Feelin’ blue

I knew her for exactly one school year, our sophomore year, in High School.

I was a stranger to that town and for years didn’t feel comfortable in my own skin.  Moving from country to country has a way of making you both introverted and shy.  You don’t want to reach out to others for fear they’ll soon be gone.

She was in one of my classes.  I don’t recall which, but we got to be friends.  Perhaps she took pity on me.  She was very attractive and had the eyes of many others, including some of the more popular people in the school and I was, compared to them, a quiet oddball.

I admit it, I was smitten.

The year ended and we left on good terms (she even signed my yearbook!) and when I returned to school for our junior, then senior years, I hoped to reconnect with her but that was not to be.  Apart from that first year we didn’t share another class together.  I saw her here and there on campus but we never had another conversation and never shared another laugh.  She had her circle of friends and they didn’t include me or my geeky friends.

I saw her one last time on perhaps the very last day of High School.  It was an outdoor get-together for the graduating Seniors and we were milling about or sitting on the lawn and hanging out in groups.  I saw her sitting with one of her female friends and by a teacher I knew and decided to formally say goodbye to her.

I was still painfully shy but built up my courage and sat down near her.  My shyness had my mind in overdrive and I tried to work into talking to her by first acting like I sat there with the intention of talking to that teacher.  I caught her eye but we wound up not saying anything to each other.  Another friend of mine -one many students didn’t like because he was even more of an oddball than me- sat down next to me a moment after I sat and effectively broke whatever plans I had.

I never did get to say goodbye.

Many years later another friend of mine from High School told me -though my memories were vague about this- that she was in an accident and subsequently hospitalized and in a coma.

These were the days before the internet and given how far away she was from me by this point versus where I lived, there was no way to verify the information and so I could do nothing but hope my friend’s information was incorrect.

Fast forward to last weekend and some twenty two plus years later.  My youngest daughter is about to go to College and she chooses one that coincidentally happens to be a short fifteen minute drive from my old High School.

We headed up there for that college’s orientation and in my free time I get curious and, thanks to the magic of Google, start looking up old friends from High School.  I look up that girl I was so smitten with for that one magical year and what I find breaks my heart.

She passed away at the age of 34 in the year 2000.

I searched for more information but couldn’t find much.  Her obituary simply states the date she passed away and lists her immediate family as relatives.  There is no mention of a husband and, I suppose it was for the best, any children.

I searched even harder but the fact is she passed away just as the internet was about to become the fountain of information it is now and there was precious little I could glean about her years following High School.  What I did find was that she went to college, joined a sorority, and was there for four years.  Between her graduation from College in approximately 1988 and the year she died there was little else to find.

I contacted my other High School friend, the one that told me years before that she had been in a car crash and in a coma, and asked him for more details.  Could he remember when exactly he found out about this?  Was there any more he learned?  Anything at all?

Sadly, he couldn’t.

Based on estimations and guesswork, we guessed he must have found out about her accident and subsequent hospitalization in and around our 10th year High School reunion, perhaps 1994.

Which crushed me all the more.

I’ve worked with victims of accidents and head trauma and any number of debilitating conditions and the sad fact is that one can live (though there is a bitter irony to using that particular word) for years in such a condition before passing away.

Had this happened to her?

I could only guess that perhaps it had.  It explained why she had no significant other or children listed among her family and relatives in her obituary.

And it made me all the sadder.

While my old friend passed away 16 years ago (ironically, in and around the likely age we were when we first met), finding out about this now made the loss immediate.  2016 has been a terrible year, so far, for deaths and this one hit me just as hard.


Rest in peace, Julie.

I hope what life you lived in those too short years was as beautiful as you were in my childhood eyes.

Paradox (2016) a (right on time…pun intended!) review

It is often, at least for me, to find that “bad” movies are the result of a bad screenplay/story.  While these films may exhibit any other number of problems, from bad acting to bad direction/editing/cinematography, usually the worst sin a “bad” film has is related to its story.

