I love your smarts


I want. I have wanted. I will want. I don't really understand why. I rarely have materialistic desires; when I do, I just wait. After many months (or more), if I still think about the item, I buy it. I first wanted this eight years ago. Maybe I'll lose the desire in another couple years. Maybe I'll buy one next year. Maybe I'm a fool.

Death of the Baroque, by Irishwind

This is a drawing I love by irishwind. I followed her work two years ago, and think she an amazing artist.

I believe artists obtain needed inspiration from the work of better artists than themselves. I hope she will agree to sell me this piece; my studio wall has a spot where it would fit perfectly.

On a totally different note: Did anyone notice the titles of my previous five posts were all anagrams of Veach St Glines?

Chasing Svelte

Chasing is the opposite of repoussé, which is a metalworking technique in which a malleable metal is shaped by hammering from the reverse side. The two are used in conjunction to create a finished piece. While repoussé is used to work on the reverse of the metal to form a raised design on the front, chasing is used to refine the design on the front of the work by sinking the metal. The term chasing is derived from the noun "chase", which refers to a groove, furrow, channel or indentation.

Svelte is an adjective denoting something which is judged to be attractively or gracefully slim by the viewer; slender in figure, or lithe.

But what does all this have to do with films you ask?

Following the premise: as a small part goes, so goes the whole (used to infer — maybe, correctly — that if American banks crumbled, so would our entire country) the current 'Climate of American Civilization And Society' can be measured by examining a microcosm within the CACAS. I am going to examine: film.

First, some back-story: hundreds of films are released every month. Most are 'direct to DVD' (this includes dozens of TV series, both old and new); a small few are wide-released (in thousands of theaters); some receive a limited-release (if they make money, they may later be wide-released). It is important to remember that all of these films employ hundreds-of-thousands (millions, world-wide) of people... from the lowly, ticket-taker at the single-screen, second-run, downtown, art-theater, to the mega-millionaire-family of Pitt-Jolie. Yes. We... who know films, and love them, and know the films-we-love, tend NOT to focus on business and only discuss the art, story, acting, and that ever-elusive quality, which makes good film different from bad movies.

The makers of movie-money are 'chasing svelte' by tooling the final product (in most cases: a ninety-minute one) until they have about a ninety-second slim, attractive, excerpt. This small preview, commonly referred to as a 'trailer' even though they have not followed the feature presentations for 50+ years, is more important than the film to money makers.

In many cases the DVD will make more money, for the producers, studios, and film-makers, than the theatrical release; where distributors, theater franchises, and concession-providers profit most. The trailer needs to fool people into buying tickets and also sell, or rent, the DVD (and let us not forget the video game).

Over the past 30 months I saw hundreds (thousands?) of trailers, and got sucked in by them, causing me to rent — as well as actually pay to sit in theaters and watch — many dozens of terrible movies. My 'good-trailer-terrible-movie' radar is only a 4.9 version and needs an upgrade.

But, thankfully, and most importantly, I saw some incredibly fantastic films. Here are my top twelve, in alphabetical order.

If you have not seen one or more of these, then, see them TODAY... or this weekend (and STOP watching the news . . . he'll either win or we will all die in an inferno of apocalyptic stupidity of a magnitude that will only be entertaining in a can't-turn-away manner; your incessant news watching won't alter the course of anything but your anger . . . only voting will do anyone any good now).

11:14 is a 'who/why dunnit?' suspense film that keeps you guessing and engaged. If you are one of those people who dislikes the gimmick of showing the same few minutes of real time over and over again, just realize this is not some shit like: 'Vantage Point' (one of the many 'good-trailer-bad-movies', I fell victim to).

Across the Universe may be the best musical ever put on film. One prerequisite: you need to be familiar with, and not-dislike, Beatle's songs (Note: not-disliking is different than liking, in this case). The songs weave into the plot, small snippits of Beatle-lyrics jump out of the dialogue, and the whole thing is capped off by some great cameos by Salma Hayek, Eddie Izzard, Bono, and Joe Cocker.

an inconvenient truth, a documentary by Al Gore, is the only documentary that made it to this list (and I watch quite a few). If you want to learn some of the specific reasons scientists know the earth is warming because of things we've done and are doing, watch. If you already know everything because FOX news tells you about all the things the bible leaves out, don't watch.

Brick is the most unusual mix of 'young love' meets 'Sam Spade'. Joseph Gordon-Levitt can almost do no wrong in my book (and his character, here, is no exception). The dialogue requires your complete attention; not a film to watch while anything else could distract you (a friend told me it helped when she watched it with subtitles because of the constant, fast-original, slang).

Cashback is about a sketch/painter-artist (so I may be biased to include it here). It also contains dry 'British' humor and pretty naked women (two other things, which may cause me to give it preferential treatment). It has a subplot that centers around a science-fictionesque ability of the main character . . . and an SF trailer can suck me in better than most. So — with all that aside — how can this be a great film? It just is.

