Church Shootings, South Carolina, President Obama, and Podcasts


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There is a line I quote a lot, but it’s because like many quotes, it’s a truth in it that endures, and is applicable to many. And it is definitely applicable to me.

I’ll quote it here again…

“You writers live too much out of the world.” –Graham Greene’s THE THIRD MAN.

Here’s the thing about the world, there is always some new atrocity the 24 hour news cycle is waiting to feed you. Someone’s misfortune that, with crocodile solemnity, they are eager to spread before you like some banquet, some forbidden feast, for you to put your snout in and snuffle.

I know people who make a home in-front the TV when the latest atrocity breaks, and they ‘tsk’, and ‘cluck’, and they make the expected exclamations of “horrible” this, and “what’s this world coming to” but you get the feeling it is more rote than real.

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That ‘real’ left town many atrocities ago, and they have yet to notice that what remains is something that watches for reasons less altruistic than information, and more hungry than concern.

I can’t do the 24 hour news cycle. I gave up on networked TV a long time ago and haven’t looked back, or particularly missed it. Too much of CNN or Insert News Station here, and I have to get away, I have to move, I can’t watch people suffer.

I’m old school that way.

I believe in heroes to rescue maidens, and Knights to slay dragons. And I’m fool enough to believe we can all be heroes… all of us. In small ways, and personal ways, and local ways.

But the 24 hour news cycle inundates you with a world’s wrongs, many wrongs too horrific and large and endemic for you to change.

So there becomes a war within you between the desire to change what you can, and the 24 hour news cycle that indoctrinates you, numbs you to a world beyond your time, or means, or scope to change… a news cycle that tells you “relinquish hope, relinquish the idea of days without horror, relinquish the lie of action, be a spectator, be a consumer. Live in the world we give you, the way we give it you.”

And reduce all your rebellions to a tsk here, and a shake of the head there. That’s what the 24 hour news cycle says to me if I watch it too long.

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I have to pick my battles. I have to pick my fights. I have to narrow my atrocities. And some days I have to have no atrocities at all. It’s the only way I can live without rage all the time.

I have to have the courage to change the things I can, the strength to accept the things I cannot change, and the wisdom to know the difference.

Not being a part of the 24 hour news cycle, using the Internet to consume news in my time in my way, means sometimes, if I’m embroiled with my life, and the people in it and around it, the real news, then I may not consume another man’s definition of the news… for days on end.

I find I’m a better man for not being suckled every moment on the teat, and rage, and hate, and horror of Rome the metaphorical. I find I’m a better, calmer man, and people find me a calming, even soothing presence, and it’s because the nightly news is not on the back of my eyeballs when I look at them, I look at them without the media’s biases or fears, I do not fall asleep to Rome’s tirade, and I do not wake to her gnashing.

And that has made all the difference.

I think too many, especially the young, who not yet having learned the value of their own life much less anyone else’s, internalize Rome’s madness, drink deep and long of it, and adopt the American past time of mass murder; as if it was no more than a fashion you could put on. Killing for hates handed down to them like ill fitting suits, and reasons not understood by them, killing with no real sense.

No real sense.

Not understanding really, that killing is easy, but the hole it leaves is large, and affects so many. That every life… even the most paltry, took a million million miracles to breathe air into, and you can never know how even the most unworthy life, might, if no more than via tangential fate, give us a painter or poet or astronaut or hero. And with one bullet you can unwind innumerable tomorrows, kill innumerable tomorrows, and we are all the poorer for all those doors closed. All those lives changed. All that unneeded pain, piled upon all our souls.

We are all… by these atrocities, broken and put back together, broken and put back together, broken and put back together. But each time there is less of us, and less of us, and less of us.

Until, we are so removed from every step we took toward the light, we find ourselves mad, hopeless animals, penned in a coliseum, screaming for the fall of blood. Our souls are fragile things, that can bloom or wither, depending upon what they are fed.

So resist the 24 hour news cycle. Resist assumptions. And seek out things that will feed the better angels of your nature.

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You might find the link below, a thing for feeding your soul. I did.

I must first state I am not a President Obama apologist. As an Independent I have taken him to task for what I feel is the dismantling of Liberties, and his paying back his corporate backers by selling generations of Americans into debt, to bail out a stock market comprised of companies that should have been allowed to burn.

