Saturday, August 29, 2009

quotes.

In case you're wondering, I don't feel bad at all about being a stereotypically lazy blogger, seeing as I posted my hiatus notice. Here, have some inappropriately used quotation marks.

Monday, August 24, 2009

um, hiatus?

Now that my job's started again and I have to act like a grown-up every once in a while, I'm having trouble blogging at a regular pace. (As though this place ever had anything approaching a normal schedule.) So, I'm officially declaring a break here, because I don't want to waste your time reading short entries or my time duplicating my attempts at clever one-liners from Twitter. Of course, the last time I said this here, it was right before the dam burst on a swell of blogging, so we'll see. Just an FYI, I suppose.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

obama versus guns.

There's been a lot of news lately about gun activists showing up to see Obama with their guns in tow. This, to me, is not alarming in and of itself, simply because, well, the Secret Service does a really good job most of the time, in our modern era. They'd probably kill someone with a gun who was near enough the POTUS first and ask questions later. Like, much later. Like, years later. If ever. So I'm not really concerned about that possibility.

However, the fact that it seems to be happening semi-regularly kind of set something off in me this morning as I read the news. I understand people want to keep their rights. I also understand that every time a Democrat gets elected to the White House, there is a run on bullets because for some reason, those people think the Dems want to take away their guns. (I do want to make it clear that I don't think they're in any real danger. No politician would ever really think about taking on the Second Amendment. It'd be political suicide, first of all, and secondly, it would never even take. So it's a fruitless battle to think about taking on, much less going forward with.)

Now, me, personally, I don't really care for guns. It's a personal preference, but I'm not about forcing those preferences on anyone. I make fun of people who feel the need to go hunting with rifles that could kill a small target from 500 yards away, but as long as they're not hunting me, I don't have a real problem with it.

So keep in mind that, yes, I'm not really pro-gun, but I'm not trying to be vehemently anti-gun, super-liberal about this. And I really hesitate to say this is definitely the case, because it's a card that I'm really against playing, but I think it's a question worth asking.

I started wondering: did this happen to other Presidents in the past? And by other Presidents, obviously, I mean Democratic Presidents. I don't remember this happening with Bill Clinton, and I wasn't even around for Jimmy Carter. Those could be faults of memory and research, and I'm perfectly willing to cop to that, and so, again, I phrase this as a question, not as an accusation, nor as a declarative statement.

Is there a possibility, however, that the people carting these guns to go see Obama are harboring subconscious racist tendencies? I mean, it has to be considered, given the enormous history of racism in this country. Think about the traditional images of white people surrounding African-Americans with nooses. Then think about those same people, and their level of discomfort with the fact that one of quote-unquote those people is now our President. Think about the ways in which they'd be ostracized from our modern society if they did show up with nooses. And so, in the back of their minds, with these subconscious yearnings, maybe they look for loopholes, ways in which they can still exhibit this behavior, but it could also be masked.

Has this happened in the past? Is every Democratic President subtly threatened in this way? Or is this something new that Obama is having to deal with?

I think it's a question worth asking.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

probably the best superhero comic book in the universe!

Wow. So there I was, just mourning the last day of my summer vacation, relaxing by watching some Buffy: The Vampire Slayer, when I got a text message from one of my friends: "Kirkman is at Astro Zombies!" (Warning, if you're already geeked out, and think less of me because I write about basketball a lot of the time and now are like, OMFG, what is he doing??, I can only warn you that it gets worse. From your point of view. Infinitely better from mine.)

Robert Kirkman is the writer of a comic book series called Invincible, which has, as its tag line, the title of this entry. It's kind of an upstart title, although it's hard to truly say so at this point. It's published by Image, which, if you know anything about comic books, you'll know might have garnered some indie credit, like, fifteen years ago. Now, however, they're pretty entrenched as the third in the Big Three label. Regardless, though, the label's pretty accurate. (For my money, the only book that's coming out on a regular basis [or any basis, for that matter] that's better than Invincible is Green Lantern - largely because of Geoff Johns and the Blackest Night storyline.)

So with just that little bit of info under your belt, I hope you're excited. Me, I was ecstatic! Especially because the friend who sent me the text couldn't make it, nor could my other friend, who is probably one of the biggest Kirkman fans on the planet. I jumped up immediately, grabbed my hardcover collections and went to the store, trying to think up how to go about asking for an autograph if he was just there passing through, as I'd heard. (This isn't Hollywood. We don't run into celebs every single day, and I'm not really that guy who wants to be hassling someone who's just trying to enjoy the local comic book shop experience.) When I got there, I glanced around, but didn't see him.

I perused the shelves, picking up a trade that will be given as a gift to the wonderful lady who gave me a ride to the store. When I turned around, bam! There he was. It was a complicated thing. Like I said, I don't wanna be that guy. The wonderful owner of the store, however, had no problem interceding on my behalf. He looked down at my hardcovers and remarked, "Huh. So you just so happened to be driving around with those, eh?" I grinned at him, and said, "Yep. In case of emergency, man."