Children of Men is Clive Owen at his absolute best. If there is a better representation of the 'ever-weary-reluctant hero' character I have not seen it. This strong futuristic-SF/road film should be at the top of your to-see list (or your to-see again list if you've watched all of these).

Hard Candy, a small-budget revenge-film that doesn't get off-message and delivers in a chilling, thrilling way, shows that Ellen Page (Juno) has always been able to pick a great role (and was always able to nail her performance).

No Country For Old Men is the best drama on the list. If you haven't already seen this film you must not be a film-watcher; maybe you don't watch films recommended by others, or shun films that have won awards. If so . . .there are some funny things over on U-Tube, whyn't you go check 'em out? Right now. Yea, now.

Old Boy will shock and enthrall those who don't mind subtitles (it's Korean). It was released in '05, but I didn't see it until '07. If you do any research on it, you'll have the plot-twist(s) spoiled and then it won't be a mystery, will it? Not for squeamish viewers. Strangely, this is the only subtitled film that made this list of must-see's. Since my taste runs heavily foreign (maybe as much as 30%) I'm surprised only one made my list.

Shortbus is the best quasi-porn-esque film I've ever seen. John Cameron Mitchell (Hedwig and the Angry Inch) wrote and directed this sex-story, included funny dialogue, a real plot, found good-to-OK actors and actresses, and actually got it distributed (limited release) in theaters. If you have always hated porn films (except the parts between the fast-forward's) this is for you. If you are homophobic this is not for you.

Southland Tales, one film I've, now, put on my see-again list. Mostly, because I'm certain I'd get more out of the second viewing. An SF-mystery-thriller that is confusing and a half-dark funny; it's the one you'll love or hate, understand or quit watching (with a "WTF did I just see?"). If you have to pee or if you are hungry when you watch this, you will lose the spider-silk-thread of plot. Requires 10 times more concentration than Children of Men.

Wristcutters, a love story contains a funny, one-of-a-kind plot about what the ever-after holds for suicides. This film was almost beat-out by 'Wall-E'; but because it made me laugh-out-loud, contained some sharp dialogue, and actually made me think... it stuck in my head more than the animated, cute, SF film.

The Calves Sing

I found this wonderfully warm puppy in the window of a consignment store. I haggled, bought, built a light-box with rope-lights & piano-hinge...and now have this 3' x 2' night-light above my bed.

Nightless Cave

The 'raise-the-alarm and spread-the-panic' machines have been consistent and loud enough, that I suspect most people have already heard that the US economy is a huge, smelly, loaf of a turd, and that it's — presently — circling the toilet-bowl (I'm paraphrasing).

The Question Of the Month, seems to be: "Who Flushed?" There are many fingers being pointed. I suspect two groups of individuals hope nobody bothers to look for fingerprints on the flusher handle: House-Flippers and House-Floppers.
You may be a flipper, you probably know one, you certainly watched a TV program (or six) that showed it being done. Amazingly, every show contains a false-stress/fabricated-time-line, constantly-shoddy craftsmanship, and a: "just get it good enough for the TV camera," mentality.

The flipper premise: Buy an old Piece-O-Shite house (Pour). Spend a little to make it attractive to buyers during their brief walk-thru (White-Wash). Sell it for tens of thousands over cost (Rinse). Repeat.

The House-Floppers bought (new, old, recently-flipped, and fixer-upper) homes, with the intention to 'flop' in them for a couple of years and then sell to make a profit. You may be a flopper stuck in a home you wanted to sell, you probably know a few, you certainly live near a dozen foreclosed houses or condos that were previously owned by twelve of 'em.

The flopper premise: Obtain an interest-only loan for a couple years at a low, variable, interest rate on a house that is...maybe-probably...double what you then-knew and now-know you could actually afford. Live in it (and maybe fix it up). Before 24-months lapse (when the loan jumps to its normal interest-plus-principle and the interest rate adjusts to a variable one), sell for more than you paid. Repeat.

The banks were to blame for making this type of loan an option (but I don't believe there were any big-bad loan officers coercing buyers; individual greed was sufficient).

When circumstances made re-selling for profit impossible — for flipper and flopper alike — hundreds of thousands of people were forced to bankrupt their 'Flipper LLC', and/or have their flop foreclosed out from under them. In every case, these homes now belong to banks. And will be re-sold, in the future, for much less than what they previously sold for. This is their 'NEW value'. Since the banks can't sell any of these homes for the previously jacked-up flippers' and floppers' price(s), they will take losses on all those mortgages, which could force them out of business (buying high and selling low is NEVER good business). The government — obviously — can't allow all our banks to fold. Thus, the bail-out.