That said, even with those we disagree… we must find that common ground where we can, so if we can not agree with their choices, we can at least perhaps understand the making of those choices.

If we can relate to each other as more than ‘them and us’, see politics as less bloody warfare, and more people all honestly looking to make their home, their neighborhood, and their nation better… if we can see ourselves as tied by our commonalities first, then our differences become strengths rather than sticking points, ripping our nation and our world apart.

So I ask you Republican, You Democrat, You Independent, You Man, You Woman… to listen to the following pod-cast.

And take away from it, the parts that will make you better.

I was feeling such insufferable rage in the wake of the Church Shooting and what I saw in the media’s handling of it… However, I listened to the below pod-cast, and the easy grace a President of the United States brought to a moment devoid of all grace… and I could breathe again, easy deep breaths. And I could see beyond the pumping of my own rage.

A long term fix? No.

But only death is long term. In life we must take the fleeting moments of grace when we can find them. And use that grace to empower us to end atrocities one person at a time.

You might find in the below pod-cast something hopeful.

WTF_-_EPISODE_613_PRESIDENT_BARACK_OBAMA.mp3

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Choosing Rightly

It’s a hard thing.

Choosing rightly.

A planet of nigh onto 8 billion people, and still the hardest thing in this world… is to choose rightly.

To find the person you fit together with, in something approximating… cohesiveness.

Not perfection.

Not even love.

I’m very non-western and old world when it comes to people being together.

I believe marriage is something fundamental between a man and a woman. Not just fundamental to them, but fundamental to the clan, to the tribe, to a functional society.

I’m not making any stance on this for other people, not throwing stones at alternative lifestyles.

But for my definition, marriage is a simple thing, that binds a complex woman to a complex man.

And when it works it is a rarity.

And when it works it is a wonder.

And I think it would be less rare, a working marriage, if we went into it less programmed by 20th and 21st century obsession with self and things.

Something a young lady once told me.

Odd to find I have not forgotten it.

I think the person who marries only because they are ‘in love’, is like a fool and his money, someone who in the fullness of time will be parted from it.

I believe in lust, I believe lust has gotten more people wed than love, but fine let’s call that chemical high you’re feeling… love. That will fade… that chemical romance, that explosion, that madness… so if that’s the feeling you’re counting on to be your definition of love, and to be there always…then you are someone heading for, like too much of western civilization, disappointment… and divorce.

Love is not the promise of the wedding, it is the dedication to the journey.

It is to take that lust, and that like, and mortar them together with duty, to each other, to those who came before, to those who come after… to the journey.

And it is in walking this journey together, haphazardly at times, inelegantly at times, but ultimately taking that journey together, and helping each other walk it… and it’s in the walking of that journey… walking that journey well… that you can begin to truly speak of love.

Duty and Sacrifice.

Dirty words in the ‘me’ generation. Which no doubt is why bastardry is all the rage. A taboo-less society, and I say this being more sinner than saint, it has been tried before, and it has always failed.

It has always ended in burning Gomorrahs.

The reason is simple, the only things that ever endure in this world, do so because of men and women who believe in duty and sacrifice. Even above their personal needs or desires or whims.

And a nation devoid of such people, is a nation on the road to being unmade.

I have no real idea where all that came from. Save perhaps as someone who has loved, neither well nor wisely, finding myself for whatever reason tonight… looking closely at the mistakes, and seeing something I had quietly overlooked…. the miracles.

Odd bit of blather to be going on about, I grant ya.

Aye, but what’s a blog for, if not to ramble incoherently and occasionally… about the journey. πŸ™‚

God, whatever God you bend your knee to, keep you all safe.

The COMIC STRIP Returns?!!!! THE HOUSE OF DUELING MIDNIGHT #1

Yeah, yeah.. it’s pretty stupid, and horrible. But I have to admit… it made me chuckle. πŸ™‚

As far as why… Well I’ve been meaning to put up a couple strips for a while. And have been trying to network, collaborate with a couple of artists, but I’ll let you in on a secret, artists aren’t really the most reliable bunch for collaborating or networking with… at least the ones I’ve been dealing with.

So rather than wait on people to grow up, I decided to just ‘what the heck’ it, and just go ahead and create and post something that would make me laugh.

