Monday, June 23, 2008

Today's Favorite Dialogue

I love the written word, whether it be in a novel, a piece of a screenplay, or even from my long time joy, comic books. Here's a fun piece from one of my favorite writers, Warren Ellis. Creator of modern classics such as Planetary and Transmetropolitan (a book so good I was able to get my wife reading it!), this is from one of Warren's mainstream books from one of the so called Big 2 (Marvel and DC comics.) It's from a book called Thunderbolts, a team described thusly on the opening into page of each new issue

" Once they were among the worst examples of villiany mankind had to offer! But now, conscripted by the commission on superhuman affairs, they have been transformed into a force for social justice! They are the Thunderbolts - federal marshalls, empowered to track down and bring in unlicensed, unregistered superhuman offenders coast to coast! "

Okay, sorry for the lengthy lead in, but I had to offer some frame of reference for people. In a recent issue, the man appointed to head the Thunderbolts finally strips off his veneer of sanity and returns to his roots. I am referring to one of the all time great villains, The Green Goblin, or more importantly, the man behind the Goblin, Norman Osborn. Osborn has been heading up the T-Bolts, an excellent metaphor for the real world in which villains very often are put in charge of very powerful operations (Darth Cheney) - Osborn is supposedly cured of his insanity, the insanity that causes him to become the Green Goblin, but now, in Thunderbolts 120, with his home base under attack and all hell breaking loose, Norman returns to his roots.

Some of the scenes, and the one that inspired this post, is Osborn lifting up a long stowed away Green Goblin costume and he holds it to his nose, sniffing, and says the following - "Aaaaahhh. I'm so glad I never washed this particular costume. Smells like death, blondes and victory" - for fanboys the world over this evoked giggles, since Norman had sex with Gwen Stacy in the past and also killed her, crushing the spirit of her lover, Peter Parker (aka Spider-Man)

he then speaks in a monologue and has lines like this -

" Are you a self-proclaimed super hero? Why, shucks, sir, I sure am a regular guy in bad underpants who fights crime without understanding one damn thing about how the world works, yes. Yes. Excellent. I send you now to a concentration camp where you will be sterilized, lobotomized, tenderized, and pasteurized."

Finally there is this great line. While walking through the base when the attack has begun, Osborn is moving into an elevator to head down to where his goblin costume is hidden. He has the following monologue. - " There's a space monster and a mad swordsman loose in the base- shall we trust the huge security complement and the team of superhumans to deal with it? Oh, No. Let's make a complete dog's breakfast of the whole operation. So Norman has to clean things us.

"I'm a fricking martyr to my own innate heroism, is what I am. Norman Osborn, America's last hero. That's what I am."

What's truly terrific about that line is that it crystalizes what makes for a good villain in almost any fictional setting, a concept espoused by Stan Lee himself. Great villains view themselves as heroes in their own mind, so their motivations make perfect sense to them, and those against them are the true villains. That allows the writer to create depth of character, and the best villains always have character, however flawed it may be.

Wow, what a long post about a fairly obscure topic, but fuck it, it's my blog!!!

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Movie Review - Hulk

A little late on this one, but I wanted to offer my thoughts on the Hulk movie. I can't offer the same level of overwhelming praise that I gave Iron Man, but that really isn't a knock on the Hulk. The Hulk, for anyone who doesn't know, is also Dr. Bruce Banner (in his calmer moments). The Hulk is effectively the ID within all of us, a rage that is unleashed in times of extreme stress or anger. What this means a viewer is that Edward norton, (playing Banner) has to portray a very subdued, restrained side, in order to prevent the Hulk from busting loose. Iron Man, with the secret identity of billionaire genius playboy Tony Stark, is completely different. Tony Stark is a far more entertaining character than Banner, and Robert Downey Jr. runs with all the role allows him to be.

As far as a movie, the Hulk hits all the right notes. The movie assumes a certain level of familiarity, since the Hulk as a character is arguably more well known than Iron man (I was going to write Iconic, but that may be too strong. The Hulk has been around for 40 yrs, and with comics, a previous movie, and a popular tV show, not too strong - plus add in the repressed ID that is classic Freudian psychology and you have one hell of an interesting character. )

The govt., led by Gen. Thunderbolt Ross (William Hurt) wants to tap into the gamma irradiated blood of Banner in order to create a military use for this power. Banner knows this is far too dangerous and is desperately looking for a cure while on the run from Ross and the govt. - Further complicating matters is his love of Betty Ross, daughter of the General.

