Tuesday, December 27, 2016

2016 Can Get Gone....

On Christmas day, a bit of sadness passed into our lives when George Micheal died. I didn't realize he was that young, so this struck me as a little crazy. George was part of my maturation, the period where I went from awkward kid to, um...awkward man-child? More than a few of his songs I can still sing from heart even though I know it's been five or ten years since I heard them. He resonated, which is something you don't see much of in this instant gratification entertainment culture we live in today. The man could sing.

Careless whisper, of a good friend...

And just as I get ready to properly eulogize him....

Carrie Fisher dies. I knew about the heart attack, but I just knew she'd pull through. Damn, I'm a middle aged black man, but Carrie Fisher was Princess Leia and as a kid that gold bikini talked to me. As much as people decry that women can't be strong on film, we met Princess Leia on a secret mission where she stared down one of the baddest villains ever created, then minutes after the 'heroes' arrived SHE TOOK CHARGE OF HER OWN DAMN RESCUE. As we say now, she could do both.

Now I think that this would make a fantastic obit - so I tell my younger friends that no matter how I go, I want it reported that I drowned in moonlight, strangled by my own bra.”
― Carrie Fisher, Wishful Drinking

2016 has just been hell on my childhood. Prince, Muhammad Ali, Alan Rickman, David Bowie, Florence Henderson, Arnold Palmer, Gene Wilder, Doris Roberts, Ron Glass, Merle Haggard, John Saunders, Craig Sager, Morley Safer and and Abe Vigoda. It's an eclectic list to be sure, but then I was raised in age before curated entertainment. I like everything because I liked it, not because it was cool.

Is this what being old feels like? Watching your childhood slowly dissolve.

Because this sucks.

I'll be happy this New Year because this damn year is over. 

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Just Musings, I guess

Ramblings Post #330
And I wonder in the dark of the night, can you still see the light, can you still be alright, can't you see I don't want to fight, etc and so on. Song lyrics man. That's the lick. That or dog grooming. Or underwater basketweaving, which I understand is big among athletes as a second career. 

I should be working on my album. The working title is 'A Million Years and fifteen minutes in the Making'

I think this is possible because I have the app Garage Band on my pad and I've actually created two or three decent songs. And I'm not talking about using the loops that come with the app and blending them, I mean I've loaded the individual instruments and plucked out the individual notes and added vocals to create actual original music. I'm no Kanye (poor, poor Kanye) but the songs I've done might qualify as jazz fusion eclectic experimental, if of course you have some tequila before you listen. And aren't really paying attention. It could happen.

This comes up because as I keep procrastinating about finishing this book that's almost done, and gearing up for this certification in January (I'm studying more than I'm writing) I keep looking for the right music to listen to while I study....er, write.

Anyway, last night as I flipped through white papers and the study materials I stumbled upon radio.garden, a website that lets you tune into radio stations around the world. And I tooled about listening to stations in Latvia and Rome, popping into London and then down to Marrakesh where it was bumping. I find it interesting just how much American music is listened to around the world, even in countries where the DJs don't speak English. When I look at it like that, I can see how some are terrified of the cultural influence this little piece of North America. But this isn't a political screed, this is just listening to music from Iran, Beijing and Spain and hearing the same songs.

Back to my album, which I'm now inspired to create and put on soundcloud. I'm going to make that my February project, after this certification. And the book.
Now, I guess, it seems more real, because who knows, maybe I'll even hear it on the radio somewhere. Probably not.

Barkeep. I heard about this drink they make in Norway on the radio. You got any Yak milk? You do? Then you'll need a bull horn, some Svedka vodka, a boiled egg....

Monday, December 12, 2016

Yeah, We still Dem Boys..

Ramblings Post #329
I would like to thank the fair weather fans for their brief stay, and wish them well wherever they land. Git, and don't let the door hit you where the good lord split you! And I would like to remind everyone that we've already punched our playoff ticket, and while I'd love home field as long as we get there and win one I'll feel good about this year. 

After an epic run, the Cowboys have finally lost a game. To them damn NY Giants. I would have preferred Minnesota, but you take what you can get. And now you're saying, whut?

Contrary to the hopes of other Cowboy fans, I wasn't hoping for a run of the table and a one loss season heading into the second season. This is a young team, lead by a rookie, playing wide open get at you football. They'd beat the Ravens with the best defense in football and the Steelers with a last second drive. Their only loss was practically a fluke, with it being blamed on a single player trying to do too much. And as good as they've been, these wins haven't been knock you down and walk away laughing wins, but battles in the trenches that only looked easy in retrospect. 

The Cowboys needed a team loss, where they just didn't execute  and played bad before they got into the one and done shoot-out that is the playoffs. The offense has played badly but still found a way to win, so the team needed loss to get their minds right that they aren't invincible, and what is required for the rest of journey is a new level of commitment  that may not have been needed before or could have been excused from time to time.  And I don't mean this just for Dak and Zeke, who seem surprisingly mature for the little bit of time they've been in the league, but also for the coaches who didn't want to stay creative and appeared to only dabble in play design when it was convenient. I put most of this loss on them: the coaches.

What I really don't want is Dak to end up like RGIII, a phenom in his first season who faded as soon as opposing teams figured him out. And while Dak is consistent, the coaches really haven't gotten creative in the play calling for him with rare exception. Which means other teams who previously had no film now can see what he does, and see that he does it all the damn time. Which is bad. 

Are the Cowboys a Superbowl contender this year? Hell yeah. If they stay healthy and get their minds right.  Will be easy? If it was easy it wouldn't be the NFL. The remaining games are winnable, with I think Tampa Bay and Philadelphia being the more likely and Detroit being a struggle. Two of three wins or one win and a loss by the Giants (who also plays Detroit) means a lock for the division and home field. But it's not over yet. There is still a lot of football to play, and the 'boys have had penchant in the past of pulling defeat from the jaws of victory, but this year I think 'we in there'. And all signs point to that being the case for a while. 

So, take the loss as a reality check. Head back to Jerryworld and let's dig down and see what we're made of. Okay?

How 'bout them Cowboys!

Barkeep. Tequila shots for everybody. I got a good feeling about dem Boys!

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Go WestWorld young man...

Ramblings Post #328
Good TV is hard to find. Don't get me wrong, there is some good stuff out there, but finding good stuff I actually want to watch is another. And since I've got other irons in the fire, sitting down for an hour to watch something , followed by the hour it takes me to get back into other thing mode, means I try not to sit down for that hour. Only so many hours in a day, and if I spend a good bit of it on TV, well, you see how that goes? So, good watchable TV is hard to find. And NO, I don't use on-demand. That would be worse. 

