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Friday, April 29, 2005

Pedal Faster...

This funky looking new bike is designed to help 1st time riders. The back wheels start at an angle for extra balance, but straighten up at higher speeds, then go back to an angle when the rider slows down. No more need for training wheels, eh?

The Cookie Monsters

Coalition Forms To Protect Cookies - Yahoo! News

So, Ad and marketing companies are all up in arms over a consumer revolt against Internet tracking cookies. Yeah, that's a shame...anything, and I mean, ANYTHING, that would trim down the constantly growing onslaught of commercials, advertising, and popups that I don't want or need, would be a good thing. Hopefully more and more people will realize how they actually can control these settings and cookie placement and then we can really give these ad guys something to worry about...

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Good Stuff…

Two bits of kick-ass news today –

First off, have you seen the Serenity trailer at yet? Fantastic…I was really looking forward to this as it was, but now having seen the trailer this rockets up my list of faves for the year. Looks to rate as good as Sin City, but in a totally different way. Based on the trailers, it even blows past Batman Begins on my list…

Second bit of news is some talk about the Sin City DVD. Apparently, the rumors were right and they did shoot the entire stories, but trimmed them down to fit a theatrical release. The story now about the DVD is that Robert Rodriguez wants to put out a 2 disc set with the theatrical release on one disc and the separate full stories on the other disc. Each would run roughly 45 minutes. He also wants to put in some pretty cool behind the scenes extras.

The cool thing about this is that maybe I’ll get to see those two favorite pages of mine of Marv’s story from the book. :-) Here’s an excerpt from the article at Home Media:

“We shot the full stories of the books,” Rodriguez said. “You can just watch ‘The Big Fat Kill’ from beginning to end — the full cut. Then switch over and watch ‘The Yellow Bastard,’ and that’s 45 minutes. It’ll have all the material back in, so it’ll be like the experience of picking up the book, where you pick up one story and you read it from beginning to end. You can shuffle your own version of the movie and just watch them all separately.”

Rodriguez teased some of the deleted scenes that could be restored into the short story versions of the film.

“Mickey Rourke doesn’t go visit his mom [in the theatrical film], like he did in the book, and get his gun and things like that, but we shot all that,” he said. “It’s all great stuff. It just wasn’t necessary for the feature.”

Can’t wait for the DVD. Here’s hoping all this stuff will be on the first release, and not held back for the usual money-soaking ritual of the Super-Duper-Extended-Unrated-Directors-Ultimate-Platinum Edition…

Sunday, April 24, 2005

Snow in April...

Woke up this morning to snow in April. Cool. I like snow. There’s always one more snowfall in April after everyone thinks spring is here to stay. Anyway, I like it and may as well enjoy it before having to go through the miserable heat of summer coming soon…

So, what else is new today? Some good stuff, actually…

First up, news out that the Serenity movie trailer will debut at on Tuesday…to which I say…Alright!!! Can’t wait…go check it out, people…

Spent Sunday morning reading through the website…always a good place to catch the latest comic book news and get a few laughs from the ardent fan responses. Nothing quite as dedicated as a comic book fan :) People are getting a bit too up in arms over X-3 so soon without really knowing what the story will be about, but from what I’ve read of Vaughn’s approach, it could be pretty good. Though X-2 was a pretty good movie, it wasn’t as good as X-1 as they seemed to try to shoehorn too much in. Vaughn seems to want to do something epic with X-3 and keep the ‘heart’ in it…

On another note – seen the picture of the actor in costume for the upcoming Superman movie? The actor has the right look – should be a good Clark Kent providing he can act, but what is up with that ‘new’ costume?! Supes has always been in blue with a red cape…I mean, that’s just Superman. Everyone knows that. Now it’s going to be a maroon leather cape? I don’t know…maybe it’ll look different on screen, but my first reaction on seeing the pic was not a good one ;-)

Oh, and check this out – the Kitchener Rangers won their playoff game against the London Knights on Saturday night to tie the series at 1. Alright, go Rangers! London is a stacked team, and no one is expected to stop them, but at least the Rangers are putting up a fight…literally. It doesn’t hurt either that the Rangers goalie is standing on his head back there…


Saturday, April 23, 2005

Random Thoughts...

…So, the Wendy’s chili woman has now been arrested. Something about grand larceny involving bilking a woman of her life savings in selling a trailer as well as money lost in connection to her Wendy’s allegations. Bet she wishes that had been beef she chewed on. Who really knows what happened, tho it’s looking quite like a con game at the moment. However, here’s hoping this isn’t a case of a mega-money corporation steam rolling someone who had a legitimate complaint. If it was a con game, she should be busted, but if it isn’t…..ewww…..

