April 12, 2014

My Violent Life: Holocaust of Moths

I didn’t cry at my grandfather’s funeral, and I didn’t cry when we packed up the farm house where we’d lived with my grandfather when I was eight. He’d left an odd assortment of items behind when he showed up unexpectedly at our house after a solitary ten hour drive, and he never went back for any of it. We boxed up decks of playing cards, an enormous amount of wine corkers, his suits, a closet full of wool coats, and the toys my brother and I had also left behind when we moved. It was a strange experience, actually, shuffling musical instruments, the large-canvas oil paintings of work boots and fenceposts my mother had painted as a college student, and a few pieces of furniture between the house where my grandfather had lived with us and the old house where my mother grew up.  I had missed the farm so much, and felt so out of place and alone in our new home in Colorado that for the first few days, I was just happy to be home. Even breathing in hay-fever, scrubbing hard water stains out of  the bathtub basin, and brushing holocausts of dead moths from windowsills into trashcans, I was home.

April 5, 2014

My Violent Life: We Were Okay, Everything Was Alright

It wasn’t that he was the first family member I’d lost that made my grandfather's death significant. By the time I turned fifteen, my grandmother, my uncle, two great aunts and a great uncle had all died. Nor was it true that watching my grandfather waste away from liver disease in the bedroom next to mine the last year he was alive was the closest I’d been to death, because at five years old, I had lived through the Persian Gulf War and I’d been evacuated by the U.S. marines during Operation Desert Storm. My grandfather’s death wasn’t even the first significant loss of my life, because I’d moved three times before I started middle school, once between countries, and twice between states, and every time I lost friends, my sense of place and whatever small understanding of culture I had.  When my mother’s father died, though, it was a unique trauma, because it was a very definite end to a part of my life, the happiest part.

March 29, 2014

My Violent Life

When I think of all the events that happened as a result of that particular afternoon I spent watching television alone in someone else’s house, I always think of the last scene in the movie Fight Club when Edward Norton’s character, having just failed to commit suicide by putting a gun in his mouth and pulling the trigger, looks at Helena Bonham Carter’s character and says “You met me at a very strange time in my life” as The Pixies"Where Is My Mind?" plays and the world presumably ends in the background. I’m not into that movie like a lot of people are into it, but I always loved that scene, and that line. If I had to describe the ten years following that fall afternoon in 2000, that’s what I would say: it was a very strange time in my life. And the scene at the end of Fight Club? That’s the way I would mean it.

March 24, 2014

Why 'The Last Crusade' Is My Favorite Indiana Jones Movie

I've heard people say that 'Raiders of the Lost Ark' is the best Indiana Jones movie. Some people even say it's a perfect movie, which I've never understood. I mean, you talk about perfect movies when you talk about 'Citizen Kane' or fucking 'Lawrence of Arabia' or...you know...something directed by Stanley Kubrick. What you don't talk about is fucking Indiana Jones, because calling 'Raiders of the Lost Ark' a perfect movie just misses the point of the Indiana Jones franchise (which, for the record consists of only 3 movies.) Indiana Jones is about having fun, and punching your way out of problems and wearing a neat hat. Trying to call an Indiana Jones flick a perfect movie is like referring to Star Wars as great philosophy: it's mostly just a funny joke.

So, to all the people who think 'Raiders of the Lost Ark' is a perfect movie, and the best of the Indiana Jones TRILOGY, all I can say is...whatever. You're welcome to your bullshit opinions.

All I can give you is a few reasons why The Last Crusade is, hands down, my favorite Indiana Jones movie.

March 16, 2014

Jar Brains VS. The Matrix

For anyone who watched The Meaning of Life episode of Stephen Hawking's Grand Design, there was a lot to get your head around. (Like for instance Stephen Hawking thinks philosophy is dead, and damn, that's some balls, right?) But I have to be honest with you (and I'm sure this is the kind of thing that makes Stephen Hawking hate people a little): the part that made the biggest impression on me was the Jar Brains, because I realized with some clarity why The Matrix turned out to be so fucking lame.

Yeah, I know what you're thinking. Nobody thought The Matrix was lame until they released the really horrifically pretentious sequels. And you're right. But, let's all just be honest with ourselves, the original was, in fact, pretty dumb. The sequels were worse, but the original wasn't as amazing as people gave it credit for either (or as original, actually. See Dark City, and tell me I'm wrong, seriously.)

So here's a list of why Stephen Hawking's Jar Brains are better than The Matrix (or, to state the painfully obvious, as I did when I watched the "Meaning of Life" episode, why Stephen Hawking is smarter than the writers of The Matrix):

January 13, 2014

Why I Hate "American Horror Story: Asylum": Horror by dumbshits

For a TV show with so much potential, 'American Horror Story' is, pretty consistently, an enormous disappointment. I can't tell if the people who write this stuff don't quite have the stomach for horror, or if they just get bored at the midpoint of every season. But this show never seems to pull things off like it should. The problem with the first season was that the writers all got too enamored with their ghost characters to the point that people dying had no real consequence, because everyone just ended up as a more interesting ghost version of themselves. It was a weird problem for a horror franchise to have, but it was at least understandable.

The second season of 'American Horror Story' suffers from a couple of much worse problems, and none of them are quite as benign as just liking ghosts too much. In the "Asylum" season, the plot missteps go from kind of weird, to all the way bad.

Firstly, it's not scary.