I just finished watching Westworld and now I'm mad. Partially because the story won't pick up again because the producers A) have other jobs and B) haven't written the script yet and partially because this has turned into a mystery show, where I'm supposed to watch four or five times making notes to get it all. At least there aren't secret messages embedded in the background I need to decode. Now, as much as we have lamented situations where we already knew the story ( i.e., Game of Thrones), it did mean that the production could move along without hiccups. But then we didn't have fresh well written stories, so the there is a trade-off here. Although a 16-month plus delay seems a little much if the program was designed from it's inception to be multi-year. Looking at you producers and HBO.

So, what did we learn from this season? Spoilers here, but you should have seen it by now. William and the Man in Black were the same guy in different timelines, but we knew that. Hopefully Logan was the critical failure 30 years ago. Delores is Wyatt. We got the master Ford giving one last fuck you to the Board with a circus of death as his new narrative. And it turns out Ford wasn't the bad guy. We found out that there is a Park 1 (Which may or may not be Westworld), which gives rise the idea of Park 2, Park 3 and so on. Some of the hosts are finally conscious, now in episode 10, and the maze really wasn't for the guests, but for the hosts to navigate. And finally, supposedly this was all just a prequel to the 'real story', which I understand starts in Season 2. Pfft.

Smashing. Not quite Lost, which just seemed to generate questions for questions sake, but still intriguing. Still, I have a few questions that I'm probably going to find the answers to on Reddit, but I'll post them here first just because I can. 

■ What was Ford building in the park? 

Theresa complained earlier that the mad master was using up a crap load of resources on his new narrative. But Ford's master plan included him not being there, and killing the board wouldn't have used up a quarter of the park. So what exactly was he building? A giant fort for when the people outside (police, government, etc.) come to take back the park? A new city for the hosts to inhabit? A facility to build more hosts, maybe a host army or even a replacement board ? I want to know! 

■ When can we visit Shogun World?

As the wacko duo blazed down through the corporate offices, they passed through SW, what I'm calling Shogun World. When can we go there? And why is it based specifically there, inside Westworld? I ask that becasue the Mesa HQ isn't centrally located, Sweetwater is. But HQ has to be close enough for the nightly swap outs. And no, I don't believe its located near Pariah, despite one theory. But it isn't anywhere near an edge, to join with a new space, so why locate the Shogun display there? Is it not ready yet? 

■ How much jail time should Felix get? 

The idea that Felix would get away with helping Mauve is absurd. There are witnesses, the people in the offices, who can place him with the rampaging hosts. Although I'm certain Ford hid their tinkering in the system when he allowed the Mauve augmentation and killed most of the video when he designed her escape, the wacko duo he was traveling with must have killed at least a dozen people, something that can't be hidden. Unless Ford planned to kill every human in the Park, anyway. Okay, I just didn't like Felix. At all. The proper term is 'simp.' 

Now, if Hopkins decides not to return, and it seems likely, could/would they re-cast and have his character return as a host...only much younger? Oooh, now there is intrigue. 

Good show. A little ponderous at times, and at others a little more mysterious than it ever had to be. A good story is a good story, it doesn't need tricks. So here's to hoping this doesn't become a trick show, one after the other, just a good show. 

Barkeep. A whiskey and soda. I'm just moseying around tonight.

Monday, December 5, 2016

So, where you been?

Ramblings Post #327
Take a walk. A long slow walk from your home, from your phone, from the world really, the creature comforts and connectivity you know and look at who you really are. Look at yourself, without your friends or family, without your spouse or child, without your job or home. Imagine you're alone in the world and all you have to do is choose. If you don't choose to go back, then you have a problem. If you do choose to go back, then ask yourself what are taking back that is so valuable? When you know, it's time to head back. 

I haven't been updating this recently, much to my personal chagrin, because I got other stuff on my plate so to speak. I've been working, hustling if you will, to actually get some stuff done. Some of it personal, some of it professional, all of it worth my time. Even though the cattle drive I'm on doesn't seem to want to end, that's a good thing, but I'm carving out some time to get myself situated for better things.  

Although I've been writing a book for forever - No, not that one, the other one. No the other other one. Yeah, I know. So, in an effort to better myself I decided to do a kind of writer boot camp, and challenged myself by signing up for National Write a Novel Month. The goal was to write 50,000 words in 30 days, thus producing a short novel. It turns out the Great Gatsby is roughly just that long so idea makes sense, and 50,000 words is just a little less than 1,700 words per day. This should be doable was my thinking. So, I drew up an outline and on November 1st got started. That would be about where I left you with the exception of noting the new national nightmare.

I was good for a while, steadily working at it. Had a few makeup days where I needed 3,000 and 4,000 words, but in the end I did learn some things which were invaluable. And although I had to pull together roughly 8,000 words in those last three days, I made it over 51,000 with about 30 minutes to spare. Which when I looked at it, is about as many words as I've written on my two previous works in the past 18 months! So there's that. I've discovered I need to work faster. This new work isn't quite done yet though, still a few parts to fill in but I'll finally have something I haven't had in a long time: A completed first draft. Then I'll let it sit until after the second thing I've been working on. 

That second thing is a new certification, which sounds weird in my line of work. But I've talked to some colleagues and been to a few seminars, and it looks promising. So, now I'm looking at study material with an arched eyebrow. My current problem with this whole thing is the material looks so...inadequate. I kept thinking that the books I ordered would be larger and more substantial. And the test questions they all have appear to be so ...obvious
I want to say I already know most of this stuff. And you know what happens when you start thinking things like that? I get to the test and everything will look like it was written in German. Call it paranoia, call it looking for ghosts where there aren't any, but it's that little voice some where saying  DO MORE! So, even though I've got a good nut of material, I'm still seeking out more. 
I can't keep doing what was doing and expecting different results. 

New year, new me. 

Barkeep. A sparkling water please. With a bourbon chaser. What? Baby steps.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Well, that happened.

This is a political post. 

I'm stunned. Still. In one swoop of apathy and lack of scope, this happened. Well, damn.
First, if you are a pundit, please turn in your press credentials, your notepad and your crystal ball. We thank you for your time and your service but you know nothing. Nothing. Nada. Zilch.

Because up until last night the conventional wisdom was an openly racist billionaire with multiple bankruptcies and a pending rape case who openly called for violence against his opponents and employed no ground team and no ad buys couldn't win a national election. But this election has proved that conventional wisdom is utter rubbish. Apparently the world is always in flux and all that any of us were ever doing is guessing. 

Eight months ago the big story was the disarray the Republican Party was in, and how it was soon going to be impossible for them to win nationally. In reality, the story should have been the Democratic party and it's less than democratic anointing of a chosen candidate. So pundits, we're done with you. It was a nice run, but we have no more need for this type of "filter bubble" reporting. Here's a lovely gold Casio watch and coupon for extra sprinkles at Dunkin Dounts. 