….Well, not a great week, but did do something good for me – went and saw Sin City again the other night. Figured what the hell…got out of work just before the start time and my previous plans for the night had fallen through, so I went and had a good time. This sets a new record for times I’ve seen a movie in the theatre. X-1 and HD&MM have some new competition at the top of my top 5 movies list. Next up for me at the theatre is wanting to see The Interpreter and then next week is the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy! Can’t wait for that one…watched a clip of it at Yahoo and it is hilarious…have a feeling Zaphod Beeblebrox will be one of my new favorite movie characters ;-)

…Oh, and even tho I can’t eat them very often any more, Tim Horton’s Maple Dip donuts rule…


Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Round 2

Think I’ll post response to the Orignial LRU’s comments regarding the last post here instead of the comments section…

First of all, it was a bad day and I was ranting in no particular direction :-) Hell, its my blog…
Still, I stand by what I said…

I guess the question I was posing was what I said in the post – Who’s going to take a stand? (Invading Iraq for oil doesn’t count.). I think it needs to start individually, but most are too afraid or too handcuffed by a truly unjust ‘justice’ system to do anything, hence the Burke quote. I don’t really have the time or inclination to read the verbose minutiae of the breakdown of the Burke wording, tho thanks for the URL (maybe I’ll actually read it someday). I was going more for the gist of it. It’s all very well and good to preach peace, and we should all practice it to the extent we can, but that should not mean we stand aside and do nothing while evil, in whatever form, comes rolling through. Somebody’s got to stand in there and fight against it, sometimes meeting force with force. If that doesn’t happen, what happens to those who cannot stand up for themselves or who can’t even get out of the way? I believe even in the Bible, probably the Old Testament (and I’ll be the first to admit my Bible history is rusty), that there were those who stood in there and drew that line. This brings me to the Vis Pacem, Para bellum quote. I didn’t see the ‘every man is your enemy’ take on it. What I like about it, and take to mean personally, is that one needs to think about and physically prepare for war if you want to live to be able to see yourself live peacefully. I mean, would anyone in their right mind have attacked Bruce Lee? Of course not. They knew he was prepared for war. Not all of us are capable of that of course, but to not even think about the situations and ramifications is not wise either. How many people have seriously sat down and thought about what they would do in a situation where to protect themselves or someone else, they would be required to shoot someone and make that choice in a fraction of a second and live with the consequences? Being physically able to make a stand and win in a situation is a crapshoot – too many variables. However, we can be mentally ready and know what we are willing to do and sometimes, that may make all the difference…

Again, it comes back to Who’s going to take a stand? We can’t fix everything or change countries on the other side of the world, but we can all protect our own backyards. That includes your own neighborhood. Watching the music video for Montgomery Gentry’s ‘You Do Your Thing’, got me thinking. In it, a father is driving home, two kids in the back of an SUV, and sees on the sidewalk a drug dealer selling drugs to another kid. He stops the truck, gets out with a baseball bat and runs the dealer off. Wise? Probably not. I mean nowadays, that’s a good way to get killed. But what if that kind of incident was just starting in a neighborhood? By the time you called the cops, good luck having the punk still around to send a message to. Good people taking a risk to take a stand is what is needed. What gets my goat is that the governments and lawyers have made it so that citizens are handcuffed to stand up to that. All they are supposed to do is call the cops and run back inside and shut the door. Well, I think its pretty obvious by now that that doesn’t really work. The resources aren’t there. But what if a neighborhood stood together, fought back, and didn’t allow things like that to take root? Whatever…food for thought I guess…

In regards to the Steve Earle song – it’s always been one of my favorites, and always will be. I appreciate the points made about it tho, and the Jude reference is a good one. Obviously, the wording of the song is a little over the top, but I think most lucid people would realize that in a literal one on one with the devil you’re going to be toast without God actually winning the fight for you. What I take from the song, and again, it’s a personal thing, is that the fight is still fought. He doesn’t say he’s going to win (ie ‘Man, let’s just get to it’). He doesn’t say it’s even right or the right approach (ie ‘But he’ll take the blame’). What he is doing is – at a dark personal time (consider the writing source and what he went through) – using whatever he’s got to face down evil (or personal demons) at the root – to keep fighting, win or lose, ‘cause someone’s gotta do it’…

Music has always been a conduit for what I’m thinking about, feeling at the time, or going through in life, and has gotten me through some rough spots…hence the fondness for posting lyrics :-) Thing about most well written songs, is that everyone can take something different from it

Anyway, the important thing is that it’s all food for thought – hopefully get people thinking. Hats off to the Original LRU for some finely thought out comments and for the written repartee.
Later – Eaglewing.

PS – see what happens when I think out loud? From now on I’m keeping my opinions and music preferences to myself…………Just kidding – It’s my blog, and I’ll blog if I want to ;-)

Monday, April 18, 2005

Ranting In No Particular Order...

What is it with people? They really get on my nerves. Everywhere you go, it’s a game. In the end, it’s all about the money. Just BS, playing the game, cuttin’ it everywhere, just so it’s not their responsibility. Playing dumb if that’s what it takes…….get someone else to do it, and pay for it. Whatever happened to taking charge, taking the blame if that’s what happens, taking responsibility for what is done and what needs to be done? Is it so hard to walk tall? Stop playing games, trying to get something for nothing, sticking your nose where it don’t belong, and pointing fingers. Enough with the bullshit.

Dirty little secrets
Dirty little lies
We got our dirty little fingers in everybody's pie
We love to cut you down to size
We love dirty laundry

We can do "The Innuendo"
We can dance and sing
When it's said and done we haven't told you a thing
We all know that Crap is King
Give us dirty laundry!

