Archive for April, 2011

THIS:

Is pretty much the worst thing in the world.

THIS!

is pretty much the best thing in the world.

Adjust your scales accordingly.

[Hey, this is pretty fun:  short story from first-time contributor Xavier McCaffrey.]

Because my name is Xavier, we called her the X-Wife, which seemed funny at the time. But that was before the X-Wife cut out my heart with an X-Acto knife. Maybe I should have seen we¹d be incompatible, her with her X-Box, me with my Wii.  We met at a movie with a mutual friend, ditched him, and immediately commenced an X-rated extravaganza. She went off her antidepressants, saying I was her Xanax now. Spending the rest of our lives together was a present we couldn¹t wait until Xmas to unwrap, so we married a month after we met. For a while, everyone else on earth was a foreigner, and we were xenophobes. Things went along well until the morning I woke up and realized the X-Wife had made a Xerox of herself in the night and left me with the copy. All of a sudden, her eyes were Algebra, and I couldn¹t solve for X. Her maps had changed, and I could no longer find the X marking the spot, much less access her buried treasure. Once she no longer let me flip her on her x-axis, I began to lose interest. Despite all her xxxs and ooos, I was as inert as Xenon. I lost the stick to play her xylophone. Sometimes, she said, she wished I’d been dealt the second x chromosome, not her. I insisted I still loved her, but the X-Wife had x-ray vision and could see right through me. Though her deposition was about as historically accurate as an episode of Xenia the Warrior Princess, I signed my name everywhere her attorney drew his large Xs. She smiled as if her heart were manufactured in a sweatshop in Xian, and I learned the hard way what comes after the X: the why?

A spy’s career is destroyed with paperwork, casting him out into the cold – though ironically, the only place he can go to ground is his home town of Miami. The only people who can help him return to the dangerous life he yearns for are an alcoholic ex-Special Forces retiree, and the spy’s violent-tempered, gunrunning ex-girlfriend. While they take odd jobs that help the spy regain a sense of purpose, hidden cabals are working to corrupt him to suit their own ends.

Every time I remember there’s a show on TV with a premise this solid, my heart kind of breaks that it turns out to be Burn Notice.

On the flip-side, every time the description “After a TV psychic’s wife and child are murdered by a serial killer, the former carnival act/scam artist works with the law to trick murderers into revealing themselves” crosses my mind, I can’t believe The Mentalist is also really enjoyable pretty much every week.

TV: Boy, you never can tell.

Sooo…the villain of the new Superman movie is Zod.

Which means it’s going to be that kind of Superman movie. The one where Superman gets thrown around a lot and constantly told that he’s not one of us and he should rule over us and bla bla bla.

I get the urge to not do Lex Luthor AGAIN. It’s expected at this point – you start up a new Superman movie, it’s easy to assume Luthor will be the Big Bad. But the second most obvious choice is Zod. Which bums me out a little, because despite the short-sighted argument that Superman doesn’t have a lot of good villains – y’know, movie-ready villains, threats that are big-screen enough to make for good action sequences, but not so CGI-heavy as to break the bank – that’s really not true. (more…)

Geek Culture Redux

Posted: April 8, 2011 in Braak
Tags: , ,

Pursuant to my long, aimless, and more-than-a-little pretentious ramble on the subject of Geek Culture, I wanted to point this out.  Nerdyorkcity (a twitterer who I wish I WISH had been around when I lived in New York — before there was Twitter, but so what) linked to this site, in which this cat makes some comments about the NYU Quidditch team..

I’m hesitant to link to it, because honestly it’s kind of gross, but I will because I want you to see what I’m talking about when I talk about the traditional clash between the mainstream culture and the Geek culture.

If you read what he says, and what his commenters say, you can see the problem:  this isn’t, and has NEVER been about objective superiority.  It is 100% about some folks who think and love and behave in all the ways that they know they’re supposed to, and get pissed off because other people are having more fun.

Were our moms right?  ARE they just jealous?

