Friday, July 30, 2010

Blast From The Past

Dear readers, I have a confession to make. When I was.... when I was in high school, I was... I was in ... The Marching Band! Yes, I was a band geek. I played trombone. And at times, I ROCKED THE HOUSE!! Whew! I finally got that off my chest. I feel so much better now. By the way, that's me in the corner. That's me in the spot.. light, Losing my Religion. Trying to keep up with you, and I don't know if I can do it. Oh no, I've said too much... I haven't said enough. I thought that I heard you laughing, I thought that I heard you sing, I Think I Thought I Saw You Try......

Sorry, but that's a good song, and I couldn't resist. Okay? Anyway, to the point of this post. Today, I went to my FB page and saw that an old friend of mine had gone through her photo album and posted over a hundred photos of her time in the marching band. Lo and behold, I make a couple of cameo appearances in these photos! I spun through the posted pictures with my eyes wide and my jaw on the floor.

My God, was I EVER really THAT YOUNG!!!

People have been telling me I was an "old soul" from when I was about 12, and I've never really felt like a kid, but when I look at those pictures, all I could see was how young I was. I see myself in those pictures and remember the person I was, before my first love (and heartbreak), going away to college, getting my first apartment, my first professional job, and it's just amazing how much I had yet to experience and learn. What's also amazing how much of that teenager still exists today. I still enjoy the same styles of music that I enjoyed then, though I have added more. I still enjoy performing, though I don't get to do it as often. I still believe some of the things I did back then. Hell, I even still have my trombone!

Something that adds to the shock of seeing these photos is that I don't have any photos of that time in my life. Like most people, I wasn't in a good place during my high school years. One consequence of that was a lack of desire to document any of that time. I regret that decision now, but at the same time, I kind of enjoy the rush of seeing those pictures after so long.

I have to admit, it was fun looking at the pictures and remembering good times. I was even reminded of a trip to NYC and the Empire State Building that I had COMPLETELY forgotten about! Later on, I'm going to go through my stuff and see if I have any pictures of my own to share... You never know, I might have some pictures that will catapult someone ELSE on a trip down memory lane. How cool would that be, giving someone else the fun & joy of a blast from the past!!

Thursday, July 29, 2010

On The Way To Work

I can't BELIEVE I forgot to post this yesterday!! Anyway, here's a funny thing. I was driving in to work yesterday morning, and for the most part it was the same as any other day.

Just before I got to my job I saw this giant tractor trailer truck pulling out of a lot next to my job. What made this noteworthy is that the truck itself was LAVENDER!!!

Can you imagine it?? I laughed all the rest of the way to work.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

The Game Is On...

I have to ask myself, what is it about the producers of British TV that gives them that sixth sense when picking actors for Sherlock Holmes? It's truly astounding. They haven't missed yet. I found a new tv show this past weekend. It airs on BBC 1, Sundays at 9pm. It's called Sherlock.

The premise of the show is Sherlock Holmes solving cases TODAY. In our time. Check out the trailer:

The actor portraying Holmes is Benedict Cumberbatch, whom we've seen in Atonement & The Other Boleyn Girl. Watching him as Sherlock is truly astounding. He blends the essence of the character with modern day sensibilities effortlessly. And then of course there's Holmes' right hand man.

Dr. Watson is portrayed by Martin Freeman, whom we all know and loved as Arthur Dent in the Hitchhikers Guide to The Galaxy movie! Watson is a complex character to play as he is witness, sounding board, moral restraint, and comic foil to Holmes. All of it in small subtle beats. Much of Holmes' over the top intensity is grounded by Watson, and Freeman plays it like he was born to it.

My research says that this is a three episode arc, but based on the first ep, I hope to God there's more than that coming. If you can, check it out! You'll have a grand time.

City Boy Culture Clash

I was born in the greatest city in the world, New York City. And with certain exceptions (most notably, college in Middlebury, VT) I've lived most of my life in urban areas until recently when I moved here to New Hampshire. Granted I am living in Manchester, which is a city in New Hampshire, but there's still a great deal of rural thinking around here. Here's an example:

I was on my way to work today and as usual had to stop to pay the toll. (I don't have one of them there new fangled EzPass thingamajigs, dag nabit!) As I'm pulling in line for the cash lane of the toll plaza. I happen to get behind a truck that has a trailer with not one but TWO COWS inside!! That's right TWO COWS!

