Thursday, June 25, 2009

The Best of What’s Around – Summer Movies

Whatever tears at us, whatever holds us down, and if nothing can be done, we’ll make the best of what’s around. – Dave Matthews

I’m a bit of a snob, come to think of it, I’m also a bit of a slob but that’s not what I wanted to discuss just right now, Gentle Reader. I am, unapologetically, a bit of a movie snob – or rather Movie Geek… yeah, that sounds better. Anyway, last years writers strike has taken its toll at the movies this summer season. IMHO there is a distinct lack of films that are worth the price of admission at the multiplexes this year. I am still voting for “Star Trek” as the 900 lbs Gorilla of the season and I don’t see too many possible challengers to that title; “Up” maybe – possibly “Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince”. “Transformers II – Rise of the Fallen” and “G.I. Joe” are getting so much negative that I’m now just going to wait for the DVDs for both franchises.

That’s not to say that either of those franchises won’t make money. I predict that the Transformers movie will make a LOT of it but understand going in that you are going for a popcorn movie experience. There will be a lot of eye candy but it will leave you with empty calories and you’ll be hungry for the story that just was not included with the Happy Meal packaging. G.I. Joe; however, is going to flop. It is like the second coming of “Mega Force” which was a movie that was designed to sell toys and not to tell a story. I held high hopes for it as a kid in the early eighties and I still remember actually feeling embarrassed for the actors who were attached to this career ending abomination. As a member of the audience in attendance I felt used. I felt abused. It was so significantly forgettable that it is only now – so close to the release of the G.I. Joe movie, that I remember the experience in full and tremble.

So what’s a boy to do? Why you make the best of what’s around. Here is what I’m looking forward to the rest of the summer movie season. Yes, I know that I just did a similar blog a couple of weeks ago but things have changed since then and I have to face the cold, hard reality that I can’t get to the theater as often as I would like to. I’ve got to be picky and embrace my inner Movie Snob/Geekness. That leaves me with these possible options…

1. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. This will happen. I’m taking all of the girls and we’re actually going to the theater and checking it out. It is a great story and I’m looking forward to seeing how it translates to the big screen.

2. Moon. A science fiction character study that takes place (get this) ON THE MOON! Spin is good and it’s right up my alley.

3. The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus. Terry Gilliam is the storyteller. Johnny Depp is in there too as is a last performance from Heath Ledger. Gilliam is pretty solid at being worth the price of admission.

4. District 9. Some guy named Peter Jackson is producing and he put the guy that he wanted to put HALO on the big screen in charge. This will be a cool afternoon at the movies.

5. ??? I just don’t know. Perhaps something of a dark horse will rear it’s head and come from behind. If it happens that would be great; unfortunately, the name of that horse is not on my race form.

Slim pickin’s. Still I shouldn’t complain – good stories are still being told despite the majority of the stuff that Hollywood seems to greenlight these days. Please forgive me, Gentle Reader, that sounded a bit harsh… did I mention that I’m a Movie Snob/Geek?

I’ll see you at the multiplex – not as often as I would have hoped this year but there nonetheless.

Death – the High Cost of Living

The old Circle of Life is spinning at an amazing rate these days. It has been said that “It is not how we die, since all do that, but it is how we live.” I have to agree with that. Life is a precious and fragile thing, lest there be no doubt. It comes for the just and the unjust, the rich and the poor – it does not discriminate. It does not matter if you are some famous celebrity or just someone sitting on a Metro train in Washington DC; it is simply the way of things.

I do not bring this up to bring you down, Gentle Reader it’s just that it is hard not to notice that it’s not a good time to be a celebrity these days. We have very recently lost Bea Arthur, David Carradine, Garry Papa, Ed McMahon, Farah Fawcett, and, now, Michael Jackson? It is not a form of celebrity worship that I speak from they are only human like you and me – flesh and blood; it’s just that in some odd way these people and the rest of us share a history. I used to watch “All in the Family” with my mom and dad, “Kung Fu” was a staple in the seventies, Channel 6 Sports was & will always be Garry Papa’s, “The Tonight Show” was always started with a hearty; “HERE’S JOHNNY!”, that amazing woman on THAT poster was in “Charlie’s Angels” and married to Lee Majors (the Six Million Dollar Man), and “Thriller” was playing on my 33 1/3d record player.

My thoughts and my prayers are with all of those that they left behind – including us. After all, we share a history.

Take care, Gentle Reader. Much love, God bless.

(Picture of Blake’s Tombstone from

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Curiouser and Curiouser

We’re all mad here… I’m mad, you’re mad. – the Cheshire Cat

I love to see what Tim Burton is up to. I have not preferred some of his most recent offerings (“Planet of the Apes” & “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory”) but come what may he is one of those storytellers that never ceases to capture my eye. He has a unique vision and, thankfully, he is at it once more. The first pictures from “Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland” have hit the net. You can see them for yourself right here:

I’m looking forward to this one. The cast is stellar (that’s Johnny Depp as the Mad Hatter) and the story is directly up Mr. Burton’s alley. When March 18th of 2010 comes along you will be able to find me at the multiplex – I’ll be the one remembering what the door mouse said.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Sleeping With the Enemy

Yes, I have officially crawled back into bed with Verizon Wireless and, unlike my previous experience with my Motorola Razor (see: for further details) my new LG Voyager is bangin’. It was cutting edge about two years ago but I am in love. It’s got a full QWERTY keyboard for texting and Twitter, and a touch screen – what can I say… Evil Chicken LIKE. So far it appears that there is a distinct lack of the inhibiting software that proliferated and utterly stifled the Razor. I’m still working on my MP3s and pictures; if I get that figured out then it appears I may owe Verizon an apology.

