Thursday, December 23, 2010

Glib Reviews of Random Movies #7

Ink
... very odd indie kinda sci-fi/fantasy something or other. highly stylized, possibly edited on a laptop, but if you can get past the awkward WTF first 15 minutes or so it starts getting coherent and the various stories become obviously linked. One of those movies that were I in a different mood I may have turned off, but am glad I didn't.  Basically there's a dreamlands story running parallel to an increasingly tragic real life story about a high powered executive who ignores his family and has to learn a lesson the hard alt.timeline way. The villains are uber creepy, the heroes... a bit too second matrix rave people looking,and the rock video editing is somewhat overdone,  but all in all an ok ride.

Night Of The Comet ...

very fun slightly post apocalyptic movie, with far less zombie action than you'd think based on the cover of the box. But even so, an interesting tale of 80's psychology, and mall grown teens. Has Chakotay in an early role.

Forbidden Planet

 Holds up very well. I think I'm developing an interest in Walter Pidgeon films. Great Star Trek-y template of a "villain". This movie is the basic plot of 1/2 the episodes of TOS ST. Gorgeously shot. Ann Francis and Leslie Nielsen (who I now realize was likely a "Young Vincent Price" to many in that era... as he reminds me of Price in the 40's noirs he did) have a real decent chemistry. Very deep story, great futuristic civilization. I may have to buy my own copy.

The Great Happiness Space.

Inside look at a "Host Club" in Osaka, Japan. The Hosts and their clients (mostly hookers interestingly enough) are extremely forthcoming and honest about who they are and what they do. Most truly have no idea that they are horrible shallow people, who basically live to party and spend great gobs of cash. very very interesting look at what goes on if a girl decides to actually follow one of those "Nampa" guys we used to see at the train stations. Many of my customers at the video store have told me they thought the hosts were gay. But they just look gay. young trendy J-guys throw off your gaydar.

BBC version of Dracula, from the 70's: cleverly titled "Count Dracula". workmanlike re-telling of the classic tale. Jourdan is Wooden acting-tastic.  Bland forgettable addition to the Dracula mythos... adds almost nothing without being offensive or annoying. Easy film to have on as background while multi-tasking. The only real awesome part of this is Frank Finlay's oddly charming take on Van Helsing.
Follow the link and the guy writing there loved this stale version of an old story. meh.

Gran Torino

Simply put:  the "Unforgiven" of Grumpy Old Men movies.

The International

Directed by Tom Twyker of Run Lola Run fame. It had a really good gun battle  at the Guggenheim in NYC. Nice Int'l city locations, and  a lot of great modern architecture. Naomi Watts is unusually stiff. Trying to hard for a Nicole Kidman vibe it seemed to me. I especially noticed how Clive Owen does rumpled, unshaven and sleepless really really well. He could be the new Columbo. The movie as a whole is weak, especially upon reflection. The more you think about this one, the more you realize it's missing.

Underworld: Rise Of The Lycans

Not nearly as horrible as I thought it would be. (kinda like the first two) Not that it was any kind of "Cinema" mind you. But some harmless Vampire/Werewolf Soap Operaness. The CG wasn't as awesome as it might have been. But it was decent. Kept striking me as odd that The Werewolf leader was the dude who played David Frost recently. hmmmm. The Head Vampy - Victor was uber campy in his delivery, making for some unintentional giggles at his goofy expressions, that were supposed to be scary, I think. How come there are no girl Lycans in the past? how did they reproduce? Bad movie, that's fun to mock!

In The Electric Mist,

starring Tommy Lee Jones as the identical cousin (slightly less world weary, but only slightly) of his character in No Country... an old racist murder and some modern ones tie together nicely for James Lee Burke's favourite Cajun cop in this well crafted (Bert Tavernier directed) if a bit laggardly paced Cop drama. some decent cameos from Ned Beatty, Mary Steenburgen... John Goodman isn't trying very hard, but is still funny. He may have lost weight... hard to say.

Scarecrow

with Hackman & Pacino both at the peak of their powers. Bang. One of the best Buddy filns of all time, from the guy who made the also awesome "Panic In Needle Park" - Jerry Schatzberg. Scarecrow has all the great elements of the Buddy Picture (Which has de-evolved in modern times into these so called  "Bromance comedies".) Hackman & Pacino have great chemistry and all the homo-eroticism is nicely veiled in subtext and clever hotdog jokes. Also motherfucking stunning cinematography (from Vilmos Zsigmond who was also in an early 70's groove having previously lenses The Long Goodbye, McCabe & Mrs. Miller to name a few.) in this flick. Early 70's American Road movies is how I imagine America when I feel like imagining America..

Saturday, December 11, 2010

2010 top ten movies on dvd

My Annual Top Ten movies list of movies most people missed on DVD in 2010

(I noticed on IMDB that most of these flicks are not as highly rated as they should be on IMDB... feh my taste is never in dispute in my mind which really is all that matters :p )

(oh and yes I've reviewed, linked most of these before, but not in a top ten


As always my top ten includes a few movies that maybe were in theatres last year, but on DVD this year. I work in a video store so that’s how I catalogue things, by the dvd release.

The Headless Woman Directed by Lucretia Martel whose previous two films “Holy Girl” & “La Cienaga” (aka The Swamp) are also genius. She has the most unflinching camera in use today, in many ways. She captures that decadent banality of the class system better than anyone since Bunuel, in my opinion. Headless Woman continues along similar themes, but is less concerned with narrative than the earlier two. She’s stretching with this one, and I’m salivating to see what she does next.

The Maid is one of those pictures that actually pilled the wool over my seasoned viewer eyes, I thought it was treading nicely down the path of one kind of “Maid movie” ( if indeed there is such a genre, and I can’t see why there wouldn’t be)  but in the end it became a wholly different kind of story. Genius performance from the lead actress.  Great flick.

Tony Manero is another great Chilean movie. Tony Manero of course refers to the John Travolta Iconic white suited Saturday Night Fever character. Which by the way is a kick ass film remembered for all the wrong things. Disco is just the setting. But I digress. The main character in this film is also kind of obsessed with SNF, he wants to make it on to a local dancing TV game show where they are looking to crown Chile’s “Tony Manero”. The tension comes from the fact that the guy is despite being well liked by some, a complete sociopath. It must be seen to be believed, the casualness of his brutality. Yet somehow we’re pulling for this psycho? Yes, yes we are.

Fishtank is a great little indy drama from sophomore director Andrea Arnold, whose first film “Red Road” I had no choice but to re-watch directly after watching Fishtank, so much did I still want to be part of Arnold’s universe. The main character is a young high school girl who just wants to dance and get out of her party time very young herself still mom’s house and the life there… Mom starts dating a nice guy for a change, and things seem to take a familiar turn, or do they? Very grown up look at that stuff we don’t talk about.

The Eclipse has absolutely nothing to do with Twilight or stupid angsty teen vampires. It has to do with big time real Irish actors doing their thing in an old fashioned ghost story/romance triangle. It’s a fracture surreal triangle at best, which is what gives this film it’s edge, that, and the good old fashioned eeek it’s a ghost kind of scares it contains once in a while. Cieran Hinds is genius in this, Aidan Quinn is himself, and then some.  Nice little movie with no pretensions to be more or less than it is.

The Cry Of The Owl is not for everyone with it’s murky cinematography and old fashioned melodrama acting, but for those who enjoy that kind of thing, like me, this is a joy, this film. Like a Val Lewton Produced Douglas Sirk movie maybe? The darkness I guess comes from the fact it’s a Patricia Highsmith story. She was a master of mood, and spare about it at the same time… much like this movie. Julia Stiles deserves some kind of award for her creepy girl turn here. Owls crying, indeed.