Over dinner with Braak and Jeanine, the musical City of Angels came up. If you don’t know it, it’s about a writer who butts heads with his own detective character.

So there’s pretty much no way I wouldn’t love this play.

The thing’s been in my head all week, and this morning in the shower, I realized that I actually recall all the lyrics to a couple of the numbers, including the Act I closer “You’re Nothing Without Me.” (To the delight, I’m sure, of my sleeping girlfriend.) I had the song on a mix tape when I was sixteen, so apparently I’d heard it so many times I was never going to lose those lyrics.

And then I noticed I was still capable of singing the song that came NEXT on that mix tape:

Recently I’ve been all-out content and dreaming, I have been
Cuz, I have lately seen, quite a bit of this woman, living on my street…

This is how Dave Matthews Band’s “Recently” starts. And the further I got into it, the more I realized that some of the dumbest things I’ve ever heard were coming out of my own mouth(more…)

Thoughts About EVIL

Posted: April 6, 2011 in Braak
Tags: , ,

I have just finished reading The Name of the Wind and its sequel, Wise Man’s Fear. Much has been said about the former, and I have nothing to add. Much of what was said about the former can be accurately applied to the latter, and so I have little to add to this, except for one or two things. The first thing is that I hate teenagers, and sometimes this causes the book to be frustrating; it is correct, psychologically-speaking, for 16-year-olds in general and Kvothe in particular to sometimes behave the way they do, but that doesn’t mean I find it less annoying. The second thing is that this book is plainly the middle of something, and so it has all the faults that middle books have – the spark of introduction has worn off, but the resolution is still a long ways away.

I guess it was two things then. But there’s one more bit I want to write about, something that this book brought to mind, and which I shall now discuss at length: evil.
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I can’t imagine Zach Snyder’s feelings were hurt when everyone agreed SuckerPunch was, at best, a bit of a mess, and at worst, a crime against cinema.

I’ll bet he was braced for it the moment he realized his half-hour short film, “A Salute to Awesomeness,” had to be padded out to be an actual, y’know, movie. With, like, a plot and such.

As a series of interconnected music videos, the thing’s gangbusters – provided all you want to watch is five geek-fetish mash-up short films scored by heavy-bass/techno beat cover songs.

But that means there’s no sense in trying to watch the movie like a thing that tells a story and means something at the end, as it actually starts asking you to do, with a straight face.

Because seriously, once you try to parse the narrative the whole thing… “falls apart” isn’t quite right. “Explodes into a mess like a True Blood vampire, but also in slow motion” is probably more accurate.

(I’m just now astonished that after steampunk-nazi-zombies, dragons and robots, Snyder didn’t try to cram a vampire-pastiche in there too. We shall call that “restraint.”)

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The Sea of I

Posted: April 4, 2011 in Braak
Tags: ,

“As above, so below,” is a thing they said in olden times, and what this does not mean is that the stars control our destinies, nor that small actions taken here can have some vast cosmic impact out there (up above). What it does mean is that the laws that govern stars are the same laws that govern planets, and the laws that govern planets are the same laws that govern cities, and those same laws govern the lives of men and women, and down and down and down, a tower of turtles extending (or descending) through the cosmos.
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You guys know the term “fuck you money,” right?

For those of you who don’t, it’s the amount of money required to be able to turn down anything you don’t want to do – and presumably, be so rich you don’t even have to turn it down politely. It is, in other words, The Goal.

(Oddly enough, the last time I saw it mentioned was in an airline magazine with Matt LeBlanc. So, always remember: Matt LeBlanc can buy and sell your ass ten times over.)

Anyway, I thought that was pretty much the top of the heap, rich-asshole-wise, until I saw this:

Activists slam Go Daddy CEO for elephant hunt

And now I’m pretty sure the rank above “Fuck you money” is “Fuck you I hunt elephants for sport money.”

But now I’m really hoping there’s a level above that. “I ride pterodactyls  money.” That’s got to top it off.