Clackers, Creepy Crawlers & Jarts

My parents were the Howard-n-Marion-Cunningham of the neighborhood. They based their parenting ground rules on how something affected their own comfort, or (if their comfort was not in play) their decisions fell into two categories: either they approved in a clueless and over-trusting manner or they were groundlessly and adamantly opposed. Determining which way they'd decide, or why, was never simple or obvious.

Although I played with my friend's Clackers, and whacked myself on the head a time or seven, I never witnessed them shatter or break (as they were alleged to). Mom wouldn't allow us to own them because she heard the noise from three yards away and didn't want that ruckus in her house.

The bubbling plastic and smoky molds which heated my day-glow worms and spiders . . . oh, I recall those smells and burns with fondness . . . (even now) a car sitting in an unshaded parking lot for hours can bring those memories wafting back. Mom restricted Creepy Crawlers to our basement; next to my wood-burning, and chemistry sets.

No one in our family or neighborhood got hurt by Jarts (even though we tossed them in each other's general direction). Playing with them was no different than playing with horseshoes, you watched where they were being arced and didn't play when smaller kids were running around.

Which reminds me of the worst Halloween injury I was involved with:

My little sister eagerly rode around me in a circle as I tried to arc a utility-pole anchor spike (tied to a string) through the back of her tricycle. The tricycle-lariat-king was off his game that day, I'll tell you. After over a half-dozen misses, I eventually hit her in the face with the pointy end, which punctured her left cheek and chipped her tooth.

It looked traumatic.

Of course I was sorry.

Only, at the time, I was actually feeling sorry for these things, in this order:
  • that I'd, again, missed hooking the back-rung of the tricycle

  • her screaming was, obviously, going to put a stop to the game

  • now I probably won't be able to convince her to play driveway rodeo with me

  • maybe ever again

  • getting really screamed at (what were you thinking!?) and grounded, by my parents, felt scarier than the blood and histrionics

  • saying "but she didn't mind playing the rodeo calf"

  • realizing the answer to my parent's shouted question was that I wasn't, but was old enough to (and that I could only blame my stupidity)

  • that in my imagination (as I waited in my room for them to return from the hospital) worse luck added an inch of arc to my throw, which punctured her left eye and stopped in her brain

2D Map of the 4th Dimension

It is now possible (thank you Google Earth) to collect and compile footprint-shots of every place one's ever lived. This collage reflects four decades of places I've rested my head; beginning at the top left—my parent's home when I was in high school—to the bottom right: my current abode.

The overlap of my 4th dimension (movements through time) with other people's, intrigues me. In almost every location, I've overlapped the life-prints of prior residents, and in every location someone has lived-slept in my life-print once I moved. Exceptions are few: I did not overlap anyone's 4th dimension in 1972, because my parents built that home, and the Quonset hut in which I slept from January to May of 1983 (green smudge under my parent's old house) has been torn down.

Although I limited my shots to locations where I slept for more than 3 months, obviously I could broaden my scope and increase my footprint-shots exponentially, by including sites/locations/hotels where I resided for shorter periods. My memory would be the only limiting factor. When I was three, where was that little pink house we lived in? When I was training in the California desert for 30 days (at Ft. Irwin) where did we set up camp?

I shall stay the way I am
because I do not give a damn. — Dorothy Parker

My Ten Favorite Films of the Last Decade

Everyone has their own favorites and nobody shares the same ten (and what a borin place it'd be if t'were). I hope to "discover" some I've missed by sculpting my list now (with the world ending on 21 Dec 2012 — I guess this December 21st is the last day of the 00h's — and it's not too much of a strain to suspect that no films coming out in the next month-and-a-half will be good enough to alter this list...even though I'd love that to be wrong).

To make it easier yet more complicated on myself, I picked ten categories (omitting documentary and some others), then broadened the scope to include films from all over the world, and then re-narrowed it, to insure there were not too many films from any one year.