What is nice about the movie at this point is that these elements are all nicely grounded in much of the Hulk Mythos, thus rewarding fan boys like myself. Little touches are the use of a contact Banner has, "Mr. Blue" reminiscent of a run of Hulk a few years ago with shadowy conspiracies, written by the underappreciated Bruce Jones. Also nice is the inclusion of Doc Samson, a character that most won't get but fanboys enjoy.

Now for the most important part - the Villian. The think ang lee didn't understand in his Hulk film from 5 years ago is that heroes are defined by their villians. Batman/Joker, Spidey/Green Goblin, Fantastic Four/Dr. Doom, X-Men/Magneto.. the list goes on. So for a big bad MF'er like the hulk, you better damn well have an equally big, bad MF'er to battle against. Imagine one of the basic laws of physics translated into story structure - Each Action has an equal and opposite reaction.- this, my friends, is at the heart of conflict, and without conflict, you have a dull story.

(BTW, this isn't just comics, it goes far beyond into other mediums. Scully and Mulder vs. Cigarette Smoking Man, Sherlock holmes vs. Moriarity, Bond vs. Blofeld, The Jedi VS. the Sith, good vs. the Bush administration, etc. )

The key to the villian facing the hulk is great casting; Tim Roth. he plays Emil Blonsky and he is eager to tap into some of the power necessary to fight the hulk Now the movie really starts throwing easter eggs to fans, with Blonsky being injected with a super-serum originally developed by a german scientist during WWII for a fella named Steve Rogers, aka Captain America! You don't need to know this but for guys like me it was great. Blonsky begins to become stronger, and unlike Banner, who realizes that the increased power brings increased responsibility and perhaps there is a limit to the amount of power any human should have, Blonsky hungers for more.. and more... and more... until he consumes so much he becomes an Abomination! Equal to the Hulk but with no moral compass, the stage is set for one muther of a fight. (Also note, like Iron Man developed quietly the character of the Mandarin, the hulk clearly shows us the coming of The Leader, another classic Hulk Villian

A great movie, exactly what a comic based movie should be, and hopefully a harbinger of the quality to expect from upcoming Marvel movies (Wolverine, Captain America, Thor, Avengers, and even a new, dark, bad assed Punisher.


Thursday, June 19, 2008

Todays I-Tunes Purchases (and why)

I purchased 4 songs today from the incredibly awesome I-tunes. (Incredibly Awesome? What am I, 12?)

Things Have Changed - Bob Dylan - I am not a huge Bob Dylan fan, but this song is easily one of my faves. I loved the way it's used in the very underrated film Wonder Boys. (Also great in that movie is the Neil Young song that goes "Old Man, take a look at my, I'm a lot like you were... " Not sure of the title, (hey, music isn't my forte, movies are) but the song is really poignant and it's placement in the flick is perfect.

Pulling Mussels From a Shell and Tempted by Squeeze - heard both of them on the radio today, and they have long been faves of mine whenever I am in a bar with a jukebox. Both are JukeBox staples and super fun songs. Tempted is self explanatory and Pulling Mussels is nonsensical but damned listenable.

Round and Round - Ratt - I'm a kid of the 80's, is there really any more explanation needed than that. I sure as hell don't need a whole Ratt album, but the single.. ah, now that is a piece of 80's heaven.

Red Stripe Reggae Dance Commercial

Just a quick thought. I love that commercial, and I find it really funny. The dorky white guy can't dance, playing to the stereotype and making us all laugh. Even a white guy like me. Yet i can't help but wonder if a flip type of commercial would be acceptable as well. I have long found the double standard in race issues to be maddening. You see, I really don't give much of a damn what color someone is, cool people are cool, and assholes are assholes. Simple as that.

Another example of this used to be Eddie Murphy, back when he was funny. He often did a very funny imitation of a stereotypical dorky uptight white guy, (same with Richard Pryor) - funny stuff, and much of the humor stemmed from the truthfulness contained within. Yet if a white comedian did the same thing, I believe he would be labeled a racist. Need more examples? How about Spike Lee, who sees racism in everything - and who called Larry Bird overrated because he was White. Please. My point is this. As long as sacred cows are allowed, and humor isn't equal across all races, both sexes, etc, I will have a problem.