Kick 'em when they're up
Kick 'em when they're down
Kick 'em when they're stiff
Kick 'em all around
“Dirty Laundry” sung by Lisa Marie Presley / written by Don Henley


So, I’m watching a CBC news report Sunday about the problems the Jews are facing in France. Unbelievable stuff. If I’m getting this right, a growing Muslim/Arab community in France is making things very difficult for Jews who have enjoyed freedom there for years. Not all mind you, but an extreme faction that have even gone so far as to – get this – call the Jews there Nazis! WTF? That’s about as backwards as it gets. And now, not only are many Jews fearing for their safety and leaving for Israel, but more and more are heading for Quebec. Makes sense, if you’re moving from France. However, they feel forced to leave because of a perceived apathy on the part of the French government. They say the free speech laws keep them from kicking out or interfering with the extremists. However, its not just words going on here. Jews are being physically attacked and verbally assaulted while they just try to go about their business. The report featured a private Jewish school principal who spoke of the numerous times students were assaulted off school property or came to school late having to take a longer route because they were being followed or harassed. A girl spoke of being attacked while people walked on by. He has to tell the students not to wear their religious head gear off school property so they won’t be attacked. The students were understandably upset by this – one saying “Why do we have to hide?”. The principal told them “It is your duty to live.” It’s that serious.

This is scary stuff. Things like this happening now starts a slippery slope to something worse. Have people forgotten WWII? If we don’t learn from history, we are doomed to repeat it.

People should be able to believe in whoever, whatever, however they’d like. But when one ‘religion’ calls for killing another, it’s lost sight of something important. Besides, what’s the point? Everybody’s gonna die someday. Why rush it? How do people get that deluded? There’s enough room on this planet for people to do their own thing and keep their noses out of other people’s business. I always figured I wouldn’t worry about other people’s shit unless it interfered with mine. And when that happens, there is usually a reachable compromise available if people are willing to look for it. If that can’t happen, just stay the hell out of each other’s way. Why must some people force their views down other people’s throats? It seems to be getting worse too. Who knows where it will stop? Who’s going to stop it? If I saw someone being attacked for nothing like the girl was talking about before, I’d have to jump in there and try to help. Let loose and hope it’d be enough. How could one walk on by and look in the mirror that night?

Thing is, nobody wants to get involved. There is always a price to pay if you do. You might get killed, or you might even get sued for attacking the attacker. It’s messed up. Criminals are more protected than victims nowadays. Who’s going to take a stand?

“The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” –Edmund Burke


Now he's standin' at hell's door
With a bad attitude and a forty-four
The devil said, "What's up man
Now what you come here for?"
He said, "Man, let's just get to it"
He said, "I always heard that you were the bad one
There's a few places I ain't been, a few things I ain't done
You got your pitchfork and I got my gun"
Someone's gotta do it…

‘Cause he's totally untamed
No fear of the unnamed
But he'll take the blame
‘Cause someone's gotta do it…
“The Unrepentant” by Steve Earle

'Vis Pacem, Para bellum'

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Hot Wings

Yahoo! News - Chicken Wings Delivery Becomes Expensive
ENDWELL, N.Y. - A routine delivery of chicken wings got a little too hot to handle for a Binghamton-area restaurant.

A truck dropping off the week's supply of chicken wings at Jonathan's Restaurant in Endwell snared an electrical line. The power line then pulled down a 12-foot satellite dish off the restaurant roof, causing the dish to come crashing down on a natural gas line. Flames shot into the air when the gas ignited. Fire and utility crews got the situation under control after a short time, but the restaurant had to shut down for a few hours until repairs were made.

"I guess it was an expensive delivery," the restaurant owner told a radio station.

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Where Will It Stop?

This steady in your face commercialism is just sad…and really, really, annoying. Take for instance the latest rash of TV spots for prescription drugs. As I heard somebody talking about, this is totally reversed from how it used to be. It used to be the doctor would tell you what you needed to take for your symptoms after carefully diagnosing your problem. Now, people are going to their doctor saying I want this medication for whatever. And if the doctor won’t give it, they just find another one who will. And do you think the pharmaceutical companies care one iota about the people there pushing this towards? Of course not. They want to program people to want their drugs whether they really need them or not, and therefore make them money. Disgusting…

Then, I go to fill my tank with gas at Esso, and they’ve got these nice LCD TV screens ON THE PUMPS broadcasting – what else – commercials. Oh, they thrown in the occasional news or sports headline, but otherwise, I have to listen and watch more capitalism run amok trying to wring every last penny of spending power out of the masses. Ridiculous.

There’s no indication it’s going to stop either. Everywhere you look, somebody is trying to push something at you that they want you to buy just to make them money, not help you in any way. Enough already.

So there, end rant.

Sunday, April 10, 2005

Good Flick...

Just watched a hidden gem movie I picked up on DVD...Kill Me Later, a good dark comedy flick. Funny and a good story too. About a girl ready to jump off the roof of the bank she works at when a bank robbery goes awry and the thief works out a deal with her: she goes along with him taking her hostage to get out of there in exchange for him promising to kill her later. The story unfolds from there...good movie...

