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11.29.2011

What A Difference A Day Makes...


Went to bed last night with Jack Del Rio coaching the team. Oh, and that team was owned by Mr. Wayne Weaver, a Jacksonville citizen.

I took our company to the airport and went to work. Lo and behold, I just discovered that Jack is out and Wayne sold the team.

Wow.

Just holy cow, wow!

Further updates as the picture grows clearer...


11.23.2011

Happy Holidays!


I hope everyone has a great holiday. Hug your loved ones and turn off your phones and computers and take a walk outside.

11.21.2011

Monday Updates...

Yes, Oregon lost on Saturday. Yes, we're very sad for the team. Time to regroup and unload on Oregon State, then get ready to play in the inaugural PAC-12 Championship Game. Next up, win the day...

I received the good news that a story of mine was selected for an anthology I'm really excited about joining. More on this placement shortly, but that's two stories that found good homes in the last two weeks.

Redstone Science Fiction did a nice job with the podcast of my story "Raising Tom Chambers." Thanks go to Michael Ray and Amanda Fitzwater for the fine job on the presentation!

11.17.2011

REC 2


REC 2 (2009) is a sequel (more of a continuation really, since the chronology aligns directly with that of its predecessor) that moves swiftly and brutally toward a terrifying conclusion. This Spanish horror film marries demonic possession with zombie-esque creatures and a viral contagion. It sounds like a crazy salad (and perhaps a bit too much), but directors Jaume Balaguero and Paco Plaza manage to tie it all together effectively.

Exposition is spare, as a SWAT team enters a contaminated Barcellona apartment complex to assist a "medical" official with his investigation of the strange outbreak that has afflicted the complex. We see the camaraderie of the team and learn the chain of command, and then they arrive at the scene and it's through a plastic barrier and straight into hell.

Jonathon Mellor plays Dr. Owen with aplomb. It's a one-note performance (he makes a grimace awfully well), but it's remarkably intense. His turn is really the focal point for characterization, and the rest of it is a claustrophobic search, going from room to room (which may or may not be inhabited by the demon-things) in search of a vial of blood.

There is a particularly frightening scene that unfolds in a heating duct, and a terrific sequence that pays the viewer's time off nicely in the final scenes.

It's not hard to recognize this film as the European penpal of the underrated Quarantine (2008). Both make good use of the perspective shots rendered with hand-held cameras. It's participatory filmmaking, and lends a level of authenticity to the proceedings. I give it a solid 'B' and recommend that horror fans give it a shot. It's better than 98% of the stuff that's been released in the last year...

Speaking of films that use that technique of visual narrative, I read a review of Trollhunter (2010) in my Fantasy & Science Fiction and I'm definitely intrigued...

Immortals (2011) was a bit of a letdown. Overlong and unnecessarily stylized (in places), this film lacked the mise-en-scene that made 300 (2006) such an unexpected success. 'C-'...


11.16.2011

Gooooooooo....DUCKS!

Wow, what a performance last weekend against Stanford. The defense looked fast and prepared. LaMichael chipped and chipped and chipped away at that big defensive line, then he made one quick cut and took it fifty-eight yards to the house!

Speed...speed...speed! From Kenjon and LaMichael to Darron and Dat! From Boseko and Mike Clay to Pleasant and Gildon, this team can move!

I know I'm biased, but I think Chip Kelly is the best coach in America. There's nobody I'd rather have coaching my Oregon Ducks. Earlier in the week, he talked to the Oregonian about that nifty two-point conversion. I'm paraphrasing here, but Coach said it was a big benefit to the team to steal points when they saw an advantage.

Let's go, fellas. This week at home, against the Men of Troy. Win the damned day!

I love it. Speed and aggression and unity and excitement! This is how football was meant to be played!

Go Ducks!

11.10.2011

The Fall of Penn State

In the fallout of one of the swiftest and deepest falls from grace I've seen (even more dramatic, I think, then the rape conviction of Mike Tyson or the Tiger Woods adultery scandal), I think the board of trustees at Penn State did the right thing in getting rid of Joe Paterno immediately. Given the timeline of events and the graphic nature of the crimes allegedly committed on campus (be warned: if you read the grand jury report, it's very unsettling; I had a hard time with it), he had to go.

Paterno is an octogenarian. He's relinquished more and more control over the last decade, and in some circles has been viewed as nothing more than a mascot in terms of his actual coaching responsibilities. It's wholly possible that his advanced age played a part in just how cognizant he was that all of this was taking place, but that's no excuse. In 2002, he was told that Jerry Sandusky was seen sodomizing a young boy in a public shower. ESPN reported yesterday that Sandusky, who has been under investigation by the attorney general for three years, was in the locker room at PSU as recently as last week!

These alleged abuses should have been dealt with over a decade ago. Mike McQueary should have done what he could to stop the sexual assault he witnessed at that point in time. Barring that, he should have, at the least, immediately informed the local police of what he saw.

This story was passed up the chain of command, and nothing was done. In 1999, when Sandusky was asked to resign after allegations of abuse mounted, Penn State should not have given him an office on campus as part of his resignation deal. They should not have given him access to the locker rooms and weight rooms, where more abuses allegedly took place.

Penn State did the wrong thing in this matter, time and time again, and I can only deduce that it was because they wanted to maintain the program and the university's image. These allegations are horrific--it's the most disgusting story I've seen in sports--and Penn State has dealt with the situation in a truly callous fashion.