Which brings me to Paradox.  Currently available On Demand or for free through Netflix (or was it Amazon Prime?!), Paradox is a time travel murder mystery which stars stuntwoman turned actress Zoe Bell.  Without further ado, the movie’s trailer:

Not too bad looking, if you’re into Time Travel-type tales.  Me?  I’m interested in ’em so when given the chance, I gave the movie a watch.

As I hinted above, the movie wasn’t all that good.  Mind you, it wasn’t horrible, but it just…wasn’t very good.  I can’t in good conscience recommend it to anyone, even if you’re into time travel features.

What was most curious, however, was the fact that perhaps for the first time I can recall, I found this “bad” movie’s problem lay squarely at the feet of just about everything but the screenplay/story.

Before getting into that, let me backtrack just a little: Paradox involves a small, clandestine group of scientists who are working on a time machine.  I won’t go into too many spoilers here, but suffice it to say that this group locks themselves in a heavily fortified (and relatively large) basement and are about to make their first attempt at time traveling on the night the movie begins.

When the first time travelling subject -one of the small group’s members- goes forward in time by one hour, he encounters a horror show: Blood, bodies, and general mayhem.  Further, a self-destruct sequence has been initiated and there are only minutes left before the facility goes up in flames.

The world’s first time traveler runs through the facility and finds even more evidence of grisly murder.  He quickly realizes someone in their small group is a murderer but, because the time machine is using up the entire city’s electricity, he cannot get out of the facility and, with time literally winding down, reactivates the machine and travels back to moments after he first left.

He encounters his now living companions and warns them of what is to come.

Just as he was and hour from then, the group is trapped within the fortified facility.  They do, however, still have use of the time machine…can they beat fate?

The time travel premise may not be super incredibly original but in the context of what we’re seeing its not bad.  Further, the screenplay/story is, to my eyes anyway, quite clever and provides, by the end, a very satisfying explanation/wrap up for everything that’s come before.


Man does this film have other problems.

Let’s start with the biggest: The acting.  I really hate to do this, but apart from Zoe Bell, the acting within this film is for the most part simply not very good.  The dialogue, which at times could have been quite clever and even humorous, most often falls flat because of the delivery.

Unfortunately, the problems don’t stop there.  The movie’s direction is mediocre and the budget was obviously very low, which hurts the overall product.  This is particularly evident toward the film’s “explosive” climax.

And yet…

Seriously, the story presented was, dare I say it, clever.  While Michael Hurst, the movie’s director, may not be all that good, the very same Michael Hurst, Paradox’s writer, isn’t all that bad.

It’s quite the…dare I say it…paradox, no?

In the end and as I said above, I cannot recommend Paradox in spite of the fact that in more capable hands I could easily see this film succeeding with its story alone.

Too bad.

Time gets us all…

Years ago I recall seeing this magazine on the newsstands with what was then a surprising image/interview of actor Cary Grant.


The image was surprising to see because it had been years since Mr. Grant retired from acting and to suddenly see him re-appear and have this “silver fox” look was stunning.  To many, like me, he was frozen in time thanks to the magic of cinema and might be recalled by the way he looked in the mid-1960’s, in his last movie role before retiring…


Or perhaps in his prime, one of the more handsome Hollywood lead actors ever…


Shortly after this GQ article came the sad news of Mr. Grant’s passing, and I distinctly recall reading another magazine offering a tribute to the legendary actor.  While I can’t remember the exact details of the entire article, one line at the start of it really hit me.

It went something lIke this: “The actor you thought would live forever has passed away.”

I could understand the sentiment and the shock of seeing someone I had seen so many times before on the silver screen in their “prime” suddenly looking so old…so frail.

These sentiments came back really strong when images of another favorite actor of mine, who interestingly enough is tangentially tied in to Mr. Grant, was caught out and about shopping with his wife…


There are plenty of others pictures out there to show (it appears paparazzi followed this individual and his wife around for a while), but suffice it to say that if I wasn’t aware of who this is, I likely never would have guessed.

