I did it. I finally sat down and watched Transformers 3.
And there isn’t a drug on this planet that will make me forget what I just saw.
Let me be perfectly honest. I detest Michael Bay movies. They’re vapid, shallow affairs that could only ever be truly appreciated by a 14 year-old boy who’d never seen a breast in real life and has an unhealthy fascination with fire. Also, it helps if said 14 year-old thinks fart jokes are funny.
That being said, this movie was a big step up from Transformers 2. That compliment, however, is a bit like saying that getting kicked in the happy sack by a steel-toed boot is better than getting kicked in the happy sack by an out-of-control 18-wheeler. You’re still getting kicked in the happy sack.
I’m not going to go into too much detail, mostly because I have Charcoal Streets to edit and I need to find a BIG drink. Suffice to say, at least Bay wasn’t jerking the camera around like the was jerking… you know what? Too easy. I’ll just say that at least I could see the action. I’m fair. Plus, the music was pretty good.
Everything else sucked a fat one.
It’s bad enough this movie somehow managed to get good actors. It’s worse when the movie makes blatant references to Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan and somehow thinks its subtle. It’s bad enough when every woman aside from Sam’s mom looks like a model and somehow manages to wear clothes one size too small. It’s bad enough when the human stories feel like they’re tacked on and the movie has five or six genres it tries to get off the ground, kind of how Bait 3D tried to cram five movies into one.
In short, the only way to watch this movie is to fast forward to the fights. That’s it. End of story.
Speaking of “end of story,” the film just ends with a devastated Chicago and the heroes standing around with a “huh” look on their faces. I’m sure I had the same look on mine.
Let’s wash that feeling away with a trailer for the new horror film Mama. Let’s hope it’s good.
Ladies, please stay. Guys, you can leave. Actually, guys, stay for this one. This is our fault. All of us. Yes, even the ones who are single right now. Actually, especially the ones who are single right now.
Is this what we’ve come to? It’s not bad enough that we’ve Photoshopped the hell out of perfectly good-looking women. It’s not enough that we’ve agreed on some perfect weight and figure everyone woman must achieve. It’s not enough that “young and blond and cocaine-chic” is standard for any actress who wants to break into Hollywood or stay there. You have to have the same facial structure and body type. The more plastic, the better, eventually.
What happened, people? Look at older actresses. They have their slight imperfections, every one of them. Jennifer Connelly, for example, has those big ol’ eyebrows that would make Robert Pattinson envious. Even someone like Marilyn Monroe, despite actually being quite thin yet well-rounded, is not a sexual icon because everything fit together perfectly or she had no imperfections. It was the way she carried herself.
It’s those little imperfections that make a woman beautiful. It’s everything. Mind, body, and heart. My fiancée is a beautiful. Everything about her is gorgeous. I love the little beauty mark above her lip. I love the way she looks just as she wakes up and smiles. It’s not just her looks, either. I love when she, as she puts it, “gets girly,” and giggles when she’s normally very sarcastic and blunt about things. I love hearing her laugh.
Ladies, young women, and girls, you’ve been done a disservice. You’ve been told you’re not young enough, thin enough, white enough, dark enough, any number of things. You’ve been told to get liposuction or get your stomach stapled. You’ve been told to dye your hair to match some unnatural hue. You’ve been broken and beaten and made to feel like crap. Now, someone took the time to show everyone what “beauty” is based on a series of polls and bad photomanipulation.
You’re beautiful. You don’t have to look like Kim Kardashian. In fact, even looking like Kim Kardashain can’t hide the sheer ugliness inside. If there is any ugliness in you, it’s personality-based. No matter how much you hate your hair, your stomach, your breasts, your legs, or anything else, a body that’s been splayed over every magazine cover on Earth won’t help you.
It’s been said every woman has her own special beauty. Don’t be ashamed of what you perceive to be your imperfections. They may be part of what makes you unique.
Guys, don’t forget to tell someone close to you she’s beautiful. Every day. Don’t let them forget. Ever.