Mystery — Memento (2000) [runner-up: Donnie Darko, 2001]
Teen — Almost Famous (2000) [runner-up: Superbad, 2007]
Musical — Hedwig and the Angry Inch (2001) [runner-up: Across The Universe, 2007]
Romantic Comedy — Amélie (2001) [runner-up: High Fidelity, 2000]
Suspense/Thriller — Oldboy (2003) [runner-up: Sin City, 2005]
Action/Adventure — Kill Bill (03 & 04) [runner-up: Hero, 2004]
Drama/Crime — Brick (2005) [runner-up: O Brother Where Art Thou?, 2000]
SF/Fantasy — Children of Men (2007) [runner-up: Minority Report, 2002]
Horror/Monster — Let the Right One In (2008) [runner-up: The Host, 2006]
Animation/Animé — Up (2009) [runner-up: Metropolis, 2001]

Authors and actors and artists and such, never know nothing, and never know much. — Dorothy Parker

These pretzels previews are makin me thirsty

I've previously discussed my desire for an ability to discern good-bad-or-ugly films from their previews. Last month, I compiled an "after seen" list (of the large quantity of suck's which sucked-me-in to their suckage so far this year), as well as the small few gems I correctly identified. My average is less than 25% for 2009.

Either preview makers are getting better at their craft, or I'm getting worse at identifying shite from shineola in my declining years. In an attempt to learn which is the case, I've decided to take a slightly different tack (as in the path a sailing vessel takes when utilizing wind and sail - or, better - tac: the abbreviated verbiage for tactic?)

I recently watched dozens of previews and these are the ones which currently have me more than 50% convinced to pay theater-ticket prices to watch their upcoming product.

You can click on each poster-pic to view an IMDB trailer.

Fantastic Mr Fox
(25 November)
Thoughts: A unique stop-motion visual with lots of Wes Anderson's "regulars" voices. The script may not be all that funny. Wes missed last time out, so may be off his game (Darjeeling Unltd. sucked).
Chance I'll pay $10 to see: 60% (18 Dec: GOOD!)

The Crazies (February 2010)
Thoughts: A remake of a not-so-good George A. Romero movie. Their use of a snippet of the song Mad World works perfectly. An-Nuther zombie film? I may be more sucked in, if the last minute of the trailer didn't reveal so much second act information.
Chance I'll pay $10 to see: 70%

The Men Who Stare at Goats (6 November)
Thoughts: This looks like a Coen Brothers Comedy - it's not - the director directed the Leatherheads suckage, and Goodnight and Good Luck. This all-star cast guarantees a quality acting product. I hope the remaining 90 minutes are as funny.
Chance I'll pay $10 to see: 90%
(7 Nov update: Not as funny as I hoped; ragged script; forgettably-average film)

The Fourth Kind (6 November)
Thoughts: This is the second scary movie to over-shoot Halloween weekend by seven days. An alien abduction film from the viewpoint of the PTSD-survivors. Milla Jovovich not kicking ass in a tight suit is a welcome change.
Chance I'll pay $10 to see: 60% (7 Nov update: less than 5% chance)

The Wolfman (February 2010)
Thoughts: Benicio Del Toro and Anthony Hopkins! The CG special effects look nice. What is it with this glut of scary films?
Chance I'll pay $10 to see: 75%

The Imaginarium Of Doctor Parnassus (25 December)
Thoughts: Depp, Ledger, & Law are the same character, Terry Gilliam directs, and the supporting cast is crunch-packed-to-the-point-of-leaking. Chance I'll pay $10 to see: 99%

Avatar (18 December)
Thoughts: Science Fiction and Fantasy and Military Action in one tootsie roll - with James Cameron directing... I sure hope he mixed Aliens, Terminator and Titanic successfully. Supporting cast has Sigourney Weaver, Giovanni Ribbisi, and Michelle Rodriguez.
Chance I'll pay $10 to see: 85%
(28 Dec update: Cowboy & indians; simple script and plot; above avg.)

