Saturday, January 05, 2008

Happy New Year

It has been over a month since I have been in here. I have my reasons. Life is busy. I have been nursing some serious wounds for the past several months. This was the first Christmas without the patriarch for one. Nonstop family drama continued as we struggle to figure out how to operate without my father. It seems that things are more and more strained and splintered. Relationships that I thought were sound are being tested. I can safely say that Christmas day was the most horrible Christmas day I have ever had in my life. It was the kind that I should out right here to put people in their place for ruining it, but I won't. If this stuff keeps up I will though, it has worn my spirit down. I can couple that with the fact that work has been unfulfilling of late. Stuff is brewing on that front too. I have been working out a theory about a trifecta of ugliness that I have to deal with. Oh, I will blog about it soon. Furthermore, I have the finalization of a divorce on my horizon. 2007 was a bitch. There is no way that 2008 can be anything but better.



All things considered, I am going to bullet some of the things that I have dealt with/experienced in the past month. This is a good point to assess and create a touchstone for the early January 2008 vibe. Let me apologize for the fact that there is no real rhyme or reason to this blog, it is merely a categorization of various fleeting thoughts.



*THE CAR.
The car's valve gaskets have been leaking. That is because after they were pulled off, it turns out that the previous owner hadn't used valves but some sort of gunk to hold stuff in place. Stuff wasn't working. Randy my mechanic is a pimp, there is no question about it, but $500 later if was discovered that the casing around the timing chain is what is leaking. The same gunk is holding it in place. Gaskets are needed, and this one is going to be $600. I wish I had the equipment to do this myself, but no. I would let this ride for a bit, but the leak is significant enough that it hits my manifold and blows smoke out the back (when I am rolling at 80 mph). So Christmas morning the highway patrol pulled me over to ask me about the fire. His first question was emissions, but I catch a pass on emissions. I am personally done with emissions. I am far from carbon neutral, but at this point I can't help the footprint I am leaving.



*THE WIRE.

I can't even recall what got me to start watching this show. Someone strongly suggested it to me somewhere. I took a shot and downloaded the first season. As I watched Stringer, McNulty, Avon, Omar and D'Angelo take shape, I got hooked. The show is no joke. It is levels above the Sopranos. I am actually amazed that this show doesn't get the props that it should. Everyone is conflicted and the bureaucracy forces decisions that aren't logical or at times even moral. There is a complete hopelessness about the show however. I really wanted Luther to be a part of this experience, but the deeper I look into it, the more I see that this is mature beyond standard R-rated fare. The future is presented as a bleak, losing situation from all perspectives. This same sort of world view permeates DEADWOOD too by the way. However, s an adult who is into the thing for good storytelling, I find it well-done on an extreme level.

About three episodes in I was totally hooked. Then the research started. I started looking at the affect of this show on its viewers. I looked up reviews on it to see if people were hit the same way I was with it. I joined the ALL IN THE GAME page on Facebook and checked out other people's favorite quotes. Furthermore, I knew that season 5 was coming in January. Here I was in early December with hours of catchup to do. I powered through season 1. I downloaded seasons two and three at the same time. I powered through season two down at the docks before my season 3 finished. The language in this show is superior. The character development is custom. These people are really putting something together. Characters like Omar, the homosexual gangster who might be the hardest villain you will ever root for speak volumes of what level of thought is going into this. Stupid characters like the mouthy, overpowered Herc still manage to suss out levels of empathy. Everyone has a story, and everyone's story is human. The future is bleak, and everyone is trying to get over. I dig it.

So I powered through the politics of season and the schools in season 4. Now I am hungry. The new season has been on pay per view, but I can't get down like that. So I have been downloading episodes. I have seen 1 and 2 of season 5. The others that have been leaked are 5, 6 and 7. I need to see episodes 3 and 4 before I can get into those. It isn't just me, there is a collective clamoring for these episode on every Wirehead Internet page I have found. Season 5 is about the newspaper aspect of Baltimore. The crime is still on and there are 22 bodies that no one has officially pegged Chris and Snoop for. McNulty is drinking hard and Bubs is ready to relapse.

I am officially hooked.



*VIDEO GAMES

I must say that my personal gaming has taken a header of late. Luther and I have been talking next gen, but there isn't a system out there that I want/must have/need. The Wii is cute but so what. The XBOX 360? I am not giving those people my money, their controllers suck. I have a deep down resentment for Microsoft cockily coming into the video game scene and throwing money everywhere just to dethrone Sony. They make no sense. Dare I say, I hate these people. They aren't about gaming, they are about money. Sony has been about the games from the beginning and they have treated me well. Some might call me a fanboy, but I choose to look at it like I am a repeat customer. The problem is that nothing has dropped on the PS3 that I have to kill for yet. Tekken 6 is going to be the start. God of War 3 is going to seal the deal. Darth Vader is going to be on the PS3 version of Soul Calibur 4 and you know that I will be up on that.

In the meantime, I have been playing the Mame files. You know, playing Donkey Kong and trying to master those third elevators. You know, playing Omega Race and trying to crack 200,000. You know, playing Star Castle and trying to crack 50,000. I have also been playing my Atari greatest hits here on my computer and putting the hurt on Millipede and Asteroids Deluxe. These are great ways to pass the time, let me tell you.