And now, so we can all just feel a little better, here are some people getting hurt because of stupidity. Their own.
It’s been a LONG week. I’ve got sunburn over my entire face and I feel sick and tired like… well, it’s just been a rough, long week. To make up for it, I’m bringing you a LOT of links full of epic randomness, as well as some short films, AND I’ll be writing a flash fiction for Monday, AKA the holiest day of the year. See you Monday!
I think we can all agree that children’s drawings are creepy by themselves, but make them into stuffed toys in real life and they are totally cute. Yeah, I called these beasts of nightmare cute. You gonna argue?
The Divide is the classic tale of nuclear war and the people who survive in an underground bunker and must fight their own demons. And it’s got Michael Biehn. Sounds good to me!
I’ll admit I don’t play a lot of video games, but I’d be wierded out too if I saw any of these creepy game glitches.
And speaking of cheese and blood, an 18-year old filmmaker named Emily Hagins from Austin just got distribution for her vampire film, My Sucky Teen Romance. Looks interesting and is defiantly written with the genre in mind.
Apparently, they’re filming a new Resident Evil movie and two dozen or so extras were injured. I read this story and the only thing I got out of it was… Michelle Rodriguez is in it? Didn’t she die in the first one?!
I’m not going to give it away, but… okay, just watch this commercial and a) try to guess what it’s selling and b) try to guess the ending.
And finally, as promised, a short film by the creator or Trick ‘r Treat, as well as some creepy and really cool promos. Enjoy, and I’ll see you on Monday, Halloween 2011!
It’s Mexican Independence day! To me, this is a bittersweet holiday. Yes, it marks Mexico proclaiming itself a sovereign nation. On the other hand, the country is enslaved by the cartels. Right across the border, just a few miles from where I wright this, two people were tortured and publicly displayed for writing negative things about the Zetas. We have a long way to go, but I’d like to start by ending this stupid war on drugs.
And speaking of things that were probably influenced by drugs, let’s get some links out there and catch up with the week’s stories.
To all the new freshmen in college, please, for the love of Bob, don’t do this.
And speaking of bad decisions, could celebrities please stop taking naked pics of themselves with their phones? You, the thing that can be hacked? Unlike that camera that you need to physically get to retrieve said pictures? The reaction to Scarlet Johansson’s leaked nude pics has ranged from everything from an FBI investigation to the internet having a collective seizure. Because the internet, as you know, has been seen naked boobs and butt.
Nancy Upton entered a contest for American Apparel. She satirized what I can only describe as really unflattering images of women that look like they need a sandwich. Her pics were… well, they were unique. She’s confident, has a sense of humor about herself and the company, she looks wonderful and natural, and she won the contest by a large margin… and now American Apparel is saying they won’t go with her because she’s not targeting their demographic. Hypocrites, anyone?
Disney does not have the best record when it comes to acknowledging the audience’s intelligence. However, some of their older animators didn’t react too kindly to the higher-ups changing the name of a movie to make it more descriptive since audiences “might not get it.” The result is pure sarcasm and gold.
And finally, Nice Peter came out with another Epic Rap Battle. Mister Rogers all the way! Represent! And I’ll see you all on Monday!
Well, it looks like we’re back on schedule… more or less. Expect regular postings of Divine by Zero and weekly updates to The Weekly Muse. Don’t forget: this is YOUR chance to stump the writer. Give me the three strangest plot elements you can think of on the list and I’ll try to put them together into a story. If you’re writer, photographer, or an artist of any sort, I challenge you to take the trip with me. It’s a great way to get the creative juices going.
Chris Farley was always one of those SNL comedians I both loved and hated. When he was good, he could do physical comedy like no one else. When he just wouldn’t stop, he became like that obnoxious guy at every party that tries to get attention by just being obnoxious. Still, his passing was a loss to comedy, and his personal problems leading to his death are a tragic story. Looking back, this amazing photograph of Chris Farley is even more sad.
