Wars and Windmills

15 December 2010

Intoxicated Cephalopod...

...or: I will never look at coat hangers the same again.


25 September 2010

100 Greatest First Lines

American Book Review posted what it considers to be the 100 best first lines from novels.  I posted the top ten and a few others that are my favorite– see if you agree:

1. Call me Ishmael. —Herman Melville, Moby-Dick (1851)

2. It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife. —Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice (1813)

3. A screaming comes across the sky. —Thomas Pynchon, Gravity's Rainbow (1973)

4. Many years later, as he faced the firing squad, Colonel Aureliano Buendía was to remember that distant afternoon when his father took him to discover ice. —Gabriel García Márquez, One Hundred Years of Solitude (1967; trans. Gregory Rabassa)

5. Lolita, light of my life, fire of my loins. —Vladimir Nabokov, Lolita (1955)

6. Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way. —Leo Tolstoy, Anna Karenina (1877; trans. Constance Garnett)

7. riverrun, past Eve and Adam's, from swerve of shore to bend of bay, brings us by a commodius vicus of recirculation back to Howth Castle and Environs. —James Joyce, Finnegans Wake (1939)

8. It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen. —George Orwell, 1984 (1949)

9. It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair. —Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities (1859)

10. I am an invisible man. —Ralph Ellison, Invisible Man (1952)

15. The sun shone, having no alternative, on the nothing new. —Samuel Beckett, Murphy (1938)

19. I wish either my father or my mother, or indeed both of them, as they were in duty both equally bound to it, had minded what they were about when they begot me; had they duly considered how much depended upon what they were then doing;—that not only the production of a rational Being was concerned in it, but that possibly the happy formation and temperature of his body, perhaps his genius and the very cast of his mind;—and, for aught they knew to the contrary, even the fortunes of his whole house might take their turn from the humours and dispositions which were then uppermost:—Had they duly weighed and considered all this, and proceeded accordingly,—I am verily persuaded I should have made a quite different figure in the world, from that, in which the reader is likely to see me. —Laurence Sterne, Tristram Shandy (1759–1767)

27. Somewhere in la Mancha, in a place whose name I do not care to remember, a gentleman lived not long ago, one of those who has a lance and ancient shield on a shelf and keeps a skinny nag and a greyhound for racing. —Miguel de Cervantes, Don Quixote (1605; trans. Edith Grossman)

38. All this happened, more or less. —Kurt Vonnegut, Slaughterhouse-Five (1969)

59. It was love at first sight. —Joseph Heller, Catch-22 (1961)

66. "To be born again," sang Gibreel Farishta tumbling from the heavens, "first you have to die." —Salman Rushdie, The Satanic Verses (1988)

68. Most really pretty girls have pretty ugly feet, and so does Mindy Metalman, Lenore notices, all of a sudden. —David Foster Wallace, The Broom of the System (1987)

Whole list here.

Art by the great Mark Weaver

20 September 2010

The Once and Future King

With a score of 1,064,500 points, Steve Weibe is again the Donkey Kong world champion.

According to the press release:
Wiebe last held the Donkey Kong record in spring of 2007, only to be bested by his movie rival Billy Mitchell months later. Mitchell’s score fell to New York’s Hank Chien in March of this year, but the Florida hot sauce distributor regained the title on July 31 with a score of 1,062,800 points.
Wiebe, who has attempted regaining the record at numerous live events over the years, recorded his championship game on August 30 for submission to Twin Galaxies, who verified and announced the score on Monday, September 20 as the new World Record.

A grand day.  If you have not a clue as to why this blithesome news is landing on happy ears, watch King of Kong and stew in the pure evil that is Billy Mitchell.

06 September 2010


I listen to these as though by doing so I am guaranteed salvation.  Evidence suggests there may be more to salvation than devotion to stellar podcasts, but I am hoping it will at least help.

What others am I missing, just in case?

01 September 2010


The idea is simple. The whole movie was divided into 15-second segments. Fans could then go and claim a segment and film it in which ever way their nerdy selves so desired, and then it was pieced back together.

I must admit that I was a little concerned that the segments and mostly the cuts between them would make for a disjointed and unpleasant viewing experience. I was wrong and found my lack of faith disturbing.

In earnest, on some level we all love Star Wars. Some love it more. Some love it most. Those in the latter category have a shallow pool in which to draw what I will call 'socially expectable' avenues in which to proclaim and manifest their devotion. Most attempts are met with the pure-gold vitriol of say, Triumph the Insult Comic Dog from Conan O'Brien.

No more. Uncut has given these nerds the outlet they so deserve and they even won a little award called Emmy for their troubles.

So, after you get back from the Tosche station with your power converters, watch the whole thing here: Star Wars Uncut.

