Archive for August, 2013

Haikuesday

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Wind whips my wet hair

Legs pound and concrete passes

One fast flash this life

Western Watchins Week 40

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You could probably blame Joe Kidd on the whole thing. Joe Kidd has a very famous train featured prominently during the film’s finale and it’s due to the fact this train, the Reno, now resides in an obscure theme park outside of Tucson, Arizona that last year my wifey and I traveled there to visit that steel stallion for our 10th wedding anniversary. On that trip we fell in love with the desert and will live out in it one day sooner than later so thanks to the Turner Classic Movie channel running a Clint Eastwood weekend last summer I’m one step closer to becoming a feared and respected Fremen warrior.

More on fear and respect in a minute but first check out this poster I found when searching for “Joe Kidd poster”. 

Google seems at first to have failed again with it’s algorithms but instead of the usual parade of penises this image popped up and for once I can see why. Joe Kidd didn’t take any shit and left pants full of it in his wake. Is he a dick? No. A bully? Nope. A hard nosed gunslinger with a mysterious past? For once, not really. They say it’s better to be feared than respected but I say it’s better to just be yourself and let others feel how they’re gonna. You stay out of my way and I out of yours we’ll get along fine. Start messing with me or mine and we’ll have…issues.

Joe Kidd isn’t a revenge flick in the classic sense. It’s a guy just balancing things out flick. He’s not asking for more than he’s due and he’s not expecting anyone else to either. When folks start all that asking along with the requisite pushing and shoving is when the problems start. Less for Joe and more for anyone that’s being a dick. Including the lead singer of Queen.

He’s upset because Highlander was so good but all the sequels sucked day old donkey balls. I’m kidding, the donkey balls are fresh plus that’s not why this Freddy Mercury cosplayer is pissed. He’s a Mexican land owner who’s been screwed out of a great deal of land and is planning on doing whatever is necessary to get it all back. He’s in a bad place tween the rock and the hard place and then, because he’s hiding out in the mountains, more rocks. I feel for him and the fact he got fucked over in the same way I feel for the Native Americans and the many ways they were overly fucked by the U.S. government. And without giving to much away he starts some shit.

But then he decides to drag Clint Eastwood through that shit. And then shit man, you done and shit up the wrong tree and because your standing on your head to do so all that treeshitting your shit just ran down all over you in a hail of bullets and Eastwoodian ass-kicking. But he’s not the only ass that needs kicking! Oh no. This is the Wild West and ass to kick is everywhere. Like this dude! 

Aw hell…Clint better watch out that guy drives Striker Eureka! Wait…what am I saying. The Man with No Name might not know what a mech was if he ever saw one but you can be damn sure, if that mech wronged him in some way, it would know the meaning of saguaro cyber-sodomization faster that you could say Pacific Rim (job)! And maybe that’s not the same guy. If it is we now have proof that vampires exist. Or Highlanders I guess. Anyway this guy is neither because as you can see he was saying something along the lines of “Hey Joe, I heard your Mom sucks so much WHAAM!”

That guy’s just a lackey anyway. But he’s an awesome lackey. That’s one of the things that makes Joe Kidd so outstanding. The characters are expertly fleshed out well beyond your average “bad guy A” and “assistant to bad guy A” that many formulaic actioners fall into with aplomb. This little nowhere story, set in a little nowhere town could have been full of little nobodies but it’s not. So even the nobodies are somebody. And then you get Robert Duvall.

He plays a former Union Calvalry officer turned nudist. Ha, I love the smell of good misdirection in the morning. He’s not that at all but I won’t spoil it by telling you what he is exactly. 

Okay he’s the bad guy. Or additional bad guy depending on what your feelings are about “A Night at the Opera”. Lots of grey areas in Joe Kidd and for a no frills, dust filled shoot ’em up that’s really my favorite color. And actually any movie that uses the old Reno with such creativity has more frills than most I reckon. Plus neckerchiefs. Goddamnit man! Can anyone rock this accessory like Clint?