He then turned to Kirkman and asked him, "Hey, uh, some of our loyal customers here just happened to have some of your books in their car, would you mind signing them?" Kirkman gave me the same look and questioned why I'd been driving around with them. He was a sport enough, though, that I figured he didn't mind, so I asked if I could snap some pics. He said sure and introduced me to Ryan Ottley and Cory Walker as well. They all signed my books and graciously posed for the pic.



I try not to geek out too hard core too often, nor do I believe in posting super personal stuff all the time. But I thought this story was worth telling for several reasons. First of all, it was awesome that Robert Kirkman was just passing through Albuquerque. Secondly, he was down enough to hop up on the ladder of Astro Zombies and sign the ceiling, even though he said that he wasn't exactly the world's most comfortable dude with heights. Thirdly, Astro Zombies is, without a doubt, at this point, my favorite comic book store in ABQ. Great owner, great atmosphere, great employees, and great attitude regarding comic book shops not having to be dank, scary-looking dens. Here's to wishing them a bunch more success and here's a thanks to Kirkman and crew for being so down to let a fan geek out.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

making fake things real.

When I was in college, I wrote a story for one of the fiction-writing classes that I was taking that centered around this fake deed that the main character had done. He hadn't really done the thing, but he had lied about it so often and with such conviction that his friends believed him. As the story progressed, his family started to believe that this thing had happened, and as the story reaches its conclusion, the main character is unhappy that he has this reputation for doing the (fake) thing - everyone in his life believes that he was a drug dealer earlier in his life even though he never really had been. It was intended to push people to think about what's really real - the things that happened, or the things that we think happened?

Of course, the story was ripped by my classmates. They said that there's no way that someone's family would believe that their son, their brother, had dealt drugs when they knew he hadn't. I tried to fight for my philosophical implications, but even the teacher, in notes on the original manuscript that I still have, told me, "Perhaps this is reaching too far - would they really believe this? They know better!" Maybe I'm still just getting my feelings hurt and it's not that it's an unbelievable concept, but rather I just wasn't a good enough writer to get the idea across successfully.

Now, however, I don't have to be the only one to try.

At the beginning of this month, John Green updated his blog with a bunch of info on DJ Paige Railstone. When I saw this entry, I was confused at first. Even if John's a fan of something, he usually offers some kind of background on the subject matter. This, however, was posted just as you see it: naked, alone, without a word of interpretation. This caught my attention in a huge way and I wondered if this was a character in one of John's upcoming books. I wondered if this girl was going to be involved in one of his new plots, or if she was related to the whole This is Not Tom idea. It was just too out of place.

Then, at the end of last week, explanation:



Now, go back and read the comments on that first linked entry! What meticulousness! What ingenuity! What commitment! But then...go through again. Look at the repetition. The doubts. The coldness of the trail...

It's a fantastic concept. It's a great attempt. But what else is it? I don't really know. When my brother and I were in high school, we decided that we were going to invent a new slang word. We invented this story about how we'd gone to California for the summer, and everyone there was using "lord" as an adjective. (This was shortly after everything had been "hella" good, but before No Doubt got around to making the whole damn nation sick of that word.) New Mexico's always been a little behind the curve (pre-Internet, of course) on fashion and music and slang, etc. so we kind of figured that people would jump on it. We started incorporating it into our everyday speech. "That test was lord hard." "That chick is lord fine." It sounded stupid when we just did it by ourselves, but we stuck the course. We kept repeating it around school.

We gave up when we heard one person utter it one time. I really don't know if the word caught on, per se, I mean, I never heard anyone else say it the whole time I was in high school (but my mom, hilariously, does still throw it out every once in a while: "It's lord hot out!") but I do know that we heard it that one time. Enough people had heard us say it and repeat the story and believed it to birth that word into the world at least one time. Was it a joke? I don't know. Was it a victory for us? Did we prove anything? I really don't know.

I think there's something to be said, though, for this concept of bringing things into the world. What does it take, really? I mean, I had a big argument with one of Kat's friends this summer, while I was out in Pittsburgh, regarding how beneficence was just a social construct. I maintained that it doesn't matter if it's "just a social construct"! If the fact that we've made it important exists, then the fact is that it's important! Gender is oftentimes argued as just a social construct, but it feels pretty real to me. I would argue that's true for the LBGT groups as well - sometimes even more so!

So...is Paige Railstone real? Can we make her real? Have we already done so? The Foxboro Hot Tubs were a real band. The famous circus exhibit of the amazing Egress, ironically, I've heard, was not real. But the story's been repeated so many times that many people only know that word because of that story. Does that make some part of it real?

What does it truly mean to be real?

Monday, August 10, 2009

recently, i've seen some movies.

Two of them were older and two of them were new. First, let me just say a few words about the older ones that I saw, because I made myself a promise that I wouldn't post full reviews of old movies on here anymore. But they were so good that I feel like I need to talk about them, at least briefly.