The above picture is of Sean Connery and his wife Michelle Roquebrune out shopping.

As I said above, Cary Grant and Mr. Connery share a tangential relationship.  Though they were never in a film together (to the best of my memory!) the Cary Grant film North By Northwest (directed by Alfred Hitchcock) was a big inspiration for the James Bond films.  In fact, when the producers of the Bond films were working on developing the property, they wanted Cary Grant to play the secret agent but he ultimately declined because he didn’t want to tie himself to more than one film, thus paving the way for Sean Connery (who effected a Cary Grant-like suave style).

Interestingly enough, like Cary Grant, Mr. Connery also retired from making films and has stuck to this promise, thus also “freezing” himself in time, making us remember him like this…


The image above is from League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, Mr. Connery’s last movie role before retiring.  Of course, we also may remember Mr. Connery like this…


I truly hope Mr. Connery is enjoying his retirement.  I presented the above image not to shock but rather to show, as if anyone needs to be reminded, that the passage of time affects us all.

I’d be remiss…

…if I didn’t show this, an image currently making some folks on the internet crazy:

What you have here is a brick wall (that’s the obvious part) with a hidden object in it.  Took me at least five minutes to figure out what the hidden object was and, of course, where it was.  Now I can’t “unsee” it.

For those having trouble figuring it out, I’ll offer a hint…




The hidden object is a cigar.  Now go back to the picture and figure it out for yourselves.

Opinions are like…part deux

A very long time ago (I kid, it was only three freaking days ago) I posted an entry entitled “Opinions are like…” and went on to talk about the fact that director Steven Spielberg, the man who may well be one of the people most responsible for inspiring me to pursuing my writing career thanks to the impact of seeing his first hit movie Duel on TV when it originally aired (read the rest of the post here), had very kind things to say about Guardians of the Galaxy, a film I absolutely hated.

The purpose of my post was to say this: Opinions about things, especially works of art, are individualistic.  What may float my boat may well sink yours and vice versa.  Guardians of the Galaxy was a tremendously successful film that had high positive responses from both audiences and critics and to this day many consider it the very best “Marvel” film ever made.

I do NOT begrudge Mr. Spielberg’s, or anyone else’s for that matter, opinion regarding the film.  Indeed, if you liked it, good for you.  My opinion of the film should have no impact on your opinion of it and, frankly, I wish I could have liked it as much as so many did.  The film was certainly in my particular wheelhouse but, again, it just didn’t work.  For me.

Part of the reason I posted that entry was because I’m alarmed by how militant -and insulting- people are regarding their opinions about such things.

You can find the most -and frankly really ugly– example of this in this article by Gina Carbone for moviefone.com:

The War Over Ghostbusters Gets Ugly As New Trailer Drops

The article is about how Angry Video Game Nerd (AVGN) posted a youtube video in which he stated he would absolutely not be seeing the new version of the Ghostbusters  film.  AVGN has great fondness for the original Bill Murray/Dan Ackroyd film (many do) and is certain this new version of Ghostbusters will be terrible.  He goes on at lengths explaining why he feels this film is bad and, again, it is his opinion and he’s certainly entitled to it.

What happened next is what is so alarming.

People start posting pro and con comments regarding AVGN’s video/opinion and things got really ugly when comedian/actor Patton Oswald came on and posted a comment that rather than condemn the film pre-emptively, AVGN should watch the new Ghostbusters and then make his comments.  If the film is terrible, then so be it.  Let the makers have it.

But at least see the film before you knock it.

Mr. Oswald’s comments resulted in a cascade of comments and some of them got really nasty.  How nasty?  Some people -I kid you not- made light of the fact that Mr. Patton’s wife had very recently passed away.

Yes folks, it got that ugly.

Now, I ask: Is Mr. Patton’s above comment, that one should see a film before condemning it, out of bounds?  Does it deserve the ugliness that followed?  Was it in any way controversial?