One of them had attitude, too, cause it kept eyeballing me the whole time I was behind the truck. The truck took the next exit after the trucks and the cows left with out even mooing a good bye. Cows today, they just don't have any manners...

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Top 5... Best Superpowers

As a geek and comic book lover, it's pretty much inevitable that the topic of super powers comes up for some type of consideration. When it comes to super powers, I don't necessarily go for the flashy, world domination type of ability. What I value in the super power market is versatility, not attention. With that in mind, I present you my top five favorite super powers, in order of preference.

5: Invisibility - The versatility here is the near limitless situations where this power can be used effectively. Most of which involve seeing things you shouldn't see or hearing things you shouldn't hear. My preferred version of invisibility is from the Sci-Fi Channel's tv show "The Invisible Man", where clothing can also be made invisible.

4: Telekinesis - A simple power, but with proper application can do a great deal. For example, I could levitate an object I'm standing on (or levitate myself), giving me the ability to fly.

3: Teleportation - Like invisibility, the ability to teleport is versatile because of the wide variety of situations to which it can be applied. Just watch the intro to X-Men 2 and you'll see what I mean.

2: Control machines - This power is versatile because of the increasing number of areas that are under the control of machines. From banking, to telecommunications, to traffic, any and all can be used.

1: Control Magnetism - This the most versatile of powers, since with the proper application of scientific principles, one can replicate a wide variety of abilities such as flight, energy blasts, levitation of other objects, invisibility, etc. Plus with our society getting more and more technologically advanced every day, the effects of this power reach further & further.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Thoughts On... Principles

"Principles only mean something when you stick to them when its inconvenient."
- Author Unknown

Last night, I watched a movie that a friend of mine recommended to me awhile ago called, Unthinkable. The movie itself is a fascinating and engrossing suspense thriller that covers a wide variety of politically charged topics. What I found most interesting was its exploration of American societal principles in the face of threats and dangers. The bulk of the movie deals with the EXTREME interrogation of an American Muslim who planted three nuclear bombs in three U.S. cities. As time runs out on the bombs, the interrogation becomes more extreme, going beyond physical torture of the man to torturing the people he cares about.

In the U.S., it is believed that everyone has rights. Even those people who have committed crimes have rights, granted some of their rights are taken away as punishment for their crimes, but they still have certain core rights. The movie raises the question of what happens when the criminal threatens millions of lives? In the case of the movie, does that justify torture methodologies like amputation of fingers, electrocution, or water boarding? What about torturing the people the criminal cares for? The criminal's wife or children? Does such a widespread threat where in the best case hundreds of thousands of people (in the worst case millions) die justify removing the rights of one individual? If so, what about two? In the context of the movie, does the threat to millions of people justify the murder of the wife of the criminal responsible for that threat? What about the criminal's children?

These are very tough questions to answer. And you have to consider the millions of people whose lives are in the balance. Not just the victims, but also their families and friends.

The dictionary defines "principle" as, 1) a comprehensive and fundamental law, doctrine, or assumption, 2) a rule or code of conduct. And in MY code of conduct, my personal set of rules that I try to live by, I believe the quote at the top of this posting. It's when you're at your worst that you know what you truly believe in. And those beliefs, those principles, they are the framework you build your life around. You live by them, and yes, if necessary, you die by them.

100th Blog Post

I can't believe I've made it to 100 posts on here. I've never consistently shared my views about ANYTHING that much. Granted these posts are on a variety of topics, but they are still my views, thoughts and opinions, and given that I spend so much of my time in solitude, it's unusual to have so much of me floating out in cyberspace.

Thanks go out to my followers for reading and commenting when you have the time! I hope to have given you some food for thought, and possibly for discussion!

Next step: 1000!!!

Monday, July 19, 2010

Top 5... Greatest Batman Stories

With this post, I'm starting one of two new running threads in my blog, the Top 5 list. In this case, here are my top five greatest Batman stories.

5: No Man's Land - This story was just amazing. The death of Gordon's wife, the virtually endless amount of work to re-take Gotham City. This was an epic read, and I didn't even read all of the issues! Plus this series introduced both Lex's bodyguard, Mercy Graves & Joker's sometime girlfriend, Harley Quinn.

