Friday, July 23, 2010

Sometimes I work.

I'm editing some professional listings, and there's one that begins:

[NAME WITHHELD] is a professional photographer who specializes in weddings, events and headshots. 

But in my head it reads:

[NAME WITHHELD] is a professional assassin who specializes in weddings, events and headshots.

So far, though,I haven't had to spruce up the listings of any professional killers. Maybe if I were working for Craigslist...

Rob

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Bears do it, bees do it.

Celebrate National Watermelon Month, that is.

Also, apparently, listen to Nirvana.

Anyway, more pictures of adorable killing machines eating helpless watermelons here.

Rob

Monday, July 19, 2010

For My Baby

Some behind the scenes footage of The Walking Dead, coming in October on AMC.



Gonna be jaw-dropping. Possibly literally.

Rob

Sunday, July 18, 2010

2001 Maniacs: Field of Screams

Last night, Kathy & I went to a screening of the east coast premiere of Tim Sullivan's horror-comedy 2001 Maniacs: Field of Screams. Tim's a Metuchen guy, and he came back to him hometown (and the Forum Theatre) to debut his most recent gorefest.

And a festival it is: The town of Pleasant Valley, Georgia, holds an annual "Guts 'n' Glory Jamboree" in which northerners are duped into their little town and are murdered and eaten as payback for the slaughter of 2001 town residents during the Civil War. (Oops, sorry, the War Between the States. Please don't eat me, cannibal Confederates.) But this year, when the sheriff decides not to allow the Jamboree to continue, the band of creepy hicks and inbreds (led by The Devil's Regects' Bill Moseley and Lin Shaye from There's Something About Mary, who plays the deliciously overt-the-top Granny) decides to take its slaughtershow on the road. Which is how they encounter the cast and crew of  Road Rascals, a thinly veiled mockup of Paris Hilton & Nicole Ritchie's The Simple Life, stuck in Iowa with two flat tires.

After circling the crew of Yankees (though as one guy points out, they're really from California) like sharks for a while, the Maniacs start killing them one by one, and then, eventually, in packs. I like a horror movie with a large cast -- there's plenty of people that can die, instead of killing the same poor schlubs over and over.

One thing about this movie: Leave any sense of racial and gender sensitivity at the door. I mean, it's a horror movie, so human dignity really isn't on the agenda. Everyone here, Maniac and Hollywood creep alike, is a stereotype, or is treated as one by the Maniacs. Part of that is just the obviousness of the writing (horror isn't a genre that rewards subtlety), and part is because Sullivan clearly enjoys poking a finger where it hurts. Some of this is eye-rolling; other parts are quite a bit more unsettling. When a black man participates in a carnival-style lynching of a black woman -- not because she's black, but because she's a northerner, though when someone says "northerner," they're cautioned not to use the "N-word" -- you know that Sullivan is deliberately crossing as many lines as he can, just to see what he can get away with. And all the while, you're watching thinking "he's not really going to do this, is he? He can't do that!" And for a moment you think Sullivan has pulled away from it at the last minute, and you realize that the reprieve doesn't make it better. And then...

Look, I don't know what to think of this. Sullivan's clearly using racially charged imagery, but I don't think he's trying to do so in a racist manner. He's trying to provoke, though I don't know to what end. There doesn't seem much point to the scene other than one more stomach-churning set piece. I'm not sure what he's trying to say. I didn't enjoy the scene. But at the same time, I can't stop thinking about it. (Out of all the killings, it's also the least bloody; I get the sense that for all the glibness of its setup, Sullivan isn't treating this as a punchline.)

Anyway, enough of that. Suffice it to say that there are plenty of stereotypes on display here, and most of them get slaughtered -- though none in quite so historically ugly a fashion. And in general, if you like horror movies and lots of red squirting everywhere, if you're willing to overlook clumsy (intentionally clumsy, I think) stereotypes, and if you like girls taking their tops off (since that happens a lot, too), you'll possibly like this movie. But I don't think you'll like that scene. I doubt you're intended to.

Rob

Kayakin' with Mom

So down in Stone Harbor last week, Kathy & I scheduled a kayak trip around the wetlands. The house we were staying in was situated right on the bay -- we'd even set up some crab traps one morning -- and thought it would be great to have a little sunset tour.

That Thursday, riding our bikes back from the beach, Kathy took a spill on her bike. (Message to all those who've forgotten this since you were 12 -- don't ride a bike in flip-flops!) She scraped up her elbow pretty badly, and cut her knee, ankle and toe, as well. And took most of the force of the fall in her shoulder.

Since Kathy knew that she would not take it easy in the two-person kayak, we decided to cancel. Problem was, it was too late to cancel and get our money back, so we'd be out 80 bucks. So I asked my mom if she wanted to come out and join me. To my surprise, she said yes.

