Sunday, October 23, 2011


I'm the first to admit that I'm ruled by OCD (CDO with the letters in proper alphabetical order... as they should be) and ADD. Anything can set one or both of them off, and then, Lord help anyone caught in the way. Someone hell bent to get something done and done correctly should always be handled with kid gloves.

So, we're in the middle of packing and moving. This also means we have several things that need to be done at the new home before we move in. You know, painting and such. Well, in the process of all this, we began moving the old roll-top desk I got from my parents. I started working on it two years ago and never finished it. Wanting my new writing area at the house to be 'da bomb,' I decided it was time to 'git er done.'

Gluing the desk back together
First, I kidnapped my dad (Mom dug her heals in and wouldn't come) and brought him down to Taylorsville for a night. In the morning we went over and assessed the work on the desk. A subject matter expert is always a good thing to have and this ended up saving me a LOT of time and money. My dad was able to point out the right direction to take the restoration process. Not to mention, he was able to point out that I didn't have enough clamps. And the ones I did have weren't big enough for pulling together the sides of the desk during the gluing process. Fortunately, he had two five foot ones I could borrow.

After I got everything glued back together, we (I have two teenagers with nothing to do) began the long process of stripping the old varnish off the desk. Let me just say, the gluing part of the process was fun. With something like that, you're building something. But with stripping (i.e. removing paint or varnish) you're cleaning.

Eww... Chemicals and brown syrupy paste... Scrubbing out tiny nooks and crannies...

I know, I know. Beyond this valley of woe lies the promised land. But it's at this point that my OCD and ADD start to wain. Now I just want it done.

Soon to be as famous as Hemingway's desk
To get myself more hyped about the finished project, I began to think of what varnish I wanted to use. Light or dark? Clear maybe? And then I saw something that gave me an idea.

A wonderful, awful idea.

Seeing one of the drawer sections partially together, I wondered about two-toning it. Using both light and dark. Kind of a parquet look. The wife thinks I'm crazy and between the glue and stripping fumes I may be...

What do you think?

Friday, October 14, 2011

Real Steel and Chinatown

I'll admit it. I'm a sucker for redemption stories. And really, who isn't?

Having missed the summer blockbuster rush (Captain America, X-Men: First Class, Green Lantern, Transformers 3, Kung Fu Panda 2), I was excited for the late arrival of Real Steel. My wife and I finally managed to corner a few hours for a normal date night and snuck off to a late show. I chose Real Steel for the killer trailer/sci-fi elements. She chose it for Hugh Jackman (hey, I'm man enough to admit he's sexy).

[Click to watch the trailer on YouTube]
It's the story of a down and out boxer fighting a meaningless existence in the not so distant world of robot boxing. But it's not just his redemption that had me begging for more. There's also the story of his son, who just lost his mother and has no father. And Atom: a Gen Two sparring bot so worthless he doesn't even qualify as garbage. Throw in the romantic plot line of a woman who believes in a man that's lost his way and Real Steel had me cheering and crying. (Yeah. I cry in movies. But with the dark theater and my face in the popcorn bucket no one can see.)

I've been studying story structure recently and loved this one. The only reason I can see it garnered the PG-13 was maybe for robot violence, but the swears I caught were of the hell and damn variety, of which there was only one or two. Overall, I thought the acting was awesome, the animation/special effects were incredibly well done, and the story was very well written.

But emotionally, I was completely high coming out of that theater. I wanted more. I wanted to read the book. Buy the soundtrack. Get a figure of Atom for my desk. I'm going to be thinking about it for days. And isn't that what we like most about good stories? That we can chew on them for days and weeks at a time? Maybe it was just the IMAX experience, but I doubt it.

So if you have a chance, see Real Steel and let me know what you think.

[Click to watch the trailer on YouTube]
My other film recommendation is Chinatown starring Jack Nicholson. Its an older flick that came out in 1974. It's rated R for violence and brief nudity. It was discussed heavily in Robert McKee's book, Story: Substance, Structure, Style and the Principles of Screenwriting.

Chinatown is a well written detective story with a killer cast (Jack Nicholson and Faye Dunaway are amazingly young). While the story kept me guessing, I have to say the quality of the writing and the actor's abilities to pull it off were what made the movie. There is so much sub-text that goes unsaid that you really have to watch the actors body language and expressions to get all of it. It was so good that I had to watch it a couple times just to see the emotional reactions on their faces.

So if you want to see a good look at dialog and sub-text, give Chinatown a try.

Oh, and one more thing about Chinatown...

*** Spoiler Alert *** Spoiler Alert ***

I can't believe the bad guy gets away with it! It's one of those movies that completely leaves you stunned at the end because it just has such a rough ending.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

The Power of Myth

Last week I listened to the audiobook of the interviews Bill Boyers did with Joseph Campbell regarding his research into the world's myths. It was recommended to me because he talks about the hero's journey and how it relates to stories. I was also jazzed to learn about new myths from all over the world. After seeing the four and five-star reviews on Goodreads I settled back for a good listen.

Can I just say it sucked rocks. And by that I mean, it sucked. Like a flock of seagulls cruising over your newly washed car. Like skinheads in a gay pride parade. It was just that bad.

The first chapter was on the hero's journey and it was... okay. After that, it was an intellectual spiral into the toilet bowl where everything is the same.

I particularly had to restrain myself from chucking my iPod against a wall when he talked about a native tribe's ritual. Apparently, this tribe has several days of dancing after which, six boys entering 'manhood' shag a girl in a hut built just for this occasion. When the last boy is going for it, the elders remove the supports for the hut. Killing the couple. Then they dig them out, cook them... AND EAT THEM.

Somehow Joseph Campbell linked this as a perfect example of the sacrifice and sacrament of Jesus Christ.

And does he talk extensively about other various myths. NO! Except of course when he wanted to show how they are the same as any religion's myths.

In my opinion, Joseph Campbell has to do some serious contortions to get his logic to work. Unfortunately, Bill Moyer doesn't call him on any of it. His questions are more like a pupil sitting at the feet of the master.
Ultimately, The Power of Myth is simply a tirade against all religion because, according to Campbell, they're all myths. The Bible, for instance, isn't a literal account. It's all metaphor. He further went on to say that if all the world's religions would just accept that all religion is a metaphor, we could finally live in peace.

So, yeah, I think Joseph Campbell is a nutjob and I'm probably the first person to give The Power of Myth a one star on Goodreads.

Popular Posts