Zhadi's Den

Random essays on wine, writing, moving to San Francisco, surfing, cats (exotic and otherwise) and zombies...depending on my mood.

Friday, June 30, 2006

Keeping up with the Joneses...

I refer, of course, to the prolific output of bloggers like Mr. Fabulous and Malnurtured Snay, who don't just post ONE post a day, but sometimes multiple postings. I've made a late New Year's (New Solstice's?) resolution to put up one post a day, even if it's a shortie, so even though I'm tired, grouchy and in the middle of re-reading GONE WITH THE WIND for the umpteenth time, here I am. Posting.

One of my favorite quotes from GWTW:

'She lay in the silvery shadows with courage rising and made the plans that a sixteen-year-old makes when life has been so pleasant that defeat is an impossibility and a pretty dress and a clear complexion are weapons to vanquish fate.'

Well, I didn't always have a clear complexion, but there's something about the perceived invulnerablity of youth, the years before cellulite makes its ugly appearance (or at least it's easier to get rid of...and did you know that it used to be a survival trait? Stupid survival...), when our hair is thick, our bodies and face firm and unwrinkled, and years ahead of us before old age dares to make an appearance. The world is our oyster and if something doesn't work out one week, we mourn it extravagantly (see previous post re: Drama Queen) and then start making plans for something new. Tomorrow is another day, y'know.

I'm really jonesin' to figure out the whole photo scanning thing. So far I've managed to scan the pictures, but they translate as little squares in the middle of an 8" by 10" space. I really want to put some pictures of me and Maureen in our 'Southern Belle' days, when we thought that the two of us together made the perfect modern day Scarlett O'Hara. Her figure and facial structure, my hair color and eyes. Both of us with enough youthful arrogance (if he doesn't like us, he MUST be gay!) and confidence to be really irritating to friends and family.

But we were awfully cute.

Fiddle Dee Dee!

Thursday, June 29, 2006

The funniest man in the world...

Evidently it's some comedian a la Chris Rock. Forgot his name, but I saw a trailer for his new 'hilarious' movie on TV. Lots of broad comedy, like pratfalls, people walking into walls, getting hit with things, fart jokes...yes, this is the funniest man in the world. Do they use the stupidest parts of the movie to make trailers or what? Is it because I'm really NOT part of the lowest common denominator? Or do I just not get the things that tickle America's funny bone?

I suspect that the person who came to this conclusion is the same guy who insists that PULSE is the scariest movie I would see this year. Well, if by 'scary' he meant that I would be bored to death by ghosts, he was right.

Like VERSUS, another Japanese horror movie (this one had zombies, how could it go so horribly wrong?), PULSE had a few moments of creepy atmosphere...and a lot of scenes that were interchangable. In VERSUS, people kept fighting in a forest. The comic relief character would scream and run. The hero would fight the zombies, fight annoying yakuza dudes, posture...and then do the same thing 1o minutes later in a slight different section of the forest. Bush right, tree left. Trees in a bunch, bushes in the background. I would doze off and wake up, only to realize that NOTHING HAD HAPPENED. Same fights, same forest. I was asleep for 20 friggin' minutes at a stretch and I swear that when I woke up, it was undistinguishable from the scene that was playing when I dozed off!

PULSE was just as bad, but without zombies. It had more interesting sets...but was possibly even more stuptifying than VERSUS because it had long scenes of incomprehensible dialogue, people responding to each other in monosyllabic grunts, and...well...nothing really happened. Not even an over the top yakuza villain to spice up the inaction. Who the hell needs melatonin when we have movies like PULSE?

GRUDGE (JU-ON) was scary. PULSE slowed my heartbeat down to a near comatose state.

I did not take pictures of my car yet... I did take her in for two new tires today and will eventually get her gas flap replaced. I'm in the middle of another post about my retirement as a Drama Queen and am trying to figure out how to scan old pictures so I can include them in the post. We're talking 20 year old pictures. Wish me luck.

And now? I'm gonna work on a new script, while watching OFFICE SPACE, one of my favorite movies ever. If you've ever worked in a cubicle, this is your movie. Someone stole my stapler. I could burn their house down...

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Drama Queen No More!

A comment on my last post, lamenting the fact that my weekend needed something exciting, like a car chase or Chinese organ thieves to spice it up, inspired me to write this.

I used to be a Drama Queen. Not just the type who got parts in high school plays a lot of the time. Although I was pretty lucky in that regard. I mean the type of person who, for whatever reason, required an inordinate amount of drama in her life. And if enough wasn't coming in, I'd generate it myself.

I suppose that a desire to act and a craving for everyday drama go hand in hand. It wasn't enough to watch movies and daydream. No, I had to learn how to join a rock band, swordfight, do ren faires, go to and do shows at Sci-Fi conventions, join a rock band, do community theater, take karate, AND hitchhike (sorry, Mom...) up to Arcata to visit the first love of my life. 10 years older than me, he was a fight choreographer and a perpetual Peter Pan type. A parents nightmare in that the work was never steady and he smoked dope pretty much from the time he got up each morning. Expected me to do all the housework and was quite content to have me work full time jobs while he pursued his vocation. My migraines really kicked up during our time together, possibly because I started my four year job as an appointment clerk at the IRS to pay the rent on our two room apartment.

