Thirty-Day Movie Challenge: Day Four

Thirty Day Movie Challenge:

Day Four: Favorite Drama

The Hospital (1971)
Directed by: Arthur Hiller
Starring: George C. Scott, Diana Rigg, Richard A. Dysart
By Gabriel Ricard

I didn’t set out to reference black comedies yesterday and then come back to them for day four. It just seemed to work out that way. I wrote at great lengths yesterday about my ability to laugh at a lot of different things. However there does seem to be a pretty large place in my cold, nicotine-battered Canadian heart for the dark comedies. People frequently comment that the things I find humorous are sometimes quite horrifying. I don’t debate that for a second. I’m aware that they are horrifying. It might be a cop-out to deal with how terrible the world can be by immediately looking for the humor, but I’ll take the cop-out over feeling helpless and angry.

You can indeed look at The Hospital as a very, very black comedy. You can also see it as one of the most depressing movies ever made. The consensus from critics at the time of its release and people who have seen it now puts it somewhere in the middle. Personally I think the movie is hilarious, but I’m also capable of doing MST3K-style commentary for Grave of the Fireflies or Requiem for a Dream. I’m probably not the best person to consult for what the world at large is going to find funny.

Still, people who have seen The Hospital seem to consider it a pretty brilliant mix of one vicious gallows punch line after another and callous observation. The film hit its forty-year mark in 2011, but I would say a lot of those punch lines and observations are as sharp now as they were in 1971. Paddy Chayefsky would win a score of writing awards for the script (including an Oscar). I didn’t know anything about the movie before seeing it, but I wasn’t surprised when I found out later. A forty-year-old script can’t help but suffer from being a little dated as the decades wear on. Great scripts can shrug that off and still suck you in. They can stand as good a chance of engaging somebody as they did the year they were filmed. I’m willing to show The Hospital to anyone to prove that point.

There’s a lot of reasons why I won’t go near doctors or hospitals. This movie is one of them.

The acting is a big part of that enduring quality, too. The Hospital is one of my favorite films simply for the amazing performances by George C. Scott and Diana Rigg. Scott had a pretty good career being a larger-than-life, terminally brooding presence kicked in the stomach by day-to-day life and just hanging on to his dignity and sanity by a thread as large as a few inches of floss. This is my by far my favorite version of a persona he played so consistently well (but he could play other characters, too). He takes hold of Chayefsky’s great script, chews every line to pieces and spits them back out with a ferocious, career-making bark. The “We cure nothing!” speech is quite possibly my favorite rant in a film of all time. George C. Scott plays a man at the brink of self-destruction amidst absolute chaos so well that I have to wonder just how much of it was really acting. He was clearly as intense a guy as you were ever going to meet in real life (and I’ve read things about him that seem to indicate this was true).

Diana Rigg makes Scott even better. There’s no doubt in my mind about that. Her character is largely amused by the weary doom and gloom of Scott’s exhausted Chief of Medicine to one of New York’s largest, most unwieldy hospitals. Rigg was (and still is—she’s not actually dead) the kind of actress who could chemistry with anybody she was paired up with. It worked on The Avengers, and it worked with actors like Vincent Price in the phenomenal Theater of Blood. Her amusement, affection and then love (maybe, you know? Her character is clearly not playing with a full deck, so it’s difficult to tell if she really loves the guy or not) for Scott’s Dr. Bock is like everything else in the movie. It comes out of nowhere and seems to exist by its own universal set of rules. The same thought applies to the murder spree that goes on as Scott struggles to survive his latest bout of suicidal despair before falling into his bizarre-yet-inexplicably charming relationship with Rigg (it probably doesn’t hurt that she’s incredibly sexy in this).

There’s a lot going on here beyond the clearly-defined anguish, love, sex, murder, bedlam and cruel cosmic humor. The hospital itself, and by extension everything else, is falling apart under the weight of constant, Kafkaesque (I don’t like that term, but it does work here) bureaucracy, indifference (Richard A. Dysart is brilliant as the unfeeling, sadistically greedy Dr. Welbeck) and deranged, counterproductive social upheaval. It’s a pretty frantic collection of scenes, characters, motivations and events for a hundred and three minutes, but it comes together quite well when taken from start to finish. It was a forerunner of the kind of pessimism that would later be the heart and soul of TV shows like House and E.R. You should be right at home with The Hospital if you consider yourself a fan of those shows. My favorite moments in either of those shows were the ones that could be savagely funny over the bleakest of circumstances. The Hospital is one of those moments after another. It has a well-earned reputation for being a severe ride.

