Archive for July, 2009

how awesome is Denzel Washington?


For those of you living off-planet for the past twenty years, Denzel Washington is perhaps the greatest living actor. He can do drama, action, comedy. He can play characters or he can play himself. He can be the good guy or the bad guy. He can take a crap movie and make it watchable, and a decent movie great. Don’t even get me started on what he does in a truly awesome movie. (Hint: he makes it AWESOMER.) He totally got robbed by the Academy by not winning the Oscar for Hurricane (they made it up to him later).

He is so awesome I originally wanted my book, Dancing With Jack Ketch, to be a movie with him in the lead. Can you imagine Denzel as pirate captain? I sure can. Due to my lack of movie connections, the film fell apart in pre-pre-production, but you can still read my story. Whenever they say “Jackson,” think “Denzel.”

What follows is a list of Denzel’s best movies.

1. Malcolm X – The definitive Denzel. An epic movie that doesn’t feel 800 hours long, thanks to Spike Lee’s kinetic camerawork and a good editor.

2. He Got Game – Denzel as the self-serving, incarcerated dad of a college basketball recruit. The man uses his own son to get out of jail. Cold.

3. Inside Man – Denzel’s definitive Good Guy Cop. It really helps that this was a good Spike Lee movie; these two seem to bring the best out in each other.

4. The Mighty Quinn – Denzel’s first movie with a Bob Dylan connection. He plays Xavier Quinn, the Chief of Police in Jamaica. Includes a regge version of the song The Mighty Quinn. In Chronicles Vol. 1, Bob puts his seal of approval on Denzel’s performance. That’s all the reason I need to love this movie.

5. The Manchurian Candidate – There was no reason to remake the original; it had all the markings of a timeless classic political thriller. Somehow, this movie managed to become its own thing. It is modern and just as terrifying as the original.

6. The Siege – Especially prescient in the wake of September 11. Denzel plays an FBI agent hunting down terrorist cells in Brooklyn. Co-stars Bruce Willis as a flag-waving, power-mad general who uses the exact same logic as Dick Cheney. At least Bruce was just acting.

Friday Robots

The first Friday Robots of July. These robots are getting signals from outer space. The signals contain a recipe for black bean and yam burritos. Yum!friday-robots-7-3-9

On a related note, my investigative journalism skillz came in handy when I caught these real-life Friday Robots on film. (Digital film.) I may have to see if there are more Robots among us waiting to be discovered.maryhill-robot maryhill-robot-2

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full circle

Newsday, a real, actual newspaper, published my post about hating camp. You read it here first, and now you (or those of you living in the Long Island area) can read it in print.

For the record, my opinion has not changed. I remain the same camp-hating blogger you have come to know and love.

Happy 4th of July everybody! For those of you stuck in some camp right now, I am sorry. Email me and I will try to bust you out.

why don’t they just blow up Michael Bay?

Falling Rock National Blog formally commends Entertainment Weekly. Last week, they published a fine piece of journalism on the horrific horrors perpetuated upon the public by ersatz director Michael Bay.transformers-entertainment-weekly

While I absolutely refuse to see the latest abomination of my childhood heroes (the Autobots, duh), Entertainment Weekly has done a fine job of showing me exactly what I’m missing. They go one further than boilerplate review, however. They list exactly what is extraneous about Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen and suggest edits that would improve the movie.

Why didn’t the editors, Roger Barton, Tom Muldoon, Joel Negron, and Paul Rubell, do their job before the movie hit theaters? Why does the American public have to sit through fart jokes for almost three hours when all they want is hot robot-on-robot action? Why won’t Megan Fox eat a burrito, for chrissakes? These are all questions somebody, for the love of god, should have asked Michael Bay before he was allowed to put this monstrosity onto film.

Some guy at Industrial Light & Magic sat for weeks at his computer meticulously animating Optimus Prime pretending to take a leak on the Eiffel Tower. This is the same guy who animated Iron Man. This is the same company that made dinosaurs walk among us. Do you see the wasted potential here? Does it make you as crazy as it makes me??

I take Entertainment Weekly up on their offer but suggest one better: cut Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen down to twenty minutes, remove all the humans, and air it at 7AM on Saturdays. That’s the way Transformers is supposed to be. They save the world while you eat your Honey Nut Cheerios.

Death to Michael Bay. Long live Optimus Prime.

still searching for step two

Step 1: Draw funny comics

Step 3: Profit!