But hey, he swordfought. It was very dramatic. And before we moved in together, I'd go with Chris to his choreography gigs as his assistant. It was romantic, a gypsy lifestyle, making our living by the sword. Of course, we got stranded in Eugene, Oregon in between jobs one time and for the first and only time in my life, I experienced what it's like to live off of foodstamps. Not so romantic. I did, however, hone the art of finding very cool clothes at thrift stores during this period.

But I digress.

It wasn't that I behaved badly during my youth. I've always had a fairly strong ethical streak, as well as a lot of empathy...but I was over the top in my reactions, moods and interaction. A drama queen. I wore clothes that looked like they escaped from Stevie Nicks' wardobe. I didn't just talk about a problem, I acted it out.

And I wondered why people didn't take me seriously.

I had good intentions and I was a fiercely loyal friend and co-worker...but dang me if I didn't go up to eleven most of the time. People like the me I was back then annoy the hell out of the me I am now (I dare you to diagram that last sentence). After my move up to San Francisco and all the crap that I've gone through, I've well and truly discovered that there's enough inherent drama in everyday life without having to manufacture anything extra.

Anyway, I'm going to be posting some pictures from my dramatic heyday as soon as I figure out how to scan 'em and turn 'em into jpegs. I'd ask someone to help me, but when you're trying to scan a picture of you dressed in a costume that shows 90 percent of your ass, you'd try to figure it out yourself too...

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

The NICE part of my weekend.

Well, I haven't taken pictures of my car or tire as planned, only because I wasn't quite sure where I stashed my digital camera and was far too lazy to dig it out until after the sun went down. Now it's too dark to take pictures, so that'll happen tomorrow.

Figured I'd talk about the part of my weekend that didn't involve exploding circles of rubber and steel. The nice part. Like the drive UP to Humboldt on Friday. Other than some triple digit temps on the inland part of the journey (it hit 80 at 9AM in Santa Rosa) and the fact that I only use my air-conditioner on level road or on a decline (lots of uphill stretches going to Humboldt), I got no complaints.

Took the 101 up to the 128 West, which goes through the Anderson Valley (home of some lovely wineries, such as Brutocao, Navarro, and Roederer Estates, just to name a few), stopped at Brutocao to pick up some wine for Brian. I also stopped at the Trader Joe's in Santa Rosa for supplies because, though Humboldt County has a lot of things going for it (gorgeous scenery, redwoods, ocean, timber, crab for 3.99 a pound and plenty of tie-dye, goddamn hippies, and politically correct folk - the cloud of SMUG over Arcata is frightening), it has no Trader Joe's. To a Southern Californian, used to doing the bulk of his shopping at TJ's, it's like a junkie trying to go cold turkey off heroine.

I did no wine tasting, having a strict rule about the whole drinking and driving business these days. Just picked up the wine and drove on towards the Mendocino coast. If you've ever driven through a redwood forest on a sunny day, you'll know it's like driving with nature's strobe-light the whole time. Shadow/sunlight/shadow/sunlight. Deceptively peaceful, easy to get lulled into a semi-hypnotic state. Pretty, but more than 10 minutes of it on a one lane windy road is exhausting.

Glass Beach was, as usual, covered with glass. With no one to pull me out of there, I had to regulate myself, so I deliberately didn't stop at the nearby Denny's to use the bathroom before going down to the beach. I'm like a dragon with a hoard of gold when I go to Glass Beach. Except I don't spit fire at other people who trespass on my territory. 'Cause I can't. Or maybe I would.

Sure enough, after a half hour of single-mindedly sorting through and collecting glass, the call of the bladder overrode my obsession and I headed off to Denny's to pee before getting back on the road.

Another hour of windy coastal and redwood forest highway. The first 20 minutes I was stuck behind someone going 15 miles UNDER the speed limit, even on the straightaway section. I wasn't exactly in a hurry and I refuse to tailgate, but jeez louise, people, get the lead out! They ignored turnouts and passing lanes. If I'd had a cannon mounted on my Saturn, I would have used it. They were bastard people and I hated their ass faces.

They finally turned off and I had a lovely stretch of about 20 miles with no one behind me, no one in front of me. I could go the perfect speed with no one riding up my ass or making me hit the breaks every five seconds. What's the perfect speed, you might ask? Whatever speed I wanna drive, of course. Silly question.

I made good time to Eureka, stopped a market in Trinidad to pick up a couple of 3.99 a pound crabs for dinner. Freshly caught, freshly cooked. We had it with avocado slices, melted butter, bread, and a Brutocao Chardonnay. Gourmet eats for a budget price. Yummy...

There were leftovers too. So we had crab quesadillas for lunch the next day, and scrambled eggs with crab Sunday morning. Did I mention I love crab? On my way out of town, I picked up a crab to bring home. I'm happy to say that it survived the blow-out too.

Yawn...I'm sleepy. So quick wrap-up.

As we always do when we get together, Brian and I took Boska for walks in the woods and on the beach (with me keeping a wary eye out for sneaker waves, something that the Humboldt and Mendocino beaches are notorious for), watched movies (Mr. & Mrs. Smith; Orgazmo; the second Underworld movie, during which I waited in vain for Kate Beckinsale to change her expression), and listened to Shmoo periodically mrroww mournfully for no apparent reason.