And don’t you dare say Steven Tyler or Yasser Arafat either! Steven is a beautiful older woman but can’t touch the rugged manliness with which Clint dons the cravat and as for Yasser that’s not a scarf. It’s actually some mutant part of his head due to inbreeding. I know this because I’m not racist 🙂 Now back to that picture! There is just so much fashionable “fuck you” headed someone’s way in this scene I don’t know if I want to watch, take part or just masturbate! And jerking off aside that scarf gets things done. That scarf was there when Clint Eastwood carved Mt. Rushmore with his fucking squint! That’s the kind of man that made this movie and the kind of man that made it so damn enjoyable.

Joe Kidd gets 5 big rounds in the cylinder. It has something for everyone. An interesting, multidimensional story? Yes. Diverse and not easily corralled characters? More yes. Clint sticking his hands down some dude’s pants for one of the best bitch slaps in movie history? Hell yes! Joe Kidd always makes me smile that visiting with an old friend kind of smile. It’s a warm whiskey on an even warmer day. It’s the sun shining through that whiskey sparkling and glinting with all the facets of your day’s adventures. It’s just a damn fine drink and one I’m almost always in the mood in which to partake.

That said I think it’s time for a refill. Here’s to Joe and here’s to you amigo. Life’s short so never stop riding.

And always ride true.

Something’s cooking in the P.A.N.

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Last weekend has come and gone leaving me deeply moved and greatly changed in it’s wake. And Anime Festival Orlando almost didn’t happen for me this season as I was previously signed on to host events elsewhere. But then came the conflict of interest. It seems I had become more interesting to the audience than the product and that was causing a conflict with the business owners. Hey-yo! And though at the time I was more than a bit upset at being kicked to the curb I can see now, with misty eyes, a multitude of reasons why it could not have worked out better for me to stay in Florida and entertain the home crowd.

Among my beloved hosting and moderating duties I am often blessed with the opportunity to perform at conventions with my wife Angie in a little sideshow we call the “Panel About Nothing”. AFO weekend (and a scheduled P.A.N.) had been headed down the tracks for quite some time but I honestly didn’t know how I would feel about it all when it pulled into the station. Ang and I had been through an awful lot the preceding 12 months and here now, unavoidable, was literally the moment we had been waiting for. Could I see past all the betrayals, the attacks and the collection of truly sad individuals from whence it all came to find a greater purpose?

One of my nicknames to a esoterically literate few is “Muad’Dupe”. It’s hilariously referential to DUNE I assure you but even if you don’t get it all you need to know is that main character Paul Atreides senses some kind of terrible reason driving him to do what he does and I have felt the same way for as long as I can recall. Ang and I have always been good in front of crowds, on the mic and in an improvisational setting but all those things came together a few days ago in a way that seems to have had a warm, peculiar and powerful effect on everyone involved.

It was the start of an amazing weekend and two comments that came my way during those few days really stood out and will forever remind me to always listen to that tug in my soul and act on it unflinchingly.

“You’re magnetic” she said staring off into space with glazed but honest eyes. I saw myself briefly as a famous purple, red and Fassbender clad mutant high on my own charismatic power and while that image is really damn cool and admittedly sometimes accurate if I am somehow attractive to all of you then the opposite is also absolutely true. I crave the interaction and that encourages me to make every single one meaningful. There’s nothing worse than a “hey, how you doin’?” as the person slides past you finishing the question on the fly and with no regard whatsoever to the answer. Fame is useless without reciprocation and I’m no one special or maybe I’m as special as you are. Either way we kinda need each other. So never put me on a pedestal unless you wanna get up here with me.

Weird stuff to hear from the guy who heads up a “Panel About Nothing” but as one rainbow haired and be-goggled bro reminded me when everything was all said and done at nearly 3 in the morning “it may be the Panel About Nothing but that doesn’t mean it’s without heart or that you don’t have something to say.” Power is nothing without a purpose behind it and if I can gather hundreds of people together to hang on my every, if oft retarded, word then I had better make damn sure I’m digging deep and really saying something every once in a while.

I knew what I had to do and how I had to do it. 

This year’s P.A.N. was different from the start as usually I am rather drunk by that point. But not this time. Not a drop. Shit, I must be serious. Someone once told me that I was a lot funnier when I drank. We’ll she was a lot more attractive when I drank so touché. But no, this time would be different because people expected drunken fuckery and while that surely followed I was stone cold sober as I delivered the following opening speech presented here for the first time in print and in it’s entirety. Thanks Rose for the encouragement to do so:

Two nights ago I came across a letter I’d written and inside I read the following words…

I am too old to hide who I am.