I’d say what he wrote sounds incredibly…reasonable.

Unless you work for Sony and have already seen the film in some secret pre-screening, you have NO IDEA how good this new version of Ghostbusters is.

You can assume certain things, of course.  Based on the negative reception of the first trailer, you can assume the film may not be very good, but there have been very bad trailers made for very good films and vice versa, so at best you’re reacting to a “bad” trailer.  You can lament the fact that this film doesn’t feature the original cast but, given that original cast-member Harold Ramis passed away, there isn’t going to be an original cast movie anymore.  You can lament the fact that they’re remaking a beloved film (got knows I’ve gone through that plenty of times) and the track record for remakes isn’t the greatest.  Finally, if Melissa McCarthy or director Paul Fieg’s films to this date haven’t floated your boat, its reasonable to assume you may not like this film as well and, that being the case, you certainly are in well within your rights to say you aren’t going to bother seeing this version of Ghostbusters.

AVGN has every right to his opinions.  He has every right to express absolutely no hope and/or interest in seeing this new Ghostbusters.  I don’t even begrudge him the opinion that this new film will be horrible/terrible/the-final-sign-of-the-apocalypse…

…just as it is equally fine for Mr. Oswald to opine that one shouldn’t condemn this new film -or any new film- before, you know, actually seeing it.

Two opinions, both equally fine.

Why the ugliness?


I’ve been saying this for a while now…

Dealing with politics here -as well as stroking my ego- so…


Found this article written by Alexandra Rosenmann over at Salon.com…

Noam Chomsky: The Democratic Party now belongs to Moderate Republicans

Oh, I get it, when big-shot Noam Chomsky says it, people pay attention but when I say the same thing for years now, everyone ignores me.

Seriously, though, I very much believe this to be true.  The conservative movement, for ill in my opinion by the way, has moved the country so far to the right that the Democratic Party is at this point effectively a moderate Republican Party.

I noted before that Bill Clinton and (yes) commie/socialist/whateverthey’recallinghimnow Barack Obama would very comfortably fit into a moderate Republican party circa the late 1960’s or early 1970’s.

On the plus side, a prediction: Like many things, I also very much believe in the whole pendulum concept, wherein a pendulum (or popular thought) tends to have a surge (or swing), reaches its apex, and then loses its momentum and the other side surges.

Starting with Franklin D. Roosevelt and for much of the middle 20th Century, Liberalism was the popular political thought.  While it sputtered in the 1960’s it ran out of gas as a movement roughly around the time Ronald Reagan became president.  From that moment on, the conservative movement began its ascent while liberalism seemed to go into hiding.

I certainly don’t want to count chickens before they hatch, but I suspect the Donald Trump presidential bid may wind up crashing and burning the Republicans -and by extension the conservative movement- this coming electoral cycle.

The reason is simple: It’s become too much crazy for people to tolerate.

However, the future isn’t decided and things could well turn out differently.

If that should be the case, I may have to investigate returning to Canada.

Opinions are like…

Over on Facebook, director/writer James Gunn posted the following, a quote by Steven Spielberg regarding his hit film Guardians of the Galaxy:

Understandably gobsmacked by this wonderful comment by Mr. Spielberg, Mr. Gunn wrote:

Steven Spielberg just said this about Guardians of the Galaxy in Cannes. Probably the greatest compliment of my life. I learned what a director was because as a kid I loved Raiders of the Ark so much I wondered who the guy was behind it all, and I’m making movies today because of it. (Forgive some of the spelling in the translation, please).

If you were ask me who I considered the greatest living movie director, my answer might well mirror Mr. Gunn’s:  I would unhesitatingly name Steven Spielberg.  Though I don’t consider every one of his films a “classic” (indeed, there are a few I haven’t bothered seeing and a number I’ve seen once and wouldn’t see again), nonetheless Mr. Spielberg was the man who truly introduced me to both the magic of cinema and storytelling.  While it may seem an exaggeration, I believe his first big successful film was instrumental in influencing me into being the author I am today.

