Monday, April 24, 2006

Why I love The Crown

The Crown: Ascension


I am a sucker for a story with a flying man in it

If you can convince me that a man can fly, I am signing up to be entertained for however long you have to entertain me.

While everyone was complaining about the second Matrix I left the theater with only one scene in my mind:

Neo rocketing from the Architect, catching cars and other debris in his wake as he tore through the city to save his boo.

What does that have to do with The Crown: Ascension?

One thing,

There is a flying man in it

But I didnt know that when I purchased it

I purchased it from Amazon a while ago because I am a fan Of Hannibal Tabu and his other Web Serial Faraway.

I was enamored when it arrived.

It took a few weeks before I could sit down and read it.

I cracked it open in a diner while waiting for my eggs on Sunday.

I did not put it down for the rest of the day. I read until 3 am just to finish it

I was thoroughly impressed.

The Plot: Theres this woman named Tonya who stopped aging at twenty. If you are lucky enough for her to fall in love with you then somehow her love passes super powers to you, and you can run super fast, lift heavy stuff, and best of all, you can FLY.

James is the lucky SOB who gets to fall in love with Tonya, and they unravel her past while kicking butt and taking names of forces that have plagues Tonya for years.

It is hard to discuss this book without gushing or telling you all the stuff to look out for. I will begin with the dialogue, it is solid, and the characters seem real. James is the everyman with a cool demeanor and a sense of humor. He wants to protect his woman despite her long lifespan and tendency to whip out magical spells and techno wizardry.

The situations are of course fantastic, in that, he keeps flying around the room sort of way which is why I love it so much. And they fight Yakuza for mystical objects, and there is a woman made of hair and I cant even get started on Damien Dare, who you will loathe, and love when you meet him. He is the other immortal who is a thorn in Tonya and James side and he is the most enigmatic bastard you will read about all year.

An intelligent piece of fiction with imaginative scenarios dripping with the type of verisimilitude that only nights of research can provide. Hannibal took time to craft this work and it shows in the page. It is a quick read, full of zeal and panache. The characters are earthy and realistic. The world of Tonya and James is inhabited by eclectic people with multiple motivations and fantastic designs that at times Tonya and James are the catalyst for, and other times they are simply along for the ride.

The book isnt for everyone, I mean, I would not suggest it to my mother, who just wouldnt get into the whole flying man thing, but everyone who sees flicks with me and listens to me when I talk television shows should pick this bad boy up.

For those who know and love the Sci-fi, Action movies, Kung Fu, espionage, secret societies, and mythical tales should definitely stop to read the book.

I would say that you would borrow it but I want you to go to and buy it So Hannibal will get the cash, and then he will be compelled to slow down the Karaoke and write more.

I can not say how much I loved this book enough.

Did I mention that James flies?

Did I mention the part about him punching through the roof of a building at 900 mph like a human missile?

Did I mention Tonya is an immortal who also kicks major butt?

You will see more of that in book two where they hunt down some fanatic immortal hunters who want them dead.

I cant even begin to tell you how much I am in love with this book.

How much I know you will love it too.

It is a great read, more than worth the 13 bucks they charge you over at Amazon.

Support the guy, buy the book, and enjoy the beauty that is The Crown: Ascension.

Saturday, April 22, 2006

The Legend of Zorro

I saw The Legend of Zorro last night.
I didn’t hate it, I didn’t love it like I did the first one.

It struck me as a movie I might sit and watch if I was cleaning the house on a Saturday, which is a compliment. I discovered the original Zorro television show much in the same way. When I was a kid it would play on I believe what is now the WB and soon to be the CW. I would watch the series and revel at the daring swordplay and the manipulations De la Vega had to go through to maintain his secret identity.

I will not say that I am as well versed in the Zorro Mythos, but I appreciated the show, and some of the movies. I know that it has its place in the public consciousness. I am a sucker for a movie where people settle differences with swords.

Watching the Legend of Zorro was a bit of a let down. To sum up the plot, Antonio Banderas as Zorro is still defending the west while a French bad guy steals his wife, the spirited Catherine Zeta Jones. There are several narrative missteps that are necessary for this threadbare plot. Zorro is madly in love with his wife but he does not talk to her for three months after being suddenly served with divorce papers. Zorro being the man of action that he is I would have expected him to knock down the doors of his home to have it out with his wife and refuse to let her leave him.