Mother The latest from Joon Ho Bong the Korean director behind Memories of Murder, as well as The Host. This film covers much of the same territory of memories of murder, and even has some actors recurring roles (or at least very similar types, it wasn’t addressed at all.) as it’s set in a small town with small town cops covering everyone’s dirty secrets. The Mother in question is the mother of the most recent patsy to be arrested for killing a young girl. Rivetting performance, and despite it’s familiar setting is really nothing like Memories Of Murder, and maybe even as good, I need to see both films again before making that judgement.

The Killer Inside Me is again not for everyone. It only has a small number of violent scenes, but those are graphic in a nigh harrowing fashion. I know many who couldn’t watch those scenes at all, hiding their eyes, or just fast forwarding ahead. So be warned. That said It’s yet another masterpiece from Michael Winterbottom. Bravura film making, coaxes a nomination worthy performance out of Casey Affleck. Very decent adaptation of the classic Jim Thompson novella.

Sleep Dealer is a classy little bit of Sci-Fi which is hard to come by these days. Set in the pretty near future, water is scarce, and people often work using virtual reality to control robots doing jobs often in other parts of the world. All the military is by proxy as well of course, and all private. The army works for whoever hires them. A young Mexican hacker ends up in Tijuana learning about this much more realistic Matrix than The Matrix ever was, setup, while sending money home to his folks. There are acts of rebellion, the world changes ever so slightly. I felt like all the future tech they used could easily come to pass in 10-20 years.

Valhalla Rising is a film that many loathe, and misunderstand. It’s bound to be compared to Cobra Verde, or other Herzogian visions. but that’s not a bad thing to my mind.. Mads Mikkelsen excels as the one eyed enslaved ruthless killer who lives to entertain others with bloodsport. Eventually he follows some crusaders towards the Holy Land for a crusade, but they take a wrong turn at Vinland….I found this little slice of mood and mise en scene to be hypnotic and it stayed in my dreams & thoughts for days afterwards.

This Is England 86’ (special mention:  on TV in Merry Olde during 2010, hopefully on DVD here soon as fricking possible!)  Is the even better than sequel to The Great Shane Meadows’ “This Is England” from a few years back. All the same actors return a few years older, and well, not really that much wiser, and of course a great many bad things happen. There is especially one scene that would be hard to take for many, but otherwise there is lots of humour and dignity in this 80’s saga. I’d love to see more actually.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Glib Reviews of Random Movies #6

A Colt is My Passport

Familiar point of view for a Japanese noir, the hitman as protagonist. This one is good but not great. It's all a bit too low key as it tries hard to straddle that edge between comedy and noir. A truly funny noir is hard to find. This one makes a fair effort, but the actors limit themselves to deadpan. You need Japanese women to be crying more, or it doesn't seem realistic imho. :p) and it falls a bit short of being as cool as it's title. Somehow the story moves quickly, but the actors don't.

Special

Michael Rapaport, everyone's favourite red headed stepchild, plays a schlub traffic enforcement officer who hangs out at a local comic book store. He signs up for a clinical trial of some prozac-y (it's vague what they are testing) pill, but it has the unexpected side effect of making him think he's gained superpowers. he hasn't. Things get funny before they get sad, so it's all good. Great low low budget fare, well scripted, performed in a very self aware goofy way.


Whatever Works

By Woody. Stars Larry David playing an even more unlikable (but somehow likable) asshole than he does on TV who lucks into a relationship with a young naive blonde. Very Olde School Woody without feeling Dated. It's not as good as Vicky Christina Barcelona (which is in the pantheon of great Woodys) but it's a very passable film. I also love that Woody has no need to make 2.5 hour long comedies. Patricia Clarkson is a hoot as the Mom of the gal Larry falls for.

Victoria Day

a nice little Canuck Indie film about a HS hockey player(in 1988 suburban Hogtown) and his odd week he has leading up to Victoria Day. Nice film, well acted by young no name actors, and a clever unsentimental script that makes great use of moody teenage silence in the face of adversity.

Audience of One

is about this small time Pentecost preacher from SF who thinks he's been making a 200 million dollar movie for several years. Funny and sad, but not always in a good way.  Well made doc. But got me thinking that eventually everyone in America will have had a documentary made about them. So start dressing nicer, a film crew may be watching you right now.

Thirst

by Park Chan Wook of "Oldboy" fame. good offbeat (to put it mildly) vampire tale. A priest gets a blood transfusion after volunteering for medical experiments. the transfusion turns him slowly into a vampire. he slowly comes out of his shell meets some old friends, including a girl who gets his loins hot. Korea is a strange place.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Glib Reviews of Random Movies #5

Some more old reviews from my forum. again My opinons may have changed slightly since watching these movies, and maybe they haven't.

Walk On The Wild Side

by Ed Dmytryk. based on the Algren book of the same name. starring the ever noirtastic Laurence Harvey, Babs Stanwyck, and a young (and most amazingly assed) Jane Fonda as Kitty Twist. Fun, fast paced tale of doomed love. Just like in real life nobody gets any. though they have lots of drama queen fun trying. titles have kitties, and great "hep" music. well crafted fun.

Wolverine.

Didn't suck nearly as bad as I thought it would. the ending was an anti ending(and one of the most ludicrous set pieces in cinema history), but prequels often can't figure out how to end properly, so I wasn't expecting much. I'm glad there was less Gambit in it than the ads led me to believe. Most contrived annoying X-man ever imho. The Blob was cool. Deadpool will be back obviously. Hopefully in a comedy. A good example of a really terrible movie that can be enjoyed if you let your inner nerd run free.

The Exorcist by Friedkin,

Great Halloween viewing! I hadn't seen it in 10 or more years and did not watch the “new improved” spider girl version. I hate those updates in general. I bought the edition where Friedkin (sweater vest wearing Friedkin at that) intros the film. I love the odd pace and gorgeous eerie imagery. I forgot all about the crucifucking scene. sheesh. Ya don't see that everyday. Keenan Wynne is great as the film buff Police Captain.

The Day Of The Locust, by John Schlesinger.

Wow. How had I not seen this?  THE Most unsentimental, (yet full of joyous nostalgia and the headiness of the age.) cynical Hollywood on Hollywood movie ever made. A molasses avalanche of spectacle ( a few makings of Epics glimpsed here and there) and the inherent seediness of the nobodies, and somebodies trying to make it in Hollywood at the tail end of the Depression. Based on the Nathaniel West novel of the same name, the movie shares it's literariness, unblinkingly... You want the great American Mise en Scene? It's all here, drama, melodrama, comedy, and loads of tragedy, and it ends in Horror. The monster is Hollywood. Great turns from Billy Barty, Burgess Meredith, and Karen Black is a Total Diva in this. Everyone is cast bang on, like a Coen Brothers movie.


Take Aim At The Police Van

(Seijun Sukuki) Hard boiled noir from the master of 60's Japa-Noir Suzuki... early fairly straight forward film from the guy who fucked up your brain with "Branded To Kill". Some flashes of future Suzuki weirdness. Great dogged lead character, a Prison guard who's on duty when some gangsters escape with a well executed break out from a po-po van. He gets suspended with pay, and investigates on his own, occasionally getting lightly slapped on the wrist by the cops, he kinda sorta falls for a Madam/mafia daughter... you know how that turns out.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Comic Fanboy Soapbox #1

 Newsflash: Not only do I watch too many movies, and too much TV, I also still read far too many comic books. If you are interested... here are a few ongoing titles that I'm currently loving.


Comics that are Hot Right Now according to Buddha.

- Alan Moore's Neonomicon

Holy Crap! The first comic to actually really creep me out in a long long time. Cthulu fans jump on board if you haven't already.

- Irredeemable

Has taken a very big & interesting left turn after becoming kind of predictable for a few issues. Nice.

