trying to squeeze one last message from his addled-brain. Maybe he should have left the Cruise-Kidman intimacy off-screen, in it’s rightful place? Even if that’s not true, master artists and film-makers are fallible. Remember Kubrick’s three-hour, pretty, but tediously boring attempt at making a milieu film? The title, which was the main character’s name, was as forgettable as the film itself. You don’t remember it? There’s a good reason; the same reason I’ve not included the title here.
Steven King’s Laundry List is Worth About a Buck-Fiddy

I always laugh when I hear that someone believes a well known author could sell any worthless list. In one of Mister King’s latest conversations with himself, he quotes someone who said he was at the stage in his career where he could, “…publish his laundry list.” (I think he actually used grocery list, but I think laundry list reads better).

This farce makes good magazine print, which makes for publicity—of which there is no bad—but it is not at all the truth. Why? Because Steven King has written some godawful shit. Some so bad, I'm glad I borrowed and didn't pay for them. But, with that said, there are enough real gems which came out of his head that you can still check out his next one to see if it is a Keeper or a WFT. Which reminds me of:
Rule of Thumb #86: If the subject matter of the art work is the profession of the artist, it is a WFT. If the film is about film-making; if the painting shows a painting being painted; if the novel's main character is a novelist; if the song is about the music industry; if the poem is about poetry: they are unworthy of consideration. In all these cases, the writer, painter, author, musician or poet, ran out of ideas and decided to jump-start the idea machine by 'writing what he or she knows' (and what they know is boring shit). The exception which proves the rule (there's always one) is Adaptation a film about the writing of the film's screenplay by the screenwriter of the film.
I thought about my list. Jotting down a quick list of films my film-ump should catch-up on became a bunch of catagories, like listing favorite foods or music: when in the mood for...; only when there’s time for...; if I’m alone or with..., (sometimes fast-food, other times a full-course, expensive restaurant).

Then I thought, "Why should MY list of films to catch-up on be considered? Why would I be a good film-ump?"

I came up with three reasons: experience, objectivity and my willingness to take the time and explain.


The Passage of Time is Experience,

My Bald Spot is Age
.

1. I’m qualified to be a film-ump because of my considerably extensive film-watcher background. I’m old (not Roger Ebert old, but close) and I’ve been watching films and movies my whole life (something I’ve got on Gene Siskel, but, so do you). There may be millions of people just like me: aging, avid watchers of moving pictures, but only a small percentage have the experience to know what they prefer and why. And only a small number of those people can explain why you enjoy what you do. I have that ability.

Vincent's Paramour Didn't Have an Artist's Eye,

Just an Ear.

2. I possess the eye of an artist. I am not claiming to be an artist (nor am I claiming not to be, it’s irrelevant). I have the ability to see and evaluate things from an objective standpoint. Most people see (smell, taste, hear) things through a personal subjective-screen.

Here is a test to determine if you have the ‘eye of an artist’:
Artist's Eye?

Pick something you strongly dislike to see or hear.

Now sit through it - all the way to the end.

Make a list of three redeeming qualities (with no influencing prejudice).
If you think there’s no need to sit through the entire Disney film Fantasia to know what you like or dislike about animation and classical music; or if you believe you don’t need to listen to an entire disc of trance music to have an opinion about it, you do not have an artist’s eye and should rely on someone with an artists eye to be your umpire.

Without an artist’s eye, one claims, “I could do that,” when regarding a wall-sized rectangle of spill-splashed paint.

With the eye of an artist, one understands the painting is the culmination of a process which began with an idea, led to the combination of specific materials into a creation, and ended with it’s display (probably by someone with the eye of an artist). Willingness to embrace the unknown and anticipate that around the next corner or over one's horizon is something that might teach, thrill or excite, is an indicator of an artist’s eye.

A child’s unwillingness to try a new food, a xenophobe’s fear of foreign travel, and an egotist’s recalcitrance to read an unfamiliar topic are all refusals to experience life. Those willing to try new food (after someone they trust says it’s good), travel to a foreign country (with a tour group), or read an unfamiliar story (as long as the cover has an ‘Oprah’s Book Club’ circle on it) are relying on someone else with an artist’s eye to be their umpire.

"You talkin to me?

You must be talkin to me. I'm the only one here.
."

3. My purpose for this essay is the same as why any artist creates anything: because there is an inner drive—an inner flame—that needs quenched. The completion of this list is as much a personal discovery as it is a vehicle for others to use.