Friday, April 08, 2005

You Gotta Be Kidding Me...

Yahoo! News - Woman Claiming Finger in Chili Sues Often

So the police are now investigating the woman who chewed the Wendy's chili finger. Did she plant it herself to have something to sue over? Reportedly, its a hobby for her. (suing, not finger chewing) They even executed a search warrant at her home. Looking for what is anybody's guess. Still, I hope they get to bottom of this and investigate all sides. I like what one of the investigating officers had to say:

"The simple fact of the matter is that the finger came from somebody. Where's that person at?" said Sgt. Nick Muyo, a spokesman for the San Jose Police Department.

Indeed, where is that person at? There is even a fifty grand reward for info leading to the finger origin....

Who knows, maybe this whole thing will have more people making their own lunch instead of going to a fast food joint. We'll have to resort to different eating habits after the fast food industry gave us all the finger...

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Tales of the Stranger, Ep 2

Back by popular demand! ...Well, ok, not really. Of the very, very few people who read this blog, one person wanted more after the "Magic Marker on the Mailbox" story (in January 05 Archive). That was supposed to be a one-shot, but after the request I got to thinking of some ideas for a story arc for the now-dubbed "Stranger" character, so maybe I'll write a few more...we'll see. Again, not really what I normally right, but it seems to fit here. Anyway, enjoy, I suppose...

"Long Way Around" By Eaglewing

The snow was falling slowly in big white flakes, the wind was blowing somewhere else, and the night was quiet.

Anna stared out the window of Nel's Diner at the only stop light of this one horse town. Her shift waiting tables was over, but then technically it had been over for hours as there had been no one in here since the earlier dinner "rush". Well, just the usual visit of the diner's few remaining regulars. At least there was no risk of a corporate McDonald's being plunked down way out here and running the diner out of business. The interstate that was put through some ten miles over would see to that.

"Hey Anna, you still waiting?" called Fred, the cook and owner, from the back.

"Yeah, he isn't here yet. Go on, I'll lock up."

"Alright. You sure you wanna wait? I can give you a lift home if ya want..."

"No, that's alright. He'll be here soon. Thanks though - and give Nel my best. Hope she gets better soon."

"Ok, I will. You take care now...goodnight."

With that, Fred headed out into the snow. Anna watched as he cranked up his old Buick, and slowly pulled out of the lot onto the road, heading home to his wife Nel. They had started the diner years ago, and had both seen better times. After Nel's health had started giving her problems, Anna was hired on to help. She never thought she'd wind up working at a one-stop in a nowhere town, but oddly enough, she was more or less happy with it. It sure beat the 9-9 corporate world she had tried and hated before. Then somewhere along the way, she had met a handsome truck driver who called this town his 'home' and one thing led to another to another to another until she was now waiting for him to come and pick her up. Life could be crazy, but she was enjoying the ride.

She left her perch at the window and started shutting things down. Wiping up the counter and locking up the register. She counted the cash and shook her head at the small sum. How Fred and Nel kept the place running was beyond her. She locked up the register and went into the back to make sure everything was turned off. Anna heard the front door chime and let out a sigh that he was finally here. She came through the swinging doors from the kitchen with a smile on her face.

Her heart skipped a beat and she froze, the smile disappearing. She was a couple feet away from a rather tall man in a ski mask holding a gun. Neither of them seemed all too happy to see the other. He hesitated, but finally the man spoke.

"The money...give me the money! Now!" he barked, twitching the gun barrel in the direction of the register.

Anna found her voice, and said before she could stop herself, "You're kidding, right? There's, like, sixteen bucks in there!"

He didn't seem amused. "The money, NOW!" he barked again. "I'll shoot if I have to."

"Ok, ok, take it easy..." She opened the register and got out the few bills and coins. "Here, take it."

He grabbed the handful of money and shoved it in his pocket. The he pointed the gun at her again. "The safe, where's the safe?"

Anna looked around - this was getting weird. She knew of no safe and figured at the way business was going for Nel's Diner, Fred wouldn't have had anything to put in it even if there was one.

"What safe? There's no safe here." She shook her head confused.

"Don't play with me. I know he keeps it here. Now show me where it is or you'll regret it..." his voice attempted a growled threat, but didn't quite pull it off as she noticed he sounded young.

Still, she was getting scared now. She'd seen enough late night news reports to know she was on the verge of being one more statistic. Still, she had no idea what to say.

"Look, I'd show you if I knew what you were talking about. But I don't know of any safe, ok? I don't know!"

"You're lying! Show me the safe, or I'll use this thing! Where's the safe?!"

"I don't know!" she shrieked as he pushed the gun closer. She closed her eyes and sent up a quick prayer, knowing this could be it.

Then the door chime rang again.

Anna and the gunman both looked surprised at the disruption. A disruption in the form of a man covered in snow from his pulled-low cowboy hat to his worn boots. All three strangers looked at each other for a heart stopping moment. Then the new stranger spoke.

"Hey, its damn cold out there. Think I could get a cup of coffee?" He calmly moved forward towards the counter, stopping next to the shocked gunman. The stranger didn't get a timely response, so he muttered "hmm, kinda chilly in here too."