When it was time to leave, Boska jumped in the backseat of the car without hesitation. She handled the blow-out with more calm than I did, although we both had to sneak off into the bushes at the side of the freeway to relieve our bladders after it happened. No, I have no shame when it comes to matters of the kidneys. Remind me to tell you about the bus trip home from Grad Night...

Or maybe not.

Monday, June 26, 2006

Blow out

The left rear tire on my car blew out on the 101 Freeway on my drive back from Humboldt yesterday. I've had tires blow before, but only going 10 miles per hour, if that. This was at 60 mph and that tire went with the kind of spectacular pyrotechnics usually reserved for bad action movies. Strands of rubber and steel whipped around, chunks flying off into the lanes behind me. Sparks flew. It dislodged the left rear panel, tore holes in the plastic protector, scored the paint on the back and side of the car, and completely took off the locking hinged gas flap AND the top of the gas cap.

Yup, tore the hinges right out of the thing. Amazing.

Between the loud BANG of the explosion and the initial swerve, Boska was woken up from a deep sleep and I was suddenly very aware of just how much I had to pee. Making my way to the side of the freeway, I made sure Boska was okay, and we made a quick trip into the bushes so I could focus on getting the car up and running again. Can't do anything on a full bladder. Triple AAA dispatched a tow truck driver and I made a few phone calls while I waited.

I drove home 70 miles on a donut spare, keeping the car to 50 mph the entire way. Except for the half hour where traffic moved at 10 mph, if that, crawling through San Rafael towards the Golden Gate Bridge.

I had such plans for last night. I was gonna get home by 6:00 pm, get Boska settled in, have dinner...catch up on emails and my posting. I did eventually get home (but not until 8:30 pm), did get Boska settled and have dinner, even cleaned out the cat boxes and unloaded the dishwasher, but as far as concentration or focus for writing? Forget it. Shot to hell. Blown up along with my tire.

As annoyed as I am with the damage to the car, I'm aware that it could have been a lot worse. Neither Boska nor I were hurt and I now know that a donut spare will suffice in a pinch.

Pictures of tire and side of car to follow in a later post...

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Long Weekend

I'm taking a day off tomorrow and driving up to Humboldt for the weekend - giving myself an extra day so I'm not burned out Monday morning. Y'know, like I was at the end of last weekend, what with the hell drive to L.A. and back in two days.

The drive to Humboldt is much prettier - the 101 Freeway snakes through vineyards and redwoods, past rivers and small towns. Some of the towns are kind of quaint and others are the perfect setting for a Hills Have Eyes type situation. There's also the option of going through Anderson Valley (wineries? I'm not interested in wineries!) and taking the 1 up through Fort Bragg, home to Glass Beach. I'm planning on the latter route, although I won't be doing any tasting at the Anderson Valley wineries.

Will I stop at Glass Beach?



Hey. I'm NOT addicted to beach glass. I can stop collecting it any time. Really.

I'm picking my dog up and bringing her back home. Boska (or Baska - Brian and I have never agreed on the spelling of her name) has been staying in Trinidad with Brian, but it's time for her to live with Mommy again. She's showing signs of senility, so I've been reading up on homeopathic treatments for dogs and have a battle plan of herbs and supplements ready to go. Luckily Boska takes pills without complaint, provided I bury them in a ball of wet dog food. I hope they work 'cause otherwise I look forward to nights of interrupted sleep as she paces, whines and tries to get on the bed. I can't put her in the garage to sleep any more (and yes, I have a big comfy doggy bed for her out there) 'cause she scrabbles relentlessly at the door and howls mournfully. Her hearing isn't as good as it used to be...either that, or she's decided that obeying commands is for suckers. Maybe a little from Column A, a little from Column B...

Anyway...time to turn in for the night. I have a long day of driving and glass scavaging ahead of me.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Strange But True News

Wife Accused in Swordplay Death of Husband

BEIJING (June 20) - A Chinese woman has been charged with accidentally killing her husband with a sword after he refused to make her dinner, the Shanghai Daily said on Tuesday.

Police said Tang Xiaowan, 25, who has been practicing swordsmanship since she was young, had often forced her husband of three years at swordpoint to carry out her demands.
On March 3, her husband, Li Weidong, refused to cook dinner because he was late for work.
Police said Tang picked up her sword and put it on Li's chest and promptly slipped, stabbing Li by mistake.

Li died in hospital from loss of blood.

Tang was arrested Monday and charged with manslaughter.

All these years of swordplay and I never thought to try this to get housework done...

Monday, June 19, 2006

Weekend Update

Damn, I'm feeling uninspired. Tired, lethargic and generally blah. Could be because 14 hours of my weekend was spent in the car, driving from SF to Rosamond, then Rosamond to Venice Beach , then the next morning, Venice to Berkeley, and then home to SF after that. Not all in one day. We spread it out over two. But still...that's too much driving.

And the I-5 between SF and Los Angeles...ugh, what a boring stretch of freeway. Vast stretches of farmland, cattle herds, tumbleweeds. Billboards that proclaim Jesus is Lord and plenty of Bush/Cheney bumperstickers. Truck stops and fast food. And in the summer time, relentless waves of heat shimmering off the asphalt. And I gotta say that a year and a half in Fog City here has totally eradicated my ability to cope with heat. Dave and I were wilting flowers. Thank goodness for air-conditioning.