Sunday, June 15, 2008

Savvy's 37 favorite songs of all time

O.K., here goes. My favorite 37 songs of all time, in no order, with no real staying power, since I am doing this with a sort of free flowing thought process; creative spitballing, so to speak. This is off the top of my head, with referring to my CDS or my ITunes - basically selections unencumbered by too much processing. Inspired by the Jimi Hendrix CD I have currently playing, and the song off it which I love.

1. All Along The Watchtower - Jimi's version
2. Sympathy For the Devil - The Rolling Stones - one of my all time favorite stories within a song, and the line "Pontius Pilate washed his hands, sealed his fate" never fails to crank me up.

3. Welcome to the Jungle - Guns N Roses - I remember being a teenager in Sussex County and listening to the one good rock station we were able to get there, Z95 in Allentown PA. They started playing this song and no one had really heard of the band. I loved it, bought the tape. Soon after Sweet Child of Mine broke and the band was a household name.

4. Back in Black - Perfect, kick ass rock. Disclaimer: AC/DC is my favorite band ever.

5. Solsbury Hill - Peter Gabriel It is absolutely impossible for me to be in a bad mood when this comes on, no matter what is happening prior.

6. In the Air Tonight - Phil Collins - I know that Phil is pretty much a joke these days, but at one time his music was pretty cool. His early solo stuff is solemn and intense, and the use of this in one of the all time great 80's shows (Miami Vice) solidified this for me.

7. Loser - Beck - part of the college years, this goofy ode sounded unlike anything else I was listening to at the time. Funny, funky, and the use of sound clips from the previous pres. bush "I can feel it, I'm a winner" was great.

8. Highway to Hell - AC/DC - see Back in Black
9. Who Made Who - AC/DC - added bonus of being a theme song for a bad movie based on a Stephen King story. BTW, King, one of my favorite authors, is also a huge AC/DC fan.

10. Watching the Detectives - Elvis Costello - I really don't why I fell in love with this song, but after hearing it once it became one of my must plays on bar jukeboxes whenever I went out.

11. Sketches of Spain - Miles Davis - I can't pick a song for this, it has to be listened to as a complete CD. My first Miles Davis CD, and still one of my faves.

12. Plenty - Sarah McLachlan - File this under what my wife calls "whiny bitch music", I don't give a damn. This entire album is tremendous, and I used to listen to it so frequently I had to replace the CD.

13. Hurt - Johnny Cash - I also like the Trent Reznor (Nine Inch Nails) version, but cash's version is heartbreaking. I first heard his take via trailers on tv for an upcoming season of The Shield, and couldn't get it out of my head.

14. Walking After Midnight - Patsy Cline - one of my wife's favorites, I've definitely become a big fan.

15. Glory Days - Bruce Springsteen - off of Born in the USA, which was HUGE when I was growing up, the themes of the song only began to resonate with me on an emotional level as I have gotten older. Aged like a fine wine, much like my next selections

16. Let It Grow - Eric Clapton

17. Stuck in the Middle With You - Steeler's Wheel - Tarantino is my favorite director, and after seeing Mike Madsen and slice off a cop's ear (!) this song is forever attached to that action for me. I like to think I did a fairly good recreation of Mr. Blonde's dance at my wedding.

18. Can't You Hear Me Knocking - The Rolling Stones - also part of movies, with Martin Scorseses' use of the Stones' songs in his films almost always perfect.

19. Enter Sandman - Metallica - I hate the Yankees, but the use of this song for the greatest reliever in MLB history, Mariano Rivera (no, not Billy Wagner, just ask Met's fans) as Mo trots out from the pen is electric.

20. Rain on the Scarecrow - John Mellencamp - might not have the name right, but I always loved this rocking tribute to the plight of the American Farmer.

Twenty seems like a good stopping point for now - check back tomorrow for the other 17.


Tim Russert

Tim Russert, NBC's long-time anchor of Meet the Press, died at the age of 58 on Friday. The media world is filled with accolades and praise for Russert and what a wonderful icon of journalistic integrity he was. I humbly disagree. I realize this puts me in the minority, but I'm o.k. with that. I actually pissed off a very good friend with my casual dismissal of Russert's death . This occurred over drinks on Friday night. I've had a bit of time to reflect, so Salad, if you read this, here was my reasoning.