4: The Long Halloween - Following in the footsteps of Batman: Year One, this story is great because it delves more into the life of Harvey Dent before he became Two-Face and also because it takes most of Batman's Rogue's Gallery and changes them from mob-enforcers & thugs to true super-villains.

3: Death In the Family - The death of Jason Todd. 'Nuff said.

2: Under The Hood - The power of this story comes from Batman having to face the decisions he made after Jason Todd's death. As well as facing the brutal consequences of Batman's most harshly kept rule: Never to kill.

1: KnightFall - For me, this is the single greatest Batman story told. No other story goes so deeply into the primal psychology of why Bruce Wayne chooses to remain Batman, how Wayne kept from crossing over into evil, and how incredibly difficult taking up the Mantle of The Bat really is.

Supernatural: The Anime

Two things you should know: 1) I have always been into Supernatural. From the first episode, the show owned me. 2) Ever since I first heard about it, I've been into Japanese anime. Recently, I found out some fantastic news. These two passions of mine will soon be coming together! Warner Bros Studios has announced the release of Supernatural: The Anime!

The animation will be done by one of the greatest animation studios in Japan: MadHouse. This studio has produced some of my favorite animes of all time: Ninja Scroll, Batman: Gotham Night, Vampire Hunter D:Bloodlust, Gungrave, Claymore, and Black Lagoon. The creator of the live-action show, Eric Kripke, will also be working on the anime.

It looks like there'll be a 22 episode run which takes place over the first two seasons of the live action show, animating some of the best live action episodes, as well as presenting new adventures, new enemies. The episodes will also filling in back story with prequel episodes & filling time with secondary characters.

The first episodes of the anime should be released in January 2011. In the meantime, check out these character designs. The Winchester brothers look awesome!



Saturday, July 17, 2010

Your Mind Is The Scene Of The Crime

In recent years, Hollywood has inundated movie theaters with banal sequels and a seemingly endless stream of mindless remakes. Just when it seems that the studio system can not produce any more original ideas, Christopher Nolan gives us his latest film, Inception. Now, I first found out about Christopher Nolan's work after watching Memento. At the end of that film, I knew Nolan would become one of the greatest directors on Earth. But, even with that insight, I had NO IDEA what this man was and IS capable of in film.

Christopher Nolan's movies are often criticized for being too intelligent, requiring his audiences to actually pay attention in order to understand the plot of the film. And Inception is, by far, Nolan's most intelligent work to date. While the storyline of the movie is very difficult to explain without ruining the story, I can tell you that Inception is about a team of people who have the ability to steal information from the subconscious mind while someone is dreaming. This team, lead by Leonardo DiCaprio's character "Dom Cobb", is hired to pull a dream-heist with the payoff being the one thing Cobb wants most.

Nolan blends all his signature tricks in this film: Massive, almost God-like cityscapes (like in the Batman films) allow for a level of anonymity for the characters, while at the same time the cold, impersonal nature of those cityscapes highlights the individual psychology of those same characters. Nolan uses the dreams to explore that psychology giving Inception the emotional depth and twists necessary to make the story really hit home (like in Memento). And Nolan balances the real world and the dream world with a superior level of writing and storytelling mastery (like in The Prestige). Yet, for all the connections to his previous works, and to movies like The Matrix, by blending all of the elements of his style with the pace of a heist film, Nolan produced an entirely unique creation. Inception is unlike any of his other works, yet reminiscent of them in such a way that makes it almost the next logical step in his career.

I'm telling you right now, dear readers, if you're looking for some mindless entertainment, do not under any circumstances go to watch Inception. This is not that kind of movie. Which kind of brings us to an interesting question: what kind of movie is Inception? And unfortunately, I can't really give a solid answer to that without ruining the story. It's a heist film, but it's not. It's a psychological thriller, but it's not. It's an action movie, but it's not.

All I can say is that for me, this movie was a dream come true. This move was SO GOOD, it has completely wiped Leonardo DiCaprio's slate clean. I no longer have any gripes against DiCaprio's project choices and I look forward to hearing about his next film. As for Inception, I can't wait to go see it again!

The Hunt Is On...

When the first Predator film movie came out, I found myself only really interested in the latter part of the film, when the military unit was being hunted by the Predator. I found myself wishing, actually, that the WHOLE movie was done in that mode, instead of wasting time with useless plot points unnecessary to the theme of the film. Imagine how fantastic that movie would have been, finding out who and what these people were during the small, still moments and for the rest of time riding the thrill of the hunt.