Hence this very brief, very juvenile ‘cut and paste’ cartoon courtesy of one of the free cartoon generators out there, The art is crude, but the insane story and words and madness is all me. Hope you enjoyed it. If you do, leave a comment and some likes!

It’s a work in progress experiment, that will improve if you guys will stick in there with me. Thanks!! πŸ™‚

2011 Upcoming Movies/Films to be on the Lookout For!Pt. 1 of 3!

So 2010 was a fantastic year for film. Whenever you get me going to the theater over a dozen times in a year, pretty good year.

So before we continue with the 2010 Year in Review, will 2011 be as exciting?

Well so far the first two months of 2011 are pretty uninteresting film-wise (Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu of BABEL film released BIUTIFUL this January. He’s a brilliant director, but the film’s premise doesn’t interest me enough to see it in the theater, but I will pick it up when it hits DVD. There’s a film called LOVE that is listed as a FEBRUARY release but I haven’t seen it in any theaters, like too many intriguing films, such as BLACK DYNAMITE it probably can’t get distribution, so probably will end up straight to DVD, but sounds great. Like this year’s MOON. Another one I hope to check out on DVD at least). So let’s take a look at what films do have me interested enough to pay theater prices to view them:

THE UNKNOWN-Thriller-Release Date: 18 February- I wasn’t a fan of Liam Neeson’s TAKEN, and this film seems to be in the same playground. What does interest me is the director Jaume Collet-Serra, I was quite a fan of his ORPHAN.


Feb 25th sees the release of DRIVE ANGRY 3D and SHELTER. Both I’m pretty lukewarm on, especially DRIVE ANGRY.

So 3 maybes, that’s a pretty pathetic January and February.

March gets a bit better, RANGO is a fun looking, family friendly animated film.

I really am, as a filmgoer, tired of Matt Damon, you would think he was the only actor in Hollywood, but that aside the previews for ADJUSTMENT BUREAU by first time director look very good. So that one is on my radar. But really casting couch, can you cast someone besides Matt Damon?

Also in March you get Jonathan Liebesman’s BATTLE OF LA.

It looks a little less stupid than the similarly themed, and by all reports awful, SKYLINE. However Liebesman gets a little bit of rope with me for his film DARKNESS FALLS, which while it faltered at the middle, and limped to an ending, that first 15 minutes is impressively scary and effective! So BATTLE LOS ANGELES is a weak maybe.

So far a lot of maybes but nothing I’m really committed to seeing in the theater. Until… SUCKER PUNCH. I know going in this is going to be completely nonsensical, but I also know it’s a Zack Snyder film, and he is one of the few directors that creates films, truly deserving of the big screen. His film are visual game-changers, adrenalin fueled power houses, designed to rattle your bones and stun your senses. So even when his films stumble (WATCHMEN) they are still compelling, and Amazing, and definitely worth seeing on the big screen. So SUCKER PUNCH is my first must see movie of 2011. Congrats to Zack Snyder (That said , what the heck is wrong with Zack Snyder hiring a British Actor to Play Superman!? Really? Is America no longer producing actors? All our actors come from England, or Australia, or South Africa or Canada? Really? WTF? Comeon, I know there are home grown actors out there besides Matt Damon!)

Okay, so onto April…

April 1st sees the release of Duncan Jones’ follow-up to MOON, the film SOURCE CODE. An interesting DAYBREAKesque type time mystery/thriller/scifi flick. Sounds good.

James Wan’s INSIDIOUS sounds like a reworking of POLTERGEIST, sounds intriguing but have not seen a trailer. It’s a maybe.

Steven Soderbergh has been more miss than hit for me recently, and I’m getting a little tired of all these female Assassin films (SALT was good, but enough is enough) however HAYWIRE is getting buzz of being Soderbergh’s best film since THE LIMEY, so depending on the trailer may be worth a look.

April 22nd sees the release of the mysterious sounding APOLLO 18. I saw the trailer and looks intriguing, about the moon landings discovering (and covering up) evidence of life on the Moon.

Okay May 6th sees the release of one of the most hyped films of 2011, Kenneth Branagh’s THOR, which I discussed in a previous post. Up there with SUCKER PUNCH as a must see in the theater movie of 2011. It’s been a long time since Branagh has had a hit, I think interest alone will make this film profitable, but it being good depends upon if Branagh, can rise not only to the challenge of a blockbuster action film, but the quality of his own early success. I’m hoping he succeeds, and will be in the theaters to see for myself.