I will begin with a clear statement; I am not happy that Russert died. He has left behind a family and friends and I am sure he was a swell guy privately. However, I have a real issue with the journalistic integrity label. I used to watch the Sun. morning talk shows religiously, hoping that perhaps the media could help to cull some truth out of the politicians who were so blatantly destroying our country and my faith in it. This was primarily during the 2000 election, the 9/11 attacks, and the unnecessary invasion of Iraq. I watched evil men such as Dick Cheney and Don Rumsfeld appear on the show and lie... and lie.... and lie.... and lie some more, and Russert NEVER EVER REALLY CALLED THEM ON THEIR BULLSHIT!!!!! - Dick Cheney with statements linking Al-Qaeda to 9/11, statements guaranteeing the existence of WMD's in IRAQ, statements that "The insurgency is in it's last throes". - Russert is one of the, if not the, most powerful man in Washington politics, yet he provided a forum for these men to lie to millions of Americans on a show that ostensibly had legitimacy and credibility that the cable news outles (Fox, in particular) couldn't even approach, and this legitimacy was primarily the result of Russert's presence... and he never, ever really just stopped it. Imagine if he said, "Vice President Cheney, the statements you are saying have absolutely no verifiable facts behind them, and have actually been discredited numerous times. Why don't you stop lying and tell us the truth?" - I'll tell you why. Russert had become another sycophant, sucking at the teat of the corporate powers that be, fearful of biting the hand that feeds him and alienating the big names that drove the ratings for his show and allowed him to make a lot of money and wield a great deal of power. He hobnobbed with the Washington elite, and he provided a nice dog and pony show for the American public. That, my friends, is disgracefuly, and to attach the words "journalistic integrity" is an insult to the Edward Murrow's of the world, the people who laid it on the line in order to pursue the truth and present it to the American people.


Saturday, June 14, 2008

Holy Crap, it's been a week? - II

Actually it's been 8 days since the last post. Busy busy at work. Let's do the quick check in

You know what, I really don't feel like making a big update. Bush is still president, with well over 200 more days filled with opportunities to further screw up this country. Dick Cheney hasn't been spotted in quite some time, which truly fills me with dread. You know that parental statement about children playing in another room, and you really don't worry as long as you can continue to hear them. However, when it goes silent is when the worry begins. Are they up to no good? Is someone hurt? Well, with Darth Cheney we know his deal with the Sith prevent him from injury, since his soul was long ago given away, so we all have to assume he is up to some nefarious plot.

Sox keep humming along despite missing Papi.

Maybe I will feel a bit more motivated later to post a lengthier list of thoughts, including thoughts on going out late on a Thursday night, something 37 year olds do not (or should not) be doing with any regularity! It was fun, though.


Friday, June 06, 2008

Bush, Boston, and an Anniversary

Okay everyone, let's do the quick 3 day check in.

Bush's "legacy" continues: - a near 400 pt. drop in the Dow today, Oil closing at almost $140 a barrel, with the reality of of $150 a barrel by the 4th of July. Oh, and the unemployment numbers are in, with the biggest 1 month drop since 1986 (The Ronnie Reagan years, anyone). Oh the pain, and just in case you have forgotten, there are still 2 unfinished wars going on, both abysmal failures, and the U.S. continues to dump billions into Iraq.

Meanwhile, with my boys from Boston, I guess the first third has been far too quiet for the team. Only a week and a half ago the Sox were rolling, seemingly unable to have anything go wrong. Since then:

- Dice-K, their best pitcher so far this year, feels a strain in his shoulder and goes onto the 15 day DL

- Team hero and Mr. Clutch David 'Big Papi' Ortiz injures his wrist, goes on the 15 day DL, has a cast put on, and no one really knows what to expect. My optimistic prediction - shut him down to after the All Star Game, and hopefully that allows time for the cast to be removed and for Papi to regain range of motion in the wrist.