Because I was actively not paying attention it was only within the past few days, after reading an article I can't find right now, that I realized what central theory Clinton's campaign was organized around. Looking at my own scribblings from just 24 hours ago I can see that I apparently bought into it as well:  "You need surgery. Who do you trust more: A doctor with a malpractice suit against them, or the Manager of your favorite fast food place?" And what strikes me as odd is that it type thinking appears to based on an discredited theory of Ayn Rand, just a tweak away from one formerly embraced by the Republican party elites. This alone should have made it suspect. 

Clinton's campaign, the thrust of it and the memes of it, were based in the idea of meritocracy, the idea that the one who is most meritorious, most educated, best equipped should be the one to lead.  It sounds great on paper, but it's essentially Rand's Rational Choice Theory but with a trail of bona fides as a supplemental. And Rand's theory was hokum because it discounted that emotional tendencies continually bleed through most of our decisions.  

In essence, Clinton felt because she had a fantastic resume, if her interview was just so-so it didn't matter: She was the most qualified candidate. Not the best, the most qualified.  By contrast her opponent had a terrible resume, but his interview was so good the interviewer took him out for a beer afterwards. There is more to leadership and getting elected than merit. Clinton had an inability to invoke deep seated feelings outside the cabal of Democratic elite, who essentially anointed her in 2008 and hung onto that choice into the now. Clinton just didn't excite people, she brought no energy, and much like in 2008 just assumed she was going to win. She presented as the inevitable. It turned out we weren't with her because we wanted to be, but because we had to be. And it showed at the polls. 

*Deep, sad sigh*

With all that said, let's do a quick rundown of where we'll stand in say, a year from now - 

√ The Affordable Healthcare Act will be overturned and replaced by...nothing? Or maybe block grants to the states which in turn won't squander the money because there is like no corruption at the state level. 

√ Corporate taxes are going to be cut to boost job creation and the economy, despite the theory failing to work in Wisconsin and Kentucky. 

√ The military budget is about get a boost. 

√ These will cause the deficit to explode because we'll be taking in less and spending lots more, but because suddenly deficits won't matter anymore, because the Republicans are in charge.

√ The Department of Justice will cease to investigate officer related shootings or even be interested in pursuing them. The SEC, already weak, is about to become completely toothless.

√ The Supreme Court will on it's way to being right-wing conservative to an extreme for the next 30 years or so. Such a lock they might even try to repeal Roe v. Wade.

√ More militarization of the local police. 

√ The Voting Rights act will be completely dismantled if not completely repealed, and emboldened by the success of their previous efforts the prospect of voter registration purges under the guise of protecting the integrity of the vote will become more commonplace. 

√ The Dream Act will be eviscerated 

√ Any type of Affirmative Action may be removed from all aspects of life. Damn a diversity hire.

√ The Post Office may close. All of them. Seriously. 

√ Regulations that protect us from ourselves are about to go the way of the dodo. Because it's not about us its about profit. Profit now rules. 

And finally, and most depressing, the Republican Party is about to go to work overtime to reduce Obama's legacy to that of a political footnote at best, and his memory to that of painting in a museum. The plaque might even just read "This black guy was in charge for a while. Nothing happened." It will be as if the last eight years were but a dream.

But hey, there is work in Arizona! We got a wall to build. 

Damn, damn, damn. 

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Is it over? Tomorrow? See ya tomorrow then...

This is a political post. 

I'm not sure what will happen by tomorrow. If the Second Civil war has started, meet me at the spot we talked about that time, and bring some bait. If not, I think the only thing I'll be happy with that the damn ads are over. I was just so damn tired.

If you were hoping for scintillating commentary this time around, I'm sorry. I'm working on a certification,  the "ranch" where I'm working never seems to run out of cattle, and I like to do this little thing called sleep every now and then. And occasionally, from time to time, I even leave the house. But I digress.

This political circus for me was best summed up in one...tweet? Instagram? I don't remember, but it went something like this:

You need surgery. Who do you trust more: A doctor with a malpractice suit against them, or the Manager of your favorite fast food place?

Hillary isn't perfect, but who is? They've been after her for years and haven't been able to catch her, so if nothing else it speaks to her intelligence and craftiness. But her opponent is so unsophisticated and unprepared, that very thing he swears he's an expert at and will get going again, the economy and Wall Street, lurches in fear at the idea of him as the Commander-in-Chief. I know a lot of people think he's the answer, or at least a brick through the window of the people who got us here, but Trump isn't who they envision him to be. He's who he says he is. And who he says he is is a person not really ready to President.

That's all I got this political season. Now I got stuff to do.

Hope the world is still here next week.  

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Cubs Win!

Ramblings Post #326
I follow sports. I follow basketball, football, baseball, soccer, tennis, rugby, curling, cycling, NASCAR, surfing, gymnastics, track, bowling, and whatever else ESPN puts on when I'm not paying attention. I can find something about it I like and will watch fascinated. Except hockey. Blue line, five hole, dude, I just get so confused.

I watched WGN as a kid, so I know the Cubs story. But sadly when I was in Chicago I did not visit Wrigley Field. It was the end of the fall heading into winter when I got there, and by the time the season was starting back up again I was already headed back for warmer climes. (Note: Do not move north in the winter, you will get the wrong impression).

I watched parts of the series. Okay, watching a lot of baseball is dull. Playing cool, watching is a study in patience. But finally, the Cubs, after 108 years win it all. But the real reason I'm happy the Cubs won? It made this man happy.

Bill Murray. National Treasure.

Barkeep, One for me, and one for my old pal Mr. Murray.

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Art from the Black Hand Side

Ramblings Post #325
Sometimes there are things I like because, well I like them. I don't know why I just do. Like maps. And floor plans. When I was younger I wanted to be an architect because it involved floor plans. Until I realized you didn't just get to look at them, you had to make them. Um, right. You see I'm not an architect now, right?   

By Marcus Williams aka Marcus the Visual
When I was looking to buy that other house, and happier times had plans for the bar/club setup in the basement, hot tub on the back deck and out door setup for neighborhood move screenings (AKA the long, long ago), part of the whole thing was an art gallery. Prints from local Atlanta artists hanging on the wall kinda stuff. And prints I would buy online. And maps blown up for detail. And floor plans. And...I'm getting off track here.

Art can tell stories.I judge a comic or graphic novel on how good or intriguing the art is. Bad art can destroy the illusion. But those people I like? Damn. And I like this guy. 

By Marcus Williams aka Marcus the Visual
These are for an online drawing challenge where the artist is supposed to flip the gender of the character. I looked at a few them and I think he's the best of the group that participated. That I just really like his drawing style.

By Marcus Williams aka Marcus the Visual
Either that or I just appreciated that the characters he chose were black. But hey, we like what we like. Should I ever finish one of these damn stories I'm writing, and it comes down to it, I might even have to look into a commission. This is good stuff. So good I had to drop back by.