The film?  Duel.  It premiered in 1971 on TV and I was five years old at the time and was captivated by it…

Though it wouldn’t be until years later (remember, these were the days before the internet and instant information at your fingertips!) that I realized this film was directed by the same man who made Jaws and E.T. and Close Encounters of the 3rd Kind and, yes, Raiders of the Lost Ark, it was the smash success of Duel that proved Mr. Spielberg’s big “breakout” feature and paved the way for his future successes.  Indeed, in watching Duel you have a landlocked version of Jaws!

Duel shook my very young mind to the core.  This was the very first movie I saw from start to end and realized it told a story.  A damn good one, to boot!  There were other things that influenced who I am today but there is little doubt my watching Duel at such a young age was one of the key influences in my desire to create my own stories.

I lay out my deep respect and admiration for Mr. Spielberg and his place in my heart because I want to be very clear about where he stands in my personal estimation.

The reason being what I’m about to say: I hated Guardians of the Galaxy.

Hated, hated, hated that damn film.

I know I’m in an incredibly small minority.  The movie currently sits at a lofty 91% approval among critics and a 92% approval among audiences on rottentomatoes.com.  It made a boat-load of money in theaters and even today many point to the movie as one of the very best Marvel films ever released.

And for the life of me, I don’t get it.

I missed the film when it was in theaters but based on the positive reactions bought the BluRay when it was released.  Together with my wife and daughter we sat in the living room, fired the BluRay up, and…

About thirty or so minutes into the film my daughter bailed on us.  (She would later tell me she hated what she saw of it and had no desire to see the rest)

When the movie was over my wife turned to me and said: “You like that?!”  From the tone of her voice and subsequent conversation, it turned out she hated it, too.  The only reason she hung around and watched it was to keep me company.  She assumed I liked it and when I told her I didn’t, she shook her head and asked me why I didn’t just shut the thing off well before it ended and be done with it.

I told her I should have done just that.

Now, the point I’m making here is this: We all have opinions.

As much as I admire and love many of the works of Mr. Spielberg, I have no doubt his views on Guardians of the Galaxy are as sincere in their praise as mine are opposed.  I bought the Guardians of the Galaxy BluRay fully thinking/expecting this film to rock my world or, at the very least, entertain me.  Going into the film I had nothing against Mr. Gunn or Marvel films in general (indeed, I like almost all the ones I’ve seen).  But whether it be due to my mood or the time of day or the phase of the Moon, Guardians of the Galaxy proved a wretched experience to not only me, but my wife and daughter as well..

As I said above, we all have opinions and sometimes what works for you (indeed, for 91-92% of people) may not work for me.

Just because Mr. Spielberg likes Guardians of the Galaxy doesn’t suddenly mean I renounce the man and now hate his works and reject the impact Duel had on me.  Or Jaws.  Or Raiders of the Lost Ark.  Mr. Spielberg obviously found something he liked in this movie which totally eluded me.  And you know what?

Its fine.

So for those out there who get into such heated squabbles over what’s “good” and what “sucks”, bear this in mind: Everyone has opinions, especially about works of art and/or entertainment.

It should be obvious but it bears repeating.  Sometimes over and over again.

Madeleine Lebeau and Darwyn Cooke, RIP

As 2016 churns on, one thing that seems to mark this year as so very different than others is the amount of passings we’ve experienced so far.  While in any given year “big named” people pass, it seems we’ve seen more than our share of late.

As the headline indicates, two individuals have passed.  One I’m very familiar with and the other is an incredible curiosity, at least to me.