-Incorruptible

Sister comic to Irredeemable, and a better comic actually with the best anti-hero in a long time anywhere in comics:" Max Damage and his sidekick: Jailbait!
really consistent storytelling and cheek going on here.

- Batman & Robin

Morrison has been having an awesome run with Grayson-Bats and grandson to Ras al Ghul Damian as Robin.
I just hope it keeps pace as Batman has become Tony Stark, a situation I'm leery of. Batman Inc... Jury is still out, it just started.

- Batman Beyond

Nice miniseries that should be a continuing series, does homage to that excellent cartoon. very much fun lighter Bat reading (ooh, by looking for a link at DC I found out it is going to be a new Ongoing!)

- Power Girl

is the new Supergirl (ie mostly lighthearted) It's nice to see some character development for PG beyond her great rack.

The Flash

Barry Allen is back . Classy comics make a return. Barry Allen brings some honor and forthrightness back to the grim post crisis world.

- Superman

JMS obviously recalls what makes Superman interesting: his humanity, not his Superness. I'm really interested to see what he does beyond this setup arc though. Which villains will be returned to their former place in the DC hierarchy.... Supes' villains have not aged well, other than Luthor & Brainiac imho.

Incognito - Bad Influence

Ed Brubaker's awesome Incognito returns with more noirish super stuff.  Zack Overkill is second only to Max damage as my fave protagonist in comics these days.

"The Millar-verse" (yeah I know everyone hates Millar.)

Nemesis, Kick Ass 2, and especially the new Superior have all had great starts. Will he sustain them? I think so if he does like with Kick Ass, and limit the series to single arcs, then move on. Superior especially is making me smile every page.

-Captain America - Patriot

really great I think alt.universe non continuity Cap miniseries that does hella justice to an Iconic character, while adding some interesting modern twists to the mythos

- The Amazing Spider-Man

When they aren't fucking with the continuity (One More Day et al) this series has recently enjoyed some great Spider-friendly art, from newer artists, and has brought some nice new villains into what is already the best Villain stable at Marvel.

- Invincible Iron Man


Quietly the best Stark-ola in ages... nice new direction for the not so lovable alky superhero.


I do read many others every month, but am on the fence about most of them. There's a bit of a glut of similar comics these days. The Avengers are spread far to thin, as are the X-men, though I am enjoying bits of the whole vampires vs. X-men. JLA has been really average with the new creators. Hasn't gelled for me.

end report/

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Glib Reviews of Random Movies #4

here are a few more. I wrote them just after seeing each movie. My opinions may have evolved slightly since then, after reflection, discussion... but I won't do new reviews until (or If) I watch the movies again.

Inglorious Basterds  By “Q”

Small quibble:  I would have liked a bit more Dirty Dozen-ness with all the actual Basterds. Only the nazis got any character development really.. It was quite enjoyable other than that. The dialogue was great and It's worth paying theatre prices to see it on the big screen. The opening act was surprising and awesomely done.

Roman Polanski: Wanted/Desired.

A Polish lawyer finds out he's actually an assassin who can read fortunes in looms... later, he dresses like a girl and throws himself out a window. Ok not really. Actually a very well done doc on Polanski, mostly about the rape case, but also there's a lot of good stuff about his early days in Hollywood/London. The people who are the most interesting and believable in the movie are The Prosecutor, defense attorney and the rape victim herself. She's well spoken about her own feelings in regards to the whole thing. You can see why this doc helped to re-spur interest in the case.

The Brothers Bloom

which I greatly enjoyed. A very light fun take on the Con artist movie. It's like a cross between a Wes Anderson & Woody Allen (Crimes & Misdemeanours era Woody) Movie if that is possible. Intelligent but not hard to follow, they still trick you a few times plot wise. Rachel Wiesz has never been better. Adrien Brody & Mark Ruffalo are convincing as brothers who look absolutely nothing alike.

Outrage 

doc about "Out-ing" closet case politicians (mostly Repubicans, as their closet has a smaller door and is much harder to get out of) The thing that this doc actually points out is just how much compromise and politicking really goes on in Washington DC… which is according to the doc, the gayest city America. It's also the most closeted though. McGreevey is well spoken, when they get to him, as is his wife. They portray obvious closeter Grist (FLA Jeb replacement) as the next great closet case of politics.... but he seems made of teflon and may even end up President ?  It was actually more thoughtful and even handed than I thought it would be. It's crazy all the masks you need to wear just so a few aristocratic families can keep control of one nation where everyone has the illusion of freedom to be whatever or whoever you want.

Agnes Varda's "The Gleaners and I"

Great verite doc about a long tradition in France of post harvest recycling, which is often if not tolerated, encouraged. free labour to clean the fields of what to the farmers is waste (except of course in Burgundy where, and reasonably so, the pickers or gleaners have to wait for the table wine 2nd harvest grapes) Varda transposes her own fears of aging and being tossed in the trash with the lives of these Gleaners, some of whom have jobs, homes and families, but need this extra bit of food to make it. Also the people who make art from trash, or recycle the mountains of appliances that Parisians kick to the curb every month. Very well done doc. Contains a lot of wisdom, and joie de vivre. At the end Agnes gets a clock with no hands from the trash and makes an ornament of it. She is comforted by it's lack of time passing.

Drag Me To Hell.

Very smart well done comic horror from the master (Sam Raimi). A good warning to watch out for toothless gypsies who keep shoving their arms down your throat.

Visioneers

Weird weird, but kind of hypnotic.  Zack (unpronounceable Greek name) is astonishing as a corporate drone (vaguely related to George Washington and living in his house? ) in this very over the top (in it's Orwellianness) and obvious fable on the modern condition. It's either a horrible movie or an awesome movie. I'm leaning towards awesome. Basic setup is that everyone (or mostly everyone) seems to work for a monolithic multinational, and greet each other with middle finger salutes. Dreaming and emotion are discouraged, and people are exploding from the overwhelming repression... from there it gets strange.

Blood The Last Vampire.

Stays pretty true to the anime (of which I've seen one episode) Okay vampire slashy film I guess… moves along at a decent clip. The main villainess gives one of the most wooden performances this side of Ed Wood. Everyone else seemed to be having fun hamming it up though. A couple of the fight scenes are well choreographed if a bit too crouching tiger-ish.

Anvil: The Story Of Anvil!

Hilarious apparently "serious" doc about Metallica etc progenitors Anvil, a Canadian band who got nowhere, compared to many of their contemporaries, who were doing their thing. Why? Stupidity mostly. Never bothering to get a manager? many many entertaining reasons for their failure to be more than the Hosers that they are. In Canadian Metal you don't get a Lars, a Rob Halford, or a Lemmy: you get Bob and Doug clones with Metal hair. Tongues are sometimes in film makers' cheeks but in a fairly respectful way. Great little doc that should give you a good indication as to what it's like for 99.9% of Canadian musicians "living The dream". Makes Fubar seem like neo-realism.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Glib Reviews of Random Movies #3

Not so Random edition.

Two quick reviews of two films I've watched this weekend. (vaguely related, both new to DVD this Tuesday)



I’m Still Here. Dir By Casey Affleck.

Joaquin Phoenix forgets to wash or comb his hair for a year or two, also he pretends he’d rather be a drug addled hipster in denial about the numerous Bromances in his life, all the while pretending to be some sort of Vanilla Ice wannabe. Weirdly this works really well as a film somehow. Either it’s almost real or Phoenix, Affleck and their entourage are better actors than I had imagined.  Clever, but in the end it’s still a mockumentary, a form I’m so tired of.