The gunman finally found his voice, turning the gun towards the stranger. "Who the hell are you?!"

"Frosty the Snowman...and who are you supposed to be?" the stranger glanced at the gun. "Smith or Wesson?"

"Hit the floor, you stupid motherf--"

"HEY!" the stranger cut him off. "Watch it. There's a lady present. And put that thing away before you hurt somebody. You know, guns don't kill people, --"

"Shut up! On the floor!"

"No thanks. I just hauled my frozen ass over the last ten miles in a snow storm. I come in here looking for a hot cup of coffee and find you. Now, I'm telling you for the last time, put that thing away. I'll buy you a coffee and slice of apple pie and we'll call it a night. What'dya say?"

"On the floor!", he cocked the gun as his finger began to twitch near the trigger.

Anna watched in shock as the stranger's left hand flew out, shoving the gunman's trigger hand straight up, while at the same time ramming his right elbow into the masked man's face. The gunman lost his grip and the gun clattered to the floor. The stranger held his grip on the gun hand and stepping in closer, he brought the gunman's arm down while shoving his right hand into the masked man's soler plexus and pivoted, throwing the gunman's weight. The result was the gunman going ass over teakettle to the floor. The stranger maintained his grip and rolled the would be thief onto his stomach before driving his knee into the prone man's back.

"Ok, that's better. Now calm down, would ya?"

The gunman tried to shake off the effects of the blow and muttered something uninteligible. He wasn't doing too well as his ski mask had been turned during the scuffle and he could no longer see. He finally just quit struggling and laid there gulping in air.

"You alright?" the stranger asked Anna.

"Yes, I think so..."

"Good." the stranger turned back to the man on the floor. "Ok, ski-boy, I'm going to lift you up and plant your ass on this stool by the counter. You're going to sit there and do nothing. Do we have an understanding? You've seen what I can do."

The ski mask moved up and down, so the stranger did as he said. Then he picked up the gun, and went to empty it. He looked up surprised.

"Um, did you know this gun wasn't loaded?"

Ski mask nodded again, then pulled off his disguise. A young blond haired teenager was revealed. "Yeah, I know, I wasn't going to hurt nobody."

"You could've fooled me!" Anna exclaimed, and let out a pent up sigh of relief.

"I'm sorry ma'am. I relly am. This wasn't supposed to happen."

"Well," started the stranger, "if Anna doesn't mind, maybe we could get that coffee and apple pie all around. Then you can tell me what was supposed to happen and I'll decide if I buy it."

Anna looked at the stranger, surprised again. She'd had enough surprises for one night.

"How do you know my name?!" she asked sharply.

The stranger raised an eyebrow. "It's on that tag on your uniform. Unless that's not your uniform?"

"No, it is...I am...I mean, um, I'll get the pie." She disappeared into the kitchen.

"Ok, skiboy, what's your name?"

"Adam. I guess I'm going to jail now, huh?"

"That all depends. Right now, it's just the three of us. You do something I don't like again, and it'll be us three plus the cops. Your choice."

"Well, that's easy. I don't think I'm cut out for a life of crime."

"You're telling me, kid." muttered the stranger as Anna came back with three coffees and three slices of apple pie. "Ok, I'm digging into this, and you can too, while you start at square one and tell me what's going on."

Anna wondered why they weren't calling the cops but decided to go along with things for now. She always was one to enjoy the ride. Still, she shot the stranger an odd look, but he missed it as he downed half the slice of pie in two bites and washed it down with a gulp of hot coffee.

"Damn, that's good," he muttered. "Go ahead kid, you've got a captive to speak."

"Well, she wasn't supposed to be here." Adam looked at Anna and shook his head. "You scared the hell out of me when you came out of the kitchen. I saw Fred leave and thought I'd have all night to find the safe. I figured you might know and tried that. It didn't seem to be going anywhere, so I was going to leave and then he walked in. Then things got out of control." He fished the money out of his pocket and handed it back to Anna. " Here, I didn't even want this."

"Thanks," she said quietly. "what did you want? What safe?"

"Well, I'd, um, heard through the grapevine that Fred kept a safe here. The story goes that he and Nel are really rich - basically continuing this show because she likes it here and he's got a fortune in diamonds. He sells them off little by little, I guess, as they need money. Nobody would ever think that he's got something worth stealing, looking at the way they live..."

The stranger shot Anna a look. "I take it this Fred and Nel own this joint?"

"Yes, they do. They're a retired couple that have been running this diner for a few years. Nel's health is failing lately, but even with that Fred's never said anything about money."

"Why would he?" countered the stranger. "It's probably their only source of money. He'd probably keep it quiet. Either way, if it's true, somebody out there knows and Adam here thought he'd cash in. You know, thats kinda low, stealing from what could be their only source of income."

"I know," muttered a dejected Adam. "But word was that he still has quite a stash. I wasn't going to take all of it, I swear, just one or two diamonds. Enough to get us by."

"Us? Who's Us?" asked Anna.

"My family and our farm. The bank's gonna foreclose at the end of the month. When I heard about the diamonds, I thought he wouldn't miss just one, and it'd get us out of a jam and give us enough time to turn it around. We can get by on the farm if the bank would just leave us alone."