20 June 2010

only your first, and already you're spectacular

P.S. Psssst...Darren, it's me Lindsey. Don't be mad, but I hacked your idea and then your blog. It's true, you're a great dad and the one and only butthead of our days and nights. We love you, oh so. --L & F

10 May 2010

Frank Frazetta

My dad didn't own many books. The ones he did own were of two sorts: self-help (usually written by Og Mandino), or escapism (written by Edgar Rice Burroughs'...Tarzan, and John Carter of Mars). An interesting collection, I know, and what it says about good ol' Jack is also interesting. Now, anyone who knows me correctly assumes that I never read any of the self-help books...clearly demonstrated by my poor decision-making skills, and over all inability to actually help myself. However, if you really do know me, you would also correctly assume that I was drawn to the nerdery found in Burroughs' stories. Still, keep in mind that I was young and this was pre-comic book me, so my reading level was still quite low. So I couldn't really read the books and understand them in any real kind of way; but I loved the covers, and stared at them for hours.

It was later that I learned the artist's name: Frank Frazetta; his covers are one of the few occasions where it would be safe to judge the book by it's cover. Frank, made a name for himself in the fantasy realm. He dabbled in all the generas I love: comics, fantasy, and Sci-fi. How, in all honesty, I haven't posted about him before is a mystery. He is amazing. He somehow manages to meld realism and surrealism in such a way as to make it easy[er] to think: well of course it is possible for that man to be fighting a four-armed giant alien on Mars, look at the picture...it's obvious.

Anyway, Frank died today, so it seemed a good time to share so all appreciators of art/space/monsters/aliens/swords/axes/gorillas/muscles/wizards/et al...can mourn as well as bask in his nerd god glory.

Why yes, that is Battlestar Gallactica you see depicted there...."oh", you ask, "is that The Witch King fighting Éowyn from Lord of the Rings", yes yes it is. "Is that a badass on a horse with a bloody axe?" Yessir, and isn't it fine?

Told ya, folks.

07 April 2010


Well, I have a child. His name is Finn.

To celebrate, here is some sweetness:


25 March 2010


If I were a Republican I would write this as the caption to this picture: "The ability to destroy a planet is insignificant next to the power of the Force." -- Vader

or this: "The Force can have a strong influence on the weak-minded." -- Obi-Wan

or this: "We seem to be made to suffer. It's our lot in life" -- C-3PO

or this: "Who's the more foolish: the fool, or the fool who follows him?" -- Obi-Wan

or this: “The Dark Side of the Force is the pathway to many abilities some consider to be… Unnatural.” -- Senator Palpatine

or this: "We're doomed." -- C3PO

If I were a Democrat I would write this: "The Force is what gives a Jedi his power. It's an energy field created by all living things. It surrounds us and penetrates us. It binds the galaxy together." -- Obama-Wan

or this: “The Force is strong with this one.” Vader

or this: "I love you". "I know". -- Leia and Han

or this: "In my experience, there's no such thing as luck". -- Obama-Wan

or this: “Great, kid. Don’t get cocky” -- Han Solo

or this: "Help me, Obi-Wan Kenobi; you're my only hope." -- Liea

As a nerd I will merely write this: "What an incredible smell you've discovered" -- Han Solo

06 February 2010

The People -vs- George Lucas

Just a teaser, but this looks like it may be something I might like. Maybe.

04 February 2010

My Head...

...after watching L O S T. Am I right?

23 January 2010

The Phantom Menace: A Review

My friend Scott told me about this. He has always been someone with a preternatural ability to hone in on all things stellar, and he has done it again.

I am posting this just in case there are people out there who haven't seen it. It is a stellar review deconstructing the many many issues that thwart what could have been the best film of my adult life. It certainly was the most anticipated. Can you imagine if that film was done right? I bet there wouldn't be a war in Iraq right now, my child wouldn't ever have had to worry about cancer, because it would be cured, and I wouldn't swear so much.

This guy, whomever he is, has put into words what many of us have felt for years; he found discrepancies that I never would have thought of, but are so true that once pointed out, I felt as though I had known them my whole life.

The presentation may strike some as odd, and isn't for those who find some swearing to be offensive. For me, I think he has done it like this for a reason, and swearing has never bothered me.








18 January 2010

Best of the Aughties: Films

So, apparently everyone is doing their obligatory “best of the decade” lists and, it seems that I am no exception.

Though the Aughts (also known as the 2000’s) were horrible in a lot of ways for the world, especially the U.S. (war, September 11th, massive recession and economic meltdown) there were also some great things and going through my list of films that came out from 2000 – 2009…it was strong decade. In fact, it is so strong that I couldn't bear to whittle down the list to a mere top 10, so I have done a top 35.