I remember a drive across country in the middle of summer that Brian and I made 15 or so years ago. We drove his Mustang. A great car, but it didn't have air-conditioning. We drove across the desert with a cooler full of ice, wrapping cubes of it in handtowels to stave off the triple digit heat. We were young and resilient. Trying that now would probably kill me. Or whoever I was making the drive with would kill me just to shut up my whining.

It was 108 in Rosamond when we arrived at 3:00pm. It was muggy too, which is a very special type of hell in the desert heat. The breeze started up around 3:30, but it was a good three hours before it cooled off enough to be bearable. I gave the tigers, Jasmine and Caesar, a cool shower with the hose when we made the rounds to visit the cats. Ain't a lot cuter sight than two full grown tigers frolicking in water, gotta say.

I had a great time despite the heat. No matter how much I complain about making the drive, every time I go to EFBC, it rejuvenates the part of me that feels old and depressed. How can I be blue when I'm petting a jaguar? Very few people can say they've held a baby leopard or had a full grown one sit on their feet; I'm part of a small group of very lucky individuals and I'm continually amazed by the opportunity that working at EFBC has given me.

But damn, I'm tired.

So I think I'm just gonna curl up, watch the rest of DAWN OF THE DEAD (the remake), drink my mineral water (no wine on weeknights 'cause even a glass seems to be upsetting my sleep cycle...which is a bummer 'cause I do love my glass of wine at night), and not worry about being creative for the evening.

Friday, June 16, 2006

A New Post

I'm sitting in the living room with my cats perched all around me, watching Beyond the Break. Well, I'm watching it. The cats aren't so interested.

Beyond the Break is a horribly addicting show on the N-Com network. It's about surfing and bikinis and angst and bikinis and surfing. It has a cameraman who seems to think that letting more than one line from the same character go by without switching angles/focus/framing/takes is a mortal sin. This is a show to watch with Dramamine. The first episode had the worst CGI surfing scene since Snake Plissken surfed a tsunami in ESCAPE FROM L.A. It also has some cool surfing footage, some apparently by the actors and actresses playing the parts. Think Beverly 90210 with surfers.

Yes, it's sad...I'm addicted. It's like BLUE CRUSH light. And yes, I loved that movie. I pretty much enjoy all surf movies, even the bad ones.

But sadly, Tivo stopped recording RIGHT BEFORE I FOUND OUT WHO WON THE SURF COMPETITION! Which, btw, is sponsored by Tampax. I'd love to see a men's surf competition sponsored by Viagra. Or Trojan.

Tivo sucks.

Tomorrow it's off to EFBC for another Twilight Tour. I'm looking forward to seeing the cats, but the summer heat in Rosamond is brutal. I'm melting!!!

Ain't it ironic that when you don't have the means to write, you think of all of these ideas that you wanna write about...and when you can actually sit down and write, the mind goes blank. Which is why you're getting this stream of consciousness right now. I did, point of fact, write four pages longhand the other night. Got a new book idea, bought a fresh notebook (I love blank notebooks and new pens...) and scribbled away. I can even read what I wrote, which is a rarity. I have sucky handwriting at best, and it's gotten worse as the years progress and I spend more time typing on a computer.

But there was something very satisfying about sitting in a cafe with notebook and pen...and actually being able to concentrate on something creative. I was there for an ASK A SCIENTIST lecture about physics, got there an hour and a half early (you have to if you want a decent seat at these lectures), finished my Karl Edward Wagner fantasy novel, and...well...wrote! Good for me! I gave myself three cheers and a tiger. I'm accepting more of both, if you think I'm deserving.

At any rate, tomorrow...desert heat...tiger kisses. Afterwards, a trip to Venice Beach to spend the night at my sister's, probably share a bottle of wine before sleep, watch old Star Trek or something. I wish we'd develop a transporter system so we didn't have a six hour drive there and back.

Hmm...CGI dinosaur ass on the TV screen. Thank you, Jurassic Park III. Pretty music by John Williams. My mind is definitely wandering...

I think I'm gonna take those handwritten notes and transcribe into my iBook now. Btw, if you have any suggestions as to what you'd like to see me write about in one of my posts, please toss 'em my way. I'd like the challenge of writing on demand!

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

The Genius that is Uwe Boll - Guest Blogger T.C. Martindale

Okay, I am delighted to include a movie review by my pal and awesome writer, T. Chris Martindale. He's published four excellent horror novels (Google him. Go ahead! It makes him giggle like a schoolgirl), several screenplays, and writes the best movie reviews I've ever read. He very kindly wrote one of Uwe Boll's latest masterpiece of craptitude, BLOODRAYNE, just for me...and I'm sharing it with my loyal readers as a reward for their...er...loyal reading! Enjoy...and you can bet this movie will be in the queue for Bad Movie Night!