In the next scene, George C. Scott literally eats this man’s soul.

This was one of the first movies I ever rented from Netflix some years ago. It was appropriately a completely random choice, and I’ve always been grateful that I gave it a shot.  The Hospital turned me into a fan of both Scott and Rigg, and I’ve enjoyed several performances of their ever since I checked this out. It only takes a few minutes a day on Facebook or an afternoon in a city to remind myself that the anarchy in The Hospital is not only pretty close to the kind of thing I see in real life, but it’s probably gotten even worse since 1971. It could be that I’m just being pessimistic myself. Then there’s the Dr. Bock character. You don’t need a sprawling back story to know that the mess he’s in has come about from a combination of his own design and whatever the hell that twisted cosmic humor is doing to him. A lot of people are victims of that combination. It can exhaust you into old age long before you actually get there in years, if you happen choose to take on more than your body and spirit can handle. At times I relate to the mood of this film (and of Scott) far more than I should probably admit.

Thirty-Day Movie Challenge: Day Three

Thirty Day Movie Challenge:

Day Three:  Favorite Comedy

Ghostbusters (1984)
Directed by: Ivan Reitman
Starring: Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, Harold Ramis, Ernie Hudson
By Gabriel Ricard

There was a long period in my life when I was pretty sure I loved horror above any other genre. I still love horror but find myself more and more cynical about it. Most of the movies I watch in that field these days are either classics I’ve been meaning to see or something I’ve seen and loved several times before. Maybe, it’s the whole business of getting older. Scaring me is not as easy as it was twenty or even ten years ago. People become jaded. The fix becomes more and more difficult to score. New horror films tend to be an incredibly tough sell with me. It’s rare for a recent release to jar me the way Jacob’s Ladder did when I was seven (that movie still kind of freaks me out) or The Exorcist did when I was sixteen (for some reason it had a much greater impact on me at that age than when I saw it at nine).

I’m making a point here. I promise. Horror is still a favorite, but I’ve come to realize that comedy is at the top of the genre heap. I’m cynical about laughter, too, but it still seems to come more easily to me than being scared by anything in a film. I guess my compromise with that is dark comedy, because it does seem like I dig an awful lot of those.

Dark comedies might be part of the reason why comedy wins out over horror or any other genre in the end. Horror is a very specific thing to me. There are types of horror films, but only a small number of those types have the potential to terrify the living hell out of me or simply be entertaining. Comedy has a lot more room than that to get my attention. I laugh at a lot of things. Sometimes being aware of that is the only thing that staves off a nervous breakdown.

I’ve had those before, and they’re not fun. You know how it is. You’re in Wal-Mart and suddenly see someone running naked through the dairy aisle screaming at the top of their lungs.

They weren’t always like that. Chances are, they just didn’t laugh enough.

I love countless types of comedy. That’s what’s so great about it to me. I can go in for the subtle, deeply subversive stuff as easily as I can laugh at the broadest of the broad comedies. Those are the films that supposedly appeal to the widest audience and/or the lowest common denominator. Whether or not I like something along those lines tends to rely on my mood and what I need in terms of a laugh. That leaves the door pretty wide open for something to entertain me. Or even reach for something more than that. I try to be open-minded.

My favorite comedy was an easy one to pick. Ghostbusters is the film I have seen more than any other (by a substantial margin), has consistently held up as a great movie for most of my life and even managed to get me kicked out of pre-school (seriously). Somewhere in my walk-in closet I could dig out the original VHS tape (complete with trailers to movies like Starman and The Karate Kid after the credits roll), but that didn’t stop my first DVD and Blu-ray purchases from being Ghostbusters. I wish I had taken better care of all the toys I had as a kid. I’m not big on collecting action figures and the like, but some of that stuff would be pretty neat to have right about now.