There is to be no doubt that some films will have been forgotten, I am no genius and my memory is less than acceptable, so forgive my ineptitude at list making. Also, for this list, only the top 10 are in any kind of order.

Let it begin:

1. Lord of the Rings Trilogy:
        Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Rings (Peter Jackson, 2001)
        Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers (Peter Jackson, 2002)
        Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (Peter Jackson, 2003)
2. The Dark Knight (Christopher Nolan, 2008)
3. The Royal Tenebaums (Wes Anderson, 2001)
4. Lost in Translation (Sofia Coppola, 2003)
5. Donnie Darko (Richard Kelly, 2001)
6. The Departed (Martin Scorsese, 2006)
7. There Will Be Blood (Paul Thomas Anderson, 2007)
8. No Country for Old Men (Joel Coen, Ethan Coen, 2007)
9. The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters (Seth Gordon, 2007)
10. Moon (Duncan Jones, 2009)
10. Avatar (James Cameron, 2009)

11. Inglorious Bastards (Quentin Tarantino, 2009)
12. Pan’s Labyrinth (Guillermo Del Toro, 2006)
13. Memento (Christopher Nolan, 2000)
15. The Wind that Shakes the Barley (Ken Loach, 2006)
16. Touching the Void (Kevin MacDonald, 2003)
17. Gladiator (Ridley Scott, 2000)
18. Man On Wire (James Marsh, 2008)
19. Oldboy (Chan-wook Park, 2003)
20. This Is England (Shane Meadows, 2007)

21. High Fidelity (Stephen Frears, 2000)
22. Grizzly Man (Werner Herzog, 2005)
23. Kill Bill Vol. 1 & 2 (Quentin Tarantino, 2003, 2004)
24. Once (John Carney, 2007)
25. Juno (Jason Reitman, 2007)
26. Amélie (Jean-Pierre Jeunet, 2001)
27. City of God (Fernando Meirelles, 2003)
28. The Bourne Identity (Paul Greengrass, 2002)
29. I Heart Huckabees (David O. Russell, 2004)
30. Hunger (Steve McQueen, 2008)

31. Children of Men (Alfonso Cuarón, 2006)
32. District 9 (Neill Blomkamp, 2009)
33. Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith (George Lucas, 2005)
34. American Psycho (Mary Harron, 2000)
35. Let the Right One In (Tomas Alfredson, 2008)

Runners Up

Slumdog Millionaire (Danny Boyle, 2008)
Syriana (Stephen Gaghan, 2005)
28 Days Later... (Danny Boyle, 2002)
O Brother Where Art Thou? (Coen Brothers, 2000)
Brick (Rian Johnson, 2005)
Battle Royale (Kinji Fukasaku, 2000)
Unbreakable (M. Night Shyamalan, 2000)
In America (Jim Sheridan, 2004)
Almost Famous (Cameron Crowe, 2000)
The Hurt Locker (Kathryn Bigelow ,2009)
Star Trek (J.J. Abrams, 2009)
The Prestige (Christopher Nolan, 2006)
A History Of Violence (David Cronenberg, 2005)
Punch-Drunk Love (Paul Thomas Anderson, 2002)
The Squid and The Whale (Noah Baumbach , 2005)
Son of Rambow (Seth Gordon, 2007)

14 January 2010

Divulgence VI

J-Lo's Jenny from the Block has long been the song most likely to audibly violate my poor ears and then, as though nothing just happened, it sit down on my brain-couch and get cozy. It's not dissimilar to the facehugger from the movie Alien: it latches on, impregnates, lulls into thinking all is well, and then, out of no where, when you are in a social situation in which singing J-Lo would be considered awkward (are there times when it wouldn't be?), it explodes out of you to the shock and disgust of all.

However, another song has been produced that is, like the Alien from Alien: "the perfect organism. A killing machine whose physical excellence is matched only by it's hostility". The prefect mixture of catchy and annoying: Beyonce's Put A Ring On It. WHY can't songs I enjoy ever get stuck in my head? I am Ripley. I am ever dogged by the same demon, torment on repeat. Even if I were to traverse the expanses of time and space, by some preternatural ability some poorly written over produced drivel will find my ear, face-hug it, and...well, you know.

I tell you that, so I could tell you this:

Recently, a face-hugger from my past has reemerged. Like the Alien from Alien³, it has a similar form but a few different features. This song tried to romance my brain before it embed itself by being a song that, embarrassing, I used to enjoy listening to; hence the divulgence. In 1992 Ugly Kid Joe wrote a song that encapsulated all that I now think is wrong with music: Everything About You.. It is contrived, meant to capitalize on the popular "alternative rock" craze of the 90's; and it is so obnoxious that of course it appealed to the Beevis and Butt-head loving, every bit as annoying Darren of the early 90's.