Exit Through The Gift Shop,  by Banksy
 Is really a documentary, and a well thought out doc at that. It follows an OCD (Oh Cei Dei?) Frenchman as he films the entire street art movement, improbably himself ending up one of the most financially successful street artists in the world (AKA Mr. Brainwash) Banksy & and Shepherd Fairey are unironically aghast at MBW’s odd success by the end, but they still like the guy. Highly entertaining and recommended for all.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Glib Reviews of Random Movies #2

Today's edition. I have a lot so I'll do em in bunches til I get current with my watching.


The Girl Who Played With Fire.

Like Die Hard except slow, plodding, with a Swedish Goth Lesbian Hacker instead of Bruce Willis. :p Ok not really, but I did find it a bit slow going compared to the first movie. Well done, but not spectacular in anyway. I feel like when the third one comes out on DVD I'll watch them all in a marathon and enjoy them more than I do singly. It seems like a series.



Perrier's Bounty.

Poorly named movie that's actually worth a boo. Fairly funny angry young Irishman (dreamy Cillian Murphy) owes 1000 Euros to a loan shark (Brendan Gleeson) who send his gayest thugs after him for some bone breaking interest. Jim Broadbent pops up as Cillian's Da, who thinks he's dying (oh those weepy Irish :leprechaun: ) and proceeds to help out his son in his own strange ways. All of this is casually narrated (in what seems more like a commentary track than a narration) by Gabe Byrne.



Jonah Hex.
Slightly better than say Elektra, (maybe) as far as comic book movies go. And that's really only due to having a half decent budget, and a a few actual actors.



Predators.
Predictable fun & completely ludicrous. I predicted the exact order that everyone would die as soon as I saw each of the characters. No surprises, yet an enjoyable popcorn flick. Funniest moment was La Fishburne doing the "Ride of The Valkyrie Helicopters" reference from Apocalypse Now, which he was in.




Agora 
Nerds!
4th century nerds, and Christians who were the Jocks of the era, with all their nerd hating. Turns out that being a well educated and out spoken woman in those times was a rarity. Who knew? the film has it's moments but kept losing me every time they decided to do a space walk mid scene. As the Senate talks, Hypatia astral travels into the heavens? I dunno. A bit of a slog... a pretty slog mind you. The film looked good, felt authentic to the period (afaik with my limited knowledge of said period) but well so what? Fundamentalist types (of any religion)  are assholes? Yeah I knew that already.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Glib Reviews of random Movies #1

here are some random and very glib, in general, reviews of recent movies That I've seen. I write these on a forum I chat on, and have always meant to copy them over. As I get better at doing the blogging, I'll have more media than just the reviews and imdb links.

I'm starting slowly with the "content".

Casino Royale 1968 Dir by John Huston, and some studio hacks.

Not nearly as horrible a movie (not great mind you by any stretch) as I had been led to believe. David Niven and Peter Sellers are quite spot on. It lags and sags as if there were too many cooks in the kitchen, and that's exactly it's problem. The story could easily have been truncated and perhaps even a bit more slapstick and it would be an "In Like Flynn/Austin Powers" level of Bond spoof. But alas, it is not. Lots on hot girls in bikinis and minis though, including the oh so young "Jacky" Bisset.



Antichrist - By Lars Von Trier -

synopsis: Lars Von Trier throws a baby out a window.
it's about grief. It's dedicated to Tarkovsky and has many Tarkovskian touches/cliches,  worth seeing I guess,  if you like artsy depression



Scott Pilgrim Vs. the World.

Michael Cera was born specifically to be George Michael and Scott Pilgrim. everything else he's done is just the filling between those roles. Now he needs to go away, develop some scars, come back in his 40s as a character actor.  the movie itself was cool in a hipsterish kind of way, so uncool, actually. I liked everything that went on. it was fun, but I don't think it has legs for more viewings. I enjoyed it, but there was some soul missing (that is also missing in the comic) or whatever, and stuff.



La Cienaga (the Swamp) dir by Lucretia Martel.

Martel's first film, (She directed one of my recent faves "The Headless Woman) ... I hadn't realized that she also directed this and "The Holy Girl"; both of which have been recommended to me over the years. I'm glad to be getting to them now though. Genius film making imho. She's (Martel) like Bunuel without the surrealism. Her films really lovingly flambe the structures of class and family in delightful ways. In La Cienaga we are introduced to a sprawling family of drunkards and their children who mostly spend their time cleaning up the horrors their parents inflict on everyone. The opening few minutes of La Cienaga are a beautiful tableaux of ruin.



Machine Gun McCain
... silly movie with John Casavettes as the title character. Lots of great atmosphere in the on location 2nd unit stuff in SF & Vegas. Old Vegas rocks! Also has Peter Falk as a Mafia Don who's getting too big for his britches, Britt Eklund and a nice cameo from Gena Rowlands. It's too bad all the sound was dubbed later, as it lacks the urgency it should have with the dubbed dialogue, and fake room tone. Good movie to have on while reading comic books.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

what's on my mind other than nerdy cliches?

It was a dark and stormy morning, actually it is a dark and stormy morning. Which means it’s either November, December or January in Vancouver. At least it isn’t a snowstorm you say? I’d rather that than the current pissing down of rain pounding on my windows like hungry zombies smelling my caffeine filled brain.

It’s very difficult to keep up with this blog for some reason. Well the reason is my laziness, and or insecurity in my own opinions. My plan was/is to write perhaps cogently about all the media I consume. My diet in this regard is even worse than my eating/health habits. I watch an inordinate amount of TV and movies. I read a mess of comic books, novels, and even the odd smattering of someone else’s poetry. My feeling lately is that much of this consumption goes by without any real introspection, or critical thinking on my part.

Can I rectify this? Maybe, but maybe not as easily as I’d initially imagined. It’s hard to know where to start. There is definitely a drive I have towards certain types of media. I often read highbrow literature, and cheesy old comic books at the same time, or cheesy page turner novels and the odd highbrow comic book (or graphic novel if you are a pretentious nerd) as far as TV and the cinema go, my tastes are also all over the map. I enjoy Gray’s Anatomy for example almost as much as I do Mad Men.

But for very different reasons: Gray’s is a cheesy soap opera with pretty & likeable people having lives I can only dream (and would never want, actually) of. Mad Men is rather like watching a really well written short film every week (most weeks, they have “off” episodes too), it makes me think. Gray’s Anatomy, when it’s doing it’s job makes me cry every week. So one is feeding an intellectual need, the other an emotional one? Possibly. That or I’m a sucker for seeing pretty women cry.

Do I “need” to watch either of these shows? Nope. I get all the free movies (or TV) I want at work. i could be watching nothing but great world cinema, every single day if I wanted to. Sometimes I do, often I don’t. There is just as much satisfaction for me in something light and frivolous as there is in the greatest works of art, as long as both are entertaining or intriguing to me in some way. What it really comes down to is likeabilty and  being able to relate to the characters in some way.

This is why I can’t jump on the reality TV bandwagon very far. It seems to me that everyone on these shows is an unlikeable asshole. I need to be able to relate to people not just through mockery, ie; I can’t sit through Jersey Shore and simply feel superior to those idiots. I kind of blame the internet for the rise of the stupid asshole as a “type” of character that is somehow beloved. Shows like Jersey Shore, Big Brother, Survivor seem to me to be like adult versions of Junior High School. I for one was really glad to be done with that nonsense at 14.

Yet I still devour comic books like a fiend. So I guess I’m not all that mature. And yes I know that not all comics are immature. Some are very grown up and more literate than most writing you see in any media. See the “Walking Dead” comic book for example. The very same writer (Robert Kirkman) has also written lots of great superhero comics as well. Just as entertaining. But is he going to be as famous in non comics circles for his versions of Captain America or even “Invincible”, the comic of his that is subtitled the “greatest superhero comic”? Doubtful, unless those are also turned into (at least so far) great TV (The Walking Dead TV show is already after only a couple of episodes, the best comics to TV adaptation, ever, arguably. ) At any rate, I like to be entertained. So I read, I watch, and sometimes I write.