- Tampa Bay begins to really show their dirtiness, a carry over from their brawls with the Yankees. If I remember correctly, the Yanks/ Rays stuff started when a player from the Rays came around third and headed hard to home, barreling into a Yankee catcher, breaking the catcher's wrist. The Rays party line was basically that the Yankee catcher did not allow any room to slide, and he had to take him out hard at the plate. Hmm, ok. - The Yankees responded with a dirty slide by Shelly Duncan, spikes up into second.

So Thursday Night Coco Crisp tries to slide into Second and the Ray 2nd baseman blocked the base with his leg, and Coco banged his head on the leg. The next opportunity he had, Coco slid into second hard. Ok

So move to last night, when James Shields throws at Coco and hits him. Coco charges the mound, a brawl breaks out, Rays players are piling on and pounding on Coco. Final result, Coco gets a 7 game suspension!! Are you fucking kidding me? I know he'll appeal and hopefully get it dropped down to 4 or 5, but still. Meanwhile, later in the Game Jon Lester came inside on a Rays player and he got a 5 game suspension, and Sean Casey also got suspended. I give Shields credit for hitting Coco in an acceptable area but I am interested in seeing the Tampa Bay suspensions. How can they bitch about the Yankees blocking the plate, then have their own player block 2nd, and then complain! Screw these uppity pricks,
Meanwhile, more trouble in Beantown - Kevin Youkilis and manny Ramirez get into it in the dugout, and Jacoby Ellsbury rolls his wrist, but luckily that seems to be ok.

My wife and I celebrated our 4th wedding anniversary, and look forward to 40 more. 10 years together now and still not a second a doubt that she is the one for me!


Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Another 2 day check in...after a long f**king day!

So it's been a long freakin day. I didn't get home from work until 10, and the first thing I discovered was that there was little wine left. Maybe half a glass.... then I realized the ac upstairs wasn't on..... but you know what, towlie was hanging out upstairs, and I have 2 Flying Fish Amber bottles of beer in the fridge, the Mets are on with Pedro Martinez pitching his first game in some time. The yankees got spankeed and Wunderkid Joba Chamberlain went 2 1/3 innings in his first "start" since it isn't really a start since everyone knows Joba was only going 65 pitches. (Check out the pic above of Joba... JOBA SAD!!!

Meanwhile, bad, bad news in Boston . David Ortiz has a partial torn of the sheath that surrounds his wrist. the latest is t his - he has a cast on, and doctors are optimistic that when they remove the cast in 2-3 weeks, Ortiz can begin working his way back into the line-up. With /Dice-K out as well, this is a test for the boys from Boston. The pitching will have to step up (Justin Masterson won his second game this year, Bartolo Colon is 3-0, and there is still a chance schilling will pitch this year. If Beckett can raise his game, and Lester or Bucholz steps up a little bit, I think they will still be able to win the AL East.

Also check out the pic of the gorgeous Reiko Ike, the lead in awesomely over the top kick ass flick, Sex and Fury. I will be writing a review soon, the movie has jumped to the top of my to buy DVD list.

Sox won tonight, 7-4 over the AL leading Tampa Bay rays - Sox cut Rays lead to a half game.

Sunday, June 01, 2008

2 Day Check In

Ah, a lazy sunday afternoon. Hanging with Towlie, watching the Yanks lose, seeing the Red Sox winning, sunny and breezy with low humidity outside. I played tennis this morning, took care of the grocery shopping, and figured I would post a quick note.

Since checking in, the Red Sox have won 3 straight, to improve to 35-24. Bartolo Colon won again, improving to 3-0, going 6 inning, 4 earned runs, and 103 pitches. If he is able to sustain what he's doing, he immediately becomes a very solid 4th starter, possiblly even a 3rd, (with apologies to Wakefield, I would rather see a one two three of Beckett, Dice-K, and Colon, with Wakefield, Lester and Bucholz fighting for a 4th spot.

Celtics clinced, headed to the finals for the first time since 87. Man, I am freaking old, since I was 16 then! 16!!!! That's half a lifetime plus 5!!!!

Finished a great book by Tim Dorsey, The Stingray Shuffle. The 5th in a lengthy series starring one of the best characters in fiction ever created, Serge A. Storms. Man, I wish a movie could be made with someone great playing this guy, he's insane. Literally. Yet he wreaks so much havoc and it's usually directed at deserving targets, you wind up loving him. Insane, over the top, stuff, felt to me like Tarantino writing a novel.