By Marcus Williams aka Marcus the Visual
Barkeep. Let me have something mellow, with just a twist of spark to it. Or bourbon. You know what, I'll just have the bourbon with soda. Thanks.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Where have I been? (Thoretically speaking, ya know)

Ramblings Post #324
It is what it was, because what its gonna be ain't come yet, until you do what you gotta do, and all you got is what you have. So just go get it done already. Damn. 

Until I need it again.
If you read this regularly, (and you probably don't)  you may be asking yourself where is all the witty dialogue and commentary on the modern election? I was so good last time I must be itching to get at the reins again. And this contest is just so rich with things to tear into. Or why not praise MY newly rejuvenated Dallas Cowboys, who are rolling this season with Dak Prescott at the reins? As much as I think of the guy, I think Tony has taken his last snap, at least with a star on his helmet. Or comment on the shows I've been watching, asking questions about the modern mystery sci-fi hybrid Westworld? So many questions, but it's only episode two, so I'll try to be patient. Or my impressions on Issa Rae's HBO debut with Insecure? It's a we'll see for now. Or how Parker messed his big film coming out in Birth of a Nation? We got different rules now bruh, catch up. Or explaining the prep for new project - a novel in thirty days with the National Write A Novel In Thirty Days Event happening in November? Stopping one to write another is bad, but I need to get my daily writing numbers up and this is how I'm going to do it.

No updates on Schmoopy, Spanky, Serve or Sporty. Nothing about my old running Partner's wedding that I attended.  The career direction I've re-oriented myself to as the time passes and it seems I'm not progressing at the speed I had hoped. (For the last one, it's the Sharperson method:  If the game plan isn't working like you expected, you make adjustments - keep a back in to block, slide the linebackers out, change the coverage, do something!) Hurricanes, lunch monotony, college football, Atlanta gentrification, Big Papi's retirement, chicken wings, comic books, Samsung phones, or any of the restaurants I've breezed through as of late.

Why? Am I tired of updating my life to strangers? Or more aptly tired of screaming into the darkness? Or is it that maybe I just have nothing else to say?

None of these are true. I'm just in a different space right now. And now, because I'm doing five or six things at once, things come in bursts. Little mental storms of creativity where things just pour out. Those half finished posts I used to sketch out at lunch no longer get the full treatment. It's weird. I got other stuff I got to get out first.

But this too shall pass. Turn the faucet on full blast for a while. Just not right this minute.

Barkeep. Water. Ice. Lemon. And a quiet song because I got a busy week to go.  

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Then cometh the rain

Ramblings Post #323
Sometimes the words get muddled. The milk sours. And in those moments where the storm pounds down upon our heads, we can only see the rain and hear the thunder and for a brief instant, we are horrified that maybe it will go on forever. But it can't. It won't. My grandfather once said that if you get caught in a storm you keep moving. Because the storm can't last forever. But this isn't about a grand teaching parable that will guide us in those moments of despair. This is about traffic in the rain in Atlanta. But this sounds like it's leading to something so epic, didn't it?

What is it about Atlanta traffic?

Leaving the office today.

In the parking garage, there is a line to leave. Inside the garage. I get up, swipe my pass, and get through the gate, and the driveway to the street is full. The short street that dead ends into the major thoroughfare, at which we all have to turn right on, is bumper to bumper across all four lanes. I need to get on that street, get across all four of those lanes, and make an immediate left at the light....all in the space of what, forty yards? My usual thing is to make a left drive out of the garage, drive to the other end of the block and make two rights to get onto said major thoroughfare whereupon switching lanes becomes easier. Smart, right?

The car in front of me, and the six or seven cars between it and the end of the street all are determined to make that right onto the major thoroughfare right here. So we wait for a good Samaritan to let the first driver in. Then another, and another...just so the congestion right out of the garage clears. Five minutes.

I make the left, and at the first intersection before the end of the block going away from traffic is...a standstill. Not inching along, I mean gridlock. For another five minutes. Then we move, a little, the bus in front of me is letting off people even though there is no stop. Rain is pouring, another five minutes. Edge along a little as cars getting out two different other garages ease into gridlock. Pull up a little further and ...there are three cars sitting in traffic with their blinkers on. Waiting. I only wish they were broken down.

At the intersection pedestrians have the right of way, and most of them shuffle along like they haven't a care in the world and it's not pouring buckets of agua from the sky. Guy in front of me can't make a left turn, won't even ease out, even after traffic abates for a brief fifteen second count. (Seriously, I counted.) He finally makes the turn when someone is halfway through the crosswalk. I make the FIRST right turn, and for a brief moment my car is going faster than 2 mph. Wooooo!

Next light, next right and suddenly we're stopped again. I turned wide, because I could, and now I'm in the third lane over and have just one more to go. I see the people to my right - lanes one and two, easing up, why are we stopped? Someone else trying for the fourth lane has decided they need to get over NOW, in the middle of the block. We wait behind because we forgot to mount lasers on our hoods. He gets over, gets to the end of the block...and keeps going straight. So why did he have to get over right then?

I finally get back to the front of my building. I glance at the clock in my car. Twenty five minutes have passed and I'm literally right in front of my building. Make the left, miss the bus which is hanging across three lanes, pull in and up the hill. And why is this guy driving so slowly? The lanes headed the other way are bumper to bumper. The way we are going is clear. Why is he doing twenty? Intersection, we're right next to one another. And there is a truck trying to join the bumper to bumper traffic and lo and behold he's in my lane, broadside, when the light turns green. Oh joy.

He finally joins traffic and I press on, oddly catching the slowpoke two lights later where he's just getting to the intersection. And the worst part is I'm not even at the bad intersection yet.

If only Marta was worth a damn.

Barkeep. You have no idea.

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Turning up the color on my TV

Ramblings Post #322
I am of the opinion that what I am doing now is preparing for the next stage in life. In that stage a lot of the trivial things that cause us needless anxiety will be be banished to the far edges of my periphery, and my concerns, although esoteric, will be much more palatable. This is a fancy way of saying in the not too distant future I want my major problem to be deciding what to have for lunch. By the way, this has absolutely nothing to do with the piece that follows. Thank you. 

So I tried to do my part and watch some television focused on people who look like me, and didn't quite make it. 

I started with Queen Sugar, a new slow drama on Oprah's network. I'm not quite sure what the deal is there, because I was only able to get through the first thirty minutes before I just couldn't sit there anymore. In that first thirty minutes we meet three of the main characters, the rich daughter in LA, the earthy daughter who sells a little weed, the son who is just desperate and the impetus of the story, the father who works as a janitor at night and still has some beautiful acreage that used to be produce a nice sugar crop.   

And in this half hour where had this Empire - someone would have gotten shot, three people would tried a hostile company takeover, the company would have been in financial peril, two albums would have dropped, an evil twin would show up and someone would have gone to prison and got out. But on the slightly more sedate Queen Sugar, I think you got a day and a half where ONE scandal broke and one store got robbed. The characters and scenes just linger, with lots of long pauses and wide shots of Bayou that make you wonder if the show is sponsored by the tourist board.