If the primary motivation to create anything is personal gain, the craftsman (movie-maker, journalist, lounge singer, advertising layout designer, short-order cook) is merely focused on the end product: cash. An artist, however, focuses on the process of creating and is pleasantly surprised with the final product. Michelangelo, the Renaissance painter and sculptor, has been attributed with the following quote:
“I begin with a block of marble, chip the not-statue parts away, and discover I am finished when all the not-statue parts are on the floor.”
Conversely, Roger Corman, director of a large number of WFT movies, has been attributed with saying:
“Movie making would be a business I could enjoy if it weren’t for producers, actors, distributors and all the other fucks who turn it into a job.”

EVERY FILM FITS INTO A FOUR-SIDED BOX

There are only four film types: MILIEU, PROBLEM, CHARACTER and RE-ORDER. Most people prefer one type over the others.

MILIEU

A milieu film has one over-riding premise: show the audience an exotic, new location or one it's never seen. The viewer is introduced to the location and moved around until the director has finished displaying his created environment; then the film is done.

Examples of milieu films are: Baraka, The Last Waltz, and Waking Life. Some science fiction, fantasy and animated films, and a majority of adult films, are milieu films.

PROBLEM

At the beginning of a problem film a question, fantastic idea, or problem is presented. The film is finished once there is resolution, an answer, or the idea comes full circle.

Cube, The Seven Samauri, and The Exorcist are problem films. Mysteries, Horror, and some Action Adventures are problem films.

CHARACTER

A character film is primarily about the protagonist (or antagonist) trying to change his life. It begins when the main character discovers something intolerable in life and ends when he finds a new role, returns to his old role (which he discovers wasn’t as bad as he thought) or gives up trying.

Clerks, Hedwig and the Angry Inch, Harold and Maude and American Beauty are character films. A large amount of comedies and many true-life stories and dramas are character films.

RE-ORDER

The focus of re-order films are on either restoring the old order or establishing a new order. The scale can be as small as the reorganization of inter-personal relationships to as vast as the establishment of a new world order. Re-order films begin when the main character becomes involved in restoring or healing the event which is bringing about a change (or initiating the re-order itself) and ends when he finally succeeds, utterly fails, or quits trying.

Twelve Monkeys, Playing by Heart, and Fight Club are re-order films. Romantic films, thrillers, and action-adventure movies usually fall into the re-order film type.

IDENTIFY THE SHAPE OF THE BOX

Determining a film’s dominant type is not difficult (if you try). Film-makers and screenwriters frequently apply more than one theme. Some use all four. Effectively incorporating two or more of these themes produces a multi-layered film - not, necessiarily, a better one.

The Matrix is a re-order film with a desire to be a milieu film.

These two films begin as character films and become problem films: Psycho, directed by Hitchcock, and Breaking The Waves, directed by Von Trier.

Apocalypse Now is a problem film that could easily be confused as a milieu film.

Bad Boy Bubby is a re-order film with a strong character film quality.

It’s a Wonderful Life is a character film containing elements of all four themes. Sixty years has provided the milieu film qualities, the problem film theme is integral to the plot, and the re-order film elements are evident in the alternate reality.

Consider The Wizard of Oz: a character film wrapped around a problem film that becomes a milieu film.

Catch up on films in your favorite film type, from my list:
MILIEU
Baraka
Blade Runner
Clockwork Orange
Existenz
Fantasia
The Fifth Element
The Last Waltz
Metropolis (both the aname and Fritz Lang's silent)
Waking Life
Wizards
Hero


CHARACTER

A Boy and His Dog
Adaptation
American Beauty
Amiele
Bad Boy Bubby
Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea
The Big Lebowski
Breaking the Waves
Clerks
Eraserhead
Harold and Maude
Hedwig and the Angry Inch
High Fidelity
It’s a Wonderful Life
The Wizard of Oz

PROBLEM

Apocalypse Now
The Blair Witch Project
Brotherhood of the Wolf
Cube
The Exorcist
Jaws
Kill Bill 1&2
Memento
My Name is Nobody
Psycho
The Seven Samurai
War of the Worlds

RE-ORDER

Requiem For a Dream
13 Conversations about the same thing
Dark City
The Fight Club
Full Metal Jacket
The Matrix
Monsoon Wedding
Playing By Heart
Pulp Fiction
The Quiet Earth
Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter, Spring
Twelve Monkeys
Vanilla Sky