There aren't many sure things in the movie business these days. There was a time when Spielberg would've qualified, but that was before the Crap That Shouldn't Be Named (oh okay, WAR OF THE WORLDS). Peter Jackson can make a magnificent LORD OF THE RINGS trilogy, only to bore you to tears with a KING KONG remake that should've run about half as long. Tom Hanks was pretty dependable there for a while, but not after THE TERMINAL and that weird hairdo in THE DA VINCI CODE. Harrison Ford? Let's not even go there. But if you shift your tastes to the other end of the spectrum, where bad is SO bad it's actually good, there are two people you can bet on every single time and never be disappointed. One is Mr. Tubby Lovin' his own self, Steven Seagal, who hasn't met a terrible script or all-you-can-eat buffet that he didn't like; and the other is German director Uwe Boll.

For those unfamiliar with Dr. Boll, he specializes in buying the rights to popular video games, and then making movies that have almost nothing to do with said games, thereby alienating what should have been a built-in audience. Skibo logic like that makes him a particular hero of mine. Well, that plus his complete ineptitude when it comes to story structure or characterization or anything else related to moviemaking. HOUSE OF THE DEAD and ALONE IN THE DARK tanked at the box office, and his latest, BLOODRAYNE, was no different; now it's out on DVD in an new uncut/unrated version. So, you ask, is it any good? Well of course not, don't be ridiculous. It's just as terrible as his other movies. But is it enjoyable?

Does a bear shit in the woods?

Uwe wastes no time putting his stamp of hilarity on things. BLOODRAYNE the videogame is about a female half-vampire who fights Nazis in the 1930's. So, naturally, Dr. Boll puts his movie in Eastern Europe in the 1700's. Of course, that makes perfect sense. And given the new location, you would want to hire actors who can project the correct accent for the region, correct? So you turn to thespians like Michael Madsen (KILL BILL) and Michael Pare (STREETS OF FIRE) and Michelle Rodriguez (LOST, BLUE CRUSH), who all studied in the classic Monotone style and have a hard enough time sounding like Americans who can barely stay awake, let alone Slavic characters. Add to this mulligan stew a few dashes of Udo Kier, Meat Loaf Aday (I guess he's using his last name these days to separate him from all the other Meat Loaves out there), Billy Zane, whose company released the movie and is now being sued by Boll for doing a shitty job of it, and Oscar-winner Ben Kingsley as Kagan, the king of the vampires. Yes, you heard right, Gandhi's playing the Big Bad in this thing. On the one hand I can see that -- maybe he's tired of being "Oscar Winner" Ben Kingsley, maybe he's just a regular guy who wants to cut loose and have fun in an over-the-top performance, really ham it up and pick the scenery out of his teeth later on. On the other hand, maybe he had a mortgage payment due and really needed the money. After seeing the performance, I have to lean toward the latter. But more on that later...

As the title character, Bloodrayne (who, incidently, is never really called that, it's mostly just "Rayne") Boll cast Kristanna Loken, who's only credit of note prior to this seems to have been the unspeaking Terminatrix in TERMINATOR 3. It's an odd choice, since Ms. Loken is not particularly buxom or hard-bodied like the character in the game, nor is she a martial artist or at all convincing in her action sequences. She is extremely tall and long-limbed and looks more like a volleyball player than an action heroine. Of course, she does drop her top without hesitation, so I'm sure that figured into it, but c'mon! Are you telling me there aren't any well-built athletic women in Hollywood who'll flash their mommybags when necessary? Or in Europe for that matter? Hell, I've seen at least three females on those annoying GIRLS GONE WILD! commercials late at night who would've been more alluring or convincing in the role. Ah, but then we would've lost that massive contingent of TERMINATOR 3 fans, wouldn't we. Very cagey, Dr. Boll.

On to the plotline, what there is of one. Seems that Kagan, aka Evil
Gandhi, is looking for the three bodyparts -- an eye, a rib, and the heart -- of some magical vampire from days gone by. Legend says if another vampire acquires those pieces, he'll be granted godlike powers...though if you think about it, how magical could they be, considering their original owner had 'em and got snuffed anyway. Arrayed against him is the Brimstone Society, a sort of fraternity where they kill vampires instead of smacking each other with paddles. The leader is Vladimir, played by a somnambular Michael Madsen with a sweet, sweet mullet. I do hope the long matted hair was Michael's own; if not, that means there was someone on the crew who was actually responsible for running that particular hair extension through the dirt, plying it with oil, etc. to achieve that particularly un-comb-able look. Props to him or her, that's a job I wouldn't want. Vladimir's lieutenants are Katarin (Michelle Rodriguez), wearing that patented scowl of hers that she brings to every role, and Sebastian (Matthew Davis), the only passably handsome guy around, so you know he'll be the one knocking the boots with Rayne before the movie's over.

Meanwhile, Bloodrayne is the sideshow attraction in a traveling circus, at least for a couple of minutes. We see her in bondage, then cut away to Madsen looking half-tipsy or Kingsley looking chagrined, and by the time we get back to Rayne she's now sitting in the woods covered in blood and mewling pitifully. What the hell? Cue the flashback machine! Apparently one of her handlers crawled into her cage and tried to do some actual handling, and that triggered some very annoying MTV-style flashbacks (that's right, flashbacks WITHIN a flashback! You go, Uwe!) of Kagan killing her mother, and that caused her to vamp out and kill most of the circus folk. It also gave her a goal, to ferret out her daddy Kagan and lay down some whupass on his Oscar-winning self. (Exactly why Kagan molested her mother and then let her live long enough to raise a child to eight or nine is never explained; neither is the question of whether all vampires get horny for human tail, or whether that's just Evil Gandhi's personal peccadillo...)