Gentlemen Broncos (30 October)
Thoughts: This could be hilarious. This could seriously suck.
Chance I'll pay $10 to see: 50.0001%
(6 Nov update: terrible review downgrade. Current chance of paying $10 to see: 10%)

The Lovely Bones (January 2010)
Thoughts: Could be a bad mix of What Dreams May Come and The Invisible. Could be a good mix since Peter Jackson directs it. But when's the last time Marky-Mark acted in a good film? Maybe - 2006 - his small role in The Departed?
Chance I'll pay $10 to see: 55%

The Road (25 November)
Thoughts: Filmed in Oregon. Viggo Mortenson, Guy Pearce, Charlize Theron! I've been waiting for this to be distributed for over 18 months (when I first saw a teaser).

Chance I'll pay $10 to see: 95%
(4 Dec update: Stuck to the book too closely.  Mortenson mis-cast; OK)

... now I know the things I know, and do the things I do; and if you do not like me so, to hell — my love — with you! — Dorothy Parker (from her poem Indian Summer)

All That She Want...The Road Jack — Dub FX

I am inclined to think this man's ear/mouth-coordination work much-in-the-same-way as my eye/hand.

Into love and out again, thus I went, and thus I go.
Spare your voice, and hold your pen — well and bitterly I know...
all the songs were ever sung, all the words were ever said;
could it be, when I was young, someone dropped me on my head? — Dorothy Parker

Magnifico's Safer-Brand Tomato

Last month, I challenged Driz—who's amazing prose can be read at Ex Movere—to provide me with some imagery I could use to refract and distill a digital rendering of his love. He provided the following finely-woven tapestry, abstractions of image and form:
Looking through, looking past and into, a sideways glance, a shard and piece of the whole, half of a reflection, a tenth of soul and yet all too much substance, oppressive in her presence and demanding of my lips.
I feel like everything she tells me is a secret she’s decided to share, words I’ve earned, softly spoken, directly to my heart.
Wild acceptance, unending patience, friendly smiles, happy glances and giggles, girlishness and pride in and of it, sensuality of curve and curvature of senses, wild arcs in impossible directions and sly slopes of female in all of her form.
I feel like everything she does she does with grace, moving slowly as the world rips by at fantastic speeds, time itself bending to her beauty and pushed aside to make room for her divine soul.
Generous glee and softhearted insistence, pushing and penitent in her desires and drive; hesitant and anxious, self-conscious and self-conquered; well traveled and static; bright, loving, noble eyes.
I feel like every day starts where our last day ends, and the sun rises and sets with every sweet breath she drinks in.
God help us all if this love ever dies; she’s made with her love, this monster a monk.
And not in final, but with finality, to look upon her is to desire the memory of her the instant you see her; the very second eyes such as mine come to touch on her skin, I should never want of anything else again but to find that soft topaz glow in the darkness behind my eyes… I should become a defender of memory, guarding precious rocks and ore of the mind, crystal memories of only the best, and whole storehouses of past trinkets and the unprecious gems of my prior recall laid out with the trash to make good room and space for my new betters.
I am better for keeping my memories of her; all present(s) in her presence should be secondary to a burning and wild need to remember them. Men like me should see her and live in such unbelief of themselves at that moment, we should be human enough to fail at our understandings, and find ourselves scrambling about collecting temporal scraps of proof should doubt of her and our moment together ever enter our hearts.
She demands that I feel like she belongs only to me.
I demand then of myself that I rise, and deserve.
After absorbing the essay, I sparingly plied search engines with Driz's descriptive phrases (verbatim) and then crawled through the multitudinously-proffered images until successfully discovering all the materiel I needed for this piece.

I decided to compile the open-source images into this mosaic. Although it might be interesting to try and determine which phrase resulted in which picture (some are simple to see, others not so) I also thought it might be fun to try and de-re-construct the shattered kaleidoscope.

The completed digital rendering is titled Magnifico's Safer-Brand Tomato, for two reasons: because those words are an anagram of Driz's original title, and I think I was getting a little giggle-slap-happy-tired before I completed this rendering.

Art is a form of catharsis. — Dorothy Parker

Petting Rhymester

Summer makes me drowsy. Autumn makes me sing. Winter's pretty lousy, but I hate Spring. — Dorothy Parker (writer and poet, 1893-1967)