I'm sad that Paterno won't coach out the schedule, but not because he deserves the opportunity. I'm sad that he won't be exposed to the ridicule, scorn and anger of the American populace that sees how truly heinous these alleged crimes, and their subsequent public suppression, really are.

Shame on you, Joe Paterno. Shame on you, President Spanier. Shame on all of the students that have rioted in the streets without considering the depths of moral depravity in this story.

Rot in jail, Sandusky. I hope your life there is very difficult.

Nobody is bigger than the program, right Joe? Well, I guess that really depends on the kind of program you are running...

11.02.2011

A Fable for Today



The governor stopped short when he arrived at the fork in the path. It wasn’t indecision that gave the tanned man with the carefully manicured fingernails pause, but rather the python coiled there, studying him with shining saffron eyes.

“Do you, uh…do you mean to block my way here, snake?” the governor said. There was a twang in his speech—an affectation he was trying to perfect in an attempt to echo his predecessors. Like the man himself, the accent was a work in progress.

“Why shouldn’t I?” the snake hissed. “I shouldn’t even be here at all.”

The governor put a hand on his hip; he used the other to scratch at a trickle of sweat in his flawless gray hair. “Well, I suppose that’s probably true. Python, ain’t ya?”

“Yes,” the snake said, stretching the ‘s’ menacingly. Its angular head swayed back and forth, its tongue tasting the air. “Do I frighten you?”

“Nope. Can’t say that you do.”

“Then you are a fool. I've corrupted your lands and I’ve grown fat on your stocks.”

The governor narrowed his eyes. “You mean down in the ‘Glades, don’t you python?”

“I have feasted in the great river. But now, I live in the cane fields as well; you can find me on the banks of Okeechobee. And I'm here, you fool—in the forests near your home.”

The governor chuckled. “So why don’t you just go away? Shoot, just leave us be.”

“It’s not that simple. This place—it was a paradise once…”

“I’m not sure I like your tone, snake. Florida is still first in the nation in tourism. Almost 500 people move here every day. I’d call that pretty damned good, if I don’t mind saying so mys…”

The python darted forward, quicker than the governor could dodge. Its head, a thick wedge of scale and bone, ducked under the old man’s thigh; it only took a moment for itl to impose itself upon the governor—like wild grape on a weathered fence post. The governor toppled and fell over.

“Now what’s this all about, python? I’m just trying to stay trim here—getting a little exercise is all.”

The python tightened up, the governor loosing an audible, “Oooof!”

“You don’t see,” the python responded. “You lack vision. The flood of people. The strange animals—they aren’t from here. They shouldn't be here! You’ve given away the land. You’ve choked the great river to grow poison. You’ve cut down the mangroves and replaced them with walkways. All of it…every last bit of it is an ending.”

“Now just you wait a minute,” the governor started, but the python flexed his muscular body, squeezing a sharp cry from the confused man.

“No time,” it hissed, “for waiting. No time for indecision.”

“What do you want?” the governor croaked. His face, already red from the exercise, was turning purple.

“Reverse it,” the snake said, drawing out the syllables. It sounded like air escaping from a tire.

“But how? You’re talking about undoing a century of policy here, python. Let's be reasonable, now.”

“Things can be undone,” the snake replied. As if to prove its point, it relinquished its hold on the old man and reclaimed its place on the trail.

The governor stood and brushed himself off, a little bit purple but none the worse for wear.

“So is that all?” he said. He made a move toward the left fork in the path, meaning to finish his jog.

The python cut him off, poised for another strike. “Go back,” it said, anger flashing in those saffron eyes. “Go back the way you came. Go back and undo your mistakes.”

The governor glared at the snake. Dang it, but now his afternoon was shot! He pulled a leaf from his tussled hair, frowned at the reptile and then turned and trotted back to where his security detail was waiting in the parking lot.

One of his men passed him a sweating bottle of cold water as they pulled out of the gravel lot. “We still going to the Governor’s Club this afternoon, boss?”

The governor gave it some thought. Probably best not to get on that snake’s bad side. “Naw,” he muttered. “Naw, damnit, let’s just head for home, Bo.”

He skipped his shower and angled straight for his office. It only took him a minute to get Allison Schiller, the state’s lead wildlife biologist, on the phone.

“Pythons, Allie!” he complained. “Dad-gummit, we got pythons! Right here in Leon County!”

There was silence on the line.

“Allie? You still there?”

“Governor, we’ve been trying to tell you that for the last three years,” she said. There was disbelief in her tone—disbelief and anger. “Pythons are just the start of it, sir. We’ve got angel fish in the port of Miami, iguanas in Key West, howler monkeys in Julington Creek…the list goes on and on. We’ve been trying to arrange a state-wide effort to deal with this since your first month in office.”

The governor used a toothpick on his capped teeth; her words made him wince. “Well, shoot. Maybe it’s time we called a meeting. Can you get up to Tallahassee tomorrow?”

More stunned silence. “Of course. Of course I can. I can be there before noon.”

“Okay, then. Thanks, Allie. Jeremy will make the appointment,” the governor replied, disconnecting the phone. He sighed, stood and walked to the window.

There were alligators floating in the lake behind his office; a few sunned themselves on the apron of sandy shoreline. An egret stalked minnows in the shallows. Dozens of turtles basked in the sun, necks stretched, balanced atop cypress boughs.

“Shit,” he muttered, raking his fingers through his hair. All at once, as if the man’s disdain for the work ahead was a fork of lightning from an afternoon thunderstorm, the birds and alligators and turtles turned their heads to appraise the man watching them from behind the glass in the great white house.