I stopped watching however, because of the little boy. The desperate son has a child named Blue, and just looking at him made me wonder if parenting isn't such a bad thing. He's that cute. And because he was such an effective little emotional tool, looking at one point just so sad because the other kids won't come to his birthday party, I couldn't watch anymore. Because this isn't a comedy where he'll have three or four smart lines an episode, this is a drama which means that child character is going to experience nothing but heartache. And since I understand the first of his many tragedies happened in the first episode, because the whole thing is based on a book about the adults teaming up to keep the farm after the father passes, I'm not really up for watching children, even just actors, go through those kind of emotions regularly on a Tuesday night. So this isn't for me.
Atlanta. via Donald Glover.
So I flipped over to FX and caught the rebroadcast of the premiere of Atlanta, Donald Glover's show about the ...um, well, it's about something.

There is something weird about Donald Glover, and I don't know what it is. Maybe I'm just old, but the show seems to move between goof ball comedy (the WET lemon pepper wings glowing inside the box) to goof ball weird (the guy on the bus demanding Glover eat a sandwich) to family drama to racial statement to police and sexuality issues (the episode Earn spends in processing) to an exploration of blackness and celebrity from the inside. Donald's character is broke, a father, a ivy league school college drop-out, his parents are tired of giving him money and just seems lost. All of which would be cool if this were an indie film, but as a weekly show leaves something to be desired. And for a show that on it's face appears to be about the nuances of a certain type of blackness*, Glover's character seems... other. Not white middle class, but some odd hybrid that certainly exists somewhere in real life, but is hard to relate to or identify with.     

I like the other characters, his cousin, the Paper Boi, who is rough, rugged and raw but also thoughtful is very interesting. Far too often a thug character is just bad, instead here is more realistically depicted as someone who becomes aware of how is actions are affecting those around him. Paper Boi's sidekick character may just be pure comedy relief, as he always feels like you're only getting half the conversation - but since the other half is strictly in his head, you're not missing what you think you are. That he sounds like Dave Chappelle and looks like he could be Chapelle's younger hungrier brother only makes it funnier. I want to comment on the woman supporting Glover's character, but we barely see enough of the baby's mother in the first two episodes to get a good feel for her, other than she is doing okay while he struggles. 

A lot of the story is quiet, but deceptive in what it shows and what we take from it. Take the scene where up with the mother of his child, who he still intimate with, only to find out she has a date that night so he'll need to watch their child. Had the positions been reversed, the guy would have been viewed with disdain. I've read other reviews, and it's taken as just a woman exploring her options because the main character is supposed to be so downtrodden. Interesting. Or the white character casually using the N-word with Donald Glover's character, but realizing that wouldn't be wise with other black people around. Little things. That aside, I think this show will live or die on just how interesting the audience finds the city of Atlanta, which is being pushed as a character in the story, much as a story about NY would emphasize how much the borough shapes it's inhabitants. There is a scene in the second episode where the guy just starts telling Glover's character his story because he just needs to tell someone, has actually happened to me. And that guy sounded just like the guy on the show  - a distinctive Southern urban patios that is as identifiable as face tattoo. But that vibe is an acquired taste. Still, a story where the hero rides the bus should always be given a chance. 

So Queen Sugar looks like it might be something, so far well written and expansive for sure, but I'm not gonna sit there and watch it every week because reasons. But I think people should see for themselves what's up with that. As far as the FX offering, as soon as I can figure out exactly what Atlanta is supposed be, I'm certain I'll enjoy it more. A quirky rap political statement comedy?  

Barkeep. I need a some wings, fries and beer. You got buffalo wing sauce? No, not medium, buffalo wing. Fine, lemon pepper then. 

*Contrary to popular belief, black people are not socially homogeneous. A black man can listen rap and appreciate Jordans, or prefer jazz and want to rope cattle on weekends. The Autobiography of Malcom X or Beowulf. We are all different, yet all black.  

Saturday, September 3, 2016

Movie Trailers. Seriously.

Ramblings #321
I am a creative. I write the stories that run through my head, with that neat program on my Ipad I pretend to make music riffs, and I have some canvas and as soon as I remember to buy that paint...and those brushes...and maybe a smock, I'm gonna paint something. Oh, and the movie. But I'm also fairly well versed in business, so I realize it's not JUST the talent, but also packaging and marketing. Which brings me to this....

Seriously, who is responsible for trailers in Hollywood? Which editor? Because I watched the whole of the new Eddie Murphy movie in 2 minutes, and while it looks very good, a little over saturated with emotional  treacle and using what looks like the old Magical Black Person trope, but still good. The trailer however under cut the entire reason for seeing it, because you can practically see the whole thing. A lot of the dramatic tension just gone.
You don't believe me? Here is what I gathered from the TWO minute trailer - A mother is dying, and her ex (or possibly just the daughter's father) arranges for Mr. Church (Murphy) to come and cook for the family. The little girl initially hates him but comes to love him. Mother slowly deteriorates. Daughter gets accepted to college and daughter hates mother for dying too soon. Mother dies. Daughter thinks her life is over as well, but Church gives her the money to go to college. She goes to college, at some point she gets pregnant and comes back to Mr. Church. Something happens, perhaps a complication or an accident, but an older Church comes to the hospital and gets her, giving her a place to stay. She defends her relationship with the older black man, one that is entirely paternalistic, by explaining to some unknown potential antagonist figure that she now knows that after the money her mother had ran out Church for some reason (possibly love) somehow supported them. Mr. Church then helps the daughter raise her own child, for which he is grateful. Mr. Church has some secret he wants no one to know about.

This is two minutes of trailer. Two minutes. See for yourself.

Explain to me why I now still have to go see this movie? I like Eddie Murphy. I've thought of him as a grand untapped dramatic talent after his terrific Oscar nominated turn in Dreamgirls, so I'm happy to see him in something that gives him a chance to stretch. But after the trailer, my entire impetus for maybe seeing this film is over. I know most of the story now, with the only mystery is what the character Church is hiding. I know the mother dies, the girl gets to go to college, she gets pregnant and has a baby, and Church doesn't die .... unless the whole thing is a flashback at Church's funeral. 

Can we please stop this? This give us all the high points deal? Unless the trailers are going have SPOILER ALERT pop up after the first thirty seconds, the idea of giving away the entire film in the trailer just seems silly. Sure, I can watch the same movie over and over, but a film that I'm seeing the first time should still have a little leeway to surprise me, some dramatic tension. I don't know this one will still be able to do that.

