Monday, December 31, 2018

I've been developing a lot of lists lately and I wanted to share two of them. These lists were tough to go through and probably need some rework, but creating them gave me some comfort. Also, I limited myself to 20 for each. The number is arbitrary and only picked to provide a constraint.

Favorite albums, in no particular order, limited to one album per artist, listed by artist alphabetically:

Arcade Fire - The Suburbs
Bjork - Medulla
Bon Iver - 22, A Million
Iron and Wine - Kiss Each Other Clean
Nine Inch Nails - Halo 8: Downward Spiral
Pink Floyd - Wish You Were Here
Postal Service - Give Up
Radiohead - Kid A
Ryan Adams - Heartbreaker
Sigur Ros - ( )
The Antlers - Hospice
The Beatles - Revolver
The Decemberists - The Hazards of Love
The Shins - Chutes Too Narrow
Tori Amos - Boys for Pele
Tune Yards - Nikki Nack
Whiskeytown - Pneumonia
Wilco - A Ghost is Born
Yeasayer - Odd Blood

Favorite movies, in no particular order, limited to three movies per director (because I'm a sucker for Wes Anderson), listed by year chronologically:

The Big Lebowski - Coen Brothers
Being John Malkovich - Spike Jonze
American Psycho - Mary Harron
Requiem for a Dream - Darren Aronofsky
The Royal Tenebaums - Wes Anderson
Punch-Drunk Love - Paul Thomas Anderson
Kill Bill Vol 1 and 2 - Quentin Tarantino
Lost in Translation - Sofia Coppola
The Darjeeing Limited - Wes Anderson
Scott Pilgrim vs the World - Edgar Wright
The Social Network - David Fincher
Her - Spike Jonze
Nymphomaniac Vol 1 and 2 - Lars Von Trier
Under the Skin - Jonathan Glazer
Upstream Color - Shane Carruth
The Grand Budapest Hotel - Wes Anderson
The Lobster - Yogos Lanthimos
Swiss Army Man - Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert
Columbus - Kogonada
Mother! - Darren Aronofsky

Wednesday, July 4, 2018

On this, the 4th of July, I usually wear my Captain America t-shirt, because reasons. This year, as I sat around with family and friends, eating charred meat I thought about my shirt and the character it represents and suddenly, unexpectedly, the irony set in.

I was thinking of the Avengers, or more specifically the four “core” members that built the foundation of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. For those that aren’t familiar, the founding members of the Avengers in the film universe are Iron Man, Thor, Hulk, and Captain America. Sure, to a lesser extent, Black Widow and Hawkeye were founders too, but they didn’t get their own solo movies. Black Widow will get hers, but that’s not really part of my point. I want to look at the four founders individually and what they represent.

Iron Man came first. Tony Stark. Tony has a brilliant, inventive mind and can create technology that we mere mortals can only dream of. He’s also deeply narcissistic, arrogant, and brash. He loves the sound of his own voice and he always thinks he’s right, especially when he isn’t. He thinks fast, but talks faster and often puts his foot in his mouth or into some shit because he often doesn’t think before he speaks or acts.

Next we have The Incredible Hulk. Bruce Banner. Again, we have a brilliant scientific mind. Seven PhDs in various scientific disciplines. But when the “other guy” comes out he is mindlessly violent. He smashes first and asks questions later. He is one of the strongest and most dangerous beings in the world. Each time Bruce recovers from one of the episodes as the other guy, he is tortured and haunted by it. He loses control and destroys and then flagellates himself over the collateral damage he leaves in his wake.

Thor is more refined, to be sure but also arrogant, and self important, similar to Iron Man. The main difference is that Thor’s arrogance would place him apart and above everyone else in his own eyes. He seems to judge from an ivory tower at times, whereas Iron Man would rather revel in his accomplishments and hear everyone sing his praises. This aloofness seems to come from his father, who - it bears mentioning - can often be cold. Thor is always striving to win his father’s approval, which many of us can identify with.

To summarize, we have the arrogant narcissist playboy, the guilt-ridden rage monster, and the aloof rich kid with a daddy complex.

Then there is Steve Rogers. Captain America. The boy scout. He will always do what is right, no matter the cost. He has not a selfish bone in his body and not a demon to speak of. He’s handsome and strong and squeaky clean. He would rather pilot a plane directly into the ocean than see any innocent lives lost. This is where that irony I mentioned earlier comes in. I would suggest that the other three deeply flawed members of the original Avengers squad, with their flaws and demons, are more like America than the man who bears the “A” on his forehead and the star-spangled onesie.

Are we a selfless nation of do-gooders? I don’t see the evidence to say so. We charge into other countries, make demands, provoke trade wars, shut our doors to refugees, and detain the tired, poor, huddled masses at our borders. We separate these would-be immigrants from their children. We ingratiate dictators. We find it acceptable that three people in this country own fully half of all the wealth to be had in this country. Yes, you read that correctly. The three richest private citizens in this nation control half of all the buying power possible here. All the while people starve on our streets. People go without access to medical care and mental health care. The education system is slowly falling apart from lack of care and children are shot and killed in our schools on a sickeningly regular basis.

But believe it or not, this is also the hopeful portion of this piece. I think Captain America is what we American’s aspire to be. Deep down we really do understand that we are more like the other, less-polished Avengers. We are self-important. We do smash without thinking and regret it later. We do look down on the world from on high. As a culture we are guilty of all this. We are riddled with cultural demons that haunt us daily. And yet, we want to be the brave and charming savior. We want to believe that we can only do good and believe that we will only do just that. And I kind of love that about us. Oh, I could do without the arrogant mistakes or raging blunders or haughty judgements. Certainly. But I love that we wish we were Steve Rogers. We wish that we were the best of us.