There are action sequences that go a little too long, and try a little too hard to be daring. What I used to love about the old shows was their cheapness. I long for the movie in the swashbuckler genre that understands what is really at stake. Make Zorro a living breathing man who falls when he gets punched.

Take this one scene in the movie, Mrs. Zeta Jones is being followed by two men and engages them in a quick tussle. After hitting the two repeatedly with a shovel, in a series of moves that was excellently choreographed I will add, they point a derringer at her and the fight is over.

Now, I will say, I am not a secret Pinkerton Agent with an agenda to save the world from destruction by outside forces. I can say that I have been punched in the face with a pillow, and that will stun a man if it comes unexpectedly. The ease with which these men recover from several blows with a shovel amazes me and takes me totally out of the moment.

I am reminded of the horrible movie, The Musketeer. This movie is filled to the jowls with amazing action sequences that just look as though they were filmed on a studio lot covered with little Asian men pulling wires. (It was choreographed by the Wire Work Pioneer that choreographed The Matrix movies and crouching Tiger. In the story Dartagnan balances on rolling beams and flips through the air with death defying precision. The movie completely threw out the plot of the novel and instead filled it with useless explosions and 5 times more action sequences than even the daring Dumas could have envisioned. Later remind me to rend the movie to shreds as I am an avid fan of the Musketeer novels and movies when done correctly.

I am a fan of a well placed flip maneuver, crap Zorro did them every five minutes and there was a part of me that smiled with glee when I saw it. But man, at a point I just remember that a man can not go flipping through the air while fighting on a moving train. It would just not make any tactical sense.

I guess I should say what I am looking for,

Some where along the way Hollywood got lost in all the fight choreography and started thinking it was okay to have two people punch each other for hours on end while neither shows a bruise until the final crushing blow.

I am reminded of the second Matrix movie where, despite the fact that Neo is kicking Agent Smiths about the yard they all keep their stupid glasses on. This is markedly different than the first Matrix movie where, when Keanu lands a blow on Smith, his glasses crack in half.

My thing is getting punched hurts, I know, because I hate to get punched.
I guess I am thinking of old Bruce Lee flicks when he would kick a man and the guy fell and you thought, “Man, I know that had to hurt.” Everyone always forgot that Bruce wasn’t “really” fighting these people. I am reminded of the movie Ong Bak, where the guy steps into the ring for the first time and drops his opponent with one well placed blow. And I thought, yeah, that is how it would go. In a real fight a man hits you in the throat and you don’t want to fight anymore. Very few people are trained pugilists that are aware of their threshold enough to keep lunging at someone who is obviously raining them with hooks.

With a movie like Zorro, I wanted to see that. I didn’t need explosions, I wanted sword fights where one man gets cut and falls down bleeding. Why can’t people get cut in sword fights anymore? That is what happens, you fight a man with a sword and he runs you through like a pig on a spit. And occasionally Zorro will punch a man and the man falls down and reconsiders that whole fighting Zorro thing.

So, the movie is a B- at best. Banderas makes a good scorned lover, and Zeta Jones plays a good fighting mother. One thing I do not think the movie needed was precocious kid who adores Zorro without knowing that the man is secretly the father he loathes. It has been done, and it is not mishandled in the movie. I was more upset at all the obviously stunt manned action sequences the kid got. This kid, raised as an aristocrat was ready to throw down with anyone performing acrobatics and master sword parries. They could easily have filled this hole in the characterization by having Zorro teach his son now to fight, or giving him a good trainer, like he got in the last movie. Sadly you assume that the young boy just happened to pick up his father’s natural talent. It was a made for kids maneuver that bothers me because there is a way to make kids that don’t patronize the kids. I get the feeling that this movie was cribbed from studio notes that insisted there be more of everything but ultimately begins to lack in anything of substance.
The move takes clichĂ©d plot points, like the dirty cowboy who tries to steal a land dead, and does nothing to raise it above anything we have seen before. Zorro arrives, saves wife and child from a burning building only to have the upstanding husband die. Zorro watches the killer ride off but never goes after him. I am left to wonder why he wouldn’t.
The Zorro I know has the fastest horse in the west and would chase the man to the end of the frontier. Instead Zorro stands emasculated while the now widowed woman cries over the corpse of her hubby.
A good point was the next scene where a tortured Zorro finds himself in the chapel yelling at the virgin mother trying to figure out what why he is being punished so. The next moment where Zorro is on his knees praying for strength to fight harder is one I appreciated. That is the Zorro I can love, not angst ridden likeBatman but devoted and passionate adventurer who knows when to pray for the strength to protect his family and his country.

