Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Nice Line

Harry Monroe, while talking to his prospective love, Catherine Wrag, in Barry Hannah's GERONIMO REX, says to her: "I'd be a boll of cotton if they made me into your dress." NICE!

Tuesday, February 22, 2011


Translate this, with beautiful smile,
emerald scarf tied in Iranian style,
chanting crowds in streets transgress,
yearn as well for freedom to express,
an inner truth, some future visions
no political martyrs in filthy prisons,
someday clerical grip will come loose,
corrupt will hang from tightened noose.

Monday, February 21, 2011


Camped this weekend at Poinsett State Park, just outside of Sumter, South Carolina, closest to the town of Wedgefield and abutting the bombing range for aircraft from Sumter Air Force base. It is a charming place, with pines, oak, and laurel full of draped Spanish moss. Wide trails bend through the piney woods from the camping areas to the office alongside a small pond and mill race. A deceptive hill borders the pond. Built by Civilian Conservation Corp workers during the Great Depression, the park features much of the same architecture and design found in similar state parks, including Columbia's Sesqui. As has been my experience in South Carolina, the place was remarkably well-kept. South Carolina really should be proud of their parks. The group camping area, where I stayed with members of my son's troop, featured new, though spartan, bathrooms (a significant improvement according to scouts who had been there before). Apparently the place features horseback riding, though I neither saw nor heard any horses, as well as fishing, boating, and hiking. No swimming appeared to be allowed. Some of the shelters had well-mown and large grassy areas, though this weekend I saw none of the usual family gatherings one sees in the state parks. We hiked (and policed) two trails. I was surprised by how clean the Coquina route was, a short mile and a half route over a 100 foot or so hill that is rather appealing. We also hiked the Scout trail from which the boys trimmed out overhanging bushes and blockages along the wide path that meanders about two fairly flat miles. (So we hiked about 5.5 miles total). Although I lagged I managed to keep up a steady pace and finished not too badly behind the younger set. The park isn't as exciting as some in the state, but it is quiet and pleasant. The scouts did two other services while there: levelling two ash pits and performing flag-retirement ceremonies. The days were very comfortable, thought the nights were a bit colder than expected. I learned a few lessons, that will definitely be applied in future camping trips. I also learned that I cannot share a tent with my youngest: how someone that small can migrate his body back and forth simple amazed me, and that didn't even come close to the surprising range and diversity of sounds emitting from him in his sleep. He ended up being exile to the (albeit warmer) cab of our truck. My older son seemd to have weathered the cold night in comfort in his own tent amongst his compatriots. The food was good, the company enjoyable, the nature invigorating, and I also enjoyed a measure of peace. Looking forward to our next outing to Congaree National Swamp.

Monday, February 7, 2011


Am I allowed, to fall in love?
To unshackle limbo-trapped spirit,
caught in convulsing confusion,
wrapped in responsibility and regret,
no time for individualism or peace,
or a hand held tight on a beach.


Road Warrior meets the Odyssey, with a hero a bit like wise-cracking, irreverent Harry of the Dredsen Files. Some may complain about sexism and violence, and we are not talking great literature here, but if you enjoy postapocalyptic fiction, then I suspect this book may be for you. There are glaring leaps in the storyline, and not a bit of implausibility, but overall it is a page-turning thrill that will satisfy anyone who likes shows such as The Walking Dead. Mortimer Tate ran away from divorce and fortuitously squirreled away supplies in a cave home that protected and isolated him during the destruction of the known world, only to emerge to see what calamity had wrought; a stash of booze and other items allows him entree into a privileged strata in the new reality. Along with two faithful companions (a gunslinging cowboy and tough young lady), he goes on a quest to find his ex-wife. The world is slowly knitting itself together against vicious, brutal overlords and cannibalistic tribes; the emerging society loosely forming around a string of go-go bars (somewhat like western brothels) that provide a sense of the familiar as well as an economic engine that encourages economic industriousness and community building. There are plenty of colorful characters, daring escapes, rough scenes, humorous banter, and even a little sex. One can only wonder why there hasn’t been a graphic novel and screen adaptations, although the book isn’t that old.


The struggle between traditional ways in the historical rice terraces of the Philippines and modernization, as represented by the desire for a new pair of shoes, as well as the generational conflict of a youth trying to find his way in the world, is the focus of the nice little movie Balat. A young man—loving brother, dutiful son, and generous friend—from a poor rice-farming family covets some footwear while dreaming of opportunities of the city, which has been robbing the village of its young and talented. Industrious and clever, every time he earns a little extra cash doing odd jobs ranging from porter to tourist guide, he ends up forking over his earnings for much needed rice or other domestic needs, especially while the father is off helping his grandfather repair his terraces. He discovers however that boots do not always solve all problems and that family and old ways are sometimes better. The film is somewhat slow (lots of walking scenes) and obvious, but the scenery is beautiful and the glimpses into local culture are interesting. The movie touches on the love of the land, traditional methods and religion, family relationships.

Thursday, February 3, 2011


Although he apparently was not involved in the making of The Sorcerer's Apprentice, it seems to me that the writers channeled Jim Butcher (Dresden Files series) as they were constructing their movie. Of course, the timeline is much accelerated to fit the constraints of filmmaking, but in the end I thought this Disney film was an enjoyable romp. I fully expect there will be a second. After a millenium of searching for the Prime Merlenium, the only wizard capable of defeating the evil Morgana (fans of The Magical Treehouse series need to avoid this movie), one of the three original apprentices to Merlin finds a candidate for the role in the guise of a young New York City boy, and after a accidental interlude of ten years, tries to mold and develop him into a sorcerer able to challenge the evil sorceress. Dave, played well by Jay Baruchel, a geeky physics student, has love issues, though. Nicholas Cage is very good as Harry Dr. . .I mean Balthazar. There is a nice homage to the famous Mickey scene in Fantasia. The special effects are constrained and not over the top, which is nice, and the humor is good. It would be really awesome if they could find a way to keep Monica Belucci on the screen longer, should there be a next time. I will let my boys see it; I think Joey (who likes fantasy) will really enjoy it.