Okay so here it is almost six months into 2011, and the only films with any significant number of characters of color, particularly Black characters are comedies. Inane product like “Medea something something”, and idiots walking around in drag, or whining, snap your finger, shake your head, talk show complaining flicks. I mean I’m sure those films have their place, but everything in effing moderation.

Which is why I LOVED the fact that 2010 gave us films like TAKERS and OBSESSED and even THE LOSERS. It gets old, Hollywood films that have no characters of color, or worse the token, step and fetchit character of color (COP OUT anyone). IT infuriates, mostly because I go to the film festivals and there are dozens of great films and filmmakers of color out there, but their films do not get picked up for distribution.

I can see the conversation going something like this: “Wow a movie that has characters of color not wearing their pants on the ground, or cursing every other word, or not a comedy, or otherwise lowest common denominator?? In other words showing Black People as more than the propaganda and stereotypes we’ve spent billions of dollars to sell to their children? Nope, we don’t want any of that!!” :).

My facetiousness aside, that seems to be the general thinking of the gatekeepers, those who determine what ideas, perceptions, should or should not reach the larger consciousness and conversation of the masses (particularly American).

So my rule these days is to seek out films that star characters of color in non-stereotypical ways, challenging and hopefully uplifting ways (which generally means no Halle Barry movies πŸ™‚ ). And you’ll see by the films I select (with exceptions), if a film doesn’t at least recognize diversity in its casting, I don’t recognize it in the Box Office. It is one of the reasons I have very little use for Woody Allen films.

Okay tirade over, onto the rest of the year of upcoming movies:

June has films that should be heavy hitters, but I’m really not interested in. GREEN LANTERN film, while it has a decent director, not a fan of the lead casting, or the trailer. But film does have Angela Bassett as Amanda Waller and Nick Jones as John Stewart and Taika Waititi as Tom Kalmaku. So those three and decent word of mouth may sway me to see this film. Matthew Vaughn, follows up KICK ASS, with X-MEN:FIRST CLASS, I’m a bit indifferent about the film, but Vaughn is an interesting director, and removed from his uncomfortable juxtaposition of extreme violence and preteen kids, I should have less problem with this film then I did with KICK ASS. It’s a maybe.

And also in June, JJ Abrams, a hit and miss director for me, is coming off a big hit with STAR TREK so I’ll follow him into his latest release… the scifi/alien flicK, possibly found footage film, SUPER 8.


July 1st brings us Michael Bay’s TRANSFORMERS:THE DARK OF THE MOON, and I have to tell you, I have no real interest in TRANSFORMERS, but much like I said about Zack Snyder, I find Michael Bay a filmmaker who makes films that are deserving of the big screen. And he has an amazing eye for camera placement and shot sequences, that stays with me long after I have seen his films. That’s a rare Pekinpahesque ability he has, for getting his images… to persist.

There’s a shot in TRANSFORMERS 2, where Megan Fox is leaning over the prostrate Lebouf, and the helicopter flies over her head in slow motion. It’s an absolutely gorgeous shot. I’ve seen that particular scene maybe twice, about a year ago, and that image is still rock solid in my head. David Lean would be proud.

It’s an amazing understanding of the iconic, and what visually… compels. So caring very little about the Transformers, for his visuals, as well as being a director who uses a diverse cast (While not a fan of his lead actor, his supporting actors are always intriguing) I’ll be in the theaters for this movie.

July 22nd brings us Joe Johnston’s CAPTAIN AMERICA:FIRST AVENGER. Like THOR that’s a no-brainer for me. I’ll be in the theaters for it. And the 29th brings us the latest from Jon Favreau, COWBOYS AND ALIENS. Riding high on his new lease on life with the IRON MAN films, we’ll see if he can continue his blockbuster ways sans Robert Downey Jr.


August brings us yet more hack remakes and sequels, in a year full of them. Among them CONAN (Lead actor looks great, but the director has a horrible track record. This, right now, looks like rental fodder), FINAL FANTASY 5 (This one has a fledgling director, but one who has assisted James Cameron, and writers who did not write the atrocious previous films, but also have not proved themselves capable of doing any better, one of the writers has also written the THING prequel, so FF5 could be a good barometer for how good or bad the THING movie will be), and also FRIGHT NIGHT (by a director of comedic romances).