Vet. single . . . cash

I (we) chose to move to Portland, Oregon, three months ago, on not much more than: gut-instincts, a hope that serendipitous events of yesteryear were precursors not coincidence, and the urgent desire to flee the southwest. This last reason was the strongest.

In '06, chance and circumstances caused us to set ourselves adrift from employment in: Payson, Arizona—where our personal belongings stagnated, along with my creativity. The mean age of the residents in this forested, mountain town were people who were eligible for social security (I'd use the term average age, but it fails to engender the words: vacuous and ill-tempered). This is not to imply that most northern-Arizona elderly are all... ...well, yes it is.

Because, if most Walmart shoes fit most people, and most people will shop at a Walmart if a store is close, then the statement most vacuous and ill-tempered people wear cheap shoes is indubitably correct. Or have I missed a step in my logic?

I suspect, somewhere in the back of my foolishness, that there is something catching in them-there Arizona hills. The only outward sign of being body-snatched was silver hair. As my temples began to turn, I cried, "We need to flee!"

Now, as a citizen of the pacific northwest, I find Portland mentally comfortable for the likes of me. I may have traded-in some sunshine for rain, but it was a small price to get my creativity back.

On the heels of that preamble...I read an article in a Portland newspaper, which surmised that the local homeless population were possibly all members of some collective organization (like in Fritz Lang's film: M). The author said he would be more willing to provide a donation of money if he knew the scruffy guy at the stop light was not part of an organization. This idiot surmised the existence of: vans, schedules, time-clocks, supervisors, and treasury clerks. He figured it was acceptable to give the "vet" (his quotes, meaning he doubted the claim; ...oh, it's such an effective ruse) a sandwich or a bottle of water, but money would certainly only be fueling some addiction. And, he heard there were instances where "beggars" lived in nice homes with families/automobiles (...and two cats in the yard...) and that they "could be making more than the rest of us poor working slobs".

According to the hack's article, the guy holding the cardboard sign at the underpass was either:
  • a hobo-first-class cog, in the big Collective Union of Panhandlers (CUP).
  • a deceitful addict.
  • a wealthy scam artist.
I'm not going to claim anything the "journalist" wrote was untrue, just that everything he said drew no conclusions and made no important observations (nor am I addressing—or attempting to make light of—homelessness or poke fun at pan-handlers).

Someone who asks passers-by for handouts, bothers me because:
  • Their temerity and lack of embarrassment, when asking for money, embarrasses me.
  • They ask for money in exchange for nothing (I don't think kids should be given an 'allowance', but paying for routine household chores is OK in my book).
  • They anger me just like: telemarketers, door to door salesmen, and public-cellphone-shouters do, by disregarding my personal space and intruding into my non-verbally communicated (but clearly understood by society) desire to not interact.
My solution:
  • I proactively put a dollar in the hat, or the instrument case, of every street performer I walk past (or the equivalent in foreign currency, outside the US).
  • If they take a break, talk to the fuck-tard next to them, or tune strings as I pass, I keep my money (no matter, I heard their music upon approach).
  • The music must be performed or sung live, and if they beg (or have someone else) I give nothing.
I think if everyone paid a small amount to street-performers and none to beggars, then eventually the message would spread. Just like, obviously, the word has spread that all recognized CUP members in good standing utilize: corrugated cardboard, black-felt tip marker and poor grammarno matter if they are a member of the 'honest, self-deprecating' chapter; the 'pity-me' chapter; or the 'most uniquely bizarre' chapter.

When I said I was not going to poke fun a pan-handlers I lied.

Scathing Elves

Am I the only person who prefers an 'American translation' when reading British authors? This is only a book-reading issue. I prefer foreign films in their native languages and have no problem with subtitles—even those of obvious British origin. I also don't have a complaint with any other creative medium or form of communication (e.g. music, theater, poetry, graphic novels, or television programs).

However, when I am engrossed in a book, my brain trips and stumbles every time it crosses a British term. It's not like I can't decipher the meanings. I know if the character is 'going on holiday' she is taking a vacation; that his 'trainers' are running shoes; and that if he is 'going to the loo (or WC)', he's going to the toilet (or restroom). But every time I read the British words, my brain stumbles and it slows down. Then, I recognize I'm reading. Effectively, I exit the story for a brief moment and become aware of the page, the paragraph, the sentence, and my eye moving over words. It may be only a second, sometimes less, but it's enough to ruin a pleasant read if it happens three times a page.

I asked a few people about this and learned not everyone has this problem. I suspect one reason is reading speed. I don't read graphic novels or poetry fast and, therefore, don't stumble on "translations". But, if I become absorbed in a story, I am unaware of my surroundings and lose track of the passage of time (until our hero takes a torch out of her pocket and shines it down into the empty lift-shaft, illuminating a clutch of elves glaring into the light).