Long story short, Rayne joins up with the Brimstone Society, finds the
missing pieces of Mr. Magical Vampire, and takes them to her daddy for the final showdown. Along the way we get...

- many incredibly bland and clumsy fight scenes, both on the part of the principals as well as extras that just sorta mill about and flail their swords in the air. One guy runs down a staircase at Madsen and just throws himself PAST him; I don't think Mike ever even raised his sword to fend him off. Now that is one obliging bad guy!

- some halfway decent gore effects, like swords in the cheek (good target that, considering all the vital organs inside the mouth), heads split open, limbs hacked off, etc., with generous gouts of blood all around. One poor sap gets cut in two at the waist but the extras continue to chop at his torso anyway and it continues to gush blood like a geyser.

- Ben Kingsley looking all pale and sickly like he's got stomach flu.
Maybe he read the script after all. Ninety percent of his role requires him to dress in fancy tunics, sit in a straightback chair and stare into space. Tough work if you can get it.

- singer Meat Loaf in a white wig, looking like somebody's grandma. He's supposed to be a hedonistic vampire surrounded by a gaggle of naked prostitutes played, interestingly enough, by a gaggle of naked prostitutes. Cheaper than actresses in that neck of the woods, apparently.

- Kristanna Loken trying desperately to act but not having much success. The only thing you can say about her is, she's pleasant to look at and her voice sounds exactly like Kathleen Turner, at least when she was younger, before she got all huge and her voice dropped into Harvey Fierstein territory...

- while trying to obtain one of the magical artifacts, Rayne finds herself in a boobytrapped room where giant buzzsaws whirl out of nowhere and disappear almost as quickly. She evaluates the situation and realizes the only answer to this is...cartwheels and lots of 'em! After all, no blade can cut you while you're doing a cartwheel! (At least that's better than the original DUNGEONS AND DRAGONS movie, where Justin Whalen found himself in a similar situation and decided the answer was Run Real Fast, Then Dive!)

- while in a cell at Brimstone Headquarters, Rayne has another jumpy
vampire dream about her daddy; when she wakes, she inexplicably grabs
Sebastian, throws him against the bars and mounts him like a pony. Welcome to Romance, Uwe Boll style! Since we've seen nothing to foreshadow this randy behavior ahead of time, we can only surmise that glimpses of Oscar winners make her really really horny...

- Michelle Rodriguez decided to try acting about halfway through the movie by attempting a pseudo-European accent on several occasions. On her third try, my ears started to bleed.

- "Bring me my thralls," says Evil Gandhi to his second-in-command. Then as he walks down a line of troops with an utterly wan expression on his face, we hear the following voiceover: "The time has come to fulfill your oaths, my loyal thralls. Scour the land, find Brimstone and destroy it, bring the dhamfir to me, leave no human alive that crosses you, the promise of eternal life awaits those that succeed, those who fail will find only death." Now go back and read that out loud, as quickly as possible and in a complete monotone. If you can do that, then you too could be King of the Vampires...

- What about Michael Pare, you ask. What major part does he play? The
answer is none. Late in the game, after Rayne breaks one of her funky
tonfa-swords, they go to a weapons guy in the village to get another set. Weapons guy has an eighties-style shag and a moustache and looks nothing like Michael Pare; in fact, I didn't recognize him at all till he opened his mouth and that same lackluster line delivery came out. Oh yeah, that guy! He hands them the swords, then slips out the back door and is never seen again. Thanks for coming, Mike! For that little work, they must've paid him in loose change and Arbys coupons.

- Michael Madsen's death scene in the climax has to be seen to be
appreciated. Two vamps grab him by the arms and start gnawing on his
shoulders, but Mike's expression doesn't change at all. Evil Gandhi
thrusts his sword into Mike's chest and his expression STILL doesn't change as he slowly sinks to the floor. Maybe he thought this was just a rehearsal, either that or those nights on the town in Romania were really taking their toll...

-in the finale confrontation between Daddy and Daughter, classically
trained actor and thespian Ben Kingsley actually throws a Chuck
Norris-style side kick. Ladies and gentlemen, that alone was worth the
price of admission right there. Now, if I can only see Sir Anthony Hopkins work a nunchuk, just once, I'll die a happy man.

With everyone dead (sorry if I gave that away), Bloodrayne sits down in her daddy's Barcalounger and gets this wacky gleam in her eye. Which I guess means "I'm remembering a lot of stuff..." and gives Uwe an excuse to run a best-of reel with the most gory killings from the movie. See the blood splatter, see the guts cut open, see the arms hacked off one more time. It's like watching the whole movie over again, only without the annoying dialogue. Finally, after way too much of this, we get back to Rayne on her chair, and she smiles at us. Then we see her ride away on her horse and the credits start to roll. What the hell?

As enjoyable as it is to see distinguished actors like Kingsley debase
themselves for a paycheck, I would much rather Uwe Boll embrace his inner hack and cast from within his own stratum in the movie business. 'Cause we all know there was only one man alive who's worthy to play the role of the King of the Vampires, and that man is...Steven Seagal! Sweet Jebus, if only we could have gotten those two together. What beautiful music they
would've made...