September 2nd FINALLY brings us a film with a couple of people of color in the lead, Zoe Saldana (of TAKERS, STAR TREK, LOSERS and AVATAR fame… yes she has been very busy πŸ™‚ ) as the protagonist in COLUMBIANO, and Lennie James (WALKING DEAD) as Special Agent Ross.

Though I’m not crazy that Hollywood is trying to groom Zoe Saldana to be the next Halle Berry, or the fact that the film is yet another SALT permutation, about a female Assassin seeking vengeance. Still, I’ll support COLUMBIANO strictly because of the casting of Saldano and James in a thriller.

September 16th brings us DRIVE the latest from director Nicolas Winding Refn of BRONSON and VALHALLA RISING fame, a heist/thriller it’s a wait and see. Stars Tina Huang and Tiara Parker.

Also on September, 16th Rod Lurie who helmed the brilliant CONTENDER and is master of political thrillers, enters more stark thriller territory with the remake of Pekinpah’s classic STRAW DOGS. I’ve never been a fan of remaking great films, the optimum form of that film already exists, re-release it in theaters rather than remaking it, or push the DVD. However, if you’re going to remake something for a new generation, then remake something that you can improve on.

While I quite like the casting of James Woods and Laz Alonzo, and it is intriguing to see Kate Bosworth and James Marsden kinda reprise their SUPERMAN RETURNS roles of ill-fated lovers (though Kate Bosworth looks completely different as a blonde, that and the scant years, have made quite a difference in her face, there’s something quite unusual and perhaps a bit feral in her face in recent stills, that makes her quite beautiful and quite perfect for the role of a woman burning from within), I’m still a bit wary.

No one has ever improved on a Pekinpah film, and I don’t think Rod Lurie is going to be the first.

That is a concern, as is the fact the film hinges on James Marsden filling the role, amazingly performed by Dustin Hoffman in the original, and to date Marsden hasn’t shown the ability to be compelling on screen, or to have the range to make you care about him. X-MEN, SUPERMAN RETURNS he’s always the least interesting person on screen. Still, Lurie tends to be able to get the performances he needs, so I’m intrigued enough to give this one a look.


23rd September sees the release of ABDUCTION. I have no interest in the lead actors, or really the premise, but John Singleton as director makes me intrigued. Mostly because he’s slated to helm the POWER MAN/LUKE CAGE film, and what he can do with this film, will speak a lot on whether POWER MAN/LUKE CAGE will be horrible or great.

John Singleton is a director I keep wanting to like, but his films tend to underwhelm. SHAFT was awful, yet his last film… 2005’s FOUR BROTHERS was good, if not great. So I’m hoping the years since that movie, have made him a stronger filmmaker. We’ll see.

And closing out September we have Daniel Craig in director Jim Sheridan’s DREAM HOUSE, “a couple move into house where murder was committed” type thriller/spook tinged film.

Some honorable mentions that I’m not sure when they are being released:

CARANCHO- Just saw a trailer for this Argentine thriller, and it looks great. Mad, and war touched, and a bit beautiful.

RUBBER- Okay I’ve seen my share of weird movies, but this trailer even gave me pause. A killer tire??? Trailer is pretty funny, take a look.

RED RIDING HOOD- I’m no fan of TWILIGHT, but this take on the Red Riding Hood myth, stars Gary Oldman, and the trailer is pretty good. Plus I’m a huge fan of Werewolf movies. This is one to go see.

BLACK HEAVEN- Distributed by IFC films, the trailer for this French import looks quite compelling. Something about a VR game, that has dark and mysterious consequences in the real world.

CONSPIRATOR- Just saw the trailer for Robert Redford’s latest film, concerning the trial of conspirators in the wake of Lincoln’s Assassination and it looks FANTASTIC.

LIMITLESS- The trailer for Neil Burger’s latest re-imagines the idea of someone with superpowers, powers used not to jump around in gaudy spandex, and fight crime, but the way most would probably use such gifts, to pleasure themselves and to acquire more. It’s WALLSTREET meets THE BIONIC MAN. Nice hyper-kinetic trailer.

BLACK DEATH- This trailer tells a tale of superstition, and a reign of bloody torture during the dark years of the 14th century. Quite compelling trailer.