*MOVIES

NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN was totally solid. Bleak as hell and unresolved, this hits as hard as Blood Meridian hit me last year when I read it. The film that I was waiting for was Alien Vs Predator 2 though. That R-rated trailer had me sold. So when Christmas day rolled in and I checked those reviews, I was totally shocked. How could they have fallen so far off the mark? How could it suck that bad? Well, once again, I turned to download and I see why. Whoever wins, we lose indeed.

*MUSIC

One word: Digitalism. The album title is Idealism. I am lost in it. Electronica with solid beats. I am not telling you to get it, but I am telling you that it is the most addictive album I have heard in a long time.

Also, I was in Circuit City a few weeks ago and saw Rob Zombie's greatest hits for sale at a reasonable price. I have been spinning that CD nonstop ever since. It is a conflicted spin though. Every track is about murder, bloodletting, strange sex and necrophilia. Zombie is relentless. He never stops and gives you a pretty concept to consider. It is all dark and mean. It is actually rather vile. But I will tell you something: the construction of his landscape is well-done. The basslines are heavy and groovy. The guitar riffs are sharp and memorable. This guy presents a spoonful of metal sugar to help the vicious medicine go down. Once again, I am thankful that I am not an adolescent listening to this stuff. I prefer being an adultescent as I process such poison.


*BOOKS

I am an avid collector of the BFI FILMSERIES books. I think it is kind of cool that they hire these academics to write these exhaustive takedowns of movies that we all know. Currently, I am in the middle of the dissection of NIGHT OF THE HUNTER. As far as I know, I am the only person who likes NIGHT OF THE HUNTER. I used to show it to my 9th grade English classes and juxtapose it against To KILL A MOCKINGBIRD. But I will admit now that it was more of an excuse to watch the film 3 to 4 times a year. I have a NOTH track in my head. I have that film on lock. To read someone who is more educated and infinitely smarter give their take on it is a treat. I am going to have to read the original book now, I am feeling it again.

Oh, and Robert Mitchum is the original badass. In his prime, he could have knocked them all out, including these badboy rock stars we hear so much about these days. Robert Mitchum would haul off and piss in the radiator of your car, even if you were producing the movie he was starring in.

BADASS.

*YOUTUBE

I have had the same Youtube account for years. I have put up videos from my personal life via cellphone footage. I have also ripped key scenes from DVDs and other forms of film and put them up. It is part of this vision that I have had that I have been cultivating for years. Let me tell it to you:

Almost a decade ago, I was supplementing the family income by working at a video store. It was Christmas time and I was broke and at a loss for gifts to give. Suddenly, it hit me that I could mix all of my favorite film scenes from all of the movies at my fingertips into videos and give them to people. I hatched a plan to go in and make a video for each different person on my list each day that I would go into work.

Great idea, and I still think it was, but the copyright protections snagged me. So I continued watching three movies a shift and basically enjoying the job, but my plans were thwarted.

Enter the Youtube. When Youtube first started, people were loading everything up onto it. Damn the copyrights, it was a free-for-all. I eventually started doing the same. I actually made one of my first legitimate software purchases in order to get the program that would splice a choice chunk out of a film. Then I would download whatever movie it was and rip the scene. Understand that I am a pirate with a conscience. If I download a film that I like, I will ultimately buy the DVD for it. Examples of this stud my DVD collection. One of them is Final Destination 2, which put David Ellis on my map (did you know he also worked on Scarface?). I can't count how many times I have had a download come across my desk, or have downloaded something myself and then turned around and either gone to the movies and/or purchased the DVD of said film.

Enough piracy justifications.

Youtube became my avenue for the film clips that I wanted to put up a decade ago. So I started. I put up part of THE THING, with some wonderful profanity spit by Keith David. I pulled across scened from Scarface (that other users had posted) and displayed them on my account. I pulled scenes from video games across. I pulled trailers out of the Quicktime website and placed them in my Youtube account. I put Vincent Klyn from Cyborg there. I put Busta Rhymes chewing Michael Myers out in one of the Halloween movies. I put up a film clip of Sherri Moon Zombie dancing in Rob Zombie's Halloween up for a guy who I'd met in a speed metal forum. I put up television clips that I found over time that I thought were funny. Then, rather late in the game, I learned how to rip flv files from Youtube and convert them to my cellphone. I bought a gig chip for the cellie so that I could keep these clips on my phone at all times. Youtube became a hub of of media consciousness.

Unfortunately, I got too cocky. I ripped a key scene from the last episode of the first season of Metalocalypse and put it up on Youtube and then Facebook linked it for my friend Andrew. I had an email at my Hotmail account the next day telling me that they pulled the video for copyright infringement. I didn't think too much of it, because they had pulled my HOME HONEY, I'M HIGH video about a year before with a similar message. I thought so little of it that I ripped some key scenes from NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN and put them up as well. Little did I know that I was now blacklisted. The next day I got another warning shot email and saw those videos pulled. Then I got a series of other emails for other infringements over years past and then BAM, account indefinitely suspended.

I have no real worries about the suspension of the account. I have every one of those videos backed up at least twice. But I have lost out on my original dream, which was to be able to move pieces of film from my life to the people who I wished to communicate with. The film wasn't about stealing, it was about common ground within pop culture. When HISTORY OF VIOLENCE was released, Ian emailed me and asked me to rip the scenes that he was in from my bootleg copy and send them to him. It was something that he needed. I was doing a media service (I also went to go see that particular movie in the theater twice).

Anyway, 2008 has started with the end of my Youtube account. Damn, the more I think about it, I now have to go back and clean this blog up. I linked those vids across to this thing like no body's business.

I'll have something worthwhile to say later.