Are any British writers re-edited for US Markets (you ask, scathingly)? Yes. The Harry Potter books. They went too far when they changed the title of the first book (from Philosopher's Stone, to Sorcerer's Stone) but that's on the author for allowing it.

The following example (of a jarring British text) is excerpted from pages 133-134 of Steven Hall's novel The Raw Shark Texts (my proposed US-version immediately follows):
I found him by following the flex. The flex from the standing lamp connected to an orange extension lead which connected to a white extension lead which connected to another orange extension lead...

I found him by following the electric cord. The cord from the floor lamp connected to an orange extension cord which connected to a white extension cord which connected to another orange extension cord...
On a slightly different, but similar, note. If a story has been transliterated from another roman (or latin)-based language (e.g. Spanish, German) why are proper nouns not translated? Each time this happens, the same 'hiccup' occurs: I'm jarred out of the story (because I'm being reminded, "Hey, this is a translation. This is not the language of the author.") For obvious reasons, this is never an issue with semantic/phonetic transcriptions of cyrillic or other non-roman-based alphabets.

Year one of my sabbatical

In March of 06 my paramour Pam, and I, quit work and began a rambling shuffle of job-searching (for her) and camping journey (for us).

A medium-good memory from that spring: We were sitting in camp chairs, near the shore of Utah's Sevier River, just after waking (not much energy yet). The fire was beginning to make warm water for our coffee. We were facing each other. Pam's back was to a scrub-bush and tree covered slope. Movement caught my eye. I looked up. A red tailed hawk shot down over-through the brush and trees in a spitting-arc, toward us.
It opened its wings WIDE in a braking motion. As it's talons slowly (not slowly at all, this whole thing lasted three-four seconds) reached out from it's body to begin to land on the top of Pam's head....I began to react. (Oh, how—now—I wish I'd the temerity to remain motionless). An intake of breath preceded my facial muscles beginning to squinch (the expression which usually precludes the word 'eww'). My shoulders began to hunch a little and I started to raise my hand (I think, maybe, I was going to point...?). The hawk's eye-line shifted up from the top of Pam's head (isn't it shit-cream crazy how the incredible eyeball-brain-combo works? This movement of Mister Hawk's head lasted...well...maybe four-tenths of a second, and registered in my head as what it really was: the hawk's recognition of a mistake it was in the extremely rapid process of making.)

It then saw me...moving. It's force-trajectory had brought it three feet from Pam. So close, the talons were no longer visible—blocked from my view by Pam's wonderfully pillow-tousled hair. Pam's sleep-addled brain correctly interpreted my movements as the beginning of a reaction to something I was seeing—and she started to turn. The hawk's head snapped to the side, and (...exit stage left...) with a burst of wind from it's four-foot wingspan it darted away, out of sight. My sight. Pam never saw a feather. The only proof she had/has, that I didn't make it all up, was/is: she heard the pop-burst of wind, which caused her to duck.

Every time I retell the story she says, "You would have loved it if that hawk actually landed on me." I can only reply, "True. It is, currently, only a medium-good story. For it to have become a great campfire story, the hawk and you would both have had to lose your collective shit."

Fall of 06 we began an almost 12,000 mile looping-trek across the US; Arizona to Virgina, up to Maine, further up through Canada, and down through Glacier National Park, Yellowstone, and the Grand Tetons, back to Arizona. This was also a combined job-hunt/once-in-a-lifetime chance to see-the-sights. No job landed. Many sights seen.

One (of many) notable moments occurred after many weeks in a cramped car, guest rooms, cheap hotels, and camps: We stopped for the night at Lake Saranac in upstate New York and rented a cottage for one evening (a splurge). Our hopes were on easing the tensions of our proximity-overload. We basked in front of a roaring fireplace; soaked in a highly-effective hot tub; ate in a kitchen where Pam made one of our favorite meals; and....received some cat love. We were missing ours. A cabin cat showed up, came in, and snuggled. To top off the night—we took a canoe out and paddled into the moonlight with the shore lights gleaming off the water.

(to be continued)


Hello? I am in the process of returning to the mix. This feels like the right time for me to try. Although only a small part of me is peeking out,

more of me will be coming back ... soon.

I, actually, continued to peruse my favorite bloggers over the last two and a half years. At one point Davecat called me on it, but I diligently remained a mute specter.

It has been 30+ months since I turned this canvas to the wall, and much has changed since the Spring of '06 (details should, soon, be a-trickling), but I have continued to follow and love:

Boobs, Injuries, and Dr. Pepper;
Safe-T-Inspector and Arthbard (nee: Safe T Inspector);
Little Black Duck (nee: The Diner at Penda's Relm);
The Seventh Notebook (nee: Laughing Sky);
and Shouting to Hear the Echoes.