It’s a comfort movie at this point in my life, but I can still point out what I love about it. Everything about Ghostbusters is still a joy. That’s especially true with the performances. The story is great and well-told (it’s not lost on me that it has some strong elements of horror in it), but it’s really just a loose structure for the talent to have a ball with. This is the movie that introduced me to people I still like to this day. Bill Murray is likely my favorite actor of all time (occasionally I see a really good Al Pacino role, and a ridiculous argument starts up in my head). This was the first thing I ever saw him in, and it’s been one great turn after another. No one has been more enjoyable to watch through the years. The others have been hit and miss (especially Aykroyd), but they’re still responsible for some of my favorite roles and films of all time.

Forget about the awful Year Zero. Harold Ramis is still a great writer and director. I frequently find myself wishing Rick Moranis was still making movies. I also think Ernie Hudson is still a decidedly underrated character actor. The fact that he’s not listed on the front or back of the recent Blu-ray release strikes me as slightly criminal. William Atheron has become one of my favorite character actors, too. He plays a scumbag so sublimely that it’s almost a shame to find out he’s supposed to be a pretty nice guy. Annie Potts was the first actress I ever had a crush on. I’m not ashamed to admit that.  Avatar was one of the most disappointing movies I’ve ever seen in my life, but it was nice to see Sigourney Weaver prove she could still be so awesome twenty-five years later.

Everyone in Ghostbusters is significant. Even if they’re only around for a few moments to feed the main cast a great straight line or reaction (that poor, poor stupid bastard who didn’t know they were going to be giving him electric shocks).

Most of the special effects still hold up fairly well, too. The music is a mixed-bag. I still love a lot of the instrumentals, and anything annoying in the soundtrack is quickly trumped by the movie replying, “Yes, well, here’s that Ray Parker Jr. song that you like so much, so shut up.” The song blaring over the last few moments of the film makes me want to immediately watch it all over again. I’m pretty sure I’ve done just that.

Actually, my favorite musical moment in Ghostbusters is when they arrive at the apartment building for the big showdown. I think that’s the song I want playing, should I ever be called upon to save the world (let’s hope not—I’m lazy). It’s one flawless scene in many.

I’ve been to New York several times now, and I’ve never seen the famous firehouse. Supposedly it might be torn down soon. That’s a shame. It’s not an important landmark by any means (well, maybe to me), but I would be very disappointed if I never got around to seeing it. Ghostbusters put me on the path towards wanting to be a writer (I actually started out wanting to draw comic books, and then I had to unfortunately realize later on that I couldn’t draw worth a damn and never would), so that obviously places it pretty high on my list of things that are important to me.

I could be wrong, but Murray looks like he’s rocking one of the most sarcastic smiles of all time.

Whether or not I ever get to do something as frivolous as visiting the firehouse wouldn’t change that, but it would still be nice to see the building with my own eyes. I’d like to remind myself that it’s still possible to be profoundly moved by frivolous things and taken from that starting point into countless other directions. Ghostbusters is one of those broad comedies to be sure, but I wouldn’t trade it for anything that claims to be smarter, better-made or more ambitious. I love a lot of that stuff, too, but Ghostbusters is still funny to me twenty-three years later. Life doesn’t have a whole lot of consistency with the good things, so it can be important to hold onto books, movies, albums, paintings, TV shows, stand-up performances or anything else that brings out the best in your personality over and over again. Ghostbusters will always be a part of that list.

To this day, my secret (well, not anymore) fictional dream job remains to be a Ghostbuster. It just seems like a great gig. I have a feeling I’m not alone in thinking something as silly as that. Considering how many astonishing proton-pack replicas I’ve seen over the years.

Thirty-Day Movie Challenge: Day Two

Thirty Day Film Challenge:

Day Two: Your Least Favorite Film of All Time

2012 (2009)
Directed by: Roland Emmerich
Starring: John Cusack, Amanda Peet, Chiwetel Ejiofor
By Gabriel Ricard

I had to think about this one, too, and once again I went with the first movie to pop into my head. There’s a good cast in this movie, too. You could say that’s how they get me every single time. I’m pretty good about not being suckered in by a cast full of people I claim can make even the lowest form of film entertaining (Roger Ebert had a rule like that for Harry Dean Stanton and M. Emmett Walsh), but sometimes I still give something that looks inhumanly awful a chance in spite of certainly knowing better than to think it’s going to be anything but inhumanly awful.  I suppose that makes how sadistically wretched it is all the more unforgivable.