All three were quiet for a few moments, processing their own thoughts. Finally, the stranger spoke.

"Well, it sounds like you thought the end justified the means. You know, even though I've done my share of dancing over the line in my time, I still know where to draw it. I can see why'd you do it, but there has to be a better way than stealing from a couple's nest egg in their sunset years. Can't you see that?"

"Yeah, I do, and I'm really sorry...and I'm sorry too, Anna, I shouldn't have put you through that. I just didn't know what else to do..."

"Its ok, Adam, I can let it go. But what are you going to do now?"

"I don't know...but hey, I'm truly open to suggestions," said Adam.

"Well, you could have just asked." a low voice rumbled from the direction of the kitchen.

Anna and Adam jumped in surprise as Fred stepped out of the shadows of the back room, fixing a hard gaze on Adam. The stranger, however, just grinned wryly, shook his head, and quickly snagged the last bite of apple pie off Anna's plate.

"Fred!" exclaimed Anna. "You're back? How long have you -"

"Long enough. I forgot something, so I came in the back. Heard enough too." Fred looked at Adam, hard. Then his expression softened. "Are you Jack's boy? Farm over on the fifth?"

"Yes sir," gulped a scared Adam, who was starting to show his age. "Look, I'm sorry for all of this, I really am. Please don't call my folks."

Fred ignored the plea, and turned to the stranger. "What's your angle?"

"No angle. I walked ten miles in a snow storm and came in here looking for something hot to drink. Found these shenanigans going on, put a stop to it. Oh, and I stumbled on some really good pie, too."

"Thanks, made it myself." Fred looked back at Adam. "Now, boy, I know what you're saying about your farm is true. Was talking to Jack just this morning. Was thinking of doing something about it anyway...Jack and I go way back, but it'll be a cold day on the sun when he accepts charity from me. So here's what I'm going to do. See, the rumor is true, but the diamonds ain't here. Nor is there any safe here either. You think I'm that stupid? So here's how its going to be. This diner ain't paying its own weight, but my Nel loves it. So, the diamonds are my ace in the hole, and its buying my Nel the best care money can buy. However, I'm going to give you one diamond if you make me a promise. You're young, so you keep your eyes and ears open and someday, somewhere, somebody is going to be in a jam and you are going to be in a position to help them. You promise me this, when that day comes, you don't turn your back. You bend over backwards to help them. Promise?"

Adam was silent for a minute. Then he looked Fred square in they eye, "Yes sir. I promise. Thank you, I won't forget this."

Fred saw what he needed to see in the young man's eyes and nodded. "See that you don't. And none of you say anything about this to anyone, ya hear?" His tone of voice and look in his eye made all three nod quickly. "Good. Come on, son, let's go get that Bank off your ass." He quickly looked at Anna, "You going to be ok here till Eddie shows up?"

"Yeah," Anna nodded, then looked at the stranger. "It's been a weird night, but I think Frosty here is OK. I'll lock up."

"Alright, Goodnight then."

Fred and Adam left out the back, leaving Anna and the stranger to finish off the pot of coffee.

"Hey, wait a minute," said Anna, smiling. "I had another bite left on my plate here."

The stranger smiled at her, "Yeah, well, I figured you work here. It'll be easier for you to get another bite of that than it will be for me. Who's Eddie?"

"My fiance. He long hauls for a local outfit. I was just waiting for him to come around when Adam happened." She was quiet for a minute, then, "Hey, I don't know anything about you, except that you're fast. What's your name? And why were you walking in this weather? Trying to get somewhere...or to someone?"

"Well, the second car in a very short time frame crapped out on me back that-a-way." He vaguely pointed behind him. "And I'll know the somewhere when I get to it."

She pretended to ignore the fact he had sidestepped her first question. She'd been around long enough to know what that meant. "So while you're out looking for 'somewhere', is there a someone waiting for you to come back around?"

The stranger looked down and hesitated before answering, "Nah, just me and another road."

"Uh-huh," Anna retorted. "Right. I've been pushing plates behind counters to passers-through long enough to know that look in your eye. There's someone...your heart just hasn't convinced your brain yet. Give it time, but not too much. Trust me, whoever she is you just thought about would be very happy to see you again...even if you took the long way around."

Just then a rumbling tractor trailer pulled into the parking lot. Anna smiled as she looked out at the man climbing down from the rig. "That's Eddie. I gotta go, so Nel's is offically closing for now."

"Good enough." The stranger laid a few bills on the counter. "I'll walk you out."

Anna closed up shop, and the two left out the front door. She ran over to Eddie for a quick but meaningful embrance. "Have I got a story to tell you," she laughed. Then she turned to the stranger. "Can we give you a lift somewhere?"

"I'm headin' North," Eddie chimed in. He trusted Anna's judgements.

"I appreciate it, but nah, you two go on. I'll find my way."

"Ok, and thanks. Tonight could have gone a number of ways. I'm glad you happened to walk by. Good luck finding somewhere."

"Thanks, and good luck to the both of you, too."

The stranger watched Anna and Eddie climb into the big rig, then Eddie put it in gear and they rolled out of town, through the stoplight, and headed north.