The interesting thing about hunting is how clear cut & focused the process of a hunt is. A hunter finds its prey, then uses whatever tools and environmental advantages it has to capture/kill its prey. There is no extraneous information, no emotional complications, just the hunt. Successful or not, there is just the hunt. And the hunt ends when either the prey gets away, or the hunter kills the prey. There's no lingering and no aftermath, the end of the hunt is just as clear cut as the hunt itself. That kind of simplicity is what the studios needed to bring to the Predator series, in my opinion. And finally, they have done that. I can honestly say that the movie I had imagined is Predators.

The movie starts with the arrival of new prey to the hunting grounds, a.k.a. the beginning of the hunt. As the story progresses, we find that the prey are hunters themselves, and they use their predatory skills to not only try to survive what's happening to them, but also to understand the creatures hunting them. This adds a new dimension of psychology to the series, since the people in the movie aren't a cohesive unit and attempt to play out their own hunts while being hunted by the Predators themselves.

As with all of the Predator movies, there are fantastic action sequences, delicious moments of suspense, and one-on-one combat scenes that are simply captivating. My personal favorite is the fight between one of the Predator aliens and the Yakuza enforcer. When you watch the movie, dear readers, you'll understand why.

The Predator franchise is surprisingly resilient. That resiliency has to do entirely with the simple, primal nature of the Predator itself. It's taken Hollywood a little over twenty years, but they finally managed to produce a film that showcases that primal force. And it is awesome. When I walked out of the theater after watching Predators, there was one thought in the front of my mind: "It's about damned time!!"

Thursday, July 15, 2010

My absence...

Dear readers,

This post is an apology. I have been denying you the fruits of my vision, and I am sorry. The fact is, it's been exceptionally hot in my area of the country and that heat has been magnified in my apartment. Consequently, my normal reasoning levels have dropped due to the heat sapping my neural energy.

The situation has been corrected. I got myself an air conditioner for my bedroom and as you can clearly see from this post, it's already allowing me to replenish my neural energy and regain my mind and myself. I will be posting again within the next couple of days.

Be patient with me, dear readers. The drought will end soon!

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Thoughts On... Being Nice

Despite my best efforts, I'm a nice guy. And while I tend to broadcast an air of "leave me alone", that underlying niceness makes for an approachability that makes me seem "safe" to people. Here's an example of what I'm talking about:

About a year or so ago, I was sitting on the front porch of my mom's house, trying to escape the heat of the summer night. My neighbors had gone to their houses, and I was spending some time alone. Seemingly out of nowhere, a girl shows up asking me for help. She was really messed up, tears were streaming down her face, her yellow dress was ripped in several places, and she was unsteady on her feet. She told me that she had just gotten away from a bad fight with her boyfriend who lived across the street, and needed to get to the store where her mother was so she could go home. But she wasn't familiar with this area, and needed the number of a cab company.

I called a cab for her, and then sat & waited for the cab with her. I tried to keep her talking in an effort to calm her down, and to get her to stop crying. When the cab got there, I made sure the driver knew where she was going, and then they drove away. Despite the state she was in, the girl was very beautiful. And several of my male friends, after hearing this story, told me I should have made some kind of move on her. Any other guy would have gotten her phone number or something. But during the whole time I was helping her, the thought never crossed my mind. She was hurt, scared & alone, and needed help, so I helped her.

In the days afterward, I was angry at myself, because that incident is conclusive proof that I don't have that air of "danger" that seems to be necessary to attract a girl. And it just seemed like one more thing I didn't have, one more thing missing in me that other men had. Once I got through the anger and started thinking again, I came to see a very interesting fact. Despite the fact that the girl was obviously freaked out, and had no reason to trust ANYONE, let alone some strange guy sitting on a porch, she came to me. That is an act of trust. And here's the funny thing: I LIKE being trusted. I LIKE knowing that when people are in trouble, they feel they can come to me for help. And even stranger, I LIKE helping people.

Everyone knows the saying, "Nice guys finish last", right? When you think about it, finishing last is not a bad thing, really. Nice people help others in times of need, like the example above or the incident that spawned this post when my sister did a similar thing for someone yesterday. Just like people have helped me through my times of need. And if the cost of that is that I "finish last" as the saying goes, it's an easy price to pay.