Part of my problem is that I have a great affection for bad movies. I guess it’s that MST3K upbringing. I’m completely willing to watch a horrible movie if I think I can at least be entertained by it. The cast can help with that a lot, but just anything that leaves a lot of room open to smartass observations and dumb jokes (I even do this when alone, and that’s always struck me as kind of pathetic and depressing) can work. There are too many movies in the world that I haven’t seen but want to. A lot of them are supposedly classics, so I prefer to focus on the films I actually want to see. That doesn’t leave a lot of room for the movies that tell me I’m in for a hellish experience right from the opening credits, but I still like to tune out and give in to something that can make me laugh by getting so much wrong that it’s a bit awe-inspiring to watch it unfold.

I want to say that’s how I saw 2012 on a stack of DVDs in the living room downstairs and decided that it could be a pretty harmless way to kill a couple of hours (it wound up feeling like four or five hours that did a much, much better job of killing me instead—And by “kill” I mean “Beat, rape, murder, post the video of said rape/murder on YouTube and create from the ashes of my ruin a brand-new meme”). I wanted to watch a movie, and I didn’t have anything else to consider. I should have been smart. What’s wrong with watching The Godfather or Nightmare on Elm St. Part 3 for the seven thousandth time? I could have enjoyed Dog Day Afternoon again, or I could have even run a marathon of Frasier or MillenniuM episodes.

I probably should have just spent the time reading, but I was fixated on watching something, and I was even more stupidly fixated on watching something I had never seen before. That’s how I came to 2012, and like an alcoholic who has six drinks when they know they can only handle four, I hung in there with that bastard film to the bitter end.

There’s a plot. I think there’s a plot. I can’t remember now. There were no drugs or alcohol ingested with the viewing of this movie. I smoked roughly seventeen packs of cigarettes, hated my obsessive trait of finishing any movie I start and hoped the whole time that some form of smoking-related cancer would finish me off before the end. There was certainly enough time for that to happen. It turns out the Mayans were right about 2012 all along. The world as we know comes to a spectacular finish through a series of natural disasters (I think Woody Harrelson had something to do with it—That damn hippie is always up to no good, it would seem) that are brought to us with some of the most uninspired action sequences and worst special effects I’ve ever seen in my life. This movie cost 200 million dollars? Are you fucking kidding me? I want to believe a lot of that went into the marketing (which was quite elaborate) and salaries. Movie budgets are honestly one of the aspects of the business that I’m not extremely knowledgeable about, so I have no idea where that 200 million went. It sure as hell didn’t go into the FX.

Because it’s Roland Emmerich it’s not enough to blow the planet up yet again. We also get a whole bunch of absolutely delightful, engaging and relentlessly endearing subplots and character motivations. We see that John Cusack wants to be a better father. We understand that Oliver Platt is a giant tool (although I found myself rooting for him more than anyone else) and that Danny Glover is certainly too old for this shit (I had to say it). Amanda Peet still loves her estranged husband (Cusack). George Segal has no idea what’s going on. Chiwetel Ejiofor is the only one who understands what’s going on and is really keen to do what he can to salvage the world. It goes on. There are other characters, other subplots and other human interest details that act as bridges between each disaster sequence. I remember these things only vaguely. The whole thing has blurred in my memory. All I can really remember is a cruise liner getting knocked over, Woody Harrelson playing a version of what I imagine he’s like in real life and an incredibly irritating morality argument between Ejiofor and Platt near the end of the film. Everything else is just disbelief that my life is such that I actually sat through the entire thing and could barely think of anything funny to say about it. Some movies are awful but have that great capacity for unintentional comedy. Other films are so viciously humorless that I can do nothing but sit there in mute horror and wait for it to be over. That’s what happened with 2012.

What floors me is that this movie grossed over 700 million dollars. That has to mean that at least one person on this planet saw that movie more than once. I’d be at a loss to comprehend that, and then I remember that most of that total comes from foreign markets. It begins to make sense after that. published an article on referencing the nature  of films like 2012 in the foreign markets. I don’t think Cracked needs the publicity, but hunt down and check out the piece at your leisure. It’s fascinating, endlessly depressing stuff.