I will reiterate an idea I proposed some time ago: A person creating a trailer should only be allowed to use footage from the first thirty minutes of a film, with the exception of a film involving a huge battle finale needed to show scale and scope - BUT the battle footage used cannot contain any named character. If the first half of the film isn't engaging, or can't be cut so that the trailer is engaging, then perhaps the film ought not have been shot in the first place. But that's just my opinion, and I'm not really anybody.

Barkeep. Wine. I feel erudite and critical of minute details and other silly crap like that. Something Scandinavian. Yes, a Scandinavian wine. Or Boone's farm.

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Gene Wilder was....

"It's pronounced, Fronk-en-steen."

And it was then I realized that Gene Wilder was just that good. 

Gene Wilder in Young Frankenstein
I don't remember the first time I saw Young Frankenstein, but I remember it was funny. Very funny. For a while even among us black college students if someone said "Blucher" someone else was expected to whinny.  Or maybe it was just the group I hung out with. As a child from the seventies and teenager of the eighties, I just missed what might of been the last golden age of comedy. And now, as cable access and later the rise of the  internet has opened up our world, our response our comedy seems to have shrunk itself, catering more and more to a specific audience. Comedy usually comes from shared experience, and what's funny to say, someone from New York, or country fans, or "urban professionals" doesn't resonate with the rest of us like it used to. We've become niche funny in a niche world. 

But in the seventies and eighties, you had to be universally funny. Everyone had to get the joke. And Gene Wilder was genuinely funny. And the funny part of him being funny, the really funny part, is that he wasn't telling jokes. His talent was the reaction to a brilliant setup that left him with that prose taken out of context is just ordinary, but with him made funny. He was the straight man as funny. Wilder was the whole package: the writing, the timing, the looks he would give. We don't see that very much anymore. 

He will forever be remembered as Willy Wonka, that magical man and his factory that still thrills children, and former children, to this day. He was brilliant in Blazing Saddles as the Waco Kid, his turn as the aforementioned Dr. Frankenstein (pronounced Fronk-en-steen) or his turn as the accountant with a dream in The Producers with Zero Mostel. And then there is the stuff of film legend, his classic parings with Richard Pryor in Silver Streak and Stir Crazy. Pure Hollywood magic. Man but they were funny together. I hope they meet up in heaven. Well, I think Richard might be able to get day passes or something. (Richard was the greatest, but let's be real here.)
Mr. Wilder. We couldn't ask for more, and can't thank you enough. 

Monday, August 29, 2016

Five Minutes watching: The Night of...

I used to not watch a lot of movies because I didn't have a lot of time. Now I have time, and a lot of television is horrible, and Turner Classic Movies isn't always on point. So, I watch a movie or two, or five, when I'm not writing, or reading, or playing video games, or sleep. You know, I guess I really don't watch a lot of movies. Go figure. 

This is really more of a critique/recap of the the last few episodes than anything else. Spoilers ahead by the ton, so if you haven't watched the series or the finale, ready the first paragraph comeback later after you're done. If you went into this thinking there would be a definitive ending, that we would find out what happened that night, that you're going to be sorely disappointed. I both like and don't like the ending, in that while there was no "earth shattering kaboom," the story doesn't as much end, as peter out into nothing and much like life, just keeps moving.

John Stone. Attorney. photo from HBO

First, to be honest, I didn't realize it was a ninety minute finale until the first half hour was over, which eased my fear that the show was going to end with the setup of the jury returning and the the setup being a fade to black there or an abrupt cut right after the phrase "We the jury find the accused Nasir Orenthal Khan..." Don't laugh, that's a critical darling dramatic ending, and I really didn't want to see it. What I really hoped to see that was that Naz would have been found not guilty in the first twenty minutes or so, and the rest of the episode focus on the aftermath for all the characters; from the mundane wheels of justice rolling on to Freddy figuring out his next move to Naz trying to figure out what happens from here, his relationship with his family or perhaps an examination of the current culture we live in, where verdicts don't matter just public opinion. But what we got was okay. 

I enjoyed a number of things about the series, and seeing the machinations that happen behind the scenes. What particularly rung true for me in this finale was the Prosecutor's decision to keep the case going even after Det. Box turned up new evidence. This was a perfect example of what happens sometimes, in that the prosecutor isn't interested in guilt or innocence, but only who can be reasonably prosecuted. It's an imperfect system, but it's what we have, and I think seeing it onscreen might give a few people pause after living with the nobility that was Law and Order for so long. I'd like to think that most of the time that once you get the guy with the bloody knife leaving the scene, well, then you've got your guy. But you've still got to do your due diligence, which this episode and Chandra's court room tactics showed the police clearly had not done. Which brings us to Chandra.
Poor Chandra. It was fascinating watching Chandra mature, then fall apart as the episodes went on. Pulled from legal obscurity into the courtroom, it looked like she was rising to the task and would end the series a slightly less jaded version of John Stone. So it was shock when she made out with Naz in holding, me screaming loudly at the television "what are you doing!?" And it just went down hill from there. I still can't for the life of me figure out why she decided to put Naz on the stand. That you do not do this is a basic concept of criminal law class, right up there with never ask a question for which you don't already know the answer. And that after she'd made that boneheaded decision, then saw her client was unstable, she KEPT GOING WITH IT, even bringing him the drugs he needed for his fix. This was the part that was beyond belief for me. Maybe she got a little overconfident with the him testifying thing, but for such a relatively naive lawyer to take such risks with her own career is just ....I'm still lost, why exactly I don't know.  

And then, after the disaster that was Naz's testimony, and it was a disaster, Box flipped the apple cart over by using the equivalent of  what is referred to in legal terms as a "noisy exit." By getting up and walking out during Helen's closing statement, loudly and looking disgusted, he may have been communicating with the jury that even he, the detective whom they knew had helmed the case wasn't okay with all this anymore. And it wasn't an accident, because having been on the force as long as he had, Box had to know what he was doing. Subtle beast indeed.  

And then we very neatly find out why John Stone, possessor of such a capable legal mind and wise to ways of the legal jungle relegates himself to the kind of law he practices. Despite his knowledge of what needs to be done, John almost can't do it. Forced to give the closing argument, his previously vanquished eczema returns with a vengeance, brought on by the stress of being responsible for man's life with his words. It was sad to watch in a way, and it explains why he pleads out clients he knows are guilty. It lets him sleep at night. But shrewd mind that he is, he's able to work his circumstance into his closing, sounding like a exhausted warrior at the end of a long battle giving that last rousing speech before he leads those who follow into hell. Which produces the definition of an  ambiguous hung jury. I was pleasantly surprised by Helen's decision not to re-try the case. But then I remembered Helen's uncharacteristically weak close, this after her almost gleeful gutting of the defendant. It was as though both she and Box had lost the heart to finish what they'd started.  