With Mom in front and me in the aft, we had a great time paddling the kayak all through the tour. (The tour was put on by the Wetlands Institute and Harbor Outfitters, by the way.) We paddled right past the dock behind our house, where the family was all waiting to see us. (Some of them were waiting fro us to come back, but we never passed the house again, instead making a big circle.)

The tour was a great time, and I highly recommend it. Somewhere around the halfway point, we pulld up the kayaks onto an embankment and took a short swim. The guides (Andrew and Erin, and I think maybe another Andrew?) told us all about the area, including how jetskis deplete the minnow population, and pointed out the various birds we saw -- a lot of laughing gulls, but some ospreys and egrets, too. They also showed us an edible plant ("full of potassium," they said) called glasswort that grows along the bay. was alike a thin finger made of grass, and it was crunchy and very salty -- not a surprise, considering it grows in bay water.

We traveled about six miles, all told, and ended the trip paddling into a beautiful sunset over the wetlands. And as much as I would have liked taking the trip with Kathy, I was really happy to spend those hours paddling around with my mom. I don't get to spend a lot of time, just me and her, and when we do spend time together, it's never doing anything -- it's generally just sitting and talking. So working together to propel a little plastic boat six miles? That was really something special.

Rob

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Grrr.

Somehow I lost all the text to a long-ish post about (well, sort of about) Harvey Pekar, the great comics author who died yesterday. Hopefully I'll be able to recreate it, but in the meantime, here's a link to an interview from a few years ago, and Heidi MacDonald's rundown of the tributes and retrospectives.

Rob

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Back From Vacation

And a good time was had by all.

Seventeen of us in one house, and we managed to have fun and live together amicably, like the ginormous family we are. We're a good, friendly bunch, and every now and then we get together and prove it.

There was only one member of the household with whom I must admit I have irreconcilable differences. And that is a cable television network called Nick Jr.

Now, Nick Jr. certainly does the trick of keeping the kids occupied and, for a while, quiet. And I realize that there were probably moments where it saved the day, temper-wise. But man... when it was on the TV, what I'd give to hear a baritone voice. And how can they call the show Go, Diego, Go! when he's always around? Worse yet, he never eats any of the animals he finds. (Though there was a wonderful moment when Go, Diego Go! became a drinking game, with us all tipping our beers whenever he spoke a word or phrase in Spanish. Gracias, Diego.)

Anyway, upon our arrival home, Kathy & I realized that there could be only one antidote to a week of intermittent kid's TV: the last two episodes of Deadwood. Swearing, murder, drinking, swearing, betrayal, complex sentence structures, swearing, prostitution, gambling, drugs, and did I mention the fucking swearing? Oh, home. You know just what I need sometimes.

I've got some good stories of vacation, and I intend to tell them here. But tonight's for homecoming. 

Anyway, here's a little video demonstrating why it's best that we didn't bring any Deadwood DVDs to the shore with us.



Rob

Saturday, July 03, 2010

Gone Fishin'

Have a great Fourth! Back soon!

Rob

Thursday, July 01, 2010

Greendale

So I just finished Neil Young's Greendale, with script by Josh Dysart and art by the amazing Cliff Chiang, and... well, the art is by the amazing Cliff Chiang!

The art is gorgeous. Gorgeous! Here's a page:

See what I mean?

Problem is, the story never hits the ground for me. It's about Sun Green, a girl in a long line of the Green family where the women all seem to have some sort of nature-magic quirk about them, and then disappear. Reading it, all I could think was that I bet the album would have blown me away... particularly if I were hearing it during the middle of the Bush era. But either way, songs seem able to imply more than the lyrics might say -- we're invited to fill in the blanks with our own experience and details, where Greendale the comic fills those blanks in for us.

Now, I'm a big ol' lib, but the politics in this book just seemed simplistic to me, and never entirely... Idon't know, solid. Bush bad, war bad, drilling bad. More sloganeering and cheerleading than policy. They don't have much depth, and I guess I was hoping for a little more. Or maybe a little less politics altogether. The environmentalism is really at the heart of this book. It never really comes together for me, but taking it out would have gutted the book. But it feels too airy, somehow.

Aargh. At least the book is coherent, which is more than I can say for this post.

Anyway, when I was searching for the art I posted, I found this french website that posted material that an earlier artist, Sean Gordon Murphy, completed before Cliff Chiang replaced him (I don't know why). And I have to say, as much as I love (love!) Cliff's art, I think Murphy might have been a better choice. The people look a little cartoonier, a little less glossy. And with Murphy on art, I likely wouldn't have been interested enough to buy it (Chiang was the draw for me). But I think I would have managed to touch me a little more -- wrap me up in the story more than making me stop and look at every gorgeous page.

Any thoughts? About anything? 'Cause I'm all over the map.

Rob