Those words are no less true today than in the heated moment when I first put them to paper nearly a year ago now. This past year for Angie and I has been full of growth and also terribly difficult as growing usually always is.

I went toe to toe with more than a half dozen now former friends and left a decade old relationship in the dust. All of this because those standing against me were standing between the man I could pretend to be or the man I truly was. I chose to stay true, not to break in the face of the social media hurricane, all the arm chair quarterbacking and dime store psychoanalysis.

Friends, don’t go looking for fights, but don’t shy away from them either. I didn’t and for all the cuts those superficial and the ones deadly deep I have emerged stronger and more self-assured than ever.

I am too old to hide who I am.

But so are you.

From Boston to the San Francisco Bay, Atlanta, Los Angeles, New York City, Indianapolis, San Diego and Seattle to all over this very Sunshine State people have heard my voice, ogled my body, celebrated my antics and shared in my adventures and some of these people to my surprise have asked me how they can be like me?

And always my answer is: be like you!

I am never happier than when I am 100% all American me.

We can be inspired by and encouraged by anything and anyone around us but come the end of the day let’s never forget ourselves in this magnificent mess of a thing we call life. And therein lays the challenge for all of us. To reach out, and plug in, and interact and live and love and somehow stay true to the hearts that are beating in each of our breasts.

“It’s unthinkable that we should refuse to meet this challenge.” I believe in each and every one of you. And more so, you should believe in yourself.

That could mean dying your hair bright green or cutting it all off. Or painting a picture, writing a story or dressing up as something silly. Maybe that means finding a new job, or moving across the country because you fell in love with the desert or maybe that means letting an old friend go because it’s time to do just that.

It means long looks in the mirror and tough talks and tough walks…but you’re worth it.

Never be afraid of what others might say or worse what they might think.
Think for yourself and dare I say fuck the haters!

Never be afraid of becoming those dreams you’ve always had or of taking the paths necessary to get you to them.
If you want something by God get off your ass and go and get it!

Never be afraid to reverse course or damn the torpedoes and go full steam ahead.
There’s no normal life Wyatt there’s just life, be open minded always and a little bit crazy the rest of the time.

My friends take that risk, take that leap, take each and every moment of this so very precious life.

And proudly, without shame, be yourself.”

Haikuesday

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That Spectre hangs near

So I jump and splash and laugh

I am not afraid 

 

Western Watchins Week 39

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ALENS is the best example ever. Not just of science fiction in general but more importantly the oft maligned sequel. How many part twos and threes have gone on to just absolutely destroy their source material? Almost all of them. It’s rare that a follow up comes along that can live up to or even dare to surpass its predecessor. The 80s overall had a few quality collections but for every Indiana Jones trilogy there was a Poltergeist or Robocop to remind us that movies get made all the time but good ones? Much less frequently. Besides, nowadays “sequel” just means “hastily produced studio cash grab”. And don’t you dare mention The Dark Knight. Anyone who can regurgitate Heath Ledger talking points and thinks that this movie belongs enshrined in some filmic hall of fame probably spends a great deal of time defending other equally vacuous and ridiculously overpraised endeavors that look good on paper but fail fucking miserably in real life like say Socialism.

Aw man. I’m sorry. If that last line upset you then why are you reading this? Shouldn’t you be in line for your food stamps?

Also I’m not actually sorry.

I wasn’t sorry for picking up a used copy of Rango (the game!) either. Not only is this one of the best sequels I’ve ever watched (and bonus: got to play through!) but our titular reptile is also self reliant and adventurous (so, not a socialist!) If you’ve seen the original movie, or read my review, you’ll know that Rango is ever striving to be the hero even while struggling to define exactly what that means on top of figuring out exactly who he is. In-game Rango comes across a bit more self assured as he’s now been the sheriff of the critter filled desert town of Dirt for quite some time by this point. Don’t let the badge fool you though. He’s still prone to gross exaggeration, periods of self doubt and shrill girly screaming. When it comes to hanging off the back of a speeding train can you blame him for that one?