Margot at the Wedding was done by Noah Baumbach, whom my brother and I had the pleasure of experiencing once before in the form of The Squid and the Whale. And by pleasure, I mean that was one of the wackiest movies I've ever seen, full of familial strife and unlikeable characters. Margot continues that tradition. Now, don't get me wrong; both of these movies are seriously quality flicks, but no one would mistake them for a fun Friday night for the family.

Margot is played by Nicole Kidman in one of the great performances I've seen this year (not that it came out this year, but...) and also one of my most hated characters ever. She's abusive to every single person around her in the worst ways possible, and I seriously questioned about half way through the movie whether there was a single character to admire in the whole thing! Thankfully, Jack Black shines in exactly the way the movie needs him to. He's introduced as a character who wears a mustache in quotation marks, which is a perfect description of his character. He's not actually funny, and a lot of the things he does are severely detestable, but he illuminates the darkness of the script in just the right places.

Margot is a great flick, but prepare yourself if you watch it: it'll take its toll on your patience.



The Namesake - Simply put, one of the best movies that I've seen this year. (I'm totally sad that I didn't catch it when it came out so as to put it on my Best Of list...) It reminded me a lot of White Teeth which, I think, is about as high a compliment as I can muster these days.

The Namesake was not, however, what I was expecting. There was a lot more back story to the whole affair than I was expecting - which is a great thing! Kal Penn totally kills in the way that everyone raved about, and Zuleikha Robinson was pitch perfect in her supporting role. The basic gist has been described, though, so I don't feel bad in saying that it's a search for identity in a very complex way. We're not simply looking through the lens of immigration here, nor just the experience of foreign religions, but rather, through the complicated amalgam of both of those combined with intelligence and the oh-so-familiar generation gap. This is definitely one of the best recent films: go see it!



Funny People - Judd Apatow's recent foray into semi-serious territory has been garnering a lot of press, and it's all justified. Adam Sandler hits a tour de force performance, the bit comedians do their things perfectly, and Seth Rogen finally seems like a believable leading man, even though it's arguable that he's doing a supporting role here.

However, the thing is...this movie was simply too long. They could have gotten way more effort out of the whole thing if they'd trimmed some of the details in more than a handful of places. This is a case of the sum being weaker than the parts. While Sandler is busy makings us all believers, it's not just Rogen (but rather the entire audience!) who can see Leslie Mann's ultimate decision about ten yards out of the gate. The time spent there could have been trimmed and the cumulative effect might have been even stronger.

Great notes to add here are that Apatow's nepotism is paying insane dividends! His kids are button cute (and they sing?), his wife is perfectly hot, and Eric Bana is a welcome addition to the troupe - I hope he stays with them.



Lastly, (500) Days of Summer - I was really worried when this movie began that it was going to be another Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist - a movie made for kids much younger than I that I'd appreciate but not fully even like. And then it started, and my worries shifted - does this movie want too hard to be the next Juno? I mean, really, what's up with all the indie kids wanting their movies to be soundtrack vehicles? Especially for themselves singing. But then, again, I shifted. It's Zooey Deschanel. She can do hardly no wrong.

The thing is...this movie was almost perfect. Seriously. Joseph Gordon-Levitt hasn't really gotten enough credit to this point, but with this semi-indie movie and GI Joe both coming out this summer, here's to hoping that he'll start to get some good press.

The movie itself is fairly straight up when it begins by saying, "This is not a love story." The thing that I loved the most about this movie is that it dealt with one of the inherent contradictions in some people: always willing to believe in fate until something bad happens to them. (Obviously, the reverse is just as bad.) As though the fates smiling on you is the only thing that's ever meant to happen. But when it suddenly goes wrong, well, fate must not exist. Simply maddening that people (of all stripes, but notably those of the religious persuasion) can will themselves to believe this sort of thing.

Sorry. That was clearly an aside. Regardless, the movie plays out in a fantastic manner. JGL and Deschanel make a believable couple, pairing off via their happenstance meeting through the office they both work in. JGL has great friends who do good things in their supporting roles and the movie never lets itself get too sappy (always remembering its promise that it is not, in fact, a love story) while refusing to run away into the land of comedy as well.

(500) Days of Summer is the best movie that I've seen this summer, while The Namesake is one of the tops of the year. Check them both out.

Monday, August 3, 2009

toms shoes.

This is something I should have heard about before. And I feel like I might have. It got some press from TIME magazine about a year ago. And most importantly, my brother's main lady just bought him a pair.

This seems like a great idea, and a great company. I like the main ideas behind it, obviously, but I like the products, too! The shoes that my brother got look a lot like the Sanuks that we both have, and he says that they're comfy in the same way, too.

But the great thing here is that we get a chance to do good for some other places in the world as well. When my mom got herself an XO computer, one of the largest motivations was their giveaway program. This kind of mix between philanthropy and capitalism is one of the reasons why 21st century America still has the chance to be a world leader, in many ways.

Check out TOMS the next time you're looking for a pair.