Did I expect too much from 2012? I don’t think so. There are a lot of big, noisy, ridiculously stupid movies out there that did a great job of entertaining me. I won’t go into that list right now, but I hope you’ll believe me when I say I went into 2012 with the absolute minimum of expectations. I wanted a decent roller-coaster ride, and I wanted to laugh at terrible dialog and over-the-top acting. I didn’t get any of that. It doesn’t matter to me that I didn’t pay to see the movie. Roland Emmerich still owes me a handjob, a verbal apology, a video apology and a hand-written apology. I won’t enjoy any of those things, but at least I’ll feel like I got something for my time.

I can probably think of worse movies I’ve seen than this one, but dear Lord I don’t think my heart can take that kind of introspection. I’m bitter enough as it is without remembering movies like this that gave nothing and took time away from that could have been better spent improving myself somehow. This will do just fine in terms of a movie that is literally without a single decent quality from start to finish.

Thirty-Day Movie Challenge: Introduction and Day One

30 Day Movie Challenge: Introduction and Day One
By Gabriel Ricard

I don’t go in for a lot of the stuff on Facebook. I’ve never played Mob Wars, Empires and Allies, Farmville, Cooking Mama, Grave Digging Ragamuffins, Porn Legends of Gainesville, Florida (Okay, I might have made a couple of those up). I don’t re-post those obnoxious status updates challenging my courage and convictions. I’ve even managed to avoid clicking on those delightful “videos” that infect a person’s Facebook faster than they can cry about it on Twitter.

That last one is a shame though. I really would like to know what happened to that girl when her father caught her doing whatever it was that she was doing.

Don’t misunderstand me though. It’s not that I think I’m better than anyone for avoiding these things.  I post videos and articles like crazy, tried those apps that makes a collage of your status updates for the year or top friends and got entirely too much mileage out of those top-five lists that were popular for a little while. Facebook is a lot of things to a lot of people. How I waste my time on there is no better or worse than how others go about it.

One thing I’ve had a great deal of fun with is those thirty-day challenges. I’ve done one for movies and one for music. Right now I’m doing another for music, and I’m planning to do an extremely elaborate, supposedly endless one for movies. God knows why, but I enjoy thinking about the films and music that have managed to keep me inspired and moving along with my own writing, acting and whatever other nonsense I get mixed up with. I don’t think I remind myself of those inspirations nearly enough.

The movie challenge was particularly enjoyable. The original plan was to pick the movies and throw down a couple of sentences about why I chose it. It started out that way, but as I went on I realized I wanted to elaborate further than just a couple of sentences. By the end of the thirty days some of the entries clocked in at several hundred words.  They were a little verbose, but I enjoyed the experience immensely. Anyone who knows me will tell you I can ramble about movies for what feels like decades on end. I don’t get to write about them as much I’d like to. Most of the things I review these days are books. That’s fine. I just rarely have an excuse or opportunity to write about things that I already love.  The thought makes me miss the time I spent working for a horror movie site. The job frequently called for writing up reviews for films I had already seen. I had a great time with that, but the opportunities since then have been few and far between. That movie challenge was a fantastic excuse to change that.

Let’s change it even further with another excuse to ramble about those movies that color my dreams, keep me motivated to create my own things and all that other inspirational mumbo-jumbo.

I’ll be posting the entries from the Facebook Thirty Day Movie Challenge here. They won’t be exactly the same as they were on Facebook. I’ll be editing each one as I go, expanding on anything I want to expand on, clarifying something that might not make sense and just making them a little more sharply dressed in general. I’ve wanted to expand on some of these entries for a while now, and this is as good a time as any to do it. The other idea is that doing this will get my mind rolling for completely original material to contribute to this blog. I have some ideas, but I don’t want to throw my lot in with them just yet. Using these entries is a great way to keep busy while I work on those other ideas.

I’m also still planning to share fiction, poetry, scripts and all the rest whenever possible.

So, moving on to day one?

Does that work for everybody?


Thirty Day Film Challenge:

Day One: Your Favorite Film of All Time

Seven Samurai (1954)
Directed by: Akira Kurosawa
Starring: Toshiro Mifune, Takashi Shimura and Yoshio Inaba

It was difficult to choose one film over any other, and I’m not entirely sure I made the right choice, but this was the first title to pop into my head above all others, so I suppose that should count for something.  What’s important to me here is that I go with my instincts. The first answer to pop into my head is likely the correct one.