Monday, June 12, 2006


My iBook is coming home tonight! Wheeeee!!!!

And that's it for the moment. Just had to share.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Still iBook-less

Boy, what in the world did I do back in the days before computers? IBM Selectric was my best friend...and barring that, a decent ball-point pen and a yellow legal pad. I handwrote the first draft of Murder for Hire...printed out the 'finished' draft (the first of many) on an old dot matrix printer with corrogated sheets of paper that had to be separated by hand.

yeah, you young whippersnappers who've never known what it's like to live in a world without personal computers. I was tough. Walking miles and miles to school through icy blizzards type tough.

Now I'm a wimp. Without my iBook, there is no writing at home. I haven't had time to do anything at work that was non-work related, with the exception of this quick post I'm dashing out on break time. I feel...emasculated. Which is kind of weird since I'm a girl.

So I continue to wait for the call from the Apple Store, telling me that the operation has been successful and waiting for me to bring it home. Until then...anyone out there wanna do a guest post? It can be quick...it can be short. Or long if you have a lot to say. About any topic you want. I just hate the thought of my blog just sitting there without new posts...Yes, I've let it wither on the vine in the past, but that was when I didn't FEEL like writing. Now I do and I can't. Even if I exercise some of my old muscles to -- *gasp* -- handwrite something. I still can't post it.

And for all of you bloggers who I try and visit on a semi-regular basis...I will be back. I may not comment on every post that I've missed in the meantime, but I'll be there. Right now it's just hit and run visits, if I even get the time to hit in the first place. Sigh. I bet that Mr. Fab has 20 new posts about now...I'm just gonna rename him Mr. Prolific.

Seriously, though, folks. Any and all topics welcome.

Saturday, June 03, 2006

The Best Movies You Never Saw

Greetings, Culture Lovers: Guest blogger Dave here. I've been working so hard on my book this year that I haven't been going to the movies nearly enough - and cinematic deprivation is clearly taking its toll. To ease my pain, I can at least think about movies I have seen. Here's a list of some amazingly good movies I loved that nobody else seems to have seen. But they are all brilliant!

Dirty Pretty Things - A terrific little movie with great characters, set in London's immigrant underbelly. I don't even want to say more for fear of giving anything away, but I can say it stars Audrey Tautou (Amelie ) and Chiwetel Ejiofor (who played the Operative in Serenity). The title makes it seem smutty, but it isn't. (Still worth seeing, though)

Mirror Mask - From two towering artists: writer Neil Gaiman ( Sandman, Neverwhere, etc.) and illustrator Dave McKean – so how come I never heard about it until it had already come and gone? If you like movies like Spirited Away and Labyrinth, you'll love this. A real visual and imaginative delight.

Fire and Ice - Animator Ralph Bakshi, who did the 80s Lord of the Rings and Wizards teamed up with classic Conan painter Frank Frazetta to make this sword & sorcery flick. Dinosaurs, swordfights and scantily-clad jungle princesses – the perfect film.

Reefer Madness: The Musical - Frigging Hilarious! The music number set in a nightclub Heaven headlining Jesus is worth the price of admission alone. Damn – now I've got the music stuck in my head.

Lost Skeleton of Cadavra - I absolutely love this movie - One of the cleverest and funniest things I've ever seen: it's not just a modern send-up of 1950's sci-fi B-movies – it IS a B-movie! If you love MST3K, you'll love this. The bonus features on the DVD are entertaining too. Will they ever make the sequel like they promised? More retro fun is also available on their website.

The Commitments - I'm not sure if this counts – Didn't everybody see it? I better include it just in case, because everyone should see this brilliant Irish movie. The trials of a Northside Dublin Soul band. Hilarious, lots of heart with 0% treacle, great soundtrack, too. If you like this one, go see The Van and The Snapper, too; all of which are based on Roddy Doyle's Barrytown trilogy, which is a great read, too.

- Trippy indie flick that looks and feels like a documentary about some tech geek entrepreneurs working out of their garage, but it turns anxious and suspenseful when they realize they may have stumbled onto the secret of time travel –and that may not be a good thing… Feels fascinatingly (and disturbingly) real the whole time.

Pi - Primer just reminded me of this other indie sci-fi suspense flick. But you all saw it, didn't you? If not, why not make it a double feature?

Spirit of 76 - I know, you never heard of it, but this obscure little gem is so worth hunting for. Americans from the future time travel back to 1776 – only they accidentally wind up in 1976 instead and don't realize their mistake. 70's kitsch & humor abounds. Corny and sweet, and features not only David Cassidy AND Leif Garrett, but Moon Unit Zappa, Iron Eyes Cody (the crying Indian from the famous commercial) and Father Guido Sarducci. Still not sold? Okay, throw in Olivia D'abo, Tommy Chong, Carl Reiner and Barbara Bain as a hipster chick.

Evil Aliens - Exuberantly gory British indie sci-fi Horror flick. Red Dwarf and Texas Chainsaw Massacre fans alike will love it.