Sometimes I also “game”. I do play some Video games. I used to in my PC days play even more computer games than I do now. Civ, Max Payne, Alpha Centauri, etc… but now on the old computer I only play the latest (that is out for Mac) Civ… Civ IV. Total waste of time, but often an enjoyable one. I occasionally do a Saturday or Sunday of PS 2 gaming as well, playing some GTA or some other of those sorts of games. My desire for that kind of thing is only in bursts. I’ve not been able to get good enough at console games to feel like spending more than a monthly or so turn at it. 

The other “gaming” I do is of the table top RPG type. I have somehow become a part of 4 separate gaming groups. I have a D&D 3.5 game that meets very irregularly but often enough, a more regular Mutants and Masterminds (more superheroes) game and recently a second Mutants and Masterminds game that is starting next month, and an old school AD&D (second edition) game. All this gaming is probably the most social I am outside of work. It’s a pretty nerdy sociableness, mind you but nonetheless, at least I’m getting out of the house and spending time with other people. I also am planning to DM a 3.5 (the game I have the most material for) D&D game sometime in the near future, planning the campaign ideas now. I want to be able to do a bit of the storytelling that you can do when running a game. I have this weird idea that I can learn something that will help with the rest of my writing endeavours, half assed as they may or may not be.

Where am I going with all this? I’m not sure, it’s a info burst of what I do with my life. I consume and I consume in a very addictive manner. Media being one of my biggest crutches. I often feel I’m not critical enough in my opinions. That perhaps all this consumption of story is a way of avoiding the telling of the stories that I have to tell. maybe I can change that by writing some self criticism, and some actual crit of all this media, here on my blog for those one or two people who occasionally read it. 

I should probably revise this post and make it cogent or something, but I haven’t posted anything in awhile and just want to get things moving.  So it stays a rambly mess of my thoughts and confessions.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

lists and so on

Okay so I’ve already slacked off a bit on my updating this blog. Sigh… but I have been busy with various distractions: playing 2 different versions of D&D, a 3.5 game and a 2.0 game. Both were fun and well distracting from my getting stuff done. I did over the week however sell all 10 of the copies of my book that I ordered from blurb.com. I have 15 more on the way (at a nice discount from a coupon) and I’m actually ahead a few dollars at this point in the exercise. How many poets can say that?

Anyways I haven’t really spent the week doing much in the way of critical thinking, other than self flagellation over my crappy diet lately. I’ve been far too soft on the snack front, over the halloween period. Though my pumpkin pie consumption this season is way way down from last year. That’s something.  I did come up with this glib ranking of Terry Gilliam Movies:

the Gilliam Scale I use is generally as such, with whimsical variation occasionally depending on my mood.

1. Brazil! (a No Brainer if you know me I think.)
2.(Tie) Baron Munchhausen/Time Bandits ( I double bill this occasionally)
3. Fear & Loathing In Las Vegas (which I hated the first time, but now I don't even know why)
4. The Fisher King (grows on me with each viewing )
5. TideLand (a film everyone loathes except me. It's my "Amelie".)
6. Twelve Monkeys (I haven't watched this in a long time because I fear it hasn't aged well. I must brave it soon though I think)
7. Brothers Grimm ( I haven't seen it. It seems unfathomable to me, but I just haven't felt like watching it. More fear!)
8. The Imaginarium Of Dr. Parnassuss (Is such a disappointing mess that in comes in behind the one I haven't seen :( )

Seeing as it is a bit of a gloss over over Gilliam’s oeuvre (minus the obvious Python stuff which has it’s own scale of awesomeness.) I won’t go into more detail. I like the list format.

Continuing with another list, here are my upcoming creative irons that are simmering in the low fires of my brain as I type this:

    1.    Arthurian Cycle of Poems/Photographs/Art.
    2.    A new edition of my 1st poetry collection: “Like Bukowski In Drag” (also with photos and some new pieces to make it a similarly length to “A Cure For Mirrors”. Like Bukowski…” is my “Leaves Of Grass”?
    3.    A Coffee Table book of some of my better photos from Japan (with some short creative non-fiction based on my experiences in Japan)
    4.    The finishing up and either sending off to “real” publishers or self publishing of at least one of my half finished novels.
    5.    The continual making of video poem versions of various of my own poems, and the occasional famous poem tribute videos

That’s plenty of fish to fry. I’d like to have most if not all of these projects accomplished by January 2012.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Onwards.


 Continuing my meandering through my personal bugaboos...

I'm not going to go into a big thing here re-investigating my gender dysphoria, something that still holds me back self image wise, but more so now because of my history of dealing/not dealing with it, than my current state of mind or being. All I will say is that It's one of my core issues of regret and shame, that holds me back if not on a conscious level, definitely as an undermining force in regards to my confidence with meeting someone I might be interested in dating. As well, it's a distraction from "the work" (the work being writing, publishing, making videos, whatever creative enterprises I am involved in.) I often feel like I spend an inordinate amount of time making negative reasons why I can't do the things I'd like to be doing, and my "history" or baggage as it were in this area is the easiest place to go for me.
Where I think I am dealing in a positive light with all this he/she hoohaw is in my writing. A go to topic for many poems, story ideas that I've had, and some of my more successful (to my mind) pieces of writing stem from my obsession (to put it glibly) with lady-ness and my lack thereof. It's also a convenient crisis that makes it easier to withdraw from moving forward in other paths in life, like writing, publishing, or dating, even. It's easy to convince yourself that if you don't know how you want to be perceived, that others will not be able to do the same for you, and then you can just stop moving forward and wallow in your grief at not having the chutzpah to just work it all out into that vague perfection that you have in mind. At least that's my experience.
Unsatisfying as that is, it is the merry-go-round of my life. Right now however I'm trying really hard every day to gain some discipline by either writing, editing, taking &/or editing photos, or some other creative project everyday. Some days, it's a satisfying release, some days like today, right now it's a slog. But I'm trying every day. My fear of failure and not being good enough, etc is still there under the surface and that's fine if you can get yourself to understand that the fear is a place where the work comes out of often. Writing about my "issues" is what keeps me sane. But it also drives me crazy.
So what is all this rambling about?
My plan for my future, upon returning from Japan had been to get some cushy ESL teaching gig, that made me at least closer to the kind of money I made in Tokyo, from which I would set up my own little self publishing business, putting out chapbooks, and eventually actual bound books of poesy and even perhaps a novel or two here and there. I also had planned to dive back into the cross dressing and become more of a Big old Queen than a trans person, trying to "pass" all the time.
But when I found the ESL gigs out of my reach I floundered and hid from the fear of not being able to afford anything. I had to give up my bachelor pad and move in with roomies again (and I still give thanks to Cory & Kathleen for being there for me in this time) and ended up back in the video store game. It took a few years of my gorging myself and getting humongous and hyper tensioned, and hiding behind what I perceived as my hideous body, and lack of ability to earn a decent living. Even paying off my debts and becoming debt free was muted by my actual lack of financial mobilty afterwards. Since paying off my debts I haven't felt any more like a success than I did before. I'm still living paycheque to paycheque.
Recently (this autumn) this had made me almost inconsolably depressed. I saw no way out. No future at all for me as a person who could attract a partner, or someone who could earn enough money to do anything other than stay home and watch tv every night. I was in a black place. Then some few weeks after my birthday in September, I decided I could somehow afford to publish another chapbook. I researched and found blurb.com and a few other tools that I needed and sat down to work on whipping a short manuscript of poems together. I did, and now I have a book for sale, and I'm already brewing up my ideas for my next one.
This is at least for now, the new me. My big plan is to keep churning out short books of poetry via blurb.com, and maybe some photo books, and fiction as well. I plan to send out some stuff for contests, and magazines etc as well, as long as there are no reading fees. I can pay to be published by my own self. If someday a legit publisher offers me some real money I'll take it, but for now I'm doing it myself. I'm scared to death, but that's SNAFU as they say.
Okay that's enough personal blather for the nonce. My next few entries here will hopefully be more in the vein of essays, or reviews of media that I ingest and need to regurgitate with my own half assed or not half assed commentary.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

The Event...