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Portfolio: watercolor collage

Watercolor and photograph collage, stitched together in Photoshop. The landscape is New Mexican.watercolor-desert-photo-collage

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quote of the day

While financial incentives are a very complicated business, two simple points hold true. First, even without payment, some folk will always record music, write software, make their feature films, do their own investigative journalism, occasionally even test their own drugs. You couldn’t stop them if you tried. Second, we will all be better off with more, not fewer, professional careers available for knowledge producers. Not having to stick with a day job allows creative workers to be more creative and productive, for the benefit of all.

–Peter Eckersley, “Knowledge wants to be free too”, New Scientist

Friday Robots

friday-robots-7-10-9Borrowed from the cover of The Crowded Universe, a book I have not read but that looked interesting (especially the cover).

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not last thoughts on bill watterson

As a kid, I cut out Calvin and Hobbes Sunday strips, laminated them, and posted them on the walls of my room. It was homemade wallpaper. I’d like to think some of that genius seeped into my brain while I slept and made me a better cartoonist. It also establishes, once and for all, my Calvin and Hobbes geek cred.

Calvin and Hobbes’ strength is in its complete insularity: you knew Calvin was not going to make terrible jokes about the current news cycle, you’d never see Hobbes endorsing life insurance or cat food. Bill ensured that Calvin and Hobbes would remain firmly in our imagination and never on some billboard along I-10.

The downside of this was Bill’s withdrawal from public life. Aside from the occasional intrepid journalist traveling to Watterson’s abode outside Cleveland, Ohio, or a surprising book review or introduction written by the man himself, I slowly began to understand that there would be no follow-up to Calvin and Hobbes. Bill had given us everything he had for 10 years and that, he decided, was plenty.

The problem with being a genius who revitalizes an art form is, people don’t forget you. Bill may have thought that dropping out of the public eye for a decade and a half would make him disappear, that we’d all become so entranced with our iphones that we would forget that comic strip about a boy and his tiger. Well, if he wanted us to forget, he shouldn’t have made Calvin and Hobbes so damn good.

Seriously, forgetting about Bill Watterson is like forgetting about Bob Dylan. “Remember that guy?” “Who?” “You know, that guy who made like FIFTEEN CLASSIC ALBUMS IN A ROW?” You see my point.

My friend Alec (to whom I now owe my life) alerted me to Looking for Calvin and Hobbes, by Nevin Martell. It will be published in October. In the introductory chapter, sent to me free(!) by the author, Nevin maps out his own desire to speak with that most elusive of creatures, the retired cartoonist. Like a man stalking a tiger in the jungle, Nevin is well aware of the dangers but plunges on nevertheless. He breathlessly narrates his hopes (will he secure an interview with Bill Watterson?) and fears (Bill Watterson will hate him forever for writing this book).

I cannot wait for this book to be released. My initial apprehension that the book would be trashy, or tell-all, or in some way denigrate Bill’s work, was allayed by the tone of the chapter. This guy loves Calvin and Hobbes as much as I do, and he has nothing but respect for its author. Even if Nevin doesn’t get the golden interview, we still get to hear from cartoonists and friends (and cartoonist-friends) of the main man. And that ain’t bad.

Now we just have to hold our collective breath to see whether Looking for Calvin and Hobbes is as illuminating as promised. I have high hopes. Even after a decade of comics, Bill Watterson has much to teach us.

Harry Potter reaches middle age

Some people think that after the sad, sad events in his books, young Harry lives a happy life of bliss. I’m here to break the bad news. After having to watch almost all his friends and family die at the hands of the noseless menace Voldemort, you’d think nothing worse could happen to Harry. Far from living a charmed life, however, Harry’s future is one of pain, heartbreak, and ultimately desolation.

Here are a few chapters from the rest of Harry Potter’s life:

Harry Potter and the Mid-Life Crisis. Harry realizes he is no longer attractive, with his beer gut, his bizarrely-shaped bald patch, and his halitosis. He undergoes radical plastic surgery and comes out looking like an anime character.

Harry Potter and the Ingrown Toenail. It gets infected. Really gross, but for some reason Harry talks about it nonstop whenever guests are over.

Harry Potter and the Colonoscopy. Every man, wizard or not, needs one of these.

Harry Potter and the Werewoman. Harry thinks he’s found a man who turns into a woman every full moon. “This is great!” Harry thinks. “I’ve got a new best friend AND mistress.” Turns out the werewoman is just a transvestite.

Spoiler alert! For those of you who want to peer deep into Harry’s future, here is what you can expect (hint: sorrow).

Harry Potter Sits on a Park Bench Wondering Where the Time Went and, as the Young People Jog By with Their Blackberries and Whatnot, He Looks Down at the Expectant Pigeons and Begins to Weep.

*Still not ready for the weepfest at the multiplex? Further Potter reading can be found here:
Harry Potter by Charles Bukowski
Part 1
Part 2
Part 3

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