This is a beautiful, massive epic in every sense of the word. I cannot find a single thing wrong with it. The story is immediately gripping and doesn’t lose even a fraction of its momentum in spite of a fairly long running time (207 minutes). I can appreciate why so many sequels came out of the American remake (The Magnificent Seven). It’s the kind of story that you still want more of even after you’ve already been given a lot.

The cast is a huge part of that with Seven Samurai. Discovering Toshiro Mifune’s body of work has been one of the great movie-watching pleasures of the last ten or so years of my life.  He has a few awful movies under his belt, but I’ve yet to see something he’s awful.  Mifune was one of those rare talents who could be absolutely and completely in control of the entire movie when he’s on camera. His performance here is second only to his performance in Yojimbo. It’s electrifying and by far my favorite aspect of the whole movie. He’s not the only one. Every performance is absolutely essential in one way or another. Mifune cuts an imposing figure, but he doesn’t overshadow the rest of the cast and certainly not the entire film. Takashi Shimura is another of Japan’s great actors, and is at least somewhere on my list of favorite actors of all time, period. He gets some of the best lines in the film. His performance and by extension his character very quietly and effortlessly hold their own against everything else that’s going on.

Nothing overwhelms the movie. That’s one of the things I love about it. The best epics are the ones that have a thousand elements working together to create that singular, extraordinary final result.  That can be true of other film types, but I would like to think it’s especially critical for an epic or ensemble piece. Seven Samurai is a beautiful film, because everything in it is critical in some way, but it’s never a case of one thing overwhelming another. The spotlight may shine on a particular actor or shot, but that’s only within the moment. Seven Samurai doesn’t linger or allow anything to wear out its welcome and drag the movie down as a consequence. This was the first film to truly and so flawlessly combine so many characters, so many relationships between those characters (including a romance subplot between Isao Kimura, the youngest of the samurai and Keiko Tsushima, one of the villagers). Wrap that up in the rest of the action scenes and storytelling. You leave with a movie that never loses focus or the energy it builds for that fantastic final battle against the bandits.

There is not an ounce of wasted motion in Kurosawa’s effort to create something great.  There is no pretension or indulgence to be found. The ambition here was to make a good movie. Kurosawa did that, but I can’t imagine he knew what the long-term implications of Seven Samurai would be. The film was Japan’s most expensive up to that point and took a little over a year to shoot.  It was box-office hit and established Kurosawa as an international force that would serve to influence future filmmakers from all over the world.

Not only does it work as pure entertainment, but it is also the absolute pinnacle of the capacity and potential a film has to create a universe that is somehow larger than even the people who created it. Different minds have added to this specific universe over the years, but the one within the film itself is still as good as it could ever get. I don’t love Seven Samurai to impress or out of some weird obligation to the history of cinema. I love it because it has everything I could ever want from a movie. I’ve seen it a dozen times since 1998, and I still find something new and wonderful each time. Repeat viewings are not completely uncommon with me. Repeat viewings that don’t feel at all like repeat viewings are another story altogether. That’s exceptionally rare, and Seven Samurai is the absolute pinnacle of that very short list.

Old Men Go Crazy

When I got back from the city on Monday morning
I went to bed and told the box turtle
in the bathroom to hold my calls until Tuesday.

I went to bed
and hoped for the best.

An hour later,
and I’m riding with a friend who spit lit cigarettes
at red lights and swore he’d kill the judge at his court hearing.
Unless the assault charges from his son’s fifth birthday party
were dropped with extreme prejudice.

You can only imagine
how things turned out.

Two hours after the helicopters
left the scene of the crime,
I was trying to believe that the June bride
sitting across from me at The Waffle House
really did want to leave her husband for me.

Let’s remember she looks at life as being
a lot like some of the darker Zevon tunes.

Let’s also keep in mind that she came back
from the dead last Christmas, and that she clearly suffers
from Multiple Personality Disorder.

I don’t want to be presumptuous about her sincerity,
but I think it was smart to just sit there,
look sad, drink four liters of coffee
and squeeze the waitress’ hand when she brought the cheque.