He’s not perfect. I can relate to that. He’s also rather damn good at more than a few things and looks good in a cowboy hat. I can relate to that too. All of Rango’s fitness and all of his flaws endear him to you. And they all help in one way or another to get him through this latest escapade that has him scouring the Sonoran for clues to explain the arrival of strange glowing artifacts and what if anything they have to do with a certain someone’s long disappeared pappy. The entire plot of Rango (the game) was based off of a few what you might have assumed were throw away lines from the original film and once I realized what I was headed into I couldn’t wait to strap on the gun leather and get to the headin’.

So off I was and soon back on a train. And not just riding them, I was jumping from car to car or hanging off the sides inching forward as fast as my nimble green fingers could carry me. I’ve watched a lot of Ninja Warrior before and all these acrobatics had me thinking “I know how hard that is” and “man, Rango makes it look easy holy shit he must be a ninja!” He’s not a ninja, but he is foolheartedly determined. Would he ride a bat if he wasn’t?


That’s Rango doing his impersonation of Bruce Wayne. OMG, what if one of the bosses in the game had wandered out to confront Rango and said, in a nasally and overwrought Sean Connery accent, “You don’t fear death… You welcome it. Your punishment must be more severe!” But then we’d be watching Dark Knight Rises where the main bad guy wore underwear on his head, lifts in his shoes and talked like an drunk socialist asshole! Nope, you’re playing Rango (the game) where the villains are actually intimidating! They shoot and stab at you between clawing, punching and biting you. And they spit on you too!

Fuck that’s gross! I could pretend Rango was Hadouken-ing Rattlesnake Jake but that would be avoiding the issue. Which is the fact that getting your expectorate all over someone is fucking gross! There’s an old guy at my work who licks his desiccated fingers and contaminates every single piece of paper that comes out of our shared printer to the point I’m forced to vault over cubicles, slide under desks and dodge-roll past open cabinet drawers while sprinting like a goddamned office Ezio in a (usually) vain attempt to save my copies from salivary Armageddon. So remember: two chicks snowballing is so totally fine with me but being an oblivious octogenarian who drips his germs all over my goddamn work is so not. Gotta have some values kids!

Now, I have special ways of handling this challenging situation but none of them are as fun as Rango’s “Golden Bullet” mode.

Once or twice a level the clouds above part and a supernatural slug descends (presumably from the Spirit of the West though we never do see him 🙁 ) to aid you in your ongoing quest by opening up a brief mini-game of sorts wherein you need to nail some precisely placed targets in order to progress. Getting a bonus of sheriff’s stars (collected throughout the game and used for all kinds of amusing upgrades) for bulls-eyes makes for an extra challenge. And this game is challenging. But not like you’re guessing I’ll suspect.

What made that kid’s movie Rango so unexpected was that it wasn’t really a kid’s movie at all. Rango spent much of the movie fumbling through what looked more like a mid-life crisis than a fairy tale. The movie and game are both populated by horny toads and turkeys, bunny rabbits and armadillos and almost anything that ever scurried across the sand. But they’re not just critters. They’re complicated characters, most with an involved backstory. The movie will take you on a journey. The game continues that journey without dumbing itself down for the console crowd. Yeah, the game can be a plain old shoot ’em up if you want it. Or it can be a bit of self-exploration if you let it.

Mr. Timms, rubber duckies and epiphany. You don’t straddle a giant plastic metaphorical symbol to chase down your deepest dreams and not come back a different man. A better man. I’m a better man for knowing Rango. And mostly for the simple reminder that life’s greatest achievements come from discovery and it’s greatest peace from the truth.

5 rounds for this next chapter of Rango. It’s not the most involved game ever made nor is it infinitely re-playable. It’s short, simple and straightforward and it wanders a bit in the third act. But I don’t fault it much. No, not much at all. Because what it does right it does exceedingly well. All the shocks and surprises aside, beyond the poop jokes and plot twists too, it speaks effortlessly to the child you were, the adult you are and that person you’re still becoming each and every day.

Life’s a grand and beautiful ride amigos. Open up to it and enjoy.

And as always, ride true. 

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