As stark as the case looked, and as disassociated as the characters were, it was nice to see bits of humanity seep through.as these cogs of the system going out on a limb for Naz. I'm sure that's what Chandra thought she was doing (after getting used by her boss for her race), but the real care came from John Stone and oddly, Freddy the prison bully. While John first seemed just interested in Naz as a client, a big payday and perhaps as the case that might change his career trajectory, he later became a shaman of sorts. Freddy I think, actually liked Naz as a person. It was Freddy who gave Naz the shoes for the shower, tried to get him the proper color shirt for trial, the private cell, and forgave him for not snitching. You could tell that even as the big bad, Freddy needed a friend, which is what he was finding in Naz. And then realizing his friend was innocent, made the move that should have gotten  his friend a mistrial save for a persnickety judge. This actual caring made it particularly sad that Freddy couldn't say goodbye to Naz when it was all over. 


Reading the overnights, I was expecting and found the howls of anguish at how Chandra's character was underdeveloped and wasted, which I read in large part to mean that it's a sexist racist misogynistic travesty that the woman of color didn't emerge the triumphant victor. As much as the parts which baffled me - the kiss, the drugs, the putting him on the stand - seem to come out of nowhere, the idea that she was under written, a plot device or part of the background after all the screen time she had is a hell of a stretch. Yes, she was introduced as a PR prop by a grandstanding attorney, but she turned into an able lawyer learning from an veteran lawyer, felt ashamed for her client's parents whom she tried to console, put together a pretty good case and maybe over identified with the client. Then a little heady from her success in exposing the narrow mindedness of the police investigation, got a little too cocky and went a little too far. It may have been ego which did it, we'll never know, because here is the part I didn't like: that we have no idea what comes next for her like we get for all the other principals. That part I'm angry about.  
Was it a good show? Yes, I found it worth the hours invested, and the hours I spent re-watching parts of it. It was well acted, well thought out as to be purposefully muddled, and excellently done from an acting standpoint. I liked it. 

Little Things....
■ There were a lot of little moments that became things later on.  I want to go back to the first episode and see if that new suspects photo was in the frame by the bed like I think it was.

■ I don't think they showed the passage of time right. There should have been about a year between the arrest and the court date, but it looks like he got arrested in October, and the trial was in February the following year - as evidenced by the date stamp on the camera that caught Chandra getting Naz his "stuff."- Seemed a little quick, but this is dramatized for your protection.

■ In trying to figure out why Chandra kissed Nas, and I think that the writers tried to setup a rationale but failed. During the lovable scene where Stone reveals the holy grail of jurors - Young urban females - Chandra admits she's depressed because she broke up with boyfriend, and now feels alone. Stone offers some weak sympathy, but we leave it there. Now, the prep for murder trial leaves little room for socializing, so it's possible that Naz and Chandra's shared loneliness caused a lapse in judgment. I realize I'm grasping at straws here, it's not like Chandra had a complete lack of sense. And if you could think of another way to get Stone into the first chair, let me know. 

■ It may have seemed like a tossed off moment, but I think two things spurred Box to try, even at the eleventh hour to go back to see what he missed. First, it was Chandra putting him on the stand to talk about his history, the procedure he'd disregarded and all the suspects he overlooked, and second, it was the overheard conversation in the bar, about the cop who doesn't care. Box realized he was that cop, that he'd become a bored professional, and it irked him.
■ John, lose the cat. I'm a dog guy.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

What's a little Traffic between friends?

Ramblings Post #320
While the city of Atlanta contains one of the worst stretches of highway in the world that doesn't contain land mines, the rest of the city's traffic isn't really all that bad. Sure you've got your problem people on the road, but all in all if you know the proper side streets and connections you can get around pretty good. With rare exception. Or soon to be not so rare exception, if somebody doesn't do something soon. 

The Westside of Atlanta is hot right now. And by Westside I mean that tiny little bit of real estate parcels between Northside Drive and Marietta Blvd, right around the reservoir. Not to be confused with like, the actual west side of the city where all the black people live. The new restaurants, shopping, wine places, apartments are all fusing together to create that "place" feel that has been successful in Atlanta over the last decade (see Atlantic Station, Shoppes of Buckhead, Avalon.) A quick peruse of Curbed Atlanta shows that even more development is planned for this busy little corridor. So in the Westside, not on the West Side, it seems that everybody with a few million to rub together is trying to get in while the getting is good. 

Now I drive through this area pretty much everyday, as it's on the way to and from work. Note I said drive. Primarily because Atlanta has a slack public transportation system due to too many reasons to go into here, and partly because I no longer completely trust the parking lot at the Marta station on the West Side. But I digress, because right now, during the morning and afternoon rushes, the area's former livestock trails that they've paved over and pretend to be streets are filled to bursting. I get through the morass by knowing when to get in the right, left or bus lane at which particular intersection or stretch of road, having the timing down, and blind luck. A single bus, slow driver, rain or a person trying to do something silly and the whole thing goes to hell very, very quickly. 
From Google Maps, with some drawing on it...
Was a traffic study required before all this was allowed to be built up practically right on top of each other? Is one going to be required in the future for all the other things they're still trying to cram in there? Because all these sweet amenities mean nothing if the streets that connect them are designed for a quarter of the traffic. As much as this city wants to be a New York South, that namesake major city has fairly good public transportation that people actually use. Because it goes places. Atlanta is distinctly a car city.

Under current conditions, there are blind driveways leading to and from shopping, spots where a single car making a left turn means backing up traffic for a block, where I think the light timing is probably set on randomizer, and places where the parking rules for a gin joint from 1935 are the current fashion. And that's on a Tuesday afternoon. Imagine a Friday night, when the nightclubs and bars are open. And since they've just finished knocking something else down to make room to build something else - right across the street from the apartment building I think they finished this spring that already has parking issues - it's only going to get worse. I realize that developers run Atlanta and that zoning laws are merely suggestions to them, but damn. 

I hope that with the coming of the Westside Reservoir Park, no relation, on the actual west side of Atlanta, some of that development will move maybe, to the west. Westerly if you will. To where the black people live. I find it odd that in the black mecca of America that all the development is taking place in the areas without the black people. Funny, huh? This process of economic inclusion could probably be sped along by basically zoning out the rest of the Westside so that you can get close, but not right in there, or starting the next little "place" on the actual west side. Like, say, up the street from my house? Which if anyone is reading this besides those two guys in Russia and the nice lady in Singapore (love you guys! mean it), that means that property values and TAX revenues increase in a broader area. Which might be a good thing, I don't know, not a politician. 

I am wondering exactly how they're going to pull the gentrification that has to happen around the new Georgia Dome in preparation for the Super Bowl. That's a very 'urban' area. I dunno, maybe some of that development will rub off.  I kid. 

Barkeep, A cold beer. No, it doesn't have to be from the brewery by the reservoir, jeez. As long as it's cold.

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Gawker ye shall be missed.

