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Showing posts from 2018

The Dragon Blade

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Watched this finally the other night on Hulu. As seems to be the case with recent attempts at foreign-made blockbuster-style films with international appeal, this was all kinds of awful.

I mean, just a stinker.

The script is terrible. The tone is all over the place. The editing is choppy -- making the narrative disjointed. I like John Cusak but he's terrible as a battle-weary Roman General, completely miscast. Brody is pretty good as the villain, a snarling Roman Consul. And Chan's action choreography is great. But, ugh, what a terrible film.



Favorite Slasher Films

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Between reading about the Friday the 13th lawsuit yesterday and checking the release date for the new Halloween, was thinking about slasher movies so--- 

10.) Sleepaway Camp
Probably most famous for it's twist ending and the fact that Bruce Springsteen's sister plays the killer in the two follow-up films. It's honestly kind of a weird film, but there's also a kind of an interesting subtext about how painful and awkward growing up is. 
9.) My Bloody Valentine
Worth mentioning for the setting and the avoidance of teen focus/characters. 
8.) Prom Night
The thing I like about Prom Night is it's a cross between Halloween and Carrie with a disco soundtrack.
7.) Black Christmas
There's two things I especially like about Black Christmas. Time is spent getting to know the characters so their deaths are more meaningful. And Bob Clark shoots the film in a very claustrophobic manner -- you always feel boxed in.
6.) Texas Chainsaw Massacre
At it's best Texas Chainsaw Massacre the…

10 Favorite Vampire Movies

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10.) Fright Night
Fright Night is a great little riff on Rear Window – sometimes spying on your neighbor means you see bad things. Though perhaps a better way to describe it is a mash-up of those De Palma style voyeur films and those teen movies where the losers go up against the popular kid. There’s a lot of fun here. Roddy McDowell has a great turn as the horror-host Peter Vincent. Chris Sarandon is a lot of fun as the vampire. I saw this film on broadcast TV for the first time and so immediately fell in love with it that I think I’m the only one who read the comic book series from NOW. 

9) Blood and Roses (Et Mourir de Plaisir)
Barbarella aside, Roger Vadim was a French filmmaker who was probably more successful at marrying beautiful women than he was at making successful movies. But I have a soft spot for Blood and Roses. It’s Vadim’s modern riff on Le Fanu’s Carmilla. The script is a little weak but the locations and Claude Renoir’s (yes, he’s related to that Renoir) stunning cinem…

Reflections on the Death of My Dog

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TRIGGER WARNING





I don’t know why I’m writing this now (it's been two or three years). Maybe, because I’ve been in this weird mental place, feeling like there’s something I need to make sense of, but don’t yet understand how to. Maybe, there’s something here that I need to exorcise on some subconscious level. Maybe, it’s simply the desire to help.

When Killer, our 14-year-old pug, first developed mast cell tumors, I thought I would be ready for the grim eventuality. I am not a stranger to death. My brother was killed in a car accident when I was in kindergarten. I lost all my grandparents before high school. My wife lost both her parents during our first two years of marriage. And my father died only a few months previous.

I’m also a Buddhist. You know, like a lot of people, I think Westerns especially, wanting to confront death and wanting to die well when my time comes is part of what drew me to my religion. Right? So I had both experienced death and thought about dying.

A lot. 

I th…

Kavanaugh

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TRIGGER WARNING

I thought I’d avoid commenting on the whole Kavanaugh thing … then a person I had forgotten I was friends with because we never speak popped up on my Facebook feed saying some really dumb shit, so here goes…

(Seriously, however you may feel about politics, Me Too, or 'toxic masculinity' if your first response to all this is 'men get assaulted too' or concern about his reputation, then fuck you, fuck you.) 

 When I worked in the Dean’s Office, I wrote the Resource Guide to University and Community Sexual Assault Services. The first half of the book was essentially a FAQ. I tried to think of every question I could think of: What is consent? What is a sexual assault? How can I help a friend who’s been assaulted? What happens if I call the police? What happens if I go to the hospital? And answer them clearly and directly, so victims could get answers and make good decisions.

The second half of this guide was exactly what it sounds like: a list of university and…

The Need to Challenge Power

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The Harvey Weinstein revelations shown a light on one of Hollywood’s dirty “open secrets” and kicked off a huge barrage of allegations against other stars. The ripples continued far beyond Hollywood to reveal a whole array of predators in business, politics, and in between.

The wary chalked the initial onslaught up to false allegations made by grudge holders and opportunists, even though allegations made through official channels are held to a very high standard making false allegations both exceedingly rare and very harshly punished, very harshly punished. But unless there is something seriously wrong with you, the sheer number of people affected is disturbing and upsetting.

In the aftermath, our conversation has been all about men and masculinity. And I get it. I do. What the #metoo movement has done well is show us how many women have been victimized in some form by men. If you spend any time at all on social media and have women in your friends list, especially women under a certain…

The Soviet Who Saved The World

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56 years ago on October 27, 1962, at the tail end of the Cuban Missile Crisis, Vasili Alexandrovich Arkhipov prevented nuclear war….

But let’s do a bit of lead-up first because when you understand how we got there, you understand how we got here…

World War I is the breaking point for the long-suffering Russian people. In February and November of 1917, a pair of revolutions removes the Tsar from power and leaves the Bolsheviks in charge of the country. Under Lenin, Russia signs the treaty of Brest-Litovsk to pull out of WWI and then works on setting up a federal government with the aim of reorganizing the empire into a social democracy.

This kicks off the Russian Civil War. On one side is the Red Army (the Bolsheviks), on the other is the White Army (mostly pro-monarchy, pro-capitalist, and supported by an Allied military force that includes troops and munitions from the UK, the US, China, France, and Italy). Caught between the two are the Green Armies (peasants who were tired of being ev…

The Great Beast and the Buddhist

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The man who taught Aleister Crowley magic was the same man who helped bring Buddhism to the west, yet you’ve probably never heard of Charles Henry Allan Bennett.

Allan Bennett was born in London in 1872. Bennett’s father was a civil engineer and passed away when he was still a child. His father’s death and Bennett’s severe asthma meant that Allan grew up both sickly and in severe poverty.

Despite his impoverished upbringing, Bennett was educated at Hollesley College and trained as an analytical chemist. Unfortunately, his poor health made it difficult for him to keep steady work.

Bennett was raised a Roman Catholic by his widowed mother, but rejected the faith at a young age. In 1890, when he was around 18 years old, Bennett experienced, what he would later describe as, shivadarshana, a yogic term for a deep trance state where the individual experiences the destruction of the universe and achieves union with the god Shiva. Shivadarshana is one of the stages of samadhi (meditative conscio…