"The Event"... (Finishing my tale of fear and why that emotion has led me to self-publishing again.)
The day started like any other Saturday in my life at the time. I woke up with a headache, and a continuation of the sniffles/cough I'd had for like 6 weeks. I downed some antihistamines, and found that I'd run out of coffee, so I threw on my scarf, jacket and toque and started trudging through the freshly fallen snow to a local greasy spoon where I often went (and still go much less often) for Ukrainian sausage & eggs. As I was walking down the street, I noticed my nose running, and when I looked at my scarf, there were drops of blood.
"Weird" I said aloud, thinking that I hadn't had a nosebleed in a hell of a long time, possibly never as an adult as I could recall. I had been taking a lot of antihistamines to fight of this cold that wouldn't go away. So I ran back home holding my scarf to my nose, and eventually got the bleeding stopped (took a few minutes, but I looked up online the proper way to hold your nose so it stopped and it did.) Once it stopped I did just what I'd set out to do, have a greasy breakfast, some coffee another shop (Turk's) and some grocery shopping after that. I even stopped by work and told people about my weird nosebleed.
I played on the internets for awhile, had a beer or two, and changed into my track pants/t-shirt combo that is my loungewear at home and settled in to watch the HNIC double header, Leafs game first, then the Canucks and someone. During the first period of the Leafs game, the nosebleed came back but not the trickle it had been. It was more of a river of blood. Somehow I never got any on my clothes, furniture, or carpet as I ran to the bathroom and bled all over my sink, grabbing toilet paper to staunch it, the paper soon became bloody pulp and it just seemed to get worse and worse.
I tried all sorts of positions of head, body to try and stop it, eventually, my nose had been bleeding for nearly an hour, so holding my nose and head back I put my pants on with one hand and went upstairs and asked my landlady if she knew any first aid, or if she though I should go to the hospital or what (this was the first time I thought of that!) It was going slower, but still a steady drip. She called a Nurse friend, who said we should call an ambulance or I should cab it to Emergency. Having no money on me (between paydays) I opted for a non-emergency ambo ride.
The ambulance pulled up 10 minutes later and they came in, asking me the standard questions. They were a bit stymied as to why the nose was bleeding so much until I mentioned all the antihistamines I'd been taking. They said it was likely that my nose was all dried out and raw because of that, but then they took my blood pressure. It was insanely high. 220/110 or something like that, I forget the actual numbers, but they kept asking me if I had chest pains, or ever did. No I said firmly, understanding that they thought maybe I had heart issue. This was and is true, never had/have chest pain like that.
They said "well your BP is dangerously, insanely high and you have to come to the hospital if you don't want to have a heart attack or a stroke."
Okay there is something to FEAR. I started to be a little bit afraid at this point, more so than I had been of bleeding out alone in my basement apartment.
There was a light blanket of snow on the streets and hardly any traffic; the ride to St. Paul's was almost pleasant as I gave my history to the ambo guys, who btw were really caring and helpful. They made me calm and I didn't feel as scared going into the hospital as I did when they said we had to go.
I was fast tracked into a room where they stuffed my nose with cellulose like it had just been broken in a hockey fight. Not a pleasant experience that. I grimace just thinking of it. I stayed in the ER overnight, as they couldn't get my BP down where they thought it safe to send me home. I do not recommend the ER at St. Paul's. I was treated (and they shouldn't make this distinction in my opinion, but I got the sense they feel they "have" to) like a junkie, or some child having a tantrum, simply because after sitting there with tubes coming out of me, and my nose stuffed with cellulose for 6 or 7 hours I was trying to get someone to pay attention to me long enough to tell me what was going on.
I almost made a formal complaint when I left the hospital, but didn't want to deal with it anymore.
I ended up staying in the hospital for 5 days, up in the cardiac ward, until they could get my BP down to a level they were comfortable with me being able to maintain; with all the pills and advice they gave me.
This definitely put some fear into me. They told me I needed to lose say 20 or 30 pounds at least, and I had to go on a "heartsmart" diet to help keep the BP down. They never really ever came up with a causal diagnosis other than a predisposition genetically to high BP and my crappy dietary habits/overweightness. At the time I weighed 260-270 lbs.
For the second time in a few years I felt I was in a do or die situation, but this time the die wasn't a metaphorical thing. (The previous do or die, being going to Japan to earn enough cash to be able to pay my debts, which had been impossible to do, staying in Canada) So I started reading up on how to eat healthier, how to read nutritional data on foods. I had never paid more than scant attention to those labels before, simply gorging myself constantly, filling whatever emotional voids needed filling with food. (those voids btw are mostly still active and hungry, but I ignore them for the most part these days)
What I found as I went along though was that actually it was a fairly easy thing to eat healthier, and less. (for example: The day I left the hospital even, I looked healthier than I had in a couple of years as the High BP inspired acne/rosacea that had been making me feel like an ugly troll for the last few years had completely vanished.)
Losing weight turned out to be embarrassingly easy for me. Embarrassing, because it was so simple: eat smaller/healthier meals. Now I weigh 185-190 lbs. Though I still have too much flab on my torso since the regular exercise aspect of healthier living is the hardest part of living healthy, for me personally.
I am getting to a point here, and that is despite my conquering of the high BP (which I still take some meds for, mind you, and watch my diet etc) there is still a real fear of (for lack of a better term) my own body that I haven't been quite able to get past yet.
Psychologically speaking my first guess is that this fear of being more physical stems partially from the stuff I was mentioning the other day here, about some things being so easy for me, that I never tried very hard at them. Sports are a good example of this. The very basic aspects of team sports I was decent at as a kid, but as a chubby little bugger, I often was picked last for things, or not included because of an assumption I wouldn't be good enough. I took this seriously, and it became a bit of a self-fulfilling prophecy, and my confidence (and still does) ran very hot or very cold.
This led to me either trying really hard or more often, not at all in situations like gym class. Playing road hockey, or sandlot baseball though, I always gave it my all. The other aspect of my body fear was that my body wasn't really my own. Hunh? You say?
 (Again To be Continued, eventually I'm going to get to my point, but I've decided to go with the flow on this blog....)

Friday, October 15, 2010

Thursday, October 14, 2010

More Confidential, less Report... (okay it is really long, this entry)

Sort of... I want to write something about fear. As it's the emotion/state of being that dominates my life in a quieter way than it does some people. I don't mean the Capital "F" Fear mongering by the mainstream media, government etc, as it only affects me peripherally vis a vie my abhoration (to coin an odd but cool sounding word) of those institutions.
My fears are pretty simple. Mostly it comes down to a fear of failure and that old bugaboo that haunts a great many people: that people will find out you aren't worthy of whatever attention they have been paying to you, or the attention you want from them. It's a hard thing to define as I guess everyone has some degree of feeling like a faker in life no matter how confident you project yourself.

I have been writing/creating art pretty much my whole life. I have a certain inborn facility for it. What I don't have is discipline. I have quite a bit of education, but I've never ever tried very hard at any of that. In school I did what would probably be considered, the bare minimum amount of work to get the halfway decent grades I usually got. the areas where I failed were areas where my own prodigious reading, and seemingly inborn knowledge didn't give me the answers I needed. This would be your sciences/math. Show your work? Pfft. The answers that came to me often eluded the showing of work, and sometimes those were even the right answers.