The bride and I parted on good terms,
and by the end of the afternoon
I was auditioning for a play at gunpoint.

I did that while sending furious text messages
to a homeless guy who claimed to know
my whole future and just wouldn’t leave me
alone about it.

Palm readers don’t even bother
with human interaction anymore. It’s insane.

I didn’t get the part,
and I had to spend most of my evening
watching amateur doctors pass out
at the sight of the four bullet wounds in my left leg,

There was a riot just beyond the cold operating room,
but I couldn’t tell you anything about it. I just walked through
the wreckage, gave the guy at the grand piano a five-spot
and tried to make my way back home.

I almost made it.
I almost hit the pillow on my bed
from as far away as the long steps up to the front door.

That’s when I got a phone call
that had me spending the rest of the week
wandering the Mexican bars in Chinatown.
Keeping the crowd around me entertained
and pretending I had never fallen in love the hard way.

I’m a fool, you know.
I was still optimistic about getting some sleep
when I finally made it home the following Sunday morning.

My box turtle knew the score though.
She wouldn’t even look up from her dried-out lettuce.

Anybody Alive Out There?

I’m not great at written introductions.

You’re going to get a sense of that very, very quickly.

In person? I’d like to think I do a fairly good job. I tend to look at myself as a writer and entertainer (not the healthiest or smartest way to go through life, but it seems to dictate the pace for my days and nights nonetheless), so I’m always gunning for a good first impression. I can’t say if that actually goes through or not, but I seem to be doing okay judging from the fairly decent-sized assortment of people who put up with my nonsense on a day-to-day basis.

But written introductions? Shoddy at best. I love opening lines. It’s one of the few things I sincerely believe I’m good at as a writer. That doesn’t seem to translate to something like this. I’m at a loss for anything interesting to say, so the end-result is a lot of rambling before I finally get a sense of what I might want to say.

You should see the ten years of journal entries I’ve got on this computer. The long-winded energy in those is off the page.

The whole point of this blog is to give myself yet another avenue to get my writing out the door. Writing has been one of the great consistencies in my life for most of my life. I’ve been coming up with all kinds of weird ideas since I was about three years old. The stories, comics and other oddities I came up with were one of the few things I got complimented for in elementary school. At thirteen it was already difficult to imagine doing anything else. By sixteen it was impossible. It’s up for debate as to whether or not that’s a good thing. I wonder often if I perhaps might have been better off focusing on something a little more practical or, oh, I don’t know, more useful.

Unfortunately I’m twenty-six years old, and I just don’t have the patience or energy to go out and find a new passion and then create the energy necessary for it.

I’ve added to the writing over the years. I’ve been lucky enough to work for a popular Virginia radio station writing and reading news copy, in professional writing, as a stand-up comic and even as an actor in theater and film. All of it ties into that entertainer persona I’ve crafted for myself. Everything is a gig. Everything will eventually work its way into some form of creative effort on my part. That would explain my addiction to traveling and get wrapped up in as much weirdness as humanly possible.

At the end of the very long day all of these things amount to the only thing I’m really good at or interested in doing. I can’t say if anything I do is extraordinary, but the whole creative shtick is the only thing I’m really comfortable with. For good or ill I’m stuck with it for what I imagine will be the rest of my life.

So, the whole deal with this blog is that I hope to put together a column for it. I’ve written a few of those over the years, and it’s something I’d like to get back into. It may not be a column though. I may just wind up throwing a whole bunch of reviews of books, films, music and the like. I do a fair bit of review work for Unlikely Stories and The Modest Proposal, but with this I hope to write about things that wouldn’t necessarily fit with either of those publications. I’m also planning to toss up any short stories or poems that I’ve been unable to sell to literary journals. I may even deal in some novel and screenplay excerpts (I’ve written two).

And then there might be times when I’m just going to rant and pretend I’m making some kind of larger point.

This entry would be an excellent example of that.

Contrary to popular belief I can actually be a very private person. I don’t plan to lay everything on the line here, but I hope to perhaps reveal a little more about myself and hopefully promote my work as an actor and writer in the bargain.

Thanks for your attention and any support you might throw my way.  I’m grateful for anyone who is willing to dig what I do.