It is in that vein that I mention another fine site that I have to recommend to you Gentle Reader, to A buddy of mine from church mentioned it to me and now I have to return the favor. You do have to sign up but it’s FREE with no strings attached. After you download what you want to your phone I highly recommend that you make your own from your favorite MP3s that you have kicking around on your hard drive.

Oh yes… I’ve been busy and it’s been too cool. Try it, you’ll like it. Sleeping with the enemy? Yeah, that’s about right – still in the area of the world known as South Jersey they are probably the best game in town with the largest amount of towers.

What’s a boy to do? Enjoy his new LG – that’s what.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Paid In Full

It’s not easy living with a price on your head. You begin to see and hear things in the shadows - footsteps in the mist. One begins to second-guess even the smallest of decisions. Gentle Reader, that was my existence up until this very afternoon.

“I owe a debt.” I said to the woman who politely smiled. Did I see a sultry curve to the corner of her lip? I couldn’t be too sure but I knew this woman held the keys to my future. I passed her my identification.

“Let me see…” she said investigating my credentials. She scanned my bar code. “That will be $1.70.”

“A dollar seventy?” I asked.

$1.70?!” My wife yelled at me from the next terminal over. “Gallant returns her Library books on time – Goofus does not.” I knew from the tone of her voice just how and to whom the titles of “Gallant” and “Goofus” had been assigned.

I flashed her a smile and paid my fine. My debt to society satisfied I took out a couple of Jazz CDs (Coltrane & Gillespie/Parker) and a Neil Gaiman book, “American Gods”.

I tell you this story as a precautionary tale. It’s not easy to live life with a price on your head. The librarian spies are everywhere. Be mindful where you step and try to remember where you left that overdue book.

Don’t become a statistic.

More Reasons to see Star Trek Again

Go for the Easter Eggs!


The Easter Eggs; you know, intentional props, people, and personifications slipped into a motion picture as acts of homage? Well, J.J. Abrams slipped a lot of Easter Eggs into the basket that is “Star Trek”. Did you see R2-D2, Randy Pousch’s cameo, 1701-D’s logo on Kirk’s duffle bag, or the how the bottle of Saurian Bandy was used? …No? Well, me neither (hence why I must return to the multiplex).

The folks over at Trek Movie have compiled a list and where you need to direct your attention. That list is here:

Who doesn’t like an Easter Egg every now and again?

Friday, June 12, 2009

Weird NJ Noyes Museum Photo Contest

Gentle Reader… I do not know how much you are aware of the certifiable WEIRDNESS of the place that we here call home; the great Garden State. I sincerely hope that you have some sort of appreciation of just how interesting New Jersey truly is. If you do not understand what I am alluding to you either have recently moved here, have been blinded to the weirdness, or you have never read the pages of one of the greatest magazines in the entire world (no exaggeration) – Weird N.J. If the latter is true then click here: and get a feel for what’s just around the bend here in our fair state.

So, do you know something that could make it into the exposition? Would YOU like to throw your hat into the ring? Here’s how you make it happen:

As per this page on the Weird N.J. website: “Are you a professional or amateur photographer who enjoys focusing your lens on the more unusual sites in the Garden State? The Noyes Museum of Art and Weird NJ announce a Weird NJ Photography Exhibition to be held at the Noyes Museum. This juried event intends to discover what oddities may be lurking in the woods, under the boardwalk or at the local watering hole all within the state of New Jersey.
Our goal is to gather the weirdest photos of New Jersey. What specifies weird? Is it eerie, strange, historic, crazy, unbelievable, tacky, or forbidden? Photos will be selected for their originality, photographic quality or just plain weirdness. Selected photos will be on extended display at the Noyes Museum and featured on the Weird NJ Web site and in the pages of our magazine.
The deadline for submission is August 7, 2009. For all the details and entry information, visit the Noyes Museum of Art Web site at”

Now I ask you… how cool is that?

The entry forms can be found here:

Did I mention how cool this is?

So there you have it, Gentle Reader… the gauntlet has been thrown. I’ve already got a couple of spots in mind. How about YOU?

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Whiplash Spotted

Rumors in casting from all over the internet the last few months have, ultimately, proven true. AICN had the link that took me to USA Today’s site. Mickey Rourke is going to be Tony Stark’s nemesis in Iron Man II. Check this for your reading pleasure:

This is one movie geek who can’t wait to see the fireworks.

Thursday, June 04, 2009

Twenty Years Ago – Tiananmen Square

I remember watching the news feed break into the, “regularly scheduled programming”. I can still see, in my minds eye, Peter Jennings announce that tanks were literally rolling over students who were protesting the fact that they wanted to have democracy in their homeland – that the simple right to gather was being trampled on the other side of the globe.

That was twenty years ago. Here is a pretty good article on the anniversary:

Twenty years. China, hosted the last Olympics and it truly was a sight to behold. Old and new, ancient and cutting edge; I can only assume that China itself must be, at once, a similar occurrence, a culmination of both of those worlds. Hong Kong has become the epicenter of the financial tsunami that China has morphed into; a truly wondrous example of capitalism at work. I wonder what would happen if some of the principals of democracy were in place there. I wonder what would happen if the people of China were able to be free; free to vote, to gather, to speak their minds, to pursue whatever their desires are for their own lives – what a staggering super power they would be.

I understand that all of the theoretical systems of government look good on paper and I know that we have our own problems right here in our own democracy; yadda, yadda, yadda – but still the very chance to be free, to live free – that alone is worth it.

Who’s to say what the next twenty years will bring? Hong Kong is a prime example of capitalism today. They also have freedoms that the rest of China only dream of. Who is to say, in the future Tibet and the whole of China may be free. One never knows. In the above linked article, Cheung Man Kwong says, “Hong Kong is China’s conscience.” He may be onto something.