Wednesday, February 27, 2008

RIP: William F. Buckley

One of the National Review writers said it best: words fail.

The father of modern American conservatism, William F. Buckley, Jr., died this morning at the age of 82. People of all political stripes came to respect his class, wit, and intellectual prowess. Others can give better accountings of his life and work. But I'll just say that he brought intellectual weight to the conservative movement mid-20th Century that made it a viable alternative to the status quo progressivism. His actions help legitimize the goals of the movement and drive out some of the kooks (ex. the John Birch Society).

I never met the man, but I feel that given the chance, I would've felt the same as a number of NR writers: I would be afraid of making a fool of myself in front of such an intellectual giant. I did, however, receive a letter from him congratulating me on an award I won several years back. From public figures, such as he was, you would expect a form letter signed by an auto-pen. This could've been the case, but knowing how National Review is run plus a couple things about the letter itself, I like to believe that it was actually from him.

The image of Buckley in my mind's eye will always be like the one below. A young(ish) Buckley leaning back in a chair with a big grin, probably after making a witty comment.

Buckley
He will be missed.

UPDATE: As could be expected, lots of people are finding this post because they're interested in WFB's funeral. According to K-Lo on The Corner yesterday, "The memorial service for William F. Buckley Jr. will be at 10 A.M. at Saint Patrick's Cathedral on April 4. It will be open to the public."

Sunday, February 24, 2008

The X-Files 2

Just saw the trailer and read the panel discussion on the X-Files sequel. Man, I'm getting excited. I didn't realize it was going to be in July!!!

50 Crime Writers to Read Before You Die

I came across this article from The Telegraph about the 50 crime writers you should read before you die. It seem a fairly good list with some of the classics (Hammett, Chandler, Poe, Christie, etc) and some more recent masters (Ellroy, Leonard, Robert Crais). There are even some pleasant surprises along the way. But, as with all lists of this type, there are some omissions. I know some people will scream that James Crumley was left off. My main issue is the omission of Ross Macdonald. I've only read a couple Macdonald novels (with a couple more on my TBR pile) and others could make more eloquent defenses of why he should be on the list, but any list of top crime writers should include Macdonald. He took the style created and refined by Hammett and Chandler and gave it the depth you only saw in "literary" novels up to that point.

On a personal note, I'm happy Crais and Mickey Spillane were included.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Lady in the Water

I finally saw M. Night Shyamalan's 2006 film Lady in the Water. I immensely enjoyed The Sixth Sense and Unbreakable. Signs was OK and I was able to predict two of the three twists in The Village well before they happened. Overall, I've enjoyed Shyamalan's work and am eagerly anticipating his next film due in June. Lady, from what I remember, got mostly negative reviews. Fan reaction was clearly down on it as well. The best advice I got before watching it was from a friend who said to treat it like a bedtime story or fairy tale.

I'm not sure if it was the story or the direction, but the movie seemed a bit plodding and lifeless. There wasn't much dramatic tension until the party scene at the very end. There was a lot more that could've been done, but overall I neither hated nor loved it.

Extra Note: Even though you only hear a few bars of a song, I was able to pick out that the band performing at the party is Philly area's own Silvertide. Check them out.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

...They Pull Me Back In

Dave had his post earlier this week about his return to comic books, so now it's my turn. As I was stuck at home for most of January, I decided to pick up some of the comics that I had stopped reading almost 10 years ago. The only comic I obsessively collected was X-Men - in all the various flavors. My first book back was X-Men #200...and what a way to kick it off. Excellent artwork by Humberto Ramos and Chris Bachalo, a kick-ass story by Mike Carey, and an amazing twist ending. It also starts setting things in motion for the Messiah CompleX storyline, which is what inspired this post.

The whole Messiah CompleX saga was a roller coaster ride from beginning to end. I don't remember anything on this grand a scale from my previous comic book reading. And with the ending (spoilers withheld), it makes me even more excited for Duane's Cable.

To tie back into Dave's point about long-term planning, the events of Messiah CompleX could never have taken place without 2005's House of M. I'm not sure if that was the plan all along or just a lucky byproduct, but it's made me go back and try to get some of the M issues to see exactly how we got here.

Oh, comic books, why did I ever leave you?

Monday, February 18, 2008

Format War: The Final Countdown

I've always thought that Blu-Ray had a leg up on HD-DVD in the format war mostly because of Sony's use of it for their Playstation 3 gaming system. Then, earlier this year a couple studios dropped HD-DVD support, Best Buy said they would feature Blu-Ray more prominently, and Blockbuster and Netflix said they would be dropping HD-DVDs from their catalogs. Now comes this news that Toshiba might be withdrawing the format. I'm not ready to declare a winner in the war yet, but it looks like it's time to start researching Blu-Ray players.

Friday, February 15, 2008

About Yesterday

I don't think my story yesterday was too shabby for a last-minute effort. It was about the third idea I had, but it was my favorite of the three. I didn't intend for it to be almost completely dialog, but I think it worked out fine this way.

In my haste to finish and post it before Valentine's Day was over I forgot to mention that it was in part inspired by the lyrics from a couple of Theory of a Deadman's songs. This is more evident in the beginning, which I still feel is a little choppy. Probably would've been fixed with another round or two of edits - I say probably because I still don't have that much confidence in my skill as an editor.