And speaking of things that are fun and bring us joy, every time a new harry Potter movie or book comes out, without fail, we get the psychos. Pat Robertson is already out in full force, but this gentleman takes the cake. Yeah, he’s a comedian, but the scary thing is that I’ve heard people who talk like him.
The Amazing Spider-Man is coming out next year, and we’ve already been treated to a blurry teaser filmed in a movie studio. That doesn’t mean we can’t look back on the old cartoon and guess at the kinds of things we can expect from a darker take on our favorite web-slinger.
Then we find out that she’s actually a composite, which really begs the question…
Japan, this group had sixty-plus members, all attractive young women who were willing to work and perform. Did you really need a completely virtual singer?
I’ll give the management credit. The fact that people were even debating whether Aimi was real or not speaks volumes to the level of detail put into her design. Furthermore, the stills, while looking Photoshopped, are nevertheless quite impressive. She sings, she takes photos, and she’ll never ask for a raise. She’s the perfect client for her creators.
Of course, this doesn’t answer the question of why anyone would even make her. It’s not like they have a shortage of starlets. In fact, Aimi is a composite of other members of the group. This could easily be a test of the new technology, a stunt to show everyone just how far the programming and hardware can go.
Me? I’m terrified. Management managed to pass off this construct as a real person for a respectable amount of time, and given a year or two, the technology might easily be good enough to do away with the tiny imperfections that tipped off some fans. Think about it. Any recording company with sufficient money will be able to make pop stars on demand.
It looks like Nine Inch Nails’ Year Zero is going to be a miniseries for HBO. I have fond memories of that album. I used to listen to it as I walked around the Capitol on my lunch break. The dissonance was amazing for clearing my head.
Evanescence is coming out with a new album. Without sounding too hipster, I remember hearing them before they got big. Their REALLY early stuff (the albums you can only find on eBay now) is really haunting and a lot more personal, but I’m looking forward to this new one.
And finally, seeing as how I ripped the Miss Universe contestants for not understanding basic scientific vocabulary, someone was kind enough to further show how dumb their arguments were by replacing one little word in some of the responses. Enjoy, and I’ll see you on Wednesday.
But yesterday was Cinco de Mayo, Mary’s last day of class, and I felt like cooking something.
I was going to make fish, but I figured I could make some pico de gallo, salchicha, and… I was stuck for a while. What dish could really capture Mexican pride and simulataniously satisfy a 12-hour work day full of class, work, and research papers?
When he cooked, the man COOKED. Years ago, he gave me the recipe for his carne asada, Mexican grilled meat, and I’ve tried to make it for a long time with little success in replicating his unique flavor. I mean, the meat was good, but it wasn’t the same. It was like a photocopy of a photocopy. It just didn’t feel right.
I think I got it.
When my grandparents cook, there is never such a thing as a recipe. They go more by instinct than anything else. They know the specific parts of the dish much like I would know the overall themes and ideas for a story or poem, but I could never really teach someone one perfect way of getting those ideas down on paper. In the same way, they don’t really measure their ingredients, but instead put them in as needed. It’s taken me years to get this close to the actual recipe. I have it written down, but it’s like trying to learn another language by reading it.
Any self-respecting Mexican knows how to cook. My uncle could make chimichurri from scratch or whip up a caldo de rez to make you forgo vegetables for a month. My grandmother makes delicious dishes with everything from bell peppers to chicken. She’s like Midas with food.
While he was alive, I tried to replicate my grandfather’s recipe. Now, with him gone and only my memories and a piece of paper to guide me, I’ll keep trying to reach that pinnacle of flavor he created so many times for us on special occasions. It’s like kendo training… I’ll just keep going for the rest of my life, getting ever closer to that elusive perfection.
And I’m okay with that.
Years ago, I wrote a poem for my grandfather and his skills. I figured it was appropriate today. Scroll afterwards for the links, and I hope none of you did anything regrettable on Cinco de Mayo.
