Saturday, October 5, 2013

Runner Runner

Yes, despite its abysmal 8% critics rating (and terrible 37% audience rating) on Rotten Tomatoes, I went to see this movie. Why?

  1. Ben Affleck looked so great chewing the scenery in the trailer.
  2. Poker.
  3. Ben Affleck's scenery chewing.
Really, I wanted to see what kind of bad guy Affleck would be.

I'm sorry to report that Affleck's performance, though good when they let him go crazy, couldn't save the movie.  That's not to say that I didn't have a decent time watching it; I did.  I find enjoyment in almost every movie.  In the end, though, Runner Runner suffered from the same problem that has plagued so many recent films:  It couldn't decide what it wanted to be.

Much of the time, it tried to follow the classic line of a good guy (Richie, Justin Timberlake) who gets seduced by a bad guy (Ivan, Affleck) but who ultimately regains his moral footing and redeems himself.  You can't tell this story successfully, though, if the good guy starts out tainted in the same way that he ends up tainted; that character shows no growth.  Richie here worked for a corrupt brokerage, and the only sorrow he feels about that experience is that the job didn't last long enough to make him rich.

Some of the time, as in that opening and much of the trick-the-trickster ending, the movie tried to be a noir piece, with everyone morally corrupt and no real good guys.  Its tone, though, suggests it couldn't commit to that path, either--though it was closer to this path than the other.

Instead, the plot chugged along, Richie won, and he flew off in a private plane with a beautiful woman (the largely wasted Gemma Arterton) to continue cheating people, though this time without a bad boss.  The end.

As I said, I had a pleasant enough time, but this one was strictly empty calories.

Friday, October 4, 2013

I love this product

Okay, it's also a service, but I love it:  Paper by FiftyThree has partnered with Moleskine to let you create lovely, hand-bound custom Moleskine books.  Check out this video about Book, the product/service.

I know I could color in an ordinary notebook.  I know $40 is a lot to spend for the resulting small product.  I know I could buy a large blank Moleskine notebook for far less.

I don't care.  I still love this idea. 

Now, to find the right idea to go into my first one.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Remember those PT sabbatical charity work videos?

I hope so.  For those who don't, I wrote about PT's sabbatical program and the first video in this earlier post, which includes a video about Peter's charity work.  When the second video appeared, this one featuring Jennie's charity endeavors, I also wrote about it

Well, the third video is now online, and it  I admit to finding this more than a little awkward, but I've highlighted all the others, and I believe in supporting the charity (the Shepherd's Table Soup Kitchen), so I figured I should also plug this video in my blog.

I can barely stand to watch myself in video, so I'll have to hope your reaction is better.

Enjoy (I hope).

I particularly like that the good folks at the Shepherd's Table Soup Kitchen don't make you show ID or pass any test or do anything at all to get your meal.  If you show up for lunch, they feed you. 

I'm honored to have had the chance to work with them for a week.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Science fiction and fantasy authors stampede library!

Tuesday night, a herd of angry authors stampeded a local library and left only bricks and dust in their wake.

Well, okay, that's a tiny bit of an exaggeration.  Instead, in an event I mentioned last week, four of us sat behind a table on a small stage in a big room at the West Regional Library, talked about writing, and answered questions.

Practically the same thing.

Or not.

We were certainly a suspicious-looking bunch, a mob that seemed ready to turn surly at the smallest provocation. 

Click on an image to see a larger version.

As you can see here, going from left to right, Lisa is ready to throw down, Terry is carefully gauging the threat level of the audience, I'm (as usual) all smiles and unicorns, and Dave has zeroed in on the first person to go when the fighting commences.

Actually, we're all just listening to the next question, though my version of reality is way better.

I do have to wonder what was going through my mind when Gina took this photo.

That's not the smile I should ever flash a jury before answering, say, "What exactly are those bones we found under your house?"

I must note that we did not have to answer that question tonight.  Not that I would have trouble answering it.  Not that there are bones under my house, though it's always possible for a cheese-fry-stealing unicorn's corpse to be washed anywhere by the natural flow of groundwater.  I hope. 

To go back to the event, the audience actually outnumbered us by a rather significant margin, the conversations were pleasant, and it was great to get a chance to meet Terry Holt, a local writer I had not previously known.

I'm doing another of these next Tuesday, this time at the North Raleigh Library, so if you want to see that smile again, you might want to show up. 

Thanks to Gina for the photos.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Lucha Libro!

Check out this story on a Peruvian writing-contest-cum-spectator sport.  I would attend this, I would participate in it just to have done it--and to have an excuse to wear the mask.  I have no reason to believe that it's a good way to find a novelist who can write a compelling book, but it is a lovely promotional stunt and tickles me nonetheless..

I can't picture an American publisher going for this notion, of course, but perhaps something more brutal, say Death Race for Novelists?  Oh, yeah.

Thanks to Eric for tipping me off to Lucha Libro.

Monday, September 30, 2013

Machete Kills

Warning:  This is a red-band trailer. Don't play it if you don't want to watch truly gratuitous amounts of bloody violence.

Wow, do I want to see this movie, which opens on October 11.  Given how much fun its predecessor, Machete, was, how could I not?  If that alone wasn't enough to convince me, this trailer surely would.

If you're seeking serious social drama, avoid this film like the plague.  If, however, you want to laugh like hell as you watch absurd amounts of unreal violence, I'll see you at the theater the weekend of October 11.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Pig-picking 2013

Today, in keeping with another of our annual traditions, something approaching a hundred of us gathered at Dave's to celebrate his birthday with his annual pig-picking, an event he has been holding since before I met him.  We gather, chat, consume all sorts of foods that we bring, and chow down on the main attraction, a full pig.

Click on a photo to see a larger version.

Later, Kyle and I carved the pig and turned it into chunks and strings of pork on huge platters full of meat, but right after the pig arrived the only way to taste it was to cut a piece yourself, as Dave and Kyle are doing here. 

The bits we've already cut are parts of the tenderloin, the most amazingly delicious, moist meat you can get from this pig.

As the expression on Kyle's face suggests, he was a happy camper, as were the rest of us who had early tastes.  Damn, that meat was good.

Bill has, from time to time, mocked me for being "tradition boy," and in some ways he is right:  a great many traditions mark the passage of my years.  I'm okay with that, though, because the traditions are good things, grounding forces that connect me to this place, to these people, to this bit of land where I live. I love to travel, and I plan to do so frequently for the rest of my life, but I also love having a home, a place where I have those connections, those roots.  I don't see the two, travel and connection, as at all contradictory, so I embrace being both tradition boy and travel boy. 

I thank Dave and Jo for hosting this tradition, and I sincerely hope to get to enjoy it for many, many years to come.


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