Ramblings Post #319
You never really miss something until it's gone. Because usually, and quite mistakenly, we all have a tendency to believe that those things we care about, or at least like, or have gotten familiar with will be around until we come back to it. It's that sinking feeling when you get a taste for something, then ride over to get it only to find that the place that served that certain something is now a Starbucks. Unless you wanted Starbucks, in which case I'm ashamed for you. 

Gawker. Good Media. Gone too soon.
I used to read Gawker a lot. It was kind of what I like to call Buddy Media, and by that I mean that it's selection seemed more like things a guy you actually know would chose than an actual media outlet. A smart guy, but a guy you know, like from school or the bar. Sometimes it was insightful and meaningful stories that made you think. Other times it was dumb or silly reporting that made you wonder if people actually got paid for that crap. But, it was always interesting. And now, out of spite, it's gone.

Online media has always been an odd play for real news. Professional organizations like CBS and NBC seemingly just edited their regular news stories down and stuck them on the web. Other professional groups, like Slate, takes serious questions and cuts them down into a mix of short articles, bite sized chunks and blurbs. So how to differentiate yourself? That would have been Gawker, whose slightly opinionated occasionally off kilter and sometimes oddly refreshing and informative news articles kept you coming back. Important journalism, with things you didn't even know you needed to know, mixed with stories you knew you didn't need to know, but read anyway. Then they branched out, covering sports, video games, women's issues and more. It was good journalism, but a few times  a week you knew they'd just posted something and left the office early, maybe for margaritas.

Now, I understand most of it survived. Jezebel, Kokatu, Deadspin and the others will live on. But the linchpin, the hub, Gawker itself, is too toxic a brand to be viable. And so the digital fourth estate loses its class clown, leaving behind a void of much needed slightly reckless reporting that keeps the news fresh and from appearing to be what most of it is now....PR work. Tough shoes to fill.

Hey, I'll give'em five dollars for the address. Let those who will be offended sue me.

Barkeep, first article, how to get free drinks at the bar. What? What did I say? I have cash! 

Saturday, August 13, 2016

So, there is more to it than just costumes?

Ramblings Post #318
Twenty five years ago I wanted to write a comic. Okay, I've wanted to write a comic for longer than that, but twenty five years ago I sat down, created a alternate universe, populated it with characters, made some maps, wrote a history, write a dense and detailed story line...found out that I really like the process of world building just as much as writing. I got started on some other things, but that experience helped me understand the comics I'd been reading as more than just pictures on a page. It's the understanding that's elusive. As a lot of people are finding out at Warner Brothers.

With the arrival of Suicide Squad on the heels of the poorly conceived BvS, two things are becoming increasingly clear: One, you can't just put people in tights and call it a superhero movie, and Two: DC doesn't know what it's doing. Or rather, the people doing DC movies don't know what they're doing. 

This was there template. They wanted more of this.
Sometime ago, perhaps after the first ridiculous incarnation of the Fantastic Four, Marvel decided to take cinematic control of the destinies of the film versions of its characters. They gathered up the heroes they hadn't sold off yet and created a plan. A long range overarching plan that encompassed multiple films, introduced characters who retained their core elements, had a connecting theme or elements, used crossover appearances, etc., where each piece built on, reinforced or extended the others. It was, and is, like a multi-issue comic book event, something they actually knew how to do, only on film. And they went forth to made a buttload of money.

Which brings us to DC, who is desperately trying to emulate the success of their competitors, who've managed to elevate B-List heroes into superstars. But it's like PS4 v Xbone. Yes, I said Xbone.   

DC? I don't think whoever is over there has a plan. Not a movie release schedule, a plan. Maybe I don't see it yet, but right this second it looks like they're just throwing stuff at the wall and waiting to see what sticks. Their iconic characters have shed their elemental core values, the very things that made us like who they are, the things that have made the characters enduring, and no one seems to have a vision for how Hero Movie #1 will tie into Other Hero Movie  #2 until after the CGI is done. So much CGI! And the scripting of these things seem like they are being  written for video games, an by that I mean the stories seem to be just moving from grand cinematic moment to grand cinematic moment, cut scenes if you will, rather than telling a coherent story. And finally, just because Batman was dark doesn't mean everything else had to be too!  

So, how do we fix the DCCU (DC Cinematic Universe)?


Hell, comic books restart all the time. A new #1 of everything came again for like the fifth time two years or so ago, so just scrap everything and start over. No, I'm not crazy, we're about to get like the third restart of Spiderman in less than twenty years and we're still excited about it. DC can do that with their characters too, if they stop acting so desperate. Movie fans are less stringent than comic book fans, they'll get over it. But this time, create a plan - not a schedule, A PLAN - so that a central theme runs through each movie leading up to a cinematic event. I'll throw it out there, one film for each core hero, then a second round of three, where the villains start teaming up. Then the event can be the creation of the Legion of Doom, in this incarnation a kind of super-villain syndicate. The existence of which leads to the birth of the Justice League. 

This means that DC habit of killing the villain at the end of the movie... has to stop, which leads to my next item. They need to require the director who wants the seat at the helm to read at least 100 issues of the comic they'll be bringing to life. And write a 5,000 word report, in their own handwriting, explaining what the important themes of the character and story lines are. Yes, I just said the director needs to write a book report to get the job. That's how you avoid a Zack Snyder. I'd also require a similar report and an audio-visual presentation for the writer. No, for the writer, I need to see his comic book collection. And there will be a test. 
Why reading? BvS. They based the whole film on this one page of comic. One page. With no sense of context.
Why? Because not being familiar with the source material, the material the expected fans who will turn out to see the movie will be familiar with, is just stupid. It would be like making a period drama about the civil war and not looking at any history. If you treat it as though it's trite, as though its history and canon merit no respect, you get crap out the other end...like Suicide Squad. 

But I digress. The reboot. Each movie needs to have it's own look or feel, so that they're distinctive. I mean Batman needs to be dark and brooding, that's who he is. But Superman is hope and justice, dark isn't really appropriate. Neither does Wonder Woman, whose trailer looks like they ran it through the Darko-Gritty Filter 3000 after they shot it. Each character needs their own take, their own style. And the event film can either switch styles, so you know who the focus is, or have a separate style all its own.  

I would also like to remind everyone in Hollywood that the fate of the world need not hang in the balance to make a movie all dramatic. Nobody expects the hero to die, so give them something else to fight for. Did you see Cap's Civil War? Nothing world destroying, just relationship stuff.  

This scene however, should never appear on film anywhere.
There is a reason it's Marvel and DC. The longtime stalwart Detective Comics has created some great characters and stories over the years, which have been enjoyed by those who few who still read and savor the feel of the paper and the print. Yes, I know the idea, Marvel creates people while DC creates icons, still, it would be a shame if those tales don't make it to the big screen. But if they don't change something soon...well, I always did prefer Marvel anyway. 

Barkeep. Let me get a Bat-tini. I swear they used to drink on that old TV show. Seriously.