So, on this day of celebration of the birth of our nation, let’s think of Captain America and the good guys we want to be. Let’s think of how we can leave the world better than we found it. How we can fight the good fight and serve the greater good. How can we better serve and protect our neighbors (on both the local and international levels). Even if that isn’t who we really are, it could be. It should be. The metaphor breaks down here. There’s no quirky, German doctor to give us a super soldier serum like Steve got to become The Captain. We just need to get up off our asses and do the work.

Thursday, June 14, 2018


They tell you a lot of things when they hear you’ve got a baby on the way. The nebulous They. Your coworkers, family, strangers on the street, baggers at the grocery checkout. Oh, it’s the greatest time, they will tell you. Enjoy every moment while it lasts, because they’ll be in college before you know it. Do this trick for that problem and that trick for this problem. On and on.

But nobody tells you that you will think homicidal thoughts.

That is not quite what it sounds like. Allow me to explain.

I am a pacifist. I have never been in a fight. Despite desperately wanting to get in one during my early 20s, I am glad I did not succeed in that. I am past the age of the draft, but I used to wonder what I would do on the frontline of a battle. I think I would die rather than kill. Easy to say from my couch, but who knows.

All that is to set up background. When they placed my son in my hands for the first time and I looked down at his squawling little face I immediately thought:

“I will kill anyone who tries to hurt you.”

Just like that. Kill. I didn’t intentionally think this so much as the thought came up unbidden. Just appeared there in my psyche. I balked at first. Kill?! But then, yeah. I probably would.


He’s almost 10 weeks old now. Last week I had a nightmare. I could hear Joy screaming my name from the other end of the house. I couldn’t tell what was happening to her, but I could hear terror in her voice. The kind of terror that makes the hair on the back of your stand up when you hear it. I didn’t know if she was hurt or the baby was hurt or if there was an intruder. I had no idea what was wrong. I just knew that she needed me. Remember, this was all in my mind, all in the dream.

In real life, I leapt out of bed and sprinted to our bedroom door, intending to run to wherever she was calling from. Then I heard Joy call out “Joey?!” This time her voice was calmer. She was confused, but calm. She was also lying right next to where I had just been in bed. I had startled her by jumping out of bed from a dead sleep. “What’s the matter?” She asked.

Nothing. Nothing at all. Just a nightmare. A Dad nightmare. A husband nightmare. Took me more than an hour to fall back to sleep. And the sound of her screams haunted me for a couple days. But I do know that if I had come across anyone in our home hurting her or the baby... they would’ve regretted that decision.

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

I've been tracking all of the movies I've been watching this year on Letterboxd and I just hit my first 100. Here they are, in the order that I watched them. There are a lot of BAD horror and nostalgic 80s/90s movies on the list, in addition to a few go-to ones and several widescreen releases....we don't have an amazing indi scene over here, but we get a few at Alamo.

If I had to recommend one, it would be one that Brian recommended to me earlier this year, Columbus. It somehow slipped thorough the radar and is easily one of the best shot movies I've ever seen. 

I, Tonya
The Shape of Water
A Ghost Story
The Open House
Phantom Thread
The Final
The Vault
The Karate Kid
The Similars
A Dark Song
Hard Candy
Don’t Hand Up
Perfect Sisters
Behind the Mask
Sunshine Cleaning
The Karate Kid II
The Karate Kid III
The Next Karate Kid
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing Missouri
The Lazarus Effect
10 Cloverfield Lane
The Cloverfield Paradox
The Ritual
The Good Neighbor
Let’s Be Evil
Black Panther
I Am Not a Serial Killer
Man on the Moon
All is Lost
Hunt for the Wilderpeople
Mortal Kombat
Red Sparrow
The Post
Call Me by Your Name
The Girl in the Photographs
The Tortured
Nymphomaniac Vol I
The Strangers Prey at Night
Game Night
Tomb Raider (2018)
The Collector
Crush the Skull
Nymphomaniac Vol II
The Collection
Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle
Bad Match
Ingrid Goes West
The Babysitter
Tall Men
The Alchemist Cookbook
Ready Player One
Isle of Dogs
Aliens: Zone of Silence
Man Vs
Avengers: Infinity War
A Quiet Place
Doctor Strange
Friend Request
How to Rob a Bank
Bottom of the World
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
A Nightmare on Elm Street
A Nightmare on Elm Street 2
A Nightmare on Elm Street 3
A Nightmare on Elm Street 4
Circus Kane
The Little Hours
Teenage Cocktail
The Beguiled (2017)
Deadpool 2
Tragedy Girls

Monday, May 21, 2018

Inspiration is unreliable, at best. When it does show up, hopefully it finds you working. Doubtless I'm saying something that we've all heard before. As I've grown past the age of being considered a young creative prodigy, I've been surprised by a youthful liberty of thought. There's a certain obsession often seen in children. Demanding the same meal again and again. Watching the same movie several times a day (now with on-demand digital streaming they no longer have to suffer the eternal few minutes it took to rewind a VHS, but then they also lost that satisfying KACHUNK when the tape was ready to watch again).

And in their way, they become experts.

The biggest obstacle when attempting to write creatively before is that I didn't have a schedule. The second biggest obstacle was that I believed I was only good if I was original. I don't think that now.

Inspiration is unreliable, and when it comes it had best find you working. Someone else already said that. And now I'm saying it, the way I would say it, at a specific time in my life, to a specific group of people.

And managing schedule thing is easy enough. There's all kinds of tools for that.