In earnest, U.K.J. wasn't as bad as the J-Lo or Beyonce experience. It was annoying, but it's romancing worked, and for a while now I have been in a continual state of nostalgia for the songs I enjoyed in the 90's. So I have started a playlist, and have been whistling a hunting song as I look for both the good and the bad. I will share what I have so far with hopes that anyone still reading this will have further ideas, and I am not pulling any proverbial punches, this is a divulgence and I admit to liking all these songs. For the sake of space, I have tried to keep these to the years I was in high school: 1992-96.

(also, if a band has multiple tracks, I didn't put them all, but there are some with multiple listings)

(also, don't mention Jessie by Joshua Kadison...that song is so bad that even 90's Darren didn't like it).

Man in the Box -- Alice in Chains (1991)
Down in a Hole -- Alice in Chains (1992)
Rooster -- Alice in chains (1993)
Good -- Better Than Ezra (1995)
Bittersweet -- Big Head Todd & the Monsters (1993)
Poor Miss -- Big Head Todd & the Monsters (1994)
No Rain -- Blind Melon (1992)
Run-Around -- Blues Traveler (1994)
Hook -- Blues Traveler (1994)
(Everthing I Do) I Do It For You -- Brian Adams (1991)
Glycerine -- Bush (1995)
Stickshifts and Safety Belts -- CAKE (1996)
Friend is a Four Letter Word -- CAKE (1996)
Satellite -- Dave Matthews Band (1994)
Ants Marching -- Dave Matthews Band (1994)
Crash Into Me-- Dave Matthews Band (1996)
Lie in Our Graves (1996)
Personal Jesus -- Depeche Mode (1990)
One Caress -- Depeche Mode (1993)
I'll Be -- Edwin McCain (1998)
Tears in Heaven -- Eric Clapton (1992)
More Than Words -- Extreme (1990)
Name -- Goo Goo Dolls (1995)
Iris -- Goo Goo Dolls (1998)
Black Balloon -- Goo Goo Dolls (1998)
Basket Case -- Green Day (1994)
Time -- Hootie & the Blowfish (1995)
Hold My Hand -- Hootie & the Blowfish (1995)
Let Her Cry -- Hootie & the Blowfish (1995)
Out to Get You -- James (1993)
Say Something -- James (1993)
Laid -- James (1993)
Lullaby -- James(1993)
Flood -- Jars of Clay (1995)
I Alone -- Live (1994)
Lightning Crashes -- Live (1994)
All Over You -- Live (1994)
Sick Of Myself -- Matthew Sweet (1995)
The Beautiful People -- Marylin Manson(1996)
Enter Sandman -- Metallica (1991)
Sad But True -- Metallica (1991)
Hurt -- Nine Inch Nails (1994)
Smells Like Teen Spirit -- Nirvana (1991)
In Bloom -- Nirvana (1991)
Come As You Are -- Nirvana (1991)
Wonderwall -- Oasis
Self Esteem -- The Offspring (1994)
Once -- Pearl Jam (1991)
Elderly Woman Behind the Counter in a Small Town -- Pearl Jam (1993)
Yellow Ledbetter -- Pearl Jam (1991)
I'm Gonna Be (500 Miles)-- The Proclaimers (heard 1994)
Creep -- Radiohead --(1993)
Under the Bridge -- Red Hot Chili Peppers (1991)
Did You Ever Look So Nice -- The Samples (1992)
Little Silver Ring -- The Samples (1993)
Who Am I? -- The Samples (1994)
Runaway Train -- Soul Asylum
Blackhole Sun -- Soundgarden (1994)
Two Princes -- Spin Doctors (1991)
Hell -- Squirrel Nut Zippers (1996)
Fields of Gold -- Sting (1993)
Dead and Bloated -- Stone Temple Pilots (1992)
Interstate Love Song -- Stone Temple Pilots (1994)
I Palindrome I -- They Might Be Giants (1992)
Mammal -- They Might Be Giants (1992)
Spider -- They Might Be Giants (1992)
Good Intentions -- Toad The Wet Sprocket
Possum Kingdom -- Toadies(1994)
Tyler -- Toadies (1994)
Sober -- TooL (1994)
One -- U2(1991)
Can't Help Falling In Love -- UB40 (1993)
Everything About You -- Ugly Kid Joe (1992)
Blister in the Sun -- Violent Femmes (1993)
My Name is Jonas -- Weezer (1994)
Only In Dreams -- Weezer (1994)
El Sorcho -- Weezer (1996)
More Human Than Human -- White Zombie (1995)

Notable omissions due to disliking/hating: Smashing Pumpkins and Counting Crows...hated them both. Also, present tense, hate.

So, what'd I miss?