Dried leaves and sticks,
Crushed color and aroma
From plants I could never pronounce.
Papi kept them in plastic bags and jars,
Autumn in a pantry, an old hechicero’s2 alchemy.
He summoned a nation with each dish:
August heat, like the Tamaulipan desert,
Unyielding, like El Grito de Dolores3,
Or cool and green, like a Cuernavacan4 spring,
Subtle as a pretty morena’s5 wink.
One bite and you thought you’d die
From the cinnamon burn in your blood
And la lengua cortada6 would make you mute.
A bowl of pozole7 was a hundred miles of fields
And boiled muscles under the Aztec sun.
The heat in our tingling veins sang
A slow mariachi ballad,
The living history of our family,
And the old hechicero sat and listened,
While fragrant Mexican autumn filled the room.
1“Ahl-kee-MIS-tah”: Spanish for “alchemist”
2“Eh-CHi-SE-roh”: a sorcerer
3Don Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla, a Catholic priest in Mexico, gave what is known as “The Yell of Dolores.” On the morning of September 16, 1810, he rang the church bells and called on the people of Mexico to rise up against the Spanish, calling out “Mexicans, long live Mexico! Long Live the Virgin [Mary] of Guadalupe! Long Live Fernando VII! Death to the evil government!”
4The city of Cuernavaca is known as “The City of Eternal Spring” for its mild weather and seasonal rainfalls.
5Morena(o) is a term for someone who is darker skinned, and most likely has native Mexican blood in their heritage.
6“LEN-gwa cohr-TA-da” literately means “cut tongue.” It is an expression used to symbolize the feeling of very spicy meals on the tongue. Even people accustomed to spicy dishes reach their limit when they proclaim they have a “cut tongue.”
7“Po-SOH-leh” is a traditional Mexican dish, similar to a stew, made with cacahuacintle corn, pork, and guajillo peppers. It is often topped with radishes, lettuce, onion, lemon juice, dried oregano, and powdered chili. It has a very strong aroma and taste.
See, he may have been thinking of doing something like the original Superman film with Christopher Kal-El Reeves, but the point is that he sold out without even realizing it. Chick flicks (and yes, I’ll call them that even though I won’t call a woman a “chick”) typically draw much more money than other films. This attraction was the basis for the wonderful commercial for The Expendables that ripped the phenomenon apart.
Is Singer right in that his movie sucked because it tried something different?
Yes. Yes he is. And I thank him for pointing out the atrocity he inflicted onto the Superman mythos.
The truth is that you can only do so much with a franchise before you make it so different as to be unrecognizable. Superman Returns had some destruction, some battles, but nothing really superpowered to fight old Supes. Yeah, you could do something with the philosophy and morality of BEING Superman, the responsibility inherent in being a god amongst men…
But that should be accentuated and pretty much delivered with shots of the Last Son of Krypton going toe to toe with something just as, if not more, powerful than him within a movie full of scenes of destruction that would give Ronald Emmerich a massive destructo-hard-on. Laser blasts searing enemies (robots so Clark won’t go into moral epilepsy), buildings getting tossed like rocks, and a battle royale in the skies to rival the… uhm, “epic” finale of The Matrix trilogy. Let me just let Mike Nelson and the boys say it better than I can.
You can do character stories for a comic book. Some of my favorite moments in the Hellboy films are just talking scenes. The best scenes in Nolan’s Batman films are the ones where we get a lot of tension from either the machinations of Ra’s al Ghul or the Joker. The banter with Alfred’s gold too.
Star Wars is about mythology and space battles. Dropping a bunch of political intrigue did nothing for the prequels other than make them jaw-droppingly awful. .
The Tremors series are always about hometown heroes doing what they with what they got… And they stick to that formula because it works. Think about this: they never get to the main monster attack until about halfway through the film.
Buffy the Vampire Slayer was a seven-year-long metaphor for life that used fantasy and horror to show us the world, and the new reboot is going to ditch all that and give us… something.