What follows is a lovely scene where Zorro and his wife meet up and fight their way through the bad guy’s hideout and discover his nefarious scheme.

There are times where I like the movie, and times were I am annoyed that it is trying to rush me past the plot holes. The movie is having fun, and it is often genuine. Zorro is a hero who is not afraid to laugh, cry or love with passion and zeal. Tapping more into this humanity would have really elevated the flick.

All in all I would mildly recommend it for a Saturday afternoon viewing if you like popcorn action flicks.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Dragon's Lair

I lost so many quarters to this game

Monday, April 10, 2006

The Woman I love

The Woman I love
Nicole @ Center for Non-Violence Tour (2)Nicole @ Center for Non-Violence Tour (1)Nicole @ AllynsNicole headshot1

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

24: WTF?!?


Just watched 24
A show I try to avoid if I miss any episodes: what’s the point? But I can’t. It owns me 15 minutes in and kicks me out the bed at the end of the hour
Tonight, you find out who is the someone who had President Palmer killed in episode one, and Jack is trying to figure out who,
At the end the new main bad guy is talking to someone, some one you know is high up.
The camera pulls back and you see the president
The guy who only became president when terrorist killed last year’s president
The milquetoast guy who can’t make decisions to save his life
Suddenly he’s Moriarty in this web of deceit
I have to say it surprised me
And I’m not so sure I believe it
But damn did it blow my mind

Monday, April 03, 2006

The Return of the Sopranos

I was skeptic about the return of the Sopranos this year. I was sure that the show was going to either start slow, or start hard. I got a little of both. The first episode of the season seemed like a flip through a photo album. All the characters are posing, and standing in the old spots and it is like snapshots were being taken of their lives to catch us up to where we are now.
And then Tony gets capped by Uncle Junior at the end of the episode and it goes in a different direction.
Aside: I saw someone mention it online, cut I considered it too: if they say that this season did not happen because Tony never emerged from the coma then I am going to drive to California or wherever and kick David chase in the man bag for pulling the Rosanne ending.
Anyway, Tony spends two episodes in a coma and the cast gets to weep and strut acting chops as Tony plays himself but not himself in a dream sequence. The dream was getting on my nerves, as they always do in the Sopranos because, although I love tripped out visuals, I really showed up to see somebody get shot or punched in the eye.
Last night was Tony officially out of the coma, and I have to say it came at a good time because I was ready to chalk up the season like I did with Desperate housewives a long time ago (I can’t stand a show where all the characters are that unlikable, and create their own drama. I really only started watching it because of my crush on Eva Menendes but her character being so shallow and manipulative turned me off to the whole thing. I mean, I will still sleep with her if given the chance, but I will sneak out after with pictures in my camera phone and promptly delete her number. And yes, I know I will never get the chance.)
So Tony is out of the coma and handling business, and the gang is all there. Paully finds out his mother isn’t his Ma, and he gets all down in the dumps. He ends up doing something at the end of the episode that makes sense for the character and the situation but makes me hate him all the same.
Somewhere along the way I realized that these are bad people, who do bad things. I am developing this moral barometer of fictional characters that says if I wouldn’t want you doing that to me, I definitely don’t want you doing that to anyone else. So I stop liking the character, and I start to slowly cash out on the show. I have no idea where this sense of morality is coming from.
So Tony is back, and he is handling his crew, and I like the show again. Carmella tells him about a package, and to watch Vito, and I love her, even if she is worried about not loving Tony.
There is a moment where Tony is talking about how insignificant human beings are in the evolution of the planet and Christopher looks at him in disbelief and says “I don’t feel that way.” It is a brilliant piece of writing. Tony, post coma is having a bit of an existential crisis, he can’t figure out who he wants to be now that he has a second chance at life. He is trying to find his significance in the world. In that one line Christopher basically says it is a question he has never considered. Well done Mr. Chase
Tony has this conversation with a rocket scientist about atoms and quantum theory. At that point the FiancĂ© turns to me and says: “have these people been talking to you?” and I smile, and wish they had, but realize that we must be sharing the same ideaspace, or we all have “what the Bleep” on our list at blockbuster because the show is taking this very quantum turn in the narrative,
And I love it.
And I am glad to get a chance to see it
And I can’t wait to see how it ends.
Every time they show the preview cut for next week I get this giddy feeling like “I want to see that NOW!”
And I like that sense of anticipation.
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