If I didn't come up with a story idea, I was thinking of just posting a link to my previous flash love story, Pasta Primadonna.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

A Day Late

I had no idea until I visited Gerald's blog today that Patti Abbott was having a blog event for Valentine's Day. Ever the latecomer, I wrote the following story while at work today. Let me know what you guys think.

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A Day Late
by, WellesFan

I sat in the coffee shop trying to read her note. Halfway through I had to stop. I’d never gotten a Dear John letter before. I said, “How could she do this to me?”

“I don’t know, man,” said Evan. “I remember when you two started going out. You were just like Lucy and Desi. Always talking about getting married one day and having a bunch of kids running around.”

“Why didn’t she believe me? Taking their words over mine? I’ve never been anything other than 100% truthful with her.”

“There’s nothing you could’ve done. She’s just a whore like every other woman. What you need now is a nice meaningless fling. Find yourself a girl who’s nothing to you other than a blouse full of goodies.”

“Maybe,” I said. “Maybe if I just accept half the consequences for what happened, she’ll accept my apology.”

“You don’t need her,” said Evan. “That relationship went south quickly. All this time you’ve been sleeping with the enemy. I’ve seen that look on your face. Instead of kissing her lips you want to staple them shut.”

“I’m going to call her.”

“Put the phone down.” He slapped the cell phone out of my hand. “Forget her. You and I are going to hit the town tonight.”

“I think I should call her. We can patch things up before it’s too late. I never realized how much I loved her until now.”

“You may love her,” said Evan, “but do you know how much she loves you? All those times you’re going over to her place. Hanging out even when she’s talking to her friends down the hall. She’s always talking about herself and her day. Does she ever ask about your day? Has she ever come over to your place?”

“At her place we can be alone. If she comes over to my place we have to…”

“Stop making excuses! She’s leading you around by your balls. She may have loved you at first, but now you’re just a nuisance to her.”

“Shut up,” I said. “You don’t know what you’re talking about. If you won’t let me call her, I’m going over to her place right now.”

“You won’t,” said Evan.

“I am.”

“You can’t.”

“Try and stop me.” I started to stand up.

“She’s dead, Chris.”

I felt the air rush out of the room. I felt like my heart had been ripped out of my chest. I felt a million different things.

“Wh-what? How? How do you know?”

Evan said, “Because I killed her.”

“You what?” I said. “You bastard. How could you kill the woman I love?”

“Keep your voice down. I killed her for you. I killed her for us. You and I have been through so much. We’ve known each other for so long. We’re almost brothers, man. Being with her changed you. And not for the better.”

“Maybe it’s not too late,” I said. “When did you kill her? Maybe she’s not dead. Maybe she just passed out or something.”

“No, she’s really most sincerely dead,” said Evan, with an evil grin on his face. “Since you had that last minute meeting last night, I went over to her place you tell her. See, that’s how good a friend I am. When I got there, she told me she was dumping you. She had already sent you that note, so I couldn’t talk her out of it. I had to protect you somehow. So I hit her. Again and again I hit her. Then, I wrapped my hands around her scrawny little neck and squeezed. You should have seen the look in her eyes at the end. It was like a candle had been snuffed out. And then she looked so peaceful.”

“You sick ---. I’m going to tell the cops.” I stood again.

“If I go down, you’re going with me.”

“Go to hell!”

“Sir, is everything all right?” A waitress had come over at the sound of our yelling.

I looked back at the table and Evan was gone. “Did you see where that man went?”

“What man?” she asked.

“That guy,” I said. “The guy I’ve been talking to for the last ten minutes.”

“Sir, there’s no one there. You came in alone. Is everything OK?”

“Oh, my God. I just killed my girlfriend.”

Thursday, February 7, 2008

In a Lonely Place (1950)

I mentioned this Nicholas Ray film a couple months ago while plugging the site Noir of the Week. I recently had the opportunity to see it, and I was not disappointed. Tight story, good direction, and an outstanding performance by Humphrey Bogart. Bogart stars as screenwriter Dixon Steele, a talented screenwriter whose last few pictures haven't done very well. At the beginning of the film, he's hired to adapt a bestselling novel into a screenplay. Rather than read the book, he has a hat-check girl tell him the story. The next day, the girl is found dead, and Steele is the main suspect. Steele's neighbor Laurel Grey, played by Gloria Grahame, provides him an alibi. A relationship blooms between the two of them, but the cloud of suspicion over Steele's possible involvement with the murder threatens to ruin it.

I bring the film up again because a stumbled upon a great post by Kim Morgan at Sunset Gun about it. It too me a while to track down a DVD copy (most of my local Blockbusters did not carry it), but it was worth the effort.

Highly Recommended.

Monday, February 4, 2008

Stop Me If You've Heard This One...

Okay, so this Polish guy walks into a brothel and finds his wife working as a call girl. According to the Reuters news agency, that actually happened recently, and Poland’s gag writers must be on strike too, because the shocked husband could come up with no better punch line than, “What are you doing here?” It is unclear whether the prurient Pole employed his wife in her professional capacity, but if so he is a true supply-sider, since every capitalist knows that paid employees work harder than volunteers. In a romantic comedy the couple would reconcile, but in real life, sad to say, they are divorcing. We leave it to Oprah and Dr. Phil to determine which is the aggrieved party.

Courtesy: National Review