Studying has never been my strong suit despite the fact that I read (for pleasure) almost constantly. I'm a sponge. It's how I have always learned, really. I listen to what's being said, often while doodling instead of note taking. My notes were never anything you could study from... doodles, and interesting turns of phrase that the teacher or professor used (often famous quotes) to explain whatever they were explaining. I would always do the readings but just as readings, one time usually, unless I didn't get it.

A good example of this is my film classes in University. I would watch whatever film we had to watch, doodling in the margins of my notebook, occasionally jotting a witty line, or an observation about the actor/plot. Looking back on those notes when it came time to write the essay, I would look at my notes and say to myself, ok that's no help.

(NB: Back in my day we got to see whatever movie once usually... most titles I saw in Uni were often not readily available on tape (No DVDs/No Internet) or for any further viewings.)
Very casually I'd hit the library at U of M for magazine articles, books on whatever film, and genre, taking quotes, ideas to shape my essay, again very little note taking, actually. Then the night before whatever essay was due, I'd start actually writing. If I didn't "get it" in one draft, I'd crawl to whatever Prof and ask for an extension. Usually my essays were a week or longer overdue. I may have had some "A's" in there, but was always marked down for lateness, or my hurried single draft incoherence. My ideas however were always given praise. This was all I really required to feel good about what I'd done.

An interesting difference in how I write though appears when I seriously started to write poetry, which developed out of my high school-ish writing of crappy rock lyrics that I indulged in during my first few semesters at University. This happened when I discovered the Beats (through friends at school, not through classes I took), and modern poetry (mostly of the Canadian variety) and realized that my crappy song lyrics were not the way to go specifically since I hate trying to rhyme things.

My poetry is a far different beast than my more scholarly ummm, "efforts". I write and re-write most every poem many times, often dozens if not upwards of a hundred drafts it takes me to do each and every poem, with a few exceptions here and there, that spill out pretty well the first time.) It's far more like sculpting than any other kind of writing that I've tried. I have pieces that I've been "tweaking" for almost 20 years. I'm also someone who if I had more stuff published would still be tweaking things that had been published if I felt it needed to change somehow. This technique worked for Walt Whitman.

Anyway, where the fear comes in for poetry and me is not getting up and reading it somewhere (I do get nervous sometimes, especially if it's been awhile since I've read in public.) or showing my work to someone, or getting edited/graded on the work. I can roll with that, and feel that I've improved a lot of work that I've gotten feedback on, through that feedback. For example when I did more freelance back in the late 90's early 00's for local weekly/monthly art rags around town, I learned a lot from the various editors I worked with, and lost any sense of ego I had about my article writing at least.

I am sometimes a bit hesitant about the edginess of some of my poems, but then I'll read someone else's work that makes my "edgy stuff" look like nursery rhymes.
The fear for me is completely that fear of not being good enough, or at best not doing what whoever it is my audience (editors, publishers) might be is not what they're looking for. There are definite "schools" of poetry in this country, and elsewhere. It makes sense to look at what sorts of things are being published in the magazines or at the publishers you are sending your manuscripts to, doesn't it? I feel I never see the kind of thing I'm doing anywhere I look. But that, I'm beginning to think is just one of those rationalizations for fear of rejection - "Oh they aren't looking for my brand of free verse weirdness anyway, so why waste time sending of a submission." - this reeks of fear based rationalization. But I hear myself say it all the time if not in so many words.

No one wants to be rejected, and if you play the publishing game in the 20th century model at least, that's what you are doing. It's all about winning the lotto really. We've been brainwashed by our culture into thinking that everyone has a best seller, or a hit movie script etc, waiting to emerge fully formed like Athena from Zeus' forehead. We're all creative geniuses, if only we could get Random House or Warner Bros to notice.

This is one of the main reasons I've decided to start again do some self-publishing. I'm pretty sure that even if that Ms. I have at Anvil gets accepted, or if I were to spend hundreds of dollars entering "contests" or paying reading fees to poetry journals (and actually getting in print) I'm not going to be earning a living. But I could be spending those entry fees publishing my own books.

One of the best experiences of my life was self-publishing my first chapbook - "Like Bukowski In Drag". With some formatting help from my friend Tom Snyders, I put together what I think still is a great little chapbook. I sold out two small runs of it basically, selling more than I gave away. This qualifies as a successful publishing venture in my opinion, despite the fact that none of the places I sent review copies ever printed any reviews, it's not an unknown quantity at least in the Vancouver scene.

Before my fragile credit card bought world collapsed and forced me to flee to Japan in 2002, my plan had been to have another poetry book published by a new local press, and keep putting out my own chapbooks as well. I've got a lot of unpublished material from my 20+ years of scribbling free verse odes to unrequited love, weird sexual encounters and the general nuttiness I see everyday in the world. The book deal collapsed with said small press while I was in Japan. Outwardly, I shrugged it off, but in hindsight this actually kind of crushed me.

My writing output really slowed the longer I stayed in Japan. I got a digital camera and developed a love of taking photos. All my creative energies soon ended up there, taking photos, editing them in Photoshop etc became my main creative output, with some trickles of poetry still happening occasionally. But the confidence in my writing was not where it had been after "Bukowski” came out.

When I left Japan, flush with cash and feeling less burdened by the debts I was still paying off, and completely confident that I could land an ESL teaching gig that was as cushy and financially rewarding as my post in Tokyo had been. I was wrong. In three months of job searching I discovered that in Canada the ESL racket is just that: a racket. Real life experience teaching in a foreign country had no sway over potential employers, unless you also had a TESL/TOEFL teaching certification, which everyone and their dog had. Often, I was offered the chance to take the course those same ESL schools offered. Paying to work somewhere was how I saw it.
Trying to get non-ESL work was equally frustrating. Eventually I had to go back to part time video store work just to make ends meet. Fear took over my life again, as I retreated into overeating, drinking and chronic pot smoking. I had to move in with friends and finish paying off my debts while earning less than half what I did in Tokyo.

I applied for over a hundred jobs in 2005. Got 3 interviews. No gigs.

With so little going my way in those days, I now almost feel like it was a darker time for me than my just pre- Japan life where I was in debt to my eyeballs, and fearing those collection agency calls etc. I lived a completely unhealthy lifestyle completely out of my feelings of self-loathing. Then I had the high blood pressure "event" which changed my life...
(I'll continue this story with my next entry.....)

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

short update

Well, I managed to de-frustrate myself with the Blurb.com "Booksmart" tool. (Which is more of an adjective in this case than a noun - "tool") Do not take them up on the "just import your "word docs" into it and it'll all be good. It won't. i had to cut and paste each page separately (not each piece, but each page. Sheesh.

I think they make all their money on photo books etc. the forums were filled with people talking about hardcovers and expensive costs, but if you go softcover it's very reasonably priced. i;ll be able to retail for 12 bucks (There's shipping and taxes if you buy online, but not everyone can get a copy from me directly) or at least that's my plan.

More on this hopefully including a link on this blog to my blurb page with how to buy. you might get one before me. I plan to order some on the weekend. Just a small order to start with. Then once I sell a few, turn that money over into more copies.

no TV No Movies in the evening, just work, makes me confused. I feel like it's 3am, and it's just past 10:30pm.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

learning by learning

Well, I've been plugging away trying to get my book to be formatted properly with Blurb.com's "booksmart" editor. There are no default poetry book settings it seems. The text flow thing keeps readjusting itself in ways I don't want. I will have to, I figured out last night, I think: import each piece separately perhaps. (or maybe do it up in word and save as a pdf and then import it. the margins may work better) All their "help" stuff is on videos, I'd much rather read a few lines of FAQ than sit through videos to see if they solve my issue.