Casablanca actress Madeleine Lebeau, 92, passes away

While not the “biggest” star within what many consider one of the all-time best films ever made, Actress Madeleine Lebeau, the last surviving cast member of that famous film, nontheless made an indelible mark, particularly in this scene…

Ms. Lebeau has an interesting smaller story within the larger Casablanca plot and her tearful “Vive La France” at the end of the song was reportedly a very genuine reaction.  One who isn’t familiar with Casablanca can be forgiven for not knowing the movie was made and released in 1942 and while World War II raged.  Many of the actors who participated in this film, including Ms. Lebeau, faced harrowing experiences not unlike what was presented in the movie and therefore the lines between reality and fiction blurred for them.  In the case of Ms. Lebeau, she had already faced difficulties fleeing from war torn Europe and getting to the United States, not unlike her character in the movie who was desperate to flee the Nazi presence.

Rest in peace, Ms. Lebeau.

A couple of days ago it was announced via facebook and by his family that comic book and animation artist/writer Darwyn Cooke was receiving palliative care for his cancer.  While the term may not be familiar to many, palliative care refers to care given to those who have serious illnesses and it’s focus is to provide relief from the symptoms and stress and improve quality of life for both the patient and the family.  In most cases, palliative care is synonymous with “end of life” care.  In the case of Mr. Cooke, this was sadly the case as the day after the family announcement and on May 14th it was announced Mr. Cooke had passed away.

I really, really liked the work of Mr. Cooke.  His artwork was deceptively simple looking yet had a great 1950’s pop vibe to it.  Here are just some example of his work:

While perhaps best known for his work on the various Batman animated series and for his DC superhero work (The New Frontier in particular is quite fabulous) a few of his last projects involved graphic novel versions of Richard Stark’s “Parker” series (the last image above is from that).  In the end Mr. Cooke made four graphic novel adaptations, including The Hunter (the first Parker book which has been filmed as Point Blank with Lee Marvin, Payback with Mel Gibson, and Parker with Jason Stratham and Jennifer Lopez), The Outfit (filmed with the same name with Robert Duvall in the title role), The Score, and Slayground.

I haven’t checked out the last two graphic novels as of yet.  Looks like it’s something to add to my reading list.

Rest in Peace, Mr. Cooke.

Castle done…

Call this tying some loose ends.  A while back (you can read it here) I wrote about my curiosity with the fact the next season of the TV show Castle, its 9th, would not have one of the show’s two leads, actress Stana Katic.  Here she is in a promo photo with her co-star Nathan Fillion

Though no fan of the show, I found the news incredibly…weird.  As I mentioned in the previous blog post there was a summer I caught a block of episodes (it was on TBS or TNT and I couldn’t tell you which season they were from) and found the show a light, entertaining affair, a thematic throwback to the old Bruce Willis/Sybill Shepherd Moonlighting or the Pierce Brosnan/Stephanie Zimbalist Remington Steele shows from the 1980’s.  All these shows have the commonality of a strong female character butting heads against a dashing male co-star…and you knew romance was just around the corner along with whatever mystery they were currently facing.

Anyway, when I heard the next season of Castle would not feature Ms. Katic, I wondered just how they could continue the show without its co-lead.

Well, wonder no more:

Castle cancelled: Stana Katic pens note to fans, and other cast reactions

While it was pure speculation on my part, I nonetheless speculated Ms. Katic’s leaving the show wasn’t under the most pleasant of circumstances.  The reason for my suspicions was that the announcement of her not returning to the show seemed to come out of no where and the actress provided no information regarding this departure.  It almost seemed like the creators of the show gave up on her at the last minute, whether it be due to monetary issues (perhaps she was in a contract year and was demanding even better pay) or…something else.

My curiosity aroused, I investigating further and found there were rumors Ms. Katic didn’t get along well with the show’s staff and/or her co-star.  Frankly, I tend to discount these rumors as unfortunately they’re all too typical when it comes to the female leads in a popular show.

Yes, I’m talking sexism here.

For those too young to know, back in the days of Moonlighting there were plenty of rumors of Cybill Shepherd being a “diva”,  Even today there are similar rumors being reported concerning Jaime Alexander, the female –natch– co-star of Blindspot.

As I said above, it appears I no longer have to wonder how a Stana Katic-less Castle will play out.

The answer is: It won’t.