Know your source material. Know how far you can take it and, if you decide to do the Ninja Pirate Zombie Robot version of your world, at least make an effort.
And now, dear reader, to the links!
This must be the WORST anti-drug ad ever. It’s not so much that it looks ridiculous, but that it basically does something akin to warning kids to stay away from strangers because strangers can transport them to Narnia and keep them captive. Not going to happen. Also, it pretty much asserts that being gay is some sort of disease.
Do you want to be an artist? That can mean so many things. Maybe you want to sketch on the weekends. Maybe you want to make a living in graphic design. Some people dream of writing a best-selling, critically acclaimed novel…
Well, guess what?
Talent and connections mean crap if you want to be an artist. Do you want to create something the world’s never seen before? I don’t care if you use acrylic or a camera. Every artist, every one, needs five basic things.
If you’re serious about making it as an artist, be prepared to tighten your belt. A full-time job is nice and pays the bills, but if you’re willing to risk it all, be ready to take something less. Tutoring, classes at the local college, plasma donations, or anything at all that helps pay the bills and gives you the time to work is preferred to a 7 AM to 8 PM job. That kind of schedule is a killer on its own and you’re liable to burn out in just a month if you try to jam everything in.
Don’t be ashamed to taking a less time-consuming job, even if it means you make less. I can’t stress enough how much this is a FULL commitment and is probably an optional part of this list. If you have the drive to see it through until you finish that book or that series of paintings, this is the best thing you can do if you can manage it.
Plenty of writers and writing teachers (myself included) believe that you should be able to write or paint or draw no matter where you are. Don’t have your favorite camera? Use a disposable. Computer’s on the fritz? Pen and paper work just fine.
Well… that’s fine if you have no choice, but if you’re going to devote hours of your time per day to something, you need a space that’s your own.
It doesn’t even have to be a full room. It could be the kitchen table, but make the space personal. Listen to music. Have a few books with poems, artwork, or photographs handy if you need a little reference or inspiration. Make sure you’re comfortable.
Do anything and everything so the space is a place you wish to revisit over and over again. Take control.
Thing you’re going to eat at fancy restaurants or sip coffee with likeminded misanthropes in some trendy coffee bar? Think again, Sparky.
Creating art takes time. I’m talking real time. Hours a day, months or even years at a time. While you may go out once in a while, you’re not getting your meals from a restaurant on a daily basis unless you have the cash handy and saved up. Likewise, don’t count on instant meals. Those things have so much salt in them that you’ll shoot your system before you can finish your masterpiece.
Learn to make the best of pasta, vegetables, chicken, and fish. Of course, there are other foods you can use, but make sure you get enough to keep you going.
Orson Scott Card once wrote that every writer needs two critics: one who never lies and one who piles on nothing but praise.
Find someone who will shower you with praise. That someone could be a spouse, partner, child, whatever. Just find someone who will point out the great things about your work. The important thing, though, is to not pile on false praise. Find someone who will see the true good points in your work.
And the other critic? It should be someone who wants to kill you just to watch you die.
Seriously. Find someone who will find the most minute errors in your work, everything from a wayward piece of dust to a misplaced comma.
You want both because hearing the positive critic will make you receptive to the negative critic. You’ll find the mistakes in your work and not feel down because, well… you found the mistakes in your work.
There are two types of artists: those who cry at criticism and those who say they don’t cry at criticism.
Good work takes time. I won’t pretend I fully understand when a work is done. Frank Herbert once wrote that in the Dune universe, Arrakis taught the philosophy of the knife: you cut away until a work was complete.
Learn this basic trait. At some point, you’re no longer editing or honing your craft. You’re stalling.
Okay, I’m a carnivore and know that meet comes from animals that must be killed… but do you really need a bullet that could take down a battle tank?! Look, if you need a gun that shoots an anti-tank round and you use it to hunt ducks, you’re about as hung as a Ken doll.