I do however like how easy it was to make a spanking nice cover. I have that part all figured out. Given myself the next week (til payday) to figure out the formatting. The little chapbook I was going to publish is now an actual book of poetry at 80+ pages. I think I will also then apply for an ISBN number through the Gubmint.(sic) Then I can bring it to bookstores maybe?

I am getting antsy that and having a lot of self doubt about being ale to save enough cash to do this project. Luckily I can order as many or as few book as I can afford at a time, and the cost is no less or more than a regular actual publisher would charge you for your books.

But to get to the learning by learning... I feel that I am by thinking of this book project and working on it everyday, learning a lot about how to get some confidence about my writing and my ability to perhaps carve out some kind of discipline from the block of angst,repression & fear that is my creative life. Already in the planning stages I have two more book publishing ideas. One a book of photo-shopped all to hell photos illustrating my eventually complete Arthurian Cycle of poems... which so far aren't really connected, by much other than tone. I'm hoping the photo help me to bring that all together.

Secondly I'd like to do a similar project with my previous chapbook "Like Bukowski In Drag"... planning to do both an e-version of that (as well as all these other ones) as well as a 3rd edition/printing as a "Deluxe hardcover edition with some new poems added, and a lot of artwork as well. Both these projects are in the very early planning stages, and I will update about them as I make progress.

Then there is the novel writing.

My novel that I started last year about this time has been simmering lately in the back of my brain. My plan with that is to have a decent readable/editable first draft done by the spring. Edit it all summer, then publish it myself in the Fall next year. Why no submissions to pub houses? Impatience. i'm going to plow my own fields. I am not adverse however to some house picking up any of my books for more "mainstream editions" if that were ever to happen.

Getting yourself out there and known even in tiny circles as someone producing work that people hopefully enjoy is really all that I'm after. I'd love to be able to supplement my job and perhaps even work there a bit less and more on the writing.

someday. Now to work.

Friday, October 8, 2010

seeing light ahead, maybe

looking for the right fit for doing a Print On Demand thing has led me to sign up on www.blurb.com

they have (cross platform even) a nice little imposition editor that you can download for free to get your document to fit their specs. You can use your own cover images etc.... and the price is competitive. So I'm re-editing for the next week or so, taking out some weaker pieces and actually bulking the book up a bit with some poems I think share more of a tone, though not content. There's a real melange of themes and ideas, which if you know me is pretty much how I roll. :p

Seriously, I do prefer that kind of book, maybe a few loosely connected poems, or a really long poem or two, but mostly different topics, styles almost every page. It reflects who I am as a writer more. I'm sure I will do more singly themed books in the future as I'm already planning a future chapbook of my Arthurian Cycle. I think that one though will also be a bit of a photo book as well. But more than that I can't yet say, as I haven't quite figured it out yet.

Thing is I've got this book up to 70 pages now (I'm using the smallest cheapest book format they have, though I'm going to mock up a more trade paperback looking one and compare costs.

So much work being a self publisher, even when you aren't doing the actual printing. But It makes me feel good to have some focus most days. I needed to jump into a project of some kind, something with some kind future possibilities, and to me the cheaper and easier it gets for me to self publish, I think the more I will do as much as I have time and money for.

At least that is the plan. I want to see this one book through, how well I can hawk it is another thing altogether, and how fast I sell them will determine how quickly I get to the next one. I actually don't really care anymore whether Anvil even looks at my manuscript.

(I sent in a Ms and a query as to they would be interested in my stuff... I have no idea really if it is what they are looking for. I just sent in as many pages that I love as they asked for and hope for the best, but I won't hear yea/nae the latter being the likeliest, as you have to be prepared to be rejected regardless of how good or bad your stuff is.)

It'd be nice to have if I want to start granting to get work, but I think either way I want to try to do at the very least one self published chapbook a year. Eventually maybe even getting my shit together to self-publish one of my barely started great Canadian novels I have on file.

sigh. I hope I can keep the momentum going Ganbatte!

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

A Cure For Mirrors?

Another update.

I'm planning on publishing a chapbook that includes a series of poems I wrote based on a suite of classical music, some random Haiku, the first third of my very own Arthurian Cycle, and at least one biblically inspired (if heretical) inspired piece.

It just might be called "A Cure For Mirrors".... Tentative title from one of the poems. Figuring out the how to finance on my very limited budget is what I've been concentrating on all morning. It looks at first glance that my idea of doing Print On Demand is a no go, mostly because of the prohibitive pricing, and distro options (most bookstores pretend these kinds of books don't exist) and lack of being able to do the book exactly how I want to.

I looked into a local "Espresso Book Publishing Machine over at Oscar's Books on Granville. Too steep again, they've raised their prices since my initial inquiry in the summer, also my chapbook is too short for many of these options. I do also plan on making an E-book of it, perhaps through these guys: http://www.smashwords.com/ They also do the NaNoWriMo which was great fun last year.

I guess what I may to is go to a local print shop (Kinko's -ish) and print off a bunch of covers, and do the interiors myself using a nice little imposition applescript I found that seems to work pretty well. Though it may well be cheaper to print the interior at a copy shop also. Ink is expensive and my printer while sturdy is just an ink-jet.

Buying a laser printer would be a decent investment for future projects. But as I say money is limited. I do want to not stall out on this yet again though. Like my first chapbook, I've been saying I'm going to do this one for a few years now.

I have a bit more actual editing to do, and some tightening up of the technical stuff as well as creating an eye catching cover. I plan to have the content ready in a week or so in terms of little tweaks to pieces that I want to include. It seems like a lot of work, and it is. But I feel like I will be rewarded in these efforts simply by making them. No sane person expects anything out of their chapbook publishing getting your work seen by at least a few fans of poetry.

Also tentatively lined up is my launch, sometime in Nov, Dec, or Jan. depending on how long it takes me to get this done. Some special guests will be there, and I plan to make a fun event out of it, whenever it finally happens.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Another Stab at regular blogging

Okay so I'm going to start updating this blog with the odd rant, essay, story, poem, short film, and/or the usual goofy links from the Internets that I run across in my daily surfing excursions.

Sometimes these rants etc may be of a personal TMI kind of thing, sometimes they may be quirky half assed opinions on things happening in the world, or reviews, opinions slightly less than half assed film, TV, music & pop culture reviews/rants etc.

Whatever it is though that I'm regurgitating on here, I hope will be regularly done, actually. I need to develop more discipline in my artistic endeavors. Eventually I'd like to be filing one "Report" daily, whether it's a new poem, movie review, intellectually bereft, but impassioned screed on some topic I only vaguely understand, or something else.

I think I'll start with a poem, one that I wrote fairly recently and thus is likely unfinished, as I tend to keep editing poems forever, like Walt Whitman (one of my personal heroes if you are looking for further insight into me) I don't see why even after publication, if the poem needs it. Not all do.

Anyhow it's a piece about innocent flirtation, the kind where nothing more than the flirting is important, there is nothing beyond it, at least for me. I enjoy light flirtation as a way to build self-confidence without other overarching concerns about umm "relationships" and all the baggage that comes with expectation from the mating dance. Sometimes (most times for me) the dance is enough to keep me happy. I don't really need more. Someday I might though, I have an open mind.

Flirting With The Girl

every time those milky

tiny fingers

twist

curl into psalms

seductive pouting

sparkles

&

bubbles

on those lips

crackles of combustion

knead my eyes

up in to

fleshy electric apple

cheeks

that

trip & hammer

my blush of

a heart

as we struggle

not to giggle

knowingly

and

instead talk

& tease each other's

awareness

that we are caught

awhirl

atwirl

amidst

this clattering of

clever tongues

and shy silent glances

that blind and bind

our voices in knots

that will

never be

entangled in those

tiny fingers


© 2010 Joe Boyce Burgess