The sun was coming up yet again as the stranger walked to the crossroads and the light turned back to red. He wasn't sure which way to head. Back the way he came was out. North would only take him further away. East was feeling cold. He looked left, to the West.

An old past, and lately something else, was calling to him.

He thought about a name on a mailbox. Maybe the diner waitress was right.


Long way around indeed.

He shook his head and looked up.

The light was green.

The End.

More of the Same...

Well, did the quarterly kidney check up thing the other day…the good news is that my blood reports came back all good…the bad news is that to get blood for said reporting, it was amateur hour in the blood taking department. Three pokes to get four measly vials of blood. Oh well, I can take it. It’s nowhere near as bad as dialysis needling on a bad arm night, and I’ve had plenty of those. The docs said to keep doing what I’m doing, so I guess I’m finally doing something right.

Did manage to see Sin City twice on the weekend. Once alone (see my review), and once with a Sin City newbie, who seemed to actually like most of it, but not all of it. I even liked it better the second time I watched it. It was certainly my most looked forward to movie of the year, ahead of Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy (which looks to be the laugh riot of the year), Batman Begins, and Serenity. I’ve also seen some trailers for The Interpreter, which looks like a good thriller, and The Island, which looks like a good sci-fi flick on the way. Still, I think Sin City beats them all, but that’s just the fan in me talking.

Elsewhere, there are rumors flying over the net that Brosnan may be back as Bond in the next film – a gritty remake of Casino Royale. Now, if the talked about rumor of having Tarantino direct it would turn out to be true, that would be a cool movie to see. Not very likely tho…

Well, back to reality here, I guess…gotta try to get through another work day while fighting off another flu that’s making my head feel like its in a vise. Nothing like going to a hospital to get sick…later

Saturday, April 02, 2005

Movie Night (aka Sin City Review)

Well, did something that I never do. Went and saw a movie on opening night. Waited in line for forty minutes, then another forty minutes before the movie finally started. (side note: I paid to watch a movie. Why the hell must I be forced to endure stupid commericals for products I will never buy and crappy movie trailers that I wouldn't watch for free before I get what I paid for? Why?!?) Anyway, the movie Sin city finally was worth it. :)

Before going further - SPOILERS AHEAD!!! If you don't want to know anything about it, stop reading now...

Ok - you still here? Ok, on with it...

This is a movie people will either get and like, or miss the point and hate. There won't be a lot of middle ground.

Visually, it was outstanding. Like watching the graphic novels, but with live action. Except for a couple of spots, I never really realized the movie I was watching was filmed on green screen. It all worked to take you into the world of Sin City. The use of spots of color for certain key points was great on the black and white backdrop. Rodriguez did a fantastic job of translating Millers original artwork to the screen. And since the artwork was such a major part of the graphic novel story experience, this element was key. If they hadn't been as faithful to the original, it would have really suffered.

So, they got the look right, how about the story? Well, I would say very good, just a hair below excellent. The only complaint I can really come up with is that certain parts of the books were left out for obvious time reasons. They took three of the books and one short story to meld together for the movie. In doing so, some of the character detail and nuances were lost. I think they would have been better off leaving the "Big Fat Kill" storyline out and fully doing the other stories, but that's just my opinion. After all, I've read the books. If you haven't read the books, you won't notice it. However, if you haven't read the books, you may be a little lost. I was filling in the blanks in my head because of my knowledge of the source material. Someone new to Sin City wouldn't have that luxury.

On with the good stuff: Marv's story, The Hard Goodbye was the best part of the movie. Mickey Rourke (remember him?) did a fantastic job of pulling off Marv and his quest to avenge Goldie's death. He tears up Sin City to find the truth, no matter what the cost. Rourke's voice overs of Marv's thoughts throughout was excellent. He just really nailed the part. The Hard Goodbye is my favorite Sin City book and story, so I'm glad it came out this good. My only complaint is that with the cuts made as I stated above, one of my favorite parts of Marv's story got cut out. It was just two pages in the book, but it really gave a better definition to Marv's character and let you know that he did indeed feel the fear for what he was facing, but that he dealt with it in his own way and wasn't going to stop. With any luck, it'll be on the DVD. :)

The rest of the story doesn't quite match the intensity of Marv's part, but its good just the same. The middle part with the Big Fat Kill is probably the weakest of the three, but got some of the best laughs. Clive Owen's voice overs as Dwight seem to be flat at the beginning but gets better. Del Toro as Jackie Boy steals the show with some great bits, and the in car scene that was directed by Tarantino was excellent. Apparently, Dwight's mental state is just a little bit wonky. A good fun part of the storyline, but lacks the heart of Marv's quest.