Dead Meat/Boy Eats Girl - Who knew there was not one but two Irish zombie flicks? And that both are terrific? Dead Meat is darker: think Mad cow disease meets Dawn of the Dead. Boy Eats Girl is more romantic comedy ( a Zom Rom Com, like Shaun of the Dead –which would also be on this list except, of course, you all saw it and loved it, right?)

Baraka - A visual opera. Roams the world in a wordless Buddhist meditation. Just an amazing cinematic experience. Totally worth seeing on the big screen if you can find it. (If you're in the Bay Area, the Red Vic Movie house in the Haight screens it often)

When Night is Falling - Just about the most romantic and sexy movie ever. A straitlaced French Canadian college professor finds herself unwillingly attracted to a free-spirited female circus performer. Quirky and beautiful.

24 Hour Party People - Stylish look at the 80's Madchester music scene. Very funny and innovative narration. You don't even have to like Joy Division's music to love this movie. Just like the way you don't have to be a Scottish heroin addict to love Trainspotting, another awesome movie.

The Acid House - And speaking of Trainspotting, here's another from the same motley crew who gave us that classic. A trilogy of Irvine Welsh stories; these have the same gritty Edinburgh feel even though the stories border on science fiction. Fooking deadly, likesay.

The Rapture - Why did everybody protest The Last Temptation of Christ that year when this devastating movie (which came out at the same time) was even more blasphemous, spookier, trippier and had some hot sex, too? It asks the question "Hey, what if those religious wingnuts who go door to door were RIGHT about the second coming?" –and why they'd still be wrong… (for more blasphelicious fun, see also Saved! – but I assume you all did already)

The Contender - A great peek inside Washington as a principled female (and Atheist!) senator gets nominated to become vice-president and endures a gauntlet during the confirmation process : vicious personal attacks and allegations of wild sexual misconduct in her past. Outstanding cast and characters in a gripping story.

Cowboy Bebop - Okay, you probably did see this one. After all it was based on a kick-ass Japanese animae series with awesome, quirky sci-fi bounty-hunter hipster heroes and the greatest theme song ever.

The Twilight Samurai I. Love. This. Movie. And you will, too. Believe it or not, it's a samurai flick you can take your girlfriend to, and she'll also love it – it's true. Hiroyuki Sanada was the bad-tempered samurai who beats the crap out of Tom Cruise in The Last Samurai, which was already enough to earn him our eternal gratitude. But you'll love him even more after seeing him in this movie. Not only are there some great samurai duels, but you'll actually care about the characters too. The only samurai movie that made me cry. Twice. Shut up.

Immortal Ad Vitam - If you liked the dizzying level of dystopian detail in The Fifth Element, but want more of a gloomy Blade Runner sensibility, give this French flick a shot. It's based on two of Enki Bilal's classic graphic Nikopol Trilogy novels, The Woman Trap and Gods in Chaos. Egyptian gods, corrupt politicians, and mysterious aliens rub shoulders with mutants, genetically-enhanced hammerhead assassins and revolutionary messiahs.

The Inner Tour - Should be required viewing for every American and Israeli alike. Israeli documentary filmmaker Ra'anan Alexandrowicz accompanies a Palestinian tour group on a three-day sight-seeing trip into Israel. A eye-opening look at the human face of real ordinary Palestinians and their very mixed, often surprising and touching views about Israel. An amazing, life-changing film that may alter your feelings about the Palestinian issue.

Six String Samurai - Just your typical story: a Buddy Holly-like hero who is a guitar-playing samurai (or perhaps a katana-wielding rockabilly star) wandering a post-apocalyptic southwest, encountering Russian Elvises, suburban cannibals and other odd perils in his search for the fabled holy city of Las Vegas. If you like it, you might also like The American Astronaut, a very odd grainy black & white retro-spaceman musical.

Alright, that's plenty from me already. How about you? Any overlooked treasures to recommend?

DOUBLE sigh...

well, my beloved iBook is in the shop. Not under warranty. Something to do with the logic board or something else. Dunno exactly what, but whatever it is, it will cost $300 to fix. Apple's flat rate repair. Which could either work in my financially favor or cost me a lot of extra dough when the part in question is worth five bucks and they spend five minutes installing it.

Oh well.

Better my computer be ill and in the shop to the tune of $300 than one of my cats be ill to the tune of any amount of money. That's my attitude and I'm sticking to it.

Unfortunately it means that I am sans computer for 5-10 business days. And while sometimes I have spare time at work to write quick posts, lately it's been busy busy busy and I haven't had the time to spare. Right now I'm using Dave's computer 'cause he's taking a break from his work.

Dave is also going to do a guest post on my blog. He has his OWN blog at www.davefitzgerald.blogspot.com, but is using that for updates on his project and speaking engagements and doesn't feel it's a proper forum for posts about movies. And since all the BEST bloggers seem to be getting guest writers, I want one too!

But we'll have to use Firefox instead of Safari as the internet connection 'cause Safari is very limited in what it'll let you do when you're creating a post. For instance, there's no way to create a hyperlink. What the hell is that about, Safari?

Anyway...I'm gonna wander off and unpack boxes since I'm a: done with CHILL (HAHAHAHAh!) and b: have to give up the computer again.

Enter your email address below to subscribe to Zhadi's Den!

powered by Bloglet