Bruce Willis as Hartigan wraps up the major three parts. We saw at the beginning of the film the first part of Hartigan's story, before it cut to Marv. It comes back to Hartigan at the end as he struggles to protect Nancy, fight the Yellow Bastard, and come to grips with the mutual feelings between him and Nancy. Bruce Willis does a good job here as the older cop who paid the price for going against the Roark family and power. He gets setup and winds up doing what he believes is right to fight back and protect Nancy yet again. This is also a love story, which has offended lots of people, and there certainly is a valid viewpoint for it. However, (and again, some of the internal workings of Hartigan were lost in the cuts from the original work) I think it works. Hartigan voices his feelings, but fights against acting on them. (as he says, "There's wrong, there's wrong, then there's this.") There's nothing legally wrong with the relationship, but society as a whole frowns on that kind of age difference. It'd be a personal thing, I suppose. In the story, it is love, on both sides. What kind is open for debate. Hartigan winds up losing everything just to keep her safe. His final choice is the only way he can see to do just that, and in that choice, he wins. Nancy is free from it all, Roark's bloodline is ended, and Hartigan ends the battle for good, but he does it on his terms, not someone elses. (My opinion - you can take the ending different ways)

The movie starts and ends with the Salesman, an assasin, played by Josh Hartnett. The beginning, gives you a hard and fast primer for what is coming and what it is like in Sin City. The end, I thought, was open for debate. After I kept thinking about it, it finally struck me that Becky is always shown with Blue Eyes in the movie. There is a short story in the books about a character that is trained by the Salesman to become an assasin, and she chooses to be called Blue Eyes. However, that character in the book is not Becky. However, since there were other changes from the books in the movie (Marv pulling the barred window out - in the book he crashes through the door after multiple attempts...Bob picking up Hartigan from jail - in the book, it was Mort...and in the book I thought Becky died in the alley ambush), perhaps this was a change to bring the movie full circle while also leaving it open ended. Until I hear different, I suppose you can take the ending with Becky and the Salesman one of two ways. Either he is there to kill her for ratting out the girls of Old Town, or she is going to become the deadly Blue Eyes. Discuss amongst yourselves...

Finally, there has been plenty of talk about the violence and what some view as misogyny. Yes, there is plenty of violence. But people, this place is called Sin City for a reason. It is a dark place to be. However, the violence is all over the top in comic book style, and with the exception of the Yellow Bastard, the blood flows white in the Black and White environments. There are some pretty graphic moments, however, so if you're really squeamish, this probably isn't for you. Put it this way - if you're grossed out by anything in Kill Bill, or even CSI, pass on this. If you don't mind really gritty film noir, or like anything by Tarantino, you'll love this. About the talked about misogyny - maybe, but I don't think so. The women in the film certainly take a few on the chin, but they also dish it out. The old town girls protect their own. You wouldn't want to cross any of them. I also read some complaints about it being about 'guy saves girl' too much. Possibly, but girls save the the guy too, in more ways than one. In Marv's case, the only good and purposeful thing he does in his life is all because of the kindness Goldie shows him. Without her, he wouldn't be fighting for redemption at all. He'd be continuing in the grey hell of booze and fights for no good reason. Listen to what Marv says (and read the book), and you realize that she is the only good thing that's ever happened to him and because of her, he is finally out of the hell that is his life and doing something for someone else - albeit in his own unique and violent way. In another case, Dwight has his ass saved a couple times by Miho and the others. Also, a main point of Sin City is that Nancy is the heart and soul of the stories and probably the only truly good person in there. She is also one of the strongest as is shown in Hartigans story. Pretty much everyone else in Sin City has ghosts to hide and are basically survivors doing bad things to bad people for good reasons.

Again it all comes down to a personal opinion. I remember reading The Hard Goodbye and being blown away by the art and the story. Seeing it in live action done this well was pretty cool. I just really wish they'd kept those two pages in the script. Otherwise, great movie. I'll be seeing it again.

Friday, April 01, 2005

More Lost Sleep...

So, just in case anyone missed it, tomorrow night, set your clocks ahead an hour. Well, to be specific, do it at 2am on April 3rd. Yeah, right. Just what I need - another lost hour of sleep. I don't know why they can't just leave it alone and keep the same time all year...but anyway, don't forget to do the clock thing or you won't be on time for anything. Oh, and if you happen to live in Indiana, US, all I can say is Good Luck...

The other night I was thinking of some of the best opening lyrics to songs. Here's three of my faves:

"Billy Austin" by Steve Earle.
"My name is Billy Austin, and I'm twenty nine years old,
I was born in Oklahoma, quarter Cherokee I'm told."
Comment: Two lines and you already have a clear picture of the person the song is about. As the song reveals the rest of the story, its easy to picture the character throughout. Great writing on Earles part.

"Whiskey Lullaby" sung by Brad Paisley / Alison Krauss, written by Bill Anderson / Joe Randall
"She put him out, like the burnin' end of a midnight cigarette,
She broke his heart, he spent his whole life trying to forget."
Comment: Just a very vivid description that indicates the darkness of the song and grabs your attention right off the bat.

"Baby's Gotten Good at Goodbye" sung by George Strait, written by Tony Martin
"What a rotten day this turned out to be,
I still can't believe she'd leave so easily."
Comment: Just a all time fave lyric. I've quoted "What a Rotten Day This Turned Out to Be" to myself often enough in my time. Easily pictures the character sitting on his front step, shaking his head in despair - What a rotten day...

Well, that's just off the top of my head. It's cool when an opening lyric grabs your attention and makes you want to listen to the rest of the song just from a beginning line...

Well, here comes the weekend. With any luck, I'm off to the movies for the first time in a long while...